This time last year I was a month into a brand new job that I turned out to hate and that turned out to hate me just as much.
This time last month I had just finished another new job as an Early Years Practitioner at a local nursery.
Funny how time flies and how so much can happen along the way.
I feel like a lot has happened along the way over the last 18 months. Some of it good, some of it bad and some of it downright ugly.
I had planned to use today to get myself all ready for tomorrow. Ready in terms of practical things like work out what I'm going to wear, get my lunch all made and pack my bags in advance. Ready in terms of physically; eat well, get enough sleep; keep active but not overdo it - rested but energised. Ready emotionally, if ever such a thing is possible. Relaxed, calm, excited. Reflect on the journey that's got me to this point, take stock of what I've achieved with my time off over the summer.
And like all the best plans that's not quite what has happened. I've just sat down now having spent pretty much the entire day trying to sort out documents and forms for a rather late in the day DBS check. I can't even bring myself to explain the intricate and totally farcical chain of events that took place, suffice to say the hours spent at the bank, on the computer, yelling at the printer and traipsing to the Town Hall were not part of the original plan.
BUT, it has served to keep me occupied. A part of me was really scared about today. How was I going to keep myself busy. What, of the million things I could do to prepare myself should I choose? Read my EYFS framework again? Make notes for my assignment? Go to the gym? Watch a film and just relax? Whatever I chose I had a sneaking suspicion I wouldn't be able to shake the feeling that I had therefore chosen NOT to do all the other things and that was making me panic a bit.
So, on reflection, all has not been lost today. Luckily I had managed to fit in a spot of meditation before the farce began so was able to remain a little calmer than otherwise. And I decided to get up 10 minutes early every day to ground me for the new day ahead as I start this new chapter.
I now know all my documents are sorted for my DBS so I can put that one to bed in my head.
All my uni application forms are filled in and ready for the post box.
All my course info is all printed off and filed neatly.
My new diary and notebooks are in a nice pile ready to pop in my bag tomorrow.
There's a massive roast chicken just out of the oven ready to make into various lunches and dinners for the week ahead.
And I managed to get to the doctors to get some more medicine for this chest infection that won't shift and the sciatica that has noticed stress is in the air so decided to join the party.
Which brings me to now and the point of sitting here writing this. I wanted to look back and reflect on my August. I put quite a lot of pressure on myself in the lead up to August around all the things I wanted to achieve with my time off.
I had a list of chores around the house. I had a car to get fixed. I wanted to spend time with friends, especially old friends not seen for a while, and spend time with mum whilst we were both off for the summer. I wanted to get a head start on my reading list for my assignment and I wanted to get my eating and exercise back on an even keel. I also wanted to just be, to get some headspace back before launching myself into my new career.
Did I achieve everything I set out to?
No. Of course not.
The deck in the back garden still isn't oiled. The bathroom cabinet still sits on the floor rather than hanging off the wall. The assignment still looms. The riding stables I had a voucher for has been somewhat elusive and so the ride I'd been looking forward to never happened. And so on.
On top of that I got ill. I've had a revolting chest infection since pretty much my first day of freedom. And even before that I injured myself at the gym meaning I missed my last week of work at the nursery and setting me 10 days behind on my exercise and chore timetable. I've now got sciatica and aching down both sides too.
But aside from that, what have I achieved?
I've spent time just with myself, just being me. Reading, swimming, watching films. I tried something I've always wanted to try and went open water swimming in the local lake. I picked up something I always used to love for the first time in decades and went on an outdoor sketching workshop. I spent some lovely time lunching with my grandma. I met up with old, current and new friends for walks, for coffee, for lunch, at the swings, just to chat. I embarked on an online coaching programme and am starting to consolidate some great new habits around eating and exercising. As a result I have lost 6lbs and 13cms and gained a load of definition and determination as well as rekindled my love of the gym. And that's just the start. The garden is transformed into a lovely oasis full of plants and loveliness we actually want to spend time in. The front garden too. The spare room has been cleared and sorted and put back together so it now has space for all my teaching and Phoenix bits and bobs and is a lovely place for me to just go and be. All my drawers have had the same treatment, I now know where everything is, a huge relief. I signed myself up as an ambassador for Happiness Happens month, wrote more blog posts than I've ever written before and picked up a load of new followers on The Happy Catalyst and Twitter. I've been for walks and picnics with Alex and I have spent some really lovely time with my mum. Shopping, gardening, craft fairing, lunching, outdoor musical-ing, celebrating her birthday to our heart's content. I couldn't have done much of what I've done without her help, in so many ways. And she's even just brought round my very own pale blue bunny mug for the staff room...what more could I possibly need?
So I say goodbye to my August, my summer, my time off with a touch of sadness that it's all come to an end, but with much more of a sense of achievement, of contentedness, of gratitude, of satisfaction and of feeling blessed for all that it brought.
And while the year that lead to August was a bit of an odd one, with plenty of twists and turns and ups and downs, I am grateful that it's lead me to here. To 19.05 the night before I start my teacher training, 15 years since I first thought of it. The night before I go back to school again in more ways than one.
The night before the rest of my life.
I still don't know what I'm going to wear, but I do know, having now spent the time to sit and reflect, that I'm ready.