Wednesday, 9 April 2014

The end of a road, my adventures .. stepping out into the unknown

So, as some of you reading this will know .. I am currently in south west France on a workaway assignment (the relevant website is www.workaway.info). I was inspired, or should I say, pushed into doing something a bit different after doing two soul destroying, stressful jobs in the course of the last two years. The first of these was with a company that, thankfully, has now folded, and the two main directors from there are or have been under investigation for tax fraud. Enough said about that. My last job was with a company that is okay but whose values were in direct conflict to some of mine, and I was being pushed too far for my own good. My body and mind were constantly giving me signals that something was not right. I was on a temporary contract there, and could have stayed longer, but the job was affecting my whole life, and eventually, after one particularly bad day, I finally decided that enough was enough and told my boss (who I got on well with and am still in touch) that I wanted to leave.

I pretty much knew that this was the time where I had to make some changes. I had been working in office jobs for a low wage, just to pay the bills, and also been unemployed for over a year. That really isn't the life I want to live, and certainly not the life I'd want to be living in 25 years time. I don't have any significant qualifications, and found that the English work environment seemed to be getting worse. And I'd got to the stage where I just COULD NOT go on doing the same jobs I hated. It wasn't even that I didn't want to .. I just couldn't.



It is never easy to make a change, but sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and follow your gut. You can't force change - sometimes circumstances make it difficult. Last year, it would have been easier to make a change after I left my previous job, had it not been for the fact that I was on a contract at my house at the time, which did not end until two and a half months later. This year, I was able to leave the house I was living at pretty quickly.

But I also feel that change comes in proportion to your growth as a person. Okay, maybe 'growth' isn't the best word to use .. but I'm definitely in a better place this year, to what I was last year. I am more trusting that things will work out and don't need to know every detail as to what I need to do. And I think that's important. The word 'allowing' is very important to me right now. Allowing, to me, means to allow things to be as they are, to not try and force change, to allow new opportunities, and to be receptive to whatever opportunities come up.

The rational mind will say 'You need to find a job', 'You won't manage very long without much money', 'You can't find a job you enjoy' - and obviously, the situation is different if you have a mortgage and/or children, neither of which I do. But, whatever your situation, I think it's important to be receptive and follow your heart, because I don't think your heart will lead you to places which will cause trouble. It may mean that you have to work hard .. but if you get to the place where you need to make to make a change, this quote is relevant - 'Doing the same things over and over again will produce the same results'.

SO WHAT AM I DOING?

I had seen the workaway site a while back and felt that this would be a good start. The purpose of the site is to allow people to travel to different places and do some work in exchange for food and accommodation. A pretty good deal, I would say. I have started doing some gardening work. I have not done any DIY in the past, really, so it's all rather new for me, and in some ways it's been quite hard .. but it gives me the opportunity to learn a few things, about myself, about my skills, and also the opportunity to see some new places. Where I am is around 100 kilometres from Bordeaux, so I went to Bordeaux the other day .. has some nice parts and some run down parts, was my general impression - and I've seen some nice small French towns.
This is Eymet, a lovely place I saw yesterday. 

There are no guarantees as to how long I will be here for .. I think workawayers stay at places for anything between a week and two months! And there's no guarantee that it will lead to any opportunities .. but it's good because I hardly have to spend any money once I'm here, and I can get a new perspective on things.

I went to Malta soon after I finished my last job .. and I totally did not want to leave. It was the best holiday I have ever had, without doubt. My Aunt moved there at the beginning of 2013, having visited there several times, and I have the opportunity of staying there and trying to find something suitable .. and I will certainly be back there before too long, I hope - there are no guarantees, and maybe I would find the hot summers difficult .. but I think I would regret it and be a bit foolish, if I didn't take this opportunity when the time is right. Things like this tend to happen when you're more in flow with life. I've been getting more and more disenchanted with certain aspects of UK culture, so the prospect of starting again in another country would certainly appeal.

What am I learning from all this?
1) Taking each day at a time - Like many people, I don't find uncertainty easy. It's been a difficult start to my escapade in France, in some ways. Looking too far into the future isn't necessarily wise during these times.
2) Allowing advice from others - It can be easy to panic when things go wrong and to wish you were somewhere else. I didn't expect things to be quite like they have been. And I can easily become impulsive and decide I want to escape before the time is right to leave.
3) Resting and listening to my body - I haven't been feeling 100% for the last week. I hardly ever get colds but a cold has come at the most inappropriate time ;) It's easy to make plans to do lots of walks and see lots of sights, but there have been times when I have just needed to rest and relax.
4) Feeling the feelings - I had a bit of a bad night the other night after the gardening had gone pretty badly - and a lot of negative thoughts surfaced or at least were under the surface, such as 'You'll never be able to make positive changes', 'You'll be on the dole again and be forced to look for work you hate' .. One thing I've learnt is to not push negative feelings away, but rather to acknowledge them and face them head on whenever necessary. I did my best to allow things to be as they were, and hopefully I am getting better at that.

I don't know the whole picture. But I moved to Leeds in 2007 without a job, and it worked out and turned to be the best thing I have ever done, so far. So I'm just following my intuition and taking action when necessary. Watch this space.

Blessings
Andy


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