I love the outsets, despite the fear and uncertainty that attach to all beginnings . . . I have already begun a thousand lives this way.
~ Rainer Maria Rilke Letters to a young poet
I’m at my desk looking out at the Cambewarra Mountain which is shrouded in cloud cover. The ground outside is wet from the intermittent rain overnight, and the birds have begun their morning song. It’s a good morning to reflect on the year 2017 – what’s happened and what’s next.
The past year has been intense — filled with colour and emotion, activity and tumult. A year of big decisions and big effort. So much has happened. It’s my biggest year since I immigrated to Australia thirty nine years ago. It’s up there with childbirth, going to university as a mature student and seeing my youngest off to study and travel overseas solo for the first time.
The first part of my year was marked by decisions and activity. I answered the declutter guru, Marie Kondo’s call to pare down and discard stuff that didn’t give me joy. For my personal story — deciding what mattered, what was important to keep in the story and what to let go of, was a struggle which required much circling around with ink on paper. But our biggest decision was to sell our house and business. Move to where we could see the sunrise over the ocean instead of the sunset. A decision to change how we work and make a plan for a new way of life that was more wholehearted. Packing up our life set a rollercoaster of emotions in train — anxiety, doubt, disillusion and finally, relief.
We have been in New South Wales for three months now. Sharing a home with my mum while we look for the dream house in its perfect location somewhere along this beautiful south coast, has been a learning curve. Returning to live with a parent — disrupting their habits, encroaching on their space and finding their kitchen equipment lacking (by my standards) — is tricky, especially when you’re used to living differently, with more space and less stuff. It requires compromise and tact, and resilience when you’re feeling vulnerable after a traumatic year. It was a fraught beginning but over time, the three of us (and the princess dog) have found a way to share the space and rub along together reasonably well, and I’m grateful.
With most of our belongings in storage, we are learning to live with fewer clothes and books. Items that we previously thought were essential we are able to live without. And even though I miss some of my beautiful things and especially my kitchen and all its accoutrements for creative cooking, I still manage to produce meals that pass my critical muster. The trauma of relocation has faded, replaced by a nostalgia for familiar places and experiences — the beautiful parks for our walks, my local library, the convenience of living in a city, seeing foreign films . . .
But there is much that is beautiful to occupy us in our new surroundings. We have a new rhythm in our daily life. Hikes in the bush and along the river with its clear water, walks on beaches with the whitest sand, paddles in a lagoon, and shopping in interesting villages, are part of our regular routine. And yes, we miss some of the conveniences of city living, but we now have vineyards and paddocks with cows grazing as our passing scenery on our neighbourhood walks. But it’s not just about leisurely pursuits.
We’ve worked hard to restore the neglected garden which has enough space to grow flowers as well as vegetables. Tomatoes are growing, eggplants forming, cucumbers ripening and there is fresh lettuce to be picked for our lunch. Dahlias are bursting forth with their showy blooms in time for Christmas and the roses have just finished their first flush of flowering.
My creativity is also flourishing. My writing, which was erratic for a long time is now an established practice every day. I’m learning to draw as you know, and although I don’t practice as often as I should, I really love this expression of my creativity. Amore is relaxed and flexing his own creative muscles — experimenting with designs and contemplating his future of work.
And as we near the end of 2017, we are on a hiatus — not waiting, but pausing. Life is tranquil, and although we’ve had moments of doubt and flashes of regret, we have our hearts and minds focused on what’s next.
One of the things at the top of our what’s next list is finding a place to live. Not just a house, an environmentally sustainable dream house in the perfect location. We’ve been thinking, talking, making plans and pasting ideas into our inspiration book for more than a year. We have a tall order, and so far in our explorations the ideal package is illusive.
Not so illusive is a plan to travel to Italy. It’s been more than a year since our last visit and we hope to have an extended working holiday in the beautiful country. We are in the planning stages of dates, flights, arrangements for the princess dog, and investigations into Italian internet service. We have been offered an apartment for our stay in Genoa for which we are grateful. It’s a highlight in our 2018 calendar to look forward to and work toward.
I have other work to complete. A list of to-dos regarding my website has been neglected as is my my goal for publication of my first travel article in a magazine. Procrastination and resistance have reared their ugly heads and even though there are completed articles waiting to see the light, I haven’t hit the submit button yet. What holds us back sometimes? Fear of rejection? Perfectionism? I suffer from both these afflictions and they can be difficult to overcome. But I know the solution — break the task down into manageable chunks, put one foot in front of the other, one word and then the next, and work on it consistently, EVERY DAY!
The sky has cleared and the mountain is now in full view. The sun is out and the cicadas have resumed their cacophony from the grove of trees opposite. It’s been good to reflect on 2017 —what’s happened and what’s next in 2018. I’m happy to leave the rollercoaster of emotions behind. I’m also grateful for the roof over my head, achievements small and large, and the simple joys in my life. I can see that our 2018 calendar is marked with some exciting things and I look forward to a creative year.
I hope that when you reflect on the past year that you recollect many joys and achievements in 2017 (it’s so easy to remember the bad things, sometimes we need to pause and refocus our attention on the good things that happen to us).
From my family to yours, a wish for a peaceful and joyous festive season and may 2018 bring you all the best things.