Book review: Urban Druidry

I recently signed up with Moon Books as an occasional book reviewer. Moon Books specialise in pagan titles, so if you’re not that way inclined, I won’t be offended if you stop reading at this point. That said, I think today’s title holds a lot of potential for creative people of any creed…

Urban Druidry by Brendan Howlin

This book is full of simple and practical ways of getting more connected to nature and the seasonal rhythms of life for those of us living in urban environments. I think this book would be good for anyone wanting to increase their connection with the world around them, although if you are from a non-pagan creed, some of it may seem a bit odd.

The first practice Brendan recommends is ‘learning to see’. This reminds me of something I’ve done since my teens: on occasion, look beyond where your eye usually falls on your commute or regular walk and see what else you can see (probably not one to do if you’re driving!) The subtle change of perspective can be incredibly powerful.

Other practices include learning to relax and becoming aware of seasons. There are also some bigger challenges about personal responsibility and how we live in this landscape.

While simple, actually doing these practices regularly would deepen and enrich life and almost certainly lead to some degree of personal transformation – ‘deceptively simple’, might be a better description!

Plus:

The chatty, friendly writing style – this is not at all hard to read.

The simple practices for everyday life – these are firmly grounded in the actual reality of the urban daily grind.

I really like the simple summaries for the wheel of the year (in non-pagan words: celebrating the seasons)

Minus:

It’s pretty obvious in the text that the author is a British male. I found this a bit jarring at times, as I’m a Southern hemisphere based female. Some of the analogies didn’t work so well for me.

There’s not a lot of text spent on context or history or background – this is a very practice-focused book. But then there are plenty of other books you can read to get that context if you want it.

Conclusion:

I would recommend this enthusiastically to anyone wanting an easy-to-read (though more challenging to implement) guide to deepening their connection with the world around them.

If you want a scholarly tome on druidry or natural science, look elsewhere (but maybe come back to this, when you want your studies to get personal).

I can see myself returning to this book regularly as I build my everyday practice.

Survey results

My thanks to those of you who took the time to tick some boxes. :)

That survey is now closed, though you’re still welcome to give me feedback any time (there’s the comments sections and Facebook and Twitter…)

But I’m sure you’re all dying to know: what were the results? And, more pertinently, what does it mean for what you get to read on here?

Well, the summary is “minimal change”

It seems you guys read this blog because you like it – who’d’ve thought?!

Most of you want to read creativity and inspiration posts and are interested in my creative journey (bless you!)

Quite a lot of you want to see what I’m creating and what other people are creating. There was also interest in how to or advice posts, so I’m working on some ideas around that.

A few of you are interested in Druid and pagan stuff, and others in de-cluttering, so I will include occasional posts on that topic. In my planning, May’s posts are shaping into a bit of a de-cluttering theme, so you folks can look forward to that (it still weirds me out that I’m planning – and how well that actually works). And there’s the odd person who wants to know more about my cat, so I will occasionally indulge you.

None of you ticked boxes for book reviews, belly dance or dinosaurs. You will still get some of the first two because I want to write about them (mwahahahaaaa), but I’ll save my occasional squees about dinosaurs for Twitter. Thank you for saving me from a lot of research.

So, what can you expect to find here in the future?

  • the current mix of pictures and text focused on creativity and inspiration
  • more how-to and advice posts – format yet to be determined
  • occasional forays into other topics including book reviews, pagan stuff, de-cluttering, belly dance and cats
  • an absence of dinosaurs – except when I manage to sneak them in.

I’m planning to post four times a week (Mon, Weds, Fri and once on the weekend – New Zealand time) and my planning extends into May already, so this should all actually happen.

:) :) :)

From my sketchbook – fuzzy focus

Given the topics I’ve been writing about recently, when I stumbled over this page in my sketchbook, I knew I had to share it:

Fuzzy focus stealer

BTW schedules, to do lists, and other planning materials are effective remedies for any infestation of long-tailed fuzzy focus-stealers…

Deciding priorities

One of the very useful things I picked up from Wait but Why’s procrastination post was the Eisenhower matrix.

Urgent Not urgent

Important

Quadrant 1 Quadrant 2
Not important Quadrant 3

Quadrant 4

Now I had come across this before, but in the context of sorting out work flow in my day job. I had never thought of using it for a ‘whole-of-life’ matrix.

So, I thought I would see what happened if I applied to my life.

My first run through was what I want my life to look like. Most things ended up in Q2 – the things that are important in my life or to achieve my dreams –  or Q4 – the fun stuff. Blessedly very little of my everyday life is urgent.

Then I picked up a different coloured pen and did it again with how I actually live. (If you’re doing this yourself, you might want to try that the other way round – up to you. )

Interestingly, when I did this step several of my activities swapped around between Q2 and Q4. Turns out I’ve been putting too much emphasis on some things that don’t really matter to me and not enough on others that really do.

My ideal Q2 includes blogging, dance, family, and my house & garden. Blogging had slipped over into Q1 – I always felt rushed into posting because I didn’t plan ahead. Dance had slipped down into Q4, along with my house & garden. While to some these might be ‘nice to haves’, they matter a lot to me, so I need to make them a priority. Whereas activities like knitting and reading – which had both crept up into Q2 – are among my personal ‘nice to haves’, along with sketching, Minecraft, and my Warhammer army. I can live without these, but they are FUN! And it is okay to have fun – but it’s not where I need to put most of my time and energy.

Fortunately, this is easy to fix :)

I decided to follow wise advice I heard from hard-out dancer, Amy Sigil:

Don’t prioritise your schedule…

SCHEDULE YOUR PRIORITIES.

Yes, I’m actually planning!

I now have a rough ‘editorial calendar’ of what I plan to blog when – it’s much harder to fluff around when you know what you planned to write about…

I’m also doing some daily planning to make sure I make time for my Q2 activities, as well as relaxing in Q4. This bit is definitely a ‘work in progress’, but I intend to persevere because on the days I do it and follow it, it works really well. Now all I need is a few more hours everyday to fit in everything!

I’m also including on my daily plan a short list of my ‘important things’ (Q2), so I keep focused.

So, that’s how I’m doing it…

How would you ‘quadrantify’ your life?

Does your reality come anywhere close to your dreams?

And if not, what are you going to change? Your dreams? Or how you live?

P.S. If you’re stumbling around with absolutely no idea what you want to do or what your ‘important things’ might be, check out the Passion Test. I found it a big help when I started down this journey.