The Notepad is a monthly column written by @rubyclaireee exploring what it means to be a guest on this wild and abundant planet. Most of these thoughts have been scribbled, in some way, in the notepad she carries in her backpack (or pannier).

You’re sitting on a train, staring out the window like you’re on some god-forsaken rom-com and you’re feeling exhausted. It’s 5:30pm and you’re resenting the fact you have to think about what to eat for dinner every night for the rest of your life. 


You like your job. It’s challenging and your boss is tolerable and you’ve gotten to the point with your work colleagues where you can send them a meme outside office hours and they’ll actually reply. But some days, like today, you wonder how the hell you’ve gotten here.


How you arrived at the 9-5 despite spending your early 20s boldly claiming you’d NEVER be one of those white-walled office suckers, would never let the grind make a pulp out of your human vessel.

My name is Ruby, I’m 28, and my human vessel is well and truly pulped.


I forgot the Joy of Outside - Ruby Claire. Outdoors, picnic


I work 45-hour weeks, sometimes 60. I catch the train home, pick up something for dinner and then I flop onto my bed and fumble between my book and the doom scroll until I fall asleep. And that’s it. That’s the routine. THAT is how I spend 70% of my waking life. 

When I get into this rut, I turn to photos of times spent camping and hiking and wild swimming. I imagine a life built on the principles I once held in high esteem: live wholly, live fully, live freely. I romanticise my years freelancing – working a handful of hours when I felt like it, and spending the rest of my time lolling about on a blanket in the bush. 

Who was that girl?



Right now, I know my balance is out of whack. I feel it in my shoulders and behind my knees. I am agitated and grumpy and I just want to GET OUT.

I’ve always been ambitious. In recent years, I’ve felt the exasperation of many of us who care about people and planet, and as a result, have committed to using my ambition to influence decision-makers at the helm of injustice.

So when I join a new project or take on a new client, I work hard. I get hungry because I’m emotionally invested. I haul my whole damn body at the thing. And I love it.

I love my team and the office humour and the routine of work. I love it not because ‘capitalism told me to’, but because I genuinely find the work stimulating. Please don’t demonise me for this. 

But sometimes, despite it all, I just want to hit stop. I want to stop waking up with a sore jaw from teeth clenching. I want to stop sitting at the desk until the sun goes down. I just want a little mental peace. 

But no, I don’t want a life coach and a tropical paradise. I just want balance.


Whenever I reach this junction in my life, I write about it. I pull out my journal and I argue the merits of work and the merits of less work for more lifestyle. A pattern has emerged through all this journaling. I’ve learned that when this agitation arises, it’s because I don’t have anything to look forward to. I don’t have a multi-day hike in the diary or a bike-packing route mapped out, and my tent is gathering dust.

I misjudged just how much a little scheduled adventure does to keep me motivated. Not motivated to get through the day as such, but motivated to navigate the rise and fall of it.

So no, I don’t need to ‘quit my job’. I just need a plan.

Spring has arrived, which means the wildflowers are coming too. The wild spaces I loved in winter will be making their seasonal evolution, and the opportunity to delight in all that growth is before me. So I’m looking at some tracks. I’m re-organising my outdoor cupboard. I’m floating some ideas with friends. I’m making a plan a priority and I’m scheduling some more time outside.