I am nearing the end of my time working on the permaculture diploma, so I thought it would be interesting to experiment with designing my own design process for one of my projects. I’m going to be using this design to re-access my skills and examine the next steps for my career.
My youngest child has just started school, so for the first time in eleven years, I am home alone without a preschool-aged child. It’s taking a bit of getting used to. I’m not planning on rushing into any changes, but it feels like a good time to take stock of where I am now in my career and try to see a way forward to where I’d like my career and life to be heading into the future. I’m going to be using my own design process to help me to achieve this. The remainder of this blog post will explain the design process that I’ve created, where the idea came from and how I propose to use this process to assist me in this design.
Nature is full of cycles, the changing of the seasons, the monthly cycle of the moon, the rhythm of the tides and the perpetual motion of time passing each day.
As a woman, I am also particularly aware of the major cycle within my own body, my menstrual period. In each of our monthly phases we change. We are different to how we were before. Our bodies and our minds work differently. We are cyclical, not linear. Feminine not masculine. If we use and embrace these cyclical differences, then we can find ways to use our cycles to our advantage.
I’ve been learning about this and tracking my cycle and how I feel in each phase for over a year now. I’ve tracked my cycle in a daily diary and via an app on my phone. I’ve discovered that how I show up in the world does change greatly, dependant on which phase I am in. So a next logical step is to try to tailor the work I do to best suit my phase. This design process hopes to explore that idea, help me plan for the future and consider how all this links in with the permaculture tools and processes I have been learning.
I will be creating and using my own design process which is a tweaked version of the Action learning cycle OBSERVE * THINK * DESIGN * DO
I have used a combination of the moon cycle, the season cycle and a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle as the basis for this design process.
So rather than, observe * think * design * do, My design process could be simplified to
REFLECT * PLAN * CREATE * REFINE
I looked at each weekly phase and considered how I felt, what I felt were advantages and disadvantages of each phase. I specially considered how I felt about my owrking life in each phase of my cycle. This inforation was taken from notes made in my diary over the course of a year. I also took inspiration from an online ‘Goddess retreat’ course by Jessica Mckinskey Hood and from books i’ve read including Love your lady landscape, Code Red and Witch‘ by Lisa Lister.
I will now go through each phase in more detail.
Days 1-6 is when I am menstruating. The Crone/ winter/earth/new moon phase.
For these days my focus is inwards, I’m good at reflective work, thinking deeply, planning, dreaming, letting go of the past. I need to ensure I am resting, providing self-care and allowing lots of quiet time at home.
Days 7-13 is my pre-ovulation phase. The Maiden, waxing moon, spring, air phase.
This is a really active phase for me. I can come up with lots of new ideas, cope with very physical days, think logically and feel full of enthusiasm. I have lots of energy and feel confident and social.
Days 14- 21 are my ovulation phase. The Mother, full moon, summer, fire phase.
I generally ovulate around day 15 and feel a difference before and after ovulation. I generally feel very social, outgoing, confident and resilient during these days.
Days 22 – 29 are pre-menstruation. The Sage, waning moon, autumn, water phase.
This phase gets a bad rep as women can feel moody, irritable and anti-social. But it does have lots of positives too, I find I am super organised, assertive, creative and good at solving problems during this phase. I need to allow myself some quiet days towards the end of this phase when my energy levels drop noticeably and I want to be alone.
So, how does all this relate to Permaculture? I thought that the different skills in each phase could be well suited to different stages of a permaculture design process. I set myself a task to think of all the design tools I could remember, write them out on scraps of paper and decide where they would be best placed in the monthly cycle.
Crone phase – REFLECT
Design tools that require quiet reflection and deep thought.
Observations, reflections, 6 thinking hats, evaluations and tweaks to a design.
Maiden phase -PLAN
Design tools that are active, physical and creative
Initial research, input/output analysis, wild design, zone and sectors, paste, designing and idea brainstorming and finding clarity.
Mother phase – CREATE
Design tools that are playful, fun, collaborative and social.
Client interviews, discussion groups, boundaries and resources, random assembly and web of connections.
Sage phase – REFINE
Design tools that focus in on details, make decisions and solve problems
Final decision-making, set smart goals, base maps, designing, create plans for implementation and maintenance, and financial planning and records.