Come to life


It’s spring. In Tasmania this means the weather flips between summer and winter. And on Saturday I think we got winter. In our house we were cold enough to light the fire, though we hope it’s the last time we do that for the year. We’re running out of wood.

We have some gum tree logs from a tree we cut down on our property last year. Moz bravely rescued them out of the rain and did the hard work to get the fire going. The eucalyptus logs are harder to get burning, but they last a long time. At the end of the night he pulled the fire apart, separating the two remaining logs to either side of the fireplace and we went to bed.

Sunday was much warmer and we didn’t need the fire anymore. I was sitting on the couch and reading in the afternoon when I looked up in shock. Apropos of nothing, the single eucalyptus log had burst into flame again. Full on red flames were coming out of it. It had smouldered all night and for some reason had relit itself.

I had two thoughts from this amazing occurrence.

One: Australian bushfires, and the fires in the gums of California and so on, are so scary just exactly because of this – there was no reason for the fire to start again, it just did. In a single log. That’s really frightening when you’re trying to fight a fire.

The second thought is a little more detailed. And hopefully a little more cheerful.

It made me wonder if some of us have a dream, or a desire, or even a word of encouragement that we have tucked away inside of us. Something that smoulders away, giving those around us no inkling that anything is going on. Something that just keeps you warm inside.

Then one day, for no reason, it bursts back into flame. It comes to life.

It may be a surprise or a shock to those around you. They haven’t noticed the warmth, the smoulder. But you have known. Or you might have known. It might have been buried too deep for you to even realise.

When the log in our fireplace burst into flame, I did nothing about it. I let it burn, and after a while it burned out. I’m pretty sure that the fire is dead now.

I could have kept it going. I could have placed a second log on the fire, or added some kindling.

If you want your dream to stay you’re going to have to nurture it. Now that it’s shown itself, now that it’s burning on the surface, find some other like-minded people and nurture your flame. Make an effort to do the writing, or the practice, or the exercise, or the training, or whatever makes your dream a reality. Take the next step. Don’t waste this moment.

You never know what may come of it.


Are you missing some of my blog posts? They come out every Monday. Sign up to follow the A Quiet Life blog on WordPress, or you can sign up to my newsletter on  and you will receive every post straight to your email inbox. You will also find my podcast, my book ‘My Year of Saying No’, and any short stories or other books will be up there as they come along.

If you would like to support this blog and the podcast then you can head over to and help me out for as little as a dollar a month. Thank you so much!

Are you feeling trapped? Stuck?

I read an interesting article in The Australian on Sunday morning. It was talking about how women are pretending that they can have it all – career, family, hobbies, everything – when we know we can’t. How women are hiding the failures and airbrushing their lives. How we are falling apart behind the scenes.

What struck me as I read was the feeling of being trapped. The women the author was writing about felt they had no choice, that they had to live like this, that they had to keep on with the career and the hectic lifestyle, that they just had to hide what was going on and just keep going.

It is obviously not only women who feel this way.

But I wonder if there is some freedom that can be found.

Moz now works as a teacher but he didn’t start his working life that way. He trained first to be an electrician. After his apprenticeship finished he got a job installing computer cabling with a small business. We are grateful for that job but long-term it was never going to be the right job for him. It involved long hours, shift work, and massive unpredictability. We never knew when he was working or for how long, and that doesn’t make for a happy family, especially with very young children.

Every month we would struggle to meet our budget and I would complain to Moz, and every month he would work harder, longer hours, more shifts, to try to get the money I was asking for, and I would complain that we didn’t spend enough time as a family.

We felt trapped in an unrelenting cycle.

Eventually we had the chance to stop for a few days and think things through. We realised that the family’s need to see more of him was greater than our need for the money he was providing. We chose to make some sacrifices and he quit his job and we went to university.

This was not an easy decision and we saw God’s miraculous provision for us more than once. But the point I want to make is this: we chose to have less money for a number of years in order to have the family relationships we needed.

This meant that we had crap furniture – a really dreadful brown lounge suite and a very daggy dining table and chairs. Almost every scrap of furniture we owned was second-hand and even the carpet in our house was hand-me-down, given to us by my Uncle and Aunt after they recarpeted their own home.

We didn’t have mainland holidays. When we went away we went to Pop’s beach house. It was free.

We didn’t have new clothes. Op-shopping and hand-me-downs were the order of the day.

We didn’t get to eat flash food. We got to eat a lot of bread that was given to us by charities, and we ate very simply (weetbix, anyone?) the rest of the time.

But we were no longer trapped. We were going on a journey to where we next needed to be. We were doing what we wanted to do.

People would say to us, ‘I wish I could do what you’re doing.’

They could.

They just needed to make that choice. They would have to make sacrifices just like us. But if they really wanted to, they could.

I know I am making generalisations here and maybe this doesn’t apply to you but I think it applies to more of us than we would like.

I think that if you really want to do something, if you have a dream, then you probably can make it happen.

I think some of us need to realise that we are not stuck, we are instead choosing the lifestyle that we have. We are prioritising things that we are not admitting to.

Perhaps you really want to be at home with your children but you are continuing in your job because you feel that you have to be able to provide the best in furniture, clothes, and toys for your kids.

Perhaps you would love to follow your dream but instead feel like you are trapped in your job because of the fees you need to pay for your kids’ private schooling.

Maybe you are putting off your dream because you want the financial security. You keep telling yourself you will do it once you have saved enough to retire early.

Maybe you are working 12 hours a day so you can afford the mortgage on your house.

It’s a choice.

You could choose to go with simpler clothes and furnishings and have more time with your kids. You could choose to send your kids to public school and maybe have a happier home life with a lot less stress. You could choose to sell your house and rent, or at least downsize so that you have less of a mortgage payment to pay. You can choose to work towards your dream now, on the weekends, or in your lunch hours, and not wait for some financially secure time that may never happen.

It is so easy to blame circumstances or external forces for the consequences of our own choices. To say ‘I really wanted to … but things stopped me’.

What is stopping you might just be you.

Are there sacrifices you need to make to follow your dream?

Or are you only willing to ‘rest forever in the shadows of the safety of what might have been’? (Barbara Turner-Vesselago)

This is not the whole story, of course. It is part of the story, part of the argument. There is so much involved in following your dream. Do you do it part-time? Full-time? How will it affect your family? Who do you need to talk to? Do you need training? There are so many questions that need to be answered.

I am just hoping that if your soul has been speaking to you and you have been brushing it off, that this blog post will help you get started. Start the conversation. Think about the sacrifices. Think about the choices you are making. Get un-stuck.