Nature is awesome

#natureisawesome. I have been using that hashtag when sharing new images on my Instagram page, which is peppered with photos of books interspersed with scenic images of NZ nature. Earlier this morning, while driving in loops with Mr. Wanderlust, in search of an elusive track around a waterfall, I rounded the corner and felt my breath catch in my throat. Before us opened a magnificent view: rolling green hills overlooking a deep blue line of the ocean to our right, with Mount Maunganui and more Pacific blue to our left. I was struck with awe, yet the ubiquitous word ‘awesome’ suddenly felt too commonplace a description for this experience.

I have been a nature explorer since childhood. I vividly recall Sunday mornings when my parents would pack a picnic into a backpack and we would walk to the nearby forest, my playground. Later, in my teens, the weekend tradition continued. I would sit in the back of my parents’ car, quietly observing the countryside fields and forests on the way to a nature reserve. Sure, I complained from time to time about how much I wished I could have stayed home, but my mother always saw through the facade. Returning home after a soulful day out, blissfully exhausted, she felt it in the serene smile on my face.

One of our main intentions, upon deciding to move to NZ, was to dedicate our time to exploring the country and its beautiful beaches, mountains, and various other hiking — or tramping, as they are known here — tracks. On weekends and during school holidays, the Wanderlust Juniors join us, playing games along the way. Once, after several rainy days in the winter, they accompanied me on a muddy walk near a farm. Trust yours truly to venture off the beaten path to where the cows are. After they had started to get annoyed at having to jump over cow dung, I attempted to make the experience more fun for them by making up games and singing ‘Hey, diddle, diddle’ to the cows. Last weekend, during a bush walk up a hill, the Wanderlust Juniors created their own game upon feeling inspired by the forest.

“I’m Gandalf!” the eldest declared.

“I want to be Gandalf!” the youngest protested in return.

“You can be Saruman, but when he was good, in The Hobbit.”

With their walking staffs, they ran ahead to escape the Orcs — you guessed it, Mr. Wanderlust and me.

They observe, even when they run fast and appear lost in a fantasy world. Just as I once pretended to dance with the faeries in the clearing. The scent of warm pines in the summer and the song of the sparrows transports me, every time, back to that moment. Nature is awesome.

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What are your favourite places to walk, hike, run, and explore?

Four things that are saving me these days

Photo: View from the Kaimai Ranges, by Mr. Wanderlust

On Wednesday morning, I turned the calendar leaf to reveal the first day of a new month. It dawned on me that, although this new month doesn’t feel remotely like the Novembers I have come to know, with their cold gray rain-drenched streets and trees that shed their cover in preparation for a blanket of snow, it’s nevertheless the second-last month of the year. And oh, how time does fly. That same day, I walked through the local shopping centre, where tall artificial Christmas trees had popped up overnight, to the sound of Christmas songs playing. November has always been my least favourite month in the northern hemisphere, and although it feels different in NZ, where sunny days are interspersed with warm springtime rainfall, I remain vigilant of the state of my thoughts and emotions. The reason I prioritise self-care and consistently work to improve my wellness habits is precisely because it’s much too easy for me to slip.

These days, here are four things that are saving me and helping me to stay well:

1. Walks in nature

On most mornings, after I take the Wanderlust Juniors to school, I walk to the beach or through the reserve. Some days, I drive to the local hills or the Mount for a more challenging walk to the summit, where I stand in awe, gazing from above upon our spectacular city. From time to time, whenever Mr. Wanderlust is able to steal away from his work for an hour, he joins me. Sometimes, we ride our bicycles in lieu of walking. I wrote previously about the resistance I have been feeling, as of late, toward more formal forms of cardio. Of course, yoga is a necessary daily practice, but I also crave fresh air and outdoor movement. Once outside, I often feel I could walk for hours. Some days, I listen to music or a podcast, but I prefer to tune into the sounds of the ocean’s waves or birds around me and take it all in, observing the ornate seashells as I pass them on the sand, the sheep that graze on the hillside. I walk briskly, but my mind remains in a state of meditative flow. If I’m lucky, from time to time I’m able to eavesdrop inconspicuously on an interesting conversation that I file away as possible material for a story.

2. Healthy routines

About two months after our move to NZ, I began to feel particularly homesick. I went through what immigration experts term the ‘fight or flight’ phase, during which I compared everything in NZ to what I had come to love in Canada. Then, I would nitpick at everything that did not appeal to me as much as I had hoped it would. At the same time, I began to drown my emotions in jars of Nutella late in the evening. Believe me, dear reader, that for me to admit to this feels shameful. I have always prided myself on being a careful eater and I have always had a difficult relationship with sugar. I know that it’s best for me to avoid it altogether. These days, I am picking up the pieces of me that I misplaced during that challenging phase. One day at a time, I plan carefully, eating three healthy solid meals, and avoid snacking after dinner. I brush my teeth, slip into my pajamas, and unwind with some Yin or restorative yoga, followed by reading a few pages from a book before turning off the light. I myself have often felt that this routine sounds rigid, but it helps me to feel my best, and for Vata, consistent healthy routines are key.

3. Community

Community is another major factor in adjusting to our new life in NZ. It’s easy for me to be a hermit, to stay at home all day and avoid any social interaction. However, when I do start speaking with our neighbours or the members of the fitness club who attend my classes, the conversation often ventures beyond small talk and leaves me feeling fulfilled. Moreover, online interaction via the blog also brings its delights. Yesterday, I received an email from a friend who told me about how much this blog helped her friend when he was going through a challenging time. As a writer, I enjoy putting my work out there, but I often wonder about who actually reads it and whether anyone cares about the content I produce. Similarly, as a yoga teacher, I want to know whether I deliver the type of class that other expect to attend and whether, in my classes, I am able to effectively address issues that others often struggle with. That feedback is invaluable to me and helps to connect me to the greater community, both online and offline.

4. Small celebrations

Earlier this week, our children celebrated their first Hallowe’en in NZ. Hallowe’en is a new holiday here and was not celebrated traditionally the way it’s celebrated in North America and some parts of Europe. With the longer daylight hours, the Wanderlust Juniors trick-or-treated when it was still light out, and stopped at only one spooky house among the non-ornate ones. Nevertheless, they enjoyed every moment of their outing and were particularly delighted that they did not need to wear winter jackets over their costumes the way they used to have to do in Canada. Seeing their excitement reminded me that every day is to be celebrated and that dressing up is fun. When I shared this article on my personal Facebook page, about one of my favourite fictional characters and films, lamenting over the casual dress in NZ, a friend commented to remind me that I should feel free to dress up and express my style any day. She’s right, of course, and I intend to do just that. I feel better when I put more effort into my outfit, even on days when I don’t have anywhere special to go. We should not need to wait for an occasion. Instead, every day can be a special occasion if we make it so.

Your turn: What is saving you right now? If you live in the northern hemisphere where November is the cold month in-between fall and winter, what do you do to turn up the hygge and make this time of year more enjoyable? Please leave a comment below. 

In the spirit of community-building, thank you for sharing this blog with a friend. 

New on Instagram:

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Open to Wonder

When the days seem dark and bleak, shrouded in misery, seek out sunlight.

In a storm, light a candle, sip tea from your favourite mug, or call a friend whose brilliant smile will warm your heart.

When the noises around threaten to overwhelm us as they grow increasingly louder and create conflict, seek a quiet corner, even if that corner is inside a small closet.

When doubts are menacing and everyone around knows everything about what we should do next, where we should plan to go, and how we should behave, seek stillness.

Often, the answer is to do nothing at all.

When we have grown weary of chasing after solutions and have researched potential outcomes to no end, what more is there left to do?

Nothing. Nothing can be great sometimes.

When we feel lonely, may we seek out other footprints in the sand.

May we open our eyes, minds, and hearts to Wonder.

As I stepped onto the path between the dunes leading to the beach, I felt the pull of the ocean’s tide, heard its gentle whisper to be silent and let it do all the talking.

We have not always been friends, the ocean and I, but these days, I am letting it share its secrets with me. I remain forever a humble student in search of Wonder.

It’s here. It has always been here.

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Thank you for sharing this blog with a friend who might find resonance in these words.

What season is it, anyway?

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Early autumn colours in Muskoka, Ontario

We returned to New Zealand a few days ago after a two-week trip to Canada, where Mr. Wanderlust had to travel on business. The Wanderlust Juniors and I joined him, taking the opportunity to visit family.

We arrived in Toronto on the Saturday of Labour Day weekend, known in North America as the final summer weekend before the start of the new school year. Early September in the northern hemisphere signifies new beginnings not only for school children and university students. Many refer to it as the ‘other new year,’ perceiving it as an ideal time to make new health-related resolutions and start new projects. Autumn has always been my favourite season and I relish its golden and crimson colours, vibrant chrysanthemums at the farmers’ markets, and crisp mornings. I gratefully lean into the cosy warmth of the roaring fireplace following a rainy walk on the forest trail in October. I cherish the lingering traditional Thanksgiving comfort feast of turkey with root vegetables, cranberry sauce, and apple pie. I look forward, each year, to carving pumpkins in preparation for Hallowe’en. But not this year.

I have become dependent on the seasons, and the study of Ayurveda has reinforced that relationship, teaching me to nourish my body with warm, wholesome foods in the colder months. And so, back in NZ, where early September signifies the start of the spring season, I am greeted again by seasonal confusion. The buds on the trees are starting to sprout and the sheep grazing in the roadside fields are now accompanied by mini versions of themselves. Cherry and apple blossoms adorn our neighbours’ front yards, and the days are starting to become warmer, though rainy.

Thanksgiving and Hallowe’en are not celebrated in NZ. Walking through a dollar store in northern Ontario, the Wanderlust Juniors exclaimed with excitement upon seeing the aisles filled with ghouls, spider webs, and various other Hallowe’en decor and costumes. Walking through the local shopping mall in Mount Maunganui this morning, I caught sight of cotton summer dresses in bright colours, as well as straw beach hats and swimsuits. Beach season will be here in a few months.

Despite the disorientation, I am grateful for having two places that I can now call ‘home,’ one in the north and one in the south of the globe. Although it will take some time for me to get comfortable with the seasons in the southern hemisphere, and although I will miss the autumnal holidays that I love, it’s time to create new traditions. I suspect they will involve the beach and frequent barbecue suppers, and that sounds like a great start.

Your turn: Do you look forward to certain seasons and the celebrations that they bring? Do you enjoy the traditional four seasons or are you impartial to them? Please leave a comment below to contribute to the conversation.

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Bright beauty in Georgian Bay

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In praise of the daytime date

Dear readers: I will be on a blog break for the next two weeks. I invite you to read the archives in the meantime. 


On Monday mornings, after taking the Wanderlust Juniors to school, Mr. Wanderlust and I are off on a mini adventure together. On those days, he starts work later, and we have a bit of child-free couple time to enjoy. Now that we are living far away from family, we have to make the most of this opportunity. Monday mornings are for dates, and we love this arrangement.

What we do on Mondays depends on our mood. Sometimes, we go to the movies, enjoying an early matinée in an almost empty theatre, then eat lunch in a restaurant not typically favoured by our children. Sushi is one of our favourite treats, but it’s not the Wanderlust Juniors’ cup of tea. At other times, we choose an active outing with a walk up to the summit of the Mount or Papamoa Hills, or a stroll along the beach. Some Mondays are reserved for errand dates. When we were shopping for furniture for our new house, we spent a couple of Mondays at the furniture and appliance stores, choosing a fridge, washing machine, and a couch for the lounge.

We have come to treasure the daytime date. Although it might not seem romantic in comparison with a cosy dinner-and-movie outing, we enjoy it nevertheless. On a recent busier Monday on which both Mr. Wanderlust and I had to work in the morning, we walked to the local shopping plaza to run an errand after taking the boys to school. We returned home at 9:30 and began the work day, but while out for a walk, we had a chance to reconnect and discuss a few items pertaining to our respective work projects. On the other hand, I typically would not wish to discuss such matters while out for a romantic dinner. Other morning dates are more leisurely and resemble a lovers’ outing, albeit sunlit. Another benefit of this arrangement is that we typically have more energy earlier in the day, and spending time together in the morning gives us a boost for the remainder of the day. I think that’s a fabulous way to start a new week.

Do you enjoy morning / day dates or are you in favour of the traditional romantic evening rendez-vous? Please leave a comment below to contribute to the conversation.

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FAVOURITES FROM AROUND THE WEB:

I cringe when I see doodles on the pages of books, but this is clever.

A good reminder to get out of our heads and take action.

Until next time!

Sometimes, technology can be beautiful

Thank you for your patience during my two weeks away from the blog. If you are curious about what I have been up to during that time, I will not keep you guessing. Alas, I have been busy parenting. When life speeds up and situations take an unexpected turn, it’s often best to simplify the ‘to do’ list, making room for what matters most.

On Thursday of last week, Mr. Wanderlust sadly announced to me over email that what was to be a week-long business trip overseas had been extended by a few additional days. I broke the news to the Wanderlust Juniors over breakfast on Friday, then felt a tightening in my chest as I watched them silently lower their heads to stare into their bowls of cereal. Here was my opportunity to step up the mum game, to work to put a smile on my children’s faces.

That afternoon after school, instead of helping the boys with their homework, much to their delight and surprise, I drove to a local fast food restaurant. As they smiled in-between bites of their burgers and chips — a treat for our family — I told them that our next destination is the beach. After 4 p.m., the sun was still warm in the sky, and I knew that the sunset was to be spectacular.

When we arrived at the local beach, the Wanderlust Juniors played in the golden sand while I snapped photos (scroll down to see them) and observed the ocean. Then, my phone buzzed in my pocket, with an email from Mr. Wanderlust.

“Can we chat on Skype?”

Within a minute, his face was on the screen before us and the boys competed to show him the sand castles they built. I held the phone before the fire-lit sun as it started to make its descent to the left of Mount Maunganui. I allowed the gentle rolling waves to whisper their secret, inviting Mr. Wanderlust to return home.

A few extra days can feel painfully long.

We returned home with sea salt in our hair and serene expressions on our faces, grateful for an opportunity to share a peaceful sunset with Mr. Wanderlust while he sat in a windowless office in a faraway country. Sometimes, technology can be beautiful.

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FAVOURITES FROM AROUND THE WEB:

An interesting perspective on uptalk

Managing our energy

A YEAR AGO ON THE BLOG:

Have you read this book? I’d love to read your thoughts on it.

TWO YEARS AGO ON THE BLOG:

Better than yesterday

Wishing you a peaceful weekend!

Four Things I Learned Recently

This is an exciting week for our family, and I promise to tell you more about it in a few days. For now, I will share with you four things that I learned recently and which you might find interesting in reference to your own health and wellness:

1. A lack of routine can present a setback. 

I stumbled and have been working to get back up. Following our move to NZ, my regular fitness regimen took a hit. Although I have continued to exercise, I lost my routine of waking early in the morning for yoga. We have been staying in a small, charming beach house, and although we are fortunate to have these accommodations, it has proved to be challenging to find room in the house where I could exercise without waking my family. As an INFP, routine is of paramount importance to me. If I don’t schedule something into my calendar, it might not happen at all. Likewise, although I am passionate about a healthy lifestyle and my energy levels are the highest early in the day, in the winter when the sun rises late, if I don’t make the effort to go to bed early and wake up before everyone else, I might not make time later in the day for my yoga practice. This week, I have adapted a new routine and am diligently working to stick with it. How do you feel about steady routines? Do you tend to veer off the path when on holidays?

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2. Variety and consistency are the key to a good fitness regimen.

Speaking of exercise, it might sound funny, but I designate certain days of the week as my cardio days. As I mentioned above, if I don’t schedule something in my calendar, I might never get to it. I do enjoy cardio and toning; both forms of fitness benefit and complement my yoga practice. Yet, sometimes, I forget about them altogether. Even with a consistent fitness regimen, I need variety. Some days, I enjoy ballet barre-style exercise, and on other days, I combine toning and cardio into one fun cardio pilates routine. Similarly with yoga, I might start with Vinyasa and end with Yin, then the next day opt for a restorative practice if that is what my body craves. The key is to design the practice intuitively. How do you feel about scheduling exercise? What criteria do you use when choosing a fitness regimen?

3. Different personality types have drastically distinct approaches toward starting a business.

Listen to the podcast here. This explains why Mr. Wanderlust is more inclined toward playing things safe when it comes to starting new projects, whereas I am more likely to abandon all prior commitments to launch directly into something novel and exciting. It turns out neither of us is wrong in our approaches. I’m curious to read about how this applies to your personality type and perhaps to your business venture or special project.

P.S. In the above podcast, there is also an update on new research that indicates that consumption of fruit and vegetables can nourish not only the body but also the mind, fuelling creativity and curiosity.

4. Aromatherapy continues to come to my rescue.

A few years ago, I started to experiment with essential oils. I am sensitive to various conventional products and, naturally, don’t want my family to be exposed to harmful substances. As such, I continue to concoct my own natural cleaning products for my yoga mat and for our home. Likewise, I only use skincare products that are naturally derived and gentle on my skin. I have always enjoyed specific scents but have recently become increasingly sensitive to certain fragrances, leading me to be selective about products that are not strongly scented but nevertheless provide me with a welcome aromatherapy boost. I was recently introduced to HZP + Co, a company based in the Bay of Plenty, our new home in NZ, which creates natural skincare products with the most delicious light scents. I can’t say enough about the beautiful Hydra-Defence Serum and Cream to Body Oil, created with local kiwifruit, mamaku leaf, and kowhai extracts. The Wake Me Up Splashwater, with a blend of citrus oils, has become my magic mist on dark mornings when it’s challenging to roll out of bed. Do you enjoy scented skincare and/or home cleaning products? What are a few of your favourite scents?

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Do you have a few additional minutes to stay and read? 

One year ago on the blog: Anniversary

Two years ago on the blog: Marriage Lessons from the Past Nine Years

A favourite from around the web: The Myth of the Teachable Moment

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A tranquil scene on one of the beautiful paths to the summit of Mount Maunganui
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Exploring Papamoa Hills

Please leave a comment below to join the conversation, and thank you, as always, for sharing this blog with a friend! 

Seasonal confusion

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I write this while watching the rain fall and listening to the wind whistle outside the window of our beach house. This is winter weather in the Bay of Plenty, on the east coast of NZ’s north island. Earlier this morning, the Wanderlust Juniors and I speed-walked to school, huddled together under an umbrella bent out of shape by a strong wind gust. Yet, it’s also warm out, with a daily high of 15-16°C. It would be embarrassing of me to complain about the lack of sunshine in such mild winter weather. I have never been a fan of cold weather, and I love rainy days, with their invitation for introspection.

The Wanderlust Juniors share their puzzled thoughts with me: “When are we going to celebrate Christmas?” I explained to them, again, that although the winter season in NZ is in June, July, and August — the months that we have come to think of as a time of hot, lazy days that stretch on — Christmas is celebrated everywhere in the world on December 25th, regardless of the season. I sympathise with my children’s confusion. A winter without snow does not feel unusual to me. Growing up, I spent several years in Israel where winters were rainy, with a wet chill, similar in fact to winters in our part of NZ. Yet, it does feel odd to think of winter without Christmas and New Year’s Eve, just as, I am sure, it will feel especially strange to celebrate those holidays in the midst of summer.

During a Skype conversation, my mother-in-law shows off a beautiful shift dress that she wears almost on a daily basis, telling me that the weather in the Toronto area has cooled down slightly after last week’s 30°C. We purchased the dress together, three summers ago, at an outdoor market in Kincardine, Ontario while on a summer holiday. I sit at my computer with the heater before me, snuggled inside my favourite grey wrap cardigan that she gifted to me two years ago. The cardigan, the dress, and my in-laws’ faces so close to mine, separated only by the screen of the laptop, blur the mid-summer and mid-winter into one undefinable interconnecting season.

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Favourites from around the web:

Why You Need “White Space” in Your Daily Routine

“Time scarcity is like kryptonite for creativity. If we want to create an environment that nourishes innovation and imagination, we need to build quiet counterpoints into our daily rhythm. These small moments of “white space”— where we have time to pause and reflect, or go for a walk, or just breathe deeply for a few moments — are what give balance and flow and comprehension to our lives as a larger whole.”

The Secret to Small Talk

“Watching Eli throw himself into every social encounter, it occurred to me that, in similar situations, I focus so much on saying exactly the right thing that I hardly pay any attention to the other person. I’m more concerned about how I look to them than I am about getting to know them. Lacking that concern, Eli grasped what has long eluded me: that most people aren’t excessively judgmental. They’re quick to forgive. And more often than not, they want to connect.”

Resilience and Emotional Agility

Previously on Mindful Daydreamer:

A year ago on the blog: Multipotentiality Exploration

Two years ago on the blog: Watching and Weaving

Wishing you a fulfilling weekend!

To the Hills – Part II, in which we meet an unlikely tour guide

The first time I visited Papamoa Hills, with the Wanderlust Juniors, we walked along the main track to the summit. A week later, when I returned to the hills with Mr. Wanderlust, we climbed over a fence, beckoned by an irresistible view, and chose to take the path less travelled. The choice was easy. We walked toward the sun and the dew-glistened grassy peaks that reminded us of a scene from The Hobbit. The main path provides a great cardio and lower body toning workout, but that’s not what we were after on this day. I have been working to move away from my old tendency to rush through life, to choose to work harder, to move faster, to get more done in a short amount of time. These days, I give myself permission to slow down and enjoy the journey. I’m tired of trying too hard to make something happen. I have been making conscious decisions to keep moving ahead with an attitude of ease and softness.

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These days, I also allow myself, from time to time, to be guided by someone — or something — else. I settle into the backseat and let someone else drive and navigate. Like Alice, I lean into the adventure and allow curiosity to write the story. We wandered along the grassy, gently sloping path, welcoming the warmth of the sun on an otherwise cool morning. As we rounded a corner, we found ourselves almost face-to-face with an unlikely tour guide: a brown cow. She stood still before us, her gaze wandering between us, the visitors, and her fellow grazers on the hillside, behind the low electric fence. Somehow, she had become separated from them.

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The cow sauntered before us and we followed at the same unhurried pace, not daring to attempt to pass behind her every time she slowed and then came to stand still. She positioned her body to block our path entirely, then reluctantly turned her head to glare at us, unimpressed. We had intruded upon her as she tried to make sense of her predicament and now waited for her to continue to move forth. We followed her lead, accompanied by the curious surveillance of the other cows whose breakfast we had interrupted. They ogled us while continuing to chew mouthfuls of grass, their scent transporting me to my childhood summers on the farm in Siberia where my mother grew up and where, much to my repugnance, my grandmother had once attempted to teach me to milk a cow.

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After a short meditative walk, our reluctant tour guide reached a fence and a locked gate, and without so much as a quick glance at us, stepped off the path with surprising grace, giving us passage over the fence, and proceeded with her own snacking on a particularly lush mound of long grass. We turned to thank our gentle guide for leading us along the path and saw that, although she remained separate from her herd, she resigned herself to this situation and continued to do what came to her with ease.

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We continued our journey, climbing over fences to sit on a bench overlooking peaceful farmlands, our new neighbourhood, and the vast ocean beyond. I twirled and danced, singing a few lines from The Sound of Music, much to the amusement of my husband, who was thankful for our solitude on that quiet hill. Then, we proceeded with our walk to the summit, relying on the maps upon which we stumbled along the way. As for our tour guide, I suspect she quietly awaited the return of the farmer at the end of the day, then gratefully followed his lead. How’s that for a lesson in acquiescence?

Are you enjoying this blog? Please share it with a friend.


 

If you were not able to join my live Facebook video earlier this week, you may watch it at your leisure. In it, I share with you my insights to help you reconnect to mindfulness and joy on a daily basis.


Interested in reading more? Here are a couple of posts from the archives:

A year ago on the blog: A story of commitment, dedication, and love

Two years ago on the blog, and something with which I continue to grapple today: A Story to Tell

To the Hills – Part I

On Tuesday, June 13th at 8 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time / Wednesday, June 14th at 12 p.m. NZ time, I will be LIVE on Facebook, talking about how we can practise mindfulness and rediscover joy every day. I look forward to chatting with you.


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The sun’s rays broke briefly through the low moody clouds as we sat on a bench that was missing its third plank. The Wanderlust Juniors ate mandarins and granola bars, then the eldest boy fine-tuned his binoculars, a family antique gifted to him by my dad, to better observe the sheep grazing on the hillside. The gloomy clouds reflected our thoughts and emotions, having said goodbye to Mr. Wanderlust the night before at the airport. On Day 1 of his week-long business trip, we felt his absence.

I gently encouraged the Wanderlust Juniors to continue walking up the track to the summit of Papamoa Hills. Reluctantly, they agreed to my idea with the promise that they would later relax at home with a movie. Given a choice, in a manner not at all resembling their usual enthusiasm for adventure outings, they would have spent that entire day indoors, coming up with ideas that would inevitably lead to some kind of trouble. In the interest of self-care, and in trying to keep a copacetic state in my household, I could not have agreed to such a proposition. We needed to leave our small beach bungalow, with its stuffy misplaced emotions. I needed to clear my head of concern about Mr. Wanderlust as I waited to learn of his safe arrival at his destination after a 16-hour flight. I also needed space to breathe after having stopped too many mischievous incidents within the first hour after the boys’ too-early rising. Shortly after 8 o’clock, having packed a small picnic and my camera, we took a short drive to the hills.

The crystal-clear air beckoned forth as we walked the inclining path. The low silver pillows of clouds hovered menacingly overhead, yet we solemnly continued our trek. One boy would stop after every few steps to play dreamily with stones that he picked up along the way, or to collect a couple of sticks. The other would race ahead, then halt and wait for us to catch up. It would be dishonest of me to say that I did not at times feel a pang of frustration at the snail’s pace of our walk. That feeling would arise every time I noticed that another person who had passed by us not long ago on the way up was already returning down the path toward us. I reminded myself to enjoy the flow, however slow it may feel at times, to stop when they stop, to move when they move, to forget my agenda and give up control. Besides, I shrugged, anything is better than trying to entertain two bored boys inside a small home. Before long, we had reached the summit but did not linger. The triumphant ascend reminded my two excitable boys of their adventurous enthusiasm and they raced each other along the winding track to the parking lot.

Later, at home, following a comforting Skype chat with Mr. Wanderlust, the atmosphere felt significantly lighter. The sky released its own heavy weight as the rain came after lunch, making our afternoon at home with a movie and banana-chocolate chip cake all the more cosy.

A week later, Mr. Wanderlust and I returned to the hills for a morning date. Come back on Friday to read part II of the story, in which I tell you of our outing with an unlikely tour guide.

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Favourites from around the web:

Wisdom from Anne Lamott

In defence of slow fitness This is my approach to exercise.

Networking 101: Make Friends Not Contacts

Five ways to survive entertaining as an introvert This is always a good reminder for me.

Something quirky for the fellow grammar nerd: The Oxford Comma’s Online Dating Profile

Thank you for sharing this blog with a friend.