29 things before 30

So tomorrow I turn 30… and just like every other birthday for at least the last 10 years I am not excited about getting another year over… but this year I feel a little more ready for it.  30 has been something that has been looming for a while… 30 years in fact, but more so in the past 12 months.  Something that I have spent a lot of time thinking about and something that I have finally decided won’t be as bad as I think it will be.  So I thought I would continue my new tradition (from last year) to take a moment before it happens to reflect on the year that was 29 before it is gone altogether.  But before I can reflect on the last 12 months… because 30 is also the end of a decade… it only seems right to look at the last 10 years as well…

20-30 is a big time of change… a lot of growing up… and while I don’t think I have being an adult down pat yet, I certainly feel more like an adult than a young adult.  I am not sure if it’s my new found love of a quiet night in? Or my change in thinking around having to stand up and make a change if I don’t like something… but I feel like where I am at now, even though it may not be where I am forever, is an achievement…

20-30 has also been home to some of my happiest times as well as my most challenging…  I have changed and grown, physically, mentally and spiritually.  And while I wish I hadn’t grown quite as much physically… unless I could have gained some extra height… I am thankful for the lessons I have learned and the paths I have taken that have made my faith and mind stronger.

I have done so much in my 20s that I am not sure how my 30s will catch up, but I hope that they do… although, I am hoping our hardest path has already be walked… and the rocky patches ahead will not be quite as devastating.

Since I turned 20 I have…

  • Completed… well attempted to complete my very first list (2007) and since attempted 8 more… I am currently on my 9th
  • Returned to China to hang out with Dad and cross ‘Hong Kong Disney Land’ off my life long Disney visit bucket list (2007)
  • Had my life outlook changed by a uni placement to Bourke (2008)
  • Had 2 massive 21st parties
  • Finished my Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics (2008)
  • Started running the Kids Church at Church and had the most epic YP Anniversary of all time with ‘Talkin’ about my generation’ (2009)
  • Continued my red dirt obsession with trips to Broken Hill (2009) and Uluru (2016)
  • Got a job in the country… Castlemaine to be exact… moved out of home and spent a year blogging about it (2009-2010)
  • Had my 5 year and 10 year High School Reunions (2009 & 2014)
  • Starred in Box Hill Salvos “Nativity Play’
  • Got my first iPhone
  • Ran 2 Half Marathons (2008 & 2013)
  • Meet a cute little guy named Dex… and he moved in (2009)
  • Bought my first new car and said goodbye to my faithful Saabie (2010)
  • Experienced some snapshots of Europe… first with the Big Band in Sweden in 2010… then with Davo in 2015/2016
  • Got Engaged (2010) and Married my very own Prince Charming (2011)
  • Auditioned for Broadway (2010)
  • Visited Disneyworld with my new Husband (2011)
  • Visited NZ and my NZ family a couple of times (2012 & 2014/2015)
  • Watched one of my little brothers get married (2012)
  • Said goodbye to my second job as a Dietitian and moved to my current workplace at Link, where I have been able to expand my dietetics skills in to Marketing and IT (2013)
  • Been Bridesmaid for 2 of my best friends (2014 and here)
  • Brought my first house (2014)
  • Graduated from uni twice… one for dietetics and then again for my teaching degree (2014)
  • Watched both of my parents get remarried (2014, 2015)
  • Worked out how to long distance best friend (2015)
  • Recorded my first CD… well sung vocals on a Big Band CD (2017)
  • Became a mum and had to say goodbye to my little man (2016)
  • Got back up (2017)

A big 10 years… but I think the past 12 months have challenged who I am at my core more than any year before and I think lots of the things that I have done over the past decade have somehow prepared me for what happened…  But there has also been lots to be thankful for and I have learnt a lot… so in my new tradition… here are 29 things I have learned, loved and lived in the past year that have helped me prepare for 30…

  1. Birthdays are excellent… No matter how much I have been nervous about embracing them… they are always fun… especially when Dave helps to plan them… tomorrow will be good.
  2. Epic milkshakes are indeed epic… and often overwhelming, they should be consumed with caution… and preferably with no other sources of lactose.
  3. Having a celebrity like a post… even if they are a fake one… is more exciting than it should be… they are just people…but it was Russell Coight
  4. Dave makes driving a bus look grand
  5. Trimester 1 of pregnancy is the worst… it is hard keeping a secret, especially a when you feel like poop and you have to convince everyone else you are fine… lets hope that the next one is somehow easier.
  6. Jells Park is way more beautiful than I ever gave it credit for growing up… I am really glad that it is my local Parkrun venue.
  7. Dex looks great in a bow tie
  8. Family is messy and hard to fit on a wall, but I wouldn’t change any of it
  9. Pregnancy cravings are weird… but turkish delight milkshakes are the bomb
  10. Having Josh was the best thing I have ever done, but it was also the hardest knowing he wouldn’t stay.  Even if I knew what would happen I wouldn’t have swapped those 24weeks for anything.
  11. Colouring really is as good a distraction as they say it is…
  12. I still love my list, and I am really enjoying the simplicity of it this year, lots of local fun.
  13. 29 has been a year of home, embracing family, learning to breathe and dreaming for the future.
  14. This time last year I wrote ‘I am stronger and more capable then I think… I should remember this more often’, this is more true now then ever before.
  15. Whatsapp is great, but seeing your bestie face to face is greater, especially when you have time off to be able spend with them.
  16. I like being in the IT and Marketing teams… I also really like teaching.  I am pretty blessed to work for such great places that encourage me to grow and learn new skills.
  17. Dancing in a strawberry suit isn’t as embarrassing as you think it will be, you should just embrace it.
  18. Dave is still the best person to have ever entered my life.  He is strong, wise and loyal and I love him more than ever… plus he gets even better looking with age… who would have thought that was possible.
  19. I am getting better at throwing things out… lots of times you have to get rid of something old to make way for the new.  I don’t need to be a hoarder to keep the memories.
  20. I have good people around me, my community if vast and wide and I often take it for granted, but Dave and I could not have gotten through the last 6 months without them.
  21. I love the country
  22. I love the AFLW and I am glad I was part of the first season.
  23. I love singing in a recording studio… it makes me feel like a superstar.
  24. New cameras are the bomb… but I desperately need to improve my photography skills.
  25. Practicing gratitude is important… my new daily habit of writing down 3 things is helpful… it’s making me see the good… I should keep this going because I still can’t make happiness, or just choose to be happy, but I can choose to fill my life with people, things and places that make me happy, I can choose to see the good and I can choose to seek better.
  26. I still love blogging… and I think I am getting better at it… I suppose that’s the plus side of honesty.
  27. I love to worship… I love learning about worship and I love Jesus… He is the only one worthy of my worship.
  28. My plans for my life might be good, but as hard as it is to accept sometimes, His ways are better.  Life often seems unfair sometimes and we can’t always see the bigger picture… but we have to trust.
  29. I am still getting better at looking after myself, but just like last year I still have a long way to go… but this remains a top priority.  I can’t do what I am called to do, if I can’t function.

29 you have been a challenge, you have been hard, but you have been worth it all… in fact 20s you have been great… better than I had ever hoped and totally different from what I expected.

I am holding on to the promise that my 30s will bring better things… I hope that I continue to learn more, love more and live more… 30 I am now ready for you.

It’s 2017 List Time!

Hey 2017, I have been waiting for you… waiting for a good reason to start lots of things again… all the usual suspects, like getting my eating and exercise on track, but also a brand new list.  I am really excited about this year and it’s list.  I am not really sure why, but it has a good feeling about it, which is enough for me to go with.

This year will be my 9th list… 9, can you believe it? That will take me to 900 things that I have ‘listed’ and attempted.  You can check out all the old lists by clicking the year they were attempted here: 2006, 20072010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 or 2016.  This year’s list is once again full of little goals, 100 of them all up… Some big, some small, some fun, some serious, some new, some re-dos, some very deliberate and some very very random but all things that at some stage last year I decided I wanted/needed/should do this year.

I really love doing these lists each year and the last couple of years I have been lucky enough to have been on some overseas adventures, in fact last year we started the year in Venice and the year before we were in New Zealand, so I jam packed those lists with the things we would do while we were away.  But this year we are regrouping and staying home, which means the list looks a little more like the lists of old… all home grownish, localish fun which means if you live near me… or want to visit me, you too can join the listing fun.  Seriously let me know if you want to help me… crossing things off the list is always more fun with someone else.

I am also hoping (like every other year) that 2017 will be the year that I get more consistent with blogging it when it happens… so that I can remember them all, not just all the big ones… anyway, that’s enough rambling about the list… here it is:

  1. Play some table tennis
  2. Learn to make a paper crane
  3. Do something special to celebrate my 30th
  4. Go on a book blind date
  5. Make Mrs Kaye’s cookies
  6. Have High Tea
  7. No more games in the morning… even if I am sick
  8. Try again
  9. Keep getting closer
  10. Go back to park run
  11. Go back to work
  12. Go back to school
  13. Paint something
  14. Build something
  15. Drink a bottle of water most days
  16. Have a ‘no screen time’ day or hopefully a couple of them
  17. Make some smores
  18. Go on a picnic
  19. Find out how floating lanterns work… how they are made etc.
  20. Go to the drive in
  21. Go Camping
  22. Go on a  road trip
  23. Swim in the ocean
  24. See a musical
  25. Do a fun run
  26. Have a spa of some sort
  27. Write a letter to myself to open in 10 years
  28. Help change something at home
  29. Start learning guitar again
  30. Get a haircut
  31. Take a photo everyday
  32. Exercise at least 3 times a week and make the most of my gym membership
  33. Send 20 hand written cards
  34. Eat/make paella
  35. Bake a lemon meringue pie
  36. Get a massage
  37. Participate in a scavenger hunt
  38. Do some trivia
  39. Try those multi fill water bombs and have a water fight
  40. Remember the important things: God, Dave, Health, Family and Communication
  41. Get better at shopping for my body
  42. Watch Hocus Pocus
  43. Go on a bush walk
  44. Use my new outdoor reading chair
  45. Blow some bubbles
  46. Play a board game
  47. Play a video game… not on my phone
  48. Go berry picking
  49. Have 5 different milkshake dates
  50. Try yoga again
  51. Visit a museum/gallery
  52. Blog regularly
  53. Seriously… be on time
  54. Get to work earlier and leave on time
  55. Keep my photo storage up to date
  56. Keep my computer up to date
  57. Meet Baby Lewis
  58. Try to make Turkish Delight… or just eat some real Turkish Delight
  59. Read 16 books
  60. Read at least 3 christian/devotional books
  61. Bake/cook something from 6 different countries
  62. Visit 3 different national parks
  63. Create an outdoor cinema in the backyard
  64. Go to a country town I have never been to before
  65. Watch a sunrise
  66. Get my car washed properly and then wash it least 5 times
  67. Read the book of Joshua
  68. Find some new blogs I like and read them regularly
  69. Cross at least one thing off my list each month
  70. Go to the fancy McDonald’s in Clifton Hill
  71. Finish cleaning out the spare room
  72. Three words… ‘home cooked meals’
  73. Have a spend nothing day at least once a month
  74. Get up at 7am on work days
  75. Make a quiche
  76. Have a non liquid breakfast at least twice a week
  77. Finish Gilmore Girls
  78. Check out Hungarofest
  79. Stop using Eastlink… just leave earlier
  80. Find out if our house has a legit hidden fireplace… or just get some proof of hope
  81. Find out where our local swimming hole is and use it
  82. Remember Joshua
  83. Try the crochet thongs/uggs
  84. Stay at the Langham
  85. Try Danny’s Donuts
  86. Finish sorting and storing the VHS tapes
  87. Blog about being thankful at least once a month
  88. Get my steps up again… ideally to >10,000 per day
  89. Learn how to play a new game
  90. Go interstate
  91. Get both the Europe and New Zealand Photo books ready for print
  92. Finish watching Star Trek Next Gen
  93. Go on a romantic get away
  94. Try 4 more local cafe’s in the search of our new local
  95. Finish my sentence a day book
  96. Improve my 5km time
  97. Do some colouring
  98. Go to bed earlier
  99. Clean out the Kikki.K folders
  100. Be deliberate about filling the house with good things like flowers and music

And there you have it… 2017 I am so glad you are here!

2016 – Photos, Lessons and Thankfulness

Ok so today is the last day of 2016 and I can’t tell you how ready I am for 2017.  It’s not that 2016 has been all bad, it hasn’t.  There is a part of me that will actually miss the things and events of 2016, but I am ready for something new.  Ready to start again.  2016 has held lots of my best and most treasured moments, our travels around the world, new friends, old friends and meeting and holding my baby boy for the first time.  But the second half of 2016 has also been my hardest time to date, saying goodbye to Josh way too soon and learning to live in world where he was and now isn’t.

Much of 2016 was unexpected, but through all of this I have grown.  I have learnt more about myself, who I am, who I want to be, and where I need to make changes.  More about my family and friends, just how important they are, and how much they love Dave and I through both good and bad.  And more about what is important in life, how much trust I have in Jesus and that even though I may not see the whole picture I can trust that this is part of something much bigger than me.  That this year has been and will be way more important that I will understand for a long time.  I have learnt to hold on to the things that I know are true and good and to hope and celebrate joy in really really crappy places.  I know that “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28, NLT).

Looking forward to 2017 I must “be strong and courageous! I must not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord my God is with me wherever I go.” (Joshua 1:9, NLT with my paraphrase).  God has this covered, he has Dave and I covered in his love, in his grace and in his mercy.  His love brings joy and peace beyond understanding and circumstance.  We have good things ahead and my hope is that we will see some of these in 2017. 

Usually at this time of year I would right a blog looking back at the year through the photos taken on my iPhone which I am still going to do, only this year instead of writing a highlight of each month, I am going to write about the things I am thankful for.  On most occasions these are also the highlights, but practicing my gratitude and highlighting the blessings brings me a lot more joy than just telling you that something was good.  It’s also better for my brain. So this is what 2016 looked like through the eyes of my iPhone with my gratitude lens on.

January…

I am thankful for:
•  Travel, exploring Europe and having my mind opened to more of the world with the best travel buddy I could have ever asked for, Dave.
•  Meeting new friends.
•  Polka bands and spoons in Austria.
•  Exploring London, Paris and Disneyland with my best friend.

February…

I am thankful for:
•  Warm weather and food with friends old and new.
•  Parkrun and it’s ability to engage my fomo so I actually exercise.

March…

I am thankful for:
•  More food and sharing it with more people – this seems to be a theme of my life.
•  Inverloch and the opportunity that it gives me to step back and slow down.
•  Beautiful cards from Happy Mail that I have been able to share.
• Learning about snapchat filters and the fun they have brought… even though I still haven’t quite conquered snapchat.

April…

I am thankful for:
•  The outback and red dirt and the feeling that I get when I am standing surrounded by it.  By the incredible landscapes and history our home holds.
•  Camping, hiking and exploring new and beautiful places with Dave’s family and how much closer I feel to them after having these experiences.
•  Getting over my fear of bugs, I don’t know how, but I do know it happened in April and now they don’t bother me… at all, it’s really nice.
•  Birthdays and the wonderful excuse they are to catch up with people and eat delicious treats… see I told you it was a theme.

May…

I am thankful for:
•  School and the community that it is, for the wonderful and talented kids, for our trip to Mt Gambier and watching them perform in the Lion King.
•  5 years with Davo as married couple.  Marriage just keeps getting better and better and it is still the best decision that I have ever made, to say yes to him and to get married.

June…

I am thankful for:
•  Finding out we were pregnant, even if I wasn’t quite ready.
•  For work and the fun things I get to do, talks, presentations, adventures and be creative.
•  Bram and Jean and the impact they had on Box Hill Salvos, but also on Dave and I.  Their wisdom, humility and enthusiasm is something that I greatly value.  For Bram and I’s competitive parkrun spirit and his encouragement of my running.

July…

I am thankful for:
•  Anti-nausea medication and the difference it makes.
•  The generosity of friends and the wonderful and relaxing weekend in the city it provided for Dave and I.
•  Catch ups with new, but great friends.
•  The joy of sharing good news with family.  For how excited they were and how much they loved Josh, even before we new he was Josh.

August…

I am thankful for:
•  Sharing my pregnancy with one of my best mates and having an endless supply of food at our shared desk.
•  Scans and how incredibly detailed they are, for seeing Josh move around and starting to get to know who he was.
•  The joy of sharing our news of Joshua with our wider group of friends and family and the amount of love that was poured out.
•  More sunny days as winter started to disappear.

September…

I am thankful for:
•  Cleaning things out and making way, decluttering and letting go.
•  Our Babymoon to Lakes Entrance and time spent with just Dave.
•  The incredible example my grandparents are in their marriage, 60years strong and still so in love.
•  Tiny baby clothes and toys.
•  Another scan and the detail in which we were able to see our perfect baby growing.
•  Turkish Delight milksakes and pink donuts.

October…

I am thankful for:
•  Dust and Jess and the exciting news that our Baby was getting a cousin.
•  Spending time with friends for the grand final, birthdays and mario party.
•  Holding Josh and being about to spend 3 heartbreaking days with him, for how perfectly he was made and how beautiful he was.
•  Watching Dave with Josh and falling even more in love with him as he became a father to our tiny boy.
•  Being able to sing, kiss and cuddle my precious little one.
•  Friends and family that stood in the gap for us as we grieved, for food and gifts that filled our house and for love that was poured out so abundantly.

November…

I am thankful for:
•  Learning to breathe again.
•  Sunny days to spend out on the deck and catching up with family.
•  Gingerbread, Christmas Trees and the Christmas Movie Marathon voting system.
•  Our photo wall and being able to put our whole family up there.
•  Singing to celebrate on of my old teachers at school and the impact he had on our musical lives and just singing in a choir again.
•  Heartfelt and their gift of beautiful photos of Joshua

December…

I am thankful for:
•  Polaroid photos.
•  Having Kirsten home for a couple of weeks and getting to hang out with here.
•  Crafting and blogging and having time to due some fun projects.
•  Perfectly wrapped Christmas gifts.
•  Christmastime – meals, celebrations and time spent with those most important to us.
•  Joshua’s tiny hand prints on our tree.
•  More time on the deck.
•  Summer, heat and our new air conditioners.
•  Time to reflect.

There has been so much to be thankful for and really this is just a snap shot.   Despite the pain and turmoil of moments, 2016 has been pretty good, really good actually, but I am still looking forward to 2017 with the hope of even more joy.  I will be strong and courageous, and I will trust that there is good because I love God and he loves me and will be with me whatever 2017 holds.

Listing in the Outback

UluruSo apart from finding my inner Aussie again while we were in Uluru I also had a lot of fun.  When I wrote my list for 2016 there were lots of things I included knowing we were going to do/I really wanted to do in Europe, but I also snuck a view central Australia goodies in as well, knowing that we were also planning on coming here with Dave’s family.  The good news is all of these got crossed off… The better news is I also got to cross off some surprise ones… And I really love an impromptu list crossing!

Just entering the Northern Territory crossed off no. 44 as it was the first time I had ever traveled there, which is a pretty impressive start to a trip.  While we were up there Dave and I went on a 3 day camping trip with Dave’s sister Ness and her partner Hugh, where we spent our days getting up before sunrise to watch it rise in spectacular style and then go bush walking (no. 30) around Uluru, through Kata Tjuta and up and over the Kings Canyon rim, covering about 25km all up in 30+ degrees.  At night we watched the sunset beautifully and then slept under the stars in our own swags (no. 25), and let me tell you there is nothing like the central Australian stars, they are truly mind blowing.  At the top of Kings Canyon I also found my first geocache (no. 13) signed in and left behind my own gift and hid it again for the next geocacher (no. 14).  This was not planned, I had no idea it was up there, but our tour guide asked if anyone wanted to see one and I was in.

While we were out in the bush, I also got to see my first wild dingo.. And a few of its mates, and as we traveled between sites, I saw an emu at Curtain Springs Station (no. 66) and took a little selfie with Nibbles the camel at Kings Creek Station (no. 81).

I love being out in the bush, but I have also really loved the time I have had to hang out with our family, dinners, swims, walks… Sharing, talking and experiencing this together.  On our first night we went and experienced the ‘field of light’ an art installation only opened that week that has 50,000+ lights placed at the foot of Uluru, which was pretty incredible and last night, as our last night together, we enjoyed the sounds of silence, a four course meal out in the open watching the sunset over Uluru and Kata Tjuta and then being guided through the central Australian stars.  It was the perfect way to finish a wonderful week.  Great food, laughter and a perfect location… I sat with empty shoes off, feet covered in red sand and soaked it all in… I am so blessed to have had this week, in fact this incredible year but even more, to have wonderful family to share it with… And I’m already dreaming of when I can return to experience the outback again.

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From the Back of Bourke to Uluru via the world

This time 8 years ago I was in Bourke, I was young, naive, and a long way from home.  I was out there for a final year uni placement after expressing some interest in indigenous Australian health and closing the gap that exists between indigenous communities and non-indigenous ones.  At the time I had no idea how life changing this trip to the outback would be.  How much it would shape my life, ideas and opinions.  How much I would appreciate the experience and insight I gained while I was there.  Or how much the red dirt would get in my heart, and the hole that it would leave forever after that.

Fast forward to now, and as sad as it is to admit when I came home from Europe I was a little underwhelmed about being Australian, I was ashamed of my history and feeling a little lost, but this week, I have had my feet back in the red dirt and it feels like home.

Last week Dave and I spent our time exploring Uluru on a family holiday with Dave’s family, a trip unlike any we have been on before and my first trip to the Northern Territory.  But this trip to heart of Australia has refreshed my soul. There is still a lot of my identity as a white Australian I am uncomfortable with, but I have been reminded of so much that we can be proud of.

The outback is magical and majestic and I have never experienced anything like it.  The vastness of the desert, the size and scale of Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon, the simple beauty of our beautiful country and the incredible ability for life and culture to last even in the toughest and most extreme circumstances.  I have found a new appreciation for our Aboriginal forefathers, and renewed my passion for bridging the gap between Australia’s two currently separated communities.

It is humbling to walk around the rim of Uluru and parts of Kata Tjuta, their overwhelming presence a reminder of how small man really is.  It is incredible to think of the time they have stood and endured, almost as long as Australia has been Australia, these amazing structures have been here.   As we walked through and along the rim of Kings Canyon it is impossible not to be impressed, where else in the desert can you find ferns and permanent waterhole? Or frogs and tadpoles who have waited for rain just for this chance to survive on the top of a desert rock.  I was reminded that while Australia may not have the ‘white’ history of Europe, with buildings and statues from a long heritage that is familiar and , Australia’s history is rich in a completely different way.  It has been around for a lot longer, as has its people.

So while there is still a lot to be done to reconcile all that is Australian, I am proud of this land, it’s people and to be Australian.

Uluru Sunrise

Kings Canyon Sunrise

Kata Tjuta

Kings Canyon

Uluru Sunset

Kata Tjuta Sunset