Category Archives: Travel

The longest day [ever] and sleeping around…

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We knew it was going to be a long day.  But we had no idea of just how long it would end up. We left the village at 2am.

We piled into the car, strapping Bo into an old simple little car capsule, dreaming of hours of sleep on the road. Dreaming was right! Bo decided that she didn’t want to sleep. For the next five hours I talked to her, read to her, tried to soothe her, tried to help her sleep. A few times I took her out of the capsule and nursed her or just held her close as we drove (not ideal, I know) and she would instantly fall asleep. I would then put her back in the capsule and she would wake within minutes.

It should take us no longer than 10 hours to get to Jakarta. It took us closer to 14 hours – we did in car feeds, play time, and even a few bumper-to-bumper nappy changes. We only just made it to the clinic (with five minutes to spare) before it shut so we could get the medical completed for our mans Australian migration  visa. we had planned to do some shopping, spend some time together, maybe get some frozen yogurt… things you dream of when you live in a village. But we had run out of time. We then spent a few hours in the car  on the way to the airport.

I was exhausted by the time we got in the line for our ticket. I was beyond exhausted. Bo had slept for maybe three hours all day long. I had slept maybe one and a half since the day before. A kept telling her it would be over soon. We would be on the plane and she could curl up in my arms and sleep soundly and undisturbed. I was wrong.

After a long line for check-in in the sweaty Jakarta airport, another long line in customs and immigration and then a two hour delay. Our flight was cancelled due to a tornado over the ocean. We then stood in another long line to get back through immigration, more stamps in our passport, then a long line to find out what was happening with refunds/reissuing of tickets. I was frazzled. I would like to thank the little man from the middle east, the love7l gentle Indonesian woman with her three year old baby and the three Lebanese Aussie guys – they helped me push trolleys, collect baggage, find passports, find sanity… they gave me comfort and helped me relax when all I wanted to do was cry. They said the next flight would be sunday night. but then they said that it might not be until Tuesday. Bo. was in her sling, watching the world. Quiet as can be. I was a train wreck.

My lovely husband turned the car around and drove the three hours he had gotten away from the airport – back to the airport. Just to help us figure otu what we were going to do. We tried to get a room at the transit hotel. It was full. So we got into a strange car, with a security guard and a driver… who promised to take us to a near by stand by hotel. My husband started the 10 hour journey home… again.

We drove through the back alleys behind the airport to a dingy little hotel. I was just glad they took us to a hotel at all. I got in locked the door. stripped Bo of her sweaty clothes and cuddled her up in bed, trying to help her relax. It was nearly 3am. We slept. I got up early to try and figure out flights. I was fried. I tried to find a solution. I was going to go to the airport with Bo and try to get on a flight standby… and get out of here… but   then I got a call from my mum. We had been rescued.

Since 11am this morning Bo and I have been holed up in a lush hotel room, on a big comfy bed. We have both slept. Bo had a five hour nap. And tomorrow morning at 3am we will leave for the airport.

Right now Bo is rolling around on the mattress next to me. A tropical storm is thundering outside and we are both warm and clean and comfortable. I realised today just how blessed I am to have a baby who is so adaptable. She was awake for seven hours without a nap yesterday and still she was quiet and smiling and chatting. She was happy to play on a blanket on the floor. She waited in lines without getting upset. She was patient even when I know she must have been hungry. She just stayed strapped to my body, calm and quiet, her big eyes looking up at me. She is a wanderers wandering daughter… and this is a pretty good start for my already-seasoned traveler… in the past 24 hours she’s slept on the floor of an airport, in my arms, in a dodgy Indonesian hotel and in one of Jakarta’s most comfortable hotels… She’s done it all.

xox Hopefully next time we will have finally arrived and be in the arms of family.

Our village home…

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life begins… at the end of your comfort zone.

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Yesterday Bo and I arrived in Indonesia and the end of my comfort zone. After a hectic week in WA introducing Bo to family and having the whole gamet of experiences that go along with such a whirl wind trip (and a few unexpected) we boarded a plane at 2.45am (really, not recommended when travelling with an infant) and flew right through my comfort zone, landing in hot, sweaty Jakarta a little after 6am on Friday morning. A wonderful reunion for my little family, we loaded the car up with our luggage and we set off into the dusty highway. We had a long ten hour trip ahead of us  to our new home in a village I called home for many years.

The drive was much as expected, having done this trip a bazillion times before. Bo was an angel who napped and chatted and smiled the whole way. We stopped in my husbands village to do a quick first introduction of Bo to the wonderful world that is her Indonesian relatives… and here is where my first panicked moment set in.

I handed over my beautiful, calm little girl to her lovely grandmother and the craziness began as family began streaming through the doors to poke, clap at, and delight in Bo’s charms. Bo was totally fine with it all… a little wide eyed and shocked, she played along and smiled on cue and did all the right tricks. I, on the other hand, was more than a little overwhelmed watching my tiny baby swamped in a sea of Batik. I put this feeling down to a combination of heat and absolute exhaustion, and if I’m completely honest, being miles from my comfort zone and allowing myself to get caught up in an I-want-my-mummy moment.

This moment continued long after we left my husbands family behind and ventured into our own village, to our new house – as I inspected the new place and made a mental note of all that needs to be done, I felt hot tears on my cheeks… I was overwhelmed at it all. Bo and I, sweatier than we have ever been, found calm in eachother whilst my husband raced back to the last village to purchase insect repellant and a fan to make our night a little more comfortable.

I knew then that I was having one of my well known first-night-moments. I have them every time I travel to a new place and they are always magnified when I’m travelling alone (which WAS most of the time, and probably won’t happen again, anytime in the near future). In India I broke down and hid in an airconditioned hotel room for 12 hours, in Hawaii I forced myself out on the town, in Vietnam I shook the tears with a shower followed by a cold beer in a crowded bar. I know this feeling well, it’s a what-the-hell-have-I-got-myself-into feeling. What is unfamiliar is having this feeling going back to a place that is already familiar to me. This sea of faces, the heat, the sounds and smells are all strange compared to where I come from but I’ve lived in them before. What is different is bringing my little girl into this world of colour…

Last night I shook off my tears and soothed my baby to sleep. I ate dinner with my husband for the first time in six weeks and I then tried to sleep. I knew that things would be different in the morning. As I sit here now the call to prayer is dancing through the heat of the air, across the women planting rice and into my front windows. The shell of Bo’s ear will be catching its sound as she sleeps under a mosquito net next to me. I’m not nearly as panicked as I was last night. I’m calmer and more centered but I’m still out of my depth.

I’ve always believed that life begins at the end of your comfort zone… I’m certainly here. I guess it’s time to start living.

Responsible hedonism and finding bliss…

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Responsible hedonism and finding bliss…

Because doing good feels good too.

Hedonists have been considered historically as being self-absorbed egotists who seek pleasure regardless of the pain it might cause others. But this is not the sort of attitude that wins friends and influences people. And life is much more fun with friends. So, I propose a different kind of lifestyle choice, design your life around the concept of being a Responsible Hedonist. Where feeling good is a top priority, not just for your own pleasure, but also for the pleasure, happiness and contentment in the lives of people around you.

It sounds a bit like a fairy tale doesn’t it? Well, it doesn’t have to be. Hedonism is really about living the life that you want, forgetting about social constructs and expectations and seeking the joy that life has to offer by actively pursuing happiness. Let go of your hang-ups. Ignore the calls from your social conditioning…. that urge to buy a house, to work in an office, to conform. Listen to your heart which screams what you want. You are responsible when it comes to pursing your life’s happiness. The most transformative thing you will ever learn is that the happiness of the people around you is just as important as your own pleasure. I am by no means an expert at this yet, but every day I try a little harder… a little longer and a little more pro-actively.

Feeling lost? Well, this is what responsible hedonism might look like in various areas of your life: Be a good lover. The best way to truly love someone else is to start by loving yourself. Go on, try it! Loving yourself is looked down upon these days… in fact we are encouraged to be self-deprecating martyrs and victims and each and every one of us falls into this trap (some more than others) and when you feel sorry for yourself, or feel your not worth it, or don’t value your own body/heart/soul – how can you possibly be a good lover?

This concept of filling your own cup first doesn’t have to be a selfish act. If you fulfill your own needs, your own desires then all the good is sure to overflow into the things you do and the people you are in relationship with. It’s not about getting what you want right now, it’s about getting what you want forever. Avoid short term pleasures that will lead to pain and always think of the long term goal of a hedonist lifestyle, you want a sustainable happiness for yourself and the world around you.

Explore the great beyond by leading with your heart. Focus your attention on doing good in the places that you visit. I spent years on the road, my whole life in my backpack. When I travel I always try to give something back to the communities that have been so welcoming to me. There are lots of ways you can give back that have nothing to do with money, but have to do with something so much more valuable – the gift of time. Consider visiting local orphanages, donating time to help with a harvest, recycling your unwanted belongings to impoverished societies who can use them (clothes, toys, books are always gratefully received). Take the time to listen, to experience and to appreciate every little thing that the communities have to offer – and you know what? You are guaranteed to get so much more than you give. Some of my most memorable experiences have been back bent, sweat dripping down my face in a rice field in remote Indonesia – or holding a damp sweaty baby in a dingy orphanage in Thailand only to have that same baby look up at me, grinning from ear to ear from the sheer joy of being held – or just sitting colouring in on the pavement with chalk with kids in an Indian slum. Work is not a dirty word, don’t be scared to roll up your sleeves and just dive in head first.

Think about what makes you feel amazing. What is it that gets your rocks off? What floats your boat? How can you take what you want and behave responsibly sharing that happiness and pleasure with the people around you? Take the time to really think not only about what you can get but consider what you can give. Life, love and your future. Think of it this way, when someone asks you to do something or you think you have a responsibility to behave a certain way, ask yourself first if you want to. Truly have this conversation with yourself (preferably in your head – but if you must out loud is also fine)… if the answer is yes! Great! Do it. If the answer is anything but yes, maybe, or I guess I should, I don’t want to but I will anyway… any of those answers are a No. So don’t do it.

Give yourself a break. If you think hard work means you have to suffer… let go a little bit. What is success if you’re not happy? What is experience without someone to share it with? Let out your own reigns, trust the good within you and behave responsibly but at the end of the day, get out there and do what you want with your life, because it’s yours and no one else’s. The only way to really live is to allow yourself to come alive by doing what you love… It’s not easy, our western society has trained us all to be miserable. We are taught that hard work means suffering, we are taught we should feel held-back by our relationships, we are taught to complain first and rejoice later. We are all more likely to share our woeful stories than our unrestrained joy, it’s sad but it’s true. It’s the tall poppy syndrome, we cut poeple down who succeed out of jealousy, resentment and fear. We are not taught to rest. I struggle with this every day – fighting myself to remain against the grain, fighting to challenge my own social conditioning.

I will continue to struggle because this little person who right now is giggling in her sleep wrapped up in a cocoon of blankets next to me has truly rocked my world. I am responsible for her, it is my job to help guide her, to help to shape her, to lead her in the right direction and ultimately to set her free. I want to teach her how to be happy and proud and joyful – how to find love and light even in the darkest of days. I want to show her that happiness comes from people not things and that true success has no dollar value. There is no way I can teach her these things if I don’t live them every single day of my life. Some days I fall flat, I doubt myself, I pity myself or I fall into the role of a victim. I wallow and then I pick myself up again… because tomorrow is a new day full of new opportunity and I can try again to be the person that I know I can be. For myself, for my daughter and for the world.

Do you think you can try it today? Even if you only get one hour of freedom before those voices in your head creep back in and tell you off for enjoying your life – that hour is going to be so worthwhile! Have fun. Laugh with your co-workers. Love easily. Forgive past mistakes. Give more than you take. Stop work and go home! Kiss your wife! Forgive your husband! Leave the washing unfolded, unwashed and uncared for. Eat what is delicious and gives you true pleasure. Play with your kids. It’s the little things today that turn into the big things in the future – don’t miss out on finding your bliss.

This is your life, if you’re not enjoying it, what are you doing? Follow your bliss and always remember that doing good feels good too!

image thanks to tinybuddha.com