Monday, 14 April 2014

Feeling Reflective

I’ve been trying to decide exactly what to do today and in what order. I wanted to write my last blog post about Transylvania while I had some peace and quiet, but I couldn't concentrate, and I didn't know why I couldn't. Then it occurred to me that after today, everything in my life will be a bit different.

I’ve grown to really enjoy life recently. For the whole of last year there was a lot of uncertainty, I was trying to get over a lot of disappointment and ruined plans, financial difficulties and health issues. My job worked out very differently to how I’d imagined, leaving me with a deep sense of dissatisfaction and worthlessness. The money side of things meant that while we still went on our trip of a lifetime to South America, we had to do it differently to how we’d originally imagined it, and I have to live with the guilty feelings of not having contributed so much to the trip. Getting home again afterwards I had various ideas of how I would improve things and prepare for the next chapter, but getting whiplash changed all that as my fitness plans became impossible, and I had to turn down the temporary job that I had wanted to help out with money. Getting the necessary support for my return to practice program (to renew my physiotherapy qualification) has taken much longer than I anticipated, and I had to deal with a lot of rejection before securing an offer of support.

Gradually though I managed to stop letting things bother me so much. I refocused on enjoying the countryside in a more leisurely way, in doing voluntary work in something I enjoyed rather than getting too caught up about earning money (I know that it’s a bit of a luxury these days to be able to live off one person’s income, and I do appreciate that I was lucky to be able to do this). To save money, I didn’t go out in the car much, and didn’t go out for food or coffee. I ate cheaply, and threw myself into crocheting and blogging, relishing the sense of achievement these things gave me. 

I’ve grown to quite enjoy my life – I feel as though I’ve been doing this for ages now, but when I stop to think I realise it has only been like this for a month or two! 

And now everything will change. At first it will be vaguely similar, but then in a few weeks it will be very different, and a few months after that it will be completely different…

Some things will be small differences: for example, I have finished rippling on the Mumbles! They did want it without a border, so if that hasn’t changed then there’s only the job of finishing off the ends before it’s complete! It has been such a major focus for me over the past couple of months, and I feel as though I will miss the sense of purpose it gave me.

Mumbles Ripple - all those ends to sew in!

Some things will have a bigger impact: for instance, my husband will now be around all the time… He was away with work for most of 2013, then ever since we got back from South America at the start of February this year, he has been at work all week and we’ve only been together on weekends. This sounds quite a bad situation, but I’ve got used to it and I actually sort of enjoy it now! Ever since we got together we have had a long distance relationship, and while I hated it at first and found it really hard, I now really value the time I get to myself and the independence I have to get on with things I enjoy. I’ve kind of reached the stage now where it seems like he’s in the way when he’s home and I can’t get on with my projects without interruption!

Some things will have a still bigger impact. The reason my husband is home for the next few weeks is that his contract at work will end soon, so he is using up his annual leave plus his ‘termination leave’ before the final day of his contract. (The termination leave is a standard entitlement with this contract – I got it at the end of my contract back in October too – he hasn’t been sacked or anything!) The house we currently rent is part of the deal with his current contract, so we’ll have to move out when his contract ends in a few weeks’ time. We’ll need to spend the next couple of weeks going through all of our possessions so we can pack. It’s going to be a complicated house move: we’re not moving in to a new home of our own (we’re moving in with his parents temporarily before the BIG move to Australia) so we can’t take everything with us. We therefore need to rent a storage unit, and figure out what does need to come with us and what can go into storage. We also need to sort out what cannot come to Australia with us, what can come but needs to be cleaned/fumigated/irradiated beforehand etc etc… For the stuff that we won’t be keeping, we need to work out what is going to be given to other people, what will go on Ebay, and what we might put into a car boot sale. Anything leftover can go to charity shops. It’s going to be a big old job!

So after this first move, I will be living with my in-laws. They are very lovely people, but it’s a long time since I lived under someone else’s roof, and I am nervous about how it will feel to have to fit into someone else’s life and home (of course I’m sure they must have similar reservations about having people move in!). After the move, my husband will go back to work in the same place, but under different terms – so we will be back to living apart again, except that I won’t be alone. In the summer I will also start my ‘return to practice’ work, which should allow me to renew my qualification as a physiotherapist, so another big change of lifestyle!

And all of this is before we make the life changing move to the other side of the world…

Artwork by Michael Tompsett

One thing that I hope will remain constant to a degree is my voluntary work. I have been working with my local Wildlife Trust as part of a practical work party, doing lots of habitat management work (or just taking photos of others working while my neck has been injured!) As there are Wildlife Trusts across the country, then I should be able to find another work party to join after we move. I’ve enjoyed the voluntary work so much that I’m seriously considering trying to make a career in that area. Although I want to renew my existing qualification, and it will be great to have a reliable fall-back option, part of me does really love the idea of pursuing a career in countryside management and finally having a job that I actually like…

Working at College Lake Nature Reserve

Other positives to this upheaval are things like spending woolly time with my mother-in-law. Hopefully I can be useful around the place helping out with sheep and donkey related tasks, helping with her business and so on, and also I can learn more about fibres, knitting, spinning, felting, dyeing etc etc – all the things at which my mother-in-law is something of an expert. I am hoping that I will pick up lots more learning from her!

Spinning fleece after washing and flick carding

Once the business of the actual moving is out of the way, I’m also planning to head home to Pembrokeshire, Wales, for a bit. I had hoped to go much sooner, but things like my whiplash preventing me from driving, and having to stay in for workmen to come to the house have all gotten in the way. Once we’ve moved then none of these things will be hanging over us, and I will be able to get away. I’m hoping to get home in time to see the wonderful puffins that visit us at this time of year, and I would really like to walk a good chunk of the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path. I don’t think I’ll have time to walk the whole thing, which would be my ideal, but something is better than nothing!

But today, today is my last (partial) day of life as I currently know it. A painter was here earlier, a plumber will be coming later, and then my husband will get home too. But for now I am alone with my laptop and my crochet, day dreaming of the things I will do in Pembrokeshire when I get there, and trying not to think of all of the hard work that needs doing before I can get there…

I went through a lot of pain before I reached this sort of peace that I have with life at the moment, and a large part of me is very sad to say goodbye to it after such a short time, so I feel grateful that I am able to reflect and find so many positives amongst the recent difficulties, and I want to really make the most of these last hours before the next part of the adventure begins!


  1. Well done on finishing the Mumbles Ripple....the colours are lovely. Fab job xx

    I can sense your anxiety as you anticipate the inevitable changes that are both welcome and intrusive all at the same time. Your little word art at the beginning sums it all up nicely I think. Life is never still, we think it is, but subtly and surely it moves us on and into new times and situations, even when we don't orchestrate that for ourselves. In your case this move is something you're aware of [which is a bonus I suppose] but it's a bit like having a tattoo I really want the result and look forward to the 'after' but the nervous anticipation of the inking and discomfort enroute is not that welcome.....but necessary.

    I hope this time goes smoothly for are in my thoughts. I am rubbish at change, a real girl of routine and familiarity, so I feel your pain. My prayers go with you each day.

    Sharon xx

  2. Thank you for the understanding! I mostly love that I can be flexible and don't have too much routine to stick to, but every now and then I just come over feeling so unsettled and unsure about everything - almost to the point of panic! I feel much better today though - that might well change once get into the swing of packing though!! haha Good analogy with the tattooing by the way, anxiety, discomfort/pain, then healing (settling) and happiness afterwards :)

    Plus, at least the stress this time is all towards what should be something good, so as long as I can stay calm it will all be worth it! (I'm not sure why I was surprised to be stressed actually - we're preparing for not 1 but 2 house moves, one of which involves living with in-laws and the other one involves moving to the other side of the world! It's good to get perspective and realise I'm probably responding in a pretty normal way...)

    I hope all is ok with you - I know you guys all have your own stressful stuff (I don't want put the detail here because that is your stuff to tell, not mine) and I hope you are finding the comfort and strength you need to manage everything too