Downshifting as a Way of Life

"The trouble with the rat race is, even if you win, you are still a rat". Lily Tomlin

And I was. A rat, I mean. But I'm a rat no more. I quit the rat race and moved to a farm in Limpopo Province, about 15km's out of Tzaneen, in the magnificent Modjadjiskloof. As I write this sentence, I am astounded at how easy it was to make the single most important decision of my life. I decided that my daughter would grow up knowing the beauty of nature, rather than how to navigate an iPad. I decided I wanted to live a life packed with quality, rather than a stressed-out excuse for living - sitting in traffic, worrying about crime, breathing in pollution daily.

The time it took - from our initial decision to leave, to standing on my deck in the Modjadjiskloof, was just over 3 months. I did some research on the internet and found the perfect place from which to launch our new life. And here we are - with a breathtaking view of the valley and the peace and solitude that the country promises. It was as easy as that. All it took was making the decision. Once that was done, the details unfolded and revealed themselves perfectly.

It was such a 'no brainer' when I questioned myself at a core level, exploring what sort of values I had sold out for a life of 'things'. Consumerism runs rampant in the city. We are always chasing the next 'high' be it the latest tech gadget, or car, or party, or drug, or sex escapade. I had had more than I could swallow. I wanted a real life, so I went out and got one.

At the age of 39 - almost 4 years ago - I gave birth to a daughter, my third child (the other 2 are in their twenties and live out of home). It was this miracle that spurred me to make this choice that, I believe, is the single most important one I have ever made. After years of hectic, frenetic life in Johannesburg, working in the film and television industries, I now live on a organic farm that produces avocados, macadamia nuts and coffee. My daughter attends a little creche on the farm, and spends her days playing with friends, picking pecan nuts and naartjies off the trees, walking along scenic trails with her nursery school teacher, and singing old fashioned bible songs from a bygone era. It's incredible. Wonderful. Too much to have hoped for. My partner works in Tzaneen, doing stuff he loves doing, and finishes work at five pm exactly. He is home within half an hour of that, and we go for a walk in the countryside and then eat supper together, leisurely. I cook from recipe's that I collect. I mend clothing and make pillow covers and curtains for our house. We grow our own vegetables and herbs. Our daughter watches monkeys from our deck. It is idyllic. A dream come true.

I want to encourage people, who are seeking a lifestyle change, to consider moving to Tzaneen. It was a town I knew nothing about before coming here. It has just the right balance of countryside, balanced with good infrastructure, schools and hospitals. It is a little gem, an hour's drive from the Kruger National Park and the Blyde River Canyon. There are more things to do here with kids than there is time in one lifetime. Life is slow-paced and people are old fashioned. Friendly. Caring.

Downshifting my life meant that I had decided to pursue more important things than money. Materialism had come at a substantial cost to my life, and the life of my family.

There is no point in complaining about your life, and expecting the Government or God to change it for you. It is within your capacity to change it. All you have to do is begin with the decision to do so.

Remember, "The journey of 1000 miles begins with the first step". I wish you courage and boldness in your decisions.