I haven’t been writing much lately. I now almost subconsciously hit the mark as done button on my “Post Blog” reminder that flashes up on my home screen every Monday evening, trying my best to ignore the pang of guilt. Although I still haven’t had the heart to delete it all together.
For those that don’t know I have spent my 29th year on this sphere working for my parents on a sheep and beef farm in the middle of nowhere, Eketahuna, NZ. You couldn’t get much different to Chamonix, France, the last place I spent a complete rotation of the sun.
Up until I returned home to the farm in September, 2019 was not a five star year of my life. I spent a large portion of it in the midst of a small to medium, early to middle life crisis. I had a bit of a falling out with myself. I felt rather lost and quite exhausted. I crash landed back home, at the farm, because something inside my muddled brain told me that’s where I needed to be. I needed it to recover. I needed it to grow.
In my head, the farm was only meant to be a temporary pit stop. I was going to get a job. I was going to move to the city, or Norway, or even Canada. But over the course of a year, with much enthusiasm from my father, I stayed and I stayed and somehow I ended up with three dogs and a horse.
Initially, I was scared to commit to staying on the farm. The perils of being involved with business and family seemed obvious. I also didn’t trust myself. “What if it was just another thing for me to fall in and out of love with???” That I would become interested, I would learn, I would rise, and I would fall. Again. Again. Again. I was afraid of the continual rollercoaster that I call my life.
However, after I returned from a ski trip to Canada, I had enough of limbo “Why don’t you just commit to something?” I berated myself. A global pandemic and level 4 lockdown helped with my commitment-phobia – nowhere else to go, nothing else to do so might as well work. work. work. I worked every day, with out pay, for 33 days straight during level 4.
Yet, I remember feeling so fortunate that my life choices had somehow lead me to the farm for lockdown. I couldn’t imagine being stuck in somewhere like Chamonix, trapped in a tiny apartment with nothing to do and nowhere to go. I counted each and every one of my lucky stars. At home on the farm, with the animals I found a visceral kind of joy I had almost forgotten. In some ways it was like being a kid again. I enjoyed spending time quality time with my Dad, seeking his approval, just like I always used to.
I had jumped back on the rollercoaster, and she was pointed skyward. I convinced myself the farm would fill the void of the mountains. I was outside all day. I could stay fit. I wouldn’t need to train. I could just skype my friends and go on trips every now and again. It was the perfect solution. I had made up my mind.
Except it wasn’t and I hadn’t. A couple of weeks ago, on one of the only bluebird powder days gifted to the north island this winter I was busy bawling my eyes out in the northern crossing car park, staring at the big cloud over Ngauruhoe that was really ruining my day, while Ruapehu basked in inaccessible sunshine.
“It’s just skiing” I tried to mumble to myself through sobs “it doesn’t matter”. But it did matter, it mattered to me. It mattered that with a 3 hour plus drive to Ruapehu and growing expectation to be on the farm, I wasn’t able to be in the places I wanted to be.
It mattered I had repeatedly told my self “it didn’t matter” and chosen to serve the farm and my family over my own priorities. It mattered that I could see my fitness and skills slipping away. It mattered that 99% my friends are outdoors people, and 90% lived in a different island. It mattered that I get bored of routine and security. It mattered that I need challenge and change.
I thought “retraining” my brain was the answer. I thought I could just decide that mountains were not the priority. I thought that would stop me ever being as low as I was in 2019. I thought I could make my family happy. I thought I could lead a much quieter life. Most likely, I could and it would, but it would also leave me deeply unfulfilled.
What I have realized is that I really need to “retrain” my brain not to go at the mountains, at life, 120% all-day every-day. To not throw myself in the deep-end 365 days of the year and expect my central nervous system to cope. To have patience. To take smaller steps towards bigger goals. To enjoy “the process” rather than just “the achievement”. To rest and relax. To enjoy being in the places I love with the people I love but not to push myself to breaking point, always.
The rollercoaster had crested the brow. I had changed mind, again. However, the low on this ride did not nearly dip as far as 2019. I was prepared for the fall, and excited about the next rise knowing it would lead me closer to where I felt like I wanted to be again, with my community in the mountains.
But it was not a decision made without compromise. I know I will miss my animals, the joy they bring me, and much of the low on this irregular sign wave that I call my life has been anxiety around the opinion of others, namely my family. “She’s doing it, again” I can imagine their exasperated thoughts.
It’s very hard to convince others you know what your doing, when you probably don’t but you are totally okay with that. That you have learnt from your past mistakes but there are still more mistakes you want to make. That this time will be different but that doesn’t mean the rollercoaster won’t keep rising and falling. That I won’t change my mind, again.
I have accepted that my life will not be linear. I just hope others can too. I’ll take my risks and chances to do the things I love, with the people I love, in the places I love. I don’t have to have a life people write stories about but I am going to have a life I write stories about.
“I wanted movement and not a calm course of existence. I wanted excitement and danger and the chance to sacrifice myself for my love. I felt in myself a superabundance of energy which found no outlet in our quiet life”Family Happiness, L Tolstoy