Award beginnings

About a month ago I finally went along to a John Muir leadership training course, something that has been on my list of MUST-DOS for a long time!

I loved it and had a LOT of fun! 

The whole weekend, from start to finish was so inspiring, learning new techniques and to be surrounded by people who are living in the world of outdoor working. I learnt so much, had other things reaffirmed within myself and admired others confidence and existing knowledge. 

I saw that we were all on our own path but this was a point where our paths crossed and we were able to share our learning and what was meaningful to us about this work.

While I was there, I resolved to start my own John Muir award, so the morning after getting back from the course I sat down to write my long awaited JMA proposal and submitted it by the end of the day.

Now, because I already have specific wild places that I go to regularly, both in the city and in the Highlands I decided to focus on getting to know these places a little deeper.

The Discovery award, the first level of award is 4 days minimum, so I chose to delve into exploring these spaces over the course of the next 5 months.- through the days, weeks and seasons- looking at the closer details, spending even more time in these spaces, noticing, recording and creating.

These places are both places from my #patchofpeace project. 

The first of these spaces is the grass and wooded area along the cycle path near my home in Edinburgh and the other is the croft and woodland of my childhood home which I still have the incredible privilege of visiting regularly.  

I'm feeling so excited to finally focus my attention on these 2 green spaces in this way and eager to see what new ideas and opportunities come from this, both personally and professionally.

A perfect way to kick start my award...

I officially begun my award by inviting local people to volunteer for a Community Clean-up session on the 3rd May. Myself and my friend Sheila had the idea a month or so before and seemed a perfect way to kick start my award. We decided to focus on a short section of the Hawthornvale cycle path. 

It was a grey morning, with wind and rain aplenty, perfect weather for breaking out our head to toe waterproofs. Happily, despite this we had some very kind and lovely people come along to help us with our mission.  5 friends and neighbours turned up as planned at 11am. We put on our 'I'm supporting Clean Up Scotland' tabbards and gloves and got to work straight away while we waited for the council to deliver the litter pickers.

In the end we covered a short section at the beginning of the path and up near Lindsay road, where the rubbish was most concentrated. especially around the basketball court that is used frequently.

We busily picked and gathered and rummaged in the undergrowth, while unfortunately spending a lot of time dodging dog dirt and not being able to get to all of the rubbish. After 2 hours we had 11 bags of landfill rubbish and 9 bags of recycling ready and waiting for the council to come and collect and dispose of properly. Not a bad result!

Explorations begin

A week after our community clear up I went on an adventure up north briefly to my parents home and went exploring in the woods, as I'm always drawn to do . This time I was on a mission to begin specifically noticing what was around me, what I already knew about the place and noting it all down in my sketchbook.

I only had a short time, so I spent a while removing old bulging and burst tree guards from the trees that were planted before I was born, and set about pulling them into a pile at the edge of the woods. Along the way I noted down some of the plant species I recognised and could name without referring to a guidebook.

Species in the woods

Lesser celandine/sycamore/beech/birch/oak/hazel/primrose/Scottish bluebell/wild strawberry/ common dog violet/marsh spurge (I think!) /wood sorrel/ wood anemone bracken and loads of different mosses and lichens. 

The cycle path and woodland sit side by side 

When I got back to Edinburgh, I went out for my usual walk along the cycle path, cutting in through the woodland edges.  Similarly to the time in the Highlands, I spent time wandering and noting the species I saw there, again just referring to what I could recognise without pouring over a guide (that comes next!)

There was so much variety just in this quick trip!

some species on hawthornvale path 26.5.15.jpg

Sycamore/Cherry/Ivy- various/Holly/Cleavers (aka sticky willy)/ Ferns/ Grasses/ Dandelion/ Daisy/ Blackbird/Carder bee/ Dog rose/ Wild rose/ Ash/ Rowan/ Lime- with red spikes on some leaves- something to investigate/ Dead Nettle/ Bramble/ Beech/ Hawthorne/ Dock/ Buttercup/ Bluebell(Spanish)/ 3 cornered leek/ birch/ Japanese Knotweed!! YIKES! / Pigeon/ Willow/Daffodils/ Yellow poppy/Forget-me-not/ Magpie/Thistle/ Broom/ Robin/ Jack-by-the-hedge/ Elm – I had a little munch on some seeds 

It was fascinating to begin noticing the difference between the two places. I'm interested to know more about how each space developed over the years and how they are cared for/or not.

until the next wander

with warmth and wonder

Jaimie x

When I spend time in nature I feel...

With all of this and more on my mind just the other day, I was feeling like getting creative and getting outside and expressing some of it, and helping others to think about and express their emotion and words around nature too. 

So I went for a walk along the cycle path near me, taking my trusty dusty chalk and started asking.

' When I spend time in nature I feel...'

Read More

Hack your learning - Curiosity + courage = learning + change

“The only way that we can live, is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open. Do it. Throw yourself.” 
― C. JoyBell C.


Recently I've reignited my intrigue for TED talks.

I'd heard about this video about hack schooling by Logan LaPlante and decided to look it up.

I loved the courage, curiosity and humour to his talk, the excitement for the choices he has been able to make by taking a different educational path.

I love that he starts with the question that annoys him the most...what do you want to be when you grow up?

I love his answer! Watch this video and find out how he 'Hacks' his education.


Since watching this video I've been thinking about my own education as it was when I was a teenager. I've realised how lucky I was to be encouraged to follow topics that were close to my heart then, and as an adult too by being able to go to art school. All the while though, I was still in the system, and now - 10 years on- oh such freedom to choose my own unique path!

I have a deep urge to refresh and deepen own my learning around certain topics. I'm not in a position to go back to University, and I'm not sure I'd want to anyway. I'm too busy being out in the world, creating my life. However, I'm curious and I LOVE learning. I realise that when I'm a bit stuck, bored, or lacking in inspiration, that using the motivation to change my mindset and circumstances by learning something new gives me a new lease of life. It's a reminder of why I do what I do and of whether I'm on the right path for me in that moment.

I'm aware that I could fall in to the learning trap here, using learning as a way of procrastinating, so all the while I'm bearing in mind whether the things I'm choosing to learn are genuinely moving me towards a stronger place in my life and my business.

The Latin root of the word Educate is Educare which means 'to draw out'. Since I first heard this definition it has delighted me, further captivating my desire to uncover that inner potential in myself and in others.

So I'd like to ask you...

What aspects of yourself would you like to draw out? What kind of person do you want to become?

Let's sit down and figure out what lights your fire by asking even more questions... I LIKE to get you thinking - hee hee! :)

What long held dream or aspect of yourself is sitting in the shadows waiting for some attention. How do you imagine yourself to be?

Who is that bright and vibrant person inside, however deeply buried?

What fascinated you when you were younger that you've since abandoned?

How would you like to express yourself now?

What topics would you like to talk knowledgeably about?

How do you identify with yourself right now?

How would you like to show up in the world?

What makes you happy?

How can you take care of your body, mind and spirit?

The answers to questions like these will begin to form the basis of what we want to learn and bring us untold excitement to get started, and ultimately stick to this path of educating, expressing and taking care of ourselves.


Thinking about identity and what you want to learn

Always move towards being the person you want to become... don't forget that this is an ever evolving process, so don't worry too much about there being vastly different ideas swirling around.

There will be a thread that weaves its way though it all. A 'why' that ties it all together. You might not be able to see the thread yet and that's ok.

Cultivate patience and trust.

I identify with myself as becoming a creative soul, an outdoor girl, a lover and protector of nature and our precious planet, an advocate of education and community, self development and self-awareness, an idealist and quiet action taker who wants peace and harmony in the world; a leader, a lover of quality and a creator of things.


The becoming of you

There might be gap between where you are now and where you want to be. Those gaps are probably where you think you're not 'enough' of those things already to really BE that person. Which is of course not true since we're all on this journey called life.

We can't possibly know everything there is to know all at once. Choosing to learn and change is how we build in more of the good stuff we want in life, move closer and closer to the type of person we want to be and how we impact the world. At each stage we are enough and worthy of giving ourselves that opportunity.

Resist the urge to stop yourself from growing and evolving, or from giving yourself the chance to show up as your most sparkling self. Take a step forward.

I LOVE learning!

I've said that already, right? It excites me so much and although it can be scary to step out of that comfort zone it usually always makes up for it in the mind blowing potential and sometimes downright confusion that it opens up in my life.

Yes even those funny head scratching moments can be a blessing in the end! Feel the stretch!

Do you have your list of possibilities?? Topics of curiosity? of happiness?

Look at that list and decide on a few of those topics to begin with that you would love to learn more about, either as a complete beginner, or as a way to deepen your knowledge on a subject.

Stuck? Feeling worried?

Please breathe and begin somewhere, follow your curiosity from there and see where you end up. It might be the best place that you have never even imagined!

Some of my own topics of curiosity are (in no particular order):

Conservation and promotion of green spaces

Urban nature

Biophilia/Nature connection

Wildlife and plant identification

Creative design of urban green spaces

Creating a sustainable future

Ecopsychology/Deep ecology

Personal development

Encouraging positive action in myself and others


Mental Health

Nature play and Outdoor education for all


As well as exploring skills like:

Green woodworking

Basket weaving

Drawing and painting

Textile techniques


Growing my own food

Writing and poetry

Playing the fiddle

Language learning- Spanish in particular

Yoga practise

Creating art in nature

Exploring art and craft 

Experimenting with materials

...I could go on

As you can see it quite a long list and at the moment it's clearly focused around nature and the environment and my/our responses and relationship to it.

Remember, don't worry if your list has a broad range of topics...take this opportunity to explore and play with a few of the options. Whatever is pulling at your intuition and making you feel vibrant.

Right now some of the topics I'm immersing myself in are, learning about ecosystems with a FREE online course, attending local events around sustainability and the arts and reading, practising and developing courses around human- nature connection.

Also, I'm very excited to have been invited to attend and learn from the speakers at the 'Nature Connections 2015' conference at Derby University on the 26th March! I will be there representing Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. Thank you RBGE!

And it just so happens to be on my birthday! It'll be lovely to be absorbing and discussing something so close to my heart on this day...and I might just treat myself to a nice meal the night before too :)

#NC2015 - please search for this # If you want to follow along with my updates from Nature Connections conference on Twitter on the 26th March.

Remember- It's not too late to learn! Go and become you! Go and grow your curious, creative, happy and healthy soul!


Please share in the comments below... what have you been itching to learn but perhaps have been too scared? How would you love to show up in the world? What magic is sitting just under the surface waiting to be expressed?

Another wee reminder...

If you want to learn more about yourself, about your place and connection to nature, and about your own creativity, please check out my next online course Connect to Nature: Connect to Self. 4th April-2nd May 2015 

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