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Create your dream life a little bit at a time

My friend Deb recently told me that she had given up on doing anything for herself. She pointed to a bag of craft supplies on the kitchen sideboard.

About a year before, enthusiastic for a new craft project, she had bought all the things she needed to make a felt dog decoration for her Christmas tree. She had put them on her sideboard, waiting for an opportunity to get started. Here we were a year later and that opportunity had not arrived, the bag was still on the sideboard waiting. She begged me to take it away and find someone with more time.

A year. My friend had not found the hour to herself she needed to make the little dog decoration in a year.

Now I appreciate she is a busy woman, she has two teenage sons, she has a part time job, she has a dog and a husband and parents. But an hour to herself? In a year?

This obviously wasn't anything to do with lack of time - it was to do with priorities and always waiting for time to be left for herself at the end of the week.

Nobody ever has time left at the end of the week. Nobody has ever had time left at the end of the week. Do not wait for the time at the end of the week.

For it is these small things - things that we do just for us, or with our families and friends - that bring joy to our lives. The time to make something, to play the piano, to go for a run, to eat ice cream - to sit on a window seat and simply read and read and read. The things that are especially important when life gets busy. They are the things that make us human.

It is these small things that get forgotten because we are always waiting for time to just appear, because they are at the bottom of our mental list.

A while ago, realising that I was doing exactly this, I came up with a new way of planning my time.

It is a simple way of planning my weeks that has brought many more joyful things into daily life. I shared it in the A Seasonal Way magazine earlier this year. In the article I showed how it was possible to plan a summer where you get to do more fun things, all those things that you always intend to but never quite get around to.

Of all the articles in the magazine this was the one that I got most feedback about, most messages, most emails - with people telling me about the things that they had been doing, things that they had been intending to do for years but somehow never got around to. It seemed that I was onto something, that this was a simple technique that could help people plan with themselves in mind.

And what was even more interesting is that lots of people told me that once they had begun to add things into their lives, other opportunities came along as if by magic.

One woman who really wanted a garden began with planting pea shoots in a pot by her door, a month later - just as she began to harvest the shoots - a neighbour offered her part of his garden to grow in as it was getting to be a chore for him.

Another, who loves the sea but lives a couple of hours drive away, began to schedule in a weekend day trip once a month. Recently she was asked by a friend of a friend if she would house sit with her family over half term - a beautiful seafront home for a week.

It seemed that something was going on. Could it be The Law of Abundance, a magical thinking where the Universe brings you more of what you focus on? Could it be (more likely to my scientific brain) that people bring their own luck by beginning something? The tending of the pea shoots made the neighbour realise that there was a potential solution to their own overgrown garden, the photos on Facebook of the day trips to the beach reminded the friend of someone looking for a house sitter . . .

Whatever the means, whether it happens by creating your own luck or by signalling to the Universe, intentionally doing more small things appeared to be changing something for people.

I have expanded the original planning diagram into 4 part PDF which you can get when you sign up for my Newsletter. (if you are already on the email list then the PDF is in the Newsletter Library at the bottom of every email I send).

I am currently working on making the idea into a hard copy planner for Studio Members, so if you have any feedback I would love to hear it.

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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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