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 #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 #72

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.

If you’ve read to the end, thank you. Please consider donating or sharing my course fee fundraiser or buying some books.

Carmina’s Cantata #19

The final episodes of Carmina’s Cantata have now been published, marking the end of this project, though hopefully not the end of my journey with music, although the end of the funding. I still would love to work more on my poem-songs, collaborate with musicians and producers, and keep up with the ukulele. Meanwhile, please share this time capsule of poetry and music in 2021-2022 far and wide.

The penultimate episode features an interview with my maternal nan and grandad (I actually remember my grandad actually taught me the meaning of the word ‘penultimate’. The one with my nan came about naturally at first, then I asked if we could try to recapture what she had been talking about, with her dad having been a theatre musician. The part with my grandad was actually in response to my mum, who studied theatre at university.

The bonus episode is just me talking about music and emotions – another aspect of what drove me to pick this topic. So, if you fancy listening to me chatting about music and emotions, butchering names and technical terms from the research I’ve done, and summarising my findings and best bits, then set aside 50 minutes and enjoy!

Freelance Reflections #69

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.

Rocking my new lime green blazer

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…

Carmina’s Cantata #18

The final poet interview is out in the world, and it ends on a bang with Brigitte Aphrodite! As a lover of a good chinwag, this is also the longest episode in the series. Still to come in a special episode where we hear from my maternal nan and grandad, as well as one of me discussing the research I’m doing over the next month or so!

I’m picking up the uke when I can, and have been having a go at Taylor Swift’s ‘Love Story’. I quite like it, though I’m still struggling with getting my fingers to and from the G-chord! I’m going to have a busy summer, and hope for more days where I can spend any rest time between the busyness in parks researching with my little pile of books.

Freelance Reflections #68

So, having reached a bit of a breather with work, I’m still tutoring in the afternoons, but have more time to read. As I’m still doing my music project, I’m reading various books about music and emotions. I hope to complete my research phase by the end of July to then record and put out a bonus episode reflecting on this. I’ve finished with my Macbeth students, and after one complained other teachers would be boring, I felt very flattered!

I have tried every year to perform poetry at Glastonbury, and I am kicking myself at having missed the opportunity this year. That said, on Friday I’m seeing Green Day with Weezer, Fall Out Boy, and Amyl & The Sniffers, and then Red Hot Chili Peppers on the Sunday, so I will certainly get my music fix this weekend.

Now I’ll have this extra time next week, I may even have time to start back on a creative project… I’m not sure whether to turn my attention to my show until August, so I might see if I can work on my collection some more, which was “finished” in 2019, but I’ve written more poems for it, and want to really organise my poems better and see whether I can create multiple potential collections by organising them more thematically, in a way that will help manage submissions better too.

Carmina’s Cantata #17

Another three episodes have been released of Carmina’s Cantata, featuring Caz Smiling, Jemima Foxtrot and Antosh Wojcik. I got to visit Brighton to record with Caz, and we even had a drink afterwards at The Poets Ale and Smokehouse… it had to be done really. I caught up with Jemima in SE London, during her trip back to the UK as she is currently living abroad, and returned to the area of Camden, where Antosh and I first met as part of the Roundhouse Poetry Collective.

Just one more interview to go, I’m currently reading some books about music, making a few notes and collecting my thoughts. I’m really interested in music and emotions, so this is the focus. I’ve just finished a book by Malcolm Budd, and I’m now onto Oliver Sacks. Watch this space for upcoming podcasts – there’s still one more interview to go before a special episode, and then this bonus one where I will share my thoughts on the research I’m currently doing.

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.

Carmina’s Cantata #16

It’s been a few weeks since I posted, so three more episodes of Carmina’s Cantata have been released – featuring Belinda Zhawi aka MA.MOYO, Tongue Fu’s Chris Redmond and the multi-faceted Joshua Idehen. It was great to catch up with Belinda, who I know from BARPo days, in Chris’ episode we are treated to a live ukulele track, and Joshua’s episode is the perfect blend of humour and vulnerability.

I’ll be having my last in-person ukulele lesson today. Perhaps I will continue in future, but for now I’ll make do with what I’ve learnt so far and dedicate the time to practice. I’m finding it hard to get to the G7 chord, and my little finger keeps sticking out, but I’ve found it really helps to play songs I know and love like Hallelujah. Ooh, I’ve also started reading my music books, so I can do a bonus episode at the end about my findings!