Monday, 12 January 2015

The Spark: a mother's story of nurturing genius by Kristine Barnett

The Spark is the true story of Kristine Barnett's battle to stop her son Jacob, who was diagnosed with autism, from disappearing totally into his own world .  Find the book here at Amazon.

Kristine Barnett's son Jacob has an IQ higher than Einstein and a photographic memory. At nine he developed an original theory in astrophysics that may earn a Nobel Prize. But Jake's story is all the more remarkable because his extraordinary mind was almost lost to autism.
When the experts wanted to restrict his behaviour - staring at shadows on the wall, stars, patterns - Jake withdrew into his own world. But against all the advice, Kristine decided to follow Jacob's passions - his 'spark'. The results were beyond anything anyone could have imagined.Dramatic and inspiring,The Spark is about the power of love and what can happen when we tap the true potential that lies within every child.

What I love about this book other than the remarkable story, is the fantastic struggle the family went through to allow their autistic son to develop in the way they believe he needed.  Trying to find any child's 'spark' is the main reason that I home edcuate my children.  It is much easier to facilitate a child finding their 'spark' when it isn't being squashed by going to school with being 'told' what to do and spending more time at school than at home or out and about.

Anyway here are the quotes I found the most inspiring from this book:

The typical therapy with austistic children is to focus on the lowest skills, such as, feeding a cookie to a puppet or tying shoe laces.  "So instead of hammering away at all the tasks there kids couldn't do.  I thought we'd start with what they wanted to do."  p68 (hb)

I have to agree here that is amazing what children learn when left to their own devices and also the sporadic nature of learning such skills as tying up shoe laces from learning about knots or learning reading from having to follow instructions on a computer program (both things that my children have done.)

"Harnessing the children's passions may not have been the conventional way to work with them, but it was very much the way I'd always worked with my daycare children."  Luckily Kristine Barnett's own mother mirrored with behaviour to Kristine and her sister, Stephanie.  Kristine's sister was an artist who wanted to do nothing more than draw.  When Stephanie was failing at school, her mother stayed upbeat ""If you don't do art, nobody cares.  But if you can't do math, everyone 's up in arms." she remarked once, "Why is that?"  I found the comment a little surprising, given that she as an accountant and loved numbers herself.  But she knew Stephanie."

That is the crux of the issue.  The mother knew her children.  She could see what they were interested in and harnessed that passion, knowing that finding your passion leads to happy children and then happy adults.  Kristine's mother could see that some brains can do sum and some brains find art easier to do (and school maths confusing.)  What she showed Kristine is that "everyone has an intrinsic talent, a  contribution to make, even if it comes to an unexpected form."  School doesn't always help, enhance or even nurture that talent because academic subjects only cover a very, very small section of people's talents so there has to be a different way in which to tap into that talent in each and every child.

"I have always encouraged the children in my daycare to lean into their passions, and over the years I saw how astonishing the results could be when they have the opportunity and resources to do so." She saw how the kids would flourish because of the attention they gave to the activities they loved and how doing what they loved brought all the children other skills as well.  

It is great reading a book which ends with the author reporting that a kid who she had been told would not amount to anything was told "he can do anything he wants" and that she believes that that is a ceiling that every parent and teacher can set for every child and that all of us can set for ourselves. She wanted everyone to believe that her son's story is emblematic for all children.  

"If you fuel a child's innate spark, it will always point the way for far greater heights that you could ever have imagined. It's hard to trust your child to find his or her own path, especially when we're told every day by professionals that children must fit into rigid boxes. We all want to give our kids the best opportunities we can, which is why it feels like such a disservice if we don't push them in the "right" direction. Celebrating your children's passions rather than re-directing them, especially when those passions don't line up neatly with a checklist for future success, can feel like jumping off a cliff. But a leap of faith is necessary if you kids are going to fly." 

Find the book here at Amazon

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Minimalist January - part 2

Week 2 of the minimalist challenge is going well, so well in fact that I am posting this a day early!!

I had already got up to 11 and had already done 15 so I only had 12, 13, 14 left to do but I wanted to try and do 29, 28 and maybe 27 so that I had less to do when I was away. The smaller numbers were ok but those bigger numbers - they were a challenge without really cheating and counting things like marbles or pens!!

So I really put my mind to it and I did better than I thought I would as you can see below.

It was great to get some inspiration from some great articles about minimising though like this one.

Even dd and dh got in on the action with Indie getting rid of some items which are part of day 26 below and she got rid of a whole lot of dolls which went on ebay here but aren't included below as I didn't want to include too much of her stuff.

Day Picture Reason why
12

I am a bit of a bag lady so there is really no surprise that I had spare bags that I really don't need and don't use. These are just some of them that I could bear to part with. They went to charity shop.
13

Here are some of the books I got rid of but these went to my local library because they are happy to take good quality books.
14

Household magazines like Prima, Good Housekeeping, etc. These went on freecycle.
16

Juno magazines which I had read. These went to a friend.
17

A whole load of various crochet magazines which I had read and noted the patterns I needed. These went on freecycle.
23

Bad picture (sorry) but here are our unneeded Xmas decorations. We have one box of decorations and it was beginning to overflow so it was time to freecycle some.
24

A set of books that went to charity and a set that went to Amazon for some money.
25


A bunch of seeds I had left over from the Grow Wild Kew campaign last year. Some will be sown and the rest have been freecycled.
26

Some games we don't use which have been taken to charity shop and a bag of dd's clothes which are too small for her. It was great getting dd involved. We totally tidied and zoned her room as we went too (see below.)
27

A bag full of painting stuff that we don't need any more.
28

A whole load of various craft and knitting magazines which I had read and noted the patterns I needed. These went on freecycle.
29

Another whole load of various craft and knitting magazines which I had read and noted the patterns I needed. These went on freecycle. 

My items from last week are still on ebay and don't end until Sunday but have sold already which is great. I have also freed up at least 3 whole shelves by getting rid of these magazines and various other things.

Here are the photos from dd's room
transformation. I wish I had got some before
photos as well because you can rarely see
dd's floor. I am hoping that the re-zoning of everything to where it is most useful to her
might help her keep the floor tidy but we will
see.
Above is a photo showing that there is enough
floor space to actually lie down!! Not something you can ever do in dd's room.

Here are her newly arranged shelves with boxes
and baskets all ordered and organised.

This will not last but it looks good at the moment.
I have tried to organise her shelves so that
the books she uses more often are nearer
the bottom and ornaments she doesn't play
with are at the top.

The same with the red shelves in the
photo above. The more ornamental
things are on the top shelf and the
precious things she uses more often
are on the bottom shelf.

With the 3 sets of wardrobe shelves (to the right and above) I again tried to find out from her how she uses her toys and boxed them up appropriately. This means that she can get a box down to play with something and there then might be a small chance that she then puts it back!!

I think these will need re-visiting as her room becomes messy again. I will then try to find out what is not working and why but by this time she as getting tried of tidying and sorting.

A happy dd using some floor space for writing her book whilst listening to music.
So even when I sort out her desk so that
she can write on it she wants to use the
floor because she can!!
The 5 piles of stuff that we got from her room
which she doesn't want any more.

Result!!

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Empathy versus judgement (vaccinations)

I have been pondering for a while about empathy and judgement but I decided I would write something about my feelings after reading these two articles:

Comedian to retire controversial Katie Hopkins character - “I pretended to be someone so horrible that nobody could possibly believe she was a real person. I didn’t think anyone would take it seriously. How could they?”

Vaccines work - here are the facts - “in herd immunity the vaccinated protect the unvaccinated...help contribute to herd immunity by educating your community today!”

Very different articles I know but both made me think about the problem of passing judgement without compassion or empathy. It seems from what have read about and seen from Katie Hopkins that she is very good at passing judgement without even considering that the people she is talking about or she is arguing against, deserve her compassion or empathy. She is just totally sure that she is right and that everyone else is just wrong and they deserve to be educated by her superior knowledge or opinion.

The Vaccines work article on the other hand is yet again such a missed opportunity. I would be much happier reading an article about the facts of vaccines as long as it was a balanced article about vaccinations. This article states that we stopped smallpox and implies that this was done by vaccination alone (not true - Smallpox was eradicated by people going door to door.) The article also states that Andrew Wakefield did many dodgy things and had numerous conflicts of interest. But other companies and individuals have done similar things. For example read about the Vioxx recall here. And herein lies the problem. There is so much data out there that it is really, really difficult to find the truth about anything. Until recently one couldn't even rely on ALL studies associated with a scientific trial being published. If the trials didn't give the desired results there was no legal requirement to publish all the reports: you could leave out the ones which didn't back up your desired results!!!  Thank goodness that Dr Ben Goldacre has spear-headed a campaign to get this stopped in Europe - read here - but that doesn't bode well for anyone trying to find the truth about vaccines, drugs, GMO-food, etc. at present.

Another thing cited in the Vaccines article is that people wanted to keep their children "pure" by not injecting them with "chemicals" like this is some sort of weird behaviour. I like the idea that people actually think about what they are putting in their bodies including drugs, types of food, foreign bodies, sugar, fizzy drinks, etc. This is doubly important when it comes to our children because they cannot make that choice for themselves until they are  a lot older than when we vaccinate them, give them antibiotics, breastfeed or not, etc. Just look at the list of drugs that have been withdrawn over time because of adverse reactions. It is very thought provoking.

I also like the idea that people consider why they would or wouldn't vaccinate rather than blindly going along with the norm. I am all for going against the norm just to consider the possibilities. This sort of thinking is what got me into autocratically educating and trusting my children to carve an education for themselves. It is also probably a hang up from my BSc Philosophy days that I actually want people to stop and think and possible change their opinion when given reason to do so.  However, the problem is that there are very, very few people who will ever change their opinion even when proper thought is put into it. In my 42 years on this earth I have actually only ever found two people who I would say would change their opinion about anything given a decent argument backed by scientific evidence and neither of them is me!! I am more like the people written about here. I know that I am biased and as Tim Minchin quite rightly said here - "We'd as well be ten minutes back in time, for all the chance you'll change your mind" - I don't often change my mind. Luckily I am married to one of those two people I know of who can change their mind and not see it as a human failing. But he also has empathy for people who don't share his scientifically moulded brain and he accepts (although he finds them frustrating) those who refuse point-blank to change their mind even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

So when it comes down to it the only thing we can really do in any given situation is have empathy for the difficult decisions that as parents we make for our children every day. In the same way that I wouldn't "blame" a parent for losing a child through not breastfeeding (see here) or for losing a child to suicide after being bullied at school and not having removed them from that environment and home-educating or from allowing a kid to climb a tree and them falling out and dying or for not vaccinating and losing a child to measles, what I can do is have empathy for all parents who do what they believe is the best for their children given the information that they think they have a grasp on. As human beings we don't have enough time, brain power or access to accurate information to investigate everything or even understand those things that are investigated and anyone who says that they do can only do so in a very, very small sphere of their life.

If someone actually wrote a decent, honest article about vaccinations which actually gave proper information about (with thoughts in italics):
  • herd immunity 
what is it?; does it actually exist?; what percentage does it work at?; do we really want to live in a utilitarian world where the greatest good of the greatest number is the most important things which means most of us should be neutered and NEVER allowed to have children
  • why and how vaccines sometimes fail 
no drug works perfectly on everyone, every single time so let's be honest about vaccines too
  • that there are trials paid for by companies who have a vested interest in the manufacture 
give us the honest truth so we can be proper consumers with all the information to make a decent choice
  • statistics about how realistically problematic these diseases are as opposed to conflated ideas about how dangerous these childhood diseases are 
measles; rubella; mumps used to be classed as mild childhood diseases with very rare problems for a very small number - when did they suddenly become so dangerous?
  • why vaccinated children get versions of the diseases that they are vaccinated against and why this doesn't seem to be reported 
why does this happen and are these vaccinated children getting mild versions of the disease reported and included in any stats?
  • shut up about Andrew Wakefield because most of the people I know who didn't vaccinate did not do so because of Andrew Wakefield 
stop vilifying people, he isn't the only one and he won't be the last
  • told the truth without resorting to over-playing it or slagging off  other people who might have a different point of view to yours
just common sense if your view is valid
  • ingredients 
  • possible side effects 
  • lots of other things I cannot think of right now
  • etc.


that would be fantastic and in the words of Tim Minchin again "I will take a compass and carve 'Fancy That' on the side of my cock" (if I had one) . But neither the pro or anti campaigners for vaccines seem to be able to do this because both have a "high-horse" stance to retain. Truly empathetic beings don't need a "high-horse" stance and would never resort to one, even when pushed. 

So let's all just start being lovely to each other and let's not resort to blaming and saying nasty, judgemental things to each other. Those that cannot do this really need to investigate why. It is a very interesting experience to actually sit with why you are so passionately judgemental about something or towards someone. Why not just have empathy, because you never know when you might want empathy back.

Useful links
A useful article about controversial statements being scientifically true.

Also if you see an article which makes claims which seem a bit off, type www.rbutr.com/ at the start of the web page leaving the rest of the http address as it is and see if there have been any rebuttals.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Minimalist January - part 1

I am going to play my Minimalist January game a bit strangely because I am away at the end of January and don't want to be left with took much stuff to get rid of at the end of the month when I am not even in my house.

So for the first few days of the challenge I am going to do extra later days as well as the early ones.

Let the de-cluttering begin!!!


Day Picture Reason why
1
Tap Shoes
I don't use and them and never will. They have gone to a good home where the kids do dance.
2
New Rock Shoes & Keyring
These are now on ebay here.
3
Wooden Fairy Village
This has found a fab new home with neighbours who I know will get lots of use out of it. I am really pleased because I really, really didn't want to get rid of this.
4
Jewellery that I made and some I don't need
These have been given to a friend as a present which she will really enjoy.
5
Socks - socks are only small so 10 pairs of socks = 5
This is what I love about this game. You start seeing everything differently. I had too many socks and had had too many socks for a long time and suddenly I am seeing opportunities to get rid of stuff everywhere. Even getting rid of 10 pairs of socks is a small step towards de-cluttering and it is becoming a habit. 
6
Sea glass, sea pottery and marbles
I had a lot of this stuff that was on display but I didn't need all 7kg of it so I got rid of 5kg of sea glass and 1kg of marbles and sea pottery. 
7
Wool
This was a tough one as I LOVE my wool. But I thought I could donate these few balls to either the new York Timebank craft group or some other crafty group.
8

Empty Jam Jars
We had planned to make jam and chutney but didn't get round to it so there are being offered on freecycle. 
9
Open University course books
Put on ebay here.

10

Oracle cards and sets
Again I have too  many sets of these so I picked my favourite and these are now on ebay.
11
More Open University course materials
These are now on ebay now.
15
Empty bottles and Bach Flower remedies
These are not getting used in my house so have been offered on freecycle
30
Books and Game
These have been given to my brother and sister-in-law for their gorgeous new baby boy. They are all learning to read books and games.
31
More Books
There are always more books to get rid of. I used to have a tendency to think that I needed to keep all books that the kids may at some point want to read but I now know that will more clutter they are actually less likely to read the books they want to read because of being overwhelmed by the number we have.

More next week!!!

Growing my own ginger

I came across this article and video on Facebook via a friend and thought I would give it a go. My ginger has been soaking in water for a few days and I am going to plant it today. As part of my research though I wanted to know what else I could do with ginger and came across all these uses as well as this really interesting page which went into more detail about growing ginger.

Anyway here are the uses of a ginger plant:

What part of plant Use Reference page
Ginger Root Tea - just cut up a hunk of fresh ginger (no need to peel) and pour a lot of boiling water over it.

Cooking - soup (fresh ginger, grated or pureed, brings wonderful zest to hot, creamy winter soups); with fish; in sir fries or in baking
Fresh Ginger Root uses
Ginger Leaves Ginger leaves are edible but are tough to eat or digest whole but here are some uses for them. Just make sure you chop them finely before you use them.
Eat them raw - too strong to eat on their own add them to flavour couscous or in salads.

Dry them - add as a garnish on savoury meals.

Cooking - use in cooking where the root is too much - use 2 tbsp. of freshly chopped ginger leaves in stews or soups or in stir fries.

Make tea - 1 to 2g or fresh or dried leaves per cup.
Ginger Leaves
Ginger Flowers Ginger flowers are edible too. Again though, like the leaves, the plant is very hard but cut away the hard petals and eat the bud finely chopped or blended.  Ginger Flowers
Candied Ginger Root Any leftover root can be candied and saved for later Candied Ginger

And here are more ideas about growing ginger as part of a permaculture garden. I am going to be growing my ginger in pots to start with so I can do research about whether it would survive outside in the UK.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Designing Health the Permaculture Way

Part 1 - Movement

Over the last year I have yet again, through lack of time and losing my favourite exercise activity of Ceroc, gone beyond my comfortable size.  I have an uncomfortable "my belly looks like I am pregnant" phase I hit which always results in my taking stock of where I am health-wise and what I am going to do to tone up a bit.  I then found that I was officially obese with a BMI of 30.5, which is probably the heaviest I have ever been in my lifetime,.  I am sure this is a result of many factors such as:
  1. my relatively recent foray into the "diet" industry AGAIN
  2. the aforementioned lack of Ceroc classes in York
  3. my recurring back problem which occasionally stops me exercising
  4. my weekly kick-boxing classes being cancelled
  5. my liking of chocolate
to mention but a few.  With regards to point 1, like many others, I always end up feeling lousy about my lack of willpower to stick to a restrictive diet and I end up heavier/fatter than when I started. It always seems such an ingrained, natural thing to do though - to diet. I always vowed after having children that I wouldn't diet because I don't want my children growing up with the idea that diets are a good thing. Anyway I am resolute that I not going to restrict my eating like that again and I will be looking at my eating habits as a separate issue to this one.  So having vowed that I would never again restrict my diet or try to be unrealistic about what exercise I am going to do, I was left with a bit of hole as to what to do next.  This void, together with no sign of Ceroc classes returning to York, left me in a bit of a quandary.

So I started thinking about designing my health and I thought that using Lobby's Design Web mentioned in her book Permaculture and People would be a great place to start.  What I liked about this Permaculture Design Process was that it is more geared towards acknowledging me as a person and I felt it would help me overcome the obstacles which have hindered my health in the past. There were also many aspects of the ideas within this web which resonated with processes which I have put in place in my life since attending the Hoffman Process and training as a Shamanic Practitioner (more of these realisations may appear in other blog posts and Permaculture design write-ups.)  Here is the write up of that design so far using Looby's Design Web:


Ideas

Growth Phase
Vision To be healthier.
To continue to enjoy life and find more ways to integrate body movement (I hate the word exercise) into my way of life.
To find a balance between time away at classes and time with my family.
To protect my back (which has been problematic since I was 16) by increasing my core stability.
To have fun.
Incorporate more movement into my everyday life to counteract the amount of time spent at a computer.
To be realistic.
Learn more useful skills.
Build on what I already know.
Helps My geeky nature - I could potentially incorporate some apps and goals so I can see my progress.
The resources of the internet.
My stubbornness and willingness to try anything once.
Finding activities which are fun and/or useful in my life in other ways.  
Limits Cost (financial, equipment, time.)
I get bored easily.
The need to feel that the time/cost is worth it.
My tendency to be unrealistic.

Exploratory Phase
Patterns 1. I get bored easily.
2. I don't like spending money.
3. I don't like going out in the evening as that is when I see my husband.
4. I fear I won't stick to any program if I have to do it alone.
5. If it's not fun I will not want to continue.
6. Worrying about my appearance.
7. I find it difficult to do exercise at home because I forget as there are always other things to do and distractions.
8. Overdoing it and not realising when I need a break
Ideas 1. Find an activity which progresses in some way or where improvements are easily noticed.
2. Use my time-bank hours to pay for classes or find something where the benefit of the class outweighs the cost. Realise any investment will be of benefit to me.
3. Include the family in my workouts or find during the day classes which don't get in the way of evening family time which is what we did with kick-boxing.
4. Find classes where there is extra motivation to participate or find some goal-orientated way to give me staying power to keep going.
5. Find classes I really, really enjoy like Ceroc.
6. Continue to work on the reasons that I don't like my appearance and realise that these are not size-related because they have always been there.
7. Find activities I can do at home and find a way to remind myself.
8. Make sure I evaluate regularly and re-design when needed 
Principles 1. Observe and Interact - taking ideas from nature - I have always liked the idea of natural movement (see blog posts here and here) but I find it really difficult incorporating these ideas into my life (point 7 in patterns.) I need to find ways to have the space, time and inclination to does these things and I need to integrate them into my way of life so that I think about it, they are just things I do as naturally as breathing, eating, etc. I also need to be aware of when I am resisting any changes and analyse what this resistance means.

2. Catch & Store Energy - maybe my geeky nature would be a good way to capture the energy of my finding new ways to move and get healthier e.g.
revisit websites I have used before to track my activities e.g. endomondo, mapmyfitness, myfitnesspal and investigate other activity apps/websites which incorporate goal setting; connecting to others and forums for advice; in the past I have taken photos along the way which I might do again to keep me motivated; getting my kids involved could also help.

3. Obtain a Yield - feeling healthier, losing the "pregnant" belly feeling, incorporating natural movement into my life so it is seamless, learn what feels good to me, increase my range of body movements and become more somatically aware.

4. Apply Self-regulation & Accept Feedback - if I don't enjoy the activity I need to find something else as I refuse to do exercise for the sake of exercise as it makes me feels bad and my emotional well-being is as important as my physical well-being. Maybe finding classes which are flexible would benefit my life-style in that I very often cannot stick to a set time and day. Pay-as-you-go is therefore better than any pre-paid classes. Revisit how I feel about what I am doing every month or so to check that I am happy; my kids are happy with any time away as is my dh. My feedback needs to be about how I feel physically but also emotionally, spiritually and mentally about my health. Although I am talking about activities and classes if I am not feeling better in all aspects of my life then my plan is not working so I need to find a way to monitor these 4 areas each month.

5. Use & Value Renewable Resources and Services - I will be using my own power to improve my health and one of the reasons I am planning this design is so that I remain a viable renewable resource for as long as possible.

6. Produce no Waste - over time I have accrued all the workout equipment, DVDs, clothing and shoes that I need to try any type of activity necessary. I will endeavour where possible to find local activities and will evaluate why (if ever) I need to go further afield. Again I will balance using my car to get to classes over time away from family and other considerations.

7. Design from Patterns to Details - being clear about why I want to be healthier and how to balance my health with family/time/finances.  Combat any negative patterns about my health and create healthy patterns. Evaluate my monthly feedback from (4) and redesign if necessary. Celebrate any break in negative patterns as well as any new healthier ones.

8. Integrate rather than Segregate - having made a space in my bedroom (see here) for exercise which already includes a climbing wall, punch-bag, various exercising paraphernalia and a playstation 2/TV combo and now enough floor space for most types of activity this gives the kids and I the chance to engage in whatever movement activity takes our fancy. This area is nearly perfect from a theoretical point of view but we need to start using it so that it becomes an integral part of our lives for fun movement activities including keeping up with our kick-boxing skills in case we ever get to go back to our classes.

9. Use Small Slow Solutions - I am being realistic here that anything I do is not going to make my "pregnant"-like belly disappear overnight or my BMI suddenly be reasonable. I haven't had a BMI within normal range for over 12 years and I am not even sure I agree with it as a measurement anyway. This design is focussing on how I feel about myself from all four aspects of my "quadrinity" (as the Hoffman Process calls the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of ourselves) and so my reflective writings about how I feel will be my overall guide as to how the design is going. Integrating different ways of being in my body will be slow because anything that doesn't work will be dis-guarded and new things tried and evaluated.

10. Use & Value Diversity - I need to look at this "integrating movement into my life" design holistically and as mentioned earlier need to include different types of movement in different places e.g. outdoors, indoors, natural movement, cardio, strength work, martial arts, etc.

11. Use Edges  & Value the Marginal - over the last year there have been changes in my life which are worth considering with regard to edges. For example, my parents moving to York and my getting a Saturday job. Both these things can integrate using my body more into my life if I chose them to. Sharing some activities with my children and husband can acknowledge the edges between us and help me in my endevaour to improve my health.

12. Creatively Use  & Respond to Change - I am going to be 42 in January so I need to incorporate strength work as well as cardio as my muscle mass is in decline. I have an opportunity to include natural movement now we have a woodland where we get the fuel for our wood-burning stove so I can carry logs from garden to house regularly over winter and pile logs all year round at the woodland. I recently started working so relying on walking and cycling wherever possible saves money (+ve.) I also have an opportunity to include my children in anything I do as I home educate and want them to have a positive view on how moving their bodies makes them feel good. Most of all though I need to find activities that take over from Ceroc and kick-boxing.


Productive Phase
Integration
Thoughts via hackpad
Action Measure various parts of my body and take a photo on 1st January 2015
Use misfit acticity tracker everyday and sync with app so it gets picked up by mapmywalk
Trial Monday swimming with the kids at least once a month
Keep going to MFT classes on Tuesday (or Thursday if I cannot do Tuesday)
Trial Tai Chi classes on Wednesday morning with the kids, once a month maybe twice - review in 2 months
Friday - attend Jitsu class (move to Monday if I cannot do Friday)
Friday or Saturday once a month to every 6 weeks go climbing with at least Dave
Try out various activities with the kids eg. 7 minute workout on my phone; DVDs; trampolining; kettlebells; natural movement; etc. - start small
Incorporate more things as I get more time
Momentum Review on the 1st of every month. Add this date to my calender as well as a weekly check in when I have time.

Reflective Phase
Appreciation Take photos and measurements at my monthly review and celebrate my achievements regardless
Reflection Monthly review. 
Pause If I need time off, take time off.

That's it for now. Watch this space!!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Finding a rhythm and the minimalist game

Looking back at my post from August and especially the one from the start of 2014 here it is fascinating to see what things have changed since then. I am now employed at the Northern College of Acupuncture (NCA).  It is a blessing to work at such a worthwhile place even if it is only very part-time. I hoping that my computer programming skills might help here as well because the NCA are considering changing their client database structure.

I never got round to adding alarms to my phone for reading books and doing crafts because I wasn't organised enough at the time. I also realised I was too busy finishing my Shamanic Practitioner training, my Permaculture Association Trustee duties (where I was made official administrator back in July) as well as the needs to my immediate and wider family. However I have now started using google calender, google tasks, google keep and their associated apps on my phone so I am wondering whether, once my OU course is finished in July, I will add these things to my to-do-list if that is what I think is the best use of my time.

Anyway over the last year I have started finding a much-needed rhythm to my life. I feel this has been partially due to my Shamanic studies as well as my continued learning about Permaculture design methodology and how it can help design all areas of a person's life. I have started surveying and assessing the way my house works for us as a family. As a home educating family and my occasional need to work from home we have a myriad needs of our house from accommodating large numbers of children and parents to my needing a place to tutor students or work as a shamanic practitioner. This has led to my contemplating designing a number of rooms in the house and de-cluttering as a by-product of the design implementation. I am going to continue this de-cluttering and am thinking of doing the Minimalist game with my dd in the New Year as a way to maintain and tweak the design. Starting from the 1st January we are going to throw things out or ebay them every day. The challenging bit is that on the 2nd we have to throw 2 things out, 3 on the 3rd, 4 on the 4th, etc.

As part of evaluating my bedroom design over the last few weeks I have already made some changes which have resulted in at least the 6th January being sorted as I found 6 bags I don't need. Whether I will manage all the way through January will be interesting but I like the SMARTness (see below) of this game and if it works I will be implementing it more than once as a fun SADIMET tweak to my de-cluttering designs.  My bedroom was my first design within my house but I have my dining/kitchen area that also needs designing as well as potentially my loft, garage, Shamanic room and porch.  Let's see if this game works or not!!

Specific - follow the instructions
Measurable - I follow the instructions or not
Achievable - 496 items = a lot but I have many things I don't use so hopefully it is do-able
Realistic - see above
Time-bound - this is the best thing about this game.  It is very specifically time-bound.  By the end of January 2015 I will have 496 less things cluttering my house. 

The other great thing about this game is the fact that I am limited on time at present but I want to keep my momentum from the Permaculture Association National Diploma Gathering going.  I have put on hold starting any further designs (I have an "exercise" design that I need to write up) whilst I concentrate on finishing my OU course and settling into working at the NCA.  I am however wanting to continue de-cluttering and finding more rhythm in my life.  If anyone wants to join me in the game let me know!

Monday, 1 December 2014

PA NDG - Sensational, Awe-inspiring, Design-filled, Interlacing, Moments, Everyone, Together

Sensational
Action-packed
Design-filled
Inspirational
Moments
Everyone
Together sums up my first National Diploma Gathering organised by the Permaculture Association (see what I did there - using a Permaculture design framework acronym to explain how the weekend went!!!).

I am just back from an awesome weekend at Casleton YHA attending the Permaculture Association's annual National Diploma Gathering 2014. It was my first time at this event and although I have always had in the back of my mind that I might try to achieve my Permaculture Diploma I haven't really properly considered it. Also as part of my role as a Trustee for the Association I have been exploring (with other Trustees) how best to explain what Permaculture is to the masses. As part of my thought processes over the last few months I revisited what permaculture means to me including re-reading my Transition Town competition winning entry about my PDC (Permaculture Design Course). I wanted to galvanise those thoughts with real connections to other people who are implementing permaculture in their lives whilst also attending workshops and generally being nosey about what happens at these weekends. As a Trustee I get to be nosey with impunity and I am so glad I did!!!

All the workshops were interesting, helpful, thought-provoking, inspiring and a great reminder that Permaculture Design principles can be applied to ALL areas of everyone's lives. The three accreditations which happened during the weekend were awe-inspiring, motivating and fantastic examples of permaculture design having fundamental effects on people's lives. Visit the individual sites here for more information -> Nicole VosperNiamhue Robin and I will add Cathrine Dolleris' site when it becomes available.

In true Permaculture style there were also magical moments at the edges of the event. For example,
  1. I had fortunately flung a few extra crochet hooks into my crochet bag with my latest crochet project and I offered to teach others if they wanted. I got two takers who valiantly battled the crochet handhold and both took home their first pieces of crochet.  
  2. I (and others) were given instruction into how to barefoot run safely and it was such fun to have our running recorded and analysed; be shown exercises to stretch and strengthen calf muscles and various other tips. 
  3. A fab guy called Kev was recording during the weekend to capture the essence of "what is permaculture" from as many people that he could and I did my part by sharing my thoughts (see below *)  
  4. All the conversations with fellow attendees on a whole range of topics from home educating to the benefits of linux over Windows as an operating systems.  
  5. Being visible as a Trustee to the members and touching base with 3 fellow trustees who were also attending. I had wondered whether being a Trustee would mean people would take an opportunity to talk to me in that role and it was a wonderful example of stacking that I could be there as a Trustee and as a potential diploma student.
As someone who has struggled with insecurities in the past it was fab that these types of interactions occurred and that I was also approached for my expertise in shamanism, home education and crochet. I even had someone commenting that they had found my blog posts about home educating useful. I know I write this blog for my own benefit but it always satisfying to know that it is being found, read and been useful to someone.

With regards to my short time with Kev (mentioned above*) it was great for me to realise how much "permaculturing my life" is what I want to do because it is a versatile system which can be used in all areas of life. This has really helped me re-evaluate my ideas around my permaculture projects and some changes will be happening to my website sevenstrands.co.uk over the next 6 months because of the weekend. I will also be adding content to this blog and getting back to documenting "permaculturing my life!" in an attempt to streamline and effective-y (I so wish that were a real word) my life by using permaculture design.

So here's to a great weekend jam-packed with inspiring workshops and accreditations; useful discussions about all areas of life; crocheting, making new friends, joining networks; being an effective trustee; re-engaging with permaculture design, doing yoga at 7am in the morning (if you know me you will realise what an achievement that is); re-classifying permaculture as a verb and generally having a fun time. Roll on next year as I will definitely be attending another Permaculture Association National Diploma Gathering and I now have a vested interest because I am new member on the Diploma Working Group!!!!