Designing my next steps using natural cycles – The design process

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.

IMG_8529

I will now go through each phase in more detail.

IMG_8530

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.

IMG_8531

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 action my ideas, cope with very physical days, think logically and feel full of enthusiasm. I have lots of energy and feel confident and social.

IMG_8532

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.

IMG_8533

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.


IMG_8527

Crone phase – REFLECT
Design tools that require quiet reflection and deep thought. 
Observations, reflections, 6 thinking hats, evaluations and tweaks to a design.

 


IMG_8528

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 putting ideas into action.

 


IMG_8525

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.

 


IMG_8526

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.

 

 

 

Influences March – Oct 2014

IMG_2656

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.

IMG_4690

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.