A complete career change - what a difference 5 years makes
This week it is the October half-term in the UK. I have been thinking recently just how different my life was this time five years ago.
On the Monday of the October half term 2015 I got up early and left my house in Shrewsbury and was on the M6 heading south by sunrise. I was heading to Surrey to spend the week with my sister and brother-in-law as they were expecting their first child in early November. My sister had just begun her maternity leave and I went to spend the week with her before their new arrival turned up.
The weekend before had been hectic - I had hosted a national Forest School Conference that had started on the Friday and finished on the Sunday, and it had come at the end of a busy first half of the Autumn term.
At that point I was still working for the council as a Forest School development officer for the county, delivering training, supporting Forest School Leaders and timetabling Forest School provision in a number of woodland sites. My role had just changed dramatically having gone from full time employment for many years previously, down to three days a week and term time only due to financial cuts.
The 'Alice Draws the Line' seed was planted but it was just waiting for better conditions in order for it to start to germinate - it was nearly time but there was one big hurdle remaining...
At that time I was also doing a Masters in Education. I had been working on this for almost two years in the background, doing it outside of my usual job but all about Forest School. My dissertation was due in a week later in very early November.
Sadly it meant that my week with my sister mainly involved me typing at her dining room table, while she rested up on the sofa and made a mobile to go above the cot. We did manage to venture out -we had a change of scene when we made a trip to the local library to print out pages and pages of words I'd written so that we could both proof read it (she is an author and editor which was very helpful!). Should you be interested, I was looking at the role that Forest School could play in equipping children with the ability to 'know what to do when they don't know what to do' - particularly as we don't know what careers might be on offer when they are older. Problem solving, growth mindset and grit all featured heavily and I'm surprised at how often those thoughts still appear in my world now.
Why am I writing this?
Because now, five years later my world looks very different, and I find that fact amazing, exciting and leads to the thought of what it might look like in another five years.
At the time of writing this, it is October 2020. This year has been a weird one for everybody and I for one certainly didn't ever think we would be in a global pandemic. That aside, five years on from my conference hosting, MA writing, Forest School-ing and I am now an artist.
An artist who, has exhibited her work locally, has developed a range of cards and products. Has her own website and Etsy shop to sell these creations to others. I have designed wedding stationery and bespoke correspondence sets. I have a studio- a space to create new things, to put things that inspire me up on the walls, store stock, to wrap orders, to sell items direct to those that visit and to hopefully host workshops from in the future. I'm not sure if I had ever dared to even hope that this might be a possibility back in those days. This isn't to gloat, but to stop, pause and reflect on just how different my world is now, and how glad I am to get to do what I do day to day. I loved my Forest School years, but as those of you that have followed me for a while will know, Art has always been a strong contender for my affections throughout - and now is it's time to take centre stage. I think it is too easy to get up in the plans for the next stage and phase and not to pause and take stock and so this is what I'm doing.
I'll write another blog post about the intervening years and a timeline of how things slowly evolved from doing one job full time to now doing this full time.
Me, at the studio, photograph taken by Andrea Gilpin Photography