Tag Archives: community

Home is where the heart is

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So, I sit in the latest cafe to open in my home town, Petersfield, pondering on the welcoming atmosphere redolent of freshly ground coffee and delicately spiced home-made cakes, and artistic way the owners have displayed their goods to reflect the name of the cafe: The Natural Apothecary. There are couple of people discussing business development over a frothy cappucino, a mother and daughter planning a wedding and me, just kicking back and enjoying the freedom to sit, think and observe.

It is now some months since I handed in my notice – following my tightly-knotted gut which was telling me that the life of long days and long knives that I was leading would not end well. I had no plan, just a feeling. But us women of a certain age learn to trust their feelings. Mine was telling me that the world is changing, and that the ruthless pursuit of profit and material wealth is not only damaging the planet, but also our psyche. I see people embracing a more simple life and reconnecting with nature and communities, both in cyberspace and in their immediate surroundings. I want to be part of that movement.

I am still working part time (and from home) for my old company, for which I am very grateful. It is keeping the wolf from the door while I explore opportunities and the job market closer to home.  I have been concentrating my search for work in the charity, not for profit and educational sectors, and have had a number of interviews. I remain optimistic and hopeful that the perfect role is waiting for me, and that there is a reason that I have not so far been “successful”.

I feel successful: I am volunteering with Community First East Hampshire, meeting new friends and creating a network at long last. I continue to look after my health by eating healthy, organic vegetables from the wonderful Riverford Farm box scheme, cycling back and forth to town along the River Walk (please note any town planners: we need more cycle routes in our towns) and rather too occasionally working out at the gym.

I have started up a Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/HealthyBodyImageImaginingYourselfHealthy to share articles, links and thoughts about achieving a healthy, happy and worthwhile life. I have had the fortune to meet some really inspirational bloggers on here to whom I can direct people for guidance, ideas and entertainment. I have been excited by the sense of connectedness I am getting from the online communities of which I am a part, but also from my own local community.

Whilst sipping my healthy energiser juice at the cafe, I spotted a card advertising a new website promoting Petersfield: http://www.lovepetersfield.co.uk/. There really is so much to offer in this ancient market town, and I would love to help to encourage people to come and visit it, to enjoy the fact that it still has a heart, a thriving market square, unique shops which do not appear on every high street and shopping mall all over Europe, excellent cafes, restaurants and pubs full of original art and live music – what is not to love?

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Still in search, but seeing light

It has been some time since I last wrote on this blog. I have been really busy reading, researching and trying to marshall my thoughts into some kind of plan of action. I cannot believe how fast my days go now, and how little I achieve!

My last official day of being a wage slave was 17 August, but since then I have been some work on a freelance basis. I have applied for a handful of jobs, including one as a fundraising administrator for a charity which provides sailing experience for young people on Tallships. My baby brother went on a week-long expedition with them before he joined the Navy, and had the time of his life learning how to deal with tricky situations and working as a team with a large group of people. This is something I would dearly love to be a part of, even if only for a short while (it is maternity cover).

Having signed up for numerous job searches and recruitment agencies, I am pretty aware that jobs in the areas I would like to work are few and far between. I have therefore started planning to market myself as a small business support firm for businesses in the local area. I have never considered myself an entrepreneurial person. In fact, I have spent my life so needy of security that the very idea of setting myself up (to fail, as I would always qualify that statement) would induce a panic attack. However, I am in a different place now, and I think I have skills, experience and ideas gained in my years in the City which could be put to good use to help local companies whose own skills lie elsewhere.

I have a couple of good friends and members of my family who are being really helpful in terms of advice and support about the practical aspect of working for yourself, and I am trying to make sure I have everything ready in the next three months, if not before. I have just worked out that of my immediate family (siblings, half-siblings and their partners, numbering 10), only my husband, my brother (the submariner) and my brother in law are salaried!

If job-hunting and setting up a business were not enough to keep me occupied, I have also been knocking around some ideas for a wellbeing forum or charity. This idea came to me after my positive experience on a weight loss programme which as an online community – we lovingly call it Fatbook. Along with the 30+ pounds I have lost, I have gained some virtual friends who have become closer than some of my real friends. Indeed, a number of us are crossing from virtual to real by arranging to meet up. The level of mutual support, encouragement and wisdom which is available on the blogs and profiles is mind-boggling, and I have watched us blossom as people, shedding our neuroses and inhibitions along with pounds, becoming everything we can be, but have always been to afraid to be in case we drew attention to ourselves.

I am convinced that this kind of support network is what we are missing in our modern society with its nuclear families and commuter/dormitory town demographic. New technology and social networks are allowing virtual communities to spring up across borders, which is hugely exciting. Why not try and use these mew media to attract people, nurture them, support them and entertain them?

So, still very much in the dark, but there are chinks through which light is seeping, and I am hoping a little more work will finally illuminate my path to a useful life.Image


The Domino Effect…

The Domino Effect…

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This delightful little bird is the house martin (pic ref:House Martin – Delichon urbicum – Bæjasvala |Source=[http://www.flickr.com/photos/omarrun/5791311803/ House Martin – Delichon urbicum – Bæjasvala] * Uploaded by Snowmanradio ). We are fortunate enough to have been chosen by a nesting menage a trois to host a nest. Yes, three house martins have set up home on our soffits, and in the space of a couple of days they had built the neatest little hemispherical clay nest hanging precariously beneath our roof.

A few days after our threesome had completed their mud hut, another pair rebuilt the nest on our neighbours’ house which had been destroyed when their soffits were repaired last year. A few weeks have passed, and now every morning we are woken by the gentle chirruping and gurgling noises (see video at link  in the title above) from the nest just outside our bedroom window.  The eggs must have hatched, because the noise levels have increased, as has the frantic to-ing and fro-ing of the adults bringing tidbits for the babies.

Why the domino effect? Another of our neighbours knocked on our door a few weeks ago to give us an article on how house martins rear their broods. She said that she spends happy hours watching the birds swooping in and out of their nests, and she thought we would be interested. We read the article, and something stopped me from putting it in the recycling bin afterwards.

Then this week I had a day off to visit the doctor, and as I decided to knock on my next door neighbour’s house and give her the article. I took the opportunity to tell her that I would be around a lot more now that I have quit my City job, and to say that we would have to have coffee when I have worked my notice period.  She is on maternity leave and her husband is on a tour of duty, so will also be at home more than usual.  So that article is literally helping me to open doors and discover my local community which I have been too busy with my long working hours and four hour commute to even be aware of, let alone enjoy!


Person in search of a purpose…

So… My first blog on WordPress, and the start of my journey to a new, productive and creative life.

I am driven not by a passion for writing, although I have always enjoyed expressing myself, and have spent many years drafting dry technical documents professionally, but by a need to find a focus for my creativity. I would also love to take advantage of the wonderful opportunity provided by the web to connect with people across the globe, to share views and gain new perspectives.

Mainly, though, I am looking for a purpose, and a living, having just left London behind me after 30 years of living or working (or both) there. I started to see beyond the brittle shiny facade to the cracks in the mortar holding up the City, the rot undermining its foundations, and decided it was not a healthy place to be.

I have been yearning for a community, based not on  ambition for material wealth, but rather for a shared vision of a healthy, happy environment which sustains and enriches the lives of every individual in it.

A pipedream? A romantic, perhaps naive diversion from life’s hard realities? Perhaps. If that is proven to be the case, I will share the disappointment, and my shamefaced skulk will be a public as well as a painful one.

But I sense deep in my bones that change is afoot, and I want to have the time and energy to share it, participate in it and revel in it. Let’s face it, the world we live in now is sick, but not yet moribund. It needs people everywhere to reconnect with the simple things of life which bring joy to our lives: love, food, water and natural beauty.

The drive to seek ever more extreme thrills and wealth hides a poverty of spirit which is blind to the rich experience of small things deeply experienced: the intricate weft and warp of our everyday lives. The sweet breath of a sleeping babe, the brush of a warm Summer breeze fragranced with honeysuckle, the swelling pride in the achievements of your child or your team.

I hope that others will join me on my journey to a more fulfilled life, and I will try and be honest in documenting the disappointments as well as the successes. I know that going public like this is a risk, especially for someone who has long been far too concerned with status and success, but I know that it will also keep me focussed and I hope I will develop links with others so we can help support each other virtually to develop communities in the physical world too.
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BY BETHANY

enhancing life through the power of plants

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