Sunday, December 28, 2014

finding balance



Where to start?

I feel like I need to preface this post with to be honest, because although I like to think that I am always honest here, I am also aware that I like to have an undercurrent of gratefulness on my blog, because when all is said and done I do know how lucky I am to be living this life.

Ten minutes ago my farmer boy left with the girls to visit some friends. I am alone in my house for what feels like the first time in months. There is a possibility that I may have the next one to two hours to myself. Thank goodness. Big exhale.


To be honest I am struggling a bit at the moment. Although I am certainly and ridiculously grateful for my way of life, right now I feel overwhelmed by it. Right now my whole instagram feed is full of people on summer or winter vacations relaxing by the beach, reading in bed, knitting a few lazy rows over lunch, while our house, garden and farm to-do lists are so long that we had to slot bits of them into calendar days to try to even make sense of them all. Right now to combat the guilt of sitting here writing this blog, I'm interspersing each paragraph with a trip to the washing machine and washing line, or from the washing line to the girls' wardrobes. I feel less guilty and more productive this way.

Right now instead of doing this I could whipper snipper another few rows of the orchard in preparation for netting them this evening when it cools down, I could wheel hoe the market garden, plant some carrots, leeks, lettuce and parsley in the home garden, I could mow around the house, I could think about dinner, I could do some fire prevention, I could start trellising the beans and that's just the start and that's not even thinking about the housework or computer work. And that's when the girls aren't even here to tell me every detail of their dreams, ask me to braid their hair, watch their show, remind me that I still haven't taught them to sew, ask me to find their sandals, drop them at the pool, cut them another mango, help them with this, watch them do that and then that.

We had our three week holiday in winter, this is our busy season I hear us repeating to each other and the girls like a mantra.

And it's true. Winter is the slow season on our farm and now we are go, go, go. And that would probably be OK except that I feel like I'm not doing anything at all creative. Instead I'm being yanked through my days doing task after task after task. I feel completely out of balance. I often call our farm The Hungry Beast because of it's capacity to gobble money but it is also hungry for my time. Gobble, gobble, gobble.

It's possible that I always feel like this at the start of the summer holidays until I find my rhythm, but this year it's making me feel cranky and tired and unaccomplished and unmotivated. And I don't like feeling like this at all.

IMG_2340 I know The only way to fix this is to do something for me, regularly. I need to make time for something creative so I can get back to feeling the love in the other, more demanding parts of my life.

So I've decided that in order to get through and on top of this I need to make some resolutions, change things up a bit for myself without putting more pressure on. So far I've come up with two things I'm going to put into place as soon as possible.

The first one is to blog. I really, really love this blog yet for some reason I never prioritise it. I find the photography and the writing so fulfilling yet it's always the first thing to go when I'm busy. Pretty silly hey! So my first resolution is to try to blog every, or almost every, day in January. Even if it's just a photo and a paragraph. I just know that I'll feel so much more creatively fulfilled if I stick to this plan.

IMG_2522 I also feel like it would be really great for me to stretch myself and learn something new. To take something I love and push it further. So my second resolution is to do an online Lightroom course. So far I've been able to teach myself how to take photos for my blog and have been lucky over the years to have been published in some cool publications, but there's always been this point where I've hit a wall and haven't been able to progress with my skills any further. Hopefully this course will teach me about post production, about sorting and filing my photos and give me a bit more confidence with my photography. Maybe it'll even inspire me. It's online and I can do it in my own time, I'm really excited about it.

And you know what? I feel better already.

So anyway how are you going these last few December days?
Are you slowing down or speeding up?
Are you feeling creative, are you coping, are you feeling overwhelmed or calm as a cucumber?
What do you do when the world feels a little off balance?
Do tell.




  1. Gah, I feel all over the place too. I am trying to wind down and be thankful for the small break that comes at this time of the year, but I am actually, like you and so many others, with many things to do that will help make the start of the year easier. But like you too, I don't want to let go of the things I like to do and want to grow and stretch with them too. I hope you find your balance.

  2. Whenever I feel overwhelmed lately the first thing I think of and realise is that I need some me time. I'm a mum of 3 little girlies too and those times come often! Since October my me time has been my yoga practise. I practise 3-4 times a week and absolutely love it. I live my instructors, the studio, my mat and the ability to be able to surrender all my 'stuff'... I can just focus on my practise instead of everything else for an hour. Now that the Christmas hoo ha is over I have this need to de clutter my house so I'm working through that... Slowly!

  3. I hope you find some balance soon, I know that feeling well. I'm struggling to see the new year as full of great possibilities, rather than scary unknowns, but I am glad to have some warmth and sun and the girls home for holidays.

  4. All of that sounds pretty normal given you are running a farm, raising a family etc. What's that saying in the airline safety talks...put mask on the adult before attending to the children. Also remember when you did a like crocheting every day for 15 mins....get back to that. The to do list, the laundry, the dinners, are always going to be there and 15-30 minutes later the world won't end by doing it just that little bit later. Also leading up to Christmas Mummy's are go go go with organizing preparing and helping Santa do the shopping. My 8 year old wanted me to watch The Grinch movie with her yesterday so we lay on the couch and I fell asleep half way because I was so exhausted and this was in the middle of the day. We all need to nurture ourselves so we are able to continue the good work that Mummy's do. Don't worry I am not running a farm but I'm jealous of all my friends off on holidays to the beach with their husbands and families and as a single mother I cannot afford those luxuries and/or don't have a lovely man to share my life with and go on holidays as a family. To quote my sister the other day "that Beanie was an absolute lifesaver" a much treasured gift and you will have no idea how amazing it made her feel and how generous my family think you are. Another 5 weeks of treatment and that will be her 11 month journey over until reconstruction further down the track. Take 1 hour for yourself to photograph and blog and crochet a day, after all there are still 23 hours left you can devote to everyone else!!! I've just finished Rhonda Mason's Lightroom Photo organization Course at Life Captured. On-line and very informative and there is no way I could have come up with all those steps myself. This course is not "editing" so if you are after editing you might have to look at something else but the Photo Organization is brilliant and detailed and I would highly recommend it to start setting up all your photos in this manner. Have a good week and a few hours to yourself is highly recommended. Take care. Kathy A, Brisbane

  5. I hear you! There's just always so much to do, I find I'm getting up earlier and earlier to find that quiet time for myself. But I was really happy to hear you're prioritising your blog! I love reading it so I'm happy I'll be seeing you on my feed every couple of days. I have sadly neglected mine over the last 3 months. Soon, soon, I'll be back. Good luck with your course. Sounds inspiring. Xxx

  6. Hi Kate, I guess you are going through what we can experience in the summer energy here, when it can feels like being pulled constantly out towards doing things. Sometimes I think I might need to re-think the way I live, just to make creativity a priority. I'm at day 28 of blogging everyday. I think it's been helpful to just show up every day and see what's there. I feel a bit freer from doing it somehow. Other parts of blogging which mattered before, don't seem so important now. I'm just showing up for myself and the process I'm in. I just keep moving! I can recommend it. The photography course sounds great. All the best with the new year! X

  7. I hope that 2015 brings balance to your life and that you can work things out in the way that is right for you and makes you very happy! Whatever the new year brings, I hope you enjoy it. xx

  8. Oh Kate...I miss you when you are not blogging! Welcome back. Great post and I send empathy. Both farming and parenting are totally relentless. Summer for us is the same...there is no opportunity for beach holidays or lazy days. We have soaring temperatures, dams going dry and stock feed drying out, not something you can walk away from for any more than a few hours.

    Finding some extra creativity is something I need to do also. Between parenting, farming and home schooling I feel the things that make me 'sparkle' often get pushed aside. Thank you for this post Kate, it has got me thinking x

  9. I miss you when you are not blogging too because in the UK you bring a touch of sunshine in our darkest days. My allotment has only parsnips and tough spinach, we are in low production time. A time to graze from the freezer, eat jam from the jars and wine from the bottles we didn't label properly - you will get that time too. Be kind to yourself. Jo x

  10. Ahhhhh Kate, I feel for you. It must be hard for you when a lot of people are in holiday mode. And yes, it would be your busiest time on your farm.

    For me, the first thing to go when I'm busy is time to do something I love, something just for me. But, at these times, it is the thing we need the most. And if I do take the time, the guilt I feel sometimes causes me to go back to my never ending list.

    And that's the thing. Our lists are never ending! There is always something more that can or needs to be done. But it doesn't all have to be done today. If we keep pushing through our to do list and don't take time for ourself, we get resentful and sometimes a bit difficult to live with.

    So Kate! Don't feel guilty! Do something every day that is just for you! It might be a few minutes here and there to break up your day, or it might be a block of time that is scheduled in. For me personally, a few minutes here and there works best, because if something crops up eg. someone calls in to visit, and I miss out on my me time, well.....lets not go there. But, whatever works for you. Have some time for yourself Kate! It will benefit you and your family. You will be a better partner and better mother, so you don't need to feel guilty!!!! Rant over.

    Much love, Julie xxoo

    1. I totally agree, and when mothers value their 'me time' and make it an utmost priority to take time out for themselves, they are being excellent role models for their children who will learn how to value themselves in turn and it will help them survive this crazy world that seems to be getting crazier every year!

  11. Kate, I can completely relate to you, you could have written this for me! Although, right now we are in the middle of a two week break, its the first we've had since we started our business 2 years ago! Finding balance for our family and for me personally feels like an impossible task, but I have to make changes this year, otherwise I honestly don't think we'll survive it. For now, I am trying to soak up every minute of this down time, and trying not to fret that its already halfway through..x

  12. Firstly, I really love the photo of the wheat looking plant thingy up there!!

    I hear you. January is crazy for us. Everyone is on holidays and wants to visit but Chef works crazy hours, and teaches at Camp Creative and its school holidays and I am still running a business and catching up trying to get the shop re stocked after the Christmas rush. Add to that no daycare, most demanding toddler in the world etc etc - like you said, pushed and pulled in all directions.

    I think we get into this idea where we feel like we aren't allowed to "complain" because we have to feel grateful for every little thing all the time. which of course we do feel grateful but one doesn't cancel out the other. You can feel grateful AND overwhelmed at the same time!
    (I have been writing this comment since last night- so many interruptions, Romi is next to me saying ' no ' I hung-gee" even though she ate 5 mins ago........
    I'm back, what was I saying... )

    Im not great at letting Chef take the girls to do something without me- I have FOMO!! what if something really great happens! but I need to start letting that happen.

    yes! that's right. lightroom course sounds great. I think you are clever at working out how to make yourself feel better. I think that farmer boy has good advice too. And as for online courses, even though it is the busiest time of the year I just enrolled in one too! Eeeeep! because being creative in this chaos and making my brain stretch will help me to feel like i am achieving something concrete. xxxxxxxx love.

  13. I wonder if you could offer interns a place to stay and learn over summer? Teach them to grow, harvest, cook, bake etc. Share your knowledge. It would take the pressure off you & your family. Is that something that could work for you? Your farm looks idyllic & I'm sure you could have many people wanting to come help - maybe some northern hemisphere people wanting to escape a cold winter!
    Just a thought. Take care.

    1. That's a really creative possible solution! That's the sort of thing I was getting at in my comment below about finding creative ways to deal with the situation.

  14. I too miss your lovely writing! You don't really have to feel guilty about writing your blog. You are, in fact, supporting your fabulous book (saw it reviewed in the Sydney Morning Herald the other day and am presuming it was also in The Age) with your online profile, and laying the foundations for your future publishing endeavours. Now I must go and put on some washing. Am feeling guilty myself after reading about how you are so organised you have to-do lists!

  15. Hi Kate, I've just started following your blog and I can really relate! We have 17 acres in the Northern Rivers (NSW) and two small children. I know that feeling of "I should be doing..." (add in brushcutting, planting, weeding, fixing the drainage at the top of the driveway (which I then did in the pouring rain on boxing Day!), pumping water, washing, cleaning, watching yet another Tinkerbell movie....). Some days it's hard but then I remember the 60 hours a week I used to work/commute in the corporate world and am grateful we made the change.... I'm also studying on top. I'm looking forward to reading more of your blog!

  16. I know the feeling. Although not so much what other people are up to, I deleted my instagram account a while ago. But the feeling of constantly having to be 'doing' something, without time to just 'be'. Or be creative.
    We are on a few acres in Central Victoria and have only been here since August, so we're totally in garden establishment mode. But we've locked ourselves in so that it feels like all we do is build a garden and nothing else. Watering every evening, can't miss a day, and we've hit the point where we're very mindful of planting anything as the watering is so demanding on our time. Best to be patient until summer is over for a lot of things now anyway.
    And then we had a pretty awful time in December, and all we wanted to do was get in the car and drive away, and we couldn't. Too many animals, too much invested in our garden and we realised we are essentially stuck here, for now.
    What I wouldn't give for a couple of days at the beach right now. Getting some more time out for creative stuff and to just do what you enjoy makes it so much easier. We have to recharge our own batteries too.
    I have missed your posts lately, although I've been looking back at your grannie hottie series and following along :)

  17. I feel like it's your winter. Nothing much to do for a week or two (except fret about a all the things I should be doing except I'm not). I think your plan is a good one, bud and I would welcome seeing more of you here on the blog. Your feelings about your Instagram feed are kazactly why I'm not on Instagram. I don't think we have any business knowing that much about other people's lives. It makes us feel somehow 'other' and that's no good at all. x

  18. what is that balance thing anyway? It's all a facade in the world of juggling isn't it?... whenever we are doing something, there is always (a million) other things suspended in time waiting for us catch them as they fall, some gently, others crashingly!
    I absolutely have to craft when I'm overwhelmed, for fear I'll self combust with anxiety and pressure and stress... It has taken me many many years to actually listen to that whisper, I waited till it was screaming, but now I craft - amongst the chaos, messy house, weedy garden. I would be a lost sausage without my yarny ways.
    I love that you have given yourself a couple of things to bring yourself back to a non-overwhelmed state and can only imaging how amazing your photos will become with a new course, they are already so stunning! And blogging, nearly every day, well that just blows my socks off! I think I'm ace if I get a post out a week, lately it's been fortnightly and more recently over 3 weeks! That's December for you.
    Yesterday I finally got around to culling down the photos from our trip to Peru and I've gotta say, although it took many hours (and I haven't even edited them!) it was lovely to relive it all again through the pics.... maybe you could get your photos from your relaxing winter holiday and have a little play/do a little lightroom homework with them, remembering the vibe and calm and bringing a little of that into your day?
    I absolutely love that you are honest and share the real life stuff of farming, it's valuable learning stuff for us wannabe farmers. x

  19. Ive sat here thinking on the whole balance thing and I really don't think I have an answer. 2014 was a weird year, completely unbalance in some ways and then in others, maybe it was. Living in an apartment in the city can soooo often feel ridiculously busy, with too many things to tend to, organise, manage. We're leading completely different lives but yet still trying to wrangle this same thing called balance. Not sure Ms Kate...what I am sure of is you though. Your blog. Your creativity. Your kindness. Your photography.... they all rock lady. xxx

  20. I have just come back from a glorious fortnight on my folk's farm in Queensland. They have no internet and no mobile phone coverage so I just dropped off the grid and you know what, I actually really, really, loved it. That was just what I needed after a crazy busy year. My plan for this new year is to simplify, to stress less, to make things just for the heck of it, to have less deadlines, to enjoy life more. I hope you can refind your balance.

  21. Oh Kate, I hear you!! Whizzing out to put some washing on between other jobs resonates around here too. Popping out to do physical tasks in between less physical ones is exactly how I operate. The tug-of-war between children's needs, the household and one's own.

    No matter what is being done, it is important to shed the guilt that creeps in to remind us that while we are doing one job, we are neglecting another. Tell that guilt to go away, back from whence it came and then be kind to yourself.

    Your post here is describing how I felt earlier this month, and it brought me to tears of frustration and panic because I felt so overwhelmed with the demands on my time and energy that it immobilised me and I couldn't even start on anything! I do hope it is not that bad for you.

    The fix for me was exactly the advice of Kathy in her comment above: "put mask on the adult before attending to the children". You need to take care of YOU FIRST to take care of anything else. My fix was to have a chat to someone with a kind and listening ear, let the tears escape to relieve that pressure and have a very good night's sleep instead of staying up late trying to get through a never-ending list. Realise that the world won't end if we do not do everything on our lists.

    Once you are properly rested and feel better within yourself, you will be able to think a lot clearer, get your jobs done more efficiently and find creative ways to get things done such as delegation or bartering, etc. Do you have a friend whose busy season is Winter but quiet in Summer? Maybe they can help you now, and in return you lend them a hand in the Winter? Tell the children how you are feeling no matter how young they are. It is amazing how willing and capable they can be to give extra help when they see that you really need it.

    Good luck with regaining your balance and may 2015 be kind to you.

  22. It sounds as though you have devised exactly the right plan. It's natural to have times where one feels like you do, and being self-aware and knowing how to find balance is the way to prevent it driving you crazy. I will look forward to your blog posts and hope that posting little and often will provide the creative release you need. Take care, Sarah xxx

  23. Its a funny thing how the grass always looks greener. i often look at those lovelies like you living on the land and I think wow I would love that. That is because I dont know of course what it is like to live like that and the work involved. I hope you get a well earned break soon. Lord knows you deserve one xx

  24. I am feeling just like you theese days, too! It seems like you have a plan and I am sure it will work great! Have a Happy New Year...

  25. Yay to a couple of hours to yourself! It is winter here so I am one of the lucky ones with free time, I've been drawing, reading, watching kids movies and going for winter walks... which has finally given me the impetus I needed to start blogging again :)

  26. Oh goodness, good luck! I just did a month of blogging every day. It was fab but exhausting! But it really got me back in to the swing of thinking about my blog and remembering to take pictures for it. Though I must admit the break I've had over the last week or so has been fantastic! Looking forward to seeing where this journey takes you!

  27. I'm glad that you were able to find a few minutes to blog, I do love your posts and pictures! Wishing you peaceful, balanced moments in the year ahead.

  28. Firstly, let me give you a big tight squeezy hug (I'm famous for them :)). I love reading and looking at your blog and love your honesty. It sounds like you have a starting point which is great and I think writing this post has probably eased the burden, as they say a problem shared is a problem halved. I find writing a list each day and prioritise them and even mark them off as you go. Another trick I do is write down any thoughts that keep swirling in your mind like "I musts or I shoulds". Pop that list of thoughts in your pocket and later when your brain starts again, tell it "thank you for the reminder but I've dealt with that thought" and even physically pat your pocket where the note is. It probably sounds silly but it works!!!
    I love the idea of learning something new, I took up crochet after putting it off for years and I'm just hooked!!! I can't imagine my life now with out yarn and stitches and hooks :)

    Take care of you Kate, you are the most important person in your family, if mum is happy, so is everyone else :D

    Warm regards
    Jan xxx

  29. Sending virtual hugs to you Kate. Sorry to hear you are feeling so overwhelmed but glad to hear you are taking actions to turn things around. I have a friend who uses WWOOFers usually when her teacher husband is away leading outdoor ed camps. Perhaps it is something you might consider. From memory you trade board and meals for around 4-6hours work on your property each day.

    I felt a lot like you in the lead up to Christmas but since the 25th my girls and I have been enjoying some deliberate down time. We've stayed home, only venturing out for a lazy coffee date or two. There has been lots of playing and simply enjoying each others company after such a busy December which left us feeling tired and run down. Among the relaxation, we have achieved some small goals in our kitchen garden and redesigned and decluttered a few rooms inside.

    Anyhoo, I hope you find some time out for you Kate. Take care of yourself. Look forward to checking in on your blog daily through January. All the best for the coming weeks. xx Dre

  30. Hello. I had lovely Christmas, bu ate waytoo much and I feel sorry that I did not have enough time to prepare for Christmas properly, tidy up, do some more baking etc. Now I am visiting some relatives and I feel like the travel and overload of social contact is leaving me very exhausted plus it is freezing and snowy here and I have quite a cold, so I am very very slow, looking forward to going back home and doing some new year de-cluttering :)

    I cannot imagine having Christmas in the middle of summer, like you do, quite a challenge, especially on the farm! May it all go and grow well. I look forward to reading your blog every day of January :)

  31. snowflakes make the daily life really slow lately.
    wintertime - days between the christmas tree and the new years eve. i usually find myself a little bit melancholice inbetween the old and the new year. maybe it's part of the time right now. finding the balance, being grateful, feeling strong and powerful and ready for the daily ride on the caroussel of life ! it is a challenge and what helps me is my drawing project. i make a drawing a day in a little " cahier" / booklet . as the englishmen say : an apple a day keeps the doctor away i'd rather say : a drwaing a day keeps the doctor away.
    i started 5 years ago. sketches, memories, part of dreams, things i see throughout the day, things i hear .... and when i draw i sit down, i focus on the page and create a moment of silence and reflection.
    hug from the other side of the world and wishes for a good new year - v

  32. Hi Kate. I totally relate to this, though i don't live on a farm. Life is busy! And somehow, I have been feeling really overwhelmed too. The other night, I was in tears, and suddenly realised that it was because I had no time to be creative either. My children are going to sleep so late because it's hot and daylight lasts so long. So when they are finally asleep, I crash out, and can't do a single thing. All my spare time goes into The Quincys, which I love, and of course is creative, but because it's also business, it's not quite the same. Lots lots lots of mums I speak to are going through exactly this at the moment. I am not big on astrology, but it's almost like something is happening in the planets. I like your goals. I think they will help. Mine is to try and stick to a running regime, as running helps me stay in balance. And I have let the reigns go on my blog a bit, so I blog less 'professionally' whatever, and blog more from the heart. It's easier to keep it up! Big love to you for New Years. x

  33. I have a cronic illness eating away at my body and it strongly limits what l can do, but on a smaller scale l can fully understand being overwhelmed. I have four Children and home to care for and it can quite easily eat me up completely. I find Nature helps me find balance and l am drawn out into the forest or up into the mountains to find my footing. I love to create, muscle infections limit me here too, but l do get some done and it is so rewarding mentally. Wish you and your lovely family a very happy New Year full og joy and balance. Pam in Norway

    1. I am sorry to read that you struggle with chronic illness. It isn't easy caring for a large family while fighting your own health battles. I can relate as I have a chronic illness and 3 children to care for. I am glad that you do not let it dishearten you and that you can find the satisfaction in what you do achieve. May 2015 bring better health and happiness to you. Jodie

  34. I always feel overwhelmed when something big has to be done. And I think as I get older this feeling gets worse - even though I know things will work out alright in the end. Maybe you really do need to be honest - with yourself. It might just be a feeling of having too much to cope with but in reality you know you can do it. Or maybe you really do have too much to do and you therefore need to make adjustments so that you can enjoy what you do without being totally overwhelmed. Hope you have a very Happy New Year.

  35. LoveLoveLoveLove right back to you Kate. I'll be off looking for Slow magazine sometime soon. I have a nasty habit of sporadically buying magazines and not ever reading them but I know I'd read at least one article in this. :) Your writing is beautiful as always your honesty and sweet nature never fail to make me feel connected to you even thought I don't stop by so often any more. I still often think back to our early days and the lovely little connected community we had through our blogs. xx


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