social spark Aisling Beatha


Welcome to my blog. I hope you enjoy your stay, however short, and find something that interests and blesses you.

The tabs just below will take you to posts of particular topics. So if you are looking for my posts on food, fitness or creativity, you will find them there. You will also find my posts on thankfulness or other more contemplative posts, as well as a set of posts with traditional blessings from a number of different cultures.

You can find posts with labels not included in that list via the labels list over in the sidebar.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Why I Cover My Hair (part 2 - FAQ)

If you haven't checked out the post in which I share my reasons for covering my hair, please check that out here.

In this post I want to address some of the questions people have asked and the comments I have received.

  • No, I don't have cancer. 
  • Nor am I covering my hair because I am losing it for another health related reason. 
  • No, I haven't become a Jew, or Muslim, or Sikh, or Pagan, or any other faith that covers their hair, (but on facebook I DO know a number of women from each of those faiths and more that cover their hair). 
  • No, I am not covering my hair because of religious reasons, but I believe some of my reasons are spiritual (see my previous post). 
  • No, my husband is not making me cover my hair (for anyone that knows us this question is so funny).

  • Do I cover my hair every day? Almost. I tend not to cover on the days I wash my hair purely because it takes so long to dry, being so long and thick. But I am usually covering most other days, at least for part of the day.
  • Is all that volume my real hair under the scarves? No. I wear what is known as a shaper or volumiser under my scarves. The particular one I use at the moment is called a Wendy Beret Volumiser and it has a built in velvet headband. If you have looked at any of my wrap photos on facebook I'll try and explain in a bit more detail, the front to back volume you see is all me, so how far back from my head it goes, is my hair in a bun in the middle. I have the stuffing in my volumiser spread out in a donut shape and my bun sits inside that. However, in the summer if it gets really hot I may resort to a velvet headband on its own and skip the volumiser.
  • Do the scarves really stay put all day? Absolutely, yes, BUT .... the key to keeping scarves in place all day is that previously mentioned velvet headband. Velvet has a direction to its fibres and that is what works in your favour, if you get your velvet headband the wrong way round, your scarves will slide right off.

    And there's another BUT, in that it really does depend on which scarf I am using and which wrap style I am using. Some days there is a quick trip to the ladies room to adjust or even re tie the scarf because the ends are coming out of where I tucked them, but that doesn't happen often.
  • Where do I get my scarves? I'm glad you asked. My volumiser, velvet headband, and some of my scarves all come from a website called Wrapunzel. It's run by a group of observant Jewish women in America and yes, they ship internationally. If you are ordering from the UK be aware of tax and VAT issues if you order over a certain amount. I try and get around that by only ordering from them when my husband is in America on business.

    The rest of my scarves come from charity shops or occasionally ebay. I've paid everything from £1 to £2.99 per scarf buying that way and I have an awesome collection.

Finally I want to address some of the comments I have received, mainly the ones that begin with
"I like your scarves, BUT ..."

"BUT your hair is such a nice colour." "BUT your hair is so beautiful."

Well, thank you for noticing. My hair is still beautiful, my hair is still a nice colour. Or is it? I could have chopped it all off or dyed it bright purple and you would never know, heehee.

and then the doozie

"BUT I miss seeing your hair."

I find this comment the most interesting. Since when has any part of my body been there for anyone else but me and possibly my husband? Would you dream of saying that about any other part of my body?

The funniest thing about this comment is that it usually comes from people who I only see once a week or less, so for whom most of my interaction with them is on facebook. I went back and checked how often I showed selfies on facebook that did show my hair in the months leading up to starting to wrap. The most recent one I found was about 10 months before I started and honestly you can't really see my hair. You have to go back 11 to 12 months to find any photos where my hair is fully visible, and before that another year back to about the same time the year before. So really, if my main interaction with you is on facebook, how much of my hair were you actually seeing anyway?

If you've read this far, thank you!

I really don't mind people asking me, I don't mind explaining my reasons either in person or by pointing them in the direction of this post. I know, however, that some women do mind. So if a woman you know has started to cover her hair and you are wondering why, think about how well you know her and how well she usually deals with that sort of questioning before you ask. Maybe, instead you could just enjoy the fact that she has found something that makes her feel beautiful and celebrate with her.

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You can check out the sites I link up to over in my sidebar. Before you go, why not check out my recipes index page, or my craft projects index page, I am sure you will find something there to interest you.

Why I Cover My Hair

Recently I have had a number of questions or comments on the fact that I have started to cover my hair most days. Since a number of those questions have come online, I thought it would be easier to write a blog post than to have to type out an answer each time. Then, when someone posts their question or comment I can point them in the direction of this post.

So, Welcome. If you have followed such a link this might be your first time visiting my blog and I hope you find something to interest you here.

When it comes to why I am covering my hair there are 3 types of answer,
  • The very short answer 
  • The short answer 
  • The long answer.

Let's start at the beginning shall we.

The very short answer 
The very short answer is that I am covering my hair because I can and because I like it. It really is as simple as that, and if that was enough answer for you, thank you for popping by.

The short answer 
The short answer is that I started covering my hair because it allows me to experiment with colour, texture and form in fabric in a way that is expensive to do in clothes, particularly for women of a larger size.
There was also a small element of protecting my hair sometimes as my hair is waist length and I usually wore it in a plait to one side so that it came forward over my shoulder. We use a gas hob for cooking at home and well, flames and long hair forward over your shoulder are not a good mix. But that really was only a small element of why I started this. Now onto the long answer.

The long answer 
The long answer as to why I cover my hair goes into more detail. I began covering my hair for both of the reasons stated in the previous answer and more but then I discovered lots of things about how it makes me feel, and those are the reasons that I continue to cover my hair, as well as the reasons I began.

First, the "more", You may not have noticed this about me, but I have an unusually HUGE head. No, seriously!  It might not look like it from the photos you see on facebook, but you should try going hat shopping with me and then you would see. In fact, a common family game when clothes shopping and we're bored is "Get Zoe to try on hats and laugh at her".  Even men's extra large hats are not big enough.  And yet, I have always wanted to wear hats; pretty hats, beautiful hats, smart hats, casual hats, hats for keeping warm (BTW Thanks Dana!!!), hats for keeping cool, etc and I can't. Covering my hair in the way that I do now, fulfils that dream.

When I cover my hair:
  • I feel more ready to face the day 
  • I feel stronger 
  • I feel more like a woman (go ahead, sing some Shania Twain, you know you want to)
  • I feel beautiful (in a world that tells me big is most definitely not beautiful) 
  • I feel connected to other women 
  • I feel like I walk taller, inside and out
  • and perhaps most importantly 
  • I FEEL MORE LIKE ME!  The me, I've always known was there, but no one else could see.
And that last reason should be enough, it is enough for me, it is enough for my husband, and that is all that matters.

In the next post I shall address some of the comments and questions that have come my way.

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You can check out the sites I link up to over in my sidebar. Before you go, why not check out my recipes index page, or my craft projects index page, I am sure you will find something there to interest you.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

When God Repeats Himself . . . . . .

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When God Repeats Himself

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When God Repeats Himself, It's Time To Listen.
A familiar phrase or concept to many of us.  But let's be honest we tend to associate it with all the things we think God wants us to DO, all the "shoulds" and "oughts" and "musts". I was reminded last week that it also applies, in fact, in my mind it FIRST applies, to all the times God speaks of His love for us, all the times He speaks of His Grace and mercy, all the times He speaks encouragement over us, whether that be directly through His word, through his Spirit into our hearts, or through those around us.

I work part time, employed by the church I attend to provide assemblies, prayer spaces and other activities in local schools.  A couple of weeks ago I was pointed in the direction of a new job.  Not to replace the one I do now, but one that could run alongside what I do now and fit in really nicely with it (the 2nd job is also part time).  It would basically mean doing the same thing as I am doing now but in an additional environment for a different employer. Let's be honest when you work for the church you attend, with very little opportunity for feedback, you're never quite sure if you really ARE doing a good job, or not, so I was a little nervous.  I ummed and aaahed, and went back and forth in my head, trying to decide if I was going to apply, and finally, I did.  It took me a whole afternoon to fill in the application form, I wanted to do this right, and on Tuesday last week I posted it.

On Wednesday I received encouraging messages about the job from 3 separate people, 1 of whom knows neither of the others and I've never met before and only 1 of them was from the church I attend.  Each of them was saying more or less the same thing.
All of them coming on the same day like that, within a space of less than 12 hours, I knew that was not a co-incidence.

Whether I get the job or not is not really the point.  The point is when God repeats himself, particularly when it is in a short space of time like that, it usually requires a response from us.  In the case of the "shoulds" and so on, the response is obvious, but in the case of encouragement and all the things along these lines, the response is different.

Let me tell you something:

God thinks you are amazing.  He really does.  He notices the things that you do that bless other people, he sees the way you uniquely express your love for Him, the way you love others in ways that no one else can do.  He watches when you smile at that person everyone else overlooks, He notices the extra time you spent over something when you didn't have to.  He sees the things that make your face light up with joy, and they make Him smile too. He sees all of that and more and he speaks His love and appreciation and encouragement over you.  Over and over again, in ways that only YOUR heart will understand.

Your response is your choice.

Will you do what a lot of us do, what I have done in the past, and tell yourself "Oh well, I know God says that stuff, but He doesn't mean it about me.  Other people yes, but not me." or if the encouragement came through others, "Oh those people are just saying those things to be polite" or any of the other variants of things that we tell ourselves when our self esteem is low and encouragement comes our way?


Will you accept that love and encouragement?  Will you believe the positive things God is saying about you?  No matter who or what he uses to send that message?

You can check out other Thoughtful Thursday Posts here. Before you go, why not check out my recipes index page, or my craft projects index page, I am sure you will find something there to interest you.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

2015 - The Year of AGAIN

2014 Living in Between 2015 Again

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2014 had been hard for me on many levels, and has fit with my theme for the year in ways that I never imagined it doing when we began this journey back in January 2014.

I have studied and explored the stages of faith and grown to understand that this in between stage I have found myself in, in relation to my faith, this place of doubts, questions, refusal to accept the previous "easy answers" and yes, even anger, is a normal, natural part of the journey.  I have lived an "in between" stage with my health as we try a block and replace therapy to try and solve an overactive thyroid, and CPAP therapy continues for my sleep apnoea with a new wonder mask that has proved difficult to adjust to.  I have lived an in between stage in my marriage in some ways too as my husband spent 21 weeks out of a run of 53, working away in Germany.  I have certainly lived in between as a mother, as my eldest graduated from university in June 2014 and came back home to live until he finds a permanent job in his field (good news, he has an interview on Monday) but my youngest left for university in September 2014.  This has meant I have also lived in between with my creativity as what was my craft room is the eldest's bedroom once again until he finds a place of his own.  And of course I have lived in between with my writing, as some pieces I had written at the beginning of the year were held onto but not used by the person who asked for them, and then, the day after I said "enough is enough, I take them back" I was asked to join the team at middle places, and really what more "in between" could you get than MIDDLE PLACES.

For a number of years my theme for the year has coincided unexpectedly with where our church body found itself that year too, and 2014 was no exception (although 2015 is different, but more on that later), as we left the building that was previously our church home and moved to a new building that we are currently only renting until we can arrange the purchase.  So, in between, again.

And then we move on to 2015, and a search for a theme, well, not exactly, you see, I had thought about it being the time of year to think on a theme but I hadn't really got any further than that and then one day I was thinking about something else and this word came up, just one word, and it was like it dropped into my spirit and my spirit went "that's it, that's the word for the year ahead."  The word is AGAIN.

"Oh great" I thought, "are we just doing in between for a whole other year?"  But it wasn't that simple, because then another word dropped in alongside again, and that was HOPE, HOPE AGAIN, now that I liked, who wouldn't right?  So I sat with that for a couple of days and then more and more words began to drop into my spirit, each of them fitting alongside AGAIN.


I am sure there will be more.  So far there are no signs that this year's theme sits easily alongside where our church family finds itself this year, but it has turned out to sit alongside the Middle places theme for the coming year.  When I began to think of "again" as my theme, I already knew that the Middle Places theme for this month was (Re)Life or Real Life but then one night last week, while I was sleeping and the rest of the team were awake (that ocean between us has a lot to answer for, time zones included) It was decided that we would be keeping (Re) for most of the year, with different words coming after it each time.

1.  a prefix, occurring originally in loanwords from Latin, used with the meaning “again” or “again and again” to indicate repetition.

So there you have it, my theme sits perfectly alongside the Middle Places theme for the year, so I am excited to see what this year will bring!

You can check out the sites I link up to over in my sidebar. Before you go, why not check out my recipes index page, or my craft projects index page, I am sure you will find something there to interest you.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

May You Know What It Means To Be Loved - (a blessing)

May You Know What it Means to be Loved wide

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As I may have mentioned last time, I want to finish this series of posts with a blessing.  It might not seem like a blessing in places but read it right through and weigh up whether it’s a blessing you want to receive or not . . . . (scroll down for video version).

May you know what it means to be loved.

May you know in the depths of your soul, the bravery of standing as who you are, the joy of removing that mask, the delight of tearing down those walls.

And yes, may you know too the fear that comes with that, for in knowing this fear and doing it anyway, we learn that we are loved.

May you know the fear of not being accepted, and step out anyway, because you know the One who ultimately accepts you.

May you know the fear of really being seen and step out into the light anyway, because you know the One who Is light.

May you know the anxiety that comes with trying something new, and try anyway because you know the one who promises to go with you.

May you know all these things because you began the journey of knowing what it means to be loved, a journey into the very heart of God.  A journey that begins with loving and accepting yourself.

©Zoe Gregg (Aisling Beatha) January 2014

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That brings to an end the series of posts that were originally written to be used elsewhere.  Check back next week for more from Thoughtful Thursdays.

You can check out the sites I link up to over in my sidebar. Before you go, why not check out my recipes index page, or my craft projects index page, I am sure you will find something there to interest you.
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