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Snapdragon blog

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.

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

On Sunday night Euan turned to me and said “I don’t think we have ever made as much difference to the garden in such a short time.”⠀
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⁣ He was right. In October we had brought in soil to make raised beds - turning the ground slick and slippery. All winter and Spring I looked at mud and worried about all the people that I had told that there would be a garden to see in May. ⠀
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But then - dry weather, fierce cold winds and suddenly on Friday afternoon we could barrow and build and by Sunday night . . . There are the beginnings of a new productive garden - a mix of vegetables and flowers for cutting. ⠀
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As usual Euan did all the heft and heavy stuff and I planted and staked and fluffed up mulch. ⠀
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If you are coming along to A Seasonal Day on 8th May I am pleased to say that there will be a garden! ⠀
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Sometimes projects come together really quickly - one of the best things about having a small making business is that you can go from idea to having something for sale in a single day. ⠀
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This was not one of those projects - I had the idea in our busy Christmas period, took away the samples to knit while travelling in Asia in February, and yet only put the kit up on the website yesterday. ⠀
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I don't normally post many direct product shots here - but this one is special to me. I wanted to make a beginners’ knitting kit that allows people to knit something practical and quick - in this instance beautiful cotton face cloths and exfoliating cleansing wipes - and which felt substantial yet not daunting. My aim with everything is to make it easy for people to give things a go. ⠀
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And I wanted it to look beautiful and be practical and all be packaged up in way that was part of the kit. ⠀
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Everything came together earlier this week and I’m so pleased with how it looks, the squidgy cotton balls of yarn, the instruction cards and needles all in their own specially printed drawstring project bag. ⠀
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I hope you like it too.
How do you like to learn? I used to be happiest just battering on by myself, making mistakes, googling. But increasingly I find I’m preferring to be shown things by someone who knows what they are doing, to have the space to ask questions, and then to go home and try everything on my own with the option to call if I get stuck. ⠀
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I find my mind opened so much more by talking to other people - rather than beginning a project from my own limited viewpoint. ⠀
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I had a great time yesterday learning E-magazine production with Eleanor from @creativecountryside and today I’m planning to practice everything by re-formatting the guide to getting the most from your cut flowers to send out with the next newsletter. ⠀
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I also met up with @bob_sy - all arranged on an Instagram whim - and had a wonderful evening discussing kindness, connection and creativity. ⠀
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Increasingly I love being able to move beyond typed words and have great rambling conversations. Is anyone else finding the same? ⠀
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GIVEAWAY - Today I am getting the train down to Lancaster to meet Eleanor from @creativecountryside.  She is going to be showing me the ins and outs of making a magazine.⁣⠀
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I have always loved the aesthetics of Creative Countryside magazine - the solidity of it, the surety - so when the chance came up to take a masterclass in how to put it together I jumped at the opportunity.⁣⠀
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I love putting together the e-magazines for Studio Members and A Seasonal Way, but I am very aware that I am simply joining together PDFs.  I want to create something more magical, more meant.⁣⠀
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My lesson is co-inciding with suddenly having fast WiFi at home - so uploading a magazine no longer requires a drive to Stirling to poach University WiFi.  This will change Everything!⁣⠀
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This magazine is the first bumper edition of Creative Countryside, as it turns from a quarterly into a biannual publication. ⁣⠀
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I am a contributor to this edition, as well as subscribing, so I have an extra copy which I would love to give away. ⁣⠀
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Just comment here - and make sure you are following me - and we will pick a name at random next Tuesday.⁣⠀
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(The knitting is the #comfortblanketkal by @louisetilbrookdesigns which shall be my train knitting)
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I knew this greenhouse as a child. It had a grapevine then, and a lead dipping trough that was home to motherless ducklings. ⠀
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There were long snakes of terracotta pots under the staging and I got to turn the cranks to open windows in the roof. ⠀
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When it was abandoned and began to fall down we asked if we could take it and give it a new home - and now  it stands in our drive, the oldest thing here. ⠀
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Euan rebuilt it all exactly - with a new base, but with everything else original.  It turned out to be a superior form of flat pack.⠀
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This weekend I stood in the greenhouse, mid watering the seedlings that are crammed in tiers onto the staging and floor, and tried to link it back to when I was seven. ⠀
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I couldn’t. Then is was an enormous space of dust and spiders and broken glass , of benches to climb on and a cold, dark trough of water we were to stay away from. ⠀
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Now it is my garden in waiting. Waiting for May. ⠀
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I did think I should maybe plant a grape vine though.
I photographed this heart of honeysuckle on the Isle of Bute last month - a random reminder that nature is at the heart of everything that I love.⁣⠀
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Also last month, I spent a wonderful evening with my friend @hazey107 - and she told the story of why she had crossed the school playground to make friends with me 16 years ago.⁣⠀
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Seemingly I was standing waiting for the P1s to come out, my toddler on my hip.  Her bright blonde hair was full of leaves and sticks, her bare feel black with soil.  Hazel immediately felt that, with such a feral looking child, I must be her kind of person.⁣⠀
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We would have been travelling back from the field where I grew my flowers at that time, we hadn't yet found this house.⁣ I was probably worried about being the only scruffy Mum at the school gate. ⠀I never felt I did school gates very well. ⁣⠀
But hearing Hazel’s story I was so glad that I never mastered that
We are promised a dry and sunny weekend here in Stirlingshire. I have 3 days completely clear of commitments. The greenhouse is full of seedlings, the ground is dry enough to work. I have 4 tonnes of mulch in the drive. 🌱

I can barely contain my excitement. 🌱🌱 I’ve been awake since 5 (though obviously still in bed!) 🌱🌱🌱 What do you have planned for the weekend?
In February we visited Myanmar - to spend time with our younger daughter who is teaching there for a year. 
I loved the country and it has changed the way I look at many things. (1000s of feral dogs, yet no dog shit on the streets- what does that tell you about community?) On a more food based level I was just amazed by the salads and the way that plants that I would regard as ‘past it’ at home - like these mizuna gone to seed - or just not edible - like courgette leaves are used to create the most delicious and satisfying meals. 
I have written a blog with a recipe for a ‘greens’ salad with crispy shallots which is one of my favourite things to eat at the moment. You can get to it via the link in my profile. 
The other photos were taken at Nyaung Shaw market where we bought food before cooking it at the Bamboo Delight Cookery school (fantastic)
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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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