So much has changed since this photo was taken…
This photo was taken about 6 years ago – when all my muchness and HAT’ness was still lying dormant. I don’t look back on this photo and feel ashamed of the person pictured there.
On the contrary, I am proud of her. Because when this photo was taken… I was smack in the middle of my season of QUESTIONING.
I was asking myself the tough, uncomfortable, painful, difficult questions, like:
- “Is this it? Is this all there is to life? Is this what I can look forward to for the rest of my days? The same repeated pattern of unfulfilling work, loads of stress and many hours spent flipping through TV channels and binge-eating?”
- “Is it possible to completely re-think and re-design my life?”
- “How about Nick? Is he on the same page as me? Is he as dissatisfied as I am?”
- “Why am I even here? Why am I doing this work? Why are we living in this city? Why are we stuck in this routine? Was this our plan? Did we want this? And if we didn’t want this – how did we end up here?”
- “Who am I… really? And what do I actually want to do with my life?”
- “What are the things that are really important to me? What matters most?”
I pondered on those types of questions for months. Years, actually. And I still ponder on those deep questions. Nick does too. And we use our responses (to the questions) as a compass – so that we’re able to chart a deliberate course of action – instead of just “drifting” and “surviving” and “getting-by” and “making-do” as we we did before.
Yes, we’re back in Joburg for a season.
And – if you know us, you’ll know how much we prefer either being on the road – or living by the sea.
The (HUGE!) difference between our “old” life – and our “NOW” life is this:
There’s a reason why we’re in Joburg for this season. We didn’t just kinda drift aimlessly back here because it’s the most familiar and comfortable place. We came back with a very (very!) deliberate plan. It looks like this:
- Nick has 2 Joburg-based films (he’s just finished 1). Our Joburg home is a lovely base from which to work and get our shit together. Nick works from his studio (attached to the main house) – and I work in my studio (inside the house).
- Career-wise, Nick has been keen (for a while) to move from editing films to directing films. One of our big broadcasters has just given him the opportunity to do this by funding our short-film (written by me and directed by Nick). The company in question will be watching our short-film to gauge whether Nick has the directing chops to pull off big-budget features. They already trust him as an editor and post-production expert… but this short-film is our Big Opportunity to prove what Nick can direct as well as edit. If we get this short-film right – it could make a huge difference to our Big Dream Goals. (We’re shooting the short in April – so things will be getting a bit chaotic for a while!)
- As for me – I’m busy working on my book launch (which has been put off for way too long due to my perfectionism issues). At the moment – I have a sort-of launch date: 9th April – but that will only be confirmed once our short-film shoot dates are confirmed.
- I’m also still working on developing the back-end of my website – with the goal that I can streamline a whole bunch of things and outsource the rest (long story). And someone from Holland is interested in funding my “Hat” film. And I have a book distributor. And I’m working on the treasure hunt idea.
Joburg – therefore – is a convenient place for us to be for this season while Nick and I both push our careers forward (in a very deliberate, purposeful way)…
And I keep reiterating that word “deliberate”… because I can’t begin to even describe to you guys – how LONG it took for me to truly grasp the meaning of that word. Baby steps… deliberate baby-steps – in the right direction… towards something – some goal, some plan, some dream (regardless of how far away or far-fetched that dream may seem)…. is SO much better than all the endless, purposeless drifting we both did… when there were no dreams and no goals (other than to “lose weight” or “go-on-holiday-to-the-seaside-in-December”).
We decided a couple of years ago – when we did our first Big-Fat-Purge and then set off on our 6 Week Road Trip (followed by a whole bunch of other stuff)… that we didn’t want our Joburg house to be an anchor or a burden.
When we road-tripped the States (followed by 7 months in Cape Town) – we rented out the house for a full year to the geeks of Dee-Twenty. That was a great decision. It allowed us the freedom to travel and live semi-nomadically – whilst still keeping our most important belongings stored in the cottage. It also meant that – financially – we didn’t need to worry about the Joburg property, because it paid for itself.
After travelling – and also living semi-nomadically… we’ve realised a couple of things about our Joburg home:
- The space itself is ideal for our family. It’s open plan with a large, established garden and it’s large enough that – as a family – we can all choose to be together (kitchen, lounge, movie-room or garden) – or – we can all spend uninterrupted private-time in our own spaces (bedrooms & studios). After road-tripping and living in a collection of tiny spaces for a season (including this one) – I don’t take our SPACE for granted!
- The Joburg home is nice to have as a base (or – at least – for this season). Regardless of where we travel – Joburg is home to family and dear friends – so it’s nice to be able to have a base here.
- But – we also don’t want the home to anchor us to Joburg! So we’ve created the following (deliberate) solutions:
- we deliberately don’t keep pets (as much as I would love to have a cat!)
- we’re making the house Air B’nB friendly so when we’re out of Jozi for a couple of months… it doesn’t become a financial burden (we also have friends who will be managing the Air B’nB side of things in return for a percentage of the profit). The house isn’t an expensive house to keep (we purchased it 10 years ago on a fixed interest rate – and it’s not too far away from being paid off completely). Even if Air B’nB folk rented the house for only a week a month – we’d have made enough money for the house to pay for it’s own keep.
- we’re going to use our very open-plan space as a Hat-Hub for occasional events (the book launch will be the first!)
- As for long-term plans, we’ve decided to keep the Joburg home for now. Not sell it. Not rent it out to long-term tenants. But we’re also very open to change. If either one of our careers required us to move – long-term – to another city or country, we’d consider letting go of the Joburg house. But… for now, at least… it’s home.
Our seasons in Joburg look very different to our seasons road-tripping, world-schooling or semi-nomadic living. For the kids, Joburg means a season of a bit more structure and routine (and less excitement and adventure) than when we’re exploring new places together as a family.
Still – that’s a good thing. Life has it’s seasons. It’s not ALL about fun, exploration and adventure. There are also seasons of structure, routine and building foundations for what comes next.
I’m not “anti” structure OR routine. If I’m anti anything, it’s general purposelessness… nothingness… plodding along obediently with NO idea as to WHY we do-what-we-do or we live-how-we-live or believe-what-we-believe (and “because it’s always been done that way” is NOT a valid reason!)
I need to know the why’s now. The why’s have to make sense before I’m prepared to participate in any kind of “norm” or “done-thing”.
While in Joburg, Morgan and Joah live like this:
- From Monday – Thursday, they attend Explorer World – which is a local Learning & Resource Centre for families who practice alternative education. There’s an eclectic mish-mash of kids at Explorer World; conservative homeschoolers, unschoolers, tutored kids – and children from local private and public schools attend in the afternoons as well. At Explorer World, our kids participate in various clubs, sports, learning-play (and activities too numerous to mention here). Morgan has signed up for bridging courses in English, Maths and Science so that if she wants to take part in the Cambridge school curriculum (at a later stage) she’ll be able to transition seamlessly.
- Joah does Lego Robotics classes on Tuesdays (kinda like junior engineering courses using Lego)
- Morgan attends rhythmic gymnastics lessons on Mondays and Wednesdays.
- And – of course – they do all the usual stuff (that one doesn’t really get to do while on the road): birthday parties, outings and sleepovers with friends, visiting grandparents, growing a veggie garden, etc, etc…
Our kids (and for this – I am so grateful) are both very flexible and adaptable. When life changes course, when plans change – they easily adapt to the flow of our lives and are just as comfortable sharing a tiny hotel room with their family… in a foreign country – as they are enjoying the space and privacy of their own bedrooms, here in Joburg.
And – to wrap up this too-long post…
As a family – we experience life in seasons now. Joburg Season is different to Cape Town season… which is different to International Adventures… which is different to Live-in-a-little-Karoo-town-while-Dad-makes-a-movie season.
We see “stability” differently too. Our stability (and our children’s stability) come from our relationship as a family. We are a very stable and very loving family – and the four of us enjoy being together. More than anything, in fact.
SO MUCH has changed in the past 7 years… I can barely recognise our life – and I can barely recognise ourselves.
I guess this post – if anything – is about deliberate baby-steps towards change. Lots and lots of teeny, tiny little steps in the right direction. Charting a deliberate course… and setting sail towards a deliberate goal or destination…
But just not drifting aimlessly…
Been there. Done that. Got the T-shirt, the keychain and the poorly-printed-mug. Not going back. Not.
Hugs to all…
PS: ‘scuse the long, rambling post. I told myself it would be a “quick update” of life in general – and then it morphed in to this.
PPS: my inner perfectionist is screaming abuse at me and telling me to “fix” this post. I’m going to hit “publish” instead… (tee-hee!)