Day 23 of the National Blog Post Month challenge where I’m writing a blog post every day along the theme of 30 Steps to Happiness and Contentment.
Do you ever feel like everything’s an uphill struggle? Does it seem like everything you do goes wrong and nothings going right?
As I look back over the last 25 years or so of my adult life, I can see a pattern forming. There are times when everything seems to be going fairly smoothly and there are other times when everything I try just seems to go wrong.
We are faced with lots of choices in life. Sometimes we choose to go a certain path, but try as we might to follow this path, obstacles keep getting in our way. Life is full of trials and difficulties and I think part of our purpose is to find ways of overcoming these obstacles. But, there are times when we have to accept that maybe we’re following the wrong path. Maybe we need to change route and by doing so everything will start to run smoothly again. This is what I mean by ‘go with the flow’. If everything is going smoothly and you seem to be making progress, run with it. But, if it feels like everything's an uphill struggle, maybe it’s time to change tack and choose a different path.
The first time I experienced this was when I was in my late teens. I left home at 19 to live with my boyfriend Gary (who I married a few years later). He’d got a job starting up a nursery in Surrey (we were both from Kent). The job came with a flat – it seemed the ideal start for us. I gave up my office job in London and we both moved to Surrey to start our new life together.
The day we woke up to move, Gary was feeling really ill and I had to drive us the 1 ½ hour journey to our new home. Perhaps we should have taken this as an ill omen, but it was a new opportunity for us, so we decided we just had to try and make the most of it.
We arrived at our ‘flat’ which turned out to be ... well little more a barn really. It was a room above a stable. It had a kitchen (of sorts). The cooker was an old electric thing which was really fierce. It wasn’t until sometime later when I had a proper cooker that I realised that I wasn’t as bad a cook as I thought I was. (Not sure what Gary thought of the burnt offerings he was dished up in the early days, but then he was so ill he probably didn’t hardly notice). The sink had running water, but wasn’t plumbed in, so when I let out the water it went into a bucket which I had to remember to empty downstairs in the drain. I can’t tell you how many times I’d pull the plug out of the sink and then get that sinking feeling (excuse the pun) when I realised the bucket was full!
We had no bathroom – we had to go to the owners house for baths, which was guarded by 2 fearsome looking boxers. We had a chemical loo – how pleasant, which was shared by the people employed to help Gary at the nursery. That was a lovely experience emptying (definitely Gary's job).
The main room was quite large and a bit shabby (dirty shabby, not shabby chic). All it housed was a bed and a table and chairs (nothing else), except a pair of velvet curtains on the floor by the window. When I picked up the curtains they fell to bits in my hand as they were riddled with mouse holes. We obviously had a bit of a rodent problem. That first night we set up some mouse traps that Gary's boss (the owner) had so thoughtfully left out for us. We didn’t get much sleep that night and it wasn’t for the reasons you would normally think a young couple would not get much sleep on their first night living together. No, the traps were going off all night (and anyway Gary was far to ill for anything amorous).
It wasn’t a great start, but we’re not ones to give in easily, so we persevered. Gary worked really hard every day to build up the nursery. He was really ill and every evening he’d just come in and collapse in bed. Not the romantic start we’d planned really. It turned out Gary had glandular fever, so it was a miracle he managed to do anything at all.
I got a job at a local removals company and Gary worked hard (despite his illness) to get the nursery off the ground. He employed staff as requested by his boss. We started making friends in the area. It wasn’t all bad, but there were many things that seemed to go against us.
We had a nasty run in with Gypsies “We’re from Surrey Highways, we have a bit of tarmac left over and we noticed you have a few holes in the drive. Would you like us to fill them in for you.” “Oh that’s very kind of you, yes just the big holes”. 2 hours later we go back to find they’ve tarmacked the whole drive and want paying more than a few thousand for it! After a meeting between “the lads” and the owner (who was pretty fearsome herself), they came to an agreement. A few nights later, we’re just about to get into bed and Gary hears some bangs outside. He gets dressed to see what’s going on (despite my pleas not to). Good thing he did because he discovers our car's on fire and he calls the fire brigade. The police arrive and we tell them we’ve had some trouble with Gypsies. Hmmm strange, there’s been a few mysterious cars fires in the area, but of course that’s as far as it goes....
Anyway, we claimed on the insurance and it paid off the loan, but because there’s a penalty for paying the loan off early we ended up with not enough to buy another car. My Mum very kindly lent me her car until we could save for another. A few weeks later and I’m driving to work along a country lane in the rain. The road narrows and there’s a lorry coming the other way. I put my foot on the brake and before I know what’s happening the car’s spinning It does a full 180 degree turn and ends up in the ditch on it’s side facing the opposite direction. I’m hanging there on my side with all the glass shattered around me. The lorry driver stops and lifts me out of the car.window. I shake my jumper and shattered glass falls to the floor and yet I have not a scratch on me. What a lucky escape, but I’m really shaken up and the car is a total write off!
There were other things going on too. Gary’s sister had a serious motorbike accident and was in hospital so we had to travel back to Kent every week to visit her and at the same time a friend’s boyfriend got tragically killed at their engagement party (which we had attended). These are just a couple of examples of the catalogue of events that happened to us in our first 6 months of living together.
The final straw for Gary was when his boss decided to lay off all the workers that Gary had employed for her and it was down to him to do it. He resigned, we moved out and all we could afford to rent was a bedsit in Guildford town centre. It was miserable. A tiny room in the attic of a tall building with shared bathroom. We had no money, but we did have each other and that’s what kept us going. In the end we decided to admit defeat. It felt that no matter what we did things kept going wrong and so we decided to move back to Kent and try a different path.
This time everything fell into place. We immediately found a cheap flat to rent next door to my parents Hotel in Folkestone, I found a job for an Insurance company at the end of the road, Gary quickly got a job too and within a few months we had the opportunity to buy the flat we were renting at a bargain price. At last, it seemed, we were on the right path again.
This was an important lesson for me and I suppose I was lucky enough to learn it quite young in life. I don’t give in easily but if it seems as though nothing’s going right and whatever I try goes wrong I’ll rethink my position and change the direction I’m going and (so far) I've found that it works every time.
You may be interested to read the other posts in this series:
Step 30 - The Key to Happiness and Contentment
Step 29 -You are the master of your own destiny
Step 28 - Don't give up on a good relationship
Step 27 - Don't Judge , Live and let live
Step 26 - Don't Worry, by happy
Step 25 - Never give up
Step 24 - Get by with a little help from your friends
Step 23 - Go with the Flow
Step 22 - Enjoy the moment
Step 21 - Love what you do
Step 20 - Forgive and Forget
Step 19 - Unconditional giving
Step 18 - Smile and the world smiles with you
Step 17 - Work to live, don't live to work
Step 16 - Surround yourself with Positive People
Step 15 - Always look on the bright side of life
Step 14 - Where there's a will there's a way
Step 13 - Silence is Golden
Step 12 - Feed your Soul
Step 11 - Follow your Dreams
Step 10 - Use your time wisely
Step 9 - Don't be too hard on yourself
Step 8 - Consider what you value most
Step 7 - Find time for Yourself
Step 6 - Make time for Family and Friends
Step 5 - Don't take yourself too Seriously
Step 4 - Feel the Fear and do it Anyway
Step 3 - Love what you Hate
Step 2 - There's no such word as CAN''T
Step 1 - Find the Best in Every Day