Life

Mother’s Day Grief and Disability

by Veronica on May 10, 2015

in Grief, Life, Soapmaking

When I was ten years old, my mother had reconstructive knee surgery. I spent the next few weeks helping my father keep my little brother entertained, playing cards with my bed ridden mother, and helping my father with things around the house.

Mother’s Day that year, my mother and my grandmother got together and took me out for lunch, the three of us together.

I can still remember how special I felt, sitting there in the middle of the dining room with my two favourite women.

Then there was dessert. I watched, eyes wide, as another table ordered the blueberry dessert. One scoop of ice cream in the bottom of a parfait glass, covered in a mass of blueberries, and topped with whipped cream.

I wanted it. I wanted it so badly. Blueberries were a rare occurrence in my childhood. Overly expensive for a tiny amount, I rarely got them. I can remember how large the parfait glass looked when they delivered it to the table. A mess of whipped cream and what must of been nearly two handfuls of blueberries in syrup.

I remember that it was almost too much for me, that the three of us shared it in the end. I remember my mother’s face, that she could give me this, that sometimes, blueberries are enough to make up for weeks of her being in bed, going slowly insane with boredom.

Mother’s day is bittersweet for me. People assume because my mother is still alive I carry no grief on a day like today. But my mother and my grandmother together were two halves of a matriarchal whole which brought me up. Today, while my mother is still alive, my grandmother continues to be dead, and I miss her every day. She would have loved my children so, loved her newest grandson, three weeks old and cute as a button. She would have delighted in them.

But she is not here, and so my day is tinged with grief.

So while many mothers across the world are celebrating today, I’d like to take a moment to recognise all the motherless children, and the childless mothers. To everyone who is grieving today, I hope your day is gentle and with moments of peace.

I don’t write much when things are going well. I have limited energy, and I’m expending it all on getting my business off the ground and successful. People underestimate how much work it is, how much time and money gets sunk into a fledgling business.

My creativity has dwindled, caught in the change of seasons and masses of soap to package. My hands and heart are tired and I need to write more, write harder, remind myself that I am doing okay, that things will grow, that one day the business will pay for itself and more. One day I won’t count every penny and add up which bill to pay this week.

Starting a business is a long term plan, not a get rich quick scheme.

Working from home is a beautiful thing, mostly. On one hand, if my EDS is playing up, I can take a nap, work on social media, do label design, research, paperwork. On the other hand, it means I am always working. From the moment I turn on my computer at 7am, to when I switch it off at 11pm, I am constantly tweaking recipes, researching, writing lists, emailing suppliers, marketing.

I don’t stop working, ever.

EDS is an interesting beast, in that I can hold it at bay for a time with good painkillers, diet, vitamins, and adrenaline. But the gates only hold it so long and eventually, if I don’t practise a strict self care regime, I crash and end up spending a fortnight mired in brain fog, with pain the painkillers don’t touch.

So I harvest my energy. I spend a lot of time weighing the pros and cons of each action. Will this market be worth the four days I’ll be unable to function afterwards? Can I attend this birthday party? What about doing that other thing I want to do?

It’s a juggling act, and it never stops. Sometimes too, events show up at the end of a long month and I just have to say no, I cannot do it. I am too sick, too tired, too broken.

I’ve been making a lot of simple soaps lately, because my hands won’t hold the jugs to do multicoloured swirls. I’m taking pleasure in their simplicity and trying not to frustrate myself over my inabilities.

Simplicity is a beautiful thing. Simple soaps, simple plans, simple ideas.

It’s the small things which get you through the day.

I am looking at my curing shelves and I have lots of soap to package, samples to put together, soap to make. I’m behind on restocks, on marketing, on everything.

But that is life, and it will be okay.

 

 

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Winter is coming.

by Veronica on May 4, 2015

in Life

Foggy Paddocks

Goat's Milk and Lavender Soap

Silent Sentries

MY GOD SHE'S GROWN

Someone has been busy

Destruction

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Children

IT GETS BETTER.

My URL when I first began this blog was a hope, a prayer, a wish. It was me promising myself that it would get better. That things would get easier. One day I wouldn’t be so tired I wanted to cry.

Some day we WILL sleep.

SOME DAY.

This blog has been alive for almost 8 years and it’s finally here.

My youngest is three in July and mostly sleeps through the night now.

So to all the parents who are sleep deprived, hidden under a pile of nappies, trying to claw out five minutes peace. This is for you.

IT GETS BETTER.

Isaac (6) just made breakfast for everyone. Toasted sandwiches. My two older children make their own breakfast regularly, and take care of the 2yo when I am flat out exhausted.

I’ve been sick (‘flu) and aside from Evelyn throwing a tantrum at me (“MUMMY! PUT YOUR PANTS ON. YOU NOT NAPPING! PUT PANTS ON!”), I was able to spend the worst of my illness in bed.

IN BED.

I was sick and I went to bed. Everyone survived. Amy (8) even came and led Evelyn (2) away saying “Eve, Mummy is sick, leave her alone and I’ll play with you.”

BLISS.

Of course, they all decided that watching Netflix in bed with me was the best option, but who cares? We were all lying down.

So to everyone still mired in the chaos of very little children, this is my promise: It gets better. Eventually they start school and learn to read.

They can make their own food, wipe their own bottoms, turn on the shower for themselves. They can make lunch, and lunch for you as well.

They say things like “I am making hot chocolate, who wants one?” and you can say “ME!” and they’ll make it and deliver it to your desk.

REALLY. REALLY REAL.

Sure, my youngest is still in nappies and occasionally wakes overnight and spends a few hours trying to sit on my head while I ignore her, but it gets better.

There is light at the end of my tunnel and I just needed to share it with you.

Because honestly, there’s nothing nicer than a six year old presenting you with a ham and cheese toastie he made by himself, or an eight year old making a cup of tea and delivering it to you.

It gets better. 

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We’ve all heard the spiel. “If you can’t pronounce it, you shouldn’t be putting it on your body!”

The message is always the same. Chemicals are bad and natural is good. Natural is best. Natural is more important than anything.

It’s not true.

Before I started making all my own beauty products, I’d been trained the believe the hype too. The word natural has such strong connotations; we all look for it, consciously or subconsciously on our packaging.

A few weeks into beginning to learn to make soap, I researched lotion making. The messages were clear. “YOU MUST USE PRESERVATIVE.”

“But we don’t want to!” said the forums. “Aren’t there natural preservatives? Rosemary Oleoresin Extract? Vitamin E? SOMETHING?”

Nope. Vitamin E is an anti-oxidant, not a preservative and while Rosemary Oleoresin Extract may protect your products for a short period, it’s merely due to the preservatives used to keep the ROE stable.

Preservatives are not the devil.

When I list my ingredients on my soap labels, I list common names. The law allows for that in soapmaking and I figure I’m not going to confuse anyone by calling something Olive Oil instead of Olea Europaea Fruit Oil, or Rice Bran Oil instead of Oryza Sativa Bran Oil, let alone using the terms Butyrospermum Parkii Fruit (Shea Butter), Cera alba (Beeswax), or Ricinus Communis Seed Oil (Castor Oil).

You can see very quickly that the idea of “if you can’t pronounce it, don’t use it” doesn’t stand up very long when you’re talking about using INCI names.

INCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) is the standard in a lot of countries for cosmetic labelling. I’m allowed to list common names here in Australia, but when it comes to things like preservatives, listing the INCI is safer.

So something we can buy at a soaping supply store called “Germall Plus”, which has a common name sounding rather important to the safety of the product you’re buying, suddenly becomes Propylene Glycol (and) Diazolidinyl Urea (and) Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate.

It’s a necessary thing, to include a broad spectrum preservative in products containing water, such as lotions, moisturisers, toners, shampoos, conditioners, hand creams – the list goes on.

Soap is a less complicated product because the high pH kills anything bad. Lip balms and other anhydrous (oil only) products are safe too without a preservative. But water containing products are not.

Lotion makers have to content with mould, fungus, and bacteria. A good preservative stops all of those things.

Tell me, why wouldn’t you want to be protected from that? I’m sure as hell not going to be putting a lotion anywhere near my body if it doesn’t contain a preservative somewhere.

Far from the idea of “chemicals will cause you harm” – it’s the very lack of chemicals which would cause you harm in this case.

And I’ve seen it done. Lotions being bandied about as preservative free and all natural and the absolute best for your body.

I searched their entire site waiting for them to tell me they were joking like hahahaha, here’s the preservative, you’re all safe.

Nope.

Either they were lying on their marketing (bad) or they were selling a product which was unsafe to their customers (worse).

As I research more and more, it becomes clearer than chemicals are not a bad thing when it comes to beauty products. After all, when you break it down, lots of completely natural things like Atropa belladonna will kill you dead, which isn’t unexpected for a plant with the common name Deadly Nightshade, but maybe it’s less expected if someone is listing INCI names.

Atropa Belladonna is rather easy to pronounce don’t you think?

So when you eventually see long and complicated ingredient lists on my products, keep in mind they’re there to protect you, not cause you harm.

Next time I’ll talk about some of the benefits chemicals bring to products like shampoo and conditioner, or skincare products.

Remember – everything is made of chemicals. Even natural things.

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Soap, Spring and Sunshine

by Veronica on August 19, 2014

in Evelyn, Life, Soapmaking

A month on Cymbalta (give or take a few days) (take, mostly) and things are slowly evening out. My pain is back under control, I’m no longer feeling quite so scatty and distractable and if my jaw is dislocating a hundred times overnight, well at least it isn’t aching all day as well.

Spring is sprunging here. My fruit trees are trying desperately to squeeze out some early blossoms and the sight of the swelling buds brings me so much joy. The nights are icy and there is frost on the ground in the morning, but the days are long and sunny and there is a patch of sunlight in my bedroom I can spend hours lying in like a contented cat if I need to.

It makes the bitterness of death a slightly easier pill to swallow. Nathan’s grandmother died last week and he will miss her. She was lovely and we named Evelyn for her and my grandmothers together, which soothes the ache of missing them a little. Their names will live on, even as they don’t.

Yesterday was full of sunshine. Nathan spent the day grumbling about the dirt against the side of the house as he pulled weeds and discovered exactly where the wood boring grubs are causing issues. He excavated an old hole into the foundations of the house and we shoved the cats down there to hunt mice and chase each other.

Evelyn happily followed him around the yard, throwing weeds into the wheelbarrow until she got bored, pulled her gumboots off, sat in a pile of freshly turned dirt and began digging. By the time we were ready to come inside she was covered in mud, but it was okay, because she had successfully completed her quest to fill her boots up to the very top with dirt. I admire her ability to stick to a task as the cats ran over her, the dog nearly sat on her and the dirt she was sitting on got progressively damper.

A long warm bath and she was clean again, with a bonus lot of fingernail cutting thrown in.

Winter hasn’t been cold exactly, but it’s been dull and weird, probably contributing to my dull and weird mood. More vitamin D is in the works, along with an iron supplement, because I always seem to forget I need to supplement with iron when I get too exhausted to eat well.

The soap business launches in a little over three weeks and I am so excited. My shelves are full of soap ready to sell, and my other shelves (and the other shelves, and basically the entire house) is covered in soap still curing, packaging, label tests and various lists of things I need to do.

It’s excellent and exciting and I am so grateful to you, my dearest Internets, for supporting me and making the process of setting up a business so much fun.

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