If I’m honest, I’ve been ready for a change for quite a time. I have been living and working in the same (astonishingly wonderful) place for more than 3 years, and it’s so nearly my dream come true, but not quite.
Lockdown for me was such a rich period for reflection and for getting clear on what was important to me. Probably, even if you were busy working from home, or home-schooling, the very nature of the enforced change of routine prompted us all to do some serious soul-searching.
During the retreat (sorry, lockdown), I heard the poet David Whyte talk about a letter that John Keats had written to a friend, which included the line, “I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the heart’s affections”, and I immediately burst into tears.
Maybe you think Keats is referring to some romantic infatuation, but he’s talking about something way more important than that. He’s talking about what lives in our hearts as our fundamental truth. How, what we care about in this world, the path we chose and how we express ourselves, is nothing less than the actual conversation we are having with life itself. This is what we need to take incredibly serious. Holy AF.
I realised in that split second that the conversation I was having with life was not fully sincere – I was not treating my heart’s affections as holy, because I knew I wanted to be doing something else with my time and I was ignoring my heart. This is the challenging aspect of honouring our heart’s affections – it can lead us to uncomfortable places. It might be easier to stay put, to say ‘yes’ when we really mean ‘no’, but at some point I think we need to listen to our heart and act on what we truly hold in our love and affection, regardless of the potential awkwardness or even humiliation.
On that day, I promised myself that I would no longer be compromising. It may seem that change can’t happen in an instant, but in any moment you can sincerely commit to a path – so I got very clear on what I was asking the universe for. And somehow, a month later, something incredible happened; I was able to purchase the property in the photo above, to create a retreat space that fully expresses everything that is important to me. Life is magical or what?!
I’m still pinching myself, but it’s really happening. Situated in the stunning and peaceful Gibbston Valley (Otago, NZ), there will be regular Dõgen inspired cooking retreats, plenty of room for self-guided meditation / yoga retreats for anyone who is looking for a conducive space to deepen their own practises, and of course, the opportunity to just book a night or two and stay in a beautiful and peaceful retreat home. Fully catered of course with plant-based meals, by me.
I am calling it Te Whenua, which means ‘land’ in Māori, to honour our connection to the earth.
I’m looking forward to having a place where I can really be ME, and of course you can be YOU. I can’t wait to be able to do more of the style of cooking that I love (predominantly plant-based, abundantly nourishing and always comforting, flavourful and smile-inducing), and also have time, space and energy to make deeper connections with others on a spiritual path, and a relationship with the land we will be living on. I’m also keen to delve deeper into Ayurveda, and further study the mind-body connection with regards healing – I know meditation and other practises including journaling and art help here too.
I’m looking forward to slowing down, and having more time for the important things in life.
Because, “how we spend our days is of course how we spend our lives” as Annie Dillard wrote in her book the Writing Life.
At some point there will be a website and there will definitely be more recipes, and insights from more time spent on the cushion, and hopefully more friends and more pot-lucks.