Life in Tasmania – Week 2

Last week was all about slowing down and creating space for simple things. This week was all about settling in and creating a sense of home. Living in Tasmania which is still a very much new territory for us, it’s natural for us to feel a little out of place and isolated (especially being away from family and friends). So we decided to concentrate on making our new place comfortable and spend more time in the house in order to familiarise ourselves with the space, and stay “local”.

Although we didn’t bring so much stuff here from where we lived in Sydney as we could only fit so much in the car and wanted to enjoy the simplicity of “having less”, we did bring things that make help us stay grounded (i.e. comfort objects) including: a scented candle, a couple of books we love reading including Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and JoyBook by Sarah Ban Breathnach (which is all about finding abundance and joy in everyday life) and of course some toys our children love playing with (and which keep them occupied when we need a little break!). Having these comfort objects in the new house, not to mention a bunch of fresh flowers that do make you smile and feel welcome when you walk in the house, does make a big difference both emotionally and physically.

The weather has gotten a lot cooler over the last week, so much so that we have already started using the little fireplace in the house (and it’s not even Winter yet!). One night we turned all the light off in the house, sat down on the couch in front of the fireplace and watched the beautiful log burning slowly, creating bright orange flames and crunch sounds that our 2-year-old son was completely fascinated by. People often asked us how we were going to deal with the cold weather in Tasmania (being so close to Antarctica) when we told them about our move. We found the last few summers in Sydney endlessly long, way too hot and humid (in fact, it had the record-breaking hot April) for our liking, thanks to global warming… So we are actually loving the cold and refreshing weather here so far and looking forward to having snow here in the next couple of months.

As one of the ways to celebrate and embrace the cold Autumn here, we’ve also been cooking and eating lots of soup, curries and casseroles with seasonal vegetables. The apples and mandarins are in season here and they are so sweet – the kids absolutely love them. Julian, our 2-year-old, learnt how to peel Mandarins by himself with his chubby little fingers. Serena, our 7-month-old, eats and enjoys all kinds of fruits and veggies (especially corns!) despite the fact she only has two teeth. We get all our fruit and veggies from the local Hill St. Grocer that has a wide range of fresh local picks that are beautifully stocked in store (it is the Harris Farm equivalent of independence produce grocer in Tasmania, but much smaller). We’re lucky to have one within walking distance.

Cooking is definitely becoming big part of our day-to-day activities that we like to do it creatively, slowly and mindfully, especially now that we have more time and space (and not having a huge variety of take-away restaurants in the area or convenience of ordering food online also helps!). One thing I do miss about being in Sydney a lot is having a Korean/Asian grocer nearby to buy the spices and Kimchi (to make the traditional spicy Kimchi Soup, etc.) from, but apparently there is one in Sandy Bay that I’m very keen to check out soon. Good news is that we discovered an awesome Korean restaurant located on a stylish main street of North Hobart called Kalbi, we have already been there twice and loved everything (especially their specialty – Galbi) we tried. As a native Korean, I highly recommend it to anyone who likes or would like to try Korean food in Hobart.

This week, my partner started on a new client project so he has been working from home everyday. Looking after (and spending 24/7 with) two small children on my own has been challenging (although he is around and helps out when necessary) especially I’m used to having my in-laws around for help. Yet it’s been a good challenge for me to spend every moment with them, in terms of understanding and prioritising their needs in alignment with their current growth phases. Their sleep pattern is also changing, maybe because of the change in the environment, temperature, etc. As a result, I am a little more tired than usual and certainly haven’t been the most enthusiastic and playful Mummy this week, but when I am with them I try my best to stay fully present, choosing the act of “being” over “doing”. Whenever I feel too exhausted to do “play actively” with my son (e.g. jumping on the trampoline, chasing each other, playing hide-and-seek, etc.), I simply put on some music, start singing and gently dancing along (or just with arms if we are sitting down). It is not only stimulating and entertaining enough for them, but also uplifting enough for me to forget about being so tired. I also enjoyed reading books to them and sharing hot chocolate in the afternoon sun. You know, doing the little things that don’t cost much energy (they can actually be very energising) or money. After all, I have survived this week and the whole family is healthy and alive!

 

Next week, my son will start going to an early learning centre in the local area which means he (and I) will be making new local friends. We are very much looking forward to developing and having a sense of community here (which will make or break our decision to settle long-term in Tasmania at the end of our 6-month trial). At the end of the day, things take time and we are aware of the importance of taking our time and letting things unfold naturally, instead of forcing things to happen. All we can do is take each day (or week) as it comes… 🙂

Life in Tasmania – Week 1

Despite the fact it has only been a week since we arrived in our new place where we will call “home” for the next 6 months in Tasmania, we feel settled already. Our base is located in the Kingston Beach area, about a 15-minute drive down south from Hobart CBD, yet it feels like miles away from it (even Hobart CBD seems like a “town center” rather than a city, having lived in big cities like Seoul and Sydney all my life, which I said goodbye to for now, if not forever). The neighbourhood is known for being very family-friendly. Our place just a quick stroll down to the beach and nearby bush walks being surrounded by mountains. It is an unbelievably beautiful (and under-rated) part of Australia.

The first 24 hours after my parents-in-law (who came with us from Sydney here to help us settle in the first few days) left were filled with a mixture of extreme feelings, ranging from sadness related to a sense of loss – that is – loss of our “old life” and of our support network (family and friends in Sydney) to excitement for the beginning of our “new life” in Tasmania as a family of four. One moment I would say to my partner “Sh*t, what the heck have we done to ourselves?” and “Wow – we have made it!” the next. Apparently he felt the same way. Our 2-year-old and 7-month-old seemed more or less unaffected by the whole change. Children can be so much more resilient than adults, more often than not.

Two things we have noticed in our first week in Tasmania so far are: slowness and spaciousness. To pursue a more peaceful and joyful lifestyle here, we decided not to fill days with plans in advance but take each day as it comes. This means waking up in the morning slowly and enjoying our breakfast slowly instead of rushing to go somewhere. It also means there is more space for being spontaneous and taking time to enjoy simple things like jumping on the trampoline, playing hide and seek, blowing bubbles in the sunshine or walking and making sandcastles on the beach. We find that slowness breeds spaciousness (and vice versa!).  Thanks to the “purest air on earth” Tasmania has to offer, we simply love being outside (despite the cold weather, compared to the mainland) and breathing in the fresh air deeply and slowly.

There were moments where I had the urge to participate in more “stimulating” activities like checking out tourist attractions, going to theatres and concerts, attending and organising social events, etc. but deep down I knew this urge came from the old part of me that was addicted to busy-ness and seeking external stimulus rather than inner peace. Living in a slow-paced place like Tasmania, I believe, offers a great opportunity to challenge myself to resist this urge (and the future-oriented mind that keeps asking “what’s next?”) but instead bring myself to the present moment (i.e. the here-and-now) and immerse fully in doing and enjoying simple things with my family. There is never a dull moment with small children who are full of wonder and joy in whatever they do and wherever they are. Even when we play hide-and-seek with our 2-year-old son over and over again, every single day, he manages to find new ways and places to hide and have fun no matter how many times we play it. When we allow ourselves to be playful and flexible instead of serious and rigid, we surprise ourselves with how creative and spontaneous we can be, just like children.

Here is a few snapshots of the simple yet beautiful moments from our first week:

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Next week, my partner will start working on a new project which means I will be spending more time with my children alone as the primary carer. So I am hoping to come up with fun and creative activities we can enjoy together day-to-day in the house, in the backyard and at the local beaches and parks that incorporate both play and learning, both nature and culture. Most importantly, I want us to make the most of this slow and spacious lifestyle we have started to live by bringing our full presence in each and every moment spent together – especially before I start working again in July (which may add a bit more complexity to the lifestyle), and of course before the Tasmanian weather gets too cold to call it crisp, we will see how things change then…

Overall, we’re loving it here.