Surround yourself with crazy people, inspiring people, funny people, lovely people, and remember that you can be, and probably are without realising it, that to someone else.
I have been asked a few times ‘What do you do all day?’ This, as Samwise Gamgee discovered once, is the kind of question that requires “a week’s answer or none”. So it’s usually none. But hey, if you’re interested, read on (it will take less than a week, I promise).
I work from home, and while I’d love this to be a simple 9-5, or even 9-3, with a break to meet my girlfriends for a latte and organic ciabatta in the park, followed by playing educational games with my children before rustling up a healthy tea with some fresh ingredients from the local Italian deli, it never really pans out that way. So, in case you were wondering why I’m so tired all the time, when all I do is sit on my arse all day watching BBC iPlayer (OK yes, this does happen, but only when I have sitty-downy work to do), or why I have no social life outside the internet, here is a sample of what really happens. This was my yesterday (literally, not metaphysically):
7am: Wake up (well, not really), make tea, drink tea.
Shower, get dressed, make packed lunches, remind children they need to give me their lunchboxes when they get home from school, because finding one full of ketchup (WTF?)(I didn’t say that) five minutes before we have to leave is really not on. Find lost/missing items, walk to school, walk dog.
9.15am: Eat breakfast whilst checking emails, writing emails, shuffling finances, stuff like that. Wash up.
Upload project photos to online portfolio – no, wait… rummage through drawers to find camera cable, *then* upload photos.
10.30am: Catch bus into town, search for new school bag for WonderBoy, new bedding for us, and other dull town-tasks. Treat myself to a Lush bath melt, because I’m totally worth it.
1pm: Get home, grab token lunch items, get on with actual sewing work.
2.30pm: Do some cursory housework, including another round of washing up. Walk dog, collect Wonderboy from school.
3.45pm: Get home, make sure everyone has tea/snack/clean water. Collapse in chair, check emails.
4.30pm: More cursory housework (I’ve heard there’s another kind, but it doesn’t sound fun, so I’ve not looked into it further). Prepare dinner. Feed dog.
5.45pm: TV dinner, yay! Watch Agents of SHIELD, shake fist at telly for leaving it so long until the next episode, clear up dropped bits of dinner (the dog won’t eat peas, she’s not much use in that respect), tidy away. Run bath for Wonderboy, put him in it. Put him back in it, because five minutes isn’t long enough, sunshine. Put him back in it again, because splashing doesn’t count as washing, and yes you need to wash.
8pm: Wonderboy clean (enough) and in bed. Sit down with Supergirl and go through GCSE options. History looking remarkably lame, so she switches to Geography instead. Shuffle chosen options around to fit curriculum spaces – honestly this is like mental Tetris – and we’re done! Her future is secured.
9pm: Walk dog. Last minute panic from Supergirl about forgotten ‘food tech’ preparation. Make shortcrust pastry for food tech.
9.45pm: Supergirl in bed. Make tea, unearth chocolate from emergency stash, sit down with a book.
10.30pm: Bed. Beautiful, soft, clean, new, bed.
1.30am: Hug Wonderboy after screaming nightmare, tuck him back into bed.
7am: Start all over again.
So, there you go, that’s what this Work-At-Home-Mum does all day. Not a lot changes – sometimes I manage to sit down a bit earlier in the evenings (pastry at 9pm? Not doing that again), and once our kitchen electrics are fixed I/we will be able to wash up in the evenings rather than having to wait until there’s enough daylight to see how much we haven’t cleaned things. The only thing a bit atypical of this day is the making tea first thing in the morning. My partner usually does that (correction: always does that), because he is amazing and wonderful and he knows that I cannot function without it. I mean, I barely function with it – I’m really not a morning person – but it’s better than not. But sadly he is laid low with a horrible fevery chest-infection, so I’ve done the tea run THREE DAYS IN A ROW now. Seriously, Hercules had it easy compared with the effort I’m putting in here. Anyway, some day soon I’m hoping to steal enough time to use that Lush bath melt, but until then I’ll just store it in the bathroom cupboard and sniff it wistfully every now and again. And now… now I *really* should get on with some work. And no, I don’t know what’s for dinner tonight.
I no longer wear a poppy on my lapel, any more than I wear my heart on my sleeve. It does not mean I don’t care, nor that I don’t care to remember, but I am angry that this opiate poppy of the masses has become a platitude. When the politicians can stand at the Cenotaph with their sad faces and scarlet poppies, who just weeks ago shook hands all round at an international arms fair, how can ‘wearing a poppy’ mean anything? I remember that people lose lives and minds and limbs in wars their politicians tell them to fight, that families are torn apart, that my son’s best friend lives with the fear that daddy might not come home again. And I look at the poppy on the PM’s lapel, and I do see blood, but it isn’t his. The poppy was supposed to make us remember, but I think it’s helping us to forget. And if seeing me daring not to wear one makes someone sputter in outrage, then good. Remember what it stands for now?
Uncivilisation. A weekend of exploring “cultural engagement which is rooted in place, time and nature”. A weekend of people, music, story, song, fire and playfulness. A weekend where I learned so damn much about the world around me, and about myself. And apart from the bit about “I can’t use Google-maps on my phone to navigate my way out of a paper bag” (sorry Jon – it was an adventure!), I liked what I learned!
I was there primarily to share my experiences of The Telling, and encourage others to make a new home for Uncivilisation in the places and communities where they are. And also to build a tree for a midnight Dark Mountain ritual – where a woven willow tree, decorated with dreams and thoughts from whoever wanted to contribute, would be ceremonially burned, to symbolise, I dunno… something. Something unsettling (would you set fire to a tree?), to shake people from their comfort, and release the wild, and the dreams.In honesty though, I can’t really tell you much about what Uncivilisation 2013 was like, because I missed most of it, but I can tell you that “missing most of it” didn’t really matter. Continue reading
Dear reader, would you like to help change the world (for the better, she adds, hastily)?
There are lots of ways to affect change, there are lots of things you can do, and here’s just one for starters: This summer the Craftivist Collective is teaming up with War On Want to add their crafty shoulders to the “Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops” campaign. I’m joining in too, and together we’re asking people to take up craftivism – stitching in support of the stitchers, as it were. How? By stitching mini protest banners, and hanging them where people will see them. Mini whuh? How? Well OK, I’ll let Sarah (founder of Craftivist Collective) explain how: Continue reading
I think I’ve been bitten by the showing-off-bug, and it feels just a little bit fabulous. Having spent the winter, and it felt like a very long winter, keeping quiet, and trying not to get involved with things that might tip my fragile self into darkness and despair (overly dramatic much?), I got out a book I’d bought and then never read (because my 11yr old got to it first and then left it at Grandma and Grandad’s house – damn these kids who read things) – Small Acts of Resistance. Which is about, er, well, small acts of resistance.
If you haven’t read it, do. It’s brilliant, and inspiring, and it shows you what can be achieved by ordinary people doing seemingly tiny things. Anyway, it inspired me. And then I re-read one of my favourite books (Evangelisation Mode: ENGAGED), Half The Sky by NY Times journalist Nick Kristof and his wife Sheryl Wu Dunn, which takes what you think “inspiring” means, and blows it right out of the water. If you’re reading this and you haven’t read Half The Sky, I will find out, and I will come for you, and I will make you read it. Do it now.
And anyway, shortly after that, there was an attempt by a fascist group to march through my home city, and I got all fired up and despite having spent most of my life believing I ‘wasn’t really a protest march kind of person’ (I’ll unpack that later, if I remember), what I had read made me think differently, and I took me to the streets to protest. And it felt good. And then a few weeks later, Pride came along