Blog Challenge: Celebrating Freedom!

Day 10, last day! Can’t quite believe I stuck at it, but rather pleased I did. The last day’s challenge is quite simple, to read through your posts from the challenge and choose your favourite. After thinking it over for all of 30 seconds, it wasn’t hard to realise that day 8 was my favourite – taking time out to enjoy myself but reconnecting with creativity at the same time reminded me how valuable non-work actions can be for your work. I realised when writing yesterday’s post what the big take home message was for me – to plan realistically what I want to achieve with each day. As I work full time on my day job, finding time and energy to do my ‘spare time’ job on evenings and weekends when all I want to do is flop or have housework and other life stuff to do can make it difficult and overwhelming. Except with a little planning, and adjustment to my day I’ve found after only 10 days that I’m being more productive in the areas I want to be. Long may it continue.

This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 10


Blog Challenge: Location Independence

Day 9 of the 10 day challenge, it’s nearly over and this challenge is possibly tortuous. Imagine you’re on a long holiday in your dream destination and describe how you’d get your work done. First of all, making me day dream of somewhere fantastic by the sea that’s warm, but not too hot, quiet, and surrounded by compelling scenery is quite possibly one of the meanest things you could do on what must be the wettest day here in Oxford for over 2 months. A lovely, wet, soggy reminder that Autumn is well on the way (a total contrast to the scorchio end of last week where it still felt like mid-August!).


I’m going to transport myself back to the picturesque town of Cavtat in Croatia where I spent two glorious weeks this summer. However for my dream blog post I’ll do things a little different. If I was here to work as well as play, I’d wake early and head out to capture some landscape shots during golden hour, and some town shots whilst the streets are mostly empty. Then I’d have breakfast on our apartment balcony whilst catching up with the news. After breakfast I’d plan some easy going trips as you don’t want to be too much in the midday sun – air conditioned art galleries can be the perfect place to visit when it’s hot outside. Late afternoon I’d likely chill out by the pool catching up on some reading. After dinner there’d be more photo opportunities as the sun sets then evening is when I’d start working on some images on the computer.

I suppose the point this post has hammered home, is the need to plan your day effectively to maximise what you want to get out of it, which I have been doing since starting this challenge. And by keeping my MIA’s to 3 (most important actions) tops, I’ve found that I actually achieve my goals for the day, rather than going to bed stressed because I’ve only done 4 things out of 10 for example (because I’ve chosen unrealistically).

This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 9

Blog Challenge: Choosing Your Adventure

Day 8, should have been Saturday, but I was feeling rather under the weather and didn’t go out. So Sunday was my day for fun, I started out after brunch and went into Oxford to do a bit of gallery hopping and maybe some shopping. When I got into Oxford it turns out there was an arts and craft market on Broad Street. This turned out to a great opportunity to see what sort of price points others were using and whether I was way off bat with my calculations for a Christmas arts & crafts fair I’m doing in about 2 months time. Good news, similar products were on sale/selling at approximate prices to what I’d intended, also I noticed that the frames I’d picked up from a well known design store to trial some prints in, were also widely in use, so I’m in good company.

After I’d perused and picked up many a business card (I like to have a nosy at people’s websites as well), I headed to Modern Art Oxford to check out some more art. For the whole of 2016 to celebrate the gallery’s 50 year anniversary they are running continuous exhibitions, which means the galleries don’t shut down during change over like they normally would, it also at least feels like there’s more exhibitions on than there would be in a normal year.

Exhibits from Gothic and MAO

The main space upstairs was dominated by a Richard Long piece on the floor resembling a maze, the gallery was flooded with light and there were some kids making up games walking over the/through the maze, which was pretty cool. Also in this room there was a sound installation of an orchestra replicating a thunder clap, I liked this too although i’m struggling to put into words why, maybe because galleries can often be too quiet so a bit of noise is good.

After looking at the rest of the exhibition including some instructions to ‘Imagine the clouds dripping. Dig a hole in your garden to put them in.’ from Yoko Ono (you were allowed to remove the instructions to take away, but I didn’t), I headed downstairs to the cafe which has temporarily moved into the outside foyer. Here I had the best cookie, salted caramel and tahini. It was amazing.

Latte and world’s best cookie, courtesy of the Missing Bean at MAO

Then I went for a walk, taking some photos (with my film camera, so not ready yet) and then up to St John’s college, as I’d spotted a sign saying ‘Gothic’ outside when I went past on the bus. It turns out that Gothic is the name of the exhibition of architectural objects, photographs and films by the MA Architecture students from Oxford Brookes. It was a great exhibition, the lighting of the textures in the photographs and the objects themselves in the exhibition were really interesting and not at all what I would expect from an architecture exhibit.

Today reminded me that it’s good to get out there and see what other creatives are up to, refresh your mind, feel inspired and just take things easy. I’m looking forward to the week ahead for once, rather than having that Sunday night blues.

This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 8

Blog Challenge: Beating Procrastination And Overwhelm

Day 7, and I’m already feeling the pressure of remembering to post. Today’s challenge is to think of an imperfect action you could do everyday and how it would feel to do it everyday for 30 days. The very obvious option would be to blog everyday, there was a time in my life a few years ago, where I would get up early and write something on my blog every morning before work – whether I hit publish or not. It was a good habit to have because I started the day thinking about my creative side, it’s something I could definitely do again, so that would be a good personal challenge – because I know I have been very guilty of the charges of not posting something because it wasn’t ‘perfect’.


The only problem with that, was that I would procrastinate so long, the moment would pass – blogging about an exhibition for example that I would be so excited about, I wanted to tell other people to go visit, except it would be over before I’d posted the final draft. I could also think of several other things though, such as photo-editing or working on my website. So I think I’ve decided that my personal challenge I’m going to take away from this exercise is to do 1 creative thing everyday, no matter how small. So if I only have 10  minutes to spare, that’s enough time to whip up a quick blog post, or process a photo or two in Lightroom.

This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 7

Blog Challenge: Finding Your Tribe

Day 6, and the challenges are getting more challenging. This time we’re supposed to think of 1-2 people we would like as mentors, and the 1-2 questions you would ask if you ever got to meet these people in person.


Well a couple of people sprang to mind immediately, you may remember a post I wrote a while back about some amazing people I met on the Oxford Instameet, real inspiring genuine people with a love for what they do, whether they do it as a proper day job or not. I came away from that feeling fit to burst with ideas. What I hadn’t mentioned was that a few weeks later, i went to one of the networking events that Indie Oxford organises that had some of the same people and some new faces, again a really positive and inspiring experience where I got the opportunity to ask questions and advice from people who’ve been realising their dream for a while now. So I think if I had to choose, it would be Rosie who is not only one half of Indie Oxford but also runs Kinship of Oxford and A Rosie Life pop up store, the second person (it was honestly so hard to choose) would probably be Sarah Wiseman who runs the gallery of the same name in Summertown and who gave me some good advice at the aforementioned networking event. As for the questions, I’m really stuck? I’d love to know when they each felt they’d become successful, and how they would handle  disappointments?

This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 6

Blog Challenge: Setting Yourself Up For Success

Day 5 of the challenge looks something like this: Create a daily success plan for yourself that takes only 15-20 minutes and schedule a time in the day where you can squeeze it in. Write a blog post about what you will do, when you will do it, and how it will get you closer to your dreams.

However upon reading several other entries it seems that we are supposed to deploy the pomodoro technique which I am familiar with, and involves working in 25 minute spurts,but this snippet of information passed over my head. So I’m going to try and plan Saturday to be productive – with 3 most important actions which are:

  1. Work on my website (get the pages added, and some content)
  2. Cut out the final layer stencil for my screen print
  3. Get some reading done (2-3 chapters)

I have existing appointments Saturday morning, so I usually get home around 11:15am, where I will crack on with making some brunch and my favourite coffee.

Mondrian Cake, San Francisco MOMA

12pm work on my website – based on previous experience, I’m going to allocate 3 hours to this activity, so that’s 6 pomodoros (counting the 5 minute breaks inbetween)

3pm go for a walk/run provided its not raining

4:30pm stencil cutting – fun job but one I’ve been postponing for a few weeks

5pm make dinner

7pm reading 2-3 chapters, this one may not seem important to most, but I feel I’ve let my reading slip a lot over the last 6 weeks. Including books that are important to/inform/influence my artistic practice

I guess I’ll add a mini update Saturday night on whether this worked for me or not

This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 5


Blog Challenge: Unlocking Your Superpowers

Day 4 (although I think I’m technically a day behind on this, the challenge is to post what your super powers are and why you think that. There was also a suggestion of straw polling friends and family to see what they thought. There were some variations, such as being highly organised and capable, technically proficient… to my husband’s response of ‘photography, crochet, blogging, all the stuff you do’ nice that he has so much faith in me, even when I don’t!

In fact I’d previously mentioned in an earlier response to this challenge, that if I could only apply the same level of organisation to my outside work activities as I do in my day job, I’d probably get a lot more done.

Karlstejn Castle

So I’d list my superpowers as: Photography, when I put my mind as well as my soul into it, creativity, a good eye, and passion will take you far, but knowing your equipment, location, light etc and planning for the unexpected will take you so much further. Some of my favourite and most (critically) successful photos have been where I’ve scouted locations in advance, and had a good idea in my minds eye of what I want to end up with. This superpower of course goes hand in hand with my organisational skills – I am the travel planner in our house, I research everything, sometimes probably to the point of obsession. My day job involves coordinating the diaries of multiple very busy people (no mean feat), I just need the nous to apply it in all areas of my life. Also when I want to learn something technical, because it benefits me, I can handle it, sometimes I can even teach it to others!

So that was my super powers.

This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 4

Blog Challenge: Creating a vision for the future

Today is more difficult, I’m supposed to write my perfect day from waking up to going to sleep. Thing is, I don’t really know what makes a perfect day, I know what makes a good day, so after reading through some other people’s responses, I think I’ll attempt something maybe not perfect but as close to as I can manage.

The perfect viewing spot, Cafe des Nattes, Tunisia

So I awake early, like 6am – and I don’t feel like turning the alarm on snooze, I spring out of bed, get dressed and go for a run. It’s sunny, but fresh and there’s an amazing sunrise on the horizon. I make it home in time to get showered and changed and head back out with my camera to photograph things in the sun’s rays. I make it home for brunch and do some writing and spend the afternoon processing the photos I’ve taken (in my perfect life, I never had a massive back log).

I have dinner with my husband and then we either chill out with a good book, or go to see a band perform before heading to bed.

Seems like I only want a few simple things from life after all.

This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 3

Blog Challenge: Discovering your WHY

Day 2 of this blog challenge was a bit more difficult to respond to, as the question is why you want to live the freedom lifestyle, ie the lifestyle mentioned in yesterday’s post. I always stumble when asked why I take photographs, partly because I’ve had people ask me incredulously  (and sometimes aggressively) ‘what are you photographing that for?’ because they don’t see the beauty or interesting nuances of what you’re photographing the thing you are (mind you, the situation that springs to mind most of all was way before facebook and selfies and instagram took off). Or the other situation is that it can feel incredibly clichéd to say, that I find certain things beautiful and want to share them with other people, or evoke a certain feeling in people when they look at your art. But it’s true, much I guess the same reasons that people feel the need to write stories, or even blog posts, because they want to share something and hope that other people have a response.

Hall of Taste at the House of Bols, Amsterdam.

I’ll leave you with one of my favourite photos I’ve taken in recent years, in the Bols Museum. Seeing the inside of this museum on the internet was one of the reasons that Amsterdam moved up my travel list, and I was not left disappointed.

This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 2

Blog Challenge: Finding Your Focus

It’s been a while since I partook in a daily blogging challenge, but as we head into Autumn, full of rainy days where sitting in front of the computer doesn’t feel like you’re wasting time it felt like a good a time as any.

This challenge is not just about getting you writing/blogging regularly though, it’s about working towards and overcoming the challenges to leading the lifestyle you want. So for me, that is working towards making a successful business out of my art and photography.

Autumn in the Czech Republic

My 3 challenges I face are all interlinked, basically I worry about not having enough time to do anything (Natalie mentions in her post about that foible), but then waste time by worrying about it. I also am a superb procrastinator and get easily distracted: technically I have around 4 hours every evening to get my stuff done (that’s based on having dinner and being washed up by 6pm, and a conservative bedtime of 10pm) and yet still I have a to do list as long as my arm! I can nip on social media to check something and lose hours following links to articles that really in the grand scheme of things, are not important and don’t help me progress. I could also throw in that I have too many activities/hobbies, but I feel like curbing my creative endeavours to save a few hours a week would actually be detrimental.

The most ridiculous thing is that I know I should prioritise my evenings as well as I do in my day job, but it never quite works out like that… or maybe that’s about to change.

This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 1