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Journal

What is a Snapdragon Life

Ever since I changed the name of the business I have had friends asking me 'So Jane, tell me, what exactly is a Snapdragon Life then?'.

And I talked about it to them using words like simplify and slowing down, and being in tune with the seasons - and even as I was talking I realised that these words have all become marketing - they are linked with a particular kind of shop, a specific style of instagram feed, they have lost their meaning.

So what I want to do here is to investigate exactly what I mean by these words, to give them back some of that original power.

So simplify. What do I mean by simplifying life? I don't mean tidying out your knicker drawer or putting together the perfect capsule wardrobe, great as these may be. I certainly don't mean buying a beautifully designed coffee pourer or aspiring to minimalism.

What I mean when I talk about simplifying is finding out what is enough and creating a life around that. Working out how much space, how much time, how much money, how many social engagements, how many friends, how many handbags - how much is enough for YOU.

I think this differs wildly person to person. Some people love the freedom and space of having few things around them, other people feel secure and cozy, surrounded by lots of meaningful objects.

But we exist in a society today that encourages us to strive continually for more; more things, more space, more money, more holidays, more Instagram likes. Without set parameters, without deliberately thinking 'is what I have already enough?, and if not, what would be?', we continue on the treadmill, never ever satisfied.

And enough may be much nearer than we think - we may even have too much. I used to feel that for me to be a proper businesswoman I needed to have a business that grew and grew and grew - but when I achieved that, when we hit my turnover targets, I found that it just wasn't what I wanted - that something smaller, more connected, more within my control was actually enough.

Slow Living. Slow living is a funny turn of phrase, very fashionable as a reaction to the hustle of life, but personally I always feel it sounds kind of dull.

I have a quick mind, I talk quickly, my ideas are jumpy and sparky and I want everything done as quickly as possible. I am incredibly impatient. The only thing slow about me is my running.

And yet I aspire to a slower life - my deliberate slowing down over the past ten years as I learned to manage illness, is absolutely what has allowed me to thrive.

For me the centre of slowing down is actually to do with being 'there', actually present, taking it all in. It is to do with eliminating the coasting, the multi tasking, the blank presenteeism that can so easily take over chunks of our lives.

Slow living for me is actually about taking a full part in my own life - from appreciating all the small actions that go into cooking a meal, to slowing my reading and actually concentrating on every sentence of a book, rather than galloping through.

Like that advice to slow down eating to allow your body to know when you are full, I think that deliberately experiencing things as they happen may make our lives seem fuller.

Being in tune with the seasons is vitally important to me and my mental wellbeing - I left a job mainly because I didn't see them - but sometimes it seems that advice on seasonal living is distilled down to a list of what is in bloom.

Now I love to eat seasonly - my heart races when I see the first leaves of wild garlic or the first smudge of bluebells in the woods - but that isn't why being in touch with changing seasons is important to me.

The point of seasons is that they change. We are particularly blessed in Scotland with 4 distinct seasons and dramatic changes in daylight hours. We rock from dark cold and stormy winters to what feel like endless days of summer.

The point is the cycle, the being in that cycle, the knowing that change isn't death but rather renewal.

It is recognising that there are seasons in all areas of life - in business, in relationships as much as in the natural world - and that working within them is much, much easier and productive than trying to fight the natural rhythm.

I have found this particularly useful in living with chronic disease - where energy ebbs and flows - to know when to rest and when to push through, to recognise that it is all part of a rhythm. To understand what is the best way of living to ensure that you get the most out of life

And it is that last sentence - a journey of finding and living our best lives - that I feel is at the core of my business. I believe that everybody has a responsibility to look after their own wellbeing and live their lives well.

I want to make that journey as easy and full of good things as possible, to share all the latest scientific research, alongside practical projects, kits, designs and seasonal writing.

Tags: life

Comments: 3 (Add)

Wee K on April 17 2019 at 11:22

Thank you for posting this Jane. A beautiful message and something for us all to ponder xx

Fiona Doubleday on April 19 2019 at 15:15

Hi Jane, if you haven’t already read it I would recommend Waverley Fitzgerald’s book Slow Time. Xx

Vanessa on April 20 2019 at 08:14

“Everybody has a responsibility to look after their own wellbeing and live their lives well”. This is what we should be teaching children, both at home and in school. Thanks for helping me appreciate nature’s role in doing so. Xx

Snapdragon social

I am a bit of a womble.  My Studio is a layering of things that have been found, things that have been saved, things that have been given to me - I like to be surrounded by a bit of history. ⁠⠀
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I am known as an avid skip diver so people kindly keep me things.  This weekend I am off to pick up 13 sash windows rescued from a skip.⁠⠀
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This is my dye cupboard - the mordants and other powders, the piles of fabrics and yarns, my newly started record book and the glue to paste the swatches in.⁠⠀
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It has had a hard life - the back is patched with hinges as plates, there are many, many layers of paint and a door has gone missing along the way.  It is perfect.⁠⠀
Back when I grew flowers commercially the area that is now ‘the orchardy bit’ was rows and rows of spring bulbs.⁠ In the years where the deer didn’t eat the tulips they looked magnificent, stripe upon stripe of pure pigment. ⠀
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When I turned my back on growing for money, we simply took out the beds and levelled it, turning it back to grass.⁠⠀
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The tulips quickly gave up - never brilliantly perennial here anyway, they took the opportunity to fade out fast.⁠ Well if you don’t want us . . . ⠀
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The narcissi loved it though and every year appeared back in their serried rows through the grass. ⁠There was something disturbingly grave like about them.
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My planting  ever since has all been an attempt to disguise that - feathering the edges, making little islands, trying to make it all look haphazard.⁠⠀
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Gradually it is working - this is the edge of what would have been a bed of Narcissi geranium (best vase life, along with best scent) - now happily interspersed with a pheasants eye and a little lemon coloured one I have lost the name of.
Abundance.⁠⠀
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And the hedges beginning to vibrate with that gloriously specific spring green.
This week has been about experimenting.⁠⠀
Experimenting with all the ways to dye with daffodils, experimenting with the new e-course part of my website, experimenting with shooting and editing videos on my phone.⁠⠀
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My business hero is @sethgodin and his mantra is 'ship it' - a way of saying that the best way to learn is to make things and get them out in front of people before they are polished and 'perfect'.⁠⠀
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So I took his advice and combined all three experiments. Today's newsletters will have links to a free e-course all about dyeing wool with daffodils.⁠⠀
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I have been absolutely amazed by the colour you get from faded daffodil flowers (see the second photo). It is a bright, yet somehow soft, golden yellow which is now adding an amazing zing to my pile of plant dyed fabrics.⁠⠀
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I am prone to obsessions.  My brain hones in on topics and rabbit holes away, a constant background chatter to my life.⁠⠀
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It annoys the people I live with as my world shrinks to one topic. ⠀
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My camera roll shows me it is three years ago this week that I returned to natural dyeing with plants, concentrating on using only the plants growing within a couple of miles.⁠⠀
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Three years of experimenting with plant after plant, three years of googling and reading obscure articles and piling up samples. ⁠three years of conversation about mordants and modifiers. ⠀
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Three years is a short time in such a slow craft. A blink of an eye. ⁠⠀
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But already I can see a difference in my skill.⁠⠀
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This is a corner of the cupboard where I stash my fabrics and yarns building up enough for a project.  These have all been dyed this year - with barks and cones. ⁠⠀
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This week I am dyeing with bright deadheaded daffodils and the golden yellows will join these soft terracottas and pinks while I dream up something to make.
I grow very few white flowers. ⁠⠀
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White summer flowers tend to mark in the rain - white roses look like discarded tissues, white dahlias spot brown.  Even cosmos purity - which I do grow - goes droopy and grey in a way that the coloured versions don't.⁠⠀
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The petals of spring bulbs however seem rain resistant - so I can indulge my love of white flowers and enjoy them backlit by the morning sun on the Studio window shelf.
Bright and light and pretty.
I am spending a lot of time in the greenhouse at the moment - playing an endless game of jenga with my seed trays.⁠⠀
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Many of the seedlings are for the community gardens - being planted out gradually under fleece. We are biding time, taking the cautious route so that we minimise the risk of everything being wiped out by a very cold night.⁠⠀
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We still have a full month of frosts to go here - little ones of -2 or 3 are manageable, an extra covering of fleece, some bricks to act like a storage heater.  Most hardy seedlings will recover from getting their tips nipped a bit.⁠⠀
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Last year though we had a really cold night in mid May, when growth was going well and sappily. It blasted the blossom and killed many of my hardy veg too. Slightly too late to resow.⁠⠀
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Speak to the older generation of gardeners and they all sowed and planted out much later than is the fashion today.  They perhaps had a point.
I wrote in my Friday letter this week about the sudden lifting of the uncertainty and inertia that had been dogging me for a few months.⁠⠀
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It's always easier to write about these things once they are resolved - do you find that?  Once I am unstuck and lolloping along happily again, I can look at it all and not get sucked down.⁠⠀
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Of course all this talk of getting going again, of new plans and exciting things . . . . it all actually means hard work. ⁠⠀
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Head down, working through an actual written plan kind of hard work.  Not always my natural strength.⁠⠀
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So yesterday I rearranged the studio window shelves and cleared the working table, ready for an uninterrupted start today. ⁠⠀
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An attempt to keep momentum.
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About Snapdragon Life

At Snapdragon Life I 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.

 

Learn more about why here

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