Winding up 2017

My household is asleep. I’m snuggled between Rose and Poppy. Poppy is a little cold but hates blankets, so she’s snuggled into my side, arm wrapped over my chest and leg over my tummy. Half of the bedroom has become storage for bags and boxes of Christmas gifts. The other half is full of baskets of clean washed clothes we can’t get into the cupboard to put away any more. It’s like sleeping at Santa’s, a kind of cheerful, organised chaos.

I’ve started winding down work for the year. Poppy and I have been painting and making art. I’ve been setting myself up with a little transportable art folder so that when inspiration strikes and I can’t go to my studio, I can still capture ideas or play. Last night I saw a photo of a beautiful tattoo I loved and recreated it in watercolour.

Poppy has been having fun with textas. She’s so full of life.

It’s been an intense and amazing week. I’ve finished my business development course and ticked a huge number of goals off for the year.

We’ve just finished a pilot of the Multiplicity Project. Three other folk, one a journalist and two multiples came to Adelaide for interviews. It was very precious. At one point I was sitting in the lounge of a little unit, watching someone lay out huge artwork portraits of their system and explain the people and their roles. The stories were amazing. I showed them my partly written guidebook and we explored a number of other possible book models. My introductory guide keeps trying to turn into some kind of definitive guidebook which is panic inducingly impossible to finish. It might not be the best place to start. I’m starting make contact with others in the writing industry which is helpful. We’ll see what happens next.

Winding down now to the end of the year, and my panic and sense of failure are easing. There’s no Christmas tree at home, or decorations, or baking, Poppy tears things apart and food is tricky and money is tight and all the things we usually have to work around are in play. But it doesn’t feel lacking in specialness. I’m glad to be here, glad our girls are with us, and we have family to spend time with, and friends who love to decorate with Christmas things, and the sense of festiveness is there anyway.

What a difficult but amazing year it has been. I’m still haunted by frustration that I can’t seem to grasp everything I’ve tried to, but I’m also dazzled by the wonderful opportunities, new relationships, amazing projects, and beautiful growth I’ve been part of. I’m proud of my work this year and so proud of my family, coming through some huge challenges and still here. A bit bruised or scarred, and scuffed around the edges maybe, but learning and loving and navigating life with courage. I am so in love with them, so grateful to be wrapped up in them when once I lived alone. There’s so much life here, messy, confusing, complicated, painful, imperfect, beautiful, heartfelt. I have seized the day, I suck the marrow, I give myself to it wholly. It hurts and it heals.

Come and visit me at SHINE SA

I’m having a little office opening so you can visit. 

 Mon, December 18, 5:00 PM ‚Äď 6:30 PM

There’s a lot of beautiful art and gorgeous gold embellished prints on display in my office at the moment. You’re welcome to come and see them in person, have a chat over coffee, see an oil painting in progress, or grab a print for Christmas. It’s all very low key and relaxed, I’ll put out a plate of lamingtons or something, drop by if you have a minute. ūüôā

Grab a free ticket here so I can cater.

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Amazing Other People using my Artwork

I’m delighted to share a recent project with you – not mine this time! Danielle Pomeroy is a PhD scholar at the University of South Australia studying stillbirth stigma. She approached me because she felt my artwork “The Gap” perfectly captured her subject and would help her poster about her research really stand out. I originally painted it to illustrate this blog post about understanding the way trauma and adversity can disconnect you from others. The print is available in my Etsy Shop here.

Her timing was impeccable because that’s something I’ve been working on this year – learning how to edit and clean up high res scans of my artwork for use in other settings such as websites, and how to licence my images for others to use. I’m still figuring out the process for it so I don’t do it very often at this stage.

So Danielle bought a licence from me, and printed her gorgeous poster about a very important topic, which was presented at the International Stillbirth Alliance conference in Ireland. To learn more about the research, her supervisor Jane Warland was an author on the poster and writes a blog here.

Here is Danielle with her poster: A Pilot Study Exploring Stillbirth Stigma Experiences in Australia and Adapting and Validating a Stigma Scale.

Danielle Pomeroy Still Stigma Poster F

I’m honoured to be a tiny part of this work, and excited to see my art exploring new ways of being in the world.

I’m hoping to be able to display Danielle’s poster when I next exhibit Waiting for You . I’m currently working on setting up the template to be able to take the exhibition to rural and interstate locations, looking for a good community venues, and sponsorship to help with travel costs for those further from home.

SaY Your History – Join in on a local project

Childcare in aged care, uni students living with residential care folks, I love a good project that gets the generations connecting with each other, and I’ve been invited into a great local opportunity.

Calling Adelaide young people and seniors – we’d love to involve you in this excellent project about capturing people’s stories in video! This fantastic opportunity is a collaborative effort between a number of different organisations, and I’ll be supporting it with some training/facilitating. You don’t need any experience, I’m really happy to help you learn some new skills and get to play with some documentary techniques on simple equipment you probably already have access to at home or school. This can be very useful for school homework or your own creative projects.

For young person aged 13 – 25yrs we are running a FREE workshop on interviewing and filming techniques!

Wed Dec 6th
6-8pm
Free
Onkaparinga Youth Enterprise Hub, Colonnades Shopping Centre

For more info or to book in contact Alice on alice.sheppard@onkaparinga.sa.gov.au or 0400 279 328.

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If you are a senior, the young people would love to interview you and hear some of your stories and life experiences. We are hoping to run a couple of filming days to get everyone together and give the young people a chance to try out their interviewing skills. The first is this Saturday, and it would be fantastic if you could help us out! (your family and friends are also welcome)

Saturday 9th December
Between 11am‚ÄĒ4pm
Refreshments provided
Free – of course!
McKinna Road, Christie downs

Questions or RSVP to Jules on 81860048 or email juliferguson@internode.on.net

The fantastic people behind this initiative are from:

  1. Healthy Cites Onkaparinga is a non-government community based organisation
    advocating for better health in the Onkaparinga region.
  2. Fleurieu Cancer Network is a non-government community organisation advocating for better services for people with cancer their family and friends.
  3. City of Onkaparinga Youth Committee is a group of young people aged 15 ‚Äď 25 who are¬†dedicated to representing views of young people in Onkaparinga and are involved in¬†various leadership opportunities.
  4. Seaford Rotary was newly chartered on November 26, 2016. This new club is doing
    things differently to many traditional Rotary clubs with less focus on meetings and more focus on community projects and partnerships.

Taking my business seriously

It’s taken some years but I’m finally beginning to understand marketing. It’s simply communication, nothing more or less. It’s not the slick, deceptive sales pitch I used to think of, any more than talking is always lying. It’s simply communicating with people who don’t know you yet. You can be genuine or deceptive but that’s up to who you are. 

Looking back at the development of this site, I’ve always written with a particular person in mind. A treasured, highly vulnerable friend. Or myself, 10 years back, and fighting to survive. And I wanted to help that person to feel safe, so I showcase my own vulnerability – see, we are not so different. I wrote and shared with honesty, and always with the intention to help rather than harm. 

I’m beginning to see that in some contexts, this person is what’s called an end user rather than a client. If I want to do something to help people who are homeless, or dealing with poverty, or chronically suicidal, then I can make that happen by liaising with someone who also care about them and has some money to put towards that project. The people in need shouldn’t have to pay for it themselves, they should access it and benefit from it simply because they are people in need. That makes them my end user and the people with the funds – a business, government, or not for profit, my client. I am good at helping my end users feel comfortable and safe with me. Part of the process of helping my business become sustainable is about making sure my clients also feel safe and comfortable. 

Their needs and language are different. They care about authenticity and sincerity too, but they also need to see competence, endorsement, professionalism. Will I turn up on time? Fake my information? Make their staff feel intimidated or incompetent? Can they trust me to do my work to a high standard of quality, communicate well, keep their best interests in mind? 

So I am wrapping a new layer of professionalism around the heart I wear on my sleeve. Polishing up how I share my work with the world. It’s good work and it’s worth people’s time and money. I absolutely believe this.

I’m working on a new template flyer for all my Training which will feature an image from the artworks in that specific talk. I’m going to start with a few of my many talks and create the rest in time. 

Still a work in progress, hence the sarcastic copy. ūüėČ 

The new format for my business is four suites: arts, writing, training, and community development consulting. Each of these require specific administrative structures, templates, marketing, licences, insurance, and so on. I have been very scattered this year and I appreciate the clarity of this approach. I am also feeling very mindful of my exhaustion and how much I’m missing my family. I’m currently in two community development projects which are wonderful, but considering closing that option down for awhile after they finish. Giving myself good stretches of time, say a good week or two to develop each suite of services, would be a real treat to see more rapid progress. Moving a hundred rocks up a hill an inch at a time is far more draining then getting five rocks to the top of the hill every week. 

I’m also having to give serious thought to my networks. Can I really afford to keep running them, unpaid? There’s only so much I can do, so many hours in the week. The psychological weight of them is significant. The hearing voices network remains scattered here in SA, I’ve been unable to gather a united community. Perhaps it’s time to let it go for now. The DI remains so dear to my heart, but I also feel so tired. Public advocacy work is draining and devastating, it closes so many doors. I just want to earn a living and enjoy my family. I don’t know, I don’t have answers yet. Sustainable work means less balls in the air, lower personal cost, less unpaid projects. So much love, still, but less sacrifice. I don’t know where this goes next. I’m so glad for the supports I have, and the two beautiful places I’ve found a home in at SHINE SA and Tooth and Nail Studio. I feel very fortunate to be in places where I’m with good people and feel valued and safe while I figure this out. 

In the meantime, still building, and still painting. ūüôā From the chaos, things are emerging. 

My sweet loves

We have been so lucky with our family. Mornings are still my favourite time, curled in bed together, pale milky light coming through the big bedroom windows. Poppy sleeps beside us, legs resting on mine, cheeks flushed pink after nursing. Lately I’ve been waking early and wanting to go to bed early. Twenty years ago this was my sleeping pattern, I don’t know why it’s returned now. But lying here in the dark beside her, she smells of sweet rain in my arms. Her hair is a mop of thistledown, her breath smells of milk. I love her so much my heart aches. I’ve waited my whole life to be a parent, and now I am it’s such a comfortable fit. It’s incredibly hard work, but there’s an anguish and emptiness I used to just live with that’s full of contentment now. Both my girls are beautiful and perplexing, brilliant and challenging and so very loved. 

Life as a working parent is exhausting, delightful, sad, and a wonderful privilege. Driving away from Poppy in tears is a sorrow that’s hard to let myself feel. Coming home to a bundle of excitement who wraps around my legs and shrieks “tuddle!” While I try to unload my arms to cuddle her is sheer inconvenient, ebullient joy. Earlier this week I went to several meetings with orange marker scrawled down one leg from where she had decorated me the night before. I was delighted. 

I have new clients, new projects, and good prospects for my business. The business development course continues to be an intense rollercoaster of emotions, as I unpick the mess and touch on deep connections – identity, place in the world, worth, and old traumas. From stuckness confusion and overwhelm a new model is emerging with a new clarity. The clarity is wonderful and painful in equal measure, opening some doors and closing others. My system is in upheaval, each of us mourning the compromises we make, that none of us can be entirely who we are on this world, but share our work between us. We mourn the days not spent in the studio, the days not available for collaborating on projects, the time we don’t have for further study, the hours spend away from our children. The clarity heals and hurts. We find new languages: you are a community development consultant, she tells us. And we feel whole. And we feel sad. Oh, this is who I am in the world. I’ll never be a psychologist now, or a doula, or a manager, or an art historian. I’ll never run a clinical mental health service or be part of the army or work as a naturopath. I won’t finish my arts degree or go for that curating doctorate or join that post graduate group. So much sadness and it’s hard to let go. Wrenching. 

But also a system coming into joy. Yes, we are community developers. We are a community! It’s in the bones of us; multiplicity, plurality, duality, polyphony. We are artists. We are writers. We are educators. This we do, paid or unpaid, thanked or unrecognised, on display or hidden. This is who and how we are in the world, gravitating to the meaningful, creative, authentic, and communal. Seeking to ease suffering and loneliness, to promote compassion and diversity. 

There’s no guide for me for multiples and work. No mentor, few peers anywhere in the world. It’s lonely at times. We explore, trying to figure out who thrives where. Learning different outfits are needed at studio and office, for grounding the best parts and being able to function. Meltdowns, behind the scenes, are frequent. Overwhelm and exhaustion are constant questions to self: do you have a viable model yet? Do you know how to thrive? 

The Dissociative Initiative was our baby before Poppy and Star. The business has been my love, my great passion, since Rose. Trying to find a place in the world. Learning to unpick the traps I got stuck in along the way. An alternative mental health community full of brilliance and rage who attack as exploiters those who make money from their work. Clients who think you work only for the money. A welfare system that hides how it works and treats you as a cheat, a thief, and scammer if you ask for details and try to understand or predict the money. How am I supposed to develop literacy? It’s still almost unbearably shameful to set up a budget to track spending. Years of grinding poverty have left me toxic with needless shame and afraid to look, unable to control what I do not believe I deserve. The triggers and feelings mimic eating disorder stress. Just as invisible to the outside, just as deceptively simple to solve (‘just eat a steak, you’ll be fine’), and just as paralysing and destructive. 

It’s okay to look at it. It’s okay to understand exactly what I’m earning, how it impacts welfare, how my rent is recalculated based on income, how much I would need for a house deposit and how many years that would take. It’s okay to look at what my art costs me to make, how long it takes, at how many unpaid hours I spend on the road to do training and workshops. It’s okay to rejig an approach that was about charity and covering costs to be about income and supporting a family. It’s not predatory or manipulative. I feel like a young adult who has known only rape trying to believe in the idea of sex. Kissing my first lover and then shaking and howling as my body panics with dark memories and shame. And yet holding them. Seizing them. 

Seizing this beautiful thing and holding onto it while feelings shake me from ecstacy to despair. Just holding on. From all the wounds and grief and tangled sorrow, I believe something amazing will emerge. So many have midwived this with me, believed in me, held hope for me, paid bills for me, fed me. Piece by piece I have crawled away from a life and a belief system utterly destructive to me. And I’ve dragged with me courage, and joy, and honesty. The kind of wisdom you get from screaming yourself hoarse at 3am. The poverty and my own wedding to it, is just as self destructive as taking a knife to my skin. The way it became safe, a haven from fears of my own greed, of exploitation, manipulation, slick deception. Self preservation until I could see a different way and believe in a different path, just like the knife was. 

All things want to grow. It is their nature. 6 years ago I was offered this beautiful home, and I slept in it alone. Now it overflows. Now I sleep sideways in the space between my lover and my child, tangled in sleepy limbs and writing about life in the sleepless early morning. It’s beautiful.

New embellished print- garnets

The latest in my print embellishment experiments, this ink painting was from a suite I painted to illustrate my talk Peer workers; a consumer perspective”. I was invited to give this talk by the Mental Illness Fellowship of Australia, the national body for what is now called Skylight in SA. It was my first interstate talk, delivered at a conference of peer workers. This a illustrated my personal experience that not having any services was less harmful than being caught in bad services.

I’ve embellished it with watercolour paint made from extremely finely ground garnets. They are a softer pinky brown tone and work very well for the boat on fire and a red moon. 

Marriage equality vote: yes

Australia has returned a majority vote of yes to marriage equality! It doesn’t mean the legislation has changed, it doesn’t currently mean anything for our family. But the cultural change is clear. One day my daughters will live in a world where it is normal that their mothers can be married. We danced and cried and celebrated in the rain in the city after the announcement yesterday.¬†

Then we spoke with a reporter about how hard this has been and the road yet to come. It was published at InDaily as A bittersweet victory, after months of heartbreak.

 

Art about loss

I’m working on business development a lot at the moment, with the idea that I’m running two – one as an artist and the other as a consultant. But life continues to be demanding, and I find myself at times running away from my consulting and hiding in my studio.
This week loss and grief were in my heart.

This artwork was painted with two carefully chosen inks: called Rose and Heart of Darkness. I’ve waited years to be able to afford Heart of Darkness and more to have it available after a manufacturing shortage. It’s beautiful. I’m working with a dip pen rather than a fountain pen here and the line variation is glorious. 

I’ve always loved my poem and ink painting combinations, inspired by Haiga. This has been created using a Diamine shimmering ink called Silver Seas. 

I had a tough day today but I’m finding soft places to fall, good people and good mentoring. We’ll get through things, and I’ll keep working. I’m blogging on my phone while sitting in the backyard, nursing Poppy and soaking up the change in the weather. It’s a beautiful life, for all that it’s hectic and stressful and sometimes needs more of me than I have. The sky is silver and smells of rain. My heart, though bruised, is full. 

New Embellished Prints!

I love to embellish my giclee prints, it breathes a life into them, makes each one unique and hand touched again. Adding precious materials also changes the prints in a curious way. They have layers to them. One of us might have created the original image, another digitally cleaned it up, and a third embellished the print. The original might have been created under terrible stress, or in an altered state, in the back of my van in a storm down the beach or at 3am while my baby slept. But the print would be embellished during the day, under good lights, and with attentive care and precision. There’s depth and interesting collaborations and juxtapositions.

I’ve worked a lot on perfecting my gilded prints and I’m thrilled with how they have been received. I’ve been exploring a few other techniques for embellishments and I’m pretty excited about them too. 

Here’s one of my gilded prints with 24 karat gold on a rounded German size. It’s called Tangled in Dreams, and I sold this one a few days ago. 

This next style I’m really taken with. It’s very new and I haven’t offered it for sale yet. It’s impossible to show the lovely sparkle in a photograph, just as the real gold doesn’t show its shine. But it’s actually genuine, very finely ground amethyst.

Lastly today I wanted to explore using an interference pigment on a black ground. I created my own watercolour paint using pigment and gum arabic.

Again, the sheen is difficult to capture in a photo, but film shows it a little better. 


It’s rather like moonstone, appearing milky white from one angle and flashing intense blue from another. Against a white background it’s almost invisible until it flashes blue, which reminds me of the artworks I’ve created with invisible UV reactive ink. It may even work as a way to embellish prints made from originals with UV inks, I’ll have to trial it and see.

My work now is to keep exploring grounds and varnishes so I understand what works best in creating and protecting these artworks. I expect there will be another exhibition of embellished prints coming up.

Rose is recovering

The news is good for Rose. Our doctor considers that she has merely been unlucky lately with multiple illnesses and infections, rather than suffering from an underlying problem we haven’t found yet. Irritatingly there was no discharge summary or even a record that she had been in the ER, much less any test results. But she is recovering and rebuilding her strength. 

I am thrilled. I was so worried I nearly threw up in the waiting room before we saw her doctor. She is deeply precious to me, utterly irreplaceable and unique. 

I had a wonderful day in the studio this afternoon, just playing. Then I bought Rose some little gifts and flowers from the city and came home on the bus feeling like I could fly. We recently celebrated 5 years together. She is my home, my family, my safe place. I love her to bits.


My lovely oil painting is progressing and I have begun to work on the colour layer. Some tones such as the pink in her cheeks and yellow in the dress will be added in glazes over the paint. I’ve been learning so much, it’s such a novelty to have instruction, as I’m mostly self taught in my preferred mediums. This class is the first oil painting tution I’ve had and it’s been very enjoyable. Mixing all those skin tones! There’s a great many hours left in this one yet. 

Ink sample booklets

Today was pretty rough, I’m run down and overloaded after a really intense week. Friends were kind and after a miserable morning I ran away to my studio and felt a lot better. I decided to do a small project that kept me busy without taxing my mind too much, and create swatches of all my ink samples. This is handy for future projects to choose colours without having to open every bottle and try it. I’ve been collecting ink samples for a long time now, from local and overseas retailers and they are an amazing way to sample a range before choosing which colours you need a whole bottle of.
I’d bought these little booklets from YouFirstBinding on Etsy, and spent a happy afternoon filling them with nib and brush samples according to my code system for identifying the little bottles when they’re in the storage racks. 


So, not a wasted day. These little jobs are often difficult to find time for. They help studio work flow more smoothly and soothe a troubled heart. 

Rose is home

She’s stopped bleeding, which is wonderful, but we had an abrupt exit from hospital, before most test results had come in and we still don’t know what happened. We’re booked to follow up with our GP. 

I’m eyeball deep in the post talk slump. Amplified by arguments with the hospital staff, trying to get a handle on my business admin, long nights awake with Poppy, and a very stressed Star. 

Head down, teeth gritted, as much sleep and self care as possible. Lower expectations, lots of grace, be in the present moment and find calm when you can. Try not to run out of money, meds, patience, or humour. Don’t just react, reflect first. Make a decision and feel it out. Fall over and get up again. Hug someone. Eat something. Get out of your head and into a book or film. Stand in the night and watch the moon. Cry about it. Laugh about it. Write about it. Forget about it. 

Yesterday while we waited endlessly for a doctor to give us some information about Rose, I had to go and move our car so we didn’t get a ticket. The hospital is new, large, and extremely confusing to navigate. I wound up stuck in the underground staff carpark and ran the length of it out onto the nearby main road before I could find my way back to our car and then up to Rose again. I arrived exhausted just as the doctor left, and burst into tears. The staff looked at us indifferently while I sobbed in the corridor, because just a few hours before I had been holding Rose as she vomited so violently she passed out and fitted, and now she was being sent home with no answers and I was scared. 

Then I finished crying and ate some carrot sticks and we got out of there. Life is weird. Hospitals are weird. People are weird. 

I am restraining myself from setting fire to my business, particularly all the admin, the email backlog, the confusing filing system, and the memory of my own excitement and enthusiasm. 

Stupid post talk slump. 

On the upside I sold some art today, which is always nice. Rose is tired but still here and we’re okay. 

Rose is sick

Some days are rough. Rose woke up feeling very depressed and under the weather today. I took a slow morning and decided on a half day at work. The recent high winds blew a nest of two fledgling willy wag tails off a high wall and I found one dead and crushed on the driveway. Poppy was distraught when I left for work. Work was stressful admin and I felt very frustrated that I wasn’t able to get more done. 

Star had a rough day and called in for a lift home. I checked in with Rose who was now vomiting and down with what looks like gastro. I collected Poppy and drove into town to collect Star. Took the girls for ice cream to give Rose time to nap. Get a distressed call from Rose to say she’s vomiting blood. Call Mum. Run home, leave the girls to wait for Mum and take Rose to the ER. 

They took her straight through with her bag of blood for an X-ray and made me wait in the main room. It was scary. I started texting my people, looking for company to stop me crying. 

They let back in with her and managed to get a drip in on the fourth attempt. Meds start to calm her distress. They’re keeping her in overnight for an endoscopy and to get the rest of the test results back. She’s miserable but calmer. I’m tired and stressed. They are hoping it is a small tear in her esophagus – painful but not dangerous and most heal quickly. We should know more tomorrow. 

In a minute I’m going home to my lovely girls, to feel the empty space in my bed and hope again this is nothing. It’s been hard being here so often lately, we feel a bit cursed. I hope there are better days ahead and many many more of them. Some days just suck. 

Post TEDx and life is good!

TEDx was amazing. One of the most challenging experiences, akin to giving birth (but much quicker and with more laughing). I’d only managed to finalise my script a week beforehand and I knew in my bones that I was too rusty to have a 14 minute monologue memorised in that time. I did my best, but still had embarrassing blanks on the red dot. Fortunately it still went well!

The rehearsal was terrifying. My first time standing on the red dot I spoke the first page of my script until I blanked, then I had to sit down right there because I was about to faint and/or vomit. I felt like a needy, insecure diva, which was not particularly nice. I’m more used to being the person holding things together than the ‘talent’ in the middle and I was very conscious of that different role and found it a bit awkward. 

But it was also wonderful. I gave myself permission to soak up all that extra care and nurturing. I felt like a star! So much love came my way. Friends attending on the day, gift bags and flowers, my family putting up with the talk consuming everything else for the week. It felt extremely special to be in the middle of it all, and I realised that it’s not wrong or bad to be in the spotlight like that, is merely that everyone should get it some of the time. We are all the talent in some way, all experts in something. So I soaked it up and hope to share it around. 

On the night itself, complicated arrangements happened to look after Poppy, and I changed into my new dress, pinned the top shut, ran my lines one more time, got fitted with the mic, and went on stage. 

There’s a moment where you flip from terror to connection, and standing in front of nearly 1,000 people I could feel them all, like a warmth, the weight of their attention and the questions they are asking of me. Can you be trusted? Will you hurt us? Can you show us what you mean? Will you take us somewhere we haven’t been before? Can you bring us home again? And I say to them with word and hand and smile and joke, yes. Come into my world for a little while. And so we did. I talked about sex and being human, and I lost my place and blanked so badly Rose had to rescue me and call my lines out from the audience. We lived what I was sharing about: that it’s possible to be imperfect with grace and humour, that a great partnership can navigate tricky situations. That a sensitive discussion can feel safe. People seemed to really connect with it, nodding and paying close attention. I muddled through and made it safe to muddle.

I had a heckler, which I did not expect! I heard later the people seated around him were angry with him and shut him up quickly. Apparently someone told him people like him where why I was doing a talk like this. I feel so honoured to hear that, there was such a sense of unity, of common ground. 

The messages afterwards from people there or over email have been very affirming. All the way through I’ve done my best to hold tightly to my reasons for doing something so extraordinarily difficult – that it is meaningful and needed. I watched a lot of TED and TEDx talks about sex while preparing and most were what we are used to about this topic- clinical or research based. That’s valuable for sure, but when I’m sitting in a bed in my underpants there’s a big gap between that knowledge base and the conversation and experience I’m about to have. I could have written that talk and it’s a lot more removed and protected, a lot less intimate and exposing. But I have found there’s value in sharing and talking about this on a personal level, and it seems I’m not alone in that.

Poppy and I went off on a bus adventure yesterday! Here we are nibbling on plum leather from Grandma’s garden, and life is good.

I haven’t yet hit my anticipated post performance crash. I’m not sure why, I have some guesses…

  • It’s on its way but I’m still too excited currently. Maybe after the videos go up online? It doesn’t really feel over for me yet. 
  • I outsourced it. Rose had a couple of intense tired anxious feel awful days afterwards.
  • I did it before the performance. That sounds ridiculous, but to be honest the lead up was so difficult and since doing it my overwhelming emotion is relief. Intense, delightful relief! I did not enjoy the preparation much, but having gone through it I’m extremely glad and happy to have done it. I feel very fortunate and privileged. 

    We’ll have to wait and see what happens next! My awesome Office Manager suggested that I write down all the projects I could do next so I can start exploring my options, and it’s making my heart incredibly happy. I’ve had so many dreams for so many years and they all feel suddenly tangible and possible.

    I’ve so enjoyed taking the last few days off completely and absolutely soaking up my lovely family. Extra support and scheduling are making so much difference to my life. I can’t wait to sink my teeth into the next projects. And I can’t wait to share the TEDx video with you all. 

    TEDx Behind the Scenes

    tl:dr Being a TEDx speaker has involved a lot of background work in many areas for me. Also, I now I have a mailing list. It will be great for staying up to date with my events, launches, openings and so on. You can sign up here.

    I’m pretty sure the volunteer organisers behind TEDx have had a much bigger job than I have, but it’s been a huge project for me as a volunteer speaker too. I was thinking about it the other day and how much goes into making something like this happen, so little of which is evident on the stage (all going well, that is). It’s felt like several fairly large projects interconnected, for me.

    Talk Preparation

    The most obvious project has been preparing for my talk. It took me several weeks to craft the script. Emotionally Safer Sex is a huge topic I’m really passionate about. The format of TEDx is very different to what I’m used to in my other speaking experience. I don’t usually write a script but instead have a series of dot points to keep me on track, and I can expand or shrink the points depending on my audience. I also never memorise it – that’s been taking me way back to drama class at school. The sense of pressure is a lot higher due to the larger audience, tighter time frames (pretty rare for me to speak for under 15 minutes!), lots of other moving pieces, and the filming.

    Illustrating the talk stalled for a bit because I found I needed to completely restructure it to shave off 5 minutes. Also because I loved the idea of creating large scale paintings that could be hung at SHINE SA during my residency… but changing the format so much from what I’m familiar with was too much to deal with. I found it most productive to go back to small scale ink paintings as I usually do for talks.

    Online Abuse and Trolls

    One concern I had going into the TEDx talk was the possibility of dealing with some abuse once the video went up. It’s a personal, sensitive topic and I’m female (or female presenting) which can mean trouble online. I did a bit of looking into what other people’s experiences have been and was pretty horrified by what I heard. At least one other TEDx speaker has had significant ongoing troubles with harassment and abuse since their talk. They described a regular torrent of dick pics, rape threats, and death threats. That gave me pause.

    I had to really think about what I am doing this, and what price I’m prepared to pay for it. I reached out to a number of people I know navigating public life and gathered some resources. If this happens to me (it may not!) I want to have a strategy on hand to deal with it. The methods I use at the moment work well for the level of abuse I currently encounter, which is only occasional. Sometimes I deconstruct it publically such as this anonymous email and this facebook post. Often I simply let it go. Sometimes I engage directly.

    Like bullies, online abusers are diverse. There is no one best right approach. Calling them all trolls is unhelpful. Sometimes people are trolling – ie deliberately trying to provoke a response because they are sadists and pain and distress amuse them. But it’s certainly possible to be abusive without being a sadist. Other people are angry or hurt and lashing out. Abuse often comes my way when I am dealing with someone suicidal, for example. When I was a kid in school I was bullied by many different kids for very different reasons. Some lacked empathy and had a lot of power. Others were being abused at home and taking out their frustrations on me. Some were simply making sure that someone else was at the bottom of the pecking order. Some were attacking anything different without even understanding why it made them feel so uncomfortable. Different bullies needed different approaches, and those of us who are attacked have different resources and skills available to deal with it.

    So I get pretty frustrated at the ABC advice out there – sometimes ‘don’t feed the trolls’ is the way to go and sometimes it means you don’t get to say the things you need to, to take care of yourself, or a troll attacks you and savours your silent suffering instead. Sometimes silence is the language of power and sometimes it’s just being silenced and blaming the victim for crying out when they are harmed.

    Amanda Palmer and John Scalzi are two people who’s approach to abuse I admire. Scalzi grades his hatemail. Palmer gathers so much support from her community online that mostly the abuse is drowned out. When it can’t be – she withdraws and is hurt for a time. Then she comes back. Pretending to be okay isn’t her style.

    So there’s been an interesting reflective and investigative process started on the side since TEDx kicked off. What happens online and how are people dealing with it? At the moment I’m feeling okay about my approach. I know where to reach out if that changes.

    Post Show Blues

    A long term issue for many performers – I’ve just learned. That’s rather helpful to know! I have written about this many times, which is handy because I’m giving it a lot of attention at the moment. Why is it sometimes much worse than others? What helps me? I wrote about the crash afterwards for me from the Voices Vic Conference. Things were a little different after speaking at the World Voice Hearing Congress¬†because that was the time that Rose was dealing with¬†an assault. At first it looked like caring for her helped me skip the post talk crash. But no, I found it had merely delayed, my journals show that the next week I was in a really rough place.

    It’s not always talks that set it off, sometimes I meltdown¬†following intrusive intake assessments or being interviewed. There’s possibly two different processes going on for me – a vulnerability hangover from being¬†alone and naked in front of the crowd¬†as well as post show blues from the wrap up of a big project and rest phase of energy cycles.

    But it’s not always the same, sometimes it is more like the ISPS conference At the end¬†where it was a very gentle experience of transitioning out of that space. I experienced it intensely this week after merely doing a talk run through with the SHINE SA staff – which surprised me greatly. So I’ve been thinking and reading about this too – why do I give talks considering how they impact me? Why do they sometimes have a worse impact than others? What helps other people deal with it? What might work for me?

    So far my plan for TEDx is to:

    I’ll see how that works. Maybe I get better at handling these, or maybe I do less of them, I don’t know yet.

    Business Development

    Will I be ready to reach for opportunities that might come? TEDx is a bigger platform, not just for my ideas, but for my work. One of my first conferences was interstate, speaking as a mental health service user about my experience of peer workers. It was the first time I had ever stayed in a hotel. I was caring for a family member who had been in terrible crisis for months. Just before I left I discovered they had a suicide plan in play during my trip. I was drowning and clutching to my work to help look after my own fragile mental health. I arranged boarding for the pets, hospital for my loved one, and finishing painting my last illustration a few minutes before leaving for the airport.

    I got a standing ovation and a lot of hugs. Someone approached me about creating a logo for their new NFP. People wanted to buy my poetry and share it. A book publisher gave me his card and asked me to get in touch. I was ecstatic and overwhelmed. I went and hid in the toilets until everyone left for the next talk.

    Then I came home to the anguish and exhaustion waiting for me there, and I did not have what it takes to reach out. I still have the publishers business card and contacting him is still on my to do list. Many of the opportunities dried up before I could grasp them, and others were so overwhelming I never even tried. Responsibilities elsewhere, life crisis, and anxiety kept me down.

    I have some big dreams. I want to support my family and use my skills in the world in a sustainable way. The gap between where I have been and where I am going is huge and some of it is about networks, some about skills, and some about managing the psychological shifts. It is in the things I don’t know, and the things I don’t know I don’t know. My sense of value of myself, of entitlement, of morality. The culture that is my norm,¬†my people and the tremendous tension in trying to stay connected and at the same time, leave for something better. Honor my past, love my tribe, but build a better future.

    So I’ve started a process of business development with Christina from Creative Consultancies¬†and recruited help in the form of an awesome Office Manager. I am setting myself up. A new website will be coming soon, and in the meantime, a clearer business with better project management, admin structures, and marketing processes. I’m already holding off a number of people and exciting project opportunities while I get my ducks in a row so I can schedule my time better and pick up those I love most without winding up working until 3am on a regular basis.

    I’ve also¬†finally set up something people have been asking for for years – a mailing list to keep people updated with the big events without having to trawl my blog to find the details. Once TEDx is done, I’ll send out the first email.

    Now I’m going to run off to the Adelaide town hall to check out which of my outfits works better and do yet another run through of my script. There’s still some tickets left if you want to come. Wish me luck!

    Grasping opportunities

    Glorious opportunity today to learn with Gemma Black, an accomplished calligraphic artist. Strengthening my watercolour and gilding skills.  

    I’ve been waiting for this workshop most of this year- there’s not many opportunities to learn gilding here in SA. I was not disappointed, rather, affirmed. This method of continuing my arts education outside of a degree program is working incredibly well for me. I choose highly skilled teachers in areas I’m passionate about and take workshops and short classes. My skills are improving significantly and also my confidence in myself as an artist.

    The TEDx taster and open mic in Rundle Mall went really well the other day. The talks were well received and there were some pretty fantastic contributions from the crowd too. A talk by an Iranian immigrant really spoke to me. I often feel I’m so late in figuring out my career, but here was this guy retraining in his fourties to grasp opportunities in Australia. Sometimes life takes funny roads.

    There’s still time to grab a ticket if you’ve been on the fence about it. They include dinner and an after party with the speakers and organisers. If you come, find me afterwards and tell me what spoke to you!

    Huge kudos to Rose who is helping me memorise my talk and has now heard it about 40,000 times. She’s amazing! ‚̧

    Developing my business

    It’s been a fantastic day. I’ve spend the morning working on business development and TEDx preparation, and the afternoon adding to the underpainting of my oil painting from the techniques of the masters class I’m doing. 

    I’ve taken some big steps investing in my business and I’m feeling less confused and a lot more excited. For starters I’m doing something I’ve always wanted to do and hiring an office manager with special skills in marketing. Outsourcing my weakest areas! She’s brilliant and I’m incredibly excited to be working with her. This means several things fur me. For starters, much better biographies, such as: 

    Sarah K Reece is a creator and humanitarian, whose portfolio is as diverse as their experiences.

    A survivor of homelessness, domestic violence, and trauma, Sarah draws on personal experience of tragedy, joy, passion, and the complexity of human relationships to create art that connects people. Sometimes confronting and always compassionate, Sarah’s art delves into hidden, private, or marginalised experiences, expressed with aching beauty and quiet joy. They work in oil painting, inks, body painting, sculpture, poetry, and book making, among many other media.


    Sarah is known for their work within the mental health community, partnering with government agencies, NGOs, and volunteer organisations to help them create better relationships with their service users, and to service servicing the community with innovative and authentic approaches. They have also been interviewed on their experience with multiplicity by organisations such as Muse Magazine, The Messenger, Radio Adelaide, and SANE Australia.


    In their travels Sarah has met with then Prime Minister Julia Gillard to discuss service user experiences; presented internationally (including for Google and Hearing Voices International Conference); co-designed, facilitated, and illustrated a state-wide consultation process for the SA Mental Health Commission; worked with a team to create the short film Regeneration (awarded Best Drama Under 10 Minutes in the Picture This Film Festival); written over 1000 blog posts since 2011; hosted their own solo exhibitions; and donated thousands of unpaid hours to developing and facilitating social networks and support groups face to face and online.


    Sarah offers consulting services related to their fields of expertise, and is always on the lookout for their next big adventure.


    Isn’t that great? And accurate and feels like me… I’m starting to get along with marketing now I’ve realised the good stuff isn’t slick or manipulative. 

    The other thing this means that once I get my act together, I’m going learn better time management skills and between that and extra help I will actually get on top of my emails! I can’t wait to see how much better I’ll sleep without 4,000 emails in my inbox. 

    Things are coming along well. I have a week to memorise my script for TEDx, and it’s been really good fun to spend time with the other speakers. If you haven’t bought a ticket yet (it includes dinner and after party) you can grab it here.

    There’s some fantastic projects being sent my way, I can’t wait to see what happens next. 

    Come and sample TEDx for free

    I’ll be in Rundle Mall today with the TEDx team, as part of an open mic event (details here). 11.30am, free, come along to meet the speakers, get a taster of the talks, and pitch your idea worth idea sharing. ūüôā 

    I have finally finished my script about Emotionally Safer Sex, and have whittled it down to within my time limit! I am very excited about this, it was starting to feel impossible. I have a suite of artworks ready for the PowerPoint and only one left to paint today. I’ve reassured myself that all the beautiful stories and ideas I had to cut out of the talk can go into a book at some stage. It’s been a huge project, and it’s coming together at last. Next step is to memorize the script and digitally process the artworks. Onwards!

    TEDx – Emotionally Safer Sex

    My topic for TEDx Adelaide is close to my heart. Personal, meaningful, at times uncomfortable and vulnerable, but very precious.

    POSTCARD

    This is not easy. A friend noted yesterday that there’s some irony in what I do – working to make difficult things feel safer for others, in a way that so often feels risky and stressful for me.

    It’s not easy but it is an amazing opportunity. I love sharing ideas that make a difference in the world, that help free people from ideas that were harming them. I love to give people permission to examine what they think they know. I love to validate people’s real, often unspoken experiences. I love to talk about complex concepts in plain language, and use words that describe experiences from the inside, not as a detached observer. I love to ease isolation and needless suffering, and to help people find ways to bear the pain that is the unavoidable cost of loving and being alive.

    I don’t believe I have the answers, the map, the definitive guide, the solutions. What I do have is the capacity and willingness to share my personal experiences, the ability to absorb and synthesise a lot of research and written knowledge, and the opportunity to gather feedback from others and add it to my ideas.

    I can’t tell you what what emotionally safer sex, or mental health, or connected relationships, or a meaningful life will look like for you.

    But I can start these conversations in a compassionate and authentic way, and invite you along.

    Let’s talk about sex.

    Join me at TEDx Adelaide.

     

    TEDx sneak peak

    Today I delivered the first trial of my talk to staff at SHINE SA, who were wonderfully enthusiastic! I need to cut down the time a bit further so I’m going to drop a couple of points and work on making the remaining ones striking and simple.

    I’ve begun my illustrations, which are taking quite a bit of time because I want them to be a good representation of diverse people and bodies. I have finished 4 so far. 

    It took a lot of time to find the right medium and colour for this series, I love the mix of teal (Robert Oster, Tranquility) and orange (Noodler’s Habanero). Here’s my final test sheet where I found the colour mix I wanted.

    What am I about?

    For my studio opening I made a little gift for everyone who came, a sticker.

    I love it very much. I adore it. And I keep coming back to a question posed in the great ‘Vision and Mission’ workshop by Christina the other day – what am I about?

    What am I here to do? What do I believe? What message underlies all my work? This mad business I’m running where I use so many different skills – what thread links it all?

    I hit exhaustion not long ago and I still have days where it bites at my heels, reminding me I can’t run on empty for too long. I’m turning my ideas on their head. The things at the periphery of my life need to be in the centre. Wildness is the wellspring of my art, not a treat I get to have every now and then if I finish all my tasks. Relationships are deeply important to me, and while I need some solitary and reflective time, I tend to recharge with people I love and feel safe with. I can find the courage to reach out to like-mind communities – I’m not the only person out there doing what I’m trying to do and I don’t have to be alone or do it all myself. I can ask for help and learn from others.

    I’m giving great thought to my business model. What am I doing? What do I want to be doing? What are my skills, and how do I showcase them? Where do I thrive? What renews me? What do I want out of a career? What do I need to do to get there?

    My business is amazing and there’s a lot about it that I love. This year has been brilliant for me, I’ve worked with many people I really respect and appreciate, on projects that I genuinely believe in, and have had a huge challenge to my perceptions of the value of what I do. I’ve been tango-ing with success and all that means! It has turned my world upside down, given me my first experiences of real income, and a sense of the tipping point that happens when enough people believe in you and enough projects – especially public projects – showcase your skills. I walked into an art shop a little while ago and had to stop and catch my breath when I realised for the first time in my life I could buy any item in the store I wanted. So now what?

    It’s also been exhausting, confusing, overwhelming, and stressful. I’ve found myself feeling incredibly exposed at developing my business in a public way – showing myself through this blog, my vulnerabilities and learning along the way. I’ve fought intensely with myself to hold my space and not tear down this blog and every other evidence of vulnerability that might make someone feel worried about hiring me. Vulnerability and authenticity are part of what I do. I can contextualise them. I can change my relationship to them. I don’t have to be afraid. Some days it feels like I’m running 20 different businesses and I’m so tired and confused I can’t get out of bed. I don’t really understand what I’ve done well to get to this point, so figuring out how to keep doing it is mind bending.

    The challenge I have set myself this year is to use these successes to invest in my business. So I’m looking into different models and mentors and exploring how other people balance art and business. Where does the money come from, and where is the heart free to do what it needs? Businesses do not only need money, they also need all the ingredients that keep you thriving – they run on the things that meet emotional needs, the things that nurture inspiration or renew compassion. What works for me?

    Artist and Consultant. It feels like an excellent fit in many ways. I had the amusing experience of catching up with a wonderful client earlier this year and telling them how excited I was to be reading about consultants and facilitators and seeing my own skills and passions – that I felt I’d finally found a thing I excelled at in business. What was amusing is they’d no idea I hadn’t already known this, it seemed so obvious to them. Consultancy allows me to showcase the skills I have, such as facilitation, in an environment that cares little for how I attained them – only the skills themselves are important. It’s perfect for someone like me who has walked a different road to competence than the usual.

    Even more though, as I examine this question – what am I about – I realise that the informal way I’ve gathered my skills is part of the heart of this. It’s no accident I didn’t just get a degree like my peers. Each time higher education/formal education has threatened something deeply precious to me, I’ve pulled back. I adore learning and I’m passionate about good teaching but so often what I’ve encountered would have crushed the knowledge base I already had, instead of scaffolding it. I know things that are personal, and nebulous, and difficult to put into words. They are precious because they are part of how I view the world, part of how I live, part of my resilience, and my poetry, my love and spirit. I have had to work hard to keep them safe in educational contexts that have been aggressively dogmatic and intended to produce a standardised result in all the students. We all now make only this kind of art in this way and revere only these artists as ‘real artists’. We all now think of humans and psychology in this way, we revere these people as experts and those we decry without reading. We all think of ourselves this way and practice this way and it is impersonal, inflexible, lacking in doubt, adaptability, freedom, or wildness. It is everything I am not, and in the context of tragedy in my personal life, I’ve been unable to keep my heart safe enough to endure it. I’ve needed those skills daily.

    I sat in my first welcome class for those of us who attained high enough results in year 12 to get into the bachelor of psychology with honors program. I sat at the back in my electric scooter, an anomaly in a space dedicated to the most able. They told us that we were the ‘cream of the crop’ in a lecture so reminiscent to the repulsive one given to the doctors in Patch Adams ‘you will not be men anymore you will be doctors’ that I laughed, thinking it was clever satire. It was not satire and I was the only one was laughed. I shut up. I struggled through the first year of the degree, getting high distinctions, dealing with the sense of shame I felt at being so visibly different, dealing with death in the family and homelessness, and PTSD, and not being able to sleep, and the student services shutting me out of the counselling program when I ‘confessed’ to having DID. And then I withdrew and went back to devouring libraries, thinking, reflecting, experiencing, and attaching myself to brilliance and competence wherever I found it in an unofficial apprenticeship. The formal education stopped and the learning continued.

    So, what am I about? Who am I in the world? What is the heart that links all that I do?

    Sometimes that’s easiest to see in shadow. What I am NOT about is the rote, impersonal, or dehumanised. I am not about reductionism or easy answers. I am not about dogma, violence, oppression, conformity, competition, or domination. I am not about the slick, deceptive, untrustworthy, or parasitic. I am not about disconnection, loneliness, isolation, and secrets. I am not about forcing people into roles, defining them, their lives, their self, their story.

    I am relentlessly human. I am passionate about the intimate, the informal, personal knowledge and experience. I am about the idiosyncratic and diverse. I am about freedom and self-determination. Complexity and authenticity over certainty and being acceptable. I am about holding beliefs lightly and the capacity to doubt. I am about community, connection, friendships, and integrity. I am about holding spaces for things it is difficult to face, and finding ways of communicating about things it is difficult to name. I am about the heart, the subtle, the nebulous, the things that make life worth living. I am about speaking to pain, easing suffering and loneliness, and celebrating the hidden beauty in people. I am about the vastness of life, the simple pleasures, the deep anguish, the glorious sublime. I am about using courage and passion and honesty to help all us to really live.

    Why? Because these are the things I value and the things I need too, the passing back and forth of wisdom and hope and inspiration and compassion as we warm our hands at each other’s fire. I am not about these things as the expert but as a passionate seeker. I have skills and competencies in listening, communication, connecting, creating, storytelling. But I do not stand on a platform above others, I share from a place among us. Here is a gift I have found in the desert, it is a shining star that I have followed out of loneliness and anguish – use it as you can. And when I am again lost, alone and in anguish, share it back with me. Remind me of the light. Our freedom is bound up in each other’s freedom. We are all human together, and everything we do makes each of us a little more, or a little less human.

    There are only two languages, love and fear.

    -Leunig

    I welcome your thoughts too. You have a different perspective to me, looking from the outside in. What am I about?

    And if you would like a sticker about diversity, let me know. ‚̧

    Rethinking Money

    For my Studio Opening last weekend, I created a goody bag of treasures. This was partly to deal with my anxiety about charging tickets for the first time. I was charging tickets to deal with my anxiety about catering for an event when numbers were unknown. I also like to use small events like this to test run tools or things I want to offer such as my point of sale system, ticketing, or catering. There’s always glitches to iron out and skills to learn, and I like to figure this stuff out small scale first. The irony in this instance is that selling tickets created such severe anxiety for me it nearly completely incapacitated me to actually run the event. I’m working on this. I’ve been reading and exploring about Abundance through a book The Abundance Code and video by Julie Ann Cairns.

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    Julie explores the things that block us around money. Anyone who has been following me here on this blog knows I have some big ones. At first I was embarrassed to even be seen reading a book like this. The word ‘money’ on the cover was bad enough, the word ‘rich’ was unbearable for someone who has been choked by the idea that being a decent person and earning money was frankly incompatible… that intentionally seeking money was vulgar and repulsive. I’ve also been pinned by an intense sense of responsibility to support my family and give my kids opportunities. Crushed between these ideas my anxiety has been extreme and I’ve been grappling for a path I can walk.

    So I’ve been reading in small doses and journaling, and my thinking is shifting. I’m exposing myself to people who are ethical about money, people who want to make money but without exploiting or harming others, and people who care deeply about social justice and vulnerable people. I’m digging into my history and pulling out the stories I’ve been told or telling myself. With the tickets for my opening – $4 each to help me nail the catering and not get caught running an open tab in case a million TEDx people turned up unexpectedly (numbers are more likely to be accurate when people spend even a small amount on a ticket) – I finally found the thorn in my heel. That it was okay for others to value my work but not for me to assign it value of even the smallest amount. I wrote on my heart that day ‘You do not have to like, value, understand, or pay for what I do. However, I’m allowed to’. And finally, after 4 huge meltdowns, I’d named the distress and the panic drained away so I could breathe again.

    The model I’ve run my networks in is one of charity, which is brilliant in some ways but problematic in others. Not being included in a community with something of your own to offer – only being the recipient of care – carries a cost and a distress I’m all too familiar with. 

    The model I’ve been running my business on, where I scatter myself across many skills and let clients set the price and value of my work also needs rethinking. With good clients it doesn’t work so badly, with some it leaves me vulnerable to exploitation. Either way it’s an irritating unexpected hassle to deal with when hiring me should be simple, comfortable, and create confidence that of course I will do, to a high standard, what I’ve been contracted to do. 

    Rose and I have transitioned from her working and I run the household to the reverse, which has been a huge goal for many years! I am thrilled. Now I want to grow my business with the goal of moving us out of public housing into a secure, larger home. But I’m also taking the pressure off myself. I’ve realised the brutal imperative I’ve been experiencing to be financially independent now, is really not borne out of my values, but a parasite that’s attached itself to me from other’s beliefs. Right now it’s most important for my family to have a parent who is somewhat sane, connected, and nurturing. Burning myself out costs all of us too dearly.

    Not so many years ago I was homeless, profoundly ill, isolated, and struggling to survive. My business has been a passion for many years and it is growing well. It’s okay that it’s not supporting us yet. It’s okay that I still have skills to hone and tools to develop. It’s okay that I’ve mistakes the way. And it’s okay for me to explore my values around money and deliberately set out to create a sustainable business. To find my own elegant and ethical way to blend my passions for creativity and meaning with income.