If you’re on Pinterest, you’ve probably seen this picture. It’s on bucket lists everywhere. Haʻikū stairs, otherwise known as the ‘Stairway to heaven’ – a 3922 step vertical climb up the side of a mountain.  Sounds awesome, right? As soon as this trip was booked I began researching. Blogs, forums, hiking websites; I was there. I found out it was illegal as it involved trespassing on government land. Since 2013 a guard patrolled the bottom of the stairs issuing infringement notices of $300. Still not deterred. I knew the times the guard was posted and the times they changes shift.  But then two weeks ago it happened. A landslide. It took out the stairs in three places! I was devastated. I began researching alternative routes up to the WW2 radio tower at the top. Where this hike has stairs to the top, the alternative ridge lines only had ropes. Not heaps safe. My dream died. (Second photo: That’s the tower at the top of the ridge line on the right near the edge of the could. Epic!) On Saturday Laura and I did a tour to kayak out to Mokoliʻi, a conical shaped island fondly named ‘Chinaman’s Hat’. After some research in to the tour company, I suspected we may be the only ones on the tour. And right on cue a beat up red truck with only three kayaks on the trailer pulled into the beach park. The driver? Why of course, a 24 year old guy student, working in a food truck and doing tours on the side. Awesome! The tour was great and relaxed (bar a foot injury for Laura and a nice gash on my shin!). After mentioning we were keen for some hiking and finding out the Haiku stairs post-landslide now come with a $600 infringement notice and 30 days jail time, he started suggesting alternatives. Although he never strayed from his keen-ness and intention to go hiking tomorrow too. Fast forward a day and we found ourselves in Ka’a’awa waiting for our new friend Dave and his mate – Trey. The crouching lion or Pu’u Manamana was our chosen challenge.  The 6km track with 600m elevation almost immediately. “Pu’u Manamana is a popular but challenging ridge hike that tests your nerves and tolerance of dangerous situations. It is mostly known on the island as being “one of the most dangerous hikes on the island”. It is pretty intense but the views up there were some of the best on the island.” Source Forgetting island time and growing impatience for our 30-minute late hiking buddies, Laura and I set off as per the blogs instructed. “The trail head is between the ‘do not pass’ sign and the telegraph pole.” Sound legit? More legit then these legit trail markers. Signs? Pfft, no. Pink ribbon is how tracks are marked in Hawai’i. Under some trees, over a few others and we were off. Until Dave called within five minutes and we backtracked 100m of elevation and restarted the hike at a different track head – as questionable as the previous. And within a few minutes we had expansive views of the Pacific Ocean. Not pictured: our 150+ BPM heart rates.  We were pretty thankful for Dave and Trey at this point after commandeering our backpacks, becoming our personal photographers and safety extraordinaires. By that, I mean, they assured us we’d be fine as we scaled over and around rocks with drops on either side…   Another ridge line, another rock climb. Almost at the top just in time for the cloud cover to be burning off! The various peaks we scaled up and over. The top! Woo! I couldn’t get over how awesome the mountains were. So green. So jagged. The ridge lines so narrow. Good thing there was little wind! The water, well, it’s just so clear! Once at the top we enjoyed the views and recorded some Snapchat vids for Dave and Trey’s mates. It seems young men are the same irrespective of the continent they live on. The walk back down was pretty cool with views of Kawa’a’wa and Kahana Bay. You can see almost up to Laie on the North Shore. See personal tour guide! Apparently another illegal hike is tucked in the Kahana Valley, ‘Sacred Falls.’ Trey was unlucky to get caught recently and issued with a court date and $300 infringement notice.  It seems an island full of mountains invites exploration! (Note: the extreme descent!) Can you see the crouching lion? Looks a little like Bella… Keen to get into some caves, Laura and Dave did some climbing. Spot Laura on the rocks just left of the breaking waves. Ignore the awkward perch. The rock was super spiky. It seems lycra provides no padding. Go figure. One of the best views of the walk. We went about a third of the way along the top ridge line before heading back.   A few standard mountain top photos. And yes, that is Laura jumping on a rock about 30cm diameter with 250m falls on both sides. Then down again! We made friends with the plants after a few slips and slides and then out through some long (!) grass and on to the main road around Oahu. And a final happy snap with our new friends Dave and Trey. It was so good hiking with people who knew the area and made the sketchy rock climbs seem a little less, ah, sketchy.   Mahalo! Care to share?Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)
Hey sister, go sister, soul sister, go sister. Usually used a greeting, we never go past the first line (or if Google serves me right, apparently we’ve skipped the first and moved straight to the second). We don’t know the rest, nor do we really care. Sisters have weird things that they do. This is just one of them. Growing up with two sisters, one of the first questions people ask is about clothes and hair. Yes – it’s like one giant wardrobe and yes – we play with each other’s hair. And i’mnot even kidding. It was devastating when Jen moved out. We lost one whole third of our clothes. Now i can’t spread my wings (read: thrifty clothes stealing fingers) and solely rely on trendy Miss Laura. As for hair, let’s not even begin to talk about the amount of products and tools we have. And bobby pins, well we have totally solved the mystery as to where are all the bobby pins. They’re with us! Cars, handbags, carpet, bathroom, lounge room. (Still wondering how we’ve managed it? Buy a 200 pack and they’ll be everywhere. EVERYWHERE really!) The world is wonderful. Anyway, tonight this babe checked out for an engagement party and it couldn’t help but want to share the pic I snapped before she left. Here’s a few mental notes I made. 1. Killed the hair. Awesome team effort there. (She pre-curled it before I worked my magic. Yes, thank you, thank you. I’m pretty happy with it too. I have The Small Things‘s Kate to thank for that.) 2. She totally trusted me to do her eye make up (Well at least start it). The previous time I was a bit heavy handed and we ended up closer to drag queen. This time the only complaint was that it was a little light on and a tad uneven. I’d say alright for a girl trained 100% by Pinterest. “Laura, I am not a professional. Deal.” 3. She’s ridiculously skinny now. (So much so she hollered me into the bathroom this morning to check out the scales). She’s worked her butt off the past few months and now lords it over me that she can eat endless hamburgers, hot chips, finger buns and McDonald’s hotcakes. She’s proof you can still eat crap and be skinny. Secret? Gym membership. 4. Well she just looked really pretty and I wanted to share it!   Disclaimer: Before you start coming in with ‘Wow you’re such a great sister,’ don’t. We also had a massive fight today that was totally my fault. I haven’t really got to the whole “faithful, generous, loving, intelligent and cheeky woman” I was talking about a few days ago down pat yet. She’s picked me up plenty of times slightly intoxicated  happier than usual from parties or late from the train station. Tonight she asked me to drop her off at the party. I was free, but the party was 30 minutes away. Let’s summarise and say I wasn’t all that gracious. The guilt when her friend turned up at 6pm was enough for me to thoroughly regret my response. Consider this my public apology. I’ll try for a personal one tomorrow too. And maybe even a smoothie apology.
My parents repeat it often. Be it when I leave the kitchen a mess after cooking up a storm. When I arrive home late and leave early again the next morning. When I’m “burning the candle at both ends” – again. When I duck to the shops to return an item and end up purchasing three more. When I mope around on a Sunday night questioning church politics or Anglican processes. When I buy yet another ream of fabric or another necklace to add to the collection. “I knew someone else like that.” It’s been five years since she left us to go to glory. Some days I feel the time has passed quickly and it was only last week she gave me a big tight hug for getting As on my report, telling us to just grab another towel after a long summer’s day in the pool or gifting one of her old necklaces. Other days I wish I could just sit with her again, listen to her wisdom and laugh as we teach her to use the latest camera/phone/computer the man at the shops told her she must have. I alternate between being thankful iProducts came out at the end of her life and being selfishly upset the old versions were never circulated because she just had to have the latest version. She was an adventurer and never settled for the status quo. She backpacked Europe with her sister in the early 50s, raised a family in central Thailand in the 60s and 70s and then travelled to China, UK, Cambodia and Thailand in her 70s. Always reading, always learning, she went back to uni to become a teacher at age 55. Opening her home to refugees, international students and migrant workers, returning to the mission field after the death of five missionaries and their seven children and always quick to give of her belongings, time and money – she was always generous. Waking and committing every day to the Lord, she learnt to trust his leading, be it to England for nursing school, Thailand for decades of mission, local church to local church and in the news of her decade long illness. Wine and a daily crossword, she argued, kept it at bay. But she always knew it was her heavenly Father – each minute of each day until the end. I used to screw up my nose because she served up brown rice – now I prefer it. She was always ahead of the trend. The memories may eventually fade but the lessons and character traits she instilled in and genetically gifted to her children and grandchildren live on. If I become even half the faithful, generous, loving, intelligent and cheeky woman she was, I’ll be thanking our Heavenly Father every day. Happy Birthday Grandma, we miss you dearly. Lois Margaret Pennington 29 January 1929 – 7 January 2010   Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. // 1 Corinthians 15:58 Care to share?Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)
Me, myself and I Earlier this week I returned from a holiday seventh-wheeling. Seventh-wheeling, is that even a thing? Probably not, but imagine going away for five days with three married couples in a three bedroom apartment. Yep, I know what you’re all thinking, ‘Woah, that would be weird.’ It wasn’t. This morning this article came through on Relevant Magazine’s weekly newsletter: “Being the third wheel is underrated.” It made me reflect on why I so often find myself in the company of married friends without a second thought. Hanging out with friends does not have framed by their/your relationship status. Although each couple ended up in a bedroom each, and I joined one of them, we tossed around the idea of an all girl room and an all guy room. (If I remember correctly one of the guys objected because another snores too loudly). Further, on car trips and activities, the group was flexible. Car trips were a random mix or sometimes gender-segregated – an opportunity for the women happily blasted Beyonce and talk unashamedly about Taylor Swift. ‘Married’ does not equal joint at the hip and in hanging out with couples you realise they are more than happy to leave their spouse behind.   My married friends are conscious of the struggle singleness can be. Being a close to 24-year old single, Christian woman, I’m a regular ‘third-, fifth-, seventh-, ninth-wheeler.’ Christians get married young. I did not. Hence, I find myself on holidays, in movies and hanging out on a Friday night surrounded by married couples. I’m thankful my married friends remember that sometimes singleness is hard. Sometimes I do feel lonely. Most of the time I’m too occupied/spontaneous to think/care about the fact I do not have a significant other. While away a friend made an effort to ask me away from the group how I felt about the sleeping arrangements. While I genuinely didn’t care, I appreciated my friend’s thoughtfulness in asking me. I also do not forget their regular dinner invitations, their invitation to join them on holidays or their request for my thoughts on any given issue.   Hanging out with married friends gives you a look into the joy, patience and frustration of marriage. Spending four nights in a small townhouse with one living/dining space gave me a fairly good insight into married life. Likewise, when they invite me round for dinner, I experience their generosity, support and wisdom. There are arguments. There are early morning wrestle fights. There are tender moments. There are moments of self-sacrifice. There are moments of finance hardship. I have learnt so much from hanging out with married couples. I see my friends love and support their partner in tiredness and stress. I see their patience in resolving disagreements in public. I see their love in painstakingly picking glass out from their spouse’s foot after they’ve dropped a case of beer. Marriage is deeper than the smiles you see on their wedding day and the not-so-secret sex lives Christians so often pretend is not the reason Christian couples marry young.   Remember marriage is not elevated above singleness. It is easy to think the grass is greener on the other side. Instant company, physical/emotional intimacy, two incomes of save money for a deposit, a non-awkward photo buddy (I still find posing for a photo alone is weird. What do I do with my hands?!). The struggles of marriage are widely written and so are the advantages of singleness. When feeling less valued, confused or lonely, I remember the time, freedom and flexibility on my side. Yes, I will stay out late with a friend for spontaneous drinks. Yes, I will buy this $300 handbag without guilt or asking permission from my partner. Yes, I will consider making plans for working overseas in the future. Yes, I will spend an entire afternoon planning a bible study and/or church service leading. Yes, I will toss and turn and shove the doona to the side, because hey – I didn’t have to share my bed with someone in 30-degree heat! I also remember in those odd moments I find myself driving home or walking alone that it’s okay. It’s okay not to be in the company of another at all times – partner, spouse, friend or otherwise. Solitude is okay. (I find myself having to assure myself of the last point just for the reality of my 100% extroversion!)   My married friends support my hope to eventually marry and have a family without matchmaking at every turn. The apartment we were staying on holidays had previously facilitated another couple in our friendship group’s relationship. The location has history so on the fourth day away when a single guy who moved away a few years ago but remained friends with all of us came down to join us I expected some jokes. I expected the subtle (read: never subtle) car shuffling to force the two single people together. I expected the forced coupling up on a walk somewhere. I expected the sly comment. In actual fact, I didn’t expect it. While my married friends might appreciate the joy of marriage, they don’t force my hand. (Although I also appreciate it would take a lot to force me to do anything!). On the contrary, they ask about recent potential suitors and encourage saying yes to the coffee request. They are considerate while also having a crack – but only once. Hanging out with married friends isn’t weird when the situation isn’t forced to be weird.   I totally get that I am potentially in the minority. I have an amazing group of friends for whom I am very thankful for. But I have also pulled them up in situations where their words, actions and prayers have made me feel uncomfortable. And they too have pulled me up with unrealistic expectations of what things should or should not be like. Relationships of any kind take work to get right. The single/married divide is way too prevalent for my liking. Don’t just wallow in the weirdness, take steps to make it not weird. If you’re married, I encourage you to ask your single friend if they feel uncomfortable hanging out with married couples. If they say yes, listen to them and learn from the above. If you’re single, I encourage you to reframe the way you think about your married friends and the time you spend with them. Sometimes there weirdness is all in our heads. I also encourage you to bring up some of the areas in a helpful and considered way. Sometimes it takes naming the consistent joke isn’t funny to make it stop. 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We all have love hate relationships with new year resolutions. We love making resolutions because new years mark new beginnings. They provide the opportunity to start afresh. Stop doing something; start doing another. We hate them because we’ve all been there before and we know they don’t last. We finish holidays, we go back to our routines and our old habits quickly start again. goal |gəʊl| noun 2 the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result Alas, rather than make resolutions, I’m going to set four goals for 2015. I want to look back on 2015 and know that I’ve achieved something. I want to be outcome focussed. After challenging my manager to make her resolutions measurable, here are my SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time specific) goals for 2015: 1. Read one book per month I like reading but like many things we like doing, I don’t read enough. I read about 6 books this year. I have another 6 I never finished – a growing pile on my bedside table. 2. Complete my Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award I started my Duke of Edinburgh’s Award 24 March 2005. I received my Bronze and Silver Awards in successive years and continued on to my Gold Award when I turned 16 in 2007. And, well, I never finished. The Award programme needs to be completed by a participant’s 25th birthday and so I’m running out of time. I have two components outstanding: Learn a skill for 12 months, showing regular commitment Select one physical activity and train regularly for a minimum of 40 hours spread over at least 12 weeks. I hope to complete the first component half way through 2015 with the first anniversary of MelaniePennington.com.au. The second I’m now also working towards with my previous goal of losing 5kgs and an ability to run 5km at less than 6min/km now complete. Yay! When the weather begins to cool I’ll restart lunchtime and post-work runs and clock those 40 hours of running! 3. Finish 2015 in a different role to the one I started I enjoy my workplace, my team and the work that I do, but I’m young, energetic and keen to progress my career. In the interests of sensitivity, I’ll keep the specific cards related to this goal close to my chest. Ask my offline and I’ll be happy to share. 4. Keep a daily prayer schedule I suck at prayer. I’ve read books on it. I’ve prayed about praying more. I’ve repented about praying infrequently. Unfortunately this one this is probably my least thought through goals in 2015, but I do intend to work out a schedule that will work for me very shortly. But I do want 2015 to be characterised by this: Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. // Colossians 4:2   Finally, help me out would you? Ask me how i’m going, how God’s answered my prayers, what book i’ve read recently etc. I’ll happily do the same for you. Happy new year friends! Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. // 1 Peter 1:3       Care to share?Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)