Excitingly and a little unexpectedly, I think it’s now safe to announce I’m nearing the end of the process of buying my house! SQUEEEEE! I’m delighted not to be moving, and I love this house and the life I’ve built around it, so I’m very happy to be staying.
More on what promises to be the biggest and best creative project of my life so far when all the legalities are completed and it’s actually mine 🙂
However, this decision indirectly ended up leading to one of the best holidays I’ve had in ages – my staycation! A word introduced to me by an American friend of mine, it describes the time-off-work-but-not-going-away type of holiday rather nicely, I think.
I’d booked the week off thinking I’d head up to the Lake District for a photography holiday, or possibly across to France for a jewellery making holiday (both high on my wishlist at the moment!). But with the hottest week of the year predicted and house completion looming, instead I stayed at home, saw friends, pottered in my garden and started packing boxes up ready for renovating the downstairs part of the house – and I had a wonderful time!
As any of you who have emailed me recently will know, I’ve barely been near my computer all week – and oh, how wonderful that’s been.
Spending time in my business – making the flurry of custom bracelet orders, packing delights from the shop up for people all over the world, reviewing the first draft of Unfurling Your Wings ready for the beta round in August.
Spending time on my business – sorting out my filofax, arranging a day to go through my accounts with my VA, rejigging my plans and goals and directions, and brainstorming new things with wonderful likeminded solopreneurs. And trying and failing (again) to implement an editorial calendar. I really do prefer writing and posting when the mood takes me 🙂
Spending time in my life (which I am trying to do far more often) – having breakfast in the garden (and eating cake for breakfast), drinking Prosecco in a secret garden in London, a burlesque workshop and a festival, playing with costumes, reading three books in a day before I consent to getting out of bed, cups of tea and putting the world to rights with my Gran… all of the things I love but so rarely seem to have time for in my life lately.
And spending time on my life – reviewing my dreams, directions, goals, and working out how best to move in those directions. Writing, photographing, musing and walking. Playing with my Wild Unknown deck, musing over the meanings of the cards I’ve drawn. And, because I’m the list queen, making checklists so I actually do the things that are important to me each day, week and month.
The biggest and most concrete realisation of this pottering, journalling, meditating and generally giving myself room to breathe has been that I want to keep this day job as part of my portfolio for much longer than I had initially planned. Yes, I was surprised too.
The grand plan was to do two years and then shift gracefully into working for myself full time.
And then I adopted my beloved kittens, bought a house and maybe most significantly, made real friends through work. And now I find I’m reluctant to leave the place where I see those people each day, where the work is varied and interesting and I have lots of autonomy and flexibility, while still being able to switch off when I leave the office.
Though I still hate the concept of the 9-5 and the insistence of organisations that employees be in a specific place at specific times, rather than assigning work and letting us get on with it whenever and wherever is best for us, I think I’d be very sad to leave this particular day job (or at least, the people in it) behind just yet.
Longer term I definitely still want total control over where and when I work – yet I’m reluctant to plan more specifically than a general direction to move in, because who knows where I will be and what I’ll be doing in a year’s time, never mind in five or ten years?!
So the biggest result of my staycation (brain-cation?!) is that now my short and mid-term plans involve growing my businesses in a slightly different way, so they’re entirely flexible, and then when I reach the point where it’s financially possible, I can shift the balance.
Part time instead of full time at the day job, and at least half of my time spent on my own ventures and projects. I can see the balance I want very clearly…
Likeminded people, and a beautiful campus, and a flexible but challenging job. Structure, and an office to go into when I need or want to, and watercooler moments with lovely colleagues.
A thriving business which helps women step into their own power and live the lives they’ve dreamed of. Another thriving business which connects stationery lovers and their longing for a simpler, slower, more organised life (and just happens to supply beautiful stationery as well).
And plenty of time for new projects and classes, for making and experimenting and reading and learning new skills. For spending with my friends and family. For entertaining in the house and garden of my dreams, and for relaxing there in my own personal sanctuary. For movement to be built into my life and for stillness and quiet to be as present as noise and being busy.
Not at all what I expected or planned when I quit London for a portfolio career – but intriguingly, it feels exactly right for where I am and what I want right now.
With love and unicorns,
What do you get if you cross 38 balls of wool, 14 women, 12 weeks and 1 serious piece of research in a TED talk?
An art piece made of pompoms, featuring Campus Cat.
Over a year ago, I met the lovely Sarah by chance when she bought something from a classified ad I’d placed and we got talking about her crochet flower brooch. We decided, as you do, that what we really should do instead of going for coffee was start a craft club at the day job. And Crafty Coffee was born.
When the university we work at then launched an art competition to celebrate 50 years and our campus spirit, we had a mad idea that became reality – and I went to see it in the gallery last week. It was rather a lovely experience, actually – it’s been a while since I’ve seen my work in a public place, and I believe this is the first time something I’ve collaborated on has been exhibited in an art gallery.
So without further ado, let me present… Pomophily. (Because the design was based on Professor Maria Fasli’s TEDx talk on Homophily. But we made ours from pom poms.)
(not as sad as it used to be, as the Hex is now in use as a gallery. But a quirky and often unnoticed part of the uni, anyway)
Yep, my first! Though I made and sold jewellery for a few years, I’d never actually taken a formal class – or even an informal class. I was totally self-taught from the internet, books and occasionally squeaking at lovely fellow makers who would show me how to get past anything I was having a wobble with.
So I was delighted when my friend Emma suggested we go to a beginners’ jewellery class at Deborah Beads in Fingringhoe, just up the road from me.
After coaxing the kittens in from outside a little earlier than normal, we set off up the winding countryside roads to where Debbie’s shop is. It was dark by the time we got there so I didn’t get any pics of the outside, but oh, indoors was like being let loose in a sweet shop!
LOOK AT ALL THE SHINY BEADS…
There were just four of us plus our teacher Diane, which made for a really friendly, relaxed evening where we could all ask questions and get individual help when we needed it.
I found that I knew some of the techniques but not others, and it was actually lovely to sit and create and know I didn’t have to get it listed in my Etsy shop the following day, as so often when I’ve been making jewellery before. (Not that I hated it – just it was good to be away from the pressure).
And much to our surprise, we came away with five different pieces of jewellery… two necklaces, two bracelets and a pair of earrings.
I was so inspired that I proceeded to get my own long-neglected beading supplies (I’ve always been more of a stamper) out of the drawer they live in and sort them out while on Skype to Anna on Monday (that doesn’t count as multi-tasking – our Skypes are always so epic that both of us do useful stuff while we’re chatting), and then found myself inspired to create two more bracelets and a rather experimental necklace. Which I actually think turned out to be the best of the bunch!
Certainly some of my favourite pieces I’ve ever made for myself.
We’re looking forward to going back for the next level workshop – cluster jewellery. And I’m delighted I’ve rediscovered my jewellery mojo – and this time, I’m not feeling any urge to turn it into a business!
Bit of a mish mash, wordy, linky post, as I’m having one of the busiest weeks ever and am running around like an entire flock of headless chickens. And then some. So here goes, stuff that has made me happy this week…
– Discovering all over again that I actually have the best friends a girl could ever possibly wish for. I am very, very lucky.
– Fluffy white bread for the first time in ages and Ben’s cookies from a colleague at work
– Emily coming round and cooking for me – this was the most luxurious thing ever, quite aside from the loveliness of seeing her
– Exciting snippets of other people’s news – new chapters all over the shop
– That feeling you get when opening a brand new document in InDesign and knowing you can create almost anything you want
– Planning outfits, shoes and accessories for the boudoir shoot next weekend
– Discovering a Bauhaus exhibition, which we hope to go to tomorrow, to assist the lovely Lou with her research for an application she’s doing
– Business course with Startup Saturday tomorrow, WordPress course on Wednesday for work and plans for my future
– Making lists and feeling a bit more in control of my workload, finances and life
– Plans for blogger meetups with Annastasia, a PPU store (more of that later) and expansion of Ducking Fabulous (more of that later too), among other things
– Unexpected commissions – and selling a necklace to my director, which was a very weird but very nice feeling! Unfortunately I neglected to photograph it, but will recreate it for the shop soon 🙂
– Val telling me that she saw an advert for a burlesque show and immediately thought of me, “just like when I see horses and ducks”. It’s becoming a part of me in a way I never expected, but I love it!
– Reading proper chick lit again – I’ve read nothing but non fiction for a couple of months and it was very good to lose myself in a couple of Fiona Gibson’s novels (go and read them if you haven’t already, they’re funny, poignant and I identify with the characters so much – even the ones I’m not yet!)
– Planning the 100 day challenge, or a version of it, to get a bit of stability back into my finances (thanks to Sophia at Tattooed Tealady for the inspiration)
– Boutique Baking and Jamie’s Great Britain– I am so looking forward to choosing things to make and bake from these books
– Deciding, after last Sunday’s #bbloggers chat, that my blog is a place for me to indulge my many passions and hobbies and loves – it might get more readers if it was more focused, but I prefer it to be a true reflection of my character and personality – chaotic but lovely!
Tomorrow I’m with Lou in London, planning for the future, and Sunday hopefully collecting my new bike (squeee) so more posts to come!