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Snapdragon blog

Raising your hand

landscape looking to killearn

It was primary three. Sitting in Mrs Taylor's class. A rabble of noise with a student teacher struggling to control the all the shouting out and waving hands as she asked questions about lemmings.

Mrs Taylor stepped in - quietened everyone with a look, told the enthusiastic answerers that they were all empty vessels making too much noise. She asked me, the only one with my hand down, to answer - and, when I did, she told everyone that they should be more like me. Quiet, diligent, waiting to be called on. Polite.

And so that die was cast, at the age of 7. The never, ever raising my hand. The working away, getting the work done, achieving but never volunteering. Never risking getting it wrong, never putting myself forward.

And I'm sure that there are masses of us, good girls, teachers' pets - still waiting on someone to pick us, to call us up to the front. Waiting.

Every year I re-read Tara Mohr's Playing Big - with its recognition that the skills that steer girls safely through school are the very ones that hamper them in the grown up world. Every re-read I see another way in which I choose to play small.

landscape looking to killearn

This holiday - with its chance for long walks and quiet time - made me realise that a tactic that (arguably) worked 43 years ago is way overdue an overhaul. For the past 30 years there has been no teacher, there has been no-one there to call me up to the board, no one to pick me out. Yet I have stayed in the back row, with my hand down. Waiting.

Last year I decided that it was a year for outreach, for contacting people to tell them what I do, to propose articles I could write, collaborations, to pitch projects to strangers. I really, really struggled. I pretty much just contacted my friends.

Even though I'm confident about what I know, what I design, what I'm creating I keep quiet. Even though I know that people want to hear what I have to say, that magazines have pages to fill and podcasters need interviewees, I pretty much failed to raise my hand.

I don't make New Year's Resolutions - the very making of them almost guarantees me rebelling against my good intentions - but this year I am making a promise to myself. I promise that I shall begin to raise my hand.

I'm not sure how it is going to work - I have a couple of friends who have promised to call me out if they see me loitering quietly at the back. I am working on a wall planner with people to contact and dates to contact them on. I am writing this to put the idea 'out there'.

I would love to hear your tips for how to raise your hand with grace and flair - please put them in the comments.

Comments: 3 (Add)

Nicky on January 3 2019 at 08:44

I guess I have felt much the same until last year when I asked the quilting community to help more with the project I coordinate making quilts for Siblings Together - I asked for help and was overwhelmed by offers from kind, caring, generous people. Not only did I get the help I needed but also huge affirmation that asking for help is the way to get it! Good luck with your hand raising and being in the room. Just try it and see what happens - good stuff is waiting for you I’m sure.

vanessa@thesimpsonsisters.co.uk on January 3 2019 at 12:51

I can very much identify with all this, but what it really make me think of was my first placement as a student nurse when I was heavily criticised by a fierce staff nurse for asking too many questions. On my following placement I was pulled up for not asking enough..... it left me feeling that staying under the radar was the way to feel safe. Sharing my life online has been a challenge, but the rewards are greater and I'm going to keep at it. Perhaps just a little less quietly and hopefully, like you, with grace and flair. x

Jenny on January 3 2019 at 15:22

Thankyou. From your Instagram post I wasn't sure what you meant by not putting your hand up. But your opening paragraph here I can totally relate too. I'm going to explore this a little further I think.

Snapdragon social

The allium embroideries went into the shop yesterday- a capsule collection you might say. 
It represents a month of my embroidering and is, I think, my favourite so far. 
I love the structures of alliums and they are a joy to embroider, all the delicate lines. 
There are still a few pieces available, a doorstop, a couple of cushions in each size - you can see them in the ‘what’s new’ part of the website (click through from my profile). Though I embroider every week, I change the theme each month and won’t be doing alliums again for a year.
Home. ⠀
What signifies coming home for you - a physical place, not a metaphorical one. ⠀
For me it is this curve in the road. The curve just before we turn into the drive. ⠀
Better still if the verge is full of cow parsley about to burst into fluffy bloom. ⠀
Even better still if the drive has a welcoming partly of cats in it. ⠀
Today I shall be taking life slow and planting out seedlings in the sunshine
Before we came away I wrote a blog post about how I got stuck in a loop designing the garden. 
A loop of wanting it to be meaningful and clever, to be original, to make use of all my research into the kinds of prairie plants that survive in our climate. 
It meant that we were several years without a garden - looking out onto a rubble or black landscape fabric and weeds- until I realised that what I like about gardening is the doing, the pottering, the seeing things grow and harvesting them. 
I don’t actually like having a garden just to look at. 
The blog post is now up on the website - and I think the lessons learned probably stretch a lot further than gardening. You can read it by clicking through my bio. 
I would love to know if anything similar has ever happened to you.
Venice is all about light. ⠀
It hasn’t exactly been the best weather while we have been here - a lot of the days have been wet, mainly showery, grey, at times torrential. ⠀
Everyone says that it is the worst May weather that they can remember. ⠀
But the light. ⠀
Somehow it glows through - a mother of pearl sheen behind the clouds, a soft benediction - and makes every corner you turn into a masterpiece. ⠀
Today we head to Verona for the day and are promised sunshine - but I honestly don’t believe that Venice could have been any more beautiful in the sun. ⠀
How much do you want to know about small business owners?⠀
It is something that I ponder about a lot. It’s a balance between oversharing and ‘just’ being a business on here. This Instagram account is officially a business one but there always seems to be a lot of me in it. ⠀
There is also the effect on the actual business to think about. For I am not the whole of Snapdragon. ⠀
For example - at the moment I’m on holiday for a few days, yesterday’s post made that clear and my Insta stories have been given over to Venetian scenes all weekend. ⠀
But the business continues as normal - this embroidered herb cushion went into the shop, Valerie is packing up the final boxes of this quarter’s Studio Box subscription, Fiona is making and dispatching orders. ⠀
When I went to Myanmar in February business went dead - with more orders and emails in the 24 hours after I got home than in the 3 weeks I was away. It is something I need to address. ⠀
So do you like to see what business owners/makers/designers/writers get up to in their time off? Or would you prefer social media was temporarily abandoned or handed onto someone back at base? ⠀
(As an aside this isn’t about working on holiday -as most business owners will recognise the integrated nature of a small business life means that stress doesn’t come from posting a photo with a coffee in the morning or making notes of a new idea or taking the time to read a great business book)
Today it is my 50th birthday. ⠀
I’m celebrating it in Venice, feeling happy, loved, incredibly lucky and very, very much looking forward to whatever the next decades bring. ⠀
Euan took this photo on the water bus  yesterday headed out to Torcello for lunch. ⠀
It is a portrait of a woman anticipating good things. ⠀
What flowers have you seen bees on this year?⠀
🐝 ⠀
I spent half an hour a couple of days ago sitting watching bees work themselves around the cirsiums - this is one of the first non bulb perennials to flower in our garden so particularly precious for insects⠀
🐝 ⠀
There were also masses working in the wallflowers next to it - and in the broccoli that we left to flower. ⠀
🐝 ⠀
Next year we will hopefully be getting a couple of hives to put down in under the apple trees behind the cabin - a beautifully sheltered spot. ⠀
🐝 ⠀
I grew up with hives - taking them up to the heather in the car - and now that I don’t need to protect a crop of flowers from pollination (for once a flower is fertilised it fades so can’t be sold), we are finally able to get our own. ⠀
I have 4 of these cloches. They were originally from the show stand that I made for the Country Living Fair In Glasgow in 2005. ⠀
The event that really started my business in many ways and certainly changed the way I thought about what I’m capable of. ⠀
The event that taught me that being small is an advantage, not a handicap. ⠀
Now they are covered in moss- an effect that would have looked amazing on that original stand. ⠀
It looks like another beautiful sunshiney day out there. I am getting ready to write my Friday newsletter which is all about designing the garden and not being too pretentious. X. If you aren’t on my list already you can sign up via my bio.

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