Going naked in nature for health

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Going naked in nature for health

Waterfalls are best enjoyed in the nude. I wouldn't say I have always been 100 per cent comfortable with my body, but the decade I lived in Japan certainly released my inhibitions around the female form; bathing nude with women of all shapes and sizes, pubic hair and not, will soon teach you we are all remarkably different and beautiful in our own skin. 

The female body is indeed magnificent. Having observed the changes to my own body over the past eight years since carrying and birthing two children, I am somewhat mind blown at what the female form is capable of. I am certainly not one to obsess over my body, and have chosen out of pure convenience to sway away from wearing makeup almost all of my adult life.

(*Whilst writing this post I popped into the campground toilet block and stumbled upon a young girl no older than 10 years old leaned over the bathroom sinks applying make up. It's 2pm on a Monday during school holidays.)

I have 'life lines' across my forehead and bum; scars of lessons learned, child bearing, and imperfect perfection. My boobs have gone from a decent handful to exploding during child rearing to post-breastfeeding mini cups with 'life-full' nipples.

I have experienced being the only waxed woman in a public bathing house full of pubic hair; I find it so interesting how the Japanese shave their face, arms, backs, and legs, yet find it weird to remove pubic hair, just as intriguing for my Asian friends as to why us westerners enjoy a smooth genital region but let our arm hair grow wild!

The longer I live in a tent, the more I am keen to be naked in nature. Perhaps it's the early swims in the cold lake, or it's those moments spent soaking up the sun on a picnic blanket on the grass outside my tent (both I partake in with bikinis, for the sake of the old caravan travelers with front-row seats to my campsite), but the closer I am to nature the more it has begun to feel unnatural to be layered in clothing.

So when the Leo Monkey and I ventured to local 'secret' waterfalls last week, it was a no brainer that we would get our kits off and immerse our naked selves in nature for a few hours.

With the cascades alive with gushing waters from the weeks of recent rain, and the swimming hole racing with current, the energy transaction of cold, moving water to skin was intense and invigorating. Swimming around the pools naked was an empowering and recharging experience, but I think Remy's cliff jump (and lucky last-minute hand-save of the genitals) was the highlight of the morning.


Aside from feeling free and empowered, being naked is really good for our health. Here are five reasons you should get your kit off more often:

1. Boosts your immune system

Being naked, especially when you are exposing your free body to the sun's rays, increases your body's intake of vitamin D, which is directly related to your immune system. With sufficient levels of vitamin D you are at your optimum for beating off viruses, such as the common house cold and flu.  If you have a nice patch of grass out back, a warm balcony, or know of a local slice of nature that you can enjoy in solitude, then take the opportunity to enjoy some 'clothes-free' time each week.

2. Prevents bacteria growth

As with the rest of your body, your genitals need some time to air out. Vaginas in particular can be prone to bacteria or yeast over growth that can lead to infections. Sleeping naked is a great way to let your vagina breathe instead of having it constantly cloaked in clothing - especially if you are not wearing organic cotton underwear during the days. Sleep naked to help maintain your healthy level of vagina flora.

3. Promotes self-love

Being comfortable with your own skin promotes self-love, something that is profoundly lacking in our modern societies. Getting naked, especially in the outdoors, is a great way to become more comfortable with your body. Take the time to feel yourself, making mental (or vocal) affirmations about the love you have for your body.

4. Encourages self healing

Spending time in the nude is an intimate way to get to know our body and any potential issues or health problems that can arise as symptoms in the skin. What is the correlation to skin problems and physical or mental health? The secret lies in our cells. Biodecoding® is a new way of decoding any type of symptoms (physical, emotional or mental) and resolving their underlying bio-emotional and ancestral cause at the cellular level through a signature methodology. It is a complementary approach to any conventional and alternative treatments, which has the potential to unlock and speed up healing for permanent results.

5. Promotes better sex

High vibes attract high vibes. Feeling confident with your naked self is sexy. Spending time during the daylight hours, especially in nature, with your partner is a great natural way to enhance sexuality and can serve as excellent foreplay. Sex in nature is the ultimate; it is highly erotic and awakens the senses. Just be sure to watch out for unsuspecting insects, snakes, and other unwanted guests when you are getting your groove on in the outdoors.

 

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Wollumbin - Mt. Warning Summit Climb.

Wollumbin - Mt. Warning Summit Climb.

Walking with eyes wide open

We have clocked over a month in the tents. Last week, radical weather hindered my morning WHM and lake swim routine for a few days. The nights were impressive. Cyclonic winds and torrential rain. My brave tent shielded the brunt of the storm but by day break it on the first full day of the storm it was well and truly flooded. The kids survived clean and dry but it took some handy French engineering to drain our main tent site dry, with the interior remaining flooded and requiring a mass evacuation of books, bedding, guitar and didgeridoo. It was predicted it would rain for over a week, and sure enough, it has. The sun displayed some mercy for a half day, shining forth a few rays to dry my gypsy palace just enough to rest my head again.

Backtrack a week.

Wollumbin - Mt. Warning Climb

Seven years in the Northern Rivers region, split between Byron and Lennox/Ballina shires, and until this month I had not ventured up the sacred Aboriginal grounds of Wollumbin (Aboriginal name), aka Mt. Warning. The mountain is the remnant central vent of an ancient volcano, and is a sacred place of great significance to the people of the Bundjalung Nation. It is the first place on the Australian mainland to be touched by the morning sun.

With the charming French monkey Remy by my side, we hit the track mid-morning and reached the summit around noon for breathtaking views and a midday picnic. The trek is more of a steep nine kilometer return walk and climb, and took us just under two hours to reach the summit, passing through subtropical and temperate lush rainforest, wet sclerophyll forest and heath scrubland that has to a large extent recently damaged the track from strong, consistent storm fronts. The climb to the peak ends with a chain-assisted rock scramble before reaching the summit, where we were greeted with sweeping views of the Northern Rivers and Tweed Valley regions. Atop the summit time is best spent soaking in the sun on a picnic blanket; take some snacks and water to enjoy before the climb back down.

The weather was in our favour on this day and we made it back down to Byron Bay just before sunset and the full moon rising, and we sat witness to day merging into night from atop the grassy knoll at Little Wategoes. Dolphins danced at twilight in the breaking waves, runners sweated it out en route to the Lighthouse, while lovers walked hand in soaking in the evening sky's colourful palette.

As we watched the sun bid farewell to our gaze for the last time that day, Mt. Warning soaked up the final rays, visible from our perch in the Bay. It was quite magical to contemplate we had been lying on a small patch of grass eating nuts and fruits at the top of the mountain earlier that day, and were now just a touch above sea level, looking on.

Days like these remind me to walk this world with my eyes open, and appreciate every way this journey takes us, North, East, South and West. With awareness, we can equally learn to appreciated the moon as we do the sun, the wind and the rain, fire and earth. This is wholeness, unity, and necessary for a harmonious, authentic life.

With love and gratitude,

Angie

xx

Nepal Trek for Domestic Violence Awareness

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Nepal Trek for Domestic Violence Awareness

Registration is now open to join our First We Walk Nepal Himalaya Expedition to trek the Gosainkunda Lake region, November 2017, for Domestic Violence Awareness.

From November 15-27, you can join me, my ninja turtle kids, and like-minded trekkers from around the world on an incredible expedition in the Nepali Himalayas. Our trekkers will all be fundraising throughout the year leading up to the trek, with 100% of public donations going to Her Farm Nepal, a non-profit women's agricultural refuge in Nepal growing hope for the Himalayas.

Objectives

  • Raise funds to finance a new Greenhouse for Her Farm Nepal, and a women's micro-finance fund;
  • Host a 3-day 'thrive' retreat at Her Farm (limited spaces available) following the trek, to share skills and stories as a global community (yoga, meditation, Wim Hof Method introduction, agricultural farming, storytelling for film making, holistic therapy);
  • Raise global awareness for domestic and gender-based violence;
  • Inspire unity consciousness.

The Trek

12-days from Kathmandu through the Gosainkunda region and return to Kathmandu.

The Gosainkunda area has been delineated as a religious site. Hindu Mythology attributes Gosainkunda as the abode of the Hindu deities Shiva and Gauri. The Hindu scriptures Bhagavata Purana, Vishnu Parana and the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata refer to the Samudra manthan, which is directly related to the origin of Gosainkunda. Its waters are considered holy and of particular significance during the Gangadashahara and the Janao Purnima festivals where thousands of pilgrims from Nepal and India visit the region. Gosainkunda is believed to have been created by Lord Shiva when he thrust his holy Trident into a mountain to extract water so he could cool his stinging throat after he had swallowed poison.

The main inhabitants of Gosainkunda region are Tamang and Sherpa (of Tibetan origin), whose religion, culture, language and dress are similar to the Tibetan people. Gosainkunda trekking offers an incredible opportunity to experience Nepal's unique combination of cultures, landscapes, stunning mountains and diverse wildlife and vegetation.

For full details and to download the trekkers information PDF, visit: http://www.theaniccaway.com/nepal-2017/

There will then be limited spaces are available for trekkers to join us at Her Farm following the trek, from November 27th to host a 3-day workshop with the women, sharing skills and stories. We will practice yoga, meditation, and breath work, hold a storytelling for filmmaking workshop, learn agricultural techniques from the women, and share stories and sacred space as a global community of women (and men!)

Register your involvement today ad join us to make a change and help end domestic and gender-based violence worldwide.

 

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Ancient volcanoes, and 500 waterfalls

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Ancient volcanoes, and 500 waterfalls

There are over 500 waterfalls in Lamington National Park; we covered three in half a day. If we are falling short of our #100waterfallschallenge goal near the end of the year, we'll hang in the park for a month and cover them all.

This area is oozing with history, and the kids and I soaked it all up on our short 8km adventure along the Main Border Track. Here's what you need to know:

  • The 20,600 hectares Lamington National Park is known for its natural beauty, rainforests, birdlife, ancient trees, waterfalls, walking tracks and mountain views;
  • There are 500 waterfalls;
  • David Attenborough visited and filmed the park while making the 1979 television series Life on Earth in which beech trees and bowerbirds were featured;
  • Lamington National Park is home to one of the most diverse areas of vegetation in the country, including one of the largest upland subtropical rainforest remnants in the world;
  • The roots of the oldest Antarctic beech trees in the park are over 5,000 years old;
  • The park is part of the Shield Volcano Group of the World Heritage Site Gondwana Rainforests of Australia (inscribed in 1986) and added to the Australian National Heritage List in 2007;
  • The plateaus and cliffs in the park are the northern and north western remnants of the huge 23-million-year-old Tweed Volcano, centered around Mount Warning;
  • The mountains in the park are moving. You may not feel it when you are walking through, but evidence is in the valley before you - it is still deepening and widening. It began when the high peak of the extinct volcano attracted heavy rains. Slowly and steadily the trickle of water formed rivulets, and eventually rivers all radiating from the volcano's peak. Valleys were eroded, some deepening to expose cliff-lined gorges between broad plateaus and eroded narrow ridges. Soil creep, landslides and creek erosion still continues today;
  • Elevation in the some areas of the park (south) reaches 1,000m;
  • The Nerang River, Albert River and Coomera River all have their source in Lamington National Park;
  • Aboriginal occupation within the park is suggested to go back some 10,000 years;
  • Soon after European explorers Captain Patrick Logan and Allan Cunningham discovered the area, the timber industry followed including the Lahey family who owned one of Queensland's largest timber mills at the time (1800s);
  • Robert Collins campaigned heavily to protect the forests from logging in the 1890s, but he died before the McPherson Range was protected. Later, Romeo Lahey recognised the value of preserving the forests, and campaigned to make it one of the first protected areas in Queensland;
  • The O'Reillys built their guesthouse in the park in 1926, 'OReilly's Rainforest Retreat', which serves as the starting point for many of the walks within the park;

And the coolest fun fact of all, according to the kids:

  • Marsupial Megafuna (Diprotrodon): weighing in at around 3 tonnes and standing 2m tall at the shoulder, this large, wombat-like marsupial, was widespread across Australia from about 5.3 million years ago, and co-existed with Aboriginal people for thousands of years before becoming extinct. It's believed that a drier climate, longer droughts and changing vegetation, along with being hunted by Aboriginal people, caused the Diprotrodon to die out.

Elabana Falls

The Elabana Falls were the highlight of half-day adventure, and by far the coldest waters I have encountered on our Australian trekking missions this year. When the kids poked their toes in and refused to swim, I knew it was a tad cool. As part of my Wim Hof Method training, I was going in. I lasted around five minutes and felt extreme tightness around my chest and neck; still a rookie in the WHM training but I love observing my body heat up internally as I focus on the inner flame within.

The falls were completely deserted from other humans; tucked deep within the rain forest this is truly a potent spiritual hot spot and my mind imagined early Aboriginals inhabiting these very swimming holes.

Once home the kids were shattered, and jumping into bed that night they exclaimed: "We can't wait to go to school tomorrow! It's such a good rest at school from all the trekking, we just sit around and do nothing."

This got me thinking about my ongoing love/hate relationship with the Australian education system. On the global scheme of things it would seem criminal to complain about the qualities of the Aussie system, but when we don't challenge a system to be the best it can be, aren't we doing an injustice to our kids and future generations?

For us, I'll be continuing to pull my kids out of school for chunks of time, months, each year, taking them traveling around the world to immerse in different landscapes and cultures, ensuring they are exposed to a mix of academic and 'life' education, the latter something I believe is not being taught in our national schools.

 

 

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Mt. Tamborine strike mission and 4/100 in the waterfalls challenge

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Mt. Tamborine strike mission and 4/100 in the waterfalls challenge

For our latest installment of the #100waterfalls challenge, the kids and I were joined by a beautiful couple, Peruvian wife Patti, Australian husband David, who we had met randomly a year ago in a local coffee shop in Lennox Head. Since I first set out to make my documentary Double Barrel, about an oil-dominated surf village in north Peru, Peruvians began to drop out of the sky into my life in Australia. I never had a Peruvian friend before I made the film, now I have a family across the world. Life is so beautiful like that.

Curtis Falls.

Curtis Falls.

Last week Patti reached out on social media, saying her and David had been following our waterfall journeys and would love to come on our next adventure. Early Sunday morning we set out north,  into the luscious rain forests that surround Queensland’s Mt Tamborine. Patti and David met us at the entrance to Curtis Falls - I’ll give away this one as it is well mapped, signed, and even has a boardwalk that prohibits you from entering the swimming hole at the base of the falls.

Experimenting with 360 Insta Nano to capture the feeling of being inside the 'womb' of Mother Nature.

Experimenting with 360 Insta Nano to capture the feeling of being inside the 'womb' of Mother Nature.

We were mesmerized by the trees in the forest as we walked down to the falls. The Curtis Falls Track is nestled within Tamborine National Park, Joalah Section, and protects remnants of Tamorine Mountain's plant communities including areas of rainforest with stunning piccabeen palm groves, tall flooded gums, open forest with bracken fern understorey and woodland. These plant communities provide essential wildlife habitat in a landscape almost entirely surrounded by urban and rural development. Basalt columns, cliffs, rocky outcrops and waterfalls are a lasting legacy of volcanic eruptions 23 million years ago.

Going deeper.

Going deeper.

More laughs, more play.

More laughs, more play.

Basalt and its healing properties

Let's talk about basalt. Until I Googled, I had no idea what a basalt column was, but I had a feeling it was to do with rocks. Here is what I discovered:

"Basalt is an igneous rock that forms from the relatively rapid solidification of basaltic lavas and is one of the most common types of rock in the world. Minerals and trace elements in the ash cloud are extremely beneficial for the planet. The rocks themselves have the basic elements for life including carbon, phosphorous and nitrogen, only requiring water to complete the formula. It is high in silicates, iron, and magnesium.

The fertility of some of the world's richest and most productive farmland is due to the minerals produced by nearby volcanoes.

Basalt and volcanic ash can be used for healing the physical body, remediation of toxic waste, nontoxic ‘enlivened cements’, healing building materials, radiation shielding, etc.

The crystalline structures within basalt can be used for communicators/capacitors. The light emitting from the structures are an avenue for many 'out of the box’ developments - and the microbes within have a world all their own.

The pre-Aztec Pyramid of the Sun outside of New Mexico, is built from volcanic rock and is highly paramagnetic. The Rosetta Stone was made of black basalt.

Basalts are the most productive aquifers of all volcanic rock types.

Rudolph Steiner believed there is rock powders that will pass on the subtle energies received from the cosmic bodies." - Kathleen Smith (Original article).

Full vegan power. In  Divine Goddess Yoga Products  leggings that are the BEST for weekend hikes.

Full vegan power. In Divine Goddess Yoga Products leggings that are the BEST for weekend hikes.

Why thank you Mother Nature for providing us with everything we need to heal and thrive right there! Unable to jump in the swimming hole at the base of the main falls, we trekked deeper into the forest (always going deeper!), and once again struck magic in the form of a high vibrational sheltered swimming hole under the shelter of towering palms. Patti and I stripped down to our bikinis, tip toed into the icy, crystalline water, and reveled in the refreshing pool.

The best free spa you'll ever find is the one nature provides, free.

The best free spa you'll ever find is the one nature provides, free.

At the end of our swim, we circumnavigated the 30minute route back to the carpark, and ventured into Mt Tamborine village for a walk and lunch. There is so much more to see in this area and I feel we barely scratched the surface. Such is the story of every adventure we embark on, and why we won't stop exploring. Patti texted me when we returned home that evening saying it was one of the best days for her and she was so grateful for the experience. Feeling refreshed, revitalized, and rejuvenated.

Recharged.

Recharged.

Wander deep, uncover more.

Wander deep, uncover more.

Don't feel that without financial investment you can't get the R&R you need. I'm all for natural spas and organic treatments, but I think the best ones you can find are out there, under the canopies of towering trees, free for those who dare to go after the experience. And if you can't make it outside for whatever list of reasons, just breathe; you are nature.

Tarzan.

Tarzan.

What is the #100waterfallschallenge?

In case you've missed my earlier posts, after returning home to Australia a month ago following 8 months of global travels, the kids challenged me to take them to 100 waterfalls this year - either at home in Australia, or abroad, and thus began the #100waterfallschallenge (Instagram: @takanamitrouble).

Rooted.

Rooted.

Living Simply for domestic violence awareness

As I write, the kids and I are house-hopping one last time for a couple more weeks before moving into the local caravan park to live in a tent for the year. Our objective with tent life is to promote sustainable living, connection with nature, and to raise awareness for domestic violence. 85% of domestic violence survivors return to their abusers, with many citing financial strain or the fear of a decline in living standards once they leave.

There is a huge lack of funding for domestic violence survivors and the safe houses in our country are appalling, or not available. Despite this, women do not have to feel helpless enough to risk the safety or their lives, and their children's, by returning to abusive environments. I believe that poverty is a state of mind, and that all women have the tools to empower themselves from the inside out. Find out more about how I support the empowerment of women through global trekking expeditions here.

Social Media:

Instagram/Twitter: @theaniccaway

Instagram: Angie @angelahelendavis

Instagram Ryder and Hunter: @takanamitrouble

#100waterfallschallenge

Want to share your waterfall recommendations? Include your comments below.

Peace, love and unity. - Angie xx

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Nightcap National Park Waterfalls Trek

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Nightcap National Park Waterfalls Trek

100 Waterfalls Challenge 3/100: Nightcap National Park

Yes we did it again, and we will keep doing it, until we hit 100, and then we will probably keep going. I don't think I ever really realized that I dig repetitions. If you analyzed much of my life you would notice some patterns for sure (cough cough), but what I am finding fascinating along this journey is that I strangely like a little bit of routine. As long as there's a whole lot of uncertainty to keep things exciting.

So off we went on our next waterfalls excursion, this time to the Nightcap National Park, about 45 minutes drive from our current 'home' in Lennox Head. I won't reveal the exact name of the waterfalls as that's not our goal with this blog series. We want to inspire you to go explore, just as we did, and there are plenty hits on Google if you do some proper research.

Market Pit Stop

We popped into Bangalow on the way for a wee, and behold the markets were on! Score. We detoured for an hour on the hunt for organic doughnuts, and felt a slight second of utter devastation when it was revealed they were not there this day. "Seriously?!" - Hunter.

Having to settle for vegan sushi, vegan mango ice blocks, and picking up a fresh tub of organic zinc (I can't remember the name of the brand but it's a local guy and the product is awesome, I'll grab it out of the car another day and give him a shout out!) we scooted back to the car and onto Nightcap National Park.

The drive alone was beautiful, and having never been to these falls before we were getting excited as we ascended deep into the Hinterland, before finally arriving at a picnic area and car park.

Rhyolite Cliffs

The falls are a plunge waterfall on the Repentance Creek, descending more than 100 metres over rhyolite cliffs once part of the Tweed Volcano.  I'm fascinated with the energy of these waterfalls we have been visiting, and looked into rhyolite to get an idea of what healing properties the cliffs posses. Here is what I dug up on rhyolite:

Keywords: Self respect, acceptance of the past, fortitude

Chakra: Heart

Element: Earth

Zodiac Signs: Sagittarius, Aquarius, Gemini

Rhyolite Crystal Healing Properties:

Rhyolite strengthens mind, body and soul and is useful for past-life healing. It helps us to process the past and integrate it with the present, bringing us peace of mind by teaching us to live in the moment. It aids in bringing insight and resolution to difficulties, stimulating solutions and promoting forward movement in life. Rhyolite enhances self esteem, self worth, self respect and deepens the acceptance of our true self. It helps us to heal old emotional wounds and to deal with challenging circumstances calmly and with inner strength. It is used to aid communication with animals and the realm of Nature.

Rhyolite History and Uses:

Also called Rainforest Rhyolite, Rainforest Jasper, Australian Rainforest Jasper, it is in fact a volcanic rock often patterned in colours of green, cream, brown and yellow. In the 1860’s the German traveller and geologist Ferdinand von Richthofen coined the name Rhyolite after finding it in his explorations of the Rocky Mountains. Rhyolite has been mined since prehistoric times in Pennsylvania in the USA, where fifty small quarry pits have been found.

Rhyolite Geological Description:

Rhyolite is a banded or spotted igneous, volcanic rock with silica crystal inclusions, it has a hardness of 7. It is found in Australia, Germany, Spain, Iceland, Ireland, New Zealand, India, China and the USA

Some cool rock info hey! I'm not sure why I was never into geology as a kid, considering my love of crystals and stones from a young age, but the kids and I are having so much fun learning on our adventures and we try and do a little bit of info-digging before we set off so we can take in the true power of these energetic hot spots.

The Trek

The Nightcap National Park was added to the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Site in 1986. And rightly so. The trek itself descends down into the sub-tropical rain forest, and it's advised you allow yourself four hours return, plus some time at the bottom to take it all in. The first 85% of the trek, let's call it a walk, is quite easy and the kids were almost bored with the lack of 'obstacles', which came at the end with some boulder hopping and easy rock climbing at the base of the falls.

The top of the falls is fringed by wet sclerophyll forest with majestic, tall blackbutt, tallowwood and flooded gums. We saw one Kookaburra in the picnic area, native birds, some giant jumping ants, and we hear there are the occasional koala sightings. As we descended into the valley, we were engulfed in an epic diversity of vegetation, including: Bangalow palm, brushbox, strangler fig, stream lily, tree ferns, red lilly pilly, white bark, stag horn ferns, orchids, and wisteria, among others (I'm good at Googling).

The Falls

The falls are simply stunning. The valley was freezing, completely in the shadows and with a strong breeze pushing in, plus the cascading water spraying all over the base of the swimming hole that captures the falls. The cliffs are spectacular, with stunning spine features naturally carved into the rock. There were a few hikers taking selfies on the rocks, then dipping their toes into the water only to wince in surprise at the temperature. I stuck my hand in and yep, she was freaking cold, made colder by the lack of sunlight, the wind, and the spraying falls.

I stuck my bikinis on and did a few rounds of the Wim Hof Method of breathing, while the kids ate their vegan lunch box, huddling behind the rocks protecting themselves from the water spray and laughing that I was actually going to have a swim.  "Your lips are turning blue already mum!" one of them exclaimed, and they were right. There's not a lot of meat covering my bones and I feel the cold easy, but that wasn't stopping me.

I eased into the water and it was the coldest water I have been in since returning home from the winter in Japan a few weeks ago. Shockingly cold. I had to focus my attention on the breath work and as the pain eased I was able to swim around and only after my whole body started shuddering in the water, maybe five minutes or so (I am still a rookie at this) I went in. My lips had turned completely purple and my body was shaking profusely but I warmed myself up and felt amazing. It was only a small step in my cold water immersion journey - I have some very cold lakes in my not-too-distant sights - but I could feel myself progressing and I had so much energy on the route back and I was ecstatic.

Not even tired...

Not even tired...

If You Go

  • Take water - we left ours in the car;
  • Pack some snacks for the trek, especially if you have little humans in your tribe;
  • Be wary of thieves; I've heard the top car park can be a hot spot for break ins;

*I shoot all images and video on my near-capacity iPhone 6s plus. After years of lugging a DSLR around the world with me, minimalism seems to work best for our lifestyle these days. Wouldn't mind a new GoPro though ;)

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Re-learning to nature: why home schooling didn't work for us

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Re-learning to nature: why home schooling didn't work for us

Cactus Beach and a world away from text books

Hunter (left) and Ryder (right): Follow their adventures on Instagram @takanamitrouble

Hunter (left) and Ryder (right): Follow their adventures on Instagram @takanamitrouble

When a group of mums from my son's primary school gathered last year at a Parents + Teachers meeting with a goal of discussing introducing mindfulness programs at the school, we were shut down shamelessly. I was so disgusted with the manner in which the school dealt with this issue - from the top down - that I soon pulled Ryder out of school and we packed up, sold up all our possessions, and hit the road, then some airplanes, and embarked on an eight-month journey from Lennox Head to South Australia, Colombia, Japan and now back to Lennox Head.

I'll be honest and say that the school incident was not the driving force behind our packing up and leaving. I was in debt following my previous marriage, I was not happy where I was living, I was dreaming of making a transitional move to California via Colombia, and the school situation was just the icing on the cake.

So we took off, and our first stop was SA, and an amazing strike-mission trip over to one of my favourite places on Earth, Cactus Beach. The kids were in heaven. Snuggling up in their own little tent, free to run around the wild, rocky terrain on the hunt for Blue Tongue Lizards, scoping for starfish on low tide, building rock 'cairns' on the edge of the world, and of course, bonfires at night in the desert.

Wild things out West

Wild things out West

Our campsite friend - kept trying to steal the kids' breakkie.

Our campsite friend - kept trying to steal the kids' breakkie.

Ryder had an idea on this trip to make a You Tube series, teaching people about camping and animals, and we tried to film a few clips on the iPhone but admittedly he got a little silly and shy when the camera was turned on him so we might leave that for another year or two. I had also thought to make a little blog series for the boys of their adventures, but really that's just extra work for me, so we created their own Instagram account @takanamitrouble and for now that's enough.

Prior to the trip, we'd been staying with my parents in Adelaide, and mum and I had been trying to home school Ryder. Mum is an educator, with a Bachelor in Adult Education, and with both my sister and I going through the public primary education, private high schooling, and then University, it's safe to say education is a top priority in our family.

I have worked throughout both my kids births, as a freelance/contracting writer and editor, and then full time as an editor in a staffed office six months after Hunter was born. Both kids have been in child care facilities in both Japan and Australia since their six-month-old birthdays, part-time at first then full time when I was working radically long hours. I hated having them fully institutionalized at such early ages and it's not the ideal start to education that I had wanted for either of them, but the centres they attended had a strong emphasis on play, creating, and the outdoors, so essentially they were in good hands and were learning things I couldn't teach them as a busy working mum.

Ryder was meticulous about building the 'cairn'; this took him two days and every piece was very carefully thought-out. He has always claimed he'd like to be a Lego-builder when he grows up, and he took his Lego skills to the rocks 100%.

Ryder was meticulous about building the 'cairn'; this took him two days and every piece was very carefully thought-out. He has always claimed he'd like to be a Lego-builder when he grows up, and he took his Lego skills to the rocks 100%.

The first year of Ryder's primary schooling seemed fine, but to be honest I was heavy into my divorce and was a very disconnected mum from the school. The teacher told me Ryder was a pleasure to teach and he seemed to be learning fine so that was good enough for me. The turning point came last year when he and his friends were experiencing regular bullying from kids 4-5 years their senior, and the school seemed to be doing nothing about it. Insert us mums educating ourselves about the growing trend, and success, of mindfulness programs in other schools in NSW, Australia and the world. The program would have ticked so many boxes for me and Ryder: correcting the bullying issue, instilling empathy, and helping Ryder work with the breath - as we were doing at home ourselves - a necessary tool for his healing after being witness to violence in the home for the first chunk of years of his precious life.

Ryder scoping the pools at low tide.

Ryder scoping the pools at low tide.

So yeah, mindfulness got shut down, we go to SA, mum has some success in home schooling when she introduces project work around animals and nature with Ryder while I'm away on a TV shoot in Tasmania, only I come home to take over the reigns with book work and Ryder doesn't want to have a bar of it. We argue, fight, and I'm still working full time from home so frankly I don't have time for this shit.

Cactus, on the other hand, is phenomenal and I see before my eyes my kids learning. They learn about the tides, native animals, how to make a fire, how to put out a fire, how to put up a tent, why drinking water is precious in the desert, how to make a 'cairn', why there are not many trees out West, why there are salt lakes, and how to entertain themselves with zero technology and no toys. The colouring books come out but mostly they play with sticks and rocks.

Tent life at Catcus

Tent life at Catcus

It was awesome watching them learn, and just giving them the freedom to touch, feel, and sit with nature - the real deal, not pretty pictures in a text book or a video on a screen. I definitely look back over the past eight months and think this was one of the best trips of the entire out-of-school journey, and in fact one of the best experiences of our lives.

Hot days and cold nights.

Hot days and cold nights.

I took photos on the Iphone with the intention of having Ryder create some nature projects to follow up from the trip. It was a good idea. We were pumped. But then the Vegan Festival came to town and the kids filled up with more new knowledge of a different kind (this was the first time we had all met vegan dogs!) and then we jetted off to Colombia and the projects never got done. That's not to say we can't go back to that creative idea some day. The knowledge remains, and maybe it's just enough to have the experience, take a few photos for the memories, and contemplate on all that was learned at his age. I mean, when the alternative is a meltdown at the books and screaming matches between the two of us...well I'm sorry but I'll take some rad real-life experiences any day.

So, the long story short is that the boys are going back to the school, yep the one that doesn't believe in mindfulness. After eight months and three countries I was about to go insane without the boys in school trying to work from different homes, campsites and hotels, and they simply missed their mates and were ready to come back 'home', and go to school.

I have mixed feelings about this decision. The school is beautiful, their friends are awesome, and we are beach-side and loaded with nature. But there are two other awesome schools north and inland that I would have preferred to enroll them; great schools with a focus on sustainability, mindfulness, empathy, meditation, and of course education. What it came down to in the end is what makes them happy. For now, it's structure and friendship, and keeping their feet still for a while. But our journey of re-learning to nature is shining through in every aspect of their lives and the next phase for me on my journey as a single mother is to maintain this process outside of the classroom. This means beach hangs at every chance, outside play, weekend strike missions inlandfor bush walks and hunting waterfalls (check out last weekend's first installment of the 100 Waterfalls Challenge), involving the kids in their food choices and veganism, letting them to play on the yoga mat and observing my own daily rituals, having open and honest communication about everything, and giving and receiving so much love.

Life is a journey, and knowledge can't all be learned from text books. Re-learning to nature: the Colombia installment, is another story for another evening.

Those sunsets...

Those sunsets...

Until then, or whatever I feel pulled to write about before then, I send you all loads of love.

Angie xx

 

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Bush walking adventures and the waterfall challenge

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Bush walking adventures and the waterfall challenge

100 waterfalls challenge: 2/100

Upper falls - after an hour playing in the lower falls we decided to trek another half hour inland...worth the effort when we found these stunning cascades and had the pools to ourselves.

Upper falls - after an hour playing in the lower falls we decided to trek another half hour inland...worth the effort when we found these stunning cascades and had the pools to ourselves.

Happy Easter!

Well, the Easter bunny sure appreciates a vegan family, delivering two recycled jars filled with dark chocolate vegan blueberries, strawberries, vegan Easter eggs, and dried apricots. We were up before the sun, typical of most days, yet instead of taking off on my morning run I hit the yoga mat first thing then went about my rituals of juicing and preparing the kids a healthy vegan breakkie.

We had no plans for Easter except for being outdoors, and with the beaches typically crowded over this holiday break we decided to go off on an inland adventure, about 3hours-ish south and into the bush in search of waterfalls we were yet to discover.

Ryder was complaining of a stomach ache the first two hours of the drive, resulting in me pulling over every 15 minutes so he could try to vomit. I think a few too many dark choc eggs were consumed first thing, a good lesson for my little guy about having rich foods in moderation.

We reached a dirt road and continued into deep rainforest for around 15 minutes before finding where we thought would be the start of the walking track. These falls are not sign posted - the best kind - but being Easter, there were a few cars parked on the side of the road suddenly so we knew we had hit the entrance.

We loaded up on water, a homemade vegan picnic lunch of fresh wraps, fruit and veggies, and set off on foot into the rainforest. This area is quite rocky and the kids loved crawling over rocks and fallen trees as we traversed the dusty, narrow track. It reminded us (on a much easier scale!) of our recent adventures in the Tayrona National Park in Colombia, where we spent two days exploring some epic terrain on foot in the park.

Lower falls and the water temperature was icy.

Lower falls and the water temperature was icy.

We reached the lower falls and spent a good hour playing in the frigid waters; I had suspected the water would be murky after all the recent rain but we scored crystal clear water and full pools. The sun was out and the rocks warm for some sun bathing between plays.

Frrrresh!

Frrrresh!

We left some of our belongings on the rocks and decided to go exploring a little deeper into the rainforest; our experiences exploring waterfalls in Colombia had taught us that the further you go, the more you can find. Such is life. The path was sketchy, slippery, and barely a trail but we made our way over boulders and scaled a small cave and after about 30 minutes we found what we were after: majestic falls without the crowds.

Going deeper...

Going deeper...

I could swim right up under the falls and felt the pounding water massage my skull while the boys played in the shallows. The water was so much colder than expected and I think we will be back in winter to use these pools as training grounds for the Wim Hof Method.

Raindrops keep falling on my head :)

Raindrops keep falling on my head :)

As we played in the pools I took a moment to look back over the past 8 years of motherhood, from living through raging domestic violence to being a lost, emotional single mother, to falling in love again only to find myself back again as a single mother but this time around a whole new woman and, in my heart, a whole new mother.

I realized that I had been living with some kind of contempt from being made a mother so young, in my eyes missing out on all the solo travels I had expected myself to undertake in my 20s. In many ways since my divorce I have been trying to recreate those 'lost years', and whilst I've had some wild adventures on film shoots and travel writing trips, there has always been a piece of me that has not been able to completely feel free since becoming a mum.

Eating the sun for afternoon tea.

Eating the sun for afternoon tea.

Day by day, this feeling has been transforming, and whilst I'm not going to sugar-coat single motherhood, I have realized that my blueprint for happiness has needed shifting. Instead of focusing on what I missed out on in my 20s, I've moved my attention to the epic adventures I can have as a mother of two rad ninja boys as a fit, healthy vegan woman in my 30s. Today was testament to this mindset shift and the three of us had a truly amazing day out in the bush exploring.

Rock hopper.

Rock hopper.

As if reading my mind, at the conclusion of the day the boys decided to kick off the 100 waterfall challenge for 2017. So whilst today's falls are so worthy of a return, it looks like our next waterfall adventure will be to new terrain. And we explored both the lower and upper falls of our secret location today, so that's 2/100 for the year (the five falls I visited on my solo drive from Adelaide to Lennox last week don't count apparently; the challenge is the three of us have to adventure as a family to new falls each time).

If there are any single mums out there struggling with the challenges of the day to day of motherhood, I encourage you to get out and explore your local area. Today's mission was a six-hour round trip in the car (less than $10 in petrol in our Toyota Hybrid Prius), with the kids sleeping the entire way home while I listened to Tony Robbins podcasts. Put the laundry aside, whip together a picnic lunch, throw in towels, hats and water, and don't overthink what you need to get out into nature and explore with your kids.

Upper falls.

Upper falls.

Happy Easter.

Much love,

Angie. xx

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