We started this project with a pause. We both knew that we had challenges to overcome finding balance in our lives together, so we decided to take a short break, to see what clarity this space would bring us. Oriol returned to Spain for a short while, for us both to re-find some personal space, and break out of a negative energy spiral that we had found ourselves in. When he returned one month later, we sat down and began to work our way through this project. We started by looking at the things that we appreciate most about our relationship.
We identified our (many!) limits as:
Patterns and principles
We identified both positive and negative patterns.. We then looked at how we could look at the patterns from nature to improve our relationship.
We both felt that we often hit a cycle of going through a hard time together, then we sit down and talk, and make plans to change, and the energy from this lifts us and brings a lot of happiness. But we often don't actually put into place any of the changes we have talked about, we aren't conscious of our communication and choices, and so our energy levels crash again soon after. We raised the question of whether this may be because we don't put enough priority on the things we know make us well, such as meditation, time out, social times with friends, fun and joy... we always seem to fall into the trap of putting priority on work work work... Basically forgetting the importance of the People care ethic in relation to ourselves.
We also noticed that we both aim for different levels of happiness with Ohli's education and needs, which is perhaps even more understandable as he is my son from a previous relationship. Within the options we have for where he goes to school, how he spends his time and what he eats, I always set my sights on the best of the best possibilities, things like Steiner and woodland schools, organic foods, lots of time outdoors and in nature... These things aren't always the most practical for us, both financially and due to location. In Sheffield right now we are driving for 45 minutes to take him to a forest school kindergarten, in my opinion totally worthwhile, but from Oriol's perspective not the most practical for us in many other ways.
We noticed that we could both meet somewhere in the middle, and accepted that so long as Ohil's needs are met in a positive environment there can sometimes be compromises weighing up our needs as a whole family and coming to the best conclusion for all of us.
One interesting point that came up is that we don't put much value on the magic of our potential together, and we often don't see and start the things that we are capable of accomplishing together. We have many shared interests, and are on very similar life paths that support each other's goals really well. We could benefit more from noticing this and appreciating it's true value. The principle of integrate rather than segregate supports the wisdom that we can be stronger together than apart.
We noticed that we were wasting a lot of energy with negative communication, stress and arguments. We were also losing lots of energy and power by being very unsettled and moving between Spain and the UK. We have put a lot of work into our garden and land in Spain, only to leave it for months to work in the UK, and leaving all our plants and seedlings to fend for themselves. We haven't had much choice as this was due to having work here quite last minute, (after a long spell with no work at all available for us in Spain) and not being able to find long term volunteers to care for the land there. But with better planning for the future we should be able to make sure this doesn't happen again.
We turned this around to embrace the principle of catch and store energy. If we can catch any negativity before it grows, we can channel this frustration back into our lives in a positive way.
We also looked at ways of reducing the amount of money that we spend on food, by creating budgets for menus and activities. We could look for other non-financial ways to find our food such as working in local orchards and community allotments, backyard gardening and skipping. We can then put this money aside and save it for other things that we may need. This will reduce our outputs of money and help us to live more sustainably within our means.
We also looked at including more diversity in our lives together, using the principle of use and value diversity. We noticed that we often focus on just some areas of our lives, such as work, house repairs and gardening, without spreading our time and energy out into all the other things that nourish us. This made us think of a structure of a leaf, where the veins run into every area to bring nutrients and life to all of its parts. We started thinking that we could use this natural pattern as guidance so that we make sure we are giving life to all parts of ourselves, creating that balance to keep us well and happy, both individually and as partners.
We also looked at some of the positive patterns we have.
- We keep trying to work towards things becoming better than before
- The constantly improving relationship between Ohli and Oriol
- Incremental energy - the further we go on our journey together the more energy and enthusiasm we have to continue
- Regularly making time for conscious design time of our lives together