Last year I was invited by Susannah Conway, to write a love letter to Australia, my home of the past 20 years. It was for one of her community projects – April Love.
Unsurprisingly I have very mixed feelings about the place and I had the distinct sense it was my ‘farewell’. Little did I know that I would be leaving just over a year later. As 19th September 1997 is the anniversary of when I first landed here, it seemed a fitting time to share that letter with you.
As I came here to get married to my Aussie ex-husband (whom I met in England), I feel as though I’m coming full circle, as I’m moving to England, with my English partner (whom I met here in Australia). A real sense of completion and a new chapter beginning…..
After 20 years in your majestic landscape, I still feel so small and insignificant in the hours it takes to fly from one side of you to the other.
So much to love, in the great divide from east to west and north to south, with the biggest, reddest carpet I’ve ever seen.
When I was a young girl my daydreams were filled with travel and magical adventure. I had a sense that I was not going to live out my days in rainy Northern England, much to my mother’s dismay. I felt like my life was waiting to happen elsewhere. There was a wanderlust in my blood for something more exotic.
So I embarked upon a Modern Languages degree, imagining myself meandering around the Left Bank in Paris or inhaling lavender in Provence, not realising I was going much further.
As far as I could possibly go, lured to your magnetic shores by
one of your cricket-loving young men.
At 25, I was greeted by vast sapphire skies, that filled me with excitement and a belief that anything was possible. I had stepped through the Looking Glass into another world. Daily, I looked out of my office window at the most beautiful harbour in the world. I will never tire of the view of those iconic white sails while floating past on the ferry or rattling over the Harbour bridge. So privileged to wake each morning in a place that’s spoilt with an overflow of natural, wild beauty.
At 35, I felt cynical, deceived, betrayed, raw and burnt, not only by the strength of your ferocious sun.
Should I stay or should I go? Divorce, miscarriage, insomnia and depression hadn’t been on my vision board. This was not the life I had imagined for myself. Yet even though I felt abandoned, I could not leave you Australia. It would have felt as though I was running away. The time was not right.
Surely that innocent and optimistic young woman who followed her heart would have urged me to continue with the adventure?
Despite said heart feeling bruised and broken, a tiny whisper reminded me of an old saying that a broken heart is an open heart. Shattering grief is a painful reminder of the ability to love deeply. How could I regret anything?
I’ve come to learn, reluctantly, that how we choose to navigate these challenges that life throws at us, are ultimately how we become who we truly are.
Australia, you have been one of my biggest teachers of compassion and self-love.
At 45, I feel more loved and supported than ever before. Almost half of my life has been here, in what is often called ‘the lucky country’.
I believe we create our own luck. Sometimes we have no idea why life has unfolded in a certain way. We don’t have the answers, but oh so many questions.
Most of the time it’s a mystery, but it’s one I’m willing to enter wholeheartedly.
Love Michelle xxx
PS you can read more about how the move back to England was divinely orchestrated here…