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I have thought long about whether or not to publish this next part of my story, fearful of what an unscrupulous person might do with it....not that there's any great secrets revealed. However, I was inspired by the memorial celebration for Steve Irwin's life: a man who was not afraid to show the real person he was. Who lived with passion, conviction, dedication to his purpose. A private life he shared generously with all.

If my life can serve to help even one other person fulfill their potential or make better decisions or become part of the solution, it is worthy of the telling. Just as Steve's life changed the world so can we all. Our lives may not be as big or influential as those of celebrities but in our own small way we each change the world. Each small decision. Every action. It is the sum of the yield which truly counts. Be a part of the solution.

My Story Continues....

Hmmm, now where did I get to? That's right my little family had just decided the cycling around Australia thing was ridiculous and we were looking for a house to rent. We found one, of course, but it was quite expensive so we moved again to another house about 30km away from Mannum at Walkers Flat. It was in the middle of an empty paddock. Quite isolated from everywhere particularly if the car wasn't working. (We'd bought an old junker by then.)

At around this time an opportunity to buy our own home without needing a deposit became a reality for us. Too good to miss, we found a vacant block of land in Mannum and had a small 3 bedroom house constructed on it within our meagre budget. The maximum loan amount was $47000 so that was all we could spend as we had no savings. These days you're lucky to find a tiny vacant block in Mannum for that much!

My interest in organic gardening had expanded now into a new concept for me: Permaculture. I had first heard about it in Alice Springs and eagerly shared these ideas with my best friend, Caroline. We were very excited about Permaculture as it formalised the wholeness of the ideas we felt were most important in life. In 1992 Caroline & I attended a Permaculture Design Certificate Course in Noarlunga, South Australia.

This course was a defining moment in my life. It was intellectually stimulating to the point of overwhelming. Mostly though, it was the first time I had felt accepted without judgement, as an equal among people whom I admired greatly. We both formed friendships with people there who have become lifelong friends. People whom I love dearly, unconditionally. It is among 'Permies' that I feel most comfortable and most acceptance. I guess it is because the basis of Permaculture is: care of Earth, care of people & sharing resources. This is the core of my being as I know it and central to the lives of others also. Though I've made some poor decisions in life this philosophy always grounds me and helps to focus & drive my life.

Shortly before doing the PDC course Caroline & I, with another friend, had successfully lobbied the local council to grant us the use of a large vacant block adjacent to the local Neighbourhood House (community house) to develop as a community garden. Together we enthused a growing number of local people to come along weekly and create these gardens. We started running courses on organic gardening, Permaculture, landscape design, sculpture etc. The group was known as MOCCA (Mannum Organic Cooperative Community Association). We made huge compost heaps and bagged some of it for sale as 'MOCCAPOST' to raise funds for the group's activities.

During the couple of years that MOCCA existed my personal life fell to pieces. Tired of never ending arguments at 1am in the morning, of the undeserved jealousy & possessiveness, of waiting for the next explosion of verbal abuse to be showered upon me, of being called 'stupid' and much worse, of apparently being the unending source of all my partner's misery and his excuse to drown his sorrows; I asked him to leave. Actually, it was more like I told not to come back from yet another of his journeys in search of happiness. This was not one of my finest moments.

If you have ever experienced the separating of a relationship, the dissipation of love, you will have some idea of how I felt. How lost, hurt & angry. It takes a long time to heal. I didn't have a healthy self esteem before knowing him and the years of mental abuse really left me a hollow person. Were it not for the purpose in life that my children gave me, the love & support of my friends (especially Caroline) and my commitment to MOCCA and our activities I may not have chosen to continue with this life. I am very grateful for the love I know, my family & true friends.

For the next eight years or so I was a sole parent. I engrossed myself in learning, doing many courses, reading & workshops on a variety of subjects: personal development (I really needed that one), Permaculture facilitation, face painting, sculpture. In 1995 I went back to high school and did year 12 so that the following year I could study professional writing. Like so many things in my life I started a 4 year course and only completed most of 2 years. (I recently bought a book on this sort of behaviour and how best to succeed with it so I'm not going to thrash myself for it. Apparently I'm not alone and it's not such a terrible thing).

It was at this time, 1996, Caroline got sick & died — early 1997. It was devastating to me. A huge engulfing black hole from which I couldn't imagine light ever piercing. Of course the sense of loss & grief lessens with time though there are so many times I wish I could speak with her or share the experience.

Around this time also I got involved in setting up another community group; the Caloote Area Landcare Group. Over the next few years this group planted 100 000's trees in the region, did major environmental works, studies of wildlife, educational activities and monitoring. We also published my story Arboretum—A Place Grown with Trees. I am very proud of this achievement as I drove this particular project to its fruition. I learned a great deal from the publishing experience also.

In 1998 my mother, in effect, gave me the money to purchase a block of land in a small town about 30km from Mannum called Cambrai. It was an odd block; triangular in shape. About 3/4 acre in size. The corner off a paddock which had been separated many years earlier by the now extinct railway. The block was opposite the rest of the town & surrounded by rural lands. Here it was my intention to build my dream home. A living demonstration of Permaculture principles in action. A beautiful earth built home of energy efficient design surrounded by an Eden like garden of abundance. I busied myself growing 100's of trees from seed and planting them across the block. My mind was always brimming with dreams of how it would look and feel living there.

Over the years I picked up the odd bit of casual work; a bit of kitchen work, a little gardening, some facilitation of workshops and community gardens, painting, sculpting fountains & statues etc. I built up a bit of an enterprise for myself doing face painting. I also did loads of volunteer work. Doing these things helped build my confidence as well as my capabilities. My children were growing up well and happy, achieving their own successes. I had a sense of achievement and purpose, at least in this area of my life.

My intimate life was a disaster still. I hated myself more as I continued to get fatter— a legacy of my hereditary as well as poor eating habits and lack of regular disciplined exercise. I hated myself more everytime I binge drank and/or bedded with someone, most often just in it for themselves.Too often I was used & rejected. I felt lonely, stupid, fat, ugly and unlovable. Have you ever known this misery? Why? Was I really so awful? Unlovable? Why was I never good enough for these fellas? Why was it always blokes who were with partners that would try to hit on me? Did honest, loyal men even exist? Men not into drugs or drink. One's who value women and can express their feelings. Men who share their lives. Men who value family, who work, set goals to achieve, who care for the Earth and others besides themselves. Men who are not already partnered. If there are, I never seem to meet them.

I actively sought my 'Mr Right', advertising in contact columns etc. It was a nightmare. I don't think I've ever really learned how to relate to men as I didn't really have any significant male role models in my childhood & early teens. I was so unprepared for forming healthy relationships with men that many of my experiences with them were negative and destructive. Undoubtedly this contributes to my failure in relationships.

I was always descreet with my activities so the children were mostly unaware of these behaviours. Still I did things which offended my own sense of morality, for which I began to loathe myself even more. No wonder I couldn't find someone to love me when I did not love myself. What a sad, pathetic person I was.

For a while I had a live-in relationship with a man whom I cared for greatly and my daughter hated vehmently. It was sort of a mutual hate between them which made my life difficult at best. Combined with other issues it didn't last more than about 9 mths.

I gave up on trying to find a partner to share my life with and pretended to be content to live my life alone. I had learned that sex and love are two different things and you can have one without the other. I think that is most often the case actually though better when combined. It's something many men seem to find easier than women. I also decided to not do anything which offended my own sense of integrity just because someone else wanted me to.

Then I was introduced to my husband, (now ex).....

This sort of concludes what I see as the first three lives I have lived. The fourth will be coming soon.

If you would like to share stories of your own lives with me feel free to contact me here. Also I thank those lovely people who have emailed me and shared some of your life with me. I am honoured that you have been so moved and grateful for your trust & friendship towards me. I always enjoy your personal emails.


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Earthspirit Enterprises

Susan Lloyd
Susan Greentree

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