The Habit of Happiness

Published on SBS Life

There are few things as sought after, nor as elusive as happiness, but what exactly is happiness? Are we born with it? Is there a secret source that we can tap into, or is our obsession with being happy actually dooming us to a life of discontent?

Delving into the question of happiness leads us deep into a labyrinth of spirituality, philosophy, religion, gender, culture, biology and psychology. It is the subject of thousands of books, countless contemplations and endless exploration by neuroscientists. But does it really have to be so complicated? Can’t we break it down and come up with some kind of cheat sheet for happiness? Actually, thanks to the rise of the positive psychology movement happiness has been taken out of the esoteric realms and planted firmly in the scientific arena, and the formula is surprisingly simple. It starts with looking in the right places. Continue reading

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Food for the Gods on the Island of the Gods

Published in Vacations and Travel Magazine

Island of the Gods, surf mecca, shoppers paradise, land of golden beaches, big smiles and Bintang beer, Bali certainly needs no introduction, but its cuisine does! In recent years the island has become a foodie destination, with trendy restaurants in the ‘Eat Street’ district of Seminyak serving up flavours from around the globe. Those in search of cheap and cheerful Indonesian favourites still head to the atmospheric night markets and warungs (local eateries, ) but finding traditional Balinese cooking can be surprisingly difficult. Continue reading

About me

When I was 21 I left Australia strapped into a giant purple backpack…… I wanted to go everywhere and see everything and my quest took me around the world, from the steamy jungles of Mexico to the pyramids of Guatemala, and the hidden surf beaches of El Salvador. Travels through North America led me from Venice Beach to the Redwood forests of northern California and on to the icy mountain peaks  of Canada. Back in the states I stumbled onto the Grateful Dead culture and  went on tour,  then flew to South America and travelled by land from the hazed streets of Santa Marta Colombia, across the mountains through Ecuador and Peru. I saw the sunrise over Machu Pichu and watched pink flamingos dance in a bright red lake in midst of the vast salt planes of Bolivia. There was a gut-churning flight over the Nazca lines, and an awe-struck moment watching the sun set and the full moon simultaneously rise over the Valle la luna in the Atacama Desert of Chile.

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A walk on the wildside

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I drive up to Ubud early in the morning, dark ominous clouds hang over the hills creating a moody backdrop. I hope the rain will hold off for the next few hours as I have signed up for a herbal walk, and trudging through rice fields in torrential rain isn’t quite what I have in mind. Continue reading

Bathing in the Ganges

Published on SBSLife

For devout Hindus a ritualistic dip in the holy waters of Varanasi is said to purify the soul, but as pollution levels of the River Ganges rise, spiritual renewal may come at a price.

I arrived in Varanasi at dawn and made my way to the Ganges as the sun began to cast its glow over the waking city. The sound of music, ringing bells and chanting filled the air as the city came alive in a mad frenzy of devotion. A man walked slowly into the river, arms outstretched, a look of ecstasty on his face as he called out “Ganga Ma ki jai” (Long live Mother Ganga.) Clearly this was no ordinary river. Continue reading

Living with Dying

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Wedding Day

A version of this story was published on SBS Life

Determined to remember their life outside of cancer, a young family hit the road for an epic six-week, 10,000 km trip across Australia, chasing dreams, building memories and finding solace in the wide open spaces of the outback.

“Cancer is just a word. It doesn’t have to be our reality. This is a love story about living cancer, not surrendering. It’s about making every moment count,” says Sarah Widodo, whose husband, Catur Widodo, has Pseudomyxoma Peritonei – a rare and terminal cancer of the appendix. They have two children, ten-year old Jala and four-year old Kyan. “We wanted to create happy memories for our two boys and to gift Catur some adventure in his life,” Sarah tells SBS. “We had always been gypsy nomads before cancer made us stagnant, stuck inside a system, reliant on medical help. A road trip helped us remember who we are. Cancer is just a small piece of the story.” Continue reading

Living with the Dead

My Days as a Deadhead, published in Farang Untamed Travel 2005

 

Jerry Garcia, singer, songwriter and founding force of the Grateful Dead was a larger- than-life character, hailed by many of his fans as a Messiah-like figure. When he died in 1995, 20,000 people gathered in San Francisco for a candle-light vigil. Shortly after, the band announced their split and to many it seemed like the end of an era. But time has proved otherwise Continue reading