Early Spring is my favourite time of the year as it symbolises change, new growth, sunshine, freshness and awakening.
We were married on the first day of Spring; my niece Kasey, my husband Greg and brother Mick were born in September; my marriage and family are the pivotal point of my life. I recall a Friday evening in the spring of 1995 – we had been together for 15 years and married for 11 years. We were living in Queensland so the glorious spring weather was perfect for our end of week “happy hour” on the front verandah of our home. Our dinner was sizzling on the enormous four burner/oven top/rotisserie/does everything barbecue which was a recent addition to our home. After a while, I asked my husband “how was your week at work” and was stunned by his response. He said – “I have to tell you, I do not think I can continue in the job I have – I no longer want to work there”. I was speechless and confused and my mind was racing so fast I could not control my thoughts.
Our life was conventional – we had lived in the regional coastal town of Yeppoon for several years and had a mortgage; we both had high-profile jobs – he with local government and me in a school environment. We were well-known in the town and had many friends. We were actively involved in the community – volunteering in school and church activities and groups; we were involved with welfare organisations; we were coach & manager of an under 7 mixed soccer team and in our spare time enjoyed gardening and the never-ending house maintenance. I thought he was happy and until that moment had not realised that he was struggling with his job which consumed a huge part of his life. My initial response was – “you have to continue working there, we have a mortgage” to which he replied “Why”? “Why do we have to have a mortgage”?
As always, Greg’s calm approach to all situations surfaced and he shared some deep, soulful thoughts with me that night. I was probably too shocked to speak, but I was certainly doing a lot of listening. Greg said he was wondering what our life was all about; was this how we would spend the next 20 or 30 years, having the same routine, living in the same house and the same town and what was the purpose of this orthodox lifestyle. The reality that our marriage would be childless had been confirmed after many failed attempts both naturally and with IVF and even our adoption requests had been rejected on the basis that we were too old.
He told me that we were in a unique position to think “outside the box” and consider opportunities and lifestyles that we had not considered before. He spoke of his recognising that there were millions of children and adults on earth whom we could love and support and help in so many ways. He asked me to take some time, a couple of months, to contemplate our future and some of the unusual and enticing ideas he had offered me that night and by the end of the evening, my head was spinning like a whirlwind. I sincerely agreed to carefully consider all he had honestly and courageously shared with me.
Together, we spent a couple of months before finally deciding on the path we would travel, but in hindsight, I think it was only a matter of days before I started to become excited as I realised that I too had been feeling the need for change. In being totally honest with myself, I knew that I was also searching for something – new challenges, possibilities, step outside my comfort zone, do something different from the way I was routinely living my life.
“We all must do things we think we cannot do” – Eleanor Roosevelt
It was time to take a giant leap off the top of my familiar mountain and so we decided to move “outside the box” and spent the next few months selling our home, our possessions and researching exciting possibilities for our future. By the end of that year, we were heading south down the coast in our car with just a suitcase and a backpack each. We were still pondering a few interesting ideas, but at that stage, we were not certain where this road would take us but were invigorated by the endless opportunities that would come our way.