On taking a breather (my midlife gap year)
Monday, 03 June 2019
Two and a half years; that’s a long time between blog posts. I declared 2017 my ‘midlife gap year’—a year off to focus on living life rather than earning a living. A year to pause and ponder before moving onto the second half of my life. I embraced all the ‘r’ words: retreat, reflection, reevaluation, rejuvenation, and restoration. I found the whole experience so worthwhile, my midlife gap year extended to two years. It took that long for my pause to pay off, for me to reemerge—restored, renewed and ready.
Liv’s small school visits to measure our tiny home for a maths lesson.
I know stepping away from paid work is a luxury, but it was made possible in part by us living in a tiny home.
We’ve been living in our shipping container home for just over three years, but the approval paperwork has only recently been finalised. Our tiny home is finally "suitable for occupation/use." That we were living in our tiny home illegally is probably another reason I was quiet in this space. I was uncomfortable writing about our tiny home life when we could have been asked to move out at any time. But now that we’re legal I suspect I’ll find my tiny home voice.
It was hard to stop doing, and simply be. In the beginning, I’d cringe each time someone asked me “What do you do?” But by the end I responded with confidence, “Right now, I’m taking a midlife gap year.” If they seemed interested, I’d chat about what I did and what I am going to do, but I was no longer embarrassed about the not doing. We need to respect and normalise the breathers in between.
The breather gifted me clarity about where I am going and what I am trying to achieve. At first, I worried my taking time off paid work was selfish, but I realise now it has helped me to be self-less. I know I’m on the right path, and have become far more patient about how long it will take me to get where I’m going.
I’ve continued writing these past few years. I’m writing a memoir about nature connection. I didn’t feel like writing elsewhere while I poured everything into that. But the end is almost in sight and I’m looking forward to writing elsewhere again.
A few bits and pieces I collected over my year-long four seasons journey with the School of Shamanic womancraft. Each object reminds me of a lesson.
The first half of my breather I focussed on not doing. I retreated and reflected. I created white space and then turned to my intuition to fill it. I found myself studying with the School of Shamanic Womancraft where I discovered that wonderful things happen when we live in sync with the cycles and seasons of life and nature—in particular, when we embrace the dark aspects of those natural rhythms. The moon waxes and wanes. She has a dark phase—a time for retreat and reflection. The seasons come and go. We have autumn—a time for release and harvest. Then comes winter—a time to rest and snuggle. The cycles influence us whether or not we are paying attention. And if we don’t pay attention, if we don’t pause in the darkness, we pay for it.
Since stepping out of my midlife gap year I’ve been hosting seasonal nature connection gatherings for women in the Newcastle region. The winter series starts soon if you are interested in joining us. More information here.
I’m also hosting two gatherings with Milan Dhiiyaan at our place in the Hunter Valley this weekend (8 & 9th June). An important aspect of nature connection for me is learning about the culture of those indigenous to this land; about how they connect to country. On Saturday we’ll carve our own clapsticks and on the Sunday Wiradjuri & Wailwaan woman Fleur Magick Dennis will teach the women how to connect to Mother Earth through ceremony, while the men and children make a gunya (Aboriginal shelter). And if you join us, you'll get to have a peek into our tiny home :-)
While I was on hiatus, little eco footprints celebrated its 10th birthday. So I thought it was about time I wrote an about page. Only took me a decade ;-)