February’s Endings

As the second month of the year draws to a close, it feels unusually overdue. Time has been moving quite slowly in my world, due mostly to my recent hermiting tendencies and self-focus.
I’ve been living off Portal for the last month, house sitting a friends apartment and the calendar tends to flip slower when I’m not on the water. It’s part of the ‘deal’ Charlie and I have had to work on – how to divide our one tangible joint asset: the boat. As any ending relationship is, it has been a difficult and emotional process. I owe you, my community, for the heartfelt support and non-judgement you have offered us. If I haven’t personally said it yet, Thank You.
We have finally settled on a deal – he has Portal to himself for February, I move back in, alone, in March and buy out his share of her value. We now both feel significantly better and some of the tense frustrations have dissipated.
I also started a pretty hectic, time-demanding job at the start of the year, workshop manager at Reid Cycles. It has been challenging but rewarding and despite working massive hours, I’m glad to be playing with bikes again.
You know how they say don’t make more than one big life change at a time? Home, Work, Love. Oops.
I’m accustomed to change though and the obvious truth is, it sits well with me. My reaction has been to take a time-out for myself, focusing on meditation, health and diet. It’s liberating to be sleeping 8 uninterrupted hours a night, to be filling my body with green smoothies and veggie/raw-rich meals, to spend my precious free-time cycling around my city or going to the cinema alone or shopping and cafe hopping, a good book always at hand. A part of myself that had been long neglected is developing again, and yes that’s partly due to a change in my love life, but it also has a lot to do with being back in my ‘hometown’, in a challenging new job, and for the first time in a long time, not thinking about boats or projects or travel plans (much).
After two months of lone-living though, I’m starting to emerge again, make more plans with friends, stay out past 10 occasionally and even consider inviting others to join me at the movies! Sometimes I worry this will get harder again, but maybe it’s all been too hard for too long, and maybe all (at least most) of the tears have fallen. Maybe it’s time to just let love flow it’s flow, to sit in fields of green grass, sun on my face, smile on my lips, and just say “be here now”.

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What I havn’t told you

Why do I write this blog?

Is it to simply share my travel experiences? To inspire, to encourage, to reflect? To give a voyeur-view into my life, as a young woman on the road? Or maybe just to self-indulge? I always said it was a platform for me to practice my writing, to keep me writing. And to share in this human-experience, to explore ‘the meaning of life’ together, as part of a community, all searching relentlessly for answers to questions or questions to answers.

I believe strongly in the value of transparency, of openness, so that we might all learn more, grow faster and understand one another better. I write because it’s a way to share life, to connect with people both known and unknown and explore ideas as part of the bigger picture.

But it’s not always easy. Sometimes I find myself slipping into the tedium of “I went here, I did this”, or glossing over my experiences so they all sound like passionate, fulfilling adventures. And when I am living my dream (to sail my own boat across the Pacific) it’s all too easy to leave out the rawness of it, the tears and grit that are inevitably involved in risking yourself while following your heart.

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Charlie and I have always questioned the institution of marriage, challenged the assumptions made by society, by couples in love. It’s why we had a commitment ceremony and not a wedding, it’s why we tried open relationships, it’s why we’ve travelled apart for months at a time and it’s why now, after 5 years of being together, we’ve decided to separate.

I shared very little of our slowly disconnecting relationship, even with closest family and friends. I felt embarrassed at our failure to make it work, felt other people’s disappointment, those who love us both dearly and think of us as a team, felt that so soon after our heartfelt and powerful Union Ceremony, we should be doing better.

But then we sailed into Brisbane, and the time came to share our lives with others. It came as a shock to most, as it might to readers of this blog, because (through my own fault) what they didn’t see was the fighting, the misunderstandings, and the differences we found in each other. Our relationship has always been a balancing act, a hard won passionate battle of communication and empathy – always talking, working or moving our way through big impossible issues. We haven’t made it easy on ourselves, and maybe this is just what happens when you live through so much together in such a short time. I don’t know. Thankfully, what Charlie and I do know, is that we don’t want to go on with the struggle – we need to go our separate ways, to follow our dreams in different directions.

What I feel in my heart is that we are no longer meant for each other. We have growing opposing opinions about some fundamental philosophies, and despite still loving Charlie as the beautiful man he is, I recognize that’s not the man that helps me be the best woman I can be. Our vows to each other were clear: we would make our independent selves our first priority, always love the other, and live life together as a team so long as our happiness benefited.

Our roads have forked, our lives are separating, but we have stayed true to that commitment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas With Family

It’s been 6 years since my sister Ella and I had Christmas together with Mum and Peter. When I wasn’t biking or sailing, she was in Spain, so the years have ticked by without a ‘full’ family. We are now all gathered in Sydney, Ella and Daniel’s home, enjoying the traditional celebrations and each others company at last.

Joining us this year for our Danish eve dinner were our friends Jess and Duncan (of “Alliance”) and Jess’ Dad, Jeff. It was a ton of fun, and we are all still recovering!

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The bike gang sets out from Newcastle

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75kms later, we rest in Wyong, waiting for the train to Sydney

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We’re not alcoholics – we’re pirates!

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Ella and I in the kitchen

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Jess and Duncan join our family!

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As does Jeff, Jess’ Dad.

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The “Head Monkey Bear” and the youngest Monkey Bear gather around the tree

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It’s Danish tradition that lets the youngest take charge of the presents – thankfully, i’m always the youngest!

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Ella and Daniel getting excited

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Jess gets a Cornish-pirate dvd!

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The anticipation…

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We love our bikes!

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Duncan getting into his new cookbook

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Charlie better get brewing!

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Mum unwraps her humungous present – a Moroccan tagine!

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Charlie and Duncan fight it out at backgammon

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Peter and Susan (mum)

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Gather round the christmas table..

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Ella and I practice the ‘squinge’ (a supposedly ‘seductive’ photo-face Daniel has been teaching us!)

Dad Turns 80!

                                                                     DSCF1247This weekend was my father’s 80th birthday. 80 years! Wow! And he hasn’t wasted a single second of it – as the dozens of friends and family who came to his party could attest to. He’s got the stories to back it up, and we spent a wonderful weekend laughing, eating and drinking with fun people from near and far. Thank you all for making such an effort to join us, I feel privileged to meet or reacquaint with so many interesting, lovely people! Huge thanks to Mum and Peter for their place at Boonah, the perfect setting. And to the whole family for all your input and creativity – what a wonderful celebration!

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Mum, Ella and Dani make all the delicious food, as usual!DSCF1238DSCF1230

Lily, Carolyn, Ricky and Charlie get down on the decorations!

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Air Tropicana flight attendants:

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Ella MC’s, then Suzie (eldest daughter) gives a speech: DSCF1365 DSCF1367 DSCF1371My turn (youngest daughter)… unsuccessfully holding back the tears:

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“Just last night, Rosemary was telling the story of the time Dad, landing in Emerald one early morning, had to rouse the sleepy-eyed traffic controller. Upon Dad introducing himself, the young man immediately grabbed his hand and shook it furiously, saying “You’re a legend!”

 That pretty much captures how I feel about you Dad – and I know i’m in good company. Your ability to make anyone feel welcome, to always get a laugh, and to look at life with optimism and adventure. The way you so humbly impart your vast knowledge, and always take interest in helping if you can. Your hard to ruffle nature, and the many many varied crazy and dangerous expeditions you’ve done in your 80 years on earth – That’s what makes you a legend, and the legacy you continue to create in every community, is why I’m so proud to be a Keith Barlow daughter.”

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Bob Wylie gives us all the giggles as he pulls out the Vanuatu Custom outfits:

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Mum read’s Peter’s wonderful invitation poem and says a few words:

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Then Dad gives us the giggles again:

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Dad cuts the amazing Airplane cake (courtesy Ella):

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And finally, an amazing summer hail storm, seen from the (relative) comfort of the deck:

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