Influences Nov 2014- May 2015

Today sees me finally getting around to posting the third installment of my ‘Influences’ posts. This post covers what I have been up to over the past 7 months. During this time the Diploma designs that I have been working on are, My health and well-being and South Leicester food group. I have also been busy with running Muddy Boots allotment playgroup and training as a Forest School Leader. 

COURSES AND WORKSHOPS

The six month health and nutrition programme that I started last summer called ‘Eat smile live’ came to an end in December. I also did a 30 day Spring cleanse with the same company during April and May. I learnt loads and made lots of new meals and have sustainably changed my diet for the better.

I took part in the Vegan January challenge, attending various events locally and being part of the FB forum. I managed the transition from Veggie to Vegan pretty easily and I am still eating a diet that is around 90% vegan to date.

I am still involved in helping to facilitate the PDC in Leicester. I did some of the publicity for the event and designed this poster. perm flyer with logos jpeg

 

I attended the first three PDC sessions but have pulled back a little from helping out over the next few months due to being rather overwhelmed with other work and short on time. I hope to get more involved again after the summer holidays.

I began my Level 3 Forest School Leader training in March and am loving it. The course takes around a year to complete and involves practical taught sessions, practical assessments, lots of written assignments and the facilitation of 6 sessions of Forest school. It is taking up a lot of my time and head space, I plan on using Permaculture to help me to plan my 6 sessions and a taster session I have planned for June. I have wanted to do this course for many years so am thrilled to have made a start. The photo shows us all looking exhausted at the end of our tools, knots and den making assessment day.

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I attended a two day Outdoor first aid course in April. It was a requirement of my Forest School training course, but was actually very interesting and useful for lots of areas of my life. I spend a night away from home, staying in a tiny room in a youth hostel, which was a real change for me, I have hardly spent a night away from my children or husband in 9 years!

EVENTS

This week I went on a wild food walk in a local Arboretum organised as part of National Vegetarian week. It was a lovely day and I saw lots of familiar faces there including some people who I’d studied Permaculture with over the years. The event re-inspired me to make the most of wild greens and I discovered some new uses for edibles in my garden, some of which I had previously considered to be weeds.

I attended the Permaculture Diploma accreditation of Reevsie. I was on his peer accreditation panel. After watching his presentation we had to discuss his designs and provide him with feedback. It was an interesting experience and great to see Reevsie complete his Diploma.

I am meeting regularly with six other families as part of the South Leicester food group  (I really need to come up with a more catchy name for this!) We have a shared meal, the kids play together, we share recipes and we order from Suma. The ordering process needs more work as it is rather long-winded currently. I am working on a diploma write-up about this group. Its been lovely connecting with a group of people, some of who are new friends for me and my children. We had a lovely day together recently enjoying good food, good company, and good weather! IMG_6668

I have taken part in three muddy runs, The Wolf Run in November, The Reaper in March and The Iron Run in May. Each of these invlved a 10KM run, lake swims, obsticles, mud pits and loads of fun. It is like being a kid again and I would recommend it to anyone wanting to find motivation for inproving their health and fitness. I have another run scheduled in for two weeks time, this time taking along my sister, I can’t wait! 11206608_10152818719262045_7253652698380650693_o

GUILDS

I set up a guild group at then end of 2014, especially for people who wanted to guild on weekday daytimes. Lots of the other local guilds are evenings and weekends and these times are not possible for me. We met up three times and chatted and ran through the four questions. The group seems to have rather fizzled out currently. I was a little fed up of being the person pushing for it to happen, so decided to sit back and see if anyone else made the effort. They haven’t! I am so busy at the moment that I can’t take on the leadership of the group so will let it do dormant for a while and see what happens in the autumn when people typically have more time for reflection.

JOBS

I taught two three day Photography workshops in December and January to year 8 and year 7 students. That was good fun as always. I have recently started one-to-one teaching a teenager on the Autistic spectrum. I see her every monday and we take photographs, use the darkroom,visit the museum and galleries and are planning a photography exhibition together. She is fantastic and I really enjoying the calm pace and responsive way that I need to interact with her.

My Muddy Boots Outdoor playgroup is going from strength to strength. I put the price up this year and I finally take home a little money! This feels great after doing it totally voluntarily for 3 years. I am fully booked with a long waiting list so am exploring the idea of running a second weekly session. IMG_6620

BOOKS

My obsession with healthy cook books continues. I get a lot of enjoyment from a shiny new cookbook! I am cooking lots from the books below and feel I am finally beginning to master the art of meal planning! IMG_6678 IMG_6679 IMG_6680 IMG_6681 IMG_6682

I have not been able to continue helping out with the gardening club at my children’s school this year. I am too busy and I also felt rather under valued there. I have so many skills to offer the school but I am not willing to give these away for free forever! I enjoyed spending time there but have realised that if I spread myself too thinly, then all aspects of my life suffer. I can’t do everything all the time, so sadly I declined to help out this year. Maybe another year I can resume my work at school, hopefully in a respected and paid role next time around. I enjoyed reading this book below and would love to design a school garden one day. Maybe I will do this as a fantasy design?  IMG_6677

This book was on my Christmas list and I really enjoyed it. I loved the way the chapters were divided up like zones and the recipes look interesting. IMG_6676

I have had a quick flick through this but not read it cover to cover yet. I have pretty much decided that I don’t want to teach PDC’s, at least not to adults. I don’t feel I have the depth of knowledge. I am very interested in the idea of doing a PDC for teenagers, children or family groups, so will keep this idea bubbling away on the back-burner and see what comes of it in the future. IMG_6674

I have been going through a bit of a desert island phase lately. I re-read all three of Lucy Irvine’s books. Castaway is one of my all time favourites. I am learning about den making, knot tying, firelighting etc at FS training, so it was interesting to read about these skills in real life or death situations! I also watched The Island with Bear Grilles and enjoyed that a lot. I think I would cope on a desert island as long as I had a good supply of water, plenty of coconut trees and somewhere comfortable to sleep! IMG_6673

My health and wellbeing design – LEARN

A really important part of this design for me is to educate myself about health and wellbeing. So I have added ‘L’ for Learn to the design process acronym  SADIMET Making it now SLADIMET. I wanted to find information and inspiration from a variety of sources to draw on to develop my design. I love learning new things and wanted this design to give me the inspiration to continue expanding my knowledge.

One of the first thinking tools that I found useful was The circle of life. This divides your life into twelve important areas. They are; spirituality, creativity, finances, career, education, health, physical activity, home cooking, joy, social life, home environment and relationships. You grade how successful you feel your life is in each area by plotting a point on the circle. The centre of the circle is’ terrible’ and the edge of the circle is ‘wonderful’. The resultant image gives you a visual indication of areas that may require your attention or work.

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So from this activity I noted that four main areas that required my attention were home cooking, physical activity, spirituality and career/finances. I did some initial work on trying to link all four areas into this design, but eventually decided that career/finances, was too separate from the other three and really required a design all of its own. I am working on creating a poly-income for myself, so will definitely be coming back to address this area of my life in due course.

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I used the twelve ‘circle of life’ headings to begin a brainstorm for my Zone 00 design. I looked at each area again, just in case I had missed anything and to spark off new ideas. This was a very useful exercise and I would recommend it to anyone wanting to make positive changes in their life and not really knowing where to begin.

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A lot of my learning came through the 6 month course that I undertook ‘Eat, smile, live’. It was carried out via regular videos and link sent to me. There was also a lively Facebook forum created where all the students on the course could share ideas and ask questions of the tutor and each other. I learnt loads about wholefoods and healthy lifestyle attitudes. I have lots of new ingredients in my pantry now and new recipes under my belt. I have met a network of people on a similar path and made new online and real-life friends. I have cooked healthy lunches for friends and helped other people learn more about improving their lives through making healthy choices. I can see how this knowledge links very naturally with my work around food growing. So I feel this will help me with future career options too.

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I brought a few new books to help me find out more about wholefoods, veganism and healthy eating and to inspire me to try new recipes. I used Graham Burnet’s new book “Vegan permaculture’ and found it very inspiring and helpful. Following are photos of some of my other favourite books.

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As well as writing this blog, I love to read other people’s blogs too and probably spend far too much doing exactly that. Here are some of the most useful blogs that I bookmarked and have returned to time and time again.

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I joined the local Vegan challenge for January 2015. I attended a few of their meetings and social events. I ate a fully Vegan diet during January and am still 90% vegan now, but I have begun having honey in my tea again. I love bees and feel that as long as they are being kept in an ethical manner, then bee-keepers are helping rather than harming the planet. So sweet tea is back in my life thank goodness!

 

My health and wellbeing design SURVEY

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BACKGROUND TO THE DESIGN

I have been working on a diploma design since early summer 2014 about my health and well-being. I wanted to do a design at this stage of the diploma that was about me and improving my life. I have learnt that in order to head out and make positive change in world, you first need to have your own life well-managed and running smoothly. I have also learnt that my children are only as happy as their least happy parent, so to help my household be happy, smooth and successful, any change needs to begin with myself and work outwards.

To help me begin the design process I looked at zoning in terms of my life. I used the principles involved in zoning that are normally applied to gardening. The areas you interact with most are located directly outside your backdoor, such as herb pots. Moving out in stages to places visited less regularly located further away from your house. IMG_5500

This is how I classified Zones in relation to my life; Zone 00 myself, Zone 0 my family, Zone 1 my house, Zone 2 my garden, Zone 3 my friends, Zone 4 my community and Zone 5 the wider world.

I then looked at the frequency of use for each of these zones. I also noted down all of my ideas for diploma design projects into the correct zone. Finally I wrote in the circle in pen designs I have already undertaken and in pencil ideas for designs. I wanted to ensure an even spread across all the zones to provide a balanced approach in my diploma journey.

The design I am currently working on, My health and wellbeing design,  falls into Zone 00- MYSELF. It seems important to address the centre of the circle at this stage in my diploma studies, to give me more energy to commit to other designs that I have planned for the future that will take me away from the home and out into the wider world.

I find writing up a vital part of the design process, not only does it count towards my Diploma, it also allows me to re-think over all my actions and decisions and makes the design much clearer in my mind and therefore more likely to be implemented effectively.

For this design I have been using the design process SADIMET but I have added a ‘L’ for ‘learning’, so the process acronym becomes SLADIMET. I will be writing a post on each stage of this design process over the coming weeks. Today I will be looking at SURVEY.

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When using the design web for my last design, I found Vision, Helps and Limits to be useful places to begin. I feel all three of these tools fall within the SURVEY stage, so I have used them in this design too.

VISION – To design some tools that help me to achieve my aims of losing weight, improving my fitness levels, improving my food choices and providing me with some time to devote to myself.

HELPS- I am interested in this area, I enjoy cooking and love cook books and healthy eating blogs. I have a goal in mind of my friend’s wedding in June 2015, so that gives me a year to work on and implement this design, a good timescale I think. My husband is a health-nut. He cycles everyday and is running 8 marathons during 2014. He will encourage and help me with my exercising. He is supportive with the children. My brother and sister and both pretty healthy too, so I have plenty of people to discuss ideas with. My oldest friend is a nutritionist and currently on maternity leave, so she should have some time to advise me. The Eat Smile Live course I have signed up for should be very helpful and the FB forums another support network I can use.

LIMITS- I have a limited amount of free time each week to spend away from home exercising. I do not have much money to spend on this design, so for example joining a gym is not possible. I want any food related changes to be suitable for the whole family, I am not willing to cook multiple meals each day. The kids can be fussy eaters and may be unwilling to try unfamiliar foods. I am breast-feeding so can’t take a big cut in my calorie level. I love food and am not interested in a ‘diet’ that is about restriction or meal replacement. It has to be truly healthy to work for me. I must have goals to aim for to help with will-power. Any options taken have to fit with the Permaculture ethics of earth care, people care and fair shares.

SURVEY – I began the design in May 2014. I focus me and assist the design process I signed up to take part in ‘Eat, Smile, Live’ nutrition and lifestyle coaching 6 month plan. I completed a thorough health history, looking at my baseline weight, measurements, food diary and exercise levels,  health concerns and desired outcomes.

To briefly summarise the health history, I was 15 months post-natal with my third child.  11 stone eight pounds, breast-feeding and woken up 2-3 times each night, feeling tired, not exercising and feeling unfit. My diet was vegetarian, around 60% home cooked with 1 meal out and 1-2 take aways per week. I struggled to find time for cooking in the evenings. I drank 3-4 black coffees per weeks and lots of cups of decaf tea with sugar each day. I craved chocolate and salty curries. I drank alcohol 3 to 4 times per week, usually red wine or real ale. I enjoyed swimming and yoga but couldn’t fit these into my life. I wanted to make changes.

I set myself four goals to address;

1. To learn about nutrition and healthy foods for myself and my family

2. To exercise and improve my fitness levels

3. To lose the excess baby weight

4. To take time out for myself without feeling guilty

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Influences March – Oct 2014

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I intend to do a 6 monthly ‘Influences’ post, in October and April. Since my last post in April, I have been mainly focussing on two Diploma design, Muddy Boots Allotment Playgroup and my health and nutrition diploma design probably to be called The Wolf Run Challenge. So a lot of my influences have been to do with working with community groups  or health and nutrition.

COURSES, WORKSHOPS AND EVENTS

I continue to attend the Leicester PDC every month. I have been participating in the reflection and planning meetings for these sessions too. I have led aspects of the morning circle most months. I have tried to make my contributions fun, informative and enjoyable. I have certainly enjoyed being involved in this way and I feel quite confident talking in-front of the group.

I had a phone tutorial with my tutor Hannah Thorogood in May and attended a one day course with her in April about developing a poly-income. I am due to see Hannah again before Christmas for a design support tutorial.

I attended a ‘Forest Gardens for Forest Schools practitioners’ one day course in September as detailed in my previous blog post. sarah house

I attended numerous workshops over two days at the Permaculture Convergence in September. I especially enjoyed ‘Vegan permaculture?’ led by Graham Burnett, ‘Mindfulness in permaculture’ and I watched Jan Martin’s diploma accreditation event which was very useful as it was the first accreditation I had seen. IMG_4223

GUILDS 

I still have not settled into a permanent guild which is an ongoing challenge. I have however been guilding at the PDC sessions with Ann, Dani and Sam. This has been great. We have tried to set other dates independent of the PDC along with Reevsie and Ellen too, but so far we are failing miserably to find suitable times and dates to get together.

I have been using the 4 questions with my husband and in my own reflections.

PLACES VISITED 

I visited The Eden Project while on holiday in Cornwall in August, actually we enjoyed it so much, we went twice in a week! I took lots of photographs so will do a post about this visit soon. It was very heartwarming to see so many people there, all learning about gardening and sustainability while enjoying a family day out!

I visited The Lost gardens of Heligan. I have read a few books about the re-discovering and restoration of Heligan, so it was lovely to see this special place for myself. I was very impressed with the outdoor education facilities. There was a den making activity laid on. Poles, ropes, groundsheets and tarpaulins were provided and families were encouraged to build their own shelter. My children loved this. It was made especially magical due to a freak rainstorm that lashed down just as we completed our den. We took shelter and ate our packed lunch in the den. The kids were in heaven!

I have paid numerous visits to my local botanical gardens. They were the venue for a few of the PDC sessions and I have returned throughout the summer to stroll around, play with the kids and make use of the tea rooms. It is interesting to visit with my brother, he has recently done a RHS Horticulture course and has learnt lots of latin names of plants and trees, so he loves to educate me as we wander around!

ONLINE LEARNING

I continue to use the Permaculture Diploma Facebook group. I have posted various questions and problems there and been astounded by the time and love shown by people in their thoughtful responses.

I have created a Facebook page for Muddy Boots which I update with text and images after each session. I also use this to communicate with group members and promote each session.

Probably my biggest influence from June onwards has been through my participation in the Eat Smile Live community coaching health and nutrition six month plan. I receive frequent emails and you-tube videos teaching me about different aspects of healthy lifestyles focussing on eating a balanced whole foods diet. There is a lively online community attached to the course too via Facebook which is a fantastic resource. I have been signposts to lots of other blogs and websites for inspiration too.

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BOOKS AND MAGAZINES

IMG_4688 People and permaculture has been my bible while working on my Muddy Boots design.

IMG_4689I brought Looby’s new book at the Convergence and read it all quickly the following week!

IMG_2654I am always looking for ways to simplify my life and the clutter that rules my household. This book is one I return to time and again for guidance and inspiration.

IMG_2653I try to protect my children from the negative influences of the modern world as much as possible while they are so young. It is not an easy task.

IMG_2652I really want to train as a forest schools teacher. Please universe, show me how this would be possible!

IMG_2651Fantastic cookbook used as the main reference book for my Eat Smile Live course.

IMG_2650IMG_2649IMG_2647More inspiration from the local library

IMG_2655This book was interesting as it talked about the importance of HOW you eat rather than WHAT you eat. Lots in here about slowing down and mindfulness, which currently interests me a lot.

IMG_4687IMG_4686My backcopies of Permaculture magazine, along with Country living and the Green Parent continue to be a source of inspiration. My husband would love me to get rid of them, but I say no! They are a useful resource and I genuinely do refer back to the quite often for ideas for planting, cooking, natural parenting and seasonal celebrations.