Category Archives: Uncategorized

New Year Kindness

Life has been such a journey for me this year and I am thrilled to be approaching New Year’s Eve with this latest review of my book No Damage:

‘Must read for getting inspired in the New Year’

Isn’t it incredible to think we all have the power to inspire others with simply our words and gestures? It really is that simple to help brighten someone’s world and the best bit is we can ALL do it! We can choose to help others with supportive, kind words and a gentle touch every single day. Now there’s a positive resolution for the coming year.

I am humbled today that my words have found their way to a reader in California and inspired her. Just as I am deeply touched that a reader in Brazil messaged me to say how my words are helping him through his marriage crisis. I couldn’t ask for a more wonderful end to my year than to know my story is helping someone.

Are you looking for an inspiring New Year’s read? Maybe No Damage is just what you need. If so, enjoy! ( with a glass of bubbles and a heartfelt ‘cheers’ for 2015).

http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00R2ZF14Q

Happy New Year all and may you receive kind words and gestures when you need them the most.

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The Yes in saying No

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I saw this image on the internet this morning and it caught my attention as a timely reminder of the importance of letting go. Of knowing that I can’t always make it okay for other people, I can’t always keep on giving or solving others problems relentlessly in the hope of being liked or respected in return. It is not my job to do that beyond a point at which I am comfortable or able to without detriment to myself. I hold both hands up and admit I am hopeless at setting my personal boundaries and have a long history of allowing people to invade my personal space when I didn’t want them to. I have changed and moulded myself to suit others and to say yes when really I mean a loud and definite no. I have often found myself giving far beyond the point of what is needed or what is healthy and always regardless of how the recipient treats me. On my journey towards setting important boundaries and living a life that is true to who I am, not who I feel I ought to be, I have come to know that I did those things in order to feel a greater sense of self worth.

 

Day by day I am learning that I don’t need to give just because someone asks me to do so. I know that true giving comes from the heart and not from neediness or a feeling of obligation. I can decline respectfully when I need to and hold something back for me. I can say no with politeness and grace and choose to say yes to my needs instead of throwing them to the wind in favour of pleasing others. As I practice the art of saying no and of letting go where my fear asks me to give more when really it is not my place to do so, I am learning a new form of self respect and worth. And interestingly I then have more to give and I do so freely with a huge sense of joy and love.

 

What made me write about this was hearing from someone in my past whom I had stopped being in touch with a long time ago. There had been much hurt between us; that person had turned my life upside down and left me and my life in tatters for me to rebuild. Until now, they had held back from offering any apology or compassion. That person had walked away when I was on my knees and they hadn’t looked back. They had got in touch two years down the line to apologise and wished to renew our friendship. I suspect that fairly radical and recent changes in their own life had brought about a sense of wanting to find peace and heal their past – great stuff. I am appreciative of that apology and it must have taken courage to get in touch. The old version of me would have leapt to be their friend and make it okay for them. A part of me wanted to do so, almost did as much, and then suddenly I realised one simple fact.

 

It is no longer my responsibility

 

It is not my responsibility to heal their wounds and offer soothing words (which may not have been needed or asked for anyway). They didn’t jump a puddle for me when I was in much need of support (or wellingtons) and yet there I was, for just a moment, willing to cross oceans again to help them. Today I chose to say thank you and no, politely, and I reigned myself in from trying to fix it for them. I wished them well with a genuine sense of compassion in my heart and let them go with love and hope for their future. And the best bit of doing so? It feels fantastic. I am amazed and in awe of the fact that a simple two letter word NO can bring such peace. I am in my wellies, I have drawn a mark in the sand called ‘my personal boundary’ and I am merrily skipping onwards. May you have a lovely day, draw your own line in the sand if you need to, and practice saying no. 

Autumn Blanket

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Today I am in utterly in love with autumn. Despite the fact I live in the southern hemisphere and it is notably warmer than an autumn in the UK, I can still feel the change that moving through autumn and into winter brings within me. The shortening days undoubtedly send me into a slower pace of life and I find myself longing to hibernate under a thick blanket with a bottle of red wine and a pile of nostalgic films. The golden crushed leaves on the sidewalks have been swirling up around dogs and walkers alike and the south easterly wind sends my long hair flying free. As the wind whips past I am craving deep rich hot chocolate of an evening and thick oat-filled syrupy biscuits. I long to see root vegetables on my plate in all the colours of autumn from the blackest purple beetroots to the vibrant yellow of squashes and roasted sweet potatoes. As winter sets in I wish to have my dear friends over for poker nights and share my love of food, books and writing with those I know that care for such things. In all I am craving warmth, comfort and companionship.

 

In a nod towards those desires I have taken to making my own granola and I have packed the freezer with the resulting little niblets of heaven. My granola has so far consisted of a happy mix of oats, pumpkin seeds, chopped figs, cranberries, pecan nuts and almonds. All mixed up with a generous dollop of raw cacao paste and virgin coconut oil, many dollops of raw honey, a dash of olive oil, a sprinkle of sea salt and a generous sneeze of cinnamon. I baked the mix in the oven for 20 minutes on a low heat and I can honestly say it makes a perfect snack to go with a cup of tea. My next plan is to find a way of making it without baking so I don’t lose the goodness of the raw honey. Raw honey is number one on my list of must eat foods these days for health and wellbeing.

 

Autumn here is also a time of new beginnings for me. As the heat of the summer is becoming a distant memory I am able to run through my local wetland without falling into a heap of sweat and dizziness. I still turn heart attack red but at least I don’t actually feel like I may have a heart attack during the cooler autumn days. I am stretching my limbs to the bright blue sky in an attempt to regain my fitness one step at a time. I will become a better runner and I am also going to start practising yoga, which is something I have always wished to do but have so far avoided. It is time to get stretching my body and also my mind – which will be achieved with the inspiring world of TED Talks. I recommend to everyone that they watch at least one TED talk a week to experience their vibrancy and inspiration. The talks cover every topic one could wish for and really are an incredible motivator. First up on my list are these little gems and I can’t wait to watch them:

Success, failure and the drive to keep creating – Elizabeth Gilbert

Why giving away our wealth has been the most satisfying thing we have done – Bill & Melinda Gates

Why I must come out – Geena Rocero

My daughter, Malala – Ziauddin Yousafzai

The sunrises at this time of year are spectacular here and I am incredibly lucky to be able to witness many of them from the boat at work each day. Check out this little number courtesy of Mother Nature. A perfect work of art.

 

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As if that were not enough happiness I have also had the pleasure of my Dad visiting us for the past ten days and it has been blissful. My Dad and I have always shared an especially close bond, like many fathers and daughters, and our latest adventure has been perfect. I had the delight of showing off my gorgeous partner in crime to my Dad and vice versa and I have watched them form their own friendship and bond over long walks in the hills, evening fires and bottles of wine from Stellenbosch. Look at those happy faces!

 

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They say it all to me about the importance of family and friendship. I have also finally been able to share my beloved sharks with Dad and it was such a privilege to share his first cage diving experience with great white sharks. My Dad is an adventurous soul and inspires me to be positive and full of life in the years to come. I will always remember him lying horizontally in the cage, feet up on the edge, the sunshine beating down on him, without a care in the world and surrounded by magnificent sharks. What an awesome example of being free. I really couldn’t ask for more. Have a wonderful Monday and may you all be free and happy this week whatever the season and weather.

 

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Giving ‘UP’ — The Way of Surrender!

This is so beautiful, a great reminder to work together. We are one.

Better Endings for Your Life Path

A Month of the Best of Better Endings, ‘First Principles’Day 7:

Giving UP! — The Way of Surrender

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Never Give Up, but you can always give UP—or, surrender—to attain Better Endings. Giving UP means, to me, releasing a problem or an attitude to a Higher Force and Higher Awareness, however you choose to define that. “I give UP!” releases my attachment to a situation or to a specific outcome. Then, what is truly needed or appropriate is free to manifest.

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Surrender. What a concept this is, riddled with a dual character. A warrior might regard surrender as a failure of mission, although it allows for them to survive to another day. I imagine the Wicked Witch of the West on her broomstick, spelling out “Surrender Dorothy!” in the sky over Munchkinland. “Never!,” we think. At the same time, though, surrender is a path to freedom from attachment; letting go…

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Tailor-Made Life

Tailor-made (Adj) ~ made, adapted, or suited for a particular purpose or person

 

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I am feeling very inspired by the story of my sister-in-law after speaking with her yesterday. Let me introduce her to you; her name is Lisa and she moved to Australia from the UK a few years ago. Since moving she has been embarking on an incredible journey of self discovery and of creating a new career in Australia for herself and for her family. My conversation with her has really lifted me and reminded me of the importance of not just following dreams but of making them true to who you are.

 

I believe wholeheartedly that we should all strive to achieve our dreams and live our lives how we want to rather than follow what society expects we should or ought to do. But what is even more important is that we follow the path that is right for who we are as individuals, for each dream is no doubt as unique as you or I. We shouldn’t all try and conform and do what we see is available or possible based on what others have already done when they followed their dreams. Be more creative than that! I think it is better to be building our own reality based on our own set of gifts, talents, needs and desires. A tailor-made life for each and every one of us and it doesn’t matter what it is you choose to do. All that counts is that is brings you a feeling of peace and contentment, a sense of being true to who you are.

 

Let me come back to my sister-in-law for a moment to explain this more clearly. Lisa is in the process of retraining as a hypnotherapist, which is pretty cool in itself. I am a huge advocate for alternative therapies and will highly recommend Lisa in the years to come because I know she will be fantastic. Anyway, when she told me of her new career I imagined the hypnotherapists I have seen in the past with their lovely quiet treatment rooms, their row upon row of fascinating books and their soothing voices. Voices that heal. I imagined a stereotypical therapist and then I heard her story. Lisa’s plan is not just to be a hypnotherapist but to also incorporate her other talents and loves into her business. Lisa paints beautiful pictures and, as a mother of two, is very interested in the healing power of alternative therapies during pregnancy and birth. She has a strong connection with dolphins, longs to own an art studio, practices yoga and meditation and is also a very talented writer (and yes Lisa is also an awesome wife and generally great person. We all love her). Check out some of Lisa’s writing at her blog Deep Field. Whilst Lisa isn’t writing her blog at the moment her existing posts are well worth a read and maybe this will give her the nudge to get back into it….hey Lisa what about Deep Field as a name for your blossoming business??

 

I felt sheer admiration when I heard how Lisa is going to bring all of those aspects of who she is and her passions into her future business. I could hear the excitement in her voice. And guess what? Lisa isn’t superwoman and she doesn’t know how to run her own business but she is doing it anyway. Lisa hasn’t started off thinking…

 

 

How should I behave as a hypnotherapist? What stereotypes and expectations should I adhere to?

 or

How do I earn lots of money doing this?

 

My amazing sister-in-law has come from the viewpoint of…..

 

What do I absolutely love to do?

 And

How can I combine all of those passions and interests into my daily life and my business?

In short, she is putting her talents and desires first and working on it from there. Not once did I hear the words shouldn’t, can’t or failure. All I heard was someone who has spent time discovering who she is and what she wants to do. And now she is doing it. Failure isn’t an option, money isn’t the driver. Passion and self belief are the words of the day.

 

The business that Lisa is creating is very specific, unique to whom she is and that alone has made me pay attention. As I look towards the next five years I have various ideas of the business I wish to create but I find myself limiting my mind to what I have seen done already and what I believe is financially possible. By doing that I am already clipping my wings and feeling a loss of dreaming big and free. So today I am taking this reminder to heart that I need to be focusing more on what is right for me, not what is right for everyone else. I am going to open my mind to infinite possibility over the next few years and get creative. I am planning to be spending the next five years working on yachts and traveling the world and I will use that time wisely to also consider who I am and what I want to do when I put my roots down on firm land. It is my time to imagine the finer points of what I want to do without any fear of not being able to make it happen and it is my time to then get creative with it. So far I can tell you this:

 

1. My life will involve being a writer and it will involve helping others. I will write book upon book and publish them all in the hope that somebody will pick them up and it will brighten their day, inspire them to keep going or simply make them laugh out loud.

 

Watch this space for my first book…No Damage. It is already 40,000 words in the making and I can’t wait to share extracts of it with you when it is a little nearer completion and ready to be seen. But then maybe it’s already time for me to be brave and showcase some of my words on here with you?

 

2. My home will have sunshine and the ocean on my doorstep, there will be two much-loved dogs at my feet and I will be creative. My life will reflect who I am and my work will contain art, baking and so much more. Did I mention my love of painting marine life and seaside life on scraps of wood and other natural materials?

 

Check them out here at KatFish Creations. Maybe you’d like to purchase a painting or commission a coffee table piece? Or maybe you’d just like to look and dream of summer and the beauty of the oceans. Enjoy!

 

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This post is my commitment to creating a life that includes those aspects of me and more in the years to come. I start walking that journey today.

 

Are you on the cusp of following a dream, maybe a passion, or perhaps you are thinking of changing your life? Are you holding back for fear of failure? Whatever it is you are dreaming of I urge you to make a commitment and get started today. Here is to being unique and to creating a tailor-made life.

 

Check out Alan Watts awesome motivational speech – What if Money Were No Object? Absolutely everybody should listen to this at least once in their lifetime. We need more happy people and I believe this is the way to create them.

 

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Related Articles that inspired and lifted me today

–          Gazillian Zinnias

–          29 Life Lessons

–          How to Manifest Everything you Want

–          What is your Bliss?

 

I love the sunrise, she makes me smile

This month I am developing a fascination with the sunrise. This beautiful melting pot of colour happens every single day and most of us rarely bother to get out of bed to see it. My work upon the ocean means I am required to be up at 5.15am every single day (no that doesn’t get any easier over time) and one of the upsides of this is that I see the sunrise almost every day of the week.

 

I can’t help but notice how the sunrise is entirely different each day; sometimes she is merely a gentle wash of pale gold across a cloudless sky and turns the surrounding land where I live a beautiful warm orange. I love to watch the windows of houses reflecting the golden hues of the morning as we head out to sea and leave the sleeping people of the coastal town behind. I doubt they realise what they are missing as they run carefree in their dreams.

 

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On other days the sunrise is pretty in pink and dusts the low mountain clouds with a hint of colour to remind us that the day is just beginning. She silhouettes the boats in the harbour perfectly for photographs and on occasion turns the lighthouse into a perfect work of art.

 

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But it is the days that the sunrise is a riot of colour that I adore most of all. On those overcast days with puffy grey clouds she is like a child on too many E numbers – wildly creative and running amok. It is on those days that she leaves me speechless with a fire of reds, pinks and oranges that spreads across the sky. An ever changing picture that in the blink of an eye is slightly different.

 

 

 

I am incredibly lucky that I get to see these sights each day and to think that with a little effort, most of us could see the sunrise more often than we do. The sunrise is free, it happens every single day. Get out there and see it happen, feel the magic of it. I cannot help but feel warmed in body and soul when I see this beauty around me. I love the sunrise, she makes me smile and reminds me just how precious this life is.

 

“The morning always has a way of creeping up on me and peeking in my bedroom windows. The sunrise is such a pervert.”
Jarod Kintz

 

 

Related Articles

Prakash Bhikha Photography

Herman Van Bon Photography

 

Finding Joy

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Joy ~ A source of pleasure, delight and wonder.

 

To be joyful ~ charmed by life, happy, nestled into enjoyment and bliss.

 

Lately I am focusing on finding the joy in my life, every single day. It is an incredible journey for me and I can’t resist sharing this little gem with the world.

 

My story begins with stress with a capital S. For various reasons I have felt overwhelmed, pressurised by others and stressed out in recent weeks. This has left me with the usual symptoms of being out of balance; ringing ears, a bad back, headaches and tears, sleepless nights and emotional turmoil that I neither want nor need within my life. I haven’t felt that way in a long time and it shocked me when I found myself in tears and unable to sleep. Life is far too short and precious to be wasted on such destructive feelings. I know this deep within me and yet I felt stressed and powerless to do anything other than keep plodding onwards until my circumstances changed. As I reached for a big fat bar of chocolate and a glass of wine the other day I decided that enough is enough. There is another way to cope other than a sugar high and it involves my mind. I reminded myself that it is my choice to react (or not) to external influences in my life and there will always be moments that test my positivity and resilience to stress. I cannot change the world around me to that extent, I am not responsible for others behaviour, but I can change my internal world. I backed away from the chocolate (after a brief nibble of course) and decided to focus on a more natural approach. Put simply, my cure is Finding Joy. And it works.

 

I am a huge believer in the power of the mind, especially how a positive mental attitude can and does affect our emotional and physical health. Since my stress with a capital S moment I am working hard to engage my mind positively and spread Joy. I am spreading Joy on my toast in the morning like there is no tomorrow, I am handing it out at work to anyone that crosses my path, I am smiling at the sunshine, clouds and rain and singing joyously when I least feel like it. I can’t say it is particularly easy to be this way when I am tired and feeling sea sick at work or falling asleep at the kitchen table but I am trying my best and reaping the rewards already. Every time I feel stress creeping back towards me I try even harder to slap it in the face with a healthy dose of bliss, laughter at the small things in life and a little chocolate.

 

My circumstances haven’t changed a great deal but already I am feeling rested, my back hurts less and I am more balanced. I am returning to a feeling of utter thanks and gratitude for my life. I am extremely lucky to be alive, well fed and housed and to be working in a job that allows me to meet wonderful people and enjoy watching wildlife with them every day. By being joyful I am appreciating those moments even more and I have noticed that those around me become happier as well. My positive attitude lifts their mood and, of course, that lifts mine even more. We are creating an awesome positive feedback loop; A Happy-Go-Round!

 

The power of the mind. It is just incredible and gives us a way to cope with the stresses and strains of life. How about next time you are feeling stressed, you have a go at spreading a little joy on your toast in the morning? Add a splash to your cup of coffee, swirl it around and see how it improves your day. Be joyful and laugh.

I miss the Internet

I miss the Internet

I had never imagined I would utter those words but I have said them frequently in recent weeks whilst I have been without internet at work and home. I truly miss the Internet, or more precisely, I miss what it brings to my life and how it allows me to express myself. I wonder how long it will be before it returns and I can post these word.

I moved to Cape Town, South Africa in February and it has held me in its magnificent grasp as per always. I adore the gigantic scenery here; the striking green hills with huge broccoli shaped trees that offer shade below Table Mountain. I laugh because I cannot get enough of the protea flowers that burst forth in oversized, over-coloured, ridiculous beauty at Kirstenbosch botanical gardens and laugh at how even the sun birds that flit across branches and boughs in my garden are azure and bright crimson red (even on cloudy days). Africa just has so much colour and it is everywhere I look. I spend days off driving the sandy miles of wind swept coastline past Muizenberg beach to Somerset West. Oh how I treasure the hummocks and valleys of the wine estates at Stellenbosch with vintages for every possible mood, taste and occasion. With fifty vintages tasted I have barely scratched the surface but know a little more than when I arrived – all that really matters is what tastes nice to me. It isn’t about noses and taste buds, it is about mmmm and ooooh and wow for the occasional bottle of bubbles.

And that is merely a small collection of words describing my time here so far. I have not so much as touched on the day job….that I am lucky enough to spend each day atop the choppy, sometimes hellishly rough, yet incredibly rich and bewitching waters of False Bay. This bay, she is full of wildlife of enormous proportions. The dolphins leap at sunrise, noon and sunset on the days they pass us by. Their sand coloured markings always remind me of the beaches of home in Cornwall and I have seen guests in tears and speechless as they watch 3000 dolphins leap and twist on their way across the bay. Bryde’s whales remain shy and distant from us yet occasionally present us with a blow and a dorsal fin in the distance, reminding us of their presence below. I long for the winter season and the dances of humpback whales. I know it is just a few months away. I would cross the days off with thick red ink on a calendar if I had one. Seal Island shouts at us with 64,000 Cape Fur seals, even more cormorants and an aroma that makes my eyes water and my nostrils flare in revolt on windless days. Yet I love it. I love dropping the anchor, hearing the chain clatter down, and sharing the day with guests, seals, birdlife and great white sharks. And I love that my boyfriend is right by my side at work each day. Oh and the sharks; how I adore them and never tire of their presence. Those misunderstood fish of the deep. Water based angels with their white bellies and grace. Day upon day they visit us and I gain an understanding of their different personalities, their preferences and behaviours. They pass quietly, almost lazily, they play with the bait, they sneak up in the shade of the hull and seem to cock their heads at us; perhaps wondering what on earth we are and why on earth we are in their ocean. They make me laugh so much my sides hurt. They are truly incredible, intelligence shines from their blue eyes, they are mischievous and yet we love to hate them. We slaughter them with negative media portrayal and we kill them in their millions each year for nothing other than tasteless, cruel, shark fin soup. Well done humans for such stupidity and ignorance.

So many words, so much to describe and share. I don’t know if anybody will take the time to listen but I miss the Internet. For without it there is no global community for me to join. I long for a day to enjoy other peoples’ writing and to link hands with my family and friends. I didn’t realise just how much Facebook, WhatsApp and Gmail allow me to feel a part of something and to feel connected in this life. I live so far south, the next stop is Antarctica. When the south east wind blows and Albatross arrive in the bay I feel so cold at sea that I may as well be in Antarctica. As much as I enjoy chatting to the seals each day here I really would like a conversation with people. I would like to be able to offer words of encouragement, support and even offer a chance of laughter. On the up side I have written more words for my book, I have read new books and I am slowly weaning myself off the need to check Facebook hourly. I have also realised that in the weeks I have not had Internet, absolutely nothing has occurred. Everything is much the same and reassuringly so. Facebook definitely does not need checking hourly in the future.

I could go on but I have no idea when I will be able to post this and what will have occurred in the meantime. Right now I am just grateful for the two hands that allow me to type and imagine a future where somebody might listen and take a moment with a cup of tea or glass of wine to imagine their world without the Internet. What would they do with their day?

Better Together

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Today I find myself being thankful for togetherness as I walk the dusty cobbled side streets of Egypt. The early afternoon sunshine beats down gently upon my shoulders whilst I trundle along in my flip flops. It is ever so quiet at this time of day as the local men of all ages gather at the mosques for their Friday prayers. Old bent grandfathers with whiskery grey faces walk peacefully alongside young children skipping and bouncing with the energy of youth. They share the togetherness of family, of male companionship and religion and I enjoy their moment. The streets are empty, prayers are whispered in mosques across the town and I walk in my own peace. I treasure it against the usual noise of beeping taxis and people going about their business every other day of the week. Through the togetherness of their Friday payers I can enjoy some solitude and daydreaming as I place one pink flip flop in front of the other and walk on.

 

I pass my favourite bougainvillea as I turn a corner towards the sparkling ocean. It sits atop a strong sand coloured wall and is touched by the sun. This bougainvillea is huge; tumbling and cascading down the wall in a mass of heavy boughs and tendrils. It is covered in magenta pink flowers that peek and poke out of every curved branch of thorns and leave no space for a birds’ nest or even just a little bird. I cannot help but admire its vibrancy, its sheer obviousness, yet few people see it in this quiet corner. With just one flower it wouldn’t amount to much but the togetherness of many hundreds of flowers make it utterly magnificent and beautiful.

 

The ocean calls me across the deserted road to admire her fringing reef and shades of turquoise water that lap at soft sand. I smile to myself at a cloud of sand swirling and drifting in the water from an aqua aerobics group marching in the shallows. Together they twist and turn energetically to the music and encouragement of their instructor. Their pump their hands high, determined and coordinated and no doubt tired in the hot sunshine. From my cliff top view I simply cannot tell which one is the instructor as they circle closer in, they are that enthusiastic. I can only admire their sense of togetherness as they splash some more. I smile and walk on by with the occasional twist and turn of my own to the music of my iPod.

 

As I open the front door to my apartment I see our shoes lined up together, ready for the next adventure. I see walking boots that have taken us across foreign countries together as we laughed until our sides ached and had to lean upon each other for support. I see your sandals that have taken us on walks as we held hands and gave us time to talk at cafes and restaurants in our togetherness. Times of good food, shared jokes and references; a private language and world of our own. The same sandals that you wore to hospital when you held my hand through illness and didn’t let go. I place my cracked pink flop flops gently beside them, they look so tiny next to you.

 

I ask myself what life would be like without togetherness as I pour my cup of tea and settle into my chair. It would be empty and dull, like an old fusty sock lying at the roadside on its own. Unclaimed and unwanted as people walk by and wrinkle their noses. If we lived a life of isolation, of being apart from friendship, community and love I think we would fade away just like that sock. It would be like walking life with one shoe; painful, awkward and slow. Without togetherness there would be no mass of flowers to enjoy, no quiet prayer time on a Friday, no shared enthusiasm and no hand to hold. There would be so little joy.

 

A simple walk is all it took to remind me today that life really is Better Together. I am so thankful for the hand that I hold each day, for the opportunity to be others’ support and for people. They make my life what it is. A pretty, perfect, peaceful Friday.

 

 “And as ridiculous as it may sound, sometimes all any of us needs in life is for someone to hold our hand and walk next to us.”
James Frey

 

How many camels am I worth?

 

Since living in Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt I can’t help but notice how I feel utterly undervalued and invisible when I am out and about amongst local people. I noticed long ago that Egyptian women are rarely seen in the area where I live and the majority of my time in public is amongst Egyptian men. What is it about my interactions with the people around me here that leave me feeling this way? I must point out that I am not blaming Egyptian men for my feelings of inadequacy whilst living here.  But I am curious as to what has brought this on for me. How my experiences here have brought about one simple fact for me….I feel like a second rate citizen here, the property of men, purely because I am female. It saddens me deeply and has affected my opinion of this little piece of Egypt more than I care to imagine.

I have been brought up within a loving family and as part of a society where being female has not held me back and has not been of any significance in my life choices. I can honestly say it didn’t occur to me until recently that being female could affect how others believe my life ought to be lived. I thought everyone just saw me as, well, me. How fortunate I am to have been valued for being who I am and for having been allowed every freedom and choice that came my way, irrespective of my gender. My voice has been heard, my opinions respected by others (well, sometimes), I have a career of my choosing and I have experienced great joy being a woman. I have my own unique gifts and strengths and I have expressed them freely.

Lucky me? Though surely it should not come down to luck. It should be every person’s birthright to be heard and to be free to make their own choices in life. For many people that simply is not the case in our complex world and we limit and divide people for reasons of race, gender, age, religion, money, sexual orientation and so forth. It is not my place to comment on the huge subject of discrimination right now, I am no expert, but I can say that it appals me to think of women being thought of as the lesser sex. It appals me to think of anyone being segregated and labelled at all to be honest. In my opinion there is no place for such attitudes in our world if we ever hope to achieve harmony and see people in their true greatness, regardless of their gender, beliefs and so forth. We are all equal.

Anyway, before I start going into full feminist mode, let’s come back to my question.  What is it about my interactions with some people here in Sharm that leave me feeling, quite frankly, like crap? I have pondered this over many cups of tea and decided to quietly observe myself and those around me every time I go out in order to understand what on earth is going on. And here is what I observed with as little judgement as possible. It is quite difficult not to judge though as these incidents involve me and I am pretty unimpressed at being treated this way. I feel like shouting very loudly here that I do in fact exist and no I am not a prostitute. However, I fear that may result in me being arrested or sold for a camel.

Firstly, when I go out alone and get the tiny blue bus into town, nobody will sit next to me. These buses are no larger than a sardine tin and are crammed with people trying to get into town. No matter how busy the bus is, the men that hop on and off to go about their daily business will not sit anywhere near me unless absolutely necessary. If possible they will all rearrange themselves when a woman boards the bus (a very rare occurrence) so the woman and I are sat together away from the men. Furthermore, when we all hand our money forwards to the driver, many of the men will not let me pass their money forwards when I offer to help. I am beginning to wonder if I have a disease that I am unaware of or perhaps I just smell.

Furthermore, I have had the misfortune of being groped by the local men on these blue buses. They either avoid me or grope me it would seem. This one I judge wholeheartedly as utterly appalling. I am under the impression that because I am a lone white female in a foreign country, where women are rarely seen, I must therefore be a prostitute. That or some of the men have no understanding of personal space, which I believe might not be the case. I have asked other women that live here and have heard many awful reports of being treated this way and worse. It is apparently just the way it is. At this point I really do want to shout and scream but admit I felt too intimated on the bus to speak up. Plus the only words I can say in Arabic are yes, no, here, please, thank you, goodbye, crazy, one, two, three, four, five. I suspect that won’t get my point across sufficiently.

Secondly, when Nick and I go to a certain local supermarket and I pay with my money, the cashier hands the change back to Nick. He will not pass the money to me, despite the fact I paid. Now that really takes the biscuit. This is my money with which to buy large amounts of amazingly sweet Egyptian bread and also tonic to go with my gin. If the other cashiers cotton on to this and start giving my money to Nick all of the time there will be a problem. What if Nick doesn’t share the bread? This needs to be nipped in the bud straight away but again I don’t know how to get my point across in Arabic.

Thirdly, whenever I walk anywhere on my own I am approached by young Egyptian men. They stand in front of me so I cannot get away without a big side step, which is tricky when one is short. I can’t for the life of me see around these random men and for all I know I am likely to step on another one. The conversation always goes like this:

 

Man: What is your name? 

Me: No thank you  (in Arabic and hoping to deter Man)

Man: Where are you from?

Me: Here   (and we’re back to English already. Man is not deterred)

Man: Here?

Me: Yes. Here

Man: You like me?

Me:  I don’t know you

Man: You have a boyfriend?

Me: Yes

Man: You married?

Me: Not yet   (note to self. That does not sound cool. Just desperate)

Man: Why not?

Me: My boyfriend has not asked yet    (wow that sounds even worse)

Man: How old are you?

Me: Thirty four   (Oh god here we go. I wince at what is coming next)

Man: You are thirty four and not married yet! Girls here marry at twenty!

Man looks horrified at me, is clearly appalled and then sees an opportunity. I am dying of embarrassment.

Man: You marry me if it doesn’t work out?

Me: No 

Man: Why not?

Me: Thank you. Have a nice day. Goodbye now

 

And onwards it goes. All whilst I am side stepping like a lunatic and getting nowhere. To add to the excitement of this I have also been kerb crawled by taxi drivers in much the same manner. They get quite irate at times when I dare to ignore them and walk on. One tried to run me down but failed miserably. I am impressed at their ability to drive, honk the horn, not hit the kerb and chat me up all at the same time. But seriously taxi drivers, please leave me alone. I only came out to buy bread and am probably old enough to be your mother. And I am well aware that in my baggy old t-shirt and board shorts I do not look hot. I look like a man and you are clearly desperate.

It has to be said the taxi drivers are hilarious out here though. I once counted how many seconds it took to be offered a taxi after leaving my apartment. Ten seconds. And then approximately every ten seconds afterwards all the way along the main road. Once we were offered twenty different taxis within the time it took to walk across the road. Taxis are everywhere. Every single day. The taxi drivers beep, follow you, slow down, ask ‘taxi?’, beep, kerb crawl, ask again ‘taxi?’ and then beep at you some more. And if you are lucky they also chat you up or try to run you over.

Finally, I love to go running here and do so of an evening. On my running route I pass a dusty little area where the taxi drivers gather and chat whilst waiting for business. It seems a nice area to congregate and drink tea and I run past them regularly. One day I was running along towards them and fell spectacularly right at their feet. It was a tremendous effort on my part to fall as embarrassingly as possible; I stumbled, flailed, hit the deck with a whooomph sound and skidded along the dirt on my stomach whilst holding my iPod aloft. Clearly my priority of what needed to be saved from the impact is slightly askew. I was a little shaken, grazed and dusty and, as I lay there regaining my senses, not one of the taxi drivers so much as blinked or tried to help me. There was no visible reaction. I felt like standing up, waving and shouting ‘HELLO MAN DOWN HERE! HELP ME!’ whilst pointing to my grazed knee. How they failed to notice me at their feet I do not know but the best part was the response that followed. Once I had dusted myself down and organised my haphazard clothing, I began to limp past them. One of them stepped out in front of me enquiringly.

 

‘Taxi?’

 

Oh fuck off

 

Now I know we are from different cultures, different societies and we all prejudge. I have expectations of how I would like these Egyptian men to treat me and they probably have expectations of how they would like me to behave. I can only assume that the ones I encounter treat me in a manner that is appropriate for their culture and I cannot speculate as to what they think and feel towards me or women in general.  Apart from with regards to the groping – that is entirely NOT my fault and is inappropriate at any time, any place. I recognise that I am a sensitive soul at heart and have enough self awareness to realise it is likely MY reaction to the above interactions that is the problem. My feelings are my own choice and it is up to me how I respond to others behaviours each day. I have a choice. Lately I have allowed myself to develop expectations of being treated poorly and of being hassled every time I go out. By expecting to be treated as second rate and as some kind of ex-pat prostitute available for purchase, I am tense. I am in a mindset that will make every interaction seem offensive no matter how innocuous. The power of the mind.

It is with that power of the mind that I am trying to turn this around for me…..Perhaps the local men do not sit next to me and do not pass me my money because they feel uncomfortable and do not know how to treat me. Not because they think I am second rate but because they are trying to be polite and respectful by deferring to what is appropriate for them. Perhaps the young Egyptians that approach me are just being friendly and looking for love. Perhaps they are lonely, being cheeky and hoping to brighten their day with some female company. Perhaps the taxi drivers simply didn’t know what to do when I fell at their feet. Perhaps it would be inappropriate amongst their peers for them to offer assistance to a foreign lady sprawled at their feet in lycra and covered in dust.

Put simply, perhaps I got it wrong.

Perhaps I just need to get a grip and stop being offended.

Or not.

I suspect not.

I have spoken at length with a lovely Egyptian friend of mine (who is also a taxi driver and a very nice one at that) and he confirmed that actually what I have experienced is common here. The general consensus amongst the Egyptian men he knows is that women exist purely for their pleasure and well, that’s about it. Oh and that all visiting white westerners are clearly rich and marriage material. Brilliant.

Call me naive. Call me an optimist but I am going to choose to ignore this fact and focus on seeing the good in the people around me. I am going to smile at everyone and assume they mean well. And wear my iPod at all times when outdoors so I cannot hear a thing.

Just a little Christmas story

 

The sea eagle dipped gracefully over the ocean and tilted its wings toward the golden sand to glide along the surf line. The water sparkled with the midday sun as the eagle banked along the shore and reflected tiny stars of light. Stars that caught on the underbelly of the fish grasped tightly in sharp eagle claws. It was a deliciously fat, round fish with a chubby belly of scales. The weight of the fish pulled the eagle down further. A trail was drawn across the smooth surface of the ocean as the water tickled the underbelly of the fish. Yet with the merest beat of strong wings the eagle lifted just enough to soar onwards. Just enough to catch the wind, to continue effortlessly above the turquoise waters and pass the bathers turning various shades of pink under the sun’s rays. The wind ruffled the sleek white feathers of the eagle underbelly as it passed by and exposed taught muscles, the perfection of nature and her aerodynamics.

 

The eagle came to rest at the far end of the bay on an outcrop of sharp black rock that stood out against a hot cloudless sky. The rock held fast amongst the underwater gardens of the coral reef nestled around it and provided a perfect dinner table. It was no more than a five minute swim from the shore yet the eagle sat unnoticed and undisturbed atop her perch. The fat fish became nothing more than scale and flimsy bone over the next hour as the eagle picked at it lazily. Nobody noticed. Not a single person on the beach saw the eagle and her prey glide by. Not a single person had looked up to that rock and witnessed the eagle’s presence with excitement in their eyes.

 

The bathers continued to lie, to loll on coarse sand and turn like sausages on a grill. They picked up tiny flecks of sand as they moved; round beads of sweat gathering on brows and meandering into crooked elbows that held books against the sun. They morphed into shades of pink, caramel and deep brown as the day wandered onwards. Human chameleons, colour charts of skin and sun exposure from around the world. Too preoccupied to glance seaward and notice an eagle and her fat fish pass them by.

 

As I watched that story unfold at the beach this week it really struck me that nobody else noticed, or reacted to, the presence of the eagle. I had to sit on my hands and bury them deep into the sand to stop myself from running after it in my excitement and awe. As I sat upon my frayed yellow beach towel, fingers curled tight into the sand, I realised how easy it is for small, precious moments to pass us by. We are all so engrossed in our own worlds, our own worries and dreams, ambitions and expectations that we forget to really look sometimes. If we took a moment to stop and observe the world around us perhaps we would experience that much more. Build a mountain of small moments that become the memories of a lifetime.

 

As Christmas approaches, people across the globe become even more consumed and frantic than usual. We barely stop to look around us and appreciate small moments before they pass us by like that eagle. We spend money we don’t have on lavish presents, we rush around searching for the last bag of sprouts and wonder what on earth can be made with the tins of chestnut puree that suddenly appear in supermarkets everywhere. We consume strange drinks named Eggnog, Snowballs and Advocat yet nobody knows what they are. Pigs in Blankets are recognised as an actual foodstuff and men, in their time honoured tradition, buy their Christmas presents at the last possible moment on Christmas Eve. With military precision we plan how to visit every single family member across the country in one day…as if the world were going to end in the morning. Foot to the gas pedal and high on the sugar from a mountain of flaky mince pies we drive on exhausted into the night. We listen to carols sung under star-filled skies, the Queen has a chat on the television about stuff and the adverts promise us joy, happiness, sales, Christmas music, more reasons to shop and a lavish sprinkling of Christmas cheer. And then we get up on Boxing Day and do it all again. People queue from 4am for the Christmas sales before the festive season has even come to a close and buy sofas they don’t need.

 

It is a frantic time quite unlike any other and I can imagine that watching it as a newcomer to Planet Earth would be absolutely hilarious yet slightly unnerving. Humans high on too many Quality Street, running around in paper hats and wielding explosive crackers that contain pointless toys. Make of it what you will extra-terrestrials. We love it.

 

I absolutely adore Christmas and I wouldn’t change the joy, laughter, Lindt chocolate santas peeking out of woolly Christmas stockings and strangely named drinks containing eggs and nog for anything. But perhaps I would change one thing. I would ask people to step back for a moment from the consumerism, from the frenetic rush to Christmas Day and look around. Take a moment to appreciate the small and seemingly insignificant. Give someone less fortune than you, someone that finds Christmas difficult, a big warm hug and a reason to smile. Forget the money and excessive shopping, stop trying to please everyone all at once and notice what truly brings you joy. Can you remember how it felt to wake up on Christmas Day as a child and, before you opened your eyes, you wondered if it had snowed overnight? Do you remember that feeling of excitement in the pit of your stomach at something so simple? Go and find moments with your loved ones that bring back that feeling and cherish them. For they mean so much more than the presents.

To Make Safe

Security can mean different things to different people

Secure ~  Safe, Protected, Sheltered, Assured, Fixed Firmly

 To Make Safe

Soft velveteen ears, the colour of burning caramel, warm and comforting between my fingers. They were my comfort, my security for a number of years. I couldn’t get enough of gently rubbing those ears between my thumb and forefinger and against my nose.

Much like a child sucking her thumb and soothing herself with a worn and loved ribbon held against her cheek. I remember a friend from school that had such a ribbon as her security amid the preschool playground madness. As the children screamed and ran back and forth in their sturdy chestnut school shoes she would sit quietly and soothe herself with the simplicity of sucking her thumb and holding her frayed blue ribbon. Her ribbon was her security.

 

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Paddington was my ribbon with his two exquisitely soft and perfectly triangular ears atop his broad flat head. He adored affection and I know he took his security from being held in my arms. We would often lie on my bed in the afternoon sunshine and I would forget there was a world outside of my feeling of utter peace and security. The gentle sun warmed me from the outside in; from my crooked toes up to my weary hands and across my eyelids. My head would sink backwards into the down pillow as I dropped my shoulders to the day. The mattress would recoil as Paddington, in all his 34kg Airedale glory, leapt up to join me. He flopped down with a heavy woomph. Paddington had the sweetest nature, believed he was in fact a lap dog and would curl his woolly frame and old soul around me like this at every opportunity. As he found his place in my arms, lying on his side with four straight legs stretched out like giant matchsticks, he would let out a deep contented sigh. A low grumble of utter bliss and security that came from deep within his barrel chest and heart. I made him safe. As I took his ears between my thumb and finger, I didn’t let out a low grumble but I certainly let my worries slip away and pulled security in. He sheltered me.

 

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I smoothed the rich, luxurious geranium scented body lotion into the soft skin of my mum’s hands and feet. Gently massaged her tiny frame and admired the perfect golden skin of her arms. The arms that had protected me through 31 years of life and given me unwavering security. My mum was utterly beautiful and that moment together brought security and peace. The hospice was quiet and filled with summer flowers and peace. A safe haven for final days. My sister and I had chosen the body lotion for mum because it smelled strongly of summer, of the flowers she had adored at home in her garden. Mum’s world had shrunk and become so tiny during her final weeks. The simplest gesture meant everything and we longed to bring her a moment of normality. The ravages of cancer take away so much, the drugs leave a fuzzy haze and we hoped pampering and a loving human touch would bring comfort. I will never forget Mum’s look of peace as she relaxed and breathed in the heady scent. I will never forget the feeling of security it brought us both as I soothed her gently and held in my tears. I recall her impatiently removing her eternity ring, eager to feel the lotion on her hands. I couldn’t understand her speech anymore due to the drugs but I was delighted to see her enthusiasm still shining through. I look at that ring on my finger now and recall with a smile how we were firmly fixed together that moment. We were safe from what we knew was just around the corner. For a moment in time we denied the inevitable with love.

 

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Friends and family. We should all have someone that loves us and makes us feel secure. Someone who holds our hands through tough times and laughs with us through the sunshine. My friends and family are incredible and have been my security and laughter through it all. They have held my hand through times that were consistently, ridiculously hard. It feels trite to group ‘friends and family’ as one when each person is unique and deserves a medal for their unconditional love. Girlfriends cheered me on as I walked through my own personal hell of a tunnel and never once let me down. I made mistakes, I stumbled into the tunnel walls and I damaged a friendship that meant everything to me because of my short-sighted stupidity when I was on my knees. I couldn’t for the life of me find the light as circumstances brought me down again and again but I made it thanks to the love of every single one of those people. They forgave me my mistakes, they pulled me up and kept shoving me onwards when quite frankly I wanted to quit. They made me laugh until I felt sick in my stomach, fed me red wine in abundance and shoved stiletto heels on my feet when all else failed. And most of all they ticked me off when I didn’t confide in them and I tried to fight my way through on my own. Friends and family would not let me fail. They lifted my soul, assured me I would survive and protected me. Security at its finest and I am eternally in awe of them all.

 

The bird that lives in my bedroom air conditioning unit finds her security in that hideous, plastic structure every single night. I cannot see the bird but I can her rustling around her home noisily. She makes herself comfortable and safe in there every day. She flies away every time I open the window but soon returns to her Super Silent UnionAire home. It hasn’t escaped me that she chooses to avoid the dry heat of the Egyptian days by living in the air conditioning. She is a clever bird indeed.

 

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Hester found her security Under and Curled Tightly In. My adorable, dainty girl was all long legs like a giraffe. She had a heart of pure love and sensitivity towards her humans. After a day of pouncing on Paddington, chasing the birds and lying belly up to the sky on a soft green lawn she loved Under and Curled Tightly In. Comfort and peace Hester style. No matter where she went, from home to the car to camping in Ireland, they came with her.

 

The ritual of brewing a pot of green tea, a glass of expensive red wine next to the glow of a winter fire. Adventures under blue waters filled with peace and dappled light, quiet time with a favourite old book. Writing word upon rambling word, singing loudly and brightly where nobody can hear. Breathing quietly with healing crystals in hand, the exquisite sound of leaves rustling in woodlands trodden underfoot. The same path walked daily. Sweet sugary baking, cooking for a young family, creating, making and painting. We all have a ritual that makes us safe in this world. Rituals as varied as those of the people I describe with brief insights into their lives.

 

Life isn’t an easy place to be at times, with all of its demands and expectations. May you take a moment to step back and find your sense of feeling secure in today. Do something to bring you and your loved ones a moment of peace and serenity. Be still, cherish it and bring it back around again tomorrow.

 

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“You’ll have a good, secure life when being alive means more to you than security, love more than money, your freedom more than public or partisan opinion, when the mood of Beethoven’s or Bach’s music becomes the mood of your whole life … when your thinking is in harmony, and no longer in conflict, with your feelings … when you let yourself be guided by the thoughts of great sages and no longer by the crimes of great warriors … when you pay the men and women who teach your children better than the politicians; when truths inspire you and empty formulas repel you…”

 Wilhelm Reich. Listen, Little Man

Winging It

As I write this I am sat on my sofa avoiding the midday heat and surrounded by the delicious scents of warm cinnamon, cardamom, butter, vanilla and gingery sugary goodness. I am paying close attention to the gas hob in my kitchen and wondering nervously if the heat has burnt the pan contents sat atop the hob or if these mouth watering scents means my random act of BAKING A CAKE IN A SAUCEPAN ON TOP OF THE GAS HOB is actually working.

Let me explain how I came to this…

I woke up yesterday and felt to bake a cake for my boyfriend. I wanted to do something nice for him and I pondered my options whilst I walked leisurely to the shop in my bright pink flip flops. The heat of the day slowly intensifying with the rising sun. I stepped up and through the creaking door of my local shop that lies nestled in the shadows of an old dusty church. The choice was limited but three sturdy orange carrots caught my eye and made my decision to bake carrot cake. I picked a handful of the finest walnuts I could see and tucked them into the basket with dates, spices, sugar and more.

I was up early and eager to begin my baking this morning. As I live in Egypt I have been missing the feel of autumn. The red and burnished gold of leaves, the smooth brown curves of conkers. This carrot cake was to be my way of acknowledging the season. It would be filed with golden autumnal sugar, the rich warmth of cinnamon and a touch of cardamom to represent the Eastern spices of where I now live. As I walked into my kitchen I knew I didn’t have scales and would have to estimate the weights of ingredients using a cup and trawl the Internet for a conversion table. I approached the gas oven and despite my best efforts it refused to light. I tried over and over again but it just would not cooperate. I almost burned my thumb on one occasion as the gas flared up and lost the lighter down the back of the oven during another as it pinged out of my grip. I had to leave the room after another attempt filled the kitchen and me with gas that made my eyes sting and water. After ten attempts and a couple of minor gas flaring incidents I resigned myself to no oven. But at least I hadn’t passed out from gas fumes in the process.

By this point I had also looked up conversion tables from cups to grams on the Internet and sadly realised they are all different. I could find no converter that had an answer for each ingredient and each converter gave a different answer for just one ingredient. Oh.  I stared at my dream of autumnal baking bliss, of carrot cake heaven, and felt disappointment rising in me like a soggy undercooked bun. I had no scales and no oven but I desperately didn’t want to give up. I took one look at the gas hob, another look at my largest saucepan and thought

Oh what the heck, let’s wing it and make a cake on the hob

That idea was WAY OUTSIDE OF MY COMFORT ZONE. I don’t wing it when I do things that reflect upon my abilities, that others can bear witness to. I plan, prepare, worry, prepare some more, lose sleep and plan some more. I have, as do many of us, a fear of failure and of being exposed for the village idiot. I fear I am not as good as all that. So the idea of baking a cake in a pan on the hob, with no idea of quantities of ingredients AND for someone else would definitely be winging it and very far outside of my happy place.

At this point I should mention I am recovering from a recent illness caused by, I believe, too much stress from unavoidable outside circumstances but also due to my reactions and expectations of myself. I ignored my Intuition telling me to stop and rest until I literally had to stop and lie down for a week. Yesterday I decided I must listen to my Intuition more and let her guide me. Stop playing by the rules, stop expecting everything (including myself) to be perfect and wing it a little instead with more laughter in every day. I simply do not want to be the cause of my own exhaustion and illness anymore by ignoring my inner self. The world is a harsh enough critic without me adding to it.

I pondered this with a raised eyebrow, and eyed up the hob and saucepan. Could making this cake be the perfect opportunity to put my thoughts into practice and let my intuition guide me? I could listen to my Intuition closely and see if I could make a cake without scales or an oven. I have made plenty of cakes in the past (albeit with scales, a recipe and an oven) and perhaps my inner self might just know the way to do this. Could it be the perfect opportunity to practice letting go of certainty of success? The cake could come out as a soggy lump of undercooked gooey, burnt batter. That would be my failing but perhaps that is okay. I won’t die from it.

So my beautiful imagined day of seamless autumnal baking for my man had turned into an opportunity for some self-analysis, growth and letting go. Who knew an almost lethal oven, a lack of utensils and a willingness to put myself out there could be so therapeutic? No, me neither.

I took a very deep breath, reminded myself to listen closely to me and then winged it BIG TIME. I threw cups of basic cake ingredients into my mixing bowl and hoped for the best. I splashed yellow eggs in, sprinkled over what I felt would be a tasty amount of different spices and added plenty of baking powder. Surely some extra lift would be a good thing for my saucepan cake? I chopped up the dates enthusiastically and threw them in without considering quantity. Why not, we’re not playing by the rules here anymore. As I mixed the ingredients together lovingly I listened closely and my intuition told me it looked about right for carrot cake batter. I poured the hearty, orange flecked, walnut filled batter into my saucepan and promptly fell about laughing at how ridiculous this idea was. Yes it was also FUN. I was letting go, I was covered in flour dust and playing. I was learning to be me and trusting I am enough. I was also learning just how divine raw cake batter tastes. If only one could survive on cake batter alone as a healthy nourishing diet.

So, my ‘cake’ has been on the hob now for almost an hour and we are back to where I started my tale. I am sat on the sofa surrounded by the delicious scents of warm cinnamon, cardamom, butter, vanilla and gingery sugary goodness. I am paying close attention to the gas burner and wondering nervously if the gas has burnt the pan contents. I tell myself it is time to check and guess what….there is a cake in my pan! An actual cake. Sure it’s not perfect looking but it is definitely cake. This is a recognisable edible item, commonly referred to as food. I can’t believe it!

Or maybe I can? My intuition told me all along I could wing this and make it happen. My stubborn mind just refused to quieten down and believe.

After a minor skirmish with my cake in the pan, a knife and a fish slice (I lack utensils here) it came free from the pan and flopped onto a plate with a heavy sigh. Here is the cake in all her autumnal, slightly burnt, middle-stuck-to-the-pan glory. Isn’t it just perfect? I think so. Okay so it may be slightly burnt, wonky and missing a middle section but it represents a step forwards for me and it is gorgeous with plump edges. As the cake cools slowly on the plate by my side I am smiling.

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What seemed like a disaster, a disappointment disrupting my plans, turned out to be an opportunity for adventure, laughter and growth today. The unexpected turned out okay in the end. All I had to do was drop my self-expectations and rules, turn up with an open mind and be prepared I may fail. Choose to give it a go even though I felt out of my depth, wing it with a kind and forgiving heart, listen closely to my intuition and do my best. Perhaps that is all I can ask of myself every day? All any of us can ask of ourselves? Because, truth be told, I think we are all winging it at times and hoping our cake comes out perfect every time. We all have fears,  wish we were better at this, less of one thing and more of another. Do we hesitate and hold back from trying new things because of our perceived limitations?

How about we just stop beating ourselves with the whisk, take a leap and enjoy the ride, bumps and all? Trust ourselves and go for it. Add heaps and dollops of glorious extra frosting and enjoy the cake. Sit down and eat the cake, eat a lot of cake. And say to ourselves…I did my best and that is simply enough. Now pass me my cup of tea.

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Intuition Calling

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Please listen to me. I am trying to tell you how tired I am, how deeply I need to rest. Please place your hands on your heart and listen to your Intuition, me, and hear my words. I am so tired of shouting my needs on your deaf ears as you charge forwards in life and don’t take the time to let me catch up. I am giving you an opportunity to fall backwards into the safe and loving arms of your protector, your loved one, and I promise he will catch you.

Will you finally let me rest and heal?

Let me rest on a soft feathery pillow that has the lightest scent of spring jasmine blossom and envelopes me with dreams and the early morning light falling upon my soul. The healing hands of sleep, of letting go in order to heal. Please lean back into your loved ones arms and let your shoulders drop. Breathe deeply, feel the warmth of true love catch you and hear his slow and steady heartbeat telling you he won’t go. Exhale your troubles gently, let them fly free like dandelion clocks whisked away in the summer breeze. Up, up and away into the clouds. Close your eyes, inhale slowly and dare to dream. Let the light white clouds of a clear blue sky fill you up, heal you with their wisps and curls and ever-changing nature. Admire their round underbellies as they wander past your mind quietly and carry your dreams to the stars. If you look closely at them reflected in your sleeping eyes, you will see their sparkling silver linings. They are always there and if you’d just let yourself be, you would see them. Your mind would quieten and see the joy in each cloud, the opportunity to heal and grow.

The world can wait my dear, you will come back to it when you are ready, so right now please listen to me and rest. Let me bring you back to yourself. All I ask of you is time and your stillness to let me do so. Still your mind, still your body and let me heal your heart and soul with my words. You will come back brighter, stronger and come back as you; all of you.

Just rest. Let go and your Intuition will guide you

I wonder if you know how tired I became as you ran me up and down mountains in the blazing heat this summer? I tried to tell you with sore muscles, with chest pains and that nagging feeling, my voice telling you to slow down. But you didn’t listen to me; you just made me run faster and harder. I know you were trying to escape your inner self at times, trying to cope with the chatter of your mind. We all run away at times, distract ourselves with tasks and stories rather than listening quietly to what we need. I know you ran every one of those miles for those you loved and missed, for those you couldn’t see anymore in this life. You were trying to place your losses in a ribbon-tied box called ‘Done and Dusted’ whilst ignoring the voice inside that needed time to adjust. I think you know that no matter how many geographical miles you put between yourself and your past, you carried your pain forwards despite your efforts to ignore it. It chafed on your shoulders like an old and worn rucsac reminding you of where you had been and it hurt me too.

I looked up at the silver lined clouds when you found the courage to look yourself in the mirror and cry. I saw your vulnerability as you stopped trying to tie your past with a ribbon and finally you let it go. I was proud as you stopped trying to make your pain pretty and perfect. Did you see how he held your hand as you let it go and accepted your imperfect past as something that gave you strength and character?

It is okay to cry, to have fears and vulnerability. Choose to be open

Lean on those you love and accept your past is a part of you but it has no influence upon today. It is no more important than tomorrow, for really there is only ever now and everything is as it should be.

With your tears dried, with another part of your pain dropped by the wayside I carried you onwards in the sunshine and we laughed. We giggled and smiled atop the ocean waves as your dreams came true and I hoped that in the next chapter you would rest. For in every grand adventure there comes a time for sleep and I needed it but wanted to see you enjoy your dream. I held fast, I stiffened my muscles and supported you always, without complaint.

I wonder if you know how tired I became weeks later as we found ourselves innocent and caught up in places that we had no place being and no escape. I could feel your fear and sense of utter helplessness as your chest tightened, the colour drained from your face and you simply fell apart inside. You held tightly to your friends, you prayed like never before and felt the adrenaline surge through your body and mind as you tried to cope. You longed to be anywhere but there and your friends pulled you through with their love and support. They fought for you and you made it, yet you barely stopped for a moment to recover. Overnight we were living in another country, visiting your wonderful family and friends and moving forwards yet again with smiles and sunshine. But what of me? Did you not hear me pulling the cloak of exhaustion over you so you would rest and heal? No, I didn’t think so. Instead of listening to your intuition you worked hard at achieving magnificent new dreams; of diving, of moving to Egypt, of falling deeply in love, of writing thousands of words all at once. You pushed yourself to know everything overnight, to bear no scars, to swim hard, to run hard, to be perfect.

And so now I bring you this. If it takes illness to make you stop and pay attention so be it. I am your Intuition and I am telling you to slow down. You are perfectly you and I adore you always. Because of that I will make you rest and keep on making you lean into the arms of your loved one until you let me heal you. I need you to lower your expectations of who you should be and just be you. Drop the self-criticism, drop the agenda and treat yourself with love and kindness every single day. I see your thoughts, your expectations of yourself and they swirl like a flurry of autumnal leaves in your mind. Go now, fall back into that soft jasmine-scented pillow and learn to love who you are, just as you are. Let go of your frustration at being worn out, let your scars be part of your beauty and realise everything is as it should be. You don’t need to push yourself all the time, you don’t need to always achieve and you don’t need to be anything other than you. You can just be beautiful, wonderful you. I will keep on reminding you of this and make you rest. Listen closely for soon we will rejoin the world and continue to weave our dreams together. Shine brightly with turquoise oceans and golden sands and create a new tomorrow. But until then sleep tight.

Intuition ~ the ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift ~ Albert Einstein

For my dear friend recovering from cancer. May you listen to your Intuition closely sweetheart and rest awhile, especially as you start your journey of rejoining the crazy world we live in next week. May you take all the time you need to heal emotionally, to sleep on soft pillows and love yourself every day. Please know you are beautiful yesterday, today and tomorrow xxx

His Ship is Safe

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My pen had gathered dust; the golden burnt dust of Egyptian deserts that was carried across stark mountains by gusting winds and came to settle upon me. I touched my mind to the dust, to the turquoise ocean passing me by and finally the words began to form. Like bougainvillea buds opening against dry cracked walls in the sunshine, so it began again in colour and abundance. My voice had quietly walked her return to me when I was busy moving to Egypt last week. I had noticed her absence for many weeks, longed for her return and smiled as she came back and the wind whipped the dust from me through the taxi window.

 

To the sound of a car horn I came back to myself this morning from that thought. As I sat in the taxi, hot leathery seats sticking to my skin and warm winds cooling my freckled face, I couldn’t help but laugh and smile. My taxi driver and I were strangers pulled together by my need to obtain a visa to live in Egypt today. We had set off on our long journey early this morning quietly, awkward in our differences, and yet we returned as friends. As mile upon mile of dusty mountainous road passed us by, our cultural differences had faded away with the simplicity of two open minds and our names. We came to laugh, we shared and talked of the world over aromatic Egyptian coffees and sat together under the shade of an old and crinkled tree. I was clearly the foreigner in my Western clothes and surrounded by Egyptian men passing their day peacefully with sweet tea. They kicked the orange dust under their tanned feet and huddled close around faded plastic tables whilst homeless cats scuttled by.

 

The tiny leaves from the crinkled tree drifted down with each change of the wind and swirled into my coffee lazily. Their yellow leaves settled like confetti upon my clothes as I listened to my driver and his words, his stories. With an easy tone his inspiring words lingered in my mind.

 

We talked of love and life today under that tree, of my driver’s family that he so clearly adores with all his heart. He has been married for almost 15 years but the numbers today were irrelevant. What struck me most was his description of his family, of how he called his wife and children ‘his ship’. As he put it, his ship is safe. He told me of times in his heart when he felt his ship was in trouble for reasons that are not mine to share. With sadness in his eyes he unfurled his tale of losing the warm grip of love he had held so tenderly and how the timbers on his ship were starting to crumble through the routine and familiarity of daily life. But with barely a pause to sip his coffee the fire then lit in his eyes. With gestures and resolution he shared how hard he had worked to rebuild his ship. How despite the dark times, despite the sense of loss, this was still his family, his ship and he fought for them every day.

 

With love as his rudder and hope as the wind in his sails, he rebuilt his ship and poured his heart and soul into his family. He stepped back and considered how he has always loved them unconditionally and quite simply will do, and has done, everything he can to keep them happy and safe. And likewise his wife has done everything she can for her beloved husband and loves him deeply. No matter how dark it was at times for them, they held hands tightly, kept on giving and kept on loving without reservation. He told me with a passion in his eyes that he doesn’t love because he expects something back; he simply loves his wife and his children always. Unconditionally and without reservation. And she loves him unconditionally and without reservation in return. They simply don’t give up.

 

 

Fourteen years of marriage and they still spend two hours on the phone to one another every single working day.

Just because they can.

 

His ship is safe

 

 

We left our shady tree, my tummy full of coffee as the heat of the midday sun closed upon us. We began our journey homewards and I let the miles pass my gaze in a blur of desert and ocean. It came to me that since moving to Egypt I too have My Ship. After months of waiting I am finally able to hold the hand of the man I love and begin to pull my timbers together. It is our turn to mould a hull with kindness, trust and love and fill the sails with laughter and hope for us both every day. As I build my ship I am smiling and I am engraving her with the ways in which I try to live

 

 

Be slow to take offence & quick to forgive

 

Love Unconditionally, Always

 

 

I am cautious at times as I bend the hull into place. I am fearful of being only human, of making old mistakes and of hurting my ship simply by being me. But then I recognise we all hold that vulnerability, we all have ‘issues’ and the only true way of healing one another is through love. Perhaps the hardest part is to take that leap, to risk loving someone completely and allow them to love you in return. Love requires fearlessness, forgiveness and courage. I have taken my leap, and with them by my side I am setting sail into the future. Today I hope I have the strength and forgiveness to ride each wave graciously and laugh all the way to the next one. And I hope we explore many turquoise oceans as we go.

 

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Vulnerable & Free

 

“Reach out to me with your gentle heart. Let me see your sunshine and smiling face, your laughter and your glory. Let me hold your hand and enjoy the moments of celebration in life as we share a picnic on summer meadows filled with nature’s beauty. Butterflies kiss the air overhead with the beating of their wings. Let us laugh, recalling success and happiness as we find shapes and faces in the fluffy clouds passing by.

But let me also witness your storms, your failures and your fears. Let me sit by you through your moods and emotions, your darkness and your sorrows. Show me the shame sitting heavily in the palm of your hand that weighs down your limitless mind with thoughts of I Am Not Enough. Whisper in my ear the admission that you too have moments of insecurity, moments of not knowing which way to turn. That you doubt in tomorrow and hold your pain from yesterday. Don’t hide from me the tears in your eyes as you tell me you cannot go another step because it is too much. Let me see those tears. Let me understand all of you.

Let me share with you my cup of tea and be the gentle hand upon your shoulder. The soothing voice that tells you everything is okay, that you are okay. The warmth that tucks a soft blanket around your knees. The kindness that passes you the last biscuit from the tin whilst you curl deeply into the armchair. Breathe and know I am by your side. Watch the roaring fire as the storms in your mind fade away.

Let me be your friend. Let me see all of you and love every moment, every aspect of who you are. For what you see as character flaws and physical imperfections are what make you so very unique. Unique as a snowflake. Each one equally as vital, as important, in creating the beautiful hush of snow across our wintery world. Your vulnerability and shame that you think ought to be hidden away are what make you real. Show me your vulnerability and shame and you are showing me true courage. And with that open heart, that courage, the world and all her love will be yours.”

 

As I read that passage I am reminded of the fact that we all have vulnerability at our core whether we care to admit that or not. Each and every one of us holds it deep in our hearts and tries to push it down alongside fear and insecurity. As humans we are inclined to only show the very best parts of us. The shiny, the incredible, the magnificent, the awesome. We hide the traits we see as less desirable, we hide our fears and longing for connection. We diet, we have surgery, we lie, we cut and dice away in the hope we can become someone else. Yet all we achieve by doing so is never truly answering the question

 

Who Am I?

 

Instead we perpetuate the belief I Am Not Enough.

 

Like everyone else I try to hide away my darkness and my vulnerability. I diet, I think I am not enough at times and it is an incredibly painful journey accepting who I am. But slowly I am being vulnerable, facing my fears and being All of Me. I am starting to realise I am as unique as a snowflake and equally as valuable as the next. Just the way I am.

 

So why do I mention this today? Because yesterday I had the privilege of being awarded a Versatile Blogger award.

 

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This is an award given by fellow bloggers as a sign of appreciation, respect, and support for their offerings to the blogosphere.  A huge part of my journey has been the discovery of my passion for writing and the creation of my blog. By writing I have found my voice and have begun to find my way back to me. Without writing I wouldn’t be where I am today and I certainly wouldn’t be expressing my vulnerability and facing my fears. I would still be hiding parts of me away.

 

As friends old and new have read my words they have shared their own fears, the ‘Oh me too. I so do that!’ moments and inspired me. I have become part of an online community that I adore and have found daily inspiration, laughter and support through the words of other bloggers. To think that my writing is a part of this community and is valued leaves me humbled and touched.

 

And who is the fellow writer that kindly nominated me for this award? The wonderful DaveCenker. Thank you so much Dave. It means the world to me. For those of you that are not already reading Dave’s blog, you are seriously missing out. His writing is powerful, insightful and uplifting when you need it most. His aim in life is to Inspire and Be Inspired and he does just that. Check him out today.

 

There are an agreed upon set of rules that accompany this award. You are asked to nominate up to 15 other bloggers to receive the award and you are asked to share seven things that people might not know about you.

 

So here we go. My seven facts, vulnerability and fears included.

  • I walked into my glass patio door last week. I had forgotten it was closed
  • I am addicted to granola and dry Bran Flakes. I eat them at least twice a day, every day
  • My greatest loves are eating, running, the ocean and her sharks, writing, red wine, inspiring others and books
  • I won a Care Bears colouring in competition as child. I can still picture the drawing, the pens and the prize cuddly bear vividly. Precious memory.
  • My greatest fears are emotional intimacy, realising my potential, dying alone, having my wings clipped and waves.
  • I sleep on my stomach, spread out like a starfish
  • I am 34 and I have a bear called Hugs. He is awesome.

 

Now for my nominations for the Versatile Blogger award. These are blogs that, whether they know it or not, are much appreciated by me. Some I have known for a while and some are new to me. Their writing and images bring sunshine to my day, inspire and encourage me when I need it most. Thank you.

Bucket List Publications, Cupcake ‘n’ Sunshine, Talinorfali, The Snazzy Turtle, Leap Like A Frog, Morning Story & Dilbert, The Better Man Project, You Can’t Hide The Spark, Forest Four The Trees

 

Glorious Moments v My Monster Mind

I am tired. Are you tired? Is the person next to you tired? Go on, admit it. I think we are all a little tired, worn out, baggy around the edges and uninspired at times. I am certainly experiencing one of those times and I feel like sleeping for the next year. I don’t have anything ‘real’ to worry about, my world is full of good and I simply cannot complain of this fantastic adventure called Life. I am however finding myself staring into the middle distance and looking vacant. My emotions are giving me more highs and lows than a mountain range and I am reaching for the sugar and caffeine. My dreams are on a loop of the activities I crave and my body aches.

 

How on earth did I get to this? How did I transition from peaceful and free to crazy lady with wild hair and no sense of perspective?

 

I spent too much time thinking and worrying. End of.

 

My mind the monster has grabbed the reigns, kicked my peaceful and sane heart aside and decided to take charge. Like a toddler jam-packed with E numbers and let loose in a china shop, my mind has wreaked havoc in my internal world. If I relived the past month without worrying about it all along the way I wouldn’t be tired. The activity, the challenges, the changes have not worn me out. They’ve been great fun. It is my pesky mind refusing to stop churning over the unknowns that is the problem. My mind and I have not allowed a moment of stillness, a moment of mental rest before regrouping to pick up the broken china.

 

I am the creator of my own misery

 

I am out of balance and I have nobody to blame other than myself for this state of affairs. It is all thanks to me and that is terrifying. Or is it?

 

With a little awareness and reigning in I can turn this around….

 

Imagine how much easier life would be if we let go of the worries, let go of those mind patterns and just relaxed.

 

Let it go

 

Went with the highs and lows, smiled despite the frightening parts and laughed loudly and heartily at every single step of the journey. Let it go every single day with sunshine in our smiles, even when the mental clouds attempt to skitter across our minds.

 

Let it go. Be content. Breathe

 

It sounds blissful and it is entirely achievable with awareness and practice. But not when we are tired and need a rest. Rest comes first. Pick yourself up gently with love in your heart, dust yourself off and tuck yourself into a mental fluffy blanket. Take a moment to just be. Everything else can wait.

 

“I must be overtired’, Buttercup managed. ‘The excitement and all.’
‘Rest then’, her mother cautioned. ‘Terrible things can happen when you’re overtired. I was overtired the night your father proposed.”
William Goldman, The Princess Bride

 

Terrible things do happen when we are overtired, when our minds are out of control and affect the world around us with their negativity. I pity my family and friends that bear the brunt of my moments of insanity and I am forever thankful that they love me in spite of myself. I pity my poor body as I push her too far and I am thankful she never stops being there for me despite my lack of tolerance. I very narrowly missed being hit by a car when I was overtired and running this week. I was so mentally fogged up I forgot to look for traffic. Thankfully the driver swerved and I leapt towards the pavement as the air rushed past me.

 

It is time to rest

 

Rest doesn’t have to mean sitting down and doing nothing, though that is appealing and necessary at times. We can find rest in activity and activity in rest. Pursue those hobbies and moments that quieten the mind. As I write this I can feel my balance and happiness deep inside of me. She is always there waiting for my mind to simmer down. Through creativity and expression with words I come back to me. Cook a delicious meal, paint a picture, sing from the depths of my soul and do something kind and gentle for someone else. They are all restful.

 

What would you do if you took time to rest today?

Ask yourself what you really need

 

“Activity and rest are two vital aspects of life. To find a balance in them is a skill in itself. Wisdom is knowing when to have rest, when to have activity, and how much of each to have. Finding them in each other – activity in rest and rest in activity – is the ultimate freedom.”
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Celebrating Silence: Excerpts from Five Years of Weekly Knowledge 1995-2000

 

 Cherish the Glorious Moments

 

Are you still struggling to find a way to unwind so that you can mentally rest? Give thanks for the glorious moments. Take a deep breath, step back and make a list of the happy moments you have experienced recently. The moments that have lifted your heart, made you smile and feel thankful for life. Write them down and remember how wonderful they were no matter how strange or insignificant they may seem to others. With that in mind here are some of the moments that have brought me joy in recent weeks.

 

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Furry microphone. My ‘pet’ for two weeks when Discovery joined us to film Shark Week 2014. Soft, tactile and made me smile

 

Beautiful sunrises at sea. Each one unique, a new beginning
Phosphoresence in the wake of our boat on dark mornings. Stunning sea fireworks
The realisation that in 56 sleeps I get to say hello to this ray of sunshine
Receiving photographs of the Bears, well and truly loved by their new family. Forever missed by me but their happiness brings me peace
30,000 words of my first book written. My dream of being published is one step closer
Passing my first PADI Dive Master mock exam. Facing my fears, working hard and making it happen 
Running up a mountain twice and seeing the ocean from the summit. I didn’t know I could run that far!

 

And most importantly my incredible friends and family. They inspire me every day and there are not enough photographs in the world to capture that.

 

Go close your eyes and set yourself free

 

If you are still struggling to slow down and you feel guilty for even thinking about it then I suggest you read this quote. If ever there was an excuse for an afternoon nap, this is it. Rest, wake up tomorrow and just do the best with what you have.

 

“Even a soul submerged in sleep
is hard at work and helps
make something of the world.”
Heraclitus, Fragments

 

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3 Ps for Change

Fear

Noun: An unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat. A feeling of anxiety.

 

I woke in the middle of the night, gulping cold air into my lungs as the panic subsided and I pulled myself upright. My eyes searched wildly across the room, my face wet with perspiration. I reoriented myself and looked up at the stars twinkling down upon my fearful face. Everything was okay yet I could feel the terror in my mind, in my fingertips and fluttering heart. I had slept and lived my nightmare. My greatest fears weighed heavily on my chest as the panic subsided and I began the slow journey back to rational thought. I had only one question on my mind…Why on earth did I think this was a good idea? I can’t do this.

We all know how those moments feel. Whether we care to admit to being vulnerable or not, moments of fear and doubt happen to us all and the strength and certainty of those feelings is terrifying. They convince us that the decision we have made to live our lives differently, perhaps to pursue a new challenge or adventure, make a personal change, chase dreams and face fears is a really bad idea. An impossibility and pointless. The fear inside you tells you to go back to sleep and continue with everything you know. Do not put yourself out there. Don’t strive, don’t dream and accept that you simply cannot do it. You cannot be more than you already are, it only ever happens to other people and your fears and issues will never fade away. Go back to sleep not just tonight but every night and give up.

 

The mental diatribe quietens down. You listen and hear your heart die a little as your dreams fade away unrealised.

 

Fear continues to grow inside you and wraps its icy tendrils around your heart. You die a little more every single day as you push your dreams deep down inside of you away from the light of day. It depresses me to write that out but it’s true and it happens across the world as we continue to live in fear of the known and unknown.

We don’t dare make a change to improve our lives and the lives of others thanks to fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of being vulnerable, fear of speaking up, fear of living, fear of dying, fear of love and fear of being ourselves. And that’s just the condensed version of the list.

 

We may as well roll over and give up then? Live in this state of fear and remain the same?

 

Wrong. Wrong, every single time. Always wrong. No, no, NO.

 

But why make a change? Why pull yourself out of the slumber and dare to be different?

 

Because you have Potential

 

You have this incredible gift of life. You are alive today, you can breathe and you owe it to yourself to dance with potential and see what you can do.

 

Everyone has inside himself a piece of good news! The good news is that you really don’t know how great you can be, how much you can love, what you can accomplish, and what your potential is! – Anne Frank

 

Potential

Adj: Having or showing the capacity to develop into something in the future

Noun: Latent qualities or abilities that may be developed and lead into future success of usefulness

 

You have no idea what you are capable of until you try. Yes you might fear reaching out to someone you love, you might fear choosing new adventures, you might fear stepping outside of the house. But if you stay indoors you’ll never realise your potential. Your life with continue to be a What If. Recognising you have potential is everything. It is the open door that you can take to make a change, to grow and see who you really are. Not who your limited mind and fears believe you to be. How exciting is that?!To think that there is so much out there for you to discover about yourself, about the world around you? A lifetime of adventure without and within and the opportunity to be whoever you want to be.

 

As you begin the journey of realising your potential you’re going to need two new friends; Persistence and Positivity. These are two of my favourite friends in my army against fear.

 

Persistence

Noun: Firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition

 

Positive (Positivity – Derivative)

Adj: Constructive, optimistic, or confident, with no possibility of doubt

 

It isn’t easy making change, pursuing new avenues and becoming more than you were yesterday but you can do it. You will need to persist and you will need to be positive. Commit to yourself, commit to your decision for change and step forwards every day. Take baby steps if you need to, forget focussing on the finishing line (there isn’t one, life is a journey remember), and believe with absolute positivity that you will succeed. That whatever it is you dream of will happen because you will persist and you will be positive every step of the way.

Of course you will have days when persistence and positivity are hard to find and sometimes giving up feels like the only option. Then what? Step back and listen to your heart. Can you hear that dream still alive within you despite the weariness? Is your intuition telling you this is the right path for you? Yes? Then march on my friend, march on. Have a slice of cake to pull you through, rest, wake up tomorrow and then try again. Do what you can with what you have each day. Smile, persist and be positive.

 

Smile like the freaking Cheshire cat if you have to. It works, trust me.

 

And if necessary turn back towards your shadow called Fear and invite her along for the journey. Accept that you will always have a shadow, you will always have doubt at times but your shadow needn’t dictate your future. Dictating your future is up to you. Go for it. Dream big with unlimited potential in mind. With a thankful heart, positivity and persistence by your side.

 

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will allow my fear to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone I will turn my inner eye to see its path. And where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” (From Frank Herbert’s Dune)

 

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