a little beach made by my own two hands in our backyard…
Posted in child's play, handmade June 9th, 2014 by pia

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Laly adores the beach. Well, mostly the sand, as she’s still “quite scaredy” of the rolling waves and vastness of the ocean. So I thought it’d be great to build her an all-natural sandpit in our backyard so she could play with sand anytime she likes. Of course I like to set myself some major challenges, and for this project I decided that I wanted to source most materials from our own backyard, and to build the whole pit for FREE. That’s right, not spend one single cent.

Inspired by the idea of living as freely as possible, I signed up to my local freecycle group and after only a few weeks of scanning the incoming offers, I found the sand and the shade cloth to cover the pit. I am loving being part of the freecycle community, it’s been a fantastic way to move things out of my home that are no longer in use, and bring in things that we want.

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I dug a hole in a corner of the garden protected by trees for shade.  I found all the rocks outlining the sandpit under and around our house, and moved them all myself with the exception of a giant rock which I enlisted the help of Romain, who kept telling me over and over again “there is no way you can move that rock” and “this is impossible” – he was still saying this while we maneuvered it inch by inch to where I wanted to place it. Within minutes and only a little bit of sweat we had it in position. I couldn’t help myself: “umm, yeah, impossible, did you say?” Oh how I love seeing his dimpled smile appear despite his efforts to hide it. A great example of how nothing is impossible, no matter what anyone tells you! After a few weekends I had finished the sandpit,  just in time for Laly’s birthday party in February.

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This sandpit is one of my proudest home projects, for three reasons: I built it myself from scratch,  I built it for free, it’s beautiful and earthy. Because of this, I get the greatest satisfaction just looking at it, and even more when I see Laly playing in it…

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xx

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Yes that does happen to be the title of one of my favourite books by Anne Lamott, recommended to me by sweet Kylie some years ago while I was writing My Heart Wanders. It helped tremendously as I had spent many days sitting looking at a blank screen, wondering how to start the mammoth task of writing a memoir of that time of my life.

But I digress! Do you recall this bird mobile I made for Laly’s room, which I featured in Little Treasures: Made by Hand? It’s on pages 208-211, with reference to Spool sewing who released the pattern some years ago. I made the birds using the pattern then attached them to some twigs with ribbon, and embellished the mobile with vines and dried fern fronds. It hung above Laly’s cot for many months, but once she began to be able to stand – and reach up to the birds – I took the mobile down. The birds were added to her toy basket until a few months ago when I found an abandoned birdcage. I gave it a good clean and then Laly and I painted it in an array of her favourite colours. I let her paint it in her way (mixing colours together, with big dollops of dripping paint). We added a couple of twigs inside the cage et voilà, the birds have come out again to play…

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I’m thrilled to have found a way for the birds to be played with again, relevant to Laly’s new skills: She’s right into inventing her own games and role play. To decorate the cage we went out to forage for some vines and ferns. Of course I had plans for her to be part of the photoshoot for this blog post, but she didn’t want to and I’m doing well now to let her make her own decisions when it comes to play. So while she was out with her Papa I took the opportunity to play with the birds and cage in my own way…

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Happy weekend mes amis!

xx

PS new music on the way, I hope you’re enjoying my growing collection so far. Thanks for your downloads and encouraging comments thus far, so appreciated.

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Posted in nature, pia's music, pia's photos, piano May 14th, 2014 by pia

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So I’ve been playing a series of notes on the piano over and over again since I shared my last composition with you, Spirit & Flight.  I didn’t think it was ready to be recorded as I hadn’t really been able to move it, shift it, expand it. I finally let go of thinking I needed to make it into something it wasn’t, yet continued to play it over and over again this past month because there was something in it that spoke to me…

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…something in it that I needed to hear. Then last Saturday morning, while Romain took Laly to the park, I sat down at the piano, pressed record, and played.

This is my rawest, published piece yet, so full of little “oh I could have played that better”, “hmm that’s not quite right” notes  – however it captured how I was feeling so completely that I felt it was worth sharing with you…

 

 

If you listen carefully, you will hear me take a deep breath towards the end of the first part of the piece. Then I play on, higher, quieter…

 

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After I played, I understood what it was that I needed to hear: my anger. I have always pushed it away, bottled it up, kept it locked deep inside. But I’m learning that by doing so it doesn’t go away, it just grows then screams out in pain in various parts of my body. When I sat down to play this time, I felt it well up in me, echoing the frustrating morning I’d had with my little warrior girl Laly, so defiant, not afraid to protest or go against her mother. She’s not like me and when I’m not in awareness, I can hear my quiet, bottled up voice within screaming out “I don’t understand you, why aren’t you like me! Why can’t you listen to me!”.  Of course I don’t want her to be like me, I just want her to do as I say.

So this piece, Spirit & Flight Part 2, is a storytelling of my battle with motherhood, my struggle to adapt, to surrender to how I was mothered and how I mother and want to mother.

In the second part of the piece (at 2 minutes 40 sec), I relinquish.

These photos are from our few days in Byron last month. “Spirit” and “Flight” are two words that resonate with my time there, and the energy of our little Laly.

Thanks for listening again dear friends, I hope you enjoy this piece. Don’t forget you can download all my pieces to listen on your music devices for free.

With Love,

Pia x

 

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Posted in motherhood, personal April 30th, 2014 by pia

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A few weeks ago, just before I finished writing my last blog post – ‘being enough’ – I serendipitously received an email from RAW beauty talks asking if I’d participate in a challenge today (Wednesday April 30, 2014) to post a photo of myself on my blog without any make-up, photo editing or filters – completely raw.

As those of you who have followed me from the early days of my blog will know, I rarely post an image of myself. And I’d love to tell you it’s because I’m really shy, modest and/or want to keep some anonymity. But truthfully, it’s because of a much simpler reason: I believe I’m ugly.

I’ve always been interested in learning more about my inner workings, connecting with my inner world, but it wasn’t until I became sick last year after my last book feat that I changed the balance of things in my life and started to focus less on work and more on my well being. These past few months in particular I’ve been working on letting go of old self-beliefs, letting go of old perceptions and welcoming new ways of seeing my world.

When I agreed to take the challenge, all those thoughts about how I look came up louder than ever before as I wondered how I was going to be able to do this. Although I rarely wear makeup, the biggest challenge for me comes simply from posting an image of myself where I am not turned away from camera, and I haven’t cropped it, photoshopped it, or added a filter. I’m a photographer after all, purposely behind the camera, seeking to enhance the everyday, being asked to let go of all that to create dialogue between you and I about the pressures we face in how we look, and the socially constructed notion of ‘beauty.’ Big challenge. Big ask. Here goes nothing…

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Today, while looking at these photos I see my ugliness, I see all my faults, and I hear the unpleasant words used to describe my face and body over and over again as a young girl and young woman, but now each time I think those things, I’m releasing them instead of holding on to them. And as I release those thoughts there is then space, and in that space I have made the choice to only allow a new, positive perspective on myself to fill it.

These photos were taken by Romain on Monday, while the three of us were on a mini break in Byron Bay. It was a cloudy afternoon after a stormy morning, and the 3 of us spent a few hours playing at Watego’s Beach. With nothing but white sand, rocks, and ocean to entertain us, we had a blast. I felt good. I felt free and happy, and it felt like a good time to ask Romain to take some photos of me by the water’s edge. At that moment I thought, no matter what these photos turn out like, or how I feel about myself when I see them up on the screen, I will post them.

I’d love to invite you guys to join me in this challenge by posting your own raw photos on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, just add in my name @piajanebijkerk as well as #rawbeautytalks and/or #rawbeautychallenge so I can see your beautiful face and join in the conversation.

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I do this for myself, and as much for my little girl. I want her to feel confident and I want her to love herself exactly as she is, everyday. I don’t want her to ever question her beauty. And I know that the only way to achieve this is to do all I can to lead by example.

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With love,

Pia x

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Posted in motherhood, personal April 17th, 2014 by pia

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Yesterday at noon after I put Laly to bed for her midday nap, I flopped onto my bed exhausted, wanting to sleep for hours, days, however long it would take for the exhaustion to go away. This is how I feel at some point in the day, every day  – feeling the sting of it without exception when I put Laly to bed at night.  This is a feeling I know well as I’ve learned to live with it for many years, but it’s all the more apparent now that I have a little being in my life to nurture and nourish 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and I know now how important it is that I stop pushing the feeling away and listen to it.

So yesterday at noon, while lying in bed desperately wanting to fall asleep… why am I this tired? What have I done this morning that has made me so tired? I thought about all the things I’d done for that six hours: making Laly’s breakfast, tending to the chickens, laundry, cleaning the kitchen, helping Laly use the potty, gardening, preparing morning tea, and all the while attending to Laly’s various other needs. These are simple, everyday tasks that I know other people do without feeling exhausted, so why does it affect me so much?

I then thought about what else was happening while I was doing these things – how was I feeling while I put the clothes in the washing machine, what was I thinking about? And that’s when an inner light shone on an habitual pattern that I hadn’t noticed up until that point.

It occurred to me that while I go about all these daily activities, I am thinking one or all of the following: “I’m probably not doing this right”, “This isn’t good enough”, “Am I doing enough?”, “I should be doing more”,  “This is not enough”, “I’m not enough”. I question and doubt the way I go about every single activity in my life. It’s exhausting.

As an example, while I was sorting dirty clothes and putting them in the machine with the natural detergent I use, I was thinking about how so many of Laly’s clothes now have paint or food stains that won’t come out in the wash, or the whites have turned grey. I started to compare my washed clothes to those I see on other people or in advertisements. That’s when I started to spiral down in my thoughts and think, “I’m probably not washing our clothes properly. I’m not doing a good enough job at washing our clothes” which then, over a matter of seconds as I start to think about other parts of my life where I feel inadequate, it leads to “I’m not good enough”.

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Another example is that for the first time yesterday Laly sat on the tree trunk stools I created for her in an unkempt part of our backyard near the hen house. Without any prompting from me she sat on one of the logs, looked around, and decided to bring her favourite teddy to sit with her on a log and offer him a tiny cup of tea. I couldn’t have wanted for anything more after my grand search of finding the right tree logs. This was exactly what I had hoped she would do and at that moment I wanted to breathe it in, feel nourished by the scene before me. But instead, I thought: “Is she safe?  The stools aren’t very clean, I should stop what I’m doing and wipe them down. I should put insect repellant on her in case there are mosquitoes… am I doing the right thing by leaving her alone there? Am I doing enough?” With all the self-(re)searching I’ve been doing these past 2 years, I was able at that point to observe these thoughts  instead of immediately act on them, and so I took a breath, knowing that I wasn’t able to allow myself to be nourished by what I saw because of my thoughts but also acknowledging that yes she was safe, I was safe, and to let her enjoy her time without me hovering around her.  I’m becoming more and more aware that it is this thinking pattern that is exhausting me, this constant conflict within, this constant doubt. It runs through my mind like a speed train on a loop track, taking me away from the present moment and into unsafe territory. Yet because it’s become an habitual pattern, I’ve been under the illusion that it makes me safe to think these things because I’ve been with it for so long – I know it so well.

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At the end of everyday, I plonk my exhausted self on the couch. For all the time that I’ve felt this tiredness  – reaching as far back as my mid teens, I thought that it was life in general that was tiring me. All this time I’ve been thinking that I’m too weak, that I can’t handle simple every day tasks, that I’m simply not able. But I’m now seeing this is not the case at all. I can do all the simple every day tasks, and I can do really great tasks too like write a book. What has been tiring me all these years is the constant self-criticism and self-judgement that runs through my mind with everything I do. I plant seeds – have I done enough to help them grow? I let Laly sit without socks on, will she get sick, have I done enough to keep her warm? I put her to bed at night – what if I haven’t done enough for her today? This self-criticism affects every part of my life – I have always had the feeling that I’m not enough – I am not enough of a friend, a daughter, a partner, I’m not enough as an author, a writer, a photographer, a blogger, an entrepreneur.  I know that this self-criticism has been learned by example, along with being criticized from those I’ve adored over my youthful years. All of which helped to make my inner critical voice louder.

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But as I discover these aspects of my mind, I’m opening up who I truly am, and what I need. And that it’s okay to need while I myself am being needed. And by keeping myself surrounded by people who connect with my core, who understand and support me, I am getting stronger, and wiser.

There will be judgement for this post, this I know. But I know that judgement will be coming from those who have their own loud inner critic just like me, the voice of judgement. It’s an aspect of ourselves we can be aware of, and accept, but not indulge. I heard a wonderful life coach say in an interview the other day, “If this inner critic was a real person, always hovering over you, criticizing everything you do, would you invite them to tea?” The answer for me was immediately no, and I laughed at the absurdity of allowing such a voice to dominate my life.

Have a beautiful weekend mes amis. Thank you for being in my life.

With love,

Pia x

PS these are our backyard hens, Plume (the isa brown), Alouette (the white leghorn) and Esther (Rhode Island red). I’ve written more about them on instagram (my username is piajanebijkerk)if you’d like to follow my everyday adventures in chook rearing, mothering, gardening and more.

 

 

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