One Year in the Little Karoo

Today last year was Friday the 13th. It was also the day we moved to the Little Karoo.

I think the perfect double-barrelled description of the whole experience is bewildered certainty. It absolutely had to happen, but how it happened is still a happy mystery.

We are here. We love it. The end.

What I’ve learnt in the last 365 days

I still get asked if I’m happy to have relocated and I still maintain that leaving Joburg and moving to a Little Karoo village was the best decision (yes: ever). In the last year, I’ve learnt that this kind of transformative life journey isn’t as uncommon as it seemed at the time and that there are plenty of other people in the Little Karoo and Garden Route area who have done exactly that for exactly the same reasons.

Peace, tranquility, safety, beauty… and excellent port.

I’ve also learnt that there are a lot more people who want to do the same thing, but don’t know where to begin, so I always try to hold the torch for them (you?) and lead by example. If my example is anything to go by, what you will do a lot of here is walk around, look at the sky (maybe paint a little) and eat cake, so if you can live with that, then by all means: MOVE OUTSIDE! 😀

How life has changed in the last 365 days

I could reflect on this until I die, but let me summarise:

The extra space is magical

Until I had it, I didn’t know it was something I wanted this badly. Extra space. Space to move around in; space to call my own; space in which to just sit and think (preferably in a hammock); space in which to create and learn and love and cry. Space to stare at, especially from the top of a hill with other mountains and clouds in the distance. Space. Can’t get enough of it now because it’s into space that my heart has expanded and my mind has explored and my imagination has flown.

It’s as much about the infinite space of the soul as it is about the physical space of the mountains upon mountains that layer the horizon.

The dogs love the extra space as well, so I’m glad to have now fulfilled that promise we made to them quite a few years ago.

001

Structure and discipline

Before you spit your coffee through your nose, hear me out…

In a place as beautiful and timeless as the Little Karoo, it’s very easy to get lost in the slow pace and sense of persistent serenity out here. What’s changed in the last year, though, is that I am following through on all the things I said I would do one day. In spite of being fairly busy as a freelancer, I feel like it’s much easier to bend time to my own daily structure here than it ever was in Joburg.

Daily walks. Daily (mostly) art. Daily writing. Daily gratitude (again, best achieved in the hammock). Clean(er) eating. Mind-body awareness practice, such as yoga and meditation. Better quality sleep (not difficult).

What has helped a lot with making the time for these things is doing them with other people. Finding people to be accountable with has been awesome and it’s helped me to progress quite far – physically and mentally – in a short amount of time. Ironically, Joburg can be very isolating, especially for a freelancer, and now the daily writing and weekly check-ins are done remotely with P… who’s in Joburg! 😛

Nevertheless, structured discipline = results and I finally feel like I’m getting somewhere.

Natural inspiration

I’ve always loved nature. I love the fact that I have a keen eye that finds all the little creatures … but little did I know that these little creatures would inspire me to change how I express myself on canvas. The fact that moving here has literally changed my art is surely testament to this decision to relocate. Even bigger than that is how finding this beauty is something that – through painting – I can hopefully transfer to others.

Being inspired by nature is like having direct access to the Breath that flows through everything (and every thing), and it was not something I could reach out and touch in the city.

Not. Even. Close.

Bauhinia Purpurea sunbeam

Figuring out what matters

Natural resources matter. Time matters. Family matters. Stability matters.

It only took one drought and a crisis-level water shortage to figure out that I have wasted so much time and energy on things that don’t matter.

Like hair.

Yes, I’m serious.

But shaving my hair off also became the perfect analogy for cutting the fat from many other areas in life. Anger – don’t need it. Guilt (banish the word SHOULD from your vocabulary) – don’t need it. Anxiety – don’t need it (though I still struggle with this a bit… but working on it). Fear – don’t need it. Status and labels and an always-on connection to work – don’t need it.

Do You Yoga

Self-awareness matters.

The broad expanse of the Little Karoo will reflect back at you exactly the way in which you look at it. And I look at it lovingly and with my Buddha-smile every time I cross it and the Outeniqua Mountains to visit my parents (at least once a month, sometimes more) because they matter to me now more than ever.

And cake matters. Life happens now. Eat the damn cake.

Oh how I love cake

Forever grateful

The most significant part of this move has been the opportunity to assess my own reactions and ability to adapt to the unfamiliar – and there have been many new and unfamiliar things that have confronted me in the last 365 days.

Finding ‘home’ is not about finding a physical place and going, “I’ve arrived!” For me, it’s been about finding something inside that’s akin to an anchor that can be picked up when the ship needs to move, and dropped when the ship needs to stay in one place. Moving here and re-establishing contact with what matters has allowed me to discover that anchor.

One of the things that still stands out clear as day was when we arrived at our new address this time last year. I opened the car door, shifted my legs out and, putting my left foot on the ground, just feeling an intense sense of I’m home.

It’s like finding true north – if you know where that is, finding your way in any other direction becomes possible.

Have a wonderful weekend, from the Little Karoo ❤

 

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