Katie Rose
from: Katie Rose
Category: General Discussion

Self-Employment - Singing Your Own Song

I was asked recently to write a blog on self-employment. Which, as I am about to explain is somewhat ironic, considering that my life has been more of a sort of somewhat mad and magic carpet ride, however as this person felt that I had something which might be of encouragement to others, I will do my best.

The word employment comes from the Old French emploier - ‘attach, entangle, make use of, appy, devote’ which in turn derives from from the Latin implicare meaning to  ‘enfold, connect to, involve, be part of.’ It was not until the 1590s that this gained the meaning ‘to hire, engage or make use of.’  So employment involves connecting and devoting our time to some aim, cause, activity, person or organisation.  The awareness of which, means that for me, how and with whom I employ my time needs to be aligned with my own values and purpose in the world.

In this disconnected world, it is easy to be seduced into selling our time for organisations, causes, jobs etc which do not resonate with us.  In Western so-called civilisations we are groomed to be employed and to follow a sensible career path - to get a ‘good education and a proper job’ which usually involves selling 35 hours a week plus overtime to an organisation which has profit making as one of its main objectives.  We do this so we can ‘earn a living’ and have a good answer to the ‘what do you do’ question.  Which is somewhat back to front because we are actually both living and being before any sort of earning or doing or getting busy with stuff kicks off.

Business,interestingly, comes from the Old Northumbrian word bisignes - meaning ‘care, anxiety, occupation’ - which goes someway to explaining why I have always instinctively felt uncomfortable with being considered a ‘business owner’.  I have of course had to create business plans, deal with financial and tax institutions, most of which can be anxiety-inducing, so I continually endeavour to simplify and essentialise my goings-on and to make ethical choices - eg banking with the Co-Op etc.

An ‘entrepreneur’ was originally a french term for someone who ‘undertakes or manages’ and was often applied to theatre managers.   My favourite example of entrepreneurship is what I witness on the streets in Istanbul, where when it rains, bread sellers suddenly within minutes become umbrella sellers. I absolutely love this theatrical opportunism. I cannot match it, for I am a far slower and inward creature whose creations are mostly homebrewed and quietly so, often with years of marination. I have, however, been managing events of various types since I started studying theatre at school, which has involved encouraging chaotic groups of artists to agree to some sort of structure that enabled them all to turn up at the right place at the right time wearing the right outfits with the right bells, bows and whistles.  I think that this madness is probably a hangup derived from being the eldest child and so far it has probably cost me more than I’ve ever earned from it in commercial terms.  It has however, given me enormous insight into human behaviour, enabled me to create experiences which were of benefit to my community, (eg co-ordiating a big fundraising concert for WaterAid this year) and taught me how to be incredibly resourceful with shoestrings and gaffa tape.

Which leads me on to the true meaning of richness.  Richness for me is being able to offer something to the world which has value and makes a difference to me and other beings.  Richness is also having time to be able to meditate, dance, hang out with my loved ones, make music, do some haphazard gardening, write, fall asleep whilst attempting to read a book about the science of water and spend time in nature.  I realised many moons ago that I valued my time more than I valued paper and coins and that I was not prepared to sell my time to anyone other than those I felt an alignment of values and purpose with.  Which ruled out pretty much most of the commercial world. So I began serving individuals and organisations who I resonated with instead.

For many years the majority of that service was devoted to those with ‘Special Needs’, which I consider to be a heritage or family dharma.  My grandmother lost her hearing when she was a child and my grandfather was a hearing child of deaf parents who became a parson for the deaf.  I grew up surrounded by people with different abilities and started volunteering in SEN schools in my teens and have worked in various support roles ever since, including my current role giving holistic therapy sessions to adults in residential care.  I often feel that I am being healed by my interaction with incredible beings who experience more challenges every day than many of us might do in a lifetime and yet still smile.  I know one lady who is always laughing.  She cannot see or speak and her family abandoned her years ago, yet she laughs more than anyone else I know.  In this strange world, where people pay to go on laughter workshops, I am paid to spend time with her.  I am grateful for this anomaly.

Along my ‘career path’ there have been many experiences from the sublime to the ridiculous including giving onsite massage in posh offices, washing and massaging the mud off festival feet, interpreting aura photos, reading tarot cards at pissed up parties, giving mass sound baths, performing music at all sorts of weird and wonderful events and supporting people to sing, scream, cry, yell and express themselves in their own unique way.   It could be possibly be described as a ‘practice’ - because, to be sure, there is never any end to the practice of learning about human behaviour. Anything can and does happen. What it actually feels like is hanging out with people in inner space, whilst connecting with energies and techniques from outer space that catalyse some sort of transformative experience for everyone involved.

It would not be honest of me to suggest that this wonderful technicolour journey has been without challenge.  To choose to be self-employed is to step outside much of our cultural conditioning, which is liberating and can also at times be scary and isolating.  Three things have been key for me: 1) maintaining a daily practice and taking responsibility for my own personal process - ‘working on my stuff ‘ 2) cultivating a strong support network of like-minded explorers 3) developing a strong set of personal boundaries and ethics and a sense of humour to match.  

So, of course there have been storms along the way - to be self employed is to face all our fears and resistance which can come in many forms including financial instability which is what scares most people away from taking the step of self-employment.  In a creative lifestyle, money really is a river which has an ebb and a flow and a tide that matches our own inner currents.  The key to healing our fear around money is ultimately to separate our sense of self-worth from the numbers on the bank statement.  Sometimes I have been paid silly sums of money and sometimes none whatsoever.  Which just affirms to me that our current economic system is bonkers and often has no relation to real human values whatsoever.  It is too simplistic to say that we are not attracting money because we have low self esteem- sometimes we are not attracting money because the current economic system is not intelligent enough to include us.

Society conditions us to feel that we have failed if we are not competing and producing like good little workers in the machine. When we confront this illusion and realise that actually we are still lovable people regardless of our finances, we become more empowered around money and it can then see what intelligence and teaching it has for us.  Money has taught me many a time to acknowledge that there is a bigger game plan than my daily consciousness can comprehend  - which means that when I need to rest and am not acknowledging it, work will drop off and then reappear when I am stronger. A massive miscalculated tax bill one year meant I had to move house one year, which turned out to be a life changing experience - and of course the tax office gave me a rebate the following year.  All of these experiences have strengthened me immensely and taught me to trust in the innate intelligence of everything that happens in my life, regardless of how bizarre it may appear.

So for me self-employment is the choice to connect and devote my energies and my time to that which richly inspires, challenges and stretches me. For then, life really is singing my own song and allowing myself to be transported and transformed by the experience of it.  That’s for now, anyway, for the song is always changing, so I am just listening for the next harmony on the breeze.

Posted: 01 Aug 2012 By: Vidura groulx

What a refreshing article on what is truly of value in life through what is real wealth, doing what one loves and reaping the many varied riches that follow. Thank you for a 'right on' article. Vidura

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