Sunday, 29 August 2010

Farewell to the Forties!!

Hi again.
This is going to be my last post on this blog, for obvious reasons!

Tomorrow I turn 50! I feel ridiculously excited about it. I've just been on a fantastic holiday with my daughters and a friend. We spent a week in Keswick in the Lake District, which is one of my favourite places in the whole world.

Tomorrow evening I'm having a 'Glamour and Glitz' party at the local bar where I used to perform my poetry. It promises to be a great evening, an eclectic mix of friends and family. It hasn't been easy, making friends in the last few years. I spent my time working/nursing a sick child. I didn't have time, energy or opportunity to meet people - but finally I seem to have grown a group around me. I know some lovely, creative, quirky people here, and I love and appreciate them very much.

So! New decade, new blog. I'll be launching it soon, then I shall add the address to this post. See you there!

Thursday, 5 August 2010

The Final Push...

Yes, it's finally here! August, that is. I'm able to walk without crutches, swim over twenty lengths, and I've left my job!!!

I'm sorry for the lack of blogs lately. There has been so much going on that I have been distracted, but one of my New Year's Resolutions (I make them on birthdays, seems eminently more sensible!) is to blog at least every other day. Every day may be optimistic, given that I am hoping to be Supply Teaching, which I know of old is pretty exhausting. On the other hand, I shall quickly have a fund of entertaining stories. I can't wait!

I left my job last month in a blaze of indifference. My boss never quite got round to writing my reference (well she said it had been posted and emailed, but several weeks on it hadn't arrived in either form, so I drew my own conclusions, which I accept may be wrong, but it doesn't seem likely).

The Farewell Fuddle (for two of us) was a masterpiece of English Embarrasment at its best. Apparently I shall be remembered for a training event I helped to run 6 years ago ("which was a disaster, but Speranza stuck to the script and kept us going") and for "unfortunately being off sick for a long time." Ah well, I've learnt my lesson. This is the first job I've ever done for longer than a year (apart from Motherhood, which continues as a lifelong, long-distance blessing!) Nine years was obviously just Too Long. Alas, no mention of the many children I've actually managed to help. Still, I know who they are...

My line manager stepped in and wrote my reference, bless her, thus continuing her wonderful work of enabling me to carry on (or in this instance, to leave). As she is an artist, I gave her some painting-related gifts when I left, and wrote her a poem. I thought you might like to see it...

For -----

You work with an artist’s eye

for the potential of white spaces,

content to leave them be for now

and see what comes.

There is always room

for creativity.

I wonder if you see

How much you bring to people’s lives?

You patiently explain

systems and protocols

until they take on meaning.

This is Art.

Your explanations

are gems of clarity in chaos.

Tiny masterpieces, they

hang in my mind in golden frames.

You washed me with confidence;

gently painted until

your light touch

brought fresh colour to my work.

You daily show

an artist’s patience

with the people on your team -

and that makes all the difference.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

This is it!

Well - here goes!! Months of solitary meditation have finally given me the courage to do what I've been fantasising about for a few years now.

I'm sending in my resignation today. I've spoken to my line manager - who was very supportive and excited for me - but today I write and post the letter. WooHOOO!!

It is really strange how this 'timing' thing works. My daughters, who have seen me longing to leave work for ages, once threatened to resign for me if I didn't. "Don't go back in September!" they pleaded, at least a couple of years ago.

I had to explain to them that the time just wasn't right. I don't particularly know why it wasn't. I just knew it wasn't. And over the months (which became years) I got more and more frustrated with myself, and then began to feel scared that I had lost my nerve.

After all, a large part of what I do for other people is give them the courage to go for their dreams. I am a great believer in it. Why couldn't I do it myself? I inwardly blamed myself for getting stuck in the very trap I had always wanted to avoid - being too highly paid to leave somewhere. All the jobs which interest me would mean a salary drop of at least ten or fifteen thousand pounds - in fact many of them are voluntary.

No matter how many times I reminded myself that I have had ample empirical experience of the Universe Providing, I just couldn't do it.

My enforced time out, often in a lot of pain (no, make that excruciating pain) has given me time to think about many things. One of them was just how much I really wanted to leave my job. No one particular reason, I think I've just got very close to burning out in what amounts at times to being a Social Worker but with no power to change anything (I know they have little enough themselves).

I also had time to sort myself out a bit spiritually. I've been reading a lot and meditating and it began to dawn on me that those people I've always admired - the ones whose stories appear in magazines under titles like, 'I MADE A NEW START AT SIXTY!' or 'LOSING ALL MY LIMBS DIDN'T STOP ME CLIMBING K2!' all began somewhere. They all had the same feeling I did, and the only difference was that they had acted on it.

This wasn't a new thought - indeed, I had encouraged my daughters to try living abroad quoting those very articles. So why couldn't I live my own dream?

I realised that a lot of my dreams had got lost along the way. Sad - but not in fact my immediate problem.

I took time to think about what was keeping me in a job which was feeling like more and more of an uncomfortable fit. Instead of going through all the ways it used my talents, I allowed myself to sit (I had plenty of time for that) and feel how very wrong it felt inside. In fact I began to dread going back.

As I meditated, I began to see an old-fashioned set of scales, and I realised NOTHING outweighed my need to leave. As I've told many people, nothing is more important than your mental health. I did a few sums and saw that I was not in the financial trap I had allowed myself to imagine.

When I spoke to my line manager, she was incredibly supportive and excited for me. "I wish more people would have your courage," she told me. "Too many people get stuck for life and daren't move on."

My point exactly! And I heard myself say, "If I can get through the devastating pain of the last few months, there isn't anything I can't do."

And finally, I believed it.

So - today I am jumping. I have always known in my heart that I would never have the option of knowing what came next, that I had to create a cognitive dissonance of sorts before the next move became clear. But I know there IS a job out there. As I have told many people, you don't always have the luxury of seeing the path ahead, but when you look back, it always leads right to where you are today.

Having the courage of one's convictions feels a lot better than fearing the future!

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Getting there...

I had quite an eventful week... I saw a specialist (not 'The' specialist, as in, 'The specialist who operated on me'). He was charming and jolly, told me I have osteoarthritis in my knee, and said I 'can have a new knee sometime - but God knows when that will be!'

I remarked that it was ironic that I'd injured my knee whilst trying to lose weight to protect it. He said, "Oh you don't need to lose weight!" (I do - about 40 pounds I reckon!) but later admitted that the pain will be better the slimmer I am. So - here I am again, back at the gym. A new gym this time, with a pool and a Personal Trainer who seems reassuringly knowledgeable about her work.

That word 'osteoarthritis' was a real shock to the system. I came out of his office feeling fine, and then had a delayed reaction as I walked through the hospital, feeling tearful and wondering if I was doomed to be a cripple.

However I'm not one to dwell on negatives. I am really proud of how I have coped with a really difficult year, and I'm sure it isn't unconnected to my determination to hit Fifty running! Well, I shan't quite be doing that - unfortunately my two favourite gym activities (running and rowing) are off the menu now, but I shall just have to find something else I love! I do feel a little sad because I know that exercise and fitness is a long-term thing, and I thought I had started in good time, two years before my fiftieth. I've told my PT (Jade) that she might have to boost my morale a little and help me be excited about what I DO achieve by my birthday - but it's still over 3 months away and I'm sure I shall see quite a difference.

I saw the doctor, who has signed me off until May 27th - so I shall be going back into work for the last day of term. I can do that! My BIGGEST news (the thing I couldn't talk about earlier in the year) is that I have decided to leave my job and see what comes to fill the cognitive gap... It's a calculated risk - Plan A is to do Supply teaching - but I am thrilled because I have been getting frustrated with myself; I've been wanting to leave this job for over three years, and I've never quite plucked up the courage before.

It's finally occurred to me that after the last few months, I can probably cope with pretty much anything. I am so good at encouraging other people to follow their dreams, to go for it (whatever 'it' is) - and it's been strange to see myself unable to do that. I felt there was some reason, that the timing wasn't right... but deep down I feared I'd lost my nerve and would never be able to leave.

And suddenly - the moment was there, gleaming in front of me like a polished gem, and I seized it.

I resign at the end of this month (my line manager was very supportive) and my contract ends on the 31st August - the day after my fiftieth birthday.

Exciting times!!

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Birthday Girl!!

This was very remiss of me. Sophie Cat was 15 on the 8th of May. As I'm a single middle-aged woman, she is obviously a very important part of my cliched life! (Can't do accents, sorry!) She is such a character and has rather taken over my Facebook page these last few months, when I've been confined to the house and had very little else to write about and take pictures of!

Sophie has always had a healing ministry and has taken great care of my knee. This week she suddenly got up from where she was lying on the sofa and got into a very strange position with her front paws gently on my knee. The look on her face was one of prayer (you don't have to agree, but it really was!)

This amused me...

The other day I was in WHSmiths and I kept hearing this weird, high-pitched little voice go '"TCHOOOOOO!"

And I realised it was a woman about my age who was doing the first part of a sneeze (the spluttery part) and then waiting two seconds and then SAYING, "TCHOOOO!" as though she had been taught how to sneeze.

The third time she did it I began to laugh - it was somewhere round the back of a huge bookcase and was coming at me from random angles - and the fourth time I started to guffaw....

And then realised I was next to her husband. Who was obviously very embarrassed.

We all left quite hurriedly. But it was one of the funniest things I've ever heard!

Dancing the Political Limbo Dance

So - here we are, still waiting! Serves us right for having our Election under a retrograde Mercury, perhaps... Fascinating stuff, the first election I have ever stayed up all night for (usually I drift to sleep around 2am). Even the cat seemed to be taking an interest.

I think Nick Clegg is playing a very clever game here - I hope out of reasoned honesty, but who knows with politicians? He has been seen to Do The Right Thing and if talks with the Tories come to nothing, nobody can accuse him of not trying (although they will, obviously, this being politics). And he is now talking to Labour, so anxious supporters can't say he wouldn't talk to them... I fear despite the heightened similarities between policies, there is much UnCommon ground. Milliband scares me, and I can only imagine the tabloids if we ended up with a Prime Minister called Balls...

It is very interesting to watch the younger people I know and realise how much I am NOT an idealist these days. There is a clear online split between those who remember the LibLab pact in 1974, and those who don't. Personally I feel more anxious about the current Labour party than I do about the Tories, though I accept this may be misguided.

My concern about Cameron has ALWAYS been that I wonder if he is truly naive enough to believe that he could carry the whole party forwards. There is a reason we use the word 'conservative' to mean people who prefer the old ways, after all.

I am fascinated to see Clegg and Cameron apparently morphing into the same person (with a touch of Blair and Paul Merton thrown in on Clegg's side). If they do work together, they could superimpose the images and save on posters.

So - watch this space. Part of me wonders if at some austerely-set breakfast table, Prince Phillip is urging the Queen on: "Come on Lizzie, it's the only thing you haven't done and you may not have long left - call a ruddy Election! You know you want to!"

Time will tell.

Meanwhile, I go to see the surgeon today to hear exactly what happened when he looked inside my knee - and hopefully to find out when I will be able to go upstairs without grunting like a geriatric female tennis player serving an ace.