2017 Aspirations

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I wrote last year about how I prefer to set down ‘aspirations’ compared to ‘resolutions’ at the turn of the new year. In 2016, these aspirations were not a rod for my back (as resolutions can be) but a focal point to return to throughout the year. They focused the mind without disheartening it. By now most resolutions will have fallen by the wayside but, with life’s recent changes, I’m still dreaming for the year ahead.

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Both/And

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It isn’t unusual for our dinner conversation to turn to what a wholly sustainable life looks like. We can find ourselves treading a familiar path of logic: that the only way to avoid harming the natural world and other people is to escape the infrastructure and culture of the modern world; both can be so unkind. A truly sustainable life would be living off our own land, off the grid. Making and growing our own. Total retreat.

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The Bees

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When I saw on Twitter that Kew Gardens (a Royal Botanical Gardens and botanical research institute, for non-UK readers) were giving away free packets of wild flower seeds, my first thought (after ‘FREE STUFF!’ – love a bargain) was, ‘I know people who will get on board with this’. The couple of months between ordering the seeds and receiving them had, to be honest, rather put the initiative out of my mind. I’d also failed to tell my husband, so he was welcomed home one day with: “I forgot to to tell you I ordered 100 packets of seeds! Where shall we plant them?” Plant some we did, the rest we distributed to eager hands – friends and colleagues glad to be easily enabled to be part of the ‘Grow Wild’ initiative.

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All that potential

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Last year we moved house, gaining stewardship of a garden for the first time. Our bodies and minds were nourished by the time spent there, digging in the dirt, relaxing in the open air, as well as the seven strawberries and handful of basil we managed to grow. One of our aspirations for 2016 was to grow more of our own food – a move towards greater self-sufficiency as well as reconnecting us with nature and where our food comes from.

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Chemicals in our home // the starting point

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One of my 2016 aspirations was to look at the chemicals in our home. The European Environment Agency recommends prudence when it comes to the chemicals to which we expose ourselves and the environment. The blame cannot be laid on a single chemical; it’s the range of them and how they interact with each other that’s the real problem. The thing that challenged me is: I know very little about the cocktail of chemicals I purchase, apply, spray. It’s time to change that.

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Being neighbourly

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A couple of weeks ago I had the chance to share some of the thoughts I’ve had and things I’ve learned about being neighbourly in the 21st century. Around 40 women had gathered to share breakfast and friendship, and to hear about an amazing charity called The Gate which works with women in the sex trade in Southampton. I had the privilege of putting the work of The Gate in the wider context of a call to be radically neighbourly in our day to day lives.

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2016 Aspirations

2016_aspirations

When catching up on the Downton Abbey Christmas special, the post-festive season adverts told me it was time to start getting fit, redecorating the house and booking holidays. These themes did arise in our New Year’s Eve reflections on the year past and the days ahead, but they weren’t the only features of our discussion. We are content with the framework we have established for our lives, prioritising sustainable living, fostering community, exploring creativity and honouring God. In 2016 we hope to continue on this trajectory, which means making more incremental steps to thread these throughout the fabric of our lives.

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Generosity

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It’s that time of year again, when we think about fairy lights, the reason for the season, and giving. Christmas 2015 has come late to the Kendal household as this has also been a time when illness, a guest that never had a welcome to outstay, took up a residence for two months. I think we are finally managing to show it the door. Despite the lack of decorations and mulled wine, I’ve been thinking about how and why we give.

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