Five on Friday: A Return to Blogging

Wow! I didn’t even realise just how long it’s been since I’ve posted until I started scrolling through my photos looking for what to include with this post! (Yes, photos ahead!) So much has happened in the past three and a half months! While I never planned to take such a long break so soon after getting Following Rafiki all set up, I certainly don’t regret any of the many other things that have been taking up my time recently.

I’ve got a couple of other posts in the works (2 travel and 1 personal development!) but for a couple of reasons I’ve decided to start off with something new for me: a Five on Friday post! For those who don’t know, Five on Friday is a popular post in the blogging world, which is basically just a quick way to keep readers up to date with personal things that have been going on.

I really enjoy reading other blogs, and discovered that the ones I keep going back to are those which share a little more personal information. The people I feel I know a bit about; their favourite TV shows, what they do to relax, the people they most enjoy spending time with, and the places they dream of travelling to.

I absolutely LOVE writing about passion, purpose and helping others get the most out of their lives, just as I am always striving to live my best life. But why would anyone take advice from someone they know nothing about? I know I never would! So starting today I’ll be popping up on Fridays to let you know what’s going on in my world! I hope you enjoy 🙂

1. Travelling… home?

In my job here in Penang I am super fortunate to get great holidays, and in December last year I had three weeks off… two of which I used to head back to my old home town of Melbourne, Australia. So, in a way I went home! But who really knows where home is now! I mean, we’ve been living in Malaysia well over a year now, and made that feel like home. But whenever hubby and I are chatting we always refer to Zanzibar as home because that’s where we met and made our first home together.

Then again, for me, Melbourne will always be original home… full of family, old friends and happy places 🙂 It was so lovely to spend time there again and I was very fortunate to be there in Aussie summer (I just counted the other day, it’s been three years since I’ve been anywhere cold! Yay for tropical life!!!) So there were lots of BBQs, beach days and fun times.

sorrento back beach mornington peninsula
Had a stellar day with the fam down on the Mornington Peninsula (a favourite summer holiday spot for many, many years) This is Sorrento Back Beach

Whenever I catch up with my old school friends we always marvel at how different our lives have become. In school we were friends because we had so much in common… and now we’ve all branched out in our own directions. But the best thing has been seeing how so many of us have taken these amazing, scary, circuitous routes to doing something we find fulfilling. There are so many different paths, and if things don’t work out the way you planned there is always another path with another lesson to learn as you go! I feel like my friends and I are living proof of that!

Family forest walks in the Dandenong Ranges
It wouldn’t be a trip back to Aus without going up to Pop’s farm!


Catch ups with family were especially fun this time as we’ve reached the stage where my cousins are getting married and having kids. And it is SO nice to have littlies around at family gatherings again! (The last time that happened in my family I was the little one!)

2. Christmas and New Year in Penang

In a new tradition, hubby and I once again had my brother come and stay with us for Christmas in Penang. It was so fun, and much more relaxed than a big family Christmas (which I do still love!) I felt more confident and comfortable this year too after having done it the year before, which had been my first time to be ‘The One In Charge Of Christmas’! I felt very ‘adult’ being responsible for all cooking, decorating and present buying (even doing the classic wife thing of buying presents for me from hubby!)


My bro also stuck around for New Years’ which was great. We spent plenty of time relaxing, watching movies and swimming in the pool! I love our apartment because we have a room for guests and a sweet pool to chill in 🙂

Bro and Hubby checking out the sweet view over Georgetown from the Kek Lok Si Temple


3. A full-on teaching term

Like the weirdo I am, I was actually pretty excited to get back to work in 2017! Really! I had a big challenge in Term 1 (which has just finished) of teaching an intensive course to school leavers in preparation for taking a Cambridge English Exam, and I was actually looking forward to doing something a bit different. (All my other classes are with young learners).

The workload was really intense and just so constant – no let up, I felt like I was chasing my tail the whole time! But I loved spending that much time with the students and building a fun rapport with them, as well as challenging myself to be a better teacher always making new topics interesting, clear and relevant to them.

My students working hard on their police evidence board to crack the case of the gruesome (fictional!) murder of Jimbo Garter!

To be honest I am so glad that the intensives only last one term! It feels nice now to be settling into a calmer routine with plenty of time to plan for my young learner classes. But I feel like I can look back with pride on the work I did in Term 1. (And it IS important for everyone to take time to reflect on your accomplishments and give yourself a pat on the back!)

4. (Personal) personal development update!

As you know I love learning more about living life to the fullest and self-improvement. I’m definitely no guru, just someone sharing my story as I try to do my best! Over the last couple of months I have had two main focuses: having better mornings, and improving my health and fitness. I would generally consider myself a healthy person, but over the last year I’d noticed my levels of activity decreasing.

Obviously moving to a new country and starting a new job brought with it challenges, and I was adjusting to quite a different lifestyle. In Zanzibar so much exercise is incidental; everywhere I went I was either walking or bike-riding, and the community projects we did were often very physical, like building and maintenance work. Leisure time was spent on the beach playing volleyball or swimming.

But in Malaysia I drive to work and sit at a desk. In the evenings I’m so tired that I just want to read or watch a movie. There’s next to no incidental exercise, and I wasn’t making time to exercise. Something had to give! And so began the slow process of transforming my mornings.

Morning yoga on our bungalow’s balcony in Thailand. I’m loving how the breath awareness and mindfulness of yoga is benefiting all areas of my life!

I’m sure I’ll write a post about this soon because I know that working on a productive morning routine is something that can benefit everyone (even non-morning people like me!) But for now, just a quick run down of what I have been working on and how I’ve built it up

  1. waking up 20 minutes earlier than usual, simply to give myself more time so that I wasn’t rushing
  2. waking up 20 minutes earlier than usual and doing 10 minutes of yoga
  3. waking up 30 minutes earlier than usual and doing 10 minutes of yoga plus some strength and conditioning exercises
  4. waking up 30 minutes earlier than usual and doing a 10, then 15 and now 20 minute cardio or toning (alternating) workout

It’s still early days and although there’s not a huge difference in terms of my appearance yet, I can definitely feel  the difference. I notice when walking, driving and sitting at my desk that my core is engaged and I feel stronger and less susceptible to back and leg aches. Yay! I’ll keep you up to date with my progress 🙂

5. Island Adventures

Two very exciting posts are coming up soon detailing the amazing holidays we had first in Lawgkawi (with my parents) and then in Koh Lipe (just last week!) I could honestly go on and on about how much I loved both these spots and how beautiful they are but I won’t! A few teaser pictures, and then you’ll have to pop back once I get those posts up!!!

Beachy fun on the northern most tip of Langkawi Island, Malaysia



Happy and relaxed Steph in Koh Lipe, Thailand!


Beautiful Sunrise Beach, Koh Lipe – I could honestly stay there forever!


Well folks, that’s it for now! Thanks for sticking around 🙂 Hope to see you back here soon!

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