Stock take day!

Day three on the trot. I really should have started on 1 November, shouldn’t I?!

Today has proudly been a no-spend day, and also a whole day in my unicorn onesie – I put it on as soon as I was showered and haven’t yet taken it off. The two things may or may not be related.

As I type I am full of chicken stir fry and ibuprofen for my sore back, as today was my scheduled stock count day for Ink Drops – mine & Annastasia’s beloved little stationery subscription company.

I adore curating, photographing and posting boxes of stationery to other paper addicts, and generally our boxes of stock are a lovely addition to my office – who doesn’t love working surrounded by stationery?

But stock count days, while fun, are harder work – as I now work between home and Studio 19, finding every piece of stock is always entertaining, and then rounding them all up into logical boxes & shelves is even more pesty. And then I have to count the buggers!

Having said that, every year I stumble across something I’ve forgotten we had, or that Anna ordered and I have only seen briefly, so I am now full of ideas for more boxes – keep an eye on the shop!

I am nearly there – three more boxes and our packaging to go, but Luna was a super-helpful kitty:

Both kitties are dealing surprisingly well with the fireworks, even though we can usually see & hear the university ones from here – I wonder if tomorrow night will be louder?

Right, off to finish my stock take spreadsheet for the night. There are definitely some less glam sides to self employed life but oh, how I love it <3

Calligraphing

That’s definitely a word!

Today Mum and I went to Mistley to learn calligraphy – my birthday present to Mum that we only got round to booking last month!

No photo because wordpress is sulking, but here’s my Insta pics:

It was great fun but also much more mentally taxing than either of us expected – and very much like dancing, in that you have to focus so you don’t balls it up!

And when you are focused like that, everything else floats away.

We also had incredible pizza in Lucca’s of Manningtree afterwards.

AND I remembered to blog!

All in all, a fabulous day!

An attempt to recapture my blogging mojo

Hey! I’m still here 🙂

The last few months have been mad – wonderful, and I love the freedom & flexibility of my new self employed life, but also weird, and sad – I am still battling grief & the reality of Dad being gone, and there has been some other background weird shit too.

And as a result I haven’t been blogging much at all!

Having talked to some friends recently who are doing various blogging things – Annastasia blogging daily, Virginia doing NaNoWriMo but in blog posts – I thought maybe over here I can reclaim some of my writing for pleasure 🙂

I love blogging for my businesses, but it’s much less stream-of-consciousness-friendly than here – this has always been the equivalent of my living room on the internet. Messy, but welcoming!

So here is today’s thought/link/thing – Tim Minchin’s Canvas Bags:

August so far: time, grief, cats and heat

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

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.

new life part 2 | carlalouise.com

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!

Down the rabbit hole: Gifford’s Circus

You know when you read something, and it triggers you to look up something else, and then you find a video about it, and then you’re off, down the internet rabbit hole, finding knowledge you didn’t know you were missing, and discovering endless wonders?

Well, today that happened to me. With the ridiculousness that is GDPR I have been keeping a closer than usual eye on my inbox, and what caught me today was Giffords Circus.

From their new video:

to discovering that Nell who owns it has written a book, actually more than one book, which are obviously now at the top of my wishlist – how could I and my showgirl alter ego Lotta possibly resist resist a book subtitled “The secret life of a circus girl”?!

Then another book, by Clover Stroud, was suggested, and I was so intrigued by the similarities that I searched to see if I could find the connection. It turns out they are sisters, and their other sister is Emma Bridgewater. Yes, that Emma Bridgewater.

From there I found myself reading an unexpected article about loss and running a business, and I have approximately eight more tabs open that I am excited to read! I can also feel my long-held love for the circus coming to the surface… I suspect a new obsession is coming…

Today’s lunchtime sojourn down the rabbit hole was a glorious and thought-inducing one. I wonder what will be next?

More Giffords/Emma links for you:

You can book tickets to see Giffords Circus, if you are lucky enough to be nearby – they run until 30th September and all details can be found at this year’s tour site, My Beautiful Circus.

I'm Carla, a quirky thirtysomething with a penchant for unicorns and glitter. I believe in magic and make-believe, and the gorgeous rebellion of making your life absolutely your own. And I'm a proud multipod!

I am a photographer and catalyst for small business owners, and a real life mermaid. I photograph people as they truly are, help women see and step into their brightest and best selves, add a sprinkling of magic to the mundane, and am a happy ambassador for stationery and slow living.

Proud to be both girly and geeky, when I’m not writing, photographing or daydreaming, you can find me dancing burlesque, riding my bicycle Bluebell, growing herbs and collecting typewriters.

2018-19 Things

Things I want to do in 2018 & 2019. I only got round to updating this in November 2018 so it's covering both years 😉 From my Daydreams To Do list and also from my general goals for the year.

~ Draigcon and/or Wizardry School ~ Steampunk events ~ experiment with film cameras ~ walk more ~ explore Colchester ~ beach time ~ kitty portraits ~ western riding ~ spa days ~ kayaking ~ learn to make bath bombs ~ recreate Lush's Angel's Delight soap fragrance ~ slow reading club ~ craft gatherings ~ work in sterling silver ~ build a catio ~ handwritten letters ~ photobook of the house project ~ print my own photos ~ explore

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