The first in a new series of articles from the TMK team about women at work . Rosie tells her tale.
Have you ever dreamed of walking away from your life? Have you ever felt like throwing your hands up in the air and saying enough is enough? Clearing your desk, changing your life and turning your back on the rat race forever?
That’s exactly what my husband and I did 11 years ago. One day in 2003 my husband had an epiphany in the car on the way home from his , frankly, miserable job. He writes about that moment in his book about the years that follow:
“It is a midweek evening in early 2003. I am sitting slumped in my car, disconsolate, arms folded, staring sullenly out of the side window. Rain speckles and blurs the glass. The wipers intermittently clear the screen. I can’t get the variation in the timing of the sweeps quite right and every so often the blades screech and judder their way across the glass.
I am half a mile from my house, in fact I am looking at the back of it. As the crow flies it’s only about a quarter of a mile. I have been sitting staring at the house for 20 minutes now. It is as dark inside the house as it is outside. Nobody home yet. I can see the steam rise from our central heating boiler vent. At least it isn’t a cold dark house. Just dark. I wonder why my wife Rosie isn’t home. I am in a queue for the last of the 16 roundabouts that come between my work and my house. My work is as dreary and unrewarding as the journey to it. 16 roundabouts in 17 miles and I am stuck waiting for whatever is blocking the last one. One more to go but I am trapped in my car, in the dark and the rain. I am going nowhere. I am very depressed.
The radio is no help. It broadcasts news of war in Iraq interspersed with gloomy travel reports telling of congestion and delays, cancelled trains, blocked roads and broken ferries. The news reports then return to breathlessly tell of war in Iraq. I sit in a sullen silence. I have passed the frustrated stage and now accept this as just another part of my life that is out of my control. It’s a chance for my working day to heap a little more misery upon me after it’s supposed to be over. I can see my home, my bubble of happiness and safety. I should be there, in my sanctuary, pouring a glass of wine for Rosie and opening a bottle of beer for myself. We should be sitting at the dining table with our shoes kicked off, telling each other of the annoying, the ridiculous and the pathetic things that happened at work that day. Swapping war stories from the battlefields of our banal and unfulfilling theatres of employment.
Rosie is standing on a train. It isn’t the train she was meant to be on – it was cancelled, as was the one after it. That’s why she is standing, there are many frustrated people on this train. The train goes somewhere near to where we live, not near enough but Rosie thinks it’ll be okay as I will come and get her. I always do when this happens, which is all too frequently. She has left me a message on my mobile and the answering machine at home. I should be home by now. She has had another dispiriting day at work and it will be nice to see me waiting outside the station with the door of the warm welcoming car open for her.
It’s a pity then that I have been sitting for twenty minutes in a signal blackspot. The one good thing about that is I won’t be able to get my nightly call from my mother. She will be unable to tell me how inconvenient life is without my Dad who died the year before. What she means is that she misses him and is lonely but it wasn’t that kind of marriage, no room for sentiment. Well, there is a little sentiment now but that is only self-pity from both of us. I miss my Dad too. I ponder this, a highly successful effort to depress myself further. I light a cigarette and feel guilty about smoking. That doesn’t stop me from enjoying it though.
I switch from the radio to a CD. “Who Are You?” by The Who charges out of the speakers. I sing along half-heartedly until it gets to the line “God, there’s got to be another way” and stop. “You’re so right, Pete,” I think.”
Within months we had quit our awful (but rather well paid ) jobs, sold our house and bought a crumbling ruinous pile of a house in the Scottish countryside in Argyll. We spent the next 7 years renovating the house (see the before and after below) and expanding our family to include an extra 2 children and 2 dogs.
In 2010 we moved on from our gloriously restored Argyll mansion (now Whitehouse art ) to the Isle of Skye to start again. Again.
And here our photography businesses were born. Mr specialises in landscapes and commercial work (food, interiors, profiles) while my natural draw to portraiture, which grew stronger with the birth of my two children Tom (now 8 going on 15)and Kate (now thixth – just lost her first tooth), led me to establish a portrait based photography business specialising in family and wedding photography captured on location in Skye and Scotland’s great big beautiful landscapes.
I won’t even begin to pretend it’s been easy. I wrote last year about the perils of working from home in this TMK article. And that is the least of it.
Working for yourself without the big company safety net is life transforming. It has freed me to never wear a suit again. It has freed me to work until 2 or 3 in the morning regularly, as I juggle work and family and to feel the fear that there may never been another job if this one is not done well and on time. That if this job is not done well and on time I won’t feed my family. That if this job is not done well and on time I will need to wear a suit again.
Working for myself has freed me to release my creativity and to pursue my dreams in new and different ways. My days start in pyjamas, with a large mug of my second coffee of the day as I browse social media and news. Addictions served I (now dressed slightly more appropriately) head out to walk the dogs or run in this beautiful landscape.
After a shower I head out to shoot or settle into my editing suite until the children explode home from school and work is on hold while baking, homework, after school sports ( and some deliciously illicit afternoon tv or a movie ) take over. I am free to build a business that is beginning to exceed the dreams I had dared to dream 4 years ago. I am free to wake up and love love love what I do everyday. Here’s a snippet of what I do out in the wilds of Skye every day.
Andrew and I no longer no longer worry about meeting the “new boss, same as the old boss”, but we still like The Who.
We even had time to take the day off for my birthday recently and head to the world famous The Three Chimneys restaurant for lunch. Where we treated ourselves to new profile pictures. A far cry from our former business lunches!
Over the next few weeks I’m going to be introducing you to more women who quit the city race for Skye. I’ll be sharing their sucesses and their highs and lows as part of TMKs new series of articles on women at work.
Words and images Rosie Woodhouse Love Skye Photography
This post is linked to #sundaystars