Being vegan in 2020

Cow and calf wallpiece cropped 2

I have written 2 blog posts about my Veganism so far my vegan journey and coping with sadness. Since writing those I’d say my thoughts on the subject of Veganism have changed a little, expanded to care more about human animals too, especially those who are exploited in the animal meat, dairy and egg industries as well as those affected the most by climate change which is often the global south and black indigenous people of colour (BIPOC). I first began learning about these truths regarding Veganism, climate change and racism as the media attention greatly increased around the black lives matter movement following the death of George Floyd this year. As I came face to face with my own white privilege I saw how this is prevalent within my Veganism as well as every other part of my life. This led me to vegan and environmentalist black activists who taught me about the intersectional nature of race, speciesism, class, ableism, sexuality, gender and more.

Veganism is the morally driven practise of reducing animal cruelty where possible. I don’t buy or eat animal meat, any foods containing cows milk, eggs, fish or honey. I don’t buy leather, wool and buy toiletries and household products labelled as both vegan and cruelty free. I also am considerate of where my plant based foods such as soy, almonds, cashews, chocolate, coconuts and avocados are coming from and whether humans and animals are being oppressed in the supply chain despite there being no animal products in the food. This list is not exhaustive and my Veganism extends to other areas in my life where my purchasing decisions may affect the rights of wild animals and the environment too. I realise this may all sound quite complex if you are not vegan or if you are beginning your transition to a vegan diet. Rest assured this was all a gradual process for me too and I didn’t flip the switch from being an animal meat eater to being a more ethical vegan overnight. My best advice would be to just keep open to learning, follow those who practise consistent anti oppression by reading their books, online articles, social media or you tube, however you best absorb information and pay them for their work if you can (I have shared links below to those who have helped me).

Recently I am learning more about how food choices relating to animal agriculture and climate change can negatively impact the most oppressed in our society, all too often BIPOC. It is widely known that animal agriculture is one of the leading causes of climate change. The vast amount of land needed for grazing animals and for growing animal feed markedly increases greenhouse gases, uses incredible amounts of water and destroys immense areas of the amazon rainforest through deforestation. The effects of climate change are felt foremost by the global south and BIPOC (The international organisation for migration projects that between 25 million and 1.5 billion people will have to leave their homes by 2050).

BIPOC are more at risk of living in lower income areas and food apartheids which also tend to be the ones closest to factory farms and are therefore affected most by the toxic run off from these farms which seeps into their water systems and is sprayed into the air locals breathe. Slaughter house workers are more likely to be black. The risk of physical injury through the repetitive cutting every few seconds, the recent high rates of covid in these places of work, and the alarming rates of ptsd due to the constant violence they are subjected to is part of environmental racism. It is interesting to note that in the US the largest growing group of people going vegan are black people. Which leads us to our beliefs that Veganism is a white thing. When I imagine a vegan I imagine a white yoga loving, middle upper class, slim, straight, cis gender woman and I don’t think I’m alone in this. This can make mainstream Veganism inaccessible to black people through our leaving out of black voices where we need them the most. I often hear an argument from white animal meat eaters that indigenous communities eat animal meat and therefore Veganism is classist. This argument is flawed for many reasons and lies in the white privilege of us being ignorant to the fact that many indigenous cultures have practised plant based diets, non violence to animals and a symbiotic relationship with nature for generations. Veganism is not a white idea. Whilst there are complex socio-economic layers that may make animal meat part of the diets of some of the poorest in our world, ask yourself if you are that person and whether you have the privilege to reduce your harm towards humans and animals through your food and lifestyle choices.

And if my terrible writing isn’t enough to convince you of the intersectional nature of racism and speciesism, amongst others then please head to this you tube talk by Christopher Sebastian (White Meat: How Did Animal Exploitation Become a Signifier for White National Identity and How Do We Fight It?) which discusses the whitified nature of pushing animal flesh and secretions upon society for the white mans gain whilst simultaneously oppressing BIPOC, animals and the environment.

Whilst for me just learning about animal cruelty in farming was enough to draw out my empathy and make initial changes to my diet and lifestyle (and while we’re here, just because the farm you get your milk from doesn’t take calves away from their mother for months rather than hours – female cows would naturally stay with their mothers for life.. and just because a farm allows a cow to live for longer and be grass fed before she makes her terrifying journey to the slaughterhouse and ultimately her death doesn’t make your meat/dairy ethical) these layers of intersectionality deepen the discussion and help us understand that you can’t successfully fight speciesism without fighting racism. And that by amplifying the voices of BIPOC in mainstream Veganism by sharing their work and paying them for it then we help animals, people and the planet. We are stronger together in the fight against white patriarchal oppression as anything that fuels separation will harm us all.

below are the people that I am learning from in my ongoing learning of a consistent anti oppression approach to collective liberation:

 

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/iye.loves.life/

https://www.instagram.com/brownfeministvegan/

https://www.instagram.com/xeviemuir/ (patreon in her profile for racism, Veganism and domestic violence)

https://www.instagram.com/foodempowermentproject/

https://www.instagram.com/the_christopher_sebastian/

https://www.instagram.com/soul_eubanks/

https://www.instagram.com/fulanivegan/

https://www.instagram.com/intersectionalenvironmentalist/

https://www.instagram.com/treesnpeace/

 

Podcasts:

https://radiopublic.com/the-yikes-podcast-6nKDQq/episodes

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/meatbusters/id1515218652

 

Others:

Aphro – ism – Essays on Pop culture, feminism and black Veganism https://aphro-ism.com

Evie Muir on intersectionality: https://www.brightzine.co/news/2020/6/2/lets-talk-about-intersectionality

Leah Thomas on why every environmentalist should be anti racist: https://www.vogue.com/article/why-every-environmentalist-should-be-anti-racist

Dr Ayana Elizabeth johnson on we can’t solve the climate crisis unless black lives matter: https://time.com/5864705/climate-change-black-lives-matter/

UN report – preventing the next pandemic (it’s long but fascinating) https://wedocs.unep.org/bitstream/handle/20.500.11822/32316/ZP.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

https://www.intersectionalenvironmentalist.com

Nutrition and more https://www.vegansociety.com

https://www.bda.uk.com/resource/british-dietetic-association-confirms-well-planned-vegan-diets-can-support-healthy-living-in-people-of-all-ages.html

 

Thanks for reading, Marie .

 

 

coping with sadness

This blog post is kind of a follow up to my recent post about how I became vegan. I realised that becoming vegan and my feelings about animal welfare since are so entwined with sadness and grief that it is a big subject and one worthy to talk about. And maybe it will help others, I doubt any of us are ever alone with what we feel. I also wonder if non vegans struggle with beginning the conversation within themselves about the correlation of their food choices and animal farming because the reality is so abhorrent. And so by opening up a dialogue of how to cope with learning about suffering, maybe that would help some to consider where their meals have come from and make changes that would ultimately reduce suffering around the globe.

For me making changes to be vegan were not really hard from a diet point of view. There are so many vegan options, recipes, nutritional advice, vegan blogs, instagram accounts out there that I knew I would get to grips with that in time. Although it was still a learning curve after having ate animal flesh and their secretions for 30 years. For me it was more about if I made a change to my diet then I had to look at why I was making that change. So that meant having to learn about animal farming. And although initially I only looked at it in small detail, what I read and saw was so horrifying to me it has actually erupted a lot of sadness. So going vegan was not an easy move because I had to face the reality of what happens to animals in farms, transport and slaughter houses to be able to make that choice. I was so much more comfortable in my ignorance.

And once you make that choice to be vegan you are then surrounded by people who you love and care for who continue to fund the abuse. And thats hard. Because you don’t want to upset people by telling them about the reality of what animals go through to become their food, its not really a nice dinner table topic! But you feel a disservice to those animals when you don’t speak up. You feel like part of the problem because you’re keeping quiet rather than telling the truth. Which is that animals are abused in the most sickening and abhorrent ways by us. We fund it and we ingest their flesh and their secretions. And it’s unnecessary. Although veganism is becoming more mainstream, I do wonder if more of us could live healthily on a vegan diet and significantly reduce animal abuse and climate change.

I have been vegan for 2 years and as I said I have felt so much sadness around it in that time, anger that it is allowed to happen, frustration and judgement that friends and family fund it and helplessness at what can I do about it. Towards the end of last year I was feeling so much judgement towards others that I finally realised it was an opportunity for me to address how I am processing my sadness and anger in an unhealthy way. Up until then I would feel angry or sad and either take it out on my husband or child in a short tempered way or I’d distract myself with the multitude of distractions available at our fingertips. I noticed that when those feelings came up I would hop on instagram and loose myself scrolling. Or I’d watch a film I’d seen a trillion times. Comforting and the perfect way to avoid nasty thoughts. I was completely missing the chance to find a way to process my feelings so that I could move forward and actually become helpful to animals. At that stage I wanted to donate some of my sales to animal charities but couldn’t bear the feelings that would come up when I began researching organisations. Theres no avoiding images, animal abuse stories when you are looking at several animal rights websites. I wanted to speak up more for them but I knew that would also involve more research into farming practices. And I thought I wouldn’t be able to cope with it.

Around a year ago I had begun meditating. I would practise every morning, getting up early and sitting downstairs before the house woke with a cup of tea. All it involves is breathing in and out, noticing when you start thinking about something and then going back to your breathing. And repeat. The point of it being to realise that you are not your thoughts. Your thoughts are just an amalgamation of what you have learnt from your care givers, your experiences and society. They are very repetitive and often unhelpful when they keep leading you down rabbitholes of sadness, anxiety and anger. Through my meditation I have slowly learnt (and continue to do so) to watch my thoughts rather than get consumed in them. So now if I feel anger for example, I try to watch the anger rather than getting caught up in it. I let it flow through me, allowing it to be part of me. And if I am able to watch it and not get consumed, then it politely leaves me. Like a cloud passing through me. And then I question why I felt that anger. And in the case of me feeling anger towards those who fund animal farming, I realise that my anger is actually coming from sadness for the animals affected rather than anger towards anyone. And then from that sadness I can decide what I can do about it.

In the same way, if I see an upsetting post about animal cruelty in farms or worse an image, instead of reaching for my distraction, I recognise I am feeling sad, I let the feeling come up. It either comes up as a strong sensation in my stomach, deep sadness or tears. And as I watch the sadness and allow it to be in my body it slowly drifts away. After practising this for a while I feel stronger and stronger to cope with upsetting things like animal abuse and other upsetting things I see and hear. Its gone from me feeling completely consumed and paralysed, to feeling that although its incredibly sad, whats really important is what I’m going to do about it. And that has empowered me to begin blogging about animal rights, making farm animal jewellery (I seriously couldn’t have even drawn a cow and her calf 6 months ago), researching animal charities and donating money to them. And as I practise dealing with my feelings healthily I feel stronger and stronger and my voice feels louder and louder.

Through processing my feelings it has also stripped away my judgements towards those who either are ignorant to many farming practises or who choose to continue to be a part of them. Although I know that this results in cruel treatment of animals and that makes me sad for those beings I also understand that suffering is part of our world as we know it. Whenever there is any wrongdoing in the world, there are always those who encourage it, those who do nothing about it, those who try to make changes and those who are victims to it. And there are a multitude of reasons behind each one of those. From privilege to be in a position to make change, poverty, ignorance, greed, habit, culture and so many more. My 30 years of consuming animals were definately due to ignorance, greed, habit and culture. Me getting caught up in anger and judgement will just waste my energy, and its uncompassionate to those who can’t for whatever reason make the changes I have made. Its also hypocritical to have any judgement of anyone because unless you are perfect yourself you have no right to judge someone else. And if someone was perfect, they would probably choose kindness over judgement anyway! Me judging is hypocritical of my 30 years of animal eating and any other way I have been selfish and unkind in my life. ‘He who cast the first stone’ is something I remind myself of daily.

Rather than spending my energy in judgement I’d rather spend it doing what I can to help. Even my small donations and little blogs will make some difference. And not consuming animal flesh, eggs and dairy for 2 years will have already saved lives. I’m a big believer that big changes come from our small actions and that even if governments will not choose compassion that there is so much power in us as individuals. If there is no one to fund these practices they won’t exist as they do now. The less people who buy animal flesh and their secretions the less animals that will live an existence of abuse. I remember seeing an instagram post years ago from my sister in law Jen who is a vegan ultrarunner. She had shared another of her delicious vegan meals and her caption read “if you want to reduce suffering in the world, start with whats on your plate”. I wasn’t vegan at the time but have never forgot the message that we can all make positive changes to the planet and its inhabitants.

At the minute some people seem to have lots of time on their hands and others seem to have less. There is no time for learning an extra language in this household. But I urge you to take some time to think about how you process your feelings around animals and their quality of lives in farms as a way to move into compassionate action towards eating less or none. It may help you leave a place of feeling paralysed and helpless to a place of confidence and power. If this virus is teaching us anything, its telling us that we *can* make significant changes to our lifestyles and even to the planet when we have to. That we are compassionate beings at our core.

Thanks for reading,

Marie

x

P.S My first step in learning about veganism and nutrition was via the Vegan society and I go back to it often, reminding myself of calcium, omegas, iron rich foods etc. And my favourite go to chefs are Aine Carlin , Anna JonesBosh , Meera Sodha , Rebel recipes and domestic gothess.

Feelings

my vegan journey

I thought I would share more about my vegan journey. As since becoming vegan I get asked about it a lot. And its something my own views have changed with over time. More recently I am feeling compelled to do more to help animals in need which is probably showing through my social media and ceramic pieces and I feel it may be useful to hear how and why I became vegan in case it was something you were considering too.

I grew up in a animal meat and 2 veg household. Until my 20s I doubt I ever had a vegan meal and I didn’t question it either. the ethical or health benefits of veganism never crossed my mind and I didn’t know any vegetarians or vegans. After a short career in the NHS I re trained in ceramics. During my design degree I took a trip to New Zealand with a friend and spending so much time in the countryside noticed the trucks of animals on their way to the slaughterhouses. I remember feeling so sad and sickened. My first realisation of what happens to animals so that I can eat them. I immediately attempted a vegetarian diet, failed, tried again and failed again. I failed because at that time I had a rubbish diet so a few months in each time I had strong cravings for protein and iron. I wasn’t substituting animal flesh I had just eliminated it. There wasn’t a lentil, seed or bean in sight.

A year or so later I rented a small shared studio space in Liverpool. All of a sudden I was surrounded by vegetarians and vegans. We had many social gatherings and studio events where everyone brought a dish. There was never any animal meat and the food was so colourful, fresh and varied I learnt so much about being a healthy vegetarian. At lunchtimes all my friends tucked into their delicious meatless meals and it helped me to make the step to becoming a vegetarian with a balanced diet. But I still thought being a vegan was going ‘a bit far’, ‘a little extreme’ and I was vegetarian for around 5 years.

When I was pregnant with Ted who is almost 3 I began to learn more about the dairy industry. I had never (even as a vegetarian) considered what life could be like for a cow, the demands for her milk, the demands that are so high that it results in her calf being taken from her at its birth or well before nature intended the separation. If the calf was ‘lucky’ to be female it could live a little longer than her brother who would be slaughtered very young for veal while she continued her mothers lineage at becoming a milking machine. I could no longer buy my animal products from the supermarkets and I spent time researching organic, higher welfare farms where I could buy dairy and eggs. I found a farm in Yorkshire and continued to buy from there for another year. It was more expensive so I ate less of it.

When Ted was 9 months old I no longer felt that me consuming eggs and dairy wouldn’t be affecting another beings quality of life. I remember feeling so strongly about animal welfare at that point and it was a decision made in a second to never consume animal meat or their secretions again. I learnt all about how to have a healthy and balanced vegan diet, the necessary supplements and found lots of new recipes and chefs for delicious meal ideas. But there was definately an adjustment period. I think heightened by the fact I still had a young baby. So self care was only imagined and it took some time to get on top of taking my supplements – particularly b12 (just remembering to really as I was often so tired my brain didn’t work) and to have healthy snacks rather than just sugary and caffeinated ones. It maybe took me 6 months to get into a rhythm.

Now that I’ve been vegan for just over 2 years I feel on top of it and healthy. While I decided to be vegan for ethical reasons rather than health I definately seem to have a more stable and healthy weight now. I don’t seem to fluctuate like I used to. I opt for as little processed vegan food as possible. The only animal flesh alternative I use is tofu preferring to steer clear of the processed alternatives and eat veg, nuts, seeds, grains, beans and pulses instead… for the most part… I’m not perfect. I do that to stay healthy and to avoid unnecessary plastic packaging, which may just end up harming marine animals rather than farm animals. Its also so much cheaper. And if you have a zero waste shop nearby, even better for the environment and even cheaper. Plus all the tubs and jars make your kitchen cupboards look nice ;)

When I first went vegan I was happy with being vegan alongside making other personal efforts to protect the environment. I had no cares about other peoples views, preferring to leave people to their own choices. Not even my husband’s who continued to eat animal meat and dairy. And my son who was vegetarian until age 2 (he is now vegan and thriving). But its funny, as soon as you raise the bar, you are satisfied initially and then you see the ways you could raise it further. And further. So began more learning about more aspects of farming, of sheep, chickens, fish, pigs, cows, the slaughter process, living conditions, life spans. I’ve met rescued pigs and chickens, learnt about their history and been sickened to my core at what I’ve heard and seen. I’ve also read the reasons against veganism to try and educate myself outside of my obvious emotional feelings towards animals but I haven’t been able to find anything that would make me personally change my views for this moment in time. I have gone from avid animal meat consumer to failed vegetarian twice, to vegetarian, to vegan, to animal advocate. Well I guess I’m at the beginning of being an animal advocate. So far I have hopefully saved many lives by being vegan for 2 years, through my donations to animal charities personally and through my sales. I feel in a place where I can begin to do more. I’m not sure how yet but I feel my place in the world is to be a voice for animals and to certainly support those who are so good at doing that already.

My first step in learning about veganism and nutrition was via the Vegan society and I go back to it often, reminding myself of calcium, omegas, iron rich foods etc. And my favourite go to chefs are Aine Carlin , Anna JonesBosh , Meera Sodha , and I’ve just come across domestic gothess.

Whilst this is an overview of how and why I became vegan. There has been alot of underlying sadness, suffering and feelings of helplessness under it. I’ve done a separate blog post here which is more in depth of some of my mental and emotional thoughts around the subject and how I cope with knowing what I now know about animal abuse in farms and finding the strength to learn about it and then do something about it over ignoring it. I know this is a heavy subject for many of us and I thank you for reading this far with me.

Warmest,

Marie

x

Despite it all, spring arrives

And so despite it all spring arrives.
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And with it blue skies, green grass and delicate blush blossom. The birds chirp well into the evening, frogs cross my path, daffodils cover the verges.
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I find myself delighting in it whilst at the same time thinking about the NHS workers. Hoping that they too get a chance to enjoy spring. That it doesn’t pass them by while they work hard to save people. That’s my duality right now. A mix of unabashed joy of being alive in this season of new beginnings. And stomach churning sadness for those working so hard so as many of us as possible can enjoy many more springs.
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And isn’t that life. There is no life of pure joy, of absolute perfection. There is always sadness, suffering somewhere close by. Learning to seek and embrace joy, no matter how small has got to be one of humanities greatest struggles. To find the light in the darkest moments. And if you get that far, then learning to let go of guilt when you feel happy whilst the rest of the world appears to be in pain.
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And its so important as without that ability you will follow the rest of the crowd straight down the dark rabbit hole. But if you keep your head, or even just the tip of your nose in the light, you’ll be able to navigate this time in thoughtfulness for others. If you are strong you will be strong for others. You’ll find energy you didn’t realise you had to give to animals and humans in need. The world doesn’t need us to just sit this out, to wait till we can get back out no different then we were a month ago. It needs us to look at ourselves and how we can come out of this remembering who we really are. Remembering that under all the nonsense we have been surrounded with our whole lives that really we are loving and giving beings and nothing else matters. That taking care of our own family is not enough anymore. That we need to take responsibility for other people’s families, for animals, and for the planet. And this doesn’t have to be in the form of big financial gestures, it may be or it might be planting flowers for the bugs and bees, composting your veg scraps, eating less or no meat and dairy, offering help to elderly neighbours, ringing a struggling friend, the list could go on and on.
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Spring is a season of new beginnings, a chance to look inwards and a chance to appreciate. An opportunity to clear out the old and embrace the new. If you can just keep looking up to the light.
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Today I’ve had some precious hours to make. And I’ve re stocked my online shop with my porcelain daffodil wall flowers. Thank-you for all your orders so far for these and my animal studs. You might have seen in my stories it’s enabled me to make donations to 2 nature supporting charities as 10% of the sales are donated. So thank-you for giving me the opportunity to do a job I love and the opportunity to donate money to help our planet and its inhabitants.
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Thanks for reading,
Marie
x

an ode to escapism in spring

daffs 3

As I sink deeper and deeper into my imagination, away from the uncertainty of this world..  life and all its meaning is clearer, exciting, magical. Full of spirit and colour. Full of animals allowed to be. A lamb resting upon her mothers back. Birds up above, dancing, joyously flitting through the warm spring skies. Occasional shade brought by the passing clouds. The golden yellow light of the sun, reflecting off the cool river. The pleasant splash of water as it hops over a rock. The rock, so grounded, in absolute harmony with mother nature, allowing the fast pace of life to leap over him as he watches and enjoys every ripple. Happy being a place for the resident heron to stand, while she precariously feeds herself from the abundance within the depth of the fresh river. Her feet cold, gripping upon the smooth rock. And the rock keeps still, he doesn’t dare to move, not even an inch, grounded, stable and supportive. And above and below him life continues as it has and always will do, while the water smoothes his skin and his crystals sparkle in the light.

Sometimes I wonder about the personalities of everything around me, the little lambs leaping like puppies around their tired mothers, the jackdaw pecking frantically at the bird feeder before she’s disturbed, the tiny bug racing away from me as I gently weed. The trees I touch as I pass through the woods, their soft moss. The stones who hold me safely as I cross the river.

When Ted sees a daffodil he tells me “that one’s watching the river” or “that one’s watching the holly tree” or “that one has a friend now”. In his little world the daffodils have identities and their own busy lives unique to one another. As we watch the daffodils for the extraordinary length of time that only a toddler can observe for, mere adults have long since lost that ability to get lost in a flower, I begin to imagine their lives too. Fleeting yearly visits really, a speck of time where they bloom so brightly. Yellow, reminding us that sunshine is on its way. Watching the dog walkers, the bees, enjoying the care of the admiring florist, ending their days under the light of the moon or in the family home, appreciated by all who gather around them at dinner. Before they sink back into the ground and rest until next year.

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daffs ted

 

I made this collection of daffodil wall flowers earlier this year. It seems a shame to waste them now. I have a few letterbox sized boxes they can fit in and suitable stamps and so I’ve just added them to my website should you wish for a little taste of spring upon your walls. As always 10% of all sales will be going to Pesticide Action Network UK.

Thank-you for reading,

Write again soon,

Marie

x

How to stay calm this Christmas season (or in life generally!)

Marie 11

I am the type of person who is prone to worry, anxiety and stress. I already have the kind of mind that moves at a speed too fast for my body. I am sure thats the reason why I require at least 8 hours sleep a night, 9 is ideal (yet somewhat impossible with a toddler who loves watching the sunrise).

Since I had my son 2 years ago I’ve had to take control of the worrisome trait to my character so that I can keep my head above water and enjoy my time with him and my time working. It was either that or live a life of exhaustion, crankiness and stress. Over the past few months I’ve written lists of what works for me and trialled different things with the only aim of enjoying the days, hours and minutes of my life.

I’ve managed to keep afloat using these techniques for the most part this year but December brings a new level of stressors to the mix. Financial, family and friends obligations, work gets mega busy and did I mention financial?! I can feel that familiar stressy voice poking me, trying to lead me back into it’s grasp. Trying to get my heart to freeze with worry and my mind to begin its 101 countdown of reasons why I should P A N I C . But I won’t let it. Instead I’m going to stick to my tried and tested formula, keep my mind and soul relaxed, my body nourished and glide through December calmly and productively, enjoying the glorious build up to Christmas.

I’d like to say that I know I am privileged. I have a caring and healthy family, a roof over my head and money to buy nourishing food. So I know that my suggestions only go so far to some people. I also know that when I am able to keep myself calm and grounded, I am kinder to everyone I come across.. my family, the cashier, the big issue seller. It’s the perfect time of year to care for yourself so that you can care for others.

So without further ado I’d love to share with you what works for me in case it works for you too. The more happier people on the planet there are, the happier the planet will be. And that can only start with you.. Simple :)

1. Begin your morning with a mediation. ***wait don’t go*** I know I know, you don’t have time… it’s not your thing.. been there. Our lives are so hectic and pressured, full of other peoples values, beliefs, requests, its hard to remember who we really are. When you meditate (and you practise, it’s hard to still the mind at first), you stop all the external voices getting in for maybe a second at first, several seconds, then minutes. It helps you ground yourself, work problems out without having to think them through, it’s more than just a few minutes of peace, it’s time truly with yourself being calm and being quiet. The simplest way I’ve found to slot it into my life is to set my alarm 10 minutes before my toddler tends to wake. I have my ear phones in my phone all ready by my bed, a guided meditation set up. All I have to do is stick my ear phones in and lie back in bed. I’m also trying to do the same as I get back into bed at night, or when I treat myself to a hot bath once the toddler is tucked up. If you’re opting for a guided meditation it’s quite a personal choice really. I like this one by Marianne Williamson, it energises and relaxes me at the same time. But if you want to hunt for one you like youtube has trillions. I can also recommend these by Ceinwyn Thomas at Hebden Bridge Therapy Centre. I’ve treated myself to her amazing reflexology in the past and she has a hypnotic, soothing voice. For £8 (not an ad!) you get 3 guided meditations. I use the 10 min one generally but a couple of times a week do the longer 25 minute ones too.

2. Reading. I love nothing more than curling up in front of the fire under a blanket with a good book. Or even better in bed at 8pm, cosy with the bedside lamp on. Reading the kind of book that reminds me that magic exists. Its so tempting to stick the tv on and loose your evening to it. I’m not saying thats worthless, I crave tv when I’m really tired, well I crave a good film (Harry Potter is my go to choice!). But an evening reading energises me, it opens up my world and is an easy way to never stop learning. At the minute I’m joyfully hooked to ‘Women who run with the wolves’ by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. A book about the knowing of a woman’s soul. Its amazing.

3. Eating well. We all know how easy it is to grab food on the go, pre packed sandwiches with questionable nutritional value, salty and sweet snacks. I am far from perfect but this Autumn I have been making up batches of soups, dahls and kitchari. They are cheap, nutritious, warming and delicious and they keep my energy levels up and bring me out of any tiredness. I eat all my meals at home but if you have a microwave at work I can’t recommend a hot lunch enough. I have toasted flatbreads or rice or both with dahls and kitchari and they keep me really full. I settle any sweet cravings with these banana and date cookie bites and this coconut latte. (Notes: Add any veg you like to mix up the dahl and kitchari. The cookies are especially delicious warm and so easy to make. I use any milk I have in for the latte – often soy or oat and I don’t froth it because I’m lazy and its still delicious! I use date syrup instead of honey as I’m vegan but you could use any syrup or sugar. I buy my tulsi tea from the Singing leaf via Valley Organics here in Hebden Bridge but I’m sure most health shops would sell it).

4. Exercise. I’m not necessarily talking about joining a gym, running, fast paced exercise. That may be your thing which is great but it doesn’t work for me. I start it and quit very quickly. I quit especially quick if theres any sort of strict routine associated with it, like a class at the same time every week or I announce I’m going to run twice a week. I thought I was lazy but I’ve finally worked out that if I keep it loose, relaxed and not in the slightest bit intensive I end up with a really lovely seasonal exercise program. It helps that I have a dog so that gets me out for a 30 minute minimum walk in the woods, up the hills and along the rivers every day. The effects of being out in nature don’t need to be shared here, and when I can team my walk up with quiet moments of reflection and clearing my mind I have the best 30 minutes of my day. I used to go to a lovely yoga class here in Hebden Bridge but didn’t stick to it but now I have joined Gaia and it has tonnes of yoga programs for different levels too (plus meditations). I squeeze in a couple of times a week, sometimes more and sometimes less. I love ‘deeper wisdom through yoga’ and ‘here comes the sun’ by Steph Schwartz and ‘balancing into bountiful energy’ by kreg weiss. I pay a monthly fee but if you didn’t want to sign up to anything just yet there are lots of free yoga videos on youtube too. This is about as energetic as I get through Winter. In the summer I was enjoying a walk up the hill to Pecket Well and a run back down twice a week in the evening sunshine and by the time it warms up I know I’ll be itching to do that again. Anyway in a long winded way I’m saying to find exercise that works for you, its not a one size fits all. Our bodies differ, our energy levels differ, some people are refreshed by a 10 mile run, others with a walk in the woods and a mindful stretch. Know your own body, mind and its needs and find a joyful way to exercise it. It loves to move, its muscles to be put to use, the tendons to stretch, the neck and back to stretch..

5. Mindful moments. This one is definately one in progress for me at the minute. The word ‘mindful’ can seem so vague and hard to apply to daily life and then theres remembering to be mindful. Here are a few ways I am trying to apply it at the minute. Firstly when I am brushing my teeth I am standing still, I’m not racing around the house toothbrush in my mouth, tidying with my spare hand. In between toddler demands I catch a couple of seconds of mindfulness, concentrating on my breathing only. Secondly when I’m in the shower instead of allowing my mind to race with the to dos for the day I spend those minutes thinking of things I am grateful for and thinking about how those wonderful things make me feel. thirdly when I’m washing up instead of rushing the task thinking about what needs doing next, I concentrate on my breathing and gratefully enjoy the hot water on my hands. Finally if I catch sight of a bird out the window, or a rustling tree, I treat myself by encouraging myself to watch it, not thinking about anything else. These 4 things give me only seconds/minutes of mindful moments but they make a difference to all the tasks that follow them throughout the day.

6. See your friends. I’m not talking about tonnes of social engagements and expensive activities. I’m talking about something relaxed like a coffee with a good friend. My favourite social meet up recently was a walk in the woods with a good friend and both our toddlers. It didn’t cost a thing, we were out in nature and we chatted about our lives, hopes and dreams freely with only the trees listening in. You might be a social butterfly who enjoys company regularly or you might be like me who loves a quiet meet up a couple of times a month with one or two really good friends. We all have differing levels of hermit needs! But I do know that the company of someone who has your best interests at heart is a precious jewel to be appreciated and treasured.

So thats my 2 pence worth. Hope it helps. I by no means live a perfect lifestyle where I adhere to every word I just wrote. I dip in and out of things, my life like yours ebbs and flows. But these are the things I keep coming back to time and again. They are optional tools and not a ‘you must do all these otherwise you will fail!’ I’m not particularly close to a life of perfection, I’m not even sure what that would look like. I’m not actually sure I want to. For now I’m enjoying the chaos of working everything out, step by step.

Wishing you a calm (ish) December,

Marie

x

 

diy make a porcelain owl christmas gift workshop

marie_013There’s nothing like a handmade gift for your friends and family (or for yourself!)

Come to my hillside home in beautiful Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire and make your own petite owl on a branch wall piece. I will teach you how to mould a branch out of porcelain clay, make your little owl and finally some tiny stars and a moon. You will be able to decorate your wall piece during the day with tools to add pattern and glazes to add colour.

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A light vegan lunch and cake is included with copious amounts of tea. Oh and a beautiful view of pretty Hebden Bridge while you craft.

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Later I will fire your piece in my kiln, add gold to the stars and moon and add these to your finished piece as well as a small hook for hanging then post it back to you a week later (£5 cost or you are welcome to pick it up) in plenty of time to get it up on your walls for the festive period or have it ready to be a very special christmas gift.

The one day workshop will run from 10am to 3pm. Whilst we’ll be making with porcelain clay I’ll also have air dry clay available for you to try and I’ll give you air dry clay tips so that you can continue crafting at home and fill your house with nature inspired wall art!

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The cost of this workshop is £65 per person.

For bookings of 2 or more it is £55 per person.
For bookings of 4 or more it is £50 per person.
For bookings of 8 or more it is £45 per person.

Please bring an extra £5 on the day if you would like your finished piece posting to you. Alternatively you are very welcome to pick it up. I am a short walk from Hebden Bridge train station and there is also plenty of parking nearby.

To book please follow one of these links:

For Saturday 23rd November 2019

For Saturday 7th December 2019

Hope to see you there and to spend the day crafting with you,

Marie x

 


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Ceramic workshops for hen parties in Hebden Bridge.

This year I am offering workshops for that extra special hen do. Perfect for the bride-to-be and her nearest and dearest who love craft, delicious food and relaxing in the countryside with fresh coffee and scrumptious cake.

I hold the workshops from my home where I live perched on the hillside above the small but very creative town of Hebden Bridge which is nestled in a beautiful valley in West Yorkshire. As the hillside is so steep, houses were built on top of one another to make best use of the land. It means you get to sit, relax and enjoy your workshop with wonderful views of our little valley. I can also travel to where you are staying and bring the workshop to you!

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 The workshop!

The workshop begins at 12pm and we finish around 3pm. Lunch is served at 12pm, closely followed by cake. All the food served is vegan and nutritious but totally delicious and homemade. Here’s an example of the menu:

  • Kale, sun-dried tomato, glazed carrot and hummus sandwiches.
  • Carrot and almond salad.
  • Cauliflower, walnut and olive salad.
  • Tahini and pea hummus.
  • Vanilla and caramel sponge cake.
  • Peanut butter and chocolate fudge.

The menu can be made completely nut-free and gluten free options are available at your request. Any other dietary requirements can also be accommodated. Delicious fresh coffee, a selection of teas, cold drinks and fresh lemon water are served throughout the day.

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We begin the workshop after lunch with a demonstration where I show you how to make your pieces.

You can choose to make one of the following:

  • Use fresh flowers to press into clay and create a collection of porcelain nature vessels. We will decorate them with pastel colours and translucent glaze. You will have time to make some for yourself and also one for the bride from each of you as a reminder of her wonderful hen do with her favourite people.
  • Create little floral or leaf porcelain earrings. Once they are made and fired in my kiln, I’ll attach the sterling silver backs and post them out to a member of your group.

We use a smooth porcelain clay which is wonderfully therapeutic to handle, as well as colourful glazes to decorate each piece. I fire them in my kiln and post them out to one chosen address.

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Getting here and prices:

Hebden Bridge has excellent train links to Leeds and Manchester as well as being less than an hours drive from both. My home is situated a 20 minute walk from the station where you pass plenty of wonderfully independent bars, pubs and shops. If I am too far away for you I can replicate the day wherever you are.

The total cost for the hen do workshop is £65 per person for a booking of 8+. Or £55 per person for a booking of 10+. This also includes a gift for the bride-to-be of a pair of my porcelain earrings (which the organiser can choose from here..).

There will be an extra charge if I am travelling to you and the cost will depend on the distance. Protective sheeting for your chosen venue will be provided and left clean and sparkling!

Enquire here with your chosen date, estimated number of hens and I’ll get back to you within 24 hours. And see below for a few more pics of my workshop in action..

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Thanks for reading and get in touch if you would like any further information on my hen do workshop here.. 

 

 

 

the handmade process

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I thought I’d share with you how I make my jewellery and bridal accessories. I remember first working with clay when I was in high school, I made a vase and painted it with acrylic paint. Prior to that I would spend days in the summer holidays making cups out of mud in my parents back garden. Little did I know that these first encounters would stay with me into my 20s. I didn’t work with clay again until I went back into education to a college to do my art foundation in my mid 20s. I loved it and was hooked. From that I went to University and worked with clay pretty much everyday for 3 years until leaving 4 years ago and setting up Marie Canning.

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Each of my pieces is handmade. I use porcelain, a very fine and smooth white clay. I make the intricate porcelain flowers by forming each petal with my hands and attaching them together using liquid clay. If its a coloured flower I delicately stain the porcelain first. Once the flowers have been hand built I load them into my small kiln and they fire for a day. Then I can add the coloured and translucent glazes, which I only add in small amounts as I love the matt effect of porcelain. Once they have been fired for yet another day I paint on the gold lustre again in tiny amounts so not to overpower the piece, then its back into the kiln for a third and final day.

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To finish each piece I either set the flower in sterling silver or gold to make the jewellery or I wire them together to make the hair accessories. To make the hair accessories I wire each flower one by one so it can take hours just to put a halo together.

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It really is a long and labourious process but so worth the hours when I see the end result. I put my all into each and every flower, the small details are so important to me and I want it to be a piece you will always treasure.

 


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