A Personal Winter

Ever get that feeling that you’re stagnating….in a lull…flatlining, whatever you want to call it? It’s like your own personal Winter when everything slows down before you get that rush of fresh Spring energy and enthusiasm again to finally get back into gear.

Sometimes you can’t do anything about it except wait and….as I have been doing…get frustrated. I’m impatient, always have been.  I like to be on the move. I always have to be doing something, planning, tidying up, driving, walking, sleeping, tidying up, on the phone, tidying up, gardening….oh the list is endless!

winter blog
Winter can be calming

The trouble is what I want to be doing; what we both want to be doing is working the land, and we get frustrated when we cannot progress with that. I’ve learned there are always things which can be done in order to keep a connection with our project. What helps is having a focus, a purpose. We all need to be needed and there are plenty of people that are happy to make use of that neediness.

A few years ago my role as a mother changed, I wasn’t needed so much. I had to find a new role which kept me busy, which filled that void. Joining our Transition group was a big help. It gave me the purpose I was looking for, being part of a community. Don’t get me wrong, my kids still need me and so does Iain but there’s not much demand for ‘mum’ these days now they’ve become independent.

For me the commitment to being a parent has always been strong and it always will be. That’s why we wait so patiently for our children to build the foundations to their lives and make the choices they need to, then when they are ready to move on so will we.  There will always be a place for them wherever we go but for now they have chosen to follow their own paths and we thoroughly support them in their journey.

The thought of this keeps me focused and stops the stagnation as we build our current online community. Planning for the day when we can meet them, or some of them at least. I love being a mum, I love caring for people and celebrating life. Bringing people together and seeing what they can achieve is a fantastic experience.

The last event we organised for our Transition group was Apple Day. I got a buzz out of speaking to the local businesses and asking them to support our raffle, making those all important connections with the local community.  I enjoyed it when people came up with ideas for the day and my heart swelled when the mayor wrote a piece on her blog about it. It was a wonderful feeling knowing we had all pulled together to make the day a success and raise money for the group.  We had worked as a team…a community. I only usually get the lump in the throat moments when I see this kind of thing in a film….you know, when everybody pulls together at the end and everything’s all right;  well Apple Day was a lump in the throat moment for me.

So we continue to welcome people to our facebook and twitter communities, read Permaculture books , work on designing the land, keeping our regular maintenance visits up to Devon whilst staying connected to our children.

Sometimes though when you wait patiently, things begin to happen and time itself moves you, then you see there was a need for the slight pause in your life. There had to be for that motion to move again. Things usually sort themselves out in the most amazing ways.

For us the motion was our daughter finishing university. Ever since then everything seems to have sped up.  People who know what our dream is have come forward with donations of items they no longer use or need, the most recent being a very large donation of items from a local guide and scout group. Things that we had thought we would have to wait years to be able to purchase have fallen on our lap. A visit to our local car boot sale finally unearthed tools that we had been looking for for some time; it didn’t matter they were second hand. That’s what we do.

We’re very grateful for all of this, for the people who have become a part of our dream in whichever form that might be. They are always welcome to our piece of paradise and have a left a lasting mark on our hearts.

People have said how they envy us or would love to do what we are doing…….we say to them and people like them…do it! Not own a piece of land perhaps but whatever it is you want to do there are no obstacles…only your imagination and fear. Yes there are risks but if you want something bad enough, then those risks are worth everything when you come out the other end, living the life you really want to. For every challenge you come across it will teach you new things about yourself and whether what you are doing is the right thing for you.

You’ll never know if you don’t at least try…..and what then?

We know the pace will slow again…and….perhaps it needs to. It needs to in order for us to reflect back and take stock of what we have achieved so far and to make the most of those precious moments with our family whilst we still have them around us.winter blog2

So perhaps a few weeks or months of stagnation, or being forced to slow down isn’t a bad thing. Put into perspective we all need to take a moment to look at our lives, the direction we are taking and make sure it is what we really want. Relish those winter moments if you have them.

by Wenderlynn

Lessons of a PDC

It was difficult to decide what to write for this blog post as there was so much I wanted to say. After studying Permaculture for several years and having some insight to the majority of what was delivered on the course I chose the things that made the most impact on me and were, I felt, the most important;  communication and facing my own fears…

From the moment I left home I began to change, my fears of being out of my comfort zone and a desire to succeed were uppermost in my mind.  I was leaving my husband and everything familiar to me to do my Permaculture Design Course (PDC). I was on the edge of my comfort zone.  I was going to spend 2 weeks with people I had never met before. I was also looking to reconnect with a part of myself that I’d lost somewhere in this displaced society or…..discover something new.

I’d heard how life-changing a PDC can be. This was definitely the case for me, both from now being recognised as a permaculturist, and spiritually. I’m not sure I would have found my Permaculture eyes if I hadn’t done a residential course, not to say online courses aren’t worthwhile but the essence of community can’t be captured through a keypad  or computer screen, at least that’s what I believe. You can’t capture people’s feelings and nurture relationships effectively this way.

Globally we have become unconsciously dependant on an economy run on built-in obsolescence and an age where technology has become the new pacifier for our children. http://www.joanganzcooneycenter.org/2013/06/06/parenting-in-the-age-of-digital-technology/

How long could you go without your iphone?
Do you panic if your computer crashes?
How much time do you really spend playing outside with your children?

Yes it is possible to pick up the phone to call your friend or skype to the distorted image of your child at university but there is nothing like the look in someone’s eye when you know they love you, or the touch of their fingers on your face to confirm it. Technology doesn’t do that, it never has done and it never will. It has no nerve endings, no ability to feel. You can’t make these sensory things virtual.

In any setting where people are involved, group dynamics can either gel people together or become dysfunctional. A large majority of us feel so stressed with social or work related pressures that we forget the most important things around us are people. We need people. We can’t do without them. So…..communicating is an integral part of any group dynamic whether it’s family, business, globally or a PDC.

Take away our dependence on technology, which plays a very big part in how we communicate, and how do we get along? iphones and laptops make it easier to communicate with people 24/7 it’s true. People can be bought together from across the ocean or across the street if you’re feeling lazy but they can’t tell us what someone is feeling.

We have emoticons that can give a suggestion of being happy or laughing or a few xxxs at the end of a text message, a gesture of some kind of sentiment, I’m not sure what but they didn’t teach us how to smile, or frown or use our bodies the way that for millennia man has come to recognise as the simplest and most effective form of communication.

http://www.uefap.com/writing/exercise/report/nonverb.htm                         http://www.study-body-language.com/body-language-communication.html

Silence activity
Non verbal activity.

We have lost the true art of communication or at least we are in jeopardy of doing so.

Our ability to connect with the online world was reduced thankfully at Ourganics by our host encouraging us to only use the bare minimum to contact loved ones, solar power being all too precious. Ironically there was even an element of Gaian intervention as signal strength was weak making it harder to connect to the outside world regardless.

There was no TV. Instead our entertainment was governed by watching our fellow graduands as they engaged in frolics with Sam, the Ourganics pet dog. We shared our own skills on our days off building cob ovens, giving Reiki or enjoying a swim in the sea or playing croquet: I think I won?


I come back for a short moment to my fears of meeting new people. I wondered how they would perceive me or whether I would live up to their expectations, or even they to mine. In fact I was in awe of all of them, each one relaying experiences that I wished my fractured family life had not prevented me from doing.

I felt inferior and that my lack of shared knowledge or experience would in some way prevent me from getting the most of the 2 weeks.  This only reinforced my longing for familiarity making leaving early a desirable option in the first few days. But……. as time went on and we shared these activities, the magic of Ourganics gave me a new comfort zone and wisdom and the outside world slowly dissolved away as each one of us became more connected.

I’m pleased to say that for some of us our ability to communicate with each other was difficult. Why was I pleased? If it had been easy we would have not learnt the importance of communicating our concerns to each other and at the same time recognising our differences. We wouldn’t have felt comfortable holding someone’s hand when apologising for an action or word we said or did, which we later regretted.  I’m not sure if this is how all PDC environments are, I can only tell you my experience.

As the days went on we shared our lives with each other, we learnt, we cried, we laughed, we learnt a bit more, we made a few puns and we occasionally got irritated but never angry. We hugged and comforted through voice, hand gestures and facial expressions, none of which you can experience the sincerity of through online interaction.  These are all patterns we recognise and interact with as human beings whichever belief system or culture we are part of.

So did we actually learn anything besides how to communicate with each other? Yes we did.  Our end designs were excellent ones, even with their spelling mistakes. [I admit to spelling Sloe worm as a species instead of Slow worm and this was before the party. ] We had shown that through all our differences, there can be a positive end result.  We learnt that all said and done, the collective, the integration rather than segregation, is important.

“the connections between elements are as important as elements themselves”           People in Permaculture, Looby Mcnamara.

How did we get there? By changing our own patterns of expectation. By reaching out beyond our edges. I can’t speak for my fellow graduates but my edge increased. I found existing elements within a bigger system that fed my need to obtain more of a yield from my life.

If you are thinking of doing your PDC then I recommend you do it as a residential. I believe

your experience will be more rewarding with the continuity it will bring. By no means do I judge online courses, in fact I can’t comment. People such as Patrick Whitefield and Geoff Lawton have given people an opportunity that they might not have had, if they had not put their PDC online.

Nonetheless my instinct tells me that to physically interact with people is to continue the infinite evolving pattern that is Permaculture, [to change the pattern so it becomes even greater.]

My PDC was the university experience I never had.  I loved every minute at Ourganics. Pat for her ability to let people be themselves and Aranya for drawing us into his web allowing us all to find our way knowing that we would.  My fellow peers without whom I wouldn’t have belonged, but most of all my husband for being the only constant in my life and for allowing me to be me.

Certificates v3
Permagrads Ourganics 2013


“I am an amateur writer. I write from the heart. Don’t judge me.