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How is it possible that it’s July? Slow and small solutions: Take 2



The summer is flying by at a rapid rate. It seems like my original post on Slow and Small solutions was only yesterday and yet here I am, in July. I can’t fully comprehend how much has happened in that space of time. This week has been an on and off again seesaw of actively working on my design reports for my diploma and messing around on facebook with no real progress being made whatsoever. 

Summer has always been a busy time but much more so as an English Language Teacher at a busy language school. This time last year, I was working very hard, trying to get a handle on my life financially, socially, emotionally and academically. Truth be told I was being far too hard on myself, pressurizing myself to change a million and one things about my life. I’ve spent the last six months slowing down in many ways and speed up in other areas. 

I realized something revolutionary. I am good enough just the way I am. Yes, I am a goal orientated individual. I love growth and change. I crave learning about myself in new situations, learning new skills and expanding my mind, experiences and circles but my main drive to do these things is because I wasn’t enough. I wasn’t happy enough, intelligent, fun, interesting, knowledgeable, busy, free, successful, creative. BULLSHIT! I’m enough. Any of the activities I now do are done because I want to, because it feels right, sounds interesting, feels good, fun or interesting. This is what going to New Zealand taught me. 

I also realized that this is very much my brain:



And that is also ok. It’s more than ok. My mind is full of ideas and bucket lists and things to do and see and dream of and make. Sure, I could have a mind that is content to not really do much, to simply accept what is and get on with my gym membership and life would probably easier. But not as colorful.

Slow and small solutions step 1: Accept yourself. 

This involved lots of baby steps on a daily basis to arrive at a complete point of acceptance that in turn requires small, incremental steps to maintain. It involved listening to myself. Acceptance also meant taking a new mantra on board. I used to repeat to myself, “You’re not doing enough, look at all those things you haven’t done/aren’t doing”. Now the mantra is “Choose where you are and there be there”, emotionally, mentally and physically.

Step 2: Find your tribe



Having a great community of weirdos that have become my tribe, finding that tribe in the first place and nurturing each of those relationships has been a pivotal changing point in my happiness. Making the decision to work on developing and nurture the relationships in my life with friends and family has improved my life ten fold. I am thankful each day, feel supported and truly value my time with them. The time that I have spent on actively being a good friend and willingly receiving care and love and fun from friendships and family in the last few months has made my life so much fuller.

Step 3: Take time for yourself

real solitute

I don’t mean sitting slumped on front of the tv because your friends have plans and you have nothing to do for the night. I also don’t mean a solo weekend at a spa. I mean making yourself a decent breakfast every morning and treasuring it. Playing your favorite music and dancing around to it. Wearing what makes you happy rather than what you think the guy at the coffee shop might like. Resting in the park with a good book. Learning to love sitting with myself and my thoughts has been a revelation. Of course there are some days I don’t want to know about a single thought in my head but most days now I want to take time to sit with myself and see how I am, what I’m daydreaming about that particular day in the park after work, how I feel cycling home and not talking to a soul. Reading a book in a cafe on my own because I want to and not because I don’t want other to think I’m a loner.

There are more steps that have happened in the last six months that have been gradual, small and taken a lot of practice but I’ve felt so much happier because of it.

There have been plenty of moments where things haven’t gotten done because I wanted more time to myself in the park or a catch up with a friend went on longer than expected or I got carried away being creative with the font in a diploma assignment report rather than concentrating on getting the assignment finished. I really think that’s OK. The judgmental me would say I’m not being productive enough. The accepting me tells me I’ve been having a great few months. I’ve been learning about myself, living my life closer and closer to my ideal and loving life more. 

Nothing could be wrong with that. Slow and small solutions might possibly be my favorite of the permaculture principles. In realizing the importance of manageable, small and slow steps towards a goal or vision, I have unknowingly achieved so much more in the last six months than in the last three years or more of being hard on myself. 

Here’s to another six months of working on myself, my loves and my diploma. Hope this advice might help you if too are in the throes of writing up your assignments.

Just remember all the hard work that you’ve put into the designs and the research. The work is done. Now go write up that report. I’m off to do a few more pages on my Bee Friendly design. More on that soon!



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Slow and small solutions: taking a trip back


Flying to the other side of the world may not seem like a slow and small solution to a girl in her late 20s. In fact, from an outside point of view, it may seem like a rash decision, done lightly with little regard for consequences or reality. I’ve had these kind of reactions to my decision before so they don’t come as much as a surprise to me anymore. Much.

Why would I, who has a job I like in a city that’s fun and vibrant, close to my hometown want to leave it all behind for two solid months to go to another island with a similar climate and landscape to my native one in Ireland? Well, for one thing, to rest. To breathe, create, surf and be part of a community. To learn more about permaculture, transition towns and to return to somewhere that is very close to my heart. You could say the feeling I get of who I am, life in general and where I am, is one of such ease when I’m in New Zealand. At least, that’s how I remember it when I went there.

This was not a quick decision. It was one made almost four years ago when I was about to leave New Zealand to return back to Ireland. It’s a decision and more importantly, a feeling that HAS NOT GONE AWAY! I’m known to my friends and family as a dreamer. New ideas hit me all the time and come pouring out of my head. New Zealand has been a constant.

It could be argued that the decision to finally book the flight in December to leave at the end of January, was a quick decision but it was one based on a (sometimes VERY) slow and small series of solutions to an issue I’ve faced over the last four years.

In permaculture, slow and small solutions are a series of small steps towards problem solving. Accepting feedback and analysing the impact of these solutions in critical. A person could come up with ten small solutions and implement them blindly one after the other. The impact of a series of actions as mindless as that, however, is just as negative as a giant decision without any real thought behind it. Had I simply decided to drop everything and go, I may have ended up in the same position I was in four years ago; broke, exhausted and battling to get the basics of a job and a place to live. The last four years have been a lesson in slow and small solutions to the waves in my life. Had I implemented some master permaculture design of my life, maybe I wouldn’t have made so many mistakes or gotten lost so much along the way to achieving my dream of being debt free, involved in permaculture and going back to New Zealand.

I have realised now, however, that though many of my solutions to this reality did not work, my approach of “slow and steady” underlined my approach. I may have overdone it by overworking in jobs where I didn’t receive any positive yield other than money. I may have made poor decisions with regard to my emotional health as a sacrifice for being there for others. Every solution was well intentioned, though. Every solution was nice and slow, bit by bit, creating a pathway to this moment now, where I am five days away from leaving for New Zealand.

When I came back from my trip there four years ago, the mountain that was before me seemed impossible to climb. I hoped it would be possible to feel free again. I really feel this is it. Undoubtedly, the town will have changed, people will have changed and I thankfully, I have changed. I’m starting to believe that these small steps have helped me grow through a lot of mud and now I can spend two months stretching out into the sun in full blossom, soaking up all that energy and creativity and sun and sea and warmth and community love.

When your permaculture designs seem insurmountable and work to pay for something you really want to do drains your energy, when there is a negative influence in your life or you are your worst critic at times, try and remember that slow and small solutions really do get your there and make you, your designs, your life, wherever you apply them, stronger with each step. Remember, too that it’s all about perspective. If you feel gloomy about the weather and your situation in life, or simply trying to find the motivation to draw your base map (#guilty), try to see things from a different perspective. A walk in the park recently reminded me of this. One thing that made me sparkle inside was when I first started seeing the world through permaculture eyes; spirals, flows, derelict sites and the magic of plants growing all around, the beauty of weeds, people smiling and sharing all of it. Learn to take slow and small steps towards the things in life that make you sparkle and shine.




Find your sunshine and get walking towards it-it’s all about perspective!


Designing a way out of procrastination


Procrastination is a phrase we are all too familiar with. It lingers, like a gremlin on our shoulders or a cloud in our minds, making us doubt our ability to accomplish even the simplest of things. In the past, I have always done my best to ignore procrastination but it was always a counterproductive measure and guaranteed to make the unsettling feeling in the pit of my stomach and the judging thoughts in my head even worse. I’m a doer and a dreamer and procrastination is the bug bear that seems to want to threaten both sides of my personality. There is a sense, once it kicks in, of never being able to get out of its grasp. Like some kind of storm, it gathers energy from all around and increases in size the longer it lingers.

As the new year rolled in, with its new moon in Cancer, I was determined to focus on myself and my needs, one of which was to complete the diploma that is so important and integral to happiness in my life. As it turns out, community, seeds, veggies, composting, bees, natural building and so many more things are vitally important to me and my happiness. Designing them in a seemingly rational and organized layout of twelve distinct and understandable designs does not exactly make my heart soar. Particularly, when I often see myself as a procrastinating perfectionist.

The first week of January this year, I was a powerhouse of action and inspiring ideas. Four short days later, I had crashed and burned, focusing far too much on the perfectionism I required of myself to an extent that I couldn’t bring myself to draw a base map. I’ve struggled with this for as long as I can remember. It wasn’t merely the decision to complete the diploma that got me into this state. Motivation is something I do not lack. I have a bucket list of about fifty things for this year alone. My life bucket list is every expanding and that makes me eternally happy, rather than stressed. I know there is time. I know I will achieve most of them. I believe in that in my soul and my gut. It’s the niggling ego that plays tricks with me. The overthinking mind. The negative, “you’re wasting time”, “your life is too short”, “it won’t work” thoughts that creep in and threaten to ruin a perfectly good day, plan, idea, design.

For over a year, I struggled to think how I could approach my Zone 00 Design. This design is an integral component for my diploma and for my well being so of course the procrastination made itself known. What I’ve observed (observe and interact) in the last year, however, is that most of us suffer from procrastination and usually, in situations that are very important to us, making the experience even worse. In the past, I would fight to ignore procrastination when it raised its ugly head. I didn’t want to know about it. The more I ignored it, the worse it became and the more out of control of my own decisions and thoughts I felt.

I’ve realised that, like it or not, procrastination is an integral part of my make up. Yes, I can be a perfectionist but in a positive light, that only serves to highlight how heart-centred I am and how much I dive, heart first, into projects and areas I care about. Yes, I worry, only because I care so much and want it to be right, to reflect what I really feel about the situation at hand. I’m learning, slowly, that rather than procrastination being a negative in my life, something to focus fully on avoiding at all costs, it can be a welcome indicator in my life. Make lemonade with lemons right? Maybe the problem is the solution. Just as weeds in the garden seem like a torment, the more we pull them out angrily, in frustration, the more they seed and sprout and take over. So many weeds are soil indicators for inherent fertility in the soil. They aerate the ground and more importantly, so many weeds are medicinal. Most weeds pop up where we least want them to and oddly, grow when and where we need them the most. Dandelion tea, with its strong, hardy, resistant and detoxing roots, made me well again last Spring after a frightfully long winter. Wild rocket grew rampant and spiced up my soul two summers ago, self seeding joyfully when the soaking wet summer rotted all our potatoes and ruined everything else by attracting monster slugs to the garden. Chickweed, blackberries, rosehips and elderberries all looked after me and nurtured me. Many of these weeds, omnipresent, ravenous and determined not to go away were indicators to something fertile, vibrant and essential for learning more about myself. A good friend and mentor, Suzie Cahn, once sent me a quote about depression. Depression, in its worst form can be the most debilitating illness, a darkness that never goes away. I fought it for a long time. I fought what I thought it meant-procrastination, failed dreams, dreariness, lack of energy, lack of motivation, a dead spark, no instinct, no gut feeling. She sent me this quote “the word depressed is spoken phonetically as ‘deep-rest’. We can view depression not as a mental illness, but on a deeper level, as a profound (and very misunderstood) state of deep rest, entered into when we are completely exhausted by the weight of our own identity” (Jeff Foster)

It took me a LONG time to understand and more importantly, accept the quote. I was so angry at not living this gift of a life as I wanted, that I could only see the weeds. The whole world looked like a forgotten garden and I had neglected it. Procrastination is an indicator, just like depression. It is a time to realise that your approach/actions/thoughts are not benefiting you or how you really feel about the situation. It’s a way of telling you that you are stuck in your head when you have a body, a gut instinct and a well intentioned heart to get the job done. It’s a way of indicating to you that you are not being true to yourself and what your soul really needs to be nourished.

I urge you to see the medicine and the fertility in procrastination. Realise that often and actually nearly always, we need to START before we’re ready. We need to trust our instinct and our passion above our ego and that an over-thinking mind and procrastination are reminders of that, the indicator that you are not being true to yourself, not trusting your instinct and, with regard to permaculture, your designs. Next time you procrastinate, stop trying to out-run it. Stop and face it and realise that it’s actually a solution to your problem in disguise.


All words copyright of Grace

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Two ships passing in the night: Observe and Interact


When we observe a situation it can take one of two directions; objective inquiry or subjective judgement. I may be guilty of the latter in this post as the topic I am writing about today concerns me deeply and affects me directly. When we observe in permaculture we have, I feel, a duty to have one foot in each camp. As designers, we need to be involved in a subjective and interested way but at the same time, have the know-how to stay open minded about the observation, especially when we are trying to find a solution, or solutions to the problem at hand before we interact.

Let me get to the crux of the problem. When did you last buy something out of season? Where did your last kiwi fruit/banana/cucumber/fig come from? How did it get from where it was grown to your fridge? Does it interest you? Have you ever thought about it?

As a kid, teenager and adult, I was always curious to know where my food came from. To me, being able to go out to the back garden and gorge on sweet peas straight from the pod is like heaven. Unwrapping a half-mouldy cucumber from a tightly wrapped plastic wrap is not. I was always enamoured with far away places, preferably tropical ones with exotic sounding fruit like kumquat and my minded drifted with notions of just how far the kiwis I liked so much had travelled from kiwi land, New Zealand.

It was only when I travelled after college that I really looked into farmers’ markets and the idea of local produce. Without realising it, I actively practiced Permaculture’s first principle. I observed. I observed how lively a market place is. I noticed the welcoming smiles from vendors, the chats, inquiries about new cheeses, in season tomatoes, fragrances of herbs whirling around, kids, teenagers, adults, old customers and new. I noticed how alive the whole atmosphere was, how connected people were with their food and each other. There were friendships in place at each counter. Names were exchanged, sausages and veggies and loaves of bread had been kept aside for regulars and new loyalties between customer and stall owner/farmer/baker were being formed. People handled and smelt their food, savoured the tastes, had a curiosity as to the taste and origin of the produce. There was music and laughter, even on the rainy market days. There was a sense of practicalities mixed with creativity. There was a sense of achievement. I loved it all.

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Then I came home. I walked into Tesco. I was immediately depressed. The music was mixed with sounds of kids crying and the deafening absence of chit-chat or banter. Customers became consumers before my very eyes. Fruit and vegetables were thrown into their baskets. There was no care and most of the products I saw in the fresh food section came from countries other than Ireland. I noticed that the ones that were from Ireland were promoted massively since the last few years have seen a fantastic surge in home-made, local, Irish-originated food. Big businesses need to tap into that to make money. They can see the appeal. Their focus is to deter us from that idea. Sean Reilly from Tipperary was smiling from a promotional poster, happy that we were buying his turnips for 40 cent, Sheila Kavanagh was delighted that her herbs, wrapped in plastic packaging at over €2.00, was being sold to consumers at Tesco. I was curious as I observed the shopping experience around me at Tesco. As a corporation, companies like it do not have the customer in mind, it has a consumer in mind. The more mindlessly a consumer buys products, including food, the greater the profits.

Walking around farmer’s markets in Dublin this summer, I noticed how it is just as important for farmers and food producers to make their money. It is the way that they do it that differentiates them from big companies like Tesco. They also need to make a profit. They also try to convince people that they should buy their produce. The difference is the relationship between the two. Tesco and other supermarket chains focus on profits and the shortest, surest way to do that is to focus on their own needs entirely. If that means providing substandard, nutrient deficient “fresh” fruit and vegetables, so be it. If that plan involves killing farmer profits by demanding increasingly cheaper produce then so be it.

I observed that there is a sense of humanity missing in places like Tesco that is simply thriving in farmer’s markets. There is a healthy, symbiotic relationship between producer and customer, rather than a linear, depriving relationship between share-holders and mindless consumers. If we look at what David Holmgren had to say about design he states, “Good design depends on a free and harmonious relationship between nature and people, in which careful observation and thoughtful interaction provide the design inspiration.” For me, farmer’s markets and local food work with nature and the relationship is thoroughly harmonious and thoughtful simply from the perspective of beneficial inter-connected relationships between customer and producer.

There is also another facet to this observation of food and our interactions with its industry that interests me. Did you know that the same apples that we import from New Zealand can be grown in Ireland? Did you know that China provides pesticides for countries such as France to control mono-cropped out of season produce that we then import, such as the plastic-wrapped cucumber I mentioned earlier? What about that Teagasc, The Irish Agriculture and Food Development Authority, is training new young farmers to convert beef stock to dairy, to sell and export to the Chinese? Every day in Irish ports and globally, two ships pass, carrying more or less the same food. We export our beef and import the same. We import blueberries from South America and garlic from China when eating locally and seasonally could shift the outgoing of profit and health and keep it in our own countries.

I’m not some eco warrior who is completely guilt free. I have shopped in Tesco. I love blueberries on my porridge. I crave tropical fruit on a rainy day but I am convinced that two ships passing with the same food has to be wrong on many levels, for our economy, our food industry, our pockets and our health. This year, I plan to support the local food industry even more. I simply cannot go into Tesco again. Local Indian/Vietnamese/Polish stores coupled with growing in my own garden and buying locally at the markets is something I feel good about. I am going to embrace the chats, enthusiastic exchanges, warmth and eagerness of it all. This is my interaction with the problem as I see it. This is my solution. Please, join me.


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There is a thriving farmer’s market scene in all cities in Ireland and in smaller towns. West Cork is especially blessed with local markets. I’m in Dublin at the moment so, until the weather gets better and I go on some more road trips, these are some I recommend.

Temple Bar markets: Saturdays

Howth Harbour market: Sunday 10-3pm 

Dun Laoghaire People’s Park market: Sunday, 11-4pm

This website is also great: 

Here is a list of markets around Ireland: 

If you are interested in learning more about markets and local producers, check out Clodagh McKenna’s book, The Irish Farmer’s Market Cookbook but the Queen of Irish Farmer’s markets, the woman who brought farmer’s markets back to life in Ireland is Darina Allen (

Three way street: Permaculture ethics on the ground


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These are seeds. They’re from my garden. I collected them this year. I’ve never been more proud.

As someone who is very interested, concerned and passionate about this planet we live on and our connection to it, I was troubled and angered this last year especially hearing about Monsanto’s continued and dogged plans to take over our food. How could a company possible take over our food? Let me explain.

In permaculture, as in nature, the most productive pattern you can find or establish is the spiral. It is cyclical, it grows, evolves, moves, curves, develops and takes its environment into account. Linear patterns of A to B, found in the modern world, from education to health care, business plans and bank loans are inflexible, isolated from their surroundings and seem to be devoid of ethics in a way that benefits all involved, rather than those at the top.

Intricate to permaculture are principles; guidelines set out to help us plan and design. At the foundation of these principles are a set of three ethics that form the basis of all designs. I remember when I first heard about them on my permaculture certificate course. My mind was blown away. The ethics made complete sense and I realised this was how I had always seen the world and not in the linear, start at the bottom and get to the top by any means, pattern.

Earth care, fair share and people care. It couldn’t be simpler. Earth care involves thinking about the earth as a living thing that grows and breathes. This might sound hippy dippy until you think that when we treat the earth with care, nourish the soil, only take what we need, maintain healthy soil and clean water and air, the returns are immeasurably fantastic. When we pollute the water, deforest the land, mono crop and fertilize the soil and plants with chemicals, it becomes sick. Fair share is something that is really missing in the modern world which seems dominated by competition and taking what you can, while you can. Fair share involves taking what you need and sharing the surplus. It fosters community and sharing and recognizes that there are limits to growth, something that a linear system does not. By applying fair share, we can share an abundance and save enough for everyone, now and in the future. Finally People care. Much of the linear, modern patterns of behaviour and practice that exists in education and commercial worlds today involves competing with others to get where and what you want. People care recognizes ourselves and others. The ethics of people care is two fold. It reminds us that in order to take care of ourselves, we must be self reliant and take responsibility for ourselves and our needs. People care also reminds us that this is best done with others since there is an abundance of creativity, ideas, inspiration and energy to be gained from a group.

What does all this talk of ethics and collaboration and not polluting our water and soil have to do with seeds?

When I think of permaculture, I get a little overwhelmed. Ok, very overwhelmed. There is so much involved and, especially when it comes to design, it can be very daunting. There are three things I have learnt about how we can all start. Composting, ethics and seed saving. Composting takes responsibility for the waste we produce and nurtures and builds soil fertility. It is the building block of our responsibility for earth care. Understanding ethics gives us an eye-opening perspective on our place in this world and a connection with the earth and our community. Seed saving brings earth share, people care and fair share together.

How is Monsanto trying to take that away? They want to own all your seeds and are doing so in a handy little 3 step plan.

Step 1: Target poor farmers. In India, companies like Monsanto targeted poor farmers in India, promising that if they bought their seeds instead of using ones saved for generations, their yields would be exponential. They borrowed on credit, using their land as collateral. Seeds would only grow using the companies fertilizer, which in turn kills the soil, making it unusable for any other brand of seed. When the yield did not match up, Monsanto then confiscated the land. Have a look at this fantastic video to learn more.]

Step 2: Develop GM seeds that contaminate normal, healthy seeds. Once crops are planted, during pollination, bees and wind carry seeds to neighbouring non GM crops and irrevocably contaminate the crops. Then sue the farmer for stealing the property, bankrupting those farmers and spreading more GM across the country. Have a look here: This news report from Monsanto’s website tells their side of the story:

Step 3: The final part, to be one of the main companies in the world that owns seeds and to prevent you from owning them. The European commission earlier last year planned to introduce the  “Plant Reproductive Material Law” which regulates all plants. It contains restrictions on vegetables and woodland trees, as well as all other plants of any species. It will be illegal to grow, reproduce, or trade any vegetable seed or tree that has not been been tested and approved by the government, more specifically the “EU Plant Variety Agency.” This was funded in the millions by companies like Monsanto to pass and become law. If the only people who can afford to register “safe” seeds are companies like Monsanto who have had their seeds lab tested and modified, then their seeds will be the only ones we will legally be allowed to use. It also means that if you don’t register and you save seeds or share them with neighbours, friends or seed banks, you are at risk of being criminalized.

For the sake of ethics, let’s have a look at the 3 step plan. Step 1 involves no fair share for the farmers. They are required to stop sharing seeds, halting the running of the seed bank, working on their own to cultivate a crop they are legally not allowed to share. Earth care no longer plays a part in step 1. The soil is overworked with a mono crop with the added strain of GM seeds and fertilizers. People care doesn’t factor, unless you consider the people at the shareholders board of companies like Monsanto making all that money. Step 2 is a magnified version of step 1 with the added strain of fear of having your land taken away from you and being contaminated even though you never planted their GM seeds in the first place. Step 3 takes our right to care for the earth away by not contaminating it with pollutants since GM only grow with their corresponding chemical fertilizer. This also destroys the soil. There is no fair share; all profits will go to the company and people care is not part of this plan at all.

Now I really don’t want to diminish your spirits. That is not what all this is about. If you have read this post so far, good on you. You stuck with it. Now comes the best part. Companies like Monsanto have founded their business plan on a faulty design. The foundation of their business is based on an isolated, linear pattern that is unsustainable. You might think there is nothing you can do to stop all this but you can. Let’s design a system where earth care, people care and fair share are our foundation.

Save your seeds.

It really is that simple. Buy from local heirloom seed savers. Share your seeds with your friends and neighbours. Save your seeds. Plant self seeding varieties, especially ones that make the bees happy! (more on this later)

If you think that something so simple couldn’t possibly make a difference, Google seed saving and see the endless list of people doing just that!

One person can’t make a difference but if we plant the seeds in the earth we have taken care of, share the seeds we harvest and spread this knowledge with others, we can create a living future instead of a toxic one. Off you go, save those seeds.

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New year, new moon, new beginnings


It’s 2014. Finally! In many ways, 2013 taught me a lot. In many other ways, to be completely honest, it traumatised me and was far too harsh with the amount of fire balls it threw in my direction.

The Action Learning Pathway component of my diploma is something I have skilfully avoided. I liked the idea of Zone 00 but there was just too much going on in my life to be able to calm things down enough to focus on myself. Normally, I shy away completely from new year’s resolutions. I am forever making lists of things to do for the day, the week and my life in general so I never saw the benefit of holding myself to something I would only probably give up later. I don’t smoke, drink moderately and exercise and eat well so I’m not about to quit smoking or sign up for a 12 month gym membership.

My lists are more to do with how I can make myself and my life better and that can be punishing in its own way. I have decided after a year or neglect, I am going to spend this year doing things that care for me and my happiness. This blog has the potential to burn a bright light on my diploma and therefore, the passions in my life. Neglecting it, then, is in a very simple way, neglecting myself and my needs, something which I’d like to focus on this year and for the rest of my life. Instead of leaving it until the right time, when I have more time or it’s quieter in the house or I’m less tired, I’m just doing it.

Part of my diploma is to use connections and networks I already have available to me but that are underused because I ignore them. One easy on is the Permaculture Diploma Facebook page where one user asks every Monday how everyone is getting on with their designs and diploma in general. Every Monday I ignore it and think I’m an eejit afterwards. This week, something really helpful was posted and I’m going to use it. Four simple questions as a review of 2013. Later in the week, I’m going to use the answers to address a design for my ALP for 2014.

Question 1: What went well in 2013?

  • I can be positive and say I got a new job after many months of being very broke. I got a job as a  TEFL teacher, using my skills but on my terms
  • I met some brilliant people and made new friends
  • I made the most of the sunshine
  • My garden design worked really well in my parents’ back garden
  • I lost weight in a healthy way
  • I got over my fear of cycling in the city
  • I got to know Dublin more
  • I ended a very negative and destructive relationship
  • I learnt to be honest with my family and my life and my feelings
  • I became proud of myself as a teacher
  • I booked a flight to New Zealand
  • I paid off my credit card loan that has been haunting me for over 6 years
  • I enrolled for the permaculture diploma
  • I sought out a diploma tutor that I admired and got her help
  • I found out that I have very supportive friends
  • I learnt to love my body
  • I started my food blog which linked in with my diploma
  • I learnt not to judge myself so harshly
  • I learnt a lot about plants, especially herbs and vegetables
  • I met some great people involved in growing food in Sligo

Question 2: What was challenging in 2013?

  • Seeing my Mam go through the last stages of her cancer treatment before she recovered
  • Being involved in a loving relationship gone wrong
  • Having a broken heart
  • Having to leave to diploma projects behind me without the opportunity to see them complete
  • Being incredibly stressed
  • Not having time for myself
  • Not having time or the energy to make time to write up the diploma work I have done already
  • Not staying connected to permaculture because of time and weather and work and therefore losing the spark I first got when I did the certificate over two years ago
  • Living in a house that didn’t meet my needs
  • Feeling like my life was not progressing in any way close to how I wanted
  • Damaging my ankle and having my bike stolen meant less exercise and more stress
  • Being unable to stop worrying about the small stuff
  • Having a lot of burden, upset and negativity in my life from people in my life I was close to

Question 3: What are my intentions for 2014?

  • I make lists, I always have but they are lists I forget about and many detail things that are really important to me.
  • This year, I would like to learn about my time, relationships, energy and interests
  • Before the new year, I intended to write a bucket list but instead of writing one for my life, I’ve written one solely for 2014.
  • The list details activities, intentions, habits and values.
  • I also intend to respect MYSELF, MY SPACE, MY TIME, MY ENERGY, MY HEART and MY GUT

Question 4: How will I start the year?

  • I am starting the year with a smile on my face and an attitude of “go and do it”
  • I am going to do things that make me FEEL good in my heart and gut, not my head
  • I am starting the year as I mean to continue. This year is a game-changer and I plan to make the most of everyday instead of leaving my life until tomorrow


  • Go to New Zealand, Surf more, be a better friend, do something just for me everyday, swim more (especially in the sea), buy a cool camera, take more photos, try SUPing or kitesurfing again, start guerrilla gardening, get involved in a community garden, find great housemates, cook for friends, sing in an open mike, stay in touch and be a better auntie, visit Italy, snowboard, go to more parties, go swing dancing, see more comedians and live music, play guitar, go to New York/Berlin and see urban gardens, play the ukulele, sell jewellery at markets, go snorkelling somewhere warm, volunteer, do something meaningful for charity, get to know my neighbours, make a documentary/series of videos of people that inspire me, finish 6 Diploma designs, finish Diploma, Go to Norway with Jo, visit Sri Lanka, do a cob building workshop, do a course in The Organic centre, go horse-riding, meditate, do the 5km swim with Delfin, see more of Ireland, make the most of my free time, read more books, do things that feed the spark, save money, stress less, eat out in cafes and restaurants that inspire me, kiss a MAN, watch quality films, paint, do a beekeeping course  write about what interests me, follow my gut and heart not head, go rollerblading, go on a surf holiday, run a workshop with friends, do more permaculture, grow food for myself and others, get paid for writing/designs, go on a road trip, sort out my music, learn something new, laugh more from the heart, have some of my writing published, seek opportunities to smile and laugh

That’s it! First post done

Where homes begin

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Where homes begin

This bell tent is the first home that I have ever owned. A place I could orientate whichever way I chose, fill with whatever furniture my heart desired. A place that belonged to no one else except me and my boyfriend at the time. Once purchased, it was ours, no-one else’s. It was small enough but perfect for two people. Three metres in diameter but completely and utterly perfect.

For years, I have longed for a place to call my own, to do with as I pleased, to be myself in. At the same time, I have always wanted to travel, minimal possessions, moving from one place to another and meeting fascinating people along the way in beautiful locations in cities and outside. When I first moved to Dublin over two years ago, I was curious what city living was going to be like and I was beyond lucky to find a lovely housemate to share that experience with. It was only when I decided to move in with my boyfriend that I realised how meagre, unimaginative and down right depressing rentals in Dublin’s fair city can be. After two long months of trawling websites, we finally settled on a one bed apartment that radiated a meanness of spirit. Our hands were tied. We were paying E750 but there was nothing we could do to the place to make it our own. We lasted six weeks after realising that we do not need to rely on other people’s standards when we have ideas of our own on how we wanted to live.

Hence the bell tent idea. A tipi was too impermanent and a yurt was out of our budget. The bell tent was the perfect solution. I laugh now at the memory that it took us hours to put the tent up the first time, whereas now, it’s embarrassingly simple. We lived in that tent for the summer, a summer that rained incessantly, a summer of unemployment and family illness. There were several times I wanted to follow that side of me that yearns to travel but I felt compelled to stay and be supportive. Owning and living in that tent saved me that summer. Living in that bell tent helped me realise that compromises can be made between travel and staying put, between transience and constancy. Leaving the city behind and entering that tent each evening was akin to going on an adventure, travelling somewhere else for a few hours and feeling safe and exhilarated at the same time.

Right now it’s almost December and over a year since I lived in that bell tent. I’m renting a room in a shared house five minutes from the city and all I can think about is the need for a place of my own, a sanctuary, a calm space that is my own. I am being equally pulled on both sides by the desires to travel and learn and seek out new places and the desire to take root here in Dublin and find a place for myself to call home. A place where there are no landlords, where I can spend the warmest months of the year close to the city and travel far away when it gets too cold.

I realise now that two years ago when we bought that tent, I embarked on something I never thought possible in this country, especially not in Dublin. I started to live in a space I wanted, freely, with a garden and a community around me. If that was possible in a three metre tent in a back garden in the city with virtually no money to speak of then surely it can only become more possible with time. I have hope that buying that tent was the beginning. Buying that tent was where my home began. I’d like to thank him for embracing that whacky idea I had of living in a tent in the back garden and for thinking that it was the best crazy idea he’d heard of.