Seasonally inspired things to Learn, Make and Do

Journal

A Seasonal Way - the why

a seasonal way - spring

Many of you will know that I live with an auto-immune condition and that over the past decade or so I have discovered that by altering the way I live my life I can diminish the severity of my symptoms and thrive.

One of the weird things about having an auto-immune disease is that there are no external symptoms and on bad days I often worry that I have made it all up - I mean the test results prove that there is something actively, measurably wrong, that should be reassuring, but all the fogginess, the moodiness, the crushing fatigue - what if that is somehow all in my mind. Speaking to others with similar diagnoses I find that this is incredibly common. That voice in the head that goes "But what if you are just being lazy?".

My solution to this has been to read. To read a lot.

I am a researcher at heart - that is pretty much what 2 decades of my life were about, gathering and processing information as a historian - so I suppose it isn't surprising that I have chosen to spend the last ten years reading about breakthroughs in positive psychology and neuroscience, in nature medicine, herbalism, the history and folklore of plants, the science around creativity, foraging, soil microbes.

For a non scientist (a horticulture qualification was the nearest I got to anything sciency, I dropped everything else as soon as I could) I have an awful lot of scientific papers saved on my laptop.

a seasonal way - spring

If you get my newsletter and even more if you are a Studio Member, you will have been in on the journey, so much of this research is mind blowing, life altering and I feel it should be being shouted about from the tree tops much more than it is.

Over the holidays I sent out a newsletter about gorse - it was a shortened version of the nature notes that I have been sending out to members of Snapdragon Studio over the past couple of years - a mix of drawings, history, recipes and folklore.

I have never had such a response to an email - perhaps it was that people had time to act on it over the holidays, perhaps it was that it came at the darkest point of the year in the Northern hemisphere - I don't know, but I had tales from people of taking grandchildren up to smell the gorse on a golf course, memories of washing drying on gorse bushes in the Western Isles, recipes for ice-cream.

Most of all I got requests for more of the same.

a seasonal way - spring

So I suppose that is what A Seasonal Way is - it is more of the same, a slightly eccentric mix of nature, creativity, recipes, science, poetry and illustration - the contents of my brain and my current obsessions packaged up as 5 PDFs sent out over 2 months.

What it isn't is a curriculum or a 'to do' list - there isn't any homework, I actually hope that it will wind its way ninja style into people's lives and that they will find themselves looking out for ash twigs and dandelions, making rather than buying balms, confident in growing things. I hope that it works by osmosis.

There is a closed facebook group which will be open to everyone who buys the course and I'm really excited about seeing what the world is like outside people's front doors.

Because so much of the material is the kind of thing that Snapdragon Studio Members get - and some of it is re-edited from the Members' magazine - all Studio members are getting the entire thing as part of their membership. That makes it a great time to become a member! registration closes on 4th February and the first part will go out later that week.

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The packing bench in the studio.⁠⠀
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Sometimes I turn around and things just look so pretty together.⁠⠀
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Labelling pale pink socks with the plant they were dyed with and the date they went into the dye pot.⁠⠀
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The perfect almond glue for sticking paper, jute string for tying things up.⁠⠀
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Amazingly I didn't even have to tidy up to take a photo - though it is quite a tight crop and the background is a blur.⁠⠀
For the past year the bedroom windowsill has been neglected. It has had stones and bones and the blue speckled pot of bird food, but no flowers.⁠⠀
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I couldn't really work out why.⁠⠀
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Then, as soon as I got the urge to line up my vases again,I realised what the problem had been. ⁠⠀
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In March last year - as I was shielding and Euan is a front line worker - I moved to the spare room. ⁠⠀
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I was very, very bad at it - despite the room being very nice - and huffed and moped and felt I was being punished. I eventually slunk back to my own bed after two months. ⁠⠀
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The deal was that if Euan thought it was a risk he would phone from work and I would move my things back to the spare bedroom.⁠⠀
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I kept expecting - despite all the precautions, the scrubs, the showering - that I might have to go back. ⁠⠀
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Last week I had my second jab, the numbers look good, and, though Scotland is behind England in opening up, I can see the country beginning to relax. ⁠⠀
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It felt safer, I went and found a jug for the cherry blossom.
I began doing freehand embroidery when my daughters were tiny - a deliberate wiggle and flourish when hemming seemed preferable to my wobbly attempts at keeping the needle straight.⁠⠀
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Then, when I began to sew commercially to have some income in the winter months, it seems like the perfect technique.⁠⠀
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Getting the chance to exhibit at the Country Living Fair in 2005 got me speeded up and it certainly felt like my thousands of hours were put in then.⁠⠀
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Today I start teaching an e-course to Studio Club members which will hopefully enable them to begin drawing with they sewing machines.⁠⠀
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The module that will arrive with them today is all about machines and materials - with the message that the simpler the machine the better.⠀
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It gave me a chance to tidy my sewing desk.
Today is the last day to sign up as a member of the Studio Club.⁠⠀
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So if you are ready for more connection and creativity in your life . . . .⁠⠀
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If you could do with a bit of calm and gentle joyfulness . . . . ⁠⠀
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If you want to find out more about the living things around you . . . to slow down . . . to feel more 'at home' . . .⁠⠀
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Then head over to my website snapdragonlife.com to find out more.⁠⠀
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There is a 'Pay what you can' option -  it is always the most difficult to get people to sign up for, and yet I know if would be perfect for so many.
It has been a joy this week to see the bantam hens all out enjoying their freedom.⁠⠀
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It is the one point in the year when we have an abundance of eggs - they are late starters and then hide them all as soon as the weather warms up.⁠⠀
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I have been spending time sitting watching them peck around the orchard - feathers ruffled by the wind, heads down eyes trained for tasty morsels.⁠⠀
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I decided to make a hen embroidery the last part of the 'freehand machine embroidery' e-course that starts on Tuesday. ⁠⠀
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The aim is to break downtime the processor freehand embroidery into very simple steps - with a different exercise each week, building skills and confidence until you can draw with a sewing machine by week 5.⁠⠀
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The course is included in the Studio Club membership - if you want to take it live, week by week, you have 24 hours to join up.  Details on snapdragonlife.com
This week I have been drawn to white and bright and light.⁠⠀
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In the flowers I picked for the Studio Window.⁠⠀
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In the cool white Scottish linen I've been embroidering.⁠⠀
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It's a clean feeling, a throwing off - probably because I've been stuck with a dragging, draining fatigue for a few weeks.⁠⠀
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It's that wondrous clarity that you get when you realise that you can open your eyes wide again.
If I could persuade people of two things they would be . . .⁠⠀
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1. to seek alternatives for domestic cut flowers until their local field flowers are blooming (which is almost now here in Scotland ).⁠⠀
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and . . . ⁠⠀
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2. to pay attention to the daily changes where you live.⁠⠀
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These are snippets of hawthorn and hornbeam hedge arranged in test tubes - but they could also be in bottles or small vases and they could be any kind of deciduous tree or shrub. ⁠⠀
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Every day they emerge a little more, every hour they catch the light in a different way.  All week they have made me smile.⁠⠀
Last year I dumped a load of finished tulips from pots into a metal box, intending to plant them out in the garden.⁠⠀
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I completely forgot and all summer the box looked as through it was just a heap of used compost.⁠⠀
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Most days I walked past it - always intending to take it to the compost heap - until last month it began to sprout.⁠⠀
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This is some of the 'free' (if rather mangled) tulips from the box.⁠⠀
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I have replanted them into the old terracotta pots and propped up the wayward stems with bits of hedge.⁠⠀
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Then - I promise - I shall plant them out properly when the finish flowering this time.
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About Snapdragon Life

At Snapdragon Life I gently guide you through bringing the changing seasons into your daily life, helping you slow down, so that you can experience increased well being, calm and creativity.

 

Learn more about why here

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