Out of Routine; Into The Moment

Off to Australia for almost a month; I was out of my comfort zone clothes, couch, town and routines. As I hugged my son goodbye at the drop-off curb, I felt a switch turn on inside; the switch that triggers anticipation, observation, excitement and awe.
People watching comes naturally; I notice how they're dressed, how much luggage they have, how young parents handle their little ones PLUS strollers, car seats and diaper bags. I wondered why men in suits carrying briefcases appear to be important; if  women about my age were going to visit their grandchildren or heading across the globe like me? 

Central Coast Ferry on our way
to Woy Woy. 
Their headmistress gave me permission
to snap a photo as they boarded.
I was going to see my brother and his family  and had plans with a dear friend.  Otherwise, I had nearly a month to take each day as it flowed. A spontaneous ferry ride for lunch, a local bus filling up with school children as I rode it home from the mall, a morning walk to the village, an evening with my brother's neighbors. I loved how these things just came about and I was ready.

An unexpected fall as that bus came to a stop kept me in the moment too! I stood up as we neared my corner, clutching my packages and holding onto the pole. But then I instinctively reached for a little girl's arm and down I went! Thanks to my training on 'how to fall,' I landed on my bottom, holding my bags and arms to my chest and then quickly standing up. I was fine....and grateful those kids didn't tell as they scrambled off and into mom and dad's arms!

Inscribed stones line the footpaths
of Old Sydney
Sydney is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I made a point to visit the places my husband and I enjoyed on our visit 14 years earlier. I also made a point to visit new and different things not mentioned in the brochures. Balmoral Beach is small, remote and covered in sparkling white sand. It's out of the way and not at all a big draw like Manly or Bondi Beaches. I loved the solitude; loved that I was there alone. I made time to read more history about Old Sydney...the original spot created for and built by convicts shipped over from England. It's all sandstone....this ancient part of the city.

Sandstone walls, steps, narrow walkways and terraced gardens. The weathered sandstone breakwater along the harbor changes color with the rising and setting sun. Barangaroo Reserve, reclaimed land of the indigenous people, is the newest addition to the busy harbor area. Centuries old sandstone formations line the water's edge; many smooth enough to sit a spell in the shade.

The Opera House has several theaters and venues inside. It's iconic full sail image is recognizable the world over. I took photos years ago; took the tour and learned about it's history. This time I walked around to the front....the view cruise ships see as they round the curve into Sydney Harbor. I climbed the layers of stairs, checked out the underground level and strolled through the 200 year old Botanical Gardens next door. 

Didgeridoo wind instruments
I was so tuned in, so aware of street activity and music. The sound of boat horns, train tracks rumbling, babies crying, performers singing or playing instruments and the various languages being spoken around me. The smoothly run Overseas Passenger Terminal was captivating with it's constant buzz of worker bees. 
As I strolled the cafe and boutique promenade, I captured this funny store sign; French Connection United Kingdom is the label. A sale sign in the window pulled me in to browse. I rarely buy white tops, but found one in thick cotton for $20 AUS. Without my glasses on, the sparkly design on the front seemed pretty subtle. Bought it! Tried it on back at the hotel and ooops... a nice fancy F on the front! 

Cruise ships come and go every day. Sometimes three or more sit in dock while commuter ferries and tourist-filled boats zig zag around them. I met my high school girlfriend as she and her husband disembarked from the Millennium on my last day in Oz. Another unexpected pleasure walking and talking in the warm rain. And finding my picky-eater self enjoying a chicken pot pie at Pie Face, a favorite Sydney lunch spot. I'm glad I stayed around the terminal dock to watch their ship get underway that evening. Amazing how something this huge maneuvers out, around and away so easily. As it grew smaller, fireworks filled the sky! 

What a cool way to end my stay in Australia. The plan was simple; let's meet early at the pier.
It was the best of times, letting the day unfold spontaneously. 

 Going home brings a sense of anticipation too. I had a flight and procedures to follow which put me back in travel routine. I looked forward to seeing my younger brother waiting at the other end of my journey. It felt good knowing I'd soon be back in school pickup line, my granddaughters' asking "please, Grandma, can we go to Dairy Queen!" I've been home several weeks now; back to day-to-day chores, work and favorite TV shows. 
The best part about getting away on an adventure is still with me though.... 

The Savoring
 I'm writing stories for my blog, creating another Gramcracker picture book, 
still talking about it.

The Reflection
 I feel a sense of peace from spending days and nights with my family
 on the other side of the world. 
I feel accomplished by journeying solo, figuring things out for myself and discovering that I'm much more capable than I thought! 

The Dimmer Switch
 That switch that turned on the moment I stepped out of my son's car has not really turned off. It's dimmed for now; awaiting time and opportunity for next time!


  1. So glad you "screwed your courage to the sticking point," took on this adventure, had a wonderful time, and arrived safely back home. Yaay for Joan! Or should that be "Good on ya."

    1. I sure did, Bob! I actually talked to myself saying "you can do this, Joan!" and afterward thinking, "how brave of me!" Powerful thoughts are hope and courage! Thanks for reading and recognizing this!

  2. I am in awe of you traveling alone. It's great, wonderful, inspiring and I am so thrilled for you and the lovely trip you took, Joan. What a wonderful, magical journey you made. And the video worked!! YES. How cool you are.

    1. Oh thank goodness! Thanks for letting me know the video works! Cathy, there were times when I was reluctant or nervous, but seeing folks with limitations or disabilities doing what I was doing pushed me to soldier on! You can so do whatever you want, girl...my favorite advocate! My husband used a walker; I'm always sensitive to accessibility and acceptance. Thanks for reading and commenting my friend :)

  3. Such lovely reflections. I like that you mentioned the 'dimmer switch'-I get that feeling when I start off on a new adventure, especially on my own, everything feels a little muted and out of focus then slowly brightens and becomes sharper. So happy you shared these memories.

    1. Thanks, Laura...what a perfect way to describe it...slowly brightens and becomes sharper!
      It was a definite 'turn on' when I left, but it never turned off...just there waiting patiently. Thanks for reading me!

  4. Oh thanks for sharing these memories and your emotions with us!

    1. Funny how we don't always know how we feel till we read what we wrote! Thanks for stopping by and recognizing that, Paula!

  5. Wonderful post.
    I was interested to see your "training in how to fall." My mother gave me such lessons when I was a kid--a pretty darn clumsy and she didn't want me to break an arm since we wouldn't have been able to afford the doctor's bill.

  6. Hi Joan! Good for you for taking this trip and seeing new parts of the world. I agree that traveling puts us in a new frame of mind and teaches us about ourselves as well as the world around us. And good job on your first video. I'm getting ready to add some of that to my blog too. AND so nice to meet you in person at #BAMC16! Wish we could have spent more time together but maybe next year???? ~Kathy

  7. Joan, this is just wonderful. It's quite an accomplishment to branch out and do things independently. I admire you for traveling alone. High-Five to you!

  8. Thank you for sharing your recent trip down under! It brings back fond memories of the trip my husband and I took just over 17 years ago; I was nearly 8 months pregnant on the plane ride back and recall telling him that I was never going to fly again. :-)

  9. I must go. That's all there is to it.

  10. What a wonderful adventure! I don't know if I would have your courage!