I’ve been mentioning forest bathing on my social media quite a bit recently and sorry if it’s getting a little bit boring and I promise this will be the last time I mention it (for a while at least!) but you really should go do it.
So in my last post I did a photo series from my time forest bathing. (Link’s just there if you wanna check it out.) And I was updating my Instagram stories regularly that day of mine and Willow’s time in the wild, so I’m just gonna explain what it is a little bit more.
Forest bathing’s great and even better for your well-being. Living in a city is pretty chaotic most of the time and sometime you just need to reconnect with nature. Bristol’s great in that sense. You’ve got the Downs, Ashton Court and just a little bit outside of the city is Leigh Woods.
The term comes from the Japanese, Shinrin-Yoku which means ‘taking in the forest atmosphere’. The practice has positive benefits and it’s pretty self-explanatory. Go to a forest/woodland and just be present in that moment. Breathe in the air around, zone your ears out so you can hear the wind rustling through the leaves, birds cawing as they fly overhead and insects & animals rustling in the undergrowth. It’s pure bliss.
There are so many health benefits to doing it! It reduces blood pressure, stress and for me, my anxiety. It boosts your immune system, your mood and energy levels.
And it’s not only in Japan where countries use a similar practice. In Sweden, Norway & Finland they have something called ‘freedom to roam’ which is a human right to explore and be in nature. I found a great video about it, which I’ve shared on my Facebook page, that goes into more detail.
It’s also something you can do with your four legged pal. Be adventurous together and really dive into it. Leigh Woods has this fantastic hidden walk with takes you down this really steep slope or you can just stick to the manmade paths. Snuff Mills has this wonderful little wild flower garden you can walk through then opens up to the woodland and some open spaces, there’s even a river to walk beside.
Being in nature really brings my childish side out, I get distracted by everything. The plants, the dogs or insects. Walking in woodland really gives me this nostalgic feeling and I instantly forget my troubles and all I want to do is put my face into some plants, even better if a dog comes up for a pet.
All images taken by myself and on my Google Pixel.
My plant journey started two years ago. I started LOOF as a hobby to help me with my depression & anxiety. I find that I get completely wrapped up in what I’m doing and time flies by. It also gave me something to care for & learn about. Plants are so fascinating, the more I researched into terrariums & plants, the more I wanted to learn.
As adults I feel like we’ve lost something we had when we were children. That curiosity and fearlessness of throwing yourself into anything. And plants have done that for me. They’ve filled a void I didn’t even knew I had.
Also the excitement it brings now that it’s growing season. Literally I want to explode! My Alocasia Wentii has had it’s 3rd leaf unravelling this last couple of weeks. My Monstera (obliqua/adansonii) has two new leaves sprout this year. My Epiphyllum anguliger has had so much new growth, it’s insane. I’m growing chili’s & peppers which I have no idea what I’m doing but they’ve germinated and have little green sprouts.
A lot of my plants are rescues and I live in a basement flat, so I’m beyond thrilled that these plants are thriving. I love rescuing plants, I just want to give all of the plants, all of the love (just like with my obsession with dogs).
Then working at Wild Leaf I get to be around plants all day and it’s making my dream of LOOF & having a shop a reality. It also has opened up a wonder of new specimens to get familiar with. You slowly start to fall in love with certain plants in the shop or even when you get a delivery you literally scream when you get a new species as you’re too excited!
It also gives me the opportunity to really get my business set up and get creative again. Which is something I completely lost through my darker periods.
Plants give me that escape I need. When I’m with them, I stop caring about everything else and put all my focus on them. Find that thing that turns you into a kid again.
I know I haven’t been doing my blog recently, which I’m sorry about. It was a rough start to the year to say the least. But now that the sun is shining I feel like I’m emerging out of my winter slumber. There’s also been a lot going on as well, with collaborations and new projects. I’ve also been thinking about what I want from my brand and what direction I would like to take it.
This year I’m totally following my creative side more. I’ve decided to explore my photography and my watering colourings. When I started the year I had goals for something completely different. I desperately wanted to have my own shop filled with plants, terrariums and some lifestyle products. With my blog, trying to write a blog post once a week was stressful. I’m not organised enough for that! Also with my depression coming back my motivation to do anything about it completely out the window. I’m now going to do more ‘Plant Diaries’ – where I’ll talk about specific plants that I have in my collection, projects I’m working on, just more of a focus on plants in generally. I’ll still cover my art and I’d still love to do my Meet the Maker as I have so many talented friends surrounding me I want to shout about it!
A few months ago I joined forces with Wild Leaf and from the start it was ‘go-go-go’. We did a collab together for Harvey Nichols which was insane! It was so much fun working on the terrariums, the kokedama and then getting to photograph the space after we filled it with plants. It was also great experience into plantscaping. I’m slowly updating @loofphotography with my work, keep an eye on it for updates!
I know work in the shop during the week, which I absolutely adore and I have my best gal pal, Octavia, to thank about that. If she didn’t introduce myself and Tya, I wouldn’t have this opportunity right now.
Another big thing I’ve been working towards is my workshops and last week I did my first one. It was fun and nerve wracking experience. I’m still struggling to find my identity especially mentally, I seem to be switching between Robi and my old self.
Recently I haven’t been feeling myself, as well as being extremely sick (story of my life), which meant I had to postpone the first date. The morning of the first one, I was totally getting myself into a right anxious mess. But the whole evening went really smoothly and I really enjoyed myself. I definitely could do with loosening up, but that’ll come with time. Now I’ve had time to reflect I can really focus on the positives from it, before my brain just focuses on the negatives. The little things that in the end didn’t even matter. Everyone enjoyed themselves and walked away with big smiles on their faces and that’s all I need to focus on.
Most people warn you away from starting your own business. The risks are high and you’ve got to put in a lot of effort for not much initial reward. Starting your own business is hard at the best of times, but throw in depression and the darkness of winter it makes it that little bit harder. People either tell you you’re crazy or they congratulate you in doing your own thing. This is what I’ve learnt so far on my journey.
Depression won’t stop you but it might take a little longer.
Now, depression affects everyone differently. Mine definitely gets a bit worse when the days get darker and it’s cold out. It’s hard to get that motivation to get out of bed to actually do anything. My body just wants to go into hibernation and I want to eat constantly. Exercising goes out of the window and pretty much all my daily habits are forgotten about.
But since taking antidepressants it’s definitely made this winter period a little more bearable. Of course staying in bed would be way better, but who’s going to do the work when it’s just yourself? Working alone means you’ve got to do all the work with very little help. Give yourself a time frame. It’s going to take you a lot longer to complete some tasks than you think. Give yourself a little leeway and things don’t always go to plan. Also make some reachable goals. Last year I gave myself six goals to complete and managed to fully complete five of them.
Write these goals down and carry them with you at all times.
Set yourself tasks
Setting yourself tasks on a daily basis really helps. Every evening I try to sit down and give myself three tasks to really focus on the next day. If I’m going through a really good positive phase, I can complete these tasks and more in a day. If my depression is at the forefront it’s much harder to complete them. Sometime I’ll give myself a personal task like ‘stay positive’ to help with my mental wellbeing which can help.
Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t complete all the task. Some tasks are more than a day’s work, break it up and spread it out. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself to complete them you can always roll the tasks onto another day. This is where being your own ‘boss’ comes in handy. And sometimes other projects take priority or a task pops up that needs to be completed there and then. You’ll need to be flexible.
Every evening write down three tasks to focus on the next day.
Business or Pleasure
A great thing about starting your own business is that you should be working towards a goal or passion. This leads to your work and personal life almost merging together. There’s blurred lines when you have your own business because work can feel like pleasure. This one gets me all the time. I love being hands on in my business and some days I feel like I’ve done no work because I’ve had so much fun. My business and personal life overlap a lot, especially creating a personal brand. I’m trying to put myself completely into the business. Remember to take some time for yourself. For me it’s the little things, taking a walk, grabbing a morning coffee.
Don’t over do it, schedule some down time.
This a biggun. The one people fear the most and boy it’s scary. How will you pay yourself? Will you be able to pay yourself? Can you afford to set up your own business? It’s terrifying that you might not have a stable source of income for a while. But it can strive you to really go out there and get it.
I packed my secure job at a Roastery about four months ago and each month I have a tiny little mental break down about my financial situation. This is a big trigger for my depression as well, I’ll start telling myself that my businesses is not sufficient, that it was a stupid idea to start my own business, just give up already and get that regular paycheck. I try not to listen to those thoughts.
If you focus hard enough on creating the money you need, more than likely you will be able to reach it. Focus on that one bit that brings the money in. It’s gonna get tough before it gets better and be aware that you’ll have to put a lot of your money into the business.
Part-time work is always an option.
If you’re a creative opting to start your own business, more than likely you have no idea about the business side of things. At least that is for me. I’m having to learn a whole side to running a business that never even crossed my mind. You’ll find that you’ll probably be winging a lot of it to begin with and until you learn it, it’s all about winging it. What it does mean is that you’re learning. Teaching yourself something you didn’t know anything about.
Loof started as a hobby, I was just creating work because I could. There were no boundaries. But once it was becoming more serious, I knew I had to get some help. Enrolling for the Prince’s Trust was great, and they’ve put me in a clear direction of what I need to do. My workload has increased dramatically but that’s just another part of it.
If you want to make your business a reality, get help. Apply for the Prince’s Trust or find another charity or establishment that helps entrepreneurs. They’ll send you in the right direction and you won’t be completely winging it!
Every time you challenge yourself, you acquire a new skill.
Just do it already.
If you want it, you’ll do it. My depression was probably a catalyst in making this decision to start this business, or at least pursue it as my career. The thought of going back to a ‘normal’ job scares me and I love the freedom having your own business gives you. I’ve got loads of hurdles to overcome and I’m sure my depression is going to make it a super bumpy ride. But to hell with it. Fuck doing things for other people, I’m doing this for me.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post. I hope you found it interesting and insightful.
If you have any questions or fancy a chat, I’m just an email or personal message away. Robi x
Images courtesy of Beth Evans, Abandon Ship and not my own.
When we visited Benmore Botanical Garden, within the grounds they had a beautiful Fernery. A Fernery is similar to conservatories, just specifically designed to house ferns and mosses. Ferns became extremely popular during the Victorian era, and are now making a comeback. Benmore has a collection of 142 different species of ferns from all over the world.
I find ferns fascinating, the way the fronds unravel and the detail of the leaves are intriguing. The images below are a mixture of 35mm scanned photographs and digital photographs taken on a Google Pixel. All photographs are unedited as I prefer to keep them untouched, unless I feel like they need it.
Commissioned to be build by James Duncan at the height of the Victorian fern craze (or pteridomania), the fernery has been standing since the early 1870. The Fernery has changed a lot since it was first built. In the early 20th Century the Fernery fell into disrepair and was left to rot.
Today the Fernery stands in the cliff-side, blending into the beautiful scenery surrounding it. A Century after it was left to decay, it was resurrected by the curators and members of the Young Benmore Trust.
Due to lack of detail on the original plans, they decided to add some modern twists to the building. All the stone used to build the Fernery stayed untouched with the curators adding the beautiful glass roof to provide natural light and to keep the warmth and humidity in.
The Fernery is built of three levels including a grotto with a pool and an elevated viewing platform. And I think you’ll agree with how stunning the interior is.
If you’d like to see more of Robi’s photographs, why not follow her Instagram @robiclm!