New house, new location, new life, new start!

Since I was sixteen, I’ve often moved across the south of England every couple of years due to varying educational endeavours and Swindon has been the town I’ve settled in the longest – ten years in fact! It had opened up a lot of opportunities and we often were away from it at the weekend but, after returning from North Wales, it felt like our time here had come to an end and we wanted out; an adventurous and curious mind can only be saited for so long before over familiarisation becomes boring and the contempt has set in. My only disappointment is that we hadn’t done this sooner as the environment had turned sour years ago…

So, when a successful interview meant a move elsewhere we started packing straight away (well, I did… faster than Sonic!). Ten years of living in one place gathers a lot of memories and memorabilia…

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The organising and clearing up of personal items took a long while as I was very indecisive about what to keep or discard… but the matter most concerning and at the forefront was actually having a place to live! We’d been fortunate to be able to privately rent from a Scouting friend all these years so the process of estate agents, credit checks, references, deposits and protection schemes was new territory.

Combined with a couple of months of working on residentials and an inflexible timetable for Terry, time was short and getting shorter before a starting work date of the 2nd September beckoned.

I would miss the view from our old place…

I decided to take the proactive action of booking several viewings one Saturday within the middle of this humid August just passed. Properties within Winchester are not the cheapest to rent for the space they allow, but one did catch our interest (although at first, it had a ‘sixties’ vibe which I wasn’t too sure about). Situated within good travel distance of the areas I’ll be travelling to, it was ideal; the South Downs Way is only a short walk from the property and it was a lot bigger than our current property whilst remaining affordable.

A tense fortnight waiting for acceptance from the landlord and estate agents was uncomfortable – what if we were rejected? We were so close to my work start date that the thought of commuting over two hours a day wasn’t appealing and the thought of remaining where we were was gut-wrenching.

Of course, I wouldn’t be writing this had we not been successful. The previous tenants moved quickly, the landlord wanted someone renting as soon as possible and the estate agents were happy people were interested… so, over the bank holiday weekend, we begun to move.

Opting to pack, carry and transport our items ourselves, we thought we’d manage with just a couple of days and a large van and our cars… surprisingly we managed it well (but not without a few choice words!). As you can probably gather from the pictures we had a lot of items to manage in our new home.

For me, the number of clothes I owned, having taken them out of the storage boxes from the last house, was copious; I hadn’t been made aware of this until they were hung together in my new wardrobe (my other half has his own!)… I’d only taken a few with me to university, so seeing old clothing, unworn for years, brought back pleasant memories.

The unpacking, sorting, organising took several days (the garage items have still not be touched…); we sweated and toiled to rush through this to spend time, within my last week of employment, to allow for Bailey to settle into the property. Having known only one other house in his life (and he was less than 6 months old at the time), he’s never been elsewhere other than short holiday accommodation.

He was very confused, but excited when we had to return to our previous home to clean it before handed the keys back, but then the confusion came back at this new place…

I’ve always wanted a property where we didn’t have to worry about him being out of our sight; the area we used to live in wasn’t often safe for dogs, a couple had been taken from the gardens for horrific purposes or sold on, so Bailey was monitored when he was outside. This was heart-wrenching for me, as he loved to sit and bask in the sunlight, so this enclosed garden of the new property was perfect.

However Bailey, for the first few days, would stand at the conservatory door unsure what to do! He’d look to us for permission to go outdoors and didn’t want to relieve himself on this unfamiliar territory; it took a good week before we caught him slumbering in the sun but it’ll take a longer time for me to relax over him being out of my sight…

He’s still afraid of going in the shower though…

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So we’re unpacked and moved in; we have been for a few weeks now. I’m still getting used to the sheer size of the place and being firm with Terry over not trying to fill it with too much furniture; there are still a few things we need – seating for the conservatory, a dining table, bookshelf and desk – but these will come in time.

The next step is to settle into routines, explore the local area and decide whether to continue partaking in old hobbies or try new things. Yes, this chance has certainly been refreshing so far – it’s reignited a zest for life and a passion to be adventurous!

Things certainly have changed for us both in the space of a year!

– Just Joanne

Can you ever go back?

Can you ever go back?

Can you ever go back to a familiar place after a long experience away from it?

Can you ever go back to the same routines, same faces, same streets and alleyways?

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It feels surreal to be back home in a house after all that has transpired in the past ten months. Much has changed, a lot has stayed the same but overall everything just sits uncomfortably with me right now. It’s all too familiar, yet different…

I know this is the process of grieving for loss that I’m currently experiencing and there’s much to grieve for – independence with the van, the freedom to chose my sleeping location, the vanlife quirks and challenges, the discovery of hidden areas in deep woods, on sandy beaches and on steep mountainsides, the new locations I found… yet the feeling of not having progressed when in actual fact I’ve progressed further than I would have expected myself to do so when I was younger is lingering within me.

I’ve just hit reality with a bump; the washing needs doing, the carpet needs hoovering, the dog needs walking, the adult politics need sorting, the bills need paying, a job needs applying for, a car needs to be obtained and the demands of the family need addressing. Adulting isn’t the romantic adventure of childhood dreaming we all once thought it would be… the time spent in North Wales did give me that opportunity to step away from ‘adulthood’, just for a little brief while. It was liberating.

The chapter is over, yet the story hasn’t finished.

I know over time these feelings will dissipate as I find focus elsewhere and I’m grateful to have had those 10 months to myself but I can’t help but think that I will go back to the ‘Cinderella chores’ dreaming of wearing those glass slippers again and longing for that freedom from ‘adulthood’ some more!

For now, I’m smiling because it happened, and I’m grateful for those that helped me every step of the way!

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– Just Joanne

Size of the fight in the dog

What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight – it’s the size of the fight in the dog. – Barry McGuigan

I certainly don’t have the fight in me any more right now. When someone shows they lack integrity and instead shows you how self-centred and inconsiderate they are, you have to question how much fight you have in you to deal with it. Is it much simpler to walk away sometimes?

I like upfront and honest people, not those that would see me waste my time and effort for an outcome they have influence over. That just makes me feel like a puppet; strings pulled, a head full of wood and a heart that doesn’t beat, just unnecessarily dancing for someone else’s entertainment. What a joke.

Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength. – Arnold Schwarzenegger

I have my values and I have my limits. I stood up for something that I objected to and made a lot of noises and others made noises with me; people agreed the situation was unjustified and inconsiderate of the opinions of young people but what was the result? A change in the closed mindset of the protagonist causing said issues? A consideration for those affected by poor decision making? A sterling effort made to ensure the continuation and prosperity for all? Pfft, no! Harassment.

That’s one thing you learn in sports. You don’t give up; you fight to the finish. – Louis Zamperini

I learnt very early on in my youth to take control of the “fight“. That I, in some unconstricted way, can choose to keep going or to end it on my terms. So, I ended this on my terms. I learnt long ago that there are people out there who won’t stop until you’ve faced humiliation, until you’ve been removed from the “situation“, until you’ve been truly beaten and the pathetic shallow “victory” can be theirs. Then they’ll move on to the next person, then the next, then the next, then, eventually when there’s very few left, wonder where everyone has gone. They crave the chaos they cause, without an empathic consideration for those affected by their damage.

Sometimes, you get tired of fighting. I think you just sort of come to this realization that yes, that you will get tired, but that doesn’t mean that you can give up the fight. – Jesmyn Ward

At least I know I didn’t sit idly by. That I said something. I tried to do something. I went to the higher ups, the “powers that be“, but sadly, they too showed themselves to lack integrity. Where is the faith in our leaders, when our leaders won’t listen? I pity this world when the voices of young people are not considered anymore. We’re striving to be the generation that empowers the youth when really, we still consider ourselves to know what’s best for them…

So, I’ve given up something I’ve loved and loved for a long long time. Time, effort, energy has been spent in this but right now, I can see that in this situation it is better for me to walk away, no longer allowing the “puppet master” to manipulate and try to control; it’s wearing, especially when you know they won’t give in. You’ve become their focus, their target and eventually, you’ll become their “victory” when they decided where you’re to be in the game of theirs.

I think it’s a dangerous thing for anyone to have power over other people. – Jesse Ball

The one lesson I have yet to learn and accept in this life is, whilst respect for others may have been diminished by their attitudes, opinions and actions, I shouldn’t let that deter me from doing what I enjoy. Of course, it leaves a sour taste and a weakness of the stomach, but I need to get over their agendas, their self motivations and their falseness to find the love again in the activity. I am stubborn in the sense that I won’t return to something or someone if faith and respect is lost, even if that thing is just a small part of a bigger picture. That is when I know I’ve truly lost the “fight“.

No matter what it is, pick yourself up and go on to the next project. – Shelley Duvall

What I do know and can do, is start again elsewhere. I have done it several times before, why should this time be any different?

So yes, life has certainly been interesting of late. I just need a rest from it all. Picking myself up just seems to be getting harder and harder to do.

So it’s like starting over again, but I look forward to the challenge. – Lee Majors

-Just Joanne

In the moment

I sometimes feel that the universe has a way of telling me things. Today, whilst on a course (see other post), I was told by a gentleman to “always say yes to every offer you receive, as who will know where it’ll take you?” “live for the now” and “be the person you want to be“.

Then, later on, I was told to “stop looking at the end point and worry about what’s happening in the moment. Don’t rush.”

Suffice the say, that’s always been a problem of mine… jumping from one thing to the next and being worried about the end goal and missing the enjoyment of the journey getting there. One of the cooks at placement told me a few days back not to worry so much “the world will still be turning, so not need to rush. If you’re late you’re late.

I was also recently told to “slow down and be late for your own funeral”!

So all these words have resonated with me. I have been trying to fill up my time lately with so much stuff that some of it has become meaningless to me. I’ve let go of things that I previously used to enjoy because of a perceived failure of reaching that “end goal” that the journey getting there was the most important bit and I’ve forgotten that. I won’t get this time back.

So yes, I think the universe has really wanted me to know and reflect on these things.

I’m going to stop counting the weeks left of this course and try not to worry about what’s next and break these bad habits. Right now, I’m just to be pleased and grateful for the opportunities given and enjoy them whilst they last.

Just Joanne

Time sure does fly…

I haven’t had the time to update this blog since I started my first placement on this PGCE course.

It has been a mixed bag of emotions until this point and with four weeks left I hope it’s still going to go ok. There were times where I felt like giving it all in. I am an emotionally led person and it’s hard to remain logically minded when the lack of self-confidence, low self-esteem and anxiety rears its head. At times I had to get back into nature, outside of the brick walls, noise and constant challenges and just remind myself what I enjoy and what all of this is in aid of. I’ve set myself a goal, broken it down into smaller goals and just trying to achieve it bit by bit!

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I have learnt so much in such a short space of time, namely, what is right for me and what I want for me; so hopefully, I can make it all happen at some point in the future!

I wish I could tell you about all the fantastic things I’ve been up to but, honestly, its mostly been working in a school, writing lesson plans, creating lessons, assignment writing, visiting the cinema to relax and just generally working…

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I’ve some positives recently which I would like to share…

  • I’m confident my first assignment will pass, I thoroughly enjoyed researching the outdoor/adventure activity theories and have considered a Masters in the subject. Mortlock and Priest have resonated with me and I would like to explore the Adventure paradigm a lot more.
  • My Forest School Level 3 Leader/Practitioner training has been ratified, I just now need to wait a little while longer to be officially registered and receive my certificate then I will be a qualified leader.
  • I’ve taken some beautiful photos of North Wales recently, so am looking at photography training after this course to take better pictures.

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With only four weeks on this placement to go, I’m hoping the remaining weeks are going to be ok. The staff are sympathetic as P.E is not my knowledge base and they have been a wonderful help to me; I’m just looking forward to being in a centre next, being outside every day come rain or shine (or heavy North Wales snow!) climbing, walking, canoeing etc….

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– Just Joanne