On floristry and the meaning of work

Diabetes, employment, Floristry, Work
altar at home

Altar piece, with delphiniums, carnations, roses, nigella and foraged foliage and grasses. Photo by the author.

As I woke reluctantly this morning, I saw one of the pieces I made for my show night sitting on the chest of jarrah drawers that I inherited from my Nan. It made me smile, a deep, from the gut kind of smile.  In floristry speak it’s a vegetative symmetrical arrangement, which means to the rest of us that it looks like a round garden. Like it has grown out of the container I’ve put it in.

I feel both sad and glad that floristry is over. I have passed, and I am now a fully qualified floristry assistant. An unemployed one though…

Unlike the PhD which I regularly regret doing, I have no regrets about this course. No regrets about the time and the money and the lost income spent pursuing it. This, I think, is a good sign. I’m sorry that I will not be showing up regularly to class each week with my buckets and my hopes, and enjoying the company of the many wonderful women that I met. Given that Cert 4 is not available in Canberra, I had hoped that I would be able to repeat but it seems that I will not be able to do so. Admin and rules and all that clap trap.

So I am a bit stuck now.

I haven’t been able to get a job and my two formal job interviews so far have been extremely bruising. I’m also worried about my body. I seem to wake up each morning feeling like I have a hangover, and while I can be a big drinker, hangovers only last a day. This week I’ve had a really good massage and been to Pilates and I should be feeling fabulous. Instead I feel like I’m an old tea bag, wrung out and of not much use to anyone. So it’s bad that I should feel like this generally but if I want to be a florist, it’s terrible.

Floristry is so physical. And I took it up because it is so physical, I need physical because of the diabetes. But at the same time I am afraid that if I was employed as a florist and I keep feeling like this, what’s it going to do to me? How do you know what is physically normal when you can’t get inside someone else’s skin?

Commercial floristry is fast paced, apparently cut throat and most of the people I’ve met in an employee/employer context haven’t been all that nice. I might be good at flowers (always with room for improvement of course) but I’m not fast, I abhor this commercial context and my life is far too precious to hang out with arseholes. What to do? Who wants a diabetic florist with a dicky back and anxiety issues?

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Career plan D?

employment, Floristry, PhD, Stress, Work

There is one good thing about unemployment.

It’s the fact that when you spent the night alternating between crying and getting drunk because another interview/job trial flipped you over the edge, you can simply crawl into bed and stay there.

When I dreamt that my kitchen exploded recently I was fairly sure a meltdown was on the way.  Well, here it is.  Obviously, meltdowns involve long term baggage and the precitating event is just that.  Nevertheless it was horrible.  I don’t think they meant it to be horrible, but it was.  Four hours of it.  The only saving grace of it is that I got paid.

They were very particular, even down to how the buckets had to be filled.  I thought their method was more inefficient, but I didn’t say so.  One of the women has no filter.  She might not have said ‘God that’s awful’ but her face did.  She undid everything I did and remade it.  Not that they gave me a demonstration first, just showed me a picture and said do that.  One was a posy in a pot which had paper around it in the picture, so I wrapped it like a bouquet and put it in the pot only have it all ripped off and redone.  Pot, with paper pushed in and then filled with water.  WTF?  I got into trouble with her for making the boss angry but I have absolutely no idea why.

I walked away from that job trial feeling utterly incompetent and like I never want to set foot inside a florists ever again.  Or that I am capable of handling a retail environment.  Which would be fine except for the fact that I am no longer getting interviews for work in my other areas.  I am totally baffled by this.  And I’ve asked for feedback and what you get is total buraucratic dribble that is not remotely helpful.

All dogged by the green eyed monster which is directed toward my friend.  She’s not even graduated with her PhD and she’s been offered not one but two lectureships and won a huge research grant.  She’s had the luck I hoped for myself post PhD.  It either works for you, or it’s a career killer.

so here I am faintly dead and career plan c (floristry) in tatters around me.  Career plan D?  At this rate I’ll be scrubbing the loos at the mall.

 

Techno baby steps

Emotional management, Floristry, Work

A tiny amount of progress has been made.

My fledgling business now has an email.  Although I am in full on doubt mode again following what I made in class last night.  We were practicing A-line designs, and I started to let that nasty inner perfectionist pipe up.

I’m not particularly happy with either of them.   But of course I am comparing myself to my teacher’s demonstration last night and she has 20 years experience in some of the most prestigious venues in Canberra.  More practice…and less judgement.  If someone received either one of these, I imagine they would still be delighted.

Onwards…now it’s a decision between going with Facebook or instagram so that there is a visual address on this simple little business card project.

Peace and kindness to you all.

Business card blues

employment, Floristry, Home, photography, Work

Dear goddess, I just want to be a florist, not a business woman.

It’s lovely that all three people I made bouquets for this week wanted my business card, which I, of course, don’t have.  But I got the message and went investigating last night.

Now I’m in a maelstrom of technology so it seems.  For the record, I am utter crap with technology.  For emphasis, think how Rik Mayall would have said that in The Young Ones.  The world has gone online and I am being dragged kicking and screaming into it like a severely recalcitrant toddler.

Given that floristry is a visual art, customers must be able to see what you make online.  So I have to have some kind of online presence but in what form?

Perhaps I’d be a little more open minded if that large company named after a fruit had fixed the problem that arose some years ago instead of making me sign a thing saying I’d never back up to the cloud.  Which has left me with severely outdated operating systems so I can’t even download an app.

I’d rather just go and work for a florist part time initially, but that’s proving difficult to manifest.  So I’m being forced into self employment before I am ready.  I don’t want to work from home because, as I learnt last week, my space is unsuitable and I don’t have a fridge, and coming into summer, that latter item is essential.

What to do?  What to do?

 

What I learnt from my first wedding

Floristry, Uncategorized, Work

I’ve passed a milestone, two actually.

I won my category in my first floral competition, and I’ve done my first wedding. It seems that I am a florist, even if it is still a few weeks to graduation.

As I’ve been stumbling through my life I have read countless self help and popular psychology books, trying to make sense of it all. Many of those books said things like this:
If you find your passion everything will fall into place.
The stress won’t matter so much, or
You’ll lose yourself in it.

I’m relieved to say that there is a shred of truth to such assertions. Perhaps it only seems like a shred as it was my first wedding, and I can only hope that with experience will come calm.

Mistakes were definitely made. The supplier didn’t deliver two thirds of my foliage, the red roses shattered as I unwrapped them and the proteas were not the variety or quantity I’d ordered. I didn’t have enough buckets. The buttonholes were not were my finest work, but the wedding arch turned out sensationally and the bride loved her bouquet. I loved her bouquet, and it went together so easily that I feel I may have had a little divine help. I was expecting to have to make it several times but it came together on the first go. Minor tweaking only. I was on time, on budget and my clients were happy. Success.

I had several moments of wracking anxiety. The first was post buttonhole when I texted my sister and my floristry friend something with lots of swear words and capital letters, and my friend gallantly drove all the way up from the south coast to help me out. Thank you Linda. The second was at midnight on Friday when I looked at the photos I’d taken and freaked out at all the gaps. The third was driving to the site, when I had to employ a useful breathing technique to slow my heart rate down to a more pleasant rate. Then when it was all done, after I’d handed the container of rose petals to the bride’s brother, I realised that I loved it. Even with the anxiety and the crippling thoughts of ‘Will it be good enough?’

Will I do it again? Absolutely. Just not in my house.

Enthralled

Canberra, Floristry, Work

I am having another bout of career angst. No, angst is too dramatic.  Maybe just plain old anxiety.  Of course it’s Monday, where many of us face the prospect of a week doing something that we really don’t find enthralling.

I use the word ‘enthralling’ deliberately. It’s an interesting word, one that has largely changed in its use between now and the early examples from the 1600s given by the Oxford Dictionary.  Originally, it meant ‘To reduce to the condition of a thrall; to hold in thrall; to enslave, bring into bondage; to ‘enslave’ mentally or morally.’  Its meaning has been extended in a more positive direction, as in ‘Now chiefly, to captivate, hold spellbound, by pleasing qualities’.

I think most of us would like to wake up on Monday morning and feel enthralled by the prospect of going to work.

A few weeks ago I had to take time off work because I had reinjured my back.  Unable to sit, my physio encouraged me to take gentle walks. I headed off to the Botanic Gardens with my ipad.  With great care and with lots of rest stops, I made it round the main path loop.  The rest stops coincided with photo opportunities, as I stopped to admire the winter flowers that I found.  In retrospect, I realise that I was enthralled.  Despite the pain, and the freezing temperatures, I was still enthralled.  It was wonderful!  As the poet, Mary Oliver, says:

“Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.”

Here I am, telling about it.

From left, the wonderfully floriferous grevillea called ‘Lady O’, the prostrate form of Acacia baileyana, Banksia spinulosa var. neoanglica and a Geraldton wax called ‘Cascade Brook’.  I am definitely going to try and find ‘Cascade Brook’ for the new native bed that I am hoping to construct over the summer.  Lady O is pretty easy to find in Canberra nurseries, as everyone seems to appreciate how reliable she is, great flowers, bird attracting in winter and frost hardy.  I had her in my last garden and would definitely make space for her, even though she may not be a great choice for the vase.  I wasn’t interested in floristy previously so I never thought to cut her.  I think for my next arrangement I might try a banksia.  I am not particularly confident on how or even what I should do, but you have to learn by doing with floristry.  I still have a branch of this amazing something from the Protea family that I bought last week to make a birthday arrangement for a friend.  It has a seductive silky texture and combined perfectly with the apricot spray roses.

How do I find that same sense of delight and enthrallment in my working life that I get from writing about plants and flowers?  From arranging them and growing them.  The obvious answer would be to retrain in horticulture.  But not with a back injury and my cancer producing skin.  Retrain as a florist?  Well yes, but I can’t afford to live on a shade over the minimum wage, certainly not in this town.  I met a florist recently and she says she gets paid $19 an hour, or $39 520, assuming a forty hour week.  The Canberra Times (26 June, 2015) noted that ‘The average income of a full-time ACT worker is about $90,000 a year – a smidge above what a typical APS level 6 public servant earns. (And, in Canberra, more public servants are employed at executive level 1 than APS6)’.  Just for the record, my academic job is well below the average…

Still trying to figure out how to translate that sense of astonishment and communication into a career I can live with, and afford.  If you have suggestions, let me know!

Allergic to work???

Adoption, Cancer, Diabetes, emotions, Family, Uncategorized, Work

I think I am allergic to work.  No, seriously.

I have spent the entire day forcing myself to pay attention, with my eyes skittering off the page like a toddler on too much red cordial.  The trouble is, this is the latest of a long line of jobs I have loathed.  My first job was when I was in high school.  That was decades ago.  I still feel exactly the same about work as I did then.  It’s tedious, exhausting, unrewarding and generally, a crapulous experience.  Hence, my conclusion.  I think I am allergic to work.  We’ve certainly had enough people over the centuries praising it as virtuous, character building,  blah de fucking blah.  But I have to ask myself, are they perhaps not shouting a little too loud?  It certainly seems like it to me.

It’s hard to avoid the modern rhetoric about the importance of work and career.  Indeed, I am conscious of the fact of the ongoing struggle of some women to even be able to participate in the workforce on anything like equal grounds.  I feel churlish about complaining about my lot, which has a window that opens, a door that shuts and plenty of freedom and flexibility.

Not enough freedom and flexibility, however, to be able to run with my essence.  I woke up this morning feeling like shit, and didn’t want to leave the house.  It’s nearly the end of the day, I still feel like shit and I want to be at home.  In bed.  With the cat. Period.  But I am not in any position to honour these feelings, to give them space and work with them.  One of the lessons of that I think we all need to learn is to honour our emotions, however challenging or difficult they are.  I have known too many who haven’t and in the process tend to have had more trouble, both within their own lives and with others, as a result.  Maybe if I’d stayed at home and accepted how I felt, I might have gotten through it quicker, and then when I got to the office, I’d have been ready to actually do some work.  But I’ve not been able to achieve a thing, because the urkness inside still wants its day.  So, end result is that I still feel like shit and I’ve also achieved nothing.

I do have good reason to feel this way.  My mother does indeed have cancer, in addition to heart disease and diabetes.  I’m crapping on the universe for giving me two mothers with cancer to deal with.  Such a lucky little adoptee.  But even despite this profoundly good reason for wanting to crawl under the doona and NOT COME OUT EVER AGAIN, I feel the same about work.  I felt like this before I got the news about my mother.  It has just made me feel my feelings about it even more strongly.

I wonder how many people would genuinely continue to go to their job if they didn’t need the money to pay the bills and feed themselves and their family if they have one?  Would you still do what you do if you didn’t get paid?  My answer is no.

Yet, if you were to consider my CV, you might think that it couldn’t possibly have been all that bad.  Maybe it wasn’t.  I certainly have met lots of kind, intelligent and wonderful people, some of whom have been become treasured friends.  I’ve found that I get to spend perhaps half an hour a day enjoying the company of my colleagues, and the remaining majority of the hours I’m locked to a computer screen.   Some of my work may possibly contribute to making the world a better place.  Emphasis on possibly.  Certainly that was my intent but you have no guarantees.  Did I enjoy the processes of work? No, not really.  Not enough to counter the depression and the exhaustion.  Am I in the wrong job?  Clearly the answer is yes.  What worries me is that there is no right job.  And that I have to show up here, day after day for at least the next two decades.

Oh happy thought.