Although this post is rather personal it’s something that’s been weighing on my mind for many months and I need to get it out.
There's a sentence that’s been running through my head for a while now, I keep applying it to many situations in life, for now I’ll share how it all started with food. I'm on the other side of realisation.
Before my ‘transition’ to becoming 'healthy’ I ate shit food, avoided exercise, drank excessively and smoked like a chimney. I've shared this reality online for almost 8 years. By my early 30’s the body started to act up with the standard response of obesity, hypertension, anxiety and depression. Simply put, my body was a reflection of my lifestyle choices. At some point, and for many reasons other than just ‘wanting to look after myself’ I began on a journey exploring food. I wanted to know where my food came from, how it was produced and what it did to my body. I dug up my backyard and began to grow some food. I was completely naive, a total rookie but I wanted to have a go. I had no idea where it would take me (on a personal level).
My relationship with food slowly altered. I favoured new types of foods, fresh whole food, real food, what ever you want to call it. I cared less about eating the old processed shit I once loved to feast on that contributed in my unhealthy body and mind. I began to drink less, quit smoking, started moving, eventually running and exercising enough to reach a pretty cool level of fitness. I lost weight, healed my body and managed to get off the drugs that treated my old lifestyle health problems. The change was so profound, it meant so much to me that I wanted to help other people. Not only people that needed immediate help to get ‘healthy’ but also to assist people by providing information and experiences that would avoid getting them to that low point I once reached. My idea was The Nursery Project, a not for profit educational and event farm that would generate enough income from commercial activity to fund a teaching school for kids and adults sharing what real food is and how it can make a difference to our daily lives. Great idea, but again I was completely naive about how these things get set up and what was involved for such a massive project.
I spent a few years of vulnerability venturing down paths to set this project up. A crowd funding campaign, lobbying corporates and celebrities, applying for grants, working with lawyers, creating the structure, policy and governance for what was to be a substantial organisation. I was doing all this from my lounge room, a phone, a computer and passionate energy. Over the last few years I’ve had some real highs and lows, it’s been an emotional rollercoaster. At some points there where philanthropic offers to purchase the land, finally the project would be up and running! Then the offer fizzed away. Next was an offer of a generous start up capital, that too dissipated. Highs and lows, they take an emotional toll. I worked tirelessly on the project, constantly getting knocked back but continuing to fight to find the start up capital needed. I worked with some pay for a little while, but most of last year I worked with no income, this was not easy. I put all my energy into this project, obsessed, delusional that something amazing like this project would actually happen.
Late last year we reached a crisis point. When I say ‘we’ I’m talking about my relationship at home with my amazing supportive parter. Typical of many start ups, the personal relationships are the ones that suffer. I had put all my focus on the project and not what was important in my personal life, my love and my children. I was worn out, burnt out, running on empty and shaking with anxiety. I was a mess. I reached a point of utter desperation. It’s difficult to explain and just writing about it makes me feel sick.
One day at a cafe I noticed the front page of a newspaper that quoted an ABS statistic that I’d been using to show how serious the food/health issue was in Australia. “A Nation of Fatties” was the headline on the front page with the statistic that 63% of Australian adults are now either overweight or obese. My heart sank. I’d been trying to make a difference, to raise awareness of this serious issue but had failed. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t raise the money and try to help ease this issue. It was at that point I made the realisation that I couldn’t make that change. The best I could do was to focus on me. To continue my path, to lead by example for anyone willing to listen. I realised The Nursery Project wasn’t a reality, not for now anyway. Maybe it’s too early, maybe it’s not the right approach, maybe there's another way. Whatever the case might be, I was worn out and needed to realign my focus before I ran out of steam.
I’m putting the project on hold indefinitely. I’m focusing on repairing myself, to find my spark for life again. My New Years resolution is to find my spirit of adventure, because I’ve lost it somewhere along the way. I’ve worked too much, given too much energy and I’m fucking worn out. The biggest irony is that I was trying to set up an educational facility to teach people that eating real food can address a heap of medical issues from diabetes to anxiety, in the process I’ve become so much of a mess that I’m back on low level anxiety medication, part of my approach to finding some sanity and calm.
I feel like I’ve let so many people down, I’ve failed. I don’t believe I could have worked any harder, I tried so many approaches, listened to so many people's different pieces of advice and direction. I made compromises, I swallowed my pride, I begged, I made myself vulnerable. I gave everything. I’m sorry guys. I just can’t do it anymore.
This year I'm going to focus on the things that I can do. I can deliver fresh produce to the peeps in Melbourne that get it. I can focus on the things that give me joy, family, cooking and doing things I've always wanted to do. I will do the things I used to love doing, to go fishing again, hunting, bushwalking, I will share a meal with mates and enjoy the simple things in life once again. All part of finding that love of being alive. If you've ever dealt with mental illness you'll know why I'm writing this. This is my plan for repair.
Thank you to everyone that supported the project, from friends that offered support to people that contributed.