Friendships and Families

Yes. This post is my rabbit hole. Please jump in with me and catch up on whats happened since my last post in December 2017. Besides that I will try and add some really good travel photos along the way from our spontaneous trip to New Zealand on New Years Eve.

I felt like Alice in Wonderland, falling for what seemed like an eternity into a dark and unknown place that I was uncertain I could return from. After all, real life isn’t a matter of clicking your sparkly red stilettos’ and finding yourself back in the familiar and warm embrace of whatever security blanket you have that keeps you from sinking. Real life is more like being trapped under the house, hiding behind the big curtain pretending to all powerful, or being caught up in some wild wind – riding nowhere with your face all gnarled up. Only some of the time mind you, but still.

 

I know we all find ourselves in these states of being from time to time, and mostly we get out of them ourselves with the people around us none the wiser. Often this is because we either keep our positivity mask on hoping it can all be magically transformed into some kind of blessing, or we stuff it down with our favourite Krispy Kreme so we can get on with being the ideal mother, wife, and best friend – because putting others first is commendable right? Wrong. Giving yourself the oxygen first puts you into a better position to be who you really are, and that is best for everyone.

 

Late last year I realised that all the sludge I had been trying to “get over” and “move on” from caught up with me after a very close relative took his own life. I was perplexed as to why I was so emotionally ruined by this event long after it happened, it certainly wasn’t a new event for me – I had lost a lot of loved ones to suicide and I have years of experience in death and dying from my previous role in palliative care. It was right for me to be very sad because he was a very important and loved part of our family, but this sadness was much deeper.

NEW BRIGHTON & FAMILY FUN

I enlisted the help of a beautiful woman Emma Barbato (I’ve spoken about her before when she ran “Emazon”), and she helped me pick apart what was really going on. You see, this was just the straw, the catalyst to give me a reason to pull out and deal with all the primal trauma in my life. Along with some significant issues around abuse in my early years, I found that my biggest issue was that death I could do, but rejection I couldn’t. I had built up in my mind that rejection meant I wasn’t good enough – no matter how much of a troll the other person had been to me, somehow their poor behaviour was my fault. What a revelation it was for it to finally click in my head that I had to be enough for myself, set my boundaries, and stop making other peoples behaviour my problem.

Now that I have a somewhat solid grasp on what is the right thing to do for my life, I have been able to look after myself better. I started by making some changes to what I wanted my current and future relationships with friends and family to look like, and how they should function to ensure that it was mutually enriching. These changes did not come easy, and have been some of the most difficult decisions to make.

CHRISTCHURCH CITY CENTRE & BOTANICAL GARDENS

  1. I began protecting my boundaries in my friendships. This meant that one friendship in particular had to be ceased, and was by far one of the worst experiences I’ve had in this process. Sometimes trying to separate a relationship (even with people you’ve been closest too, but had to for the well-being of everyone), can go horribly wrong. Still, I don’t regret for a second the amazing times and memories I hold dear of the better days of our friendship.
  2. Village gatherings because my goal was that I wanted to be part of something greater that just my beautiful little family, I wanted my family to be part of a bigger village so we could all be there to support each other. If you don’t have a ‘village’, who will share your stories and your memories when the children go out and build their own ‘village’? Our Sunday dinners are mostly regular and everyone brings something, other special occasions are also a time where whoever would like to sit at our table are welcome and we’ve been known to have a houseful.
  3. I began asking for what I need without guilt. This one was tougher that had thought it would be but it had to be done. I am allergic to chemicals,  strong washing detergents, perfumes and strong deodorants, and occasionally I end up with a horrible migraine, along with a sinus and chest infection from them. I can manage this issue at work, but my home should be the place I can take a break from it all in. So we have made our house a perfume/chemical free home. It has meant some missed visits and a few disgruntled friends – but after clearly explaining that you wouldn’t rub peanut butter or seafood over someone with allergies to them because it would intentionally cause harm – they began to see my point.
  4. We have begun to really nurture our friendships and relationships with each other by being present. There are a few things we have endeavoured to do to help this:
    1. Putting away our devices when we are in company with others, sure take a photo here and there when necessary, but if someone must have a social media fix make it mutual and short (5 mins), don’t sit there scrolling whilst someone is trying to spend time with you – it send the message that you would rather be somewhere else.
    2. Try to appreciate different viewpoints and values without judgement or the need to be right. This is a tough one because we view the world through our own biases and values, and its really easy to judge the actions of another. I am certainly far from immune from this and I’ve been actively trying to pull myself up and hold myself accountable for it.
    3. Treat people the way that THEY want to be treated, that is something that shows others that you really know them and care about their needs. Obviously don’t throw yourself to the wolves to do it, there is a big difference to doing this and being a doormat, but be mindful of what is important to the people you care about.
    4. I’ve been working on trying to focus on and grow the relationships I have, particularly the ones in which both parties care about the future of the relationship. This doesn’t mean you ditch the ones that suck your energy (you know the ones – you try to spend time together but they are always cancelling for something better, unconcerned that you have made them a priority at that time), you just pace yourself so you don’t get sucked into that vortex.

HANMER SPRINGS & FOREST

 

My husband and I have since been focusing our efforts also on our plan to move to England at the end of this year. So far I have been offered a job in the NHS Trust that I wanted, with the financial support that took some of the stress out of it, and the timing I wanted. Obviously I have accepted it, and I commence work mid December. For our family, our goal is to chase our dreams of travelling the rest of Europe, and striving for our own personal growth by drawing on the wealth of experience and knowledge the world has to offer.

No matter where you are in life, or what your life is filled with – always remember the importance of a village.

 

N.B. If you wish to follow the travel side of our life more in depth, please head to http://www.intrepidnurse.com – this will soon be brimming with travel gems, however my loyal followers here will still get our travel stuff peppered in to this blog.

THE RAPAKI TRACK

 

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STATE OF COMMITMENT

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Ferocious Honesty. Wholehearted Truth. Plucky Candour. This is where my values belong and have for some time, sometimes getting suffocated by my own need to be a pillar of kindness, selflessness, and ever pleasing for the benefit of others. It does me no good you know, this habit of being everything for everyone, nor does it do anyone else any good. Despite being in a profession that is built on the premise of kindness, selflessness, and the best outcomes for others, that premise is nothing but an old whisper of the past – one in which nurses lived in, walked the halls til their feet bled, and were married to their vocation of selfless caring. Certain things had their place in that time, not so in this age where nurses are both men and women, mothers and fathers, and clinical specialists in their own fields with mountainous responsibilities to match. I guess that old whisper has always had a place in my mind – until now.

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For years I have been committed to everything and everyone but myself, myself has always been an afterthought and deep down I knew I would not be able to sustain it forever. At some point I was going to have to be self-caring, selfish, and put my needs first. I knew this because I say these same words to friends and colleagues who are in the same position, only not being courageous to take in on myself and stand firm in my own needs. That time is over, or will be soon as I take step by step in moulding my own life, my own career. This year I have embarked on so many things that threaten to take me out if I don’t heed my own words: research, a 2 year honours diploma, my certificate 4 in fitness, a new business centred around our long-term plan to move and work abroad, and for this my health has suffered with the lacking sleep and lacking time for my own physical fitness.

This year I have taken some steps to move away from things happening to me and into a place where things happen for me. Big difference. This move requires simple but somehow difficult steps. I’m still doing it no matter how hard the steps are. I was bold enough to ask my boss for one set day off each week so I could be mother to my two girls and be there one weekday day per week to do all those mummy chores – and I love those mummy things I really do, they will no longer be there for me to do much longer as my girls grow. I was worried that this was too big a request and that I would be denied, how wrong I was. I was granted this request with the complete understanding that I needed. I added to this my desire to work no more than 64 hours a fortnight unless I expressed the desire to on the odd occasion, or if it was dire to my workplace that I work up. That too has been put in place. I have a wonderful boss and whilst I trust and know that she looks out for her staffs’ best interests, I have a history of not feeling worthy enough – something I am really working on. It isn’t just my work life I have been working on – my physical health I have been too.

When I moved to the Sunshine Coast I had cancer, thyroid issues, chronic and severe allergy, serious and debilitating anxiety, complications from the cyst in my brain, and that was just the start of it. I was recommended by my GP a supplement I had shipped in from New Zealand that really made a big difference and I was able to stop all my prescribed medications, I gave up smoking, and lost a stack of weight. I was doing so well…until a fall at work and a slip on rocks at the beach left me with 2 fractures in my lower spine, nerve damage, and pain that is present even today. That really halted my training schedule and the weight began piling back on. Add to that a few trips to Europe and no desire to abstain from the local delicacies, a ton of self loathing about this, and I am far from where I was before. I am over the self loathing now, knowing that life happens to all of us and knowing that each day I have been doing my best just to stay afloat and keep moving forward. That said, I have also put in place changes to keep moving forward and climb the steep hill back to the fitness and wellbeing level I was at before – looming early menopause or not.

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When beginning back with my fitness journey (ughhhh – hate that word now but cant think of another), I had to be realistic in the fact that I am typical Obliger personality – no matter how much I practise not being that. So in order to get into the habit of self commitment, I have to work with it instead of against it. So I have done the following:

· Enlisted hubby to prepare healthy vegetarian meals using our fabbo cookbook

· Encouraged the kids to start thinking of all the vegetarian foods they can eat for good health and energy – and pack/choose themselves

· Earlier to bed for a good sleep – still working on this

· Monday morning walks at 530am followed by an ocean swim (ok paddle), with a friend who is also an obliger personality – and sticking to this routine no matter how I feel (I can always walk a little slower and not as far if I feel shite), and I have successfully kept this routine even if my friend doesn’t come

· Catching myself in moments of stress and taking a few deep breaths

· Actively trying to let go of the hurts others have inflicted on both me and my loved ones – still working on this

· Beginning a fitness challenge lasting 12 weeks with my beautiful inlaws from across the ditch in NZ…to make it a bit fun

I know I have a way to go before I am back where I was and in a forward motion again, but I am feeling confident in my state of commitment to myself.

SURPRISE! We went to Europe…and the kids had no idea!

“Of all the books in the world, the best stories are found between the pages of a passport.”

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We did something completely unique, something we normally do together as a whole family but felt would lack the wonder and amazement if we shared this secret with our children. We surprised our children with a family adventure to Europe…again. Only this time we stretched whatever truth we had and led them to believe they were going to visit family in New Zealand, when in fact they would be visiting family in England instead. We talked about all the adventures we would have in NZ, explored cost and locations, looked at pictures and vloggers, and we weren’t being entirely untruthful. After all, we were going to do these things – but not for a few more months when we actually did go to NZ – so really we weren’t lying at all…maybe only by omission.

It was a tough prank to pull, particularly when the climate difference is so enormous, and I had to leave room in my suitcase (and wallet) for the extra clothing they both may need. My travel agent was in on the surprise, as were my family, friends, and colleagues…only a few of whom needed a gentle nudge in the ribs to remind them to prevent their foot from entering their mouths. It almost killed me keeping this quiet and I was close to internal combustion I am sure. Never the less, we arrived at the morning of our departure with complete composure and not one hint of what was about to occur.

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Arriving at the airport we got ourselves a bite to eat and my much-loved peppermint tea, and gave the girls their surprise packages. Included were some metro maps, Eurostar confirmations, Paris accommodation confirmation, euros and pounds, and an oyster card for travel. Whilst my little one took a long time to figure it out, my teenager burst into long sobs of gratefulness and genuine surprise lasting a good 5 minutes, and not without many puzzled onlookers. “Are we really?….I cant believe this!….Oh my goodness…I DIDN’T PACK MY MAKEUP!!!” were just some of the comments that escaped her. It really was a priceless go-pro moment (that’s if I actually owned a go pro).

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The flight was much more uneventful that the last and oh…my sister in law actually didn’t know we were coming! We had kept that as a surprise too with the help of her best friend. That surprise was amazing – walking into the restaurant and being greeted with looks of shock was amazing! My poor sister in law had mostly one thought “how am I going to say goodbye when they leave” bless her soul.

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We had an amazing 3 weeks exploring England: Stonehenge, Pluckly (Darling Buds of May), Chatham Dockyards (Call The Midwife – including seeing some of the shooting of the series and meeting cast), and many other places. We did a couple of days in Paris again, because of course that is my favourite place, and stayed near the Sacre Couer. Did I mention we love Paris? And on our way home to Australia after a very sad goodbye with our family, we spent our 24hr layover in Abu Dhabi in a very lovely hotel. I must say that all in all, my stay in the AUE was eye opening and reminded us of the scare tactics media use to try to breed hate and fear. Our time there was lovely and customer service far exceeded anything I have ever experienced here in Australia, and we were treated with complete respect and care – I have decided that we don’t spend time watching, the news anymore and any website, company, or program that has an outcome of fear and hate, will no longer be watched, read, or supported by our family anymore. Life is too short for that rot!!!

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So, I know that I haven’t gone into great detail about our trip and I have much more to share, so head over to Intrepid Nurse on Facebook and Instagram, where you can see live video, photos, and more – like and share so we can grow our life and adventure stories, and so I can connect with yours. Intrepid Nurse will soon grow to be my main travel and nursing hub and this will remain my more personal family things. Intrepid Nurse will soon follow up with a fully functional website with reviews, videos, and more.

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Big question if you will – what have you learnt by travelling to new places?

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A HIDDEN GEM NEAR BRISVEGAS

***** PHOTOS TO BE UPLOADED WHEN MY INTERNET BEHAVES***

Imagine closing your eyes for just a moment and as you take your first bite of the food on your plate you are transported thousands of kilometres away to Greece, or Italy, or Spain…..

Today was such a day. We live on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland and we headed off this morning to Brisbane to deliver a training session for my Certificate 4 in Fitness. It was a great morning, although by the time we had finished training and chatting the day away it was well after 1pm and the natives were getting restless. It would have been easy to pick up something less than ideal at a take away store or service station but we all knew we would hate the dismal choice of vegetarian food and regret how it made us feel afterwards.

Instead we headed for Mt Gravatt Westfield Shopping Centre and headed to the food court outside. There were choices beyond belief – Italian, thai, burgers, mexican, the list goes on, but if we were paying for lunch out we wanted something fresh and delicious to make it worthwhile. Miss 16 went looking at menus whilst we did the same and she came scurrying back to tell us about a funky looking mediterranean restaurant serving some pretty delightful morsels.

We were greeted with impeccable service immediately and shown to a great table that backed on to the new fountain area in the outdoor food court area. The décor made us feel like we were far from suburbia and the energy was classy and relaxed (despite us being donned in workout gear), and no one could feel out of place. Our drink orders were taken and filled promptly, but we didn’t feel pressured to order quickly and make rash decisions.

The menu was spectacular and well-priced, with plenty of choices for all dietary requirements. The tapas menu was extensive and quite well thought out we felt. Our mouths were watering before the food was even chosen and served. We ordered 6 tapas items which for $45 we found well priced, and the serves were quite reasonable in size. We ordered Arancini Balls, Haloumi, and Breads with Dips and each were made with unique flavours leaving us wanting to just have more of the same. For mains Kevin and I shared a delicious salad with buffalo mozzarella, a chicken and salad (yes rare for us as we have been vegetarian for 3 years now, but decided to have this today – lovely meal but meat won’t become a staple in our house for the foreseeable future…content for another blogpost). Mackenzie had a pasta dish that left her very quiet and very content, and after a taste I understand why – it resembled much of the delicious pasta we had in Italy. Lauren had a pasta and scallop risotto that had a similar effect on her, she is quite the seafood lover and although I would love to try it, I am horribly allergic. The wine I had was a delicious Rose from France and worth every cent! So delicious was everything I recommend the food without hesitation!

The owners both work front of house and we found out that the chef is well trained in his art, and that this is definitely not his first rodeo – definitely evident in the food. The owner even took the time to sit by us and get to know us, telling us about the restaurants origins and the vision they had for it. I like when you get to know who you are supporting and it’s even better when they take the time to get to know their customers, something I feel is missing in so many venues now and definitely play a role in where we choose to spend our money.

Not once did we ever feel rushed the whole time we were there, which is a particularly European and Mediterranean way of eating and serving others. If you ask me these beautiful people have all aspects very very right and we will definitely go back again not just for the service and food, but for the sensational and artistic desserts we didn’t have room for (and for the really interesting dessert cocktails more appropriate when we don’t have kids with us). If you are ever down that way, definitely pop in and see them, or make a special trip – you won’t be disappointed.

Do you have a favourite place to eat that is just like you are overseas? Please tell me about it, I would love to hear.

ARE YOU ALL IN?

I don’t know about you but I am totally into podcasts and those awesome little videos on you tube designed to give you a motivational boost or help you see something from a different perspective. I used to think of these methods of learning as totally outrageous in that it felt like you weren’t connected to the people delivering it, but I look back now and realise that mostly I felt un-tech-saavy and far too distracted for such pursuits. I soon came to learn however that these tools just had a different look but had the potential to help me move through different situations in life with new and fresh perspective. I began with podcasts from people who lived on the coast but were well known further afield, but after a year or so I found their messages to lack a certain ‘realness’ that had been there in their early days, leaving me feeling disappointed. I realised though that it was my needs that were changing, so I began to listen to podcasts like Rebelology, Straight & Curly, and Happier with Gretchen Rubin and watching You Tube clips from people like Prince Ea, Alexi Panos, and Preston Smiles, and it has got me thinking about whose dreams I’m chasing.

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Alexi Panos did a fantastic (and very short so its nice and bite-sized) video on commitment, and the difference between having a really good idea and the actuality of actually committing to it. The point she made was that often we get stuck in the planning phase, analysing the processes, the what ifs, the weaving of the safety net in case it all goes wrong and you fall on your face. We get so stuck in this phase though that we completely miss all the opportunities that are in front of us because we are frozen by the things that scare and challenge us. Brene Brown has also made an entire career out of the research of people who are ‘in the arena’ as opposed to judging from the sidelines.

I must admit that for quite some time now my life has cascaded into this Grand Canyon of beautiful chaos, which has meant that I am painting about 5 or more different pictures with no focus on any one potential masterpiece. That is to say that my attention is split in too many different directions and instead of being all in, I’m all in tangles, and I must say I don’t like it one little bit. My mojo is far more Chill 101 than it is Hyperzone 4000!. I’m proud to say that I have been letting go of alot of distractions that no longer serve me or the people I am trying to help because I don’t have a passion for it, but there are lots of areas I can improve upon.

You cannot be ‘all in’ for something if you are splitting your attention 5 ways, you have to get to a point where you choose – and thats exactly where I am headed. It helps to have a clear plan. Particularly when your clear plan is to move overseas away from everything familiar, so here it goes, this is my commit-list.

Complete my Certificate 4 in Fitness
Complete my Diploma in Nursing Specialisation
Develop my website for our 2 year overseas adventure for 2019
Grow my Health Program business

The great thing about the items in my commit-list is that they all culminate in the creation of what I am truly passionate about – health plans that put the planning back in the clients hands…empowering self choice and decision making. Its my “top pot” – my one big thing that I am ALL IN on. You see the difference between a great idea and the outcome of that idea is ACTION.

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IMPERFECT PARENT

I approach school holidays each time with grandiose expectations of being a super balanced mamma by ensuring I get time off, and devote all that time off to super-mumming with baking, teaching those important life skills (don’t ask, I still haven’t figured out exactly what those are), and generally doing things that make me more like all those “normal” mums out there so my children can grow up well adjusted and without too many psychological scars needing therapy later on. Then every school holidays I fall flat on my arse because I haven’t lived up to these expectations. Instead I end up with no holidays per say, spend my time doing chores, running the kids to the stuff they want to do without me because they didn’t realised I had a day off, and of course like many other Nurse mums (as in the medical kind not the breast feeding kind – that horse bolted after 9 months of all-day-sickness) I spend some of that time catching up on sleep that ran away and hid on those work days I needed it most.

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Lets be real though, although many of us feel we have some standard to live up to, most if it is either in our own heads, or is laid out by someone who really has no weight in your life. Either way it’s pretty fucked up and serves no purpose whatsoever. The only thing that comes out of paying attention to it is a whole lot of self loathing, self reprimand, and disappointment. Life isn’t meant to be evenly balanced, and postcard perfect. It’s messy, late, painful and so much more that comes with the good. So I’m beginning to be more understanding of myself and accept that I am still enough, even when the picture in my head doesn’t match up. A good point to make is also that I am a complex being with complex needs and desires in my life, and they don’t all revolve around my children.

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I love my kids dearly and both my daughters know that, on the other hand I am an individual with goals and dreams and aspirations and they understand that too. They have a deep respect that I choose to get p every day and dedicate a significant amount of care and emotion and time to my patients. My kids have seen me in action and they tell me often that they live and respect me for what I do in my work day, and although I do it because I love it, the honest truth is that because I work hard at what I do it allows us to have some amazing experiences with our girls that a tight budget wouldn’t fit.

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So these holidays we haven’t done heaps with only having a few consecutive days off, but I’ve packed in plenty I think. So the first week of the holidays we decided we would do some stuff close to home (aka no further than Brisbane since we live on the Sunshine Coast). One one day I took the girls in to Brisbane to enjoy The Science Centre (yes we are science nerds in our family), and found that for a small amount more we could also go into the Interactive Dinosaur display. If course that was after spending well over an hour looking for a parking lot with spaces – no one told me “Out of the Box” was on and all I wanted was someone to get “Out of the Carpark” before I became manic.

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We chose the Sciencentre first and the kids love it every time we go. My mum joined us for a girls day out and also loved it, getting in and exploring the experiments with us. Mackenzies favourite thing is the “Speed Challenge” where she has to try and beat the speed of a super fast sprinter. Lauren’s favourite I’m sure is the “Illusion Room” where the room appears normal but is sloped and makes you appear to be growing into a giant. My favourite one is the “Giant Table and Chairs” that let you experience what life must be like for a toddler. Of course everyone loves the “Human Head for Dinner” that makes your head look like its the main course, of course it’s just an optical illusion but a really cool one at that. At the moment they have a theme going about weights and measures so if you are a home schooler or have children learning weights and measures at school, then it’s a great place to o see it in action.

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It’s a great place where kids can really be kids without anyone rousing on the for exploring their environment in a very hands on way. My little sensory kiddo coped pretty well too being able to touch everything, run around, and explore – although we did have the issue of noisy experiments at which time we just had one of us cover her ears. I do find though at the end of these sensory filled days she kind of has a melt down at the end of the day, but we deal with them in our own ways. Afterwards, we went into the museum and went into the dinosaur exhibit and wow how cool is this place! Life size moving dinosaurs so plate with interactive components to learn interesting facts.

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We decided to surprise the kids with something fun and frivolous too for the holidays, so took them to Gold Class! Going during the day is great because its way cheaper than at night with the same experience. Really who cares…it’s dark in the cinema anyway. We saw The BFG and loved every minute of it, although I think I might need to read the book again because I don’t remember parts of it (dont worry no spoilers here). The kids also loved it so I’m really glad hubby and I took them, and because they sat n front and he and I sat together it was almost like a date!

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I managed to get three days in a row so we headed to Harvey Bay and dropped our pooch at her second home – my friends house – before heading to our resort. We stayed at Oceans Resort and Spa overlooking Urangan Pier area, and enjoyed beds made and dishes done by the staff, massive spa bath, beautiful organic toiletries, and heated pool.

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It was great to have a BBQ with our friends on the first night and we enjoyed a day of sleeping in, breakfast at the restaurant, and zipping down the waterfront on an electric bicycle – such fun!!! Coming back to work after a pamper morning of massage, facial and foot treatment was really tough…shouldn’t nurses get a pamper every week???? In all honesty though it was a wildly relaxing few days that we enjoyed tremendously.

What have you been up toon our holidays? We are looking forward to our next big holiday though of Hawaii – Oahu and Maui. If you’ve had some great experiences in Hawaii please share so we can create our own awesome experience when we go.

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