Homes, Memories, Hair and Feelings…

“A cottage, surrounded by trees with a stream nearby. Like one I used to know.”

This line from the animated movie “A Flight of Dragons” sums up what I am looking for in a house. I want something warm and cosy. Homely and close to Nature in all her glory. A place that I can grow old in and leave to my children.

I watch “Grand Designs” with a mixture of envy and admiration for those who can afford to drop all their money into building the home of their dreams. Admiration because as a designer, I know how much hard work, stress and fear there is involved with that big a project. I feel the envy because they are getting the home that they wished and dreamed for.

TOH gets depressed when he watches shows like “Grand Designs” and “Location, Location, Location”.

I think it’s because he’s feeling more envy than admiration.

My friend moved recently. She had all sorts of trials and tribulations to be able to do it, but she finally managed to move to a gorgeous house in the mountains, surrounded by trees…

…And yes, I am seriously jealous. However, I am also proud of her. She worked hard to get that house, and will work harder still to keep it. That’s her way.

So, as I sit here and look around my cramped and cluttered rented house, I begin to wonder if I will ever get my dream cottage?

 * * *

I have to admit, I’m not exactly the most ambitious person in the world and I find it difficult to motivate myself to chase after any of my dreams. Even writing can be difficult to motivate myself to pursue, despite having set foot on the publishing ladder with Pfoxchase.

I regularly need nagging to get all sorts of jobs done – housework, job hunting, finishing craft projects – to name just a couple of them. I’m just not a driven person. I float along in a dream world, stories and characters flitting through my head, begging to be written about. Most of them get tired of nagging me and go bother other writers instead.

Is there something wrong with me?

When I was a teenager, I set myself some goals. Now please bear in mind, I was sixteen when I set these and I didn’t know a great deal, especially about how the world worked…

  • Have a Career.
  • Get Married.
  • Buy a House.
  • Have Children.
  • Become a Published Author.

Now, I’m thirty-seven in October. I’m still young in age terms and I have a great deal more to do and experience before I decide to give up on life. When I wrote the goals down from my sixteen-year-old self, I laughed at that girl’s naivety.

So far this is how life has really happened –

  • Had Children – They are lovely and I wouldn’t be without them or their father.
  • Started a Career – I haven’t finished with it yet!
  • Became a Published Author – I’ve had short stories published, I’ve self published my own book and I’ve been snapped up by a publishing company. It’s only the start, but it is a good one!

Two of my five life goals haven’t been managed yet.

  • Getting married – requires money and a man who actually wants to be married.
  • Buy a House – Just requires Money. More than I can actually visualise having actually.

The sad thing is, I can’t see those last two ever happening.

Don’t get me wrong, I love TOH to pieces and would never leave him, but something inside of me feels incomplete. I don’t know what it is, if I did, I’d be able to fill in the hole. Is it marriage? How am I supposed to tell unless I try it?

Buying a house… well, unless we win the lottery, I can’t see it happening at all. Neither TOH or I make enough money to do more than pay the bills and we can’t afford to save for a mortgage at all. Let alone buy a place like the one that I described.

* * *

We watched “Tangled” the other day.

“Tangled”, for the information of those without children, is the Disney version of Rapunzel. This is the latest movie and the 50th Disney Classic.

The story line is actually fairly close to the original Brothers Grimm story. The animators have managed to include the classic Disney hand drawn style with the modern CGI in a way that make the film unique.

However, I’m not talking about it just because I love the movie. There is an incantation in the movie that struck me right to the heart of what’s been bothering me recently.

Healing Incantation

Flower gleam and glow
Let the power shine
make the clock reverse
bring back what once was mine

Heal what has been hurt
change the Fate’s design
save what has been lost
bring back what once was mine,
what once was mine

When I think about my dream house – “A cottage, surrounded by trees with a stream nearby. Like one I used to know.”  – I see a blurry version of the house I grew up in.

In dreaming about owning a house with trees around it, am I really dreaming about recapturing my childhood?

In wanting to get married, am I trying to compensate for my parent’s divorce?

Is that hole inside me the product of losing my childhood in the way I did and my parents splitting up?

Unlike Rapunzel in the film, I can’t “make the clock reverse” or “save what has been lost”. I certainly can’t “bring back what once was mine” – I have to accept those things happened to me and move on with my life.

So do I need to fill the hole up at all?

How well do you know yourself?

When I was a teenager and deciding about university, a friend of my mum’s suggested that I take a Year out before I went, to find myself. His suggestion was to go travelling, to “Find Myself”.

I didn’t…

…go travelling, I mean. I often wonder what it would have been like if I’d maxed out my credit card and got a loan and just done it.

However, I didn’t do it and my life took a different route.

I found out about myself in a different way. I suppose I also lost a few things about myself along the way. I’m starting to find them again… but am I too late for that?

I watch my daughter dancing to Abba (she loves singing, dancing and Mamma Mia) and I wonder… am I doing the right thing for her?

When it comes to the point where she and my son want to go find themselves, will I have the guts to support them and let them do it?

Does it matter if they follow their dreams first before they settle down?

Or should I insist that they do something Practical and learn the hard lessons of life first?

* * *

My favourite Abba song is I have a Dream. The lyrics are wonderful, they sum me up in so many ways and make me cry or laugh depending on the mood I’m in. Either way, the hair on the back my neck stands up when it is sung well.

Apologies for the image…

And no, I don’t do a good rendition. Don’t even ask…

What started all this introspection off?

Well, I read this on Kim Koning’s Blog today:

There are people who put their dreams in a little box and say, “Yes, I’ve got dreams, of course I’ve got dreams.” Then they put the box away and bring it out once in a while to look in it, and yep, they’re still there. These are great dreams, but they never even get out of the box. It takes an uncommon amount of guts to put your dreams on the line, to hold them up and say, “How good or how bad am I?” That’s where courage comes in.  – Erma Louise Bombeck

I was intrigued, purely because I have recently been questioning what I should do, with (what is, after all), my life. So I read on a little further.

Kim wrote:

They say Friday the 13th is a bad day in the luck department. I have decided to fight against common thought and turn it into good luck. 13 has always been a lucky number for me. This year, Friday the 13th, May 2011 is incredibly significant.

Friday the 13th, May 2011 my job description changed to:

Full Time Writer / Author

A year ago I decided that by 2012 I would be a full-time writer with at least 1 story published. The story is busy being published in Tales for Canterbury as I write this. I also decided in January this year that one of my goal-resolutions would be to go full-time writing this year. As of 13th May, I can tick that goal off my list.

After much thought and contemplation, I decided to put my goals on the line and go full-time writing. This was not done lightly nor was it done alone. I have the support of an incredible family and amazing friends behind me. I also have the wider support network of some amazing online writer friends. 

It struck a chord inside me (it didn’t help that PT was watching Mamma Mia at the time and singing along to I have a Dream) and I started thinking. Have I really been following my dreams?

To be able to answer that, I need to look at what they actually are.

When you’re a kid you dream about being an adult and doing what you want. You say to yourself, “When I’m a big girl of 5 / 10 / 16 / 18 / 21 (delete as necessary) I’ll be…”

This is the bit I always had trouble with.

I can remember wanting to be a Ballerina after watching The Nutcracker on TV, wanting to be a Policewoman / Teacher / Librarian – they were interchangeable depending on what mood I was in.

Then when I became a Cadet in the ATC (Air Training Corp) I wanted to be a fast Jet Pilot – I was addicted to Top Gun – but a trip to the Ophthalmologist’s put paid to that.

Books were my refuge and I’d already decided that I wanted to be a Writer long before the Fast Jet Pilot thing. However, every adult I talked to gave me the “You need to put away childish dreams and focus on reality” talk.

The only one who didn’t was my Mum, but she also didn’t know how I could manage it. Piers Anthony encouraged me, but he said, “You need to learn the craft first and that could take a while. Go get a job to fund it and practise in every spare minute.”

So I went to Uni and tried to do what he suggested. Turns out, I had chosen the wrong course. I’ve been bumbling along ever since. I know why of course. 20-20 Hindsight and all that…

I didn’t set myself any Goals.

When we set goals, we are in command. Clearly understood goals bring our lives into focus just as a magnifying glass focuses a beam of light into a burning point. Without goals our efforts may be scattered and unproductive. – Ezra Taft Benson

I’ve been a Writer now, since I was fifteen – something I didn’t recognise until recently! In the last fifteen years or so, I have been through a lot of different things and tried different jobs.

None of them makes me feel as happy or fulfilled as writing does. Even Teaching (which I enjoy doing) doesn’t cause this much of a smile when I think about my past. I’ve had a fair few stories published and I know enough about the business to self publish as well.

My Dream isn’t to be a writer; it’s to make a living as a Writer and entertain people with my stories – be they Audio, Print, Electronic or even made into films, be they animated or otherwise.

I’m 36 this year. I have added my contribution to the Human Race in the form of PT and NOS (I’d be happy to add more, but that’s up to Mother Gaia) and although I have to support them, surely I am allowed to be happy in myself?

Looking at it from another point of view, I’m supporting TOH while he follows his Dream and retrains to become an Illustrator / Animator / Computer Games Character Designer (he hasn’t exactly decided which way to go yet!)

So why shouldn’t I do the same?

Now I’m unemployed as a Teacher. I’ve been working in my spare time as a Writer (not being paid much for it though) and doing the occasional voluntary and supply position to keep my teaching hand in, so why shouldn’t I make the leap too?

Yes, I know all the practical voices start screaming…

  • You need to keep a roof over your head
  • You need to keep money coming in regularly to feed the bills and family.
  • You have to be practical and sensible.
  • You are the Mother, you need to be a good role model to your Children

STOP!

Sorry for shouting, those voices tend to be rather loud when they get going. Let’s tackle them one at a time and rationalise this…

Practical Voice One: You need to keep a roof over your head

Yes, this and number two are essentials. Nevertheless, why can’t I work Supply three days a week? That would cover those… I can always work more or less, according to what I need to pay for.

Practical Voice One & Two – But you can’t do that, you’d lose benefits and so on and so forth…

Would I? Do I really know that?

Practical Voice One & Two – Um, no, not really… we’re not sure…

Well then – that gives me something to look into.

*makes a note*

What’s next?

Practical Voice Three: You have to be practical and sensible.

Do I? Why?

Practical Voice Four: You are the Mother, you need to be a good role model to your Children.

What’s a better Role Model? A confident woman, doing exactly what makes her happy, or, a depressed woman stressing about not being in a decent job?

I know what I think… what about you?

Practical Voice Three & Four – Um… well….damn it you are not supposed to twist words like that!

Why not? I’m a Writer. Words are my business. They help me to teach and they help me to work as a writer. So I’d say it’s up to me to make them say what I want then to say.

*All the Practical Voices Fade away muttering unhappily*

So, now what?

Make the Goals of course!

*Wanders away singing to herself…*

Thanks to Kim Koning for the inspiration…