Taking the train from Brisbane airport after bidding Gayle goodbye as she left for Bali, I did not quite know what to expect of the week ahead. I had met Sascha for about 10 minutes when we drove unexpectedly into her driveway, I had seen the house fleetingly and I knew she owned a company that made art playgrounds. I was definitely enticed.
Getting to the house around dusk was magical. After a long and winding rainforest-surrounded drive up Mount Glorious we went deeper into the forest along the final track leading up to the house. Walking up the wooden stairs lugging my rucksack, backpack, bag and some of the groceries we had just stopped to stock up on I lingered on the terrace before moving to the house, enjoying clean, crisp air, magical rainforest and a view of distant city lights as if to remind you of the very different world left at the foot of the mountain. I was so glad to be there.
With Sascha being the definitive queen of thrift and the owner of fabulous taste, the house was full of delightful discoveries for me. Clean-lined Swedish furniture, a million lights in all shapes and sizes (Sasha collects these), puffy poufs, big floor to ceiling windows overlooking the forest, a fabulous shower that leaves you feeling like you are literally in the trees, a walk-in vintage closet and more vegetables and supplements than you can shake a stick at. Clearly Greta’s very own brand of perfect. On a plate. With an exceedingly sweet and interesting hostess to boot.
The week I spent there was full of the most overwhelming feeling of gratitude imaginable. I felt welcome, so happy to be in such an amazingly beautiful place and incredibly thankful I could use my skills to contribute. This all came at a time when I was actually really craving some ‘formal’ type work, partly to reassure myself that I could still do it well away from my familiar comfort zone and partly because I genuinely missed the creative process around it.
Having worked more on hands-on projects in surroundings quite different from my usual corporate office desk as well as enjoying traveling over the past three-odd months, I often found myself reflecting on the identity-affirming nature of work. With no corporate persona to stand behind, I had to delve deeper to find myself outside that sphere and learn that my value was far beyond the work I felt confident, respected and valued doing. Filled with challenges and pitfalls of confidence (mostly when my comfy jeans and hoodie-decked, backpack-carrying traveler self was faced with the comparison to city-beings all decked up to the nines, much akin to myself just a few months ago), the process is a constant path to self-value and liberation from needing a job to affirm who I am and the expectations attached to that. Not that I don’t want to work, mind you. As I confirmed whenever I worked these past three months, work (in all the diverse formats it has presented itself), is something I actually love.
Small philosophical interjections aside, the week spent on Mount Glorious was the perfect, grounding, nurturing experience I needed. I got to unpack my clothes (I had not done that since French Island), cook and eat fabulous food, walk in the lush rainforest and wake up to the sounds of trees, rain, birds and scurrying animals, have long conversations with a delightful new friend and work on some really fun creative projects. I definitely did not see that coming when Gayle drove into that drive way.