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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