Stables, public speaking, and flow

Really lovely couple of days back at the stables. And I’m feeling so good for it. It’s easy to forget how much you can miss the work, the company, the fresh air, and the beasties, when you’ve been away or busy for a while. 

One of my friends there has just bought her first pony! Well, horse. Am so pleased for her and cannot wait to meet him. The yard I volunteer at isn’t livery, but he’ll be staying just a few minutes away, which is exciting for her. And another has just gotten a horse on loan, also her first. It’s reminded me of how useful it must be to drive, ha. Well, this is the year to finally begin lessons I suppose, just need to carve out the time and enthusiasm for it. It would be a means to an end for me and you know what I’m like for generating enthusiasm for something that doesn’t intrinsically excite me… Bad. It’s why I excel in some things but feel like I don’t do well with “ordinary life stuff.” 

Anyway, think my stables days from next week onwards will be Wednesday and Thursday. Hope to pop down on the occasional Saturday or Friday too, if possible, to see more people. I’ve also got some displays to paint for them (on equine anatomy and such) which, with all the work, didn’t get started during autumn as I’d hoped. But then when I’m down there, there’s other work to do and no time for painting. So maybe I should bring the boards home and paint them here actually, might be easier. 

Think, therefore, that Tuesday will continue to be mine and Holly’s usual Sparklewren day on the boat. Am very happy to have a schedule in sight! Being a stroppy artist I don’t like to feel fixed. But hey ho, people are contradictory and so I do like to have a loose weekly routine to work around, despite that innate resistance to tight scheduling. But yes, though the hibernating pull of a cosy boat is super-strong, I do actually feel better and brighter whenever I have more time outdoors, whatever the weather. 

This week, however, we will be working on Friday. Am behind on messages and waiting on supplies, but will do my best. Only one day per week has been a stark reminder of how easily you can end up undercharging. I’m sure that will sound ridiculous to one or two readers, but when the days are spread out you’re more aware of how long everything seems to take. Because everything does take ages. I’ve streamlined much of our construction and these days I’m very quick at embellishing, but even so… When you add up the days (*even if* you just say two people at minimum wage with a small overhead) it stacks up very quickly. I must remember not to sell Holly and myself short this year. It would be easy enough to do. When you go back to part-time as a self-employed person, it would be easy to revert to old, damaging patterns of thinking, “well it’s a hobby really, not work, and I don’t need much…” 

Chill/study day tomorrow, wonder what I’ll do. Built some more shelves for the boat on Monday and there is still more DIY to do (want to do a unit for boots, shoes, and horsey stuff under one of the side hatches, for example), but I’ve no timber. So that will have to wait. Perhaps I’ll do some more equine studies. Got chatting with one of our volunteers today about why you want that inside hind to come under towards the centre of mass and it was like I always found with corsetry… teaching doesn’t come naturally and I always think I don’t enjoy it, but when I’m discussing something I’m interested in it’s actually a lot of fun. The biggest example that I’ve had of that sensation must have been talking about the Birds Wing at the Oxford Conference of Corsetry. Lord, I think that must have been about two and a half years ago? T’was a thrill. I’d managed to contain my fear of public-speaking (and of being the centre of attention, hate it, why do you think I make art? *That’s* where I like the attention to go…) so perhaps I didn’t seem terrified, who knows. But I was. And at first, the entire class was very silent, which was intimidating. But after I’d shared a pattern with each table (which, thankfully, I did quite quickly) it was totally fine. Great, in fact, as everyone seemed to get really excited by the topic! And, as I had to remind myself, there were a few people in the audience that I already considered friends, so that helped.

I can understand why performers like the nerves and the subsequent elation that performing brings though. The high was definitely nice and I feel like I’ve somewhat learned to cope with standing up and teaching as a result of that talk. Group stuff is daunting though. One-to-one, that’s very enjoyable. Less pressure, and you get drawn down unexpected and interesting routes by the student’s questions. Which reminds me, I think I have an email to reply to about teaching, eek. Am so behind, bad Hampshire. 

Was talking with a friend about “flow” the other day. Have I already mentioned this? We discussed how it’s kind of naughty to do work in a frenzy (and often at the last minute, as with uni dissertations and the like), but that it was hard not to since those are often the conditions under which you really feel it all flow and come through in an effortless way. And that feeling is so pleasing. And effortlessness produces good work. Like with November’s ridiculous workload. Another friend said, about November, “yeah, because you get into the work and don’t look after yourself, do you” and it wasn’t actually a question as she’s known me since we did fine art together at university. I know that I don’t want to create working conditions like that in the future, it’s too crippling to the body and I have a decent reason to want to be fitter and stronger now (ponies). But I also know that the sense of elation you experience from getting into a groove and feeling like you’re constantly discovering and making and achieving is thoroughly satisfying. Who can regret time spent in that feeling? Not I. But perhaps the trick is to create chances for that feeling with less pressure and intensity from external factors. After all, I don’t always need a deadline and huge project to experience flow, not at all. Small projects with no deadline can do it too. 

Right, off I go. TTFN. 

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