21 years. Where have they gone? On the 22nd of December 1992, I was born in Campbelltown hospital at 7.24am, unaware of the adventures that would await me. I was home for my first Christmas three days after I was born. Very topical considering Natalie means born on Christmas day. For these 21 years I haven’t moved house, still living in a somewhat quiet location behind a golf course in the Macarthur region. Not so quiet when a golf ball smashes through the window though. I have jumped out of a plane, swam with dolphins and sharks, paraglided and white water raftered. The list is endless.. These things and many more have influenced who I am today from childhood experiences to what I get up to now.
Growing up I was pretty lucky with my Mum starting home day care. I couldn’t tell you how many kids walked through our door over the past 10 years. It was like always having an extended family and preschool within my own home. It has made me more social for sure and the ability to be able to adapt to change. Five kids running around our house, from just born to school children, we had endless toys, games, lego, bikes, swings, dress ups! More than what any child could ask for. Books galore, puzzles, storytime and even now I still live by the post lunch siesta. It is still amazing to get christmas cards from families that Mum used to look after and how they have grown up over the years. I am not going to lie, I cried when Mum quit as I loved having the kids around to keep me and her young at heart. Secretly I loved her being at home so she could pick me up from school when I wanted to come home early. It gave me a great start to life and I suppose made me love kids.
I started school in 1997 at a local public school. I refused to wear a dress and went to school in shorts and a polo like a boy. All about practicality I say. I was the tallest over the boys and always stood at the back in the middle for school photos. All throughout school, I never sat for 13 school photos. I only stayed there for two years before I moved to Anglican school for 2 years. I joined choir, enjoyed being a buddy for prep and learnt abit of German which I still know now. Once again I moved schools, shed a few tears and moved to the local Catholic school to finish Primary School. Moving to my final school actually changed me. I went from walking cross country to winning it, I grew out of my tom boy ways, made a lot of new friends and learnt how to do a lot less homework or none at all. Three different primary schools and I never moved house. Don’t ask. My next six years were spent at John Therry, next door to my primary school. I went through school being the sporty smart one. A lot smarter than people realise or some who say teachers pet. I missed more school days then I could count from all the sporting carnivals I went too. Something pretty cool in Year 11 was I went to Tafe on a Tuesday afternoon instead of doing sport and got my certificate III in Real estate. This is something I am continuing to pursue.
I was always a active child and grew up from an early age swimming and dancing. Dancing was something that over time I grew out of. The daily and weekend commitments, the makeup, the hair wig curls and the exams just weren’t me. I moved from learnt to swim, to Bronze, to Silver, Junior Gold and Gold. I think my Mum hated the day I went to Gold as it meant 5 mornings a week getting up at 4.50am and 4 afternoons being at the pool. It was bascially my second home for countless years and even became a 10 year member of Campbelltown swim club. I don’t miss the sore shoulders but I miss the commitment and group of friends that I grew up with over the years. Throughout my early years, I started playing netball on the side for extra fitness and 7 year later I put the ball away. I never stopped driving from one thing to another or I mean Mum and Dad didn’t. By the end of my swimming career, I did 5km open water swims and compete at Nationals. Like I said I went from walking cross country or watching tv instead to winning my first NSW state cross country in 2008. From then on, triathlon was definitely in the sights and in 2010 I competed in my first triathlon. I nearly failed my drafting license with my first national being my first time riding on the road and I crashed somewhat a lot over the first few years. Triathlon has now become my full time job as such and I love representing my country all over the world.
My first ever plane trip was to Cairns in year 6 and I couldn’t have been more excited to put on brand new clothes and look all pretty for the airport. That’s what you do right? It felt like a luxury. Now I have lost count of all my flights. People ask me all the time what place I love the most out of all my travels. I honestly could not tell you. Every place brings something unique or back a good or bad memory. I feel pretty privileged as a 21 year old to have been to so many places and to realise there are so many more at my doorstep. You don’t only get to see places in travel but meet amazing people and make connections all around the world. Although we didn’t travel out of the country when I was growing up. I was lucky to travel a lot around Australia, camping and bush walking with my family. A lot different to what most kids that age would do. My parents knew how to make us sleep well!
I haven’t had too many injuries in my lifetime (touch wood). A few cuts, bruises, battle scars, a few broken bones, bruised ribs and shin splints. My most silly one was braking my arm in touch football, running backwards and tripping over my pigeon toe feet. A pretty scary experience for me was in Year 12 at school. I lost a lot of weight very quickly. I was cold all the time, I didn’t want to be social, I never went to school and I didn’t want to admit I had a problem. I spent a few days in the cardiac ward in Campbelltown Hospital as my heart rate was so low, I was wasting away. A very slow 24 beats when I was sleeping was definitely the easiest way to get attention from the medical staff. I look back on it now and realise what I did was stupid but it has opened my eyes and I couldn’t thank my family and friends for the support they gave me.
I grew up with a kelpie. My parents got him as a puppy and he happily enjoyed dragging me around the backyard or joining me for a bath when I was little. He was my childhood pet and still remember the day he died. The hardest thing in life is saying goodbye. A few years later we headed over to the animal rescue shelter to meet a mud covered gorgeous white labrador , Keesha. She doesn’t bark but would rather lick you to death and be a human vacuum cleaner. I would be lucky to get a 100m run out of her but she is my perfect companion and company.
I honestly think I have one of the worst birthday in the world but a very easy one for everyone to remember. Once known as Dooms day in 2012, we are stil alive and kicking thankfully. I have had some amazing cakes, presents and birthday parties over the years. Discos, Softplay or soaking up the sunshine at my house. This year my 21st was pretty mellow with my wisdom teeth being pulled out a few days before. Don’t really want to fuss about getting older as now I am sadly not getting any wiser anymore.
Who knows what the next 21 years will bring, or even 2014 at that matter. I ended and started the New Year in Christchurch. A beautiful part of the world that I still can’t comprehend the damage from the earthquake in the town centre to surronding towns. It was amazing seeing it from high up for a New Years Eve surprise and I couldn’t have asked for a better tour. I am now back up in Falls Creek for a few weeks to kick start the 2014 season!