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2019...what an amazing year!

2019. I hoped this one would be better than the relentless endurance test of financial disasters and personal crises that marked 2018 and I wasn’t disappointed. A lot of stuff has happened this year. Important stuff that has served to steer my ship in new directions and set up a path for the future.

I graduated from my MSc in Environmental Management with a Distinction. I wanted a first in my BSc but didn’t quite hit it, so hitting my goal of that top grade this time was amazing.

A huge impact on my life this year has been @Arbtech Consultancy Ltd. Finding their ecological consultancy key skills course and becoming part of the Arbtech community has been life changing. It gave me a straightforward route to start working within ecology as a subcontractor. It provided me with a ready built basis of a professional network and I made new friends.

I learned there is a “bat bug” and catching it has led me on an exciting learning journey in which I have picked up all kinds of knowledge new technical skills, from learning to recognise potential roosts, to analysing sonograms of echolocation calls in specialised software. It has been amazing to finally earn money from ecology.

This has fed into the musical side of my life too. As I’ve learned more about bat acoustics, I have learned more about musical acoustics. Aspects of musical theory I’ve struggled with all my life have started clicking into place as I’ve expanded my background understanding of acoustics. I wrote one of my best songs after a night spent listening to bats over a local lake.

I joined the local bat group, got involved with the Herts Barbastelle project and was involved in the discovery of a local maternity roost of national importance. I have learned new skills and made new friends and contacts, the same applying to my involvement with dormouse and water vole monitoring. A big highlight was the opportunity to handle dormice on a course in Kent.

A massive highlight was getting an interview with Arbtech when I didn’t even apply for a position. I didn’t get the job but the fact they regarded me that highly gave me a massive confidence boost and it led to other skill building opportunities.

I was promoted to a higher pay band and tasked with leading surveyor teams. I was made an accredited agent on my local consultant’s licence and sent off to do my own independent preliminary roost assessments. I wrote reports and I dealt with my first difficult client. My first PRA turned out to be an important maternity roost, which was amazing! Being trusted with these things meant a huge amount and did my confidence a lot of good. I am looking forward to doing more next year. To gaining more knowledge of planning, getting more confident with clients and getting faster and more efficient at completing surveys and bashing out reports.

Arbtech have had an influence on me that extends way beyond ecology. Their director has a special interest in psychology, which means he’s an innovator in his evidence-based tactics in terms of leadership and ways in which staff can increase productivity whilst maintaining well-being. I learned from his blogs and the Arbtech culture document about concepts like Deep Work and Pareto’s principle and this encouraged me to dig really deep into my past failures as an entrepreneur. I realised the end of my pet portrait career was a burnout caused by unsustainable working practices and unrealistic expectations. The unexpected result of this was that a few weeks ago, the artist part of me suddenly, unexpectedly woke up from her sleep and wanted to make art again. I started a new painting and now, using the tools I’ve gained from Arbtech I am planning how I can weave art back into my income streams.

I had an interview with the environment agency. Again, I didn’t get the job but the interview prep had a great impact in encouraging me to broaden my knowledge base and learn more about catchment based river/wetland management.

Musically, it has been an exciting year. I joined Papa Shango in April and have been having a great time with them. They have raised my appreciation for the importance of bringing performance art and showmanship to music to create maximum entertainment.

I developed a great relationship with Spriggan Mist after auditioning for a lead singer position in 2018, where I was one of just two shortlisted. I was not chosen but they were keen to maintain a working relationship with me and I played many interesting gigs with them, in particular Colours of the Oak camp, where once again, I made lots of new friends.

The year has ended with the most unexpected Christmas present after the lead singer role in Spriggan Mist re-opened. Suddenly, overnight my future changed completely as I found myself, finally in a band again. And not just in a band but in one on my musical and thematic wavelength, with a following, who are going places.

It feels like bit by bit the disparate corners of my life and passions are finally coming into place to weave together the varied mosaic of my dream life and I am very excited about 2020!

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