Oh yeah, look who’s bringing back the monthly recaps!
I have to say, I kinda missed the ol’ Down Under Report from my first two years in Australia. I’m not sure if any of you feel the same, but I’m thinking this is a good way for me to reconnect with this blog and with you this year (remember, I admitted in this post that I felt much disconnect in 2017).
Not sure if I’ll recap each month individually, or group a few of ‘em together to review like I’m doing here, but we shall see!
January & February 2018 Summed Up
Honestly, the new year has not started out as well as I would have hoped. I spent NYE stuck inside all day and night, barely able to walk due to a sprained ankle, missing out on celebrating with my friends and seeing the legendary Sydney New Years fireworks. To add insult to injury (literally), my flatmate had a few people from home (Poland) visiting and the 4 of them cooked up a feast and cheers’d to the new year not more than a few feet away from me as I lay couch-ridden with a purple ankle. And get this: they didn’t say a word to me, didn’t even offer me a bite or drink. I swear I’ve never felt so invisible in my life.
It was the culmination of a very stressful 3 weeks of having 2 guests stay with us in our teeny-tiny apartment over the holidays and me teetering dangerously close to having a breakdown. I admit, I should not have agreed to let them stay – 2 extra people here is just too much. But I didn’t know they’d be here for that long, or that they would be around and cooking all the damn time. I mean, isn’t that something you should clear with your flatmate? Isn’t the unwritten rule, if you’re a visitor, to impose as little as possible and only use the apartment to crash at night? These people basically moved in for 3 weeks. It still blows my mind that they thought this was all socially acceptable. Cultural nuances, eh?
Miraculously this healed in under a week!
I have a tendency to avoid confrontation whenever possible, and when it’s not – I’m usually quick to capitulate just to restore peace as quickly as possible. I just do not handle tension or conflict well at all, and because I avoid it… I sometimes end up bottling up my feelings and then exploding a little bit. I realize this is no bueno, so I’ve been trying to stand up for myself more and fight for what I believe is right and fair. A moment of discomfort is surely better than weeks or months of festering feels, amiright?
So, long story short, I tried to make good on my 2018 intentions (see item #4 “ask for what you want”) and asserted myself a few times over the course of the month re: the guest situation as well as the rent situation (i.e. why are we paying the same in rent when my room is half the size of yours and you have the parking space?). And while the flatmate was totally understanding and cool when I brought these things up, he dropped a bomb the morning we were due to sign a new lease here and said he would be moving out due to recent “bad vibes”.
Needless to say, I spent most of January in a perpetually anxious state. I slept poorly, I stressed constantly, my appetite was an absolute joke (I’m a stress non-eater, apparently). February brought about some more stress when I had to worry about settling things with the old flatmate, finding a new flatmate, and replacing our major appliances – all a huge hassle, but even moreso when I’m having to deal with them right around the time my sister was coming to visit me from the US.
But looking back, I actually appreciate the timing of everything. Jamie and I had the whole apartment to ourselves for two weeks, and having her here was the best distraction from all of the nonsense that was going on. I still can’t believe she actually flew across the world from Connecticut to hang with me in Sydney!
We yoga’d all over the place!
Jamie and I are nearly 7 years apart in age, so we weren’t that close when we were growing up. Both of us, I’d say, are completely different (ahem, *better*) people now than we were when we lived under the same roof. It’s been such a joy getting to know the new her in recent years, and I’m so grateful that we had these two weeks together. It’s pretty standard for me to want to run for the hills at some point when I’m spending extended time around other people, but not once did I feel like I needed a break from our sister time. Both of us are pretty good about taking time for ourselves when we need it, so that when we’re around each other we’re at our best and not feeling too drained.
We did almost none of the touristy things during her visit – in fact, it felt like I was living my normal daily life with her by my side (i.e. cafe hopping and beached whale-ing errday). Her one request was to spend some time in the Blue Mountains, which kinda meant I needed to (wo)man up and get comfortable driving in this country. Very happy to say I checked another item off my 2018 Goals list and drove us both to and from the Blue Mountains, even managing to navigate city traffic with relative ease. Driving on the left side of the road was much easier than my mind had built it up to be. Now, if I could just stop turning on the windshield wipers when I mean to hit the blinker!
What else have I been up to? Welllllll…
In January, I left my old yoga and pilates studio and followed my favorite pilates instructor over to the newly-opened The Well in Bondi and I’M IN LOVEEEEEEE. It has fast become my home away from home, doubling as an office and a gym. I love my new routine of morning pilates, followed by a few hours of work in the cafe downstairs (which is beautiful, serves delicious wholesome food, and is peppered with outlets near every table aka a freelancer’s dream).
I snagged a great deal when I joined that also includes personal training, yoga, several different fitness classes, and use of a sauna. Basically, it’s a first class wellness center and I’m into it. I absolutely adore the community there: everyone is so friendly and health-conscious!
Crescent Head, NSW.
Oh yeah, and I turned 33 last month. I filled the day with my favorite things and people, which to be honest is not all that different from a typical day in my life… so I guess I’m doing a few things right!
And then at the end of February, I attended IMM for the second year in a row (aka the one day a year where I dress up in business casual attire) and went through *20* “speed dating” sessions with various tourism boards and travel industry PR folk. Last year I only wound up with a few of these appointments, so I honestly wasn’t expecting to have my schedule completely full this year – this introvert was all but begging for mercy by the end of the day!
I’m really proud of myself for getting through it and talking up this blog (again and again and again). I made a few really great connections at the event which I’m hoping will lead to some exciting projects this year.
Yoga at Leura Cascades.
Adventures & Travels
Whenever friends with cars want to go adventuring, I’m quick to steer them towards places that can’t easily be reached by public transport. One such spot is Dharawal National Park, home to Minerva Pool and Jingga Pool: two picturesque swimming holes in the bush.
We spent a few hours lounging at and in Minerva Pool, and once the other visitors cleared out we took out my friend’s drone to play a little. I acted as model and swam out to this big rock in the middle of the pool… and then the drone got stuck in some tree branches! We had a hell of a laugh trying to get it to fall out by throwing sticks and eventually our hiking boots at it, all to no avail. The next day he returned to the pool and was able to coax the drone out with a little assistance, thankfully! Still waiting on those drone shots though. We never made it to Jingga Pool due to the mishap, so I’ll need to return here someday for sure.
Still not entirely clear on WTF SUP-ball is…
SUP 2x in Manly
I made it out to Manly twice to stand-up paddleboard: once for Brooke‘s birthday gathering where we assembled to play SUP-ball, and again for Anna’s belated birthday outing. Both days left me thinking damn, I love this city and these people and being salty and sun kissed and UGH IS THIS MY LIFE! All the hand-hearts, y’all.
I’m basically a professional third/fifth wheel by now, but it’s cool! :P
Road Trip to Crescent Head for Australia Day
We road tripped up to the Central Coast for Australia Day weekend and camped at Crescent Head, a popular surf spot about 5 hours north of Sydney. I was perfectly happy just laying on the beach all day, every day, no surfing required (shocker, I know!). The water up the coast is tangibly warmer than it is around Sydney, to the point where I actually found myself lingering in the water rather than quickly jumping in and out just to cool off.
Also, can I say how nice it was to actually hang around our campsite? These days when I camp, we typically just crash at the site for a night and spend most of the time hiking or exploring. This was definitely more of a relaxing trip. I even got to lounge in my hammock, what a luxury!
My adventure babes and I had a little midweek camping trip on Cockatoo Island, a small island in Sydney Harbour that used to house convicts but is now open to visitors and campers. We watched both sunset and sunrise and did a little self-tour of the island at night to peep at the old jail cells and the glamping tents, and take in the excellent views from atop the hill.
Blue Mountains x 2
I’ve made it out to the Blue Mountains twice so far this year! Both times were all about chasing waterfalls and attempting to avoid the crowds. I finally caught sunrise at Govetts Leap, watched sunset from a cave at Lincolns Rock, did some yoga at Leura Cascades, hiked down to Empress Falls (oh my gosh, such an oasis!), and marvelled at the popular Wentworth Falls (oh so mighty, but oh so touristy).
Top 3 Instagram Posts
Here are the posts I wrote in January and February:
I’m endeavoring to complete at least half of the 2018 PopSugar reading challenge, so I figure this section will hold me accountable. If you have any suggestions for good books to read, please throw ’em in the comments below! :)
I Am Watching You – Teresa Driscoll
A bit Girl On The Train-esque, and I liked it.
The Redbreast – Jo Nesbo
I’m rapidly running out of Harry Hole novels to devour, but recently discovered that I’d missed this one in the series. Dear Jo Nesbo, can you please pump out some more of these?
The 5 People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
Not my usual murder mystery, but I enjoyed this easy read and its quips about life.
A Different Blue – Amy Harmon
A story about a teacher-student relationship, but not of the illegal and pervy sort.