falling in love with New Zealand all over again

back in 2004 when i travelled the South Island i thought to myself, 'i will be back and maybe one day i will live here.' seven years later i met my kiwi husband in Istanbul and moved to Australia. we decided to visit family in Picton for a long weekend and leaving was tough. the pristine views, the crisp air, uninterrupted landscape and the warm sweet happy people, we thought some day we will live here. the dream was not my own any longer.

we  flew to Christchurch and drove to Picton via Hamner Springs. Christchurch is going through a major transformation and we just had to work around the traffic management which drove google maps nuts. the kiwi humour did not go unnoticed. traffic blocks in the form of sheep made me laugh. Hamner Springs was gorgeous with its foggy hills and tightly knit community. at Picton we took our uncle's sailing boat to the Marlborough Sounds. i said i wanted to see dolphins and no kidding a few minutes later 20 some dolphins showed up puffing through their blowholes. next we see penguins swimming. we had dinner at The Bay of Many Coves and when walking back to the boat met up with a seal swimming under the pier. the wonders were endless. watching the stars and the milky way on the way back was mesmerising.


hello 40!

it has been a full go go go kind of year as i edged towards my 40th. we moved to a slightly bigger house, my job took on more responsibilities, made new friends and managed to take a four week break. it had been two years since our last vacation and Stu’s idea to split it into two was magnificent. we visited family and friends in Turkey for two weeks and ended it with a week in Thailand on Railei beach. Railei beach is divinely serene. for days we watched squirrels jump from palm tree to tree. we woke up to the sound of gibbon monkeys singing their call :)

being a yoga instructor for years and being connected to my body i was surprised about how much time it took for me to relax during our holiday. just allowing my mind to rest, allowing myself to nap whenever I felt like it, allowing myself to float and not feel the self-pressure of ‘tread to burn calories’ kind of self-talk was absolutely liberating. it was week three when my self-talk changed to ‘relax and just be’. i read books like ‘Memoirs of an imaginary friend’, ‘A street cat named Bob’ which made me cry from wonder and ‘Post Office’ a hilarious book by Charles Bukowski. my 40th was quiet with Stu- a Thai dinner on the back deck under gorgeous trees with the sound of waves in the distance.

i think my 40s are going to be a different kind of intensity. it will be about being kind and being truthful to myself. i do both but not enough i think, often i was mixing up the two and my path was getting fuzzy. i was softening truths to hurt less- myself and others, and sometimes it is simpler to just speak the truth and have a good chat. 


expressing love through mail

we received the sweetest christmas card from Stu's nephew a few days ago.  Isaac had designed it himself. i was so  moved upon receiving it that i had a moment of enlightenment. the feeling i had was exactly why i wrote postcards and cards all year. the end of the year postcards that Stu and i wrote was my highlight each time. 

i cannot remember when i first wrote a card and to whom but i reckon it was the mandatory new year's cards that was sent to relatives in Turkey when we were living in Pakistan. i must have been six i think, my earliest memory of cursive concentrated script to grandmother, aunts and uncles was around that time. and we always received something in return. my father grilled us to make sure we had done our part in keeping in touch and wishing everyone well. i lived apart from loved ones back then and i still do. and this was the only efficient way i knew how to send and show my love.

since Stu and i have been together we have produced a postcard every year. it started with our wedding ceremony cards. the fact that we designed them together and the ones that followed were effortless just made me happier. friends who received it in different corners of the world were happy as well i am sure..

there are days i think that if i were to disappear from the face of the earth right now what would i have impacted? and i always feel sending love through the sky to someone's front door is the best way i know how to say i miss and love them.


Hot Seat audition

i did not watch television between 1995- 2012. it was unnecessary. i watched a few popular shows with friends in their homes, Seinfeld on  video back in the day and sometimes did an Avatar marathon on my computer. it was not until Darwin and slow living that got me started on watching television seriously. i developed new habits like answering quizzes with Stu on Saturday mornings and answering more questions on quiz shows after work to wind down. i started liking what i saw on Hot Seat.

people who came on Hot Seat were normal ordinary folks. some walked away not knowing what hit them after just answering what they did not even know. the unpredictability of it thrilled me. each time someone won i cried. i was really happy for them. and this past April after we moved to Melbourne, i decided to apply online.

just a few weeks i received an email saying i was invited to the audition. it was the week of the moon eclipse as well. my heart beat fast for a good three hours. the producers were hilarious. they set the expectations for sure. they said, 'when you walk away from here forget about us; we may call you in two weeks or in two years or never, just never call us.' they said we were chosen out 25,000 people.

cool. 200 some people packed into an auditorium, 30 questions asked Hot Seat style, an hour later we had been separated from the ones who did not get great scores. i was in a group of 40, we had a minute to talk about ourselves in front of the camera and leave. that was it. i watched everyone in the room be funny, sweet, humble, odd and interesting. there was one lady who talked about her pap smear. that was eye opening. there was two people who were going to Everest base camp. i looked it up, they were not in the avalanche thank goodness. there were older folks with really "wow" lives. i waited and waited. there were only two casting directors and me left in the room when i was called. i was still nervous. i had made notes in my paper of story options i could use and i  had to give the paper away (!) because they wanted my score sheet. i wasn't called because i hadn't given them my score sheet :/ i  was in the restroom at the time they gave instructions.

anyway with a light on my face, lens directed at me and two pairs of eyes watching i told them a story of my time at camp. when i gave therapy to troubled kids in a wilderness therapy program. a tiny kid half my size attacked another girl and when i went to restrain her she bit me. and since then when i watch vampire movies i always have something at the back of my mind that whispers 'i will never be bit again!'

the casting director was not expecting that. i  heard a guffaw. and i left. yup that was it. it was the best Melbourne 'human experience' thus far. i put the kookaburras, koalas and red kangaroos into my 'mind blown non-human experience'. Hot Seat audition was mega fun and different. since it was the eclipse i hope i get news in a month or in a year as that is how eclipses work. otherwise i will never forget it either way.


let it go by biking around Albert Park and watching butterflies

biking in a city is daunting so we started small. cruising around the streets of South Melbourne and Albert Park is the best way to spend a sunny spring morning. we started at the Chinese temple on Raglan street, through gorgeous trees and homes of Albert Park and stopped for a coffee at the beach. people were walking with their pups and bubs. i saw a guy in the water and could not believe it. a yummy coffee whilst sitting near at the harbor was divine. we continued towards the quaint shops and cafes in Albert Park. i had a chat with a fellow vintage bike owner whose bike was bright yellow. she loved my pink bike. we connected talking about how tough it is  to get a cute basket for our bikes.

i haven't felt this free in months. work has been intense. we have had guests over in our new loft bed! more pictures of  the loft bed in the next post. with the sun finally out and the butterflies fluttering in our garden i am feeling like Melbourne is ready to be explored. letting go is definitely easier when i bike in the sunshine.


a few hours away from Melbourne

i did my first one day road trip in Victoria! there is quite a bit to explore in this wonderful state. an hour out of Melbourne there is an immediate freedom of space and sky. my friend Liza is off to London to reunite with her partner and bring him back to Australia in the next two years. we went on a day's drive to the dairy world beyond Bendigo. the farms and boundless fields started as soon as we left Melbourne. the drive was great. it rained most of the way but it was still lovely. and Melbourne weather changes every hour. it was sunny skies when we came back by train.

we stopped at Shamrock hotel for a coffee. i loved it. i felt like i had entered a time warp and i had fund myself in the 19th century. apparently Bendigo was a gold mining town and it showed. the statues in every other corner,  the lacy buildings and wide roads did not feel like the usual small town. there was a tiny little tram i saw trundling down a street which i thought was very cute.

then off we went to a dairy farm in Leitchville. i had never been to one before. 200 cows get milked every morning! we had the tastiest tea with that milk... They had one chubby goat called Reid.
he was adorable. he was munching on some grass when we were walking towards him, i called out his name and he looked up! we hung out with him, did some yoga and got ready to head back to Melbourne by train. only a two hour train ride from Bendigo and voila we were back in the city. the Victorian countryside is very soothing. i slept like a baby goat that night.


my purpose in life

i send my job applications before lunch everyday, it is the time i am most alert. i get rejections before end of business day from places i applied to in the previous weeks. i go out to my veggie garden to check on progress of my peas, spinach and cauliflower plants. looking good! the carrots have been slow to peek out. my succulents have been happy. there is new growth in parts that i thought were dead. i saw these child pods and i was thrilled!

small victories. and yet the part where i see no movement in my bank account absolutely wrecks me. i pondered over that. this is what i did.

i called a few hospitals to see if they were interested in having a yoga instructor volunteer in their recovery wards. they were not. next day i went for a short run and noticed there was an aged care facility one street away from mine and i walked in there. a week later i had become a yoga volunteer. i was finally at a place where i could contribute. i was nervous. i had given classes to younger patients but not as old as 90. they all look fabulous and cute- the ladies had their lipstick on and  the men were looking smart.

the class made me sweat. we did the bee breath which they loved. they giggled. we did stretches and asanas on our armchairs. we did mudras. there were couple of rebels at the back yelling how stupid all this was but you know what? by the end of class the Oms we chanted had calmed everyone. there was a sweet stillness in that lounge.

that was the moment i knew that i was fine. good intentions are powerful and whatever purpose one walks with is the meaning we aimlessly search for. the key is to not drown in human emotion but to stick to the purpose. there are mornings i feel helpless and hopeless. i feel that emotion completely until i cannot breathe and then with one internal voice i will my thoughts to my purpose. it brings me back to living. it brings me back to talking to my plants. it pushes me forward to find my path in this new city.