Monday, January 02, 2012

The First Step To Becoming

I love my family.

I love my house.

My relationship with my wife is good.

None of the important stuff is broken.

It's important that I state this.

Because I am not happy. And (I'm sure she won't mind me saying) neither is Karen.

We are tired. We are stressed. We are poor. We both work damned hard - both in terms of our official employment and our "work from home" activities that we undertake to try and bring extra money / success to the household. We've spent the last 4 years trying to break even. Instead it just feels like we've busted our balls to continually fall short. We go out to work, undertake jobs that take away more than they give just to earn not enough money to make it all worthwhile.

We've both reached the point where our minds and emotions are flagging up that, Houston, we have a problem. We can't go on like this. Or rather we could. But we don't want to. We need to pull the nose up before we cream ourselves into the tarmac.

I'm not a big fan of New Year's Eve. In fact some of you will be aware of how much I loathe the enforced optimism, the Bacchanalian positivity that seems to go viral for one night only and rarely changes a damned thing. I don't go a bundle on New Year Resolutions. They're all gas and no solid.

But this year, right now, I want a sea-change. I want a sea-change for me, Karen and my family. I want us to be happier, breathing easier, Heaven forbid actually having some enjoyable downtime instead of having time off only to recuperate from the ravages of toil. I don't want us to be doing jobs that make us so continually unhappy that the unhappiness itself becomes normalized and a component of the four walls that surround us.

I don't know how we do this. I don't know where we go to even start. I'm aware that the global economic climate isn't geared up to facilitate such a move right now. But there has got to be a better way for us to do things. Other paths. Other routes.

I'm looking for the signposts.

I'm looking for the Way Out.

And if we fail to find it, we may have to redraw the map ourselves...



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43 comments:

Keith said...

Perpetual exhaustion IS the new black.

Hoping I get to be the first comment of the new year.

Keith said...

Seriously though...

You have already made the first step by stating what you want. Now get more specific. Even down to dates and places. Tell us exactly what you want. This year. This month.

And heed what I am saying, tell us what you WANT. And not a single word about what you don't want. Get it.

libby said...

You are right to think about change while your young'uns are young'uns...and the signposts will present themselves....take the leap in this leap year.

Keith said...

Oh and 'Happy new year' to you and yours.

Steve said...

Keith: re: comment - ambition achieved! And I hear you. The ol' positive thinking malarkey...!

Libby: I feel like I'm at the "take a deep breath stage" just before the "take a step stage".

Wylye Girl said...

Steve,7 years ago that could have been me writing this post. We were a middle class cliché with a lovely house, mortgaged to the hilt, kids in private school, like hamsters running on a wheel and getting nowhere. So we moved to France for (supposedly) a better quality of life, lived at (apparently) a slower pace with (reputedly) more community spirit. After 5 years we discovered that there is much more to life than a bit more sunshine and cheap wine. We discovered that we missed the 'buzz' of living in the UK, that rural France was a cultural vacuum and that in actual fact all the positives we'd been led to believe existed, were largely only in the minds of wealthy expats rather than the French themselves and that we actually needed a bit of stress in our lives. So we moved back. BUT, we rewrote our own map. We moved to a completely different and cheaper area, we found an outstanding state school and we chose to rent rather than to buy. If something goes wrong, we just pick up the phone. Two years after moving back we live in the most wonderful village in the world, surrounded by an eclectic mix of writers, musicians, artists and good honest country folk and set in stunning countryside. The strong sense of community includes community livestock raising, community vegetable farming, possibly even community pub running. OK, we don't own the house we live in, but then we could never have afforded to buy it anyway. Everything we thought we'd find in France, we found here in the South West. We were talking at the pub the other day how we'd all quite like to build a wall around the village to keep the world out. While I have no regrets about moving to France, what I'm trying to say in a very long-winded fashion is that what you are looking for could be much closer than you think but sometimes you need to think a bit creatively to find it and go against what you might think are established norms in your life. Good luck and good fortune to you all in 2012 (and sorry for going on so long!)

Jon said...

You're right that the global economy does not make this easier at the moment, which is not the same as making it impossible.

We went through something similar ten years ago and we found our solution. I hope you can find yours.

Steve said...

Wylye Girl: much food for thought - thank you. I can see that sometimes it pays to think outside the box; especially the box we put our own selves into.

Jon: thank you. The search starts here!

Trish @ Mum's Gone To ... said...

The fact that you and Karen are strong is hugely important. Together, with your newly drawn map, I hope you can achieve what you want to make you both happy again x

the fly in the web said...

Wylie girl has a point...we were in a very different position, retired with enough to keep our heads above water...but when France wasn't working we upped sticks.
Life isn't working for you and it's not your fault...you want time to enjoy your children, not worry about the problems of taking time off if they're ill.

This is probably quite off the wall, but are there jobs with accommodation...so you could rent out your present house for readies...which would give one of you the chance to work from home?

You both have great skills...perhaps an estate could use them.

Steve said...

Trish: there is very little on the map at present, alas. But sometimes all you need is a starting point.

The fly in the web: to be honest, right now I'd consider anything. But I sometimes think that is what holding us back. Maybe we need to stop considering anything and start considering something.

John Gray said...

good luck with reinventing yourselves....here's hoping the doors of good fortune open for both of you!!!
best wishes for 2012

Gorilla Bananas said...

Why is everyone talking about France? You never mentioned France in your post. I wouldn't advise you to go there - it's full of people speaking French.

Your life seems to have everything but enough money. Ever thought of dropping your "new man" persona and writing articles for a lad's magazine? I think you know enough to give them what they want.

Steve said...

John: thank you - and for you too.

Gorilla Bananas: that's not a bad idea. It wouldn't be too much of a stretch for me to drop my IQ low enough to write for Loaded. Actually, is Loaded still going?

Tenon_Saw said...

What became of the financial advice you had quite a long time ago? Did it work/help?

Steve said...

Tenon_Saw: to be honest I think once the financial advisor twigged she wouldn't make much of a commision out of us we never heard another thing about it...

Rol said...

I really hope 2012 is better for both of us, Steve.

Mrs Worthington said...

Small changes can bring about big results; just don't do it all at once or you won't know where to pin point your successes. You've declared your intention - so get on with it! good luck

Steve said...

Rol: so do I, so that makes both of us.

Mrs Worthington: my hearty thanks, Mrs W.

Being Me said...

The title of your post says it all, to me. You've put this out there, in other forms (the humourous ones, the cynical ones, the serious and whimsical ones). But this time there's an almost imperceptible line been drawn in the sand.

You know how I feel about things like this by now, I'm sure. Suffice to say, if you build it... it will come. I firmly believe and hold true to having a vision, working towards it, stopping the belly-aching and trusting in the arduous journey. Your ordained destination might not be what you and Karen have been picturing, or what you work towards, but you will be somewhere other than stuck.

So get journeying! xxxxx Much love to you both. Truly. This is a tricky thing, this visualising your way out of the crud and the grey of the everyday. But it can be done (and actually, it must).

Steve said...

Being Me: thank you. On this, the first morning back to work, the journey seems like one huge uphill climb into darkness...

Gorilla Bananas said...

FHM, Loaded, Nuts and Zoo are still going strong. My valet chimp reads them.

Nota Bene said...

Steve,

My sympathies...in the past I've been there. It's tough times for most people, but that's no consolation. I've no real pointers to help, other than unstinting support and enjoyment of your fantastic writing skills...

Suburbia said...

Steve, I really hope you find a way out for all of you. Knowing that you need to is a fantastic place to start though, rather than keep going until you all drop.

Making lists of where you want to be helps.

Best wishes to you all

Steve said...

Gorilla Bananas: plainly they have doubled their readership.

Nota Bene: you are very kind, thank you.

Suburbia: lists are always a great starting point! Thanks!

Elizabeth said...

Steve, I so hope that you are able to find joy and fulfilment for you both. It is so, so important. A useful site that may be a springboard for some ideas is http://escapethecity.org/

Wishing you and Karen all the very best for 2012. x

About Last Weekend said...

I really hope it all changes for you. Thinking your blog will lead the way. Wylie Girl's reply is fascinating and really positive.

Steve said...

Elizabeth: thank you for the link - I will definitely check it out.

About Last Weekend: thank you, as always, for your very kind words.

Kelloggsville said...

Gluck. I aim to see another New Year. That's it. That's about all I can manage to plan for myself this year. Everything else seems too hard. I would love to push in some major change but its so hard to work out what can change without creating an almighty mess. Hope you work it out, I think you have the potential to x

Steve said...

Kelloggsville: "its so hard to work out what can change without creating an almighty mess" - yup; that's the problem right there on a plate!

Meg said...

I think this feeling is epidemic, how do you make enough money to pay your bills and yet have the time to actually enjoy life? In the US we blame the ultra rich for stealing our possibilities and the very poor for drinking and drugging away on social welfare while us middle class bastards are working harder than anyone. To be honest I am currently contemplating selling my house and getting something smaller so that I an actually enjoy the remaining years of my life, rather than just work to pay the mortgage and taxes.

As for just give it to the universe and it will send it to you if it wants it for you, this is a book called The Secret right? absolute and utter drivel, the change will come by you understanding what exactly are you willing to give up for what exact gain (me: cheaper rent, and no taxes and living in an apartment means more cash and a lot less work).

Steve said...

Meg: thank you. Sometimes breaking things down into their simplest components is the best way to see exactly what you've got on the table and what you're missing.

susie @newdaynewlesson said...

I think the first step is planning your finances. If you have never heard of him-check out www.daveramsey.com . People with really low incomes have managed to get out of debt and plan their future. He has really sound advice.

I think once you plan your finances instead of them planning you-you will be able to really plan what it is you want to do with your life.

If you want-please email me. Would love to help you "talk" things through.

Steve said...

Susie: many thanks - and for the link to the website too; I'll be sure to check it out.

susie @newdaynewlesson said...

welcome steve. Financial security makes so many things possible.

I also happened upon this link now:
http://www.adaringadventure.com/guest-posts/a-caveman%E2%80%99s-guide-to-happiness/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ALifeCoachsBlog+%28Tim+Brownson%29

thought you might enjoy it.

btw-how come I can't find a subscribe to blog by email for your blog anywhere?

Steve said...

Susie: not sure about the email thing though I assume I can be "Followed" the usual blogger way?

susie @newdaynewlesson said...

I was referring to an email subscribe widget-so I can then get your posts to my email. I hate my reader and very rarely go there....

I think there should be a widget in blogger already.

If you want to use a feedburner one-here is a tutorial.
http://www.way2blogging.org/2011/11/add-feedburner-email-subscriptions-box.html

ask wendy (bored in catalunya)-I annoyed her about this years ago I think.

susie @newdaynewlesson said...

Think I may be going overboard with the links.. :-) but came across another one for you http://theboldlife.com/2011/12/eliminate-excuses-fear-2012/

Steve said...

Susie: coo! Lots of reading! Ta muchly!

Livi said...

I wish I could give you some stonking advice that could make it all happen for you. But I really hope that you all get the change you want and deserve.

Steve said...

Livi: that's enough for me. Thank you.

Suzanne said...

Hope you make a wonderful new map Steve. I have loved reading the comments on this post. You have some amazing followers with some great advice.

Steve said...

Suzanne: indeed - I am blessed with wise readers.