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Farming with nature

August 24, 2015

Make Wealth History

A few years ago the BBC showed a fascinating little documentary called A Farm for the Future. It argued that farming had got it wrong for thousands of years when it came to managing the soil, and that there were better techniques that used less energy and didn’t disturb the ground. It was a beautiful demonstration of farming that works with nature, and a neat introduction to agroforestry and permaculture.

A Farm for the Future was presented by Rebecca Hosking, and it was good to hear from her again in this short film from Permaculture Magazine. She explains how sheep are raised on her farm in ways that regenerate the earth and protect other species. It’s a great example of regenerative agriculture, an approach that restores and improves the earth rather than wearing it out and creating a dependency on energy and chemical inputs.

This film is part of…

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Summertime Series 3 – Listening

August 17, 2015


So far in our summertime series we have had recommendations for ‘experiences’ and also ‘reading’. This week its all about the listening and some top tips for playing a part in your soundtrack for the summer.


Nomad Podcast – An Interview with Alastair McIntosh 

It’s quite popular these days to refer to yourself as an activist. But Alastair McIntosh is the real thing. Not only is he a respected academic and writer, but he’s taken on major corporations, and won! Why? Because he believes that much of the modern world is threatening our sense of place, which is so vital for human flourishing. This is a real gem of an interview and highlights the profound importance of living with integrity, humility, passion and compassion. There is also a nice musical link at Radiohead’s Thom Yorke also features (ok by name only) in the interview.


Greenbelt Festival  

I’m really looking forward to some of the music at this year’s Greenbelt festival. There are lots of really good artists on the bill and I am especially looking forward to – Duke Special, This is the Kit, The Unthanks (although 2 nights off the ‘late slot’  from the Tearfund stand might be pushing my luck) just 3 of many highlights. Are you going to the festival or any others for that matter? What are going to be your highlights of the summer musically? 


Benjamin Blower – Kingdom vs Empire

Kingdom vs. Empire is fuelled by the guttural force of Tom Waits, Johnny Cash and Woody Guthrie, the tried-and-trusted troubadour’s guitar framed by clattering percussion and clamouring voices.  ‘Take Back the Space’ and ‘Trouble in the Empire’ are clanging calls to radical action and ‘Asleep for a Long, Long Time’ is a ballad to the discontent of 2011. Finally ‘Wake Up Dry Bones’ and ‘Repentance is the Revolution’ are rooted firmly in that forbidden power that emerges when everyday people engage in radical faith.

The accompanying book is an apocalyptic vision, boiled down to its purest form; a social critique of life and faith in 21st Century Britain. Reminiscent of Allen Ginsberg, Andrea Dworkin, The Situationists and the Old Testament Prophets, it is an unapologetic pummelling in the face that will be loved or hated.

A great album from this Birmingham based musician.

“This is a stunning looking and rich piece of work – thoughtful and thought-provoking, a real work of art in the broadest and best sense.” -Kester Brewin, Author of ‘The Complex Christ’

****** BONUS FEEL GOOD MOMENT AND SONG for the summer ********

The film says it all. What a song, what a great idea, check this out for a feel good summer song and initiative! A group of 1000 passionate and determined  Italians ask The Foo Fighters to come and play in their country/local area!

The Simple Guide To Conscious Spending Revisited

August 14, 2015

Simply Being Mum

As we in the UK march toward the Diamond Jubilee (I have red, white and blue cakes planned!) it reminded me of a post I wrote over a year ago now.

Why I am a bit like the Queen

The above post links to a Guest Post I wrote for So Much More Life. It has never been posted here, so I thought it might be nice to revisit it. Enjoy!

The Simple Guide To Conscious Spending – Originally published March 2011.

For me conscious spending is knowing where every penny goes, or at least every pound. It’s about value for money, spending on what matters to my family and me and not frittering away cash. It’s not about being frugal, it’s about eliminating waste – I don’t mind spending money but I hate wasting money.

Due to living our family life this way it has meant that much…

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Summer Series 2 – Reading

August 10, 2015

summer reading 2

In our 2nd post as part of our summer series we turn to reading and books that might inspire us to live more simply, to Breathe more and pursue less ‘stuff’ and less drivenness and to ‘Breathe’ and seek out more ‘life’ in all its fullness. Here are 3 great books that will help us to ‘Breathe’ this summer.

Less is More by Brian Draper 

“The world of More, Bigger, Faster calls to us, and we respond by living in a way that’s burning us out, exhausting the planet, and creating an economy of greed. And yet, deeper within all of us, another voice whispers: there is more to life than this; there is a another way to go.” Brian Draper

This is a great book (and one we have reviewed before) that we keep coming back to at Breathe. The ‘Less is More Manifesto’ that accompanies the book is fantastic and is really akin to the Breathe Promise of Life.  Brian has also written some other great books and as mentioned last week, also leads some great seasonal retreats and on line seasonal journeys.




The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown 

Brene Brown is well known and much respected for her research into Vulnerability and shame and her TED Talks.

“Each day we face a barrage of images and messages from society and the media telling us who, what, and how we should be. We are led to believe that if we could only look perfect and lead perfect lives, we’d no longer feel inadequate. So most of us perform, please, and perfect, all the while thinking, “What if I can’t keep all of these balls in the air? Why isn’t everyone else working harder and living up to my expectations? What will people think if I fail or give up? When can I stop proving myself?” In her 10 guideposts, Brown engages our minds, hearts, and spirits as she explores how we can cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, “No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough,” and to go to bed at night thinking, “Yes, I am sometimes afraid, but I am also brave. And, yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am worthy of love and belonging.”

Brene Brown Gift


Free by Mark and Lisa Scandrette


Why does chasing the good life make us feel so bad? We dream big and spend our money and time chasing our dreams—only to find ourselves exhausted, deeply in debt and spiritually empty. Mark and Lisa Scandrette realized at the beginning of their lives together that what they want, what they need and what they were being told to want didn’t sync up. In Free Mark (with a little help from Lisa) shares the secrets of how they bought a home and raised a family debt-free in the most expensive city in the United States—and how they’ve enjoyed good relationships, good adventures and good food along the way. Packed with helpful exercises for getting a handle on your money story, and designed for healing and generative money conversations with friends, Free gives you a path to financial freedom and spiritual flourishing that awakens your heart and energizes your soul.

There is a great link online to dig more into the book

We hope you are inspired by whatever you choose to read this summer. If one of these books makes it to your reading pile/list (and into your luggage) then do feel free to let us know what you think.

Happy Reading. Next week for part 3 we will be turning to listening (recommending a few podcasts and soulful tunes for your soundtrack to the summer)

Summertime Series 1 – Experiences

August 3, 2015


We kick off our 4 week summer special this week by encouraging us all to take some time to experience something that will refresh us, inspire us afresh and give us life. Creating space for us to ‘Breathe’ and find more life.

1) Rest and Retreat

Last week I had the opportunity to take some time out and explore and think about Rest. There was a focus on 4 themes. All connected to rest. Our desire to be Active is great. But sometimes we need to stop, retreat and seek the benefits of rest.

Rest and Reflection:  (Read Philippians 4: 4-9)

Rest and Humility (Psalm 139: 1-12)

Rest and Trust  (Psalm 23)

Rest and Renewal (Isaiah 40: 26-31, Psalm 51: 7-12)

We live in a society where productivity and activity are increasingly valued at the expense of rest. Whether its sleep, (read this amazing report, its well worth resting and taking 30 mins out to do this) switching off (from work and from our gadgets) and simply being, we are in all honestly likely to not be getting enough rest.

Getting away and experiencing a change of scene is so often very life giving. I can highly recommend a lead retreat. Brian Draper  leads some excellent one’s. Do also check out this helpful guide.

2) Eat out with a Difference and/or Bless someone with a Random Act of Kindness

Inspired by our Food blog from a couple of weeks ago could you eat out with a difference this summer and get along to a Pay as you feel (PAYF) Cafe for a meal? If not, how about savouring a good local restaurant that is much more likely to cook food that’s Local, Organic, Animal Friendly and Fair Trade.  (LOAF)

If you are not near a PAYF Cafe then how about this… Could you buy some a suspended coffeeA suspended coffee is the advance purchase of a cup of coffee for someone who needs it, no matter why. But it really is about so much more than the coffee. It can provide physical comfort, conversation, a smile or even a laugh, and a sense of belonging. A suspended coffee can change lives, sometimes even save them. Check out this map to find a cafe local to you! 

3) Have a Free Day Out 

This depends on where you live of course, but its amazing how possible it is to have a day out for free. Walking to a local park and meeting up with friends/family for a picnic. Going for a long (or short) Bike Ride or Walk, Finding out about Free local events and fun days, there are lots of options and lots of fun to be had.

Do feel free to share any ideas, resources and share an of your experiences

Hope you have a good time doing 1 or more of these things over the summer. Next week we share 3 recommended reads for the summer for when camping, staying with family/friends or lounging about at home.

Summer Time: New Mini Series for August

July 27, 2015


Summer is here (or has it been and gone already?) and for many this means the opportunity to take a break, have a change of scene, maybe a change of pace and taking time to rest and relax. Maybe you are going to a festival or going camping/hiring a place to take a well earned rest. Wherever you go and whatever you do we hope you have a great break and get the chance to ‘Breathe’ and ‘be’ this Summer.

To hopefully fuel and inspire you this summer we are going to do a 4 week mini series in August. Each Tuesday (4, 11, 18 and 25) we will post a short reflection and a link to 3 resources/ideas/people/stories that have inspired us and we hope inspire you.

We will begin next Tuesday 4 August with 3 experiences that we hope might inspire you to ‘Breathe’ this summer.

The (growing) Food Revolution and Movement

July 24, 2015


It’s summer and with that its also BBQ Season! I absolutely love Food and all of the possibilities and delights that sharing a good meal bring. Just this week alone I’ve had a community BBQ on Monday evening and then shared in an amazing meal at one of my favourite local eateries with a group of friends. I love food and I confess that whilst I am seeking to eat less meat and eat more sustainably it does not always happen!

Food at it’s very best is a wonderful thing. The enjoyment of tastes and flavours, the opportunity for creativity and for me the most important; the shared experience and community that is created and cherished from eating together. It’s a thing of beauty.

However we have to face the fact that as beautiful as food is at its best we also have a big problem. These food waste facts speak volumes about the challenges and complexities of our Global food system. A system, whether we like it or not, we are all very much a part of. This is in addition to the stark reality that in the UK we face into a growing problem of food poverty with the significant increase in Foodbanks. Whilst the response of organisations like The Trussell Trust is deeply admirable, I long for the day when Foodbanks go into decline and then stop operating, not because of a lack of volunteers or desire to support them, but because no-one is in need any longer. These are long term challenges and require us all to play a part, but on the horizon I see some signs of hope.


In the midst of this complexity I am inspired, heartened and humbled by a growing food movement and revolution that is taking place. Here are 3 inspiring examples of how food is being reimagined and how people are being creative in their response to bring hope, change and transformation in how we eat and think about food.

  • Last year I went to visit the Incredible Edible project in Todmorden. Meeting people who started this food revolution in a small town and seeing how it has transformed the landscape and the mindsets of the community was deeply inspiring. From the seed that was (literally) planted in Todmorden there is now a growing Incredible Edible Network in the UK and Beyond. Its a great example of creating fun, education and possibility with food.

real junk food

  • I’ve also been really inspired by The Real Junk Food Project. It’s a growing food movement where food that would otherwise go to waste is ‘intercepted’ and used to cook meals in a cafe/canteen. People are encouraged to Pay as you feel for the food. My work has enabled me to make a link with one of these growing numbers of PAYF Cafe’s called The Saltaire Canteen. This recent Guardian article is well worth a read.


  • The final initiative that has inspired me is a called Feedback. Feedback is an  organisation that campaigns to end food waste at every level of the food system. Feedback catalyse action on eliminating food waste globally, working with governments, international institutions, businesses, NGOs, grassroots organisations and the public to change society’s attitude toward wasting food. They have a brilliant campaign at the moment #StopDumping which is challenging Supermarkets to stop dumping their unwanted (and wasted) food orders onto farmers to have to deal with, as well as losing out on a means to get their products to market.

These initiatives highlight that local, national and international initiatives are all vital and that we need creative community as well as political solutions.

What can we do? I would encourage you to sign up to Feedback and join the growing movement. Perhaps next time you are out for a meal, could you see if there is an option of going to a PAYF Cafe. Or could you get growing food at home, via an Incredible Edible Project or a local community allotment?

Food is good and we should celebrate the joys and delights of eating, especially when we do it together with others. But as we tuck into our favourite meals this summer, could we also explore ways to reimagine how we eat, share, waste less and grow our food?