Today Saturday 7 May 2011 is the first working day for 30 years, when I have not had a job. I have worked for nearly 30 years for a transport company in London.
But 7 years ago I decided I needed some life changes and made some plans. I was fed up at work and wanted to do something more creative. So the 5 year plan was created to enable me to give up work - pay off the mortgage, get some money behind us, get my art portfolio together, and take a career break to go to college to do an art degree. I'd wanted to do this ever since I left school, but as for many people, life got in the way.
As a shift worker, getting the art portfolio together was a bit difficult. I wanted to do a Portfolio preparation class but these are usually evening classes, and my irreglar shift pattern precluded it. So I did some applied art classes at weekends and summer schools at Missenden Abbey in Buckinghamshire, and City Lit in Central London (brilliant adult learning colleges). I did distance learning to do my C&G Creative Sketchbooks via Linda & Laura Kemshall's DesignMatters school, and I was all set to apply for my degree.
Then the 5 year plan had to change. I had identified my course at University of Hertfordshire, and was about to apply for a 3 year career break at my company. Unfortunately at this stage my Dad, who lived alone, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. He deteriorated quickly with some demanding behaviour patterns. I knew I could not devote enough time to a full time degree to hit the required deadlines of study, if I had care responsibilities for Dad. So I applied to my company to go part-time, working weekends, late turns only. I then applied to UH to study part time, and was accepted.
A year after his diagnosis, my Dad had a fall on ice and broke his hip. This was the beginning of a fast decline, and he died, 4 months after I started my course. It was a merciful release for all of us.