My brief return to one of my homes…

I have just returned from a short break back to Morocco, where I got to see some old friends and bury some demons, and also take a little bit of time to slow down and enjoy life. And now I’m back, I have realised how much I have changed from who I was before I moved there.

Now I’m back in London, I notice how easy it is to fill up my schedule and rush from place to place. But I also know this isn’t good for me, and there is really no need to live like that. Going back to Morocco has reminded me to slow down, to not rush and not put so much pressure on myself to do everything or see everyone or plan my life a month in advance (I know a month isn’t a lot for some people but for the past 15 months I haven’t planned that much!). It also taught me to take time to see the people I care about, and that those who fall in that category and those that show they care about me are the ones to hold onto. They are the real gems – the ones that will see you through the rough times and have fun with you in the good times. Any maybe you aren’t always in constant contact with them, but they’re still special. I am lucky to still have a support network in Morocco and people I call close friends. From this trip, I have reminded myself how much I appreciate these people (both those in Morocco, as well as all my other amazing friends across the world) – and also how much I love and appreciate nature. In London, you don’t get that much of it, and we are so often rushing around with our heads down. But in Morocco, I had so much time to appreciate the sunsets I love, the beaches, the oceans, everything. And I’m not going to come away from this again.

So now I’m back, I want to make sure I retain who I was in Morocco and Spain and not revert back to the person I can sometimes be when I’m in London. I’m nowhere near as much of a planner or control freak as I was before things changed in my life, but I still don’t want to slip back into old habits. I don’t need to plan everything out, I need to see what happens and go with it as things can change so quickly anyway. I need to remember to relax and take time for me, to do the things I want to do and see who I want to see but not feel pressured to do everything and also make sure I am having real time for myself. I know that especially at this time of year it is hard to do, but it is also important. It’s about staying true to yourself and what is best for you.

I feel lucky I got to go back for a visit and know I will again soon. I am so grateful I got to exorcise some ghosts and connect with amazing people. And I am so happy I got to jump in the ocean and soak up some sun! These are the things I miss the most – the people, the ocean, the sun, the relaxed attitude to life and the calmness you can find there if you know where to look. Now it’s time to try and bring a little bit of that into whatever I do now.

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Is there actually an ‘easy way’?

Over the past 15 months or so, I have moved around. I’ve spent time in a number of countries, working and chilling and figuring things out and meeting amazing people. The reactions I’ve had for the major change of life I decided to embark upon have been mostly positive, but I’ve also encountered some negativity about it. Both these reactions always make me think about what I’m doing, why I’m doing it, and how I am perceived by others, as well as by myself at times.

I’ve met a large number of people living the same lifestyle I now am, but I also have so many wonderful people in my life that are living the lifestyle I used to have. I never say that one way is better than the other, and I never proclaim that if people aren’t doing what I now am, they are having a worse life. I just know which one feels right for me. And most of the reactions of all of the people who have been in my life for a long time have been so positive and loving and amazing, as have the reactions of people I’ve met on my new journey. In doing this, I have met a huge number of wonderful human beings, and I have realised what a strong support network I have back home and all over the world. I have been lucky enough to see this network grow and grow, and I feel so lucky.

Some reactions haven’t been quite so positive. Most of the negative reactions have come from people I still love, and many of them don’t even realise that I perceive their thoughts as negative. Almost all of them love me greatly and want the best for me, and in most ways do support me. But since coming back and wondering where I’m going next in my life, some of the comments have made me ponder things a lot. Like how I have an easy life, how I’ve got no worries anymore, how it must be nice to run all over the world and not have to settle or worry about things or have responsibility, how I’m running away and at some point I’ll have to come and settle and I can’t run forever and I should be sensible sometime. I know that most of these comments come from a place of love, and from people who want the best for me or pretty much just want me to stick around so I’ll be in one place again.

But is it running away? Is it the easy life or the easy option? Or is it actually pretty hard – always living out of a bag, not sure where the next place is or how long a job will last or if you’ll have money in two months time. Constantly meeting new people – both exciting and exhausting depending on your mood, and meaning you end up with friends all over (again an amazing thing, but also means your network isn’t always around or close). I wouldn’t say I have chosen this way of life because it’s easier, and I’m not running away. I still have worries and stresses, just different ones to before. I’ve been told it’s brave, that I have a lot of strength to do it. Sometimes I don’t feel strong, and sometimes I just want to be around the people who know me well and drink tea and hang out and have some ‘normality’. But I also know after a month or two of doing that, I’m itching to get out again.

And when I settle anywhere for a bit, part of me gets comfortable and part of me cries out to keep going. I hope that one day I will find somewhere I want to settle and make my proper home. Until then, I will keep exploring and discovering places and also finding out more about myself – I’ll keep meeting new people and yes it will be hard sometimes and no I’m not running away. And all this will be worth it – I feel like it’s paying off already and I am becoming richer in knowledge and experience and full of love for everyone I have in my life. Genuinely, thank you so much to everyone I have met who supports and loves me.

Muddy shoes and a grateful heart (for my Dreamsea family)

Sometimes the unexpected situations, the things you didn’t see coming, are the ones that can teach you the most and help you make so many realisations. The last couple of months I’ve been away from this blog and have been making new memories with an amazing group of people in Spain – my Dreamsea family. Each one of them is unique and beautiful in their own way, and I have learnt so much from them all. And I now have a whole new group of people that have helped me grow and will continue to be an influence in my life.

Going to work in Spain was one of those unexpected situations – it all happened suddenly and was a snap decision I made that turned out to be just what I needed. I had highs and lows there, but overall the experience has given me a fresh perspective on who I am, where I want to go, what I want to do and ultimately the kind of person I am and the kind of person I want to be. It has made me realise some of my less than desirable traits (which I would like to change and am going to work towards), it has shown me there are parts of me that I really want to work on and past experiences that I want to deal with, and it has also taught me the things I love about myself and about what I do and the life I have chosen. It has also given me the chance to show my love to a new group of friends – which I am ever grateful for – and reminded me of how incredible the friends I already have are, as they are constantly supportive and always there.

I am sure I would have come to all of this in time, but the catalyst of my camping life gave it to me in just the way I needed. So going away, unplugging from things (and people), and taking time in a different situation was exactly the right thing for me. It has given me a buzz for things again, a new excitement and a world of opportunities – plus a hunger for more. So thank you to everyone who has been part of my life the last few months, and also those who have been around a lot longer (you know who you are). I cannot wait to start out again on a new adventure, to continue growing as a person and also to see my wonderful Dreamsea family again soon.

Stop and appreciate the beauty around you

fullsizerender-1Sometimes, I have to pinch myself and remind myself of how lucky I am. I live in a beautiful country right now, with the ocean on one side of me and incredible mountains on the other. It is full of lovely, kind, funny people and everywhere you go is stunning scenery, amazing sights and a rich culture. I have also been lucky enough to travel around incredible parts of the world, and have seen so many places that have enriched my life – and I know I will visit many more (if my bank account allows my wandering heart to be free!).

Lately I have had a fair few bad days for a number of reasons, be it health, mental state, worries about things far away and close by, and I think I was going through the motions of what I needed to do for work and to live. But I had almost forgotten that I have been given an opportunity to do a job I love, in a new and exciting place that has so much to offer and so many things for me to see. Then something clicked the other day for me, and the black cloud that had been around me suddenly lifted. I realised that some of my stresses were beyond my control, that I needed to go back to the relaxed person I have become in the last 6 months: trying not to worry about things and letting things come and go as and when they need to. As soon as I remembered this, my whole outlook has shifted again and I’m going back to the person I know I am and the person I love to be.

I went on a trip into the mountains with some lovely ladies for just a couple of hours on the day I had the wake-up call, and as we were driving I looked out at the incredible landscape and realised I had shut myself off from what was around me. So I stared out the window for a long time, taking in the mountains and then the ocean as we rounded a corner on the way back into the village I live in. I was struck by how lucky I was to be here, to live next to the ocean that keeps me calm and happy, and surrounded by nature and a simple life.

So I’m going to keep remembering this, being grateful and happy and knowing that whatever comes and goes in my life does so for a reason and I shouldn’t try to control it. Instead, I’m going to let my explorer nature be free, and I’m going to continue to be the inquisitive, open-hearted, wandering yogi I want to be.

The root of yoga

Now that I have experienced the yogic lifestyle in India, and have delved into the philosophy, food and attitude surrounding yoga, I find it interesting how different parts of the world view yoga as a whole.

In western society, yoga is often more focused on the physical aspects. It is seen, for the most part, about fitness and flexibility. People go to a class, do a ton of asanas, try and improve their fitness/strength/flexibility, and then leave and go back to their lives. In some cases it is viewed the same way as a spinning or body pump class. This isn’t to say that it is always like this, but this is the experience I’ve generally had. There is also sometimes an air of competition in yoga classes – who can do the best headstand, who has the deepest down dog, who has the coolest clothes to practice in.

In India, yoga is about so much more. It is a way of life – it involves meditation, pranayama, food, lifestyle choice, attitudes, philosophy. It takes over, it is all-encompassing and it moulds you far beyond the still important asana practice. Yoga in India has an equal balance of everything, and there is no judgement or competition. Instead, it teaches you to focus on yourself and be kind to yourself, and to others. It promotes joy and friendship, and the whole community is warm and welcoming.

It is these parallels that I find fascinating. While the western one I’ve described is extreme and something I’ve only experienced in very small pockets, I do think the differences are so interesting. I used to be more along the western route, but I know now it’s so much more than that. I love that I can combine it all in my new lifestyle, and I feel grateful I’ve learnt about it all in the spiritual home of yoga. And I hope that western places follow suit and start to uncover the wonders of all aspects of yoga.

New beginnings

FullSizeRender (1)Last weekend, I got to see my beautiful sister get married. For her, it signalled a new beginning – one I’m so excited to see her face. New beginnings for me at the moment are a little different, but just as exciting. I have been through an amazing journey this year so far, and it’s now time to take that journey further and move on from my current way of life. So my new beginning involves a complete change of scenery, or vocation, and of lifestyle. And I cannot wait.

At heart, I know I am a bit of a nomad. I love my home and my family and friends, but I love experiencing new places and new cultures and meeting new people. Being in India for a month has shown me that places outside of the UK can feel like home. One day I will go back to India, and I know I will feel completely at ease there, because it is like a second home. A few other places have felt that way for me, so I’ve decided to try one of them out! So soon I will be off to try my hand at making my photography my job, alongside my marketing and my yoga. In all, it’s a pretty awesome opportunity – one I’d be crazy to pass up.

Yoga has become such a big part of my life, and doing my teacher training reaffirmed to me that I want to keep it in my life in a big way. And my current situation just won’t allow that. I’m excited to be able to practice for as long as I want each day, to begin teaching my knowledge and experience to others, and to immerse myself in that world.

I spoke to an inspiring person recently who told me to ‘trust the process’. To go with opportunities and what feels right, and have faith that everything will work out and things will go the way they are meant to. And I totally believe in that. Recently, as I’ve opened myself up to not controlling everything and opened my heart up to things, the process has taken me down a path that feels completely right. New opportunities keep arising and people keep coming into my life that make me know what I’m doing is right for me, and are showing me that the decisions I’m making will serve me well.

So I’m trusting in this process. I’m letting myself be guided, I’m taking a leap and I’m trying something different, something I’ve wanted to do for so long but not had the courage to do. And I’m taking with me so many memories and wonderful friendships, and knowing I will make many more. I think no matter what the new beginning is, it can bring you so many opportunities and so much joy if you let it.

Looking forward

After another mini-break surfing in Morocco this weekend, I have had more time to reflect on things. On how I am, my attitude to live and changes, and to myself. Surfing is a great thing to do, for a number of reasons. Of course, it’s great exercise and it goes hand in hand with yoga. It also gives you the chance to relax in one of the most serene environments I can think of. Floating on your board out at sea is so calming, and opens you up to nature.

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Learning to surf is also teaching me to look forward. As a person, I look down at my feet a lot when I walk, and on a less physical level, I often forget to look forward to the next step. But in surfing, you have to look forward. If you look down, you’ll fall off. You look forward, you turn your gaze the way you want to go, and your body and board follow. This philosophy is a great one to have and to keep in mind through all you do. It is something I will keep taking with me as I take the next step, and the next one!

The other thing that my two breaks have taught me (especially this last one) is to keep trying. I got frustrated that I couldn’t get my technique right a few times and I felt like I wasn’t progressing. But a couple of people told me to keep trying, to not give up, to keep going again and again until I got it. And one time, it just clicked! And even though I didn’t get it right each time after that, I was slowly improving. I know that I won’t always get it right as the conditions are always different – such is the same in normal life. But you have to keep trying, keep going. It will come. And it will be so worth it.

Create yourself through experiences

IMG_8822Experiences shape you. Travel shapes you. New people, new places, new activities shape you. As humans, we should always be discovering new things, big or small, so that we can constantly develop our understanding of who we are and what we like. Some of it will change us – change is good. It shows that we are growing and learning. We are becoming the best version of ourselves, for ourselves.

In the past 5 years, I have had a lot of new experiences and travelled to a lot of places. I know I’m lucky for that. These experiences have helped shape who I am. They’ve given me new perspective and a chance to see different cultures and ways of life. It has meant I’ve been able to gain perspective on my own life, what I’m doing and ultimately what I want. Some of them have been hard, some of them haven’t worked out like I’d hoped. Some have given me way more than I thought they ever would. Some have taken me in a different direction than the one I expected. But all of them have helped me in some way, made me who I am, and I regret none of them.

I don’t think you necessarily have to travel to gain new experiences, but I do think trying new things is an important part of growth and change. It allows us to see our likes and dislikes, to discover things about ourselves we didn’t know before, and to get to know the lives of people we might never otherwise meet. Trying new things, seeing new places, doing something out of your ordinary, shapes you. Big or small, new experiences allow us to develop.

Everyone should be allowed to try new things, no matter what that is. I will continue to challenge myself and push myself into new experiences, because I know that is how I can test myself. You can too, if you want to. Even if the new thing seems tiny or insignificant, do it anyway. Because you never know, it could change your perspective.

Finding your groove

thumb_IMG_8767_1024I have spent the last week surfing and doing yoga in Taghazout in Morocco – one of the most chilled out and friendly places I’ve ever been. Before I left the UK, I was pretty stressed and agitated. A lot of stuff has contributed to that, and I was trying to plan my next steps in life and generally not really sure what I was doing.

While I was away, something clicked. I fully relaxed for the first time in a VERY long time, I had fun, I met some great people and I saw that you can be very happy in your life without the stress that so many of us have, and without needing a lot of money. Surfing was a new experience for me, and the philosophy for beginners that you need to tell yourself you can do it so that you can is a great thing to take into life. If you tell yourself surfing is hard or that you can’t do it, the mental block that puts on you will mean you can’t.

I was told that all you need to do is ‘find your groove’ – in relation to surfing – but I think it’s true in the wider sense of finding out what is right for you in life. It isn’t necessarily what everyone else thinks is right for you, or what society deems to be right for you, and it might not even be what you think is meant to be right for you. I know for me, everything I’ve been thinking about and planning recently for my future is what I thought I ought to be doing at my age/in my situation, but that doesn’t mean it is what I need to do for me. In fact, it probably isn’t what I need at all.

My break came at a time when I desperately needed it. I needed to gain some perspective, to have time to stop and think, to meet new and interesting people with different takes on life. It has helped me decide what I don’t want, and realise that I don’t need to do something because I think I should. I just need to take care of myself and do what makes me happy and excited. So although lots of plans are now floating around in my head and I’m still not entirely sure what I’ll do, I have clarity on a number of things and I know what is and isn’t right for me. Slowly, I think I’m finding my groove.

Gluten-free gem in Budapest

image2It can often be hard to find gluten-free food options for dining out (that aren’t a plain salad or some fruit) in the UK, let alone in a foreign country. So I was utterly surprised and wowed when we visited Drop Gluten Free Style restaurant during a trip to Budapest. The website boasted a gluten-free dining experience and showed pictures of sophisticated food and relaxed decor – TripAdvisor was full of reviews backing it up with high praise.

Slightly unsure of what to expect, I stepped foot into the restaurant and immediately felt at ease with the soft lighting, wooden tables and tastefully decorated restaurant, coupled with good music that suited the mood. The staff were friendly from the outset, without being overbearing. The menu was more than 3 options (!) and we were overwhelmed by the choice. Wanting to try a bit of everything, our group of 5 opted for two types of burgers (complete with buns – a rare novelty for gluten-free eaters), a stuffed chicken with rice, gnocchi, and a breaded chicken fillet. Still apprehensive, we enjoyed a good bottle of prosecco while we waited for the food to arrive.

Amazed doesn’t cover how we felt when the beautifully presented food arrived. We were astounded as we all took bites out of our delicious food, and marvelled at the fact that there was no gluten in any dish. My plate was the breaded chicken, and I can honestly say it is one of the best breaded chicken dishes I’ve ever had, and I’ve had my fair amount! Every meal tasted exquisite, and I was incredibly happy that we’d dined there.

We also thought we’d try one of each of the 4 desserts on offer. Two of them had quite a strong smell of liquor so I only had small bites, but I can say that the chocolate mousse was very tasty indeed. And from what I had, the others were pretty good too.

It was a brilliant evening in a lovely restaurant, with incredible food. I will definitely be going back there when I return to Budapest – which I will.