Well as some of you will know I have been busy looking for a new job because along with an emptying nest I was also made redundant – quite a shock it was too. Whilst I have enjoyed some time off there is still a need to find a job and I have had a few interviews. A lot have been positive experiences and I have one or two things in the pipeline now but the reason I am talking about it here is because of the way a good interviewer causes one to be quite introspective. For example, today I was asked how my friends and colleagues would describe me in 2 or 3 words. Now it is not as if I have not practised this question before with my interview coach (husband) but I went blank – my answer was loyal dependable and fun – I sound a bit like an overgrown puppy dog. Now I am out of the interview I can think of lots of far more appropriate – how about efficient, organised, honest, friendly – tenacious even, I am not sure! It is interesting how we see ourselves and how we think the people around us see us. The same goes for our children. What we see and what others see – my daughter recently completed some work experience and friend who she served told me how polite and friendly she was. Sometimes we see their worst side when they are grumpy as they have a bad day. This is trickier to deal with when we get a call from our child now living away and I know I can sometimes overreact and worry about what to them is some throw away comment, a trivial issue. Unfortunately, when they were home we could witness the ebb and flow of their mood and know when to respond and when to just listen. But I am getting better at it…all be it slowly!
Well I am sad to say that much as intended to spend it doing something ‘oh so exciting’ I struggled to get motivated. It is almost as though with the pressure off I had run out of momentum – then all I could do was dither and be indecisive – it is very difficult to deal with when anyone in this frame of mind and I am no exception. I heard a report on the radio this week which said we spend two years of our lives dithering so I have resolved to just make a decision and stop wondering if it is the best. Mind you I am not saying we did nothing, in the evening we went to the pub with two of our close friends. That may seem a bit dull to some of you but in actual fact it is a rare occurrence as we would usually get together at each other's homes for a glass of wine so it was a nice change and actually a very enjoyable evening although I hate to think how many calories were consumed – not in alcohol but in various nibbles!! Not that I am a calorie counter but even I know that 3 packets of crisps and two big dishes of peanuts plus mini savoury biscuits far outweighs the exercise of walking to and from the pub. Never mind a good night was had by all!
We have a weekend almost free – most unusual - no taxi service required, no visits to be fitted in to here there and everywhere. We spent last weekend at a university open day for our youngest and bringing our eldest and all his stuff back from university. It's hard to believe the first year is over – well the term-time is – we still have the accommodation to pay for a good few weeks yet. I think they are only at uni for 30 weeks but halls for 46 weeks – now figure that one out! Anyhow I digress, the point is faced by an unexpectedly free weekend I feel a bit lost. I mean it’s a bit like when you were little and you got some money unexpectedly for Christmas or a birthday and you didn't know how to spend it. When although lots of ideas would pass through your head you almost didn't want to decide what to spend it on because once it was spent well you couldn't exactly spend it again. So back to today – what to do with this spare weekend - I am really quite lost. Last weekend I also went for cocktails to celebrate a good friend’s birthday – all girls together including our daughters and it was really fun. Now I need to know what other fun things are out there – exciting different interesting things - but for me and my other half – get the picture! After putting our heads together briefly I realised how out of touch we both are. So now to the internet, and lots of other places – I will let you know how we get on.
I have listened to friends recently chatting about marathons and the great feeling of achievement that they and other people experienced afterwards - as well as painful everything too of course. Much as a part of me would love to become part of this elite club, I know deep down it is not for me although I would like to feel fitter. Not that I am particularly unfit but before the children came along I was so active, badminton, squash, yoga, tap dancing, swimming, ballroom dancing and even the occasional gym workout. Once the children came along time was no longer as flexible and this seemed to get worse rather than better as they got older and needed taxiing everywhere. We did join a ballroom dance class when the children were really small but after a couple of years the class moved to a day when we could not get a babysitter so it fell by the wayside. Recently however we have returned to the dance floor to try ‘smooth jive’ which is fab and I recommend you give it a try with or without a partner. Yes really you do not need a partner as you all move around and dance with other folk during the lesson– not as scary as it sounds as it is all very friendly and organised – then there is a bit of a social dance to practice and again lots of invitations to dance. We have met some lovely people, had fun keeping fit and it is just so nice to do something different and together even if I have had to pop out at half time to collect my daughter – leaving my other half to have some extra practice. Have a look around online– search for jive classes and lots of varieties of the same thing come up like Ceroc and Easy Jive to name two. I am now keen to try Argentinian Tango – and even better so is my other half!
As you may recall alongside getting my head around a part empty and pending empty nest I am also dealing with redundancy which I have realised is actually not dissimilar in respect of the emotions its creates. So how am I getting on with it – well looking for a new job is quite a challenge at any age and at least I have plenty of experience of writing applications and interviews but the whole searching process is so time consuming now as there are hundreds and hundreds of adverts/postings on the main websites like Indeed. Anyhow trawling through the advertisements on line got me to thinking about the whole cold call industry as there are a lot of roles doing just that out there - all be it they are dressed up as something fancy. I don't know about you but I have always made a point of being polite when I receive such calls – difficult I know as they can be very annoying but I am always thankful I am not at the other end making the call. As part of my current job hunt I needed to follow up on a possible opportunity – I believe the correct term for this is a warm lead. I was not comfortable with this but I gathered up my courage and made the call and was duly rejected, all be it very nicely. This experience confirmed what I had always thought – putting yourself up for potential rejection is really tough and I can only have respect for the people who put themselves up for rejection time after time, all day and everyday often for a very low salary – I still find these calls incredibly annoying but they are trying to earn a living and it is not personal so I remain firmly polite advising I already have whatever they are offering before delivering a cheery ‘thanks for you call, goodbye!’
Today I received an email from ‘Hobbycraft about Bullet Journals. If you have not come across this it involves creating a journal with all your schedule, future dates, loads of lists of tasks and lots of organisation of plans ideas etc. even doodling headings like we used to do on our school exercise books when feeling rebellious – heaven, I could become hooked! But then my friend’s daughter showed me her journal and lovely as it was I realised this new trend is something I have always done but someone has now decided to give it a name and create a new trend about it! Now it is trending maybe I want to be different – been there done that!!
Thinking about things I would like to try I have focused on writing – I know I am writing now but in particular writing a novel – a bit old hat I know but still on my list of life goals. Now the question is do I need to ‘do’ a course? There seems to be a course for everything nowadays. Is it necessary, can I be bothered, can I not learn as I go? Is it all part of the whole ‘journey’ thing? Sorry to use the ‘j’ word. Note to self in my new notebook bought in Whitby! – look into writing courses. Is there a local club for such things? That brings me back to my ‘to do’ list. What can I tick off so far today – or indeed add so I can tick it off straight away – and if you say you never do that I don’t believe you!
Ah yes lists! Don't you just love lists? I am not sure quite why it is but lists are so calming – even in the most chaotic situation writing a list helps restore my sanity. My favourite is a ‘to do’ list but I make lists for all sorts of situations. Menus and shopping lists of course and things to make and places to go and what to take… the list of lists goes on! Which leads me to notebooks – there is nothing quite so appealing as a new notebook – well apart from new shoes of course! – Crisp unmarked pages just awaiting your first pen stroke. Is it a girl thing loving stationary because my friend’s little girl always makes a beeline for the stationary department and look at the success of shops who just sell stationary like Paperchase! In fact before I posted this my initial thoughts took shape in one of my many notebooks.
So I have had the chance to be a full on mum again this week when my husband and I and my son and daughter spent a few days in the picturesque seaside town of Whitby. We had a great time and surprisingly no fall outs or even cross words and lots of fun. And yes I will miss everyone next week when they head back to university, school and work but I have loads to keep me busy. I am still job hunting but I have great memories of the fun we have had and pride in the lovely young adults I am proud to call my children. As for my week ahead – well I am just about to write a list – I am big on lists but that’s another story!
So my blood pressure is perfectly normal- phew! I am relieved but I am also left wondering why I got myself in such a state worrying about it? In fact I was so concerned that I borrowed a blood pressure monitor from my friend and began monitoring it at home and got some really wacky readings – then of course when I visited the nurse it was perfect! Apparently I had made the rookie error of taking my readings in the middle of a frantic day instead of resting a few minutes beforehand and as I had sat reading a while before I went into the consultation room I was completely relaxed. But talking to others about it I got fed up of hearing ‘it is your age!’ My mum once said it is always a women's age and I now know what she means. So I am an almost ‘empty nester’ at a ‘funny age’ – fortunately is not terminal but an opportunity so today I was ‘a lady who lunches’ my daughter’s sofa companion, vegging out before her highly energetic dance show, job hunter extraordinaire – a necessary skill now to trek through the hundreds of job sites and emails coming your way and then a hiker with my husband enjoying the lighter evenings. As I said before jobless I may be but who has time for a job!!
So I ask myself when did I allow myself to become defined by what I did not who I am… and how come housewife and mother seems so inadequate now I am between jobs - after all I cannot really say I am unemployed as that suggests I currently do nothing which of course is not so. In fact I should describe myself as cleaner, cook, dressmaker, decorator, costume fitter, organiser, hostess, councillor, taxi driver/chauffeur not to mention supportive mother, wife and daughter, need I go on!?! But have you ever noticed that when you meet someone new one of the first things they ask is, ‘what do you do?’ Now if you respond I am a housewife or retired their response is ‘so what did you do before?’ The intelligent part of me knows I fulfil an important role within our family and society as a whole and I now even wonder how I managed to do this properly when I was also working full-time yet the irrational part of me sees myself as sponging off my husband and resents the chores believing this is not really a valid contribution – not that he agrees! This is not positive thinking – I need to get back on track!
Being made redundant 3 months into my new job is not the best way for my new adventure to begin … there again at least I have time to think, a rare thing nowadays as we all chase around at a hundred miles an hour. I will have to do the job searching things of course, yes retirement is not an option as we have university hall fees looming, anyway I am far too young to retire! So with my new ‘lady who lunches’ status I can do some research and find out how others are coping with their empty nest challenges and I can also tackle the job search/CV challenge and discover what’s new in job hunting – my last job found me so I have a bit of updating to do.
I met my son today – he went away to university in September and so far is loving it and I have coped with the whole moving away thing quite well, especially compared to some friends who have been red eyed and unable to even talk about their young person.
He was visiting a city near us competing in a sporting event. I had a sudden brainwave this morning and sent him a text to see if he was free at all to meet up for a cuppa - it was great to see him- unexpected and very brief but such a joy. If I say so myself he has grown into such a lovely young man – now I sound like my husband’s Granny - and as I watched him stride away after giving me a big hug – out of sight of his team mates of course but quite voluntarily - I realised just how much I miss him. Then it hit me like – I will have my daughter at home one more school year and then that will be it - a truly empty nest making me an ‘empty nester’ - and I know I do not want to be completely devastated as some of my friends have been and so I have decided I need to start planning now how I can not just survive the transition to the next stage in life's rich journey but embrace it … so here goes - welcome to my adventure!!