Adjusting

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Following on from the adrenaline rush of the move, starting school and getting the house functional we’ve now moved into a new, slightly unexpected phase, I guess you could say we’re a little bit ‘post-partumy’ if one were to continue the labour analogy from one’s last post which one just might.

We always knew that whilst we actively wanted to downsize, this house as it stands is too small.  And dark. And overlooked by 8 sets of neighbours. And bathroom activities can be heard from 4 of the 5 other rooms, and possibly by all of the 8 sets of neighbours, who knows.  And Vince and I can’t get dressed / undressed in our bedroom at the same time because it’s tiny, and either way we have to close the blinds because…well…the neighbours.  And we miss people.  And the Little Chap misses having a bathtub, and hates the shower and howls like a wolf throughout each and every one.  And our soon-to-be 5 year old wanted a Ninja Minecraft birthday party but we don’t know enough small people locally to make that happen.  He also wants a sausage dog and, just like the party, that ain’t happening either.

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Nope! Stop looking at me with those adorable eyes.

There’s an irony that the stress and disruption of a move like this means you want nothing more than to have your friends and family close by to help shore you up, but by moving we’ve geographically forfeited that particular comfort (although thank goodness for two very old friends who happen to live fairly close by).  All of this is totally of our making but that doesn’t stop us from feeling sad and a little isolated at times (there may have been a moment of me silently crydriving us to school this morning).

But apart from that…yay.

Sigh.

Today has just been a low one for me, but there are tons of positives that on most days shine through the negatives.  We LOVE the village and are making connections with the locals on our high street, people are unusually friendly here. I’ve started running again, motivated by the fact that there is a park outside our front door. Vince has joined a local running group which he loves, and he’s also started a training course to give him a professional qualification to help him set up a community-focused business.  The Little Chap is thriving at school and we couldn’t be happier with things on that front.  Every day he reports his day has been ‘brilliant’ ‘fantastical’ ‘all roses’; he’s been awarded ‘star of the day’ on several occasions, with his TA quietly saying to him he’d get star of the day every day based on his consistent good behaviour.  Out of nowhere he can write his name and is learning his letters with gusto. And he’s starting to make a couple of lovely friendships, completely of his own volition.  He hosted his first playdate yesterday which went swimmingly apart from me burning the pizzas and setting fire to the pizza oven. The children voted with their feet and ran off to dress up as a tiger and a helicopter pilot, leaving their flame-grilled pizza’s mostly untouched.

We’ve also just found an architect who’s totally on our wavelength, who will help us shape this house into something more loveable which feels SO exciting…and SO expensive!!

I continue to work via Skype with three clients a week who chose to migrate with me from our work together in High Wycombe, and the transition to online counselling seems to be working well.  I am really missing my lovely counselling room but the beauty of Skype is I can carefully frame out the fact that I don’t have a client friendly space yet thus retaining a modicum of my usual professionalism, at least on screen.

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And so on the low days, we have to remind ourselves it’s only been a month and a full on mother-fucker of a month at that,  and even so we’re still moving forward, making plans, making friends.  We need to give ourselves a period of grace to adjust to this smaller living malarky and continue to trust that we will find our feet and make this work.

As I am often saying to my clients, when they come with a sense of urgency, it’s about us setting a realistic pace for change to take place; when they realise it’s not all going to get sorted in a session or two I can visibly see them relax into the work and that’s when we can really get started.  I probably need to follow my own advice.

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Sweet puppy image source

 

 

Transitioning

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I feel like we’ve made it through a 9-month-long labour.

The time between making the decision to move and actually moving has been long and, at times, decidedly gruelling – we had a very complex property / business situation to untangle (I’m talking ‘SIX solicitors and two tax experts’ complex!) but we are thankfully down to straightening out the very last few threads.

There is a common point in many labours (right before a woman gives birth) that the mother-to-be panics and becomes certain she can’t do it – it’s called the ‘transition phase’.  There was definitely a point of crescendo towards the end of this process where we were hit with constant curveballs, each threatening to totally derail the whole thing, and we started to despair.  Tears were shed, stress-levels went through the roof right up until the very last minute and then the call came to say it was done.  ‘Done, done?’ I asked, ‘as in ‘we can pick up the keys’ done?’ ‘Yes, totally done’, confirmed my solicitor. And in that moment our tiny house was wrapped in a crocheted blanket and placed in our arms.

We impulsively jumped in the car, drove the 90 minutes to pick up the keys, our eyes wide with disbelief the whole way there.  On arrival at the house that hadn’t been lived in for nine months we realised we’d not thought to bring anything useful with us like cleaning products or tools so Vince went to the local independent hardware store and bought a selection of heavy duty gloves, bin bags, an array of cleaning products and a couple of sharp garden tools.  Having pointed out to the shop keeper that he was aware his basket contained the implements to both commit and clean up after a heinous crime, the shop keeper conspiratorially leaned in and said ‘just remember to ditch the receipt’.

NOW THIS IS OUR KINDA PLACE!

And so for the last week and a half we’ve forged ahead to unpack everything and get every room functioning as best we can for a first pass.  We moved in on the Tuesday and the Little Chap started school on the Thursday, talk about skidding in by the seat of our pants.  It’s been a huge change for us all but particularly for him and he’s handled it incredibly (not least nine days without internet access).  Of course there have been wobbles but we are super proud of his adaptability and willingness to start school after almost 5 years of being at home with us, it’s an incredibly nurturing school so we are confident he’ll love it there.

We have lots of plans for both the house and our work but as Vince put it when we were at a particularly low point in the lead up to the move, ‘it feels like we’re seeds ready to burst forth but we’re planted in the wrong pot’.  When I go all the way back to when I started ‘Operation Bloom’, this life change and move has 100% stemmed from that invitation to myself to be open, explore ideas and follow my gut.  Re-reading that first post just now, I realise I still get excited about the book idea I had back in Christmas 2016, and who knows maybe that will manifest but for now this move feels like exactly what we should be doing.  We’re finally in the right pot and are excited to see what unfurls.

The Mr. Worry List

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A couple of weeks ago during our pre-bedtime wind down, the Little Chap and I were curled up together reading my old Mr. Men books, many of which I’d not read since I was a kid.  We came upon ‘Mr. Worry’ which, for the uninitiated, is a woeful tale of a round, blue man riddled with anxiety about everything you could think of (assuming a rise in global terrorism and a decline in our ice caps aren’t in your purview).  A truly troubled soul was poor Mr. Worry, and as we read I kept everything crossed for an upturn in his mental wellbeing.

Not to be disappointed, [SPOILER ALERT], he meets a kindly wizard who tells him to write down every single worry he has.  Mr. Worry is to then bring him the list so he can weave some Mr. Men magic and ensure none of those things ever happen.  The next day Mr. Worry turns up at the wizard’s house with a long snaking list of all his penned worries.

With bedtime successfully implemented, followed by a lightning fast costume change into my jim-jams, I got to thinking about the story and it occurred to me that, just like Mr. Worry, there were a few things on my mind; things that had been kinda keeping me awake at night or generating a low hum of anxiety during the day.  So I decided to put pen to paper and make my own ‘Mr. Worry List’.

I wrote down eleven things.  And do you know what?  I instantly felt better, even in my wizardless state.  My initial observation was to note they were all pretty benign things and I took a moment to gratefully acknowledge that I was lucky to have such an innocuous list.

Nine of the eleven things simply required some effort and graft on my part to reach a resolution.  These were practical tasks, with tangible solutions, such as the creation of a new spreadsheet before I could tackle my business accounts, booking an oven cleaner as clearly I couldn’t face doing it myself, making a technical call to sort out a tenant dispute.  Slightly tiresome and certainly dull jobs but totally fixable and really nothing to lose sleep about.

Only two of the eleven things were trickier and more daunting (in terms of finding solutions that is, certainly none were of life and death importance).  And even looking at the two tricky things, I realised one of them could actually be broken down into a series of smaller practical steps (albeit lots of them, probably over a good number of months) but it could, in essence, join the ranks of the other nine practical tasks.  Until I’d actually written this particular worry down, I’d just seen it as a huge, complicated mess that would fry my brain every time I tried to think about it.  Writing it down was key to breaking that negative cycle. It just shifted something. Helped me get my pragmatic on.

It’s so strange how many of us can worry about unattended tasks and allow them to become shapeless, gelatinous globs of anxiety.  It’s only when we face them head on, one at a time, that their form becomes clear again and the unease lessens as we see a way forward.

So my friends, I urge you to take a quiet moment to write down your own Mr. Worry list, get it out of your head and onto paper and I’ll bet you’ll feel a hundred times better just having a clearer perspective and getting back in the driving seat.  If your list feels overwhelming (hell, Mr.Worry used a whole roll of till receipt paper), tackle one of the easier items on the list first to help gather some motivation; there’s nothing quite like ticking things off for gathering momentum.  Or see if any of them can be broken down into smaller, more manageable actions, this has made ALL the difference for me.

I’d love to hear how you get on; what insights you glean from the process.  There may not be a kindly wizard offering to take care of all our worries, but facing our fears and taking positive action has got to be a close second?  I think there’s a special kind of magic in that.

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Header Image: Copyright Roger Hargreaves 1978