After

I’m in a book hangover. I love it.

For those of you who have never been fortunate – yes, fortunate – to have experienced one yet, let me explain.

A book hangover overwhelms you. It’s when, after – and arguably during – reading a particular book, you get so engrossed in what you’re reading that the essence of the book surrounds you. It’s like being in that book’s bubble or fleece throw or…like that books lens. It’s a warm glow. You think about the book …its words, it’s essence….its ideas. How it made you think and feel.

I’ve read many, many books in my life. Only a small handful have made me feel this way.

I started, and finished, the book within 12 hours including some sleep. I started it last night, read 3/4 before forcing myself to switch off the light at 2am and then finished it this morning.

The book, ‘After you’ by Jo Jo Moyes, just gripped me. It’s a sequel to ‘Me, before you’. That also gave me a book hangover. I’ve had ‘After you’ for 18 months. I started it but wasn’t ready – its themes too painful. 

‘After you’ is a fictional book about living life, starting life again after bereavement. It’s a love story,  a life story. It’s not a self help book or a work of literary heritage. But it moved me to the core. It may not for you – and that, that is the beauty of reading.

I’ve read a lot recently – since finishing my job. That’s one of the biggest ironies of life- as a full time English teacher, I never have the time to read normally. Sad, isn’t it?

I’ve read lots of trashy novels of late – Shades of Grey and others. Sometimes that’s what I want to escape into – stories of passion, strong men and strong but feminine women. It’s not the sex, although there’s nothing wrong with a sexy scene, but I actually like these books. I like reading about how in even romantic fiction, relationships are messed up by people’s pasts, insecurities and jealousy.

And so, here I am. Back in my multicoloured garden, shrouded by my book hangover… which has deliciously merged with other thoughts and events in my head to find those amazing coincidences in life which make you sit up and listen to what the world is trying to tell you.

Life is meant to go wrong.

It really is. Read that again, let it sink in. Life going wrong, is actually right. It’s what is meant to happen. Every wrong turn, bump in the road, false start, stall, breakdown, cruise control,  speed chase….all of it is part and parcel of a normal life.

Often, events on the road of your life happen without you. You don’t cause them or instigate them, but they happen anyway. Sometimes, a seemingly wrong decision- or indecision- causes them. I don’t know what’s worse in that case. But it’s what we do after that matters. What we learn, how we pick ourselves up…it doesn’t matter how long that takes.  It doesn’t matter if we limp or crawl, jog or sprint. It’s just the moving again that matters. Because not moving, is not living. And we have to live to feel alive.

So, after a false start at my new school, today is my last official day there. I’ve spent it so far, finishing a wonderful book and then sitting in my garden with a coffee.

It doesn’t matter that I’ve left my job again. It doesn’t matter that I’ve spent 18 months feeling lost. What matters, now, is what I do after. How I move forward. How I keep going.

The path, road, I’ve been on doesn’t disappear as I move forward. If I turn around and look – something I’ve been doing far too much of – its still there. Every obstacle and every clear road is there for me to see. They’ve shaped me, in a way. But it’s more than that. I’ve shaped myself. I’ve had to adapt to each and every deviation.  I’ve had to overcome it all, one way or another. And I have. I have.

I’ve moved very, very slowly for some time now. But that’s the thing, when you’re moving. You can look out the car window and not have any idea what speed you’re actually going at. The world passes you by at seemingly the same speed regardless of how fast you’re actually going.

And that’s how life is, isn’t it? Time passes regardless. Every moment is a before and a now and an after. The trick is to hold on all at the same time and keep moving. Looking only backwards slows you. Staying in the now stalls you. Looking only forward scares you or makes you race without seeing what’s going on around you. Hold on to all three and just keep moving…moving towards your happily ever after.

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Rain, clouds and coffee.

Following yesterday’s post, it’s not to say world is always rosy now. In fact, it definitely has a horse manure hue and stench to it at times.

I’m sat in Dobbies Garden Centre in a smart grey suit. I’ve just eaten a very expensive and below par gluten free bacon sandwich which I paid the extortionate price of £4 for. (Note to Dobbies, saying you have ‘gluten free options’ and offering tiny frozen gluten free bread only, is not the same thing). I’ve just managed to spend £90 in two shops, which is interesting because that’s over half of what I would have earned if I had gone into work today.

I left the house three hours ago and set off to do my first day of supply teaching. I didn’t want to go. I didn’t sleep last night for the first time in months because I didn’t want to go.

I’m loving my tutoring. But if I don’t work, I don’t get paid. Due to where I work in the various school, my half term is split over two weeks. So today, arguably a half term day, I thought it best to do a day of supply, you know to get some money in.

I have been hounded by, and finally signed up to, a supply agency. Having never been on supply before, I’m not sure how they are meant to work, but I’m not impressed so far. They’re pushy, presumptive and focused on business and not their staff. I was asked at interview what I wanted to be paid a day and I told them. With my experience, I don’t think it was too much – and they agreed – but it still works out less than what an experienced teacher would earn over a day. Oh well.

Imagine my ‘delight’ then, when I discovered that they were paying me £30 less than requested, only £10 more than a newly qualified teacher (I’ve been teaching 18 years). After some discussion, they offered me an extra £10 and I agreed to do the day begrudgingly. I needed the money and felt that it was worth a try. They promised to discuss further after the day.

So, as I drove through the pouring rain, navigating through motorway roadworks and traffic jams, imagine my surprise when they called me to day that the school had cancelled and could I go elsewhere? I’m not good with sudden change (SEN?!) And I was annoyed at the presumption that I would just agree – they’d actually told the school I was available. The school is one I tutor at, and am doing well in. But having witnessed the plight of supply teachers there first hand, and not wanting to undo all the positive relationships I have made there, I eventually declined after some umming and ahhing. They were surprised and not happy.

Neither was I to be fair. All too quickly, my head descended in to its mind fog; fear and limiting beliefs and inner voices choruses for attention. Had I done the right thing in declining? Can I afford to not work like this? Is the agency going to ‘let me go’? How do I actually feel about that.

So, I drove. I drove with no particular idea of where I wanted to be, but I knew I didn’t want to go home just yet.

Eventually, I walked through the rain to a supermarket and filled the basket with healthy fruit and vegetables. I went to a second shop to buy ambient goods, applauding myself on my economical shopping whilst inside fear raged.

And that’s when I ended up at the garden centre. I needed a coffee, maybe some breakfast and perhaps would spend more money I don’t have.

As I wrote the above, I was called by the agency. They were apologetic about the morning and the impression they had given of themselves. I likewise apologised for seeming awkward. We had a long discussion about what they can offer and what I am ultimately looking for (?!).

After, I left the coffee shop and meandered through the garden centre. I’ve bought some seeds and treated myself to a rose for Valentine’s Day.

The sun is shining now and the clouds have cleared.

It’s easy to allow the negativity and fear to take over. In that state, decision making is useless. I needed time to think, and I did so. I needed time to talk and I did so. I’ve still spent money instead of making it, but so-be-it. I feel more positive about supply next week.

In the meantime, I need to keep making positive steps towards my own business and future. That’s the I love way to ensure I’m doing what I actually want and not what I must.

Happy?

I forced myself into action yesterday. In cartoonesque fashion, I pictured a numbing bubble coming from my solar plexus and consuming me, anaesthetising my pain and fears.

Of course there were ripples of hurt which threatened to pop said bubble. But I didn’t allow myself to dwell.

Instead, I sat with my legend planner – the new one I bought when I first realised I had issues at work – and planned how I was going to work on my house in the next 8 weeks.

For, I realised, with or without him my life will go on. That’s a fact.

I had my union meeting yesterday too and things are moving along. My settlement should be completed in the next few weeks. I will paid until Christmas but officially leave their employment at the end of August. This means that I can start a new job in September. I just need to find one.

So, I reasoned, that gave me eight weeks to spend time with my family and get my house sorted. There is tidying, cleaning and decorating to be done. As seems to be the annual tradition, the kids want to swap rooms. There’s plenty to do.

My numbing-bubble visualisation got me through the day. I thoroughly cleaned the lounge and made dinner. I didn’t allow myself to go back to bed. As I said, I can’t pretend that my hurt didn’t threaten to overwhelm me. I just didn’t let it.

Wildcard called me as much as usual yesterday. He was a little more chatty. The slow thaw continues. I even got a kiss goodnight. I actually plucked up the courage to tell him what my ex had said. I could see him thinking and processing that, and I know that he will need time to do so.

Later, I spoke to my London friend about her upcoming trip to see her boyfriend and we discussed Wildcard’s continued sulkiness. She advised that I be normal now and don’t bring it up again. She was surprised he was still moody- over nothing – but said it showed his jealousy. I took her advice on board.

So this morning, I chose to be happy. I put my makeup on before he called. I sent a lovely good morning message. And when he called before work, I was bright and cheerful.

“Why are you happy this day?”

“Because I love you.”

He pulled his usual face in attempt to tease me. His parents got in the car because they wanted taking somewhere, and Wildcard kept me on the phone the whole journey. Once they had left he asked me again:

“Why are you happy?”

I told him that I had spent the week crying and not sleeping and feeling sick. I couldn’t do it anymore. I was choosing to be happy.

He said little but again I could see this running through his mind.

As he parked up at work, I said my customary goodbye whilst he said his sulky one. But as I showered him with phone kisses and I love yous, there was a little amusement there which he tried to hide.

He is still sulking. I am still nervous. But there is nothing more I can do. I’ve apologised and cried till I couldn’t breathe. I’ve not slept and panicked and ruminated. I’ve tried to explain, ignore and now I choose to be happy. Not because I am, but because that is what I need to do.

Maybe I should have done things differently. Maybe he is overreacting. But I still love him. This will need discussing at some point but when he is ready.

In regards to my August trip- well, that remains to be seen. I could cancel, rearrange or…and here is a thought…actually go. I’ve looked at some hotels which aren’t too expensive. I have a week to make a decision. Let’s see what the next few days hold.