Charitable adventure.  

At the age of twenty-four, I’ve come to realise there’s seemingly a great many things in my life predominantly attributed to Facebook. Call it a perk of growing up in the 21st century, or perhaps the curse of a social media addiction – either way, when I think about how many of my life endeavours so far have started, the phrase “Oh, I saw this post on Facebook...” has become somewhat of a common thread. 

Sure, in it’s formative years Facebook was designed with the purpose to connect with love ones, and shamelessly spam their walls one singular reply at a time. But fourteen years onwards, it’s evolved into somewhat of a online marketplace and showcase. And I can’t argue that it’s not entirely a clever way of doing things in this day and age. 

After all, my puppy was discovered on a early morning Facebook post – and he’s the greatest adventure I’ve embarked upon so far. 

So of course, in-keeping with my Facebook discovery methodology, I happened to stumble upon another Facebook post about two months ago, which has since opened a door I’ve been debating how to unlock for a while now. 

It was a picture of a group of strangers happily smiling at the other end of a camera lense. Facebook proudly announced above the picture in bold, that someone I knew had been tagged there. 

I searched the faces and found a nurse I’d worked with for a few years now, hidden at the back. It seemed she had been a part of a trip somewhere, her matching blue shirt in keeping with the rest of her team. 

Curiousity getting the better of me, I clicked on the picture and zoomed in on the wording iron-pressed to the blue shirts. I typed the logo name into Facebook and clicked on a charity page for ‘Helping Children Smile‘. 

As I read the mission statement for the organisation, I immediately fell in love with its cause. I remember reading through the website feeling a familiar tug at my heart, knowing that this was something I so desperately wanted to be a part of. 

Helping Children Smile is an organisation that raises funds for ongoing mission trips to the Phillipines each year to perform free surgery for the children there born with cleft lips and cleft palates. 

They take a team of doctors and nurses to different parts of the Phillipines with each trip, and completely change the lives and futures of over 30 children in the timeframe of two weeks. 

With cleft lips and palates being heriditary – it’s become somewhat of an epidemic over there. And for the little ones who face a future of difficulties living with the deformity, surgery would otherwise prove to be too costly. 

Having watched a close family member experience the difficulties associated with being born with a cleft palate, and personally laid witness to the benefit surgery has provided, the HCS cause found a niche within the confines of my heart that day. 

Two months later, I am officially HCS’s newest member and somehow feel this was one of my best Facebook finds yet. I’ve always wanted to do more with my nursing, reach the furtherest corners of this earth, make my skills matter. But I’ve just never really known quite how to, perhaps until now. 

I’m not sure where it’ll lead me, but I know it’s exactly where I’m meant to be because it fits like a new piece to my puzzle. And to have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others? I really couldn’t have wished to have stumbled upon anything better. 

The next mission trip is coming up in February next year, so who knows, maybe that’s my next adventure? I’ve applied, so I’ll keep you posted on that one!

Nurse by day, HCS enthusiast by night. Nothing else has ever been more worth it if I get to make even the smallest of difference in the world. 

You can check out more about Helping Children Smile here if you’d like. 

And as for you Facebook, you may just be a social media website, but I have every faith that you hold the many more seedlings to sprout my next big thing. Here’s to the newest adventure!

d x 

A nurse’s wish

How we treat each other is important.

We may look or speak differently, we may like different things. We may fill our glasses to the brim, or leave them permanently half-full, but the simple fact we all have in common, is that we are human.

We are all just trying to live life the best way we know how, and what separates us shouldn’t define how we treat each other.

But you see, as humans we have somehow lost this concept beneath the opinions and judgement, and we have fumbled with the objective of being kind. Undoubtedly, I think many of us have at some point in our lives been made to feel as if all the kindness in the world had already been used up. Or at least, I know I have.

As a nurse, feeling like people have forgotten how to be kind is sometimes all too common. We understand the heartache that is encased between the walls of our hospitals, we have seen life cease and felt broken at the loss of the ones we have nursed. You may not see the tears, but our own love ones do the moment we set foot inside the door at home and let it overpower us in a way you’ll never quite understand. We grasp the concept that while we see broken people and sickness every day, that you have not and that it is frightening to watch a love one, or be the one, to battle through it. We get it. It’s scary.

But just because that scares you, and just because it becomes difficult to express your emotions in times like these, please do not make us the enemy. We have only ever come to work to care for others. And I promise you that there is no one who woke up in the morning and thought, how could I make my patient’s feel terrible today?

We became nurses, doctors and members of the healthcare system because we wanted to help and because we cared. We didn’t do it because we thought it would be an easy job, because its not. And whether you’re a patient or a family member, it has never been okay to abuse us as if it is, and as if we haven’t given our all to make a difference in your life.

Last week, I looked after a lady who had underwent a rather large surgery on her bowel. These kind of surgeries are always tricky in their recovery and pose an increased risk for complications. Unfortunately, this lady experienced at least three of the complications we predicted, prolonging her stay with us in hospital.

The lady herself was kind. She was the grandmother to 23 grandchildren and spent many hours in the morning talking about each one of them and their ever-growing talents. Her grandchildren had become her coping mechanism and she used them as her strength in her recovery.

After two weeks in hospital, the drugs we had been giving her had begun to take their toll. Along with not being able to eat proper food just yet, she had lost a considerable amount of weight becoming the shadow of the woman she was on admission.

But yet, she continued to smile. Through her bad days, she laughed deliberately as if to convince herself that sadness was unachievable. And I admired her for it. I came to love being this lady’s nurse, and looked forward to the stories she would tell each morning while I helped her with the small things like to shower and sit out of bed.

Her eldest son came to visit her for the first time on day 10 of her recovery. He had not been there at the day of surgery, and had not visited his mother for months prior. Nevertheless, he had decided to visit and that had made day 10 more bearable for his mother than he would ever know. She had told me so in private later that day.

However, when he walked into the hospital ward, he brought with him anger. From the moment he announced his arrival at the nurse’s station, he made it very clear that there was nothing I could have ever done in his mother’s care that would have been good enough.

My smiles and polite welcomes were met with a hostility and doubt in my ability. He was aggressive, and quick to speak negatively in reply to my answers. He frowned so much it seemed that his face had altogether forgotten how to smile. There was seemingly no muscle memory for happiness.

He demanded rather than asking, and he expected people to part in the corridor for him. He was threatening and lumped his weight around as if to beat his chest in a gorilla-like claim to the jungle throne. He was the kind of person I struggled to warm to, but then he never made it easy.

I spent the next four days being berated by this man. Nothing I had done to help his mother was enough. He was rude, and arrogant towards me as if trying to pull me up on something I may have overlooked or not done. He became somewhat child-like in his exasperation, trying to make the entire hospital bend to his will and becoming furious when he felt we did not.

He didn’t like the way the tape was stuck down to his mother’s drains – it made him feel uncomfortable. He didn’t like that there wasn’t enough cutlery on the bedside table and thought there should have been a separate spoon for each container on the dinner tray. He didn’t like that there wasn’t a supplies caddy in each patient’s room and requested that 55 pads be brought to his mother’s room immediately ‘just in case’. The list was relentless.

His final complaint came on day four. He had not liked seeing his mother in a hospital gown stating that it had made him feel uncomfortable for her to not look like his mother. As it was explained, there were prominent medical reasons as to why she could no longer be dressed in her own night clothes that pertained to the protection of the central lines now used to deliver life-prolonging medication. For most people, this would suffice as an explanation. But for this man, it became the pump his anger fuelled on.

In reply to my explanation, his volatile nature exploded. In the hallway, he aggressively placed his face centimetres away from mine whilst repeatedly quoting his chosen sentence without intermission. It was an intimidating tactic that I was sure was meant to shake me to my boots, but I held strong, fuelled by my own internal anger that someone could be treating me this way when all I had done was try to care for his mother in the very best way I could.

He continued his childish tantrum for over an hour, aiming to pull me down with his cruel words. When finally asked to refrain from being rude his reply formed as a taunt a school child might have used, stating that while I thought he was rude, he thought I was unhelpful and a poor excuse for a nurse, concluding the argument with “So, checkmate!”.

I couldn’t help but shake my head in disbelief that a grown man could let anger control him so profoundly that this was the most appropriate retort he could find. And so I left it at that, no longer seeing the point in any further conversation with this man.

But that didn’t stop him from calling back to the ward once he had left to further harass me, telling the administration officer that he was my husband in the attempt to be put through directly to my dect phone. It was an onslaught of never-ending aggressive intimidation, as if he thought he could make me break to his will.

And all over a hospital gown? I was speechless at the stupidity of it all, and how it had escalated to needing security to scan incoming phone calls.

But while I sit here and struggle to comprehend how it became the biggest event of the day, I have enough clarity of thought to understand where this outburst stems from. Having never seen his mother so sick before, having not been there for the operation in the first place, and having so little medical knowledge, there is a certain fear that envelopes him. It’s like a vine slowing climbing through his entire body, outgrowing logical reasoning. He can’t think beyond the fear, and all it threatens to take from him. The fear leaves him with no control over the situation, and that becomes frightening for a man who quite obviously has little experience with being in such a state. So he resorts to anger, and I became the punching bag.

It’s not an excuse, but I have to believe that in a different circumstance he could practice human interaction with a little more humanity and kindness than he bestowed upon me. His words, though I know to be untrue, have still had an impact on me. They’ve left me to question how I could spend so much time caring for someone, only to have it thrown back in my face as not being good enough? How is there people out there in the world who think treating others this way to get what you want is okay? When did the world become a place where we hurt the ones who have only ever endeavoured to do good?

And sadly, this man isn’t the only one to have ever treated me in this way over the last three years I have been a nurse.

The bottom line is that we have lost an element of kindness I think we used to have. And the very fact that we are human means that we are going to let our emotions dictate our actions, so I will always understand why. But please, before you cave to the fear, think about the journey others are facing.  Try to harness a little kindness first, see it from someone else’s point of view before you open your mouth. How you treat others has more of an impact on them than you could ever really know.

I am a nurse. My whole life is centred on caring. I only have your best interests at heart. So please, be kind. This is my nurse’s wish.

d x


 

The difference between want and need. 

Can we ever really be content?

I think as humans we never stop chasing desire. We have this unquenchable thirst for the things that we can’t have, or can… but absolutely do not need

It would seem that the moment we are lucky enough to obtain the things we want most, desire evolves and revolutionises our definitions of happy.

I always had three big financial goals. The first was to save enough for a house, then for a new car and then for a wedding, that is of course, if a certain someone ever did decided to put a ring on it (ahem…still waiting). 

Well, I’m now 24 and I’ve built the house, I’ve bought the car and I’ve saved for the hypothetical-wedding (as there’s no shiny diamond yet). And I thought that by achieving these goals of mine I would happily fall asleep each night, utterly content with life and all it entailed. 

But lately, I somehow find myself awake in the early hours of the morning, chasing new desires in my mind.

And I am astounded by myself and my all-too-human flaw in wanting for more. I feel that this makes me greedy and I’m so uncomfortable with the feeling. How can I want more? Why isn’t what I have enough? 

I simply can’t fathom how I can feel so helpless for the people in the world with far less than me, yet crave trivial things such as new couch cushions and a fiddle leaf fig tree. It’s obsurd to me that I can in one state of mind, know I am privileged to have the things I have and yet in the other throw that notion to the wind in search of decor matching tea towels. 

I’m left to wonder whether these materialistic traits are avoidable or simply embedded into the very fabric of our beings as humans. 

Because I would very much like to turn down the dial on the wants, and focus solely on the needs. And with every attempt at this, I’m finding I’m walking a very find line between the both. 

It’s easy to walk into a shop and get a little hazy on what exactly constitutes a ‘need’. Especially when you walk away from a ‘want’ with all the best intentions, only to arrive back twenty minutes later convinced that it simply must be a ‘need’ in disguise due to the fact that you’ve been unable to stop thinking about it since you first laid eyes on it. 

Trust me, I have been there. 

But I think it simply comes down to this. The difference between need and want is functionality, and a little more self control than you ever think you have left in you at the time. 

Could you function without it? Can you do all that you need to do this week without it? No? Then it’s a need. Everything else earns the title of a want, and gets to stay put on the shelf while you pat yourself on the back for leaving it there. Seriously, good job!

It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t sometimes get the things want. It just is important to know the difference. And just when the right time is to endulge in the wants. 

So, I’m trying my best to stop chasing the wants in the early hours for a little while and instead turn my focus to trying to harness a little more contentness in the things that I have got. Because  I think sometimes that’s where happiness truely stems from – being content with your empire exactly the way it is. 

I’m opting for functionality. And hoping to embrace a little more gratitude over gluttony on my travels. I’m aiming for contentment in every way possible. It doesn’t mean I stop chasing dreams, or moving forward in my life – I have too much on the bucket list for that! It just means a revolutionary act of finding comfort in what I’ve achieved so far, and striving for the things that will only add value to my life. 

It’s okay to have a wants list, just don’t let it dictate your happiness, because I can promise you that a long lasting happiness simply can’t be bought. 

Be more with less. 

d x

 

#65

Whilst away on my tropical getaway, I finally had the chance to do something I’ve embarrassingly enough, never done before…. I snorkelled!

Yes, I can tell you now that it is entirely possible to live 24 years and not don the ol’ flippers and snorkel to investigate what lays beneath the oceans skin. I am the very proof. So upon visiting the picturesque Mystery Island last month, I decided to change that small life fact of mine.

It may not be a huge leap and bound in the big scheme of things, but it was something I have always wanted to do given my intrigue with the ocean. And so it found a worthy home at #65 on the bucket list.

Having never snorkelled before, and being mostly a nose-breather (it’s a thing, just ask any nurse), I must admit that I found it a little hard to do at first. Training your brain to suddenly only breathe through your mouth in an almost dire circumstance given that you are under the sea and water in your lungs is not exactly compatible with life; wasn’t exactly easy.

I resembled something close to a struggling baby seahorse at first, trying to coordinate breathing and swimming simultaneously. Throw in a subtle wave or two to supersede the end of my snorkel, and you could have easily found enormous entertainment in my personal underwater wrangle.

But for the sake of the rainbow fish, I persevered.

Eventually I grew accustomed to having a little less air in my lungs, and slowed down my breathing enough to find a slow rhythm with my stride. I was able to navigate the oceans movement and anticipated the waves. I almost instinctively learnt how to blow any water that dared to enter my sacred breathing tube right back out into the air above.

After an hour, I decided I was brave enough to attempt a dive under the surface. After two seconds of deciding this, I was convinced being brave was a death warrant. Cue struggling baby seahorse performance number two. How people did this so naturally was beyond me. It was like the moment the water travelled down the snorkel and touched my lips, my body spontaneously thought, ‘Oh sure, come on in!’.

But for the sake of the blue starfish, I persevered.

Spitting out the salty ocean water my body had executively decided to harbour, I tried again. This time concentrating on blowing the air in my lungs out slowly enough to combat the water. By day two of snorkelling, I had this manoeuvre down pat enough to venture through tunnels in the reef at Paradise Cove in Port Vila.

This baby seahorse had found her wings… or scales? Either way, I had become a little less entertaining to the observers onshore.

It was worth every moment of frantic underwater fear, and salty-ocean-water-swallowing just to swim with the multitudes of tiny fish who call these beautiful reefs home. From clown fish (totally found Nemo), to vibrant coloured starfish; giant sea slugs, to vicious eels; curious reef sharks, to bright coral – it was an experience I enjoyed whole-heartedly and plan to do a lot more of in the future.

I’ll call it my warm up for scuba-diving – which also makes the list, and I just know that when I get to it I’m going to love it just as much, if not more!

Oh, just as a side note for anyone else who, just like me, may have not yet snorkelled – here’s a prominent tip above all else… try only to smile internally at the beauty of it all. As it turns out, smiling externally breaks the seal of your snorkel mask causing a great deal of salt water to flood your eyeballs. And take it from me, it’s not a pleasant experience.

#65 – Go Snorkelling: Check!

d x

#5: Vanuatu & New Caledonia 2017

We arrived at the port of Brisbane right on time for our early check-in, and excitedly kissed our Mr.’s goodbye as we stared up the giant cruise liner titled Pacific Dawn.

Celebrating 10 years of friendship, my best friend, J, and I couldn’t think of a better way to commemorate the occasion than to set sail upon the high seas on a Pacific Island Cruise! Additionally, this made the perfect excuse to tick #5 off of the Bucket List nice and early this year.

Grabbing our luggage – which were impressively very compact and surprisingly not very heavy despite our indecision over what clothes to bring (if in doubt, bring it all, right?), we stumbled into the line up outside the port’s centre doors. First in the queue, we made our way to the check-in desk quickly.

Boarding was an easy process, and we found ourselves excitedly galavanting up the gangway in a little under an hours time. ‘Bon Voyage‘ they happily wished us as we stepped over the ship’s threshold and into the spacious liner’s atrium. We quickly found our room, and dumped the excess carry-on straight onto our beds, before making a beeline for the back of the cruise ship.

One ‘Tropical Passion’ and ‘Martini’ later, we found ourselves completely at home on the decadent lounges overlooking the Port. I always seem to forget how easy it is to settle into holiday mode, and in that moment aboard the cruise liner… oh boy, was I on holidays. I couldn’t help but secretly burst with a unparalleled anticipation for what lay ahead.

We spent 10 days sailing across the Pacific Ocean, visiting four islands and two countries in total. It seemed that each destination was even better than the one before, and we thoroughly enjoyed immersing ourselves in the cultures of each. From traditional Noumea and scenic Lifou in New Calendonia, to the untouched Mystery Island and popular Port Vila in Vanuatu – we managed to fill two camera phones, one GoPro and one Canon DLSR worth of pictures between us both.

We’ve come back at least three shades darker in skin colour thanks to the Pacific Ocean sunshine, and holding close to our hearts some very special memories. I could not have wished upon a better way to celebrate friendship than with this tropical adventure to some of the world’s most beautiful islands. You can count on the fact that this is only the very beginning of my tropical holiday obsession.

You can check out the details and destinations out a little more in depth here at my Polarsteps profile (an absolute god-send when it comes to documenting any overseas holiday I promise you!).

And with nothing else to say, Vanuatu and New Caledonia – you have been a dream!

#5 – Travel somewhere new every year: 2017 – Check!

d x

The support act. 

Sometimes I wonder what it is that places a heart and mind on two very separate pages of the same story. 

How is it possible to love something we shouldn’t or what tears us in two? Why can’t a heart change feelings as quickly as the mind can make the decision that we need too?

And what, just what, is it about humans that makes us believe that we never deserved better than that.

I have watched a close friend of mine lose the very things that made her, her… All because the word goodbye was something her heart couldn’t pronounce when her mind had tried it’s hardest to sound it out. 

Over the last three years, I have watched her effervescent personality fade into a shadow of self-doubt and insecurities all because she chose to love someone who will never love her as he should. And it makes me as angry as it does sad to know she’s limited her heart to a future with a hurt that could have so easily been avoided. 

I have been the shoulder to cry on, and I have provided the ‘happy gerbras’ and Krispy Kremes. And now I don’t know what more to do because I want to save her and I can’t. 

This is her battle. The task of pronouncing goodbye isn’t something I can teach her. She will have to learn that one on her own. 

Accepting this has been hard for me. I’m the sort of person who wishes it were completely possible to wipe him from her memory altogether so I could see a genuine happiness return to her world. I want her to enjoy life again, not to see life as a chore or simply her ‘lot in life’. 

Unfortunately though, it’s not up to me. In fact, I could keep doing my best to make it better until my dying breath – but it wouldn’t fix her. Because the fixing can only be done by her. 

This is something that I’ve come to really learn this year. People can only fix themselves if they want to, and there is no more you can do than be the soft landing that catches them on their darkest days. 

I guess I’ve realised that while this boy is the source of many of her problems, he’s also the source of her intermittent happiness. She has fallen so deeply in love with him that she has chosen to love his flaws no matter how cruelly they scar her. 

And while it is easy for me to sit here and form the opinion that she would be better off without him, it is far harder to be in her shoes. To dismantle the life that she has built around him over the last three years would be perhaps a seemingly impossible task. And I’ve only begun to try to see it from her point of view. 

She once told me that she would ‘be no happier without him’ than she is now. It was a statement that broke my heart as I watched her shuffle her feet, bluntly accepting a future where happiness may never truely become the steer. 

I have thrown myself both sides of the invisible friendship line, having offered advice in both support of the relationship, and in protest. 

I have spoken many times with her about deserving far more than he can give, and played devils advocate on many occasions in the hope she would question what her future looks like. 

And in situations like these, I’m really not sure what a good friend should do anymore. 

I guess she will figure it out. And I have already made the decision that I will be there for her in all capacity, be it with or without him. 

While it may frustrate me to see her hurt, I think it would be far worse for me to turn my back just because I don’t think he deserves the love she gives. 

There will be plenty more tears, and plenty more sugar-coated-cream-filled donuts. But this year I have made the promise to not give up on her. Because I think that’s what being a good friend means. 

It isn’t always easy, but I don’t think it was ever meant to be. And if each day I can help her find a little more of what makes her shine brighter again, then it will have been always worth it. 

d x

#55

A couple of years ago, I bought a proper camera for my Mr. for his birthday. It cost just short of a small fortune, but he loved it so thoroughly that eating cucumber as a staple meal for the subsequent month became almost justifiable.

I would readily find him photographing everything from the couch pillows to the carpet – though it was always beyond me as to understand what kind of artistic flare he was going for exactly. He was enthralled with it, and so it came to be an essential item to pack on any venture out of the house.

I remember on one outing I asked if I could have a go, just to see what all the fuss was about. I aimed the lens toward to the pink horizon and pressed the shutter capturing the last fleeting moment of sunshine before it vanished behind the earths edge. 

I quickly found the replay button, and examined the picture I had taken. And it was in that moment that I truly realised just how well my money had been spent. It was the beginning of an addiction, a yearning to capture even more of the earths beauty in a frame to last eternity. 

I was hooked. Only a photographer could perhaps know the feeling. 

There was just something about photography that entangled itself immediately with my creative side that day. I couldn’t help but suddenly feel inspired by the world around me. It was like a thirst to portray the beauty I was seeing with my own eyes in the pictures I could take. 

So I made it #55 on the bucket list to start my own photography page. 

I had always promised myself that in this lifetime I would do my best to illuminate the most wonderful parts of life for others to see. 

And I couldn’t help but hope that the creation of a photography page would become a perfect definition of that. 

It’s been about four months since I’ve thrown ‘Wild Hearted Photography‘ into existence in the every-growing world of Instagram. And while I’m still very much an ametuar, the page is starting to gain a little interest. 

It’s become not only a place to quietly display my collection of photos, but almost a guide to some of the most beautiful parts of the earth I’ve travelled so far – including Bali, Japan and certain roadtrip ventures down south. 

My goal is to keep adding to the collection, with many more pictures from the places I have every intention of exploring. I hope to inspire people not only with the places I photograph, but with the challenge I’m posing for myself in starting something I know nothing about, and making it my own. 

I haven’t nearly nailed photography on the head. I’ve got a long way to go. But when I look back to some of my first shots, I can see I’m improving and that’s okay with me! I’ve picked up a new hobbie, and I’m loving it. 

If you feel like joining the journey, head over to @wildheartedphotography and click follow! I promise to be the wings and the adventurer for us all. 

Now just to convince my Mr. that his GoPro is way cooler than the Canon – wish me luck!

#55 – Start my own photography page: check!

d x