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Heidi Shenk "Australia" "daily life" "travel"

After leaving you with a rather dark post for about three weeks, I am finally back. We returned from Australia on Saturday afternoon after an incredible and epic adventure.

During our first few days in Sydney, Andrew seemed slightly annoyed with how things worked. These people are crazy! or This country is ass backwards! he'd interject when he had forgotten to look right before crossing, or when I failed to tell him to order a long black instead of a black coffee, or when he realized there is no such thing as a one cent piece in Australia, or when a group of men in their mid-twenties began singing Advance Australian Fair as loud as they could on the metro.

As our trip continued, we reached the red center of Australia and spent a day hiking around Uluru, a massive rock structure that jolts out of red earth sand dunes. We thought about the Anangu people that still live in the region and how they live off of this land despite its harsh conditions. Not a cloud in the sky, not a bit of humidity, not a trickle of water, and spring temperatures of 90 degrees and even hotter in the sun.

It was humbling. It was perspective.

That perspective is what continued to grow as our adventures unfolded. I was reminded of the passion that Australians have for life, and Andrew was exposed to that passion for the first time. Slowly his These people are crazy! comments became These people know how to live! or This country is doing things right! or Why can't Americans be so excited about the simplest things in life? 

We noticed a lack of unsmiling people, a lack of overweight or unhealthy people, a lack of rude behavior, a lack of poor service in restaurants, bars, and stores, a lack of negativity, a lack of disrespect for their environment. And the more we noticed that these thing were lacking, we realized perhaps that's actually how life should be. To think of something as lacking is to think that it is not complete, but to be happy, healthy, friendly, hard working, positive, and environmentally conscious is not to lack, but to gain something in life.

Things we often save for vacation or rare occasions only were things people were doing on a daily basis. I'm not talking about things that require spending money because we tend to be tight-budgeted travelers, but I'm talking about soaking in the daily life. They were living life to the fullest in their own cities, towns, and villages. They didn't care what people thought about them if they were doing what made them happy and weren't harming anyone else.

That's perspective.

When we travel, Andrew and I often ask each other at the end of the day, What was your favorite thing about today? On Sunday, our first full day back in Baltimore, we did the normal things we usually do-- go to the coffee shop, watch football at Max's, do laundry, go to the grocery store. But we did things differently and pretended we were still on vacation. We biked to to the coffee shop and bar so that we could enjoy being outdoors as long as possible. Instead of stressing out at the grocery store like I usually do, I made a conscious choice to make it fun even if other people thought we were crazy. We decided to enjoy each aspect of the day, just like we would do on vacation.

When we sat down to eat dinner, Andrew looked up from his plate and asked, What was your favorite thing about today? I chose the bike ride in the beautiful September weather. Andrew chose a Browns victory just slightly more over the bike ride. And then we decided that from here on out, we're going to live like we're on vacation.

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