This time last year, I officially became unemployed. It was the day my contract ended with the school I had been working with for 16 years. We were to commence a journey of discovery, travelling to permaculture projects, to experience the unknown, to listen, to learn, to find our niche and become thought leaders for the future.
A year later, the handing back of keys to our landlord has yet to demarcate the journey.
I could allow myself to feel that we’ve not yet begun and have little to show for the first year in this chapter of our lives.
Each time that little voice creeps in, I remind myself of the transition that has occurred and can feel proud of the accomplishments of the past year. A new year marks a good occasion to celebrate them.
“I’m gonna party.” (Madonna)
My partner has given his employer notice that he is leaving at the end of the year. The vision is now being realised as plans.
I had been living in a constant state of generalised anxiety, feeling overwhelmed, constantly fatigued, never feeling on top of my game and worried I wasn’t good enough. Now, I believe I can change the world! My mind is free from what I could only describe as junk food.
Skill development has occupied much of my time:
T’ai chi enables me to start the day feeling energised. I have progressed from the 24 forms to yang style 40 forms. We run between once and three times a week and have completed a 10K challenge. We’re on our way to being fit enough for what we’re about to do.
As first destination is Spain and second Latin America, I’m now on part 5/6 of an Open University course in Spanish. I’m working hard on my weakness – committing vocabulary to memory.
We used to be reliant on quick cook meals from Tesco and Sainsbury and we used to waste a lot of food. Now 90% of our meals are made with fresh ingredients bought from local businesses. I’m a much better cook. The kitchen is more cluttered than it was – being an alchemist’s study, with its arrangement of various recycling receptacles and jars with fermenting substances to line the counters. Clutter’s fine, I’m less prideful than I was.
Not really wanting to invest too much in a home that we intend to leave, the garden has been turned into a nature reserve but does have a couple of hidden vegetable beds. We’re enjoying plenty of green leaves and herbs straight from the plant to cooking pot. I’ve learned a lot about the eating habits of slugs and eco-friendly ways of deterring their incessant chomping. It has also been a joy to observe what nature does when you leave her alone.
We don’t have any food waste. Anything edible is reused. Anything inedible is composted. Single use items have been given at least one other reuse. Water bottles became plant pots, cloches and slug deterrents. Jars were kept and reused for fermenting substances and honey collection. Bottles have a mix of herb and spiced oils. Packaging has been reused for my veritable eBay business of depossession (imagine, that word isn’t even in the dictionary, time it was). Ice-cream sticks became seedling labels (need to beeswax first, I learned). The remainder may be turned into some kind of wind catching art I have in my head. Cardboard and shredded paper are used for sheet mulch – weed killer by another name. I’ve learned to value weeds. Old school papers are good origami practice. I will fold that 1000th crane.
I knit our winter warmers and we use less energy than we did. I completed a knitwear design course and have two self-designed projects well underway. I’m hoping their originality becomes fashion worthy.
I smile and say hello to complete strangers when I go out. Sometimes I stop and talk. I’m rediscovering the art of conversation.
I wrote a letter by hand and sent it. It was one of the hardest things I’ve done. No delete button, handwriting had to be legible, I wondered how it would be received. The text is permanent. I received a reply on the inside of a cornflake box. It made my day, my week, my year.*
I’ve begun the process of building a blog for the future based on a blogging and content marketing course – it has a shop, free resources and events page. It’s an ambitious blog for an ambitious vision.
I’m working towards becoming a game changer.
I discovered how much people appreciate you giving of your time rather than things.
I’m comfortable in my own skin.
I learned I have so much to do!
But how did it come to pass, that with all this progress, we became the shameful owners of two cars and two motorbikes? I don’t even drive!
*Anyone who would like to revitalise the art of letter writing, I’ll be a willing pen-pal. You know how philosophers and literary figures shared their ideas in letters and wrote amazing books with forward thinking theories and kept each other’s minds alive? I suppose blogs are the contemporary equivalent, but I kind of like the personal touch of pen to paper, just like I like the oral history of storytelling when it was rare to be able to write.