motherhood

Sweet Nourishment: a tasting workshop for kids...

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A few months ago, I was having a chat with my daughter Laly about the amount of sugar in snack foods, and what she calls “treats”. She loves to snack, and I’m fine with that as long as the snacks are nourishing. We got talking about why there is so much sugar in these packaged snack foods, and what the difference is between a nourishing treat and one that is, well, the complete opposite.

It’s a hard concept to explain to a 6 year old! That’s when I got an idea: Children (and us too!) learn so much through experience, so I suggested we make time on a weekend to create a nourishing treat tasting platter and she was so excited, she began brainstorming about all the foods we could put together! It went from being a ‘boring’ conversation to planning a visual feast!

Soon after, I attended one of my friend Emma’s events, which was in collaboration with a beautiful new local waterside café called The Galley. Emma is a renown naturopath with a passion for food. The Galley team was celebrating their arrival into the neighbourhood and wanted to share some of the wonderful dishes they offer on the menu, their focus being on fresh, seasonal ingredients. It was a beautiful sampling experience, with Emma sharing her incredible knowledge and passion for nutritious, delicious food, introducing us through our senses to the 5 best foods for cleansing during the spring season.

That’s when the next idea struck me: in collaboration with Emma, we could share the nourishing treat tasting with other children, creating a fun, interactive workshop! She loved the idea, and within an hour discussion we had nutted (perfect pun!) out the details. So here there are!

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If you have a child between 6-10 years old and live in the Inner West of Sydney or beyond, and want to empower your child to make healthy eating choices, we would love you to join us!

It will be on Saturday November 24, from 3-4:30pm at Emma’s beautiful clinic, Studio You, in Balmain. 

In between Halloween and Christmas, this is a great time to teach them what it means to nourish their mind & body through food, and to learn the difference between healthy sweets and damaging ones. They will be sampling all sorts of delicious treats, and you will both come away with your senses filled, empowered and ready to enjoy the approaching festive season in a nourishing way!

 You’ll find all the details here, please click to find out more and place your booking.

Here’s a little more info about Emma & I:

Emma Sutherland - Founder and director of Studio You, an integrated clinic supporting kids to thrive and grow into healthy adults. With over 15 years clinical experience working with families, Emma is a wealth of knowledge and inspiration. Emma is mum to 6 year old Sophia.

Pia Jane Bijkerk - As well as being a published author and photographer, Pia has worked as a food stylist for publications around the world, focusing on taste, colour, texture and nourishment. Her passion is to connect people to their creativity and intuition through her work. She loves working with children, creating interactive workshops that ignite creativity through play. Pia is mum to 6 year old Laly. 

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I LOVE creating interactive, intuitive workshops for kids, and I can’t wait to host this one with Emma. Hope to see you there! Let us know if you have any questions.

With Love,

Pia xx

It's All Up From Here! podcast is now live...

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I’m so thrilled to let you know about this collaboration, it’s something that I’ve been working on in the background for the past 6 months and here it is…

Welcome to Season One of the It’s All Up From Here! parent podcast, hosted by radio producer/presenter + ex-youth worker Shona Smith, alongside me, Pia Jane Bijkerk. This is a refreshing, unscripted & honest podcast opening up discussion on issues and topics of today, with the focus to bring back the fun to our parenting.

What I love about this is that both Shona & I have very different parenting styles, backgrounds & personalities - while Shona is effervescent and knowledgeable, I am, well, the heart wanderer: travelling along my parenting path led by my intuition & creativity. We are very good friends, and this collaboration came about after many wonderful discussions. I found I walked away from our conversations feeling uplifted and empowered to be on this wild parenting journey. There was so much great information shared. And after hosting some parenting workshops together in Sydney in 2017, we soon realised a podcast was in the making…

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Shona’s passion is to bring the joy back into parenting, for so many of us who feel overwhelmed and pressured to ‘get it right’. And my passion is to live wholeheartedly, guided by intuition. In this podcast we come together with honesty, openness and reality, without the bells & whistles or smoke & mirrors of social media. In fact, that is the topic of one of our upcoming episodes.

 This is Shona Smith! I love this photograph - it captures the humour, joy and warmth she brings everywhere she goes.

This is Shona Smith! I love this photograph - it captures the humour, joy and warmth she brings everywhere she goes.

Each time Shona uploads an episode, I’ll post it here on this page, but you can also subscribe via Apple Podcasts and Whooshkaa. Without further ado, a very big welcome to It’s All Up From Here! Bringing the joy & heart back to parenting.

With love,

Pia xx

Parenting from the Heart...

Last week on instagram, you may recall I wrote a raw & honest post about my experience of becoming a mother. It stirred up so much conversation about our individual experiences of parenting and the impact it has made on us, the many incredible comments were messages straight to my heart...

My friend Shona who has spent over 20 years as a youth worker & is a mum to two wonderful young men, was moved to action by the post (her inner fire was ignited!) and asked me if I’d consider inviting you to an evening discussion/workshop that her & I would co-host together. One of the things that struck me, after a number of conversations between us this past week while sharing our ideas and intentions for such an event, was when Shona told me this:

“My parents were the only people I ever heard say that they loved teenagers. They looked forward to us being teenagers. I had never heard that before from anyone! Most parents lamented the coming of the teenage years, feeling an ever-growing dread at the thought of what was to come and worse openly communicating that in front of their children."

Absolutely! I thought, I know my parents were those that probably dreaded it and certainly didn't talk about it afterwards with joy & lightness! And I know many of my friends today look at their teenage years as though they were horrible to their parents, and so dread their own children becoming teenagers. Shona continued...

"The sense of acceptance that I felt when I heard my parents say they loved teenagers was very powerful. It took away the power of the teenage rebellion. I’m not saying that it was all unicorns and rainbows but it was as smooth a transition for everyone in the family as any I had ever seen. And now having raised my own two teenage boys, I see, from first hand experience, the wisdom of their words.”

After I heard her say that, I was IN! And now we are super excited to let you know the details. It will be a casual & intimate evening 7:30-9:30pm on Tuesday March 20 at Shona’s beautiful home here in Rozelle, Sydney, where we will discuss a number of parenting topics close to our hearts, and problem solve with Shona’s guidance. This event is for parents of small children to teenagers. I’ll be the voice of our emotions (you know it!), and Shona will share the tools we can use to work through our challenges. You’ll leave feeling inspired & empowered as both a parent and person. 

Parenting from the Heart: A Path of fun, growth and LOVE...

All the info is up on my website now, here is the link.  There will be champagne and beautiful French cheeses of course (no event I host is complete without them!) It’s limited numbers as we want to keep the event intimate so if this is something you’d love to come along to, place your booking and we will email you with more details! I hope you can come along, it’s going to be a wonderful and life-enriching evening. Xx

Laly sings Liferaft, written by Sydnee Carter...

The other day on instagram I posted a snippet of the lullaby Laly sung to me the other night. I asked her if I could record it on my phone to share with you and she said yes. So I took a video of it in the dark, and Romain extracted the sound so I could share it with you here. 

This is a song I've been singing to her for the past few months. Every year or so I learn a few new songs to sing to her at night. I rarely sing traditional lullabies, instead I've chosen songs that I absolutely love - songs that have beautiful messages she can carry with her throughout her life. When I was pregnant with her 6 years ago, I learnt the words to these songs and sung them to her when I was relaxing in the bath, the heaviness of my body relieved in the gentle water; and kept singing them to her at night all these years. At bedtime, she chooses one or two songs for me to sing, but lately she's been wanting to sing them herself. 

The song list that has remained  strong for the past 5 years has been as follows...

Birds by Emiliana Torrini
Sunny Road by Emiliana Torrini
The Sweetest Gift by Sade (which we call "The Moon Song")
Dreaming My Dreams by The Cranberries (which we call "The Dream Song")
Angel Standing By by Jewel (which we call "The Angel Song")

And in between those I've made up a few of my own that she chooses ("Silver Star", for example, and a song called "Slaapa Slu" which my Mum used to sing), as well as some French ones (including "Dodo, l'enfant Do"). 

This one is a new one we've added called Liferaft, by young Australian singer & songwriter Sydnee Carter. I hope you enjoy Laly's version (lyrics below)...

Pick me up,
hold me in.
I am broken,
I'm nothing.
I am weak,
not strong like you
still need your hand
to make it through.
Oh darling, can't you see?
You're the lock
and I'm the key
and in the dark
when I am blind
you'ld be the like {we sing: You'll be the light}
I will find. 
And for you I would be
the life raft in the sea.
And for you i would be
the life raft in the sea.

Pick you up,
hold you in.
If you're broken,
let i begin. {we sing: Then I'll begin)
You're not weak,
you are strong.
Just take my hand,
and hear my song
you'ld be the like {we sing: You'll be the light}
I will find. 
And for you I would be
the life raft in the sea.
And for you i would be
the life raft in the sea.

xx

PS and here is Sydney Carter singing it herself, so beautiful. 

 

International Women's Day...

 self-portrait, capturing joy... "dance like no one is watching" March 2016  .................................................................

self-portrait, capturing joy... "dance like no one is watching" March 2016

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In the imbalance of our still-standing patriarchal society, there has been the need to mark one day of the year as International Women's Day. Is it just me who finds this absurd? Because obviously, every day is #internationalwomensday. I've seen posts on social media to celebrate "the strong women", and calls for women to "be bold". Because we live in a society with a skewed perspective, being bold & strong is what is seen to be 'best'. But here is what I've learnt: As a young girl, I was taught by example that the only way I could be heard was to be loud - a characteristic I did not possess - to talk over the top of the dominant men in my life (& there were many!). But when the fire in me sparked, triggered by a topic I was passionate about & needed to be heard, I was told to shhhh, shut up, be quiet, and "who do you think you are!". This I know is not unfamiliar to many, and has been acceptable behaviour in the past. But now, we are in transition. The female energy is bursting forth and it's pretty incredible to be alive right now, to be witness & part of it. And here's the crux of it: Women don't need to be 'bold' to exist. We don't need to be loud. We can be soft, we can be quiet, we can be gentle, or whatever the fuck we feel like being in the moment. We are enough, just as we are right now. 
Right now. And always. 


I've not told this story before, but when I was birthing Laly, I had the most wonderful knowing - all the bullshit I'd been fed over the years about being 'lesser' because I was female was stripped bare as I felt the eternal flow of birthing, of being female - there is nothing stronger or bolder in life than to be female: We ARE it. 


And to restore balance the call is to recognise & celebrate the feminine energy in you - no matter if you're male or female. To recognise & celebrate the feminine energy in nature and life. This is a special time of change in the world, and all of us are a part of it. We are opening. 

 

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Posted on instagram on Saturday, March 11, 2017. Here are some comments from the post:

 

jesse.made.itYes, yes & beyond yes! My perspective of these particular times has been exactly this...an opening...a time for healing...an emerging of what needs to come forth. It's been hard to explain to others, so it makes me feel at ease to read your thoughts. I feel confident as an American we will learn our most important lessons during these most challenging times. Where we are is exactly where we need to be. And, the female energy will rise because of it! ✨✨✨

 

anthesisbotanicalsYes, yes and yes!! As a female, and the mother of a male, I want {with ALL MY HEART!} to celebrate the feminine and masculine that shines through me, those I love, those I find hard to love and those I share the planet with. If I can achieve this I know I am evolving, expanding and growing. This energy that waxes and wanes is most certainly not of one gender only. Our genitals and genes are just exterior markers on maps that illustrate worlds we have yet to explore. Our energy is first and foremost HUMAN! Thank you @piajanebijkerk - Thank you!! Here's to the feminine AND masculine within us all. Here's to faith, love and tolerance. They have ALWAYS been the victors - no matter what the war. 💛💛💛

 

nylaadamsPreach, sister. Your words helped me connect with why my gut/heart finds this day absurd too. For me, it trivializes the all-pervasive feminine power that flows through ALL. I get that this day may foster discussion for some... but when women unapologetically own the power of the feminine every day, there is no need for a 24 hour reminder. Without intending to, the day is actually trivializing and demeaning. And who are we reminding of the "value" of women with this day?? Certainly not other women. There's no international men's day for a reason. When we no longer identify as a group who needs this "type" of recognition, we will finally realize that, as you say, we ARE it.

Adventure awaits...

Yesterday I dropped my little girl off for her first day of school. Her very first day. As we walked together toward our destination, hand in hand, I asked her, "So what can you think about when you're at school and I'm at home working?" She answered confidently, "our invisible string"*. "Yes!" I said,  "And don't forget about the rainbow that goes from my heart to yours".*  We contemplated out loud what she might do on her first day, our conversation was filled with lots of unanswered questions, lots of unknowns. We know that lots of unknowns simply means that an adventure awaits. I told her how excited I was for her, and that I would be so excited to see her at the end of the day and to hear all about it. When I left her she was drawing in her new classroom. We kissed, both of us quiet & courageous. I saw her pick up a pale pink pencil and draw a small circle in the top left corner of the paper, and then with the same pencil, begin to colour it in.

As I walked home, feeling emotion course through my body, I saw her as a baby in my memory: Swaddled, snug and safe in her cotton wrap like a caterpillar in its cocoon falling asleep in my arms. I only now fully grasp the meaning of the words spoken to me by the many wonderful wise souls who crossed our path in those early days. They would smile at me and my baby and say, "precious and fleeting times, enjoy this moment". And I did, I did enjoy those many moments.  And naturally yearned for the frustrating, helpless and hopeless moments to hurry up and pass as sleep deprivation took hold week in and week out. 

Although five years on as parents we both feel we are still catching up on sleep, and there are still frustrating and hopeless moments...it feels so different now. And being only at the beginning of this part of the journey, I'm just catching glimpses of how it will be different. I understand it's still precious and fleeting - oh to see those little ones in their uniforms, the little fish in the big sea! - as is every moment in life we connect with others: precious and fleeting.

In the afternoon as I walked to meet her, I thought about how proud and filled with wonder I was to see her brush her teeth all by herself with such gusto that morning. I realised she is so ready for this, and I am happy for her.

When I picked her up, she was tired but beaming. She showed me the picture she drew that morning at school, her very first drawing at school. Starting with that small pink circle in the top left corner, she had filled every part of the paper. It was our rainbow. 

xx

*These are in reference to two books we love and have been so helpful in dealing with separation anxiety. I'll be talking about them in my next newsletter, which will be sent out early next week...

How to be reflective at such a busy time?

 Left: our home at dusk, after dinner and little one is asleep. Sparkling wine I poured myself at dinner time has now gone flat and slightly warm. Right: the sky after a huge rather frightening electrifying storm, the clouds parted and the light that came through was breathtaking.    ...................................................................................................

Left: our home at dusk, after dinner and little one is asleep. Sparkling wine I poured myself at dinner time has now gone flat and slightly warm. Right: the sky after a huge rather frightening electrifying storm, the clouds parted and the light that came through was breathtaking. 

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In my new Festive Guide, I wrote how I've learnt about the importance in December to spend time reflecting on our personal journey over the past twelve months...

"This is the time of year to reconnect with ourselves to inspire peace, joy and a sense of renewal. It’s a time we are most open to the universe, instinctively connecting to earth and cosmos. It’s a grounding time, a time of becoming more aligned with ourselves through this openness and connection, creating conscious internal wisdom." The Everyday Alchemy Seasonal Guide, Festive Edition, page 15. 

Meanwhile the activity all around us and media screams: "buy buy buy, be busy busy busy, do do do, don't stop, don't stop, don't stop!" 

So how can we reflect at such a busy time, without adding to the busy-ness? 

In the ebook I share a number of beautifully creative ways to open to reflection, and this week I had another wonderful idea that came to mind and which I've implemented in our home, and I want to share it with you today.

It started with the simple act of writing a list of events that have happened over the course of the year. I usually do this in my journal, but this time I wrote the list on our chalkboard so we could all read it. And as I looked at the list, I realised there was much more to add - not just events, but new skills that we've each developed this year, and life lessons...

 Left: enjoying fresh organic cherries now in season! Right: the original list of big events to reflect upon.   ...................................................................................................

Left: enjoying fresh organic cherries now in season! Right: the original list of big events to reflect upon. 

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So I thought what would be great is to have a big sheet of paper that we can all write on over the month of December, to create a kind of map of what we've each encountered over the year as individuals and also as a family. Each of us can add to it whenever we think of something that was significant to us, and for Laly she can also add to it with drawings. At a glance, when we are sitting on the couch or going about our daily activities at home, we can reflect on the year's events, giving the space needed to let these moments be honoured and valued...

And it's not just about the 'good' stuff, or the happy/pretty stuff. Because there are life lessons and goodness (=value), in all. So for us, I've included the pneumonia I had in January, which was a huge deal for us, me being in bed for weeks on end, bringing up so much again about not having any extended family help at challenging times, but showing our resilience and connectedness as a couple; Laly having her tonsils and adenoids out, another huge event for us, after years of health issues and trying almost every single alternative method on the planet to reduce the size of her tonsils without operating. In the end it's exactly what she needed, it couldn't be avoided and again, as a family just the three of us, we did it, she recovered and is thriving. 

And our trip to France and Amsterdam! An adventure we have worked hard to make happen for five years, each year faced with new obstacles. But not this year. This year, it all came together. Laly met her French family for the first time, and I got to spend time with my friends in Amsterdam who I had been longing to connect with and hug again for all those years. 

What I realised is that with each event, there come achievements, new skills, and life lessons to also honour. So on the paper, there is room for these too. 

Perhaps you'd like to create something similar in your home. The above prompts will help for significant milestones in your journey to come to mind. If something comes to mind but you don't think it's significant, still write it down, as it might be revealed later why that is significant and has come up to the surface from your sub-conscious. And most importantly, not to get stuck on what the paper looks like! Let it be messy, it doesn't have to be a work of art (I'm writing that as a message to myself as well, letting go of the way things look and focussing on how they feel). 

I'd love to know how you're going with your reflections, if this is a new-to-you tradition at this time of year that you are introducing, inspired by the Festive Guide, or if you're allowing more of it in. 

Also to keep in mind, it's not about focussing on what we haven't achieved this year that we thought we would, but what we have achieved. Because there is value in all of it, even if we can't yet feel it's value, it's there, and taking the time to reflect will deliver that valuable gift to you and open you to the new opportunities that await you in the new year. 

Happy reflection time, mes amis

xx