Monday, December 7, 2015

{best} Case of the Mondays: Madeleine Forbes

So. It's been a while. 
Life is busy. Blah blah blah. 
No excuses. Let's get back with it. 

 We all know Mondays suck. 
Each week, I will feature a Monday in the life of someone who can provide some comfort/humor/inspiration to the start of your week. 

Meet Madeleine Forbes! 

Madeleine is a writer who helps ambitious, creative entrepreneurs create compelling website copy and client communications. 

I grew up in London, but in 2014 my husband and I relocated to a tiny off-grid farm in Central Portugal. Now I’m sinking into a really seasonal rhythm. So these days, I wake up late, just as sunlight starts to stream into the bedroom. I often wake up thinking about the work I have to do that day so snuggling with my husband and our sleepy, furry kitties first thing is a good reminder that really all I need is right here.

I get up and put a pot of coffee on the stove for both of us. Then I open the door and let our two dogs in – their beds are in the workshop outside and they greet me as though we haven’t seen each other for YEARS – all licking tongues and wagging tails. I step outside and take in the amazing view and the fresh air. Then I wander down into the garden and let our chickens out, checking to see if there are any eggs in the nest box. The valley’s beautiful in the mornings, mist rising up from the river and buzzards circling in the sky with their distinctive mewing call.

Bundle up in socks and warm clothes and step into my office. I start by checking my paper diary and noting priorities for the day. Then I check email and get stuck in. I’m most creative early in the morning so I try to start the day with writing first drafts of blog posts or website copy.

Late breakfast and more coffee. I like to eat something warm at this time of year – toast, cooked on the griddle pan, with butter and homemade jam, or porridge with local honey. Then back to work, with a tall mug of hot water and lemon to keep me war and hydrated.

I take a break to head outside and stretch. If the sun is out then this is when it lands on our terrace, looking out over the valley. Since moving here I don’t have regular yoga classes to attend like I did in the city, and at first I really struggled to motivate myself to keep up a practice. Then I took an e-course by one of my amazing clients, Ellie Coats. It really helped shift my mindset around my personal practice and understand that my body knows what’s right to do. With the pressure off, it’s something I manage more often than not these days.
I often have a Skype call around this time, either catching up with an existing client or exploring a new business story to share. I have a handful of long term partnerships plus copywriting for one off webpages or e-courses. I try to keep Skype calls to one a day if I can, to give me the space I need to be creative and truly present when I connect.

I love cooking so making a proper lunch is one of the main things I love about being self-employed. Almost invariably it involves cheese and carbs. Lately I’ve been really into bread, local sheep’s cheese, homemade chutney and some leaves from the garden (and an edible nasturtium flower or two!). Nick joins me if he’s not out running errands.
I try to keep my afternoons for editing, admin and scheduling. I’ll do any final checks needed on writing that has to be done by a deadline. 

I work alone so social media is my “office” – a place to unwind, connect with colleagues and like minded people. I aim to hang out on Facebook and Twitter for half an hour or so daily – share things I find interesting, or my own blog posts; support others in the various writing and business groups I’m in.

My final email check, just in case anything urgent has come up that a client needs help with. I draw up a list of what I want to do tomorrow and make a mental note of when I need to wake up, in case I have an early start.

Hopefully I’m finished for the day. I don’t have a smart phone, so when my laptop’s closed I’m offline completely. It’s one of the biggest contributing factors to my sanity J Time to walk the dogs; it’s a nice way to end the day by getting back into nature. I wander down to the river and watch them snuffling about in the woods, keeping my eyes peeled for mushrooms to forage…

As evening falls, there are night-time chores: Closing up the chickens, feeding the dogs and cats, lighting the wood stove. We might walk over to our friends’ farm for dinner; they’re a twenty-minute walk down the dirt track we live on. Otherwise we’ll settle in for a cozy evening.

A glass of wine (or two) finishes the day. Either our own wine with grapes from the farm, or red from our local co-operative, which is cheap, fruity and drinkable. Nick and I chat while we make dinner. He gives me business advice, or we’ll talk through current projects on the farm or share dreams about the future. We take it in turns to cook, unless one of us has a particular urge. We never ate much meat, and now I’m vegetarian it’s rare even for Nick. We’ll eat what’s fresh from the garden, or seasonal produce – right now cabbage, beans, root veg (beetroot is my favourite) and the last of the tomatoes, plus lots of beans and pulses. Nick has a sweet tooth and we usually finish with a few squares of chocolate, or a pudding if one of us has been baking…

We like to watch series online; we’ve been catching up on Sense8. And we love podcasts – lately it’s Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History for gruesome historical events and battles which I find weirdly relaxing. If the internet connection’s not great or we don’t have enough electricity stored in the batteries, we’ll read, play scrabble or talk.

Now the nights are getting longer we’re usually in bed by 10pm, like old folk, with the cats. I like to take a mug of Rooibos tea or lemon and honey to sip as I read. We snuggle up and read with our solar lights before drifting off around 11 or 12. Going to bed that early means I usually have to get up and pee at least once, which means pulling on shoes and heading out into the cool night air (our bathroom’s outside). I look up at the amazing stars through the pine trees and listen to the owls hooting and the rustles of the creatures who live around us. How lucky we are.

For more information on Madeleine Forbes, check out her website and more information on her farm. 

Want more {best} Case of the Mondays Series? Click HERE to read all the past entries. 

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