Things I worried about when moving abroad

During my visit to LA last week (was that only a week ago??), Katherine and I were waiting to order breakfast at a favorite place and started talking to the guy behind us in line. What do you know, he had spent three years living in Australia and had lots to tell me about Sydney. He recommended a few coffee shops and, boom, here I am eating brekkie at one of them.

Single O Surry Hills

I didn’t really mean to order a whole breakfast situation, but I needed to kill some time while waiting for a store to open, and the other option was to order takeaway and stand at this curbside counter, which is also kind of cool and nice to have, but not for journaling.

Single O Surry Hills

Word-of-mouth is one of my favorite ways to find out cool places to visit in a new city. I also like reading posters and all the little signs on bulletin boards. Now Instagram is helpful too, if you know where to look. I like to read off-the-beaten-path lists and local’s guides, more than say a “Top 10 blah blah blah…” a.k.a. things you usually already know about or know will be crowded with tourists like you. I’ll peruse those, too, and do a little extra research of reading reviews and other websites to see if it’s worth my while.

Here’s a list of things I worried about when I decided to move to Australia, mainly because I might need to consult it later if I ever move anywhere else or if anyone ever asks! It’s more of what I was concerned about before leaving, not getting set up once I actually arrive—that’ll come later!

  • My car: I went back and forth about whether to keep or sell my car. Since I am only planning to be abroad for a year or less, and I’ve only had this car for about a year, it seemed to make more sense to keep it. I’m also able to store it in my mom’s garage, so that’s a huge plus. I knew the registration would be up for renewal, so I found out that California has a “planned non-operation” option (CA DMV) for $22.

  • Car insurance: I was planning to cancel my car insurance entirely while it would be in storage, but after talking to the insurance company (progressive.com), I decided to keep limited coverage for $20/month that would cover events like break-ins or weather damage and keep me from paying a fee to reinstate full coverage when I get back.

  • Health insurance: I expected Australia to be a utopia with free health coverage for everyone, including international travelers, but sadly that is not the case. They do have a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement with certain countries, but not the US. I purchased a travel health insurance plan with Allianz for $100/month. Not sure I’ll ever end up using it, and I’m sure some people would avoid the cost, but I guess it’s better to be safe than sorry.

  • An international phone number: Mike helped a lot with this one! Of course, I would need an Australian phone number and plan for jobs, banking, and general life here in Sydney, but I wanted to use my phone from home. I also wanted to make sure I wouldn’t miss any calls or texts if someone tried to contact my old number. Mike swooped in to the rescue with two guides to phone plans in Sydney (1 , 2) and I chose Vodafone, because that’s what he chose and I was too lazy to research further. He also sent me a link to Tossable Digits, a service to hold your old number and port any attempts to contact you from your old phone to your new phone. It’s been working well for me.

  • Money transfers: I came over with about 300 USD in cash in my wallet, which I haven’t used. I’ve been using my credit card (Chase Sapphire) for almost everything and also took out some ATM money using my US debit card. I won’t want to do that for much longer, especially when getting paid or paying rent, so I set up a bank account here, again with Mike’s help. After doing some of my own actual research, I’m using Transferwise to send money from my US bank to the new one here. It seems to take 2-4 days and hopefully will arrive in time before I need to make any security deposits.

    • *Oh yeah, if you’re wondering, I saved about $12,000 in preparation for this trip (including helpful gifts from friends and family. Thank you!) I’m sure it could be done with less, but I like taking myself out for breakfast and having a bit of a just-in-case cushion. The working holiday visa requires that you have $5,000 in the bank or a departure flight booked, but they didn’t check either of those things upon my arrival. Actually, I just did the electronic check-in and didn’t have to talk to anyone in customs—what a luxury.

  • Prescriptions: I don’t have much helpful advice on this one. I tried to see my doctor and dentist in LA before leaving. I stopped taking my birth control this summer, so that’s one I may have to figure out here. I ordered four boxes of new contacts, which was kind of hectic and last minute, so just a reminder to make sure to stock up on your valid ‘scripts and maybe bring an e-copy with you.

Sydney street art

Apart from what to pack, I think that about covers it. Did I miss anything?

Daily Practice

Today I sat at the park in ideal weather, surrounded by some type (or many types) of dog and owner meetup. I’m happy to say I’ve been doing a bit what I came here to do already. The drastic time change has made it easy to wake up for six am yoga practice. From Mike’s couch, I walk about five or ten minutes to the bus or train, ride a few stops over to the west side of the city, and wind through a nature trail to the yoga studio. I unroll my mat and take a trip back inwards after a summer of what had probably been my most scattered sessions since I started practicing yoga.

Ashtanga Yoga Moves Sydney

Some nights I’ve woken up at 2 or 3, hitting my head on the hanging light above when I get up to use the bathroom. The light is well-placed for the couch when it is a couch, but not for when it’s acting as a bed. Oh well, I’m extremely grateful for a landing pad with a good friend. And thanks to a combination of good fortune and melatonin, I’ve been able to fall back asleep for a few more hours.

Mike has a great apartment in a quiet but happening part of Sydney. It’s close to the train, walking distance from a park with a pool, and seems like one of the best places to live. The bedroom is separate from the living room/kitchen (ie. my room for now!), so hopefully for him that makes it easier to have a guest. There’s a lovely patio and some good plants, too.

Paddington Sydney

I’m a little homesick since I spent my last days having the best times with fun friends and family, and I feel like I was just getting used to having a job I loved and a social life at the beach when it was time to leave. But all the moving gives me hope that, with time, I can establish something good anywhere. However, it is a little disorienting that people walk, drive, ride escalators, and do everything on the left side here!

My first days have been spent walking, riding awesome modes of public transport to get to know the city, meditating and journaling in parks, drinking coffee at cafes, and writing cover letters. At night, Mike takes me out to eat and drink in different neighborhoods. We’ve had some delicious dinners— most notably at a vegan pay-what-you-can community hangout in one of the most hip locations—and some drinks at a quirky bar just down the road. Yoga and novelty are some of my favorite things, so life right now is looking pretty sweet from where I’m sitting.

First Steps: Sydney

When the plane wheels hit the ground in Sydney, I felt hesitant but hopeful. Jet-lagged and far from home, but trusting in the experiences that await me. I have to pinch myself a bit to believe that I’m really here. I dreamed up this whole adventure while packing to leave our Airbnb in Bondi Beach back in March. Some voice from somewhere seemed to say that I should come back. I imagined maybe I could drive cross-country, spend the summer in Jersey, and return to Sydney in the fall, but I almost shrugged it off as too crazy of a plan. When I bought my ticket, I even purchased the flight insurance, which I rarely ever do.

Rushcutters Bay Sydney

But everything since then has seemed to fall into place. My clothes and car are all at my mom’s house in NJ. I put my car insurance on hold for $20/month and took out a “planned non-operation” certificate so my vehicle could potentially stay registered in California next year. I have a place to stay with a dear friend for the first month. I didn’t have to use that flight insurance after all.

In spite of my middle seat, I slept for the first half of the flight here. Then the woman next to me asked if I wanted to switch to the window seat because she kept needing to get up. My streak of airplane seat luck continues! After watching a movie, I discovered a very timely book on my Kindle written by an Australian author. The Top Five Regrets of the Dying offers some of the exact messages I needed to hear and that I have faith will guide me in this whole process. As I settle in, I am reminded not to grasp and force frantically. The author shares the way she fell into composing music and caring for the elderly. Her story rings so familiar to me as she stepped away from a “good” job in banking to chart her own course. From feeling the joy of an afternoon alone beside a stream, to the exhaustion of overworking in service of others, her life stories really resonated with me. I had totally forgotten about the book’s place in my Kindle library, and yet it seemed to find me at just the right time.

Sydney Opera House

As the plane descended into a grey early spring day, I closed my eyes to stop and breathe. Let things unfold. Follow your heart. Don’t chase the money (ok, maybe chase it a little bit to find a job in under a month…) Don’t let the fear of running out of it guide your choices. I am eager to push something to unfold—I set up a bank account, got a new phone number, and sent a dozen applications on the first day—but after my in-flight reading, I am willing to try to be patient and see.

How I packed for a year in Australia

I am not the expert here, so I probably shouldn’t be writing this. But whenever I told anyone I was going to Australia for “up to a year”, that was the first thing they wanted to know. So, here’s what I brought:

How I packed for a year in Australia

I would say, overall, that I packed for this trip with reckless abandon. I don’t officially know how long I’ll be staying since I don’t have a job yet—a month? six months? a year? forever? I’m not planning on backpacking this time around, so I wanted to bring most of my life in order to stay in Sydney and live with it. Clothes weren’t too hard because it doesn’t get terribly cold here. Shoes were the hardest. I brought nine pairs.

I tried to limit myself to seven yoga pants, but I couldn’t. I like them all too much. I packed a couple versatile dresses for the wedding weekend and in case I get invited to any others, plus my sequined jumpsuit in case anyone wants me to come to a party. The green backpack has mostly exercise and casual clothes, plus my rain jacket. I stuck two pairs of sandals in the water bottle holders, and they almost fell out mid-flight, but they didn’t—whew! I slipped in a pouch of pens, highlighters, and pencils, just to have. I brought an alarm clock, two bars of fancy soap that I got from the Dutchess County Fair, a big contact solution and many pairs of contacts thanks to 1-800-Contacts filling my prescription last minute.

You can’t really see it, but under my jean jacket, there’s a canvas bag that holds my backpack, water bottle, and camera, which is really a great idea because you can fit almost three personal items for the price of one. I also have my traveling tripod, external hard drive, and microphone to hopefully make some yoga videos for you. In my backpack, there’s my laptop, iPad (that I use as a Kindle), two books, two planners (one for next year!), a fresh journal, chargers, and my work notebook. I squeezed in a reusable coffee mug because I try to care about the environment whenever I remember.

The patterned bag has my winter attire. I left it in LA at Katherine and Nath’s house so that I wouldn’t have to check three bags on the flight to LA. And I’d like to use it as a carry-on if I go on any international Asian adventures. I ditched my yoga mat and ukulele at the last minute with a few tears in my eyes, but I figured those would be easier to repurchase in Sydney than to carry on the plane with my other items. My mom is shipping a box with my wetsuit for surfing and, no, that is not a sarcastic joke; I am a real surfer!

I think that about covers it. I was tempted to try public transportation with one bag on the back, one on the shoulder, and two rolling in my hands, but Uber was just affordable enough not to have to. I’m safe and I’m here!

Oh hi, LA

After my mom and sister kindly dropped me off at JFK airport during the very early morning hours, it was time to begin the journey around the world. I landed at LAX with plenty of day in front of me. My friend Katherine had gotten out of work early, so we went to lunch at my favorite place to come home to (Homestate Tacos). It’s a little reminder of Austin right in my old neighborhood in LA. Sorry no taco photos; we were too busy eating them!

We caught up on some work in the afternoon and I got to settle into Katherine and Nath’s amaaazing new house! Then we tried a sweet little new place for dinner. It felt great to be back!

City Terrace LA

Our LA time was cut a bit short, because we had an epic wedding to attend! On Friday, Katherine and I got our nails done while eating bagels, naturally. We picked up Nath early from work and drove about two hours north to Ojai. Unfortunately, there was a bit of a raging fire in between, but we skirted around it and held our breath when the sky got smoky. Yikes!

Ojai Valley CA

The wedding zone was unaffected by the fire and smoke, lucky for us as we partied through the weekend, celebrating one of my favorite couples of all!

Caravan Outpost Ojai

Ojai is kind of like if Palm Springs had a cuter little sister that you don’t hear as much about. It offers picturesque mountain views and has a way of feeling totally remote from LA in spite of its proximity. The wedding venue was a secluded desert oasis with about ten retro-style airstream trailers for guests to stay in, which we sure did.

Caravan Outpost Ojai

It was the perfect spot to celebrate love, gather with friends, and partake in my last California hurrah (for now)! It’s nice to know so many people all over the country that make it so hard to leave.

Caravan Outpost Ojai
Caravan Outpost Ojai wedding

Before I knew it, it was time to drive back to the city and repack my bags (and eat some chicken and waffles) for the next, way longer flight!

New York, New York

I’m in the airport, getting ready to fly to Sydney… but first, let me tell you how I got here! Last week, sadly, it was time to say goodbye to the beach. I had such a fun summer here getting to know the island a little better, from an insider perspective this time. I felt very at home there, in a way I hadn’t felt in while. Everything felt so natural and easy, which I’m sure is common when you’re surrounded by people on vacation with few responsibilities, but it was a nice brief respite from living so far from home for years.

On the other hand, last week felt like the right time to make an exit. The skies turned cloudy and grey for the departure drive. It makes it a little easier to leave your island paradise on a rainy October day.

Baked on the Beach LBI

My mom and I stopped at the best bakery on our way out. We had to bring a little treat to my sister who insisted that we get up to New York as early as possible, just so we could eat again. We took the train from Queens into the city and had brunch at a trendy little bistro called Jack’s Wife Freda.

Jacks wife freda

We did a lot of shopping and bopping to stay out of the rain all day. I learned the many methods that NYC stores have to store your wet umbrellas while you browse. Eventually the rain let up so we could explore outside.

West village

For dinner, we went to the same place I’d gone to on my birthday back in April, The Butcher’s Daughter, except that was the LA version and this was the NY version. Both were excellent!

butchers daughter

Then it was finally time for the main event! We had tickets to see Hamilton, so we made our way over the 42nd street for the show. It was amazing and so unreal to be able to see it! I can’t recommend it enough, and it made for the perfect last night out in NY before my early flight to the west coast.

Hamilton the musical

F(ph)un in Philly

I’m trying to stay all caught up before I leave again, which happens tomorrow, so here we are. I went to Philadelphia over the weekend. I’m glad I could carve out some time to go visit, because I haven’t spent time in Philly since college. It’s somewhere I’ve been many times, but I still feel very curious about it. I love it a little more every time I go.

Magic Gardens Philly

I stayed with my friend Colleen who is also a yoga teacher, so we did some yoga and then a little more. Philly has some very excellent offerings in the yoga department, which almost made me want to stay longer, but I have a few planes to catch very soon!

Dhyana Yoga Philly

I scheduled a massage/myofascial release session with my friend Robina. Her bodywork is like nothing I’ve ever felt before, and I stood up off the table feeling totally realigned and like a brand new person. If you’re in the Philadelphia area, go see her—she’s a magician!

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Colleen was working on Friday, so I did a bit of touring around. I took myself to breakfast and went to the Magic Gardens, a groovy mosaic art installation that takes up three city lots.

Philly Magic Gardens
Philly magic gardens

It was a gorgeous day to be in a magical space in the middle of the city! I’m very pleased with the quality and quantity of side trips I’ve been able to make from the beach.

Boogie Down

I may have forgotten to mention the most surprising detail of our New York City trip last weekend—we ran ten miles!

NB Bronx 10 miler

I tried to back out of this one multiple times, because my foot had been bothering me and I didn’t have the proper time to train. But at the last minute, I was feeling good and not wanting to stand around while everyone else was running. I backed back in. I practiced my new strategy of run-walking, and it wasn’t bad at all… at least until mile 8, then we just dragged ourselves to the finish.

We were handsomely rewarded with this view of Yankee Stadium:

Yankee Stadium

And with the best brunch, which, let’s be real, is the only reason to do exercise anyway:

Sweet Chick LI City

Then I departed from my sister’s to drive across/through the city (very scary) to meet my longtime friend for her birthday celebration. Unfortunately, driving across/through the city takes much more time than I planned for, so I was a bit late, but they kindly made time to get a drink with me anyway. My first time in Hoboken!

Hoboken

On the ride back, I continued my Anthony Bourdain NJ food trail with a stop at Hiram’s Roadstand. They have deep fried chili cheese hotdogs, which is not really my thing food-wise but was delicious nonetheless.

Hirams Fort Lee

Back in Brooklyn

This past weekend, my sister was kind enough to host me again in NYC. I don’t know if she loves living there, since she’s not much of a city person, but I certainly love her living there for prime visitation privileges, not to mention having a lot of fun stuff to do nearby. Our dad and stepmom came down on Saturday and we headed into Brooklyn to play shuffleboard. Yeah, did you know shuffleboard is trendy again?

Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club

It’s so trendy that we showed up and registered, only to find that there would be a four hour wait to play. We couldn’t believe it would take that long, so we grabbed a drink and watched the countdown of numbers slowly pass by. We decided that we would definitely have enough time to venture outside to find dinner.

Gowanus Canal

And we did have time to have the most amazing dinner. I might need to become a vegetarian again when I fully devote myself to yoga in Sydney, but for now, this barbecue will have to do… along with this golfish mac & cheese and this most delicious cornbread of my life:

Pig Beach bbq

We ate in the outdoor bbq and beer garden until it was getting dark, and then by some stroke of luck still had room for ice cream afterwards.

Gowanus canal

And, what do ya know? After a couple rounds of 80’s-90’s trivia at the shuffleboard club, it was finally time for us to play! We shuffled our biscuits until late in the evening, then I tried not to fall asleep during the car ride home. It was a lovely sort-of-last hurrah in the city.

Royal Palms shuffleboard club

Local Summer

I’m feeling so glad for these warm September/October days, because these past few weeks have really been some of the highlights of my summer. Setting aside the fact that I worked every day of September except one—a Sunday, naturally—in the meantime, I was able to figure out that my surfboard fits into my car and ride a couple waves with friends.

Surf LBI

It’s been pretty sweet to have almost the whole beach to ourselves…

Surf LBI

Speaking of which, beach yoga ended for the season, but we wrapped it up nicely on a gorgeous day. You can already start to feel the terrain of the beach changing with the weather.

LBI Surf City

My mom and I spent a day at the Maker’s Fest in Manahawkin. It was a pretty big craft fair with yoga classes—you know I can’t resist— and live music, perfect for walking around this pretty lake. We ran into a few different groups of friends, which is usually my sign of officially living in a place and not feeling like a tourist, so that was nice. Just in time for me to depart and tuck into another unfamiliar corner of the world!

Makers Fest Manahawkin

And so, it’s October! It still feels like I have a bit more left to explore here, so I’m counting on my one week left to do just that.

Hi, I'm in Delaware

Since my mom is possibly one of the few regular readers of my blog, she addressed my last post and said that she was feeling sorry that I’m lonely at the beach. She wondered how I could say that I don’t have a social life when I have her. True, I am lucky to have her to hang out with and to accompany me on expeditions. And while having a mom is not the same as having friends, I did convince her to join me on a long, random Tuesday adventure upon which we had a lot of fun.

The length of the trip for one day may scare some people off, but it was all broken into two hour chunks, so it didn’t feel like too much to us. We started off with morning yoga class at Yoga Bohemia, then we set off for my old stomping grounds at the University of Delaware.

Newark Deli and Bagels

We started off with the best bagel place, which was so sadly closed the last time I passed through Newark. We brought them up to arguably the best coffee place and ate them on the deck. I felt only slightly old, but mostly wise and experienced as we walked around campus. Almost everything looked the same, except for the area of my freshman year dorms which has been drastically improved.

Delaware Circle

We took a tour of the houses I lived in—home of many good times and drunken endeavors. I remember one year after a blizzard when a four foot blanket of snow covered the street, and I lost my phone trotting from one house to another. Someone picked it up, put it in rice for me, and returned it a few days later! Oh the joys of pre-smart phone days. I reflected on the fact that I haven’t lived in single place for more than two years since 2006, so… that’s something.

Dogfish Head

Next, we drove all the way down Delaware (ie. not very far) for the true purpose of the trip, a visit to the Dogfish Head Brewery near Rehoboth Beach. I learned that Milton, DE is wonderfully cute with enviable Southern-style front porches and the charm of any New England town. I also learned that the steampunk treehouse at the brewery originally came from the Burning Man festival in Nevada. The owner bought it for $1 and had it shipped all the way across the U.S.!

Dogfish Head Brewery

We took the ferry from Lewes, DE to Cape May, NJ just in time for sunset. It was my first time taking my car on a ferry and will probably remain the best time ever, because we saw a group of dolphins diving in front of the boat! It was so surreal!

Cape May to Lewes ferry
Cape May to Lewes ferry

We grabbed ice cream at the alleged * best ice cream parlor in New Jersey * and who am I to argue with that title? We both had black raspberry with chocolate chips.

Springers homemade ice cream

Mom was full of treats and ready to end the adventure at that point, but you know me and you know I am usually jam-packing all of the activities into each and every day of this lifetime. So we added in a stop in Atlantic City at Dock’s Oyster House because I had found this article about Anthony Bourdain’s (R.I.P.) New Jersey food trail. Fun fact: the restaurant I’ve been working this summer is on the list. I’d love to hit some more while I’m in the area. The oysters were very delicious and the bartender was very friendly and yoga-knowledgable. A worthy pit-stop!

Docks Oyster House

We got back home late at night, and it was really a dream of a day! Remember, travel doesn’t have to be a big huge deal to give you an escape. You can create your own adventure wherever you are.

Beachy Brews

Although living in a beach town in September can be one of the best things, I must admit to you guys that living in a place where you don’t know anyone can become a bit draining to the spirit. I’m thankful that I like my main job, because it’s a bit strange to get out of work and know that you have nowhere else to go or anyone to meet.

I’ve been powering through the days, trying to grasp onto work-life balance. I realized last week that I haven’t had a whole day off since August 26th. But then someone at work said she hadn’t had a day off since May, and another guy said he’s been working seven day weeks for the past ten years. Good grief! Let us remember that life is not a contest to see who can work the most! However, I can happily say that I’ve met my financial goals for this pre-Australia summer of money making.

Manafirkin Brewing

It was nice to slow down for an afternoon when my sister came to visit. She’s a vet, and she only gets one day off at a time, but she was willing to drive down the night before to hang with us. We did some morning shopping, because what else are girls going to do when we get together for the day? After that, we took a little Manahawkin adventure off the island to the ManaFirkin Brewery. We brought our own soft pretzels, played a rousing game of Jenga, and I fell in love with the Oatmeal Coffee Stout. Hooray! Another point for New Jersey.

ManaFirkin Brewery

Unfortunately, Elayne had to head back up to NYC that night, but we slipped into the Hotel LBI to graze the rooftop and eat an early dinner. I was grateful for the visit.

Off the Reservation

Woo hoo! I went from being a girl who didn’t leave the island for two to three weeks to a girl who leaves every day. Since the summer traffic is gone, it takes me only 16 minutes to get to this yoga studio that I really like:

The Yoga Hive

And twenty minutes to go to the gym. Yup, you read that right. I’m back to the gym. I thought I could survive off yoga and some Pilates classes for the summer, but I really missed lifting weights and having access to all of the equipment. There’s something about working out in a gym around other people that makes me train harder. And I like making my own schedule, so it’s nice to have the flexibility to go at different times in the day. Most of the exercise classes on the island take place between 8 and 10 am, so if I can’t make those, I wouldn’t be able to go at all.

Bonus: I signed up for a one-month pass this week, and the manager gave me back $10 since I’ll only be here for three more weeks. Thank ya!

Tilton Fitness Manahawkin

Both of those places are in Manahawkin, NJ. It’s the nearest town right over the bridge, and I’m starting to quite like it. New Jersey as a whole has surprised me this summer, and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know it better. I’m learning that you don’t need to live in a big city to find awesome people, good yoga, or a juice bar. I’m not sure if it’s true for every town, but I think the stuff you’re looking often finds its way to you.

Happy Habits

Self-Care

If you’ve been reading along on this journey with me for a while, I’m sure you know I’ve usually been pretty good at taking care of myself. Even when I was working full-time in a place of stability, I always had the right combination of structure and flexibility to work from home, prep healthy meals, exercise, or make space for impromptu socializing. After becoming a traveling and/or part-time yoga teacher, the self-care opportunities were even more prevalent. I’ve grown accustomed to making my own schedule and taking advantage of all those free yoga classes that you get for being a teacher. Of course, there’s a fine line to toe when your passion is also your job. Sometimes teaching three or four classes a day feels like enough yoga for you—and it often is! Sometimes there isn’t any time to prep that meal, so you’re on your own with takeout options. Sometimes you over-schedule yourself and realize that your body is a machine that needs oiling just as much as any other.

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This summer, I’ve been pushing that tool to the max. I’ve wanted to work as much as I can to make sure that I can support a big move to another expensive city. Since most of my work is on my feet, I’m realizing that all the hours can take a toll on my feet, my back, and my neck and shoulders. Most nights I come home exhausted at 11:30 and take thirty minutes to wind down on my phone or with a book before I can fall asleep. Some nights I throw in some yoga stretches. Then it’s up early again to reach or work at the gym and I have only a couple hours free for lunch before going back to the restaurant. It’s been a big change from all those hours in LA spent sitting on my butt in traffic! Or when I was getting to take multiple yoga classes a day as part of my advanced teaching certification!

I’m still feeling lucky here. I get to take all the yoga and workout classes I want (and have time for), plus free adjustments from the chiropractor at the gym when he’s on duty. I can order veggies and protein from the restaurant, so it’s ok if I don’t have time to cook. And I’m living rent-free with mom. Hallelujah! Count your blessings!

Pangaea natural foods

But this week, as the tourist-season business dies off, I’ve finally had the opportunity to slow things down and repair my body. I left the island for the first time in weeks for a podiatrist appointment to work on a foot problem that’s been bugging me for three years. I got an impromptu massage which felt AMAZING. You know when you get a massage therapist who just intuitively knows which areas need attention and goes right for them? What a gift! Afterwards, I stopped by the natural foods store and picked up some treats I’ve never tried before and some old favorites.

Barnegat Lighthouse

On Tuesday, I got to work a little bit early and took a breezy walk around the lighthouse. I even saw a surprise pug, which is always a good omen in my book!

Over the weekend, I bought a foam surfboard from the end-of-season sale, and I’ve been pushing myself to get out and work on my “skills”. The first try on my own didn’t go so well, but I saw so many families of dolphins swimming by that it didn’t matter if I fell down in the waves. It still was a truly unbelievable morning on the water!

Surfing LBI

And I’m pretty sure that ice cream is allowed to be a part of any self-care practice. On Sunday, we slipped into the best place right before they shut their doors for the season.

Poppy's Ice cream

What are you doing to take care of your body and soul these days? It becomes especially important to check in and set intentions for our health as we prepare ourselves for the change of seasons. I’m thankful to have the space to do so.

Snippets of Summer

Wow, ok! How did we get this far into September already? It feels like yesterday was Labor Day Weekend, and then I blinked, and here we are in, what, mid-September?? This whole summer has felt that way, but I’ve certainly been enjoying it when and where I can. To be honest, there have been many more full work days than I was expecting in my seaside summer—I’m working at a restaurant, teaching yoga, cleaning and manning the desk at a Pilates studio, and continuing my online writing job—but the steady flow of hours has been a solid way to fill my bank account with funds for upcoming adventures in Australia.

Pyour Core LBI

In between the working hours, I’ve managed to spend a few fun family weekends with cousins down here at the shore and my dad and sister back at home. When my cousins were down for their annual family vacation, we had a girls’ day and got our nails done, shopped a little, and grabbed a drink at the new beer garden on the water. We went out to Nardi’s bar for my first time— Nardi’s has a reputation for its pink party buses and for being a wild time—and I would say it lived up to its reputation!

Cousins

At home, we celebrated my dad’s birthday and took a day trip to the Dutchess County Fair, which was always one of my favorite summer events growing up. It’s been so good to have this time a little closer to home after being in Texas and California for the past six years!

Too Old to Die Young

In any free moment, I’ve been hitting the beach, watching incredible sunsets, and enjoying this magical setting. Even when the weather gets dreary, there’s something beautiful about watching a storm roll in over the ocean. I love seeing the changing weather in different parts of the island!

LBI storm
LBI marina

I caught the last of the outdoor summer concert series that they’d been holding at Bayview Park, right outside the restaurant where I work.

Bayview Park concert

And then it was time to wind down… Everything in LBI slows way down after Labor Day, much like in any beach town. I’m grateful that my jobs are keeping me busy and paid in the off-season. Even so, once the summer season came to a close, it finally feels like we can breathe again. Weekday beach yoga came to a close with a fun private session that I taught to our friend Mary and her family members. I have a new September schedule at Yoga Bohemia.

  • Monday 9:30-10:45am Refine & Flow

  • Saturday 10:30-11:45 Yin Flow

Most mornings were nicer than this one, I promise!

Most mornings were nicer than this one, I promise!

I’m feeling busy but happy. I can’t believe I’m only one month away from my departure. I’m hoping for a couple full days off so I can get some more east coast adventures in! Hope you’re filling your summer with the stuff that makes you sing.

Dog Days

Just over a week ago, I ran a race! I used to run a lot. I’ve run a few half marathons and even a full marathon in Disney World back in 2012. Whoa! Even thinking about running that far now hurts my legs. I’ve been keeping to shorter distances lately; 2-3 mile jogs just to be outside and stay in shape. But for some reason, this summer, I started wanting to run longer distances again. It might be the atmosphere of LBI. People are outside at all hours of the day walking, running, and biking. The island is completely flat, and it makes you feel like you might enjoy exercising, too! I thought about doing the full 18-mile race that runs the whole span of Long Beach Island, but unfortunately it takes place right after I leave for Australia. Instead, I saw posters for the Dog Day Race, a much gentler 5-mile fun run that happens in the dead center of the steamy month of August.

LBI Dog Day Run

I guess most people probably don’t need to train all that much to run five miles, but I felt like I did. And while I was looking for a manageable training schedule, I came across a plan for training called the Galloway Method. I really loved long distance running, because of what it does for my mental state and because it’s my favorite way to see a city, but somewhere around the 10-12 mile training run, I would always get hurt. When race day finally arrive, my knee or hip would be struggling, and I never fully felt my best.

For the Dog Day run, I decided to try out Jeff Galloway’s run-walk method. Since I run about 9 minute miles in short distances, the method suggests that I run for four minutes and then walk for one minute—the amount you run in between depends on your mile time. I was hesitant to try it. I always beat myself up if I have to stop and walk, or I feel like I can’t count it as a full run. Jeff disagrees. He says that walking for a minute won’t set your time back much at all; in fact, most people are able to improve their times using a run-walk approach. The method also claims to prevent injuries. That was what convinced me to try it. I have to be on my feet a lot for my jobs down here, and I want to keep running, so I didn’t want to get hurt.

The day of the race was insanely hot! I wondered why they decided to start at 9:30am instead of earlier. I wondered why there weren’t more people passing out from heat exhaustion around me. I set up my new Bluetooth headphones that my friend gifted to me and set off on my run-walk. I was feeling pretty good considering the heat. I felt kind of silly stopping after four minutes for my first walk break, but the recipe says to start it from the very beginning, before you get tired. I could tell it was working. While I was walking, other runners would pass me, and then I would catch up to them or pass them on the next time segment. Of course, I’m never expecting to win any races, but I’m still competitive and like to do well compared to my past times.

When we came to the final mile, I was exhausted and happy to have friendly neighbors who set up sprinklers and hoses in their yards to cool us down. [Note to self to serve as a race volunteer someday!] I think if I hadn’t been doing a run-walk method, I would’ve ran over ten minute miles or decided to stop and walk altogether. I was hotter than ever, but I saw the lights from the firehouse finish line and gave it the final push. I was stoked to see that the timer was under 50 minutes.

IMG_6732 (1).jpg

I declined any of the post-race hot dogs, but treated myself to some watermelon and loads of H2O. As I walked back to my bike to ride home, I was reminded of one of my favorite Tim Ferriss Show podcast episodes when Derek Sivers talks about how he would always take the same bike ride to work every day and would really push himself, ignore his surroundings, and gas it as fast as possible. Then one day, he decides to slow down, take in the scenery, and enjoy the ride. He winds up making it to work in the exact same amount of time, with a much more leisurely spirit.

I’ll be thinking about that on my future runs and whenever I try to rush from one point in life to the next. Wishing you the most enjoyment in your journey, too.

Summer Water

Spending summer on the east coast means I get to take advantage of being much closer to friends and family than I have in the past five years. It means multiple trips to NYC to visit my sister—she lives in Queens! And last week, my cousins were in LBI to add to the fun. Life has been feeling pretty abundant for the past few weeks. There really is something to having a close, familiar community around you, without having everything be so new all the time. I’ll keep that in mind when I’m cuddling koalas and feeling homesick in Sydney this fall (spring?).

Queens NY

During our first visit, we ate ice cream and watched the live-action Lion King. And I was like, “I drove all the way to NYC just to watch The Lion King?” But, you know, sister time is valuable. The second visit was a little more extra special. We went to yoga in Astoria:

Yoga Agora Astoria

And then, to the Rose Mansion.

Rose Mansion

What in the world is the Rose Mansion? You might be wondering. Well, it’s like a wine tasting mixed with one of those new pop-up Instagrammable art museums. I feared it would be silly and tacky with long lines to take photos, and it had a little of that, but actually it was semi-educational and very fun!

Rose Mansion

Each room had a different part-of-the-world theme and a presenter to teach us about pink wines from that region. We took a lot of photos, learned a little about rose, drank a little more of the rose, and played dress up. Are there better ways to spend a sisters’ day in NYC? I think not, but feel free to send ‘em to me!

Rose Mansion

We had postponed our brunch til later in the afternoon, but we got to stop at one of Elayne’s favorites which happens to be Aussie themed (Citizens). We walked along the water until it was time for her to catch a ride out of Manhattan and for me to meet my friend for teeny tiny tacos and happy hour (Taco Dumbo).

My friend Mike—he lives in Sydney—was playing a show on the Lower East Side, and I remembered that Liz lives only minutes from there. So we all met up for the show, but a night in NYC does not end there… It ends, appropriately, at the House of Yes at 4 in the morning. Or maybe at a bodega deli with the best Italian sub. And it leaves you with a pounding head for the drive home the next day.

Beach Days

Wow! Hi! It’s been over a month since we (I) have been at the beach in LBI, NJ. Can you believe it? We (I) can’t! What have we been doing while here, maybe you are wondering? Well, we have been…

  • Watching some incredible sunsets over the bay

LBI sunset
  • Working… a lot! At a yoga studio (first and foremost), and a Pilates studio, on the internet, and at a restaurant. We are really filling up the days.

Yoga Bohemia LBI
  • Actually going to the beach. To watch some surf competitions, no less. But not actually surfing yet, which is something that needs to be rectified in the coming weeks now that I’ve been sufficiently inspired.

Jetty Coquina Jam 2019
  • Making art, sporadically, as usual. I usually like the things I paint, and then I celebrate by not painting anything for the next six months or so. Consistency is key.

Firefly Gallery LBI
  • Enjoying the outdoors. I played beach volleyball for the first time since the year before leaving Austin, so it’s probably been about 2-3 years since then. It shows! I also ran a five mile race last weekend! (I’ll tell you more about it soon.) Here’s the view I get to see at the end of every run:

LBI bay view

We’ve got a month left of summer here in the states! Soak it in, soak it in.

Best Friends at the Beach

My first week at the beach was a big one. There was hardly time to rest and recharge. My friend Annie and her husband were in town, and I was eager to meet their new baby. She’s a good one! She doesn’t even mind being wrapped up and taken to breakfast for pancakes.

baby

I started teaching beach yoga for an amazing studio that I’m honored to work for. And I got a waitressing job down the street—I’m still in training! My friends Brittany and Tom were also down at the same beach with their new baby—I forgot to take any pics of him, sadly!— so there was a lot of meeting and greeting to do.

And then there was the visit I had arranged my summer plans around. My friend Brianne was home from Argentina! I always try to get over to the east coast when she’s in town (just like last winter) , and this time she made it down to the beach to spend a couple of days with us. We sunned our buns and tried out the new local beer garden. She came to beach yoga, too!

Yoga Bohemia beach yoga

That wasn’t all! Over the next weekend, I attended my first baby shower, because my friend Amanda from back home in New York is pregnant. My mom drove us all the way up and back in one day. We colored and played games, and it was more fun than I expected baby showers to be. I also got to pop into my dad’s house to say a quick hello. It’s nice to be within a few hours of home!

baby shower

The Last Day!

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… Sike! After eleven days of driving almost all day every day, it was pretty much only the best of times. Once I’d left Richmond, I was feeling pumped about being out of the car for good later that evening. But first, I had to make a quick stop through what was once my home for six years: The University of Delaware, which is, regrettably, no longer the number one party school in the nation, but hey, don’t look at me. I went there for the pretty brick buildings and study abroad program.

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I met my friend Jesse for what was supposed to be a bagel lunch, but I’d forgotten that college towns are different when the students leave, and our plans were foiled by the dreaded sign on the door revealing summer hours. Not a huge problem, BrewHaha is and always has been here for us. It was nice to catch up with Jesse, another regular friend turned yogi friend!

Then, no more stopping, there were two-ish hours to go and it was time to finish this whole thing. My sister and her boyfriend were down at the beach for the weekend, so we all met up for an early dinner at one of our favorite LBI restaurants (Parker’s Garage). Back at the house, everyone helped me unpack my stuff and leave it in the living room like this for days:

Unpacking

Because why even bother having kids if you don’t want them to keep messing up your house and living arrangements for years upon years? There were better beach things to do that night! Like play mini-golf and eat soft ice cream (twist on a cone with rainbow sprinkles, duh). I had arrived!

LBI sunset