Monday, 20 March 2017

February & March 2017 Monthly Moments

Obviously I am stunningly biased against schooling (in the favour of home educating) for this very reason but this is always great to see it being said again in slightly different words by someone new. In the age of robots, schools are teaching our children to be redundant by George Monbiot.

And here's another one The Secret of Happy Children - Get rid of teachers and ban homework. Again interesting ideas about why schooling is making children tired and things could be improved for everyone pretty easily.

Similar things have been said by Ken Robinson (some of them over TEN years ago) in his fabulous TED talks - Do schools kill creativity?, Bring on the Learning Revolution and my personal favourite RSA Animate video Changing education paradigms which everyone should watch for the fantastic animation alone!!

Interesting article about raising "good" kids which once you get over the "good" in the title is really worth reading.

And now onto something completely different for those crafty people out there:

I am trying to knit my first pair of socks with proper sock yarn at present and this wonderful page has demystified all the weird 'turn heel', 'heel flap', etc. stuff which is great. Then I am using this pattern and there is a whole tutorial which goes with it which is also fantastic!! I love the internet!!

Also here is a great reminder about how social media is taking over with a great Lion King parody by Dustin and Genevieve.

Recently I have found myself getting fed up with Facebook as there seems to be a lot of advertising courses but also because I can not keep up with the number of people posting. There is also the studies now that are showing that social media is now increasing loneliness and envy and reading the article in The Telegraph resonated with me. One of my resolutions for this year was to try and see the people I love face to face and really connect. I know that isn't easy to do but so far it is going quite well and I am enjoying the more intimate connection I get from that.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Monthly Moments resurrected

I loved doing my monthly moments blog posts back in 2013 and so to try and get me at least writing 12 blog posts a year I am going to try and resurrect them this year.

Where are all the female superheroes? Great TED talk. Let's bring up females who are powerful, brave and own our power.

Geoff Lawton free permaculture resources

Really interesting article about a woman wearing men's clothes for a month

Crochet boots using flipflops

How to activate your diaphragm for correct breathing with a great video showing how to breathe correctly.

A great way of explaining the autism spectrum in comic format.

Fab advert by Denmark about not putting people in boxes. Well worth a watch

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Minimalist months

I failed to keep up to date with my Minimalist posts on my blog but I have been doing them religiously over the last year. Ryan, the Communications Coordinator at the Permaculture Association, added a lovely post about my idea on the Permaculture Blog here reminded me that I hadn't written about it over the last year so here is a recap!!

March saw a whole load of grown-out-of toys find their way to new homes which is always fun. Dh and I have been trying to get all the games in one place in the dining/sitting room area of the house where we only have a certain number of shelves to dedicate to games so we got ruthless even with some games like the one to the right as well as bigger ones we don't use.

Educational toys also got the heave-ho. We would rather someone else use these things than hold onto them. Other things that were bought and only used once or twice also went to new homes as did knitting sets which I had to admit I was never going to get around to doing!!

I got a lovely message from the man who picked up the chess set that his wife loved knitting it all - very satisfying. Then there was all the stuff that we are just never going to use that went to a charity shop. All-in-all a good minimalist month.

That was April/May time last year. Then November happened with some of the stuff shown above new homes as well as a lot of other stuff. Again things that we are never going to use.

What you then realise is that this thing becomes slightly addictive and so now we always have a charity bag on the go and both my dh and I are always looking for ways to reduce our belongings. Even dd has got in on the act and is always looking for ways to cut down on her stuff.

So in preparation for February's minimalist month we have already got rid of a PlayStation 2 and all games, Nintendo DS XL and all games, inline skates, Life of Fred books, I am going through all my CDs at present, I have thrown out at least 100 pens which we didn't need work or we didn't need, etc. We are in a minimalist cycle and although we may never make it to actually living a minimalist life, I would highly recommend this game to everyone. It is fun for all the family.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Ah Permaculture Diploma / New Year - where am I going?

I suppose it is always around this time of year that I contemplate where I am going in the upcoming year. I find January is a time of reflection for me as my birthday falls near the beginning of January as well as being the actual start of a new year.

Well, I got a great surprise in that one of my diploma projects got signed off in January with another one nearing being signed off. I have nearly finished writing up my wonderful collaborative Introduction to Permaculture course design that culminated in York's Introduction to Permaculture course run by 2 other permaculture diploma apprentices and myself back in November.

All very exciting but the diploma is also taking a lot of my time and that is something that I do not have a lot of. So the time has come to re-evaluate.

Something I always thought near the beginning of my diploma journey was using the permaculture principle of designing from patterns to details to concentrate, via my projects, on the circles of my life split up as follows:

1. my house
2. my street
3. my easily walkable neighbourhood
4. my walkable area (within 30 minutes)
5. my locality
6. my city
7. everything else needed to create community / remain connected to everything

with more effort put into 1 through to a lot less effort for no 6 and a weird amount of effort for 7 due to wanting to reclaim entertainment tasks from the economy such as cooking, childcare and fun. Across all the circles there is a need to connect with people, nature and myself and then contribute to the communities in those areas.

I also wanted to honour my quadrinity, as taught in the Hoffman Process, of intellect, spirit, emotion and physical body.

This is not something that I have touched on explicitly so far in any of the 10 designs but they are always in the back of my mind. However all these 11 areas are very important to me in different ways but how do I deal with them all in a way that is understandable? This is something that I have struggled with a lot whilst doing the permaculture diploma. Being dyslexic I tend to think big and assume that everyone is going to get where I am coming from. They don't!!!

All you need to do is look at the number of spreadsheets in my diploma journey planning, logging, documenting project plan here. It makes perfect sense to me but it isn't that easy to follow without some sort of explanation. And therein lies a problem because when it comes down to it I really cannot be bothered to explain all the many small details of my inter-connected way of thinking. I don't have the time and even if I did it would be taking me away from doing all the fab things I get to do. So what do I do now? I don't really have an answer. So I am going to keep doing the things I have been doing since starting the diploma and I will just see where this year takes me. I am going to stick to my plan as long as it doesn't cause me stress.

And so I am going to start with a re-evaluation of myself:

1. I am more than a someone doing a diploma in permaculture, I am more than someone who home educates their children, I am more than a wife, a daughter, a sister, a volunteer at my local community hub, more than a self-employed IT / PA / social media person, more than a friend, more than my jobs, more than my relationships. I am all those things and more.

I am the embodiment of all my relationships / all my connections with the world.

2. What I do does not need to be measured to be valued (do not mistake measurement for value eg. salary, school grades, etc) whether it be via salary, signed off diploma projects or whatever.

3. When I forget who I am and I become disconnected - I need to be aware eg. shopping for stuff I don't need, eating stuff that doesn't fuel my body properly, etc

and then:

4. Celebrate the connections in my life and build more:
i. honour the space I live in eg. declutter (minimalist month), use the space in a conducive manner
ii. continue making cider with people on the street every year, connect with my neighbours in other ways, help-yourself front garden
iii.working at the local community cafe & volunteering at the local youth club
iv. regular walks - health and wellbeing and awareness of my neighbourhood & member of my local Timebank
v. use my local shops eg. greengrocers - local produce, local businesses, local market
vi. walk/cycle as much as possible
vii. grow the great connections I have with my friends and with nature

Admit my dysfunctionality
Recognise it = awareness
Confront it = will
Move on = take action

Recognise the need to listen (observe)
Recognise the need to be heard
Enlightenment is a group effort or Charles Einstein's idea of us being inter-beings

Honour the fact that I am part of nature

Just do stuff and find positive body issues

These are just ramblings that I have written as they have occurred to me against the backdrop of the 11 areas mentioned above. A journalution of sorts (click on the link to find out more about journaling) and there is so much more I could write because working on myself and my place in this amazing universe is never going to end. The universe at present seems to be presenting me with many amazing opportunities to help people get the word out about brilliant courses, fantastic services that will help people find themselves or great products that honour the planet.

I get to continue honouring my planet by being part of the lives of the wonderful natural resources that are a whole host of amazing home educated children (including my own.) The next creative generation!! Every day I get to be part of that. It really needs to be celebrated.

So whether I take a pause from my diploma, give it up, keep working on it - it doesn't actually matter because those 11 areas mentioned above (and so many more) are always in the back of my mind along with the need to looking after the planet I live with.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

After yesterday's post this is interesting

The 18 things mentally tough people do:
1. They move on - they don't waste time feeling sorry for themselves. 
2. They keep control - they don't give away their power. 
3. They embrace change - they welcome challenges.
4. They stay happy - they don't complain and they don't waste energy on things they can't control.
5. They are kind - they are fair and unafraid to speak up. They don't worry about pleasing other people.
6. They are willing to take calculated risks - they weigh the risks and benefit before taking action.
7. They invest their energy in the present - they don't dwell on the past
8. They accept full responsibility for their past behaviour - they don't make the same mistake over and over. 
9. They celebrate other people’s success - they don't resent that success.
10. They are willing to fail - they don't give up after failing and they see every failure as a chance to improve.
11. They enjoy their time alone - they don't fear being alone.
12. They are prepared to work and succeed on their own merits - they don't feel the world owes them anything.
13. They have staying power - they don't expect immediate results.
14. They evaluate their core beliefs - and modify as needed.
15. They expend their energy wisely - they don't spend time on unproductive thoughts. 
16. They think productively - they replace negative thoughts with productive thoughts.
17. They tolerate discomfort - they accept their feelings without being controlled by them.
18. They reflect on their progress - every day. They take time to consider what they've achieved and where they are going.

I like this list but can't track down where it has come from although it seems awfully similar to the list below that I found on Forbes entitled "Mentally Strong People: The 13 Things They Avoid" (Cheryl Conner) just obviously written in reverse. I prefer the following list because it has more information attached.

1.    Waste Time Feeling Sorry for Themselves. You don’t see mentally strong people feeling sorry for their circumstances or dwelling on the way they’ve been mistreated. They have learned to take responsibility for their actions and outcomes, and they have an inherent understanding of the fact that frequently life is not fair. They are able to emerge from trying circumstances with self-awareness and gratitude for the lessons learned. When a situation turns out badly, they respond with phrases such as “Oh, well.” Or perhaps simply, “Next!”
2. Give Away Their Power. Mentally strong people avoid giving others the power to make them feel inferior or bad. They understand they are in control of their actions and emotions. They know their strength is in their ability to manage the way they respond.
3.    Shy Away from Change. Mentally strong people embrace change and they welcome challenge. Their biggest “fear,” if they have one, is not of the unknown, but of becoming complacent and stagnant. An environment of change and even uncertainty can energize a mentally strong person and bring out their best.
4. Waste Energy on Things They Can’t Control. Mentally strong people don’t complain (much) about bad traffic, lost luggage, or especially about other people, as they recognize that all of these factors are generally beyond their control. In a bad situation, they recognize that the one thing they can always control is their own response and attitude, and they use these attributes well.
5. Worry About Pleasing Others. Know any people pleasers? Or, conversely, people who go out of their way to dis-please others as a way of reinforcing an image of strength? Neither position is a good one. A mentally strong person strives to be kind and fair and to please others where appropriate, but is unafraid to speak up. They are able to withstand the possibility that someone will get upset and will navigate the situation, wherever possible, with grace.
6. Fear Taking Calculated Risks. A mentally strong person is willing to take calculated risks. This is a different thing entirely than jumping headlong into foolish risks. But with mental strength, an individual can weigh the risks and benefits thoroughly, and will fully assess the potential downsides and even the worst-case scenarios before they take action.
7. Dwell on the Past. There is strength in acknowledging the past and especially in acknowledging the things learned from past experiences—but a mentally strong person is able to avoid miring their mental energy in past disappointments or in fantasies of the “glory days” gone by. They invest the majority of their energy in creating an optimal present and future.
8. Make the Same Mistakes Over and Over. We all know the definition of insanity, right? It’s when we take the same actions again and again while hoping for a different and better outcome than we’ve gotten before. A mentally strong person accepts full responsibility for past behavior and is willing to learn from mistakes. Research shows that the ability to be self-reflective in an accurate and productive way is one of the greatest strengths of spectacularly successful executives and entrepreneurs.
9. Resent Other People’s Success. It takes strength of character to feel genuine joy and excitement for other people’s success. Mentally strong people have this ability. They don’t become jealous or resentful when others succeed (although they may take close notes on what the individual did well). They are willing to work hard for their own chances at success, without relying on shortcuts.
10. Give Up After Failure. Every failure is a chance to improve. Even the greatest entrepreneurs are willing to admit that their early efforts invariably brought many failures. Mentally strong people are willing to fail again and again, if necessary, as long as the learning experience from every “failure” can bring them closer to their ultimate goals.
11. Fear Alone Time. Mentally strong people enjoy and even treasure the time they spend alone. They use their downtime to reflect, to plan, and to be productive. Most importantly, they don’t depend on others to shore up their happiness and moods. They can be happy with others, and they can also be happy alone.
12. Feel the World Owes Them Anything. Particularly in the current economy, executives and employees at every level are gaining the realization that the world does not owe them a salary, a benefits package and a comfortable life, regardless of their preparation and schooling. Mentally strong people enter the world prepared to work and succeed on their merits, at every stage of the game.
13. Expect Immediate Results. Whether it’s a workout plan, a nutritional regimen, or starting a business, mentally strong people are “in it for the long haul”. They know better than to expect immediate results. They apply their energy and time in measured doses and they celebrate each milestone and increment of success on the way. They have “staying power.” And they understand that genuine changes take time. 

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

"Hey EVERYONE, leave those kids alone"

I watched this brilliant TED talk today - How to raise successful kids - without over-parenting - and Julie Lythcott-Haims had some very interesting things to say. It was great being reminded of why I home educate in the way that I do - where my children find their own path to their passions and stretch themselves when they are ready with mine and their Dad's support and love.

"With our overhelp... we deprive our kids of the chance to build self-efficacy which is a really fundamental tenant of the human psyche... Self-efficacy is built when ones sees that one's own actions lead to outcomes." Julie Lythcott-Haims.

This has come at a really interesting time in my family's home education journey as ds has just turned 15 and is starting to consider what he wants to do over the next few years. He has a wonderful extended family where there could be chances to travel and work in Hong Kong; work in a family-run shop down South; travel with a worldly-wise niece; work for exams at a college or just carry on having fun as he does every day. Like every parent I want him to do everything; try everything; experience everything and do it all now whilst he is young. However that might not be what is right for him and it is his live, not mine.

What I do know about him though is that he doesn't base his self-worth on grades (mentioned in the TED talk) because at present he doesn't have any!! What he has had is a childhood "built on things like love and chores." This comment by Julie again made me smile because both my kids have helped with household activities from an early age. In fact, one of my favourite childhood pictures of ds was taken with him when he was helping trim the hedge at 20 months!!

Neither of my children particularly like doing jobs around our home but we have had family meetings where dh and I have explained how the household works, including finances so that they can understand that they are part of a system that works better when everyone is involved, understands the system and helps out accordingly.

My children can go to school if and when they want and as mentioned above ds is considering going to college next year to do some exams. It is so much easier for a child to know their own mind (desires, capability, etc.) when they have always been allowed to make their own choices. Luckily going to school doesn't stop that happening but it definitely makes that harder. As Julie states "If their childhood has not been lived according to a tyrannical checklist then when they get to college...they'll have gone there on their own volition, fuelled by their own desire, capable and ready to thrive there."

I loved Julie's last comment that her children are wildflowers of an unknown genus and species because even though both my children have been born to the same parents and neither has been to school I can tell you that they are not only wildflowers of unknown genus and species but that they are both TOTALLY different wildflowers of unknown genus and species. And as such they need very different things from me as a parent (and from their Dad) to help them feel unconditionally loved and valued. This is one of the many 'lessons' we discuss in our family about how different dd and ds are as well as how different Mum and Dad are (see the 5 Languages of Love results from the 4 of us here as one example of our different needs) I also agree that "it's my job to provide a nourishing environment, to strengthen them through chores and to love them so they can love job is not to make them become what I would have them become, but to support them in becoming their glorious selves."

I love this sentiment and I hope that is what I am doing for my children along with their father. However I do wonder after watching this TED talk whether that is enough?

What I wondered after watching it was by over-parenting do we actually make sure that our children NEVER grow into adults who can make their own decisions. Julie mentions that our children are growing into adults who need a "workplace checklist" because they can't think for themselves and implied in her talk it the need for praise and validation to build their self-esteem. As you may have read in a previous blog post of mine there is a theory out there that rewards are detrimental to everyone (read more here near the bottom of the post.)

Also in the blog post about mental health in children here  I stated that:

Mentally healthy and resilient adults are grown out of children who have such traits as: self-esteem, a healthy body image, positive self-belief, empathy for other people and the planet, a passion for life, an ability to acknowledge and learn from their mistakes, accountability for their actions, etc.

So what happens if these childhood needs don't get met? Do we then have adults who are still acting like children and can't take responsibility for their actions or decisions? Do we have adults who need constant validation and if they don't get it they blame those around them?

I think not over-parenting definitely, helps in this area and teaching our children about love is definitely a must. However, I think that our children also need to learn about not blaming and they need to learn about taking accountability for their actions (revisit Brene Brown here.)

I too often see that low self-esteem and low self-efficacy in adults leads to the blaming of others for things that those adults ALLOWED to happen to them. My children sometimes exhibit this behaviour and it is something that it really hard to teach/explain. I thank goodness that there are people out there like Brene Brown who show that blaming others and not taking accountability is not good (read more here -> blame is basically the discharging of anger)

We need to hold ourselves accountable for what we allow to happen to us.
We need to hold boundaries around what we allow to happen to ourselves.

Hopefully if we are brought up with unconditional love where we have the space and time to build self-efficacy, self-esteem (which I feel includes not blaming but holding others & ourselves accountable), empathy and positive self-belief maybe we can then move forward as an adult in an adult's body and not someone who needs external validation or to blame others when our life doesn't turn out the way we wanted.

A massively tall order I think and one of the reasons I write this blog: to remind myself of the huge task I have taken on being a parent and also the huge responsibility I have in being a wife, a friend, a daughter, a sister or just being a human being interacting with others on this planet!!!!

Anyway go and watch the TED talk -How to raise successful kids - without over-parenting - and consider watching Brene Brown about blame here and Natasha Devon about mental health in schools via my blog here.

Friday, 1 July 2016

#30dayswild - last day & going forward

Well, my last day didn't quite go to plan because my mobile phone suddenly died so I had to take it to the EE shop and lost my ability to take any photos. Luckily I have a camera but unluckily it was flat!!

Soooooooooo I have:

put together a photo of pictures that I haven't publish before but are from the last 30 days

Done my garden design base map which is for my permaculture design which I mentioned at the beginning of the challenge.

I have learnt most of my plants in my garden and I have added the ones I want to keep to this base map so I now know what I am working with.

It was good to see that most of the things that I want to keep in my garden have been added on purpose over the years since my Permaculture Design Couse (PDC)

There is a lot of work still to do but it is going well and I will be planting my tomatoes, squash and day lily plants tomorrow.

I have also started observing the sunshine that reaches which parts of my garden. This is a part of my garden design so I know where there are risks of frost, shade, too much sun, etc. I need to catalogue these properly but here are some photos from 09:30 on a June morning.

The other thing I have been doing is sorting out my internal house wilderness!! I have way too much stuff which is not being used properly.

As part of my permaculture journey, I have been challenging myself to a minimalist month every 4 months. A minimalist month is where you get rid of 1 thing on the 1st of the month; 2 thing on the 2nd of the month; etc to 30 things on the 30th of the month (read more about it here). I have combined this with the idea that if you can pick up a thing and respond to the question "does this bring me joy or enhance my life" with no then I get rid of it (here is a photo of some of the stuff that I got rid of in Feb.)

This last day of the challenge my children joined me and we took 4 bags worth of unneeded stuff to the charity shop and I sold 2 things to others who will get far more use out of them than me.

I know that I spend a lot of time every day tidying my house; dealing with clutter; losing things or misplacing stuff and having to find them, etc. If I can re-distribute the things that I don't need then I am going to waste a lot less of my time with these sorts of things.

Then I can use that time for something more beneficial such as #staywild!!

This challenge has been amazing and I have learnt loads myself and from the wonderful people on the facebook page. I will definitely be doing this challenge next year and would recommend it to everyone.

And here is the last picture I managed to take of the wilderness encroaching on the York City Walls before my phone broke.

Thursday, 30 June 2016

#30dayswild day 29 - keep trying

Today was all about confidence and to keep trying and learning more. I have discovered over the last month is that perseverance is key whether it be with taking photos, drawing, gardening, trying to become more observant in this massively busy world or whatever else.

I have taken photo after photo; spent hours trying to video bees, birds, insects, etc.; tried sketching, tried sketching again.

My husband has set up his time lapse camera in our woodland so many times with no result but he keeps trying just in case he gets that magical shot.

For example, this photo of the York railway station framed by trees was the 3rd photo I took because I wanted to get the clock visible through the trees but the wind kept blowing!!

I took a landscape of the water on spider's web but it didn't show the water as well as the one above in portrait. As long as you are enjoying yourself or are getting something out of the experience it is worth it. All the 'failures' are worth it because you might get that magical shot or you learn something about yourself. I have discovered that my phone camera and camera have features on them that I wasn't even aware of before this challenge started.

I gave myself permission to experiment.
I gave myself the time to explore what I like about photos.
I gave myself time to find out more about the equipment I use for photos.
I decided to stop comparing myself to others - I don't have a fancy camera and, to be honest, if I did I am not going to take in on walks to work or taking my children to activities: I am just going to use my phone. My phone has limits so I worked with that.
I gave myself permission to take a little more time over observing my surroundings.
I gave myself permission to take a little more time to walk somewhere so I could observe and take photos or videos.
I took the time to explore different routes to places so I could explore more of the wonderful city in which I live.
I pushed beyond my comfort zone to try my hand at sketching.

I am sure there are many other things but these are the ones I can think of right now.

So today when I got home from town I got my lovely Caran d'Ache pencils, a 'how to draw insects' book and headed off to my friend's house to try my hand at drawing in colour.

It seems weird but I was more worried about the colouring than the sketching because whenever I have done any drawing it has usually been sketching in pencil or pen. I always feel I should leave a picture there and not 'ruin' it.

However the #30dayswild community on facebook gave me the boost I needed to give it a go and here is the result!! It's not perfect but it is mine and it has inspired me to keep having a go.