Getting back in the saddle, ready for the next adventure

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Bags packed, looking forward to home. Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon, January 2014

Its been nearly a month since I last wrote a blog post. And a whirlwind month at that. So what have I been up to?

As you may recall, my position had been de-funded in early July. I was facing an uncertain future, as well as getting ready to wave my friends good-bye as they headed off on a long-awaited adventure from the coast of South Australia to Uluru, Northern Territory. It was scary not knowing if I would be able to meet essential financial commitments, such as housing costs, or how long it would take to find another job. So I went into squirrel-mode, and gave up on the trip-of-a-lifetime.

Until I took a moment to reflect. I’d been in a similar position. I’d been in many scary positions, actually. And I got through them all. Putting aside fear, I instead became open to opportunities. A few hours later, an opportunity came my way – so I grabbed it with both hands.

An unexpected shipment of my books arrived, as an apology for messing up a recent order. I quickly put it out there that I was selling my novel at a reduced price, and that the money would go towards a trip to Uluru. In a short time, I had the petrol money. Thanks to very generous friends and colleagues. Accepting such generosity was an added lesson, as I’m shocking at allowing people to help me.

So I had that adventure (see previous posts, if you are interested in my reflections from that trip). Being supported by the good people who helped me raise the funds, and camping with good company every evening of the trip, made it even more special. Finally seeing Uluru, a place I had planned on celebrating my 50th a few months early, was truly amazing….beyond words.

Anyway, fast forward a couple of weeks. The support continued. Thanks to the people-orientated focus in my workplace, I was given a few weeks extension, and encouraged to apply for some internal positions. I was able to transition from one job to the next, without the dreaded period of unemployment. For this, I owe gratitude to my CEO, who has the rare courage to lead from the heart.

I was reminded to count my blessings today, after I made a flippant comment. And just those couple of words of wisdom, said in passing, made me stop and think. In just the past few weeks, I have a lot to be thankful for. And I have many people to thank (or ‘bless’). Looking forward, there are many more reasons to be grateful.

A couple of days ago, I got an unexpected email. My application to be a volunteer at the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival in Indonesia had been successful. Honestly, I’d forgotten I had even applied. Go to Bali? Whatever was I thinking? My days of travelling overseas were well and truly over. It’s not as I had done much overseas travelling really – once in 2009, and one this year. That last one had left a few scars, though.

Again, regular readers will know what I’m referring to. For those who don’t, briefly – in January I made an unexpected trip overseas, to support my parents with a loss. Dealing with grief and loss is never easy, especially when it involves someone so young. On top of the indescribable sadness of loosing my youngest brother, navigating the arising complexities within Cambodia, a developing country that is still recovering from a very dark time in its history, was traumatic to say the least.

Seven months later, I was still adamant that any future travel would be domestic only. I had also left behind a national position that had involved extensive interstate travel, to my new job which was state-based. At first, being able to hide in my cave felt good. However, the freedom and lightness I had felt on my journey to Northern Territory in July had left me with a strong urge to have many more adventures. And with my financial future stable, thanks to the new job, I had begun to save for a vintage caravan to renovate. A safe but quirky mode of travelling. I was looking forward to decorating a van and hitting the road on week-ends. A caravan was also a safe alternative to my dream of getting back on a motorbike, once my children had all reached adulthood and I had turned 50. (That dream has been put on hold)

Then came that email, and a chance to travel to Indonesia. Fear crept in. Excuses started piling up. So I put the question on Facebook: Do I go to Bali – on my own? Strong messages of support came in, from the many wonderful people I know. Still, I was unsure. Then a message (a red flag) arrived that made me change my mind instantly. No, it’s not safe on your own. 

Really? Hang on a minute…….I can do this. I went through hell and back, in Cambodia just a few months ago. Afterwards, I walked across the border into Vietnam, in an area where it’s recommended not to do so alone. I had no transport from that point, no currency, no idea where I was going. Just a strong desire to leave Cambodia that day, and make my way home to Australia. A few scary events occurred as a result of my decision, but I coped. Throughout my life, I’ve done a lot more courageous/stupid things. You know what? It feels good. It’s good to take risks, to get out of my comfort zone. I’m not ready for grey-nomading, moving at a slow pace along the highway of life. Its time I got back on the saddle, and travel overseas – for a new experience.

Again, timing was perfect. A nice collection of frequent flyer points meant that I got a virtually free return-flight from Adelaide to Denpasar, Indonesia. Once there, I’m very capable of living cheaply, and simply. As a volunteer, I get meals when I’m rostered on. Someone steered me in the direction of a website that advertises home-stays and other cheap accommodation. I have my mind set on renting a little house on a mountain, instead of staying in a hotel. A place to soak up the views and sounds, do some writing – in between enjoying all that the festival and local community has to offer.

So I’ve responded to Ubud W&R Festival, taking up the offered volunteer role in the first aid team (I’m sure it will just be hangovers and paper-cuts to deal with – won’t it?). My leave from work has been sorted, and flights are booked. I’ve got to book accommodation before it becomes scarce in Ubud, and sort out all the little things that are involved with travelling. I also have to do a few urgent maintenance tasks on my home, before I leave. Where is a pen….list time!

Anyway, in a couple of weeks I’m off on another adventure. One that I hope to share with you, via this blog and twitter. This little black duck (an introverted, 50-something woman) is heading to Indonesia for the first time. Funnily enough, I’ve been joking that this might be my Eat, Pray, Love moment (I’m sure you’ve heard about the book and film), but I’m hoping for something else – perhaps Drink, Write, Laugh? Anyway, the place I am going is where that book/film ended on a happy-ever-after. Whilst it might be nice, I’m not really looking at ‘discovering myself’ or finding a perfect partner.

I’m just looking for adventure. And making sure I continue to face all my fears. I never want to believe that I’m too old to do take risks. Life is full of uncertainties and I’m going to continue to count my blessings, get right back on any horse that bucks me off, and continue to say yes to adventure.

PS In future blog posts, if you read about me riding a scooter in Indonesia – don’t tell my parents – or my offspring 🙂


  1. You’re an inspiration, Karen, and you show how life can be an adventure with new challenges to face, and new experiences to enjoy. All I can say is, good for you. I look forward to reading of your latest venture. I wish you the best of luck!


  2. O.M.G. :-). Thanks for offering some inspiration. I’m desperately in need. I’ve got 3 yrs till I’m 50 and I’m thinking it’ll be time to up my adventure quotient.


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