Where Love Grows

treeWhen I think of a holiday now I imagine lazy days where time is my own, the thrill of not knowing what each day will bring and the opportunity to have some down time.

Rewind the clock by 28 years and I’m 16 with the thought of a holiday raising my heart rate in excitement. Is it the down time or the lazy days that I anticipate so breathlessly?

Neither.

It’s the possibility of romance.

That elusive little spark called love first flickered into existence in precisely this setting. In my fantasies I was holding hands with a tall dark stranger under the stars on an exotic beach. In reality I was holding a mop bucket for a muscled blonde stranger on a heaving boat in the middle of the North Sea!

Now that’s what I call a reality check!

First Sight

This blonde stranger was one of twelve 16-18 year olds crewing on a 72 ft yacht as part of the Ocean Youth Club program in the UK. I had convinced my parents that it was very safe to send me away for a week at sea, bunking down in mixed gender cabins and going without a shower for longer than is sanitary!

Five school friends and I set off on our adventure of a life time at the tender age of 16, waving anxious parents goodbye on the dockside at Ipswich. Feeling excited and giggling with nerves we chose our bunks and met the rest of the crew.

And that’s when I saw him.

Taller than the rest, obviously the oldest amongst us, he carried himself with a swagger that claimed ownership of anything he graced with his presence.

 I detested him immediately.

Swearing, smoking and cocksure, I found every opportunity to challenge his innate sense of authority. I wanted to put him in his place.

And it wasn’t long before I did.

Sailing across the North Sea is a dirty business. A heaving boat leads to heaving stomachs and after two days at sea we arrived in Holland and were promptly given the task of cleaning the vessel.

Now I had a face that looked like butter-wouldn’t-melt and nobody believed there was an evil bone in my body. For these angelic qualities I was rewarded with the important job of allocating the cleaning amongst the crew. And allocate I did.

The ‘Heads’

The nautical term for a toilet is a head.

With a bit of imagination you can imagine how these minimally equipped facilities fare when being frequented by 17  people. Add to that the disturbing lurching from side to side, the chronic sea-sickness and the lack of a toilet brush and you’ve pretty much got a watered down version of how appealing they are!

Using the heads is like trying to pee in a potty on bouncy castle. There’s a lot of room for error!

So it was with great satisfaction that I allocated this job to Swagger Boy. Of course I wasn’t a complete bitch – I offered to supervise him!

It turns out that Swagger Boy had never cleaned a toilet, so I taught him! And it was somewhere between passing the disinfectant and wringing out the cloth that our eyes met across the mop bucket and something flickered between us.

Well, maybe it didn’t happen quite like that but indulge me, there has to be a place for fantasy somewhere in this story!

What did I discover while cleaning the heads with Swagger Boy?

That  we shared a sense of humour, that we loved to challenge convention, that we had a chemistry between us that made me breathless.

His slightest touch was electric and my senses were super-charged when I was near him.

What did he see in me? Well I like to think it went beyond the fact that out of the 6 girls on board I was the only one who wasn’t sea sick!

There’s nothing quite so unattractive as the whiff of last nights dinner re-surfacing during a kiss!

We were kindred spirits. Adventurous. Rebellious. Carefree.

Swagger Boy was my first love and I light up from within when I remember these times.

He was also my adventure of a life time.

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And we are still living that lifetime together. 

 

 

Love 24 years on

 

It’s Funny How Things Begin…

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Find your open road and just go wherever it takes you!

Comfort zones, what wonderful things they are! Warm, soft and safe, you know just what to expect and nothing ever changes. I enjoy being in a comfort zone, but it doesn’t take me long to feel the need to stretch my wings and push the limits of that space.

It often begins with a luxurious feeling of contentment, rolling in like ocean waves on a calm day.  I relax, breathe and enjoy it.

My comfort zone.

But it isn’t long before I feel fidgety here. My fingertips begin to tingle, my mind starts to look beyond the present and I start to imagine something more.

That’s why I’m here today. Pushing myself out of the comfort zone of my once-a-week blogging, and into this awesome link-up Friday Reflections. Leading the way are two amazing women who open my eyes to new possibilities and encourage me to raise the bar, Janine Ripper and Mackenzie Glanville.

When I think about why I started blogging, I can’t help but think about those comfort zones.

Last year my family and I decided to travel Australia off-road for 3 months in a camper trailer, I quit my job and started blogging! I left behind 3 of my bread-and-butter comfort zones for challenge, adventure and freedom.

This was not gentle shift …I went ‘cold turkey’ overnight!!

  • I loved my job, finding it totally absorbing as a full-time primary school teacher, considering the 30 children in my class like my extended family. Although I left them as their teacher in July, they didn’t leave me until September! I dreamt about them and constantly thought about things I should have passed on to their new teacher!

 

  • Leaving the house and working from a camper trailer was not so hard, I love roughing it without electricity or showers, but leaving my phone reception behind was painful!  Because we had such limited internet access and opportunities for phone calls were scarce I starting to write about our travels in my blog Speedykniebe.

 

  • The blog was a way to keep friends and family updated and I thought my children would enjoy writing posts for it too. It’s funny how things begin, they don’t always lead where you expect! I should have known that writing is not considered pleasurable by many teenage boys, especially when there are campfires to be built and fish to be caught! So I took on the job of the blog.

 

Just Writing

I just wrote whenever the laptop had charge (which wasn’t that often), jotting down exciting new discoveries, unexpected break downs (mechanical and emotional) and stories about crazy characters who spoke to crows. I found that I was starting to look forward to writing, and prioritized it above other things, such as washing clothes or feeding the family!

But there is one moment I remember that particularly stands out as a turning point for me.

I hadn’t figured out how to enable comments on Blogger so although  I posted every couple of weeks I never got any comments on my blog. While enjoying the luxury of a phone connection in Cairns my gorgeous friend Karen asked me impatiently ‘when are you going to put up another blog post?’ She told me with some irritation that her family had been reading them all and were waiting for the next post.

That was my watershed moment.

Somebody was waiting, impatiently and expectantly, to read my writing.

 

Reflecting on this now I think it really captures everything that makes me passionate about writing. Cliché though it may be, I love writing!

It takes me to a place within myself that I didn’t’ know existed, and something creative just flows.

I get such a buzz from the process of refining and expressing ideas in words, that to find someone else who enjoys reading those words is pure joy. It’s like seeing friends enjoy a delicious meal you’ve created, it nourishes the soul and connects people though a shared pleasure.

So the blog has grown from a travel journal to a journey of personal growth. It’s constantly growing and changing, therefore so am I.

Comfort zones are easier to recognise once you’ve left them behind, so my advice is don’t stay too long in places where nothing changes.

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A Journey Beyond Kilometers

family-roadtrip-togetherWe recently travelled for 3 months around Australia and I began blogging, mainly to share news and updates with friends and family, but also to record a journal of our adventures. As we travelled it was clear that this was not a journey measured only in kilometres, but in personal connection and growth.

We covered great distances from Broome to Cairns but the further we went from home the more home was found within us. It was as if the distance created by pursing individual goals diminished as we worked to achieve shared goals. Gaps and silences that had been sliding quietly into the spaces in our lives became filled with laughter and adventure. And when I reflect on the real journey that my blog documents, it is the record of our family re-connecting and evolving.

Now we’re back in Perth, back to school, work and hum-drum can we keep the connection alive? How do we maintain our individual lives without becoming fragmented again?