Earlier this year someone mentioned it was the Year of the Horse. They said this would mean ideas or tangents in your life would take off, fast, like a horse out of a racing gate. Maybe you wouldn't be ready for the changes that would come? But maybe they’d be the best thing to happen to you.
I don’t believe in stuff like that really, I don’t believe in anything – but the horse analogy captured my attention so I looked it up. Essentially, in the Year of the Horse people behave like a free spirits, they are untamed, galloping ahead, taking risks. A lucky year, but fast moving and full of upheaval, and if you are reckless then a year full of hurdles to jump.
The Year of the Horse started in February and I couldn’t help but remember it often during this year, as so much seemed to change. Sometimes I’ve felt like I barely recognise myself, other times I guess things seem the same as they always have.
Some real life things have definitely changed. The biggest has been that in June I left my day job. That has led to some interesting shifts in other areas, but for now let me tell you about leaving work.
I started working '9 to 5' ten years ago. I had finished my degree and all I wanted was to buy a house. After travelling, and renting, all I wanted was a place I could decorate the way I wanted, to cultivate a garden and to say I had a ‘home’. A government job seemed a secure thing, a stable way to get an income, and buy a house. So I did just that. I worked in government for ten years and had some great times and some awful times. I met some awesome people who became great friends, and came across some total freaking weirdos. There were times when I had a blast, but other times where I was barely functional from panic attacks and anxiety, and long stretches of mind-numbing boredom, frustration and gloom. I had a house, and needed an income to keep it, so I stayed in my stable job.
I did photography on the side, sometimes I got paid but mostly I did it just for fun. Starting this blog (in 2009) was a great outlet, I really enjoyed sharing my photos, it gave me a renewed focus as I taught myself how to use a digital camera and Photoshop (having studied and worked in photography forever ago, when everything was on film). I also always kept up with other creative habits, like painting, writing, making collages and collecting stuff. It was ok. Ten years went by.
Towards the end of my time in government things turned much more towards the un-fun than the fun. I got stranded in a job where I had nothing to do, certainly nothing that made use of my skills and experience. If you have been flat out for a while, doing nothing is kind of nice – you go on the internet, catch up on emails, meet a friend for coffee – but when it stretches on for weeks, months and eventually years, you go a certain kind of crazy. You live on a bit of a knife edge between rage and despair, hopelessly trying to fill your day with any tasks that come to hand, stretching out your move in Words With Friends so it might just take five minutes off the day. Your self-worth plummets. Your motivation to turn up at all is zero. You have long running fantasies about finding the person who left a dirty fork on the bench and stabbing them with it. There was other stuff, as well as the boredom, but that was probably the biggest, longest running problem.
For me it meant a lot of crying in the morning as I made the dreaded journey a place I increasingly loathed. Eventually it morphed into constant nausea, shaking, sleeplessness, heart palpitations and breathlessness. The bouts of panic attacks I’d had over the years settled into less dramatic but still crippling levels of daily anxiety which went on for so long I wondered what was ‘normal’ anymore and if I would ever feel how I ‘used to’. I found it hard to be motivated to do things I used to enjoy, including posting here.
So…. this story has ended fortunately for me, with a redundancy package that has meant I haven’t had to work for a while. I’ve been at home for a few months, having the time of my life. At first it was still bumpy as my mind/body/spirit recovered from all the stress. It was a long, grey winter here in Perth and I felt it every day. But spring came, all sunshine, green shoots and new leaves, and my mood improved. I started taking a lot of photos and writing blog posts in my head. Now, here we are!
I don’t know where this blog is headed. I am not sure how long I will keep it up, but I know that it doesn’t feel over yet. I also have loads of photos to share, so hang in there – they may be random, they may or may not have words attached, they may not even be in chronological order – but here we go!