One of the catchphrases from my Art Therapy course is to “trust the process”. Whilst I often say such things tongue-in-check, there’s always some truth there too. I’ve accepted some EFL work which looks like it’ll be fun – apparently one of my students has pink hair and likes to wear pink (there I am in the meeting today, head-to-toe in pink!) So, now I’ve gone from being scared about not having enough work, to having too much work. I’m hopeful for another alternative education placement after the next three weeks, but I’ve also been offered an interview for EFL work for Lewisham Council.
I dedicated some time to art making the other day (see above) and I’ve still got some more works-in-progress, but it felt so good to do. It’s all very responsive to the present moment and things that have come up through the course, rather than the ideas I have for specific pieces connected to my poetry, but I trust that will come with time.
The last week has whizzed by, and yet my work schedule is still up in the air. It looks like I may be securing some work for next year, which is positive and I’m looking to do more alternative education in the daytime. However, balancing these placements with other work and university work… it’s looking like my relaxing Sundays will be when I catch up on course reading and art making (also a requirement for the course as well as the profession of being an Art Therapist).
Yesterday, I went to see the Soheila Sokhanvari ‘Rebel Rebel’ exhibition at The Barbican. An Iranian artist, it feels like a really important exhibition, especially poignant in these times with the femicides and protests in Iran. The exhibition is on until 26th February 2023. Featuring female actors and singers from Iran, each portrait is accompanied by a snapshot of their life story, which you can read about on the gallery website, often filled with details of exile, imprisonment, violence and mistreatment.
The last month has been a tough one, but I am happy with my choices. My training to become an Art Therapist is getting more intense, but it feels very right. I’m currently cat sitting for a friend, which has been nice, and this month’s work will mean I am earning enough by the end of next month! I’m eagerly waiting to hear back this month about the scholarship.
I went to Barcelona for a few days to visit family for an important event to honour my abuelito, Juan Antonio Masoliver. Whilst there, I sprained my foot really badly and he gave me one of his walking sticks, so I could keep walking! I read a poem of mine (which I’ll send out soon on my mailing list) after my uncle made a short speech (his in Spanish, mine in English). Most of the language was Catalan, which I don’t know at all sadly. I started making a butterfly cross-stitch whilst there, but it’s my first one!
I’ve gone from being worried about having no work to being overwhelmed with how to schedule it and having to turn stuff down. Such is freelance life! I’m worried about some of the schedule as I know how tired I get already (I fell asleep at my laptop this week!) but I also know I will be back in a period of uncertainty come December as I’ll lose a lot of students around that time. I’m methodically working my way through my art therapy work, and I’m really enjoying it all and learning a lot. I liked the first piece I sketched for homework, but I also am wondering whether I would be able to make it into a bigger piece.
Aside from some personal upheaval, work and university is on the up. I visited the London Art Therapy Centre and the Bethlem Museum of the Mind, which has been fascinating. I went to ‘We Move’ at London Literature Festival last night with James Cahill, Gurnaik Johal, Arji Manuelpillai and Sheena Patel. I loved the sound of all their work, especially Sheena Patel’s – very relatable, but also the way she spoke was so natural and I felt I really connected with her. The concept of Arji Manuelpillai’s poetry was very thought-provoking, but the poems he shared were also stunning in their own right. Gurnaik Johal’s short stories were inspiring in terms of how to get into the heads of so many characters, and James Cahill’s novel appealed in the context of the location around SE London, and the coming of age story focussed on finding sexuality later in life.
I’ve been feeling weirdly detached from my anxiety, which has pros and cons, but whilst confusing, it has maybe allowed me to re-direct my energy away from things I feel anxious about. Whilst anxiety propels me into action (when others were impressed by my organisation at work, I said ‘fuelled by anxiety!) sometimes action isn’t what is needed. I did have a few nights kept up by the moon, applying to do everything from the Saturday job at WHSmiths to random writing jobs on Upwork. But mostly, I tried to tell myself that it would work out, that I know there are ups and downs with the work, there’s just the extra pressure of uncertainty with paying my course fees, coupled with uncertainty about my living situation. I have accepted an hour tutoring for £12 below my usual rate with an hour’s travel each way on a Friday, but I figured, I can do some reading on the commute and it’ll only be 6-12 weeks. I also have one new student starting on a Wednesday (thus sacrificing my Red Sky Sessions…) and got a call about 4 new students from elsewhere. I’ve accepted that I’ll be working on a Saturday, and £80 for two hours makes more sense than £80 for 8 hours at WHSmith.
I’m really enjoying my Art Therapy training! I was going to the exhibition in Lewisham Shopping Centre, ‘Where to, Now All the Sequins Have Gone?’ (also home now to The Migration Museum, which is well worth a visit!) I completed half of an assignment to observe and reflect on some artwork, and on Sunday did another observation task at the Horniman Gardens. I’m still finding my feet in terms of organising things, having got a notebook with dividers, but then divided my notes in the wrong areas… but for now, I want to try to have gratitude and be present, letting go of what I can’t control, and trying to improve and grow in the ways I can. One thing that is challenging at the moment is how doing work on yourself, attending therapy, doing this kind of course… can mean that it’s harder to communicate with others around you who seem less willing to reflect in the same way, or who don’t use verbal communication as much… which is actually very apt for the challenges I’ll be coming up against in this course.
I’ve started my Art Psychotherapy course, and it has felt overwhelming at times, but after just two days I feel very connected to my colleagues and like I have found kindred spirits. I have to be careful with what I share and respect the confidentiality of everyone, but I can share my own work and experiences. At time moment, I’m trying to find extra work, and have had two potential new students whose parents have ceased contact without informing me, which feels really horrible, so I’m trying to prioritise, which is difficult when there’s so much to do, not knowing where to start. I have also been trying to keep up with the uke, as having such things structured is important, yet at times I find myself lost in emails and searching for what books I need and where I can find them.
I started the above picture in an experiential workshop, where we were to introduce ourselves visually. I’m in a period of uncertainty, where my living situation will change over the next couple of months. I feel I’ve got a lot of clutter and I want to get rid of some things, but it never seems like a priority, so it keeps weighing me down in that way. Even stuff I don’t want to get rid of gets overwhelming, from unread magazines to untouched internet tabs and bookmarks. In the Red Sky Sessions with Vanessa Kisuule and Cecilia Knapp this week, one question I noted down was ‘What do you hoard?’ and I enjoyed the poem that came out of answering this question.
The weekend was overwhelming too. There were nice moments too, like mooching around Crystal Palace’s galleries, cafes and antique shops, but even being at Apples & Snakes’ 40th Birthday Party was a challenge. I felt so overwhelmed I was shaking and tearful. I managed to speak to some people, but didn’t really approach anyone myself. Not only did I feel like that, but the critical voice inside my head was questioning my place there, putting me down for not being successful enough. Shout out to Antonia Jade King, Deborah Stevenson, Vanessa Kisuule, Bohdan Piasecki, John Berkavitch and Joelle Taylor for making me feel better by just talking to me or giving me a hug. Trust poets to hold you.
I’ve returned from my holiday feeling refreshed and excited for a new chapter, training to become an Art Therapist. Then on the Monday, I began to feel overwhelmed and indecisive. I’m puzzling the pieces of my timetable together, trying to work out how I can earn enough money to get by each month, let alone pay for my course fees. I tell myself this is just a period of uncertainty, and it will pass. By November, things will be clearer… either way, I’ll know the outcome of my scholarship application, and will have a better idea of finances.
There’s inevitable instability with freelance work. Going on holiday, and an important family event abroad means I’ve earned a lot less this month and need more work to pick up. I have no idea how much time the course will take up outside of the classroom, so all you can do is go with the ebb and flow, and try to keep as balanced as possible to keep negativity and anxiety at bay. From my Creative Entrepreneurship, I’ll be going away from the fantastical “champagne” budget (well, more like Tinto de Verano, which could can get for €1 from the shop in Lanzarote), to the “cabbage” budget (good thing I make a mean bokkeumbap!).
So, both summer school jobs are over and I’m going on holiday, to have some “medicine” as my friend is calling it. I’ve finished my podcast and I’m looking forward to training to be an Art Therapist for the next three years! I’ve been listening to lots of podcasts on Art Therapy, and I’m keen to start a book I have, but will likely save it and use my holiday to indulge in lots of lovely fiction. I’m just about to finish ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’, which my mum pass on to me… I hope I can catch the film too. I would critique the way that black characters are depicted in terms of why a distinction is made to show their accents in the phonetic writing of speech, but not other white characters. I wouldn’t have picked it myself, but the story is interesting and it surprised me.
I organised my first class trip to the Horniman Museum and Gardens, and found out that certain (stolen) artefacts will be returning to their country of origin, namely Nigeria, from what I could see, which is great! One of my students already knew about it before we went, which was an impressive coincidence. I celebrated finishing my nine weeks of EFL work by going for tapas at El Molino, which was amazing. A taster of what’s to come!
So, the first EFL school has started! The day before, I was so nervous, I didn’t want to do the job anymore! However, the first day wasn’t even over before I began to feel completely fine. Would I have been able to feel okay without the escitalopram? Who knows… but I wasn’t the only one feeling this way, with another teacher reaching for their CBD oil at one point! I love my line manager, the other teachers, the students, and I am so glad I am in a place where I feel comfortable and confident.
I’m unsure if I’ll still have to do more planning on top of what I’ve done as there are more changes than I expected. However, it meant that I ended up creating a poetry slam project, which I’m excited to do! I had some lessons cancelled, so today, I’m going to catch up on some of my reading for my music project, which will be coming to an end next month (but, if music be the food of love… it will play on!) I’m tired, yet energised at the same time, excited about what I’m doing now, and what’s to come! Still nervous about having a formal observation though…