Going Home

I said in my last blog that I would need to write something about going home. Home being that place I grew up and not somewhere that I had considered home for a very long time. Well, here it is!

I have a journal that I have been writing in (old school with a pen and everything) about my travels, just random thoughts, things I’ve been feeling and stuff I’ve been dealing with. Ya know pretty standard journal type topics. Before I went back to Canada I wrote about how nervous I was to go back to my hometown. I love my family but I had never really felt like it was somewhere that I belonged. Being the black sheep the only one who left, traveled, moved around and found a home on the other side of the world in New Zealand it was hard thinking about going back.

 

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Wanaka

Now Wanaka, New Zealand is somewhere that feels like home. I have a few close friends I would move the world for if need be and a job that I love, a small town in the mountains with a bunch of very like minded people it’s easy to fit in. Most of the people there are from all over the world, ventured away from their families and fell in love with that incredible place we are so lucky to call home.  With similar stories to mine, I came for a few months or a year and that was 10 years ago. There is no way Tweed is going to compare to this paradise.

 

Sweating on the plane thinking about getting off and having to spend the next two weeks with people I wasn’t sure would understand me in a place that was strange to me.  Which is kinda funny cause I’d just spent the last month traveling alone meeting strangers in foreign countries but the thought of where I grew up is what made me nervous. Making my way through customs I was welcomed home, which felt weird, I smiled and thought this is not home but thanks. After ages waiting for my luggage, thinking the whole time is this the flight I lose my bags on? (I had this thought pretty much every flight)  Finally, I made my way toward the exit and before I got there the automatic doors opening and closing with every person I could see my sister in law and my niece. I didn’t even make it down the ramp before I was met with hugs and tears that flooded my eyes I had no idea I was going to be that emotional and just for the record I’m not an emotional person by any means. 10 YEARS! How did that time go by fast? Standing there hugging my niece, that was six the last time I saw her now she towers over me and I might add has a license to drive a car, WTF. The journey wasn’t quite over yet as we still had a 2-hour drive to get to Tweed. Arriving at 10:30pm I didn’t think I would see the rest of my family until the next day but I was wrong. Pretty much everyone of my immediate family members came to see me! It was overwhelming that they put that effort in. Family breakdown, Grandma(96 and totally killing it), Mom, Dad, 2 brothers with wives, 1 sister, 3 nieces and 2 nephews.  At this stage, I didn’t feel that emotional just glad to be there looking forward to spending some time with the kids that had clearly grown into their own individual little people. The next couple weeks involved a lot of hockey, catching up with friends and extended family, big dinners and breakfasts. I really enjoyed being a part of this functioning family unit. It was amazing to see how they had grown, evolved and how close they all are.

The last 24 hours I was at home were probably the best and the worst. As with most good stories it starts with so I met this guy! Yes it was on Tinder and we’d spent a week trying to meet, I would never put this much effort into meeting someone but there was just something abut this one I didn’t want to give up. Finally Saturday night the day before I left, I kidnapped him. I drove 45mins to collect him and forced him to come have dinner with my family! Who does that? The poor guy being thrown into the deep end with a school of sharks. At least we had the 45min drive back to get to know each a bit more. I think he did very well, it wasn’t the adults (I use this term loosely) that he needed to be concerned with it was the kids with their brutal honesty. Having a few drinks with my family just chatting I felt so comfortable and happy like I really belonged. Now not only did he have to endure dinner but breakfast and me saying goodbye to a bunch of my family. I’m not a crier but saying goodbye to Haelie (the youngest at 10) pretty much ripped my heart out of my chest. There are not many people who would do this, but I loved having him there for support and felt very connected to him. How does this happen it’s been a day really!

This is when I felt it, I didn’t want to go! These people who just a couple weeks before I thought didn’t/ wouldn’t understand me, did! They totally excepted me, loved me, wanted me there and made me feel so welcomed like I had never felt before. The drive to the airport was umm….. a bit stressful, we were running late and part of me was like if I miss my plane I’m ok with that. No luck though after showing up 5 minutes after check-in they still let me on. Standing outside the security gate saying goodbye to my sister in law and 2 nieces was so hard. I didn’t want to go and am tearing up now just thinking about it.  We had talked about me coming home for Christmas in a couple months and all I could think was , how can I make that happen? I cried my whole flight to Montreal, most of the flight to Paris. By the time I got to Granada, Spain I had already decided it needed to happen. So I whipped out my credit card and book flights.

The one question I kept being asked the whole time I was in Tweed and always had the same answer for was “Do you ever think you’ll move back home?”. Of course the answer was no I have a whole life on the other side of the world. My dog, friends, my job that I really love and a community I felt I had a place in. The more I was asked this question the more I started to think about all of the shit that I had been through in the last few months in Wanaka before I left. I’d never let it drag me down but man it was tough to be there sometimes. Wait what was I thinking?  Maybe Wanaka has given me everything it can? The one big thing that keeps crossing my mind is these people, they love the shit out of me and me them, unconditionally I’d missed the last 10years of that. Throw a new love interest in the mix and WTF was I thinking?! Now don’t get me wrong I do NOT regret anything that I’ve done in my life, no point all the good and the bad made me the person I am today and I can honestly say I like the person I am! It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve picked up my life and moved across the world or stayed on a whim.

This is my adventure, traveling with no agenda, making it up as I go. Yeah sure the second trip to Canada doesn’t exactly fit into the budget but it’s important to me to be there and spend more time with these amazing people. I fully believe that you make time and prioritize the things that mean something to you. Whatever your goal is! Anything is possible if you want it bad enough and are willing to work for it or in this case pay for it.  I didn’t know what was going to happened when I first got off that plane but there was no way I was prepared to feel so accepted and loved. I don’t know what the future holds and in the name of mindfulness I’m not going to decide right now but spending more time in  Canada at the chance of seeing those awesome people new and old is defiantly something I want to do. Life’s too short not to take a chance on love! What’s your adventure? What are you willing to do to make it happen?Version 2

It’s my Life!

 

 

I named this blog Inspiring Adventures because I wanted to help people see that anything is possible if you want it bad enough and are willing to do what it takes to get it. Failure is ok and when we fail we learn. I’ve never learned anything from doing things perfectly. So far all of my posts have been about some race that I’ve done because that’s where my focus has been for the last year. This one is completely different!

Traveling is something I’ve always seen myself doing. Even as a kid I never saw myself in one place but let’s be honest traveling can be intimidating. So many things to consider:  money —usually the biggest one for me— language barriers, cultural differences, safety, where, when and traveling alone vs with a friend or partner. I haven’t done any solo traveling before and have always relied on the safety net of a friend.

About 8 months ago a friend told me she was leaving New Zealand and moving to France with her french husband. They had a NZ wedding before they left and would also have a French wedding. With big changes to my life and with minimal strings holding me back I thought I would LOVE to travel to Europe. Having not really left NZ for the past 8 years I wanted this to be big. A party in France seemed like a great reason to finally make it happen. I settled on four and a half months from mid-September until the end of January. When I booked the flights and started making plans in May it felt like ages away but it is amazing how time flies.

Now, of course, there is no way that I can support myself for this length of time with no job or source of income and seeing I’m over 30 a work visa was off the table. I was turned onto a website called Workaway, which connects travelers with people who need help doing various jobs in exchange for room and board. I created an account and profile listing my skills and what I was looking to do over specific dates. After a few Skype interviews, for both sides to suss each other out and make sure that it will be a good fit. I found a couple of families in France and Italy, where I will mostly help teach the children english.

So I have a plan: arrive in Paris, Danielle will come meet me after a few days, head to the wedding, fly back to Canada to see my family (this will require a whole other blog), do the workaway thing, then one and half months of no plans.

So back to the Inspiring Adventures part, now that all sounded very simple didn’t it. Let’s talk reality! The physical side of leaving was all pretty easy, emotionally it was more of a challenge. I’m not a super touchy, feely emotional sort of person which is something I’m working on hence the blog. I made an effort to catch up with the people most important to me before I left, I know I’m only going for four months but I also only came to NZ for 6 months, and ended up staying.

My flights looked like this: Queenstown to Auckland 1:40 – 2-hour layover – Auckland to Hong Kong 9 hours – 4-hour layover – Hong Kong to Paris 11 Hours arriving at 7am. For the sake of making my life easy, I decided to take a taxi to my AirBnB accommodation in Joinville du Point. This is when it all hit me, I’m alone! Alone on the other side of the world in a non-english speaking country with no safety net. I had prepared myself for this feeling and the tired, jet lagged, irrational moment when all I wanted to do was curl up into a little ball and go home. No amount of logical thinking was going to persuade me otherwise. I questioned myself, what was I thinking? I don’t even like being alone at home why would I think this would be a good idea? Four months is such a long time why didn’t I just book a trip to some resort like a normal person? I talked to my friends in NZ, who said all the right things, get some sleep and eat some food, go for a walk, I knew all of these things would help but my brain was still freaking out.img_4971

I’ve felt this feeling before: when I first moved to Alberta, the first time I traveled overseas and those moments where I thought “I can’t do this” have turned into some of the best decisions of my life. Of course, day 2 was better I woke up, made a plan, got outside and went for a walk and at the end of the day I felt like a completely different person and ready to take on this path I’ve set into motion.

The past year has been the toughest of my life so far. It has also been one of the most rewarding. I have pushed myself to the edge physically and emotionally making me realise I can do anything I put my mind and heart to. I feel like I have failed so miserably, and I question myself every day have I made the right choices? Is this really what I want? I have been judged by people who I thought were my friends and believe me, I have really learned who my true friends are. The whole time I have been writing this blog I’ve been wondering what people will think about me and I’ve come to the conclusion I don’t care! This is me take it or leave it and I’m proud of myself for having the courage to put myself out there, take risks and fail. My new favourite quote: “I would rather live life on the brink of failure than on the comfort of assured success!”

So what is your adventure? What do you want out of life? Failure is not the scary part, it’s not trying at all!

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What do you have to lose?

In August 2014 I under went a fairly serious knee surgery. Having grown up with a dislocating patella, I was SO excited at the prospect of being able to do sports without worrying my knee caps were going to pop off! In preparation for surgery I amped up my strength training at the gym, hoping that by ramping up my training the rehab post surgery would be easier. Originally I was told 2 weeks in a brace and that I’d be back to work in 6 weeks……..That’s not exactly how it went!

IMG_0931 The surgery it’s self consisted of relocating a tendon from my hamstring and attaching it to my kneecap to stop that pesky dislocation. Surgery was the easy bit; rehab is when the real work started! Lucky to have an amazing physio, the first time I got to see my knee (10 days post surgery) I was amazed at how quickly my muscles had disappeared and how foreign my leg felt. Trying to get my brain to activate the muscles around my knee (staring at them intently doesn’t work as much as you’d think), bending my knee 2cm was a massive achievement; this was going to take a lot of patience! It was the little things I found the most difficult like not being able to put on my own socks and underwear, walking down stairs was the scariest thing ever, forget moving a cup of tea from the kitchen! Mid September I got to sit on a stationary bike and it took 3 separate attempts (over a week) to make a full pedal rotation, the relief when I finally got it all the way around was overwhelming. This also meant I got to get back to the gym………spending hours balancing on the mini tramp, single leg squats and my personal favorite calf raises (oh so many calf raises). I was pretty determined to do everything I could to get myself back to where I was. Although I knew I was progressing it wasn’t till I got back to Tribe Life in the New Year that I really started to feel like myself again. I remember how I felt walking into the first session, so stoked to not be working out alone, I’m sure a waddled out of that class thinking something different. It was at least 8 months after surgery when the dull ache started to disappear and just in time for ski season. With the last 2 winter seasons (the longest I’d ever been off snow) a write off I could not wait to get back out there!!

The opportunity to do Spring Challenge, a women’s only adventure race came up and at first I thought, I don’t really do this kind of thing. After some pondering I came to the conclusion what do I have to lose, a day wandering around Wanaka with some rad chicks hey why not. Training for this started in May when the days are getting shorter and colder, it’s easy at this point to say “oh I’ll wait till a nice day” or I’ll do it tomorrow”. Something I’ve learned about myself thru this process is once I’ve set my mind to something there is no stopping me. I’m pretty sure my mom called me stubborn I like to think of it more as determination! Training during winter was interesting, getting out of bed to go for a run when its freezing cold, I defiantly rode my bike more then I’d done in winter before, and of course strength training at the gym. Not to forget that I was enjoying being back on the slopes! I was putting in about 8-10 hours of training a week.

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The adventure race format keep us guessing up till the night before as to where it would take us. We knew we would be rafting, biking and run/navigating but the area is massive with multiple course options. I felt more at ease once we got the maps and having home court advantage was a plus. We started with a run from the shores of Lake Hawea 2km to the Hawea River, then a nice paddle down to Albertown where our bikes were waiting. At this point we had to start navigating and looking for controls, which for anyone who knows me knows I have the worst sense of direction!! So easy decision to not allow me anywhere near the maps! Being local to the area did make this a bit easier for us, and our 40km bike ride landed us in Luggate, and onto a trek thru some amazing high country stations your would never see otherwise. This was the most challenging part of the race with a few steep climbs and extra controls that required some compass work. We popped out at the base of Mt Barker with just one more bike ride to round off the day. My legs were not enjoying being back on the bike but once we got going they came right (like they had a choice). From Mt Barker back thru Albertown, quick lap into the Hikuwais to finish at Eely point.

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Just over a year after surgery I completed the 80km event on a stunning Wanaka day, with 2 good mates by my side, totally stoked with the hard work I’d put in. To think at one point I didn’t think I could do it at all! I fully believe that if you think you can’t do something you probably won’t, but I would rather try and fail then not try at all because what do you have to lose? After Spring Challenge I was left with this thought of I know I can do more, push myself a bit further, I had defiantly started something. The only question now was what’s next?