Thursday, April 29, 2021

Captain Tom 100 Challenge Accepted!

I don't know about you, but I was very moved by Captain Tom's story last year. Whilst in lockdown, news of his exploits and the money raised for NHS charities was a beacon of hope in dark times. And I was very sad when I heard he had died. But oh, what a life he lived!   

 In honour of him, ordinary people have been asked to do 100 of something to raise money for charity. My friend Deborah is doing 100 portraits this weekend. I am in awe of her ability and her commitment. And then I got to thinking what I could do. Since sewing is my thing, I'm going to make 100 things out of fabric over the next few days. 

Obviously, time is tight as these things need to be done over the next few days and sewing things takes longer than it looks, so these things are likely to be mostly small items, but I'm going to do my best to make a variety of things by hand and by machine using what materials and threads I have to hand and see what comes out of it. I imagine there will be a bit of embroidery, some eco makeup wipes, a few shopping bags and cushion covers - that kind of thing.

If you'd like to sponsor me, you can do that here. I'm raising money for MagicMe who do fantastic work connecting the young and the old through art in London's East End. I think it's a worthy cause and I hope you do too. If you sponsor me and would like one of the items I make, please message me so I can organise getting it to you. Otherwise, the 100 things I make (provided they're good enough to use or sell!) will be donated to a local charity shop.

Please do consider donating and thanks in advance!

I'll post some of my creations over the weekend on Twitter and Instagram so you can follow how I'm doing. And if you want to see what other people are up to, check out the campaign hashtag #CaptainTom100 

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

So much this

 Is this just a British thing? 


Via Facebook.

And so it begins.... again

Image shows fountains at La Fira Montjuic in Barcelona. The photo is taken the week of Mobile World Congress, the largest telecoms show in the world.
I'm getting deja vu. The big-name participants for this year's Mobile World Congress are beginning to pull out of the planned in-person event scheduled for the end of June. Just like they did last February. They were planning for 50,000 attendees and are putting in place stringent safety measures and testing to keep attendees healthy and avoid a 'super-spreader' event. 

Sony, Nokia and Ericsson are the first businesses to pull out of the in-person event, but it's only a matter of time before all the big companies pull out due to 'an abundance of caution'. I know the GSMA is already working on making the show a hybrid event, and the big players will likely participate, but I have a feeling the virtual element will have to be the priority. 

I just can't see a big in-person show going ahead at this point. The UK is ahead of the game with vaccinations, but even then, most of the age groups attending MWC will not have been fully vaccinated by the time of the show. And that means, with the exception of Israel, not enough potential attendees will have been vaccinated either. And even if you're vaccinated, it reduces the risk of severe disease, hospitalisation or death, but it's not a magic wand to stop it completely. Not only that, but there is growing evidence of a third wave on mainland Europe. There may be a small physical presence this year in Barcelona but it won't be the same thing at all - what with the tests and the temperature checks and the social distancing. That doesn't make for a good party. And let's face it, a lot of what makes MWC attractive is the social aspect of it.

Of course, this is a bitter blow to the show and the industry. And for me, it's yet another year when I can't hold a Swedish Beers party, or anything else in-person for that matter thereby inhibiting my earning potential significantly. 

A year ago, when the first wave was building up, I don't think anyone imagined it would really go on for this long or that our lives and freedoms would be changed as much as they have. I would love to visit MWC again, but I won't be visiting at the end of July. It's just too soon. And for those thinking that life will be back to more or less normal but with masks and washing of hands come July, I am not feeling quite so confident. I think we have more rollercoaster rides ahead of us and a third wave to deal with. Buckle up. It could be a bit of a bumpy ride still.



Friday, March 05, 2021

Lockdown

Things I like about lockdown*

Peace and quiet

Little to no FOMO (aka Fear Of Missing Out)

Reduced cost of living

My pal's weekly Zoom quiz. An absolute Godsend and something to look forward to every week.

No pressure to dress up

No pressure to go out

Feel ok about being alone - it's now completely normal to be on one's own.

Not having to see people you don't like any more

A more level playing field for disabled people who can't get out of the house regularly because of their disabilities.

Regular Government sanctioned walks in nature.

Less pollution. I can breathe easier. I have had no asthma symptoms and barely any allergies for a year now.

The simplicity of life. Being able to pay attention to the small things.

Zoom yoga and meditation classes

The 'we're all in this together' feeling (even though we aren't really - see image above)

WhatsApp groups

The internet

Social media


Things I don't like about lockdown

Having no place to go

Fear of other people infecting you

Having to keep your distance

The relentlessness of it all

Not knowing what's going on in the world as all the conversations are virtual. There's no bumping into someone at a networking event or conference.

The ableism of those who can and do take risks. So many people can't take those risks with their health and will be stuck inside when others are frolicking recklessly. That's hard to stomach.

Having no-one to hug or to touch

That flat feeling you get when a Zoom call finishes

Poor quality zoom calls - just get yourself a little webcam like this one that I have and a good light!

The divisiveness and politics of lockdown

People being careless or selfish about what risk they're creating for others

People losing their jobs and homes

Rishi Sunak, Matt Hancock and Boris Johnson

So. Much. Death. 


*For some context, dear reader, I'm in lockdown 3 in the UK and riding it out on my own


What is money?

 

 We've just had the budget so there's lots of talk about bolstering the economy, about supporting those who have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic, about tax rises and what money is or isn't available when you shake the magic money tree. Lots of people talk about needing to pay back this deficit like you have to pay the bank back if you're overdrawn or have taken out a loan. Except governments don't quite run that way where money is concerned. If you're at all interested in how government economics work and how governments create and distribute money, then I highly recommend you read the above thread by Richard Murphy. You can read it on Twitter or via Thread Reader where it reads more like an article. It is fascinating!

Thursday, March 04, 2021

Choice

I'm at one of those pivotal moments in life where the status quo has gone and I have to create whatever comes next. I've never had, or at least never felt I had, these kinds of choices before. I was restricted when I was younger by money (or lack thereof), time (too much time spent on work in retrospect), negative self-talk (I'm only human) and when it came to going to drama school, complete and utter parental disapproval.

Now that I am an adult orphan and am due to inherit a modest sum of money, I have active choices to make about my life and how I live it. I don't have to stay put. I am not trapped. I can do whatever I like. Well, you know, except for the pesky pandemic, but you get my drift. 

Obviously the world has changed dramatically since whilst I was caring for my mother. We're living through a pandemic and that has changed us all in some shape or form. The world of work I knew a few years ago has changed, possibly forever. The commute has gone. The in-person events have gone. The after-work drinks are no more. Travelling abroad to speak at a conference or visit an exhibition to network with colleagues and peers - all gone. And I have little sense yet of when or how that will come back. And if it should come back, do I still want to be part of that picture? Can I slot back in having been absent for the last couple of years? These are questions I'm asking myself daily and perhaps they're the wrong questions. After all, that world has gone - at least for another 6 months, possibly longer. 

I need to adapt to that change too and be open to new things. And I've changed too. I'm older, wiser and have been through life experiences that would change anyone's outlook on life. But I'm seeing that as a positive and that I have even more experience and knowledge to share than I did before. So maybe the questions can be more around what am I open to? Who do I want to work with? What talents can I bring to the party? What companies or sectors would be a good fit? What are my transferable skills? What am I hoping to get out of the next step(s)? Where do I want to be?

But choice can be paralysing. Too many choices on a menu and you end up going for the same thing you always go for when you visit that same restaurant. What a privilege to have choices available but what a responsibility too.

I'm sure I'm overthinking it here, as is my wont. It's time for me to do something, to take action, to get involved. It's time for me to start engaging again with the outside world and to start contributing to it again. I can't sit at home waiting for something to happen because I'll be waiting a long time. I have to make it happen. So I'm tapping into my creative spirit. I'm writing more - both published posts and lots of journaling. I'm meditating to get some clarity and vision. I'm dreaming too to see which dreams fit best. I'm starting some of those more work-related conversations with work-friends and friend-friends. I'm researching the market to see what's happening and what people seem to be looking for. I'm reminding myself of what I've done in my career and what my strengths are and thinking about CVs and marketing materials and websites and all that stuff. And I'm opening myself to new opportunities and also looking at what courses I might do to refresh my skills or stimulate some different thinking. I want to have those deep, insightful conversations again. I miss that.

So if you have any bright ideas on what or where my next step might be, get in touch!

(As an aside, if it weren't for the slight issues of Brexit and a Pandemic, I would probably be doing all of this from Barcelona for a month or two whilst supping on Cava, eating tapas and hanging out on a roof terrace. But that's out of the question for a good few months yet.)