I have been absolutely awe-struck by the natural beauty in New Zealand. One of my favourite scenes is either the sunrise or the sunset. Both are just miraculous. Amazing that it happens every single day, and that each day it is breathtaking! The sunrise is the hardest to see as it requires being out of bed and out of the house before 6am. However, I was feeling very ambitious and somehow that rubbed off on Luke and yesterday we set our alarms for 5am! It's helpful that in our current home we are simply steps away from the beach, so we took advantage of that. With our beach blanket in hand and sleepy, groggy faces on, we flippy floppied over to the beach and settled in. Wow... was it ever worth it! I was simply flabbergasted! (that one's for you Dad, heehee). Enjoy the photos Luke took!
I have been living in the mount for over four months now, and since the very beginning I have been saying, constantly, that I want to hike up the mountain to see the sunrise. I asked friends to join me... but that involves coordinating schedules and everyone waking up to their alarms... so that one never prevailed. I asked Luke if he would go with me, and being the loving and supportive man that he is, of course he said, "mayyyyyybe", but it would be up to me to push us to actually do it, and somehow, that task seemed too challenging. I considered just going on my own, but... that takes a bit of self-motivation, discipline, and well... sounded a little lonely. And thus, over four months passed with no early morning sunrise hikes to speak of.
Finally I decided that enough was enough. Everyone knows how annoying it is to hear someone talk about something over and over and oooover again, without actually taking any action. I realized that I was doing this, and I was beginning to annoy myself. So... I did it! Alone! Go me!
Last night I did as I always do when preparing for an early morning, I set out my "morning hike" clothes in a little accessible pile, I put my necessary items in a pack - cellphone, camera, keys, flashlight, tiny piece of candy :o) - and I set my alarm for a bright and early morning. Well, I guess dark and early for me!
When my alarm went off this morning, I was awake and ready for my solo adventure. Bring on the brilliant photos and self-reflecting moments! I got dressed, grabbed my pack, made a thermos of green tea and honey and was on my way. It is Spring time here, not yet summer, so when I felt a few rain drops lightly dropping down on me as I began to ascend, I wasn't too bothered. Especially when I looked up and genuinely could not see any clouds that the drops were coming from. Hmm...
I began my hike up, feeling the burn in my thighs and feeling proud of myself for getting up early, being active, and doing it all with my own solo motivation! As I wandered my way up, slowly taking off layer after layer, letting my thoughts float around wherever they wanted to go, I considered the thought that the rain drops seemed to be getting just the tiniest bit heavier... but I pushed the thought of my mind.
As I huffed and puffed and pushed myself further and further up the climb, rounding the corner closest to the top, feeling very triumphant as I was al...most...there...
- FLASH -
Thunder. Lightening. Downpour of rain. Oh...My...God...
The thunder really shocked me to my core, as I was really not expecting it at all. And the lightening - terrified me! Being up on a mountain, it just seemed so much closer. I genuinely squealed, jumped, turned around and just RAN!
As I was running, a little common sense popped into my head and reasoned that maybe running down a slippery, wet mountain side was not the best use of my time, and I slowed down to a quick walk. I passed a few people heading up as I was heading down and noticed that they were all clearly prepared for this storm. They were wearing hats and rain jackets and all looked quite happy and content as they huffed and puffed. Me, I was wearing a fleecy sweater, not so water-proof vest and a headband. Woohoo not being prepared! As I continued with my quick-paced descent, leaving the slightly protected and covered tree area of the trail and entering the clearing part, the skies simply emptied. It felt as though a massive bucket of water was being dropped directly onto my head. There was so much rain that I could barely see as it was flooding my eyelashes and dripping down my entire face.
With many of the steps on the trail, they are gravel as well as a bit of wood. Well... wood sure gets slippery when its wet. Just as I was going down a particularly long and steep set of steps, I glanced up to see a couple of hikers coming my way. Just as I glanced up, I slipped on the wet wood and BAM - CRASH down I go. Onto my butt. On the wet steps. In front of lovely strangers. *sigh* I was convinced they knew how scared I was and how I desperately wanted to be running down, but clearly I do not possess the graceful footing required for that sort of feat.
Then, as luck would have it, just as I got down to the very lowest part of the mountain, into a big open clearing, the rain began to dissipate. Optimistically, I glanced back up the mountain and for a split second thought "should I..." then quickly brought my awareness back to the slish-slosh of my wet socks in shoes and how my headband was pasted to my head, turned around and carried on down. My home is only a few minutes walk from the base of mount, but of course, as soon as I stepped off the hill and onto pavement, the skies unleashed their worst yet! Again I couldn't see as the rain was so heavy and dripping into my eyes. When I glanced down I could see the rain bouncing off the pavement, jumping back up to the sky. If I attempted a look ahead, I could see the wind sweeping the rain all the way down the road before it even hit the ground, somewhat resembling ghosts flying through the semi-dark streets. The wind was whipping my stringy, wet pony tail into my face, a very unpleasant feeling. And all I could hear apart from the hiss of the wind was the slish-slosh-slish-slosh of my soaking wet feet, reminding me of many rainy soccer practices I had as a kid.
All in all, after I arrived home, warmed up in the shower and had a nice think about the situation I was just in, I had a wonderful morning. Perhaps it was not the morning I had planned for myself, but it made me laugh and feel good just the same! And now I am enjoying my thermos of tea and honey while cozy on the couch, looking out my window and noticing that the sun has finally made its way out.
Yesterday Luke and I enjoyed another day of constant sunshine with a different view of our favourite mountain. We drove out to Papamoa to hike the hills. The hike up was a good steady climb in a beautiful foresty area that teases you with small glimpses of sunshine through the trees. It was ever winding so you never quite knew where you were headed or where the summit was. which is helpful to "trick" yourself into thinking the summit is "just around the corner"
It's got me thinking.. what do I do when I'm feeling down in order to bring myself back up?
These are some of my favourite things to do when I feel down. Maybe you'll try some.. maybe you won't.. but I wanted to share them just incase they make at least one person smile.
Allow myself to wallow - sometimes all I need is a good wallow in self pity.. sure my life isn't that hard, I have a LOT of privileges, but sometimes I just need to let go of every single responsibility, stop smiling and have a down moment. These are the times that Luke says "you have absolutely zero expression on your face" and my response - "I'm replenishing!"
Endorphins!! - Exercise makes me feel wonderful, and yet I often find it very hard to commit to actually doing the deed. When I haven't done anything physical in awhile, and I'm feeling down, I know there is a correlation. If I'm so down I can't find the motivation to go to the gym because I know I will simply stare at the machines.. I go to a high-intensity class!! This way no thinking is involved, there's a set time that I have to make it there by and if I skip out halfway through.. people will see!!
The Library! - Being over here in New Zealand and only working a few hours a week means I don't have a lot of expendable funds. My new favourite way to combat the money blues.. stroll down to the library. I allow myself to feel like a millionaire in there! When I look through the aisles, I know that I am allowed to leave with any item I choose! And not only that.. I can choose 3, 4, 5, 10 items!! Suuuure I don't read every single item I take home.. but I feel good not having to limit myself! (and I've recently learned I can take out my trashy magazines...FOR FREE!! major score when their price tags are around the $5 mark!)
Write a letter!! This is one of my all time favourite activities to do when I am feeling a bit low or secluded or unsure of myself. Sending love to a friend means you will be putting a smile on their face when they check their mailbox. And as I begin writing, I find I'd rather find anything/everything positive in my life to write about as I wouldn't want them to open up a letter just to hear me bitch and complain. And suddenly, I am focusing on the positive pieces of my life instead of those silly little pieces that were bringing me down before. Instant smile.
Empty the closet! - Don't feel like facing the world? Then don't. Stay in. Sometimes that is exactly what I need.. goes with the lack of expression on my face. Sometimes I need to wear sweats, have greasy hair and stare off into space in silence. This is when I usually go through my closet, my drawers, my cupboard, anything, and just take stock on the many "things" I have in my life. Most things I don't need, in any way, whatsoever. So those get filtered out and passed over to a second-hand store. And sometimes I can't part with any item. Those days I just re-organize, make everything clean, tidy and create a mental checklist. Life gets cluttered, why should my home be the same?
My New Zealand Favourite Mood Booster - Walk the 4 blocks to the beauuutiful beach here at the Mount. I always take my camera, even though I'm sure I have every unique photo possible already, as I am simply stunned and amazed at the natural beauty, that requires zero human interaction to be so beautiful. I stand there thinking, "I have done absolutely nothing to create this, this has zero to do with me, and yet, here it is, allowing me to appreciate it".
I find it very humbling, energizing and inspiring!! It's amazing how close nature can be when you need it.. its just a matter of finding your way to it. Its usually closer than you think and less effort to get there than you imagined in your mind.
"Just the simple process of letting go of negative thoughts will allow your natural state of healthy to emerge within you. And your body will heal itself." - Rhonda Byrne, The Secret
"Experiencing what you don't want helps you work out what you do want." - Mia Freedman, Mamamia
"You are aware of where you want to go, but you honour and give your fullest attention to the step that you are taking at this moment" - Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now
Back in the car, seat belts on (safety first!!), decision made, we might as well give it a try! ZOOM - and we're on the beach, driving!! The little Camry really made it onto the beach! Woohoo!! Luke was in HEAVEN, zooming along, steering like a madman, or no steering at all... nothing in front of us but sweet sweet freedom.