It is Friday 9 November, 6pm and my first day back home is slowly coming to an end. It has been a really good day. Unlike other trips, I haven’t come back to a black hole of sadness and apathy. I feel like I am shining just as brightly as I did in QT.
One thing that I am conscious of now, though, is the amount of energy + emotion I invest into others. It is one of the traits that I love most about myself but it definitely contributes to the fatigue and weariness I often feel. When people talk to me, I can almost tangibly feel their trust in me and their joy in how much I share in their joy. Honestly, I am very proud of this - but my month away made me realise that I need to find a way to manage it all so I don’t burn out again and need to isolate myself for a month :)
Anyway, here is THE LAST WEEK’S RECAP of 4 weeks in the land of the long white cloud…
SUNDAY 4 NOVEMBER
The post-adventure comedown struck me on Sunday when it rained all morning and I was nursing a slightly foggy head as I’d gone out the night before. There were some thoughts making the rounds in my head that were getting me really down so I threw myself into work at my hostel.
But then, by the afternoon, the grey clouds dissipated to reveal fresh snow on the surrounding peaks; just a whisper of a dusting that was so very pretty.
That night, I stayed at my new friend Josh’s place. He lives with a married couple and a 22-year old British guy who had spent his summer hiking in Switzerland (obviously, I immediately liked him). When I arrived, they were sitting around drinking red wine and talking about mountain bikes. Then, the married couple laid out some topo maps on the ground and started planning their weekend tramp. Their neighbour was also over; he’s a pharmacist but only for a few more weeks as he has quit to become a tour guide. Josh and Will were planning to go climbing the next day and all of them were going to hike Ben Lomond on Tuesday.
They were just chatting amongst themselves when Sammy goes, “so are we going to go to that women’s thing tomorrow night or what?”. I butted in and said, “do you mean the Women’s Adventure Film Tour?! That’s what I’m MC’ing! That’s my work!”. They ended up all getting tickets :)
Basically, their lives are so focussed on adventure and the outdoors and I freaking loved being around it, even for just one night. It was also the first time I’d been in a Queenstown home and it gave me real insight into what it would be like to live there…it didn’t surprise me one bit, it just confirmed everything I’d always thought, i.e. it would be incredible.
MONDAY 5 NOVEMBER
A rollercoaster of a day (another one haha).
12pm - there is this ‘lookout’ on the side of Glenorchy-Queenstown Road where in June 2017, I witnessed the PINKEST, MOST VIBRANT SUNSET OF MY LIFE. In fact, it was one of my last night of that trip and it is a night that I will never, ever forget. Anyway, I pulled into it again today. I wandered down the hillside and tucked myself away amongst the long grasses and plants and just looked at everything and felt it all down in my very core. It was such a beautiful day and I felt so strongly, “this is home for me so where am I running off to on Thursday?”
I also thought about all the feedback and responses I have received about my photography and writing since I’d been in New Zealand:
“We love your stuff!!! And love your smile! You’re always smiling and it’s infectious…keep up the good work.”
“You’re inspiring my future travels…I never make it through people’s talking stories but you keep captivating me”
“I am following your blog and your words and pics are very inspirational to me!”
“Oh my goodness I love your photos. I stumbled across your Instagram while following NZ hashtags to get inspiration for my holiday. Love love love the way you are living your life”.
“Thank you so much for sharing an honest adventure with us all.”
Even typing all those out makes me emotional.
As you may know if you have been following me for awhile, I love being impacted and creating impact. My art is my vehicle to make some kind of difference in this world; the “difference” I hope to make is to inspire people to live an adventurous and fulfilling life; however that looks for them. I want my work to encourage others to move through life thankfully and deliberately, to love unconditionally….and to be able to do that all at the best + worst of times.
Sometimes, I will aim to do this directly but sharing what has helped me live more mindfully and fully such as journalling, learning new skills and regularly expressing my love and gratitude to the people in my life.
Other times, I will do so indirectly by just sharing my processes and experiences. I want my story to show that humans are complex and messy and we can learn to embrace this, instead of hide it in shame and embarrassment. I don’t mask the fact that I am flawed, ever-changing and often self-contradicting. I don’t always make sense and neither does my life. But I am always trying my best and I can see beauty in every step of it all. Even if someone doesn’t relate to my story, I hope that the raw exposure to my perspective opens up their worldview.
3pm - I checked into the lush Hotel St Moritz for the night as they very generously supported the Women’s Adventure Film Tour. It felt so deliciously indulgent to have so much space to myself again! It also helped calm the nerves ahead of the Queenstown screening which was to be my 2nd time MC’ing in my life.
So I sat there wanting to write about how thankful I was for everything but I honestly was borderline breaking down. I only had 3 nights left in Queenstown and I had this inexplicable feeling that so much had shifted both inside me and back at home and I just didn’t know how it was going to be back in Sydney.
10pm - post-Women’s Adventure Film Tour’s VERY FIRST NEW ZEALAND SCREENING EVER. And my first words in my journal are, “I belong here. Everything here feeds my soul”. The showing went so well. People came up to me to say how inspirational the night was and I felt so proud to be part of She Went Wild and Adventure Film Tours, even in my small way.
But it did feel lonely to have no one who knew me and loved me deeply to share it with at the end of the night.
TUESDAY 6 NOVEMBER
As an example of my constant state of flux, I started the day off with MASSIVE AMBITION to do + see as much as I could in the day. And then I ended up wandering around aimlessly around the Sawpit Gully Track in Arrowtown. I didn’t even finish the 8.5 kilometre loop but SOMEHOW CLOCKED UP 14 KILOMETRES. I guess I just wanted to take the chance to lose track of time and to go wherever my heart + feet wanted to. It’s not often that I don’t have a schedule to keep to or people to answer to.
Somewhere along the track, I had an epiphany-like thought. I realised that Queenstown and maybe New Zealand or the mountains in general just make me feel SETTLED. So often, I am so worked up, going 100 miles an hour, with such a busy mind, feeling every single emotion all at once, pulled inwards + outwards in every direction, consumed by my own big dreams + plans AND those of others…but here, I feel at peace. I still have great ambition and a drive to put out high energy + output but it’s like it is all founded on more solid, level ground. Back in Sydney, sometimes it just feels like I’m slowly drilling myself deeper + deeper into a bottomless pit. I wrote, “It feels like ulterior motives but here in Queenstown, it’s all my heart + soul”.
That afternoon, I was hit by another rogue wave of paralysis and overwhelm. I decided to head to 12 Mile Delta, turn my phone back onto Flight Mode, set up camp and chill out for the rest of the day. I ended up going for a swim in the lake (said to be around 12 degrees) and it was rejuvenating.
That night, I listened to the “Finding Mastery” podcast again where the guest said, “I’m not interested in balance. I’m interested in FULFILMENT…in a life that lights you on fire. I’m NOT stumbling my way through life”. FUCK YES.
I watched the sunset by the lake. I traced the ridge line of the Remarks and remembered my week 1 blog which started with, “The way in which a place can be a custodian of your history”. I think I will get that tattoo one day soon.
WEDNESDAY 7 NOVEMBER
This morning, my alarm rung at 6am and I switched it off and rolled over. But then I thought, “this is your second last morning here and you are ONE MINUTE from the lakefront!”. I opened my tent fly door to see dashes of vibrant pink in between moody swashes of grey. I threw on my shoes, grabbed my phone, glasses and camera and practically slept-walked down to the lake.
For half an hour, I sat there watching the hues and luminosity of the sky change. I thought of how I wish I could be there for all 365 sunrises in this town I love SO MUCH and how I could come to the exact same spot for all of them and never get over it.
After sunrise, the clouds rolled in and it looked like it could rain any moment…and I loved it. I loved that I had caught the most beautiful part of the day.
Sunrises are possibly the greatest teacher in grabbing life by the balls; in putting in the effort to be all in + all there and appreciating it no matter how it manifests.
I then spent a total of almost 6 hours of the rest of my last day in Queenstown in deep conversation with two friends; Martina, who I had met on the Kepler Track, and Emma, who is from back home and who I met through Dave. It was such a good last day in my favourite place on Earth.
And so there you go. My last deluge of feelings and thoughts and ideas and musings from 4 weeks in New Zealand.
In the last month, this place effortlessly sparked + fulfilled each and every one of my values every day. It has brought me both inspiration and ease, through all the highs and lows and in-betweens. At the peaks, all my senses + cells have buzzed at the highest frequency, even when I was just sitting there. And instead of feeling bored or impatient when in the middle, I have felt SETTLED. And in the valleys, I have still felt lonely but not anxious.
I seek all the levels and angles and directions and amplitudes and magnitudes of life and I find them all here, in the most beautiful and importantly, sustainable, ways. I really want to emphasise sustainable because yes, I have always wanted so much out of my life and I have encountered more cynics than I can count.
If you are a dreamer like me, know that there does exist something out there that will rouse and soothe you, enliven and fulfil you.
Looking forward to coming back; whenever, however, whyever. Nothing lasts forever, so they say…except that this will xxx
Thank you so much if you are reading this right now. It means more to me than you can ever, ever know.