So what's happened in the Mugpi world in the past half year? Well in short - quite a lot!
The biggest change is that after 25 years of working in IT, I have taken an opportunity that has come my way to take some time off. In April I was offered a separation package by my company (a large IT organisation who are undertaking a "cost reducing restructuring"). After mulling over the pros and cons of staying versus leaving for a while, I decided to take what seems like a golden opportunity. I can't say that my pay-off was exactly a lottery jackpot win, but it is enough to tidy me over for a while. So this has released me from work nicely in time for the summer - so I could watch most of the World Cup and can take a lot of time with the kids over their long summer holiday. I can also start to tackle some of the many little projects I now want to do around the house. Importantly it also gives me time to recharge my batteries, to re-consolidate and to think about what I want to do next.
As you could have guessed, the minute I made the decision to leave, a massive weight was lifted from my shoulders. Obviously there was the short term rush of elation, but it soon dawned on me that the job I had was making me seriously depressed. I was under the miss-belief that a job that allowed me to work for home with semi-flexible hours was a good thing for a single dad of three. After all I could fit my conference calls around the school run around, I was there at 3pm when the kids came home and I was always here during the school holidays. And on paper it should have been ideal... but now I realise that sitting alone in my little office all day, every day, doing a job I didn't particularly enjoy, for a company I didn't really care for, following processes and procedures that seemed designed to hinder rather than help my job was slowly killing me off on the inside. I don't want to be melodramatic, but it felt like a blackness that was spreading though my insides. To make matters worse, I dont have a "significant other" to help distract me occasionally, to help offer moral support, to act as an emotional outlet and to be fellow adult comrade.
From the moment my decision was made I really started to feel differently - different in a truly deep-down way. I now wake up on a morning looking forward to the day ahead and ready to bound out of bed (well sometimes!). I felt motivated and for the first time in a long while, I felt excited about the future and what it will bring. More than one person said I now look 10 years younger and, to be honest, that is how I feel. I think that a combination of widowhood, single parent stress and a job that was killing me emotionally, had slowly change from the "old" Martin into someone quite different. I now feel much more like the original, generally happy, generally optimistic, much more light hearted person that I used to be.
Don't get me wrong though - it's not all perfect. For one thing there are the occasional thoughts that flash across my head like.. "Oh my God! What have I done?" or "How will I pay for the kid's treats and (eventually) university/first car/wedding etc if I don't sort a reasonable income?". I then just try and remind myself how depressed and unhappy I was before - that usually takes the edge of these thoughts. After all, there is no point being able to provide materially for the children if they have a permanently unhappy and depressed parent - made more acute as I'm the only parent they've got and can't turn to Mum if I'm having a bad day, week or month.
Already it is 6 weeks since I officially finished work. This time has flown by really quickly - in fact I don't know where all that time went! I've completed a few domestic projects, the key one being to deck over and furnish a corner of the garden so we have somewhere nice to sit out through the summer. I still have a long list of jobs I want to do - the sort of jobs that I had no interest in even thinking about let alone starting during the period when my wife was ill and in the initial few years after she died.
I have also started to run much more now that I have more time available to me, though I do sometimes think it is a bit of a luxury to take out 1-2 hours of a day for this. But that's the beauty of my current circumstance... if I really want to do something and provided I can fit it around the kids, then I will blooming well do it!
Naturally at some point I do need to sort out a job or some way to earn an income (and a way to plug the gap in my pension (I'm 46 so some way off retirement yet)). But I have the luxury of taking my time to decide about this. Maybe I will try something a bit different - I've a number of thoughts and options (but I'm keep these for another blog in the next week or two).
For the first time in over 20 years I can't say with any certainty what I'll be doing in a 12 month's time. Whilst this is a slightly scary thought for me, it is also exciting, exhilarating, and it makes me feel more alive than I have for a long, long time. I don't think this can be all that bad a thing!
The future is bright, the future is mine! :-D