Should-less Living

Cruising through the North Island.

I’ve been in New Zealand 10 days now. And since Day 1, I’ve felt this nagging idea in my gut that I want to spend as much time in this country as I can (a.k.a. possibly the duration of my 1-year visa). Every time I have that thought, daily, I start “should-ing” on myself. (Sex & the City reference, anyone?) I should keep my trip to shorter segments in each country; I shouldn’t be gone so long from friends and family and my cat; I shouldn’t keep postponing “real life”…whatever that is.

Shoulds are heavy, draining, stressful. And so, I’ve been trying to focus on being in the moment in this spectacular country and let future plans just unravel over time. This is not an easy task, as someone who previously had what I thought was a proper life plan. With a person. In a place. With a job. With hobbies that took place in the same locations. All the pieces lined up to make an imaginary puzzle. To my eyes, the future was set.

Since that puzzle came apart in one fell swoop 10 months ago, it’s been the social experiment of my lifetime to relearn how to plan, how to function, how to live. Each instance where I’ve jumped into an unknown got me to my current place of complete and total “unknowing” about my future.

When I let go of the shoulds–I should see all the things quickly while traveling, like I’m used to; I should be social 24/7 to always be making new friends; I should constantly be checking messages in case someone needs me–when I let go of those heavy thoughts, I feel like I can breathe.

I’ve been aiming to ease into life in Wellington (Welly) for the last few days. On Day 1, I met the family I’m living with, including the 3 sweet boys I’m helping take care of. I learned (some of) the ropes, and relaxed at night. On Day 2, I learned the morning and after-school routine, caught up on sleep with a nap, and saw more of the Island Bay suburban community when the kids and I went to a DIY craft activity for a festival this weekend, and then to a playground play date. (The realization that I’m sort of reliving my life as a 21-year-old nanny in NY is not lost on me. But I’m in New Zealand!!) on Day 3, I felt more grounded and rested, so I ventured out to explore the beautiful (and windy!) beaches. Today, I did much-needed yoga on the patio, next to a sun-bathing dog.

So, I live in this place. Woof Woof Ruff Beach. (Dog exercise area.)

My lifestyle goals for NZ are to move at my own pace, relax, and know the country is here for me to see all of it in due time–in my time.

(But in complete contrast to that, my first week in NZ was spent zipping around Auckland and other parts of the North Island. Which was an absolute blast.)

In summation: I hit up beaches and hikes around Auckland with a friend. I took a stunning ferry ride to the Coromandel Peninsula and met lovey European traveler friends. We dug our own hot spring bath in the sand at Hot Water Beach. I jumped in a camper van with a friend of a friend I’d never met (but immediately bonded with) and we spent the next few days sleeping in said camper van, driving down and up most of the North Island. (And I didn’t accidentally drive in the right lane. Okay, maybe just at one turn.) We stopped at the Wanderlust yoga and music festival in Taupo, survived without showers for 4 days, managed creative (or lack of) bathroom facilities, and spent the weekend at A Gathering in the Forest music festival near Wanganui. It was the kind of experience best left to storytelling, not blog-writing. 🙂 Suffice to say, a fun introduction to NZ fest culture.

I don’t know where the year is headed. And some days, that feels scary. The highs and lows are inevitable, but I just know it’s gonna be good.

Ferry from Coromandel to Auckland.

Wanderlust festival.

Island Bay, Wellington.

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