Living a slower, simpler, more meaningful life

On Writing, Finding your Place and Hibernation

I’ve been writing a lot lately.  Nearly every day, sometimes multiple times a day. I write in the shower. I write while I drive. I write as I chop vegetables, put away shoes and fold blankets. I know it’s time to really write, on paper, when my thoughts are no longer rambling and a bit wild the way thoughts are, but rather more like essay drafts complete with fully formed sentences and paragraphs. I always have such grand intentions about writing. I will do it often and consistently. I will get up every morning and write for 15 minutes. I’ll journal and blog and capture little moments from my day and use it as therapy. I want to say I’d do it too, if I were well enough, but I haven’t always been sick, and I didn’t write consistently then either. I think though, that you know when you’re a writer, and even if you resist it, for whatever reason, you still live with the soul of a writer. Even though the world might conspire to keep you from actually capturing the words on this day, or any other day. For me, having a blog means always having an outlet when the words are ready. I like that. One Day I’ll write more than this and maybe I’ll need another outlet. Wouldn’t that be fun!

When you have chronic fatigue I think it’s OK to say ‘One Day’.  When you have chronic fatigue, if the day ever comes when you actually have the energy to do all the things you were going to do One Day, then by God you’ll take that energy and do those things. But for now, I’m sitting here by a crackling fire, and I’ve pushed the armchair back a little so I can turn and see through the big windows into the garden. A burst of sunshine has just broken though from behind dark clouds, and the rain soaked garden is positively glowing. Light is streaming through the deep red leaves of the grapevine on the pergola and the dappled light is glorious. With the sun out, it feels warmer than it did, and I might even need to layer down soon. This is a good place for writing. For sitting and reading and being too. I’m feeling pleased and self-satisfied with this house and this comfy armchair. I like being here, in this part of the world, at this time in my life. I feel like I’ve come home.

My armchair view, just before the clouds cleared.

 

I would prefer to be well. I haven’t been improving, which is a big disappointment. I really thought a few months of country air and quiet living would make a big difference. I think I probably sabotaged my recovery by pretending I was improving and doing too much. I may have mentioned before that I’m a slow learner, but I really have outdone myself. That time when I thought I was getting there, that time last year, and that other time early this year – I probably wasn’t. I was probably pretending so that I could trick myself into a speedier recovery. I’m closer now. I may actually be learning! I’m more disciplined. I realise more quickly when I overstep my limits, and I correct before veering too wildly off course. I still veer, and there are still tears. There is despair and exhaustion and overwhelm. There is ‘will I ever have my life back’ and ‘what if I can never work again’ and ‘maybe I’m doing it all wrong’. But then it gets better and I sleep and I say no to more things and the future looks ok again, if not ideal. I’m trying something new soon, an alternative therapy designed to gently rehabilitate from chronic illness. I’m quietly hopeful. Or hopefully cynical! But more on that another time as for now it’s all about slowing down and resting.

During the holidays we went away for a weekend with friends. It was a beautiful spot by the beach, and we enjoyed a restful few days of slow walks, books and soaking up the autumn sunshine. We all had a lovely time, and maybe I’d do it again, but I was exhausted and emotionally drained for several weeks afterwards. For every action there is a reaction, and I’m getting better at recognising what I have to say no to. A little while ago I said yes to a quick play at the park after school, even though I had to get to the shops and make dinner that night. The outcome was being unable to do anything the next day. I like going to the park. I like chatting to the other mums and being part of a community, but I know now that I can only do that if I plan my day around it.

This week I drove an hour to my Osteo in the city. Afterwards I took some preloved winter threads to a little store up the road that buys second hand clothes. I was there about 30 minutes and found a great new coat and dress to buy with my store credit. Then my friend cooked me lunch and I lay on her couch for a while and chatted with her before driving home. I was wiped. I had to spend the whole next day in bed with my head in a fog and my body too heavy to move. That night I couldn’t sleep, managing only 2 hours before spending the day at home with a sad girl who needed a bit of quality mama time instead of going to school. By the evening I was so wired from exhaustion I thought I’d never sleep again. I got there eventually, and now it’s another day, the sun in shining and things are clearer, but next time I’ll drive straight home after the Osteo and hopefully I won’t lose 3 days as a result.

It’s so beautiful here right now, on the precipice between the seasons. Nights are crisp with just a hint of the Winter to come. Autumn’s endless sunshine is faltering, and some mornings it seems we’re in for nothing but gloom and clouds. Then just when you’ve given up and gone to collect some kindling for an early fire, there’s a glimpse of blue sky and that Autumn sun comes streaming through. One more time. Perhaps today is the last day. I wanted to do more in the garden before winter set in. Oh the plans I made! Landscaping and swales, an orchard and espaliered fruit trees. A dry creek bed to capture the stormwater run off, lilies and reeds for the dam and a cute little home-made fence for the kitchen garden. But you know what, we’ve only been here 4 months and there’s a whole lifetime ahead of us. These things will happen, eventually. We did manage to get some carrots into the raised bed and create three no-dig beds with broccoli, cauliflower, beetroot, cabbage and garlic planted in time for winter. I’m not sure if they’ll survive the Macedon frosts (and snow??) but I’m glad we’ve got our first experimental crop in. Plus I’ve made a start on my medicinal herb garden.  This is the real passion project for me at the moment. With compacted, heavy clay soils it’s been mostly Scott’s hard work with a mattock, cultivating the beds that I’ve designed and getting them ready for planting. I’ve been engaged in much more gentle labours, transplanting the herbs that mum had been propagating for me over the last year. There are some salad greens in pots, a few bits & pieces of seedlings and some pretty trailing plants in a couple of hanging baskets on the deck. It’s a start and probably more than enough to keep an eye on over the hibernating period.

Speaking of hibernating, next week our new Nectre slow combustion fire is being installed. There’s a delicious open fire in the lounge, but it’s enormous and burns through the wood at a great rate, so it will be saved for those super chilly nights and special occasions. With the (heavenly, sigh) hydronic heating too costly to run on bottled gas, the new Nectre will be our only heating and it will burn 24/7 over winter. I can’t wait. There’ll be a boiling kettle on the hob always, ready for visitors who drop in for a cuppa and a warm place to shelter from the cold. Yes, winter is coming, but I’m not dreading it. Apparently Autumn has been unusually warm and dry, so perhaps I’ve been lulled into a false sense of comfort, but I don’t think my expectations are unrealistic. So far I’ve loved the marked difference between the seasons. Summer was scorching, harsh and a little frightening because of the bushfire risk always in the background. Autumn by contrast is crisp, still and gloriously colourful under a perfect blue sky. Winter I imagine will be dark, damp and miserably cold, suitable mostly for casseroles and cups of tea and huddling by the fire. I’m ready to hibernate and take this time for myself and my family as we rest and prepare for another year. I think I’ll try knitting again; there’s a half made beanie somewhere that I really should finish. My book stack has been building up in anticipation and hopefully I’ll write a little too.

I’m glad every day that we moved here. We looked at so many places over so many years.  We considered so many factors, requirements and conditions, priorities and preferences. In the end only Macedon felt right. I gaze at the mountain every day and am comforted by its weight and presence. I close my eyes and see myself here, in the west of the state and it feels right. It’s where my people are from, although they were further west. But it’s right, somehow, and I no longer feel lost and disconnected. I knew all along I needed land, though I could never fully explain why. I needed a place, the right place, MY place to set down roots. Those roots of mine are shallow still, but they’ve already taken hold of this land and begun drawing in Mama Earth’s life giving nourishment. I can grow here. I have so much to learn here.

Every day I dive headlong into books, stories and other people’s words about land, being indigenous, and belonging to place. I am beginning to see how it all comes together, all this work I’m doing to explore ancient wisdom, the rising feminine, medicinal herbs, earth regeneration and creating soul deep, nourishing spaces. I am reading about myth and folklore and the dreamtime. I have ideas about women and displacement, our lost power and our sacred role to protect the earth. My head is full of stories and initiations, rituals, circles and ideas for bringing it all into the world in my own unique way. One day.

 

The current book stack. 

 

4 Comments

  1. Liesl

    I look forward to reading your next post.
    It’s good to read you’re learning to take it even slower to give yourself a chance to heal.
    We are all too busy!

    • Emily

      Aren’t we all! Thanks Liesl, I’m so conscious of my energy at the moment, and protecting it at all costs.

  2. Jo@JoSimplyWill

    This is such a beautiful read Emily. Your new home sounds lovely, and you’ve done much to get a few things growing despite your fatigue. Looking forward to seeing photos of the Nectre next time! xxx

    • Emily

      Ooh I hope so – the installation has been delayed three weeks, so we’re still huddling by the open fire (not actually a bad thing!). Thanks for your encouragement Jo, I have to keep remembering that it’s a labour of love, not a race.

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