Avoiding burnout and keeping ourselves replenished doesn’t just mean taking a break when it all gets too much. At Jijaze we believe it’s our duty as change makers to take care of ourselves and honour our own wellbeing every day – so that we can root our work in practices that help us thrive. It’s the only way we can make sure the change we want to see is one that we can sustain over the long term.
We’re big believers in practicing what we preach and so we’re asking our team to share their practices with us. Today, we’re talking to Madeleine Forbes, our Content and Outreach Lead, who supports Jijaze from her home in Central Portugal.
Tell us about your change making work
I’m a writer, and my change making work focuses on helping different clients to share the work that they they do online via blogs, websites and emails. Along with Jijaze, I support entrepreneurs making a difference in the world through coaching, supporting women to become leaders in their communities, and developing better relationships, among other things.
The other part of my change making work is a project I run called The Seasoned Year, helping us connect to the seasons. I think living seasonally is an antidote to the hyper-consumerist culture we live in right now, and helps us to be healthier physically and emotionally, as well as be better stewards of the earth. It fits really well with Jijaze’s message that rest and replenishment are vital parts of our lives: it’s taught me that everyhting has its place in the cycle, and that change is the only constant.
Where do you do your work?
I work from home, on the farm, varying my work between the quiet of our bedroom and the bustle of the kitchen table. I grew up in London but have lived here in Portugal for just over three years. We’re pretty much off-grid – mobile broadband connects me to the web, solar panels power my laptop, and our water comes from a well on our land. Remote working has made choosing this life possible for me and my family, and I’m ever grateful for the technology which makes that possible.
What does a typical day consist of?
It’s always a mixture. Work wise my time is split between writing, social media and Skype calls. My constant project is to not let work take over. I love what I do and could happily get lost in my laptop for hours on end!
My little boy is eight months old so there’s plenty of baby cuddles, nappy changes and floor time right now. Farm chores like fetching wood, tending to the chickens, and chugging up the dirt track in the Landrover. Plus all the unexpected interruptions that children and animals bring…
Who are your inspirations, and why?
I’m really inspired by Mary Ann and the rest of the team at Jijaze. Everyone who’s a part of this project really “walks their talk” when it comes to making change in a way that’s sustainable long term. In a recent workshop in our community we imagined where we’d be in ten year’s time, and it was inspiring to hold that vision of how this work could have grown since then.
I’m generally inspired by courageous women who are following their calling and making the world a better place. Naomi Klein, Sarah Wilson who campaigns against food and plastic waste, and anyone helping us create a kinder, more sustainable planet.
Who and what supports your work?
My husband, who does the bulk of the childcare, keeps the rest of our lives on the farm on track, and puts up with my endless requests for “just 5 more minutes while I finish this thing”. The teams I’m a part of who both stretch and support me – what a great combination. The Away Days and workshops we do as part of the Jijaze community have really supported me to build replenishment into my work. And my clients who are getting up to all kinds of things out there in the “real world”.
What are the signs that tell you when it’s time to take a step back and recharge?
I have a tendency to say yes enthusiastically to lots of things, and then find myself struggling to complete all the tasks I’ve committed to. It’s something I’m working on! Overwhelm shows up as irritability – I have a horrible habit of taking our frustration on my nearest and dearest, who luckily know me well enough to gently point that out to me. If things get really bad I have a tendency towards anxiety and late night worries start to creep in.
How do you build breaks or chances to replenish into your day?
This year I’ve been really trying to make time to meditate every day, and when I achieve it, it makes all the difference. Wherever possible I like to head out into the beautiful hills I live in, look around me, and soak in whatever’s going on in nature. And the best break I know is to head into the village and chat the old folk there. They’ve been farming these hills for generations and have no concept of the emails, facebook posts and websites which occupy most of my day – it’s like a reset for my brain.
If you have a whole day off, how do you recharge?
Now that I have a baby, long lie ins are no longer an option! But I love a day where I have no deadlines and don’t have to look at the clock at all. Hanging out with my family, being in nature, and cooking something delicious are the pillars of a really good day for me.
Where do you see your work in ten years time?
I would love to see the projects I’m a part of really thriving and growing – I’d love to see Jijaze especially become a movement sustaining the work of thousands of change makers. We’re very new to managing the smallholding and in ten years I’d hope we’d be more proficient farmers, living largely off the produce we grow, and using the car much less than we do now.
Over to you…
Remote working means we can connect with others and contribute to change wherever we are in the world. Where do you do your work from, and how do you stop yourself becoming overwhelmed by your to-do list? Can you relate, and do you have any tips you’d like to share in the comments?
If you’d like support around building up your own wellbeing practices to sustain the impact of your work long term, we’d love you to join our community of change-making women. You can find out about other ways we support individuals and organisations by clicking here.
Spread the word!
We believe taking care of ourselves is the only way to create lasting change, avoid burnout, and have the impact we’re capable of. So sharing our practices and making replenishing ourselves a normal part of how we think about our work is vital! We’d love it if you could use the buttons below to share this post on social media, and raise our Change Making Voices together. Thank you!