My daughter

I guzzle another coffee.

Skip another nap.

To get ahead.

To steal more of the day.

After her nocturnal callings leave me drowsy.

But I’m learning that in my pursuit to harness more time. 

She is in sync with me.

My milk flows in tune with her.

I nourish her. 

It connects us together, no matter the distance apart.  

For now. 

After a surf I feel this tingle in my breast, even before I reach the door. 

It must be time for another feed. 

Those sweet moments back in my arms.

Her fluttery heart begins to slow to mine.

Her breath too, softens with mine. 

It assures her without words that she is safe. 

She is home. 

There’s no need to rush

Mummy. 

Let me drift off to sleep on your chest

My favourite place.

Everything else can wait. 

In the silence of our moments.

Let that old self gently shed.

Mummy. 

After your time out bringing me into the world

The seasons don’t change overnight. 

Things are different now. 

I know it can feel lonely.

When it’s just you at night. 

Finding ways to sooth me, in the newness of your role. 

Sometimes it’s ok to cry Mummy. 

In just one glance, she teaches me to move with more grace. 

To surrender to all those parts that make up our new life. 

Her wide smile tells me it’s ok to leave parts of the old behind.  

Surrender. 

Then she dances a delicate dance between wanting to be tightly held, and being on her own.

She toys between independence and complete dependance. 

For now.

Her tiny little mind is soaking up all the moving parts of the world around her. 

A world she has only known for three months. 

She must slow down in order to catch up. 

And in that. 

I become her. 

She is me. 

Slow down

For a moment time begins to scare me. 

Those grey hairs on the dog’s face that suddenly become so apparent. 

A face I would once spend hours affectionately studying.

Somehow feels so foreign to me.

In just a few months it feels like years that we spent apart.

Through the busyness of motherhood. 

Slow down. 

I become so entangled with her that the delicate details of my other world have sunk into the background.

Embrace this moment mummy.

They are just fragments of time.

Slices of chapters that flow from newborn to baby, toddler to child.

In a blink of an eye I’m sure. 

The filling of the cup

As intoxicating as it is, surfing will only fill your cup to a certain level. It just took me all of my teens and twenties to figure that one out. Because back then I would’ve laughed at anyone even suggesting that there might be something equally, or more fulfilling than riding waves. I was just so absolutely obsessed with surfing. That was my world as I knew it. It wasn’t until a strange little flame started to burn somewhere in the depths of my body, that I experienced fleeting thoughts of whether there was something more that life had to offer. 

When I found myself standing with my partner in the blazing Timorese sun on a surf trip a few years ago, I wasn’t dreaming about riding the perfect wave that broke outside our bungalow, but rather I visualised swaying in a nearby hammock nursing our baby and wasn’t overly fussed if I surfed or not. I guess that was the true turning point when I realised that perhaps I had milked surfing for all its worth.

Fast forward to the now, I write with our newborn daughter curled up on my chest softly snoring away in her very own dreamland.

There are many times where we each find ourselves looking back on pivotal life events where we recollect the most profound moments, particularly those that have shaped our adult lives. For me, I draw back to when I had returned from extensive overseas travel pregnancy and surfingand endured the heartache of an abortion. For a long time I battled fears that something might happen in the future that would prevent me from having children, along with a grappling thought that I would be incredibly regretful of my decision to terminate, should I somehow never have the chance to fall pregnant again. 

Ironically, not even a year after the abortion, my greatest fear had somehow manifested itself. While travelling solo, I had suffered a head injury surfing a typhoon swell in remote Phillipines. After passing out unconscious and waking with sharp pains in the area of impact, I had to fathom grim thoughts of potentially suffering from brain damage, with no medical assistance nearby, and of course thoughts of not being able to have a child.

While I eventually made a full recovery, those two events irreversibly changed the meaning of my life and my pursuits. Even though I made a full return to surfing, my confidence was stripped for years to come, while in the background, my desire to have a baby only grew stronger. That’s when something strange began to unfold. Piece by piece, surfing slowly took a backseat, until the desire faded to a completely unfathomable place. 

I truly thought that child birth would be the greatest challenge for me to overcome, but I was surprised that it still didn’t trump that one surfing accident. But don’t get me wrong, the experience of birth has still made it to the top of the list as one of my most memorable moments.

I thought I would be one of those mammas that would surf until full term, but that big accident  and many other smaller surf injuries, saw me pulling the plug only four months into pregnancy. I just wanted to keep my baby safe and cocooned, withdrawing from anything that involved the slightest degree of risk, and for the first time in my life I wasn’t permanently sporting a fin cut or bruise anywhere on my body. I couldn’t help but still ride a blow up mat for nine months, but of course the thrill just wasn’t the same. 

Now that I’m on the other side of birth, the flame that had burnt dry is now starting to reignite. My passion for surfing is starting to return and there’s no greater feeling to come out of stagnation and harness this renewed energy now that other areas of my life are complete. 

Pregnancy in a time of chaos

I think pregnancy tests the minds strengths in many ways, particularly the ability to remain calm when preparing for a natural birth. I mean, I can’t think of anything comparably significant than the  absolute idea of birthing a baby for the first time. We all have to prepare ourselves for so many events in life, but this one surely takes the cake. Mothers are birthing all over the world every second, but to experience the physical and emotional elements of pregnancy day in day out myself, sure is something like no other. 

On my early morning barefoot wanders next to the ocean with my big belly out, I often wonder what passerbys think of a pregnant woman in the times of a global pandemic. I hope that they don’t feel pity for her, but rather that they think she is a strong and brave woman. It would be easy to fall into a victim mindset if I allowed myself to go there. Especially as circumstances tug the mind in undesirable directions. 

The truth is, there are so many women right now who have had the rug pulled frompregnancy during COVID underneath them during these mad times. Their birthing plans have been forcefully altered, losing their key support people that were to be present on their big day. Some birth centres have closed their doors to mothers with bulging bellies, and instead welcomed those to test for COVID. I thought my birth space was the last thing that could be touched. Currently we can only have one person present at birth, some countries won’t even allow for that. 

The thought of birthing without my partner makes me shudder. Women are rebelling and considering home births, or free-births, without any medical assistance at all, just to avoid the harsh changes within the trappings of the medical system, not to mention the high risk of exposure to the virus in a hospital setting. The usual post-birth train of close friends and relatives visiting the newborn are just not possible in these times. I could never have imagined having that taken away.

Every pregnancy has its challenges and I’m certain every mother tries her best to do what is right for her unborn child, including correct nutrition, avoiding known substances that might harm their baby, sleeping only on her side and keeping the mind as pure as possible. To name a few. But even going to the grocery store has become a rather stressful event in ensuring healthy food is available at home. My need for control has taken on a new level. Surely I’m not too alone in that, as we each do our best to get by with the restrictions in place, set by stronger powers. 

I felt I was doing pretty well in gathering my little tribe of woman together prior to the time I found out I was pregnant. I miss them all and wish we could see one another at a time I need them the most. My mum. She is battling rounds of chemo right through all of this. Her immunity is so low that it becomes too big of a risk to be in contact. Besides being on the other side of a policed border. My dad who was due to visit from NZ won’t get to see me pregnant, at least not this time around. While it sounds like a cruel punishment has been handed down on, I know there will be so much goodness to come out of this and I can’t let my mind collapse. 

I was thinking the other day how much of a unique time it is to be bringing life into a world that has in essence, been forced to hit the reset button. By the time our baby is old enough to start comprehending bits and pieces of life, things would have irreversibly changed about the way we live our lives, where others will be kind to perfect strangers and the air in which we breathe is once again pure. I know this baby will be much needed medicine not just for their mumma and their pappa, but for so many who are struggling in these times. After all, we must all remember the delicate dance of life and death. 

Faded desires

I wake from my afternoon nap in a panic. The late golden sun melting below the palm trees, the wind creating dancing shadows of jagged palm fronds across my turquoise bed sheet. The scent of smoke from a nearby fire drifts through the cracked window, reminding me of the many remote and tropical islands of which my younger self ventured through.

Suddenly, all of my surf trips flashed before my eyes. That was it. No more of those wild days. But then slowly, panic gives way to acceptance. A giving way that has been weaving its way throughout my mind for the past couple of years. A feeling that was certainly not always easy to grasp. 

In the very moment of exploration, I know I made the absolute most of it. I couldn’t have lapped up any more of it had I tried. Though, coming out of the other side of filling everybikini body spare moment immersed in the ocean, it’s a relief to not be 100% engrossed in it anymore. It’s a making way for something even greater. 

My cup has well and truly overflowed with fullness for all the waves I’ve been privileged enough to ride. As I write, I sit with my mug of liquorice tea, while the first of the winter swells grace the shores. My rusted bicycle recklessly leans against a tree trunk from my early morning surf check. One where many hungry surfers lined the carpark, frantically getting into their wetsuits, eager to steal even one great ride. And yet, I felt a great calmness as I cycle away, no longer having that burning desperation to be out there. 

It was only a few years ago that I would punish myself for missing even one morning surf. The times when I did surf early, I’d then need to be out there in my lunch break and again after work. A complete and utter obsession. 

Now, a mysterious anticipation lingers in my mind. An anticipation for the next chapter to come. Curiosity tends to hijack many moments throughout my day; how great it must be on the other side. It must be something pretty incredible if it’s going to be any greater than my love of surfing.

Of course, this passion for surfing is never going to vanish and it will always remain a key foundation. 

Rather, there’s some kind of interlude playing out. 

A slow burn. 

There’s no longer a fearful clutching at something that feels like it’s slipping away. In recognising the need for that interlude, alluring visions flash through my mind. A tiny hand in mine, small and clumsy steps, wide and sparkling eyes as we slowly make our way around the edge of a remote island.

The power of the period

As a surfer, it took a while for me to realise the importance of a backup sport or hobby to indulge in while the surf was unfavourable. I learnt over time, that to 100% obsess over surfing only caused frustration when nature wasn’t playing along. That’s where strength training came in. Oh and an incredibly inspirational boyfriend. The thing was, every time it got to that time of the month, I felt I had to sit out for almost a week because I was taught through yoga to be gentle with my body around moon cycle. It wasn’t until I looked into research that the week of strawberry fields was one of the most powerful weeks, in terms of strength goals in the gym. This might be a time for males to tune out… 

When you get your period, sometimes all you want to do is pass out on the couch in and around coping with your already busy lifestyle. Some women get hit harder than others, lower back pain, bloating and heavy bleeding, being the joyous symptoms that come around all too soon every month. No matter how many inspirational workout clips you watch on your Instagram feed, it really isn’t enough to motivate you to get your butt off the couch and to the gym. But that’s all about to change. 

Being on your period is the only time you’re not concerned with getting pregnant 

Bold statement yes. But biologically and evolutionarily it’s true. Testosterone levels are atsmall bikini their highest when you’re menstruating, given there is more biologically active testosterone available during exercise. So pretty much during this period (no pun intended) you are closer to being a man than ever before!

I think that in itself is pretty amazing, given guys go about buying testosterone supplements, yet as women we have free flowing hormones given to us naturally every month! I see this as a huge advantage for females! That’s right, bleeding can be a gift! 

Muscular strength increases 

I found a study out of Sweden that showed that by training within the first half of your menstrual cycle, had the biggest effect in terms of muscular strength, power and muscle mass. This is so important if you’re into heavy lifting and can be a time when you break previous records in how much weight you push or pull! This adds an extra level of confidence for your next session. 

Personally, when I discovered those studies, it was enough motivation just to hold that thought in my head to drag myself into the gym on my period! The placebo effect alone truly plays wonders on the mind. Throughout a heavy weighted set, I’d be telling myself “oh wow I really do have more strength!”

So it’s time to let go of the thought that you cannot train on your period, or that your period is some kind of curse! Take your power back. Training large muscle groups, such as quads, buttocks and hamstrings requires at least one heavy training session a week to truly see results. So now you have every reason not to sit out one of those important sessions every month! 

 

Pave the path to your dreams

As I drove the same road to the office yet again, by the time I parked my car at work I had realised that I may as well have placed a blindfold across my eyes. I’ve become so accustomed to driving that same route for two years, that I felt I didn’t even appreciate the beauty of the ocean along the way. To me there’s nothing worse than feeling as though your life is stagnating and you’re living the same chapter day in, day out. So exactly how do you break that pattern and add colour and depth to your life again? It all begins with mindset, because you’re the one in control here.

So often you might put yourself in a holding pattern without even realising it. Being held to that job you hate, that dissatisfied relationship and a town you really never wanted to live in. We are so programmed to only notice all the ‘what is’ in our lives, and from those observations believe sometimes that ‘this is the way it will always be’. This restricts us so much in the way we dream about how we want our future to look, although we were all too good at dreaming as a child, and I think it’s kind of sad that we lose that natural abraham hicksability as we grow all old and responsible.

I want to win the lotto then I can travel the world and retire early’. This kind of thought probably feels pretty good to you, but almost immediately you might contradict that thought with ‘oh but that will never happen, the odds are always against me’. The thing is, the law of attraction doesn’t care about your words, only your vibration that you’re offering. It’s only ever going to bring you more of the vibration that you put out there. ‘I’ll never have enough money’ means you’ll always attract more of not enough.

Believe it as just how you want it

Recently I got a job in Byron which allows me to move in with my man after 2 years of commuting, and living a little like passing ships in the night. In hindsight, I can now see that I got so caught up in how my life has been, that it took so much longer to manifest this new job than what I was hoping.

Even though I’ve learnt so much about law of attraction over the years, I was tripping on my own conditioned mind. Like a broken record I kept repeating in my own mind ‘I hate this lifestyle, I spend so little time with him, this job is so boring’ along with bucket loads of beach girlsimpatience and frustration. Of course I only got more of that which I disliked, which held me to the same old conditions, which left no room to allow any new conditions or opportunities to come my way.

The real trick is in playing an entirely new record in your mind. Whatever it is that you see in your dream lifestyle, write down all those aspects. For me it would be something along the lines of ‘I love waking up to you every morning, I’m so glad that all that commuting is behind us, I love living here again, it’s so great to be in a small community’.

Talk about your current lifestyle that you dislike as something of the past. Humans so often need to see a physical manifestation before they can believe something. The above trick gets you ahead energetically, which allows you to rapidly reach your dreams much faster than waiting for the physical manifestation.

I guess you can kind of picture it as brainwashing yourself! Don’t be afraid to get specific, it doesn’t matter how small the detail is, as long as it feels good and you can believe it to be real. There’s no point in saying ‘I can’t wait to live together, it’s going to feel so good when…’ as that will only remind you of the way it is now, you’ve got to speak it as though it’s happening right now, not in your future.

Catch your thoughts early on

Once you’ve put all that good energy into your new life thoughts, you have to be very mindful of negative thoughts that creep into your mind. In the beginning you might havesurf girl dreaming so much pent up resistance that you have to focus incredibly hard to wipe out these painful or negative thoughts.

I’m so tired of working with my colleagues, we have nothing in common and I’m sick of all the office gossip’, becomes ‘I love this new job, it’s such a positive atmosphere and in a strange way I look forward to coming into work every day’. You can see how this matches your vibration so much more closely to that which you want in your life.

If you’re unsure of the progress you’re making, just try to tune in to how you’re feeling. When you play with a puppy, you feel like a little kid again, and also feel so much joy. Tap into the joy that comes with your new mindset thoughts about your dream life. If you feel rundown and flat, then your focus is likely in the wrong place and you’ve got some work to do.

Look for the evidence

The law of attraction states that your own vibration will always match up with the vibration of another. Much like a tuning fork. What you attract externally is also another great measure of where you’re at with your mind thoughts. Just take the topic of road rage. A perfect example of the law of attraction at play.

The other day I was looking to hire a steam cleaning machine to bond clean my studio. I was getting increasingly frustrated at the high costs or lack of availability in my local stores. I recall driving out of the shopping complex all fired up that I couldn’t find what I was looking for, and had concluded that I never will.

As I approached a give way sign (with perhaps a little more speed than usual), I had to spiritualwait for a passing car at the t-section. Suddenly the car slammed its brakes on in front of me, with the female driver throwing her arms up in the air, before erratically flipping the bird in my direction. She must have thought I was going to T-bone her already beat up Holden Commodore!

This couldn’t be any more perfect proof, a suburb full of rich well-to-do’s and I attract the only one feral women who wanted to unleash her anger on me. Instead of taking on that anger myself, and getting even further fired up by retaliating I just started laughing at the irony of the situation. Those that are not tuned into law of attraction, likely would’ve flipped the bird right back at her, then continued passing that anger along to other people on the road!

So don’t be one of those people that state ‘I’ll be happy when…’ You are the one in control of your life and the thoughts that are churning in your head. It only takes around 16 seconds for one thought to attract another thought of the same nature, so why not make it a positive, good feeling thought?

 

 

 

Why I’ve switched to vegan protein

When I switched to brown rice/pea protein I nearly vomited at the taste. And to think that some vegan advocates can describe such a taste as earthy, as if to make it sound somewhat inviting. While it takes preparation time to make my new pre-gym vegan shake, I’ve found it all to be worth it and I’m sticking to it. So why did I even bother with the switch? Trust me, it’s not because I’ve turned into a ranting vegan.

I do kind of miss the convenience of my dairy protein (WPI). Before I used to head to the gym, I simply measured out a spoonful into a protein shaker, added some water, threw in the ball whisk and away I went. These days it takes only a few more minutes to prepare my shake, but that’s a lot for a busy girl itching to get into the gym!

So it all began when I was researching for a client’s health article on hormonal issues cacaorecently. I stumbled across a pretty disturbing study. I get the whole thing about how humans are the only ones drinking milk from another species, and how it’s a pretty crappy life to be continually milked, and to have your offspring continually snatched from you. However, with my other non-meat eating habits, I feel not too bad about continuing to consume dairy. Until I found that study.

Dairy and milk products contain 70% of animal estrogen.  That is the figure that made me stop in my tracks and think, do I really want that high level of weird hormones floating around in my system? Some other concerns from that same study include:

  • Increasing body of evidence indicating possible effect of dairy food’s estrogens in tumour provoking or initiation and such evidence being a great concern
  • Intensive veterinary drugs, especially growth promoting hormones utilized in veterinary medicine results in an increase of the residues in milk and other dairy foods.

Basically, steroid hormones are incredibly potent in dairy and leaves profound biological effects in humans, even at low doses. Now don’t get me wrong, I love my cheese and dairy products. Mostly my cheese though. But over the last month I’ve found myself veering away from most dairy products simply for health reasons, which drives my decision to pick up a dairy-free option instead.

Hormones affect so many processes in your body

You’ve probably heard of mood as being most closely linked to hormones, especially withswitch to vegan protein all the jokes about “oh she’s just being hormonal” around a women’s time of the month. But did you know that your hormones also affect multiple other processes in the body including:

  • Metabolism
  • Fertility
  • Development of brain tissue
  • Immunity
  • Body temperate
  • Digestion

Therefore, any interruption in your levels of hormones at even subtle levels, may have profound effects on how any of the above processes are carried out. Hormones are after all, our chemical messengers, so I wonder what they would be sending out when animal estrogens are thrown into the mix?

To me it’s no surprise that hormonal issues are becoming increasingly common in both men and women. I can think of a handful of friends that are battling with infertility or thyroid complications.

Dairy industry giants

You might wonder why you don’t hear about these kind of studies too often? Unless you’re working directly in a role where you’re exposed to medical research, you probably will never hear word of the negative implications of dairy. That’s because the global net worth of the dairy industry was recorded at 335.8 billion USD in 2014.

Why I chose brown rice/pea combo protein

In avoiding my use of a WPI protein, I wanted to make sure I was going to find a non-dairy substitute that was fairly fast absorbing, and also provided a strong nutritional content and amino acid profile. After reading an article on Bodybuilding.com here I was convinced to give brown rice/pea protein a go.

In reading the article, you’ll note that while one of the proteins on its own might lack in a particular amino acid, the other protein will have its back and make up for that shortfall. While it’s not digested as fast as WPI, the author points out that it falls between the absorption levels of WPI (fast absorbing) and casein (super slow absorbing) and I’m pretty happy with that.

Getting past that earthy taste

You’ll never find me describing the rice/pea combo protein as earthy. It is simply revolting and you’ll likely struggle to down a glass, unless you have some major issues with your taste buds! I experimented with a few different recipes and found this one to be pretty damn delicious.

Recipe

  • One 30g scoop of pure rice/pea protein (24g protein)
  • Half banana
  • One TBS natural peanut butter
  • 1 heaped tsp of raw cacao
  • One squirt of honey
  • Half cup of coconut milk or other nut milk
  • Half cup of water

Blend together in a blender until combined.

Last of all, make sure you’re purchasing a 100% pure protein. Your body doesn’t need all that synthetic crap in it, and there’s simply no need for artificial sweeteners when you’re making a tasty recipe out of the protein powder anyway.

How to master your flow state and score more waves

Karma and energy. Could these two dominating aspects of existence have anything to do with being in the right place, at the right time, for that one perfect wave that stays in your memory for a lifetime? Of course there’s such thing as fluking, but I think that there’s something bigger at play.

I mention the point because I’ve noticed that when I sacrifice time to give back to others, I’m always rewarded with an unmistakeable magic session. I’m not saying immediately after time spent giving back, but at any near time in the future.

When I find myself scoring that session, my instinct tells me it’s because I’ve carried out surf paddlegood deeds. Of course that’s not the motivating factor behind any type of volunteering, or labours of love, to expect something in return. But it’s nice to know that someone is watching over me, and sending gifts relevant to my greatest passion. I have a feeling that Huey and other universal figures are responsible.

And what about energy? I’m sure you’ve noticed that one guy in the water that lets out an aggressive grunt, when he can’t paddle onto a wave. He’s likely carried negative energy from his day into the water, and placed high expectations of washing that frustration away. He’s also the one that hands out disposable death stares, to all the guys scoring the best waves. If you’ve tried to surf when you’re angry, you’ll know the impossibility of the task.

Of course a much more rewarding state of mind to harness, when in the line-up, is when you find yourself in the flow. On land, you’ll recognize this state by a series of events or situations, sometimes even the occurrence of miracles. You’ve probably noticed a flow state as:

  • Doors keep opening for you.
  • The multiple occurrence of events that send shivers up your spine (described as the touch of spirit).
  • Vibrant people seem to keep coming into your life- even a stranger crossing your path that captivates you with their high energy.
  • That feeling of déjà vu is rampant. I’ve heard that’s a little sign from the universe that you’re exactly where you need to be in life. That feeling that you’ve been there before shouldn’t be written off as cliché.
  • All those little coincidences that are actually meaningful synchronicities or signs (a term first coined by the great Carl Jung) and better described in “Catching the bug of synchronicity”.

Basically you attract all the best that life has to offer.ocean beauty

Just with events on land, there’s no forcing things to happen, as it starts to become unnatural. And it’s exactly the same in the water. You have to bring a special kind of mindset with you.

This is where you really start to enjoy any conditions you paddle out into.

If you’re reminding yourself how much you love to be caressed by the warm waters of a vast ocean, watching pods of dolphins frolic in the deep waters, that feeling of a moving wave under your feet, and just being there without any expectations, then you’re going to withhold a high energy through gratitude.

Comparatively if the conditions are terrible, and you haven’t managed to catch any waves at all, you might ask yourself why you even bothered to paddle out in the first place.

Instead, look through a different lens. Know that your surfing improves with every paddle stroke. Master those junky waves, so you can truly appreciate the flawless ones. womens surfingMany of the world’s top aerial surfers crave onshore conditions to improve their airs.

Even if you’re just sitting there, you might be surrounded by one of the best sunsets or a passing thunderstorm. These moments from nature can even be missed, when you’re so caught up in needing waves, or tactically keeping on the inside of another surfer.

When you drop the neediness, and the high expectations, or any expectations at all, then you’ll feel that flow state that you’re after. You’ll be rewarded in the surf when you dedicate time to others on land. Keep in mind that Huey always watches your efforts. If you drove for three hours and didn’t score. He’s watching. If you paddled out every day of the month just because your passion is that high, he sees that too. So where’s your karma and energy sitting at?

 

 

What’s your likeability?

More and more I find that I’m trying to re-create a positive view in my mind of social media. But it’s a challenge because for me it’s always been a love, hate relationship. I mean how many of us critically judge our likeability based on our amount of likes? We return to our screens every ten minutes after we make a post, curious to see how many of our friends have responded with a thumbs up. If we don’t get enough blue thumbs, we start to question whether we’re attractive enough, interesting enough or whether people even care anymore. Explain to me the positive points of this destructive behaviour so many of us are caught up in? That I’m caught up in.

I cringe every time I see a selfie stick. You know, those people that parade around the earth like they’re lost in some kind of virtual bubble, completely disconnected from the world around them. I’ve had a passion for photography ever since primary school, and simply loved to document life and find some way to freeze a memory. I want to hear more stories for this same desire.

And I can see that for others (the selfie stick others) that there is that little element that lives inside of them. But the art has well and truly become lost in a meandering course ofselfie-stick-827879_640.jpg attention seeking behaviour. Have you ever watched a bus load of tourists pull up at your local beach? These days, so very few actually take in the beauty of their surroundings. Rather, it’s straight to winding up the selfie stick to capture their overly joyful smiles in front of a scenic background.

I was sitting in a café in Timor recently, where fifteen or so Indonesian tourists came in, each clutching a selfie stick or the latest oversize iPhone. There was no acknowledgment at all for the wait staff, instead they pushed their way straight to the back of the restaurant, pulled out chairs and started snapping up photos of them pouting in front of a well presented selection of art work. There was no intention for purchase of food. Once enough photos were taken, they then proceeded straight out the door, much like the coming and going of a destructive tornado.

And then there’s friend requests. Unless that is what they are, a friend who you know through and through. Perhaps you’ve met someone on your travels whom you formed a spiritualdeep connection with, and wished to stay in touch. I’m not talking about these genuine ones, I’m talking about a person you may have once met at a party, or spoken to on a bus, or even seen from across the room.

If you do decide to accept the request, then you could go months, or even years without a single exchanged word, but you still allow them to sit there, because the number of friends you have somehow gives you comfort. I’m sure by now you’ve realized a lot of these people are more concerned about the attention they can get from their incredibly intriguing posts than to care what you’re doing with your life.

We have become so fluid as to expose our entire lives to strangers. With more than one billion people around the world being active on Facebook, I wonder how many of them are living a life of illusion, forgetting the true meaning of authenticity and connection. Just don’t forget to live your life as it presents off the screen.

 

 

 

Travelling through Muslim countries as a solo female

In Bali it’s not uncommon to see Western girls freely strutting around with bronzed arse cheeks hanging out of the bottom of ripped denim shorts. However, there’s a strong likelihood they’re there for the vortex of clubs, beaming with hot surfers tanked up on $1 shots of Arak, looking for a good time. But I know that’s not your mission. Seeking waves in less than chartered territory as a female, means paying a bit more respect to local culture. Indonesia contains some of the best waves in the world, but the transit to those waves equals less than desirable destinations. You’re going to have to pay attention to what’s going on around you, if you want to reach many of those palm-tree lined, white sandy beaches with the perfect peeling left hander you spotted in your favourite edition of Tracks magazine.

So what exactly does it mean to travel alone as a female, especially in Muslim territory? Generally, it means you’ll gain a lot of attention from the opposite sex, even if unintentional. You’re exotic to anyone you pass by. But if adventure is alive in your heart, these culture shocks are the eye-opening experiences are exactly what you’re chasing.  The ones that make you appreciate the laidback lifestyle you likely left behind photo 1in your home country.

I’ll never forget my first adventure to Mentawais travelling solo. Through the last minute nature of organizing my time out there, I have to say I didn’t have much time to plan and research. I had read that a rather conservative culture existed on the mainland of Sumatra, and I already knew that the transit through Malaysia was the same.

I was appropriately covered head to toe in light cotton pants, the type you see tacky tourists wearing in Thailand. Yes, they may have even had elephants printed all over them.  It was pretty obvious to cover my torso and arms in a light cotton shirt. I also did my best to cover up my beach blonde hair under a Roxy cap. Before departure, I had actually trialled a head scarf, but while looking at my reflection in the mirror, concluded it was a bit OTT.

But even through this effort, I couldn’t help but notice all the looks from local men. I also surfing girlhad twenty local kids spot my blonde hair sticking out of my hat, while waiting for a boat to depart. I watched them clamber across planks of timber around the outskirts of their fishing village to be in my company for a long two hours. When they realised I was reading an Indonesian language book, I apparently became the centre point for all their jokes. Anyway, turns out I had made a few mistakes along the way and take these lessons to my next Indonesian destination.

Deflecting attention in Muslim culture

In Muslim culture, women who travel solo are generally seen as frisky and adventurous, perhaps even looking for trouble. If like me (at my time of travel to Mentawai) you haven’t yet found your knight in shining armour, head to your local jewellery shop and pick up a cheap sterling silver, cupic zirconia fake wedding ring. This will at least divert some attention. And yes, feel free to use every possible opportunity to fend off looks by running your left fingers along your chin in order to show your gem off.

When transiting through public places such as my boat crossing to Mentawai, you may or may not notice that men will sit together, with women generally staying in their bunk rooms or gathering in completely separate area. My first boat crossing I actually thought it was predominately men on board. The heat was absolutely blanketing that night, so I chose to sit out the back on the deck for much of the sleepless 12-hour night crossing.

I did think it was strange to not see many women sitting out the back of the boat, but muslim cultureagain didn’t put too much thought into it. If you can, avoid sitting in areas where there are mostly men frequenting the area.  If you’re on your own, try to sit with groups of women. If you’re travelling by bus or plane, take the window seat. In a taxi? Definitely take the back seat and make minimal conversation with the driver. Instead put your music in and be anti-social. Don’t share any of your travel details with any locals. You also want to share meal time with women rather than men.

Customs officers of the male variety will likely pull you over to ask you further questions. I found this to be a common trick of those using the power of the uniform to probe into the life of a Western girl. At one small airport I had to endure thirty minutes of questions mostly unrelated to travel. I had the customs guy turning over the contents of my bag, not even looking at the items, instead carefully watching me as he fired questions. Where’s your boyfriend? You travel alone? Where you come from? Why you surf triphere? Where you going? Surfing? Surfing? Expect these questions but give short, polite answers. Then make up an excuse that you need to be someone because your boyfriend is picking you up outside. Keep your cool and never say you’re alone. Corruption is alive and well in smaller regions of Indonesia.

Where possible avoid eye contact with men. Your non-verbal communication is important. While in Western cultures eye-contact during conversation is praised, in Muslim culture it is the opposite. Especially with the elderly, avoid making eye contact in conversation so as to offer your respect (if you so happen to stumble upon an English speaking person). Become an expert at people watching and pick up hints along the way. You may notice that Muslim women actually gaze downward in conversations with other men. Never shake a Muslim man’s hand.

As you can see, it’s simply not worth the risk of showing any kind of sexuality in a foreign Muslim country. Yes, I’ve been, and still am, the vain girl caring too much about makeup and looking good in a nice (skimpy) outfit. But here, it’s simply not worth it. Nine times out of ten you can wear a bikini at your surfing destination, but save showing any skin until that point. While in Sumbawa, a Western girl decided to take her yoga mat to the far end of the main surfing beach, in front of a village to practice yoga in just her bikinis. This was considered suggestive to a 13-year-old boy, who little to her knowledge wielded a machete behind his back upon approach. When she showed that she was not interested, she got attacked. So drop the Instagram illusions of perfect island paradises and keep your head on your shoulders.