In September 2014 I left home! The plan was simple, I had discovered international house-sitting!  My mind got so excited at the prospect of being back in Europe that I wrote to every prospective home owner on the website that I could find, hoping that one of them would say yes.  And one did!  My first sit was to be in Normandy, France for a whole month.  Over the moon excitement filled the next few months of preparation – selling everything I could get my hands on to keep me going for how ever long I could stay away.

So many friends, relatives, and strangers who got to know of my quest, called me Courageous/Brave; in French Formidable; in German Stark; in Serbian Corageo.  Why I asked myself?  To be honest, I saw myself as an old fart on a misguided mission to find happiness!  The kind of ‘happiness’ that you remember in your heart.  It seemed as if I had been trying so hard, for so long to be happy and counting my blessings dutifully, but no standout moments of Joy had touched my life for ages.  Life was such a bore being so serious.  

Why then am I so brave in their eyes?  Perhaps, I now realize, it’s because I was going out on the proverbial limb unable to do anything else but try.  And this made me a mirror to others yearning for the same adventure but who were still committed to family and maintaining their current lifestyles.  For me it was time.  If I kept on saying “No” to myself any longer then I would have had to lay down my dreams and crawl under my mundane rock and never again questioned our human situation and all its missing potential, because I would not be entitled to ask for answers to questions I had not discovered or sought after myself.

I once wrote a 10-minute play called “Where is my Happiness, I know I Left it Around Here Somewhere!?”  And as I looked at a world concentrated on becoming successful and ‘financially independent’, (at which I was failing so valiantly) reading books on the Law of Attraction or how to overcome and rewire our poor reptilian brains, I found nothing but Band-Aids to fix the wounds weeping worldwide.  Nice piece of alliteration, don’t you think? Haha. 

The old quote that the easiest way to control the masses is to keep them fearful, is parallel to the more palpable problem that the majority of our citizens find themselves in today – and that is money.  Give ‘em just enough to pay the mortgage and put food on the table but not enough that they don’t need to have the credit card because we need to keep them in debt so that they keep on working so they can pay the mortgage and not be able to complain because they have enough and if they want more, then they’ll just have to become successful like us!  Phew!  Who can keep up with this pursuit of money – it’s killing us?

Listening to myself complain was literally getting me down – I had to put an end to it and just GO.

The time in Normandy on a small farm was very special for me.  It was a chance to drop the person that I had been, swopping the 9 to 5 Administrator for a 6 to 6 Farmhand routine.  I was still overly efficient but that soon gave way to the inimitable French lifestyle of “it gets done when it gets done”.  Very frustrating at first but then very liberating once I adopted a balance of the two qualities to suit my personality and yes, conditioning.  You can’t be efficient for years without some of it rubbing off on your consequent dealings with life!

For the next 12 months, yes twelve months, I made the impossible possible as I went from France to Germany to Austria and finally Montenegro looking after dogs and cats and sheep and chickens galore, haha.

This once refined, uptight, secretary found her mojo again and reunited with Nature and her nature, releasing the fears and self-imposed boundaries that had accumulated over the years.  Even loneliness became less of a burden as I befriended home-owners and strangers alike.  It was liberating to know that the world was pretty similar in many ways.  With or without the local language, one could always communicate with hands and funny faces – thank goodness for my years onstage which helped me to exchange ideas and words through mime gestures and the familiar mummery of shared life experiences e.g., holding a baby in your arms and swaying – everyone knows what you’re talking about don’t they?

The longer I stayed away, the longer I yearned to stop in one place to get hold of all the changes that were taking place in me.  As it turned out that place was Kotor in Montenegro, a medieval, Venetian influenced town on the Bay of Kotorski an extension of the Adriatic Sea.  Topographically, it seems like a Fjord or Sound the way the mountains rise straight up from the sea so dramatically but it was the sense of tranquility created by the protective embrace of those mountains that soothed my ‘Self’ and finally filled my soul with peace.

Excerpt from Me, My Soul & I  which I wrote during that year away…