Post-midnight group photo using the trusty phone timer. Thanks, technology!
Happy New Year! It’s the day we’ve all been waiting for: the first day of a new year, a new beginning, another set of 366 days (it’s a leap year, remember?) to live our lives (for the better). More than ever before, I am so delighted to say goodbye to one year and welcome another. 2015 was not kind very kind to me. As thankful as I am that many wonderful, memorable and unforgettable moments happened during 2015, the lowlights outshine them all. That makes me sad. But enough sadness, nobody has time for that. It’s the beginning afterall, remember?
Although 2015 was a year to forget, the constant gift of friendship is what got us through the year just passed. Friends near and far who called, messaged, wrote and we were lucky enough to see in person. So it was only appropriate that we bid farewell to the year surrounded by some of the friends who made us laugh, made us feel accepted and comforted us. What a wonderful thing indeed.
So here’s to 2016. Here’s to keeping the faith, looking forward to each and every day and to feel gratitude for every single moment we will be blessed with for the next year. What an exciting and frightening concept. Bring it on.
I had every intention to regularly blog during our Hawaiian adventure. That’s the honest truth. But in between lounging by the pool, lazing down the lazy river, eating mountains of food and desperately trying to catch up on sleep, blogging took an appropriate back seat.
Besides, I was also busy taking photos of every rainbow that appeared from the blue and cloudy skies of Maui. And believe me, there were plenty! Like the one above taken in the early evening as we were headed to our Drums of the Pacific Luau at the Hyatt Regency in Lahaina.
So yes, back to intentions. I intended to enjoy and relax while I became an adopted resident of the beautiful state of Hawai’i for two entire weeks. Those intentions were fulfilled many times over and then some. I wouldn’t say we travel a lot, so we will have to see just how far up the list in my all-time favorite places Hawai’i ends up in, but boy did I love it there. I loved the people, the environment, the changing landscapes, its little quirks and the constant use of the phrase “Aloha” & “Mahalo”. I realize that we are in a very touristy place where they want to make you feel good to get you to spend, enjoy and spend some more. But I truly felt that more than half of the Aloha’s I received were genuine. It put a smile on my face on a constant basis. I really liked how it made me feel.
In an effort to continue the Aloha spirit, I will make it a goal to blog about our Kauai and Maui jaunts in the next couple of weeks. I have the luxury of being on leave from work until next Monday and I intend (there’s that word again) to blog a little more, read a little more and continue the relaxation. 2016 is just around the corner and it’s time to reflect on the great things that 2015 brought us and not so much the sad/bad things.
Aloha from Kauai! This is a good a time as any to return to the world of blogging and what a better setting than in paradise and where everyone is happy. It’s like Disney World by the beach.
My husband is presentating at a conference this week and the awesome organisers decided that Kauai would be the perfect setting to have hundreds of polymer chemists meet and work their brilliant minds together. How could I fault them for choosing this place? Well, I can’t and I won’t. I’m just thankful that I get to tag along for the ride.
Many are surprised to hear that neither Zach or I have ever been to the Aloha State. During the six years we lived in Missouri we never made the effort for a number of reasons. One, Hawaii is expensive, both in getting to and staying at and during our first years of marriage, we simply didn’t have the kind of savings to be spending galavanting around these islands. Two, whenever we took a holiday it was always to go visit my family in Australia. There just simply wasn’t enough time to justify a trip to Hawaii, with or without the extra money. And three, although Hawaii was appealing to us, it was never on the top of our list of places to visit.
But now that we have finally made it here, it’s now on our top ten of places to re-visit. What a beautiful state and its people are friendly and genuine. Sure everything is expensive (and will forever remain so, so let’s just accept that fact) but everything is also worth it. I work too damn hard working at my day job not to enjoy the fruits of my labor. Sure that salad we had for lunch may have converted to a $AUS25 lunch when all is said and done, but it was a darn good-sized salad at that. It is worth it. Life is honestly too short to not enjoy and spend the money we earn.
In the past 24 hours we have nearly covered the entire 52 acres of the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa. Nearly. This place has seven different pools and we’ve only swam in two of them. Good thing they’re open 24 hours. We have an amazing view of the Pacific Ocean and the great thing about this place is when they say “ocean view” they actually mean a bona fide ocean view without any obstructions (besides the palm trees that line the property). We were greeted with an aloha and a lei as we arrived and the chorus of aloha and mahalo from every single employee here at the Grand Hyatt is enough to put you on a Kauai state of mind from the moment you wake up to when you say goodnight. It really is something else here.
Well, this post has become one big endoresement for the Hyatt brand so I guess I better stop. I guess what I wanted to say is that we are finishing 2015 off on the right note. The past 12 months has been rough. It has been a year to forget, one that I would do a do-over if it were possible. I can’t wait for Christmas and then to say goodbye to this horrid year. I will not be looking back. But in the meantime, I will enjoy this Hawaiian vacation, reflect on the blessings of the year and look forward to what 2016 will bring us.
If you reside in Brisbane and haven’t checked out the We Can Make Another Future – Japanese Art After 1989 at the Gallery of Modern Art. You get to check out the room above for three or so glorious minutes. Just don’t stop over the platform because beyond it is water. Most likely not very deep, but water nonetheless. Just stand there and be mesmerized by the beauty of the colorful balls, the darkness and the glow of your clothes (& teeth for that matter). Then come out of the room and enjoy the rest of the exhibition. Good artsy time, all for free! You can’t beat that.
We finally made it to a rugby league game. Hurrah!
It’s obviously no secret that we have a love for sports. We wake up at the crack of dawn just to watch our Mizzou Tigers during football season. We clear our weekend mornings just to devote over three hours watching baseball games. We signed up for the ability to watch AFL games online since we live in a rugby state now and it’s a rare occurrence to catch Power games on free-to-air TV around here. We are very much invested in sports, whatever shape or form.
So it was inevitable that we would eventually make it to a rugby league game and it’s a no-brainer that we would barrack for the Brisbane Broncos. This past Sunday, we made the quick train trip to Milton and walked to Gate E of Suncorp Stadium wearing the closest colors to maroon and gold we could round up in such short notice. At first we thought we scored nosebleed seats, but it actually worked out for the best because we got a bird’s eye view of the entire field from our section. Luckily we were with a group of friends who are seasoned rugby followers and they were more than willing to answer our incessant questions about why that guy did that and why the umpire gave him that penalty. It was one question after another and truth be told, I still went away from the game with more questions that I care to ask.
The entire evening was a success because the home team won and we got to sing the team song (which was rather amusing, lyrically). The best part? We got to go on to the actual field after the game. Apparently this wasn’t a regular occurrence, so it was a real treat. We spent about half an hour taking photos, frolicking and looking up around the stadium. It was a delight and I sure do enjoy those on-field experiences, even more so after a great win!
It has been 13 months since we moved to Brisbane but a day hasn’t gone by that we are not reminded about our time in the Midwest of the U.S.A. Mainly, it’s thanks to sports and of course, the undeniable connections we still hold with family (my husband’s parents) and our dear friends (who thanks to the beauty of social media, has made keeping in touch much easier). I know for a fact that we will always have a connection to Missouri beyond our family and friends and our beloved sport teams.
It is in the Midwest that we made the commitment to one another (our marriage license was granted to us by Boone County and we got married at the Newman Center on the University of Missouri’s campus). We built our first home on the best name street I’ve ever had the pleasure of living on (Funderburg Mill Drive – I mean, come on, the word FUN is in it). The Midwest taught me how embrace my community and all that it has to offer. Midwesterners are the most generous and accommodating people. It is in Mid-Missouri where I truly started my career. I was given a chance to build on my confidence (and we all know that Americans in general are the most confident group of people you’ll ever meet) and go after what I want and share what I have to offer.
So really, spending six years in the Midwest gave us much more beyond our unbridled support for the Tigers, the Cardinals, the Chiefs and the Cougars. Since the best way to show your affinity for ones favorite place is through shirts, hats, etc, we can’t help but wear our Missourian gear all around Brisbane. Partly we’re hoping that one of these days we’ll get stopped by fellow Midwesterners – we always enjoy when that happens.
My husband is the cyclist in the family. Almost everyday he takes his trusty bike to work (a mere 3 miles away from our home) and he gets a good workout from it. Sometimes, because he’s a glutton for punishment, he takes (literally) the long scenic route which sees him go through the City (he works in the suburbs) and adds an extra nine miles to his trip. He loves it and gives him time to unwind from a busy day at work. He is a willing participant to the whole endeavor.
Me, not so much. I could count with my fingers and toes the amount of time I took the above bike out after purchasing it (back in the Columbia, circa 2011). I always struggled to bike for a long period of time due to sheer exhaustion. In hindsight, knowing what I know now, I attribute my lack of fitness and stamina to my thyroid issues.
But after being on thyroid medicine for the past three months, I braved the idea of taking seven mile ride from our house to South Bank so that we could attend Regional Flavours over the weekend. I am pleased to report that I made it to and from South Bank in one piece. Sure I nearly overdid it on the first leg as we climbed up the Go Between Bridge. I was still getting used to my gear changes and I pushed myself so hard so not to show other cyclists how badly I couldn’t make it up the hilly parts. Big mistake. So after a short pitstop after crossing the bridge, we soldiered on (mad props to my husband for his patience at my rather slower pace) and I knew that it was such a huge personal achievement to even make it to South Bank. But I quickly told Zach that we were going to be taking the ferry back to Milton – no ifs or buts about it.
A couple of hours and a mouthful of feta balls later, it was time to venture home. I’m not entirely sure what came over me, but somehow my husband managed to convince me that I could cycle back home. So I hopped back on and this time took it nice and easy. I went on my own pace, didn’t care about cyclists behind me and slowly mastered the fine art of changing gears at the precise time (especially going up the hills). Halfway through crossing the Go Between Bridge I was feeling (again) so accomplished and as we zoomed by walkers along the Coronation Drive part of the Bicentennial Bikeaway, I was feeling like a boss. I knew I was on the homestretch and was about to conquer something I never imagined I could. I had my moment of glory.
But more than 24 hours later, my butt still hurts from the roundtrip. I guess that’s the price one pays to feel the freedom and exhilaration of the wind in you face, cycling around Brisbane. It was worth it. So much so, we may keep doing it whenever we want to go to South Bank without the car!