Less Is More

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I don’t think I’m a very good blogger, I mean I post regularly but I’m no longer sure why as my intention for this blog has gone way off track. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent so much money setting up a professional site for my upcoming work and projects, I kinda don’t want to feel like I’m wasting it by letting it sit here gathering dust but that’s definitely not the answer.

Like all bloggers I think I have something to share,  that I can put a new spin on old story, shed some light on a problem, maybe I share because I just need to get something off my chest and I inadvertently go off on a tangent by writing long and rambling posts. I get that I’m never going to be one of those popular bloggers, I’m too opinionated, too honest and I never play it safe. I came to the stark realisation off the back of a comment someone made about losing advertising deals because they were ‘too’ political that maybe my ranting and raving could be putting people off or the other stark realisation, I’m not saying anything new or interesting. Don;t worry this is not a pity party I’m not looking for sympathy, I’m simply stating that it might be time to take a break from blogging to concentrate on building this site for what I originally intended, which is a portfolio and shop for my work.

The other day I had an idea for a project, it’s going to take time, research and learning to create it, along with making things for my shop and various other projects I’ve started I need to reevaluate how I split my time. I’ve let go of blogging before, I can let go again. I said in a previous post I should save my long and wordy posts for a novel, which I really should finish, if I’m going to then something else has got to give way.

Social media is changing, it used to be about cross posting to every platform which is time-consuming and a little repetitive but now I think it’s more about picking your platform or two of preference and working with that. I like Twitter and Instagram, I’ll carry on sharing my sewing and projects over on Insta because I like that I can do a quick updates on instastories, as it’s little like vlogging but less about perfection, no editing required and also deletes after a while. After deleting my vintage account, I finally set up an account for my adventures in photography, I was inspired to finally take the plunge and share more by Yasumi from Worship Blues and her fabulous project Super Ordinary Life.

Maybe I’ll change this from a blog to a news section in regards to work releases and whatnot but I’m definitely going to be working on getting this site to what I need to be. Anyway I’ll stop rambling now and if you see changes you know why.

Hello May

first day of may

I realised after yesterday’s extremely long ramble I need to get out of a rut. I write because I need to get the things out of my head but I fear I’m veering off course and I need to get back on track. I’m so easily distracted and need to work on focusing more. So I’ve decided to keep my huge word counts for finishing my novel instead! I like blogging, I like writing, I like sharing in the hopes that it helps someone else or make someone else feel less inadequate when they see what a hash I’m making of my own life.

Some things you cannot change, so you have to change your attitude in how you deal with them. May might turns out to be just as disastrous as April but the sunshine this morning gives me a different vibe, funny how sunshine changes our perception of everything, as I said in an Instagram post this morning sunshine is the best filter. When it’s raining and cold, it’s damp and miserable but when it’s cold and sunny the weather is fresh and invigorating. I feel invigorated this morning, which is nice because it’s been a while since I felt that way. I move with the seasons, it’s time to stop hibernating and come out of my slumber and get on with things. I spend far too much time saying, rather than doing!

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I was woken up before 6 this morning by one of the demon cats, Frank likes to get up at the crack of dawn because he’s well a cat and human sleep hours are an inconvenience to him! I forgave him though look at that face, that and the fact that when I opened the back door to let him out, the blue sky was streaked with orange clouds as the sun rose, the birds were chirping and the air was fresh and crisp, a stark contrast to yesterday’s dark and grey rain. I wish I had the energy to stay awake and enjoy the moment but tiredness walked me back to my bed instead and I overslept. Damn you cats fighting at half past midnight!

I have set myself goals for the year and they are getting done, albeit slowly but I’m being less strict with time frames and it is helping ease the pressure. I was talking about how routines are important and they are but this month I want to work on reestablishing some good habits, like going for a walk, reading more, sewing more, even if it’s for five or ten minutes a day. I took all these photos on my phone this morning, spent 2 minutes cropping and editing because that’s all it has to really take, just two minutes.

yellow tulips

I bought these tulips the other day because I was sick of the grey weather and the flat needed splash of colour, they reminded of little bursts of sunshine. This morning they have woken up and bloomed and I feel the same.

Motivation Monday?

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Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.

Arthur Ashe

Alliterative months or themed months like Jumpstart January, Veganuary, NaNoWriMo etc are a good way to get you started on something, they can give you the push or motivation you need, knowing that a lot of other people are doing it can make you feel supported and less alone but you can do any of these themed months, whenever you like.

Sometimes sticking to a goal for thirty days straight can have a positive or negative effect. There is a high probability that you won’t stick to the challenge everyday, I know from personal experience, the pressure we put on ourselves to succeed is ridiculous sometimes and we need to ask ourselves who are we really doing these goals for, on the flip side life has a way of throwing curve balls at your from time to time and shit just happens. You can of course do these monthly challenges any time you want, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is a no go for me in November because its smack bang in one of the busiest months of the retail year! My small business takes priority because this along with December, is when I will make the majority of my earnings! So it makes sense if I want to write a novel in thirty days, to pick one of the quieter months of the year business wise.

I’ve said it before and I will continue repeating as a constant reminder that life and work is a constant roller coaster, the year started out good motivation wise, then things just went down hill. Whether is was the weather, arctic blast followed by heat wave followed by grey and damp spring weather, an uncertain economy as they battle out trade agreements thanks to looming Brexit and business slowing almost down to a halt, in all reality its probably a combination of all these factors, April has been decidedly average verging on awful. And I say this from a mental health point of view, maybe I have been in a slow decline into another depressive episode, I have at the very least been very unmotivated and some days just getting out of bed seems likes a massive achievement but I do it anyway, and stare at the craft supplies or blank computer screen in a hope that motivation/inspiration will sudden appear out of thin air.

Saying that though I haven’t been just sitting here doing nothing, I am the queen of procrastinating by doing other things, like as you know from previous posts had a massive clear our and tidy up to stop me becoming a borderline hoarder. I have been knitting my winter stock in the evening whilst watching telly because I’m a slow knitter, and I want to get a head start on making sure my winter stock is ready before the busy season starts but let’s be honest in retail, the majority of the year is spent thinking about what to make and stock for Christmas. I have to constantly remind myself that success is not a continual high, there are lows, sometimes very low, lows which you feel like your starting all over again.

I really think we need to start being more honest with ourselves about the downs and boring sides of running a business single handily and/or solo working. We focus so much time on listening to the success stories that we don’t really hear about the down sides or the failures. Yes success is good but when we follow that formula and it doesn’t work out for us, we assume it’s because we’re not good enough and are a failure. We concentrate too much on creating a facade of success but not enough time building solid foundations to sustain our businesses/work life. We favour numbers over engagement, I have always maintained that team follow backs are the most pointless thing unless you are prepared to do some heavy networking with these people. Brands don’t help by not checking whether someone has bought their followers or does have a genuine audience for them to market their products to. I constantly have to remind myself of this as the social media world gets larger and more and more people become freelance. But it’s all made to look so easy and for those that are prepared, it can be but for those who dive in head first they can end up struggling. And at some point we all do because that is how it rolls.

I saw a tweet where someone told people to stop telling her to quit her passion because she spoke honestly about the struggles of running a farm single handily. Instead of telling people to quit, we should be finding ways to support them like buying and supporting their business or work. I’ve said it before and will keep repeating until it sinks in that we are not in competition with corporate businesses because we are not corporate businesses, so stop acting like we should be! I seriously think consumers have been spoilt by cheap products and they need re-educating in what the actual cost of mass production is! Of course there are campaigns already on these showing the real cost of cheap clothes and not just financial ones!

There are hundreds of how to lists and blogs for running your business but very few of them talk about that they are not a guarantee. Follow these five simple rules and everything will be great, they are mostly click bait and way to get numbers, some work, some don’t and are usually fairly general in! We need to be realistic in that you can follow all the rules and guidelines and your project still might not get off the ground. In all likelihood it’s not you, it’s timing. Behind every overnight success story there is about five/ten years of slogging behind the scenes. the overnight success of Pokemon Go was down to about 20 years of prep work! Jordan Peele’s oscar winning script for Get Out was also about twenty years of rewriting, I get that 20 years is quite a long time my the pay off was huge. Timing and patience, something I personally need to work on appreciating more.

April has been tough for many reasons. Thinking positive is not always enough, you can’t just turn that frown upside and everything will be okay, sometimes pushing through is like trying to breakdown a brick wall by continually hurling your body against brick wall until one of you gives way! Maybe May will be different, maybe it will be Motivation May, Me Made Everyday May, Make Over May, or maybe I will use May as a jump-start point, I will work with what I have and see what I can do. Maybe I’ll stop with the long rambling blog posts and finally start blogging about making clothes and other creative stuff. Whatever it will be, I know that I’m just going to keep on trying because I’ve come to far to let a little blip. I know this post has been a little boring for you but in all honesty, life is pretty much made up of boring things, interspersed with highs and lows a long the way and sometimes instead of trying to keep up, you need to slow down and move at your own pace.

Spontaneity vs Routine

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When babies are born you here non stop about how routine is important, a parent’s whole life becomes revolved around routine, naps, feeding, changing, sleeping, etc and over time things change. By the time we’re adults routine becomes monotonous and boring, the get up, go to work, do chores, go to sleep, get up repeat etc gets us craving the urge to be spontaneous, jack it all in and fly off somewhere.

There is some misguided notion that being self-employed means you have some sort of freedom that non freelancers don’t have. Maybe it’s the word free that does it and whilst this maybe be partly true, routines are an essential part of being self employed. When I first decided to go it alone, people said they were jealous, I was my own free agent, being self employed was a doss because working for yourself is not really working because you enjoy it. All these things are only partly true and when you become self employed the effort you have to out in to get people to recognise that you are a serious business person increases a hundred fold, especially when you work in a creative field.

You have to explain over and over again that just because your self-employed does not mean you can drop everything at a hat and change your plans to accommodate others wants and needs, yes there is a certain amount of flexibility you can afford but over the last few years I’ve really had to put my foot down and express very sternly that my working day is no different from someone who is employed by someone else! In fact my days are sometimes longer, that is until I started treating my self employment like ‘a real job’. FYI my husband is self-employed but because he works in IT and under contract he gets none of this shit, some jobs are deemed with higher esteem and ‘realness’ than others. What ever creative field you fall into, your work is still work, it still takes time and effort to do all the things that you do and if anyone ever says different, tell them to go and do it themselves. People think that being creative is easy and that anyone can do it, it doesn’t require training or practice and therefore not worth paying for! My answer to that is then go and do it yourself. I will not work for exposure not matter how worthless you think my work is, you are not my target audience or customer.

Routine is important when you are self-employed, especially if you are a solo worker. It is important to set boundaries, you are after all only one person, creating set working hours, taking time off at the weekends like everyone else is important for not only for your health but also to teach other people that indie businesses do not operate on the same level as corporate businesses. Huge businesses have spoilt people with their 24 hour customer service and refunding policies to keep complaints down. This notion that the customer is always right might be acceptable to companies who have huge profit margins that enable to them to replace or refund a product without even questioning the validity of a complaint. I myself, having worked 25 years in customer service, am very strict with customers who try to take the piss! If you want to leave bad feedback because I refuse to give you a discount on an already discounted item, then so be it. Trying to bribe/blackmail small businesses into giving you stuff for free with the threat of ruining their reputation, and leaving bad feedback says more about their lack of character really. Also you forget we can screenshot this shit as evidence! Small business are not trying to compete with big businesses because at the end of they day we can’t. We don’t get massive discounts on supplies, or use factories where labour is cheap, we don’t mass produce for a reason and that being it is just not financially viable. People will happily spring for a £50 dress from a high street store but complain when a dress that is handmade costs the same.

Routines are important, you cannot run a business by being spontaneous, you need that monotony of the daily grind to keep your business ticking over, yes admin is boring but doing your accounts on the first of every month makes submitting your taxes less stressful. How many of you set there mid January in panic sorting through receipts and filling out your tax form? Stock inventory, how many times half way through a project had you realised you’ve run out of what you need because you assumed you had enough in stock? Being self-employed is over glamorised, it has its perks but the cold hard reality of it is that it is not that different to being employed by someone else, it is full of manual and administrative tasks that need to be done over and over again. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news and if you’re one of those people who are not business minded then maybe self employment is not for you. People will get tired of you relying on their good nature to keep your business afloat because you can’t handle managing your finances properly, because you’re not business minded.

Yes there are lulls in business, nothing is linear, flying by the seat of pants can be stressful, sometimes I yearn for the monotony of a daily grind because it lowers the level of uncertainty of whether your business is about to crash and burn or not.  Even in my personal life I need routines or my house would never be tidy, or I wouldn’t exercise which keeps me both physically and mentally well. When I find myself falling out of all my routines, things get messy and chaotic and I can’t see the wood for the trees. Don’t get me wrong, a level of spontaneity is good, it’s about finding a healthy balance between the two. Yes, you can take a random day off and skip out work if you have no deadlines. Yes, you can take a slightly longer lunch break  and take a long walk, yes spontaneity is good for the soul but too much leads to chaos, find a balance. It will come easier to some than others because we’re all different, so if you’re one of those rare birds that flies by the seat of their pants and manages to land on their feet every time, well just don’t brag about it, it’s unseemly 😉

Seasons of Change

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It dawned on me that I’m very much in tune with the seasons, I move with them like the tide as each one rolls in and out. In the winter I tend to be me more sombre with an urgent desire to rest and recharge, the darker days make me want to hunker down and hibernate, I become less social and less productive.

In the spring I wake up, I welcome the return on the warming sun, enjoy the blossom and the earth waking up. There is the want to dye my hair a brighter colour, the darker, heavier clothes get put away, the lighter and greener foods return to my plate, flowers start filling my garden.

In the summer I embrace the bold colours and look forward to visiting the sea, in the autumn I am forever in awe of the beautiful colour that come before the darkness of winter sets in and we begin the cycle all over again.

Camellia

Humans never stop, we go against the grain, we are always pushing ourselves to hard, everything (in the western world least) is available at the push of a button, we never stop. A sense of urgency and it’s too late has been ingrained into us, the rules to success are

Maybe that’s why I never have a definitive style, I tune into my surroundings and my style and work reflect that and maybe that’s what I’ve been overlooking. I’ve been searching for a style and brand and it’s been there with me all the time, almost chameleonic  as I adapt to my surroundings.

Pink Camellia Bush

I get I’m sounding a little hippy witch right now but nature has always been my first source of inspiration and you know from previous posts that I feel very connected to nature but this isn’t just about that. To be honest I’m not really sure what it is about (what’s new?) All I know is that my work is about to take a different direction and I need to stop stalling, I need to let my work take it’s course and bloom, it’s not about trying to fit in or stand out, it’s just about trying to grow in what feels like a hostile environment.

When I look at the daily news, I know that I am grateful for what I have and sometimes my meanderings seem a little whiny and privileged, I get to wake up and be self-employed every day, I’m well taken of. I haven’t always been, so I fully appreciate when I am. I like my life and I’m happy, which is why it feels weird to always feel so overwhelmed and anxious over the smallest of things. Big things I can handle, small things not so much.

Camellia

Sometimes I think I should be more meaningful with this blog, give it a purpose, make it stand out as a voice amongst millions with something profound and important because I spent so much time and money on this blog, and then I remember that’s not why I’m here. I’m just here like many others because I can be, this will eventually be a place for to promote and sell my work which I’m not very good at, the more I try the further my stats and sales figures go down. I acknowledge that business and blogging is a rollercoaster, we are  the currently in a hurtling down phase but that’s not a reason to get dispondent or give up, it’s just the reason you need to take that leap of faith and try that thing you’ve always been meaning to do.

Photos by me.