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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 😁

Snapdragon social

The hazel tree on the back lawn was the only tree when we moved here 16 years ago. 
Over the summer, when Euan was repairing the shed floor, he found thousands and thousands of empty hazel nuts under it, all neatly gnawed open by tiny, tiny teeth. 
Imagine those field mouse parties, the hazelnuts held up between tiny paws.

We tend to just pick the easy to reach nuts, tonight I’ll make a carrot and green hazelnut salad and I shall feel nicely smug at eating from the garden! 
I’ll leave the windfalls for the mice and the high ups for the red squirrels. They were here before us. 
Hazel trees fruit at a fairly young age. The ones we planted as tiny whips in the hedge 10 years ago are fruiting this year and I’m sure they would have been faster if they hadn’t been growing in long grass, part of a deliberately neglected wild area. 
I’ll put the recipe up on stories later.
When I was on holiday last month I messaged a number of close friends with a three point 'priority list' that I wanted them to hold me to. ⁠⠀
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It read-⁠⠀
1. Simplify things so that people actually know what the Studio Membership is.⁠⠀
2. Make amazing things for my members.⁠⠀
3. Talk about what I do to lots of people in lots of ways.⁠⠀
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The point was for the to stop me doing other things as a distraction from my main job, a job that is feeling more and more important, helping people being more small joyful things into their lives.⁠⠀
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I've been working on 1 and 2 since getting home - the website now has 1/4 of the categories that it had, the link to the membership is now actually on the home page, I've been finalising new products and working on next month's members e-course (about how to wrap beautiful natural seasonal inspired gifts without the Pinterest fuss).⁠⠀
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The third - the talking - is always a struggle for me and I suspect it may always be. There is too much conditioning there, too much being a nicely quiet, head down, work hard, Scottish girl at heart. ⁠⠀
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But I am trying hard . . . . and have resolved too email some people this afternoon and tell them what I do.⁠⠀
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I love bracken at this fleeting time of year - the burst of bright gold before it blends back into the forest floor. ⁠⠀
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An unusual photo for me perhaps but over in the Snapdragon Studio Bee we have been having a really interesting and honest conversation about what people look for when they are buying things - whether it is eco packaging or organic contents or everything made in the UK.⁠⠀
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It was such an interesting topic that it made me realise that I have really not done enough to show the thought and reasoning behind all the things in our products.  I think I felt it was a bit eco-smug at the time. ⠀
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Anyway . . . I have begun with the calendula balm kit and you can see the result above - making a flat lay of all the contents and a key as to what everything is, where it comes from and whether it can be recycled.⁠⠀
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If you want to join the Facebook group it is completely free and open to all - just google Snapdragon Studio Bee and let me know what makes you smile.⁠⠀
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And the balm kit now has all its info in place and you can see it on the website www.snapdragonlife.com
Natural dyeing.⁠⠀
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I think that the most amazing thing about my little foray into natural dyeing is how adding a modifier, in this case a little bit of rust, can transform a colour.⁠⠀
⁠⠀ Both of these were dyed in the same pot.  I chopped up willow leaves and bark and soaked them in water for two days, before simmering for an hour and leaving to steep overnight. ⁠⠀
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I then removed the willow and simmered my 2 hanks of silk yarn for an hour and let the liquid cool.  One hank was removed - which is the gorgeous pale pink - and I added some rusty metal to the pot and watched the silk turn dark grey as though by magic.⁠⠀
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Natural dyeing has been something that I have meaning to try at home ever since I went on a course with @debbiethedyer years and years ago.  I'm so glad that I actually thought to make it into a little project and actually put it in my diary this year.
Since I got back from holiday the bottles on my bedroom windowsill have been empty.⁠⠀
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They looked pretty - like an art installation - but also sad.  There was so little left in the garden that it felt a shame to pick it and turn all views from the house into a sludge of frosted stems.⁠⠀
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Yesterday I decided enough was enough - that there must be some small things that I could pick and Dixie and I went for a walk along the road with a pair of secateurs.⁠⠀
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This was the result - a windowsill that Euan claims is overstuffed! - berries and leaves and seed heads all tucked under the long grass.⁠⠀
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It was a lesson in remembering to venture out and look.  What have you seen recently?
Sometimes it takes a long time to see things clearly, to actually see what it is that is the heart of what you want to do with that ‘one wild and precious life’. I finally feel I’m getting there and I’m tagging a whole bunch of amazing people who have helped me figure it out and winnow it down over the past couple of years.
Who else is dreaming of planting spring bulbs at the moment? 
I can’t think of another activity that sums up that Audrey Hepburn quote “to plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow” - the tucking up of smooth bulbs in the cold ground, the watching for shoots in spring. It feels miraculous. 
This month’s Studio Members e-course is about Spring bulbs, how to choose, how to plant, what I have learned here over the decades. 
It has been lovely hearing about what people are planting and why.
Overwhelm - I wrote a blog this week about how I fell prey to overwhelm and what I did to get over it - you can read it by clicking through my profile.⁠⠀
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I had actually always thought of myself as someone who didn't get overwhelmed, who had so many tactics in place to stay present, stay slow, stay engaged and take action.⁠⠀
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I thought I was immune to getting caught up, tangled up in overwhelm.⁠⠀
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Until that wasn't the case and I ended up weeping at the sheer difficulty of everything.  All I wanted was someone to breeze in and do all my adulting for me.⁠⠀
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It was a lesson in not taking things for granted and to stop and take stock more often.  To avoid drama, to sit still, to do meaningful things.⁠⠀
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I'd love to know your tips, in a comment here on on the blog, or as a direct message.⁠⠀
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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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