A year ago I lived in a very quiet place. It was well removed from road traffic noise, up against the slopes of a mountain, surrounded by fields and relatively-quiet neighbours (except for the yappy dogs across the road and the stompy neighbours above me).

I had a leafy garden and incredible view. I had a verandah to put my feet up and watch the sunset from. I had birds in the garden, lizards in the lawn, and owls on the fence. I'd spend time after work walking through my natural surroundings on a one-hour exercise drive, and lunch pottering around with soil, flowers and home-grown veggies.

My home environment is very different a year down the line. The back of my house opens onto a busy road servicing a number of security villages. The front looks out on the main trafficway through my own security complex - we're right by the gate, so everything comes past the front door. There's no grass in my yard - it's all bricked up. My view is across to the neighbour's window, with a mere glimpse of the mountain in the distance if you hang out the window a bit. There's constant noise, no soil to dig in, and only a few potted plants to break the expanse of brick and mortar. Although I have a birdbath out the front, I barely ever see a bird anywhere near my house, never mind using it.

And lately I'm missing the quiet. The green, the earth, the changing seasons in my plants and surroundings, the stillness - so complete you can hear a mouse moving in the ferns.

I haven't spent nearly enough time away from civilization lately. Everywhere I go there are people, buildings, cars. Even a trip to the beach to sit a while has vehicles zooming by, people peering at you, lights glaring into the sunset. I'm never without noise surrounding me, whether it's the cars driving past, the hum of computers and aircon and voices in the open office space at work, or TV and electronics making themselves heard at home. It's rare to find absolute quiet - sometimes it's only found around midnight in the cool dark of the lounge - until police cars and ambulances wail nearby.

But I can feel I need it, and soon. I'm losing my inner peace, my creativity, my wonder at the world around me. There's a lot for me to keep track of in my head and in my life as I head toward this year's goals. I can't cram more stuff in there until I empty a part of it regularly - even if it means taking a bit of time away from another job waiting for me. My head has been matching the jabber with its own internal dialogue, drowning out clarity of thought and purpose and direction. Too many voices clamouring for attention. I'm not getting to the really important stuff, at least not deeply and fully and with conviction or purpose.

I don't yet know how to make this an habitual feature - how to find a space, a place, a time for absolute uninterrupted quiet. For immersion in nature and gathering of strength. For stilling the mind and letting go of tension.

I can't go running off to the Himalayas or park myself in the middle of the Namib desert. Sleep takes precedence over a 4am start. Home and work fill up the daylight hours, as does much-needed time with those I love (which in itself is soul-drenching renewal).

But I do know I have to find regular quiet soon so I can move forward successfully in full power and reach those goals looming on the horizon. Even if it's just a few minutes snipped off here and there to breathe and still myself before I move on to the next task.

In fact, today I'm going to be doing just that.