Sunday, 26 February 2012

On this Sunday

I am feeling inspired, motivated and purposeful. I have just had a completely restful day whilst Russ has played with the children in the garden and worked alongside them on the veg patch and other outdoorsy jobs. I started feeling unwell Friday night so felt that a really restful weekend was in order. Nothing major but I felt really tired and shivery shakey and my head hurt. I am pleased to say that right now i am feeling a lot better.

I have mostly spent today reading blogs. I hadn't read any in ages and my google reader was brimming full of posts to be devoured! So I cut down some that I am not too fussed about and I caught up with online friends, and a few real life friends, and some mama bloggers i follow. Its been really lovely to just relax and read.

I have also done quite a bit of thinking and now feel really clear about the direction we are headed this year. I'm so keen to declutter and simplify our house but have really lacked the time to do much about it. I am in awe of people who seem to juggle so much and still 'get stuff done'! But I have to say with the weather we have been having and the children playing in the garden happily alongside their Daddy I am feeling much more optimistic about the possibilities of 'getting stuff done'.

I thought it would help to set myself out a list of jobs so I am about to start working on that. Baby steps towards a simpler life. It feels exciting and I feel hopeful. Its nothing new, not even to me, that simplicity is the key to success (as I saw a poster reminding me the other day) but it is the first time I have felt like I might be able to do something about it now. To move forwards rather than be engulfed and overwhelmed with all the jobs that go with a homeschooling, cooking from scratch, trying to be green and frugal family. I could take many shortcuts which would save us time but compromise on our family's values and so they are not right for us. I am happy with our path but time to myself and time to make steps forward has been sparse. I hope that for a time now we can burst forth like then green shoots of spring with new purpose.

I have been inspired by this post by Meg of Sew Liberated about Montessori Practical Life Exercises or as I would call it allowing children to join in with household tasks.  We used to do this a lot, but not so much lately. I think it went by the wayside when I lost the little basket with our beeswax wood polish in. I believe it is in "the messy room" (our choc full of crap spare room) so must dig it out.
I also liked this post about meaningful work for toddlers and this post by Shannon Hayes of Radical Homemakers fame which made me consider the presence my iphone may be having on our lives and productivity. I think I gain an awful lot from it but I am tempted to set myself boundaries around its use for a bit to see how that goes. I know I turn to it out of isolation.

That brings me to my next point which is the thoughts I mentioned brewing in my previous post. Once again,. for the umpteenth time, i have felt like moving. I have wanted to put the house on the market and go.  It has really got to me the past few weeks. I have felt desperate. After journalling a lot and meditating and thinking and contemplating, I have I think summed up what the issues are.

It was sparked this time by my Grandad's house being for sale. He passed away in Ocvtober, as I said before. His house is small but there are many quirks I love about it - the layout, the big kitchen window looking out onto the street, the sweet little corner garden, the big big windows in the dining room and the little covered patio outside which I would totally paint turquoise and fill with pot plants and hanging jars of tealights.  This house was the house my mum and her three siblings were raised in. It was the house that hosted Boxing Day gatherings and Sunday Lunch and I have many happy memories connected to it. Yet... yet, me wanting to buy it didn't feel about that. It really felt more about the benefits that I could see to US living in the house.

If we were to move there it would cut our mortgage by a whole third (and to be frank our financial situation is not good - we bought at the wrong time and pay substantially more on our mortgage than our friends, in some cases we pay twice as much!). I like the idea of a smaller, simpler space to maintain - it is easier to clean and decorate. I have also mentioned the quirks about it that I like. Its location is a big thing as it is back in Stevenage, which would mean we would be close to my parents and a very good friend, but Russ would have to commute again and I would miss friends near here.

But the main thing I realised about the location was that in Stevenage you are pretty close to everything. Hop on a bus and in ten minutes you will be in town. Or you can use the extensive and well planned cycle paths. There are a variety of parks and a swimming pool, a museum, shops, classes to take children to and in the next town, which is not far away, there is a thriving home ed community. My friend is finding an increasing number of home ed families in Stevenage now too.

Which brings me to here. I live in a large village. It has many houses but few facilities. We are in Cambridgeshire officially and our council is Huntingdonshire, but I am convinced we are far enough away we are last in mind when it comes to the budget. The 'shopping precinct' (ie local shops) are in need of an overhaul. We are on the edge of the fens and flat agricultural land stretches in all directions. I struggle to find the beauty. There is no where nice to walk to from my home. I cannot walk out of the door to a nice little wood or park or pond or lane even. I really really miss the trees and paths I grew up with in Hertfordshire. I crave the forests and beaches that i swore I would move to 'when I'm old enough'.

The city centre is big and ugly and it takes 20-25 minutes to get there - not including the time spent freezing at the bus stop next to the main road. Sometimes the buses don't come - as my friend found out recently when she spent 45 minutes or more waiting in the snow with her two children. Many places we want to get to I then need to get us on another bus. Ok so I am planning on learning to drive, but even then we won't be a two car family and I'm not sure when or how often I will have access to the car as Russ needs to get to work. He may be able to lift share at times. Plus I am not convinced we can afford for me to learn to drive. Aside from that I would like to be able to walk from my house to somewhere.

I have no friends in the village. My friends live scattered about - they are all at least two bus rides away. I know one person locally whom I barely see as her son is now in school. I have come to realise that home educating can be really isolating when you don't have local support. When we moved here there was a thriving home ed community but at present it has pretty much collapsed. There isn't a venue and people don't want to seem to take ownership of it. My emails to the group have been ignored. There is a smaller group a friend of mine set up but she is not local at all and the group is spread out so it has not got going again yet since November and then it will only be fortnightly. I find it hard hearing from my friend in Stevenage about the thriving community there where ours is almost non-existent now. Though I am so pleased for her, obviously.

I don't feel part of the community in the village, or the city. Back where I was raised I feel i belong. I have wanted to raise my children to be part of their community but that is hard when there isn't one. I notice a lot of people have faith communities to draw on too - another avenue we don't have for support. And I find it very hard being raised one of twelve grandchildren and feeling close to my siblings but barely seeing them or my cousins now. Not that I can remedy that exactly.

Its not that I need all these things, or that I can achieve them all even. But I do feel our current situation is ticking none of the boxes apart from 'close to Russ's work' and 'spacious house and garden'. I can't dispute the fact that the house is coming on well and the children love it. But then they would love wherever we live because its ours.

So... no, we are not moving. At least not at present. But I am dealing with all these awkward feelings of being an outsider. Of being displaced. Of waiting for our home ed group to be rebuilt (oh please, please let that happen!) and of longing for family and friends and community. The most important things in life I feel - they are all made of love.

So for now I am focusing on what is in front of me and I will go and make the dinner and clean up the kitchen. I will write my lists for simplifying the house. I will plan our meals for the week and plan our activities (with scant resources outside the home) and I will get on with it.

I had not meant to go so deep with this post but feel better for having written it. I am still feeling inspired, motivated and purposeful as I said at the start. I also of course have much to be grateful for, and really on a daily basis I am thinking about that. I am grateful for my amazing children who surprise me daily. I am grateful I get to be with them every day! I am grateful for my husband and how hard he works. I am grateful for our home with its warmth and space and sparkly new kitchen! I am grateful for our garden, which makes living away from places of natural beauty more bearable. I am grateful for the simple things - a cup of tea, the smell of incense, lighting candles, a new suncatcher, chitting potatoes in the greenhouse, my knitting. I know I am oh so lucky and blessed to even have been born and to be living this life, and I will continue to look for ways forward.

If you have got this far thank you for reading - I am grateful for you! x


  1. Glad you are feeling better! I so resonate with the displaced feeling, I have so many lovely friends near me now but still feel in the wrong place, and many other issues make it wrong too, not least money! I feel for you though, I know you have lovely friends (semi) near you too, but Stevenage sounds like it has a real pull for you. It's such a hard one, I spend a lot of time thinking about what, where, how, who, when but you are so right, I should try to focus more on what I have right here and now. Oh, and totally agree about the iphone thing! love Anna x

  2. Oh hun! I'm sending you massive cyber hugs until I see you at the weekend and can give you some for real!! Its such a massive shame that all your home ed bits seem to have stopped - but remember I was in the same boat not too long ago and you told me to stick with it and that something better is always round the corner, and you were so so right! I know you aren't in the right place at the moment but as the kids grow and you get more time I am sure you will find ways to get your home ed community up and running again. We have a lot on here but the local stuff is mostly set up by a core group of us so I can see how it would be easy for it all to stop over night. You have so much to give and I know when the time is right you will be the spark your group needs! Until then see it as time to give your children really solid roots - I am often envious of the slower pace you and your family take and feel frazzled by the constant running around from one thing to another that we can end up doing some weeks! Sam xxx

  3. Hugs Laura. I feel the same way at times. The Fens are just so...bleak. But you've created a lovely haven in your house and garden and that's something you can be really proud of! Hope to see you soon, love Catherine xxx

  4. Yes, I happy for the simple things in life....

    Don't apologise for a long blog post, sometimes it's just great to get everything that's floating around your head down in feel so much better and energised when you do.

    Fleur xx

  5. I never realised how homeschooling could make you feel isolated, never thought about how you meet most your 'friends' through your kids going to the same school. But I understand the feeling of living in a community but not feeling apart of it. Good luck :)

  6. Hey laura, Just reading this post now but I wanted to say that I really sympathise. We don't really have any friends in our village, only acquaintances - and I too really hate the fact there's nowhere all that pretty to go for walks. I think sometimes the grass looks greener elsewhere and we can either move or concentrate on greening up our own patch. Both are ok. There's no right or wrong. Big hug and sending virtual seeds, water and sunshine!xx