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………”Snap out of it”

When the least helpful sling shot statement thrown at depressed people turns out to be the best advice you’ve ever had.

This is the foundation post of my blog.
The first post of a blog has a great responsibility to set the tone for the rest of the blogging future on this tiny area of the marvelous internet. Getting it right is of absolute importance.
It is the sacred text that the future civilisation of this region of the blogging community will revert to, will base itself around, that will attract future generations of followers. It has it’s own energy, own gravity.
The subject is vital, the delivery of it’s message more so………..(Jesus, what a worry).

(is this what it felt like to be Jesus? Do you think he realised how much weight his words would carry? I’m not certain he did, but probably those who rewrote him definitely did, and look how that all turned out – crusades, and crusafictions, and a couple of millenia later we’re all still hating each other to death. No pressure…..).

That paragraph above ^ that’s me all over – overthinking. I can’t even get into a cheery “hey how’s it going? Thanks for joining me here!” without taking on a bucket load of anxiety and a God Complex. I analyse and re-analyse until I have paralysis of analysis. I get stuck in the details inside my head running what I affectionately call “The Hamster Wheel of Thought” until my mind is moving so fast that my body has to stay still. I get bogged down, literally, on the sofa, and while I carefully play chess with all of my decisions for the day, the week, the month, and the next 5 – 20 years, I actually get NOTHING physically done that day. Not all days are like this, just a lot. It’s got worse since back injuries made movement painful, and since finances restricted options. It’s also got worse since I discovered Facebook and Pinterest, and I’ll probably write a whole post on that later.

So this blog has been started because this is my way of running through the Hamster Wheel of Thought in one clean revolution. As I jog along the thoughts, I can type them out onto here (I’m a very fast typer) and then (hopefully) let them go.They will no longer require storage on the inside of my head as they are now stored externally on the internet.
Every day I run through my internal mind storage and reorganise it all perfectly (sometimes I do a lot of this instead of sleeping at night), meanwhile my house, croft, car, life, get messier and messier. I know the cure, and the way to feeling calm is action, but the anxiety of not paying attention to what’s coming next in life by thinking it all through carefully creates almost complete inaction – to the observer.

To the observer I appear to be lazy, or unmotivated, and there seems to be no really good reason why I just can’t go and get on with stuff. Little do they know, those in my world, that it only keeps turning because I am powering it with the Hamster Wheel of Thought. The temptation for those around me to shout “Get on with it! Pull your socks up! Snap out of it!” must be barely bearable. In my mind, however, the only reason we are not all dead or utterly destitute, is because I’m on that wheel.

Who’s right?

I think all of us.

My experiences have taught me that taking your time, and rushing into things are BOTH bad ideas. Careful consideration of facts, and making a decision, and then getting the fuck on with it are the best way to do things.
I don’t take long to consider, and I take even less time in getting on with it. This is also why I am addicted to writing lists – what I need, what order I need them, time frames, people to consult or involve, are all detailed in about 15 different notebooks strewn around the house. I personally get very frustrated by people who do not organise or commit quickly to those two aspects – consideration, and action.

However, I am insanely jealous of people who can make confident decisions. I can not make decisions easily. My anxiety makes me really worry that I have not considered all options. I ask opinions, make plans; many plans, all the possible plans, every single tiny variation seen out to the nth degree, and then can’t decide on which one. To the other people in my world this appears to be changing plans, but they seem to have a different definition of the word “plan” than I do. In fact I think their definition of “plan” is closer to the definition of “decision”.

“To decide is to cut off from ALL other options”
That’s the definition of “Decide”.

To me, “Plan” is defined as “a fluid approach to completing a task” where it is ever changing, like traffic in a traffic jam switching lanes, weaving around, sometimes going the right way, sometimes holding itself up, but eventually always getting to its destination. I don’t change plans, but my plans change. The plan is always the same – to get there, to Happiness, by whatever sensible means, as cheaply as possible, with as little stress or upset and as much savvy as I can muster. I also know that every step of the journey gives me more savvy,and I genuinely feel that if there’s a purpose for life it is that – to gain Savvy. By that I mean it is the nature of energy, which can not be created or destroyed, to go around the universe changing state and frequency and gaining as much change and experience (savvy) as it can. It seems pretty obvious to me universally and historically that when energy (including in human form) or experience are limited, held down, locked up or pushed through narrow channels that this is when real problems begin. Life or energy just wants to flow everywhere, and as much as possible return to a state of balance once it touches the extreme ends of the spectrum.

Look at the definition of “Decide” again – “to cut off” that’s the part I struggle with. I hate the idea of burning a bridge……
Perhaps it’s because in the Highlands there are so few bridges you are BOUND to have to recross one at some point in the not too distant future. I mean that literally and figuratively. How do you get back to the center point from the edges of the world if you’ve burnt all your bridges?
But until I cut off I can’t reach balance, because I am stuck on the wheel, and not taking action, and if I have learnt a few things about coping with being a bit mental, one of them is DEFINITELY that you have to get a balance between action and thought in your life. So decision making is what I am concentrating on at the moment.

I’m concentrating on it because I have an idea that I can defeat my mentalness without use of drugs if I follow one simple step, and that is the step, everyday, towards never ending self improvement. I want to end each day a 1% better version of myself than I started it – then maybe I can sleep. (FYI, I often fail, and even have been known to finish the day 10% worse than I started. It’s simple, but it’s not easy).
In reality what that means is that I DO have to “snap out of it”. One of the least helpful things you can tell a depressed person is also the best advice. It took me a long time to get with this part of the program, I can tell you. On some subatomic level I knew it was right – it always resonated as right. My moral compass pointed right at it. As old fashioned an attitude towards depression it was, I knew that the the only way you can get out of the torture of depression was to just get off the wheel and take action – getting off the wheel is the same as snapping out of it. It took a long time to get the courage, the motivation, and the belief that it was right. It was really only once I had been at rock bottom (and for quite some time) that I had strong words with myself – why could I just not let myself be happy? Why couldn’t I have what other people had? Why could I not feel satisfied instead of frustrated? When would I believe I was enough? What’s REALLY stopping me?
The answer was simple and inescapable – me.
I was the reason – yes I’d had a seriously screwed up view of normal from an upbringing I just don’t need to detail here. But at some point you become the grown up, the choices become your own.Work, education, environment, family, past deeds – all of these become bad excuses for refusing to live a positive, healthy, happy lifestyle.

Happiness is NOT an emotion. Happiness is a DECISION.

I’ve come to realise however, that good advice can only be heard when the person is ready . They have to to do the work – not drugs, not health professionals, not society, not family (these are only supportive tools for your tool box, but they are not the answer). Only the individual can get on the path to never ending self improvement. Just the same as only an addict can make the changes necessary for quitting. Until they are ready there’s nothing can be done, until a depressed or anxious person is ready, telling them to “snap out of it” can make them worse in fact because it reiterates the feeling of being rubbish, and a failure.

Real change is the hardest and the easiest thing to do. By nature of the illness committing to something so all encompassing and never ending sounds like it’s destined to fail, which starts negative thoughts, but the truth is it’s harder staying blocked in a rut. Living the liberated life of change is easy, and EXACTLY what a depressed person needs.

Change is hard for those with anxiety and depression. Utterly necessary, but the it’s the forbidden lover of “What if’s”, “Buts” and “Maybe’s”. All of which will throw you on the Hamster Wheel and away you go again, inactive and unhappily a step backwards.

We all know that diet and exercise can really help keep you balanced, don’t we? If the answer there was “no?!” then GTF (Google the Fucker) and you’ll get PLENTY of information out there on that. It’s the first step. If you are not trying to exercise, and make positive diet changes, you are not really trying to get better, or taking any steps towards never ending self improvement. This is because you fall into a couple of mindsets – the “I don’t deserve to feel happy” which may or may not be true, or the “I don’t want to do any work because I’m selfish and lazy”. In which case two thirds of the options above are equal to not reading this any further. By that I mean it’s not for you. If you deserve to be unhappy then you must’ve done something truly sinister and have zero remorse and I shouldn’t be trying to include you in my version of reality. I can’t tell you, you aren’t alone and this community is with you, because, whilst you sadly aren’t alone, this community isn’t with you.
If you think you don’t deserve to be happy but haven’t done anything sinister, or at the very least are really genuinely remorseful, then my advice is GET OVER IT and read on. I do not believe in revisiting the past, going back over things to learn about your negative behaviours, or thought patterns. I don’t think it’s helpful. I think it’s much better to give yourself a break, say “well I fucked that up” understand you aren’t going to do it again (are you?) and move on. It’s that or risk feeling like an undeserving failure all your life – how many truly successful individuals look like they think they’re an undeserving failure? I’ve never seen Olympians, or Lewis Hamilton, or Lord Sugar, or the regular happy person you meet in life looking like they suffer with self loathing.
The problem is not what you were thinking when you fucked up, the problem is what you WEREN’T thinking. Reasonable people will fuck up on monumental levels because they have no good example of the right way to think about things or conduct their behaviour. A reasonable person will easily identify the right way to behave through their moral compass when given an example to follow. It will scream out to them “this is the way! This is RIGHT, and doesn’t it feel GOOD?! And SAFE even!” so I’m all about showing people the way, not about forcing them to regret. It’s all about positivity attracting more positivity. It’s just science.

If you are a lazy, selfish person, then again – this blog will hold nothing for you. In my world there’s two types of mental person. So often society bungs us all together under the umbrella of Mental Illness and then splits us down into our various personality quirks, personality disorders, etc.
Society has a lot of labels for people, and to my mind this allows the selfish and lazy type to get chances they probably don’t deserve. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “you can’t be angry at an ill person. They don’t know any better. They can’t help it. You wouldn’t be mad if his leg was broken, its the same”.

No it’s not.

If he broke his leg doing something selfish I would be mad. And excuse me, I am mad as a fish, but I still know “better”, and lots of people expect me to know better. To my mind you are either trying hard to make a better person of yourself and be a useful asset to society through good community work, good parenting, good social functioning, valuable input through your work etc (all for the reward of feeling happy at the end of it) or you are trying hard to bend all those sections of society to your will and make them an asset to you. You are either getting with the program or trying to rewrite the program. You are either out there flowing and experiencing, or you are trying to narrow and control, life.

I’m flowing. I’m experiencing. If you are too then it’s a lot more fun in good company so come with me!

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“….pod like that?”

The Tiny House Saga so far….

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Day 1 on Trailer Transformation – quick inspection.

I emptied out the trailer of the various rubbish and equipment that had ended up dumped inside it – traffic cones, old tyres, electric fence poles, popping paper, old horse rugs and a giant gym ball 44inches in diameter – the usual horse toys.
I had thought the floor would be unquestionably rotten and need replacing, but was pleasantly surprised to see that a good power hose is probably all it needs. The ceiling was peeling paint off the fibreglass hull at the front leaving huge bubbles and hollows. I started to peel it off; it barely needed me to poke at it and the paint fell off in huge flakes. I was astonished to find that a large hole in the paintwork just above the front window where a flake had come off partially leaving a big bubble had been made the home of a small bird. It’s droppings were in the bubble and feathers were stuck to the fibreglass – amazing that it weighed so little it didn’t break the flake!
The front end is in remarkably good condition. The top door of the front ramp is made of ply that’s beginning to split apart, and the OSB lining it is completely rotten.
The side walls have ironmongery for attaching the breast bars to that have to come off first, then the rubber matting which goes to within a couple of feet of the floor, then the aluminium that goes from the rubber to the floor, and behind that is the OSB.
The back ramp is going to go up and stay up, and at any rate is never going to take the weight of horses again so I am pretty certain it won’t need much attention to the hinges. The front unloading ramp however can’t stay on so it will have a door fitted in the whole space – I contemplated stable door style but I think that’s actually quite impractical with wind/midgies and the fact the rear doors are a bit like stable doors anyway. I will remove the ramp and use it as access to the decking that will surround the trailer once it’s parked in position, and fit the stable door to open outwards.

Looking at the available space inside the futon bed is going to have to go along the end wall. This also means that it might be easier to fit storage shelves to the wall without encroaching on the living space. I am acutely aware that pretty much all of my plans for how to furnish this are unrealistic. It’s going to be completely different to what I had envisaged and I’m still not sure how that’s going to look…..

Day 2
Looking at mattress options nothing foldaway, inflatable or thin is going to cut the mustard. A plinth is going to be obtrusive space wise. A pallet futon is probably not going to be sturdy enough for 150 days use a year or easy to put up and down in the available space. Going to go for a metal futon which means that the bed is not going to be made from anything recycled, but I think comfort is very important, as is ease of use if you don’t want things broken.

Enquiries about replacing the back axle have been made, but right now I don’t think it’s worth it. It’s not going to carry weight like horses again and as the only real issue is that it’s been pulled off (and may be slightly bent) I think we’ll try a friends recommendation of ratchet strapping it onto the body using the tie ups for the horses on the outside, and pray. What’s the worst that could happen….?!?!?

Stove selected – found the perfect one with great angle for the chimney, good weight, etc
Tomorrow Poul and I are going to plod away at stripping. Looking forward to that ūüėČ

Day 30 or something – Wow so much has been going on!

Just before I started this project I went for a tarot reading. It was ridiculously positive, and everything in it so far appears to have come true, including the prediction that the pod was going to be a community project.¬† A community of my friends have been involved full force and work sped along. The Great Dane has been much more involved than I think he wanted, and I suspect enjoyed it more than I think he thought he would. We’ve worked pretty well together. The ENORMOUS list of jobs from stripping and refitting, rubbing down, repainting, fitting stoves, dealing with the axle, finding furniture to fit, researching the industry and what people will expect, exploring toilet and shower options, and trying to get hot water and lighting solutions has been time consuming but SO MUCH FUN!

So far we have an interior on the trailer that is very close to being ready to furnish, with the OSB on the walls replaced and repainted and a ceiling mural started. We’ve made a front door with a combination bolt for security (saves people going home with keys) and replaced the back doors that we have glazed to let more light in. We’ve decided to definitely try strapping the axle up and hoping for the best to move it, and we have very rough plans (and no real idea how to do it) for the toilet and shower block. The stove is in place but not fitted and we plan to make use of chimney heat to warm the toilet and shower cubicle as well as heat water on a gravity fed rainwater capture system. The furniture is bought or ready to be upcycled.

We’ve had lots of obstacles – the unconventional¬† hinging of the door leaving large gaps midgies will come in, what to put on the floor for easy cleaning that’s within budget, how to glaze windows of unconventional shape and size, where to position the stove, how to heat water for the shower when we don’t get enough solar energy in a Highland wood, and many more small, specific to our particular trailer, type problems.

We’ve made lots of mistakes – not checking all the door hinges were identical before drilling holes. Not checking the rear doors were the right way round before painting the inside a different colour to the outside, not being more accurate with cutting the window perspex, not remembering a curved bead will need to be scribed when mitred, and more we won’t have realised yet.

We need to get the pod moved onto the site before we can progress. The only problem is that Muscle Man is unwell once again and it looks like major surgery so he’ll be unavailable to tow. Towing is going to be awkward until we see if we can get away with either strapping up the axle or removing the rear wheels. We have about 10 days until our deadline and it’s looking unlikely. In the meantime there’s interior painting to be done finishing the mural, seals around all exits to stop rain and draughts getting in, and a boot rack and shelves to be made from pallets as well as an old toy chest from my childhood to paint and use as a coffee table and blanket storage. The gaps are really oversized due to the hinging angles or the way the box was made so that urine would drain out so normal self adhesive door seals are not going to do it. Thankfully the rubber matting that we took off the sides is easy to cut and glue onto the metal frames with a strong glue. The rest of it I hope to reuse in the shower.

I have The Great Dane here to help me for about 3 days in the next 10, and I will need him to help me build all of the toilet and shower cubicle, the kitchen unit, and the decking, and bike parking. I don’t want to be a wimp and move the date back any further. Not only because it means losing income – much needed income – but because I feel like it’s admitting defeat and the project is too big for us. It has been a MUCH bigger project than I expected.
Are we on budget I hear you ask? Well I haven’t added it all up yet – but I am willing to go on a limb and say no. The only reason we have not gone over further than we have is because of the kindness of friends giving up their time and skills for nothing more than a BBQ at the end of the day.

At this point my biggest pointer for anyone wanting to try this is to make sure you have plenty of help. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have skills – many of us learnt to use a jigsaw, grinder and sander for the first time on this project! Most of this I only knew the theory on (thank the gods for YouTube!), but having friends to help hold, climb, paint, grind, sand, saw, drill, and even babysit has made it all possible for me to have a try, and stay close to target – weather and waiting for items to arrive in the post have held us up by about a week.
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Ok it’s now 12th July, and I have lost count of how long we’ve been at this, and how many obstacles – injury, illness, mechanical break down, other engagements etc

Don’t misunderstand – it will still definitely be cheaper to do it this way than buy a generic, characterless, prefabbed pod in, BUT if it isn’t finished in the next 10-14 days I’m going to tow it to Dornoch and throw it in the sea because I’m getting sick of it hanging over me as an unfinished project. We’ve not postponed anything, we’ve just worked it round all the other projects and events because I couldn’t face seeing the “to do list” get longer and miss out on fun like the family holiday and birthday parties etc (although mine was scaled down somewhat as I was just plain exhausted). It’s cost maybe twice what I thought it would now.

So where exactly are we at? Still need to get the outhouse done, but the plans for it are in place at least. All the bits except some more hammerite, some silver VHT paint and a sky light for the roof of the outhouse are paid for and bought – I should probably have my fire extinguisher from the horse lorry serviced as well. Muscle Man did manage to get day release from the garage to move the pod to the woods. The plans for the hot water fell through because the parts will take a month to order in and I can’t wait that long.

I still need to paint the mural, and ceiling and some wood work and furniture – in fact I still need to build some furniture….Oh and the ENTIRE out house.

August 8th
I thought we would have been finished roughly two months ago and right now I can still see at least two weeks of work left. I may as well have ordered those bloody bits for the hot water system. Reading back over the last entry – I was in absolute denial about what still needed to be bought. I’ve probably spent at least another ¬£700 on the outhouse and I’m not done yet.
I still haven’t done the flipping murals or finished the ceiling – sigh.

The weather has not been kind to us. The recent 60mph winds really got in the way of roofing the outhouse – or “The Stall” as I have now decided to call it. Until the roof is on I can’t install the shower, or toilet, or the kitchen sink my daughter clevely made. We’ve had all kinds to deal with including the rear diff going on Muscle Man. He needed new shock, bushes and springs, a steering damper, whole rear axle and was garage bound for six weeks. When we went to the Scottish Land Rover show we had to take the Subaru. It didn’t feel right – it felt like cheating on Muscle Man and like being a total fraud/wannabe amongst the Landy owning crew in the campsite. The reason this was a pod problem though, was because it meant I couldn’t collect things we needed, and paying Highland delivery charges on each individual thing (generally ¬£30 a pop starting price for delivery, needed about 100 things – no joke) bought online was not within budget at all. I needed the car to do the 100 mile round trip to Inverness and go get EVERYTHING I needed in one day – that just never happened. Little by little, as we were near places that were closer to home for various reasons, we managed to collect a lot of what we needed, and some is still to get. Also I had nothing to tow it to Dornoch and toss it in the sea with – which is probably the only reason we kept working on it. My back played up badly for a while too, and Poul did masses of overtime to pay for the extra expenses so momentum slowed to a couple of half days work on it a week.
Did I mention that the weather was S H I T…..?

Today I took on the corner of The Stall that I have been blithely ignoring thus far. It’s such a complicated place, and I think I was hoping fairies would come out and make it all perfect for me it at night if I kept pretending it wasn’t there. Strangely it was nowhere near as complicated to deal with as some of the things I thought would be easy. The Great Dane warned me again about that word I use so often “just”. The whole thing has been built with a an attitude of “just” rather than a just attiutde; “Just do it like this” , “just put it there”, “just bang it in – it’s too late to worry about things being level” are now my stock podding phrases. It was while I was being warned about the danger of a “just” containing sentence that I realised that this project has been completed with absolute attention to ignoring the details.

To be fair to us we’ve been up against it. Both the hammers we own are bent, REALLY badly, and one has no rubber handle on the end anymore so you have to hold it too high up or it will cut your palm. We have a rubbish saw and a 75% more rubbish saw – hand saws. The generator won’t work so no power tools, and the tape measure can’t be put fully away inside it’s housing or it gets stuck and can’t be got out without serious frustration and all of your coffee break. Also, the button for holding it out in place doesn’t work so after a meter or so it really needs two of you to work it. The screw gun is my hero – 12 well used years old and not got the best of bits because the screws easily eat them, so we take it really easy – it basically just saves me turning my wrist and there’s no other benefits. Sometimes I think doing it by hand would be easier as a screwdriver wouldn’t strain my arms so much when I’m working at funny angles.

That’s the whole problem really – the funny angles. That’s what I have been ignoring. I just bartered one of our foals for 7 bundles of prefab panels for sheds. I hope they’ll make 5 pods, an office, a reception/shop, and potentially a field shelter too. The greatest joy of these projects will be working with squares and rectangles (excepting roofs), because the pod is anything but, and even those that are, aren’t level. The trailer is a bizarre pointy arch along the top of the main part and then tapers into a nose. It’s also a mix of metal, and fibre glass. The Stall is wood and metal and PVC sheeting and joins on at the awkward nose where the teeny jockey door will give people a chance to get to the toilet without getting rained on or midged. The corner here where metal corrugated sheeting meets fibre glass at a strange angle, and wood has to be attached to aluminium that has the chimney for the stove coming through it, as well as managing to floor over the tow bar and scribe around the brake and jockey wheel, whilst keeping the angle for run off of rain, and incorporate a second valley to join the gutter, made me realise that this project had given us a really hellish learning curve. Surely the following pods will not be this hard to build?!

Last week I had the help of my friend who came up to stay for a week or so to give us a hand, for about the third time I think. She’s a good egg. She’s got a list of back and joint problems that mirrors and surpasses mine. We tend to find the weather effects us both badly and while she was up we had a couple of electric storms and an arctic blast. Bad enough in winter but aggravating at this time of year to our spirits as much as out joints. She helped me with many parts of it, and nearly put herself in hospital filling in the soak away with rocks three times the size of her own head. We even managed to figure out the trusses together. That felt good – it felt like we’d gained more adult points that day. On the very many times we sat back and admired our handiwork and it’s rough edges, I kept saying that I might put a reminder to guests before they review us, that this was built by a bunch of disabled women, kids, and a foreigner. None of us¬† with previous experience or qualification to do so. Just a mad idea on how to solve the eternal problem of making a living in a place you love with enough time left over to love it.

We’ve slogged at this, there’s been weather, sickness, injury, 6 weeks of car break down, many unmissable family events, small children, unworkable ideas, unbuyable materials, unaffordable delivery charges all in our way. Yet we have kept plodding at it – every day moving something forward a bit. As I type the partially painted top for the toilet takes up the middle of the living room floor, the room is to the rafters in pots, pans, towels, and furniture for this damn pod ( I really didn’t realise how much the interior was going to cost – we’re probably close to 2.5 times the budget now), so whether I have shopped, or researched, or just written the plan for the week repeatedly around the weather – I have always been chipping away at it. This week I am going to sacrifice the 3 days we had booked off to go away as a couple to celebrate our anniversary (a year since our engagement) but instead we are going to batter in to getting this finished ASAP. Ironically my first night in the pod may have to be my anniversary trip – that’s if I am lucky!

So what have I learnt so far?
Triple the budget
Double the time
If being on time matters, don’t work with funny angles.
Get better tools.13754425_1220539697970948_2205027196663780649_n

… “be a Scummy Mummy?”

Today’s modern family is no longer 2.4 but more like: 2.4/2+2(2.4/2).

I’ve been a single parent twice. Even worse I am one of those really “Scummy Mummies” who has two children to different Fathers, and worse still, The Great Dane isn’t Father to either of them. Although he is definitely their Far (Danish for Dad).

I first found myself a single parent when my eldest was very small and I was in my early twenties. I was a victim of domestic abuse. Even though I don’t think anyone in the naughties would expect me to stay and put up with that, there was still a LOT of stigma attached to being an unmarried, single Mother. The second time it happened was in 2014 after 10 years off and on trying to make it work and failing. The final straw was when kids were not just living in a war zone, but were the target or the ammunition – funny what you can tolerate personally for a decade but not for a second when it is happening to your kids.

In the decade that had gone in between it was truly incredible how attitudes had changed towards split parenting and single parent families. The CSA had changed to CMS, Fathers for justice had become a thing, access was now contact, and custody was residency. Tax Credits made it easier to get childcare and financial help if you needed to start over ¬†on a low income. Fathers didn’t have to marry the Mothers to gain equal footing in the courts, and it was accepted generally by all that if you don’t pay for your kid you were scum, regardless of the circumstances. Second time round it was a LOT easier and I don’t think that was just because I was ten years older and wiser. Something had changed – a great leap had been taken by society and now we accepted this as a method of moving forward and raising the future generations. It was now no longer a case of “staying together for the kids” but we seemed to have finally realised that staying apart was going to better for them. They’d suffer less abuse this way so we reorganised our processes and procedures to make sure that if we are going to do it like this, we were going to do it better than we had been.
But what was the change that made us change?
Was it the rise in property prices? Or simply that children couldn’t keep single parents out of the workplace in order to underpin the financial fakery that was going on during those years – Jon Ronson has proven how it is exactly the sort of family on tax credits that would be targeted for unaffordable loans.
I think part of it has to be that women were roughly more equal in the workplace – often earning more than men. Back in the day of the housewife, if she had left the husband the children would have suffered a different upbringing financially. With less money, less opportunity, and less good outcomes for the kids turned out by that process it was the source of the social stigma – no one wanted to be that woman. No one wanted that pressure or that future for their kids if they could help it. The society that watched it happen to the unfortunates seemed to feel that scorn would protect it from taking hold. You did NOT leave your husband. You stayed together – for the kids (for money) or be ostracised. Now these ideals of the perfect family, with the housewife and husband who goes to work in a suit, have been shattered by women getting good jobs and hiring nannies even when they are staying with the child’s father, we no longer look down on women who leave their men for the kids sake. Kind of makes you wonder who was doing the looking down in the first place?

In fact in today’s workplace with a pace dictated by the speed of an internet connection rather than the Royal Mail, and where we are expected to cram more into longer days, being a working parent is pretty tough. Combined with the fact that property is not really affordable unless two of you are continually paying into the mortgage, means that there always has to be two of you available to work at high level of efficiency or the family ship will sink – it’s amazing you even managed to keep it afloat during the pregnancy.
Consider also we have recognised raising kids to an “ok” level is no longer acceptable – if you’re going to be a parent you, quite rightly, need to make sure they THRIVE. So we are trawling out to trendy shops, and updating bedrooms, and throwing excessive parties, and doing a million after school activities because by the time you’re 7 you need to have a great CV if you want to get into a semi decent school. A school that will probably not be free and you’re parents, or one of them at least, is going to have to take a second job. And don’t forget childcare to wrap around that. It might be that you just can not get childcare, or can’t make money out of paying for it, so you now have to work opposing shifts to your partner so that someone is always at home with kids.
All of a sudden you are tired, and frustrated, and none of this is how you thought it was going to be, you never see the person you thought you wanted to see every day for the rest of your life, and every time you do all you can think is how ravaged they look. You stop communicating, unless by text, and you lose your connection, until all that connects you are the kids. Those human beings you made together.

Soon you start to argue. Each human is the sum of the five people they spend the most time with and you aren’t one of those people anymore; Rod from the office, and Sandra from the car pool, and Jeff the only other Dad on the benches at swimming lessons, and your Mum, and the guy at the newsagent counter all see more of your partner than you do. Eventually after the very many things we then do to try and pretend we’re spending quality time together – expensive family holidays, new hobbies, and maybe even getting married (you never did that because you couldn’t afford the deposit for the house AND the wedding, and then before you knew it number 1 was on their way) you end up exhausted and clueless about how to fix it in less than 20 years.

I could be accused of making it sound as if kids ruin your life………. “ruin” is a bit strong, but it’s certainly never ever, ever, the same again! The kind of person you are after it is far removed from who you were before it. Even truer is that the kind of person you need or want as a partner after you know what it’s really all about, is not always who you chose to do it with.
It’s not really that kids ruined your life, or that you got together with the wrong person. It’s just very often the pace of life once you have kids ruined YOU. Both of you. It’s difficult to be the best you, you can be, when you’re constantly overtired, overworked, and go unrecognised for your efforts. Lets face it, lots of us are doing this, and it’s very easy to feel like the least capable parent on the planet most days of the week because we don’t feel like it’s as easy for us as it is for some of the people we know. No one is going round handing out prizes for this stuff – you’re just expected to get on with it because everyone else is, like it was easy – but it’s not always easy.
It doesn’t help either, when you are up to your pits in laundry and nappies, ¬†to take a minute to check your messages and find everyone else posting pictures of amazing activities in incredible weather with their super happy partners alongside. It’s hard not to feel like you’re getting it wrong. All I can add to that is that a picture can tell a thousand words, and each word can be a lie. Everyone feels like they suck at it at some point.
E V E R Y O N E.
Anyone who wants to make it look like they never have a bad day is probably having more bad days than good, and constant attention to social media posts, that show the two seconds everyone grinned and told a lie, is all that’s keeping them going.

The very process of child raising unveils all our weaknesses and selfish points as much as our strengths and generosity. When your partner disappoints you it is difficult to forget; but if they disappoint your child it is unforgettable. Maybe that’s why so many of us now separate for the kids sake?

Once you get over the inevitably hurtful splitting of possessions, addresses, and weekends the fairest you can, the teething problems of the routine (a parenting plan is the only way forward btw, just do one as a matter of course, even if you are both being Saintly about the break up) you are then in a wave of relief – for the first time since the babies arrived, you’re actually getting a break!
On those days when the other parent has them you are free again in a way you never could have been inside a relationship. It’s not about dating other people, it’s about being a truly free agent – in this set up no one is wondering when you’re going to be home because they want to get out for a bit, there’s no rushing back to cook a meal so your kids continue to thrive, there’s no child friendly rating required on the day’s activities or eating out. You can wear, eat, do whatever you want – reconnect with people you haven’t spoken to in years, have just a sandwich for tea because that’s all you can really be bothered preparing , not get out of you PJ’s until 2pm and then change into that top you haven’t worn since you were a size 10 (you’ve lost weight because house moves always do that, and you’ve kept it off because you’re eating a sandwich for tea most nights and just cooking for the kids – it really caught on!). It really shows your boobs off perfectly but was too slutty to wear out to kids activities. On top of that the finances have improved because you’re getting regular maintenance and have downsized. Before as the main bread winner, you paid all the bills and insurances; he just covered the Sky package, the internet, put fuel in the car and paid for his hobbies. Now your Land Lord has the responsibility of maintaining the property, you pay part of the bills, all the car fuel, and split the expense of the kids. You can even get help from the government for childcare. It’s not all bad after all.

That honeymoon only lasts a certain while. Then you start to miss the comfort of someone else being there. Of course if you ever have an emergency and you have an ex nearby they are likely to step in on the child front and pick up pieces, but if the kids are sick in the middle of the night, or they come home crying after falling out with their friends, break their bike, or are outrageously cheeky while they work through their own emotions, you just wish you had someone right there, who loved them like you do, to talk to. Your Mum just isn’t quite the same……
Then there’s the times that they make huge achievements, or come away with some priceless observation on life, say a word cutely wrong, or are just enjoying chasing bubbles in the garden laughing and leaping with abandon, and you wish there was someone there who can share in that. Just someone to turn to and smile because both your hearts are warmed by it. Someone to recognise the wonder that is these humans you created from your very own insides.

Really there’s no reason why with good support you need to have someone else in the home raising your kids with you. If you have friends or family, and your ex isn’t a deadbeat and neither is their new partner and family, if your childcare is reliable, schools good etc there’s no reason why kids should not turn out perfectly decent individuals. Well rounded, well loved and loving, well respected and respectful. All the evidence suggests that products of that environment are very open minded and generous of spirit and probably EXACTLY the sort of people we need as our world leaders of the future. I imagine far more ecofriendly industry, less stressful work environments, smarter ideas on living wages, social security, and childcare brought about by the kids from these homes who were still allowed to thrive.
They will have known a lot less upset than the kids of the “stay together” generations, and be far less prone to personality disorders or continuing abusive cycles. Their viewpoints will not be the narrow width of the couple who created them and were left to get on with it, but all the people who raised them – child care, clubs, grandparents, neighbours and friends will all help out more now you are single, and have an influence on your child. It’s likely they will cross over races, ages, and abilities with ease in the future because their upbringing was more diverse. So many single Mums know this, and I think that’s why so many of them decide to put all their eggs into the kids basket, concentrate on doing this and doing it right because if they do the kids will be better than if they’d never done it at all. In that vein a lot of them decide not to get distracted by dating and finding a new partner. Fear of letting in another person who turns out to be no better than those who went before them, and that damage to the kids somehow seems to put more women off moving on than it does men.
There is no NEED to have a second adult in your home for the kids sake, but there are a few really good reasons why you should. Imagine if you can find someone who wants to put their eggs in the kids basket too – imagine what kind of kids you could turn out then. Imagine the life lessons they would learn from seeing their Mother flourish from an attentive partner, seeing how a pair of people can be a team. What would growing up in the positivity of that kind of environment do for them?

And there are just as many reasons why you shouldn’t shut yourself off from finding a partner for YOURSELF, as for your kids.

Imagine the difference when you find someone who wants to be a part of the balance you have now you’re split parenting. Who comes in already knowing who you are as a parent, what you look like as parent, what your energy levels are as a parent. The duties and drudgeries of parenting are held between you and someone outside the house. There’s a whole area you don’t need to wear your partner down with, but they can still help out. You have your routine for the kids, you have childcare with your ex sorted at weekends and you can put all that time into maintaining a relationship. The contribution of maintenance from the other parent means you might even have some spare cash for a date night each month!
You can get inside a bubble during those moments alone and be proud of who you are now, ¬†instead of making excuses for why you are not the same person you were pre-kids. Let someone else enjoy this version of you. Remember you are not just someone’s Mother or the Mother of someone’s child – you are YOU, and you have plans and aspirations that go on around and beyond parenting.

Having a new partner in your life has so many benefits to all of you.
It  is that back up.
It is that sharing.

More than any of this though, for me at least, it is unequivocally the sheer joy I have watching The Great Dane with my kids. Seeing another human who did not make these kids from their very own insides, love, cherish, nurture, educate, care for and ENJOY my kids as much as I do is something so special.¬† It’s actually something I never had in the relationships with their biological Fathers. Obviously I think my kids are great – but it’s really meaningful to hear someone else you love and trust, agree. If I had chosen to stay for the kids sake I would have denied them this wonderful relationship with him and all the opportunities it has brought them – hobbies, travel, and the fact that more skills and money in the house mean we have a nicer house! I don’t doubt that the oldest has now got a far more balanced, trusting view of men, and both girls have a much better example of how to conduct a happy relationship than if the Great Dane had not been in our lives. Obviously you have to have the right partner – goes without saying – but when you do, that is what you can expect. I love to see their relationships develop and deepen and the love shared between them makes me love them all the more. I know I could, and have, done it on my own. I think I’d have nailed it; but I am so glad I don’t have to. I am enjoying seeing my family happy and balanced for the first time ever and having someone by my side to witness it and share it validates and enriches the entire experience for me.

So if you are a single parent who is contemplating keeping yourself solely for your children, don’t. It’s much more fair to you all if you go and date.

Fall in love for the kids sake!!

Be sensible about introducing the kids, but enjoy your childless days at weekends finding your own Great Dane. You never know Р your kids might turn out to be the future Prime Minister if you do!

… “not even know her own feelings?”

Does being positive mean you have to be super psyched 24/7 or can it be calm and soothing?
And what if what I think is fear is excitement?
How can you tell the difference?

Does it even matter?

I became aware during my teens of the concept that “my red is your blue” thanks to a grey pencil case I had. Everyone else said it was purple.
The class quickly found itself in a #thedress situation. Except I was the only one who saw it as grey – everyone else in the class of 18 pupils found it to be purple (to be honest I was annoyed, as purple is one of my fave colours – I’d have far preferred to see purple). Eventually the physics teacher took me away into a cupboard and gave me a colour blindness test, which left him more puzzled than me and suggesting to my parents I see a specialist. The specialist diagnosed me as colour dyslexic – I see a colour, but my brain calls it something different was what I think he was trying to say; I didn’t really understand it at the time. None of it sounded right, but I swallowed this as just ANOTHER subject in life I felt at odds with. I learnt that my “something” is not always someone elses “something”. It left me with all kinds of existential questions about colour and the human perception of it if it were possible to have such HUGE variations. Who was right? How do we know they are right? Who made the decision on what was right? And actually……what the hell else is subject to this kind of variation?

I started to suspect that emotions were the feeling version of colours.
It’s interesting, isn’t it, that the two subjects are highly interlinked?
Feeling blue, a red mist, green with envy, and so on.

Like all awkward teens I was feeling horribly nervous about doing things in front of people – especially things I enjoyed because criticism about that hurt more. I got very confused about whether I was feeling excited about my favourite thing, or scared I’d fuck it up and be told I suck at it.
My Mum was reading “Feel the Fear and do it anyway”. She was trying to get me to read it, but I felt it was unnecessary – the title alone was a lesson in itself.
I liked the concept because, as I was already aware of the correlation between fear and excitement, I figured that maybe they were interchangable. My only issue with that, was if they are interchangable, kind of what’s the point in them? They are polar opposites, but can feel the same? How unhelpful.

I think in general the human race makes way too much of feelings and emotions. We are told to explore them, to relive them, to talk about them, and sometimes I feel that if you are not extremely emotional about everything then you are seen as repressed. There’s lots of trains of thought, and advice out there that all seem to end in tears – not because it goes badly, but because that’s the point of it. It’s like people aren’t really sure if they are happy or sad until it’s making them cry. I also can’t help but notice another two polar opposite feelings having the same outcome. How unhelpful.

I mean what are tears? really? What use are they? Apart from eye cleaning fluid what’s the purpose? I know that an infant cries so it’s parents come and pick it up and don’t leave it behind to be eaten by wolves or dinosaurs, or urban foxes etc, but why do adults cry? I know they happen when we are overwhelmingly happy or sad, but I just don’t know if they are helpful?
I’ve seen people brought to tears about small issues, seemingly because they think it’s appropriate or will invoke a reaction from others around them, but they didn’t seem very happy or sad – just needy. I’ve heard people tell tales about how things made them cry as if it is a good thing, as if they should be admired for how sad or happy they felt in that moment. They wear their emotional extremes as a badge of honour.
This is weird for me. I mean I’m not unemotional. I’m not heartless. I do have and talk about my feelings, and I DO cry, but I don’t get any validation from it being seen. I don’t think people who are crying need more praise or consoling, than someone who is being honest and unemotional. If I am arguing with someone I don’t feel bursting into tears is ever going to get me what I want. I feel like it will just escalate things because I will be seen as being manipulative. If tears are the “final word” then first to cry wins. How easy.

The reason I find “identifying” and “exploring” to be unhelpful is like this –¬† what does yesterdays rain have to do with today’s sun? It’s about the here and now, the moment. The feelings I have NOW, not ten years ago when something sad happened. You can’t look back or you’ll get bogged down on the HWoT and never get a real understanding of how to make the decision to be happy because you’re too engrossed in everything that has made you sad. How will feeling old emotions, with their inter-changeability, and variations bring about a change in tomorrow’s? It is training your brain to remain in that sad state – but if you want to be happy you have to train happy thoughts.

It’s odd that we train humans to let out bottled up feelings- most modern animal trainers are doing the opposite, training horses and dogs to have a level headed sense of balance about their work. You wouldn’t expect to train a horse that’s scared of going into the horse box to get into one if you told it to go back over all it’s memories and feel the fear of every scary trip it’s made, reliving it and “letting that fear out”. It’s about making this time, and every time following it pleasant and positive, and letting the horse explore the box – not the feelings – and see that really there’s nothing to fear.
(FYI that’s exactly where the term “level headed ” comes from – If you were a cowboy back in the day of inventing sayings, you wouldn’t ride a horse that had its head up in the air fearfully scanning the horizon, you waited until it had relaxed and dropped its head and neck to be level with the body because that is an outward sign it’s calm, balanced and thinking clearly). We’re all mammals at the end of the day, and I wonder how all this exercising our emotions is going to keep us balanced? Is bottling it up really bad? What if you don’t let bottled up feelings out, but just chose not to feel them again? If you just replaced the sensation with something more positive?

“Feelings are just energy” Says Morgan Norma Roche of Keystone Healing. “If you give them a name you give them way more power than they should have”.

 

I understood exactly what she meant when she said this – if they are so interchangeable, they are almost already redundant by the time you recognise you are having a feeling meaning identifying them might not be the key either. So what are we meant to do with feelings? ……..
Morgan went on to explain to me that in her healing treatments and workshops that help people to improve themselves, she gets everyone to recognise the feeling, but not give it a name. ¬†“I say “right, let’s not give this a name, it’s not important, feel it for a moment, then thank it and send it love” and the feeling immediately leaves”. In doing this she feels it empowers the individual to take control without overextending the feeling, leaving them in a positive state of mind. There is a lot of research out there to show the heart is directly linked to emotions – not just on Valentines cards – but in the rhythm it beats. The most perfect state for your heart to be in is when you are feeling the emotion of gratitude/thanks. This is probably why Morgan also teaches her students to “Live an Attitude of Gratitude”.

In life we seem to value an awful lot of behaviours labelled as “positive” that are associated with buoyant, or extroverted personalities. As a society we do little to reward a calm and placid nature in a human. It’s the difference between feeling psyched and feeling peaceful I’m talking about. We encourage extroverted behaviour, put over active and reactive humans on pedestals, admire enormous power, and view the peace makers and the thoughtful introverts who are quietly working away in labs making all our technological advances as, weaker, or geekier, than those who might smite us down. That’s ok – that’s just normal pack animal behaviour – we’re either looking for a leader to follow, or looking for a leader to take over from. We can’t help it as we’re predators by nature, especially those who are extroverted, so it’s no wonder they have risen to the top of the pack and are telling us all we need to be just like them to do well in life.
I can’t help feel though that it must be excrutiating for introverts to be forced to be extroverted on that level – it can only lead to feelings of imbalance. I also imagine that calming some of today’s extroverts down could only be a good thing!
I think I see parts of society questioning the legitimacy of extroversion as “the best way to live”. It ¬†is not really helpful today, on an over populated and politically inflamed planet and the confusion about where all this fits in with the enormous leaps forward our species makes daily, are causing a lot of us a lot of tears. It’s not a surprise that we tell people to feel emotional rather than deal effectively with emotion, because really we are having problems recognising TRULY positive emotions in the first place.

Look at pain – another of the body’s communications – it’s nothing more than a message to the brain that something’s not right. It can be disproportionate to the problem, and it can continue long after the problem has healed. How unhelpful.

Emotions are just signals from the emotional body. Feelings like this are part of instincts. Instincts were there to keep us alive, like pain, back when we were cave men – you felt nervous, or fearful, or hurt, and you knew to leg it or hide. If you were happy or felt safe you knew to make more out of that, settle within the environment you found it in, and when it changed, move on again. Most of us don’t need these in daily life – we’re not at risk on the same level as a caveman. However some of us seem to have these feelings turned on, amped up, unable to shut off again, tuned in disproportionately to everything- we feel like we’re dying but all that’s really wrong is that we might miss the bus, for instance. The task of travelling becomes confused with the instinct to flee and we feel danger.

It appears, that in modern times, the purpose of feelings to relay messages to the individual has been misused to relay messages to the masses – to use that part of the parent in all of us to respond to the crying child. Give it what it wants, make it feel safe. Once you’re an adult I’m not sure that’s anyone else’s responsibility though – how unsafe are you? Obviously there are people out there who are, or have known, real danger and I am not including them in this – they absolutely need the help of the society they live in, but I am talking about the over stressed, the over worked, the unmotivated, unhappy masses on antidepressants and group therapy. Is it people not taking responsibility for their own mindset and emotions that is leaving us with an epidemic of depression right now? ¬†Are people believing that pills and groups will fix them, when really they might need to decide that modern life, and achieving success as we define today, is not really for them?

The pressure of having eternal beauty, a sports car, massive salary, and perfect home in the perfect location, the ever smiling family in activity day selfies, with perfectly dressed, immaculate children, is all over social media; but just not available to some of us. For others they are not in possession of the skills to maintain it even if they got it. The worst thing is when¬† you DO get it and you still don’t feel like you’re “there” yet. It doesn’t fill the holes in your life. It doesn’t get you the validation you thought it would – so now you have a baby you can be in the “mum” group, except you find you are not really classed as a Mum by the Mum’s with two or more kids, and so the cycle of keeping up with the Jones’ continues. Actually it’s bloody hard work keeping it all going, and most of us don’t even know why we’re doing it.

So how about we decide not to think about how our feelings make us feel, but how we’d like them to make us feel?
When I get up in the morning and feel “down” I can ask myself – am I really “down”? Maybe I am just calm? Maybe this is what it feels like to be in perfect balance because there’s not a lot of emotion going on, it’s pretty low energy and monotone. Surely that’s what balance feels like? I am leveled out at one point, and just because I am not jumping around shouting “Hell Yeah!!!!” to every suggestion or idea that comes my way, doesn’t mean I am not happy or feeling positive. Maybe I am just happy, and calm, and maybe everyone else just needs to be satisfied with that? Maybe everyone else just needs to realise that this state of mind is a part of who I am; it’s my introverted, relaxed side – but it’s no less happy. Maybe I can consider that depressed and balanced are interchangeable? And actually – that’s pretty helpful.

………..try to build a house? Even a tiny house?

Well let me tell you I have built houses before – it’s just they were about 3ft square and for dogs, or rabbits (but never both together. That could be alarming :/).

I can bodge – what crofter can’t? It’s our national sport. The crofter is the original Ecowarrior with his “make do and mend” attitude and hoarding born out of budget problems. I can take a broken fence and make it stand up again. I can hand saw until my shoulders spasm, I can hammer with surprising accuracy and strength, I know nothing about engines other than the various noises of an ill one, I can design, and I quite enjoy painting and varnishing. I have no experience of metal work beyond second year craft and design, however, and looking at the rusting mass of my very old horse trailer I feel I am going to need to learn a lot about that.

THE BACKGROUND

When looking at what has brought me to this project I think we have to consider both mine, AND the trailers history.
The trailer belongs to the halcyon days of running an outdoor activity centre that included pony trekking and a riding school. It is an enormous green tank of a thing. Recently refurbished when I bought it back in 2005 , it was ancient then, originally from Laurie Trailers of Falkirk, I think the make is a Bradley. In fact it appears to be older than me if the last number on the chassis number is the year it was made?
With a double floor and space to take two Clydesdale horses at once, it never did – partially because the two Clydesdales I owned were a very sickly ex broodmare who should not ever have another foal, and a particularly deadly stallion who I dreaded trying to do the deed in the back of the box, resulting in at least one death. That and the fact the box alone weighed roughly a ton and with a couple of tons of horse in it too no one had a vehicle (at that time) that could tow that physically or legally. In fact after towing it empty or with a small load had killed a few 4×4’s and saloons it became known as “the car killer”.
One day my father decided to use it to take something into the woods and dragged it mercilessly over terrain it should never have gone through, and broke one of the axels. For whatever reason – it may have been the many fond memories I had of times out and about with horses in it, or the crofter in me – I never parted with it. A number of years ago, probably about seven, I parked it down in one of the paddocks with wooden blocks to hold up the rear of it and I used it for training perfect trailer loading with the horses and storage. There it sat with the ramp down like a gaping mouth staring up to the riding school shocked at it’s abandonment, while god knows what Highland wildlife took turns living underneath it. Until yesterday that is……

My history is just as arduous;
After the great days of the activity centre which were cut short by some serious riding falls about a year earlier, gradually reducing my mobility to zilch, I spent the following seven years looking for a way to make a living.
Initially I decided to do something obvious – use the skills and assets I had procured over the 5 years with the activity centre to do horse rehabilitation. I’d been doing this as a hobby/sideline all along. Now I’d try and make it pay. Sadly I got nowhere with that as my back made me so completely unreliable and further injuries were quite common even when you did your best work. So then I went into a string of around seven or eight other businesses, many at the same time, decided by my necessity to work from home due to a terrifying lack of childcare in the vicinity. Sometimes I was at extremes of role juggling from a full allocation of childminding 12hrs a day, as well as trying to care for the 40 odd animals on the croft, be a self employed manager in a company owned by Lord Sugar (somewhere I have a photo of me photo bombing his Lordship – one of my finest unplanned achievements, but I couldn’t find it to include it), and work a seven hour shift in the local bar at night, six days a week.

As you can imagine, this was EXHAUSTING. It was too much, and wasn’t even making me money. I dropped everything that did not justify itself financially once I had reviewed my accounts for the past half of the financial year. Shockingly the most profitable thing I had on the go, that was reliable, and with a predictable income, was the bar job. Until last month that is, when I turned up to find the receivers of bankruptcy were in the building and I was redundant there and then. With a bit of quick thinking and fighting we had the place reopened a few days later but we are not out of the woods yet…….

I am sad it’s not worked out at the bar and not just because the small village will go dry without a pub, and there’s going to be a hulking great building derelict in the center of the village, but because the only place that’s employing people at night when I have free childcare will be gone. I had enjoyed aspects of that job a lot – it was straight forward, and none of the paperwork or bank balances were mine to keep me awake at night for once (I have an absolute phobia of opening mail, and a weird love-hate relationship with paperwork). However that’s changed now that we are fighting to keep the place going, and ultimately the decisions on how to do that are not mine. I do find it difficult not being in control – it was the most worrying part of returning to employment from self employment; not being my own boss, not making the buck stopping rules and decisions, but that was also exactly what I was enjoying getting away from. Weird how your fears can be your friends eventually.

Anyway, I have decided that I have to once again make the most of my assets and any skills I can learn to find a way of making money in future. I have the croft, I have this trailer, and I have roughly worked out that I can just about afford the ¬£1000 I want to make the budget for getting it done. I’m not even convinced that budget is realistic, and I’m certain it contains no contingency. Also I can’t afford to get the money then start the project, because if I do the season will be over. I also don’t know if I can get it going before I may lose my job, and even if I do I can’t see it replacing my income in full or at all beyond mid August.

I have to say that 8 or 9 businesses in seven years has been a task, but a task that’s given me so many new skills – online marketing, social media skills, confidence, contacts and a real feeling for what’s worth doing. I really want this one to work because it’s fun, and cute – it’s a house in a horse trailer, how awesome is that if you’re daft about equines?!!
It’s not going to make a fortune, but if I can get it up and running for this summer I am hoping it can pay me back – which is the same as paying for the next venture. Everything I have done in the past seven years has given me the skills, knowledge and contacts to get this underway, and I believe this trailer is the vehicle to the next phase – none of it is the perfect answer, but it’s all part of the journey.

Yesterday I took the first step. Me and The Great Dane (my Fiance, a human one, don’t worry. ) went through much agony with a dodgy jockey wheel, and embedded tree trunks, water filled tyres, and a dysfunctional farm jack to get the trailer hitched onto the back of my faithful old Landy, Muscle Man. I dragged it through some pretty trenchy mud up onto the yard and took a proper look at what I might need to do with it. Stripping it right down is the only way to be really certain of what it will need. (P.S. shortly after this Muscle Man broke down – might be a coincidence, because he is a Land Rover and that’s what Land Rovers do. Especially 20 year old ones).
The Great Dane has made it plain that whilst he is happy to give advice and help where he feels he has time or is qualified to do so, this is not HIS project. And that’s fine. He has his own projects. I don’t think the way to a healthy relationship is to consume the other persons free time with what you want or have to do. Although mucking about getting it out of the field yesterday was a lot of fun, even the bickering part was tongue in cheek (my never ending self improvement has not yet reached the realm of perfect communication or dealing well with frustration).
I loved looking at the old wagon, remembering the very many furry butts I used to see through the back door (or, in the case of the Clydie mare who had sweet itch as one of her many issues, actually hanging out over the back of it looking for a scratch). I remembered the adventures, and parts of the country it had been to like when I went to the Isle of Lewis to buy a rare Eriskay and my gear box went on a big hill and I nearly crashed killing me, the horse, a very young eldest daughter and my best dog ever, or the time I used it to take seven horses home from a local show while I had a broken pelvis from falling off going over the practice jump, or turning it in a passing place at the most Northern tip of Skye – it is longer than normal box and the pick up was 18ft long( If I have a super power it is definitely driving and reversing with trailers on, almost un-natural if I say so myself). I remembered how, after all the nurturing I gave her, that Clydie mare was such a devoted friend of mine she’d follow me anywhere – even into the trailer without any halter or lead rope; the sense of love and devotion I would have standing in there stroking her beautiful face and giant snuffly nose, as someone put the back ramp up and we’d go off in seek of better grazing for her each time she inexplicably lost condition. She was called Offers Lady May so it seems fitting that we start this project in the month of her name.

And now it’s time for someone else to experience love and devotion in the trailer! Once she’s all transformed and reborn she’ll be going into a circle of hard standing atop the hill in my Caledonian Pine wood and be rented out for a nominal fee. I aim to have her ready for mid July if I can.
Plans include a composting toilet, a decked outdoor food prep and dining area, a wood burner on a door; that’s right – a door, a stable door entrance, a Perspex window with recycled plastic bottle “stained glass” and pallet furniture, and horse related fittings. I’ll try and detail the whole thing so other people without a clue can see where to get started once they find a relic to relove.