Introducing... Letters from Hayley
Welcome to a new series
A simple letter from my home to yours, like pen pals used to do. Little updates, my washing up thoughts, about our family, how we prioritise this stage of life, how we live in a small cabin and run our business. Let's bring the soul back into our inboxes, starting with this little fortnightly newsletter on the behind-the-scenes of Settler Hives.
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A daunting task: helping my parents downsize their home – my childhood home. In fact, my mother's childhood home!
We have been back to Toowoomba twice recently (three hours' drive away) and instead of fitting in our favourite people and places like usual, we were knee-deep in boxes, driving boot loads and ute loads out to charity and an awful amount to the dump. My parents have just always had the room, you know? They've never needed to part with anything.
It was an overwhelming task.
Clearing their lifetime of book collecting off the shelves. So many decorative trinkets and collections they can’t take with them from this life to their new one.
My mum and dad are in their 70s now, and the maintenance and energy that goes into a beautiful four-bedroom home wasn't serving them any more. I'm so impressed by their decision to recognise this while they're still able to.
As much as we tried not to fill our car, we did. And we brought home three huge boxes of glassware that we swapped out (upgrading to some family crystal!) and epic shells from across the globe (I have no idea where we will put them), Tupperware, a brass Barometer/Thermometer, a pristine cobalt blue '70s gas camp stove and other ornamental treasures I couldn’t let go of, yet somehow need blend it all into our small cabin life.
Somehow being we'll need to make a fresh assessment of what have we not touched since moving here and clear the space – in both our cupboards and our heads.
Oh, and we brought back our fourteen year-old bengal cat! Stefan (yes, from Vampire Diaries) went to live with Mum and Dad when we moved to Canada in 2015. When we returned in 2017 he was in such a good home jungle and clearly my dad was his favourite person, so we couldn’t imagine disrupting this.
Pictured LEFT is Stefan our reunited bengal cat, on my lap with Dads 70s Mohair blanket (a little itchy but it's Settler blue!). Pictured RIGHT is baby me, on film with Dad and my two older sisters. Thanks for snapping the photo Mum.
Now he is actually the lap cat I always hoped for - thanks Dad! He doesn't even mind the little people chaos that he used to flee, he's much more social in his old age. (Un)fortunately he hasn’t pounced on any of the guinea fowl yet! Our eight birds that we raised to fend off snakes have turned into the LOUDEST, messiest pets I could imagine. They poop all over our deck, there are feathers all over the yard and most importantly – we still had a night tiger snake in the bathroom! There are also more ticks this season than ever (I've lost count how many Scarlett has had). I reckon Roger is just about ready to start serving them up on a platter (the guinea fowl that is, not the ticks!).
Our time helping Mum and Dad felt like a small dent on what was left to do. I was awake, sleepless, for nights both before and during the process. I think it is less about the emotion of saying goodbye to a special place than it is about learning how to help them make the move physically. Maybe it's both.
I just kept thinking I am so glad they are both alive. It could be so different. They have worked so hard and I am so grateful to have such incredible parents. My wedding dress was still in one of their cupboards! It's not going to fit at the cabin... can it live in the car? We recently celebrated our 14 year anniversary, which I surprised Roger with a very odd-shaped parcel (that he LOVES): the green HAWS 9L Watering Can. Instagram ads got me good!
What I hope I can do is hold space for where Mum and Dad are at. To not take over and make decisions for them, but gently cheer them on their journey in their process. My older sisters are really good at this.
Mum had texted me asking for help because she needed me to come and be "ruthless". Which reminded me that the constant flux of buying and parting with stuff is seasonal and will be a lifelong wrestle and practice.
Wanting a smaller life or a slower, simpler one is beautiful, but it doesn't come without the tension to process both.
Coming up, we have a very special belated anniversary getaway (bucket list type accommodation and how you travel when you bring your babies) to go sit on a fenced cliffside and stare at the ocean and whales and do nothing but rest and feast together. We're going to stay at the Seal Rocks Lighthouse, in old the Head Keepers Cottage this month! It doesn't matter what the weather is like – we can't wait!
With love, from our family to yours
Helpful links to some of the things I spoke about in this letter...
1. The perfect 14 year wedding anniversary gift for a husband who loves to grow things, the Warley Fall Green Watering Can.
2. Where is it you're staying?! Seal Rocks Lighthouse Cottages, a special place we found on our first Australian road trip in the Troopy visiting stockists down south in 2018. Back when we packed seeds on the road. Add it to your bucket list too - for the views!
3. Yes I'd love to show you Mum and Dad's Toowoomba house listing it's officially on the market.