I suppose I shouldn’t start with the conclusion; but if your conclusion is also your beginning then maybe its the perfect place to start.
I arrived back from Spain yesterday. There’d been pretty much a veto on getting leave through the normal holiday times, so more by luck than judgement I’d ended up with a three week block off in September. A perfect chance to escape from normal life, just me and the dog, and head off to Spain. I decided that as well as an opportunity to catch up with people I hadn’t seen in a long time (far too long a time!) it was also a chance to step back and review my life and where it was going. I knew I had some decisions to make; decisions I’d been ignoring or putting off either deliberately or just because it was easier to get caught up on a tide and go along with it without really thinking. I knew I had to do something about this because I had that uncomfortable feeling that I get when I know deep down I’m not being true to me. That unease that feels like I’m watching myself from somewhere high up and want to shout at myself but instead I just carry on watching.
I’d just sorted some stuff out at work that had been causing me a lot of ‘aaarrgh’ (I really can’t think of a better word to describe it) and I’d put that to rest and made my peace. However, I needed to work out where I go next and what I really want. I also still have the spectre of marriage/divorce to sort out … i.e., I’m still married and I really shouldn’t be! I’d started picking back up some bad habits from a previous lifetime and I really wasn’t sure why. To top it all off – what to do with La Panaderia, my Spanish escape place but also the money pit. So all in all, not the usual relaxing break. Throw into that 2,500 miles of driving there and back and I was setting myself up for one helluva journey – physically and emotionally.
Now I’m back. I’ve thought a lot; I’ve tidied up a lot – both physically and emotionally; I’ve laughed a lot; cried a bit; I’ve caught up with people I love and reflected on the values that I hold.
That’s what it comes back to, the values I hold and how I want to live my life. I’ve sort of mentioned it before, I think, but I want a simple life. I don’t want a big house or a fancy car or expensive clothes. I want to be with people I love, doing things I enjoy. I want to invest in the things that reward me. That’s not just about financial investment, its about investment of time; emotion; thoughts; caring. Investment of me. Don’t get me wrong, the financial investment is a big one, try running two mortgages and you soon realise how much the simple life has to be lead as there isn’t the cash for anything else!! But in this hectic world, its the investment of time and emotion that often have the highest cost and the lowest reward.
I also realised I had to stop judging myself through the imagined eyes of others. Why am I not going for promotion when I’ve got the exam? Why am I not in a relationship after a couple of years of being single? Why am I not living a more exciting life and travelling more or going out more or staying in more or joining this club or doing this exercise or …. well you get the picture. I’m not even sure that anyone is asking those questions. I very much doubt they are because people generally are quite rightly caught up in their own lives and have no time to think about or judge other people’s lives. Even if they are – who cares? I’ve realised that just because people appear to have it all and that all is wonderful, that veneer is often very thin. As though 60 Minute Makeover came in and slapped some paint over it all and installed a 72″ tv, but as soon as they go, the wallpaper is going to fall off and the tv will fuse the whole house.
So where next? Investing in the things that reward me. I realise that I’m lucky to do a job that pays me very well. Its also a job that I have allowed to cause me a great deal of stress and distress in the past. Possibly because I’ve invested too much of my heart into it. So from now on, my investment will match the reward. The reward is financial and therefore I will do what I need to do to justify that reward. The other reward I get is working with some lovely people (don’t get me wrong, there are also some complete arseholes, but I can just deal with them in a professional manner and invest only the time that is absolutely required and no more. I certainly won’t invest them with time in worrying about what they think or what they are doing or what their next plans might be!). So to the lovely people, I will invest the care and time that I hope I always have. But I won’t take the stress home with me and I will treat it only as a job and not a life. If that means looking for promotion, then I’ll consider it, provided it still fits in with my values. But it won’t be something I abandon important things to get, things like my values, my sanity and my life.
La Panaderia? Ah, such a difficult one. I love that house. Its taken time, money, love, inspiration, dreams to make it what it is. To take it from a wreck to a beautiful house. So much investment. But where is the reward? I love to go there; I love that friends can visit and enjoy the place. But it also holds sad memories and holds me to a life I should have left behind me totally by now.
So, I’ve said my goodbyes.
With every box emptied and floor swept, I bid the house goodbye. That’s all it is, bricks and mortar (or bricks and yeso, to be accurate). Someone else will turn it into their dream. This will let me cut ties that need cutting – and, importantly, free up cash each month that I can start investing in a new dream. What that dream will be, I’m not totally sure yet, but that’s the good thing about dreams, they can appear when you least expect and they can change each time you open your mind.
The other parts: I’ve reflected on paths I was starting to follow and decided to turn back around and take different ones. Different paths that will give rewards I deserve, not shiny baubles that might be fun for a little while but have no substance. Like the Turkish Delight in Lion, Witch & Wardrobe – wonderful to indulge in, but at what cost?
All of this I could probably have worked out sitting at home. But its the other things you realise on the physical journey that are important. Like realising I could do it on my own and that it really wasn’t that big a deal. Realising that on the bits that I really could have done with someone else there, I managed and that actually even in a couple I wouldn’t have necessarily been any better off! Don’t get me wrong, it would have been lovely to share parts of the trip with someone, but it didn’t spoil the trip being on my own. Realising that even the scary bits (like being completely lost and screaming at a satnav that didn’t understand I couldn’t drive through a statue; like sleeping in a service station car park curled up next to a dog that either barked or snored with equal loudness) I could cope with a find a way through. Hell, give it a couple of days and I’ll have turned those into amusing anecdotes!
Now I’m back and my conclusion is now my new start.
In the short term there’s going to need to be investment in sorting out a lot of things that aren’t all within my control; but only if I start putting that investment in, will things move forward. Like starting up a small business, its only by putting the work in early on that you get the rewards later. So my life is a my small business for now. A lot of work, a lot of time and effort and energy needed – but the rewards at the end of it will be worth it because from now on I’m only investing in the things that reward me.