I was recently asked by Calandra Orton of 'Up With The Lark', to write an article for the quarterly Paper she produces, the upcoming edition aptly called 'And Now Spring.' In light of my recent closing of the shop, Calandre suggested a piece about new beginnings; Fresh starts and fresh ideas. I was so grateful to Calandra for her invitation to write for her beautifully produced paper, but also for the opportunity to be cathartic. The process of writing this article allowed me to really think about how I was adjusting to leaving something precious behind and embark on a new, unknown chapter....
Building something from scratch whether it’s a relationship, a treehouse or a business, takes muster and muscle. And support. A lot of support. Whether that’s emotional hand-holding, industry advice or a fitness class, you need a few piles to hold up the bridge. I fell into the role of Shopkeeper because I moved from London to the countryside for love and it was the only thing I could think of that kind of suited me at that time. I was never going to do this forever.
But then a lovely visitor to the shop happened to be a Journalist and she thought it was worth writing about and so Caro got some traction. More people started to try and find me, tucked away from the main drag, and a few more writers wrote about the B&B or the events we were hosting. Suddenly I had a business and I was on this road to….. somewhere.
Have you ever watched the face on the middle runner of a relay race? Dropping that baton is not something that is entering that runners mind! Once you’ve started running, you keep going. Don’t you? Not if you’re my Mum, who on the sideline of mile 25 of the marathon I was running, saw how much emotional pain I was in and said ‘Oh Nat, just stop. This is ridiculous. Just come over the barrier and we’ll all go and have lunch.’ To have trained in something that comes far from naturally to me for 9 months, to get to mile 25 I needed a cheerleader not a reminder of the difficulty. I guarantee I grew more that day for running those extra miles than skipping over the sideline and heading to the pub.
But here lies an interesting discussion. What is giving up versus knowing when to push through or following your instinct, that a natural end has arisen? I have loved owning a shop - for the generously spirited people I have met and the challenge of doing something under my own name when perviously I’ve hidden behind others. It has been far from comfortable but it has kind of felt like a speed-course into getting to know myself. There have been countless coffees, cocktails, laughs and tears with fellow business owners agonising over some problem we were trying to navigate hoping the other had the handbook we needed to read. Alas, that handbook never appeared.
As a society it is ingrained in us to feel certain of where we are going. I can see the draws to considering a 5 year, 10 year plan for your business but what this doesn’t allow for is the beauty of chance. The unforeseen person that you might meet and change your life, the transformative occurrence that might change your outlook or the likelihood that life isn’t going to pan out quite how you thought.
Publicly announcing that I was hanging up my keys to the shop provoked most people to question ‘Why?’ but also to ask ‘What are you doing next?’ I have a few ideas but mainly my main goal is to create space to start again. I am a different person to who I was eight years ago and so too are my values and needs. What I want to talk about and think about has change. What inspires me has changed. But fundamentally I have the the same hopes and aspirations - to grow, to learn more about myself, and how to live within this world.
The first person I fell in love with, fell out of love with me before I did him. He didn’t tell me but I knew. I noticed the subtle changes in the way we responded to each other. I couldn’t bare the slow death of our relationship, so I broke up with him. When you love something, when it’s hit your chords and buried itself deep inside your tissue, the idea of it disintegrating is too ugly to bare. It’s in your gut. To my shop, I say à Dieu. For now…..