OK, so it’s been a little quite here on the blog front lately….let me just say that its got nothing to do with life being at all quiet or mundane. In fact the opposite is true – living out dreams and aspirations and working through plenty of hard stuff too. But that’s all for another day….this post has been brewing for a couple of months now!

Even though we are eight thirteen fourteen weeks into 2013 I feel like I have only just re-surfaced after a busy 2012. Life changing stuff. Scary change-your-world-fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants-and-dream-big kinda stuff.

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28 years in the making….

I’m not much of a birthday fuss person. No big celebrations for milestones or designer gifts needed – just a day with some fine food and good company. Last weekend was my birthday – not a significant number – but it was a weekend filled with exactly what I could have wished for, and more!

It started on the Friday – school was out! To celebrate the occasion, the lovely farm where I am currently WWOOFing, had a weekend trip planned to “The Island”.
We [WWOOFers] hastily wheelbarrowed out all the mulch to get our day’s work done…

Jumped into the car and journeyed across some picturesque South Gippsland hills to The Island.

Pitched our tent at the beach house (the rest of the beds were taken).

Discovered a secret path from the backyard to the beach….

And this magical view was the reward for our day’s hard work!

We all wined and dined wonderfully – made even more splendid because I watched my footy team win; just a week later, the reward for them was to be their second premiership in seven years.
I climbed happily into my sleeping bag that night, realising that twenty eight years ago [to the day] my darling parents were getting prepared to welcome their daughter into the world a few hours later…I slept like a baby to the sound of waves and swaying banksia trees.

The next morning was better than you can imagine – first a trip to the local farmer’s market (on historic Churchill Island) to stock up on all things fresh and fabulous. Then a coffee with paper reading for an hour or so. And a little bit of strange animal spotting…

Beautiful scruffy Scottish Longhorn cattle
Lunch, birthday style – all I asked for was eggs, and a side of croissant!
Of course there was birthday cake, thanks to my lovely WWOOF friend Miriam (chocolate and beetroot).
With the sun out, I could no longer ignore the beach at my doorstep.

The water was cold…toes in was far enough for me!

Sun on legs, book in hand….I could happily spend the rest of my days here. But there was more important things to prepare for in the evening; PENGUINS!!
Yes, I was being thoroughly spoilt for my birthday – being sent along for a tour of the lovely fairy penguins that call The Island home (and have even displaced some humans from houses built on their habitat – how cool is that!!).


As darkness descended, the little fury things ventured carefully out of the waves and up the cliffs to their homes. Cute doesn’t begin to describe this “parade” that they do every single night of the year; I only wished I’d bought some more winter layers….

Later that night storms were brewing. I woke to thunderstorms at 5am, hoping the tent was waterproof!
Indeed mother nature was letting up know how quickly the world can change that morning – the sun was gone, the temperature was wintery again…perfect for a beach stroll up to Cowes for coffee. And more paper/magazine reading in a very cute cafe.

With heavy hearts we packed up a wet tent and left The Island to drive home.
Stopping along the way in Yarragon for a bite to eat and to browse the shops; lingering in the sun, savouring the relaxed sunday vibe just a little bit longer…
Home to unpack.

Late afternoon as the heavy clouds lifted I pulled on my shoes and went for a jog.

Who wouldn’t when this is your view….

All that for a weekend that I had originally thought would be quiet and uneventful.
It left me thinking, what a beautiful country we live in. And how blessed am I?
Thanks to Phil and Cathie here on the berry farm, and fellow WOOFer Miriam. And everyone who sent birthday wishes – I really couldn’t have asked for a more splendid time.

Here’s to 28 years and to savouring every moment that comes our way.

xxoo

Things I have done in the last 12 weeks….

Last week marked the 3 month point since I finished my well paid “professional” job and started living a different life. At that time I thought it would be a breeze to transition from a job I had whole heartedly enjoyed but ended up feeling more like a trap. I mean, who hasn’t dreamed about the fun to be had living with no fixed address or job to tie you down???
But much to my surprise I initially missed my former life…well some parts of it anyway (the routine, my friends and colleagues, even the sense of satisfaction from “making a difference” in peoples’ lives). It was hard….

 I had stepped away from the “reality” that I invested in over the years thinking it was the path to my happiness – my comfort zone had vanished and suddenly I was thrust out into the open with no facade to hide behind.
(actually what I was processing was much more exciting that scary, but this is only a recent realisation. At the time it felt like being stuck at sea on a tiny little wooden boat sans rudder, during a storm and at night).

So I was forced to look inwards – for once there was no society standard or expectation that I could use as a guide post for my next decision. And I can also admit now, there has been a few weeks where I remain “lost at sea” without direction. But above all, the freedom has taught me many valuable things and bought some very special people my way.

First of all, I found some fantastic new music to add to my collection.
The 2012 Port Fairy Folk Festival turned up some fabulous international and Australian artists that blew me away with their passion, talent and overall friendliness.  And I met so many people there that shared their wonderful stories with me like we had been friends for ever (even had a lovely couple save my seat so I could go and catch another performer!!).
Here are some of my highlights (i.e. I now own their CD’s):

These were my three favourite performers of the 4-day festival: Abigail Washburn, Ben Sollee (cello extraordinaire) and Krystal Warren taking on a great cover song….

And here is the amazing Krystal Warren performing at the festival solo – a unique voice indeed!!!

And a song that spoke directly to me: Abigail Washburn (she just had Kai Welch supporting her for Port Fairy). The lyrics are just astounding:

running out of time
standing still
something’s gotta change or nothing will
you gotta leave your home
rattle all your bones
and shake off your chains

My favourite thing about any festival is the artists/performers you literally stumble into, and feel your world is instantly better for finding them: cue Friday night, late, in a small tent packed out when on came 5 dapper young men from the UK otherwise known as ahab. They bought their own take on bluesy folk – in the vein of Mumford and Sons but better. This is a recording from the studios, but still you can feel the vibe:

 Finally, my favourite local act were the high tempo un-stoppable Flap! – entertainment personafied. And who doesn’t love some great brass….

Next I had the ultimate road trip adventure – up and down the east coast of Australia for a total of almost 6000km’s. Firstly in a moving truck, driving from Canberra to Gippsland with all my possessions through a flood and nearly not making it back the next day. Then in my darling little Blue Car from Gippsland to Canberra to Sydney, then Mudgee, Port Macquarie, home (Murwillumbah and Gold Coast). Then the return trip along the south coast – Broulee, Narooma, Bega, Eden, Pambula and Lakes Entrance.

I learnt how to make the perfect hard boiled eggs. Yes, an art I had never mastered until Google and I got together one morning recently…

I picked up, sorted, processed and packaged my fair share of pecan nuts….as well eating some too! I realised taking photos of the crowd is also the ultimate way of avoiding the hard manual tasks (i.e. pulling tarps). And that I don’t like the humidity of living north of say, Port Macquarie!

It’s raining pecan nuts!!!! Harvest….all hands on deck helping (except the lady behind the lens)

I attended Milkwood Permaculture’s Organic Market Garden course in late March, learning that I already knew quite a lot about gardening and that the only difference between a good gardener and a poor one is three days. That’s how long it takes for weeds to get overgrown….But I met some glorious people during my few days on the farm and learnt far more than I imagined about recycling human waste as compost.

Due to the budgetary constraints of not having a job, I can now tell you that op-shopping is one of my newest hobbies (3 pair of jeans for $15, a pair of wet weather/snow overalls for $17 and lots of other glorious finds).

I have also found that fairies really do live in the garden (or at least my brother’s garden where I was house sitting….these gorgeous mushrooms are all the evidence that I need!!

Also whilst house sitting, I have rekindled my love-hate relationship with the axe….I love being warm at night, but find it hard to motivate myself enough to chop up the wood before I use the last piece of dry wood.

Just this week gone, I ate heart. I can assure you that I do not need to do that again in a hurry but can tick it off the list of crazy things one can consume…for those wondering bovine heart really is quite flavour-less but has a very muscly texture. However, I am going to endeavour to be a bit more adventurous with all things meat and offal over the next few months….

Spurred on by some good op-shop finds, and feeling a little cold I have crocheted my first beanie (didn’t quite get the dimensions right so it needs a giant head to wear it, not just my big one!), and half a blanket (ran out of wool), as well as knitting the most gorgeous scarf whilst teaching my sister-in-law how to knit (sort of). Oh, and I also made a knee rug for Mum and crocheted a beautiful wool bag to carry my yarn in….I am currently using the wet dreary weather outside as an excuse to start crochet project no. 100* – a bright blue-green-aqua shrug. Let’s hope I get the dimensions more accurate than the beanie!!

This was the wool stash I found at Mum and Dad’s from when I was still living at home….I made a bag!

*not quite sure how many I have started, but I think I have only finished about 5 projects!! It seems I either lose interest, run out of wool, or don’t like the finished product and pull it all apart and start again…

But now I am into the next phase of the fun…an internship at a farm specialising in diverse agriculture ventures that look after the environment at the same time that you make a living!! Taranaki Farm is located in Woodend, Victoria – just 45mins from Melbourne. Set up to be the “Australian PolyFace” – using methods that Joel Salatin has refined over the past 30 years. I’ll write more about this next week, but here’s just a taste:

Taranaki Farm “healing the land” video, (aired Gardening Australia 2nd June 2012)

Go to facebook and like them to keep updated in the progress we make, working towards Beyond Organic beef, chicken, pork, and eggs.

xx

2012: thoughts and plans

I have resisted the flimsy and transient nature of “new-years’ resolutions”……it always seems that by February 1st you have either broken, forgotten or lost the desire to keep them up.

Instead I have been jotting down ideas as they float around in my head, trying my best to formulate into some sort of plan. Every year that passes I try to promise myself that I will focus on a plan that keeps the things I value front and centre.

(even if I don’t entirely know what those things are).

Two three quotes that have either made me think hard or spurred me into action now that we land at the end of January 2012 are:

Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.  ~Henry David Thoreau

The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.  ~Anna Quindlen

 When your heart speaks, take good notes.  ~Judith Campbell

2011 has been a year that I have learnt more about who I am, who I want to be and what will get me there – even if at times the journey has involved a great deal of sadness or challenge. I have been forced to reconsider what I thought was “important” to living a life of fun and happiness. I have realised that “worth” only comes from the price you put on your own happiness – not what others’ say you should be content with. I certainly am aware of what I value, and where my boundaries lie….where maybe there were times where I would ignore what “the heart sang” just to try and please/appease those around me, I can now say that my happiness is at the front of my mind. 

So, 2012…what will you bring?


 
Recharge.
  • First step to that is letting go, leaving a job that drains me. Gaining space and time to breathe again, consider what work I can do that both sustains and fulfills me.
    Update: I finish work 24th February. Funny how since making the decision
    I now sleep well again at night.
  • Second step to the recharge is moving states to a place that holds charm, culture, friends, family, music. Yes, I will be giving up an easy commute, quiet life, treed backyard and pleasant weather, but there’s always some plus’ and minus’. Melbourne has been calling my name for some time now………the heart’s finally just sung loud enough for me to hear over the brain’s chatter!!

  • Letting go of possessions, relationships, old hopes and unrealistic dreams I have harboured for the last 12 years that have only created barriers to sustaining those meaningful things (people) in my life. Plus, hard to move states and embark on another journey holding onto a whole lot of (unwanted) baggage.  

 
Renovate. 

  • Firstly, I am focusing on losing my sugar addiction/dependence: this might take a fair chunk of time and dedication, but I have lived that way for 3 months (way back in 2010) – I’m sure I can break the habit and live clean!! I am using David Gillespie’s book “Sweet Poison” and Sarah Wilson’s “I Quit Sugar” e-book as a guide and some inspiration…
  • Cook more – wholesome, organic, seasonal, sustainable (local).

Summer harvest pesto pasta

Winter warming stew

  • Big purchases but with a “green” price-tag attached: buying a bike! Then I am challenging myself to use two wheels more than four.
    This little beauty has caught my eye…*love* Sommer from Papillionaire

Rediscover.

  • More blogging about what I love.

  • Starting some big (and not so big) creative projects – photography, knitting, crochet, drawing, writing, guitar and singing are all hitting a priority for me as I take a step back from “do more for others” to “do what I want”.
  •  Learn French.
  • Travel. Study. Read. (I guess you could just say I want to expand my horizons, rather than be tied down by “what I think others want me to do/be”!!)
Beautiful Heronswood gardens and homestead, Mornington Peninsula
A morning walk along the beach, Jervis Bay

 Yes Yes. I’m getting excited. Making lists. 2012 is the beginning of a new phase in many respects – it’s hard to live like a hermit under a rock with the world around you evolving before your eyes (financially, in big-business, with our social consciences, and especially in the environment).
It reminds me that the only thing I can count on is the fact change will come. Whether I am ready or not.Above and beyond all the plans above, I hope that I am accepting and willing to take this change in my stride.

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.”     -Serenity Prayer