Getting one’s arse in gear – a tale of networking and getting on with it!

Pro-Cras-Tin-A-Tion…. (proh-kras-tuh-ney-shuhn)

“the act or habit of putting off or delaying, especially something requiring immediate attention”

I feel like ‘procrastination’ should henceforth be spelled as above, since it’s all about putting things off – seems somehow fitting to introduce a few dashes, capital letters and some dots….

Now this has always been one of my best skills – putting things off – I’ve been a master putter-offer for some time. In all areas of my life, and since I can remember, why would I do something now when I could do it later? This resulted in me keeping hold of a few boyfriends far longer than was necessary in the 80’s and seems to have developed into a bad habit now I’ve turned 50! If I’m not rushing out the door at the last minute to get somewhere by the skin of my teeth, frantically clearing up and hoovering the house 5 minutes before guests arrive, or ironing school uniform every morning just because 5 shirts seemed like a chore on Sunday night, then I’m having great business ideas and putting them on a shelf in my head marked ‘pending’.

My very tolerant friends and family have got used to me being ever so slightly late all the time, but it’s a bit rude really isn’t it? I’ve been trying to work out what makes me rebel against being organised and pro-active. I wouldn’t say I’m lazy – I am always busy with something, but maybe not always the right things!

How do we break this habit then? Well, I’m not sure about the school uniform or the housework thing, but certainly with regard to the business thing, I think I’ve finally understood how I can break this bad habit! It’s called accountability!

Since about February, I have been planning (and I use that word very loosely) how I’m going to take my glass business to another level and actually make some money – like real income type money, not hobby money – and I have slooooowly been acclimatising myself to the world of NETWORKING (deep breaths!) Yeah I know right? Scary!

Now I’m a fairly good talker, in fact it was once my paid job to stand up in front of lots of people and talk (I was a management development trainer) so the actual talking bit of networking isn’t the scary bit for me…. it’s the “am I a real business?” and “will anyone be interested in what I do?” and “what if they just stare at me blankly?” (Like at the hockey that time – you know the one, and if not, scroll back a couple of years…)

So, how do you turn these (frankly self-limiting) barriers around and make yourself confident to get on with it? Well, you have to realise that it’s all a mind set issue. Actually when you find your ideal network, (there may be some trial and error involved here – look at it as kissing a few frogs) you gain something very powerful – the support of other people who want to see you achieve stuff!! Add that to ‘saying it out loud‘, and you have accountability. I have personally found 3 great networks, which are all a bit different, but all have one thing in common – I feel confident and comfortable enough there to ‘say it out loud’. I say what I am aiming for, what I need and what I’m going to do to get myself there. Once I’ve voiced these things to my groups, I often find that someone else has a great idea to add to my plan, is willing to help me, or just that now I’ve put it out there, my mindset has changed from ‘pending’ to ‘action’, with a deadline of before the next meeting or sooner! No room for procrastination now, because there’s no way I want to stand up at my next meeting and say ‘oh yeah I didn’t actually get around to doing that!’ This is so important if you are, like me, a one-woman band, solo-preneur, micro-business of one, etc etc because you don’t have a team or a boss or shareholders to hold you accountable – nobody is going to sack you, smack your hand or give you a warning for being late or ineffectual – your business will just FAIL. YOU are your own boss, so YOU have to motivate yourself, but having networks where you can hold yourself accountable to others, is very powerful. Soon you realise that just as procrastination is a bad habit, networking is a good habit, and that actually you will be networking away wherever you are and with everyone you meet! So go on – look up your local networks – yes now! Off you go! In the words of Mr Nike, ‘Just DO It!’

Here are some I recommend from my own experience:

ABC Networkshttp://www.abcnetworks.co.uk – There are several fortnightly meetings held across Kent

Women in Businesshttp://www.wib.org.uk – Several across the SE – I attend the North Kent & Medway group

Sally Marshall’s Steer Your Business Academyhttp://www.steeryourbusiness.com – get in touch with Sally!

And for all your mindset reprogramming needs, you really need to meet Ash Lawrencehttp://www.ashlawrence.co.uk AKA the #flipfloppsycho

Go on, you know you want to!fullsizeoutput_1dc5

Here I am (far right) networking with some of my Women in Business group – look, we are all laughing! Nothing scary about this at all!!

Bev x

 

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School Holidays are the dementors of creativity!

I don’t know about you, but we are now on week 5 of the school summer holidays and I’ve had the creativity and enthusiasm for work literally sucked out of me in the manner of a dementor from Harry Potter!! Admittedly I’ve been away on a cruise and also on a trip to Scotland for a family wedding, but even so, in the remaining weeks, I’ve had no inspiration whatsoever! Is it just me? Or does anyone else vicariously feel the pain of teenage apathy?

Gone are the holi-days when a trip to the coast or the park was considered the best fun that could be had for the price of a picnic! What do you mean my teenage son, you just want to stay in your room and ‘hang out’ with your friends (virtually) on your Play Station?! A reluctant agreement to go to the cinema seems like progress but is short-lived. I try to persuade said teenager to actually invite real friends over to play in the actual world and not virtually, or for him to actually go outside and do an proper activity that uses more than just his thumb muscles, but nope! As if this isn’t frustrating enough, we discover 4 weeks in, that he has omitted to tell us about the English homework for the Summer Holidays, in which he has to read both The Lord of the Flies AND Macbeth, and answer about 8 questions per chapter. If the mind-numbing routine of trying to get him out of his bedroom wasn’t bad enough, the bribery, blackmail and threats involved in brokering a deal for GCSE reading, has definitely sucked out what scrap of enthusiasm for work and creativity I had left!

I hear you saying “leave him to it and go have fun in your studio!” And that would be a good plan and it’s very tempting, but then I would feel like the worst mother in the world for not trying to think up exciting and engaging, whilst possibly educational and hopefully mind-expanding things for a 14 year old boy child to do in his 8 (yes bloody 8) weeks off!! And there are only so many 12A films being shown at the Odeon!

Has anyone tried hypnotising a 14 year old teenage boy? Asking for a friend!

In the meantime, here are some nice pics from my holiday….

Well that went better than expected!

So, you may remember from last week that I was in what I like to call ‘a bit of a panic’. I mean, who actually likes tidying up stuff?! But with the help of my lovely sister-in-law Denise, I did actually get my studio all in order, work nicely hung and displayed and tea and cake set out for Open Studios, all by 10:58am on Friday!! I even managed to have a shower and wash my hair before the 11am opening! Phew!

As it turned out, it all went rather well; I had loads of lovely visitors, sold some glass, have lots of interest in both beginners glass fusing workshops and some bespoke, skill-specific days for some lovely novice glass fusers – so that went better than expected!! And as my studio looked so pretty with my work set out and hung up, I’ve decided to leave it where it is. One of my friends did point out that it will get dusty if I leave it out, but hey! who ever cared about a bit of dust? Not me! After all, I made it to be seen, not wrapped in bubble wrap and stuffed in a box in the garage! So until someone else wants it in their house, I may as well enjoy it myself. And anyway, I’ve already filled all the shelf space in the garage so it won’t fit ;0)

Here’s a little peek of some of it in my studio…..

Clearly the Fairy lights are an essential feature of any studio display!

It’s not too late to brighten up your summer wardrobe with some funky jewellery either! Look at all those yummy chunks of swirly glass – that was very popular! And yes, you spotted the Xmas display – to be honest I really never want to make another Xmas themed item again, so these were all in ‘bargain corner’ lol.

The other thing we did was some coaster or sun-catcher making – so much fun!

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I’m going to be doing some coaster and sun-catcher making sessions at my local Wisdom Hospice so Emma who is part of the team there, popped in with her lovely daughter to have a go and see what we would be doing. Great job girls!!

And finally, I received this lovely pic of Colin the Cockerel who flew off to a new home and is now sitting on the kitchen wall surveying the goings-on and looking very happy!

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All-in-all a fab weekend of chatting about glass, drinking tea and eating cake, and I still have a tidy studio! But more importantly, now it’s such a pleasant space, I have renewed motivation to get in there and get making stuff!! 50 jelly babies already in the kiln and 3 light sconces for a client in the planning stages – YAY!! The sunny weather helps and my view into the garden is a bonus, but I must admit, having a tidy, well ordered studio is the best motivation, so maybe if I just do the tidying up as I go from now on……..

Bev x

A strange thing happened at the hockey…….

In between making glass goodies for the forthcoming Medway Open Studios, this Sunday the whole family relocated to our son’s Hockey club for the juniors to have a practice session with the Men’s 1st 11 – who include the current GB Men’s captain Barry Middleton, and serveral other of the recent GB squad who came 4th in the recent world cup! What with that and the offer of a BBQ, we were all keen to go! Plus, the sun was shining and the club house bar was open – win-win!!

However…… shortly after arriving, I spotted one of the other mums, who I had not seen there before and realised that she and I were apprentice engineers together some 30 years ago! Not only that, but we had shared lifts to the training centre, I had sat with her for weeks in her knackered VW Beetle when she was learning to drive, and I had also worked in her parent’s pub when I turned 18 – As you can imagine, 30 years ago, we had shared a lot! I finally plucked up the courage to go over and say hello, thinking that she may not recognise me since I’m not really the tiny size 8 I was back then lol. I’m not sure what I was expecting really – it was a tad uncomfortable when for what seemed like hours, I was just waffling and not sure if she even knew who I was! I said ‘you haven’t changed a bit – I recognised you instantly!’ She said ‘I recognised your voice’. Hmmmmm – it went a bit down hill from there really!

She asked ‘What do you do?’ – I replied ‘I’m a glass artist! (smiling happily) – She just stared at me, looking like I had spoken Russian. Then she said ‘OH!’ followed by ‘What?!’ followed by ‘How come?’ – maybe I was speaking Russian?! It didn’t occur to me that my job would render her practically speechless! I endeavoured to explain a bit about what it meant to be a ‘Glass Artist’ – she continued to frown!

In the end I stopped talking and said ‘So what about you then?’  ‘Oh, I’m the Director of the British Chemical Engineering Contractors Association – I stayed in Engineering.’ Aaaaah! You know when you wished you had just carried on walking and gone straight to the bar?? Yes – that’s how I felt. Somehow I know this is not about her – she has done phenominally well – has an MBA, and a string of impressive jobs on her CV, whereas I am a Glass Artist and she has no idea what that is! Should I have felt insignificant? Should I have felt like a massive under-achiever? Should I now be hatching plans to avoid her at all future Hockey socials? NO I should not! So why did I?

Maybe it’s because being a ‘Glass Artist’ is a title I have bestowed upon myself – I have created the world in which I am my own boss and I make as much or as little as I wish. I make time in my week for the things that are important in my life, like my family and friends. I am involved in fundraising for my son’s school and I volunteer a day a week at Nucleus to keep the gallery running, which supports other local artists. Maybe I am not one of life’s high-flyers – although I used to be! Maybe I could have had a list of impressive letters after my name and an office in the city if I’d kept at it!? But maybe I am just as happy (albeit brassic lol) to be using my creativity and my engineering skills to make glass art that people who do know what that means, appreciate and buy, to make themselves happy too! Yes, I am very happy not to have the stress and politics of the old days in industry and I don’t even think about it until I meet someone from my past and feel like I have to justify it!

My immediate hope is that I get over this little episode of self-doubt before this coming Sunday, because I am attending my old school’s Centenary Afternoon Tea for ‘old girls’. I am bound to bump into many more high-achieving old friends and have to explain what it is that I ‘do’. Mind you, with the help of another ‘old girl’ who is a ceramicist, sculptor and rescuer of donkeys, I’m sure we will manage! If not, there are always the scones!

In the meantime, I will just go back to my workshop and make more suncatchers for Open Studios…… Or maybe I’ll have a cup of tea and a biscuit and do that later…… just because I can!

*skips over to the kettle with a little grin*

cuppa

x

 

Jewellery can be art!!

Some of you have been following the progress of the new glass jewellery on here or on my FB page so you will know how wet and messy I got in pursuit of a new style of glass jewellery! Thanks for the encouragement along the way – it was very helpful and I’m pleased to say it’s the start of something new and exciting! For me it’s where art and jewellery have come together – I’m so excited!

I delivered loads of new necklaces, earrings, rings, bangles, cufflinks and one little (well biggish) brooch to Nucleus last Friday for the Bling Bling exhibition. It looks great all displayed in the cabinets and has received some great feedback so far! When the exhibit finishes tomorrow I will be sending it out to the Nucleus shops in Rochester and Maidstone, and taking some proper pictures of it with the intention to get my Etsy shop back up and running so I can spread the love beyond Kent!

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Here are a couple of pics to whet your appetite – more colour combo’s will be made soon, so any requests or ideas for colours you wold like to see swished randomly together, please comment here or on my Facebook page! (www.facebok.com/adornjewelleryandglassart)

The bottom picture is the original slab that all but the blue jewellery was made from – as you can see, I got impatient and decided to make three colours in one slab. This turned out to be a genius idea (I know,I know!) as the points at which those stacks melted together, gave me the most interesting chunks of glass, which I wouldn’t have naturally put together. YAY! Hope you like them x

On a slightly different note, I have decided to do a weekly or fortnightly recommend of a ‘Classy’ independent tea or coffee shop in my local, so if you have any ideas for nice establishments to visit, please let me know and I’ll do my best to go and eat cake and drink coffee and tea there! It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it, if we want to support our lovely local independent businesses! 

Today I visited ‘Bruno’s French Bakes and Coffee’ which is at 12a High St Rochester, Kent – https://www.facebook.com/brunosfrenchbakes I have to say, the smell of fresh baking and coffee from the pavement outside was enough of an enticement to go in, but once there, the friendly staff and Bruno himself were the icing on the still-warm cinamon cake!! Bruno (who IS actually French) chatted away, happy to share his pastry recipe with a customer, and offered us tasters of the delicious rye bread, fresh from a little independent bakery in Maidstone, and delivered fresh every day – but you have to be quick as once it’s gone, that’s it till tomorrow! It’s a tiny shop, with an eclectic mix of seating and decor – local art on the wall and something being baked up throughout the day. It was a delight – especially as I bumped into a friend at the counter and then got to taste her salted caramel and chocolate tart too! Gosh, what a lucky girl I am! 

Do pop in there and let me know what you decided to have! I brought home a seeded sourdough loaf, which will go nicely with my tomato soup for lunch! Cheers!

Bev x

A Crying Shame

Now I’m not one to get all political and shout about injustice and the wrongs of the world, but this week I can honestly say I have been so sad and disappointed in my local council that I totally understood the phrase ‘a crying shame’.

As you probably know, I am a small independant glass artist, lucky enough to be associated with a local charity that supports local art and I have volunteered in one of their retail/gallery spaces once a week for over 5 years now – Nucleus Arts in Rochester (Kent). Unlike most High Streets, Rochester, as well as having one of the oldest Castles and Cathedrals in the country, has the quaintest, most unique and friendly gathering of small local businesses – shops, restaurants, cafes and pubs. You could say that, along with being famously ‘Dickensian’ with it’s festivals and landmarks associated with the great man, these independent businesses are what makes Rochester, Rochester!

So it was with horror, but a sense that it surely wouldn’t actually happen, that I recently signed an e-petition (along with nearly 1000 other locals) to plead with our local council NOT to allow the massive chain that is COSTA COFFEE, to take over one of the most desirable, beautiful and best positioned buildings in the High Street! We already have (off the top of my head…) 10 fantastic, individual and welcoming tea and coffee shops – there may be more that I’ve forgotten. They rub along nicely together and fit in with the unique nature of our beloved Rochester extremely well. They connect with the local community, some providing space for artistic endeavours, and they are all owned and staffed by local people, who know who you are when you go in, and treat you with a sense of familiarity that these huge conglomerates never do.

So, imagine my distress when I read on facebook on Friday that our council planners in their 11-4 majority wisdom, have deemed that COSTA pose no threat or detriment to the wellbeing and livelihood of the High Street and it’s independent businesses! WHAT???? Sorry, didn’t they read the e-petition, the hand-written petition, the nearly 200 letters in objection to this application? Apparently not – apparently they read the ONE letter in support and were clearly dazzled by the corporate spin (and dare I say it, money) of the COSTA PR machine, who, I might add have already got permission  to put another COSTA unit into the new Rochester Station that is being built over the road from the high st and probably 150M away from this delightful old building. Grrrrrrrrr!!!!

Sorry, but my rant is not over – I could cry at the sense of disappointment I felt when I realised that money speaks louder than the local residents who pay the wages of the local SERVANTS who represent their interests. I can draw no other conclusion…. call it cynical….. call it whinging….. I am so outraged I can feel myself thinking I should organise a march of protest!! And that’s really not me lol I have messaged @MarkReckless MP and asked him how this has happened – no reply and no comment on his FB page or twitter.

I guess that the conclusion I have therefore reached is that independent small businesses actually have nobody but themselves and each other to look out for them. Medway is fortunate that the arts scene is strong and lively and supportive and we will do our best to support our local cafes and tea shops and vote with our purses – we will NOT be visiting Costa Coffee – and as one of my friends said, maybe we will pick up their discarded take-away cups off our historic flagstone pavements and post them back to Costa through their antique letter box!

There you have it! When I have calmed down (maybe tomorrow) I will tell you all about Bling Bling and show you some lovely pictures of the new jewellery collection x

Wet & Wild

You know from my last post that cutting glass strips with the tile cutter turned out to be a bit messy, so today I decided I would do the next batch on the patio…… I’m thinking in hindsight that this may have made me a bit gung-ho with the use of the splash guard (or not!) – to say I got wet through is an understatement – *whispers* “even my knickers were soaked!” lol

me soaking wet

BUT – it was totally worth it – see the picture below of the blue strips I cut and you’ll have to agree – soggy under garments? Bring it on!

blue strips

I’ve since cut some of the strips into various sized squares and rectangles for cufflinks, pendants, rings and earrings. I’m still stunned at how much variation was found from cutting the strips from all sides (not something you would do if you wanted to make the repeating pattern for a dish like I did with the green – then you need to keep cutting from one side).

I’ve lots of ideas now for colour combinations and stack arrangements – this is feeding my inner geek/engineer as well as my creativity. It’s great to try new ideas, especially when it involves power tools! As my friend did say, when I got the diamond tile cutter for my birthday last year: “not the sort of diamonds I would have asked for, but whatever floats your boat!” And yes, it takes all sorts – I can’t resist tools and machinery. I’m now considering the possibility that a little pillar drill would be jolly handy to have in the workshop too!! I’ll add it to the list and keep saving my pennies ;0)

Have a fab weekend! Bev x