I haven’t written about grief. I thought about it a lot. Felt it immensely. And in the past 12 months incredibly so. Today marks 4 years since my beautiful Mum died. But for me it is doubly hard as it’s also 7 years today since I got married. Double whammy. In effect, my mother died on my wedding anniversary. And, since he and I are no longer, and my mum is no longer here, today is probably to the hardest day of the year from me…so many raw wounds reopened, so many memories come flooding back. I remember much of the fateful day 4 years ago when the doctors said there was ‘no more’ they could do and saying goodbye. Although we didn’t really day goodbye, we were one of those families that was putting on our brave faces right until the very end. I even remember when they began to turn everything off for my mum, she said “guys, it could take a few days, don’t be surprised”…she was comforting us in her dying hours…what an incredible person she was. It had been a long battle for her, and towards the end very trying on all of us. Yet my mum never complained. Can you imagine the agony and anxiety she felt day after day? Those long lonely nights, the beeping machines, the nurses in the ICU and the rounds and rounds of tests and needles and just everything. I spent something like 79 days straight visiting her in the hospital – doing what little I could to ease her suffering. Bringing in home made green smoothies, foot massage, watching TV together, chatting to doctors, and talking about life and planing the future together. I was very lucky to have had the time to spend with her and although I’m sad she didn’t get to meet my kids, I don’t think I would’ve had the time or ability to be with her that much in the hospital had the children been around. I am grateful as well that my ex-husband and I had a business together that I was able to take the time away from work to be with her. Despite the immense sadness, I am blessed in many ways. Apparently the cure for depression is gratitude, so today I want to be be grateful for all the wonderful things in my life over the last 4 years. I’ve been able to experience the most profound joy and happiness with the births of my two glorious children, who really, are the epitome of my mum. Happy, cheeky, smiley, love life, love people, make the room smile whenever they walk into it and every time I look at their blue eyes, I see her. My daughter Olivia has a profound likeness of my mum, something I am reminded by many great friends regularly and I do think part of the soul of my mum is in her. I constantly think I wish mum was here, but then I look at Olivia and say ‘here she is’ and the gift of being able to have a mother daughter relationship as well is so wonderfully special, I think Olivia came into my life just at the right time. So grief, you may upset me at times but you do not control me. I go on everyday with the thought in mind that ‘this too will make me stronger’ and if I could even be as strong for 5 minutes as my mum was in all those lonely years with her illness, then I will forever be grateful for that gift.
All 3 major things in my life have changed since then.
I now have 2 gorgeous kids who are one and three years old respectively, my mum isn’t here anymore and sadly and more recently my husband and I have separated. They are some pretty substantial and ground-breaking changes. And I am now at a complete point in my life where I am wondering what does my future look like, and where is my life is going to go….???
It’s scary, it’s exciting, it makes me nervous, it makes me incredibly sad….I’ve got lots of reading to do, lots of well meaning friends and a beautiful family around me, really I am very blessed. The next step is…how? Where…what?
I really feel the need for a creative outlet, and so as I already have this blog, I thought I may use it as a space to write about some of my adventures/ trials and tribulations of life as a ‘mother’ in need of ‘nurture’ and as I nurture myself, my children and bring some new awareness and awakening to what is my new life, I hope to gain some insights that may help you and me along the way. Thanks for reading.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted properly or with any regularity here…the past 3 years have seen me lose my mum, become a mum twice over, and adjust to all that in between raising two kids and supporting my husband and finishing off my Institute of Integrative Nutrition Course. I must confess there hasn’t been a lot of time to ‘Nurture’ this Mother in between the chaos and fun that is life! I first started writing this blog as I became fascinated with health and wellness and wanted to understand what really made us sick. And what I could do to support my mum as she was facing a tough cancer battle. It helped plant the seed for so much of my own personal discovery into health and wellness, and what I could do to really thrive and feel great, not just survive. It seems everyone is busy, everyone is ‘time-poor’ and although we are working harder than ever we are sicker than ever and more exhausted than ever. Dr Libby (drlibby.com) has been a long time mentor for me and it doesn’t surprise me that her game-changing book “Rushing Women’s Syndrome” still dominates shelf space. I’m blown away in hind-sight of how relevant it was of me to name this blog Mother Nurture and the focus that I now want to write about is exactly that, nurturing the mother. It’s going to be a goal to post two blogs per month on topics that seem relevant to me at the time, as well as some follow ups on previous articles that I now find more relevant than ever. Like most busy Mum’s I don’t have a lot of spare time but I hope you can find some ‘gold’ in some of the posts on here, and let me know of any feedback, good or bad!
I’ve recently become a mum for the second time, and I can honestly say with all my heart I have never been happier in my life. Sure there are some things that I wish were different in my world, the main one being that I wish my mum was here to hold my beautiful new baby girl, and to see my gorgeous little boy and how wonderful these children are, but another part of me knows that she IS with me every moment, and that the reason they are so wonderful is because of her influence. Over me as child and teaching me how to mother, and now as her spirit guides me on how to nurture my gorgeous babies. As I look at my two sleeping children, my 20 month toddler on the monitor as he has his day time nap, and my new baby girl asleep in her bassinet I have to pinch myself at how lucky I am. Some say you make your own luck, maybe you do, but I feel so grateful for this gift that is motherhood. There is so much written about how hard it is, and motherhood itself has become such a competitive sport that there is always a new ‘way’ to parent. But I wanted to take the time to remind myself how incredibly wonderful it is and how incredibly happy my children make me. I realise it is not everyone that feels this and it is not everyone who finds it so ‘easy’ so to speak…for me it comes naturally. I said to my husband the other day, there are not many things in life I am good at, but when it comes to being a mum I find that when I follow my instincts it seems so natural. The happiest of things are the simplest of things. The little kiss my son gives his baby sister, the little look of recognition from my 2 week old when I talk to her, the feeling of content as the four of us sit in bed in the morning, me feeding my daughter and my son watching on, my husband beside me, and the feeling inside me that we made these little people is so incredible and rewarding. It’s a lovely sunny day here, before his nap toddler has been playing happily on his own outside in the garden for what feels the first time ever and as they rest I wanted to take a moment to celebrate this happy feeling, and enjoy it. We are often too quick to feel a moment and move on to the next one and not enjoy it for all that it is. These incredibly simple little people in our lives can teach us so much and offer so much wisdom. As I said in the title, today I am jut feeling ridiculous amounts of happy and I hope you can have days like this too.
I take this name from its creator, a long time favourite Blog of mine to follow – My New Roots. Sarah has made it famous, but I feel that I must share this incredibly wonderful and delicious recipe with you. In Sarah’s words: “It took me a long time to settle on the title for this post. Why? Because it’s quite a statement to suggest that a humble loaf of bread will change your life. I am willing to be so bold.”
I can’t explain why this bread is so good, and why it is so life-changing but when there are so many things you “can’t” eat, it’s refreshing when you come across something so delicious and fulfilling that you enjoy making and sharing. All the ingredients are things I know are good for me and that I love consuming so to put them all together into a dish and call it bread…it’s just pure genius! I adore the fact too that I can now also create an open sandwich with some of my favourite toppings with this bread, for an easy and quick lunchtime snack. And, the fact that my little boy loves it, even when he was 9 months old and just working our solid food, is even more testament to me that it’s the right food for our family. Now that’s he’s 14 months, when I pull it out of the oven in the morning his eyes light up and he can demolish a whole piece within 5 minutes!
Makes 1 loafIngredients:
1 cup / 135g sunflower seeds
½ cup / 90g flax seeds
½ cup / 65g hazelnuts or almonds
1 ½ cups / 145g rolled oats (I buy gluten free oats)
2 Tbsp. chia seeds
4 Tbsp. psyllium seed husks (3 Tbsp. if using psyllium husk powder)
1 tsp. fine grain sea salt (add ½ tsp. if using coarse salt)
1 Tbsp. maple syrup (for sugar-free diets, use a pinch of stevia)
3 Tbsp. melted coconut oil or ghee
1 ½ cups / 350ml water
1. In a flexible, silicon loaf pan combine all dry ingredients, stirring well. Whisk maple syrup, oil and water together in a measuring cup. Add this to the dry ingredients and mix very well until everything is completely soaked and dough becomes very thick (if the dough is too thick to stir, add one or two teaspoons of water until the dough is manageable). Smooth out the top with the back of a spoon. Let sit out on the counter for at least 2 hours, or all day or overnight. To ensure the dough is ready, it should retain its shape even when you pull the sides of the loaf pan away from it it.
2. Preheat oven to 350°F / 175°C.
3. Place loaf pan in the oven on the middle rack, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove bread from loaf pan, place it upside down directly on the rack and bake for another 30-40 minutes. Bread is done when it sounds hollow when tapped. Let cool completely before slicing (difficult, but important).
4. Store bread in a tightly sealed container for up to five days. Freezes well too – slice before freezing for quick and easy toast!
(I sometimes use quinoa flakes in place of the rolled oats, you just need to add about 1/2 cup more water for absorption.)
As I have explained here, my husband and I quit sugar over two years ago. We both feel much better, less ‘foggy’ in the head and have lost inches all over. I also don’t eat dairy nor gluten so sometimes trying to find a delicious dessert or ‘treat’ that tastes good but fulfills all of our food ‘intolerances’ is a bit tricky. This coconut cheesecake however fits the bill. It is easy to prepare in your food processor or Thermomix, and packs a punch when presented with fresh berries at a dinner party!
1 and 1/2 cups desiccated coconut
1/2 cup cashews
10 medjool dates, seeds removed
2 tablespoons cacao or cocoa
1 tablespoon full fat coconut cream*
1 and 1/2 cup cashews (I cover these with water and soak them while I get out the other ingredients and make base)
1 cup full fat coconut cream*
4-5 tablespoons rice malt syrup
4 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon concentrated natural vanilla extract
pinch of salt
The first thing I do is cover the 1 and 1/2 cups of cashews for the topping with water. I set that aside to soak while I gather my ingredients and start the base.
Place the base ingredients into your food processor and blend at high speed until the mixture resembles a fine crumb. Press the mixture firmly into the base of a spring form pan. Mine is 18cm.
Place in the fridge to set while you make the topping.
Drain the cashews that have been soaking and place them into your food processor. Add 1 tablespoon of the coconut cream and blend at high speed. Add another tablespoon of the coconut cream, scrape the mixture back onto the blades and pulse again. You want to get this as smooth as possible. I typically add another tablespoon of the cream and give it one more pulse before moving on to the next step.
Add the remaining ingredients and blend until the mixture is smooth and well combined. Pour the mixture onto your base and place in the freezer for 4 – 6 hours to set.
You can serve it at this point or slice into serving and return to the freezer.
You can also make this cake in advance and simply remove it from the freezer around 20 – 30 minutes before slicing and serving.
*I buy the 270ml tin. I use one tablespoon in the base and the remainder in the topping
(Recipe credit must go to http://www.wholefoodsimply.com)
When my mum died, part of me died too. But I know she wouldn’t want that and would want the party to go on, fabulous food and wine, without her! One of the things my mum is remembered for and which was very special for our family is her cooking. Her cooking and understanding of flavours was amazing, and always brought us together. Whether it was a special occasion like a birthday or just a regular mid-week meal, the food was always restaurant quality. (My husband loves to tell me that our mid-week meals were still better than his family special occasion meals!). One of the lovely things that has happened to me since her passing, is discovering a recipe book she made for me with some of her favourite recipes and personalised handwritten notes about when to best serve these dishes, what I liked as a little girl and other special cooking tips.
One recipe I’d like to share with you is her lovely Chicken Marbella. Just the smell of it in the house makes me think of her and my siblings too all find great comfort in this meal. I’ve adjusted it to make it ‘sugar free’ but I’ve kept in the prunes which I think are a key part of the dish. A lovely moist chicken piece with freshly steamed greens and sweet potato mash – food for the soul.
This one is for you Mum. x
8- 10 organic chicken thighs
1 whole head of garlic
1/4 cup dried oregano
Course sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup pitted prunes
1/2 Spanish green olives
1/2 capers with a bit of juice
6 bay leaves
1/2 cup of rice malt syrup
1 cup white wine
1/2 cup Italian parsley finely chopped
In a large bowl combine chicken, garlic, oregano, pepper an salt, vinegar, Olive Oil, Prunes, Olives, capers, lime juice and bay leaves. Cover and let marinate in the fridge overnight.
Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Arrange chicken in pan and pour white wine around the pieces, then bake 45mins – 1hr, basting with the juice over the top regularly.
Serve with mashed sweet potato, steamed broccolini and sprinkle with cilantro or parsley.Use organic ingredients where you can, most importantly the chicken.
Enjoy. And please let me know what you think!