Yin and Yang: How do you balance work and family?
With difficulty! It’s always hard. To me the key is prioritising; it’s so easy to get sucked into being ‘busy’ but the critical tasks don’t get completed. Having a child made my free time extremely precious and I think it trained me to be a brilliant time manager – those skills have stood me in good stead keeping control of my work life, home life and other commitments.
I try and be very disciplined about work time. I shut the door; I ask people not to disturb me…. whatever it takes really to get the work done.
Then when it’s family time, I try to be fully present and really enjoy myself. Yes, there are things to worry about, but life can still be very beautiful. I am originally from the UK, so some of my family is 18,000 kms away; I am so grateful for Zoom and FaceTime and all those other ways to connect these days.
The drive: What challenges have you overcome?
Becoming a successful creative and publisher firstly meant overcoming a huge knowledge gap. Isn’t the internet wonderful for that? Although I was a youngish, inexperienced artist when I began this journey, I have learned so much along the way – most of it by making mistakes! It’s become my own story of transformation and that’s pretty exciting.
As a creative person, I think the most important thing is believing that your work has value and that making time for it is important. Don’t sideline the things that keep you sane and make you who you are; we all have to pull back when our kids are really young, but my advice would be not to wait too long to get back into it.
In life, some of the people you meet are brilliant and some of them are toxic. It’s good to have boundaries and to know that you can’t make every relationship work, and that it is ok to back away from people who don’t love you, don’t support you and don’t have your best interests at heart. Some things can’t be fixed, sometimes we can’t have the ending we deserve, but human beings are resilient creatures and tomorrow is always another opportunity to work things out.
For better or worse: What are the pros and cons of running your own business?
One of the main pros of being your own boss are that you get to set the agenda and the time table. Now my son is at school, I can fit my work life around my commitments as a parent, so I can be there for sports events and prize givings, stuff like that. I also can refocus ideas or priorities without renegotiating my contract or job description.
The cons are that there is more risk with no paid sick leave or holiday pay. It depends how comfortable you are with a bit of ‘feast or famine’ – self-employed income tends to go up and down. I also can’t say that I really love doing my own tax returns either!
Hopes and dreams: What next?
My latest book, Coastal (living the coastal life, cooking for the coastal table) was published earlier this year and despite, or maybe because, of COVID-19 is selling well.
I sell direct to some stores, sell online via my website and have a distributor for New Zealand book shops.
I was also thrilled to be selected in June 2020 for an art-mentoring programme called pARTner Up funded by Creative New Zealand through Creative Coromandel – He Mana Toi Moehau Trust. My mentor is the well-known sculptor, jeweller and carver, Chris Charteris. I am having so much fun and learning heaps. I hope it will lead to some more opportunities to exhibit my work and to spend more time on this aspect of what I do.
I am always looking to work with like-minded people – I love ideas I can collaborate on. I’m still recording my own projects and telling stories about my life and family on my blog and invite you to follow my continuing journey into uncharted territory: life as a fine artist, tiny lifestyle block owner and parent to a pre-teen… sounds exciting!