For many people the sudden arrival of the Coronavirus Pandemic has meant significant changes in how we live our lives. As the weeks pass it is becoming more evident that in the UK, as in many other places in the world that we will be living with some level of “lockdown” situation for many more months, possibly longer.
From my own observations and listening to the stories of others, there are many similarities and parallels about life respecting the lockdown rules and managing the impacts of the overwhelming loss related to the pandemic, and my experience of being mainly housebound while living with long term illness over the last few years.
In the early months of my diagnosis with late stage Lyme Disease I used aspects of permaculture design to create a life that, although very different from my life prior to becoming seriously unwell, I could continue to thrive in. I have now easily been able to adapt these ideas to both enhancing my own experience of lockdown and also supporting others around me to be able to adapt as well as possible.
Here I share some of those ideas.
● I use The Design Web by Looby Macnamara from her book People and Permaculture (2012) to design the pattern of my days. I can really recommend spending some time on creating a template for this, which can then be used as the structure for each day to add detail to according to the different activities and priorities of each individual day.
● I spend time on a regular basis acknowledging the loss, grief and various emotional states associated with this, relating to how Covid 19 is impacting on our lives. Also how this can compound other loss in my life too. Gently accepting and reminding myself about the fact that fast changing sways of emotion are in fact grief and connecting with others about this can mean that the emotions don’t become overwhelming as often.
● Connection and integration with other people, (while physically distancing, but demonstrating social solidarity!) to support each other through the Pandemic, but just as importantly to focus and talk about other meaningful topics again to avoid being emotionally overwhelmed, is also a valuable tool.
● I use reflection a lot - a mini reflection at the end of each day, a more detailed one at the end of each week and then an in-depth time of reflection at each Earth festival. It really helps to have these periods of reflection with other people who know me well too, a bit like “life supervision”. Referring back to the daily pattern template above during the reflective time means that I can creatively make changes as needed on a regular basis. Regular reflection helps me to value my achievements however small, even on the most difficult days. Being able to identify potential for new projects or positive habits enables more flow and growth in my life too.
● Creating a journaling tool to record ideas, gratitude and event memories is a really positive strategy. The fast changing pace of the changes involved with the Coronavirus situation and the media responses, means that it can be difficult to focus on aspects of life not related to the crisis and this in turn can lead to feelings of being overwhelmed and potential burnout. Using the permaculture principle of catch and store energy, in making a physical space to record actions and thoughts really helps to focus on solutions and regenerative ways forward.
● I use the permaculture tool of Zoning to help to connect with the things in life which give me meaning, even though the ways I can do this are often very different from before. This means that I can decide on an activity based on any limitations that the effects of the Coronavirus lockdown are having on my life at any particular time. For example – one of my main projects on the go is the design and creation of a new edible garden. Zone 0 activity related to it is to have dedicated thinking/daydreaming/mind mapping time, Zone 1 to listen to a podcast or audiobook about edible gardening, Zone 2 to read a book or watch a video about edible gardening, Zone 3 to chat to a friend or on a forum about gardening, Zone 4 to actually spend some time on practical gardening activities and Zone 5 to visit other edible gardens/allotments in my local community.
● Over recent years there has been many studies demonstrating about how beneficial nature connection is to our physical, emotional and spiritual health. I designed ways in which I could connect with nature when my health was at its most difficult and I spent many months in bed. One of the most effective ways I maintained this essential part of my life was to create a space in my bedroom to display objects and other representations of patterns in nature. I wrote in more depth about this in this here . Although now, through significant improvements in my health, I have the privilege of being able to spend time in my garden and enjoy daily walks in my local park, I realise that not everyone has access to this either geographically and/or because of needing to self-isolate or shield because of Covid 19. Having an inside space dedicated to connection with nature, continues to be a constant vital aspect to my holistic wellbeing.
● Growing food is also something that gives me and many other permaculture practitioners really significant meaning in life – I’m really lucky to have the space and health to be able grow food in my garden now and as the Coronavirus lockdown commenced in March I started a design for my edible garden. Throughout the difficult times of my illness I was able to grow food on windowsills in the house – sprouted seeds and pulses, herbs and chilli plants – and I still do as these ways of growing give me fresh home grown food each day of the year which is hugely impactful to my holistic wellbeing.
● I timetable a regular space in each day to intentionally “pause” and take a break from whatever else is going on in the day. For me this means 10-15 minutes of grounding, through awareness of my senses and purposefully connecting to Earth – I also found this tool really useful to use at any time that feels overwhelming too. This short time away from whatever else is happening in my day nearly always enables me to regain a healthy sense of control and is helpful when changes are happening quickly, such has been the case with the Coronavirus crisis.
These are some of the life tools, inspired by permaculture, I have been using and adapting over the past few years to stay as holistically healthy as possible. I hope that you have found some inspiration here in my ideas for your own self-care in these times of Covid 19.
An edited version of this article also appears in Permaculture Magazine Autumn 2020 (No. 105) - If you have the financial means I can strongly recommend subscribing to this wonderful quarterly publication. As well as the magazine, Permaculture Magazine website has masses of free permaculture related content plus a wonderful YouTube channel
Sacred Earth Celebrations is the revised and updated version of Glennie Kindred’s bestselling book, Sacred Celebrations. Whether you are someone who is new to learning about Earth-based spirituality and living, or whether it’s already fundamental to how you pass through the cycles of our existence and Glennie’s book can truly enhance and deepen your experience of how to meaningfully celebrate and honour the cycles of the Earth.
Sacred Earth Celebrations is divided into three parts: ‘The Wheel of the Year’ introducing the Earth’s year through the solar cycle and the connections with the rhythms of the moon; ‘Celebration, ceremony and ritual’ with lots of ideas for individual or group events; and ‘The eight Celtic festivals’, where each of the quarter and cross quarter festivals are explored in detail. This includes how the festivals were understood and celebrated in the past, the underlying energies they hold, and how we can use this experience and flow to create our own meaningful rituals and celebrations now.
As with all Glennie’s books, Sacred Earth Celebrations is filled with the most beautiful drawings and charts alongside perfectly selected poetry by others. All this gives the reader opportunity to pause, reflect, plan and perhaps meditate at the natural breaks in the text.
Glennie’s book includes an abundance of ideas of how to engage physically, emotionally and spiritually with the cycle of Earth celebrations, including: celebrating on our own, in small groups, in our community, creating Sacred Spaces, activities with children, interacting with our gardens and other land, creativity through song, dance, art, craft... It’s like having the best box of tools. Glennie very much encourages our celebrations, ceremonies and rituals to reflect our own individuality and unique life circumstances. I finished the book feeling empowered by the range of ideas but also in the knowledge that following my own inspiration is incredibly spiritually regenerating and connecting too.
For those who use The Earth Pathways Diary or have read Letting In the Wild Edges, also by Glennie, this is the perfect accompaniment, furthering and enhancing the ritual and celebration elements of both.
I love this book. I’ve just read it from cover to cover, but like Glennie’s other books, it’s going to be one that’s at hand for the year round to read, absorb and utilise the relevant sections, as the Earth turns.
This book review is also published in Permaculture Magazine October 2014
I'm really excited to be starting a permaculture design for an urban garden at my new home. In this new series of monthly posts I will be sharing some of my journey through the design process in creating my garden.
Design Process - Permaculture Design Companion
This will be the first land based permaculture design I have embarked on in several years and I'm really looking forward to using Jasmines Dale's recently published book, Permaculture Design Companion, as my guide for this project. You can read the review I wrote about this great resource, here .
Garden Design pin board
I've been thinking about the design for my garden since I first realised I would be moving into my new home, about a year ago. I have found that using a notice/pin board in my kitchen to collect all my initial thoughts, ideas, visions and wishes about my garden design has been a really effective way of collecting, storing and regularly reviewing all this information, as well as providing a great focal point for discussion and ideas sharing with friends and family who visit my house.
This month I've also started undertaking some focused observations about how different sectors impact on the existing garden. I really like how sectors are explained in the #freepermaculture online course hosted by freepermaculture.com -
"In permaculture, the term sector refers to any natural or uncontrolled influence that moves through your design site. And through sector analysis, you can anticipate and enact design decisions that will mediate, mitigate, and improve how those uncontrolled influences affect your site. Sectors could be wind, water, weather...they can be economic, social, biological, or any combination of the above. Every sector has needs, resources, yields, wastes, and relationships that influence the whole system. "
Next month Im going to be creating a "to scale" base map of the garden as it is at present, in addition making some major decisions about the mature trees already in the garden. Sign up to my monthly newsletter to get further updates about how my garden design is progressing through 2020.
My Permaculture Illustrations on this new page on my site are offered free of financial cost, to use digitally in any regenerative change event or resource materials and marketing. Please just include a reference to my website with any use.
Some guidelines for Permaculture event information and marketing, for improving access to Permaculture for people with chronic illness and/or disability, and people who are neurodivergent.
This post is also available as a PDF here
Earlier this year I published an article on my blog - Accessing Permaculture for people with chronic illness and/or disability - positives, challenges and suggestions for a more inclusive permaculture.
In this short post I share some suggestions, from the linked post, of information to include in general Permaculture Course and Event descriptions and marketing. This in turn will then help more people with chronic illness and/or disability and neurodivergent people to access and then utilise Permaculture Design
This list isn’t meant to be prescriptive and it isn’t exhaustive. It’s been compiled from the stories, voices and ideas of people who responded to my request for information, for my initial article linked above.
Please feel free to use this information in your own work or to contact me with any feedback, ideas or questions. For discussion about some of the issues identified, join the Permaculture, Chronic Illness, Neurodiversity and Disability Facebook Group
Top tips for permaculture events/courses facilitators and permaculture demonstration sites
In February of this year I published an article on my blog - Accessing Permaculture for people with chronic illness and/or disability - positives, challenges and suggestions for a more inclusive permaculture. In this post I share the "top tips" for permaculture events/courses facilitators and permaculture demonstration sites, arising from the article.
(These top tips are also available as a PDF here)
Earth Based Spirituality & Permaculture
I love to use the solar and lunar cycles and circles within Earth based spirituality, as a grounding tool and guidance for my permaculture projects. This weekend has been the wheel of the year festival, of Earth awakening, Imbolc. Here in Yorkshire, Northern England, there are signs of life emerging into the new light, from their long rest through the cold, dark, shortest days. At Imbolc, we can connect with the nature around us, observing and interacting, and slowly move forwards to the energy of spring. The earliest of seeds sown for edible gardens are starting to germinate and we too can plant and nurture our inner seeds of visions for our work and life, and watch them germinate over the coming weeks.
The Imbolc new moon arrives today its the perfect time to use the rising energy for new beginnings. and a perfect time for reflection and planning.
Here are some of the ways I have been using the energies of Imbolc in my permaculture projects and including my own wellbeing.-
I spent some time grounding and allowing my creative thoughts to flow without constraint, about the directions I would like my permaculture projects and life to take. I created this space with the five elements of Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Spirit plus 2 oracle cards I had chosen, to help provide an extra layer of visioning and focus. I will be keeping this alter space as it is until the Spring Equinox in 6 weeks time. Seeing it on a regular basis, and as a tool for further reflection and grounding, will help me to continue to connect with the new ways forward in my projects on a regular basis. And, in turn regular connection can often mean that my visions and goals for my life and permaculture projects are become an achievable reality.
I have been using this "4 questions" reflection tool with focus on my permaculture work, and from the reflection, applying self regulation, and accepting feedback, have designed a realistic plan about creating and implementing new elements in each permaculture project. The plan is in my journal which is the "hub", the centre of my life! and I look at it many times each day. So again, observing it on a regular basis means that my aims and goals for each project are more likely to be achieved.
Sowing actual seeds! For the last 2 years my edible gardening permaculture project has been on pause, as I've been too unwell to be able to do any physical gardening. And currently I don't have a garden of my own. Over the last few months my health has slowly been improving and I have been feeling a strong pull to get growing food again, and creatively using and responding to change. Peppers (including chillis) and tomatoes like as long a season to grow as possible so I will be planting these hardy varieties from Real Seeds over the next week. I'm also going to start sprouting seeds and pulses again for daily use as a delicious and super nutritious addition to my diet. I've stocked up on sprouting seeds packs from Tamar Organics and really looking forward to getting them growing. For more ideas about connecting with nature inside if you are unable to be outside, see an article I wrote "Bringing Nature Inside"
So here are a few of the ways I have been using energies and characteristics of Imbolc in both my permaculture and general life projects. Please feel free to have a go at applying any of these Ideas to your own life and work.
Permaculture Tool Review
I bought these beautiful “Life Design” cards by Lisa Mcloughlin Art a few days ago and they are already becoming one of my new favourite things! - Lisa describes the cards as “a personal development companion and oracle for support and guidance” and to help “weave a different story” - the cards are created to be web like in their use and contain gorgeous images depicting permaculture design, permaculture principles, seasonal inspiration and astrological signs of psychological processes that are common to us all. A handy guidebook introducing ideas for how to use the cards for both personal and group work/use, and brief descriptions of each card’s functions is included with the card deck. I’m already starting to see how useful these cards will be for regular life planning and reflection, along with project designing too.
"Life Design," (and other wonderful nature inspired), card decks, are available from Etsy via Lisa's website - www.lisamcloughlinart.com🙌🏽🌀
One of the life tools I like to create at the start of a calendar year is choosing a focus word for that year. I create some art or craft work at the end of December or start of January, which goes on to become my daily reminder about my focus word and the energy behind it. It's a tool that has worked really well for me for several years now, no matter what is going on in my life at the time. My focus word for 2018 was "Creativity" - and when I chose this word in the January, I had no idea that the daily doodling I did, and shared on social media to help my emotional and cognitive wellbeing, would evolve into requests for Illustration work for prints, books and online courses by the start of 2019! While I'm sure this didn't just happen because of my chosen word, it certainly helped me to regularly connect with the intention behind it. So this year I have chosen "Activist", Activism is defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as, "the use of direct and noticeable action to achieve a result, usually a political or social one." Throughout my life I have nearly always been involved in various types of activism about issues close to my heart and spirit. Over the past decade this has very much been connected to my development as a permaculture practitioner and educator. I'm hoping that choosing this word as my focus in the coming months, will enable me to design my new form of activism, as part of my plan to continue to thrive while being unwell with Lyme Disease.
Over the last year I have been following the work of illustrator and online Mental Health Activist, Make Daisy Chains and also the Craftivism movement, especially the work of the Craftivism Collective Both of these are part of my inspiration for these first weeks of the year as I begin to design the early part of the journey, my focus word for 2019 will take. Im hoping to use the Wheel of the Year, Earth based festivals for times of reflection about my current permaculture projects, and how these are influenced by my new focus word. I plan to document the main topics of that reflective process, within future blog posts here.
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