There are times in your life when you just have to have a breather. Take a step back and contemplate the world around you … where you are going … what you are doing. A sabbatical, I suppose one could call it.
Such a time arrived in my life mid last year, after all the promo, touring, talks and appearances that come with the release of a new book, in this case my latest novel, Lake Hill. And this is why you have barely heard from me since then. It was time for a break. Mentally, physically and emotionally I was wrung out from the rollercoaster ride that comes with writing seven novels, running a farm, raising three kids and endeavouring to be a good wife, daughter, sister and friend.
Roll on until now, and I cannot even BEGIN to tell you what a journey it’s been over the last eighteen months. I thought I was going to have some quiet time, lots of down time to … I guess … contemplate my homestead here on the hill, my farm, family and …. well, navel. (I actually DID do that and ended up cutting sugar and carbs from my diet and OMG, did that nearly kill me and then revive me, if that makes any kind of sense :) )
To try and encapsulate it all in a nutshell, together my daughter and I have been to cattle camps (yes, there is such a thing), show camps, each started a Hereford (her) and Speckle Park (me) stud. I’ve taught myself new things like how to crochet (and made a single bed blanket!), and with the assistance of others, learnt how to bake new stuff such as sour-dough bread.
I’ve also skilled up on how to be the best poolside mum, learning a new language in swimming events (State titles, Country titles, Sprint titles, Open titles, qualifying times, qualifying events, qualifying meets … who the hell knew?)
Add in the boys of the family and we’ve all been on an epic family adventure to Canada and Alaska driving across British Columbia, The Yukon, Alberta and Saskatchewan in an RV (Chevy Chase, eat your heart out!), swagged it across National Parks along the Great Dividing Range (Okay, the kids swagged it, H & I, had a comfy camper trailer bed) and last but not in the least, we’ve been tackling the dry conditions (Don’t be fooled by the calf-high green grass in the south, we in the north and eastern parts of Gippsland are in drought too).
In the big scheme of things, our farm is small and we don’t rely on it for our sole income, and for that, particularly this year, I am grateful. But it doesn’t make the decisions any easier on what cattle to keep, to sell, to join, if we join them at all. We’ve worked hard with our ‘girls’ to ensure we have a quiet herd. Each and every one of them has a place in our hearts. But we want to do the right thing by our stock and our business. Thus, the decisions are tough ones. Most of you reading this would know how this feels. And I mention it at all, just so you know we are all in this together and I’m thinking of all who have to make these decisions and more.
But back to the sabbatical.
I read a book. (Famous last words, those ones … ;) )
It came to me by way of serendipity, as do most of the weird and wonderful things in life. Written by a woman with vivid blue eyes, bright red lipstick and wearing an eye catching multi-couloured blouse I admired which made me look further and find out who she was.
Margie Warrell, is the inspirational author of ‘Make your Mark – A Guide book for the Brave Hearted.’ A woman with a passion for empowering people to live and lead with courage, Margie is an international authority on leading a brave life. With experience working with organisations from NASA to the United Nations featuring in her CV, whilst remaining a down-to-earth Aussie with rural roots, she seemed to speak my language. And then I found out Margie originated from Gippsland … and my husband’s family knows her family (we’re all country people so of course they do …;) ). And then there was that lovely blouse. She was ticking lots of boxes.
Sitting poolside while my daughter swam her way through her (very) early morning training sessions, I read and worked my way through Margie’s book, first with a degree of cynicism and then with a growing realisation my work – family - life balance was wayyyyyy out of whack. There was so much more I wanted out of life than just writing books.
It was time for change.
Canada was a big one. This epic ‘once in a lifetime’ FAMILY holiday was incredible fun (particularly the family dive into a glacial lake while the eldest filmed our ‘five up’ running jump, just so the kids have the evidence mum can NEVER again say it’s too cold to go for a swim.) A cattle stud x TWO (how the heck she talked me into that one I DON’T know), plus more land to run our stock (although I am currently running at a kangaroo:cow ratio of 50:1), and a breeding program that’s incredibly exciting. But the biggest winner of all was time to spend with my beloved husband, and kids. To have as much fun and laughter together that we could squeeze in, before these younger teenage kids of ours wander off on their own lives of discovery.
Eighteen months on and it was time to go back and revisit Margie’s book. Develop a new list of priorities and ideas. And this is where I come back to this blog. For the first time in what seemed like ages, I actually felt like I wanted to write.
Thank you for allowing me the time to be silent, to contemplate, wander and gather my thoughts, my family, my life.
I sincerely appreciate each and every one of you for your love and support. The messages I have received via email and FaceBook, the conversations at Farm walks, over drench drums at the Ag store, on the pool deck and beside the milk fridge in the local IGA; “How’s it doing, Margareta? Got any new books on the go?’
The answer is still no, but I am tinkering, which is always a good sign.
2019 is looming and whilst we desperately need rain, I have taken to finding one beautiful thing in every day.
Today’s is the fact I felt like writing to you.