Saturday, January 29, 2011

When it is not so novel

To put it mildly, I have been incredibly lucky in my life to travel . . . a lot. Each new city / place is an opportunity to see the world in an entirely new way. On my other blog, I have been looking at how these experiences can help us overcome some of our deep-seated patterns in life, those patterns that drive our actions unconsciously (here and here). But there always comes a point where the novelty of something new becomes second nature. I remember my first day as a camp counselor for the YMCA when my supervisor had to give me explicit directions to the site, and almost two years later reflecting on how getting there had become completely unconscious. It was one of the first times in my life that I saw that happen.

So, here I am in New Zealand. I'm learning to look right before crossing the street and using the map less and less. The buildings look familiar, and even the trees and ocean are becoming just part of the landscape. Anyone who knows me well (or reads my facebook page) knows that trees are one of the most healing aspects of the planet for me, so it is odd that I am not obsessed with them anymore. But that is life.

Our brains must be our filters. There is simply too much information going on around us, and if we noticed all of it, we would go crazy (of course, meditation helps us notice more without going crazy, but that is for the other blog). But something else happens when the excitement becomes common place - loneliness. When everything is new, there is never time for me to be lonely. I am just constantly excited to see what comes next. But as that wears off, and other aspects of the quotidien re-emerge, the loneliness begins to kick in.

This has been an odd sort of "holiday." I have spent some of my time being a complete tourist, taking in the sites, going on a Lord of the Rings tour and visiting botanical gardens and taking walking tours, and I have spent some of my time meeting with professors, meeting a judge's law clerk, hanging out at the Fulbright office, getting a bank account / cell phone, and even doing a presentation at a conference in Sedona (by skype).

But amidst it all, I am still content. There are moments of loneliness, moments of excitement, moments of fascination, and moments where I remember why I am here. In just over a week, I have met some amazingly warm people, seen some of the most beautiful landscape of my life, and presented at a conference by skype. This last week has been unlike any before, and I love how all aspects of my life are coming together. It is said that if you find something you love, you will never work a day in your life. This experience of blending is the closest I have ever come to that.

Interestingly, I started this post thinking that I was going to talk about how lonely I am, but upon reflection, I continue to see how lucky and content I am. (I also must add that people walk barefoot here - in the city!) Thus, when life is not so novel, we can learn to find the daily gems, the daily experiences that make us happy. It is nice to have a rainforest to remind us once in awhile, but everyday is a gift, and each moment can be full of the excitement we bring to the novelist of experiences.

On that note, I'm driving on the left side of the road tomorrow. Yikes! Cross your fingers.

And here are some of my favorite photos so far. Thanks for reading!

Namaste and Blessings!

This is the Anglican Church in Dunedin, which is funny because the city was settled by Presbyterians, but this Church is in the main square. It is gorgeous.

This is a view of Wellington from Mt. Victoria. I love the shadows the clouds made over the hills. And yes, that is the Pacific ocean out there. I also would like to mention that I hiked to the top of this "hill." I am not in as good of shape as I thought. :)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

What a Difference a Week Makes

A week ago, I landed in Dunedin, New Zealand, a small town on the south island. The only thing I knew about the town was that it is student central, and it is colder in its summer than Phoenix is in its winter. In other words, it is warmer today in Phoenix than in Dunedin.

On top of all of that, for months I have been “in transition.” My full-time job at the Court of Appeals ended in August, and I have been doing contract work, teaching yoga, traveling, etc. I have been unsettled for months. That made leaving the US and coming to a foreign country, albeit one where they speak English, more difficult than I had imagined it would be.

But then I arrived.

From the moment a kind woman picked me up at the airport, I have felt great. She took me to the home of the woman who had graciously offered to host me for four days, and then she drove me all over the city, so I could have a full perspective of everything (and she took me to the bank to set up an account). The next two days, I went to a Farmer’s Market (and if you know me at all, you know how much that means to me), and this kind woman with whom I was staying walked all over town, showing me the university, the town, and orienting me to everything.

Then I met my professor, and immediately I felt a sense of purpose once again in my life. I have direction, and I know that my work is going to make me happy. The excitement I felt just having some idea what I would be doing is beyond words, and I’m so excited to get going. I also met a new friend in Dunedin, who is interested in yoga and meditation. What luck!

And now I’m back in travel mode. I’m currently in Wellington, and yesterday I took a Lord of the Rings Tour. It was a blast. I was the only person on the tour, and I would have switched it to today, but I have a meeting with a judge’s law clerk and I am getting together with another Fulbrighter, so we can plan the rest of our trip until orientation.

A week ago, I was scared to death of living with a host family. Now I know that not only did she let me stay an extra night, but she has offered to let me stay for three weeks when I return to Dunedin before I come back to Wellington for two months (I met the professor here as well). There is so much to say; I have learned to look right before crossing the street, seen the sun rise over the Pacific ocean, walked through two botanical gardens, a forest, and even a rainforest, and I have met with some  incredibly wonderful people. 

I’m still unsettled, and I may be for quite awhile, but I feel content. I am glad to be here and glad to be able to see how I have changed since the last time I have traveled abroad. I could go on forever about that but not right now. After all, there will be many more posts. 

Finally, the photos are on facebook, and I am going to try to upload them elsewhere. I promise to do that as soon as I have internet that is not at McDonald’s (no, I am not eating here).

Thanks for reading. I cannot tell you how much the comments, emails, “likes,” etc. mean to me. Much love to all of you.

Namaste and Blessings! 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Setting Out

Welcome to the blog for my adventures in New Zealand. Why Kia Ora From Tomorrow do you ask? Well, kia ora is the Maori language greeting, and from what I have been told, commonly used by New Zealand English speakers. "From tomorrow" is because New Zealand is one day ahead of the United States, where most of my friends and family are, and it is actually one of the first places in the world to greet the new day. (The idea came from two friends who do not know each other, so thank you, ladies, I appreciate the help, from opposite sides of the country!)

I leave today at 7:45pm California time. I cannot believe the day has finally arrived. At a conference in New Orleans in May 2009, I told the principal family law judge in New Zealand that one day I would study in his country, and one thing led to another, and by October of that year, I had applied for a Fulbright, and in May 2010, I was accepted, and today I leave. A long journey it has been, but I am excited to begin this path of my life.

What am I doing do you ask? Well, I explained it all here. But for a quick rundown, if you do not want to click through the link, I am studying the New Zealand system for children's representation in courts. I will be mostly based in Dunedin, which is a small town on the south island, but I will also be spending some time in Wellington - probably 2-3 months.

I do not know what my living situation will be, but hopefully I will soon. Almost immediately upon my arrival in Dunedin, I will be taking off to Wellington, then up to Auckland, meeting up with other Fulbright people, and we will be traveling. This blog will be full of photos, adventures, etc. This is a big step for me; I have lived alone for over 5 years, and the last time I traveled with people was in 2005, and I have a feeling I will be sharing a house and traveling with people I do not know a lot over the next year. It will be an adventure.

(Also, you may notice that the profile is still linked to my other blog, from Is Yoga Legal, but this blog is not going to be about the law and yoga and how they relate, unless there are times when I cross-post. This blog is purely for fun and going to be about the interesting things that happen in New Zealand.)

Thanks for reading, and see you from tomorrow!