One thing I am learning to accept more is that as a creative freelancer, there is always more work to be done, and it’s really important to continually work on balance, which I know I keep banging on about. Whilst things just won’t be as balanced as I want them to be this side of the New Year, I am making sure I have at least some down time and make time for friends and family. I’ve been better at managing my priorities, even though it means my language-learning is taking a backseat, so that I can just keep moving forward with the tasks that need completing before the holidays. Included in this is making time for self-care, which this week involved me reading whilst getting my roots done. I very much enjoyed the scalp massage during the shampooing, which made my hair look super shiny too.
I had to cancel and postpone some work the other week and took a Covid test (even though I knew it was just a cold and didn’t have the main symptoms). I was just exhausted and needed a day to rest… and by “rest” I just mean “work from home and not go outside”, (reminder: freelancers don’t get sick pay or holiday pay). It was a cold and rainy day, so I think it was a wise move! I’m still trying o be more self-aware and kinder to myself in that way (a nickname has been “rapido”), even just walking less fast to my students. A lot of the work I’m doing at the moment isn’t directly related to any money now, but it needs to be done. But I need to remember when trying to save by transferring money away from my current account, that my rent does need to be paid for and makes a dent in that. Here’s hoping I get that funding for the She Grrrowls festival I’m planning!
After doing well with the updates, I’m very late with this one due to a horrible cold. I’m hoping that I’ll be recovered by my birthday this Friday – my final day of antibiotics! I’ll likely keep this one short as I’ve only managed to do about an hour a day of content writing until today, when I’ve done about 3-4 hours. I’ll do some more tomorrow as I’ve had some work cancel due to my colleagues being off for Eid. It’s nice to know that I might be in Allah’s good books, especially as my partner is from a Muslim background. Hopefully it’s also a sign that their parents will like me despite being a heathen.
As I’ve had to cancel so much tutoring work in order to recover, basically having been off a whole week, losing hundreds of pounds, I would greatly appreciate book purchases from my Big Cartel. I can make a dedication of your choice and sign it if you purchase through this way. You can even PayPal me at email@example.com if you’re feeling generous! When I am feeling better, I would be happy to provide you with your very own bespoke poem for a donation of £10 or more. Remember, my latest published book ‘Circles’ from Burning Eye for £10, and I’ve also just put out a mixed media poetry pamphlet, ‘Selected Poems: 2007 – 2012’ (it’s $10, so the price is cheaper in pounds). My most recent painting, ‘Footsteps’ is also available for £200.
I’m meant to be walking 300,000 steps in the month of May to raise money for Leading Lights, so I’ll have a lot of catching up to do when I’m fully recovered! After a couple of days of celebrations, I hope to walk to Peckham for the vintage poster market and a hot chocolate at The Melange, and maybe check out some of the Dulwich Art Festival. I’ve found it very difficult being ill, and also feel I easily overwhelm myself with plans. If I’m not working, I’m doing SOMETHING. I need to learn that I really need my me-time, and the self-care on a regular basis. Rather than constantly going from work to busy activities, I need to listen to my body and my soul. I need to realise that I may need more down-time that over people, and not beat myself up about it.
There are many ways I am taking care of myself, but it’s just not good enough when you continue in bloody-minded stubbornness to pretend nothing’s wrong, and work through Sunday and most of the week thinking that honey and lemon and garlic will cure a cold without RESTING. I need to remember the time I was so badly ill with what started as a sore throat and cold that my blood cell count needed monitoring for leukemia. I get really anxious when sick because of this. Although the illness ended up being some kind of sickness related to glandular fever, it was never really diagnosed, but I know that if I don’t take more care, this is how people end up with ME. I need to give myself rest BEFORE I don’t have a choice and am sapped from energy.
Lastly (aware this has gone on longer than intended… my energy is coming back – wahey!) – poetry pal and ex-team member and co-host for She Grrrowls Ibizo Lami, is doing loads of stuff at the moment. As well as Self-Care Saturday Instagram Live sessions, a nf a forthcoming poetry publication, she’s also fundraising to bring a new show ‘Chosen Family’ as part of the Living Record’s Brighton Fringe digital programme. She’s nearly half-way and has until the end of the month to fund it, so go ahead and donate now.
Shake off your dust; rise up, sit enthroned, O Jerusalem. Free yourself from the chains on your neck, O captive Daughter of Zion.
Well, it is Easter Sunday, if there was a time for a non-believing Catholic to post a biblical quote, this would be it. As my nearest and dearest have been contemplating their religion and the meaning of life, I have been getting involved in some actual dust-shaking in poetic form.
My past scrape with an increase in white blood cells has obviously not enforced the idea of resting enough. Prone to type A personality traits, I struggled into work at Sainsbury’s and kept up with my coursework until I couldn’t take it anymore. I eventually took a day off work and missed some of my classes for my MA, and it seems I am being punished for not taking work off earlier because apparently you need to take 5 shifts off and have a doctor’s note to be eligible for sick-pay. Long story short, I’ve done some overtime to make up the hours and eventually got some Amoxicillin which I’m hoping will mean I’m fully recovered by next week.
Anyway, back to the big news! As I mentioned previously, I was chosen as a Peer Mentor for Shake the Dust, the biggest youth poetry slam the UK has ever seen (organised by Apples & Snakes). However, now Sam Riviere had to pull out, I have been promoted to being a Poet Shadow! It’s a great surprise and honour to be selected as a replacement for someone so successful. I’ll be working with Poet Coach, Ross Sutherland at The Netherhall School in Cambridge, who I remember Tom Chivers of Penned in the Margins describing as one of the hardest working poets. I’ve seen him perform a few times and had the pleasure of reading the Twelve Nudes manuscript during my internship at PITM – and in the couple of years since Ross has managed to put out two more books!
Last Tuesday I went to a professional development day for the East region at The Garage and soon discovered I personally knew/had met about half of the people involved, and the rest I (mostly) knew of a poets anyway. I did feel a bit overwhelmed at first, being surrounded by so many admirable poets, but everyone was lovely and I soon got into it and ended up having a fantastic time. I’m feeling more confident about helping out at the workshops and think that it’ll be a really great experience! I feel so lucky to be able to participate as a Poet Shadow, and although I have applied for funding for my own event in August, I will now not have to worry about the financial side as the income from my role at Shake the Dust will cover my basic budget. So, everything’s pretty good right now, just need to be feeling healthy again and have a little bit of sunshine!
Also, my Gran got me a book about Angela Carter – someone I definitely think I should have read by now and want to do in the future. I’m now reading The Great Gatsby, which is also a long overdue read! Now, off to eat some egg-shaped chocolate!