Workerbee Free Friday Fess-up: 28th March

Hello hello!

It’s only gone and turned Friday AGAIN!  Here’s another Friday Fess-up of what this free workerbee – or Career Pioneer :) – has been up to this week.

Hope it’s been a good one for you!


This week I have mostly been… trying to get hold of Ikea so that they can come and replace the custom counter they delivered which has been cut exactly to size… only the wrong bloody way round (RAGE); writing that ridiculously long post I blogged on Wednesday; doing art; hanging out; and doing some soul searching.  Here’s another pretty table I made to make me look busier than I am…


On Sunday, we discovered one of those magical, well-kept secrets of London that you can’t believe has been right under your nose the whole time.  I’ve been to Hampstead Heath dozens of times, since it’s only just up the road from where I grew up.  It turns out just across the road is the Hill Garden and Pergola, an enchanted garden with raised walkways, mysterious creeping vines and majestic domes that give the whole place the feeling of a lost city or fallen civilisation.  It’s really cool.

Hill Garden and Pergola

On Monday I had a whole day of running round London with the amazing Niki Kopcke, the founder of Mazi Mas, a social enterprise I have been advising.  Mazi Mas helps support migrant women in London with employment opportunities through pop-up dining events showcasing the amazing, authentic home-cooking of these talented chefs.  They are currently doing a month-long residency at The Yard in Hackney.  Definitely check it out if you can, you will have some yummy food and meet some incredible people!

On Tuesday I had my last ever Illustration class at Central St Martins.  If you want to see what the difference between believing and not believing in yourself, I think this is a pretty good example.  At the beginning of the class we went round the room and talked about our illustration experience.  Everyone said they hadn’t illustrated in ages…by which they meant they hadn’t “illustrated” specifically, but had been busy painting, drawing, graphic designing etc.  When I said I hadn’t drawn since school they didn’t seem to believe me, until they saw this:

When I didn't think I could draw.  It's a portrait of one of my classmates.

When I didn’t think I could draw. It’s a portrait of one of my classmates.

And then, just 10 weeks later, my final project:

Thanks so much to my teacher (@martimcgrath), my lovely and supportive classmates and my sister, for forcing me to sign up with her and then not going to most of the classes leaving me to fend for myself way outside my comfort zone.  These classes run in the evenings and I should have signed up years ago.  Yes, if you have work on you might not make every class, but it’s pretty cool to engage a whole other side of your brain for a change.

On Thursday I spent a lot of time doing something that kind of makes me cringe but that ultimately is the whole point of this transition period.  I’ve never been very good at self-reflection.  I’m really good and telling other people how to fix their lives, but I can never seem to apply the same principles to my own life.  My friend Jen sent me a link to a free online course on Harvardx called Unlocking the Immunity to Change.  As you know I made loads of resolutions at the beginning of the year and have had mixed results.  I love productivity stuff and personal improvement gimmicks so I signed up.

It hasn’t been what I expected at all.  The program is based on the research by the two course leaders, who are both developmental psychologists, that shows that people can continue learning well into adulthood and are capable of significant change even in their advanced years.  Their method distinguishes itself from the typical ways of forming habits (the “resolution” model and the “willpower” model) and is based on identifying the underlying reasons you have resisted change in the past.

At first I was going to work on a goal that was relatively superficial – I wanted to get into the habit of meditating.  This would have been great, but when I asked my friends and family what they thought I needed to work on the answer was pretty clear.  So (and it makes me feel a little ill admitting this to all of you but I think that’s kind of the point of the exercise) the goal I am trying to achieve is: to get better at giving myself credit for being who I am instead of caring about what other people think and what other people do.

It’s a biggie, for me at least, and looking back over my posts for the last few months maybe it’s obvious that this was the goal I needed to work on.  The course has been really powerful in revealing to myself the pervasiveness of the effects on my life of not living in alignment with this goal.  I’m really excited to make progress on this.

On Thursday night I went to a talk at the Spectator about The Always On Generation: How Technology is Changing Childhood.  They kindly gave me a free ticket since I was going as research for my novel.

That's Andrew Neil! The BBC Broadcaster!  Off the telly!

That’s Andrew Neil! The BBC Broadcaster! Off the telly!

There were some really interesting points made by the panel, most of whom thought the net effects of being “always on” were broadly positive.  Personally I think that the net is doing something funny to our brains (read Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows: How the Internet is Changing the Way we Think, Read and Remember and/or watch this great video summarising the key point of the book by Epipheo).

I’ve got to go see some puppies in Liverpool now (don’t ask) but here’s a quick list of the stuff I’ve been reading this week…

Have a great weekend!


8 thoughts on “Workerbee Free Friday Fess-up: 28th March

    • I know what you mean! I’m going to see if I can keep it up because it’s quite a nice way to reflect on what I’ve been up to and see if I’ve moved the things forward that I had hoped to at the beginning of the week. [I’ll admit that I’ve usually ended up doing something completely different than what I planned!]

  1. Hi Michelle, love reading your blog. I am working on my journey to be “free” (I work in the city as well) although not quite get there yet! Reading your blog does give me a sense of insight into my dream “free” days! I had signed up for the exact same course on Edx but hadn’t got a chance to started it (my day job plus my little side project that I am doing to be “free-range” seems to keep me from doing it) but looks like it is worth checking out!

    • Hi zhujie! Would love to hear about your side project – am always fascinated by all the things City workers are doing on the side (on top of their all-consuming day (and sometimes night…) jobs. I think the course is well worth doing, although what you get out of it kind of depends on the goal you choose. My goal is forcing me to consider the driver behind my priorities and is helping me gain insight into what I really want to get out of my various projects. I can already see that I’m working towards a greater sense of doing stuff because I want to and not to please anyone else, and this isn’t just in my work but also in my personal life. It’s pretty cool.

      • Hi Michelle. Agree with you having clear goals does help you prioritise tasks / projects at hand. I just started a course training to be personal transformational coach (after a long period of self-reflection!). I see coaching is a powerful tool to empower people to re-discover their true self and unlock their true potential. And I just love to see those “aha moment” in people and in how little shift in thoughts/perspective can make a profound change on a person’s life. I am also thinking about starting a project probably with similar concept as the ever popular “Human of New York” FB page but more as a “Human of the City” as we all know under those professional masks there are so many hidden dreams and souls in the city. As you can imagine given my day job (and lots of travel) it is always not easy to juggle across but I think I am now having a better idea of where I am heading to. Would love to hear your projects too and good luck with them! Jessie

  2. Pingback: Motivation For Monday - 31st March 14 | Career Change Mum

  3. Hi Jessie – sounds like you are heading in a really exciting direction! And I love the concept – Human of the City! There is so much beneath the surface in the City and it would be fascinating to hear the stories of the people who all ride in on the tube together without knowing who you are sitting next to. I am going to start writing more about my other projects…once I’ve figured out what they are!

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