I Burnt My Feet

hw3Wednesday morning, the bus starts up and we head out of the Cathedral Cove car park with the usual stares at a little car trailing behind the bus. Funny site this morning as we were leaving Hahei. Two hitchhikers on the side of the road with their thumbs out. They put them down when they saw our bus assuming we wouldn’t be able to stop to pick them up where they were standing. Next minute one of them catches a glimpse of a small car coming up behind us and the thumbs go up again then a total look of bewilderment as they realise no one is at the steering wheel. Love our little tow car.

Off we set to dig holes, Hot water beach here we come! Arriving nice and early we got a great spot to park the bus, relax for a bit, then headed down to the beach.

It was a funny site watching as people began to gather and take their place on the sand with shovels in hand in wait of the low tide. People seemed uncertain at first as to where or when they should start digging. I watched one man standing on the shoreline with his feet buried in the sand so decided to go say hi and see if his toes were toasty. Burying my feet next to his I had to remove them quickly as they reached the hot spring water under the sand and felt like they had been burnt. It was an unusual experience to be standing in the cold waves of the ocean and feeling the sensation of very hot water only inches below the sands surface.

More people began to show curiosity and slowly made their way closer to ask if the water was warm. Fun to watch their reactions as you encourage them to bury their feet next to yours and they feel the heat.

Once people began to hear our chatter about the hot water they began to converge shovel in hand and the dig was on!…..Then it got interesting.

I quickly worked out by noticing patterns in certain places of the sand where you were going to find the hot water. Patterns caused by the hot spring coming to the surface. People were madly digging, then I began to notice something. Listening to the chatter of several different languages you soon worked out that some were getting excited about the hot water while others made sounds of disappointment as they continued to dig cold pools of water literally a foot away from the others. We managed to dig right on top of one of the places the hot water was surfacing which made it too hot for us to dig. We began digging next to our original hole finding cold water to flow into our hot pool.

A small crowd quickly gathered around us asking how we found the hot water, I think having a kiwi accent people assumed we knew all about the beach. Some people caught on quickly and found their hot spots while others still dug in frustration trying to find theirs.

Our biggest problem was we didn’t have a shovel so I was burning my fingers trying to dig our hole deeper while the people next to us had a shovel but kept producing cold water. I suggested we connect our holes so they could benefit from our hot water but then all our hot water started to disappear as it drained into their hole. Problem solved, I asked to borrow their shovel so we could get our hole deeper, yay for collaboration! Then it began, others started to connect holes and share water to get the right temperature so everyone could begin to enjoy the experience. Then others came up with great design ideas for placing sand to get the best results of capturing and sharing water. By the end we had quite the community going on with all enjoying the company of others. Connections were made, people were laughing, and a new community was born!

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Be it for a moment it was great to sit back after we had enjoyed our little hot pool and observe how people were working together to produce the desired result, not just for themselves but for everyone involved.

This got me thinking about or lives in general and how most of the time everyone is trying to build their own life and there own space. Some do well and become very successful but usually at a price. Others seem to struggle and continue to dig up cold water. The saddest thing about both is neither of them will ever connect and possibly find a better way to do things. To collaborate and produce a life where everyone is laughing and enjoying the experience.

I wonder what our country would look like if we were to begin to connect more, to bring together our ideas and strengths. Building a real sense of community. I think Hot Water beach will be one of those experiences I will never forget and how much fun it was to briefly connect with others and enjoy a common goal making the experience great for everyone involved.

Were there barriers? Yup the most obvious being language, quite a mix of tourists from all over. Did it stop us for connecting? No, to be honest the variety actually made it even more interesting and fun.

I look at our country and there are so many barriers, different cultures, wealthy and poor, religion, and the list goes on. It’s almost sad that we feel we have to stick to our own. I would love to build a giant hot water beach and invite everyone in New Zealand to gather!

One of the best things with travelling is the people we meet. Living in a bus seems to pull down any barriers and it has been an amazing privilege to connect with all the people we have. People we never normally would have otherwise.

Here’s a fun idea, this week maybe go out and connect with someone you never normally would (heck really go mad and find someone living in a car and take them home), invite them for a meal and just hang out, you just may be pleasantly surprised not only how much fun it is but they may just be the people you need to meet right now to move forward with your next step in life. I really believe it is time to build a true sense of community in this country and begin to collaborate and create a new way to enjoy life.

One thing I have learnt is we can continue in life believing it owes us and becoming victims and playing the blame game or we can begin to build a life where people come together and build something of value that everyone will not only enjoy but benefit from. One that will benefit our future. Start digging!

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I Had No Idea What I Was Doing

duckyOne minute I was sitting in the bus catching up on emails, next minute I was knee high in mud saving ducklings. We recently had the great privilege of getting to park our bus at some friends place who live off grid. (Check out Lucy’s blog here).  It was coming into evening and I was sitting in the bus with my laptop on my knee relaxing enjoying the environment catching up on emails when Rowan called me over. I did say, “hey if you guys need a hand with anything…” Next minute I am trying to negotiate my way over an electric fence with the kick of a mule to attempt landing on the grassy patch on the other side next to a muddy mozzie ridden creek. Yea well so much for a dignified landing on the grass bank as it begin to give way underneath me and my feet sinking into a warm gooey creek bottom and feeling my jandals embed there way deep down with no hope of returning with my feet as I lift my leg to attempt an escape.

Now trying to follow direction to help catch some ducklings I stand on the bank causally waving a stick around trying to encourage the ducklings into Bex’s hands while everyone else is diving head first full of commitment into the muddy abyss to ensure no loss of life for these wee fluffy balls of cuteness. I felt completely out of my element, yet the experience was one I won’t forget and the feeling of satisfaction knowing I had contributed in some way to seeing these wee things live another day.

This got me thinking about all the experiences we have had since being on the road. I realised how much each one has contributed to my new lease of life. How I laugh more often, and feel good about moving outside the world I knew, beyond the realms of my comfort zone. I relised how far I had removed myself from the feeling of achievement and sense of adventure. I was curious, are new experiences good for us in some way? Can they benefit our health and wellbeing? The answer is yes!

It has been shown that new experiences can be beneficial in combating anxiety and depression along with building self esteem. It can increase our sense of happiness and achievement. It builds our self confidence and enables us to take on even greater tasks and accomplish more in life.

I remember when I used to jump out of planes from 10,000ft in the clouds and the sense of being able to do anything I put my mind to. A few years later I traded that for a safe life and fear began to take it’s place. I was going to say undeserved place, but I had let it in by playing life safe and settling for a good life rather than an extraordinary life. Even the hiccups from experiences can produce positive results. I remember my eighth jump, a day I will never forget. I remember getting to the dropzone and packing my parachute and the jokes we were making about it not opening, I remember getting in the plane and thinking I needed to get out (it even had to stop for a while on the way to the runway to allow another plane to land), dismissing the thought we took off. I remember getting to 5,000 feet looking out the window and thinking, anything could happen out there you just don’t know. The door opened the wind rushed in and the plane lined up for the jump run, the engine buttoned off. It was my turn to climb out the door, combating the usual brain overload of natural survival I made my way out to the door with my legs hanging, my hands on the door frame then out I went. I reached for my rip cord counted to 5 then checked my chute, I distinctly remember looking at it and thinking yup all good. Then my brain engaged and I looked again and thought, that doesn’t look right. I had what they call a bag of washing, meaning my parachute was just a big knotted up ball of ripstop nylon and was not filling with air. Everything went into slow motion yet happening in a matter of seconds. I remember talking to the cut away handle and rip cord for my reserve chute saying, “I need to pull you and I don’t want to”. Pretty much over if that one doesn’t decide to open. I remember reaching for it, pulling and arching like I have never arched before, staring out to sea and feeling the adrenaline rush through my body as I look up with absolute relief to see this tiny blue square of nylon cloth spread wide above my head. That landing was the closest I have ever got to the dropzone target.

Some would say that was a bad experience and why even try skydiving, it sounds way too dangerous. Yet this is an experience I would never trade. First off how many people can say I jumped from the clouds, I got to fly relying on a piece of material to land safely on the ground after travelling at 200km an hour towards the earth. (My instructors called me a steam train due to my generous body mass allowing terminal velocity to arrive quickly for me). The thing is after this experience I found myself with a whole new level of confidence and began to apply myself to things I would never have tried before. It was an amazing stage in my life where I went out and tried so many new things.

You know in life we can have times our parachutes fail, something happens and it allows fear in or brings us to a place of playing it safe. We all have disappointments that can cripple us in a sense and keep us from ever pursuing the things we dream about. I had a choice after my parachute failing, I could hang it up and say well at least I gave it a go and walk away knowing I have been beaten, or I could hop back in that plane and try for a better outcome next time. Statistically it was very unlikely for that to happen again. I did do 5 more jumps that went amazing before heading off on my big OE.

For so many of us somewhere along the track we may have forgotten our sense of adventure and the feeling we used to get from trying new things. Maybe you had a parachute failure of some kind that has held you back from the life you imagined you would have. Maybe starting a business that failed and put you in debt, maybe you dreamed of being a musician but someone laughed at your ability to play an instrument. Whatever it may be, my advice would be pick it up again, have another go. Learn from the reasons it failed the first time or maybe the second or third. If you gave up walking the first time you fell as a toddler you would still be sitting on your butt at your parents house with a very narrow view and understanding of the world around you. But you didn’t, you tried again and again because that is what you were naturally designed to do until you walked. That hasn’t changed, you are still designed to try again until you are flying.

My encouragement to you? Try something new this week, take yourself outside your comfort zone and that thing you have been thinking about giving a go? give it a go! The view is so much better when you are flying!

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A Natural Life

office350It seems like a lifetime since having to wake up to an alarm clock every morning, standing in the shower trying to convince myself I was awake then jumping in the car and feeling myself tense up at the thought of sitting in one spot for the next 8 to 9 hours. Working a job I had to do rather than having the choice to do, well we all actually have choice but convince ourselves we don’t, waiting for 5 O’clock to jump in the car to battle the traffic home, eat dinner, watch a bit of TV and think about getting ready for bed to repeat the process tomorrow.

I was having issues with anxiety on a daily basis. My blood pressure was high, along with many other health issues. I was a grown man but I had to ask for permission to leave early or have a day off.

What I have typed above is considered a good responsible life. The problem is the good wasn’t so great.

It’s been over a year ago since that life. I think I have woken to an alarm clock twice since then. I now naturally wake at between 5:30am and 7:30am most days but get to lay in bed for a while and day dream a little while my body naturally wakes up. I then get to enjoy my breakfast without the rush and my mind begins to focus on the day ahead where I make my decisions as to what to do with it. Oh and I haven’t felt anxious in close to a year. My last visit to the Dr was meet with the comment, well whatever you are doing keep doing it, your blood pressure has come down.

A while back I began to realise something. I am living what I can only describe as a natural life. I can distinctly remember about 6 months ago having to set an alarm clock to be somewhere the next morning and it really highlighted the stress it put on my body after not having to wake to one for some time. The other thing that stood out is I didn’t seem to sleep so well knowing that the alarm was going to ring at some stage and my bed seemed so much more cosier than the alternative of having to get up to something that seemed pointless.

This made me think about everything else I used to do or experience during my previous life. I thought, surely this must be having some effect on my body. I would be forced into the day with a sudden burst of an alarm, I remember the feeling of my body and mind trying to pull itself into existence while standing in the shower. Then the tightening of my shoulders and stomach as I backed the car out of the driveway. None of this felt natural.

Once I had been through that morning ritual I was then met with artificial lighting, a computer screen and a very large lack of movement throughout the day as I was desk bound to accomplish the thing I was good at. I started to realise I was spending more of my woken life with people I didn’t really know apart from typical work companion conversations. My family? They certainly didn’t get the best out of me because the time I got to spend with them I was either tired or me needing space to unwind.

As I type this blog I am sitting in our bus looking out the window surrounded by native bush and fields of lush green grass. I have been walking around in bare feet in the long wet grass with a smile on my face feeling my body relax even more while a light shower of rain falls.

It feels as though this environment was created just for us to enjoy and relax in. There is something about being surrounded by the green and the natural light and even the rain and the fresh smell of wet grass and trees that just feels right.

Even though we are exploring New Zealand, the places that seem to have the most profound effect on me is the beaches and the bush areas away from the hustle and bustle of a concrete jungle, the busy traffic, the sirens, and people continually rushing from A to B feeling the need to justify having done something “beneficial” with their day. To live “the normal” life.

I am no longer convinced that is the normal life. My life feels more natural and normal than it ever has. My body responds better to this life. Even my understanding of work has changed drastically. I feel like I accomplish more in an hour and have more satisfaction of what I have done with my day than I ever did when living the 9 to 5. I feel like we have been duped into believing that’s normal and are missing the sense of waking each day with real purpose and a sense of creating your life rather than following the script.

I still work on computers but in my time and the environment of my choosing which has created a new lease of life and sense of creativity when I boot up my computer (not to mention the hourly rate is much more favorable working by contract). What we currently believe is productive is actually not and a 40 hour work week can be accomplished in 11 hours if managed differently. If you research the history if the 40 hour work week you will find it was introduced to encourage consumerism. As an exercise sometime write a list of everything you own, then work out how much time you use that object. I have helped move houses and I am continually astounded at the amount of times I have been asked, “oh just pop those boxes in storage”. You worked hard to earn the money to fill those boxes with stuff. Most of which you probably purchased because it made you feel happy for a moment.

Even writing this blog I feel at a total loss to put words to how I now see life each day. I could never type how I feel on the inside or explain to any degree how amazing this life is now it feels more natural.

I would never say everyone has to move into a bus. But I would say we are designed for a natural life, and this has been proven over and over with the evidence of how living a more natural life effects health and happiness.

So if you work in an office or in a busy environment I would strongly encourage you to take a wellness day or three and make your way out of the city and find a place of solitude surrounded by nature and stop and breathe and notice what happens when you do.

For me it was a matter of make change or die young, words of my doctor. I am hoping to research more about the effects of stress in the world we live in as one year away living a more natural life and I can’t even begin to describe the change it has made.

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