We talk to Gill Pawley who turned her life around and found new purpose setting up Inkpots, helping children and young people tell stories through words and pictures in writing workshops.
1.What made you decide to do what you do?
I had turned 52 – and life wasn’t looking too great. My sons were both at university and thriving – but I was floundering all over the place. Their dad had died some ten years before and I had raised them single-handedly, but suddenly I felt quite redundant. I really needed a new challenge and a new way of life.
2.Why did you wait until you did to do it?
My self confidence was at rock bottom and I didn’t think I was worth much. But also in practical terms, a huge amount of my time had been taken up doing all the parenting stuff!
3.What are you hoping to accomplish?
Through Inkpots Writing Workshops, I hope to offer children a safe and secure space (whether an actual or online space) where they can express themselves creatively through words and pictures. I run after school clubs and holiday workshops and have recently started an online club so that many more children can join in the creativity and fun.
4.How did you make the change? What or who helped you?
I went on a small business booster course to try to rejuvenate my existing business (I’m a freelance publications editor too) and had a lightbulb moment in the middle of a session which led to me thinking about a totally new business! The people running the course were a massive help and really encouraged me.
5.How did your family and friends react?
My sons were absolutely thrilled – they remain massive supporters of all things Inkpots. Friends (especially of my own age) were more sceptical – and some of them dropped off the radar. But that’s ok – I don’t need negative people around me!
6.How has your life changed having gone down this path?
Five years ago, if someone had told me that I would be happy to do a whole school assembly, I would have laughed in their face! But that’s just one of the things I do now. I have a completely different working life and love being involved with schools as I run after school clubs in five local ones. Over the past four and a half years, I have built up a really warm community of Inkpots families and supporters too.
I am also regularly in contact with authors, book bloggers and publishers which has opened up a whole new world. I work longer hours than ever before but it is very much on my terms.
7.What advice do you have for women considering a similar life change?
You have nothing to lose! Give it a go and remember that you have tons of experience to fall back on.
8.What are you proud of and what keeps you inspired?
Nothing beats a child saying that they love Inkpots or when a parent says that their child is inspired by a workshop. I know that children with anxieties or dyslexia for example, find Inkpots a safe place to be and that knowledge drives me forward.
9.What do you love most about being the age you are?
I love being really fit – better than I have been for years. I am quite comfortable with who I am now after years of doubting myself.
10.What do you hate most about being the age you are?
That it has taken me so long to sort my self belief out! I feel I have wasted time worrying about stuff that is not worth it!
11.What do you know now that you wish you’d known in your twenties?
That I am a lot tougher than I think. I have survived some really challenging times and I can deal with adversity and trauma.
12.What are the most important business and/or personal lessons you’ve learnt along the way?
You have to be true to yourself – listen to your inner voice and trust your instincts.
13.Do you have a mantra that has guided you more than any other?
I do like ‘Balance is not something you find – it’s something you create’
14.Which woman do you most admire and why?
There are a couple of Inkpots mums who I really admire – their lives are full and demanding with some real challenges but they have found a way to balance top flight careers with bringing up happy children.
15.Is there anything people consistently misunderstand about you?
I am an introvert but if I am passionate about something I will talk about it and network quite happily. But then I withdraw a bit when I need my own space, which confuses people.
16.How can Mutton Club readers find out more about what you do?
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