Give it up, give it up, baby give it up…

June 7, 2011 § 6 Comments

The listography theme over at Kate’s gaff this week is ‘the top 5 decisions I’m glad I’ve made.’ As I started mentally compiling my list, I realised I’m a bit of a quitter. But this isn’t always a bad thing.

Starting with the small stuff.

Trombone, recorder, ballet and modern. Quit them all.  
The Royal Academy of Dance and the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music still write me thank you letters. My mum got to remould her face after being stuck in a joker-esque plastered on supportive smile for some years. But making the decision to quit made me concentrate much more on what I actually was good at – which was the piano. And I stuck with that.

MA in play therapy. Splitter!
At the time I was working in a well paid job on a good magazine, but feeling unfulfilled. I thought I could take on an MA in my spare time. Ha! In making this decision I ignored how stressed I was already feeling.  I was a terrible insomniac, and although I held it together in the office, my job scared the bejeesus out of me. I  had to manage a team of creatives and hit deadlines, beat budgets, plan and strategise and present and suck up to people who I often detested. The MA tipped me over the edge…but having quit that, I then…

Quit my well paid job to go and work in a shed.
For an overseas volunteering organisation who were at the time operating out of an outbuilding of the owner’s mum’s farm in Hertfordshire. Every day I went for a walk in country lanes. I got to travel to Mexico, Costa Rica and Vermont. Halved my salary, but actually felt like I contributed something worthwhile. Sadly, after having my first child, the salary didn’t even cover the childcare costs.

Then the bigger stuff.

Smoking. After nearly 15 years of trying I finally did it. I failed repeatedly using gum, stupid inhalers and patches. I was the kind of smoker that when suffering with tonsilitus would eat tub after tub of yoghurt in order to stave off the pain of inhaling smoke. I think partly it was lack of fitness that drove me…I joined a gym and coudn’t run for more than 60 seconds on the running machine. But what really did it was going to visit my mum at the Royal Marsden cancer hospital. I was upset and did what every smoker does when feeling under stress. I looked for the nearest smoking area. I walked in and sat down in what soon became very clear was the patient only smoking area.  I couldn’t possibly walk out again, everyone smiled and said hello. So I sat there and smoked one of my last cigarettes surrounded by the quite obviously seriously ill and the dying. It was exactly the wake up call I needed. Next day I purchased my Alan Carr book which helped me decide to kick the habit for good.

Not sure this last one qualifies as quitting, but it was certainly an unwittingly big decision. On the 7th July 2007 I decided I was going to quit being conscientious (still at my former well paid job) and took an extra ten minutes in bed. I missed my usual train, and ended up a couple of tubes behind the Aldgate bomb.  Without sounding too flippant, it’s moments like that that make you realise what’s truly important in life, and commuting daily to some job that is making you miserable ain’t it.


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