Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Rhonda’s posting about saying “no” has got me thinking. For a few years, I have been working to simplify my life and lead a more duckherding existence. Mr Duck Herder teases me because when we met, I was “go get’em girl” – successful, ambitious, clever, busy. The last ten years has seen me shift from a “bright and shiny clever young thing” in the community sector to a “cranky girl who would really like to be left alone” in the public service. The more successful I became, the less meaning and fulfillment I got out of my work, and the crankier and more frazzled I got. Intuitively, I became a “down shifter” – actively seeking jobs and projects that interested me and seemed important, rather than focusing on jobs as a staircase to bounce up. And then came the Lacuna Sabbath, an attempt to grow the parts of my life I was passionate and interested in, and stave off public service induced insanity.

Recently I was challenged to come up with my life’s vision or purpose. This was a really tricky question! What is your vision or goal for your life?

I gave it a bit of mulling over, and was able to draw inspiration for two unrelated sources. Once was a reference in a book written by fellow ONCian Alyson Hill, called “Chooks in the City”. In this book, Alyson, while sitting on the back porch, nursing a cuppa and watching her chooks, muses that she doesn’t want to be a battery hen, bound and subjected to other people’s demands on her time, body, freedom and production, but a free range chook –spontaneous, raucous, engaged in the moment and completely absorbed in her work and play. The other obvious source of inspiration was the Radio National program on tutti fruiti time featured in a previous post. When I hold these two concepts in my mind, I fell like I’m getting very close to a very happy place – a way of living and a state of being. So, my life purpose or goal has become this:

To be a free range chook living in tutti fruiti time.

Where my hours are stretchy, ribboned, enchanted and wild. Where my life is earthy, connected, engaged and abundant. To live in harmony with the seasons and cycles of the earth. To live and love well.

The other thing I have realized is that to be happy, I need to see tangible outcomes from my work. Looking back over my work history, I have been most happy, most fulfilled and most energized when I have felt that what I am doing makes a tangible difference to people’s lives or to the planet. Obviously this is why I get so much joy out of gardening and building stuff.

It also explains why the strategic planning focus of my current work, and the shift away from direct service delivery feels frustrating and futile - not in general, but for me. Funnily enough, once I became a little clearer about what was important, new opportunities for duck herding started to emerge. And now, I have only three weeks to go, and a little break, before I start a new project, working from home, arranging my own hours, working on something that feels important, exciting, meaningful and challenging. Sometimes I will go to work in my jammies, other times I will be on the road. It is all good! Suddenly, all sorts of other folks are offering me additional consulting work – so I am feeling a growing sence of confidence that this is the right thing to do, and that the universe supports my growth in this area. (yay)

Yesterday I purchased a beautiful second hand desk for my new home office and I will be using my Dads original office chair from when he worked in the PM&G way back in the 70’s.

I feel so lucky. Yup, this is what duck herding is all about.


Eilleen said...

oh my goodness, what amazing insights you've had. And yes, I also believe that once we've clarified what we want, then opportunities come our way to satisfy our wants. Amazing, huh.

All the best with your new project!

Rhonda Jean said...

I just love this post! It's insightful and profound and all those things good writing always is.

Duck Herder, I have always thought there was a familiar echo in your writing, and although that might seem far-fetched, as we are not the same age, don't live close, in fact have never met, I find myself in your posts sometimes. But when I read this: "To be a free range chook living in tutti fruiti time. Where my hours are stretchy, ribboned, enchanted and wild. Where my life is earthy, connected, engaged and abundant. To live in harmony with the seasons and cycles of the earth. To live and love well." I recognised a new invisible friend. I have just added you to my list of (now) three must-read-everyday blogs.

I am going to link to this post later in the day.

Thank you DH. : )

Rhonda Jean said...

I'm back! Mainly because there were a number of things I forgot to comment on. Your post blew me away and my thoughts with it.

There is a group in Maleny called the Range Hens. They meet for fun, nothing else. I've never been a joiner, and as I age I'm becoming more of a hermit, but I always liked the sound of those Range Hens.

How lucky you are to have your dad's old PMG chair. Was he stationed in Martin Place or closer to where you are now?

The Duck Herder said...

Oh Rhonda, thank you for your kind words. I must say I feel the same way about you and your blog! What a wonderfully unexpected treat this whole blogging thing is. I had no idea I would "meet" such wonderful, fellow feathered friends. I guess this is what folks mean by an "on-line community" - I dont think there could be more care, sharing or more common interest if we lived in each other's pockets on the same road!

Blogging feels a little bit like turning thoughts or ideas into little ships that I gently push out onto a river, into the big wide world. It is amazing when the big wide world responds to those little boat-thoughts! So thank you very much - and thankyou too Eilleen! I suspect that while we have very different lives, we have much in common too.

I like the idea of the range hens - that is very funny.

Re the PMG chair - Before my family moved onto a little farm when I was 9, I was originally a Goulburn Girl. (you know the saying - you can take the girl out of goulburn, but you can't take the goulburn out of the girl.....?) So the chair is 100% Auburn St!

SO cheers my new invisible friend! (well earned glass of red wine in hand!) I am off the check out what you have been up to on your blog today, and to make sure you did all the things you said you were going to.:o)

Sherd said...

We love your boat-thoughts!! More please!!