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[thinking] freedom, adventure and location independence

Freedom. It’s a very loaded word, particularly for me as a twentysomething single female. With total freedom, in theory I can do anything, go anywhere, be anyone I want – something that is less accessible to those with responsibilities like houses, children, mortgages.

And yet my definition of freedom in business isn’t necessarily what people expect. Sure, I love to travel (particularly if horses are involved)– but what I want is freedom in terms of time and schedule, and where I am isn’t overly relevant.

horse galloping on beachphoto credit: Gastev via photopin cc

To me, it looks like this:

… dictating my own hours and planning my own day. So if I want to work till 4am then sleep in till 11 the next day, I can, without having to phone someone to explain or call in sick

… a steady passive income, so I can develop the next projects and stages of my work without stressing about money

… time and space to pursue my non-business interests, both those that already exist and those that I fancy trying on a whim

… complete autonomy on decision making for my business, with other entrepreneurial friends around if I need to consult them, but without having to defer to someone else for a final decision (this is one of the things that makes me happiest about Ink Drops – Annastasia and I are so much on the same wavelength that we often don’t need to consult each other about decisions, we just make them)

How I see location independence is also different from the standard view, I think. For me it’s all about freedom (there’s that word again!) of choice.

…not being tied to a desk, a physical meeting schedule or someone else’s timetable, but free to choose when and where I work from. After all, there’s no place like home!

…more often than not, I believe my perfect choice of workspace would be my studio at home, filled with all the things that make me happy, or a couple of local haunts with wifi where I love to work when I have the time.

… to be able to travel around the UK and also the world in short bursts, without having to leave my business behind or hand it over to someone else while I’m away

In short, to work from anywhere I choose even if that choice is my own living room… that’s what location independence means to me.

Part of the Suitcase Entrepreneur’s 30 Day Blog Challenge.

[projects and challenges] Club 20

Just a quick one today, to introduce you to Change Your Life in 20 Weeks – a project started by the fabulous Mimi, and taken up by a group of nine of us.

from where I sit

You can read more about the project over at the Club 20 blog, but a quick overview is that, in each round of 20 weeks, you pick three goals to achieve in those weeks.

I’m trying to form good habits, so I chose meditating daily, cooking a recipe from scratch at least once a week, and physical movement at least three times a week (which for me is walking, cycling, dancing and skating. I’ll never be a gym bunny. But it gives me a chance to use Bluebell more!)

And I’d really like to run a workshop before the end of the first round, in September.

If you’d like to join us you’re more than welcome – blog your challenges and progress and send us a link, and when the next round starts, we’ll add you to the group blog 🙂

(Oh – we’re all over there under our burlesque names. I’m Lotta.)

Putting the duck into Ducking Fabulous

A very few of you will remember that back in 2006, when I was first blogging, I had a pair of tiny rubber ducks (one green, one yellow) given to me for my birthday. Being students, we took them out drinking with us, and came back with a whole stash of photos of them on the bar, in drinks, stuck to people’s faces and occasionally in someone’s cleavage.

ducks with old mobile

Frankie and Freddie having a chat on my (then cutting-edge) mobile, sometime in 2006

We named them Frankie and Freddie, and they accompanied me all over the place for most of my first and second year at university. They had their own blog, their own MySpace page and they spawned the collection I currently have – I now receive at least one or two ducks every single birthday and Christmas 🙂 A chance encounter with a very fuzzy picture of a duck on a bottle in the students’ union confirms that the green one is Freddie, so the yellow one is Frankie.

duck on beer bottle

I don’t know if the fuzziness is bad light, old camera or drunkenness. Taken in Loughborough Students’ Union, so probably the latter.

Friends took photos of ducks they owned in odd places and sent them to me, and my parents even bought a duck (“Texan Cousin Duck”) on a road trip and proceeded to take photos of him everywhere – even on a police car!

I still have Frankie and Freddie, though their online homes are long gone, and while I did manage to take a few photos on my own USA road trip last year (in Tennessee and at the EYC)I’ve slacked off terribly on the travelling ducks front .

A recent conversation with a group of friends made me decide to resurrect the ducks on tour section of Ducking Fabulous – after all, what is a blog with a name like this doing without a duck or ten as mascots?!

So  you’ll see I’ve added a “Ducks on Tour” tab to the navigation – which will be a nice convenient way to pull together all duck-related posts. Which will all appear in my usual blogging too 🙂

Feel free to send me your own – I’d love to see fellow adventurous ducks and what they get up to!

Just like a champagne cork…

Title borrowed from something Mimi said to me earlier today. It summed up perfectly how I feel right now – tense, bubbly, ready to explode with all the exciting things that are happening but also slightly reluctant, nervous, apprehensive. And yet much more so, positive, forward looking, decisive and determined. It’s wonderful but slightly unnerving, feeling all these things at once.

I’m on my way to a meeting to talk about one of the many exciting ventures that are currently building and falling into place in my life. I do feel, despite some ups and some serious downs, that I am shortly to be exactly where I am meant to be, where I have been leading to both deliberately and unconsciously, for all of my adult life.

The Olympics are over and the Paralympics don’t start for another two weeks – London is in limbo, but we truly have inspired more than a generation.

For me, watching the games, experiencing the atmosphere and observing the grace, belonging and dedication of those athletes, doing something they truly love – it made me realise that I need to stop waiting for my dreams to magically happen, and go and get then instead. This means creating something rather than looking for a compromised version, making it happen instead of hoping it will fall into my lap if I wait long enough. In short, stop watching, start doing – my dreams will only happen if I make them.

I also tried to take up running, something which I’m almost certain will be quite short lived. I prefer wheels to feet. But can’t hurt to try something new, right?

So I am considering, planning, weighing up options. The response I’ve had from the few, varied, people I have whispered my tentative plans to has been overwhelmingly positive – I wasn’t looking for validation but support, and I have cried more than once at how lucky I am to have these kinds of friends and family. Unwavering, loyal, but also honest – and help me see things I may have overlooked about myself.

I have a definite timescale, defined by things outside my control. But that’s no bad thing. It adds to my focus, makes me even more determined.

This is a hazy vision of my future, I know, but watch this space – my custom-made life is about to develop like a photograph in a darkroom…

100 Days Challenge – 6 weeks update

Haha… 100 days of no spending… with the few weeks I’ve just had my resolve has been sorely tested. My bank balance is still looking a bit sad, but certainly better than it would have been if I’d been spending with complete abandon. Good.

Wedding week was a write off – I knew that when I started the challenge. Loads of expected and unexpected expenses, so just tried to be sensible. Charges still cropping up and my credit card bill is horrific.  And I may have indulged in a magazine or three for the flight home. Oops.

Otherwise I’ve been very good – had one slip up for a grey maxi dress which I can wear to work, and have totally failed to keep my three-dinners-out-a-month rule – it seems more like three a week at the moment! But you only live once.

I’ve been exercising on skates and on the bike, both of which are free – and really looking forward to burlesque class tonight, I missed a week for wedding, skipped a week due to tiredness and there was a week with no class so it’s been AGES since I danced!

Camping weekend yielded much loveliness, most of it free/swapped – which is brilliant. By the end of this year Poppy will be sporting a badge-free exterior, a spoiler, red engine bits and maybe a twin exit exhaust. Excellent.

I have sold some makeup on ebay and will be adding more makeup, clothes and other things as I clear out, and the DF shop is slowly building sales too. Mainly in stationery, oddly!

I have also taken part in two craft swaps and the things I received were amazing – will definitely be doing more of these, it’s so lovely to receive presents and is challenging me creatively too 🙂 (my polka dot swap is yet to be sent to its recipient – that’s this weekend’s job!)

Not much on my wishlist – have been too busy to notice much besides the things I want for Poppy!

So overall for these first six weeks I’d give myself a 6 out of 10 for achievement and an 8 out of 10 for effort. Definite room for improvement – and I’m planning a nice gentle August!

100 Day challenge – days 1 – 4

So I started the challenge as a way to try and get some stability back into my finances – and see where my money was escaping most often.

The first few days haven’t been as hard as I thought they might – I’ve bought food within reason, had dinner out with Lou  and Julia (2 of 3 allowed for June, oops) and resisted buying all manner of bits and pieces I’d usually have bought without thinking.

Among these were Computer Arts Branding bookazine (£15.00), various fabrics at the Range (£8.50/metre so at least £17 saving), Fiji water because it was in a pretty bottle and umpteen small and ultimately useless things from exhibitions I’ve been to.

Have also resisted buying the $100 Startup book, although this I may give in to before the end of the 100 days.

I have acquired a bike and all the trappings, which I will collect next Sunday, and Mum bought me breakfast out at the weekend – which doesn’t count! The bike is going to help me stay healthy and get to the station faster (therefore possibly to work on time? A girl can dream…)

And instead of buying, I will be borrowing the infamous Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy from Em at the weekend. I am highly reluctant to read these, as I hate jumping on literary bandwagons, I’m conscious it started as a Twilight fanfic (and I’ve never been able to get into Twilight) and I keep being told there’s no plot, just sex scenes… but I’m also curious to know what all the hype is about. The most unlikely people tell me they sit up all night reading it – so I’ll have a nose and see. Might even review them if they’re worth it!

The 100 Day Challenge – Intro

I decided, a week or so ago, to start the 100 day challenge, in an attempt to level out and stabilise my finances, which are getting dire. (This is mostly due to my extortionate train fare to work, living on my own and having a sports car. In that order. The last is entirely non-negotiable!)

I came across it via a Twitter post from Sophia at the Tattooed Tealady blog, and having decided it wouldn’t be a bad thing for me to have a go at, settled down to write my list of things I can spend on, absolute “no” items, and exceptions during the period of the challenge.

Here they are:

Spending allowed              (“yes” items)   Spending not allowed               (“bad squishy” items)
Food essentials (grocery shopping, work lunches, etc) Books
Essential toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste) Cards & giftwrap
Reasonable sweet treats Magazines
Postage (personal or business) Stationery
Non-alcoholic drinks out DVDs
Birthday & anniversary presents Alcoholic drinks out
Bills Dinner out more than 3 times a month
Existing debts to people Makeup
Essential underwear Technology
Petrol & travel Clothes
Listing fees (Etsy, Ebay, etc) Jewellery
Craft fair entry fees Non-essential toiletries (perfume, random products)
Reasonable amounts of Pepsi Max Craft supplies
Medicine/tablets Mods for Poppy
Burlesque classes
Baking ingredients
Experiences (like the photoshoot, Alice bike ride, etc)

I know, the “yes” list is longer than the “no” list – but the “no” list is full of the things that chew my money without me really noticing.

Exceptions include eating out while in Jersey for Julia’s wedding, makeup & other things I need for the wedding, and investment in stock if my ventures come to fruition during these 100 days.

I started the challenge on 16 June and will finish on 23rd September. Taking inspiration from other bloggers I’ve seen doing this, I shall take photos of things I want to buy, and perhaps create a wishlist page here to showcase them – and we’ll see how many I feel I can’t live without at the end of the challenge.

I wouldn’t say I spend money madly, but I do have a tendency to fall in love with things and feel my life would be incomplete without them – so wish me luck, I think I’m going to need it!

A cure for a bad mood – Out of the Blue?

(warning – wordy post)

I have been, for a while, in a toweringly bad mood that seems to be lingering, and I think the way to get rid of it might be to take part in the Curiosity Project’s new venture, Out Of The Blue.

This involves leaving a random gift for a stranger, photographing it and then hoping they will find it and come and tell us about it. Of course, if they don’t, you’ve hopefully still have made someone’s day with an unexpected treat.

I don’t know if it will cure my malaise (which I suspect has been brought on by the diet and the unrelenting crappy weather) but we’ll give it a go.

I considered leaving a present in my office, but there are so few women here, and I am so unlike the majority (all?) of them, that I think it would be too obvious.

On the train is a terrible idea, because I do not want to be arrested, nor for it to be thrown away because commuters are too frightened or otherwise occupied to pick it up.

So that leaves the following: somewhere along my walk to the train station (preferably on a dry day, of which there are frighteningly few at the moment); on the stairs in my building (but there are only six flats so it’s not so random); on a car in the car park (but I’d be furious if someone touched my car without my knowledge/permission); one of the approximately forty-nine coffee shops within ten minutes’ walk of my work (I’m not even exaggerating that much) or somewhere totally random on the weekend.

I’m leaning towards totally random – this weekend I’m away at a friend’s birthday, next weekend I am at home. Perfect.

Now for what to leave….

Both inside and outside Ducking Fabulous, I make things. I’ll probably add chocolate to whatever I leave, but for the main part I’m thinking something small and pretty, and perhaps themed… I’m a little obsessed with my new domino necklace range, so maybe a pocketwatch print in a clocktower? A leaf print in a woodland? A unicorn print in a stableyard? An abstract print in a coffee shop?

Hmm. I’ll keep you posted!

An unplanned but fabulous weekend

Unexpected weekends are always the best ones, aren’t they? This one was meant to  involve lunch in London and then home to tidy up and do useful things.

I’m not going to share a photo of why i should be tidying up :p

Anyway. I came down to Reading to meet Wendy, then went to Lou’s for dinner (VIA Waterstones which was almost very dangerous) with her, Paul, Kelly and Mike, then spent this morning in town with Sar and Dan, and then back to Lou’s for much, creativity and planning. Perfect.

Now on a train home, and hoping to get back and rustle up a roast while I do some washing, then maybe do a little bit of crafting this eve before bed! Currently struggling to keep my eyes open so we’ll see how that goes!

Hope you all have a gorgeous Sunday evening!

Having a definite Narnia moment

I love everything Narnia and think I always have done, but having caught the end of Prince Caspian on TV this evening, I am seized by a sudden desire to make Susan’s farewell dress (so called because it’s the last time she appears in Narnia, and it’s the dress she says her goodbyes and goes back to England in).


I’ve spent some of this evening scouring the internet for inspiration, cosplay, photos, descriptions and patterns, and have started a Pinterest board of some of the things I’ve found. Kim told me today the sewing machine she’s giving me should be in the office by next weekend, so fingers crossed this can be a 2012 project! Then I can have a Narnia themed party for my birthday… maybe my 27th… 🙂

I’ve also learned what cosplay is – you really do learn something new every day!

Hello 2012 – we’re going to get on famously

This will have to be quick, because I should have been in bed half an hour ago… oh, how I have really not missed the 5.30am starts at all over the break!!

I’m starting 2012 in an incredibly happy, uplifted and motivated frame of mind. I am surrounded by people I love who love me, I have my little haven of a flat and my much adored Poppy-car, changes at work in the last couple of months of 2011 mean I’m much happier there than I thought possible to begin with, and I’m ridiculously lucky that my main stresses are usually that I have too many people and fun things to fit into my social life. Terrible, isn’t it?!

But genuinely, I’m very lucky and well aware of this fact. I’m also intending and hoping for 2012 to be my best year yet… full of all the things I love to do, all the people I love to see and empty (or emptier, at least) of things that make me sad and stressed out. I’m not completely in la la land, I know that various things will be impossible and hard and tearful through the year, but right now things are rosy and I intend to make the absolute most of that.

Things I am muchly looking forward to this year:

Julia’s wedding ~ this is the big one, my best friend and twin soul is getting married on 7th July and I CANNOT WAIT! I’m honoured to have been chosen as one of her bridesmaids and I’ll do everything I can to make sure her big day is perfect.

USA road trip ~ a road trip round the southern states with my parents that we have been talking about doing for close to ten years, we’re flying out to Texas on 9th February and I’m so excited I can barely breathe!

CAE 2012 ~ Camping Auto Extravaganza with the ROC boys and girls is always a highlight of the calendar – this will be my third one, and each one makes me marvel that a bunch of people who only met each other because of their cars can be such very good friends and have such an awesome time.

Neverwhere ~ one of my favourite books by the awesome Neil Gaiman, and my best friend Lou of Contrariety Rose has been working on the costumes for the play for months and months. I’m off to see it on 20th January and am very excited!

Goodwood Revival ~ another one of those things I’ve been threatening to do for ages, Lou & Paul said they’d like to go and much to my surprise so did Rob when I mentioned it the other day… and dressed vintage too! So I’m hoping we’ll get to do that in September… fingers crossed!

My 26th birthday ~ not a traditional landmark I know, but I feel like I’m hitting my prime, and will be taken more seriously once I’m in my late twenties, and I’m hoping to celebrate with lots of friends and lots of family.

Unofficial Ireland rally with Rat Patrol, Team Allegro and Bucket of Doom ~ Assuming we actually manage to get this organised, I would completely adore to see the others again. I am perfectly prepared to abandon the idea of a banger and just go in Poppy if that’s the only way I can afford to go (as the £250 banger car spending limit would probably pay for most of my petrol and camping costs, lol). I’ve missed those guys!

And last but not least, launching Teasets to Typewriters, rejuvenating Ducking Fabulous jewellery as part of that and hopefully becoming involved with a new website, What Simon Said, with a friend I met on the rally and have kept in touch with via Twitter. I have many, many goals this year… some of them are listed on the 2012 Things page of this site, which can be found on the tabs at the top.

So, enough photo-free waffling from me – it’s been wonderful blogging and tweeting and ‘meeting’ people (I’m mostly looking at you, @craftyguider,@fairlyairyfairy@meanyjar, @CraftyThINKer, @MissJimJams, @ShhimUK, @LucyMoose ) in 2011, and I hope the friendship and support continues into 2012 and beyond! Happy 2012… enjoy it!


Ticking things off The List

I don’t think I’ve ever actually posted about The List before. A working copy of it is here, which I will update and add to as things occur to me. There are more than 300 entries, so please don’t feel obliged to read it! (also, none of them are crossed off on this version – Google Docs is thwarting me)

This is a list I started, partly inspired by Mike Gayle’s book The To Do List, and partly motivated by a knowledge that there are an infinite number of things I would like to do and achieve in my life, plus I’d like to be organised like a proper adult (hence some of the smaller things on it) and I wanted to have some of those things in written form. Plus, I’m the original list addict and it would be odd if I didn’t have things written down (honestly, I cart half a ream of paper around with me each day, all covered in lists).

So. Today I reviewed it for the first time in a while. And you know what? I ticked off 49 things I’ve done this year, not including the things that were already ticked off. For someone who has spent the last six months panicking that she’s not done anything to be proud of… well, it’s changed my mind somewhat!

Admittedly, some of those things are as small as ‘put screwdrivers back in the hall drawer’ (it’s concerning how long it’s taken me to do that) but some are lifechanging. Doing a rally was on there, way back before Rob asked me to go… living on my own was on there, and so was (weirdly) buy a typewriter.  And I’ve done all of those things in 2011.

So I must be doing something right… I’ll review it again (and one of the things I meant to do with my blog was post when I’d achieved something on the list, so perhaps that’ll become a regular occurrence?!) at the end of the year, along with my new year’s resolutions and such like.

Maybe I’m a bit too introspective, but I do like being able to look back at what I’d hoped and dreamed and see that despite everyday appearances, I’m moving in the right direction towards the life I want to live 🙂