7 Sept 2021
I’m sitting under a tree that I don’t, but would like to, know the name of.
It has a large, winding & warped trunk, dry green bark and little pinnate leaves. Around it smells faintly of cow poo, as there’s a dry pat just at the foot of the tree, and about a dozen cows in the field before me.
It’s a beautiful sunny day: where August brought grey skies & drizzle, early September has provided the summer weather that last month withheld.
Three weeks have passed since I landed on British soil. Honestly, I came prepared to be unhappy, so have been pleasantly surprised at how joyful it has been. The last few months in Spain, whilst littered with lovely moments, were pretty emotionally gruelling to tell the truth.
I felt trapped in the long process of moving, knowing I’d have to say goodbye to people, things, places that I still loved, whilst still feeling it was time to move on. It was a bit of limbo for those last moments, not feeling fully present or able to get into anything because I knew I’d be gone soon.
On top of that, I had to finish work on the house, pack all my stuff and find new renters for my time away, whom I did managed to find the day before moving, but have unfortunately fallen through whilst I’ve been here.
So I’ve started coming back to write this on the 1st Oct
And I am considering selling the house, because although I’ve only been here for just over a month, I can’t help feeling sure that going back to that house would feel like too much of a step back in time.
It was very much Nik & I’s project, and living there alone again may well feel lonely. Lots of memories.
My dream is to buy some land cheapish and build or rennovate a house on it, ideally with someone else who also wants to have children!
So if I get some holiday time on the course I may fly over to try to sort a sale, but if not I can take it slow, as I’m realising that juggling a house sale, a full time masters, placement, counselling, supervision and living in a van is already quite a lot for one person to manage.
I got a bit sad yesterday, the winter blues kicking in early. Even though I’d gone to bed feeling warm, cosy and well, I woke up in a terrible mood and just felt blue. Studying and having the fire on helped to pass the time, but my thoughts were still very low.
It was grey and rainy and being cooped up in a dark box all day has a big effect on me. Even though it’s just one day what comes with it is the fear of being stuck like that for many months. I already see the effect on my face, it’s pale and pasty, bags under my eyes no matter how much I sleep, I feel and look a shadow of myself. This is the result winter in the UK has always had on me, and one of the biggest reasons I moved to Spain.
I just have to remind myself that what I’m doing is so important, it’s what I love and am blessed to be able to do it. Just got to hold out these few months of darkness, wet and cold and fill it with light activities such as studying at the library with new class friends, visiting people, walks when it’s not raining and nice films by the fire.
I suppose it is normal that the shift in seasons has a big impact on our mood and body.
Anyway, the course is GREAT and I am so excited by the content. The people are lovely and there’s already a sense of community even though we have got to know each other online. I really felt the contrast between this and when I studied English at Manchester when I walked into the foyer of the David Weatherall building last Wednesday to be greeted by a sea of smiling and familiar faces.
There’s about 80 of us on the course but it feels so friendly, compared to at Manc when there were 200 people but you could walk in and out of a lecture anonymously. This course encourages us to get to know eachother deeply.
Someone quipped that it’s like getting to know each other in reverse – share our innermost secrets and woes, then go for a pint at the pub.
We have already had chance to practice counselling skills, posing as the client, counsellor and observer in turn. It’s a big learning curve and actually harder than it sounds to not ask questions. The person-centred approach is all about non-directive support: so you just listen, empathise and offer unconditional positive regard, not trying to lead the client to any kind of outcome, force them into positive thinking or influence them to share your life philosophies.
Although that may not be the style I will eventually adopt, I plan to completely embody the person-centred approach for this year and observe the outcomes on helping people. I like that it lets the client lead the session, and really creates a space to feel heard without any judgement. Sounds simple, yet that environment is rare, no?
Van life has been mixed.
I love the cosiness of the fire and how I always go to sleep snuggly and warm. It’s very quick to heat up and becomes like a sauna in less than an hour, which I love.
The side door has broken (it fell off on one side), and as it is not insured I can’t drive it to a garage to get it fixed. So Mum is taking care of it with a mechanic friend but he’s waiting to buy another door to use the parts off it instead of buying new rollers. So it’s already been about three weeks since that happened and I am starting to get a bit tired of crawling in through the back, trying and mostly failing to avoid wiping my muddy boots on the bedding, or spilling tea or hot chocolate, or emptying the ash..
But I can’t really complain, it’s good to have my own space. I can’t stretch out fully in the bed and the rain often wakes me up, but I sleep slanted or curled up and have found some earplugs to shove in when it patters too hard.
My lovely friend Alice also happily hosted me for the first two induction weeks of my course which were all online on Teams. She has a spare room and a selectively friendly cat called Mango. I may end up retreating there in winter if the van does get too depressing.
At the start of my time here I went down to Cornwall to visit some friends, and that was beautiful.
I’ll leave a big photo gallery here of that, to end on a positive note. Though maybe I need to get out of that habit and just sit with, lean in to the less good times and allow things to flow naturally..
It’s taken me ages to finally write this, I will try to keep it up but can’t promise as there’s so much reading and writing already with the course, I might need respite that doesn’t involve a screen. However it has been helpful to finally get this down