Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Quit or Die

So the Autism work didn't pan out. Bottom line was the fit wasn't right and the time wasn't right. The project felt under resourced and I made a quick decision to try other stuff rather than continue to invest time and energy in a project that didn't suit me.
It's liberating, to be able to make those decisions, and even with my guilt ridden, people pleasing persona, I know it was the right one. But society is riddled with messages like 'winners never quit', 'never give up' etc... which makes these things harder. I prefer the analogy of the fly that never quits trying to fly out of a closed window. It inevitably ends up dead on the windowsill, exhausted from pointless activity. Its a pretty shit way to die – head butting an invisible barrier until you depart this mortal coil from exhaustion. Something like 'quit or die' might be a good way of phrasing it....

We took our kids out of their school the other week because they were not flourishing. It wasn't easy to do so, it's a bit of a wrench to resettle, half of our best friends kids are there and WE were happy, but when the environment is affecting your kid negatively, you have to do something, and it was the right decision for them. As parents you have to trust your instincts and 'Just do it' (Damn those clever marketing departments!). The environment was not allowing her to express herself, and as a result her confidence had been eroded, which is heartbreaking, so she's going elsewhere, where I hope she'll be happier. It's all you can do right? Make the correct decisions at the correct time. Easier said than done, none of it, however, is failure.

I talk about failure a lot – mainly because its practically inevitable if we are to push ourselves to do anything worthwhile, and also because it is something I am very good at. This, however wasn't failure, and it's important to understand the difference between simply giving up, and making the correct decisions for the individual. The idea behind doing the Autism work was to function stack the working week, to get some projects under way with the help and resources of a larger charity organisation. The reality felt very different and perhaps naively, I was surprised by the difference between the hope and the reality.
What was supposed to be a springboard felt more like a bog. When you have 3 demanding children, you don't want to be stuck in a bog. When you don't have 3 children you still don't want to be stuck in a bog, although to be fair, you might have a better chance of getting out.
I look at patterns, especially the natural ones, and take a lesson or two from them. In times of stress, a deciduous tree will drop leaves, and enter full dormancy as winter approaches. Vital functions continue, and the tree is still alive of course, but exposure to the elements is dramatically cut. When it's too hot, too, leaves are dropped to avoid excessive transpiration, and the dormancy period allows the tree to get through the more extreme months.

Its good to know that right? That even a great old Oak has to take a breather. It has to protect itself in order to function, and whilst it does that, everything else goes on hold. It hasn't quit – even though it looks like it has, but instead performing the most natural of functions. SELF PRESERVATION. So I had to leave my blog for a bit, even though I gain a lot of pleasure from it (I do post pictures on facebook when too busy to blog – feel free to friend request). I haven't been able to get drunk to the levels I would like recently, and I certainly have needed to be in attendance for child care. Work, most importantly needs to facilitate life, not the other way around.
And this all becomes more important as we take on board the multitude of species that both rely upon and support each element in an ecosystem. Nothing exists in isolation, without interactions with another element. A mature Oak can support around 284 species of insect and 324 types of lichen. It offers support. Without that support, stuff begins to go a bit wrong, habitats and food disappears. Likewise, if we begin to falter from not listening to the signs around us, so our children begin to suffer, as do friends, family and colleagues – all our relationships. In short we have to be strong to support them. Both mental and physical health rely on our ability to read situations, and if the environment is wrong, we simply can't function as we ought to. We beat ourselves up if something is not quite right. Instead, we should be addressing either how to change the situation, or leave it.
So, like a tree in the wrong place, or at times of stress, things sometimes simply need to be changed. Like a tree, its also good to know what environment galvanises and maximises our health and vitality. Like a fly at a window, things can suffer if we are just taught to keep on keeping on, blindly ignoring signs of stress. By changing our environment, what we do, who we surround ourselves with, we can optimise our lifestyles. By taking a breather, we can carry on. None of it is wrong. None of it is failure.

And you know what they say (now) – if it ain't right – Quit or die.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Going Shopping

I'm going to the shops – Anyone want anything?

20 years ago that meant a shopping list of large rizla, pot noodles and beer. Times move on though. And those heady days are behind me. The little people moved in and took over. Nappies, fruity flakes, and milk. And the kids need stuff too.

The Autism thing didn't work out. The vision of the charity and my own ideas didn't tally. Lack of resources meant that instead of function stacking the working week into a permaculture portfolio, I had instead walked into a scenario that demanded more of me than I had ever imagined.

It was unfortunate. But it was unsustainable. With so much going on at home, work needs to operate smoothly and demand less. Resources like time are always finite and have to be spent effectively. I don't regret making a swift decision. It was a tactical withdrawal. This was not my mountain.

That said, it freed up time to find my next project. I like the permaculture saying 'The problem is the solution.' It got me thinking....

Like most PDC graduates, I obsess on my food. How it's farmed, what it does to me, what the supply chain looks like, who benefits, and how it affects the environment. Like most normal people, I also find myself sheepishly perusing the isles of the local supermarket at the weekend. This diet is only supported in part by the local producer, the home grown and the foraged.

Its a problem because I have no interest in bolstering supermarket profits or industrial agriculture. Its a problem because every pound spent in these places disappears form my local economy. And it happens because I run out of time.

To go to the local Butcher or baker entails time to be spent. All very well unless you have kids, jobs or stuff to do. I get it.
I live it. Every. Day
So I'm going to the shops. And anyone local who wants anything, let me know. The idea here is if I have a big enough shopping list we can make it more efficient. If I have a bunch of shopping to get, and people relying on me, it'll get done. If its a large enough order, we can get the producer to help with the process.

I'm starting with my favourite butchers. Park Farm of Hawkhurst. A quality Farm, and a quality Butcher. It uses a local abattoir, and they specialise in grass fed and free range livestock, which makes it a far healthier product . Andy the farmer just had a conversation with me with regards to the way the herds are managed. You obviously wouldn't get that at tescos, and he is open to groups coming to the farm. As far as I can make out, its the best in our area. By using these suppliers, not only is the meat going to be a better quality, but the money stays in the local area, and good practice is rewarded.

So if you have the same problem I've got, this might be the solution.

I'll be driving out every Thursday from now on. If anyone wants anything picked up, drop me a text, email or DM me on facebook. I can get prices before I go if you give me notice.

This is one way to wrestle back power from the large shops and poor food production. By acting more directly, we can empower our food producers, have more control into how our meat is reared, and create more resilience in our whole food system. Its up to us. The large producers and Supermarkets do not share our values.

Now – who wants anything?