Posted in Christian living, cross cultural living, health and wellness, Life, travel, Uncategorized

Cruising the World!

Cruising can be a nightmare or amazing! Here are some thoughts and tips we have discovered in our very short experience.

I have always had an aversion to the thought of cruising. The only one I was interested in was not far from my home in Far North Queensland in Australia. That was because it was a lovely area but also because you were mostly close to land something I liked!

My aversions were a few:

  1. I don’t  like the ocean and get sea sick easily.
  2. You lose sight of land and those waves can be fearsome.
  3. You are with a couple of thousand other people on a tin tub in the middle of ocean and can not get away from them!
  4. Germs and food poisoning stories abound.
  5. Way too much food and I didn’t want to watch people or myself make gluttons of ourself!
  6. Way too many excesses all up with too many imbibing too much alcohol.

So all up it was not what I considered a nice holiday. However, one ferry ride we took across from Finland to Sweden was such a wonderful experience that I thought it might not be too bad to go on a more defined cruise.

We were offered a two for one deal and after Paul said he really wanted to go and visit Alaska we headed off for our 40th Wedding Anniversary with three thousand other people.

We opted to spend a bit of time in Canada before the cruise and loved the amazing country.

The cruise was for 10 days so we were indeed locked up with a lot of people but it didn’t feel to constricted. We opted to do a lot of walking in the ports rather than pay loads of money on tours organized by the cruise liner. We have since discovered that there are definitely options out there rather than join up with the masses.

Things we have learned on our very limited cruise experiences:

  1. Unless you are cruising an area that has spectacular views, don’t pay extra for a balcony – You are hardly in your room and when you are it is usually to sleep or nap so dark is good! And preferably not close to a lift!
  2. Higher isn’t necessarily the best! The sway is considerably more in the event of bad weather.
  3. Washy washy! Washing hands is imperative to avoid nasties. Health issues in such close quarters are really important as is what you eat and drink on land at the various ports. Take care!
  4. Be alert! Travel always requires that we remain aware of our surroundings. There are some not so pleasant people out there and situations, so be smart.
  5. Get off the ship and shop around! There are better tours that can be found at the docs and even outside the port fences! Get a group together and negotiate a fair price for your drivers as well as yourselves. We appreciated our small intimate group and our ability to negotiate our time and sightseeing, instead of being dictated to along with 70 other people.
  6. Get away from the tours to support local artisans and retailers. Bartering isn’t fun for me but if I feel they are giving me a fair deal I will buy. If I feel I am being ripped off I walk away!
  7. Have fun and get to know other guests. There are some amazing people out there to meet. Don’t just sit with your friends and family.
  8. Don’t be the rude, whinging tourist! Treat your cruise staff with respect and patience. Treat the locals with respect as well. They are trying to make a living in some pretty hard circumstances. RESPECT!
  9. Take phone numbers of your tour guides. It can come in handy. Paul left his phone in the taxi we hired and we were able to contact him and connect to get it back – and gave him a nice tip for being honest and driving back to us!
  10. Have fun! This a great time to relax, enjoy new sights as well as be pampered!

So just a few thoughts as we embark on our third cruise – This time to Italy and the Adriatic Sea – Just a little excited about it! This is my dream cruise!

Back soon

Until next time

Blessings Narelle

 

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Posted in cross cultural living, Life, travel, Uncategorized

Panama Canal

Years ago I bought Paul a DVD collection on the 7 greatest engineering feats of the 20th Century. One of those recognized was the Panama Canal. It was an inspiring story of persistence, ingenuity, and ultimate sacrifice.

Now living in the United States we had a cruise to use and decided on a cruise through the Panama Canal visiting Central America on the way. For Paul it was an amazing life dream to go through it and I have to say I was also a little excited to witness the spectacle.

I won’t go in to the history of the Canal but as I said it was a story of persistence, intrigue, ultimate sacrifice of many who gave their lives not only in the building and landslides etc but also from yellow fever. Gorgas, the chief sanitary officer, eventually led the way in creating a healthy environment which helped stem the tide of deaths from this mosquito borne disease.

We stood on the deck and watched the sun rise around 5.30 am along with a few gathering observers. Taking the best position we could we watched as the ship sailed skillfully into the harbour amid the rolling tropical mountains on either side.

There are now 2 canals the latest one built to accommodate wider, larger vessels including aircraft carriers. The cost to traverse the canal is phenomenal to the ship owners, and requires years for advance bookings!

I have always found locks confusing but we had a wonderful narrator and position to watch as we waited and then were led up into the first lock by the “mules”, little electric carts that act as guides pulling their cables like cotton connections, relative to the size of the monoliths passing through.

The bravest most daring thing we saw all day though was two men in the smallest of row boats collecting the lines from the ship to hook up to the mules. We all held our breaths as we watched them disappear out of view under the decks only to reappear victorious rowing for their lives as the bow of the ship surged passed,  her lines now connected to the mules. We could only wonder why in this day and age a safer method could not be developed! I wanted to know how much they got paid!

All day we stood transfixed with the ever growing numbers on the bow, only stopping finally to have food and drink, (and toilet break) around lunch time and get some extra sun protection from the now tropical sun bearing down on any exposed skin.

The most profound section for me was where the landslides occurred, persisting to this day . The area swallowed thousands of lives as they carved their way through mountains to the Pacific Ocean.

Ghosts seem to wave from the hillsides as we glided through. These men and their families suffered yet persevered. I considered the leaders who led and succeeded, or failed along the incredible journey for the sake of posterity: an inspiration to aspire to.

It wasn’t just a day of watching but also of reflection on how any task no matter the size requires all of the above criteria – ingenuity, persistence, and sacrifice.

Paul finally had his fill of our crossing about 6 pm that night as we watched and waited for the city lights of Panama City to light up the surrounding hills, showing us the modern life built on the blood, sweat and tears of many before them.

We left the deck, in awe of the dedication of those before and those now who continue to build and work for the generations to come. 20171024_08430120171024_084333

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Heading in to the first loch. The row boat getting ready to head out.

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Heading towards the lines of the ship
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The Row boat has disappeared!

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They’re out! The cheers and claps went up!

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The Panama Champions hooked the lines so that the “mules” can guide the ship into the lochs.

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Until next time!

Blessings Narelle

Posted in cross cultural living, health and wellness, travel, Uncategorized

Silence of the Blog!

Travels, bomb cyclone, new store – VOIAJER, bees, gardening – Wow! No wonder I have not written a blog since September last year! Life really got the better of me in lots of ways – mostly good ways!

In June/July last year Naomi our youngest daughter wanted to open a store selling her cereal box jewellery and other fair trade products in her store called “VOIAJER”  the phonetic spelling of the word “VOYAGER”.

For around 8-9 years Naomi and I and some others have been selling the beautiful jewellery crafted by her “Kado”  girls, keeping them employed, building houses and looking after around 100 children through the profits.

Last year was time to develop it further. She now has a shop front where we are enabling support of more groups through sales and profits. It is very exciting but not without its challenges.

Between setting up the store, travelling back to Australia for business and family and cruising through the Panama Canal, then a very hectic Christmas time for VOIAJER; writing took a firm back seat! But now I am back on track and will be posting more regularly as winter keeps my life stationary.

We started our year with an incredibly cold “bomb cyclone” which caused blizzard conditions! We were snowed in for a few days but welcomed the rest! We didn’t even go out for our “bread and milk” – the crazy things people buy when they think they will be unable to get to the store for a few days!

Kids loved the snow days but are a bit bummed because now they have to make those days up – going to school on some public holidays!

These are some of our fun pictures from the bomb cyclone! Even the Chesapeake bay froze! So it was a refreshing,  freezing, fun-filled few days!

So the year began slowly for us and we didn’t set goals or even wonder what the new year held. Eventually we did and I will start sharing some of those to encourage others to consider and plan their year – considering we are nearly into February already!

So the Silence of the Blog is broken and I am back!!!!

See you again soon!

Blessings Narelle

 

 

Posted in Christian living, communication, cross cultural living, energy, Life, travel, Uncategorized

Philippines Journey – Communication – Non-communication! Dog poop to bowl???

November 2014

From Poop to Bowl!

Ok! I have lived for quite a few years overseas. I have taught on communication. I thought I had learned some lessons on effective communication but still I struggle with communicating effectively.

You think you have the message transposed across the wavelengths. You check and double check. You restate the information or question just to make sure you all understand each other yet somehow those wires just overlap, get tangled, or even get disconnected, creating tension, frustration, aggression and any other word you can find in a Thesaurus that explains anger….just to be sure I have communicated that effectively!

It’s not that you get angry really, you just want to tear your hair out or in Paul’s case tear out what little hair you have left! I think I am just a bit tired and not feeling well this week so it is wearing me out. Paul has been at it for months and his temper has wavered frequently since I arrived – could I be the reason! We have a Jewish girl here we connect with who has grown more grey hairs than a 27 year old would wish to have.

Well what are some keys to effective cross-cultural communication? Don’t know..next blog!

Just kidding..but really I am not sure I have the answers or any answers in fact, but there would have to be a few keys that are universal and do work to some degree.

  1. Feedback – make sure you have understood each other. Just because they say they know English doesn’t necessarily mean they do. Especially Australian accents and idioms. So Paul make sure you keep them to a minimum! Feedback also isn’t parroting. Say it differently in as many ways as you can possibly think so it cannot be misinterpreted and keep it simple.
  2. Patience – Listen to each other. Say it then repeat, then say it again. Wait until you see that light of recognition go on and then check again because it might be the wrong light bulb. Example: While trying to explain what not to put into compost, to the guy making me some signs, the conversation went something like this.

“No dog poop”

“Poop- what is poop”

“You know poo”

“Poo?” Blank look

“Yes a number 2,” Blank look!

Not being a swearer – the s word didn’t help me.

“Yes from your bowel. You know” me signalling which direction it would emanate.

“OH! Bowl!” he says as some light bulb goes off except he reaches for a plastic bowl discarded in the grass…

“No Bowel!” Says I..

Paul over hearing the prolonged conversation has had enough. He scours the yard and finds a dog poop!

“Oh! Poo…..” Finally the light bulb goes on and embarrassment hits as the young guy gets our meaning. Actually he did a great drawing poop on the sign although not sure others will know what it is.

So make sure the light bulb look is the correct light bulb look. So what was the lesson learned – not sure but it keeps us laughing..maybe that is a key..

Until next time

Farewell, goodbye, so long, bye bye,

Blessings Narelle

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Yes that is the picture of the dog poop we ended up with! What do you think?
Posted in Christian living, health and wellness, Life, Philippines, travel, Uncategorized, walking

Philippines Journey – Every day struggles – Perspective

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The ship that washed ashore..This took and saved lives. It crushed others while saving others as they crawled aboard as it was swept across the bay! 

 

November 2014

Over the past few days we had to do some business in Tacloban a larger city a hundred or so miles from where we are staying. It was the largest city hit by Super Typhoon Yolanda or Hyan.  This mammoth storm devastated so many lives. They will “celebrate” the anniversary in a few days’ time.

Over the past few days I got angry. We had so many issues with our telecommunications system here. The phone chewed through the internet and had no ‘load’ left after only a couple of days. I don’t want to go over it all again but just to say two days of phone calls and visits to the office resulted in us having a lot less money and more grey hairs. It made both of us so angry that we both let slip a couple of little words that aren’t full of grace. For Paul that is only the 2nd time in nearly 40 years I have heard him use a word like that..Mine was tame.. Told the girls on him! He was going to call to let them know about mine..but I wouldn’t give him the phone!

ANYWAY! You get the picture that we were a little close to boiling point. I have had to repent since. I was surprised at how angry I was over this small challenge. Then last night as we were finalizing our shopping for the center here in Pagnimitan village, I got caught up in the shopping center along with quite a few other people. We were glued to the huge television screen as they replayed some of the horrors of the Typhoon last year.

The devastation was unimaginable: Bodies lying uncovered or sparsely covered in the streets and under buildings. Demolished cities, towns, villages; Ships washed ashore (still there till now); no food, water or shelter.  Surges that took ships, large trees, buildings, people in its wake some never to be found again. It is hard to comprehend what they endured.

Recently I took a walk with a friend along the beach near the village around change of tide. Her fear was palpable as we watched and heard the waves crashing and the tide turning, rapidly pushing water through the narrow opening that passes by their village. The storm had surged and pushed the sea through their tiny village demolishing everything in its wake. She stopped walking on her way to the nearby “pool” – a coral swimming pool near the edge of the reef.

“Mam. I’m sorry mam. But I can’t go any further.” She couldn’t move any closer to where the waves were large and loud.

Fear is still real to these people with the memory of the roaring wind and water that wreaked havoc on their lives. That is why I repent of my anger over the trivial trials of daily living when so many around this globe face overwhelming circumstances and can still manage a smile. Perspective..you can never lose sight of just what the important issues of life are. Small daily challenges are the little foxes in our lives that try to disturb and destroy. Don’t let them steal your joy and peace. Keep a balanced perspective in life.

The Bible tells us not to be anxious over anything……..anything…… yet every day we allow our anxieties over what are really trivial matters control our thoughts, our mouths, our emotions. It is tiring and ultimately futile.

Don’t be anxious over anything; commit it to God and see Him do miracles and signs and wonders in your life.

I loved talking with my walking buddies the other day. We were walking our 12k walk again. As we walked one relived some of the more humourous stories that came out of the storm. One woman was stripped of her underwear during the surge and wasn’t aware or as was anyone else either, until her husband blabbed it out to everyone as they gathered together after the storm. Or the man who came running to tell of the church collapse that killed 18 people – for the news to be overshadowed by the fact he was standing in front of about 20 people naked and not realizing it.

It has become my saying when I am tempted to slip into first world frustrations – At least I have my underwear!

So stay the course with joy! You still have your underwear!

Until next time

Blessings Narelle

Posted in Christian living, energy, health and wellness, Life, Philippines, travel, Uncategorized, walking

Philippines Journey –  Walking Life with Friends

Loved rereading this blog and remembering our walks…Friends forever!

Written in 2014 –

This weekend my Philippines journey continued with a walk of 12k. Well 11.6k according to my pedantic husband.  I walked it with a new found friend.

Next year I want to walk 800km, needless to say I need to train for that, which I have been doing in Australia starting the beginning of this year. When I heard about Josiah’s relapse this year I walked – for about 6 km even though I hadn’t been walking far at that time. I found it helped cope with stress-filled situations. Throughout the year I continued to walk.

I walked by myself on some spectacular walks. I walked with friends and family and even my dog. I took an 85 year old who has a pace-maker on a nature walk that she had never seen in the 50 years she lived at the beach.  (She made it there and back BTW) It was wonderful to share the joy of these experiences with others.

I have loved it. Even though getting up or getting going can be challenging it is always worth the reward of the feeling the effects in my body after exercise and I love observing the beauty of God around me. The challenge was to try and do different walks all the time.

I cancelled my gym subscription as I hate exercising within 4 walls. I secured local walks maps from the council. I have walked Sydney city, suburbs and beaches. There have been hikes on rugged bush tracks and relatively easy walks on cement paths. It has been wonderful. The temperatures have ranged from 2 to late 20’s. There have been some light showers which I don’t mind but I can’t quite come at thunder and lightning.

And then…I came to the Philippines. It’s impossible to get Paul to walk with me. To date I think we have taken one stroll along the beach together. The locals suggested it was not a good thing for me to walk by myself, something I prefer to do.

I found a couple of women who I wore out on their first walk and haven’t seen since – of course due to work and family commitments! The numerous passing typhoons did nothing to encourage walking. I was getting desperate.

Then the Pastor next door spoke to his wife who goes jogging every day. After a couple of weeks she invited me to join her, which means I slow her down. To complement our walking we include some challenges for her and me also. These include the 11.6km walk to Surf Camp a beach, 11.6km away from our village!  Today we tackled Radar Hill whose road almost requires 2-hand drive to climb it.

For me, it has been wonderful having a walking buddy. Every morning at 4.30am I hear a, “Good morning, Mam”. Some mornings I beat her to it and am up. Other mornings I beg God not to let her wake up! And still others I just wish she would go away. The other day I had a headache of epic proportions. It had raged for 2 days and I was feeling it that night. The pain was awful. After Paul massaged my head and neck, sleep came – so did Medi!

“Good morning, Mam.”

“Good grief,” said I from my befuddled mind. I even suggested to Paul I not go but he wouldn’t let me off. So I dressed and started out and the head cleared in the early morning air, validating his, “I told you” so attitude.

Yesterday Medi and I found another walking buddy as we left the village around 5am. We laughed and chatted our way down to Surf Camp. Did I say it was 11.6km away? The longest these girls have walked and they were very proud of themselves. I would have walked back but wasn’t sure they would cope – 🙂 Paul came down and picked us up – much to their delight.

Life lessons I am reminded of:

  1. Some days you feel good – Other days you don’t. You have to suck it up and push through the barriers, setting your mind to achieve your goal. Nothing will be achieved through wishing and wanting.
  2. Make sure you have the correct equipment – I bought great shoes this year and have forgotten the pain of yesteryear’s ill-fitting shoes. Make sure you have correct gear to do the job well. My previous walking partners tried to walk in “slippers”-“flip-flops” or as we Australians call them, “thongs”. No wonder I haven’t seen them since!
  3. Friends keep us motivated and honest. Medi and I challenged ourselves to get to the top of Radar Hill this morning even though each corner revealed another new level of incline. Continue to stretch your limits. Although it pays to have some back up for support if you need it. Don’t be content with comfortable.
  4. Walking works out the stressors of life – I have walked out a lot of anger, sadness and frustration this year. Find practical ways to deal with stress preferably not an addiction.
  5. Enjoy the journey. Our new walking buddy kept stopping to find new plants, and flowers, etc. We talked, we looked, we explored. Our times mightn’t break records but really in life is that all we are about – How we can beat others? I wonder at an amazing seaview, smell the dank rainforest, revel in a breaking dawn. I weep as we walk along and my companions share their stories of survival, loss, and hope. The journey is much more than just reaching the target.
  6. Celebrate the achievement. I so often forget to do this. My grandson Josiah has taught me how important it is to celebrate each milestone you achieve. You have to celebrate those times when you have reached a goal. We did a little whoop yesterday at that beach thankful we made it in the oppressive tropical heat and weren’t collected by any of the numerous cars, trucks, motor bikes or trikes on the narrow cement road! Celebrate then move on and up.

My son-in-law recently said to me about living in the Philippines, “Do you think you will like it? How will you go without your friends?” Too easy – make new ones and of course stay in touch with my old ones..

Keep moving forward with your goals. You can walk to anywhere in the world. You just have to start and keep walking. You can do whatever you believe you can do. You just have to start and keep going.

Until next time

Blessings Narelle

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Our spectacular sunrise on the way to Surf Camp! 
Posted in camino de santiago, Christian living, health and wellness, Life, Night shade Allergies, travel, Uncategorized

Night shade allergies!

Just sitting in one of my favourite writing places chatting to a guy sailing up the east coast of the US. He was amazed as I recounted my healing in 2014. I just found this old blog which recounts some of this story. Talking about it always makes me feel like skipping…with joy. 

2014 was an amazing year for me. I know so many people were glad to see the end of it and there were definitely some tragic times of grief and loss but for me personally it was a year of breakthrough. Yesterday I read about a John Mellor healing crusade in Scotland that saw a woman healed of chronic fatigue and long term unexplained issues who have since gone on to run marathons etc. I so feel their joy and excitement and feel the same.

For nearly 6 years my body has been going through major health challenges. I had so many challenging health experiences, mini stroke, thyroid issues, head trauma, shingles, not to mention chronic fatigue. Weight kept piling on due to inactivity and the thyroid issues. This created issues for my legs with swelling, pain in joints and incredible feet pain from plantifasitis. I felt like a broken down machine. Nothing seemed to work. Doctors, naturopath, massage, osteopaths, chiropractors all had moderate success for periods of times but then my body would fail me again. I refused to go down the path of anti-inflammatory pills. I had seen the effect of long term use of anti-inflammatory on my mother and didn’t want to even begin that path.

There were a couple of scary periods where I literally felt so down that permanent sleep seemed a good option. They were scary times for Paul as well because I just couldn’t seem to get myself up out of that place and it was such a foreign place for me. There were “normal” periods but then the depression would hit again as my body let me down again. Prayer was hard, reading harder.

Then 2013 after desperately seeking help from doctors I demanded tests which came back with many markers out of normal range but not enough to “cause concern”. No concern for the doctor maybe, but I hurt. I seemed to have a constant low grade fever and the fatigue was debilitating. It was concerning me. And then..I visited my naturopath with the same results and in the course of conversation she came back with, “Maybe you are intolerant to “nightshade” plants.”

What are they you may ask as did I? Potatoes, capsicum, tomatoes, eggplant, chilies all belong to that family. Well wouldn’t you know it? All of the above were my favourites except potato and I ate them nearly every meal! Sweet potato doesn’t seem to have the same affect. I thought the loss of the others would be hard. However, the benefits to my body were almost instantaneous. Within days I started to feel better. I began to notice that when I did introduce them back in to my diet I felt the effects, especially potato, literally within minutes. It seems to be more of an allergy than just intolerance. It has become such an issue that when I forgot and added chilies to a homemade cracker mix my lips swelled to “Jolie” proportions within a few hours. After two days of tomato paste included in meals I was eating, I could barely walk up three steps without help.

So now I avoid them all together. I hope that as my body comes back into alignment the allergy will normalize but I will wait to test that for a while yet. I am enjoying the feeling of health.

There is a lot of controversy over nightshades but elimination is really a great way to test the results. Night shade intolerance is controversial among mainstream health professionals, but really in the grand scheme of things you are the one who is most interested in your own health and need to take responsibility for it. To eliminate is really not going to cost you anything and might in fact reveal a lot. This may not be your issue for chronic fatigue and joint pain but it might just be a good place to start.

I now walk at least every other day anywhere from 6-12 km and even do the odd “jalk” (jog walk) in there. This was only the beginning though of my return to health. There was a long way to go. It was an amazing healing process.

As 2015 begins I start this year in amazing health and wellness and love the feeling and freedom it brings. I pray the same for you.

Health and wellness to you in 2015!

Love that now two years later I have walked thousands of kilometers!!!  (add skip right here)

God is sooooo Good..!! 

Blessings until next time. 

Narelle

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Camino De Santiago Walk of 543 miles 820 Kilometers!