Summer solstice brings intentions for the coming year…

On Sunday, I celebrated the Summer solstice at a dear friend’s house in the country with about twenty other people. We shared a feast and then lit a big bonfire, drummed and danced, burned things in the fire we wanted to let go of, and set intentions for the year ahead…

This week I am feeling very much like the new year has begun. I have taken some steps towards launching my new business – Helen Lehndorf: Mindfulness & Creativity (I’m on facebook HERE) …

This year I am employing myself to teach yoga, meditiation, creative writing classes, day retreats and more! I have great trepidation about the financial side of things, but otherwise am feeling happy, excited and very much like I am doing the right thing.

& I’ve already done a few things this week towards my goals for the year:

Here they are…


(I’ve gotten into making vegetable juices this year – with some trial and error. I’ll write a post with some juicing tips soon.)

I’ve had some ongoing health issues (I won’t bore/overshare about them but they can be summed up in two words: ‘women’s troubles’) which I am determined to sort out this year. I also want to feel better generally. I am so clean-living (relatively) I feel like I should have more energy and vitality than I do. This week I have been to an osteopath for a crunchy neck that was giving me headaches, and a herbalist. The herbalist said the majority of her clients are ‘exhausted mothers who want more energy’. YUP! This is going to be the year of prioritising my health!


I love to grow vegetables (this is a photograph which accompanied a personal essay about my vegetable garden published in the Dominion-Post a few years back – the cabbage-boob pose still cracks me up) but despite years of it, I still have a lot to learn….so over the next two years I am doing a Permaculture course through RECAP. The course covers soil health, water systems, animals…all kinds of things I know little about. I’m excited to learn, and to improve my garden.


I bought my bike in 2007 with proceeds from a stall at a craft fair. I remember I told everyone who bought something from me that day that their money was going towards a bicycle, and how excited I was to buy it (especially choosing the bell and the basket to go on the front) … I used to cycle around our old neighbourhood all the time….then…we moved to our new house, so close to the centre of town it’s a ten minute stroll to the square and for whatever reason, I got out of the habit of cycling and subsequently lost my road confidence a bit. So this year is going to be the year I get back on my bike! I have lots of great cycling role models in Palmerston North – women who are much older than me who get around on their bikes, some towing their groceries on bike-trailers…one friend tows her dog around on a little platform!

I think they are all fairly achieveable goals. WISH ME LUCK!

Do you have any plans/hopes/dreams for the coming year?


Adventures in Writing! & adventures in hibernating

If there are any locals (Manawatu, New Zealand) reading – I am about to start this:


Although I hope people will come every week – I am aiming to have each session work as an independent writing experience, so people might come to just one and get a good fix of inspiration, or come to each one and add community to their writing experience.

Either way, ….Hoorah! 


I’m also going to have a wee break from this space. I will know how long for when I feel the urge to blog again and break the break. Consider me a moomintroll crawling into my bed for the winter’s hibernation. (Having said that, I am currently re-reading Moominland in Winter, where Moomin breaks out of his usual hibernation and sees snow for the first time. Rules are made for the heady rush of the exception to them, and all that…)

Before I go, five happy things:

I just bought some floral Converse on trademe for an absolute song. Oh happy days! – one of my life goals achieved.

My 14 year old son just made sushi! Colour me PROUD.

I went to see the movie ‘What we do in the shadows’ yesterday. Oh my sides, it’s funny. & Sweet. & Gruesome.

Sometimes I get bored with my yoga home practice and so I do youtube videos. My go-to for this has been Chaz Rough for a long time, but I’ve discovered a new good one with short (20-30min) classes – Yoga With Adriene. It’s great! She’s a lovely, upbeat teacher and the yoga is very achievable, nourishing and relaxing. Very much recommended!

I bought a wooden dining chair today from an opshop. I was on foot and a long way from home, so I slung it over my shoulder like something Lady Gaga might wear. It turns out that if you walk long distance carrying a chair, people smile at you more, some people laugh, too. Some people offer you a lift. Some people say ‘Why are you carrying a chair?’ … I suggest you carry a chair through the city if you are feeling lonely. People will talk to you! 🙂


See you when I see you! & KEEP WARM!

x Helen



before the solstice, the longest night…

Sunday was winter solstice, Saturday the longest night. From here on in the days shorten, although we still have a lot of cold weather ahead!

My friend Emma has posted about midwinter today HERE

We were supposed to go to a big solstice potluck on Saturday, but we’d had a busy overscheduled week (and another this week) and I couldn’t quite gain velocity to get out the door, so instead we stayed in and had soup and red wine and family movie night. It was just what we all needed, I think. Sometimes staying in can feel like such a treat!


We woke up to an unseasonably bright golden day on solstice day, and went out into the country (just like Emma) for some rural rambles. One thing I love about living where I live, is that although I dwell in the centre of the city, I can be in the country in ten or so minutes. It’s the best of both worlds for a countryside lover.


I hope your winter solstice was cosy (or your summer solstice bright and fun if you are reading on the other side of the world) … all around my garden there are tiny green bumps of bulb-heads poking through – before we know it, spring will be here again.


Here’s to all the reflectiveness which comes with the longest night.

gosh, thanks!

A couple of posts ago I was having a bit of a frazzled time of it and I asked (very unsubtly and in a way lacking in grace) for some nice snail mail….half-joking, not thinking much of the spontaneous appeal as it went from my typing fingers to the internet ether…

…and I got some! Some fabulous letters, cards and ‘zines and stickers and patches and general heartfelt beauty.

Thank you so much, generous and kind people. You made me feel visible, supported….loved!

This, on the side of Tomato Cafe where the weekly specials usually go. Perhaps it IS this week’s special? : 


black river / peoples’ river

Last Friday the public collaboration phase of BLACK RIVER was launched…with a haka, a song and some morning tea.

In this phase, people are invited to contribute writing (there are two typewriters in the space, plus lots of pens and paper) or visual art and they can immediately hang it, becoming part of the exhibition.

Also, all of the involved poets and artists have their drafts/sketches on display in a cabinet. The idea of this was to share creative process with the public.

It is a little bit exposing/embarrassing/weird to have my scrawling, messy poem draft on public display, however I believe in the reason behind it (sharing creative process). (It doesn’t help that the other poets seem to have basically ‘cheated’ (I say this jokingly) and submitted fairly polished, finished poems for display so mine looks all the more deranged. Ha ha!) Oh well, all I can say is I STUCK TO THE BRIEF.

The pollution of the Manawatu river is quite a political ‘hot button’ in my region, so I am looking forward to seeing the public’s take on it.

Here is the cabinet with the sketches and poetry ‘drafts’. My mess is on bottom left – notice how much longer it is than the other ‘drafts’? Ahem.


On Friday, there were already quite a few public responses. Here are some of my favourites:

Whoever this person is, they have great handwriting…


River as hair + a great sentiment….


River is DEEP.


LOL, indeed.









victory gardens / mend and make do

I’m very inspired by World War Two imagery around Victory Gardens and Mend & Make Do campaigns. I’m also fascinated by the Land Girls / Womens’ Land Army, and the way WW2 changed work life for women in the West forever.

I recently had a pile of WW2 social history books out of the library and wanted to share with you some of the images. (Sorry I didn’t have the time/patience to scan them, so they are photographs of book pages. Not ideal. Forgive me.)

I don’t at all idealise the 1940s. I’m know it was a very hard time, a frightening time, lots of death and fear and sadness and people worked very hard just to keep their houses clean and keep their families fed. All the same, I enjoy the parallels between the Victory Garden movement and the 21st zeitgeist of backyard chicken farming, raised bed gardening, community gardening, CSA schemes, Seed Banks, recycling, upcycling etc….the similarities are strong.

There’s a great shop on etsy which sells modern day ‘victory garden’ posters – great witty designs. It’s called ‘The Victory Garden of Tomorrow’. I so want to buy something from the shop for my kitchen, but I can’t make up my mind which one I like the best!

Here are some of my favourite WW2 images from the books:

Women darning their tights….


In today’s world of ‘from sweat-shop to landfill’ fashion, I’m proud to say I DO mend my clothes…as below…


Dig for victory NOW!


I would join this girl gang of happy gardeners!


Have you ever seen a sugar beet? Not the most inspiring of vegetables…. 


The lawns of Kensington Park in London were dug up for food production….


Love the way the word ‘FOOD’ is made from vegetables here… 


Even Yardley face cream got in on the victory gardening trend for it’s advertising… 





old roses

Black Doris did really well on Friday. She made me a little bit of cash and garnered many compliments on her fine appearance. Fun was had.


I’m having one of those times of life where the dial goes from ‘happily busy’ into ‘OVERWHELM‘ *cue obnoxious siren noise, flashing lights, general chaos* …

When the dial is up this high, I find it hard to move purposefully forward and expend too much times metaphorically running around in circles like a simile chicken.  (Poetry nerd jokes.)


Here’s what I will do:

a) drink tea

b) make a comprehensive to-do list

c) accept the bottom 10 things on the list may not get done any time soon. C’est la vie.

d) forgive myself for the dirty oven, the weedy garden, the imperfect parenting…

e) talk myself down from quitting my volunteer work (again); talk myself down from giving up trying to be a writer (again); talk myself down from running away to Iceland carrying only a little brown suitcase (again) …

f) drink some more tea. The sound of the kettle helps me relax. Breathe, tea coming. 

g) leave an unsubtle hint on my blog that I would like some nice snail mail, please, as all the bills and letter from the IRD are not helping the sense that life is all grown-up obligations and worldly worries…

h) do more yoga. I always let my yoga slip when I need it most. AND I’M A YOGA TEACHER. Gah. Get thee to the mat, woman.

i) find the jar of French bon-bons which I bought in Greytown at the start of May. Suck on a sour apple bon-bon whilst sitting on the back step and watching the chickens grab a bit of winter sun.

j) do the next thing on the list. then the next thing. then the next thing. Try just to do the next thing, rather than the thing I WANT to do. Accept ‘good enough’. Accept ‘hanging in there’. Accept.

oldrose_2 oldrose_1

k) Take pointless photographs of old roses, just because.

Hope you are doing okay, too, whether you are living the dream or just treading water. X X X