Posted by: crustynomad | June 22, 2007

Wiping Ice Cream Off the Window

My business idea Mind Meadow was essentially born from having two hours thinking time effectively forced upon me. The following article – which can also be found on my website – addresses why giving yourself ‘time’ can yield results in unexpected ways.

I’m reproducing it here as it’s exactly a year since I had to take a second job doing cleaning just to put food on my family’s table. I stopped that job on December 31st 2006 but I don’t regret the experience in any way at all.
Sometimes you have to go to the bottom first before you reach the top. 🙂


Despite the trappings of a successful career I was one of the increasing band of debt-laden people in respectable, well-paid jobs that could not support themselves and forced to seek second incomes.

Debt is currently running at an all time high with the average liability of a person contacting the Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS) for advice standing at £32,000.

In addition the number of people earning more than £30,000 a year who were seeking assistance has risen by 257% in the past three years.

Personally I saw my second job as a means to an end but it was an enlightening experience. For five days out of seven I had to be up at 4.15am for a two hour shift which started at 5.00am and an hour later on Sundays. I got Fridays as my day off when I could have a lie-in until 7.00am. Whoopee-do.

On the plus side it was interesting to be wandering in a supermarket before dawn. During the summer months I had the gorgeous aroma of fresh peaches for instance but you have to weigh that up with the split bag of cat litter or one of those toxic air freshners with the essence of Chernobyl stream.

Everyday was different despite basically having the same tasks to complete each day. For instance, one Sunday I had to clean ice cream off the windows…honestly!

Despite all the issues of going without sleep for money I don’t regret the direction my life was taking back then. After all, the only constant in life is change and the cleaning job is now very much part of my past as I quit yesterday (December 31st 2006).

However, it’s worth looking back now so that you can understand how Mind Meadow came into being.

The job was very much a solitary and unchallenging activity but the major benefit it gave me was that of essentially two solid hours of quality thinking time.

Can you honestly say that you devote that sort of time in one hit into working out your situation, making plans for the future, developing schemes and new ideas etc? It is a strange experience and fantastic to have that freedom.

You’re up before dawn in a place that is usually heaving with chattering people and yet you’re pretty much alone in an eerie quietness. Apart from the floor polisher that sounds like some distant aircraft taxiing to an airport terminal there’s barely a sound.

It was in this atmosphere that I was able to let my mind wander off all sorts of different directions. I used my surroundings to stimulate ideas and I continually asked myself questions to get to the roots of my situation and where my future was taking me.

It was inevitable that sooner or later that real inspiration would hit me and so it was that Mind Meadow was born…


As 2006 drew to a close I made the decision that I wanted to take a day out for myself to go through, in depth, some projects I was working on in a different environment away from the city where I live. I decided the place to do this was Wells-next-the-sea, a coastal town in Norfolk on the English East coast where I’d spent many happy holidays as child.

Basically what I wanted to do was give myself the opportunity to have some quality thinking time away from daily distractions and use the break to write up my ideas and make plans for my personal and my family’s future. It then struck me that there wasn’t anything really out there that catered for this type of experience so I looked into the idea of setting something up myself.

People dream of having time to themselves and I felt that if was able to provide a basic framework in a comfortable surroundings with pre-arranged activities then people are more likely to do it.

In addition, I had connections in the life coaching and personal development industry who, when I approached them, expressed an interest in being involved in the project. I felt that this was a positive sign and it encouraged me to enrol on a course in life coaching myself and I have since gained a Certificate Personal Performance Coaching from the Coaching Academy.

At this point in my life I was juggling a busy home life and career as a graphic design and marketing professional with an early morning cleaning job at a supermarket. Perhaps surprisingly I do not regret this experience at all because it gave me the opportunity to do something different with my life. I was able to meet new people from different backgrounds and allowed me to evaluate my place in the community as a whole.

I would recommend the experience of doing something completely different in addition to your usual routine to give yourselves a wider perspective of the world. It doesn’t have to be cleaning but a task that takes you away from familiar surroundings that refreshes your mind and makes you think about where you are headed in life.

If your life is boring you, change it!

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