How a Napkin Doodle Changed My Life


I'm not one for sharing particularly personal blog posts, but this one pretty much wrote itself, so I thought I'd share…

I took this photo two years ago, on August 31, 2012. At that time I was two-thirds of the way through my first year of self-employment and Andrew, my lovely man, was halfway through an MSc in Psychology. We were living in Halifax, Nova Scotia and dreaming of future plans.

We knew exactly what we wanted - a house with a garden (and room for a vegetable patch), me still self-employed and with my very own antique printing press, and Andrew working on a phD. Oh, and not forgetting a little dog for company. We made the decision to pursue our dream by moving to the UK, but knew it'd take a year or two to get to where we wanted to be (house, veggie patch, dog, etc).

You might be wondering what this all has to do with a doodle. Well, the doodle came to life during one of our regular coffee and cocoa chats in our local Starbucks. On August 31st, 2012 I was feeling excited at what the future might hold, but (being the control freak that I am, and born with very little patience) I was also feeling frustrated with just how much time it might take, and how many things might go wrong (did I mention my pessimistic tendencies?).

Trying to explain how the road ahead would be filled with many ups and downs, but would ultimately end in triumph, Andrew grabbed a napkin and scribbled. And this little gem was born.

There we are at the start, the two of us just about to step off the edge of our comfort zone and into an abyss of the unknown, hoping to reach the point at the end where we have a little dog (house and veggie patch just out of shot).

Yes it's silly, and ridiculous, and oh so simple. But it was the thing that kept me going. I've lost count of the number of times I've pulled this napkin out of my notebook in the past two years. Every time things have got a little rough (hello international visa applications!) I've felt comforted by the thought that one day we'll get there.

And two years later, we're so close! We're just days away from celebrating our first year of life in Birmingham, I'm still self-employed and now own a beautiful print press, Andrew begins a phD any day now, we have a lovely rental home in a lovely part of Birmingham, and have successfully grown potatoes, spring onions, and two strawberries this summer! And best of all, we're just a couple of weeks away from bringing home our very own little puppy. Hooray!

It's taken two long years to reach this point, and at times it's hard to believe we've actually made it, achieving what we really hoped for on that sunny afternoon back in 2012. It's been gruelling. Challenging in ways I never imagined, and fun in more ways than I thought possible. And I don't think it would have been quite the same without that little napkin.

I guess the big question is, what comes next? Better grab another napkin…