My month in Australia was a roller coaster of a ride. I had planned for it to be the trip of a lifetime and gave myself permission to take a month off to explore, visit friends, meet new people and work on my new book. I was the Writer-in-Residence at Aalya Studio for 10 days at the end of my holiday.

When I was boarding the plane in Toronto on March 2, they told me that I had to check my carry-on bag. I had decided to travel light and didn’t have any other luggage. Reluctantly, I handed over my bag and Qantas lost track of it for 20 days. The evening I landed in Sydney, the clerk at lost luggage said (with great authority) “Look at that, your luggage is right behind you. We’ll deliver it on Monday.” I went off by train to find my AirBnB in a suburb of Sydney, feeling reassured.

The next morning, I bought a few basics and knew I could make do for a few days. Monday came and went, without my bag. Did you know that there’s no number for lost luggage at Qantas? They give you a number, but the office is closed due to COVID restrictions, and another number for lost luggage goes to reservations. They told me that the online tracker was broken.

I shopped for a few more basics. I don’t like shopping and found it challenging in a city I didn’t know. I found it disorienting to not have my own (carefully packed) essentials and did not know if I should buy vitamins, sunglasses, face creams, etc. Turns out, I wasted a ton of time, shopping for a bit more as the days wore on, without my luggage. I picked it up at the end of my month in Australia and two Women Welcoming Women Worldwide (5W) supported me in getting it back. Such a great network!

After week one, I flew to Melbourne to visit a friend and her family. They have just finished building an 8,000 square foot home and I was in the lap of luxury, with two pairs of underwear! We had a great time and I posted a few photos on my Facebook page (with her permission). Turns out, I can make do with a lot less than I thought I could.

I moved along to visit a new contact through 5W and we had a ton of fun getting to know one another. Francesca’s an actor and life drawing model. We talked about life and aging and how to get the most out of what you have and letting go of what you don’t have (ie. We started calling my luggage, my baggage).

I had a wonderful transition from Melbourne to Adelaide on The Overlander: a 10-hour train journey. My seatmate had spent a ton of time in the bush and was able to tell me about the vastness of it all and the Brolga birds (large birds that dance) and Bustards (a bird that’s eaten by Aboriginal people) and her favourite breakfast food, Kanga bangas, sausages with ground kangaroo meat and bush (spicy and small) tomatoes. I also met two sisters who were going home to their husbands after a holiday together. I heard wonderful stories from each of them about growing up in Australia and the time flew past.

Koruna picked me up at the train station. She is a friendly, exotic woman with an easy laugh, and we bonded immediately. She is an artist and mother of two adult creators. She drove me to the lovely homestead 45 minutes outside of Adelaide that she shares with her husband Andreas, who had invited me to be the Writer in Residence. Andreas is a geologist, a writer and a gentle soul. He seems able to fix anything and gets to prove it each day on this large property. They have been here for 18 months and take stewardship of their land seriously. They have just ordered 5,000 native plants to begin to replace the non-indigenous plants they removed.

I stayed in a one-bedroom cabin overlooking the brush with a watering hole nearby and the Aldinga Hills within sight. The Southern Ocean was a short bike ride away and all of this was at my fingertips for 10 days. It was just what I needed to write and recharge.

I was able to relax and enjoy a quintessential Australian experience. Birds and kangaroos abound on this land. There’s a conservancy of 88 acres next door. It’s very quiet and my only job was to work on my new book. It was a dream come true for me.

We shared our dinners together and the range of menus was wide! We had traditional German meals (Andrea’s background), kangaroo steaks and lots of fish and curried delights (Koruna’s speciality) and I made some of my favourite dishes (boring by comparison).

I was able to write for hours most days. It was dreamy. I delivered a workshop about bringing our senses into our writing. I met with people who were interested in the topic of my book and was able to interview Rene, who took care of her ex-partner in significant ways, right until the end. It’s a touching story of providing physical and emotional labour to someone with mental health challenges.

I also went to an Aboriginal Festival and saw a smoking ceremony, attended a women’s sharing circle and watched children toss boomerangs wonderfully well in a competition.

I will share a few photos of my trip at our first live event at Spoken Lives on May 31st. We’ll be at the Carrot Common (upstairs) and I will read Rene and Lisa’s story at this event. There are 3 other speakers and one is singer Julie Michels and I’ve asked her to share a song or two with us.

I hope you can make it. Tickets are limited to only 30 as this space is smaller. It would be great to see you there. Get your ticket here.

Thanks for reading my lingering thoughts. I look forward to sharing more with you in the future. Please visit my new website and passion project, Grow at Your Pace to find out about the other things that I’m creating.

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