Three years ago (almost to the day) we left the bright lights of the city behind and moved to our northern NSW farm. We came in search of sunshine, rest and tranquillity. What we have found is sunshine but the rest and tranquillity is still in transit. Sure we don’t have any street noise or can’t hear the breakfast conversation of neighbours, but we still engage in life; and life, even in the Byron hinterland, is hectic.
Hectic because we have completed some huge projects like building our own home, starting new businesses, relocating family members and making our way in our new community. Our life has been no more or less busy than yours. I know I watch your news feeds, read your blogs and Facebook posts; we are all fitting more and more into each and every year.
And as I just alluded to above, we measure what we do in terms of achievements, rather than how we travel the journey.
So for the first time ever, I am going to relay a story about the journey and how the destination says more about your headspace than your physical location.
About twenty years ago (let’s not get bogged down in details) I was part of a ‘new age’ management workshop. I worked for a multinational firm that was strong on personality types (Myers-Briggs stuff) and visualisation. I took to it like a duck to water. I cut out pictures and filled in my circles with fervour.
When asked who wanted to present their life plan, my hand shot up, I waved my collage and blurted. “I want to move to a farm, somewhere warm, to share with my animals and family. Oh and have a job that allows me the flexibility to work from there”.
When that was met with silence, I realised I hadn’t quite got the memo that your future was supposed to include the current organisation, career path and future contributions to the innovative growth of said organisation. Oops.
I folded the A3 sheets into an envelope and wrote ‘open in 2010 as directed, and stuffed it into the back of my filing cabinet, along with the other remnants of my life.
Over the next few years, the journey continued from one organisation to the next, building skillsets and working hard (as this was an attribute that I was rewarded for continually throughout my career). But always nagging me was this dream that I articulated the years before, but had firmly planted in my ‘stupid wishes’ section of my brain.
Then in 2013, my husband and I did it. We both had roles that allowed us to work from anywhere and we both wanted out of the city life. So we sold our inner-Melbourne house and moved.
A couple of years later, I was unpacking the millions of boxes (yes I have started to de-clutter) I opened a box titled ‘office’ and there were the usual files full of paid invoices, bank statements and kids school paintings. I flicked through, while making a mental calculation at the ridiculous amount of money I had paid to Telstra over the years, when out popped an envelope.
I didn’t immediately recognise it as the envelope from all those years before, but as I broke the yellowed gum seal, the memory flooded back; the joy at being able to articulate something so personal and then the embarrassment after presenting my ‘farm dream’.
I flattened out the sheet and there in the middle of the circle was a destination; farm in northern NSW. My eyes glanced into the horizon – I had done it. I was on that farm I had visualised all those years ago.
I sat and realised that the plan had focussed on the destination not on how this location would enrich my life. But the older I have gotten the more I realised is that life is less about the destination and more about how you engage and behave within that environment.
Warning – this is where this article gets personal.
One question I asked myself after opening that letter was ‘what am I doing differently now from when I was in the middle of the city? Am I still doing all the same things I did all those years ago?’
And for the most part the answer was probably yes.
I was still overthinking, procrastinating while waiting for perfection and using excuses not to make changes to my life that I know will have long-term positive impacts.
And this gets me back to the initial statement, our farm is quiet and tranquil but the crap you carry around in your head is noisy and clouds clear thinking.
So this is the next step of my journey. Moving tranquillity inside. Make changes that might make others uncomfortable, but ultimately need to be made in order to let the positive physical environment heal the years of stress and pressure.
This time there is no big sheet with cut out pictures from magazines, no circles of importance and no personality test to box my attitudes and behaviours. Nope – I have this blog post to re-read whenever I get ‘discouraged’ or lost. And now I have you. And I know if you have read this post all the way to the end you will support me, my journey and my challenges.
I know I have the strength and capacity to make things happen, meet deadlines and achieve outcomes and now I have the capacity to achieve balance, clarity and inner peace; because that beautiful view over the valley is starting to exert it’s healing power or maybe I’m finally ready to let it in.