Kicking goals

My first life goal was to travel to every country in the world. But when my dad’s friend told me he was fifty and not even close, I thought that this goal may be impossible.

When it was time to choose a job, I felt like there were too many options and failed to choose definitively as a result. I started in print production, tried architectural visualisation, was an Executive Assistant and dabbled in PR before I fell into events.

I am not one for career goal setting. My most hated question is still “where do you see yourself in five years?” I am more of a doer than a manager and never aspire to manage anyone except myself.

I once read an Anthony Robbins book about excelling and goal setting- visualisation and making a plan. Some of what he said made sense and I pictured myself as a travel writer working for the Lonely Planet and living in San Francisco with my pet Labrador.

Mr. Robbins said anything was possible, but maybe he wasn’t thinking about the difficulty of getting a green card at the time. I also consider myself a realist, so found it pretty improbable that everyone in the world can be successful as he claimed.

My parents weren’t career people either. They worked to live which meant a house and enough money for the next holiday. As a result I have no pressure to earn money and many great travelling memories.

It didn’t occur to be ambitious, plan to own property or get married. I am not much of a consumer either. I don’t buy designer handbags or keep up with fashion. I never really think further than booking the next trip overseas.

I heard someone say the other day that if you have low expectations, they are fulfilled- so perhaps that’s why I am content. I don’t feel the struggle to reach goals in work or life or to have things.

Popular culture teaches us that we should pursue our goals to the expenses of all others, stepping on anyone or anything that gets in our way. We have to sacrifice everything for our ultimate goal and make ourselves heard.

My ultimate goal is to be a columnist, publish a book and continue travelling the world. But are these goals realistic? And if so, what am I doing with a day job? Should I be putting all my skills and resources into travelling and writing this blog, in the hope that someone will love my travel writing and want me to be a columnist or publish a book, ignoring the fact that I still need to earn money to survive?

I guess what I am getting at, is trying to find the happy medium between making your goals happen and living in the real world.

Let me know when you have the answer ok?

Related posts: USA, 1990, Top 5 Wildlife to Spot in California, I first started traveling, The Seven Year Itch, By special request, TV Replays and Movie Marathons, All Creatures Great and Small, Relationships: My five (per)cents worth, I first started writing

Canada, 1997

When my parents gave me a round the world ticket instead of a uni application after school- my first stop was Canada to visit my uncle, aunt and cousins. My cousin Jay had just spent the summer in Australia surfing around the country with his best friend Geoff. We were the same age so it was very easy to mix into each other’s social groups.

I flew in from 35 degree weather in Australia and was driven straight to Big White, Kelowna for a family skiing trip. Why not Whistler? Because Big White’s better, I was told. Having never seen snow before, I was overwhelmed by huge snow banks taller than cars on the side of the road and snow on the fir trees just like I had seen in the movies. I learnt about snow angels and drinking hot toddies.

As I had never skied before it was my cousin Jay’s task to teach me. I was dressed in my aunt’s old and unfashionable full body aqua ski suit, clutching onto Jay’s ski poles as he dragged me down the green run whilst I snow ploughed. It must have been a very amusing site for the toddlers whizzing by who could all ski before they could walk, as most Canadians can.

Back in Richmond, I was sleeping under the pool table this time. Holly the Dalmatian had been replaced by Rover the vicious tabby cat who brought me birds and mice for breakfast. The pool room also doubled as the band practice room for “Public House”. Jay played drums, Geoff played violin, Wayne was on vocals and Chris on guitar.

I became friends with some of the girls, Jeanette, Kim and Dana. We went drinking at “The Keg” and had a bonfire party at the dyke. One day, we went to the beach and a field full of sunflowers.

Revisiting the killer whales at Vancouver Aquarium and the totem poles in Stanley Park was a hi light. I went to Prospect Point with its iconic view over the green Lions Gate Bridge to West Vancouver.

I went driving around town with my cousin Kate who had just gotten her driver’s license. We cruised to Dairy Queen or Tim Horton’s with pop music blaring and a couple of her friends in the back seat. We drove to the family’s holiday land at White Rock and visited the pier.

My cousin Glen introduced me to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, which I didn’t like; and Maple Walnut ice cream, which I loved. We flew kites in Stevenson and went to Granville Island.

Glen was training to be a pilot and was getting his flying hours up with small plane trips from Boundary Bay Airport. He took me on a flight to the Gulf Islands. We flew over Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island and saw the point where the Fraser River meets the Strait of Georgia. We had a bird’s eye view of Madeira Park Peninsula at Pender Harbour, Capilano River and the house in Richmond.

Related posts: Canada, 1990, Travel rememberings, The Seven Year Itch, TV replays and Movie marathons, Friendship: Great Expectations?

What’s your handicap?

As the whole world goes soccer mad, I thought it would be timely to address my handicap- sports.

I am about the least sporty person I know and in a country that is obsessed with sport, this can sometimes be a problem.

At school, I was horrified that sports afternoons and carnival days were mandatory. I am very uncoordinated, look funny when I run and never did learn how to catch a ball.

We never watched sport either live or on the television at home- unless you count the cricket matches my mum sneakily watched while dad and I were asleep.

Even now, I couldn’t tell you what the difference between rugby league and rugby union is, even though it has been explained to me many times.

When the Olympics were on in Sydney in the year 2000, I did get caught up in the PR spin and may have an Olly the kookaburra and a Sid the platypus lying around somewhere.

My bestie roped me into playing social soccer and even touch football as only a bestie can. Social being the operative word as I don’t think I ever scored a point in either game.

I have been to some sort of football match in Canberra where there was a mascot of a horse, but I’m not really sure who was playing as my friend and I talked through the entire game.

I have also been on a weekend trip to Melbourne with friends to watch the tennis. Melbourne and friends being the draw card in that scenario, not the tennis.

My husband loves watching games of anything and has tried over the years to gain my enthusiasm for all things sports. While I admit that some facts have gotten in by osmosis and I can on occasion appear to know what I am talking about, I still don’t really know what is going on most of the time.

The only time I have really gotten into the swing of things, was when I was at university and the World Cup soccer was on. I have to say, that Sydney did the World Cup well that year. There were big screens everywhere in all the large public places with parties going every night and the atmosphere was amazing.

So enjoy, sports mad people! I realise I am in the minority, but you can find me tucked up in bed with a good book instead.

Related posts: The Seven Year Itch, By Special Request, Friendship: Great Expectations?, Home is where you make it, I first started writing

Sri Lanka and Malaysia, 1994

In 1994, my parents and I joined the Holsinger Reunion Trip to Sri Lanka. My mum was technically a Berenger, not a Holsinger, but I am sure we are related somewhere down the line. Not that this really matters anyway as anyone Sri Lankan and older than you is considered an aunt or an uncle.

We all wore yellow t-shirts with green writing that said “Hollies Reunion 94”on our trip around the country. I met lots of cousins from England, Australia and Sri Lanka and we had lots of parties. The young cousins and the older aunts all put on dance and acting shows of varying skill levels. Mum joined the “I Will Survive” dancing number and my cousin and her father sang to “Unforgettable.”

Being 16 at the time, I remember being very angry that my mum wore a red dress to the reunion ball when she knew I was wearing that colour too. We all spent Christmas together and New Year’s Eve at a house on a lake where we had dinner at 2am because the Lankans like to get maximum drinking time in before they eat.

In Colombo, we saw the Sri Lankan cricket team practicing on the next field when we played our reunion cricket match.

There were monks, a big white Buddha, dancers and monkeys in Kandy. Dad and I were the only ones brave enough to have a snake on our shoulders at a rest stop where we drank out of coconuts.

We went to the Pinawela elephant orphanage and saw the lion’s paws and rock frescos at Sigariya. We visited the buddas at Polonnaruwa and the temples at Anuradhapura. We went to Dambulla rock temple where we saw many colourful buddas in a cave.

At the beach, I swam in the deepest water I can ever remember swimming in and we stayed at the Tangalle Bay Hotel which was shaped like a ship.

Upcountry, we stayed at Loinorn tea estate which my uncle was managing. (He now has Ebony Springs). My family are Sri Lankan burghers, so they had a driver, a cook and a servant who looked after me when I was sick. The estate had a big house, a rock fresh water swimming pool and lots of tea hills to explore. They also had a golden retriever called Goldie who liked to sit around with her legs out like a seal. We got a personal tour of the Bogowana tea factory and I climbed Adam’s Peak at dawn.

We went to The Hill Club in Nuwara Eliya which was run by another uncle and visited family in Negombo.

On the way back to Australia we went to Malaysia with my aunt, uncle and two cousins.

In Kuala Lumpur we saw an orangutan smoking the Asian way in the zoo.

There was great food and good shopping in Malacca. Years later, I still regretted not buying silver sunflower ring that I found there.

We took a day boat trip to Pulau Kapas. We couldn’t afford to eat at the resort on the island so we sat on the beach and listened to their stereo system which played Ace of Base all day instead.

Related posts: England, Singapore and Malaysia, 1988, Travel rememberings, I first started travelling

The seven year itch

I have been to 50 weddings in my life, 40 of those in the last seven years. This is not an exaggeration- I have counted. I know it seems a little excessive, but the only explanation that I can give is that of a Catholic family and country school mates. Or maybe it’s just that I am really sociable and a fun wedding guest?!

My husband has been dragged to many of these wedding with me and vice versa. He has been in many bridal parties, has been the MC and an usher- while I have sat at the singles table. The only wedding that I have been in the bridal party for was my best friend’s wedding earlier this year.

What I know about weddings could fill a book. I have been to big weddings, small weddings, full catholic ceremonies, quickie celebrant ceremonies, church weddings, house weddings, reception hall weddings, hotel weddings, RSL weddings, fancy restaurant weddings, cocktail party weddings, sit down weddings, stand up weddings, garden weddings, beach weddings, winery weddings, weekend away weddings, destination weddings, a wedding in a courthouse, one in a library and a wedding on a tugboat.

I have been to weddings in Terrigal, the Hunter Valley, Berrima, Mount Wilson, Wollongong, Kangaroo Valley, Berry and Sydney. I have travelled to attend weddings in Melbourne, Hobart, Cairns and Darwin. I used to have a no overseas wedding rule, but after getting married in Thailand myself, I couldn’t really use that as a reason not to go anymore. So I have now also been to weddings in Fiji, Hawaii and Canada. The money I have spent on travel, accommodation, kitchen teas, hen’s nights/weekends away and wedding presents is a sum I don’t even want to think about- but it was all in good fun and each wedding has been special in its own way.

With my events background I would probably make a great wedding planner and I have considered this. I have a friend who does hair and make up, one trained in floristry and a friend that does photography. But the bottom line is that I could not deal with bridezillas.

Even the most sane and sensible people who swore they would never get caught up in the commercial hoop-la end up worrying about things like what is on the place cards. For my own wedding I did not give a toss about the details- I just got the hotel to do it all and make all the decisions. The cake was hideous- but who cares- I didn’t even want a cake and I didn’t choose it.

It dismays me when I see people getting caught up in all the little things, succumbing to family pressure and losing sight of themselves and what’s really important- two people making a commitment to each other and an excuse for a really good party. No one else is going to notice if the vase on table 1 is different to the vase on table 2, so just relax and enjoy the day.

The cost is also ridiculous- just mention the word wedding and the price triples. That’s why I was “shopping for my thirtieth” when I found my red wedding dress. Why would I wear white when red is my best colour? The average Australian wedding costs 50 thousand, which is enough for a long honeymoon and a good start on a flat deposit. Who wants to start their married life in debt?

And then there is the question of the second weddings. I have not been to one yet, but with a few friends divorced, it could happen. Do you automatically get an invite to the second wedding if you have been to the first or are you automatically excluded? Wether you go or not, do you have to buy another wedding present?

At the end of the day, each bride (and groom) needs to make the choice about what they want and be happy about it. If a big wedding with all the trimmings and a white dress is what you want, then go for it, but just be honest and say that is what you want from the beginning.

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