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I’ve not posted since April, because April was approximately 10273 million years long, and the months since then have just flown past.

Not necessarily in a good way. The coronavirus pandemic is still in full swing, and though it got a bit better over the summer and we were allowed out again, tentatively, it’s all now looking fairly shit and there’s a lot of talk about another lockdown soon.

I’m ok, I think. Fragile, but ok. Business dipped dramatically during the height of the first wave (FFS, the bloody pandemic even has its own language now), and my total takings in June were £43. That’s not a typo, and I’d say that was one of my lower points this year.

The emotional toll has been high, at one point I’d not seen any of my friends for three months, and Mum and I had been able to support each other but not see or hug anyone else, which was incredibly hard. I’d not realised quite how much I missed human interaction, seeing people in the same room rather than on Zoom, and the odd hug.

Every time I saw friends in August, after this three month hiatus, I cried. Which is kind of ridiculous and kind of completely understandable.

Turns out I’m a good hermit, but only when I can choose when to hermit and when to be social. Which I guess has been an interesting learning point. I’m still very happy with my life choices, I’m still pissed off with the pandemic and this country’s response to it. Though if I’m being kind, I’ll say that however inept the politicians, they haven’t dealt with one before either. But man, the communications coming from the people running the country are painfully bad.

Business has now picked up again, and I’m in theory about to have my best ever month – if the fuckwits in charge don’t ruin it all by announcing draconian measures which fuck over the smallest businesses while benefiting the big ones. We shall see. Regardless of the outcome, I am extremely proud of myself for rebuilding, and extremely exhausted, so am planning to have a week or two off at the end of this month and start of next.

I’ve christened it a Slowcation instead of a Staycation, because although I am indeed staying at home, and while I do plan to do some house stuff while I’m officially not working, I also plan to approach everything slowly and have a proper chill out time.

The kittens are amazing and are keeping me entertained – they do do some stupid stuff but they also give the best cuddles.

Today has reminded me how fragile my (and probably everyone else’s) mental health is, though – I’m ok on the surface, getting on with stuff and prepping happily for tomorrow’s headshot day – and then out of nowhere this evening a MASSIVE spider fell from the ceiling onto my desk, and vanished while I was trying to find the Raid to get rid of it. Argh!

So I am typing this from my bed, because I can’t go back in there until I’ve seen it dead, and the bloody thing could be ANYWHERE. And I am tired, and overdone, and don’t want to deal with it tonight. Thank god I also have an indoor laptop, ancient and creaky though it might be!

And I suspect I’m not alone in small incidents tipping me over the edge into tears and anxiety, actually – this whole year has been a lot. Too much, in many ways. The small things I’d previously have dealt with without fuss are reminding me what a knife edge we’re all walking in terms of staying sane at the moment.

There have been some amazing highs (Mum’s birthday, sea kayaking, meeting the puppy, meeting friends in a ruined church, golden hour walks, hot tub catch ups, de-alcoholised wine, a beach hut day, connection with old friends and new friends, rainbow hair and some other good stuff) to balance all this out. But ergh, on the whole I am totally over 2020.

I did hit peak Carla while testing lights the other day at Studio 19 – I’m not sure there’s any more I can do to be magically, weirdly and authentically me. And this was an accident!!

Trying to think of any vital stats which will be relevant when I look back on this in 10 years’ time, or even for the end of year review I usually write (wow, this year’s going to be weird isn’t it?!), but apart from 254 Zooms and counting since lockdown, I can’t!

It’s not all doom and gloom and I know I’m very much one of the lucky ones – not least because I am self employed and so mistress of my own destiny, which feels infinitely less scary than quite a lot of my previous jobs where I’m pretty sure I’d have been out on my ear once furlough was over.

Things I have treated myself to with money saved on petrol (I know, but I needed something to look forward to and lift my spirits in the depths of it!): sparkly leather DMs, my two favourite HolyClothing dresses in my favourite blue, a brass fountain pen with an extra broad nib and a Victorian writing desk. Plus on a more practical level, rainbow filing trays for my desk and a bunch of drawers & cupboard doors for my office Kallax system. I will be more organised if it kills me! And getting my shed painted, which was less of a treat and more of a necessity, but painted in turquoise and pink it now looks more like a beach hut and makes me smile every time I see it out of the window.

Other good things include making firm plans for a boat (a kayak, not a full on boat) for next spring – I have a bunch of people I love who are into watersports and will actually come out with me, and I can stash it over winter in the studio or in Mum’s garage, so that’s ok. And being able to put a boat on Serafina’s roof rack and go out on the water whenever I fancy again makes up ever so slightly for the loss of Poppy. Though you know I absolutely would have put a roof rack on Poppy if I could have done…

Projects for my Slowcation – I’m trying not to jampack every day, but I would like to do a tip run, so my poor shed can breathe – it’s currently full of all the stuff I cleared out during the first lockdown!

Art to go up on my walls – I’d like to get some of my own work printed, I definitely owe some clients some prints, and need some more for outside Studio 19 – plus I want to get my rogues’ gallery on my stairs sorted. I’ve got a bunch of smallish frames which all tone together, so need to choose my photos and add them to my print order.

The kayak of dreams is also part of my Slowcation plans – looking at what I want to buy, choosing stuff like buoyancy aids and getting my roof rack sorted out are all things I can do before I get the actual boat. Not to mention working on my upper body strength because currently I don’t know if I can lift 19kg onto the top of my car unaided! (can you get stairlifts for boats?!)

I also plan to sleep, and rest, and read – I am having the actual time of my life in many ways, immersed in my beloved businesses 24/7, but juggling them all, sorting out two new websites on top of the client work and marketing, is exhausting and I need a break. I was often baffled at why my fully self employed friends never seemed to take holiday – now I know!!

And of course among all this it’s been AMAZING to get back to shooting – I have the best clients in the world!

This is a massive stream of consciousness so well done if you’ve got this far – I don’t think many people read this blog now and I mainly keep it for my own records – it’s easier to read through than my 3 handwritten pages daily!

I do have a 365 project on the go, which I’m still a bit behind on the Instagram, but which I am updating daily on my phone and eventually one will catch up with the other 🙂 It’s not turned out as the showcase of my photography skills I was expecting, but it’s become a great snapshot of a very strange and historic year.

On the whole, I’ve decided I don’t like living through history!

Ok, that’ll probably do for now – I’m off to eat the remains of my TEMPRD samples and make some lists / waste hours on Pinterest!

Life in the time of Coronavirus