This time last year, like today, I was heading over to Chelmsford after work to join old colleagues for their annual Christmas dinner.
This time last year, I had somewhat lost the Christmas spirit. I stepped off a train, late, hot and flustered from the sardine-can interior, and spent the entire evening fielding calls from taxi drivers for the event I’d organised for some directors and their clients.
This time last year, I went home to a flat that closely resembled a storage facility with a bed in it, and didn’t get my Christmas decorations up until halfway through December because I was just too tired.
This time this year, I am already feeling festive. I will change and do my hair and make up, put Poppy’s roof down if the weather stays dry and drive over to Chelmsford from my new life. I’ll enjoy every drink, every moment and every snippet of conversation with my phone firmly switched off.
This time this year, I will go home, sort out my stock and box some up for Tea & Sympathy, and then tomorrow after work deliver it and collect my takings from the last batch.
This time this year, I have a full size Christmas tree, which I’ll spend tomorrow evening decorating, and a home I love and can entertain friends in.
Perfection. And I still can’t work out how I made it happen so quickly!
I feel very strongly that this is a new phase in my life. The opportunity to work so close to home is one that I think I only truly appreciate having battled almost two years of four-hours-a-day commuting. It signifies a change in pace, and a change in attitude. To make the jump to leaving London, there is a whole mindset change. Money becomes less important, and time, though still precious, is more plentiful.
There will be more time to spend with my family, the people and also the animals that are so dear to me, and who helped me so much through the darkest times of my life, and who share these happy ones so wholeheartedly.
Time to take Bluebell for long cycle rides, Poppy for long drives, to ride Jack and Chess (maybe not simultaneously) through the fields, to photograph and record the things I didn’t even have time to see before.
Long afternoons to spend with friends, chatting, talking, just being. Time to dream and plan for a nomadic future – narrowboats and caravans, visiting friends, a gentler pace of life.
While still running my businesses and creating my portfolio life, I also want to find time to learn – through the university, evening dance classes, finally getting going on my Universal Class courses, through Free Range Humans and Escape the City (just because I’ve escaped, doesn’t mean I can’t still spend time with fabulous like minded people)…
All these things I have missed for the past five years. All these things I am so much looking forward to – and all these things and more I will be thankful for. I’ll still be busy but I am absolutely determined to make more of everyday life now I have taken the leap. I don’t want to just live for the weekends – I want every day to be worth something.
I don’t regret my time in London, I’ve met some wonderful people (you really do find absolute gems in the most unexpected places) and I’ve learned a lot, much of it also unexpected. But the time is right to move on, and I am focused on the future. I don’t think I’ll ever return to work in the City – but I will take many memories of it with me.