I See Beyond The Road I’m Driving

Ok…so two days, and one hour late on posting but I come bearing excellent news!

After a VERY long, and VERY expensive journey, I received news today that I have been granted my Partner Visa!!  I think I read, and re-read, the email at least 10 times. It still feels incredibly surreal.

It has taken me a long time to find my person, and the fact that he is half way around the world makes things a little a lot more complicated, but I am incredibly excited…anxious, scared, nervous…to get this chapter of my life started. In just one month we will be able to wake up next to each other, have actual face to face conversations and discussions and won’t have to wait months to see each other any more.  It has taken us over 5 years to get to this point and I can’t wait for February!

So much work has gone into this outcome and there is no possible amount of thanks that is big enough to give those who have given up their time, money and energy into helping us to get this point.  Every single person who has helped us, encouraged us or supported us in anyway, please know that Simon and I will be forever grateful and we thank each and every one of you.

It is real now.  I will be selling my house, shipping what is left of my little life here in Canada and will be moving halfway around the world to small town NSW/Victoria Australia.  I will be leaving my job, my family and my friends here (which I still don’t allow myself to think about because…well, it hurts too much) and will be joining my new Australian family and friends in my new home and at my new (old?!) job.  I cannot express how blessed I am to have so much love in two places. Honestly it is overwhelming and something that I really need to sit with and absorb.

Here’s to new beginnings, no matter how old you are! Now start saving…we’ve got plenty of room for visitors!

~Hugs and Love~

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Eyes Completely Open But Nervous Just The Same

Happy 2017!

Well, it’s the start of a brand new year…a year, in particular, where there is a lot of change ahead for me.

I’m selling my home and condensing my life down to three suitcases, a couple of boxes and three dressers.  All with the goal of moving half way around the world from Canada to Australia.

Big. Change.

I started this blog to document my first trip (and all the consecutive trips) to Australia and am I’m happy that I have kept it as a place to continue to share all the highs and lows of having a long distance relationship and the consequences that come because of it.

With the start of this new year I have decided to put some more effort into this space and use it for a few different topics. I want to talk about the trials of moving around the world for someone, to update friends and family when I do move and I also want it to be a place to share in my experiences as a Canadian in Australia.

With that said, I also want to spend some time writing on lifestyle, food and beauty. It’s not going to be glamorous by any means but with all that is to come there will be change in all those categories for me as well. It will also give me a chance to work my creative side of my brain a bit more which has fast become a goal of mine for 2017.

I’m really looking forward to what is ahead for me, both personally and through this space, and I am grateful to have you along for the ride as well!

~Hugs and Love~

 

Don’t Look Down When You Cross

I have had one incredible summer.

Full of travel, family, and friends.

But also full of change.

While driving to visit a friend the other day I had a moment of clarity; when it really sunk in that my entire life is about to change.

It is currently the dying days of summer in Canada and my Country is green and lush and everything I love about it.  It was while driving down a gorgeous country road when I realized just exactly what I’ll be saying goodbye to in less than a year: of course my family and friends but also fresh water lakes as big as seas, birds with songs you could listen to for hours, and green forests so dense there is no need for sunglasses when exploring them.

After a summer so full of adventure, to be jolted back to the reality of the change that lies ahead really took me aback.

For those who don’t know my situation, my partner lives in Australia and for our lives to move forward together it makes the most sense for me to move there.  While I am incredibly happy and excited for this new chapter, and have the most wonderful family and friends to welcome me there, I’m also finding myself having to deal with the reality of saying goodbye to my comfortable life here.  I have been on my own for a VERY long time and have a very strong independent sense of self and it would be false to say that I’m not sad about the thought of leaving behind the life I’ve made here.

I’m uncertain why I felt the need to write about my sadness…I got so overwhelmed on that drive and felt I just needed to make it real.  It’s such a strange thing, to feel so many conflicting emotions all at once; happy, sad, excited, nervous.  I know this won’t be the last time I feel sad, or write about being sad (there are goodbyes to be had and packing up to be done) but there is also so much happiness and sunshine to come and I CANNOT WAIT to write about all of that!  Plus…winter is coming, and come the middle of February when it’s still -20C I know I won’t be feeling so nostalgic for my gorgeous Country then.

Until the next time…hug those you love and tell them how much they mean to you…and watch a little Jack

~ Hugs and Love ~

Follow The Path Of A Butterfly

I’ve just come home from booking my flight back out to Australia and I thought I would update on one of my “dream come true” trips I had taken whilst out there this past year.

For as long as I can remember visiting the Great Barrier Reef had been on the top of my Bucket list…I also remember when I was a young teenager looking at a map of Australia and planning a trip to Queensland and wanting to get to Dunk Island (my last name is Duncan after all…)

Well, in September of 2014 my dreams came true.

A big trip up to far north Queensland saw me being successful at ticking two huge events off my list.

With the temperatures feeling, yet again, like -35 degrees celsius, I thought I would share some pictures from my trip and, selfishly use them to help get me pumped for my return back to Australia (I know…I really don’t need any extra reason to get pumped)

Again, it was a trip of a lifetime and I’m so incredibly blessed.

~ Hugs and Love ~

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Rolled a Lucky Pair of Dice

It’s hard to believe that a year has past.

12 months ago I was manic with packing my life away, settling things at work and emotionally prepping to live away from all that I knew for an entire year.

And now it’s over.

And I have changed.

I don’t really know where I want to go with this post…I haven’t set time aside for a long time to put the thoughts in my head down on paper…but I feel like my journey deserves recognition.  There is not a lot in my life I’d say I’m proud of myself for…many things I’m extremely happy about but pride never really fits with me.  I think it’s probably because of my quiet personality and my own weird issue that if someone feels proud about themselves its a bit too showy (but I don’t feel that way when others say they are proud of themselves…my own silly issue).  It’s funny because I feel proud for so many of my loved ones but don’t really allow it within myself.

Until 2014.

I took a huge gamble in March of 2013 when I applied for a teaching exchange to Australia and to say it worked out well is an understatement.  I packed up my life, said goodbyes to my family and friends (and my final goodbye to my dog) and sorted out my last few days of work and then shipped myself off to the unknown…granted, I knew a few people in town before going, but it still is quite a daunting adventure.

Everything was new.  New house, new job, new town, and (having to make) new friends.  I’m almost 40…you don’t really make new friends when you’re almost 40!!  And, with being an introvert, this was one of the scariest things I was faced with.

The main reason I wanted to do an exchange was to get out of the funk I was feeling at work.  Teaching, for me, had become too routine.  I needed a bit of a challenge and I know I needed to grow professionally.  In Australia I was thrown into a system I knew nothing about (still aspects of it I don’t totally understand) but instantly fell in love.  My new work colleagues fit nicely into my life and it was just “easy”….the work aspect was hard, and for the first month my head was spinning with all the differences and changes, but in terms of who I was working with…it was eerily easy.

I just fit.

A year later and what I have come away from all of this with, besides saying ‘reckon’, is such a greater sense of self.  In all aspects.  It’s funny because just a few days after my arrival home I ran into a friend at the supermarket and he asked “well did you find yourself?!”…a question I didn’t really think I needed to be focused on during my exchange…but has been, in the end, what it was all about and one of the greatest gifts this journey has given me.

I know now, more than ever, who I am, what’s important to me and where I belong.  I have realised that for the past ten years I have been living a life that is not true to me, my heart or soul…but boy am I excited to start!

And that is something to be proud of.

May you all live a life that is true to your soul.

Happy New Year!!!

~ Hugs and love ~

 

Bright Lights

A lot has happened since my last post…another Term has finished at school (now almost two full terms!) and I have a few other Aussie adventures under my belt.  However for this post I want to focus on just one of those.

A little background:  Just over three years ago I met the reason why I have fallen in love with Australia so much…now to clarify I have always had a desire to visit Australia (it was a constant #1 on my list even as I got older and my travel wishes changed) but I was given an actual opportunity to visit after a chance meeting in March 2011.  I was in Vegas and met a couple of Aussie blokes…now as the saying goes (“what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”) I won’t go into detail but the end result was that I kept in contact and eventually made my way over to visit the land down under and was fortunate to see it less as a tourist and more as a true Aussie.

I actually visited a couple of times from July to August 2011 and eventually living here for a trial period in 2012…but my first trip out was the most memorable for so many reasons.  One of these reasons being the first little town I visited…the little alpine town of Bright, in the state of Victoria…

I instantly fell in love.  It was winter so it was cold (pfft..cold) but the sun was out and the town was cozy.  We stayed in a fantastically cool accommodation called The Odd Frog which gave us a beautiful view of the country side…in a split second I felt like I was home…not the Australia I had always thought of (beaches and surfing…).  This was true Victorian country and it was beautiful.

To celebrate an anniversary of sorts, SG and I booked in again three years to the date of our first visit.  We stayed in the same Studio and enjoyed exploring the town I fell in love with (and yes, it was cold…much colder than the last time we visited…minus three in the mornings!!)

Anyway…here are some pictures of that adventure!

Who knows…maybe three years from now we will be able to celebrate again…

Thanks for reading!

~ Hugs and Love ~

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Hello!!
Our backyard friends
Our backyard friends
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If Everybody Had An Ocean

I love surfers.

I love everything about them and their culture and sport.  My trip to Western Australia brought me back to my teenage years when all I wanted was to live by the beach and be in the water everyday….who am I kidding…I still want that.

I have a thing for surfing.  Which is weird because I’m from Canada…not the coast where there is a potential for surfing, but from Ontario…the part of Canada no where close to an ocean, or even to waves remotely surf-able.  I think my love for it all came from my summers being spent at Sauble Beach….closest thing to an ocean Ontario would get.  I had pictures of surfers, beaches and the ocean on my walls of my bedroom at my cottage and imagined having little blonde surfer babies when I grew up.

It’s amazing how some hopes and dreams get bogged down as you get older and how it only takes one moment for all of those past dreams to come flooding back.

The first round of holidays here in Australia have just come and gone and during them I took a trip to Western Australia…in particular to Perth with a few day trips centred from there.  We took a trip down to Margaret River and as soon as arriving in the little town I knew I would love it.  We explored around a little bit and the eventually found our “resort”…which was actually a little surfers hostel just across the road from the beach.  As it turns out Margaret River was hosting a surfing competition for the week/weekend that we were there…unfortunately there was no surfing going on the day we arrived but we could still walk around the venue…and there were a few surfers out in the water.  I spent a good amount of time snapping pictures and just enjoying the peace that a beach and ocean give me.

After Margaret River (and a bout of Gastro that Simon had to endure) we drove back to the city and I explored while Simon recovered.  The next day we took a ferry to Rottnest Island and explored by bike and rented some snorkel gear.  We also signed up for a trip out on a boat to find some off island snorkelling areas.  When we got to the destination our guide mentioned that there was an Australian Sea Lion sighted and that we might have a chance to see him in the water…well my animal loving eyes found him straight away and off we went into the water to play and swim with him.  Seriously one of the most amazing moments of my life…I could have reached out and touched him, that’s how close I was.  Unbelievable.

After our adventure across the island it was back to Perth on the ferry and my turn for Gastro.  Awesome.  My last day on vacation in Western Australia was spent in our hotel room bed, not being able to move.  Oh well…Simon got to explore and he took some pictures to share with me.

All in all it was an amazing trip, regardless of all the vomiting, and I would highly recommend to anyone to take a trip to Western Oz.

~ Hugs and Love ~

 

I’ve Got Two Tickets To Iron Maiden, Baby

Teenagers.

I hated being one and then decided to spend my life teaching them and being surrounded by them on a daily basis…a LOT of people ask ‘why’?!

It’s difficult to explain, and I don’t know what it says about me, but, I just get them.  Yes they can be gross.  Yes they can be rude.  But what a lot of people don’t see is that most of them are amazing.  I’ve had my run in with some very unpleasant, rude, mean spirited and sly teens (and I’m positive I have had dealings with their future grown up selves) but when you look deep inside, and really get to know them, teenagers are inspiring.  They are dealing with an incredible amount of pressure and are still trying to develop emotionally…it is the time in their lives where their adult coping skills are being developed while at the same time having to deal with their still present internal little kid. I have the greatest respect for the struggle they face on a daily basis.

Just over a month ago, I had the pleasure of joining my homeroom year 9 group on their camp.  (In Australia each year group goes on a camp for a few days during the year…I LOVE this idea and wish we did this at home but due to numbers it’s near impossible).  It was an intense week (16km canoe, 20km hike and a 50km bike ride) and there was whinging and some not-so-shining-stars…but I came away completely inspired by my group of eighteen 14 year olds.  They were challenged both physically and mentally but they came together as a group and made it through…and as an outcome, a much stronger group because of it.

I am so incredibly happy that I got to experience Australian camp and even more so because I got to experience it with so many outstanding human beings.

~ Hugs and love ~

Catching Up

Wow it’s been way too long and so much has happened!

I am currently on my first round of school holidays and have some time to sit down at my computer and share some of the adventures I have been on.  Way too many for one post so I will post a few times this week to space them out!

Rewind in time to over a month ago and that’s where I’ll begin.  It was Labour Day weekend here in Australia and I had a long weekend ahead so Simon and I planned a little road trip to a place I wanted to get to the first time around but never got there:  Philip Island.

We packed up and hit the road after work on Friday (March 7th) and drove down to the Island.  We pulled into the little town of Cowes around 10pm and headed to his family’s holiday house where we would be staying the weekend.  It had been a long day so we made it an early night to bed and planned for our exploration to take place the next morning.

I was up just before the sun and headed down to the beach for a little solitary explore and as soon as I stepped outside it felt like I was back home…that it was the middle of July and I was walking down to the beach at Sauble to chill out.  It was eerily familiar…I don’t think I have ever felt so much at home in an unknown town during all of my travels….that feeling will never leave me.

Saturday:  woke up, went for a walk, explored the island, went out to The Nobbies, got tickets to see the little Penguins later that night, ticket entrance to Churchill Island Farm, explored around there for sometime, also picked up tickets to a koala conservation and saw some sleepy Koalas…headed back to town, changed, went to a very cool art/food festival and had something to eat then headed back out to watch the Penguin Parade.  At the Penguin Parade you are not allowed to take any photographs and I was such a good girl so I sadly have no personal record (except in my brain) of what I saw, but let me tell you this…it was freakin’ super cute! These little foot high penguins come out of the ocean, on to the beach in little groups and wait for a few more, then a few more, until they feel confident enough to walk up from the shore to their little nesting grounds in the hills of the conservation area…was I silently running a commentary of their little conversations to each other while getting out of the water, getting washed back in to the water and during their climb??  uh…YA (also it may not have been so silent…)  Since I couldn’t take any pictures here is a little video about the Parade:  Penguin Parade

Sunday:  up early again, walk, trip into town for some shopping, trip to the beach close to us…saw some (100’s) of crabs come up from under the sand, had lunch, went to a surfing beach…tried to bodysurf in a bathing suit not made for body surfing…while catching a wave I got caught up in it and it grabbed (yes, the wave had hands and grabbed me) my feet and proceeded to pull them up backwards, over my back, then head, forcing me into an underwater backwards somersault manoeuvre …a boob may have popped out…I was finished with body-surfing.  Back to the house, dinner out and back to chill.

Monday: early wake up, walk, packed, clean the house, visited with family, headed off with one last stop to see Pelicans being fed.  Pretty cool and got to see a sting ray in the water afterwards as well!

It was a wonderful weekend away and the perfect start to what turned out to be one incredibly busy month ahead!!!

Next stop:  A special birthday dinner and a week with eighteen 14 year olds!

~ Hugs and Love ~

I Only Wanted To See You Bathing In The Purple Rain

Another road trip.  Back to Melbourne.

The plan for this past weekend was that I was going to hang around Echuca and go out on a boat to go water skiing (just ‘skiing’ here…side note:  ‘skiing’ is water skiing and ‘hockey’ is field hockey…you have to add snow or ice in front so they know you’re talking about the Canadian versions!)…anyway, skiing didn’t happen for a few reasons, which was okay…nobody really needs to see me try to ski…on water or on snow.  So while watching the news on Friday night and learning about a cool festival being held for just Saturday night I asked Simon if I could tag along to Melbourne with him (he was heading into the city anyway to pick up some art he had on order) and I asked if he wanted to go to the event too…of course always being up for an adventure he said yes so we were up early Saturday morning and on our way.

The concept of the night is incredible and, from what I did get to see, totally cool…however, for someone who suffers a bit from claustrophobia, I had a difficult time when we moved to the more popular area of the event.  At about 10:00pm Simon got to see me have a little mini panic attack but I recovered when we moved off to a less crowded section of the street (and when I say less crowded I mean about 15,000 people around me instead of 150,000).  I was slightly disappointed because I really wanted to see more of the instalments but I honestly wouldn’t have been able to make it through the crowd of over 500,000 to see the rest.

To get an idea of what the night was about and to see some professional pictures from the event have a look here.

For some of my own pictures just scroll down!

All in all it was a fun night and it was followed up by the best breakfast I have ever had in Melbourne (and trust me, I have had many breakfasts in the city) so all in all I was incredibly glad I tagged along on an impromptu road trip!

Thanks for stopping in!!

~ Hugs and love ~

Country Victoria
Country Victoria…this was taken from the main road in Heathcote…from our parking spot.  Love it. 
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paint in light

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Cathie had fun too
Cathie had fun too!!