Ms Robyn Vanholland is a resident of Elements Retirement Living @ Springwood. Robyn is a Fibre Artist, creating amazing baskets, bags and scarfs.
We asked Robyn to share with everyone how she came to live at the village. This is Robyn’s story…
My life has been a wonderful journey, leading me to my new home here at Elements Village.
My husband Jack was 15 years older than me. He was an engineer working in the bauxite and alumina industry while I looked after the family, learnt the language of the country in which we were living at the time. Whilst in The Hague, I worked for the British Council teaching english as a foreign language.
Our life together was wonderful. We were very fortunate to be able to travel the world, moving from Brisbane to Gladstone, to Rome, Sydney, The Hague, Perth and finally returning to Brisbane, to enjoy retirement. I was just 53.
We bought a lovely home in Paddington with room for me to do my basketry. I have been a member for 21 years of Queensland Spinners, Weavers and Fibre Artists and during that time, have run many workshops. It is very satisfying to pass on skills and techniques of crafts to interested people.
There are three to four hundred members of QSWFA and all of them are talented women and men of all ages. We share interests so age is irrelevant. Our group includes felters, spinners, weavers, dyers, knitters, paper makers, artist book makers and of course basketmakers (we are called The Basketcases).
Jack kept busy – as a translator for the Dutch consul. We had a very full life enjoying the opera, theatre and ballet and we had great neighbours and friends. The street Christmas Party was held on our verandah most years.
Jack passed away in 2007. I had the big house with too many stairs. I fell down a few times – my son kept mentioning my black eyes when we would talk on Skype. I was also grieving; I sought help from a psychologist, which was a great. She established signposts for me to move forward. I really believe people should get this kind of support. I also believe you should not make any decisions in the first 12 months of grief.
In the end however you still have to do it on your own – only people who have been through it can appreciate this journey. You will renegotiate your friendships. You become a different entity. Some friendships become stronger, some fade away and it is necessary to accept this.
A friend and I started to look for a new home for me which had no stairs, where I had plenty of space for my crafts and I would feel safe. As soon as I saw Elements village I knew this was it. I put down $1,000 immediately. A Paddington neighbour who is a judge recommended a lawyer to checked the contracts, and that was it.
The first morning I woke up here, I knew I had made the right decision. It is just so comfortable here. I have the bush, the birds, a wonderful breeze moves through my home, and the layout and design are just fantastic.
My family – four grown people – came up for a funeral and it was easy, room for everyone and that second bathroom is a blessing. My bedroom is huge, the other rooms are big and the kitchen is oversize. (But I am over cooking so that is not so important).
Downsizing, I must admit, had its challenges, especially as a young friend convinced me to buy new furniture – more Scandinavian in style to go with the light open air feel of the unit. The village offered to store my old stuff while I sorted myself out. It took away the pressure.
While I have moved from the city, my life hasn’t changed; in fact it is easier and better in many ways. I still go to the markets at Kelvin Grove; its takes just 20 minutes to drive there. With a bus to the city every 15 minutes and it drops me at the Performing Arts Centre, I have no problems going to plays, ballet and concerts in the evenings.
I have my office set up so I am in contact with the world but I have bush next door for long walks. And I am free to travel. I just lock the door and everything is looked after for me. The owners really keep an eye out for you.
But best of all is the layout and clever space. I can spread out with my crafts in different areas, and move in and out of the back garden easily from several work-areas. Everything is close at hand and I have plenty of space. The front porch is my sanctuary looking out over the trees, great for breakfast and reading the paper. I no longer worry about falls.
I made the right decision.