Saturday, July 30, 2016

Turning 40

So here it is.

  • The big 4-0 
  • Life begins at 40
  • I'm not 40. I'm 18 with 22 years of experience

... and there are heaps of quotes about turning 40, and just getting old in general.

I turned 40 a couple of weeks ago and can safely say: I don't feel an ounce different than I felt when I turned 20.

OK that's a lie. Actually, I feel a lot better. I feel more myself, more confident, more in tune with who I am and what I want than ever before.

I love being 40. I think it's hot and just oozes sex appeal all around.

The best part of my being 40 is people telling me they thought I was 30! 
Damn I make 40 look good!

OK all jokes aside now...

I don't think you suddenly wake up and are this amazing 40-year old person who loves herself. You have to give credit to the preceding years.

I started on this journey into myself in my mid-thirties... and it has taken a few years to get here. It just so happened to have arrived right bang on time with my 40th (actually, it might be argued that it happened at 38... but let's not get into specifics). I'm sure that had I started this journey in my 20s, I might be here blogging on my 35th birthday about the same thing.

Turning 40 for me has so far meant the following:

1. I really couldn't care what people think about me or anything I do anymore
For most of my life, I never really cared to be honest - that's just my personality.... but now I care even less. So while I might have been affected by an old friend or a family member with something they said or thought about me...I don't give a rat's ass anymore. If they can't deal with something I've said or done - when I wasn't even being offensive or insulting - then that's their problem and they need to learn to deal with different people and personalities. I'm tired of changing my ways to suit and please others. I am who I am.

2. I want to do what makes me feel good.
I lived my life compromising ALL the time and giving up things I wanted to do for the 'greater happiness of others around me'. I don't do that nearly as much anymore and tend to focus on what makes me happy. Trying to be as authentic to myself as possible - and as a result, authentic to those around me.  Of course, when you're in a relationship you have to compromise a little... but luckily for me there isn't much compromise I need to do because...

3.  I'd rather live with high standards and alone
...than settle for someone because I was afraid of growing old alone. So I chose a partner entirely because he ticked most, if not all, the boxes. When you do that, you don't really feel like you're compromising,,,because you're on the same page about 99% of the time. I know I'm lucky here... and I'm pretty sure we're still in the honeymoon phase and once that ends, I will probably be on here humming a different tune! haha!

4. Being smart about health & fitness
I'm so fed up of years of trying to lose weight, build muscle, etc...I'm actually fed up of beating myself up about how I look - I have fat legs, I have a fat ass, I have cellulite...I could never get away with wearing that. And diet after stupid diet, and stupid exercise after stupid exercise time and time again has proven that that's not the way to go.

I agree that a woman should love her body and accept it as it is, but the truth is I just don't. And I'm not ashamed to say it in a matter of fact kind of way (ah the perks of being raw and honest with yourself at 40). I don't like my body - and I don't see anything wrong with that sentiment. I have the right to feel however I want about myself.

I'm grateful to be healthy and without problems, illnesses or diseases so don't get me wrong. I thank the Universe everyday for having my healthy and functioning body. I can do things that many people can't and I know I am strong.

I also recognize my body is not aesthetically pleasing - at least not to me. And instead of whining about it and following stupid fads, I've decided to take charge and train smart and eat (mostly) smart. I'm 40, so who gives a shit! I got time! I ain't goin' nowhere. I have a gym I can use at work (for free), an incredible trainer who is a 3-time Fitness Competitor.... I will confess it here... I am trying myself out to see if I can qualify to do my first ever Bikini Comp. There I said it!

If it works, YAY. If it doesn't and I'm unable to see it through for whatever reason, I am not going to beat myself up about it. I will continue to train... it might take me longer than others because of my age, but as I said.... I got time, and I ain't goin' nowhere.

5. Accepting and embracing flaws
Another thing I became fed up with over a period of...oh 30 fucking years... is trying to be perfect. Trying to be everything to everyone. Because you know what? You will never be everything to anyone. And there is always at least 10 people shaking their heads in disappointment at you. So... in the words of my father "To hell with them!" (in my best Spanish/English accent!) Marilyn Monroe said it perfectly "If you can't handle me at my worst, you don't deserve me at my best".

6. It's not worth it
In my younger years I held the olympic torch for the mistreatment of spoilt teenagers human beings everywhere! My rebellion was charged with an ever growing book and article list on Human Rights, philosopher's from the Enlightenment Age, political activists, political singers/songwriters,.. you name it, I read it, heard it, sang it, wrote it... Fighting for the right to express your opinion and for freedom of thought throughout my teens and 20s seemed like it was my calling in life. Even my high school year book said that I was most likely to study Civil Rights Law and become a human rights lawyer! I embarked on my life as a university student with "International Relations" and "Mass Communications" as my subjects of choice. I was known for being vocal and having very strong opinions - and it was a time when I was smart and well-read enough to quantify my arguments (boy did I used to love to argue). Fight for rights! Fight for freedom of expression! Fight for justice! Fight for love!

My how things have changed!

I honestly have no energy now to fight anything or anyone anymore. because I don't think it's worth it at all. You are welcome to your shitty ideals and opinions - it doesn't affect me. Go for it! You're only making yourself look stupid.

I've developed the mindset that "it's not my job to teach you how to think"... "if you can't do it now, it's not my job to show you how to... you're a grown person and if this is where life experience has brought you, then that's your life, and nothing to do with me, and I'm happy for you... go in peace!" Whereas previously I might have argued and tried to change that person's mind or attitude and fought for the change.

There are billions of people on the planet each with billions of individual experiences. Each with hundreds and thousands of reactions, sensitivities, thought patterns, upbringings, exposures, etc. Everyone has had experiences and come from a background that has shaped them and brought them to where they are today - and ALL those experiences are valid. I feel that as imbecile as you might think that person is, their opinions are valid and they have a right to express them.

Getting all in a huff and puff about why they think the way they do is just not worth it - specially that at the end of the day, out of the 2 of you, it's you who's getting annoyed, not them! If they are racist, discriminatory, douchebags, narrow-minded, misinformed, brainwashed, etc, nothing you say now is going to change them. You can try... and I still do sometimes, but not with the former fervour...but chances are unless they are young and still 'moldable', it's really not worth it.

So in a nutshell, turning 40 to me has ultimately come to mean one thing:

Live and let live....

Saturday, July 16, 2016

New Norcia

Australia's only monastic town lives in Western Australia, about an hour and a half's drive from Perth.

New Norcia got its name from two Spanish Benedictine monks who decreed it "Norcia", after Norcia in Italy, the birthpace of St. Benedict.

The heart and soul of the town is the Benedictine Monastery.

It was a rainy weekend in Perth and we had nothing to do, so J and I decided to head up to New Norcia for a little road trip. I'd been telling him about the town for a while as I was recommended to see it by a few people,  not only for its  antiquated charm but also for its port! Apparently, the monks there made their own port inside the monastery and it was worth a trip.

On arrival, this was the first thing we saw:

The New Norcia Hotel looked like something out of North and South (if you've never seen that show you were either born after 1985 or had a way better childhood)...

Anyway, the hotel seemed to be the main tourist eatery and also sold "Abbey Ale", which is the local beer. They also sold some of that monk port!

They would only sell the Abbey Ale in half pints because, as we found out later, it had a 7% alcohol content! Some pretty strong stuff (at least for me). After a couple of servings of the Abbey Ale and some lunch, we set off on our sightseeing.

Unfortunately the weather was not on our side and it was difficult to see much through the car windows.

New Norcia is quite small and we didn't know what else there was to see, apart from the monastery. To be honest, I probably should have read up about it a bit more. We did try to get some info from the tourist shop, but in all fairness it was entirely based around the town's Benedictine monastery, its monks and other religious paraphernalia. If you're not religious and/or don't have an appreciation for religious history, there's really not much else to do or see there.

Nevertheless, I still felt it was worth a short half-day trip to see another part of Western Australia that had a deeper history, try the local ale, buy some port, and appreciate some interesting architecture.

The Monastery
Inside the Monastery

The Port!!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Disney on Ice - Magical Ice Festival

Being a mother to a 5 year old girl, I knew I couldn't pass up the opportunity to take my little one to watch Disney on Ice this year... specially when the stars of the show were going to be Anna and Elsa from Frozen - her (and every other little girl's) favourite!

Disney on Ice is no newcomer to Perth Arena, but my little one and I were newcomers to Disney on Ice! We couldn't wait! This year the theme was "Magical Ice Festival"
We met up with a friend and her daughter, and set off to the city for a girlie lunch at Jamie's Italian Restaurant before the show.

It seems everybody had the same idea. Jamie's Italian Restaurant (as well as what felt like the whole of Perth CBD!) was just a sea of little girls dressed in the infamous blue Elsa dress. It was all very cute.

After our girls finished munching on their chicken sticks (very yummy and healthy! Thanks Jamie!) and we polished off 2 Italian Proseccos* we made our way to Perth Arena.

*we did have food with our Proseccos

As with every event at Perth Arena there was plenty of theme-appropriate merchandise being sold in the foyer. Oversized light-flashing wands and more, were going for a mind-boggling amount of $35! No thanks.

We went straight to the snack bar to buy cotton candy and other junk.

I'd like a wine please", we said to the bar staff.
"I'm sorry, this is an alcohol-free event!"

Really Perth Arena... how much money would you have made serving wine to all those mothers! Missed business opportunity!

This is applicable at kids' shows too, not just Mother's Day!

So we made our way to our seats and waited for the show to begin.

Minnie and Mickey Mouse made their grand entrance and welcomed everyone to the event.

I really need a new camera....
Donald Duck and Goofy also performed their comical sketches and everyone did a little song and ice dance.

Then the protagnists for all the main "princessy" cartoons began. Even Cinderella's step sisters made an appearance! Rapunzel, Ariel, Belle... beautiful dancing, beautiful costumes and clever stage tricks.

And finally, the most anticipated stars of the show that had every little girl in the Arena up on her toes and singing along:

Anna and Elsa take centre stage

It was so amazing... the music, the clever choreography and effects, the stage setting... my little one loved it all!

I would definitely go back to watch Disney on Ice if it comes to Perth again next year. Perth Arena is also a fantastic venue to host this, with good seating and a very friendly and organised team of people coordinating the day, so that kids and their parents/carers could just sit back and enjoy a magical show.

Though I would definitely recommend selling wine next time ;-)

Rapunzel and 'mother' from Tangled performing "Mother Knows Best"
Belle and the cast of Beauty and the Beast performing "Be Our Guest"
Anna & Prince Hans of the Southern Isles
Elsa sets off an eternal winter
Let it go... Let it go!! "

"Only an act of true love can thaw a frozen heart"

Spring is returned to the Kingdom of Arendelle

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Cellar to Cellar

My partner J once told me about this drinking 'concept' called Fridge to Fridge.

In his case, Fridge to Fridge involved his group of male friends where each person in the group took turns playing host by offering up their house and fridge for a specific brand of beer.

The boys would start at Person A's house, stopping later at house B, then house C, etc. and finishing up for a raucous night at the final host's place.

Each house stop consisted of drinking a particular beer then getting on bicycles (yes, you read that right), and cycling over to the next house, where they would imbibe in another type of beer, and so on..

Think of it as a bar hop, a pub crawl, but of houses... and on bikes.

I love novel ideas and this one just sounded like an awesome night out to me. So I looked forward to one day participating in my own Fridge to Fridge night out (seeing as J's friends kept it Estrogen-free).

So this year, one of J's friends suggested to open up their usual boys Fridge to Fridge night to their wives and partners. They decided to make it a more 'upmarket' night out that would allow the girls to dress up for the occasion. Hence the birth of Cellar to Cellar.

Like Fridge to Fridge, Cellar to Cellar consisted of each couple hosting a portion of the evening and serving a particular type of wine. Instead of getting on bicycles, our mode of transport was a pre-arranged bus that would shuttle us from house to house. All very civilized (and high-heel friendly).

J and I were excited about being a part of this and were looking forward to hosting and spending some time with his friends. Of about 7-8 couples, I only knew one, so I admit initially I felt a bit daunted about it all. However, as a TCK, I am so used to meeting new people and thought I would use it as an opportunity to make new friends. Bring it on! And besides... someone said "wine"...

Our house was nominated as first stop and our given wine would be a sparkling. The next house was allocated whites (Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling I believe), at the following location we would move on to the reds and so on and so forth.

Each house also offered complimentary tapas-sized meals to accompany the wines. These ranged from light options such as sushi rolls and olives, to pork belly portions, chorizo, melon wrapped in prosciutto and even mussels. I loved all these scrumptious offerings, and the wine pairing was spot on every time. I had a great night out considering I didn't know anyone!

On a side note, I think I might have preferred the more low-key version. I'm not one for dressing up and enjoy feeling comfortable in jeans and a top rather than cocktail dress and heels. Nevertheless, I did have a fantastic night (I was also the least dressed up!)  If I had to choose, I probably would have preferred the Fridge to Fridge version (bikes included!), but that's just me.

So Fridge to Fridge is a thing in Australia, and not just among J and his friends. There is an actual event called Tour De Fridge and I have seen it described as being Australia's version of Tour de France, since the event takes place on bikes (but with more drinking and not as much competitive cycling)! I found this blog about one event, and this article is about one that took place in Perth!

I love this concept and it's definitely one I would like to try one day. I do like the idea of Cellar to Cellar and I'm sure you can personalize this however you want. When trying to find things to do with friends outside of the usual going out to pubs or nightclubs, Fridge to Fridge and Cellar to Cellar are fun and creative ideas for a night out with friends.


Thursday, May 5, 2016

DARE Adventures

ANZAC Day in Australia is a holiday that commemorates the Australian and New Zealand Army Corp who landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey on April 25th 1951 during the First World War.

In Perth (and Australia-wide) it's a public holiday. And every year around this time, there's a group of about 10-15 families who head to the town of Dwellingup, which is little town about an hour and a half's drive south of Perth, where we take part in a long weekend of glamping on the Dare Adventures camp site.

Dare Adventures offers a variety of activities for kids and adults (though it is more kid friendly). We took part in the Flying Fox, Abseiling and did a few nature walks. We had 2-3 activity coordinators from DARE Adventures who came to see us and took us through how to use the activities we'd signed up to. They were very friendly and even stuck around afterwards to socialize a bit with us.

The kids rode their bikes along a "mountain bike"-type track - and the mums joined them as well... cuz we're cool like that and think we're still 15....We played football, chase, hide and seek, you name it... it was played.

Here are a few pictures from some of the activities:

posers in their harnesses before the Flying Fox

the kids all waiting in anticipating to get on the Flying Fox

pulling the carriage (Flying Fox) back to base
The kids (and some mums) got to ride an electric skateboard!*

Big wide open spaces for bikes, running, etc.

Our 'cottage'


We built fires and told [drunken] stories around them (the adults, not the kids obviously!), played Pictionary, roasted marshmallows on the fire, had a watermelon eating competition... some dads may or may not have disappeared at some stage to watch a footy game (or 3....*ahem*)...we painted our nails, laughed our asses off and just had the best time!

All in all it was a fantastic weekend with some of the most wonderful people I've been fortunate to know in Perth! Kids and parents had an amazing time and we are looking forward to doing it all over again next year, same time, same place.

If you're ever wondering where to take the family for an adventure camping experience, I would highly recommend you try DARE Adventures in Dwellingup.

* Electric skateboard is courtesy of one of the parents and not property of DARE Adventures

Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Iguazu Falls of Argentina

OK so it's been a while since I blogged and I kept meaning to write about my trip to Argentina in specifics, but also other trips I've done/experiences I've had since!

So let's go back to the Iguazu...My absolute most favourite place on Earth.

The first time I went there was in 2013 on my own and I fell in love with this magical place and have wanted to go back ever since. I could go back every year and never be bored of seeing it. I really believe it has healing powers (says the hippie in me)

The Iguazu Falls border northern Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. The name comes from the Guarani (the natives of Argentina and Paraguay) where 'y' means "water" and "wasu" means "big". So in essence "big water".

There is also a beautiful legend about how the Falls were formed. It's nice if you get in to it but I'll just give you the summarised version as best I can:  The Guarani tribe used to sacrifice a virgin once a year to the Serpent God who lived in the Iguazu River. One particular girl who he requested to be sacrificed happened to be betrothed to a great warrior from a neighbouring tribe. The Guarani were too scared to dishonour his request and upset the Serpent God so they agreed to sacrifice her one day before her matrimony. When the great warrior found out that this was going to happen, he fought the Serpent God for his beloved. Unfortunately no one had ever gone against him before and so the Serpent God became so furious that he caused the earth to split...and hence the formation of the Falls. There is a lot more it than that, but that's how the legend of the Falls goes.

I was excited to be able to go there with J, despite our visa issues and never making it to the Brazilian side.

Either way we had an amazing time where we explored the various trails (Superior, Inferior, Macuco, Garganta del Diablo, and more...). We also did their Adventure Boat ride where we get transported by rickety double decker bus through the jungle with a very informative guide who tells us about the various different creatures and plants that exist there. At the end of the bus journey, we embark on a boat that first takes us leisurely on the river as we get to take beautiful shots of the Falls up close, before it revs its engines and we go full speed ahead into one of the Falls. It doesn't matter how much protection you use to keep your clothes dry.. they will get wet! It was awesome fun and the water is incredibly refreshing!!

And here are some photos from our magical trip away...

The beautiful Iguazu Falls

We spent a lot of time sipping Mojitos by the pool as well!

Adventure Boat Ride

Jungle wildlife

La Garganta del Diablo

The bridge trails all along the Iguazu River

Monday, March 21, 2016

Argentina Part 2 - Casa Rosada, Cafe Tortoni, Calle Florida and Alfajores!

So on Wednesday, after we got back from the Iguazu the Tuesday night, I took J and the kids to see the Casa Rosada, which is Argentina's version of the White House. We missed that on the Hop On/Hop Off Tour (review to come later!) as we focused mostly on seeing further places like San Telmo, Boca, etc... Casa Rosada could be done easily so I didn't think it was that important to do on the tour.

We then had lunch at Cafe Tortoni, which is Buenos Aires' oldest cafe where artists, authors and thinkers used to gather and exchange ideas. Our national institution, Carlos Gardel, the father of Tango, and Jorge Luis Borges, one of the world's (and one of my) favourite authors, used to go there.

"To fall in love is to create a religion that has a fallible god" ~ Jorge Luis Borges

"Any life, no matter how long and complex it may be, is made up of a single moment - the moment in which a man finds out, once and for all, who he is." ~ Jorge Luis Borges

OK now that I got that out of the way, let's continue....

I wanted J to try an alfajor anyway (other than my mother's, which I believe are incomparable... hers are truly the best I've ever tasted, and I'm not being biased!). For those not in the know, an "alfajor" is an Argentinian cookie with dulce de leche (a caramel-like spread) in the middle and coconut flakes along the rim. It's Heaven! Of course nowadays it comes in different flavours...

Alfajores! image:

After lunch at Cafe Tortoni. we walked around to see the mercados, the artesania that is quite popular in that area, and we eventually hit one of Buenos Aires' most famous shopping streets: Calle Florida!

It was around 4pm when the kids started to get tired and we realized we really had to get back anyway and get ready for the family visit later that evening.

I was so excited and happy to see my closest family members. Some of my favourite cousins ever were there and I loved them meeting the man in my life. J got on with everyone and they all loved him. My cousin's husband brought his guitar that evening so we were also able to entertain our guests.

I would go back to that night in a heart beat.... but for now, I will live happily in nosalgia....

Next part coming soon....