Category Archives: Thoughts & Opinions

Thoughts on Change and Evaluation

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Just outside my window are two very large trees. They provide shade and colour and a home for the unnaturally loud flock of cockatoos who seem to have taken up residence there. These trees have been here as long as the house, perhaps even longer. The life force in these trees is strong. I look out at them when I awake in the morning, when I do my sun salutations, when I pause while writing at my desk.

But April has arrived, and soon the green leaves will slowly turn yellow, then a brilliant shade of orange, and eventually into a deep red. They will fall on the gentle breeze that blows through the valley here, and everyday I will sweep them up until there are none left to fall. Change happens continuously, no matter what you’re doing.

Whether it be rhythmic like the turning of the seasons or violent like a thunderstorm, change is inevitable. We learn and grow and change through our environments and our experiences. And I have returned to Sydney — the city I was born and raised in – and being home has shown me just how much I have grown within, even if my external features have not altered. I have become more quiet, more observant, more reflective than the version of me who left here all almost eight years ago. I have developed the resilience I always had in far-reaching ways. I have battled bureaucracy, injustice and hardships, and learned from my mistakes. I have seen and lived and loved. Travel has shaped me in ways I struggle to fully comprehend.

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From where I am standing, Sydney looks refreshing, inviting and unafraid to show her true nature. She knows I will tire of her easily and she’s accepting of that. She helps me recharge. I always return.  But this time it feels different. I don’t understand the particulars of why or how or what, but I feel as though I am on the precipice of something… big? Momentous? Different? I’m not sure. But the winds of change have brought me back to Sydney for a reason. And I am trying to interpret what it’s whispering to me. A few weeks ago, I read ‘The Alchemist’. The lessons have stayed with me, even if I was not truly inspired by the writing. I now understand why certain people recommended it to me.

“[M]aking a decision was only the beginning of things. When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision.”
– Paulo Coelho, ‘The Alchemist’

I made a choice to travel, to embrace the unknown. I sought a different life from the traditional model laid before me, one full of adventure. And when wrapping up these past seven and a bit years, I see I have done that. I had no idea that I would develop a connection far greater than I ever imagined to San Francisco. Or that I would come to understand how much sunshine means to my health after living in the rainy and permanently overcast west of Ireland. Or that I could manage to travel alone throughout Eastern Europe, at my own pace and on my own steam. Or that I’d experience first hand the impact a piece of art would have on me at the National Gallery in London: the Execution of Lady Jane Grey. Finding a small town in New Zealand to show me how to slow down and appreciate the elements central to life: love, family, food and time. That my time in South East Asia would be so colourful and so varied, ultimately reaffirming my need for distance. Or that I would move to Chicago on a whim and find that it would influence me more than I imagined. Already, I’ve lived some great adventures. I wonder what comes next?

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I am starting to view my life less as a series of planned adventures and more as a path, a journey with twists and turns and unexpected hiccups and fortuitous events. And even though I haven’t changed on the outside, I’ve done a hell of a lot of growing on the inside. There’s still plenty more to do, but I can’t help but smile at myself when I think about all I have already accomplished, and all that I am on the cusp of achieving. Here’s to plenty more adventures – both home and abroad.

Photo Friday: Inner Sunset, SF

“I’M HURDLING LIKE THE OCEAN TOWARDS YOU”.

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I was wandering around the Inner Sunset last June, when I stumbled upon this, a beautiful piece of art by Alphonzo Solorzano It was prominently displayed in the window of a small business just off Judah and framed by heavy, deep blue curtains.

But this moment and the visual stayed with me: ‘hurdling’ with a sense of urgency, a flurry of tremendous activity covering vast distances like the Pacific. I’ve spent countless hours searching the waves for signs, for comfort, for change. I’ve been in, on, under and above it. But most of all, I need to be near it. My various current ‘lives’ are connected by an ocean.

Whilst I see me in the physical reflection of the photo, it’s the words that echo the way I live my life — bouncing between two worlds. Hurdling, if you will. Those words for me also encompass all that I experience: hurt, happiness, homesickness, alienation, joy. Hurdling with a fearlessness masking the anxiety of fear, but it’s a hurdle I will always take for the adventurous spirit trumps inertia.

I’m hurdling like the ocean towards my life

YES!

This is how I feel right now, after submitting my final paper this afternoon:

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Just like Tracy Flick in Election. Well, kinda.

Tomorrow, I plan to sleep in, go for a long run and spend the rest of the day curled up on the lounge outside reading. For fun. 

Enjoy your weekend!

Three Things #3

#1: I am almost finished the classes I’ve been taking. I’m almost there, almost done. Almost. Seeing my dwindling ‘to do’ list is empowering. 

I’ve been on a self-imposed exile whilst I’ve been attending to this. It’s the only way I’ve been able to get the shit done. The highlights of my weeks are going for a run around the neighbourhood every few days, and to the supermarket once a week. Simple (and rather monotonous), but it’s keeping me accountable. 

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I can’t wait to have my days back, my nights. I have made a list of all the things I want to do when I finish up, and naturally, all at once!  Taking pottery classes, getting a tarot card reading, riding my bike to the airport and watching every Wes Anderson film in order before his new film ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ is previewed at the Dendy at the end of March.  

I’ll be celebrating wrapping things up by seeing some comedy this Friday night. I was lucky enough to score some tickets to see Wil Anderson work on some new material and next week, I’m off to see Darren Hanlon (finally! It’s been far too long) in one his small, intimate shows. It’s what’s getting me through these last few days.

And just know that if I owe you an email, you’ll be hearing from me after I’ve had a big, long sleep!

#2: Dear Kate is an example of the type of female-run business I love to support. The woman behind the brand, Julie, is a chemical engineer, and she’s come up with a product that will reinvent the way you look at undies. They’re made from specially designed fabric that’s machine washable, stain resistant and take care of any unexpected overflow from your period. What a great idea!

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They’re not cheap, but they sound like they’re worth it.

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#3: Digging the French pop of Yelle and Coeur de Pirate right now.

Procrastination

Today, I started my day with a series of sun salutations.
Made myself a fancy breakfast.
Checked stuff online.
Vacuumed.
Tracked a package due to arrive from overseas.
Made a doctor’s appointment.
Went for a run.
Showered, changed.
Learnt how to make hard-boiled eggs.
Went for a drive to the store.
Bought a bin for recycling.
Found agave and purchased some groceries.
Burnt some incense (that my sister claims smells like kennel. Hmmmmm…).
And made my very own sunflower seed butter.
Procrastination, much?

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Where the Forest Meets the Lake Meets the Sea

It took less than two hours from the time I touched down at Sydney’s Kingsford Smith Airport to the time we were packed and in the car, headed down the coast to Lake Conjola. I shook off the Chicago winter, popped on my thongs/flip-flops and threw myself into the southern hemisphere summer. IMG_1994A IMG_1997A It’s a part of the world where the forest meets the lake meets the sea. You can see how much the trees have grown since I last took a photo from the above spot, too. Another reminder that time has moved on here whilst I’ve been gone. IMG_2001A IMG_2003 When you find yourself in sunshine this bright, it makes the past — and the present — feel like a dream. Was I ever in Chicago? Was it a regular -12C only a day or two ago?  Now my legs are being whipped by a refreshing southerly. I emerge from the cool blue waters of the Tasman Sea refreshed, reenergised.

For me, homesickness can only be cured by a trip back. And a big part of returning is soaking up the colours that I only seem to be able to find in Australia: the infinite blue skies, the spectrum of greens in the flora, the pinky tinge to the Sydney sunlight, the blues-greens-and-inbetweens of the ocean. These colours, this salty air and Mediterranean food recharges my spirit.  IMG_1998A IMG_2004AIMG_2002a

It’s great to be back.