I’m so excited about Abigail’s Retail masterclass today I can’t sleep. It doesn’t help that Juliana sent me final artwork for my business cards at 11 last night and today I’m 43.
The last time I flew to London I was commuting weekly to a writing job off Fleet Street. I still remember the underground’s stench and how instead of smelling stale or dirty it felt like home. My joy at resuming my career was cut short when six months in my son (who lives in Edinburgh) asked me why I had to work and why if I really had to work I couldn’t just get a job in Edinburgh? I couldn’t do it after that. I got a contract back in Scotland 2 months later, but office hours being what they are, saw precious little of my children. He’s a smart kid and I could see by his face I wasn’t explaining it very well.
I don’t know why it’s more heartbreaking knowing your kids are just down the road being tucked in by their dad, it just is. I’ve never lived with children in London so when I’m here forget to miss them.
Working gave me the confidence to start redecorating my home. Midway through what became a never ending project, I discovered Abigail Ahern’s blog demanding that I “decorate with courage” and start working for myself. Writers seize on everything like magpies. I was never going back to the office after that. Countless posts on the importance of ‘Following your heart’, ‘Taking the plunge’, (you get the idea) as well as ‘how to’ posts on ‘Creating home offices’ left me no choice but to live my creative dream.
An October post gives practical advice on how your home office should be away from all distractions, specifically the kitchen and TV. I watch TV online on my Mac so already I was breaking fundamental rules. But since I used to walk to work (1 hour each way), take another hour for lunch and stop for umpteen snacks and coffees, I figured I had at least 5 productive extra hours a day anyway and could afford one little indulgence.
I try to keep my guilty pleasures work-related so my current daytime viewing is “The Real Housewives of NYC”. It’s more of a reality check than a reality show. A reminder of how much people consume (even in recession) and how galling it is to be replaced by a younger model despite gazillions in the bank. I love the housewives’ inspiration, desperation and exploration. They tirelessly reinvent themselves (creating multi-million dollar brands along the way), teeter on divorce (from which they never recover) and leave no far-flung vacation destination undiscovered. The only extra curricula activity on my agenda when I was a housewife was feeling bored and drinking coffee with equally bored, frustrated mothers.
Then there’s the fabulous NYC apartments. The show showcases their kitchens mostly – all to die for, surprisingly small, nothing overly modern. My favourite (Cindy’s) has a real fire – in an apartment building! How is that even possible????
When your friends’ homes are too grand to have that ‘lived in’ look I love to photograph it’s important to have a fantasy. I know only too well how difficult it is redecorating when you’re not the one bringing home the bacon.
Which brings me to why I’m sitting in my hotel room at 4am frantically writing this post. Work should be a joy, not a chore. It shouldn’t distance you from loved ones but enable you to earn and share your passions. If it doesn’t enrich your life beyond the material and give you a little kick of pleasure, switch careers. Women need to work. It gives us confidence. The confidence to know that you can lose your money, lose your man but never lose sight of “who I am”.