My health and wellbeing – Tweak and update.

My health and wellbeing design has been ticking along for approaching four years now. Some of the tools I designed have been very useful in my life and are still regularly used (the weekly blackboard planner) Some are used occasionally (meal planner) and some are now obsolete as my weekly schedule changed over the years (the exercise planner) and have been replaced by other designs and systems that are more fit to purpose. My idea of what health and wellbeing means for me has changed and developed over the years too.

My health and wellbeing is still very much on the agenda, as it should be for everyone! The purpose of this blog post today is to update with where I am now and share some of the tools that are currently working well for me. Some of these tools i’ve designed myself, others are adapted from various sources and some are purchased.

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Towards the end of 2016 I read a great book called ‘The desire map ‘ by Danielle LaPorte. Part of the book is a workbook and helps you to plan your year ahead around how you want to feel or your ‘core desired feelings’. I’ve found this a very helpful model to make planning really reflect what you WANT to do rather than just what you NEED to do. So much of my updated health and wellbeing work is structured by my core desired feelings for 2017 which are

CLARITY, VITALITY, BALANCE, IN TUNE AND THANKFUL.

I spent a long time deciding on these words, they are very meaningful to me and link to elements, directions and spirituality. I’m not going to go into much detail here about them, but feel its important to share the following.

In Tune – Feeling connected and grounded – Earth – North

Vitality – Feeling uplifted and positive – Air – East

Clarity – Looking forward, making plans, making things happen – Fire – South

Thankful – Looking back, feeling in the flow of life – Water – West

Balanced – The centre of everything, holding it all together – Spirit/ self

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I thought I’d make a list of all the tools that I am using and look at how interconnected they all are across the 5 core desired feelings.

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To gain clarity about how I use the tools I have laid out how I weave health and wellbeing work into my life at various levels, daily, weekly and monthly.

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Here is an example of my daily and weekly planning. I try to make this about all the CDF, so it’s not just work but also exercise, where I am in my cycle, seeing friends etc – thus keeping me balanced.

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This is a monthly check in page from my planner. The focus notes are from my Oracle card pulls and the big goals are work and life related, giving me clarity and keeping me focussed. img_5275

This is a planner that I created and trialled for January. It brings a lot of my other tools together into one place so its easy to quickly glance at and keep sight of what I should be doing and why. I’ve laminated this so that it can be used over and over again and adapted as needed.

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This is part of a monthly reflection sheet I fill in for the balance club, an online group I am a member of. I like this as its simple and pretty quick to compete. I keep all of these reflections in a folder so that its easy to refer back to and see myself making progress on various areas of my health and wellbeing over the months.

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So you can see, my health and wellbeing designs have evolved and changed, taking on influences and inspiration from other sources outside of Permaculture over the years.

I thought at this stage I should check back in on the ethics and principles of permaculture to ensure that this is still a permaculture design, not only for the purpose of passing my diploma, but also as a way of refocusing myself on permaculture and pulling it back into my life. So here we go; permaculture-principles

EARTH CARE – I try to consider earth care around how I purchase my food i.e local produce, grow my own, bulk deliveries to cut own on pollution. I try to care for and connect with the earth by walking, exercising and spending time outdoors everyday. I work outdoors teaching others all about earth care. I notice and tune into the cycles of nature, the moon and cycles with my own body. I use natural skin care products and essential oils that honor the earth rather than deplete it.

PEOPLE CARE – This is very much about self-care for me in the design and I’m not feeling guilty about that! My H&W design has self care and self-love at the core of it. I try to care for others too, by taking care of myself it makes me a better mum, wife, relative and friend to everyone around me. I am setting a good example for my children.

FAIR SHARES – I often share details with friends and family of things I’ve learnt from doing this design. I am a member of numerous online forums where we help each other, sharing advise, support and ideas. I share my skills and experience in my business. One of the primary reasons for beginning this design was that as a mum of 3, I’d put my needs last for many years to the point when I felt depleted, unhealthy and resentful. So my H&W design helped to re-address this balance and ensure I had a fair share of time and energy  directed towards myself.

I thought I’d pull 3 principles at random and reflect on how my health and wellbeing designs link in with them.

INTEGRATE RATHER THAN SEGREGATE – The designs and tools that I use to ensure my H&W stays on a good path are fully integrated into my life and the are integrated with each other also.

OBTAIN A YIELD – My H&W does give me lots of yields, better health, a fitter body, fantastic foods, more mindfulness, more peace, guilt free time for myself, new learning, clarity in my business, better work/life balance.

DESIGN FROM PATTERN TO DETAIL – MY H&W design does this really well I think. I have broad overarching patterns like ‘set 3 most important tasks each morning’ and ‘set monthly goals’  and ‘exercise 3 times each week’ I then fill in the detail effectively. For example today my 3 MIT’s were 1. Do my H&W update on the blog. 2. Take the kids to swimming and climbing’ 3. respond to MB booking enquiries. I add detail each Sunday about how I will fulfil my exercise 3 times each week goal, This week it was 1. swimming with the kids. 2. yoga classes. 3. Gym session and induction on the new machines

So in concluion, yes this is still a design that is in line with permaculture and it is working well for me right now. I’m very open to keep on adapting and tweaking the tools that I use to benefit my H&W over the years. I now feel I have tools on hand to help me keep my life in balance and heading in a healthy direction.

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My health and wellbeing design – Evaluate and Tweak

I began this design 18 months ago in May 2014. Since then I have learnt so much and made a lot of progress along the path to wellness, acceptance and happiness. To evaluate the design, I must first look back at what my initial aims were. This was my initial vision and reasons for taking on this design project;

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.

During the design process, these aims were refined and finally set as follows.

1. To plan balanced and health-giving foods for myself and my family.

2. To fit exercise and me-time into my life regularly

3. To continue expanding my knowledge of health and to set myself regular challenges.

 

So did I manage to fulfil my aims and visions? What designs did I create? Did I use them and were they successful? 

The main designs I created were as follows;

  1. A weekly food planner. I tried various methods of food planning and this is the one I finally settled on that is working for me now. The heading of soup, rice, pasta etc remain the same every week and I fill in the details of what I’d like to cook in each category. This method of working from pattern to detail has really helped me not to feel overwhelmed at the task of deciding what to cook. I often choose one cookery book each week and add a number of new recipes from it to my weekly planner. This keeps me learning new recipes and keeps our food interesting and varied. This works really well, but only if I find the time to update it on a sunday evening. I probably use this planner about half of the time but I do hope to build up to using it more often as it really helps with shopping, food planning and simplifying my decision-making in the evenings. IMG_0111
  2. A weekly activity/food/exercise planner. This is drawn up on a huge blackboard I have painted onto my kitchen wall. I update it every sunday evening to plan the week ahead. I don’t always use the ‘dinner’ column, some weeks it works better for me to have flexibility about which meals I cook on which days, allowing me to react to unexpected events like kids coming over after school for dinner. IMG_0112
  3. A wheel of the year challenge planner. Each month is given a Permaculture principle as a theme and a challenge to participate in. This worked well until June, then I have floundered a little with this one. I found my available time to work on permaculture diploma projects has shrunk significantly over this year due to other work commitments. So the task of finding out about and writing a blog post each month on a principle rather fell to the bottom of my to-do list. I have tried to get back on track and hope to complete the challenge for the year albeit in a rather shortened version than I had envisaged. IMG_0113
  4. A calendar to keep track of exercise challenges and events coming up and participated in. I have updated this regularly with the main exercise activities that I have done. It is gratifying to see these all listed in one place and see how busy I have been!
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So did these designs help me to fulfil my aims? PNI evaluation.

1. To plan balanced and health-giving foods for myself and my family. 

POSITIVE – my knowledge of health is far improved from where it was 18 months ago. I eat a mainly vegan, wholefoods diet now and feel that this suits my lifestyle and body type. I have more energy and feel fit and strong, I have not lost weight but feel my body is more muscular now. I enjoy cooking and have made some really positive changes around how we buy food and manage our food budget. I have thrown away my scales and am on my way to loving and accepting my body as it is now rather than pining for what it used to be before I was a mother.

NEGATIVE – I don’t always use the planning tools that I have created due to time constraints, laziness or just forgetting about them! I feel more organised and the week runs more smoothly when the tools are used. So I will be making a concerted effort to use them more in the future. My children, particularly the younger two don’t always eat what I make them. They can be fussy and so self-limit their diets, which can be rather frustrating for us all. I will keep on offering them tiny bites of these health-giving foods in the hope that they will come around eventually.

INTERESTING – This aspect of this design led me onto another design (Leicester food group) about how I buy and plan my foods. See this design write-up for more details.

2. To fit exercise and me-time into my life regularly

POSITIVE – I found a cheap gym to join and use it on a weekly basis. I attend a boot camp class, yoga, use the gym and swim each week. I found a local dance class and take part in a tap and a ballet class each week which is fantastic fun. I have taken part in lots of running challenges, muddy runs and 10km cross country runs. I try to fit running into my life and really enjoy the clear head space and quiet time that this gives me. We take a lot of walks as a family and are encouraging the kids to pursue their sporty interests of running, bike-riding, swimming and climbing. I have been on a few date-nights with my husband, but not enough!

NEGATIVE – My exercise opportunities are at the bottom of the priority list. If Joe has to work late, then I can’t attend. So Ideally I’d like to find another childcare option as a fall-back option for next year so that my needs don’t always come last. The same goes for ‘me-time’ This has also slipped down my list. I have been super busy this year studying and building up my business. I love these activities, but they take every available moment that I had. So time away from the children is generally spend in front of the computer working hard and time for exercise and relaxation is squeezed.

INTERESTING – I have noticed that if I prioritise exercise and time out for myself, it makes me a better parent and partner as I am happier and calmer. I need to remind myself of that and grab that 30 minute run or long bath to unwind rather than tidying up the playroom. I think every parent has this internal debate about want versus needs and where to draw the line.

3. To continue expanding my knowledge of health and to set myself regular challenges. 

POSITIVE – I have taken part in 3 thirty day challenges and a 6 month health coaching course. I have learnt a lot and made positive changes around my health. I want to keep learning more and making improvements. I am enjoying the journey. I enjoy having regular small challenges to work towards and this gives me momentum.

NEGATIVE – The negative here really just echo the ones mentioned in the above areas, resistance from family members and lack of time.

INTERESTING – I have met some interesting people along the way and its fascinating how they are fitting into my social circle. My health coach now attends my outdoor playgroup along which her young daughter and some people I met online at FB food forums have now become good friends.

TWEAKS

  1. Strive to use the tools (that I created as part of this design) every week
  2. Set myself more challenges for 2016 to keep up the momentum
  3. Come up with an alternative fall-back childcare option
  4. Work in more free-time to my weekly schedule and spend this on me-time. quality time with my husband or one to one with my children.
  5. Keep on making improvements on what I cook and how we purchase food
  6. Make improvements to the children’s packed lunches and aim to eliminate these few processed foods that we do still buy

South Leicester Food Group. Diploma design write up 2

Our second order from Suma was delivered last week. I took delivery at my house this time and hosted a lovely get together last Wednesday. We ate good food, enjoyed good company and wonderful weather. The system was easier to manage this time around but still needs some work.

This post brings me up to date on developments with this design and looks at the E for Evaluations and D for Design and I for Implementation of OBREDIMET.

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After the first delivery we discussed the key functions that we wanted the group to fulfil.

1. For the ordering of items to be straightforward, manageable and time efficient.

2. Delivery to be easy to receive and to be able to to divide up people’s orders with ease.

3. For the group to meet up regularly to discuss and place orders and share meals.

4. To expand the remit of the group to include recipe sharing and group cooking days.

5. To share useful tools, such as meal planners around the group.

I looked at each key function in turn and considered multiple ways or systems of achieving that function. I then reflected on that possible system using the PNI tool. See the two photographs below.

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As a group we decided that we would trial various elements of the systems detailed above and reflect on how we get on. I have begun a table to evaluate each design and will continue this for each design we trial until we come up with something that works well for everyone. The evaluation looks at how well or badly each design worked in term of the 5 key function, a PNI and against Earth care/ People care/ Fair shares (the 3 ethics of Permaculture)

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As well as dividing up the order, we had a lovely ‘bring and share’ dinne with all the kids included as it was half term. We have 12 kids between us, 10 of which were present. IMG_6666IMG_6668IMG_6667

The children played together happily, dressing up, putting on a play, jumping on the trampoline and running around in the sunshine. That was very helpful in allowing us adults to divide up the food order and do our reflections. IMG_6671

 

I will post about this design again in late summer or autumn when we have had time to try out a few more designs and reflect on them. I will aim to complete the OBREDIMET design system and look at the M for Maintainance, E for Evaluation and T for Tweaks. I will also do a personal reflection on this design.

South Leicester food group. Diploma design write up 1

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BACKGROUND TO THE DESIGN

I have been wanting to do a design around how I plan, buy, prepare and share foods with my family and friends. This carries on from the my health and wellbeing design that I have been working on for the past year. I have learnt so much from the previous design and met some great people along the way. I have been speaking with some of these people about setting up a food group concerned with making bulk food orders and coming together regularly to share meals, recipes and ideas around healthy eating.

I have set up a group with six other women, all parents of young children like myself. The diets eaten by this group of women are quite diverse, encompassing vegans, veggies, meat eaters, wholefoodists, grow-you-own gardeners and keen cooks. What we all have in common is a great love of fresh healthy wholefoods and an interest in feeding our families the best possible diets from an ethical source and at a price that we can afford.

So this design aims to look at how to create a sustainable design for our group to order food in a co-operative manner and to meet up regularly to plan this and share meals. Most of my designs to date have been long, drawn out processes in the planning and writing up stages. I wanted this design to be different so have set myself a limit of ten hours writing up and ten hours meeting with the group to plan. I used the design process OBREDIMET as I am comfortable with it already and plan on using design tools that I am familiar with to use my time efficiently.

OBSERVATIONS

Via our Facebook group and over informal discussions at meet ups we discussed our current shopping habits, the changes we wanted to make and why we had wanted to be involved in this group. I pulled this info together in the brainstorms shown below.

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BOUNDARIES 

The group was formed with the intention of ordering from Suma http://sumawholesale.com We decided to jump straight in and place our first order deliberately without applying a design to how we ordered. People were in a hurry to order and I thought it would be interesting to be able to see the difference in ease of ordering with and without a consciously applied design process. The first order was placed in early April and we met up again late April to reflect on how we had found the process so far and plan for the future. I used the fact-finding tool ‘Gives, gains, grins and groans’ ( which I had used before in a Muddy Boots design after originally adapting it from a tool suggested by Looby Macnamara in her fab book, People and Permaculture) to find out lots of info in a quick and easy manner about how people had found the process of ordering. This info was then reformatted as boundaries and resources.

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EVALUATION 

I then carried out a brief evaluation of what we/I had done so far and made a plan for what to do next.

A brief evaulation of how the first order had gone was also carried out with the group and is reflected upon in boundaries and resources. To summarise, the food is great, but the ordering took hours and dividing up individual orders on delivery day was a nightmare.

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DESIGN

We decided that the design should have five key functions; the details of how to make each goal SMART is still a work in progress at this point.

1. For the ordering of food from Suma to be straightforward to manage and for responsibility to be shared out amongst group members.

2. For the delivery be easy to receive and manageable to divide up on delivery day.

3. For us to meet up regularly (once a month?) to place orders/ collect items/ discuss ideas and have socials with shared meals. (I wonder about also introducing the idea of guilding with this group of wonderful women?)

4. To expand the potential of the group to include shared group cooking days, apple juicing, jam making etc

5. To share useful resources around the group (such as meal planners, recipes, book recommendations etc)

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The next thing I will do is look at functions and elements and PNI possible ways of achieving the key functions.

 

The Permaculture Convergence

Two weeks ago I spent a fun weekend at Gilwell Park, just outside the City of London, at the Permaculture Convergence. The days were packed full of workshops, diploma accreditations, talks, walks and activities. The highlight of the weekend for me was a visit to Organic Lea, a food growing co-operative based 1 mile away from the convergence. We waked there through the woods taking in amazing views of London shimmering on the horizon. Organic Lea supplied all the food for the weekend, it was delicious, local organic and seasonal. I left the convergence exhausted but inspired and keen to crack on with my diploma. Here are 10 photos of my favourite from the weekend. IMG_4218 IMG_4221 IMG_4225IMG_4224 IMG_4228 IMG_4230 IMG_4232 IMG_4235 IMG_4239 IMG_4242

The Gilwell Oak

Jan Martin and Looby Macnamara at Jan’s accreditation event

Joe and little S enjoying the food

Lunch on the lawn

Home for the weekend

Tractors and face paints

Emerging out of the forest

Landmarks of the London skyline in the distance

Organic Lea’s crops, planted to follow contour lines

Organic Lea’s site map

Wild Garlic

IMG_0930Some of the first green shoots to appear in my garden are those of Wild garlic. As early as mid March I saw small, green, pointed fingers reaching for the sky. About ten years ago we stumbled across a huge patch of wild garlic in a local woodland. We had wandered off the beaten path, following our dog Frankie. We smelt the garlic before we saw it, it is such a distinctive smell and so pungent, especially if trampled under foot. We filled our pockets and feasted but then never managed to find the spot again.

IMG_1307Wild garlic growing with nettles and cleavers at the bottom of my garden.

Wild garlic is a relatively new addition to my garden. A friend of my mother has a front garden filled with wild garlic, the plants have multiplied over the years until the point where they have totally overtaken her garden and she wanted rid of them. My family and I happily took away buckets full of plants and carrier bags of leaves to make into pesto. (The pesto was delicious) I planted lots of her plants around the shady margins of my garden. It is typically a woodland plant , so happiest in cool, damp corners.

Last spring I was rather pre-occupied with a new baby boy to care for, so I left the wild garlic to its own devises. It turns out that was the ideal thing to do. as its best not to harvest leaves in the first year after planting or transplanting. This allows the plants to get established and provide a good crop the following year. My plants are now doing very well as we already have more leaves than we can use.It doesn’t keep well, so i have found picking just before use to be the best idea. I may try making pesto again and I am wondering if it would freeze well?

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I have been eating the wild garlic leaves for the last few weeks now, treating the plants in a cut and come again manner. I have been adding raw leaves to salads, stirring it into pasta sauces, finely chopping it and adding a lovely flavour to omelettes and, as my garlic breath will attest to, munching on the leaves straight out of the garden.

IMG_1026A lunchtime salad of rocket, spinach, peppers, sprouted seeds, haloumi and potatoes.

The plants will soon send up pretty star-like white flowers, these taste good too and look very pretty sprinkled over dishes. I am getting a lot of mileage from wild garlic and am glad to have such an early, pretty and tasty perennial in my garden.

Photos from this week

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Baby S turning one year old! (and turning into The Gruffalo)

Snowdrops

Crocus

Blowing bubbles

Ditto

More Snowdrops

Early Spring sunshine

Muddy paddling

Helebores brought inside

Planting my first seeds of the season

Washing drying outside

Rhubarb

All-in-one waterproof

Buds on the fruit trees

5 eggs everyday from our happy hens

Whoops, almost lost one!

Cheeky chap