The last few months have been so many things. Bewildering, magical, overwhelming, everything I’ve ever daydreamed about, exhausting, bliss and such a privilege. I have not started back at nursing yet, Julian is working from home, and Noah’s having a gap year. So almost everyday, here we are together. Each pottering about in this small cottage, sharing our daily lives in a way we’ve never been able to do before. There are so many times when I stand here and think – wow! This is amazing! Even better than when Noah was little, because Julian’s here too and we are somewhere exquisitely beautiful. What a gift for us.
But it has been stressful at times. I don’t like change. Never have. Which must seem insane to read because I have longed for this change for soooooooo many years. But change is change. 2015 was a stressful year with so much change and challenge. Moving was exhausting and stressful. Oh my goodness – those last few days in Melbourne were hideous – it felt as if they COULD never end. By the time I arrived here at Wombat Hill, I was utterly wrung out.
So pleased and relieved to be here – but completely spent. And what did we do – threw open our arms and welcomed even more change! Julian no longer left the home for work each day. Noah was no longer at school – 13 years of routine disappeared in a blink and a whole new era of parenting a young adult began. We had animals that needed to be housed and cared for. A normal sized family home’s worth of contents and furniture was divided between our little esky cottage and one side of the workshop. Then there were all the niggly details of moving – changing licences, registrations, service providers, insurance …
It was “Yes! There’s no more tram out the front!” to “Oh my god, there’s no more tram out the front!” Every where we needed to go required so much driving. But the road is beautiful and there’s no traffic. Everything is so much slower and more peaceful. But we can no longer call into all those shops that had become our favourites and where we knew everybody. I no longer had to carefully check my roster every night before falling asleep. And I no longer had that wonderful sense of purpose, privilege and camaraderie that comes with working as a nurse in a really good hospital with wonderful people I looked forward to seeing every day. And oh how I miss Meryl, her beautiful mosaic studio, the wonderful women I met there and the joy that was hours spent creating with like minded women.
I sound ungrateful. Truly I’m not. I do love living here. It is everything I’d ever hoped for.
But it’s a huge change. And I don’t like change.
Change flusters me. Leaves me nervous, heart beating a little faster, unsure of what to do next, what to expect, how to cope. Makes me teary sometimes. Short tempered other times.
Let me tell you how well I coped when Julian and Noah were in Melbourne and one of the chickens died overnight and something ate its brains out. Well. I didn’t. I called my mum sobbing and SHE came over and coped.
My Mum did what every sensible, loving mum does, and after she picked up the dead chicken and popped it into a box, she sat with me whilst I made an appointment to see our GP – who I’d only had an introductory visit with the week before and had been perfectly grown up and coherent. Not like when I saw her the day after the chicken died. Oh I cried and cried and cried. And she was incredibly compassionate and lovely.
We had a really really good talk – about change, and sadness, and relationships, and what makes us feel worthwhile, and menopause (oh that is so much fun!). She also prescribed a low dose of some good old antidepressants to help smooth things out, and I’ve been back to see her every week since. She is a real gem.
Five weeks on and I truly feel like I’ve been pulled out of a rather scary whirlpool and gently set back down on my feet. I haven’t cried in weeks – except those hiccuping tears of laughter when the new puppy or goats do something funny or Julian is silly. It is a joy to get up everyday and I’m steadfast in only thinking about what needs to be done in the next hour – not all of what we should do or what might go wrong in the next decade. Everyday tasks are so much more enjoyable that way – who’d have thunk! I’m so grateful for the love and patience shared with me by Julian, Noah and Mum. Gratitude and patience go a long way to making days peaceful and rewarding.
And instead of flapping about like a squawking hen, my newly peaceful mind and I have decided to use this change as an opportunity to reestablish good habits that I’d let slip over our years in Melbourne – especially with all that studying and nursing and a year’s worth of moving and feeling so unsettled. Simple things that make me feel relaxed and competent – making our bed first thing in the morning, watering my little porch garden, folding all the washing when we bring it in so our little home stays neat, washing up before we go to bed, putting time and effort into planning and cooking our meals.
That might sound a little 1950s housewife-ish. But I find that when all those little things run smoothly, I have so much more energy and passion for the much bigger and more exciting, creative things. A calm house makes for a calm mind. A reliable routine makes me feel capable of doing so much more.
So here I am. I have settled back into the regular reading of some inspiring books like Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions and Rhonda Hetzel’s Down to Earth and her new book The Simple Home. They help me think through what is important for my family and I, and encourage me to put these values into practice everyday. I’m pulling out the old favourite cookbooks and making well loved suppers and baking treats.
My patchwork boxes are still in the shed, but open and I’m slowly working through them, delighting in the treasures they hold and bringing in projects to finish off. I may not be able to work on my mosaics at the moment, but I’m loving painting – all the animal houses are being colourfully decorated and I’ve started a big canvas of what I love looking at when I stand on the porch. I’ve pulled out pieces of fabric and patterns I’ve bought over the last few years, and have started making clothes again.
And I’ve knitted. Oh my goodness – knitting is as good as meditation I reckon. In those first couple of weeks after seeing my doctor, every time I felt overwhelmed, I just sat in a lovely spot and knitted. And that feeling slowly subsided.
Now, I’m aware of speaking more kindly and thoughtfully. I’m considering my reactions when the unexpected happens and applying a good dose of self talk as required. My levels of impatience and frustration are so low, I feel positively Zen.
Chickens will still die and have their brains eaten out. Just this last fortnight we’ve had a big upsurge in rat activity and they ate all my carefully nurtured broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, parsley, silverbeet and lettuce. All the leaves fell off my new mulberry tree. And my right elbow is so sore (I’ve had “tennis elbow”) that I doubt it will ever feel the same again.
Julian will annoy me. Noah will have me throwing my hands up in despair. The dog will vomit on the rug. The kitchen will be a disaster and I will rather eat toast than cook supper.
But I am optimistic. I have so much. Every day I have many moments of such happiness and love. What was once this huge change is now becoming part of who I am. That is such a relief.
And I’m so glad I’m here, with my wonderful, much-loved people at my side, creating this new life. It is everything I’ve dreamed of and so much more.