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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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Snapdragon social

Yesterday marked 32 years since Euan and my first date. I spent time looking through photo albums for a record of that time. There weren’t any photos - I don’t think I had a camera or the cash needed to develop photos back then - but there were a few pressed flowers. ⠀
I don’t know what they were from, I should have labelled them, but they obviously meant enough to keep. ⠀
This photo is of the little brass frame from our Flower Press kit that was the most recent Studio Box. We have a few left packed up and after that it will be repackaged as a more expensive gift version. ⠀
If you were thinking of buying one, either as a one off or as the start of a quarterly subscription you can find out more by clicking the link in my profile.
Poppies are really the best cut flowers. Especially if you are stuck inside and can watch them gradually open. All varieties work - from wild corn poppies to the flamboyant oriental poppies. ⠀
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Cut them in full bud, if you can see the petals just about to burst through that’s perfect. ⠀
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Sear the bottom inch of stem in boiling water for 5 seconds and then arrange. The lower stem will go black so best in an opaque vase. ⠀
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If you recut above the black line you need to re-sear. ⠀
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They should last 5 days. 5 days of wonder.
Yesterday was the first hot day, the first day in the garden when I didn’t feel that all my poor plants are shivering and shrinking. ⠀
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It was also the first day for weeks that I had completely clear, no plans, no work, nothing but time to potter and plant. Glorious. ⠀
What is your weekend like? ⠀
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(Today it is back to being windy but I don’t care as I’m also back at work, prepping everything so that we are ready to send out the magazine part of A Seasonal Way next week)
How do you manage different layers of privacy, vulnerability and messy beginnings online?  I was musing about this yesterday, all the different things I put out into the world - and how I choose where to post them. ⠀
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How I choose what to post here, what goes out in my general newsletter, what goes into my Studio Members Newsletter and what gets posted into my (free) closed Facebook Group Snapdragon Studio Bee. ⠀
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It’s all subtle stuff, the difference I suppose in what you would talk about in a live interview and what you would chat to the interviewer about later, off the record, over coffee. Both conversations are likely honest and true, but one might still be evolving and feel too unformed, too fragile for public consumption.⠀
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I’ve decided to document my beginnings with screen printing in the Snapdragon Studio Bee Facebook Group - it’s a really supportive group and I’ve no fear of judgment in there - if you want to join you would be really welcome. It’s thankfully not a competitive, ego driven group so I think I will feel very comfortable sharing the things that don’t work as well as those that do.
Yesterday was a stressful day.  Our big printer, which does all the textile things, keeled over with a fatal error.⠀
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Repair is seemingly not possible, replacement too expensive.  We had to take about 40% of the things we sell off various websites.  It's not ideal.⠀
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But after I'd got over the frustration of number crunching and having to cancel orders, it seemed like an opportunity really.⠀
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Val and I have been talking about screen printing since the beginning of the year - it is one of the reasons we cleared the workshop so that there is a long central working space.⠀
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I want to be able to draw directly on the screens - and play about with the technique a bit, make the results really immediate, sketched, mine.⠀
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I've ordered supplies and will be working away playing with the technique over the next week or so.⠀
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Sometimes it seems that when I don't move fast enough towards something, fate just seems to create mayhem until there are no other options left but to just ‘do it’. ⠀
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Does anyone else find that?
What is your favourite way to make a house a home? 
I'm not a tidy person - my natural persona is more like Thing 1 and Thing 2 in the Cat in the Hat, everywhere I have been, there is a trail of mess left behind. ⠀
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When I wanted to leave my job as a museum curator Euan said I could do anything I wanted to, he would always support my decision, as long as I didn't attempt to become a housewife because I would be truly terrible at it.⠀
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On Tuesdays though Izabella comes and cleans the house for us (this is why my embroidery morning is a Tuesday, so I can keep out of the way)⠀
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Walking back into the house on a Tuesday lunchtime is always such a lovely feeling - the kitchen is tidy, the floors mopped, order is restored.⠀
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I try to take advantage of the sense of homeliness by doing some of the things I am good at - arranging flowers, cooking.  Often I do so much of these faffing about domestic things that I have managed to make the kitchen a mess by the time anyone else gets home.⠀
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The plum poppies are blooming.  A week late, but here to say happy anniversary Jenny and Jeremy. #ayearinflowers #week24
How tidy are you? Do you like everything out and to hand or do you prefer clear surfaces and blank space?

It’s Tuesday today so that means my embroidery day as I build up a little collection of limited edition works which then go up into the webshop on the last Friday of each month. (Studio members get first dibs and then the link goes into my newsletter later in the day)

I took this photo yesterday afternoon of the bench that is next to my sewing machine. Untidied, un-arranged, but with rather nice light coming in the window. 
There is a half made doorstop, some piles of cut wool to be embroidered and the threads I like to have near at hand. You can see that the wall where I work used to have tiles on it, you can see that I’m neither neat nor organised. 
Showing my day - a 10 second photo, full of reality, potential, and life is what I meant when I talked about doing and Social media last week. 
#doingnotseeming
I welcomed the rain yesterday - it didn't seem so bad to be indoors proofing the final version of the A Seasonal Way magazine.⠀This goes alongside the e-course and community and is at the heart of the whole thing 🌱
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It goes to print tomorrow so I need to decide the final numbers today.  I'm not going to be able to print another run, but equally I don't want to be left with lots of copies.⠀
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So today is the last day to order to guarantee that your A Seasonal Way has a hard copy rather than a digital copy of the magazine part.⠀
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This article is about off grid holidays, why they appeal and what we get from them.  The mug in the background with coffee is by @amandabanhamceramics.⠀
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You can find out more about the A Seasonal Way course by clicking through my profile, or in the A Seasonal Way story highlight.  I would love it if you felt you could share about what I'm doing here!  The more people join in, the better the community will be.
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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

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