It’s been an utterly frenetic couple of weeks, and this happened…
Just like magic! It’s endeared me to about five of my new-not-new neighbours, all of whom were finding the trees at least as oppressive as I was, and who can now actually sit out in their garden and enjoy the sun.
So of course it has poured with rain ever since…!
I’ve also seen inside my garage for the first time (it wasn’t part of the let)…
Somewhere for me to indulge my petrolheadedness… squee!
Also got measured for my bridesmaid’s dress and had a lovely weekend away in Brighton for Louise’s hen party – with some incredible rockabilly hair later in the evening, lots of yummy food, and a very vintage theme from the lindy hop class to the 30s bar in the evening. Was also surprisingly lovely to catch up with old school friends who I mostly haven’t seen in years – some bonds don’t ever break, just stretch – just like magic!
I’ve decided hen parties are actually a nice way to get to know people before the wedding – though I proved again that I am a super-lightweight when it comes to drinking. And now it’s the countdown to the wedding… squeak!
Over the weekend, kitties dealt incredibly well with the stress of the tree removal… after one morning spent quivering under the bed (Clover) and watching impatiently from the window closest to the machinery (Luna), the following day I left them with lots of cuddles, yummy food and treats, under Mum & Dad’s supervision, and got this by text about mid-morning:
Furry con artists. (Love them really!) As I type this Luna is happily shredding the paper I bought to wrap breakables in, and shouting for me to wave her favourite toy (a paperclip on a string – no, really) around for her to chase.
I’m still in the middle of the Great Declutter, and am getting rid of an insane amount of stuff, though I still appear to have an insane amount left. But that’s ok.
I have packed up a whole box of blank notebooks so will be looking for some kind of notebook based projects when the building works are over. Ideas on a postcard welcome!
If you’re interested in watching the story of the house unfold, there’s an album over on Flickr, and I’ll probably be Instagramming some of it on @duckingfabulous as well as blogging updates (though it seems that just getting it done takes all my time & energy – I am perpetually surprised by it being bedtime each evening at the moment!)
And nudged by Mimi, I’ve updated my Daydreams to Do list, and will probably be adding to it over the next few weeks and months, as I keep finding lists I’ve made in previous years, which are spooky for their accuracy about my life now. More on that in a separate post, I think!
Finally and easily on a par with the house for excitingness, I am approaching the halfway mark in the first, beta test of the Unfurling Your Wings course. Accompanied by twenty fabulous ladies, we’re in a whirlwind adventure of finding who we really are and how we want to show up in the world. Terrifying as it’s a very personal project, but also glorious. (and probably terribly timed, given the house, but it is making me do everything on schedule, which is brilliant). It’s wonderful watching the magic unfold.
That’s probably enough for one evening – back to a proper blogging schedule soon, I hope!
With love and unicorns,
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,
Though it seems completely impossible, my two silly felines are two years old. Already. Still the very best decision I’ve ever made, they continue to make me snort with laughter on a daily basis and give the absolute best cuddles.
However, they were entirely nonplussed by both the occasion and my insistence on taking birthday portraits…
Week 10 of 2015. In which I embarked on an epic road trip through my soul home of Texas (hopping over into Louisiana the following week), and fulfilled one of my longest-held dreams – to see Alan Jackson live in concert. I haven’t finished editing the 3000 photos I took over the fortnight, so here are a few tasters:
(fuzzy because we were only allowed mobiles, not proper cameras)
The gig was the main reason for our visit, and oh, how utterly glorious it was. I cried most of the way through it with sheer emotion at being there after more than 20 years of waiting to see him on stage. AND he played all my favourites from the early days.
I also found time to…
Have the traditional breakfast-with-beer at the airport:
Drive my fellow passengers mad by taking photos of the pretty clouds on the plane:
Wake up on Wednesday morning to four inches of snow. In Texas.
Fall in love with Jon Pardi, who was supporting Alan Jackson (and he’s currently single. Reckon he’d fall for that accent all American men seem to inexplicably find super cute?! Though is it just me whose speech becomes half pure Southern belle and half female Hugh Grant the moment I set foot over the border into the States?)
Eat ridiculous amounts of the best fried chicken, mash and creamed corn in the world at Babe’s in Roanoake, TX:
Try a DQ Blizzard on our drive to Fredericksburg:
Make a pilgrimage to my Dad’s spiritual home in Luckenbach, Texas and added a charm to my talisman necklace while
playing at practising for being a cowgirl:
Have a makeover before the gig, which was lovely and pampering:
to be continued…
I took my Mum to London a couple of times late last year for hospital appointments. We decided both times to make a day of it as the appointments were over by 11.30am. She suggested a walk by Tower Bridge. It’s not somewhere I go often, and I was struck by the architecture both old and new.
A glimpse of the poppies at the Tower – only a glimpse as the crowds were beyond belief.
Once, long ago (well, in 2008) I did a 365 photography project. I loved the challenge of taking photos every day, but my life is now far too full to be able to commit to that. And I have quite enough half-finished projects and barely-started ideas to knowingly add to the pile!
So instead I’m starting a 52 project for 2015. One photo a week, all year.
I’m sharing the best contenders each week over on my Unfurling Flickr page and will post the one I choose each Monday over here.
For the very first week of January I struggled, because it was full of amazing at home and with friends. And lovely Anna’s 40th birthday! So in the end I went for an arty one and one of the birthday girl, because it was far too hard to choose from the ones of my friends all together.
The last weekend in November is Hogswatch.
(for the uninitiated: Hogswatch is Discworld’s equivalent to Christmas. Discworld is Terry Pratchett’s alternate universe. Wincanton (a real town in England) is twinned with Ankh-Morporkh (a fictional city in a fantasy universe) and every November, a bunch of, in Terry’s words, bloody loonies descend upon Wincanton to celebrate Hogswatch. Clear as mud?!)
Though some of my friends go regularly, I’d not made it last year as it was my parents’ 40th anniversary. This year I was nervous but exc;ited – and hadn’t put a whole lot of planning into my costumes. I knew I was performing twice, and one of those involved chip packets.
So after a 3.30am alarm, staggering out of the house (watched by some very confused cats) at 4.20am and a 3 and a half hour drive, I arrived in Wincanton. Threw myself at my Travelodge room and slept and slept and slept.
At 10am, I found myself at the Memorial hall with Annastasia, surrounded by fellow loonies in outfits and costumes varying from mild to extreme, and I couldn’t stop grinning.
We taught a burlesque workshop to seven brave ladies and one extremely brave gent. Our chosen music, to match the theme of Going Postal, was… no, not Return to Sender, or any of the usual suspects. We went for Postman Pat.
Then I could wander to my heart’s content (and also packed in meeting Anna’s parents, the Boggises (who have long been heavily involved with Discworld and Hogswatch), long chats with new friends and some shopping, as well as a sneaky nap after lunch.
Come 5pm, I was in the green room, taking fuzzy but excited pictures of myself:
And then we got up on stage and danced. And oh, I had forgotten how much I enjoy performing. 2014 has been so busy and so manic (pfft, so much for my word of the year of “balance”) that I haven’t had much of a chance to dance at all, and it is still an unmatchable feeling to come off stage to appreciative applause (and sniggers, in this case).
Also got to sing the Twelve Days of Hogswatch (harder than you’d imagine, when you’re standing at the front holding up the words but you can’t actually read them yourself… it goes something like “On the FIRST day of Hogswatch, my true love sent to me, a mumble mumble blah blah blah. On the SECOND day of Christ-Hogswatch, my true love sent to me, TWO something mumble…” And that’s entirely sober!
Then the traditional sausage supper at the Bear, and on to the Pink Pussycat Club. Where we danced another number… dedicated to Rincewind the wizard, it involved a red pointy hat with stars on, three kimonos, doing some suggestive things with a potato masher and having a fight over some crisps. And the final reveal was…
(photo credit: Paul Heyes via FB)
(if you don’t get it, don’t worry… it’s a long story. If you want to get it, read Interesting Times.)
Here’s another pic of us during Postman Pat…
(photo credit: Tatyana Arbuzova via FB)
As cheesy as I know it sounds, the whole weekend felt like coming home. I didn’t feel like a newcomer (apart from when Nanny Ogg/Renta made me have a Hogswatch Virgin badge…), and as I’ve often found with my more niche hobbies (most notably model horsing – this felt a lot like that), there’s an instant sense of kinship. I even found some more stationery fiends (and friends) during our letter writing salon (an Ink Drops venture) on Sunday.
We were all letting our real selves out to play – our alter egos, but the ones we wish we could take back to everyday life with us. As so often recently, Lotta and I were perfectly in tune. It’s a wonderful feeling.
Having made so many new friends and felt so at home so quickly, coming back to the round world (not the Disc), and the prospect of the day job and doing housework were less than appealing.
I put this off by popping in on the way home to see my ex-headmaster and his family – which I know sounds weird, but my primary school was muchly special. Totally failed to get any photos of us all, but he did keep the sign when the school was demolished to make way for flats…
And it was so lovely to catch up after more than a decade.
So I drove home to my silly kittens through the night, arrived at 10pm, fell into bed to dream of the Disc, and woke up still half there today. I spent this morning waving photos at anyone who would look, and am now settling down to the important work of planning next year’s costumes and skits.
Big thanks to Annastasia for giving me the chance to attend – it’s now an immovable fixture in my calendar.
Happy Hogswatch… I hope you’ve been naughty AND nice!
PS for any non-Pratchett fans, normal service will resume shortly. If you’ve read him and don’t like it, fine. If you’ve never read him then for goodness’ sake go and borrow a book from your library and try one. You’ll never know if you don’t try…!
PPS You don’t actually have to be a fan to come to Hogswatch. I would love, love, love to see some of you there next year! Or at any of the various cons I hope to now attend in 2015 🙂
PPPS If you fancy creating your own alter ego, hop over and have a look at Unfurling Your Wings. It’ll launch a little later than planned due to some mad new VAT laws, but on the plus side, it’s now going to be a much more immersive experience, with goodies coming to you in the REAL ACTUAL POST.
An impromptu sunset walk with a lovely friend. I forgot my proper camera but got a couple of quick shots on my phone. And will be keeping my eye out for houses in that bit of Wiv!
A jaunt to Greenwich with my parents for Dad’s birthday, led us to stumbling across two amazing shops side by side. Retrobates Vintage and Casbah Records share frontage, and all three of us were drawn to the windows.
On venturing in, Dad turned left to the records, and was soon engrossed in conversation with the owner about 60s music and his own collection. Mum wandered through the arch and found kindred spirits in the girl with 60s hair, selling a green minidress she wore when she very first knew Dad.
While they chatted, I mooched with my camera…
Note the wallpaper, and the leopard print faux fur ceiling. I didn’t think they made shops like this any more – I’ve not been into even a vintage shop with so much personality for a long time – and with both records and clothing reasonably priced (especially for London), I shall be back… probably with Louise Contrariety Rose in tow!
I’m sharing my current photos for this challenge on Instagram, but inspired by Rhianne at For The Easily Distracted, I thought it might be a nice opportunity to share some of the photos I’m unearthing as I go through old memory sticks.
Today’s is from 2009, and a trip back to Lufbra to do some work experience on campus, in the library. I’d just upgraded from a Panasonic bridge to a Canon DSLR and I was having a whale of a time trying to work out all the settings…
Back online after a 48 hour technology detox, and what a way to write my first post!
Hah, I’ve always wanted to blog from the poolside, but Dad left Abu Dhabi the year before I started my first blog, and until now I’ve usually had clunky laptops with zero battery life so it’s not really been possible.
The pool is rippled because April-May is shamaal (desert wind) season over here. Which is actually rather nice, because it means we can lie in the sun for far longer than normal as the breeze makes it not just bearable, but pleasant to sit in 35-40 degree heat in between dips in the pool.
I’ll write more about the trip when I’m home and have been through the insane number of photos I’ve taken, but it is amazing to be back in the Gulf. And especially as an adult, when I can appreciate the scale of the building work, the luxury of the hotels and the complete insanity of the driving. Taxis all the way – I have no desire to take my life in my hands by trying to drive here.
Though I have been working a bit while I’ve been out here, I disappeared off-grid for 48 hours, abandoning all my own technology except my camera and Kindle, and it was gorgeous. I hopped back onto Gmail only long enough to send the cattery where Luna and Clover are alternative contact details. And while I missed being able to post photos, I loved the freedom so much I’m leaving my phone behind every day and just checking it at night.
On logging back into this, to pick up all my emails, I was conscious of anxiety creeping in and having to DO ALL THE THINGS. Whereas actually there was very little that needed actioning, and nothing at all super-urgent. One to ponder on – I reckon I need to do less and chill more.
Currently Dad is sprawled in the sunshine, Mum’s reading in the spa and I am about to finish this post, finish this cocktail and jump in the pool to cool down. And dye all the towels blue in the process, gigglesnort. My hair has reacted amazingly well to the sun though 🙂