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How I dealt with feeling I was going backwards.

Earlier this week I had a little bit of a wobble.

I am doing an outreach course with Kayte Ferris of Simple and Season and as part of that was exploring all the things that I could talk with authority about for an hour.

As I happily mind mapped away, filling my big sheet of paper, it became apparent that most of these topics were the exact things that I had written about 18 years ago. Slowing down, being more thoughtful about buying things, connecting to the seasons, making things, growing things - these were the very things I wrote about on my blog in 2003.

And more than that, they were things I wrote about on a bigger stage back then. My blog had a direct link from the Country Living Magazine website, hundreds of other bloggers linked to it, I was quoted in books and featured in newspapers and magazines from Country Living and Gardeners World to People's Friend and The Times. I was even on television as a foraging expert.

Looking at my map it seemed that I had managed to be further back than when I started out. It is all very well to write - as I do - about the joy of returning to the roots of the business but it is quite another thing to realise that you appear to be going backwards.

But of course that slipping back isn't the whole story. Those 15 years have been years of moving towards mastery rather than years of treading water. I may not have been writing in the press, I may not have had a well trafficked blog, I may not have been invited back onto tv, but I have quietly built my knowledge and honed my skills over that 15 years into something quite different than what they were.

Something with depth, something based on personal experience, not just reading. In that decade and a half I have changed jobs, built businesses, raised children, learned to cope with chronic illness. I have experimented with ways to keep my stress levels low and my energy higher.

Now I look back on what I wrote in my early 30s and it feels insubstantial - learned rather than experienced, a ripple rather than a cresting wave.

And of course this is why I joined Kayte's course - the 10 years I took away from the slow and simple side of my business were spent creating a big business which didn't require any marketing from me. There was no connecting, no back story, no mission.

But there was learning, and thinking and doing - and now as I swoop back round, curving under where I started the business back in 2002 I am gathering speed and I am ready to talk again.

What to do if you feel you are going backwards.

(Because I think this applies in many aspects of life, not just in business)

Look at why this has cropped up now.

Most of my worries about going backwards were actually to do with a feeling of running out of time and a comparing where I am with where I think other, younger women are. Comparison is never a good idea, but in this case I realised that I couldn't even tell which lap these other people were on. They could well have been me in 2003, still on the first run round the track.

Look for the things that you have learned.

It isn't possible to get through life without learning something, becoming better skilled, more empathetic, even suddenly realising the immensity of a particular topic and recognising how little you know. Write all these things down. The things that I understand and appreciate at 49 that I didn't have a clue about at 30 filled a whole notebook once I got started. Aside from the actual practical 'slow living' knowledge I had built up, I also had experience of building and working in a much faster, frenetic even, retail business which means that I have a much better idea of how busy most people's lives actually are. This might be a bit that a friend can help with - sometimes it is really difficult to spot our own skills.

Try to move through the feelings of scarcity.

Comparison, rushing, lack of confidence, panic - these for me were all symptoms of a feeling that there was only a certain amount of space and that I had squandered mine by not putting in more effort earlier. Looked at hard though that panicky feeling of having missed the boat was not to be trusted. There are boats along all the time, all headed in interesting directions.

Take action.

The only way to get over a feeling of going backwards is to actually start to move forwards - make a list of three simple things you can do today to kick start your project - whether that is starting a business, beginning a project or, like me, deciding to speak up a bit more.

Then do them.

The next stage of my outreach is to approach other people, blogs, magazines, newspapers, podcasts and so on - if you have any suggestions as to where my voice might best be heard please email me Jane@snapdragononline.co.uk.

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On Sunday night Euan turned to me and said “I don’t think we have ever made as much difference to the garden in such a short time.”⠀
⁣ He was right. In October we had brought in soil to make raised beds - turning the ground slick and slippery. All winter and Spring I looked at mud and worried about all the people that I had told that there would be a garden to see in May. ⠀
But then - dry weather, fierce cold winds and suddenly on Friday afternoon we could barrow and build and by Sunday night . . . There are the beginnings of a new productive garden - a mix of vegetables and flowers for cutting. ⠀
As usual Euan did all the heft and heavy stuff and I planted and staked and fluffed up mulch. ⠀
If you are coming along to A Seasonal Day on 8th May I am pleased to say that there will be a garden! ⠀
Sometimes projects come together really quickly - one of the best things about having a small making business is that you can go from idea to having something for sale in a single day. ⠀
🧶 ⠀
This was not one of those projects - I had the idea in our busy Christmas period, took away the samples to knit while travelling in Asia in February, and yet only put the kit up on the website yesterday. ⠀
I don't normally post many direct product shots here - but this one is special to me. I wanted to make a beginners’ knitting kit that allows people to knit something practical and quick - in this instance beautiful cotton face cloths and exfoliating cleansing wipes - and which felt substantial yet not daunting. My aim with everything is to make it easy for people to give things a go. ⠀
And I wanted it to look beautiful and be practical and all be packaged up in way that was part of the kit. ⠀
Everything came together earlier this week and I’m so pleased with how it looks, the squidgy cotton balls of yarn, the instruction cards and needles all in their own specially printed drawstring project bag. ⠀
I hope you like it too.
How do you like to learn? I used to be happiest just battering on by myself, making mistakes, googling. But increasingly I find I’m preferring to be shown things by someone who knows what they are doing, to have the space to ask questions, and then to go home and try everything on my own with the option to call if I get stuck. ⠀
I find my mind opened so much more by talking to other people - rather than beginning a project from my own limited viewpoint. ⠀
I had a great time yesterday learning E-magazine production with Eleanor from @creativecountryside and today I’m planning to practice everything by re-formatting the guide to getting the most from your cut flowers to send out with the next newsletter. ⠀
I also met up with @bob_sy - all arranged on an Instagram whim - and had a wonderful evening discussing kindness, connection and creativity. ⠀
Increasingly I love being able to move beyond typed words and have great rambling conversations. Is anyone else finding the same? ⠀
GIVEAWAY - Today I am getting the train down to Lancaster to meet Eleanor from @creativecountryside.  She is going to be showing me the ins and outs of making a magazine.⁣⠀
I have always loved the aesthetics of Creative Countryside magazine - the solidity of it, the surety - so when the chance came up to take a masterclass in how to put it together I jumped at the opportunity.⁣⠀
I love putting together the e-magazines for Studio Members and A Seasonal Way, but I am very aware that I am simply joining together PDFs.  I want to create something more magical, more meant.⁣⠀
My lesson is co-inciding with suddenly having fast WiFi at home - so uploading a magazine no longer requires a drive to Stirling to poach University WiFi.  This will change Everything!⁣⠀
This magazine is the first bumper edition of Creative Countryside, as it turns from a quarterly into a biannual publication. ⁣⠀
I am a contributor to this edition, as well as subscribing, so I have an extra copy which I would love to give away. ⁣⠀
Just comment here - and make sure you are following me - and we will pick a name at random next Tuesday.⁣⠀
(The knitting is the #comfortblanketkal by @louisetilbrookdesigns which shall be my train knitting)
I knew this greenhouse as a child. It had a grapevine then, and a lead dipping trough that was home to motherless ducklings. ⠀
There were long snakes of terracotta pots under the staging and I got to turn the cranks to open windows in the roof. ⠀
When it was abandoned and began to fall down we asked if we could take it and give it a new home - and now  it stands in our drive, the oldest thing here. ⠀
Euan rebuilt it all exactly - with a new base, but with everything else original.  It turned out to be a superior form of flat pack.⠀
This weekend I stood in the greenhouse, mid watering the seedlings that are crammed in tiers onto the staging and floor, and tried to link it back to when I was seven. ⠀
I couldn’t. Then is was an enormous space of dust and spiders and broken glass , of benches to climb on and a cold, dark trough of water we were to stay away from. ⠀
Now it is my garden in waiting. Waiting for May. ⠀
I did think I should maybe plant a grape vine though.
I photographed this heart of honeysuckle on the Isle of Bute last month - a random reminder that nature is at the heart of everything that I love.⁣⠀
Also last month, I spent a wonderful evening with my friend @hazey107 - and she told the story of why she had crossed the school playground to make friends with me 16 years ago.⁣⠀
Seemingly I was standing waiting for the P1s to come out, my toddler on my hip.  Her bright blonde hair was full of leaves and sticks, her bare feel black with soil.  Hazel immediately felt that, with such a feral looking child, I must be her kind of person.⁣⠀
We would have been travelling back from the field where I grew my flowers at that time, we hadn't yet found this house.⁣ I was probably worried about being the only scruffy Mum at the school gate. ⠀I never felt I did school gates very well. ⁣⠀
But hearing Hazel’s story I was so glad that I never mastered that
We are promised a dry and sunny weekend here in Stirlingshire. I have 3 days completely clear of commitments. The greenhouse is full of seedlings, the ground is dry enough to work. I have 4 tonnes of mulch in the drive. 🌱

I can barely contain my excitement. 🌱🌱 I’ve been awake since 5 (though obviously still in bed!) 🌱🌱🌱 What do you have planned for the weekend?
In February we visited Myanmar - to spend time with our younger daughter who is teaching there for a year. 
I loved the country and it has changed the way I look at many things. (1000s of feral dogs, yet no dog shit on the streets- what does that tell you about community?) On a more food based level I was just amazed by the salads and the way that plants that I would regard as ‘past it’ at home - like these mizuna gone to seed - or just not edible - like courgette leaves are used to create the most delicious and satisfying meals. 
I have written a blog with a recipe for a ‘greens’ salad with crispy shallots which is one of my favourite things to eat at the moment. You can get to it via the link in my profile. 
The other photos were taken at Nyaung Shaw market where we bought food before cooking it at the Bamboo Delight Cookery school (fantastic)

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