It’s been a while..
I can’t believe it’s been this long since I’ve written, but looking over the last few months it’s easy to see where I couldn’t find the time (or mindset). From falling in love with an old friend, packing everything up to move to the other side of the world to chase my career (and be closer to Tom), to nearly losing him in a boating accident, moving back to Australia to support him through his rehabilitation to walk again, becoming pregnant, still travelling the world, starting my own organisation (Murals for Change) and now writing to you from our little love cabin in the hinterlands of Byron Bay - it’s been a whirlwind to say the least. It feels like this is the first time in the journey that I’ve really had a chance to sit down and integrate these past few months and finally - to share the lessons it brought, with you.
Falling in love
I could tell you about how our first kiss after all these years of playing cat and mouse was in a secluded waterfall, or about how the first night he flew back to Australia and came to stay was also the last time he ever left my heart, about how the world stood still for the three weeks that he was home as we savoured every sunrise, sunset, eating the most incredible food, creating and sharing the most special memories of our lives with our friends, road tripping, laughing uncontrollably almost as often as making love and about how the day he had to leave overseas to go back to work left me balling my eyes out at the airport like one of those sappy romance movies..
But really, I began falling in love with Tom many years ago - and it wasn’t in romantic gestures and big promises.
It was in the moments that he was always there for me even though he was thousands of miles away, when there was never anything more on the table than a friendship, when we’d speak for hours at an airport lay over about everything and anything even after two years of not seeing each other face to face, and how knowing he understood - without judgement or control, everything that made me, me. And these three weeks spent in complete bliss was really just the first time we could show each other what that meant - and there was never any going back.
What happened to moving overseas?
At the start of the year I announced I was moving overseas.. I had decided I would move to the other side of the world to be closer to Tom but also where I could further my career. This started with a work trip to Africa and was meant to eventuate to the move to Los Angeles.. This grand trip lasted for about a week before everything changed and I was hit with the biggest reminder of why I usually make plans so loosely..
I had just finished my work in Ghana, Africa where I had gone to learn and share about the impact of Fair Trade in rural communities.. The day after, I flew to South Africa to start a 3 week camping trek furthering my understanding of conscious travelling. The night before it was meant to start, I couldn’t sleep at all. I hadn’t heard from Tom in a couple of days, which wasn’t unusual because of our long distance relationship (he was working on super yachts in the Caribbean at the time and rarely had reception). But something just didn’t feel right. I stayed up til 3 o’clock that morning until finally drifting to sleep, only to be woken soon after by an alarming notion to check my phone. I’d missed Tom’s call by 10 minutes and immediately called him back.
I was answered by a broken voice on the other end of the line..
“Monny, I’ve been in an accident.”
I will never forget those words. He proceeded to tell me how he had been hit by a local fishing boat while in the water, where the outboard propeller cut his leg so deeply he wasn’t sure whether he would be able to walk normally again. I still can’t write these words without tears swelling in my eyes..
I hung up the phone, raced down to the reception desk and began organising a flight to Florida where he was being flown for further surgery. In four hours, I was on a plane and on my way to him. The exact time I was meant to be starting the camping trip..
Toms accident and rehabilitation..
The moment of walking into the hospital room and seeing Tom sitting up right, bandaged up, with the biggest smile on his face as he joked “I had to do SOMETHING to see you!” will be frozen in my mind forever. We hadn’t seen each other for just over a month and had left each other not knowing when the next chance would be. The concoction of emotions of flying over to see him was equally as devastating as exciting. I’d arrived with everything I owned in hand and shared his hospital bed with him for the next few days while he rested from another surgery to repair his leg. We didn’t know what the next move would be. We bided our time in Florida for the next week or so before getting the all clear to go back to Australia where Tom would focus on his rehabilitation and starting to walk again.
It was in this moment that it became really clear to me that while a lot of things mattered to me, nothing had ever mattered like him before - and the only thing I truly wanted was to be by his side.
Moving back to Australia..
So, we moved back to Australia and settled into the Central Coast, an area about two hours north of Sydney, where we moved in with Toms family to have their support. Putting my plans on hold to be by Tom’s side in this time was a no brainer to me but -
a lot of my friends were confused how I could “change all of my plans for a boy”.
I share this part of the journey because this is something that is really pressed on us in today's society and I completely agree that a persons own plans and needs should be considered when making decisions for someone else. But this decision was as much for me as it was for Tom, and the fact that my intuition didn’t question it for a second was all I needed to know.
I’m going to be very real with you here - the next three months were arguably some of the most testing of my life.. I was majorly struggling with the ‘slingshot’ feeling of being on one path one minute and on a completely different one the next. The little taurus in me was going mad with life feeling so out of my control and so far from the simple life that I had worked so hard to achieve. Though Tom and I had been friends for so long, we really only had three weeks all up where we got to experience a relationship like a ‘normal couple’.. And now all of a sudden our days consisted of lying in bed constantly while his leg healed and taking life VERY slowly. Though it was my complete pleasure to be there beside him, it didn’t stop my human brain from struggling with the adjustment. As my work and fulfilment largely stem from my surroundings, my adult life has consisted of choosing to live in places that inspire me.
The Central Coast was a huge test for me to look inside myself and find contentment internally, be easier on myself, more understanding and live in service.
This was a big reminder of all the teachings and lessons I had learned over the past few years and gave me a chance to reapply them and look for deeper meaning.
And how was Tom? Well, for someone who still had no idea of whether he would walk properly again or what his future held for him - he was (and is) nothing short of a little Buddha. We spent every minute together when I wasn’t away for work and to watch him take on this journey with such grace, patience and understanding is something that will forever inspire me.
While it’s not my place to talk on his behalf, I think it would be safe in saying that this was a HUGE growing period for both of us. And one, that though it was testing and hard at times, we would never take back.
It’s funny to think about how we look at the accident now as a ‘divine intervention’.. We make jokes that our brain power together created a situation that would bring us closer together for a higher purpose.. And we were just in the middle of that punch line when we got that little cross on our pregnancy test that told us things were about to change a lot more..
Our love child
Tom had just picked me up from the airport where I’d been away on a modelling job in New Zealand. On the way home, we had agreed to get a test because I was feeling hormonal as all hell (and obviously missed my period).. I’ll never forget sitting in the shower waiting for the test to develop as I told Tom ‘You check it!”. He hopped over to the bench (this was only one month post injury), and looked back at me with the BIGGEST smile on his face that makes my eyes water every time I think of it. He joined me back in the shower as we sat across from each other, legs intertwined, my belly wrapped up in my arms as I tried to fathom the fact there was a growing being inside of me.
I was 14 when I was first told that I may not be able to have children due to a suspicion of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) or Endometriosis, and 22 when I had an ovary removed that would even further reduce my chances. To be sitting across from the love of my life with this little miracle in my belly after just one try made every doubt, every failure, every question of what I was meant to achieve in this life disappear.
I can’t imagine words could ever describe the feeling of going from one day admiring women who were able to carry children, to then realising it’s happening inside of you.. But it was a feeling I will never forget and one that has inspired me every day since.
Why we decided to buy a bus!
Having both already travelled a lot of the world, Tom and I had already spoken about travelling our home (Australia) and how epic it would be to do it in a bus. As I had done my Engineering Thesis on Tiny Homes on Wheels, and Tom is a carpenter and builder by trade, it seemed like a no brainer. Unlike what many people suspected, finding out that we were pregnant didn’t scare us off this idea at all - if anything it cemented it!
The idea of raising our baby in the wild, educated by nature, running naked and free without any societal conditioning or pressure sounded pretty ideal to us.
It also presented an opportunity for me to distance myself from work as I’ve known it and really be present with our family while we lived simply and most importantly - together.
So, we started ravaging through Gum Tree until finally we found our cute little 1995 Toyota Coaster. We’d only got to the stage of gutting it (well, Tom did, as I was lying on the couch vomiting at the time as morning sickness had well and truly settled in) when we made the sporadic decision to move back to Byron Bay. So, a week later, we packed everything up in the bus and drove up to Byron where our incredible friend Sarah had tee’d up a love cabin for us to live in..
Moving back to Byron bay
As with a lot of the decisions I make, I act first based on my intuition and ask questions later. We moved up to Byron without anything secured, but on a hunch that everything would work out.
We arrived at a viewing for the property we had been tipped off for and instantly fell in love - the only problem was, it wasn’t available yet!
There was a chance that it would be available in another two weeks to a month.. So Tom and I both being gypsies at heart took the news in our stride and started living every day as it came.
Over that month we really learned the true meaning of ‘conscious family’, as our friends opened their hearts and couches to us as we waited for our new home to be ready. We stayed in our friends epic old bus that she lived in with her partner and four kids for a time, another friends fairy cabin on a property they were looking after, a couple of amazing air BNB’s and hotels towards the end.. And just as my hormones or struggle with lack of control were ready to crack - the month was up and we were ready to move in to our dreamy little love cabin. I definitely, severely, underestimated the amount that I would crave my own space and creature comforts in this time while all the changes of pregnancy were happening inside of me -
but like everything always does, it all worked out in the end.
So now I’m sitting here writing to you in our cabin with a 20 week old baby bump, a face and hair mask on, Tom’s cooking dinner, Indian music playing in the background, taking a huge breathe as I reflect on what a crazy past 6 months that was, wondering what on earth is going to come next. And it’s occurred to me, of all the lessons I have learned recently, the biggest is that life doesn’t ever really slow down or stop throwing huge curve balls at you.. And it’s less about waiting for things to quieten down to feel content, and more about learning to surrender and go with the flow, adapt, and show gratitude for the growing process
Because behind every obstacle, challenge, huge mountain that feels like you’ll never get over - is a lesson that will shape you forever.