Well, the good news is I’m starting to feel a bit better about life. Thanks to the people who took the time to comment on my last post, and all the reading I’ve been doing over the last few days, I’ve got a better idea of how I need my life to develop. At the risk of making it all seem a bit simplistic, my lightbulb moment came and I realised that what I need to make me happier is to have more going on: cinema, pubs, restaurants, coffee or evenings with friends, voluntary work. I need to do more. I will never be content to live in this little village and make that my life. Now my little boy is growing up and starting to make his own way in areas where I have no access (school in September!) I need to think about myself more. He is and always will be my first priority, but I remember what me and my friends said amongst ourselves when our babies were very small – happy mummy, happy baby. Maybe that is even more true now than it was then.
I had a long think about some of the things which I felt need to change. Some of them are unachievable at the moment. For example I would love to live in London again, but for all sorts of practical reasons that can’t happen just yet (although hold that thought! I’ve already made it clear to my husband that I will not be old in this village with its damp and foggy winter air and one bus an hour). I would love to have more of my own furniture and books around me, but we don’t have the space in this house and most of the stuff I owned before I met my husband is now in storage. But some things I can achieve. I definitely want to be a writer and see my name in print on a regular basis. I am making great progress with the writing course and reading lots of other people’s ideas about writing and the writing life. I definitely want to be fluent in Italian. I’ve nearly completed this year’s evening class and while I haven’t made as much progress as I would have wanted, it is significant that I have seen it out to the end and have acquired more knowledge along the way. I suggested to my husband that for our holiday this year we might go to Italy, to somewhere that has a language school, so I could learn Italian for three hours each weekday morning and then spend the rest of the time with the family, hopefully practising what I learn in the morning. A few years ago I went to Sorrento for a week and learnt a great deal in a short space of time, so I know that this approach works for me.
I’ve also been thinking about the sort of person I want to be. I read this week a book by Jane Shilling. It’s essentially a memoir but written from the perspective of being 50+ and reflecting on the passage of time and what it means to grow older, especially as a woman, how perspectives and priorities change. I’m not quite there yet (!), but time moves on and in a decade or so I will be. Jane makes some very interesting observations about how our hopes and ambitions can get swallowed up just in the everyday, whether that’s working at a job you really dislike, the struggle to survive financially that so many people are currently facing, or just the general melee of raising children, or maybe even all three (and more) at the same time. Opportunities are allowed to pass. Suddenly there is a lull and you look up and wonder where all that time went and what there is to show for it. I think that’s what just happened to me. There was a lull and I was able to think for a while. There are only 20 years between age 20 and age 40, which seems obvious, but when I stop to think about it, that is such a short space of time, no wonder it flies over so quickly when we are busy trying to make a living, find a decent place to live, find a partner, raise children, find a way in life, our own niche. I’m not talking about making a huge impression on the world, just making my own life interesting and stimulating.
So in practical terms, not much has changed yet. But my perspective has shifted and I feel different as a result. I’ve bought new clothes (although some of it had to be returned). I have bought more flowers into the house; they lift my spirits when I see them in each room. I have taken out a couple of subscriptions to publications that I enjoy. I have joined LoveFilm and will be watching more films from now onwards (apart from One Day a few months ago and Girl With The Dragon Tattoo more recently, I think the last film I saw was just before the little chap was born, four and a half years ago!). I have been reading in earnest (three books in the last five weeks – I used to get through one a week when I was commuting). I have started researching the holiday in Italy. You know the old saying: if you want something doing, ask a busy person. I want to be that busy person.
Linking up again with Kate, in the pursuit of a little time for ourselves.