A funny old year...

posted on: Sunday, 3 January 2016

This year, of all years, I love a new year. Nothing like a fresh start and although I am determinedly and outrageously addicted to things staying the same (my husband says: 'you don't DO change') I am keen to get going on 2016. That last year was, well, a bit...meh. It's not that I didn't have good bits but overall I will recall 2015 as a year where stuff had to come together. It felt like a lot of tread water-ing and frankly, I am done with that now. I wanna swim. Forwards.

Firstly, it saw another year of pushing headlong into teenage-dom; my daughter is 14 and although my son is only 10, those manifestations of growing up are already starting to assert themselves in him. We took a deep breath. As I have written about before here and here, raising a teenage girl is not for the faint-hearted, there are challenges at every corner. So the year threw in some of those just for good measure. But on the whole, we were good. They are a gift.

We did the house. Correction: we are still doing the house. BUT, 2015 involved the really mucky, grubby business of knocking down about seven walls, ripping out the kitchen, extending it, putting up a new steel structure that would support it all. Without getting into technical speak, we took on a massive project, turning a 16th Century farmhouse into something that was completely updated and worked for our family and our lifestyle. Space, height and light. Despite having lived here for over ten years, the house still brought surprises; things that it revealed boldly whenever we scratched under the surface.

We moved out for four months and I did daily pilgrimages (x 3) home to check progress. I can honestly say that for about three and a half of those four months I felt like we had made an enormous mistake! They ripped apart this house, lifted it on its foundations, shoved and wrecked and generally man-handled it and made it look oh-so-ugly, it was hard to imagine I would ever want to be in it again. But then - suddenly - as the kitchen went in and we started seeing it take shape, the floors and the walls, it gradually became a home again. Overall the project has taken over two years from the point that we made two houses into one. That's a long time to be living in chaos.

My conclusion on this building project:

Way, way harder than I ever imagined; more marital disharmony, more money, more stress, more sleepless nights. The outcome? Way, way better than I imagined; family life enhanced, happiness all round, calm Sunday afternoons spent enjoying the new space and feeling pretty pleased with ourselves. And yes, it's white and yes part of it looks like an art installation rather than a farm cottage, but I am good with that. It's all part of the trajectory of the house and of our family. A long-awaited treat.

Professionally for me, the year meant some dabbling in various things. I feel like the moment I got my head around the idea of taking on a new path - that of doing a Masters Degree - something calmed inside me. I was a mess before. I have never before looped around the topic of 'what am I doing with my life?' so relentlessly. I had never felt so lost as I did as a full time housewife with no prospect of anything else. And as I have said before, that is not to do with the worthy work of housewives, it's just that for me it was not so good. I was trapped. No amount of cleaning and organising would fix the everlasting issue of what to occupy my brain with. I didn't want to return to the corporate world that I left and honestly I couldn't; there was so much involved in keeping things running and happy at home. I had missed the whole point. I needed to do something that kept my mind busy.

A very good friend suggested the Masters (repeatedly) and I kept dismissing it, thinking that I had already done a degree, why did I need another? That if I wanted to write a book, I would just sit down and write one (how hard can it be?! ha ha). That I wasn't cut out for academic study anymore. That I needed to earn my own money. That it was indulgent. And on and on. Then I thought: f*ck it, just go see what this is all about...

And then, as of September, I became a student again. A part time one, but one nevertheless.

It rocks.

I am replete.

Books are my friend.

And just like that, the inner monologue quietened. Thank goodness.

And can I just say, the degree is actually really hard. It's challenging and it sucks time and I spend a lot of days thinking I am not good enough. I worry about finishing the book. I worry that it will be no good. I walk around with a fairly predictable case of writer's angst much of the time. BUT, I would note that I am happier now than I have been in a long time.

Happy 2016.

all images via crush cul de sac


  1. Happy 2016 my lovely friend! Gosh I loved reading this - a year's journey in a blog post. Written so beautifully that is almost wipes away the angst that I know lots of these things have caused. They are the stuff of life, sent to challenge and I think you have more than risen to meet those challenges...and gracefully at that. I'm excited to see what the year brings for you...and don't forget my invite to the book launch!!! ;) xxx

  2. I love your posts and can imagine sitting down with you with a cup of tea or glass of wine, you would just open your mouth and these words would spill out. Exciting things on the horizon Lou ~ I know that 2015 was challenging at best ~ Happy New Year my friend xo

  3. I so enjoy reading about your life my dear! Especially that always present quest … to find the balance of family and self. Kudos to you for your decision to invest so beautifully in both!

    Sending big hugs from Southern California!

  4. Yes, it certainly was a year of change for you! I hope 2016 is calmer and an opportunity to enjoy all the pieces you put in place last year. Your new pursuit, your new house... Happy 2016!