I talked briefly about the concept of a 'now page' back in January. Here's what I've been thinking about since then.
It's been a month or so since I last posted and I've realised that I don't trust time. I can't understand how it can be March already and yet the past two months of lockdown feel like they've lasted about a century. I'm suddenly really busy - in the world of self employment this is a good thing, and I'm enjoying getting to know new clients and starting on fresh projects helping museums to re-think what they do in what we all hope will be the aftermath of Covid-19. So notwithstanding my pride in my daughter's Bronze Age 'museum' (pictured at the top of this post), I'm very relieved that English schools are finally back, though the irony of this coinciding with International Women's Day when there is ample evidence to demonstrate the disporportionate impact of the pandemic on working mothers is not lost on me. I enjoyed Sarah Shaw's recent blog for Museum Freelance about balancing freelance work with caring responsibilities which has given me lots to think about in terms of how I structure my business in future. I'm also pleased to hear that the Museum Space Invaders network of feminists in museums are planning a new series of podcasts. I've been walking a lot during lockdown and podcasts have been my big discovery (I know, I'm not exactly an early adopter). They haven't done many, but they're worth a listen.
I've been thinking about goals lately - not the footballing kind, I couldn't care less, but the concept of goal setting in business and professional development. I've always struggled with the traditional advice given to small businesses about goals, which is usually based on financial measures like increased turnover or efficiency savings. They don't reflect my motivation for being self employed or the kind of work I do. So I've really enjoyed talking to my friend, textile artist and creative coach Ruth Singer, about her gentle approach to goal setting and business development that reflects a more holistic, values-led way of thinking. I have only recently moved back to self employment and there are a lot of things I want to do differently this time. Ruth's approach has given me a more centred approach to thinking about life and work that I'd recommend to other self-employed creatives trying to find their path.
It's felt quite retrospective, as I'm getting back into freelance work, to write a piece for Museum Freelance about how I moved from long-term self employment into a full-time job with the HSFA back in 2017, but I enjoyed reflecting on that experience and what it taught me. I've found it a whole lot easier moving back the other way - probably because I've done it before so I don't have that fear of the unknown - but freelance life feels very different this time around, not least because the political atmosphere is very different now. More on that in a future post.
I'm still thinking about participation, and a recently launched project from Leeds University's Centre for Cultural Value has given me a different perspective on that. The Failspace Project explores how the cultural sector can better recognise, acknowledge and learn from failure, and seeks to detoxify the word and to move us away from a binary conversation about 'success' and 'failure' to recognise the many grey areas in between. I'm finding the 'wheel of failure' an interesting way of thinking about project planning and evaluation and plan to draw on this in my work. I'll report back.
To end on a high: I've managed to book a post-lockdown haircut. Happy days!