Seasonally inspired things to Learn, Make and Do

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

When I was at University it was the time of the Poll Tax, an unpopular tax made even more unpopular by being implemented in Scotland a year before the rest of the UK - 'Thatcher's guinea pigs'.⁠⠀
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It was a time of demonstration and violence with 50,000 marching in Glasgow, 1 million Scots refusing to pay. ⁠⠀
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It was a time Sheriff's Officers and poind sales of possessions. ⁠⠀
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Coalition student groups were formed - Socialist and Feminist and Anarchist and so on - there were big meetings in the Union, debates about a name and a logo and a manifesto. I remember lots of young, middle class, white men talked at length.  I remember that very, very little got done - a bus was organised to take students to Glasgow for the protests. ⁠⠀
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In the meantime, up the hill from the campus, three women (I thought of them as old at the time but I'm sure they were the age I am now) simply stood outside the auctions and asked nobody to attend.  They stood by the front doors, they explained their reasons, they prevailed.  They possibly looked randomly menacing in that way middle aged women can.⁠⠀
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People calmly bought back their possessions for 50p and their debts were squared. Action, meaningful results, a recognition that the personal is political - all while the student groups still debated their slogans.⁠⠀
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I've been thinking about those women a lot recently. If they were the age I think they were, they will be queuing up for their vaccines this month.
In my happy place.⁠⠀
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In the winter months The Studio is the centre of my working life. ⁠⠀
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This was yesterday.  Trimming pieces of vintage velvet fabric for the Studio Club shop; alpaca socks drying in the dispatch room behind me (we now have size 8-10 in stock too); a roll @scottishlinen seconds to experiment with hogging the cutting table.⁠⠀
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Bright and light and inspiring.
Starting the week with a photo from last year (simply because I lost a lot of this weekend to fatigue, so didn't take a new photo.)⁠⠀
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Budgie, my beautiful and psychotic cat, with a windowsill of white amaryllis. ⁠⠀
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Worth a second outing.
The proposed airstream conversion is in for planning permission approval at the moment, so that we change change its use from (neglected) artist's workshop into beautiful holiday accommodation.⁠⠀
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In my vision for this we get to use the paid holidaymaking element to subsidise some artist's residencies - painters, writers, musicians, makers coming here to soak up the landscape and be inspired.⁠⠀
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At the moment though I'm still at the stage of answering environmental health questions about quite how loud I am in my Studio and how we will light the path to the compost loo.
Yesterday my elder daughter, who lives in London, messaged me to say that our local DPD driver Slav was being given an award by @official.dpd.uk for his outstanding service. 

It was because of the hundreds of messages that they had been sent commenting on his helpfulness, incredible good cheer, and parcel based problem solving.⁠⠀

Slav has been an important part of my lockdown life here. ⁠⠀
When roads look like this, good delivery drivers are a vital (and hopefully appreciated) part of life.⁠⠀
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As my younger daughter chimed in “Go Slav!
This photo is from last week - but I see through the gloom that it has snowed overnight .⁠⠀
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This part of the garden is outside our bedroom, the beech hedge borders the road, it used to be a drive when our bedroom was a garage.⁠⠀
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Now it has a birch tree (symbolic for me of my miscarried babies, as I had to leave their actual birch trees behind when we moved here) surrounded by lots of box grown from small plants and cuttings.⁠⠀
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We buried Jasmine, my scruffy miniature schnauzer, here in the summer, so in some ways it is becoming a garden for sitting on the bench and remembering and watching the birds.  I shall ask my ever generous  friend Nadja for some snowdrops to plant in the grass.⁠⠀
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In my mind, eventually, the box balls will become like the ones on the front of @arnemaynardgardendesign book Garden Design Details - but this year they remain unclipped. ⁠⠀
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I suspect box blight in the back garden and @jekkamcvicar points out that unclipped box does not get blight.⁠⠀
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I love old gates - particularly old gates that stand in the middle of old unused spaces, leading to nowhere, keeping nothing in.⁠⠀
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A memory of another time.
Last year - while I was dyeing socks out on my Studio deck, I was also dyeing wool yarn. ⁠⠀
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Wool dyed with docks and nettle, gorse and meadowsweet, onions and plum bark all from the garden and lane.⁠⠀
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Over the winter I gathered the wool skeins together - all the soft bright colours - and knitted myself an oversized stripy jumper. ⁠⠀
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@rhiannonconnelly described it as wearing 'a hug from my garden' and I think she was spot on. ⁠⠀
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The pattern is the 'After the Rain' sweater by @heidikdesigns but with random stripes as I wasn't sure how much of each colour I had. #aftertherainsweater
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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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