Before I left, I was consumed by my work. So many new ideas, opportunities, potential – I was feeling burned out. Being back in Australia, I was forced to slow down. Wi-fi doesn’t exist in every café and public space and the weather and opportunities “kicked” us outside all day every day. It was the perfect antidote to my cerebral obsessions and stress. It took me about a week to ease into this pace of life and be comfortable with it.
I noticed a subtle shift in myself and the kids. The more I allowed myself to be present in the moment, I found that I relaxed and savored the simple things again. Watching the sunlight change in the afternoon as we sat under a magnificent Morten Bay Fig Tree that covers the playground, eating fish and chips straight out of the butcher’s paper sitting on the grass watching the girls run around and chase the pigeons, flying a kite on the beach at sunset and seeing the pure joy on the girls’ faces as they played with Grandpa and the kite. All of this was food for my soul. It made me realize again that life doesn’t have to be complicated or stressful. As I relaxed, the girls relaxed also. Parenting got easier. I let go of a lot and just enjoyed the simplicity of things again.
I had forgotten how much I love swimming in the river, feeling the sand run through my hands, collecting shells along the beach. And how much did I enjoy doing these things with my family! Sharing these simple joys from my own childhood with my kids fills my heart.
I’ll admit, it hasn’t all been sunshine and roses. There are days when I have felt exhausted and frustrated but I can see this happens when I try to do too much – too many excursions in a day, setting expectations of how I see the day unfolding in my head and feeling frustrated when the reality doesn’t live up to the image. When I slow down and go with the flow, things are easy and enjoyable.
I also re-learned that it is important for me to look after myself. When I felt exhausted, things went down hill pretty quickly (because if I felt exhausted, my girls probably were too!) I napped most days when the girls went down for a sleep and even managed to get myself to a couple of restorative yoga classes. These things helped me to deal with the physicality of being on vacation – being “on” 24/7.
I’m hoping that this slower pace of life follows me back to the US as we prepare to leave Australia in a couple of days. I like how I am when I can let things go and enjoy a simpler life with my family. It just feels right.