The Life Equivalent Of Being In Between Haircuts

It’s Saturday before half-term. I am in flux.

2019 is definitely an in-progress year. While that applies to all of them to an extent, I am putting a lot of things in place – new routines, goals, thoughts even – that will look amazing a year from now, but are rather unremarkable at present. Examples?

I’m writing this blog because I miss writing, and I’m unwilling to wait for it until I figure out what exactly the writing should be. I just hope that when I do, this burgeoning writing habit will serve me to achieve it!

I started swimming again, or more precisely realised my dream and signed up for a swimming class. It is absolutely awesome and my delight at being in water is only growing. On the flipside, I’m only three classes in: all the benefits of this habit (except the immediate unbridled joy!) will be visible on the other side of 12 months or so…

I have a job with a pension. What that means, exactly, is something I need to investigate – I always found these things rather overwhelming, but it’s time to bite the bullet and understand them. There are also financial routines being organised. I have binders with invoice print-outs. No, really.

In addition to sorting out my physical health (which, next to swimming, features physiotherapy, blood tests and a fearsome-looking foam roller), I am doggedly pursuing better mental health. I try to rest more (whatever that means), be careful about creating and maintaining mental health routines and manage my news exposure.

I am (kind of) (sort of) (maybe) growing my hair (a bit). It’s a strange, reluctant feeling. I don’t look like me anymore. I’ve changed on some deep level and I feel the need to reflect that in my hairstyle. I am a bit uneasy with it; not yet sure whether I like that brand new me… but exploring this new instinct the way a dog sniffs at an unknown object.

Perhaps the whole summary could be that I’ve changed and I’m trying to keep up with it.

Setting boundaries is a thing – particularly with myself. Sorting out how much I am able to work; how much I am able to own in terms of physical objects before I get overwhelmed; how much I can achieve, especially if I narrow down the amount of the decisions I make on the daily basis… all of this doesn’t happen spontaneously, it is legitimate painstaking work.

For all of that, I feel content with my life. It is small at present, but mine to own, mine to design. I may be an anxious human, prone to distraction and trying to do everything at once, but I’m also capable of learning. I am done with frustration, a feeling that has defined majority of my adult life: I’m finished being unhappy with who I am. The question isn’t what I could have achieved if things were different: it is what can I achieve exactly as I am.

How To Rest: Role Models Wanted

It is another weekend and I’m trying to rest.

It’s not going so well. Weekend is traditionally a work event for me. I do my artistic work, I work as a quizmaster on Sundays… gigs and catching up on admin, not to mention housework, are the name of the game. I also tend to see The Gentleman Caller on weekends (okay, totally borrowing the name off Captain Awkward…. I’ll write about naming confusion another time). Overall, weekends tend to be low on me-time and high on “clean up debris of the week/write some invoices”-time, with a date or a gig thrown in the mix. And I keep realising that this resting thing… I don’t know how.

There are articles on this. How millenials have to manage diverse career portfolios as well as actually survive, which – coupled with a capitalist outlook in which you should be productive at all times, and our constant connectivity (email 24/7!) – cause us to be in work mode basically every second. So that, plus my current model of life and work is a “muggle job” and my creative career and you can tell how that would mean some overtime. And all artistic role models I have ever followed tend to say the same thing, which is: YOU BETTER WORK. WORK HARDER. WORK HARDER THAN ANYBODY HAS EVER WORKED. And oh my god, I want to. But I might need some rest.

Over the years, I have tried several different types of work, creative and not. I feel the need to take some time and figure out what it is that I should be doing to survive and thrive. Has Beyonce ever taken a year off to Find Herself? I don’t actually know. I do know that my body has finally rioted, so I need to prioritise workouts and physio; my mind is not far behind, hence media fasts and getting recommendations for therapy; and every time I try to rest, I default to reading something on the screen, or doing more work (conversely, I often procrastinate when I HAVE to do work, which leads me to believe that I’m tired). I tried to take a nap the other day, it was so unnatural. I used to really enjoy drawing with a friend, but these sessions tapered off, and whenever I try to do anything like that, I get attacked by guilt because I’m Not Being Productive. There seems to be no way out of it.

I don’t mean to sound all that hopeless. But this mythical beast of Work/Life Balance seems exactly that, mythical. How do people do this? Some days I move seamlessly from one kind of work to another and it’s kind of nice that way – I’ll do housework, than admin, then cooking and I feel like I achieved something by the end. Other days, especially when I go to work for 8 hours (well, I leave 7.30 and come back 6 pm or later), it’s very hard to do anything more. I want to instill habits in myself – meditation, exercise, cleaning, frequent writing…. so far all I managed is a weekly blog. Which is a start.

Or maybe I’m just too tired? It’s hard to tell. So far, 2019 has seen me reduce sugar intake and increase exercise (hello, weekly swimming classes, how nice to see you), as well as change my contract from fulltime to 4 days a week. I quit one quiz. I hardly ever gig (and I miss it…). But I still feel the need to take time, to rest. What would it take for this life of mine to actually function? I have no answers yet.

My Month Off Media: Final Thoughts

Today is the day! It is time I end my media fast. It brought me some interesting thoughts that I’d like to share with you.

  1. Down with Facebook! I found that I like not being on it quite so much. Letting the notifications pile up allowed me to see them for what they are: work for an online corporation that I put in for free. While I very much enjoy keeping in touch with friends, it has been useful to challenge my Facebook habits and I think I will keep this mode of more distanced engagement.
  2. Less emotional upset. Thanks to my media fast I read less articles, political and otherwise. While I always enjoyed reading such content, in recent months I realised that it was taking a toll on my emotional state. The endless arguments on Twitter definitely raise my blood pressure and the Someone Is Wrong On The Internet syndrome is something I am happy to do without. So while I still read the odd article, there is less of it and I’m able to choose to engage, rather than devouring the contents of my timelines.
  3. Really missed Netflix. Chilling with an episode of something Netflix-adjacent is definitely my preferred mode of relaxation. I also have favourite YouTube channels that I have craved! Having said that, when I was approaching burnout in the last months of 2018, watching this stuff functioned as a brain candy of sorts: it would help me not think about the immediate problems, but wouldn’t solve any of them. Disengaging has been helpful.
  4. Haven’t read many books. I found that relaxing with an actual book is a thing I struggle to let myself to do. Somehow doing stuff on the screen, even if I’m reading, feels more like work and therefore more “allowed”? That feeds into a bigger phenomenon of giving myself permission to rest and switch off. The things I did read, I ended up bingeing, disrupting my sleep schedule. I sense that my next project will be devoted to my relationship with the written word.
  5. Listened to some podcasts and albums. I didn’t have time to listen as much as I wanted to, but I definitely enjoyed listening to a curated album or playlist (although I had to be offline for that, even Spotify Premium sneaks in recommendations, thanks very much!). I also ventured into listening to podfic (podcast of a fanfic) and very much enjoyed that.
  6. Paid close attention to my favourite newsletters. It was pretty good to actually read those; I signed up for newsletters to learn things and it feels good to follow through on that!
  7. I learnt how to use Pixlr, a new photo editing app. Which is kind of fun, but I know I did it because I wanted something to do on my phone…. screen-free time is definitely a work in progress!
  8. I wrote some fun poetry! It was definitely easier to write it in the first week of the challenge, but poetry has happened and there are plans for more of it… .
An image of Rita staring into the camera seriously, with a provocative tilt to her head. The picture is creatively overexplosed and colourful, Rita is wearing red lipstick, a black top and necklace and a red furry sweater that serves as a wrap.
I was desperate for something to do on the Tube!

Somewhere along the way, I did my taxes, had friends over for a vegan brunch and turned thirty two: my life hasn’t suffered from my media intake choices, I just filled my time differently. I managed to make some important life decisions such as scaling back on work and choosing to focus on certain creative projects over others. Still ahead of me: citizenship debacle, not to mention Brexit itself. But for now, I will try and relax. It’s my birthday weekend, there is a certain someone who will cook me dinner tonight and my media fast is officially over. I’m not guaranteeing anything, mind you – but it might be time for Netflix and chill… .

From Borderline Burnout To Something Like Satisfaction

This story begins sometime not now.

I’m not sure when it started or what are its actual ingredients. But the symptoms have persisted through the years. That is, I may be bad at resting. Or maybe: my priorities can be really out of whack. Or maybe: if I can’t summarise it, I can’t tell it fully. But I can tell you the results.

Last two months of 2018 were the hardest ever, workwise (aside from first two months of 2018, but that’s a separate story). I had two shows, two pub quizes per week, an emotionally and physically demanding full-time job with autistic children and my own artistic practice. Rather tellingly, all the work I was doing required being very Out There for other people: whether I’m hosting a pub quiz or working in the school, there is always an audience that I perform for. And I love that; it plays to my strengths. And yet.

Above me in the shows: Behind The Scenes at Studio Mandelbrot (a charming improv sci-fi set in alternative 70s) and Snow Q (a blend of fairy tale, poetry and performance art, in which I was the solo actor). I loved doing both of those!

There are people who routinely work 70-hour weeks. I have the greatest respect for those people and I presume that it takes a unique combination of endurance, determination and balance in creating efficient work routines as well as building in self-care. This is something I understand in abstract, but when it comes to work, I just expect myself to take everything on and excel. To make this more complex, I really do enjoy a demanding, fast-paced environment: I cook lunches and organise myself ruthlessly and – thrive. But in the last months of 2018 things got out of control: my motivation was flickering, I was angry, sad and got sick all the time. I kept trying to rest; I reserved Wednesday evenings for soothing baths; I refused social invitations, because between quizes and rehearsals I was out way too much – but I was also missing my friends and had no time to see them. All of these attempts were too little, too late. I was hoping that I’d rest during Christmas, but despite a wonderful holiday I came back to work with a sense of doom and unhappiness.

And so I had to deal with it.

First week back to school I asked for risk assessment for my injury – something I postponed, because the injury didn’t seem very serious and me being put on risk assessment would put pressure on the rest of my team. I followed this by three days of sickness absence and a decision to go from full-time to four days a week. I quit one of my two pub quizes. I quit the improv team I was heavily involved in. I started quitting things left and right, and saying “no” to more things cropping up. I quit media (as you know if you read my previous posts), I quit reading about politics especially, I quit trying to make all of my art projects at the same time. I quit, I quit, I quit. And then I quit some more.

There is more to it, of course. I have injuries that needs physiotherapy and general dealing with. I’m in my thirties now, which seems like a good time to get some spine muscles and improve my posture: I will likely keep that spine for next 30-50 years, so it’d be nice to maintain a decent user experience. My mental health could also use a tune-up – another thing that I’ve been postponing, but inevitably will need more if I don’t look at it sooner rather than later. All these things require time and effort and I had to make space for them.

And there is British citizenship – something I keep being scared about and need to do research on. Miraculously, my tax return actually affords me the money to pursue it. I hope that’s a sign of some sort.

So what now? Last week was my first week on a 4 day contract. On Friday I slept in, did some admin and went on a date to a museum and to see a show. Saturday was taxes, Sunday – brunch with friends and quiz. I try not to worry about citizenship, if only because it won’t help. I think twice before accepting any invitations, but also have more energy to be social as well as some actual time to enjoy London. Chances are I’ll be earning less: on average this move cost me some serious money that I hope my freelance work will absorb a little. But overall, I am happy: my personal life is thriving, I have plans to finish a play this year and maybe learn how to apply to Arts Council. I found some small satisfaction in things being as they are. I keep reminding myself to enjoy it.

A mostly vegan brunch: large frying pan with chickpeas, a smaller one with tofu, also olives, hummus, tomatoes, guacamole, goat cheese (non-vegan), fruit, tea and several mugs. All set on a table with some feet/legs visible around.
May 2019 include more brunches with nice people!

My Phone Is Boring. Also Brexit Sucks

Okay, it is time to admit it: I started to miss social media. My phone, aside from the “call” and “text” functions (okay, and WhatsApp) seems like a glorified clock. Well, I do still use the camera. But anytime I take my phone, I might look into the browser (there are things that I might read Someday, there), I can clear some data, take a selfie and check emails… and then I run out of things to do. It is not a little eerie that a thing that used to occupy many of my precious HOURS is now seemingly useless.

A grinning selfie of Rita wearing a cowlneck sweater standing in a white walk in wardrobe with a steel pole for hangers shining above her.
Here is one I took in a hotel wardrobe in Peterborough. It’s a long story.

But here is the one thing I don’t miss: Brexit. Even with my limited media intake at present, trying to actively avoid knowledge of it while preparing for its eventual presence, it is ubiquitous. Friends send links; my radio/alarm clock device talks about Theresa May with relish while I blearily try to get my bearings in the morning; randomly picked up newspapers share that David Cameron bought himself a cottage to write his memoirs. Nice job if you can have it, I suppose.

A cutout of a small article from a Tube newspaper with a picture of visibly older David Cameron, captioned "I'd promised; David Cameron yesterday" and the following text: "The 52-year-old has kept a low profile since standing down and has bought himself a £25000 shepherd's hut, with sofa bed and wood burning stove, in which to write his memoirs at the family home in the Cotswolds". There is also a cut off headline: "(I have no) regrets over calling (the referendum). I do regret result."
David Cameron doesn’t regret the referendum. How nice for him.

The word on everybody’s lips appears to be… Brexit (sung to Chicago’s “Roxie”, of course) and while I understand why, I’ll admit to being weary. I would like to be more of an activist, and when I rebuild my mental health and good online habits, I will likely look into pragmatic and not-burnout-threatening ways to engage; however right now self-care and showing up at a heavily understaffed workplace (my current line of non-artistic work attracts a lot of immigrants…) take up all available energy and time. I am doing small things, like cooking and essential oil baths, and bigger things – like applying for festivals and figuring out my artistic plans; I might, at some point, resurrect F*cking European as it is undoubtedly timely. What I refuse to do is be buried in a news avalanche. I have good sleeping habits; I intend to keep those.

A Vispring Luxury Beds ad, featuring a beautiful king size bed with a blue decorative throw and a tagline "Don't let Brexit keep you awake at night/Sleep well. Live better."
This is an ad in a free Tube “style” magazine, usually safely devoid of political matters. Now they have political mattresses.

For now, three weeks in this self-imposed fast, I find myself reflecting on the power of boundaries – a topic that has been more and more relevant of late. In trying to consciously engage, I have refused to be drawn into the information miasma, refused to be swallowed by the clickbait monster. In the attention economy, I am hoarding my precious currency, mostly because – tired as I feel – I want to spend every penny on things that matter. In this last stretch to Brexit, many things matter less… and things that used to be less important matter more. Example: I take joy in throwing things out and arranging them to my satisfaction: it’s a physical representation of the streamlining process that my life is currently undergoing.

A square Ikea container with dividers, stuffed with socks and underwear, all stored vertically.
Marie Kondo would be proud.

I discovered of late that while I could go to Berlin or Warsaw and start everything anew, I value the life I made; I have found friends, career and love here; I want to stay. Working towards a sustainable life that would allow me to do that occupies a large portion of my attention. It feels terrifying and vulnerable to admit that much; to be attached; to be at the mercy of Home Office in this way. But that’s the way my path seems to lie. I’ll tidy socks, make a freezer dinner and start learning for the Life In The UK Test. At least my pub quiz career has given me some preparation…. and while I live the uncertainty, I don’t know how to finish this post. It’s hard to say that I am purely hopeful; but I’m being pragmatic and taking care of myself. As per site policies, right now that is good enough.

Being Off Facebook: Good, Bad And Tedious

First of all, let’s get this out of the way: yes, I will publish this post on my Facebook, so feel free to chuckle at the irony. All done? Good.

I don’t know why I called the post that when the results are mostly good. Turn of phrase, really. It’s my blog, so there.

It’s been a week since I went off my social media (mostly) and while that doesn’t seem like much, I know for a fact there are people for whom that’s a long time – and that I am one of them. I used to get offline at my Mum’s, as she steadfastly believes WiFi is harmful to the brain and refuses to get one (there is a USB modem), but nowadays the data on my British phone costs the same within EU; so I didn’t get offline this Christmas. Sadly. I guess I had to fix that!

A selfie of Rita gazing at the camera with a half-smile while wearing a pink bowtie with navy blue polka dots and a black top.
Christmas: didn’t get offline, did get a bowtie. Worth it!

What changed with going offline?

  1. I was calmer right away. My job(s) carry considerable tensions on their own (I work in a special school as well as being a self-employed artist), so any stress reduction is very, very welcome. I expected that would happen, but not the extent.
  2. I missed Instagram soonest. I guiltily flicked through during first two days of this media fast, turning it on for two seconds and then switching it off. On the flipside, I’ve been taking more pictures, even though I can’t post them!
  3. I got lonely! I called my Mum a lot this week, definitely more than usual, I also reached out to my brother and friends. And even though I listened to podcasts before, now they’re a voice that I’m inviting into solitude. When my flatmate was away, I was putting the music on very loudly to chase the feeling away.
  4. Books! My book reading habits made a slow reappearance. Missing the written word and the information is definitely A Thing. I also read my favourite newsletters with more focus (Mark Manson and Frugalwoods currently, if you were wondering).
  5. Feelings! Whenever I experience discomfort I have to deal with it like a grown human because There Is Nothing To Do On My Phone. Only so much email I can read. Although sometimes I can lose myself in some photo editing, but it’s not an obsessive or frequent activity. So when things feel Not Good, it has to be journaling or meditating or exercise or talking to another human or any other way of Dealing With It (spoiler alert: also been cutting processed sugar, so not eating my troubles just now).
  6. Poetry. I started leaving for work a bit early, just so I can get a seat on the Tube and write some poems. I probably wrote more poems this week than in the last six months or so. Having a dedicated time and a lack of other options decidedly helps. I also managed to write down some comedy monologues – if you open the door, things come in!
  7. Productivity has benefitted, no question. Recently I applied for an artistic residency four (FOUR) days before the deadline. For a person like myself, who is no stranger to frantically pressing “send” at 23.59 before the deadline turns the potential application into a pumpkin-flavoured disappointment, that is a Big Thing.
  8. I’m making other changes. It’s January and I have a couple of important months ahead of me. Can I obtain British citizenship or is it too late? Can I stay in my current employment or is it not feasible? I have already made some decisions on several fronts, and I usually tend to procrastinate over those while Scrolling Through Stuff. The New Year’s energy likely helps (new beginnings!), but so does the clarity of not having the online escape.
  9. My brain has slowed down. That is a good thing. My brain usually straddles the line between “lightning fast” and “all the directions, all at once”, and then it beats itself to death with its own grey matter. I never ever want to take cocaine, for Reasons.
  10. I’m up-to-date with most housework. I have reasonable amounts of dishes to clean, and while the laundry isn’t folded, it has been done regularly and properly. I’m hardly perfect in that respect, but…. it’s been easier.
A picture of a lunchbox filled with cooked salmon on bed of rice, with visible sugar snaps, broccoli and cherry tomatoes.
This is some serious foodporn, amirite

I do miss my social media, but there is a strange satisfaction in holding off checking them. I even went on Facebook event pages a couple times when there was no other way, copied the hours and address and exited without scrolling through my timeline or checking anything. Guess resistance can feel good… Maybe it is a little tedious, stopping myself every time I would have accessed the easy pleasure of reading through people’s lives (and links!). But so far the results have been worth it.

I have as of this writing 72 notifications on my Facebook. I wanted to check it today as I’ll have little time tomorrow, but maybe should hold out for a hundred…?

I’m Going Offline! Well, Kind Of. Mostly.

My name is Rita. I am a solo artist.

There is a chance you knew this about me. I do solo shows: comedy, mostly, often with swear words in the titles, but also theatre and poetry (got something cooking right now!). As a solo artist, the only way to work with others is when I get cast in somebody else’s work, or when I hire someone. So most of the time, I work alone.

I. Can. Not. Get. Stuff. Done. For The Life Of Me. And if you tell me that I do, I’ll rephrase: I get Some Stuff Done, Sometimes. The ideas/creation ratio is deeply, deeply unsatisfactory.

fuck-it-instagram
Me in 2017, swearing in my first show’s title.


Facebook and their compatriots put some serious work into reprogramming my brain. I will humbly admit that I may be on the susceptible end of the spectrum: I like to read, I’m procrastination-prone… I was made for loving you, baby…! (Internet). My intense reading habit – something my family spoke with half-admiration, half-exasperation when I was a child – has shifted online almost completely. I’ve been paying library fines for about 6 months, because I do, in fact, want to read those books about history of hip-hop and British class system (two different books, though that would be a fun read….). Bottom line, I NEED TO STOP BEING ON-LINE, PRONTO.

Am I deleting my Facebook account? No. Not that simple.

As an artist, I need an Online Presence. As a human, I enjoy easy access to my friends and finding out about events I might attend. Overall, I can’t be fully offline – I have work that comes via email, I have things that need to be promoted. Rather than disappearing, I want to show up consciously, when I have someting to say.

So what I’m choosing to do is, from 4 January for about a month, get on Facebook once a week – to publish a blogpost. Twitter and Instagram will also benefit from my blogging, but that will be the extent of it; there will be no Netflix, YouTube or NowTV. I even plan to download albums off Spotify, so that I can remain offline from it, too.

I’m leaving my burgeoning podcasting habit alone. I tend to clean when I listen to podcasts, so that makes them good in my book.

Will it be worth it? Will it, as I hope, shift my focus a bit?

I have a lot of work on my plate this month – completing my tax return for one. It will definitely be interesting to see whether I feel any different or function better. For now, I invite you to hang out with me as I’m trying this thing out. The next post might be all about my favourite YouTube shows, just because I’ll miss them…!

#TimeToTalk – #BreakTheSilence on mental health


It’s Thursday morning and anxiety is being a bit of a bitch. I slept badly – too cold, rough dreams – and struggle to make myself do things. I talk myself through it – through shower, nice breakfast, a bit of calming exercise – but I still fail at time management. I’m late. A bit mad with myself. Make that very mad. I don’t know what to do. 

I’m late to a very nice workshop that I attended last week too. It’s made for and by refugees and free (donations for food) and it makes me feel conflicted. Those familiar with my situation know that I’m not earning much and haven’t been for a while. It might change soon (fingers crossed), but doing anything nice that isn’t a gig (or otherwise directly career-related) makes me feel guilty. Nevermind that if I want to help refugees, here is the thing I can do – donate time, attention, workshop-leading skills and some English language conversation. So on top of all these feelings now I have being late, which is a particular emotional bruise – I’d say trigger, but who knows what could crawl out of the depths of the Internet to accuse me of being a snowflake? – and so, I struggle. To go or not to go.

After provoking an argument with one of my nearest and dearest (argument that didn’t need to happen, only I was so mad) I sit down with myself and hash out a solution. I’ll go to the very end of the event. Then I’ll have shown up but I’ll sidestep being late AND still
leave the house. The mental labirynth required here is still better than curling up with my phone, reading about politics for the rest of the day. I curled up for about an hour an a half, but it’s still a win.

This blog, Good Enough Diary, is a bit of an homage to writer’s block – after all, suffering writer needing something to kickstart
creativity is a figure we’re all familiar with. It’s harder to admit that I likely suffer from some species of anxiety mixed with previously diagnosed moodiness and depression. When I’m low, going out of the house is hard – but being around people tends to make me feel better. Conversation, speaking out, expressing – those things make me feel better. And yet it’s so hard to say this, what I’m saying now. It is so very hard. Yes, I have suffered from depression, but I don’t like even saying that. So many people have worse problems, worse bouts. I’m not self-harming, my self-neglect tendencies are presently manageable (mostly I tend to go the other way, making healthy food and such) and people with “real” problems would laugh me out of the door.

Except what is real? And why do I invalidate my own reality?

I’m currently on a no sugar diet (health-related), but if I’m not – an argument with my partner could be a box of cookies, or binge watching a show. I enjoy both of those things, but they can be abused as well. Externalising emotion, guilt, blame – and on top I’d rather say that I’m fine. English culture is not helping here – does anyone ever expect an honest answer to a “How are you?”. I don’t like to complain and when I’m sad, being candid feels like laying my problems at someone’s feet.

There, I’ve said it. Not all. People who know me as a chatterbox could likely be shocked by the presence of hidden depths. I talk a lot, but there are things held back, too. Things I’m scared to talk about, or reluctant. Ashamed. Like when I’m late or cancel, caught up in my brain, I often make a story up because I can’t bear to admit I’m feeling too low to struggle through the door. Or how I numb feeling by reading too much. Or eating, or watching. You throw stuff at feelings you don’t know how to deal with. I’m not alone in this strategy but it feels like I am, sometimes.

I’m reading a number of wonderful books (Brene Brown is a particular favourite) that make me realise that my problems are legitimate and I’m adding to them by my silence. By self-shaming. Well, I’m talking now. My problems are real, but their weight wouldn’t be so heavy if I wasn’t ashamed, if I didn’t feel alone, if I wasn’t scared that they make me unlovable. And I am a person with a significant support network. So if you’re reading this, please know that I love you and am grateful for you, just my brain was not socialised to treat me well.

We’re retraining, brain and I.

So now it’s time to apologise for the missed workshop. And later a friend will WhatsApp from Italy – she’s somebody with whom I can talk about all this. And it’s important, people – because you need to hear the right message again and again if it’s to stay in your brain, especially if your default setting is the opposite. If you’re set up for shame, guilt, invalidating your own emotion – if you can’t deal with sadness or anger or disappointment other than burying it under sugar or alcohol or Facebook – there can never be too many times to hear that you’re alright, you’re valued, you’re allowed to speak out.

Beautiful people, love yourselves. Learn to, slowly. Patiently. Time to talk. Time to talk. Time to talk.

Patreon: I Will Fail To Start With, That’s Fine (also, I Did The Show!)

So I HAVE DONE MY ONE WOMAN SHOW OH MY GOD.

Deep breath, now.

It’s awesome. The turnout was good (I feel incredibly privileged there, recently saw an Edinburgh preview that was EMPTY….) and the feedback better. There are messages on my phone from people who really wanted to come and couldn’t – whether politeness or genuine desire, I’ll find out next time I do the show!

There WILL be a next time. Meanwhile, I used the fact that I was already doing something scary and attached another scary thing to it: a Patreon account.

You might not know about Patreon. It is basically an online patronage system when you regularly support an artist – not like a one-off Kickstarter, more like… a coffee per month.

So, I  launched my Patreon. And… nothing happened.

Yet.

***

The thing with Patreon is that it is extremely deliberate. It requires a vision of yourself as an artist, a business, a service-provider – but also a person in a relationship with other peple. It humanises the business – you are in touch with nice people who want to personally support you – but it also makes your art something worthy of payment and attention. If you have hang-ups anywhere in this process, whether subconsciously fearing attention or struggling with the business model, the Patreon might not work.

For me the problem is being consistent (I switch media all the time, which doesn’t offer an overarching artistic narrative!) as well as business-related. But at the same time, it is so fun to figure out all the ways to be genuinely nice to people who want to support you, your art and message! And so I’m really, really okay with failing to begin with. Patreon gives me a medium, through which I can sort out my relationship with both art and audience. And eventually, it will give me a way of creating independent art, without fighting for commissions. It’s worth failing, worth putting the work in. I’m
looking forward to that… .

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