100 Day Goal – Chapter 3 – Drumming to your own Natural Rhythm

There seems to have been some kind of time warp since my last reflection! We’re up to Day 25 already! Quarter of the way through my challenge! Where has the time gone?

Apologies for my late update, it’s been quite an eventful and stressful couple of weeks.  I’ll fill you in on the details.

The list is going swell, lots ticked off.  We (very patient fiancée and moi) went for a trip (which incurred a bus lane fine!!!! Didn’t budget for that!) to Dunsterhouse to check on the options we’d seen online.  I was like a kid in a sweet shop (or an artist in an arty shop). The young trainee guide was not quite up to speed, but he was pleasant and we soon found the options we’d revised to take a gander at.

Under the watchful eyes of a dinosaur (see pictures), we inspected workmanship, size and natural lighting. I was looking at the aesthetics (ooo look at this pretty one) and Kev (the level headed one) checked thoroughly dimensions and feasibility of construction.

We came to a mutual agreement on the size and style and with taking my budget into consideration. The aforementioned guide escorted us to a very knowledgeable and un-pushy sales rep.  I didn’t feel pressurised and he went thoroughly through all the options.  What we hadn’t known is that, if we wanted them to install the studio, due to Health and Safety (raises eyebrows), we needed to ensure that there was sufficient space all the way around for crash mats to be put in place.  Erm… we were tight on space in the first place! So after pondering, we said we would watch a few more of their very helpful installation videos and DIY it.  What this did mean though, is that my expanded budget (saved £800 by DIYing it) allowed for me to up the size of the studio!  But, this also meant that we were going to need to extend the already planned area.  More work, but for a larger studio, worthwhile! I nervously/excitedly parted company with my pennies and we drove off into the sunset (detouring to visit my mum).

On the journey, I’d been considering names for my beloved studio.  After going through all things nearest and dearest, I decided, don’t fix what ‘aint broke and stick with Red Roo Studio. I shall be designing a sign at some stage… (must add this to my to do list).

Due to working full time during the week and limited daylight, any available time to prep the area has been at weekends, even through a snowy one.  We shifted much gravel, sand, cement and slabs along the scary alley (we live in a terrace with shared access) and down to the bottom of our little garden.  My muscles have been telling me off!  The neighbour has been keeping a low profile, I think she knew what we were going to say about the boundaries.

It’s not all been hard work, we made sure we had time out at the Djembe (African Drumming) Community Group which we are a part of.  Good for the soul, mind and body. It was a welcome reprieve and great to catch up with folk we hadn’t seen for a while due to the house move.

Life isn’t a competition.  I hear and see a lot of people comparing themselves to others. What’s right for some is not necessarily right for others. You have to find your own pace and live life to the beat of your own drum, to your own natural rhythm.



My lovely dad (the best dad and kindest man in the world) had a fall a couple of weeks ago.  He played it down, we thought that he’d scraped his arm and bruised his ribs.  Being the dad he is, he doesn’t like to cause a fuss and carried on regardless.  He must have been in such pain.  When his breathing got too much to bear, the hospital kept him in after finding he’d broken and displaced a section of his sternum close to his heart! that was last week.   He’s at home now, taking it very steady, but as you can imagine, my plans for a while have gladly taken a back seat, even though still ticking over. He has always been my inspiration and gave me the determination and strength of mind to battle on, no matter what obstacles I face.

So, what was next…? I renewed my insurances and approached a local event organiser with plans to book onto my first fair in March. I also, stopped putting off my tax returns and was glad to hit the submit button. Why oh why do I always put it off?!

This weekend saw further work on the foundations in-between a Taiko Drumming Session (Can’t get enough of learning new drumming techniques). We also managed to speak with the neighbour… finally! We explained (as nicely as possible, so as not to offend) about how our plans showed the boundary being incorrect and we came to a compromise to extend it part way to where it should be. Phew! I was dreading that conversation, but at least it’s out of the way.  I also had a visit from an electrician that I know, so we now have a rough estimate to getting wired up.

So you see… whatever life throws at you.  Don’t give up, a few baby steps are better than no steps at all.  You can put obstacles in your way and come up with excuses not to do something… I’m too tired, I haven’t got time, the weather is crappy etc, I’ve got to wash my ‘hare’ but if you want to reach your goal, you have to compromise on a few things, persevere and look at alternative ways round those obstacles.

Keep on kneading bakers! The results will prove you can cook up something tasty to get your teeth into.









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100 Day Goal Chapter 2 – Wobbles and Reiterations

Well! Let’s recap!

After signing up to the 100 Day Goal with the Business Bakery, I have been keeping a journal about how plans are cooking up at the end of week one! Will it be a souffle fit for a Queen or a bit of a soggy bottom?

Day Four

The day started with waking from fitful back to work sweats and the lovely man flu snores of my beloved Kev.  Back in the ‘day job’ today. I’d missed my colleaugues, but time out had made me realise how much I want to be doing my own thing, and for those who just tuned in, that’s to kick my Freelance creative business up the bum after a year out. Starting with arranging studio space.

After flopping into my chair at the end of the day mentally drained from spreadsheet overload, I had a ‘putting the world to rights’ chat with my sister Heather (the level headed one of us). This gave me renewed determination to make Saturday the day to speak with the neighbour about stage one of operation studio space (aka claiming some of our land back) “Get awf our land lady!”.

Attempted to rebook PPL insurance, but glitches meant having to delay.

With the assistance of Kev, we made a start on looking proper at studio spaces within budget. At least it was a step forward.

Oh and as well as healthy mindset plans, I bought a hula hoop to make a start on a healthy body… just hope it goes over my boobs and hips without getting stuck!

Day Five

After another night interspersed with what seemed like a pneumatic drill going off in my ear (actually Kev’s snores), I woke with renewed determination.

I constructed the hula hoop and found it did go over said boobs and hips. I proceded to gyrate my ample hips and after knocking the contents of the coffee table onto the floor, managed a few gyrations. Ouch! That hula hoop hurts! It has knobly bits on it!

After returning from work, Kev and I did further studio research and with much gusto (Kev’s even more of a spreadsheet nerd than I am), the findings were organised into a spreadsheet for reference. Name, dimensions, optional extras, price, comments). It’s a good way to be organised, as you can forget what you’ve looked at and useful for ironing out pro’s and con’s.

Day 5 also saw me dipping my toe into the Facebook ad pond. I set up a 7 day promoted post. I’ll be feeding back on findings when it ends, but received lots of advice and sharing of experiences from fellow goalies, both Negatives and Positives.

Day Six

Oh deary me! Today I got the mid week, back to work blues <everyone sing along>. Again, received lots of support from goalies. But! I renewed my Artist membership and PPL insurance in readiness for getting cracking in the studio when it’s up and running!

I’m so grateful for the support of my fella Kev who has been assisting me with what is feasible and what is not in studio options…

Me: Oh I like that one

Kev: Yes, but it’s too wide

Me: How about this one?

Kev: Yes it’s very nice dear but in no way shape or form will you fit your copious amount of art stuffs in!

Armed with our spreadsheet, we will be going along to view a few on Sunday <eeeeeek excited>.

Day Seven

Today was reviewing plans day. So I made a to-do list.

  • Speak with neighbour re boundary
  • Recover from angst levels
  • Order fencing
  • Order studio
  • Eek with excitement
  • Get quote for electrics
  • Try not too get alarmed from costs
  • Foundations/Fence
  • Plan studio layout
  • Remind self it’s not Dr Who’s tardis
  • Get studio erected
  • Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek wear   incontinence pad in case excitement is too much
  • Arrange power
  • Furniture/Decorating
  • Don’t go overbaord… yeah right! I’m a creative!!!!
  • Name studio – I name this studio …?
  • Create artwork to sell and fund studio… oooo arty time
  • Plan workshops/Exhibitions/Events
  • Grand opening – open house with have a go’s…and carrot cake…must have carrot cake!
  • Smile! You did it!

Day Eight

Made it to the end of first week back at work! Yippeee!!

Not alot done plan wise, but made time to finish/create some artwork which I shared.

What was productive today was the lovely feedback on my artwork and re-iteration that people do like what I do!

Did have to raise my eyebrows this week at a colleaugue who also has a sideline building family business. She was discussing tax and I said I’d got to kick my butt to do mine. She scoffed what have you got to do tax for?!!!! Erm I have a freelance creative business! I do make some money in designs and artwork you know! It isn’t just a hobby!

Creatives do struggle to be taken seriously in business at times!

Well this creative is determined to create a business…and a business which will be loving what I do and paying bills as opposed to working for others just to pay bills!


That’s all for now folks!


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100 Day Goal with the Business Bakery – Recipe for Disaster or Something to Savour?

Last year, following one of my many ‘what to do’ moans on Facebook, the lovely @joelleharris recommended signing up to the 100 Day Goal with the Business Bakery.

I’d faced one heck of a year; house move from hell (that’s a blog on its own), new job, severe allergy, family illness, son moving out… any one of which would have tested my patience, but the whole lot served in one grotty year was almost enough to push me over the edge (my creative mind often has me teetering).

I survived (through mucho rocking back and forth) and thought, what the heck! I’d lost a whole year through stress, so a little directon towards my original path of freelancing would not hurt!

My goal starts with needing a space! An arty, space to create, to get messy, to show others how to create… a space to walk into and away from as and when.

So the Goal is a studio! This is the space (please use your imagination).

Ok I’m on Day 3 of the Goal, so here’s a recap:

Day 1 – New Years Day

Listed things to consider:

Boundaries – dispute with current boundary

Funds – Ensure in healthy position following Christmas

Public Liability – Check current insurance covers all requirements

Time – Working plans around full time job

Getting on with it – Sticking to plans

Took time out with family to blow away cobwebs on a walk around Dovedale.


100 Day Goal… here we go!


Day Two

With the assistance of my fiance Kev (yes someone was mad enough to propose to me Christmas Day- a positive end to a horrid year). We measured up the space. The neighbour put a fence up incorrectly ie pinching part of our boundary. This will make a difference between having an 11×8 studio and a 12×8 studio. (Sometimes size does matter). Not looking forward to discussions with said neighbour!

That was enough planning, so light entertainment followed!

Kev had bought me a ‘Night in’ box s as a Christmas pressie.

We decided that night was THE night…

Behold the contents; choccies, saucy things and whisky (I am partial to all 3).

The ‘Night In’ went down a treat!

Remember fellow goalees… whilst reaching for your goals, make sure that you don’t neglect those you care about (including yourself) and make time to de-stress. After all, without people to care for, caring for yourself and having people to care about you, what’s it all about eh?

Day Three

That’s today! and it was about catching up aka starting my journal, shopping and seeing my lovely dad).

It’s also the last day before going back to work.

How am I going to fit my plans in once I go back to work?!!! This is when I see how determined and focussed I really am!

Let’s see what this venture brings, will it be a Recipe for Disaster or Something to Savour!

Tune in for the next serving!

Oh… please visit my website www.redroocreatives.co.uk 

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‘Me’ Style… alot like Me

Well I did it! I went ahead and bloomin’ well made that decision to focus on my own artwork!

I’d recently had a couple of design briefs which left me feeling defeated, out-of-pocket, much time wasted and annoyed at myself for allowing myself to feel beaten!

As with all experiences, it taught me a lesson and helped me come to the decision that I will keep my day job as working to other people’s remits, but working to my own designs and remit when wearing my freelance hat.

I’m feeling more focused and liberated since making this decision and have already started working on some new ‘me’ style artwork.  All very countryside orientated with a side order of shabby chique and quirky… a bit like me really… in fact a lot like me!

I’m upping the challenge for 2015 and will be concentrating on getting out to more art fairs and finding ways to get into more outlets.  This will be a challenge as it will get me out of my comfort zone and back into networking/meeting with people.

Thanks to all my graphic design customers over the past 5 years.  It’s been a great learning curve but it’s time to move onwards and hopefully upwards!

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Living Life to the Beat of my own Drum

Life has changed in many ways over the last four years since the end of my 19 year marriage.  One thing that hasn’t changed is this yearning to make it as an artist and to be self-sufficient in life and to own my own home.

I keep having to ask myself…Where am I? What am I doing? Where am I going? I aim to continue with this mindfulness thing… living in the moment and knowing where you are at and what you are doing…feeling and hearing the beat of my own heart and everything around me. Being aware.

My partner Kev and I have been members of a couple of community drumming groups for the last year.  We got hooked onto it at a local festival where we were able to let loose at a drumming circle… it’s a release but also a way to harmonise with both yourself and others.  I am the kind of person who is a perfectionist, so I do get angry with myself when my creative mind wanders and I can’t quite get the gist of the rhythms as quickly as I’d like.  Dad said, I have always been the same, expecting to be able to do something straight away and getting upset and frustrated when I can’t.  One thing about me is I have to persevere, I won’t give up and I will do this and I will learn to take time to learn and digest new rhythms and embrace the odd bum notes and cringes when out of sync.

I suppose it’s like that in life isn’t it?! We go around living life to the beat of our own drum and now and again an odd bum note (aka crisis) wanders into the rhythm.  It’s learning to accept those bum notes that happen… that life happens… but persevering means that eventually, with practice and taking on those learning curves… you will create that wonderful harmony you strive for in life.


Peace out x

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Swings, Roundabouts and Window Shopping

I aint getting any younger! The thought of it scares me.  What scares me even more is the fact that I still haven’t progressed as far as I’d envisaged at this stage with Redroo. Don’t get me wrong, I have a slow but steady stream of work which seems to work out ok running along side my ‘day job’, but I’m still not at that point where I can knock said ‘day job’ on the head and be my own boss proper!

It’s all swings and roundabouts really.  I seem to be doing ok, then life happens and I feel like I’m going round in circles. The kicks up the backside are getting more frequent to keep the will going and I’ve been concentrating more on creating artwork and getting out to events which takes mucho time… and money, and is tiring when you work elsewhere virtually full time too!

This weekend I decided to dip my ink and coffee splattered toe into the Etsy pool and have set up a shop! If nothing else, it’s another way to advertise isn’t it? Let’s see how this goes and see if I can change my current state of just being able to window shop into having freedom of choice and being able to feel a little more comfortable and a lot less angst.

Here we go… next chapter beckons!!!!

Can I help you modom? Sir?  Feel free to take a browse…https://www.etsy.com/shop/MicheleMcDonaldArt


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Mindfulness… taking off the auto pilot

As a creative bod, my mind is in constant action. I can be chatting to someone whilst all the while I have thoughts and ideas whizzing around my poor head and distracting ‘things’ around me make it difficult to concentrate.

I guess that’s just what being a creative person is about, but sometimes it would be great to be able to have a bit more control and in turn to be able to steer myself in a particular direction rather than being set on constant auto pilot.

I want to arrive at a destination from time to time, having experienced the journey.

You know that feeling? Commuting to work and you will have encountered traffic lights, pedestrians, scenery… you sometimes get to a point and think “How the hell did I get here?” “Did I run a red light?” “Create a trail of roadkill?”.

You eat your food, but don’t taste it because you are checking the 20th email your boss has just sent you and it needs answering right away… STOP… MOVE AWAY FROM THE MONITOR… TASTE THE FOOD… TURN YOUR ATTENTION FULLY ONTO WHAT YOU ARE DOING. THE EMAIL CAN WAIT FOR 10 MINUTES. You don’t get brownie points, you will still have more emails to address…savour the moment and concentrate on one thing at a time. Be mindful… breathe… focus.

I’m new to this mindfulness malarkey and am sure I will need to keep kicking myself up the bum and stop my brain from over-multi-tasking, but I will persevere. I will from time to time put tape over the auto pilot button… sit back… taste… listen… see… breathe…take control of the here and now.

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