I’ve done lots of hard things in my life, physically, emotionally and mentally.

Physically, giving birth to three children is far from easy. Emotionally, dealing with multiple diagnoses for two of those children has been more than difficult.

And mentally, coming to terms with my stress-induced-episode-that-might-have-been-a-stroke was one of the toughest things I’ve ever had to do.

But I think the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do is just around the corner.

A few weeks ago I posted this cryptic message on facebook:

Cryptic FB Message

I was cryptic at the time as I was still unsure of what it all meant. I still don’t know but I think I need to put it out there to try to come to terms with it and come to a decision. If I can.

On June 3, I submitted an expression of interest in a voluntary redundancy. This means that I may be offered one in the next month or so or I may not. It doesn’t mean that I am guaranteed an offer or that I am compelled to accept one if I do receive one.

It doesn’t mean a lot really, except that, for the first time ever, I am considering leaving all that I know and doing something completely different and completely unknown.

It’s scary and exciting at the same time. Not at all conducive if you have an easily upset stomach!

I am torn and I have been since the moment I submitted the expression of interest. Even if I do receive an offer, I may not accept it. It will largely depend on the package offered and how confident I feel that I will be able to find other employment.

Unfortunately we don’t have the luxury of being able to afford to live off one income so I will have to draw an income somehow, down the track.

There are a lot of reasons why I am deliberating this right now. Undoubtedly, my stress-induced-episode-that-might-have-been-a-stroke has been a huge factor. I don’t want to be in that position again. I want to maintain my health – physical, mental and emotional. That is really important to me right now.

I also want to spend more time with my family and be more present. This has always been a problem. Working through the week means that  have lots of tasks to attend to on weekday afternoons and weekends which means that I am less available to my kids. I really want to stop being that mother that says “just wait a minute” 100 hundred times a day.

There’s a part of me whispering, “don’t leave a job that pays you well and that you really do enjoy – what are you thinking?” And yes, this is true. I do like my job and I am well-respected there. Why on earth should I even consider throwing that all away when I know I will need to keep working anyway? They have stuck by me and understand my circumstances – why start all over again from scratch?

And there’s another part of me insistently whispering, “you’ve spent half your working life with the one employer, are you too scared to take the plunge and try something new?” And yes, this is true too. Maybe it’s time to try something new. Time to work on other things close to my heart like helping kids with special needs. I do have another 30 years of my work life ahead of me (thanks Mr Hockey – not!) and I would like to use it to make a real difference.

And then there’s another part of me, screaming, rather than whispering, “either way you need to make a change. You need to de-stress. You need to find a balance for your family. You can’t go on believing things will change if YOU won’t change”.

And that’s truest of all. I have tried to cut back and work more hours on less days – being able to work from home has really helped me with that. I’ve tried to take time out for me by having a day a week away from work.

But I’m finding myself feeling the need to work at night and on the weekends to make up my hours. I’m feeling guilty when I can’t get everything finished and most nights I sit there unable to do anything productive (like blogging) as my mind is endlessly engaged with work issues.

Is that the way I want to continue to spend the next 30 years of my working life? Is that the way I’m going to avoid another brain meltdown?

But it’s not as easy as that. There are other things I would love to do but they require funds. Funds I am guaranteed on my current salary but may not have if I choose another path.

For instance, we would love to travel more as a family. Our trip to New Zealand in January gave us a tantalising glimpse into a life where we all thrived on sharing new experiences, even Gilbert. Either way we are planning on a 3 month sabbatical next year to travel further afield and I can’t wait.

But before then I have to make the hardest decision in my life. There is no doubt I need to change. But does my best chance of change and life happiness lie with staying with safety, security and the known? Or does it lie with embracing all the potential of an uncertain path with the risk of a happier life but equally risky financial future?

Either way, changing my life is going to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done. By far.

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