Motorways here I come

If there are any really long term readers of my blog out there who are still awake you will know that I agonised long and hard about giving up my previous job.  I worked in London for a couple of days a week and from home for a day or so at a job that I had loved.  But living here and being ill for a few months had made me acutely aware of how finite my time was and of how much I wanted to be here and not to go away every week.  I wanted time to garden and to write.  I wanted time to give to my family, both up and down the generations, up to my parents and down to my children and now my grandchildren.  I hardly feel old enough to be a grandmother but amazingly I am one and it is very wonderful.  I wanted time to sit on the grass with a two year old and let him dictate the pace of the day, just for a little while.

I agonised about giving up both the money and my financial independence.  I agonised about losing my identity and "dwindling into a wife" (how silly that seems now).  I agonised about the lack of purpose, of focus, of intellectual challenge.  As a classic 70s seventies feminist (and proud of it still) I agonised about dependency and the folly of throwing away a lifetime's professional achievements, such as they were.

I still think these were all very fair things to agonise about but here I am, a year in, busier than ever with new challenges and new demands upon my time, feeling no less myself for having made the very odd choice to start again.  I am still amazed by how much I have to do and how quickly the time goes and how little impact my choice has had upon my sense of having time to spare.  Carpe diem.  Time is very, very short indeed.  Use it, love it, enjoy it.  It will soon be gone.  This is not a counsel of despair.  It is simple pragmatism.  We are all a long time dead.

I love being my own mistress.  I have gone back to working, happily.  I enjoyed my time off but it is good to be financially active again.  But I don't think I could ever work for someone else again, accepting the relentlessness of nine to five, or eight to six or longer.  I don't think I am working much less hard, surprisingly, but I wander down to spend ten minutes with the chickens, to deadhead the roses and water the pots.  It is a huge privilege not to have to get on a train and commute, which must be one of the most soul destroying things to do.  All sorts of surveys say that commuting is stressful, bad for your health, that commuters with a journey of longer than half an hour have higher blood pressure and lower job satisfaction than those whose travel is shorter and easier.  I find that very easy to believe.

So here I am, with new things to do for work that I enjoy but with the flexibility to be able to get on the motorway and disappear off to Oxford for a few days.  I shall see my son and his wife on the way down.  I shall spend time with older daughter and her baby and with younger daughter who nows lives close to Oxford too.  This is part of what I left my job for and tonight, when I stop sitting at the computer sorting out work things for next week, and stop wandering around the garden trying to work out what I might achieve tomorrow before I go, I remember that.  I am extraordinarily lucky that I can get in the car and drive to spend time with the people I love, and that I live here with the person I love. 

End of embarrasing attack of thankfulness.


  1. Not embarrassing at all! Sounds to me like you've achieved a very lovely life-work balance....

  2. Congratulations to the woman who has everything.
    More power to your elbow.
    Like you say, we'll be a long time dead.

  3. Ahh the freedom of it all.

    Elizabethm if you've using the M40 to Oxford, consider stopping off at the Granville in Barford for lunch, you won't regret it. One mile from Junction 15 in the direction of Stow. See :-


  4. You made a wise decision, Elizabeth. As an old timer I well remember the night you were stuck on the train and posted on the PC from your Blackberry.
    I'm still working full time, but in April got permission to do some of my work from home. I still have to travel once in a while, but I have some flexibility to work the hours that I want and to nip out to the garden or walk the dog when the mood strikes. It's not perfect, and I still feel stressed sometimes, but it's a whole lot better than it was.

  5. It could have been me writing that first part about being afraid of losing your independence etc etc. The decision you've made now seems emminently sensible and full of positives - and most importantly, it seems it has not been forced upon you. All to the good!

    Your life sounds very agreeable, Elizabeth. May you enjoy that agreeableness for a long, long time.

  6. Sounds perfect Elizabeth. You have done well to find contentment and a well balanced life. Enjoy.

  7. Not embarrassing at all - spoken from the heart and also echoing my feelings exactly.

  8. I loved this because it strikes so many chords. And I envy you for going to Oxford, which is where I grew up (or at least not very far from it). But how it has changed! You are very good at being thankful - but I suspect that that is you rather than that you are uniquely blessed. It is just so easy to moan and niggle when there is just so much to be thankful for. We are happy because we smile - not the other way around. Similarly the more we think ourselves lucky the luckier we shall be. I think you should write a book on this.

  9. It is great to have time and energy to do it all.

    I have left an award for you on my blog.

  10. It's only when you don’t appreciate what you have that it’s not worth having. Don’t be embarrassed for having worked hard whist bring up a family and then being brave enough to change your life – enjoy.

  11. Sounds all very sensible to me, a good balance. Nice to catch up again x

  12. Sounds like a great life to me. Don't be embarrassed, even if you ARE making us all jealous ...

  13. I love these attacks of gratitude! I'm often attacked by resentment, or urgency, less often by thankfulness.
    Today, I'm grateful for my friends' electric push-mower, and a big lunch of sauteed snow peas from the yard. That and the abundance of raspberries we're enjoying right now.

  14. Sounds like you have a perfect balance, glad it is all going well for you.

  15. What a beautiful post. Time is very, very short indeed. I commute from rural Martinborough here in New Zealand into 'big city' Wellington 4 days a week, and work from home for 1. I fortunately take a very comfortable and easy train, but it still is an 80 minute commute. It's the mortgage that keeps me doing it. My partner works 4 days a week in Wellington too. Our long term goal is to be in Wgtn less and Mboro more, but it is a very long term goal. In the meantime, I'm incredibly grateful to be living where I am. It's like if someone said, "You can have 3 days a week in paradise, or none. Which will you choose?" Give me three! Give me three! Eventually, I will get even more.

  16. Rachel - it is very good when it works!
    Friko - certainly don't have everything (no deli, no theatre, startlingly less money for to name just a few things!) but like what I do have, most of the time.
    Neil - no time to take your suggestion coming down but will try it going back up and thank you, sounds great.
    Pondside - I do hope your new arrangements work well for you. I have often wondered how you manage all the claims upon your time. Good luck.
    Deborah - ah, I wondered whether you might have had your own version! yes, it is good now and makes the agonising seem a bit strange from this distance.
    Marianne - thank you. It certainly feels hard won, which is perhaps why it is so appreciated!
    Weaver - thank you. Not sure how comfortable we Brits are at speaking from the heart!
    Fennie - what a great response. I do hope we will manage that meeting someday!
    Monalisa - thank you for the award. Time and energy are all there is really.

  17. Hello, so sorry to be late to this, but I'm feeling very squeezed myself. Be whatever you want to be! I hope the new employment is working out well - best wishes. Cx

  18. I couldn't agree more. My husband died at 54; much too young. I have become acutely aware of how precious time is and I want to make the most of it.


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