Now

I have a confession to make, I have another love in my life. I have been working on another venture and this weekend it took flight. I am now the founder of an arts space here in Stitchopolis. Can you believe it??  Check it out here

Hope you like!

Benefit in kind

Parkinsons is a journey rather than a destination and yesterday saw a stop off to check the map. I had a ‘voluntary’ interview to do with benefits I am claiming and I found myself coming face to face with the realisation that my working life has ended. Uncomfortable to say the least. I had a full and successful working life and losing that is hard. I know my new focus on domesticity is a more than adequate replacement but I still feel like I’ve lost a limb. Sometimes I want to shout how unfair this diagnosis is and now is one of those times. As I say, I’ve checked the map and don’t like the planned route ahead so I’d better try and plot a new course. Self help here I come, goodbye self pity. Beep!!

Kaleidoscope

image

Over the last year or so, things have changed a lot as you know. I’ve been made redundant, got a new completely different job, crashed the car,found my inner cyclist, been up and down the road of Parkinson’s and spent lots more time with my boys.Peaks and troughs indeed.

One of the things I said I would do, was try to have a portfolio career. Well, there have been a few false starts on that particular goal. But, I started doing some numbers yesterday, and it does appear that parts of my portfolio are working out. So, I will continue with that particular approach but I can expect to continue being a wage slave for some time. Not something I was really looking for, but looking at the margins, it is inevitable.

The Etsy business is starting to find its feet. I have made some sales. I’m getting more profile. It really is a slow burn though. I want to spend some more time marketing on this one. To that end, if anybody is interested, there’s 20% off everything over £50 to 31 October in the shop. A Halloween present 😉

Homeward bound…

A day of mixed emotions here. I hope your day was clearer. On the one hand I have had a mentally stimulating day, discussing and learning about the latest technical developments in my chosen field. The course was in a very chi chi hotel in Big London so this morning found me Paddington bound on the 6.30am train. I legged it to the venue dragging my massive handbag (WHEN will I learn how to travel light) and plonked myself down just in time. 8 hours later and it’s the return trip.

Now, on the one hand, the day was brilliant because it was so interesting but on the other? Meh. I got a view of what I don’t do any more. I don’t join in the cut and intellectual thrust as much, I don’t have the drive to develop new technical approaches and businesses, I don’t have the tenacity to stay on the ball. And I don’t have the stamina. I’m whacked.

I observe this quite dispassionately though. It’s like I looked in on somebody else’s life for a bit. It’s not mine anymore, it’s a version of what was. Not the future.

And what is the future?

I have no real plan apart from my old mantra of Choose Life. Three hours on a train twice a day is no longer Life. That’s, on reflection, a good thing. I’m more fired up by the crafty mags I read on the way home. Why am I surprised?!?!!?

So, a mixed day. But different feelings can throw each other into relief. I’m closing a chapter today. I’ve left my commuter clothes behind (not literally, don’t worry!). My Stitchy self remains, however. Now, thats a real relief. Pass the embroidery floss…

Pick and mix

 
 
You know, I have always been in Praise of Slow. Normally it’s in the context of crafty ditherings but it can also be re life choices and similar trivia. I was made redundant almost 5 months ago. I had Little One almost three years ago. I was dx 5 years ago. Yep, it’s my diagnosisary folks. And where have I got to? What have I learnt?
 
 Image
 
My thoughts have meandered and then centred on how my choices would have been so different had I not been so convinced I needed to stick with my (large, dependable, safe) employer. I now know that it’s perfectly possible to pick and mix AND progress, develop and be commercially successful. I learnt a lot at the mumsnet Blogfest last year, mainly from other, more experienced freelancers. Step up mme Lindor, Mme Guillotine et al. I have also learnt from my RL friedns most of whom are self employed. And then I’ve discovered that the world does not stop when you get your P45. Actually, it changes and it opens new possibilities.
 
What has fired me up to write more than my habitual haiku? I recently submitted a piece to the wonderful Jump magazine and I got to reflecting on how, when I was at school and later university, the knowledge that a portfolio career could be preferable to a traditional one would have been gold dust to me. 
 
I have been known to lament that you can’t have it all. You either sacrifice advancement or family time. I still strongly believe that a hefty dose of realism is needed when the concept of SuperMums is aired. But maybe, just maybe there’s a third way? 
 
Start off in life willing to bend with life’s ups and downs, collect transferable skills, access technology and all it can give you, refuse to be bounded by the traditional working models of 9-5 office life, focus on results and deliverable rather than process, network, share, blend work and life. What if we taught our young these values? Could we help our children avoid sleepwalking into mediocrity and achieve their potential? Boys too. I think so. I really do.
 
About 6 years ago I wrote a list of what my perfect day consisted of. Despite Parkinson’s, I reckon I’ve got about 90% now. And it’s thanks to going portfolio. I know things could change but whatever, it’s taught me that boundaries should be guidelines and career cliches challenged. 
 
What do you think? I’m going to expand this issue, build on these bare bones of an idea. What is your view?

Baggage – the obligatory back to school post

Oh, you know it’s an inevitability like death and taxes – the back to school post. So, let’s talk bags. Yep, bags.

They are, I feel, a bit of a metaphor – I’ve got a range on bags in my life and in my cupboards, apart from the ubiquitous Yorkshire Tea (Aside: this was recommended to me by a plasterer who did some work at our place years ago, he brought his own in a massive box and insisted they were the best. He was right.)

Back to bags….

• Beach bag – my most recent focus. This bag is filled with toys, beach shoes (Brixham beaches are STONY), little wetsuits, soggy towels and flapjack wrappers (empty, ahem). I admit it, this is my favourite bag and I’m putting it back into the cupboard with great regret. Perhaps it will sneak out every now and again…I hope so.

• Changing bag – living up to its name, this really is changing and is on its last legs, being usurped soon I hope, hope, hope. Imagine a world without nappies. Little One is having his first day without me today as I go off to work and he goes to play school in his NEW SHOES. I miss him ad Elder already and I’m still on the commute to the office. Working hard as you can see.

• School bag – Elder is back to school today. I kissed him good luck at 7am this morning, he was in his uniform already and bouncing like a Tiger on Red Bull. Mind you, that’s his normal level of activity. There’s a reason why that child is stick thin despite eating everything in sight, pure burning white energy ball that one. He needs to get back to a class room tho. The last few days have been a bit ‘challenging’ let’s say. Routine is his saviour and I’m glad we’ve got some structure to our weeks again.

• Clutch – Other half and I managed a good few nights out together this holiday – yay!!! I think I will make more of an effort to continue with this, everyone always bangs on about how important it is to have time as a couple. It’s a cliché, but it’s true. Probably why it’s a cliché….

• Project bag – positively bulging. I’ll post on curren WIPs soon. Far mr eintersting and cheerful than this wingey post, I promise

• Work bag – today’s choice. I’m back in the saddle, on the train to the office. I put on office clothes this morning and it felt so strange. Partly because they appear to have shrunk, even my ‘fat’ trousers are feeling the strain. Oh dear. All those ice creams and glasses of wine have decided to stay around with me and my hips I fear. So, I am on the straight and narrow food wise. But being a wage slave is also so far removed from where me and my head got to in the last few weeks I almost feel like a different person. Certainly, the PD symptoms are back. Hello boys. I’m clenching my teeth, shaking more, feeling less stable on my feet and have a fuzzy head. My sleep patterns have disintegrated too. So, I need to work on managing the impact of my working life on the rest of my time. I want to keep that feeling I managed while on holiday, it was such a release.

I also am not particularly looking forward to actually doing the work when I get there. Now, this is a new one for me and I’m not sure whether it’s a permanent development or not. Usually despite missing time off I can muster positive thoughts when I go back to work, a new project or goal or something. Not this time. Probably something to do with the threat of redundancy hanging over me at the moment. I’ve been through about 4 redundancy programmes at Stitch&Co, after all I’ve worked there for millennia. But I’m actually under real threat this time I fear. My role is non client facing ie I don’t pull in revenue directly, my performance hasn’t been the normal ‘outstanding’ (sorry if that sounds braggy, but I do normally get an outstanding but haven’t in the past couple of appraisal periods, a comment on my PD or affinity for my role, or both? Who knows) and I’m quite expensive compared to a more junior person. We find out in just over a fortnight, so expect these posts to become more and more angst ridden before reaching a crescendo of agony or relief, who knows which eh? Still, it’ll be fun waiting to find out, I’m sure.

Anyway, in the meantime, I’m wearing my most cheerful dress…look.

So there it is, bags all over the place. As indeed I am. No change there then 🙂

Stomp!

So, today started quite grumpy tbh. No sleep and post holiday mardiness tbh. BUT I recused the day by having a play with stamping. I have been reading Martha Stewart Living on the train to and from work and thought lets have a go! So, I’ve played with some scraps and they’re drying now. I think I’ll have a go at embroidering the basic shapes and then appliqué in some shape or form. Who knows? And that’s the point. Craft, the ultimate happy pill IMHO. Hurrah!!!

Imprint

So, the eagle eyed amongst you may have noticed I’ve been a little more productive than normal on the stitching side of life. One reason is because I have been off sick for a few weeks while I let my brain catch up with te realities, physical and otherwise, of Parkinson’s.

Making stuff is my coping mechanism, as is chocolate. The latter has unfortunately taken its toll on my wardrobe (weight watchers here I come) but the former is only a good thing IMHO. While the last few weeks have been ahem, challenging shall we say, I have found real peace and relief in my knitting, stitching and now, felting.

And why am I talking about this now? I don’t like to shout about the hurdles Parkinson’s can throw up at you. Life’s too short. But today I’m going back to the office and I’m contemplating what are the fundamental building blocks of my personality.

Work used to be a massive one, I mean huge. I was a corporate cheerleader. But over the last Couple of years the balance had shifted. The last few weeks even more so.

What runs through me? What’s imprinted on my psyche? Increasingly its my boys. This may sound weird. I mean, they’ve been around a while now. But to me motherly love, while instinctive is also cumulative. And my recent break has allowed it to pile up all around me. To get involved in the minutiae of their days. To have time.

So, as I sit here on the train, I’m wondering how they’re doing getting ready for school and nursery. And I’m missing them. A lot. Here’s hoping I can find my professional pompoms or today’s going to be a toughie.