Discovering a hidden haven in the Latrobe Valley, Victoria, Australia

And Breathe…

I am not a big one for New Year’s resolutions, but I do feel reflective as one year ends and another one begins. 2011 has been an odd year for me and this is going to be quite a personal post.

Bodium Castle in England

Our trip to the UK (and a little bit) of Germany and France was an absolute highlight, but coming home from the much anticipated trip saw me land smack bang in a big puddle of ‘the blues’. It wasn’t much fun at the time, but now it seems to have been necessary to come to terms with the need for change and to eventually find the courage to start to make change.

The Lakes District

Despite knowing the life should be in balance I had been oblivious to the fact that mine was completely out of balance. Despite telling myself that work wasn’t the centre of my life it had become exactly that and it was consuming everything. Time with family, time in the garden, time to reflect and re-balance. I’ve always been someone who pursues work that is meaningful and have been fortunate to find it. But working in community services can exact a high price if you are not mindful of keeping things in balance.

Australian Yellow Admiral butterfly

The impact was to spend my time giving up what was dear to me for work. This spilled into always trying to fit in too many things in and to do things in a constant rush. No taking time. No mindfulness. No thinking things through. No time to enjoy. Just get it done and keep going.

I was becoming resentful of the intrusion but didn’t think there was a way out. To change jobs would mean only a relative change of scene. I felt I could only do similar to what I was already doing and I’d still be there with me making the same mistakes. I lost my passion and work was becoming just the place to go and earn the mortgage payments.

Funny though, as the end of the year started to approach I started to catch my breath, just enough. Just enough to see that it was time to stop seeing life pass by in a blur. Time to stop watching the garden growing over and my daughter growing up without having time to appreciate any of it.

Pot Marigold

Then a little glimmering possibility caught my eye. A possible change of career, with a gentler change of pace. A return to study yes, but with a whole new career possibly spanning out in front of me. And one that would be interesting, but not overwhelming. There is no guarantee that the opportunity will be given to me, but it is worth a try and a bit of persistence if the first opportunity does not work out.

But along with possibility has come the realisation that if I can make this change it might also mean that the house (and of course the Gippy Garden) has to be sold. Up until now I haven’t wanted to even contemplate that because to sell the Gippy Garden would be to sell my sanctuary. But I’m coming to realise that the Gippy Garden can, in essence, come with me even if I have only a small patch of dirt. While I’ve been miserable I’ve forgotten that this is still the lucky country in so many ways and even if I should have to move somewhere cheaper, it will still have a garden of sorts I can make my own and have some more time to enjoy it. It won’t be the end of the world. And who knows, it might not even come to that.

Sunflower and bee greeting the New Year on January 1st 2012

So here’s to a big leap into the unknown in 2012. I might fall flat on my face, but at least I feel alive again!

A very ”Happy New Year” to you all and all the best with any leaps into the unknown for you in 2012!



Comments on: "And Breathe…" (16)

  1. Happy New Year Heidi; Good luck on the big leap, am sure you will do well. Really enjoy blogging with you so hope that part doesn’t go away, may have to change a little but that’s OK. Keep us posted as to whats happening.

    Have a great new year,

  2. Hello John! Thanks for your warm wishes πŸ™‚
    I’m hopeful that the change will mean I can still keep in touch via ‘blogland’. One of the many things I’ve neglected is friends, both ‘virtual’ and ‘real life’ ones, but friends is one on of the important things I want to find more time for. I really enjoy sharing our gardening adventures through blogging too, so I’ll still be around and popping in to say ‘Hi’, at least from time to time πŸ™‚
    Happy New Year to you and Liza too!

  3. Heidi–Forging new territory is always a bit scary, but I am moved by your heartfelt discovery that there is more to life. I keep learning that if I keep pursuing my passions, whether they be family or the garden, somehow life takes care of the mortgage payments. Trust your gut and go for it! There is someone on the other part of the planet cheering you on. Go, Heidi!

    Lesley from Merlin’s Garden

    • Hello Lesley πŸ™‚
      The support from the other side of the world is very warmly welcome thank you! I think one thing I need to realise is that learning to stay true to your passions is not a linear journey. I keep thinking I’ve got that one covered and then it slips away again!

  4. Heidi – thank you for sharing such a life’s epiphany. You never know how far-reaching your own personal revelation can be, and you will strike a chord with us all. 2011 was a challenge, so like you – I embrace 2012 with a glimmer of hope & a twinkle in my eye! πŸ˜‰

    Happy New Year, Gippy, my friend!

    (BTW – your photos were stellar; absolutely breath-taking!)

    • Hi Shyrlene – it was a bit nerve wracking to write such a personal post and to go on to click the ‘publish’ button rather than ‘delete’, so it is lovely to hear that it has struck a bit of a chord. Well, we can pack 2011 away now and say farewell to it!
      I hope you have an absolutely wonderful 2012 too – here’s to very Happy New Year πŸ™‚

  5. Heidi,

    I took a big sigh for you after reading this. I moved from Manhattan back home to the south under similar realizations, and with the understanding that I couldn’t have everything I wanted unless I left and sold my city apartment.

    I think you have probably made the hardest move already: understanding that physical things can only get you so far, and you can definitely take the important things with you, no matter what your circumstance.

    And one more thing, you can always change your mind and decide to go back to your ‘old’ way of life… but it is really really hard to get back chances that pass you by. You only live once.

    I say, good for you, don’t look back!

    • Hello dear Jess, it’s reassuring to read that you also had to make a major life decision and survived to tell the tale! You ar right too, even if the attempt doesn’t work out, life as I know it will still be there, so the end of the world isn’t looming πŸ˜€ But I’ve put in the application, so fingers crossed for the big leap!

  6. Happy New Year Heidi. You know, even if you fall flat on your face, which I doubt you will, you will still feel better for having tried, than to look back and wonder ‘what if’. I made a scary life/career change about 13 years ago now. That leap into the unknown. If you really want that change, you’ll find a way to make it happen. I had to leave behind our first house, and its garden I’d so diligently razed from the earth myself, which was difficult, but looking back, and glancing ahead to what I have now, I’m so glad I did it. I wish you lots of luck, and courage, in 2012, I hope you can realize your dream. Who knows, your next garden might be even better than this one…

    • Happy New Year to you dear Clare πŸ™‚ It is very heartening to read that you made the career and the garden move and not only survived it all, but are happier still with the results. It helps me feel just that bit more confident with facing any changes to come! Thanks too for such warm wishes, they do help a lot!

  7. Heidi, I spent some time over the weekend visiting with an old friend from college whom I hadn’t seen in 30 years. We both started out in human services just out of college; she stuck with it, while I burned out in a big way and eventually went into academia. I mentioned to her that one of the big differences for me was that academic work is cyclical — starting out at a slower pace at the beginning of the semester, building up to more and more work and more and more pressure, with the semester ending just when you think you can’t do it any more, followed by a period of delicious relaxation before the cycle starts again — while my experience of social work had been that it was like the high stress part of the semester all the time without any down time. She said, “Yes, yes!” and thanked me for articulating what so many people don’t understand — that the stresses and pressures of community/ human service work make it very difficult to live a balanced life.
    While it’s scary, the prospect of turning the page to a new chapter of your life just waiting to be written is also very exciting. Good luck, and I hope we’ll hear more as your plans progress. Hugs, Jean

    • Hello Jean, I’m over here saying my own “Yes, yes!” as I read your words πŸ™‚
      I imagine that academia results in some real ‘pressure cooker’ type pressure that is at least as intense as community services, if not more so, but it is truly lovely to have someone on the other side of the world have such empathy and understanding for what it is like in this field.
      I’ve dipped my toe in for the first part of the journey now by submitting my first application and I’ll keep you posted for any developments πŸ™‚

  8. dear Heidi, I’m so pleased you had the courage to write a personal post. As a social worker I can identify with what you say. Positive change seems so often to be preceded by some sort of crisis. And I suppose the most important garden that no one can take away from us is the garden in our minds. Good luck with your movings out of your comfort zone, and I look forward to ongoing communicating in 2012. All the very best, Sue

  9. Hello Sue πŸ™‚ I very much like the idea of the ‘garden in our minds’ – somewhere peaceful and tranquil to take wherever we go. Excuse the pun, but I’m really going to have to try and cultivate that state of mind!
    Thanks for your warm wishes and I look forward to keeping in touch too!

  10. Dear Heidi, I know that this was a very difficult post for you to write, and I admire you for it. As a septuagenarian (old person) I can assure you that many of us have gone through similar trials, and survived. I am a great believer in trusting your instincts when facing a problem. That is what you are doing; I’m sure you wont regret it. Good luck with your application, and if the first doesn’t work out, try again! Wishing you peace in 2012. P. x

  11. Hello dear Pam and thanks for your warm wishes of good luck πŸ™‚
    Your definition of a septuagenarian as’old person’ made me grin. Surely it should be an ‘older and more experienced person’!

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