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Text and photos by Julie Moir Messervy

Freshwater Beach, Northern Beaches, New South Wales

I’m very lucky. Over the past forty years, I’ve enjoyed a creative work life that allows me to do all the things I love. When my dear father died in August, I realized that it was time for a true break from my usual productivity. As I thought about where in the world would make me happiest during a time of mourning, it was the Northern Beaches of Sydney, Australia, where my daughter Charlotte and her fiancé Michael have been living for the past two years. Thanks to a visit last year, I knew it was a place—and a climate—in which I could recover from my loss by completely changing my point of view.

So in early November, at the onset of our winter, I flew across the world to enjoy early summer Down Under in my own little Airbnb next to the Pacific Ocean. Every day I read, wrote in my journal, swam, walked for miles, and attended yoga classes at Qi Yoga’s beautiful studios in Freshwater and Manly. And for the first time in my life, I turned over all decision-making around the business to my talented team, who collaborated seamlessly during my absence.

I expected nothing of myself, but received ample gifts in return. Every morning I would read a chapter of Donna Farhi’s 2003 book, Bringing Yoga to Life. An immaculate, elegant thinker and writer, Farhi uses the ancient yogic texts to explain how yoga can become a complete life practice and a path to self-awareness. By the end of my six weeks, I had re-read her book three times, each time understanding more about myself and my life. At the end of my daily yoga sessions, during Savasana (corpse pose), I was able to slow down my usual train of thought to concentrate on just breathing. And on my long walks and daily swims, I could look outward at the beautiful landscape to see inward and understand myself—and my ideas—with new eyes. The result, from my six weeks of being back at work again, is that I now micro-manage less and accomplish more. My reaction times are slower and my big picture vision even broader. And I turn to my colleagues for help more often, so my decisions are more informed. Thanks to such a major change in my point of view, I am now, in Donna Farhi’s words, “becoming the world in which I wish to live.”

Waves crash over my favorite ocean pool at North Curl Curl Beach (yes, two “curls”!).

Join the discussion 11 Comments

  • Frederick Perez says:

    Julie so sorry for your loss . May God comfort you and strengthen you as you go forward from here .

  • mary ellen flanagan says:

    Julie, I have long admired your work. What a gift you have chosen to receive through the loss of your father. Thank you for sharing your very personal insights. You continue to inspire. Keep well.

  • Melissa Birdsong says:

    So very sorry to learn of your father’s passing and the difficult journey through grief. But also so happy to read your story of renewal–very life affirming. All the best to you as you apply and share what you have learned. I’m sure your father would be proud.

  • Kim Garcia says:

    Julie, I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m glad you’ve found a place to be that refills the well. I’ve visited Manly and enjoyed Qi Yoga, so I know exactly how refreshing that place can be. I hope you’ve had a chance to swim in the ocean pool by Fairy Bower. There used to be a coffeeshop on the way and a good restaurant farther on. Watch for the Manly Nippers on Saturday mornings. They jump into the waves with such joy.


  • Charlotte says:

    What a beautiful glimpse into your Australia trip. Can’t wait to make this an annual series.

  • Thank you all for writing. Your feedback keeps me writing!

    My wonderful father died peacefully with his children and wife at his side. While we miss him every day, we were so lucky to have him in our lives for so long.

    Yes, I’ll be going back every year to swim in each ocean pool I can find, including Fairy Bower!


  • Wally Marx says:


    What an inspiring story you told of your experience. A true “lesson in life” that we could all take to heart.

    I was introduced to your mind and work twenty years ago through “The Inward Garden.” The tranquil simplicity of the Japanese gardens you lived and studied seem more illusive in our contemporary life. But it seems that with your unique six week journey you rediscovered “il faut cultivar notre jardin.” And you are “becoming the world in which I wish to live.” So happy for you.

  • Elizabeth Bowman says:

    Hi Julie
    I am sorry to hear of your father’s passing. I love you choice of healing and wish you much happiness in coming years. I know my daughter Erica has enjoyed opportunities that working with you has presented. I continue in my own gardening business.
    Enjoy the moment,

  • julie christison says:

    So sorry for your loss, your father was wonderful and I always smile remembering the water follies. Mom (101 yrs) and I often comment about our fond memories of your family when we drive past the old house. I so enjoyed your perspective and thoughts spurred by this change in your family, please keep writing.

  • How wonderful to hear from you all–old friends, neighbors, colleagues all! Thank you for these lovely words and thoughts.


  • Kathy Conklin says:

    Dear Julie,

    How wonderful that you chose the passing of your dear father as a time for your own renewal in Australia. Your story is very inspiring to read.

    I have been to Australia and did a short jump over to Tasmania, and hope to get back. My next door neighbors are from NZ, so hoping to join them on one of their extended trips there.

    I hope to see you at reunion!