This current winter season in New York has been quite a mixed bag. It began with one of the warmest Christmas days on record (although, being used to Christmas in Australian summer, it was still too cold for me). By mid January we were all lulled into a false sense of security, I was almost believing it might be a winter with no snow, and I was even a little disappointed (even I found that surprising about myself!). Well, the snow came, and it was a massive amount of snow in one day. Central Park was transformed from gloomy brown and barren to pristine and picturesque white. My two photographs were taken only a week apart, and I have to say that the white snow landscape makes for a prettier picture. So I guess if it has to be winter, then it is better with a bit of snow.
My blog was recently nominated for The Versatile Blogger Award by lovehappily. Thank you dearly for this very sweet gesture that I will gratefully accept. Paul’s blog is one of my favorite places to visit for general life encouragement and positivity, and I think its an inspirational blog to all who visit.
In acceptance of this award, here are the seven things about myself that others may not know.
- When I lived in Sydney I had quite a large orchid collection (around 100)
- I had never travelled overseas before the age of 23, and now I live overseas
- My background is Italian, and I have never been to Italy….(yet)
- I am lactose intolerant, which developed 6 months before I turned 30
- I’m a scientist researching heart disease, but my PhD was in reproduction
- A food I eat every day is peanut butter on toast
- I love the smell of coffee, but hate the taste, so instead I drink tea
Lastly I would like to pass this nomination onto 15 of my favorite blogs.
Thank you all for welcoming me into the blogging community! It has been a truly wonderful experience that I hope continues for a very long time.
Every summer as I was growing up, my family would go on vacation to the central coast, about two hours north of Sydney. Much to our dismay, my dad would wake us up very early to go to the beach. His summer ritual was to spend ten minutes observing the waves, mapping out the ocean rip tides, and finally locating the perfect area of the beach to fish. Mum would sunbake and my brother would play in the sand. I would be mesmerized by the crashing waves, quite thunderous at this particular unpatrolled surf beach, in awe that water alone held so much power. My dad would always and too often remind me “don’t go in too far, because if a rip tide drags you out to sea, I am not a good enough swimmer to rescue you”. Those words, repeated to me too often, haunted me. My childhood was filled with the recurring nightmare about a Tsunami crashing over the land and sweeping everybody out to sea. After getting lost in the vast and never ending ocean, the dream would often reset, and the wave would come again, and again, and each time we desperately scrambled to outrun the water, but always unsuccessfully. Eventually, the panic would become too much, and I would wake up and exhale in relief that I was not drowning, and inhale realizing that I could breathe.
I took these photos in Charleston, South Carolina about 3 weeks ago. Sadly, the trees are confused, they think spring had arrived. Similarly in New York, all the trees have buds on them, even the magnificent magnolias in Central Park. Little do they all know, winter is still ahead of them. This week they have felt true winter temperatures for the first time this season, and this week will bring a large snow shower. Poor trees with their hopeful buds. They aren’t the only confused hopefuls, as even the bulbs planted in Central Park were climbing their way through the soil and peeking out. I hope the snow won’t destroy them too much, and when spring truly comes, they will rejoice with the rest of us!
Each year the season of Spring brings with it an influx of animal youngsters growing up in the warmer months of the year. Spring time in Tasmania, Australia, is a particularly wonderful time of year where baby wombats are following their mothers around. They are incredibly cute and cuddly, and very solid little creatures. Don’t let that fool you though, as they have quite large and sharp claws for digging burrows, and can run surprisingly fast for their short little legs. This particular mum and bub was quite happy to be photographed, even sharing a very cute and cuddly moment with the camera whilst contently munching on the grass.
I have never lived on the West coast of anywhere… and yet I dream of sunsets. From my vacations, I have countless photographs of sunsets on beaches – I take millions of them. However, when I get home and look back at them, I am always disappointed. To me, a photograph has never captured the vastness of the setting sky. The subtle changes in color as the sun slowly lowers itself to sleep. The true depth of oranges, pinks and yellows as the sky fights off the imminent dusk. The giant mirror of endless ocean which captures the color of the sky, adding its own unique brushstrokes to the magnificent artwork that is the sunset.
Here is a photograph of my favorite Australian bird, the Kookaburra. The loud calling sound it makes is like boisterous human laughter echoing through the outback, mainly in the early mornings and approaching dusk. A skilled hunter, these birds prey on mice, snakes, small reptiles and the babies of other birds, and are fittingly called the Kings of the Australian bush. This particular kookaburra is very riled up, having just had a dispute with a fellow bird, which was perched next to him. Whatever the argument they were having… he definitely won.
I finally feel far enough past this that I can talk about it, so here is my story. Two and a half years ago I developed a food intolerance incredibly fast, which would go undiagnosed for six months. In those six months, I had quite a few horrible experiences where I was mid-meal at a restaurant and suddenly stuck in the bathroom being sick. It was embarrassing and scary. At the same time I developed an anxiety towards food. Like a weedy vine, this anxiety spread to many areas of my life, to the point where I could no longer sit in restaurants, be at people’s houses, or be around food without incredible stress and panic attacks. I also had one incident where I was sick on a one hour flight, and that was the end of carefree flying for me!
My next vacation involved a much longer flight which was preceded by a week of panic attacks and crying myself to sleep every night in dreaded anticipation. My lovely husband finally coaxed me onto the flight after many tears at the airport. I loved travelling, and was so sad that my life had come to this. On the way home I remember standing on the tarmac hysterically sobbing, looking up at the plane, knowing this was the only way to get home. I spiraled into depression, devastated that I had so quickly lost the life I had been living and all the things in it that I loved so much. I said goodbye to most foods, friends, socializing, and travel for six months. I couldn’t continue to live like this, not for myself and not for my husband. So in true stubbornness I knew I needed to get my life back.
I looked for jobs overseas and was given the opportunity to work in New York. Unknowingly my future boss asked me to fly over for the interview and I had to lie, saying that I was too busy to take the time off and that we would have to do it all by Skype instead. Lucky for me, I was still given the job. Now, confronted with having to fly to the other side of the world from Sydney to New York in six weeks, I knew I needed help. I booked 8 sessions with a psychologist…the best decision I ever made. We talked a lot about positive thinking and reinforcement, coupled with breathing exercises and relaxation techniques. One particular incident during this time stands out. I was instructed to pack a pretend suitcase and take a trip to the airport. I thought this would be a stupid exercise, as surely knowing that I’m not really flying would evoke nothing. I happily went to the airport and thought I was perfectly fine, until jokingly, my husband and I decided to pick the pretend flight we would take. Looking up at the board of flights and seeing the red flashing ‘boarding’ signal was enough to make my stomach sick. I burst into tears – this was beyond logic. I no longer had control of my body, let alone my mind. I knew I would need to work even harder than ever to overcome this, and I had a deadline to meet.
The therapy helped, the relaxation exercises and positive thought patterns got me to the point where I was still very anxious but not hysterically panicked. My repetitive mantra was that ‘if I stayed calm, my stomach would stay calm’ and to this date I must have repeated it a million times over! I made the flight to New York, I reset my life and now I willingly fly all the time, and every time gets a little easier. I will never truly be rid of the weed that is anxiety, it will be with me the rest of my life – I know that. It is, however, now a dormant seed planted in the back of my brain. I work hard to keep it from sprouting into the giant weedy vine that once tried to smother the strong and carefree tree I was trying to become.
On a recent trip to Charleston, in South Carolina, I went to see Boone Hall Plantation. Being one of Americas oldest working plantations since 1681, it offers a unique education of American history. The house and gardens are a beautiful sight, unfortunately, they have an ugly history of black slavery. Thankfully, they now use these treasures to educate the public of the history of slavery and the trials and struggles that slaves faced in a horrific time in history. The photo above was the main reason I was drawn to this beautiful place. It is called Oak Avenue, and is a stunning, eerie and truly beautiful tunnel of oak trees planted in 1743. Hanging from the trees are drapes of Spanish moss which thrive in the South Carolina climate. The history that these trees have been a part of, and what they must have seen in their lifetime can almost be felt as you walk down this street. If only the trees could tell their story.
I love snorkeling. Mostly because the ocean floor feels like a completely foreign world, with so many interesting landscapes and weird creatures to explore. Every reef I’ve been to is quite different and unique in its corals and wildlife. Even the same reef can look different every time you look at it, with new creatures every day. Sometimes I feel as though the creatures are watching me as much as I am watching them, looking at me like I’m out of place. Large schools of fish will cluster around you, or swim past you like a large shimmering wall, wondering what you are. They give you just enough space, so that you could not catch them if you are a predator. Smaller fish, which live in soft corals and anemones are very defensive about their little garden. They will face you, and even get a bit aggressive if you get too close. I give them plenty of space in the hope that they know I am just there to watch. Its a truly fascinating world, and I hope to see much more of it in future explorations.