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(meal planner) and some are now obsolete as my weekly schedule changed over the years (the exercise planner) and have been replaced by other designs and systems that are more fit to purpose.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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Muddy Boots garden re-design. CEAP. Apply Permaculture principles.

Apply Permaculture principles

I did the chart shown in the photo below. I looked at of my most likely design elements in relation to how they fitted with Permaculture ethics, 6 chosen principles, cost, time and practicality. This helped me to weed out ideas that were unethical or just too time/money consuming. It helped me to make decisions and left me with a refined list of elements to include in my design.

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Boundary – picket fencing with blackboard and pallet bug hotel and vertical planting.

Gardening – in low raised beds along the south and east edges next to the boundary.                                An area marked off for individual square foot gardens.                                                            A key hole bed created around the current strawberry patch

Bringing people together – Keep the current gazeebo, chairs and blankets arrangement but consider moving this to elsewhere in the site to create the best use of space

Free play – Create a multi-functional playspace out of pallets and fence posts                                         Make a new larger willow and hazel living den structure

Task led play– Refresh the play kitchen and sand pit. Add a mud pit. Consider where to place these. Add a waterplay area and a waterbut of hose pipe. Ensure the water run off it put to good use.


I then began designing by drawing out the key features to scale on post-it notes and moving them around on my base map. This was a very useful, simple and time effective way of trying out lots of ideas. I am not sure that any of these designs are quite right yet. I need to spent time in the space once the fencing is done and think hard about how people will move around the garden.

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South Leicester food group. Diploma design write up 3

The food group has been going well. We have sorted out the ordering system into a lovely easy to manage design now. We have just received our fourth order and the food is amazing. It’s mainly organic wholefoods. So I know that I am cooking nourishing foods for myself and my family and gradually crowding out the bad habits by having my cupboards and fridge full of the good stuff.

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I am using the OBREDIMET design system to work through this design. Today’s post will clarify the D for Design and look at the M for Maintainance, E for Evaluation and T for Tweaks. I will also do a personal reflection on this design.

DESIGNIMG_6803The photo above is a reminder of the functions we wanted the food group to serve

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 social 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 tools and resources around the group (such as meal planners, recipes, book recommendations etc

Reflections on all of these are below.

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IMPLEMENTATION, MAINTAINANCE, EVALUATION AND TWEAKSIMG_9728

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PERSONAL EVALUATION

Looking back over my thoughts at the beginning of the design process, I can see where this design has been successful. Looking at the ‘why do I want to be involved’ section of the brainstorm below sets out my aims quite clearly for this design.

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The following table looks at my personal aims and the wider aims of the group for this design taken from the brainstorm above. I have evaluated each of them and it shows me that this design has been successful.

WHAT WERE MY AIMS? DID I ACHIEVE MY AIMS? HOW?
To further my personal development around food that I started in ‘My health and wellbeing design’ Yes. I eat mainly vegan food now, much of which is organic and wholefoods. I feel far more knowledgable about what is healthy and what isn’t. Ordering from Suma

Ordering an Adel and Cole box each week

Growing lots of my own fruit and veg, especially perennial fruit crops.

Attending healthy eating festivals locally

Taking part in Eat smile live spring and autumn cleanses

Meeting useful and knowledgeable people

Talking with Andrea (naturopath) and Rochelle (Healthy living coach)

To gain control of my family food budget and improve planning in this area Yes. We now have a weekly budget which we are managing to stick to.

But I do aim to keep reducing the amount I spend each week and start adding essentials like loo roll and almond milk to my suma order.

£200 each 6 week Suma

£150 each 6 week abel and cole

£300 each 6 weeks local co-op, waitrose, aldi and farm shop.

Keeping a record of what I spend and limiting local shops/ supermarket spending to £50 per week.

To get great food at the best possible price Yes and No

It depends on where the quality/price spectrum you fall. I thing this food is great value for money as its mainly organic and real. It fills you up and keeps you healthy, but its not cheap.

Buying in bulk from suma and sharing with other in the group.

Buying seasonally

Looking for bargains and stocking up.

To spend time with people I like and who support my food choices Yes

We don’t all make the same food choices but are supportive of each other.

The group members

Eat smile live forums and FB

people who I’ve met.

To write-up a diploma design with a time limit of ten hours writing and ten hours meeting/ordering. Yes I have limited my write-up time. Not sure I’ve quite made it under the ten hours, but it’s definitely been a far quicker writing up process than any of the other designs I’ve worked on so far.
ADDITIONAL AIMS OF THE GROUP DID WE ACHIEVE OUR AIMS? HOW?
To develop a network of people who appreciate wholefood and can share heathy recipes.

To be part of a co-operative venture.

To have meet ups and shared meals with the group

Yes The group is fab
To get better at stock control and knowing what is in my pantry

To improve my meal planning

Yes, we all feel that we are getting there. Still work to do though. By planning ahead, meal planning, checking what we have before placing next suma order, not doing unnecessary shopping. No shopping week challenges where we eat up what we already have.
To use my purchasing power at ethical shops

To be buying good quality food in an affordable way

Yes We feel very happy with the ethics of Suma, abel and cole and the healthy food shops/ farm shops that we use.
To create less food waste Yes and no We are all more aware of throwing food away, especially if its expensive in the first place we are more likely to use up leftovers and limit portions to avoid waste/ However, having young children there is always waste. We all compost/ feed birds/ chickens with our scraps
To create a ‘new normal’ for my kids.

For my children to meet others who eat similar food to them.

Getting there My daughter especially finds it very hard to eat around school friends houses, so eating with the food group really helps. We also make an effort as a family to have lots of gatherings where people can eat our food, or ideally bring and share dishes do that everyone is exposed to new dishes.

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I will be continuing on this healthy eating path for ever. I am learning lots and loving the journey. Its made me feel so much better and stronger and more energetic. The food is bloody delicious too!

End of 2016 update– This design is still working for me in some ways but not in others. I still order from Suma with this group every 6 weeks or so. I now have a weekly fruit and veg box delivered from Riverford rather than Abel and Cole as I feel they are a more ethical company with better employee care and less gimmicks.

The Suma group has now grown to ten families. This growing process was not easy to negotiate. Some members wanted new people to join, others did not, some people wanted to keep it women only, others wanted men to join. Its been tricky and some feelings were hurt and toes stepped on. Now that there are 10 families involved, we never all order every time, that would be just too huge a delivery for any one household to receive. But it does seem to work out that whenever anyone wants to order, there are sufficient numbers to do so and take the total well beyond the minimum order.

The big negative for me of having a larger group, is that we rarely get together for our shared meals any more. Its become too hard to co-ordinate schedules and too many people to fit into our houses! As our children grow, people return to work, kids schedules fill up and its harder and harder to find the time to get together socially. That is a shame. But I have made some solid friendships within the group and tend to see four of the members on an individual basis now rather than on mass.

Doing this design has made a sustainable change in the way that I buy food and manage my pantry. I’m really happy with that outcome. This design has also taught me a lot about group dynamics and the importance of picking carefully who you want to form groups with! Its taught me a lot about how I myself am in groups, that I like to lead but then I can easily get burnt out when it becomes expected that I will lead. We’ve got better at taking turns and other people taking the initiative, so I feel the group will probably tick along quite smoothly now. Maybe some people will leave, maybe others will join as time rolls on but I think we can sustain these changes.