Our lead time is 2-3 working days at the moment

Snapdragon blog

In search of the simple life

in search of the simple life

I have been mulling over the term 'Simple Life' a lot this week - trying to pry apart the layers of what I mean by it, trying to work out what exactly it is that draws me to the idea of simple, why I feel driven to simplify.

As I wrote in this blog post, I think that a lot of it is about deciding what is 'enough' in my life so that I can get off that conveyor belt of striving. I think though, that it divides into different sections.

1. Stuff

A brave place to start perhaps for someone who makes a living running what is in part an online shop - but I am not a natural shopper.

I really don't like the dissatisfaction that is often the pre-cursor of consumerism, the anxiety over whether I made the right choice, the come down when the 'new' wears off.

I grew up in a family antique business and, in contrast to everyone else in the family, I hated the stress and adrenaline of auction sales - the wanting something, the research, the bidding and the (often) losing out.

I am, it seems, without the shopping buzz - and part of simplifying my life is looking at how, what and when I buy.

My home is pretty full so I am trialling having a 'one in one out' system - even for those cookery books. Not decluttering per se, but a deliberate stand against re-cluttering.

I have taken the option for single click shopping off my phone and I now add books to a wishlist until I have read the ones I already have. When I found myself attempting to buy a book I already had I decided it had got out of hand.

What this seems to be doing is to take that 'scarcity' anxiety element away from shopping - it can wait, I need to choose a sacrificial thing to get rid of, I can buy it later, I'll think on this. I will see whether I already have enough.

Of course this is exactly what retail tries to stop us doing as shoppers - all those flash sales, the last minute discounts, the absolute final chance - they are simply there to make us feel we need things and that we risk missing out, we risk not having enough.

I'm trying to eliminate this from this website as best I can - some things are limited editions because I can only make so many, but we are now corralling them into monthly updates so hopefully there will be less of a 'buy now or you will miss out' vibe about it. And as these will be every four weeks there will always be another chance.

The notification of an update is in the Friday newsletters, Studio Members get an email first, and then it goes 2 hours later to my general newsletter.

2. Time

In my experience time is a slippery thing. My ability to let time drain away is legendary - my favourite procrastination technique is thousands of tiny, unimportant jobs that prevent me from doing the actual thing that I want to do, need to do, will benefit from.

And yet, when I focus, when I actually get down to it - I can achieve far more than I think I can in a set time.

My approach to simplifying my schedule to create free time is twofold. Firstly it's saying no - no to all the social and business engagements that I don't want to go to, no to getting involved in other people's drama, no to energy vampires.

It is trying to say no to social media (so hard - I am getting better at having a post dinner curfew now).

Secondly it is scheduling tasks - something that I rolled my eyes at for years, because . . . you know . . . I am a creative . . . I need to feel the creative spark!

So Monday is sorting the week, outreach, writing my next A Seasonal Day e-course; Tuesday embroidering and product planning, Wednesdays team meetings and product photography; Thursdays writing my newsletters and this blog, Fridays gardening, designing and all the good things.

And it has made such a difference.

Apart from knowing what I'm meant to be doing each day, it has really helped with saying no to all those time sucks previously outlined - because when you see my schedule . . . it is clear that I am actually really, really busy already!

3. Aspirations

This one is really close to my heart. I used to think that to be a proper business woman, to prove myself, I needed to grow my business bigger and bigger. From kitchen table and farm gate to workshop, from craft fairs to 10,000 orders and a Royal Mail pick up, from just me and my cats to a proper workforce.

Then, when I got there, when I ticked off all the goals on my list, I found that I had been chasing something just to chase it. It was the Wizard of Oz - with apologies to Gertrude Stein - "there was no there there"

And a bit part of my moving towards a simpler life is getting rid of all aspirations that are to do with bigger . . . more . . . higher - Seth Godin, the slow marketing guru, talks about finding your 'minimum viable audience', the smallest size of audience that will allow your business to thrive. And actually that isn't that many people - about double the number of members that we have now - but perfectly doable and certainly not something that would need hustle or compromises.

Snapdragon Life, as it stands now - and with all the plans in the pipeline for the next 6 months - is much smaller, more connected, more feel good than the larger, old style business ever was. And I love it so much more.

4. The wider world

Rolling news, social media reaction, drama, polarisation of opinions - it has all made me feel very overwhelmed over the last year - there is so much want and sorrow, so many natural disasters and injustices that I felt myself being pulled and pushed so fast in so many directions that everything I tried to do to help was too little, too fragmented, too token.

I decided to radically simplify the political and world issues that I respond to - perhaps heartless, but I believe way more effective.

My personal interests are in funding creative education for young people, supporting female entrepreneurs in developing countries, and campaigning against enviromental destruction - especially through the reducing the use of single use plastic.

It isn't that I don't care about all the thousands of other issues out there, it is just that I can't keep up and I really want to make a difference with action, rather than end up just virtue signalling with an instagram reshare.

I am hoping that this allows me to feel less overwhelmed, more effective, more informed and to actually be useful in my activism.

It is all an ongoing process, I would love to know what you are doing or have done to simplify your life, what worked, what didn't?

Tags: slowlife

Comments: 1 (Add)

_callie_ben on April 27 2019 at 14:35

This is something I find myself reflecting on in my life too. It’s very much about having the courage to stand on your own values and not worry about being counter-cultural. Yes to scheduling and saying no and focussing on what resonates with you personally in trying to make a difference. The great thing about blog and Instagram posts like yours is that you realise you’re not alone and we can all support each other in doing things differently.

Snapdragon social

I spent a lot of the weekend in the studio - sorting more, painting more, gently transforming it into what will be a light-filled  creative space. ⁠⠀
⁠⠀
Part of that is getting all my fabrics out of the boxes in the shed/garage/attic where they were banished while the space was a production workshop.⁠⠀
⁠⠀ I was wondering whether you would be interested in seeing it as a work in progress, in all its unfinished mess? ⁠⠀
⁠⠀
Or whether you like to just see the pretty finished, tidied, end result?
A couple of years ago at a festival, I was chatting to someone about food and he told me that his family had recently decided to eat meat only at weekends. 
It seemed such a sensible solution, so civilised and doable - to move from the tokenism of ‘meat free Mondays’ to tip the balance the other way. 
Since then that’s pretty much what we’ve done too. 
As my personal meat consumption has gone down the opportunities to  buy carefully reared local meat direct from the farmer have increased and now, as well as an excellent local butcher in Drymen, we can buy beef from our immediate neighbours @duncan.family.farms, slow reared pork from Craigievern farm across the road.  I get amazing hogget from my friend Sarah @mogwaii_design who sends it by Royal Mail from Lismore and goat from my friend @katgoldin in Port of Menteith. 
I say hello to this bull most days as we walk past - he usually stares back for a few seconds and then returns to gazing out over the hills, part of the landscape.
Do you have a favourite door, or is it just me? ⁠⠀
⁠⠀
I see this door most days - it is on a neighbour's disused barn, the door from the barnyard out onto the farm road.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
It seems perfect to me - just enough weathering, just the right colour.  It always makes me smile as I pass.⁠⠀
There is a weather warning out for the weekend - gales and rain are forecast. ⠀
⠀
Today I will be doing 2 things. ⠀
⠀
I shall be bringing some snowdrops into the house to appreciate them in the dry. ⠀
⠀
I shall be taking a flask of soup⠀
On a long walk at lunchtime. ⠀
⠀
What are you doing today?
Simplicity is what I'm craving this week - how about you?⁠⠀
⁠⠀
I feel like that springy pause on the ball of a foot before jumping.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
Green glass and white flowers in low spring light.
Do you remember the flower fairies? Cicely Mary Barker’s floral figures, each with a poem?  The snowdrop one was called Fair Maids of February. 
My Mum was very into the flower fairies, a bathroom was wallpapered with them, the painted walls hung with decorated flower fairy plates. For a lot of my childhood she was working on a cross stitch of the ‘bramble fairy’. Decades later I saw a beautiful blotchy lithograph in a friend’s kitchen - also called Fair Maids of February- by the early C20th artist Lily Blatherwick which I found via google images last night. 
At the moment my snowdrops certainly look more like her hail blasted ones than the demure fairy.
What do you have planned for February? ⠀
⠀
I said at the beginning of the year that February was going to be my January this year. I knew by then that January was going to be an emotional month, a cluttered month, a bit brain foggy as I tried to work my way through shrinking Snapdragon down to its core. ⠀
⠀
And I was right. I’m typing this sitting in a hotel bed in London after an amazingly restorative couple of days with Euan and my girls, listening to music, meeting friends, seeing art and eating so, so well. It took me right away from all the stuff in my head. ⠀
⠀
Sitting here with my coffee, I am completely clear headed and can exactly see where I’m going. And it is exciting. It is very exciting. ⠀
⠀
The photo is of my reclaimed machine embroidery threads newly sorted into old wooden seed trays - for years they had been jumbled and tangled into random boxes unusable, unseen. ⠀
⠀
⠀
⠀
⠀
This weekend I head down to London - to see my girls and to watch the inspirational @marychapincarpenter sing at The Cadogan hall.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
On our hall wall we have written in big block letters her words - 'Why Walk When You Can Fly?'. ⁠⠀
⁠⠀
It is what I see as I head out for the day. ⠀
⠀
The word I have chosen for the year is 'Soar'. ⁠This morning things feel scary but also as though they are coming together in some way. ⁠⠀
It has been a weird month, it has been a weird year if I'm honest. My ears are ringing. ⁠⠀
⁠⠀
Things changed a bit at work yesterday and now I am back to being a Company of One.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
I am cool with that. I'm refusing to see it as a diminishing.  I feel that I'm doing my best work ever - bigger is rarely best. ⠀
⠀
Snapdragon Life continues - just with fewer coffee cups on the rack.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
I wrote about the story of Snapdragon for a newsletter that goes out this morning and now I'm packing up my train snacks, walking the dog and am headed off to spend time with the people I love best in the world.⁠⠀
⁠⠀
(you can also catch a lot of the story in an episode of @me_and_orla's Hashtag Authentic podcast that was broadcast last year)⁠⠀
snapdragon.life
FacebookTwitterPinterest

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

Loading