Rainbow Maker: Magdalena Roze, Byron Bay
Text KATE PASCOE SQUIRES
Photography KATE PASCOE SQUIRES
You might be forgiven for looking at the life of Magdalena Roze and thinking it’s complete perfection. Living on the beach in Byron with her three boys – sons Archie (3) and Charlie (1) and husband, chef and restaurant owner Darren Robertson, Magdalena seems to strike the perfect balance between being a mother and a wife and a dynamic career (presenter, journalist, meteorologist, wholefoods cook and author). But a balance like this doesn’t come easily. Difficult decisions need to be made and priorities need to be upheld and respected. No one is immune to the roller-coaster of the everyday, but Magdalena finds joy in it all. She’s definitely got all the good vibes going on – and even managed to summon the most magnificent sunset rainbow for The Slowdown shoot. Yes, she’s sharp as a whip, but there might just be a little bit of magic behind this impressive woman.
Talk to me about your Slowdown. How does that resonate with you?
It resonates a lot with me as I feel like it’s both the path I’ve been on for the last few years, and the phase of life I’m in right now having two small children. It’s funny, because we moved to Byron Bay with the purpose of creating a restaurant on a farm – it wasn’t a conscious decision to slow down. But I’ve found that by living in a place like Byron, living slower has crept up on us. There isn’t as much “noise”, both literally and metaphorically, which opens you up to being more present. Things seem to move slower here, people seem to have more time to say hello on the street or chat in the shopping line, which at first might seem annoying when you’re the person behind them! But once you get in that flow, it’s really lovely.
When my mum moved up here, she asked me what she needed to do to prepare herself and I was like, you’ll get used to everything, the only thing you need to embrace is waiting for things. Your coffee will take longer, you may stand in the shopping line longer, your online shopping will take longer to arrive… and the beauty is that you’ll realise it’s ok. You might even meet a new person or read something cool on the noticeboard waiting for that coffee, or just get a moment to be with yourself.
You are a presenter, journalist, meteorologist and wholefoods cook, in addition to being a mum to Archie (3) and Charlie (1). How do you bring slow into your every day?
I try and tap into their rhythm, which is naturally slower. The kids aren’t at school yet, so I’m trying to appreciate slow mornings in our pjs and not rushing out the door without good reason. It’s made me question the way I do things. For example, when I am rushing them out the door, I sometimes ask myself “What am I rushing for?” and unless it’s an important appointment or something, more often than not I’ve found that there really is no need. Modern life has just made it habit to run at a frantic pace.
Day to day, a lot of my slow down comes from food and cooking. Things like shopping at the farmer’s markets and knowing the face behind what we eat, cooking and preparing simple food the old way like our mothers and grandmothers used to, and community… it’s all gently pushed me towards slower and more nourished.
I also try and get the kids out into nature as much as possible and we spend most afternoons unwinding at the beach. The kids let off steam and get dirty in the sand, while I try and wash away the day with a swim. It’s not always bliss, and can be the scene of a meltdown, but that’s ok because if there’s steam or emotions that need to be let out, there’s plenty of space to do it for everyone!
Do you think we can teach our children the joy of slow and, if so, how do you impart this knowledge onto your boys?
The beautiful thing is that when it comes to the joy of slow and being present, I don’t think that children need to be taught this – they are our teachers. So I think it’s more about us nurturing their slow and tapping into their flow. Somehow it gets drummed out of us and then we spend much of our adult life trying to find it again through everything from yoga to meditation!
Do you get the opportunity to take stock during the day?
It’s so easy to get caught up with all the doing, especially with little ones in tow – do you ever get the chance to simply be? My gosh, so much to do – always! Despite our sea change and having adjusted my work to focus on family, it’s still a juggle meeting the needs of everyone and I’m often the last priority on the day’s to-do list! In the first few months of my youngest Charlie, I used our breastfeeds as time to “be”, so I made a decision not to have my phone on me or watch TV, but to just sit there – which might seem like a long time to be doing “nothing.” But after a few days of doing it, I came to really enjoy and look forward to it. Maybe it was the hormones but I remember being really happy during those months.
Are there things you do just for you?
A few months into the juggle of two kids and barely surviving, Darren and I negotiated two mornings a week where we get to do something for ourselves and mine is yoga. I love that it’s just as much about the mind as it is about moving, and it really sets me up for the daily rollercoaster of motherhood!
You moved to Byron Bay from Sydney a few years ago now. Have you found living in Byron as idyllic as we all dream it to be? Do you miss Sydney life?
Moving here was the best decision for both our personal and work lives, which is surprising when it comes to the latter. I love the variety of work I do and the doors that have opened since moving to Byron, but it’s important to say that it didn’t come easily. After the first few weeks of moving, I found myself without purpose and questioning what I was doing here, and whether leaving behind my busy career in television (which I really enjoyed) was worth it. I went from being super busy to not having much to do. I had a bit of an identity crisis! But this “discomfort” ended up being humbling and forced me to just go for what I really love doing, which was scary, but so liberating at the same time. I miss my Sydney friends and restaurants, and I do think it’s important to get out of the bubble now and again, but I’m very grateful to be in Byron at this stage of our life with a young family. I love the food, the community, the beach life. We experience hectic days, sleepless nights and tantrums like everyone, but I often laugh that this is a pretty good place to be doing it!
Have you ever experienced a life event (the birth of a baby, health issues, career change) that has triggered your need for slow? Was it a harsh or gentle lesson?
Apart from the above, my post-natal experience after my first child taught me a lot about the necessity of slowing down. I was completely depleted with low milk supply, so breastfeeding and recovery didn’t come naturally for me. I was lucky enough to find a lot of really great people to help me, like a lactation expert and an amazing doctor in the region, Dr Oscar Serrallach, that specialises in post-natal depletion. Basically, everything he says about the modern post-natal experience – the exhaustion, overwhelm, brain fog etc – really resonated with me and I decided to take a much more nourishing approach towards myself with my second which made a huge difference. You can read his interview on Goop here, I highly recommend it to any mums or mums to be.
Where do you find moments of pure joy?
Being with my children – their expressions, the funny things they say, their joy, their “firsts”… it’s just the best. Good food like fresh sourdough and butter, or a great glass of wine. Hanging out at the beach during sunset. Daz and I being able to fit in a coffee and crossword. It’s so nerdy, but we love it and it’s something we used to do almost every morning before kids so it’s a treat these days! The simple things.
How do you balance your social media presence with living a real, connected life?
I try and have boundaries around when I use it so things like not checking it first thing in the morning or when I’m with people and having set times that I do, so that it’s not taking away from my real life. Social media is a tricky one because there’s a lot of good in it, like community, kinship, support and inspiration. I’ve learned a lot from people and gained really cool ideas and recipes, but there’s a very inauthentic and addictive side to it too that’s difficult to escape. I think it’s important to just remind ourselves that it’s a highly edited version of everyone’s life, a highlights reel. One thing I like to tell myself is that the grass isn’t greener on the other side, it’s green where I water it. I get sucked in like everyone, but a few days or even weeks off social media does wonders. I went off it for around a month over Christmas and it was so good!
Do you agree with the premise that we all need to slow down at times or do you think we can really do it all, all of the time?
I believe that we can “do it all”, but it will always come at a price – whether it’s health or relationships – so unless we do slow down, it’s only sustainable up to a point. It depends on what one defines as doing it all, but for me, it’s not a badge of honour. Modern society seems to reward being “super busy” and while it’s taken a few years, I’m now very comfortable with not being super busy and I prioritise doing fewer things that are important to me rather than trying to cram it all in. Of course, I still have weeks where I seem to take on too much – but in general, whenever I’m posed with an opportunity, I ask myself, “If I say yes to this, what am I saying no to? And if I say no to this, what am I saying yes to?” Usually, this helps me make the right decision. Funnily enough, I feel that by saying no more, I have attracted more abundance in the form of quality work and quality time with people. So “slowing down” doesn’t necessarily mean having less, often it’s just less of the crap stuff!
For those of us who are walking our own slow down path and searching for the joy, do you have any ideas to share that might assist us in our journey?
For work, family or financial reasons, not everyone can (or even wants to) ditch the big smoke for a sea or tree change, but everyone can experience ‘slower” by simply disconnecting with technology every once in a while. It’s hard to imagine or remember what we used to do with ourselves when we waited for a bus or friend at a restaurant. We’re so accustomed to filling every waking moment with information, entertainment or social media at the expense of real relationships and connections with others and ourselves. I’m guilty of this myself. It doesn’t matter if I’m watching a Byron sunset if I’m glued to my phone trying to capture it! But the times that I do set boundaries or switch off for days, I feel so much more nourished and energised.
Another one would be just to get in the kitchen and start making. Cooking might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I believe that working towards eating at least one homemade meal a day makes a big difference to our wellbeing. It’s achievable and likely to inspire other positive changes when it comes to food.
Finally, if you do have a burning desire to change things up, then sometimes it’s worth not overthinking things and just hitting go on the big decision. Life has a funny way of making the other smaller pieces fall into place when you’re on the path that’s really right for you.