Meet Sophie Renzen
This week I wanted to share with you a snippet of Sophie Renzen's thoughts. Seriously this girl has a beautiful way with words. And her view on life, travel, balance and motherhood aligns so well with my own. We chatted to her about her dramatic move, slowing down and travelling with her kids Gabe (6), Milo (4), and Edie (1). Be swept up, inspired and challenged by her words.
You have recently moved from the busy Gold Coast to the small town of Wooli in NSW. What influenced such a dramatic change?
I think we just realised what we needed, and what we didn't, what we felt we wanted for this phase in our lives, and what really, could fall away; this lead us to explore other places which we felt might suit our needs a bit better than the place we were living in. We were searching for somewhere we could build a home and raise our children, and live a more natural lifestyle than the one we were living.
We had been moving around a bit, living in different houses, we just couldn’t make up our minds about which suburb we wanted to live in, and I think everything felt so confusing because we both knew we had outgrown the city lifestyle, but for some reason we hadn’t thought to look outside of it, I guess because it felt familiar, and seemed uncomfortable to move outside of it. As soon as we did though, things became so clear, we felt passionate, and directional, and started exploring places we felt more drawn to than the Gold Coast.
We really wanted to dig in our roots, create a place we could all call “home” for the next 10 years or so, through the kids “young years”. The only problem was, figuring out where that would be…and then we found Wooli. It was exactly what we’d been subconsciously searching for; this tiny little town was surrounded by national park, had a beautiful long river running along one side, and the beach ran along the other, it was natural perfection. There was so much to explore in and around the area, so much adventure to be had for us and the kids; we just knew in the two days that we spent there that this was where we had to be.
It was scary, but we just had to rip away our old life, like a bandaid, pack up everything, sell all of what we didn’t need, leave all of our friends, family, much of what had felt so comfortable, and just trust that our hearts were leading us down the right path.
We have been here now since January, and wouldn’t look back in a million years, this place is so calm, so natural, it’s like heaven on earth. We thank the stars, daily, for having led us in the right direction, it has turned our whole lives around, and changed us all for the better..We are very blessed.
Has this move impacted your family's life in slowing down and in a way ‘grown a space’ for you and your family to connect on a deeper level?
Absolutely. On the Gold Coast, so much seemed to always distract me from the things that were of key importance. I knew what they were, always, but struggled to focus my energy into only those things. I wanted to put so much time into my family, my relationship with my husband, and my children as well, but I always felt like my time was being stretched too thin. With school drop offs, and going here and there, and social meet ups, and just feeling so spread out I guess, I wasn't able to contain and channel my energy into where I wanted it to go the most.
Now it’s so different, my husband and I work less because our outgoings are so much less, living so much more simply, in a town with no shops, so very little expenses. We have so much family time, it’s beautiful, everything is so compact. I have the space now for all those things that meant a lot to me, always, but that I wasn’t giving enough of my time to.
We have created a beautiful veggie garden, we are about to build our own home, well my husband is, he is a builder, we walk to the beach, to the river, ride our bikes, and we lose very little time on the road, or stuck in traffic, as we used to, it’s all so much easier, and feels so much calmer.
What I love the most, is that I can lay, breastfeed, play, tickle, laugh with my kids for hours, on a bed, or on the grass, with nowhere else in the world I need to be, with nothing else calling out to me, or distracting me, and I feel able now, to do this so regularly. The tragedy is that I didn’t even recognise before, how much my life lacked these big stretches of completely focussed time for my family, and how much my heart so desperately needed them.
Your instagram feed depicts a love for the outdoors and getting into nature with the family. What is it about these ‘nature’ moments that causes you to make it a priority in your family’s life?
I think for a lot of my life I found it really hard to actually feel "grounded", I was quite flighty, and lived in my head a lot, I went to film school after high school and was always engaged in creative pursuits, I moved to New York after that to live out my creative dreams but was never really content internally. We started camping most weekends and holidays after Edie was born, always immersing ourselves in nature, wherever it was; bush, ocean, it didn't matter, but it became really obvious to me, just as a feeling, that this was what had been missing in my life for a very long time.
So now, being connected to the earth, every day, has become a priority, I sometimes go deep and have made many personal discoveries that could explain why it is so important, but honestly, it doesn't matter, and it doesn't need an explanation, what matters is that you make time for it, because when your hands connect with the soil, your feet connect with the sand as it slides through your toes, your body enjoys the tingling sensation of the ocean on your skin, you know that it is good for you, and when you know that, you just naturally set out to do it more.
With 3 kids and plenty of time spent on the road exploring the East Coast of Australia. What are your tips for travelling with young kids?
Find yourself a rhythm, even when on the road, and try to keep it similar to the one your children are used to. It doesn't really matter what it is, but keep it consistent. Children can't see as well as us the bigger picture, so they rely more on having a consistent daily rhythm for their sense of security. It can be really confusing and exhausting for them on the road, and because you are also out of your comfort zone trying to attend to things you aren't used to, like tents, and washing up, preparing food in different ways, you sometimes forget to tune into their needs. So if I was to give advice it would be to hold onto your awareness first and make your children's needs and feelings a priority, or they can become stressed and highly emotional, which can then alter your whole experience.
Make the trip as slow paced as you can, too much movement, and too many places, can become overwhelming, make the most of each place, experience it, enjoy it, hold your kids close when they need to be held close, and don’t hold onto any major expectations. Travel is a beautiful thing, so just try to let go, and enjoy the freedom that you’ve created for yourselves.