Time to say goodbye!

Funny how a pair of old boots can steal a place in your heart. I bought these boots all the way back in 2003 whilst at University, it’s strange to think they are older than my nephews who are starting senior school this year, it’s strange to think of just how many places I had never visited before I put those boots on my feet and started walking, it is also strange to think just how many pairs of boots, trainers and other types of foot ware they have out lived and yet now it is time for them to rest.

To put it into perspective these boots are 14 years old, they have almost touched soil in every continent, they have been a reliable companion on many a journey and never complained about the distance or the terrain they simply kept going. They have scaled mountains both in dry conditions and the snow, they have walked through rain forests and desserts, they have walked back and forth tirelessly almost everyday for 14 years. There’s that saying, ‘if it ain’t broke then don’t fix it’, well they’ve come to the end of their journey, the outside of the boot started to wear many years ago and yet they were fine to walk and hike in, however the inside of the boot has finally succumbed to the wearing passing of time and now the boot digs into the heel when it never use to.

Part of me thinks let’s fix them and give them more journeys to experience underfoot and the other part says ‘when your times up, your time is up’ and although I wish it not to be the latter as these old boots simply know my walk and my ways I almost feel it’s not fair to ask more of them after they have given so much.

A lyric runs through my head ‘the hardest part is letting go not taking part’, I hear it truly and of course these are not the first things in my life that I have had to part with, but they have reminded me of what happens over the course of a decade and more, of how much life changes, of how things that were have moved on and things I could not have known about are now here, for example I have two wonderful children now. 

The changing fortunes of time and a new pair of boots is on the horizon, this I guess is my way of showing gratitude to an old pair of boots, that were truly made for walking.

To the adventure.

Soaked Rice with Beetroot, Apple and Fennel Salad

A salad is all about how you dress it! 

This particular salad was dressed with soaked brown rice, mint sauce and home grown chard leaves and kale flowers. The reason for sharing is two main points: the soaked rice and the home grown additions!

I’ve been soaking my porridge oats overnight ready for breakfast for some years now, but for some reason I had not done the same with the grains I use for lunch and or dinner. The thing is when I prepare my porridge I am also usually making dinner so it’s a two birds one stone situation and yet when making breakfast it hadn’t dawned on me to prep lunch! Until now.

I have a sensitive digestive tract and grains are not my best friends when it comes to ease of digestion, yes liquorice and other digestive aids help, plus eating slowly and not over consuming all help, but ultimately soaking the grains really makes a huge impact on the texture, taste and ease of digestion, in my opinion it improves the overall experience in every way😀.

The salad was a simple grated salad dressed with a mix of tahini, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon and a pinch of salt, as my herb garden grows various herbs will be added to play with the flavour and feeling of the salad, however within the salad are already some homegrown beauties including kale flowers and chard leaves, homegrown always does and always will taste best and will be the best for you, I’m looking forward to the salad that’s close to 70% homegrown 😜🌱. 

Ultimately this salad looked great, tasted awesome, was hydrating and satiated my appetite and personally I think the secret lay within the soaking of the rice and the homegrown ingredients.

It’s all about how you dress a salad so go ahead and have fun with it.

To you all in great health.

Matt

A Man’s perspective on Breastfeeding!

Yep I’m a guy a guy who grew up in a world where the breast signaled temptation and fantasy, I even remember my younger years when  me and a friend of mine thought we were being the most outrageously awesome young males collecting sun page 3 girls and placing them in a folder that we could flick through and appreciate to put it politely. The point I’m making here is that when I was younger we had to work harder to see the naked flesh of a female, this is not an obstacle that faces the modern man or women, images of breasts are literally everywhere, the unhealthy image that is being set up of women’s breasts is going to make practices as natural breastfeeding harder not easier.

Being sexually curious as your growing up is great and should be explored, it’s as natural as a female breastfeeding her young, however if a young males first and overwhelming image of breasts is artificially sexualised then the other function breastfeeding, which in the big scheme of things is a tad more important becomes almost forgotten by both the male and more alarmingly the female!

With that in mind who am I to comment on the topic of breastfeeding? I really shouldn’t, but something has been niggling at me now for some time, being a fan of natural law a mother nurses her young simple, for sure complications occur and yes it’s not always possible, natural law or not nature has a mysterious way about her, but to simply not take part by choice makes no sense to me.

Whilst I’m a guy I am also a father, a father to a 6 year old boy and nearly 2 year old girl, both have been and are still being breastfed, my son has only recently stopped breastfeeding, which means he was breastfed up to the age of six at which point he simply stopped asking for what he called ‘booba’, he occasionally still asks, but it’s rare these days.

My daughter is currently breastfeeding, she happily announces that she wants ‘bomba’ so my wife’s breasts have endearingly been named ‘booba’ and ‘bomba’.

Adele is successfully breastfeeding, but I get it, not all women can, I’ve heard the multiple reasons why not, I must say some reasons are weak, but that is still that women’s choice, but what has intrigued me is what is informing that decision making process? I come from the mind set that if you want something enough you will find a way! Now don’t get me wrong I appreciate that some obstacles simply cannot be overcome, the obstacle is asking us to surrender, let go, accept and find another way, which could be a breast milk bank or a friend who can help nurse your young, either way obstacles exist and so do ways round them, through them and over them.

I remember watching a program about breastfeeding with my wife Adele as we were expecting parents, the program explored the many different ways and challenges that lay ahead, but the part that stood out for me at that time was when the young lady declared that she would not be breastfeeding because her breasts were for her man!

Now ultimately that is her choice, but as a man that actually made me feel sad for her and disappointed in him and confused at how as a society we have got to a point where people look at it that way, perhaps I shouldn’t be concerned because it’s her choice as I said, however I couldn’t help but disagree with her statement, simply because if her breasts belonged to anyone it was her, not to mention nature has her producing milk for a reason, again the societal influence lay heavy on this young couple because he as the man in a relationship with the mother to be could easily have stepped in and said no, stop, what is best for the baby? Whilst the decision I believe ultimately rests with the female I believe a male voice can help.

Other women on the show were cutting the breastfeeding time down because of work commitments, work will always come back, your child will only be young and requiring your breast milk for a short period of time, which if you make the time for now it can be achieved, not easy I appreciate that, but things that are worth while so often are not easy.

As a man I cannot and do not wish to own Adele’s breasts or any other body part for that matter, it is her body, much the same way my body is mine, I must respect her body and more importantly her as a human being, now more than ever before she is going to need my support as her body and her go through a change I will never experience called ‘motherhood’.

To me personally breastfeeding looks both like hard work and pretty easy, hard work because well Adele is on call 24 hours a day 7 days a week and so far has been for the last 6 years, now that’s endurance and perseverance. Easy because she has finally settled into the rhythm and so it’s very natural for her, it had challenges in the beginning for sure, but as she persevered she found a way and now it is very natural.

I remember another breastfeeding encounter I had before becoming a parent. Me and Adele were at a local community center to teach children’s yoga, the class was part of a bigger event, whilst we were waiting to teach our class I took a seat and watched the current activities being presented, a lady with a newborn sat next to me, I carried on watching the activities when she asked me a question, at this point I turned my attention and gaze towards her, however my eyes fell upon a naked pair of breasts, I personally was not offended in anyway shape or form a mum feeding her baby is nature’s design, however it was reminiscent of those days spent looking at the page 3 models only now it was real time and I was trapped between awkward images in my head and responses to my real time situation, there shouldn’t have been conflict, but there was internally. I gave the best answer I could muster under such circumstances and averted my attention back to the activities.

Adeles boobs were as I said on 24 hour demand and still are, they have been on an interesting journey shall we say. I still remember them in bras and out of bras during our before parenthood years, I remember the size and shape, it should be mentioned here that the size and shape was also affected by the birth control pill, both the going into it and coming of it, however the effect that extending breast feeding has on the female breast is something quite amazing. Over the 6 years they came out of bras as it was easier to feed from loose tops, which meant they went loose 😀 if you catch my meaning, then the vein network or mamory gland expansion or whatever it is that makes bumps and pulses appear throughout the breast cause another reaction, then if she doesn’t balance the feeding from left ‘booba’ to right ‘bomba’ then one becomes abnormally large whilst the other experiences deflation, which has me 😂 laughing and we won’t even go into what happens with the nipples😝.

It’s not funny at first for the female, this after all is her body, something she took a lot of time to dress and present to the world at large in a way that would make her feel confident and happy in the skin that she was in and now it was doing crazy out of shape and order things. 

Feeding two children at once deserves a medal, but even that she begun and they begun to make look easy and after 6 years of breastfeeding the lop sided, bumpy, pulsing, overall weird going ons of the female breast evened out, there is good news on the aesthetic front, the breasts recover themselves and are even more beautiful than before, 6 years out of a bra and all that tugging, pinching, grabbing and dragging has encouraged them to shape up if you like.

From the male perspective it’s a beautiful thing to observe, your children are bonding in a very special way with their mother, they are receiving the best nutrition available and when they need comforting because it’s a big and scary world out there especially when your pint sized the boob is a great tool for comforting them.

Yes the changes are challenging and yes you loose something you once had, but with patience and perseverance you gain things you never knew you would.

Extended breastfeeding naturally lends itself to co-sleeping and this is another life changing process that I may talk about and share at a later date.

On a closing note, yes the men in your life have more than likely been exposed to and willing participants of The sexualisation of the female in a variety of ways, which can present challenges when entering the parenthood and exploring extended breastfeeding and co-sleeping, however theses obstacles and challenges can be overcome if both parties work together as a team, that both parties accept where they have come from, where they are and where you envisage yourselves moving towards.

On a final closing note, I wish all you super breastfeeding mums out there a wonderful bonding experience with your child and all you awesome fathers and husbands of super breastfeeding mums I wish you all the joy and humour of watching the transition and demise of your ladies udders I mean breasts 😀 because if you don’t laugh well? 

Grown Men don’t Cry?

The stereotype of course, men don’t cry, suck it up lad, don’t show your weaknesses to anyone. The trouble is that love expresses itself in tears, the trouble is this, there are tears of sadness, tears of joy and tears for many other emotional states and technically speaking, it shouldn’t be a ‘trouble’ or a ‘problem’.

This morning I had the pleasure of an unexpected tear whilst watching a sunrise. I share this story now.

The sun rose high and as it did it painted the clouds red, orange, yellow and purple, a breath taking spectacle,

The starlings rose one by one in there collective hundreds from the long abandoned west pier, they danced effortlessly through the ever changing palette of colours in the rising sun’s sky,

The water facing the sun began to shine and yet when looking in a Westerly direction at the sea and all her surrounding vistas they looked cold. An intriguing contrast the warmth and light had penetrated most of what was life in that moment and yet a portion was still left cold and icy, why?

The icy cold water caught my attention, it froze me in a moment of time not the same as this and yet not that different either, why the contrast I wondered?

My heart I realised was in a similar position, recently it to had been lit by a rising sun, allowing a warmth to move through it and be given away from it and yet there was and still is this part of my heart that is hidden even from me and that was the cold reflection of the icy blue sea.

I allowed myself to feel my heart and its contrast as I gazed upon the multicoloured East and the Icy blue west, not thinking about anything in particular, then as my gaze settled into a nothingness racing across the calm waters of the icy blue western sea a tear appeared,

Where did you come from tear, surely not me? Why yes, the tear replied, where else could I have come from if not you? It’s just that I have no reason to shed a tear I countered, and  I’m not sure i’m comfortable looking out into the vastness of the blue ocean whilst little blue oceans of my own stream down the canyons of my weathered storm called my life.

I am but a tear, I am neither good, nor bad, I am free from judgement and so are you, you saw beauty in nature and in that moment saw the beauty of your own nature, you understood that you need not battle with yourself anymore and as you let go of the dams you had built inside of you I came out simply as a reminder, a reminder that we are water after all, that life is lived in the ebb and flow.

How many dams have I built tear? Ask your heart, tear answered, she knows and she will work with you to open the channels of your stagnant rivers so that they may run freely to once again nourish the heart and soul of life.

Men do cry and this was not my first tear and nor will it be my last, but it was one I felt had come from the heart.

Love to you all

Matt

 

Wild Waters – healing depression and other ailments.

I was happily swimming in the sea just yesterday morning, I may spend up to 10 minutes in the water before I give way to the urge to return to my comforts.

After nearly three years of cold water training I can with great confidence share the benefits of this practice as I have experienced it, I have met many people now who take to the wild waters during the cold winter months and in these meetings I have come across many different approaches, tips, do’s and don’t do’s. Due to the diversity, rather than say my way is the right way, I am simply compelled to share my experience and it will contradict and agree with other peoples experience.

Your experience is a valuable experience and I do not feel it can be wronged or righted in any way, its yours, as we share we open ourselves up to learning and growing, I have little time for right or wrong and therefor champion every person who finds there way of flowing with the ebb and flow of the wild waters, if through sharing someone is inspired to take action or be curious to explore another path and maybe try something completely new then great, that is its intention.

When I first jumped into the wild waters of the sea nearly 3 years ago I was DEPRESSED, WEAK and LOST to name just a few states of being that I was experiencing.

This may come as a surprise, just recently someone commented on how positively I come across after I had disclosed to them some of life’s obstacles and challenges that I had faced.

I am no longer DEPRESSED or WEAK, but am always a little bit LOST :), that’s more to do with accepting the unknown quality of life than to do with the fear of being LOST.
I attribute the overcoming of these conditions and the huge improvement in my overall health and wellbeing to the WILD WATERS.
I owe her a lot, for sure breathing exercises, meditation, yoga and qi gong along with playing with family and friends have helped, but connecting deeper with nature has enriched these interactions with life and I usually practice Qi Gong before a dip so that my mind and being is calm before going in.

My focus and clarity have improved, my ability to master my emotions, to be aware of my emotional self is transformational, I no longer need to be concerned about the angry bear within because I simply go and dunk him into the sea, anger can’t penetrate the euphoria of the embrace with the wild waters.

My skin is healing, which for someone who has suffered since childhood with skin complaints this is a big thing, I have also experienced experiences that words cannot bring to life and do justice for so you will simply need to trust me that there is something waiting for all of us in the wild waters that will transform and change our perspective of ourselves, the world we live in and life as a whole.

I found my heart in the cold waters, I felt its thud against my chest, I felt its power reach out through my arms and extending into the abyss via my fingertips, the power of the heart can move mountains and heal our suffering.

Everything takes time, in that first year the amount of pain and suffering I went through is almost indescribable, however with perseverance, patience and belief one overcomes these obstacles and challenges, awakening to a new you and yet that you was always there, but it was hidden from view.

Diving into the wild waters is a way of cleaning the you you think you are and showing you a you that you truly are. Akin to maya the veil of illusion, the sea can and will if you give her enough time pull back the veil of illusion a layer at a time.

Simple but not easy, its a beautiful mix of pain and pleasure, thats cold training in a nut shell and through diving into the wild chasm of the sea or any body of wild water the weight of the depressive self will float away into the there after, it will float back to you and cloak itself around your shoulders, however each time you remove that cloak to the sea it comes back less of a burden on those shoulders of yours, eventually after enough time has past you will no longer put that cloak back on.

Give yourself time and find the love in each breaking wave as it moves your spirit and soul in a way only the sea knows how.

Sending you love from me and the sea.

Matt

Growing an Avocado Plant

Well as a family we are slowly making a transition to a sustainable way of living and one of the requirements of that movement is the ability to grow your own produce.

Living in the U.K the thought of being able to grow an Avocado plant seemed unimaginable, however after watching a few YouTube videos on how to do it I figured I have nothing to loose in trying and so of I went, ate some beautiful Avocado and kept the seeds.

The pictures presented are growth from seed to current state over a 8 month period from when the seed was first placed in water. I lost many in my trials and tribulations, but from those losses I have 3 healthy plants who are continuing there growth despite it being winter, one plant the tallest of the two (I gave one to a friend, so I have two) is growing in a spot where very little sun light gets in during the winter and yet she appears to be happy😀. 

It takes about five years for it to fruit, but that’s cool five years appear to fly these days.

Will check back with you all in the summer to see how they are doing😀.

To you all in great health.

Matt

Happy New Year 

I spent the new year morning in the sea,

I wake to the usual tug of the duvet and embrace of the pillow, I close my eyes willing sleep to come back knowing that it will be a solo swim today,

The sea raises her magnet to the sky aiming it in my direction and pulls me to her,

I find my clothes and pack my bags and off I go,

It’s grey sky’s with a slight drizzle, the wind is at a fair strength but not over bearing,

The tide is out, but she’s playful, I love these conditions and know straight away that soon I would be wading into those wild waters,

Clothes off swim shorts on and in I go,

She rushes towards me at speed, she slaps against my skin and splashes around my waist, I continue forward,

The waves rise higher so does my adrenaline,

I must stay present, if she takes me away on a high a crashing low will follow and yet one must embrace the play,

Rising high and diving under, swirling round and being engulfed by rapturous waves is exhilarating for the senses,

The starling murmeration sets off above me a floating ship riding its very on waves in the sky,

Time to return to shore, but first one must be grateful to this play of the sea and the elements,

This play will ride out for the rest of the year,

Happy new year everyone.

New Years Day in the Sea

Matt