It was a decade ago when I wrote a vignette about the life and times of 35 year old Katy in response to a ‘stereotype’ David Mc Williams created in his book ‘The Popes’ Children’. I happened to be 35 at the time of writing too and wore a pencil skirt, fake nails and lived in a duplex as per ‘stereotype.’ Go figure. I was lead back to it again recently when one of my clients jokingly nicknamed me Bridget Jones at work, for no other apparent reason than she thinks I resemble her. She may need glasses. However it did remind me of the intro to said piece when I compared myself to her, or more specifically that I possessed her same ‘inner narrator’.
Looking back, there are quite a few aspects that have changed. But firstly my attitude. I don’t know why I didn’t choose Carrie out of Sex and the City over Bridget Jones? I mean I watched it more, she was the one I most identified with (like every girl had their spirit spice girl, every woman had their spirit sex and the city girl, right? ). Being a magazine columnist was a fantasy I harboured and I related most to her end of episode inner findings! Perhaps though I did outwardly lack in the chutzpah and glam approach to life. Cosmo’s, pink tutus and heels by day were not really my thing, more tight jeans and converse by day or pencil skirt (obviously while working) and lbd and heels by night, a lot more conservative. Bridget, equally a writer, had a more humorous approach albeit clumsy but I certainly didn’t share her idiocy, well her taste in jumpers anyway. In retrospect I think it had either something to do with that old Irish tendency of self deprecation or something to do with that song ‘All by myself…'(My 30 something swan song) Perhaps it was a combo of both. My now attitude? Be the best you can be and then OWN it, American style!
Back then…written 2007…
Girl in a Pencil Skirt
What Katy did. 2007
She would not like to admit it but she would be akin to Bridget Jones, in ways. Her inner life functions similarly, a place she regularly checks in with. In BJ terms it’s the inner ongoing narrator, the voiceover to her life. It surveys the terrain, sizes up, accepts, discards, moans, celebrates, connives…it never stops…. carving out the way forward.
So what are the concerns of this ‘girl’?
Well she’s aware that she’s from generation X, long before she lay back on her Ikea leather sofa in her duplex apartment and indulged in a good Mc Williams read (The Pope’s Children etc)! She is single, not necessarily because she is flawed to the extent that she is prevented from engaging in a fully functional relationship but because it is a combination of it being her choice and because she is so choosy that she has left little choice. Due to a history of boyfriends that just weren’t bringing enough to the table to allow them a permanent ‘feet under’ fixture she chose instead to go it alone and achieve financial and house security and independence in the broadest sense. This did not feel in any way abnormal.
‘And what I wouldn’t give to meet a kindred…’
She was carried along and away by the girl-power movement, although had read Simon de Beauvoir long before that and admired the likes of Germaine Greer and Janet Street-Porter albeit she thought them a bit extreme. She championed the arrival of the Alanis Morrissette debut-album-wonder-revolution, singing it loudly in her car as though honing those survival muscles she would have to pull on in the future. As she learned, after the songstress, it would take grit to have grace. But for all that she never considered herself a feminist. Then again the above four spice girls probably started out as romantics too. Joining in on cat calls of ‘sisters are doing it for themselves’ and ‘don’t settle for second best’ one wonders did many of these women leave themselves high and dry?
Nevertheless the drive for self-sufficiency and independence outdid the one for partnership and babies. Basically she tired of that zone that girls entered into in their 20’s – mid 30’s where husbands were bagged and fourth fingers ringed. She wasn’t a real player. She eyed the institution of marriage with suspicion and there were no signs of broodiness of any description along the way, quite the contrary. No carrot essentially.No carrot no caret! Most of her earliest and most memorable relationships, her great loves in fact, were with foreign counterparts on her travels, back at a time when love letters were written. She did once endorse and go along with the search for ‘the one’ for quite some time but that concept became shelved due to it evolving into a Holy Grail saga that eluded her year after year. It is more of a grandiose notion now. It was not that she was about to coat her heart in a hard shell of bitterness and cynicism (that was the one pact she made with herself in the midst of her Camelot moments), besides too young for that. On the contrary, love matching was quite the ultimate challenge and a find more precious in her thirties. Gold dust in fact. Still trying to figure out exactly what she wanted from a relationship one thing for sure was it wasn’t an exact science and part of the discovery process involved experiencing what she didn’t want. So the goal posts were constantly changing.
Now in her post 35 years with hormones somewhat abated, men had unintentionally become close to obsolete in her life. She has mixed feelings about her present status. On the one hand she views single hood and being a ‘bachelorette’ (not yet in the dictionary?) emotionally eco-friendly and hassle-free but on the other she is slightly anxious that the flip-side of being a smug single (not always an easy role to maintain – single supplement city) means walking herself right into becoming a premature settled single (confirmed bachelorette status formally coined as ‘spinster’. ).
Either way on Monday morning she slips into her perfect size 10 pencil skirt like a queen into her customized corset, and crisp white shirt from Massimo Dutti, feeling purposeful and classy. That skirt makes her feel professional, on top of her game and in control.
Choices are ever abundant. Everyday presents itself with a new plateau of decisions, destiny the result of these decisions made. Self-advancement is the main raison-d’etre, (although some may call it self-pre-occupation). What to eat? What to drink? Where, when and with whom? What to wear? Where, when and with whom? What brand? What look? What colour? What T.V. series to follow religiously? What brand of make-up? What type of fake tan that looks the least fake? What car? What form of exercise? Where and how often? What career moves to make, academic level to reach? Wallpaper one feature wall or paint? What food? Organic or cheap? Where to holiday? Bulgaria? Adriatic coast or is Ibiza in? Should she choose a dog?… but is there a type low maintenance enough that would be duplex friendly? And besides it gives off an air of ‘eccentric girl lives alone with her pet’. If the garden doesn’t come with the duplex…the duplex will grow a garden. How many plants could she get into and surround her pad without it looking like the botanic gardens? At times she contemplates the man like she would a coffee table…but a two day visit from a sleek fit tiler leaves behind a sufficient whiff of testosterone strong enough to exert a bit of male endeavour on the place.
It all matters. It’s all part of her identity and gives her ample material to talk about. As religion is pretty much redundant in her life all these choices give her life meaning and shape in a cut and paste customized manner. When she wants a religious experience she hits the shopping centre, when she wants the pilgrimage – Dundrum. Having moved out of the club-scene where God presented himself as the D.J. she moved onto the consumer floor where he becomes a 50% off Karen Millen dress price tag. Oh. My. God!
On generation X
She values her vinyl collection, still stacked at her parents’ house, especially her 12” Blue Monday, what a gem! She takes great pride in being an 80’s child of the pre-computer age. Nostalgia is a recent thing. Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive – endless days and long hot summers, in the fields, rolling in the hay. She vividly remembers the arrival of the atari video game to the house and a dark day that was. That blister in the palm of her hand created by the outsized and cutting edge joy stick, interrupting the mind numbing game of space invaders. Space invader indeed. She still believes to an extent that that game was the spawn of the devil and that burn a testament to that. Blood-suckers were the lesser of the two evils.
In her teens she was fiercely passionate covering every inch of bedroom wall space with the band or movement du jour…from the new romantics (crying nightly over Andy Taylor of Duran Duran) to gothic…the Smiths, the Cure and Bunnymen (with accompanying attire). Records were bought religiously and early morning queuing for new album releases and concert tickets the outward sign of worship and devotion as was the chosen form of statement couture and attendance at the big stadium concerts.
We can be heroes, just for one day David Bowie
Next to replace the hero was Jack Keroauc and the beats. After realizing that Keroauc ended up dead in his forties, a wino, his hero status faded just like the jeans he promoted. However he is to be credited with being a pioneer…of the white t-shirt and jeans look, of hitchhiking, of writing without rules and saying it as it is and of romanticising a culture and lifestyle ‘on the road’. The position of hero flat lined after that as we were urged through various pop cultural media to become our own heroes and heroines. It has remained a situation vacant. One likes to have heroes and people to emulate but the road was open to becoming our very own role models. We could be heroes…just for one day!
She feels very much a product of her generation, daughter to the post-war babies who did it all by the book. By the time they finished questioning the institutions, the next generation were given full permission to reject them. They are re-writing that book, re-writing the rules, re-designing the future. They are also paying the price of having thrown away the security blanket the structures allowed but are willing to gamble with their freedom. There is no going back and it is too exciting and pioneering to have it any other way.
Fed on a diet of pop culture, which goes hand in hand with the generation X’ers identity, at times one wonders if you were to take the influence of pop culture out of the girl…would there be a girl at all?
Her best friend is her diasporic counterpart in NYC. A Sunnyside Queens immigrant, last of the group of the great Irish exodus in the early nineties. They met in ’94 when they were both 21 teaching English as a foreign language in Spain, having finished the degree and H-dip. 21, way to young to get a serious job at a time and in a country that produced graduates too young and travel or inter-railing was the prerogative. The world was our oyster. We were never really sure what we wanted, we just pursued whatever we were passionate about and kept changing the goal posts to suit ourselves. Travel was top of that list.
One goes Stateside and the other returns home. Now, after thirteen years in the states, five ‘hanging out’ in San Francisco and eight focused in NYC, her friend has reached the highest level in her job in 5th Ave. and in all yoga practices. Having moved onto marathon running, she eats sushi, drinks less than moderately an apple-martini or two at the weekend in her Irish local Maggie Maes and has developed, much to both their amusement, the curmudgeon NY temperament and a superiority complex about living in the ‘centre of the universe’. She misses their long conversations into the night to the tune of ‘having babies is so for the lower species’. Half in jest they provided the camaraderie and support in their mutual endeavour to cut a different groove and defy nature, becoming part of a new breed of women ‘too posh to conceive’ not to mind ‘push’. Having kids was not on their list of ‘things to do before you die’. And as she, a soulmate, in her parallel world has just reached the ‘shoes are not enough’ realization, the duplex, a year on, starts to lose its charm. The space starts to magnify in size, the rooms, unused and wanting, take on an empty-nest-vibe. The home décor project starts to become a chore and not the fantastic creative endeavour and delightful distraction it started out as. She thought it a find, got in when they were briefly giving out the 100% mortgage (which has risen 5 times in the last year) but now considers downsizing.
A house for one defies logic. And so, renting, the next stage, feels like a step backwards. The girl in a pencil skirt has to invent new ways of either using her space or her time as she moves over to let the stranger off the street into her home.
She observes carefully her friends who have opted for the 2.5 family lifestyle of choice but it holds no pull whatsoever. In fact it still represents to her ‘giving in’. In NY this Katy fits right in, in provincial Ireland, despite our growth spurt over the last 10 years, no-one quite knows where to put the decidedly-single-self-contained thirty something, who, with the amount of self-care administered, simply does not fit into the ‘on the shelf’ or ‘spinster’ category.
‘Looking out of dirty old windows…’
Now on the outskirts of Athlone, in suburbia, she sits out on her balcony listening to the sound of happily directed traffic on route to by-pass Moate on the new motorway. She wonders which direction she should take on her next outing…Galway or Dublin? She is well used to the sounds of the two Polish kids chase each other around the block for the umpth-teen time, sometimes joined by the well dressed but louder Nigerian kids, who tend not to mix.
She is one of the few Irish on her estate. It brings back memories of similarly sitting out on the deck in Sunnyside Queens on her yearlong career break stealing a quiet wistful moment between her 10hour-no-break-welcome-to-NY shifts where she was also figuring out the nationalities of the neighbours.
There is another thing in common with that memory. As momentous as it was being in what felt like the heart of it all, she had an unsettled feeling, a slight soul-ache, of not belonging. There she appeased herself with the fact that she had it better than her diasporic counterparts who were so long in the States that there was no returning to the homeland. They were rootless and she had the more attractive prospect of living the rest of her life comfortably close to her roots. It would mean being spared that soul-aching affliction she termed the ‘displacement complex’, the epidemic rampant among them.
But here in midland suburbia, five years on, that feeling of one up-man ship eludes her as she feels she doesn’t belong either, in fact she feels more disconnected. This disconnection is more accentuated as broadband hasn’t yet reached this part of Co. Roscommon. Apparently according to the 3G salesman, due to the rejection of the Lisbon treaty eircom are not getting the funding they need to allow them full national coverage and she’s located in an unconnected pocket. How did she arrive here? The urge to keep moving, to take a cheap ryan air flight on any random weekend is yet another preoccupation….and get the hell outta there!
‘And what it all comes down to is that I haven’t got it all figured out just yet’
What next for the girl in a pencil skirt then? Further up the career ladder? Acquire more letters after her ever-expanding name? Give in, go out and hook a husband with the 2.5 kid guarantee (although he might be on his second round at this stage) and invest in that endeavour (new gunas’, shoes makeovers and social engineering). Fulfill the dream of the big country home complete with trendy aga? Start an organic farm and enter a world of endless pleasurable gardening and batches of gingham-topped jars full of homemade jam?
What her inner narrator is not saying is ‘Eureka’ ‘J’ai arrive’ but instead is shouting ‘this is not IT’ ‘do not rest on your laurels here’ ‘it ain’t over yet’. It is not clear as to whether the girl outgrew the duplex or the duplex outgrew the girl. But one can’t help but wonder will she ever outgrow that pencil skirt?
What does Katy do next?
‘And what I wouldn’t give to meet a kindred…’ All I Really Want Alanis Morissette
‘looking out of dirty old windows’… Kids in America Kim Wilde
‘and what it all comes down to is that I haven’t got it all figured out just yet’ Hand in my Pocket Alanis Morrisette
What did Katy do next? 2016
So it’s been almost a decade. What has ‘Katy’ been up too? Did she study more? Hook the husband? Get the AGA? Start the farm? Make the jam even? And does she still have that size 10 pencil skirt let alone fit into it?
Last seen on a balcony in a duplex apartment on the Co. Roscommon side of Athlone listening to the sounds of foreign children playing, wishing herself on a cheap Ryan air flight. Here’s what Katie did next…
With flight still upper most on her mind, (and let’s face it in her dna too), a few summers on she has reached the point of not wanting to return to her apartment, of facing the ever mounting bills, a ruthlessly extortionate mortgage for one ( the fate of a very bad gamble and trust in criminal bankers )and unceasing salary cuts. A sinking fate, too much to sit with and accept. The voice of ‘settle down’ ‘root yourself’ ‘buy a house’ ‘invest’ just boils her blood now and she mentally batons it away Captain Caveman style. What use was any of that? No, not following dumb herds anymore. Gambling it all up again was not a difficult decision.
Fortune favors the brave. With that, a career break, apartment leased out, a new contract in the Middle East and not a cheap Ryan air flight but a proper seat on an Etihad one changed life for the better indeed.
The summer of 2013 was one of anticipation. Job, apartment and country all abandoned for the lure of a tax free salary. A new adventure to embark on and with it new avenues in an altogether diversely different culture.
Etihad, quite the upgrade from Ryan air and Aer Lingus was a welcome change from the trustee Irish duo. Freebies all the way and movies, quite the luxurious treat! It all starts with Etihad, the beginnings of the ‘velvet rut’. Being well used to the ‘rut’ feeling, she welcomed an upgraded one.
End of September and she was ready for that blast of heat and culture shock. A wave of heat met her off that plane as she touched down into the sandpit. It melted away all tensed up recession muscles making way for an all new feeling of wealth, warmth and comfort.
As Salam Alaykom. Welcome to the new world.
She totally uprooted herself and spent the best part of 2 years making money and exploring a new culture as well as meeting some life long friends. Emigrating didn’t actually dawn on her at that time and it took another 4 or so years but it definitely was the answer. Why? For one she found more of her own flock ‘out there’ (single self sufficients) There wasn’t much of that demographic in small town Ireland so she moved on and out among more of her kind. Secondly, the more obvious quest for a better life. There were very few voices around her that encouraged this move and she had her own self doubt about it too so fair play! It has been well documented that those who emigrate to up their game are the go-getters and a loss to their own country. A good theory.
She was in a predicament too regarding the man situation, not having enough hunger for the whole nine yards of marriage and babies and caught up in the stubborn determination to go it alone yet having the irrepressible need for a companion. Well, although she reluctantly signed up to online dating, she did, and after 3 years of eventful dating she met a very good match! And yes as she predicted he was on his second round, having had the marriage and kids. They make for a good companionship, have had their ups and downs but are now as the song goes ‘solid as a rock’, simply because they were ready for it. And he is that for her, a rock and a person who values her for who she is and allows her to be who she is. Her belief in finding what she was looking for resulted in a true find. And for him second time around proved to be a better fit. Magic can happen, even online! So yeah she busted a few beliefs and found her kindred (otherwise she could still be reading a book on that ikea sofa). She realized all she needed was that mutuality but still believed in staying with someone as long as it was good. So marriage, as it were, still, as an institution did not work for her. Her vows would be ‘we will stay together, support, love and enjoy one another… as long as the love and want is there. Another goal achieved though. Fair play!
Music, sadly, it’s almost an RIP situation. How important it was to her 3 and 2 decades ago. It has faded unfortunately this last decade and now she no longer pursues it like she used to (as in she can get through a day without having to listen to a certain set of songs to get inspired) She lets it find her, the same way she finds books, from the radio or other accidental random sources. But she has lost faith in the music industry. It just isn’t what it used to be. It’s become like the fast food industry; over processed and lacks any proper nutrition for the soul. She hasn’t even bothered downloading a tune. Her interest faded with CD’s. 2016, the year Bowie, Prince, Cohen among others died, all the greats basically fading out. She still belts it out in the car though to ‘oldies’ from her youth (all of the above and some)! Jazz suits her mood a lot more now, unless she is in the gym of course. Her interest in books though never faded, quite the contrary. The passion for music was somewhat replaced by a new passion and approach to food. Indeed it proves a more practical way to gain sustenance. A girl cannot live on a great song alone (as much as her earlier bohemian tendencies believed).
Her preoccupations have only slightly changed and the remaining get more focus but her attitude has tempered somewhat. She is still choosing wallpaper and mutual home décor has its own challenges (negotiating choice) but all domestic chores are made easier with two. The high mortgage is gone and lost its reign of terror. She didn’t get the big country house and is doubtful about it now as downsizing and maximising on less is really what she is about ( life and times of a recessionista). Big cold empty rooms are no longer attractive nor is wasted rent or high heating bills! Living abroad and through a recession finally taught her how to save and live minimally. No AGA either, another hoax fantasy, but she has made a few rounds of homemade jam and wine and it brings her great joy and comfort, as predicted! She is still in suburbia again albeit up north, closer to her spiritual home and away from the oppressing midlands (landscape wise). 20 minutes to an international airport, 20 to a city she loves and an hour and a half from home-place. Perfect for the need of now.
The plethora of choice still exists. What to eat, what to drink, where to travel to, what form of exercise to take, which brands etc. All this is much the same but who to do it with does not take up any airspace. It’s more fun now, less angsty and more home based. She is happy in her society of two and real friends and family are already in the bag. The social circle got downsized and in the main is virtual. The dog question has come up again too. To have or not to have, the continuing saga. Current Answer: No dog because of level of commitment and care. Scandalous really considering she is an animal lover and although can’t manage it herself espouses veganism. She does ask herself sometimes, perhaps after watching an easy-on-the-brain chick flick espousing the virtues of commitment, is she living her life somehow morally wrong with her non-committal-no-strings attitude? Does it make her less of a human? Perhaps it’s an inner slow shift from confirmed bachelorette status or a deep spinster wish. Why does it feel so right though?
She and her NY bestie have still remained besties through another decade of virtual corresponding, yearly meets including knocking out a bit of world travel together aka realizing dreams; Morocco, West Coast USA including a Grand-canyon road trip and Oman. They have the Camino on their to do list before 50! They have also both remained ‘childfree’ in so far as that choice was made long ago. No regrets. No room. No time. Life was full already and getting more comfortable, why change that? But the issue of biological clock ticking its last is topical. Hormones, bone density, muscle firming, end of an era are all of concern and new vocab to the mid 40 something. What is a pleasant change though is that people accept it and have stopped the hugely irritating and patronizing ‘ah your time will come’.It stopped in Ireland from about the age of about 37. With the Arabs it would not come. Middle Eastern women do not let age stop any baby dreams and continue to have healthy babies into their 50’s . Go figure. So they spoke to Katy in her mature 42 years with an expectation that one day she would be a mother. A refreshing change from the Western approach of ‘writing you off before you were finished (ovulating) but funny to me in that they didn’t think any women would ever consider NOT having babies (a reason I would not fit in well with their culture longterm either !) . They made her feel like a ripe little peach all the same!
But what about your pension?
Career wise she fluctuated between doing it for the money and opportunity to travel to doing it for the interest, belief and integrity. Basically she is not ‘all about it’ nor is she a career climber (more responsibility? are you wise?) but it is important and aside from paying the bills and allowing for travel experiences it’s the social outlet that is needed and it gives a sense of value, which is why the nature of the job is important to her. She likes to give back. One thing that marked the big change in career approach during this decade is that she listened to her inner screams, threw up the ‘permanent pensionable’ and felt confident to try out new and different avenues. She was never cut out for the country school for life. It would have been soul death by permanent job regardless of the disapproving fearful majority (‘But what about your pension?’). Ireland mid recession had to be left behind for good but she learned some hard lessons from it that would prove useful for the future. More grit for grace.
Choose to listen to inner voice
There are current pressures though. Not of the ‘will I won’t I meet someone?’ , ‘can I pay my mortgage this month? or ‘am I sure I don’t want a family?’ variety. Present day Katy lives under a new kind of pressure – zero living. I don’t mean having no life but pressure feeling she should subscribe more to a ‘ZERO living’ lifestyle. It’s on her conscience. Surely, now that she is aware of their dangers it’s time to quit the sugar, the alcohol, the processed foods, the chemical products, the dairy, the all kinds of living animals, the wheat, the gluten, the blue screentime…the list goes on. Especially as she has got older, hitting middle age when care of the body is vital. Lately it’s making her feel up against a wall, under pressure. It’s time to practice what she knows to be true, right? But this requires a high degree of discipline. She suffers from clean living envy and clean living anxiety but also restriction intolerance. The axiom ‘a little of what you fancy does you good’ and ‘everything in moderation’ suits her lifestyle better, but it feels guiltily like a cop out.
After all her various travels Facebook takes on a new level of significance and she spends more time on it keeping up with foreign friends. That’s her valid excuse. She does less twitter and has taken up Instagram. On the upside she loves the photo editing process, on the downside she gets involved in healthy eating groups and then feels threatened by them. It’s like they have become the food police and their Sunday posts of the weeks food prepped and carefully displayed in geometrically placed tubberware is not a movement she can identify with or easily fall into. No spontaneity allowed for these healthy eaters where the motto is ‘Fail to prep Prep to Fail’. She likes to decide at the very most two hours before dinner what she is having. And besides Sundays are for chilling and watching Midsummer murder double bills! She happily goes along with what God said about why he created the 7th day.To Chill!
It’s the era of the chia seed (where were they hiding out in the 80’s/90’s/noughties/3 years ago?), energy balls, protein shakes, the rise in protein enriched everything, superfoods, super smoothies, fermented food and where bread has become a bad word as opposed to the ultimate traditional home comfort food it once was. She feels for Weetabix, left on the shelf, who have slapped a big PROTEIN ENRICHED on its’ packet to encourage plummeting sales due to the ‘Weet'(bad) word. Porridge is back in fashion as oats regain their superior status are ride the wave of the keep fit movement. Fat has also made a comeback. Binge drinking has long gone replaced by a daily drudge of getting the expected 2-3 litres of water into your system. Outside of the 9-3 work schedule (she teaches) daily life is work in making sure you have taken in and expended the right amounts of energy, consumed enough liquids, nutrients, vitamins, taken your 5 a day and 46% recommended protein. She not only works towards fitness but works on each body part separately (legs day, arms day, abs day, cardio day, strength and conditioning day) and finally yoga or something to relax, stretch and find your Zen to day. Then God said you can have a rest day and Sundays became like a perfect haven. Chilling out – the new hedonism.
Life is still, if not more, a myriad of choice. Cracking it, Katy discovered, is in making those choices, keeping them few and sticking to them. That makes for an ‘easier’ life. Although there may be an element of drudge and soulless automation about all this healthy pursuit, it really is worth it. How you feel becomes the crux of how you enjoy your life and the belief that beauty does come from the inside out, from what you put into your body, the way you feel, to the nature of the thoughts you have. PMA is an almost forced daily practice, again a little too much pressure from social media to ‘live life to the max’ while reciting positive affirmations. But with it come creative ways of getting all the good stuff inside. Food and beliefs. It’s the health and happiness crazed 10’s, and bottom line it’s all for the pursuit of the elixir of life, the eternal desire to live forever. It’s nothing new, the Tuatha de Danann were at it in ancient times with their Tir na n-og , the Chinese, the Egyptians… We should all have a bit more Leonard Cohen in us though, accept our mortal coils and just ‘dance till the end of love.’
So in the last decade some dreams have come true (more travel experience, heavy mortgage lifted, life partner found, a healthier version of self maintained) some have been edited (house size has become more practical, best selling novelist has become a blog post every now and then) and some remain (the organic farm -chickens and some veg would do) house location (not quite there yet)). There is always a need for CPD in career, which is good news. There is no end point in career or in life long learning. Big gasp of relief! Although Katy likes to think of it as more to do with following a sense of life purpose which is constantly evolving, as long as efforts are made and growth sought. There are always new options including self-employment to aspire to.
Choose what works
I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains
I looked to the children, I drank from the fountain.
There’s more than one answer to these questions
pointing me in a crooked line.
And the less I seek my source for some definitive,
the closer I am to fine. The closer I am to fine.
One of Katie’s wisdoms born out of this decade is the belief that we adapt to our situations and our times and it’s in how well we do this and in how well we manage our expectations that is directly related to our happiness quotient. Nourishing and using our own inner resourcefulness is probably our greatest asset (past generations were better at it). She feels more passionate about this gradual lesson in life and strongly believes that education needs to address this more, to teach and nurture qualities as opposed to abstractions. Success and her learned belief about it (coming from past generation)had to change too to fit with herself. The success yardstick is a personal one and in wise words of Bruce Lee on the matter ‘Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it’. Enough said.
Note to younger Katy (35) : You did good. Took you some time but you got there. But in your struggles in this decade you learned many things and still got to indulge your adventurous nature; flexibility, adaptability, the ability to take risks, responsibility of yourself travelling alone in another continent( even taking 3 weeks out in Nepal to volunteer teach the little Monklets up in the Monastery nestled in the mountains of Kathmandu), maintaining a home bought and essentially living between a few countries. You also learned about your own boundaries and are constantly learning to trust and appreciate yourself. You didn’t settle for second best. You really got out there and answered your true calling, as you are not a home bird. This bird was meant to fly! The doubt about your choice of career has lifted and you are grateful for one that enabled you to fly and continue to make it work for you. Plus you got your masters…more letters after your name!
Note to older Katy (55): Hope you fulfil more travel dreams and hope you keep gaining confidence in yourself and what you wish for. Be part of the movements that speak to you. Play your part. Stay motivated, don’t get complacent. Keep digging for gold, find your own and don’t get swayed by fools gold or bogged down with choice. Hope you get through ‘the change’ ok and it’s not such a big hormonal storm! Stay true to yourself and give give give whenever you can. Nothing is ever lost that way, only gained.
Oh and as for that pencil skirt? It found its’ way many years ago to the charity shop. But the good news is that you remained a size 10. With all of that weekly working out and minding your food? Too darn tootin right! At least some things haven’t changed 🙂
Soundtrack to this decade
The Indigo Girls ‘Closer To Fine’.