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Three weeks and one day. The time we have left here in New Zealand. Time. It’s ticking away before my eyes.

Scrolling through our ‘To Do’ list just now, it’s hard not to feel overcome. Not just with the enormity of all that we have to get done in the next three weeks and one day, but also for that which we have already crossed off the list. When the list was made, it felt like we had all the time in the world. But now time has caught up with us, and there’s not much of it left.

If you’ve been following this fitful blog of mine, you will know that we started planning for this move over 12 months ago. After a few false starts, and much planning and replanning, we finally find ourselves here at the pointy end. It’s really happening. We are finally moving to Australia.

Amidst all the practicalities of moving countries with two small children, there has been little time for sentimentality. Until tonight. Laying in the bath this evening I took some precious moments to think about the past 6 years of our lives here in Wellington. About this house of ours, and how she has played host to some of the most joyous and also the most heartbreaking moments of our lives. I have spent endless hours lying on her living room floor, marvelling at my babies as they grew and developed into the wondrous little individuals they are today. There were the days and months of grief stricken depression after the loss of Stella. There was an indescribable comfort in the simple act of sitting on the heated tiles of the kitchen floor during those dark moments. On other days, her awe-inspiring mountainous views were a tonic for my heartbroken soul. Then there were the much cherished visits from family and friends from afar. The mundane and extraordinary, this house has been a gracious host and I will miss her.

Snow on the hills and bugs in the air. It must be winter.IMG_20150418_214632

But for now, I still have three weeks and one day. We still have a lot to do before we leave, but I am determined to stay present and not lose myself to the chaos. I want to enjoy every last minute I have here in the comfort of this place that has been our beloved home.

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Back at it

Operation Relocation is back in full-swing. After our house failed to sell earlier this year, we have been enjoying something of a house-selling hiatus. I use the term ‘enjoying’ very loosely here. You see, it’s been the depths of winter here in Wellington, and we have spent most of the past 2 months hosting a veritable smorgasbord of winter bugs. “Cough, hack, sneeze” will long be remembered as the soundtrack to our last ever winter in the Windy City.

Snow on the hills and bugs in the air. It must be winter.

Snow on the hills and bugs in the air. It must be winter.

I talked a while ago about Plan B. In this plan we were going to put the house on the market in the deep, dark, depths of winter. A time when the property market is so incredibly slow. Oh, AND we were going to do it without an estate agent (we’ve never even sold a house by ourselves before). Crazy!? Yeah, probably. I think we were feeling a bit desperate at the time. Thankfully, common sense prevailed (actually I think that the winter bugs came to visit around the same time, and so we just couldn’t be bothered with it all).

So, here we are in Wellington, still. Waiting, waiting….

I’ve been keeping a watch on the property market during our hiatus, and according to my highly untrained eye, I think soon could be a good time to get going again. So, yesterday I met with a new estate agent. He had a look at the house. We talked a bit about the market. I started to let myself think about Brisbane again, and how it might be to actually live there.

I have to be honest here. The enthusiasm and zeal that accompanied our initial plans to move back to Australia has waned somewhat. The disappointment of having our house not sell when we initially had it on the market, followed by an unplanned Wellington winter has sapped a whole lot of energy. I have even entertained thoughts of throwing in the towel, and just staying here in Wellington, for good. It would certainly be the easy option. Mr Maru is horrified by the idea. It’s also not what we want for our family. So, back at it we go.

Plan B

After a few months of floating in space wondering how the hell we were ever going to get back to Australia, we now have a plan. Another plan. I guess you could call this Plan B. It is not my usual style to have a plan go awry, but that is certainly what has happened so far this year. When we sat down at the end of 2013, we agreed a plan of action that would have us selling our Wellington house and moving back to the Lucky Country by May this year. At the latest. It’s now June. That plan obviously fell through.

Last week, I started making another plan. A different plan. In this plan, I was going to renew my New Zealand Occupational Therapy Practicing Certificate. I have been on maternity leave for a while now, and I am itching to get my business up and running again. I work with children who have developmental problems, and I absolutely love it. I have been treating a friends’ child over the past few weeks, just as a favour. What a revelation this has been for me. It has reminded me just how much I adore being an Occupational Therapist. The difference we can make to a child’s life is nothing short of profound, especially when you have a child and a set of parents who are totally engaged. This taste of my old professional life as made me hungrier to get back into it. I have so many ideas for developing my business, and I’m impatient!

So, I figured since we were still in New Zealand with no real plans of getting out of here that I should just get on and get started with my business ideas here in Wellington. I got out my note pad, and started making a list. I was getting very excited and the ideas were flowing. I have heaps of contacts here in Wellington, and I knew that I would have clients knocking at my door in no time. Hoorah! A plan! This was going to be great!

This past weekend I had a dream. In this dream I was living in Brisbane with my family. It was stinking hot and we were renovating a house. It was a chaotic dream and certainly devoid of any glamour or romance. But we were there, on the other side of the Tasman, getting on with the life we want to be living. When I woke up from this dream I was so totally pissed off. How damn annoying to still be here in Wellington, when the plan was to be in Brisbane by now. It put me in such a bad mood and I just couldn’t shake it off.

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So then I hatched a different plan. Plan B. The plan I referred to at the beginning of this blog. Starting my business up again here in Wellington is a bad idea. Sure, it would be great to sink my teeth into my therapy work here in Wellington, but it would be a distraction. I would be taking my eye off the ball. I need to focus on the Grand Plan, which means selling the house and getting to Australia.

So in the newly revised Plan B, we will spend June getting the house back up to show home status, and by the beginning of July we will have it back on the market. We have decided not to use an agent this time around which means with the money we save we can be more flexible with price. This will mean doing all the sales work ourselves, but it can’t be that hard, right!?

Come hell or high water we will be in Brisbane by the Spring!

Have you ever sold your house without an agent? Any tips welcomed!

The waiting place…

It’s May. Almost June. Winter is looming large. Those dreaded Wellington winds are blowing and the damn southerly is biting hard. The summer-time love affair I was enjoying with this city has soured. The house is off the market for the time being, and our move to Australia is feeling ever distant. The property market is still pretty dismal for sellers, so we are treading water, waiting for a change.

This weekend, my son and I were reading “Oh, the places you’ll go” by Dr. Seuss. In the story, he describes a most useless place, the waiting place, where people are just hanging about waiting for planes or trains or for their hair to grow. It was the most perfect description of our current state of idleness. Waiting, waiting, waiting. Waiting for the market to change; waiting for the winds to stop; waiting for the sun to shine; waiting for the house to sell… Oh, what a dismal old place this waiting place is!

20140527_110951I guess we all pass through the waiting place at different times in our lives. I have certainly been here before. It’s a very frustrating place to be, but I have also found that it’s a terrific incubator for ideas and determination. By the time our house sells, I will be so hungry to get to Australia. We’ll land in Brisbane and I will hit the ground running. After all this waiting around, I will be brimming with such drive and ambition that nothing will stop me!

For now though, I just need to tolerate these dormant moments, and keep reminding myself that this is just a temporary state. There’s nothing like a bit of Dr. Seuss philosophy to provide a little clarity.

New Merino and a Bolting Horse

A friend informed me the other day that 2014 is the Year of the Horse. Now, I don’t know much about the Chinese zodiac, but I do know that there has been more than just a touch of the bolting equine about the past few months in our household. At the risk of sounding prosaic, where the hell has this year gone!?

ImageWe find ourselves now in April (well, almost), and our house that was meant to sell in February is still on the market. It’s simple case of supply versus demand. The housing market is over-supplied and the punters are thin on the ground. We are now faced with a catalogue of decisions about the rest of the year. Do we take the house off the market for a while, or do we rent the house out and hightail it back to Australia? If we do stay, then which school should we enrol our son in when he starts in October? If we go then how do we juggle the logistics of selling a house remotely? I feel a bit irritated with having to ponder all of this. The Grand Plan had us selling the house back in February and being all settled back into Aussie life, complaining about all this heat, by now.

I found myself at the shops the other day, perusing merino for the kids. I even made a few purchases. Here in Wellington, this is what you do at this time of year. You invest in new winter woollies in anticipation of the coming winter chills. The fact that I have made these habitual purchases gives some hint as to my state of mind. I keep thinking that in a parallel universe I’m living it up in sunny Brisbane, buying sunscreen in bulk and throwing another shrimp on the barbie.

ImageIn the midst of all this chaos and uncertainty, I am mostly keeping up with my goal of being calm on purpose. There are times when the anxiety of the unknown abducts me and holds me for ransom. I pay the ransom fee (usually about 5 uninterrupted minutes of quality time with a bar of chocolate) and then I just get on with it.

I’m not sure there’s anything that can be done to tame my unruly Horse? I guess I just need to hold on tight and let it take me where it will. If that means we stay here in Wellington, well then at least the kids have new merino.

Has your Year of the Horse jumped the fence and bolted up the road like mine?

A Brutish Virus & Career Angst

The past week has seen the entire Mama Maru household violently knee-capped by a brutish virus. A whole eight days later and we are only just hobbling our way back to some semblance of health. When my husband woke me in the wee small hours with his violent shivering, I knew we were done for. Since then we have been on a carousel of fevers, lethargy, aching bodies, trips to the loo (post haste!!), pounding headaches, a crying babe, a whining pre-schooler and two particularly cranky grown-ups. Good times!

With all these distractions, the sense of calm that I had been nurturing, has completely abandoned me. My worrisome mind has been let out of its cage and is roaming the streets of my brain freely, baring its teeth and terrorising all my happy neurons. My mind has been fizzing with worries about finding a buyer for our house; wondering if we’ll ever get to move back to Australia; whether our son will have to start school here in New Zealand instead of in Australia as we had planned. The list goes on and on…..

Surprisingly, I have also been consumed with worry about my career over this past week. I say surprisingly because I thought that I was very happy to be staying at home with my two children. My youngest is only 7 months old, and I have absolutely no intentions of going back to work before she’s 12 months (or even older). This past week however, when I think about the current state of my career (i.e.: dead in the water), I am overcome with a thick blanket of dank stagnation. I have been very fortunate in my career, and before we had our children I had enjoyed great success in my professional life. As is often the case for many women, our priorities shift dramatically when we have a family to care for. I have loved this. I adore that these two little beings are the centre of my universe.

So why this sudden nagging feeling?

My eldest is 4 and half years old, and we moved to New Zealand when I was pregnant with him. The idea was that we would nestle down in New Zealand, have our family and then move back to Australia after a couple of years. In my mind, I had calculated a career hiatus of maybe 2 or 3 three years. Have a couple of kids, enjoy being a SAH mummy, get back into it. Sorted. A traumatic miscarriage, then the loss of our baby girl to stillbirth sees that 2 or 3 year hiatus stretched out to 5 or 6 years. That’s a bloody long time to be out of the game! Sure, I have dabbled with working in between this time, but I haven’t really had any strong commitment to my career. In the grip of illness this past week, I have never felt so desperate to reconnect with my old self. The one that was productive, determined, focused, successful and respected. I don’t mean to suggest that I’m not those things now, but I think the old me just had more potency.

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So, now that we’re out of the viral woods, it’s time to put the leash back on the wild beast that is my angst-ridden mind and get my inner calm back on. Today, I am focusing on breathing. When I water my garden, I will practice some mindfulness. Out of the ashes of this dreaded virus and a week of unbridled angst, has come a newly determined me.

 

Having Kittens

As predicted our house didn’t sell at tender. Big sigh….. It’s still on the market so we haven’t given up entirely, but the market conditions in Wellington at the moment are less than ideal for sellers. The good thing is that there is no real urgency for us to sell (except of course, my deep desire to escape Wellington before the looming winter descends). The only deadline we have is Mr 4years’ first day of school, which isn’t until January 2015. Plenty of time. Still, the control freak within is having kittens with the uncertainty of it all. I am a girl who needs a plan. A set of objectives that are clear and concise, with concrete time frames and regular evaluation dates. I’d like to say I’m exaggerating here, but really, I’m not. Without a plan, I’m all at sea. When I’m all at sea, free-form anxiety rules the waves.

ImageTo try and balance my anxieties in all this uncertainty I have practicing a bit of mindfulness. I have been hearing about mindfulness for many years through my job as an Occupational Therapist, but had never really found a use for it in my own life. That was until about a month ago. I was listening to a radio interview with Vidyamala Burch, a kiwi woman living in the UK who has experienced chronic pain for many years. In the interview she described an experience she’d had many years ago where in the midst of her physical pain, she was able to suddenly stop and focus her mind solely on the present moment. In this moment she was able to let go of all that had been and all the worries about the future, and suddenly her life seemed more full and rich despite her pain. She has since gone on to hone these skills to not only manage her own condition but she also trains others in the practice of mindfulness. For a more eloquent and detailed description of Vidymala’s journey, you can find her at http://www.breathworks-mindfulness.org.uk/articles/being-here. A truly inspirational lady. What particularly resonated for me that day was Vidyamala’s idea that the present moment is always bearable.

So obviously I’m not grappling with a debilitating illness, but I find that my mind is so often full of worry, either analysing past situations or planning contingencies for what might be to come, that I am very rarely just living in the moment. All this worry, analysis and planning is quite simply, exhausting! It’s also distracting me from all the fantastic things that I have in my life. Surely mindfulness has something to offer me too? My practice is very much in its infancy, and I find that I often need to take a firm line with my unruly mind. There are times when it’s just like a rebellious toddler making a run for it in a crowded shopping center. I almost need one of those toddler harnesses to rein it in. But then there are times where in the middle of a worrisome thought I stop and I focus completely on my precious baby girls’ little hands as they grasp her toes, or the vibrant red of the roses in my garden as the water from the hose falls all around them. Those moments are pure magic and the calm I feel is like a tonic. I find that I come away from those moments with more energy and a real sense of purpose. I like it! So I want to become better at being more mindful in my daily life and I will continue to practice and practice.

Do you practice mindfulness? Does it get easier to tame a worrisome mind?