Seasonally inspired things to Make, Learn & 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

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. ⠀
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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. ⠀
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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. ⠀
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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. ⠀
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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.⁠⠀
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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.⁠⠀
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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. ⁠⠀
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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.
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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. ⁠⠀
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This is the first, going out with orders from today.⁠⠀
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I’m always amazed at how many plants from sunnier climes take to the garden. ⠀
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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. ⠀
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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. ⠀
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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. ⠀
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What are you looking forward to doing today?
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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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