Online book club: Present Over Perfect 2 — sea change

Wednesday, February 1, 2017 3:58 pm
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Elaine Fraser | 98five guest blogger

This is part two of Jodie McCarthy’s, Amanda Viviers’ and Elaine Fraser’s online book club.

I ended last year with a crash. Running on adrenalin and coffee for years on end, allowing my body, mind and soul to fracture resulted in a ‘frantic and frayed’ life.

I craved silence. I craved a slower, considered, quieter, soulful life. I hankered for the days before the tyranny of social media and 24/7 connectivity. A life driven by the pings of notifications drew me away from living in the moment, to living online at the whim of whatever popped up on my screen.

I picked up my copy of Shauna Niequist’s Present Over Perfect and used it as a way to walk through anxiety, depression and exhaustion. I blogged about the journey and posted quotes on Instagram. So many people contacted me privately to say that they too were exhausted.

I’m beginning this year with a full-body plunge into ‘quiet, connection and simplicity’.

But, this year is also a year of travel for me. My husband is riding a motorbike around the world to raise awareness for Water for Africa. I’ll be meeting up with him at various points, but mostly I’ll be travelling alone.

Travel can be hectic and noisy and uncomfortable, so we’ve built in retreats, rest and slower paced experiences so that we will come home at the end of the year with a fresh mindset.

This is a sea-change year for both of us.

A year of setting sail into new waters, breaking old patterns, and hopefully, arriving in calmer waters at the end of the year.

Living out of a suitcase and the panniers of a motorbike will reduce our world to few possessions. It’s a chance to find out what we really value, what we’ll miss, what we won’t miss, and even perhaps show us a new way of living.

This year, I’m challenging myself to finish two books and find space to be inspired to write more — along with completing a year of bucket list experiences as I ‘write around the world’.

It’s going to be a full year, a busy year, but it won’t be a frantic and frazzled year because we’re building space into the schedule.

A slow cruise along the coast of Norway, a week alone in a cottage in Massachusetts, a week on a writing retreat in Tuscany and climbing Mt Kilimanjaro, are part of my year of sea change.

Your slow boat in Norway might be camping in the bush.

Your cottage in Massachusetts might be a stolen hour with a cup of tea before the children wake.

Your writing retreat might be a day a week in a café to write.

Your Kilimanjaro may be running up and down Jacob’s Ladder.

If you would like to join or follow the journey of Amanda’s, Jodie’s and Elaine’s book club, make sure to check back at every Monday, Wednesday and Friday or view their schedule here.

Whatever your sea change may be, the challenge of this chapter is really about learning a way to travel through life with ‘quiet, connection and simplicity’ — a way of travelling that takes us from frantic and frazzled to present and peaceful. When we have an inciting incident in our lives, an epiphany, a realisation that cause us to change, people may point at us and say we’re going through a midlife crisis or even a menopausal moment, but it’s not. It’s an unravelling of our old way of living which causes us to embrace life in a new way. Free from expectations of what we should be doing or what others think we should be doing, we can just be ourselves.

Crossing over to a new way of living can feel like wrapping yourself in a blanket of love and shielding yourself from the big scary world or it can be like climbing a mountain with your chest bursting from the lack of oxygen and you wonder if you’ll ever make it.

Being present isn’t always perfect.

Being present isn’t always easy.

Being present is living. Attraversiamo! (Let’s Cross Over)

This week’s book club question: Are you ready for a sea change? What will it take for you to cross over to another way of living?

Perth local Elaine Fraser is author of the Beautiful books. For many years she taught English and Drama in secondary schools. Prompted by the desire to inspire young women to live the lives they were destined for, she encourages women to develop characteristics in their lives that create beauty. Beauty, according to Elaine, should be the whole package — body, soul and spirit. Kindness, love, joy, peace and strength build qualities into lives that transcend physical beauty. She and her husband Steve Fraser, a world-renowned photographer and Ambassador for Water for Africa, travel the world giving time to NGOs as well as taking photos and searching for creative inspiration. | Follow Elaine on Facebook | Twitter

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