Real life, outside, no longer in that magical bubble that is Birka Folkhögskola has so far been a challenge. Every day there was about making music, inspiring people, beautiful surroundings, 3 meals a day provided as pleasant interludes in between more time playing music…
My health has declined with a relapse of a long-standing condition that has left me battling with fatigue rather than just living with it. My doctor wrote me a note to limit future work to 50% (for now), and to apply for sick benefit for the other 50%. Whether I am entitled to such help is in question as the application will take some time.
I recently had a job interview for 50% English teacher in Stockholm but still await a decision. I was also wondering if I could work for myself with the creative outlets I have in crafting, music and teaching. With all this uncertainty, my brain in super-Swedish-translation mode, I was somewhat nervous of a meeting at Arbetsförmedlingen, the employment service.
Luckily, I met a professional and kind job advisor called Håkan. He listened carefully to my situation and responded with encouragement, positivity, guidance, strategies and support. I left with a handshake where he said I could be a pioneer. There was, in fact, a lot I can do and offer these fine Swedish citizens, or even the world!
Amazingly, the crazy idea I have of even starting my own company was not deemed to be entirely crazy. No. In fact, the employment service could see me again in a week or so, with a specialist, to discuss how to start up a business and whether I would be entitled to financial aid during the first 6 months! Or, for a smaller- scale endeavour, maybe I could continue crafting and earn a hobby income.
My head spinning with ideas, I needed a fika. Fika is the Swedish institution of drinking coffee in any number of social situations at almost any time of day. Cinnamon buns, or this day, carrot cake, is an integral part of the fika experience during points of crisis.
This coffee break was not entirely for therapeutic reasons. I was heading to the creative hub, chill out zone and coffee house that is Cafe Tingshuset (Östersund), having already arranged a meeting with the manager. Showing a bright potpourri Garnharmoni hats, she looked on approvingly and thought that my hand-made work would fit well in their shop. With an approving nod and a “jättebra” (very good), we agreed that I should go, get crafting, and come back with a selection of wares. Spännande! Exciting!
So creative career choices. Lots of confusion right now, but lots of possibilities. Significantly, the energy and ideas I dedicate to “garnharmoni” comes back as “garnterapi” at this time of uncertainty and poor health. I hope I can develop my craft work further and will find out all I can on the practicalities of operating within what seems a flexible and supportive working system here in Sweden.