Views.

I’m back. I was MIA for a while because, as Sod’s Law would have it, the minute I made my commitment to go travelling, and started planning in earnest, work became super busy. I was also struggling with certain relationships in my life but, underneath it all, the desire to spread my wings was still burning  – so here I am.

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In a way, I feel that all that’s happened recently has taken place to test my resolve. It’s as if life is saying ‘Oh, so you think you’re finally ready to go? Are you finally gonna put some actions behind your words? Well, let’s see..’ And you know what? I truly am. Being busy at work is great, but I’ve realised there will never be an ‘ideal’ time to leave to go travelling. I just have to do it. To that extent, the planning is now back in full force.

Another factor that’s helped confirm my feeling that I’m on the right path is that I’ve now got a few travelling buddies to accompany me on certain parts of my journey, and I couldn’t be happier about that. As I’ve mentioned before, I find it incredibly hard to not only be away from home for long periods of time, but also to do so on my own. If I can take a piece of home with me, (preferably in the shape of a friend), then it will make the travels so much easier. I used to be ashamed of admitting that I didn’t like being away from home, but I’ve come to realise that that’s just a part of who I am – it’s what makes me ‘me’, and I accept it wholeheartedly.

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So. Back to the planning. At the moment I’m planning a mixture of self-planned travels with friends, and guided tours/expeditions, which I feel like will give me the best of both worlds, and help me to experience lots of different places and situations. The most important thing is that I want to be surrounded by people, and get properly immersed into different cultures, rather than just being a traditional tourist. From learning Spanish for so long, and studying Aztec/Inca/Maya culture at uni, I feel an immense pull towards Central/South America, hence why they’re at the top of my list! Pinterest pictures just won’t do anymore – I want to see it for myself!

All in all, my excitement for my travels remains just as strong as ever. It can be so easy at the moment to fear the world, to want to stay in the safety (as relative as that is nowadays) of your bubble, but as long as you’re vigilant, I don’t think we should let the actions of a few affect our plans. The only way to stop more barriers, physical or figurative, being created is to leap over them yourself, and see what’s on the other side.

Until next time…

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Blooming feathers

Some very interesting things have happened lately.

Work had been quite quiet recently; I had my regular steady stream of clients, but not many new ones. Since I’ve decided to go travelling, however, the tides have suddenly turned. I’ve had an influx of students and business opportunities, my LinkedIn is poppin’ (just like Lil Mama’s lipgloss, circa 2008) and extra hours of work. At first, despite being happy at my new success, I took this as an ominous sign – am I not meant to go travelling? Is this a sign to stay and grow my business? But, with a little more time, I’ve seen it differently – this is all working towards me saving up and having the time of my life travelling, and I couldn’t be more excited.

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In a similar way, the boys have been buzzing around my milkshake in the yard (I’m really on my early ’00s vibe tonight). I recently decided that I was spending too much energy looking for love, and instead chose to work on myself and my travel plans. Lo and behold, the minute this decision was made, old familiar male faces appeared out of the woodwork, popping up to say ‘hey’ and see what I was up to. In the past, I would have dedicated my time to reigniting flames with certain people, but now, this turn of events has only gone to show me that keeping busy building your best life is one of the most attractive things you can do.

Both of these sudden shifts have gone to show me that my decision to take the travelling leap has brought a lot of good energy into my life. In that vein, I’ve been throwing myself into planning my trips, and I’ve adored every second of it. My preliminary itinerary is something like this:

Dec/Jan – Central America

Jan/Feb – South America

Feb/March – Australia

March/April – New Zealand

April – Bali

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Obviously this is all dependent on travel partners/tour groups I go with, and of course my available funds (eek!) but I’ve done some really good research into the best times to go to each place, and I feel pretty content with this plan so far! I want to add Fiji in there somewhere, but that might have to wait until later in the year. Just making the lists of the top sights to see in each place has had me wanderlusting all over the place, and dreaming myself out of my Surrey bedroom – I can’t wait!

Not only has the planning been a light in a busy tunnel of work, but it’s helped me get my head out of Cupid’s clouds and focus solely on myself, and what will be best for my growth. I finally feel completely confident in my decision to go off travelling, which is in turn already helping me to feel more settled in myself. I can feel the wings starting to bloom with feathers…

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On fear & letting go

‘Change is never easy. You fight to hold on, and you fight to let go.’

I’m been thinking a lot about fear and letting go recently.  As I start to truly plan my travels in earnest, there has been a lot of excitement, but also a lurking sense of fear and trepidation. Although this is completely normal, and comes with the territory of change, for the first time in my life I’m truly taking time to sit with the fear, understand it and face it.

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All of my life, I’ve adored my safe little cocoon of home. It’s comfortable. It’s happy. It’s familiar. Only recently, however, have I come to realise that my fear of leaving it is not so much ‘fear’ in itself, but the fear of letting go. As anyone in my immediate family can tell you, I like to be in control, I like things done a certain way, and it find it hard to let situations that upset or anger me lie. When people leave my life, be it a best friend of 14 years, or just someone I’ve been on a few dates with, I yearn for the reasons ‘why’ and struggle so hard to let them go without answers. This has always been with me – I still can’t ride a bike to this day because I am too scared to let my feet off the ground and trust that I’ll be okay. And that’s exactly how I’ve felt about travelling, until now.

Now, here’s a little warning: I’m going to get a bit spiritual. So, if this sort of ‘hippy-dippy’ shit is not for you, then I urge you to skim past these next few paragraphs, and continue reading unencumbered by my spiritual sentences. A few years ago I went to see a spiritual teacher, as I had a few questions as to possible sources of my behaviour in this life. It was eye-opening. One of the areas I focused on was attachment, and my fear of letting go and, to cut a long story short, the struggle reaches lifetimes ago. Through past-life regression I learnt that I’d been abandoned in various ways and forms in my past, I’d been left on the streets, I’d been beaten by those I loved, and I was carrying this pain and fear into this lifetime. I referred rejection. I feared loneliness. It made so much sense, not only in my fear of leaving home and my loved ones, but also as to why I end up in relationships time and time again where I get SO much less than I deserve.

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The ghosts of our pasts (and here I refer to the recent, and more distant, past) can haunt us if we choose not to face them. It’s easy to forget that we are not just solely ‘humans’ living a life where spirituality is a choice; we are spirits and souls living a uniquely human experience. We bring each lesson, scar, and memory to each life we incarnate, but when we bury them beneath human experience, they are destined to repeat themselves until they’ve made themselves heard. The confronting of these ghosts is what first brought me to the practice of meditation – of not only connecting to myself (and past selves) but also simultaneously grounding myself in the here and now. You see, another source of my fear surrounding travelling came from fear of the future, of the unknown. It came from not living in the present. It came from pain rooted in the past that needed to be dealt with and moved along, so I could live in the moment. In happiness. If you focus on the entire climb, a mountain appears insurmountable, but if you just approach it one step at a time, you’ll soon reach the top.

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With this in mind, although planning my travels has brought up fear of the unknown, fear of leaving behind the familiar and fear of losing certain relationships, my approach to the fear has changed. I enjoy the process in its present form, rather than worrying about its future. I enjoy spending the afternoon, coffee in hand, researching the best places to visit in Central America, rather than worrying if I can spend months away from home without longing for my own bed and blankie. I have fun hanging out with my girlfriends, rather than stressing about whether the guy I like will turn out to be something more and I’ll have to leave him behind come January. I enjoy the now. I don’t fear the then.

Little by little, I’m learning to find peace in letting go. In loosening my iron grip on life. Because as hard as I may try to mould it to my will, life in its essence is fluid and constantly changing, just as we are. If we spend every second fearing what will happen if we let go, we’ll never experience the freedom of freefall. If we spend every second searching for someone to love us, we’ll never learn to love ourselves truly and wholly. And if we fear leaving behind the familiar, we’ll never experience the wonder of the unknown.

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The Voice Within

To start this post, I want to share a quote that really resonated with me this week:

“Nobody can understand you, no one will ever really get you. Give up trying to get them to get you. You’re not going to make them understand. You cannot explain yourself to anybody, because nobody can get your point of attraction, and the harder you try to explain to someone who’s not getting it, the less you will BE who you are.

You let them train you into THEIR awareness of you. But you don’t want THEIR awareness. You want YOUR awareness of you. Your warm, loving, appreciative, wellbeing version of you – the one that your inner Being holds and tends to, the one that knows and flows to you.”

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Whenever something big happens in your life, be it an event or a decision you’ve made, the people in your life will always be there with opinions and comments in hand. And that’s great. You want a peer group that takes an active interest in your life, and is on hand for advice and guidance. However, there is a limit to how helpful this advice is, and to how much it should be internalised, simply because they are not YOU.

When I was younger, people’s opinions really mattered to me – as they do for most youngsters figuring out the world. I wanted to be liked, and I also thought others were more intelligent than me, wiser. I didn’t go down certain paths because of the opinions of others, and choose different ones because I thought it would gain me a wider circle of friends. Even up until recently, I compromised my standards and values in relationships because I was so desperate to be loved. But no longer.

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This quote struck a chord with me recently because I’ve entered a period of unrest, of uncertainty, and of pondering and decision-making. Often the hardest step of starting a new chapter is the actual decision to start  – that takes some bravery. Nevertheless, after this comes the onslaught of chatter from those around you, ultimately sending your head into a little spin, and making the way you just chose hazy once again.

That’s where this quote really comes into the fore. Listen to the comments. Handle them. Let them ruminate. But do not let them become your way, for your way is unique and can only come from you. There will be people that will question your plans or your actions, people who will tell you the best way to do them, and people who want every detail of the road you’re yet to travel on. As these arrows fly onto your newly polished shield of determination, use the armour of self-certainty to protect yourself. Not only do you not owe anyone an explanation for your actions, and such an explanation would only go so far anyway, as no one will ever understand you like yourself.

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Whilst some may thing this is a bleak notion, I find it entirely freeing. Gone are the days when I felt I needed to have a bullet-pointed list of reasons I was making certain plans to present to any question-askers. I now know that doing so is time wasted; time that could be spent making my plans a reality. Bring clarity and action to YOURSELF. Explore yourself, and your own reasoning for making certain decisions. Junctures in life such as the one I find myself at are made specifically for this purpose – to make you face yourself and discover little corners and crevices you never knew were hiding inside you. What could be a more thrilling adventure than that?

As I begin to plan my travels, and actually totally rethink my aims and goals in life, I’m learning to take more time to sit and connect with myself, and less time worrying what other people will think. As I mentioned in my previous blog, my one biggest worry has been my Dad – he’s always found my changing of paths to symbolise a lack of determination and motivation. I worried that he will consider my travelling an excuse to get out of working, when actually it’s the complete opposite – I’m going travelling to help me discover what it is I really want to do, and to come back with a renewed vigour to do it. But, as is the point of this post, he will not ever be able to truly understand it, so I cannot worry about something I cannot control

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So, if you’re at a point in your life where you desire change, new challenges, or some new scenery, consult the most important voice and decision-maker in your life – YOU. If you spend your life worrying about the opinion’s of others, or following in their footsteps, no move you make will ever be truly fulfilling, because it was not truly made with yourself in mind. The future is fluid – you can bend it to your heart’s desire, but only if you move forward with passion and conviction! So GO!

 

A Little Less Conversation, please.

Lately, the two ‘C’s’ have been on my mind. No, not chocolate or carbs (although that would generally be a fair guess), but communication and commitment. For all the benefits technology has brought to our lives, I believe that the screens in front of us have rendered us more distant, more anonymous, and more disconnected from one another than ever before. Rather than meet up with someone, we’ll drop them a tweet. Rather than check what someone is up to, we’ll just scroll through their latest Instagram posts. Our over-reliance on internet interactions has crushed our conversational abilities into a formless, feature-less pulp.

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More scarily, however, I’ve realised that this disconnect has spread as far as distancing us from our very own selves. Feeling stressed? I’ll watch a YouTube video to avoid my thoughts for a little while. Lots to do? I’ll put it down in my iPhone to-do list, and forget about it a little more easily than if it was on a piece of paper in front of me. Guilty. I’ve been feeling restless and antsy for a little while now (okay, more like a LONG while), but rather than practice the ‘mindfulness’ I preach, I’ve been burying my head in the virtual sand. Cue long nights watching Dr Pimple Popper videos until 3am, longingly staring at bronzed beauties on tropical beaches on Instagram, and generally not connecting with myself in the here and now.

Cue this blog, and a total mindset shift. I’ve been planning travels for almost 10 years now. I’ve gone as far as booking flights, accommodation, everything, only to chicken out at the very last minute, too scared to leave my Surrey bubble. I won’t lie, I’ve always moved in phases with aims in my life; I’ve been passionate about Pilates, only to fall out of love with it just as quickly. I’ve been totally driven to play the drums, only to switch to harp after three weeks of bashing the hell out of them. Maybe it’s me being an Aquarius – a water sign whose energy flows in different directions, taking different forms and densities all the time. Or, for those less astrologically inclined, maybe it’s because I’m yet to find something I’m truly passionate about, or dedicated enough to stick with. Now, though, this movement and shifting has taken another form, and it’s refusing to be ignored.

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After I graduated uni in 2014, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I knew I loved languages but, yet again, I didn’t know if I loved them ENOUGH to dedicate my life to them. Fast forward 3 years, and I’ve set up my own tutoring company, have a fairly steady flow of students, and seem to be more focused. But still, something was not clicking. Until it did. I was driving down a road I travel every week for a particular lesson, and I suddenly said to myself ‘I want to see a road I’ve never been on before’. It was as clear as that. It was like the subconscious me that I had been suppressing with social media and late-night YouTube sessions had forced its way to the surface and was going ‘YOOHOO – NATI! Over here! Here’s what you need to do!’. Bingo.

Of course, it’s not that simple. I’ve just set up a company. I love home. I get homesick easily. Most scarily – what on earth will my Dad say? Then, another lightbulb was lit. I’d become so wrapped up in what-ifs, in the thoughts of others, in living virtually in my thoughts and online, that I’d forgotten to communicate with myself, and make my thoughts a REALITY. I meditate often, but in the past few weeks I haven’t, and I think it’s because I’m scared to face up to the answers I’ll find there. I’m scared that the reality is I have to stop thinking about what will make my Dad proud, stop thinking about whether other people will call this another ‘phase’, and that I’ll have to stop being cocooned in my cosy bubble and actually break out into the world. Even typing this I’m getting the jitters.

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But that’s EXACTLY why this next phase of my life is so necessary – BECAUSE it’s scary. It needs to shake me, to bring out emotions, to force me to confront the fear and discover a side of myself I’ve yet to meet yet. And it needs to happen before I hit 30, I know that much. I’ve come to realise that there will never be an ideal time to leave my work, there will never be 100% agreement between my friends and family about what I’m doing, but that there will never be a time when I am more free and able to travel than now. I’ve realised that I need to stop all the mental chit-chat, all the technological twittering and just COMMIT. That’s a practice I think we can all bring into our lives: let’s stop living so virtually and distant from one another, and actually use our bodies and brains for true movement and communication. Let’s commit to action. The results might actually astound us.

So, before I write the next Crime & Punishment in a single blogpost, I’ll leave you with this wish: that you join me on my journey through the tough terrain that is my late-twenties, that you laugh at my ramblings, despair at my doozy moments, and smile and take comfort when you read something that resonates. I’ll be here until I find my path, and I hope that you will be too.

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