The reason I haven't been writing is because life is changing so rapidly!
When I went to Africa, I knew life was going to change. It was the first time in 10 years that wasn't excited about coming back to New Zealand. I just knew I was never going to "fit" back into my old life and that feeling scared me.
I've lived in this house at 11 Grenada Street for 7 years. It's the longest I've ever lived anywhere - apart from the house I grew up in on Morrie Court in Hanmer. I love this house. I love the location of it. I love the layout. I love the way it catches the sun. I love the two fireplaces. I love the garden. I love the abundance of oranges which give me fresh squeezed orange juice for free. I love my studio space. I love that I can walk everywhere from here. I love that my cats have a nice big garden to roam in. I've loved the freedom this house has given me. I love that I know I can survive here.
I will miss it. This house has been good to me.
But it was never mine to keep. I've only rented it. I'm not in the position to buy and that's been fine with me. I have never had the desire to own. I considered it once or twice, but with my life the way it is, owning something doesn't make much sense.
So when I arrived back from Africa and saw that the wind had blown down all of my business signs - ALL of them - I thought, "Hmmm that's a sign." It didn't feel like home anymore. It was just a building full of stuff I've bought. We need houses to store our stuff.
The very next day, my landlady came by to do some gardening. She never does my gardening. In fact, my gardening is probably the one thing about this property I dislike the most. It's a big garden and I spend so much time weeding. When it is finished, the garden is beautiful but it's a big job to keep tidy. I've threatened to move for this reason alone.
When she finished, she told me she was putting the house on the market. It was going up on auction in a month.
I took a deep breath. It confirmed what I already knew, it was all happening so fast! I believe things happen for a reason and sometimes when you can't make a decision, the universe conspires to make that decision for you.
I was still in my Africa mind set - Hakuna Matata. She was amazed how well I took it.
There were so many possibilities. The house might not sell. The housing market is a bit slow. I thought about whether I should look into buying it. My gut said no, it's time to move on. There are a lot of memories in this house which are holding me back from moving forward. It's time to let go.
Maybe another investor would buy it and want me to stay. I'd already decided I was leaving. People said it wouldn't sell by Christmas... but I KNEW it was going. I knew it the day those signs blew down. I think I knew even before I left for Africa.
So I've been busy packing and sorting through CRAP I have collected over the years. I brought a lot of my "core" items with me from Canada so it's not an easy task paring down to the minimum. I don't have much furniture but I have a few pieces that I can't part with plus my big box of memories.
I have a lot of stuff for one person and I'm a little embarrassed to say I'm attached to it. It makes me feel sick. Sick that I can't let it go and sick because I know that it holds me back from being totally free. But it has a purpose. Some people have family. I have my memories... and that means just as much.
My house needed a good clear out. When you live in a three bedroom house by yourself, it's easy to spread out. Every closet was full of stuff I was saving. I had a closet full of "gifts" for other people that had never been given away. Most of those gifts were things given to me that I never needed or spontaneous purchases, often on sale. I'm so against unnecessary gift giving for this reason alone.
A car load of stuff went to my friend Jan who was collecting junk to sell for her charity Kitty Cat Fixers to raise funds to help de-sex animals in the community. A very worthy cause. Another trailer load of stuff was donated to Women's Refuge - a place where women and children go when they have left a violent abusive partner - an experience I've known all too well.
It felt really good giving to these charities, especially at this time of the year. There are more kittens born in the warmer months and people need to be educated on the importance of preventing more unwanted pets. There is more incidence of domestic violence at Christmas time than any other time of the year. The stresses of Christmas often bring out the worst in people. These are two issues I am passionate about.
All the while I'm clearing out, purging. The house SOLD at auction. There was one bidder. I was told I had 6 weeks to move. Well at least I knew. Now I could really focus on the task at hand. I would be starting 2014 with a completely fresh start. Exciting and scary.
Suddenly I began to notice all the negatives about this place. The street is getting busier and noisier. My neighbour's dog barks all day long and their kids scream and they smoke a lot of pot. The Bayfair roundabout is getting busier which means the traffic is getting worse coming home. The whole place needs a paint job. I have an ant problem. I have seen more white tail spiders than ever before. My favourite mandarin tree died. The weeds seem to grow faster than ever. My closets are too small. I wish I had a bathtub. My clinic is really just a room in the garage and it has damp issues. It gets really cold in the winter. My power bills have been ridiculously high.
I'm trying to focus on that and believe that something better is out there waiting for me.
As I pack up my "stuff" I realize that this is just a building. The soul was what I put into it. It's my stuff that makes it feel like home. The familiar items that give me comfort. This is part of attachment that I know I still need to work on. My "stuff" makes me happy. But I don't NEED stuff to BE happy. That's the difference.
When one door closes, another opens. You have to let go of the old in order to make room for the new. Life isn't about holding on, it's about being free. BUT you still must be sensible. And that's what I'm trying to be. Rather than just recklessly giving all my worldly possessions away, I'm trying to be responsible. I know I'd regret getting rid of that painting I bought from an Israeli art student who was selling his stuff door to door when I lived in Stratford. Maybe that means I'm still attached but that's okay.
I've accepted an offer to live in the Papamoa Hills on an estate called Ridge Country Retreat. It was purchased fairly recently by a guy who is wanting to create a full time Well-Being Retreat Centre. I ran a weekend detox retreat up there with my colleagues Rachel and Alexa a few weeks ago. It was a huge success and I must have left a lasting impression to be asked to live up there full time. It's only 20 minutes up the road from where I am so not a huge move. The views are stunning and it comes with lots of perks.
It sounds like an ideal situation and it really could be the paradise I'm looking for. I'm nervous about giving up my independence. I will have to be careful about finding balance and not letting work take over.
I have wonderful friends who have offered to store my boxes of stuff until I'm more settled. That alone gives me anxiety because I don't know how long that will be. I'm already planning my next trip back to Africa in July 2014. I may not need my stuff for a while. My comforts make me so uncomfortable!
I used to love change. I loved the thrill of discovering new territory. I am a pioneer after all. I just have to remember what it feels like.
“Life is short, break the rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably, and never regret anything that made you smile. Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
― Mark Twain
But I'm human too, it is quite normal feeling sad about leaving a home that I found such happiness and safety in. I have to trust that it's time to move on so I can grow and expand my happiness. My gut is always right - there are bigger and better things on the horizon.
Ridge Country Retreat - here I come.