Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ. And with the rising of the sun streaming through the curtains came a new year – a new year of the Lord’s unfailing love and mercy. A year of blessings and no doubt pain. A year of adventure and memory making. A year of patience but also one of yearning for a time to come.  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)
The reality of holidays is no matter how long they are; they soon become a distant memory once one returns to reality. So it was with my recent Mexican + Cuban adventure. However, a positive of being slow on processing my photos is reliving the joy and remembering the fun I had. I’ll slowly post each stop on my trip over the coming weeks with a few thoughts/reflections. Feel free to read or just ignore, it’s largely so I have a record of my trip. (Ie. Like this one from my first solo adventure back in 2011). We all know that some of us plan things more than others. Me? Well, I think we all know which category I fall into…even if I’m a Microsoft Excel hater. But the thing about life, and travel, is things don’t always go to plan. I lost count of the number of times friends, colleagues and family said “be safe” in the weeks prior to jet setting. It usually came after I revealed I was largely travelling around Latin America alone with pocolito Español. I’m a planner but also a realist. “Things will go wrong,” I told them. Heck, last time I solo travelled I managed a hurricane, tornado warnings, an earthquake, a lockdown on my university campus and a stolen bag on a North Carolinian beach leaving 3 Australian girls stranded in bikinis for a few hours. In the trips that have followed with my hermana we’ve had lost passports, ran through our fair share of airports and locked ourselves out of our accommodation after leaving the key in the returned hire car. (She’ll tell you all of those were my fault…and she’d be 100% correct). But travelling is great because it throws you out of your comfort zone. We don’t want to live comfortable lives. Travel forces you to solve problems without your standard security net. Throw in a language barrier and you’re really in for a good time. I was recently chatting with someone who has had similar experiences and we joked our prayer life had a marked improvement when travelling. It’s not a good thing. Travelling makes me more aware of my tendency to think I can do things on my own, and it’s only when things leave my control that I turn to God. Dracula’s holiday home, Malecon Mazatlan Carpa Olivera, an ocean pool + slide built in 1914 in Olas Altas Airconditioning comes au natural in Mazatlan’s taxis aka pulmonias Four days into this trip I was acutely reminded of this once again. Crying on the floor of my dear friend’s shower in Mazatlan, Mexico. Already nursing a cut up face, an egg on my head and a collection of bruises on various limbs from an oh so dramatic (and not unsual) fainting episode. I now had pain shooting down my leg and across my lower back. Absolute agony. Although I had Internet, I had no contact email or number for my friend. Facetime audio wasn’t working for my sister (back in Brisbane…at 6am). I tried a Skype call. No credit. I managed to track down a number of the YWAM base on the inter webs and punched it into Skype again. Cue: dial tone. Praise God. With each ring, I prayed harder my friend would answer. Finally she picks up. If my initial mid-lunch prep fainting episode in the middle of the kitchen weren’t enough to scare everyone, my phone call would have. I’ll skip to the end because within 2 hours of being in complete air gasping, back clutching distress, it was 90% gone. The ‘international consultation’ with my sister diagnosed it as a muscle spasm likely caused from my collapse. I have no doubt in my mind God answered the prayers of many that Tuesday afternoon. (I’ll note, although I say ‘crying’, there were no tears. I’m pretty sure I’m unable to cry real tears. Crying is more akin to screaming.) I flew out the following morning at 6am to Mexico City. Thankfully that was the end of the disasters and beyond an actual breakdown when I was too short to lock the gate of my casa in Havana. For the obvious reasons, let it be known photos of me are limited from hereafter. Before: Cutting 50+ avocados After: A few cuts + bruises  Huge shout out to Danica and Yosef for being amazing hosts. And the team at YWAM Mazatlan. Check out their awesome worship session – in Spanish + English. (Your’s truly features at 3:49) 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)
And like that another year is over. 2015 has been one the hardest years of my life in my living memory. It took me a while to realise it, and then to accept it. I’ve always found life fairly easy. My level head and controlling nature generally keeps everything in check. I don’t leave space for error. But this year I woke up in pain most mornings. I relied on painkillers to get through the days so much so #DrMel decided it was unsafe and I began to push through the pain unless unbearable. This year I started a fun relationship that wasn’t going to work, ended it and dealt with the guilt that followed. This year I went from absolutely loving my job to not loving it. This year I jumped on rollercoaster ride every time I went to a church related activity. From almost walking out mid-service and never returning to joining the church board and watching friend after friend leave. This year I decided I needed to shake up my life and packed up all my belongings and moved 1000km north to a city I knew less people than the fingers on my right hand. It’s safe to say my head has been in overdrive. I’ve never had so many areas of my life out of my control. I’ve never been one to come home and camp out on the couch. I’ve never been one to force myself to social gatherings because I know another night on the couch will make things worse. I’ve never been one to lie when people ask how I am. So often my loved ones have shared that they’re having a hard time. I tried to empathise with them. ‘Yes, it’s okay. We all go through them.’ But I didn’t understand what that meant beyond having thousands of words looming, a full social calendar and self-induced tiredness. I did not know hard. I possibly still don’t, but this year I’ve realised whatever ‘hard’ looks like for each of us, ‘hard’ keeps you awake at night. Hard keeps you in bed in the mornings. Hard keeps you grasping for anything to hold on to. Hard makes you reflect on what you know. Hard makes you learn. I’ve worked out if things aren’t easy, you don’t have to fake it. You don’t have to pretend. You don’t have to always smile. You can be real with the people around you. You can lose face. You don’t have to have it all together. 365 days ago I wrote about my goals for 2015 without any knowledge only a few days later I’d push myself too hard and cause a year of ongoing pain. In reflection they’re pretty shallow goals about me doing something. Throughout the year I came back to these goals to make sure I was on track. I was and I am. I read a lot of books (and snuck a few audio books to bulk out the count), I finished my DofE, I fought for a mid-year promotion then for an interstate role. The last one was a challenge as there were days and weeks I was convinced I could solve my problems myself. And although I’ll have a new set of goals for 2016, it wasn’t achieving these goals that I find the value of 2015. This year I’ve learnt to cling to the things that bring me joy, that refocus me and keep me at the foot of the cross. I picked up a paintbrush again. I didn’t even know if 9 years on I’d be even able to paint (to a standard I’d be happy with). I started sewing again (and wearing my creations). I started playing netball again (and accepted I had to relearn the skills I’d forgotten after I stopped playing competitively). I chose to start reading books again (and not just cushy novels). I chose to stick by the church I have struggled with (because church is more than me and my issues). I started being honest with myself. I started being honest with others. I started being honest with God. Yes, it’s been rough. I still wake up in pain most mornings, and despite most of my friends and family living 1000km away I’ve re-found stability. I know that there are seasons in life and 2015 held a number of them. I learnt about God’s faithfulness. I continue to learn what patience looks like, what gentleness looks like and what selflessness looks like. This year I learnt I can’t keep everything under control. It might have taken losing control to realise I needed to go crawling back to God because he’s the one in control. We can’t do things on our strength. I know that God is good. I have life because of Jesus. I have hope because of grace. Here’s to 2015, a horrible but fruitful one in Christ. 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)
If you’ve ever been traumatised by the white tube of death, you’ll understand. On Tuesday, after three months on consistent pain, a specialist with an OAM (#legit) finally told me I’d earned an MRI. Woo! (I’ll spare you the story that involved 13 phone calls to get a bulk billed MRI that wasn’t in May, but know I totally #crushedit) A quick trip down the Hume to Bowral, checking ‘no’ for every box on the poorly formatted, photocopied one-to-many-times form and then a 40min wait (I mean seriously, appointments were invented to avoid waiting), and I found myself babe-in’ it a hideous smashing canary gown walking towards it. It looked the same as the one in the brochures I’ve made, the website I’ve edited and the video I uploaded. But I’ll tell you it sure looked a whole lot more friendly when a cute kid pushed his teddy through it. (0:43) “No, I don’t have any metal bits in my body” – for the fifth time. “No, no pacemaker.” “Yes, my hairtie is metal free.” “Hop up here…Shimmy down further…Legs in here,” he said before Velcro-ing the baby-making-organ protector on my stomach. Oh no, my legs are totally uneven. So not going to be able to stay like this. :: Awkwardly attempt to adjust foam leg holders while strapped to a bed :: Nope, that totally didn’t work. Perhaps I’ll try again. :: Awkward lean that makes the actually injury hurt. :: Screw it, I guess I’ll cope. Hands on chest? Hands above head? Oo tough choice. Hands above head. Yes, this is good. “Okay it will take about 30minutes, so just stay very still and I’ll see you soon.” Okay, calm. Still. Don’t move. Heck, telling me to stay still is like asking the fat kid not to eat the last donut. Woah this is hard. My stomach is moving. The baby-making-organ protector is moving from my breathing. Maybe I’m breathing too hard. Yes, good idea, shallower breaths. Crap, it’s still moving. Okay perhaps breathing is okay. Mel! Of course breathing is okay – they cannot not let you breath. Idiot, Mel. Hmm I wonder how long it’s been. Mel – it’s been like 30 seconds, the noises have barely begun. Ooo air blowing on me. I really should have gone to the toilet before this. Damn it, I already have pins and needles in my foot. Totally should have persisted on the leg foam readjustments. Crap. I just moved. I wonder how big that leg twitch was. I hope I haven’t screwed up this whole thing. Damnit. “Dear God, help me stay calm and still.” Wow, this is taking a lot of concentration. Think of something else. Yes, good idea: brainstorm. Nothing to click or tap. Brainstorming was definitely a bad idea. Cannot make repetitive movements. Wow, I must actually be the most annoying person to be around. I cannot stay still. Dead arms. Need to move arm. Lost all feeling. I wonder if it’s okay to move my fingers. Your fingers aren’t even in the stupid tube, of course you can move your fingers. Since when were fingers connected to your hip bones. :: moves fingers :: Ah the relief. I still have fingers. Something else.  I need something else to block out the weird air blowing and mechanical beat making. Quick Mel, think of something. Pray. Brilliant, Mel. You slept in a missed your quiet time this morning. Praying is a great idea. Wait, why didn’t I think of this 2000+ bleeps ago. #guilty :: Prays assortment of prayers :: Okay surely this is going close to 30mins now. Beep #50081. Beep #50082 Beep #50083. :: Silence :: Oh my goodness, I reckon totally aced this. I wonder if it’s over. :: Silence :: :: Technician suddenly appears to remove the ear muffs. :: “You did very well staying still. We got great images.” I won! It’s over! Arrive home and shamelessly tell of my bravery non-moving accomplishment to my sister. Laura: “You do realise they take multiple images because people move.” 😳 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)
This year I put on five kilos. It doesn’t seem much but it’s difficult not to notice the jeans that used to gape at the back don’t anymore. The shorts I’ve worn for the past three summers are now awkwardly pulling across my hips. And the tight, short skirt I love but always think twice about wearing is sooo out of the picture right now. Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t happen all of a sudden. I knew the scales were showing a higher number each couple of weeks. It was a long and slow process piling on the kilos- a weekly one of rushed morning muffins and Friday blueberry bagels on the way to work. It was my Friday treat of Thai for lunch. It was my new reality of sitting for more than 10 hours a day. At the end of September I knew it was time to do something. I’m not a huge fan of fad diets, the latest being Paleo, but I knew I had to do something otherwise next year would just be another five. I looked into a few diets and just as I like to cook, I combined a few that worked for me. I haven’t cut out sugar or gluten or foods not eaten by my Paleolithic ancestors. I just cut down. For a month now I’ve eaten 1200 calories a day (give or take the odd day where I’ve blown out big time!) It’s hard. I’ve had to change almost every meal I eat: portions, types of food and frequency. It’s also great. In tracking exactly what goes in my body, I’m accountable for the bloating, the aches from ignoring my lactose-intolerant stomach and my conditioning to need sweet after every savoury. After a month, I know what calories are wasteful, I know what foods will stop my stomach from growling at my 11am meeting and I know what foods I can snack on to my hearts content. The daily nutritional report makes me think through recommended daily intake of vitamins and my consistent lack of iron. It’s going great. In cutting most store-bought processed foods and going back to basics, I’m sleeping better, I can concentrate longer and I’m losing some of the five kilos. In fact, two and a half kilos in four weeks. I read earlier this year in one of those classic click-bait articles 10 things you should get under control by the time your 30. One of them was healthy eating. I’m realising why – healthy eating has huge benefits. Alas, enough about weightloss, I’m actually keen to share my latest new favourite breakfast/lunch/dinner food – corn fritters. Their versatility is amazing. A bit of avocado on top is great for breakfast, broken up and in a salad at lunch, or served with a delicious salsa a great summer dinner. I tried one recipe a few weeks back, but today I decided to mix things up. Corn, zucchini and quinoa fritters with avocado, tomato and capsicum salsa Fritters: 1 can of cornThe kernels of 1 husk of fresh corn 1/2 of creamed corn 1 zucchini, grated 1/3 red capsicum, diced 1/4 cup raw = 1/2 cooked quinoa 1/4 cup milk (I used Lidell’s new hi calcium, low fat lactose free milk) 3/4 cup self-raising flour (would have used whole meal but didn’t have any) 2 eggs (I’ll probably scrap one of the yolks next time) 1 teaspoon ground cumin Fresh parsley Fresh spring onion Salt and pepper to taste Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Add extra milk or flour until the consistency is like a pancake. Lightly spray a fry pan with vegetable spray and cook at test fritter. Taste. Adjust any flavours or consistency. Cook the remainder. Makes 24 x 8cm fritters 101 calories per serve (2 fritters)   Salsa: 1.5 avocados, diced 1/2 tomato, diced 1/4 capsicum, diced 1/8 red onion, small dice Juice of half a lime Fresh coriander and parsley Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Done! Serves 4 68 calories per serve — It’s always amusing to see the end result of my cooking – and it’s not the food.   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)