growing in 2016

I’m not getting any taller, I promise.

I mean “grow” in the figurative sense. I say that because January seems to be the month of self reflection. Self reflection that is going to inform the year ahead.

Myself and a few friends, Simon and Suzanne (both of whom I happen to have the pleasure of working with), agreed that we would start the year well and spend some time together thinking about how we want to grow and develop in 2016.

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We worked through a work-book (horrible word, trying to think of an alternative) by Susannah Conway called “Unravelling The Year Ahead”. Susannah helps you get clear on what you want to create, how you want to feel and what’s most important to you, all by asking a series of simple and searching questions. In fact, these questions are so simple and lovely that it seems a bit ridiculous that I had never stopped to think about them before!

We shared some of our responses and then spent some time in “Triads” in the comfort of Si’s father-in-laws’s flat by the sea in Brighton.

“Triads”? But what’s “Triads”??

Triads is a conversation tool that we learnt about at an Art of Hosting training week. Three people per triad. One question to mull over. A set length of time per person to talk about their answer to said question.

Our question was “What do you need this year to help you grow and develop?”.

One person answers the question.

One person asks powerful questions (no advice, just questions!) and encourages thought development.

One person listens intently and reflects on the interaction at the end.

Personally I think this is a great way to peer coach… But I haven’t actually had any formal coaching training so I’m just going on the fact that it is really bloody helpful!

The things that came up repeatedly, both in triads and in the workbook, in my answer to this question were:

 

I need to give myself time : I need to put development as an immovable date in the diary, rather than something on the bottom of a to-do list that gets pushed further down in the list of priorities.

I need to give myself space : I need to move away from the places that I associate with the usual routine. Something as small as a different room in the flat to as big as a completely different country.

I need to give myself permission : I’ve found that I often need someone to tell me that something is a good idea before I run with it. I like the affirmation that something is valuable to do. Most of the time I need to give permission to myself. I could psycho-analyse myself all day on that one!

These are things that I have always known but have never really been proactive on. Now, more than ever, I need to be focused on ways to grow and develop my skills, knowledge and just about anything else.

I think it’s fair to say that when in full time employment there is an expectation to get additional training in a particular field. I think it’s also fair to say that when freelancing there is an over riding feeling of guilt when you just look at a training course (and most specifically the cost of said training course), let alone when you have forked out the cash and taken yourself off for a week.

Not that it is all about big long training weekends. It’s also that alternative-business book that I’ve been putting off buying because it’s £15.99 and that’s a bit more than I expected.  And that trip to * insert far off city here * for that conference that isn’t as free as I would like it to be.

“But I’m not going to be “earning” for an entire week!”, “I need to spend that £15.99 on shampoo and extension leads!” and “Train travel AND conference fees?!”

And so starts the panic.

Of course the panic needs to back off. Investment in personal development is so important that businesses will pay for you to do it, so you’ve got to spend the time to do it for yourself. It’s so good intact, that HMRC will very kindly let you take any “trade” related training & purchases off your tax bill, so really there is no excuse!

After having the day with Suzanne and Simon, talking over our desires for the year (as framed by the lovely Susannah Conway) and our needs for development (thank you triads), I have a new found energy to pursue this for the year. Thankfully I won’t be pursuing this on my own, I’ll have S&S to check in on me, making sure I’m moving in the right direction and reminding me how important this is when the panic comes back.

Looks like #2015LEARN is sticking around for a while!

 

 

 

 

 

the added challenge of #2016write

This year is #2016write. If you read my last post then you will be happy to know that two weeks in things are going well!

The one thing that I didn’t mention about #2016write is that I am also seeing it as a bit of a personal challenge.

This blog, nota9to5.me, is my way of documenting how am spending my time outside of traditional employment. Freelancing was an incredibly big jump for me (as someone who has always, more or less, had a fairly secure income) and I wanted to record my time somehow.

In my first ever post I wrote something along the lines of:

“Rather than let this new world pass by me I want to evaluate, explore and share little nuggets that I’m learning along the way. I think it will involve a lot of slowing down, a lot of honest conversations, plenty of story sharing and hopefully stumbling on the unexpected in the everyday.”

In #2016write I am going to revisit this paragraph as the framework for some of the things I’m going to write about – both generally and on this blog.

The problem with this is that, whenever I come close to writing a post of a deeper nature, I get an attack of “Why would anyone care about what I have to say on the matter?” or “What if this is more hot air being added to the ever expanding Web?”. I generally end up listening to this inner voice and then delete the draft that I might have started writing.

So in this post of public honesty I’m going to say “screw you” to those voices of misgivings and I’m going to share more openly.

If you want to encourage me on this challenge (and also help me do a little self reflection!) and you have a question or two that you would want me to respond to then feel free to ping it my way!
(Interestingly I almost didn’t publish post for exactly the reasons I’ve told you about… I think #2016write will be more challenging than I anticipated!)

 

another year. another word.

On the stroke of midnight last Thursday I welcomed 2016 with the usual boozy drinks, a lot of food, excellent company and murder mystery mayhem.

I mention this because I think we outdid ourselves this year.

We were in space, you see. Not actual space (Tim Peake you lucky devil) but instead the space you expect to encounter in a low budget 1970’s Sci Fi Drama.

There was lots of tin foil, lots of DIY is-this-what-Darth-Vader-is-supposed-to-look-like costumes and two large UV strip lights.

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As you can see, it’s the appropriate amount of silly if you wish to “start as you mean to go on”.

Ridiculous antics aren’t the only thing I’m intending to carry on this year.

Do you remember me talking about my word for the year? Instead of making a list of unrealistic new years resolutions that fall by the wayside by February, I choose one word that will frame my year. It’s a word that will help me focus my year: it’s not restricting, instead I can interpret it, explore it and it is ok if I change my mind and choose another word or decide to forgo the word entirely.

This works much better for me than any New Year’s Resolution ever has… apart from the NYR to stop buying trashy magazines. Strangely that one has lasted 5 years.

In 2014 my word was “Attentive”.

In 2015 my word was “Learn”.

Since the last two years have gone so well I’m going to continue this year defining tradition. This year I have decided that the word that I am going to focus my year on is…

2016write

I realised – when I got an email from WordPress to show my blog’s activity for 2015 – that I have completely neglected doing what I find so therapeutic. I haven’t taken some time out  to sit back and enjoy writing.

So this year, I’m going to change that.

This isn’t a “I promise to write a weekly blog post” kind of resolution… because, let’s be honest, that’s ultimately setting me up for a fall. Instead this is a “remember you love writing, do it more – no matter what it is you’re scrawling!” kind of nudge.

So, this year I hope to scrawl whatever takes my fancy… I hope that will include:

  • Letters to friends (send me your addresses please!)
  • Words to strangers
  • A diary of my antics
  • A dream journal
  • Ponderings on things I am #2015learning (yes #2015learn is here to stay)
  • Ideas, thoughts and reviews
  • Things that amuse me
  • Prayers and yearnings
  • Self reflections
  • Maybe even a little creative something something

If we’re all lucky then some of it might make it on to http://www.nota9to5.me We shall see, eh!

Forest Jungle Collective at South Coast Roast

I’m pretty lucky. If I wake up in the morning and I’m desperate for a good coffee (a good coffee that I don’t have to fanny around with making) I can walk 30 seconds down the road and get some of the best coffee in town from South Coast Roast.

I haven’t yet wandered around in my dressing gown, but I think it’s only a matter of time before I do.

And I don’t think they would be surprised.

South Coast Roast is doubly good because if I find myself twiddling my thumbs on a Thursday eve, which I occasionally do, I can wander down and see pretty special DJ’s & musicians doing what they do best. Every Thursday they are open till late and they will always have something interesting going on, whether that’s music, movie nights, “drink and draw” or whatever else comes out of their imagination.

I’ve been particularly enjoying their DJ sets. It’s close and cosy and the music is always spot on. If you find yourself in the town centre after 5pm and think – “well, what do I do now?” then take yourself up Richmond Hill for something a little bit different.

The reason I mention all of this is because a) I love it and b) some good friends of mine recorded a podcast there and they’ve just put it online! So I thought I’d shout about both of them, since both of them are worth shouting about!

So here we are… That’s Dave at the decks and hiding behind the suitcase is Rich. They, for that evening, made up The Forest Jungle Collective. P1010028 Forest Jungle Collective’s genre is a bit of an mystery to me, but Dave (possibly the most talented musician I know – no exaggeration) describes it as “exploring deep into the forgotten terrain of Atmospheric Jungle and Dark, Melodic Trip Hop.”. I’m not sure what that means but I guess it could be translated to “bloody brilliant chillout mixes”. P1010035 Rich does what he does best and plays some outstanding piano that accompanies Dave’s mixing. The result is a couple of hours of ambient joy, a perfect way to peacefully see out a Thursday evening. The mix from this set, called Sunshade, is on Mix Cloud… You can listen to it HERE. And please do listen, it’s a treat! P1010051 There are a bunch of mixes and podcasts up on the Mixcloud page… You should take a listen to them, they are excellent to accompany the following things:

Late night studying.

Breakfast at sunrise.

Walks in wide open spaces.

A bit of candle lit meditation.

All of Summer and Autumn.

Background music to filament bulb lit dinner parties.

And, of course, they’re perfect on a Thursday in a little Indie Coffee Shop, with a few of these… P1010061 Plus all these lot.

P1010008It really is perfect.

Forest Jungle Collective and the Espresso Sessions (the name of the podcast series) happen all over the place, so keep your ear to the ground and you might stumble upon one soon!

learning how to cake properly

My mother and I have this dream of opening up a craft shop/workshop/cafe/bar called Slapdash&Bodgit. She’s slapdash, and I’m bodgit. Here we will do craft the way we like to do craftin a slapdash and bodgit it kind of fashion.

In fact my bodgit work style pretty much follows me most places. It’s not that I do things badly, I just don’t do them properly. Most things I do have a distinctly home made feel to them, and I’m absolutely fine with that! The problem I’ve found is that when you bodgit, you probably haven’t looked at the instructions or the How-To’s or anything that will show you the tricks of the trade that will make your life easier.

As you are probably sick of hearing, I’ve been spending a lot of my not-a-9-to-5-ing baking and it’s been amazing. I love it. Occasionally I get a call to ask if I can make something a little bit special and I enter into the terrifying world of….

CAKE DECORATING.

I’ve been throwing these cakes together, mostly by guessing, and they’ve been turning out pretty well – if I do say so myself. The only thing is it takes me forever and my swear jar contains a small fortune over the course of one cake. Here are a few of the more swear-y ones…

Tardis-Cake

Nike-Cake

words-and-pictures-cake

 

I mean, they’re not bad! But… I don’t know how to do such things properly. And as I said – so much swearing.

So in true “LEARN” fashion (though admittedly I did do this in 2014, shh) I went on a cake decorating class to get a few tips from the pros! I took my freshly baked carrot cake and cream cheese frosting to Sweet Serenity in Westbourne (thanks to a birthday voucher from Zak & Theresa at The Living Room!) and the lovely Wendy showed me some tricks of the trade that will hopefully make my next cake decorating venture a stress free affair!

It turns out I was doing quite a few things wrong…

Firstly, you gotta be ac-u-rate.

well-balanced-cake

Which is the first downfall for Bodgit-Daisy. I have never owned a spirit level in my life and it’s never occurred to me to use one for a cake that isn’t even going to have a shelf on it. But it turns out it really does make for a professional looking cake. I mean, look at the sharp edges on this beauty!

cake-decorating

This wiping of frosting was the second useful tip Wendy gave me. You’ve got to “fill in” your cake… basically use a thin layer of frosting to make sure that your frosting goes in all the gaps and dimples and that it traps all the crumbs. This means that when you come to put your sugar paste or the rest of your frosting on, it has a nice, clean and not-dimply surface to go on.

Who knew?!

The third tip was to keep your work surface clean and organised. That means; no crumbs, no unnecessary tools or utensils, no smears of frosting, no cats, no nothing. Once everything is out of the way you can roll out your sugar paste (if your using it) nice and big, a couple of cm’s thick, and use your big fat rolling pin to drape it onto your cake. Lovingly rub the sugar paste (with a bit of left over paste) so it sticks to the cake with no creases.

It ends up looking like this…

cake-decorating

I don’t think I’ve ever made anything that looks so perfect! And with a total swear count of ZERO. Result! I think being next to someone with years of experience made all the difference… I would not have gotten the same result with YouTube! Thank you Wendy, you wonderfully patient human being! If you want to go and learn some tricks from the ladies at Sweet Serenity, I would totally recommend it it! They’ve got loads of courses and workshops on their website here.

carrot-cake

This whole experience has definitely geared me up to learn how to do other bakes and makes in 2015. I’m looking at different workshops at the moment and I’m salivating all over my keyboard. I think next I’m going to learn how to bread properly!

Perhaps one day my bodgit ways will be a thing of the past?

Perhaps not, otherwise what will my mum and I call our shop?!

one word for 2015

Some of you may have seen my New Years post for last year… instead of having a long list of New Years Resolutions, I instead chose one word that would frame the coming year. This is a great idea from the #oneword365 community.

I chose the word “Attentive”… And I think that’s what I was last year! At our post-traditional-New-Years-Eve-Murder-Mystery-Party-New-Years-Day-Breakfast (got that?), with my favourite bunch of people, we chatted about how we got along with our words over 2014 (it was with this bunch, one year ago, that I decided on “Attentive”).

I’ve managed to carry on not-9-to-5-ing and am still keeping my ear to the ground for all the exciting things that are going on around Bournemouth. My word for the year definitely helped me to keep some resolve when making some important decisions. There were times where things got pretty scary and my word (along with some very supportive friends) reminded me to hang in there, pay attention and keep going.

All in all, a very good way to do resolutions. So I’m going to do it again!

My word for this year is…

learn

I’ve come to realise that I really miss being in a learning environment. I’ve been going to some enterprise classes at Outset – with a Bournemouth Scene hat on – and I’ve loved it! Absorbing information and growing in skills and expertise… what’s not to love?

I like that this is a very practical word. Learn. I have a bit of a goal. Each month I want to learn something; whether that’s a new craft, historical happenings, something science-y, a theological idea, some basic political understanding (I’m not great on it and it’s general election year), how to bake bread…. Anything!

I’m also open to suggestions. If you know lots about something and would like to share some wisdom then I would LOVE to learn from you!

This seems like the kind of thing I ought to blog about, really! Let’s see what happens.

Whether I do blog about it or not, I want to come to the end of 2015 having learnt some new skills, with my understanding of my surroundings grown and my thoughts and ideas challenged.

Wish me luck!

flirting with craftivism

For the past few Wednesday’s I’ve been hanging out at Flirt, in Bournemouth’s Triangle. Flirt (one of the most community focused cafes I’ve ever encountered) is hosting a regular Craftivist group, organised by my good friend Gemma.

Gemma, along with Kevin, has set up Street Space Bournemouth. Here they are:

street-space-bournemouth

They focus on giving out as much love as they can to those who live, work and play in the Triangle. The area has all sorts going on: a multi million pound library, community cafes, pubs, gay clubs, a Church of England Primary school, a few sex shops and a Games Workshop.

Gemma says, “Space is a dynamic dance that happens when people, places and relationships meet. A place is somewhere you arrive, but a space is somewhere to explore and grow”.

Street Space Bournemouth, with the communities around them, are turning the Triangle into a space. A space where the hungry are fed; where, through detached youth work, young people are met where they are at; where the church flies banners of apology at Gay Pride events; where cake is available 24/7; where the question “How can we serve you?” is asked constantly. It’s beautiful!

After asking “How can we serve you?” enough people start to take you up on it! Street Space Bournemouth is working with Flirt and a bunch of other venues in the area to put together a series of events for World AIDS Day on the 1st December. They include a service at DYMK (5pm), a party at Flirt (7.30pm) and a night out at Xchange (9pm)… That’s a pretty full day!

And if that wasn’t enough, Gemma and Kevin are craftivating (craftivisming?) for a collaborative, cross-stitch guerilla campaign raising awareness about the still very real threat of HIV and AIDS.

Firstly, what is craftivism? Have a look at the Craftivist Collective website. They also have a very cool little book!

little-book-of-craftivism

It’s a brilliant way to gather people around a cause and create something with your hands. Something that takes some thought (and some time); something that is eye catching, that people will stop and look at in the street and learn about the cause you’re gathering around. Perfect.

This is what I’ve been joining Gemma, Kevin and the Street Space lot in doing! We’ve been meeting every Wednesday in a little corner of Flirt at a table that is overflowing with needles, threads, fabrics and hot chocolates. The aim is for 50 banners to be made and hung around the Triangle in time for World AIDS Day… And we’re very close!

Here are a few of my attempts – not bad for 2 months of work!

craftivism

 

craftivism

It’s been great to sit with a group of passionate people and sewing away into the night. It creates quite a bit of a stir! If it ticks your boxes then you should definitely pop by!

Next week is your last chance to cross stitch a message onto a banner with Gemma, Kevin and Street Space, as after that it’s World’s AIDS day! Come along to Flirt at 6.30pm, sew some little banners (no experience needed!) and devour one of Flirt’s OMG (yep, OMG) hot chocolates.

massive-hot-chocolate

Can’t wait to see you there!