There is No Place Like Home – Or is There? – The Taylor Swift Paradigm

While I waited to depart LAX over a week ago I started to have a small anxiety attack. What in the world was I doing, moving across the world, away from my family and everything I knew to be normal. Had I lost my mind? A few tears later and a phone call home, I boarded the plane with more worry than wonder racing through my head. The hectic experience of flying 15 hours, going through customs and transferring to a domestic connection only escalated my thoughts of I am so alone and so far from home. Once landed in Adelaide, I gathered my bags and rolled out to the curb in search of a cab. Easy to locate, yet so different from home I watched the driver climb into the right side of a vehicle and departed on opposite side of the road. But then it happen, the radio came on and low and behold I hear “Nice to meet you, where you been? I could show you incredible things”. It was the song I wake up to every morning that Lilly blares from her room. Maybe I am not that far from home, Taylor Swift is singing to me.

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Highlights from our week – A field trip to McLaren Vale wine region and some fun food & wine around town.

After ten days of living in another country, I have come appreciate a few things. The more I embrace my local environment, the more I discover, as much as things are the same, they are different. This week we started class and I have challenged the senior project class to discovery their selves and the world of agriculture. Each of them will plan a class and select a theme of our learning adventure. I decided we should visit the local grocery store and reflect back to their AGB 101 projects. We examined agriculture commodities, as well as, the marketing efforts compared to California. The Australian love of farming and food is apparent with a simple stroll down the shopping aisle.

Food is just one element that has been adjustment in my everyday life. Here are just a few daily activities that I have found similarities with a twist.

1 – Grocery Shopping – There is vast array of lovely fresh produce and fruit. A huge advantage of experiencing summertime is the bounty of harvest goods. However, deciding if the price point is comparable is a lesson in mathematics and a strong knowledge of the metric system. Selection and sizes of various products are limited. Yet, you need to make sure you bring your own bag, just like home. Which brings me to the next topic transportation.

2 – Transportation – I live in a city. I basically walk everywhere, including the grocery store. So shopping is limited to what I can carry home (bag or no bag). And let me tell you, liters of water are heavy! So to adapt to my new city life I purchased a backpack. It is beyond handy and quickly making my daily trips so much more enjoyable.

3 – Weather – It is summer time. I am a north county girl. Bring on the 100 plus degree-days, but can the nights please cool down like at home? Did I happen to mention the weather is in Celsius? Once again bring on the math and conversion table.  Today we are dealing with rain and 14C, and the occasional thunder storm.

4 – The Perfect Bite – In my daily quest for the perfect bite I did struggle during my early days abroad to find that café, restaurant, wine bar that fit my tastes and preferences. In Adelaide you can find any type of food you desire from India, China, South America, Turkey, Italy you name it, there is a dinning opportunity. I am happy to report I have tried new dishes and old favorites with great success. And the wine is a selection of Australia and European classics.

So as I stroll down Rundle Mall, backpack in tow and I start to think how different my life is here in Australia, I will pass a shop and hear “Grab your passport and my hand, I can make the bad guys good for a weekend”. The Taylor Swift Discovery brings a whole new perspective to having some blank space to fill with new experiences.

Miss you Lilly Ann

Here are the student blogs if you would like to take a peak:

Begin Again . . . Please Don’t See Just a Girl Caught up in Dreams and Fantasies

January 1, 2015 came into my life not only a day early, but in an entirely new country. Feeling under the weather and out of place was not the perfect start to any day, much less a new year. I had great expectations exploring my new surroundings. But instead a cold and time confusion filled my head. Luckily my apartment came equipped with everything I needed for a nice cup of tea (complete with a tea pot), so I headed back to bed with drink in hand and my laptop.

I decided to stop fighting the feeling of disappointment and focus on getting well. I settled on renting a movie on iTunes, instead of an afternoon stroll through my new neighborhood. What movie struck my fancy? Begin Again, the title alone fit the theme of the day, and being a believer in “signs”, it was the obvious choice. Yes I enjoyed the movie and I am starting to get my bearings back in place, but what really struck a cord with me (musical reference, I am so tricky) was the final scene. Featuring the song Lost Stars, the words just woke me up, literally. I replayed it four times and then went searching on line for the lyrics.

Each New Year I make a list of accomplishments I would like to achieve. Not so much resolutions, but simple to extreme changes or actions I would like to conquer in the coming year. I recently read an article by Cheryl Richardson that suggested instead of “goals” we should write a prescription to allow ourselves to do something different.

As I sat there and listen it dawned on me that we should treat everyday as if it was New Year’s Day. The words from the song were telling me to start this year off differently. They were giving me permission to veer from my normal path and begin again. And that everyday we have the option to choose what wonderment is out there to experience. Maybe a little less worry and a little more wonder. How about replacing confusion with exploration? And a big dose of belief to replace doubt. Yes, this year I am not going to set goals or write a prescription, but more like a recipe.

Jacky’s 2015 Life Recipe

1 cup Believe Anything is Possible

1/2 cup Find Time to Reflect

1 tbsp. Experience the New

2 tsp. Create Breathtaking Memories

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Just a few photos of my new surroundings.

Combine with family, friends, food and a few fabulous bottles of bubbles

The next couple of months I will be living in South Australia. I can assure you that I will be a much better blogger during this time, as I made it a teaching assignment. I can’t wait to share my experience and maybe a few posts from my students.

Happy New Year – Jacky



Lyrics to Lost Stars (in case your interested)

Please don’t see just a girl caught up in dreams and fantasies.
Please see me reaching out for someone I can’t see.
Take my hand, let’s see where we wake up tomorrow.
Best laid plans; sometimes are just a one night stand.
I’ll be damned; Cupid’s demanding back his arrow.
So let’s get drunk on our tears.

And God, tell us the reason youth is wasted on the young.
It’s hunting season and this lamb is on the run.
We’re searching for meaning…
But are we all lost stars trying to light up the dark?

Who are we? Just a speck of dust within the galaxy.
‘Woe is me’ if we’re not careful turns into reality.
Don’t you dare let our best memories bring you sorrow.
Yesterday I saw a lion kiss a deer.
Turn the page; maybe we’ll find a brand new ending.
Where we’re dancing in our tears.
And God, tell us the reason youth is wasted on the young.
It’s hunting season and this lamb is on the run.
We’re searching for meaning…
But are we all lost stars trying to light up the dark?

I thought I saw you out there crying…
I thought I heard you call my name…
I thought I heard you out there crying…
But just the same…

And God, tell us the reason youth is wasted on the young.
It’s hunting season and this lamb is on the run.
Searching for meaning…
But are we all lost stars trying to light up the dark?
Are we all lost stars trying to light up the dark?

The Big Jump

This past week I encountered an experience that on the surface seemed ordinary but my failure to complete, has been at the fore front of my mind ever since. Not because of the actual undertaking, but because in hindsight it turned out to be a metaphor for a lesson in my life.

The adventure occurred on Monday afternoon on the island of Maui. Those of you who know me realize that my ideal vacation includes reading, relaxing, and discovering the best cocktail followed by the ultimate perfect bite. But for some notion on this Monday afternoon I found myself headed shoreline with a friend declaring that I needed to do something fresh and exciting. His grand idea was going to exert more energy in a single activity than I had in last ten years combined. But who I am to back away from a challenge?

The first phase required me to swim. Maybe not in the deepest water, but it was a distance and surely further out in the ocean than my children have every witness me embarking. So off I went among the fish in clear blue refreshing water. Then I reached phased two. The climb. And I mean it was a challenge. The best description is to imagine me as spider man scaling the side of a building. Mind you I am doing this in a bikini with a large audience of strangers of every age shape and size. Barefoot and vertically challenged I climbed, straddled, crawled my way to the top and along to my final destination. Small children and crabs raced by me at great speed and agility. But hey I thought I made it, I overcame two legs of a journey. Good job Jacky!

Finally I was perched on a rock inches from the promise land, the 20 foot plunge into the crystal, vibrant Pacific Ocean below. I took a moment to rest, catch my breath and gather my thoughts. Here is where I met Carly. A spunky13 year old girl who informed me this jump into the water below was nothing. She had done it many times and even accomplished a higher distance in Jamaica. As we all sat there and waited for Carly’s dad to return so she could dive into life, it became apparent it was my turn. I got up, looked out into the horizon viewing one of my most favorite locations in the world. I looked down my destination below where those who have gone before me swam around and I FROOZE. What seemed a juvenile exercise, where the reward out-weighed the risk tenfold; I couldn’t take that final step.

Black Rock Maui  - Photo Courtesy of Google Search
Black Rock Maui

With Carly and company cheering me on all I had to do was fall forward. I had to give up control for 5 seconds and I just couldn’t do it. So in true Jacky fashion I quickly gathered my thoughts scrambled back to a safe place to sit and consider my options. Obviously the most efficient, safest and most honorable move was to get back up and take a leap of faith. But not me, I started problem solving. I let risk outweigh the reward. Needless to say it took another 20 minutes to scale down to a lower point and jumped back into the ocean.

Once back on shore and sitting at the Tiki Bar with Mai Tai in hand it dawned on me. The past hour Hawaiian adventure was a lesson for my life. I worked so hard to get to the finish line. The most difficult and highest risk activities I managed to conquer. I praised myself for tackling obstacles I normally would avoid. I encountered setbacks and suffered some scraps along the way. I had my supporters and some skeptics. I pushed myself beyond my boundary, set milestone goals. But in the end when it came to that moment of truth, the final step, probably the easiest part of the journey I couldn’t seem to find the courage to take the final step.

How many moments have passed me by over the last four decades for the exact same reasons? Why do I work so hard and then end up just short of the finish line?

I have been working on writing a blog post on thoughtfulness. In today’s world of instant gratification and technology I feel the art of thinking before we speak or act is getting lost in translation. But maybe this experience has opened my eyes to the balance between being thoughtful and impulsive. What lesson have I learned? Well I would do anything to go back and leap off that damn rock. But, maybe the next time the metaphorical leap at the finish line presents itself I will just close my eyes and jump.

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