So here I am, just over a week into my new life, and as ever, my instinct is to write it all out… on the internet. Because a fourteen year habit is hard to break!

I have been bullet journalling and proper journalling, but nothing quite hits the spot like a blog post. Or a cheeseless pizza.

Pizza to celebrate the last day of work | carlalouise.com

 

Time is precious

And never more so than being able to sleep and wake on my own schedule. I realised a long time ago that, alongside loving the various challenges of being an entrepreneur, a massive part of my drive to work for myself is that I just don’t get on well with the standard times that society deems acceptable. For waking, for eating, for living, working and sleeping, I do everything later than I’m supposed to, and it drives everyone around me absolutely nuts.

And oh, it is BY FAR the most satisfying part of this new journey so far. I wake up (not even that late, but past the point at which I’ve always had to be at a day job desk) and I’m NOT TIRED – I’m raring to go. I don’t have to drag myself through a shower solely to wake up enough to pass as a functioning human, but instead can have an invigorating shower with my own essential oil mixes, I can dye or deep condition my hair, and I don’t nearly break my ankle trying to get out in a hurry so I’m not late for work.

It. Is. Bliss.

Grief can make me have misdirected meltdowns

I feel like this is probably something I should already know, or certainly should have learned in the past seventeen months. But apparently I am a stubborn one (who knew?!).

On Tuesday Mum and I went to the crematorium to finalise our choice of final resting place for Dad’s ashes. When we first visited, a helicopter flew over, and it felt absolutely like the right place. But actually choosing the niche where his ashes, and later on Mum’s, will stay for always was rather more emotionally exhausting than I’d anticipated.

So of course just before we went, I had a total panic about all things business and life, and only after I got home did I realise that all of that was simply grief, redirected somewhere which was easier to get a handle on.

I still can’t get my head around Dad not being here, it seems impossible that he’s never seen my studio, and I can’t believe that I’m doing this Massive Life Thing without him. It’s the weirdest experience. I miss him.

We had a sneaky BBQ which I think he’d rather like… I’m also eyeing up a pizza oven to go on it, which he’d definitely have liked.

Carla and Mum BBQing | carlalouise.com

Mum is of course around, and wonderfully supportive even through her own grief – I’ve no idea what we would have done without each other.

Studio 19

is my happy place. Almost exactly a year ago I went to Open Studios with Rhi, and it felt like such a good place to be. Though I could never have dreamed that just a year later I’d be established there and able to spend as much time as I want in my studio!

I hopped briefly in and out during the first whirlwind week, but today was the first time I got to actually go and work there – shooting new Ink Drops selections ready for tomorrow’s strategy/wrapping/Ink Drops pasta session with Anna. Outside Studio 19 | carlalouise.com

And it just felt so strongly like exactly where I was always meant to be, doing what I was always meant to be doing.

It’s a while since I’ve felt this contentment, and sense of rightness in what I’m doing – for much of the past few years, even while building my beloved businesses, I’ve battled anxiety, feelings of desperation & being trapped in a 9-5, and of course, latterly, grief.

So although grief is absolutely still part of me, I am also revelling in feeling like I’ve made the best possible decision. And I reckon Dad would approve of that.

Life with cats

Oh, my kitteny cats. They are never predictable, are they? Clover had a fright five or so weeks back and has been behaving very strangely ever since. The insane heat we’ve had didn’t help matters, as it was then hard to tell if she was refusing to go outside from fear, or just because it was too damn hot.

Clover snoozing in the cat tree | carlalouise.com

She had her final vet visit yesterday and was given a definite diagnosis of stress – so nothing medical underlying her behaviour, which is what I was fretting about. Poor little fluff had made it very obvious all was not well in her kitteny world, so I was worrying about what else might be happening under the surface.

Luna snoozing in a suitcase with one paw up on the side | carlalouise.com

Luna is as cheeky as ever, and I think all three of us are loving me being home more – I can pop in and out much more calmly than before, I love not having to rush out first thing in the morning every day, so I get mid-morning cuddles when I’m here, and apart from their breakfast being later, they certainly seem to be enjoying the extra attention!

Reading vs TV vs Netflix

I’ve realised (though it is more of an affirmation of something I’ve known a long time), I’m really not a film or TV person.

Giving up TV, when working full time, to have more time to work on my businesses, was easy. I haven’t had a TV licence now for I think four years, and I don’t miss it at all. I rarely even watch DVDs, and my TV set is gathering dust in my spare room.

I do go through small phases on Netflix, mainly of kids’ programmes – I worked my way through Ever After High, My Little Pony, H2O Just Add Water and Mako Mermaids, and am now most of the way through Spirit: Riding Free (which was maybe a less wise choice as while I love it, it’s about a girl and her Dad on the Wild West frontier and it makes me cry more often than an animated kids’ series probably should…).

But reading – I can’t give it up. I have temporarily switched back to reading things which are useful to one business or another, or to my self development – Women who run with the wolves, a proof copy of the new bullet journal book, and an incredible take on boudoir photography.

But I literally can’t exist without the written word – it’s part of my DNA, and without it I am sad and not quite whole. Much like I am when I don’t pick my camera up for too long, but without the attendant creative angst!

Friends are magical

And Mum, of course! I worried a little that I would lose some of my social circle, and by extension some of my social skills, by changing to a life where I am primarily on my own. I live alone, I work in my studio alone and as I’ve already established, my body clock isn’t very normal!

So far, I’ve been proved completely wrong. Which is good! I know I have worked exceptionally hard to make and maintain my friendships, but I am also exceptionally lucky to have the people I do in my life.

Teeny orangey frog | carlalouise.comthis little guy was by the studios today. he’s not representative of my friends, but he’s cute and I figured it was easier than trying to tag the many people who have been instrumental and wonderful lately <3

The studio was also definitely the right decision – with 30-odd artists also based there, there’s always someone to chat to as you refill the kettle, and it’s wonderful to get an insight into other people’s creative processes.

And I managed to sneak to see Julia and Odette before they move to Ireland – I have no idea when I will get over there, but I am SO excited for their new life too! In a nice ironic twist, I chose one of the hottest days of the year to go – we had a lovely actual day, but the train home was in rush hour (because Clovie needs her routine!), lacked air conditioning, was packed with people due to cancellations and was held for 40 minutes outside Colchester station. Which gave me a nice reminder (not that I needed one) of why I’d very much prefer never to work in London again for more than a day or two at a time!

Talking of temperatures…

The heatwave has been insane. I have been more floppy and lethargic than normal, the cats keep asking me to turn the heating down and I’ve been devising ever more creative ways to wear minimal clothing without getting arrested.

After the storm | carlalouise.comWhen we had the first downpour I ran out in it, I’ve never been so pleased to see rain in my life. To the right is my happy, soaked-to-the-skin self after around 90 seconds outdoors.

Today has been intermittently thundery with massive downpours and sun in between – only at half nine am I now starting to feel a little cold at the end of my fingers… but even that’s a novelty after the weeks we’ve had!

(to put that into perspective, it’s currently 18 degrees in my living room, as I type this at my bureau (because vintage + tech FTW!). For the last… six or seven weeks, it’s not dropped below 25 degrees downstairs at any point. Upstairs has been 29-32 constantly, even with windows open.)

And on that note, I shall go and find some photos to break up my ramblings, and then find some food and head for bed 🙂

P.S. Looking for the businesses I keep mentioning?

Photography with soul for your gorgeous creative business (plus a blog & podcast for multipods, side hustlers and solopreneurs everywhere) – carlawatkins.com

Delightful stationery, dropped through your letterbox – who doesn’t love new stationery? – inkdrops.co.uk

Be a mermaid at mermaiding.co.uk

Lifestyle & pet photography lives at carlawatkinsphotography.com

On the precipice of a(nother) new life