To plan and implement a series of actions to move myself from caffeine dependence to freedom from caffeine.
Date: 20 October – 15 December 2022
client: Personal project
Assessor: carla moss
principles: principle 0, Cultural Emergence , Patrick Whitefield’s Principles, designing regenerative cultures principles
Ethics: Earth Care, People Care, Fair Share
Framework: Design Web
Domain: health and Spiritual wellbeing
Wordmaps, Holistic Decision Making, 8 Forms of Wealth, Input/Output, Cultural Emergence Core Routines, Reflective Journal
Carla’s Design Forum, ‘Sand Talk’ by Tyson Yunkaporta, Doughald Hine’s ‘Regrowing Living Cultures’ course, Cultural Emergence book.
I have been dependent on caffeine since I don’t know when. I have had a brief moment in my life of being caffeine free, around 2019/20. I’m trying to get back to the source of myself. I feel like I can’t do this with my body/mind masked by the effects of caffeine, so I need to wean myself off it, and welcome other things into my life now – to live more deeply into who I am becoming.
I used Dan Palmer’s Holistic Decision Making/Holistic Context process as a way to deepen into my vision.
The final phase of the HDM process involves bringing all you have discovered together into a mindmap. I was feeling a bit worded out at this point. So, instead of repeating all the words from the previous phases in a mindmap format, I used symbols to create the image below, which I have titled ‘Becoming Whole’.
I created it by allocating a meaningful symbol to each of the phrases from the Purpose (purple centre), Quality of Life Statements (smaller green circles), Enabling Actions (larger circles, in blue, but you can’t see the colour on the scan), and finally, Future Resource Base (large green circles on outer edge).
I then put up the image on the wall above my desk to enjoy as a visual reminder of my aims and intentions.
Each symbol, with its own ascribed meaning, works with all the others to weave an image that represents the whole. I was inspired by the symbols Tyson Yunkaporta expresses in his book ‘Sand Talk’. I also used some pagan and witchy symbols, plus some I generated my self from the feeling that arose in response to the words.
Becoming Whole. Symbolic representation of HDM process outcomes. Sally Hughes, October 2023.
I used a modified version of Ethan Roland’s ‘ 8 Forms of Capital‘. I don’t enjoy the word ‘capital’, as it connects too directly with capitalism for me, so I changed the word capital, to wealth. I used the tool to identify all the resources and supports available to me, and the capacities I have to draw on as I move myself forward through the design process.
I took into consideration what I would need to put in to the process in order to achieve my intention, and imagined what I might get out of the process, identifying the future possible; how I could feel if I do achieve my aim.
As part of the ritual to set my intention (in Ideas phase) on December 1st, I took a walk to The Kymin. My goal was to find a pattern. I did. The pattern I found was ‘branching’. What’s significant about it is the feeling that what I am aiming to do is ‘pollard’ my unhelpful behaviours, in order that new behaviours can regrow. I was particularly interested in the point at which the trunk of the tree branches. Something stimulates growth in a new direction.
The other thing of interest to me in this pattern is the way pollarded trees in urban context always look deformed in some way to me. It’s as if there has been an intervention, new growth has come, but the overall form has been damaged in some way, then it has healed. Its overall aesthetic changed by its experience. This feels like what happens for humans when we do inner work to overcome trauma, it never leaves us, we just find ways to cope in our new, reformed way of being, and we keep on growing, but signs of the past are still evident in our form.
Tree at The Kymin, 1 December 2023 – Branching from the leader. Photo credit: Sally Hughes
Tree at The Kymin, 1 December 2023 – Branching from the low crown. Photo credit: Sally Hughes
Tree at The Kymin, 1 December 2023 – Branching from the crown, the growth pattern to me looks like it has been pollarded at some point in the past. Photo credit: Sally Hughes
As a way to welcome in new behaviours, and create space in my life for doing the things I enjoy (an intention identified in the Pause phase), I created a new Life Pattern. I’ve put this on the wall next to my computer. Setting this kind of intention in the dead of winter feels hard. I’m hoping it will set more so as the light comes back.
Life Pattern in place next to my computer. Photo credit: Sally Hughes, December 2023.
I set out on a walk, as part of my ritual to set my intention. I found kindling for a fire. When I got home I set my intentions on pieces of paper, some to let go, some to welcome in. And I set a fire. I collected some herbs and enjoyed a ritual tea. I was surprised at the herbs still available for me in the garden in November.
Selfie, collecting kindling at The Kymin. I enjoyed finding myself involved in the act of collecting firewood, and act our ancestors would recognise. Doughald Hine talks about how it is in these acts that we find remnants of a living culture, from which to regrow.
Each piece of coloured paper represents the things I’m saying good bye too, and the things I’d like to welcome in. Photo credit: Sally Hughes
You may notice the wild card blue paper here, added for a bit of spice, as a way to acknowledge the potential for emergent properties. I don’t have a fire pit. I spent a bit of time in the lead up to this moment trying to find a second hand one on the internet, with no joy. I realised I had a fire pit, the barbeque! “The most sustainable thing is the thing we have already got!!” I enjoy this realisation. You’ll see the charcoals from the BBQ we had in the summer are still there. They actually made a perfect ground to hold my fire. I enjoyed this fire so much, I think I’ll make one at each turning of the wheel in the year ahead, maybe even making it into a little ‘hedge witching’ art project. Photo credit: Sally Hughes
The kindling. Collected from The Kymin set over the papers. Photo credit: Sally Hughes
Fire. Beautiful fire, source of energy and light. Consuming and creating at the same time. Phto credit: Sally Hughes
The glowing embers. A potent symbol that has carried into my work to create a tree for the Christmas Tree Festival in our local church ( see Glöyn Byw). I used water to out my fire safely. I’ll leave the embers to dry out a while, then collect them and use them as a drawing material. Photo credit: Sally Hughes
Herbs gathered from the garden (in December!) for tea. Red clover, calendula, dandelion. On my way back in I also found some fennel leaves, and yarrow. Photo credit: Sally Hughes
Enjoying my tea, and the resonances of the fire ritual. Back in the warmth of my studio. Photo credit: Sally Hughes
I made a Self-Care Plan, inspired by Katie Shepherd’s Well-being design in issue two of Liz’s Mud & Culture zine. This was the last thing I did in the design process, as a way to set me up for what comes next on my journey of recovery. It is a visual reference to carry with me into life beyond my diploma, into recovery as I continue on this journey in the weeks and months ahead.
I chose to use Looby’s Cultural Emergence Principles, as initially I felt like they fitted with the design web, and are suitable for this people-focused context. In the Principles anchor point above I I wrote in response to each principle, which I chose by feeling which seemed to resonate most in the moment, noting the things that came up for me as I thought about the phrase.
I also reflected more deeply on Principle 0 and made other reflections on principles in the thought piece here:
Integration really happened in ‘Reflection on Process’ phase of the design, below.
As part of the Integration anchor point, I noted my thoughts on how the ethics show up for me here. This brought up these ideas of Ethics of Care, Contexts of Care and Aesthetics of Care, which I look forward to deepening into as my writing develops in the months ahead.
One of the things Looby states is important for any design is coming up with a name that represents it, and an image. I decided on the name through my note making in the Integration phase, and inspired by the symbols Tyson Yunkaporta uses in his book ‘Sandtalk’, made this image.
Becoming… Image and name. Watercolour paint, soil from the garden, white and black poster paint. Sally Hughes, October 2023
I created a timeline, in which I plotted the route through the days ahead to the point of being caffeine free.
I got to day 9 caffeine free. Then, I fell off the wagon, and plotted a new route, taking into consideration the things I have to do in the days ahead. What I’m looking for is a good stretch of time where I can be in retreat, elusive in a busy life in the run up to Christmas.
My aim now is a cold turkey/no caffeine day on 23rd December. Maybe I’ll get there before then, could be 16th December is the day to seize/cease…..Let’s see what emerges….
I made notes of Looby’s words from the Cultural Emergence Core Routines. I chose the ones that felt resonant in the moment. This activity worked to support my thinking, to back-up my ideas I suppose. I see now writing this that these are also tools I use in my designing. This design is a pattern disruption, I have engaged my imagination in it, I have created a vision, paid attention to self-care and supported emotions to flow through my journal writing.
My reflective journal writing has been a support for keeping momentum. I has illuminated my thinking and made where I am more clear. It’s been up and down.
A page from my reflective journal. Photo credit: Sally Hughes
I’ll do the Ceremony of Appreciation on the day I do finally get to a caffeine-free place, ie 14 days after my last cup.
The reflections I recorded in this anchor point are on how I feel about giving up caffeine, and that process.
Were your project aims met through the design solution created?
I aimed to plan and implement a series of actions to move myself from caffeine dependence, to freedom from caffeine. The actions I have undertaken include:
- Using the tools to glean insights and learnings to support my endeavour
- Using herb tea as a help/support
- Creating and enjoying a ritual to set my intention
- Creating a timeline, then making another one
- Making a Life Pattern, like the timetable we used to have in school, a way to frame my days to make space for all the things I’d like to do
- Collaging a self-care plan
- Writing in my reflective journal
Did the design work? How do you know that it worked?
In lots of ways the design did work. I am not finding myself caffeine free at the point at which I am submitting it for assessment. However, there are a few areas that were very effective, especially the drawings I made, including the symbols for the holistic decision making and the becoming whole drawing. There was something about using the medium to carry the message that I enjoyed.
At the end of the design I find myself with deeper awareness of the barriers that stop me from overcoming my addiction to caffeine. The need to do all the work of my diploma being one of them. The landscape will be different once I have finished.
I’ve drunk a lot of hawthorn and chamomile tea, rooibos and chicory, which have become favourites. This brings forth my propensity to get hooked on things, my addictive character. I have a long way to go to heal.
I also come away from the design with rich learning about becoming indigenous.
My reflective journal writing has helped me be better at identifying my feelings. I notice my sense of smell has become heightened. I also notice that I’m finding more thoughts in my mind around how grateful I am for things, and I note I am finding ways to express that with people too.
What went well?
I enjoyed making the wordmaps. I’ve enjoyed the whole design, it’s been very creative. I has been more of an indulgence, a chance to play, than a productive process for identifying solutions to a problem. What I learnt was that I don’t have a problem, I have a predicament. And predicaments can’t be solved, they require deep processes, varied perspectives, and small interventions overtime that change the energy of the system. This has been such an intervention. I’ll only know in time what the effects will be.
Using the tools, I really enjoyed the HDM and 8 Forms of Wealth. Finding the branching tool and the idea of pollarding my unwanted behaviours was very satisfying. Yesterday at the Christmas Tree Festival when we were putting up our tree, I found this tot of joyful information hanging on one of the other trees. I have been angsting over tools for a long time. This find brought some freedom to my thinking, and closes a loop as I come to the end of my diploma, wonderful.
What was challenging?
Falling off the wagon, resisting feelings of failure. This is a hard process, it will take time. I must be tender with myself. There were days when it was very dark emotionally for me in the process of reducing my caffeine intake, and I have had a headache for most of the time. That’s why, when I try again when I have space, I am going for cold turkey, not slowly weaning off.
The fact there is no place specifically in the design web framework for ethics feels like a bit of a flaw in the framework for me. I also found the 12 phases to be too many. I prefer using the design web as a tool, like I did in design 7. I enjoyed the non-linear nature of it, flitting from one phase to the next, like a butterfly. I fear this make write-up a little incoherent, as the times at which things happened are not in the right order. I note that this has come up for me before. I do like to be able to document things in the order they happened in the cycle, because one thing grows from another in an iterative process.
Holistic Decision Making/Holistic Context – Whilst I don’t think I used this tool to it’s full potential, it was hugely generative for clarifying my vision. The symbolic representation of the outcomes fills my heart with joy, I felt so engaged in the process of creating it.
8 Forms of Wealth – Used in the helps phase to identify all the resources and support I have available to me. It is a good tool, many of the things I gleaned using it I carried with me thought the rest of the design. Fruitful arisings indeed. I put it in the limits phase because its about what i need to do in order to achieve my ambition, it’s about a boundary crossing.
Input/Output – A small gestural use of this tool, but the feeling I get with in me when I imagine being the person I could be feels hopeful. I look forward to this day. It helped clarify my vision.
Cultural Emergence Core Routines – There’s something interesting that I can’t quite name yet going on around tool stacking. It became clear that I use the core routines I chose as tools in my designing, though they are subtle, and not maned explicitly as tools, but they are there.
Principles – I loved my deep dive into the principles in my Principles Thought Piece . The writing feels so nourishing, and has a reflective quality to it. So I’ll just say briefly here, I find the cultural emergence principles don’t satisfy my hunger for learning about the way the more-than-human world lives. I enjoy using metaphor to make alignments between my own human experience of living and the living that happens for other beings.
Ethics – I found it hard to attend to the ethics with any significant depth in this design. Maybe that’s because they don’t have a specific place to be held in the process. So I turned to Looby’s Cultural Emergence, and learnt that the ethics are so entwined in the cultural emergence process that they don’t get a mention specifically, except where she talks about writing the book about the people-ethic, and where she describes each ethic in one sentence early on. The self-care element in this design is so strong, maybe it doesn’t need mentioning specifically….(I doubt this, I’ll add more after forum discussions and feedback).
I am interested in what came up around Ethics of Care, Contexts of Care and Aesthetics of Care, but I have written enough words so will attend to them later, I’ll leave them as a breadcrumb for future writing.
What’s going well?
Writing this, I see there are 12 phases in the design web, which calls to mind the 12 steps of AA, which Doughald referred to, he thinks they are helpful (I struggle with the God stuff, maybe I’ll rewrite them). Maybe they could be helpful for me. Maybe I’ll call my recovery project for 2024 ‘Finding Sobriety’. In fact, I see that perhaps this design has been a bit of a moral inventory of myself, and I am beginning to have an experience of awakening, mainly in my thinking.
What’s been challenging?
Old, ingrained patterns are super hard to shift. Ingrained patterns of behaviour that have shaped my entire diploma (getting up early to write on the computer whilst it’s quiet, season extension, creating a productive microclimate with caffeine). I fall down, reset my intention, and carry on.
Healing from addiction is a thing that needs more than a short design process which I’m holding in the run up to Christmas (the worst time of year for me and my addictions, so much sugar around as my family enjoys the seasonal over-indulgence). However, what I have done here has highlighted some supportive practices and intentions for change. To really become whole, back to the root of myself, is going to take a long time.
And it’s going to take a lot of writing/righting. I have, alongside the work here, set myself an intention to begin writing a substack on becoming indigenous. I have fixed myself up with a writing partner, someone I have met through Doughald’s course. We can offer each other support and encouragement to get the writing done. I’m feeling excited about it.
I’ve set myself up with this design for more opportunities for healing as time goes on. In particular I am fixing up for a mutual exchange arrangement that will potentially offer a good deal of external support through a co-counselling process. It feels right to me that healing in community is the right way forward.
The other thing is, this design is being held in a public forum. To really begin the work of healing, I feel like it needs to be more private, and not published for all to see on the interweb! So I will invest in a beautiful book in which to quietly carry on with my recovery. I’ll share the bits that feel shareable in my writing. I must go tenderly with myself, as I go about undoing 46 years of cultural conditioning. Hopefully this inner work will set me up for 46 more years.
I’ll do nothing to hide my misshapen pollarded form, as I find ways to rewild myself in my becoming animal. Bearing witness to the scars of the past feels important for healing. My wish is that in a small way, by healing myself, I also heal the world, as I unfold further into life’s mystery.
I feel like I won’t really be free to attend to any of this properly until my diploma is done.
What’s the long-term vision?
This potentially leads into a bigger ‘Life Reset for Recovery/Finding Sobriety 2024’ design. I won’t know the actual shape of things until I am truly finished with my diploma.
I want to grow:
- My body to be more flexible
- More creative expression to understand emotions
- Learning about plants, connecting with the living world
- Lose weight
- Eat well, good organic home cooked food
- Clean and tidy clutter free home
- Bright mind
- My writing
- Body of work – sharing on social media
- Contribute to household economy, save money for yoga retreats!
- Peace, stress reduction, balance energy
- Work – edges – collaboration, influence
What are your next steps?
- Finish summarising my reflection
- Finish writing my final presentation, set the date, invite people, then enjoy the celebration!