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 #83

Do you want the good news or bad news first? Well, the good news is that I feel reassured about my work situation. After I had found out that I didn’t get the scholarship for university, it didn’t quite hit me until I had a meeting with my personal tutor, where I started crying. However, I managed to get myself into a place mentally where I wasn’t worried, and could reassure myself that the work would pick up. Either that, or the escitalopram kicking in.

Sure enough, I’m on my way to getting enough work that will mean that I should be able to live and pay my tuition fees – I’ve got more tuition work, which is mainly alternative education provision at the moment, and I’ve even got some casual work doing Lego parties for children! I’m also doing a workshop online for Apples & Snakes next week, which I’m really excited about!

However, the work is still expected to be up and down, especially given holidays, and I will still need to be on a strict cabbage budget in order to make this work. I’ll still be asking for donations to my crowdfund campaign, which recently got two big ones that will help me pay off my January fees, and I’ll still be plugging my books. Speaking of books, here’s what I read last year!

Freelance Reflections #82

So, I’ve had four/five days off for Christmas. I developed a sore throat on Christmas Day, which was the best time to get it in terms of work, as aside from travelling to Kent and back, then around Nottingham and Barnsley before heading back to London yesterday afternoon, it meant I could rest and also binge The Traitors. I didn’t think a reality show would captivate me so much, but it was really psychologically interesting, especially in terms of group influence. I was back to official paid-for work today as I’ve had a student.

Sleigh the Patriarchy Christmas jumper, new Yaks gifted from family & Xmas tree

Aside from this, I’m looking forward to a New Year as I enjoy intention-setting and the freshness of the occasion gives permission to indulge in a celebratory Chinese takeaway before a future of experimenting with various spices on lentil, chickpea, pulses, and vegetable dishes for the foreseeable future. I have an abundance of washing products, a few experiences to entertain me, and a bit of cash to get some groceries to help me with my cabbage budget now I need to save over £500 a month.

Car drive in last year’s cosy scarf

Things aren’t desperate yet as I’m just hoping the work will show up this month to make this all doable for May and onwards. Meanwhile, please donate to and share my crowdfunding campaign and buy my books etc!

Freelance Reflections #81

Things are winding down, which means I’ve been catching up with the pile of emails that had built up, and applying for more work for the new year. I’m happy that I’ve pretty much managed to save my first two instalments of tuition fees, but I will have to save £515 a month to be able to pay May’s… and then I have no idea how I will do the same for the next two years after that. I’m trying to trust the process, but the uncertainty is not ideal! I’m applying for everything I can, from poetry jobs to perfume shops… I would have liked to have things already lined up for next year, but these ups and downs are typical. The main difficulty is not having savings I can use as a safety net now and not being eligible for a loan, and so having tuition fees to pay on top of living costs.

Last Sunday one of my fellow Art Therapist trainees offered me to join them and do a stall. It was indoors, thankfully, as it was chucking it down outside. It was only a little chilly from the doors, with lots of people coming and going, but Emily helped keep us keep warm with some delicious chai. I had recently finished my butterfly, and added text: ‘nature is not perfect’ to it. I didn’t make any sales, which is always disappointing, but the organisers only charged £10 a table and Emily let me join her for free, so I’ve made bigger losses in the past!

If you’ve read this, thank you for your time, and please do donate to and/or share my crowdfund, or buy a book or two from my shop. I hope you’re able to have a restful time over the festive period!

Freelance Reflections #77

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.

To help support me as an Art Therapist Trainee, please donate here.

Freelance Reflections #71

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!).

If you are able to, please do donate and share my fundraiser, and buy some books!

Freelance Reflection #67

I’m fully feeling the anticipation of the nine weeks of TEFL work I’m doing in July (despite having started anxiety medication). Changing schools after the first six weeks, I’m hoping I’ll be less phased about going straight into a new school without a break. I feel more confident in some ways, but I can’t stand being observed and haven’t taught in this way for so long for years now! I’m doing a lot of teaching Macbeth at the moment, which is all good, but it’s also for 8 hours a week, so for the sake of my mental health, I’m giving myself a break from that before I plunge into teaching for 20 hours a week (this is all plus my regular 7-8 hours of usual tuition). So, I’m thinking about how I can balance things to make my summer as stress-free as possible. I’m thinking as much reading in the sun as possible! That’s my happy place, and where I fortunately spent part of my birthday – along with the Louise Bourgeois exhibition, eating pan-Asian food, and dancing at The Shard’s silent disco.

I’m slowly getting on top of things, but I feel sad that I’ve not been able to dedicate time to creative work. I feel inspired by so many things – I’ve seen loads of bands, including Dry Cleaning supporting Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who do spoken word over drums and guitars, which I love, and I’ve loved watching Jake Rooke’s Big Boys on Channel 4. Another peer, Bisha Ali, has also got Ms Marvel on Disney! I’m hoping I’ll be able to find balance and prioritise creativity in September… when I’m also going to be starting my MA to become an Art Therapist. Anyway, I’m hoping at least that I’ll be able to save well to pay my first year in instalments, but if I have more donations, I’ll also be able to create more… which is also a part of what the MA is about, becoming a therapist, whilst continuing your art practice.

Freelance Reflection #66

The past week, I’ve felt like my energy is properly back to pre-Covid standard. I’ve had the energy to go to all my gym classes and have taken on some extra work. I still need to get to bed earlier, but I’m setting my alarms less. I’m trying to remember that I’m in control!

I’ve got some extra work over the summer, which will not only help me live day-to-day, but it should help me save for funding my MA in Art Therapy! I’ve been getting back on the ukulele and had another in-person lesson and have realised what a difference it makes learning songs you know and like and can sing along to! I’ve released another couple of episodes of Carmina’s Cantata as well – Malaika Kegode and Dizraeli, from when I was in Bristol.

This week, my gran sent a translated poem by Anna Akhmatova. I happened to have just picked up a load of my old books from my parents’, and had the book she’d got me at hand. I found the poem, but it was a different translation, and I preferred this one my gran sent.

In other news, I’ve also been starting a few things I’ve been putting off or not got round to for a while. I’m going through notes on my notes app from 2018! It’s very long, but there’s lots of poems. I’d love to be able to get organised and make a nice spreadsheet of poems. Many are unfinished! I’ve also started doing a series of videos on mental health stuff connected with neurodiversity, BPD and being a HSP.

I went out to the park with my laptop and its tent, but it was a bit premature as it clouded over and got a bit chilly, when I had visions of being out there until sunset! Next week, I’ll have 8 hours of online tuition as well a my regular lessons, so I’ll try to make the most of any sun when I can, looking forward to my birthday next weekend!

Carmina’s Cantata #13

I haven’t written an update on Carmina’s Cantata in a while, and as I’m back to it after a bit of a break, I thought I’d write a little on what I’m doing, as well as some more general stuff. So, after the festival, I didn’t listen to my body. I had an amazing massage should have gone home to rest, but I went to the Taking Back Sunday, Alkaline Trio and Destroy Boys gig… which I’m pretty sure if where I then got Covid! Made worse by going to see Funeral For A Friend the following week! I’d gone so long without it, I even thought maybe I’d had it but been asymptomatic. It was rough. It’s the second-worst illness I’ve had (the other being a kind of relative of Glandular Fever). I’m still struggling with the fatigue and my lungs don’t feel 100% when exercising. At one point I even got mixed messages about going to A&E, but I waited until Monday to see a doctor and it turned out that I just rushed into exercise. I’m feeling super tired right now and hoping I’m getting the balance right, as it’s something I struggle with.

SHEreos of Lewisham

I’d had to cancel my poetry gigs at SHEreos of Lewisham and R.A.P. Party, but I was at least able to watch The Albany stream, where an audio of my poem I’d recorded in the day was played, and a couple of people told me that my poem was one of their favourites. It was a joy to see people dancing to my chosen tracks as well. I was able to see the SHEReos of Lewisham exhibition with my poem in it the following weekend at Crofton Park Community Library. I have also been accepted onto the MA in Art Psychotherapy at Goldsmiths. As I’m not eligible for a government loan and getting a loan to cover the full tuition is proving to be impossible, I’m trying to crowd fund as much as possible. Read about and share my journey here.

As I was trying to work out what I could do whilst still resting… I did some drawings inspired by the themes of Grayson Perry’s Art Club. I just felt weirdly guilty for watching and listening to things… though I wish I knew you could get audiobooks from the library on your phone then! It’s just so hard to manage fatigue. So, this week, I have started to work on the podcast interviews. I have finished editing the one I used for the production course I did, and after a panic that I have forgotten everything, I now know what I’m doing again.

I interviewed poet and theatre maker Hannah Jane Walker about her book on sensitivity… and just had to cut it down from over 13,000 words to nearly 5,000 words! I may have to cut it down even more, but it is taking a lot longer than anticipated. Although off-putting in some ways, I have made a note on my to-do list to use the same platform (Otterly) to write transcripts. It won’t take quite as long as I won’t have to edit it down to an article length thankfully!