I spent the month of January hopping from country to country and city to city. February started out with the same fast pace but I quickly faced exhaustion and anxiety. Something needed to change.
About mid-way through the month I moved on to Christchurch and found respite. I feel recharged after properly doing the “holiday” part of my Working Holiday Visa. Over the past couple weeks I’ve been staying up late, waking up when I want (still usually between 7-8 am), catching up with Nick and his 4th try at love, and enjoying seeing the sights around the city at a much slower pace.
I decided to put off serious job searching for one month. Instead, I’ve been cramming alternate days with brainstorming, planning, and writing. I have some super cool ideas that I’m working on! I can’t wait to implement them.
Some time has been spent catching up on other endeavors as well. Like, updating my resume and Linkedin profile to more prominently include the digital and social media work I’ve been doing over the years. I’m still writing for The Budget-Minded Traveler and now I’m helping Jackie out with BMT Community engagement. It’s a great community, I recommend joining on Instagram or Facebook. I’m also trying to be more actively engaged in Holocene, a community for creative travelers I’ve been a part of for the past year.
Hopefully, with some hard work and serious focus, great things will come in March. For now, here’s the skinny on February.
New Zealand: Wellington, Picton, Blenheim, Christchurch (overnights in blue); Murchison, Saint Arnaud, Hanmer Springs (brief stops while traveling in gray)
Usually, the bus route to Christchurch from the Picton/Blenheim area is along the coast on Route 1. Extensive damage to the roads following the recent Kaikoura earthquake is still in repair. So, the bus took an alternate route through some beautiful but windy mountain roads. The bus stopped frequently on this route – maybe to give those stricken with motion sickness a break – allowing time to get off the bus to stretch my legs in a few small towns.
1. Riding the InterIslander Ferry from Wellington to Picton. I highly recommend taking this ferry. It absolutely made up for the underwhelming experience I had in Wellington. Even on a rainy day, the trip through the Cook Strait is breathtaking. I can’t wait to do it again!
2. Finding solitude and stillness in Christchurch. Giving up on hostel dorms (see why later in Challenges) I’m staying at an Airbnb in Christchurch. I have a large private room with free access to the entire house and unlimited internet. And guess what – it’s the same price as a bunk bed at a hostel in a big city!
3. Being vulnerable and honest. I finally published a post about the fears that travel forces me to face. Being open about the reason behind my PTSD has always been difficult. I have lingering feelings of shame and embarrassment from it. This is the first time I’ve shared it publicly, and I feel very raw from it still. My strengths definitely do not include vulnerability, but it’s something I’ve been working on. The more I share the easier it gets.
Phone trouble. For most of February, I had epic levels of frustration with my iPhone. Touch screen response would randomly stop working, and I needed to hard restart it to get it to work again. It would open apps on its own, type random letters, sometimes even call random people. Sorry ’bout that everyone! If you got a random call from a +64 number, that was me! Over time, it just got worse and worse, sometimes requiring several hard restarts in a row.
I tried all suggestions on how to fix it from anyone I spoke to about it, but nothing worked. I even had three different phone technicians look at it. All of them were as confused about the problem as I was.
I’ve never done any serious damage to the phone. Just a couple of short drops, like from my lap to the floor. I always had a case and screen protector on it. It didn’t have a scratch on it. “Touch disease” has been thrown around, but it’s an iPhone 6 and this phenomenon is usually seen in 6+ versions. It’s a mystery!
Anxiety overload in Blenheim. I had the worst hostel experience of my life in Blenheim. There were so many horrible things about this hostel, I couldn’t possibly widdle it down to a just few sentences. The whole experience warrants its own post.
What I will share now is that I totally had an anxiety attack on my first night at this place. My first one in New Zealand. I was incredibly uncomfortable that first night and I honestly didn’t know what to do with myself. Sobbing, I just sat on my bunk bed thinking that this might be the end of my time in New Zealand. I seriously considered immediately booking a flight home. If the internet had worked for me, I probably would have.
I’m glad the internet wasn’t working. I’ll work on a separate post to explain the night further.
Anxiety & Self-Care
I was in need of some serious self-care in February. I treated myself to one night at a fancy hotel in Wellington. Then a private room at one hostel for 3 nights, before going back to sharing a dorm room at another.
After the anxiety attack in Blenheim, self-care was the priority mission. So, I took myself out for dinner and a movie, even splurging on popcorn, candy, AND a soda. Dinner was chips and guacamole and a glass of white wine but it made me feel better. Oddly, though, this is the same meal I got in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico when I wasn’t feeling well. Weird?
I unhinged myself from my phone and laptop. At first, because the WiFi was horrible in Blenheim and my phone was riddled with “touch disease,” but I quickly embraced those things as a sign that I needed a break. Instead, I went on lots of walks (anywhere to get out of that hostel), watched the Patriots miraculously win the Superbowl, and read a lot. Towards the end of the week in Blenheim, a cute kitten from somewhere in the neighborhood started spending lots of time snuggling up on the hostel couches. I gladly welcomed him onto my lap a time or two.
Once I got to Christchurch, I cooked myself a decent meal and took a few mid-day naps. I went on lots of walks around Christchurch, taking photos and visiting museums and gardens.
I Facetimed with my little MacKenzie a few times. Talking to her always makes me feel better. Even though she keeps asking me when I’m coming back to her house. Her cuteness can be heartbreaking.
Raise your hand if you read more than one book at a time. I think I have at least 7 books that I have started. Some of them I’ve been working on for years now (Anna Karenina is REALLY dense!). It doesn’t help that I’m an incredibly slow reader either.
Although, I have been pretty consistently reading “Year of No Clutter” by Eve Schaub this month. As you can imagine, my interest in minimalism and decluttering is what drew me to this memoir.
The author and I differ because, unlike me, she’s prone to clutter and loves hanging on to things. She resolves every new year to clean a particular problem area but never actually commits to it. Finally, she challenges herself to clear out the “Hell Room” and gives herself a year to do it. Documenting each excruciating step, she describes the contents of the “ForPete’sSakeDon’tOpenThatDoor” room in hilarious and honest detail.
From what I’ve read so far, it is detailing a nightmare I think I may have had in the past. But in such a good and entertaining way! I can’t wait to finish this book and write my first book review! One of the many ideas I’ve been working on this month.
Do you want to read this book, too? Well, it comes out March 7, so you’ll have to wait. If you like, it is available for pre-order on Amazon (affiliate link).
Or perhaps you’re more interested in winning a FREE COPY. Stay tuned for the Day of No Clutter contest that I’ll be announcing on Monday, March 6.
I am able to preview this book before its release by being a NetGalley member. NetGalley is a free resource for avid readers who love to preview books and provide quality reviews.
More Next Month
I plan to stay in Christchurch for the month of March. Keep your fingers crossed for me that I find some work and can stay longer!