Welcome to the side hustle

I suspect I don’t look like the ‘usual’ person who opts for flexible working. I’m not a mother, other than to my two adorable little cats of course. I don’t have any caring responsibilities, other than to myself. I’m now a Director so I’m in a senior role at work but still ‘climbing the ladder’, and I’m also not formally studying.

But over the past few months, two things have changed that led me to ask for flexible working as part of taking a new role. The first is that my emerging sense that the traditional model of work just isn’t working – which I have blogged about a bit before – has really taken hold. I don’t love a 9 to 5. I’m not a morning person and I operate poorly on short sleep, which really struck home when I read Matthew Walker’s brilliant book ‘Why We Sleep’ (see ‘In defence of night owls’). I also like some more flexibility in my routine, be it to do a yoga class at 8am, to attend an interesting day-time event or simply to complete the never ending cycle of chores that come with having a home.

The second is the realisation that my day-job isn’t my only passion and it doesn’t provide me with my full purpose in the way it did in my twenties, when I was quite frankly a complete workaholic and also completely fulfilled – for the me at that age – by my full time job. It doesn’t necessarily mean I enjoy my work any less, but I do want time to explore other interests. I attended an incredible women in leadership summit recently called Reach, founded by Sky Sports presenter Sarah Stirk, and quite a few of the eighty-odd women who attended had a side-hustle. They loved their careers but they had other things too. I was inspired.

So, other interests. I am increasingly fascinated by the world of digital healthcare, and recently decided I wanted to start volunteering at a hospital to get some hands on experience and give back. There’s also an exciting new project that has come my way – which I will keep quiet about while its being formed but watch this space…. Plus I want to give my writing some more consistent dedicated time. So all in all quite a few things I want to try on the side and see which ones stick.

I have been trying to write whilst working full-time but its not really been working for me when I’m confined to evenings and weekends (see earlier point about not being a morning person; no pre-work writing for me). So I realised if I wanted to try side-hustling properly I needed to try a different kind of sacrifice and make the time. Hence the four day week.

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Be sure of your aim and never miss your mark

Building on last night’s post, I can feel a whole flow of dharma related posts coming on. Consider yourself forewarned.

Today we went to the park at lunch, to sit on the grass and be in the sun. My meditation stroke web master employee was there and he shared a lovely Japanese story about not worrying about things we can’t control. I told this story that our yoga teacher shared last week, which struck a beautiful chord.

Krishna and Arjuna are talking before the battle. A bird flies over and tweets for mercy; her nest has fallen, baby birds and all, right into the middle of the battlefield, and would be crushed as soon as the fighting began. According to one telling Arjuna empathises but simply says she must accept her fate. I liked our telling where he waves her away, still young and a little foolish and focused on Krishna’s telling, ignorant to the bigger message she was chirping, whilst Krishna listens on in silence.

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Morning Ritual #1

A collection of my daily gratitudes from recent weeks:

  • Serenity, new sobriety, serendipity and signs
  • Fresh coffee and my cats
  • The courage to choose, choosing to stand in the sun
  • My spirit and my soul
  • Re-discovery of the healing power of sleep, another great night’s sleep
  • Being unconditionally loved and being lucky enough to have and be making such wonderful friends and family that I can connect with and completely love
  • My dear friend’s toddler Leo for showing Auntie Alex the best time!
  • Being brave
  • Feeling, connecting and my heart’s healing
  • Vulnerability
  • Waking up excited for work – the people, the challenge, the pace, the creativity, the ability to change and to solve
  • Learning to reach out, speak up, ask for help
  • Finding my real life human butterfly (this story will come at some stage!)
  • Discovering new writers and writings – especially my newly found favourite poet Nikita Gill, two of her’s for today:

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Magnificent Majeka Hotel, Stellenbosch 

It was summed up it perfectly when, as I commented on yet another thing at Majeka House that I wanted for my house, the reply was ‘you want lots of things here for your home!’

Perhaps a few less pigs (the owner Karine apparently has loved pigs since she was a child and has filled the hotel with an assortment of pigs of all shapes and sizes). I like a pig, but I’m personally an elephant woman through and through, as my growing collection attests to. But apart from that, yes, I did basically want everything about the interior design at the stunning Majeka House hotel in Stellenbosch, South Africa.

From Kartell Louis Ghost chairs to the bright electric blue garden furniture, it’s no wonder that Majeka House was crowned Best Design Hotel, Africa and the Middle East, in the Condé Nast Johansens Awards for Excellence 2017. I only left yesterday and I’m already missing its beauty.

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Happy Christmas, from your local Planning Department

So in terms of a 2015 New Year’s commitment to blog about building my dream house, I think the fact that my last post was 21st February is pretty solid evidence that I failed miserably! In my defence, no-one ever really keeps their New Year’s resolutions, and its fair to say that 2015 has been a more eventful and busy year than I was expecting, including not one but two new jobs. As a result overall progress on the house has been slower than I originally planned.

That aside, it has been an incredible first 9 months in my little home, not least thanks to the arrival of two new housemates Freya and Loki, my beautiful tabby maincoon crossed kittens. So despite still having an entire room full of boxes and not even one fully finished room, I’ve settled in oh so happily, especially in my front living room, where the curtains might not reach the floor, but when I walk in I know that I am home.

But… despite all of that, I cannot WAIT to get starting on the works I want done. And following a visit from the local council, a week of waiting and then a slightly hairy moment involving a sash window which my lovely architect Jo kindly kept from me and resolved unaided, I now have my planning permission, delivered just in time for Christmas!

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A Different Kind of Design Inspiration from Malaysian Travels…. Part Two

I was lucky enough to spend New Year’s in Malaysia, and came back with a whole host of photographs to inspire me with decorating my new home. I won’t recount all the reasons why I loved Malaysia, and Asia more generally; you can read that on the Malaysian Travels Design Inspiration Pt One.

But the other day I was going through the rest of my pictures to find some more for a second blog when a package arrived from Malaysia containing a photographic print I’d ordered whilst I was out there from an art studio in Penang called Studio Howard. As it already feels like the trip was a lifetime ago, I’d slightly forgotten exactly what it was that I’d bought. But opening the package to find this vibrant shot of a Georgetown entrance, with its vivid yellows, pinks, greens and blues, took me right back to why I’d fallen so in love with this shot on first sight.

Georgetown, Penang - Studio Howard

Georgetown, Penang – Studio Howard

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Interior Design School Inspiration Day

Firstly I should begin my explaining my till now unexplained absence for the past couple of weeks, which was down to very nearly loosing my dream house. The good news is that at 4.49pm on Monday 9 February we finally exchanged. I won’t go into all the boring details, or emotional turmoil, other than to say my buyer turned out to be more than a bit of a headache, but needless to say whilst that was going on the last thing I wanted to do was blog.

But now I’m back! We’re scheduled to complete in just under two weeks, on Friday 27 February. I cannot wait to get in and get my hands on the place. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I spent some of my holiday thinking about things I wanted to do. Sewing was one of them, as was learning about interior design. So just like with cushion making, I scoured Google to find a short course on home interior design for beginners. It was actually harder than it looked. There’s a lot of online only classes, but I have always preferred to learn in a classroom, and many of the classroom based ones were more intensive/longer than I was after. But then I found The Interior Design School in Queens Park, London, which offered a one day ‘Inspiration Day’ course. To be honest, unlike with Saturday Sewing Session I didn’t jump right in and book straight away. Firstly, you can’t avoid the fact that its on the pricey side at £145. Secondly, there isn’t a great deal of information about what exactly it is you’ll do on the day. That said, the overall reviews were good, I liked the look of it, and besides I’d just ordered a slightly obscene number of interiors books on Amazon and was feeling a bit trigger happy.

Taught by professional interior designers, this is a stimulating and practical day that introduces the process of creating a design for an interior – whether you’re interested in designing your own home or thinking about a future career as an interior designer.

So off I went up to Queens Park on Saturday 31 January and found tucked away down an 18th century mews, a fabulously light, airy and modern interior design school.

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Fabrics, so many beautiful Indian fabrics

I’ve only been to India once but I forever will be captivated by the colours. My interior design is inspired by many counties, but there’s just not anything else quite like Indian fabrics and silks. I read once that Indian fabrics have been called ‘exquisite poetry in colour’ which seems very apt.

Colour is used in a vivid, kaleidoscopic way.  It takes special meaning in Indian society, from bright pink to celebrate life in the spring festival of Huli, the iridescent rainbow of colours as millions of fireworks explode in Diwali, the festival of lights, through to saffron, the colour of religious asceticism.  The town of Jodhpur in Rajasthan is painted blue to echo the colour of the blue god Krishna – Indian Interiors company

As I said in another post, my mother bought me a little ceramic elephant from Indian a number of years ago and spawned a love for those. She is also one of the reasons that I have such a love for Indian textiles and am building up a little collection! Here’s some that I picked up from Malaysia and that she brought me back from a recent trip to Jaipur. With my new sewing skills, I’m excited to start turning some of these into cushions.

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Design Inspiration from Malaysian Travels….Part One

I’m just coming to the end of a wonderful holiday in Malaysia and with my mind full of interior design, I feel especially lucky to have been surrounded by such beautiful, and colourful, sources of inspiration. Plus the free time away from the office has been absolutely brilliant for a whole host of online shopping! Wallpaper samples and design books galore await me on the return. I may be getting just a little carried away… (Which I think will be a common theme of my new house).

I always try to bring things back from the countries I visit and as such I’ve bought a number of things for my new house (as well as being full of beautiful things, it’s also incredibly cheap here). I’ll post those up separately once I am back and they are unwrapped, but here are a few pictures I’ve taken while visiting Kuala Lumpur, Langkawi and Penang which I’ve found especially inspiring for my home (pt one)

This is my first time visiting Malaysia and the mix of cultures here, particularly Indian and Chinese, has been such fun to explore, and can be seen in the mixture of photos. Each is an explosion of different colours, heavily featuring red and gold in the run up to Chinese New Year, and I will never ever tire of visiting Asian temples, which are just the most glorious things to behold. There is something about the colours, statues and structures, that I could look at for hours. Despite not personally being religious, I’ve always loved visiting religious buildings. As well as being incredibly calming, the art is usually breathtaking – I am particularly partial to a mural or two – and I am always captivated by the intricate stone carvings and woodwork. The colour of Buddhist temples is obviously a world apart from English churches and I remember the first time I saw one in the flesh being a little shocked by how bright they were!

Now though I’m wondering if recreating my own in the heart of Bermondsey might just be a little too OTT or whether I could pull it off…. Continue reading