Red & Black Day 6: The World Outside Your Window

The final day. My final thoughts. I’ve just one picture to post today, and the story behind it. My apologies, it is a long, wordy post so please bear with me.

End of an era :(

End of an era (dress: Toto by Hell Bunny – check out the gorgeous twisted Alice in Wonderland print)


This was taken on May 22nd, in the appropriately named Cafe Rouge, about 30 minutes after I finished my last day of paid employment in over 20 years. The lovely lady sitting with me , Sue, has been my ‘work wife’ for 7 years – we’ve job shared, developed and delivered grant programmes together, gone through marriage break ups (hers), family deaths (mine), triumphs and tears across a third of my working life.

For those new to my blog, I resigned from work in April after a particularly rough start to the year to take a sabbatical. I didn’t resign because I hated my job – I had a great job – engaging, rewarding, demanding and one that brought me into contact with a wonderful bunch of people who – like me – had a strong ethos of supporting the underdog and redistributing wealth with a social conscious. I left because I knew that mentally I was wiped out and unable to deliver my work to the standard I personally demand, and the one thing that this wonderful place couldn’t give me was time to repair my shields and rebuild my fractured emotions.

I do not regret for one moment my resignation.  There are a number of goals I wish to achieve before looking for paid, regular work again. The one thing that did scare me was a worry of social isolation once I no longer had to walk into the office community. My first full week out of work was last week – when I had two sets of people staying with me, social events and a funeral to attend.  It was THIS week that I was worrying about.

Once the hoopla had died down, and the guests had left, I then had to reboot myself with a purpose this week. I want to write, but I was frightened of switching on the Mac. Of picking up the pen.  I didn’t know where to start. I always knew that inertia was my biggest weakness, and that there was a real danger that I would draw the curtains closed in The House of No Seasons and retreat to the settee under a duvet, hiding from the world and from any form of socialisation.

I am aware that my blogging voice is quite a chirpy one, at least publically. I do have a number of locked posts on this blog that look at the darker, most fragile side of my psyche – there is a reason why I identify as goth, and have done so for over 20 years.  I have a tendency towards melancholy that I have to keep in check.

So what’s all this have to do with Red & Black week?

Well, I had been a lurker on Victorian Kitty’s blog for a while. Towards the end of last week I was restlessly web surfing (aka procrastination), when I came across Red & Black week. As I mentioned on an initial comment on her blog, I was a little stumped by the idea, thinking that I had no real input to give.  And then I embarked on a wardrobe clear out and began to look at what I do have from a new perspective. I have no income for the moment.  This challenge gave me just the kick in the pants I needed to get motivated, think creatively and to rediscover some beautiful clothes that have quite simply been overlooked or neglected for some time. I also began to look at my surroundings in a new light.

More than this – it gave me a reason to boot up the Mac at 8:30am every morning an write a blog post. To get into a routine of focusing my brain on a specific writing task which I then have to deliver within a 2 hour window (it also gave me a pretty funny insight into how not to take a selfie!). This is invaluable to me moving forward, as the template is now set for disciplining myself next week as I begin to develop and complete commercial pieces I have been working on.

But the most important element for me of Red & Black Week?  It’s given me a community. A great community that is world wide and made up of women of all ages and interests, bound together by a common thread. It’s given me a reason to talk, albeit virtually, to smart, funny, creative people. What has shone through for me personally this week is how lovely everyone is, how supportive and positive – I’ve not seen any negative posts or comments on any of the many blogs I have read – and this bears shouting about in a world of negativity and people seeking to bring other people down through careless comments. Ladies, you are a credit to the gothic community.

Next week is a new week and it is up to me where I take this mind of mine. I feel so much more positive about it. And I want to thank everyone who has made it to the end of the mammoth post, or taken the time to stop by (commenting or not) this week. You are awesome.

And Miss Kitty – I am raising a metaphorical glass in your honour right now. You created this challenge, this community. From across the world, in a small study by the sea in England, I can’t thank you enough.

Here’s to the next challenge!

(Postscript: The title for this post came from a particular ear worm I have at the moment, an 80’s song by Tanita Tikaram. I have no idea where my brain dragged this one up from, but it’s oddly appropriate). 

6 thoughts on “Red & Black Day 6: The World Outside Your Window

  1. That was very brave of you to take that sabattical. Change is never easy but each day is a new beginning. Good for you. I am a new blogger and I too was a lurker on Miss Kitty’s blog until this week, It is so nice to see everyones posts, read and even sometimes receive positive comments.

    • Thank you for your kind words. It helped that my husband encouraged me to go for it, as I’ll probably never have the opportunity to do it again. Some other people around me were quite horrified.

      It has been a nice week, reading everyone’s posts. Here to blogging some more!

  2. Miss Jane, your post has left me speechless!! I can’t tell you how deeply touched I am that this week has held a special meaning for you. And even more so that you took the time and effort to express your thoughts so beautifully. I, too, have always been thrilled with how positive and empowering this community has been throughout my time as a blogger. And each time Red & Black Week comes around, it’s a sensational feeling when I see everyone commenting on each others posts, almost always with kind and supportive words. I briefly considered skipping the event this year due to many time-consuming factors in my life, but the primary element that motivated me to MAKE time for it was the community. After reading this post, I am especially glad I did!!

    Additionally, you are an inspiration to me because I plan to leave my job when I am 50 (if I can make it that long!). Maybe an early retirement, maybe a sabbatical, maybe a career change altogether… I don’t know yet – I just know I can’t keep going at the pace I am going now as I grow older. But the idea TERRIFIES me a little bit. 🙂 I will be following your journey, and wish you every success in whatever YOU define as success.

    Thank you so much for being a beautiful part of our community, and for making Red & Black Week an even better event by taking part in it!

    • I confess raising an actual wine glass in your direction – thank you for you lovely comment. Sometimes I think we are programmed by life to think that we have to work, and we have to have it all and that it goes against the norm by stepping back and saying that this model doesn’t work for you any more. I am very lucky to have a small financial cushion that will see me through the next 2 years without an income – a small legacy from my dad who passed away in February that I absolutely wasn’t expecting. People told me to do the sensible thing – pay off the mortgage, get new windows, a new car. Well, I chose a new life. My dad was in his youth an absolute hell raiser who lived by his heart – and my husband told me to think about what my dad would have wanted me to do. And he would have wanted me to be happy.

      It’s terrifying – I won’t deny it. But I can definitely recommend stepping off that bridge into the unknown!

  3. I find red and black week very inspiring as well, and I find the kindness and support of people we have never met is amazing and wonderful as well! Good luck on the next two years-I have a friend who left a too-demanding job, and she had a great year, so it does happen!

  4. Oh, my…we had a major power outage, that left us without electricity for more, than two days, so I completely missed your post on Friday and just got around to read it now…You know, I love Ms. Kitty’s Red & Black Week for a number of reason, but best thing about it is that it connects us. I’m glad you’ve decided to participate, because our blogosphere got enriched by you! ^^

    As for your actual problem; I can totally relate to it, in fact, the same thing happened to me after I had to quit my daily job because of a move and I started working from home; basically I closed myself off from any kind of social contact…and it was depressing. It was terrible. So please, stay positive and keep writing! 😉

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