Simply the sounds of birds tweeting and twerping, the snuffling and snorting of two horses (one chestnut, one grey) and the light wind in the trees.
Peace at its British countryside finest.
This is my reward. For the mornings chasing the kids around, raising my voice, threatening, hosting races, bribing – anything to get them both ready and out of the house on time. The endless hours cleaning up their mess, washing and feeding them, then working into the evenings to catch up on hours missed after school. Alone. For three long months both in and out of lockdown.
I’m far from the only one facing the same challenges, telling myself daily I’m lucky that my other half will come home again. Has not left us, in one way or another, for good as some of my friends are facing. But still. Some days were really flipping hard.
After weeks of toying with the idea, running it past friends, throwing it out as a threat to my husband I actually did it. I took decisive action (something that doesn’t always come easily when you’re a chronic procrastinator) and booked a hut in the countryside. One room. Tiny bed. Barely room to lay out my yoga mat. But room enough for me to feel embraced. Just enough for one. Just enough for me. No children. No toys. No demands. No running. No shouting. No playing. Just being. Just silence. The only thing my heart desired during those three months of servitude.
I did it.
And it feels bloody amazing.
I’ve read, I’ve meditated, I’ve done some yoga, I’ve eaten simple, natural food, I’ve made plans, I’ve walked around my favourite National Trust garden at a good pace able to stop to enjoy beautiful trees and arresting sights. And now I’m writing – and not because someone’s paying me to. This is the stuff of dreams.
I’ve wondered, in my year preceding turning 40, whether I ought to create a list of things to do before the big birthday. But I haven’t, not as such. However, after I booked my little hut I realised that this has actually been a long held dream for me, and hence I was drawn to the idea without knowing why.
When I was in my early twenties I took a couple of trips to a Buddhist retreat centre in Scotland. There, on the grounds, was a small wooden shack. I was informed that there was a retreatant using the hut to live in absolute seclusion and silence. I wanted that. And now, I have it. Perhaps not quite so remote. Perhaps with my laptop and Wi-Fi. But I have that silence and that simplicity that I’ve craved since then.
This too marks what feels like a juncture in my life. My eldest is fully embedded in school and loving it. My youngest will soon be in pre-school every morning and will start school in a years’ time. My babies are growing up. They don’t need me in the same way they did. They have little lives of their own. So now, it seems, it’s time for me to reclaim mine. This bittersweet realisation is both something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time and a sadness at the loss of those short toddler years. I’m not needed any more – yay – but I’m not needed any more – boo.
And so, sitting here at this rusted bistro table watching the horses graze, I am ready to turn that corner. Ease into a new life with more freedoms, more capacity to build my copywriting business, time to expand my skills and build the rest of my life into something uniquely mine. Always remembering to embrace the silence.