August/September 2021: My Latest Monthly Summary


Spring has sprung here in the southern hemisphere and I’m…

Still in lockdown.

Yes, my friends, once more, I’m rolling together the previous two months into one giant round-up post because I’ve spent the entirety of August and September in strict lockdown.

And if you thought lockdowns were tough already, imagine going through one while not having a home!

It’s been a challenging few months for Dave and I, both logistically-speaking (having to find a new Airbnb apartment every few weeks when travel is illegal!) and mental health-wise (no routine! No stability! No personal possessions! Kitchens with no cooking utensils! A month in an apartment that receives zero direct sunlight!)

I miss having a home, but more than that, I simply miss the sensation of feeling comfortable and secure.

Despite the struggles, I have plenty of uplifting news and updates to share this month. Most excitingly of all: I finally got vaccinated! That was a relief.

And actually, Australia has been doing so well over the past couple of months when it comes to the vaccine rollout. Of the eligible population, we’re now up to 80% first dose and 60% second. Australia has already surpassed the U.S. on first doses and hesitancy levels are at an all-time low, now that COVID-19 is a visible threat to residents’ lives. I wouldn’t be surprised if Australia ends up at 90% fully-dosed before the end of the year.

And the good news continues: restrictions are finally starting to ease here in Melbourne and international travel is returning to Australia, with the country’s borders set to open up six weeks from now. In short: I have about one more month of lockdown and then things are going to get a hell of a lot better. And most of all, I’m happy to be here. Life is good in Melbourne, despite current restrictions.

There’s a lot to look forward to.

Sunny work days in lockdown

Allow me to take you back to the start of August.

When I left you last, Melbourne had just exited its short, sharp lockdown and normality was back on the menu. I was basing myself close to the city centre this month and so, once case numbers had dropped to zero, I ventured outside to catch up with friends in sunny pub gardens.

Life was good again, and I was so happy to be in Melbourne. This is a city that never fails to leave me feeling loved, and I felt overjoyed to be out in the winter sun and planning my next adventures. With a trip to Tasmania on the cards, I was so excited to travel across Australia at a time when the country had no tourists.

Imagine my dismay, then, when just one week later, a small cluster of cases emerged in the city, sending us all back into lockdown.

I had so much hope back then.

After all, I’d spent the entirety of the past nine months in New Zealand and Australia, where small clusters of cases had never been a big deal. There’d be a leak from hotel quarantine, we’d venture into lockdown for two weeks, we’d eliminate the outbreak, then head into a busy restaurant to celebrate. We’d live pre-COVID lives for the next six months until another small cluster popped up.

Little did I know just how much the super-infectious Delta variant had changed the game.

Unfortunately, August was the month where Melbourne finally lost control of an outbreak and the city, and much of Australia, has subsequently had to come to terms with the fact that Delta has resulted in an inability to pursue COVID-zero.

(Not that COVID-zero was ever intended to be an indefinite strategy for the country — I have to keep reminding readers: Australia was only ever aiming to keep COVID-19 at bay until the population was 80% fully-vaccinated.)

Queueing with what felt like half of Melbourne to get my vaccination!

Much of August was therefore spent dealing with a growing sense of ill-ease. Watching case numbers jump from 20 to 10 to 5 to 35 to 15 to 20 to 9 to 40 and then 50, 70, and 100, and the realisation that this meant I was going to be in lockdown in Australia for the better part of six months.

I dealt with mixed emotions with regards to the realisation that a COVID-free life was no longer the life for me. I was nervous from knowing that my personal risk had now increased, especially as I was still unvaccinated. I was frustrated from learning I was going to be dealing with a long, drawn-out lockdown. And I was relieved, from the knowledge that this was the first step towards normality.

I can’t outrun COVID-19 forever, and I can’t rebuild my life while hiding behind closed international borders.

And so, I shrugged my shoulders, accepted my reality, and turned my attention towards getting vaccinated.

Fortunately, as those case numbers began to rise, Australia finally opened up vaccination appointments to those under the age of 40. My journey to the jab wasn’t without incident or chaos, but I felt nothing but relief after emerging from the vaccination centre.

The view from my balcony in Northcote

We left our Airbnb apartment in mid-August and moved to Northcote: a brand new area of the city for me and Dave. Neither of us had spent time there before, but we’d read that it was vibrant, cool, and multicultural, with tons of hipster restaurants and cafes to explore.

With lockdown on the agenda for our two weeks in the area, I got to see none of what makes Northcote special. Instead, I holed up inside my apartment, concentrated on publishing dozens of new blog posts, and wondered if I would have liked Northcote if I had seen any of it at all.

Fortunately, the version of Lauren from a few months ago had booked an apartment in beachy St Kilda for September, so as we packed our bags once more, I was grateful and happy that we were heading to the ocean.

Views from my daily walks beside the water

As much as our pandemic existence in Melbourne has sucked, I’m grateful, too, to have had the privilege to move. There’s no question that living beside a beach is one of the best ways to deal with lockdown, so I spent September feeling happy and grateful.

Our Airbnb apartment in St Kilda, however, was a disappointment, receiving zero direct sunlight at any hour of the day. When it was 26 degrees outside, we’d have the heating and every light on because it was so dark and cold. And a lack of glasses in the house meant that we got to celebrate Dave’s birthday by drinking champagne out of bright blue plastic cups for kids.

In a way, our grim surroundings made for a better overall experience because it pushed us to leave the house every day to spend hours walking up and down the boardwalk, stopping to paddle in the ocean, keeping an eye out for penguins, and enjoying the healing sea air.

And then there was an earthquake.

An earthquake.

An earthquake in Melbourne! This city never gets earthquakes. It was rated at magnitude 5.9 at a depth of 10 kilometres, which is quite a moderate one, isn’t it? Or at least, for somebody who is woefully inexperienced when it comes to geological occurrences, it felt rather violent. It was the largest one on record for the state of Victoria, and one of the largest in all of Australia — it was even felt by people in Sydney and Tasmania!

And it was good to know that in a natural disaster, Dave and I will simply freeze in place, stare at each other in silent confusion, and do absolutely nothing at all. Let’s hope we don’t ever find ourselves in a more aggressive shake-up! I don’t want to describe the whole experience as fun, but honestly, it kind of was. I was on an adrenaline high for the rest of the morning and couldn’t stop laughing.

Fortunately, there were no injuries in the city, thanks to lockdown, which meant that nobody was stood beneath the single building that crumbled in response to the tremors.

I went to go check out the earthquake damage the following morning, but there wasn’t much to see

Towards the end of the month, we left St Kilda for a brand new suburb and I’m enjoying it even more. We’re in an incredible apartment with a huge balcony that receives plenty of sunshine. The loosening of restrictions now means that I can meet back up with friends for scenic hikes and laidback picnics, which I’m doing every few days. With restaurants due to open back up later this month, and Australia’s borders reopening in November (with no more Managed Isolation for the vaccinated!) life is swiftly improving.

We look set to have a fantastic summer on the cards, filled with friends, travel, and a newfound appreciation for normality.

And that was the month!

Overcome Travel Anxiety

Some Housekeeping

Lockdown has led to me sitting down and reevaluating where I am in life; discovering the things I’d most like to change. After a series of revelations and epiphanies, I’m now fully committed to mixing things up. Every month from now until the end of the year, I’m going to be making some big changes to how I run my business and live my life.

This month, I’m closing down my Overcome Travel Anxiety course.

At this stage in my life, I have neither the time nor the passion that’s required to dedicate myself fully to this project.

To be perfectly blunt: I don’t suffer from anxiety anymore, and I haven’t for years.

But that’s a good thing, right? Surely that’s the pre-requisite for running an anxiety course?

Right. But as an empath, something I deal with is taking on the feelings and struggles of other people and absorbing them into my aura. When I work with anxiety-sufferers, I wear their struggles as though they were my own. I feel their anxiety and their panic, and it takes me back to a person I no longer am.

And let’s face it: I’m not a therapist. I don’t have the tools and experience to set boundaries with course participants and prevent myself from taking on another human’s dread. I haven’t had that training.

I’m at a place in my life where I want to enjoy the pleasure and freedom that comes from realising your own mind is no longer holding you back.

I’m so proud of this course.

I poured my heart and soul into it, and over the past four years, helped roughly 200 people overcome their anxiety disorder in order to explore the planet. Participants have told me that taking it has changed their lives, and it’s because of this that I kept running the course for as long as I did, despite the fact that doing so was making me unwell. It’s an incredible feeling to know that you’ve helped improve the situation of another human being.

If the cost of doing so, however, is feeling myself teetering ever so slowly backwards, I have to prioritise myself. I no longer have an anxiety disorder and I no longer want to repeatedly tell the story of how I overcame an anxiety disorder. I want to move on, man. That’s not who I am anymore.

I’ve been mining my trauma for *content* over the past decade of my life — whether to provide entertainment or to help others — and I’m not willing to continue doing so. I’m 30 years old! I shouldn’t be developing shingles from emotional exhaustion at my age.

And so, it’s time to burn it down.

I’ve discounted the price of the course to $10 and will close it to new sign-ups on October 31st.

Go check it out if you’re even the slightest bit apprehensive about travel. It contains 60,000 words of my absolute best tips, tricks, and advice for overcoming anxiety to see the world. When it’s gone, it’s gone. I won’t be republishing it anywhere else.

My Next Steps

October is one of my favourite months of the year and something you might not know is that I love scary movies. I have a long-held tradition of spending every evening of October watching a different horror film before I go to bed. Lockdown makes this a hell of a lot easier, because where else do I have to be at night? Being in the southern hemisphere makes it a hell of a lot stranger, because it’s spring and sunny and not very Halloween-y.

Pubs are due to open here in Victoria before the end of October, so I’m fully expecting to be slingshotting myself into every beer garden within a 10 mile radius of whatever Airbnb apartment I find myself in.

And I’ve got my second jab in a couple of weeks! Given that I have little risk of being exposed to the virus while working from home, I decided to push out the second dose to eight weeks, as a longer gap gives you a stronger immune response.

Woohoo! I’m excited to get back to my life again.

What do you have planned for October?

9 Comments

  1. October 2, 2021
    Reply

    Just a thought – I understand your reasons for discontinuing your course, but it seems a shame to completely lose all that hard work you’ve put into it. Could you not turn it into a book? At 60k words it’s almost book length already.

    • October 3, 2021
      Reply

      It’s difficult for me to publish a book, as I have to get permission from my publisher to do so. And the amount of time it would take to repackage into a book along with the lack of money it would make (travel anxiety is a very niche topic), means it isn’t worth it to do so.

  2. October 3, 2021
    Reply

    I spent most of the year accidentally locked out of Canada (where I normally live) and Ontario had the longest lockdown ever, which I “lived” through my husband and son stuck over there. Anyway, every time I was getting frustrated, I kept on reminding myself that when it comes to travel restrictions, Australia tops it all. Okay, it sounds awfully mean, sorry… but it helped me putting things in perspective, I read so many stories of Ausssie unable to come home, leave Australia, and the whole strict two-week hotel quarantine sounds like a nightmare from an outsider’s point of view.

    You have all my sympathy, it seems like a long, long lockdown and experiencing it in Airbnb and all sucks. I was suprised to see how fast vaccination efforts are picking up down there, which is great!

    • October 4, 2021
      Reply

      Wow, that sounds like such a stressful experience to go through, Zhu — so many separated couples during the pandemic, and I know it easily could have happened to me and Dave.

      And no worries about sounding mean, haha, Melbourne is about to become the most locked down city in the world soon, so things have been pretty rough here in Victoria. (On the other hand, some states in Australia haven’t had a COVID case in 500 days and it’s still like a glorious pre-pandemic world there!) But I agree about the whole you-can’t-leave-Australia-thing. It’s completely illogical and terrible — how is keeping people here making anybody safer? Fortunately, at least, the end is finally in sight!

      Although I have to say that I actually loved my hotel quarantine! Getting put up in a 4-star hotel, where I could just order room service, take long baths, and watch Netflix for two weeks, while not spending a penny, didn’t feel like much of a hardship, haha.

  3. October 3, 2021
    Reply

    Couldn’t you self release it? I agree, it seems like someone could really benefit from this in the future.

    • October 4, 2021
      Reply

      My publisher has right of first refusal, so I need to talk to them first when I want to self-publish and entertain any offers they could make, which is a multi-month process, or I’m in breach of contract.

      But even so, the course would need to be reformatted as a book, which would take weeks or even months of solid work, and honestly? I can’t justify doing it. I would likely make $10-20 a month from it as a book — at least based on sales of the course. Plus, I really do want to get away from writing about anxiety and how I overcame anxiety and being associated with anxiety — it’s making me unwell to continually try to help people with it. I have to start prioritising myself and my wellbeing. Put your own oxygen mask on first before helping others and all that. I’ve been doing the opposite for years.

  4. ole
    October 4, 2021
    Reply

    nine-ish months? you’re pregnant, i’m calling it

  5. Rachel
    October 12, 2021
    Reply

    This blog and your comments has really irritated me. Whilst I’m pleased that you no longer have travel anxiety, I’m really disappointed that you’ll be taking down the course. When I initially signed up, you stated the course as being ‘lifetime access to all further updates and improvements to the course’. I get that you don’t want to add anything further to the course, but this seems unfair for those who paid and signed up to this course. Surely you just can leave the content?

    • October 13, 2021
      Reply

      Hi Rachel,

      I think you’ve misunderstood. You do have lifetime access to the course — I’m just closing it to new sign-ups.

      I can see it’s been four years since you signed up for the course, so as a reminder: when you do sign up, you’re given a link to download a pdf, which contains the entirety of the course content. Once you’ve downloaded it, you have it for life! There’s nothing for me to remove or take away from you — the content will always be there on your laptop, and the link to download the course will always be in your email.

      And if you happen to accidentally delete or misplace the course, or lose the link to download the pdf, at any point in the future, just log into your Gumroad account to re-download it or drop me a message and I’d be happy to email the file to you.

      I’ve just sent you a full refund, so you can now have your lifetime access for free — sorry to have irritated you so much.

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