The High Maintenance Traveller.

The most humiliating moment of my professional life took place in the back of an airport bound cab, surrounded by colleagues I barely knew. It was post national conference in Sydney and I was sharing the cab with 3 other girls, all of us racing to the airport in an attempt to catch earlier flights home.
I get chronic motion sickness but someone else had jumped in the front and who wants to be high maintenance with people you don’t really know? I’d already missed the mark during one of those ridiculous ‘get to know you’ activities that I despise and told a story that I thought was funny, only to elicit gasps and murmurs of ‘that’s really sad’. This was shortly followed by an evening of ‘mandatory karaoke’ where reps from the different states were called up to sing together/against one another. I did not know the song well but I dutifully chimed in on the chorus and belted it out with what can only be described as gusto. I was sober. Many were not. Incredulously for one’s so tipsy, it lingered in people’s minds the next day. Now I was the ‘odd story karaoke girl with no actual marketing degree’ from country Victoria. I didn’t want to be any more conspicuous than I already was so I climbed in the back and inwardly reasoned with myself. It wasn’t a long trip, how bad could it possibly be?
It was bad. Really bad. It was hot in the cab. The driver continuously pumped his foot on and off the accelerator and by the time we were entering a very long tunnel, I knew the inevitable was going to happen and we had no means of stopping. My jaw was clenched shut afraid that if I opened my mouth, it would not be words that came out. I started to sweat.
The girl next to me glanced over and exclaimed ‘you don’t look so flash!’. I managed to murmur that I was going to vomit and the back seat sprang into action. My seat mate began ripping items out of a shopping bag and she thrust it to me with seconds to spare. I threw up my dignity into the paper bag as everyone watched on, equal parts empathy & horror. The girl sitting in front (who later became a great friend) refused to look around in case she went out in sympathy. The driver wound down all the windows and floored it, like that was going to help calm my churning stomach.
And then it got worse. The paper bag was not going to hold its contents. I had to request a second shopping bag and then hold it on my lap like a hand bag, all the way to the airport. My seat mate assured me that though I was violently ill, I did so remarkably quietly. It did not sooth my wounded pride.

Travel sickness and inner ear issues are a tough break for a girl who LOVES to travel. No reading in moving vehicles. No back to back flights. Polite and constant pleadings to sit in the front seat of buses and automobiles with firmly clenched teeth and eyes fixed on the road for the majority of every winding journey.
Despite all this, travel is actually still possible and even enjoyable for the well prepared and determined! Even more so if you are a little quirky and can handle people casually glancing at you twice before going about their business because, to be frank, you look off the rack bonkers in your efforts to remain in one piece.

Straying from my normal blogging format, here are a few of the tips and tricks I’ve gleaned over the years from packing hacks to motion sickness pills for the high maintenance traveller. (Note: not a paid post. Note about my note: I have no objections to being paid for this post.)

Let us first solve the motion sickness problem before we move on!

1. Travel Sickness Tablets: I have tried every heavily medicated and natural ginger based product on this continuously moving planet and the best thing I’ve ever discovered is Avomine. You can take it the night before you fly/drive to keep the queasiness at bay or in the moment to quiet a stomach in upheaval. On short business trips, I will often take just half a tablet to keep me functioning but alert as they do tend to make me drowsy. You can purchase Avomine at your local chemist for around $7-$8 a box. Well worth the investment!
2. earPlanes: These beauties are hugely underrated when used incorrectly! I did not bother to read the instructions when I first tried them because I thought, how hard can shoving something in your ear really be? Turns out there is a little bit of science to them and they are far more affective when used correctly. Wait until the cabin is sealed before popping them in. When the plane reaches cruising altitude, take them out. 1 hour before you land or just before descent commences, pop them back in. Do not touch them once they are in. They will make an incredible difference to the amount of pain and pressure you experience if you do this. Where I once used to experience debilitating pain on every descent and then subsequent blocked ears for several days afterwards, I now sometimes feel the pressure but there is no pain associated and my ears pop and adjust on landing. Fun Fact – they also work a treat if you want to deter over friendly seat mates. Pop those beauties in, sniff on a eucalyptus vapour inhaler to keep your sinuses clear and furiously chew gum. A guaranteed formula for keeping Chatty Cathy at bay. These can also be purchased at the chemist for around $12 – $14, or at the airport if you forget prior to departing.
3. Fly Legs Up:  Whilst we are on the topic of flying, let’s talk the dreaded long haul flight in economy. It’s a challenge. Even for short legged individuals such as myself. Enter the magical contraption that is the ‘Fly Legs Up’. (Side bar: I love that when naming this product, they went with a very literal interpretation.) Basically, it’s a little hammock that attaches to the drop down tray table in front of you. It is super adaptable so you can stretch out your legs or curl them up. No comprendo? Here is the link: http://www.flylegsup.com/
You must see it to believe it and then purchase one immediately. My friends have scoffed at how insane I must look assembling such a thing on a flight but hand on my heart, the last two flights I took it came up in conversation with my seat mates towards the end of my flight and they both exclaimed in surprise that they had not noticed me assemble it. Note: Some airlines won’t allow you to use them however this particular product does comply with FAA airline safety and compliance regulations.
4. Carry On: I have recently upgraded to a lovely rose pink satchel backpack mini (by Rains Journal) because practicality means not killing yourself dragging pretty but oversized luggage all over the globe. I simply refuse to travel without the following items in this bag and on my person, accessible at all times:

  • Chewing gum.
  • Hand Moisturizer.
  • Eucalyptus Vapour Inhaler: You will look truly unhinged but it keeps your sinuses clear before take off/landing and will help with any associated pressure.
  • Hand sanitizer & a packet of tissues: No less than ideal bathroom situation is unmanageable with these two items. Trust me!
  • Ipad or phone loaded with music and audio books: Don’t mock the audio book. Sometimes one does not want to (or cannot due to motion sickness) watch 8 hours of plane movies. When the music playlists are exhausted, the flight can suddenly feel very long. Enter Audio Books. They provide just enough entertainment that you can close your eyes and listen, if sleep evades you. They are also fantastic on long car trips. I travel every month for work and once I’ve performed all the songs to every musical in the privacy of my own vehicle, I can get a little antsy so Audio Books are my go to. I don’t recommend books with complicated story lines or shrouded in mystery if you still wish to concentrate on the road ahead! Something light and entertaining does the trick.
  • A paperback novel: I know I know….Kindles. I do purchase e-books but nothing beats an actual book.Fun Fact:Your paperback novel won’t run out of batteries.
  • A large scarf that can double as a light blanket or pillow: You will find 101 ways this accessory can come in handy when travelling.
  • Bathroom Bag: Arriving at the baggage carousel to discover your bag is not riding the merry go round is far less depressing when you have the basics on you. Toothbrush, tooth paste, rolled up underwear, face wipes etc.…. the basics will help you survive baggage catastrophe’s with at least a clean pair of knickers on and some resemblance of sanity!

5. Checked Baggage: If you prefer suitcases over backpack style luggage (which I do) I recently invested in one with four wheels, instead of two. It’s by Elle Luggage and is so cute, it instantly raises my cool factor by eleventy hundred percent. Why carry the weight of your recent shopping expedition when you can comfortably roll it beside you? You’re welcome.

So there you have it. 5 glorious quick tips from a high maintenance (but generally joyful) traveller. To share with me your tried and true products or travel hacks (which I would desperately love to hear) comment below or send me a message!

Ciao little loves xx

Diamonds Are A Girls Best Friend.

Holy Mother of Pearl. It’s been 4 months since I lasted posted.

Like any good (insert: infuriating) story, allow me to recap the entire last episode of my life for those that missed it so that we can get to the next thrilling episode in the longest most agonizing way possible.

Re-Cap in 250 words or less

The last time I posted I was tucked up on my bed in NZ, living the dream of the unemployed having spent almost 3 months convalescing, post chronic illness. I was pretty well by this point and I embarked on the daunting task of job hunting. Keep in mind that I’d been unemployed for almost 12 months & was surviving on a bit of freelance work here and there so I assumed the task was going to take time, energy and patience. The quandary was whether I sought work in NZ or home so I applied for a couple of jobs in both countries. The first job I applied for was back home. A marketing job in the tourism industry in regional Victoria. These kind of jobs don’t come up often and I’d always had a passion for tourism so I threw my hat in the ring!

To hurry this story along a little and stay true to the definition of re-cap…the next thing I knew, I was cutting my trip short by 2 weeks and flying home having secured my dream job via a Skype interview!

Home again, home again, jigity jig.

When you go through a looooong season of hardship in your personal, professional, mental or physical health, you learn a lot about yourself as an individual. When you go through hardship in every one of those area’s simultaneously, you learn some truly astonishing things. It’s the good, the bad and the ugly all rolled into one giant, messy, emotional ball of something resembling your former life.

My biggest takeaway from the last 12 months? There is a difference between challenge and struggle.

Confused? Let me break it down for you. No, I’m not going to rap. I’m literally going to break this concept down with dictionary definitions to support my theory and everything.

Challenge: Something that by its nature or character serves as a call to battle, contest, special effort; Difficulty in a job or undertaking that is stimulating to one engaged in it.

Struggle: To be coping with the inability to perform well or to win; contend with difficulty: a forceful or violent effort to get free of restraint or resist attack.

My pattern in life has been to equate struggle with challenge. Example: When I’m faced with, let’s say a challenge in my relationships, I struggle through because the internal dialogue is strong. “What is the right thing here, what should I be doing, how should I be reacting, did I do that right, I stuffed that up, why am I struggling at all, what did I do wrong, that’s probably my fault”…. you get the picture.

What was an ordinary challenge or life hurdle – something that would take a bit of ‘special effort’ on my part to overcome, becomes ‘the inability to perform well or to win’ because I don’t like to fail. It takes ‘forceful & violent effort’ to proceed because I’ve applied a sense ‘not winning/not getting it right’ and whirled myself right on down the rabbit hole.

The truth is, there is nothing wrong with challenge. There is actually nothing wrong with a bit of stress or pressure. We all know the story about how diamonds are made.  Heat and pressure. How we react to that challenge, to the heat and pressure, is very telling and strongly determines the outcome.

How did I start to affect this change? I’m so glad you asked, faithful few that didn’t check out at the re-cap.

(Note: This advice is coming from a completely unqualified individual with zero professional understanding of the subject matter, so please go right ahead and quote brazenly & liberally from this blog post with confidence as to it’s legitimacy…)

For starters I’ve stopped using the word ‘Struggle’ where I can. I’m working on not applying a negative connotation to a normal life situation or a challenge that can be overcome. Let me number off the rest of my excellent pearls of wisdom:

  1. Make a conscious decision to not entertain any destructive narrative bombarding your brain. Finding a way to process and deal with the internal dialogue, so that you don’t drive yourself insane, is an important factor in moving forward. Personally, I wrote things down. All the fears, anxieties, questions that would keep me up at night, problems with no apparent solutions – I wrote them all down, I placed my hand on the page and I earnestly committed it all to my heavenly Father. Then I firmly closed my journal & refused to entertain the narrative any further. I did this every day as a way of learning to not borrow trouble because I’m a worrier. I’m an over-thinker and it gets me into trouble! I forced myself to find every positive and good thing and I dwelt on that. It’s not about blindly giving yourself over to something with mindless positivity – it’s about re-training your mind. What we dwell on affects our brains, our emotions and even our general health & well-being.
  2. The gift of choice is a powerful thing. Engage it and use it. I’m hesitant to say this but….some people are addicted to drama. They live in a heightened state of emotion, intensity and ultimately, confusion. You need to start activating your God given will and remove yourself from such situations. It is not healthy and it will not help you grow or move forward. If this is not you but there are people around you that live in this constant state, you need to take a step back and find some calm. Things in life happen to cause upset, anxiety, stress, fear, hurt and grief but they are events that pass with time and our hearts and minds have the capacity to heal. It’s not a lifestyle. Go back to step one if you need help to quiet your mind! Find an activity or outlet such as running, dancing, boxing, walking, prayer, driving around in your car with the music blaring – anything that is a healthy outlet for you to release stress & pressure. Diamonds don’t stay in the heat & pressure forever. After intense heat & pressure they are rushed to the earth’s surface to cool. This step is just as important as the heating and the pressure!
  3. Actively work on & invest in your relationships. Thinking outside of yourself and giving energy to something or someone other than what is going on in your life will fast track growth and healing. I have no scientific fact to prove this but I know it to be true! We can be so self-centered and consumed by our own circumstances. Do we really know what is going on in the lives of the people around us? What is it that you have or that is within you that you can share with another to enrich their life or make their life a little easier? Be the answer for someone else! Be the support network, the friend and confidant that you would want in a time of need. Which leads me to my last point…
  4. To despise yourself and who you are is a luxury that you just can’t afford if you truly want change. You were made with intent, on purpose, by an ever loving Creator who doesn’t make mistakes. We all have something to offer and give in this lifetime. Peeling back the layers that can set hard around our hearts over time, who are you at the core of your being? Don’t let people, or the hardships that life sometimes presents, tell you that you are to hard, incapable of change, that it’s to late or that you will never be enough. That is not who you are and it’s a narrative that needs to change and that CAN change.

You have the capacity to make a fresh start. You have the ability to forgive and let go of the past. You absolutely can make good life choices that will set you on the path to recovery and purpose so go for it!! I believe in you, I truly do!

My final thought? Upon reflection, it just might be true after all that diamonds are a girls best friend. (Note to reader: All offers of diamonds to symbolize the truth of this post will be humbly and gratefully accepted.)

Ciao my little loves x

Red Sky in the Morning…

New year, new blog post! **Insert obligatory well wishes here**

Settled down indoors amongst a wealth of cushions, because Wellington has rained for 3 days straight now, I started flicking through my 2016 journal. I’m a believer in journaling and getting down your thoughts, feelings, fears, frustrations, joys and ramblings. It’s like this blog but way more private & humiliating when you read back over it.

I’m going to stray from my usual format and share with you a page from my journal. Did you just sit up in eager anticipation? Sit back down, first I’m going to cast your minds back to 3 weeks ago when I landed here in Windy Welly…..

What I didn’t share with you all was that I arrived on my friends doorstep on the 10th Dec, sunburnt and recovering from a severe case of Ross River Fever. For the month prior I had come to a complete standstill after being bitten by a mosquito carrying the virus. I don’t remember being bitten, just a vague awareness that my arms were achy and I was exhausted for a fortnight in the lead up to my Grandpa’s funeral. It had been a big year and the 8 weeks prior to this had been intense as I supported a very sick friend. I dismissed it as tiredness and grief but took some time out after the funeral to sleep and refresh. Instead of refreshing, I woke up 3 days later barely able to move. My joints were so swollen I couldn’t get any of my rings past my knuckles. My wrists & elbows ached constantly and my shoulders clicked and grated with every movement. It was like I had aged overnight and I walked with slow and painful steps, my feet ballooning to the point that most of my shoes suddenly didn’t fit. For 10 days I clasped my wrists in despair, lathered my body in deep heat and popped pain killers that failed to take the edge off. Then I broke out in a rash that left my feet and ankles looking like fat rolls of Salami. Test after test came back clear and apart from a high inflammation count and a sluggish liver, I was healthy. The Doctor put it down to stress. I had after all, had an overwhelming couple of months and just lost my 2nd job that year. I was mortified that my body was reacting in such a way to stress and vowed to take better care of myself. I cancelled all my plans & responsibilities and with the help of friends and family, the pre-planned trip to New Zealand was hurriedly brought forward.

Slowly I began to feel better and though solid sleep still eluded me, the aches and pains ceased and I began to regain the use of my hands and feet without moving like I was an 88 year old woman.

The Friday before I flew out the Doctor rang, my Ross River Tests were finally in and I’d tested positive. I had no idea what it was so after a phone consultation I jumped online and researched the symptoms. It was exactly what I’d been experiencing and a sense of relief flooded my being. I know you aren’t meant to feel that way when you hear you’ve been sick but there was a reason I’d been unwell and I would get better. A month in and I was recovering just fine.

Not 24 hours after I arrived in Wellington I came down with a bout of Gastro. Not only had I arrived at my friends with the residual effects of a mosquito born disease, now I was violently throwing up and doing “other things” in her toilet. In the midst of it I remember praying that as I ‘purged’ every bug, infection, virus and disease would go with it. I’ve slept like the dead ever since and every morning I wake up with an intense sense of relief that my body is mending and healing.

So as I sit here reading my journal and reflecting on the past 12 months, I can see remnants of my despair leap off the pages. Yet one page captures my attention. I think it must have been written after I’d spent some time in prayer that day. I haven’t edited or embellished, I want to be true to what I wrote in that moment.

Tues 25th Oct 2016

When you let go of the need to control other people’s responses, you set them free and self free. Resentment cannot build because you have released them from your own obligations.

He is teaching you to lift your eyes and navigate the storm. It’s not clicking because all you see is the damage from the storm. Keep your eyes and heart set on course. If you navigate by the storm then you will end up FAR off course. Follow the compass, follow the pattern, follow the set path. Trust HE will bring you AND others through.

The seasons surely change. They always change in God. Always.

You are not alone in the boat.

I don’t want to over explain or elaborate. I think that you, dear reader, can reflect on this or take it with a grain of salt as you wish.

I will leave you with this – heading into 2017, you are not alone in the boat. We can fight against the waves, we can loose our way and get knocked off course but days of calm and rest are coming where the wind will be at your back and it will push you into the next season of your life. You won’t be in the eye of the storm forever because the seasons surely change. They always change in God. Always.

Until next month!

Kath x

A Tale of Two Cities. Named Wellington.

“Can I have another Shiraz?” the lady squished into the window seat yells over me to the passing Air Hostess. She has her head phones on and doesn’t realise just how loud she is talking. It’s a tight squeeze. Shiraz, let’s call her Shaz, is to my left and a lovely lady carrying two inappropriately ginormous cane baskets along with her handbag is to my right in the aisle seat. She sheepishly explains that her Aunt gave them to her and she now has to lug them across the country. I’m squished in the middle of row 30, the very last row on the plane, and we are feeling every bump and air pocket. Between the three of us, we look a little eccentric because I am chewing gum at a rate of knots with bright blue earplugs poking out of my ears, a travel pillow oddly tucked under my chin. I’ve taken a travel sickness tablet so I keep drifting off to sleep and then jolting awake as my head nods to the left or right. The jolt is accompanied by a kind of sharp intake of breath, sometimes a little snore/snort. It’s classy and attractive and no wonder Shaz is on her third bottle of wine.

15 minutes out from Wellington New Zealand and we hit turbulence. The plane drops, rattles and shakes for minutes on end as we make our descent. Shaz has just poured her bottle into a plastic cup and is desperately trying to preserve every last drop. It’s not working. Row 30 looks like a crime scene. Red Wine is literally leaping out of her cup, down the side of the plane and all over her legs. It’s like the cup is bottomless. I don’t know where all the liquid is coming from. It’s a magical plastic cup of wine that keeps refilling and spilling. Chewing furiously on my gum I watch wide eyed as she lifts the cup to her lips. I’ve pulled my legs as far away from her as possible and I’m leaning in to Basket Lady who is calmly watching a movie. She hasn’t blinked an eyelid as we lurch and roll. She is almost Zen like. A calm, zen, delightful, basket carrying lady who either doesn’t mind or hasn’t noticed the drama unfolding next to her nor the fact that I’m almost in her lap.

Red Wine drips down the chin of Shaz as she attempts several large gulps.The plane takes another dip and her cup is finally and gloriously emptied. It’s like an ‘I Love Lucy’ sketch. She is remarkably unaware of how comical it is to watch her mop up the side of the plane with a dripping wet serviette. She unexpectedly looks over and smiles, giving herself a pat on the back for not getting a single drop on me. I haven’t realised until this point that her desperate attempts to scull were with my white loafers in mind and I’m deeply thankful for her selfless act and a little bit sorry I didn’t offer her a wet wipe that I remembered a little to late that I was carrying.

So here I am. In Wellington New Zealand for the next 12 weeks instead of Wellington Shire Australia. Freelancing, blogging, refreshing and embarking on my own version of ‘Wild’ or ‘Eat Pray Love’ (a book I hated with intensity) and on kind of a journey of self discovery. Actually scratch that. It’s more of a journey of God Discovery. Taking a breath and re-tuning my heart to hear from my ever loving Creator. I’ll keep you posted on said discoveries…

Ciao xx

Or if you’re reading this Shaz…Cheers!