Winter solstice

Tonight’s the winter solstice, the shortest, and supposedly coldest, day of the year. From now on, the days will gradually get longer as we get closer and closer to the sun. It’s the latitudinal equivalent of hump day, and it’s also Wednesday.

Last year around this time I lived in a community on a yoga center in Byron Bay. On this very day, a year ago, I celebrated the winter solstice by watching the sunrise with two of my friends from the center. We woke up in the pitch dark, quietly shuffling around our room to find our warmest clothes. We used our cellphone lights to find our bikes and quietly pedaled out of the yoga center as the sound of gravel crackled loudly under our wheels. We locked our bikes together in town and walked along the rocky shore until we found a perfect spot to watch the sun come up. Sitting on a cold rock, we huddled together for warmth and watched as the sun illuminated the whole sky into a pale, faded pink. We sat in silent admiration, appreciating the stunning view and excitedly pointing out the occasional burst of misty water from a migrating whale in the far distance.

This winter solstice was spent sipping a glass of red wine atop a bar after our monthly marketing meeting. I watched the cotton ball clouds float by and felt nostalgic of my old Byron life. Things are a little bit different these days…

Not better, nor worse, just different. Life is always changing, I wonder where I’ll be next year…

Happy winter solstice to all those in the Southern Hemisphere 🙂

 

Mudgee

To celebrate my friend’s birthday, a couple of my girlfriends and I took off to a small town called Mudgee.

Since Monday was a public holiday we decided to make the most of the long weekend. My friend Sam suggested we visit Mudgee; a small country town in the middle of New South Wales, about a 3 hour drive from Sydney, with lots of tiny wineries.

We hit the road early, coffees in hand and music turned up. We listened to a 90’s playlist and snacked on caramel cookies and granola bars. The road to Mudgee is beautiful because you have to pass a windy road through the Blue Mountains. We drove around sharp corners through fog and trees, it was eerily quiet and incredibly peaceful. Once we arrived in Mudgee we decided to stop at our first Winery. We tasted a variety of different wines, ordered a glass of our favourites and gently clunked our glasses together, “cheers to the weekend!” 

We rented a house through a friend of a friend so we decided to drop our stuff off and scout the place out. After a few wrong turns, we eventually made our way to the end of a long dirt road. We turned up to what seemed like a large but very dilapidated property. Looking at each other wearily, we made our way through what felt like a construction site. Luckily the inside looked like a beautiful log cabin. It had individual rooms for all of us, two bathtubs and a cozy fireplace. It was exactly what we wanted. We all squealed in excitement, each of us darting off to snoop our home for the next two nights.

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While I sat by the fire place trying to get it started, the guy who owned the house turned up. His name was Adam, a 25 year old country boy who lived his whole life in Mudgee. He stood at the doorway, looking slightly intimidated, as we all filed out of his bedrooms and gathered in the living room to introduce ourselves. “Hi Adam, my name is Kim, I’m from Canada.” He smiled politely, “hi Kim, nice to meet you.” The rest of the girls shook his hand, telling him their name and where they were from. South Africa, California and Canada. He laughed in disbelief, “I’ve never even left Mudgee!” We all laughed, “well we’re bringing the world to you!” Claudia chirped back.

That night we went to a restaurant for dinner and more wine tasting. We met a wine merchant who explained the process of making wine. I swung the red wine in my glass as he spoke, looking closely at the “legs” that dribbled down the side, thinking to myself what a long procedure it went through to get into my glass. We had a few more tastes and then decided to order some dinner. A live band started while we ate so we finished quickly and made our way to the front of the restaurant to watch the band. We joined a little boy who danced wildly while his family laughed and cheered him on from their dinner table. He exuberantly basked in the attention, each dance move became more and more creative than the next. After a few songs, we decided it was time to head to the bar up the street and continue dancing. When we arrived the dance floor was empty but we didn’t care, we threw our purses on an empty chair and danced like crazy until the whole dance floor filled up with people. We returned home late and exhausted. Laying by the fire, we talked until our eyes became sleepy and we all filed off to bed.

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The following day, Adam picked us up bright and early. We rose, slightly hungover but excited for the day ahead. Lisa made us some pancakes and played the song “Banana pancakes” by Jack Johnson. We all sung along softly while we lazed about the house. On our way into town we stopped by a coffee shop then drove to our first winery. What I found most interesting were the people behind the wine. Wine to them was an art, it was their creative outlet. We met people from all over the world who had fallen in love with Mudgee. We met a large, outgoing South African woman with jet black, pixie cut hair. When she learned my friends were South African she excitedly darted over to us and began speaking Afrikaans. Oblivious to what they were saying, I stood there watching them as the spoke, completely mesmerised by their language. Eventually she switched to English and explained about how happy she was to live in Mudgee. “I have everything I want here, it’s quiet and peaceful and good for the soul.” I scanned out at the view, it was a large barren field with a few cows speckled in the distance. I wondered if I could live a life like this. It certainly did seem peaceful and quiet and good for the soul. Unlike like living in the city, it was simple and slow and uncomplicated. I can imagine how rewarding it must feel to make your own wine; to experience the hard work of farming and harvesting your grapes then having the luxury of sitting back and slowly sipping the fruits of your own labor. It made me think about my own life and how it compares. In some ways, I loathe the busy and time-pour lifestyle that a big city demands of you. But in other ways, I love the surge of energy and ideas and excitement that comes with that too. The demand to keep up with its pace keeps me on my toes, it keeps my brain active and stimulated.

After a day full of wine we ended up at the same bar for dinner. I felt like being creative so I grabbed some crayons and paper that was laying on the counter and brought it to our table. Without a word, everyone reached for a crayon and quietly began colouring like we were children again. I smiled watching the girls concentrate on their work. Adam’s friends walked by and noticed us all drawing and teasingly nudged his arm. Once we finished our meal, we sat back in our chairs and decided we’d head back home. We changed into our pijamas, sat in-front of the fire and got lost in discussion on life, love and travel.Screen Shot 2017-06-24 at 8.04.42 PM.png

Our final morning in Mudgee was spent at a cheese and wine restaurant. We sat on a patio outside in the sun and pulled down the umbrella to bask in the winter sunshine. It was incredibly warm and I finally had the chance to zip off my winter coat. I leaned back in my chair and closed my eyes as the warm sun absorbed into my skin. I sipped my unbelievably delicious cappuccino and felt so incredibly grateful for my life. Just when things couldn’t get any better, our cheese plater arrived and an acoustic guitar player began to play.

It was a perfect getaway from Sydney; just enough time to gain perspective on life and get some nature time. It was so nice to spend quality time with my amazing, independent and inspiring girlfriends. The whole trip just reminded me of the important things in life: loving friendships, delicious cheese, music and of course, wine!

I made a short little video of the trip here if you want to check it out:

Winter mornings

Its odd to experience winter in the middle of June. It will always be a month I cannot help but associate with warmth and summer.

Before leaving for work this morning I wrapped my scarf around my neck, slipped my mittens in my pocket and grabbed my umbrella.

I stood at the front door, peering out at the drizzly weather and dismissed the strong desire to return to my cozy bed.

While I walked up my street, umbrella in hand, I looked up at the tropical palm trees as they swayed in the wind. I stared at them for a moment and thought how weird it is to be wearing a winter jacket and hands covered in mittens, but with the backdrop of palm trees and beaches. I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to that.

It feels like the Christmas season is beginning, minus it actually being Christmas. I feel a strange urge to listen to Christmas music, or see the colorful Christmas lights all over the city and feel that cheerful spirit in the air. I watch the city from the high-rise building I work from and imagine seeing sheets of snow instead of rain. The thought of snow makes me feel playful and giddy. It reminds me of that time of year in Canada before the first real snowfall hits. We all wait and patiently for it, hoping it will make it in time for Christmas. When the snow finally does come, it feels like a winter wonderland, the snow blankets the city to silence. It’s incredibly serene and peaceful.

But its actually June, and Christmas, as well as snow, is a long way away.

So while my Canadian friends fill my Facebook newsfeed with photos of them smiling in the summer sun, or swimming in clear water lakes, I sip my eighth cup of tea and hug my hot water-bottle closely.

I have to admit though, I do love to see this side of Sydney. It’s the more introverted, moody side. I like the feeling of my warm coat squeezed around my waist and walking through the crisp air wearing my incredibly comfortable hiking boots. I like these cozy nights that bring people together; the warm soups, hot teas and guilt-free lazy days.


Words of Inspiration: June

Time feels like it slips by too quickly as we get older.

For some reason it seemed like life moved slower when I was a kid. It feels like the older I get, the faster it goes. Its as if its building momentum with each passing year. I don’t know how to slow this, I don’t want to blink and suddenly be 80 years old. I want to feel each passing year profoundly and intensely. I want to be the kind of adult who still has one foot firmly planted in childhood; who can still remember the joys of jumping in puddles and the awkwardness of being a teenager; who can gain the respect of the youth by really truly remembering the unique aches and pains that accompany certain ages. I hope to never inadvertently snip the cord that connects me to my childhood. I’m noticing now, more than ever, how easy to is to lose touch of this. Life bogs you down with all sorts of mundane responsibilities, its easy to drift and wind up in the boring land of a stereotypical adult.

May was a month of celebration. On May 14th, Elizabeth would have turned 30. While I find the idea of a “Birthday Month” a ridiculously narcissistic concept, I’m happy to do it for Elizabeth. It only inspires me to do more, to live life fully, and to be a better person. I still have no idea how to celebrate her birthday in a way that feels right. I decided to go on a walk to Bondi and imagined her with me. I wondered what kind of person she would have been had she still been alive today. I wonder how different life would have turned out. Maybe she would have had a baby by now… maybe I would have been an aunt.

To start off this month off right, I’m going to see the festival of Vivid with a group of my amazing friends. I remember seeing pictures of LED lights streaming across the Sydney Opera House when I lived in Ottawa. I remember those cold winter nights, laying in my bed, cozy under the covers, fantasizing about living in such a beautiful, fancy city. Now here I finally am, living the dream; drinking it all in.

Welcome to the table, June. I will make sure to enjoy every single day of you!


“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the Earth”

– Henry David Thoreau
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“There are souls that you feel to lean forward to, like a sun-filled window.”

– Federico GarcĂ­a Lorca

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“My heart swings back and forth between the need for routine and the urge to run.”

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“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Words of Inspiration: May

Happy first day of May!

In Canada (specifically in Ottawa) this is about the time of year when the snow has almost entirely melted. The weather remains slightly cool but the sun keeps getting warmer and warmer. Everyone is relieved to say goodbye to the miserable, bitter winter. It’s a time of year buzzing with hope as that sweet taste of early summer lingers teasingly in the air.

That first spring day when the weather is finally hot enough to wear a t-shirt is literally heaven on earth. Nothing feels as good as the midday sun soaking on skin that hasn’t seen the light in months. Every single person is out to enjoy it, the city is buzzing in activity. Skateboarders and bikers fill sidewalks and streets. Parks that were once covered in snow are now filled with sunbathers and picnic goers.

By the end of winter, my jacket felt like a part of my body. I felt like a snake slithering out of a layer of old skin. I’d sit outside on my backyard patio, exposing my pale, ghostly white skin and lay still as my body sponged up every ounce of Vitamin D it could manage.

But in Sydney, the weather has cooled. Winter is looming ahead. The wind at night has a prickly chill and the jackets are squeezed tightly at the waist. A new job is on the horizon for me, a new chapter has started. It feels like my body is still set to the Canadian rhythm. It anticipates the warmer weather, the sights of flowers blooming and barren trees filling in with green. Although my inner clock may not match my wintery surroundings, my body and mind are prepared for a flourishing new beginning!

Happy first day of May everyone! ♄


“Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.”

-Golda Meir
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“Sometimes we wish for perfection in our lives, but would we be happy with perfection? The imperfections in our lives give us meaning, build our very resolve, and strengthen us down to our very core.”

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“You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.”

-Friedrich Nietzsche

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“Use what talent you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best.”

-Henry Van Dyke

Free fall

I’m finally free falling with someone.

I can hear the ringing in my ears, the wind in my hair and his warm hazel eyes on me. It feels like a dream.

The last time I jumped was almost three years ago. The memories from that fall still haunt me. I remember how we stood at the ledge, talking about jumping. I remember looking at him and thinking that if I died loving him it’d be okay, it’d be worth it. I remember the feeling as my feet lifted off the ledge, my body was buzzing in exhilaration. But when I looked over my shoulder, expecting to see him falling with me, I realized he was still standing safely at the rim. My body turned cold as he looked at me with remorse, “sorry,” he strained, his words left his mouth in slow motion.“I’m not ready. Can we take this slower?”

My heart burst. I grabbed for anything to break my fall. But it was too late. At that speed, nothing could stop me.

When I finally crashed down the impact was so strong it felt like every bone in my body shattered.

But over time I put myself back together. Day by day, I learned to walk again. I told myself to be cautious. A year later, I met someone that brought me to that same ledge. While we stood together, I stared into the abyss with hesitation, remembering the pain from the last time I fell. He laughed giddily and coaxed me to jump, I mumbled quietly, ‘I don’t know… I’m scared.’ He looked back at me with an easy smile, as if he’d never fallen before. ‘C‘mon!” he shouted “Let’s go! Life is short!’ I stood back unconvinced, ‘I know’ I said, ‘I know…’

Just as he jumped he grabbed my hand and I pulled it back. I saw him lunge into mid-air and he looked back at me with the exact same look I once had. “I’m so sorry… I just can’t” I tell him.

I was so very sorry, I didn’t want to hurt him. I know how painful the crash is. But sometimes we are the blade and sometimes we are the wound. We need to feel both to understand the consequence of each. It matures us; it thickens our skin and softens out hearts. How can we know love without being destroyed by it?

Here I am, again, at the same crater rim. I’ve trekked through incredible heartbreak and unintentionally broken the heart of another. I stand with someone who has had his heart shattered too.

While we stand at the ledge, his eyes beam at me and they say, “are you ready?”

I’m ready, I’m ready to risk this for you. Before I know it, he grabs my hand and we’ve both leaned forward, together, falling.

Words of Inspiration: April

March was a great month. It was a complete whirlwind in the best, most unexpected way!

I had two trips away from Sydney; one camping up north and the other kayaking in Kangaroo Valley down south. Both trips reminded me how important (and critical) being in nature is to my mental health. Removing myself from the city gives me the clarity I need to manage and cope with life. As much as I love my life in Sydney, it can be exhausting to keep up with everything. Just like any big city, its easy to get lost in the noise of meaninglessness, there is always something new and exciting to divert your attention.

I also spent a great deal of time reading after a discussion I had with my colleague. During my research for this article, I consumed numerous articles on life, love and philosophy. It was the best little thought experiment I could have had, the whole experience was so insightful!

So – with that said, here are some quotes that stood out in my mind during my research. May these words make you feel charged and powerful for the month of April! ♄


Knowing that life is a marathon and not a sprint is important. Conserve your energy. Understand that each battle is only one of many and that you can use it to make the next one easier. More important, you must keep them all in real perspective. Passing one obstacle simply says you’re worthy of more. The world seems to keep throwing them at you once it knows you can take it. Which is good, because we get better with every attempt. Never rattled. Never frantic. Always hustling and acting with creativity. Never anything but deliberate. Simply flipping the obstacles that life throws at you by improving in spite of them, because of them. And therefore no longer afraid. But excited, cheerful, and eagerly anticipating the next round.

-Ryan Holiday

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Don’t ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who are alive.

-Howard Thurman

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Instead of being afraid of what could go wrong, start being excited about what could go right.

-Zig Ziglar 

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Stay close to anything that makes you glad you are alive.

-Hafiz

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He who laughs at himself never runs out of things to laugh at.

-Epictetus