Juggling on beach

1. Yes, I can juggle. This was the first time I juggled clubs. It was on a beach in Chile. Since then I’ve learned a range of tricks, but am a bit rusty because I haven’t practised in ages. I used to juggle 4 balls, too, but badly! I’ve also juggled fire. And swords. One time each (just to prove to myself that I could do it).


2. Speaking of big knives, I owned a machete when I lived in Tonga. Useful for cutting open coconuts and killing molokau (giant biting centipedes).


3. I’ve lived in three earthquake prone countries (Chile, New Zealand, Tonga). I’ve experienced a few earth tremors, but no quakes. One earth tremor occurred was when I was holding my machete in one hand and a coconut in the other, ready to split it open. The earth starting shaking, and so did my hands. I put the machete down.


4. I can’t sing in tune. Which is particularly painful since I’m a musician. I can play piano but can’t sing along.


5. I was vegetarian for 10 years. I didn’t do it properly (not enough protein and iron). The irony (pardon the pun) is that I now need to eat meat regularly to keep my blood sugar steady.


6. I resisted the trend to get a mobile phone … until 2003.


7. I love to make handmade creative presents, and to organise a surprise party.


8. I like to dance. I have one dance style for nearly all types of music. I often get asked if I have taken belly dancing classes because I have good abdominal isolation. I also get told that I move my hips too much when I salsa.


9. I don’t like reading fiction. Apart from collecting Babysitting Club books as a pre-teen, I have barely bought any fiction books. (I just checked my bookshelf. Just one fiction book: The Alchemist).


10. I’m extremely sensitive to light. I hibernate during summer. And I’ve even been known to wear sunglasses and a hat, indoors, at 6.30am. Seriously.


11. I sometimes wonder why my ancestors from Ireland, Scotland and England ever migrated to this sun-drenched country. (Well, some of them were convicts, so I suppose they didn’t have a choice).


12. As a teenager, I drove a yellow car which my friend nicknamed the Tweetie-mobile.


13. In primary school I got straight A’s except in “Participates in class discussions”. I got a D. I was super shy.


14. Hmm, I’m not so shy now. I’m a bit of an icebreaker, striking up conversation with anyone: at the bus stop, at the shops, on the street, at parties. Sometimes it takes me courage to say the first sentence, but after that, I’m fine.


15. At age 15, I appeared in Dolly magazine. No, I wasn’t a model. It was a professional photo shoot though. I was a finalist in a World Vision comp, and the prize was appearing in Dolly. That was a watershed moment in my life — when the magazine came out, I decided it was time to overcome my shyness. I wanted to die of embarrassment, but instead I learned to say “thank you” to compliments.


16. I’m often mistaken for an extravert (probably has something to do with #14). A friend describes me as a well socialised introvert. I definitely need to recharge by myself, but I love the synergy of being around people (as long as I get a chance to recharge solo later).


17. The introvert in me loved the 20 entire days of my life that I’ve spent in silence. That’s two 10 Day Vipassana meditation retreats.


18. I spent three days in the Andes (in the precordillera, the foothills) … just me, my backpack and a gringa friend. We hitched + hiked from Chile to Argentina. We crossed rivers. We climbed some serious hills. We evaded pumas (the big cats, not the sports shoe). We got lost on snow covered tracks. Did I mention that I had no hiking experience up to this point?


19. I’m currently 34. I’ve always looked younger than I am. When I was teaching at uni, I would often be mistaken as a student.


20.  The first time I did public speaking competition, I stood in complete silence for the entire two minutes.


21. I’m not a fan of dogs. I’ve learned self-defence techniques to protect myself from Third World scrawny dogs. But even well-fed, happy First World dogs scare me.


22. I don’t like hot, humid weather. Don’t ask me why (or how) I lived in Tonga for two years.


23. I feel happiest just before a lightning storm, when the air is charged with negative ions.


24. I’ve worked in an icecream store, fruit shop, sleeping bag store … and a dodgy telemarketing job. I lasted in telemarketing for a few days. The company ended up on A Current Affair not long after.


25. I’ve studied six languages (Spanish, French, Portuguese, Tongan, Persian and Maori). Spanish is my strongest. When I lived in Chile, I sat exams in Spanish (and passed — but only just!). I also did public speaking to a crowd of 500 (including a tongue twister on the dreaded Spanish ‘r’). This was a classic case of pushing myself out of my comfort zone. Luckily I didn’t get a mind blank like #20.


26. I’ve got a mild form of prosopagnosia (facial blindness). I struggle to recognise people out of context (ie. if I see work colleagues at the supermarket, it takes my brain a while to compute!). I do have an excellent memory for associations with places, though. I can remember where all my students have sat in class. And I associate ideas with the place where the thoughts occurred. (For example, I remember exactly where I came up with every idea for Activate28 — at the traffic lights near Botany Bay).


27. I love arthouse and foreign films. Most Hollywood films bore me. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was a notable exception. Loved that movie.


28. When I was 28, I did a major declutter, giving away all my belongings except for a suitcase with a selection of letters, diaries and foreign language dictionaries! I haven’t looked back …


Now it’s your turn …

Want to share some random facts about yourself? You don’t have to do 28, but I’d love to hear a few! Share them below or email me: erin [at] activate28 [dot] com