‘Why not?’ lifestyle


There is so much beauty and goodness in the world to be experienced. But our choices and attitudes rob us of opportunities to participate fully in life; we get stuck in ruts of our own making.

It’s one thing to live with carefree abandon and adventure when you are single and young. But we have four kids, a mortgage and a picket fence. So how did we break out of the urban professional rut without opting out completely? Everyone has heard the proverbial wisdom about people on their deathbeds not wishing they’d spent more time at work. But not everyone makes decisions to ensure they get to the end with no regrets. We’re giving it a go.

For us, living well and fully is not about hedonism or an addiction to experience. We have found that deep satisfaction comes from harmonising, and integrating into normal living, three things: pleasure, goodness and meaning. Pleasure celebrates the beauty of the physical world, what we see, hear, touch, feel and smell. Goodness has two parts; commitments firstly to wholesome and ethical living and secondly to lifelong learning, becoming a better person.

However, the deepest satisfaction comes when we give and make meaningful contributions to the welfare of others. Pleasure and goodness alone are insufficient for the highest, most exhilarating form of living … meaning generated through service is fundamental. Most socially intelligent people realize this eventually, but many people pursue pleasure and goodness for decades before stumbling on the paradox that ‘giving back’ rarely happens if we wait until we think we can afford it.

Our human inclinations toward pleasure, goodness and meaning are strong, but the often self-imposed obstacles can be substantial. Welcome to a journey, where our response to these inclinations is a simple question, ‘why not’?

Some background

  • Maria’s same-age cousin Darryn was the archetypal Aussie male; friendly, adventurous and a bit maverick.  At age 40 he got motor neuron disease. We attended his funeral in June 2010 after a tragic and heart wrenching physical decline. Maria knew it could just as easily have been her.
  • Our daughter Heidi, and her long time friend Glenn were destined to be together. Heidi was deeply happy as they set themselves toward a long relationship. Then on a fateful day in September 2010, Heidi received the call that changed our family forever. The skydiving plane carrying Glenn and 8 others crashed soon after take-off on New Zealand’s Fox Glacier. There were no survivors. For the first time we knew in our bones that sometimes things don’t work out OK.
  • My parents did their best to protect my fair skin from the sun during my childhood. But in Australia in the 70’s sunburn was part of every summer. Three cancers including two malignant melanomas later, I have a constant sense of this dark, secretive poison playing hide and seek in my body. Not to find it will be fatal.

Live with no regrets. Live every month as if it was our last in this season. Savour the moment.

  • It has helped us that we lived for many years on a very low and variable income. My job in the NFP sector and our decision that Maria remain at home when the children were young meant we raised our family hand to mouth. But we were happy and lacked nothing that mattered. That experience means that we have never taken money for granted. We have enjoyed a more conventional income in recent years but know we could forfeit it and live on much less if we chose to or had to. We gratefully take nothing for granted.

It’s not about money. Practise contentment not envy. Pursue dreams and passions

  • Like hundreds of thousands of others, we fantasised about travelling around Australia in a caravan. But that wasn’t enough. Because if you press pause on ‘real life’, even for twelve months, you still have to go back. So we thought about how to integrate what we wanted to experience into our regular living. We did buy a caravan, but instead of disappearing for one year, we’ve lived in it for three months every year, usually in three-five week blocks. It was one of the best decisions we’ve made.
  • Instead of waiting to retire near the coast, we left our home of 20 years in inner city Melbourne and moved to our fantasy location on the Sunshine Coast. This meant leaving our three adult children in Melbourne and relocating our 14 year old daughter into a brand new life. It means an insane travel schedule for me, working either in Port Moresby or Melbourne during the week, and home for three or four day weekends. I have a car in Andrew’s Airport Parking every day; either in Brisbane or Melbourne. Insane, costly and fabulous.

There are always options, we are not stuck. Choices have associated consequences, so either embrace the consequences and get on with it, or be content with the status quo.

(Have also added this as a static page.)

seachange honeymoon

Hello everyone. Being in the middle of the storms in QLD was pretty surreal. Our apartment is on the fourth floor, so while we could see, hear and feel the strength of the wind and saturating rain via our balcony, we were pretty much spectators without any real vulnerability. At one point I was going to venture out to immerse myself in the ‘beauty of nature’s strength’, but once at ground level realised the folly of my ways. In the street the wind speed would have made simply staying on my feet a challenge let alone the danger of flying debris.

I was at home for four nights. The cyclonic conditions for two days were sandwiched by storms and clouds. Gaylene’s (Maria’s mum) flight back to Launceston was understandably cancelled, so not an insignificant amount of time was spent on the phone navigating contact centre bureaucracy, sorting alternative plans. And Pat, our trusty old Patrol that had recently hauled our caravan 2000kms north spluttered and then refused to start again.

Now I typically don’t cope so well when things I am relying on don’t work. But I’m on a Sunshine Coast seachange honeymoon right now, and storms, bureaucracy and broken down cars were just water off this duck’s back. I feel like the luckiest bloke on the planet. Home is so sweet right now.

Normally, being shut in a windowless hotel meeting room is the stuff of nightmares. But I’ve just walked out of two intense days with a small group of PNGSDP Execs and Board members in Brisbane and was really pleased with the work we got done. My work continues to introduce me to some amazing, even great people. I had heard plenty about Sir Mekere Morauta, and working with him this morning confirmed what I had heard.

And now I’m poking at airline food en route to Cairns so I can get the redeye (4am rise) into Port Moresby for a workshop tomorrow afternoon. Dinner on our postcard balcony on the Sunshine Coast seems a world away. I wonder what Maria and Johanna are eating, and how Johanna is feeling about her first day at a new school tomorrow? I am thinking of them. When I get to my room later tonight I’ll have to check Maria’s blog to see what image she has chosen to tell today’s story.



I have been lucky. Walking through the front door at the end of a working day has been a genuinely wonderful experience for me for many years. Home has been where Maria is and where the kids have grown up. But it has also strongly been associated with ‘place’.  For the last 20 years that has been our little piece of urbania in Brunswick East that we have shaped to reflect who we are.


Our friend Alison has an incredibly good blog called the Idea of Home. I also love the notion of a town as home as in the Lucky Wonders, Thing About Leaving (scroll down to track 9 on Lay Down My Arms) But one of the challenges for me in 2013 is re-imagining what ‘home’ means.

My evenings and sleeping will happen in 3 places spread over 4000kms. In the past, time away for work has been just that: time away [from home]. But I figure that to make the most of the travel time and evenings I need to shift my mindset. This hotel room in Port Moresby has to be ‘home’ in way that it has never been before. The sofa bed in the library at Roslin, our Victorian terrace office in West Melbourne has to be more than a transient couch.

No doubt, the trip up the Bruce Highway from Brisbane airport to our apartment on the Sunshine Coast will certainly feel like a homecoming  because that’s where Maria will be and where we’ve chosen to spend most of our time. But moving to a new place, especially doing the sea change into a new community will have its challenges.

I’ve got many friends who live transient lives. Carol Lawson has already offered some tips in her comment here. My brother and sister-in-law live the most transient life imaginable and we’ve talked lots with them. But I’m curious to hear from others – what have you learned about ‘home’ when living an itinerant lifestyle?