Life on Hold

Two weeks ago I drafted a blog post about how my new life was shaping up. I had just started another freelance role with a small newspaper and alongside my part-time charity role I was starting to think that this might be the portfolio career I had been looking for. Although the newspaper role was as Editor’s Assistant, it would also give me a chance to do some features writing and get published — something that I had increasingly been drawn towards during the time I have been getting to know myself again.

On the 7th July I went to my first press conference, wrote about it and managed to get my article published. I was feeling very excited about what was to come and had started my packing list for the big family adventure to Borneo. I was so busy that I didn’t get around to finishing the blog post.

On the 9th July I was told I have breast cancer.

In the space of a few seconds everything fell apart. A month ago a mammogram had been clear and a biopsy carried out ‘just to be sure’, but here was the doctor mouthing words that made no sense….’there is a tumour….I’m so sorry….it is in your lymph nodes too…surgery….ER+…HER negative…24th July…you need to cancel your holiday’.

By the time I left the hospital 30 minutes later I had joined a new club, been given the membership pack and had a head buzzing with questions. How do I tell people? What will it sound like when I say it out loud? My kids….what do I tell my kids? Continue Reading →

Happy ‘Leave Work’ Anniversary to Me

Happy Leave Work Anniversary

Every day I receive updates from LinkedIn – often they invite me to congratulate friends and colleagues on their Work Anniversary. I find it a strange concept as I don’t know anyone who actually celebrates their own Work Anniversary. I can’t remember balloons and flowers appearing in the office to mark another year’s service for anyone, but judging by the ‘Congrats’ messages that now appear on LinkedIn this has become an acceptable date to have in your calendar. LinkedIn also seems to have created a new word as the majority of LinkedIn users seem happy to click the ‘Congrats’ button — the word irks me, ‘Congratulations’ sounds more fitting, more celebratory.

One year ago today, after months of feeling miserable, I woke up feeling brave enough to ask to leave my job. Of course if you have read my previous blog posts you will know that I didn’t actually escape in June, but nonetheless I started the process. Even saying it out loud was enough to make me feel a fire inside that had been missing for so long.

So, Happy ‘Leave Work’ Anniversary to me, and say Congratulations to me for stepping off the wheel and to trying to make it on my own.

The biggest impact of this change has been on all the relationships in my life… Continue Reading →

Adventures of a Career Changer – The World of Film Location Work

Dear Blogosphere…it has been 20 days since my last confession err post. I hope someone missed me! Truth be told, I have written and scrapped a few posts, so if you haven’t missed me then please be grateful for that.

Happy to say that my silence has been for positive reasons as I have been meeting new people and trying more new things. Most of these didn’t entail making any money, and more often than not they involve spending it.
When you leave your job like I did, you start to try and think of ways to pay the bills, if only so you can sleep at night. During my usual trawl of the internet looking for ideas I hit upon renting my house out for film location work. Last week I had my first booking.

black and white clapboard

The internet version of things makes it sound very easy — like free money if you will. The reality is slightly more painful, but still not a bad few days income.

When the agency first approach you the spec is for ‘one bedroom and bathroom’ — perfect, not too much disruption. Two ‘recces’ later and we have established that the crew will also film two tiny little scenes in the kitchen and lounge. Still no biggie. Oh and can they leave equipment overnight? Oh and can they bring a dog? The cats ears twitched, but I said yes. Continue Reading →

Look Up, Look Back, Look Inside, Look Around

My name is Clara Lawrence and I am a Career Changer…

Is there a support group for Career Changers? Should I start one?
My head is so busy that it feels like a tumble dryer stuck on a never-ending cycle, churning ideas, fears and desires. I seem unable to open the door and take one single item out, every time I open the door, just the tiniest bit, everything comes crashing out and I have to forcibly tuck it away again. It’s been a week of turmoil, but I have worked a few things out… Continue Reading →

Motivation for Monday – Pineapples and Fear

This week, the kids finally went back to school. I had a few days respite from roasting chickens to sustain Son 1 and Son 2 and I had the house to myself for a few days, but motivation has been lacking and it has been a tough time for this Career Changer.
Reader, I had a birthday….

It came hurtling by last weekend when I wasn’t looking, knocked me off my feet and left me feeling very wobbly indeed. I was clearly unprepared for this particular birthday and have been left with an uneasy feeling that time is running out.  I am shocked by the realisation that it is now a year since I returned from a fantastic trip to Costa Rica – significant because it was this trip that was partly to blame for my reevaluation of my life. Costa Rica is the happiest nation on the planet and visiting this Garden of Eden when your own life is a misery obviously has life-changing implications….

Motivation - Pineapples

In an effort to keep the focus, here are the good bits.

In the last two weeks I have… Continue Reading →

Another Bad Good Friday!

‘Have you got everything? Revision? iPod? Swimming Trunks?’

‘Have you packed your chargers? Tennis racquets?’

As usual on the day we go away I am standing in the hall shouting at everyone to make sure that they don’t forget the one essential item that they cannot live without for a few days.

I have been mentally running through lists for three days, checked in to Ocado three times to make sure our food delivery includes Easter Eggs and a ton of carbohydrates for Son 1 and Son 2. A short Easter break, but I might as well be planning a trip to Madagascar. It will be my birthday while we are away and I have added a few little luxuries to my own bag – a nice bubble bath, a new top to wear on my birthday and a trashy magazine.

Last Easter, my Good Friday was spent running around Heathrow trying to get on a flight to Costa Rica as I had rendered myself unable to board the plane with the rest of my family. This Easter would be different. Continue Reading →

Motivation for Monday – 14th April

Nothing like a school holiday to slow down a Career Changer. The last week has been a bit of a struggle and at times I have questioned my decision to give up my old life and start again. Time for a bit of Monday Motivation to help remember why I am doing this!

So, the kids have two weeks off.  My older kids are fettered to their desks supposedly doing revision, but frankly how would I know if they are? A teenager’s bedroom has so many electronic gadgets and communication tools that it is perfectly feasible that they are spending 8 hours a day Snapchatting their mates or watching pointless You Tube videos. I have been de-friended from their Facebook profiles (nothing personal they tell me, just that now I won’t be able to see when they are online…oh that’s OK then). Son 3 is the opposite, needing constant entertainment and interaction with other kids. Any gaps in this entertainment-fest result in him repeatedly wailing ‘Who is going to plaaay with meeeee?!’

For a freelancer this is bad news all round. I managed a few blocks of time last week to do some work – Son 3 at a play date, cup of coffee on my desk, switch on my laptop only to have Son 1 appear for one of his meals or snacks (when he is not Snapchatting he is eating). Slamming around in my office (err kitchen) and trying to squeeze a whole roast chicken between two slices of bread.

BUT, the sun is shining, I still don’t use an alarm clock and here is my wrap up of all the good things that have been going on. Continue Reading →

Being Five Years Old – Easter

picture of colourful easter eggsBeing five years old my son has his own take on significant events in the calendar.  He came home from school on Friday with this little gem about Easter.

Me:    ‘How was your day darling?’
Son 3:    ‘Good…..but I’ve got some bad news for you’
Me:    ‘Oh dear, what happened?’
Son 3:    ‘Well you know Jesus?  He is going to die at Easter, then a few days later he is going to come back to life..’
Me:    ‘Well I guess its good that he will come back to life’
Son 3:    ‘Yes, but it’s not good…he is going to miss all the fun, all the Easter eggs and the Easter Bunny!!’

That is all…

Motivation For Monday – 31st March 14

During this career change project of mine, I sometimes find Mondays a little strange.  In my previous life in the Corporate world, I suffered badly from The Sunday Night Blues – which often started as early as breakfast on a Sunday,  I rarely managed to get to sleep on a Sunday night and when I did finally drift off it was a restless series of duvet-thrashing naps.  Lists running through my head of all the things I hadn’t managed to get done over the weekend, and the overwhelming feeling that yet another long, miserable week was just beginning.

In my new life, the impending arrival of Monday is less traumatic, but also less significant.   I have chosen Monday to be one of my freelance work days, but I want to avoid Monday becoming just another work day.  I have found some great blogs recently and have been inspired by Workerbeefree’s inspiring Friday Fess-up reflecting on her week as a Career Pioneer, and also by the lovely 3childrenandit’s Friday Favourites,  so I am choosing Monday to be my Motivation Day – the day that I reflect on the highlights of the previous week, to spur me on to keep trying new things and meeting new people.

Continue Reading →

Working from Home – The First Month

I have now been self-employed and working from home for almost one month.  Prior to this I spent the last 25 years working in huge, open-plan Trading floors of Banks and Broking companies surrounded by 100-400 ‘close colleagues’.  To all intents and purposes a battery hen leashed to the desk by a length of telephone cable.

Now, my home is my office.

So how does working from home feel?  What are the differences, good and bad?

Clearly I no longer commute (this is good).
I don’t object to using public transport, I just don’t like using it at the same time as the rest of the population of London.  Continue Reading →