Follow-ups and the beauty of an unpredicted Summer Odyssey.
It has been a while. Time passed by and I honestly did zero work for my uni. The truth is, I did work so much in the last three/four months and I had no energy, no time, no motivation to do anything Uni-related.
But let me step back, rewind the time of 3 months and tell you a bit more about my very last intervention, which - from my point of view, it was a success as well as a failure. I did run a fitness workshop at the end of June which was fun, stressful, and eye-opening. The location was absolutely stunning and it was by the river Po - one of the biggest rivers running in North of Italy. I managed to run the workshop in a lovely chalet kindly sponsored by a friend of my partner. The place was magickal, beautiful, peaceful, and quiet. The only two sounds that you can hear are coming from the water, gently flowing from a dry seabed typical of a hot Italian summer, and from the wild birds that found their homes in the strong and wild leafy trees which have been rooted here and grew across several centuries.
I started to plan my summer workshop two weeks in advance - mid-June and decided to hoist it at the weekend, on a Sunday morning, when the temperature isn't too hot (during this time of the year we normally reach an average of 38°C by mid-day and makes any outdoor activities quite demanding for the human body). Below you can see the invite I designed to promote my event and the healthy smoothie that I made for the participants as a reward for a good 45-minute fitness workout.
Shall I do it again? I am genuinely not too sure, as well am not too sure about the research question I have been followed-up since the beginning of my second academic year. I did love this experience and I did always divided myself between Art & Fitness, building two solid businesses which I am absolutely proud of. Especially during the lockdown, where I lost my job as Art Director, being able to develop a second business (fully online based) that sustained me, providing me food on my table and a roof above my head on a daily basis, it was so far the biggest success that I have achieved solely by myself. And I am truly proud of it and equally extremely grateful for it. But I went to a point that I was very close to burnout.
By last March I started to get new bookings in for both my personal training business as well as a freelancer AD & Senior Designer. What an amazing feeling that was... to be needed again for my knowledge in both wellness and in the creative field (and of course for my skillsets, personality, and working culture). But because I did experience so few months of poor bookings I said yes to literally everything. I ended up taking clients and get underpaid, purely to follow my passions and my working ethics: I overbooked myself and became a yes (wo)man. My standard day did start at 6 am, where I was doing my own fitness training followed up by some housekeeping. After that, I was starting my 9-6 pm freelance work in the design/creative field, followed up by fitness coaching from 6-9 pm or 10 pm. Many times I also had overtime to do for my design clients and I was ending up going to bed never before midnight. I saw days passing by and I was running on autopilot. Days became weeks and weeks became months. By the end of July, after being Covid-19 infected I decided to take a break and make an important choice. Firstly, I felt the need to take back more time for myself, that time which I denied for a while to simply put my clients first. t wasn't an ego-driven choice, it was a necessity to get my health (and my life) back. I ended up saying no to dinner events, time with my family and partner, simply to constantly accept bookings. That is why I said that this entire experience was both a success as well as a failure.
I succeeded in every area of my business(es) but I failed on my wellbeing (basically on me).
At the beginning of August, I drop a consistent amount of fitness clients by (fairly) increasing my hourly fees. And I did book a good amount of Fridays off. I did plan to travel to the UK to spend more time there, where I am still resident, in order to meet my design clients and work closely with the agency which gave me solid work since May. I knew they deserved my time and attention more than every other client.
But things never go to plan right?
August was the month I did work more in my entire decade as a creative human. And here was the time that I truly burnout. I departed Italy with two pieces of luggage, my cat and my partner. Ferry booked, much money involved in pre-post covid testing, filling forms, road trip plan. You name it. But remember that I said I was basically working from 6 am to midnight? It took me 4 days to book/plan the entire trip which I did of course from Midnight to 2 am. We left Italy and after 2 days we arrived, on a Sunday morning, in Calais at the ferry terminal. After providing a million of paperwork I realized that my cat vaccination wasn't valid yet and we had to wait 12 days before being able to enter the country. And that was when my summer Odyseey really started. My partner and I decided to take those days where we weren't allowed to enter the UK as a good excuse to travel to Europe. I should not have to listen to him, instead, drive back to Italy. But I did - so we ended up In Brixells for 4 days, Paris for 4 days, and the next 4 days in North France. I lived and breath any sorts of challenges - from working with my laptop on a bathroom unit to sharing a 12 sqm room with a cat that was scratching everything, from furniture to loo rolls, not being able to undertake site visits (I was working 9 am-12 am remember?). Anyway, after spending those 12 days, I rebooked all the covid - did all the tracking filling forms we did to do (again - as of course the previous ones expired). And my Fridays off became the days where we did actually travel from one city to another. Did we manage to enter the UK? The answer is yes, for only one week. In one week I had to fit in everything that I originally planned to do in 4. - Plan and oversee major repairing house works in my property in East London, - Visit London with my partner & meet up with friends which I haven't seen for many months, - Do some uni work/research/intervention as well as tutorials, - Meet my new colleagues/clients - Puk Puk (my cat) health check - My Audi TT MOT - Planning permission - Return Books to Central Saints Martin
- Check-in with my doctor/NHS that I was double-jabbed in Italy
That week I became the person I never wanted to become. My partner even didn't recognize me anymore. I went absolutely out of my mind.
I found a city that I used to love very different on my return: that multicultural feel that did make London so unique was no longer there. I couldn't hear any other languages spoken, but English. Job vacancies were now open for all those kinds of jobs that typically European people were used to taking. No more Italian fellows were working on hospitality, no more fellow Africans were selling beautiful textile in my favorite pop-up stand in Shoreditch, no more kebabs from my favorite Turkish shop. On the last day of August, I decided to leave the UK and I was very much looking forward to returning to Italian soil.