February 29, 2016

Nature notes and My Mindful Year: february

I am really relishing my notebooks! The whole process of walking, noticing, taking photos and recording nature in some form. I am doubling up my nature notes and my mindful year posts today not just because, ahem, I have run out of February days, (where has the month gone?), but because the word for february in Sas Petherick's My Mindful Year project has been connection, and the nature sketching and journaling has really been a part of my exploration of what connection means for me.

Connection works on so many levels doesn't it? For me, connection with people I love and/or respect, connection with my home and garden, with my work, with the natural world around me, with the God I believe in, these are fundamental to my happiness and wellbeing, but so often the connection gets a bit lost and frayed by the busyness and demands of normal life. Just as our bodies require sustenance, so does this need to connect with the things that are important to us. Deepening healthy connections requires time, energy, intention - margin outside of the to-do list in order to feed the soul a bit, keep it nourished and connected, no? I certainly find that it doesn't happen all by itself. It is not so much that we have to contrive and construct connections, but we do need to create time, space and opportunity for connection to happen naturally and flourish, I think? So for me, having set aside time to walk, notebook and camera in hand, is a way of slowing down and letting myself have the opportunity to be inspired. Last month's noticing and recording of the alder trees and their beautiful cones has resulted this month in the birth of a new little collection - it would never have happened without that time spent wandering and gathering, sketching and thinking.

I have even started walking with a jewellery buddy, Liz Willis, with the express intention of enjoying, discussing and exploring the notion of being inspired by place and found objects. We live near each other and have already had a few walks criss crossing our local landscape, open to whatever inspires us on the day, and taking some of that back to inform our designing back in our studios.

This month, it has been the curious juxtaposition of the brittle, bleached remains of last years wild plants and seedpods with the bright green new growth just beginning to shoot up, which has caught my eye. I am wanting to make a new collection of brooches and the fragments of ash tree keys, poppy seed heads, achillea and eryngium stalks and husks have given me more than enough inspiration!

I have also been thinking about how I connect with the people I care about, and how to make more time for them. Keeping in contact with my boys at uni and the ways I do that, one on one time with my two who are still at home. Time aside for just me and my mister.  The notion of connection has created so many questions in my mind, and it is March tomorrow, so I think it will take more than the short month of february to answer them all, but that is kind of the point isn't it?

Have you got any thoughts on connection, and how to help foster the right sort of connections that lead to a happier and more fulfilling way of life? I guess disconnecting from what no longer works for us, or even harms us is also key, but that would need another whole blogpost! x


  1. I love your seed head drawings and look forward to seeing the jewellery inspired by them, the alder ones are beautiful. I too have been trying to work some peaceful time spent connecting. I find it too easy not to make time for friends and being sociable and I miss it. The balance of work/play is always hard when working for yourself. I find it easy to waste a morning pottering... And then wish I had made proper use of the time. I look forward to reading about your new pathway. Jane xx

  2. The jewelry is so lovely! You have done really nice sketches of the various plants.