Welcome to Carolyn Cowan Online; Designer, photographer, teacher, mother, counsellor and bodypainter.
Archive for August, 2006
I am writing an article for a magazine and it has brought up some interesting thoughts.
I have been thinking about all the dire warnings we live with now, all the time. There is always a subtle undercurrent of fear that courses through everyday processes. It has always been there: the cold war, the nuclear threat, SARS, Bird Flu, the London Smog, earlier there was the plague, comets, and now we have endless terror struck into our hearts by thoughts of no more oil, no more water, no more clean air, Osama Bin Ladin, climate change, the ozone hole, suicide bombers and all the rest.
Nothing has changed; there is always something to dread and to fear.
It is a subtle form of control; to make you scared all the time. If you are endlessly scared, then you donÄôt really look at what is going on, or what you are doing. Spending money is an easy way to allay fears. New products project into the future whilst they are still in their wrappings. They hold endless promise that all will be OK, that the future exists, because they were made for it.
The moment you get them home and open the shiny wrapper they are old. Their value has dropped, there is a better one just behind you and all the pain and fear returns, goading us, me, you into going back out there and doing a boring job to earn enough money to be fooled again.
Mean and nasty trickery, all this fear. I donÄôt like it any more. I think we should start thinking
ÄúWhat would I do if I was not frightened?Äù
I think many of us would be shocked by the answer.
You can comment on these postings by logging into the website. I know the first time I asked myself this question I was shocked by the speed with which I could answer and give a whole list of things I would rather be doing.
Karmic cycles. Hard to explain, but easy to see.
I tend to see a grey merry-go-round each time I feel as though I have just hit a karmic cycle.
What do I mean by Karmic Cycles? They are those recurrent moments or events or patterns in life that just will not go away, that until you get some perspective on what you are doing in this human existence, you have no consciousness of them, but when you get distance from the mind and a distance and perspective on how you live your life you start to see patterns. An easy way to explain it is if you think of a woman who has been beaten in a relationship. Her karmic cycle would be to go back to the man and it happen again. If she had the strength to leave him, she may find herself in another violent relationship. Simplistic but effective example.
For me, one of the cycles that brings the grey roundabout up is friendship. I cannot seem to work out what I am meant to do about it short of not bothering any more. I am puzzled. Yesterday I wanted to talk to a friend. Not about anything light, about another karmic cycle, the au pair thing, and I sat in the car and could not think of anyone I could actually discuss it with. I even went as far as scrolling through my mobile to see if there was some fabulous friend waiting there that I had forgotten.
Of course there are people I love, old friends, people I can be funny with people I can help and listen to, but I donÄôt find myself able to express ME any more. My mind is like a stuck record. The issues of friendship and au pairs are both featuring hugely in my life. I think the friendship thing is because my closest friend is now living abroad, and it is hard to replace a long-term acceptance and history with someone. She was there all the way through my sobriety, my marriage, children. All of it. I donÄôt want to explain myself again. It is my resistance. I am not a normal person. I donÄôt want to be normal, so I have to let it go and relax.
Au pairs are another thing entirely. Miles, a charming man from an au pair agency this morning did clarify things hugely. Apparently it is not all me. Because of the EU anyone can come here now. They donÄôt need us working mothers to bring them over; they can come and go as they please. SO they get here, discover that they can earn 3 times more as a waitress and piss off. It is causing chaos with the au pair lifestyle and affecting lots of women. Do I feel better now I know this? Please believe me I do not. But at least it is not personal! SO I am now waiting for Miles to tell me that he has found the perfect match for my requirements and I promise not to ask him why he is working at an au pair agency.
As if going vegan was not enough, I am now looking at what is entailed in Raw Food.
Salads, yes of course, but it has become an extraordinary new movement where uncooked vegetables, fruits and nuts are made into unimaginable delights.
I read a book called Raw Food for Busy People. It had a picture of two people dashing off on a moped on the cover. The subtitle was Without Machines. Every recipe needed a machine and was shown with one in most of them. There were interesting things, but you need to be highly wealthy and extremely unbusy to live the raw food life. Everything has to be soaked, machined, grated and organic.
I then read, or tried to read a book called 12 steps to becoming raw. Having been in twelve-step recovery for many years this was intriguing. It did not live up to expectations. She seems to be obsessed with being as thin a possible, disagrees with food as an act of celebration and lives on a small bowl of salad a day. For her, a slip and total relapse is eating anything cooked, which she sees as a total abomination. That one is not for me. I have only just reached step 5 in the book but cannot persuade myself to continue.
The books were interesting, and some of the recipes I have tried were good, but I will not be going that route for a while at least. I wanted Baptiste to try it for a while to repair his live after the Hepatitis C, but without total support it is too much work.
We were due another Au pair yesterday. But she, too, is going home. I have bad au pair karma. I felt that taking her on was a knee jerk reaction anyway, so I am not too upset. I just have to bite the bullet and choose someone from a list of photographs. I donÄôt know what one uses as criteria. Their name? Their hair style? There is one with the surname Whacker. I donÄôt think so. There is a vegetarian French who I would like to meet just because I am fascinated by the idea that she has chosen that route in France. Sadly she is only 17. I think I have enough children. There is an Italian, but again, she is too young.
On a lighter note, literally, my tennis is improving. It is a great way of getting rid of frustrations, and the man who is teaching me does leap out of the way with such style that it has become rather fun trying to hit him with the ball occasionally. I feel OK about it. It has to be the down side of his profession and I am just helping him get better at avoiding the balls.
Louis is getting really good, and it is improving his confidence hugely. We have another lesson today (but not together).
I am still looking for ¬£2.2 million. If anyone reading this would like to be involved in a dynamic project in South London please get in touchÄ¶Ä¶.
She came, she slept and she left.
The joy of au pairs and all the faith one puts in their ability to do what you want.
I knew it was doomed when she announced her mother was coming. They immediately announced that they had never been apart. The mother would not talk to her about her decision, but turned her back and started wheezing! Interesting relationship they must have. So less that 18 hours after she arrived she was gone, leaving a bag of Atlantic sea salt. How kind.
So we are back where we started, looking at new au pairs all over again.
Otherwise we have the young Paul from somewhere up the road. He is 9, has ADHD and is doing a great job of entertaining the kids. Perhaps we should hire himÄ¶.. Having anyone here for them to play with makes such a difference.
Daniel, the charming Hungarian assistant is back and he is madly working on finishing the new catalogue for the end of this month. It is exciting. There are so many new things and it looks so good. I am excited, as usual, by new things. Such a child.
I am, we are having a strange experience. Since lunchtime on Wednesday we have had no email and since yesterday morning, all day, there was no internet either. It is very strange. All quiet, calm, peaceful and still.
I know that people get addicted to the internet, and it is easy to see why, this thing that holds so much, emails coming in and needing a response, junk mail to get cross and offended by.
It sits in the office and controls the moods, the day and also has orders coming it that directly affect life, self-esteem and finances.
So for it to go quiet is different to being away on holiday with access, it is somehow a warning of whatÄôs to come. This terrible dependence on technology which leaps and bounds forward but suddenly cannot cope, has hit a wall. They seem unable to repair the system. It is not us, it is the holding company.
Yesterday became rather calm. Lots of other things got done, finished, looked into and settled, but I was ready to be connected again and still there is nothing.
On another note I am reading a book about Death. It is not the first by any means. It is badly written, but none the less it struck me last night quite forcefully and I fell asleep really conscious of how much we deny itÄôs existence. How many of us there are on the planet, yet in our ÄúcivilisedÄù world most of us never touch it. It barely comes near us and we cruise through the days blissfully unaware of how close it is. Lying next to Isadora reading a personal account of a child dying was strange, my worst fear, yet comforting in a way. I fell asleep thinking about my own death and wondering how scared I will be as it get close. I know how quickly I can flip into the terror when I face the loss of my children, I nearly lost Isadora twice.
But I donÄôt think we discuss or look at death nearly enough in our lives. After lunch with my mother and her total refusal to look at or discuss how much she hates her life I realise it s important. I donÄôt want to face my death with regrets. That does not mean I want to blow everything and have wild adventures, but I do want to be present, open and willing to have what is given to me. Yesterday, in the calm at home I felt this quite strongly.
I have taken the morning off. I am not doing yoga. My body needs a break and a relax.
I have started taking tennis lessons. A friend has been pushing me to play for months and I kept refusing, saying that I could not, and that as a child I only used to play to annoy other people. Get assigned someone at school that I did not like or who disliked me and then trash their game because mine was so bad. I can see where my daughter gets her charm from. (She sat on my stomach last night and sweetly told me she was angelic and had been brought up by fairies.)
So having reached that age where one finally has to do more than be clean, sober, non smoking, yogic and vegan I have decided to take real exercise before my waist expands to meet the approaching menopause.
Tennis struck me because it is sociable, free, (there are courts all around here in the parks), and requires effort and the ability to vent frustration by the hitting of the ball.
I will have lesson three today. It took two lessons to decide if I was right or left handed. I write with my left and it seems I play tennis with my right. This lack of awareness during my adolescence could explain my appalling tennis but little else.
Louis is also having tennis lessons. He is much better than me. It is great to watch him. He has nothing to unlearn. He just soaks it up and does it.
I have no email at the moment. It is interesting. The computer is quiet. Oh so quiet, but I know it is all backing up in some warehouse somewhere and will be unleashed later in a torrent of things that have to be attended to immediately. I will enjoy the calm and get on with things other than the global addiction to the mailbox.
Finally, some success. I found a recipe on the Internet for almond milk. I changed it and it is good.
I know I could just stick it in the blender, but I have tried that, lots.
This one is with spouted oat groats and cardamon seeds. Almonds, too.
It works and I am thrilled. I am also re-discovering a cookbook I have not looked at for years, Lord Krishna’s Kitchen. It is huge and filled with an amazing array of Indian recipes. Why would I have dismissed it? Because she follows a tradition that does not use onion or garlic. At the time I tried many recipes and really loved them, but wanted to go for stronger tastes. Now it is really interesting to look with a different eye.
I feel as though I am turning my crisis in vegan eating to my advantage. I do hope so. I feel so much better on so many levels that I really want to stay with it.
Otherwise we are working our way through a whole host of yoga sets. A different one each day. I have not done so much yoga for years. The aching all over is subsiding and I find I can leap into asanas with a sense of humour and the certainty that I will get all the way through. It is quite challenging to choose sets for DVDs. They have to fit certain criteria to make them work. The one this morning really did not, but we persevered because we wanted to finish what we had started. Then a horrid and mean meditation for inner anger.
Talking of which, I had a moment of temper loss yesterday, but stopped it within seconds. Before the toxins kicked in and was smiling, for real, within a minute. Progress, for me.
The joy of having children at private schools is the length of the holidays. They are hugely long. This one is no exception, and it feels as though everyone except us is away. The days feel endlessly long as I sit and play, wishing I could get just a little done. But Kelly, the au pair, arrives tomorrow. She is coming with her mother. Because they are worried about being blown up. Her mother is spending the night.
But the beds are made, finally the last suitcase is unpacked from the festival, and all that is left is to do the tidying up. Again. The joy of endless tidying up is something I struggle to locate. I find the endless cycle of repetitive tasks really Ä¶Ä¶. I need to be careful here. It is the rest of my life, cooking, cleaning, tidying up. What would Louis Hay say?
I will omit the Gone with the Wind quote and go and clear up the kitchen.
I like to keep in touch with where we are on the web log and I have not written about being vegan for a while now.
I slipped in India. As soon as I got there I was offered chai and just thought, “there is no way I can be vegan in India” So I was not. I don’t think it was particularly negative on my part, just realistic.
France was slightly different. The vegetarian options are so few and far between that to then stretch it to being vegan was just torture. The Soya milk there is truly disgusting and the tofu is hard. So there, too, we were not 100% vegan. Probably 70%. At the festival it got better. Closer to 100%.
Home now is full on and I have reached points where I really struggle with it.
I like the struggle. I like that it is not too easy. If it were easy everyone would do it, by going into and facing the issues I can learn more about it and this is where I am.
I am not enjoying right now. I have been told I am anaemic, and I have been reading awful reports about Soya in all its forms.
The two issues are making me seriously re-evaluate my choices about what we eat. I guess the heat of the summer made me eat very little and not really sensibly. I ate salads and fruit. Good, yes, but little or no protein or iron. I also have an over dependence on Soya in all it’s forms, but thinking of and trying to give it up are really hard. I have pulled back form having it at every meal, to having it in chai only. I cannot get around to giving up chai right now, it is too much, but I don’t know what else to use for the creamy milkiness. Almond milk at ¬£2.20 per litre curdles. Oat milk is gritty, suggestions are needed.
Otherwise I am now reading recipe books and looking at how to eat without using Soya as the protein. I know there are other sources, but I work, life is huge and tofu/Soya is easy. The children love it and it is quick. They are not vegan, so it is not so crucial for them, but at the same time what is not good for us……
I will come through it. It is a blip. I am dealing with the anaemia and feel better already, but finding easy ways to prepare wholesome meals in the speedy and frantic 21st century is challenging.
I am behaving well, as a yoga teacher. It is quite a novel experience. I usually do some stretching and then go into a meditation. So make the best of the new DVDs we are producing I am trying out a new yoga set and meditation every day. It is surprising how much I am enjoying it. We are not fast, Baptiste and I, and some of the sets are long, so my usual routine of working in the morning has been tipped on its side. It is also a great pleasure to spend time together on the pursuit of one’s connection to the infinite.
The set this morning was for inner anger. I am currently looking at anger. Interesting subject. I am working towards being able to stop my anger response. That and irritation. The irritated response. It is a question of choosing and giving up the control that one feels one has with anger. We both have permission to comment on when the other is being angry, irritated or impatient. It is an interesting permit, as the agreement means that the person who has had their behaviour noticed from that place has to calm down. That is deeply challenging, but also a lesson in letting go.
Anger is so fascinating to watch as it mainly comes from the idea that it should all be as you want it to be and there is no other way. If one chooses to let go and let it be how it is without needing to control, then acceptance emerges. Life is so much easier with acceptance. There is a difference between acceptance and resignation and here the difference needs to be noticed. Resignation is being a victim. Acceptance is neutral.
Also if the partner is angry, my person response is to rise in anger to meet. If one lets the anger be there, but does not meet it, there is no wind in the sail. The anger becomes deflated and a mirroring occurs. The angry person is left holding an extreme and controlling response to the situation and is uncomfortable.
I want to understand more, so am currently working on letting go. I fail frequently, but it is the peeling of the onion that is such fun. Why have a Kundalini Experience given by another when you can have so much fun exploring the rise by yourself?
I am sure that the need to look at my anger will dissipate with the arrival of the new au pair. Working full time and children crammed into home together is a good place to research negative responses to life! The new au pair wants to be a nurse in the army. I feel she will be up to the task of living in this house. We shall see.Posted in
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I am struggling with getting into the swing of things here.
I had not realised how much stress I had let go of whilst away, even though it did not feel that relaxing, I was not stressed. I notice now that I have been getting overwhelmed by all that is going on.
It is not helped by trying to work whilst also being the mother of two small children, without cleaner or au pair, cooking all the meals and tidying up.
I am not doing it all alone, I do have a husband, but our priorities are differentÄ¶..
We are building up to doing another set of DVDs. Four more. Big topics, lots of research, but the most fun is trying out the yoga sets and the meditations each morning. I have a huge stack of them that we are working our way through. TodayÄôs was good. I feel all of my body and my mind is clearer. Yoga is a great tool, and it is so easy to forget to use it, just to do the meditations and the jap, but actually sitting and going through all the motions really does clear things out of the way. I hope to maintain my overview as I go through the day, and not get so wound up!
Does anyone have 2.1million they would like to invest? We have found a nice place in Clapham that would work so well on so many levels, but have not got the finances. We still end up dreaming of new locations, new ideas, change. Forever wanting change. I am trying to want what I have got. I feel that when I finally, totally, truly, madly and deeply want what I have got, then we will be released and allowed to move elsewhere. Where is elsewhere? I have no idea. I have wanted to be in so many other places over the years that I have no clear idea. It really is just wanting change. I am sure that once I get there I will want to be in another elsewhere. I think that is the nature of being an addict. Nothing is ever enough. Always wanting more and different.
I was 15 years clean and sober last week. That was wild. It felt so long. But as they always say, it is only as far away as the length of your arm.Posted in
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