Finding Calm and Space

Sun in my eyes, early mornings, frostbite, gum boots, cups of tea with mum, football with dad, making apricot jam with nana and pa, fresh air, feeding calves, milking, dogs, and many, many crop tours.

These were (and still are) some of my favourite things, and having had the opportunity to come back to this, fills me with gratitude. I enjoyed every moment and relished the feeling it created. Upon returning back to the farm, I felt the comfort and certainty of a life I knew too well. These feelings of certainty made me feel excited once again. I started to feel rested, less anxious and optimistic of a future with less mental anguish and stress.

This mental freedom created a space to think and dream. What possibilities were there? Build a home produce business? Grow my own farm? Learn a new skill and talent? I felt driven once again.

I was all set and ready for a life on the land, growing and nurturing a life with a clear direction and purpose. We were working hard, but I had more energy. I had missed the feeling of completing a job and knowing the outcome. Through working hard we could see the direct result of this toil. If you milked a cow, you knew the result- sometimes there was a little more or maybe a little less, but the end result was still milk.

This certainty and connection felt like such a relief after leaving my role in nursing, where so many things had felt out of my control; my shifts, the team I was in, the trajectory of my patient’s health and even my own wellbeing . In healthcare it had been hard to understand where my energy and efforts were making a real difference- I’d felt disconnected, like a cog in the machine that had no real significance. It wasn’t until I returned to the farm that I realised how much I was craving those feelings of certainty, purpose, connection and significance.

Unfortunately this honeymoon period didn’t last. A mere 8 months in I found myself asking very similar questions to before. I was still enjoying farming and loving the feeling of connection and certainty- but now that I’d started to recover, I wondered whether I was actually done with healthcare and was it done with me. These feelings were catalysed by a fortunate turn of events at the local football. I was volunteering as a trainer (known to be a follower and supporter to lead trainers Jock, Trev and Swanny), when we had an umpire collapse on the ground. He had fallen in the pocket of the furthest part of the ground, where players and supporters had started to wave for assistance. Running over to the incident with the quick footed Trev and Swanny, we had no idea what had unfolded. As we got closer, my instincts started to kick in and I realised the severity of the situation; the umpire on the ground was having a major heart attack. With a fantastic team of first responders, supporters, a defibrillator and a whole heap of luck, we were able to get this 400+ game Goulburn Valley footy legend back with us.

With this jolt of electricity, ‘Shorty’ Martinello was back with us. What he may not know is that I also got a psychological jolt at the same time. After the adrenaline had worn off and I started to process the events of the day, I began to think that maybe my journey within healthcare wasn’t over - just yet.

Join us in our next blog as we dive into what happened next in my search for answers and understanding.

Athol Hann

Founder of Fwards

Clinical Nurse on a mission to help health professionals make sense of a life on the frontlines and prevent the debilitating effects on burnout.