I took voluntary redundancy at the end of April, and apart from a brief stint of working in June, I’ve not been doing paid work since and I intend to keep it that way for a few months more so I can properly chill out and lay the ground work for the foodie career I want to build. I’ve experienced highs and lows since April. I would say mainly highs, but I want to tell you about some of the stuff I’ve been doing, how I’ve spent my time, what’s gone well and what’s been shit!
Random stuff I’ve been up to
- I’ve kind of abandoned housework! You’d think with more time on my hands I might do more? But I’ve figured I just wanted to get out and about and meet people and get some momentum going. So housework has been an even lower priority than during my working life! I do look at our front garden which is knee-high in weeds a little regretfully but not enough to spur me into action.
- Insanity. One of my resolutions on leaving my job was that I’d like to try some new types of exercise. For the last ten years pretty much all I’ve done exercise-wise is run, walk and cycle. Which is fine. But I was bored of it. So in July I embarked on a sweaty form of hell called Insanity for a month. It’s a 40-60 minute high intensity work out (downloaded) that you do nearly every day. I’m proud that I stuck it out for a month, but when I realised that I was dreading the 5pm work out every day and I couldn’t actually see any difference in the shape of my body, I thought stuff this and packed it in. I find running boring but I never dread it! So I’m back to running for now – but I might give yoga a whirl! But that is the beauty of having some time out – the space to try new things and then discard them if they don’t work.
- Watching loads of documentaries on the refugee crisis. When I worked 9-5 I wanted to watch cheery things in my free time to rejuvenate myself from the toil of my job. But with time on my hands I’ve found myself curious and drawn to watch the many brilliant documentaries on iPlayer about the staggering number of people leaving their countries to flee wars and seek safety in Europe. I usually end up crying as I watch them, but apart from helping me understand what is happening, I’m absolutely inspired by the spirit and bravery of the refugees. Is it me or are Syrians a particularly lovely, kind and heroic nationality? Sorry Brits but I can’t imagine us being quite as resilient, smiley and noble in the face of civil war.
- I’ve gone very feminist in my reading and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the following:
- Letters to my Fanny – Cherry Healy
- What would Beyonce Do – Luisa Omelian
- Moranifesto – Caitlin Moran
5. Cooking! I’ve done a shedload of it and it’s been therapeutic and joyful and fun.
The bad stuff
- Taking on a job that was a long term contract that really wasn’t right for me and getting stressed. I now realise that I was probably a bit panicky having left the corporate world and the security and structure of a job seemed appealing. I didn’t really scope it out properly and leapt straight in. When my whole ‘thing’ about taking redundancy was that I wanted to feel out my new career path independently. Jumping straight into a full-time job was not the best way of letting the new ‘career me’ evolve. I stuck it out for a month, but I’m so relieved to have my freedom back.
- Britain voting to leave the EU freaked me out. Political instability and the prospect of a recession felt like a weird place to be when you are starting your brand new freelancing career. However the country doesn’t seemed to have imploded and things seem to be ploughing forward in a business as usual kind of way for now, so I’m being as confident and positive as I can be.
- Putting way too much pressure on myself generally to be ‘productive’. I’m a girl that likes to feel she’s ticked a few tangible things off her to do list at the end of the day. So I’d get up in the morning and write myself a list and try and tick things off. If I’m honest it was a bit joyless! I was getting increasingly wired and tired. Despite it appearing to be a luxury to not be at work I was weirdly more exhausted than when I had a 9-5 job. Yes stressed about exciting foodie projects but I literally wore myself out by being on my computer and phone 24/7. I have since had to give myself a talking to and I’m deliberately forcing myself to regularly chill out and not think about/do research for my career! It seems to be working.
The good stuff
- Eating out a lot. This counts as foodie research. It’s been a lot of fun testing out cafes, restaurants and supper clubs – I feel like I’ve got a really good feel of some of the best restaurants in the city and it’s given me a lot of creative inspiration. This could also explain why I lost NO weight doing Insanity.
- The best 40th birthday party ever. I don’t normally enjoy the limelight. But I wanted to go big for my 40th! I’m extremely happy with where my life is right now and I wanted to celebrate big style. I loved filling my house with friends new and old and putting on a big Spanish feast of food. It was a glorious way of celebrating my next decade and starting this new chapter of my life.
- Freelance friday. First of all I discovered Ziferblat. A magical and very chilled out freelancing space in the Northern Quarter where you pay 6p a minute to use the space (and eat their unlimited cake). Then I found out that freelancers sit together every friday afternoon and pretend to work on their laptops but in fact just chat. I can’t tell you what a delightful find this has been. I’ve met a group of like-minded, bright and inspiring freelancers who have given me advice and direction throughout my at times wobbly first few months of going it alone. Every friday I go home buzzing with ideas and excited to have got to know my new interesting friends better.
- I’ve booked a holiday to Goa. Jamie and I have been talking about this for months. And finally last week we committed to booking flights in November. It felt decadent, but it felt good. Jamie and I haven’t been on a big adventure together and it felt like something we’d really enjoy.
- I’ve signed up to a four day food writing course in France in December. Again this felt highly extravagant, especially in the same week as booking my holiday to Goa. I saw the course and it just felt like it had my name written on it! An immersive writing course run by two successful food writers and four days of stuffing my face with amazing french food, going to french markets and truffle hunting then figuring out how to write about it. Definitely ‘write’ up my street!
What now then? Well I’m about to go on holiday for two and a half weeks (Italy, Brecon Beacons and London). So during my holiday I’m officially going to give myself a break from career thoughts and just bloody chill out and enjoy myself. I’m hoping to return to Manchester in September with gusto. I’ve got some foodie projects bubbling away which I can pursue on my return when I refreshed and brimming with post holiday creativity. The past few months have been quite an adventure so I’m curious to see what other exciting things happen in my life in autumn!