The Blog


Hi lovebugs,

I went to see the amazing Steve Biddulph talk last night. He’s the best-selling author of a bunch of parenting and self development books including Manhood and The Secret of Happy Children.

His talk last night was on Raising Girls.

raising girls

I was hoping me and Mr D could have a hot date together for it, but he had to do Dad-Duty, so I had to ride solo like the Lone Ranger. The Lone Ranger with his beloved horsey Toto. Was it Toto? Let me check… WTF? TONTO? And it wasn’t his horse? WHAT? WHAT WORLD HAVE I BEEN LIVING IN????

Anyways… what I’m trying to say… it was just me and my journal. Which is totally a hot date in my books anyway.

I took some illustrated notes, coz that’s how I digest information… shared them on Instagram. Just like at the Growth Summit.

Let it begin!



I love how he started his talk:

I’m just one guy, sharing what he has experienced and learned.

If your heart or your head don’t agree with it, just leave it behind.

Wise advice for everything in life (and business).

raising girls

Two important pieces of parenting wisdom he shared:

  • The best parenting question you can use over and over again is ask your kids: “And how do you feel about that?”
    Instead of just jumping in with every solution or what’s right or wrong. Just ask them how they feel. Let them develop faith in their own gut instinct.
  • Whenever your kid tells you something (even if you feel freaked out about it), make sure you understand to use two voices.
    1. What you think in your head
    2. What you say outloud to your kids
    And always stay calmer than your kids.

self confidence

This talk was bloody good and heart breaking all at once.

I felt really panicky once Steve started talking about the issues with raising girls right now.

He said he has spent his whole career focussing on men and boys, because as a family therapist, he believed he had to work where the disaster zone was.

And now the disaster zone is girls. Teenage girls.

After I came home, I had to have a loooooong talk with Chris on the couch. I went through all the notes of the lecture and told him what all the data was saying.

It was really full on.


I feel like I’ve been a naiive, overly-optimistic Pollyanna about the depiction of women + girls in media.

Probably because I don’t feel that affected by it – I’m pretty in love with being Leonie usually.

But when Steve spoke of the marketing research done eight years ago that found that 8 year old girls were an untapped market, highly susceptible to social approval… and decided to exploit that…

I just felt rage.

8 year old girls, man! 8 YEAR OLD GIRLS!

Kids that because of bullshit marketing start believing they need to worry about their weight and attractiveness.

That’s all kinds of messed up.

teaches girls

I guess the thing is — we know that the above stuff isn’t really true.

Well, I hope we do.

And we also all grew up in an age pre-social media where we didn’t have to feel viligant over what our schoolmates were saying about us online.

Steve spoke about kids with iphone addictions who wake up during the night to check what people think of them.

And where as we – as adults – usually have a better sense of self and have coping mechanisms – for our kids… it’s way too much, too soon.

They don’t have the emotional resilience and sense of self… because that time in their childhood is being robbed from them.



age part 2

What each age of girlhood is all about.

This was useful to look at ages and what each girl needs at each stage.

After this part, I just felt so so so bloody grateful to be married to Mr Dawson. Grateful that my girls get to have this dad who does this stuff totally innately.

And to try and garner some patience for my now five year old to tell me continuous friendship angst stories. And know that she needs to for healthy development.


We can only teach our kids what we embody.

And a beautiful way to finish up. Steve reminds us that we can only teach our kids what we believe and know.

 I was thinking about how perfect this video fitted in.

Our girls have to be surrounded by images and dolls of what it is to be a real girl and woman.

The lecture was incredible. Brilliant.

I’m so grateful that Steve is in the world, sharing his much needed message.

And am very grateful to my local council for doing such an amazing thing as bringing him to our town to help parents.

Steve Biddulph

Steve is beyond wise. An utter earth angel.

Highly recommend. His voice is so needed in the world.

I would highly recommend any of his brilliant books:

Feeling like a fierce mama bear.

Big love + blessings to all of you… and your children…



The Mothering Book I Wish I Had Read

by Leonie Dawson on October 27, 2013


Dearest one,

You are doing a good job.

I know this is hard.

I know this is hard.

I know.

I’m sorry.


I’m sorry you’re in pain right now.

I’m sorry it feels like your life has been ripped apart, asunder, in a million different pieces right now with none that are yours.

I’m sorry.

It will get better.

It will get better.

I promise.


Give yourself what you need.

You are the non-renewable resource here.

Give yourself time out.

Give yourself space to breathe and think and take a moment or twelve.

Give yourself the gift of those things you loved before the great earthquake came.

Ask for what you need. Ask for it again and again.

Ask for it from different people.

Find the support you need.

You need it.

You deserve it.

It will make it better.


There is not one right way to do this.

Not one way that will grade you as the perfect mother.

Not one way that will cure all the ills in this world.

And that’s okay my darlingheart.

That’s okay.

Please don’t grade yourself on those books.


Fuck the ideologies.

Fuck the experts.

Fuck the how to do it rights.

Fuck it all.

Cherish you and your truth and your child and your family

and that particular constellation of cells that make your universe up.

You’re the expert here.

You’re the one that has the authority and the power and the truth and the right

to make a life that is good and kind to your spirit and your families.

You can do it.

I trust in you.

You’ve got this.


Please don’t grade yourself on what mothering looks like on others.

You can only see the outer of their lives, not the inner.

You are important. You are needed. You are good and you are right.

You are a mother.

A wonderful mother.

And that’s enough.

It’s going to be enough.


You’re going to keep learning of course.

It’ll happen without you even pushing and straining.

It’ll happen because that’s how it always happens with life.

You’ll find out what you need when you need it.

You’ll find out because when you need an answer when you need it.

You don’t need to know everything before it’s begun.


Fuck it.

Burn the books.

Give yourself what you need.

Ignore how everyone else is doing it.

Follow only the simple song in your own heart,

the lightness in your own step,

the path that is calling you.

You deserve goodness.

You deserve to thrive.

You are mother.


All my love,
Always and all ways,
the stumbling, humbled, haemerroid-ridden, puking, but slowly getting it,


Hi my darlinghearts,

I’m still here. Still hurling. Still spending my days laying horizontal, praying to the vomit gods that this particular wave of nausea doesn’t end in a tidal wave out my mouth.

I’m managing to keep enough food and water down that I don’t need to head back to hospital right now. Small wins!

Sometimes my spirit feels really low. I sometimes feel scared terrified about this lasting for another six months until the end of this pregnancy. I sometimes feel hopeless, miserable, depressed and anxious about how out of control my body is right now, and how little control I have of my life.

(This is all totally normal feelings to experience during hyperemesis gravidarum.)

Sometimes I feel at peace. Sometimes I have enough bandwidth to gently coach myself through the hard moments “Okay, we can do this, let’s stand up and go to the bathroom now, you can do this. Okay, you’re vomiting now, that’s okay, you’re going to be okay. You’re doing great honey. I know this sucks. Yep, we can do this.”

Sometimes I don’t have enough bandwidth. Sometimes I have faith that even if it goes for another six months, we’ll be okay. Sometimes I don’t have that faith at all.

Sometimes I have to lean on Chris’ faith. I have to lean into him and cry and tell him “Just tell me that everything is going to be okay. Just give me a pep talk.”

And sometimes he finds the right words and sometimes he doesn’t. And either way, it ends up being okay.

I remember reflecting back on my first pregnancy, during my first experience of hyperemesis gravidarum. And how my prominent memory was of being so sick I couldn’t even read a book. And part of me would think “How is that even possible? Maybe I was overthinking it.”

Nope. Nope, I really wasn’t. It’s a real joy when I feel well enough to read.

With reading and writing and my usual brain facilities off on holiday somewhere, my ears seem to be the ones most able to delight in something.

These songs have been playing on repeat and bring me an enormous amount of pleasure in amidst it all:

And because this tickles my funny bones:

I’m living in a dreaming land at the moment. A hazy, soft world where the usual Leonie personality, drive, ego and identity don’t really exist. I’m too sick to talk and do do do. I’m sure this is a good lesson for a person who loves doing so much. A person like me.

So I lay. I lay, sometimes patient, sometimes bored, sometimes pissed at God.

I wait. I wait for the wave of nausea to pass so I can try to eat.

I wait for the crappiness to pass so soft tendrils of peace can find me again.

I wait for the illness to end.

And I sleep. I sleep because I am growing a whole new body in my uterus. I sleep because I’m on three different anti-vomiting medications and all of them are drowsy-making ones. I sleep because my body is tired from vomiting.

I sleep deeply, my body pinned down by the tired, liquid limbs into the mattress.

I sleep and I dream. I dream wild, vivid dreams. Dreams of the past. Dreams of hurt and pain, of all the ones that couldn’t love me the way I needed. Dreams where I finally voice: I’m angry. This wasn’t okay with me. Dreams of all the forgotten possibilities.

It’s Groundhog Day in my dreams. Where I follow the loops of my life and try out all the different options again and again.

And I come to realise:

No matter what, I would have chosen what I chose. The life I have is the life I always would have chosen. Even if it isn’t perfect. Even though it’s splendidly human.

Ultimately, they are dreams of healing. Resolving.

Sometimes I am whole and unhazy enough to see that this new little soul must have chosen me for a reason, and I chosen it. And that part of that preparation is cleaning out the decks of my body and spirit.

Sometimes I am grateful for the gentle washes of new wisdom that arrive at the shores of my soul.

About how I can accept the duality of this situation: that it is good and bad and awful and painful and enlightening all at once.

I don’t even know if this makes sense out of context, but these words from My Beloved World took my breath away with recognition:


Those things that are true at the same time.

The moments where I crouch on the shower, grovelling, searching for God beneath the cracks. Those few, glistening moments in the afternoon when my crystal sun catcher is flooded by a beam of light and cascades rainbows around my room. Feeling hopelessly alone, feeling deeply supported.

Everything is going to be okay.

So much love and gentleness,

P.S. If I can please make a request – if you have any healing suggestions, please don’t share them with me unless there is evidence that it cures hyperemesis gravidarum specifically. This isn’t traditional morning sickness. It’s a complicated and serious illness with little known cures. I understand you really want me to feel better. Me too, dearest. Thank you for your loving thoughts. xoxo