Category Archives: Home Life

Bucket List Item #3 – Tick!

A slight grimace while tattooing is in progressThe third item on my bucket list is something I have been wanting to do for a long time, get a tattoo. As someone who is notorious for changing their mind, this was quite a scary concept.

After years of deliberating I finally decided what tattoo I wanted and booked myself in. Liz at Maid & Magpie was brilliant, provided fantastic support in deciding the finer details of the tattoo and then getting on with it in a very professional and friendly manner.

The tattoo I decided on is something that will be meaningful to me for my entire life, the GPS coordinates of my childhood home. It acknowledges where I have come from and that no matter where in the world I choose to be, it is still my home.

Completed tattoo, cleaned
Completed Tattoo after its first clean.

 

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Bucket List Item #32 – Tick!

Clothes & Accessories ready for raceI started running in the summer of 2014 as a way to improve my mental as well as physical health. Running is something I have never loved, but it’s something I do from time to time. Usually I sign up for an event which then forces me to train.

My first crazy goal (Bucket List Item #11) was to complete the Point to Pinnacle, the “World’s Toughest Half Marathon”. Not only is it a half marathon (21.1km), but it goes straight up a mountain. Starting at sea level and finish at 1271 metres. I ran as much of it as I could (which was 13km) and completed the remainder of the course alternating between walking and running. I was incredibly proud of myself for finishing the race, and even managed to do so under 3 hours. This was in November 2015.

After this I really felt that despite it being such a big deal, something I am very proud of, I couldn’t really say I had run a half marathon. So I signed up for a “proper” half marathon, something that I was capable of running the whole distance. So I signed up for the Cadbury Marathon, well, the half marathon for January 2016, and at the last minute I convinced my friend Rachel to do the same.

I was in Netherlands in the lead-up and spent my time training in the cold weather on super flat terrain. I mixed it up a bit by competing in the 15km Zevenheuvelenloop (Seven Hills Run) in Nijmegen; setting myself a crazy goal of not walking any of it and finishing under 1hr 30mins (never having run 15km in my life). I achieved my crazy goal 1hr 23mins and was thrilled!

I had set myself a similar goal for the Cadbury half, not to walk any of it and to finish under 2 hours. So off I trot, back to the land of Kangaroos and start training where it’s hot, dry and mountainous.
I was feeling quite disheartened as the heat and hills were getting to me, my running times were quite poor and I was having serious fatigue issues.

Brushing my doubts aside and feeling determined, I turned up on race day, at the butt-crack of dawn. Despite a weather forecast for sun and 27degrees, the morning was overcast, fresh and dry, without any wind. Perfect running weather!

Finisher medalThe gun went at 6:30am and I started running. Putting one foot in front of the other. I knew I needed to run a pace of 5mins 40secs per kilometre to finish in exactly two hours. So I aimed to run at 5m15s so I could bank a few minutes to deal with hills and fatigue later in the race. The course was reasonably pleasant, it had slight ups and slight downs. I hit a bit of a wall at the 10km mark, but readjusted my thinking, ate energy candy and kept on going.

The last 5 kilometres had more uphills, and fatigue was getting to me, but I soldiered on and thankfully had some minutes up my sleeve because of my earlier faster pace.

The final hill was a killer, but the 50-100metre home stretch was flat and I set in for a sprint to the finish, waving at my mum and friend Funnel on the way past. Crossing the line at 1hr 53minutes I was beside myself.
I DID IT!!!!!!

Standing excitedly by the finish line, Mum, Funnel and I eagerly awaited Rachel’s finish. With 3 weeks of training she brought home a strong finish in 2hr 45mins. An absolute killer effort for a last minute decision!

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Tasmania, why I love and hate my home state

Australia Map, highlighting TasmaniaI come from the small island of Tasmania. Not to be confused with Tanzania, and no it’s not part of New Zealand. It’s that teeny tiny island underneath mainland Australia. Strangely, many people actually think it’s a different country to Australia, where actually it is a state of Australia.

Every now and then I am shocked at the view that mainlanders (people that live on mainland Australia) have of us Taswegians down south. It’s normal that states have jokes about other states, like people joking that Tasmanians are all inbred and have two heads – that’s all a bit of fun. But I was horrified to be asked while studying at University in Queensland, by other educated Australians, if we had power and internet in Tasmania (my first degree was Computer Science at the University of Tasmania – needless to say, in order to get that degree both power and internet are a requirement). They were also curious to know if we had sealed roads and how often we had to stop for kangaroos to cross – seriously people??? Along with these naive conceptions of our little state, I was shocked that my Tasmanian student card was not accepted in some other states “I’m sorry, we accept every state OTHER than Tasmania”.

Douglas Apsley Gorge, Douglas Apsley National Park
Douglas Apsley Gorge, Douglas Apsley National Park

Our isolation and independence can be viewed as a blessing, Tasmanian life is slower paced, quiet, relaxing and for the most part we are left to our own devices. As a bit of a joke we say that if you go to the beach and there are any people there, it’s crowded. Often times you can go find a beach all to yourself without too much hassle, as an island, we have plenty of beaches to choose from!

So there’s quite a few things I love about my home state. It’s nice and quiet. It is absolutely, without a doubt STUNNING! We have such amazing nature and wildlife untamed and in abundance it’s hard to believe it’s real. The air and water in our fine state have been reported as being the cleanest/purest in the world. With the size of our state and its variation in environment, within 30 minutes of driving I can be in the city surrounded by people, at the beach, up a mountain or in the bush as the only human for kilometres around.

Photo of Wineglass Bay taken from Mt Amos
Wineglass Bay taken from Mt Amos in Freycinet National Park

With our exposure to nature, we are also quite exposed to the weather. In discussions about the Tassie weather we will often reference the Crowded House song Four Seasons in One Day, because the song title describes our climate perfectly (It was actually written about Melbourne which has a similar, but ever so slightly milder climate than Tassie).  Any time spent outdoors generally requires you to be prepared for anything, sunshine, bushfires, rain, wind or snow – sometimes all in the same day. I returned home for Christmas 2015 and in my first two days back home I spent time ankle deep in the snow and then got sunburned at the beach. Despite the common notion that Australian summers are scorching hot, it might surprise you to learn that Tasmania’s average summer temperature is just 24 celsius. As a person who struggles with the cold and sits shivering when it’s 30 degrees in the shade, I find Tassie much too cold.

Travel Quote: The World is a book and those who do not travel read only one pageThe size and isolation of our state does result in numerous downsides. Everything costs more money because of the additional shipping required to get it to our island. It’s ridiculously costly, and often challenging, to get anywhere outside of the state and as a result one of two things tend to happen 1) people never leave or 2) people leave, get as far away as possible and stay away for long periods of time (often indefinitely). Because so few people leave, the gene pool can start to seem limited, everyone knows everyone and you can often come across people who are quite narrow-minded. In terms of work and study, we don’t have the economic climate to support a large range of options, which forces a number of people to move out of the state. Also because we are so small, isolated and an island we get fewer fun things coming our way, such as concerts, theatre performances and sports matches. For these you would typically travel to Melbourne or Sydney. I even fly to Melbourne to do my clothes shopping!!

I believe Tasmania is an excellent place to live as a child, it is an equally excellent place to raise a family, but for those not falling into either of those categories it can be a crappy place to live that just happens to be beautiful.

Me, where do I stand? I don’t feel like I fit in or belong in Tassie, so I travel as often, as long and as far as I can; to be inspired by the people I meet, the cultures and the experiences I engage in. Perhaps one day I will find the place I am meant to live. For the moment that place is not Tasmania, I will just stop by and visit from time to time.

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Out with the old; in with the new!

Site_Change2015 marks the start of amazing new adventures, so it seemed fitting to give my site a complete facelift.

The new and improved Little Duckie’s Adventures is designed with more travel information, improved appearance and greater functionality.

I hope you like it, please feel free to contribute suggestions for travel tips you would like to read about or things you think the site is missing.

Stay tuned as the real adventures begin in just four weeks, with Lima, Peru the first destination on the list.

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P2P Success!!

IMG_6062In preparation for the point to pinnacle, I did the Tasman Trail run – and boy did I struggle!! It was 18km of single track through the bush in the drizzle and a large chunk of it was up a big hill! I walked a large proportion of the course and held my team mate back (though he didn’t complain at all), but after about 3 hours we crossed the finish line! At which point I could barely stand up and almost passed out. This didn’t feel like a positive precursor to the point to pinnacle, but I remained positive.

IMG_6344Continuing with training but also in need of some time out, my running buddy (Mark) and I decided to have a weekend away. We headed up to the East Coast, drank delicious wines, ate loads, relaxed and crammed in an 11km trail run of the Hazards – Wineglass Bay Circuit. It was a gorgeous day and we thoroughly enjoyed the amazing scenery.

IMG_6406

Soon enough it was time to pound the pavement and head up ..to the pinnacle of course!

It was an overcast day, but not too cold, perfect for the Project Beans Running Team (Mark, Anna, Sue and I, and we were joined at the last minute by Klaas) to tackle the challenge.

We paced ourselves and slowly made our way up the mountain, Mark and I ran fairly consistently until the Springs (roughly 13km), after that we ran on and off for a few kilometres, before walking the last 5-6 kms, we made it over the finish line in just under 3 hours.

A year ago I had never even run 4km, yet 12 months later I ran the majority (and walked the rest) of the worlds toughest half marathon. It shows you what you can achieve when you set your mind to it.

I am very proud of myself and my team for achieving this goal, and for everyone who supported me along the way. I’d also like to say thanks to everyone who contributed to my fundraising efforts – together we raised almost $1000 for the Fight Cancer Foundation.

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Time to get fit!

IMG_4874Something I committed to this year, if you remember, is the Point to Pinnacle half marathon. It’s starting to get very close, in fact it’s only four weeks away!

In preparation for this epic undertaking, I have been training, doing loads of barrecode classes to build up strength and trying to run regularly. I ran 10 km’s for the first time in my life when I entered the Ross Marathon (the 10km run) a few weeks ago; and in two weeks time I will attempt the Tasman Arch Run, it’s an 18km trail run, which I expect to have amazing scenery!

Considering 10km’s is the longest I have ever run – I certainly don’t expect to run the full Tasman Arch Run or Point to Pinnacle. However I have set myself the realistic goal of running at least 10km and finishing within the allowed time.

While I am generally not the person who jumps at the chance to do exercise, pushing myself to get fit and active has certainly had a positive impact on my mental health – so I continue to get my runners on and head out the door on a regular basis.

Those who know me, know I have struggled with mental health in the last few years and one factor that contributed to that was the loss of my dad to cancer. So I have been using the Point to Pinnacle as an opportunity to fundraise for Cancer Research, my charity is the Fight Cancer Foundation. I would appreciate any support you would like to give, to try and end this problem that affects too many people. I have had loads of support already and am very close to reaching my fundraising target – to exceed that target would be amazing!

Support the Fight Cancer Foundation via Cat Stam’s attempt at the Point to Pinnacle

Photo taken from the start location of the P2P, finish is the peak of the mountain.
Photo taken from the start location of the P2P, the finish line is on the peak of the mountain.
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Project Beans is go!

LeaveRequestStage one of Project Beans is complete. I applied for three school terms off (April to December) and after my anxious wait, checking my email multiple times per day every day for a month or so, my leave request was approved. As you may well imagine this had me bouncing off the walls with excitement!!

Since then I have been investigating what countries I want to go to and what I want to see – this is where my plans are still slowly taking form. The only definite plan (though not booked, so really not that definite I suppose) is to finish work on April 2nd and head straight to South America to spend just under two months seeing and experiencing as much as South America as possible (the current idea is to see some of Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil). From there it’s a mad dash to The Netherlands to celebrate the wedding of a cousin in June.

After that things are a bit up in the air at this point in time, but I certainly have loads of amazing ideas for places to go, things to do and see!

While I bide my time until this amazing adventure begins, I continue to turn up to work every day. I have some amazing students who each have unique talents and interests, which I love supporting. Even though these students are the highlight of each work day. The long, dark, cold days of winter have been getting to me. So rather than trudging down Struggle Street I took positive action and booked flights to somewhere warmer for the winter term break – Myanmar!

IMG_2937My amazingly supportive best man friend Mark, who coined ‘Project Beans’, will be joining me for a two week adventure. As Myanmar has only opened to tourists fairly recently we have heard that it is quite the challenge to get around, but that the people are lovely. We can’t wait to see this country, unspoiled by tourists, to soak up some cultural experiences and see the beautiful sights.

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Project Beans

I often get comments from people about my lifestyle, the fact that I leave the country at every given opportunity, sometimes they are really positive comments like “Good for you!” and “Fantastic!” and other times, the words that are strung together are nice but you can feel the judgement dripping off them.
Life is about choices, things you choose to do as well as the way you choose to deal with things in life.

Only a few close friends really know what’s been going on with me and why I leave whenever I can. It’s about finding myself and appreciating who I am, as well as regaining my independence and free will. I spent a large portion of my early adulthood in a relationship that was emotionally and psychologically abusive; it started off great but over the years it got worse and worse and when we finally broke up I realised I had no idea who I was. I no longer knew how to make decisions for myself and I didn’t know what I enjoyed doing because I wasn’t being told these things anymore. At around the same time as the breakup, I lost my father to cancer. My dad was always my best friend and my rock. My whole world crashed around me and suddenly I was at a loss, I spent the first three years functioning in survival mode. I ate, slept and worked according to routine. I lost weight. I lost motivation. I lost interest. I walked the dog whenever I could drag myself off the couch, but mostly spent a great deal of time staring at the walls. On top of the things going on in my personal life, I was struggling at work and had some really challenging students, it got to the point where I was fighting tears on the drive to work every day.

IMG_5300By mid-2012 I was miserable and barely functioning any more and realised something had to change. I spent about 12 months on a mental health plan and my psychologist was great in helping me regain some perspective. One of my best friends came up with a concept called ‘Project Beans’ which was about helping me get my ‘beans’ (energy) back, and he has been super supportive along every step of my journey. Also it sounds a bit silly, but the way my dog paid attention to me and loved me no matter what, was a great source of strength. While my life didn’t quite turn out the way I had hoped, I realised there was still plenty of enjoyment to be had and it was time to focus more on appreciating the small things in life and doing more things that made me happy.

So I travel, it makes me happy. I love seeing different places and experiencing different cultures, setting myself different challenges along the way – like hiking to the top of Mt Kinabalu in Borneo or skiing Whistler in Canada or even just going out to dinner by myself (a concept I used to find terrifying, I still find it scary, but not terrifying). When I am at home I work hard on maintaining a healthy diet and exercise regime, because they have a huge impact on my mental health. I place a lot of importance on appreciating and spending time with my family and friends, and I have no hesitation in telling them all how much I love them. I also try  to appreciate little things, like blue skies, white sand, a smile from someone I walk past as I am out walking my dog, noticing an architectural feature in a building I have walked past a million times but never really looked at.

As I have told a few people lately, my focus for this year, and in the years to come, is me. Finding enjoyment in little things, doing things that make me happy, and getting back to being the true, positive version of myself.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo I have a grand master plan, which I am calling Project Beans, though I have upped the ante on what the name traditionally referred to. While I am focusing on being a happier, healthier person physically and mentally, I am also going to be working my butt off and saving as much money as I possibly can so that I can take most of 2015 off work and explore the world.

The Project Beans adventure list currently includes: Africa to climb Mt Kilimanjaro, swim in the Devil’s Pool at the top of the Victoria Falls, do a safari and see the ‘big 5′; South America to hike the Inca Trail to Macchu Picchu, see the spectacular Iguazu Falls, as well as visit places like Buenos Aires and Rio De Janeiro; then a move to Europe, to spend most of the time living and travelling around Spain and Portugal, learning Spanish along the way and maybe even attempting the El Camino De Santiago; hopefully I’ll also fit in a visit to Legoland in Denmark.

While I am taking the brave step of planning a year long (realistically probably closer to 10 months) solo adventure, I’d love some travel buddies to share in the fun adventures along the way! If any of the things I plan to do are on your bucket list, feel free to join me! Or if you want to go to Europe, tell me when/where to meet you and we’ll hang out!

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Summer Holidays!!!!!

I started 2012 with ooooodles of enthusiasm – I was going to do a great job at work, I had holidays planned and I was going back to study.

Study didn’t turn out to be what I had hoped for and very quickly left me frustrated and stressed, so I withdrew from my course at the end of the first semester. I tried really hard at work, but I had some really disrespectful troublemakers who took all the energy I had …and on many days I had that horrible feeling of dreading going to work (I had some really great kids too, but unfortunately I didn’t have the energy I would have liked, to make their learning experience as fun as it could have been). The things that kept me going this year were my fantastic holidays, 4 weeks in Europe with the family and a few days in Sydney with a friend; and the birth of my absolutely adorable niece Eleanor (too cute for words!!!!!).

So as 2012 wraps up I have plans to put a crappy year behind me and look towards a new year with new adventures.
This summer holiday has 2 major parts: Christmas with the family at Utopia and a trip to Malaysia for 3.5 weeks with one of my best friends.

Family Christmas

Christmas Dinner

My Tent in the backyard at UtopiaOn December 21st Mum and I packed our cars and headed to Utopia. On arrival we promptly unpacked ALL the Christmas food into the fridge. Mum helped me set up me new home for the Christmas period and we managed to sit down and enjoy a cuppa. The evenings highlight was an amazing fiery sunset. The rest of the family turned up after dark and pretty soon it was time for everyone to have a nap.

 

Fiery Sunset from the Jetty at Meredith's Point

View of Wineglass Bay from the lookout

Knowing that I would be doing a big hike when in Malaysia I decided to start my fitness training. I started my day with a 10km ride, followed by a 4km-ish walk with Eleanor my gorgeous niece who was in need of a nap (Pushing a pram along a corrugated dirt road is bound to rock any baby to sleep!!). By the time Eleanor and I got back to Utopia it was time for a snack before heading off on a hike. My sister-in-law’s Dad and brother, Marten and Joel, and I headed into Freycinet National Park where we hiked up and over the saddle into Wineglass Bay. Apart from a bit of a wind, it was a gorgeous clear day and beautifully sunny. We wandered the full length of the white sandy beach, taking a moment to sit and soak up the sun before heading back.

The far end of Wineglass Beach

 

Mt Amos

Determined to keep up with my training schedule, Joel and I set off early the next morning to tackle the steep hike that is Mt Amos. It was a really hot morning and I was a bit tired and sore, so I was not really keeping the pace I should have, but off we trotted anyway. Crawling up rock faces until we were at the top, with a most stunning view over Wineglass Bay.


The streaky rocks on Mt Amos

We sat down and took in the view (and some M&Ms) before heading back to Utopia for lunch with the family. We mostly spent the afternoon lazing around, reading books, playing games and assembling Lego. Anna’s mum Marilyn gave me a packet of nano-blocks (mini Lego) that would create two ducks. Eleanor was a great help here and we had assembled the ducks in no time!

Eleanor assembling Nano-Ducks

Walking up tired, with tight calves, the day’s biggest effort was a stroll along Muirs beach with Mum, Marten and my dog Pippi. It was an incredibly pleasant stroll, and Pippi ran around, happy as a pig in mud!! The time at Utopia was mostly spent cuddling Eleanor, reading books, eating and napping… being on holidays is exhausting work!

Mum and I at Muirs Beach Pippi enjoying Muirs Beach

Christmas Day we awoke and found the cutest present imaginable under the tree, wrapped in a bright red bow snuggled amongst the other presents was Eleanor. Eleanor celebrated her first Christmas at 8 weeks of age, she wore her Christmas colours and Christmas baubles around her wrists; her parents, grandparents, aunt and uncle showered her with love, attention and of course, a few gifts. With a morning full of family fun, berry and chocolate muffins for breakfast and presents and candy to be enjoyed, this was the day my training efforts came to a grinding halt. We had a fabulous day as a family, enjoying each others company and appreciating a great deal of delicious food!Eleanor's first Christmas

Before I knew it, Boxing Day came around and after a sleep in, I got up only to be treated to an AMAZING pancake breakfast made especially for me by my sister-in-law Anna. With a tummy full once again, it was time for me to pack up and head to Hobart to start packing for the next adventure.

Keep your eyes peeled for the next post…from Malaysia!!!!!

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Dirty Thirty!!!!

On Thursday my life changed forever…I turned “Dirty Thirty”!!!

But you know what really happened…my age incremented by 1, taking me from my twenties into my thirties and that’s it. I know a few people who were fully stressed out in the approach to their thirties, but me, nope, I was more concerned about 25, the quarter century. My mum gave me a great little book for my birthday “Keep Calm you’re only 30” and it’s full of quotes; I think Mark Twain hit the nail on the head when he said “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”

So you may be asking then”What’s so good about being 30?”
What isn’t good about being 30?? I have more independence now than ever. I have a steady job which I like and it gives me the financial independence to do what I like. I’m not stuck in any restrictive relationships that prevent me from doing what I want and I have the most supportive network of family and friends that anyone could ever hope to have. So I am free to live the life I choose. If that’s what being thirty means, then Bring It On.

So I had two days of celebrations, my actual birthday was a long work day with a few highlights.  To share with my colleagues I had baked 3 dozen cupcakes and a batch of ‘like’ cookies. The kids actually all behaved themselves for a change, and my evening class actually bought me a cake! It is such an amazing feeling when you realise that your students do actually appreciate you!!!

I spent the evening at my mums place with my brother and sister-in-law. We had a pancake dinner followed up an amazing cake!!! My sister-in-law is the most amazing cake maker!!!! She modelled the cake on my dog..by the time it was done, the cake dog’s head was bigger than my real dog’s head!!!

On Friday I had a really chilled out day before teaching a class in the afternoon, where they all shared in the left-over dog cake. At the end of the lesson the girlfriend of one of the boys was in the hall outside the classroom and I invited her in for some cake, where I was met by another compliment “It’s a pity I am not interested in your subject, because you seem like a really nice person”. I now feel appreciated by more than just the students I teach, but by those who I randomly come across in the school. (I’m not saying I’m amazing or anything, but it is nice to know that I’m not viewed as some cranky bitch teacher)

In the evening I headed down to Cargo to enjoy some pizza and a few drinks with my family and friends…and even this old nanna managed to kick on until 3am!!!

I’m proud and happy to be thirty! The additional benefit according to Charles Dickens is that “Cheerfulness and content are great beautifiers, and are famous preservers of youthful looks.”

I was spoiled by family and friends, who in addition to getting me awesome presents, made me feel very loved and appreciated. Thanks to everyone who made my birthday so fantastic!

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