Last week I wrote about what it is that I offer at Oak Tree Barn but what I didn’t say was ‘why’ and how it transpired.
All my life I have struggled with who I am and what I should be ‘doing’ with myself. I am curious, creative, kind hearted, somewhat restless and not very good at sticking to rules. I’m sure that over the years many people have thought of me as ‘flakey’ and unable to stick to anything and until pretty recently this really worried me. I felt unsuccessful and unfulfilled.
Having spent a pretty idyllic childhood growing up in the one village to which I have now returned, my adult life has been somewhat itinerant. I have been happy to support M as we followed his career around the globe, and I was equally happy to take on the role of stay at home mother to the girls when they were little. But a part of me has persistently been seeking a different sort of satisfaction. I know there are many women who find the role of parenting purposeful and fulfilling, but I’m certain that there are just as many who love their children deeply while needing something ‘else’ too, a purpose without obligation perhaps.
I’ve searched hard for the ‘else’ in all the locations in which we’ve lived. I’ve used the skills and qualifications I’ve had to adapt to new circumstances and try out new personas. I trained first as a secretary and then a nurse after leaving school, but fell out of nursing with a knee injury and then worked variously as a medical information officer, in sales, recruitment and admin, and was just about to start training as an English speaking Doula when we left Germany before expected. I trained as a massage therapist when back in the UK and also worked as an audio typist at home when the girls were in bed. I took a course in make up artistry in South Africa (not that you’d know it from my own maquillage!) and while in Belgium I completed a couple of OU modules while learning French and a bit of Dutch. I’ve dabbled in interior design, volunteer management and digital media, and am constantly attracted by the prospect of learning something new. Right now it’s writing, photography and marketing.
But, it is beginning to feel as though in searching for the ‘else’, I was missing the things within me that I innately enjoy. Creating a beautiful, welcoming harmonious space, cooking and baking, gardening, helping people feel comfortable and at ease, looking after them. It all sounds a bit like being a housewife and mother of the 1950s! But it’s not. I’m now doing the things that I enjoy on my own terms, as a job, earning money from the business that I have created alone. It’s not that I haven’t had support in doing so, but the knowledge that I’m genuinely building something for myself that others respect is immensely rewarding.
I wake every day feeling genuinely purposeful. I enjoy the challenge of planning and running a business, I almost feel guilt at the pleasure I take in sitting down to write these posts and I relish having a barnful of people here exploring something new and investing in themselves. My mind is full of ideas as to where this could lead and allowing it to peruse the possibilities is a great pleasure. I can’t pretend for a minute that I ever sat down and created a business plan – I think if I had I’d have only felt the desire to deviate from it – but I have given myself permission to follow my curiosity and instinct without worrying what other people will think. If nothing else I hope that I can encourage others to believe that if somebody as restless, impatient, frustrated and obstinate as me can find a way to create a purposeful and fulfilled life then they most certainly can too!
I would love to think that there will be stories in the future from those who have learnt something here that has led to positive changes in their lives. A skill acquired, a business idea born, an understanding of themselves or the blossoming of a new friendship. I will take genuine delight in being a small part of helping others find satisfaction and fulfilment in their lives.
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