Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
I retired in January 2011, taking a 10 year career break to support my husband with his job abroad, I did work full time as a volunteer for 4 years in South Africa and up until March 2020 when covid hit, I went back several times a year. I also taught for 18 months in a school in Dubai, but that's it.
Since we both returned to the UK full time in June 2021, I've signed up with an agency and carried out some paid work with LFT's for back to school and a day at the T20 cricket and I've had an interview for the Commonwealth games as a volunteer in 2022. I'm also waiting to hear back from the local college about some volunteer work.
I will return to the work place some time next year, but for now I'm taking some time off with my husband as he settles into retirement, spending time with our grandchild, awaiting the birth of our 2nd grandchild (due any minute) and planning a trip to Australia early next year to see the middle child for 3 months as it's been 2 and a half years since I last saw him, almost 4 years for Peter.
In the meantime, what are we doing to fill our days? All my family and friends say I'm always so busy, what they don't realise is that I'm always looking for something to do, to occupy my time and make me feel fulfilled.
Days now are filled with doing lots of nothing. Although I've had the time to do things at my own leisure for the past 10 years, the last 6 years in Dubai have been quite lonely. The kids had left home, we didn't know our neighbours, had few friends and spent most of our lives indoors. I was always travelling between the UK and Dubai and felt that I couldn't ever commit to anything for more than a few months at a time, in either country.
I started hobbies and crafts, joined a few places but was continually moving. People and places just moved on without me.
Now we're settled back in the UK, it's been great spending more time with the family, reconnecting with friends, getting to know the neighbours and being out and about more. long dog walks, stopping off for coffee or the occasional pint.
We get up late, we walk the dog, have leisurely breakfasts, cook from fresh every dinner time. Watch quiz and comedy shows, we do jobs around the house as and when needed. We share the tasks such as washing up, cooking and food shopping. We visit family and friends, Peter plays the occasional game of golf and is making items of furniture for the house, I'm crafting things for Christmas, writing letters, drinking coffee in the garden or the shed if it's raining. Reading books and watching movies.
It's so nice to be able to plan things and see them through, nothing has to be rushed. I can't plant seeds, be around to nurture and watch them grow and harvest, rather than starting something then having to get on a plane.
It's hard to describe how nice it is to have everything in one place. I can just pick my handbag up and pop out. I'm not constantly looking for where I've left things, or realising I've forgotten something and it's now 3000 miles away.
It's not just being in one place that gives us more time, it's not having to manage 3 different properties, paying rent, insurances, managing tenants and property management fees. Whilst we still own 2 properties, just being able to pick up the phone to sort insurances and boiler services etc is no longer as stressful and expensive to be on hold for.
The bubble will burst, I'm sure. I'll be back in work then my time off will be limited, for visiting and travels. I'm sure employment will see my stress levels return, so I need to get the balance right of either part time work or if full time, a job with little stress/responsibility ie P/T Teaching or F/T Teaching Assistant.
I want to work, for me, but I have nothing else left to prove. I craved my career thinking it defined who I was. But I am no longer an expat now, defined by what I do and judged on my salary and housing allowance.
So yes, this is real life, now. The expat part was fantasy.