Show your workings no. 2

A couple of weeks have gone by since I released my first ‘Show your workings’ post, and the very action of writing and releasing it has helped set my mental wheels in motion.

These blog posts are a kind of behind the scenes, honest inner workings of someone running an Arts for Health social enterprise and attempting live up to all the wellbeing advice shared across our projects.

It is very difficult to separate out me from my work, which in most respects is a good thing. At the moment I’m feeling the need to simplify and for the first time ever I am drawn to writing as a way of teasing out and sharing how it’s all going.

Right now, I am up in Scotland on holiday for the week with my two greyhounds Mabel and Storm. Actually, this is both a holiday and a recce, because Scotland is where I want to be living and working in a couple of years time.

Something I love about going away is trying to take only what I need and I’m getting quite good at it, it’s the dogs who have too much stuff! Minimalism is something of real interest to me, coupled with the design quality elements of the Arts and Crafts movement.

When I’m packing I start thinking about James Bond. You never see him with a travel iron in the background, routing around in the bottom of an over stuffed bag for the second half of a matching pair of socks, do you.

Whilst here, and in a space with relatively few personal belongings to distract, I have been thinking about how to further simplify when I get back. The Minimalists and plenty of others have been an inspiration for a good few years now and my home is making its way nicely towards being simple, creative and functional. I earn slightly more than I need to live on at the moment, so anything ‘spare’ is being ploughed back in to my home – a terraced house that needed a good dose of love injecting back in to it.

In the last three years I have tried and tested ways of applying that order and simplicity to my work knowing that it is just not possible to be all things to all people and still work at a level of quality. By building in time to stop, step back and reflect, the times small sections of the simplicity scaffolding are at risk of falling away are much more manageable than ever before, but there’s still room for improvement. As I write these posts I’m sure I’ll want to share more of the practicalities; the nuts and bolts of what exactly it is that’s working, not working, work in progress. Right now, that feels slightly outside of my comfort zone, but that’s part of the point of starting to write and share. Stick with it. I know I will.




Show your workings no.1

Today sees the start of a different type of blog post from me.

See what you think …

As a child I was always rearranging my bedroom. Dragging furniture around on a Saturday afternoon gave a fresh perspective and renewed vigour, if you can have renewed vigour aged 12.

That feeling of wanting to reshape, refresh, reinvigorate and restore has never left me and over the last couple of years I’ve found new ways to embrace it in work and in life. I’ve not perfected anything, and I’m not sure I ever want to completely tick that challenge off the list; it’s one for life, to be tweaked and tailored through every new adventure and challenge.

If you’ve come across me before, you’ll know I spend a lot of time in supermarket car parks thinking about things … everything. It’s my safe space, parked at a distance, vaguely observing the hum drum of daily life, letting the filing cabinet that is my mind do some sifting and sorting.

Well, it feels like time to make the next step, or maybe let’s call it ‘a next step’, because I’m not 100% sure what it is yet, but I do know I might burst soon if I don’t do something about all these ideas and feelings building up and vying for my attention.

I have promised myself (say it out loud and write it in a blog post so it actually happens) that in December and January I will take some time out to work on what’s next and I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to that. There are some things I want to do in the lead up to that time too.

Running a social enterprise is tough. It’s an emotional rollercoaster and more often than not I wish there was a pause button because as much as I love every bit of what I do, it’s FULL ON, all the time. That might suit some people, but I know I need space, I need time away from everyone and everything to be the best I can and offer the best I can to all those Beauty and Utility Arts works with.

So, I thought I would share this part of the path with anyone who is interested. The other day a friend said the words ‘lifestyle business’ to me and those two words have bounced around my head ever since. That’s exactly what the aim is, to incorporate this new understanding of just how crucial reflection and simplicity is to my work and life and see if it can somehow impact on them both.

I’ve decided to call these posts ‘Show your workings’ because this is going to be about working through, sharing and testing some findings and tools I’ve already come across and those I’ll will hopefully find along the way.

Time to put the kettle on now and set the wheels in motion, so catch you soon.