Transformative Road Blocks

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I mean, life doesn’t always go as we plan it. When I read over my last entry I see that all too clearly! Past Emily, bright eyed, full of conviction in her decision to study Occupational Therapy last year, not having any idea how it would all play itself out. I caught up with a friend the other week that I hadn’t seen in a long time. Naturally, she asked me how my study was going, as this was the last real thing I had reported to the planet through the portal of my blog. The unfortunate snag in that plan however was the fact that I didn’t get accepted into the course. Funding cuts and whatever other reasons made it all just fizzle out as each round of offers passed by.

The truth is now, however, I’m so glad that I didn’t get in. While it took a little bit to reconfigure, it quickly became apparent that had I been accepted, I would not have been able to take on the other adventures and challenges that were coming my way. Working in the care industry for so long, it just seemed like a natural progression for me to step forward and become more qualified in that area, as I was feeling rather burnt out and also craving some more intellectual stimulation. Study just seemed to be the right fit. Plus, it would mean that I would have an excuse for not pushing my drumming business as much as I could and therefore not feeling guilty in myself that I wasn’t taking all the steps I possibly could in order to feed and nurture that dream.

Why do we trip ourselves up so much in our path to self fulfilment? It seems so counterintuitive.

I stayed in my care role, which afforded me exciting opportunity to go to Miami twice. That was such a special experience, being there to help relocate my client back home to be with his family, while also getting an insight into the crazy world of South Beach, padded undies and jeans with Butt Enhancement Technology. I knew once all that was over though that I had to move on. My passion was waning and I felt a little stuck. A friend of mine had spoken to me years ago about his time working as a tour guide and that memory had been germinating in the depths of my mind ever since. When travelling in Europe I had thought about how I might enjoy being a guide at some point, but upon returning home I got caught up in my beloved Australia Post role and then the convenient care support jobs were always there. But, the idea returned in June when talking to that same ex-guide friend again. So I got my MR licence, wrote to a few tour companies then by August was training with Go West tours.

I love it so, so much.

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Open plan office.

I can’t believe I haven’t thought of being a tour guide before?! I get to shepherd 24 unique people* from around the planet on day trips through all sorts of stunning landscapes, talking with and to them through my headset and choosing music that I (and I hope they) love.

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The clouds shift, constantly changing the colour of the water along the Great Ocean Road.

*Big families from Taiwan, sharing with me about their home and schools and the crazy nature of the streets; a sweet old Chinese man travelling so far on his own to giggle at the little penguins in Phillip Island- neither of us speaking the other’s language but finding connection through the adorable and vulnerable nature of precious creatures; beautiful Italian honeymooners shining in their love for each other and delight to be travelling Australia; a four year old Chinese toddler who picked me a piece of dry grass and implored me to “look after the flower” he’d picked at the end of the tour – I could write pages and pages of the various characters I’ve met on tours.

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A pair of honeymooners at Cape Woolamai beach.

I am so happy that I get to earn money doing something I really enjoy, while now having more time to run Boomshop. I am no longer feeling burnt out from work and therefore zapped of inspiration to follow other passions. I should write a thank you letter to VTAC and the Victorian universities for setting up that transformative road block.

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Watching people watch the 12 Apostles

When reflecting on my not having been accepted into OT I realise that there are so many people who would be make fantastic occupational therapists and that is why it is such a popular course. I too may have gone through and found joy in that career path, however I do feel there is something else much more tuned to Emily. This guide work is definitely a step in the right direction! I do look a little like a park ranger in my uniform and quite often get asked questions about animals/trees/the location of toilet blocks etc. I generally just go with it, trying out my broadest Australian accent in the process. “Gday matey! Yeeeah ‘course the dunnies are just round that corna behind the bushes! hahaha she’ll be roight mate just wotch out for them bloody snakes!”

Stay tuned for more tales from the world of Ranger Stacy.

 

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On Quitting

I have quit quite a number of things in my life: judo, in grade one, when my pant’s elastic failed in front of a large crowd; ceramics, in first year uni, when my only ability with clay was to smoosh it down into a pancake and draw on it like paper; first year uni, when I realised my only ability in “youth studies” was to study the bottom of the cheap pots of beer readily at my disposal. But this blog post is not about any of this. This post is about when I quit my famed job at Australia Post.

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It was rather funny timing really, being asked to be on a promotional video to encourage more women to work in a transport role, days before I was planning to hand in my resignation letter. I couldn’t really say no to the request, plus I was sort of curious to see how it all played out- I do love these odd opportunities that seem to find me! As the interview progressed, however, I found it tough to find the appropriate levels of enthusiasm in the answers that I gave. I definitely did not find myself gushing about the joys of parcel collection and transfer-and I am known to gush about the most seemingly mundane things! But, as I sat there scanning for truthful ways to answer why it was that I loved my job, I was definitely solidified in my choice to leave it. After writing about the Big Red Tree 5 months earlier and finding inspiration for newness and excitement in life again, I had slumped back into routine, making excuses as to why it was okay that I was still in that role, but deep down knowing that I wanted something different/more. It’s amazing how long we can continue in a state of “I’m okay” when the potential for “oh my gosh I’m so great!!” is just a couple of steps away, potentially. Change is daunting and financial security is a selfish, needy partner that we can’t really remember ever being in love with. No, I get it. Money is important, especially when there are other people relying on us…but if the job we are doing is zapping alllll sense of “Me” from the equation and there is no space left for any creativity or joy then really, what’s the point? Are we alive to be just a cog in the machine? Or can we be a cog but also have a chance to step back and assess the machine/see beyond it/see the stars from time to time. I had lost sense of the stars.

So, I quit!

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7 year old Emily learning about the unfortunate combination of elastic failure and gravity.

It was amazing. Australia Post were a fantastic organisation to work for but it really wasn’t where I knew I wanted to be. I am a People person not a Sitting Alone in a Van person. I found ways to make it fun from time to time, but that inner voice asking me where I’d disappeared to couldn’t be ignored any longer! So, I took more tentative steps with my drumming business (and will write a blog about that unique adventure at some point soon) and am very excited for the future outside of the red van and high vis. I see the post vans on the street now and feel a bit nostalgic, giving the post boxes a loving caress as I walk passed them, wondering what curious smells are hiding inside; plus I miss the lovely people I worked with, but I have the strongest sense of relief to be on the other side of my resignation! I missed using the left hemisphere of my brain.

I am now waiting to see if my application to study Occupational Therapy this year will be accepted. It’s rather scary and exciting, having my future somewhat in the hands of the dream makers/breakers that are VTAC. Bizarre. Life really is/can be great. Even if not travelling the world, like I so truly madly love, I am still travelling through time; making decisions that empower future Me and that is exciting. Then from this, hopefully, being more qualified to help other people in transitions in their own journeys.

Last year was a tough year, but it gave me a real insight into how it is for people that do suffer from depression and who go through life feeling lost/empty or just feeling nothing at all. Life can be so tough, I’m grateful that I am surrounded by people who know me and support me. Family and community really, truly are everything.

 

Autumnal Coincidence

Autumn! Those red leaves, that delicious crunch. I seldom like to use the word ‘delicious’ beyond a food descriptor, but in the case of autumn leaves, it really is just what my feet are thinking! I was driving along, admiring the presence of autumn and I realised (seems to be quite a theme in my blog) that I can learn a lot from trees.

I feel lately I’ve fallen into a bit of a slump, putting off the things that fundamentally will build me up, ie. creativity and exercise. It is a vicious cycle as the slump makes me not feel like being creative or active but, by not doing these things, I end up feeling down and get deeper in the depths of the slump and so on. I can recognise it, but inertia grows and hovers, like a thick film over unstirred hot milk. It was all this that was playing on my mind as I was driving to work the other day.  Then, the sun came out and sparkled through the reds and oranges and final bits of green, letting Autumn pierce through my grey.

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I thought to myself, those trees will change no matter what is going on in my, or anyone’s, life. There is a truth beyond my own and somehow there is liberation in that! It lifted me.

Step beyond myself and into the realm of the autumn leaves.

After this little episode I turned on my audio book. A minute later, the narrator said, “as she stepped outside, noticing the Autumn leaves she thought to herself, no matter what war is raging, the leaves still change…” At first I just thought it was normal – of course that would be what comes on in that particular point in time. Then I realised I wasn’t a character in a movie and that this was delightfully, perhaps inspiringly coincidental!

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Just as the leaves change, so too can I get creative, no matter what society is coming to, or Trump slump I am inhabiting. The Earth just keeps on turning. We must embrace the moments, or else we just watch them all drift by.

Emily and the Big Red Tree

Sometimes, all it takes is for a big red tree to shake us from our treadmill state of existence. It has been over a year now since I returned from overseas. My travel blog has lain dormant and I hadn’t realised until yesterday that is some ways, Emily has too. For the past year I guess I have been travelling, but in a different, less awe-inspiring way. It has not been me with a backpack surrounded by Europe; but rather me in high vis work clothes surrounded by a big red Australia Post van. From the old towns of Eastern Europe to industrial areas of new Melbourne. I have still managed to find joy in the work I’ve been doing in my role as a PTO- very important ‘Parcel Transfer Officer’. It is great for my fitness, it does not drain me emotionally at all and I can choose all sorts of interesting podcasts to listen to (the other day I learned about how flea circuses worked- I never thought I’d feel sorry for a flea!). I also get to plonk around in giant work boots and wear a stylish, delicately hued, womanly shade of fluorescent yellow.

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One of the most interesting parts of my job is that I get to have a sticky beak into so many different types of work places; from giant bustling factory floors to boxy offices where the sound of fingers tapping at computer keys, coupled with barely audible whispered conversations, makes for a very snoozy environment. I also have the privilege of admiring the Friday fashions worn by the receptionist models, all ready to get heels-off plastered at their beloved knock off drinks.

To be honest though, the work is not at all intellectually stimulating and I do spend a lot of my time imagining about all the other things I could be do/lives I could be living and occasionally get a pang when I realise it has been a whole year of dreaming and,while I’ve made a few positive steps, all those dreams are still just that!

Yesterday, however, I was driving along and a big, beautiful explosion of red in the form of a tree shook me out of my robotic state while I was travelling along a Clayton street. It made me open my eyes and do a u-turn to see it again, properly. I had been driving along in a tunnel of routine, looking towards the pickup I was about to do from a post office. It was as though I had been squinting through the moment, ignoring everything that was present, attempting to see all future tasks and events. This magical red tree managed to reach into my head and snap me out of my machine state and reintroduce me to Emily, the human, who likes to write and draw and drum and sing and interact with groups of people. When I was roaming about overseas I was always in the moment, but something with this job had changed that! The Red Tree slapped me back into the Now and out from the eternal ‘Soon I Will, Then I’ll Be’ frame of existence.

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While I’ve been so happy in my life back in Melbourne, I’ve taken an age to settle in and my work-life and personal aspirations have been stuck a little in quarantine. I have been comfortable enough, which I guess has been the issue, as I haven’t had a great need to step up and out and try for more. But who wants to go through life being comfortable enough, when the opportunity is there to be so incredible fulfilled, inspired and satisfied beyond measure? Why settle for the treadmill of life when there are fields of splendour to walk, run and dance upon??

I needed that Red Tree, to remind me of Me.

It’s time for something new and I’m excited for what that will be!

Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud

So, sometimes travel isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Occasionally it is just storm clouds and rain without any bows. I was given some advice from a friendly stranger at a bus station in Turkey a few months ago which lead me to taking a bus that took me not to the airport like I had originally hoped, but to a bus station at least an hour away. Because of this, I got on another bus that took me on a tour through the back streets of Turkey’s own Footscray and I missed my flight.

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In Germany, a couple of months later I took some more advice from a “helpful” stranger on where to stand to wait for a bus I had booked to the airport. The signs were a little confusing and the man was so willing to help. When the bus came 15 mins late I showed my ticket to the driver and he said that I was holding a ticket for a completely different bus company. That bus, it turned out, hadn’t been 15mins late but had just arrived at bay 8 not bay 15 where I had been obliviously sitting, reading my book. The only thing left for me to do in order to make my flight was to pay the extra money and get a train. To say was a little frustrated at myself would be an understatement. I wrote this in my journal as I sat on the train that day…

A fury that burns like wild fire through the dry fields of my mind. Soaring through me as I storm back through the train station to buy another ticket, I weave my way through the rent-a-crowd of station inhabitants. Once on an equal, friendly plane to me, the general public now seem like a plague of locusts surrounding me, irritating and relentless. I can’t believe I let it happen again!!! This screaming thought takes over like an obnoxious police siren down a busy city street. Why do I seek help from strangers??! They only ever *muck* things up. I should trust my own ability to find an answer. Alas. I know people don’t ever consciously lead me astray…to err is human and to err with a helpful heart should be forgiven. In the end, I wasted no real time as the train is quicker than the bus. However it cost me an extra €25 when the bus was only €6- Im just throwing money away like it’s the end of the Monopoly.

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In hindsight, these moments never are that bad, plus, it’s good to remember the frustrating times as well as the good times- it wouldn’t be a proper travel experience after all if there weren’t at least a few disasters.

It’s funny, in missing a flight, the worst moments are those leading up to the flight-when there is still a minute chance that you might make it. The stress is palpable and the frustration like a hungry lion in a vegetarian restaurant. Once the flight has definitely taken off however, there really is nothing that can be done but to accept the fact that you were never even meant to get it anyway. Acceptance, flexibility and a sense of humour are definitely keys to happier, carefree travel/life. Continue reading

Happy HelpX

After i returned to the UK following an amazing summer back home in Australia I had a bit of time to fill before I started my new job. My other plans had fallen through so I had to come up with something new! I learnt about HelpX from a friend of mine and it had always been in the back of my mind as something I wanted to try. It is a brilliant way to see a new part of the country while also contributing to something beyond oneself in exchange for food and board. I was so excited when I received an email from Grant at The HoBB saying that they were happy to have me come and stay for the weekend. I must admit that I was a little nervous going to a strangers house for the weekend, however, the plethora of positive reviews on the helpX webpage by previous guests instilled me with great confidence that I would be in for a happy weekend. Indeed I was!

I was lucky enough to fit so much in the mere 3 nights that I stayed there. I learnt how to mix cement and build a wall, I gathered firewood, helped narrate a YouTube video, went to a folk music night at an old aerodrome, created milk bottle planters and ate many a hearty and delicious meal! I find myself daydreaming about that heavenly apple crumble far, far, too often.

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I could go on and on about the incredible projects that are in motion at the HoBB but I don’t possess nearly enough knowledge about them to do them justice. All my words would just get jumbled up in my mind when I attempted to do so and would end up with some nonsensical convoluted sentence like, “the HoBB is ahh…a sustainable aquaponic DIY home grown Welsh country rabbit hole wonderland. Cosy fireplace, fertile dream space.”

To give a sense of how I was feeling while I was there, here is an excerpt from my journal at that time.

The HoBB. Wales. March. 2015.
I must write this down while it’s still as fresh in my mind as the air is here in Wales. Where oh where do I begin? When I signed up to HelpX I had a vague notion of what it was that I wanted- but how on earth was I lucky enough to end up here? Am I still on earth for that matter?? Is this some enchanted elfin dream land?? The HoBB, it seems, is what you get when someone looks at their imagination, admires it and then actually lets it become them in real life. It’s one thing to have an idea and daydream about how lovely it would be for it to become real- but to actually go ahead act upon it and make it your reality is just taking life to the next level. The HoBB is a dream, nay a fantasy realised- and I am so, so honoured to be here!

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I got off the train in oh so chilly Knighton, in the heart of Wales. I was alone with my backpack, guitar and the knowledge that Helen from the HoBB-my home for the next 4 days- was going to collect me. The thought did pass my mind ‘what if no one comes to collect me? Will I seek refuge in a local free house??’ I felt a little like I’d gone back in time- I forget how old and charming the buildings can be here in the UK!

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Sure enough though, I was collected. Helen drove up and immediately upon seeing her, I felt warm and welcome and at home. We arrived at the HoBB and I found myself melting into the sheer charm of the place. There is a certain energy here and a sense of…light. Glorious, almost magical light across the hills at sunset- the bleats of the sheep in chorus, echoing across the valleys and the plains; and glorious light of my hosts with their enthusiasm, kindest and willingness to teach.

The HoBB is evidence that we shouldn’t just live our life but that we have the power to CREATE out life- a life that inspires us and has us bounding out of bed in the morning with the enthusiasm of a child.

Cosy, quirky, beautiful, inspiring.

❤️