Sep 072016
 07/09/2016  Posted by at 2:45 pm Uncategorized No Responses »

It’s never too early to be hair-curly.
It’s never too late to be hair-straight.
We should allow our hair to be,
setting hair, entirely free.

Hair worn bouncy, hair worn loose.
Harassing hair is so obtuse.
Gleamy soft, like silk on corn,
or richly textured-halos born.

Some twirly, viney, tendril-tight.
None a plight … just all head-right.
Hair worn flat, or tall, or wide.
Hair worn wet, or hair worn dried.
Each head of hair, a crowning glory,
to illustrate this real life story.

There’s different textured hair galore.
Our hair’s just hair, there is no law.
Satiny, coarse, or rather springy,
unruly, smooth, or waved, or clingy.
Ropey ringlets, or richly dense.
Each head of hair makes perfect sense.

A crown of brown … worn up or down,
or rippling red upon a head.
Hair worn short, or shorn, or long,
there simply is no right or wrong.
Yellow, black, or orange glowing,
tamely maned, or wildly blowing.

Loose or braided … left unaided,
dark or bright … old or faded.
Hair can simply not be graded.
A plait, a fringe, a pony-tail.
Hair is hair, it cannot fail.

Hair grows with no fuss on us,
each and every hair direction,
creates its very own perfection.
Smooth or fluffy … all are tops.
Never are there any flops.

So don’t be hair exclusive
and don’t be hair abusive.
We earthlings grow these heads of hair.
This wearing hair we humans share.
Elongated cells from our epidermis growing,
these hair cells reaching up, or flowing.
Fine filaments growing from out our skin,
our hair emerges thick or thin,
every hair without a sin.

Aug 112016
 11/08/2016  Posted by at 12:44 pm Uncategorized No Responses »
Being Beloved

Mama rhinoceros gazed tenderly at her treasured child. Child rhinoceros became aware of her mama’s loving gaze. She examined her beloved mama’s face admiringly. Yearningly, she asked if one day her smaller nose-horn would grow as large, long and noble as her mama’s? Mama embraced her child, reassuring her of her loveliness, exactly the way she was, but added that indeed child’s nose-horn would continue to grow. Child rhino’s love for her mother created a newfound awareness in mama rhinoceros, of her own her birth-worth. Child rhinoceros basked in the warmth of the mama-love she received. Through these trusting and affectionate exchanges mama and child rhinoceros learned the value and the pleasure of giving and receiving unconditional love, thus deepening their pleasure in each other and their gratitude for each other.

Catastrophic Categorizations

A richly colourful, but overly competitive cat’s indaba assembled, comprising black, white, ginger, chocolate, blue-ish, beige-ish and grey cats and a myriad colour combinations thereof. They lounged about in their exclusively colour-coded groups, disdaining any cat communication outside of their self-imposed colour scheme barriers. They lazed and loafed on lush lawns, gazing skywards. Gradually they became aware of the gorgeous, drifting, varicoloured clouds overhead, encompassing every blend of cat-coloured coat. So it was that these cats learned of inclusiveness. They exchanged glances, examining each other with a new, charmed and respectful fascination, embracing the rich diversity of their cat colour schemes. They had learned through these majestic rich and blended clouds, that they too were all interconnected. This is how they found acceptance and joy in each other. Their indaba evolved into an enriched and glorious, colour-cohesion. Thereafter, there was lasting peace in this integrated cat community.

A Tall Small Story

A giraffe and a tortoise stood side by side. Of course, one was high in stature and one was low in stature. Looking each other up and down, they wondered if tallness or shortness was preferable. The wild grasses answered them, by waving lovingly at them both – grasses both high and low, swaying joyously together. Each of these many grasses was lovely and each was perfectly height-right and complete in themselves. That is how the giraffe and the tortoise learnt, through the grasses joyful, fully inclusive sway-dancing, to revel in total acceptance of themselves and of each other and others too. This is how they learnt the value of individuality and they learned also, to never over-prize size!

Embracing Diversity

Two rhinoceroses, one black, one white, posed at a lake edge. They admired themselves mirrored in the lake by moonlight and wondered which of them was lovelier. The deep, velvety night sky and the shimmering moon saw them standing side-by-side and they admired their beauty equally. And so it was that the two rhinoceroses learned to recognize their own and each other’s beauty. Different, but equal in their new-found wisdom, and grateful to the moon and the sky for revealing this truth to them, they were enabled also to fully appreciate the beauty of the glossy, dark sky and the brilliant, glowing moon, also reflected in their lake. Thus they were enriched and enlightened through this new-found awareness of nature’s boundless beauty and of their rightful place within it.

Nov 102015
 10/11/2015  Posted by at 6:03 pm Uncategorized No Responses »

I created this drummer girl, constructing her from found objects (objet trouvé).
She is integral to this post and to the post below, relating to our unique individualism, living in accordance with our own rhythm, approaching life “in our own sweet way” and marching to the beat of our own drum.
Being in step with ourselves cultivates an individual outlook and clarity in decision making, so guarding us against coercion.
A sound sense of self creates conscious joy, a revelling in our individuality.
We make self-respectful choices emanating from our own inner convictions, seeking personal truth regardless of societal pressures.
Our lives then become a march of authenticity, pivotal to our own unique drum beat.

“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.” – Louisa May Alcott.

007 Blog IMG 0360 Mojo (36cm x 106)

Mojo (36cm x 106)

Nov 102015
 10/11/2015  Posted by at 6:00 pm Uncategorized No Responses »

I created these faces and figures which I assembled from found objects (objet trouvé). Each one’s uniqueness serves to illustrate the value of the individual and deals with the nitty-gritty of self- acceptance.
This Speak Eezy blog post titled “I Like Me … I Like You” affirms my belief that we need to realise a genuine self-assurance and wholehearted acceptance of ourselves. This intrinsic confidence in our unique value extends automatically into a belief in overall equality, inspiring non- discriminatory and inclusive recognition and approval of others.
“I Like Me … I Like You” encompasses my belief that in valuing our own essential self-worth, we are enabled to value others.
I believe in equality and liberation from domination and/or exclusivity.
I believe in safeguarding against policies formulated out of prejudice and depersonalisation.
I believe in sustaining our own independent and individual identities.
In valuing our own authenticity, we learn to embrace the authenticity of others.

Mark Twain said: “A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.”

005 Blog IMG 0479 Ingrid (24cm x 38)

Ingrid (24cm x 38)

005 Blog IMG 0480 Sol (14cm x 16)

Sol (14cm x 16)

005 Blog IMG 0482 Zanny (23cm x 43)

Zanny (23cm x 43)

005 Blog IMG 0483 Oswald (22cm x 40)

Oswald (22cm x 40)

005 Blog IMG 0484 Lulu (29cm x 35)

Lulu (29cm x 35)

005 Blog IMG 0485 Jo (30cm x 46)

Jo (30cm x 46)

005 Blog IMG 0486 Malcolm (38cm x 50)

Malcolm (38cm x 50)

005 Blog IMG 0487 Ruth (34cm x 46)

Ruth (34cm x 46)

005 Blog IMG 0488 Tomas (32cm x 33)

Tomas (32cm x 33)

005 Blog IMG 0489 Boo (13cm x 24)

Boo (13cm x 24)

005 Blog IMG 0490 Ayn (21cm x 30)

Ayn (21cm x 30)

005 Blog IMG 0491 Del (23cm x 41)

Del (23cm x 41)

006 Blog IMG 0481 Abe And Hellee (43cm x 28)

Abe And Hellee (43cm x 28)

Nov 162013
 16/11/2013  Posted by at 3:57 pm Uncategorized No Responses »

I love stories within stories. I am fascinated by layered things, exploring to the core and delving inwards. I love how little hollow Russian dolls fit into each other, to be unscrewed and born out of each other, pulled from their multi-layered wooden womb – many dolls each diminishing in size and housing each other.

I remember as a child, thinking of myself as being the last and littlest doll and feeling both safe and precious, but also slightly claustrophobic.

I love how Russian dolls look and feel, all rounded, smooth and glossy. They are all integral parts of a whole, yet perfectly complete in themselves. They hold a mystery for me … this “layered-ness” and these delicate wooden dolls fitting perfectly snugly into each other, evoking for me, generations and representing a hierarchy, a family.

Dolls within dolls … symbolising a genesis, our beginnings and our origins. Exploring our differing levels of consciousness might be instrumental in furthering our creativity and individuality. Our cumulative experiences housed within us are there, to be rummaged through and delved into and unearthed, explored, embellished, or discarded.

Plato said: “The life which is unexamined is not worth living.”

Apr 162013
 16/04/2013  Posted by at 3:40 pm Uncategorized 1 Response »

I keep plugging away at communication, endeavouring towards “openness,” as in being both truthful and open-minded. This approach entitles everyone to a full hearing, thereby encouraging communication on any issue in need of discussion. Okay. Sounds good. Sounds straight-forward. Not so? Not so.

This path of communication is not always pleasant or “easy peezy” in the doing. It might be messy, churning with avalanches of emotions, these outpourings of verbal communications. I still find the process daunting, to say the least. So why do I persist in this means of attempted communication? Why do I encourage … no, IMPLORE my nearest and dearest to examine communication break-downs? It is in the sincere hope of finding workable solutions to these deadlocks, by dealing directly with sore feelings resulting in harmful division and caused by unresolved differences of opinion. I invite the pouring out of these woes when I am the perceived culprit. I may have interfered, or inflicted hurt or irritation in some way, wittingly or unwittingly. These circumstances may arise by my being forceful in my opinions in an area where he/she/they perhaps need, or choose to explore without my input!

WELL, if something negative erupts between us, in any way clogging communication, we need to talk things over, even if the outcome is simply admitting to choosing, or needing the space in which to do something entirely alone, exercising one’s individual freedom. This form of frank discussion, hopefully entails discussing an issue before it reaches a point of being out-of-control bitter. The longer a tense situation is left to fester, the harsher an attack might be in an ensuing discussion, which further intensifies the resulting mode of communication. However far gone a situation is, I believe that the sooner “clogged-up” issues are addressed, the less likely will be an attack or clash with serious intent to hurt. This form of direct communication seems to me, to be a good way in which to keep or restore relationships to, at best, strong, clear ground, or at the very least, when there is a deeply troubled relationship, it might encourage a trickle, or even a flow of unclogged communication.

These discussions may be fairly harsh to deal with though. Sometimes (most times) in these close, “painful’ish” meetings, lurk huge human and fundamental differences and/or markedly differing points of views, or different views entirely. Yet I plead for this form of dialogue, this “lets talk it through,” saying exactly what needs to be said quite honestly and openly. Indeed, it is the only way I know of, in which to maintain a relationship without forbidden places in the areas of our relating to each other. I might scream and yell and kick inwardly, protesting to myself that it hurts. I feel defensive and long to justify or defend my insecure inner quakings at criticisms, especially when they are aimed at me. I do not enjoy these sessions. I do however feel they are necessary in certain dire instances of relationship “jam ups,” to ensure an ongoing and healthy relationship. It certainly does feel good to have a sore issue openly dealt with and resolved, or resolved in part. I simply feel heaps better, even when certain aspects of an issue may need to be left unaltered, faced up to, but essentially unchanged. The point of this style of communication is not necessarily to wrap everything up neatly and tidily, but to voice unvoiced grievances clearly, in order to ultimately heal unresolved rifts. Going directly to the heart of discord, aims at enabling differences to be dealt with and those “niggling knots” which strangle a relationship may be discarded. It then becomes possible to move on, unfettered by debilitating bitterness that “undealt-with” hostility may incur.

The solution might simply be in consenting to continued differing approaches. Achieving this tolerance is greatly aided by an avoidance of pettiness, disallowing injured pride and pent-up feelings to interfere with a sincere desire to put things right. When an injury is incurred, who better to ultimately help heal this wound than the person who is believed to have inflicted this hurt, intentionally or not? This form of forthright communication leads to greater understanding and new or renewed trust in each other.

One might feel unjustifiably blamed for expressing a firmly-held opinion, which may cause discord or division. In this instance, one should be at liberty to stick to resolute beliefs, whilst simultaneously being genuinely remorseful at having caused injured feelings, owing to unshared opinions. There may in such a situation, be an understanding reached, only through a resulting agreement to respect and accept each other’s differing viewpoints. When partaking in this form of communication, one needs to be as honest with oneself as possible and really examine one’s own underlying motives in an attempt to be as sure as possible of one’s true intentions. Was one perhaps merely reacting out of hurt and therefore aiming to hurt in retaliation? There needs to be careful and honest self-examining of underlying feelings and motives. These confrontations, even when complicated and uncomfortable, should nevertheless be undertaken in an exchange that is as respectful as possible, of self and others involved. It makes sense to me that, when there is an ongoing problem, those concerned need to talk with and listen to each other.

Sometimes a communication needs broaching, wherein a blamed person may be completely unaware that a problem exists. Frequently, hurtful situations are diluted and left unresolved when a conflict is not broached directly, but rather bitterly blurted out to someone who is not directly involved. This might help to ease a distressing situation in the short-term, as a “quick fix,” but ultimately, it does not tackle the problem at its core. In open confrontation, the “hurter” is offered an opportunity to hear the complaint of the “hurtee.” The blamed person may otherwise remain totally unaware of an eruption that he or she has supposedly caused. Approaching a dispute openly, often dispels formerly “undealt-with” resentment. Dealing directly with the core of the problem makes it less likely that sediments of anger will linger, which may be inappropriately dredged up thereafter, in some future unrelated dispute.

We sometimes blatantly, or inadvertently set uneasy situations in motion, saying or doing something to cause an emotional eruption, or something we do (or say) which might be misinterpreted. A chain reaction may then be set in motion. Intentionally or unintentionally, there might be a retaliation in response to a previous and unexplored dispute, left festering, belatedly flaring up. These unresolved issues have a habit of resurfacing, stirred into reaction, possibly by some unrelated trigger action or word. Some soul-searching may be necessary at times regarding the functioning, or non -functioning of central relationships. A yell of inner pain, suppressed dialogue long bottled-up, may in a conflict, be inappropriately regurgitated, signalling perhaps “undealt-with” undercurrents. We need to explore whether we are addressing a hurt with the appropriate other person, or spewing it out belatedly, as a delayed reaction to another earlier conflict left unresolved. Confronting the very person who has, even inadvertently, inflicted hurt on you, or indeed may have intentionally lashed out at you, is hard to do. Blaming each other with no move towards reconciliation however, further deepens a rift.

One needs to approach situations of estrangement with every intention of reaching a mutual understanding and/or re-harnessing connectedness. These are the ultimately healing outcomes I anticipate when I encourage this form of communication, which for me is what makes the effort worthwhile. In these challenging situations, dealing with damaged communications, however stressful they are, I endeavour to be mindful of my reactions. I attempt to be consciously aware of the respect, regard, love, or liking for this other person, as well as respect for myself. I aim to remember during these exchanges of conflict, that whatever differences there are and might remain, I set out with a will to heal a hurt. I need to know in my innermost, honest testing of myself, that I truly aim towards restoring peace. Sometimes, we need to incorporate or retain certain differences, involving mutual tolerance. After a dispute, when “ouches” have subsided, I might howl inwardly, albeit momentarily. As strange and contrary as this sounds, these are just my fears, belatedly showing up when it feels safe to do so, after the conflict has been confronted and dealt with. Then my underlying horror of this always-frightening-for-me process, might emerge.

This direct and wide-open approach needs to be carried out with underlying goodwill and a sincere resolve by all involved, to work towards harmony and/or restored compatibility. I am always encouraged by the huge and immediate relief apparent at having “made things right” and the often-corresponding insightfulness, inspiration and understanding and compassion that follows. A commitment towards a deeper understanding and tolerance of each other, leads to the strengthening of a relationship. Satisfaction and trust are built when we choose to face each other in a true spirit of communication, with a yearning to heal ruptures. Communication undertaken with integrity, strengthens our bonds through mutual respect and creates an urge to ultimately move closer together … thereby lessening the likelihood of ever creating a situation where the “jump-space” between us seems “unjumpable.” Nevertheless, after these “get-togethers,” I am sometimes (most times!), but only momentarily mind you, left somewhat crumpled, by the sheer intensity of these confrontations … a most unlikely looking crusader for this bold form of “person-to-person, upfront honesty.” I have a strong belief in upfront confrontation, although I reiterate that we need to put ongoing effort into this mode of communing. It is not brought about without effort or tenacity, but I am continually inspired by the solidness, the unity, the trust and the bonds that are instilled by this “opening up.”

I am keenly aware of why I believe it is so worthwhile approaching each other in this way. These occasional “sparring partners” are also the people that allow me mostly “to be.” In communicating with each other in order to heal an estrangement, striving to restore peace, we are reaching out with positivity and trust in each other. Issues which impede further growth in any way, are best spoken through. During the mostly strain-free “between-times,” these rare, but potentially stormy talks I promote are a topic of family mirth. These quirks of mine might encompass my frequent and “lengthy” explanations of things I feel might have been misunderstood, or misconstrued. Add to that my colossal need to talk “tangled-things” through, person-to-person. There is also my intensity regarding confrontation and my intensity about most other things too. I do not go around confronting everyone I meet, on every issue, or perceived hurt, or slight. Mostly, I advocate communicating in this way with those who are of greatest importance to me and whose opinions I therefore most deeply respect. My feelings are however most likely to be bruised by these hugely significant others, these intimates, who are the people I love and trust and believe in the most. These are therefore the relationships that I endeavour to keep as open as I know how. They are the people I most readily reach out to and who reciprocate with huge amounts of perception and generous understanding. This connectedness through ongoing communication, tends to forge deep foundations. We are often enriched by certain huge differences of opinion, which may however, lead to hurts and misunderstandings too, from time to time. When disputes happen again, as they will, we’ll talk them through no doubt, because I have not yet found any way that works better.

This method of communication might well work for you, if you readily embrace differences of opinions and encourage free-spiritedness and if you are willing to look beyond the neat “wrapping up” of situations. I believe there are no trite, or tidy, or little reassurances, or guarantees in relationships. Life is a churning, ever-changing experience and we need to be readily flexible and open to the mix of joy and pain that it entails. I feel there is a “rightness” in an approach incorporating open-heartedness, tolerance, trust and loyalty, avoiding defensiveness and mean-spiritedness. We need to attempt communicating mindfully with each other, in both listening and hearing mode. Our “reaching out” should be a meaningful attempt towards an understanding of each other, our “samenesses” and our differences. It is often a communication of acceptance of our differences that we need to acknowledge.

No one should control another’s opinions. No relationship should entail a “being swallowed or absorbed,” so as to lose one’s separate identity, or individuality of character. I feel that openness of expression and a right to one’s personal responses should be encouraged from earliest childhood. Children should feel free in verbalising their feelings in response to parents and others. We should feel no need to appear to be “all-knowing.” Making mistakes, or changing course, does not lessen trust, or cause instability, when openly discussed. It instils the knowledge that a continuing search for truth is vital to a healthy relationship. A pretence at being “right at any cost” arrests our growth. There might be previously held and strongly enforced judgements which we may subsequently reconsider. We should freely admit to any significant change of stance, to anyone we might have restrained, or adversely affected by our former thinking. This might be a child, a spouse, a family member, a friend, or a colleague.

Communication means embracing all our inter-reactions, rejoicing in the things we have in common and the equally important areas in which we might differ. Diversity is healthy and enriching. We should allow for flexibility within ourselves, having enough pliancy and vibrant elasticity, to reach out unendingly towards each other. We all have a right to our own belief systems, opinions and moral standards, hopefully avoiding ever becoming too rigid in our thinking. We should readily re-think any thought process that no longer feels comfortable, balancing our individual freedom by taking full responsibility for all our decisions and actions.

Feb 062013
 06/02/2013  Posted by at 5:08 pm Uncategorized 4 Responses »

It was our first day entirely alone. Catherine, our first-born then aged about ten days old, and I.

Her maternal grandmother Ethel, baby besotted and a baby charmer of note, had departed. For her ten days with us dear Ethel had been hugely grateful to be allowed and entrusted with this (perceived by her), almost hallowed task of baby bathing, with my gratitude and urging. I was utterly convinced that I would continue this baby bathing stunt with ease, when Ethel returned home. So she had been the chief and only baby bather and now, this granny who had lovingly bathed and dressed Catherine before leaving us, had departed to her own home over 500km away.

I had breastfed Cath earlier that day, still ignorant “i.e. in relaxed mode” … still glowing from the comfort and confidence that came from being a part of the trio, this terrific ten day long baby team! My husband Barry was still home, showered and now dressed in office clothes and calmly enthusing on my terrific handling of our infant daughter. He too was about to leave us, Catherine and I, alone, as he prepared to return to his office work after a shining week of shared parenthood spent together with our beloved baby daughter and my Mom. So, my mother (yes that baby charmer of note that I mentioned) was going to be few hundred kilometres away from us and my beloved husband was to return to his office routine, embracing us warmly and confidently as he left, wishing us a happy day together.

I closed the front door behind him and Cath whimpered from her cosy cradle and I froze. The inadequacy and fear I felt about being the solo handler of that tiny human seemed out of proportion to her “tiny-ness.” Her whimper hotted up to a cry. What could she be crying about? She was bathed and fed and had appeared to be perfectly peacefully asleep until her father left for work. Maybe she could sense that the only truly accomplished team members had disbanded, leaving her alone with the clueless one. I had read that babies readily picked up vibes and I had felt up to this point, that I had coped reasonably well throughout the previous week, together with my very strong supporting cast.

I cowered now, hoping desperately that Catherine would settle and sleep again. Nope. She cried louder. To me it definitely sounded like very much louder crying than she had ever achieved before. I picked her up, tentatively, terrified in fact. She continued crying. I tried to feed her. She jerked away sobbing, loudly rejecting a feed. I clumsily peeped into her pristine nappy, literally shaking. She felt cool and did not seem ill! Her crying now sounded frantic, which is exactly as I felt too! The whole long day loomed ahead of us. I burst out crying. A duet! Sobbing, I pored out the “bad-sad” truth as it now seemed very apparent to me … that I had hugely miscalculated my baby handling abilities, insanely imagining myself to be mother-material and that I was desperately sorry, for both Catherine and myself, because I had truly believed I could do this.

I thought that being a mother would be instinctive and come entirely naturally to me. Throughout the previous blissful, elated week I had quite obviously been faking it, even to myself. So I never guessed till now that we were alone, that I was hopelessly inadequate in this mothering role. I had quite obviously been merely playing a “mother-part” in the baby team, a relatively easy role to play when we had Catherine’s daddy and granny with us. I admitted to Catherine in between my own sobs that I knew she was shrieking in terror at having been left entirely alone with me. I knew that she knew that I was petrified and had no idea what to do with her, being left alone, just the two of us.

I was not keen to venture out for a pram walk, as it was cold outside and anyway, I had only been outside once and that was together with the “cosy crew” and I didn’t feel up to an “out in the big world” excursion, with this suddenly, very-scary-to-me baby. I was this terrified and alone woman, together with her baby who quite rightly felt bitterly let-down by the outrageous inadequacy of her mother. I could not offer another bath, although that might have proven soothing, simply because I … as idiotic as it sounds … didn’t know how to! I had so happily “allowed” my mother this dubious task of baby bathing, as she so loved it and she did it so magnificently, crooning baby reassurances all the while, that I assured her I would do it easily after she left and I believed I would. She made it looked deceptively “eezy peezy” like all true professionals with aeons of experience and know-how do. I felt scared stiff and thought I would wait until Barry was home before I attempted to do anything as daunting as bathing someone who I greatly feared I might drop. And how did one bath a baby alone? … filling a baby bath, knowing the water temperature was right, all the undressing of that tiny person, trying to securely hold on and wash a baby person and then attempting to dry them and put all those miniscule clothes back on. That was Ethel’s domain.

I now beseeched Catherine to stop crying. I imparted some of my now more ironical thoughts to her, admitting that one of my most fearful fears prior to my conceiving, was being terrified at the prospect of not being able to fall pregnant and have a baby! I never knew or seriously considered there would be crying! Of course I “sort of knew” that babies cried sometimes, but I guess I figured that bathed, fed, warm, loved babies wouldn’t have any need to cry. I never could have guessed how frightening I would find our being alone together could be. Once I started, I could not stop and we bawled together in a duet of misery. I continued pouring out my woes and found it calmed me just a little bit. Admitting to my appalling sense of inadequacy out loud, helped. Gradually, I noticed that Catherine was no longer crying but gazing intently, right into my face. This is good I told us both out loud. Keep talking I told myself out loud. I finally ran out of my list of mother/baby inspired fears, so what next. So I told her about Bob Dylan’s lyrics and his music and Dostoyevsky and Nietzsche and Ayn Rand’s writings and Picasso’s huge outpouring of work. As I prowled around our apartment, still talking about favourite movies, I looked down and noticed that Catherine was asleep. So much for Ingmar Bergman’s sagas … she certainly was not big on movies! Then I clicked. SHE WAS ASLEEP.

I did a sort of crazy chameleon walk and put her down expecting wails, but she slept on serenely and so did I, curled up on the couch beside her wicker crib. I was awakened by her cries some while afterwards. Momentarily, I panicked full blast again. Then I remembered the talking-tool. I would talk my way though any fears that welled up. I could discuss these fears out loud as they popped up. “What can I do for you Catherine,” I asked aloud? I changed her nappy, putting on another one, albeit very loosely and sloppily. It was not at all like the snug fitted nappies her granny had managed with such apparent ease, but Catherine was tolerant of this and remained uncomplaining. Then I offered milk, which she drank. Afterwards, I popped her down again, all relaxed and sleepy and contented, or so I thought.

Almost instantly, there were wails. It was then that I remembered that after feeds my mother had gently massaged Catherine’s back and talked of babies needing to be “winded” in case they had swallowed milk too fast, which could cause cramping and pain. Panic arose in me as I remembered always delegating this task gaily to, either Catherine’s grandmother, or to Catherine’s exceedingly relaxed father, after each feed. Barry was calm and patient and really thrilled to soothe Catherine as I was breast-feeding her. He could not help with the actual feeding, so enjoyed this time with her. At these times, when Catherine had been handed over to her father for winding, I would scurry off to do the other myriad baby things that needed doing.

How did Barry wind her? I tried to picture what he did. He sat on the couch and supporting her tiny neck with nonchalance, he casually draped her over his shoulder, or lay her, tummy down on his lap and gently massaged her back until a wind came up. Somewhat panicked now, but relaxing a little as I related this whole situation to Catherine, I too, sat on the couch and draped her over my shoulder. She yelled, so I draped her over my lap. She continued to yell. I wanted an instant burp from her and the anxiety of this never happening, rose in me. I remembered that I often felt calmer walking around, so I leapt up with my startled baby, imploring her to quieten down, and to burp. Could they only burp in certain sitting down positions I wondered? What if she cried in pain all day and no burp happened? I put this to her as I draped her over my shoulder again and walked to the window, where I caught sight of a wonderful world out there full of apparently, totally carefree and unafraid-looking people. Being a big talker and one who needs to talk things out when there are communication problems seemed to help me. I pointed Catherine towards all this peaceful activity in non-scary-land downstairs. “Look. There’s a dog. I am good with dogs, you know Catherine. They don’t frighten me. Even our cat, “Beans” didn’t frighten me when daddy first gave her to me, although she was so tiny and she was wild and she was frightened and she scratched me terribly at first, but she never frightened me, like you do.” Catherine burped loudly, startling me.

Well now I knew that baby burps could happen while walking around, so we walked round and round the apartment. I even tidied things haphazardly and so we walked miles, through our one-bedroom apartment. She did not object to my frenzied ducking and diving, as I did a bit of one-handed housework, holding Catherine securely tucked against me. Eventually she dozed off again. She slept for some hours, tired out no doubt by my “mad housewife” marathon and intense, questioning dialogue as to whether she had in fact been at all aware of, able to hear and absorb all the Bob Dylan music from inside my womb. I had listened to music throughout my pregnancy and she probably had been aware of it, because she seemed to be listening intently now and all-knowingly, as Bob sang to us.

Now, thirty-something years later, I understand that this scary beginning was just part of our getting to know each other, bonding, my daughter and I. My talking my fears through to her soothed me, which I guess calmed Catherine. My continued talk meant I could voice my fears out loud and clear as they arose, which relaxed me and as my tension left me, Catherine relaxed. Each time she scared me in the ensuing weeks and months, when she cried and my feelings of panic and inadequacy re-surfaced (as they sometimes still do when I think of all the scars I, as a mother, might unwittingly have caused … but that’s another story), I had ammunition – tools, like taking Cath for pram walks, usually outings to our nearby rose garden and herbarium. I would walk round and round the rose beds and stood gazing at the fountains and letting Cath hear the gurgling water. I pushed Catherine’s pram under rose arches, talking all the while. I also read off the names of the plants … miles of rose names and all the herbs in the luscious herb garden. I reeled off these delicious scientific names, from all the tiny tags on the plants, wonderful names derived from the Latin or Greek. Biological names, the generic names, the species and the botanical terms. So therapeutic to roll off my tongue. Feeling soothed, I strolled around these gardens, pushing an “often sleeping” Catherine in her pram, or holding an “awake” Catherine on my hip, which we both liked best. I examined and learnt to identify a few plants, but mostly, I learnt to identify Cath’s different sounds and their “maybe” meanings.

As I write this on 30 January 2013, an SMS has arrived with an electronic, “burp-like” sound. It is a tender message from Catherine and it reads,

“Hello dear parents. Just to share the exciting news of the day. I felt the first lil flutter movements earlier. Big hugs. Chat soon. C & Pea. xx.”

Yip, this communication, these chats, this relationship is a forever ongoing, source of joy.

Note: “Pea” is a name first coined by Catherine’s husband Gero, who read of their, then first baby to be (now our beloved Ethan aged almost three), being only the size of a pea in those very early stages of womb development. This nickname stuck throughout Catherine’s first pregnancy and has now resurfaced, as Cath gives this affectionate nickname to their second baby too. Catherine is 17 weeks pregnant today, with their second child.

More about communications next time ……