Wednesday, 11 May 2011

How to be a Super Woman: Meet Gina from Happily Poddling Along...

1. Hi! Tell us a bit about yourself
If you break down my days I'm primarily a mother (my daughter, Midi is three and a half and my son, Mini is three months) and home-maker. However, I tend to fill every spare minute with something and as an avid crafter I always have several creative projects on the go too, some of which are usually freelance graphic design jobs. Just in case I ever get bored I also help run the local parent & toddler group, the local play group and the home birth support group, and there's also the charity myself and few others are in the process of setting up to support parents with learning disabilities.

I've worked as a doula since 2005 and as a breastfeeding peer supporter since last year and although I'm currently officially on maternity leave I still regularly talk to expectant parents on the phone and volunteer at the local breastfeeding support group and parent-craft classes. I originally trained as a graphic designer and have continued to undertake freelance design jobs as and when too.

Vintage dress for a toddler, Made by Gina.
2. Do you have a 'grand plan'? Do you think this has changed at all over the years?
There is always a grand plan, otherwise I'd have nothing to work towards! It has evolved over time and I'm sure it always will, but these days there is a lot more enjoyment of the here and now and a lot less pressure to get somewhere else. There was a moment a couple of years ago when I realised all my big dreams had come true – I had a wonderful life partner, a child (now two, which is even better), a job I adored (being a doula) and we'd found our dream home (a gorgeous 200 year old stone cottage in the country, with land and woods to work). I still have things I really want to do, such as actually make some money from my crafting and further into the future to train as a midwife, but it feels as though the Big Things have already been achieved so in some ways the pressure is off. That's not to say I'm complacent, but I am able to really appreciate the things I have now and enjoy these precious times with my young family without yearning too much for what I may be able to achieve in the future. I actually have to hold myself back from grieving for the loss of these magical (if manic) days before they have passed so, for now, my grand plan is to make the most of now and create the wonderful memories that will make me smile for the rest of my days.

3. What gets you up in the morning?
My kids, literally, usually at the crack of dawn. And then I grunt and thump around until the lovely Dr Poddle hands me a cup of tea and I gradually begin the metamorphosis into something more human. In the psychological sense, it's usually the latest creative project and the hope that maybe today I'll get a slice of time to devote to it that gives me that little extra oomph when I'm dozy-headed and craving more time under the covers.

4. Run us through a typical kind of day
After a start much like the one above we'll run through the morning mayhem of getting us and the kids breakfasted and dressed, the dog walked and fed, the chickens out and fed and anything else sorted. On the days when Midi goes to the local play group I drop her off after Dr Poddle has left for work (unless the timings work out for her to do the dropping off) then it's either home to attempt to keep on top of the chores with a bit of crafting/designing/interwebbing thrown in if the time/baby/inspiration is present, or we're out running errands or meeting up with folk. On the days when Midi is home based then the day will be some random mix up of shared activities like baking or child-centred craft and independent play for her while I try to keep the cogs going around the house as well. I've been surprised at how easily Mini, our three month old has fitted in to everything. He really does. He just comes along with me when out and happily watches me get on with things at home as long as he gets plenty of chat and feeding in between. I know I'm extremely lucky to have such a chilled out baby and although life still feels chaotic, I know it could be much worse.
Wax Crayon Batik: Gina has fun crafting on her blog

By mid-afternoon I'm starting to get my head into how to play out the evening. Midi is an early riser and if she doesn't have her tea by 5 and be moving into bedtime by 6-ish then we risk some serious tantrums and a much more interrupted night, so the clock starts to tick about 4:30. I used to really enjoy our family meal times but they just don't seem to fit her pattern at the moment given that Dr Poddle usually gets home from work not much before 6. So, kiddy tea happens, then Dr Poddle returns and we take it in turns to help Midi to bed: bath, stories and cuddles. Then we get to chill out, eat, and catch up with each other whilst cooing over Mini. Our evenings these days usually involve watching some TV or DVDs as a way to wind down and I'll usually be doing something crafty at the same time.

Weekends are the fun times and can involve anything. We try to give each other at least a little bit of child-free time every weekend, even if it's just an hour or so. Often we'll see friends, but we also really enjoy spending quality time at home. There's a lot of work to be done planting, caring for the animals, keeping up our wood stores etc so we're not short of things to do.

Cradling. View more of Gina's birth art here.
5. When you experience a setback how do you pick yourself back up again?
I had to think about this one. I have to find a way to lessen my emotional attachment to the setback, whatever it may be. I often find this quite easy to do by remembering the faith I have in the universe providing whatever I need, whether or not I can see why or how at the time. So faith plays quite a big part in it for me. My faith has evolved a lot in the last ten years or so and I now identify broadly as a pagan leaning in a shamanism direction, but the specifics fluctuate and combine many other things too. I don't undertake much ritual or formal practice but life and the universe now has a structure in my mind and heart that resonates with my soul and that brings me a lot of peace.
Once I'm able to see the setback more objectively it's usually possible to figure out a solution. Talking things through with my very wise Dr Poddle is often helpful as well. She's very good at cutting through crap, whether it be mine or anyone else's so she's a great sounding board.

6. Who or what inspires you the most?
Gosh, all kinds of people and things! I've become increasingly addicted to other craft blogs so I'm always stumbling across amazing ideas for practical things I want to make or do too. I also find my daughter's creativity to be truly inspirational so engineering environments where we can be creative together is something I love to do and gives me plenty of inspiration – I'm sure it will be the same with my son in due course. I'm also blessed with an amazing network of friends and colleagues from the world of doulaing/home/natural birthing and deep, engaged conversation with these wise women (and the odd man) helps fill my soul and keep me energised.

Experimenting with finger labyrinths
7. We all have bad days when we doubt ourselves and our abilities. How do you get through yours?
I usually run crying to Dr Poddle who gives me the cuddles and pep talk that I need. My sister and one of my cousins also get leaned on if I need them – and I try to offer the same in return. So seeking support is usually my first action. I don't seem to have a problem asking for help which is a good thing for me, though possibly not for everyone else... Other than that, it's a faith thing again. That deep rooted belief that the universe knows what it's doing, and if it doesn't then there's nothing I can do about it so I might as well make the most of what I can gets me through.

8. What do you feel are your greatest achievements and why?
Somehow managing to manifest my dreams by my early thirties, particularly conceiving, carrying and home birthing two wonderful children with dodgy fertility and the need for donated sperm ranks high. I've also felt enormous satisfaction from some of my doula work: witnessing someone go from anxious and fearful to an informed, empowered, roaring birthing goddess and knowing I may have helped play a part in that transformation makes me very happy.

9. Tell us what you think constitutes a "Super Woman" and list 3 key ingredients for success.
Most of the women I know are superwomen! A couple of months ago I met up with a group of about 8 friends for a group lunch with our assorted kids, all under 6. It was only afterwards that I realised that all but one of them was also either running or setting up their own business or enterprise as well as being the primary carer for their children and keeping a household ticking over. It made me feel very proud of all of us, even though we all run round like headless chickens most of the time to do it. Some of them even manage to look extremely glamorous while doing it, unlike me who wears make-up maybe twice a year and regularly goes out forgetting to brush my hair or even look in a mirror to make sure my top is on the right way round (it isn't always).

As for ingredients for success I'd say that setting reasonable goals, nurturing oneself (in whatever ways work for you) and doing one thing that makes you happy for every one thing you do that feels a chore would be a good start. Now I just need to remember those things myself...

10. Final words of wisdom?
Just surrender to the present. It's a beautiful place to be and so easy to miss.

You can find Gina over on her blog and her doula, graphic design and craft sites.

Do you know someone who fits the bill of Super Woman? Even yourself - don't be shy! If you would like to take part or recommend a friend, please send a message with the details to me at giveanearthly at gmail dot com.


  1. Thanks so much for asking me to feature Zoe. It's a real honour, and it was a good work-out for the old grey cells with your tough questions. :)

    And what a lovely surprise it was to see it with all the photos and links! (I hadn't checked my email before seeing it here). If you ever want a job as my personal promotions manager, just say. Payment in cake...


  2. Hee, thank YOU Gina. I feel a know you a little bit more now :)

    Now there's an idea. Bad for my waistline though... ;)


  3. *I know*. Baby brain... (and fingers)

  4. You're right Gina, most men are odd.

    Got to agree with you on your achievements too. The help you gave as a doula was, without exaggeration, life changing. One of my aspirations is to be able to help people to change their life, and seeing you do it in all the ways you do (Doulaing, BF support, HBSG) is really inspirational.

    Talking of inspirational, Midi's desk ( has been giving me all kinds of thoughts of building foldaway bed / desk combos for H & M. Just need to get the ideas down on paper and then invite you and Dr Poddle over for a creative session!

    Must stop being sycophantic now, or Mother Earthly will start asking me awkward questions!

  5. Thanks so much for asking me to feature Zoe. It's a real honour, and it was a good work-out for the old grey cells with your tough questions. :)

    And what a lovely surprise it was to see it with all the photos and links! (I hadn't checked my email before seeing it here). If you ever want a job as my personal promotions manager, just say. Payment in cake...



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