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What did you want to be when you grew up? Friday January 9, 2015

I wanted to write.

You see, when I was six, in my last year of infant school, I contracted mumps, followed by severe chicken pox (really severe: I nearly died, I tell you), followed by glandular fever (they call it the "kissing disease": but I really wasn't that precocious, honest!) which meant I was in bed for a long, long, long time. In that time I discovered reading.

I read the Secret Seven and the Famous Five. I joined in with the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew as they solved their mysteries. The Lone Pine club had an extra member that they never knew about and Biggles always had me on his side (although I always liked Bertie best).

Eventually it dawned on me that Enid Blyton and Captain W E Johns hadn't written me into their stories!

So I started to write myself in. I wrote countless pointless stories featuring me and the Famous Five and Biggles into grey ruled exercise books which have long since disintegrated into dust motes.

At fifteen I read my first Mills and Boon romance and a secret passion was born.
Unsurprisingly I did rather well in my English exams and eventually ended up taking English as a degree.

I became a chartered accountant (huh?) and then, when marriage and financial security allowed, an Image consultant (yes: it is another passion, honest!)

Twenty years later, when I engaged a lifestyle coach, I didn't expect this!

With a suddenness and power I had not remotely envisaged the desire to write a romantic novel lifted its primeval head from the swamp of emotion and roared at me! So, I've done it: I've actually finished the first draft of my first romantic novel.

My husband, meanwhile, has been navigating terrors of his own.

He knew at the age of seven that he wanted to be a teacher. He is a natural teacher: children swarm to him in order to learn. For some reason he became a banker. (!!!) (Look: I got chartered accountant: let's not poke fingers here, OK?)

Having retired from banking he has now enrolled on a course to become a Teaching Assistant, with a view to becoming a Primary School Teacher.

So, at the age of 50+, we are at last realising our childhood dreams.

It's scary: not least because of the financial risks; but we have got something that really drives us, which really fuels us.

I hope so much we can pass this onto our children. So far we have one who wants status and security and Goldman Sachs after her Oxford degree and one who wants fluffy-wuffy animals and her dreams...

Heaven help me: I don't know which is best...

A Moodscope member.

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Anonymous Fri, Jan 9th 2015 @ 6:55am

Really liked your post Mary I always feel like I connect with your posts they are so warm and relateable. I never had a dream job idea when i was a child. I feel the tension between doing something for fun and needing to earn a living. I currently feel like im just paying the bills and feeling worn out working as a support worker. Im a social worker by training but got burnt out working in domestic violence area. Would love any ideas how to find work i enjoy from anyone.

Anonymous Fri, Jan 9th 2015 @ 7:20am

I followed my dream of becoming a teacher. It was a career I enjoyed until burn out. Be careful, Mary's husband, that you know when to stop. It is limitless, as can be the demands of others on you in that realm. If you are a kind, caring and conscientious person, it can get you. It threatened to destroy me. And I do not consider myself a pushover.

Mary Blackhurst Hill Fri, Jan 9th 2015 @ 8:22am

Hello Anonymous, (take two - hopefully without the punctuation errors this time) So pleased you like the post.

When I had to leave accountancy and didn't have a clue as to what I wanted to do I found the book What Color is your Parachute by Richard Bolles really useful. . The exercises are challenging (the only way I could make myself do them was by being accountable to a friend in another room/on the end of the telephone so that I would report in to them 90 minutes after I'd started each one so I actually did them properly.) Although I did not in the end follow the path the book lead me to, the process was illuminating to an amazing degree. I would recommend it whole-heartedly. All the best as you seek work that satisfies you. Anyone who works as a social worker for even one day has my awed respect.

Mary Blackhurst Hill Fri, Jan 9th 2015 @ 8:27am

Thank you Anonymous for your caring reply to the post. I will keep an eye on him. But I cannot believe that teaching (within the confines of his experience to date) can be half as gruelling as his previous job in banking. That was just very nasty indeed, and made worse by the fact that he is a kind and conscientious person working with selfish people just looking out for number one within an organisation driven by profits, status and hubris. He's so well out of that one.

Rupert Fri, Jan 9th 2015 @ 9:01am

Good post Mary. I have always struggled with what to advise my children in terms of career etc as first I dont want to push them into anything and would rather they did something they were comfortable with, second I think they have picked up on the fact that I dont really like my job but most of all I just want them to be HAPPY in what they do and to get some sense of satisfaction out of it. That is the problem with heading to the City it seems - good money but ultimately soulless and soul destroying.

Mary Blackhurst Hill Fri, Jan 9th 2015 @ 9:46am

You are so right Rupert (I sometimes imagine you in your pin-striped suit, labouring at your desk working with people who are not congenial to you, and feel very deeply for your lot in life: you don't have it easy at all). There's a verse in the bible, in Ecclesistes which says (translated fairly loosely) So I saw that there is nothing better for people than to be happy in their work. That is why we are here! No one will bring us back from death to enjoy life after we die. It just seems harsh that the jobs which bring in enough money to survive decently - even without luxury - are the jobs which can destroy us. I hope your children find something they love to do and can get paid (well) for doing it. All good wishes to you, my friend.

The Entertrainer Fri, Jan 9th 2015 @ 10:02am

You had me at, "I wanted to write."... and I knew it was you! You are wonderful. x

Penny Fri, Jan 9th 2015 @ 10:44am

Well done both of you of finding something that is meaningful. It took me losing my job through stress and depression before I had the courage to say "no more!" time to do what I want, but I do have to say that I can only do that now as I managed to get through the financially tough years of raising kids, caring for my parents and paying the mortgage.

Mary Blackhurst Hill Fri, Jan 9th 2015 @ 11:45am

Back Atcha!

Anonymous Fri, Jan 9th 2015 @ 2:22pm

I worked as a "successful" sales rep for many years. Successful because I made a lot of money. But I was also completely unhappy, lonely, scared, anxious...all the time. Finally a decision I made left me without a job and it forced me to sit down and think about what I would do if I could do anything...and then I did that. I am an interior designer now. I started my business six years ago, at the age of 40. My despression was still there alot on the beginning - fears on how I would pay my bills, was I good enough, was I a fraud, etc, but I didn't let go. I found a great therapist and kept going, and today at 46 I am more confident, happier, and feel more connected to my life than I ever have before. I don't make the money I used to make, at least not yet, but I make enough to support myself. So Bravo Mary and Mary's husband. As George Eliot said, It's never to late to live the life you've always wanted (or something like that).

Melanie Lowndes Fri, Jan 9th 2015 @ 4:37pm

Hi Mary, I also loved your post. My passion as a child was horses but i felt this would not be allowed. I became an inhouse lawyer for many years until a sort of burn out / change was fuelled by some good personal development courses. After a year of drifting (apart from starting to teach horse riding which I had qualified for on the fifth day after reducing to a four day week) I started to let and manage let flats for a friend and then for more friends and contacts. I do both now - teaching horse riding and managing flats. At times, I am beginning to find that also a bit of a drag if I am honest so who knows what will be next.... Well done you both for following your desires and also for being together supporting each other to do so! X

Anonymous Fri, Jan 9th 2015 @ 4:39pm

Hello Mary - thank-you for this;

as a 50 something teacher who really doesn't like the way teaching is going at the moment (when children and students become numbers in a spreadsheet for which teachers are increasingly held responsible, and on which their pay will soon depend ...) I am seriously considering leaving - which breaks my heart as there is nothing to beat the thrill of being with young people when they finally "get" it. One colleague summed it up very well when commenting that he wanted to spend his time and efforts on being a good teacher, rather than spending hours producing data and documents to prove that he is a good teacher - something is seriously wrong somewhere when you can't spend enough time preparing excellent lessons and marking / feedback because of the other "stuff"...

Sorry everyone, didn't mean to go on! And sorry Mary, I don't mean to put your husband off - sounds as if for him it will be a much better option. And by being a Teaching Assistant he will be in a really good position to decide.
Mary, I must get your book and see what happens ...

Many thanks

Julia Sat, Jan 10th 2015 @ 8:48am

Hi Penny. The same happened to me. I lost my job through stress and depression. My children were at home, parents still alive, many financial commitments but all of those "stresses" were nothing compared with working in an unhealthy, hostile, life draining environment.

Anonymous Sat, Jan 10th 2015 @ 4:23pm

I didn't get a chance to post yesterday...hope you are still around Mary. I love your blog, how brilliant to be inspired to try new fields! Yes go! It's timely as I just read a fantastic thing a couple of days ago, on Twitter, about children's education... "we are teaching them to make a good living when we should be teaching them to make a good life"...ONE HUNDRED percent this! And you and your husband are now making a good life. I'm excited. Lots of love ratg xx.

Unknown Sun, Jan 11th 2015 @ 10:00am

No need to apologise! I understand this totally. Education seems to be more about meeting targets and attracting 'customers' these days than facilitating exciting and effective learning environments for our young generations. I've been in it for over 20 years now and am finding it increasingly soul-destroying. I think I need to invest in What Color is Your Parachute too..!

Anonymous Sun, Jan 11th 2015 @ 10:29am

Thanks Unknown; appreciated - Frankie

Alicia Mon, Jan 12th 2015 @ 9:20pm

Yay for writing your novel Mary, this is so awesome!!! :) <3 I want to be a writer too (Been trying all day and kept rejecting everything so I resorted to poetry, my last refuge where I know I can write anything I feel.) xxx

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