Right now, as I write this, I’m preparing for a huge untangling and transition.
And because, like in all big transitions, I’m feeling scared and uncertain, I’ve started to look back on all the untanglings and transitions I’ve been through over the last 20 years, to remind myself that things always, somehow work out.
I’ve been looking at the times I’ve said goodbye to comfortable situations to step outside my comfort zone and grow. The times I’ve wiped my whole entire life to the ground, to rebuild and start again fresh.
There have been several of these major transitions, which I’m going to share with you through story telling over the next few weeks.
I’d like to say I did all of these transitions with awareness. But, in the early days, before spirituality was cool, intuition was a commonplace word and the internet was even really a thing, I was just a young girl who had a burning desire for something more. Something that didn’t look like what everyone else was doing.
I could feel it, but I couldn’t explain it. So most people thought the choices I made were flaky at best, crazy at worst. Regardless, it is a feeling I have never been able to ignore.
You could say, untangling has always been a part of who I am.
PART 1: TWO RANDOM BOYS, OPAL HUNTING AND THE ALICE SPRINGS CASINO
I’m 18 years old, living with my parents and working as a checkout chick in the local supermarket in the Barossa Valley South Australia.
I think, like most 18 year olds, I had no clue what I was doing with my life.
In the final year of my schooling, my high school teacher had handed me a giant job description book and as I unenthusiastically flipped through it, I thought to myself “What is this shit? There’s nothing in here for me.” This same teacher then continued to preach the importance of getting good grades in our final year and going to University. He told us, if we didn’t, we’d never amount to anything. A ridiculous concept, that even at that time, made me furious.
What a load of bullshit.
I had been accepted into the best music college in the state but this didn’t light me up. So I gave up my 11 years of music practice, decided not to go to university and started working as a checkout chick.
I wasn’t happy. In fact, I was depressed. I’d wake up feeling sick almost every morning.
This depression was something I would come to know very well over the next 15 years. It is the thing I ran from and yet also the very thing that has kept me on my path.
TWO RANDOM BOYS
On a random Saturday night, I went to the local pub for some wine and mischievous fun with my friend, like we did every weekend.
As we walked in, there at the bar drinking beer were two scruffy looking guys we’d never seen before. We walked straight up to them and a conversation began.
We learnt their names were Eli and Darren. Darren played guitar and Eli sung. They liked motorbikes and Darren drove a bright blue old ute.
And then, somewhere in the conversation, they told us on Monday they were leaving. First they would spend time in the opal fields near Coober Pedy and then drive onto Alice Springs.
As they told me this, I could feel a big resounding YES in my heart.
THIS IS FOR YOU.
There in that pub, full of probably too much wine, I blurted out “I’m coming with you.”
And I said “I’m serious. Is there a spot for me in the ute? I hate it here. Let me come with you.”
They laughed again, looked at each other for confirmation, exchanged some kind of silent agreement, shrugged their shoulders and said “Sure! Be ready on Monday.”
I went home the next day, hungover and feeling a bit worse for wear but determined.
My Dad wasn’t home at the time. My Mum was in the kitchen folding laundry.
I said “Mum! I’m going to Alice Springs!”
She looked up and said “That’s great. When?”
I said: “On Monday.”
And the colour dropped out of her face.
As I explained to her my plan of driving into the remote areas of Australia with two random guys I had only just met, the colour continued to drain out of her face.
“But your father is not here, we can’t discuss it with him.” she said.
I could see she was worried that when he returned and she told him she’d let me drive off with two strange men he wouldn’t be happy – understandably.
I also knew she was worried for me. I could see that clearly in her face.
And, of course, she asked “What about your job? What are you going to do about money?”
I don’t think I had much, perhaps $1000 or something like that.
I simply responded “I’m not going to work on Monday.” and headed to my room to pack my bags.
My parents, bless them. They have always had my back in all the crazy decisions I made. They have always supported me, always cheered me on, always offered a safe base to return to if anything ever went wrong. I am so grateful to them for that. It is, I am sure, one of the reasons why I have been able to take these big leaps of faith.
And on that Monday morning, I packed up a bag of clothes, swung it into the back of Darren’s blue ute, and we drove away.
This was my first taste of stepping into the vast unknown.
I LOVED IT.
I cheered as we drove out of my childhood town. And the guys couldn’t wipe the grins off their faces.
This was really happening.
We drove for hours, through the day and part of night. Eventually, when we were too exhausted to drive any further, we pulled over under a big tree to rest. We’d had a romantic idea to sleep outside under the stars but the mosquitoes wouldn’t allow it. So we crawled back into the cab in the ute and fell asleep together. Me squished in between the two boys, tossing and turning between each of their shoulders.
Eventually we arrived at this remote opal mining community. There was one drop toilet and no showers. People lived in make-shift shacks, tents and old, rusted caravans. It was hot and dusty and dirty. It was the epitome of the Australian outback.
The closet shop and pub was a 30 minute motorbike ride away on an incredibly bumpy old road.
We’d go into the pub sometimes. Darren would play guitar, Eli would sing, I would drink and we’d become friends with the locals.
We pitched a tent in the mining community and stayed for over a week.
The guys were concerned for me. Was I okay to just eat baked beans? To not shower? To not have a proper toilet?
I just smiled. I was in my element.
Sleeping on the ground, close to the earth, sitting around the campfire playing guitar and singing, jumping on the back of Eli’s motorbike and holding on for dear life as he navigated the dirt roads, taking each day as it came. This was living!
Also, if you’re wondering, we never found any opals.
THE ALICE SPRINGS CASINO
Eventually we made it to Alice Springs. And this is where I was on my own.
The guys left to go back to South Australia but I knew I could not. That part of my life was done.
I set about trying to find a job.
I worked as a cashier in Red Rooster for two days until I eventually told them to go fuck themselves.
I landed a job washing dishes at the Alice Springs casino. Each morning, I’d have to wake at 4.30, in the freezing desert cold and walk an hour and half over the Todd River to my job where I would wash dishes and chop vegetables for eight hours.
I hated it. I hated it so much. It was awful!
But I was free.
Even though I had no idea how any of this would turn out, I trusted. My intuition had lead me here, it would somehow be okay.
And it was.
My beautiful parents offered to drive my car to Alice Springs and they also found me a quiet place to live. Before that, I had been staying in a noisy backpackers, which became really tiring really fast.
Soon after, I kicked that horrid casino job goodbye, talking my way into hospitality as a bar tender at a resort and a waitress at a steakhouse.
My life was abundant. I made friends. I saved money. Life started to feel good.
Then, almost a year into my new life in Alice, the creeping depression returned, the intuitive rumblings came again. I became restless and unsettled.
It was time to leave…