Black and white and red all over




Tree shadow, white wall and scooter boy

Well, what a week or so that was. It started with a job interview and ended with a canalside walk in the sunshine.

Before I get started, I warn you that I fear this is going to be one of those revelatory blogs. I’ve been drinking coffee with the odd drambuie liqueur, don’t feel like bed, do feel like chatting. Everyone else in my family is asleep. The laptop and this blog will have to suffice.

So, I’ll roll back 10 days to a job interview – my first proper one for a decade or so. I worried about what to wear, what to say, what to do with my hands.

The interview was held in the building where, as a young wannabe reporter 20 years or more earlier, I had turned up to try to land a place on one of the country’s best training courses. The sliding doors were still in place. Behind the desk was the same receptionist. And greeting me at the interview was someone who had worked alongside me all those years ago. He was the boss now. I couldn’t help joking about something that had happened two decades earlier. He didn’t laugh.

Anyway, the interview resulted in a job offer. It wasn’t exactly my dream job, but over the course of the next few days I got to really like the idea. In fact, I decided it was not just a job I wanted; it was the only thing I needed to make my life complete.

In fact, I decided the only thing stopping me accepting the job was my family circumstances. Curse them. For a few days I felt resentful and bitter. My ambition was being thwarted by my kids, without them even knowing about it. I’m ashamed to say I think I was even a bit mean to them as a result – older son would certainly argue I was a bit strict when on Thursday I banned him from riding his bike for a week for “being sullen”.

It took a while to work this out of my system. Even on Friday I was still in two minds about what to do. I knew there were genuine practical difficulties that would be extremely tough to overcome. The job would involve a two hour round trip every day. My hubby works over an hour away, and we have no family living nearby.

In fact there were more good reasons for turning it down than accepting it. Top of the list was the fact that I’d only wanted a part time position, which was not on the table.

Then I learned some terrible news and some worse news.

Someone I know and like (I’m reluctant to call her a friend only because we know each other purely in a professional capacity, but I know she is someone I’d like to have as a friend) was diagnosed with breast cancer. She is young and fit and gorgeous. It is a cruel and horrid disease.

The news has made me more determined than ever to do my little tiny bit to help find a cure or prevent more women (and men) suffering. I’m proud to be “walking the walk” by taking part in the London Moonwalk in May, with all money raised supporting breast cancer charities and hospitals. It’s a 26 mile night walk. I am halfway through my training regime and woefully under prepared but this recent news has made me more determined than ever to knuckle down. After all, a few blisters and aching bones are nothing compared to what cancer sufferers have to put up with. Feel free to support my efforts if you can…

Then on Friday night I had a really vivid, bad dream. I woke up feeling really sad; at some point in my dream someone close to me died. I didn’t know who or how but it was a thought which stayed with me when I woke. I remember I posted a status update to this effect on my Facebook page on Saturday morning.

Two hours later my mum called to tell me my dad’s lovely cousin, Rachel (known as Ray), had died that morning. Ray had been hospitalised with a serious bout of pneumonia and pleurisy before Christmas. We exchanged emails and commented to each other on Facebook, keeping up a regular dialogue. She had suffered a lot in recent years with illnesses, including cancer and rheumatoid arthritis, but remained positive, upbeat and smiling throughout. She was the chronicler of my dad’s family history, the keeper of the flame…and suddenly, that morning, she was gone.

It is a terribly selfish thing to say, but her death helped me to see sense; to see the future I really wanted for myself and my family. This is nothing to do with sacrificing my own ambitions for my kids – I am horribly ambitious in some ways and determined to achieve success in my own right. But not at the expense of all the things that already make sense in my life; of all the things that already work well; and most of all of the precious time I get to spend with people who really matter.

So, I’ve turned the job down. It was never going to work; and the moment I pressed the send button on the email about my decision I felt relieved, rather than regretful.

Along the way between interview and today the muddy waters that have been swirling around me for months have suddenly cleared. For the first time in ages I realise what I want and how I’m going to try to achieve it. So thanks to everyone whose comments of support helped me along the way…you did help, enormously.

And so to that canalside walk earlier today. It was a simple stroll in the winter sunshine. The sky was a beautiful clear blue, like a Mediterranean sea. Trees were reflected in the still canal. I walked hand in hand with my lovely family, feeling the rays on my face. My heart was smiling. A corner had been turned.

White Blue

    • Catherine
    • March 14th, 2011

    A great blog (again) Jane. I understand some of your dilemma as I went back to work part time a year ago after 10 years at home, luckily I only work 3 days a week, school hours with flexibility in the holidays and that is hard enough! I know that people manage full time work (often because they have no choice) and I take my hat off to them as I don’t know how they do it. However you can’t get those years back and our children are growing up so fast that all the hours you have with them are so precious, that dream job will come up and it will work for you at the right time.

    • Thank you C; it is a toughie. I’ve just been reading comments on a thread on mumsnet about working mothers, recounting their “typical day”. They all sound completely mad, or frantic or guilty or miserable or deluded, apart from one who said she would have killed the kids if she’d stayed home a second longer. I did not want to join their ranks, at least not just yet. How would I ever have made time for writing blogs, taking photos and watching daytime telly?

        • Catherine
        • March 14th, 2011

        Absolutely, work just gets in the way!! It is pretty frantic, even working part time at a not very challenging job! I am sure that you know you have made the right decision for you and your family. You have a lot of time ahead of you (especially as we will all have to work into our 70’s before we can afford to retire!!)

    • Claire Lillie
    • March 15th, 2011

    I really do know where you are coming from. I have been working for the last couple weeks and I am loving it (I feel like a new woman) – but I did miss Alice’s St David’s Day concert and childcare for George has been a bit of a juggling act. I am working for a charity (LATCH Welsh Children’s Cancer Charity) that really needs my skills and a charity that has been a real support to my friends when their daughter was diagnosed with cancer last year. I’m being sponsored by the Vodaphone World of Difference programme – may be worth applying next year for a charity that you feel passionate about. I am currently doing a whole communication review for the charity, we are about to embark on a rebranding exercise and I have just finished off the new website map structure. I’m doing a blog too – it is on the World of Difference site.

      • Claire Lillie
      • March 15th, 2011

      By the way it is only for 2 months so not long term and I manage to do a lot of it from home too. Like you, can’t see myself doing something full time on a permanent basis either. Just nice to have a project to do every now and again euh?

    • Claire that’s fantastic. As you know I keep myself busy with bits and pieces of projects but now ready to get stuck into something more permanent. it does pose problems, esp as Rich’s work is an hour away and he leaves house at 645, getting back at variable times, usually after 7…so it means childcare would be pretty full on. Unfortunately the type of job I want (part time, independent, some home working, but with ££excellent and challenging role) are few and far between. I’ve just applied for something else which ticks all these boxes, but i fear they will be innundated with applications as a result!! Will wait and see.
      Your new role sounds great and really enjoyable, good on you. How many hours are you doing? i guess the two months bit means you will be free for the summer holidays, which is a nightmare for juggling childcare!
      Lovely to see what you are up to, and sorry to hear you won’t be joining us for april/may bank holiday weekend. Keep in touch! xxx

  1. There’s a saying that I believe in — you have to have a breakdown before you can have a breakthrough. Sounds like you went through a lot — but made the best decision for you and your family. Feeling relieved when you hit “send” is a great sign! Good luck with the London Moonwalk.

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