Destination: Some Place Else

…to get away for if only a moment

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13. Walk to happiness

I just walked down the street to pick up my lunch. As I smiled and said hello to this old, little Italian lady she giggled, ‘oh you run, run and I move like old turtle’. Now I wasn’t quite running, just walking my usual pace, but it really got me thinking-wow we need to look after our bodies while we have full use of them. I’ve got to say that the last few years; I’ve really been trying to live this mantra. Sure I still like to go out and party, wake up occasionally more hungover than I should. I still like to devour a big, fat, dirty pizza from time to time, but I also balance the good and the bad-so I can do these things. As life is meant for the living and I’m not going to completely deny myself of a piece of chocolate cake from time to time. Though that old phrase of you just watch out, when you hit 30 it gets harder, is true.

Gone are the days of ‘I can like so eat anything and I don’t even need to exercise, I just don’t put on weight.’ Now I’m not sure I was ever fully like that, but there was once a stage where I really didn’t have to try that hard not to stack it on. But by my late 20s, I was starting to get more aches and pains, sore neck and back, always tired, my jeans started to feel constrictive and I thought you know what by the time I hit 40, I’m screwed. So I made a conscious decision to get fit and quite frankly, I’ve never been fitter than I am now. There is no reason why you can’t get fitter as you get older, you just have to decide to want it. I started looking at what I was eating-less carbs, more protein, more vege, less sugar-and really you don’t have to be a scientist, it actually made me feel better and lose weight. This is not meant to be a preachy blog about losing weight, as quite frankly I hate diets. But rather than falling for the disgusting gossip magazines picture of ideal weight, how bout we just get healthy and learn to love our shape, curvy, round, boyish-but please not paper thin.

Now I know there are a thousand diet fads out there, but I think this healthy eating combination and one very simple equation can make you feel better-exercise. Weird hey? I swim, I do yoga, I do boot camp, I run, I dance and I walk. Maybe none of this is your cup of tea, but if for nothing else-just walk. I decided on our trip to Peru while walking along the Inca trail, that life is so precious that why waste the time we’re given. I don’t want to waste my ability to go outside and walk under the sun or in the rain and notice the world go by. Because one day, it is a fact that I will get old and I will find that simple pleasure, much harder. One day I will be slow like old turtle.

Since I’ve been back I’ve been walking to work 1-2 times a week. It takes me an hour and it makes me darn happy. I listen to my music, and walk fast or slow depending on my mood. Hey sometimes I try and mix it up and run a little if I feel like it. Especially while it is summer, take advantage of a free, fun activity where you can -see things you never see when driving in your car. You smell flowers, get smiles off fellow walkers, hear a dog bark or a baby giggle or you can just crank up your favourite track and clear your mind. Any stress that I might have just leaves. I find I actually have more energy too.

So maybe this year, instead of taking the elevator, take the stairs. Instead of driving to the shops 20 minutes away, just walk. You might find that your bad day gets great, that a worry you can’t shake, doesn’t matter anymore and you also get a great bonus-you get healthy.


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12. Bet big, win big or lose it all.

Vegas. The land of glitz and glamour, of big dreams, sleepless nights and empty pockets. Where wannabe stars rise and fall, sleazy strip clubs and booze on tap 24/7. You can burn $1 to your entire life savings, you can walk away cashed up or cashed out. You can visit Paris, New York, Italy in a day, you can live like royalty, see artists perform or rest by your pool bar in its endless summer.

Honestly, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about Las Vegas. I’m not a gambler. I actually get saddened when pensioners sit their wasting what little money they have on the pokies. I know families are destroyed from addiction, lives ruined. I mean I just came from spending over three weeks in Peru, you just couldn’t get further on the spectrum. One minute, I was sitting on the Andes contemplating life, nature and lack of materialism and just how good that was for my wellbeing.

Then, there I found myself after a great drive from LA, rolling down the famous vegas strip, madly snapping my camera in an attempt to capture just how crazy this town is. But I gotta say, it did suck me in with all it’s over the top glory and flashing neon. There is just nothing quite like it. You can either hate it for what is represents or just go with it and respect the fact that it doesn’t pretend to be anything else- this place is about sex, money and good times.

No matter what time of the year it is, I can imagine it is busy every day. We were there from Sunday night to Wed morning and it felt like a weekend everyday. There were casinos on every corner, shops for the rich and the everyday chick, you could eat virtually any cuisine, stroll through hotels that make you feel like you’re in different parts if the world and there are big shows to cater for every taste. You could go on your own, on a bucks or hens, as a couple or with your family. I’m sure the young boys walking down the street with mum and dad would love being handed the endless cards with hot bodied, big busted woman on them too.

Now I could list all the things we did but really as they say what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Really it’s a place that you have to experience yourself. I will say go with an open mind and an open wallet and you should fit right in with all the hopeless Vegas romantics.

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11. The Comfort of Strangers

Beth Orton was right.
There is a comfort in strangers.
In transit, I try to rest but the confines of
Space prevents me. Later though-
a young boy tired by travels, his eyes heavy
Like all surrounding us, falls asleep.
His small head rests upon my
Shoulder, his hand gently on my lap.
A weary mind thinking I’m his mother.
I feel comfort, and do not move him-
Maternal instincts wants him to rest.
Like at home, restlessness slowly fades away.
It is here, we sleep as though family, to awake
Again as strangers. But now, with a newfound
Familiarity he turns to me and says,
‘It’s still a long way till home isn’t it.’

10.18am 31/01/14

I’ve always been intrigued by the way strangers behave with other strangers in confined spaces. Lifts for instance- a metal box no larger than a big cupboard holding from 1 to about 10 people at any given time. You walk in, face the front, sometimes standing so close to someone you’re touching, and say nothing as it glides between levels playing that really shitty, repetitive music. Often you don’t even acknowledge that person. Then on arrival, you exit and go about your day, never to know the story of that person. I mean they could be brilliant.

Or the taxi. A man or woman drives you around for what can be over 30 minutes and some people sit there in silence. Yes, sometimes I get in and have absolutely no desire to make small talk. But then there have been days when I’ve heard the greatest of stories. Life stories, of refuge, of struggle, of immigration, of happiness. Many are sad stories of intelligent men who were once successful in their motherland- searched for safety or for a better life in Australia and couldn’t get work in their field. I’m sure we all have horror stories of taxi drivers who are rude or dangerous, don’t know where they are going etc, but then there are also the ones with the stories (can you tell I like a good tale)- if you choose to listen. Maybe I am just the type of girl who people open up to, but I believe I also ask the right questions.

So then you have the plane or bus or train or tram. Again, you board, you sit or stand in silence next to someone for sometimes hours on end. OR- sometimes you get those rare conversations that makes you see the goodness in people. The ability for strangers to open up to other strangers when they think maybe they will never meet that person again.

I sat on a plane next to a retired naval officer from Dallas to LA last week. I sat down and pulled out Breakfast at Tiffany’s to read. But before I could open it up, he introduced himself and before I knew it we were chatting like old friends. In a matter of hours, because he felt like opening up (he later said sorry you prob didn’t know you were going to sit next to chatty Kathy) or because I felt like listening-he told me stories of naval commitment and hardship, of seeing every single state of America and many countries around the world, living in New Orleans and how his wife had made the best bread pudding and then correcting himself to say late wife as she had died the year before. He was a really good guy.

I know I harp on about taking the time to talk to strangers, but conversations like these above, make me feel comforted by the fact that though there is violence and anger and hatred in the world- there are also moments where strangers can be momentary friends. From pulling down my social wall, I have at times made fleeting friends or lifelong ones. You never know- the stranger sitting next to you could be your future best friend, lover, brother in law or maybe you exist in time together just for that shared experience, then you move on to your next. I guess you will just never know unless you decide on that day you might turn to a stranger and say ‘hi, are you having a good day.’