I am a creative, nurturing and capable womxn.
I am a womxn living in rural Queensland where I run a cattle grazing enterprise with my husband and four high-school aged children. Prior to having children, I worked as a chartered accountant in Brisbane and as a rural business advisor in my local community for a number of years. Since having children, I have worked full time at home and in our business.
What's easy for womxn?
Most women I know are wonderful nurturers. Whether it is nurturing their families, their businesses, their homes, their gardens, their friendships, their community, their creativity or their careers. I personally have had great satisfaction and joy in mothering my children, growing our business alongside my husband, renovating and expanding my home and garden and developing my creative side. It has been very important to nurture a healthy state of mind, especially when times are tough, as it is also easy to fall into the trap of nurturing resentment, discontent, self-righteousness and self-pity, none of which serve us or those around us.
What's difficult for womxn?
Nurturing ourselves. When my children were little I really struggled to do anything healthy for myself because I needed to put their needs first. Experience has taught me however that taking care of myself is very important and that I can’t nurture others if I am struggling.
How do you nurture your relationship with nature?
Living on a farm I am surrounded by nature. Thanks to the media most people are aware of the extremes of living on the land. Droughts, sand storms, mice and insect plagues, floods and bushfires all bring devastation both financially and emotionally that last long after the event. But there are also wonderful periods like after good rain, such as we are having as I write this, where we have long green grass, full dams and creeks, the trees have fresh leaves, there is an abundance of birds, frogs and other wildlife.
As the year progresses, we will have frosts and cold, dry and windy days followed by storms and warmer weather in spring and then the harsh heat of mid-summer and hopefully more good rain again by this time next year. During that time different birds and wildlife will come and go making it a daily treat to look out a window or be outside in it.
Where do you feel a sense of belonging/community?
Living in a rural area there are lots of little community groups that gather people with different interests. In my neighbourhood (some of my neighbours live over 25 kms away) there are many great women (and men) that I count as part of my community. Mostly these women are older than I am though some are younger. I feel so inspired and connected spending time with these women, I come away feeling energised by what they have created and their enthusiasm for the future.
Most of the friendships I have made since becoming a mother have been with other mums while helping at kindy fundraisers, in the canteen at junior footy, reading groups at school and while watching my kids play cricket. I particularly love going to garden days, especially at my neighbours. In the future I want to volunteer more, attend more creative workshops and agriculture related conferences to expand my sense of community, and learn new skills.
How do you maintain mental fitness/mental health?
For me having strong mental health means accepting what I can’t change and changing what I can. And just like the serenity prayer says the key is “knowing the difference”. In order to accept what I can’t change and change what I can I have tried many different techniques and practices including Buddhism, meditation, yoga, self-compassion, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and of course mindfulness. I have also read or listened to hundreds of books, podcasts and radio programs. From each thing I tried, read or practiced I have picked up tools and tricks that help me.
Above all, however, for me the best practice for accepting what I can’t change and changing what I can is questioning my thoughts. Is what I am believing true? Is it serving me? Could the opposite be true? How can I make this job I am dreading more enjoyable?
Much of my day is filled with mundane tasks like housework, paying bills, data entry, filling in forms and driving the same route over and over. I used to dread those mundane repetitive jobs because I preferred to do more creative tasks like planning, designing and problem solving. Then I discovered the trick of combining mundane tasks with sneaky pleasures like watching an inspiring or funny video or listening to music, audiobooks or a podcast. In this way I can look forward to ironing, tidying and mopping – something my younger self (and my mother) would not have believed.
My final trick for maintaining my mental health is being organised and planning ahead. For many years I have kept a diary and every week I plan what I would like to (not have to) get done. The categories I use are Office, Organise, House, Garden, Create/Projects and Town. While I do prioritise the urgent jobs, anything that doesn’t get done gets transferred to the next week. I also loosely follow the Flylady system for housework and Getting Things Done system for business. That is, I follow what works for me.
What brings you joy?
My family, my home, my rose garden, laughing with friends and my work. I also love finding treasures in op shops and quiet time in my children’s old playroom which slowly but surely is becoming my playroom: a space for me to sew, paint and hoard lamps I will one day get round to making lampshades for.
Where do you live/work?
I live in the Western Downs Region and I live on Barunggam country.
"That is, I follow what works for me."
Like Jude, over our life time, we try many things to maintain our equilibrium. We do this so that when we are in times of stress or distress we can use these good habits to pull us up and out of the doldrums. Womxn who live in regional, rural and remote areas have the challenges of distance and smaller populations compounding the potential for isolation. Using the internet to connect more widely we can discover courses like The Science of Happiness that can lead you to the same conclusion as Jude to follow what works for you.