Why am I here again?

I suppose it makes sense to start a blog with a bit of context. A scene-setter. I’ve never done a personal blog before, and coherence isn’t my strong point. Also, I’m not really sure what I’m aiming for here, so this could be entertaining in the worst possible way. So stick with it.

I want to write about all the things that I do outside of my regular person life. I have a great day job as a psychologist, which I worked hard to achieve. Literally YEARS of studying, academic writing, publications, practice placements. I have a PhD (which quite frankly nearly finished me), and I’m at the top of my game career-wise. So I’m happy to bumble along and enjoy that for what it is after all that slog.

The problem is, I like a challenge.

Being the over-excitable and highly intense individual that I am, there’s always a risk I might wake up one day and randomly decide I want a career in architecture, or sea fishing, or the theatre. However, being a single Mum to two young boys, sudden career changes are not really a possibility. My boys need stability, and they need security. So, I figured that in order to maintain a job I love and a lifestyle I need, I would spend my spare time doing random stuff instead. As much random stuff as I fancy.

I’ve always been pretty random, but I had a while off subversion while my boys were little, mostly due to sheer tiredness really. My randomness kick-started again around 2013, which I put down to two things: 1) Turning 30 (it really does things to a girl) 2) starting my PhD.

My PhD was honestly my first foray back into the world of interesting grown ups since having the kids. I was surrounded by thinkers again – academics, people who challenge things, people who gave me credit and validation for being an intelligent and competent human being. Not just a Mum. Controversial as that sounds, my PhD kicked off a major identity crisis in me which opened my eyes to the way I saw myself, and the way people close to me saw me and my role. It resulted in a turbulent time, but it had to happen.

No surprise then, that I started tinkering with chainsaws during my doctorate. As you do. I have no background in arb or forestry, I just really like power tools and the smell of two-stroke. I thought chainsaw carving looked fun, and I thought Stihl chainsaws were the coolest thing I’d ever seen, so why not? I made a few little investments and got set up with a carving corner and wood storage in my (long-suffering) Mum’s back garden. Chainsaw carving is the best thing I’ve ever done. I’m going to write a separate blog post about this later, but to summarise: I’ve learned new skills, grown in confidence, made networks of new and amazing people. Plus, I’ve also spurred myself on to try new things.

I stopped chainsaw carving for a little while whilst finishing my PhD, and during a pretty difficult period in my personal life. I’ve always missed it though, and lately I’ve had some awesome support in my corner, encouraging me to pick up the saws again. On top of that, I’ve developed new circles of friends with skills that I’d love to learn.

A game-changer for me has been my workshop. It’s hard to find space as a Mum, mentally and physically. My living room is an extension of the boy’s bedroom (you’ve no idea how often I tread on LEGO), and my house is small as it is. I’ve always carved at my Mum’s house (safer to keep the gear away from the children), but my lack of time has meant I’m generally so disorganised that I get little done. I have been *extremely*  fortunate lately to have had the assistance of a workshop fairy, who has kitted me out with an amazing workbench and storage. So the workshop you see feature on my instagram is a new addition, and I created this blog to document and reflect on my workshop shenanigans and my projects, amongst other things. My workshop is my happy space.

I suppose this introductory scene-setter wouldn’t be  complete without some mention of my frame of reference. A bit about where I’m coming from.

Obviously, I’m a girl. I suppose the way I write might be accessible to women, more so than men, but I hope it’s not the case that my blog is just for one audience. I’m writing as an amateur and a hobbyist first and foremost – someone who is essentially winging it, trying new things and sharing tips along the way. I hope that will appeal to both genders.

I am however, sort of using this writing as a bit of a vehicle to figure out my own identity as a woman. Like everyone, I use social media as ‘inspo’ for my own life. I follow people that I want to look like, be like, aspire to. It occurred to me, recently, that my instagram feed was 99% ass selfies and fitness pages trying to sell me booty plans and fit tea. Not cool. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a lifter and I love my gym. But is that really want you want to set as your life’s goal?

So I set about de-bootying my instagram a little, and instead started exploring the many amazing females who are makers, builders, carpenters, woodworkers, arborists, welders etc etc…these are the people I admire. This is the shit I want to see in my instagram feed every day. And this is the world that I want to be part of.