Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Where do you draw the line when it comes to another's happiness?

So here's my dilemma. The OH has been offered a job which he really wants to do. Normally I am all for him being happy in what he does especially at work which occupies five out of seven days most weeks! Who wouldn't be?

My first feeling of unease came about when I discovered that because of the nature of the

Photo is by Henning

job, he will have to be office based. Ever since we had the children over four years ago, he has been a home worker which has been a marvellous sense of support. Although moving to an open-plan style barn did mean it had its challenging moments from time to time as he could not just shut the door to stop interruptions from the girls!

Yes it will be different but in many ways I can live with that because I believe he will be happier. So what am I wrestling with you might well ask? The role happens to be top secret which means he has to be security vetted. This means he has to fill in pages of information not just about himself but about me, our siblings and our parents. One question which particularly got to me was the one in which we had to declare whether or not we had loaned a thousand pounds or more to anyone in the last five years. The level of detailed information that they require about our financial affairs is incredible and I want to be able to say that's enough already. Instead I am being the dutiful wife and digging up the information he requires to get clearance. All I can say is I hope it is worth it!

So that brings me to this week's question for you: when do you say enough is enough especially when your actions could impact on the happiness of another? Put it another way what compromises do you make to ensure harmony in key relationships such as a marriage/ long term partnership?

Friday, 22 October 2010

The beauty of doing nothing

Probably because I am on my first girly weekend since I do not know when, I feel inspired to write this post and to keep it short as the whole aim of this weekend is to chill, have fun and eat too much!

So when did you last take some time out for yourself? How often do you find yourself stressing about work, spending whatever free time you have with your children or your partner? If you are anything like me you also play an active role in your community because that is important to you too. It can mean that most of your week day evenings are taken up in some form or other and if you are lucky you have time for your partner on a Friday or Saturday night. That is if you are not out there socialising with friends or doing some other hobby at the weekend or just spending quality time with the family.

When this happens it can feel that our time is accounted for between the role of partner, friend, mother, work colleague. If we do not actively build in time for ourselves or as the Italians say perfect the art of doing nothing "bel far niente" then we can find ourselves running on empty. Or what's even worse feeling guilty when we do have some time to ourselves or overcome with exhaustion when we finally stop! I know I have been there.

If you live in an Anglo-Saxon culture then it is quite likely that you have been bitten by the work ethic and feel the need to keep busy. If this is your mantra then the beauty of doing nothing will probably seem alien and the ability to seek pleasure virtually impossible.

So if you recognise this in yourself and it is not giving you what you want, make the decision to change something. I can recommend going to Paris with a couple of good friends for the weekend, chilling out and eating gorgeous food. It's great for the soul and you know what I bet you will come back invigorated and with a new lease of life! And you don't have to go to that extreme, you could start by taking a glass of your favourite tipple, pouring a hot bath full of gorgeous bubble and a good book and lose yourself for an hour. Do let me know how you get on...

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Dirty Sexy Money

There are those in life that measure success in terms of their material wealth and others for whom this is less of a factor. So what you may say? This post has come about because money seems to be featuring a great deal in many of my transactions at present. This phase started two or three weeks ago when Steve who's co-writing a book with me, asked the other member of our triumvirate how much he would have to be paid to sleep with a stranger a la Indecent Proposal who in turn asked me. In both cases, we initially tried to dodge the question then claimed the moral high ground or created our own rules around it but the bottom line is we all have a price. Try the exercise on good friends of yours and see what happens - one thing I promise is that it will be illuminating.

More recently, money was at the root of a rift between me and another. Naively I had assumed that as both of us would claim to be spiritual beings, we would see situations the same way. If you are a Mum you will understand how flawed that perspective is. Just because two people are Mums does not mean they will get on or have the same parenting style. Likewise in my scenario, I realised it was important to recognise that we are both individuals with our own truth and different values. It was a hard one to learn.

Another issue that came up was around insurance and what adequate cover looks like. We all need some policies in place whether we work for ourselves or are employed. Critical illness insurance is very much a choice and many people decide not to have it believing either that they will never need it and or that it is too costly to justify. There are situations however when having or not having it will determine whether costs such as the mortgage can be paid. My OH and I reviewed our finances recently in particular what arrangements we had in place for getting the mortgage paid if one of us died and decided my cover was inadequate so now we are looking into term life insurance.

Another good friend of mine is in the process of being made redundant and she is seriously considering whether England is the best place for her and her family. Her view is that University tuition fees in the UK will rival those in the States in 15 years time only parents will not have the savings in place to help their children through in most cases. She also recognises how tough this country is to live in from the perspective of quality of life due to the long hours work culture inherent in many well paid jobs. As a result she is seriously considering emigrating to her husband's country as she believes that they will all be better off on a number of levels. On a personal note I will miss her but I can see that it may well be the best decision for her and her family.

This weekend, I spent a day visiting a friend in the rehabilitation hospital in Leamington Spa. She has just had a stroke and also has a pre-teen to care for made more complex by the fact that she is a single parent with no extended family at all. As you may know rehabilitation from a stroke can take months. Said friend is self-employed and due to the cost of critical illness insurance, has no cover. The irony is that she is supposed to be resting and relaxing to ensure a speedy recovery and yet she has some major issues to resolve including the care of her child whilst she is in hospital, which could be several months yet.

What does all this have to do with you is a question you might be asking yourselves. What's the big picture? It is not just that we all have a different take on our financial commitments and responsibility....It's bigger than that. It is to say that no matter how much certainty we have in our lives, insecurity is just round the corner. In fact the only constant theme in life is that change is a given. All we can do is decide how we respond to that. Do we embrace it believing that whatever is happening is happening for a reason which will reveal itself in due course or do we fight it every step of the way in a mistaken attempt to maintain control whatever the cost? Reflecting on it all it makes me realise that Jessica's view that we do not encourage our clients to give up that day job without thinking through how else to deal with dissatisfaction on the one hand and the implications of such a decision on the other.

So here are some questions for you to mull over: What's your relationship with money? Do you know how much you have at any given point? To what extent have you ensured that you have provided for those you have responsibility for?

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Dealing with the unexpected

One of my beliefs is that we are in this world to learn some lessons. Sometimes we get something first time and other stuff can be much harder, take much longer and trip us up many times before we get it. I would love to say that this post is going to share tips on how to achieve this but I would be wrong; it is an open exploration of where I am and will leave you with a question or two to consider.

What I am dealing with at the moment is anger. I remember when I was much younger the fragments of a conversation with my father, someone whom I consider to be very wise. In it he suggested that I carried a lot of anger. At the time I dismissed that view probably thinking something like what does he know. Of late I have come to realise that he may have been onto something.

Link that to a recent insight I have had about the relationship between letting go, compassion and forgiveness and it feels as if I am drawing together a picture. Let me elaborate. Think about a situation where someone has behaved in a way that does not fit with your values. The example that comes to mind for me is the response I got from an individual when I asked them to contribute towards the cost of the drinks at dinner. They felt it was unreasonable because they had drunk less than some others and the waiters had been over zealous with our last round of drinks and cleared them away whilst we were dancing and before they were finished. They expressed this in quite forthright terms. On reflection, I think their response upset me for two reasons: firstly it was not a reaction I had expected; and secondly it felt as if they were being tight.

For me writing this post is a way of letting go of the negative energy that is tied up in that transaction because it does not serve me or the relationship that I have with said individual. I am not yet able to feel compassion for them but that is probably because I find it very difficult to see the situation from their perspective. I do need to find a way to put myself into their shoes and so forgive and move on because they play quite a large role in my life at the moment and I do not think the time for us to step out of each other's lives has come yet. What is an easier step for me is to feel gratitude towards them for giving me this opportunity to put this way of living into practice and for giving me a topic for my blog.

So what do you do when someone who matters to you does something that goes against your values? How do you react? Do you talk it through with them, do you talk to others? What do you do with the negative emotions it raises? Do you just let it simmer away until there is an eruption? I would love to hear your thoughts.