Posts tagged travel
Facing fear.... on the wrong side of the road

Last week I was in Spain on holiday.

But it wasn’t just an ordinary holiday.

This was created as an opportunity for me to face one of my biggest fears - driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road!

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It feels somewhat silly to even admit, as for many people it’s simply no big deal. Yet it’s been something that has been increasingly bothering me for a number of years and more recently scenarios have come up where it would’ve been useful for me to have driven. As I plan to travel more in coming months I sensed these opportunities may show up more and more.

So I had a choice to make.

Change or stay the same.

I realised that I didn’t want to miss out on an opportunity simply because I wasn’t prepared to drive on the other side of the road! 

I shared these fears with a friend. I shared with her my research on looking for a days European intensive driving course (which wasn’t cheap!) Then she proposed that we head off to Spain and stay in her parents apartment, and that she be the second driver as back up for me on the hire car.

So that’s what we did!

As it happens the entire holiday cost half the price that the days course would’ve done and I got a much richer ‘real life’ experience because of it, and I got to spend some quality time with two best friends (and her little baby) in the sunshine by the sea. As it also happens I actually forgot to add my friend as second driver when I booked the car so I had no choice but to do all the driving! ha ha

Upon heading back to the airport on the final day, we came to the main road out of the town to find it shut off due to an annual triathlon race.

It felt pretty intense, no-one around us spoke good English, we were pushed for time in getting to the airport and to be honest it started feeling felt pretty intense. There seemed no way to go and in the end a police motorbike had to escort us on a make-shift route the wrong way down one-way streets to find an alternative route so we could be in our way. 

I feel really proud of finally facing my fears... of driving on the other side of the road, in the dark, re-routing round roadworks, on motorways, on small country roads, through towns, parking in a tight space in a multi-storey car park, following behind a police escort, and often with a crying baby in the back seat! (he didn’t cry much only on long boring stretches when stick in his car seat!) I even did a little trip to the supermarket on my own to try out a solo trip.

So I went to Spain on holiday.

A holiday to face my fears!

But now I have a question for you…

This is a story about me, but it’s not really about me.

It’s a story about fear. A story about the choice to change or stay the same. About creating space to say ‘yes’ to opportunity.

Where in your life is fear holding you back, and what could you choose to do about it?


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Finding the balance in letting go

Over the last few months (maybe even few years) I have felt increasingly pushed and pulled between wanting to get rid of 'everything' and live a very minimalist life, but at the same time wanting to hold on to all the 'creations' and memories of my childhood and my school years, holding onto all my art and craft materials, all the bags and boxes of recipe ingredients and food photography equipment lining my kitchen shelves, and of course all my books!

I find huge comfort and creativity in these things, but in equal measure, I find it all overwhelming and suffocating...

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Knowing there are stacks and boxes in the loft and under my bed needing sorting through 'at some point' creates a low level of anxiety that never quite leaves me, a subtle heaviness that holds me back. I have observed this for some time.

I want to travel and live a more transient nomadic life, not for ever but for a while, and all these 'things' are stopping me. I am letting them stop me. Why is that?

I feel incredibly emotional at the thought of just letting it all go, but at the same time a huge sense of liberation. Tears prick my eyes as I write this (unexpectedly)

Maybe that's called starting over?

Do I need to start over?

I recall almost ten years ago now, one weekend totally out of the blue my ex-boyfriend at the time stripped his life almost completely bare to prove to himself he could do it. To prove to himself what was essential. To get curious about what made him truly happy.

He packed everything he owned into boxes in the garage and challenged himself to live from the contents of a single holdall for a week, which became two weeks then one month. He slept on a roll up camping mat on the floor net to the bed for that time period also.

Once the month was done, he slowly added things carefully and consciously back into his life and got rid of the rest, the majority.

I remember thinking he was absolutely crazy at the time. But now I look back and smile with a shift in perspective, a new level of understanding. Extreme maybe, but only now do I begin to understand.

I wonder how to find the balance in letting go. How do I begin to negotiate this task?

Marie Kondo would ask "does it bring me joy?" Yet, so often I find it is not that clear cut. Many of these things do indeed bring me great joy, I'm just not sure that is the question I need to ask…

I have always formed strong attachments to things and struggle to let go often long after they have served me... relationships, clothes, habits... it drains my energy and holds me in the past. On the flip side, memories can be so beautiful, but even in their beauty can hold you back and stop you looking forwards.

I am a creator and my whole life revolves around creativity and using my mind, my hands and all of my senses to interact with and reinterpret the world around me.

The thought of not having access to the diverse physical expression of my art and creativity, not having all my crafting resources to hand to dip into at any given moment quite frankly terrifies me, it pushes me to the very edge of my comfort zone. I'm scared that I will be lost in my head forever with no way to physically create. Even as I write that I know that this is not true.

But maybe this is what I most need to embrace and explore.

Reinterpreting my creative expression through the eyes of a living a minimalist life.

I am curious as to where that might lead...


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Disconnect with the world outside to connect with yourself... End Of The Road Festival

This summer instead of traveling far and wide, I stayed on home turf and have crewed at a few 'wellness' festivals. When back in January I set my intention for this year to live into the notion of 'experiences', I had no idea how that may manifest, the lessons I would learn and the person I would become along the way.

All I knew is that I would open my mind to it all. My mind and my body has never felt so full of life as it does in this moment... And I still have a few months of this year to go!

For me EOTR was one of a kind, a larger festival than the others I've been a part of, with a incredible almost magical energy... Even in the rain that lingered all weekend. 

It was at it's heart a music festival, a first for me. Yet it had an amazing healing area plus a beautiful park and woodland setting, where I spent so much of my time.

On the Saturday morning I had a shamanic healing journey to open up my heart space, something that feels it needs a little extra work to touch aspects that I have not been able to reach and heal alone. It was incredible. Powerful imagery coursed through my mind as I laid down listening to the beat of the shamanic drum. I huge sense of breakthrough, release and healing as first birds and water flowed from my heart space which was later replaced by visions of bright white... doors opening along a white corridor, and dancing across a bright silver sparkling lake. This touches briefly on a few things that came up for me, maybe I'll talk about this more on a later post, or maybe I won't. We'll see.

Appreciating the diversity of people who come together never fails to surprise me. Those drinking into the early hours, families and kids at play and those up at dawn going for a run... all came together in the energy of this event. A space for everyone to express themselves fully and openly.

I was also taught lessons in human nature, expectation and judgement. Working the late shift to midnight on the entrance to the main tent, I realised I had expected to manage the outpouring of 'rowdy crowds' as they exited the huge tent after the last act of the night. There was nothing of the kind. Only polite, happy people who whilst had been drinking, appeared no different to the beautiful souls I had spent time with during the day. Such an opportunity to for reflection. Everyone I met throughout the festival was so quick to help another, offer an apology for the slightest thing and share their true selves so openly and vulnerably. 

The beauty was also in the details. The beauty of nature of course, but also in the silly things and the fun quirky details that really brought a light to my heart. Quotes of kindness cut into leaves, origami butterflies covering an huge oak tree, a stick contest, a treasure hunt and some many other creative ideas that nurtured the inner child in everyone. 

The woods was also home to tiny stages, populated by impromptu performances that you'd be lucky to catch if you happened to walking by. A book case wrapped round the truck of a huge tree, where at all times of day people could be found quietly reading beneath it's branches. To add to the love and the energy of finding and giving, I hid some of my own #sharetheloveletters in nooks and crannies for others to find and keep the spirit alive. I was even amazing to find a gift of my own in return!

I had no phone or internet signal for the entire four days... And accidental digital detox (as I hadn't realised that would be the case!) 

Disconnected to the world outside, I connected with myself, my thoughts, the rain, the music, the rhythms and movement, my creativity, new people and new perspectives.

My senses came alive and so did my inner child.

Always honour the inner child inside you.

The truest self.


 

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Day to day you can always find me hanging out in these places:

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A pilgrimage to Barcelona

Throughout my school years I loved art. 

I had loads of art and design books on my bedroom bookshelf and one in particular was a book showcasing the work of Antoni Gaudi. His architecture… the colours, materials. textures, undulating curves and unique eccentricity jumped from the pages so powerfully. It was my favourite book. There was one creation in particular that always caught my attention as I flicked through the pages… the curving mosaic clad benches at Park Guell, Barcelona. I remembering so well telling my dad that I would visit one day and sit on the benches.

Over the years I often thought back to that book and those pictures. I finished school, I graduated uni with a first class honours degree interior design, I embarked on a career in architecture, I continued to create artworks in my spare time… but still I had not visited Guell Park and Barcelona- the home of Antoni Gaudi.

Fastrack more than 15 years since those school days of dreaming. I was sitting on my bed one morning exactly two week ago today. The weather outside was overcast and my motivation and passion had lulled.  On a whim I decided take a trip to Barcelona. To find and truly experience Gaudi.

Less than 48 hours later I was on the plane. In stepping into ‘experiences’ this year, this was embracing spontaneity it’s finest. This was my heart speaking. 

I spent a week in the sunshine in Barcelona splitting my time between the bustle of the city and the solitude of mountains in Les Planes just outside, where I volunteered in the creation of a live in art gallery being built by two artist friends, set amongst the mountains and lush forest backdrop. 

It felt something of a pilgrimage as I trekked miles across the city of Barcelona to take in all the sites. Feeling like a proper tourist yet also a deeper sense of closure, of fulfilling a dream beneath the surface and beyond that which anyone else could see.  I visited his house (now a small museum), saw the bed which he’d laid, the little stool on which he sat to meditate each morning, listened to documentaries on his life and his deep spiritual practice and his choice to follow a strict vegetarian diet (wohoo, this just made me love him even more, ha!) 

On my last day in the city centre I spent the afternoon and evening as the sun set in beautiful Park Guell. The climb to reach it was incredibly steep… a true pilgrimage! But I found those undulating benches with mosaic tiles full of colour sparkling in the sunlight. A timeless creation. They were everything I’d hoped and more, as they marked the roofline of the building below, a mastery of multifunctional design and the elegant play with levels of the steep topography that I hadn't previous appreciated. Set in a huge circle creating an arena for performances in years gone by.

I sat quietly on the bench, set back from the crowds milling around the centre of the space, reflecting on the trip and the spontaneous decision that had brought me there and the quiet passion that had lived in my heart for so many years. 

There I found Gaudi. I felt his life’s passion and it rekindled mine.

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Day to day you can always find me hanging out in these places:

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We Are Merkaba

On Sunday May 1st as I flew across the skies to Portugal I had absolutely no idea what lie in store. All I knew was that the Merkaba community (formerly called Rainbow City) were waiting to greet me! This was to be my month long birthday present to myself... honouring my continuing journey of self discovery.

"The mer ('light'), ka ('spirit'), ba ('body') union is a sacred one that responds directly to emotion. A simple way to define the Merkaba community would be as a 'Vegan-Yoga-Eco Community' operating from the side of a mountain in the Northern Portuguese wilderness.

I was absolutely comfortable with not knowing what lie in store... It was only when others began asking me 'so what are you going to be doing?' that I began to wonder and worry a little if I should have enquired a little further... I needed have worried!

The Merkaba community is based in the mountains of north Portugal and I had to reach them via a 3.5 hr train ride to Fundao station, it's a small station and there are only a couple of trains that run there each day. When I arrived and the train had left and the few other passengers departed, I thought I was all alone until I spotted a lady in tye-die trousers waiting at the edge of the platform. This was Tracy (amazing raw food chef and yoga teacher) who was also heading there!

Another hour later and we'd arrived.... In time for dinner! We were greeted with hugs by everyone in the community, a tour of the site and shown our rooms in a huge tent like dome- one of two that make up the main living spaces on the site. 

The adventure had truly begun!

Twenty Six days is the longest trip I've taken in my my life so far. What I found interesting what how quickly it became 'normal' life. When I've been somewhere for a week, or even two there is always an awareness around only having a 'few more days left' once the initial wow impact settles. Not this time. Each and everyday was incredible (yes even including the eight days of solid rain) but there was definitely a big chunk in the middle where I became almost complacent- thoughts such as 'I can take that photo any time' or 'I can read those books later' crept in. It's interesting how quickly this can occur, or maybe a beautiful testament to how at home I was made to feel. To really allow myself to become immersed in 'life' and thus grow as a person I am so glad I took an extended stay.

To say this was a life changing trip sounds proper cheesy but it's true. These last couple of months have been deeply magical, with my trip to Thailand so closely followed by Merkaba. My heart arrived wide open and it was filled and remained topped up by the magic and love offered by every single member of the community each and every day I was there.

Love is everywhere.... In every nook and cranny- literally!

It's painted on walls and signs and infused in the food we ate as we held hand together and blessed each meal, yet maybe most importantly (from my perspective) love is abundant in multiple hugs every day. Hugs are a big deal for me- we don't hug enough as a culture and when we do it is often simple the 'action' of a hug with superficial meaning. The Mekaba gang gave the real deal! I have more thoughts on this you may well hear more of another time.

During my stay, there was a combination of those who lived and worked there and those like me that were on 'retreat' - though of the 'reteraters' I was there for the longest time period. Whilst there no obligation to get involved, of course I wanted to join in with the vibe and so I whipped up a few healthy vegan cakes in the kitchen (all the food we ate was locally sourced plant based whole foods), made a couple of dreamcatchers, a big sign for the landscape and helped out with a bit of gardening.  I'll post more all about the food and some recipes on the nutrition blog soon!

The best part of the experience for me was the morning yoga sessions, especially the consistency with which this was practiced by everyone come rain or shine. A practice that has truly changed me. Once again (like the meditation practice at Madhyamaka) it is the energy of the space that created the magic for me, and I will be looking at how I create this energy for myself back home. Some days were taught a structured session, by more often that not the yoga was our own free-flow practice in the sunshine to a backdrop of powerful music and bird song. 

Each session opened with picking oracle cards and I absolutely loved this part of the process... So much more than I ever anticipated. It also shows me how much my spiritual journey has deepened this last year to being open to receiving the message of the cards. It was incredible just how appropriate the messages were at times and cannot be put down to mere coincidence as I once would have declared!

Another proud moment was when I opted to sleep in a hammock hung from some trees amongst the rocks on the mountainside. At one with nature.  Feel the fear and do it anyway. I was all alone. Yet I was not alone at all. There was suddenly no fear in that moment. Only unity. Turning my face to stare at the almost full moon. Time stood still. The stillness filled my soul.

I am the universe, and the universe is me.

As I sat alone again upon waking, watching the sunrise emerge from the top of the trees, I was immersed in the sounds of the birds calling to each other from each side of the mountain. The warmth of the new day greeting me.  I realised that these are the perfect moments, the moments that create our lives, yet the moments so often overlooked.

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Every member of the community had their own unique skills that offered a beautiful contribution to the overall dynamic of the space... Tommy with his Tai Chi, Jamie with his life coaching, Jeremy with his amazing breath work (also known as re-birthing) and Kerri with her reiki. Dan Kruger is the main man- the guy who held the original vision alongside Anthony Lowther when it first emerged as Rainbow City, and has built it from nothing but this powerful vision that has driven him forward ever since. I have huge admiration for Dan's personal journey and was privileged to share an interview with him, one that will form the first in my forthcoming series 'Nutrition Is The Gateway To Your Optimal Self' ....more to come on that very soon!

There is also an incredible spontaneous and playful energy... this is not lost when there is a birthday in which we take the opportunity to dress up, have a morning rave and drink apple cider vinegar shots for a post breakfast boost!

The gang in their birthday party finery! 

The gang in their birthday party finery! 

There is so much more to express than I could ever put into words... And at risk of this blog post becoming even longer than it already is, I will finish here with one final anecdote that had huge meaning for me...

One morning at breakfast after six days of continuous rain, one of the resident volunteers- Charlotte, remarked how she had woken up that morning and had consciously and verbally offered her gratitude to the rain so that it could not bring her spirit down. It occurred to me that on a wider context, such a subtle simple act could be the difference between letting a situation bring you down, or accepting and rolling with it and thus the difference of how your mindset and your entire day might pan out. It has stayed with me ever since.

The community at Merkaba is unique. The energy is pure and profound. If I can extract aspects of this energy into my own retreat space one day and within the retreat holidays I look to create.... Then this is all I could wish for!

Thank you to Merkaba and to everyone who's lives I have shared over this last month.

Thank you for the love you give so willingly and freely. 

Thank you all for being so brilliantly true to your highest self and following your calling, and in doing so allowing me to come closer to doing the same. 

 

If you are intrigued to know more about Merkaba, you can find them here:

Blog, Facebook, Twitter or get in touch here: wearemerkaba@gmail.com

Why not sign up for my newsletter in my sidebar where I feature roundups and special offers plus my FREE ebook. If you are new round here you might like to check out my 'About' tab up top. To buy healthy nibbles you can also find me over at my sister site Wholeplus. 

Day to day you can always find me hanging out in these places:

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As I woke up this morning... Portugal

As I woke up this morning, my mind slowly waking up to the world, wondering what time it was, the sunlight filtering across my eyelids... For a moment, with my eyes still closed, I lost all thoughts of where I was.

In my head I began planning my day as usual, feeling the grind of routine a little, then a dog barked in the distance which sounded unfamiliar... THEN I remember with a start EXACLTY where I was!

I am tucked up in blankets in a beautiful geo-dome, in the breathtaking mountains in North Portugal, awaiting the beautiful sunshine creeping across the mountain tops, among a community of some of the most love filled people I have ever had the opportunity to share my life with. Anticipating a day ahead filled with love and BEing in whatever form that may take. A day yet to unravel and evolve. A day for me to explore ME.

As a lay there amongst the layers of blankets (it gets chilly in the geo-domes at night) I smiled to myself and it occurred to my that this time last year (yesterday to be precise!) I had just taken the huge leap of travelling on my own for the very first time. It had been so many years in the making, so much fear to overcome. I lay here now feeling so grateful that I was able to push past those fears... because it had lead to me being hear today. I quite simply would not be here if I had continue to let fear hold me back.

My life has changed exponentially since letting go of that fear, experiencing new spaces, meeting new people and ultimately allowing myself the freedom of stepping into who I really am. I have begun to design my life and my work around travel and creating experiences. Elevating these aspects of my life as priorities.

I write this post not as a 'look at me enjoying the sun in Portugal' BUT quite simply as a 'you can literally do anything you set your mind to if you want it enough'. You simply need to reflect and understand your own life priorities, face your fears and your calling... then most importantly take STEPS towards ACTING on those thing in life that pull you strongly, make your heart stir with passion or curiosity and that light up your soul.

THIS is who I am as a coach. I help people get out of their head and into their heart. I support people in taking steps in honouring that process.

I love you all deeply.

So you can reflect along with me if you fancy. Here is the post I wrote this time last year.

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Day to day you can always find me hanging out in these places:

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Travel far enough and you meet yourself

I have mentioned 'travel plans' quite a bit recently, in conversations and social media posts, and a few have you have got curious and had conversations with me about it. So I wanted to share with you all a little more of what is going on for me in my life right now.

At the beginning of this year I didn't set a typical New Years Resolution, but instead I gave myself a word to focus on this year, a word to live into.... My word was 'EXPERIENCE' and my focus was (and still is) to have as many 'experiences' over the course of this year as possible. Many, but not all, of these experiences will involve travel so that I can immerse myself in another life, another community, another person's world. I am seeking 'experience' in the widest, most openminded context possible.

I want to bring all these experiences back to my own evolution, living from the heart, and the ways in which I can most powerfully show up and serve my clients, friends and colleagues.

Last week, I was volunteering at Madhyamaka Kadampa Meditation Centre (I still have so much to say in another post about this experience) and next week I am flying out to Thailand to visit my sister but then also spend time volunteering as a yoga wellness centre.

For May I decided I would take the biggest leap yet. It still gives me butterflies in my tummy just thinking about it. For my birthday month I wanted to do something monumental, something that I would remember all life long. For the entire month of May I am visiting Rainbow City ... I have no idea what to expect, but I know it will be an amazing opportunity for growth, soul searching and powerful inner creation. My heart is wide open for what may lie in store.

Remembering back to this post last year when I had just taken my first solo flight abroad makes me realise just how far I have some in my personal growth. I would not even have considered doing this just a few months ago. It would have been so far out of my comfort zone and my awareness of it even being an option on my life.

If you'd like to connect me as I travel, I am continuing my work with clients (and simply curious people) so please do get in touch and let's set up a conversation.

 

P.s Here is a little taster of the incredible, sustainable, off grid community that is Rainbow City...


Why not sign up for my newsletter in my sidebar where I feature roundups and special offers plus my FREE ebook. If you are new round here you might like to check out my 'About' tab up top. To buy healthy nibbles you can also find me over at my sister site Wholeplus. 

Day to day you can always find me hanging out in these places:

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