Did you know that May 28th is Menstrual Hygiene Day?

Why not help increase awareness of the female menstrual cycle?

My new book, Cycle to the Moon: celebrating the menstrual trinity (menarche, menstruation, menopause), is now available to order from my website.

 

c2m3D

http://veronikarobinson.com/author/index.shtml#cycle

If you’d like me to sign a copy for a niece, daughter, sister, friend or granddaughter, leave a note in the ‘paypal note to seller’ section.

With love, Veronika xxx

 

 

Some people, like myself, thrive on change. For others, it’s not so easy.

 

leaves

Regardless of personality type, change is something we all face. It’s is part of human destiny, individually and collectively. Even Nature and the Universe are in a constant state of change. The planets are always moving, and the seasons on Mother Earth are always changing.

 

starfishtwo

Change, it seems, is inescapable. I wrote my children’s book Blue Jeans with the theme of change in mind.

Here’s how it was reviewed in The Mother magazine:

Blue Jeans, written by Veronika Sophia Robinson, and illustrated by Susan Merrick
www.veronikarobinson.com
www.susanmerrick.co.uk

Blue Jeans is a heart warming story that at its heart tugs at every mother’s heart. It’s the story of how children grow too quickly as is evidenced by the rate they grow out of their clothing.

Written from the perspective of a pair of blue jeans, this book covers quite a number of themes: moving, making new friends, accepting changes, letting go of someone we love, and the value of recycling and upcycling. While probably not meant to be the central themes of this book, they do come up and would make great talking points with younger children.

Blue Jeans belonged to a city family, but when he was outgrown, he moved to the country as hand-me-down jeans for a country cousin. On the farm at his new home, he quickly grows to love the differences between city and country and falls in love with the country way of life.

The book paints an idyllic picture of life, with TV-free evenings, children doing chores on the farm, gathering wood, collecting herbs and vegetables to store for the Winter and sell at the market.

When the mother in the story patches his knees and passes him on to a younger sibling, Blue Jeans is happy again to have a few more years of adventures with his country family.

Blue Jeans is perfect for those who enjoy a longer bed time story.

 

BlueJeanscoverAvailable from my website, Starflower Press, good bookshops, and online retailers.

Cycle to the Moon: celebrating the menstrual trinity, is publishing in just a few weeks!

 

c2mjpgcover

Spend £10 or more on my website www.veronikarobinson.com this Bank Holiday weekend, and we’ll send you a free copy of Cycle to the Moon (offer available worldwide)…

Quote VR blog when purchasing. Offers expires Midnight GMT Monday 26th May 2014.

Bluey'sCafecoverlowresBluey Miller lives a charmed life in Calico Bay, a small rural town on the east coast of Australia. She built her popular wholefood café from nothing, and it has garnered a well-deserved reputation for world foods. When her mother dies, Bluey discovers that there was far more to her mother’s life than she’d realised. Why so many secrets? As she begins to unravel her mother’s past, she’s left wondering about their relationship. They had been so close over the years, yet now Bluey feels like she didn’t know her at all. Her very identity hangs by a thread. Who am I? she wonders. Who was my mother?

Seemingly insurmountable challenges lie ahead, and Bluey must face them without her mother by her side. She finds strength from her local community and daily nourishment from the welcoming atmosphere of her café, but is this enough? Drawing succour from the Australian bushland around her, friendships, emerging spirituality, a life-changing romance, and the memories of good mother love, Bluey must somehow find enough courage to allow the best of the past to become the foundation for her future.

 

This is my second novel, and is available on Amazon, from good bookshops, www.starflowerpress.com or www.veronikarobinson.com I do hope you enjoy reading it as much I enjoyed telling Bluey’s story. Love, Veronika x

When I was pregnant with my daughter Bethany, I knew straight away that I wanted a waterbirth. I so strongly resonated with the sea that I swam with dolphins off the coast in the far north of New Zealand.

Seconds after giving birth at home, by candlelight and Mozart, to my daughter Bethany.

Seconds after giving birth at home, by candlelight and Mozart, to my daughter Bethany.

I met with a woman who’d had five waterbirths, and she shared a book with me by Elaine Morgan, called The Descent of Woman. I immediately resonated with her theory of evolution which cites recent geological and anthropological evidence that large areas of Africa were flooded and covered by vast seas, with the exception that some upland areas were islands. Her theory is that one group of apes adapted to an aquatic environment, and when the water receded new ecological opportunities opened up. We lost our hair because it was better to keep warm in water by a layer of fat inside the skin than a layer of hair on the outside. It certainly helps to make sense of the reflex babies have which allows them to be born underwater.

descent1 descent2

We were made to float, it would seem: it’s in our genes.

I’ve always loved water. Warm water. Whether that is because of my connection to my mother’s gorgeous womb, or the ancestral memory of my foremothers, I don’t know. Maybe it’s both. When I float in the water, am I remembering them “bobbing blissfully” and hearing the surf in their ears? Could that shallow salt sea of five million years ago still be so readily heard? I’m certainly open to the possibility.

When I bumped into a friend last week, I had no idea that she’d taken over a local complementary therapy centre. I was really interested to hear about the floatation tank. It sounded peaceful. Paul and I jumped at the chance to have a float.

float2

What I didn’t realise was what a valuable tool it is for health and well-being on so many levels.

float3

I’ve just finished reading The Floating Book: Exploring the Private Seas, by Michael Hutchinson. I can’t recommend it highly enough. I love it when I can match intuition with science.

floating1

I wish I’d known about these studies, and had the experience of floating behind me, when I wrote my book Natural Approaches to Healing Adrenal Fatigue. Floating is the perfect antidote (cure) for the rush of hormones which cause stress. An hour in the tank gave me more energy that afternoon than I’d had in ten years. The beautiful thing about floatation therapy is that the effect lasts much longer than your time in the pool. It can last days, and for some people, weeks.

Floating not only alters the set-point to help us lower adrenal activation, but also increases our tolerance for stress. It significantly decreases blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen consumption, blood lactate and muscular tension.

If you suffer adrenal fatigue, it’s worth knowing that floating decreases levels of fight or flight chemicals such as epinephrine, norepinephrine, ACTH, and cortisol. Floating counteracts the fight or flight response. That’s just from one float. And the beauty of it is that is has a maintenance effect, lasting many days after. Studies show that it alters the metabolism (or homeostatic set points). It enhances our relaxation response.

Not only is floating great for easing pain or injuries, and bringing relaxation to our bodies, it has been proven an ideal way to enhance visualisation, due to the effect on the brain waves. Studies show it is an invaluable tool to learning, too. When we float, we are in the ‘zone’, a place of pleasure that allows us to literally go with the flow. Many people have experienced enhanced creativity, inspiration, life-changing insights, and gratitude for life by floating.

I look forward to making floating a regular part of my life, and giving my whole being the nourishment it desperately needs.

If you’re in Cumbria, why not have a floatation session at http://www.calicohealthandwellbeingcentre.co.uk or look up one local to where you live.

I had expected to sleep in this morning, being Sunday and all. That was the delicious plan; the promise I made to my muscles, all weary from four consecutive days using the rowing machine at the gym. But no. The muse had other ideas.

 

moon1

This week my mind has been filled with the final stages of my non-fiction book Cycle to the Moon: celebrating the menstrual trinity ~ menarche, menstruation and menopause. I am so grateful that after all these years I have finally found an artist to illustrate this book/journal. I feel it is such an important topic, and that anything I can add to the body of literature which breaks the taboo around our bleeding time, all the better.

 

What I didn’t plan or expect was that a second book on this topic would emerge. I awoke at first light…with the seed of an idea for a novel germinating. I know from experience that it can be one of the best times of the day to ‘craft’ a novel. The conscious mind isn’t getting in the way too much, and dreams and whispers bubble up to the surface like spring water rising from Mother Earth. I let this bathe me, the ideas flitting in here and there, nourishing my soul.

 

moon2

I stayed warm under the duvet letting the ideas grow. I’d write them down later. Inner muse wasn’t having any part of that. Those sisters of the sacred Moon don’t have time! Get up and tell our story, they demand, hands on their hips. Okay, okay. They must have conspired with William, our cat, (darn witches!) for he insisted on standing outside my bedroom miaowing non-stop until I let him in. No chance of going back to bed now!

 

There is something about this novel that is really exciting me. Perhaps it’s the way the ideas are emerging that shows me it will reach and touch the hearts of both mainstream women and those who walk a path rather similar to mine. At least, that’s how the characters are selling it to me! (laughing)

 

Dawn has broken over this beautiful morning. The birdsong is exquisite, the sunlight is bathing the lush green fields and leafy trees with a promise. I have been given another gift. A book begins to gestate in my heart, and for this I give thanks.

 

And that’s what it’s like being a writer. You’re nothing more than a puppet on a string being told what to do by your characters. So today, the Moon is in Aries in my fifth house of creativity. On Tuesday morning (7.14 UK time), there is a solar eclipse in Taurus lighting up my sixth house of day-to-day work. I guess I could be writing rather intensively for a good while. See you on the other side!

 

I remember the conversation like it was yesterday. I was about 22 years old, and working in the newsroom of our local paper. Two of the female journalists were talking about a woman who owned a small fruit shop on the outskirts of town. I knew who they meant because the shop was one I often bought fruit from, and my parents had shopped there for years.

IMG_1443

 

The women were discussing how the fruit-shop lady read lots of books and had a wide knowledge of so many topics, and was involved in all sorts of community groups and this and that, and still managed to run her shop seven days a week. I listened in awe. I remember a light going on inside of me, and wondering about what it was like to live such a full and interesting life. I, too, wanted to grab life with both hands and breathe it in to the deepest part of my being.

 

croftyroomwithaview

This lady was a classic example that you can be considered as someone who lives an ‘ordinary’ life, but is able to live it in an extraordinary way. You see, it isn’t about the big achievements in life, but the small things. The everyday things. It’s in the detail. Although I think of the fruit-lady often, I remembered her again at first light this morning. One of the first things I do each day is to open the kitchen door and step out onto the porch.

 

clothesonline

I love, love, love to breathe in the fresh air of a new day. It’s exhilarating. To me, it’s sacred. The first breath of clean and vibrant air shapes the course of my day. Birdsong, sunrise, cats purring. These small events in my day go by unnoticed by the world, but they are my world.

 

croftybarnturquoise

A beautiful and extraordinary life isn’t about how much money is in the bank or the level of fame or career success we achieve. A charmed life is one where we are touched by a million magical moments: ones which are often invisible to everyone else, but that light a candle in our soul.

 

a

I will always remember the fruit-shop lady.

Dandelions can be used like spinach leaves

Dandelions can be used like spinach leaves

Dandelion Tart from The Mystic Cookfire, by Veronika Sophia Robinson

I enjoy juicing dandelion leaves. They’re a powerhouse of nutrients which help stimulate a sluggish digestive system, and thereby aid the body in removing toxins. The leaves help maintain normal blood sugar levels. They’re a natural source of minerals such as calcium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc and iron, as well providing the vitamins A, B, C, and D.

If you prefer the idea of cooking them, then you might just like this tart. The recipe makes two tarts ~ which means you get to have one for lunch the next day!

2 sheets of shortcrust pastry (feel free to use a gluten-free or nut-based pastry)
A little olive oil
4 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce
Pinch chilli flakes
1 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt or Celtic sea salt
1 onion, finely chopped
Smoked paprika, generous pinch
2 large handfuls of fresh dandelion leaves (don’t pick from roadsides) or you can use young nettle leaves if you prefer.
1 tub Tofutti plain cream cheese
190 g Redwood Cheezly
3 t egg replacer
15 ml soya yoghurt

(The vegan ingredients can be replaced with eggs and dairy, if preferred)

Preheat the oven to 200C. Grease two flan/tart dishes, and line each with a sheet of push pastry. Blind-bake (cover with baking paper and dry beans) for ten minutes, then remove the paper and beans and bake for another five minutes until starting to brown. Let cool. Reduce the temperature to 180C.
Sauté the onion in a little olive oil until clear. Add the smoked paprika and dried chilli. Place the washed dandelion leaves into the pan, but remove from the heat. Keep a few to one side. Mix the egg replacer, cream cheese, yoghurt and half the cheese with salt and sweet chilli sauce. Place the onions and dandelion leaves on the pastry, then pour over the cheese mix. Place the reserved leaves on the top with the remaining cheese. Bake for half an hour. Allow to go slightly brown, and wait ten minutes after cooking for it to set before slicing.

From The Mystic Cookfire, by Veronika Sophia Robinson

Spiced vegetables, pilau rice…oh how I love my life. You could pay a small fortune to eat this type of meal in an Indian restaurant, but I’ll bet it won’t taste as good as your own home-made-with-LOVE version.

Vegetables:
Sunflower, olive or coconut oil
3 large onions, finely sliced
Large cauliflower, broken into florets
2 red peppers, sliced
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ teaspoon ground cardamom seeds
½ teaspoon garam masala
3 tablespoons curry powder
2 teaspoons Himalayan pink salt
1 fresh red chilli, deseeded, and very finely chopped (wash your hands afterwards)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3 cm chunk fresh ginger, finely grated

Pilau rice:
1 large onion, finely sliced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ teaspoon fresh ginger, finely grated
450 g basmati rice
100 g flaked almonds
Olive or coconut oil
Pinch saffron
1 litre vegetable bouillon
½ teaspoon garam masala
10 cardamom pods, deshelled and ground well
Juice of one lemon
50 g sultanas
200 g frozen peas
100 g sweetcorn kernels, frozen, tinned or fresh
10 mint leaves, chopped & a bunch of fresh coriander leaves
400 ml water

Illustration by Sara Simon, from The Mystic Cookfire

Illustration by Sara Simon, from The Mystic Cookfire

 

 

Biryani:
Heat a little oil in a pan and sauté the onions, garlic and ginger for a few minutes. Add the cauliflower florets and peppers, and mix into the onions. Cook for a few more minutes, then add the curry powder. Stir, then add the lemon juice and salt. Add the remaining ingredients from the vegetable section. Cover, and simmer on low to medium heat for half an hour. When serving, garnish with fresh coriander leaves.

Pilau:
Wash and rinse the rice. Heat the oil in a deep pan, and add the onions. Fry for a few minutes, then add the ginger, garlic, rice and saffron. Cook for a few minutes, then add the vegetable bouillon, spices and sultanas. Mix well. Cook, covered, for twenty minutes. Don’t stir. Add the peas and sweetcorn, mix in and let the heat of the rice cook them. This will take about five minutes. Meanwhile, lightly toast the flaked almonds in a dry skillet pan. Add to the pilau.

Serving suggestion: Banana raita

250 ml soya yoghurt
1 ripe (brown spots on skin) banana
1 tablespoon fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
30 g desiccated coconut

Finely-slice the banana, and combine with the remaining ingredients. Chill while you’re cooking the main meal.

Variations: replace the banana with mango, peach or cucumber.

The Mystic Cookfire, available from www.starflowerpress.com, Amazon and good bookshops

The Mystic Cookfire, available from www.starflowerpress.com, Amazon and good bookshops

**More than 280 botanical (plant-based) recipes for the whole family.

I’ve been a bit quiet on the blogging front lately. The funny thing about writing is that I love doing it. It’s not a hardship. Some writers find it a painful process, and equate it to traumatic, medicated childbirth. I don’t struggle to put the word on the page. I never have. It’s interesting, too, that I believe birth was designed to be gentle, ecstatic and joyous ~ much like writing.

Seconds after giving birth at home, by candlelight and Mozart, to my daughter Bethany.

Seconds after giving birth at home, by candlelight and Mozart, to my daughter Bethany.

 

My blog tends to get neglected because I’m too busy writing elsewhere. I’m going to put up post-it notes in my writing room: “tend to your blog, Veronika, like you do your house plants!” I’m feeling so inspired as we take our first steps into this Cumbrian Spring. My garden is filled with blossoms: pear, peach, plum, cherry, and soon there’ll be apple blossoms, too. I’m never happier than when my hands are in the dark, fertile soil, and the sunshine falls across my skin.

Bluebells

Although the vast majority of my writing is done directly on the laptop, and often before sunrise, I do love to take a pen and notebook into the garden and write there. With my bare feet nestled amongst the lawn daisies, against the soundtrack of beautiful birdsong, my muse comes alive and my heart sings. The beauty of writing, for me, is that it can be done anywhere, just about any time. I have often written while waiting for my daughters outside their music lessons, or in the gym café after a workout. Sometimes I’ve woken in the night and scribbled a few lines down in the dark.

clothesonline

BlueJeanscover

I always have pen and paper in my handbag. For me, not having a pen and paper is right up there with my fear of snakes! *laughing*

31

 

I remember once asking a friend to write something for me (when I was editing The Mother magazine). Her hands were busy with little children, but I knew there was an article inside her just waiting to be written: write it on toilet paper when you go to the loo, I told her. Just write! She did end up writing articles for me, not on loo paper, but on old bits of paper and the backs of shopping lists. She kept them all tied together with a bull clip.

And that’s the key. Too often we make excuses about writing. How many people have said they’ve got a novel inside them? Don’t just talk about it, write the thing! The truth is if we want to write we will make it happen. In my case, I wrote six novels in the course of one year. Five of those were while I was editing a magazine, and for half that time I had home-educated teenagers. When did I write? Between about 4am and 8am. I wrote like a mad woman, not because I was ‘mad’, and certainly not because I’m a ‘morning person’; I wrote because the fire burned brightly in my belly. I wanted to write, and so I did.

If you want to write, you’ll find a way. You might choose to go barefoot, or perhaps you’ll wear 6-inch red heels and sip a cappuccino in a fancy café while you’re jotting down sentences. If scribbling important thoughts on loo paper isn’t your thing, try parchment and a fountain pen.

The only person who ever stops us from being a writer is ourselves.

Did you ever watch the movie Field of Dreams? If there’s anything to remember from that film, it’s this: build it, and they will come. And I say: write it, and they will read it.