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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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What do you do to break your routine? ⠀
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Yesterday, instead of eating lunch at my desk, I packed up soup and some bread into a backpack and headed outside.⁠⠀
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I'm sharing my favourite seasonal soup recipe in this week's newsletter - you can sign up via the link in bio or at www.snapdragonlife.com.⁠⠀
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The bread is a @katgoldin recipe (she is having an instagram bake along this weekend if you fancy making your own) and the instructions for making the beeswax wrap are on my blog.
I grew up by this sea. Perfect for introspective teenage walks, head down into the wind. 
We went for our New Year stay with my parents this weekend - beach walks, lots of dogs and extended family time. No time for introspection.
I spent yesterday afternoon at the kitchen table sorting out my boxes of vegetable seeds.⁠⠀
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Dividing them into types and sowing seasons, seeing what I have enough of (17 varieties of kale is probably enough) and what has run out. ⁠⠀
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Then I spent some time browsing through catalogues to see what new (to me) things I can try - I'm keen to try growing celery this year as it is often difficult to find organic celery in the shops and the non organic has the highest chemical input of any vegetable.⁠⠀
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Are you growing vegetables this year? Is there anything new on your list?
And suddenly it is time to get the house back to normal - I'm gradually putting obviously Christmassy things away, rearranging the bulbs, making the 'tidy spots' in the house look cared for.⁠⠀
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It was so lovely to see people signing up as Studio Members yesterday and to welcome them into the Facebook Group where this month we are talking about Dream Planning (my anti-planning system) and the way the subconscious brain can help or hinder you.⁠⠀
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This photo of Budgie, my psychopathic middle cat, was taken last January - just after she had knocked pots out of the way to clear some proper bird watching space.⁠⠀
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Yesterday morning, while the cats slept on the bed, there were 18 birds in the hedge waiting their turn to feed from the window feeder.
Happy New Year.⁠⠀
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What are you wanting to bring into your life this year? ⁠⠀
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I'm actually very anti-resolutions, my character is not good with anything structured (off the scale rebel on @gretchenrubin’s test) I also want my life to be more than ticking things off a to-do list and as soon as one exists I rebel and procrastinate. ⁠⠀
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If I write a formal plan you can be pretty sure that I will do nothing on it. If I make a resolution something drives me to go the opposite way.⁠⠀
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That is why I do something much gentler - no workbooks, lists or plans -  but it is also something which I believe is much more powerful. I call it the Dream Life Planner and it is based on guiding the subconscious brain to support rather than sabotage you. It is a simple way to make big changes in the way you live. ⁠⠀
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You can get the basic modules by signing up to my newsletter or - if you want something more guided and detailed, with more of the science behind it, sign up to Snapdragon Studio Membership and you will get weekly e-mails throughout January. The next 4 people to sign up to Membership get a hard copy monthly planner too. You can find out more by clicking through my bio or visiting www.snapdragonlife.com
Happy Hogmanay.⁠⠀
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Christmas only officially became a holiday in Scotland in 1958. Before that, for 400 years, it had been a day like any other. ⁠⠀
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Here it has always been more about the gathering with friends and neighbours to see the New Year in. ⁠⠀
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Tonight we have Open House, everyone is welcome - just come on in if you are passing, there is plenty food and drink. (DM me for the address if you don't have it.)⁠⠀
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I think that it may be because Hogmanay is the main thing for me that all my decorations are light and bright, pale metallics and sprouting bulbs. This is the window seat by the stove.
Yesterday we walked from Drymen over the Conic to have lunch at the Oak Tree Inn in Balmaha.⁠⠀
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Katie took this as we headed over the brow of the hill and onto the downward part. I was looking out over Loch Lomond, with that magnificent winter sunshine on the water, congratulating myself that I was going to make it after all. (I am really not at all fit at the moment).⁠⠀
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I mentioned a couple of posts back that I was thinking of going off line for a bit over the festive season - I have noticed that tugging panicked feeling when I haven't my phone in my hand increasing, and the way seeing someone on their phone drives me to pick up mine, and even worse the repetitive scrolling when I actually want to be reading a proper book. ⁠⠀
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So I'm going to switch my phone off until 30th. ⁠⠀
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I only say this because last year a friend - also a bit of a social media addict - did this unannounced and, after a week, I was so concerned that I was on the point of texting her husband to see if she was ill/imprisoned/dead.
Today I’m going to decorate the house - plant the amaryllis in glass vases, put up the fairy lights, hang the big mercury glass baubles in the window, get the paper white narcissi our from the cool of the guest room. 
For some reason it hasn’t felt right until today, but now it feels like a family Christmas can begin. 
I’m much more of a Hogmanay person so I suspect that I’m actually decorating for the new year. 
And then I’m going to close everything down, put on the auto responders, sit with a gin and crisps by the stove and celebrate the gradual returning of the light.
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About Snapdragon

At Snapdragon we 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.

Through our communities, both free and paid for, through Jane's writing on the blog, through carefully hand crafted gifts and activity kits, and through our online and in-person workshops we aim to bring people back in touch with the rhythms of a seasonal life.

Learn more about why here

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