New Zealand, Part 1.

Do you have a fear? I don’t mean something that makes you turn up your nose. I mean a real, paralysing, panic-inducing, honest-to-god F.E.A.R. I do, it’s flying*. So going to NZ last week had me in all kinds of anxiety modes. A doctor had given me valium to help with the flights. I wasn’t too bad on the way over as the flight was fairly smooth. A few bumps here and there. And the landing was quite bumpy. I must have looked a bit pale as one of the flight attendants asked if I was ok, and assured me it would “all be over before you know it.”**

Once the flying was out of the way, I hit the ground running. Literally. I couldn’t get away from the plane fast enough! We picked up our rental car and headed west for Lake Tekapo.

On the road, headed for the mountains

I was amazed at how windy it was (no wonder that landing was bumpy!), but more so at how beautiful the snow-capped mountains in the far off distanced looked. We arrived in Lake Tekapo to less-than pleasant weather. The freezing wind was blowing a gale and we decided to stay in for the night. I woke at 6 am (3 am Aussie time!) and saw out the window that dawn was breaking. How many more chances would I get to see the Church of the Good Shepherd at sunrise? In the car we got and The Mechanic and I went down to the lake. It was worth every freezing bit of wind to capture it.

Sun coming up behind mountains

Church of The Good Shepherd

After breakfast we soldiered on to Queenstown. Not a day too late, either, as that night, Lake Tekapo got 6 inches of snow! In QT we met up with American friends of mine who now live in Auckland. They were the reason this trip came to be in the first place, after they posted pics of their 5 day Milford Sound trek on facebook last year. After a yummy pizza lunch at The Cow we decided to head up the gondola to the luge. Nick LOVED it. I enjoyed the infamous view (from the top – in the gondola I sat with my back towards the view. Fear, again!).

View from the top of the Skyline Gondola

Nicklas loved the luge ride

And throwing snowballs for our friend’s dog

That night we had a delicious dinner in town at Rata and followed it by money shots*** at two different bars and shuffleboard and beer at a good old American joint, Cowboy. Where else would 3 Americans and an Aussie go in QT? We were home by midnight though, which made us all feel rather old. That and the fact that we all “dressed for the weather” not “to look hot”.

The next day mum and Nick went on the steamboat to Walter Peak High Country Farm. A major disappointment (long story). Nick had a blast though. Wouldn’t it be great to have kids’ expectations of things? Everything is awesome and you’d never be disappointed. We took the opportunity to go with our friends to Arrowtown and Amisfield Winery. It was so great to get to spend some time with them.

Cute little laneway in Arrowtown

On the way out of town the next morning, I told my husband to go jump off a bridge. So he did. The AJ Hackett bungy bridge that is. He made it look so easy and not at all scary. Watching his video back, I almost wonder if I could have done it myself. Easy to say that while I’m 2000 kms away and in no danger of being forced off the bridge.

*Picture purchased from AJ Hackett Bungy

I was a bit sad to leave QT and would have liked one more day. But we had to make our way to Te Anau for our overnight stay prior to driving out to Milford Sound. Te Anau was small, peaceful and beautiful. And it’s also in danger of being wiped off the map because there is talk of building a tunnel from QT to Milford Sound, completely bypassing Te Anau for all tourists. I’ve seen enough of Disney Pixar’s Cars to know that would be devastating for the people of Te Anau. I signed the petition to stop it.

Down by Lake Te Anau

To say I was apprehensive about the drive to Milford Sound is an understatement. I’d read all kinds of things and a lot of recommendations to take the bus. I was glad we didn’t. The road wasn’t THAT bad. A little hairy in places maybe, but we took our time and stopped often – when and where we wanted, because we had our own car. My husband, bless him, did all the driving. Unfortunately that meant he missed most of the scenery.

Just one of the views on the way into Milford Sound

Once to the sound, we had a few hours to kill before boarding the Milford Mariner, our accommodation for the night. Due to a storm, we didn’t actually moore in the sound, we went back to the wharf. That was fine by me, no rocking motion to make me sick! The weather was rotten and there was thunder and lightning throughout dinner. We had rain overnight. The good thing about that was that the waterfalls were flowing! The next morning, the cloud had lifted enough that we could see much more of the peaks that create this gorgeous fiord. At one stage the boat cruised close to the rocks, the engines went silent, and so did the 30 people on board, soaking it all. It was truly a magical place, topped off by dolphins swimming along beside the boat on our way back into port. Nick was absolutely thrilled! We all were!

The Milford Mariner, moored in a bay while people went on the Tender and kayaking. This was not a small boat, gives you some idea of the size of the rocks.


Mitre Peak, peaking out from the clouds

As we left Milford Sound I was overwhelmed by the natural beauty. It’s a place I’d love to visit often, but expenses, flying, holidays etc. won’t allow that obviously. It’s a place that photos just don’t do any justice for. It is something you have to see with your own eyes, hear with your own ears, and feel with your own soul.

A rainbow on the sound

Stay tuned for the second half of our trip. Will anything ever compare to Milford Sound? (Probably not!).

* Still unsure why it is of flying. I’ve flown all over the world. It’s never been this bad. Not sure if it’s more an afraid of “dying” thing or lack of control, lack of knowledge, but I’d like to get to the bottom of it.

** That’s what I’m worried about – LIFE being over before I know it!

*** A money shot is made up of a few different liqueurs  tequila (?), banana and cinnamon  It probably varies slightly from bar to bar, but it tastes like heaven in your mouth. I had 3 and could have done another 3 (at least!).

All photographs mine except one from AJ Hackett of The Mechanic’s bungy.

Linking up for #IBOT with Jess at Diary of a Stay at Home Mum

My Mental Health: A Team Friday Linkup

I thought I should link up with Team Friday today for a few reasons. One, it’s been a while since I’ve linked up. Two, the lovely Stacey-Lee is gracious enough to host, the least I can do is support her. Third, and mostly, because the idea behind Team Friday has been such a massive part of my life the last 7 months, I need to keep this going.

People ask me if I am still on my “health kick” or still on my “diet”. I try to explain it’s not a kick, a fad, a diet, a passing phase. It is my life now. It is my routine, my regular, my habit. Physically, I comes leaps and bounds in the last seven months. Physically I am trimmer, stronger, fitter.

Mentally, well, that is another story. I thought I had come a long way. Turns out I’ve probably really only come a short way. I am happier. I tend to worry and stress far less about things out of my control. I think I have a much more positive and thankful outlook on life in general.

But I’m still suffering from anxiety. It started after my dad passed away, I think. I thought I had worked on it, made progress, but this week I’m severely doubting that. I have a phobia. A genuine, panic-inducing, fear. Of death. I thought I was afraid to fly, but I think that’s just a transfer from the true fear. I love my life. I don’t want it to be cut short. I want to grow old, be a grandmother, enjoy much much more time here. I wasted too much time not being happy. But the irony in all this is that my fear is stopping me from actually enjoying things. We’re about to leave on an 8 day South Island holiday and I’m so exhausted from the stress about flying, I don’t know how I’ll enjoy the actual holiday.

I have moments, brief and fleeting moments, where I am ok with it all. But for the most part I am gripped with fear. My palms sweat, my heart races, my stomach ties in knots and my chest tightens. My legs don’t want to work, I can’t focus on anything and I would do just about anything to NOT have to get on the plane. More irony. My father wouldn’t have been able to step foot on a plane even if it wasn’t going anywhere. Did his fear transfer to me when he died?

I hoped we’d be on a big plane, but we’re not. It’s the same size as the plane we went to Melbourne on. Surely a bigger plane would be needed for international travel? I think I feel safer on bigger planes. I don’t know why. But then how can I even start to question such an irrational fear?

The mind is a strange, strange and powerful place. For now I’ll attempted to subdue it with drugs (thanks Doc!) but maybe it’s time to start looking at a long-term, drug-free solution to this problem.

Linking up with Stacey-Lee at Get On With It Already for Team Friday
And Mama Grace for FYBF

Going Through the Motions

Last Thursday was R U OK Day, and I posted that yes, now, I was OK. But that’s the thing about being OK. Some days you are, some days you aren’t. Some days are harder than others and some days, well, they’re just downright miserable.

I was almost in tears this morning because I was going to personal training. If anyone has been following my fitness journey, I’ve been running and PTing for months now. Almost 4 months of PT and 6+ months of running. But last Wednesday I hurt my back, so I didn’t go, and I used it as an excuse to take the rest of the week off. I say “excuse” but maybe it was more like a legitimate reason? Either way, I hadn’t exercised since last Monday (I’m not counting tennis, I could barely move!).

But what I’ve learned is me without exercise, when I’m having a full on boozy and cake-filled weekend, means tears and the grumps come Monday morning. When you are not exercising due to injury, that is the worst time to indulge in (too much) wine and (too much) cake. I was scared on my way to PT this morning, scared that I wouldn’t keep up, that I’d vomit, that I’d hurt myself, and I just wanted to go home and crawl back in to bed for the day.

I’ve also learned that you can’t, well, shouldn’t, try to jam as much into a weekend as possible. I am certain that being on the go all weekend contributed to my mood this morning. We barely had 10 minutes down time. Though, that’s not entirely true, I had a good 3.5 hour “nap” (ok, I passed out from too much wine) Saturday afternoon. I woke up hung over at 8pm and needed water, panadol and McDonalds, stat. Luckily I’m married to an awesome man who brought me all 3, in bed! On a serious note, that is the evil side of alcohol. An entire evening was ruined because I couldn’t/didn’t control myself. And, most likely, my intake of alcohol and junk food probably contributed to this morning’s mental breakdown as well.

Have you ever been on-the-go consistently for so long that your body just said, right, that’s enough, I.Am.Done! I feel I’m at that point. I work 33 hours a week, I train/run approximately 4 hours a week, we run from one activity to the next on Wednesdays, my day off, that it doesn’t even feel like a day off! Then we jam as much as we can into weekends. And I wonder why I am exhausted. If I was a celebrity I’d be checking myself into a mental health facility. I need a holiday. New Zealand is not coming fast enough!

The ironic part of this whole story, is that once I got through training, once I worked, and sweated, and moved, I felt better. I know something has to give, but I am not prepared for it to be my training/running. It is the one thing that keeps me sane, and actually makes me feel good about myself.

I am sure I have thrown myself into all these things to take my mind off other things. But it doesn’t work. There are constant reminders. And no matter how busy I make myself, it’s not going to make it go away, or fix things. I just haven’t figured out how to do that yet, so until then I keep going. I keep breathing, I keep working, I keep smiling and I keep living. And I keep reminding myself what brings on my bad days, and I make sure that I am OK. Because I don’t like the alternative.