2023 New Year’s Convolutions!

New Year’s Resolutions and Message – 2023 🙂

What will 2023 bring? Experiences, weather and all things as they are meant to be… is a good place to start 😁

Hi folks a Happy X’mas & Merry New Year to you all from Germany / Switzerland having been in China for 18-months – the longest I’ve been in one country since 2000! 

2022 was another unique, challenging and enriching year, especially in China where lockdowns, uncertainty and misinformation were thick on the ground providing richer than normal learning opportunities… 😋

In Feb I left Shanghai to visit our school in southern China and 5 months later I returned! 😂 Shanghai had a severe lockdown for 2 months where people could barely leave their apartments that I was able to watch from a distance while staying in our Beijing school’s boarding house. The cases started to mount in Beijing so I took off to ChingQing and then stayed in another 4-5 locations to avoid the lockdowns till my visa expiry took me back to Shanghai in late June.

It was rough seeing so many of my friends and the Shanghai population go through the strict lockdowns while myself feeling first elated and then strangely insecure in my life and work in China.

April put me in a hall of mirrors and resulted in a radical acceptance of the world and whatever it decides to present us / throw at us. Some good podcasts from Michael Singer helped me be much more unconditional in my life, relationships and not having to be a perpetual nomad! It seems not being able to travel to over 20 countries a year and ending my partnership with Serafina was still hitting me hard so it was nice to find a new way to see the world, myself and aim towards being back in flow with life, no matter what it presents… 

Since April life has been a wonderful learning platform and getting back to the playground of rich experiences of people, places and circumstances no matter what they are and not bound to having a dynamic travel plan and constant new experiences stimulation.

Putting this into more practical terms I’ve enjoyed a few wonderful constants in my life – running, the running community in Shanghai, work and everything else 😀

Running: I’ve been a part of the Meowjang running group with two tough sessions each week and a long run on Sundays. The community is fabulous on and off the track and it turns out my fitness can go higher and higher and I’ve managed PBs in every distance possible from 1500m to marathon to trail running. A couple of highlights have been my first half ironman (1.9km swim, 90km ride and half marathon) where I got fastest running time and won a cycling top 😜, won my first trail run event in a 32km race where my shoes blew out with 10km to go but managed to use from demo shoes too small for me to win those shoes (but in my own size weeks later!) and finally a marathon PB of 1.43.27 ave 3.51min/km which was completely impossible to me till all this training and putting it together in my first official marathon race… Enough bloating but the biggest take away has been the joy of running, people, community, fitness, health and having a passion outside of work – big thanks Shanghai and China running community 🙏

Work: I’m still the Group Head of Sustainability and Global Citizenship for EiM education group. This is my third year in the job and by far the longest job I’ve ever had. It is a wonderful challenge of being in a corporate environment and aiming to create change from the inside out and engage with our group of schools and a wonderful bunch of Global Citizenship Leads in all our schools. It became hard to visit our schools in China with covid restrictions till it opened up in late Dec so I organised to support our new Ignite program at our school in the Swiss Alps 😂 So I’m currently on the train from my best mate’s place in Berlin to Switzerland. I’ll be in Switzerland till mid-Feb and then on to our schools in Singapore and Seoul and a first time visit to our Green School Bali till April and return to China and see what is happening there!

Teaspoons of Change: continues to roll along with online panels, presentations and the odd keynote. This year saw a lot less engagements with EiM and ToCh of just 78 gigs with 6735 people but still moves a collective total to 1810 presentations to 156,557 people over the years and something I continue to feel proud of and aim to share some lenses and approaches to global citizenship.

I continue to enjoy the huge metropolis of Shanghai, a normal’ish job and 2023 might see me explore a new union with a lass from Yorkshire who I met a month before then taking off for 4 months, as is usually the case, but at least just 4 months and not 4 years away…

So it seems I will be floating around the world a little more in 2023 and China might even open up to visitors. No matter what happens it will be a year to embrace, learn from and dance with as best we can with whatever comes our way… Hope to connect with you and wishing bests for your set of 365 this lap of the sun 😁

Below are the NY Convolutions for 2023 and a scorecard on 2022…

Big hugs, best wishes and happy moments to you all! d’Arcy. xx 

2022 in pictures below…

New Year’s Convolutions 2023 and review of 2022!

For 2023…

New ones

Make computer folder names more fun and exciting
Find an example each day to say ‘this is a happy moment’ 
Look up! Appreciate all that world that exists way above eye level!
Some crazy running challenge or extending my ultra runs and trail running… Details TBC.
Make sure I cook my own food on the 30th of the month (China is so easy to just buy meals everyday!) and be sure to have jelly with it! Not made jelly much since my 2010 NY resolutions

Carryover from last year(s) to do again (some of them for a long time now!)

Catch 25 leaves! Upgrade from 20 leaves in 2022 and must be different leaves, from different trees, on different days… 👍
Spot a rabbit-shaped cloud – It is the Chinese year of the rabbit, still need my tiger before CNY! 
Favourite colour in 2023 is light blue! Toyed with aqua in the past and always liked navy blue
Repeat – Meet someone from Angola! Didn’t happen in 2021 or 2022…
Repeat – Continue to not buy a single bottle of plastic bottled water – 11th year in a row
Repeat – 4pm each day pause for four DEEP breaths and connect with everything and nothing!
Repeat – Leave voice messages for kids birthdays – Love doing this so much – add your kid to the list if you want a message from me to them (and I have your WeChat / WhatsApp!)
+ the more common (boring) ones of push-ups, chin-ups, didgeridoo practice, Buy Nothing New Month in October & not using big towels…

Always find new and exciting ways to add plenty of Teaspoons of Change to my life and the world! ✊ 😊 🌏

The resolution results from 2022…

Conduct a poll on what people prefer: left or right; odd or even; north or south – add your answers here and no fence sitting!This was great – see results here: https://forms.gle/USLgmXadxxZ8xsgbA Results overview below…
Lay in bed till 10am at least once this year! I did it when I was in hotel quarantine in China in 2021 and it was such a novelty and worth doing again at least once more in my life! 😉 Didn’t do it in 2022 but did manage after a night of celebrations and dancing on NYE and slept till 10.30 on 1 Jan 2023! 🙂
Develop a closer relationship with trees swaying in the wind – I think there is something a little hidden and beautiful in that… So closer attention to trees and the wind in unison Totally, the streets of Shanghai are perfect for this and I’m in trace with the movement of tress and leaves while catching a few!
Try to use the word bumrush in 3 different contexts appropriately – the more formal the betterMaybe only once and it was a good one but it just isn’t a natural word for an Aussie so didn’t peel it off 😜
Run a marathon each month as a part of the Insanity Challenge 2022Complete! Not always easy with lockdowns and extreme heat in summer but DONE!
Catch 20 leaves! Different leaves, from different trees, on different days… 👍Good start, slow middle and solid finish in Chinese autumn. 20 done by early Dec and then 25 for the year ✊
Find a tiger-shaped cloud – I’m in China, it will be year of the tiger & shout out to the UrbanTigers running group in Shanghai! Nup… Got a couple more weeks till Chinese New Year and then it will move to a rabbit so let’s see! Good tiger Strava art however…
Favourite colour in 2022 is red! Has an aura in China and not a colour I’ve liked much in the pastLots of red appreciation opportunities to celebrate communist red! 
Repeat – Meet someone from Angola! Didn’t happen in 2021…Not again but not surprising as not many people entering China this year…
Repeat – Continue to not buy a single bottle of plastic bottled water – 10th year in a row✅ Was better prepared for hot Chinese summer with water bladder backpack!
Repeat – 4pm each day pause for four DEEP breaths and connect with everything and nothing!Not always 4 breathes but always a pause to know there is a non-duel world out there
Repeat – Leave voice messages for kids birthdays – Love doing this – add your kid to the list if you want a message from me to them (and I have your WeChat / WhatsApp!)I really enjoy this but did notice I was a day or two late most of the time so want to be on time more this year!
+ the more common (boring) ones of push-ups, chin-ups, didgeridoo practice, Buy Nothing New Month in October & some more Mandarin learning…Fail on Mandarin learning other than the variety of steam bun options and sustainability vocab and a bit behind on push ups and my huge pecks 😂
Change my ring tone each year with the song I’m into at that time (switch from Hang Massive to Mos Def to now didgeridoo hip-hop!Want to do this with my new fav music from ExP a Yorkshire rapper 👍
Spend at least 30 mins playing my didg once a weekFail. But do bust it out for office events!

Great poll results for the poll on what people prefer: left or right; odd or even; north or south

What a spread across the world!
Forms response chart. Question title: Location. Number of responses: 29 responses.

Female over representation but that can be put down to male laziness so all valid!

Forms response chart. Question title: Gender. Number of responses: 29 responses.

Question 1 and seems we are still a little bias towards the right but pretty close. Personally I prefer left as it is my preferred leg for kicking in footy but nice to see a balance of preferences 😂

Forms response chart. Question title: Question 1 - which do you like better: left OR right?. Number of responses: 29 responses.

I can’t for the life of me figure this one out… How can people prefer off over even! 

Forms response chart. Question title: Question 2 - which do you like better: odd OR even?. Number of responses: 29 responses.

This one might come down to the 31% representation of Antipodeans in the poll…

Forms response chart. Question title: Question 3 - which do you like better: north OR south?. Number of responses: 29 responses.
Might see you in sunny Shanghai! 🙂 xx
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2022 New Year’s Re-Constitutions!

New Year’s Resolutions and Message – 2022

Super Simple Sunny Shanghai Start to 2022!

Hi folks a Happy X’mas & Merry New Year to you all from Shanghai, China which is now my ‘home’ and has been since Earth Day 22 April 2021…

It was a messy start of the year in 2021 as I was still in the uncertain and unprocessed stages of visas and heartbreak (through mutual agreement I must add [for the heartbreak]). I was meant to be on a flight in the first week of Jan to my new life in China and run away from Adelaide which couldn’t come soon enough! It didn’t come soon enough, and visa delays had me there till April where I had to process emotions and deal with personal challenges for the first time in my life without running away! It sucked but everyone says it makes you stronger, hmmm maybe 😉 

Anyway, I finally did get a visa and was delighted to be on a plane and set to be living in China. I felt a greater sense of freedom in my hotel quarantine room for 14-days than I had felt for the 4+ months before that… I certainly know I am made for a foreign life and living in a place that I didn’t grow up in. Nothing wrong with Adelaide or Australia but just not for me as a place to live for now!!

Part of the obstacle course I set up in my quarantine hotel room and getting through the legs of the chair! 😉

Since being in China and based out of Shanghai from April I’ve been loving my work, life and this new way of being where I have a job, get paid and live in Shanghai – so strange! I keep it a little unpredictable by moving apartments every couple of months so I don’t get too ‘settled’! I love living in different places as they each carry a different feel, experiences and strong memory stickers.

My job is with the EiM group of schools that includes Dulwich, Dehong and Green Schools. I’m Group Head of Sustainability and Global Citizenship and get to spend a week or two in each of the schools in China each academic year so still plenty of travel and nomadding, just within China. I’ve been learning a lot about carbon mapping and ESG (Environment, Social & Governance) reporting and how to make it relevant, educational and real-world for our students, teachers, staff and schools. It’s the first time I’ve done depth instead of breadth work since, maybe, forever 😉 

Outside of work I’ve gotten into running in a very new way than ever before. I’ve been running since I was 6 years old when I’d run my dog by the railway line in Kadina. I’ve always loved running and before this year had done a few marathons and would run at least once a week. I hadn’t ever formally trained, been in a race or taken on running as a sport. Three days out of quarantine a school colleague invited me to do a 10km race before dawn on the Bund in Shanghai at 4.30am. I ran, came third and couldn’t walk for a week since I hadn’t run for two weeks being in a hotel room 🙂 What it did is connect me with the running community in Shanghai and that has been my passion and crew since! I’ve been training a couple times a week, run plenty of community organised races, run all kinds of PBs, taken on new physical challenges that even I didn’t think was possible, and made some wonderful new friends. 

So this new year’s day I put on some shoes, carried a backpack of food and water and went for a run along a few rivers in Shanghai. 10.5 hours later I’d run 105kms! Running has become a lovely part of my life in Shanghai… 

In an educational sense I’ve been lucky to continue to present in our schools and online and I still love speaking to audiences and engaging with them… I managed 110 presentations / workshops to 8796 people from global citizenship competencies, carbon mapping, Teaspoons of Change and anything else people were fascinated or forced to listen to! 🙂 I’m proud that in the past 11 years I’ve managed 1732 presentations to 149,868 people. The numbers matter to me as it is a thermometer for my way to do something in the world that tries to add Teaspoons of Change that I love doing, and I hope makes a tiny contribution to a better planet and society…

On a panel recently where upon entering the zoom room the Prime Minister of Barbados was in full swing with a Monsignor from the Vatican was next followed by the Minister of Education from Greece and some guy with a Teaspoons of Change background after that 😉 

This year it is New Year Re-Constitutions as I think we are all having to reinvent ourselves and rephrase everything in life! I wish everyone the very best in your slice of life for 2022 and send good vibes and hugs to you all… 

Here are the NY Re-Constitutions for 2022 and a scorecard on 2021 🙂 


New Year’s Re-Constitutions 2022 and review of 2020!

For 2022…

New ones

This is the one I’m most excited about – conduct a poll on what people prefer: left or right; odd or even; north or south – add your answers here and no fence sitting!
Lay in bed till 10am at least once this year! I did it when I was in hotel quarantine in China in 2021 and it was such a novelty and worth doing again at least once more in my life! 😉 
Develop a closer relationship with trees swaying in the wind – I think there is something a little hidden and beautiful in that… So closer attention to trees and the wind in unison 
Try to use the word bumrush in 3 different contexts appropriately – the more formal the better
Run a marathon each month as a part of the Insanity Challenge 2022

Carryover from last year(s) to do again (some of them for a long time now!)

Try to catch at least 20! different leaves, from different trees, on different days
Find a tiger-shaped cloud – I’m in China, it will be year of the tiger & shout out to the UrbanTigers running group in Shanghai! 
Favourite colour in 2022 is red! Has an aura in China and not a colour I’ve liked much in the past
Repeat – Meet someone from Angola! Didn’t happen in 2021…
Repeat – Continue to not buy a single bottle of plastic bottled water – 10th year in a row
Repeat – 4pm each day pause for four DEEP breaths and connect with everything and nothing!
Repeat – Leave voice messages for kids birthdays – Love doing this – add your kid to the list if you want a message from me to them (and I have your WeChat / WhatsApp!)
+ the more common (boring) ones of push-ups, chin-ups, didgeridoo practice, Buy Nothing New Month in October & some more Mandarin learning…

Always find new and exciting ways to add plenty of Teaspoons of Change! 😊

The resolution results from 2021…

Change my ring tone each year with the song I’m into at that time (switch from Hang Massive to Mos Def to now didgeridoo hip-hop!Since moving to China everything is phone-dependent, it’s quite stressful, so haven’t reset phone tone but good reminder to do this!
Spend at least 30 mins playing my new didg once a weekFail. Lots during quarantine but not much since then so keen to do more!
Try something Chinese and new since I will be living there – language, cooking, hip-hop dance, indoor sport in winter, maybe a tai chi or chi-gong or some Taoist pursuit…?Have listened to more Taoist stuff including the Tao of Pooh (bear). Got a couple tai chi lessons lined up!
Repeat – At 4pm each day pause for four DEEP breaths and connect with everything and nothing!Not bad and got a good morning meditation practice going…
Repeat – Never been big on flossing so I will make sure I floss on Tuesdays and Thursdays each week, at least!Not as routine as Tues & Thurs but def. a part of my oral hygiene practice now!
Try to catch at least 10 DIFFERENT leaves falling from trees throughout the year Totally nailed it. 20 leaves! Set a new bar for 2022 of 20 leaves – join me!
Find a sheep-shaped cloud – failed it a couple years ago but still believe I can see one! Sort of, not great but ok sheep version – see below…
My favourite colour for 2021 will be purple! Just like my tiny house in New Zealand Stuck to it as much as I could remember and realised I do like purple overall
Repeat – Continue to not buy a single bottle of plastic bottled water – 9th year in a rowTough in Shanghai summer running in a puddle of sweat & some dehydration!!!
Repeat – Meet someone from Angola!Fail. Carry over to 2022 and such a small African presence in China… Might need to the embassy in Beijing 🙂 
Repeat – Leave voice messages for my friend’s children’s birthdays – Love doing this – add your kid to the list if you want a message from me to them (and I have your WhatsApp!)Did this again and love sending a random message from a random place for kids b’days. Hope they like it too! 🙂 
NEW – Run a half marathon once a monthNailed this one and ran about 5-6 full marathons in 2021 🙂 

A look at 2021 in Pictures… 🙂

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Another Birthday, Another Country & Another Life

29 May 2021 – Shanghai, China

I missed sitting, watching and reflecting at sunrise today as I usually try to do on my birthday each year but that was because I was up before the 4.53am sunrise and on my bike to meet up with a friend, Chris, to go on an early morning adventure… 🙂 

I had been a little hesitant with my birthday this year in a new place, new job and new kind of life that is more different than I’ve known for a long time – not living in a foreign country but still getting over a strange year of COVID, living in Australia and the mutual end to a 5-year relationship so I new this b’day was going to be different!

Knowing it was going to be different and maybe a tad lonely for the first time ever I arranged a catch up with a few new friends for noodles and a pool hall hit out in the evening but before then my new running friends Chris and Matt had some adventurous expenditure of energy planned…

So going back to 5am Chris and I heading on the relatively empty streets where there was a mix of the night before’s traffic and misfits, along with the early morning misfits out to beat the traffic and heat! We navigated the most city parts of our journey towards our destination – a lake for a swim… I should say that Chis navigated us towards the lake as I am still in follow mode and enjoying not being camp leader for a change!

Just as we got towards the roads opening up and the riding being a little more freer I noticed a softer ride over bumps and less vibrations running through my bike seat and posterior – that means a flat tyre! Being new to Shanghai and a rookie error, I didn’t pack a spare tube, tyre levers, pump or pretty much anything to fix a flattie! Luckily Chris did! My new custom built folding bike has unique thin tyres which means hard to find a tube and even harder to patch punctures. I did try to patch it up and got maybe 2km down the road before my ride was feeling too smooth once again…

Luckily it wasn’t far from a metro station so I locked my bike there and was able to make it to the lake via metro train while Chris rode on to rendezvous again there.

A slight detour via random building with a squat toilet to add to the Chinese birthday experience and down to the lake edge. It is very likely a humanmade lake and not known as a local swimming spot and we actually weren’t sure if swimming would be allowed as China and Shanghai can be quite strict on these things but we figured we were early enough before 7am and security guards to be asleep or not on duty yet! None present, so on with the show! It actually did become a bit of a show as we went out in the lake swimming and a few people gathered on the bridge to watch! The entry point into the lake was quite lovely with a small grassy spot and tiny beach to walk into the slight murky water where you couldn’t see the bottom after the first step! It’s not the most polluted water I’ve ever swam in but it isn’t the cleanest either, certainly not like the waters of Pt Willunga from the past 12 months I’d gotten used to in South Australia!

It was the pretty much the first time Chris had swam in open water so he was a little nervous but did well and able to kick onto his back to relax and make it across to the other side without needing a rescue mission from me! Swim back to our little beach (with the bridge spectators) and our morning mission of swim in the lake was complete physically and legally!

I got back on the metro to our nest stop, the sakura cherry blossom park with Chris on bike to reach soon after. There we met up with Matt the third member for the running leg. Tickets into the park, a bike move because these security guards were awake and their lamp post was not to have a bike locked on it but the one 50m across the street was allowed…

A 50-minute nice run through the park getting mostly lost but with it not being important and ticker over the legs and banter. Post run I ducked into an outdoor store to get a tube and pump to see if I could get my bike back up and running and onto the Metro to reunite with my bike. Two stops later I realised I didn’t have tyre levers so no way I was going to get a tube on or off my bike anyway…

Back at the bike I knew my only options were:

1. Fold it up and carry it on the metro with some begging since bikes need to be in a bag to travel on the metro (my preferred option).

2. Try and find a place that could replace my tube and fix my flattie (unlikely anywhere near that metro station).

3. Pile the bike in a taxi and take a taxi of shame back home (I am not a fan of taxis for those who don’t know that about me). 

So option 1. was my starting point. It didn’t start well. Security guards said no and go and speak to the train ticket person. She said no and then I explained I had no other options (not giving options 2 or 3 a chance at that stage – those options were always back up back ups!). She was sympathetic 🙂 which was a wonderful surprise and didn’t need to fake cry! She did insist on it being wrapped in big black rubbish bags so I harangued the bike into big black rubbish bags. On my way. But wait, the next lot of security guards said no… I was with now 3 official train people and said no it is ok, see I am with these people… Still no. I spoked to the situation loudly and unexpectantly feeling so close to freedom to get home and seemingly tripped at the last unexpected hurdle… Security guard then let me through… I apologised and thanked them and carried my big black rubbish bags with my bike in it down to the train!

Made it back to my wonderful very Chinese apartment happy with my metro luck, replaced my tube with my spare that was left in the apartment and then headed out soon after to go pick up a bed sheet I’d bought on the Shanghai second-hand WeChat group and an osculating fan from the same group 🙂 Managed to mostly fit the fan in my pannier!

Late’ish in the afternoon and hadn’t done any birthday type things or treated myself and starving so got some Chinese type pastie / large spring roll type things and an ice cream treat! I was meant to then go and pick up a second-hand blender from the WeChat group but in the meantime my ‘landlord’ connection – the cleaning ladies who rented me this room said the real landlord wanted to come and have me sign the contract for my 3-month summer residency… I had been a little worried I might get charged twice for rent since I rented the room accidentally from the cleaning lady service for the room and not the actual landlord but that is another story to be titled – d’Arcy rents a room in Shanghai in the most unorthodox way.

I meet the landlord with no shirt on and very sweaty from riding, swimming, running and walking and he gave me a grace period to have a shower while he organised a few things! He came back to his son and daughter-in-law, who speaks English, as well as his wife, two grandchildren and then the cleaning lady / contract lady and her boss and one other person I still don’t know their connection to anything! We piled into my tiny room with the bike taking up most of it – and I giant fridge that I don’t use. We filled out some paperwork, I’m told I won’t need to pay any extra on the 3 months I already paid upfront and then they seemed to have a 15-minute meeting in my room that didn’t seem to have a lot to do with me. It was starting to get close to the time I needed to meet my friends for dinner so I ask politely if we are done as it is my birthday and I’m meeting friends for dinner.. I got a big burst of well wishes for my birthday as well as how young I seemed for 43 today! Feeling good about myself and they seemingly worked out who gets the profits from me paying too much rent (my interpretation of that meeting) we all left with smiles and a feeling of cultural connection (and profit on their side I’m sure! 😉

I headed pretty much just across the road to meet people for birthday noodles and pool hall night of pool! A couple of teachers from one of our schools and three running friends converged and off we went for Xi’an style noodles. The noodles are like a deconstructed lasagne in a bowl and good local spot that seemed to appreciate having large mostly foreigners sitting around a tiny table to eat noodles. I didn’t have a drop of alcohol in my 42nd year and I don’t see myself drinking much at all from here onwards but I did have a shandy (beer with lemonade) since 0% beer hasn’t really made it to China yet!

Good local food, good company and off to the pool hall we headed. We didn’t know what to expect as there was a diverse range of pool hall experiences from the group ranging from some pretty dark, dank, dangerous ones in the UK to white glove service ones in east Asia. This one was very clean and very bright! Of all the places in China to be smoke-free this was one of them! Good to play pool with a bunch of people, and not good pool played by our bunch of people!

The running social scene makes for early nights and since Chris and my morning had started at 4.30am this day by 9.30pm we were done and everyone headed happily home!

A bit of a long and boring recount of a day that is really only special to me but nice to have done a variety of things that aren’t that special but go together to make a memorable day like so many birthdays before in my very lucky 43 laps of the sun.

This birthday has felt very different in a bunch of ways but as I close out tonight before signing off for this birthday I’m excited by my next set of 365 as I think they will combine to make a very different year than many in the past 21 years of being mostly a ‘nomad’. I know there is a change in the air for me in some way shape or form, as I am sure it is for everyone after the past 15-months of COVID but I’m really unsure of what I will be reflecting on this time next year and what it will look like… 🙂

What I do know is I am a very very lucky person. I have a job I love. I’m living in a foreign place which I love. I don’t have someone special, which is different for this b’day from the past few but I love I will be a different person than I’ve ever been before in the coming year… For the first time in a long time, I’m in no rush or intensity towards capturing the most out of life and here to live life in new and meaningful ways that I still don’t know what that looks like. I’m happy, healthy and human – that is enough for now and see where this all goes… 🙂 

Looking forward to working with you world – let’s have some fun!

xx d’Arcy.

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Time to Think and Act on Sustainability in a Hotel Room

Clearly, I’m a captive author writing another blog on a laptop when I already spent the majority of my week working remotely in front of a screen 😉

It’s day 10 of 14 for my hotel quarantine in Shanghai and my enthusiasm for finally being in China and being back in my nomadic vibe has lost its lustre a bit but I’m getting closer to the end and still appreciative to be close to starting a new chapter of living in Shanghai and China. Why I’m in Shanghai is because I have a role with the Dulwich / Dehong group of schools as the Group Head of Sustainability and Global Citizenship. Utilising my title and passion for sustainability it would make sense to think about my positive Teaspoons of Change while staying in a hotel room.

Firstly, I prefer hosts than hotels and ask to be ‘hosted’ over being put up in hotels for all my work and travels. Not really an option for quarantine!!! 😉 So, while having an extended captured stay in a hotel room it is worth thinking about some of the most sustainable ways to stay in a hotel. Every hotel is different but this is actually a pretty good example of a standard hotel so I feel these tips might be useful for most hotel stays…

So here is a list of hotel room Teaspoons of Change I feel I’ve been able to enact to make small but significant positive impacts:

  • Unplug the fridge – I’m pretty used to living without a fridge, it’s not the middle of summer and I get served 3 meals a day and make sure I consume them within 24 hours
  • Zero food waste except for eggshells and apple cores that I have in a separated bag that may go to compost at the end of my stay (likely not but good to be living the habit eh!
  • I find when live without a fridge or with a small fridge you have LESS food waste – try it… 😊
    • No bottled water. I’m 9 years into not buying drinks in plastic bottles and I have been given a 24-pack of bottled water to use but I’ve also been given a kettle so twice boiling tap water should render it safe – so far so good! Plus, the bottle water in a tight pack has made for a great set of weights for exercise!
  • Turn the A/C off. Luckily, I have a window that can be opened in my room (less than a head width – even my skinny cranium) actually it can’t be closed properly. The first few days were chilly coming from summer in Australia but nothing a jumper and warm slippers couldn’t fix. I’m also not that keen to be pumping air in my room from a COVID hotel A/C 😉 As much as possible turn off the A/C and I have been known to ask for a fan in hotter places and they usually find one somewhere or when possible I usually get cheaper accommodation anyway that will likely have a fan instead of A/C
  • Keep your rubbish organised. They must think my room with be a dump when they unweld the door open after 14 days (joking I can open the door to collect my meals). I have soft plastic together, cardboard, and my plastic meal trays washed and stacked (the irony of not buying a drink in a plastic bottle but able to float back to Australia on the plastic trays consumed while I am here). It is very likely they will put it all in a big black garbage bag and send it all to landfill or incineration but at least I am giving them the chance to recycle if it is possible and I am maintaining my usual habits – even on holiday / quarantine!
  • Refuse the unnecessaries. The ultimate of the 5 Rs – Refuse, Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. My meals were coming with a new set of disposable chopsticks and spoon. I always travel with my own cutlery so don’t need them. I asked for them to not give me a set but they seem to only do that about half the time. I have rung them enough now that they do their best but you never know who is working that day or they have a lot of rooms to cater for so they still keep on coming from time to time. This is annoying for them but it does also makes a little point of conversation as they know I try to not create any waste so at the moment I am the crazy foreigner but if other people do the same it may become the norm???
  • Vegan please (if possible…). I’m a flexitarian for the reason of this very situation. I try to eat vego and vegan as much as possible. My breakfast here comes with an egg and little carton of milk. I tried for a few days to ask for no egg or milk but this message didn’t seem to register and I get limited food here with my rapid metabolism so I’ve just had to suck eggs on that one 😉 – but again asking is worthwhile and even the rejection is still a step forwards; if enough people ask they may one day cater for morons like me… or not; but doing and saying nothing guarantees change can’t happen!
  • Use your own stuff. There are little shampoos, toothbrush and toothpaste and other things but using your own means less use of those single or short use items – simple. As cute and sentimental a mini shampoo is you can still admire it and use your own!
  • Unplug at night – TVs, laptops and all those things that use stand-by power
  • Put up a Teaspoons of Change and Global Goals poster 😉 I had them with me so they get a place in my room and good background for my zoom calls! This one might be optional but you can get them on the Teaspoons of Change website!

Exercise. I’m a runner and rider not a workout kinda guy but running ain’t really an option so I’ve been following a UK guy who sounds like Russel Brand and doing HIIT workouts – I don’t even know exactly what HIIT stands for – high impact something training? But I’ve grown to enjoy them now and 10 days later I can chuckle and not have every muscle in my body go into spasm! These are hard work! Muscles being used that I only knew from my exercise physiology texts books at uni! I’ve also finally got into a bit of light yoga – more of that in my life to come I reckon… I also brought push-up bars that I’m not scared of anymore having been stiff for days initially! I also brought a chin-up bar but a screw came loose somewhere in transit rendering it useless for quarantine…☹

  • Meditation. Morning and evening and so important when in a hotel room for 14 days with no exit. Keep the mind clear (as much as possible), breathe deep and connect with yourself and this unique experience. I love the Insight Timer app…
  • Other things I’ve brought for passing time are a didgeridoo – no complaints from my neighbours (I think) and my vocab cards for learning Mandarin – I just hope I haven’t stuffed up the pronunciation and have to relearn them all again!!!

Having come from living in my self-sufficient Happy-Simply tiny house in South Australia to this situation could have made me go a bit crazy and anxious, especially at the barrel of crude oil I’m consuming in plastic food trays but what I like about this experience, and is important to other people, is sustainability perfection is stupid! I find people are often paralysed by not being sustainable ‘enough’. We do what we can, when we can. I know I will always do my best to be sustainable no matter what the situation and that approach adds value to way I like to live my life – without guilt or unavoidable worry. When I’m in a situation like this where things are almost completely out of my control, I don’t stress what I’m not doing or can’t do and instead get my Teaspoons of Change lens out and think about what are the small but significant choices, decisions and action I CAN make to have little positive impacts in this situation… Don’t aim for perfection, aim for good choices – more of them, more often, when you can!

Having said that, if people have other sustainability tips for me in this situation – let me know!!!

4 more sleeps to go and then probably more living and less blogging 😉

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Part 3: First Impressions and Days of Quarantine

A highly satisfying sleep on my first night of quarantine after a long day and getting to bed at about 1am (3am Sydney time from where I’d started the day) and also knowing I was finally in China!

Still, it was up and into work – especially now that my starting time was actually 9am since I was actually in the same time zone as my work and not a couple of hours ahead! I didn’t have time for my 20km run / 50km cycle or 10km walk before starting work – not to mention I couldn’t leave my 18m² hotel room!

I took another look through the quarantine rules of meal times, putting chlorine tablets in the toilet before a bowel movement and then leaving your stomach contents in there for an hour before you can flush it and other assorted quarantine rules!

The day before hadn’t consisted of much food other than the 4 trays of the same food on the plane (see part 2) so I eagerly awaited my breakfast mentioning to reception the evening before that I prefer a vegan diet if possible. Not possible. A hard-boiled egg and tetra box of milk with 3 little stale bread rolls was brekky. Luckily, I’m not really a food person and just eat to stop feeling hungry and function as a flexitarian for these very situations. Food drop off rules are pretty strict. Food gets put on a little table out the front of your door at 8am 12pm and 5pm. It ‘s put in numerous plastic bags and packaging and you are allowed to open your door, peer out, snatch your food and cower back into your mole hole or room. Unsatisfied with brekky I hoped for something more filling for lunch.

Anyway, I was soon into work, meetings and delighted to tell everyone I was actually in China! With every conversation, email or checking of my calendar I was remined I didn’t need to do the mental calisthenics of working the time back 2.5 hours or daylight savings and being able to be on the same time as my work colleagues! It was a delight every time I realised it!

What an animated morning sharing my sheer delight with everyone on me finally being in China and their delight rebounded back to me 😊 I did have a few meeting interruptions where I have to give my temperature twice a day at about 9am and 11am and then not for the rest of the day. The thermometer they gave me was so hard to read I couldn’t figure it out and more or less guessed my temperature and must have gone a bit hi as they sent a hasmat to my room to get a digital reading, and all good there!

12 noon came with expected excitement for lunch. Alas I was in meetings for another half an hour when they came with a multiple ring of the doorbell which meant lunch is served on the little table outside your door! When I did get out there and brought in my lunch I eventually fought through all the plastic I had a lovely vegetarian meal with rice smelling and tasting the goods!

I hate sharing photos of food on the internet! It seems slightly appropriate on this occasion…

The rest of the day was work right up till bed and catching up after a couple of days of travel and being offline. Again, total satisfaction in being here and utter excitement that I was really in China!

The next day, a Friday, I took in a little more of the surroundings of the room and views from the window. I could actually see the hotel where I had stayed in Jan 2020 running a youth leadership conference right before China, and then the world, shutdown!

I learnt that breakfast was going to remain disappointing, but lunch and dinner were proving to be great vegetarian fairs of Chinese food with various mushrooms, greens and other good flavours. I even got a delivery of some crackers and instant noodles from my work colleague (dropped off at receptions and delivered once a day to your door at a certain time) to top me up between meal times.

Friday evening was the first time I had to pause and take in the fact I was trapped in this room for the remaining 13 days but somehow the feeling I had was freedom and more freedom than I had felt in South Australia for the past 8 months – see previous blog. Quarantine isn’t a preferred way of living but it meant I was working towards a life I love of living abroad. It is a feeling that feels deep either because it in my DNA from an ancestry of nomads or, more likely, a way of being as a privileged nomad that I’ve calved out over the past 21 years!!!

I seem to be measuring days in tetra box milk cartons which means Saturday (today as I write this) is day 3! Hmmm, the new challenge of a weekend in quarantine where I would have usually been going for a 5km Parkrun attached to a 20-30km extended run. It also seemed I woke up with that energy and expectation! So I tried expending some energy by jogging around my room with high knees, legs kicked up at the back, lunges, crab walks and more…

I managed 3500 steps laughing at myself the whole time. I got bored pretty quickly and looked for alternative physical exertions and created an obstacle course till I realised my shoulders and hips don’t fit under the chair.

From there I created some step ups, more high knee lifts and created some dumbbells out of the 24 pack of plastic water bottles that I won’t be using! At least they have a good use in my room!

No chin ups but plenty of push ups and sit ups with some beginner yoga on YouTube and anything that seems to soothe the soul and spend a little of my boundless energy!

In the end it was a great day of getting prepped with Shanghai life (like finding a place to live), online communication with folks and for the past couple of hours writing longwinded blogs that likely no one will get to this point but nice for my own historical reference 😊

As for the remaining 12 days, this will be my life in this room but it will be done with gratitude and excitement knowing I will be stepping out to a life where I will be a Shanghai resident, doing work I love and with people and schools I’m keen to interact and grow together with!

I better go as I have important things to do around the room – ha! 😉

Like putting up my Teaspoons of Change & Global Goals Posters!!!
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Part 2: Sydney Airport to Quarantine Hotel Shanghai

Arriving to the departures area of the Sydney International Airport was surreal. What would normally be packed with taxis, luggage and people going everywhere, it was an almost ghost town or felt like I’d hired the airport just for myself and a few other special guests.

Going to check-in things looked a little more normal with a long line of people waiting! It was a usual long wait for check-in with a few temperature checks and a few barcodes of apps to say we had a blood serum test and had a knitting needle shoved two thirds into our brain within the past 72 hours and with a negative result. Some how my chin-up bars weren’t a problem at check in but my PVC didgeridoo was, despite it flying with me easily from Adelaide to Sydney, the least of my worries because I was starting to feel a sense of normality that had deserted me for many months before this point.

The turn from normality to abnormality came quickly. A last minute need to fill out yet another app for health screening had me getting on the plane as one of the last passengers. The moment when things really became different was walking down the gang plank towards the airplane door (I think it might actually be called an air bridge) and to the point just before the sharp turn to be at the actual door. As I did a 90° left turn to be at the door entrance there were about 10 people in full body suit PPE or hasmat looking suits – not with oxygen tanks but still creating a big sense of that I was entering a place I shouldn’t be!

In the plane there were more people with full PPE and I took my seat with hasmat people walking about the place where I had to snap at least one pic.

Eventually I learnt they were actually the air hosties! Despite the one feeling that I was in a nuclear fallout situation, the other feeling was pure joy to be in a moment I had been waiting at least 8 months for, if not 13.5 months since I was last overseas…

The flight was pretty uneventful having become moderately comfortable with the air hosties in their fully white PPE, which apparently the Chinese description for them is ‘big white’. The food was as sterile as the PPE suits and I actually don’t mind airplane food as I’m usually hungry enough to not care but the plastic lunch boxes of a roll, yoghurt, a cake, orange juice box and a kit-kat was our food for the entire 10.5 hour flight. After getting a little peckish again halfway through the flight I asked if they might have any other food and was presented with another plastic lunch box of a roll, yoghurt, a cake, orange juice box and kit-kat. By the end of the flight I’d consumed a further two more boxes of this!!!

A wet and bumpy arrival in Shanghai, because I presume the pilot and flight team were also in hasmat and couldn’t see the controls properly! We arrive just before 7pm local time (9pm Syd time) and the first wait took place as they emptied the plan in short bursts like trying to get into a nightclub. Row 68 did mean I was in a later category to exit the plane.

Once out of the plane a few people in hasmat and then a normal walk from arrival gate to customs where I got ahead a few positions with my fast-walking disposition. Before any immigration it was a temperature check machine and then down to some shipping containers where a long slow line was waiting with relatively frequent sounds of someone sounding like they were choking. Eventually I progressed in the line far enough to see we were to have another knitting needle investigation of our brain via our nose and it also seemed a tongue depressor put down our throat as well. By the time it was my turn I decided this was going to be fun and a challenge as I wasn’t going to be one of those loud sounds coming from a gage reflux. I almost didn’t make a sound till the hasmat person put the swap into my brain and then said she’s missed – missed what! And had to have another crack where I was to have the pleasure of another brain / swab inspection and a few twists to make sure the lobotomy was leaving me with less rather than more of my functioning capacities. It did remind me of the time when I had my vasectomy and I swear I heard the doctor say whoops – the photos of that a few days later tell the story! Next came the tongue depressor which I presumed was going to be the easy part but I’m pretty sure they use it to stick into the back of your throat to ensure a convulsion so they can bring up some stomach acid from childhood and sample that for good measure! I was firmly added to the tally of people who made a sound like a pig had been shot 😉 Maybe something like the first few seconds of this YouTube clip of a cricketer getting cramp – https://youtu.be/1-BWKKkOLwQ

Next was immigration and I was still a few steps from a potential rubble glove and cough situation! Immigration was painless with my 8-month-in-the-making visa doing the trick. I presume the words ‘empathy pass’ was written in Chinese characters somewhere on my visa.

From immigration it was a confusing array of bays where you had to state where you were living or where your hotel was. I didn’t have either so I gave the address of my workplace in one of the business districts. Then it was yet another app to download and input all my information once again. Not having a sim card nor being able to access internet made that a slightly difficult situation and in the end a hasmat guy did it on his own phone as I was clearly not making progress, along with the two other 80-year-old travellers who were from a bygone era before technology with me. That app filled out I waited for a while till someone asked me for a 5th or 6th time where I was going and on this occasion I said the area I think I should be going and this time it seemed I might have said it with a slightly different accent and was quickly whisked away to an elevator and up to another level with a few other people to report to more hasmat people with more apps…

Here we waited and waited in what I presumed was to be taken the potluck of quarantine hotels. Having been sat in a plane for 10+ hours and a couple of extra hours to this point I did some standing but there we waited for over an hour. No complaints as I’m sure all of this requires important organisation and my fellow passengers were tired but in good spirits.

Eventually we were ushered down to a bus after a few more QR code scans and I’d managed to befriend a Chinese uni student coming back from uni in Australia who was able to tell me a little more of what had happened and might be happening!

It’s quite a way from the Pudong plane station into the city but I was in tired delirious awe of being on foreign soil and knowing I was were I wanted to be… Only 4 of us got off at this hotel and I lost my translator but carried in my bag with chin-up bars hanging off the back, didgeridoo and various hand luggage and went into the reception.

Inside the eerie abandoned buildings of Jeju Island, South ...
Not exactly like this but maybe just as eerie!

Inside the reception it looked like a formerly abandoned luxury hotel that had been left to ruin where squatters had moved in and made the most of it – dead pot plants, dust, chairs on their side in random places and white chlorine stains everywhere. There was a single smallish table full of papers and stuff that we gathered around and this time filled out more pages of personal information – by pen not app on this occasion. The four of us were making our way through it till two of my fellow travellers started to get a bit irritated and then erupted in yelling at the hasmat person in front of them! It was a strange thing as a person in hasmat seems to hold the power balance in any interaction and having been dropped off into quarantine my guess is your level of bargaining or change of situation seems pretty limited! It didn’t stop them from yelling throwing their pen on the ground and storming around a little. By the time I got to page three I guessed their trigger point was the bill for ¥400 a night ($80AUD) as quoted to us before getting on the bus didn’t include food and that would be an extra ¥100 a day ($20AUD – $280AUD for 14 days). I wasn’t paying, my work was, so I didn’t feel the need for a shout and pen throw but did feel sorry for the couple who would have forked out a lot of money to get to this point and a little salt added to the wound after a long day. They would have 14 days in a room to think it over I suppose and hopefully come to peace with it!

I was allocated room 1829 on the 18th floor and took myself up there with no more hasmat people around like going to your hotel room on any other previous time in life pre-COVID which was unnerving making me feel like I’ll be leaving in the morning and not spending the next 14 days ONLY in this space. I’d also heard stories from work colleagues and others that you don’t really know what kind of quarantine accommodation you’ll get… You might not get a window or be able to open a window or food that is mainly fishheads, etc… I opened the door and found what would normally be a very comfortable hotel room and found out it was actually a very comfortable hotel room. I quickly did a window investigation and found not only did I have nice big windows, but I could also open them, in fact I couldn’t close them properly leading to the room being quite chilly and noisy with a huge highway just below! Still I was happy to have a good room with a bit of a view and as my good friend told me there was no way it was going to be worse than anything I’ve staying in before! 😉

It was now past midnight more than 5 hours after landing but I was happy to be in China, in a room and closer to starting my life living and working with Dulwich in China!

However, before getting into bed for a needed slumber I did unpack a few things and noticed a screw had come loose from my chin up bars leaving them useless for chin ups in the coming two weeks of iso ☹, I also saw my didg had cracked near the mouthpiece that hopefully was still useable – it was, so saved on that front.

Lights out and a satisfied smile and sleep knowing I was in China and back in my rhythm of life living in a foreign country, albeit in a room 18 floors above the ground for the next two weeks…

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Am I Really a Nomad or Just Used to Getting My Way?

After an 8-month visa delay and 13.5 months of unexpected and non-intentional living in South Australia I’m finally on the plane to Shanghai to do my job as Group Head of Sustainability and Global Citizenship with the Dulwich group of schools.

I’m very excited to be ‘back’ in my life of foreign and international living and engaging with people on social, environmental and global justice, actually excited is an understatement!

The past 6 months in particular have been a big struggle for me, and it has me wondering how many life conditions do I need to be going in my favour to be happy or at least content… In reflection it seems I have a lot! The main one being dependent on international travel and being able to get around as I please! 

There have been a few conditions that seemed to have piled on each other to make my life feel tougher than maybe ever before, and the tougher elements haven’t been the lack of electricity or running water or access to internet as is often the case in a bunch of places I’ve lived but it has more to do with the things that effect my ego / identity / how I view myself in the world… If I am not the nomad, presenter, Teaspoons of Change guy then who the hell am I – especially in my hometown of Adelaide, working online remotely from a laptop each day for 8 months and not being around schools, students and teachers!

Good times & hard times…

It was so hard to complain about my situation as I had a great job (even if done via laptop remotely), super fit in health, great living conditions and pretty much anything I could need at my fingertips. Plus, there was the beautiful scenery and weather of living on the Fleurieu Peninsula with great running, riding and walking everywhere! Despite all of that I struggled because I was living in uncertainty thinking I would be leaving in two weeks every two weeks – which could have been overcome with a change in mindset and allowing my visa to play out in its own time, not my own expectations. I struggled with lack of my former identity of being the foreigner by being a South Australian native. I struggled not being in amongst work colleagues and especially in schools and mixing it up with students and teachers. I struggled with the highly mutual and respectful end to a relationship as I couldn’t run away to a foreign place and absorb myself in it (which I hope I now can 😉!). I struggled to join a community or make friends, again thinking I will be going soon and not wanting to commit to anything. I struggled with sleep and still don’t know why on that one – I suppose because of all the former struggles!

So on paper it seems pretty simple to fix with a positive attitude, change in mindset and live in what is available and not what should be, which I’ve basically promoted and spruiked for the past 21 years. Yet, it was without question the hardest 6 months I’ve ever had. Funny what our brain, feelings and emotions can do when they reach a dead-end and feel trapped.

Just like everyone else we’ll see where life takes us from here but for the first time in my life I’ve definitely seen another side to life that isn’t easy or working in my favour. This is why I wonder if my experience has been difficult because I’m used to getting my way in life, or making it work for me, or if actually I don’t have much resilience and ability to cope with changes, adversity and uncertainty? I don’t know? I also know people face a lot more challenges than not being able to travel in life! So where does that put me in the coping stakes when challenges present themselves…

I think the only summary I can make will be in a year from now with the wisdom of Captain Hindsight (thanks South Park)… What will the world and myself look like in April 2022? Things will be easier to understand about this present time for me and maybe others…

A major lesson and feeling I have is the gratitude of those people and tips and tricks that have got me through hard times. This includes my sisters, aunt, uncle, mum, other mums, old friends, new friends, Insight Timer and their meditations, courses and vibrations and a couple bikes and pairs of running shoes! 😉 

I look forward to being back out in the world in my mojo, energy, vibe and presence where I feel I am on my plan of living a life a purpose since that is the purpose of life is live a life of purpose (thanks Michael Franti).

Hope everyone is doing ok in these times and that can vary from lockdowns, death from COVID in their family to being a self-made nomad with nowhere to go for a while!

New gratitude to anyone doing it tough for whatever reason and sending you my best wishes and good vibes. xx 

PS. Having arrived in China and just posting this now I was spot on. Despite being in hotel quarantine I feel a greater sense of freedom in this hotel room locked in for the next 14 days than I did for the past 6 months!

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COVID, Travel & Quarantine – Part 1: 8 Months Getting to the Airport

For the past 21 years I’ve lived for experiences and usually been able to satisfy that with lots of new places and lots of new people. When that tap was turned off in February 2020 it was going to be a new era of experiences…

What could have been a new era of experience for me in maybe settling down a little and committing to a wonderful person in my partner, Serafina, it seemed too daunting and so I chose independence and ‘freedom’ to continue to remain untethered to be where I wanted, when I wanted – to which Serafina had provided me that for a long time in our relationship and finally she also deserved something different if I wasn’t going to commit to things so it was a completely mutual decisions in love and respect for each other to end our exclusive bond – anyway that’s another blog another time or not!

So ahead of me was the prospect of a few months back in Australia to enjoy the liveability of the place and spend more time in my self-sufficient Happy-Simply tiny house. It was a couple of months and not long into it I landed a dream job of being the Group Head of Sustainability and Global Citizenship for the Dulwich group of schools and was to be based in Shanghai, China. My contract was due to start in August and I should be there soon after with likely a few delays at the start.

What conspired was an 8-month visa process and delay that I increasingly didn’t handle well nor the intimate separation with Serafina.

From mid-October I finally hit the wall of appreciating being back in South Australia and was growing tired of the two-week window of my visa being ready and then not. Really everything fell apart like I’ve never experienced before. Nothing to stand on or feel normal about, sleep insomnia and levels of anxiety I never imagined I could harbour. So I did the work – meditation, physical activity, sought support and perspectives from friends and family and kept believing it will get better sometime soon. The visa delays embedded themselves till late December when it seemed I would be on my way in early Jan. I pretended to feel better, and maybe did on some days, but then visa delays and flight rebookings became crushing news and constant resetting. Eventually the visa issues got sorted out but it would mean at least a month or more to turn it around. Finally knowing I wouldn’t be leaving for at least a month or so I was able to shift my focus towards acceptance, flexibility, no expectations and being in what was here and now, not what could or should be…

Things improved with that kind of attitude with a few rollercoaster highs and lows and gradually, despite of, or because of, visa delays I worked out how to ‘be’ in the situation.

Throughout this time I did have the incredible support, ears and generosity of people close to me and found ways to live as best I could with big bike rides, a few adventures here and there and some excellent meditations and courses on Insight Timer – I highly recommend it if you are looking for a meditation and perspectives app.

Then in mid-March the opportunity to get to China became a little more real – not that I was expecting much just in case it went south again but I did some fingerprints, paid for my visa, was able to watch it track online and started to think it might be making progress 😊

Finally in late March the call came to go to the visa service centre in Adelaide to pick up my visa which meant booking a flight to Shanghai and believing I would be on my way to China. A few tonnes of pressure was lifted off my shoulders and I put in place my exit plans with a few catch ups, some favourite Aussie food to eat before going and my favourite part – packing my bags!!!

The last week or so was better each day closer to leaving without wanting to seem ungrateful or disrespectful to a place that other people were happy to reside (or better at dealing with it than me). I had some lovely farewells with my family, some friends and Serafina – a BFF.

I put on my mask at the Adelaide airport for the flight to Sydney with my hidden grin growing stronger with each movement dedicated to me getting closer to China. A brief overnight at my brother’s in Sydney with his family and the next morning I had no more sleeps to countdown before going to China!

The international airport at Sydney was a little surreal being so vacant and this is where this blog ends to be continued on the experience of travelling internationally during the time of COVID-19…

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2021 New Year’s Re-Solutions!

New Year’s Resolutions and Message – 2021

Hello Hygienic Helpful Happy? Humans!

A Happy Christmas and Merry New Year from Adelaide where I have been for the past 10 months and the longest time to be in Adelaide for 20 years!

Looking back at my 2020 new year conclusions I didn’t have in there: a global pandemic nor a loss of job, end of a beautiful relationship, living back in Australia, getting a new wonderful job and every other unexpected thing for the year – what does that teach us? *DON’T MAKE PLANS OR HAVE EXPECTATIONS!* 😉 I do love a plan but 2020 taught us it is only a plan and our response is more important than the plan!

Despite unexpected change and thanks to lots of online gigs I did manage 156 presentations to 9166 folks on Teaspoons of Change / global citizenship / tiny houses / sustainability and anything people were keen or forced to listen to! 🙂 I’m proud that in the past 10-11 years I’ve managed 1622 presentations to 141,026 people and the reason I’m proud is I wanted to try and make a difference in the world since 2001 and this is what I’ve decided to do and keep track of it – did I make any difference? Who knows, but I’ve tried and that is better than nothing!

Image of 2020 – ZOOM!!!

Personally, it’s been the hardest emotional year of my life… Ending a relationship, kinda maintaining it and then finally closing it out – and still on that pathway. It is my first time to feel and process that kind of pain and when it subsides I will have another life experience under my belt that no country could give me. Serafina and I will forever be friends and care for each other in the background but we weren’t able to feel settled in either of our situations so we did what was best for each other – big thanks Fina for making things work for as long as they did! 

I’m still in love with humanity, keen for a new beginning in 2021 and determined to keep loving waking up on Mondays as I shared in a TEDx talk last year

I’m also in love with my job as Group Head of Sustainability and Global Citizenship with the Dulwich / Dehong Group of Schools with 10,000 students and 2400+ staff. I like being a slightly unusual suspect in their line up but kudos they have someone like me working with them for real change in sustainability and global citizenship!

See below for my scorecard of 2020 New Year Conclusions and some weird and wonderful Re-Solutions for 2021! 😊

What 2021 MIGHT have in stall for me…

  • I’ve been working remotely in South Australia since August and at this moment in time I am due to fly to Singapore on 18 Jan and then Shanghai 25 Jan to be based there (for a while!)
    • I’m so ready to be working with real humans and especially students and keen to be a foreigner once again! 
  • And that is about it! Usually there would be 19+ other countries and plans but I’m going for depth over breadth in the coming year and working with my Dulwich family! 

Big hugs and best well wishes to you all as we reset for this stack of 365 and if, by any chance, you get to Shanghai – please get in touch and come say hi!!!

‘We can all have everything we want in the world as long as we don’t want everything’ (one from me). All the best in your new outlook in the world xxx


New Year’s Re-Solutions 2021 and review of 2020!

For 2021…

  • Change my ring tone each year with the song I’m into at that time (switch from Hang Massive to Mos Def to now didgeridoo hip-hop!
  • Spend at least 30 mins playing my new didg once a week
  • Try something Chinese and new since I will be living there – language, cooking, hip-hop dance, indoor sport in winter, maybe a tai chi or chi-gong or some Taoist pursuit…? Suggestions…
  • Repeat – At 4pm each day pause for four DEEP breathes and connect with everything and nothing!
  • Repeat – Never been big on flossing so i will make sure I floss on Tuesdays and Thursdays each week, at least!
  • Try to catch at least 10 DIFFERENT leaves falling from trees throughout the year 
  • Find a sheep-shaped cloud – failed it a couple years ago but still believe I can see one! 
  • My favourite colour for 2021 will be purple! Just like my tiny house in New Zealand 
  • Repeat – Continue to not buy a single bottle of plastic bottled water – 9th year in a row
  • Repeat – Meet someone from Angola!
  • Repeat – Leave voice messages for my friend’s children’s birthdays – Love doing this – add your kid to the list if you want a message from me to them (and I have your WhatsApp!)

Add plenty of Teaspoons of Change around Dulwich and my other interactions 😊

Need some practice but almost got circular breathing down… 2 weeks quarantine in China will take me forwards!

The resolution results from 2020…

At 4pm each day pause for at least three DEEP breathes and appreciate the humility and importance of oxygen and our bodies to utilise it 😊 Mostly and loved doing this. To be continued in 2021! Also strive for 365 days of meditation in a row…
Never been big on flossing so i will make sure I floss on Tuesdays and Thursdays each week, at least!So good, even got those bottle brush ones now!
Try to catch at least 15 DIFFERENT leaves falling from trees throughout the year – loved this one so much in 2019Only got to 9 being stuck in only one country and one autumn!!
Only ONE serving of ice cream a month – as I get closer to ending my diary connection!Mostly. Aug I might have bought a box of 6 ice creams having one a day 😉 
Find a bird-shaped cloud – I’ll be looking into the sky a lot this year! My friend found a wonderful one and me an ok one – going back to sheep in 2021
Make a donation for myself and Noa to good people and organisations on the 29th of each month – you can do it too! I’m set to give my biggest donations ever this year – exciting!!!Nailed it. So good to have some extra income to pay decent taxes and the most donations I’ve ever given!!!
Memorise all the countries starting with W (2 – Wales and Western Sahara [not UN states but good enough]) and Y (1 – Yemen) and Z (2 – Zambia and Zimbabwe)Kinda, over this one and retiring the memorisation of countries in 2021 – I made it to z anyway!!!
At least 20 chin ups per week – I like trying to find something above my head to hold my weight everywhere I go Yep! Conscious of this and loved it. Need to keen that sinew strong!!!
My favourite colour for 2020 will again be lime! I forgot about it most of the year in 2019Love lime and was a good fav colour – thanks lime!!
Continue to not buy a single bottle of plastic bottled water – 8th year in a rowJust gets easier and not only water but any kind of drink – juice, soda, etc!
Meet someone from Angola!Nup, fail roll over to 2021 – hook me up!
Buy Nothing New Month once again in OctoberMostly. Forgot about it but still love it
Leave voice messages for my friend’s children’s birthdays – I was getting slack with postcards!So good! Love doing this and want more kids to leave messages… 
NEW – Run a half marathon once a monthI accidentally did this and then a full marathon in May for my b’day!
From my friend Perrin and her walk through the US!!! Good one eh! Can’t find mine 😉
42kms on 42nd birthday and asked for $42 donations 🙂

Also I’m pulling back on social media this year as I don’t have to be on there as much with Teaspoons of Change and having been on there a lot in the past 10 years and also living in China with restrictions helps as well… I’m not going to add to the Instagram account called darcy_living_geo and instead will put some pics up and descriptions on a WhatsApp Living Geography group if anyone wants to join in… Think, interesting strange things in China and cultural gems… (+61428416765)

2020 in 49 pics… 🙂

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What a week of learning…

In comparison to any previous tests, assignments or preparation for presentations, this week was a week of learning like no other I’ve ever had.

The big difference was this wasn’t a test, assignment or presentation it was separating from my partner, Serafina, and clearing the connected energy and attachments that come from being in daily communication for 5 years!

It’s almost like we have been practicing this separation for 5 years since I was always in and out of the country and never fully committed to ‘settling down’ in the same place and to live with each other as partners, sharing intimate daily life together and all the illusions, challenges and beauty that comes with that. But we made it work over time by recreating ourselves, giving our connection new definitions and staying true to our bond and not the social expectations or constructs around us. We did a very good job of this, till COVID…

Initially COVID for me meant I was cornered with no where to go, my overseas work disappeared and I was left with the prospects of living in Adelaide with Serafina which should have meant jubilation as we might have hoped as a couple and wanting to share life together without overseas interruptions. As it turns out COVID was the ultimate test of commitment, comfort and seeing if both our needs could be met. My response was to buy flights to Aotearoa New Zealand and that made it clear that I preferred to keep on the perpetual move and enjoyed our connection in a sometimes here, sometimes not, fashion. On the other hand Serafina knew she wanted to be with someone who DID want to be with her and her son, through thick and thin and she could demand that as she had carried us for the previous 4+ years to that point.

So the difficult talk and decision in March was to separate and remain friends which felt pretty good to us both, and we weren’t going to just be friends, but best friends…

From March to November we were probably the most relaxed, connected and satisfied in our relationship, ever – at least I was. I lived in my tiny house 45km away, we caught up weekly, we spoke or messaged each day and for me at least, I had the best of both worlds while waiting to go overseas for my job sometime in August. August came and went and so did Sept, Oct and then Nov with no overseas movements with my job in China. While the arrangement of best friends was convenient for me while waiting to go overseas it was holding Serafina back from living her full life which is here in Adelaide with her son and doing wonderful things with Cycle Adelaide South Australia 😊 (check it out!).

So another crux had to be reached – we had to separate from our best friend arrangement and actually bite the separation bullet of being free independent individuals in the world…

Things started hard and well. I moved my stuff out of the apartment in Adelaide, I cycled to Jamestown to ‘escape’ and I cried and made sure to feel all the feels. Throughout the entire 5 years Serafina and I have built incredible communication, mutual respect, openness and unconditional love for each other with a keen eye on trying to have equal power and share in our connection. So, in the first three weeks of our most recent separation, again we spoke often, supported each other, confided in our pain, suffering, jubilation and separation journey. However, this only continued to keep us connected and maybe even more strongly than pre-separation. Then last Sunday (7 days ago) we decided to take the ideas of the South Australia Government approach to COVID and put in place a circuit breaker where we wouldn’t communicate with each other for a week and truly separate our deep co-existence – mostly now at a communication and emotional level, and aim to be back in the world as individuals, while always maintaining our respect and friendship.

The past 6 days has been the toughest and deepest week of learning in my life. I haven’t known an experience where I’ve had to untangle so much energy and habitual connections with someone, to be fair this is my longest relationship in 42 years and 4 years longer than any previous relationship!

But what has happened in this week is a search for learning, new ideas, new ways of being, new perspectives, new emotions, new solutions and a dissolving a bunch of life that is lodged hard and deep!

Without getting too spiritual, although I can in person if people want it, I had to discover and adventure into my sense of being and play around with it. It was difficult work moving towards resolving challenges, feelings, thoughts and experiences at a scale that I’ve never faced before.

The result is – I don’t know yet, still a work in progress but I do know I have new empathy for break ups, grieving, pain, emotional discomfort and what people might call hard times, having avoided these things pretty well in my life to date.

In reflection from this week I am walking away with a lot of learning, not solutions, not outcomes or a how to get over break ups list as I wish I could but it is more of an acknowledgement of the difficulty in separation and the journey to moving through it.

I was 100% satisfied being single before meeting Serafina and it took at least a year to be convinced to not want to remain single so to get back to that point of being satisfied in myself is a new challenge and something that was so simple and fulfilling in the past, but I’m up for it.

Most of all out of this week of learning is the bigger meta-narrative that I love. That big picture is of Serafina and I being brave, acting and working towards something that can’t be found in our connection and to give ourselves the opportunity, with all the pain that comes with it, to go and pursue something else! If it means we met someone else – that is wonderful; if it means we are satisfied in our own company – fabulous; or if it means we reconnect down the path again – then that is what will be. But for now we are giving ourselves the best opportunity for the best in life and that is grounding and something I’ve always done and ensure each day is a day to pinch our skin and say ‘it’s a great day to be alive to live to the fullest’.

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