About Me

IMG_1392_AnneBlogPortraitHello! And thank you for visiting my blog.

My name is Anne. I am 36. I have no children or pets, and no mortgage. I live in a rented flat in the centre of Brighton.

In the spring of 2014, when I was 33 and a half, I decided that enough was enough. In defiance of my usual risk-averse and routine-hugging nature, I gave up my well paid corporate job after 10 years to take a six-month career break.

I always knew that my old job wasn’t really me. I just didn’t know what was really me. After studying English Literature at university, I realised that a previously-coveted life in academia wasn’t what I wanted after all. Doing a PhD straight after my Master’s was always my only career plan – I never had a plan B. So with plan A abandoned, I took a temping job in an office instead to save up money to go travelling with my then boyfriend. Needless to say, it never happened. Meanwhile, the temping job turned into a permanent job, and then a career.

I handed in my notice in January 2014 and left work the following April. I had no clear plan for my break, other than to find interesting projects to work on and interesting people to work with, so I could expand my horizons, develop my skills and confidence, and gain inspiration for my next career move. I focused on ‘the arts’ in the broadest sense because that is where my natural affinity lies. Other than my doodles, I don’t really make anything arty myself – but I love playing a role in other people making interesting stuff.

Lots of people asked me why I didn’t go travelling. ‘Going travelling’ seems to have become a kind of integral part of growing up in the Western world and being an interesting and rounded human being. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to travel – maybe one day I will get the chance. But I wanted to do something constructive with my break, and I wanted to steer my career in a different direction. Going away for six months would have meant coming back to nothing and still not knowing what I wanted to do with my life. And, as Seneca once said, you should change your attitude and not your sky.

So, I stayed in Brighton and I did a variety of different jobs and projects, most of them voluntary but some of them paid. The paid jobs meant I could enjoy myself and go on holiday a couple of times, and that I could stretch my six months to about eight.

This blog is my way of recording and reflecting on my experiences. It started as a mainly personal endeavour (I know myself well enough to recognise that the obligation to post regularly would be the only way to ensure I kept up the writing), but I greatly enjoy other people reading what I write and love to hear from you. It’s been hugely encouraging to read your comments as I put what I feared might be a really stupid idea into practice.

Writing this blog also allows me to deal with my natural tendencies to worry about things, and to put things into perspective. Sometimes, when you write down what’s bugging you, you realise it sounds absolutely ridiculous. I find this very helpful.

Before I handed in my notice, I asked myself ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’ This made me realise that I was enough steps away from ending my days in the gutter to consider that risk as reasonably marginal. So far, so good.

So what do geese have to do with anything? As recorded in my first post, finding a blog name is really bloody hard. In the end, I settled on a reference to this marvellous poem by Mary Oliver, which has always been one of my favourites:

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting-
over and over announcing your place
In the family of things.

The call of those wild geese seemed quite apt. Also, geese are not too hard to draw, which is an added bonus.

All images in this blog are my own doodles. Feel free to use them, but pleaseย credit me if you do.

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65 thoughts on “About Me

  1. First of all – congratulations!
    I love the attitude you convey – this is a brilliant message of positivity!!!
    You are not insane; you make total sense to me. You are grabbing your life with both hands and you are not compromising – HURRAY!
    I think this blog is a creative, innovative move and I trust that opportunity will come of it.

    NO FEAR!!! xxxxxxxxxx

  2. So very well done! It’s a step in the right direction! As we spend so much of our time working it’s so very important to find something that we really want to do. The key to happiness me thinks. ๐Ÿ™‚
    I also think you are very brave and a talented writer, from what I have seen so far!
    I look forward to read your blog and impatient to discover what you get up to in these 183 days.
    xx

    • Thanks so much for your very kind comments Cรฉcile. I don’t know what will happen, and what will actually happen will probably be different from anything I’ve thought might happen, but I just need to give myself a kick up the backside! ‘Life is too short’ is a cliche, but, well, life IS too short to be spending all your time doing something you don’t really enjoy. I admire people like you who do do want they want to do, although obviously no one’s job is ever completely what you want to do. We just keep searching I guess! But I couldn’t do this without moral support, so reading nice comments is a massive boost ๐Ÿ™‚ xx

  3. Wat een dappere stap, Anne! Heel veel mooie, boeiende en inspirerende ervaringen gewenst! Groetjes & liefs uit Holland, van Erna

  4. Well done to you Anne! I think that life changes in one of two ways, you either have a defining moment where you consider your options and are motivated to change something, or you have a critical incident which can be good or bad (Usually bad) but is out of your control and life changes. There will be a lot of us back at PfP envious of your brave new world, and you will be absolutely fine I am sure of that. You will go on to do something really fulfilling and interesting! If I don’t see you at work before you leave I will wish you all the best now and I will follow your exploits via your blog. Good luck Noel x

  5. Now then Miss Rupert, time to turn off Kyle and get networking…like a BOSS! As I sit here for the second hour of stationary traffic on the A1 in my company issue Ford Mondeo, this seems an appropriate moment to congratulate you on escaping the rat race! Rarely has the advice ‘never travel anywhere without a good book’ been more obvious. Well done and best wishes for the next few months; I’m sure you’ll make a success of this time, however ‘success’ is defined. I look forward to reading about it.

    Good luck. Mark (the frog)

    • Thank you Mark, and commiserations on being stuck in the Mondeo. I’m not really sure where I’ll end up, but look forward to getting on it like a boss. Hopefully I will get to promote synergy somewhere along the way…!

  6. Dear Anne,
    What a nice name for a blog (lovely poem, too; where I live, I see and hear the very geese you painted almost every day). I admire your courage! I already knew that you are intelligent and talented, but you are really brave as well. Hopefully you will find what you are looking for in the coming months. In the mean time I am sure your talents will not go unnoticed and something will offer itself and help you along in the direction you want to go. I will visit your blog to see whatโ€™s happening. Exciting ๐Ÿ™‚
    I wish you lots of luck and all the best. Love Renรฉe

    • Thank you for the kind words Renรฉe. I’m not sure what will happen, but feel oddly positive about it and can’t wait to get started! Thanks so much for your support, it means a lot x

  7. Congratulations Anne. I sit here in another faceless corporate hotel room wondering what life is really about wishing I had something so exciting to look forward to – good on you!!

    You’ve escaped the cage, now its time for you to really fly!! Enjoy..

  8. Hi Anne. As someone who made a similar escape last year I can tell you that you won’t regret this. Whilst I only changed company not career it has been great and I’ve been able to learn loads of new skills and made many new friends. All the very best with wherever your new adventure takes you. I’ll see you at the end of March. Gina

    • Thank you Gina! And great that you’re coming to my leaving do. I’m hearing overwhelmingly positive reports from people that have left, which has to be a good sign…! Really look forward to catching up.

  9. I’m sure this break will do you a world of good! i took a 3-month break a year into my job, and it helped me a LOT. Work-life seemed better, and then a year later I’m here- I’ve quit my job as an IT engineer and will now teach kids of a low-income school for 2 years.
    I’m excited for you ๐Ÿ™‚ Glad I can watch this journey of yours as it unfolds.
    Oh and I’ve given you a Leibster award > http://thesalmonyatra.wordpress.com/2014/03/30/the-salmon-meets-her-neighbors/
    For what it’s worth, it’ll send readers over to your blog and I’m sure they’re going to like what they find!
    Wishing you the best, Anne!

    • Thanks so much for your lovely comments Sara, and for the Liebster award, a real honour particularly as it’s from someone I don’t know! I’m just writing a post on what blogging means to me, and getting encouraging messages from strangers is definitely a huge benefit. I will answer your 11 questions in my next post, and even though you’ve absolved me I will do my best to honour the spirit of the award and pass it on to other bloggers. All the best to you too ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Dag lieve Anne, wat een dappere stap die je hebt genomen. Ik wens je 183 en nog veel meer hele goede dagen toe. Dat meisje van de negerzoenen zoek die maar weer op. Liefs Anneke

  11. You really are The Bravest Girl Out There! Loving the words and loving the visuals. Enjoy the adventure and remember – the toughest part is already behind! xx

  12. Congratulations, Anne on leaving the corporate world. I was one of those dissatisfied people, so I understand what you are feeling, exciting but a little scary to know, “if it is to be it is up to me”. Your lazy days on the beach will give you lots of time to decide what you really want from your life. Good luck and dream big, you can do this! You have a lovely writing style. Will be watching your posts.

  13. Your story is so similar to my story! With a few differences: I am 39 and do have a husband/kid/mortgage, I’ve been off my job of 10 years for just over a year though I’ve been on stress leave – I am now preparing to go back (Gah!) – and I don’t seem to have the initiative and the “get out there and do something” vibe that you do. I applaud you for that last one especially!

    I, too, have a degree in English, though my MA is in European Union Studies (I thought I’d get a job out of that one…). I work in the government at a job that I took because I needed a “real” job and, without a PhD, couldn’t quite figure out what else I should do. I started my blog to work out whether this life I had been living really was “it” and to try to find myself again. Though I haven’t collaborated on any projects, I have learned a lot through my writing, interacting in blogland, and my time off in general. I’ve discovered that my job doesn’t have to be “it”; my job pays the bills, nothing more. Writing is “it.” But I don’t want to HAVE to write, so my job gives me the luxury of being able to play with writing, to write what I want and to use my space online to create the one thing that is truly and fully me. Before I had this time, writing was but a teenage dream I had left behind.

    Now, as I say, I’m starting to prepare to head back to work. It will be a slightly different position in the same group I left. Hopefully, the time off has prepared me to approach the workplace with boundaries intact. Hopefully, I will be able to protect my writing time.

    Finally, just wanted to say that your blog is beautiful!

    • Thank you so much for your long and personal comment. I can’t tell you how lovely it is when what I am doing strikes a chord with people. At first I wasn’t sure if I was just plain crazy, so each time someone says they understand or support what I am doing or have done a similar thing themselves it’s a real boost.

      It sounds like you’ve used you time off very well and reached some important insights. Also don’t do yourself down for a perceived lack of ‘get out there and do something’ – after all you are a prolific writer, mother and by the sounds of it generally responsible adult ๐Ÿ™‚ Your blog looks very interesting, I look forward to following and reading your posts.

      Going back to work must be incredibly daunting – I’d say don’t be too hard on yourself and set unrealistic goals for writing etc. as it will probably take a bit of energy just to settle back into things after such a long time off. I’m sure you will naturally gravitate towards writing again and it will continue to serve as a creative outlet as well as a counterbalance for the routines of work. Best of luck!!

      • You are so not crazy! You are brave – that’s what everyone kept telling me and, though I’m not given to thinking things like that about myself, they were right in that I now know I made the right decision. As have you!

        Thanks for the follow and good luck with your adventure too!

  14. I’m so glad I just found your blog. I’ve been thinking a lot lately (well, for a very long time really) at how easy it is to just get caught up in the day-to-day stuff and be so busy that there’s no space to life your head up and think about an alternative. I’m feeling very inspired – thank you!

    • Thanks so much for the follow and kind comments. I still find it hard to make space to think but know it’s really important. I’m going to try and maintain thinking space even when I go back to gainful employment – it’s easy just to go along with the current otherwise. Good luck lifting your head ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Hi Anne, I did the exact same thing last year (7 months actually), although, it didn’t have the ending I had imagined!
    I am back at a job I left 7 years ago, due to a convenient offer whilst still on career change highway. The best advice I have for you is do not, do not go back to what you were doing before because it is convenient or comfortable or because you feel needed; the same problems exist and the same feeling of dissatisfaction will eventually creep back in. I did something during my time off that made me recognise something in myself, that I think will lead me onto a different path, it was a only 8 days of the entire 7 months but it has struck a deep chord with me and gives me all the vision I need for the future. Remember the smallest thing may be the most significant, and to quote from Hamlet, “We may know what we are now, but not what we may be.”

    best regards

    • Thanks Nigel, it’s interesting to hear you say that. I am quite determined not to go back to what I was doing before – partly the reason I did not take a sabattical but just pulled the rug completely. But sometimes offers come along that you can’t refuse and it always depends on circumstances so don’t be too hard on yourself ๐Ÿ™‚ I think I am starting to realise that it’s just a continuous process and that I probably won’t have found The Answer at the end of my break – but hopefully I will have stumbled across some insights that will help me along. I know those insights can come from many places, even a chance encounter or brief experience – as evidenced by what you describe. Good luck on your own journey and getting closer to what you may be!

  16. Hi Anne,

    Interesting and well-written blog, congratulations.

    The topic leaves me with mixed feelings, though, since I live in an African country with a (very) high unemployment rate where – for the majority of the adult population – finding a job is merely about survival and not much else.

    On the one hand I understand why – in your culture – taking a career break would be considered a courageous thing to do, and I too applaud your courage in that regard.
    On the other hand, I have had extensive first-hand experience of the effects of long-term (forced) unemployment – sometimes spanning 2 or more generations – on individuals, families, communities. It is not a pretty sight.

    I have never been able to make sense of these 2 totally different ways of “being in the world” – one where you have the luxury (?) of choices and the other where you simply have to make do (daily) with what comes your way – but I suspect I am not the only one.

    Good luck on your journey.

    • Thank you for your kind words and comments Dalene.

      I fully appreciate that what I am doing is only possible because I was lucky enough to be born in a particular part of the world, and under particular circumstances. One of the reasons why I stuck at my old job for so long was the awareness that I was lucky to have a job when so many people don’t. Not just in South Africa, either (I assume you live there since your blog is written in Afrikaans) – right here in the UK, an increasing and alarming number of people are reliant on food banks because they cannot find work and can’t make ends meet. My previous employer was a large social housing provider, many of whose customers were jobless and came from backgrounds where generation upon generation is unemployed. As you say, the impact on communities and individuals is not pretty.

      And then there are so many people around the world who work exhaustingly long hours in poorly paid back-breaking jobs without any prospects to lift themselves and their families out of poverty. What gives me the right to feel dissatisfied in a well-paid job with an employer that gives its workers iPhones, paid holidays and ergonomic work stations? Of course I am a spoilt Westerner – no question about it. Most of the ‘problems’ in my life are Western problems, brought on by wealth and spare time and the luxury of too much choice.

      However, my awareness of all of the above was for me not enough reason to ‘put up and shut up.’ I felt that I was at least responsible for my own life and happiness and decided to take action. I know it’s a selfish endeavour. I also know that this awareness does not absolve me – but I struggle to work out how I can make a real impact on those huge injustices and inequalities in the world. Maybe I should think about it some more, rather than just accepting the situation as one I cannot change.

      All best wishes, Anne

  17. Hi Anne, will keep this comment shorter but I’ll probably fail ๐Ÿ™‚

    In my opinion, what you’re doing is not “selfish”, you simply made decisions based on/in your reality. How can it and why should it be otherwise.

    I, for one, really wish that more people could view spells of unemployment as a challenge to extend themselves and broaden their horizons, but what I have observed amongst poor, unemployed people in Africa and Asia is mere desperation and hopelessness and so on. That is why I left the original comment – always interesting to compare different realities.

    After many years, I have been unable to figure out how to have any meaningful impact on the gross economic inequalities I’ve observed in a few countries, so if you figure out a way – let me know ๐Ÿ™‚

    I meant it when I wished you well on your journey.
    Hamba Kahle. (Go well.) Tsamae ka Khotso. (Go in peace).

  18. Congrats for being featured by WP today! I love your self portrait, and your geese. Very lovely drawings throughout the site.
    I think most of us hear the “Call of the Wild Geese” – I hear them on a regular basis. My heart yearns to fly off in the different direction they’re calling me, but my practical, fearful and dependent brain holds me back.
    You’re so wise to take advantage of your youth to do this soul-searching career break while you can. And, from the sound of your recent post, it looks like you’re having some marvelous opportunities presenting themselves! Best wishes on your ‘harsh and exciting’ flight!

  19. Hi Anne, I am 31 and in a very similar situation to yours. I feel so lucky to have found your blog, as I’ve just started wondering about what I’m going to do now that I left a cushy job after ten years in the corporate world. Anyway, I look forward to reading about your experiences. Meanwhile, Brighton is gorgeous, Mary Oliver is the best, and you’ve done a damn find job finding a name for your blog.

    • Hello Kaiti, thanks for getting in touch and thanks for your kind words! Giving up the job is step number one – I’m sure the rest will fall into place somehow. Let me know how you get on, it would be great to share experiences. Personally, I haven’t looked back or regretted the decision for a second – so go for it ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. I wish you the best for the 6 months and, much more important, for the rest of your life.

    I got your blog cause I love geese.
    Indeed at the age of 39 I left my (non-existent) career to volunteer as WWOOF (actually I turned 40th in a farm in Norway at -20ยฐC) during one year.
    Do I have a better job now? Absolutely NOT. My life is much more “unstable”
    Do I regreat it? Absolutely NOT (actually what I regreat is I haven’t done it before). It was an unbelievable experience, I am a different person;;and I wanna keep on doing what I like.
    What did I get? Awarness.,

    What’s right and wrong?
    I guess right is following your path.
    But it’s not that easy in this society that tell you – directly and indirectly – that the meaning of life is safety.
    But to me it seems such a shame, wasting your life in something you don’t like just in name of social security. It’s written nowhere that following your heart get you to a “happy end” but surely there is no happiness in not being who you are.

    I remember a line from “Into the wild” that says: Career is an invention of XX Century. So, if, for thousand of years,,they made it without a career-life probably we can do the same: there are many ways to survive but they are all catalogued as unconventional, so doing that you are already labelled as “freak”. What I mean it’s difficult to go against the main straem: but I think it worths.

    Good Luck!

    • Daniele, thank you so much! And how wonderful you found me through your love of geese. I’ve heard absolutely great things about WWOOFing – what a super idea. As I am further advancing into this break, even though it’s only a few months, I am already emerging as a different person with different priorities. Yes, my life will probably be less stable and I’ll probably have a lot less money than I did before. But already I am so much happier and less stressed than I ever was before – the latter is certainly worth more. So true what you say about the concept of ‘career’ being relatively new – there are so many ways to live well, and working ever harder for ever more pay and ‘status’ is not necessarily the best. Good luck to you too, and thanks again for sharing your thoughts.

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