#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

#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 

#4

Well, it’s official! I did it! I got the job! You are now looking at the newest CN to join the ranks in the surgical unit heading for the new hospital at the end of next month. If the ear-to-ear smile doesn’t give it away, then I’m not sure what would.

I couldn’t be more thrilled.

Admittedly it took me a lot to even apply for the position (read 2017: The Fear), but the whole process has made me realise just how important it is, and has always been, to never stop pursuing your goals  – even when they may prove difficult.

Truthfully, I have my father and my Mr. to entirely thank for pushing me to the brink of frustration. I had never doubted myself more than in the weeks leading up to the application deadline, and could not have fathomed the possibility that I would be successful.

Since finding out the inverted of that, I haven’t stopped thinking about just how lucky I was to have the two greatest men in my life believe in me strongly enough to [lovingly] peer-pressure me into clicking the ‘submit’ button. If it had not been for them, I may have  thrown away this opportunity altogether.

I’ve come to recognise that while we can be strong on our own, true strength is found in numbers. Only in the sense that in your weakness someone else will be there to loan the strength you need. It’s not that you couldn’t fight your battle alone, it’s that there’s comfort in knowing you don’t have to. To have someone else believe you can is sometimes the only ammunition we need.

I am more than humbled to be given such an amazing opportunity at the age of 23, and am knowingly entering a new chapter of my life with more gratefulness than I thought was possible.

Finally, I get to wear my shiny new CN shoes…and keep them. I am ready.

#4 – Make Clinical Nurse at work: Check!

d x

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#5: Japan 2016

Konichiwa (and almost sayonara) all the way from Japan! Today is the last day I’m here, and as spontaneous overseas trips go (not that I’ve been on many), this one was pretty great.

Back in April this year, I was working a late shift at the hospital when I received a message from one of my friends. The message said, “Return flights to Japan – $300. Are you in for a girls trip in November?”. Heck yes!

I barely thought twice about it before replying and simultaneously shouting out from behind the nurses station, “I’m going to Japan!”.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while now, you’ll remember that #5 on the Bucket List is to travel somewhere new every year. And a trip to Japan was exactly what I’d been looking for. I had been racking my brain trying to find somewhere to travel to in 2016 on a very tight budget (I believe the title ‘House Owner’ is entirely interchangeable with ‘Broke’). And this was it! Big, fat, CHECK!

Fast forward seven months, and here I am. And if I could wear a Kimono forever-more, I would.

Let me start by saying that if you haven’t put Japan on your travel list, you need to. This place has had me gobsmacked since the moment we landed. Decadent in tradition and more vibrant than a neon sign, Japan is awe-inspiring. It’s full of the most polite and wonderful people I think I will ever meet who made the trip one of the best I’ve ever had!

We touched down in Tokyo at about 6:30pm, so it was dark and after a long day of flying in a glorified metal cabin, we were equal parts tired to excited – plus, definitely hungry. The limousine bus took over an hour to arrive at the doorstep of our hotel, The Cerulean, in the centre of Shibuya. We checked in, and quickly shuffled up to the rooms to change out of the clothes that now seemed to stick to us after the 8 hour flight.

The view from the window was the first thing I saw. Tokyo lit up like a giant Christmas tree. It seemed to go on for miles, I tried to take it all in at once, and simply couldn’t. I was already in love. Think ‘big city lights’, but on the good protein powder. It was amazing!

With a shower, a change of clothes and being rather satisfied having taken 1,98373 pictures of the view. We turned our attention to getting food.

In the centre of Shibuya, is it’s famously busy Shibuya Crossing. You probably know it best from a scene out of Tokyo Drift. We didn’t have the fast cars to drift dangerously around the corner, splitting the near 3000 people on the crossing. But we did manage to spend a whole half hour running back and forth across the busy intersection, thoroughly embracing being a tourist.

There were so many options for food, that we barely knew where to start. But with grumbling stomachs we decided on choosing the closest we could find, and it was the best place we found the whole trip. We couldn’t read the menu in the slightest, our Japanese stretched as far as arigatou gozaimasu. So we picked at random, and hoped for the best. My garlic butter (as I later found out) Ramen, was perhaps the most oeeshi (delicious) meal I had the entire trip.

After roaming the streets of Shibuya into the early hours of the morning, being constantly amazed at how the city was still awake at 1am, when at home we tuck ourselves into bed at 8pm – we finally returned back to the hotel. After spending a great deal of time working out the remote control for the toilet (it even plays music), we snuggled up into bed ready for the trip ahead.

The next morning we woke to stare out the window at a clear sky boasting the presence of Mount Fuji in the distance beyond Tokyo City. I think that’s when we knew, this trip was going to be a good one.

We ventured to Lake Kawaguchiko, Mount Fuji, Hakone, Kyoto and back to Tokyo over the following eight days, and took the wrong train more than once. We dined traditionally, and ate more raw fish than we ever thought we could. We learnt that the microfibre cloths were in no way big enough to cover any body part in the Onsens, and that after the first time you do it, you realise that life is easier naked and in a natural hot spring. We loved sleeping on the floor, and our designated inside and outside shoes (just don’t mix these up, or in an excited rush to photograph mount fuji at sunrise, wear your inside shoes outside through the mud).

We learnt that it is far easier to take a Taxi rather than the Bus – which required much more attention trying to decipher Japanese announcements as to whether your stop was next, or already gone. We ventured to the top of volcanos, and rung traditional love bells to the famous Mount Fuji. We developed a rather unprecedented love for a corner shop named Lawson, which seemed to supply most of our hotel dinners in the form of Pork Buns and Pocky.

We tried all sorts of food and alcohol solely based on the ‘prettiness’ of the label as we definitely couldn’t understand what it said – and surprisingly, enjoyed everything we tried (even the cream cheese in prawn crackers packet, go figure). We took many timelaspes whilst aboard the Bullet Train, and made a mental note to inform the public transport back home of the technical advances in Japan that included phone chargers on every bus, train and taxi.

We hired bikes and visited temples (all 100 of them). We dressed up as Geisha Girls, and strolled around Kyoto in thongs without a heel under the toe – it’s a miracle we all survived. We posed for many tourist photos, for the tourists that thought we were actual Japanese Geisha Girls, and tried desperately not to burst out in laughter mid-photo at the ridiculousness of it all. We dined 637metres high at the Skytree in Tokyo, and found a Photo Booth to commemorate the occasion. We shopped, for twelve hours straight – even we were impressed with our stamina on that one. We found a Bunny Cafe, which sounded so much more fun that it was, but thats a whole other story. We contemplated dressing up as the Mario Brothers and racing around Tokyo on go-carts, but decided our travel insurance probably wouldn’t cover the inevitable injury we would all sustain.

We made more memories than we could count, and filled our cameras with the captured proof. It was certainly a trip to remember.

And as I sit here at Terminal 3 of Narita Airport about to board for the long journey home, I can’t help but notice that Japan has etched itself quite neatly into the confines of my heart. I may have only been eight days, but this place has wrapped it’s hands tightly around me and left a rather large hold.

I can’t wait to come back.

#5 – Travel somewhere new every year: 2016 – Check!

And don’t forget to check out the travel log for tips and places to stay in Japan!

d x

#59

Today, I did something good. I rolled up my sleeve and ticked #59 off the bucket list. I donated my blood.

Having been a nurse for the last two and a half years, I’ve come to realise the true importance of blood donations. I mean, you see it constantly advertised on the the tv commercials about how the world needs more blood donors to keep up with the demand. So I always knew it was important, but being the one to first-hand witness the life-saving ability of a blood transfusion really put it all into perspective as to just how much.

A part of my job is to be apart of a portfolio within my unit. This means we all have specific roles and aspects of nursing and patient care that we devote our knowledge and effects towards. Mine is Blood Safety. Every month we have a portfolio meeting and we talk about any updates to blood transfusion policies in the hospital setting, and the dramatic increase in demand for blood products world wide. The numbers alone are astounding.

Unfortunately, we need blood more than what we have. And by more, I mean a lot. There just aren’t enough donors, and we’re using more than we are collecting. So when my multi-traumas come in, and need multiple units of blood, it’s really impacting the system.

My portfolio encourages people to donate, attempting to rally the troops and find some sort of way to make a small difference (even if just locally). But having never donated blood myself, I’ve been a bit of a fraud. So it found itself as an item on my bucket list to donate blood.

They say for every donation, your blood saves three lives. And they’re not wrong. Your blood matters more than you realise. I’ve only come to know this by being a nurse, and the countless times I’ve run down to pathology to get a bag of blood to save someone’s life. Your blood really is worth bottling, if you’ve never been exposed to Mad Cow Disease that is!

So, in the attempt to make a difference, I booked in to donate my own liquid gold.

In the days leading up to the donation, the staff from the blood donation clinic rung me almost daily to make sure I didn’t have any questions about my first time donation. In fact, they had contacted me so much that for a moment there I was a little concerned at what I had agreed to give. I had agreed to donate just my blood right? Not a kidney? I was becoming so suspicious, I started double reading through the emails!

When I arrived to the clinic, the girls at the receptionist desk gave me a form to fill out. Despite it’s lengthy composition of five pages worth of questions, I managed to tick and flick all the right answers and made it through the interview to the blood donor circle in less than 10 minutes.

I never realised how in depth the screening was for blood donation, but I guess that makes a lot of sense considering how careful you have to be with blood. Apparently, my blood really was liquid gold. I was good to go!

They asked me whether I had had enough water enough times to make me question whether the two litres was, in fact, enough. So when they offered me another bottle of water, I thought I better. And later regretted my decision.

The lady called my name and I followed her through to the chair. She gave me a soft red blanket to keep my cosy and a sparkly red sticker proudly displaying a happy-faced blood drop who seemed to be congratulating me on my first donation. So far, so good.

Before long, another lady arrived at my side to warn me that she was about to cannulate my arm and if this was going to make me squeamish that I should look away now. Me, thinking to myself , “Hell no, I’m a nurse, this is what I do, go for it”. Also me, thinking to myself two seconds later, “Hell no. That thing is the size of my actual vein, probably not as okay with this as I thought”.

Despite the metal rod hanging out of my arm and a regrettably full bladder, I managed to avoid any queasiness and focussed on spinning the red squeezy brick around in the palm of my hand. This was a harder task than it initially seemed as my blood flow stubbornly slowed to the speed of a Sunday afternoon driver, and I was quite quickly losing any sort of blood flow to my left hand. If I were to describe the scene, it looked a lot like me staring intently at my left hand as if trying to telepathically make it move like I know my brain was instructing it too, slightly panicking as the pins and needles sensation was replaced with an overall iciness.

The girls would smile at me and say, “Just keep turning the red brick around in your hand”. And I would smile back politely, despite the very real and irrational fear that my hand might just drop off altogether.

It took twenty minutes instead of the usual ten to squeeze enough blood out of me to fill four bags, but that was thanks to my snail-like blood delivery system. And in the grand scheme of things, it actually felt over and done with more quickly than I thought, leaving me with a “Is that all it is?” feeling. I also managed to leave with all limbs and organs – so that was a bonus in itself.

When I walked out of the donation room, I was met by a little old lady who told me to help myself to the wall of food that stood behind her. From cookies to chips, meat pies and chocolate – the choice was mine. Replenish, is what she said with a giggle in response to my widening eyes. So much delicious free food, I didn’t even know where to start. I could get used to this blood donating thing, that was for sure.

Fed and watered, I finally was ready to leave feeling rather impressed at myself for not having passed out in the whole process. I waved goodbye to the little old lady who much like a grandmother insisted I have something else, and walked out into the sunshine feeling pleased to have done what I could to help someone else.

 

The most wonderful part is that I have never felt so appreciated in my whole life. The girls there make you feel like you have done something really spectacular, for doing something I originally thought was pretty average. Not one person neglected to congratulate me, or thank me for donating my blood at any stage of the day. They honestly made me feel like a superhero, and I became embarrassed because I really didn’t think I deserved it!

So heres the part where I encourage you to donate too if you can. It takes less than 10 minutes (if your veins are more cooperative than mine, that is), and you can acquire the honour of calling yourself a super hero for the rest of the day – because that’s what you are. In ten minutes you can save the lives of three people alone, and in my books, that it definitely something worth doing.

And if the ‘saving someones life’ plug hasn’t got you convinced, then at least do it for the giant chocolate chip cookie.

#59 – Donate Blood: Check!

d x

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#24

As you will have read by now, on Thursday last week I ticked #24 off of my bucket list…I bought a puppy!

He is a beautiful little Golden Retriever who turned 9 weeks old today, has the sharpest teeth you can imagine and boasts an entire weighting of 3.3 kilograms. He is very much a bundle of fur with the biggest brown eyes I have ever known.

His name is Igloo in reference to looking not at all dissimilar to a baby polar bear, only a little more caramel coloured. And he is the definition of adorable and naughty all rolled into one, but owns my heart as if he had always had the key.

I’ve spent almost every hour over the last four days with Igloo. We have perfected a sleep-play routine and usually circle back through it at least eight times a day. We wake up, we play, we bite everything in sight, we get told ‘No’ a lot, we eat some grass, we do a wee and if we’re feeling particularly good, we do a poo too. Then we enjoy tummy rubs before dozing back off to sleep for the next hour or two before we wake up and start it all over again.

Igloo has become quite fond of the taste of the BBQ brake tabs, and strangely enough, his own poo. Which is equal parts amusing as it is disgusting. He is very curious about the bricks down the side of the house, more-so than the neighbours dogs who consistently bark at him. And he has taken quite a liking to the drains down the back of the yard which supersede any interest in the actual puppy toys I’ve bought for him.

Nevertheless, I am never bored when I hang out with the little man. He never ceases to entertain me with his “gumby-ness” and endless affection for suckling on my fingertips. He is the best thing that has ever been mine, even if he hasn’t quite figured out how to best use the limbs attached to him without falling over head-first-bum-up.

I will admit, however, that it has been a lot more hard work than I thought it would be. Not that I ever thought a puppy would be easy to look after, I always knew it was going to keep my hands full. I just didn’t realise exactly how much.

I’ve come to realise that having puppy is a lot like bringing home a new born baby. Except a puppy doesn’t wear a nappy, has teeth and is more mobile than any new mum would prefer. It’s a constant visual stake-out trying to distinguish ‘exploration‘ sniffing and ‘I need to poo right here on the carpet‘ sniffing – which unfortunately for me, look all too similar.

I have totalled about 10 hours sleep over the past four nights, and I feel more exhausted looking after Igloo than I do looking after all my patients combined on a night shift. I’ve even found myself to be quite the worry wart when it come’s to looking after him. He brings out the ‘Mum’ in me, and rightly so.

In all honesty, he’s actually being quite good through the night in that he barks to let me know when he’s done a wee. So I’m thinking that this is better than barking for no reason at all. But in conjunction with a puppy-sized bladder and the copious amounts of water he drinks, this happens to be every hour, almost on the hour. Meaning I barely fall asleep before he calls out for me again and I find him there, standing in his own little puddle smiling at me.

I guess we are both learning about each other. We are very busy trying to figure out what makes each other happy and how to live in harmony. And I know that’s going to take some time, so we’ll just take it one day at a time.

He’s the first puppy that’s been mine. So I am figuring out the ropes just as much as he is. I know the basics from having a hand in raising the family dog, but I was also seven at the time he was a puppy…so there’s not much to go on.

It’s a whole new experience that is going to keep me busy for quite a while I think. I’ve been busy reading forums and books, trying to be the best mum I can to this little fluff ball, but I think it simply comes down to this…

I have plenty of love in my heart for him and so long as I do, I know we are going to be just fine. We make a good team already, so I’m ready.

Although, I do think I’m going to need another holiday to recover from this holiday. And oh how I hope he feels like sleeping the whole night through tonight!

I’ll keep you posted.

d x