Sitting here listening

Sitting in a {paleo} cafe surrounded by people: two older gentlemen sitting on one side and two younger ladies sitting on the other side. Both discussing the varieties of life – on one side they’re discussing travel, on the other it’s work. I feel myself sitting here wanting to participate in their conversations and give them some different ideas. I can tell them about travelling in China and Nepal and Jordan; I can tell them about flexibility in jobs and getting the job you really want. From apparently different ends of life and different sides of life, these two pairs of friends are connected through me in the middle – the middle of their conversations, the middle of my life {perhaps, perhaps not}, the middle of my experiences.
My life isn’t extraordinary, in my opinion. But I can talk about travel – I can talk about any of the many amazing countries that I’ve visited. For a long time, my goal has been to travel to more countries than my current age, and so far I’m doing well. I’ve still got a year or two of “no new countries” before I will jeopardise my goal. But I’m not going to fall behind – I have my plans in place. My dream is South America – I will get there. Last year, I fulfilled my dream of Romania – it was amazing! I just want to stop revisiting countries that I’ve been to before (but honestly it can’t be helped!). This year my goal is to take my other half to a new country – one I’ve been to, but one they haven’t – but we will go to new places and have different experiences.
My work is “normal” but I know about flexibility, or lack thereof. In a job where I thought flexibility was crucial, I am finding that I have no flexibility. The theory was that I could do this job anywhere where I had an internet connection, but the reality is that a micromanaging boss wants to physically see me every day. All of my work is online – email, websites, forums, teleconferences, online classes – but my physical presence is desired. In my job that started out with minimal flexibility, I have the most flexibility. I set my time, my workload, my location – everything except the pay rate. (Oh, how I wish I could set that! But I know that I can influence it…) This is the job that I will keep indefinitely – I can plan it around my family, my travel, my hobbies, my desires.
I feel as though I can do anything sitting here in the middle – I could join in the conversation with the older gentlemen and give them some fresh insights; I could join in the conversation with the younger ladies and give them some different ideas.
However, here I sit, doing work and writing a blog post. Ah, this is life!
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The dogs of Kathmandu

Recently, when I was working in Kathmandu, I couldn’t help but notice all the street dogs. They are everywhere and they seem to wander the streets at will, but also have defined territories. They are very resilient – you can see their battle scars clearly. They are also calm and enjoying a relatively lazy life. They also look amazingly similar as you can see below. (Yes, they are all different dogs on different days.) It makes me wonder about their life and how they survive.

One particular dog caught my attention – the dog in the middle of the image. He lived near the taxi rank, so I saw him every day for a little over three weeks. Every time I saw him, he looked content and poised. He never looked hungry or sad, but rather he appeared to be the king of his territory. He was constantly surveying his territory and making sure he ruled it all. Other dogs would stay away and avoid any contact. He wouldn’t budge for any human or other animal, either; they had to walk around him. A very proud dog in the middle of life in a busy area in Kathmandu. He constantly reminded me of Nepali people, too, with his approach to life: proud, calm, resilient.

The dogs of Kathmandu

Kathmandu Dog Pack {True} Story

Warning: Depicts a graphic scene – you may not want to read this.

The first time I went to Nepal, I arrived late at night and had the hotel transport pick me up from the airport. I was exhausted – I had just traveled for more than 36 hours to get here. But I was excited to be in a new city to see new things. It was just after Tihar and many buildings still had lights all over them – it was a beautiful sight. We were going around a corner when a pack of dogs caught my eye – it looked like they had cornered some prey and were going to have dinner. I looked closer to see what they had found; they had found another weaker dog. The pack was about 8 or 9 dogs strong; the dog being attacked was weak and helpless. It was horrid: the pack dogs were taking it in turns to bite and tear apart the other dog. I could hear the other dog whimpering and crying. It was a terrible scene and one that I didn’t want to see. Thankfully, after about one minute of being so close to this situation, the transport moved on. I don’t know what happened, but I sure can imagine it.

Now I understand the saying “it’s a dog eat dog world”. Literally.

Romania.

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Romania. Go, see, do. Stunning.

Turda Salt Mines

Turda Salt Mines

Turda Salt Mines

Turda Salt Mines

Rasnov town looking up to the citadel.

Rasnov town looking up to the citadel.

Locals in Rasnov.

Locals in Rasnov.

View from Rasnov Citadel.

View from Rasnov Citadel.

St Michael's Cathedral in Cluj-Napoca.

St Michael’s Cathedral in Cluj-Napoca.

Orthodox Cathedral, Cluj-Napoca

Orthodox Cathedral, Cluj-Napoca

Hazsongard cemetery in Cluj-Napoca

Hazsongard Cemetery, Cluj-Napoca

Flowers for sale in a market in Cluj-Napoca

Flowers for sale in a market in Cluj-Napoca.

Sneaky new friend in Cluj-NapocaSneaky new friend in Cluj-Napoca.

I visited Romania earlier this year to meet fellow blogger Estrella Azul. Her hospitality meant the world to me – she was welcoming and she shared her life, her culture, her country, and her insights. We had a wonderful week exploring Cluj-Napoca, Turda Salt Mines, Brasov, Rasnov, Bran….. As well as enjoying Romanian-Hungarian food, culture, and fun! Romania is a beautiful country and has a long history. It is probably best known for vampires, Transylvania, and Dracula, but there is so much more to see and do. Maybe one day I’ll get to write about my trip in more detail, but for now, you’ve seen some photos of what is on offer and here are some blogs about traveling in Romania. Do check them out – Romania really is worth going, seeing, doing!

…and, of course, the classic travel sites like Romania Tourism, Lonely Planet, Wikitravel (surprisingly good!), and TripAdvisor.

a vampire story

There is a Korean vampire story that scares and inspires. It is of a woman who has been murdered and is doomed to roam the streets looking to avenge her death by drinking others’ blood. However, the blood never sates her thirst. It’s almost a typical vampire story – only the vampire is one woman and her victims never turn. Her roaming is endless; her search always finding victims, but not satiation. She has black hair, white skin, blood dripping from her mouth. She glides rather than walks; she is a silent killer. You might turn around in the street one night and see her following you. You might recognize her; you might remember her from dreams. If you do, you know you’ve been one of the lucky few to escape. Count your blessings all the way home. Go home now. Run. Lock your door, even though it won’t keep her out. Pray to your deity; they might keep you safe. Most of all – don’t look into her eyes and fall under her spell. She is beautiful; she is heartless. She is.

Halloween 2001

feeding the fire

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Donghaksa Temple, Daejeon, South Korea

It was a wintry day; the sky was full of clouds filled with snow just waiting to float down to earth. We walked along the path leading up to the ancient Buddhist temple. You took my hand in yours and shared your warmth, and your heart. As cold as it was around us, between us there was a fire – an eternal fire. Years before, we took a little spark and have been feeding it with love, trust, and experience. Our little spark has grown into a roaring fire and we continue to feed it, not wanting it to die out. Every day we feed more love and trust into our fire, and our experiences – both shared and independent – also give it more fuel to feed from. Our passion ignites us both, even on our tired and “bad” days. We could have melted all the snow around us and started a bushfire on this day, but we chose not to: it was too beautiful so we enjoyed the moments and treasure our memories.

perfection in nature

Nature is amazing; nature is beautiful; nature is perfection. Nature is the world around us. If we take the time to truly look, we can see the beauty that surrounds us in every moment of every day. Go outside and look to your right – what do you see there? What don’t you see there? What did you see there yesterday? What will you see there tomorrow? Constantly changing, constantly surprising, nature can help us connect to what we know to be true in our selves; even in our concrete jungles, we can find nature looking for ways to be present.

This year I’ve taken on a small project to post one photo every day to help me see my world more closely, in more detail. Of course, I’ve been swept up in the Instagram hype, but I do love that I can take photos and not have to edit them on a computer to get them close to the gorgeous reality that I see. You’ll notice that I’ve added an Instagram feed here and I use this to document my world. Yes, I have missed a couple of days, but that’s okay. I love that I am looking at my day more closely and clearly – I am seeing so much more than I ever saw before and I love to share my daily findings with everyone. One of my favourite photos at the moment was taken on August 18 at Lennox Head, Australia. It is simply a seagull looking out to sea, but I wonder – what is he looking for? What does he see? What don’t I see? Does he dream of just flying endlessly over the ocean? Or does he dream of harassing the locals for food every day?

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one week trilogy

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one week and i fly

with my butterflies to you

perchance united

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a life for two is

a dream more than  imagined

a chance together

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a breath, a hope, ache

a dream, a desire, my love

a wish, a chance, live

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