Learning from Failure
Have I ever told you that I dropped out of not one, but 2 Master's degrees? Oh yes! In my days of working in Public Health, I had been acccepted to a prestigious Master's of Public Health course in London. It was the logical next step on my path to being a Public Health lead for West London. One module, a horrible work situation and (what I now know as crippling depression and anxiety) a breakdown in, I had to stop. It wasn't for me - any of it - the NHS, London or a Public Health system that was very far from my days as a campaigner for low income communities and their environmental health.
Thinking that, as a reasonably well-educated and articulate human, I NEEDED to get a master's I enrolled in another - at the Centre for Human Ecology in Glasgow. It appealed to my activist roots and my increased interest in food and agriculture and the way in which digging deep into where and how we live is so crucial to the future of, well, everything. But (you know where this is going) I dropped out at the hurdle of a dissertation and a large library fine.
But rather than the failures they seem on paper, both of these events ended up being critical points in getting to where I am now. My MPH and subsequent exodus of London led me to Scotland - a country I consider one of the greatest loves of my life. And my other Master's exposed me to a world of writers - Wendell Berry, Mary Oliver, Rachel Carson - that quite literally changed my life.
The other thing I took away from those experiences is that I really love learning...I just really hate being forced to do things I don't want to do for the sake of a piece of paper. I always have 2 or 3 books on the go, an audiobook besides and a podcast or two that keep me company whilest I am doing the endless dishes this family of mine seems to create. I keep learning, absorbing everything I can about whatever passions take me that day, week, month or year, but without the pressure of writing a paper. I just try to live it - take what I can from it and incorporate it into the practicalities of my day to day life - fufilling both the nerd and the anti-authoritarian in me at the same time.
Some of the things I have read/watched/listened to recently (contains affiliate links):
Honelyand (film) - A beautifully told documentary about a wild beekeeper in Macedonia.
The Beekeeper's Lament (book)- I know that many folks shared the article from the Guardian about the impact of the Almond industry on bees. This book covers that in much more depth and it is an incredible story of one family's beekeeping journey.
Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer (book) - I honestly thought this book was a collection of scientific studies and though I had seen it mentioned in many places, it just didn't grab me. Oh how wrong I was! It is so so beautiful. Similar to Small Wonder by Barbara Kingsolver or Upstream by Mary Oliver, just amazingly beautiful essays on the connections between humans and the natural world, told from Kimmerer's perspective as a First Nations woman. One of my favourite books of all time!
Good Husbandry by Kristin Kimball (book) - I loved Kristin's first book The Dirty Life and this one is just as beautiful and compelling about life on a full diet farm.
Ceral (podcast) - from Farmerama Radio - all about bread (and so much more) from the wheat we grow to how bread is made, eaten and valued in modern Britain. I loved it and so many of our friends and suppliers are part of it.
Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellman - holy moly. What a book. The fact is I don't know how to describe it other than to say it is about everything, told in a way that is unlike anything else i have ever read. Also, read Ellman's interview about the book. She is so bad ass.
From good reads:
"LATTICING one cherry pie after another, an Ohio housewife tries to bridge the gaps between reality and the torrent of meaningless info that is the United States of America. She worries about her children, her dead parents, African elephants, the bedroom rituals of “happy couples”, Weapons of Mass Destruction, and how to hatch an abandoned wood pigeon egg. Is there some trick to surviving survivalists? School shootings? Medical debts? Franks ’n’ beans?
A scorching indictment of America’s barbarity, past and present, and a lament for the way we are sleepwalking into environmental disaster, Ducks, Newburyport is a heresy, a wonder—and a revolution in the novel."
Speaking of beekeeping...we still have a few places left on our beekeeping course in March. It will be a great introduction to beekeeping and the seasonal tasks you need to do to help your honeybees thrive.
We are also offering a 15% discount if you book multiple tickets - doesn’t have to be for the same event , just book 2 or more tickets and get 15% off automatically!!