Monday, 16 November 2015

Job 26 - What it's like to run a craft centre

Job #26 (woo hoo I'm over a quarter of the way through!) was working at a craft centre. It's really the lady that runs it and the people who go to it that make this place the crafting wonderland that it is!

 I'll start off by explaining a bit about the company. It is a community interest company, so is almost a charity but not quite! The company is called Unravel & Unwind and is held in a wonderful space called Intra which just oozes art appeal everywhere you look! There is another artist who is also based in this space and it is just magical. Unravel & Unwind hold 'drop ins' 6 days a week - which they are hoping to extend to 7. There are numerous craft sessions that people can come along to. You don't have to have any previous knowledge and can even just come along for a chat without joining in if that's what you need! Sometimes they are directed by an expert, and sometimes they are like the session that I attended today where is it a learn as you go format so everyone is teaching each other which is great! The company formed very organically and Faye very much wants it to continue that way. There were a couple of volunteers there today who were coming up with new classes that they would like to run. Faye wants it to be a real community project, so goes with the flow when it comes to new classes. The felting class that I attended today is once a month and started in January as it was something a couple of people fancied giving a go - they watched a YouTube video and away they went! It's an absolute bargain too, for just £7 people can come along for the day, and all materials are provided. I should add that all the materials that Faye sources are made by local suppliers to continue with the community theme. People also have the chance to display their work, quite a few have had their pieces sell too!

Felting was so much fun and something I hadn't even heard of! It's very therapeutic, and we had great fun experimenting and seeing what we ended up with! I can't wait to go back and try some more classes and learn some new skills! 

The most amazing part of Unravel & Unwind however has to be Faye who runs it! She suffers with a condition called Fibromyalgia among many other things. This is a very difficult thing to live with, and left her unable to work. This is how Unravel & Unwind was created, a business doing what she loves on her own terms! Unfortunately companies aren't too quick to hire people with invisible conditions like ours and in a way I can't blame them as our bodies can be pretty unreliable at times. For those of you that don't know much about Fibro, the body is in extreme amounts of pain and gets tired very easily along with head fog and a multitude of other symptoms. You would think this would make it pretty impossible to run a business, but with an extreme amount of determination Faye is a shining light to all of us to show that anything is possible if you set your mind to it. Pretty much everyone that attends the sessions at Unravel & Unwind has an invisible condition of some kind or another - although it's not a requirement! It creates a wonderful place for people to come and socialise without worrying about the affects of their condition. Every person in the room today suffers with memory loss, so it was completely acceptable that we didn't know each other names, how we take our tea or what we were even doing there! It's a great deal of pressure that we put on ourselves in the outside world to seem 'normal' but faye has created a safe environment where we can be our own kind of normal with no need to worry about being seen as rude or feeling judged. There were even two people there with MVBD too! It always makes me so sad to hear people's stories about invisible illness, but it also gives me the determination to carry on the struggle to find a way to overcome these things. Each and every person there today was a true inspiration, I can appreciate the struggle that it would have been for them to come along today. What a fantastic project, it really is a magic that needs to be experienced to be appreciated as it is impossible to put into words. Invisible illness can be so isolating and what Faye has done is create somewhere that people can go and for a few hours can feel completely understood.

This has definitely gone into my top 3 on the job list so far! What an incredible job helping the community whilst helping your health, being creative and helping others at the same time...I really don't know what more you could ask for from a job than that!

I asked Faye a few questions to unravel (see what I did there!) what it's like to run a craft centre, here's what she had to say:

1. How long have you worked in your job and how did you get into it?
I've been working on Unravel & Unwind CIC since December 2013, with the studio space opening in March 2014. The job found me, I had been having visions of it while I was unemployed and recovering from the last serious cfs/me/fibro flare that caused me to become unemployed. I had started to teach myself to crochet as part of my personal healing and was having no joy in finding employment. So with the help of the job centre I built my own job.

2. What's the best thing about your job?
I love being able to be creative in the company of like minded people. Sharing skills, knowledge and ideas is just touching the surface of what I love. Everyone I interact with have their own story to tell, but the common factor is that many suffer from hidden illnesses such as depression or fibromyalgia, and all any of us want is to spend time with people who understand while crafting. For some reason, while we are being creative we don't "feel" our illnesses and we feel "normal" for a while.

3. What's the worst thing about your job?
The paperwork - I deal with all the bookings, accounts, social media and the end of year tax returns. This takes up a fair chunk of the working week, but hey if it's gets too much I just turn my back on the computer and get back to crafting 😊

4. If money, time, education etc were no object what would your dream job be?
I'm going to be truly honest and tell you that I am in my dream job. I just need more hours in the day and more energy to do all the different types of arts & crafts that I want to try.

5. What stress rating would you give your job (where one is super relaxed and 5 is super stressful) 
Most of the time it's 1. I only reach a 5 when I'm working out the accounts. 

Thank you so much for letting me come along to experience your wonderful centre! If you too would like to Unravel & Unwind (what a great metaphor!) then visit

If you would like to sponsor me on my challenge by donating to the wonderful charity that is The Meditation Trust & their project researching the impact of Transcendental Meditation with helping people (particularly soldiers) to overcome Post Traumatic Stress Disorder then please visit:

Friday, 13 November 2015

If you could swap lives with someone would you do it?

People have said in the past that they would love to trade lives with me. The caveat to that would be that they would have to swap absolutely every aspect, it can't be all rainbows and unicorns after all. I wonder if they knew the full story whether they would be so eager...

Truth is the parts that they have seen that they quite like the look of are all a result of hard work and the support of my incredible friends and family. The bits they haven't considered when making such a statement are probably less desirable, and things that unfortunately I have no control over. But none the less I have to find a way to live with them each and every day. 

Let's have a peek through the looking glass and delve deeper into this grass that appears to be greener! This is how your life would be if you made the swap, should you wish to accept it...

You work part time. We only have to work as much as we need to to sustain the lifestyle that we choose. If you want material possessions - the biggest house, the newest car or latest smartphone then of course you're going to have to work your arse off. Maybe your at work so much you don't even get to enjoy the things that you work so hard to get, but at least you can say that you have them. In your new life however, you have opted for experiences over possessions. You value life more than you value status within society. That being said, some people are just dealt shitty cards and have to work their arse off just to scrape by. They are going through their own struggle. You are lucky enough that you have a loving family to support you whilst you recover. 
You work part time because that is all you are well enough to do at the present moment. You have some pretty fierce criticism to deal with mainly from yourself but sometimes from others. You have to keep reminding yourself it's not because your lazy that you can't hold down a full time job. When you do go to work, you work at a florist. You love your job. Sometimes you'll feel amazing, but most of the time you will be battling trying to stay awake. It can take a great deal of effort to walk in a straight line, your head may be attached to your body but a lot of the time it feels like it is orbiting somewhere in space! A customer comes in to place and order, the majority of the time it's a real struggle to remember all the details you need whilst trying desperately not to give away your dirty little secret...your head doesn't work - that wouldn't look very professional now would it. You find it so difficult just to get your head to tell your hands how to write the correct phone number. When you have to add the cost of the flowers to the delivery cost, you might as well have been asked to perform some sort of complex algebra as it's just as difficult for you. You look forward to going to work and the variety of tasks and challenges it provides. As well as being surrounded by awesome people. You are one of the lucky ones who loves their job. 

You have all these great plans. you do have so many amazing opportunities (you made those happen though), but a lot of the time it will take several cancelled attempts before you manage to get a day where you are well enough to go and do all of these cool things. You will have to deal with the frustration, wishing you didn't have to cancel so many plans and the internal battle that ensues. You look at a funfair in awe, it used to be one of your favourite things to if you get brave enough you might go on it, but you will be ill for at least a week. If you don't do it however, you feel sad about the things that you can no longer do. It takes a lot of determination not to feel sorry for yourself sometimes. You do the best that you can, and now accept that all anyone can ever do, is try their best. 

Your at university. The course started off as 2 evenings per week, but you couldn't handle just 6 small hours of learning, it was just too much for your head. You had to deal with the feeling of being a failure, making the decision to change to just one evening, 3 measly hours per week. You also had to make yourself vulnerable and try to explain your stupid condition that you wish you didn't have and that no one has even heard of to the university so that they could help. The lecturers were great, but have had to change aspects of their lesson just to give your stupid head a chance to learn. Those 3 small hours of learning made you feel terrible for a week on more than one occasion - learning used to be one of your favourite pass times, yet it's now so difficult. You may have an incredible evening of inspirational thoughts and ideas, but whether you will remember it a week from now, tomorrow or even in an hours time is left to the gods. Your getting through it though, and loving every second. 

You went travelling for a few weeks.  but only because you weren't entirely convinced that you weren't going crazy! You came up with the theory that as your condition is caused by stress if you completely got away from all your worries for a few weeks you would be able to see if you were making your illness up or not. You put this experiment on a credit card that you are still struggling to pay off. Was it worth it? Of course, you discovered your not crazy and your not making it up either. People saw the photos and thought it looked great. What You didn't get photos of however was you crying in the street, on the phone to your mum at 5am because you feel so unwell in a country where you know no one - you weren't well enough to move on with your friends. You didn't get photos of when you had to have your friend hold your hand when walking up the street because your head was so bad you may aswell have been drinking all night! You didn't get photos when you were tucked up in bed on your own in a strange hotel battling to stay awake due to the copious amounts of medication you were taking whilst your friends were out having fun. It was a great experience though, and a very relaxing time out. 

You go on meditation retreats. You have an incurable condition. You can't put a price on feeling human again, even if it is only for a few days. You will literally try anything that makes you feel even slightly better. This is probably your favourite place on the planet, you can have conversations freely without your head holding you are you again when your here. 

You sometimes seem rude, boring or maybe both to people when you are unable to think of anything to say when having a conversation. You may even walk off mid conversation because you can't bare the fact you have no idea what to say. You have to deal with the fact that you are a shadow of the person that you used to be, and people will not often but occasionally take the time to remind you of that in case you hadn't realised - like there's something you can do about it. Most people however say they don't even notice you have difficulty finding the  words, I think because you can feel the struggle you think others can see it - but they rarely can. 

Your head will no longer be able to comprehend the time, you will have to have your mum help you to manage when you have appointments as it's no longer something that you can do. You will lose hours of your life in the blink of an eye. Your very blessed to have someone that can help you though, and luckily you usually get it wrong so that your early rather than late which is a bonus! 

You used to like things done a certain way, and were a highly strung person. Now every day you become that person less and less because you simply can't be. You have had to learn to accept that you make mistakes - about 50 a day! You do however get great pleasure in chipping away each of the last remaining parts of you, the old you. Which then enables you to come closer and closer to being the person you were destined to be. Like a caterpillar shedding it's skin.

I do have a pretty awesome life - one that I love and am very proud of. Of course if I was given the opportunity of a magic wand or a genies lantern I would get rid of my condition. I am working on that part, and all that I can do is be happy with the cards that I have been dealt and find joy in the lessons that it gives me each and every day. There is a strange satisfaction in completely falling apart and having to piece yourself back together again. 

So next time you say to someone that you want to trade lives with them, make sure you have truly considered all that entails. There are plenty of people who my life is significantly better than, but I suspect those are the people who wouldn't make such a sweeping statement as they are painfully aware of how little we can know about what is going on for someone. 

Everyone has a struggle of one kind or another. Be the one who helps make it easier for them rather than more difficult. Even a smile can turn a hopeless day to a happy one. 

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog, I would be so grateful if you would share this.

Bobbie :-)

I am doing my 100 Job Challenge to raise money for The Meditation Trust. If you would like to sponsor me and donate money to this life changing charity then please click the link:

Thank you :-)