As I write this it’s my birthday tomorrow. I’ve taken a couple of days off work to potter about and relax. I’m sitting in my study upstairs, the sun streaming through the window. The fire is warming the house below. The dogs are happily chomping on bones, tired from a weekend of good runs in the forest. The boy has just sent me a photo of our boat, which finally made it to Tasmania today. Two and a half years after we did. It’s been a mission getting it here. But we are now ready to dust off the fishing rods and clean the BBQ ready for summer. It’s amazing how life can change in a year.
A year ago on my birthday we moved into our third rental in 18 months. Before that we had endured 12 months living in the most soul-destroying house. It was cold, damp and mouldy. It had a negative air to it that even opening the windows wouldn’t release. The new rental was better but still made us miserable.
Renting meant we couldn’t build our dogs the kennels they needed. They had spent 18 months sleeping on the back of the ute. In this new place I could only walk them for two minutes before we hit the highway and had to turn back. There was nowhere for them to run, unless we drove for an hour.
I was working 32 hours a week and trying to run an online business in my spare time. I was overwhelmed. I couldn’t relax. My mind was always running 100 miles ahead of me. I woke up anxious and went to bed stressed.
My fiancé was working up to seven days a week for a company that made his life miserable. He was slaving his arse off and we felt like we were getting nowhere. He woke up grumpy and went to bed angry.
Neither of us were being our best selves. We argued. We made each other cry. We knew something needed to change but nothing we tried worked.
Thankfully the house in Queensland sold. We hoped it would but nothing was certain. Where we lived houses stayed on the market for years. It was a unique kind of person that wanted to live in Eungella. For 18 months we questioned whether we had done the right thing. Moving to Tasmania seemed the answer at the time. But we now questioned our decision each day. And without the money to return we felt stuck. If the house hadn’t sold we would still feel this way.
But it wasn’t the selling of our home that changed things this year. Or the buying of the Purple House. It was that we changed. We had too. We had no choice. Our life was killing both of us and our relationship.
We knew we had to slow down. We knew we needed to simplify our life. And we knew we needed to start enjoying the little things again. So we did.
I'm in the middle of reading ‘Wild’ by Cheryl Strayed. At the beginning of her memoir she talks about the feeling of needing to change as well. The lines that stood out to me are these:
“I needed to change … Not into a different person, but back to the person I used to be - strong and responsible, clear-eyed and driven, ethical and good”.
We knew we both needed to change. So we did. With those changes came a life that feels like one we want to be living. Not one that we are constantly striving for, but failing to achieve.
This year has not been without it’s problems. But it’s been a hell of a lot better than the past two.
And I can say with certainty that for the first time I feel like I’m where I should be as another birthday rolls around.