15 Highlights of 2015

I am going to make a bold statement here and say that 2015 was probably one of the most transformative years of my life thus far.

Why you ask?

I can only sum it up by saying it was the first time in my adult life when I’ve slowed down enough to meet my subconscious mind; a confronting experience being half a planet away from my comfort zone.

It’s a blessing in disguise the way that travel exposes our beliefs, strengths and weaknesses as human beings and I’ve found that making a new life for ourselves in Australia has had the same effect. Double whammy!

This past year my heart and spirit have navigated my spiritual journey against a backdrop of glowing sunrises over the Pacific Ocean, on endless stretches of open road, in the bustle of busy beach cafes and in the quiet of the places we have called ‘home’.

I’m so grateful for the maturity that comes with age and the opportunity to reflect on the perfectness of where I was, where I am, and where I’m going.

Going in sequential order because that’s how my brain works, here are my 15 highlights of 2015:

1.) Ringing in the New Year with Nahko and Medicine for the People at Woodford Folk Festival in Queensland.

This festival. This band. A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. Not only did we ring in the New Year with these guys, their album Dark as Night became my soundtrack for the year. I actually can’t imagine haven gotten through some of the tougher moments without the inspiration it gave me.

Read more here.

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2.) Pitching our tent on a friend’s property on the edge of the rainforest.

Sometimes you just need your mom and when that’s not possible, you have to borrow your friend’s. We spent three days hanging out with our friend Leon’s family in the oasis they call home on our first road trip from Brisbane to Sydney. Grounding ourselves in the natural environment and having some ‘family’ time was exactly what I needed at that moment.

Read more here.

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3.) Reconnecting with friends from Seattle in our new home in Sydney’s Northern Beaches.

After nearly a year of continuous travel and meeting new people, seeing a familiar face is one of the greatest things on the planet. I’ve learned never to underestimate the human connection created by a shared past. Meeting up with friends from home and from our travels was an ongoing highlight in 2015.

Read more here.

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4.) Becoming a local in a holiday destination.

There’s something surreal about moving to a place you’ve only seen on screen before. I imagine this is the feeling people get when they visit Los Angeles and New York for the first time. A year later I still haven’t stopped pinching myself when I pass the Sydney Opera House or cross over the Harbour Bridge.

Read more here.

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5.) Making friends with an international group of legends through work at Bluewater Cafe in Manly.

Work hard, play harder. So many people missing from this photo but these people, pictured and non-pictured, made 2015 a particularly fun year. The Steyne Hotel and Manly Boatshed will never be quite as fun as they were after a hard day’s work with these kids.

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6.) Taking a weekend getaway to Jervis Bay on the South Coast of New South Wales.

A wonderful weekend spent exploring more of the Australian East Coast with Aussie friends we met in Peru. Surprisingly, this is the furthest south we made it in an entire year of living in Oz. Had to leave something for 2016!

Stay tuned for more on this in a future post.

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7.) Living in a share house with seven Brazilians and a baby.

We didn’t make it to Brazil when we were in South America, so we had no idea what we were in for — particularly the noise level.  Brazilians are a fiery and animated bunch of people and most of the exciting conversations take place in the kitchen. We had a a great five months learning about their culture, sharing ours and of course joining in multiple backyard barbecues Brazilian style. Beleza truta!

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8.) Fully immersing ourselves in beach life.

Since being in the Northern Beaches we’ve never lived more than a few blocks away from the beautiful Pacific Ocean. We had our toes in the sand nearly every day in 2015. Whether we were getting in the water or watching giant waves barrel the experts at the point, going down to the beach was the best free entertainment we could’ve asked for. I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to live where Jordan can’t surf every day again.

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9.) Checking out Vivid Sydney.

The city always has cool events going on and to be honest, we’ve rarely been bothered to leave our beaches bubble and check them out. However we made an exception to check out Vivid Sydney a festival of lights, music and ideas, and were not disappointed.

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10.) Turning 30 on our second East Coast road trip.

As I mentioned earlier in the post, I’m grateful for the maturity and changes I feel with each passing year. I’m beginning to see myself as a fine bottle of wine that gets better with age, or maybe this is just a case of “you are what you drink”..? Ha! Jokes aside it was a complete clash of free spirit vs. hormones played out in a Mitsubishi Mirage and a tent, and made better by some special treatment in a lovely place called Noosa.

Read more here.

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11.) Starting over in Sydney.

One of the greatest blessings in 2015 was finding a place that we just couldn’t seem to stay away from for more than a few weeks and luckily didn’t have to. The Northern Beaches kept opening its arms to us and we kept running back like giddy children. After our second road trip we moved into a new flat and I got a new job in another beach restaurant – both opportunities to meet and hang with another lot of amazing people.

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12.) Reconnecting to our roots in the Southern Alps in New Zealand.

Every day in New Zealand re-stoked my fire for the open road. A particularly liberating moment on that journey was waking up in our campervan the first morning to stunning views of Mt. Cook and the sparkling turquoise colors of Lake Pukaki. We couldn’t help but get in – cleansing ourselves of inhibition in the frigid water. It was a sacred moment.

Read more here.

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13.) Hanging with the wildlife in the South Island of New Zealand.

It was magical coming skin to pelt with seal pups in a stream just outside of Kaikoura; I’ve never experienced anything so authentic. In terms of wildlife, New Zealand exceeded my expectations! In addition to hands on interaction with the seals we had multiple other wild and unexpected animal encounters. Incredible!

Read more here.

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14.) Finding local vibes on Fiji island.

We knew we were taking a risk going to Fiji as budget travelers, but it paid off. While we thoroughly enjoyed our time on the Mamanuca Islands in Fiji, we found more authenticity on the main island. Staying at The Beach House on the Coral Coast was the perfect place to enjoy the lush tropical environment and served as a jumping off point to experience more of the local culture.

Stay tuned for more on this in a future post.

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15.) Spending every day with the love of my life.

Every day presented new situations, obstacles to overcome and celebrations to be had. Being able to share the experiences with Jordan was and is an absolute gift every day.

Read more here.

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