This whole moving to Greece thing is an interesting exercise in mind control, because without a firm grip of that, I’d be in a right old lather. Especially considering other people’s reactions.
Roughly speaking, what is going on right now divides up into two emotions – Fear and Scarcity, both my own and other people’s.
I’ve got day to day worrying largely under control. If it’s in the past, I don’t ruminate on it. If it’s in the future, I recognise I’ve got no control over it and so there is no point worrying about it. So I don’t worry much.
So that just leaves outright fear, which is slightly different. A physical response with chemical repercussions in your body. I haven’t cracked that one yet and I’m starting with a genetic disadvantage, as proved by the research done on transgender women who turn into men and then realise the fear they have lived with all their lives, but don’t now feel at all.
I’m scared about many things, although you would never think so to look at me or read my professional blog posts. I’m not scared of the things you might suspect though. I’m scared of what most people would call silly things, not the usual stuff most people are scared of, like public speaking, blogging, not being perfect, or of being vulnerable professionally.
In fact, “hanging yer arse out in public” would appear to be one of my specialities. This trait was taught to a small group of us early coaches, by one of my first mentors, Chris Barrow (eminent dental business coach and survivor of “The Island With Bear Grylls”, season 1). Chris taught us all – and demonstrated himself – that it’s better to be marmite online, where people either love you or hate you, especially when digitally marketing a coaching business. It makes you stand out in the crowd.
No, I’m scared of really silly things, like the dark, and spiders, and fairground rides, heights, car accidents and homicidal maniacs. I didn’t consider going to Australia for many years, because of their dangerous and large arachnid count.
When planning a “let’s drive across the USA in soft-top Mustangs” road-trip early this year with some buddies, the list of fears I came up with was ridiculously long. They all laughed at me when I tentatively broached the topic and indeed, even though we drove Route 10 – known on Criminal Minds as “Psychopath Alley” – for a lot of the journey, nothing bad happened. They were big blokes though and that alone provided a measure of security.
I’m also highly visual so I’m very affected by my surroundings, what I see on a daily basis. I need order, calm and tidiness, I avoid mess and ugliness. I couldn’t sit and watch a tv programme with clutter on the floor, not even a plastic bag, within eyeline. While not particularly phased by dust, cleaning being a very boring occupation indeed, I do need everything to be in it’s right place.
Looking back over my life, I realised about a year or so ago, I’m actually quite a highly strung person, and I’ve been living with levels of high anxiety quite a lot of the time. I have such a strong imagination, I have to listen to podcasts to turn my brain off at night and stop me imagining – no actually seeing – large arachnids marching across the ceiling for example. No, don’t laugh, without the podcasts to occupy my mind, I can actually see them – until I turn the light on. Australian and American voices are particularly soothing I find.
Moving my sleeping locations makes me very anxious, it usually takes me about a week to settle down in new surroundings. Hotels are the exception to the rule, for some reason I feel really safe in hotels.
However, in Greece, if you want to sleep with some air coming in, if you wanted the window open due to the heat, that means the whole door. And the bedrooms are usually on the ground floor. Think that one through for a moment.
Madness I call it!
However, nobody in the part of Greece I’m going to thinks that’s abnormal, or scary. Everyone sleeps with the doors and any windows open, the heat is so great in the spring, summer and some of the autumn at least.
The local cats are too wary to come in, they say, the dogs are chained up and fly screens block the worst of the insects. The local poor people – largely from Albania – would never dream of breaking in, as Greek police are very fierce and the Albanians know that they would be deported home quicker than lightning, and then face the long journey back (a walk in some cases) if they wanted to try and return.
So I’m telling myself I can make myself be brave, because there is nothing, really, to be scared of.
Apart from the scorpions and if you knock your shoes out before you put them on, you’ll be fine.
Everytime we talk to anyone else about what we are doing (and because of our high visibility on social media everyone knows what’s happening!) the one question that everyone asks is “but what about when you come back?”
Trying to get to the bottom of what that question is really about, it seems to be either asked about accommodation or asked about possessions like furniture.
It’s also being asked because they automatically assume that I’ll be coming back poor. That I won’t be able to afford to replace all the possessions we’ve been selling or giving away.
I’ll be honest, I went through a phase of thinking and feeling that too. Until I caught myself and brought those thoughts out and examined them.
I grew up in a family that always felt poor, where the words “we can’t afford that” were bandied about very freely. My Mum was a bit of a boom or bust merchant, buying and selling houses to work her way up the property food chain. But it meant that we were always poor just before we sold a recently done up house, then rich for a few short weeks just after sale, before sinking all the cash into another derelict fixer upper.
Later, when I was in my 20’s and 30’s my finances varied, rarely having more than just enough. I was searching for my metier, my passion, my reason for being, so possessions were not a big thing for me. I hadn’t learned yet that the “trick to money, is having some”.
Then when I was having babies, due to repeated redundancies in my then-husbands professional world, when I got to 38 we were seriously poor, so poor we had to go and live with my sister, in her spare room.
Then I discovered coaching and personal development and taking full responsibility and over the next few years, I started earning more than I ever had before, in my whole life. I had a successful six-figure coaching business and a 12 bedroom hotel at one point but still didn’t have any furniture and stuff personally.
I’m not big on interior design. I like nice things but have no taste in putting them together myself. I did love furnishing the hotel nicely though, under the guidance of my friend Kim who IS good at interiors. That was fun. Imagine going to Ikea in a van but having to buy 12 of most bits of furniture but 24 of everything else like bedding and towels.
When I eventually sold the hotel, we went from a 12 bedroom hotel’s worth of furniture and content in 2006, through a succession of 4 bedroom houses, with Steve hiring skips every time we moved and slowly getting rid of things I was desperately holding onto “in case”.
For example, 12 mini fridges and 12 hairdryers! You never know when you might need one of those, I thought, so along with us they came. I think I’m on the last hairdryer now, in 2016, ten years later.
Then, in 2010, it all came tumbling down again due in no small part to the credit crunch and recession and again, I had to get rid of everything fast. A weekend garage sale and house clearance man & van sorted me out that time.
This time it’s my sister Sarah (who’s been living without possessions for a while now and loves a good clearout) and the local Facebook Selling Groups along with eBay for the higher ticket items.
I tell myself, whenever I feel scarce, whatever the state of our finances when we return, I’ll either be able to buy everything brand new – now, what fun that would be – or acquire things in much the same way I always have. Buying cheap or donations of unwanted items from friends and relatives.
However the very fact that we ARE selling things or giving them away, tells me that we can acquire them in the same way when we get home, if needed. In the same way that we have, other people will be either selling the things we need or giving them away.
Also, I’ll have saved around £9000 over 6 months by not paying rent, rates, water and all the other associated costs of running a home in the UK.
And I’m really looking forward to that!