Seasonally inspired things to Make, Learn & Do.


Take it easy - slowing down from overwhelm.


Last month, in that fuzzy period between Christmas and New Year, I worked through Susannah Conway's course to choose a word to guide me through 2018.

I have done it before and find it a low drama way of guiding the feel of a year. It sounds faintly ridiculous to think that picking a word will change the way you live, but I have found that to be true.

Perhaps dazzled by the fairy lights around me I chose shining words - light and bright and luminesce. A feeling of stepping up and being me, a bright visibility, a bubble of joy.

Over the past month however, these words began to feel wrong - the lightness felt brittle, the shining just another thing to do.

So I revisited the exercise.

Almost immediately I found the word Ease.

It felt like a relaxing, the relief of your own bed at the end of a journey.

A recognition that I probably worked too hard in 2017.

So in 2018, it seems, I shall not be shining, I shall be taking it easy.

Good to know.

I have always been a swot. The fact that I can still vividly remember the time I got a row, in primary 5, for not doing all my homework is typical of my personality.

Even in 6th year, when I truanted a lot, I was taking myself and my history books to a local cafe and writing essays.

My self worth comes from getting the work done.

Domestically I am lazy as lazy can be, my bed is my favourite place, I am lax and infuriating to live with.

At work though - well that is a fury of taking on more and more and more tasks in an attempt to prove that I am working very, very hard.

If I am working long hours then no-one can say I am not doing my best - can they?

In 2017 sales from a couple of our main outlets nosedived, and I was faced with the reality of having to step up and actually let people know that we exist outside marketplaces.

It seemed that to do this I needed to learn about many thing - search engine optimisation, Facebook ads, retargeting ads, influencers, hashtags, optimum posting times, colours, sizes, clicks and algorithms . . . my lists took up pages and pages of my notebook.

Every day there seemed to be something extra added to my 'learn about' list - press releases, video live, meta-tags, alt-tags - and dozens more bookmarked instructional videos.

Walking the dogs, reading in bed, sitting with my family - my mind churned with confusion at all the things I was meant to be mastering and I became less and less 'there', more and more distracted.

And this is why, I think, my brain rejected 'Light' in favour of 'Ease'. It needs me to move away from all the shiny 'things to do' and relax into the things I feel comfortable with.

To do the things that feel easy - writing, designing, chatting, showing up - and to ignore the things that are just more work.

I still have to let people know what we do - particularly to help them understand what the Snapdragon Studio Membership is about - but I hope to be able to do that in ways that are easier for me. I hope to be able to become less overwhelmed.

I hope to be able to ask existing customers and members for help in spreading the word.

And in the meantime I have installed an app on my computer which temporarily stops all access to the pinging groups, emails, and forums with their shiny 'must figure outs'.

Hopefully this will let me get on with the kind of work which I find flows more naturally, and life in 2018 will be easy!

Tags: life

Comments: 1 (Add)

Kathy on January 26 2018 at 13:03

Jane, well done! For identifying the very thing you need to do to ease your world! I to must do this. My self worth is more important that the committee or multiple committees I help out on.
My girls find me out when they need me to be home! So my 2018 looks somewhat similar I need to ease outside controls and develop inside family time to help ease my families life in the only way a mum can... by being present.
So Thankyou for being honest and for your retrospection....
I to like your word Ease.

Snapdragon social

Between the plum trees and the studio is a sloping space that was created when we flattened a patch of land to build. It is a mix of subsoil, rocks and odd seams of rich pasture land. ⠀
As grass began to grow there about 7 years ago,  I sowed a perennial meadow mix, I planted lots of random plants from the cutting beds, I worked without a plan, without knowing what would thrive and what would gently vanish. ⠀
Now there is minimal gardening involvement - I try and keep the nettles from taking over, we dig out brambles - and in the autumn and winter I lure the chickens there to scratch out patches of bare soil for the wildflower seeds. ⠀
It’s a patchy space, caught on the cusp of abandonment - but it is the most beautiful space in the garden, buzzing with insects, rustling with birds. ⠀
Low light, bright petals, setting sun. ⠀
A couple of days ago I got a message from a friend asking what I thought about all the 'picking wild flowers' photos on here and the fact that a country style magazine was promoting it as a
My Gran had hangers like these.  Knitted from odds and ends of wool, hanging softly squashed together in the big dark wardrobe in her bedroom.⁠⠀
My cousin and I would take the fancy silky 1960s dresses from them and transform ourselves into glamorous detectives, spying on passers-by from behind the net curtains, making notes.⁠⠀
Now the hangers are my favourite things to make from wool scraps - each takes 37 grams of wool and you only need to be able to do a plain stitch to make it. ⁠⠀
As well as being chock full of nostalgia for me, they are also the most practical kind of hanger, as the garter stitch keeps even the flimsiest of straps in place so clothes don’t end up on the floor.
This week's business improvement was deciding to make the postcards that go in with orders more useful, getting Kate Stockwell to turn them into activity cards for me. ⁠⠀
This is the first, going out with orders from today.⁠⠀
I’m always amazed at how many plants from sunnier climes take to the garden. ⠀
Sicilian honey garlic - Nectaroscordum siculum - is one of the plants that grow in rows in the orchard - ghosts of the flower field, buzzing with bees, happy in grass, a strong whiff of onion as I pass. ⠀
This month I’ve been experimenting with solar dyeing- using plants and sunlight and a jar to dye wool on the windowsill. 
I was amazed at what bright shades were possible and at how easy and self contained it turned out to be. 
It was part of the Studio Membership mini “Introduction to plant dyes” course but I’ve also put together a kit in the shop with full instructions and everything you need to get started with solar dyeing wool (there are mini skeins in the kit). The photo is my drying rack on the dye deck - part of the studio where I used to prep flowers when I sold them. 
The wood rack used to be for shoes and wellies.
Inspired by @josephinepbrooks I’m still using this time for some serious decluttering of my business - looking hard at which parts have descended over the years into one of those drawers stuffed full of things.  Which bits are muddled, useless, impossible to open without everything falling out. 
Last week was the turn of the blog - so many out of date things, so many broken links, pretty much impossible to browse. 
Now it’s been sorted out - David and @fuzzyjill at Fuzzy Lime helped me divide it into sections and now it’s all easily accessible from the navigation bar.

So if you are looking for tutorials, nature notes, gardening, recipes or musings on life you can find them without scrolling through hundreds of pages. 
And - as always seems to happen when you  declutter - I’m suddenly full of ideas for things to write about, so that I can fit them nicely into my new space! 
The poppies are from Friday’s blog about how they make wonderful cut flowers.
Another week. Another new morning 
I was chatting to a friend yesterday about what was the best thing about running my own business - and I decided that it was probably being excited about each day and all the things I want to do. ⠀
That I now rarely need to force myself. ⠀

Today it’s finishing off this week’s Studio Members lesson about solar dyeing and putting together these activity postcards which I am getting printed to go out with orders. ⠀
What are you looking forward to doing today?

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