How living in the country has changed me and taught me

Here I sit in my cosy old home, Timber as far as the eye can see, light switches slightly yellowed and in need of changing, an out of place looking reverse cycle air-conditioner mounted on the wall, which has the greatest of trouble cooling the house because of its very high pitched timber ceiling, the sound of a mouse or two scurrying about behind the TV unit and the smell of very fresh air seeping through the cracked sliding door and a very relaxed patio with an "on holiday" feel to it just outside the door.

I begin to ponder how much I've come to love this place in a short 6 years. On arrival, I was a very pregnant, relatively newlywed with a gleam in my eye for the sense of adventure a move to the country entailed. As the first weeks passed I noted all the things "wrong" with our home and all the big changes I'd like to make gradually over time to "modernise" this house which is older than I am.

I won't cover up the fact that after living here only a year and a half... we wanted out. We put the property on the market for about 13 months and had zero bites. Even though it was a very reasonable price and one of the nicest in the area available at the time. It just wasn't meant to sell. I know that now. In fact when we took it off the market, exhausted from over a year of trying to keep the house and property immaculate for regular home open's with a toddler running about, It felt like a sigh of relief.  Like I could LIVE here again, instead of making plans for the elusive "somewhere else" that would be our home if only someone would buy this place.

As soon as we made the decision to keep the property, it immediately started to feel like home, more than ever. I made the decision then and there to embrace country life to the full, as much as I possibly could.

When we had put the house on the market we had an endless list of why It was impractical to live out here. From the distance to family members and shopping centers and also to hubby's work, to the mice and snakes and the crazy bad allergies I had experienced since moving out this way. The list seemed endless. Now the list for reasons to stay seem endless. I'm so very grateful that God kept us here.

I grew up in the "City" and when I say city, I mean the suburbs, not literally a unit in a tall building or anything. I loved it. We visited country areas plenty of times for family holidays or visiting people. I always enjoyed that, but was always looking forward to going home after a week or less. I liked the noise, the closeness to everything, being in the middle of it all suited me just fine. Now I feel its because I didn't know any better. But I found out I am extremely adaptable. I think I honestly could live in a mud hut and still be very happy.

Moving from the suburbs to a semi rural acreage was no small decision. It meant a lot of driving, sacrificing certain parts of a much enjoyed lifestyle, and stepping into the unknown. Being a rather big fan of change and challenges I was keen. My husband had always wanted to live away from it all. I had never once thought about it and it was a totally new concept to me, but one I was drawn to just for the mystery of it.

I remember each day I discovered something I loved about our new property, and something I absolutely did not. I Loved the scenery, I did not love the wattles (allergic), loved the huge patio, did not love the faded old concrete flooring of the patio which I knew we would never be able to afford to re-do. I began to build a list of things I'd like to change or update about my home. The kitchen needed new bench tops as the hideous powdered blue was beneath my sense of style you see. The patio needed timber decking as it simply wasn't "finished" enough. The bedrooms needed to be painted so there was no timber framing to be seen in them, even the entrance gate wasn't safe from my city-girl snobbery. A steel sliding gate? Surely anyone can see that it needs to be replaced with a Limestone feature and a wrought iron electric gate.

HAH! The country knocked that attitude right outta me.

Don't get me wrong I still have my list, it's just way smaller and way more practical. But I now appreciate the beauty of a character home. I always wanted a very modern, typical brick house with rendering out the front, a very polished finish inside. Very Freedom-Ikea-esque with splashes of bold colour to make it "different" to every other tom, dick and Harry's place. Now I couldn't think of anything more boring.

So as I watched how the seasons changed our property dramatically on the outside; summer, spring, autumn, winter, all coming and going with its own majestic view and it's own lot of flora and fauna, and saw the beauty of nature taking place in front of me without distraction I began to ponder how on earth I got out here in the first place, and how on earth I was coming to not just like it, but truly love it. I began to realise that living out here wasn't just some bright idea a couple of wide eyed newlyweds came up with, it was meant to be, it was a perspective changer and it has literally changed me, changed my life.

Here are 4 things that living in the country has taught me:

1. To Be Content.
This is a biggie. I grew up for the most part of my childhood, with parents who had more than enough. We always lived in a nice house, with nice things, with modern looking matchy match furniture and plenty of presents under the Christmas tree. When a divorce took place, it was a very sudden shock. From one extreme to the other, Mum, myself and my sisters went without alot of the luxuries we once had. We still had our needs met, but I remember one thing, mum was never content. She just couldn't let go of alot of her old lifestyle and she went broke because of it. I was content with having what I needed only. But mum found it very hard. Moving out to the country with a pre-conceived idea about what your home should look like is a very very bad idea. Unless of course you have the time and money to completely renovate the whole place. I learned over the course of a few years, that my patio table does not have to have matching chairs, that my garden will NEVER be manicured to perfection because 3 acres (although tiny to most rural property owners lol) is impossible to "tame". I learned that I much prefer the warmth and character of timber walls and and a high pitched ceiling to a standard brick and plaster wall/roof. I learned to be content. To enjoy the quirks of an old and jolly home instead of coveting the modernised set up. And I don't feel like Ive settled for second best... I feel like my eyes have been opened to what I prefer, over what I grew up with and thought was the "best". I don't even blink at the patio floor anymore, who cares?? Its only for standing on...and its outside! And I really really like all the windows everywhere! I have come to learn that what I grew up with, and what I like, are actually two different things.

2. To appreciate nature;
I never ever ever stopped to smell the roses. Ever. Not because I was too busy. But because I simply didn't think to. The closest I came to appreciating nature, was laying on the beach with over bleached hair and a dangerous amount of baby oil, chatting with my teenage friends, feeling relaxed with the sand between my toes and a bit of McDonalds burger stuck between my back teeth. Seriously. I had many opportunities to enjoy and appreciate nature. My dad took me fishing more times than I can count. We went camping here and there and so on. But I never saw these times as moments to cherish nature. I enjoyed the company, and the change of scene, but I never saw its beauty. Being out here has allowed me the time and headspace to literally stop, step outside, look around and allow all of my senses to fully embrace what Is before me. Never before had I watched bees busy at work with a sense of wonder instead of fear. Never before had I chosen to go for a walk just because It felt nice to be outside and feel the sun on my skin. Never before had I wanted to get a real good close look at a frog or a lizard. I'm sure I must have as a child, but I don't remember it. Never before had I climbed a tree without wondering if I would get stuck or get in trouble for it haha. It was wonderfully freeing. I feel closer to God out here. I know that is a crazy cliche' but I really truly do.

Which brings me to number 3:

3. The importance of Slowing Down;
In a world that is go go go! I can very easily STOP! I never thought to, never really wanted to, never decided it was important to. But now I know it is very critically important to just stop. To really slow down and allow life to just happen, and breathe, so that one can clearly prioritise life. I think that being so far from everything forces one to have a lifestyle overhaul. I had a plethora of friends and acquaintances. Although it kept life busy, it didn't make life full. Now that I live so far from most of them, it really makes me prioritise my time and it makes meeting with them all the more sweet and rich. Being out here forced me to focus on whats important. My faith, my marriage, my children and my home. Without the endless distractions available at my fingertips (shopping centers, tonnes of friends, countless activities, outings, sports, restaurants, church events, neighbours, party invites etc) I found it much much easier to be attentive to the most important things in life. Sure there are still distractions here. TV, Internet, endless community involvement opportunities and so on, but it's rather minuscule in comparison to what vies for the attention of a city/suburb living woman. In my own experience anyway.

I know that an un-mopped floor will be waiting for me long AFTER I've spent the afternoon saving princess CurlyGirl from the giant baby monster. And that the value of an evening in with my husband far outweighs that of a night out with the girls. Which nowadays, I really don't miss, nor do I desire. I feel that with my commitment to Christ and my growth in Faith, all these things would have come to me/happened to me/changed in me at some stage, but being out here it's happened a LOT quicker and alot more pleasantly! I think alot of hard lessons have been avoided simply by the removal of distractions.

4. How to get grubby:
Yeh I was a bit of a squeeky clean type before I moved out here. I grew up with a mother of exceptional grooming. Hair, makeup, clothing and accessories were always completely perfect before she left the house. My wild curls were always brushed back into a submissive hairsprayed ponytail and a hideously 80's frock would be my outfit most of the time. (until I became a teenager and found my own fashion preferences). I grew up thinking that tracksuits were absolutely not something to be worn outside of the gym. Not even around the house. My nanna to this day can be found on her knees in her rose bushes with kitten heel clad feet poking out behind her. (she is completely adorable I'll add). So it was a very extreme adjustment for me to realise that comfort could and should prevail in my own home. I now own too many trackies to count. Not long ago, an old school friend visited, and when I greeted her wearing a pair of crocs... scratch that.. FAKE crocs, she jokingly asked "Terri..... is that YOU?!". Hey i had jeans and a super pretty shirt on, what more do you want? We have red dirt out here missy hahaha.

So yes, I learned how to pair down my image and get dirty. Gardening, chasing chickens, dirt in my nails, mud on my track pants covered butt kinda stuff. And enjoy it. I wasn't one of those image obsessed barbie dolls please don't get me wrong, but I just followed the footsteps of the women in my life, who had good taste and a preference for glam. I still enjoy getting dolled up and messing with makeup when I go out. I still change my hair colour enough times to make you dizzy. But I also have enjoyed looking like a frazzled swamp monster too.

Other things which aren't very thought provoking but have been awesome about the country life:
> the sound of roosters
> chickens and fresh eggs
> discovering so many different lizards, spiders and native plants
> the very very still quiet nights and the amazing stars
> making as much noise as you want without disturbing the neighbors
> Quad bikes
> planting a veg garden
> going for a walk around "our" block instead of "the" block.
> being able to hoard everything you lay eyes upon because of a giant garage, then give stuff away when its needed
> feeling very safe and secure in our own home
> long drives to town - plenty of time to talk and listen to music or a good message
> Having a pantry jam packed with everything and rarely running out of anything because you've done that before and know the consequences heh.
> Coming home from a trip to town and feeling the difference in the quality of the air and even the water.

the list goes on but I will leave you with that.

Yes country life has changed me. Or should I say, God has changed me and in part has used country life to do it. I feel so much more content, at ease, happy, confident, careless of peoples opinions, at one with nature, prioritised and organised and clear-headed. People visit our home and statements I've had have been like this:

"It's so peaceful here"
"I feel like I'm on holiday"
"i feel so relaxed"
"it reminds me of family vacations"

whenever people say these things it reminds me of how blessed we are to be out here, and how much it has enriched our lives. It really is like they say, but its not just because of the beauty of the property, or the old timber home, it runs deeper than that, our family is better off here. I am different because of being out here. It is peaceful because there is peace in my heart. It is relaxed because we have learned how to relax in a fast paced world. It reminds people of family vacations because it beckons people to slow down, smell the roses, be content, get grubby and appreciate nature.