Friday, 4 January 2013

Moving On

Unwelcome Shades of Schadenfreude
At the beginning of December 2012 I was given 2 months notice to quit home and life in my cottage at Dartington Hall. No reason was given and legally no reason is required to be given. My deadline - 31st January 2013. When told how distressing this would be the response was that your comments have been noted - we require possession of the property on or before the 31st January 2013.
I have since been working pretty well flat-out until Christmas Eve and providing the comforting space of a family home for my children and I to gather and to celebrate being together for Christmas and the New Year. 
I find that I swing between indescribable feelings of overwhelming anxiety and a totally invigorating sense of optimism. I have spent the last few days, especially that wonderful 3am time, trying to coax myself from this crushing anxiety and shock towards a more serene view of my possibilities. And there are possibilities of course. And my position in the scheme of life on planet earth is without doubt a good place to be. 
I am a natural optimist and can remain buoyant in turbulent times if and when I feel connected to what I call my higher self. If only I knew how to stay connected all the time! It seems to me that life conspires to shape, hone and teach us on deeper levels and each time, that level gets a little deeper. Losing my connection to my higher self is perhaps the most alienating aspect. It is such a dark and lonely place. But that is where true compassion is found, for myself and for others. I have learned over the years some good ways of re-finding that connection but there are always more ways to find. This is also one of the themes of my book. More about that later. 
In many ways I sense an undertow, a current at work in all of this that is beyond my control yet in my best interests. Something almost elemental. But right now, somewhere in my mind I see glimpses of my own take on schadenfreude, which disturbs me. I imagine myself telling the director of Dartington Property how heartless and cruel this dismissal of my life, my home, the refuge of my children, whilst they navigate their way through this world really is. I want to blame these bureaucrats for this situation that 'they' have inflicted on us. But then I soon realise that dwelling in the alien land of schadenfreude only destroys my own balance and that in the world of bureaucracy you travel at your own peril with the ever present danger of losing your heart and soul, a little like a very grim fairy tale! 
Bureaucracy needs a beating heart if it is to work properly. Dartington does seem to be in danger of losing it's heart. "Dartington has lost it's heart" is a phrase I hear constantly in this area. An unused heart can gradually turn to stone.
I have always defended Dartington. I have known and loved the place since I was a child and I got to know Ruth Ash, the daughter of Dorothy and Leonard Elmhirst, the founders of the spirit of regeneration and vision for Dartington Hall, in my twenties. Ruth taught me many things, generosity, kindness, compassion and practical things such as how to spin, dye and weave. I went on to create a knitwear business, employing over 40 out workers in rural villages during the 1970's, making beautiful hand-spun, hand-dyed and hand-knitted jumpers and scarves. I paid eight times the going rate because I sold them in Sacs on 5th Avenue, Henri Bendel, to Hollywood and The White House and even on Rodeo Drive - remember Pretty Woman? I hope the shop assistants were kinder than in the film! Ruth Ash was very proud of me, in fact she became like a surrogate mother to me for a while. I loved her very much. I can't imagine what she would have to say about this situation. Well actually I can.              
My children are fledged, though some flight feathers are still growing and I know that not having a family base to come back to will be a challenge for them too. Insecurity is in the air. I have always felt that it is my role to provide this as I have been the single parent after my divorce.
The pressure of having to move so suddenly and at Christmas has meant I have found it impossible to find a place to rent that could offer the refuge of a family base that includes accommodating dog, cat and hens.
So I have decided to down-size, to simplify my life for as long as I need to and have been looking at rooms to rent. I am off to see a couple in Falmouth today. It is the last day of the holidays with my daughter so we will be spending it looking for a room for me together. I do like the culture of Falmouth and have a very lovely friend there plus when I first left home for my what was not called a gap year in the 1960's I went to St Mawes which is just a ferry ride across the water on this delightful little boat. The same boat is still running!

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