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Saturday, 9 May 2009

Out with the old, and in with the new

When I arrived home from work this afternoon shortly after 2pm, I found a note on the doormat from my partner (with a bar of chocolate - he must love me!) to the effect that he had gone to the viewpoint just up the road (we live one mile from one of the National Trust's largest estates) for a cup of tea and some reading. So, I quickly changed out of my uniform, refilled my water bottle, and jumped back in the car to join him.

After I had finished my tea we were sitting together in my car listening to the birds and the sound of the wind, when who should walk by but our friend and spiritual teacher Marion. Marion was and is one of the leading Journey (a technique pioneered by Brandon Bays) practitioners in the UK and does some immensely valuable and worthwhile work. She came and set on the edge of the drivers seat of my car and we had an interesting chat for half an hour.

She observed that having recently been divorced, for some months she has been simplifying her life and as she put it, "cutting out the dead wood". What she had to say struck a chord with me, and it occurred to me that I have been doing much the same thing.

There comes a point in most people's lives where they can no longer pretend to be someone or something that they are not, and have to be authentically themselves, naked in some ways to the world, devoid of barriers and pretence. This is the point where I am at, which in some ways has been forced upon me by the events that happened at my last job, and my subsequent application to go on Lundy. You could say in some ways, that I experienced a mid-life crisis.

It sometimes feels that my whole life has lurched from crisis to crisis, but when I think about it, really think about, I have overcome an awful lot in my soon to be 44 years - years of school bullying, the death of both parents, a sister who suffers from schizophrenia, countless redundancies and losses of job, rejection by publishers, I could go and on if I wanted to, and wanted to make you depressed. I choose not to get depressed about it all though, but rather, see all of this as challenges and a mark of just how strong a person I am, and what I have achieved and overcome.

Downsizing seems at the moment to be word on everyone's lips, but is something that my partner and I began several years ago when we moved into our current home shortly before Christmas 2006. Prior to that we had lived in a 2 up, 2 down terraced house in a suburb of
south-west London, near the Surrey border. The house was situated two minutes from a busy main road and 5 minutes from a notorious council estate, where Pizza delivery drivers refused to make deliveries due to muggings and other crimes. Contrast this with our new home, which is a park (mobile) home in one of the most sought after villages in Surrey, halfway between London and Brighton, and surrounded by one of the National Trust's largest estates. We used to think that such properties were draughty old caravans, but they are in fact luxury detached bungalows with all mod cons. Now I have experienced this way of living, I would be loathe to go back to bricks and mortar.

Part and parcel of this for many has also been changing their career aspirations. I never had that many to begin with - all I wanted was a job that fulfilled me, and paid the bills. I have had some of these "career" jobs in the past, and trust me, they are not what they are cracked up to be. These days I consider myself to be a "portfolio person" with my hands in many pies - my bread and butter job is as a housekeeper in a nursing home, which is a real gift, to be able to talk to the old folk and brighten their days. In addition to this, there are also my book royalties, occasional exam invigilating work (the exam season starts next week, so I shall be busy for a while) and market research. It might not be the best paid type of work, but I am happier than I have been in a long, long while, and it is all thanks to my ex employer - for if they had not conspired (with my consent) to get me to leave, then this would not have been possible. This finally, is my time.

Part of the simplification and downsizing for me as with Marion, has been cutting down on the number of emails I receive by gradually unsubscribing from those that are no longer of interest, but also removing the advertising and affiliate links from this, other blogs and my personal website. I need to keep one or two on the ordering page of my website of course, but have restricted this to a handful of companies that I know and trust.

The same is also happening with the people in my life - I find that those who are no longer on my wavelength, or whose ideals are not compatible with my own, are leaving me (this is one of the strongest reasons why I had to leave that old job!). In return, new people are coming into my life to fill that gap, neighbours, friends, and yes, the old folk that I now work with.

I can recommend downsizing to anyone who is looking for a change, and to simplify their own lives - the trick is not to force the change, but to recognise when you are ready for it to happen - you will know when this is the case, for the things that I have described will also start to happen to you. If and when they do, do not be fearful of what you may be losing, but welcome the new with open arms.

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