Posts Tagged 'happy'

On travelling solo.

No one can say that my life has not been interesting.  From the very beginning it appears I was destined to live a life full of challenges interspersed with an occasional adventure.

It all began in Singapore where my mother, just twenty-one, fell pregnant with her second child.  She had married my father, a slim and charming Irish airforce man at nineteen and their first posting had been to Singapore.  A couple of years later we returned to England and within a year or so we were off to Germany where I began my schooling. I distinctly remember being dragged to school through the snow… not eager to leave the warmth of our top floor flat and the sweet stories of ‘Listen to mother’ on the radio.  Three years later I had to leave my first best friend Gillian and return to England.  I cried for a week and experienced my first broken heart.

Back in England it felt like we moved incessantly.  House after house and school after school.  I became a bookworm.  The corner of the school library and a soft cushion became my friend. The books I read being familiar faces no matter where I found myself.  It was during these years that I discovered the value of knowing how to be alone and I remember my mother telling me how important it is to know how to do this.  To being easy in your own company.  To savour the very sweetness that is solitude.

Finally in my teenage years when my father left the airforce and started his own company we started to settle and yet life began to fall apart.  My father, a typical irishman was a drinker and the more money he made the more he drank.  During his airforce years he had never really been home and I was probably to young to be aware of his addiction.  Now it was glaringly obvious and his indifference to me became a thorn in my side but, at the same time, I developed a deep friendship with my mother that lasted until the day she died.

A week after my seventeenth birthday, having been dumped unkindly by my first boyfriend, I hopped on a plane and went stateside to escape yet another broken broken heart and my father.  I stood at Atlanta airport feeling tiny, afraid and incredibly vulnerable.  All I could think was ‘how am I going to survive this’….but I did.  I ended up in South Carolina and spent a year exploring life, making friendships that are still alive today, learning to stand on my own two feet and the art of ‘conversation with a stranger’.

A year or so later I returned to England and instantly regretted the decision.  Driving through the grey, damp streets on a foggy November morning I longed for the sunny skies of the carolinas, the friends I had made there and once again to be far away from my father and the shit storm that surrounded him.  Just eighteen I sat in my parents little house in England and felt lost, alone and once again incredibly vulnerable.  No plan and no idea where to start. My parents marriage a mere pile of rubble and his love affair with the bottle all the stronger.

Now so many years later I am so grateful for those early adventures.  I am eternally grateful for those early life lessons of savouring solitude and travelling solo.  Of learning to talk to strangers and of reading anything and everything.  Of knowing that broken hearts do mend and that there is power in vulnerability.  Of knowing that you don’t have to tolerate other people’s stuff no mater who they are.

Today I savour my solitude and that little armchair at the back of the bookstore is still my friend.  I have more books than clothes and still love ‘conversations with strangers’.  To hear snippets of their stories and exchange friendly smiles.   I am alone, a little lost and once again feeling incredible vulnerable…..but it feels like home.

Advertisements

I’m not where I want to be…

I’m not where I want to be.  I’m far from where I want to be, but I’m closer than I was.

Two years ago I was on my knees.  Broken by the end of a twenty seven year marriage and just months later the death of my mother.  I had no idea how I was going to survive let alone live.  I’m not there anymore.  I’m so not there anymore.  I’m putting myself back together bit by bit.  When things get broken and put back together they don’t look the same.  The japanese call it kintsugi.  The art of fixing something that is broken and making it more beautiful. I’m putting myself back together and hopefully the new me will be better…..but I’m still a little bit broken.  Fixing some things takes time.

Lots of time.

In the meantime I am perfectly capable of constantly beating myself up about not being where I want to be.  Not being good enough.  Not achieving enough.  I know we all do it but I am the master of it.  Constant tirades at the mirror.  Moments of pure diatribe when I am driving.  Telling myself I should be better. I should be stronger, fitter, more capable, more successful. I should be where I want to be….but I’m not.  It’s too soon.

So in a quiet moment this weekend I wrote down all the things that I have achieved in the last two years.

I did 500 hours of yoga teacher training and passed with distinction

I started teaching yoga daily and in doing so making a difference to so many lives

I did counsellor training and passed with distinction

I did my meditation teacher training and passed with distinction

I started an online business learning about packaging, trademarks and countless other things

I started importing for my online business

I helped write a book that is about to go to print

I wrote my own book – well the first 60,000 words of it.  It still a work in progress.

I expanded my photography business

I went on a blind date

I buried my mother and dealt with her estate

I stopped watching tv

I increased my exercise and changed my diet

On a personal level I moved house, bought a car, opened bank accounts, opened cell phone accounts and learnt to do life on my own

I’m learning to deal with my anger

I’m learning to soften

With the support of some incredible friends I survived

I survived and I grew and I got to know all the broken parts of myself.

I’m not done putting myself back together.  I’m still hurting.  I’m still a little bit broken.

I’m not where I want to be but I’m closer than I was.

Happiness is……a secret

1604untitled022

I made a promise to myself a year or so ago when my life fell apart and all that I knew was no longer.  I promised myself that I would be open to possibilities.  That what landed in my lap was perhaps meant for me, despite my own curious dubiousness, and that I would explore what ever came my way.  That I would let life unfold just as it wanted. That I would release my resistance to outcomes and live in the moment. That I would enjoy those moments and treasure each and every one of them however heavy or light they felt.

I am proud to say that I have done just that.  I have braved weddings on my own, seen more movies than ever before, flown around the country visiting friends and agreed to work that I never, ever, imagined myself doing.  The rewards have been great and I am thankful for each and every opportunity to explore both the external world and my own inner self.

So when a week or so ago a dear friend messaged and asked me if I would like to go to Secret Sunrise I agreed, without even a moments hesitation and without even being fully aware of what it was.  I then moved on with my days and having marked the event in my calendar let it rest far in the back of my mind. I had just returned from a long weekend away in the far off provence of Limpopo when she messaged to remind me that out outing was imminent.  I have to admit I did emit a rather large sigh.  Despite my efforts to move out of all my self imposed comfort zones I am still a lover of routine and am deeply attached to my own personal space and alone time. I had just spent five days away with people and had a deep desire to sink back into the coziness of my world.

With a certain amount of weariness my alarm was set for four thirty in the morning and rise I did on an extremely hot and humid morning at the end of March.  We arrived at the city centre location only divulged the day before (hence the name Secret Sunrise) and were each presented with a set of headphones and guided to some stairs leading to the roof of the building.  There on that roof was a veritable wonderland of vegetables and flowers.  A rooftop garden so sweet it would take your breath away.  Recycled items turned into glorious flower containers, a giant chess board, a bus stop and fruit tress abundant with their offerings.  A fairy tale world in the most unexpected of places.

Headphones on we were guided though an hour of dance, meditation and unbridled joy.  To begin with I found myself hesitant. Unsure and self conscious. After all here I am on a rooftop at six o clock in the morning, dancing to music no one else can hear, waiting for the sun to make it’s easy way into the day.  Then I remembered my promise to myself.  To just let life unfold and enjoy all the moments that came my way.  I looked around me and saw nothing but sweet smiles.  The energy and joy was infections and it took only one or two breaths before I too found myself floating around the garden in a state of pure happiness.

I was breathless.  Something that started out with a sigh of regret at my eagerness to say yes turned out to be one of the happiest hours of my life.  The sheer pleasure of moving my body without a care in the world was exhilarating.  Catching my breath as the sun showed it’s sweet face over the roof tops I was deeply grateful to be there in that moment.

So this is how the story goes.  Be open to everything. Release your resistance to the outcome.  Let life unfold.  This was a true lesson from the universe and a very sweet reminder that pure joy comes in the most unexpected ways.

So many brave warriors

1508untitled089

This last weekend I braved an early and somewhat cold start, attached my fastest and biggest lens to my camera and headed off to take some action shots of the Ironman triathlon being held in Durban.  As I left my house the sky was alive with promise of a beautiful day and I felt the sweet breath of anticipation somewhere deep within me.

I arrived at the starting point just as the sun was edging its way into the new day, creating black palm tree silhouettes against a flaming red sky.  Three and a half thousand men and women stood shivering in their wetsuits waiting to start this half ironman competition that started with a two kilometre swim out past the back line and in again further up the beach.  From here the competitors cast aside their wet suits and head out on a one hundred kilometre bike ride. When done with that they would then have to face a twenty one kilometre run before they make it to the finish line.  My goodness this is only a half Ironman!! Families, friends and strangers mill around waiting for the start before walking the distance to where they come out of the water to start stage two.  I am struck by the tense sense of excitement.  An almost breathless anticipation of the day ahead.

The competitors came in all shapes and sizes along with all ages.  Each one of them prepared to push themselves physically and mentally beyond the norm.  Each one of them setting themselves an seemingly impossible target.  The waves that day were enormous.  Probably over three metres and to be honest, not being a water baby, there is not even a possibility I would have ventured out there in a worthy vessel let alone under my own steam.  As the swimmers came back towards the shore you could see the massive waves filled with tiny black dots being swept high and pounded down to be tossed about like buttons in a shaker jar.  Not for the feint hearted.  However, age was not a deterrent to these people.  There were plenty of competitors considerably older than me.  Size was not a deterrent.  They came in every possible guise.  As they stumbled out of the water I was already in awe.

They set off on their bicycles and we made a dash to drive to a half way point.  Firstly because it had coffee (having been up since five thirty this was becoming a priority in my life at this time) and secondly so that I could get some photographs like the one above.  This guy is smiling.  Seriously!

Then we drove back to the finish line to watch them run.  The run was done by way of a ten or so kilometre loop so the runners came past several times.  Supporters lined this route, leaning up against the barrier and passing endless words of encouragement to the runners who by now are starting to look like finishing is not even a possibility.

I was overwhelmed by the support these complete strangers gave to the competitors. Every man and woman that passed was handed a huge dose of kindness.  Their names would be called and words of encouragement would follow.  The people next to me made sure not to miss out anyone.  They clapped and cheered and gave courage to those that had seemingly lost their own.  This was beautiful.  By now the sun was warm and I found myself surrounded by strangers helping strangers.  The unknown supporting the unknown. I soaked it up and revealed in the joy of being human.  How incredibly sweet this all was.

We are capable of so much more than we think.  As humans we have the mental capacity to overcome almost anything.  Seeing these people push themselves to the limits of their endurance and physical capability moved me in a way I cannot describe.  They were truly courageous.  Each facing whatever it is they have to face and doing so for their own reasons.  Each with their own story.

The kindness that humans show to each other is so beautiful it is beyond words.  Why I ask myself do we have wars and why are people so intolerant of one another.  It is not our nature.  We are not born this way.  We are born with soft open hearts and this is how it should stay.  When people come together like this, hold each other up and open their hearts to one another there is an energy that sinks deep into your soul.

It should be like this everyday.  Be kind to one another.  Open your hearts and hold each other up.  We are all courageous and we are all just writing the pages of our own stories.

As in the words of Ram Dass – “We are all just walking each other home”.

 



%d bloggers like this: