THE SISTERS' SONG coming in January 2018 from Allen and Unwin. Sign up to be the first to know. x Louise
In the attic with me this week is Camilla Hullick. Camilla sent me this heartwarming story of how she returned to her ‘happy place’ after many years away from it.
 
I related to Camilla’s conflicting emotions of enjoying solitude and physical work and at the same time craving social interaction and intellectual stimulation. She’s also captured how writing helps bring perspective to worries and fears, and how valuable it is when trying to connect with others. 
 
 
 
Camilla is a writer and blogger who lives on a cattle farm in South Gippsland, Victoria. She also works as an admin assistant a couple of days a week. She lives for her rescue animals, yoga and writing. She generally tries to live a healthy life, except when there’s chocolate in front of her.
 
You can find Camilla at her blog, The Stumbling Spiritualist

~

My Happy Place

I reside and work predominantly on a beautiful, rural, cattle farm my husband and I purchased in 2002. I’m a born and bred city girl and, through surprising circumstances, I suddenly found myself swapping a social/welfare career for complete serenity and solitude. Although the move was exciting and positively life-changing, it proved to be an extraordinary transition on many levels.

Initially I concentrated on cleaning up farm waste material, which had been cunningly hidden from view. I enthusiastically learnt such tasks as pulling down aged, rusty fence wire and replacing fence posts by hand—all towards improvement of our property. It was liberating dirtying my hands and I slept like a baby at night, satisfied with my physical achievements. I would be alone most days listening to the mesmerising and diverse sounds of nature, while a group of curious cattle would stand close by, supervising my every move.

‘After nine months however, I began wishing the steers would join in on my one-sided conversations, as their big, beautiful, brown eyes were no longer quenching my social needs.’

It was bizarre and completely unfamiliar to the lifestyle I was accustomed to. After nine months however, I began wishing the steers would join in on my one-sided conversations, as their big, beautiful, brown eyes were no longer quenching my social needs. The honeymoon was over and although I loved my country life, including all my precious, adopted, furry family members, there was definitely something missing. It didn’t take too long to work out what that was. 

All my adult life I had been employed in a service role and, to the best of my ability, I had assisted people of all ages to heal and grow. This opportunity initially arose through a nursing capacity, later in the addictions arena. I worked for a not-for-profit organisation for ten years, engaged in various internal programs. My roles were challenging, fulfilling, often frustrating and, at times, extremely heartbreaking. It was imperative I regularly checked my mental and emotional barometer.

So here I was, suddenly immersed in the rawness of mother earth, happily soaking in the fresh, clean air, as the sun kissed my face. It was humbling and I was truly grateful, but was this now my purpose forever more, to nurture our land and animals? Would my life now consist of patching fences, making sure we stored sufficient fuel for our farm equipment, and regularly changing the pump oil and turning it on to keep our cattle watered?

‘I realised I had been granted the opportunity to recuperate from the pain and suffering I had listened to for so many years, which became my daily norm.’

A little anxiously, I contemplated this question for many months, and suddenly one day it dawned on me that I was exactly where I was meant to be! I realised I had been granted the opportunity to recuperate from the pain and suffering I had listened to for so many years, which became my daily norm. My energy had constantly swayed between desperately wanting vulnerable, anguished individuals to believe they mattered, while keeping healthy, professional boundaries. It was an internal struggle at times, as I felt their debilitating pain. Perhaps then, this was my reward for having consistently and passionately chosen to assist others? A gift of solitude and being embraced by nature’s peacefulness and healing. Once I acknowledged this new understanding to be true, I actually found it quite easy to savour each moment of my day by being mindfully present. However, the niggling whisper to help people and to promote positively continued.

After considering how I could possibly still have a voice for those who would choose to listen, I remembered how in the past I loved to pen my words. In fact, I lived and breathed writing throughout my adolescence, finding comfort in a diary, which supported me through challenging teenage years. I even tried my hand at writing poems! Maybe the vast internet would be a wonderful and appropriate venue to share my knowledge, I thought.

I finally decided to start a blog. Not so much a running commentary, but a journal documenting my experiences. When I find the time, which is often in short bursts between necessary farm chores, I step into my authentic world where time stands still, yet in reality passes quickly. I predominantly write about my personal encounters, ones people can relate to. As the words unfold the content magically falls into perspective, and I gain an awareness of rhyme and reason. My focus is to promote a sense of ‘journeying together’ and to bring comfort, hope, growth and understanding through messages the reader perhaps recognises in his or her own life. Topics vary as significant experiences happen throughout my weeks. If my intuition tells me there is benefit to sharing my often very personal occurrences, I will happily do so. 

‘When I find the time, which is often in short bursts between necessary farm chores, I step into my authentic world where time stands still, yet in reality passes quickly.’

These days my shoulders are a touch lighter and carry contrasting concerns, such as my fear of snakes, our fluff balls coming together, or our house water pump breaking down, which means we have no water! Worse still, the need for rain when drought happens. I think the thoughts of a farmer now, however, I continue to want to make a difference in this beautiful world of ours, if only small.

I still wish for those, who are lacking self-worth and direction, to find peace and self-love. I believe low self-esteem is the root cause of most of the issues we humans face. I most certainly advocate to look within and to listen in an attempt to live as true to ourselves as possible. I pray people discover what it is that makes their heart sing and find the courage to pursue it. Each day brings a new gift of learning and my daily goal is to grow a little more insightful than I was yesterday; to be a better person than I was yesterday, and to write as often as I can.

There is once again a satisfying purpose to my otherwise busy lifestyle, and with only a pen and paper or a laptop needed, I am able to visit ‘my happy place’ whenever I wish to and I am truly thankful for that.

‘May you find your happy place too.’

~

If you’d like to write for Writers in the Attic, consider this an invitation. The topic is anything to do with writing—your writing life, what writing means to you, or what has influenced your writing.

600-1000 words is a good length, and I acknowledge the time and effort involved in writing these pieces by sending a small gift as a thank you.

I enjoy reading every essay I receive, so don’t be frightened to take the plunge! If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact me here

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'The Sisters' Song' is coming in January 2018.


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