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)
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)