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Central Australia!

Hello! G’Day! Howzitgarn? Please accept my many apologies for such a long absence between blog entries! I am sitting at a cafe called Red Dog cafe in the Todd Street Mall in Alice Springs. The weather has been really weird the past few days with drizzle, a few thunderstorms and rain! But let’s start back to when we were in Darwin!

We arrived in Darwin on the 10th October. My graduation ceremony for my Bachelor of Nursing was held on 12th October at the Darwin Convention Centre. I have to say, Charles Darwin University really made it a very special event for everyone and I felt so proud to be amongst a group of students who had made so many sacrifices and worked so hard to be there in their gowns and mortarboards.

I wore my beads made by a lady in the remote Aboriginal community of Canteen Creek. It was a reminder and a symbol of where I had come from, where I want to be and the people I want to serve and care for as a nurse.

The two parts I felt teary were when the doctors were given their degrees and called ‘Dr’ for the first time and when the people were receiving their Certificates; the tradesmen who had taken time off work, still dressed in their work boots, shorts and hi-vis shirts wrapped in a black gown and looking so proud of themselves. The people who had worked hard to learn English as their second, or third, or fourth language. The one and only recipient, a female, who had gained her certificate in metal fabricating!

Everyone receiving their qualifications on that day were from different socio-economic backgrounds, different families, different abilities but everyone had achieved what they set out to achieve regardless of whether it was a Certificate 1 or a doctorate. We were all in the same big room shaking the hand of the university Chancellor and feeling really damn proud of ourselves and each other.

My Mum came all the way up to Darwin from Albany and along with Tim, my brother Simon (who lives in Darwin) rearranged his work to be there to see me accept my degree; even though that meant he had to work longer to make up the time. I was so thrilled and proud to have them there with me on that day and very thankful they were able to come. I looked up at them after I accepted my degree and saw all three looking down at me with pride; an amazing feeling.

It was a long arduous journey to get my Bachelor of Nursing degree. There were many sleepless nights full of anxiety and self-deprecation. Mornings of clinical placements where I was in tears and wishing I had never started studying! But I had immense support from family and friends and I am now at the beginning of my next journey.

Last year, when I was up in Darwin for my clinical training block, I stayed with my brother and his family and made a promise to my sister-in-law that once Tim and I got to Darwin for my graduation ceremony (what seemed like a looooong way away!) we would sip champagne and laugh about how stressed out I was! So Katie, Tim, Mum and I floated around in their swimming pool, sipping champagne and I couldn’t believe I was finished!!

I wish I could say the rest of our stay in Darwin was as fabulous, however over the course of a few days I developed a tickling cough and on the Sunday, put myself to bed just after lunch where the cough quickly escalated into a raging fever, headaches and general malaise. I was as sick as a dog for days and couldn’t leave the granny flat bedroom where we were staying. Tim caught it off me and a few days later developed the same miserable symptoms. We both were in quarantine for just under a week until we felt slightly better to emerge and plan our trip down to Alice Springs! It was the worst flu-type illness I remember having and we were both feeling extremely worse for wear!

I bought a car in Darwin so on Friday 19th October, Tim and I planned to drive to Mataranka then Tennant Creek then Alice Springs. And that we did. Dosing up on Sudafed and cough mixture, we made the long journey to these destinations, stayed one night to rest then back on the road. We didn’t visit any attractions, focussing our energy on keeping alert while driving to each stop-over!

We arrived in Alice Springs on the Sunday and checked into the best caravan park in the town. ‘G’Day Mate’ Caravan Park is lovely and we had a grassy area with an en-suite bathroom – luxury! The swimming pool was large and clean so we floated around in it to escape the heat. Before long we were joined by a few people who live at the caravan park, 2 of them nurses! One was even a mental health nurse! So we had a lot to chat about and in true territorian fashion, they were quick to invite Tim and I on their social occasions and welcomed us to Central Australia. We are keeping in touch with them and hope to attend lawn bowls this Thursday!

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Unfortunately the heat was too much to bear living out of a camper trailer so Tim and I bit the bullet and checked into a furnished apartment until we can move into our little rental house early November.

I have full time work which I start this Thursday until my graduate program starts in late March. Tim is taking it easy and looking at his options for the time being!

I met a fellow graduate student last week and we chatted for hours which was lovely. Other than that, we’ve been getting paperwork ready, viewed potential rentals, a little bit of sight-seeing and generally settling into a new city!

I’m looking forward to making new friends here in Alice and really miss my friends back home. I guess we can sometimes take having friends around for granted and I’m really feeling it being away from everyone. But this is what happens with change and I know both Tim and I will make wonderful new friends here!

So that’s about it for where Tim and I are at! We survived travelling around WA and have made it safely to our destination of Alice Springs!

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Stay tuned and I’ll update as much as I can.

Lots of love to everyone xoxoxo

 

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Bluest of blue!

Hi! I’m writing this under our annexe overlooking the blue water of Cape Keraudren, north of Pardoo. I have never seen such turquoise blue water and we can’t wait to go swimming tomorrow! We have set up and relaxing after a week of no-so-great holidaying!

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We packed up from Shark Bay and were hoping to check in at an AirBnB in Coral Bay but alas, ’twas not to be (for the fact Coral Bay has bugger all AirBnB’s) so we decided to camp at Warroora Station. We stocked up on supplies in Carnarvon and one of my brother’s rang and suggested we visit Gnoolara Station so we set off there.

Turning right at big sign saying ‘KING WAVES KILL’, we drove the second most corrugated road we had ever driven! Arriving at the camp, we looked around in dismay at the dusty, windy, crowded campsite swarming in surfies while overlooking reefy, rough ocean. We’d come this far, it was getting dark and had to camp the night. Not happy Jan.

The place was interesting if wind surfing, surfing and whatever else is your cup of tea. But for Tim and I, give us swimmable water and beach access any day of the week. So we stayed one night listening to the howling wind batter out camper, packed up the next morning and took off like a bat out of hell. Our number plate ripped off so Tim had to tie is back on with zip ties! That’s how corrugated the road was!

The blowholes down the road were awesome and we had a look at the lighthouse and humpy camp over the other side.

Planning on camping at Warroora Station, we stopped at Milynup Roadhouse where I made the executive decision to drive straight through to Exmouth and stay in a cabin for a couple of nights to feel a bit more civilised!

Exmouth is a gorgeous town with amazing crystal beaches and so much to do. We had plans to snorkel, go on a glass bottom boat, fish and swim swim swim! However that afternoon I started to feel lethargic and achy. Over the next two days, it developed into a stomach bug where I was left with horrible abdominal cramps and … let’s just say, ‘the tummy bug stuff’. We did go for a drive to have a look around and watched the sunset one night which was beautiful. Tim went out by himself one afternoon and saw whales breaching in the ocean.

After three nights in Exmouth, I started to feel slightly more human and we set off to Miaree Pool for the night on our way to Broome. We left there this morning and are now at our current spot.

The place we are camping now is pretty quiet with beautiful views overlooking the ocean. The tide comes in and out regularly, with the next high tide due, according to our neighbours, tomorrow around 2.30pm. We’ve just had a walk down to the water with the tide out and the sand feels like that magnetic sand and really sinky! Tim and I had a race back which was hilarious with our feet sinking deep into the sand with each step!

It was nice staying in a chalet for a few nights but it’s also nice being back on the road especially in such glorious weather. And feeling well and healthy is not something I will take for granted! We have just over 3 weeks to make the trek to Darwin in time for my graduation ceremony and there is a lot we want to see on the way so getting north of Broome is something we’re keen to do. But until then, we’re just enjoying each day and night.

Tim and I get along well, most of the time. Spending 100% of our time together can wear a bit thin and we have our moments, but overall we know we’re stuck together (plus Tim says he keeps the car keys in his pocket so I don’t do a runner! haha). Snappy words are often just left to dissipate in the air rather than arguing over. Travelling and camping together, just the two of us, has taken co-existing to a different level and as much as we can irritate each other, we rely on each other, both for our skills and company. Trying times are overcome when we find somewhere that is paradise and we celebrate pushing through the annoyances of getting there.

We have both gone through the feeling of ‘gee it would be nice just being in a house for a while’ but when we spent time in the chalet, it was nice being back on the road camping under the stars and listening to all sorts of bird life, crickets, frogs and random cars driving past in the middle of the night!

I have found camping/travelling pages on Facebook really helpful and have made a couple of new friends who I will meet when we start our grad programs in Alice Springs.

One FB page of a new friend is: Seeking the Serenity – Travelling Aus which is an awesome and inspiring page of travelling! Check it out!

Keep in touch and stay posted! Love your comments and support xoxoxoxo

 

 

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Dongara to Meekatharra!

As Kevin Bloody Wilson once sang ‘I’ve been everywhere man, I’ve been to Meekatharra Meekatharra Meekatharra…’ and here we are in…Meeka-bloody-tharra.

It’s not bad, I’m not saying it is. We’re just spending the night here because after two nights of no phone reception, Tim and I had to speak to each other and that was weird. So I read a shitload of my book and Tim contemplated the complex issues of the world, like ‘Could he swim in the dam if he doesn’t put his head under the water’ and ‘Should he really have to flip a coin to empty the chemical toilet seeing as Rachel kind of agreed to be in charge of that’.

So we left Dongara AKA Port Denison on Thursday 23rd August. It was an uneventful pack-up until Tim got in the car to drive off, handed me his bathroom key and asked me where mine was (we had been issued one each). I declared that the one he gave me was mine and he had lost his. Adamant the key was his because he ‘had it in his pocket the whole time’, I searched for mine then remembered it was in my pants pocket of which I had put in the plastic ‘washing machine’ bucket, filled with water and woolly wash and Tim had hammered down the lid for a few hours of on the road agitation. We spent another 15 minutes while Tim prised the stubborn lid off the bucket, cursing me and my lack of checking pockets ability under his breath. Key retrieved from a sodden pocket and me murmuring a ‘sorry’, both sets were returned and we were on our way.

We got up to Geraldton to stock up on some vacuum sealed meat from a friendly butcher called Mick Davey Butchers (hit him up at 165 Marine Tce, Geraldton). There he told us about Wurarga Dam which is a cool place to camp.

I’d never been to Geraldton and in my little haven’t-been-further-than-Perth brain, I didn’t realise how big it actually is. And how cool it is. However we didn’t stick around long because we were determined to ‘go bush’ and get as far inland as we could.

So after stopping in Mullewa (99km east of Gero) for Tim to ring his Dad to check on the cat (she is fine) and his sister to check on the dog (she is being a brat) we went onto Stockman’s Pool to find a geocache then onto Wurarga dam!

I made damper for the very first time in our camp oven and it came out perfectly! we had some with our tea then I had it toasted with peanut butter for breakfast.

24/8/18: We had a great sleep. Tim placed the chemical toilet outside overlooking the side of the dam out in the open so using the toilet at night gave us a ceiling of stars! I even watched a shooting star in the middle of the night while on the throne!

We went for a walk around the area and came across an old railway bridge long since abandoned. We appreciated the solid construction and engineering of it. We had a drive along the bush tracks then onto one of the main roads to a demolished homestead.

In the afternoon I had a read of my book and a snooze. When I emerged, Tim suggested we play with the drone for the first time, so we got it all ready, I read the instructions (albeit very briefly) and I got it up and flying. And that’s where the fun ends. Anyone who knows me knows I am too impatient to thoroughly read instructions and as such, once the drone zoomed into the air and away from us, I got frazzled and couldn’t figure out how to make the drone stop ascending and return to base. Further and further it went into the distance until it was just a speck in the sky! I started hollering to Tim “I can’t bring it back! How do I bring it back!?” with Tim replying “I don’t know! You’re the one who read the instructions!”. We watched helplessly as we lost sight of the drone and chased it along the red dirt in a last ditch attempt to somehow magically use the controller correctly for it to zip back and land safely. In a panic, I thrust the controller at Tim who marched onwards where we had last seen the flying dot. I skulked back to camp still wearing my slippers which I, for some reason, thought would be perfectly fine to wear while flying a drone in the Australian Outback.

Tim returned some time later and said the drone battery had gone flat only 600m from where he was so we headed back the next day to look for it. Unfortunately the drone has succumbed to the desert and despite our efforts to search, we left empty handed.

Leaving Wurarga dam, we went through Yalgoo, Cue, Mt Magnet and have now arrived in Meekatharra before we do the trek further north to get to Karijini national park and to the home of my birth, Tom Price.

Stay tuned!

P.S Tim emptied the chemical toilet because, in his words, he couldn’t be bothered with the ‘hoo-hah’ performance of me gagging and carrying on if I did it. Not that I would do that…!? My time will come!

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Please don’t go, I love you so.

It’s crisp here in Denmark, Western Australia, a small town on the south coast. Crisp, fresh, bracing, refreshing… I am a thesaurus! I’m here by myself for a couple of days in a really cool AirBnB on a lake, with iridescent blue wrens with round little bodies skipping around just beyond the glass sliding door; so close yet so far.

How have you been? I think about you, even though I don’t know you. I wonder where you are sitting as you read this blog. Are you happy? Do you know if you are happy? If we don’t have troubles now and then, how would we know when we’re happy?

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That brings me to Anthony Bourdain. Yesterday, Friday the 8th June 2018, Anthony was found in his hotel room in France after taking his own life. Death by hanging. Anthony was a celebrated chef and food writer, featuring in foodie shows such as No Reservations, The Layover and Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. He was never afraid to try what us Westerners would call ‘ugh, really weird food that I would never try in a thousand years’ or ‘I can’t believe he is putting that in his mouth!’.

When I hear about suicides, I feel a pulling gnarly feeling in my heart. My eyes start leaking and I have to look away from whatever it is I’m reading or whoever it is I’m talking to. I’m not a stranger to having suicidal thoughts or, dare I share it, an attempt. When I become aware of a suicide, I feel drawn straight back to the empty blackness that filled my being when I truly believed I was better off out of this world and maybe, in my void of rationality, being reincarnated as someone who is immune to the dark feelings.

Who wants to talk about people killing themselves? Not many, but we need to. We need to not focus on the celebrity ‘live fast, die young and leave a good looking corpse’ but how to reach out, connect with someone; hold their hand, hug them, let them hear you pour out all your reasons of why you think you would be better off not here. And we can let people listen to us, nod their heads, cry with us and purge feelings we have kept suppressed for so long. Feelings that have festered and turned toxic. Feelings that have become imbedded in who we think we are and who we think the world thinks we are.

This too shall pass. 

Yes, I work in Mental Health and I am passionate about mental health. But I know people who don’t work in mental health but are just as passionate about supporting people going through a tough time. You don’t have to have a mental illness to go through shit or feel like shit or wish that shit would just get better.

I can’t sit here and write sentiments like ‘Things will get better’ or ‘You are special, the world needs you’ because although those things can be true, what good is it going to do right now? But what I can say, from my own personal experiences, not quoting anyone but myself is that it is sometimes damn hard to forge ahead, especially when you resigned yourself to being 6 foot under in a matter of days. It is damn hard but a problem shared is a problem halved, and when I reached out to a good friend, when I let her know how low I was and how I needed someone to look out for me; she did. And every day I was above ground, I worked hard at achieving small successes. I went to work even though I hated being there because I was saving to find another job; that helped. I made myself see friends, go to coffee dates and contact my family. I tried to laugh and when I tried to laugh I started laughing because my fake laugh sounded so stupid it was funny.

As I think back, 10 years ago when I was at one of the worst times of my life, I bring myself to the present; where I am now, typing this to thousands of people of whom I have never met and may never will. I’m in a good place, through hard work and determination, through times and events that I thought I’d never recover from; I’m in a good place and I’m going to stay here even if things aren’t good all the time.

The sun will come up tomorrow and you’ll be here. I’ll be here and we can be shoulders of strength to people who truly believed the sun wouldn’t come up. And we can show them it has. Because it will.

There is always someone to listen, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 if you or someone you know may need help. 13 11 14.

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Take care.

Rachel.

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Un-culture shock

I’ve been back in WA for two weeks today. I’ve caught up with a few friends and my Mum, returned to work and entered a few short story competitions (finger’s crossed!). I greatly miss the NT and it has been difficult keeping my mind focussed when I keep daydreaming about being back there!

Life in Albany has gone back to how it was before I left and that is both a good thing and a bad thing. I’ve changed, as I keep saying, but Albany hasn’t because it didn’t need to – I did. I often think back to places I was living in the NT and the people I go to know there; what they are doing right now and if they are happy. Fortunately Facebook has enabled some of us to stay in touch which is a blessing.

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Albany at night. Unsure of who took the photo so can’t acknowledge sorry.

So I don’t actually have any news or exciting things to tell you! The day I flew into Perth I got obnoxiously long sparkly nails which I got removed yesterday – for the sole reason of being able to pick my nose without scratching my brain! – and I feel liberated by typing one key at a time!

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View of Perth city from our hotel room.

I am loving cuddling my dog Izzy. I appreciate her more than I ever have. We just snuggle into each other and breathe the same chilly Albany air, promising to each other that we will cuddle all the time. It has been the opposite with my cat Leila. We have lost any semblance of a relationship we might have had and she looks at me with disdain every morning I get up as if to say “Gee I enjoyed those two months you were gone”.

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We are packing up the house and organising renovations because we aim to leave around early August to go up the coast of Western Australia and hopefully get to Darwin in time for my graduation ceremony. Graduate position applications  for Alice Springs, Darwin, Katherine and Tennant Creek open on Monday so I’ll be getting everything ready for that. As I said, I have two excellent people willing to be referee’s for me so I doubt I’ll have a problem getting one of the positions. Plus my aim is to live and work in remote Northern Territory. Wish me luck though!

The next couple of months is going to be pretty quiet but please stay tuned because I will update regularly (with far more interesting content!) when Tim and I begin our next lot of travel!

Before I go, I do want to thank the Centre for Remote Health in Alice Springs, particularly Jessie Anderson who was extremely supportive and bent over backwards to ensure I was safe, supported, housed, transported etc etc. She was always happy to have a chat and help weigh up options with sound advice and a genuine interest in students having a positive and varied experience. I don’t want to sound gushy, however for someone who is away from home and alone in remote areas, having someone who knows where you are at all times is comforting. If you’ve ever thought about experiencing placements in the Northern Territory, give the Centre for Remote Health a ring, you won’t regret it!

Love to you all. – Rachel 🙂

P.S I had a few bumper stickers made which my three brothers have agreed to put on their vehicles! Here is one of my nephews, Archie, displaying it!

P.P.S AHPRA registration came through so I am officially a Registered Nurse!

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My gorgeous little homey Archie John modelling my sticker!

 

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And that was that! (for now)

It’s done. Or in the fine vocabulary of Vicky Pollard “I DUN IIIIIT!”. 326171

I have finished my Bachelor of Nursing degree and now waiting for my registration with AHPRA (the governing body all health clinicians need to be registered with in order to practice [legally]).

It was a bittersweet ending to my time in Hermannsburg. As is usual with student placements, you just get to know the staff better and feel like you’re fitting in just a little bit more then *woosh!* you’re leaving. You say heartfelt goodbyes to staff you came to admire and enjoy being around, but they will soon have another student to fill your place and the merry-go-round starts up again; same moves, same motions, same things to sign-off.

The Hermannsburg Ntaria clinic staff, like the Tennant Creek, Ali Curung and Canteen Creek staff, are all a really wonderful group of people who I would love to work with in the future so maybe this student might return one day!

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Most of the Ntaria Health Clinic staff!

There were a couple of people in Hermannsburg who I spent time with who I will miss and look forward to seeing again when Tim and I return to the NT.

Ems is a strong and determined new student, who was a pleasure to sit with and rehash knowledge even I had forgotten. She reignited in me the excitement of new beginnings and a sense of self; ‘Why am I doing this’? Ems knew, she’s known for a long time why she is doing this. And being around her, listening to her story and sharing mine, I remembered why I was doing this as well. Thank you Ems.

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Ems, Fran and moi!

And Lulu. Lulu is a magical dog because for some reason I have this crick in my neck and every time I move it, I hear a voice say “Lulu HAS to be in your blog! I’m not writing it down because I just said it. Lulu HAS to be in your blog!”. I’ve never been afraid of a midwife before but I have heard urban legends so Lulu, a rescued pound dog who has white fur that gets stuck in your clothes and is way older than she looks, has now been mentioned in my blog. And I get to keep my womb and any other bits midwives deal with. Lulu’s Mother is a midwife and she isn’t afraid to travel in her new little car.

This week has been a countdown to the day I finish. I was on-call with two RAN’s (Remote Area Nurse, in case you forgot) on Anzac Day and attended a few call-outs with them. I still love remote area nursing and working/living in Aboriginal communities.

Wednesday night, I went to a BBQ down at Fink River with Fran, Lulu’s Mum. There we joined a group of people and sat under the stars, chatted and enjoyed watching the little kids run around. The serenity was, in my opinion, better than Bonnie Doon (sorry Darryl). Everywhere I go, I make a mental note to come back with Tim and Izzy and spend more time there, get to know more people and learn more about ourselves, even if it is sitting quietly and being in our third space.

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Picnic on the Fink River bed

Thursday, we had a lunch together at the clinic and one of the visiting clinicians had made a lime cheesecake to say goodbye to a RAN called Marcia and a congrats to me for finishing. So lovely and appreciated.

This morning (Friday) was my very very last day as an RN student. I went over to the museum to have a look around at the history of Hermannsburg. I took some happy snappys and had a cool drink at the tearoom. Hermannsburg is beautiful little community with lots of places to visit. I’m keen to go back and see Jesus’ footprint near Fink River and just spend more time enjoying the area without rushing.

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Everything seemed slightly surreal as I wandered around waiting for my ride coming into from Alice Springs to take me back. Unfortunately, the driver of the car who picked me up was the most rude, obnoxious piece of work I’d encountered in a long time. I don’t usually draw attention to negative experiences however I am managing to find the funny side in the situation. I’m very assertive and choose when to enter into swapping words, but because I didn’t feel like being left on the side of a desert road with no phone reception and a warm can of Coke Zero, I ignored her comments!

After 8 weeks, moving 9 times and working in 6 different facilities, I have met and worked with some of the most genuine, hardworking, loving people I have ever met. I feel so blessed to have had this experience in the Northern Territory and can’t wait to call it my home, again, but for longer.

I just went and watched ‘Gurrumul’ at the cinema. It is about Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, a blind Aboriginal man from Elcho Island who is a musical and singing prodigy. He has a haunting and powerful voice that can take you to different parts of the universe. I’d highly recommend seeing this documentary.

I had the entire cinema to myself and as it was playing on my mind, I thought I’d quickly check to see if my last two units had been marked. I squinted at my phone and saw I had passed my last two units meaning I now had my degree. I turned my phone off again and sat in the darkness, tears of joy rolling down my cheeks as the rich soulful euphony of Gurrumul’s music swirled around the theatre and caressed my heart. ‘I did it’ I thought proudly, ‘I did it’.

– Rachel

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Photos courtesy of Fran!

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To be human.

I feel compelled to write this. For everyone, especially other students.

I was chatting to a brand new nursing student today who is at the very start of her journey. She is still navigating around the learnline website (online university ‘blackboard’ with all the resources, assessments, grades etc), flicking through great big text books and trying to memorise everything she reads – bless her heart. She said feels overwhelmed. She stopped and looked at me; quietly, just watching to see if my expression changed… hoping to hear some reassurance that it was okay to feel overwhelmed. That things get better – get easier.

What did I say to her? Well, right now I am sitting in Hermannsburg with tears streaming down my face. I’m exhausted. Overwhelmed. I’m days away from finishing so I should be feeling on top of the world, yeah?!

I told the student that it is perfectly normal to have melt-downs. Cry, scream, throw something, yet keep going. Have a break then finish that essay. Go each day to clinical placement even though every inch of your being just wants to stay in bed. Write that damn objective, reflect on that reflection and post a discussion on the discussion board. Tick all the boxes because each day will pass and you’ll be closer to your goal. Minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day … you get the drill.

We push through study and clinical placements as well as our normal lives whether it be looking after children and households, working, friendships, marriages / partnerships, family, hobbies, aspirations, health and self-image. Things can crack and make you feel like shit. It’s cool, you’re not the only one.

I’ve texted a good friend of mine with so many swear words and angry emoji’s that she has sent back a full text page of self-help advice and loving words.

Keep going. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, just keep going because it will get better. And when you get there, it’ll be all the more sweeter.

Take care.

– Rachel 🙂

“She was never quite ready but she was brave, and the universe listens to brave”