Saturday, April 26, 2014

Prison is the new black

It’s got lesbians, murder, drugs, injustice, love and hate, so no wonder it’s become a massive global success.

The highly-anticipated second season of Netflix’s ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK is gearing up for release on June 6.
Set in a women’s prison near New York, its characters are stripped bare emotionally and unable to do much other than survive.
Ever since Prisoner Cell Block H became cult watching during my student days. I’ve held a certain fascination for all female prisons and the bitchy shenanigans that go on in them. ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK is the new Prisoner Cell Block H with a set that doesn’t rattle and better acting.
When our main character Piper was convicted for being conned into drug-smuggling, we want her to keep a low profile and get out of jail as soon as possible. But by the end of the first series, prison has taken control of her and in an act of self-defence, kills another inmate. So will the second series see her back in court on trial for murder? How will this rare act of violence change her and those around her?
I’ve just been watching the official trailer for the new series and I’m excited now. Can't wait 'til June. If you want to see, here  it  is:


** I am part of Netflix’s Stream Team and I’m enjoying every minute of it **



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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Happy Goddess Eostre

Ever made an Easter Tree?

Paint a few twigs in a pot and decorate with Easter paraphernalia. Hey presto!

It transpired we were sub-consciously makin a Tree of Fertility, channelling our Pagan roots and discovering the real meaning of Easter in the process. 

Many moons ago, our Pagan ancestors carried out Easter rituals such as decorating trees and eggs in the vibrant spring sunshine colours in order to encourage fertility in the soil for the seasons ahead. That was their way of blessing the land and encouraging good harvests.
For Pagans, who established the origins of Easter thousands of years before Christianity, Easter time is about the rebirth of the sun and celebrating the wonder of nature. It's about a goddess of fertility called Eostre who is depicted with a rabbit's head and the symbols of eggs and rabbits. 

These fertility symbols have become so intrinsically linked with Easter that we no longer question why we surround ourselves with them, or why images of the Easter bunny (the modern day translation of the Goddess Eostre) are everywhere.

Goddess Eostre

The word Easter shares the same origins as "east" and "eastern," which is the direction of the rising sun.

The blossoming of spring is a life-renewing time of the year for us all, when winter has finally passed and the sun is born again.

Catholic Ireland celebrates a different type of Easter for the anniversary of the son of god. 

Do your own research about the history of Easter and you'll find that early Christians only started to embrace Easter after they realised it was such a big celebration in the Pagan calendar. In a bid to convert them to christianity, they blurred together the Spring Equinox with Christ's resurrection. 

How different is it really? Only one letter.. SON instead of SUN. 
In fact, 'son' and 'sun' are interchangeable as historical symbols of renewal and spring equinox. Consider for one minute, the coincidence of Easter being exactly 9 months prior to a very famous December 25th celebrated birthdate? A human life cycle, especially with all those fertility symbols abounding at Easter. 

Easter might represent the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the religious, but its origins derive from the annual "crossification" of the sun through the vernal equinox (Spring), when the sun is resurrected as the day begins to become longer than the night.

There's so many similarities that you can see why Easter is a special time for everyone, even if most people are only interested in chocolate eggs. 

So this weekend, I'm stuffing my face with the kids' chocolate and hoping the sun shines bright in the sky. 

Happy Easter everyone 

If you want to read more about this, check out these links....


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Monday, April 14, 2014

Are You a Helicopter Parent?

You see them in playgrounds and soft-play centres, stalking their toddlers until they can’t do anything for themselves, picking them up constantly until they become overdependent.

What’s the point of learning how to pick yourself up when your helicopter parent is always a step behind, like a coiled spring, ready to pounce and pull you back to your feet, oblivious to whether you actually wanted to stay on the floor.
Bringing up kids in this overprotective style of parenting is something you come across increasingly often these days. Typically, a mother or father discourages a child’s independence by micro-managing a child’s innate need to explore, even when the environment is safe and the child is happy to move about. A helicopter parent doesn’t even consider what the child wants; they think that they’re being a responsible parent by matching them pace-for-pace and swooping down at any sign of hiccup.
I watched a helicopter daddy do exactly this to his toddler the other day in a soft-play indoor centre (probably the safest place you’ll ever take your child), ironically just as I came across an article in a newspaper about how bad it was. I should have raced over to him and thrust the paper in his face and forced him to read it, for the sake of his little girl who didn’t get any breathing space from this “on-duty dad” shuffling behind her, not even interacting with her. But seeing as I was being the opposite of helicoptering: an absentee parent, who was taking a rare opportunity to put up my feet and read a newspaper whilst the three kids played in a confined, safe space, I obviously couldn’t be bothered.
The article quoted Dr Peter Gray, a renowned psychologist who is on a mission to persuade parents against hovering in this way. He says we will make our children narcissistic (having an inflated sense of self) if we over-parent like this:
“Free play is how children practise taking charge of their own lives. It is how they learn to make their own decisions, solve their own problems, negotiate with others as equals, see from others’ points of view, make friends, and manage risks. It is also how they learn to control fear and anger.
“But if a parent is hovering nearby and steps in whenever someone gets upset or angry, they deprive children of the opportunity to learn to control these emotions themselves. When children are continuously managed and directed by adults, they don’t develop an internal locus of control.”
Mollycoddled kids ‘grow up as narcissists: Mail Online

He suggests we give them more freedom and instead of mollycoddling them, make ourselves scarce so they become more capable, and when they’re older, allow more outdoor, unsupervised play.
It’s certainly food for thought. I recently started letting my four-year-old girl play outside in our courtyard estate with her friends (it helps my mama angst to know that her friend’s nine-year-old sister is also playing with them/looking out for them). My now six-year-old boy has been playing outside unsupervised with his friend for a few years too. They don’t go out of our small estate, tending to roll around on the grass when it’s dry, and be in and out of each other’s houses in winter. Luckily we live in a very safe community and a quiet part of the country, so it’s easier for me to go along with the recommendations of letting our children play outdoors more without adult supervision. Some parents don’t have that option.

When my firstborn was barely a few months old, I read an eye-opening book that laid the foundations for my entire approach to parenting. It was Do Not Dsturb by Deborah Jackson (1993)  and it presented me with an argument for leaving them to fall over. Taking the opposite approach to the dad in the soft-play centre with the stumbling toddler, the book espouses sitting back and keeping an eye from a safe distance when your child totters along the edge of the pond – just make sure you pack a change of clothes.

It presents research that shows yelling “Be careful!” at them is counter-productive, because it makes them question their own sense of how they judged something. By adding our anxieties into the mix, our children begin to doubt themselves and think that if mum thinks I’m going to fall, then I will.
Only when a child’s judgement is called into question does doubt start to creep in. When a mother overprotects a child, their natural steering begins to go off course. Deborah Jackson argues that children are more capable than many of us realise. Children need adult support, but they do not need interference, which can damage their growth, sense of balance and physical confidence.
Imagine the damage we are doing to our children when we say, “Don’t do that, you’ll fall”, or refuse to allow a toddler to walk without letting them to learn to pick themselves up. Do we really want to be doing everything for them for the rest of their lives?
I’ve always been a big fan of the philosophy of letting them learn from their own mistakes and letting them find their own sense of balance and confidence. I'm more of a 'Satellite Parent' because I keep an eye on them from a safe distance, trust that they're not going to come to harm so I leave them to explore and play, learning from any tumbles they might have.
We push our children, and we push ourselves, but maybe it’s time we just let them roam free (within age-appropriate reason of course). Maybe it’s time to allow their lovely little bodies and vivid imaginations to soar without continuing the legacy burden of our ancestors with interfering warnings becoming programmed into their heads.
The helicopter could come crashing down to earth with a rough landing if we don’t.


This article originally appeared on


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Friday, April 4, 2014

Claire Underwood: Villian or role model?

Today I am attempting to recover from flu by channeling the ruthless pragmatism of Claire Underwood, feminist icon of our times. Claire would never get sick. Flu is for wimps!

This post originally appeared on

"Mmmm, who should I destroy today...?!"

We all need role models right? They inspire us to hold our heads high and achieve more.

Only in today’s world, many female role models (popularized by reality TV and glossy magazines) are pitiful, leaving me with very few options of women to aspire to.
So it came as a bit of a surprise to find my latest female icon of inspiration in fiction.

It’s someone who has me in awe and has haunted me since we first met, inspiring me to sharpen up my act and stand up for myself a little better.
She’s someone who takes no nonsense and is super-sharp, totally focused on her goals in life, never losing sight of the big picture.
For me, she is a modern day feminist warrior, hard as nails and determined to get what she wants - and she looks amazingly cool and calm as she annihilates anyone who gets in her way.
She plays dirty and is a bit of a sociopath, solely devoted to self-interest. Yet there are glimpses of a softer side, a side that cries when she upsets a friend or is confronted by an attacker from her past.
She makes me want to be more dynamic. She makes me want to be less wooly and self-deprecating, and try to find more inner-strength.
Have you met her yet?

She is Claire Underwood. She is the leading lady in House of Cards, probably the best TV series of the decade. It’s also the most-darkest, shockingly twisted TV series I think I’ve ever seen. It is compulsive viewing. Once you start, you can’t resume life until you’ve watched the entire two series on Netflix. Resistance is futile. The hubby and I found we had to watch episode-after-episode to get our fix.

I get why some people find her repulsive - she's polarizes discussion forums - but for someone who tells her husband she strangles her “younger self every day to keep that girl from strangling me back” in order to reconcile being raped, reveals some explanation of her degree of self-hate and ruthless single-mindedness.

I think she’s probably one of the most captivating characters created for a TV show ever. I’m not the only one who thinks so. Claire, who is played by the striking Robin Wright, who was once married to Sean Penn, recently won the Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Series (Drama).

Kevin Spacey is brilliant too, as the Shakespearean villain calling the shots and taking us along for the ride. He is the anti-hero you love to hate. But the question is, where would he be without his wife?
I'm trying to channel some of her dynamic energy right now, to get me grabbing life by the horns, which is why my current internal mantra is: "What would Claire Underwood do?"
It makes me sit taller and breathe deeper and a bit a bit less scruffy. It's not an overnight transformation, but I'm getting there.

Who is your current role model? Do you have one?

House of Cards is an original Netflix series. I am part of Netflix’s Stream Team Ireland.


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