Chapter 2 - Celebrating 20 years of Sharing my Love of Yoga with You
THE BIG MOVE WEST
While the world was getting used to entering a new millennium and the clocks ticked over to the year 2000, we were starting to think about a career move. I hadn’t returned to work after my maternity leave and instead launched a mail order/internet business with my beautiful friend Leah. Looking back I can see what a crazy thing this was to do with tiny children in tow, but we did it and learnt so much along the way, and most importantly still have a very special friendship. Thankfully this business was fairly transportable so when JB started to look at other job opportunities we were pretty confident we could juggle it all. It wasn’t too long before an offer came his way and we accepted a position in north western NSW in Walgett much to the shock of most of our family and friends. This seemed to be a very, very long way away – but we were up for the adventure and JB was keen to continue working with the Co-op business model. So, in June of 2000 we packed up our little family , Grace aged 2 ½ and Eve just 1, and we headed west over the hills to the wide, open plains.
I still remember the moment our car turned west near Wee Waa and there in front of us was the flattest land I had ever seen in my life and a very long straight road that seemed to disappear into the distance. My emotions ran high, and the tears ran down my cheeks as this move seemed all of sudden like the worst decision of my life. It wouldn’t be the last time I would cry at this turn off. There were many occasions when after a tearful farewell to my parents I would make the long drive back from Newcastle to Walgett with two little ones, reach this point, take a few long, deep breathes and steel myself for the next few months until I could visit family again. In time it did get easier, but it was a very heavy feeling in the beginning.
JB threw himself straight into his new job while I started to settle into our new environment. With his encouragement I headed off to the local playgroup to meet other mums in the district and with the same nervous energy I had taken into my very first yoga class 5 years earlier, I gathered up Grace and Eve, nappy bag and pram and headed into meet another new group of women. It was here that I would meet not only a room full of wonderful people but two very special women who would become life-long friends, Nelly and Annie.
This stepping out of my comfort zone really was the key to settling into Walgett. It was a town that didn’t have a great reputation marred by riots in the 80’s among other social issues leaving the main street shops with bars covering many of the windows. Having grown up on the coast in my own little white girl bubble, I never really had anything to do with our indigenous population, so this move was a huge learning curve for me to increase my understanding and respect of the issues that impact this huge proportion of the Walgett population which at that time was about 70%. The wider community was/is like so many other small townships that rely upon their farmers for much of the economic drive. and the strength, resilience and spirit of this is extraordinary. In the time we were there we experienced floods that cut us off for weeks and drought that bought some to near collapse, and through both saw the very best come out in people. A community filled with concern for others, love of the land and a passion and drive that is unrivaled by many of their corporate city cousins. This was my first experience of community in this way.
But one thing that Walgett didn’t have was a yoga class. I was keen to continue my practice so I started to do my homework and discovered that there was a teacher in Lightning Ridge just an hour away who ran classes. Not long after Vicki agreed to travel to Walgett for a weekly class and we were back on the mat as I found others were also very excited to join me. Unfortunately, these classes didn’t last very long, so we were again left without a teacher. Now you must remember that back then we didn’t have the option of online classes zooming into our living room, so no teacher meant no yoga – unless you were incredibly disciplined and motivated with your own practice. I certainly wasn’t at that time. I was just a regular exhausted mother of two toddlers and running my home-based business in a place that felt like the middle of nowhere.
That was when I remembered something my yoga teacher Jenny had said to me a few years before - that she thought I should consider doing my teacher training.
I did my research to find out if there was a way to learn remotely and yes there was. I quickly signed up to one of the diploma courses that meant I could work from home and attend residential weeks in Sydney throughout the year. They would send me cassette tapes (remember those) to listen to the lectures on and then I would submit my assignments as required. On top of this I had to find a yoga teacher who could mentor me throughout, so I found a great teacher in Wee Waa and drove the 3-hour round trip each week to attend her classes and have sessions with her.
Next, I had to find some keen volunteers who I could practice my new learnings upon. This was a simple task as there were quite a few friends who were keen. So, I started to hire one of the local church halls and before too long our little group of 6 was regularly at 15. I remember being so nervous, but the fact that no-one was paying, and everyone knew I was just learning took so much pressure off me and I was able to develop my teaching skills on my new found guinea pigs.
It was through this third year in Walgett that the drought was hitting incredibly hard, so when we were given the opportunity to sign a new contract to stay, we decided to decline and started looking for our next adventure. I do remember this being a very challenging time. I had my second miscarriage, I was still studying and working from home, we had no job lined up to go to and we were packing up our house and putting it all into storage while we waited for the right doors to open before us and show us where to go. I still remember this being such a huge leap of faith but a richly rewarding one. I was given a great book by a dear friend called “Just Enough Light for the Step I’m On” and it was such an important reminder to trust the process, not rush it, and just make decisions based on what’s in front of you right now – not tomorrow, not next month, just the present moment!
So we left ……….