Photo essay: We learn to bend so that we won’t break

 

We learn to bend so that we won’t break.  Those are our options.

A part of me wants to tell the world I have been hurt too many times to move ahead.
A part of me wants to justify how my pain has left me frozen, petrfied, and unable to let go.
A part of me is so afraid to look at what is hurting me that it would rather escape than face it.
A part of me us afraid to see because it knows that in seeing, I will be asked to let go. And that in letting go, I will be asked to be reborn. And that in being reborn, I will have to uncover who I truly am.

But another part of me knows in every ounce and inch of its being that I am serving no one,  not one single life by staying asleep.
A part of me is beckoning me to move up and out from all of the places of ungrowth, the dark rooms of stagnant air.
A part of me is being propelled out into this great wilderness, and asking to discover the power hidden within the creases of my skin, resting on the tips of my eyelashes, travelling in the veins that surge through me.

You are longing to be more alive.
You are longing to be fully present to your one, precious life.
You are not afraid.
You are ready, dear one, to be accountable, to be wholly responsible for your life.

 

If you can relate to any of those words, I’d really recommend taking 10 minutes out of your day to listen to Sarah Blondin’s full meditation right here from the Live Awake Project. As for the photos, they were all taken in Warburton last week, while I was there taking a little time away from it all, learning to bend 🙂

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Through my eyes: sunrise over Port Arthur, Tasmania

Just a quick little post to end the week  : )  You saw the Port Arthur Motor Inn on Thursday and I’ll show you more of the old convict colony tomorrow, but for now let me show you the view from the grounds when you decide to set your alarm super early, make a cup of tea, and wander out the back of the lodging to watch the sun come up over the historic site…

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Through my eyes: road trip – Hobart to Port Arthur

I decided to go with a bit of a theme for the next week; Port Arthur.

Unfortunately, Port Arthur gained attention for all the wrong reasons 20 years ago, in 1996, as the site of Australia’s worst massacre. For personal reasons, that’s not something I want to write about… Instead, I want to talk about what Port Arthur should be known for; it’s one of the absolute most stunning places I’ve ever seen, and the site of one of Australia’s best-kept convict colonies.

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More of that soon, but first we have to get there! We drove from Hobart, which is only about a 90 minute drive, but we decided to drag it out and stop off at as many sweet little towns as possible on the way  : )

We had quite a few stops, including…

Sorell
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Forcett

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Copping
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Bream Creek
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The Federation Chocolate Factory (!!!)

Pirate’s Bay

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Tasman Arch and the blow hole
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Honestly, this was one of the best parts of the trip. Having the car meant that we got to stop off whenever we wanted. Any beautiful photo op we noticed (and there were a HEAP of those!), we pulled over and captured it. Any beautiful scene we drove through, we stopped to enjoy it. Yes, you can absolutely get there quickly; hell, you can even do it as a day trip from Hobart if you want, but why would you when you can take the slow path and enjoy every step?!

Urban paradise: Milton Lee Olive Park, Chicago

It’s incredible how well hidden this park is in plain sight… It’s not like it’s particularly small, and it’s right near Navy Pier, yet when we visited, we were the only people around; it was completely deserted.

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Located just north of Navy Pier and just west of the purification plant, Milton Lee Olive Park is a beautiful little urban paradise. It’s the perfect spot to escape the city craziness of Chicago, while simultaneously enjoying one of the most beautiful views of the city over the water. The sand of the beach was spotless, the bare trees were beautiful in their own skeletal way, and the water was the most gorgeous shade of icy, winter blue.

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It always amazes me to find such perfect little paradises like this so empty and barren… I guess it just goes to show that city dwellers everywhere probably need to take a little more time to escape the hectic, fast paced lifestyle and take a little time to sit back and enjoy the beauty of a big city from a distance every now and then.

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Through my eyes: Rice fields of Vietnam

 

You’d think I’d have gotten sick of them, but each rice field I passed in Vietnam was more beautiful than the last…

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Cycling the islets of Hoi An, Vietnam with Heaven & Earth Tours

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Sib and I have always been pretty healthy and active – she grew up a head taller than the rest of the kids and excelled in everything she did, particularly basketball. I’m no where near as naturally athletically gifted, but still somehow wound up with a degree in Exercise Science, a great 8 year career as a personal trainer and a black belt martial artist. After having been repeatedly told that the best way to see Vietnam was by bicycle, we decided to actually do a proper day-long tour, rather than just hiring bikes for an hour. Sib’s a good rider and really enjoys is. I can ride, but am prone to freaking out if I have to ride in traffic. We figured this lovely tour around the quiet, secluded islets of Hoi An was a good way to do it.

After an afternoon of online research, we found Heaven and Earth Bicycle Tours (http://www.vietnam-bicycle.com/). We read glowing review after glowing review from very happy customers, and decided on the 23km “Real Vietnam” tour. Our itinerary read as follows:
After a boat transfer, of approximately one hour on the Thu Bon river, you will arrive at a small village in the middle of the delta where you will begin your cycling tour. The morning will be spent cycling 14km across the countryside and rice fields. You will cross from island to island taking the unusual bridges made from wood or bamboo. A short boat crossing will bring you to a small island where you will enjoy lunch in the home at a local family. In the afternoon you will continue the same route as the “Countryside Bicycle Tour” and discovering local crafts. This tour includes crossing the river on a local ferry, visiting the crafts workshops, crossing a floating bridge, and a bamboo bridge, and several other stops along the way.

Our tour cost only AUD$47.00 per person, and included our lunch, bike and helmet hire, our guide and assistant (I’ll get to them, they were AMAZING!), and a few visits along the path. We were pretty happy with it all and booked on the spot, paying via PayPal, which made things very easy.

The morning of the tour, we caught a taxi to Heaven and Earth’s head office and walked up the front stairs with anxious excitement. After a quick confirmation that we were indeed paid and on the tour, we grabbed a helmet each and went outside to meet the girls who helped us pick out and adjust our bikes. Once the whole group was saddled up and ready to go, they handed us each a 1 litre bottle of water to clip to the back of our bikes, and led the way for a short peddle from the office to the water where our boat was waiting for us.

We spent an hour on the brilliant blue, calm water, weaving in and out of the fishing nets, getting to know our family for the day.
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There were just 8 of us, plus the two amazing women who led us, educated us, looked after us, and quickly became our friends. Trinh and Nahm – you ladies are absolutely amazing! When you book your bike tour around Hoi An (and you’re crazy if you don’t), make sure you ask for these girls.
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Once we hit dry land, we rode on and off for the rest of the day. The girls were really fantastic – Trinh leading the way and Nham holding the fort at the back of the pack, making sure everyone was accounted for, comfortable and managing the ride in the blistering heat. They stopped us regularly for water and photo breaks, always letting us know how far we’d come, how far our next riding stint would be, what our next stop would entail, and what kind of terrain we’d be encountering.

Instead of writing about everything we saw and did, I’m going to let the photos do the talking – no words could possibly do the truly breath taking natural beauty of this place justice 🙂

After riding a few kilometres through the most perfectly green rice fields you’ve ever seen…
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.. we made our first stop in a gorgeous, colourful neighbourhood to learn how to make rice paper.
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We rode a little more through some surprisingly diverse landscapes…
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We also got stuck at a few of these very old bamboo bridges. We were told we could try cycling across if we felt brave. I did not. I walked.
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Next stop was another beautiful neighbourhood, where we met two women who wove the traditional Vietnamese mats. You could feel the mood change, you could almost touch the sadness we were all overcome with, when we were told that these beautiful, large, intricate mats that took 4 hours each to make sold for only USD$5.00, and the women earned only USD$1.00 per mat. To see these kind, smiling women, bent over in manual labour was hard enough. To imagine them doing this for 8 hours a day and earning only $2.00, was beyond the scope of anything we could imagine. It was a really humbling moment for all of us.
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We rode only a little further before stopping for lunch – home cooked and unbelievably good! We were then invited into the home for an explanation about some of the traditions that still hold in Vietnamese homes.
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Next up was a stop on the water to learn how to and try to paddle the little round basket boats.
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We also had stops to see how incense sticks were made, and also met a man who carved out the tiny detailed mother-of-pearl patterns that are inlaid into wooden products.
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It was a long day in very hot, humid weather (we left our hotel at 7.30am and didn’t get back until around 2.30pm), but it was one of the best travel experiences I’ve ever had. If you’re in Hoi An, even if you’re not particularly athletic, please do yourself a favour and jump on a bike with Heaven and Earth!

Through my eyes: Positano, Italy

This is a city perched precariously on cliff faces, with countless stairs to climb, and the most stunning views. It’s relatively cut off from the rest of the world, therefore prices for almost everything are a lot higher than they should be, but it doesn’t seem to stop the tourist hoards from taking over in summer. We visited in the cold, and it was every bit as stunning, if not more so. The cold left only the locals; we were two of the very few visitors to the city, which made me very thankful for the ability to speak Italian – no one much seemed to be bothered with foreigners and their languages. We walked until we couldn’t possibly take another step, then glimpse something like a tiny little greengrocers up an absurd flight of stairs, find our second wind, and take off to buy some food. There were “picnics” on our hotel room balcony, rugged up against the biting cold, giggling like children as we ate our prosciutto and Parmigiano cheese, sipping Italian wine, and playing an Italian card game I quickly taught husband. We were seriously living the life we had always wanted, and we couldn’t stop laughing, because we were in shock that we’d finally done it.

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014