After 12 weeks I’ve swapped the word ‘isolation’ for ‘solitude’ and I'm in no hurry to give up this precious time. Apparently I'm more of an introvert than I thought I was. Solitude has been surprisingly easy and I've been blissfully tucked away in my studio, watching the landscape change from green to gold as autumn came and went. I do crave bushwalks (tell me why parks are still closed!?) and galleries. I don't miss shopping or pedicures (DIY) or traffic. I do miss hugs. I do miss our retreats.
Springfield has been a blessing, and full of gratitude for the privilege of having this quieter, slower time to sink into my writing. In a weird way it feels as if all of the paths in my life deliberately led me to this point, and this is where I'm meant to be.
During this pause, I've enjoyed more time than usual with family (except for a few classic crazy days), more time to reflect on our plans for Springfield (more news in the next newsletter), and especially more time to write. For the first time in 15+ years I’m writing every day, and my writing bubble is now my happy place. The deliciousness of writing keeps the guilt of writing-while-the-world falls apart at bay. I spend most days at my desk, by the fire, with the dogs curled up at my feet. Days, weeks, months float by, writing, walking and reading, peppered with long telephone conversations with close friends.
Farmer Pete has been busy in the veggie garden and has taken to breeding quails. We’ve enjoyed endless kale, chard, pumpkins, mushrooms, strawberries, rhubarb and tiny blue quail eggs. Chef Eilish has been pickling, fermenting and preserving anything that she can get her hands on and Shannon Rosie has been deep in the creative process working on Springfield’s branding and strategy.
After 3 months we’ve found our rhythm. Weeks drift by, we potter through our days, meeting randomly for walks around the farm and gathering at sunset to share the evening meal. On Fridays, we have drinks around the firepit and marvel at the sun setting on another week. On weekends family, and more recently friends, come and go. Life has been pared down to essential simplicity, and we only rarely break our rhythm.
To stay in solitude I’m learning to be selective about letting the outside world in. I’m aware of the barrage of injustices that call for our attention and action, and I’m also aware of the many privileges that allow me to bury my head in my writing, and this drives me to keep working. Inner Landscaping, the book I'm writing, is my way of participating in the changes that must happen, and are happening.
Zoom gatherings have become a cherished space, but call me old fashioned, online groups will never replace the magic of a group of women coming together IRL (in real life) with a common purpose. That is the biggest thing I crave, being with a group of women in celebration of creativity. I guess that is why I love our retreats so much - they feed my soul in a way that little else can. Whilst I need and want to stay in solitude until my Inner Landscaping writing is done I do crave our groups and retreats.
In the meantime, I have been regularly zooming with a few groups of women since March and they have been key to maintaining a healthy state of mind. Two groups have lasted the entire 3 months and will no doubt continue regardless of virus restrictions, others will hopefully soon revert to in-person meetings and before we know it we’ll be dancing in the Yoga Barn with Blondie singing “In the Flesh” (you know who you are).
There have been more difficult, darker moments too before isolation morphed into solitude. Gloom set in with angst about not deserving this life, heartache for those not as fortunate, solastalgia, and Headline Stress Disorder, but even in these pits of despair I laughed about my misery with my ‘Marigolds’ zoom group.
Our group name ‘Marigolds’ is inspired by the film, The Last Exotic Marigold Hotel. We are a group of 6 women who connected doing Inner Landscaping in Bali. We now live in 3, sometimes 4 different continents, we’re all aged 55-60 years and we simply have so much fun together that we’re designing a shared lifestyle that will enable us to spend a minimum of 4 months each year living together.
‘Marigolds’ dream is to celebrate life, thriving together with joy, connection, creativity, inspiration, and a lot of laughter. It looks like our next foray will be a 3-month combo. First, a bespoke retreat that we’re designing for ourselves right here at Springfield (think heartfelt conversations, amazing food, pampering, Farmer Pete’s Gin, playful creativity, and deep immersion into the beauty of nature) and then a convoy of VW Kombi vans trippin’ around NZ. This time with the Marigolds will be my prize once this book is finally written.
So, for now, there will be no going back to normal life for me, my new normal is my writing bubble. I choose not to be swept away into the hectic rhythm of ordinary life again. For now, I choose to be a kind of curated hermit, rarely venturing outside Springfield’s gates. Here I will stay, writing about consciously curating a creative life, not just for me and my life, but because now more than ever I believe that we need to be actively engaged in imagining what Charles Eisenstein calls “the more beautiful world that we all know is possible.”
by Kinchem Hegedus