Five and a half years ago, I wrote about leaving London for a new kind of life. More time, more space, no commuting… apologies if the link won’t work, my redirects are misbehaving and it’s much too sunny a day to sit and fix code!
And now here I am on the precipice of another new life – the one I have sought since I was old enough to know what adult life looked like, the one I have worked towards every day of the last eight or nine years.
I handed my notice in last week and from 1st August this year, I will be fully self employed.
I should probably be terrified. Instead I know with a deep certainty that this was the right time for this decision, that it is a million percent the right decision, and I am a strange mix of utterly calm and completely overexcited.
At work I have been described as “gleeful” as I’ve been imparting the news – of course there’s a sadness at leaving people behind, it’s always the people that make the job. Though hopefully I won’t lose too many of them with the change. And I am very good at what I do, and am proud of what I have achieved during my years at Essex.
But this… this freedom to pursue my own dreams, to live my own rhythm, to be answerable to nobody but myself… to fit my work around my enchantment & joy, so I am living my fullest & best life… it’s what I’ve craved since I knew how adulthood worked.
I have never understood the 9-5 life, and the way that the human race has created a rat race for themselves, wanting ever more money & power for no discernible reason. I’ve seen so many people sell their souls to their employers, and altogether too many people stretch to buy the home of their dreams, and then spend hardly any time in it, because they are stuck at work earning the money to pay for the home… which they never see. It is a conundrum I have tried and failed to get my head around.
And ultimately, this is what I have always wanted. A chance to give my all to my businesses and my life, instead of using the best of myself on a job and then only having the dregs of my energy for the things that are most important to me.
My time in “proper” jobs has taught me huge amounts about myself, who I am, how I work, what makes me happy, what makes me sad, what I will & won’t tolerate, and a million more small ways to know myself. In the last five years I’ve also discovered my love for the solo life, how to tackle my anxiety, what my natural waking & sleeping rhythm is (it’s nothing like what the general world expects which would explain a lot!), how to control most of my allergies, and I am learning how to live without Dad, though this is by far the hardest lesson.
I know it will involve some sacrifice, and I know it will involve harder work than I’ve ever put into a day job.
But as I stand on this precipice, I cannot wait for the end of July. and the leap into something I have loved from afar for so long. My quartet of businesses & my blog bring me joy on a deep level – I am already settling into giving them more of a boost, as they will no longer be side hustles, but the main part of my livelihood.
I am most looking forward to the freedom to design my days as I please, to wake & sleep as my body tells me, and not feeling so goddamn exhausted all the time. To be able to lose myself in creation and not have to put it aside before I am ready, because of a schedule created by someone else. And to changing other people’s lives & businesses, in small but significant ways, through my photography and my mermaid tails, and the connection of handwritten letters.
And on that note, I am off to sit in the garden with my beloved kitteny cats and enjoy the May sunshine!
Just checking in – I really miss blogging like I used to, as more of a journal of my life. Over the 12 and a half years I’ve been writing about my life on the internet, I’ve seen blogging change and evolve and shapeshift so many times.
I haven’t quite worked out where it is, as a medium, today – some people say it’s dead, some people say it’s stripped back to its bare bones, some sit in the middle.
But for me, and I’m sure I’ve talked about this here before, my blog is my online living room. It’s decorated how I like it, it’s filled with the things and conversations I want to have, and people can visit and leave as they like. No scheduling, no shoulds, no worrying.
It’s probably not a strategy to build an enormous following, but that was never the goal for this particular blog. And I have plenty of business spaces to do the strategic-yet-authentic thing (though if I’m honest, even my businesses don’t have much of a schedule for blogging & social. I prefer to be present and write when I have something to say).
So, things that have been going on in my (still grief-fuddled) world recently:
This amazing box to brighten up my day job desk
Friendiversary dinners & plans – from a year to 20 years, eeek!
Choosing a yellow rose to plant in Dad’s memory
A series of commercial shoots coming up for the Burlesque Jems (and I’m going to be on TV dancing with them – eee!)
Packing for holiday and wondering how the hell I’m going to get my biggest fin, two weeks’ worth of clothes plus my camera, lenses & laptop into hand luggage only
Mermaid filming, and some secret squirrel plans for Mermaiding UK’s blog
Celebrating my Gran’s 88th birthday (we missed Dad being a BBQ maestro but it was really lovely to spend a whole day just chilling out with family)
Happy lunching with friends at work
I was on BBC radio talking about being a mermaid!
Ink Drops packing, podcasts and plans
Moving Crafty Coffee to a Wednesday, to fit in with my new part time hours
Planning for a creative day with friends
Julia and Willoughby came to stay for the long weekend and I had my first foray into toddler soft play – was hilarious! At sixteen months he is gorgeous and much more interactive than newborn babies… but I had forgotten how much energy kids have!!
Going back to burlesque classes – I had missed it SO MUCH
Jenny & Matt’s wedding (and unicorn shoes, and sneaking in brunch with Lou & Paul!) It was also… illuminating… to meet up with people I’d not seen for nearly a decade. I’m very entertained by how some of them still think of me, and also by the passage of time in the case of the boys – the teenage boys I was friends with and loved so much – they are all now hurtling for middle age, yet haven’t changed personality-wise at all.
And I’m sure all sorts of other stuff which has escaped my brain for now.
I can’t quite believe it’s June, but I’m trying to keep up my Happy Jar and gratitude journal practices, and making an effort to cook & eat well, as grief is quite exhausting enough without also trying to survive on junk food.
I’m still sadder than I knew was possible, but I am getting through each day, and spending as much time as I can with Mum and my family and my kittens and my friends – these things do make you realise the important things in life.
And finally, I’m hoping to spend a bit more quality time with my camera over the next couple of months, around all the admin we have to do, and also of course around work. I read somewhere that immersing yourself in things you love helps with anxiety, as you’re too absorbed in your creativity to worry unnecessarily about things. I think maybe this is a good experiment to try…
For the longest time, I thought “home” was a place. Where you live, the house or flat or other dwelling that you return to.
During the days before my beloved Dad passed away, in a tiny hospital room in the acute cardiac unit, I realised that I was wrong.
Home is not just a place, it’s the people you love.
So that little room was home in the truest sense, Dad and Mum and I all together, helping each other through that most final of partings. I’ve never been anywhere more filled with love.
And home is, of course, not just your parents, children or partner.
It’s where you feel you belong. Whether that’s with a group of friends, or in a particular place, or a mixture of the two…
I’m amazingly lucky to have lots of people who feel like home, and several places too (not least my actual house).
Last weekend, I was with my best friends from uni, in a cottage on a lake in the Cotswolds. We went boating on the lake, and I was home, both with them and on the water.
And I’m now much more aware of people, rather than just places, being home.
I also spotted lots of things Dad would love, which I’ve added to my Instagram hashtag… #thingsthatwouldmakedadsmile
Where is home for you? Who are the people who make you feel at home?
I’ve been busy filling my happy jars this month and it’s been a gorgeous experience!
In no particular order, here are lovely little snippets of January:
These coaching videos shared by my friend Darren
best compliments ever from Rhi and Janine, including a comparison to a photographer I love
Lizzie being fully booked for work and Rhiannon’s first month of self employment being a runaway success
booking a very exciting photography workshop
epic kitten cuddles (pic of Luna. Clover likes to cuddle me while I’m on the loo, so I’ll spare you all photos of that)
teeny tiny pug puppies! I was at the vet and a box of tiny, wriggling, three week old puppies came in <3
happy post from Em, Cally, Sarah, Janine, Judy and Annastasia (and NEOM organics)
lens shopping for my photography businesses and impromptu cake with Sarah
giving an inspiring talk to the Cake and Revolution W.I. in Ipswich ~ “I had goosebumps listening to you talk – thank you”
planning cake & celebration for the finishing of the first draft of a friend’s novel
crafting Saturdays at Sarah’s
snow! and getting home safely in some mad flurries of snow. and kittens in the snow (first time they’ve ever seen it):
(The Silly Kittens – first time snow from Carla Louise on Vimeo.)
brunch with Mum & Dad at Chiquito’s
lovely, happy lunches with Ally, Sarah A, Darren, Janine, Emma, Sarah S
making unicorn bark
a security guard letting me through a building even though it was locked, to save me a long walk around to the car park
feeling like I have my creative mojo back
Maddy’s Careershifters feature
Dad’s blue badge approval – which should make it easier for him to get out and about
studio time and homemade lasagne, which Past Carla had been sensible enough to make and then freeze – it was SO nice to have proper food after getting carried away making!
Kittens in paper bags
lucky rainbow scarf day
friends’ business and coaching and singing plans
Lost property lady being utterly lovely about my lost fountain pen
Buying a replacement fountain pen from ebay – it’s not the same enough, but the slip that came with it said that my money is going towards a fund a teenager is setting up to help rural communities in Peru, building classrooms, greenhouses, better sanitation and environmental projects. He is going to volunteer there in the summer following his GCSEs, in 2018. This was such a lovely surprise!
meeting a lovely lecturer at work who was delighted to meet a professional mermaid
sending a surprise parcel to a young lady who’s going to meet a real mermaid, and be one herself for the day, in March – she came to my attention via the Rays of Sunshine charity, and while I couldn’t accommodate her request as my mermaiding is only insured for grown ups, I couldn’t resist parcelling up some mermaid delights for her <3 I had a gorgeous email from her mum to say Lucy loved her parcel!
planning & reviewing time – this has been so good for me in previous years, and I can do it with friends this year!
Karen bringing me a surprise Kinder egg
Reading about basic income – something I’d like to learn more about
transferring Mum’s phone successfully to giffgaff
two no spend days in a row
booking all my Mondays off work to use up holiday
lovely new PA in our faculty team
hotel chocolat order (woo for end of season sales!)
glitter jar for the office
exciting photography developments
Things I love and want to remember about myself postcard I made for the WI
invitation to Silke’s Professorial Inaugural Lecture
booked onto the circus day the girls got me for my 30th (eeek!)
salted caramel hot chocolate
long chat with Lou
my nephew Willoughby turned 1
time with Dad putting the world to rights
time with Mum ironing shelves (!) and putting the world to rights
getting all the photos of my house project all in one place
facetime with Claire and her lovely doglet Bailey
Phew! For a long, cold, dull month which also had its share of sadness and anxiety, I feel like that’s one amazing list!
2017 has such a different vibe so far – I am absolutely loving feeling more like myself again, and having creative oomph… long may it last!