Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Mother's Love

As each day comes, I’m learning more and more about myself, my journey, following your heart, accepting yourself, but even moreso, about loving, giving, and being grateful.  Every morning starts with me giving thanks for my situation (whatever it may be at that moment- good or bad), and it struck me how significant it is that everyday the first person I thank is my mom :) What a blessing that is!  We don’t choose our parents, and not everyone has the best relationship with theirs, so I don’t take it for granted that my favorite person in the whoooooole wide world just happens to be my Mudda Debba :)

I’d like to give a long distance gift of pure thankfulness.  Anyone close to me knows how I adore my cute momma, and I tell her so regularly....  Buuuut, I like to do things out-loudly (can I quoin that word?)!!!!  Sooooo, this blog is my homage to my mother, Debbie Jo :)

Outwardly speaking, we are very different. She’s short and delicate looking with dark hair and green eyes.  She’s super quiet (we used to tease her about not being able to yell) soft spoken with soft mannerisms, and absolutely epitomises the word ‘approachable’!  (She has had strangers openly ask her if they can be friends within minutes of meeting her :).  She just radiates sweetness, kindness, and has this keen ability to make you feel like every word you say is sooo very important. Pretty much, there’s no one quite like this woman, and I would bet big money you couldn’t find anyone that dislikes her.  

Inwardly, the way we think about things is very much the same...  eager for new knowledge and always with an open mind.  We have a curiosity about so many things, it’s the way that gets expressed/put into action that is unique, a product of our own confidences. Debba (aka Debbie Jo, aka Mudda, aka Momma, aka Mudda Debba... I love nicknames :) grew up in an extremely loving but super cautious, color-within-the-lines type upbringing  Thus, she always lived life safely and with conformity, not exactly the beacon of self-assurance.  We had a wonderful conversation once about how she knew she had been more of a spectator of life than a participant. She wanted more than that for her daughters, so she’s been able to boldly step out of her comfort zone and instil having our own individuality, independence and confidence (Okay, obviously with help from Daddie-o too, but that’s off topic!).   I am so so very grateful to be able to say I can’t recall a time that I was ever told I was too little, or too young, or too anything but able. It was always- you can do it, go for it.   

She wasn’t without fear though, I can still hear her in my head even now- her little precautionary sayings: “Take something for your arms”, “wear your sunscreen”, “use the buddy system”, and her favorite one lately: ”you’re being careful, right?”...So cute :).  The more important moral/ethical/golden rule lessons are there too, the ‘wallpaper’ of my life in a way, always there in the background.  What else is always there? I’ve been away from home for more than 11 years, but anywhere and everywhere I go, I always feel loved. It’s like her energy travels across the globe and just wraps me in a super comfy love blanket :)

Im the youngest of 3 sisters, and all of us turned out so unique (I’m the ‘crazy’ one;). We all interpreted the lessons different, for me, it was that I could do anything... or at least try and not fear a rejection/failure/ loss.  I knew I would have at least one person who would say, “...but becky jo, you looked so great trying’! hhahahh.. she’s so cute :) The most amazing thing though, is that despite our completely different paths/personalities, each one of us girls has the same feeling towards her: that we would do anything for her.  (I’ve got dibs on her when she’s old and feeble and needs care :).  It wasn’t about molding us into what she wanted, it was just love and support, plain and simple. 

Motherly love they say.  She doesn’t want me to change (even though Im sure she’d love to stop being nervous!), doesn’t manipulate or use guilt trips, she doesn’t care that I wear a fanny pack or that I talk too much, accepts my character flaws, and was beyyyooond fully supportive when I decided to quit my job and leave a perfectly ‘safe’ situation.  In fact... she’s getting her own confidence to come and join me somewhere!!! All this, and she doesn’t ask for anything in exchange, she just loves!! ... and that folks, is the definition of unconditional love. Why is it reserved just for mothers to their children?  Shouldn’t it be that way for allllll love?  Wow... if all love was like that we’d have a pretty fab world :). Hmmmmmm... yesssssss, think about that ;)! 

So my wonderful Mudda Debba, Thank you for giving me the most absolute unconditional love ever. Thank you for an unwavering support that allows me to take on anything. Thank you for your cards, notes, and care packages to remind me Im loved. For sacrificing your summers at the ball park! For slaving away helping with my house remodel!  For your always making my favorite foods when I come visit! For your advice, your wisdom, your shoulder to cry on, your availability -always!  Your love of growing and learning and sharing, your kind heart, your sympathy, your smile, your craftiness, your work ethic, your ability to take in the good and toss out the bad, your zest for life’s lessons, and your guts in letting me be who I am, even when it scares you!  For being the only person I could sit and do nothing but talk to all day and not feel like I need to go do something :) .  Thank you, for taking your whole young life to cultivate the courage you always sought for yourself, and giving it to me and Jule and Nan as a precious gift :) If I can be half the mother that you are someday, all my future chubby babies will be soooooo very very luckyyyyy! 

Can’t wait for you to come join me, live out some of your own dreams, become the confident participant, and let another part of the world experience your aura of wonderfulness!!!

Inside and Out :)

ps... she's a real estate agent in North Alabama... buy a house ;) hahha 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Hooray for Aloneness!!!

Don’t listen to Webster! Aloneness and Loneliness are NOT synonyms!!  These enlightened people have soooo got the lock on this one!  Here are Osho’s definitions:

“Loneliness is an absence. It is a state when you are ill with yourself, bored with yourself, tired of yourself, and you want to go somewhere and to forget yourself in being involved with somebody else.  Aloneness is positive, health, the joy of being yourself, of having your own space. Aloneness is when you are thrilled just by your being. You are blissful just by being alone.”

Wow! Yes! Loooooove this ‘thing’ I already was subconsciously aware of, and knew I needed more of, but didn’t have a name for-  this state called Aloneness :).   Last year, my friend Meli lived with me, and sometimes in the 5 minutes we saw each other (both of us were constantly in go-go-go mode), we would talk about how crazy it was that people get bored!  We would daydream about how nice it would be to actually a have moment to just be!  Just be and be happy about it, without the next item on the to-do list nagging on your brain!  Even here at the ashram, with the quintessential free-time 'vacation’ I’m on... I can’t even ponder getting bored! :)   Just had a great idea... next time you get bored, draw me a picture or sing me a song and email it to me :)

hahah.. kinda true ;)
 I remember one night, Meli mentioned that I’m ‘so social’ and always like to be with people.  I was like noooooooo way jose!  Certainly when I’m around people, I can step into the role of social butterfly..  Butttt, that def doesn’t mean I always need to be around people!  In fact, you might’ve heard me complain that there’s always too much going on and that I need to live out in the country so I wont know of all the available events and can do my own thing (one of my 1,123 reasons to do this trip!).  I have this annoying habit that I don’t like to ‘miss anything’... cuz what if it’s awesome and then I wish I would have gone :/. I think Im getting better at listening to myself as I get older, but I still do that... even here at the Ashram! A few times I’d have rather kept working but ‘didn’t want to miss what could be a great meditation’. Ha!  Back in Miami, with working all day, and then having some social event, or a sporty thing, or some other thing I couldn’t say no to, I barely had time to sit still, let alone find what realllly was going to fulfill me!  And since I absolutely adore my friends, there was only so long I could go before I made sure to make the effort for some one-on-one quality time. What a problem right?  I know, poor me, I have too many friends ;)  ohhh I do miss you guys though!

Someone anonymously commented on my last blog the other day asking if I was lonely , but in fact,  I’ve been craving the opposite, more aloneness!!!!  More opportunity to really discover what fulfills me!! Isn’t Aloneness cool? ohhh, but that’s not it!!! There’s even MORE awesomeness!! :

When you are Alone, need has disappeared, you are enough unto yourself.  But now, a new thing arises in your being you have so much that you cannot contain it. You have to share, you have to give. and whoever accepts your gifts, you will feel grateful that the person has accepted. Sharing makes you more centered, more integrated, more proud-- but not more egoistic, simply proud that existence has been compassionate to you.  You are giving because you are so full you have to give.

OMGosh this is sooooo what is happening with me!!!  I actually had written months ago in the “why the blog”  section that I have been beyond blessed in this life, and if I can in some way pass on those blessings, I’ll feel good about my life!!! Even the last 6 months in Miami I was much happier having the blog as an outlet to share!  Since I’ve been here at the Ashram, with time and opportunity to meditate (letting ‘my flower’ grow out of me!!) and getting to do just about whatever my heart desires....  I’m really learning what that flowering is: To Create, to Share, and to Inspire!!!  Whatever it is doesn’t really matter- an art project, a blog, a house design, an inspirational saying, an efficient improvement, an invention, a smile, a book (yep, I’m starting it!) --- I just feel soooo much joy inside of meeee and I need to shareeeeee!!!!!!  ohhhhh the clarities that have befallen me here are INCREDIBLE!!!! 

ACKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK!!!!  I have SUCH excitement and joy in my life right now!!! My heart is just overflowing with the juices of life and w/ love and gratitude for every person and moment that I have had in my life thus far!   To my incredibly supportive family, to my real true forever friends (who weren’t offended that I basically said above I needed to get away from you for a while!), to everyone I’ve crossed paths with to get me to this moment, and to all the people who continue to support me thru this blog, letting me share with you:  I hope you have or can soon find your Aloneness and your inner Flower!!!  I think the real journey is just getting started, maybe for you and me both, so THANK YOU and lets rockkkk this life!!!

Always loved this quote... now it’s even more symbolic to me :)  Share share share!

So, am I lonely?  No, not an issue! As far as wanting a special someone in my life? If it happens, I can’t deny that I would welcome the addition, especially after having a reminder tasting of those feelings just before I left. But, in my case, ‘expecting’ is a big issue for me in relationships.  I’m learning you need to be able to give yourself unconditional love and acceptance before you are really ready for a relationship, so you aren’t ‘asking’ for anything from the other in order be happy. Just giving love unconditionally.  I can’t help but think that nothing has worked out thus far in my life so I could really be ready for pure, untainted love... and that is a whoooole new blog topic!!! Aren’t you excited??! hehe :)

(p.s. anonymous commenter from last blog- I cant reply to comments on here! Feel free to email me and I’ll satisfy your curiosities!)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Close your eyes!

Have you heard of/ read the book/ seen the movie called The Secret?  If you boil it down to the main gist--- it's that we attract whatever we need into our lives, good or bad, when we think about it a lot.  We send thoughts out to the universe, and thereby attract it back to us.  For example, you think about how lonely you are, you attract more loneliness, or you think about how much you are blessed and you get more blessings :)   I think for me I've been thinking a lot about needing peace of mind... and I think a big key to that has just been placed on a big fat buffet platter for me:)                                                     

By chance, I've ended up at an Ashram in the Hinderlands (the countryside) of Byron Bay.  I had sent an email to a place called the Bush Sanctuary on (where you trade work for room and board, what I also did in Melbourne).  Based on the ad, I though I was just going out to some farm (with a cute name) to work, and I liked the idea of being out in nature.  The advertisement casually mentioned that they did some meditation that you could participate in if you wished.   A week or so later I got an invitation email from them.  I thought it was a reply to mine, but as it turns out, they had never gotten one from me, had just seen my profile on workaway and liked my smile! :). SOOOO from the git-go, it was kismet :) 

My little cabin
The simple life :)

Working on the Bush Sanctuary! Where we eat, meditate and be merry :)

What is an ashram anyways?? No internet, so I still don't know!.... seems like its just a place to meditate and find yourself.  I've asked around a bit and there seems to be many different types of Ashrams... this one is like a peace and kindness one:). Its almost like a hostel in a strange way, but for alternative lifestyle type people :)   There's probably 15 people (10 permanents) up at the top (it's on a beautiful 100 acre property) and 5 down where I'm staying at the Bush Sanctuary.  They are all between ages 20-35 (besides the two owners), and almost all of them hold college degrees...  Being here has been a choice to let go of the commonly accepted lifestyle, for a simpler, more natural, less drama-filled life :). We do some form of meditation in the mornings (I've tried vipassana, kundalini, dynamic, Osho discourses, set-sang, dances, walking, laying, sunset meditation.. the works!), then we have breakfast and start working together on some property improvement project from 8-1. So far I've helped clear/build a trail in the forest to the creek, painted the main building, and as of late they've discovered I have building skills so I've been replacing rotten beams, installing gutters, new siding, and I get to paint a mural on the main doors next week! Mixed in is a nice tea break and then a wonderfully prepared vegetarian lunch! The rest of the afternoon and evening is free, with delish dinner provided, and some meditations/ yoga offered throughout the day.  We've got tons of trails, a creek (perfect for rock hopping), a treehouse with swing, a firepit,  a labyrinth, a few gardens, kangaroos, and plenty of time to read/ write/ create/ relax... anything really, except the internet (hoorah for disconnecting!).  We have no electricity (at least in the bush where i live- up top you can charge things), the toilets are outdoors w/ no doors (yes I check for spiders everrry time), cold showers (sometimes lukewarm if it was a hot day and it heated up in the tank), everything is a hoj-poj or a jimmied solution.... ohh, and who could forget-- a zillllllion huge spiders. (seriously a zillion!!) Sooo... how does it sound to you?  Simple? Yes.  Old fashioned? Yes.  Hands on? Yes.  Free and relaxing? Yes. An incredible place surrounded by true people with no expectations and no judgement and freedom to be yourself and discover things about yourself you never knew? YEEEESS!!!  It's been just amazing and I love it!  Even the spiders! (which are strangely also bringing me calmness, especially the ones that love to hang out on my bed!! I talk to them... we have a truce ;)  I was originally supposed to come here for 5 days... already it's been 9 and I've decided to not make any plans for departure.  Im just going day by day and as long as Im feeling this good I think I'll stay. I want to really plant this "seed" so it can keep growing, so when I do go back to the "real world" I'll have a solid trunk to think back to. I really feel like this is a piece of what I've been looking for, not knowing what I was looking for, just what I've "sent out to the universe." :)

Painting day!

Morning Tea happiness :)
Thats a 6" beam... and a 5" spider! WHOA!

Can I even touch on what I'm experiencing/learning/becoming in these last few weeks? You know I'd certainly like to try (*big cheeky grin*)!!!!  This blog is probably already reaching its max attention span from you though, so just one main concept that has really impacted me: meditation! 

I've discovered that sitting with your eyes closed and trying to think of nothing (always trying, never really mind is an ant on crack), is a wonderful thing! It doesn't have just one clear precise definition... I'm thinking it can be a bit different for everyone?  I've found a few sentences in the readings around here that I'm partial to:

"Meditation helps you grow your own intuitive faculty.  It becomes very clear what is going to fulfill you, and what is going to help you flower. And whatsoever it is, it is going to be different for each individual.  That is the meaning of the "individual" everybody is unique and to seek and search for your uniqueness is a great thrill. A great adventure."

It is the art of being aware, of what's going on inside you and around you.  It is not something that can be added to you. It can only come to you thru a basic transformation. It is a flowering, a growth.  Just like love. It cannot be added to you, it grows out of you ;)

Meditation is nothing but a device to make you aware of your real self- which is not created by you, which you already are. You are born with it. You are it! It needs to be discovered.

Rather than fighting ourselves, trying to improve ourselves, trying to live up to others ideas of who or what we should be, we can start by simply accepting ourselves as we are NOW.  We were born, so we are welcome in this world ;)

Everyday I'm learning more and more (and I'm lightyears from an expert, so don't quote me) but so far, it seems like a two-piece kit:  the meditation teaches you to just become aware. You just "watch" and develop this awareness:  of your real desires, your body, your thoughts, your intentions... and then as you get the knack of it, in the rest of the day (and life) it stays with you in a more relaxed sense.  You do all things w/ purpose and awareness, not just mindlessly moving thru life.  The point being that instead of struggling/ fighting/ stressing through each day, you find out how to be always at your best. How to feel joyous inside for no reason at all... not because you got a new car or a promotion or a hot date, just because!  Meditation is really nothing more than learning to be aware... you have an emotion, you acknowledge it, and choose when and how to respond to it. Im thinking for my spastic mind it'll take 23 years to actually become aware enough to recall where I put my keys... but dang-it one day I will pay attention!! hahha. A snail pace is better than none :)

Most normally we associate meditating with Eastern religions, praying to Buddha, chanting, monks, hippies, tree- huggers, etc... but waiiiiit, it's awesome for everyone!!!!   In the West, we're taught to "do stuff" and then feel good, whereas in the East it's more about just being- and feeling good about it.  There's a validity in both I think-  always a balance needed. There's certainly always room for improvement and growth and learning, BUT, the big but here.. that doesn't mean we can't except who we are, where we are, what we feel, how we react, what we like to do, what we say,  what we think!  Imagine if there was no falsity in our world? No one ever acted or "put on a hat" in order to impress, gain something, seem more intelligent, seem more cultured, seem happier, seem wealthier, seem confident, seem anything--other than what they actually are!!  For instance, I've given myself grief for a long time about the fact that I seek out attention. Well- seriously.. is that a problem? I like to be the center of attention- fine, so what? Is it hurting anyone? Nope (at least I don't think... please do tell me if so!!!)  hmmm, okay then, I admit it...  I love attention!!  Wheewww I feel better already :)   I talked w/ my mom today and she just doesn't like fashion, never has. She's fought herself for years about trying to get herself to dress cuter, more stylish... but nope, she's just a green sweater and jeans type gal... and will always be, and that's just fine.  .. and she just looks so darn cute in it so that works out ;)   

Your first thought is probably okay, that'd be nice, but we don't need to sit and be quiet and be uncomfortable with our eyes closed to try and get there. {Side note:  Ever noticed that many people are uncomfortable with their eyes closed?  Are you?  because someone might be watching you??  Judging you? I notice many people also have trouble looking you in the eyes as well.  Can't close em, can't open em!?. End side note!}  Well no, but it's certainly a great tool.  It really does help you get to this place where the real true you is..underneath all the society/ peer pressure/ trying to fit in stuff. Annndd...meditation comes in a zillion forms and you can do it while basically doing anything. Or, I say, just be open-minded (best thing eveeeeer) and try the original sit/silence/just be way :)   Meditation is no action, no thought, no emotion.  There is nowhere to go, nothing to do and no one to be :)  

So, if you get what I get from all that, it's about just accepting yourself and loving yourself and being yourself that you were born as.  Our western society places lots of criteria on what is considered to be normal and correct:  Wear fashionable clothes, eat to be thin, exercise to be sexy, impress people with your # of degrees and size of your wallet. I don't know about you but it just doesn't seem like that can be the path for a few billion people, so why are people that do it differently, uniquely their own way, looked upon as strange?  Why not:  wear comfy clothes, eat and exercise to be healthy and feel good, follow your heart to happiness, impress people with your courage and generosity? I touched on this before in my weirdo blog, how I quite enjoy non-conformists. Funny how it applies so much here, not knowing this Ashram was in store for me.  It's more than just outwardly appearances and actions though. It's accepting your brainwaves too. I'm certainly a very happy person, but a pretty self-critical one.  Isn't that contradictory??  I've followed the prescribed path to a happy life, nearly to a T, and to anyone looking in, it was a dang near perfect life I had in Miami.  But I'm fighting with my emotions a lot.  One morning last week I had the flood gates open right as everyone was gathering, and I ballllled my eyes out, hyperventilation style!  It was a happy-ish cry, so I kept saying, no no, im fine, trying even to convince myself... but who was I kidding? haha. Everyone here understood.  It happens a lot they say :)  One of the residents, Yatri, came and bear-hugged me, sat and talked to me about just having my emotions. Don't fight them, they are part of me and it's good, my heart is sensitive.  Well shit... I like looking at it that way :)

Anywayssss. Okay I ramble, I know. Got to cut off somewhere :).   I think the peace I'm looking for is to discover what internally really bothers me and needs to change, versus what is just part of me and should be accepted -- so I can be at peace and not always having that internal fight over what just comes so very natural.  I've spent most of my life doing, and now, this past week, I'm certainly just being, enjoying having a thought and acting on it. Enjoying feeling like doing something and doing it.  Or not wanting to do something and saying no... I'd rather read :).  This is the seed I mentioned earlier.  I want to keep this going even when I return to normal society.  It's easy here, the test is out there ;)  

Lastly, obviously Im here living a dream that may not be possible for you at this moment.   I feel like there is ssooooo much I can gain from this place, and I looooove to share and feel this is something reallly valid.  I knows it's very "Eat, Love, Pray"ish... but seriously,  I highly recommend trying it out! Get a tape, read a book, take a class... or better yet, take a vacation like this if you've got some time.   In fact, come to this Ashram!   I'd say at least half the people here intended to come for a week or two... and are now going on 6 months, a year, two years.. It's life changing!!! ;)

If not, that's okay, hope you liked the story and got the moral anyways :)  Be nice, be joyful, be yourself!  Authenticity is the new cool!!! If you get angry or frustrated or someone insults you- feel it and watch it, and choose how to respond rather than a knee-jerk reaction. Dance around in public or wear two different shoes or close your eyes, feel the sun on your face and smile today -and don't mind what anyone else thinks :) 


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Action packed or lazy days?

My Australia plan is to go all the way up the East Coast.  Started in Melbourne as you know, and now I've purchased a Greyhound bus pass from Sydney to Cairns.  If I did it straight, it's a 42 hour bus ride----seriously ouch!  It's a hop-on/hop-off pass though, so I can stop as many times as I want as long as I continue north.  Whew :)  Im pretty much thinking to get off at every stop just to avoid any more crazy long rides!

After Sydney, my first stop was to Port Macquerie for two days, and now I'm in Byron Bay for my second day.   Have you people heard of Couchsurfers?  It's an awesome website where people offer up their couches for travelers to sleep on for free :)  Pretty great actually. A lot of the times it is people who have traveled a lot themselves, and know how great it is when someone takes you in/shows you around/ saves you money. Such a great way to meet locals!  I've had two unique experiences so far.   Mike, who I had adventures with allllll day both days- exhausting, and Marejada, where we've been much more relaxed with a few adventures, mostly just hanging around listening to music and chatting.  Knowing me, where do you think I enjoyed myself most??  ... nope! Surprise!!

Mike-- who picked me up in Port Macquerie at my 2am bus arrival, used to be a tour guide and was more than happy to tour me around all day! We had a ton of great experiences!  We went 4 wheeling in the mountains, body surfing in river rapids, hiked to a waterfall, went to a Koala hospital, hopped around all the beaches, then a lake, more 4 wheeling, and to all sorts of great lookouts over the course of 2 days!
Wilson's Reserve waterfall!!!

Hastings River rapids!

I got to drive and I rode on the top for a while!! Exciting!!

Awesome beaches here in Port Macquerie

Love this plank on the plank :) 

Mike is also a photographer, and I happen to love to get my pic taken.. so that was cooollllll (see all the pics). We did have lots of fun... there was just one issue in that he is probably the most openly woman/body concious man I've ever met!!!!  Im sure all you boys are that way internally... but he wasn't hiding it! He had something to note about every female we passed! We had to set some boundaries, and he (relatively) complied, so we were still able to have fun.  He's harmless- but still.  It's a hard topic because, well, he WAS a nice guy, and I did have fun, but there was just a bit of an uncomfortable aura around.  I'm always running around in my swimsuit- yes, but I don't think that's an invitation to keep testing the limits.  Lesson learned I think though.. We had many talks about what's appropriate between "friends", but I need to really back off what I'm internally comfy with (being in swimsuit, being super cheerful even when talking serious) in order to really set the tone that would be more appropriate and comfortable.

Fast forward two days, and Im staying w/ Marejada in Byron Bay.  She's awesome. We just really clicked from the beginning and have had lots of fun just being around each other.  The first day we both took naps when I arrived (mine in the hammock!), then we sat around chatting. Come to find out we like the same music and food, feel the same about emotions, enjoying life, people being overmedicated... and have the same taste in boys. ;)   We both enjoy the simple pleasures. We drove out to a farm and got fresh-from-the cow milk-- DELISH! She says its illegal in the US, which is such a bummer cuz it's fantastic!!!  We came back and sat with her neighbors and ate cookies in fresh milk and just talked.  At one point I had my standard thought, "I should be doing something", but it was very fleeting as I reminded myself I was doing something. Bonding and experiencing Aussies!!!  Im very pleased about that :)  

Milk, straight from the cow...

... into the giant vat...

...into my belly!!! mm mm good!
Today we got up and were just gibber gabbering away :)  We made smoothies and rode our bikes to the Farmers Market. Byron Bay has such a good vibe... it's so natural, organic, spiritual... a bit hippy yet still beachy.  Quite a wonderful place!   After that we went to a local quarry I'd heard about, which happens to be near her place, and went--- cliff jumping!!! I got in my adrenaline rush for the day!!!! yaaaayyy!  Mare took a video...but i can't seem to load it to FB or YouTube... any suggestions??!!  (see the other pics here!) We went back to her place to make salads from our morning's purchase.  A friend of hers, Renee, stopped by with her two adorable baby girls,  ages 1 and 2 :) Again just another really wonderful time chatting :)

Yummmy organic tomatoes!!

The quarry-- beautiful lilies :) 

Yessss cliff jumping! Approx 16m (52')

How cute is she in her frilly pants??!! :) 

Aaaaadorable! Her name is Majara, and her sister Luana :) 

I then rode my (her neighbor's) bike into town, with intentions to go up to the lighthouse.   I didn't have a lock for the bike though, and quickly realized the bike trail ends (lots of stairs).  I could have gone up the road, but the scenic trail follows the coast and I couldn't miss that, so I just carried my bike!  Yesss arm workout!!!! I climbed the rocks and stood on the Eastern most point of Mainland Australia!!! Yayyy!  From the lighthouse, I rode the bike down the road, which in itself was just wonderful as I probably only pedaled 3 full times :)  Great breeze, great glimpses to the water... smile on my face the whole way down!  It's the simple pleasures :)   A random woman stopped me as I was looking at my map later to tell me I was beautiful, the second one today (Renee also said so!)! Wow! I reallllly like this place :)  Nothing like a couple ego boosts in the same day!  Back to Mare's... I made dinner and we listened to more music-- NZ music is awesome by the way! Check out Che-fu! and here are her friends-- up and coming!   Now, it's blog and relax time :)  aahhhhh.. love allowing myself to sit still :)

Bryon Bay, near most Easterly Point in Australia

Love Lighthouses :) 

So, we all know this, but it's good to re-recognize things sometimes:

Isn't it true? A good time can be had in anything with someone you enjoy being around.   Things you love doing may not be as fun when you're not completely comfortable with someone. I remember hearing that you are a combination of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Hopefully this is your closet friends and people you love, but if it's really about the most time, if could probably be coworkers or unhealthy relationships. Boooo

So now, I'm off to work in the bush! It's at a remote sanctuary where they not only have no wifi or cell, but not even electricity!!!!  Im pretty excited really... each day they also have a vipassana meditation (no talking) so it'll be a quiet, calm experience with early evenings by candlelight.  Im going for 5 days, so you won't hear from me.  Until then, hope you all are enjoying life w/ people who you love to be around and make you better!!! 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

ByeBye 2011, Helllloooo 2012 ;)

Happpyyyy New Year!!! Woohooo 2012! What oh what do you have in store??? For me? for you? Who knows but Im pretty stoked to watch/be/see how it unfolds! Hope you are toooo :)

Let's talk the finale of 2011- New Years Eve! That night and the 3 days before I spent at PK’s house, a guy I found thru gumtree (aussie’s version of Craigslist).  All the hostels were totally booked for NYE, so I posted an add for accommodations.  From amung the ZILLION replies (all male...hmmmm),  he had the best resources to prove his non-creepiness, AND happened to also have a sweeeeet hookup in that he had Opera House Lawn tickets... as in, yes, the Sydney Opera House Lawn.  WHOOOOAAAAA, AWESOME!!!!!!!  The fireworks were OUTSTANDING... I hear the most expensive show in the world, and you could tell!  Quite an electric display, and with such a view from the Opera, and over a million people -- it was a night not to be forgotten!


Best view in Sydney!!!! That's the bridge all aglow!
If I had been in Miami (which would have been just as greatttt..miss you people), it would have been a fun party in a short little dress, full makeup, high heels,etc.  Here though, I haven’t got much for a wardrobe and only two pairs of sensible shoes... not so stylish!    I started the day with a walk thru Newtown and a visit to Cockatoo Island (where I had to sneak in cuz it was ticket entry only!!).  I also passed thru the Glebe markets, known to be slightly eclectic- yay! Welllllll,  this was a fantastic stop because as I was visiting one booth,  I picked up a colorful, thin blanket, and the guy says $1.  What?! Decision Made! No question! I have a new outfit... it will be a hippy NYE!!!!   I gladly handed over my one dollar!!!

6 of us met for dinner (yummy vietnamese) and we met the 7th on site.  Clad in my new dress (blanket;) and no shoes, we walked a million km getting there, as well as all over the grounds cuz you know I cant sit still for long :).  I proudly walked barefoot in my $1 blanket dress!!  It was pretty awesome actually, I felt nice and liberated, and honestly painless! There’s something to this hippy thing... you wont be hearing the last of me being shoeless :)

PK, Annika, Janine, me, Steph, Bree, and Mark- Happy NYE!

Nice view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, eh??!

I guess I should backtrack....I’ve spent the last six days here in central Sydney. 4 at PK’s and 2 at the YHA hostel in the Rocks.  Let me just note that hostel is crazy amazing.. like a 5 star hotel!!!  (thx for reference Paola!)  There’s been mucho mucho touring of the city, including the icons of course: Opera house, the Rocks, Darling Harbour, Waverly Cemetary (pretty amazing for what it is.. see pics!), China town, the botanical gardens (lllllovvveee these again- AUS has got this down pat!!). One morning I ran across the Sydney Harbour bridge and spent 2 hours exploring a really nice residential neighborhood called Kirribilli.  I am so very well suited to being a residential architect... I do prefer this to the inner city buildings (although still appreciate those too!).  Moreso though, where I find my most spirit is in the landscapes (no surprise there).  One day PK, a German girl named Annika (met her at my hostel) and I went out to the Blue Mountains. We did a 6k trail out there and I LOVED it!  Another Day I did a scenic trail run from Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach, and a similar one another day from Manly beach to the Spit Bridge.  These runs/walks were fantastic!!!! They are a fabulous combination of craggy layered cliffs, ocean views, rocky shores, beautiful beaches, even some rainforest-like landscape thrown in!  IMHO, these are so much nicer than just a beach.... a little bit of everything for a KO combo!  I see why so many people live here :) 

The icons: Sydney Harbor Bridge and the Opera House

Blue Mountains!

Waterfallssss! w/ Annika

Perched out on one of the "Three sisters" !!!!

PK, Annika and I, w/ the 3 sisters in the background

Waverly Cemetary- pretty stinkin' amazing really

Manly view back to the city 

Cool view from the Manly-spit walk

Bondi to Coogee view


One of my fav things I did was slightly dangerous!!! (Jule, don’t read!)  PK dropped me off at Coogee beach (sweet name ;) and I was going to do part of the scenic trail back to Gordon’s Bay.  I had seen a sign the first time I ran it, for an Underwater Nature Trail! How cool! You follow this underwater chain around and are supposed to see lots of fish and things.  It was pretty rough and choppy when I went so I didn’t see much, BUT, it was still cool and worth it for how I got there!  From Coogee, I was down by the corner of the beach where the cliffs and rock edge starts. There’s a sign to not pass but I could see that it looked do-able..and awesome!  So I spent the next hour+ walking/climbing/jumping my way around the bend from Coogee to Gordon Bay on the rocks at the bottom of the cliff with the waves crashing in!   A few areas were quite precarious and I had to rush across and beat the waves... whewwww I love adrenaline rushes!  When I got around close to the bay, I dude named Steward was sunbaking, a bit surprised to see me!  He showed me a “secret” local trail up the cliff face which was soooo cool.   Yayyyy for self made adventure and local tricks! :)  (promise I would have turned around if it was too dangerous Mom!!!)

Super excited Becky- about to follow those rocks around!

One of the spooky parts... I waited a bit for a crazier wave I'd seen
first but figured I better go on while it wasn't so bad ;)

How cool are these cliffs???

The sidewalk to the Underwater Trail!!

Before all that, my first day to Sydney I went straight to Bondi Beach, it was Christmas Eve. I played pick up beach volleyball for like three hours which was awesome.  I stayed at Radley’s (Dragon Boat hookup!) apt right off the beach. We/I bike toured around and I called it an early evening. Possibly subconsciously in preparation for the next day....

Christmas on Bondi Beach!!  I’d heard this was a great backpackers holiday destination... and for sure it was memorable.  Admittedly, I got decently pissed (the aussie way to say drunk!) hahah.  Not purposely, as I’ve been barely drinking here, but I had signed up for an all day hostel event.... which included a yummy pancake breakfast (aussie pancakes are the BEST!) a Christmas Lunch event, and surprise, FREE “goon” all day (box wine!).  I have a hard time refusing free stuff ;).   I met and hung out with Sharni and Chris from the UK all day. We wore our swimsuits and santa hats and spent the day on the beach. We ate ice cream, splashed around, hit the bar, ate yummy fish and chips, and had some pretty funky fun singing and arm wrestling with the homeless;).  

Hostel Holiday!

Not you ordinary day on the beach  (can't believe I dont have a
better pic... blame it on the alcohol.)

Merry Christmas from Bondi!

Around ten we got back to the hostel where the party was starting. My mind just went, “...nope”  haha! It was great actually.  I said my goodbyes ten minutes later and went home! Yay for me!  Again, it was quite freeing to arrive and just say, I don’t feel like partying, Im going home!  I really don’t have intentions to drink much on this trip. For yeeeearrrrs Ive been feeling like Im outgrowing being drunk.  Alcohol:  Not good for your health, your wallet, or you waist... but it’s def good for new friendsssss :)  

Since meeting new friends is like the numero uno thing when traveling solo, it’d be easy to just drink all day, which I think most hostel-ers are doing. But that’s just not appealing- at all.  Contrary to what those of you who have partied with me may think, (seeing that I certainly enjoy a good drunken evening) I do prefer natural highs and natural fun!  Its been three weeks since I’ve arrived and I already can tell I prefer to stay with locals, get to know the people and places that way rather than just bonding with other tourists or drinking to make pals.

So, that was Sydney, a nice cap to my 2011, a pretty kick ass year.  I gave much thanks today for all I have... which is a lot!  Im a very lucky person, and I just can’t give enough gratitude for everyone in my life... LOVE you people! 

It’s still New Years Day (Im on the greyhound currently- 6 hr drive.. ugg!) I went for a run in the botanical gardens this morning after  Yum Cha chinese breakfast (please try mango pancakes!!!) w/ the NYE crew.  There’s a “wishing” tree there, where it is said if you walk around 3x forward, and 3x backwards you get a wish.  I specifically went there today to do this, and made an incredibly looooooonnnngg wish, which in essence boiled down to enjoying and learning from everything and everyone, good or bad, and appreciating/giving thanks for it all with gusto.  My resolution is to give thanks everyday... for at least one thing.  That shouldn’t be a problem :) 

This new year of 2012 is certainly going to be competing for the title of most exciting year.  It will def try to be, but I don’t think it will be the best year though, because I’m so far from you wonderful family and friends, but it’s something very exciting, a necessary change and pretty holy-whoa awesome :)

How I got where I am right this very moment :)

My wish for your new year is for you to have lots of Hope, lots of gratitude, and to give and receive lots of love (for yourself and for people and things that make you smile). Lots of peace and happiness, lots of epiphanies, clarities, eye opening experiences, lots of bear hugs, smiling, laughing and moments without description.... generally just lots of wonderful things (....and for maybe you to come visit me somewhere ;) 

Full photo albums here! Day 13-21!