Landing on my feet…

I’m a great believer that we get what we want – what we aim for or ‘ask’ for – in life. However quite often the things you want to happen don’t happen quite the way you expect.  But then I’ve always known it was never any good planning life in too much detail.  All you can do is be brave, follow your heart, and take some steps on the path you want to follow.  Sometimes you don’t even realise that you’re taking those steps.

I walked out of the office last week.  It wasn’t so much that I hadn’t done anything wrong – I had – but the offence was relatively minor (and highlighted certain security weaknesses) and what especially annoyed me was the way I was spoken to.  There have now been three recent occasions when I haven’t liked someone’s tone so I’ve been quite blunt about what I think – which is unusual for me as I always think I don’t like confrontation.  However I have stuck up for myself and tend to think ‘good for me’ – I’m not going to be put down by other people.

The thing is, I had breached IT policy by looking at (my home) gmail on the office laptop, and it had introduced a virus – so I was completely in the wrong.  But the worst thing about it is that I have put my long-suffering boss in an awkward position.  First he has to find someone at short notice to cover for me while I’m off with stress/depression at the end of last year; then he re-arranges his own diary so I don’t have to work so many days in Whitehaven; and then on top of it all I go and upset the apple cart like this.

So today I was working at ‘head office’, a pleasant and short car journey from home along winding country roads.  When I arrived my boss told me that I was basically persona non grata in Whitehaven and that they won’t let me ever, ever, ever back on the network.  However he didn’t sack me on the spot but has plenty of work for other clients.  He seemed concerned that he can’t guarantee that into the future, but in fact I’ll take that risk – and we also agreed that I could go on to a zero hours contract.

So in one fell swoop something which could have resulted in my being in the queue at the job centre has instead provided me with different work, in a pleasant environment, the flexibility to work more or less when I want to and at the times of day I want to (if I want to work from 12 noon until 12 midnight I can, if I don’t have meetings: the freelance lifestyle I’ve always wanted), and also confirmation that my ‘insanity’ in November was indeed down in part to Whitehaven, and it’s not just my being completely loony.  I also have a kind, supportive boss of the same type I had when I worked for Ian Jarvis at British Waterways (one of the best bosses I have ever had): he doesn’t make me feel that I’m a silly, overemotional angst-ridden fool but seems to value my work (even if it is because surveyors are hard to come by in Cumbria – on the other hand some people are too much trouble to keep however highly qualified they are).

I drove home along lovely country lanes tonight (in the dark!) and tears of gratitude and relief suddenly rolled down my cheeks.  Thank You, God!



A song in my heart

My 10-year old daughter today accused me of having gone weird, because I have got a tattoo and (occasionally) listen to rock music.  Her older brother, on the rare occasion when they are not fighting, would, I know, agree with her.

Parents are so embarrassing to their children… but children are so amazingly conservative, if not judgmental!  It made me think though, and in fact Bella and I both came to the conclusion that we were going to be ‘naughty nannies’ and lead our grandchildren astray.  She did however quite seriously tell me that if I was going to take her children swimming with sharks, then she was coming too – to keep an eye on things.  If I was just going to take them swimming at a pool she would trust me to do so…

Edward on the other hand said ‘I’m not going to have children.  I’m going to be a rock star and rock stars don’t have children’.  This then resulted in a conversation about how many children Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden, for those of you who don’t know) has and how old they are.  Bella and I reassured Edward that rock stars do have children.

I did say that perhaps I was never really very good at being a wife.  I later came across some photos – I was looking for the CD to make my printer work, as the wonderful teenager across the road (I am NOT being sarcastic) has just wiped my computer clean and reinstated it – including my files – as some website or other the children had been playing games on had infected my computer with a virus.  I am dead impressed that Joshua not only found out about the virus but was also able to tell me how it got there – as well as cleaning my computer up so it works again.  However, the printer doesn’t yet work so I was looking for the installation CD.  Instead I found a CD which had the photos that were taken of the children, David and me when we had our photo shoot at Talkin Tarn for Woman & Home magazine.  I was trying to remember when it was: the children all look a lot younger, but the rather sad thing is that David and I look happy.  I don’t think we were.  I think we were both repressing a lot of feelings and drifting along, living parallel lives, without perhaps being conscious – at that stage – of how much we had drifted apart.  It was rather sad as there are some lovely photos there (I’m not going to upload any, partly because of copyright reasons but also because they don’t, I think, depict a true story – sadly.  I look like a loving wife and actually I probably wasn’t, but was just enjoying being photographed).

However I didn’t intend to ramble on about the children.  Instead I wanted to write about the weather, which has finally got as cold as it should be at this time of year, and which has made me see some attractive aspects to Whitehaven (stunned silence…).

I’m aware that I need to get into the outdoors for my own mental health (that sounds drastic, but it’s true).  I often write about running up on the Ridge, or on Talkin Fell, where I can look into the distance and at the sky – as well as feeling ‘up high’/on top of the world – which makes me feel a sense of freedom, even of my soul flying (sorry if that sounds corny but I don’t know how else to express it).

I realised I needed to be able to obtain that same sense in Whitehaven.  I often walk down to look at the harbour, but the inner harbour isn’t enough.  It’s not the open sea; it’s full of boats; there’s no sense of wildness or freedom but rather of restraint.  So I’ve started walking right down to where the harbour meets the sea: the coldness is refreshing and the swishing of the water and chirruping of the seabirds makes me feel at one with nature, as I do on the Ridge or on Talkin Fell, rather than trapped in an office which is too warm and where everything can feel a bit stifling; and I can look out into the distance and feel that sense of freedom.  I came to the conclusion that next time it’s stormy I’m going to make sure I’m appropriately dressed and brave the elements – I want to stand on the breakwater or whatever it’s called and feel the rain on my face and the wind in my hair.

Whitehaven in January (1)

Whitehaven in January (2)

I also thought perhaps I should try to fit in a coastal run at lunchtime at least one day a week.  It’s a pity I didn’t get a photograph from the top of the hill over the harbour and across to the snow-covered Isle of Man previously – the day I took these photos the Island was invisible.

I felt joy as I looked at the sea; and happy when I left work at 4pm to drive home in time to fetch the children, that it was still light.  The scenery driving to work had also been uplifting: the snow-covered hills had shone purpley-pink in the morning light, and the sun had caught some of the trees and set them alight with an orangey-red glow.

But the real song in my heart came today.  The brief moment of joy whilst looking at the sea had been short-lived (well, I only had a short time and had to go back to the office!) and I hadn’t felt my heart singing in quite the way it used to.  But today, despite having felt a tiny bit sad as I woke up in the morning, something made me sing inside as I drove into Carlisle and, later, back again.  I sing and love plenty of sad songs and music – I seem to be more attracted to sad music than I do to bright, bouncy, happy music, on the whole; I find the yearning and heartache of some music more beautiful and spell-binding than something bright and perhaps a bit twee.  But as I drove home from Carlisle today I sang along to Mozart’s Alleluia from the Exsultate Jubilate at the top of my voice: and decided that the programme for ‘Midsummer Music‘ in June will be a programme of happy music, to celebrate life.  With plenty of high notes for me!