Raising Compassionate, Globally Conscious Children

Hippie in Disguise ro and sen Chassin Rideau Canal

Environmental Consciousness. Social Change. Mindfulness. Global Compassion. Minimalism. Holistic Living. Arts. Adventure. Education. Inspiration.

These are words that drive me, that I try to knit together in the way I live and in the way I raise my children. They are also words that perfectly describe the Global Guardian Project.

Last August I wrote about my friend Rebecca‘s new idea: The Global Guardian Project, a digital multimedia capsule for children and families that teaches about the world, global stewardship, sustainability, plants, animals, social and environmental activists, and lots more. The capsule is basically an interactive digital magazine for families to help learn more about the planet, country by country.

The intent of the Global Guardian Project is to expose ourselves and our children to the wide world of not just nature, but the intricate connections between human cultures and the ecosystems that support us, with the ultimate goal of helping us raise the next generation as global guardians, stewards of the planet.

Hippie in Disguise Rideau River Ottawa

With this in mind, the capsules are designed to educate, but also to inspire action. That is, to cultivate a greater caring for the earth and all its inhabitants and to inspire us to take small (and big) actions to improve the health of our planet for the collective good. The capsules were initially very popular with homeschooling and worldschooling families, as they cover a lot of science, geography, art and language curriculum, but they have also become popular with families seeking more enriching digital (“screen”) time and others just interested in learning more about the world. I should mention that while the capsules are digital, they can easily be printed, so if you are not keen on screen time then you can read the capsules the old fashioned way: on paper.

  • What is a learning capsule? Picture a digital magazine that is interactive, with videos to click and watch, art and activity downloads, links to TED talks and other resources, as well as beautiful photography, original art and lots of educational facts and information, interviews and more.

After receiving my first capsule I got even more excited about the project, there is really no resource like the Global Guardian Project out there. The multimedia format is unique and engaging. The content is interesting and inspiring. But most importantly, the core mission of the project: to raise a generation of global change makers by teaching children about how to care for the earth is so critical and close to my heart that I knew I wanted to be involved in helping the project grow. As the weeks and months passed I found myself suggesting ideas, writing content, working with contributors and generally being an all-around cheerleader for the project.

After noting my enthusiasm and my tendency to write a lot (sorry, for this long introduction, by the way..) Rebecca asked if I would like to be the Guest Editor for the upcoming capsule on Canada. To say I was excited would be an understatement. I said yes, though I invited my trusted writing (and life) partner, Matt, to plan and edit the issue with me. I invited some great thinkers, artists and friends to help out too: artist Erin Wetzel, nutritionist Kylah Dobson and permaculture farmer Zach Loeks. Together, with the team of Global Guardian Project regulars, we put together an amazing interactive digital magazine.

Global guardian Project Homeschool Curriculum Canada Animals Plants

And….the issue is now available for purchase from Global Guardian Project’s website either as a single issue (“a la carte”) or as part of their monthly subscription program. If you subscribe, you save considerably, and you get the advantage of building on learning each month, especially with the world map activities. As well, you can cancel at any time, even after one issue.

Here’s a little preview:

Each capsule is comprised of:

  • Over 50 pages of facts and information covering the country basics like size and geography, endangered animals and how we can help them, indigenous plants, related vocabulary and definitions for new words like (fossil, aerodynamic, habitat and so on), book reviews, and much more.
  • Videos showing children taking action in their local communities, for example by helping turtles.
  • Healthy, local recipes and demonstration videos
  • Profiles of activists, ecological leaders and inspiring people from the featured country to inspire action
  • A podcast guided meditation appropriate (and fun) for children and families
  • Art projects and downloads, such as colouring sheets
  • Map projects and other interactive activities
  • Lots more!

I hope you’ll consider buying one for yourself or someone in your life. While the capsules are geared to children (ages 3 and up), homeschoolers and teachers, lots of adults have been saying they enjoy them and have learned a lot from reading them. If you know Matt, then you know he has a knack for finding really cool facts and stories about natural phenomena. Keep in mind, the capsules make a great last minute gift for any occasion, since there is no delivery time.

  • You can buy the Canada edition ($16.99) or subscribe to the series for $13.49 per month, using my discount code HIPPIEINDISGUISE.
  • If you subscribe by January 14th, 2017 you will receive the Canada capsule, if you subscribe after you will get the Sri Lanka capsule, since a new capsule is released to subscribers on the 15th of each month.

You can read more about the Global Guardian Project here, you can visit their website here, find them on Instagram @globalguardianproject. If you sign up for their email list you’ll get a free mini capsule about Ocean Life. Why not try it out?!

Any questions, please leave a comment below.

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Let’s be friends! Please come find me in other places:

In the News: Project Calm, Mindfulness through Making

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A few months ago I was approached to contribute to a new magazine titled Project Calm, a mindful magazine for creative types. Project Calm is all about “mindfulness through making”. It was an honour to be asked to contribute as mindful creativity is to close to my heart and soul. It’s also serendipitous that the magazine was launched during the Slow Living month focused on nurturing, given the magazine aims to help busy folk slow down and nurture themselves through craft, encouraging us all to channel our energies into creating mindful beauty.

Bringing mindfulness to craft and creativity is so important (which I wrote a little about here, in relation to picking flowers and making flower crowns), both in terms of the personal, spiritual and mental health benefits of mindfulness, but also the environmental benefits of being mindful about how and what we create. I am always inclined to create from natural materials as much as possible, so that our projects have no waste from packaging and is fully compostable (for example, Ro’s halloween Mother Nature costume, made from real leaves, or our holiday Botanical Advent).

For this first issue of Project Calm, I contributed my Real Flower Temporary Tattoos tutorial. It is so exciting to see my work in print!

GIC_08_p8-9_naturenews_72dpiCopies are almost sold out, so if you’d like one order soon. They are available for purchase here.

Here’s a little sample of what you’ll find in the issue among the four sections covering Home, Nature, Travel and Mind & Body:

  • Paper-based crafts to make, colour & create
  • Positive features to inspire and enrich
  • Case studies and profiles of successful creatives
  • Travel, retreats and courses to try
  • Papercutting template on card
  • Paper animal kits
  • Poster with floral illustrations

Or, you can take a look at the preview here…

 

Thank you to my friend Erin, the florist, who collected discarded petals and flowers for my tattoo project. And, thank you to Kate for connecting my work to the folks at Project Calm.

Let’s be friends! Please come find me in other places:

Artist Profile: Kara Rane and her Cosmic Circles

Sen, by our bedroom window, enjoying the colours shine through two layered cosmic circles by artist Kara Rane. Such a fun, creative, open ended play thing. I always wonder what he’s thinking about. [ Sen’s necklace is from Tribal Dreaming “Earth Warrior” and his leggings are organics from Mabo ]

I remember well what my passions were when I was a child: drawing and arranging things artfully, dancing, playing in the forest, and (as crazy as it sounds) I was passionate from as early as I can remember about environmental protection. But I also remember thinking from very young that none of these passions could be an adult pursuit. (How wrong I was!!) I somehow thought that happiness came from things, from comforts, and that I couldn’t have those things (and thus happiness) without money. Since the statistical likelihood of earning money as an illustrator, artist or tree hugger seemed quite slim, I decided to be practical and enter a traditional, remunerative profession in order to find myself in a context that would afford me things, and thus enable happiness. Well, surprise ending: Things don’t make you happy. Passions do. People do. 

Today, I’m happy to share with you the story of a woman who knew and followed her passions throughout her life and has been able to provide for herself and her family what they need to sustain themselves and their happiness. Kara Rane is an artist, world traveller, and mother of one, who makes beautiful artwork inspired by her deep connection and reverence for the earth. She and her partner have a small homestead nestled in supportive community committed to sustainable living. What a beautiful environment in which to raise a child! I put much hope in children raised in such an environment for their future contributions to community and sustaining our planet. But I know that us urban dwellers living in the mainstream can also play our part in raising our children differently, it might just be a little harder to drown out the distractions, noise and clutter. But we can do it too!

Whether you are living rurally or in an urban setting I think Kara’s passion for art and sustainability will inspire you to find ways to nourish yourself and your family with creativity and the natural world. I hope so!

Dear Kara, please tell me a little bit about yourself. What is your background?

I grew up at 6,000 feet in the mountains of Southern California, in a log home.  Nature was a huge part of my childhood, and I found my favorite places to be were among the trees, streams, lakes & wilderness.  I also love the ocean so I decided to attend the University of California at Santa Barbara (studying Environmental Science and Art studio) where I could live by the sea.

I am deeply connected to the natural world, but my curiosity compelled me to explore urban life and I lived in San Francisco and New York City.  Having a passion for travel, I also lived for a time in the Caribbean on a tiny remote island, trekked the Himalayas of Nepal, returned to my native Nordic countries, explored Thailand and Vietnam and have road tripped throughout parts of the United States.  All of these experiences I was able to manage on only the money I earned. At times it was a daunting task as often I found myself with nothing other than my creativity to survive.

What part of the world do you live in?

We live in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Northern California on a 6 acre homestead. We have an organic and heirloom orchard of 44 trees, an organic hop yard and small gardens to grow our food.  We love the community, as there are many ‘back to the Earth’ folks. It is common practice for us to trade with one another for goods and this is truly a delightful way to know your neighbors.

at the Farmers Market Kara Rane Cosmic Circles

How do you spend most of your days?

Recently, most of my days and nights are spent caring for our baby.  I have learned to incorporate him into projects via baby wearing, so work continues on. We also make a priority to hike at least a couple times a week, often with other mamas and their babies and children.

Do you have a favourite quote or words that inspire you?

“What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, men would die from the great loneliness of spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected.” -Chief Seattle

This quote resonates so strongly with me as I feel that I am trying to recover a part of myself that has died due to the loss of so many animals, trees, and the myriad of life forms who are now extinct, or are at risk of extinction due to human caused perils. In honoring these beings I feel wholly united. It is my hope to draw, paint, create them back into the world of the living. In nourishing this wildness, I too am trying to resurrect my soul.

Eco-Art cards - Kara Rane
What are you passionate about?

Our capacity to change as individuals and a collective global society gives me hope. Without this, it would be impossible for me to be passionate about anything as I have a lot of concerns for the future of the environment on which we depend. Hopefully, the work I do as an artist can help bring about this change.

Can you tell me a bit about your work as an artist?

Using vibrant, neon, and rainbow colors to layer sacred shapes and patterns, the vision is revealed to me as the lifting of a veil.  Into a dimension of light, a familiar yet brighter and more alive Universe is known. I see a place of harmony, peace and happiness. Through nature and ancient symbolism I glimpse the Divine.

Returning Forward © Kara Rane

Are you able to support your family financially with your artwork?

My art sustains me as a whole person. Throughout my life it has also been a source of income in various ways. Often times, I have been forced to get creative in how this might look. For example: I worked as a studio artist in NYC for a corporate art making company. Although, I was not making my own art I was given a lot of freedom. Currently, I am a full-time mama and have created several eco-friendly product lines featuring my art. They are sold in retail locations, at local festivals and farmers markets and via my website.

Can you talk about your cosmic circles?

The ‘Cosmic Circle’ designs are a kaleidoscopic portal allowing light, color, energy and beauty to fill your Life. I hand create the original designs and Greenerprinter, a business based on the highest standard in environmental printing, reproduces the images. These colorful, transparent clings adhere without adhesive, so they are easy to use, remove and re-use. Better than stickers!!

More ℃osmic ℃ircles © Kara Rane

When you aren’t drawing, what do you love to do?

Working with my hands, in all things!  I am very dedicated to living a sustainable lifestyle, to supporting and growing organic food and to understanding how to best care for the land and creatures we depend on.  This requires a lot of work outside on the land and that is where I love to be, with the trees, birds, sun and sky.

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Thank you, Kara, for sharing a glimpse into your world and creative vision and purpose. How beautiful visually and soulfully! Readers you can find Kara on Instagram @kara_rane and you can read more about her art and visit her shop at www.KaraRane.com.

This interview is part of my Creative Mothers series, you can find the rest here.

You might also like my post:

How to Make All Natural Temporary Tattoos from Real Flowers

Garbage Free: How to Make Your Own Delicious Cashew Milk

How to Make a Mother Nature Leaf Dress from Real Leaves

Drawing a Day: A Summer Drawing Project

How to Make All Natural Bath Bombs with Dried Flowers

Want to find me in other places?

World Wildlife Day: What You Can Do to Help Conserve and Protect Wild Plants and Animals

Pink Lake Gatineau Park Canada Nico Nico Clothing Hippie in Disguise

“The future of wildlife is in our hands”

Today is the United Nation’s World Wildlife Day. World Wildlife Day is a day to celebrate wild plants and animals, but also, like every day, it is a day to work to conserve and protect them.

Here are a few simple things you can do to cultivate a love and respect for wildlife in yourself and the people, especially children, in your life. It seems natural and logical that love and respect will translate into conservation and protection efforts.

1)      Spend time in nature, in the wild, and learn about the abundant life, cycles and systems around you. By spending time in nature you are likely to enjoy yourself, create memories and ultimately develop a sense of respect and understanding of your embeddedness in (and precarity of) the system of life on Earth. We are nature. It is not around us; it is us. Our actions have a direct impact on plants and animals, as they have direct impact on us. While I don’t think we should be self-motivated to protect wildlife, if that’s a reason that motivates you, seize on it and let it push you to conserve and protect, and to lighten your impact on other forms of life. We all share this one planet, but it is critical to understand that it is not just about sharing. From a selfish perspective, animals and plants play important roles in sustaining life on this planet, without them, their is no us.

Hippie in Disguise Hunter Boots Ottawa Canada Canal Marsh

2)      Learn about and interact with plants and animals. Book learning and documentaries can be great, but there’s nothing like real life experience. Augment book learning with experience. Observe and interact with the plants and animals around you. You don’t need to go to a botanical garden or a zoo. Grass is plant life and when you look closely there is much to observe. Think of animals in the broad sense, you don’t need to track deer to observe the wild, insects are everywhere and we can learn much from them. All animals are important and each has something to teach us about our humanity. Ultimately : be creative and open minded in finding the wild around you. The wild could be a field of wildflowers on an abandoned city lot — tread lightly by the edge, observe and learn. The wild could be lifting up rocks at the public park to say hello to beetles and worms. The more children (and we adults) have real life experiences with living plants and animals the more we can empathize with them, the more we feel a part of their world, and us a part of theirs. Our interconnectedness becomes embodied.

Nature Story Board Collected Feathers Snails Acorns Flora Hippie in Disguise

3)      Support the efforts of wild life conservation and protection agencies such as World Wild Life Fund and the Jane Goodall Institute. You can share their messages and follow them on social media. If you have spare dollars and pennies you can support them in a financial way. For the last three years Ro’s birthday present from us and her friends has been funding the protection animals through the Jane Goodall Institute and WWF (we do this through the EchoAge platform). This, by the way, is a great minimalist gift — an immaterial gift that doesn’t clutter your home but has a profound effect on others.

2017 Update:

Since posting this last year, I joined my friend Rebecca Lane in launching the Global Guardian Project. The Global Guardian Project is a monthly digital publication for homeschoolers, educators and families who wish to learn more about the earth’s animals, plants and ecosystems, and how we can take simple actions to be positive changemakers in our communities, and as adults how we can raise a generation of global guardians. We are mindful to present information in a child-friendly and sensitive way, that does not incite fear and worry, but rather leaves children feeling empowered to play a part in stewardship.

Each month we release a new digital “learning capsule” featuring a country and its plants, animals, local activists, and culture. We also include art projects, maps and downloads, recipes, inspiring videos of kids doing awesome things to help animals and ecosystems, interviews with eco families and worldschoolers, and a podcast with an original (and fun!) meditation for children and families. For educators and homeschoolers (and super keen parents) we also include curriculum prompts based on STEAM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics, as well as vocabulary lessons.

If you are interested in learning more about this resource and the project, please leave a comment or send me an email. You can also visit the Global Guardian Project website. If you decide to sign up  for a subscription, please use my discount code HIPPIEINDISGUISE to get 10% off, which makes the cost only $13.49 per month. You can cancel at any time, no questions asked. You can also purchase single issues if a subscription doesn’t interest you.

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I’d love to hear what you do to help protect and conserve wild life and how to cultivate this same interest in others. Please share in the comments below.

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You might also like my post:

Ecominimalism: Sustainability and Minimalism, Interview with Robin

Inhaling the Season, Inhaling the Moment: A Story of Cycling Through a Snow Storm

The Mathematics of Love: A Heartfelt Story of Growing a Family

Creative Mother: Sophie Isobel Asher

I have a beautiful interview with writer, artisan, stylist and designer Sophie Isobel Asher to share with you today. Sophie is a woman of many talents and careful reflection. She has always lived a creative, passionate life, but pursuing her interests and living an intentional life became her centre after a life-changing event. Sophie’s story is like others and yet is uniquely her own. I’m so pleased that today she is living passionately and creatively, and has translated these into a business that supports her family and her spirit.

I know that many of my readers will know her from her beautiful blog and her creative projects she shares on Instagram, but I thought you might like to hear more about her and her story.

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Sophie, please tell me a little bit about yourself. What is your background?

For as long as I can remember I’ve lived creatively. Since I was a child, I’ve always been making, writing or dreaming up wild ideas.  These days, I’m a writer and an artisan, some days I write, some days I make and on wonderful, inspired days I do both.  I work as a stylist and writer for a lovely regional lifestyle magazine and I run a bespoke sacred jewellery & decor label, Wilde Asher with my mum and my sister.

I studied Creative Arts at University focusing on fashion and cultural theory and later completed postgraduate study in secondary school teaching.  I’ve always been passionate about sharing knowledge and ideas, so I think I came about teaching as a natural progression.  After five years of teaching and giving that career path everything I had, I was starting to feel burnt out and at the same point, I experienced a major life change which led me to find my true passion, start our family business and work creatively everyday, on my own terms, doing whatever nourishes my soul.

What part of the world do you live in?

My husband, my daughter and I live in a little white cottage close to the Murray River in rural Victoria, Australia.

Sophie Isobel Asher

How many children do you have and how would you describe them?

I’m mama to our little girl, Tallow Frankie Bluebelle (Tali for short), who is the most wonderful, kind and passionate two year old. I’m also mama to our angel baby Cohen Littlewing who was stillborn at 20 weeks in 2012.

How do you spend most of your days?

I really enjoy slow days and taking things gently wherever possible.  I mainly work from home and usually while Tali is having an afternoon nap, so I really try embrace those few hours of time alone, to nourish my soul with whatever I’m working on.  During the day if we’re not playing at home, crafting or in playing in the garden, we visit friends, play at the park and go exploring by the river.  Our little town has a beautiful slow pace, so we like to meander along with it. My creative work often comes along with me and I often add a few rows of crochet, write ideas or gather leaves for natural dyeing while we enjoy the sunshine.

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What is your favourite thing to do as a family?

My husband and I are both avid gardeners and we spend most of our free time outside, in the garden or down by the river.  We love to go on picnics and bushwalks and explore some of the ancient landscapes near where we live. Along the way we gather local fruit and veggies from the farmers markets and farm gate stalls and dream about our own someday off-grid farm.

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What inspires you?

Foremost I’m inspired by the natural world, particularly my local surroundings, wherever that may be. I am truly nourished when I’m outdoors, noticing the details, revelling in the sunshine or the moonlight. At the moment I’m particularly inspired by the plants around me, especially the vast eucalyptus trees that grow in abundance in the region. They share such beautiful stories and every time I gather their leaves or bark for natural dyeing, I feel I’m capturing a little part of this beautiful land. I’m also totally enchanted by the moon at the moment, connecting with it’s cycle and understanding it’s incredible affect on the natural world.

I’m also inspired by change and the wonderful revolution I’m seeing unfold every day through social media. People are standing up, changing their lives, their habits, realising that life is not all about buying and consuming.  This revolution makes my heart sing and makes me work a little harder everyday to make changes to my life and my families lives, to lighten our footprint, to slow down, live simply and consciously.

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You have been blogging for a long time now. How did you get started? And how has your blog evolved?

I began blogging in 2008, before blogging was really even a thing to do.  I began as a way to keep in touch with my family when my husband and I moved interstate.  I never expected my blog to be read by others, I was just really documenting my days.  Over the past eight years I’ve always documented my life and my creative world. In 2011 I was blogging once or twice each day, before Instagram really started and I look back now and wonder how on earth I kept up. I think I started to feel overstretched at the thought of ‘keeping up’ and in 2012 when we lost Cohen, I stepped away from my blog and really reassessed every aspect of my life. I came back to blogging a different person, passionate about sharing only what I loved, rather than what was on trend, passionate about the changes I’d made to live a more conscious and heartfelt life.  I’m so grateful for this evolution and today my blog is more like it was back when I first started, it’s a journal of our lives and the seasons, a documentation of my creative journey and how we live and love.

Sophie Isobel Asher journal

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about life and living every aspect of it with my whole heart. I am truly passionate about simple, conscious living and shifting the current paradigm we live in.  In every area of my life, I am working towards treading more lightly, living more harmoniously and finding that balance each day.  When our lives were forever changed by Cohen, something ignited within me.  I realised I never wanted to take another moment for granted.  I used to have this world around me that I was filling with stuff and all of a sudden our world shifted and I just wanted to let it all go, strip back to the bare essentials and really search for who I was and what made me truly happy. I’m forever grateful to my journaling, yoga and meditation practice, which enables me daily to explore and delve into what this happiness is for me.

Can you tell me a bit about your business, Wilde Asher?

Wilde Asher is the heartbeat of our family.  It brings together myself, my mum and my sister, to create, beautiful and ethical, sacred jewellery and decor made especially to adorn your soul and sacred space.

We first began Wilde Asher back in 2012 and since then it has evolved with us to become not only a business but a very special manifestation of our collective dreams.  We all collaborate together on the jewellery in our collections, sourcing ethically from around the world. We find stones and charms that resonate on a high frequency and contain beautiful energy, especially for personal growth, manifestation and balance. My mum Annie, is our incredible jeweller and works from her studio by the beach in Queensland to create each of our pieces. My sister also creates beautiful, hand written art prints and I make a range of one off fibre artworks, including wall hangings and coiled baskets. We are really excited to be working on new pieces this year that truly reflect our philosophy for beautiful, unique, ethical creations, made from the heart… Soul nourishing pieces to enjoy for a lifetime.

Did your life goals and career aspirations change once you had a child?

In my previous career I was a high school English and Literature teacher.  I loved my job and it really inspired me to see my students go on and achieve their dreams, but I also realised in the process I was not achieving my own dreams. Becoming a mama actually allowed me to step away from teaching and reassess what I really wanted to do with my life.  It was the breathing space I needed to find myself.

Being a mama has given me the opportunity to truly connect with each day.  I love being able to work from home, to play in the garden, to wander the neighbourhood and collect treasures with my girl.  I feel truly blessed and constantly inspired by the journey of motherhood.

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What are your dreams for your life?

We would love to one day move back closer to our families who live interstate. We’d love to purchase a small property and live off the grid, raise animals, grow vegetables and truly live in tune with the seasons. I’d love to unify my ideas and dreams, write them down, turn them into books, share them with others, run workshops, collaborate and spend time with like minded people. Of course ultimately I’d love to ensure that as a family we are able to spend as much time together as we can, doing what we love to do and exploring the beautiful moments of our everyday, with love and gratitude.

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Thank you so much Sophie! Readers you can find Sophie in a few places: on Instagram @sophieisobelasher, her shop Wilde Asher, and her inspiring blog www.sophieisobelasher.com

  • This interview is part of my Creative Mother series, find the rest here

If you liked this post please consider sharing it or subscribing to my blog or both (!), your support helps me continue to write and share.

 

Let’s be friends! Please come find me in other places:

2015 Moment of the Year

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Last year, when my blog was still brand new, I shared some of my favourite photos from 2014 from people I follow on Instagram. I love photography for what it can capture that our eye misses, the way in which it aids and embellishes our memories, and for its beauty. But photography, for me, is never about honing technical skill or developing expertise with an apparatus. This approach to photography makes the skill and the photo objects in themselves, often demanding more value than the content of the photo or the memory it captures. I’m always much more drawn to photography that tells a story, that captures a moment rather than constructing one. In this sense I don’t concern myself with improving my photography skills, I want my photos to be organic and to capture something real. This means that I don’t capture much of our life indoors, because the lighting is too low in our home and I would need to improve my skills to capture moments in the way I experience them. In contrast, when photographing my children outdoors I feel as though the photo captures the moment as I experienced it. All this to say, as way of an introduction, that my favourite photo from 2015 is my favourite because it organically captured a number of ideas that are important to me; they are themes in my photography and the ideas I strive to convey in the photography and writing I share here and on Instagram. These themes are: sibling love, nature connection, and minimalist fun.

In the last week of 2015, I began looking through my roll of photos from the past year, rediscovering moments shared with the children and Matt, remembering fun times at home, in our city and while travelling. I collaged some favourites of each child, which I like to do as a way of tracking their change over the year and honing in on their dominant personality characteristics. Ro inspires me with her innate connection to the natural world; we all have that connection, but she feels it deeply and honestly. She inspires me with her creativity, her kindness, her compassion for all life of earth and for her organic way of being. She knows who she is and she lives it every minute of the day.

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Sen grew up a lot in the last year, he’s still my baby, but he’s very much a child most days. I’m still grateful everyday for our surprise pregnancy that brought him into our life. His birth brought everything that was important to us into very sharp focus; that’s what struggles do, and I’m so thankful for him and that struggle. Over the last year, Sen has shown his sweet character each day. He’s full of wonder, innocence, adventure, belly laughs and pure brilliance.

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Capturing siblings moments of interaction, shared space, love and laughs is something I strive for. I want Ro and Sen to have a record of their adventures together and how they got along. I have a hard time with the notion that sibling rivalry is a normal aspect of sibling relationships, and so I strive to ensure that I capture them happily co-existing. I also try my hardest to ensure they are in a space that keeps both of them happy, which is almost always an unstructured natural space. Has anyone else noticed how arguments and conflict evaporate when you take your children into the great outdoors? Somewhere without play structures and curated fun, somewhere where their curiosity and imagination are ignited, and perhaps, even, an inherent biological disposition to get along in the wild kicks in?

And so, my favourite moment of 2015, is captured in an image, it was a fleeting perfect moment. In that photo sibling love shines strong, Ro and Sen are connecting with each other and the moment, enjoying each other’s company, experiencing more joy than any toy or thing will ever bring them, doing so with their bodies hugged up against the ground, the earth, connected physically to the planet that sustains them. When I see my children enjoying life to the fullest out in nature without toys or gear or gadgets, but simply relating to each other or reflecting inwardly, I feel as though I’ve accomplished something great. Allowing them to experience first hand that all they need in life are good relationships, the rest is decoration. True happiness never comes from things, it comes from within and from our relationships. When they experience this happiness in the natural world, more often, more easily, they feel drawn to it, collect fond memories of time in natural spaces, and feel that nature is part of them. It is only natural then that they should seek to protect and nourish that which sustains them and their happiness.

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In a sense, there were many moments of the year in 2015, when exactly these things were happening. But by luck I captured an image of it. One that set me on a path of reflection, asking myself what is it that I understand in an embodied, unconscious way, but can’t articulate? How do I describe what I know to be the value, the story, of this image? Capturing what the eye often misses, my camera caught one of the many moments of the year and helped me articulate embodied knowledge.

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Inspiring Mother Jo

Today I’m excited to share an interview with Jo, who writes the most delicious recipes over on her blog Nurturing Kitchen. I very rarely share recipes or post food photos here or on my Instagram account, not because I don’t love to prepare meals, but because my food photos are terrible (I blame my iPhone and the dingy yellow lighting in our home and not my lack of skill…ahem).

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Our food choices and what we eat are important. They speak to our values in terms of health, tradition and the environment. I have wanted to give food a bigger place on this blog, but my photography has been holding me back. However, in the interest of sharing healthy, plant-based recipes, I decided to approach Jo about contributing a recipe, since her food is delicious, healthy and beautiful. As we got to chatting over email, Jo shared bits and pieces of her parenting and her way of life and I loved everything I heard, I knew that I wanted to share more than just a recipe from this lovely inspiring mother, so I asked her a few more questions and pulled together this interview. I hope you’ll enjoy hearing from Jo and her approach to nurturing her girls through nature and wholesome food.

As a side note: If anyone is interested in contributing a recipe to the blog, I would be happy to hear from you, please send me an email. My only stipulation is that the recipe is vegan and that you have one photo (or more) to go with it. And all the credit goes to you! Email me at hippieindisguise1@gmail.com

What part of the world do you live in?

We live in the south-east of England, on the outskirts of the lovely city of Norwich in our little patch of Eden surrounded by woods and meadows. We are just a short drive away from the city, but it feels like we are tucked away in the countryside where our home lies. I’m proud to say I have lived in this sleepy village my whole life, having travelled a lot I always enjoy coming ‘home’ to this place of ours.

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How many children do you have and how would you describe them?

I have two girls, Fern who is 2 and a half and Cerys who is 3 months. Fern is a nurturer through and through. She is always caring for things, from her ‘babies’ to bugs, flowers and nature treasures. She naturally holds, kisses and touches every living thing with such care and love. She likes to cook with me and loves her food! She’s always pretending to make something. ‘Pancakes mama?’ ‘Would you like tea?’. She loves being outdoors and getting her hands dirty too, always helping me in the garden and caring for her own patch of earth. Recently she has gotten more and more into drawing and painting. She is always creating and caring with her hands. She adores her little sister who is the most easy-going baby I’ve ever known. It is as if she has always been here with us, and she accepts all of the craziness of our busy household with the most charming of smiles.

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What are your core family values?

Giving gratitude is something I practice daily and it has helped me through some darker times in my life. Ending each day with an appreciation for the seemingly insignificant things which have brightened our day brings me an inner peace which I like to share with others and is a practice I personally value greatly. We value nature-time as our greatest gift and teacher as a family, so showing our appreciation to mother nature is something we do as often as possible, through our daily actions and adventures we take. I would say that our outdoor surroundings define a lot about ourselves, from the way we socialise, the way we get our food and the way we storytell. Having respect for nature is something we show daily through caring for our plants, visiting our neighbouring woods and rivers and giving gratitude to our food, the sun and the rain. Over all things, though, is to love. To do all things with great love and have enough love for yourself that you can spread it out into the world. Self love is something I wish to show my girls, in the hope that they grow up with confidence and acceptance of themselves just as they are.

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How do you spend most of your days?

We wake up naturally as a family. We are lucky in that both myself and my partner work for ourselves and don’t need to rush out of the door in the morning, so breakfast is always leisurely and eaten together. I like to get up early and practice some yoga before the others wake, if possible, then I make breakfast when Fern wakes up so she can help me make smoothies and porridge, or whip up some pancakes. After Geoff heads out to work, we usually head out into our garden to tend to the crops and take our play outside, from painting to den making or caring for our babies. We pick what crops we have ready to harvest to make up our lunch, which usually consists of a pot of cooked grains dressed with lots of fresh herbs and lemon, salad leaves, avocados and either eggs or cooked pulses. After lunch we often head out to see friends or go to our local library and park. After a hearty family supper when daddy is home I often catch up on cake commissions or simply relax with Geoff.  If Geoff is off work, then we will spend the whole day exploring new places, at the beach or the river, picnicking and camping out during the summer. We have just bought an old caravan to make traveling even more accessible to us as a family of four, so are planning lots of UK adventures before the end of this year.

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What is your favourite thing to do as a family?

Explore. And eat. So exploring new places and discovering new foods is our perfect day. Whenever we have the chance we will set off somewhere new, hike on an unbeaten path and lay out a picnic feast.We are drawn to beaches and Geoff loves to surf so we often head out in search of waves and I play with the girls in the sand while their daddy catches the waves. A day spent walking, foraging, picnicking and surfing would be perfect.

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What are you passionate about?

Being a conscious consumer and knowing where our food comes from is something I am so passionate about. We live in a society where we have so much choice yet spend less and less time in the kitchen and connecting with where our food comes from. I am all about shopping locally, eating in season and as much organic as possible, choosing small-scale producers over factory farmed goods when funds allow. To make this more feasible on a tight budget, we passionately grow as much of our food as possible, from fruit trees we’ve planted, cut-and-come-again greens, foraging and sprouting pulses on our windowsill. We also trade a lot of food with like-minded neighbours and it’s amazing how much you can receive for free by growing simple plants! I am passionate about sharing my love for plant-based foods for the planet and for our health with others, as I believe that eating less animal-based foods and more plant-based is the key for healing the planet and our bodies.

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What inspires you?

Cliche I know but nature truly inspires me everyday. It inspires me in the kitchen, in our play and in our daily rituals. As a plant-based foodie, I am always looking to what is abundant in nature around us to inspire our meals, like in the first days of spring when the wild-garlic first appears, I’m taking our morning walks down to the river, taking photos with the girls in the dewy woods and gathering leaves before making pesto and bread and soup when we get home. When we are out on family adventures I’m always on the look out for wild edibles. Cherry trees in summer, seaweeds at the beach, chestnuts in autumn and making rituals to induce warmth and nourishment in winter.

Nature inspires so much of what I do, but my biggest teacher has to be my children, They are my constant reminders to live in the moment, explore, examine everything and believe in magic. Living under the guidance of mother nature and my girls has brought me to the happiest and most content time of my life.

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Thank you, Jo, for sharing a piece of your life. Friends, readers, you can find Jo on Instagram @nurturingkitchen and on her fabulous website www.nurturingkitchen.co.uk  

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