By Marie Smith
2018. The year my working world changed.
As I entered this year I already knew I was at a career crossroads. My event styling business of almost 13 years was about to be retired. For good. No going back - the stock was almost sold. The final pieces would come out of the very last venue and literally be handed over to another company to continue in a new life. Job done.
I also entered 2018 as a Moray Business Women committee member. President in 2017, committee member two years prior to that. I was tired and felt the need to take myself away from all the pressures for a while. So I resigned from there too and set aside four months to be me. To do things for myself. We had a flying visit to South Africa to celebrate a friend's birthday among the lions and the elephants. Literally. Nine days later I was back there again, 40km away, volunteering with young children while mucking out Dassies and Meerkats and feeding a bush pig and a wild dog. It all felt a bit crazy. Yet liberating.
Two months later I rounded it all off with a bit of a trek along the Portuguese coast. The plan had been to complete around 100-110km of the Rota Vicentina. I managed around 60km, I think. To be fair I stopped counting when my toe nails fell off and I had to resort to walking in someone's sandals. I had vowed 2018 was the year I would stop beating myself up for putting my health and mental welfare first. So, I stopped "trekking". Instead I took my camera, hobbled the streets of a Portuguese town, chatted with shopkeepers and ate the most amazing prawns overlooking the sea at lunchtime. Because I could.
But then it was time to come home and make some decisions. I am not ready to retire. I am just 53 years old and still have lots of creativity inside me yet. I already knew I wanted to write more. So that bit was easy. "She Wordsmiths" was born and I had my first writing commission within 24 hours. Still sticking to my plan not to make this a pressure to hard sell. I like to write when it feels right. Then the words just flow. Like today.
I also took up an invitation to join the Association of Scottish Business Women's Committee. I had had three years of being an active part of local Moray business group and learned so much about the benefits of a supportive networking environment. I was flattered to be asked, and it seemed a shame to not continue to use those skills. Saying yes was a no brainer, as they say.
So, I now had a part time business and a volunteering role. You would think that would be enough? Me too. But then a rather strange thing happened. I picked up a pot of paint. Not just any old paint. A "no nasties" mineral chalk paint which claimed Titanium like properties. I took it outside and I painted a crusty old set of garden chairs. Relax, I de-crusted them first - it's not that clever. And then I began to wander around the house, brush in hand, painting some more. And suddenly there was a new me emerging. One who would happily spend 10 hours shut in her "she shed", radio on, painting. I would dance, sing, and "come home" a happier me. Eager to get back into the shed the next day, I slept better. Except when I woke with an idea for a new colour combination. My husband even donated a cupboard out of his shed for me to upcycle.
When I wasn't painting, I was writing about it. My furniture even began to take on their own characters. And these pieces of furniture were telling me something. I had two pieces ready but with nowhere in my home to use them. There was only one solution - sell them. I drove home from an ASB committee meeting on the Saturday. It took me three hours and by the time I was in my front door, I knew what I wanted to do. What I had to do. 24 hours later "The Artisan Bothy" was born. I sold my first two pieces within the week and my studio is now full. Commissions are rolling in, while speculative pieces are patiently waiting their turn.
Don't worry, I am still writing, as you can see. In fact, She Wordsmiths and The Artisan Bothy have become good buddies. I mean writing about upcycling - it has to be a win:win surely?
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