Windows of opportunity

Photo by Nathan Fertig on Unsplash

There’s a school of thought that says your opportunities narrow as you get older. This might be true in terms of career advancement, but I’m not so sure about that. In Lucy Kellaway’s new book Re-educated: How I changed my job, my home, my husband & my hair,* she tells the story of reaching 57 and deciding that she should make the most of what time she has left.

Her life-changing decisions weren’t the result of a cancer scare (as is often the case), or the death of a loved one, but were prompted by finding a house that she really, really loved. As a columnist for the Financial Times, she had the chance to purchase her dream house, and this was the beginning of an amazing new life. Finding the cash to buy the house involved leaving her husband, with whom she had a cordial but not especially close relationship. He had already moved into the basement of their Georgian house and they had and grown-up children.

I was fascinated by the idea of falling in love with a house and was amazed to find that you can actually see her iconic house on a design website, complete with the long orange bench top she describes in the book.

After buying The Frame House she leaves her job at the Financial Times to train as a secondary school teacher. This is a hard slog and there are many times that she wonders what on earth she has done! There’s a lot in the book about how the education system works and how hard teachers work.

The book made me feel a bit like an under-achiever although on the upside; I have a penchant for books in which people (mainly women) reinvent themselves, so I enjoyed it immensely.

It made me think about all the things in my life that I’ve put on the back-burner until I have time to do them. Time is something I have plenty of at the moment and luckily I don’t dream of becoming an astronaut, but I still have aspirations to be fitter and healthier, make really awesome sponge cakes, write a book, and maybe start a small business. All these things are possible and not very costly, so it’s not money holding me back but a lack of focus and low self-confidence, both of which I could overcome with a bit more determination and some more self-love.

One of my friends has just started learning Spanish and I know better than to ask her why. I know she is doing it because she wants to. She told me she lived in Spain many years ago and spent most of her time drinking in bars and dancing until the wee small hours. These are excellent things to do in your twenties, but now she’s in her sixties and she wants to travel around the countryside, talk to people and eat the beautiful food. Priorities change. I hope she’ll get back there one day, but even if she doesn’t, she’s enjoying coming first in her Spanish class.

So without wanting to sound like a motivational speaker, if you have some dreams in your bottom drawer, get them out and dust them off because there’s never a better time to do something interesting.

*This book is only available as an ebook. The hard copy will be published on September 21, 2021.

6 thoughts on “Windows of opportunity

  1. Hi Marg, thankyou for having me at your online home. I would’ve loved to have shared that sponge cake with you and Tony as it looks delicious. Thanks for your musings. I think of you often when I get my books out to read most mornings. I feel I’m fulfilling my retired simple activities so far including music, art, tennis, walking, teaching and playing games with grandkids. As far as travel goes, I am resolved to the fact there may be not much OS Travel in our future but am very happy with what we have done over the years. Our friends were married last weekend in Scotland at their beautiful property Spot House at a town called Spot. Check out our on Google. We were to go to the wedding July 2020 then travel Europe by train. I’m quite happy living this simple life full of activity in our own area. Can’t wait to play music together with you soon.

    1. Hi Helen, it’s so lovely to hear from you. I was thinking about you yesterday when I got my tenor horn out to have a little blow. I was surprised I could still play as it’s been so long!
      I’m glad you are finding time to read in the mornings, especially as you spend so much of your time in service to others. I checked out the castle you mentioned, and it looks fabulous (but freezing cold, I suspect). What a pity you couldn’t go to the wedding. That would have been fabulous!
      Keep well and I hope to see you soon.
      Marg xxx

    1. I sometimes find it hard to balance being content with what I’ve achieved and not giving up on my dreams. Self-sabotage doesn’t help!

  2. I totally LOVE that house and can imagine why you would want it (it’s also quite near N & B). But this post got me thinking about goals and aspirations and I don’t know that I have that many. I mean, I got the house I wanted, albeit unfinished and complete with leaks; I used to think I would write but do nothing about it; I can already make a pretty good sponge and travelling just seems too hard atm. I am good with small, everyday goals and am a brilliant list maker. A Matt Haig post today says to just “be” so maybe that’s my goal!
    ps learning basic Spanish has been a great achievement in my life. I love interpreting zumba songs and tv shows (often incorrectly but I get the gist).

    1. I think small goals are as important as big goals. Sometimes just getting out of bed and putting on clean clothes is all that you can manage, and that’s really ok. It really depends where you’re at. You’ve achieved a lot in your life, so maybe just being content with what you have is something to aspire to.

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