To develop the theme a little further: removing myself from paid employment has meant also happily stripping away the veneer of 'She' ... the woman who was the senior manager and headteacher .... to rediscover my former self, the woman who was only partly represented in the stilettos, formal clothes and workaholic self-indulgence; to leave behind the ego.
I loved most aspects of my work and could usually set out in the wind/rain/snow safe, at least, in the knowledge that I would have an interesting day. But since I stopped working, the aspects of my former life which give me cause to smile are the memories of young people and of some truly gifted colleagues. It gives me enormous satisfaction to remain in touch through Facebook with people who were in my English class in 1976, or 86 or 96, because there was no great distinction in those years between my classroom persona and my perception of who I was ; someone who loved literature, language and kids! It was all one and there was time for being oneself, even as an assistant head, before the demands of senior management role-play dominated the last ten years.
So who am I now that I do not have to wear high heels ... red ones for unpleasant meetings .... or smile through gritted teeth and tolerate behaviour in adults which I would not tolerate in a child? Is there enough of me left once She is shaved away? It occurred to me this morning, marooned at home by a storm of some ferocity, that if reading has been at the centre of my life, a stranger might read me in the books currently scattered on the large coffee table. I offer this as a true record: what do you make of it?
The Warmth of the Heart prevents your Body from Rusting de Hennezel
Yoga for You Fraser
Nikon 3100 Revell
Building Norfolk Rice
The Practice of Contemplative Photography Karr & Wood
The Bolivian Diary Guevara
Travelling with Che Guevara Granado
Mystery & Manners (contains chapters on writing) O'Connor
The Blank Slate Pinker
A Small Town in Germany (library book) le Carre
Untold Story (library book) Ali
Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life Armstrong
The Forest of Hours Ekman
The Leopard Nesbo
Also on the table are: a David Baldacci (nothing to do with me!) ; yesterday's Herald; two Apple laptops (mine and son's) and a Galaxy 2; a written Journal, posh Parker pen and two leather covered notebooks!
I did not 'edit' this table; and if books were my life until I started on the senior management ladder, if they were at the heart of who I was, it's good to read the runes all these years later, to find out if that person is still thriving!
So we have a student of the 1960s,who had posters or photos on her hall of residence wall, of Robert Redford, Che and Jean Shrimpton. She still loves a whole range of novels, from literate nonsense (Ali) through brilliant classics (le Carre) to Scandolit (Ekman & Nesbo). She still reads challenging non-fiction because she wants to learn and, guided by de Hennezel, gut instinct and the guidance of good friends, she adds to her curriculum a jigsaw of yoga, photography and mindfulness. Although she loves Arran and Glasgow with a passion, there is room for an ever increasing fondness for the flatlands of Norfolk.
And she writes; she writes; she writes.
What do your books say about you and where you are on your adventure?