pictures of you


Once upon a time when I was a suit, (the marketing kind), I was flicking through photos trying to select one for a banking brochure. They were "aspirational" photos designed, in our case, to inspire people to invest for a lifestyle.


There I was, expensive hair, nice suit, nice office, excellent city life. Holding a photo in my hand of some woman with vegetables in a basket she'd evidently just pulled out of the ground, and a russet coloured hand knitted beanie. 

I could not put it down.



We did not use that photo for our brochures, even though it was in our portfolio. We used a shot of a man and a child sitting on the end of a pier, legs dangling in the sun.

And I never, ever forgot how I felt, looking at that photo of that woman. 

That was in 2001, exactly ten years ago.

From then until now I gradually and almost unconsciously strove to become her. She didn't represent a bank to me (for heaven's sake), but she was standing right in the place I desperately wanted to be rather than that lovely office. 



Hello. My name is Fiona and I adore my chooks. I cannot seem to leave the house in clean clothes. This morning I actually went out wearing jeans that the pigs had splashed sour milk all over. In fact, I still appear to be wearing them this afternoon, in this photo. Every jumper or cardigan I have has a snag in the same place on the shoulder from the bad gate I never get around to fixing. There are many days I dread visitors coming to the door because my house is such a state. (And I don't mean that jovially and just that I haven't wiped down the bathroom. I mean capital S state.) But I no longer flick through photos wondering when my real life is going to start. This is it. Snags and all. 

And for that I am speechlessly grateful.

What about you? Is there a photo of you in your element? 


30 Comments on “pictures of you

lily boot
October 10, 2011 at 11:02 pm

not yet! I mean, what we have now is lovely and all and I am very grateful and happy. But my element? No. I want our own home – that is old and beautiful and a bit ridiculous and desperate that we can slowly bring back to life – spend 20 years rubbing and mending and polishing on the inside – and even longer tending and weeding and growing and sitting in the outside. So you’ll just have to wait for that photo a bit longer 😉 And I know you are in yours, even without the photo – I can hear it in your daily words.

October 10, 2011 at 11:16 pm

Send me the photo when you get there, will you?! I love the sound of that place. xx

Thrifty Household
October 10, 2011 at 11:54 pm

You look soooooo very happy there with your chooks in the sunshine- good for you!

October 10, 2011 at 11:54 pm

I’m on my way to being the woman you describe in the photo. Sometimes I despair because I’m not there yet, but then I remember that every day I’m a bit closer. I’ll have a mudroom one day, I’ll really need it too because I’m going to be getting very grubby on my herb farm!

October 11, 2011 at 12:01 am

I have a photo of me with my hand up a puppet – wisecracking away. That would be my element….much silliness and giggling.

October 11, 2011 at 12:21 am

At our place there is a photo up on the ledge above the fireplace. It is a photo of me about a season or two after we moved to our farm. In the photo I am holding the hugest basket of rainbow chard that I am about to go and sell to the local organic shop. I planted the seeds and watered them, weeded them and tended to them and then I picked them. In the photo I have the biggest smile ever on my face. This was it! We were living our dream. I often walk past that pic and think of that time and can’t help but smile.

October 11, 2011 at 12:22 am

ps. ypur pictures make me smile too. x

October 11, 2011 at 1:36 am

love this post!

October 11, 2011 at 6:03 am

I love the last photo. Great stuff!

October 11, 2011 at 7:50 am

Fabulous pics!
I have a photo that I didn’t know was being taking of me looking less than glamorous leaning over the fence and kissing my horse on the nose. I look so happy and in the moment.

island dweller
October 11, 2011 at 8:40 am

Great post. You’ve got me thinking about what my picture is…

October 11, 2011 at 8:53 am

Am about to google mudroom! What is that?!

October 11, 2011 at 8:55 am

Actually I have a photo of you with your hand up a puppet too! You can see more of Dizzy than you though. I love your element. xx

October 11, 2011 at 8:56 am

I love that. Ive been thinking of you in your business meetings right now!! Hope the plan is coming together. xx

October 11, 2011 at 8:58 am

Oh yes! The horse kisser! Thats perfect. xx

October 11, 2011 at 9:19 am

I love every one of those photos. You look so happy and relaxed. I am thinking very hard about what my photo would be – my youngest will be in preschool soon, then big school which means i need to think about what I want to do. Has been on my mind even more since this week my baby brother started his dream, save the world, kind of job.

October 11, 2011 at 11:49 am

I love this post! There isn’t one of me yet (I take all the photos at my place, hence lots of pictures of everyone except me) but if there was a picture I would like it to be one of me sitting on the back steps with no shoes on, shelling a big bowl of peas, whilst watching the kids run around the back yard playing with the chooks.

kim at allconsuming
October 11, 2011 at 12:02 pm

I’m at a place at the moment when I doubt we will ever get to our dream. And that makes me panic slightly. I’ll let you know OK? OK.

October 11, 2011 at 3:21 pm

What a wonderful tale & photos. It actually made me cry a little. We aren’t wholly living our dream right now but we are working very hard to get there, with an interstate move on Monday getting us closer again. In our photo we’ll be sitting having a cuppa in front of our strawbale home that we built, the chooks, dogs, goats and pigs will be milling around while the kids will be running around through the veggie patch covered it dirt, with beaming smiles on their faces and just by looking at them you can imagine the laughter heard each day around our home. There’ll be new hives too : )

October 11, 2011 at 4:16 pm

I’m a lawyer who is planting a market garden with my partner (in our spare time). I go into the supermarket in my filthy jeans and my gum boots covered in mud and there are sticks in my hair and smears of gawd knows what on my face and it LOVE it. it is the best feeling in the world. My photo would be of me standing out in our just-planted orchard chatting to my fruit trees, all sweating and smear-y from watering by hand via bucket. Good times. Great times.

October 11, 2011 at 8:34 pm

Love this post! Your joy is palpable! Am so happy for you! As for me, I dont know what photo looks like! You would’ve kind of thought by 41 it would’ve been clear!! I have just started an AWESOME new job, my boys are DIVINE, life is crazy, busy, fun, stressful, relaxing, happy and sometimes a little sad! I love it! So, I guess that picture is me, right now and it will change again, and again, and again! I love change!!!

October 11, 2011 at 9:04 pm

Hi Fiona, I think this is my first time commenting but I’ve been reading your blog for a few months & I love it! My happy picture could almost be identical to yours – standing with my chooks – except I have blonde hair & pink gumboots! When I was a little girl I was given a book to write in every year & one of the things to fill in was what do you want to be when you grow up. I had a variety of things on there from fighter pilot to secretary to vet to lawyer! (I eventually became a nurse & now work in our own business doing HR – neither of which I had written down!) But when I was 8 I wrote I want to have 3 boys & marry a farmer. Well I have 3 boys now & my husband isnt exactly a farmer but he is from the country & for the last 4 years we have lived on 3.5 acres (in the city) with our chickens, sheep & dog & cat! I want to pinch myself most days that I am lucky enough to be living right where I want to be & right with the people I would choose. I am very very grateful that I am living in my happy place right now..

elaine rickett
October 11, 2011 at 9:45 pm

The picture that made my change my lifestyle from being a ‘suit’ was on the front cover of a book called ‘Living Better on Less’ by Patrick Rivers (this was way back in 1977). On the front cover was a drawing of a man loaded up with hp agreements, credit cards, school fees etc. and another man simply riding a bicycle with a hoe over his shoulder. The picture and the book stayed with me whilst I ditched my old life and became a ‘smallholder’ – I have never looked back.

October 11, 2011 at 10:00 pm

Oh a mudroom is a wonderful room! It’s a room between outdoors and indoors where muddy boots are removed and wet coats are hung up on hooks. I suppose it’s a bit of a cross between a laundry and a foyer.

Greg Twemlow
October 11, 2011 at 10:21 pm

Im so glad you allowed yourself Fiona to rise to the surface. It so “suits” you.
Ill try and get a pic of me pulling out the garlic soon – that feels like my current element : )

October 11, 2011 at 10:23 pm

lovely post – this is the stuff that makes the blog world turn for me. Less perfection and more squeezable honesty. not sure we are on a 7 month trip running away from winter so that makes it a bit confusing – am loving where we are now though – back where we were 7 years before and before kids = but with them this time..

October 12, 2011 at 3:45 pm

agree!! lovely post. funnily I have one of me with my chooks, very pregnant, I’m not even looking at the camera, in the garden…

makes me happy to look at it!

October 12, 2011 at 8:57 pm

you really do look like you are in your element!

October 23, 2011 at 9:43 am

Love this post. My friends tease me that Im always wearing an apron and usually covered in a spill of some kind. 🙂 I just found your blog today and Im having a lot of fun reading through. So much so I’ve added you to my side bar so I can come back. 😉

October 23, 2011 at 8:40 pm

Cool! Nice to meet you!


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