Friday, December 18, 2009

Life Lessons...Part 1

I've been learning a lot since being over here.

I know, you're thinking "Yeah right...look at all of those beach pictures, she just lounges around in the sun all day." I AM enjoying the beautiful surroundings I'm so very lucky to have at my doorstep this year...

But it's true I actually, really have been learning a lot.

I've realized how important it is for me to write. Even when I don't feel like it or don't think I have anything to write about. Because every time I sit down with a cup of coffee, my latest i-tunes purchase humming through my ipod and my journal I learn something.

One thing I've learned since being over here, away from home, with waaaay less distraction and waaaay more time to actually think is that I am constantly living in the future. I'm always thinking 10 steps ahead...never noticing what's right in front of me. I'm not going to lie, it's been a disheartening realization because I can recollect many moments, friendships, experiences I've unintentionally missed out on due to my own lack of understanding. Understanding that life happens whether or not we pay attention. People come and people go, opportunities come and opportunities go, seconds-minutes-hours-days all come and go. What we do with these things is up to us. For me, having spent the better part of the last year or so thinking about and wondering "what's next? where? how? when? what if?" has been exhausting to say the least. But more than that it's gotten me nowhere real fast & for the first time in my 25 years I'm looking back with regret. Regret that I missed out on fully grasping and experiencing a lot of really cool moments because I was stuck in the future.
I am, however, grateful for this lovely little slice of a life lesson. That I'm learning it at almost 25 instead of almost 50. One thing I've been getting asked more and more over here & by some friends back home is "What do you think you'll do when you get back?" I do have a few ideas of what I might like to do...BUT I now answer like this..."Well, I have 7 months left here. A lot can happen in the next 7 months to change any ideas I might have, so I'm just taking it one day at a time and we'll see what happens." :) It's been really freeing to let go of 'What will be' and focus on 'What is'.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas in July...

...Or so it seems! It really is December and it really is 'that time of year....again'. Christmas. Normally for me'Tis the Season is full of all the winter wonderland, holidazzle goodness. You know how when you grow up with something or just experience it a certain way, you think that everyone else experiences it the same way. Like...Christmas. I mean, even back home there are plenty of places that celebrate a tropical Christmas, but growing up in Minnesota Christmas was always just as it is portrayed in the movies...feet of snow, sledding, wool socks, hot chocolate, snowmen. I'm telling you, it was the closest thing to 'Santa' and the North Pole. It NEVER crossed my mind, seriously (well, I KNEW it wasn't a snowglobe everywhere for Christmas...but) until this very year that on the other side of the world it might actually be SUMMER during Christmas. So my geography teacher was right...the Northern and Southern Hemispheres DO have opposite seasons. And a bunch of other differences. Crazy as it is, this year will be my very first Summer Christmas. BBQ's are in full swing and flip flops are everywhere. The school year is just finishing up and summer holiday is about to's weird. Because of all this it just doesn't actually feel like Christmas to me, which in turn is making it a lot less hard being away from home this year. Family means a lot to me & we're all very close so it's not easy missing out on seeing them for an entire year, especially during this time of the year. But, by having an out-of-sorts in every way Holiday, being away is just a wee bit easier! Enjoy the snow everyone...I'll be at the beach. :)

Wishing you all a very, very Merry Christmas...


Sunday, November 29, 2009


A couple weekends ago I flew up to the Northern part of the North Island to Auckland, New Zealand's largest city. My friend Claire from Nashville was living up there for a little while so it was the perfect excuse to get away and visit her and the big, bad Oakland...(as they pronounce it).
I almost moved there. Like, had everything arranged, mind made up, it's a done deal almost moved there. Then about 3 weeks out I completely changed my mind and decided to move to Wellington instead. So when I visited Auckland I kept thinking about how different life over here would be had I not flipped the coin at the last minute and stayed with my original plan to live in this city. I haven't spent enough time there to give you an accurate portrayal of the city, but my first impression and experience was quite different from what I had imagined. It's BIG and sprawling. To give you a picture, the population is similar to that of Nashville at around 1.4 million but the amount of land mass it takes up is similar to Los Angeles with 3x the amount of people. So you have a lot of city/suburbs and relatively speaking, not a lot of people. Looking at a map you would never think this tiny country could have a city large enough to have to deal with "LA" style rush hour traffic and 30, 40, 50 minute train rides out to suburb areas. Compared to Wellington's 'walkability' and lack of extended commuting time it is quite different! Overall though, I had a wonderful time with Claire & also had a chance to meet a new friend, Kieran, who I got in touch with through a friend in Nashville. :) Rach

Can you count the lines on ths sailboat?

Auckland "City of Sails
" ride has arrived. ;)


Street musicians here are legit...dude was rockin out!
Claire & I in this super rad little book store...

Auckland skyline and a crater...

NZ flag

View from my window seat on the plane

Tiny bit of NZ on the bottom and pretty ocean & sounds off in the distance

Friday, October 30, 2009

Wind, Surfing and Southerly's...

Wellington is a windy city. I'm sure that if Chicago wasn't dubbed the 'windy city' (which I would definitely not consider windy compared to Welly...) that Wellington would rightfully own the title. It's actually the 'city of harbours' (yep...everything with an 'or' ending gets spelled with a 'u' here...why? I'm not sure). Today was windy and cold with a bit of sunshine. Today's wind and coldness was from a Southerly. Wellington is plagued by these huff, puff, blow your house down Southerly/Northerly winds. It's crazy how powerful they can that Spring is here people are busting out the flip flops and shorts, but when a Northerly or Southerly hits the layers come right back out!! Despite the chill I decided to tag along with one of my flatmates, Brodie, and his friend Simon (who is dating an American fella!!) to Lyall Bay, a popular surf spot here in Wellington. I brought my camera to see if I could get a few good action shots. There were a few guys out with their surf boards and I managed to get some pictures of them. Brodie and Simon were kayak surfing so they are the ones with the paddles. There were also some windsurfers kickin' it out there off in the distance. It was a lot of fun to watch these guys battle the waves and I'm looking forward to trying it myself when the weather and the water are a bit warmer!! Enjoy...

P.S. I've had requests for pictures featuring yours truly. I've been playing photographer and have sort of forgotten to put myself in front of the camera along with the beautiful scenery for a few. I'll work on it and post some soon!!


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My story... you know, I'm on the other side of the world. I still can't believe it sometimes when I'm just walking around that I'm actually here. What's even more amazing to me when I think about it is the fact that getting here took very little effort on my part.

Really. Here's my story...

It all started about 2 years ago when I saw a band play in Nashville. I found out afterwards that they were from New Zealand. The second I heard 'New Zealand', something clicked. Have you ever had that? Where you hear something, see something, read something, or meet someone and instantly know that it's different? It just clicks with you, it resonates and you can't ignore it? For me, I've had two hugely defining 'click' moments in my life, and one of them was moving to New Zealand. In fact, one of my best friends, Trish, can attest to this one. I called her the day after seeing this band and stated very bluntly, "I'm going to move to New Zealand when I'm 24." At this point I was 22, had only been in Nashville for a year and had just started a great new job. From there, life went on, I fell in love with Nashville and my "I'm only going to stay for a year" turned into two years, then three years, then 'this is home'.

To be honest I didn't think about New Zealand much at all during this time and there were moments I wasn't sure it was ever really going to happen. Regardless, the idea of moving over here had cozied itself up somewhere in my heart and even when I wasn't thinking about it or didn't think it would happen, it still never left.

Then last November I went along on a dental mission trip to the Dominican Republic. It was great in so many ways, but one thing that really flipped the switch on about moving was that I met a few amazing people from the states, my age, living and working in the DR. I remember talking with them about their experience and thinking how amazing it was that they were there, living out an experience they will never, ever regret having stepped out of their comfort zone to be a part of. This was a huge turning point for me and I started thinking about New Zealand again, this time more seriously.

Come March of this year, I found myself at a standstill. I needed to make some changes in my life which required me to step back, take a good look and make some decisions. I prayed, and thought, and prayed, and contemplated. The only thing that seemed to make sense for this season of my life was to pursue my dream of living abroad. The timing finally lined up, I applied for my Visa and once I was accepted picked a 'go' date and bought a ticket! From here, things literally came together like, well, like it was meant to be. I started meeting people with connections/friends/family over when I arrived I had a warm welcome and a place to stay. I also had lots of coffee meet-ups with the other people I managed to connect with via email or facebook while in Nash. Before I left I was only able to get the technical stuff lined up, I hadn't actually secured a job or a place to live permanently. But I had this crazy amount of faith that this was all going to be taken care of so I wasn't worried in the slightest. Not. At. All. Within 2-3 weeks of arriving, I found a place to live and was offered a job for exactly what I was looking for...working for a loving family a few days a week as their Nanny! I met some awesome new people and started going to a really great little church Sunday evenings. Easy I've lived here my whole life! Two months in and I bump into someone I know every time I'm out and about in the city!

All of these things are wonderful and I'm having an incredible time. But, of all that has happened, what I've learned the most is what Obedience and Faith really mean. This whole thing pretty much landed in my lap...all I had to do was go when the light turned green. God worked everything out for me, I just packed my bags and got on the plane. Thinking about it from this side now it just seems so crazy. To pick up and move across the world with just a few bags and a smile. Oh, but when you give up the weight of the world to a God who can lift it with His pinky, all you need is to follow in the direction He's pointing and smile. I wonder if God is up in heaven looking down at us humming from John Hiatt's song the line "Have a little faith in me..." If only we did more boldly and more often.


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

new perspective

I started writing in a journal regularly last summer. I did so after heeding the advice of a songwriter who made the point that songs are inspired by observations, feelings, life...just write and when you look back on the details of your life, you may be able to pair a melody with some parts. So I bought a journal, taught myself how to sit still, and started writing.

This simple, newly formed habit has changed my life.

Really. When I write I am honest with myself, to myself. I write about my hopes, dreams, struggles and defeats, fears, doubts. I also write out prayers & lyrics. Although my incentive was to start working on writing music, I fell in love with the freedom & simplicity of just writing and even if a song never comes from the pages of this journal, I won't regret having started. I don't often write when I'm happy-go-lucky and 'all is well in Rachel's world', though I need to...I'm prompted to write more when I'm either really inspired by something, deeply moved, or when I'm feeling contemplative, indecisive, faithless, or stressed. It seems that writing, for me at least, sorts things out and often leaves me with a better grasp, and certainly more perspective on whatever situation I find myself penning.

Inspired by my friend Allies blog (link can be found to your right @ the top!), I've decided to start writing a few more posts that reflect upon what I'm feeling, learning, understanding, and how I'm growing & changing. Up until now I've mostly shared with you my experience moving to and living in New Zealand. While I will definitely continue posting all about life here and the adventures I find myself in, I really want to share some more personal, candid moments as well. I think as humans we long to be understood, and when we're bold and honest about our lives & can share it with others who are able to relate, there in lies the connection of the human spirit! This is why quotes become quotes, stories become stories, and heros become, share, inspire.

To kick off this new journal-like blog post is a quote posted by another friend that really resonated with me.

Happiness is inward and not outward; therefore it depends on who you are and not what you have.

So True.

I love you all,

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sitting on a House and a Dog

So...for the past 2.5 weeks I've been dog/house-sitting. This is one of my most favorite things to do. There's something fun & exciting about living in someone else's house. It's like a mini-vacation except that you never leave your city. In fact, your house is just a few minutes away but because you're on your own 'vacation', you put that in the back of your mind and make a point not to go home unless it's absolutely necessary. These past couple of weeks have been filled with runs along the ocean with Wendy the dog, weekly walks to the nearest little town for groceries and movies, taking advantage of the amazing scenery for photo-opps, plugging in my ipod to the big stereo, turning it up loud & dancing, dragging a chair into the bathroom with my acoustic guitar because the sound is amazing in there, cooking, baking, and candlestick making. Just kidding about that last one. I also spent the time learning how to drive a manual car & I also learned how to make coffee. Yes...up until now I've just purchased the liquid magic, oh but now I would consider myself an ameteur Barista. You'll see...the machine I learned on is at the top of the totem pole, not just your average appliance.

It's been eventful, peaceful, relaxing, and fun. What's even better is that this is where I get to come everyday during the week to care for 3 cute-pie little boys. While it won't be nearly as quiet, it'll be adventurous, entertaining, and filled with jumping, crashing, loud boy things. So thankful I am for this home...

Here are a few pictures from my time here!


Saturday, September 5, 2009

Eternal Ocean

"Can you imagine what it is to cross an ocean? 
For weeks you see nothing but the horizon, perfect and empty.  
You live in the grip of fear. 
Fear of storms, 
fear of sickness on board, 
fear of the immensity.
So you must drive that fear down deep into your belly.
Study your charts,
watch your compass,
pray for a fair wind, 
and hope.
At first, it's no more than a haze on the horizon.
So you watch.
You watch.
And there's a smudge,
a shadow on the far water.
For a day,
and another day,
the stain slowly spreads on the horizon.
by the third day you let yourself believe,
you dare to whisper the word.
a true adventure coming out of the vast unkown,
out into new life."

Quoted from the film 'Elizabeth: The Golden Age'

This portrayal of the ocean as an image of eternity is so beautifully written.  We live our lives not knowing what's next, not knowing what's on the horizon; yet we must take each step with faith, walk through our fears, and hold on to hope.  Life is our ocean.  Sail on.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Buses & Such

Before moving to New Zealand I did quite a bit of research on the Country and each of it's larger cities.  Taking into consideration location, population, culture of the city, and my personal interests, the country's capital Wellington won hands down as home base.  Giving it just a little bit more of an edge was their public transportation system...I would be living without a car for an entire year!!  Here are a few facts from
  • More people use public transport in Wellington than anywhere else in New Zealand
  • About 26,000 people commute into the City every working day
  • 28% use public transport compared with:
    * 18% in Auckland 
    * 9% in Christchurch 
    * 10% in Australian and North American cities on average.
  • 11% of Wellingtonians walk to work

All a part of the adventure...I was excited to have to find my way around the city using the buses and my own two feet.

An adventure it has been!!  Figuring out which stop to get off at (thankfully the drivers will tell you if you ask!), which buses to transfer if needed, timetables, maps, and ticketing.  The system here runs like a well oiled machine, it's quite amazing.  I've only made one fumble so far in grabbing the right bus number but in the wrong direction.  I waited at the stop across the street from the one I needed, rode the bus ALL the way through the route, ALL the way back, THEN to where I needed to go in the first place!  I missed my transfer by a long shot, wasted an hour, and forked over $30 for a taxi.  I gave the bus driver a good chuckle & took away from it a lesson in direction!  Taking the bus has forced me to slow down, give myself plenty of time, and is  what I like to call 'conveniently inconvenient'.  Sure, if I had a car I would get to where I need to be quicker...but I'm not here to be anywhere quick.  Quite the opposite actually, I'm here to slow down, think, enjoy, discover. 

Once you get off the bus there's usually some sort of walking involved in getting you to your final destination.  Some bus stops are right outside where you need to be and these are always fun.  There's something special and celebratory about being able to hop off the bus and be where you need to be!!  Something we take for granted having our cars to zip around everywhere & DRIVE-THRU to get what we need!  Wellington is the City of Harbours...ohhhh, but it's also the city of WIND and HILLS.  Since more often than not the bus stops a good 5-10 minute walk from your destination, your pretty much guaranteed a good workout everyday for free.  No gym membership required.  This is what a day looks like walking through/to/from Wellington:  up stairs, up a hilly street, shortcut down a hillside through bush, downhill along a curvy road, flat...for just a second though, zig zag up a steep pedestrian road access, up stairs, up a hill, down a hill...BAM you're there!  Then when you're done...walk back.  If I don't return home with a nicer bum than when I left something went terribly wrong!!

You'd think that not having a car would give me less freedom, but it's really given me more.  I've been round and round the city which has made it quite easy to remember landmarks and find my way around.  I don't have to worry about traffic, gas, car insurance, locking my keys in the car, or getting the oil changed.  My heart appreciates all of the walking.  I can listen to music & podcasts while on the bus.  I'm learning to appreciate the importance of time & that it is not something to be wasted.

Next time you're in a city that uses public transport try it out!  Or, consider parking in the area you'll be spending your day and walk around to all of the places you need to go instead of driving to each parking lot.  Just a thought... :)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

City life (I)

Hello friends and family!  I'm sorry it's been so long since my last post!  I've been busy settling into life back in Wellington after my trip down South.  All is well and I'm working on a new post with a full update to be shared with you soon!  I wanted to put up a few pictures I took the other day walking around Wellington.  These are mostly shots from just outside of the busy streets with all of the great shops and cafe's, on sunny, beautiful Oriental bay.  It's a great area with beaches, marina's, restaurants, ice cream shops, & amazing views.  Here you will find lots of runners, rollerbladers, skateboarders, wind surfers, and ducks chasing you for any type of bread or carbohydrate you might have!  There is plenty more of the city to be shared...but here is a start.  Note, the tree resembling pictures were taken outside of the famous 'Te Papa' museum, they are made completely of wire!  Welcome to Wellington...

Love, Rach