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Snapdragon blog

April Experiment - Quiet (summary)

So how did my April of quiet go? If you remember, for reasons I laid out HERE, I decided to go through April cutting out secondary noise from my life.

So no listening to podcasts while I walk, no music while cooking, no radio on in the greenhouse, no audiobooks in the car.

It was an interesting process - not least because I had not realised to quite what extent I had driven silence from my life. Gradually, over years, I had filled every corner with noise and would delay walks, frantically searching, if I couldn't find my headphones.

It was challenging time to do it too - in early April my Dad was in hospital (he is fine now) but there was a stressful week of long car journeys and nagging worry. I kept finding myself reaching for noise to keep me company, but in the end resisted.

I learned that I do not need an awful lot of that noise, that far from being enjoyable, educational or diverting, it was just an irritating distraction from the noise inside my head. It was not quelling the noise, it was simply shouting over the top of it.

A month of bringing more silence into my daily life has really helped with the amount of brain noise and its volume. It has given me space to think more deeply.

Did I miss the things I used to listen to? Not as much as I thought - there were some podcasts, some days when the mood enhancing company of loud music would have been good. But I didn't feel that I had missed much in the end.

Will I continue the experiment? In part I think I will. I am going to try and avoid multi tasking with noise, particularly with the spoken word. Where I do listen, I want it to be the primary thing - a podcast I particularly want to hear, a radio interview or album I want to listen to. I think that active listening while mindlessly knitting may be the way forward.

In May I shall be experimenting with walking the same path day after day - it will definitely be without headphones.

Comments: 4 (Add)

Gemma H on May 9 2019 at 10:40

Love this experiment Jane. I think I’m pretty good at avoiding noise because I genuinely quite enjoy silence. I have taken to putting a bird song CD on in the car (got it form the RSPB) because it’s recorded really well so you feel like you’re hearing the birds just outside. I find it pretty calming when I’m doing drive to work, the latter half of which is on busy city roads. I think we do have to be picky about the noises we bring in and I think it’s great that this experiment is going to make you more picky.

Catherine on May 9 2019 at 10:59

Really interesting. I find myself hating silence as I want to switch my mind off sometimes. I put the radio on a timer when I can’t sleep as it’s awful to feel tired but as soon as my head hits the pillow - boom - mind starts going into overdrive. I think a lot more about ‘being in the moment ‘ these days. More food for thought - thank you 😊

Maryan Ellis on May 10 2019 at 13:00

I get so much from each of your postings because they give bite-size advice and suggestions. I have noticed that after lunch I like to sit in my living room because the silence is such a tonic. Now I do this but sit by the window. Free of noise and distractions I have noticed all the baby bunnies in the field behind us, guarded by their mothers, playing in the sunshine. I swear they are knowingly playing leap-frog and jump over one another!

With a freed mind I write poems about this, or how peaceful I'm feeling. Maybe a sketch of a weed, or pick a few weeds and put them singly in jars or vases. Forget-me-nots look lovely all in a line with their own bottle.

Lesley (insta lilybabylulu) on May 15 2019 at 08:15

I love silence. I rarely listen to anything just to fill the silence. Quiet rules in my life. I can sort through my thoughts, adding items to a written list of things that need doing as I go about my daily tasks. I do however love ABBA blaring out whilst cleaning the house 😁

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A few years ago I grew lots of dark, deep, sumptuous flowers - it was purely fashion, the way that seeing things repeatedly works its way into your brain so that you begin to order lots of seeds with 'night' and 'black' and 'midnight' in their names.⁠⠀
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Navy, Burgundy, Royal Purple, I planted them all, thinking of a vibrant Persian carpet of plants, and then couldn't work out why my garden looked so blooming dull.⁠ ⁠⠀
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It was the sunflowers that made me see the error of my ways - their deep burgundy petals sinking into the surrounding green, invisible at dusk.⁠ ⠀
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Because everyone knows that sunflowers are meant to be yellow. ⁠⠀
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These ones are Vanilla Ice - pinched out to flower at waist height with lots of soft yellow blooms, a lovely cheerful thicket in front of the sweet peas.⁠⠀
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(I'm sure that many people will violently disagree with me, maybe it is the Scottish light . . . maybe it was my combinations or the lack of low sunshine through the main borders . . . but they never ever glowed from inside as I had hoped)
One of my aims in life is to encourage people to make things with their hands. 
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Simple things, simple skills - I believe that it helps us connect something in our brain that consuming electronically never will. 
This eco-beauty knitting kit is back in stock (click through profile). Everything you need to make facecloths and makeup wipes and teach yourself to knit along the way. 
If you already have cottons and needles then there is a pattern for a more complicated face cloth back in my blogs (search the tag eco making!).
One of the things that I’m gradually getting better at is planting the plants that actually want to grow here, rather than cajoling along ones that really would prefer to be growing in the south. ⠀
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The raised beds went into our productive garden in April - so really only a few months ago - and already it is full of blooms. All are hardy annuals, easy, beautiful, generous plants - sweet peas, calendula, ammi, cornflowers. ⠀
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Sometimes people are snobby about them - because they are simple to grow I think. ⠀
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I’ve written a blog post about how to keep them blooming all summer which you can get to via the link in my profile.
Did you see Gardeners World on Friday evening?  It was all about meadows - a whole hour of life affirming beauty, interesting people making a difference and encouragement to let the edges of your lawn grow wild. I loved it. 
One interesting thing was that there are seemingly 23 million gardens in the UK, many more than I had thought. So much potential. 
We are now planning to create a strip of annuals along the edge of the lawn, in front on the box hedge that bounds the productive garden. 
Anyway it inspired me to get out my old floristry things - these were the kinds of arrangements I did most when I arranged wedding flowers - lines of upright meadow flowers - though obviously they were in water (most often small plastic pots hid by mossy rocks or sods of long grass, high up on church windows.)
These particular flowers are now safely in bottles on my windowsill.
Yesterday morning, first thing, I took this photo of my bedroom windowsill, pale pink roses saved from the rain.⁠⠀
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Their colour made me think of instagrammer @andreacolvile and her love of beautiful pastel flowers.⁠⠀
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Over breakfast I heard of Andrea's death. ⁠⠀
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Andrea was such a light filled person, I loved chatting to her, she was so committed to capturing the beauty around her. ⁠⠀
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Her photographs of her children are joyous, her images of flowers exquisite, all her photographs instantly recognisable as hers.⁠⠀
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A Just Giving page has been set up in Andrea's memory to raise money for research into Liver Research - you can get to it via the link in Andrea's profile.
Are you a binge tidier or someone who manages to keep things looking habitable all the time?⁠⠀
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I am definitely the former.  I am the messiest person in our house and, as I work from home a lot at the moment, the whole place just slides and slides until I crack and tidy it all up.⁠⠀
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Yesterday I was putting together a how to blog post about making alternatives to kitchen towel - and it meant that I needed to set up somewhere for the clean cloths to stay and the dirty cloths to be put and suddenly it was clear that the kitchen was full of things that shouldn't be there.⁠⠀
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So I tidied it up and in that calm moment, in that half half hour or so before the guddle began to build up again, I wished I was naturally neat.⁠⠀
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I'll press publish on the blog post next week assuming that my prototypes stand up to the job!
I lay in bed early this morning listening to the rain. We have French doors in our bedroom and at night they are usually open so that the animals can come and go without waking us up. ⠀
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I could smell the roses, the scent gently drifting in - not these roses which are in the productive garden, but a pink David Austin rose.  A rose that sulked for years that it wasn’t growing in a Sussex garden and then decided last year just to get on with it and bloom. ⠀
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This week is a week of taking things easy, designing new things, working out plans for the next six months, pottering, making rose lip balm. ⠀
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At one point it would have been our busiest week of the year - up early and in the workshop at 7, making hundreds of teachers thank you gifts. ⠀
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I think I prefer just having time to smell the roses. Especially because I have always believed that the best gift from a child is one they have made.
Plastic free shopping is something that many of us are striving for.  I’m really encouraged by how many plastic free options are beginning to appear - we have one coming locally which will be amazing. ⠀
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Produce bags have been the product that I have been asked most for (by miles) this year. ⠀
I’m not convinced that we should really see #zerowaste as an opportunity to buy more pretty stuff though. ⠀
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Instead I’ve put together a step by step tutorial in how to hand sew your own produce bags from recycled fabrics- a perfect gentle activity for in front of the tv. ⠀
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You can click through to it via the link in my profile. ⠀
And then you just need to remember to take them with you when you go shopping. ⠀
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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.

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