I wake up at the Whittles, Jo and Leanne. I slept well again last night. Prior to this trip I’d really been struggling with sleep. I had a lot on my mind. This trip is a remedy for me, I know it.
Quick shower and I realise that so far on this trip, I’ve tried 5 different shampoo’s and conditioners, 5 different tooth paste varieties and I’ve sprayed deodorant out of at least 10 different cans. I think I’ll change from my usual brand when I get home, I really like the Rexona dry that I tried yesterday so that’s what I’ll get when I’m next at the shops.
Leanne makes me breakfast, avocado on toast. She asks if I’ve ever had it with vegemite and I haven’t so I try it out; it’s pretty good! I fill them in on what I’m up to next and it’s time to leave for Kiama Scout Hall. I’m meeting Julia there who offered to shout me a coffee and asked if I could help to prepare the food for their drop in centre. Every Tuesday, Julia and a bunch of other volunteers meet to prepare food, drink, tea and coffee for anyone who needs it. They offer friendship, conversation and good will to anyone needs it in the area. They are all lovely.
Julia takes me up the road to a beautiful little café, Milk and Honey. It overlooks the harbour and it’s a beautiful morning for us to get to know each other. The café owner comes out and starts chatting. She encourages me to continue the Kindness Journey and to try and reach as many people as possible. She tells me to be kind to myself and to love myself. I promise I will and that I will be back to visit this incredible café one day.
Back to the Scout Hall where I meet Tim. He’s there for a laugh, a chat and some food. I learn more about his background and what he’s about. He’s been homeless for the past 7 years and he appreciates what these volunteers do for him and his mates every week. He tells me stories of his life, how he once rode his bike from NSW to QLD to raise money for Leukaemia research. He laughs at the irony of him now having Leukaemia. He’s doing OK but life is a little tough at the moment.
I’m running late for lunch with the crew at Wave FM in Wollongong so Tim volunteers to take me to the train station. I have no idea where it is so his company is very welcome. We chat some more and he offers me some cash from my train ticket. The man is homeless and I know he doesn’t have a lot. I decline the offer but can’t help but be effected by his gesture. A man that has very little has just offered me a share of the money that he has. He says it’s for a good cause and that he wants to help. I don’t take the money but ask him to shout someone a coffee with who needs it more than me. We hug goodbye and he hopes to be able to follow my journey some more down the track. He tells me to be safe; the world is good but it can be dangerous. I know he is speaking from experience. His desire to protect me reminds me of my brothers.
I’m the youngest of 4 kids and have three older brothers who don’t let me get away with much at all. You can imagine what it was like for me growing up and trying to date when I was a teenager.
On the train I write a few things down and then make my way towards Central CBD in Wollongong to meet Mel Grieg.
We meet in the car park and I’m a little nervous. I have heard a little bit about Mel through some friends prior to this trip and I know that she has an incredible background. She see’s me as she exits her car and we hug immediately. She’s so humble and down to earth and I immediately feel at ease. The place is fancy and I’m in thongs, jeans and a hoodie- standard attire for this journey; I don’t have anything else.
We are taken to our table and we sit down. She offers me a drink so I ask for a beer. She gets the wine and we start chatting. The conversation flows because of her humble nature. Thinking on it now, I’m not sure what I was expecting but it’s so nice to be able to have a good conversation with her. We talk about my trip so far; how it’s been and how the journey come about. We talk about the hard hitting stuff too. I find out more about Mel and the ride she’s been on in life for the past 4 years.
Mel has also been touched by suicide. She’s been subject to bullying, trolled online and emotionally effected by people with an uneducated opinion about mental health. She is strong. She’s been through more in this life than most but has used those life events to better the world that we live in. She is active in promoting positive mental health strategies in schools; speaking at many along the way and sharing her own battle with depression to help break the stigma that surrounds mental health in this country. She is an ambassador for Endometriosis Australia, Childhood Cancer Association and Bully Zero Australia Foundation. If that’s not impressive enough, she tells me how she founded ‘troll free day’ which helps to combat trolling and cyber bullying. I admire her strength, commitment and resilience. Her humble personality and easy going nature make her even more impressive in my eyes.
She encourages me a lot. In life, charity work and especially on the journey that I’m currently on. I appreciate the reinforcement. It is very welcome.
We’re joined by Andrea from the Wave FM sales team. Andrea is a young professional who has sorted us out with the lunch in front of us. We order our food and plenty of it. I swear I’m gaining weight. Everyone wants to feed me.
Conversation is easy between the three of us. I’m intrigued by what they both do for a living and they ask me plenty questions about this adventure. Mel does a quick interview with me before jetting off to the gym for the afternoon. We grab a quick photo and she offers to stay in touch down the track which I appreciate.
Andrea drives me across town to the Novotel where I’m spending the night.
I’m met by one of my best friends in the afternoon. She has a spare half an hour before heading back to work for the afternoon. She offers me a drink but it’s against the rules so I pay with some of the money that people have given me along the way. We laugh about the situation and how I refuse to break the rules. I’m pretty stubborn like that. Sometimes it’s a good thing but sometimes it works against me. I’m certain that it’s the reason that I’m here today though so I’ll keep it for now.
My doctors often laugh at me when I’m injured or working at some sort of rehabilitation exercise. They’ve nicknamed me doctor because I’m always sharing my own uneducated medical opinion with them when I’m recovering from injury. I am a nightmare to my physio too.
Another old mate joins us and we keep chatting. I’m being met in a few hours by Keshia and Jo and Leanne from last night. I’ve met them all before so it’s awesome to see them again.
We head off to a Mexican restaurant where I eat more than I should again. Kesh is my ride there and back so after dinner, when we are making our way back to the Novotel, Kesh gives me two Visa Gift Cards for my journey beyond here. In true me fashion, I go red at the gesture but Kesh insists on me taking them. Like I have with all of cash donations so far, I promise that if I don’t need the cash for an emergency situation, I’ll put the money towards the next Kindnessfactory cause when I’m back home.
I go to bed tired. Grateful, but really tired. I’m full of love and food that’s been given to me so far and I’m excited to see what Melbourne brings me tomorrow. I can’t wait to take this journey to another state!
Tomorrow I’ll eb getting a ride from the crew at BonVoyage Transfers from Wollongong to Sydney Airport before taking off to Melbourne for some more fun. I’ll be dropping in at Engadine on the way through to catch up with our website administrator, Anthony. He’s taking me through some necessary training and shouting me a coffee (as if he doesn’t do enough for me already).