Quiet Days

Update: I added photos/video/hyperlink!

So the last few days have been chill. Tiring, but chill. And the hostel I’m staying in tonight has terrible wifi, so pics ain’t happening. Sorry y’all, hopefully I’ll add some later. Also I’m really tired… So here’s the short of the last few days 🙂

Wednesday I visited the Museum of New and Old Art, or MONA, a stellar museum in Hobart.

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Grapes growing outside of MONA

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View from a platform outside of MONA

 

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One of the installations at MONA

 

Thursday was spent packing and later flying. I had a quick flight to Melbourne, a layover, and then a flight to Christchurch, New Zealand. Because of how the flights and layover lined up, I pretty much got no sleep last night.

After landing in Christchurch I headed for St. Arnaud, a small town towards the north of NZ’s south island. The scenery had been amazing.

I met up with Anja, a girl from Slovenia who I’m spending the next several days with. We’re going hiking and camping 🙂

Alright, I seriously need some sleep. NZ is beautiful, expect amazing photos next time 🙂

#ThrowbackThursday February 2nd

I made pancakes that morning to celebrate Dash’s first day of kinder and those lucky boys got sprinkles!

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Like me, you can tell how much fun Orlando is having by how messy he is

Dash went to kinder after pancakes so Orlando and I played at the park. This silly boy took the wax from those little cheeses and put it on his nose!

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What a goof ❤

Most definitely missing Orlando and Dash. Sending out love ❤

Scramble, Be Flexible

You know, my attempts at rock climbing just never seem to pan out right. And not in the way that plans always turn out slightly different than expected, but in the I though I’d spend all day rock climbing for four days only to climb 3 routes Friday and 2 routes Saturday. And that’s it.

I hope one day I’ll get to actually do some decent climbing.

I mean, the climbing I did was fun. It’s just we spent 3 hours driving to the crag (Hillwood) on Saturday and after just two routes it started to rain on us. Not pouring, mind you, just a little sprinkle. But enough that we called it. And then Greg didn’t want to camp in the rain, so instead of staying in the same area as the crag we drove all the way back to Hobart. 3 hours.

Well I was pretty frustrated. And I decided to just scrap the weekend plans of climbing. I stayed at a hostel Saturday night instead.

Which was fantastic! I met a couple girls from China and we headed out to Port Arthur on Sunday.

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We stopped at a beach along the way- these girls were so fun!

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My time in Hong Kong turned me into such a beach girl. I can’t get enough of that blue water!

Fascinating place. It was developed as a penal colony in the 1800s. The prison system at the time would send the repeat offenders from the prisons in Australia to Port Arthur. So that means the inmates had already done enough crime back in England to get sent to the colonies and then continued to cause trouble. Port Arthur is a peninsula with a very thin stretch of land connecting to the rest of the island, so there wasn’t much that needed to be guarded to prevent escape. No one ever escaped from Port Arthur. They also implemented training and education programs, so a lot of inmates left with job skills and built successful lives. However, Port Arthur also did some crazy isolation stuff that was really messed up, but the education program was on the right track.

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They originally built just one church on the settlement. So all religions could be acknowledged, the building was never consecrated. After the prison was closed, some fires came through and destroyed the place. Now just the brick walls are left. It’s still pretty magnificent.

Some of you may recognize the name Port Arthur from the massacre in 1996. 35 people died and another 23 were wounded. I expected to see a lot of plaques and memorials remembering the event. And yet I saw nothing. The visitor guide mentioned there was one memorial, but we never found it. And during our tour the whole event was never mentioned.

I was messaging Daniel about how strange I found this and he responded “We tend not to have massive memorials out here. I guess every day with our gun laws we acknowledge them.”

Well shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit

Wouldn’t it be great if the US could figure that out? Because Australia hasn’t had a mass shooting since Port Arthur.

Anywho, Monday I mostly chilled and watched tv. I know, I know, how could I spend a morning sleeping in and watching Jane the Virgin when I could be out exploring Tasmania? Well, one I couldn’t figure out a good plan for the day, and two I kinda needed a day to just chill. SO I took it 🙂

Majid and I headed out in the evening in search of luminescent organisms in the water. We drove out to Opossum Bay, found a place to park, and had dinner on the beach.

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I want to live in this house. Or, a house painted this color blue ^_^

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Sunsets, man. Sunsets

The sun went down beautifully, as it always does, and we walked along the edge of the water looking for glowy things. And, would you know what, we found ’em 🙂

It looked as if the stars had decided to go for a swim in the bay. Or like someone had sprinkled diamonds in the water. We rolled up our pants and started walking in the water. The flashes of light stuck to our legs and every step was followed by a stream of glowing water. I had a blast jumping in the water, watching the sparkles.

We eventually headed to Goat Bach to spend the night at. Unlike Opossom Bay with it’s calming lapping waters, this beach had no land protecting it from the full strength of the ocean. Large waves crashed onto the shore. And sometimes the white foam glowed. I was stunned. And, of course, the stars were out in full force, the Milky Way showing off. An absolutely beautiful night 🙂

I don’t have any pictures of the luminescence or the stars because my camera just isn’t good enough :/

Today (Tuesday), began with watching the sunrise.

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How amazing is that pink????

Majid and I headed back to Hobart pretty early so I could meet up with Jimmy and Patrick, two guys I met climbing last Friday. We drove to Hartz Mountains National Park and climbed Hartz Peak. The views from the top are amazing.

Or so I’m told ^_^ It was a biiiiiit cloudy at the top…

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Jack, I’m flying! (but actually the wind was super strong and right after I took this picture Pat almost fell)

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Pat, myself, and Jimmy! Happy to have hiked to the top 🙂

But it was a gorgeous hike. I loved the colors of the flora, the lichen and mos growing the rocks, the green tint to the water in the lakes… It was all beautiful.

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A lot of the trail was actually these wooden boardwalks. Leave No Trace means different things in different places and this was a great solution for this area!

The three of us had a great time hiking and chatting. Good guys, these two!

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We ate a lot of chocolate to, uh, keep warm. Cause it was cold. So chocolate

Thanks for reading ❤

Hobart, Tasmania

Hey y’all! The last 3 days I have been in Hobart. I flew in early Wednesday morning. Once here, I met up with a few other travelers. We wandered around Hobart until we found the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. Not only was it a free museum, it was pretty cool! I checked out the information on the flora/fauna of Tasmania, the aboriginal culture, the intersection of the English and the natives. Interesting stuff!

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This teapot, titled Lip Service, was in an exhibition called Same but Different. It featured many normal objects expressed in different forms. For instance, there were several chairs, each from a different culture and time period. This was my favorite item on display. 

Shannon, one of the girls I met up with, and I then met up with Majid, a couchsurfing host. He drove us to his place and we had a FANTASTIC time getting to know each other. Shannon and I sync up SO CRAZY WELL. It was a little ridiculous. She plans on traveling around the States in a couple years and I will most def meet up with her.

Thursday Shannon and I went to Fern Tree and started hiking around Mt. Wellington. We did quite a bit of wandering around the mountain and, after much bonding, made it to the top. I gotta say, I’m quite pleased with my layers. Through the cold and wind atop the mountain I stayed warm in my North Face long sleeve shirt and Columbia fleece. I only started getting cold after sitting for over an hour. And I’m pretty sure if I had put on my rain jacket I would have been fine.

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The top of Mt. Wellington! You can see Hobart and the surrounding suburbs in the distance. Photo cred: Shannon

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Would you just LOVE to be soaring above this view?

This morning Shannon, Majid, and i woke up before 6am to drive back up to the top of Mt. Wellington for the sunrise. We were well rewarded for our early morning 🙂

While it was 0.1 degrees celsius and the wind was blowing at 44km/hour, the view was completely worth it. We could take a quick picture and then stick our hands back in our pockets before out fingers froze. I did take a video of the view- it really doesn’t do justice to reality and the wind is crazy loud. But here it is anyways:

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Shannon and I atop Mt. Wellington for the sunrise. Photo cred: Majid

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Couchsurfing host Majid. Wonderful guy, he’s been driving us around and cooking us food. Thanks Majid!

After the sunrise Majid drive us back to his place. Shannon and I went for a run and then both packed for our next adventure. We sadly said goodbye (we were such fast friends) and then I met up with Greg, a local rock climber. He took me out to Waterworks, a crag basically in the city. He had organized a big climbing session that was mostly made up of students at the local uni. I met many new people, including a girl who has offered to join me for a trip to the Peninsula on Tuesday and lend me her bike on Wednesday. Oh, and she’s from Florida.

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New friend Greg belaying other new friend Caleb

We spent most of the day climbing and then headed to a pub. I’m spending the night at his place along with a couple other climbers. Tomorrow we will embark on a climbing/hiking adventure across Tasmania!

It’s been a great day, and it’s not over yet! There’s a fire going, pizza has arrived, and the drinks are cold. I’m going to stop being anti-social now and join the party. I am so so so sorry for spelling an grammar errors, this post is unedited.

Sending love to all!

 

Leaving Woodend

Today I leave Woodend.

Or really, I am leaving it. I’ve left it? Tense is confusing on trains guys. Cause that’s where I’m writing this from. The train to Melbourne.

My domestic country life has ended. I gave Dash and Orlando as many hugs and kisses I could today. And they both were wonderful for our last goodbye- I got biiiiig hugs and lots of sloppy kisses ❤

I’m going to miss those boys. Shit, I already miss those boys. I miss all the people I met out here.

The last couple of days have been full of goodbyes. Sunday I said good bye to Maria and Daniel. Monday I said goodbye to Godfrey. And today was good bye to Juddie and the boys.

Between all of that I packed my things. And let me tell you what, I hated packing to leave. You know that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you have a deadline on a paper coming up and you know you should really start working on it but you just can’t bring yourself to do so? That’s how I felt packing. Every bit of shampoo I squeezed into a 3oz container and every shirt I folded reminded me I don’t know when I’ll see these people or this place again.

So, instead of packing last night, I went to sleep. With the light on.

I finally finished organizing my things and the room that once was mine around 1:45 this afternoon.

I posted home 16kg worth of items I don’t want to carry around across 4 continents. And yet my bag still feels overly heavy. Oh well. If I realize there’s something I really don’t need I’ll just ship it home later.

Tonight I’m staying with Lita (who you may remember from my trip to the Grampians) and joining her to a comedy show. Tomorrow I fly to Hobart, Tasmania.

Here’s to new places, new friends, and new adventures. Hopefully the next three months will be as good as the last three.

Sending out love, especially to those I’m leaving behind in Victoria ❤

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Planning, Playing, and Penguins

My head is in full on planning mode. My thoughts go between lists of what I’m shipping home, hostel research, finding people to meet up with, etc. etc. Before I bought plane tickets it was overwhelming. But now that I know I have a way to get everywhere and that I’m going home eventually I am just excited- everything will work out!

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How I plan

For instance, I leave for Tassie (short for Tasmania and pronounced “Tazzee), on Wednesday and just today received confirmation from a girl that she’ll rent a car with me for the week I’m there for some road tripping. And now I’m going to message a couple of rock climbers in Tas, research places to see… So exciting!

Anyways, I’m constantly checking my phone for messages from friends or responses to my posts on public forums/facebook groups. Every spare moment is spent looking up possible trains. Or calling parks for more information. Or, or, or, or basically anything to do with figuring out where I’m going and what I’ll do for the next several months.

Between all the planning I’m spending as much time as possible with Dash and Orlando. As excited as I am to move on to the next part of this wild adventure, I am going to miss those little boys very much.

But what fun we’ve had this week! We’ve gone into the city for lunch, we walked around Mt. Macedon again, we’ve had countless tickle fights… It’s been very fun.

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Isn’t that the cutest mountain climber you ever did see? From our walk around Mt. Macedon.

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Kangaroos in front of Hanging Rock

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Dash and I made a Lego Triceratops!

On Tuesday, after lunch, Juddie headed back to Woodend with the boys and I stayed in the city to sort out a new phone and to meet up with Daniel. I met him at Southern Cross around half 4 and then we grabbed a tram towards St. Kilda, a beach neighborhood. Every night around sunset, at the end of a pier, Little Penguins swim out and hang on the rocks. Obviously I didn’t want to miss the chance to see real live wild penguins! And I didn’t 🙂 The penguins were adorable and the sunset was gorgeous. Definitely a good evening!

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St. Kilda Sunset

Godfrey’s sister Ellie and her boy friend Dianko are staying with us right now. Dianko is a chef (he owns a Mexican restaurant in San Antonio actually- now on my list of places to check out!) and made us an AMAZING dinner last night.

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“It’s just lamb chops”- says the chef

That’s pretty much been my week! Thanks for reading y’all ❤

Falling Off the Wagon

So guys, I fell off the wagon. And I didn’t just like, bounce off and jump back on. Nope. I kinda rolled off, gently, and then liked the feel of the ground so much I didn’t even try to chase it and get back on. I mean, I pretended to try. I told myself I was trying. But really I wasn’t.

And I’ve decided to let the 31 Days of Yoga and my accompanying daily blogging wagon to roll on without me. While I am a bit disappointed in myself, I’ve come to terms with the decision. And it was a decision. I decided to prioritize yoga and blogging below other activities, like sleeping and planning future travel.

A week ago or so I started watching John Green’s 100 Days Youtube Channel. Basically, he and his best friend Chris are trying to have a healthy mid-life crisis. Their goals are based around exercising, eating healthy, and meditating. Watching someone who I admire intellectually push himself to do something so physically difficult is incredibly inspiring. Even though the videos started in January, I went to the beginning and have watched every single upload. One video in particular stuck with me- Self Kindness with Rosianna. She said what works for you as a work out this week doesn’t have to work for you next week. And that’s okay.

I’ve realized that 31 day challenges don’t work for me. This is now the third I’ve tried. Each time, I’m really good at working out every day with one or two exceptions through the end of the third week. And then I just stop. I lose motivation, I lose interest. And the worst part is I feel like if I’m going to workout, I have to do the challenge workout. So I end up not working out at all.

I would like, however, to complete all the videos in Adriene’s series. But I’ve decided to do them when I want to. And on other days I’ll do calisthenics, or swimming, or even a different Yoga With Adrienne video. I think this will get be back to working out consistently because the last couple weeks have been rough.

As for the blogging, as much as I love it, I was getting waaaaaay too stressed. I know I wrote about this before and while I’ve resolved most of the stressers (as in I finally bought plane tickets everywhere and have figured out when I’m seeing people), preparing a blog post every day was just too much. I could spend 8 hours a day working on my travel plans, my job applications for the fall, and my  blog. Since I am working as an au pair and trying to experience as much as I can, my sleep was suffering. Something has to give. I’ve decided to prioritize trip planning and applying to jobs.

I want to create a more sustainable blogging balance. Because I really really really really love it. Like, I have decided multiple times to work on my blog instead of going for a run. And I always choose working on the blog over watching Netflix.

My plan is to upload a post every Tuesday and Friday that talk about the few days prior. I will so my best to have some filler pieces (think “Things I’ve Learned” or “A Bit of Truth”) ready to go for when I’m unable to write or upload a story piece. Thursdays will have the occasional #ThrowbackThursday post about something I did but didn’t get blog about for one reason or another. And if I write something I feel very strongly about I’ll probably just upload it immediately.

I’ve struggled since I started this blog to make it consistent. I’m hoping the Tuesday-Friday regular posting will work for me and the life I’m going to lead over the next few months. Wish me luck ❤

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March 24th

Today Orlando was in childcare so Dash and I went into Melbourne for some, you guessed it, rock climbing! This was Dash’s second time to the gym and he was quite excited. Interestingly, he did less climbing and didn’t get as high on the wall this time. Oh well, he’s four (nearly five), there’s no rush to the top of the wall (for anyone, actually, regardless of age or any other metric).

Dash was actually super wonderful and sat quietly eating snacks and looking at his books while I did a couple of the auto-belay climbs. It was really nice to get a couple of climbs in! And it was a different challenge, stabilizing myself and peer around the corner to check on Dash every 10 seconds.

After climbing, we took some trams towards the Botanic Gardens. We walked through the Shrine of Remembrance, which is a beautiful monument.

As we crossed the street from the Shrine to the Gardens, a plane started growing louder and closer. We quickly realized it was a jet and it was very very very close. Like, right above us close.

Then we saw the jet start to do all sorts of loop de loops and other tricks. It was quite the show! And even though the jet would leave, it came back a few times. Ends up it was associated with the Grand Prix that’s in Melbourne this weekend.

While this display was super cool, poor Dash had a hard time with the loudness. He found it very unsettling. We ended up going into the gift shop at the Botanic Gardens. We smelled some soaps and looked a pretty pictures. The poor kid did not want to go back outside. I remembered a friend of mine was at the Grand Prix, so I texted him and was able to get confirmation that the jet planes were done for the day. That calmed Dash right down and we headed home 🙂

I’ll be adding pictures and videos later, so check back if you’re interested.

Thanks for reading ❤

A Bit of Truth- Internal Turmoil

I’ve been struggling with stress, loneliness, and homesickness the past few days. All three emotions come from interconnected aspects of my life. I’ve been trying to plan my travel between when I leave Woodend (three weeks!) and when I return home. I want to coordinate with others, but we’re all busy and slow to communicate. So I keep waiting around and pushing off buying tickets. Every day I wait the tension builds.

But it’s important to me that I see friends when I can.

Because I miss everyone terribly.

Having a social network that spans the globe is exciting and inspiring, but it also means there’s always someone far away. Grade school friends, college friends, Philfriends, Hong Kong friends… Most of all I miss my family- the Ettingers, my best girlfriends, my brother, my parents. I can’t wait to be home again.

Part of me wants to call this whole world wandering thing off May 5th when Hanna leaves Sydney*. But I know my five year plan**, and it doesn’t hold a lot of room for international travel. And if there’s one thing I believe in, it is to Do Hard Things. The things I’ve feared most- working at Philmont, teaching music, directing the choir at St. Edward’s, flying to Hawaii by myself with no real plan- these have been the best and most rewarding experiences of my life. So I know I must continue this path. My fear compels me forward, past my comfort zone, and into a new adventure.

Buying tickets for my first month of travel after Woodend relieved a lot of the stress. Focusing on my time with Hanna in Sydney and Liaan in Cape Town lessens my loneliness. And a solid conversation with my brother over the phone quieted the homesickness. I’ve been singing a lot more the last couple of days, first to channel the emotions, then to heal, and finally to transform them into joy.

I went a couple days without running or exercising. My motivation was low and I just felt tired. But I dragged myself outside today and listened to an episode of the She Explores podcast***. The episode talked about being okay with not knowing all the answers. At first I scoffed, thinking “I got my long term plan, I know who I am, who I want to be, and what I want my life to be. I may not know the details, but I know the answers.” But… Now I’m not so sure I know all the answers.

And that’s okay.

When the pidcast finished I popped Ed Sheeren’s “Shape of You” on. As soon as the beat began my feet pounded the ground in rhythm and my body found dance. Music heals y’all, and it is beautiful.

The entire song I ran faster than I have in several weeks, dancing the whole time (good thing I’m leaving in 3 weeks, the neighbors are probably starting to think I’m a little stranger than can be explained by being American). I just about collapsed on the floor when I got back to the house, but damn did I feel good. I downed some water and ran up to my computer. I wrote a lot of stream of consciousness that honestly is not being published, but that started what I am
sharing.

The Runner’s High is real and I am addicted. Three days without running and I felt like shit. 30 minutes of heaving breathing and my motivation is back, I feel inspired, I feel passion swelling up and everything I do feels like a dance glorifying life, love, and happiness. Basically, I feel joyful.

So yes, this travel stuff gets stressful. It gets lonely. I get homesick. But life is a lesson, you just have to go out and learn it. So I’m facing this challenge. And damnit, I’m going to learn these
lessons. And I’m going to learn them with joy in my heart.

Sending love and joy to all ❤

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Throwback to solo hiking around the Grampians

*The amazing, inspiring, fantastic Hanna is meeting me in Sydney for a week. I’m stoked to see her!
**Coming Soon! Megan’s Five Year Plan, a post about dreams and goals
***More on this later, but for now just know this is a great source of inspiration in my life right now. If you are an outdoorswoman of any level check it out. Like, right now. I made it easy for you and hyperlinked it. Just gotta click. Why you still reading this? Go check out She Explores! It’s waaaaaaaay better than anything on my blog, for realsies.

March 23rd- Happy Birthday Bro!

First of all, HAPPY BIRTHDAY FROM ‘STRAYLIA MARTY! You’re the best big brother in the world. You’ve always looked after me and been there when I needed you. I’m so proud of everything you’ve accomplished and the person you’ve grown into. You’re the smartest person I know and I love you. Hope your birthday is fantastic ❤

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So, admittedly, this is being posted a week after his birthday. But it’s okay. I called him today (March 23rd, not the day this actually gets posted). I may have been a day early on his end, but it’s his birthday on my side of the globe so I’m celebrating. Wiiiiiiiiiith bikkies(Australian for biscuits, which is Australian for cookies)

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Today Dash went to kinder so Orlando and I hung out. We made magic wands and sang about the green grass growing all around.

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In the afternoon we went to Dash’s kinder to watch the Easter Hat Parade. So very very adorable.

After we got ice cream from the lolli shop in town. Their chocolate ice cream is amaaaaaaaaazing.

To make up for the past two days without yoga, I did two videos today for an hour long practice. The first one was Revolution – Day 17 – Practice Stillness. My mind has been nonstop recently so this practice was very quieting for me. It was exactly what I needed. I wish I didn’t wait until today to do it. Procrastinating on these practices only hinders me. I hope I’ve learned my lesson this time around.

I followed stillness with Revolution – Day 18 – Balancing Practice. This was all about finding stability. About grounding. All those thoughts spinning around in my head? While stillness helped me find peace, balance helped me find clarity. A great combination. I may return to these videos in the future when my mind spins again.

A lot more happened today, but it’s all to do with my heart. So I’m going to publish it as a separate post a few hours after this one. The tone just isn’t right to pair with pictures of the lovable Dash and Orlando.

Stand tuned y’all, there’s more coming.