Living through a crisis and appreciating what you have 0



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Mornings were horrible, my husband would wake pale from lack of sleep, feeling sick, even crying. I felt powerless to help him; his work which once had been a joy had become a huge problem as he worked for a boss he hated.

He lost a stone in weight, and I tried to help, we saw a doctor, and he was given anti-depressants. It was 1994, we had been in Australia about six years had been buying a house, and in every other way loved the life and our new home. Brian was 63 and working for the boss from hell, who changed the rules hourly, shouted bullied and blustered. Nine people had already left the company to get away from him. Brian felt totally trapped as we had a mortgage, and this was in a time when the interest rate was sky high. He was trying to hang on until retirement, but I felt the cost to his sanity was too high.

It was such a contrast, as we had been in a good position with our own business in Bath, England. My husband ran a very successful studio and did advertising and print work for large companies. We had a comfortable lifestyle a flat in a Georgian House built in 1700; the children had flown the nest.

Yet we never regretted the big chance we took moving to Australia, we loved the country the lifestyle and were captivated by the beauty and wildness of the scenery worked in a nursing home locally and when I finished on Friday nights we made our escape to sanity. The van would already be packed with food and linen ready for a fast getaway. We had bought a caravan when we sold the boat, it was only a pop top, but it was cosy and we loved our ‘escape’ weekends. We travelled to Echuca and Phillip Island, loving the peace and the sea, and most of all, it provided respite from the ugly work problem.

We were trying to sell the house, but this was a hard time to be selling, the time dragged on, it was 1996 before we actually sold at last, getting a very poor price. We had started exploring the gold fields then we went to Gippsland, a sunny crisp day in June we were eating fish and chips at Port Albert, and we finally decided to ‘Throw in the towel”. This place seeped into our bones, the peace, the atmosphere of this small port; it seemed to be pulling us to stay. Not long after, having sold or thrown away great skips of things we packed our old table and chairs into storage, kept some linen and china and took off with just our cat Tess for company. We had a site chosen and concrete laid, it was to be our base for travelling, and then the people at Sea bank offered a cabin which we were delighted to accept.

We had lost a lot of money, partly because of selling the house for so little, and an investment went pear shaped. Such is life! We accepted it. I have told the story of our sea change and how we settled into the area very quickly in a previous story. The change from a house in Patterson Lakes to a snug home close to the beach was a pleasant one, the little beach was more an estuary really, but I loved walking there, and Lorikeets came to feed at the bird table, magpies knocked at my door. As I walked along the beach in clear air that first summer, swans flew and floated on the tide, pelicans waddled after the fishermen. Tiny crabs scurried away as I walked. It began the healing process.

We soon had jobs, I worked for the health service, and Brian did some reporting work, and became a shire councillor. We were soon involved in life in a small town; we were home at last. 20 years later with many stories to tell, we are still here.

Have you made a sea change but wouldn’t change it for the world?

Jacqui Lee

Jacqui Lee is 75 and now retired but the last ten years or so have been some of her busiest. She worked at a hospital, where she took several Certificated courses, she cleaned a school, helped to run two conventions, wrote short stories, started painting, and in fact is never bored even now, "I honestly feel we are lucky to still be upright and breathing, and my motto is, Remember yesterday, dream of tomorrow, but live today. I love fun, clothes, food and friends."

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