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Doing less: six months in

"It's okay to do less" six-monthly review:

1. Career
As of this week, I am working only 17.5 hours/week. This is blissful. However, it cannot last. I am giving myself July off and I'm away for most of August. In September, I plan to start spending 12 hours a week on a new project which will, I hope, eventually bring in some proper money too. I don't want to work more than 4 days a week, but I think that should be fine.

2. Art
My mother has kindly agreed to pay for my art classes for birthday/Christmas presents for as long as I would like, so that's lovely. I've started my first Level 1 OCA module and am due to send in my first assignment in two weeks time. It's all going okay so far, and it will be nice to have a bit more time to give to it now that I've finished my old job.

3. Prayer
I've made a traveller's notebook with monthly prayer and Bible inserts. I used the prayer one pretty much every day in May, though it's been more erratic in June. I need to make one for July tomorrow and start using it properly again. It's helping a lot though, when I do use it. I'm still doing short every day prayers, as well as praying for specific things each day.

4. Health
I have been out on the bike! I am hoping to start cycling to my new office space a few times a week, but not while I'm still moving books and things over there. I haven't been to the optician or the dentist. Not sure I can afford either right now.

5. Money
Change of job has meant a significant drop in salary. It is manageable and, I think, worth it for the freedom and time to do other things. I have got some savings now, and no debt at all, so I am in a much better place than I was a couple of years ago, and I have much more regular income than I did then, as well. I need to see if I can get my tax code changed now that I'm not working full-time and I need to be careful about claiming expenses and so on, but I will be okay.

I'm so pleased about the job. It's not just fewer hours, but it's more normal hours. I don't have to do things in the evenings or weekends, and now that I am mostly not working in my home, that's also more relaxing. I have got a lot of sorting out and moving around to do, so that office things move to the office space, art/craft things move to the old office, some things move into the Shed, and my house gets less cluttered and a bit cleaner.  I've started, just, but it's a big task.

The last month has not been a good one for doing less. I was working two jobs, part-time, and had a lot of balls to keep juggling. I am very hopeful that will change now I'm only doing one part-time job and I'm looking forward to doing more pottering in the garden, more knitting, more degree coursework, more reading, and more proper cooking. But also, doing less. ;)

Doing well at doing less

"It's okay to do less" quarterly review:

1. Career
A lot has happened here. At the start of January I began praying every day that God would show me the work he has prepared for me to do, and prepared me to do. In February I spent a lot of money seeing a career coach and it was worth every penny. There are big changes afoot, most of which I can't talk about yet, but I am really excited about. Also, the end goal of working fewer days/week is on the cards.

2. Art
Friday art classes continue to be a highlight of the week. I'm almost at the end of my OCA Foundations module and really looking forward to moving onto the next one. I've successfully stopped trying to do ten projects at once, and generally have just one mindless thing as well as the coursework on the go.

3. Prayer
As ever, this is not as regular as I would like, but there has been definite improvement in the last few months. Pages have really helped - I often use them as a prayer space, at least partly. I've also developed a list of 5 very short prayers I use every day. Even if that's all I pray, it's still a good way to start the day with prayer.

4. Health
Okay, this is where the progress has mostly stalled. The bike is ready to use and the weather is getting better, so really I need to stop procrastinating about this. I also need to make an optician's appointment soon. And go to the dentist. Huh. I have been doing moderately well at eating less sugar, though.

5. Money
Savings are happening, though a little more slowly than I'd hoped. But that's okay.

In general, I have got through the last three months pretty well. There have been a few very busy weeks, but they have been well-balanced with quieter ones. I went on a wonderful thing called the Pastoral Refreshment Conference and came home refreshed in every possible way. I have some time off planned in April, and a proper holiday in May, and I'm looking forward to both, but not in desperation for a break. I think I am learning to be kinder to myself about just doing less.

It's okay to do less

This is my new mantra and I'm determined that 2017 will be the year of doing less, saying no, properly resting, being content with time passing.

That said, there are some things I want to prioritise this year:

1. Career
I hate the idea of a career. I've never had one, I just go from one thing to the next as it turns up. But something happened a few weeks ago which made me think this needs to change a bit. I've got less than 18 months on my current contract and I'd like to invest some time and money this year in working out some longer term goals and plans, so that this time next year I'm not panicking.

2. Art
This has been the big revelation of 2016 for me. A year ago I started going to a weekly art class which turned out to be one of the best things I've ever done. I love it so much. I love that we chat and laugh. I love that I can go when I'm in a foul mood and just be handed the pencil sharpener to work my anger out on. I mostly love that it's given me the confidence to start the OCA course I've been wanting to do for years. Which has also been brilliant and my lovely tutor has also been so positive about my work. I think I can do this! So 2017 is going to be a year of less crafting and more textile art. I'm just starting on The Artist's Way for the third(?) time, and I'm looking forward to seeing where that takes me too.

3. Prayer
This should have been first, I suppose, and that tells you why I need to prioritise it more. I've fallen into a habit of mostly praying panic prayers and desperation prayers. Which are okay, but not exactly thoughtful or relational. As I start morning pages again, I want to make a regular morning prayer habit as well.

4. Health
I'm very, very bad at prioritising this. In 2017 I want to give more attention to my body's needs. When I get my new bike sorted (it needs the mechanic to come back and fix the handlebars) I am hoping to use that to get more fresh air and exercise. I also need to go to the dentist and get my dreadful teeth sorted out. I need new glasses (probably varifocals). And I am going to try to cut down on my sugar intake. I would love to fit into all the lovely clothes in my wardrobe properly.

5. Money
For the first time in a long time, I have no debt. Hooray! So 2017 is going to be a year of saving. I'm really excited about this. I can't remember the last time I had more than a few hundred pounds in a savings account.

A little literary Christmas quiz

Who gave these Christmas presents to whom, and in which book?

1. A larger bottle of cologne
2. A papier mache carnival head
3. A cup, a candy cane, an iced cake and a bright copper penny.
4. A dam with a sluice-gate
5. A prize turkey
6. A paper tissue
7. A scarf with a pattern of snowmen

Answers in comments and also feel free to ask your own literary Christmas present questions along the same lines.

Whitworth (ii)

The other exhibition I saw was Revolutionary Textiles. I wasn't clear what was revolutionary about all of the textiles on show, to be honest. Mostly they were British printed fabrics from the 20th century, although there was also a section of Russian Ballet costumes, and other Russian textiles.

I particularly enjoyed the story of the female designer working with indigo dyes who kept setting the house on fire, and came up with a urine-based method, which required her to hold regular events called Barron's Piddle Parties.
I think it was worth itCollapse )


Two months ago, I made a list of exhibitions I wanted to go and see as research for the textiles course. Yesterday I realised I hadn't actually been to any. So today I went to two! Both in the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester.

First, Tibor Reich. He was a textiles designer, best known for developing a technique called Deep Weaving. This is not a profoundly philosophical view of art, but a way of weaving lots of layers of yarn, including boucle yarn, into fabrics which have depth to them. You will probably have come across examples of this on, for example, public transport seat covers. I wasn't sure whether I'd like his work or not, but I LOVED it. Mostly because he had an incredible sense of colour.

I was also surprised and delighted by his weird, Alice in Wonderland-ish, doodles and drawings, often coloured with pencil crayons. Some of these were developed into ceramic designs, but I think most were just whatever happened when he had paper and pencil - or biro - to hand.

Picspam 1Collapse )

Not a learning log

I spend far too much time online already and manage too many websites/blogs/social media accounts to want to set up another one. So I'm keeping a pen-and-paper learning log for my OCA Textiles course. But I do want to share some of what I'm doing, especially with who is also doing the same course, and this seems the sensible place for that. I'll try to remember to put images behind a cut so you can easily scroll past if you're not interested.

White on blackCollapse )


On the telly!

I feel like I may have saturated the internet with references to this over the last month, but I haven't said it here, so just in case anyone doesn't already know: I am going to be on proper telly!

Songs of Praise, BBC1, 5.15pm TODAY (May 15th).

They interviewed me about my job, filmed me with the team I do an online chat show with, and also had us in the background of several links. Oh, and we got to show our non-entries for their Christmas card competition! I will not be singing. The trailer is already up:

It'll be on iplayer for a month afterwards too. If you're not in the UK, sorry, you'll be missing out on this great treat.

Happy Easter!

It's been a busy week at work, and then the clocks went forward today, and this afternoon was a first birthday party for my niece. So it's now 7.30pm and I think I'm going to bed very soon.

Hope you've all had a lovely day!


It has been a very peculiar day. Almost everything was a disaster in the morning and almost everything is vastly better now.

I had period pain bad enough to wake me up last night. UGH. It is now fine.

When I got up (see above), the toilet seat broke. In pieces, not just coming off the hinge. UGH. I have now got a new toilet seat and I have fixed it in using a spring washer which will apparently stop it coming loose. WE SHALL SEE.

When I woke up (see above) it was pouring with rain. UGH. But the rest of the day was sunny.

My cleaners didn't show up last week and hadn't replied to my email, so the house was a mess and I was girding my loins for finding a new cleaner. UGH. But they got back to me apologetically this evening and are coming tomorrow.

I spent most of the day waiting anxiously for an Important Phone Call. UGH. Instead I got an Important Email with the news I was hoping for. I am going to be on telly! On Songs of Praise, being interviewed about my job, to be shown in May.

Also today, I have acquired wine and chocolate, and I have done some gardening.

It has been a Day Of Win.

All I need now is for the mouse that was being extremely loud in the attic last night to have found its way outside during that nice, sunny day.