Splash! I’m hit, I’m down. Water rushing, swirling, surging, mind spinning round. Exhiliration! Heart racing, lungs laboring, reaching for respiration. Swim! Muscles firing, writhing, striving toward the board I behold with blurred brilliance as I climb aboard. Hoist! Atop I go, body shaking, mind still racing, ready to anticipate the rush that I’m chasing, embracing each moment. Seeking atonement in the rivers that are my church. Each fall like a baptism, plunging into the roiling cataclysm to be reborn.
It’s been a while since my last post. I’ve been struggling with a lot of things mentally and emotionally. Just a couple months ago, I finally decided enough was enough. I pulled my ass up by the britches and got to work. The flow has felt good so far. However something has been missing. My partner has been gone off and on (mostly on) for the last 6 months, he is my rock and my joy. It has been a lonely, yet empowering time for me.
I have realized the beauty of aloneness, and that being alone does not always mean you are lonely. Though I have developed coping mechanisms to deal with my inner demons, I still struggle. Last night, the feelings of the dreaded loneliness began to envelope me. However, instead of succumbing to their cold, clammy embrace, I stepped outside.outside myself, and my bus. If you know me, you know my bus is on a farm bordering woodland. Our resident young buck spooks at the sound of my footsteps when I get too terribly close and rabbits, coyotes and other wildlife abound. I step outside into the warm summer air, and every ounce of lonely is suddenly washed from me like a christening.
It is all alive, every inch of it. I can feel the worms in the dirt, feet below me. I can hear the chorus frogs chanting their nightly rhythm to the moon. I can see the outlines of trees rustling in the dark wind and smell the sweet dry grass, the ripening apples, and the tangy blackberries on the air. I am not lonely, far from it. I am surrounded by life, filled with it and embraced by it.
So long as you live on this beautiful, pale blue dot, you are never truly alone. Loneliness is a construct to remind us to connect to others, to unite with our tribe, but it should not limit us or cause us pain for on this earth we are never truly alone. Forcing ourselves into sterile, lonely environments makes us forget that we are a part of this planet. We surround ourselves with dead things and think nothing of it. Take a second and go outside, look deeply into the grass, or bark of a tree, find the nuances of living that surround you every day and swathe yourself in them. Do not forget them. Try bringing more life into your life, you may notice you’re living just a bit more.
Yellow: Things I brought that were useful
Red: Things I brought that were not useful or have better alternatives
Foldable Tote Bag
Bananagrams + Puzzles & Cardgames
Trail Mix, Oatmeal
Toothbrush + Paste
Tide Laundry Packets
Bandaids and Aspirin
2 Extra Pairs of Contacts
Workout Stretchy Band
Mini Sewing Kit
Eat’n Tool (spork)
Kindle & Charger
Extra Ziploc Bags
2 Microfiber Washcloths
1 Cooling bandana
Compression Shirt/ Long Sleeve
Arc’Teryx Base Layer Sweater
Timberland Rain Jacket
2 Sports Bras
6 Panties (lace dries quickly, Hanes “no panty line” synthetic also)
1 Wick-away Running T-shirt
1 Tank Top with structured chest
(Added: 2nd tank top, plain tan)
1 Crop Top
1 pair REI hiking Pants (water resistant, breathable, stretch, quik dry)
1 pair Jean shorts
1 pair workout/sleep shorts
1 pair trail running shoes by Merrel
1 pair Mocassins
1 Pair Croc Sandals
1 maxi dress
1 long skirt
Hammock -Andrews Pack
Tent -Andrews Pack
Sleeping Pad (closed cell foam)
Socks (2 ankle, 1 boot)
Spade, for digging cat-holes
LEFT AT HOME (but pictured):
Large Military Knife
Calvin Klein Performance Dry Fit T-Shirt
Thick Hooded Sweater
Packed in Kelty Womens pack
Pack weight without food: ~35lb
BOUGHT WHILE TRAVELLING
Packable day pack
Full Spectrum Sunscreen
Merino Wool Base Layer
Sleeping Bag Liner
WOULD ADD/TRADE FOR NEXT TIME
Subzero Sleeping Bag
Puffy Coat (Packable, ultra-light)
MAYBE lightweight boots
- Would not have brought hardly any of the camping gear if we knew we wouldn’t be free camping. With the bus pass and our time constraints we spent a ton of time in the cities which required staying in Hostels. Jet boil was useless, there are kitchens everywhere. Tent was good for cheap camping on hostel properties. Bring Tupperware for Hostel Food Storage!
- Brought a heavy ‘lightweight’ spade for digging cat-holes. Since we weren’t in the wildernesss it was useless. Even if you are, it seems like a waste of pack weight. Use a sharp stick…
- Heavy Cotton hoody was a terrible idea. When we went kayaking it got soaked and took days to dry. Also added pack weight on days I wasn’t wearing. Recently purchased a goose down puffy from Prana. It is seriously worth the investment to stay warm. The South Island got COLD especially at night. Use your puffy as an extra sleeping layer! (I kept borrowing Andrews since he is a furnace.)
- For the days when we were tent camping my sleeping bag could not cut it. Below zero sleeping bags, I don’t care where you live. Get one. I had to purchase a sleeping bag liner to keep warm and shove my clothes in next to me as well as wearing Andrews coat. GOOD GEAR IS WORTH THE PRICE.
- My sleeping pad served me well. For extra comfort and weight/size reduction though, I’d recommend an inflatable sleeping pad. If you’re really roughing it, maybe not because of the “Pop” factor, but for non-wilderness backpacking it’s best.
- We brought card games and puzzle books… bad plan. Just get some phone apps or something cheap that you can dump when you’re done with it. Gets way too heavy. A simple deck of cards will do and is more versatile, or even books of riddles on kindle. Or just make up some games! We played Ninja while waiting for a bus, did AcroYoga, and even worked out in the middle of the airport.
- We did not need a hammock. Some of the hostels had hammocks outside and we weren’t spending days out in the middle of nowhere so we really didn’t need one.
- My Calvin Klein Performance T-shirt is my absolute favorite. It’s mostly Polyester and Rayon. I’ve worn it so much the tag print is gone. It didn’t smell bad as fast as my running shirt did. Good fit, and extremely comfortable. It was $12 at Ross. I wore it for the majority of the trip.
- I have no idea why I thought I would need a dress AND a skirt. I did not. The maxi dress was perfect. I wore it after showers, after the pool, and when I just wanted a bit of a breeze. Light cotton tie-die. Not quite floor length, strapless. Packed away nicely. My skirt on the other hand was cute but the stretch fabric was heavy and took forever to dry. Maxi dress all the way.
- If I was going for ULTRA light I wouldn’t have brought running shoes. I think I wore them 3 times in a month? I hiked in my moccasins mostly, and sometimes barefoot. Maybe some super light boots if you anticipate mud or horseback riding (needed soled shoes for riding). I just bought a pair of Ariat riding boots. They’re incredibly light and comfortable. I will likely bring them on my next trip.
- Washcloths are nothing compared to a towel. Once again, you get what you pay for. Would have been better off with a packable microfiber towel. The maxi dress helped to ‘air dry’ but my hair was still dripping wet. Too. Much. Hair. I chopped 8 inches off shortly after getting home. Hair is hard to maintain when travelling.
- Literally never used my camera. The camera on my phone is high resolution and more readily available than carrying a camera. Could have used a waterproof GoPro but that’s about it.
- Just get metal bowls. This is the first time I’ve used a silicone cup and it’s awful. I miss my girlscout mess kit. The silicone gave my hot food and drink a weird plastic taste even after washing several times. I ended up sharing Andrews bowl.
- LIGHT STICKS! This thing is so cool. It’s hard to see in the pic but it’s shaped like a glowstick and runs on batteries. I clip it to the inside roof of any tent and it diffuses light perfectly for a nice evening glow. Glowsticks? Less useful in non-emergency situations.
- Remember to charge your solar flashlight. Rig it to the outside of your backpack during the day and you’ll have a full charge all evening.
- Headlamps are better than flashlights. Get a headlamp…
- Our Kindles were so extremely useful, from tent evenings reading to each other to sitting in a park enjoying your portable library. It’s lightweight, maneuverable, and stays charged forever. I love physical books, but when you’re travelling you have to condense.
- Bladder vs Water Bottle… I broke my water bottle in NZ. A bladder would have been 100x more useful. Easier to carry, fits in your day pack perfectly and squishes down to nothing when empty. Camlebaks all the way.
- I put all of my clothing inside my pack in a pillowcase and all my personals stayed either in my tote or day pack. Compartmentalizing things makes it much easier to unpack and repack. We went from 45 minutes of organizing and repacking per day of travel to 10! Having a system gives you more time to enjoy your trip. Lightweght dry bags work great too. Andrew left his pack out in the rain but had all his clothing in his dry bag.
- We did laundry twice in a month. It’s amazing how many times you can wear the same clothing and still stand yourself and your partner. You get used to it. It’s part of the experience.
- Lastly, I cannot stress enough HAVE THE RIGHT CLOTHING. Especially in NZ. You will experience such a wide range of weather situations. Dress in layers. Have good rain gear (mine worked well), have a nice warm layer, a sweat wicking layer, a light layer for Sun Protection! The UVs are so intense there it will burn your face off in a matter of second. A floppy hat and long sleeve breathable UV shirt are must-haves. I had to slather on tons of sunscreen whereas Andrew just put on his safari shirt and was fine…
Today we became wanderers. Dreamers of dreams. It seemed that as we walked the quake stricken city, the healing inspired our own hearts. The city has taken on a new life in the midst of crumbling buildings and “collapse hazard” signs. An effort to integrate more greenspace, community gardens and art have overtaken the rubble. On every abandoned lot there are benches and creative installations, some more functional than others. This seems to be a common theme throughout humanity. Common struggles bind us, and travesty even more so. I see the challenges of travelling and notice this is a common thread. The travellers we have met are open and willing to share and converse. We share a similar struggle of displacement. Regardless of the wanderlust that struck us to make the choices we have, and the welcoming nature of New Zealand culture, we are still outsiders. We do not belong. This brings is together. We are bonded by our itinerant nature for whatever short time we pass one another. It is an interesting and most beautiful trouble to share.
I recently finished a book about living free and building a radically simple life. “The Good Life Lab” is equal parts revelatory adventure story, inspirational personal development, and how-to guidebook… with pictures! I’ve handed it off to Andrew to read and have been receiving live updates on his personal epiphanies about the modern world and our shortcomings.
Though it’s only a short section of the 3 part book, my favorite bit concerned Digital Homesteading. What is that you ask? Well, homesteading is really an act of going back to our roots, becoming what Tremayne calls “makers of things”. The digital aspect is whatever you want to make of it. Some (like me) run online businesses, some just use technology to their advantage such as PV (photovoltaic) systems. It’s self-sufficiency in the 21st century. Which is something we caould all use a little more of….
There are those that argue what we need is an Apocalypse to set the world right. That like the series “Jericho” (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0805663/ it’s one of my favorites) we should prepare for total societal breakdown. After all, it’s already happening. With the stock market crashes, the issues of backing our Federal reserve, and possible technological or biochemical weaponry… the end is most certainly nigh. Perhaps, and I subscribed to that view for a time.
If you want to prepare for natural or financial disasters, that is a fantastic idea, good on you. Growing up as a girl scout I was taught to “always be prepared”. My issue is seeing this outcome as a “fix” for our modern world. I used to believe that was what we needed. Give the Earth a good scrubbin’ and let her heal. People may perish, but that is just collateral damage in the preservation of a dying planet.
I’m here to say that it’s not necessary. Sure, we need to stop reproducing so quickly and we CANNOT maintain our current rate of consumption. However, I sincerely believe we can make the changes that need to be made. Digital Homesteading is the future. It will take a measure of downsizing, cooperation, and understanding to build a new type of economy but we do not need to revert to the Dark Ages to save ourselves.
Marshall McLuhan once said “We become what we behold. We shape our tools, and thereafter our tools shape us.” The tools of technology have radically changed our physical and social landscapes forever. What it will take now is a reassessment. Are we using our tools to the best of our ability? Are they the correct tools for the job? What new tools can we create that have the most benefit and least harm? What tools can we do away with or replace for something better and more efficient? Can we rethink planned obsolescence?
In Tremayne’s book she mentions her studies with the Sufis, and talks about some of her experiences enjoying the deserts of New Mexico in stunning detail. This is the sagacity we must return to. With the tool of technology mitigated by the innate wisdom of the Earth. Science is uncovering with more speed and depth that the ancient peoples understood more than we know about this pale blue dot. It’s time we shut off the noise and start listening.
If you have the opportunity, Wendy’s book is an incredibly inspiring read! Just be careful as you may want to start your own homestead when you finish. 😉 (If so, message me so we can talk about plans!)
Here’s a link to “The Good Life Lab: Radical Experiments in Hands-On Living” on Amazon:
We are T-Minus 4 days until departure. I have used the human colloquialism “batten down the hatches” meaning to secure a ships tarpaulins, for we must secure our bus fortress prior to our travel (by means of airship) to The New Zealand. It’s implied relation to the old Zealand I do not know. (Update: Upon “Googling” I have discovered Old Zealand exists as an island of Denmark.) It is my understanding that this New Zealand is a land of mythos, where rings are made and burned; a place where demi-gods and Amazons reside. The human and I intend to indulge in all this whimsical island has to offer.
In our preparations for egress, we have gathered supplies. In a further post I shall detail the contents of our impedimenta.
Here are the stats.
230 square feet.
2 life forms.
Approx height: 5’10”.
Approx weight of male: 160.
Approx weight of female: 150.
It’s been 43 days since the human called Andrew has conceded to cohabitation in my landship. The weeks in question have gone by swiftly and with few hiccups. The human male seems to enjoy heating organic matter over flame in order to consume it. Initially, space presented an obstacle to the experiment but was remedied through construction of a hollow sitting device which now houses ancillary equipment owned by the human. Our daily proceedings are often what one would consider “normal”. The primary meals of the day are cooperatively prepared. We accompany one another on outings. We frequent the market of farmers where the fare is rich in minerals and nutrients. Recently, other males have joined the abode to socialize and imbibe, as well as avail themselves of our overnight hospitality. The events were enjoyable.
I hope this brief update finds the mothership well.
As they say on this planet, Allon-sy!
Check out our full bus tour here!
Perfectionism is a four letter word.
Do not fear doing, fear NOT doing. In elementary school I struggled with my grades. I would get straight A’s on tests and straight F’s on my schoolwork. Sounds weird right? Well, I used to do my homework and not turn it in because I was so fearful that it was not perfect, it didn’t meet MY expectations so clearly it wouldn’t meet someone else’s. This happens in my adult life too. In nearly every facet, I feel something about myself isn’t good enough, so assume that other people judge me for it. For example, I have a hard time making blog posts! My internal dialogue sounds something like this: “You’ve read a lot of good blogs, and yours isn’t one of them.” “You suck as a writer” “Your ideas are dumb and not worth sharing” “What is this actually going to do to help people”… and so on…
I try my best not to judge other people; I love them for who they are, with all their flaws and mistakes. But I can’t seem to show the same kind of love and compassion for myself. I don’t think I’m good enough for other people so I must not deserve praise, success, affection, and neither does the work I do. I could spend an hour drafting an email, have it proofread, and still not send it. Clearly, this hesitation prevents me from seeking opportunities, creating with abandon, being a great actor/dancer, ect. THIS is how you stay in that “mediocre” zone.
Being too perfect can old you back. When expectations are too high, you set yourself up for failure. Tony Robbins talks a lot about “Blueprints”, all of those benchmarks and requirements you set upon yourself to reach that ever elusive end goal of Happiness. Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way. Roadmaps may stay the same, but human beings and the world we live in are in a state of constant flux. It is vital to understand that this is okay. Our blueprints can be fluid without being wishy-washy.
It is far more important to DO the thing than for it to meet your ideal blueprint. Getting something done, as long as you’ve truly put your heart into it, even if it’s a flop, is still better than not doing anything at all and living in fear of action.
Just like trying anything new, delving into any new venture, sometimes you have to build the ship while you fly it.
Lately I’ve been reading a wonderful book by my man Tony Horton called “The Big Picture”. The link is below. That $10 could change your life. If you make the changes to change your life that is.
A friend today posted on Facebook something that reminded me of Mr. Horton. “If you want to change your life, you will likely have to change your life.” (Credit Collin Beggs, thank you man for posting such awesome inspiration on the daily!) It seems like a redundant statement, but it’s true. If you REALLY want your life to be different, to improve, you have to do the work to get there. No one is going to do it for you, no book, no podcast, no “Life you want” weekend is going to do jack sh** unless you get up off your a** and do something about it!
Should have warned you beforehand, but real-talk here. Weekend warrior doesn’t cut it if you want to be extraordinary. And I admit, I have fallen prey to this mentality all too often. I’ve struggled with creating momentum that I lose by not remaining consistent. What Tony says in this section of his 11 laws is that it’s okay for your plans to morph and to change. IT’S OKAY TO CHANGE YOUR MIND. That doesn’t make you a failure. What DOES make you a failure is your DECISION (yes, it is an active decision to become passive) to not keep moving forward, to not make those tiny (or sometimes a little bigger) adjustments towards your greater purpose and goals.
So Today I challenge YOU! Post in the comments what you’re doing today, and will keep doing tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that, and so on, to move forward towards YOUR GOALS.
My name is Kat and today I made a blog post that will hopefully inspire people as well as pump up my blog ratings. 😉
Over the last couple of years I’ve struggled with illness and depression, feeling up and down at a moments notice. I’ve been to the hospital and had more needles jabbed in my arm than I ever thought I would. It turns out I’ve had a recurrent case of Mononucleosis (yeah, the kissing disease) that ravaged my immune system and disrupted my liver enzymes. This triggered “Adult Onset Asthma” and recurring episodes of hives and allergy sensitivities, as well as making me prone to cold and flu viruses. I’ve spent the last two weeks dealing with a flu that resulted in sever dehydration and a lovely ER visit, and an allergic backlash from the virus that covered my body in painful, itchy hives. As an active and vivacious young adult, this was devastating. I feel like my body has turned against me despite my best efforts to treat it with respect. I hate resting, but with all of this madness going on inside my body, I’ve had to spend at least 4 months out of the last 2 years in bed. All I can think of when this happens is how my hard work on my body is wasting away, how my best years are being spent sick, how miserable I am, and feeling pathetically sorry for myself.
News flash for myself and anyone else out there in this situation, not only are you not alone, there are those who have it much much worse. Instead of thinking about yourself, what can you do for someone else? Even if you are stuck in bed, exhausted, covered in hives, after you take a nap, what can you do to brighten another persons day? Maybe message a friend who’s also having a hard time a funny or uplifting message? Maybe make a donation to a good charity? Perhaps make plans for when you’ve regained your strength to volunteer somewhere? Maybe write a blog post? Even the littlest things can make a huge difference.
I have always noticed that the moment I stop helping others, is the moment that depression sets in. We were meant as humans to share in experiences, to make each other happy, and to participate in community. When we lose that sense of community is when we lose a part of ourselves. No matter what is going on in your life, remember that putting a smile on someone else’s face is ultimately more rewarding than faking your own. So step out of your comfort zone and help somebody, you may even receive in kind.
Please post your comments below, I would love to hear your stories as well! Especially advice on picking yourself up out of a slump, I know it happens to all of us at one time or another!