Freelance Reflections #86

This week has been full on, with more work on, as well as preparing for debates at university. I’ve honestly put too much work into the debate preparation, and it’s been hard to focus my argument on one particular area. It’s all be really interesting though! But I still need to do the reading for the week ahead. I’ve planned loads of notes and quotes, created a PPT that can be viewed with a QR code, and made both physical and digital art.

I found out that I didn’t get the artist role at SPINE festival with Apples & Snakes. There really needs to be more transparency in the arts, which is why I will have no shame is sharing that I cried my eyes out for at least half an hour on reading the news. Yes, this was coloured by my financial situation, but I also felt embarrassed. It was the second time that I had interviewed for this position, and not only had I not been successful, I also felt really alone because I didn’t know who was in the same boat. After having done a workshop for Apples & Snakes, I went back to feeling like I don’t get picked. I consoled myself with my course, and the new direction I’m taking, but after swearing I wouldn’t do it again, I’ve signed up to do exam invigilation work, so when I could have been getting paid £200 a day in a April and May for something I love, I’ll now be getting barely over minimum wage for something that’s really mentally challenging (I try to think of it as meditation). And then it turns to self-blame, because who else is there to blame? My 5-minute workshop wasn’t as strong as others, and my answers weren’t good enough. It’s actually so demoralising. I know I’m capable of the work, but what now – try again next year?

In other news, I’ve also had two meetings about two different events in March. The first is the first Forest Hill Poetry Stanza at a cute cafe-bar ‘Mozart’ in Anerley on Friday 3rd March. The second is She Grrrowls, back for International Women’s Day on Thursday 16th March at the Catford Mews cinema. Aside from this, which is a fair bit of work for little to no pay, I’ve also got another minimum wage role for humble warrior drinks, offering product samples in store.

So, all this has been doing on whilst I’ve had my regular students, applying for more jobs, hosting the online Stanza group, and getting ready for my flatmate moving out! Thankfully I also had time for some exercise – Pilates, Yoga, Boxing and Zoca! I’m also trying to walk more again, but it’s not always possible, so I’ve only gone beyond 10,000 steps twice this week!

Once again, if you’re able to support me on my journey to becoming an Art Therapist, please consider buying my books or sharing stuff on social media, likewise with my crowdfunding campaign.

Freelance Reflections #85

This week has been very up and down with work. I’ve still had cancellations, which has made me worry about payment. At times, I’ve also felt stressed, which has impacted on how productive I’ve been able to be, or how productive I’ve felt. It’s not been possible to make up any lost hours financially this week, and yet I also can’t schedule anything in the time I’m committing to the students I have. Given the change to PAYE with one of the agencies I work with, there also seems to have been complications with getting paid for the hours I’ve actually worked, and last night I found I was taxed around half of my earnings, so was straight on the phone to HMRC this morning, who picked up just as I finished my washing up, so at least I’m getting things sorted!

Looking forward to reviewing these from Whisky & Beards when things are more settled!

Last Saturday, I spent the morning lesson planning, and after a fun visit to Specsavers, I finished my course reading and a Safeguarding workbook (and 3.5 hours of safeguarding training the day before!) Sunday afternoon, after stocking up on some food, I went through emails and sorted out the work admin for some of the other new casual PAYE work I’m taking on. Art making was sadly left until the end, so it wasn’t until nearly midnight that I finished.

Appreciating a sunset with fellow Art Therapist Trainees

As well as tutoring and waiting for students who didn’t turn up, I was back at university this week. Of course, one particular day of cancellations, I thought I’d take a walk and call a friend, only to become overwhelmed later that day. I got prepared for an upcoming debate by researching materials, but still need to do the much-needed reading and note-taking! I also had a lot of meetings, following on from my dyspraxia diagnosis, where I’m hoping to qualify for some support! I also had two intense interviews! One for a tutoring agency and one for a poetry opportunity! Now I’m going to walk to Crystal Palace and make use of my free tickets with the cinema membership I got for Christmas!

Once again, if you’re able to support me on my journey to becoming an Art Therapist, please consider buying my books or sharing stuff on social media, likewise with my crowdfunding campaign.

Freelance Reflections #84

Sure enough, the work is coming in, so I am trying to schedule it so I can also not burnout, creating balance whilst making some necessary sacrifices. This means I’m absolutely not doing any work on Tuesday evenings as I’m at uni on Mondays and Tuesdays, so I need this time to recover, have some down time with fellow students, and reflect. So my schedule of students is currently 2 hours on Mondays, 6 hours on Wednesdays, 2 hours on Thursdays (with 3 more pending) and 3 hours on Fridays. Plus some LEGO parties on weekends, and I’ve just signed up for a Living Wage events staff role!

Despite the positive turn of events, I’ve also have lost out on a big chunk of my income this week as one of a student I’m now seeing 6 hours a week has not been able to attend for the week, and unfortunately the agency won’t pay me anything for this time… which I could also do with using as preparation time as I will need to re-read the novel being studied (Purple Hibiscus, which I have read before at least!) I was able to make a little more money to compensate for this loss of income by doing some last-minute EFL cover!

Polka dots for poetry

I got to host an Apples & Snakes Work From Home workshop, and I had some positive feedback from people who attended (between 40-50 people joined I think!) and although I proved to be a little rebellious with my form samples, I absolutely loved it! Hopefully you can see I’m working hard (and also trying to rest hard… rather than party hard)! If you would like to help me on my journey to become an Art Therapist, please donate to my crowdfunding campaign, and/or buy some books, and/or share my links!

Freelance Reflections #62

Although there are some days where the schedule goes awry, I have been really pleased with how my day are going when I am able to do things the way I want to. I’m awaiting details of a new daytime student, and it looks like there will be some flexibility. So, generally, my days will start with a morning of Duo Lingo with breakfast, exercise, content writing, and lesson planning. I’ll do some language learning before lunch, then practise the ukulele. Then I’ll have time to work on funded creative projects (currently music and event production) and unfunded creative projects, before then tutoring most of my students. After dinner, and on Sundays, my aim is to only do relaxing, fun things! Although, I have also started learning Turkish on Thursdays! Last night, I ended up getting this takeaway that was basically just a ready meal you had to heat up yourself! It was good, but… strange!

I did also take part in an Arvon online workshop about Performance in Communities, which involved taking these close-up images in my kitchen. On Instagram, I recently shared some books from Burning Eye Books, who unbelievably didn’t get funding and so really need people to buy books and donate! At the last check, they had about 10 copies of each of the books below, so if lots of people bought those books that’s £100 a pop between the poet and publisher.

Last week, I was very thankful to find out that my ACE application for the She Grrrowls Festival on Saturday 5th March this year has been successful! So, each day I’m working on this project a little, as well as my music project. I’ve not announced it officially yet, so this is a bit of an exclusive! Now, I just need my application to do an MA in Art Psychotherapy to go through! I don’t know whether it’s a build up of anxiety, but my skin is super itchy again, like in October. So, it’s good to be busy in the day, but by night it can be more of a struggle to stay asleep with the constant urge to scratch, even with medication! Hopefully it’ll kick in soon.

Freelance Reflections #53

Tomorrow I’m back at Between the Bridges for a special LGBT+ events, representing the bisexuals, with books including poetry about relationships with women (Circles) and men (the others). I hope I do better than last time with sales! I’ve also invested in some table clips and different display units. The weather over the weekend looks pretty average, but hopefully some sunny intervals will bring the footfall.

This week I have been thinking about what I can do to create more balance and be more fulfilled in what I do with my time. I feel like I could be close to burnout or become ill if I don’t do something different to protect my free time. After dinner, I’m going to have wind down time, meaning my language learning will be earlier in the day and alternate between Spanish and Turkish. I am also going to cut down on content writing, as it is the least fulfilling work I do, and this will allow me to actually work on the creative projects that are also work (i.e. based on funding, they are equal priority), and I even might find some time then to do the many creative things I want to do that aren’t linked to money! This will also mean I will have less time over weekends that I have to do, so I can do what I really want to do… chill out, read books and magazines, watch films, or just generally do whatever I want to re-energise!

In other news, recently I also got a bike for commutes to students, and I went out to build up my confidence. Typically and ironically, I think I did something to the gears that made the chain loose, and just after having built up the confidence to go on the road, in the pouring rain, thinking back to when I did the same whilst travelling in Laos, and as soon as I turned in towards the pavement, I skidding off the bike, and landed on my thigh and elbow. I tried to fix the chain, but I fell off again. No nobody stopped to see if I was okay, but some guy did shout out from a van, ‘What a hand?’ I saw them smirk as they drove off…

In more cheery news, this week has been very eventful in terms of social stuff too. I was in the live audience for Life & Rhymes, hosted by Benjamin Zephaniah, featuring Lemn Sissay, Salena Godden, AP Staunton, and two young poets I didn’t know about, Y.A. Poet and Simply Sayo, who were all great in their own unique ways. I also went to Crystal Palace International Film Festival on Thursday and one of my favourite films was ‘A Piece of Cake’, so I bought these silver balls as a reference when I went to see my boyfriend last night after watching ‘The Guilty Feminist Live’ at Southbank. Lastly, keep an eye out for events in Hastings, as I’ll be at the film screening on 24th and this Poetics event on 25th September.

Freelance Reflections #46

Last week was Camberwell Arts Market and despite the grey weather, it was really nice. A couple of people recognised me, which kind of made me feel like a celebrity haha. I got a few new sign-ups, sold a few books, and even got to read a few pages of a Breathe magazine! I’m considering doing a couple more stall as well. Summer seems to be a big question mark in many ways, so it might be good to do a few. You can also buy my books online.

Next up, on Sunday 4th July, I’ll be performing a new piece for children, alongside Simon Mole and Gecko, at 12pm and 3pm at Stephen’s House and Gardens in North London. I’m trying to learn my poem at the moment, and feel super nervous performing live. I’ll probably print a cheeky palm-sized copy just in case I get a mind blank. It’s the first time I’ll have performed live in over a year, though I did learn the poem for my grandad that I recorded with Muddy Feet by heart.

I also watched the film Fatherhood, which was really beautiful and Kevin Hart was fantastic in it. It was funny in places, and really touching, which is exactly my kind of film. I highly recommend it. I also recently posted up some other film recommendations from the past few months on my Instagram.

Freelance Reflections #41

This week I’ve had my energy back for content writing and tutoring, though I’ve got a horrible rash that is itchy and persistent. I’ve also been back at the gym, right in at the deep end with a 7am boxing class. I didn’t think I’d want to go back, but I do, and I’ve since been to a Soca dance class and Legs Bums and Tums. I’ve also started a low-cost therapy, and thought swimming would be good to do afterwards (though I did get stressed out being too slow for the medium lane and too fast for the slow lane!)

Aside from the usual work, I’ve also been applying for another round of funding, I’ve got a confirmed live poetry gig in July, and I’ve had a few poems accepted, with one in particular I’m really excited about coming out! This weekend I covered a creative writing workshop with a small group of children before more birthday celebrations. Sunday went super fast, so I completed a few things on my to-do list between 6pm-10:30pm after having been out in Brixton most of the day.

After a couple of orders for books, I still have plenty more stock available and have just ordered some pink envelopes especially for the ‘Circles’ book, so please do head to my Big Cartel and order a copy. If you’re feeling generous, my latest self-published pamphlet is also available, though probably won’t fit in the pink envelopes.

I’m also on 186,390 steps and need to complete 300,000 by the end of the month to raise money for Leading Lights. It’s a fantastic organisation I work for that provides social care and alternative education for those who aren’t in mainstream school. I still need to do 14-15,000 steps a day to meet the goal! If only I had been ill during the Easter holidays, this would have been far less challenging! Sunday was actually my best day so far, with 17,455 steps. We’re very close to the goal, and it would be lovely to get some messages of support on there for me too!

Freelance Reflections #34

I still feel like I’m just keeping afloat of things, and my dream for the next couple of days is to do some work today so I can have an extra-long lunch in the sun! This is definitely one of the perks of being freelance, and an example of when it can be worth scarifying some of Sunday to work.

This morning has been slow, I’ve just submitted some poetry to competitions/magazines, and I’m currently roasting some sweet potato for a Caribbean soup for lunch. I’ll try to do some content writing afterwards, but also thinking of going outside for a breather and maybe play some ping pong.

This week, I’ve attended some workshops, though the second one started whilst I was on my way back from a job, and in Sainsbury’s picking up some essentials. It’s a reminder to not do too much both in and out of lockdown. The main workshop was one by Cecilia Knapp, who I love as both a poet and facilitator.

I also watched a Zoom with Burning Eye Books (my publisher), featuring Agnes Török, Jonathan Kinsman, Laurie Eaves and a poetry film from Malaika Kegode. I thought the whole thing was fantastic, and want to re-watch the film, Wide as the Sea, which you can do online.

May be an image of 5 people

Aside from the usual work, I’ve been trying to memorise a poem I’m going to record, I hosted another Stanza feedback workshop for Forest Hill poets on Friday, and I’m really excited to edit the work, which I wrote during Cecilia Knapp’s workshop. So, creative moments are still sporadic, but by the first Monday April, I really have to change that! I can’t believe it’s spring!

Yesterday, I went on my skateboard for a few hours, had a great meal of tofu crispy bites, Korean beef wraps, courgette fritters, and bao pork buns, before watching Hamilton, which was amazing! Now my stomach is rumbling, so it’s time for me to finish the soup for lunch!

Freelance Reflections #31

I’m currently offering the chance to win a free copy of my book, ‘Circles’, and to be in with a chance of winning, you should be following me on Instagram, and then like or share this post by midnight on Sunday 7th March. Here are some pictures from the post, celebrating the journey so far, which has seen a 4-star review of the audio, and a 5-star review of the book, as well as some really lovely words that people were generous enough to share with me

Meanwhile, I’m slowly starting to get on top of things to begin my new schedule. I’d love to start next week, but it will also depend on how the weekend goes. I’ve had assessment after assessment for Borderline Personality, and I’m still not getting enough sleep, so I’m feeling very drained as I write this. Alas, the show must go on, and tonight we have a full open mic or both new and returning guests, which is sure to fill me with fire once again!

Freelance Reflections #30

So, I’m currently decompressing after the Living Record Festival finished on Monday! As well as taking part in the festival myself, I also completed a total of 11 show reviews, pretty much all in the last week of the festival. These mini-reviews will be published on The Norwich Radical soon, so you can find out some artists to follow.

Here are some final images from listeners… though rather unusually, two printed with a black background, and one listener, unable to print, drew her own version. Next, I’m hoping to record a binaural version with the Living Record, and potentially put out a more permanent version of the audio. Watch this space!

I still have over 25 copies of the illustrated poem available in book form from Burning Eye Books, signed directly from me on my Big Cartel shop. Meanwhile, I’m looking to begin a new schedule realistically by the second week of March, which will allow me to carve more space for creativity.