For this week’s Occupy Blogosphere post, I’d like to share one of my own experiences of the power of positive thinking.
Yesterday The Artist and I were inspired to move one or two things around in our ‘studio’ and suddenly the whole house feels ‘right’. It’s taken nearly seven years to transform this early 1900’s semi into our ideal living/working/playing space and set up the lifestyle that we’ve been dreaming of as long as we’ve been together.
As I sorted through some paperwork, I unearthed a scrap book and, flicking through the pages, I remembed how I’d started it long ago, to ‘order up’ our ‘forever’ home. There were photographs and illustrations of the things we’d like to buy, notes on manufacturers and suppliers, measurements, colour schemes, fabric swatches, estate agent agents details and lists of plants and shrubs.
Many of the things inside that book have now come into being. But it wasn’t always so.
Way back at the beginning we shoehorned ourselves into a cottage built-for-one, practicing our arts and crafts in companionable proximity. Acrylic paintings were propped up against the TV cabinet, where I could admire them while The Artist decided what, if anything, to add. Pieces of handmade paper, that I’d pulped and moulded in the tiny ‘add-on’ kitchen and bathroom, were laid out to dry under the living-room radiator. Papier-mâché creations were displayed on shelves either side of the open fireplace and subtle watercolours adorned the rough-cast walls.
While I completed assignments for my professional qualification, on a PC in one corner, my man grappled with the alien concepts of Digital Art, on an iMac under the open-plan stairs. With TV, sound system and Sony Playstation, we called it our techno-cave.
That first home we shared was a magical, creative space, where we were content. But, eventually, we had to admit that conditions were too cramped, so we began look for something more suitable. But there was nothing that we liked, so we stayed put. Instead, we bought a ruined farmhouse, in Brittany, to which we could escape when the pressure of modern life became too great.
Then my mother became ill and we moved into her house, intending to take care of her when she was released from hospital. That day never came – but when she died we stayed there, not knowing what else to do. There was so much to sort out.
This wasn’t the old Welsh vicarage where I’d grown up but a much smaller split-level bungalow in Cornwall, which my parents had bought as their retirement home. I loved that house, I’d helped them choose it – but it did not like me. Without Mum there, it seemed hostile, with cold spots; flickering electrics; door handles which caught my clothing and bruised my arms, and a chorus of unfriendly voices, whispering in the night. The artist heard them too.
For a year we tried to make it work, then – realising that it never would – we began to put together a mental image of our ideal home: larger than the lovely cottage that we’d had to sell, but not too big; potential to put our stamp on it, without too much work; not too far from town, not overlooked. With a spare room we could use as a studio and off-road parking for our motorbikes and classic car. And – most importantly for me – sufficient outdoor space to soothe my soul, where I could sit in sunshine and watch my garden grow. Not a lot to ask.
During the following summer, we traveled all over England, Wales and Eire. At an alternative energy festival we met a couple who came from The Isle of Wight – just off the south coast of England, where my adult children live. On a flying visit to our new friends I had the strongest feeling that this place was where we were meant to be.
Within three months of putting the idea ‘out there’, the Universe provided a part-time Housing job for me, which gave us affirmation and the means to take the plunge. We let out our mainland house and rented a bungalow on the wild West Wight. The Artist found agency employment and we used our free time to search for the perfect property, one which ‘ticked all the boxes’.
It took much longer than we thought. One agent told me, brutally, that we were chasing a hopeless dream – but we refused to compromise. Life on the Island felt so right and we were happier – even in that rented house – than we had been for years. We were confident that our instincts were right, believing that we could achieve anything we put our minds to. How could we not?
Our six-month tenancy was fixed – there was no option to extend it. And as the end-date loomed we questioned if this really was our destiny. Maybe we’d misinterpreted the signs. It was a bleak moment when we admitted that we could be forced to return to Cornwall after all.
From our first visit, before we’d even decided to move to the Island, I’d been drawn to a large Edwardian cottage on the outskirts of the County Town of Newport. Each time we drove past I pointed to it, saying, ‘that’s my house!’ Of course, it wasn’t up for sale. Imagine our delight when – in the nick of time – it came onto the market.
Although it looked pretty from the outside, the interior required serious upgrading – not exactly part of our plan. But that placed it at the lower end of our budget, leaving enough to fund the renovations, so we bought it! Even then the process took longer than expected, so we had to store our belongings and move into a holiday caravan for two weeks, praying that the sale would go through smoothly, or we’d be homeless. An ironic situation for a Housing Officer!
When we finally crossed ‘our’ threshold for the first time, we could hear the roar of the crowd, as The Isle of Wight Festival opened on the other side of town. Too late to fetch our stuff from storage, we set up deck chairs in the living room and celebrated with a take-away fish supper and warm beer.
Over the years we’ve modernised, decorated, landscaped and cultivated and now we’re practically done. There’s just the front fence to be erected and The Artist plans to turn the brick-built outhouse into a proper workshop, where he can bring our old car back to life, (again!)
We no longer work in pressurised environments. On term time afternoons we clean the local secondary school and The Artist also helps older, less able people, through his second job with Age UK. We earn enough to live on, with a little bit left over for occasional trips across the Solent, to visit our beautiful grandchildren (and their parents!) But we have something much more precious than money and prestige – we are time-rich and our minds are free. We’ve arrived at the place that we were aiming for – and it’s even more incredible than we expected it to be.
I’m only just catching up with that.
It’s been an ‘interesting’ journey – there were so many times when we despaired of ever having the opportunity or the means to realise our dream. We took wrong turns and followed up diversions, learning valuable lessons as we went along. We pictured the life we wished to lead in detail, spoke as though it were already so.
And now, at last, it is.
So how does my story tie in with Soul Dipper’s Occupy Blogosphere movement?
Well, if two people have the power to magic up their dream, imagine how much positive energy a whole bunch of us can send out to the World, by posting uplifting thoughts and messages, every Thursday? That’s all we have to do.