That time of year

It seems to be that reflective time of year once more. I wanted to write a reflection a year since starting my PhD journey, but alas the beginning of October didn’t feel like the right time. Now feels like the right time.

There are several strands to this braided journey that I have visualised in my mind to decide what path this writing might take. I remain undecided. Let’s see where we might travel…

  • My PhD journey so far
  • The impacts cascading from the pandemic through 2020
  • The multiple transitions shaping the liminal space we find ourselves in
  • Stand out moments over the last year
  • The importance of story

These all feel somewhat important, and they all seep into one another.

After pondering and writing some more, I found myself drawing together some realisations that I’ve had through 2020 that I would like to take through into 2021.

I share this with open honesty.

Balancing paid work, livelihood and life work
I’m always seen to be a busy person (I’m told often), but this year in my reality I’ve re-found some balance between paid work, livelihood and life work*. I am nourished by giving myself space to breathe. This realisation comes through being overloaded with work and study, particularly through 2019, to the point of burnout. This balancing act has been like a dance through the year: I stopped doing professional craftwork in January, I went on a career break to focus on the PhD in April, I got a new job in July. I most recently rebalanced this in October by going part-time on the PhD, realising that I can take the time I need to find balance. This has been especially crucial in the context of the pandemic, which has shrouded the majority of my PhD so far. Urgency and scarcity focused ways of being are not how I function well in life. I’m a long-haul type of person, stamina and depth rather than speed to feel balanced.

Being a good ancestor
I have some work I need to do on my grief over the annihilation of our cultural wisdom and inherent connection to land through the historical colonisation of our culture and land and the burning of our wise women (witches, healers, medicine women, elders). Actually, this is a huge piece of life work for me that is going to take time. I want to be a good ancestor, and for me this is a vital part of that work. I fully grasped this part of me through the Lifestream programme at Danaway (August/September) and with support from elders and mentors.

Deeply held intentions for Nature, Community & Stewardship
Carrying with me the need to support: ecosystem and biodiversity recovery, community creation and care, farming and practices that hold deep connection to and stewardship of land. These areas of work, I have realised this past year, are foundational to who I am and my work.

Wishing you well this coming year through all the ups, downs, twists and turns that the journey will entail.

*Paid work, livelihood and life work. These, for me, are 3 distinct types of work of which only ‘paid work’ tends to be valued in our society broadly. They all overlap, and should be obvious, but as some areas are less valued than others I feel it important to delineate them. This links to feminist philosophy where women’s work (childcare, housework, caretaking, etc) is undervalued in society.

  • Paid work – you are paid to do this but may not feel nourished by doing it.
  • Livelihood – work that nourishes you, meets all your needs and is a core part of who you are rather than paid work you need to do to survive day-to-day.
  • Life work – all the other work that makes up your life, from housework and childcare to your passions and joys.

Published by hannahelizabethfield

I'm an artist, scientist, Permaculture Designer, gardener and nature connectedness guide. I'm currently a 1st year PhD student at the University of Cumbria in the Lake District. I'm researching the commons, how they are valued, governed and how decisions are made through Action Research and Ethnographic methods. Being in the fells, on the beach, in the landscapes is my home and I love to work here.

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