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  • janenewaudby


As a sailor, summers tend to be defined by type of "sailing season" you get. Mostly, this is defined by the weather. 2003 had weeks of glorious sunshine. I know this because its the last season I got tan lines on my feet. It takes a scorcher of a summer for me to take of my sailing boots.... 2004 on the other hand was rubbish. We sailed to the South West and everything was soggy, all of the time.

This season will be remembered less for the weather. We quit our jobs and moved to the Highlands. It was a strange and emotional time. Great change is like a mighty wave. You see it coming over the horizon; you plan for it and wait, watching it come nearer and nearer. Then it happens. The wave washes over your head. It has its own momentum and, despite all the planning and anticipation, you are picked up and carried. All you can do is ride it and sort of observe with amazement what it actually feels like, now that it is all actually happening. Is it what you expected? Yes and no.

I am struggling to describe the complexity of that ride, now the wave has died down. If you are our friends, you probably think of this wave in terms of "living the dream". We managed to cast of the shackles of work life and do something different, and that definitely makes us lucky. As for us, we have to remind ourselves of that. Feeling lucky is not an automatic human condition and "being grateful" for good fortune is usually something we have to remind ourselves of. What occurs instead is that things are just different in the way that life seems to happen to all of us. So no fanfare and trumpets. We just decided we didn't want to work for people anymore and now we don't.

The funny thing is, we are now our own bosses, and we are not necessarily the easiest taskmasters. During those five long working days a week, you belong to someone else (whether its bosses, or clients or both). In turn, your limited "free time" becomes easy to allocate and fill. You have life admin (shopping, housework ....) and you have the rest of the short evenings or weekends to take a walk, see a film with friends, or do nothing.

Now, all our time is "free time" and we have definitely felt a kind of pressure with that. We no longer have the working day structure and there are conflicting and competing interests to work out. My husband wants to sail or walk, and I do too, but I also want to make my pots. Sometimes I feel guilty about that, but the urge to make eventually eats me up. Then I go down to the shed.

So with all this wonderful freedom, we have learned that being responsible for allocating ALL of your time takes some practice. Apparently, its not always easy to go with the flow. That takes a different kind of person, especially one who has not been institutionalised in a 9-5 office job for about 25 years with a bad strain of protestant work ethic.

In case all of this sounds negative, its not supposed to. Its just how it is. We wouldn't go back to our old lives if you paid us a million pounds. We are up for learning how to be entirely responsible for ourselves. We don't always get it right, but that's ok.

I guess we look at our lives as a book. Our fear of getting stuck on the same chapter is greater than the fear of turning the page. Putting it another way, they say when they ask people close to the end of their lives what they regretted the most, it was almost never the things they had done, but the things that they didn't do. So take responsibility for your lives my friends and keep turning the pages.

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