The Rural Woman: Wealth Retreat

In all honesty money has always been a bit of a mystery to me. I know it’s necessary to live in our current system, but my focus in life has been more about living well, not to simply create financial wealth. Finding a balance where you earn enough money to support your needs and help you move forward is something I believe to be extremely important, which is why I took the plunge and booked myself into this retreat. Leaving my family behind for a few days was a new experience, but one I felt I had to have in order to give myself the love and care I needed so as to provide them with the abundance of love and care that they need from me. Nurturing abundance, in both a psychological and monetary sense, was the essence of this retreat. Our guide was the holistic finance guru Dianna Jacobsen who focuses on empowering women to realise their dreams and take charge of their wealth. There was less of a focus on numbers and more of a focus on wellbeing, self love, worthiness & building foundations for a life of abundance, based on gratitude and beliefs.

Below is a visual diary of the confronting yet empowering experience I embarked on throughout this adventure. I say confronting, as the digging deep into myself to discover what guided my beliefs about money and self worth (or the lack there of) was confronting, but the realisation of what has been driving my decisions and actions to date was very much empowering! These pics are only those taken on my phone. They don’t show everything the retreat offered, such as the massage, webinar & workshops (hosted by Rebel Black founder of The Rural Woman), breakfasts, lunches, fireside chats, tears shared (during Christine’s session which was meant to encourage us to embrace today in order minimise regrets in the future),  along with stories told about each person’s life journey and the mineral baths (no photos to share of those sorry, you need to experience those for yourself). I completely immersed myself in this retreat and set my phone aside most of the time. Hopefully though there is enough there to inspire you to do what you need to; to nurture yourself and perhaps take the time out of your busy life to reconnect with yourself and regain your inner strength. This retreat certainly did that for me, I arrived feeling raw and broken inside and left feeling I had it within me to repair that brokenness and stride forward. Oh and then there were the friends I collected along the way… an added bonus!

VISUAL DIARY:

{Night before the retreat} I arrived in Daylesford the night before after a very long and tiring drive with the last 2 hours being along goat tracks by starlight with next to no phone reception, guided only by the voice of the Google maps navigator, in an unfamiliar car graciously loaned to me by dear friends (as our car broke down that morning, just as I was set to leave for the 7 hour drive). I’d booked a room at the delightful Daylesford Hotel for the first night to give myself a chance to drive and capture some images of the inspiring landscape along the way, and ease into the experience rather than simply drive all morning then throw myself wearily into the meet and great & first workshop session on the Monday afternoon.

The morning of the retreat: I awoke to the fantastic view of a lovely country town, much bigger than I expected it to be… arriving in the dark the night before meant I had no idea of what the place looked like. So, I drove around for a while familiarising myself of where I was and where I needed to be that afternoon, then looked for somewhere inspiring to eat and when I saw a sign with simply the word LARDER written on it, I knew I’d found that place. It did not disappoint…

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Larder for brunch and brain storming

{The retreat begins} Upon arrival at 65 Main, Christine Lewis the guesthouse owner and host greeted each of us with her vibrant smile and bubbly personality… spoiled us with gifts sourced locally and from small time producers and we were made to feel extremely welcome and at ease. Our first workshop sessions with Dianna & Rebel on our beliefs, our energy and introducing new ideas to our subconscious were extremely thought provoking. Ending day 1 by walking down the street to dine in a beautifully restored old house come restaurant The Grande, which I did not take photos of… but it was magical, warming, the food tantalised our taste buds & our waitstaff Owen & Renai were very attentive… and Renai lit up the room every time she walked in. Conversations & wine flowed at a steady pace and the sharing of stories began, we were all connected by common threads feel at ease, if not at home, there together even after only being in each others presence for a few hours we became friends.

{Dinner on day 2}  After a rather confronting experience of digging deep within ourselves to gain a better understanding of what our story on money is (intense) followed by a full body massage and the message delivered loud and clear by my masseur that I really need to learn to ‘let go’… working on that! We all freshen up and headed out to the two hatted restaurant The Lake House. Every part of that experience was amazing, from the grounds, the buildings, the decor, the wine, the personalised menu, each course served was a work of art and tasted sensational! Connections between participants continued to grow and strengthen.

{The Convent Gallery on Day 3} After another series of workshops (including one by Dianna on managing finances in a positive way & another by Kerry Griffith’s on self love), this time less confronting and more empowering, we headed out to The Convent Gallery on an empowered high… we were given a guided tour of the intriguing buildings, and had the opportunity to hear from Tina Banitska (the owner) directly about her very own journey of turning her dreams into reality. I could have sat and listened to Tina speak all day, her foundation building childhood experiences, passion for life and love of story telling was very much akin to that of my own story… I absorbed as much of her energy as physically possible and wanted to plead that we stay longer even though we were already behind time. However, they did manage to pry me out of there and I am glad they did as what followed was like nothing I have ever experienced… we then spent the next 2 hours soaking in mineral baths at Hepburn Bathhouse. A first for me and like nothing I have ever experienced, such a blissful way of spending the afternoon… the conversations flowed as we let the bubbles from jets massage our bodies again, next we floated in the therapeutic salt pool and ended off with time lost in the semi outdoor hot pool, as the sunset and the temperature dropped, which made us appreciate the comforting warmth of the hot pool even more, time simply slipped away, further connections were made, information exchanged and new friendships formed. What an experience… one to be had again that’s for sure.

{After letting our cares float away} The retreat had come to end, but the fun had not, some of us decided to make the most of our time together and ability to take advantage of our flexibility so we headed out to dinner again. Thanks to Christine we were introduced to a fantastic little locals haunt Cliffy’s where we bumped into the delightful waitress Renai (from our first nights dinner at The Grande) and Tina (owner of the Convent Gallery) whom I truly hoped to cross paths with again… voi la, there she was, it was enough to simply see her again I did not have to engage in an extensive conversation to benefit from her presence… at that point the priority was to converse with my new found & treasured friends, although we had only just met 2 days earlier we had a strong thread connecting us all and it felt like we’d known each other for years.

{A new person} On the last day of my adventure I took my new found inner strength and sparks of a new and improved version of me to come, and set out to take in the beauty that surrounded me, capturing images that spoke of a desired lifestyle using my DSLR camera to really capture the essence of each scene… I will share these images with you in my next post. My love of capturing the beauty of living through a lens was reignited that day, rather than simply using my camera as a tool for taking product shots I am inspired to follow my hearts desire and capture shots that represent a way of living…

As founder of The Rural Woman Rebel Black says: “may you bloom where you are planted.”

That is my wish for you too… along with accepting who you are and living out dreams, your individual gifts are valuable don’t let them be submerged in the name of doing, start being!

<<= by marie-nicole =>>

xx

 

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Dream ~ Create ~ Inspire

The question is often asked of me: “Why do you sell at markets when your online store is doing so well?” The simple answer to that is; “Contact with people, both the customers and fellow market stall holders!”

Working for yourself from home can mean many hours spent in solitude, while it’s lovely having conversations with customers from all around the world through my online store those conversations do not include body language, facial expressions and other people joining in the conversation. I choose to work from home not because I don’t like being around other people, my decision to work from home has been based on so many reasons, some financial, some practical and although it may seem idyllic to some, spending all that time alone and being completely in charge of your own time, the reality is that at times it can also be very lonely. Of course, I could just step outside my studio, grab a coffee down the street, venture into town and meander through our local boutiques, attend yoga classes and catch up with friends, all of which I  do. While these interactions are lovely they are often brief in the grand scheme of events over the course a week’s work and there is still the need to earn an income to contribute to our families needs… which requires actual work to take place. Trading at markets however, means that while we’re unloading the car, setting & packing up our stalls, in between engaging with customers during quiet periods, there is the opportunity talk to fellow stall holders (fellow artisan’s) and to get to know other people earning a living in similar way to me. Trading along side each other enables us to get to know each other on a deeper level, rather than if we were to simply visit markets as a shopper.  One such couple I have met and become friends with through trading at markets is Wendy Lees & Anthony Hoy trading as Vetro e Metallo. We have traded along side each other regularly at the Old Bus Depot Markets in Kingston, ACT. Anyone who knows me in person will know I am a huge fan of their work and wear many of their pieces of jewellery daily.

Two special pieces of my Vetro E Metallo jewellery collection

Here are two very special custom made pieces from my Vetro e Metallo jewellery collection

Over the last few years, we’ve shared stories of what led us to trade at markets, the challenges we’ve faced being self employed, dealing also isolation, buying our own homes… etc. We’ve also discovered that our shared interests extend beyond trading at markets but also into a way of living, growing food, cooking, a love of animals, recycling materials not just for our work but our homes.

Recently we visited their new home, a magnificent old building in Braidwood which was originally a cordial factory and eventually became a mechanics workshop… their large block in the middle of the town also has two to very large sheds (now their workshops and storage space) and enough grounds to establish a garden and outdoor sanctuary. They had only been in their new home for three months when we visited and I was absolutely amazed at the transformation they had made to this building, and in such a short period of time. With the assistance of trades people they have taken this workshop and converted it into an amazing home. Stripping back the layers of oil built up on the timber floors, installing a kitchen, wood heater, bathroom and a collection of stunning copper light fittings, including one made by Anthony himself.  It should’t have÷ surprised me, their talents and skills demonstrated in their business should have been enough of an indication of their capabilities in anything that they would turn their heads, hearts and hands to. They are the perfect example of artisan living and what passion, drive and dedication can enable people to achieve.

Anthony & Wendy with Chugga

Anthony, Wendy & Chugga in their spectacular new home.

So even though some trading days at markets may be slow, there is always something to be gained from being there, such as the chance to build on the friendships developed with other market stall holders… these friendships are worth so much more than money. So when I say trading at markets is not all about making money, I really mean it. When you set your own career path and do not fit into any moulds, it can at times feel like you have three heads, so meeting other people who are just like you, but in their own individual way is so very comforting. Meeting people like Wendy and Anthony, witnessing their journey is extremely inspiring and encouraging. I look forward to seeing what their new home will evolve into as they add the additions they spoke so passionately about that day… in the mean time I will continue to take inspiration from what they already achieved through these few snap shots and I hope that they inspire you too! (pics below)

Vetro e Metallo have a stall at four different markets regularly, three of which they trade at each week, so be sure to check their website for market details.

Below is a quote I came across via Instagram, which seems rather fitting:

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dream ~ create ~ inspire

<<= by marie-nicole =>>

xx

DSC_9533 Wendy Lee & Anthony Hoy Handcrafted by Anthony Hoy

All images in this post are by marie-nicole copyright 2015

Local currency ~ Local economy

Last weekend our neighbours got together for a street bonfire. This was our first neighbourhood get together and the first time that we met some of our neighbours properly. So this was a pretty important get together for our family. Getting to know your neighbours is important, but even more so in a small village. So the night kicked off with lots of introductory chatter and as the bonfire burnt down to a beautiful large bed of glowing coals and night’s sky was alight with the sparkle of stars, the conversation stemmed into deeper more meaningful topics. We discovered over the course of this gathering that our new neighbourhood attracted many like minded residents even though we were all from different backgrounds with different journey’s through life. Yet here we were, our paths colliding in this little village in the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales, and with similar aspirations.

My hubby, who is a Geography teacher at the local high school, came across an article on transition towns in his research for a class. He read it to me one night while I was making dinner in the week leading up to this neighbourhood get together and we then discussed the possibility of introducing a local currency in our region… the idea of which seems quite plausible in our opinion when you consider the range skills and talents that reside within our region. So on the night of the bonfire as conversations progressed and common interests were discovered we brought up this idea of a local currency and as a group we discussed how we thought this could work, along with how a barter system would benefit our community. There was much laughter and joking about unlikely fictitious scenarios of how this could work, but there was also a serious side to the conversation about how ideas that instigate long term change often commence in situations such as this, in a social setting.  This discussion went deeper and continued for much longer than we could have foreseen and at the end of the evening we walked away feeling chuffed about our fellow community members and the like mindedness of our new found friends.

The next day however, I found myself wondering where I fitted into this picture… amongst the contributors to this conversation by the bonfire was a teacher, a tradesman, a police officer, an architect, a farmer & me… an artisan. What need would the others have for an artisan in their community? How foolish of me to even think that really, especially after running this business for 7 years now to be doubting the need for my skill set was completely unnecessary, but occasional self doubt is the nature of being a creative type. After thinking on this a little more I managed to talk myself back into thinking that everyone has a purpose in a community.

The more I thought I about this the more I realised that all of us had these occupations in our current system but what if we operated in a different way, in a way that our skills and interests were what contributed directly to our community. Would we all offer different services & products to what we do now in our current occupations which we use to earn our income? The participants in this conversation also had sideline interests such as growing food & preserving the harvest, raising livestock of the feathered, furry & bristly kind, restoring vintage cars, restoring batteries, writing children’s stories and more. So if we were all to contribute to our community’s needs as a matter of survival each one of us could bring a series of skills in various fields that could provide for the needs of our village.

Our neighbourhood bonfire was a great example of how everyone can contribute with their own skills and resources. One person  hosted the bonfire on their vacant block, another brought a bobcat to gather more firewood from surrounding farmland and push the pile up together for greater burning power, another brought their ute to assist with the gathering of wood… our boys assisted by opening and closing gates and unloading the ute, while others contributed by making food to add to the buffet… ourselves included.

As an artisan who focuses on minimising waste, using resources for more than one purpose to the point of using the entire resource, this way of being can be translated into many areas of life… we as a couple also have a many ideas of how we’d like to contribute to our community. Engaging in this discussion around the bonfire with our fellow villager’s left us feeling encouraged about what the future could hold for our children & our children’s children. The transition town movement is already in place which says that there are people willing to make it happen. As a human race, steward’s of the earth, it up to us to care for this world not just watch it slowly diminish and claim no contribution to its demise. And as individuals we are each born with a gift and special talent unique to each of us that we first need to discover, recognise, hone in on and then utilise to for the benefit of our local and global community… not just ourselves.

So I’d like to encourage you to think about your skills and interests and consider how you could contribute to your community.

<<== by marie-nicole ==>>

xx

Ps. For inspiration on making the most of your ‘inner legend’ as Regena Thomashauer puts it, head on over to the Marie Forleo website and watch the espisode “The Art of Creation Through Your Desire

no [wo]man is an island…

“No man is an island” by John Donne

This quote has been hot topic in our little home over the past few weeks… particularly in relation to how what we choose to engage in can affect those around us, at times the affect is a negative one on others even if we do not mean for it to be. This affect can be in your immediate surroundings or it could be abroad, choices we make daily affect more than just ourselves. Aside from this though we’ve also discussed how in order for us to achieve our family goals we rely on everyone contributing.

Over the weekend while hubby & I worked together in the kitchen preserving our harvest Master 12 was outside digging a new garden bed so we could plant more garlic and Master 7 assisted him, by helping take out the rocks that lay beneath the soil. Aside for the physical assistance, just having someone else working along side of Master 12 while he dug the bed seemed to provide the extra motivation he needed to complete the task. Upon completion of which, both the boys came inside, joined us in the kitchen and shared stories of their experience digging the bed. It was wonderful to see them beaming with a such sense of achievement and teamwork.

This same sort of support and encouragement often takes place between hubby and I, at times one will set to work on a task and that the other may not feel inclined to commence but the simple fact that one of us has started the other naturally starts to assist, resulting in not only the task being completed faster but with us sharing the burden or in most cases the joy! Even as a sole trader I too rely on the support of others to achieve my goals, in many different forms, a small example of that this week was having three separate people in my network of friends source blankets on my behalf.

Over the course of the years, I have had many people contribute to my ‘rescued & repurposed’ mission, from furniture for our home to resources for my work. I also rely on the knowledge and skills of others that I myself do not have or have not yet developed. It is impossible to be everything all at once, so even as a sole trader enlisting the help of others is necessary, as is being open to working with others who compliment your skill set and fill in the gaps. Something that my husband and I have developed over the years in our home is the understanding of which skills and strengths we each have that enable us to work together to achieve our goals more effectively. Letting someone else lead is not letting go of a sense of self if have more skill or natural ability in an area. We often swap the leading role depending on the task at hand. Unfortunately we are not in a position at the moment where we can work side by side full time career wise, but our personal skills, goals and aspirations compliment each other and would be well suited to a working collaboration. Even if we were working together, it is would still be important to stay physically connected to a network of people beyond our four walls or fences… which is why I have volunteered my time over the years to community groups. Ofcourse I still rely on earning an income through my own work and cannot devote all my time, but providing the physical [wo]man power required to make positive changes within our community is so very important to both of us.

Fostering a sense of pride, connectedness despite difference and building on skills within a community is something we have both had as personal and career goals for many years. We have always hoped to contribute in this way to the community in which we bought our own place in… now that that time has come, the seed inside us that has lay dormant waiting for just the right conditions to germinate is starting to sprout. The bigger picture of this goal will require the support of others as well as working in collaboration with others… but it is one that we hope will give back threefold, so nurturing this sprouting seed has become all the more important right now. It is exciting to be in this position and see the possibilities of bigger dreams reaching the point of possibly becoming reality. But… “no [wo]man is an island”… there is still a lot more work to be done!

Hoping you too feel connectedness… with your community… in both the physical and digital realm.

<<= by marie-nicole =>>

xx