Friday, 8 January 2016

Time to Commit

Walking alone today on a rare clear, sunny but very cold winter's day, with our young yellow Labrador, was a good opportunity for contemplation as another year begins its cycle.  Christmas already seems a distant memory as our lovely tree stands naked, propped against the brown bin, waiting to be recycled, which is the best we can offer in return for bringing a little magic into our home.  I do hate putting Christmas away and yet there is something liberating about the space created.  The almost empty calendar is pinned up in the kitchen waiting to be filled with whatever form our lives will take this year, a blank page waiting for its fill of the special and not so special occasions which make up a life.  

Last year was a very special year as we finally celebrated our marriage and also witnessed my youngest stepson marry his girlfriend of the last eight years.  There was, sadly, my father-in-law's funeral, attended by most of his steadily increasing family - a fine testament to his life but a sad loss to those who knew him. There is another big family wedding already booked in for June this year, my step-daughter, and another engagement has just been announced.  Perhaps there will be more grandchildren soon - an empty nest and no grandchild of my own yet is both an opportunity and a vacuum.

But, as I walked through the empty Suffolk countryside this morning, what was really on my mind was the need to commit.  Our house has been on and off the market for most of the last two years as we try and work out how it is we want to live, what is important to us, what is possible and what is just an impossible dream. Moving to Suffolk over 6 years ago, after more than 20 years living and raising my children on the Kent/Sussex border, has been a mixed experience and I have struggled to settle here.  

We have come to love this strange, relatively empty and unspoilt county with its huge skies and stunning coast line, which we were lucky enough to explore on our boat when we kept it here.  The rivers are beautiful and we appreciate the sense of space, the beautifully painted houses, the ancient towns and villages which nestle in the valleys and the warmth and friendliness of the people who make their lives here.  What I have missed, though, are the deep connections I formed during those years of school runs, plays, matches, parents' evenings, putting down deep roots in a community which takes a long time.  So, for over a year, we have really explored the possibility of going back to Kent/East Sussex and have spent a lot of time visiting the area, catching up with old friends, trying to decide if this is a real possibility or if life has just moved on too far, whether we are just chasing a dream and letting go of something that has real value to us here.  


Boxford
Walberswick
Clare
Snape
Aldeburgh
The Stour
The Orwell at Pin Mill
Butt & Oyster
Ponies at Pin Mill
 There are, of course, options three and four! Renting out our house and renting another, almost anywhere, for a year and really shaking things up.  The Ari├Ęge beckons... I have always dreamed of living in France for a while.  Or we could move almost anywhere else in the country - the Yorkshire Dales are proving a big draw at the moment as long as there isn't a river nearby.  

One way or another, the challenge this year is to commit and then to make whatever we decide to do be the right choice.  

What challenges do you face this year, what decisions and life events are on the horizon?

24 comments:

  1. Taking time out to reflect is good. Christmas was nice, but I love all the blank spaces on the calender for the year yet to be. Family and friends have become increasingly important to me and I can see how you long to be part of your old community again. Our house is big, old and a bit unmanageable. I could not imagine living anywhere else but where we are at the moment and for me it's taking one day at a time. Whatever you decide, Marianne I wish you a year of peace and happiness xx

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    1. Thank you Molly, and wishing the same to you. I think you are wise to stay where you are for as long as you possibly can. There is such value in continuity and stability. Friends and family are always the priority and although I long for a time past, I do wonder if it is possible to recreate it, so much time having passed.

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  2. So hard to work out what works for you as a couple. I would have loved to move down to Devon where my parents used to live and my sister and her family still are. Younger son and his family have also moved down there. But for my husband all his life, professional and personal, has been lived in the north. His children are here. He is very happy to drive and be away and produce a lot of time spent in Devon but he really doesn't want to uproot himself. It has taken a lot of time for us to understand that as, in the way that couples do, we have tried very hard to accommodate each other and it has been difficult to express things which cause hurt. So we will probably stay here and move house. And that is another whole story... Good luck whatever you do. The important thing seems to be to keep talking and thinking and, at some point, to be prepared to make a decision and stick to it!

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    1. I do empathise with what you say about couples trying to accommodate each other. The problem is when you both compromise and neither gets what they really want, so as ever, communication is crucial. My husband is very clear now that he wants to stay in Suffolk and I am not sure enough about my own feelings to be the instigator of change. We both feel Kent has changed a great deal and that it is increasingly crowded and too expensive to us and wonder what sort of life would be available to us there. Things move on.

      I look forward to seeing how your life evolves and whether you will move house in the area. Must plan another visit to North Wales and come and stay in your little cottage before you go! It would be so good to meet you. Let me know if you are in my part of the world too, Elizabeth.

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  3. It sounds like change is in the air for you. It's exciting to have the freedom to travel and spend some time wherever you wish. The photos of the landscape where you are now are lovely. My husband and I will celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary this summer, so we're making travel plans with our children and grandchildren. We live in the mountains of CO, but we're going to rent at the beach in CA.

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    1. I love to dream Barb and it's fun to explore options, but eventually we have to make a clear decision. Perhaps we will just stay where we are but travel more.

      Congratulations on your 50th wedding anniversary and enjoy the travelling with your family - what a wonderful achievement!

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  4. Hello Marianne,
    Your life sounds exciting with so many great options. I love the thought of renting in France for a year and I think that it is wise to rent as opposed to buying. Sometimes it is difficult to move back which we did one time only to find that in a few years many of our friends had made plans to move away once they reached retirement age and were selling the big house for a smaller simpler lifestyle We have several trips to new countries and places planned for this year
    Helen

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    1. I love options, but they are unsettling too Helen. I would never buy abroad now as there are too many horror stories of people feeling trapped after the magic fades and the harsh winters in the South West start to take their toll. I agree with what you say about moving back. It wouldn't be the same and people have moved on, so maybe I just have to accept that we have too much to lose.

      Enjoy your travel this year - I wonder where you will go? Hope to read about it in your blog.

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  5. You live in a lovely part of England as I can see from your photos, but I know you've been thinking about moving for some time. I hope that you come to a decision that will fulfil your hopes and dreams as you have several options. It took a while to feel settled where we are now as we had good friends and social life in Berkshire, but I now know we made the right decision to come to Yorkshire where we are so near the border with beautiful Derbyshire. We often see our daughter who comes to visit whilst living near her sister. Your family events this year will bring you together from time-to-time. We haven't as yet made any travel plans for this year although we hope to go to Italy as usual. Some family members have milestone birthdays and I'm sure we shall be celebrating those in a special way.

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    1. We do live in a very special and unusual part of the England Linda and it has certainly crept under our skin and is starting to feel more like home at last. We spent some time in East Sussex after Christmas and are seriously questioning whether moving back would work. It is much more crowded and expensive and we have become accustomed to a different pace of life here in Suffolk.

      Glad to hear you are feeling more settled and are enjoying Yorkshire and Derbyshire. I love to see your posts as I know so many of the places you are exploring, having grown up there myself. Great that you see so much of your family too and have your trips to Italy for variety. It sounds like a good balance.

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  6. Change and challenges always seem to be there. There are those we can do nothing about but others offer us opportunities that we should not pass by. "If not now, when" is an expression that I have tried to embrace. However, now the challenges have taken over and dealing with them has been a struggle for me. Somehow though, I will see them through with hope and courage.

    Your opportunities are many, and it is good to be practical, but it is better to go with your dreams.

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    1. Which is good really as it keeps us interested and involved with life. Sorry though to hear that the challenges have taken over. I do hope your optimism and positivity will see you through. Good luck with that.

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  7. Marianne, reading your post as this still new year unrolls its fresh days has rung some notes that I am also considering. From what I've learned from your previous posts, I think that you are positive person, and a positive person who does think things through.

    Isn't it good to be able to test some thoughts in writing and then to be able to open those thoughts up to folks who might indeed be kindred spirits? I particularly admire the wisdom given in some prior comments here, and will take them to my own heart and mind as I begin some juggling of future directions.

    xo

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    1. I wonder what changes are in the air for you Frances? What is good about blogging is that some posts can really trigger a chain of thought. I really thought I had nothing to say at the moment until I read Elizabeth's post which started me thinking...

      Look forward to hearing more about your plans!

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  8. gosh, how I can relate to this post , Catherine! We are very alike, I think. We too love Suffolk, however, have not possibly chosen the best bit of it to settle in and we also have long-held plans to retire to France! We seem to spend an inordinate amount of time browsing Rightmove, but with no real plan in mind and just hoping that the right property will jump out at us. I hope your plans will be realised this year, whatever they turn out to be and what a lot you have to look forward to in terms of celebrations too ...

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    1. We must meet soon! Are you free on Feb 13th? Perhaps we could meet halfway. I'm sure we have lots to talk about Ann. (Btw, Rightmove is my second home!).

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  9. Ah, yes, I can definitely relate! I'm not quite ready to write publicly about the choices we are likely to make this year, although I've alluded to them on my blog. But a huge lifestyle change is in the offing, and coming so quickly in my retirement, I'm feeling unsettled about it, so much loss. Yet every time I examine the options, a decisive move makes sense. We've had 20 glorious years on the waterfront of a beautiful ltiny island with wonderful community. But all the kids, the grandkids, live in the city, where we can afford a nice condo, if we're lucky, but not a house. Yet there are many exciting possibilities in sharing urban life together, and it's where we come from, so there is family. It was difficult to nurture friendships anywhere while I was working, and now I'm feeling rather in Limbo, ready to invest the time to build my social life again, but not yet in the place where we will be (ours will be a multi-step process, and the first step will be selling the island house. The market in the city is crazy, and we will have to have all financing in hand, be ready to make an offer within a day or two of finding our potential home). At any rate, yes, I understand the numerous conundrums (I suppose that would properly be conundra?). Wishing you much discernment...

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    1. Change is so unsettling. Discernment definitely needed this end! I hope you can find a way forward - living in the city and close to family seems a worthwhile goal but much heart-searching and disruption too. Good luck with that.

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  10. Happy New Year, Marianne!

    Your beautifully written post is filled with so many of the same questions and concerns I have had to contend with in my own life, and if it makes you feel any better, MY two places were actually countries, and to make it even more challenging, they were on different sides of that great, big pond!

    Sometimes, though, life makes the decision for you. Case in point: I left my dream home in the Cretan countryside, my wonderful friends and the sea, this past May, for my hometown of Toronto, Canada, and if it weren't for a situation, or rather, a personal predicament, I probably would have stayed put.

    I believe that your decision will come about very naturally and things will finally be clear as day. Hang in there, and in the meantime, enjoy the here and now.

    Poppy x
    P.S. Sounds like you just may be 'committing' to a new word to define your world, after all!;))

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    1. Happy 2016, Poppy. I had noticed you were posting from Toronto and not Crete recently. I do hope your situation resolves. Clear as day sounds just right but I wish it would hurry up as the indecision is hard to live with. At the same time, it seems right to spend some time re-evaluating our lives right now. Good to see you!

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  11. I am putting off a big decision and at the moment have a foot in two camps which is working for now but will probably have to turn into both feet in one camp at some unspecified time in the future. As you know we love East Sussex and find it much quieter and friendlier than London but we have other commitments now which we did not know about when we first put retirement plans into motion. So complicated. I hope we can make an unforced decision at the right time. Good luck with your planning and cogitation.

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    1. Good luck with your big decision too, Lucille. It seems rather a lot of us are pondering the way forward at the moment. I wonder if you will go to East Sussex eventually?

      Do have a look at East Anglia too if you can - it is like E Sussex 30 years ago and has a lost in time atmosphere which is growing on me. If only the children were settling this side of the Thames!

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  12. I will follow your period of discernment with interest, Marianne. I can see that there are many changes - wonderful ones - coming in the near future, and I understand your desire to make a commitment.
    When we sold Pondside in '14 I thought my heart would break. Then I thought we'd made the most brilliant decision. Now I waffle between the two, but am mostly satisfied. This smaller house, in town, will allow us freedom to travel without the worry of property and animals. More decisions!!!

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  13. This saga has been rumbling along for a while now Pondside and it's time we made up our minds which way to go (or stay). For now we continue to consider our options but must commit soon. I'm glad you are feeling satisfied with your decision and the move is working for you, especially with all your family commitments.

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