Home All Practical Self-Reliance: Baking, Mindfulness, and Permaculture

Practical Self-Reliance: Baking, Mindfulness, and Permaculture

written by Elaine O'Brien 27 November 2020

Elaine O'Brien, PhD, MAPP '08, is a positive psychology, fitness leadership, positive health promotion, movement science, aging, and well-being speaker, author, trainer, thought leader, people/project manager, educator, and consultant. Elaine creates programs promoting proactive positive health/fitness, and optimal performance. Elaine presents internationally and online. She advances health, fitness, and flourishing by inspiring people to move more and to find both enjoyment and meaning in motion via PEP: Positive Exercise Practices. Elaine's website.  Full bio. Elaine's articles are here.

What are you doing to keep up your resolve? The skill of practical self-reliance can help build your resilience, appreciation, and well-being.  I learned about practical self-reliance from Jaime Jenkins, a fellow member of a Friday morning Theano Writer’s Workshop organized by Kathryn Britton. These meetings have been a revelation for me, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. I cherish the time with these accomplished and inspiring women. Here’s what Jaime has to say about practical self-reliance:

“Self-reliance, in its most basic form, is having the skills required and confidence in your ability to meet your needs without dependence on others. It is the word dependence that is an essential differentiator between traditional self-reliance and practical self-reliance. As human beings, we thrive in community, and the majority of us do not do well in isolation. Being practically self-reliant does not mean that you are required to, nor should you do, everything on your own. It is the belief and confidence that you will be able to navigate the often complex human relationships necessary to satisfy particular needs. By doing this, we can come to work in community with others to support each other’s needs, but our fate is not controlled or determined by another.” ~Jaime Jenkins

Jaime’s practices are helping me personally, so I wanted to share her wisdom, perspective, and creativity with you. Jaime has piqued my curiosity around mindful transformations, new ways of applying positive psychology, and even celebrating awareness of our day-to-day basic actions.

Jaime Jenkins
Who is Jaime Jenkins?

Jaime Booth (Cundy) Jenkins is an artist, scientist, musician, and mother of two beautiful daughters. Along with a MAPP degree from Penn, Jaime has earned the MSc in Psychology and Neuroscience of Mental Health degree at Kings College, London. Jaime, reminds us it is possible to find the extraordinary in ordinary moments. She recently founded LoAF Farms with her husband, Matt.

“At LoAf Farms we live at the intersection of permaculture and Seligman’s PERMA culture, where sustainable agricultural design meets human well-being theory. The coming together of these principles and practices has allowed us to create the unique learning experiences found in our workshops, and bring a fresh perspective to our more bespoke offerings.”   
What is permaculture? 

Jaime describes permaculture this way:

“Bill Mollison and David Holmgren came together in the 1970’s to synthesize an agricultural design principle that was self-sufficient and self-sustaining. One that would require little work and produce little to no waste. They called it ‘permaculture’ from permanens, to persist indefinitely, and cultura, practices that support human occupation. Their goal was to create a persistent system that would sustain human beings indefinitely. It is shaped around conscious design. Seeing an opportunity to learn from nature, they created a template and core philosophy for others to follow. Permaculture is perhaps more simply defined as an attempt to design a ‘good’ place to live.”

Permaculture involves caring for the earth, caring for people, and ensuring that everyone has a fair share and access to what they need. Jaime embodies the permaculture ethic.

What is PERMA-culture? 

PERMA is the acronym for the elements of well-being described by Martin Seligman in his 2010 book, Flourish. The elements of PERMA are:

  • Positive Emotion
  • Engagement
  • Relationships (Positive)
  • Meaning
  • Accomplishment

Jaime Jenkins defines PERMA-culture simply as “an attempt at living a good life in a good place with good people.” Jaime adds that members of LoAF Farms are driven by the confluence of Permaculture and PERMA-culture. She values building skills through physical action along with stronger relationships with community and environment.

Stress Responses and Innovation: Jaime’s Grounding Strategies

Why do so many of us turn to baking in times of stress or crisis? Jaime reminds us that the flight, fight, or freeze responses to stress can be accompanied by tend and befriend responses. Baking is a way to ground ourselves. When we experience stress, we may feel a build-up of nervous energy in excess of what is required to motivate us. Just like electrical appliances, we need a safe way to ground that excess energy. Jaime offers an innovative repertoire of practical tips related to baking to help us and embody grounding. These include:

  • Mental grounding techniques, such as baker’s math and memory games
  • Emotional grounding techniques to soothe ourselves, such as loving visualizations and listening to favorite music
  • Physical grounding techniques such as gathering ingredients and dancing.

Jaime talks about getting out of the head and into the body, experiencing all the senses, and using baking as a powerful and simple form of practical self-reliance. 

”Jaime shares a lot of reasons to get baking.., and she has just put together this bite-sized course that allows you to capitalize on the mental and social benefits of baking. In Jaime’s program, you will practice mindfulness, gratitude, grounding, and of course a delicious and practical sourdough sandwich loaf!” ~ Lisa Sansom

Lessons of Temperance and Gratitude

In the podcast episode On Transitions and Temperance, Jaime shares her perspective, and recipes:

“In a world that has been turned on its head – some people have taken the opportunity to embrace a different way of living, one that is driven by sustainability instead of scarcity. We dive in deep and talk to people who have made, or who are making the shift. We’ll hear their stories, learn some of their lessons, and of course share a Freshly Baked Loaf of Bread.”

Jaime reminds us that there are spirited gratitude traditions across most cultures. Adapting the Gratitude Letter Exercise, Jaime created the following exercise around appreciation, baking, and building connections:

“Take some time and think of someone in your life, past or present, who your feel gratitude for. There is no limit to how many times you can practice the gratitude (bake) so if more than one person comes to mind, try to narrow it down to the someone that you could reasonable meet with to share….” 

Jaime encourages us to bake bread as a rich sensory experience applying music, movement, taste, smell, touch, hearing.

Jaime’s idea of practical self-reliance serves up a welcome, encouraging balm for my weary heart. Jaime gives us hope and inspiration to celebrate the simple and good. In the spirit of thanksgiving, wherever you are, I’m happy to share the resources below to help you boost your practical self-reliance.


Loaf Farms Webpage

Jaime Jenkins’s Blog, Practical Self-Reliance

Sign up, or give the gift of Jaime’s practical self-reliance.

Jaime Jenkins feels her mission is represented the old lady in The Dumpster Fire and the Garden. Tend the garden and do good today. What a beautiful blessing!

Check Jaime’s Facebook post here.

You can also listen to Jaime’s podcast here.

Seligman, M. E. P. (2011). Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being. New York: Free Press.

Image Credits

Loaf of bread on cutting block by Duminda Perera on Unsplash

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

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