Seasonally inspired things to Learn, Make and Do

Journal

Create your magical 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).

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The sun room table, an old enamel basin, hazel twigs and pure glamour from green tinged white trumpets.⁠⠀
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I looked up yesterday lunchtime and the garden was full of sunshine. ⁠⠀
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There are a few places in the (very messy) house where keeping a bit of negative space, clear surfaces, a sense of breathing out pays off.  This white table is one of them.⁠⠀
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I took this on Sunday, disappointingly it is currently cluttered up with things (a nest, two candles, a box of matches, some receipts) to take down to the Studio.
Over the past year I have become increasingly uncomfortable about how we talk about the seasons to the point that I feel I need to say something.⁠⠀
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I'm particularly uncomfortable about how we talk about using the seasons as a life guide.  I can understand why this has happened - it is great, easily understood marketing, it is a ready built structure, I'm sure it helps the people who are desperately in need of rules and timetables at the moment.⁠⠀
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But it is rooted in a very particular idea of what seasons look like - particularly the 4 defined seasons of the UK, Europe and North America;⁠⠀
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Which would be fine if people were talking about their local area, the view from their window.  But that doesn't seem to be the case - this seasonal structure is built up into a programme to follow, the language is very much that 'this is the correct way to think about life'.⁠⠀
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But, if you are saying that the dormant season is the time to rest and recuperate, what does that say about countries where the seasons don't look like that.  Is there to be no rest? Is everyone to adopt the seasons in the UK as the 'correct' version? ⁠⠀
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Language matters, because language is where our assumptions lie.⁠⠀
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⁠The photo is of a rose hip - rose hips are the only berries left in the hedges now.  I used to think that it was because they tasted spiky that the birds left them till there were no other options but recently I found that they have the least calories.  The ivy, rowan and hawthorns produce the Kendal mint cake of berries - perfect for seeing the birds through the cold - so get eaten first.⁠⠀
There is a lot of talk at the moment about what 'seasonal flowers' means - the wonderful @wolveslaneflowercompany have been addressing the issue and they have a great story thread exploring the issue saved in their highlights.⁠⠀
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It was a thing that used to bother me a lot when I grew flowers because I only ever sold flowers that grew here, that was the whole point of the business - and in Scotland seasons are very late. I spent a lot of time explaining to brides that not everything is available at every time of the year. ⁠⠀
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I didn't ever have cut flowers until April.  I missed both Valentines and Mother's Day. ⁠⠀
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This is what I have as flowers in my home through January and February - glamorous, long lasting, amaryllis bulbs are on every surface. ⁠⠀
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Elsewhere cut hazel twigs in jam jars are taking over the windowsills. next week I may add in some snowdrops.
Yesterday I sent out a newsletter about extractivism - about the human tendency to push and exploit and keep extracting until we end up with a husk.⁠⠀
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It was sparked by conversations I had after the Oxford Real Farming Conference and a realisation that there is a thread that ties colonialism, industrial farming, privatisation of services and the way we often treat ourselves.⁠⠀
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I've been having such interesting conversations with the people who replied.⁠⠀
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I resend my newsletters to new subscribers on Sundays so if you want to sign up you can click through my profile to the website front page.⁠⠀
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We have been frozen here for a while - the top inch of ground thawed yesterday, but under that was rock hard.  Most of the garden is a low flood of slush floating on ice.⁠⠀
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The hardy annual plants I sowed in late September and transplanted in October are currently under snow but looking pretty terminal.  The temperature in the polytunnel went down to -6 last week and the salad crops turned to mush.⁠⠀
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Were I remotely self sufficient it would be proving a hard winter.⁠⠀
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But I'm not, so I just add more plants to my sowing plan - sowing seeds is my favourite thing - and admire the beauty of the hoar frost, and feel happy that I have food in the store cupboard and logs in the woodpile and a big pile of books by me.
'See a pin and pick it up and all the day you'll have good luck'.⁠⠀
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I have been embroidering a tiny run of linen needle/pin cases to go into the shop tomorrow - and I have embroidered this rhyme inside them - a reminder of the time when pins were made by hand and were to be treasured and looked after. ⁠⠀
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It gives a new appreciation to the term 'pin money' too - the modern kinds of pins, shiny in their plastic box that have made us assume that the term meant a small amount, left over change for fripperies. ⁠⠀
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In reality it was used as an alternative name for a household allowance - the amount of which was often laid out in the marriage contract - and was the money that a woman had complete legal control over. If it was unpaid a woman could sue her husband or his estate for back pay.
Allium Chistophii are rolling around under the espalier apple trees in the vegetable patch. ⠀
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I always hope for a little light self seeding as they go. ⠀
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Now they are like glittery tumbleweeds in the frost. ⠀
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In truth we bought the airstream to avoid a divorce.⁠⠀
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We bought it on Ebay late at night after sharing a bottle of wine.⁠⠀
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At the time I was running a business from the house - from a house that was about half the size it is now, a jumble of tiny rooms, painted plywood floors, two small children and a high level of sticky chaos.⁠⠀
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I am not a tidy enough person to run a business in a home - even had it been a well run home with storage space - and those years were not remotely well run.  My invoices always had cereal stuck to them, my sewing machine was parked at the end of the dining table, 90% of my working time seemed to be spent looking for something that I was sure had been left 'just there'.⁠⠀
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So we looked for something that we could afford so I could move the business out of the house - we priced up a chalet style home office from B & Q - and then, on Ebay, we saw the airstream, badly damaged, vandalised, forlorn.  It came in cheaper than the shoffice . . . .⁠⠀
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For a few years - before I built the Studio - this was my workspace and since then it has become a storage area and been sadly neglected while I tried to save the money to repair the damaged back window and the sagging floor.⁠⠀
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This weekend we began clearing out all the fabric that was stored in it so that the renovation can begin.  I am very excited.
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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.

 

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