On Being Brave and Making Changes.
I know I won’t be the first to say it, but I always feel that autumn is a time to put one’s house in order. I love the spring and summer, but to me they are more about outdoor activity and industriousness. Perhaps it’s because we British have always had a ‘better make the most of it’ attitude to good weather, but I feel a certain amount of guilt being indoors when I know I should be out making the most of the light and sunshine.
Autumn and winter therefore bring a quiet enjoyment all of their own, when I can look forward to long evenings, and a as writer being ‘stuck inside’ on a vile weather day can be a positive godsend (don’t tell anyone I said this though!). I love the thought making plans in lamp lit rooms, bringing order and restoration to the year before the new one begins.
This year has been particularly challenging for me. I started the year determined to finish my book and finally do something with it, and this is exactly what I have done, but at times it has seemed that the universe really didn’t want me to. The fact that I have, albeit, not necessarily in the way that I would have planned has taught me a valuable lesson. It has made me realise just how long I have waited for this, and how finally I am no longer prepared to let things stand in my way. If they are in my way I must move them, and actually what I realised is that mostly the things that were in my way were my perceptions of what was important, and a rather blinkered belief that there was little I could change. This year I have learnt to let go.
I realise this may sound a little harsh, so let me explain… Like a lot of people I work full time. My job as a Finance Manager for three (soon to be 4) schools in a multi academy trust, is demanding, stressful, and increasingly all consuming. I also have another job, working as a bookkeeper for a friend’s husband, which I fit around being a mum to three children, a wife and keeping an eye on my 92 year old mother in law who lives with us. And then I try to write …
Please don’t think I’m looking for sympathy, I do no more than a lot of people, plus I love my husband hugely, my kids are great (most of the time) and I enjoy my job. It’s just that I think my perception of duty, responsibility and loyalty has become so skewed that I have been guilty of attaching far more to these things than I should have. Oh, and guilt, don’t get me started on that ….
Somewhere along the line I have convinced myself that trying to change any of the equations in my life meant letting someone down. I couldn’t give up my part time job because it would leave people in the lurch, similarly I had to take on more responsibility and promotion at work because otherwise I would be letting down my boss and denying my family better financial stability. I couldn’t write as much as I wanted to because I would neglecting my husband and children … etc etc etc, I can keep that lot going for days.
I think the epiphany came when I realised I had actually written and published a book that people liked, and that more than anything I wanted to write another. I have unlocked something within myself that I have been denying for years, and right now I really can’t imagine not being able to write. I have unleashed the monster and having done so had better find a way to control it. Besides which it’s my monster, and I LOVE IT! So I held up my hand, and said thanks, but no thanks.
I have spoken to my boss several times over the last couple of months and have helped us both I think to understand that the workload I had was not sustainable, and although I hold a senior position I have no desire now to be the most senior. I no longer want to be emailing people at nine o’clock at night, or attending meetings after dark. There is a need for such a person in our organisation, but this is not me, and I can still do an excellent job a little lower down the food chain. To cut a long story short, the end result will be a reduction in my working hours plus I will get back my school holidays; hopefully this will come into effect after Christmas. I have also, as of Friday, given up my second job, something which in the end was easier than I ever could have imagined.
The sense of relief I feel is huge, I will now have a day a week to write (at least), and I feel I can finally be the person I should be, instead of the one I was telling myself I had to be. My husband and family are right behind me, and far from feeling selfish (as I thought I would) I actually feel I’m ready to give back much more than I ever could before.
And do you know what, it’s bloody EXCITING!*
* rushes off to buy a new notebook