Ten Questions to ask yourself #2
A few months ago I decided I would keep a list of all the interview questions I came across that I wish someone would ask me, and just ask them to myself as a way for me to know myself better and for you to get to know me a little better too. If you'd like to join in, please do post your questions and answers on your blog or Instagram, but be sure to tag me or leave the link here in the comments so I can read it. I'd love to know some more about you too. Read the first entry in the series here.
At the risk of using the (overused) word “balance”…how do you find your own?
It's an ongoing struggle for me, but I am getting better at understanding that it's not linear. Different aspects of my life pull at me in different ways at different times. Sometimes I lean more towards family commitments, other times I'm in a busy season of work and so that takes most of my attention. Trying to achieve a daily or even weekly balance is almost impossible, so I try to look at my life and work as something seasonal. If I can find a natural balance and rhythm throughout the year then I think I'm probably doing OK. Listening to my body is also something I've learnt to do more of this past year, it's usually pretty good at telling me when some area of my life is feeling a little out of whack. I use it to help me navigate a route to my own personal balance, rather than one I arbitrarily set for myself.
How has motherhood refocused/re-shifted/redefined your approach to your work?
The lack of time I have as a mother has given me the ability to focus on getting a task done without worrying too much about it. When you work in the cracks of time, done is always better than perfect. Since my daughter was born, I've looked at the time we have available to us in such a different way. I feel a sense of my own expiration date more keenly than before, and am able to prioritise what is essential to me living a healthy, happy and fulfilling life. The time I have with my daughter is the most precious thing I will ever have, and so I am careful to only give that up for something that's really of value to me.
Motherhood has also infused me with a greater sense of self confidence and bravery. allowed a re-birth of sorts for myself too, an evaluation of how I'm living my life and how I can change that to be the best example I can be for my daughter. It really pushes me forwards, to seek excellence and to make work that feels important And, of course, not to forget that sometimes a day spent chasing butterflies in the garden is the most meaningful, wonderful thing I will ever do.
What are you reading right now? What’s next on your list?
I always have a pile of books on the go, delving into different ones depending on my mood or what I'm doing. Currently I am completely engrossed in 'The Shepherd's Life' by James Rebanks, I am halfway through 'Braving the Wilderness' by Brené Brown and I have just finished 'In Praise of Slowness' by Carl Honore. Next on my list is 'Women Who Run With the Wolves' by Clarissa Pinkola Estes and "Start With Why" by Simon Sinek. I'm also dipping in and out of 'The Montessori Toddler' by Simone Davies which is really fantastic and comprehensive.
What are some of the most unusual sources of inspiration for you?
Probably my plants, but I'm not sure if that's unusual or not. I have about 100 indoor plants in my house, and they always remind me that there are seasons for growth and seasons to lie dormant. They help me slow down, connect to the earth and understand resilience when ever I water and nurture them. It's the ultimate inspiration to me when I feel connected to something outside of myself, that's larger than myself. I'm not a religious person, so in the absence of a God to put my faith in I look to nature for my sermons. Since we moved house, I've ventured outdoors a little with my gardening too. I'm a total novice, but seeing plants and flowers in my garden every day and all the butterflies and insects that go along with them makes my heart happy.
5 WORD MEMOIR – GO!
Embracing my inner chaos muppet.
WHAT IS ONE UNKNOWN FACT ABOUT YOU?
I used to compete as a pole-vaulter.
WHAT ARE STRUGGLES OR CHALLENGES YOU FACE IN YOUR WORK AND HOW DO YOU MANAGE THEM?
Juggling work and family is the biggest struggle for me at the moment. With a 2.5 year old at home with me all day every day I have only small pockets of time to do any focused work at all, and my shoot days are limited to when my partner is off work to care for our daughter. I am often not as present as I would like to be, because I'm on my laptop over breakfast, editing during nap times and catching up on admin in the evenings. It stretches me to my limits, and is only sustainable for very short periods of time.
I do my best to have boundaries and to stick to them, but during busy seasons it doesn't always happen. My aim is to avoid taking on too much work and over scheduling myself, to prioritise my health and my rest and to think carefully about the kind of work I take on. Be intentional and grow my business steadily, price myself fairly and not work all the time for very little money. It's hard when you're starting out, but I'm halfway through my second year and things are improving all the time.
Listening to my body as best I can, and being sensitive to my partner's and daughter's needs as well as my own really helps me manage my work load, because I can step back a bit and see the bigger picture. It becomes not all about 'shoot, edit, get new clients, repeat' and more about our lives and family as a whole.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE THING ABOUT YOUR WORK AND DO YOU HAVE ANY VISIONS FOR THE FUTURE?
My favourite thing about my work is the people that it allows me to connect with, and the insight I get into their lives, work and dreams. With a camera in my hand, and the understanding between us that they are there to let me in means I am able to bypass the small talk and get right to having meaningful conversations. For a brief time, we are a part of each others lives and I always try to make it an experience that stays with them as well as with me. So many of my clients become my friends, we hang out together, work together, collaborate on projects and cheer each other on. It's an honour and a privilege and something I don't ever take lightly.
My vision for the immediate future is to take a few months off of client work over the summer and spend some time creating just for myself. I plan to set up a studio in my house, somewhere I can shoot natural light portraits and work on some other projects that inspire me. Make things with my hands, read, write and be calm. I also plan to make an effort to connect with other creative women in the new town I've just moved to, and build a support network. Being a freelance parent can sometimes be quite a lonely thing, so it's important to reach out to others in a similar situation. I'll come back refreshed in September, with some childcare in place, ready to have a fruitful Autumn/Winter season.
WHO (HUMAN, PLANT, ANIMAL ETC.) INSPIRES YOU?
It's always going to be my daughter, Rory. She is unashamedly herself. So free, but so connected to her body and to what's going on around her. She's sweet and funny and kind, and shows more empathy for other humans and animals than most grown ups I know. I don't think anyone or anything will ever inspire me as much as she does. She's magic.
IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE – RECIPE, RITUAL, MEDITATION, SPELL, PRAYER, POEM....... ?
My dear, find what you love and let it kill you. Let it drain you of your all. Let it cling onto your back and weigh you down into eventual nothingness.
Let it kill you and let it devour your remains. For all things will kill you, both slowly and fastly, but it’s much better to be killed by a lover.
Falsely Yours, by Charles Bukowski