For the longest time, I thought “home” was a place. Where you live, the house or flat or other dwelling that you return to.
During the days before my beloved Dad passed away, in a tiny hospital room in the acute cardiac unit, I realised that I was wrong.
Home is not just a place, it’s the people you love.
So that little room was home in the truest sense, Dad and Mum and I all together, helping each other through that most final of partings. I’ve never been anywhere more filled with love.
And home is, of course, not just your parents, children or partner.
It’s where you feel you belong. Whether that’s with a group of friends, or in a particular place, or a mixture of the two…
I’m amazingly lucky to have lots of people who feel like home, and several places too (not least my actual house).
Last weekend, I was with my best friends from uni, in a cottage on a lake in the Cotswolds. We went boating on the lake, and I was home, both with them and on the water.
And I’m now much more aware of people, rather than just places, being home.
I also spotted lots of things Dad would love, which I’ve added to my Instagram hashtag… #thingsthatwouldmakedadsmile
Where is home for you? Who are the people who make you feel at home?
Excitingly and a little unexpectedly, I think it’s now safe to announce I’m nearing the end of the process of buying my house! SQUEEEEE! I’m delighted not to be moving, and I love this house and the life I’ve built around it, so I’m very happy to be staying.
More on what promises to be the biggest and best creative project of my life so far when all the legalities are completed and it’s actually mine 🙂
However, this decision indirectly ended up leading to one of the best holidays I’ve had in ages – my staycation! A word introduced to me by an American friend of mine, it describes the time-off-work-but-not-going-away type of holiday rather nicely, I think.
I’d booked the week off thinking I’d head up to the Lake District for a photography holiday, or possibly across to France for a jewellery making holiday (both high on my wishlist at the moment!). But with the hottest week of the year predicted and house completion looming, instead I stayed at home, saw friends, pottered in my garden and started packing boxes up ready for renovating the downstairs part of the house – and I had a wonderful time!
As any of you who have emailed me recently will know, I’ve barely been near my computer all week – and oh, how wonderful that’s been.
Spending time in my business – making the flurry of custom bracelet orders, packing delights from the shop up for people all over the world, reviewing the first draft of Unfurling Your Wings ready for the beta round in August.
Spending time on my business – sorting out my filofax, arranging a day to go through my accounts with my VA, rejigging my plans and goals and directions, and brainstorming new things with wonderful likeminded solopreneurs. And trying and failing (again) to implement an editorial calendar. I really do prefer writing and posting when the mood takes me 🙂
Spending time in my life (which I am trying to do far more often) – having breakfast in the garden (and eating cake for breakfast), drinking Prosecco in a secret garden in London, a burlesque workshop and a festival, playing with costumes, reading three books in a day before I consent to getting out of bed, cups of tea and putting the world to rights with my Gran… all of the things I love but so rarely seem to have time for in my life lately.
And spending time on my life – reviewing my dreams, directions, goals, and working out how best to move in those directions. Writing, photographing, musing and walking. Playing with my Wild Unknown deck, musing over the meanings of the cards I’ve drawn. And, because I’m the list queen, making checklists so I actually do the things that are important to me each day, week and month.
The biggest and most concrete realisation of this pottering, journalling, meditating and generally giving myself room to breathe has been that I want to keep this day job as part of my portfolio for much longer than I had initially planned. Yes, I was surprised too.
The grand plan was to do two years and then shift gracefully into working for myself full time.
And then I adopted my beloved kittens, bought a house and maybe most significantly, made real friends through work. And now I find I’m reluctant to leave the place where I see those people each day, where the work is varied and interesting and I have lots of autonomy and flexibility, while still being able to switch off when I leave the office.
Though I still hate the concept of the 9-5 and the insistence of organisations that employees be in a specific place at specific times, rather than assigning work and letting us get on with it whenever and wherever is best for us, I think I’d be very sad to leave this particular day job (or at least, the people in it) behind just yet.
Longer term I definitely still want total control over where and when I work – yet I’m reluctant to plan more specifically than a general direction to move in, because who knows where I will be and what I’ll be doing in a year’s time, never mind in five or ten years?!
So the biggest result of my staycation (brain-cation?!) is that now my short and mid-term plans involve growing my businesses in a slightly different way, so they’re entirely flexible, and then when I reach the point where it’s financially possible, I can shift the balance.
Part time instead of full time at the day job, and at least half of my time spent on my own ventures and projects. I can see the balance I want very clearly…
Likeminded people, and a beautiful campus, and a flexible but challenging job. Structure, and an office to go into when I need or want to, and watercooler moments with lovely colleagues.
A thriving business which helps women step into their own power and live the lives they’ve dreamed of. Another thriving business which connects stationery lovers and their longing for a simpler, slower, more organised life (and just happens to supply beautiful stationery as well).
And plenty of time for new projects and classes, for making and experimenting and reading and learning new skills. For spending with my friends and family. For entertaining in the house and garden of my dreams, and for relaxing there in my own personal sanctuary. For movement to be built into my life and for stillness and quiet to be as present as noise and being busy.
Not at all what I expected or planned when I quit London for a portfolio career – but intriguingly, it feels exactly right for where I am and what I want right now.
With love and unicorns,
Back online after a 48 hour technology detox, and what a way to write my first post!
Hah, I’ve always wanted to blog from the poolside, but Dad left Abu Dhabi the year before I started my first blog, and until now I’ve usually had clunky laptops with zero battery life so it’s not really been possible.
The pool is rippled because April-May is shamaal (desert wind) season over here. Which is actually rather nice, because it means we can lie in the sun for far longer than normal as the breeze makes it not just bearable, but pleasant to sit in 35-40 degree heat in between dips in the pool.
I’ll write more about the trip when I’m home and have been through the insane number of photos I’ve taken, but it is amazing to be back in the Gulf. And especially as an adult, when I can appreciate the scale of the building work, the luxury of the hotels and the complete insanity of the driving. Taxis all the way – I have no desire to take my life in my hands by trying to drive here.
Though I have been working a bit while I’ve been out here, I disappeared off-grid for 48 hours, abandoning all my own technology except my camera and Kindle, and it was gorgeous. I hopped back onto Gmail only long enough to send the cattery where Luna and Clover are alternative contact details. And while I missed being able to post photos, I loved the freedom so much I’m leaving my phone behind every day and just checking it at night.
On logging back into this, to pick up all my emails, I was conscious of anxiety creeping in and having to DO ALL THE THINGS. Whereas actually there was very little that needed actioning, and nothing at all super-urgent. One to ponder on – I reckon I need to do less and chill more.
Currently Dad is sprawled in the sunshine, Mum’s reading in the spa and I am about to finish this post, finish this cocktail and jump in the pool to cool down. And dye all the towels blue in the process, gigglesnort. My hair has reacted amazingly well to the sun though 🙂
So, having planned & booked this trip in January, we suddenly had freak sunshine for our week off. Woo yay! Monday morning, I headed for Oundle to find the others and the marina. Oundle is pronounced OWndle not OOndle. Obviously. (Obviously I am not a local!) Said hello slightly self-consciously – holiday was with Rob and his friends – I hadn’t met Andy & Gemma before (they live in Australia) and the first & only time I’d met James & Jo, I was dressed as a parrot in a corset (of course!) and had had a few too many jelly shots. Ahem. Anyway, it was lovely to meet them properly.
I’ll do a proper photo post/album when I’ve got my pics off the big camera, but in the meantime here are a few, in no particular order, that I’ve managed to persuade my phone to transfer…
Instagram of the bow of the boat – ultimate tranquility…
Watching a wrecked narrowboat be righted and towed away in Peterborough
We took a steam train ride on Wednesday while waiting for Jo to join us……and disembarked somewhere that felt a lot like Hogwarts!
View from my bedroom window on the last morning – it really is a gorgeous way to wake up!
It was fabulous and over much too soon – so good to really slow down, there is almost no signal out on the river, and I learned to do locks all over again, and ran over the roof, and tried to master my fear of jumping off the boat when there’s water between the boat and the side, and we cooked and drank and talked and read and took photos and drank some more and it was gorgeous. Also gave me time to have a proper think about life, the universe and everything (:P) and I’ve come home and started a huge spring clean. Which I think is a good thing!
We also managed to meet Jenny and Craig (from Team Allegro, when we were rallying with Rusty) for dinner on Wednesday night which was really nice, as I hadn’t seen them since September 🙂
More pics and such soon – I wish I was still there, I do not in any way want to go back to the real world tomorrow!