Why I haven’t written a blogpost for six months.

Several times in the last few months I’ve sat down to write a blogpost.

About the age old practice of storytelling.

About growing food.

About permaculture.

About developing this beautiful place at Peka Peka.

About finally, FINALLY, launching ElementAll.

About figuring out what balance means and how to effectively – and joyfully – integrate my ‘work’ with the rest of my life.

But each time I’ve sat down to write, I’ve got no further than a few paragraphs before a little voice says ‘Why aren’t writing you about the miscarriages?’

Why aren’t I writing about the miscarriages I’ve had?… Good question. Because even though I’ve been fairly open with close friends and family about being pregnant and then losing the baby, there is still a part of me that says ‘Ssssh, you’re not supposed to talk about it’. The cultural norm being not to tell people you’re pregnant until twelve weeks. Although personally, I’ve found that impossible… Simply because I haven’t had the energy to make up a believable story when I order decaf or turn down a glass of wine or go home for a lie down mid afternoon because I just. Can’t. Stay. Awake. For me, it has simply been easier to tell people. Then after the first miscarriage, when the simple joy of discovering I’m going to have a baby came with an edge of potential loss, it seemed better to tell people so there was a support group already waiting in the wings if something happened.

Why haven’t I written about the miscarriages? Because to be perfectly honest apart from not being sure as to whether I ‘should’ say something, I don’t know what to say. They were hard? Yes, they were hard. My mind and body has been on a rollercoaster of hormones I’m only just recovering from. I could — should — have bought shares in Earthcare tissues. I’ve experienced disliking dark chocolate for the first time in my life… I knew I was pregnant before I took the test because one day I woke up and the smell of dark chocolate made me faintly nauseous. I’ve been admitted to hospital for the first time in my life and found that remarkably disempowering. I’ve had more blood tests in the last six months than the rest of my life — I’ve heard the same jokes from the technician at Aotea Pathology almost enough to recite them.

My Traditional Chinese Doctor told me that in Traditional Chinese Medicine a miscarriage is called a little birth. I’ve had three little births in six months. To be honest, everything else I’ve experienced kind of pales in comparison. Apart from maybe Adam, the father of these little-lost-babies, who has been amazing. AMAZING.

I’m not sure I can, or want to say more. To family and friends who’ve been here in support, thank you. Thank you thank you thank you. To those of you who’ve sent me emails and waited weeks for answer, I’m sorry and thank you for being patient. And to my long suffering dogs, thank you for many many snuggles and understanding when some days there is no beach.

Why haven’t I written about the miscarriages? Because in spite of writing about a number of very personal things here previously somehow this felt too close. Too personal. But I’ve finally decided to write about this for two reasons. The first is because I need to if I’m going to write anything else. There is an elephant in this writing room and I can’t write about other things until I share this story. Secondly, I – and this is my own very personal opinion – feel strongly that we need to create a culture where people do feel more comfortable talking about pregnancy early and miscarriage. Life is precious and sometimes precarious. The reality of women in their late 30s and 40s having babies is loss is more likely. This is hard, I kind of think we don’t need to make it any harder by feeling as if we have to cloak the experience in secrecy.

So. I think that’s it. I’ve had three miscarriages. It’s been tough. I’m getting my energy back. I have more stories to share.

“That’ll do pig, that’ll do.” Advice for my inner critic.

I have a soft spot for pigs. In fact, given the right environment, I’d love a pet pig. They’re smart and have been known to out perform dogs in experiments comparing the intelligence of primates, dogs and pigs.

But this post is not about pigs. The reason for the porcine introduction is one of my favourite lines from the movie Babe. For those of you that haven’t seen this delightful movie, this is the story of a little pig trying to find his destiny. And find it he does, mustering sheep in his own way, guided by the intuitive help of a wise old farmer and the support of a border collie he calls Mom. In the last few seconds of the film, following great success at a fair, Farmer Hoggett turns to the adorable little pig and says ‘That’ll do pig, that’ll do.”

Over the last few weeks, I’ve found myself saying exactly that to my inner critic.

Tomorrow is the final day of a truly enjoyable, educational and enlightening course I’ve been participating in called ‘Off the Mat Into the World: Embodying Your Purpose‘. Superbly co-facilitated by Marianne Elliot, Kelly Fisher and Nick Potter, the course combines yoga with personal and professional development for change-makers.

For me, one of the most illuminating aspects of this course, is the work we’ve been doing on our inner critic. That voice inside which says ‘I’m not good enough’ or ‘I’ve failed’ or ‘I will fail so there’s no point evening trying’. Let’s face it, I think we all have one. At least most people I know have one. Not because it’s something talked about openly or regularly, but because so many of the people I know have such expectations of themselves and are seriously good at beating themselves up.

I suspect I’ve sounded like a stuck record and have been boring the pants of numerous friends lately by raving on about this process of visualising and conversing with my inner critic. But honestly, it’s been a revelation. It has been a similar experience to my recent realisation that at the age of 38 I didn’t really know how my mind and body functions. That I know more about art history than I know about my digestive system. And while there’s nothing wrong with being able to analyse a painting hanging at Te Papa it does seem a little ludicrous that I know so little about this mind-body I inhabit.

With respect to my inner critic, for 30 odd years I feel like I’ve been followed around by this invisible character that has never missed an opportunity to whisper in my ear ‘Hmmm, I think you could have done that a whole lot better’. Except that she had become a part of me, so insidious that the message has been a hundred variations of ‘I’m not good enough.’ But finally, I feel like I’ve called her on it. Swung round, caught her by the arm before she disappears into the shadows and asked ‘Who ARE you? Where did you come from? And why do you keep saying these things?’

It turns out that SHE is the personification of the girl/woman I’ve spent most of my life thinking or believing (unconsciously) that I should be. Taller, prettier, richer, thinner, more successful, more fit, more popular etc etc etc. And while there have been times in my life – recently, in fact – where her voice been more distant, if I’m being completely honest, she has always been there. Created out of layer upon layer of expectation. The expectations of family, friends and society (or at least my perception of their expectations) and my very own expectations of myself.

At the same time as having a full and frank conversationwith my inner critic, I’ve continued to hear the voice of that wise old Buddhist hermit mentioned in the previous post. His words ‘Fear nothing other than the failure to experience your true nature.’ This whole process feels like peeling layers of old paint of an oil painting revealing the nature of the original work below. By paying attention to my inner critic, the messages have shifted from a voice deep within and impossible to differentiate from my own to a voice belonging to a woman who I can now see is a product of years of conditioning. Identifying my inner critic has essentially helped me peel off more layers and experience more of my true nature.

So now, instead of lurking in the shadows, this woman who represents all that I think I should be walks along aside me and tomorrow when I do something and she turns to me and starts to say ‘You didn’t do that…” I will look at her and firmly, but kindly, say “That’ll do pig, that’ll do.”


The university works in mysterious ways

In the early 90s I studied law and art history at university. Art history because I loved art. The law, because I was advised by my career advisor at school to not just study art history.

I spent five and half years at uni and for the most part, wondered what the hell I was doing. There was no burning desire to be a lawyer. Nor, for that matter, did I want to pursue a career in the history of art. I nearly flagged the whole thing several times to pursue fashion design but didn’t. Partly because I couldn’t sew, in part because of the family pressure (and to be honest my own self imposed pressure) to finish a law degree.

I can still remember sitting in the law library looking around at all those self-assured young people, who seemed to know exactly who they were and what they doing and feeling an almost overwhelming sense of discomfort in my own skin. I had no sense of the direction in which my life was heading.

I’m not sure how many people were in my year of law school, hundreds I guess. Obviously, there were many I passed daily in a corridor and yet never had a conversation with. One in particular haunted me for all my years at uni, because she appeared to be everything I wished I was.

Lucinda (not her real name) exuded confidence. She was beautiful, smart and popular. Striding through the law school, she wore floaty flowery skirts in the summertime and trailed the scent of some expensive French perfume behind her. I would look at her, with gritted teeth, and just know that she would go on to be an extremely successful lawyer, marry an extremely lawyer, have beautiful children and live in a beautiful house.

Years passed. I found myself guiding media around a yet to be opened Te Papa. Participating in a disaster relief effort in India. Making a documentary film. Having lunch with a famous author in New York. And today, I found myself in the same street as Lucinda. At least I’m 99.9% sure it was her.

And because this is 2010 and you can find anything on the internet, I’ve discovered that just as I anticipated, she is indeed an extremely successful lawyer, has married one and has children. I’m going to continue to assume that they’re beautiful and that their house is too. I’ll even throw in an Audi wagon and a labrador for good measure.

Was I surprised to see Lucinda in the street? Of course. But what surprised me even more was my own reaction. Not one of discomfort, but absolute delight.

Because it might have taken me a whole lot longer than Lucinda the Confident, but today I am truly comfortable in my own skin. I love what I do, I know who I am, I have found my voice. And although I may not have a floaty, flowery skirt in my wardrobe, I’m wearing the prototypes of my own clothing range and trailing the scent of a beautiful English perfume.