#39

At this point in my life, my strengths and weakness are becoming pretty clear. And not that I like to focus on my weaknesses by any means, but this blog entry relies on one of my biggest – balance.

Since I was little, my balance has never been my strong point. I can elegantly trip over my own feet standing still, and while that sounds like a unique talent, I assure you it’s never been beneficial.

I’ve tried everything from skateboarding to surfing, but I’ve just never been able to figure it out. Perhaps I’ve never really given it enough of a go, but after watching a documentary on bones at the age of sixteen, the fear of falling with my wrists out first has ever since had me fear unbalancing the wellbeing of my radius’.

But as all things go in my life, this determined bundle of ambition I call myself can’t seem to ever give up on the hope of one day not being capable of losing balance on flat ground (or in a room full of people at Pilates).

The thing is though, if you don’t keep trying, you never will learn something new. And I’ve grown to learn that the moment you believe you can’t do something, is the moment you quite literally can’t.

I met someone the other day who told me she couldn’t snorkel because she hadn’t ever had lessons. Now I’m not sure I’ve met one person who’s ever actually had a snorkelling lesson, so I was confused by the notion at the time. Put the mask on, breathe through the tube, swim. Granted it takes some getting used to at first, but I’ve always thought the process to be pretty straight forward.

The entirety of our trip at Isla De Potipot in northern Philippines, she refused to snorkel the beautiful reefs surrounding the island because she’d already made up her mind that she couldn’t. She was scared she would fail at it, and despite us all offering to teach her how, she declined.

And the more I think about it, the more it really stands out to me as a lesson on never imprisoning yourself in accordance to what you think is not possible. She missed out on a whole under water wonderland that day, and while she had every right to make that decision – I just couldn’t understand it.

So I guess when it comes to balance, why should the fact that I have none of it mean I should corner myself in. The reality is, I’m happy to fall off, over or out, if it means experiencing something new. Sometimes you just have to give something a chance and see where it takes you. To hell with the wellbeing of my radial bones, right?

Ergo, bucket list #39. Learning to stand-up paddle board (SUP, as it will from here on be abbreviated to).

It’s always been something I’ve wanted to try. I live close to the beach, and on the ocean’s softer days, it’s home to many people aboard SUPs. To stand on the roof of the ocean, under blue skies and sunshine, had always struck me as being the dream.

On the fourth day of being at Moreton Island last year, we had woken up to a windless morning. The sea was calm, and clear. So my Mr. and I decided to hire a couple of SUPs and give it ago. The added bonus was that I figured falling off into water, would turn out to be a much softer break fall than concrete.

I must admit that while I knew my balance and lack thereof, would keep things interesting, I didn’t anticipate just how hard it would be to stand up, let alone remain upright.

In the time it had taken my Mr. to help me push my board out, head back to the beach, grab his board, head back out, stand up and paddle over the small breaking waves – I had barely accomplished kneeling on all fours.

He could barely control his laughter in between shouting encouragement my way as I put on a show that could only be likened to Bambi’s first steps. With wobbly legs and a whole degree of arm-waving, I finally stood up after far longer than I care to admit.

From there things got easier. Turns out standing up was the hardest part for me, the rest was relatively straight forward. While the occasionally lump in the ocean unsettled my balance, I never fell off. However I will admit to a fair bit of yelling, “Don’t come near me!” and some use of my oar as a jarring stick whenever my Mr. would teasingly come too close for comfort.

After we had paddled ourselves up the beach and back, we decided to spend the rest of our last hired hour laying on our boards. From the depths of the clear blue waters, we had been spotted by a pod of playful dolphins. Sitting on my sup with a smile as wide as my face plastered on, I watched them swim, dancing through the ocean as if it had been rehearsed especially just for us.

If I could SUP and swim with dolphins everyday, I would – because I’m really not sure how it ever gets any better than that, even if it does take me a small lifetime to stand up.

Balance or no balance, never let your weaknesses define what your capable of. There’s always a way if you will it. You can always do something extraordinary.

#39: Learn to Stand-up Paddleboard – Check!

d x

Advertisements

#66

When I was 12 years old, I broke my wrist riding a scooter down a hill. Granted that it could have been partly my fault given I had been sitting on the foot ledge rather than riding it properly, but you just couldn’t have convinced a younger me that this wouldn’t have ended in disaster at the time. Nevertheless, one fleeting 15 second ride led to a 6 hour wait in hospital and whole lot of not swimming in the middle of summer thanks to one very unfashionable cast.

When I was 13 years old, Dad let me drive the family run-around car back into the garage after we had finished washing it. It was one of those things that sounded like a good idea at the time, but later left you thinking why on earth did we do that. Because there were two things that went terribly wrong in the space of a few seconds. The first was that I forgot where the brake was; the second was that my soap-covered feet had little grip. Slipping on the accelerator was bad, crashing at a decent speed into the foundation wall of our two story house was worse, but forgetting where the brake was and plowing straight back into the wall a second time was downright priceless (in the most expensive way). This stunt also landed me in the emergency ward with a nasty gash to my forehead, and the requirement of a tetanus injection.

When I was 14 years old, I let my friend teach me how to ride her motorbike. I’d never ridden one before, nor did I really know how they worked – so naturally, this also seemed like a good idea. I actually hadn’t been doing too badly, the worst only happened when we decided to stop. You see, there’s a throttle on the handlebar and if you relax your wrist in the form of twisting down (don’t ask me how), you can find yourself tangled in a barb-wire fence pretty quickly with half a metal barb sticking out of your ankle, and a rather large third degree burn curtesy of the exhaust. Back to the hospital, and eight weekly burn dressings later – I never touched another motorbike.

When I was 15 years old, I let a boy push me down a grass hill in a shopping trolley. Was I sober? Yes. Was I smart? Not that day. Hitting a rock halfway down caused the trolley to capsize to the left crushing my elbow under both the trolley and myself. The stomach-turning crunch of my poor bones landed me a return trip to hospital, this time for a surgery and nine months of rehab. I still can’t look at shopping trolleys without cringing.

The point of these three stories is to show you that things with wheels and me, well we’ve never really gotten along. I purposely have never taken on a skateboard for obviously reasons, and have more than a few misfortunes to tell when it comes to my cars. The reality is, there would be less havoc in my life if the wheel had never been invented. But the greater good prevails, and as it turns out, they’re pretty useful in anyone else’s opinion.

But despite having sworn off wheels for the most part, there has always been one more set of wheels I’ve always wanted to try…

At #66 on the bucket list was to ride an adventure ATV, and call me crazy, but despite my unfortunate history with all things round – I’ve always been mentally prepared for the injury I would surely entailed completing this bucket list item.

When planning our trip to Moreton Island last year in November, I stumbled across an advertisement for riding beach ATV’s through the islands notorious sand dunes. Better to stack it on a balmy sand island rather than out in a balinese jungle, I thought. So I convinced my Mr. in no time (who is most definitely pro-theinventionofwheels, and master of all of them!) and we booked it in.

In an unlikely turn of events, I can confirm I managed to ride one without injury or a hospital admission… maybe wheels have taken pity on me and my battle scars after all. In fact, in comparison to the three tourists riding in front of my Mr. and I, who undoubtedly were more of a liability than even me, I think I did quite well. And I most certainly enjoyed every second of racing through the sandy figure-eights built low into the sand dunes, and over the tops of the berms.

Moreton Island is such a beautiful part of the Australian coastline, and to see it from behind the handle-bars of an ATV was such a great experience. Zooming along the shoreline on the beach at sunset is something I will remember as being one of the most beautiful sights I’ve seen. Even with the most wonderful of descriptive words, I couldn’t out-do seeing this place in person. It’s just simply something you’ll need to add to your own bucket list.

There is video proof of my successful ATV adventure in my latest holiday vlog, so if you wanted to check it out in live motion, you can click here.

And as for my war with wheels? Well, I’d like to believe that perhaps we finally made peace in paradise.

#66 – Ride an Adventure ATV: Check!

d x

 

 

 

#64

I think when I look back, I’ve always been a water baby. Between being strongly influenced by red-headed Ariel the Little Mermaid, and being driven by a school-girl crush to reach the level 3 swimming group so I could swim with the cutest boy in third-grade – I always preferred water to land (and not just because LM was swimming in it).

Any given family holiday, you’d find my parents borderline-dragging me from the water’s edge. Wrinkled skin? Not a worry in the world. All the better to hang onto the pool floor with!

Although roughly twenty-something years later my Mr. would argue that my now chosen swimming technique leaves much to be desired, I just put it down to being a different type of swimmer, a floater if you will. A much more leisurely way of enjoying the ocean, because lets face it, I never actually made it to the level 3 swimming group, and the Butterfly Stroke was never meant for me.

All of this aside, almost 6 months ago, I found a way to overcome my shortfalls for my love of the ocean. Its black and orange, and zips through the water like an ocean lamborghini – yes, sir. I did in fact, buy a jetski!

To buy a jetski, has been a goal of mine for quite sometime. I’m not exactly sure what appealed more to me, the thrill of soaring over the water, or just the adventure that comes with it. Maybe a bit of both? All I know, is that life got a little more fun with this new addition!

There is now a new toy to fit into the ever-shrinking garage alongside my Ryobi Builders Collection (that’s what I call it anyway, theres a dropsaw now too boot. This girl is no longer a damsel in distress!). And we have made use of it most weeks since getting it. Whether down along the river, or out in the ocean (I’m getting the hang of the ramp-like waves), we’ve started to explore around home from a different perspective.

Learning to ride a jetski is a little odd at first. For someone who hasn’t really had a whole lot to do with motorbikes or anything throttle-related (and perhaps without being of good cause), riding a jetski for the most part, was a learning curve. But it doesn’t have wheels, so judging by my history we’re safe.

Although speeding along the water at 80km sure used to feel like a death-defying dangerous feat until I got used to it, I’m learning I like being on the water much more than ever before. There’s just something about the wind grazing your face and the ocean salt spray that makes it feel liberating.

Recently, we have bought a donut tube – literally shaped and coloured like a donut with sprinkles. With a double hit of the control panel’s middle button, a little oomph with the help of ‘sports mode’, we can have you scooting round a lake as the donut hole at speed on the back of the ocean lamborghini. It makes for one hell of a day, and a whole lot of laughter, I honestly don’t know why I never invested in buying one sooner.

My Mr. and I are certainly ready for 2019, and many more Jetski adventures to come.
And if you wanted to check out one of the adventures from 2018, click here!

#64: Buy a Jetski – Check!

d x

 

Helping abroad

Well, it’s official – I’m going to the Philippines next year!

For those that have been following, you might remember me mentioning becoming the newest member of the Helping Children Smile Organisation about two months ago (if not, read about it here). You might also remember me applying for next year’s mission trip in February to perform free surgery for the children over there with cleft palates – and lo and behold, one phone call last week confirmed I was successful!

In all honesty, being so new to the team, I wasn’t really sure whether I was in with much of a chance of being selected in the first place. It’s a huge trip with so many applicants each round, and I had only been there for all of five minutes. But encouraged by a couple of the girls at last month’s meeting, and with the CN application ordeal fresh in my memory – I figured there was no harm in showing my interest. This is my year of conquering fear, after all.

I’d originally put in an expression of interest for the ‘admin’ position – similar to a being a go-for. Someone who would help with the admissions, file paperwork and run errands. While it wasn’t exactly a position that would utilise my nursing skills as such, it would have been the perfect position to get a taste for the trip, in the hope to return the following year in a more surgical position.

So when I received a cryptic phone call asking whether I would have any interest in being a recovery nurse for the trip, I couldn’t help but feel the excitement bubble. Apparently, my experience in surgical nursing and airway management in neonates in my nursing internship made me a little more eligible than a go-for. One week later, I was officially asked to accompany the 2018 Mission Trip as the newest recovery nurse to the team.

I had to use every ounce of self-control to not squeal  down the line, but the smile that breached ear to ear said enough. It was as if it had all been falling in place since the moment I spotted the infamous post of Facebook. If there was ever a moment where I have felt like something was just meant to be Рthis was it, this was that moment.

I now have a lot to organise, including applying for a temporary permit to work in the Philippines – which is a whole other level of paperwork in itself. But I’m no way complaining. This is certainly going to be one amazing experience. And at the risk of sounding a little too much like my Father, there really is no substitute for doing something like this.

I’m so excited to use my nursing career for something so meaningful, in a place that really needs it. It’s been on the Bucket List for a long time, and finally #52 has found it’s promising ‘check’ – so stay tuned for that one. I’m already looking for forward to blogging this amazing adventure next February!

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

#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