This time two years ago I was desperately trying to get well enough to restart my teacher training course. I was endeavouring to become a secondary school maths teacher. I was loving the teaching and, if I do say so myself, I was pretty good at it! I am still proud of my "learn algebra using Lego superheroes" lesson. It seemed I had found my calling. Unfortunately, my health had other ideas. I ended up in hospital for a week during my first term, and again during the second. It turned out that my particular variety of asthma hates schools! Floor polish, whiteboard pens, cleaning sprays and teenagers wearing far too much deodorant were too much for my sensitive lungs! I reluctantly decided it was not going to work out and left the course.
Prior to starting my course I had been selling my pictures through Gillian Jones Designs, but it always seemed like a temporary activity. A bit of a hobby to keep me entertained until the kids got bigger and I got a "proper job". Since I had always expected my proper job would be teaching it was a bit of a blow (I am good at understatement!) to discover I couldn't do it.
After a bit of reflection, and some counselling*, I decided there was no reason not to focus on Gillian Jones Designs as a "proper job". I enjoyed it, people seemed to like my pictures, I could work from home and I could fit it around my children and my health.
Two years down the line and my business is more successful than ever. Last year I sold precisely zero pictures in January; this year I have sold several. I have a growing partnership with the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity. Knowledge of my designs is spreading and people often contact me on recommendation. In contrast, my health is significantly worse. I now have another chronic illness to add to my collection, I often use a wheelchair, I have days where I am so tired I cannot move from my sofa and I am currently in discussions about getting a stair lift fitted in my house (good grief!). This could be a fairly grim tale, and there are days when I am more than a little frustrated (understatement) but the decision to make Gillian Jones Designs my proper job was one of the best I have ever made. When I am feeling very unwell it can be tricky to keep on top of things. Fortunately I have a husband who is very good at mount cutting and friends who are excellent at packaging and don't mind doing Post Office runs! Plus I find customers are very understanding if one is honest with them.
So, here's to a home based, flexible, family friendly, health preserving, but "proper" job.
*As someone who had always been very self sufficient and more inclined to just "suck it up" than indulge in group hugs, I found counselling remarkable. Do it if you think you need it.