What to do with wild garlic

A quick post in response to questions and requests I’ve had from sharing our wild garlic foraging and eating adventures.

My boys are born foragers. Once they’ve be shown something in the wild that’s edible they lock it into their memory bank and recognise it forevermore. They even pre-empt the timing of each plant’s season and start hunting just at the time it’s about to spring forth.  It’s impressive.

This year, in a new area and with the lengthy Winter we had, we’ve been a bit lost as to what we’re looking for and where to find it.  Well, I have!  They are totally tuned in still.  ‘It must be time for wild garlic,’ said my eldest over breakfast a couple of weeks ago.  We didn’t know where to look so we asked a neighbour and following his instructions found a huge patch and a gorgeous walk pretty much on our doorstep.

Coming home with a basket and all of N’s pockets stuffed full, I decided I needed to broaden my wild garlic use or we’d never get through it all.  Pesto is our first call. So easy and it keeps well, plus I’ve finally landed on a recipe I really love.  This year we’ve also added wild garlic to focaccia (this has to be the biggest winner), to dhals, to soups and stirred it through pasta and stir fry dishes right at the end.  This weekend I’ve got a roasted veg tart on the menu so a handful will go in there too.  It’s all kinds of awesome anywhere you’d have used spinach or chard and you get the added benefit of a kick of garlic.

Don’t forget the flower buds.  They’re all peeking out now here.  Chomp one of the those for a fiery garlic experience and throw them in along with the leaves.  Somebody told me the flowers aren’t so good to eat once the bud has opened?  I can’t verify that since they’ve not opened here yet.

There were many requests for the pesto recipe, so here that is.  Super easy and totally delicious.

 

Wild garlic and basil pesto

When I started making pesto with our foraged wild garlic a few years back I was following a River Cottage recipe – in fact, I may have posted that one on here before.  It replaced pine nuts with walnuts and, as with most wild garlic pesto recipes, it was purist in it’s use of just wild garlic as the green ingredient.  No basil.  It was fine but the walnuts made it a little bitter and I missed the fragrant basil so I invented my own version year on year and this is where I’ve ended up. Makes roughly a jam jar sized amount

Ingredients

40g wild garlic leaves, washed
A good handful of basil leaves
30g pine nuts (or go down the walnut route if you like)
30g parmesan (sometimes I’ve used other strong hard cheese – there must also be a vegan option you could sub in)
80ml extra virgin olive oil
A good pinch or two of sea salt
A grind of black pepper

 

Method

Food processor: throw in the leaves, half the pine nuts, the parmesan (broken into smaller chunks) and the salt and pepper and blend while pouring the oil into the spout.  When it looks like it’s all combined and there are no whole leaves left, stir in the remaining pine nuts and spoon into a sterilised jar, covering the top with a layer of more olive oil to preserve it.

By hand: pop the leaves, half the pine nuts, the parmesan (broken into smaller chunks) and the salt and pepper into a mortar and pestle and grind until you get the consistency you’re after.  Stir in the remaining pine nuts and spoon into a sterilised jar, covering the top with a layer of more olive oil to preserve it.

It doesn’t last long in our house.  I’m putting it on everything at the moment and – bonus – I saw off a cold in 24 hours this week so I’d highly recommend that.  I’m not sure how long it’ll last in the fridge but I’ve kept it for a week or two in the past.  Just keep the top covered with oil.

(I’m not going to lie – I’ve no time for taking pretty pictures today unfortunately so this is one I’ve grabbed from last year!)

The great thing about seeking wild garlic out in the wild is that you can smell it a mile off, so you’re unlikely to mistake something non-edible for it. Do check through your pickings though because we’ve found other plant life sneaks in, particularly when eager grabby hands are picking. Happy foraging!

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Post-move mindfulness

I tend to need a strong base in order to reach out into the world and do my thing.  Well, do anything really.  This past year I’ve had anything but.  Happily, everything is settling now and I’m beginning to feel the very beginning of rootedness but there’s still quite a way to go.  This week with it’s big, messy upheaval at home from builders when we’d only just started to feel like we had some kind of homely order sent me into a spin.  The rootedness is coming but there’s still quite a way to go.

It’s a bit like putting your tent up in high winds.  You think you’re getting somewhere when a sudden gust pulls it out of your hands and rips up a few other tent pegs on the way.

I’ve been thinking really consciously about what I need, to feel as grounded as I can be and trying to do those things.  It’s easy to make them into a big list alongside the already enormous just-moved-in, renovating house, getting-to-know-our-new-area one and heaping on the overwhelm.  Not so helpful.  I’m very much attempting not to do that by lovingly letting it go every time I drop a ball.

It’s been particularly tricky to find the time, space and energy to focus on my work given that I naturally draw upon my usual solid base to do it, but the need to tend to it stirs in my belly several times a day and I need to find a way to answer the call.

So, I’m sat at my table in an unusually quiet new house, with tea, candlelight, my journal and the laptop drawing in my focus and getting on with things.  I paid the deposit last week on the location of this summer’s Mother Wild Camp and we have such good soulful stuff planned that I have to get it out there.

 

Before that though, in case it’s helpful, here’s my guide to how I’m attempting to get rooted post-move and while life and house are in a state of flux.  I’d love to know how you do it.

 

Ahimsa

In my twenties, I practised yoga with a wonderfully warm and wise yoga teacher called Erica.  She was and is the epitome of the deep-rooted yogi and wise woman.  I had no idea what she was teaching me at the time but I knew to listen and listen well.  What came out of her mouth was golden.  All these years later her words continue to float back to me on the breeze when I need them.

Last week I was despairing at something and beginning a train of self-talk which was in no way helpful, when the word ‘ahimsa’ came into my head.  When she first talked to me about this first limb of yoga I doubt I fully got it.  These days, having carried it around for a good decade, it’s settled into my unconscious to the extent that I realise what she was on about.  ‘Ahimsa’ is said to be the practice of non-violence to self and others.  It’s meaning runs deep and I can’t do it justice here, except to say it’s worth thinking about.  When I sit with it consciously in times of stress and overstretch it helps me make better choices for myself.  Non-violence to self, to me, means kindness within.  It’s holding myself gently, catching my inner voice before it turns negative and putting down the stick, always.  It looks like softening my gaze, moving more slowly, being methodical and seeking out the light in a situation.  It sounds like gentle words, inside and out, and reassuring myself like I would my child.  It feels like tending to what I need to refresh and refuel and get up again.  It means allowing all the feelings and sometimes allowing balls to drop in order to process all I need to.

The world moves at quite a pace and in the age of social media comparison we sometimes feel we have to constantly be moving or be left behind.  When I catch myself there, ‘ahimsa’ sees me pausing, waiting, breathing, choosing my own pace, my own definition of movement.  Sometimes it means achieving less  to feel better. It’s self-care in all the ways, not just the instagrammable ways.

 

Children first

With this move being a relocation, there have been so many layers of needs that it’s hard to know which to begin with.  I very much subscribe to the ‘fit your own oxygen mask first’ school of thought and I’ve probably been doing that on some level, but post-move I’ve felt strongly that the primary need has been to settle the children first.  As a grown-up who has experienced a lot of change I know the process well.  The familiar untetheredness doesn’t last too long in the scheme of things and I know we’ll reach firmer ground in time.  Our children, having lived in the same place since they were born, don’t have the benefit of my experience and I’ve wanted to give them a good model of living through big change.  So it’s there needs I’ve turned to first.

Re-establishing rhythms and routines, finding familiarity, following the signs for what they need.  I’m blessed with an 8 year old who gives me a running commentary of how he feels.  Sometimes it’s tiring but it’s been so helpful in gauging what they need because he’s a good barometer of his slightly less vocal little brother’s feelings too.

They’re missing friends, family and normality understandably and it’s been clear what they need most is a new normal.  I think that comes naturally to some degree but things I’ve been doing to help it along is normal stuff like grocery shopping, garden centre visits, planting seeds for them to keep a watch over, giving them roles and jobs – favourites are feeding the birds and using their garden cart to transport things from car to house.  We’ve taken time to get to know our neighbours and the neighbourhood dogs, resulting in being invited along on dog walks (perfect for my two who eagerly await their first puppy in a few months) and over to play with neighbour’s grandchildren.  We’ve begun swimming lessons, signed up to forest school and said a grateful yes to all play date requests.  After 6 weeks there is an early sense of having some of ‘our people’ around us and of the children being seen, recognised and known.  They love that.  It’s a real strength of theirs that they embrace it so.

Building something for them into the stuff I need for myself has been great for us all.  While I try to stick with an almost-daily yoga and meditation (seriously the main thing that has kept me in a good place these past few months), they are loving their morning Cosmic Kids sessions, discovered via a convo in Melanie’s wonderful new facebook group.  Sometimes I forget to go and use the time for myself because I love watching them.

 

Nourishing evenings

As part of the ‘ahimsa’ thing and having tended to the boy’s needs, I’m trying to fully gift myself the evenings.  We have no dishwasher until we re-do the kitchen and while we’re getting started on the renovations of this lovely old house some areas feels such a mess, so it’s tempting to spend whole evenings doing, doing, doing.  But to be honest, with the artexed ceilings, anaglypta wallpaper and burgundy carpets it feels a little bit like squatting regardless of how much time I put into organising it so sometimes I’m letting it go in favour of what I really need.  I took some books out of the library (that’s another thing the boys are loving, regular trips there) and I’m sometimes sinking into fiction (something I’ve been missing), early nights, quiet time, whatever my soul needs.  And yes, sometimes it does need an hour on Pinterest building up a lovely picture of how this place will look one day.  I’m telling you, it does 🙂

 

Planning kindly

There’s a lot to do and a trip out to find something we need can take five times as long as it would have done back in Kent where we knew the places to go to get stuff, so it’s easy to feel like there are not enough hours in the day.  In all honesty I’ve been feeling that since becoming a parent anyway, but it’s even stronger right now.  Happily I’m a virgo and I love lists and plans so I have a notebook taped to my side always at the mo.  I’m doing my best to get it all out of my head into some kind of order while recognising that there are helpful lists and lists to beat yourself with.  We’re having none of the latter!

Planning kindly has become the thing.  Parking anything too big or with too many questions surrounding it and working with the list that feels possible.  Allowing it to unfold rather than flogging myself.  Taking huge delight in any progress even if something is unravelling behind me.

 

And when all of that doesn’t work, going to hide somewhere with a cup of tea, a squirt of recue remedy and messaging the friends I miss is the thing.

 

I’d love for you to add any of your tips for getting re-grounded in the comments here and if you’re in a similar place to me I’m sending hugs of solidarity.  We can do this.  We were made for it.

 

If you’re keen to hear about our Mother Wild Camp plans, head over here to hop onto our mailing list because we’ll open it up to subscribers first, likely in the next week or so.

 

 

Rituals to help us through…

After a long time away, my writing voice came calling this week, sparked by a conversation with my friend Hannah about the overwhelm and triggers that fall out of house moves and big life changes.  While messaging with her, I wrote that I find moving SUPER unsettling.  On top of that, I’m really excited about lots of it… but the trouble with that?  Too much excitement is SUUUPER unsettling for me as well. Double whammy.

It’s always interesting when the truth spills out of you on to the page or screen.  I had a moment of clarity.  Ah ok so that’s how I’m feeling.

Add to that a fair few layers of loss and impending loss (my dear Nanna is only just hanging on with us right now, we’ll soon be leaving family and friends when we move and our beloved school is closing) and the picture builds.  It seems that overwhelm, uprootedness and daily rounds of ALL the emotions are here to stay awhile and this is what I’m noticing…

Small things like clothes left on the bathroom floor are really bothering me.  As is noise, which is inescapable in my house.  Not my usual way, but I’m needing acres of quiet, order and alone time to process and unpack all the feelings.  Sometimes I’m not making the most loving choices for myself which puts my inner voice on a trajectory that’s not helpful or kind.  It can feel like floating and spinning and losing contact with the ground.  It shows up as low patience, self-doubt, over-sensitivity and zero headspace for small talk.  Man, I must be a joy to live with right now.

Moving house, loss and endings tend to trigger us all in some way or another.  They are big life events and even if some of them come about by choice, it’s so very normal to be unsettled and overwhelmed by them.  There’s probably no avoiding the stuff that gets thrown up.  It becomes about how we weather it, how we support ourselves and what we make the stuff mean.

The irony of writing this is that a few days ago I could not have voiced what I was doing to support myself – it was so unconscious.  I might’ve assumed I was doing nothing at all.  Having a conversation with somebody in a similar headspace helped me see what I was doing and, crucially, what I’ve been missing.

So, I’m sharing here my ways of seeing myself through this period of change.  Maybe they’re strategies, but that word feels a bit heady and clinical.  I’m choosing instead to call them rituals.  Rituals that are supportive and loving and, in some respects, sacred – repeated for as long as they’re needed.  They might serve as a pick and mix for others in unsettling times.  And if you have any to add I’d love to hear them.

Keeping on top of the small stuff

I can cope with my head being a mess if I can look around and see order.  My house hasn’t reached virgo levels of tidiness in at least a decade.  My little and big housemates don’t share that impulse with me.  But right now, keeping floors and surfaces relatively clear, being on top of the washing, having the fridge well-stocked, ticking off the jobs – it all helps me to feel there’s some order in the chaos.

 

Parking anything it’s not time for

Like the packing.  Who wants to spend Christmas surrounded by boxes?  Unless you have to, of course, but we don’t.  Our move will likely go through late January so we can afford to just live in our house during December and enjoy our last Christmas here before the boxes roll in.

My friend tells me to investigate a packing service.  When she made a long distance move, the cost of the packing service didn’t really add much to the removal cost.  I don’t know if that will be the case with our move but… imagine!

 

Hibernating as needed (but knowing when it’s enough)

Quiet alone time at home is like oxygen right now.  Time and space to potter, plan, think and feel does a lot for my mental state.  Too much though and the inner dialogue can go awry.  I don’t get much child-free time anyway but when I do I’m trying to be discerning about what I need.  Hibernate at home or roam outside?  I could really do with a short-term loan of someone’s dog.  The last time I had this much change and loss in one go I literally walked my way through it; pounding streets, paths and beaches with my dog.

 

Doing what I know comforts me

Big pots of warming, comforting food.  Lighting the fire.  Piling on woolie jumpers.  Reading and listening to words that touch my soul.  Going to bed super early.  Sometimes taking the laptop to escape into Poldark or The Crown.  Pinning ideas for our new home.  Snuggling up for storytime with my boys.  Knitting a jumper for my littlest love.

 

Simplifying

Oh I had big plans for Autumn/Winter/Advent/Christmas crafting and creating, at home and within my work.  But.  It took me a while, but I did eventually learn that when you have enough on your plate, you take things off rather than pile more on.

My lovely friend Sara and I, when our babies were little, used to talk a lot about low expectation days.  We’d gift them to ourselves when we were in massive overwhelm, which was quite often with two babes who hardly slept.  Well, right now, I’m gifting myself a season of low expectation days.  We’ll do some of the stuff I dreamt up, but not all and that will be just fine.

 

Natural support

Increasingly my home feels like an apothecary (and I couldn’t be happier about it!).  What I’m reaching for at the moment are: warming, spicy, gingery teas to chase off the cold I’ve had, green smoothies and plenty of beetroot and other roots for chi-boosting, blood-building qualities.  I know of old the ways in which stress depletes my body.  I’m about to top up on herbs from my dear herbalist friend Jodie.  Her herbal tincture mixes for nervous system support have seen me through many times of stress or change.  Rose (for grief), Avena (for soothing) and Borage (for courage) often feature strongly in my personal mixes.  I’m also trying to make sure I’m getting my b vits because a battered nervous system will need them.  I prefer to get what I need through my diet but since I eat largely plant-based a supplement is sometimes helpful.  At the mo, popcorn with Himalayan salt and nutritional yeast (source of b vits) is a big favourite in our house.

When I come up against big emotional stuff I head to my homeopath.  And daily I’m getting huge benefits from diffusing and applying essential oils.  I signed up with dōTERRA* a few months back and I’m finding it truly awe-inspiring to have blends that uplift, calm, ground and support me in my arsenal.  They’re doing wonders for the whole household.  And then there’s my mainstay… Epsom salt baths for the win.

(*Not an ad but this page links to my account, meaning I get a commission for orders placed through it)

 

Could do more of…

For all I’m doing, it’s mostly in snatched moments in and around the busyness of life with two children, alongside moving house paperwork and hospital visiting.  I could do with doing a little more of all of it.  It’s one thing picking up the herbs but I need to consistently take them.  I’ve been feast and famine with yoga and doing zero meditiation.  One day I will nail these as daily practices, I will, I will.

 

Seeing ahead

Whenever I’ve stood in the middle of a life storm I’ve known that I have a choice.  To get whipped up and carried away by the stuff and busyness and the emotion of it.  Or to be in it while holding onto the knowledge that there’s an end point somewhere.  It will all settle down again.  It will look very different when it does, but it will look how it’s supposed to.  And I’ll walk around in the new normal and be grateful for both what came before and the shift to what is now.

I’ve been imagining a time in the early Spring when the storm has blown itself out, when the Winter is slipping away and I walk out of my new house with many of the goodbyes I’m right now anticipating (dreading?) behind me and I see shoots of green poking through the soil in my new garden.  And I breathe out.  I breathe into the newness and begin to feel settled again.  As a visualisation it’s really working for me.  I really look forward to returning to a place of feeling settled, though for now I’ll root into today as much as I can.  For all it’s unsettledness and times when I want to hide in a cupboard, it’s still all pretty awesome, this journey of mine.

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I’m just thinking that writing should join the list somewhere. It’s been a really help to write all this down.  Hurrah for the writing impulse returning!  Thought I’d scared it off for good this time.

I’d love for you to share any tips or rituals you have for helping yourself get through in the comments below, if you’d like to.    And if you’re going through all the changes at the moment, give a wave – we could form a virtual circle of support  xo

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gathering and tending (a work in progress)

Here we go, a few words about what I’m working on.  Grabbing them quickly and laying them down here before they whoosh off and desert me again!

Cup insta

I’m at the very beginning of creating something that’s straight from my heart and something I feel the world needs more of and it feels really good.  It’s about women.  In this case specifically mothers – gathering together in wild, wholehearted support of one another, in all our sameness and differences.

A place and a time to sit in the feminine energy of a gathering of mums, feel a hint of the ‘village’ we’re all missing and take care of our own needs for a while.

Because they are many, these needs of ours.

Us mums, we do so much.  We hold so much.  We fill all the cups of the little and big people we love.  And we leave filling our own to the end of the day or week or month, when we maybe squeeze in a little bit of self-care, making only a small dent, but often it’s all we can manage.

While within us there lie parts of ourselves waiting for some tending.  Our bodies want to rest or stretch or move and our minds want to be opened; without too much effort on our part ideally, because we’re TIRED.  Our creativity wants a fling out in the open.  Our soul craves something, anything really, to nourish us.

In our busy, exhausting and, yes, joyful days it feels a tiny bit selfish to think of our own needs.  We’re told subliminally all the time that we’re supposed to be superwoman. And maybe we already are in some ways.

But I know this…

Tending our own needs has a further reach than we realise. Our families reap what we sow. When we go back to them, having felt seen and heard and understood and having played with some ways of unravelling our minds and our tired shoulders and our bunched up creative urges, they see a mum recharged with a lighter step and a twinkle in her eye. And they LOVE that.

I know, because I’ve seen it with my own eyes.  It’s hard to step away, to leave them in order to honour my self, but I see the lovely shift reflected in their eyes when I walk back through the door.  Mummy is back.  She’s the same but different.  And everything is good.

tabletop fb profile

I’m going to begin offering some workshops and retreats for mums over the coming months.  To start with they’ll be in Kent, but I’ll later think about travelling them around a bit.  I used to run some, pre-children, and applying the motherhood filter has taken them into a whole new realm.  In my bones, I know that we’ve never needed stuff like this more.  No mum should feel competed with, unsupported, lonely, hemmed in or dog tired all the time.  I’m hoping that through these ‘days off’ I’m going to offer, through some online stuff I hope to create and a lot of tribe-building social-media-ing we can bring something supportive and nourishing to mums who want and need it.  Because mums need nurturing too.

Join me on Instagram with  #nurturethemothers,  a fledgling hashtag project celebrating our moments of self care, and register your interest for retreats, workshops and other things in the works at www.mothernurturemotherwild.co.uk

sunday (free-from) pancakes

  
This pic, straight from my insta, and the briefest, hastiest blog post before I forget the (surprisingly good) pancake recipe I made up this morning. I know they’re going to ask for them over and over so I can’t let this recipe go the way of so many forgotten inventions of days past!

Apple and Cinnamon, dairy-free, spelt and almond pancakes

180g spelt flour (I used the ‘white’ variety that isn’t really white but has less bits in)

70g ground almonds

2 tsp baking powder

Pinch of sea or Himalayan salt

2 large eggs

1 apple, grated

Sprinkle of cinnamon to your taste (as in, I’ve no idea how much we put in because I left it to my 4 year old!)

We measured the dry ingredients in a wide-mouthed batter jug, the wet ingredients in another. Combined the two and blitzed with a stick blender – easily done by hand but we were HUNGRY – stirred in the apple and cinnamon and then just put two tablespoons-ish at a time in the oiled pan, flipping them when the bubbles rose and popping them in a low oven to keep warm.

If you’re totally dairy-free, coconut oil is your best bet I’d imagine. We often use that. But we tolerate butter fine and my hand reached for that this morning. Either way, I think they’re a winner. 

Happy Sunday!

Going ‘back to work’ is mildly terrifying and we probably need to talk about it more

A bit of background: I’m a coach.  I ran my own business for 8 years or so, combining high level corporate coaching with personal coaching.  Heart-warming, cup-filling work which made a difference to people and earned me a good living.  I loved it in so many ways, but as my firstborn reminded me, loudly and clearly when he arrived, it wasn’t ALL of me. The way I wanted to mother him (gently, attached, consciously) didn’t sit as easily alongside the work as I’d imagined it would.  After almost 2 years of juggling work and family I chose to take a career break.  It was hard to shut down what I’d worked so hard on and I cried over it, but it was also so right for us then and I have never regretted it for even one second. Another son and 5 years later, we have all felt the benefit. I am changed because I allowed motherhood to change me – I’m pretty sure it was supposed to – and I’m happier and more whole than I’ve ever been.

Still, while it’s been the very best thing to have had a chunk of years to be all about mothering (and I’m so grateful this was even a possibility for us), it wasn’t intended to be a forever choice.  I always knew I’d journey back to work when it felt right and that call has been coming through.

So a journey back to work is on the cards, but, in fact, forwards rather than back.  Because there is no going back, I don’t believe. Not for me.  Intense experience changes us and while we can go back and put our old career back on like a suit, I’m not convinced that it always fits as well as it used to. At least, that’s how I’m feeling. And it’s ok to ask, ‘well, who am I these days and what do I give from where I stand now?’.

The answer has been a work in progress for a year or two. A hazy sense of knowing it wasn’t ‘this’ and it wasn’t ‘there’ but it might be ‘this’, perhaps with a bit of ‘that’. Foggy, unclear ideas and feelings; coded messages from my heart to my mind that took a while to decipher. But I’ve gone with it and I have an answer. I have a thing I’m going to do.

It’s not completely new – kind of an evolved version of what I did before combined with a heap of new stuff.  It has threads that speak to every piece of meaningful work I’ve ever done.  It’s a response to a wonder I’ve long held.  It’s for people I would gladly spend my life upholding because I believe in their awesomeness (it’s for Mums).

It feels important. It’s everything I want to do work-wise right now. And it’s really quite scary!

Because it’s big and we don’t talk about this ‘back to work’ stuff enough.

New work and starting a business is big in itself.  But restarting, reworking, relaunching, redesigning, re-entry into the world of work as a mum after a long time out – something that most of us do at some point in our journey – gosh, it’s HUGE. Add to the mix that it’s something you care deeply about and you still have your family to care for and… whoa!

Like much of motherhood, there’s this weird societal norm that says we should just get on with this big transition quietly and not make too much of a fuss.  Well, I’m not sure I’m buying that.  We need to talk about this.  We need to honour the uniqueness of the part of the mothering journey where we begin to move away ever so slightly.  And we need to hold a space for each other while we navigate it. If it’s exciting or terrifying, if it’s exhausting and messy – we need the space to say that it is. Hearing it makes people realise their own fears are normal and maybe stops them burying their thing before it’s grown wings.

And so, in the manner of a slightly wired friend who left her filter at home, I’m just going to do an emotional download on the subject. I know a few mums – in real life and on Insta – who are in the process of getting back to work at the same time as me and it might help them to read it. If nothing else it’ll quieten my head down and free me to get on!

All the scary things about restarting my career/business


I’m starting from zero. Again.
Standing at the beginning of something fresh and new is great in so many ways.  And it’s also hugely daunting. Having stood here before, at the beginning of creating something, I know how much work it’s going to take. Working for myself was by far the most rewarding way I found of working, but it was also the most demanding.  The first time around I had no concept of what was ahead.  I wonder if it would have scared me off?  This time I need to take the leap knowing all about what I’ll need to put in.  The thought gives me butterflies.  Have I got it in me a second time around?

Where the heck do I find all the time?
I mutter this often.  When I’ve written an epic list which’ll take me ten times the available window I have to work that day, I feel massively overwhelmed.  There’s a lesson in allowing the rest of life to dictate the pace.  There are only so many hours in a day or week when my little loves don’t need me. Sometimes those hours are all that are available.  I’m learning to just go with them.  Balancing the odd late-night working with early nights the rest of the week. Calling in some daddy-daycare when it’s possible.  I try to tell myself it’ll take as long as it takes and that has to be ok.  Pre-children timeframes were very different, but these are the ones I have now so I’ll work with them.

Meanwhile, I do mental things like committing to a date and deciding I’m going to build my own website.
I don’t even know what to say about this.  It just seemed like the right thing to do!  Predictably it sparked a mass freak-out.  Luckily I have a husband who thinks I’m invincible and is great at pep talks, a web designer friend who made it seem easy and the dogged determination I see in my four year old.  So I guess we’ll just see how that pans out? (Help!)

Putting myself out there feels all kinds of vulnerable
There’s been a simplicity in being a full-time mum.  Not needing to put myself out there for anything much has been a luxury.  With no need to sell myself or anything else, I could just be myself. It’s been a healing place to sit.  Just me in the world.  No cloak around my shoulders. The work I’m creating comes from this place; from having been able to be my whole self without playing any corporate games.  And when I step out there to offer it up, it will be just me, in the world, offering something I care about.  That’s where the fear kicks in.  The vulnerability of putting myself out there with an open heart, no protection cloak, and allowing my self to be seen… oh wow, somebody give me a shot of courage please!

There will be sacrifices
I’ve had the luxury for a few years of never really having to say ‘no I can’t do that, dear child of mine, because I have to work’. And so beginning to say it has felt strange and uncomfortable.  The confused looks and the slight disappointment.  Ouch, it’s hurt a little bit.  I’m aware that to make space there’ll be times when I’m pulling away and while I don’t love the idea of that, I’m reminding myself of the other side. I’m raising two boys, after all, and it’s my job to show them a life well-lived.  While I want to be by their sides, holding all the hands and reading all the stories, I also want to show them how to follow a path that matters to you. I want to find a way to show them that family and work can coexist happily when you’re mindful of balance. That work isn’t really work when you do something you love. That it all gives more than it takes away, for everybody. And so, I’m trying to embrace the small sacrifices here and there and keep in mind what it’s giving us all too.

I sometimes have to remember why I’m doing it
The fears, the mum guilt, the vulnerability – on certain days when the wind is blowing in the right direction they swirl around and put me in a negative headspace. I end up questioning it all, wondering if I’ve got my priorities entirely wrong. Those are the days I have to dig deep and remember my why. My why is that this work calls to me. It allows me and others to be creative and grounded, supported and well-resourced. It’s wholly about the good it does. My inner critic can be loud and harsh and I’m getting used to quelling it’s fears. It isn’t about succeeding or failing, it isn’t about it or me, it’s about them. It’s about showing up with something good to offer those who want it and doing the work well.

 

And so you see, I can talk myself into it and I can talk myself out of it at any given moment.  That might go some way to explaining why I feel like a crazy person some days.  Given I’m attempting this alongside finishing off my Handwork course (a portfolio of 2 year’s work!) I very possibly am crazy!  What it comes down to though is: it is a bit scary, there isn’t enough time, I’m feeling pulled in all directions, but somehow I’ll make it work because I have to.  I’m a driven, creative woman, who also happens to be a mum, and I need to honour that.

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I’m looking forward to sharing more of what I’m hatching here soon.  I don’t quite have the words yet, but they’re not far off.  And if you’re walking in similar shoes to me right now, beginning something exciting and scary which changes things at home, I see your inner crazy person and I raise you mine!  Comment if you feel like it and we’ll cheer each other on.

A slow, foraged and wild Mother’s Day

We’re usually really good at planning special days but there’s such a lot of life happening at the moment that we arrived yesterday at Mother’s Day morning with not a clue what we’d do with it.

I secretly love a completely empty day in which to follow where the mood takes us. They always turn out to be the best of days.

However, whose crazy idea was it to put the clocks forward on Mother’s Day? And why did I not remember this was happening until late on Saturday evening while sat around a table with a cocktail in my hand on an extremely rare night out with my lovely mum friends? We congratulated ourselves smugly on accidentally coinciding our long-intended-but-almost-impossible-to-arrange night off with Mother’s Day weekend. Yay us! Celebrate the mothers! And then somebody mentioned the clocks. Wide eyes as the realisation of late bedtime plus losing an hour to BST-madness dawned.

So when I was asked next morning (after being jumped on and loved on and given the most beautiful hand-stitched and hand-crafted gifts by my little loves) how I wanted to spend the day, my first thought was: napping? Oh how they laughed. So I went for my forever back up: a walk in the wilds with our little adventurers, a flask of tea in my hand and the promise of cake at some point. Totally my kind of bliss.

Two highlights happened. We played (I laid down) on a fallen tree / crocodile / sea serpent / dragon for ages under a blissfully warm sun, soaking up all the vit D it could give us. We walked a familiar path back and remembered halfway along that it was rampant with wild garlic. And there it was, the very thing I wanted from the day but didn’t know it. Little hands gathering, happy chattering and the promise and the satisfaction of a delicious, part-foraged pesto for dinner.

Special days with elaborate plans can be so lovely, but it’s not always what we need and I’m happy to be able to show my little ones that we can find any number of simple ways to make our special people smile and know they’re loved. Our slow, joyful, wild day was just exactly right for this mama. And maybe we just started a new tradition. Mother’s Day foraging for the win!


Wild Garlic Pesto – a not very scientific recipe

A large wodge of wild garlic leaves – I’m going to guesstimate around 30-40 big leaves

100g Organic Medium or Mature Cheddar (grated)

85g Walnut pieces

Handful of fresh basil leaves

1/4 teaspoon Himalayan or sea salt

Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Method

Wash your wild garlic leaves well and allow to drain. Pop them in the food processor with a really good slug of the oil, the walnuts and the salt. Switch it on and add more oil periodically to loosen as it becomes a paste. When almost fully combined add the grated cheese and whizz again. Transfer to a clean jar and pour a layer of the oil on top to help it keep for longer.


Hardcore pesto makers might prefer the authentic mortar and pestle method, but I can definitely say I am not one of them. Give me ease and speed and delicious pesto on the table within 5 minutes. I’ll find other things to be a hardcore purist about.

As far as I can tell, there’s not much this pesto isn’t good for. The boys always opt for pesto pasta and roasted veggies or cheese and pesto panini. Yesterday we had a thrown together Buddha bowl of quinoa, roasted carrot, beetroot and sweet potato, avocado, garlicky black beans (from this page), salad leaves and the pesto. So good, quite addictive and deeply satisfying that we’d foraged (part of) our dinner.