Career Champion: “Disgraceful happiness”


Sally Champion

Sally Champion continues her weekly blog about the process of setting up a part-time business as a writer. She had polio as a child and after years of working nine to five, she is now having to think differently about how to earn her living. Sally invites your comment and advice.

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Episode 15: “Disgraceful happiness”

Walking down the hill to catch the bus today I realised I felt happy.

That wouldn’t be worth a mention, except I noted the feeling with surprise. Happiness for me isn’t a grand thing. It’s just a feeling of having a past, a present, and a future I think I can live with. It’s a feeling of continuity and a feeling that I’m in the middle of my own life.

While I was walking today I also felt a resurgence of energy. That was a surprise too. Since I left my job, over four months ago, I haven’t been doing much.  My mind, however, has been throwing up scenarios of my future – many not glamorous. Then it’s had to turn around and busy itself working out how to avoid these particular versions of events. This, in itself, has been rather exhausting and during this time happiness has not been my constant companion.

Still a few days ago I turned some sort of corner. I accepted, I think, that my life was going to be different from now on, and I couldn’t go back to the many comforts (and discomforts) of my old life.

I found myself in new territory.

A friend said something to me recently that resonated. We were talking about being a disabled person and having to adapt to different stages of that life. He talked about choosing to prioritise his time and energy differently and saying “no”, not because he couldn’t, but because it was too hard.

I’ve done that all my life, but the too hard part really hit something in me.

Over the past months I’ve felt as though I have been living in a rather disgraceful way. My sleeping patterns have taken on a life of their own. I take ages to get dressed in the morning and I’m reading all my old books again, instead of going to the library and getting new ones. Friends have been neglected and the general standard of housewifery has not been high.

During this time, re-reading all my old Jenny Diski books has given me comfort. Jenny Diski loves inactivity and I love her because of that, and because she makes me laugh about it. She has written several travel books where she spends half her time worrying about how she will cope with planned activities, when all she wants to do is curl up by herself, in the warm somewhere, and write and read.

Today, though, I felt a difference in myself.  I went for a briefing about the small job I’m starting next week. I’m going to be doing ten telephone interviews and writing up the stories for a website. To my surprise I felt excited about it, really excited about talking to the people, finding out what they are doing, and then writing up their stories.

As I walked down the hill to the bus, after the meeting, I felt energy in my body and I felt happy.

Maybe I also feel better because a few days ago I made the difficult decision to withdraw from the Enterprise Allowance programme. I still think the programme is fabulous and I’m really grateful for what I learnt at the small business course.

I have two reasons for withdrawing. Firstly I want a certain kind of work, like the little job I’ve got right now (and I don’t how much work like that is around), and secondly I want to feel my current level of energy when I do that work.

At the moment I don’t know yet how much living disgracefully I need to do to maintain that energy level.

Sally says she has another plan up her sleeve and she will tell you about that in next week’s post.

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