Sunday, 5 December 2010

It's alright, they're not dead ... just hibernating

I do wonder at my so-called wisdom sometimes.  Deciding to regularly visit my allotment, and begin this blog, at the onset of winter. When torrential rain, bitterly cold winds, freezing frost and fog are more common than the warm, soothing sunshine of summer and early autumn.

We've had lots of rain in London over the last few weeks, together with biting winds, and even thick snow. So I haven't been to the allotment for several weeks. I wonder how it's getting along without me? I should have gone, if only to check it over and say 'hi'.

I'm still feeling really good about clearing out my shed. I did some clearing out at home too, and more housework than usual, tackling some jobs that are usually only considered at spring cleaning time.

I had a writing deadline this week, and I wonder if the extra housework was a displacement activity (avoidance in other words). But I'd like to think that my cleaner home will now provide me with a clearer mind for my writing task.

Whilst away from the allotment I thought of the snails again. I'd said about them in my last blog:

"I don't know what it is, I just kind of like them".

Well maybe I like them because sometimes they remind me of me?

Slow and steady.

I am definitely a B-personality. Or rather, a B-perSNAILality-type :-)

As a 'B', I don't like to rush, or panic. I will get up two or three hours earlier than I need to so that I don't have to rush. I can sometimes be the irritating oasis of calm, whilst everyone around me is rushing around like headless chickens. I strongly resist being drawn into the drama and stress of it all.

Needless to say, my kind of Slow can sometimes be fiercely irritating to A-personality-type people.

It seems to me that 'A's cannot easily sit still. They like to be out Doing and tend to rush around in a whirlwind of energy and activity.

I can be like that sometimes too. I can move really fast when I have a deadline to meet. Come to think of it, I seem to function really well around deadlines. Perhaps I ought to set some more for myself?

Over the last few months I've been assessing the wisdom of what I'm putting my energies into. I've been considering which of my many projects, or 'irons in the fire' I should progress further, completely re-vamp or simply, set aside.

It may be time to laser my focus a bit, rather than spreading my energies too thinly in too many areas. I think this is called Honing Your Niche.

It occurred to me that some of my projects remind me of the snails. Some seem to have lost their initial energy and life to some extent.

But there didn't appear to be a great deal of life in many of the snails, and I could have given up on them. But I didn't.

In fact I felt a surge of joy as I noticed one of the snails, with its little head and neck out, eye stalks waving, starting to move, almost jauntily, on its way. For all I know, the others are just hibernating.

So perhaps I should not give up on some of my projects just yet.

Perhaps some are hibernating. Re-gathering their energies. Ready to re-emerge, re-born, and revitalised, in the Spring.

Anyway, I was pleased that at least one snail was still very much alive ... exceptionally pleased in fact.

(If that snail was a project, what would it be?)

Over the winter I shall be looking carefully at all of my projects to see those that are destined to die down completely, and those which might come more alive.

And I know I will be exceptionally pleased when I witness that aliveness.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Some things are between me, and me!

I said in my last post that when I go regularly to my allotment garden (doing little and often), it is easier to maintain. Then I think to myself "Hey, this is easier than I thought! I just need to come here more often…".

Well, the same could be said for writing and posting to my blogs. "I just need to come here more often"! Little and often, that's the easiest way.

One place I do write regularly is in my personal journal. I've kept a hand-written journal nearly all my life.

I think there is a big difference between a personal journal and a public blog. No matter how much I want to be 'me' in my blog, there are some things (and I'm sure you're the same) that I prefer to keep between me, and me.  You don't have to share all of it.

I feel that keeping a journal has helped me to express myself, and to flow more easily onto the page. 

I've also found that writing a personal journal is great practice if you want to write from your heart and soul. It's a fabulous tool for self-expression and for getting to know yourself, the Real You.

My journal has taken me on an ever-evolving journey of self-discovery, enabling me to deeply know myself, on every level of my being. And there is always more to learn and discover! I'm hoping writing these blogs will do the same.

My allotment garden is a place where I can commune with Mother Nature. I truly believe that my garden has much to teach me, and many messages to reveal to me about my life and my work.

In the next post I'll reveal some of the messages I have 'divined' so far - including (drum roll….) the significance of the snails ...

Thursday, 11 November 2010

A New Beginning - and befriending the snails!

I've just paid my allotment fees for the coming year. I see this day as a new beginning. Another chance to make the allotment work, to keep it maintained, and to create beauty and abundance - and order - there.

But I like a bit of wild disorder too!

I love being surprised by the sudden emergence of marigolds, nasturtiums or buttercups - or the chard, sprouting from the bottom of the compost heap.

It's true that once you commit to something it can really take off. I know that when I have committed to regular time and energy down the allotment, it has looked really good.

 I remember thinking, "Hey, this is easier than I thought! I just need to come here more often…".

My plot, or Allotment Garden as I like to call it, is only half the size of a regular plot. Yet still, I used to find it hard to maintain. But it's got progressively easier over the years, and I feel really excited about all the potential for the year ahead.

When I got back from the plot yesterday evening I felt really pleased with myself. I'd spent all afternoon clearing out my shed. It's the annual rubbish collection this week and this is the first year I've made the collection deadline.

The shed looks absolutely great. Everything is now in order and neat and tidy. This is going to be my best year yet!

I was totally alone at the plot - I love that. Even though it was warm and sunny, there was no-one around. Mind you, I was so busy clearing out the shed, I probably wouldn't have noticed anyone else!

As soon as I started to work I felt boiling hot and had to peel off my coat and cardigan. I worked for hours, non-stop, and I have to say (yet again) that I feel really pleased with what I achieved. I'm so glad I made the effort.

As a journal assignment, Rachel, my coach, asked me to consider the difference between 'feeling good' and 'fulfilment'. Well, doing the shed feels like fulfilment. It's something achieved and 'a job well done'.

It would have been great if I'd also raked up all the leaves and pulled up my dead runner beans and marigolds, but, I decided "You've done great Claire, that's enough for one day".

In clearing the shed, I rescued quite a few snails from going into the rubbish. They were attached to a lot of the stuff I was throwing away. I wasn't sure if any were alive, but picked them off anyway. I put some on a low wall and others on some concrete slabs.

The low wall was sheltered with foliage but the slab wasn't, so I gently placed some leaves over the snails as a camouflage. I must be a little crazy. I don't know any other gardeners who rescue snails. I don't know what it is, I just kind of like them.

As I looked back to the low wall, I saw one with its little neck and head out of its shell, eye stalks waving, slowly crawling away. At least one was alive then I thought, and I felt really pleased by that.

I came across quite a few spiders too amongst the plant pots and old carrier bags. One dived into a pile of dead ivy on the wooden shelf I'd just cleared. I was going to clear the shelf of the dead leaves but decided to leave them a little longer, as I didn't want to disturb him.

The ivy is growing inside the shed as well as out. I'm fairly easy with it as I think it's one of the things that is holding the shed together! I cut away ivy from the floor and the shelves but left the rest. I was about to cut one piece and suddenly changed my mind, thinking "No, you're not doing any harm there, you can stay".

I swear my garden plants communicate with me "Please, stop! Spare us!" I often get these feelings. If I don't take note of them, the next moment I either get stung by nettles, pierced by thorns, or have tiny flies dive bombing my eyes and trying to get into my ears. My garden does fight back if I'm not respectful.

I think my allotment garden is happy that I am not an ultra tidy gardener. I like a bit of greenery around the edges. For example, the shed has no window-glass and no door, and the ivy gives both openings a soft and beautiful green edge or 'frill'.

From the outside, the shed looks like a big green bush. Blackberry-bramble and hawthorn grow over it. My shed is Small Bird Heaven. They nest in the ivy and there is an abundant supply of insects and spiders and, later, blackberries.

When I trim the hawthorn I use the prickly twigs to protect my pea and bean seedlings. It works. I don't know whether it deters pigeons, mice, rats, slugs, or snails. But whatever ate them before, doesn't eat them once the hawthorn is in place.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Technical Problems are OVER - good to be back!

I am so relieved to be back to my blog. I had some 'password issues'... but I won't dwell on that, (or re-live my frustration) as all is fine now.

At home, my window-ledge plants are dying down for the winter, but I still have some window-box tomatoes to harvest. I can't remember the names of the tomatoes … all I know is that the Big Round Ones are sweet and juicy, and the Large Plum Ones are a little 'floury'.

Even though I did not feed either of them, one of them did well, and the other didn't. I know you're supposed to feed them but, I wanted to see how they would do without it.

Now I know. Not great.

I reasoned, that Nature doesn't have a bottle of tomato feed to hand, and hoped they'd grow well anyway. So, I was half right.  Half the tomatoes did, half the tomatoes didn't.

Ho hum ... I make my own mistakes and I learn by them. Next year I shall feed all the tomatoes (with some good organic feed of course).


Sometimes, I get the odd gardening tip from a fellow plot holder. But mostly I do my own thing. I think I like it that way. I love learning as I go along. I'm often amazed at how much I already instinctively know. Where did I learn these things? Buried memories of past episodes of Gardener's World? Possibly.

Anyway, the allotment garden is still producing and I'm thrilled. Runner beans, tomatoes, lemon-balm, chives, blackberries, wild rocket, lettuce - and I still have a fair number of marigolds.

I like to grow flowers as well as vegetables. It's good to nourish my soul with beautiful flowers, as well as nourish my body with organic veggies.

Marigolds are so easy, as they self-seed and pop up everywhere. You simply weed them out where you don't want them. But usually, because I love them, I let most of them grow. They are gorgeously beautiful. Vibrant shades of orange and yellow - like the colours of the sun.

Here's a video I took at the end of August - I meant to post it earlier. I'm displaying my allotment loot. I only pick and bring back what I need, hence the seemingly 'small haul'!

At the moment, I can't get my Flip camera to work, so I've no idea when I'll make another video. I miss it!

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Late but welcome growth (exciting to see where it goes!)

In my garden: I'm a little late in posting this! But Eureka! - at last I have managed to grow some runner bean plants. The slugs (or pigeons?) demolished every healthy looking seedling, week after week. But, finally.... the beans have taken off.

In my life: I've started having sessions with a life coach (even coaches need coaching). My coach Rachel is fab. She is creative like me, and the coaching is centred around lovely creative tools (like I use myself!) I have had so many aha's and breakthroughs already and we're only on session 2. I'm really excited about how things are panning out.

Big news: It's important when you tell your Mum "stuff". Stuff that's important to you and that you've committed to. When you tell your Mum about it, you are, Committed. Once you've told your Mum, there's no going back.

Today I told my Mum that writing was my Passion. I said that I've wanted to be A Writer all my life.

I've only just acknowledged this.

It's a Big Thing.

She encouraged me.

I needed that.

I would write anyway, but it was good to get that encouragement from my Mum.

I told her, I had decided to write My First Book. I explained what I thought it would be about. But I know, from reading other authors that best laid plans can evolve and completely change and transform. I'm prepared for this and excited at the prospect. But, I have a starting point.

So it's all pretty exciting at the moment... Thank you Rachel, thank you Mummy, thank you Me!

Post Note: Doesn't the ladybird on the leaf look like a duck?! And can you hear the tune from the ice-cream van playing in the background - a British thing I think?