Last December I quit my job and moved across the world for love. More on that in another post. I had been a regional news reporter for two and a half years, working the beat across the New England and North West while based in the city of Tamworth. I loved my job; the diversity, the adrenaline, the challenges and the success. I loved getting up early and hitting the road with a cameraman, the sun rising over distant blue mountains, spilling the day like ink over the plains. I loved bashing around the bush chewing the fat with ordinary, extraordinary people, telling their stories of tragedy and triumph whilst eking out an existence in a landscape that can be so harsh; the heat, the dry, the bush fires and floods. I covered everything; listening to the horrifying details of murder cases, my heart breaking for the families left behind. The tenacity and pure grit shown by farmers across four seasons as they battled to grow their crops, feed their cattle and shear their sheep. The political cyclones that would engulf our bureau during election time and scandal - our local electorate member a former deputy prime minister.
The 'colour' stories which I loved the most; real people conceiving and then generating real change locally, entrepreneurship and innovation at its best. The beating heart that is closeness and community in the country, no matter how small and dusty the town. Going live in front of a car accident or a house fire, heart hammering as you are counted down to your face and words being projected as they're said to thousands of viewers. Sure, it could be tough trying to do a piece to camera with sticky flies line-dancing in your makeup, 10 months of the year. The daily battle to source content and talent, the relentless deadlines and shock of agitation when things don't go to plan or you miss the story. And it's no surprise just how under resourced country media channels can be. But the camaraderie in the team, the passion we witnessed, the stories we could tell, the great big barrel of sky from under which we worked; I loved it. Leaving the job was tough, but the juice has been worth the squeeze.
But it hasn't been a bed of roses and I realised just how much my career was woven into my sense of identity. This is no surprise to most - anyone who has retired, who has left their job to raise a family, or changed their professional course due to illness, will know each pothole of this road. I have since completed my yoga teacher training, and am venturing down a new path of learning and forging. However it has been a lesson in humility when I realised how much my sense of purpose was integrally linked to what I did 9-5. When feeling adrift and lacking, I had to look at why. And I think I've narrowed it down to a few basics.
Yes I loved telling the stories of others, and genuinely marvelled at what they were achieving. I strived to do their journeys justice, by using my voice in an authentic, truthful and creative way. But I also enjoyed being seen - I liked the acknowledgment of my presence and drew validation from others seeing me as successful. Maybe it comes from my inner child, the 'good girl' - seeking gold stars for my efforts.
THE GLORIFICATION OF BUSY
I come from a family back ground of workers. My mum and dad are extremely hard working, passionate people who are good at what they do and volunteer their time outside their full time jobs to a thousand different extra curricular activities. At home if you were sitting down you were given a job, and I think that's a good thing. We were always outside riding horses and helping with gardening and cleaning the house, and family bonding consisted of 'stick picking' - clearing fallen branches and sticks in a big paddock filled with gum trees. (Which with every puff of wind, would throw their branches down like a toddler tantruming from her high chair.) But this ingrained in me the idea that 'not doing' was akin to laziness. That not working really hard, was not working. That not having a purpose or a plan, was not successful. I think proactivity is vital to a well lived life and I love ticking through a good list. But I am slowly redefining my idea of success as happiness, rather than finding happiness in my success.
THE DISTRACTION OF A FULL WORKLOAD
When your days are full and you're fitting as much into your life as possible, there isn't a lot of time to think. I used to worry immensely about not getting enough done in my day. I wanted to work out and do a fantastic job at work, to spend time with family, socialise, eat well, look good, get enough sleep. And I only had myself and two dachshunds to worry about! I couldn't fathom the extra pressure of young (or old) children as well. When you are frantically getting through your day, you don't often put time aside for reflection, meditation and personal development. Now that my days have freed I have time to ponder my purpose, ask what are my deepest aspirations, really think about what I love. And those sort of rumination can be frightening, especially when you don't have the answers. Of course you've got to get on with things or you'll spend your life standing still looking in the mirror. But it doesn't hurt to have a little down time every now and then, to evaluate and assess, then change track if you've gotta.
Right now I'm filling my days with small but splendid things. I'm writing and reading, painting walls in a nearly finished house and going for walks, admiring the mottled browns and furred coppers of the woods nearby as they stretch their limbs in the crisp spring dusks. I'm practising and teaching yoga, sitting near fires, drinking a lot of tea and holding dinner parties and wondering. I'm helping to choose kitchens and sinks and tiles for the project Adam's building and learning about things that interest me (Kefir and kimchi anyone? Do it for your gut!) and looking at who I am, without my job.
Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning — Gloria Steinem