The following is a reflection by Nina on the  co-creative process of this design;

Nina’s Reflections on leaving England

Hope I like the life I find when I leave everything behind…”

‘Leaving Home’ by Jebediah

The two months leading up to our departure from England were extremely rewarding and extremely taxing. Preparing for long-term, open-ended travel was an entirely new experience for us, and at times, a little surreal: “Are we really going?,” “there’s still so much to do!”, “I just want to get to a beach in Thailand” were a few of the thoughts that crossed our minds during this hectic period.

As we came closer to our date of departure we began experimenting with the term ’emigrating’. It brought home to us the scope and gravity of what it was we were attempting to do. This was not another one of Richie and Nina’s mad dashes to India, but a coordinated and protracted worldwide adventure, which had as its destination, a new life in a new country.

From my return from New York on the 23rd of November to our departure from London on the 23rd of January, life in the UK took on a frenetic pace. Although we were evolving a considered and creative permaculture design, there were times when we felt overwhelmed, panicky and frustrated. It was a time of pushing edges – coming up against fears, boundaries and expectations. Learning to care for ourselves and one another during this highly pressurised time was one of the most invaluable lessons we were learning.

It was clear from the outset that there was one very important goal for us: leaving the UK with a feeling of having fulfilled our obligations to ourselves and the people we loved. ‘Downsizing’, ‘consolidating’ and ‘tying up loose ends’ became mainstays of our daily conversation. Feeling it was essential to aim toward a date for departure we settled on the 5th of January. We felt this would allow a reasonable amount of time for us to achieve our goal, while at the same time, maximising opportunities for celebration and socialising. Being present in the UK for his birthday, Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve were essential for Richie.

As we moved toward our date of departure, time for recreation, pleasure and relaxation became scarce. We were getting squeezed on all sides. This was one area of our lives and our design where we had to continually to adapt, cut corners, re-jig and roll with the punches – stealing a moment here for a cup of tea with Richie’s parents, or a moment there to head out and listen to tunes at a mate’s house. As useful as the design process was in accounting for times to unwind and celebrate, it was the little unforeseen gaps and windows of opportunity that opened up in surprising and unexpected ways, that provided the most pleasure and relief for us during these busy weeks.

Having less enduring ties to England and being less embedded in the community, I had considerably less to think about than Richie and more time on my hands. This was both good and bad. Good in that I was able to devote myself to supporting and nurturing my partner, but also challenging insofar as I often felt impatient to be on the road. This in turn, put more pressure on Richie to be ‘effective’ and manage his time and energy in a prudent manner.

Dealing with doubts and a constant feeling of being in limbo – neither here nor there – was one of the more challenging aspects of this time. Feeling obstructed from free-flows of creative energy; lacking independence and feeling boxed-in (partly due to sharing the house with family; partly due to being unwell; and partly due to the ‘indoors’ nature of winter in the Northern hemisphere) were other issues that I struggled with during this time.

In order to make the most of my time in England and to feel more effective/active I commenced research on some aspects of our travel, including booking the first leg to Morocco, and taking charge of our pre-travel health arrangements. Allowing myself time to nurture myself by taking walks, reading books, meditating and watching films was something I had to work on, especially when I observed that my partner was overstretched and stressed. At times it became evident that both Richie’s and my needs would be better served by me absenting myself from the chapel. At these times I went to Shrubb where I was better able to fulfil my need for solitude, communion, creativity and independence. In turn, this allowed Richie to get on with his tasks, and to spend some valuable ‘alone’ time with his parents.

Being adaptive and responsive to change were two very real skills that Richie and I worked on during this period. Events such as falling ill and having our van blow up presented new challenges, and with them, new solutions. In some respects, our lack of mobility forced us into closer relation with Richie’s parents and friends, as we had to be more resourceful, organising lift shares and stacking functions by accomplishing several ‘chores’ in a single outing. It also opened up the door for opportunities for physical exercise and communion with nature, such as the occasion when we walked from the Chapel to the Patch to do a day of work on the land.

Reflecting back over the whole design process I feel very proud of what we achieved, and still a little in awe. I have a number of very warm memories of times we shared with friends and family, and feel full of excitement and possibility when I think of the Patch and the many lives (plant and animal) that will be flourishing there in our absence. I feel proud of how Richie and I supported one another during this time. Certainly there were times when we lost our cool and took out our frustrations on one another. But for the most part we collaborated harmoniously, exercising sensitivity and good grace in allowing one another to achieve what we had to achieve.

I was impressed no end by Richie’s resourcefulness, his ingenuity, good humour and his commitment to the design process during this remarkable phase of our lives. I feel I have learnt alot about my partner during this period – his strength, his weaknesses, his ways of coping and his methods of expressing himself. I have also learnt a lot about the importance of respecting my own needs, even when they diverge from the needs of my partner. And never – NEVER – to underestimate the importance of the 80/20 rule!

One of the greatest insights that I gleaned from this process is that in every good permaculture design there is a place for grace, surrender, faith, creativity and fun!

Skills/lessons learnt, re-learnt and brought home by this experience:

  • Sensitivity in dealing with highly charged emotional situations

  • Respecting one’s own needs and boundaries

  • Respecting one’s partner’s needs and boundaries

  • Being humble and asking for help

  • Being humble and accepting that one will continue to come up against the same edges and negative habits of mind again and again

  • It is not ‘indulgent’ to look after one’s health and wellbeing – it’s essential!

  • The importance of honest, straightforward communication

  • Tolerance and compassion

  • Resourcefulness and ingenuity in stacking functions

  • Time management

  • Being flexible and adaptive to change

  • Learning not to react to ‘catostrophic’ or ‘negative’ thinking (this too shall pass!)

  • The benefit of avoiding micro-management; leaving room for chance and spontaneity

  • Faith and a positive mental attitude!

  • Avoid lists and instead rely on ‘next achievable steps’

  • When you’re sick – rest!

  • It’s okay to say ‘no’, no matter how much you love someone

  • Whatever you can do, or can’t do, it’s okay. And most likely, it’s okay by everyone else too.

A permaculture design that does not account for the following needs (of all interested parties) is quite frankly, a bit shit:

  • the need for spontaneity

  • the need for solitude

  • the need for creativity

  • the need for exercise

  • the need for celebration

  • the need for meaning/meaningfulness

  • the need to be effective

  • the need to be heard

  • the need for contact with nature

  • the need for warmth, comfort and shelter

  • the need for nurturing

  • the need to nurture

  • the need for community

  • the need for learning

  • the need for intimacy

  • the need for rest and rejuvenation!

To infinity and beyond….

2 responses to “Co-Creation

  1. Hey Darling – it’s great isn’t it to finally close the door on this design and look forward with aspiration and growing energy to Project 3 and life on the road? We did it! I have left England feeling I’ve really cemented my friendships with our mates and with our family. I really enjoyed living with your parents at the Chapel and value the ocassions this opened up to explore your family history. I love the cudgel! Also looking forward to finding the old Farmbrough farm when we’re back in the UK and researching what variety of pear tree that was. I want one in the food forest!

  2. A lovely insight and affirmation of your co- creative work. Thanks for sharing so thoughtfully and considerately. I really enjoy your writing and have enjoyed your blogs. Looking forward to keeping track of your progress and criss crossing it at times perhaps…. x

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