Wild and free.

Wild and free.

I’ve struggled a lot with the transition between “being away” and “being back.” Here and there. Back and forth. The difference between days spent wandering white sand beaches blissfully disconnected from expectations and those laced in routine and demand. Which one provided more meaning. Which one offered a version of my true self.

It’s a struggle I dip in and out of. When my current path is paved with achievements and fulfilment, that struggle drifts away. I am present and so very at peace with this life I have built.

And yet other times that question mark seems to trace its silhouette back in glaring focus. All too quickly the walls around me shoot further and further up, encasing me in panic and confusion. When life takes an unexpected turn I wasn’t quite prepared for. When mindful living trips into monotony.

It’s coming up to a year since I’ve been home. And for a while now I’ve stayed on the lighter side of the gate. I’ve been able to embrace the beautiful relationships “being back” has brought me and feel true joy in the simple pleasures of time spent in my hometown. I wake up inspired by what my work day may hold and excited about the places the next few months will take me.

Because, maybe, I can still find that wild freedom that made me feel so alive in that sacred time “being away”?

Maybe, being wild and free doesn’t have to be jumping out of planes and diving into the ocean depths?

Maybe, being wild and free doesn’t have to be endless evenings spent beer in hand dancing under the stars?

Maybe, being wild and free doesn’t have to be snap decisions to fly to a destination of your choice with nothing but your backpack and a sense of adventure?

I’m beginning to wonder whether being wild and free can also grow in the thrill of throwing yourself headfirst into something new, simply because. Of giving it your all, regardless of the end result. Or perhaps it’s there when you push away the barriers and let another in. When you don’t even think about the risk, weighing up the pros and cons, holding yourself back because it’s “easier that way.” Letting time and life do their thing and see where it takes you, for the better or worse. Could it be trusting the process? Is it learning to love yourself in a way that means everything makes sense, just a little more?

What if it’s saying yes rather than no?

What if it’s saying goodbye to fear, in every aspect of life?

The pang of what else is out there will forever walk beside me. Curiosity follows in my shadow… and that’s okay. Thirst for life and living the hell out of it is a quality I never want to let go of.

But doing that? Embracing that quality?

It exists within me, in every moment regardless of where or how that moment comes into light.

It’s here. And it always will be.

“The best thing you can possibly do with your life is to tackle the motherfucking shit out of it.” – Cheryl Strayed.

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Are you truly awake?

Are you truly awake?

I received a text from a friend today who I travelled with across Australia and South East Asia. He’d watched a programme about a South Korean Buddhist monk and messaged to tell me it reminded him of a conversation we had shared in Cairns.

I remembered it so clearly. Remembered all the conversations so very clearly. Everything from the in depth talks about life and its many intricacies over a tall pint of beer right through to the nights spent under the stars delving into spiritual teachings.

We were so in tune with our own thoughts and innermost questions. Our hearts open, gapingly even, to drink in with a wild desire every new piece of information and inspiration.

Our world was a puzzle, and we felt so very blessed to find those pieces and figure out quite how they slotted together.

My kindle was heavy with readings from Deepak Chopra, Baron Baptiste and Thich Nhat Hanh. Their words gave me the strength to forgive my Mother. And even now, after an attempt to rebuild those bridges and coming to realise they are too broken to repair, their teachings have provided me with the love to accept this truth and live with it.

At that time, I felt full and… I guess, awake?

Awake. That’s it.

So why is it that since returning to “ordinary” life, it has has it been so hard for me to open my eyes?

It took me a long time to understand that I could not (and should not) rest my happiness and self worth on a location. I felt guilty for returning to my home town after so many years away. As if I had taken a step back into a past I wanted to forget and was foolishly leaving behind a life I had only ever dreamt of.

Regret walked with me like a shadow, anxiety my second heart beat. “Itchy feet” didn’t even hint at the intense emotions running from my head to my toes pushing me to pick up that passport once again.

Everything was boring. Everything was dull.

Where was the beauty? Where was the discovery?

I blamed this lack of stimulation and overwhelming sense of monotony on my own inability to connect with that girl I had become those few months ago.

Or, rather, the girl I had allowed myself to be.

I no longer felt full and in a state of mindfulness. Far from it, really.

The only time I stepped back into that beautiful state of being was when I placed myself on the mat. My practice would be transcendent, my mind at peace and hungry for my teachers simple but deeply affecting words.

Until recently. Until I gave myself the permission to take my teachers words away from the mat and into my life.

It sounds silly, doesn’t it? An obvious concept.

And yet something had been stopping me from taking them out of my safe haven into my “real world.”

When my teacher returned from a retreat in India back to Shirley, we were of course all bursting with questions for him. His answers were full of joy but very calm, collected.

“Whether you are somewhere exotic and beautiful like India or back in quiet Shirley, it doesn’t matter really, does it? Those things, they’re just external. They’re temporary. The only constant is yourself. And that is the only place you can truly gain fulfilment.”

*the penny drops*

Isn’t it the oddest thing when someone puts into words exactly what you have been searching for all along?

And now I feel as if I have accepted and welcomed that… now I once again want to commit to living in a mindful existence.

There are many ways I hope to do this. My daily yoga practice. Exploring Buddhist groups in the community. Going back to my readings.

Living, loving, learning.

Maybe this blog can help me chronicle them. Give me a space to be and reflect.

I want to allow myself to be that girl who held herself as a blank canvas and lived every moment as it was supposed to be lived.

Fully.

Consciously.

Awake.

It doesn’t matter whether I am doing that amidst a Balinese sacred site, a remote island or the comfort of my humble flat in Southampton.

None of those things define who I am or what I want to be.

That? That can only come from myself.

Hallelujah.

Hallelujah.

When i think of that island

i think of that night

i think of us

four ink splats

dancing on the sandy canvas

spreading out in our own

hypnotic state

 

we weren’t allowed in the water

not that we listened

the fear of sharks couldn’t stop us

shedding our clothes

our inhibitions

for one small moment

resting

in its deep blue palm

 

everyone else was at

the camp

better known as

the home we’ll never forget

with its long wooden tables

and burnt out fire

not forgetting the toilets

you didn’t dare enter

 

it was a funny group

i guess

looking back, i mean

 

we two, forever connected

and the boys

we’d barely shared a word

 

but there we were

 

the guitar was our soundtrack

(there was always a guitar)

lit up by

the firefly

sitting on the end

of your cigarette

 

(sure, cigarette she said)

 

we sung

from the depths of our heart

so full

that the words

spilled over the edge

tip toeing away

right over to the

shore

 

and i’ve seen your flag on the marble arch

and love is not a victory march

it’s a cold and it’s a broken hallelujah

 

and then the second

we all looked up

in unison

it seemed

ready for our own private show

 

because the stars

had come out to play

the milky way

easing in and out

of the sky’s gentle clutch

her curves

her lines

her beauty

pure

ours for the taking

 

her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you

 

the clearness

the overwhelming sense

that we were witnessing

something out of this world

a glimpse

ours for eternity

 

and every breath we drew was hallelujah

Sailing through the Whitsundays.

Sailing through the Whitsundays.

We wanted the world

every last inch of it

wanted the azure waters

with its curls of

pure white sand

and the sunrises and sunsets

that seemed to fall off

the edge of the earth

 

we wanted our own

secret paradise

swept away from reality

every moment

an adventure

a gift waiting to unfold

 

for three days

we sailed through

our personal nirvana

followed turtles

as they left their mark

before disappearing into

the unknown

 

we watched dolphins

at night

as they danced through

the gentlest of waves

 

ran across

quiet islands

climbed to their

intoxicating hideaways

before surrendering

to the ocean

letting ourselves slip

into its delicious embrace

 

and yet

for every sight

every taste of the sea

and every touch of the sun

there is one moment

that truly carved its tale

across my heart

 

the moment

I took your hand

and together

we fell into the most

enchanting of skies

 

hypnotised

by the blanket of black

painted with

the milky way

 

silently engulfed

 

silently in love

 

silently at one

 

and as the stars fell

like raindrops

leaving patterns across

our skin

we knew we would never forget

the moment

the world was ours.

Trekking in Sapa.

Trekking in Sapa.

Standing on the brink

the waterfall tumbling, pouring, charging below

the world

slipping off the edge

drowning in the sound

a certainty.

 

and in everything I have ever seen

all the oceans

and their pockets of jewels

the white sand

and the lilac sunsets

that was the moment I knew

I had found true beauty.

 

the kind that slowly and then

all at once

beckons the air

out of your lungs.

 

you know

that feeling

right before the rollercoaster drops.

 

you made me a crown

out of flowers and leaves

the flowers

that delicate pink.

 

what I’d do to be wearing that crown now.

 

the mountains

still rose above us

they demanded their place

kept us feeling small.

 

the glorious green paths

twisting like snakes across

that epic landscape.

your baby strapped tightly to my back.

I can still feel the red velvet.

 

below the water slipped seamlessly into

the stream. a steam I’d swim across

soon enough

stripped down whilst you pounced

from rock to rock.

 

oh how you made it look so effortless.

 

how can anything compare?

what can match a heart

so full

when invincible was

too quiet a word?

 

I wanted to let it all out

scream until all the love had

burst out of my lungs

finally giving me that space

to once again

breathe.

 

inhale

exhale

 

let it all wash over you

now let it wash away.

A Minute on Magnetic Island.

A Minute on Magnetic Island.

There’s nothing quite like

finding your own little place

on an island

 

nothing like knowing

you are that speck on the map

the one only visible

when you really squint

 

yeah, that’s the one

 

surrounded on every corner by

the ocean

it twisted around us and wrapped us in

its glory

its magic

the many secrets we all let slip

way beneath its surface

 

it was the perfect group

from Byron Bay all the way to

Magnetic Island

the camper van with its torn back seats

and delicious tales had carried us

brought us

back together

 

we’d never seen rain like it

that night I always remember

the night that whispers its memories

like fingertips down my spine

such a simple memory

and yet here it is, time and time again

 

the guitar was playing

wasn’t it always?

and that little stick of laugher was passed

from tanned hand to tanned hand

the smell so familiar

to this little group of dream makers

 

palm trees on one side

the pool to the next

drenched in the waterfall

of an Australian downpour

 

the pool under the cloak of night

seemed only fitting

 

we swear it made us warmer

better floating in the water than succumbing to its

avalanche, right?

 

it felt like a lifetime

although perhaps it was only minutes

 

but sometimes a minute is all you need

 

a minute to feel as if

in that moment

everything was right

surrounded by love and beauty

giving yourself in

to its intoxicating kiss

 

your world a dark canvas

but for the moon

lighting up each other’s faces

faces that say

I found my place

and I never want to let it go.