Don’t go, Summer

With the Autumn Equinox behind us and the weather on the turn I’m feeling really nostalgic for all things Summer…both the baby and the season! This summer season was a biggie for our family. The anticipation of our second baby arriving, our last few months spent as a family of three and an intense heat wave certainly made it a summer to remember. Wow! Those days seem so long ago already and looking back at photos of our adventures with Jasmine and ‘bump’ brings me so much joy. How is it possible that Jasmine already seems to have grown up into a different child yet again in the few months that have passed since then? I have such happy memories of our time in the hot weather, playing in the paddling pool in our garden, spending hours outside, having picnics and ice creams, going to our first ‘festival’ and boiling away in the intense heat with only a single fan in the house to keep us cool. I will fondly remember this summer of fun, the 3 of us (and bump), and the gorgeous never-ending sunshine which I’ve come to appreciate so much these days.

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Jasmine enjoying the sunshine in the garden
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Jasmine at her first festival 4 days before Summer arrived

Then there’s the other Summer, our aptly named second baby girl born during the heat wave of July this year who has transformed us into a family of four, made Jasmine a big sister and brought us all more happiness than we could have imagined. Summer is growing and changing so quickly and the weeks are flying by in a flash. She has a huge gorgeous smile, takes lovely long naps and has such an easy-going and relaxed nature (so far!) I am in absolutely no rush for her to grow up and wish I could slow down time to enjoy her just as she is, to soak in those snuggles and stare at those eyes. I already worry that my memories of her time as a newborn seem distant. Did I take enough photos? Will I remember those precious first weeks in years to come? Did I make enough time to take it all in? I haven’t recorded all the details or memorised the dates of her milestones because time just seems to have vanished somehow. (They said this would happen with baby number 2 and I guess ‘they’ must be right!) Summer will soon be 3 months old and although there is so much fun ahead of us, my heart feels a little sad that my little one is already growing up so much and there’s nothing I can do to stop it!

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Summer as a newborn

So summer is over and autumn is officially here. My newborn has grown in a flash and I’m left with a feeling of slight sadness and apprehension. The seasonal change at this time of year is always a challenge for me, let alone when the clocks change! I adore long light evenings and detest it getting dark at 4pm. I’ve noticed that with the seasons changing, my thought pattern is becoming a little negative and that is something I need to keep in check. I’m feeling disgruntled at thoughts of cold weather and the inevitable colds and flues that Jasmine will bring home from nursery and no doubt pass to her sister. I’m aware that the upcoming seasons present an even greater challenge to be productive and active and resist the urge to hibernate under a blanket every night of the week. I’m already longing for another summer of sun that now seems so far away. The transition this year is more difficult than ever because it carries more emotional significance and I feel like I’m saying goodbye to a time I will never get back again but have enjoyed so, so much. I know I need to remain positive, get outside, focus on my gratitude and move with the flow of life, which includes babies growing up and seasons changing and as always, I’m focusing on the lessons that all these feelings can teach me.

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Newborn yawns

Being your Mummy teaches me so much and no less on this occasion. This week and in this transition, I’m focusing my thoughts on these important things….

  • Practicing mindful parenting. Learning to slow down and savour those precious moments without distractions. Taking time to really ‘be’ with my children, whether it’s for half an hour or five minutes but to be fully present is such a rewarding experience but can be so hard to accomplish in today’s world of business and ‘to do’ lists.
  • Go with the flow. The seasons changing is part of life (especially living in the UK) and is also Mother Nature’s best work. Every season comes back around each year and moving with the flow of this can help me to remain tuned in to all the good things that they bring. Each season and each new stage with a baby brings about new beginnings and new things to enjoy.
  • All good things must come to an end. The glorious, precious newborn days (which I appreciated so much more this time round) may have come to an end but it doesn’t mean the memories aren’t there. The good things teach us what we love about life. For me this summer has shown me I appreciate hot weather and being outside with Jasmine and that I can strive to achieve elements of that in the other seasons too.
  • Take photos! Yes, technology is both a blessing and a curse and yes our phones can take us away from being present with our kids but I am so thankful for our ability to capture happy moments on camera with no limitations. One of my favourite things to do is look back at photos on my phone whether it’s from a year ago or a week ago and it never fails to make be smile thinking about those moments or talking about how much Jasmine and Summer have changed. Photos are a way of preserving memories both for myself and my girls.
  • Gratitude. This is the biggie! I know that when I’m feeling low or when those negative thought patterns kick in, coming back to a gratitude practice always lifts my mood. So rather than getting frustrated when it’s dark at 4pm and wishing for something else, I’m going to remember by gratitude practice. Gratitude for the change in seasons and the different experiences they bring. Gratitude for the abundant life I’m living. Gratitude for being a mother.
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Our smiley Summer

An important note about being vegan

Dear Jasmine,

As you will probably know by now, Daddy and I are both vegan and we are also raising you not to eat animals, because for our family, that is what we believe in. Just recently, your Grandma asked me what we would do if you ask us why some people in the family eat meat. She was worried you might think she was evil for eating meat if we are teaching you that it is our belief that eating meat is not ethical. She was worried it would impact your relationship with her and it got me thinking that there are a few very important things I want you to know about being vegan and about people who aren’t vegan….

Firstly, being vegan is a great thing to do but it doesn’t automatically make you a good person. We are vegan in our family because we don’t believe in eating animals. (No doubt we’ll get into this more deeply another time!) It’s also great for the planet and for your health and contrary to popular belief, it’s also good for people! Being vegan is a core value at the centre of our family. It’s what connects us together and is a huge part of our daily life, identity and something that we really want to teach you all about as you get older. We love being part of a strong vegan community and we hope you will love that too. Daddy and I weren’t always vegan though and we didn’t always know what we know now. Your journey will be quite different to our own!

As much as we advocate for being vegan and whole heartedly believe in its importance, there are certainly people who are choosing a vegan lifestyle, albeit for all the right reasons, who may not be living with compassion in other areas of their lives. As I said before, being vegan is always a good thing but it doesn’t make you a good person. You have to work hard to be a good person and that means extending the practice of compassion to all animals, humans included. Sometimes, this can be the hard part and writing you this letter today is my own reminder to do better here.

Living an ethical and compassionate life can take many forms and let me tell you, there are plenty of people in my life who I love dearly and admire greatly who aren’t vegan. Most of my friends and family aren’t vegan but I love and respect them all for the people they are and the good they are doing for the world. There are many people, both past and present, who inspire me to be a better person or make better choices, who aren’t vegan. There are many people doing other amazing and important things for the world, who aren’t vegan. Animal rights is a hugely important cause to stand for but it’s not the only thing you can choose to care about.

So yes, it may be a little sticky if one day you ask me why Grandma and Grandpa eat meat or why your friends at school eat animals when you don’t but the thing you must remember is to see the good in everyone you meet and you will find so much about people that you love, whether they are like you or not. Non-vegans, like many of your family, have other passions, other things they love and want to change about the world, other ways they are helping make the world a better place and I’d love you to learn about all of those things too.

Being vegan is a practice of non-violence, of compassion, of empathy, of peace. It’s a fantastic way to live your life but it’s not the way for everyone and the reasons for this are very complex! Of course I want to see a more vegan world. A world where animals are free and don’t suffer but the journey to that world isn’t straight forward. So as you grow up, I’ll happily try my best to answer your questions when you ask them, if you do, but I trust that your heart is big and wide open and that you will love wholly and fully those who are important to you, in spite of what they choose to eat.

If you decide to stay vegan too, of course you can be an activist and of course you can shout from the rooftops if it means the world to you like it does to me. Of course you can help to save animals’ lives by having conversations with people who aren’t vegan and I will encourage you to do so. Of course you can go to animal rights marches and find your passion but don’t judge others unkindly along the way if they don’t share your beliefs. Always maintain a sense of understanding and love for your fellow humans. The spiritual practice of veganism isn’t simply not eating animals. It’s non-violence and compassion and empathy in all walks of your life. It’s trying to be the best person you can be, both for the animals and for everyone you encounter. It’s extending compassion to the homeless, to the poor, to the vulnerable, to the mean and seemingly terrible people in the world. For loving those it’s easy to love and difficult to love. If you can live with peace in your heart, you’ll be doing a fabulous job.

So if Grandma still eats meat when you’re older (you never know, she might not!) then don’t judge her for it. Love your Grandma for all the amazing things about her, all the things she can teach you and all the ways she shows compassion for the world.

Love from, Mummy

Xxx