A New Name

I recently changed my name and I’ve updated the website to reflect my new name.

The previous address for this blog, kthdsn.com, came from my usual internet username, and was my old name, Kate Hudson, without the vowels. This is the surname I acquired from my ex husband, who has not been a part of my life for many years now, so it was high time for a change.

I considered going back to my maiden name, but that was the name I had when I made the mistakes that resulted in my married name, so it carried the same baggage. I’ve moved on with my life and I wanted a name that looked forwards rather than backwards, so I decided to adopt a new name, and spent a long time considering what I wanted. I settled on Harris. I keep the same initials, and it appears in my family history so it’s linked to where I came from, and it’s loosely related to some of my hobbies and interests. Read more

A Busy Year

2017 has been a busy year for me. It has brought a lot of changes, some proud moments and some big challenges, but it’s been a great year.

The year started with my first exams since leaving school in 1999. It was really nerve wracking, but I did well and was really pleased with my results. I also had interviews at universities in January, and was delighted to be offered a place at my first choice, the University of Huddersfield, to study architecture.

In February, we celebrated my 34th birthday and QWeb’s 4th birthday. Our company is still doing well and we’ve been busier than ever this year.

I spent most of March and April doing coursework and sat my final exams in May. I did really well and earnt distinctions in all my modules, passing the Access to Higher Education course and meeting the conditions of my university offer.

My brother visited from Canada in June, and my parents came up from London as well so we had a house full!

In July I started my tarot website, cartomantic.com and gave a presentation about tarot history at my local pagan moot.

We got some new pet rats in August, and spent most of the school holidays at home playing with them. My place at the University of Huddersfield was officially confirmed, and my eldest two daughters got their exam results for AS level and GCSEs, which they were pleased with.

September was a really busy month, we moved offices, I started university and my parents visited again.

October was all about getting settled into university life and learning loads of new skills. I discovered that I can actually draw if I put my mind to it, which is great as I’ll be doing a lot of drawing for the foreseeable future.

After all the good news this year, November brought some bad news. My dad was taken into hospital, so I spent a few days in London visiting him and making sure my mum was OK. Thankfully he’s made a full recovery, and my brother and sister visited too from Canada, so we were all together for the first time in years.

I had my first project review at school in December, where I had to present my design to the tutors, answer their questions and get feedback. It went really well and the feedback was mostly positive. Now I have to finish some drawings and get ready for our first submission in January.

It’s mostly been a good year, full of educational milestones and family visits. If 2018 continues in a similar manner, I shall be pretty happy 🙂

Back to School

It’s been a busy few months for me. I went back to school in September. I’m currently studying an access course in engineering and applying to study architecture at university. Exciting!

It’s been difficult adjusting to studying again after so many years away from formal education, but I’m enjoying it a lot. It’s good to be doing something interesting and challenging, and it turns out I actually like having a proper routine.

I’ve got my first round of exams next week which is a bit nerve wracking, but I think I know my stuff, so hopefully it’ll all go well. I’ve also got a couple of interviews with universities lined up which is even more nerve wracking. I’m crossing my fingers and hoping for the best. Wish me luck!

Becoming a Driver

I posted about my first driving lesson back in May, and since then I have passed my driving test and I’ve been driving on my own for a while now. I was super proud to have passed first time 🙂

Feeling like a driver took me a lot longer than passing my test. Throughout my last few lessons I still felt like a learner, like I needed my instructor’s guidance, even though he wasn’t really helping me very much by that point. I was driving independently, he was just in the car with me and occasionally giving me tips and advice about driving in general rather than talking me through how to handle situations as they happened.

I was really nervous about my driving test, because I didn’t feel confident that I could drive without my instructor. It wasn’t that I didn’t know how to do it, it was that I didn’t feel like a driver, I felt like a learner. I was quite surprised that I had passed, it was like the universe saying, “See, you can totally do it by yourself.” I still wasn’t convinced.

The day after I passed my test, we went to the Honda showroom to test drive a shiny new car, and I still didn’t feel like a driver. I was very glad the salesman came with me, and I drove very slowly around the business park and left it at that. It was a pretty strange experience to be buying myself a car less than 8 weeks after my first ever driving lesson.

I picked my new car up a couple of weeks later when my new license finally arrived in the mail. I drove it home on unfamiliar roads with my other half making unhelpful comments as I stalled at every opportunity. I felt like I was starting to learn all over again. The car was different to the one I learnt in, and it took me a while to adapt and get used to it. I was still really nervous, and even more so because I was driving a brand new car.

After a bit more practise, I worked up the nerve to drive without another driver sitting in the car with me. I took my children for moral support, and was pleased with myself for being brave enough to go out “unsupervised” so to speak. We went on short trips to familiar places, sticking to roads I knew well, and my confidence grew.

The first time I drove completely on my own without any passengers was pretty unnerving. I didn’t go very far, but I had to deal with a big roundabout and a 50mph zone, so it wasn’t the easiest journey I could have picked. I was slightly surprised to find that I could manage perfectly well on my own, and that was when I began to feel like a competent driver rather than a learner.

I’ve been driving for a couple of months now, and I feel a lot more comfortable in my car. I’m still a new driver, but I feel like a driver rather than a learner 🙂

A New Direction

Until recently, I was a stay at home mum. I spent most of my time taking care of the house, picking the kids up from school, cooking, and doing the odd bits of knitting and sewing. I was getting a bit restless and was bored with being in the house all day. I don’t drive, and there’s nowhere very exciting to go near to my house by yourself, so I felt a bit stuck in the same old pattern. This year, that all changed.

My other half, also known as his lordship, decided to leave his job and become self employed. He is a talented web developer and has always wanted to work for himself. He was also feeling stuck in a pattern in his job. A window of opportunity opened to him and we thought it was worth taking.

For the first few days after he finished his job, we had fun being at home together and not being restricted by my lack of driving ability or his old job’s office hours. It was lovely having some time to ourselves and being free to go out for lunch together or not start work until after lunch. Sure enough though, we settled down into a new pattern and he actually got some work done.

We started looking into some options for his business, including becoming a limited company. This was always something he had wanted to move towards, but we didn’t know much about it and we weren’t sure it would be cost effective, at least to begin with. We were referred to a friendly accounting firm who gave us some great advice and suggested that we become a limited company together. This was the first time I had considered the possibility of becoming involved in his business, but it made sense for us.

As work started to pile up, it became clear that I could be more than just a company director who made the ocassional cup of tea. I took on the bookkeeping and administration, but his lordship was starting to struggle with the amount of incoming communication he was receiving. It was interrupting his workday to a point where he was hardly able to get any work done. I was glad to find something I could help with, and I began to take over dealing with incoming emails.

The first couple of weeks working together at home went well. I was enjoying having something new to do, and it was great to be able to choose our own hours and come and go as we pleased. As the novelty wore off, we began to feel a bit restricted in other ways. We were working from a couple of desks in the corner of our bedroom below a beam in a sloping ceiling, as this was the only space in the house they would fit in together. We banged our heads several times and the view of a wall was less than inspiring. Also, being upstairs while working left the kids downstairs by themselves, which was clearly not going to work on a long term basis.

We started wondering about the possibility of getting an office to work from, and trying to figure out how we could make that work with the school run. We also worried about whether it would be affordable as we are still a very new company and we’re just finding our feet. As it happened, another opportunity opened up to us out of the blue.

Whilst visiting one of our clients to discuss a new project, we mentioned that we were considering looking for office space, and by pure coincidence this client had an office unit that was about to be vacated. We had a look around and it seemed to be just the kind of place we could see ourselves fitting in nicely. We would also be able to take on more work from that client which would help to offset the increased outgoings we would have. We went for it.

I’m writing this post from my new desk in our new office, in a quiet moment between answering emails and bookkeeping. We’ll be leaving early to pick the kids up from school until our nanny starts in a couple of weeks time. In the last six months, I’ve gone from being a bored housewife to a company director. It’s been fun, exciting and unexpected. I’m looking forward to the future. Who knows where I might be a few more months down the line?

If you’d like to find out more about our company, you can visit the website at http://qweb.co.uk.

Don’t Wait

With my thirtieth birthday creeping ever closer I’ve been taking stock of my life so far, looking back over the years from the little girl I used to be to the woman I am today. It’s been an eventful journey with lots of ups and downs, twists and turns. I have been thinking about mistakes I’ve made, goals I’ve achieved, opportunities I’ve missed and adventures I’ve shared. I’ve created some amazing memories and learnt some valuable lessons, but the thing that stands out most, that I need to take with me into the next decade, is this: don’t wait.

There have been times in my life when I’ve grabbed chances by the horns and made seemingly rash decisions that often lead to great things. There have been other times when I’ve hoped and longed for something to be just right before I go for it. There have been yet more times when I’ve laid out all the possibilities available to me, but I haven’t chosen one, because to walk down one path means to leave the others untrodden. Rather than let go of the possibilities, I didn’t take any of them. I waited.

Looking back, I am proud of the crazy choices I made. They led me places I wouldn’t have got to otherwise. I found my wonderful partner by making a string of what others would call crazy decisions. I lived abroad because of a spur of the moment decision. Obviously, not all of my choices have worked out well. I’ve been divorced twice, I bought a house that turned out to be a complete disaster, and I tried moving to France without a hope of it working out well. I’m still glad I tried these things though. They were learning experiences that taught me all sorts of unexpected lessons.

What I regret most are not the bad decisions I made, or the ones with disastrous outcomes. I regret the choices I didn’t make, the opportunities I didn’t grab and the chances I let pass by. I regret standing at the crossroads and not choosing one of the paths for fear of losing the other possibilities, or because I couldn’t see which one would lead me to the best destination. I didn’t go back to school because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my future. I could have taken any course that interested me and decided further down the line, but instead I waited. I didn’t throw myself a birthday party because I couldn’t think of the perfect way to celebrate, so I waited for next time. I didn’t start a diary because I missed the first few days, so I waited until next year.

My twenties was a roller coaster ride of fantastic highs and terrible lows interspersed with a lot of waiting. I hope my thirties will be more like a road trip, always moving, always going somewhere, seeing as many sights as possible, but having the option to turn around and go a different way at any time. No more waiting for the ride to start, I’m taking control. I’m sitting in the drivers seat and it’s going to be a grand adventure.

Truth as the Basis for Belief

I have always thought beliefs should be based upon truth. It seems to make sense. I believe that my house exists because it appears to be true. I see it all the time, I can touch it, other people can see it too. It is definitely true that my house exists, therefore my belief in it is rational and sound.

I have spent a lot of time trying to find a truth on which to base my beliefs about other things, such as my belief that thoughts create or alter reality or that our spirit survives beyond the death of our bodies. I have thrown myself into a search for some ultimate truth about the meaning of life, the point of existence, something on which to base my beliefs. However, I have come to the conclusion that it is impossible for us to know the truth about such things. Either, such a truth is beyond our comprehension, or it simply doesn’t exist.

Over the last few years I have struggled to find meaning in my life. If there is no way of knowing what we are doing here, how are we supposed to know what we are supposed to be doing with our lives? How do we decide what is a better way to spend our time when there seems to be no definable way of knowing what we should be aiming for? When you accept that you can’t possibly understand the reason you are here, or that there may not even be a reason at all, everything starts to seem a little pointless. How do you find meaning once you’ve accepted that there isn’t any meaning out there?

I decided that if I can’t base my beliefs about the meaning of life on a truth that is impossible to define, I must base them on something else. It became clear to me that the only thing one can use as the basis for their belief system is the effect that those beliefs have on the way they feel and the way they live their lives.

I once believed that the only things that existed were concrete things that could be proven by science, and that when people die, that is the end of them. These beliefs were based on what I could see to be true. I wasn’t satisfied with this way of viewing the world though. It seemed cold and ultimately pointless. If we’re just filling in time before we die, we must be pretty insignificant and worthless. This didn’t exactly thrill me.

More recently, I have come to believe that there is more to the universe that meets the eye. There is some kind of invisible energy running through things, linking everything together. Things seem to happen for reasons. The way I think about things seems to affect the things themselves. With these beliefs, the world fascinates me. My life feels like an adventure that I’m convinced will continue beyond the death of my body. These beliefs clearly serve me better than my old ones.

My new beliefs are certainly not based upon a foundation of truths. Instead, they are based on the way they make me feel about myself and my life. It no longer matters to me that my beliefs can be proven, that they are actually true. I have accepted that the truth cannot be known, and chosen beliefs that make me feel good about life.

Rather than selecting beliefs based on what can be proven by science or confirmed by the senses and other people’s agreement, I choose beliefs that make me feel excited, fascinated and motivated. Instead of attempting to find proofs for my beliefs, I try to see positive changes in my life that my beliefs help me to bring about. If something I believe helps me to achieve something, that is much more valuable to me than a belief that is based on truth but that brings me down. If a belief isn’t working for me, I look for something that I would feel better about and try to integrate that into my belief system.

I have found that anchoring my beliefs on a foundation of positivity rather than truth has been very liberating and has led me in a completely new direction in life. I no longer feel the need to understand something incomprehensible in order to find a sense of meaning and fulfilment. I just go for what feels right to me, and the motivation, creativity and fulfilment I get is all the justification I need.

The Point of Life

Over the summer I have been pondering the meaning of life, the reason for existence, and what we are here for.  I have considered a whole range of possibilities varying from there being no meaning or point at all, through to life being so amazing in itself that that is the point. Obviously I can’t possibly come up with all the answers, but I can share my thoughts and views.

The main reason I have been thinking about the point of it all is that I have reached a stage in my life where I can begin to plan out a path for myself. My children are growing up and I will no longer be needed at home as much, so I can start to make my way in the world and create a life that will continue to be fulfilling and interesting long after my children have grown up and moved on with their own lives. But now that I’m faced with the infinite options, how on earth do I begin to choose?

I feel that it’s important to do something meaningful, but what exactly does that mean? I think it’s necessary to do something that improves the lives of other people, but even that seems vague. There is a big difference between improving someone’s health or ensuring their freedom and providing them with shallow entertainment or pretty clothes for instance. Yet entertainment and nice clothing contribute to a happy existence, so are they a less valid thing to offer the world?

Another point of view I considered is that we are all here for a period of time which constitutes our lifespan, and during that time we have to do something or other. In the big picture of human existence, how we each individually choose to spend our days makes little difference. From this perspective, it makes sense to fill our time with whatever we enjoy the most, no matter how frivolous it may seem. I didn’t feel satisfied with this idea either.

Another idea is that we are here to fulfil some kind of spiritual goal, and the possibilities here are many and varied as well. Some believe we have to live virtuous lives to enter a higher realm after we die. For some it’s a learning process and we’ll be sent back to the physical world again and again until we have completed our learning. For others it’s about renouncing the world to rediscover basic truths. The trouble with these ideas are that it’s impossible for us to know if there is such a goal, let alone what that goal requires us to achieve.

I have considered several variations of these ideas and rephrased the problem in many ways to try and find a perspective that feels right for me. I feel certain that each one of us must come to our own conclusion about why we are here and what we should spend our lives doing, based on our own unique point of view and set of beliefs about the nature of existence.

As for me, I still don’t have a definitive answer. I am not sure that it is possible to ever find one. I think it’s a process that needs improving and refining as we increase our experience of life, getting closer and closer to our true purpose, or at least to something that we feel is meaningful and find fulfilling.  At this point, I want my life path to include some form of helping other people, appreciating everything that I have in my life and in my world, and enjoying myself. I also think it’s important to keep learning as much as possible about anything that interests me, so I can expand my knowledge which may in turn help me to refine my ideas about my purpose.

I don’t believe that there is one path or destiny for each of us, more that there are infinite options, some of which may be better suited to our personal identities. It is a scary prospect to realise that once you have committed to one of these possible paths you are effectively turning your back on all of the other paths that could lead you to many wonderful places, but it is even scarier to think that you could spend a large portion of your life deliberating over which path is the best one for you, and never venture far enough down any of them to reach any of the wonderful places that await you. I do think it’s important to chose wisely, but it’s better to chose something that is part way to what you want than not to choose anything at all.

It is also important to realise that if you begin to tread a path and it doesn’t feel right, you can always branch out in another direction that is better suited to you. You can always change your mind, tweak things slightly, or take a leap in an entirely different direction if you discover something that feels like it will work out better for you.