The “plan”

The “plan”

Well not really  anything as concrete as a plan. Part of me could not really believe that I would be able to go ahead with ditching my career to do something so different. What if I was too old to learn new things? What if I failed  the training? What if I hated giving massage and/or being a doula; or loved it but no one wanted my services? Most of these fears have not gone away. (This blog will be my record of whether they were well-founded or not).  I realise now that I reached retirement via a  form of self-trickery. I was telling more and more close friends and family what I wanted to do, taking some concrete steps,  but not entirely believing I would get there.

Developing to be a doula is largely based on building experience with the support of a mentor – but it starts with a one-week workshop. I knew quite quickly that  if I went ahead I wasn’t going to try and combine my new working life with my old – no part-time civil service retirement for me. Once I had done my doula workshop I would want to  focus on that, not be drawn back into the cynicism of civil service politics.

So for a while I  delayed the doula training. But I spent quite a lot of time researching options for training in Massage Therapy and in November 2016 started the Massage Training Institute Level 4 Diploma in Holistic Massage, Anatomy and Physiology at Bodyology Massage School. Training in something so new and different – involving physical and emotional skills – was wonderful. I was doing the course roughly one day a week and looked forward to that day all week every week. There were emotional ups and downs as with anything worth doing but I had loads of fun with my warm, funny, supportive, fellow students and learnt a lot from them as well as from the great tutors on the course. And I loved giving massage.

In October I booked myself on a doula workshop for March 2017  and had the first conversation with my boss about what I was “thinking of doing”; and arranged  for a pension quote. I knew that only just over 10 years service in the civil service would not bring me much . But my massage course had reminded me how great it is to really enjoy what you are spending your time doing and my heart was set on leaving.

Early in 2017 I formally gave notice to Acas that I would be retiring in May. What a great feeling!! To be honest although I tried to continue to do my job diligently most of the remaining 4 months were a count down – though still with an element of unreality about it.  In March I attended one of the Doula UK recognised Doula Preparation Courses facilitated by Samsara Tanner from Conscious Birthing International. This was another (positive) emotional roller coaster – especially revisting my own births and confronting how to stop my own experiences getting in the way of supporting the women through theirs. I  started to think  that helping mothers in the first few weeks after the birth was something I wanted to do as well as attending births.

When I retired on 5th May I was part of the way through my doula preparation coursework; had undertaken 30 of the 50 hours massage I needed to do before sitting my massage exam in July; and was starting to revise for my Anatomy and Physiology exam in June. And the Government had called a snap election.