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heigh-ho, heigh-ho…

image After a two year hiatus in my paid working life, I started back at the hospital last Friday. It’s my second return to work after a long break, and a lot of thought went into the decision to return. The past 18 months for me has been a time of slowing down, of healing, of purposefully looking after myself and creating a space within our home which prioritised not becoming overwhelmed with crazy schedules and life. A space which focused on drawing together our little family in a positive, happy and peaceful way. It’s definitely not always peaceful, but that has always been my goal. There were lots of reasons which led me back to work. The first being the uncertainty within the mining sector at the moment. As a single income family relying entirely on the mining industry, things have felt unsettled for some time. We needed a plan B. The second reason was that as a nurse, if you don’t practice for a while, you lose your registration. ‘A while’ is actually 5 years, but as time has slipped by, I realised that 5 years could pass in a blink, and there we are. The third, and most surprising reason for me, was that I was beginning to miss it. This was the interesting thing on Friday, because although I felt like a fish out of water for most of the day, it was beyond lovely to be completely appreciated for what I did. Nothing against partners and children, but when you can solve a problem like getting on top of the worst pain someone has ever had, and they grab your hand, stare into your eyes and thank you for being there, it kind of feels pretty special. I don’t really believe in conventional medicine in my personal life. It has a place, but it’s rarely my first port of call when someone in my circle is sick. It doesn’t really align with my view of how to look after your health…at all. It’s a system of disease management, of symptom relief, not really health care. It’s always been that way for me, but it’s only something I’ve consciously acknowledged quite recently. I thought I would have a real problem internally rationalising my work and my beliefs now. But nursing is about people, and about caring, and I don’t actively associate my personal beliefs with my work when I’m nursing…and it’s OK. As I walked back to the train station after my first shift, I was buzzing with excitement. Partly because I’d done it, I’d finished a shift, but also because deep inside of me I acknowledged this lifelong connection to myself as a nurse. My legs were aching, my house was a mess, and I only just made it back to school in time to pick up the boys, but I felt good. I am a nurse. It’s been a part of who I am for a really long time, and surprisingly to me, it still is. Linked with Essentially Jess for IBOT

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a woman’s work is never done

The perfect spot for a tea ceremony
The perfect spot for a tea ceremony

I was going to call this post ‘the never ending to-do list’, but as I wrote it down I realised I was just rephrasing an age old adage, which unfortunately and quite annoyingly, still rings true today. Well it does in my house anyway!

I mentioned recently that I’ve rediscovered my love of lists. But in saying that, it’s the interminable nature of domestic to-do lists which drives me a bit crazy. As satisfying as it is to tick things off, my lists are constantly sprouting new life, and I’m back to where I started.

Life has been chaotic, and I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed domestically since our holiday. I just haven’t been able to slip back into the usual rhythm of life after a week of laziness in Bali. It’s upsetting my natural calm, and I don’t really like it. I’m not sure if the women in developing countries experience this phenomena very often, I would suspect not…and just like that, I’ve managed to give myself a kick in the butt and some much needed perspective!

I remember reading somewhere once, that it’s the nature of domestic chores to be never ending. Of course they are. It’s obvious, but sometimes just reminding myself of that, and really accepting it, allows me to fully grasp that if something is never ending, then I can never actually finish. I think I have been trying to finish!

There are so many ways to enjoy every activity in life. Being mindful, keeping yourself in the moment, all of that. But simple acceptance is all it takes. Knowing that the mountain will never be conquered, and that fun, laughter and slowness need to be just as much a part of it as anything else.

Linked with Essentially Jess for IBOT

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work to live or live to work

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A couple of years ago I came across a book quite by chance called Down to Earth by Rhonda Hetzel. I think I was already unconsciously searching for a simpler life, but I had no idea what that life was going to look like.

Rhonda and her husband had rejected their consumer lives to focus on a simple existence with a view to living modestly, but well.

One of the points in the book which really resonated with me was the concept of putting a work hour value on everything you buy. It made me really stop and think. Rhonda speaks about selling your life hours for money. You only have a limited number of hours in each day, week, month, year. Everything you buy costs you hours of your life that you’ve spent earning that money. It’s like a vicious cycle of earning and spending often to the detriment of all the things you really want to do in life, like “have time” for life, for example.

Obviously this is not about stopping work entirely for most people, but just about considering how many of your life hours are chewed up unintentionally by a life filled with consumer wants.

My life example, was with my partner working away (in a fly-in, fly-out role). My entire family started to really suffer with me squeezing in regular night shifts as an Intensive care nurse. I loved working, but the shift work took its toll and my kids suffered with a cranky, strung out, sleep deprived mum.

On the positive side, I have wanted to explore the possibility of writing as a career for a really long time. I finished a creative writing degree a couple of years ago. It now seems like the perfect conditions have collided and here I am. I made my life much simpler, I consciously dropped our living costs, and I have created the physical time and mental space to write. Perhaps one day I will actually earn some money from it! (I submitted my first manuscript to a local publisher today which is really exciting…and scary)

Using Rhonda Hetzel’s life as an example, she now not only lives the life she wants to live, but she has a thriving business based around her lifestyle. The simple life concept has generated so much interest amongst people disenfranchised with the endless cycle of working and buying, that she has blogged, authored, done speaking tours and generally inspired hundreds of thousands of people to find their own simple path…including me.