Tree Change: are you just swapping one set of problems for another?

I moved to regional Victoria was because I wanted to feel free.

For years I’d travel to work in Melbourne by car, train or tram and have this terrible sense that something was wrong. I couldn’t put my finger on it and I certainly couldn’t label or name what I was feeling. All I knew is that I felt chained, trapped and unfulfilled.

It was like being dead, but alive.

The day my husband and I drove our removal van from Pakenham to Heathcote, a joyous sense of freedom and release came over me. But it was temporary.

As I was to find out, releasing oneself from the bind has many knots.

While I felt an enormous sense of detachment and peace, thanks to my physical surroundings (trees, mountains, earth), I found myself enveloped in another fast-paced and challenging 9-5 role. Was it really all that different?

After 18 months I took a leap to write a book and start a business. But the feeling of freedom became too much - there was no structure or direction. In a rural community the isolation was overwhelming.

I then decided to combine the two. It hasn’t been easy. Journalism is not writing. There are days that I don’t feel particularly ‘free’ at all. Hey, I’m human. But there are days that I realise that there IS no better job for me. There’s always going to be challenge, no matter which path you take.

They say tree change can be swapping one set of problems for another. If you’re inclined to think this way it’s true. But there would have be NO way I could have developed a career in economic development and journalism IF I’d stayed in the city. It’s too competitive. And to be honest, I wouldn’t have given government the time of day.

Journalism with a community focus is rewarding. I get to see something for my effort each week.

I can’t walk down the street without having at least one in-depth conversation about a potential story. People pull me aside and tell me how my stories have impacted them. It’s not all cartoons and cheezels, but I can tell that what I do, MATTERS.

Over the last three years my husband and I have worked hard on the financial freedom part. It’s not what you think. It’s finding work that we love and that we are good at.... that brings in more than enough, with some left over.

Do we really need the excess?

I mean, really?

Freedom is an inside job. Moving to the country has given me the opportunity to slow down and work out what I want. What works for me. It’s like peeling back the layers of an onion. I don’t think I’ll ever get ‘there’ and I’m not sure I’m meant to. Travelling beyond city boundaries has taken me on a journey.

And you know what, that’s the destination.