Peace-Weavers and Shield-Maidens

“…early English women, wifmenn, were also seen as spinning and weaving the threads that held societies together. One Old English word for a high-born woman who married to make or keep the peace… is frithuwebbe: peace-weaver. This is take the act of weaving in a very profound religious sense. It connects the particular work of women with the work of the greatest weaver of all, Wyrd, the original Weaver who is also the Web.

Wyrd is the nature and destined course of the world: her name comes from the verb weorthan: to become.” – Peace-Weavers and Shield-Maidens: Women in Early English Society by Kathleen Hurbert

Just finished reading this fantastic book, Peace-Weavers and Shield-Maidens: Women in Early English Society by Kathleen Hurbert, which was a gift from Gabriel for my birthday.

Short, but fascinating, it looks at historical accounts of the earliest English women and their varied roles in their society, from queens to fishwives, abbesses to warriors, as well as how these important understandings about the nature of womenhood have fallen into obscurity over the centuries, to all of our detriment.

Wonderful, illuminating reading and great inspiration for stories too :)

Plus – I absolutely love the image on the front!

No Net Til Noon Update

A couple of weeks ago I decided to forgo all internet until after lunch, every day of the week.

The idea was brought about by many influences – wanting to engage with the trolls more, wanting to create and move more, a movement towards simplicity in our family life, and a recognition of information stress causing me problems.

The move was also part of a wider family shift that’s been ongoing for a few years now, but has sped up since the arrival of Troll No.4 earlier in the year – and it comes on the back of getting rid of our chairs, installing a hanging bar, getting rid of our TV and going vegan.

So – an update. How’s it been since? Well, at first it was annoying how often I had to stop myself from checking email or pinterest on my phone – All. The. Time. But that lasted only a couple of days.

Suddenly, I found that my mornings seemed to have elongated by a few hours. I’ve been getting more done than ever before, without any feeling of rush or stress, as well as feeling generally more active and less inclined to remain sitting all morning.

For example, this morning I’ve mad ratatouille for breakfast, changed the beds, put away the washing, done some stretching and hanging with the trolls to music, had a quiet 1/2 hour with No.4 and a cup of tea while I fed her, backed up my phone, booked appointments for later in the week, done some journaling, called my mum and written this blog post. And it’s only 11:55!

Lesson One from this experiment: technology eats time.

(PS: Obviously, I didn’t post this post during that time – that would have involved the internet. Nope, I wrote it with that ancient tech called a pen.)

Thank you, Katy Bowman

It says in my bio that I’m into natural movement. This is a term that I learned from Katy Bowman (M.S no less!) of KatySays fame – you can go and learn more about the terms and concepts there, as well as the reasons why it’s so important.

But in practical terms, it means we’re odd. Well, we could be considered odd in many ways and for many reasons, as far as some people are concerned, but in this particular instance, it means we’re quite clearly odd in the way that our home is set up.


Exhibit A: Pic of our lounge, sans sofa.

We have one chair in our house. It’s up in the study, under some towels, which it’s very good at drying.

Sorry, I lie – we have two other chairs in our house – blue, £5 fold up chairs that live under the stairs and come out for grandparents when they visit. One of them is broken.

But other than that- no chairs. No sofa. No kitchen table, but a low coffee table and some cushions. We sit on the floor, or we stand. This means that we sit in a multitude of positions, except the ubiquitous 90 degree one that chairs promote.

We also move a lot more – we have to get up and down off the floor over and over, all day. Since getting rid of chairs, my legs have the strength to do a slow squat, repeatedly.

Oh, yeah – we do have toilets. Do they count as chairs?

Exhibit B: Pic of our playroom, with swings.

Exhibit B: Pic of our playroom, with swings.

 We have also added to our home as well as taking away the chairs.

By installing a scaffolding bar in the playroom, we now have space to swing, hang and generally monkey around every day, even if it’s raining and we’re too soft to go out in it.

The trolls, in particular, love the hoops.



Exhibit C: Silly shoes.

Finally, we were wearing fivefingers and other minimal shoes before I started learning from Katy about natural movement, but we wear them more now, and try to take them off as much as possible on walks.

We’re lucky, in that this step hasn’t been too arduous as neither Gabriel nor I have ever been much of a fan of heels or stiff shoes.

(I was once told by my osteopath that my walking boots were causing my toe pain because they were too rigid – I remember that man in my prayers with thanks!)

So – there you have some of it. A lot of the rest is technical and Katy does a brilliant job of describing it all, with very cute pictures, if you’re interested. Stuff like hamstring stretches and neutral pelvis’s… pelvi…? Yes, those.

Why am I thinking about this today? Well, I’m half way through the first read through of my next novel – and it’s the first one I’ve done entirely on the floor – that’s my ‘office’ in the first picture. My back is getting use to it…. slowly :)

Dear Clarks

I know, I know – it was only the other day that I got on my high horse, but… well, just read it and you’ll understand the frustration. Especially if you’re a parent looking for childrens shoes.

“I came to Clarks today looking for good quality wellies for my three small children, two boys and a girl.

Unfortunately, I won’t be buying any wellies from you, as I’m so disappointed and frustrated by your separation of all the wellies in to ‘boys wellies’ and ‘girls wellies’ – complete with pirate boots for the boys and flowers for the girls.

This is the 21st century, and while it may seem trivial, separating and labelling certain topics as for boys or girls only gives the wrong message to my children and upholds ridiculous gender stereotypes.

If my daughter wants to wear pirate boots, to buy them in your store she’d have to go to the ‘boys’ section and be told, by your company’s very convincing looking signs, that pirates are for boys only.

Similarly, if my sons want to wear pink or strawberry wellies, they would have to go to the girls section and receive the message that there’s something wrong with them, that they’re not proper ‘boys’ for wearing ‘girls’ boots.

Children aren’t stupid, and they get the message loud and clear. And these messages have an impact, especially when they’re received year after year, from adverts, signage and all the other sources they’re exposed to.

This is un-acceptable behaviour from any company that’s supposed to be child friendly, and I won’t support a business that continues to market as though we’re in the 1950s. You can do better!”

Phew – emailed to Clarks, now I can get on with my evening.


Loving the #HeforShe campaign started by Emma Watson. Also love something she said in her speech – something along the lines of ‘this isn’t just a women’s issue’.

Damn, she’s right. This is something I’ve been thinking for a long time, not just as a mother of two daughters but also as the mother of two sons. For me, feminism is a part of the Men’s Movement, or alternatively the Men’s Movement is part of feminism.

While my  reasons for why women and girls need gender equality are endless, I wanted to write today about why gender equality is also vital for the health, wellbeing and happiness of our boys and men.

Obviously, these are huge issues – I’m skimming them to give a snaphot of why this is such a huge issue for men too…

Little Boys:

Boys are given maps about masculinity that tell them they can’t be both strong and nurturing, sensitive and funny, smart and creative – these maps aren’t just damaging, they’re soul destroying. Especially to those whose interests run counter to warrior action figures, lego and sports.

What about all those little boys who like pink & glitter, singing along to musicals, sitting under trees and reading, snuggling with their family, thinking deeply about their own quiet musings and everything else that little boys aren’t ‘meant’ to be about?

Billy Eliot, unfortunately, got lucky.

Teenage Boys:

Now we come to the real losers – the one’s who’s personal relationships are marred, sometimes for the rest of their lives, by skewed, unattainable, intimacy-destroying sexual maps from our mass culture.

Whose physical development requires more movement than our schools can provide, and who are then labelled as stupid when they can’t sit still.

Who are cut off from the real relatioinships that they need – with healthy, adult men and women who treat each other with respect – because those adults are working themselves to death, and so all the maps these boys get come from computer games, films and their boy tribes.

These boys also have to deal with even more pressures to conform to ‘masculine’ values – from looking strong or older than they are, being unsafe at school due to gang cultures, being unable to openly express their sexuality, sensitivity, creative preferences, even their personal tastes about what music they like or don’t like.

Provided with no real, healthy, whole masculine role models, they can only piece together what a real man is – and end up with a caricature.


From being told they’re ‘not good with babies’ to people assuming that they’re not interested. Their parental rights are under-respected and many of them are treated as walking cash machines – as though the only thing they have of value for their families is their ability to work.

Still told that they’re not good with feelings, or with expressing themselves, I’ve seen many men put down by their wives, infront of strangers – hopefully unconsciously.

Just because we’ve been doing the areas of childcare, nuturing, teaching, cleaning, cooking and family planning for so long, doesn’t mean that our men don’t have a whole world to offer our families in these areas.

Older Men:

How many older men do you know that have worked their entire lives in a job they didn’t enjoy, in hours that were unhealthy, for people they didn’t like – simply because they were taught that that is a man’s duty? Or because they felt unable to offer anything else to the people who relied on them?

How many of them no longer know their children because they came home late every night and went to work early? How many now have stress induced illnesses? How many are terrified by retirement, not knowing how to spend a whole day with their loved ones, or by themselves?

True Masculinity

I’m not saying that all of these things are forced upon men – and many men certainly say ‘no thank you’ and try to forge a new way of thinking about their masculinity. But that struggle to re-define themselves and their roles in their families and communities, is as important, and as difficult, and often as dangerous, for men as it is for women.

True masculinity is beautiful, tender, fierce, passionate, creative, rational, playful, honourable, courageous and strong. True men are a wonder to behold, and never stand for any kind of inequality or cruelty, no matter the target. We need true men like these, to be our husbands, fathers, friends.


The change that we are creating in the world today is not just about raising women up and giving them the freedoms that men have had for centuries. It’s also about striving for new freedoms, for everyone, that will allow all of our children to live with more health, more love, and more happiness.

We can’t have these freedoms if we only focus on half of the equation. And that’s why I’m #sheforhe


No Net ‘Til Noon

In line with our continuing commitment to simplicity in the Tamaya home, I’ve established a new rule this week:

No Net ‘Til Noon

That’s right folks, I’m committing to not using the internet – laptop, ipad or phone – before lunch, except in dire emergencies of the ‘where’s the nearest plumber’ variety.

Today is Day One of said new rule, and I have to say this morning was about 100% more relaxing, enjoyable and also productive than previous mornings have been, since say…. oh, my 2nd child arrived.

I did my movement and hanging, tidied some washing, practised some sketching, had a nap (on the floor), did the shopping list, fed the baby, dealt with a four year old doing a volcano impression, hugged all of my children atleast 4 times more than normal, and even managed to meditate. For a full 2 minutes.

Which, as anyone who is in sole charge of 4 children under 6 years knows, is no small feat.

Also, I figured out the name of my first graphic novel in my sleep.

[I did not find a suitable pic for this post, as simplicity just brings up dashboards and leaves on - so the above is a shameless display of Gabriel's new work. Isn't it lovely!]