The summer has arrived, the wind and earth is warm, the seeds have matured and are yielding fruit, so now it is my time to do the same. In dealing with a big transition of my own, nature is a constant inspiration as I strive to create the ideal environment in which my family will flourish. This is my time to sew hardy seeds, to nurture, love them, and protect them. Allow them the time, space and optimum conditions to dig deep, grow strong and generate sturdy, healthy and sustainable yields that carry us all through this next real time positive transition.
As introduced in my previous blogs in this Danish Delivery series. I am using the Design Web Model, created by Looby Macmanara to help manifest our ideal scene for our real time positive transition; The Danish Delivery.
In this blog I wanted to look in more detail at the ‘how’. How do you proactively create and manifest your ideal scene when faced with such a seemingly overwhelming prospect?
Where to start – Reflection and Pause
When you begin, and you really can begin anywhere, then the design will flow naturally. The key is to start!
To begin my design using this model I took the Design Web diagram of the 12 anchor points.
[diagram taken from people and permaculture with permission from Looby Macnamara]
Twelve scraps of paper, and coloured pens, and I sat in my greenhouse. I knew already that my design topic would be about our ongoing transition to Denmark and all that it entailed.
I had no title, just twelve blank bits of paper. Without thought I began. I wrote each anchor title in the middle of the page, I read the open questions linked to each anchor out loud, and wrote down anything and everything that came to mind. I attached no judgement to the words, and used symbols, pictures, underlining, bold, capitals…however it appeared was simply how it happened naturally.
I took my time but did not dwell on each anchor, it was okay whatever came on that day, at that time. I guess in total I spent about 30 minutes brain dumping my thoughts. IT FELT SO GOOD!!
When do we ever do that? When do we ever take that 30 minutes to get rid of all that stuff that we are carrying around and put it down onto paper? The freshness it gave me, the insights it generated, triggered more thoughts. That one simple exercise gave me the space to begin thinking creatively. It gave me momentum to continue, it gave me energy, drive and focus to move forward with the process. It’s not to say that my way was wrong or right, I don’t enjoy language like good / bad – it doesn’t add value to the conversation. If you want to, and it’s your style, then you could spend hours delving deeper into each anchor point.
You could do this up front and then again and again throughout the process. The point is to do what fits you, what helps you, what allows you to grow in confidence in your thinking and your expression of action.
Often when designing we are not starting from scratch, often there are systems in place already or relationships that need to be incorporated into a new design. This can be distracting and possibly even hinder creativity. It is good practice to leave all assumptions, habits and processes aside, and design from the ground up. See this as your white canvas, your empty flower bed, your new website, new team, new house. However, you like to process ‘new’ then gift yourself a few moments and work systematically through the design web anchors and see what happens. When we allow our thoughts to flow in a non-judgemental and compassionate way using a systematic thinking process, ideas simply float to the surface like water lilies smiling on a pond.
The beauty of the Design Web is that each anchor point is a whole system of thinking and creativity on its own, which reach out and connect with others. This allows us to visualise clearly the connections. Some may be previously known, too obvious not to, but others may be new, showing the subtlety of the design and connectivity of the whole. This is where I often think of those circles of mushrooms that pop up in the damp months of late September/ October. They appear over-night, all connections made underground, unseen by the eye yet so apparent in the creation of perfect fairy communities.
What is key in this design model is increasing the opportunity for self-awareness and self-observation. Noticing your thoughts, your habits, the areas you find trickier than others to complete as these provide us with an insight into what is holding us back. We can use these clues in de-layering a number of the 12 anchors but first we need to notice them.
Reflection and pause became a key component of my design from very early on. Gifting myself the opportunity to pause, notice, reflect and adapt. These pause moments came at my ‘sit-spots’ (future blog on its way). Key areas for me around my house, garden and local walks where I feel most connected with nature and therefore most open hearted to experience. I will examine this in more detail in a future blog but for now they are simply places for reflection.
Taking the next step – Vision
The next steps are to add textures and colours to the bare bones of the design. In my brain dump exercise I noticed that the vision anchor point came very easily to me, it was the page with the most writing on. It therefore, made sense and felt right for me to begin in more detail there. BUT REMEMBER, this is a web of connections, you can begin anywhere, and flow anywhere you like after that.
‘A time for unboundaried dreaming, to express what abundances we want to create and our ideals; our ideal self, livelihood, family, group and community’ from People and Permaculture, Looby Macnamara.
I could visualise my ideal scene; how I want to feel; what success would look like; the conversations I would be having; the joy expressed in the hearts and minds of my children. HOWEVER, often it is very difficult to visualise your ideal scene and the open questions alone may not be enough. Here is it often helpful to partner up with a professional who can help with visualisation techniques, or get creative with a vision/mood board, or tell a story, or get painting. Once you begin to vocalise it, the connections begin to appear. You will begin to see what skills and resources you have internally and externally, and what you currently need. This then steps you gently into the next phase of the Design Web, your Helps and Limits anchor points.
Helps and Limits
‘We can overcome our modesty and value what we have’ from People and Permaculture, Looby Macnamara.
To systematically push this forward it can be useful to conduct a skill audit (an internal resource audit) as well as identify and document the external resources to hand.
For this exercise, I began to think about my passions, my natural instinctive skill set, my current knowledge, abilities, strengths, joy, humour. I then repeated this for my direct family. In addition, I focussed on the external helps. I thought about our support networks, the community, friendship circles, professional bodies, both for myself and my family. Before long I had an extensive and comprehensive list of Helps, where before I began I could have easily been of the assumption this was limited.
This is such a huge area to explore and one I personally find fascinating, I have already written a blog on this called ‘Self-Awareness and Limits are your answer’. The limits we impose on ourselves are numerous, some we are conscious of but others not so. The patterns we reinforce routinely, which may have been of benefit in the past, are so ingrained in our behaviours now that we don’t see how they are no longer relevant or helpful, particularly to the focused task in hand.
To take some time identifying these and building a bigger appreciation of their hold over us, can be the golden nugget of information needed to really make a huge positive shift. Building on limits or limiting patterns can help in providing nutrients to feed the integration anchor point.
Ideas and Principles
At this stage I could feel the ex-project manager in me biting to build a table and get started on exactly how and who and when and what. But before all that I took another breath, another pause and reflected on what I had learnt so far. Another reason for the integration of the sit-spot practice or core routine, to create a naturally engaging habit which spores creative energy. Here in this anchor point you can really play. Play with anything that comes to mind. You may want to use random objects to represent key areas of your design, you may be inspired by your natural environment and it may trigger an idea. Any wild wacky crazy thought is valid. Every time you are working on other anchor points and something clicks or triggers an idea, just jot it down here. You may not have an idea how it connects together yet, but that’s okay, the key is not to lose it. Don’t lose those inspirational nuggets of intuition, they are priceless.
Using the permaculture principles here does not need to be onerous. I simply chose one which best fitted the purpose, the overarching focus of my design and I used this sometimes on walks or at the sit-spot for inspiration. Sometimes just as a sort of grounding mantra…to create some space from the last attention focus to the now. I also attempted to use them in the integration anchor to enhance the efficiency and productivity of the design. If I ever felt like I was wavering off point I would use them as a first stop to create momentum. I also used other inspirational cards that a colleague had made, what ever is best fit to keep the momentum in the design flowing.
Integration and Action
‘Finding ways of how to reach our vision and designing the pathway there’ from People and Permaculture, Looby Macmanara
Now we are talking to an ex-project manager! However, I felt the most blocked at this particular stage! It took me much longer than I anticipated to put all the thoughts and learnings into a useful format to process. I had to personally work through the egocentric ‘overwhelmed’ moments. It is a big anchor point this one, it’s where we really start making the shit real!
Metaphorically I took a frying pan of limits and flipped them on their heads like a pancake. For example, transparency in communication is key to the success of our Danish Delivery. This can be broken down into quite a few functions of communication and stemmed from identifying communication breakdowns as a possible visible, and in some cases invisible, limit. From this we created a function ‘create a functioning positive, transparent communication flow’ then from this you can begin to add the filling to the pancake – for example, create a zoom/skype family account, share dates, events proactively, agree a communication plan, avoid assumptions, set up routines for communicating including appreciation and gratitude etc. etc. The next step is to decide how often you want to eat pancakes and do you want them as savoury and sweet; bi-weekly, mini family chats, 1:1 etc.
Whilst this took a long time, it created the most useful information which is the bedrock for this design.
It was however in the form of a table and by now I was in desparate need of more colour and playing with pens, before creating another table of actions. So here I made some mandalas [nowadays a more generic term for any diagram, chart or geometric pattern that represents the cosmos metaphysically or symbolically; a microcosm of the universe] I took a blank page and started drawing patterns, grouping topics from all the raw data I had. Getting creative helped me identify 6 key functions to our design and 12 key systems. With this I was able to create an action table of deliverables based around this concept.
Please remember no way is the wrong way, or the right way, it’s just your way. A plan can be as simple or as complicate as you need. It can flex up and down as you flow through your design. The simple facts are to keep it achievable, realistic, fun, motivational, easy to use and positively double jointed, allowing it to move where it needs to go.
Momentum and Appreciation
‘Trees do not grow overnight, nor does our fitness or healthy relationships. Being patient with the natural processes make the most of our efforts’ from People and Permaculture, Looby Macnamara.
Procrastination… it’s a killer of all great ideas, avoidance, lack of patience, not seeing or appreciating the positive steps forward no matter how small. At this anchor it could be an idea to reflect back on limits and patterns and see if you can identify any behaviours, thoughts, blocks that may get in your way here. Is there anything, anyone you can identify to be your sounding board? To help you through the cloudy days? Are there any agreements you can proactively agree with yourself and document up front that will help you identify and celebrate progress made?
In fitness, this is where you may fall off the wagon with a diet schedule or fitness regime because an illness or event kicked you off your path. What can you do to plan for this and re-engage?
The key is diligence, keep going, with that focus. If you need a break take a break with that key focus in mind.
Momentum in the Danish delivery is primarily focussed on trying out new communication methods and practising them with more regularity so they become more or less innate. Commitment to self to not over assume, I am practising becoming more conscious when I begin to hear negative voices and sharing that vulnerability. I believe actions will always speak louder than any words so the intention is to daily keep my garden watered, nurtured and productive both literally and metaphorically.
Appreciate the process, the journey, the steps you make, the dance you weave, those who helped, that which inspired. Give love inwardly to ourselves, it is very much part of the journey and not to be missed as an anchor. Taking the time here will further embed those new positive pathways, the new connections made in thinking and are highly likely to generate even more perhaps even bigger picture connection.
Nothing is lost by giving thanks, only more to gain.
- Thank you for being part of this journey and design.
- If you would like more in-depth information on the design web check out People and Permaculture, Looby Macnamara.
- If you have any questions please get in touch.
- I will be keeping you updated on our journey using videos on my YouTube channel, feel free to browse.