Monday, 9 September 2013

Monkey Business

I am now back at work and I forgot how much work eats into everyday life. Those 3 months have passed ridiculously quick and I have 2 goals I have not yet managed to achieve - selling my writing (although I may argue that writing a book is a brilliant step towards this goal) and generating an additional income each week - however as I hadn't been generating any income at all for the past 3 months I decide this goal needs to wait for another time as for now I simply need to generate some/any money!

Also my new lack of time means I haven't been blogging much at all. Luckily I wrote a few in Bali and havent got round to posting them yet. Today in Queenstown it is raining with horrific winds and thunder and lightning so I started to read through some of my travel writing to brighten my day. The below blog I wrote after a particularly unexpected and scary animal encounter - as much as I loved Bali I don't miss this day at all...

Monkey Business

After visiting a sacred (and spectacular) cliff top temple and witnessing a poor lady get her sandals stolen by monkeys - who viscously grabbed at her feet so that she jumped, whipped them off quicker than she could scream "get off", scrambled up her spine, perched on shoulder, bared their scary sharp teeth and started to unzip her bag, I have a new weariness for the speedy tree hopping mammals. Even more so when I found out they carry rabies!

After a particularly hard morning of sunbathing I decided to treat myself to a walk, after 10 minutes I remember I am supposed to be relaxing and this is a stupid idea so turn around to head back to the beach. That's when I see him. A deceptively cute looking beast no bigger than a foot tall. He's in the middle of the road staring at me. I stop dead in my tracks. Suddenly the world around me disappears. It's like a western cowboy shoot out at the saloon, I swear some tumbleweed passed by. Completely silent and still I tremble, unaware of who will make the first move but fully aware that this situation is serious.. Within seconds the beast is running towards me at an alarming speed - I panic so decide to face fear head on. I run at the monkey waving my arms in the air making myself seem as big as possible. I'm shitting myself but imitating a much later ape, I yell as I run in its direction "RRraaghhhh". Apparently nothing about a craze Welsh girl, screaming like a mad woman, running down the street, waving her arms manically in the air is scary at all because the monkey hurls himself at my feet. I am truly terrified. I do not want to lose my shoes or catch rabies! I start kicking and stomping, yelling and swearing like a mentalist, the monkey continues to hold on. No matter how hard I thrust my foot in the air I just cannot kick him off. As I look down I can see in his puny little eyes that he is not giving up without a fight so I do the most natural thing that comes to mind and swing my large heavy handbag back and wallop the thing so hard it literally flies across the road. Suddenly I am consumed with guilt. I feel awful, what kind of person am I? Poor monkey!!! I have shamed humanity – wait…. no I haven't - the little shit is speeding towards me again - he wants some more! I am consumed with fear. I swing my bag aimlessly, cursing loudly and absolutely consumed with terror. I start walking slowly backwards putting a good 10 feet between us. He stops and stares into my soul burning me with his evil gaze. I think my true craziness and fear is shown through my eyes as the monkey slows down his pace and keeps some distance between us. I turn but can see and feel this thing literally stalking me. The second my back I turned he is bouncing in my direction. I yell once again because I really don’t know what else to do and cannot see me being able to escape with my mind and body in tact. That’s when my savior arrives - a local Balinese man on a scooter. He whips the accelerator and charges full speed at the monkey chasing him away into the bushes. My heart sinks and I am shaking like an alcoholic on day one cold turkey. I thank the kind man who simply laughs and says "monkey trouble" whilst driving away with the largest toothiest grin I have ever seen. I run back to the hotel and stay in the grounds for the rest of the day – I can now add Monkeys to my list of irrational fears, along with oranges, flying and being alone in the dark.


Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Do blackbirds worry?

I was a bit grumpy today - and that doesn't happen often. I grumbled a little and moped a little and wandered aimlessly around town in the sun. I had a work meeting, viewed a couple of houses and met a friend for coffee. Then I came home and decided to take my green tea to the bench outside and just sit in the sun and be.

I watch the blackbirds. There are about six on the reserve in front of me. I remind myself that these creatures are real. They are alive - they have a beating heart and a working brain. I wonder what they think about. Mostly worms I imagine. They are bobbing around carelessly not even considering the fact that I am there. They do not have any interest in me or how I am feeling, they don't care that my car has broken or that I'm due back to work next week.  It then occurs to me why should anyone concern themselves with my issues? No matter how big they seem to me, really they are not going to affect anyone else. I see a cyclist whizz past and I wonder if he has any issues today. Without serious commitments (think children, mortgage etc) any issues I have are mine and only mine. The only person I am in fear of letting down is myself, I wonder why I am so hard to please when its just me generating my own expectations.

I have a quiet word to myself and go back inside, turn the radio on and sing way too loudly. This stops my grumpiness immediately and I decide that's my quota for the next few months!

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Travel Bug

The term travel bug is so relevant to me. For me it really is a bug - and travel itself acts as the curing drug . If I go too long without travel or some form of adventure and discovery I start to feel sick. Its not a sickness where I am in bed all day, coughing with a high temperature. The best way I can describe it is like being homesick or lovesick, that desperate longing and nostalgic feeling for something that is almost impossible to shake. Once I start thinking about it the feeling increases and there is only one way to satisfy that desire which is to actually do something about it. Luckily for me it doesn't always have to be an adventure overseas, yesterday I hiked a new track that provided me with different surroundings and a brand new view of Arrowtown that I hadn't seen before. I was deliciously ignorant to the world below and savored the walk. However I am aware that these small adventures always stand to bridge the gap between now and my next overseas discovery.

I have only just come back from 3 weeks in Indonesia, which means my goal to have a trip overseas is complete as well as being a thorough success. Not only did I push myself out of my comfort zone, I experienced a new culture and had an absolute blast.
I get tremendous joy just from settling into my designated seat on the aeroplane waiting for take off. I’m nervous because I have a slight fear of flying but excited because I know that whatever happens from this moment on is a brand new adventure, a break from the norm, something that will further enrich my life in one way or another! I wait patiently looking forward to whatever they attempt to serve us for food. I couldn't believe it when on my first flight en-route to Bali the couple sat next to me straight out turned down the offer of a free meal - they didn't even ask what it was. I was gobsmacked. Now I know there are many different opinions on plane food but I have never experienced or even heard of people flat out not accepting a free meal. I on the other hand was super grateful for my semi-hard pumpkin ravioli, yellowish peas and singular piece of broccoli . The food was pretty standard on that flight and my dessert was one lonely lindt ball – simple but delicious, unfortunately for me the ball rolled under my seat and I spent the next hour digging under my seat, whilst attempting to not fling my tray and the empty food containers everywhere. It was by far the most exciting thing on my tray after a few strange looks from the lady next to me I gave up and accepted the loss of my delicious ball of chocolate goodness. Instead I lie back and start to think.

As I attempt to analyze why I find travel so liberating I realize it's because getting lost really is the best way to find yourself. I was a little lost at home with a foggy brain full with thoughts and unanswered questions, once I am alone in a foreign country there is only me and my thoughts become so simple. My brain and I only concern ourselves with things that make us feel good and we choose to simply avoid or leave anything that doesn’t serve us because its easy and we can and if anyone has a problem with it no-one actually knows who we are or where we're going. We decide exactly where, when and what we want to eat without consulting others. We sleep when tired, walk when we want to walk, swim when we want to swim, leave our current residence and venture off to a new destination when we feel ready. Travel is freedom its one of the only things that really makes our lives richer.

Considering I have a job and responsibilities, as well as Phil waiting at home, the world selfish crosses my mind a lot. But on this journey I have decided selfish is not an ugly word. In the right context it doesn't necessarily indicate being self-centered and ignorant or caring any less for the people around you. For me being selfish in this situation means I am starting to care about my needs and putting them at the front of my priority list, where money and my career used to be. A dose of selfishness can do wonders for the soul. Don't get me wrong, bringing happiness and well-being to others is just as important, but it is truly rewarding when you spend time and energy on yourself for what eventually makes you a better person. I believe people are responsible for shaping their own futures therefore it is important to pay special attention to your own desires or agenda - and act on them!

On this trip I wish I was being selfish in style because there are no TV's on this flight, my seat is particularly small, there is only one set of toilets at the back and a very large queue forming half way up the plane and I already need to stretch my legs - I bet business class doesn't suffer like this. I stand up stretch as much as I can and decide to sleep the rest of the journey and consider what self indulgent activities I will experience whilst I am on holiday.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Meditation - slow down but not too much

My goal of mastering meditation started to slip but after reading a recent article recently that promises that regular meditation  increases immunity, emotional balance and sex life I decided I was keen to take my meditation goal to the next level despite the fact I kept avoiding any dedicated classes with all manner of excuses. Then my trusty friend Gill (the one who cornered me into the Bikram Yoga experience) calls and asks if I am keen to try out the 1 hour meditation class at the local Well Being Centre. We laugh nervously and decide its a great idea.

We turn up like giggling school girls and notice the serious face everyone else in the room is wearing. About 10 of us sit in a circle, around a single candle, holding a blanket each . The room is warm and dark lit by a few scattered candles and lamps - it feels slightly gothic. This is heightened when we are all instructed to hold hands, close our eyes and feel the energy flow. I suddenly panic that this is more of a hippy healing class than meditation and to lighten my mood start to slowly rub my thumb over the top of Gill's hand in a caressing circular movement. I find this fucking hilarious and use every bit of strength I have not to burst into a fit of laughter. I can feel Gill convulses next to me and know she is fighting the same battle. I’m not sure if it was holding in the hilarity, the panic or the actual energy but I start to get extremely hot, like boiling hot and sweaty. I am grateful when we break the circle and I can take off my sweater and recompose myself!

We are then further instructed to lie down with a large rounded pillow under our heads and knees and place our blankets over us to get nice and cosy – now this bit I like, it reminds me of being at Girl Guide camp many years ago settling down for a large communal sleepover. Its peaceful and silent when my stomach decides to makes a loud rumble sound, I cringe and pray that it stops, I do not want to humiliate myself by being the one person who uncontrollably disrupts everyone else’s quiet time.

The meditator has a very quiet voice and at first I struggle to hear him but when I manage to tune into his words I follow them intently. He tells us to imagine that we are covered in white light, then green on top of the white, then a purple light on top of the green light and then suddenly I am falling into darkness. The jolts from the falling sensation brings me back to the room where I hear the mediator inform us to pick up our glowing sword and smash down all the blocks we just built….. I'm confused I dont remember any building blocks I am concerned I may have just fallen asleep and missed some of the journey. I am now back in a conscious state and midfully holding a glowing sword but not sure what bricks I am supposed to be smashing, I look around in my created dream world (not quite inception and check but Leonardo DiCaprio is definable not there) and imagine a pile of blocks and charge at them "break them all" he tells us “insecurity, jealousy, resentment… smash them all down”. I have no idea what he is talking about so walk around with my sword and pretend I am Shearer.  A few minutes later I realize I must have drifted into my subconscious again as he asks us all to bring awareness back to ourselves and back to the room. We sit upright and he asks if anyone would like to share their experience. One ladies openly tells us that when she became a tree, and her roots embedded deep into the earth, her grounding felt so significant that hundreds of colours flashed before her eyes. I am very confused. Another lady says being a tree made her feel like never before, like her feet are firmly on the ground finally and then she starts laughing manically, the instructor encourages her to laugh further until we are all laughing - some awkwardly, some like they are having the time of their lives. I have no idea what the hell is going on – I do not remember trying to be a tree.

The mediator smiles at me a few times, I think how friendly and welcoming he is. We then all hold hands and stare at the candle in the center and for about 5 minutes we will the flame to get bigger - it doesn’t. We stare at the candle and look for a purple light, I think I see it. We then breathe our energy at the candle and he says a prayer to mother nature and father sky at which point Gill and I exchange confused looks and get up to leave.

As we walk to the car I check the time – what a rip off $10 and we were only there 45 minutes. Gill admits she didn't quite 'get the  class' and I confess that I thought it was less about quietening the mind and a little cult like. I also sheepishly admit that I may have fallen asleep twice. Suddenly Gill is in hysterics. She knows I was asleep because she could hear me - apparently I WAS SNORING!! I am assured that everyone else in the class would have definitely heard too. The instructor wasn’t smiling at me because he’s friendly – he was grimacing at me because I snored through his entire meditation. I am mortified. I ask about being a tree. Apparently the tree section went on for at least 10 minutes but I missed the entire thing because I was asleep! I joke and say maybe I should ask for half my money back considering I was only present for half the class! We laugh all the way back to the car. When I get home I am further horrified when I check my watch and realize the class wasn’t 45 minutes long. It was an hour and 45 minutes! I dread to think how long I was actually asleep and how much I likely disturbed everyone’s meditation. I am slightly mortified.

Despite my horror though I did feel a sense of calmness (probably because I had an hours nap) so have concluded that it wasn’t a complete disaster and as with Bikram I should try at least once more – and attempt to remain conscious this time – to decide if it really was as weird as I remember.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Back Cracking Experience

Yesterday’s yoga session was focused on alignment and as I was balancing myself sideways, wobbling uncontrollably and making the most elaborate facial expressions whilst trying to control my breathing, I listened to the instructor and attempted to tune into my spine and neck. I don’t know how or why but I decided my neck and back didn’t quite feel as aligned as I would like. One of them suggested going to the Chiropractor “they’re amazing” she assured me so I booked an appointment for this morning and sadly couldn’t contain my excitement as yet again I was taking action to improve my quality of life.

Now I’m not sure if I am naive or just plain stupid sometimes but I was quite under-prepared.  When I arrived the receptionist asks me what my injury is – shit, I didn’t realize I needed an injury, I just feel unaligned….. after procrastinating on whether to tell the truth and potentially be faced with an unsympathetic receptionist who doesn’t care if I feel unaligned, I decided to blame my boxing.
(Turns out I may not have been lying – the doctor of chiropractic informs me that holding the pads consistently in boxing for someone stronger than you (which is exactly the type of character I like to partner with) then returning with punching as hard as I possibly can is little more than repeated whiplash – makes sense I guess.

The receptionist then asks me to read a disclaimer that informs me of a very minuscule chance I may suffer a stroke or be seriously injured from my visit-  I have no idea what I thought I would experience over the next 15 minutes but it definitely wasn’t the medical practice I was expecting.  I sign my life away and become a little nervous on what I am about to endure.

The lovely doctor starts by pointing at some bones on a life size skeleton but I have no idea what he is talking about. He then sits me down and asks me to raise my arms up, at the same time he is pushing them down I have to resist and keep raising them. I do this whilst looking forward, easy! I do it again whilst looking right, this is stupid! I try it whilst looking left and my arms flop down like a ragdoll.. errr what… how? Apparently my left C bone or something is sticking out of my neck – I hadn’t noticed this before, well I can’t really see or feel it now but he assures me this is the cause. He then casually walks behind me and wraps his arms around my head and neck and promises me “this won’t hurt”. For a split second I actually think he is just going to break my neck and murder me, I am slightly shitting myself. Whoa! The noise that follows with his neck breaking movement is horrific, the major cracks I hear assures me he has done some permanent damage, in an uncontrollable reaction I jump up, state how horrible that was and ask what the hell just happened, he looks shocked, tells me I am welcome and that he has just explained it all and was there something I didn’t understand – hmmm… I kind of forgive him when he starts rubbing some substance (I’m assuming anti-flam to avoid the bruises) into the area because it actually feels quite good (I cannot resist a massage or anything that comes close, it can be from anyone, anywhere and I can not refuse) so I pretend it’s a little treat and conclude he can continue healing me. I apologize and move onto my back as instructed. I do a few leg raises and now he wants to realign my left hip because it is very restricted through my left bum cheek, well that what I assume he meant as he poked me bum cheek twice and said “hmmm.... yes, very restricted”. I lie sideways with my left leg bend over my right when he leans onto my left upper thigh, applies some pressure and then literally jumps on it, putting all his force and body weight onto me – I thank him and think how this is just another weird experience, in another weird week, in my weird life.

He promises me I will feel the benefits and tells me to return in 2 days. Apparently realigning, or cracking, your back into place or whatever medical term they use can treat a ridiculous amount of illnesses including stress, headache, sleeplessness, skin conditions and so much more! After the $75 charge (which nearly blew my socks off) I am now waiting to feel the benefits of latest quest for a better mind, body and soul!

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Money Making - Second Attempt

In my further attempt to generate an additional income of $150 a week I fell in love with the idea of making my own jewelry and selling it at a profit. I have seen what crafts people are selling in the local Saturday market, I figure it must be easy to make and the learn that most of the pieces have a markup of anything between 500 - 1000%

For me though, this was just a stupid idea. I do not have an eye for detail, I am clumsy and I don’t have great taste in fashion. So what do I decide to do? Invest some money, purchase a lot of jewelry pieces from a national craft warehouse and decide I will make and sell jewelry myself. I was surprised when I found it pretty easy to make and ended up with over 50 pairs of earrings, rings and necklaces and it was quite a pleasant way to spend a rainy afternoon.

I hadn’t however, considered how I would sell my new range. I concluded that TradeMe (New Zealand’s version of Trade Me) was my best choice and spent longer putting the listings on auction that it took to make the bloody things. To make matters worse because of the competition online I placed the items at a very low reserve (assuming it would attract more people to bid) and over the course of a week sold a quarter of them at about the same cost it took to buy the pieces in the first place then the auction cost, the shipping and finally the winning fee you have to pay to Trade Me for every item that sells! To make things worse as I was packing some of the rings to post, the adjustable ring pieces were snapping off as the craft glue wasn’t strong enough. I attempted to fix this issue with superglue despite the fact that I know I am not trained to use superglue and should avoid it at all costs, I have never had a good relationship with superglue.  As a normal person (not me obviously) may expect the superglue got everywhere, all over the back of the rings, up the sides and even burnt through some of the plastic cameo’s melting the design on the front, my fingers were sticking together, it was on my clothes and all over the pages of my nearby diary. I separate my fingers as wide as I could and resolved to sit completely still, not move or touch anything until everything dried. What a fucking disaster! I cleaned it up, attempted and failed to fix the sold treasures and decide to email the successful bidders and offer a full refund. Now I have refunded all the money, minus what I had to pay Trade Me for the action and the winning fee and have a shitloads of ruined jewelry that needs to be binned. Another Epic Fail!