The Ups and Downs of Being Your Own Boss

I feel like I must have written about this before.
Have I?

It seems unlikely that I haven’t. I must have craved a bit of a chinwag about this pertinent issue at some some point during my time as Head Honcho of Noctiluna. Okay, let’s just assume that I have.

It doesn’t matter though, it’s an important enough subject to warrant another post, and it’s something that is always on my mind to some degree. Also, this is cheaper than therapy for me, so let’s do it.

If you run a small business, work for yourself, and are situated exactly where the buck stops, you have my commiserations… and congratulations. If you work from home, times that by ten.

It’s a funny old world, when you are your own boss. You can go from feeling empowered, inspired, and elated, to feeling mopey, unmotivated and misunderstood in a matter of hours, sometimes minutes. It may always be like this, so learning to ride those waves, and jump back on after a storm is important (Yup, a surfing analogy from me, the landlubber. I can do that, because I’m the boss – there’s an UP for you).

My work place

Here is my own (very) personal list of ups and downs:

UP: I have total creative freedom. My boss totally trusts my design instincts and let’s me explore them to their fullest. 

DOWN: It gets lonely working by yourself. You start talking to yourself, and smiling at strangers on the street like a pyscho. Thank goodness for the summer camps for dragging me out of hermit-dom every summer.

UP: I can arrange my day how I like, so that I can flit between projects and work to a schedule that suits my temperament well. I even manage to work two jobs a year.

DOWN: I have to be a jack of all trades. I can’t avoid spreadsheets, inventory, marketing , or phone conversations, because I am the accountant, marketing manager, and receptionist all rolled into one. This is a tough one for creative types, who find it hard to snap into other roles. You are constantly being placed outside your comfort zone.

UP: I can be flexible. My boss understands when I have a sick kid, or need to attend a school performance (well my design boss does, the summer camp boss is a total meanie). During most non summer-camp work days, I can hit the gym, and pick my kids up from the bus stop if I want to. I have worked with a sick baby sleeping on my lap. She’s a good egg, my boss.

DOWN: People mistake my aforementioned flexibility for being free. I am constantly assumed to be available for last minute childcare, or a lengthy chat. No people, I actually have a schedule, and it’s a busy one. If I choose to spend an hour at the gym, I end up working evenings. Fairs and markets often happen on weekends, so my work week is an unusual one, but it is one nonetheless. 

UP: No commute, no having to dress up fancy for work, a well stocked fridge. 

DOWN: Home fatigue (it’s a real thing), feeling somewhat dishevelled next to the Booz-Allen moms at the bus stop, a well stocked fridge.

There are potentially hundreds more of those, but here’s the bottom line: 

I love my job. I love the playlists that I play while I work. I can listen to Thomas Hardy novels while I screen print, and nobody complains. I can eat lunch at weird times, and get completely absorbed in my work for hours without interruption. Sure, I miss having coworkers sometimes, and wish I could bat ideas back and forth with someone.
I try and get around those things by meeting up with other designers and educators for creative chats, and I keep myself on a rich diet of books, learning, and exhibitions.

Maybe, I’ll work in a bustling studio at some point in the future. Who knows? Maybe I’ll finally stop harassing my poor husband with every little detail of my workday in the evenings.

Nah, probably not that last one.



Home, Heating, and Hygge

Full disclosure: this was typed yesterday morning, on an empty stomach – sorry. As of yesterday afternoon, we have heating!!!! Woohoo!

Maybe 2018 will be a voyage of self discovery; I have certainly learnt a lot about myself over the past few weeks.

I have always thought of myself as being a great wanderer who thrives on change. My parents would call me a gypsy when I was younger, because I was always on the move, and my husband thinks I am the twitchiest person alive. I’m that woman who moves her furniture around every month so it doesn’t look the same. I never expected to put roots down anywhere, but I did.

My latent gypsy tendencies have been tested hard over the past few weeks.
We have been forced to live a transient lifestyle,  due to our on again, off again heating situation. Hotel rooms, friends houses, libraries, museums, any heated indoor public space was our domain…
…and I am so tired.
Tired of schlepping my life around in bags, tired of packing and unpacking, tired of keeping track of possessions. But the main thing I am tired of is:  not being in my own space.

I need my own space.

So here I am, back in my freezing home, ensconced in my frozen workroom. I am wrapped in a blanket, with a space heater by my feet, a woolly hat on and a big mug of ginger tea. Don’t tell me I don’t know how to enjoy life, I have embraced the concept of Hygge! I even have a bloody scented candle in here!
I choose to be here. I don’t really have to be here. Many kind friends have offered me their warm homes to work in (thank you, friends), and I have tried it, but I JUST WANT TO BE IN MY SPACE. Hear this, I don’t even want to be at the library (gasp! ) I just want my own space.
Yes, I would rather sit here in the coldest house in Virginia, than be in a warm, cozy library – you heard it here.

I missed being in my home, I missed knowing where everything is, and how everything works. I missed being able to make myself proper tea with my own blend of chai masala. I missed being able to use any combination of art materials I want to, not just the ones packed in my overnight bag. I missed not having to clear up my mess.  Moving around was an adventure, but now – now I am content.

Home sweet Home

There I’ve said it, I’m a homebody. I don’t know how long this love affair will last. I still have plans to give away belongings, and trek across deserts when I am retired.
It is just so nice to be here even though the house is cold and horribly messy, and there are footprints everywhere from the heating technicians.
Give me just a few minutes to thaw my fingers off, and clear the fuzz in my head, and I ‘ll start making art again. Promise.


2017 – My Thirteen Highlights

I know, I know – there are a lot of things that weren’t so good about 2017. It was an upsetting, completely off tilter year to many, not least me.

Still, it would be churlish to not admit that there were some moments of  happiness and beauty in there.  I’m really happy that 2018 is here,  but let’s put 2017 to bed properly before we jump straight into talking about the shiny new year.  Why thirteen highlights? Well I tried to control myself, but just couldn’t stop after ten – that’s why.

Here are my favorite things, big and small, from last year:

  1. The Women’s March – The year started off with a bang, and a brand new hat. The march was an amazing, emotional experience to be part of, and it was satisfying to witness the discourse, and year long domino effect that it sparked off.
  2. The East Wing – A new happy place. I fell in love with this newly reopened part of the National Gallery last year. It has a beautiful light and art, and is the perfect escape from the burbs on gray days. Go visit it.img_5145
  3. Yayoi Kusama – the Infinity Rooms. After years and years of waxing lyrical about Kusama to students, and boring the socks off them, I finally got lucky enough to visit her work in the flesh. Mind…………….blown.
  4. Analog Art. 2017 was the year I dedicated a lot more time to painting on canvas. I’m self taught, pretty rusty, and a lot of what I created is terrible, but the sensory input is delicious, and the process is truly satisfying. It’s a form of meditation, it’s messy, and I’m going to keep doing it.IMG_5054
  5. England Trip. Always, always a source of happiness. The kids and I met old friends, ate a lot of battenburg cake, used public transport every day, and fell in love with East London again. I’m actually shocked that I never wrote a blog post about it! Hmmm…. Another London blog post coming up, I guess.IMG_7791
  6. The mayor’s visit. The campers at the Noctiluna Summer Camp were pleasantly surprised by a visit from the mayor of Vienna. It was like the scene in Elf, where Buddy spots Santa in Gimbels “Mayor!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
    They shared their ideas about town planning, and I was so ridiculously happy and proud of them all.
The Mayor pays us a visit



8.Solar Eclipse. A singular and eerie experience that I got to share with my campers whilst continually half squealing “wear your glasses!”, and worrying about bad luck (it’s an Indian thing).


9. Crafty Bastards – I got in this year!!!!!! Woohoo!!!!!  The premier craft show was held at Nats Park on a bitterly cold weekend, but boy was it an amazing experience.
Note to the organisers: I WANT TO DO IT AGAIN.


10. Gift and Gather – After years of saying that I should… I did!
Get my products into a shop, that is. You can see them at Gift and Gather in Occoquan, VA, which is run by a fellow crafter with an amazing eye for beautiful, well crafted things. 2018 will be the year of more shops.


11. Grump at Zoolights – By far my favorite show of the year! The lights were magical, the people were lovely, and I found the perfect spot to sell my (Mostly animal themed – well what do you know!) shirts! We went back again with the kids, and it is a really fun event.

12. Mini crafter – This was the year that my eleven year old started getting creative, and making things. She taught herself to sew and now makes the most adorable felt toys. Mostly food based (she is my child after all). She has sewn little macarons, cookies, samosas, doughnuts, and a range of trucks for her brother. I am in total awe of her.

13. The Books, all the books! – I really can’t go into great detail with this one because, well, I have a tendency to ramble when it comes to books. Suffice to say, I read some great ones last year, including The Lilac Girls, The Muse, The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Born a Crime, and Americanah. I already have a 2018 pile waiting for me. Yippee!
FullSizeRender 25

Apart from that, there was a lot of yoga practiced, comedy watched, tea drunk, parenting stumbled through, and screen printing done.

Well 2018, I wonder what surprises you will bring with you. Maybe a trip to Denmark? A partnership with another artist? The kids learning to load the dishwasher properly? One  can only hope. Bring it on!

Happy New Year to all. xx