I often describe myself as a “jack of all trades, master of none.” As an adult I have graduated from drama school with a 2:1 and worked as a Stage manager in professional theatre, and in education. I retrained as a chef and began blogging about food. I had a baby and trained as a Baby Carrying consultant and ran my own business as well as working for an online retailer. I found that social media and graphics grew out of my love of being online and my artisticness. And then finally had to accept that I needed to stop working for a while for my health. This lead me back to art and blogging as a way to have purpose while I go through treatment.
Both of my parents have worked within the same institutions for their entire careers, climbing the ladder, having 9-5 jobs, and I grew up believing this was the normal life that I was to expect. School, college, university and then a job. Not just a job, but a career followed by marriage and babies. I just was brought up to believe that this is the not so secret of happiness.
I have hit a few makers in my life. I got good GCSE, but dropped out of ALevels because I hated them, but loved the BTEC in Performing arts that I did instead. I went to university (a drama school in London who did degrees specialising in technical theatre disaplines.) and graduated with a good degree. I started my carreer in theatre and for five years I worked hard. I had a boyfriend, I owned a flat. We planned our wedding, and our life together. He had to take a permanent Job in Coventry so that we could buy a house and start our family. My job prospects dived. There was no theatre work locally, so from that point on my fortunes changes.
Fast forward 8 years and I’m nearly a year into the separation with my husband. I am Co-parent to a wonderful little girl who is totally the love of my life. I have been out of work and living on disability for nearly a year, while undergoing treatment. Which I have mentioned in a previous post; My perfect week (which never happens)
I have a cat, a new boyfriend, amd many wonderful friends, but I am still discontent. I struggle with family interactions, my illness leaves me unmotivated and unable to do things that most people can do everyday, and it sucks.
Being a part time mum gives the joy of my child, and time off to rediscover myself, recover from life and balance myself.
One of my major issues is my own self worth. I have always measured my “success” on the life template that was set up by my parents and society. I am not someone that has ever fitted in, so why did I try to “follow” the normal track of life!
I think the simple answer is that we all want to know the future. It’s why people read horoscopes and visit fortune tellers. We all want to be happy, rich, and be in love. But if we could just find inner worth and happiness, then surely it would be an easier life.
I have started thinking about my talents, and what makes me happy. And I think my loves reflect a lot of the life that I’ve had. I have a wide taste, but the majority of my true loves reflect magic and escapism.
Generally literature is a massive part of my life. Theatre was an extension of this. I have dyslexia and stuggled with language and reading at a young age. Audiobooks and theatre (later film) opened up many rabbit holes I loved disappearing into to escape the mundane days, and made me feel less alone.
Harry Potter came into my life when I was 17, the summer I left ALevels. I’d had a nervous break down, been put on anti depressants for the first time and was lost. My mum suggested I read the books as something to do. I devoured the first three books in a weekend and Goblet of fire.
Studio Ghibli and anime
My best friend at uni introduced me to Studio Ghibli when she returned from a trip to Japan, and I instantly loved it. In particular My Neighbour Totoro. Became my favourite film ever. Looking back, it had beautiful artwork based on nature, young girls being guided through difficult times, and a large fluffy Forrest spirit who protected the girls in their times of need. Oh yeah and an awesome giant cat who happened to be a bus! I can see why I needed this film, and why I still use Totoro as my protector when I do grounding exercises.
I definitely lean towards the films with a young girl as the main character ( which is quite a big thing in Studio Ghibli anyway. my other Ghibli favourites are “Kiki’s delivery service”, “Arriety” based on “The Borrowers” and “Ponyo”. They all reflect the strong female spirit within.
There are of course others Japanese anime that have fallen into the same vanes, such as “Mary and the Witch’s flower” based on a British book named the same.
In my twenties, I wore black. I hated my body, and slowly put on weigh. It wasn’t important what I looked like as I had a partner, and I concentrated on my work. Since becoming a mum, my life has been full of little girl clothing bursting with colour, and it made me think differently about myself. I started buying shoes that made me smile (irregular choice), stepped out of my comfort zone, and started wearing colour, and clothing that I truly love. I lost nearly three stone in weight through slimming word (which I have gradually put back on, but I don’t actually mind being curvier). I get compliments all the time now, dispite not being particularly pretty or slim. And I know this comes from within. Although I’m ill, I am no longer depressed, and the clothing makes me feel truly like myself. I wear it for no one else but me.
Over the last year, my love of clothing has expanded out to jewellery. Now this might sound expensive, but I find that the stuff I love are like little pieces of art. And to top it off fall into the catagory of “costume jewellery”. I love geeky pin badges, acrylic brooches and bold statement necklaces. They make me happy, and I love to gross up my outfits, jackets and bags with them to make them more me.
Art and writing
Art and writing is where I can truest express myself. And not use other people and stuff to hide behind. If I write something, I only do it because it’s something I need to express. If I draw or paint something, it has a purpose, wether it is simply to fuel myself, or share some beauty with the world. I love using photography, digital art, painting with acrylics to express myself. But I find that writing has very much got me out of my comfort zone, and pushed my limits. The blogging group has got me out of the house and led to new experiences. I have made new friends and found my brain still works. I have found a new thing that I enjoy through writing. I have rediscover my creativity (which I barely used for 10 years) and through this I am learning that it doesn’t define me, but nor does my illness. I am finally starting to understand how to make myself happy.
It really doesn’t matter wether you have one talent, or many. You can only be who you are, and do not try to fit yourself into a life that isn’t yours. Don’t try and follow a path that isn’t working for you. Be yourself, find your own happiness, what ever that maybe.
Addendum: over the past few days I’ve. Even considering one other area of my life. And That is Food and Drink. I struggle with this subject, as it causes both pleasure and pain for me. I had issues in my teens with food, as many do, and had many arguments with my parents about it, and had much bullying about my weight. After I left home, I discovered my love of cooking, entertaining and eating out in restaurants. In my early twenties I stopped giving most people presents, as I realised taking them out for a meal not only meant I got to treat someone, but that I got to try places that I simply couldn’t go on my own. I found many gems in London, and found “top table”, a website where you could go to top restaurants in cheap deals due to day, time or special menu. This me2nt I could afford Michelin starred meals on my theatre wage (which was a pittance).
I enjoyed visiting markets, farm shops out in Kent, and places like Chinatown to get special ingredients to cook exciting meals at home. And I even put in a fancy kitchen costing a fortune in my flat, which I only got to use for two years before we moved out of London. (I planned to extend our new home and put in an equally impressive kitchen into our new house in Coventry, but circumstance being as they were, 8 years later this still hasnt happened.)
After the move to Coventry, I soon came to the conclusion that theatre work was not my immediate future. I started food blogging, and even applied for “Masterchef” (which I got through three rounds of Pre-television auditions.) I signed up for a Professional Cookery part-time course at the local college, and got a job at a cafe in Birmingham. The cafe was in a station, and it was mostly breakfast and sandwiches, but I learned how to use a proper coffee machine, and was trained as a barista by the manager. The coffee was so good, and although I had liked coffee since I was about 18, this is when I started to understand and enjoy its complexities.
Three months later I got my first job as a commis chef in a gastropub, and started my 1 day a week course. This was the hardest job I’ve ever had. I lasted 7 months, and I cried nearly every day. I ended up being fired when a new general manager took over the pub and changed the entire team. It was a great thing looking back, as I had been too stubborn to quite. I went to the doctor and got anti depressants and took three months to recover and finish my course.
Once I started to feel better, I got a job in a cafe as chef and manager. It was within a farm shop, and it had just had a grant to extend the kitchen, and this made it possible to add more complexity to the menu, and increase the capacity of the venue. This was a great job, but a few months later I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. I was there for a little over 10months, and decided that it wasn’t something I wanted to go back to. Thus ended my chef career (although I do occasionally do relief chef work for a friend in her nursery when the usual chef is on holiday, and I really love doing that!)
I have run a training kitchen within Coventry university, but to be honest that used my skill Of organisation, food hygiene and the bits I had learned while attending “Slimming world” more then anything that I did as a chef.
Now I find I spend as little time in the kitchen as possible, I much prefer being out of the house and try not to think too much about food, except to photograph and blog. I have trauma and issues that need to be explored still, so currently it’s something that is still difficult to think too hard about. Maybe in the future I will be able to share more.