Its been a bad morning. I shouted at my mum, her illness has stressed me. Somehow in the UK dealing with cancer is a hit and miss affair and much of it just people spouting words. They don’t really talk with you, but at you. Cliche but true. But my point is, my mums illness is not just about her. When someone in your family or a close friend becomes ill, we do our bit, duty or otherwise, but I also feel we often loose sight of ourselves too and fail to protect our interests. This is not being selfish. If and for me its happened many times, you spend too much of your time helping others, your life becomes just a little bit depleted and before you know it, a few good years have rolled past. Next week I learn more about radiology than I wish mum and I should have too.
I let some angst off my chest. I did a bit of drama…but once home from the shopping and a quiet hour to myself, I calmed down. I watched some You Tube and researched about my anger. Its normal. Yes its normal to feel anger, resentment, boredom, bitterness, and how we deal with it…loose our tempers or have a massive period of self doubt.
Renovations on hold
I have been here now three weeks and my business is on hold, my renovation on the barn is on hold, my attempts at social media, apart from this blog, are on hold. I know why I am here, and why it is important that I support my mum. I also know that this year was supposed to be a “move-on” time for us. Finally all the demons from England were behind us – debts, council tax, mortgages blah, blah – gone. This year after a slightly rough winter in the Little House, the smallness and confinement therein proving quite a strain when darkness falls at just 4pm, had been getting to our nerves. It was too cold to point the barn as frost will damage the lime and cause hair line cracks and later water ingress. The garden was very wet and any work caused mud. Still pasture, the garden had yet to be laid out with beds and pathways. Even building the chicken pen in March was mud pie time and in the process of building we destroyed much of the grass that hasn’t really recovered. Just typical, when you want it, it disappears – wish the weeds took the same hint!
We crawled through to January, using the dark evenings to read, research on homesteading, search chicken forums and I got back to some painting to try and make inroads into my illustration plans. The paintings came out ok, and Tony who didn’t know I could draw and paint – clucked enthusiastically and bolstered my confidence. Painting for me was always stressful. I wanted to be an artist but parents wanted me to do something else. Its taken me 40 years to decide that the career was wrong and its time for change. I am going to do what I want to do.
So that leads me back to now. Mums illness took me back to London in March and again now, with no return to France till mid June. That’s half way through the year. Tony has been managing the fort, clearing all the stones by the barn in reediness for the septic tank which has to be dug, putting up fencing for the chickens and geese and planting peppers and tomatoes in the veggie garden. As he says – we have to keep going, and work through this situation. A few months out of a year doesn’t seem much, but when we just cant spend another freezing and uncomfortable winter in the Little House, then to finish the bedroom by October, seems now a tall order. August and September are hot..in the mid forties and work outside is impossible. April to end June is the optimum time to make progress, with the weather still changeable and the days getting long. But I am not there. Tony has a back problem too, so banned from heavy work without me being on-site. Twice before he has been on back injections just to get moving. In other words I am not making my home.
So I am being a little tough and going back to France mid June. When someone is ill, it involves everyone and in the long term, you need to look after yourself and your family if your going to be able to help the patient recover – being when things get bad, you have the energy to return and fight the fight. As it is, I feel rung out, emotional and missing home, missing my life that hasn’t really got going yet. You can throw at me all the amazing things that I will achieve, show me what I have done so far given the money worries and health issues last year, but I do feel perspective needed. I have a lot of self doubt – projects started and unfinished, or being let down by business partners or not really being ruthless enough to protect my interests – like not walking away from bad deals, not charging enough for my work, or putting in long hours for no pay. I am great at telling everyone else what they should do, but have been a little slack in telling myself.
So this year, its time to regroup. I have made a clear plan about what to do whilst here in London and then optimise my time when I return just on the barn. In my case I have 32 floor planks to sand down and varnish and a bedroom to point. Only then can we start digging out all our stuff, moving boxes and getting some space and order. Our life is an explosion of belongings and we have given up trying to find anything. We have spent a year living in the same clothes, the same boots, with little seasonal change. Its hot and I am still in jumpers because the summer clothes are no-where to be found!
But here now, I must keep my mind active. I just have to get on with what can do, not beat myself up about what I cant do. I must also not be lazy. For example I need to work on my Twitter social media. My blog feeds into this but that’s just a bit lazy. So instead of thinking about it, and moaning about it, I have set tomorrow, bank holiday to work on reconnecting and clearing out what is clogging up my feed. My life has changed and what I follow has changed, so best have a spring clean.
Making a home
The one thing I have learned is that having house, but not living in it – thats cooking out of your comfort zone, crafting and sewing instead of buying, listening to diverse music, exercising sensibly – no races here or feeling the burn, growing food slowly and naturally, growing flowers to cut for the home for colour and fragrance, reading mind stretching books, walking and connecting to where you live, having pets, socializing, leaving magazines on the floor, throwing the dishwasher out because honestly its healthier and quicker to wash by hand, not tidying up everyday when your busy because you have just wasted ten minutes of your precious life arranging that pot again, eating a balanced diet so you don’t have to kill yourself and your joints down the gym and its cheaper too, having a hobby or pastime that makes you happy and makes your partner happy also, not reading trashy tabloid newspapers or any rubbish political stuff for that matter as they don’t care about you anyway; will be death, death to your one and only life.
Your house must have a soul, when you walk through the door the character of the owner should be smelt, seen, be tangible. You should feel at home, welcome. Kick your shoes off if you want, not because the carpet is shrine. As the old song says – a house is not a home if your life in it is purely existence. For my mum her home has lost a little of its magic. But I remind her that perhaps she lived too much for the house, and not enough for herself within. The home is very much the impression left by the owner. It should be able to nurture and look after you in down times, be your haven and retreat. If its just a burden, then you are seriously loosing days of your life.
I spent too many years living in the confines of houses that ruled because they cost too much, or the person I lived with was just too paranoid about habit, the because we have always done it like this attitude. The change a few of my friends needed to do was to get out, to sell, to be mercenary about ownership. Tony and I ran away. Literally jumped in the van and ran. England is impossible to live in without money, lots of money. Buying a new car or new sofa or a new larger TV screen is not living, its a short-term satisfaction in an ever increasingly stressful life of earning and worrying about old age. There has to be more than that. I missed my flats potential. I didn’t miss the debts.
For some people running of the live in the country would be awful. The convenience and materialism of suburban life ticks all their boxes, but honestly I have to say from experience, its only surface and way down there is unhappiness. Doing something about it is another matter and takes a mental reprogramming and risks. Empathy and emotional intelligence I have learned are touch papers to make changes in your life and allowing others to make changes in theirs too. Its not a one sided – me only issue. But starting with yourself is as any good place to start. Giving others the chance to change too is priceless.
Self doubt can be moved aside by just doing. Doing something towards a goal. Done, move on. Do it again tomorrow. In time it becomes normal and you realize you are doing what you planned all long. Like writing this. I know its not my usual chat, but I had to go ahead and write. I self doubt that you will dislike it, but maybe you wont, maybe it will resonate with you. Recently another blogger stopped blogging. A shame, her wit and observations were fun and refreshing. She had doubts. I hope she finds a way to work through and we might get a resurrection.
Maybe when reading this you have decided I am a stuck up preacher who should stick to writing about chickens. I probably should, but as said, I want my life to move on. I don’t want to have a rosie online persona and feel I cant always let the angst out. I have made a commitment to homestead, to have a better quality of life not being reliant on consumerism and brands, on supermarkets, on power companies, on contracts that will devour your income. I know my angst comes from being back in the UK. Its temporary and due to circumstances. Its why I left.
Blogs are cathartic and sometimes risky soul baring moments. But the thoughts are out and I wont leave this in Draft. I am now going to make a turkey curry shepherds pie, listen to my charity find CDs- great fun as you never know what your going to get, put in an hour of yoga because the osteopath gave me a huge lecture on stomach muscle failings and maybe later take a walk – down a road I haven’t taken before. And my little goslings are getting vocal and one of my chickens is poorly. An impacted crop from being over excited with some long grass. She is now snuggled up in her own patch, with water, yogurt and grit to get her digestive system working. I worry, but they are in good hands. I know in the end, myself will be in good hands. I have just got to keep going forward or as one of my old clients often tells me – KOKO – Keep On Keeping On.