Tag Archive | values

Wild in the UK

Ben Fogle; ‘Lives In The Wild UK’

I’m totally loving the new Ben Fogle programmes; Lives in the Wild UK on channel 5.

I’m not especially an admirer of his but I love what the people featured in the programme are trying to do; trying to live their lives a little differently and not bow to mainstream pressure to do it the same as everyone else.

When you listen to the interviews with them during the programmes their heartfelt values and principles come shining through and I always admire anyone living by their values, even if it’s going to be challenging. For many of them it certainly is.

As a former home educator I know all about challenging. And I also get to meet some incredibly courageous people also living by their independent values, courageous because they have to step away from mainstream thinking and other mainstream lives, as home schoolers do.

Looking at these programmes it is comforting to see others, not necessarily home educators, but others who are upholding values outside the mainstream thinking of a heavily consumerist society, that tends to judge people by what they have rather than what they do or what values they uphold.

People who are finding that others ways of living, that are not to do with the treadmill of wealth adulation, are turning out to be more fulfilling than even that. Who are returning to their connection to the earth, in fact to ways in which we all must have first lived, living as much with their hands as with their computers, in order to restore something that modernity tends to be neglecting; our need for something other than big wealth, technology and a consumerist treadmill.

Collecting fuel for warmth, raising crops, farming and feeding and keeping a physical roof over your head can be just as much a treadmill as the commute to work to earn enough to buy it. But these people are finding that doing it for yourself sometimes, instead of always buying it in, can be satisfying in ways that buying cannot.

It’s making me look at my life and see if I can think more creatively and find little ways and changes that help me do the same, rather than always opting for the mainstream way, which so often seduces us by default. And the more we do this as parents, the more we encourage our children to question and examine their own ways of living, rather than always opting for the norm without questioning if it’s right for them or the damage it may be doing them.

5 things I’d ask for Christmas

It’s too early for Christmas but my cactus doesn’t seem to think so.  cactus dawn 11.15 003

Nor do the shops. Nor the telly!

Far too early surely to have these endless tedious adverts as the supermarket giants try to outdo each other, or Radio Drivel blaring out of shops in town.

I don’t know how the staff stand it and it’s already been going on a while.

I’m increasingly uncomfortable about us being encouraged to climb onto this Christmas treadmill earlier and earlier, as if we have so much to buy we’ve no chance of fitting it into a week or two’s preps in December.

I have great difficulty marrying some of my values, those that uphold the value of the earth and our responsibility towards it, within a culture of Christmas that promotes nothing more than consumerist vandalism basically.

I know many families like us must be fairly easy to give presents to; we always have things we need not having the disposable income so many have. More difficult I find to give to those who have so much it’s generated a culture of satirical junk destined for the dump much of the time. Wish we could bypass this madness.

I love giving presents. But I’m not hoodwinked into believing that more is best or is a sign of more love. Something home made or carefully thoughtful fills me up, however little. Tasty treats we wouldn’t normally have are a delight.

But when I see stands and stands of pointless putrid rubbish, designed for the sake of buying for those who have so much it’s impossible to know what to give, it rather fills me with despair. Especially in the light of so many being in such desperate need, even for basics, even for a roof over their head. I know people who spend more on decorative trappings, to be binned after the season, than we’d probably spend on food in a week!

So I would ask as you do your Christmas preps to perhaps rethink this. To consider five things: –

  1. how much less you could buy this time,
  2. how much less waste you could create,
  3. how much less energy you could use,
  4. how you could make your Christmas more recyclable,
  5. and how you could give to those who have less than you do.

And I’ll do the same and see if we can come up with a Christmas that is less pollutive and truly based in giving more than having!

Do share your ideas in the comments – I always love to read them.

Life’s not easy – but easy isn’t always best!

You can walk anywhere

You can walk anywhere – nothing fancy needed!

When my nose was buried in the grass I swear something went up it. I was doing a long sumptuous in-breath with a bit of yoga stretching.

Don’t think I’m some fanatical fitness freak or extreme yogic. I’m not – I’m not extreme anything really. I aim for balance. I just try to keep up with the little things that I know have helped me over the years, gentle stretching and moments to check in with the self being some of them.

It’s helped me deal with challenges and angst. It’s helped me deal with grief. It helps me bring myself down to earth (especially the nose in grass bit), and it’s helped me deal with the frustrations and anxieties of being a parent, a home educator and now a writer.

So I’ve learned that it’s worth pressing on with it, even if not the pressing face on floor bit which is not supposed to happen anyway. But at least I do it – occasionally. And keep on doing it – occasionally – but consistently occasionally, if you get my drift.

‘It’s all right for you, you’ve always done it’, people have said, always thinking things are harder for themselves than for anyone else. I also hear ‘it’s all right for you, you’re not overweight,’ as I indulge in a slice of cake. Or, ‘it’s all right for you, you’re fit,’ as we walk and talk and I’m not gasping for breath as much as they are. And most annoying; ‘it’s all right for you, you’re a calm person’.

Believe me, I’m not. Ask the family!

And it’s comments like these that really get up my nose. For it’s not all right for me. It’s bloody hard work to keep going with things that feel like too much bother sometimes. It’s as hard for me as for other people.

The only difference, maybe, is in attitude. Is in my belief that we build our own lives. And can take charge of some parts of it if not all. It’s up to us. No point in waiting for others to do something about things we want to be different.

And I practice that mentality. I act upon it.

We can all have some charge. We can all do some things to build lives towards keeping fit, keeping well (and weight’s included in that), and keeping sane.

And the only way to do that is to act. To start now. And keep at it – slog though it is sometimes. That’s what reaps the benefits, longer term. And life is long term remember!

To others I suppose, being fit enough to do some stretching and in my own garden must seem lucky. And luck does play a part. But the biggest part is building what you want for yourself.

If you want to be fit enough to walk without gasping; build your fitness – walk. That’s all I do; you don’t need anything fancy. If you want less weight; consume less food, fat and sugar – that’s what I have to do, very hard for someone with a sweet tooth. If you want to be calm and content to help you deal with these challenging times; build things into your life which create calm and content. And be persistent with them.

It’s SO worth it!

You only get one life. Does it not make sense to value and take charge of aspects of it that keep you feeling good? Especially as we have so much other stuff we cannot control doing the opposite!

It won’t always be easy – but easy is not always the best answer is it?

No reason not to start right now really! And what an inspiration you will be to those around you, most especially the children.

Talking rubbish again!

I’ve had to pop into town today. Errands to do, a bit of shopping to get, and a bag of clothes to drop off at the charity shop.

We donate stuff every time we have a clear out – I thought everyone did. Apparently not.

In fact I was totally shocked to find out how much people don’t do it on Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s programme ‘War On Waste‘ which I watched on Monday night. That people put good clothes that could still be worn into their dustbins. And even more shocking, supermarkets, who profess not to, put good food in theirs.

I know we care for clothes. I know we are a consumer society. But I’m still shocked to discover just how little we care for the planet. How little responsibility some show towards the way they waste the planet’s resources. And how little care some show in passing that onto our children.

Environmental issues are part of any education wherever that is happening. And education is surely a forum through which we can teach the following generations about the planet they’ll inherit. Yet there are still so few adults attuned to the idea that what each of us does matters. 

It matters enormously that we all take responsibility for the amount we buy and the amount we throw away and our clothes are part of that.

Hugh’s says that British people throw away ten thousand garments every ten minutes. Is that not a criminal statistic when there are an abundance of charity shops and even clothing banks in many supermarket car parks? Is it lack of care or snobbery that prevents people from using them?

With a little bit of care NO clothing need be thrown in a bin. I’m feeling that NO clothing should ever be thrown in a bin when there are so many who could make good use of it. NO clothing should ever be thrown in a bin out of respect for the many resources used in creating it.

Food waste is another shocking issue and supermarkets are much to blame. However, we all play a part in this too because supermarkets are answering the needs of over fussy consumers who won’t eat a parsnip or an apple with a blemish on. This pathetic cosmetic standard we’ve driven up is creating tons of waste and putting tons of farmers out of business. Whilst we’re being picky about food we’re destroying the income of those who grow it for us. And we’re wasting resources of the already over stretched earth. Did you see this news?

Are we really so uncaring?

Learning about our planet and its diversity is an essential subject to study. But we as parents must also put into practice our own war on waste in our own households, demonstrating to our children that is the responsibility of us all. For if we don’t, the future we’re educating our children for, may take the form of a dying planet.

What kind of future do you want to leave for yours?

Do you ever think about your values much?

004I’ve been writing some stuff about Values recently, although I suppose values are embedded here in everything I write really.

It’s just they’re not labelled as such or at the forefront of our thinking, so I’ve been giving them some focus.

They have been bandied about politics recently and the prime Minister has been going on about them – not that I listen to him often! And they’re also being implemented into the National Curriculum in schools.

So it’s started me questioning (doesn’t everything I hear you ask?).

The biggest question it’s thrown up is ‘what are they?’ What does it mean when we talk about values? What do we value? And what values do we actually uphold ourselves?

Big questions!

I’ve discovered as I’ve started writing about these things that they provoke even more, without many concrete answers.

But one conclusion I have come to during this valuable enquiry is that our values enhance our lives in innumerable ways we perhaps don’t realise – I didn’t.

And another thing I discovered is that you don’t have to be rich and famous to be worth anything, to make a huge contribution to the world, or to make your mark in your own small way.

Upholding your own special values can do that. And passing them onto your children.

I’m aiming to explore these ideas a lot more as I write, so I’ll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, do chip into the conversation and tell me what you think. I love to read your comments and ideas.

Perhaps we’ll have better ideas than the Prime Minister who I suspect may be more focussed on votes than values.

But who am I to go devaluing him!

Education is a parenting issue

Did you know that you as parents are the ones responsible for your child’s education? Probably not. Unless you’re a home educating parent, you probably thought it was schools.

It isn’t, but it is mostly only home schoolers who know this.

The jargon says; “The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable (1) to his age, ability and aptitude, and (2) to any special educational needs he may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise”. (Notice the ‘otherwise’ bit – that gives parents the legal right not to send their children to school by the way. See the Ed Yourself website; http://edyourself.org/articles/helaw.php)

However, the majority of parents opt to hand the education of their children over to schools as they are encouraged to do, believing that to be best. It is sometimes (only sometimes). But that still doesn’t mean all responsibility lies with the school.

For the fact is that however children are educated the outcome is very much dependent on the parents; on parental support, parental encouragement, parental outlook, parental involvement, and love has a good deal to do with it too. Children achieve so much when they are loved and respected.

But I suspect many parents of school children tend not to involve themselves with their children’s education because they think a) they can’t – they’re not clever enough, or b) it’s not their concern – it’s the school’s.

Yet neither of these reasons is valid really. Because despite you thinking you may not know stuff or it’s the school’s job to educate, it is parental involvement that has the biggest impact on what children achieve, most importantly their attitude.

One of the things that influences children’s learning is the value that is placed on it.  They learn which things should be valued and which not bothered with from their parents. In fact at the start of their life they learn all their values and attitudes from their parents.

Children of parents who do not display a positive attitude towards education will find it hard to have a positive attitude themselves. Children who are not encouraged will be less motivated. Children whose parents are not interested in the things they do at school will have no interest in doing them. Children whose parents cop out of it by saying they’re not clever enough (when often the reason is they can’t be bothered to learn themselves) will make their kids think they needn’t be clever either.

You don’t have to be clever at maths or necessarily understand the science your kids are doing you just have to show an interest. You just have to be positive about it. Take positive approaches to overcoming challenges (finding out yourself maybe) and make your child feel that you are on their side and you’re in it together – as a team. And it’s worth doing well.

Through your attitude to them they will begin to see education as valuable – which it is.

Although you may need to really sort out what you think education is – or should be – what it’s for and in what way it’s valuable, as this is also part of your responsibility as a parent.

There is no excuse not to think about it, or just abdicate all responsibility to schools.

Because education is also a parenting issue. And as parents, whatever educational path you’ve chosen for your child, you definitely need to remain involved.