My first blog on this ‘round Australia journey comes to you from the banks of a river a few days drive along the Gibb River Road in the WA Kimberley. Our campsite neighbours are a flock of corellas and a few curious cattle. We‘ve been travelling for two weeks now, just 14 days into a 14 week sabbatical around Australia. Hubby is coaxing Elodie to finish her buttered broccoli, and I’m perched in the top bunk of our camper trailer with a glass of red wine and my laptop to write.
I’m taking this moment to express my gratitude at the current state of my life – I feel very rich right now, with life experiences found in my own backyard, 4 wheels to get us to the next adventure, and a 3 year old without an off-switch (hmm).
Why are we travelling around Australia? Well, for one it’s our honeymoon, having been married in November of last year. But my baby business was too new, for us to leap off into the unknown immediately after our wedding, so we waited to the following winter for our departure (Darwin in July? Yes please!). Secondly, we’d always talked about travelling Australia together before Elodie surprised our life – we had wanted to do it well before we retired, when we could still dig a 4WD out of a sandbank, or scale a ravine to see a waterfall. Also Elodie was now of an age where she could enjoy the adventures, and old enough to not need being carried (as much!)
This trip has been in Planning Stage for a little under 3 months, but in our minds for the last year. As the departure dates rolled nearer however, it became glaringly apparent that this was so much more than a honeymoon for me. It was about to become my Sabbatical from Busy. My journey of healing from a host of categorised “conditions” that I’d come to live with over my life but have flared in recent times, especially in the last 12 months since opening my business. Conditions that were brought about by equal measures of genetics, upbringing, lifestyle, and self-critical expectations.
I make no secret of the love I have for what I do. Shauna Niequist says, when you love what you do so much, it’s hard to separate work from purpose and yourself from work, because when you work, you are on-purpose. This means I rarely delegate, I carry all burdens, I manage all facets of the business, and I self-teach myself if I don’t know something so I can continue to keep my finger on the pulse. This, in part, is my anxiety. This is also in part, why the business has been SO successful in just one year. So it’s a double edged blade – that I am the “passion and purpose” behind what we do so well, but I’m SO “passion and purpose” that I’m hardly the person I remember.
Busyness is an illness of the spirit
~ Eugene Peterson
Over the last few weeks of transition, moving myself out of Vital Beat daily operations (teaching and studio management roles) to a more directorial role, I’ve had a lot of guidance to explore deeper parts of my Self, that had been uncovered through my self-inquiry into this whole mental illness shenanigan. Where does this directive come from? I don’t know, but I do know it’s a deeper version of my Self than who I’ve previously allowed myself to converse with. I suddenly find myself seeking, but not knowing what for, asking questions of something beyond me, and exploring spirit and soul in the vast space that’s being created across the hot red dusty Australian north.
You wander from room to room
Hunting for the diamond necklace
That is already around your neck.
I really struggle with religion as an institution. I struggle with its exclusive concepts and rules and frameworks and its Us and Themness that permeates through its historical teachings. Nor was I raised in a religious home or a religious school, and so I don't feel any particular connection to a God
But here I am on spiritual sabbatical, regardless. I think in we all need something to believe in, and I suppose I’ve always believed in something greater than us, either conspiring for, or against us, and of course, karma. This “something” looks much more like a universe than a God. But to have an ongoing relationship and dialogue with that something? Nope. Have you seen how full my diary is? Don’t you know I have a child to raise and a business to run? Aint nobody got time fo' that!
Marianne Williamson says that ‘most of the people in this world are spiritually homeless’, and I’m inclined to agree. We don’t have a sense of where we fit or where we belong because we can’t see that we are a piece of the puzzle and the whole puzzle, at the same time. We are in and of and with, with no separateness.
So yeah before I left home, I maxed out my hippy-vibe and sourced some grounding crystals, and got a muladhara (base) chakra tattoo on my ankle. I bought an archangel oracle deck, stocked up with essential oils, incense and sage, and started to gorge on books. I honestly don't know where to start, so Im starting with everything but I think thats ok. A yoga teacher once said to me, 'Read, learn, absorb all you can and then take what resonates with you, and leave the rest'. Unintentionally the books seemed to centre around similar themes of presence, authenticity, vulnerability, spirituality, connection, and yes, even God – some of the very themes I’ve struggled with most of my life. Because there's been is no space for vulnerability when I'm pursuing perfection. There’s no space for presence and connection when my natural state is anxious. There’s no space for authenticity when I want the people I encounter to love what I have to offer the world, and my worth rests on that acceptance.
I'm tired of hustling.
So here I am, on a hot June night in northern Australia with as much wide open space as I could possibly want. Two weeks into my Sabbatical from Busy, driving down the dusty corrugated tracks to a slower life. Learning about how to bring spirituality into my life, what that might look and feel like to a Type A woman, and spending a lot of time with myself and my family. I’m forcibly removed from my business baby to allow her to grow independent and blossom, and I’m learning to get comfortable with the quiet of the days, the whir of my mind and the gradual slowing of an anxious and worn out heart.