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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

This is my current work in progress.⁠⠀
It will eventually be a big cabled throw - the silk I'm using is pretty chunky so it should be a fairly quick knit. ⁠⠀
The preparation will take longer though.  I wanted to make something for our home that is really connected to this place.  Something dyed with the plants that grow here.  Something slow.⁠⠀
The yarns in the photo were dyed in early September with plants from the garden - the yellow is dahlia flowers, the greyish green is dahlia leaves with some iron, the paler blue grey is woad (next year I shall grow more to get deeper colours). The linen cloths were dyed with avocado.⁠⠀
This afternoon I plan to cut some willow to soak for another hank.  I have 12 hanks and a wound ball in total.⁠⠀
I found the silk in a giant yarn stash that lives at my Mum's house, I can't remember where we got it but it would have been bought in the late 1980s when we led each other astray in yarn buying sprees.⁠⠀
Do you ever find echoes of your childhood home in your current one?  If so, do you find it a bit like realising that you've begun to sound exactly like your Mum?⁠⠀
I grew up in a house with a butler's pantry - it was a small corridor like room between the kitchen and the dining room.⁠⠀
One side of the room was all cupboards, where plates and cutlery were stored, the other side was one of those amazing curved metal 1950s English Rose sinks.⁠⠀
The butler was, of course, long gone. ⁠⠀
Last month we redecorated our own 'pantry' - a small room between the open plan kitchen and the bedrooms.  It is really more of a large alcove than a proper room, there are no windows and only 3 walls.  It was a squalid mess 90% of the time as people dumped things.⁠⠀
I decided that proper storage was the answer - we got the red dresser I posted last month, we relocated shelves and tables from elsewhere in the house and then we put up this antique glass fronted wall cabinet for the china and glass.⁠⠀
As I walked past this morning I recognised the feel - I had made a little C19th butler's pantry in my 1980s bungalow! ⁠⠀
I could, of course, do with the butler.
Small things that mean home.⁠⠀
What is the first thing you do when you get home from holiday?⁠⠀
On Sunday when we arrived back  from holiday I took my snips out to see what I could find in the frosted garden to put in a vase by the front door.⁠⠀
It's nothing fancy - some starry bright common asters, deep pink persicaria, scabious and dill - all set off with blousy Japanese anemones. But for me it is a beautiful distraction from the piles of laundry and unpacked cases.⁠⠀
The engraved glass plate is by @janeraven ⁠⠀
It’s the last day of our holiday - by lunchtime we will be back in the air and headed for London to catch up with our girls over dinner. 
For the past two weeks we have been staying high in the mountains, about half an hour from Split in Croatia, an area of stunning beauty - It is the end of season, the verges are baked to straw, the trees full of olives and pomegranates, paths are lined with a white flowered thyme. 
For me the fortnight has been a game of magic eye, squinting against the sun, suddenly spotting drifts of ‘love in a mist’ seedheads, the remains of white scabious, sweet scented clematis a few flowers on their second bloom, delphiniums, euphorbia, lambs ears and great spikes of campanula growing from the rocks. All wild, all natural, all in just the right place. 
It has been a wonderful break - and now I’m looking forward to getting home and making plans and getting everything out of my head and onto paper.
Yesterday, taking advantage of my calm, clear, well holidayed head, I wrote down a 3 year goal along with the 3 things I need to do consistently for it to happen and I emailed it to some friends who I know will root for me, keep me on track and cheer each time I get a step nearer. ⠀
Having lots of friends who I absolutely know will be happy for me when something goes well is a relatively new thing. In many ways I think friends for good times are more difficult to find than friends for bad. ⠀
Who are your cheerleaders? ⠀
Back in my previous life as a flower grower and wedding florist, this time of year was the most stressful. Economically it was essential, but the borrowed time, watching the garden slow down, waiting for a night cold enough to turn everything black was tense. ⠀
I rarely agreed to October weddings, but sometimes I was persuaded, because when they work they work so beautifully- the vulnerability of the flowers somehow glowing through. ⠀
This mug - officially Autumn meadow - is ‘Christine’s mug’ in my head. A mix of teasels and echinacea rebloom, some startlingly tall blue forget me nots on second flowering, and damp fennel seed heads, put together to decorate a tiny stone church 12 years ago. ⠀
The mug comes into the ‘we forgot to put it on the website’ category - that has been rectified now and you can get to it via the link in my profile.
It seems to be something that creeps up, tangling your feet, muddling your head- not all that noticeable until you begin to break through it. 
Or maybe it is visible there, as a shortness of breath, a tightening of shoulders, a fear of crowds. 
I am spending this weekend untangling my head by the sea in Croatia . Swimming and sitting still and decluttering my mind. 
And in the place of all the numbing fears and doubts, the undermining feelings that nothing makes a difference anyway, have slid in clear plans and steps and intentions. As if by magic. 
Do you ever feel overwhelmed?  What do you do to shake it off?
These are the kinds of dahlias that I'm going to be planting more of next year. ⁠⠀
They are described as blue (which is obviously not the case - oh those lying insta filters!), they are pretty useless as cut flowers, they get easily damaged in the rain.⁠⠀
But, oh how the bees LOVE them.⁠⠀
So, therefore, do I.⁠ ⠀
We begin our beekeeping course next month - making sure we have some good basic knowledge before the bees themselves arrive in the spring. ⠀
I’m very excited. Are you planning to learn anything new over the winter?

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