Hello friends! I’m very pleased to report that we are back in Tassie after three months on the mainland, housesitting in Sydney, Forster, Nelson Bay and Melbourne.

Tasmanians affectionately refer to Tassie as ‘The Little Island’ and mainland Australia as ‘The Big Island’; but after feeling our bodies sigh with relief as our boat pulled into (green!!) Devonport, Carl has suggested we write to Tourism Tasmania to suggest they run a campaign under the slogan:

“Tasmania: The Better Island.”

It’s been over six months since we left Sydney (in truth we’re edging closer to seven) and I’ve never been gladder that we hatched our escape plan. Spending some time in Sydney and Melbourne was a good reminder that I am not built for city life. I may have had a mild panic attack in Marrickville Metro when we passed through our old ‘hood for Carl’s work farewell now that he has officially resigned from school. The feeling of stressed-out zombie humans pressing in on me; the frowny-glares as I stopped in the aisle to process the overwhelming volume of material choices on offer; the sense that most of the people there were mildly unhappy (quite possibly a projection) – all of it was more than my central nervous system could handle after many moons of slow, simple, quiet.

Melbourne was slightly better on the panic-front. We stayed in a suburb that I love, the blossom trees were in…well… blossom, we enjoyed some great coffee and amazing food and had some precious moments with dear friends who supported us through some not great news on the fertility-front. But what I noticed most was how I felt slightly grimy the whole time we were there – like the air was not quite right. So perhaps it’s no great surprise that we caught a horrible flu that lingered for TWO WEEKS! You try doing nine hours afloat in the Tasman Sea while you’re the sickest you’ve been in several years. And heaven forbid you should run out of tissues in that rolling ball of death (with sincere apologies to the poor condemned souls who were trapped in there with me).

All of which is to say that we are very, very happy to be back in our beloved Taaasmania – for goodsies now. We’ve rented a house in Poatina for a few months while we figure out our next move (still most likely setting up shop in Bicheno). But for now, here we are. Mountains above us, valley below and a sunny backyard that’s sprung up (springed? I feel like it should be springed in this case) into a lush meadow of daisies – all for a weekly price that would make you Sydney-siders lose your dang minds.

Given we’ve made it past the half-year milestone, I thought now would be a good time to reflect on what I’ve learnt.

So, here are three things I’ve learnt in six months of simplicity.

  1. Simplicity takes intention.

Being back in community here in Poatina (literally next door to my parents and corner-ways over fence from my sister) has been a good reminder that simplicity doesn’t happen by accident. Even in this tiny village in the middle of nowhere, I’ve been shocked to see how busy – how full of commitments – people’s lives are. Moving to somewhere lovely and quiet doesn’t automatically equal simplicity. As I’ve spoken about in a previous blog, it takes conscious effort to carve out a lifestyle where stillness and peace take priority. It means saying yes to way less.

  1. I need even less stuff than I thought I did.

When we were packing up our lives in Sydney, we agonised about what to keep and what to get rid of. We discovered stuff in the top-back of our spare room cupboard that we literally hadn’t touched in five years, and thought we were being ruthless; whittling our worldly possessions down to fit into a 5×8-foot trailer (that also included Carl’s entire jewellery studio). But the truth is that since parking that trailer on Tassie soil, we can barely recall what’s in there – and we certainly haven’t needed it. Carl often says that if someone pushed it off a cliff, it would make very little difference to our lives (though the photos and artworks would probably be missed when we do eventually set up a home).

Before we left for the mainland, we rearranged a few things in the trailer and somehow my wallet got locked in there. It’s pretty telling to discover that I haven’t even needed that most precious item this past few months (thankfully I had my passport for ID). In fact, it means so little to me that I haven’t even gone to collect it yet since getting back. Hopefully it’s full of cash when I do.

  1. I really like it. Like, a lot.

We’ve been sleeping in late this week while we’ve been recovering from the flu (during which I spent the majority of my day lying in the sun in said backyard meadow), but this morning we set the alarm a little earlier (ok, let’s be honest, we set the alarm) so we could start the day with some yoga in front of the fire while our windows peered out at the mountains. After that, I walked down the hill through the bush and to the creek to do my morning pages and have a meditate and pray. It was a lovely morning of solitude that wouldn’t be possible if we had stuck to the status quo in Sydney.

A few people (ourselves included) questioned whether we would be able to make this Year of Simplicity work: “How will we pay the bills?” (Answer: easily); “Will we be lonely?” (rarely); “Will we get bored?” (Not as yet). The main thing I’ve learned about simplicity is how much I like living like this – happier, more able to feel like myself and content and satisfied possibly for the first time in my life. It seems less really is more.

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Have you done anything to slow down and simplify your life in recent months? Tell me in the comments below. x

              A large bumble bee collects pollen from a pink and white apple blossom

   A sweeping vista with green grass in the foreground, yellow canola in the mid-ground and blue sky in the background   

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