Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Dreams and projects (1)

I class myself as a dreamer.
People often say not to dream big because you will be disappointed if it doesn't work out.
 I love to dream - I enjoy the whole process from the initial glimmer of an idea to working out the details and planning what I can do to make it happen. I can honestly say I have never been sorry that I spent time imagining and daydreaming what might happen - even if the dream isn't realised ( as is often the case ). I find that even if the original idea doesn't come to fruition there are spin off ideas or the possibility to move in a different direction previously un-thought of....

For me dreams are positive things and I believe when you are thinking positively you are receptive and see the paths that open up for life to change.

Like most people my life has had many challenges and has - at times - been very difficult. I have always considered myself a lucky person though and I have come to see those challenges as positive incidents. They have made me the person I am today and - after many years thinking otherwise - I like who I am :-)

As this blog is about us changing our lives in the future I thought I would give you a little of my recent history - the ups and downs - how our life has changed and how dreams and projects have fitted in.

I had many years as a manager in a busy discount retail chain. It was a job I was good at.
I gave a lot - as I tend to do - no half measures :-) It wasn't a career path I choose - it kind of chose me. I started as a sales assistant and got offered promotion to supervisor, assistant manager and then eventually manager.
 As a manager I chose - instead of being very office based - to be involved in all the very physical day to day stock movement and shelf filling. I was first in, last out. I enjoyed the challenge and felt confident in my ability to do a good job. The days were full of projects. I enjoyed taking hundreds of boxes of stock and creating displays I had designed. I ordered my own stock and had control over how much I ordered and then how I then promoted it in store. 
Over time working practices changed and more and more decisions were made at head office level and managers were given less and less freedoms to order stock and influence sales at branch level. Working for a large company meant constant demands for more - more profit - more productivity - more blood - more sweat and there were often tears!  I loved the job but not the pressure.
17 years ago - after a safari holiday to Kenya - I became unwell and was eventually diagnosed as having ME. Over two years or so I spent time off work and as soon as my health improved I would try to return only to have a relapse. This meant I would be off work for months again.
 I had hoped my health would improve and I would be able to return to work. That wasn't to happen though. After numerous attempts to return to work - including reducing my hours - it became obvious that I was not going to recover quickly and we had to take the hard decision that I would resign. It would enable me to get well without the stress of trying to go back to work time and again.
It was hard though ... I felt such a failure for having to give in and quit. It took me many, many months if not years to move through those emotions. With hindsight I could see how much I had to change my personality to fulfill the demands the job put on me. I didn't like the pressure I had to put on my staff - I didn't like the person I had to be in that role. The silver lining in the situation didn't become obvious for many years though!
Alan continued to work and would bring me a paper home each day. At the time The Daily Mail was running a competition to win a house. All you had to do was to collect tokens. Not too energetic and within my capabilities ;-)) This became my project. Granted it was a very small project :-) however - in the circumstances it was enough.... I religiously cut them out every day and after some months sent the envelope off and thought no more about it. I was dumbstruck some months later when I got a call to let me know I was one of fifteen who had won a house!!! A dream come true...
After much discussion we decided that instead of taking the house ( a new build in Sale Manchester )  we would take the cash alternative. In the long term the house would have increased in value but in the short term the money gave us the financial freedom to sell the house and make the move back to be near family. Money is not everything...
 Alan didn't give up his job and was still living in Liverpool - he rented a room and came up to Cumbria at weekends. I was living in a small cottage we rented. I was often bedridden and day to day living involved spending the majority of the day resting. My wonderful staff had bought me a chocolate Labrador as my leaving gift and he gave me a reason to get out of bed. I would walk the short distance to the beach and sit on a dune and throw a ball for him. He would spend hours searching for it and bringing it back again - he got his exercise without it being too strenuous for me and I got the full healing benefits being near the sea. I really needed something to keep my mind active - it couldn't be anything to taxing though as any mental exertion had the same affect as physical activity.
Hoping that one day we would be back together in our own home I decided to set myself a project and began to collect home design and decoration magazines. Interior design had never been a topic I was particularly interested in but it seemed something I could dip in and out of  when health permitted. I cut out all the images I liked and had a folder to keep them all in. The 'dream book' enabled me to be positive about getting back to a home of our own. I drew the floor plan of the ideal house and I envisaged the layout of the grounds. The house had french doors from the living room onto a patio. It also had french doors from the dining room onto another patio with an pergola above it. There were three reception rooms and a lovely large kitchen with room for a table or an island unit. The gardens were expansive and had mature trees and shrubs.It also had seating areas in various areas of the garden.
I spent ages collating images and in the many hours I was resting I was dreaming about what it would be like to live in the house I had created...

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