Seasonally inspired things to Learn, Make and Do

Journal

Overwhelm and the fruit harvest

dealing with overwhelm

This year has been so fruitful.

I cannot remember another year like it for the sheer scale of natural abundance.

The branches of the plum trees are trailing on the ground under the weight of their crop, the hedgerows surrounding us are gleaming darkly with bramble berries.

Even our feral apple trees, down by the wood, are looking like a properly productive orchard (albeit one you need to scythe through nettles to get to).

nature dealing with overwhelm

At the beginning of the season I swore that I would use up every last scrap of this natural bounty. I would pickle and preserve, I would dehydrate, I would freeze, bottle and put into alcohol.

Then - at the beginning of this week - I began to get overwhelmed. No matter how many plums I picked there still seemed to be more, my kitchen hummed with the buzz of the dehydrator, the oven, the slow cooker. My hands were permanently sticky from stoning fruit and everywhere there were mason jars and freezer bags of produce. How many crumbles can 2 people eat?

Then I realised how foolish I was being. I don't live a Pioneer Life, I am not from the pages of Little House on the Prairie - my survival does not hinge on whether I preserve enough vitamins to see us through the winter.

Preserving the fruit is something I do because I enjoy it - it connects me to the seasons. Visually I love the shelves of full jars, I love pouring a glass of blackcurrant gin in the middle of winter and remembering picking the fruit in the summer sunshine.

The whole point is that enjoyment.

Thinking about it earlier this week - wondering how I had let myself get overwhelmed by the idea of the harvest - I realised that I had been doing exactly the same with creative ideas in my business.

The change in season from summer to autumn always brings with it a rush of creative ideas for me. I can feel them bubbling up and then bashing against the sides of my brain in an attempt to get out. It is exciting, it is energising - that roll of wide eyed wonder as I think of future designs, new projects, interesting topics to explore. Faster, faster, faster . . .

And it so easily slips into overwhelm - the idea that there are too many things to do makes it difficult to even start any of them. The pleasure in the creativity slips into a panic.

nature dealing with overwhelm

So yesterday I stopped myself, sat myself down and here are the 3 things I am doing this week to reset my abundance meter.

1. Recognise the meaning of abundance.

Abundance isn't about 'being enough', it isn't just a few steps along from scarcity, it is way, way out on the other side. Abundance is a cornucopia. Abundance means that there are so many plums that it is safe to leave some for the birds, to select only the best. It means that there are so many ideas that I can give some away, and discard others as 'not for right now' without fear of running out. It means a generosity, a relaxation, an ease.

2. Write it all down and prioritise.

I looked at the size of my cupboard and the number of my jars and deciding that if I have five 2 litre jars for plums, what would I love them to be full of (it turned out that it was mi-cuit plums in rum and home dried prunes).

In exactly the same way I have 2 months of product planning left this year - of which I am working at home for 21 days. So - that is maybe 100 hours creative time. What do I want to fill that with?

3. Positively categorise everything that isn't going to be used.

This was the final important point. To take everything on my initial list and give it a home (even if that is home turns out to be in the bin).

What this did was take it all that 'waste' out of my mind, getting me out of overwhelm and giving my brain space for the projects on my priority list.

With the fruit this has been giving lots of it away - the team have been labouring up the hill from the workshop with bowls of plums and apples - and re-categorising the windfalls and slightly sub standard fruit as food for the birds.

With the ideas it has been shelving some in a 'some time' notebook and giving some away to people who I know will do a better job, and simply discarding others as they just aren't shiny enough.

What do you do when you begin to feel overwhelmed? Let me know in the comments.

nature dealing with overwhelm

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Yesterday I walked around a new local community garden that I am to be involved in.  I walked the site with Lauren @herbal_homestead (who looks after @katgoldin ‘s market garden at the Gartur Farm School) who is the permaculture consultant for the project.⁠⠀
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The words at the top of this post were the words that were tumbling about as we walked along the stream that edges the plot and discussed the contours and what the potential is for this new space.⁠⠀
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I have missed those words a lot.⁠⠀
Elderberry vinegar, a brilliant natural immunity booster and treatment for sore throats, is steeping in my cupboard at the moment - the colour is so vibrant it is obvious that it MUST be good for you.⁠⠀
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It is one of the things you learn to make in the Simple Herbal Apothecary course in the Studio Club. ⁠⠀
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It is really funny how having a Pay What You Can option for membership has made me feel that I can talk about what you get in the Studio Club without feeling all 'exclusive' (I hate that word because, when you think about it, it actually means that some people are excluded and that we are fine with that).⁠⠀
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The Pay What You Can option has been really popular - second only to the Full Membership - which makes me very happy. ⁠⠀
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I've had a lot of emails from people who had been looking at joining the Studio Club for a while but couldn't justify the cost - because unemployment or illness or caring for others restricts their budget - but who have now been able to join.  So if that sounds like you the details are all on the front page of the website - snapdragonlife.com.⁠⠀
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Time.⁠⠀
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Yesterday I asked a question about luxury and the thing that came up again and again in answers was 'time'.⁠⠀
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Time to just be.  Time to do things for ourselves. Time to be creative or read. Time to focus.⁠⠀
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It made me think - that if we see time is our greatest luxury, why do we squander it so?  I know I do.  I scroll.  I dither. I catch myself almost deliberately doing nonsensical things that waste time to the point that it completely disappears.⁠⠀
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Give me an unexpectedly free evening and my natural tendency is to waste half of it deciding what I want to do MOST.⁠⠀
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What is your idea of luxury?⁠⠀
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I stumbled across a discussion about luxury on a post the other day. It was about whether you could crave luxury in your life if you were also set in “overthrowing the capitalist systems our world is based on”.⠀
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In some ways it was hilarious, and shows what a muddle we get into, but It really made me think about what I count as luxuries in my life  They certainly aren’t what the commenters on the original post defined as luxury - the fancy sports car, the designer brand names, expensive toiletries. ⁠⠀
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Rather, my idea of luxuries are things I want in my everyday life.  Proper coffee, clean sheets for the weekend, tomatoes still warm from the sun - perhaps most importantly, the luxury of time to do nothing more than stare upwards through bright leaves . . .⁠⠀
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What about you?⁠ what are your luxuries?⠀
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Messy edges.⁠⠀
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Pretty much everything in the House Garden and Studio Meadow will stand until Spring now.⁠ I will leave it alone. ⠀
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For in my head I'm not really growing teasels, I'm growing gold finches. 
Yesterday, as I headed down through the meadow to light the studio stove, were dozens feeeling atop the teasel heads.
It is the time of the year to embrace the beauty in decay.⁠⠀
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To look at the soil regenerating.⁠⠀
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The appreciate the beauty of a good compost heap -even when it is composting the cosmos that you had hoped would bloom for a couple of more weeks.
Yesterday the doors of the Studio Club opened up to new members again. ⠀
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In less than 24 hours over half the Full Memberships sold out - so if you are thinking of signing up for one of those then I would do it sooner than later. ⠀
Nettles and docks and tansy and meadowsweet. ⁠⠀
Heather and willow and onion skins.⁠⠀
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The journey through plant colours this year is coming to fruition.  Out of frame is a striped jumper on my needles.⁠⠀
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I am hoping to have enough yarn to make something for a newly arrived baby - all the energy of the Scottish hills in something to wear.
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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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