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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

The bees aren’t enjoying this cold damp weather any more than I am. 
I keep finding them clinging to the leeward side of flowers - especially the big bulks of globe thistles, teasels and sea holly. 
They look like they are clinging on desperately to the rigging as the plants are buffeted about in the wind. 
What are you up to this weekend?
This is one of the photographs from a new course that I am writing at the moment about growing your own annual cut flowers.⁠⠀
It is a course based on my practical experience of growing flowers in a fairly tough climate, up a hill in the middle of Scotland.⁠⠀
It will be my first course written exclusively for members of Snapdragon Studio - membership costs £10 a month at the moment but for people joining after 18th September it will be £15 a month. ⁠⠀
The price increase is to reflect all the extra things that you get now in comparison to when I first launched the membership - I have been adding in exclusive e-courses, a hard copy magazine, a private community where you can ask advice and share expertise.⁠⠀
I am freezing the cost of membership for everyone who joins up by 17th September at £10 a month until the beginning of 2021 as a thank you for supporting me and allowing me the space to develop the membership.⁠⠀
If you want to join us - and it is a very good time to join as there are embroidered badges in the Welcome pack - you can find out more by clicking through my profile.
Are you a city break person or a lover of the open road? 
And what do you think of caravans? Are they a symbol of adventure or something slow moving you get stuck behind on the motorway? 
This mug, printed with my watercolours of vintage caravans (including my own, very stationary airstream) probably shows my own allegiances.  It is now up on the website, click through my profile to find it.
I am currently embracing the frou frou fun of dahlias - in much the same way as I do my Staffordshire cow with its tiny milk maid. 
I may even have found a dinner plate dahlia I like - indeed love. 
Fairway spur - pretty much the colour of Heinz tomato soup - it has a beautiful bursting out shape and longish stems. 
By longish I mean about a foot between flower and next big bud. Perfect to put on its own in a stoneware bottle. 
By a cow. In my office.
Did you all survive the weathery weather? 
One of my jobs today or tomorrow is to go and see if I can rescue the sweet peas. 
A couple of weeks ago they reached the top of the tunnels that divide the beds - 10 feet tall, way beyond my reach for tying in and I was relying on their tendrils keeping them up there. 
That worked for a while - but the winds over the weekend got under the sheets of flowers and whisked them off the grid. 
Fortunately I had picked some before they fell - a windowsill of candy colours.
Yesterday I took a duvet day. My first ever I think. 
I woke and I thought of all the things I had to do- Re-write a blogpost, write & send a newsletter, edit photos & write instructions for the Studio Box.
Then I rolled over and went back to sleep. 
I had a long bath, I took a nap, I went hunting antiques - I did no work. 
I have never done this before - I mean I’m a great bunker off, I truanted right through my 5th and 6th year at school - but it was productive truanting with a bag of history books and an essay on the go. 
I’d love to say it felt like self care and that I am full of energy today but sadly that isn’t the case! 
Maybe I need more practice. 
Are you a taker of duvet days?
‘Be canny with the sugar’

When I was in my final year at school I volunteered with the National Trust for Scotland - helping to put together educational packs which put objects into context. 
I worked on the sugar loaf - a paper wrapped cone of sugar in the kitchen. It was an unpicking of the history of wealthy C18th Edinburgh’s connections to slavery, the abolitionist boycott of cane sugar (the sugar cone was probably from sugar beet), the deathly triangle of slavery that relied on sugar to power it and which built so many of our elegant cities. 
I think of all that when I see this sugar bowl - a personalised sugar bowl for an aristocratic lady, a pretty large sugar bowl. 
And I wonder how much she thought about anybody who made her commodities, or if it was unknown, suspected but easily dismissed .  Or was she a trendy liberal, the feel good boycott, the buying of sugar beet, the washing of hands, the feeling of having done her bit. 
And yet - I type this out on my phone - aware that the chance that modern slavery powers it is high. The children in the Democratic Republic of Congo mining cobalt, others elsewhere mining elements I haven’t even heard of. The deliberate untraceability that Somehow allows us to turn away. 
Our technology, more ubiquitous even than sugar. 
I’m not really sure where I am going with this caption, it was going to be about sweet peas. 
Just probably to say awareness being the start and a googling after facts and ways to change. But only a start. 
The lowest estimate of the extent of modern slavery today is 20 million people.
Pineapple weed ice cream. 
There seems to be two camps in the foraging world at the moment. 
One evolves from back when found foods were an important everyday part of our diets - from wild spring greens to hedgerow brambles - the other from a very high end cheffy chasing of flavour. 
I am usually firmly in the first camp, with my basket of nettles and my billhook, but last week I took a little detour into weird flavour hunting and made Pineapple weed ice cream - from a type of very common wild chamomile that (kind of) tastes of pineapple. 
The recipe is on my blog and is delicious- you can get to it by clicking through my profile. 
What is the weirdest flavour ice cream you’ve ever eaten?

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