The Dreaded CV – sometimes you just have to rest
In October 2021 Mr R and I finally succumbed to CoronaVirus. Officially we’d both managed to avoid it, even though at the very beginning of the pandemic I’d been ill enough to need paramedics, with all the symptoms of CV except a temperature. At that time your temp was a main test criteria, before the heady days of Lateral flow tests and PCRs.
I’d dreaded getting Covid after my lovely friend, Zetland Radio presenter and star of The Mighty Redcar Julie Donaldson succumbed, and sadly died on Halloween 2020. I’d messaged her everyday after she went into ICU, and it was, and still is a huge shock and loss that she’s no longer with us, her wicked sense of humour, boundless support for local communities and fab taste in music though will remain.
We had the jabs. Having an Autoimmune illness, I was first at the gate, and I truly believe, bearing in mind how ill we both were, I wouldn’t have survived. I was beginning to think, I definitely had it early doors so had some kind of natural immunity. ….Nope.
I’d recently gone it alone after leaving my job of 8+ years (more of that in a bit) and – feeling a renewed sense of independence, when a dear friend had a close family member die , I decided support her at the funeral – driving alone to Kent and booking a last-minute AirBNB. The funeral was a sad and celebratory affair, and my friend – a bar owner, battled through the wake which they’d held at the bar, but was clearly ill. From the stresses of her dog having had a terrible accident, her Mum dying and a car crash in quick succession, we thought.
In reality she’d contracted Corona Virus – from her brother’s Girlfriend who was supporting her before the funeral, and so I and all my friends who were at the funeral got it too, then my husband, and I managed to pass it onto my daughter’s partner’s parents, a source of shame for me at the time as they’d been totally isolating up to the point we all had dinner together.
Luckily we all got through it, after a good 10 days of both being really ill, a couple of takeaways and a doorstop delivery from Morrisons, Chris now totally over it, me left with a very odd sense of taste and recovering from chronic fatigue on top of my normal chronic fatigue. I think we had a close call. As I write, what seems like the end of an unsavoury and sad period of time overshadowed by the terrible atrocities in Ukraine.
Going it Alone – back to Freelance
The eagle eyed amongst you will have noticed this website having had an overhaul and name change from Ruby & Blue to mikirogers.co.uk. – I’ve gone back to working freelance …
I’d left community curator job in September, and felt unsure of the future but was dedicated to making it alone. My disabilities had deteriorated, and I’d been diagnosed with Hypermobile Joint Syndrome – an aspect of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, a confirmation of Fibromyalgia connected to the illness and widespread Osteoarthritis. Clearly all of these illnesses had been there all along, and I’d started having treatment and odd diagnoses aged 8, but the combo of CV on me both physically and mentally, with the added treat of menopause had sent my illnesses into the stratosphere.
When I returned to work in Spring 2020 after being furloughed, my place of work and work conditions had changed, and even my job was about to change.
I’d been working for the previous few of years mainly just getting on with my own projects and reporting in. It was an exciting time full of possibilities, and I had a great oral history / music project to work on with the amazingly talented Patrick Dineen, funded by Great Place. and with images by my fabulously talented photographer friend Kev Howard taken at the very doorsteps I was dropping off recording equipment for interviewees. I found myself working in the project between my home and these doorsteps, Md online, which I found suited me well.
Through these oral history interviews about their experiences of living in and around the formerly thriving Steel town of Redcar, Patrick produced ‘Not in a room of our own’ a soaring piece punctuated by these voices. Listen here:
From there, the changes brought my mental health and neurodivergence into sharp focus. The lack of directly supporting communities I had taken hard and what was on offer was neither a replacement for this, nor something I could work with. My working relationship deteriorated, and after being encouraged to do so by many supportive friends and colleagues, I called it a day on the job I had previously adored and had much pride in.
Around this time I met the wonderful Catherine ’Katnipp’ Kay, an illustration superstar with her fabulous Katnipp illustration, online vlogging and digital empire, all run from a couple of floors above my former place of work on the Seafront in Redcar.
I introduced her to illustrator and educator friend Frances Moffatt, who was in the process of setting up the inspiringly wonderful School of Illustration with partner Nick Moffatt, and I’ve been reaping the benefits of our support and friendship together as well as attending workshops set up by the SoI. Fran and Cat have helped me to work on my own Illustration practice and supported me in the changes I needed to make to go freelance with my work.
I was also contacted by the creative and community powerhouse that is Donna Freeney of Pimms and Needles, and have been providing tea blending workshop with the fabulous women who attend, plus there’s been work on a couple of top secret projects.
One I was asked to help put a bid in for and project manage, the other my own project working with some of our bigger cultural powerhouses and our communities here in Teesside. What an exciting time!
International Women’s Day – my take
International Women’s Day 2022 is Tuesday 8th March here in the UK, so I thought I’d start with some of my illustrations of women and nonbinary people I know or admire, starting with the fabulous three at the top:
Edith- my dear friend and sister, owner of refill shop and eco hub The Cut Back and eco warrior woman in her own right, alongside Edith’s eco sidekick, my very own singing squirrel Sadie Joan, and my co-director supporting Edith, Saltburn Solidarity Foodbank Doyenne, and my other sister from another mister, Lynn JP.
Closely following are Dolly, Greta and Frida … not much needed to say about these three, but if you don’t know about Dolly Parton’s work for communities, go have a look at the Dolly Parton Foundation.
Row three is all about those wonderful people I’ve met online, and now consider friends….
Fantastic body positive maker, beauty practitioner and designer Lou Worrell to the left : https://instagram.com/_loulala and queen of all things colour and pattern, Siobhan Murphy to the right who, alongside the whole crew kept me entertained and enthralled during lockdown on Interior Design masters. I’ve loved watching these two go from strength to strength. https://instagram.com/interiorcurve
They flank an image straight out of my brainbox which I’ve now attributed to glorious body positive LGBTQ+ skater Courtney Shove aka @fat_girl_has_moxy on Insta.
You’ll see I’ve included non binary people, and my approach to Femimism is an inclusive one. The issues we face are the same for cis women, trans women and non binary people who either present as fem or deal with women’s health issues, and I’ve run the Community Craftivism group Women of The Resistance Teesside For the past few years on this premise.
This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is #BreakTheBias supporting equal pay for women across the world. I’ll be joining by doing some work for Break The Bias, but also wanted to support Ukraine, so you’ll see me illustrate my take on work by Ukranian Folk Artist Maria Prymachenko. The museum dedicated to her work in Ukraine was, in the last few days destroyed by Russian forces.