In 2016 life took a turn and I found myself stuck in a life I could never have dreamt of. Somewhere amongst all that I dreamt of owning a piece of grass in nature where I could gather 'like-minded' souls and build friendships that felt like family. It was a long shot but the desire lived strong in me.
In 2016 I found myself afraid of how my life was unfolding and knowing I would need to make the bold decision to leave my relationship and the place that had become home and become a single parent in Scotland. I'd need to figure out a way to jump the legal hoops, navigate a complicated break-up, financially support myself and my son, look after my mental and emotional health, navigate the plethora of challenges that would make their way onto my path and stay in the country in a way that felt good in my head, heart and soul and that ticked the boxes of the living in the UK as a non-citizen.
I got really intentional and almost fierce about a series of really important, necessary and 'Bronwyn you have to do this' dreams. In short, they comprised of a collection of things like:
Build a life that suited the needs of my son and I, outside of the rules and regulations of the big serious world stuff. This impacted where I would live, childcare, my sons education, healthcare, a global pandemic....and a resistance to following the 'standards'. I'll elaborate more on these in good time.
Gather a collective of AMAZING super souls around us where we collectively support and celebrate each other, basically 'friends that feel like family'.
Home & Flexi school my son.
Buy land in Scotland and turn it into a space where I could connect with my son and nature and gather with loved ones and in community.
Invite in the type of love that would open parts of my heart and self that had been locked away under the past, patterns and protection.
Do meaningful work that feels good in my soul, draws on all that drives/inspires me and supports others to thrive in life.
Cultivate a work/life balance which enables both my son and I to thrive and be happy.
Speaking my truth no matter what.
Prioritise my well-being by 'doing the work' and taking care of my own physical, mental and emotional health.
Reaching out and investing in the support needed to keep my personal and business lives on track.
And more...there's always more...but that's enough for now.
The past 5 years have been HUGE. MASSIVE. EPIC. CHALLENGING. TRANSFORMATIONAL. As I write this it feels important that I stop and give a little acknowledgement to how far I've come. It's easy to jump onto 'the next thing' and forget to reflect on the journey and focus on 'what's next'. And thanks to this act of daily committed writing as part of my morning practice, I'm sitting here feeling chuffed this morning at how things have unfolded.
A SHARED SPACE TO DO LIFE
My soul sister/wing woman Amelia, her family and I talked of buying land together in an almost 'community living' setup. It seemed 'practical' to pool resources and live together to support each other in the daily doings of life and for a base where our boys could grow up together (really appealing with Poppit being an only child and oceans away from any cousins), where we live, play, gather in community, run our businesses, various offerings, groups and sessions. We had it all worked out, the dream was alive and felt great.
We looked at land and ultimately decided it best not to mix business with pleasure. At the time it felt like a breakup, it was difficult and sad, soon after were able to accept that we potentially dodged a bullet there. Our friendships are in tact and we're all still really close.
During the pandemic we moved in with my then partner Michael (also from overseas) in Aberdour. It was a simple 1 bedroom place. Michaels son stayed with us during the weekends and Poppit during the week. It was cosy AND it worked. Michael and I have a thing about making any space work, and living in that space together was the perfect test. I ran online Nia sessions from there, ordered bulk food deliveries (storing all that and rearranging the kitchen was a HIGHLIGHT for me), we had friends and their kids dine and stay over (when Covid allowed); it was super cosy, brilliant and for the most part it worked.
SOMETHING & SOMEWHERE TO CALL MY OWN & BECOMING A LAND OWNER IN 2020
Accepting that I would be spending the foreseeable future in Scotland, I longed for somewhere to call 'our own', a space and place where we got to set the tone for how the space would be used. Where we'd invite whoever we wanted and connect in the ways that really mattered. We got a lead on some land a local farmer near Kinross was selling, and after some toing and froing I purchased 4 acres. I was a flipping land owner in Scotland - WTF!! It felt a bit bonkers, and also like the right thing to be doing. The pandemic and all the restrictions gave rise to some pretty big feelings surrounding control which felt forced on me. The turning point for me was when I accepted that it might be difficult to visit the people and places I thought I would and could (like my own family in NZ/Australia) and that actually I could turn this into a positive, to accept and work with what I had. Hang on, I could create a space where we could nurture a base in the country we now called 'home', invite whoever I pleased and for that place to be the base of developing something beautiful in nature and for creating some beautiful memories with the 'friends that felt like family' we were rapidly gathering. PERFECT. And so the land was purchased and we called it BronMok (a combination of my name and Michaels Business name).
It felt so logical to me to have a space like this and to bring together mine and Michaels skills, Michael being one of those super humans who can put his hand to almost anything and create beautiful and useful stuff and me with my 'open to anything attitude and networking skills'. It felt really exciting!!!!
WHEN CHANGE IS NEEDED
Michael and I separated in 2021. This was challenging emotionally. It also changed everything to do with the land. I'd purchased it with a shared vision of how we could use the space. And well, life can have a way of changing course just when you get comfortable can't it. Accepting that managing that amount of land was entirely unrealistic for me (and that actually it wasn't nor had it ever been my original dream) I would have to reassess things. I wasn't sure how I would manage at the time (emotionally and logistically) and had to surrender to letting things unfold as they needed to. And as always seems to happen in my life, timing has a way of healing everything and presenting solutions. The week of breaking up with Michael I ran an event with someone on the land, the following day they asked if I'd be interested in selling any. PERFECT! And now, fast forward 2 years and that family, a friends ex partner and wait for it....Michael have purchased pockets of the land. My buying 4 acres has meant that I've not only been able to carry out my immediate vision of creating a space to gather my own friends in a time when the world had gone crazy and I was feeling far from home but I've also enabled others to bring their dreams to reality. What I've done is enabled the creation of a Community Space - that feels COOL! I've managed to handpick the types of people I'm delighted to call neighbours. Its all worked out (mostly) for the best AND the practical kiwi in me LOVES that collectively we can support each other through contributing and sharing aspects of being landowners. As I write this, I'm the owner of .5 acres, I've sold off 3 and have another .5 available for sale (if you're reading and are interested, please get in touch).
THE THINGS YOU CAN DO AT A PLACE OF YOUR OWN
Over the years so much has gone on at 'The land' (which changed it's name from BronMok to SweetSpot but has always been referred to as 'The Land'). Trees have been planted, produce grown, birthday parties had, campouts, retreats and workshops run, guest facilitators hosted, ceremonies run, building projects, important conversations, friendships strengthened and formed, fire walking, nude dancing, forest sessions, weaving of willow dens, jumping on hay bales (HIGHLIGHT FOR ALL!), loads of fun and laughter and a whole lot of GROWTH. We've literally ALL grown up there.
Its been a haven and a beautiful opportunity to enable some really special times to unfold.
WHEN THE COUNCIL COMES TO TOWN
Full of enthusiasm and a good healthy dose of naivety; operation 'lets develop the land' began. Not long after taking ownership I purchased two static caravans from the local farmer who was able to drag them down the farm track (ticked all my practical kiwi boxes). They needed some attention (cleaning, building alterations, freshening up and organising) so we got that stuff seen to then put them to sweet use in all the glorious ways they were craving to be appreciated.
At some point shortly after acquiring them I received a letter from the local council that I would have to get rid of them, being agricultural land, static caravans did not meet the requirements or suit the look of the the space so I was told they would need to go. And then started the long and arduous process of submitting planning applications, emails and appeals to the council. This kind of thing lives right outside of my 'zone of genius', whilst my 'anything's possible' attitude lives on strong. I was convinced it'd all figure itself out so on we went. In a naïve act of endearing ourselves to the neighbouring properties I wrote a personal letter and hand delivered with the boys to all the local letter boxes. I wanted to be transparent about what my 'wholesome/in the best interests of the local community intentions' were. A 'nice touch' and considerate I thought ;). I'm still glad we did this AND I'm not sure it was an action that worked massively in our favour. I got some really sweet and encouraging responses from the neighbours and some 'back-lash' through the council (a neighbour or two had shared my letter with the council and it became part of the 'evidence' to support the Councils insistence on the removal of the caravans :). I did however get incredibly fortunate and drew in folk 'in the know' to help me to navigate the long winded circus of administration and technicalities connected with council planning applications and such things.
Would I have changed anything?
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but had I known then what I know now would I have done things differently??? I can't answer that for certain, and I'd be lying if I said I wish I'd never bought the caravans and that I wish I'd done things 'in perfect order', that's the obvious and easy way to think and feel, and its not actually my truth. My wise 'one liner' dad told me years ago 'its easier to seek forgiveness than permission', and I kind of live by that (despite the aftermath it sometimes leaves me with). If I'd gone about things according to the rules and regulations, myself and all the peeps I've shared the land with, then we'd NEVER have shared all the lush experiences we've had in that space. Many friendships would never have been deepened and/or formed, connections with nature never had, vegetables never grown, eaten and shared, campfires and marshmallows never toasted, meals never cooked or shared, conversations never had, releasing never happened, laughter not released and joy never had - no thank you!
The ping ponging of correspondence between the council and I continued for over 2 years, I never really worried too much about it, trusting that it would all unfold as it was meant to and mostly anchoring into the gratitude and memories of the times had and shared and seeing each new occasion of connecting with the land and the caravans as 'another gift'.
council calls the shots
The caravans have to go, they're on borrowed time. The shape and face of how the land has been and is used is about to change. It's been a process and for the longest time I've been in denial of this having to happen.
I've been given till the end of August 2023 to remove the caravans otherwise the council are saying they'll come and remove them and the associated costs will be on me..........[I'll invite you to fill the blanks with how this is feeling]
I've had notes of interests and basically everything time when you're dealing with static caravans and potential buyers.
So if you're reading this and you have a bright idea up your sleeve please get in touch.
And with that I am going to sign off with gratitude for your 'tuning in', and watch this space to see what unfolds at 'The Land' from her on in.
Thank you for your time, support and for being the uniquely you YOU.
UPCOMING CLASSES & EVENTS