Freelance Reflections #54

So, I got back on the bike and have commuted using it every day I’ve gone out (except Tuesday when it was pissing it down with rain and I got an eye infection so bad I had to cancel work… misdiagnosed as conjunctivitis, but actually an eye ulcer, so I’ll have matching eye scars…) I have realised a few things about me and cycling:

  1. I enjoy going for a bike ride far more than using it as a way to commute.
  2. I’m so wary of roads now, I refuse to go on those with traffic, instead annoying pedestrians and (and annoying myself with how bumpy pavements are), so it takes me at least double the time Google says.
  3. It is only marginally quicker than walking, and I don’t even get to listen to music and podcasts.
  4. I feel so anxious before and during, that after my hands ache from holding the handlebar so tight.
  5. I feel much more visible and self-conscious than when walking, when I feel more like I’m in my own world.

Still, I’m proud of myself for trying, and I will try to use it the days I feel I can, which will likely be Monday and Wednesday. Thursday could work, but will also involve some train travel, and I’m not sure how the cycle from Sutton the the centre I work in will feel.

I’m working seven days in a row this week due to holding stalls last Sunday (pictured), where I sold just one book, and two badges… and tomorrow I’ll be at Camberwell Green’s Farmer’s Market, which is fantastic as they invite one artist a week to have a free table! The other ones were SoLo Craft Fair and I paid £60 a pop, plus the very specific and expensive insurance. Help! I spent the time writing my journal, studying Spanish and Turkish (the latter subject really hurt my head), and then spent the last hour doing this doodle. Time well spent, I suppose…

Last weekend, I bought an SE23 badge for me and two of my SE23 friends, as Forest Hill had open studios as part of Sydenham’s art festival. It was between pub one and two on a pub crawl I did with some friends, where we found a pub with amazing bao buns, and another with karaoke, which usually takes place on Thursdays. It’s my longest day, but maybe a sing-song is just what I’ll need some days. We’ll be back.

Lastly, for anyone in Hastings, I’ll be at The Electric Palace on both Friday 24th and Saturday 25th at 8pm, with the Friday being a film screening, showing my poem ‘Grandad’, amongst others, followed by a Q&A. The Saturday will be a poetry set, and it’ll be the first indoor performance in well over a year since I was doing my ‘Circles’ tour, that was halted just a few months in.

Freelance Reflections #52

I received my funding to explore music and poetry next week, so I should be starting my new blog series next week. I’ll also try to put some stuff on Instagram of me practicing the ukulele, which will be extremely bad, but hopefully I’ll be able to learn and show some progress!

Last week was the SoLo Craft Fair at Between the Bridges. I only sold two books and got some emails, which I haven’t yet put on my mailing lists even from the last stall, so I need to get on that. I also need some better displays. It looks a bit better than before, but I had a look around and will try to buy some things to better display the books. It cost a lot to get a table, not to mention the insurance, and as I still have plenty of stock, it would be much appreciated if you’re reading this, if you’d like to buy a signed copy of any of my books from my Big Cartel.

This week I’ve also had a couple of meetings about a festival day I’m producing for International Women’s Day 2022! It’s been really positive, and the amazing people at Spread the Word are happy to be a partner on the project, and I have another meeting with the venue I want to use next week, so hopefully that will go well and we can fix a date.

I went to Crystal Palace Park’s South Facing festival (Sundown Sessions) after work on Thursday and it was really incredible to see the work being done with young people. I especially enjoyed ‘Spirit of the Estate Jam’, which worked with young people from local estates to showcase their rap, spoken word, and dancing. Coming up, I have another SoLo Craft fair, exclusively for LGBT+ creators and I’ll also be heading to Hastings at the end of this month, taking part in their poetry film showcase.

Freelance Reflections #45

So, first thing I have to mention is that tomorrow I’ll be at Camberwell Arts Market on Camberwell Green selling my poetry books, merchandise and artwork. I’ll be there from 9am-5pm, so please do drop by if you’re based in London! There will be 12 stalls in total and South East London is lovely if you’re exploring the area from further afield! I’ll be attempting to do some bespoke poetry at bargain prices throughout the day. I’ll also most likely be on my own… and I have no idea how busy it’ll be, or how in demand the bespoke poems will be, so wish me luck!

As the sun was so glorious on Wednesday, I treated myself to a four-hour holiday in Beckenham Palace Park, where I was also on Sunday doing pretty much the same thing – swimming, sunning, reading and eating ice-cream. I had to leave at 3pm, and I did not want to. As I’m working all day on Saturday, I wanted to take that time out for myself, and I’m so glad I did, especially as it’s been raining since then!

Aside from work, I’m also into keeping fit… although I also love food, so like many people, I’ve put on over a stone since last August when I was at my lowest weight (a healthy weight, I believe of 9 stone, 2 pounds)! My muscle mass has gone up to, but poor portion management and too much pick ‘n’ mix has meant my body fat is a bit too much at the moment health-wise. And with high blood pressure and high cholesterol in the family, I need to be aware of this. Don’t worry, I have just ordered a new pick ‘n’ mix 1kg bag for a trip to Catford Film Festival next Friday! I need to exercise to keep me mentally stable, but food is important too, as is sleep (which I don’t get enough of). For me, it’s about a lifestyle and enjoying moving my body as well as eating what I love, without too much restriction (I am very anti-diet).

Anyway, I had a taster PT session today with my gym, and we overran because we were having such interesting chats. His boxing classes are likely to be the only thing that gets me up for a 7am start… I’m also doing around 6 workouts a week, enjoying my mix of ‘legs, bums and tums’, spin (yet to start!), swimming, SOCA (my favourite), and the occasional yoga and Pilates class. What I love about being freelance is being able to do these things that are important to me, which I may not otherwise have the time or energy for.

Freelance Reflections #43

So, I smashed my 300,000 steps goals for May, raising money for Leading Lights. You can still sponsor me and donate here. I also missed some steps when I went to play basketball and left my phone, but I recorded 307,372 steps.

I took some time off for the interment of my grandad’s ashes, and spent time with family. It was sad, but it was nice to be together finally and look back at these old photographs. I hope to visit again in the summer and reminisce some more through more photo albums.

Having had the half term break, this usually means less students for me, and I only had two, so it would be a great time to buy some of my books from my Big Cartel. Also, if you’re based in South East London, I’ll be part of the Camberwell Arts Market on Saturday 19th June, 9am-5pm. I’ll also be doing some bespoke poems there; you give the ingredients, and I’ll create a short poem for you.

I’ll also be doing my first in-person live show on Sunday 4th July as part of Simon Mole’s Poetry Picnic at Arts Depot, where I’ll be sharing a new poem written especially for children, aimed at a slightly older age range, probably between 9-13. It’s just under a month away, so I’m sure it’ll come round soon enough!

Otherwise, I’ve been keeping up walking alright, not always keeping to the 10,000 goal, but enjoying some sunsets ping pong along the way. It’s also been nice being indoors again at board game cafes, and now the sun is peeking through the clouds now and again, I’ve taken a few breaks to sit in the sun and read. I’m currently reading comedian Rosie Wilby’s The Breakup Monologues, which I’m reviewing for The Norwich Radical, so technically it’s also working. I’m really enjoying it so far.

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 #40

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 carminamasoliver@hotmail.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.