Time running out…..

The first weekend we arrived in Sydney, surrounded by packing boxes in our difficult to find, expensive, sterile rental in Pyrmont, we decided to go to the movies. After a 15 minutes drive into the inner west we spent 60 minutes looking for a car park, before turning back toward home. As I got out of the car, I burst into tears exclaiming “why did we move here?”

That was 8 1/2 years ago.

We never planned on staying. This was to be a brief stop on the way to greener pastures, in New York or London. But life has a way of getting in the way of dreams, and there have been job changes and new lives created. Sadly, the idea of living in another country is slipping away from us.

I never expected to love any of Sydney. But I do love much of Surry Hills. We found our place in this difficult city. The food, the ease of living, the diversity of people and the circle of friends we’ve found has created a home for us.

But I also want to go back to my real home.

We’ve been discussing the idea for a year. Family challenges have sped up the discussion, and finally we have set a tentative date for a return to Melbourne, the end of 2015.

The moment it was agreed I felt a huge sense of relief. A feeling that a weight was lifted.

But also I doubted the decision immediately. How could I leave this amazing place? Where I walk my dog along the harbour most mornings. Where I walk to my place of study and place of work. Where we eat in amazing restaurants, and have everything we need right on our doorstep. Where I have found a new career, and opportunity to teach in my chosen field.

Maybe this was a mistake?

I began to doubt.

We’ve begun to tell people. Some family and some friends. Our Melbourne based friends expressed joy, our Sydney based ones have said we won’t go ahead with it. I feel we are subconsciously cementing the plan by saying it out loud.

Last week I caught up with a friend from university who I hadn’t seen in 15 years. It was a great experience, one of those people who never changes, always a delight. In telling her about my life here, the people that surround me every day I was reminded again how different Melbourne and Sydney are. Or at least the streets that I have inhabited.

Here I live in a place where plastic surgery is commonplace, where Botox is a given. For both genders. While fitness and outdoor activity is encouraged, it is not done for wellness, but for vanity, supplemented with diet pills and fake tan injections. Being in the middle of a close community there is good, and bad, behaviour, only exacerbated by social media. Over the years we’ve lived here this place has made me doubt myself, my confidence has taken beatings, physically, intellectually, professionally and emotionally.

One of the places that changed our lives here was Harmony Park. In Harmony Park we met a close knit group of residents, most with dogs, some with kids, who became our ‘tribe’. Not always perfect, but I’ve spent many afternoons over the past 5 years laughing with my neighbours. I know they are the people I could call when in need.

Over the past 6 months the park has become popular for skateboarders. Technically illegal, they congregated, destroyed the barriers, damaged the park, abused the park patrons verbally, sometimes physically, left alcohol and broken glass and created a hostile environment. The City of Sydney did what they could, but it was a futile effort. Now they are considering relaxing the skateboarding restrictions, an administrative admission that they have lost this battle.

Community action groups are forming, emails and Facebook posts hurtle through cyberspace. No good can come of it. Sadly, this has created strong divisions among those who previously enjoyed the park, removing the welcoming nature that brought us all together.

For me is has taken away any doubt I’ve had about returning to Melbourne. I feel lucky to have had some good years here, but I also feel the ‘veil’ has been lifted that briefly clouded my vision. Sydney is not for me.

Time is running out….

End of January goal update: living is hard

I’m using my Friday afternoon to update my goals, while I frantically watch my email waiting for responses to a whole mess of communications.  I’ve stressed myself out over this of late, so have decided to instigate #screenfreeweekend as of 5pm.  No twitter, no facebook, no linkedin (many of my messages are via there), no email.  Until Monday morning. (Instagram is exempt due to the 100 Days of Happy project.)

This may kill me.


I will survive, talk to my husband, play with my dog, finish the latest book I’m reading, go to yoga, cook and generally be happy.

(Could swing either way really.)

So how am I tracking on my personal goals?  A bit all over the place.

  • 10,000 steps: my monthly Jan average is 10,132, so yeah.  BUT, I have terrible tendonitis in my achilles and have a appointment with a podiatrist next week.
  • Yoga 5 times a week: I did 18 classes in January, so about 4 classes a week.  That’s OK.  I have also injured my hip (I am such a physical wreck) so have had 2-3 days off a few times trying to heal it. As yet I’m still not 100%. Yet I also don’t think I’m working as hard as I should be.
  • Whole 30-ish.  I was so good…until January 26th. And this week I’ve fallen off the wagon completely. There was mac n cheese consumed. And chocolate.  I have not, however, had any alcohol. Not a drop.  I have felt worse this week though, but it’s a bit of a combination of the injury, general surliness and poorer foods.  Guess what? They’re all linked!  I also feel like I’ve gained weight, or not lost is as I’d hoped.  Too scared to get on scales, but I can tell in my clothes. RECONFIRM FOCUS NEEDED, especially as alcohol is back as of tomorrow.
  • Focus on authenticity in my relationships: good and bad here. I have my social media paranoia under control, but have had a rocky week with my husband.  Enough said on this.
  • 100 Days of Happy project – linked to a general focus on the positive in my life: this is actually going really well.  I am enjoying the challenge and taking some good photos.  Keep it up.

And still not drinking tea.


Get my physical body back to a place where I don’t have to take iboprufen daily, while understanding that people not responding to my interview requests is not a judgement on my personality. Maybe eating gelato messina next week (my mum is coming, she loves it) but no more mac n cheese.

Living is hard.


I should be transcribing….

But I keep meaning to check in on my resolutions/mini goals, so using the excuse as an avoidance technique.

  • Average 10,000 steps a day

As of right this minute my weekly average is 9,962, but by the end of the day that will be over 10,000. It’s such a motivator for me to have a statistical target. I’m like that.  I’ve found that I go for a walk, rather than just hang out at the dog park, if I’m not at my 10,000 goal.  This is good.  The dog, however, is a little exacerbated, sometimes he just wants to sit around.

  • Undertake a Whole30 or close to it January, then 80/20 paleo from then on

Loving this.  I’m not strictly Whole30, as a bit of dairy creeps in, but it’s close.  I’ve had two ‘fails’ – one eating flour in fritters and two, an emergency chocolate bar on the plane home last night after a very long and gruelling day where I didn’t eat. It was that or pass out. (Not really.)  In general, however, it’s been great. I’ve felt so much better, sleeping well etc.  I did cave and get on the scales, which was dumb, and I’m about 2kg away from my happy place, but it’s not really about weight, it’s about energy and health. Which are both so much better.

  • Yoga – 5 times a week, shorter but harder classes

6 classes last week, struggling with the shorter/harder bit as the night classes are SO BUSY it is unpleasant. And shorter classes mean I don’t learn as much.  I love my studio, but I learnt more in 6 months at my first studio than I have in 12 here, they are not really focussed on ‘teaching’ as such.  That said, I need to remind myself that yoga isn’t a ‘competition’ it’s just a part of my life and if I never do a handstand, that’s actually OK.

  • Focus on authenticity in my relationships

I had a rough few days here when someone near me ‘defriended’ me for reasons unknown.  And like I usually do I spent days obsessing over why.  But yesterday I spent the day with both my parents (highly unusual, happens once a decade) and my extended family at a funeral, talk about perspective creation*. Who cares about an acquaintance, who I honestly didn’t care for much anyhow,  come on girl, pull it together. (I’ve still got to get over the idea that people need to like me. No they don’t. Really.)

  • 100 Days of Happy project – linked to a general focus on the positive in my life.

See above – I’ve had some big and little bumps in the week, but I’ve written/posted honestly (on instagram) about 14 days of happiness and I’m really enjoying the process.

DId I put “drink more tea” in my original list? I meant to, and on that I am failing miserably.  I am, however, making and drinking water kefir by the litre, but that is a story for another time.

*Another good perspective provider was a status update posted by a friend that read “I love it when racist friends unfriend you, it’s like the trash taking itself out.” This.

Welcoming 2015

Today is my first day back at my desk. And while this blog is not technically ‘work’ I’m getting myself organised for 2015 by doing a bit of public goal and intention setting.

The last two months have been pretty great, exhausting and great.  We had a wonderful, though sometimes stressful, time in Chile and Argentina, and a stressful, and sometimes wonderful, time with our families over Christmas.  It is time to get back into work, and I’m excited with what my academic year can bring (read about that here.)

I’ve already kicked off my 2015 personal goals, but I’m going to reiterate them here for good measure:

  • Average 10,000 steps a day (this is actually harder than you would first suspect but the aim is there.)
  • Undertake a Whole30 or close to it January, then 80/20 paleo from then on
  • Yoga – 5 times a week, shorter but harder classes
  • Focus on authenticity in my relationships
  • 100 Days of Happy project – linked to a general focus on the positive in my life.

So how have I started?

My weekly steps average is 7,655 right now, but January 1 was an exercise in lying down, so I’m confident I can get closer to 10,000 within the next few days.  The days when I don’t walk in the morning (usually 1 day a week) I have to consciously make more of an effort.

I’m going strong on the Whole30 and feeling pretty damn fine.  I’m sleeping better, happy with what I’m eating and feeling good. Refraining from the scales until the end of the month and hopefully the damage done by travel will be mitigated.

Yoga has started, but a reduced timetable makes things a bit harder.  Still scheduled for 5 classes this week. Should try for 1 swim a week too, but I’m also aiming to take more of a ‘business hours’ approach to my PhD….something has to give.

Authenticity – that’s going to be a long term conscious effort.  I am very aware of when the snark or judgemental behaviour creeps in, especially in my online world.  Just aiming to play nice in 2015.

Positivity – I’m enjoying the #100happydays challenge, it’s a nice prompt for instagram, though I wonder if I’ll end up just posting 50 photos of the dog.  He does make me very happy.  It has made me very aware of other people’s attitudes.  (A case in point, I actually felt that the media were being unreasonably harsh on Gwyneth Paltrow and her New Year detox…..see I’m a nicer, more forgiving person already.)

So it’s been a good first 5 days.

One thing I have been thinking about is this blog. Do I delete it? (Though I still get quite a lot of traffic.) Do I return to regular cooking/paleo posts?

I’m not deleting it, as I still use many of the recipes on here (I need to turn them into a little book for myself – post PhD project.) But I can’t see myself returning to regular writing here as it takes up too much of my time, and I am not trying to do this as a potential career.  Sometimes I want to share things in more detail than instagram, like my recent exploration into the world of water kefir, but I guess I just have to bore my husband with it.

The other major life shift that may or may not be in the works is a return to Melbourne. In 2013 my husband and I committed to knowing where we would be living long term by the end of the year….it’s 2015 and we still have no idea. After a family health scare last year we seriously discussed moving back to Melbourne, but as the urgency diminished so did that plan.

It is a hard choice. We both have better career opportunities here at this stage, but desperately miss being close to our family and oldest friends.

For me, I am increasingly feeling ‘in limbo’. There are things I refrain from doing in the apartment, like investing in a good balcony garden, or putting in induction cook tops, because we may leave sooner rather than later.  And for the first time in my life I am really feeling the pull of a house – not a 1/4 acre block, but a courtyard. But it is the desire to be closer to my family and friends that really drives this.

Whatever the outcome, I hope we get a better idea of what the future holds during this year.

Hi, how are you?

It’s hard to believe that it’s been six months since I last posted.  Time flies etc. I have occasionally checked in on stats and it’s nice to see I get the same amount of visitors when I don’t post for six months than when I post three times a week. No really it is nice.

I’ve decided to make a return appearance for a few reasons, some big, some little.

  • In 11 days we are off to Argentina and Chile for, what I hope will be, the trip of a lifetime.  We’re going hiking in Patagonia, wine drinking in Mendoza and architecture viewing in Buenos Aires.  Cannot wait.  As usual I’ll be blogging here.
  • This week Open Heart International posted a short film made by the incomparable Richard Bullock about our trip to Rwanda last year (you can read about that here, here, here and here. )  I really hope you’ll take the 12 minutes to watch it, it is confronting, but demonstrates the passion with which OHI volunteers operate (literally.)  I have a brief cameo in it, looking pretty average as it was a very tough day for me physically (broke my arm) and emotionally (watch the film to learn more.)
  • I’m tying up loose ends with my first year as a PhD candidate.  I’ve almost finished my marking for my year of teaching (which I have loved), I’ve presented my stage one assessment and written a draft paper, and I’ve learnt a hell of a lot.  It’s been a tough process, but a rewarding one.  I feel I’m in a good place for next year.
  • From personal development perspective I had a small revelation last week.  I have a new motto, when watching the behaviour of those around me, it is ‘but does it make them happy?’  When someone does something aggressive, or show pony like, I just ask myself ‘but does it make them happy?’ and you know what? Perspective unlocked.
  • At a higher degree research conference last week I got chatting to a colleague about health and diet.  She has been testing auto-immune paleo diets, so we shared stories.  As I spoke to her I realised that I had slid far from the paleo path (more like 20/80 than 80/20 – no longer predominantly paleo) and the ramifications of which were sleep problems, weight gain, yoga injuries, hay fever and general grumpiness.  Why was it so hard to remain committed to eating principles that made my life better? In some way I think giving up recipe development on this blog contributed, as I no longer had the impetus to continue (clearly my own well being was not enough.)  There was always an excuse – next week I’d get back on the wagon.  This week I said ‘no more’ and have begun the mojo-restoring journey. After two days I feel better (even with a slight paleo-flu headache.)  I have to keep reminding myself that keeping healthy is not a ‘nice to do’ it is a ‘must do.’

So does that mean the blog is back?  Maybe.  I’ve stopped posting so many food photos on social media, so maybe I need to re-energise this outlet? Maybe the odd recipe will return.

Until then, watch the video, follow our travels and I hope to ‘see’ you soon.

Taking a break

I love writing blogs.  I get so excited when I travel as I have ideas running through my head every day.  My PhD blog has helped me get through writers block and really make progress.  Blog’s are awesome.

But this one is feeling a bit like a chore right now.  I love cooking and sharing the recipes, but I am not a professional blogger. My photos are rubbish and my writing is not considered.  I’m never going to get invited to food blogger events (nor do I want to) and I don’t have the time to market myself. I don’t even share this on social media anymore.  My readership was going strong for a while, but is now reducing and I haven’t the time to work on it.

I’m also falling behind on my PhD, mainly because I took on a high teaching load in the latter half of the semester, and took off to China for a week. In addition I agreed, reluctantly, to get involved in a fundraising event which has ended exactly as I feared, that is not well.

Then, to issue me with another whack, I’ve been told I need at least one operation to repair the arm I broke last year. I didn’t really expect that I may be having surgery three times to repair the ‘multiple anomalies’ I have. This means another 6 weeks in a cast from July, and 6 months rehab. Again. Then more if I have the further work. My yoga practice is really in trouble, and as for typing…

Consequently I’m taking a blog break. Until I get back on track with my ‘real job’ I need to be 100% dedicated to it.  I’ll still share recipes on instagram and maybe I’ll come back in a month or two, the same or different.

Thanks for reading.