The Sweetest Gift...

“Quietly while you were asleep, the moon and I were talking…” beginning lyrics to  The Sweetest Gift composed & sung by Sade .

“Quietly while you were asleep, the moon and I were talking…” beginning lyrics to The Sweetest Gift composed & sung by Sade.

As an Everyday Alchemist, it would come as no surprise to you that over the past year I've been experimenting on myself. Well not just myself - to be more specific, I've been experimenting with the moon too, observing and playing with my connection to it. And what I've discovered has the power to change everything. It already has for me. I am in the midst of putting together something so incredibly grand, I can barely contain my excitement, but these things take time -  because rather than just come up with a theory, I need to know it actually works. I also know that the moon is currently on trend (which makes me laugh just writing it! That something which has existed for all of time as we know it could be suddenly popular) - there are a number of books popping up about it, especially around abundance because that’s another trend ... and you know how I feel about doing anything 'on trend'! But I also won't dismiss something just for the sake of rebelling, instead I will seek out the resistance. What is important for me to continue this everyday alchemy is that in the process, I make sure that what I've come up with works for the whole - for each of us, for humanity, for Earth.

The first step of this is what led you to reading this right now - my new email. We have become so disconnected from the moon, which is our original time maker along with the sun, that we don't even know what phase it's in. Especially for those of us who live in the city, or are always busy doing (pointing a loving finger towards myself here too, with a busy 7 year old at my heels!). So with this email, I'll be sending it at the beginning of each new moon phase, just so we know at a glance what phase it's in. There will not be any information about the meaning or symbolism behind the phase, or anything along these lines. This is just simply to connect us to the moon, to get to know it a little more intimately, and in time I’ll let you know why.

Along with the moon phase illustration, I'll be adding a quote that resonates with me at that time. And this will not be a throwaway quote with no context - it will be from something I have read, from someone who I value, and there will be a deeper intuitive connection as to why I have chosen that particular remark at that particular time, so there will always be a link for you to discover more if it resonates with you and you find yourself yearning to hear, read or learn more. I will not comment on it, I will simply leave it up to you. I hope you’ve enjoyed this first one as much as I have had listening to the entire interview (I have listened a number of times, there is not one remark that does not resonate with my entire being, it’s a powerful interview that I hope you get as much out of as I have).

With each email, sometimes this will be all there is  - my moon phase illustration and a quote. Other times, there will be images and links below to work I have just produced (like you would have seen below the quote and is what led you here). As with all that I do, I like to create things that ignite one of our five senses at a time - sight, taste, touch, smell and sound. At the moment I am all about the sound: my wonderful collaborative podcast with Shona Smith as well as my monthly downloadable piano compositions on Patreon, & sight: my photography feature stories published in magazines, in my new books, and around the world via my personal clients. Some of these also involve taste and touch and smell too, if you choose to cook or craft something from what I've shared through my visual storytelling. And the reason I am so inspired to ignite our senses is because I know these senses are the ways to our hearts, to connecting us to our intuition and learning to trust and use it everyday. This will always come through my work, and is accessed directly each week with my mentoring clients as well as each month on Patreon.

Please share this post with your friends and family and encourage them to subscribe to the email - there will always be much to connect to, and it will be an opening for many beautiful conversations between those you love.

Thank you to every single one of you who are here right now, reading these words - you've made such a powerful impact on encouraging me to share my everyday alchemy, I value your presence so much and it’s my hope that this gratitude flows back to you through my work.  

With love, 

Pia

It's All Up From Here, Season Two...

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Shona and I have been busy recording and uploading Season 2 of our "It’s All Up From Here” podcast and boy, does this season pack a punch! The podcast is now all about family - not just parenting, because we realised that family relationships are at the heart of it all. We’ve had many incredible comments and responses to the topics covered so far - our most popular has been the recent two part episode titled How to Know When It’s Time To End A Relationship, where both of us talk openly about our recent, very personal experiences. Other topics so far include understanding Family Culture, How to Cope with Change, and managing Screen Time. Let us know your thoughts, we’ve loved opening conversation and sharing our passion for family and relationships because we know human connection is everything. If you have any topic ideas that you’d like us to chat about, email me or comment on this post! And if you love what you hear please subscribe and tell your friends and family, and review the podcast so other people can find it too!

Shona and I will be opening the opportunity to become a sponsor of the podcast for Season 3, so if you have a family-related business that you feel would be beneficial to our listeners, don’t hesitate to email me to find out more.

xx

New Work: The Confetti Effect for Happinez...

The confetti is actually over 50 years old - it was in a box in my grandmother’s home many years ago and I’ve kept them all this while. They are made from tiny shapes of paper and I just love them. For the diary shot above, I combined them with petals and pods found outside my studio entrance. The beautiful ribbon is from  Tinctifolia . Little glimpses of joy are never far away.

The confetti is actually over 50 years old - it was in a box in my grandmother’s home many years ago and I’ve kept them all this while. They are made from tiny shapes of paper and I just love them. For the diary shot above, I combined them with petals and pods found outside my studio entrance. The beautiful ribbon is from Tinctifolia. Little glimpses of joy are never far away.

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Here is my latest work for Happinez Magazine, featured in their Intuition edition, out now in The Netherlands. The assignment was to create 6-8 photographs inspired by the book and talks by Ingrid Fetell Lee. Ingrid’s concept with The Aesthetics of Joy is devoted to a simple, powerful idea: that our greatest source of joy is the world around us. The art director wanted me to come up with simple ways to showcase this, through little things in our everyday lives - be it a new page in your diary, light & shadow play, or nature. My assignment was to translate this feeling to a colour range that fitted with their moodboard for the issue. I also needed to give the concept a bit more depth, meaning and spirituality. To say I enjoyed creating this series is an understatement - it was pure joy…

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I foraged most of these flowers from the beautiful nature reserve down by the water near my studio.

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Moon cookies! I made these using all natural ingredients with only a little coconut sugar. If you’d like the recipe let me know and I’ll write it up in a seperate post.

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Citrus and pomegranate seeds are bursting with joy! This shot came together beautifully,

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The sparklers were quite smoky and I was worried the studio fire alarm would go off!! It was a tricky shot but I love the effect. And the shadow and light play I created on the studio porch, using the sun as my muse.

xx

NOURISH + NURTURE + WABI SABI WISDOM...

corner of my home, part 1.

corner of my home, part 1.

One of the most important life lessons I’ve learnt in recent years - a lesson that is still very much a work in progress - is to prioritise nurturing and nourishing myself. And to understand what that even means. There is common theme of religious text about giving to others. And that being a woman is a nurturing - to the point of self-sacrificing - role: Others before self. So most of my life, I grew up not even conscious that I thoroughly believed that to give to myself - to look after myself - was incredibly selfish. This understanding, this belief has been all around me my entire life - in conversations and in the general atmosphere. And although I have always been drawn to Buddhist philosophy (not the religion but the ideas), it focusses heavily on selflessness and egolessness. When I was young, this strengthened what I felt which was that “I am of no value”, “I do not exist”. And if I ever did feel like someone had been unjust toward me or I felt like I needed to stand up for myself, or simply say “no”, I thought that it was a selfish act. And that was confirmed by the reactions from others I received when I did stand up for myself. Which made me feel guilt and shame. And so the cycle continued for many, many years…

corner of my home, part 2.

corner of my home, part 2.

Until I stopped it. That was when I went to Paris in 2006. When I left all that I knew to be safe. With distance I learnt that much of what I understood to be safe wasn’t safe. It was an illusion - an illusion “to keep me safe”. That’s a very hard reality pill to swallow.

But what I discovered in this journeying was incredible: I discovered that I am safe. Within me, I am safe - I am capable of nurturing and nourishing myself. I am strong and wise and beautiful, and I can fly without a safety net below. For me to even write those words in a public space - let alone think and feel them deeply to be true without feeling selfish or guilty or ashamed - is huge. It’s a magnificent feeling, and it’s a feeling I want every person I encounter to experience. If I could give this feeling to everyone in the world, I would. That’s why I’m so compelled to do what I do, to learn everything I can about intuition and support people in connecting with their intuition (as this is the foundation of it all) in as many different creative ways as possible…

At this time of year, so many emotions rise to the surface. For me, I think of my original family and how we are no longer connected, I think of times spent together in the past, but mostly I think of my Mum. I miss her enormously at the moment. I want to hug her, tell her all that I’ve learnt this year through the experiences I’ve had, I want to tell her I understand now how much she did for us that I didn’t truly realise until now, and how grateful I am for her being my mum. I want to tell her that I wish she had been more self-nurturing, and that I’ve been wondering if she might still be here if she wasn’t so self-sacrificing in order to boost the lives of those around her. Mums are our original anchors. Literally - our umbilical cord was attached to their inner most sacred space which nourished us for ten moons. And until we find our own anchor within, we will always be attached to hers, even when she is no longer living.

But I am feeling a significant shift within and all around. The more time people spend reflecting inward, the more we understand our society and ourselves, and the more we can be in life without trying to put anchors in material wealth, in beliefs, in events and in other people. We will be anchored in our own self - not ego, but ‘self’ - and we can form deeper, real connections through our intuition with those around us.

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Christmas is one of those yearly events that I still find difficult to release anchor, even with my awareness and the positive changes we’ve made. It’s so ingrained in our way of life that I still find myself wanting it to be a certain way, to feel a certain way. I know it’s because the anchor is still there, and I’m slowly working on pulling it up and placing it back inside myself.

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WABI SABI WISDOM from Beth Kempton…

(an excerpt from Festive Season Reimagined, page 10)

Beth Kempton is a friend and fellow author whose knowledge and enthusiasm for Japanese culture knows no bounds. She recently released a gorgeous book all about the concept of wabi sabi, titled Wabi Sabi: Japanese wisdom for a perfectly imperfect life. I asked Beth her thoughts on how we can incorporate wabi sabi at this time...

“So many of us put pressure on ourselves to deliver the perfect Christmas - a perfectly cooked dinner in a perfectly tidy house, with perfect gifts for everyone and perfectly convivial conversation all day long, but in doing so we are setting ourselves up for stress and pressure. This relentless pursuit of Christmas perfection often makes us forget to enjoy the precious moments that occur when we aren’t paying attention. Embracing the Japanese philosophy of wabi sabi, which reminds us to appreciate the beauty in imperfection and the gifts of simple natural living, can bring calm and love to your festivities. Give yourself permission to let go of traditions that no longer serve you and seek beauty in the small moments of magic offered by the season.

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Thank you Beth for sharing your wisdom in your book and extending your knowledge with all of us through our connection. It’s such great advice to carry with us as we move through the next few days.

I have a number of beautiful projects in the works for the year coming to enrich and ignite that part of us that is yearning to be heard. In the meantime, I’ve created lots of content over the past month or two that will support you in your creative pursuits, I have listed them below.

There has been much loss and endings this year - I’ve observed many long term relationship breakdowns, business endings, and life passings. For some it will be a tough time, which is why I cannot emphasise enough the importance of reimagining this week as a time for self- nurturing and nourishing - and if you don’t know what that means for you, to take the time to think and reflect on it. It’s a whole chapter in my book, which you can order digitally if you’d like to read it straight away. The second print run is on its way too, and I’ll continue to send out orders when they arrive. It’s not a book just for now, it’s for the whole year, so you’ll benefit from it now and for the years to come.

Happy festive season dear hearts,

With Love,

Pia xx

PS. Yesterday I wanted to talk to my mum, hug her and be in her presence and last night I did just that in a dream. I feel like I just saw her, and today the grief has transformed. I’m not sure if it’s my connection to my heart space, but this is one thing I’ve been able to do whenever I’ve needed to since she passed. Perhaps it’s a side effect? I’ll see what I can find out and let you know - if so, it’s yet another incentive to strengthen it within us.

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Links to check out over the festive season:

New piano compositions on Patreon including the latest one I recorded yesterday. If you become part of the collective now, you’ll be able to download all 6 songs to create a playlist to listen to to strengthen your connection to your intuition - it will be a wonderful way to end and start the new year if you feel that deep desire to pursue your dreams but don’t know where to start.

Reimagining the Festive Season, and interview between me and Kayla Robertson on the All Being Well podcast. All about how to reflect, self-nurture and reimagine this time of year.

Episode 8: Christmas aka The Festive Season podcast with Shona & I - a bit of light hearted banter about how different this time of year is! (scroll down the bottom to listen)

Bonus episode: How to Reflect on your Parenting with Shona & I - a podcast with questions to prompt you that not only work for parenting but also for your career (scroll down the bottom to listen)

The Ever-Evolving Wreath Tutorial...

My ever-evolving wreath for 2018: it’s wild & free, like my heart.

My ever-evolving wreath for 2018: it’s wild & free, like my heart.

How are you feeling as we near the end of the year? The frenzied energy is well & truly upon us! For those like me, who feel… what’s the word… resistant? Yes, that’s what it is for me - resistant…we might feel inclined to retreat and search for solace at this time amidst all the busy-ness. That is what compelled me to write my new book Festive Season Reimagined - to find ways to reconnect with our inner strength, resilience and joy. That’s our intuition - it’s something we all have, something that no one or no thing can take from us: it’s our heart, our jewel, and I absolutely love supporting people in finding their heart and letting it take the lead in making their everyday decisions. It’s a way of life that is unique to you and when you are living it, you’ll know. It’s a wonderful feeling.

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Last week Diana Moore from Home Beautiful wrote a lovely post about Festive Season Reimagined, featuring an extract on the “ever-evolving wreath”. If you have signed up for my emails and instagram after reading the Home Beautiful post, welcome! I then posted on social media a photograph of my ever-evolving wreath for 2018. It took me only a few minutes to make, and it now adorns the front door. I asked if anyone would like a tutorial and the answer from many was yes. Then I realised what I’d said!

One, I’m not great at tutorials because I work in such a free-flow way and two, it’s the end of the year and life is hectic enough! But it is so much fun to make these wreaths and it’s one of the most effective ways to connect to our intuition, the nature around us and embark on the journey of reflection, so here it is, my super simple tutorial which is just as much a tutorial on intuitive play than it is making the wreath. I’m a 3-stepper, which means whatever I create needs to fit into 3 easy steps because anything more I find we lose our intuitive connection. So, are you ready?

STEP ONE: FINDING…

Find yourself a loop of some sort - it can be a discarded embroidery hoop, a piece of heavy wire that can be looped (even a coat hanger pulled into a round shape, leaving the hook at the top for easy hanging), a bendable branch, anything at all. This one I have is the top of an old basket that someone had thrown away. I love the organic shape of it…

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The other part of the FINDING is to collect your botanical materials! Find something in abundance that can be the backdrop for your wreath. This year, I decided not to go with green as the backdrop and instead was inspired by a dried up patch of seeded grass in our neighbourhood, a place we have walked by hundreds of times this year, never thinking much of it until I began looking more closely at the flora along the walk to school and found the beauty in it. What can you see when you walk in your neighbourhood?

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I picked big handfuls of it for the wreath, and also gathered whatever else touched my heart - some beautiful wattle, a few kangaroo paw, golden reeds, flowering lemon verbena, and the star of the wreath: a branch of fuchsia bougainvillea. Then I found some ribbon to hang it with, a few bits of string and my scissors…

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STEP TWO: ASSEMBLING

So for the assembling, I gathered the grass into three bundles. I wanted to have an off-centre wreath, allowing the basket loop to be exposed, so 3 bundles is all I needed, but if your heart wants to have a full covered wreath then you just create more bundles! With the 3 bundles, I tied them onto the loop with string. No fancy floral wire required, just use what you have on hand. And don’t be too precious, perfect or neat. I find the quicker you work the better, otherwise you start to overthink it and criticise your work - if you realise you’re doing that, let those thoughts float away like clouds - there is no place for them here!

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Use the grass bundles as well as the string you’ve used to attach the bundles to the loop as your place of attaching the accent pieces - just stick those pieces into the string and thick grass, it will hold them in place and if it doesn’t, tie a bit more string around to hold it in place. You can keep adding foliage to cover the string until you are happy with it.

STEP THREE: REVIEW

For this step, you need to hang it up either in the place you want it to go, or just on the wall with some tape so you can step away and see it in place. When you step away, you’ll see some empty areas, or you’ll see where you need to tweak the foliage or add more foliage. As my main art medium is photography, I tend to ‘look’ through the lens so to speak, when I look at something I’ve just created - not literally, just in my mind… it’s an automatic thing for me from years of working in photography, but what might help for you is to put your hands up in front of you in the shape of a square camera lens, to allow you to block out all other distractions around the wreath and see it ‘through the lens’. You could also cut a square or rectangular piece of cardboard out of a larger piece of cardboard to act as your ‘review lens’. It might sound silly but it honestly works! It just helps you to focus on what you’ve created and not get caught up in what else is going on around.

When you step back, you may also see bits of grass hanging loose and out of place, so grab your scissors to cut those bits off - don’t pull them, just cut them, otherwise you might end up pulling large chunks out of place. Again, I tend to be loose and free here, not making it too neat, because the beauty is in the freedom (as it is in living whole-heartedly)…

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After I hung mine in place on the front door, we had a huge storm sweep through the area, but it held up well, there were a few bits loose but I just pushed them back into place. And I still add to it when I see something I like, that’s why I call it ever-evolving, because it’s something you can continue to play with over the season.

I’ve posted more about the making of this wreath in my stories on instagram if you’d like to check it out, my handle is @piajanebijkerk, here it is.

In book news, Festive Season Reimagined sold out of its first print run in less than a month! A huge thank you to everyone who purchased a copy last month. I’ve ordered the second print run which will be ready in the next week or so, for those who are patiently waiting with your orders, thank you! And if you’d like to purchase a copy, please click here for all the details.

But for those who really want to read the book now but aren’t feeling patient, you can purchase the ebook. And today, I’ve decided to do a flash sale for the ebook - just for 48 hours, it’s on sale at only $10. So if you’ve wanted the book but haven’t been able to purchase it for whatever reason, here it is now for you in ebook form, at the lowest price it will ever be, please enjoy…

Reflection is a BIG part of growth at this time of year, and I’m delighted to let you know that Shona Smith - my fabulous podcasting pal & I have released a bonus episode for our podcast “It’s All Up From Here”: it’s all about how to reflect on your parenting. It’s a fun, thoughtful, raw & honest episode, I hope you enjoy it, click here and scroll down to the end to have a listen. You’ll also find our last episode of the season there, all about Christmas or as I call it, the Festive Season. Shona and I couldn’t be more opposite in our feelings about this time of year, so if you feel like a laugh, have a listen! And tomorrow, I have another wonderful announcement that is also for your listening pleasure, to get you well and truly inspired to reflect.

And on Patreon, I have uploaded the next piano composition, with another one coming in a couple of weeks - when you join me there, you are able to download all the songs for the year so far to create a playlist designed to connect you to your intuitive heart space, and learn more behind the scenes of what I’m working on and where I am on my personal journeying.

With love,

Pia xx

Swarm Studio, Amsterdam...

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Those who’ve known me for a long time will know that artist + founder of Swarm, Leslie Oschmann, is a dear friend of mine. We got to know each other ten years ago when I was living in my houseboat in Amsterdam and scouting hidden ateliers for my second book, Amsterdam: Made by Hand. We soon became friends, and went on many adventures together around the city and beyond. I’m drawn to people who see the world around them in a unique way, and can transform something overlooked into something extraordinary, which is what I call Everyday Alchemy. Leslie is one of those unique people.

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My daughter Laly, taking in the atmosphere of Swarm & ready to paint, 2016

My daughter Laly, taking in the atmosphere of Swarm & ready to paint, 2016

Each time I’ve been back to Amsterdam since moving to Sydney, I spend time with Leslie and her sidekick, McDuff. I love being immersed in her creative world - her home & studio, which is always filled with her latest projects. There are chairs hanging from the ceiling, piles of found oil paintings ready to be transformed into something new, paintbrushes, textiles, leather straps, ropes and the most incredible found objects from her travels - many of which she sells in her online store.

When I visited her new studio in 2016 with Laly, Leslie had just embarked on the epic journey of writing and making a book. She’d been approached by Rizzoli to write a book about her creative life in Amsterdam, centered around her muse, wire hair fox terrier McDuff. The book was inspired by Leslie’s fun photographs on instagram of the sometimes obscure places her and McDuff would visit, and the playfulness of exploring these interesting landscapes together. Because wherever Leslie goes, so does McDuff - when she heads back to New York, he’s on the plane with her, and travelling to her new studio-in-the-making in France known as Q, he’s sitting beside her in her van. I remember when Leslie and I went to Beaune in Bourgogne for New Year’s Eve some 8 years ago, and McDuff wandered the frosted cobblestone streets with us.

With this book project, Leslie wanted to find a way to create the unique visual layout she had in her mind, and we’d discussed the idea of creating them by hand - each page spread as an assemblage which could then be photographed. When I got there, she had the page layouts pinned up on one of the studio cabinets. It was an honour to be able to see the book in progress at this early stage - to see how Leslie’s visual directing translated into book form, and I couldn’t wait to see the final result….

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Earlier this year, her book was published. It’s called Me & McDuff, and it’s filled with her creative energy & love for her sidekick. Every page is an artwork in itself, with each assemblage created by Leslie & photographed by Sarah van den Bosch. The book tells the story of Leslie & McDuff’s creative companionship in her way - minimal words, maximum visual effect…

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With some of her favourite captures from the book, Leslie has made some into pouches which I love, you can find them in her store.

While on my trip to Amsterdam this year in August, I took my camera with me to photograph her studio for one of my book projects. I won’t be able show you many of the incredible captures (her space is seriously amazing), but here are a few of the photographs from my shoot…

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…in her zone. 2018

…in her zone. 2018

Laly & I playing, Swarm Studio, 2016.

Laly & I playing, Swarm Studio, 2016.

Okay here is one more…

The Alchemist’s kitchen, in all it’s utilitarian glory.

The Alchemist’s kitchen, in all it’s utilitarian glory.

You can click on the links to have a look at Leslie’s new objet d’art, her new book Me & McDuff, and her latest bag collection is stunning. They are one of a kind and they sell fast, so if you see one that pulls at your heart strings, you’ll regret it if you don’t get it (believe me, this has happened a number of times to me and my friends and we still lament over the ones we missed out on).

Thank you Leslie for continuing to be such an inspiration in my life & for sharing your world with us in all that you create!

With Love,

Pia xx

Episode 6 Podcast : Redefining Success...

Laly and her friend Mya enjoying some intuitive mark-making together, reminding me of Shona & I 'at play'. In fact, a photograph I captured of this joyful moment between the girls became the backdrop for our podcast logo. The beginnings of beautiful collaborations!

Laly and her friend Mya enjoying some intuitive mark-making together, reminding me of Shona & I 'at play'. In fact, a photograph I captured of this joyful moment between the girls became the backdrop for our podcast logo. The beginnings of beautiful collaborations!

All 8 episodes of the first season of Shona Smith and my podcast titled “It’s All Up From Here!” are now available. I’ve just finished having a listen to all of them - Shona does all the incredible behind-the-scenes stuff that is involved in making a podcast, so I don’t listen to the episodes until they are out there! It does make me feely slightly vulnerable but hey, I’ve had plenty of practice at allowing myself to experience vulnerability when it comes to putting things out there, so this is all part of the journey.

I can say with all my heart that I have enjoyed being in conversation and listening to every single episode. It’s a big deal for me to say that - artists tend to be hyper-self-critical and nothing ever reaches ‘perfection’ (that’s because there is no such thing, but we forget that!). So I hope that comes through in the podcast and that you enjoy listening in.

One thing I’ve thought about since listening to the episodes is that we have said this is a ‘parenting’ podcast because it revolves around our experiences with our own children along with Shona’s extensive experience & knowledge as a youth worker, however it occurred to me that it’s broader than that - it’s as much about parenting of ‘self’. Because essentially, while we are parenting children, a huge part of it is that we are also learning so much about ourselves, and this is strong in our conversations.

The episode topics for this season are:

How to set rock solid boundaries
Intuition -How to use this powerful parenting tool
The Teenage Years - how to approach them with excitement and lose the dread
Redefining Success
The Mother Rage
Doing Christmas + Festive Season Reimagined

And I’ve just written up some show notes for “Redefining Success” as I mention a number of resources in it that I wanted to be able to link to. Shona and I haven’t intended to include show notes, but I think I will write them up slowly when I have the time as I see the benefit of the notes. I’ll let you know when the other notes go live, but for now here are the notes for “Redefining Success”. So, if you haven’t already subscribed, you can listen on apple podcasts or whooska, and I’ve also included each episode on my website here.

A big thank you to Shona for being my co-host and for all that she has done to make this happen - it has been such a joy to work with her over these months and I look forward to many more collaborations together!

With Love,

Pia xx