An Artist’s Intimacy

“Can I read your book now?” No

“So when can I read your book then?” When it’s finished and published!

This is a post to educate people who may not realise how intimate these questions are. I get asked this every time I say that I’m writing a book. Quite frankly, it’s rude! I don’t mind if another writer asks to read my book to sincerely offer their editing/proofreading skills, but to ask to read a book before it’s finished and for no other reason than selfish curiousity is quite rude. Would you ask someone if you could sniff their dirty underwear? I thought not! Consider it the same level of grotesqueness when asking someone who is working on a story, a painting, a script, a song, a film or any other creative project they are developing and nurturing from their heart, if you can see it before they are finsihed. If they want you to see it, they will ask!

Why is it rude you ask? Firstly, to create something that comes from the heart and/or from the deepest parts of our soul makes us vulnerable. When I first started writing the book, tons of memories, good and bad flooded into the forefront and I wrote whatever was whizzing through my mind. That draft is long gone, the very personal and intimate details that gave me a much needed cathartic experience have been deleted into the ether, never to be read by anyone. I had people ask me to read it at that point, “Hell no!!” was my answer. I was at my most vulnerable and some of the sentences were beautifully structured, coming from my heart, others were raw with pure emotion revealing my ugliest self. It would’ve been like reading my diary. I decide who gets to read that information. Do you ask your friends to read their diary?

Secondly, as I mentioned before, developing a creative project exposes vulnerability. The amount of self doubt I fight off on a daily basis is exhausting. I occasionally go to a writer’s group here in Nicaragua and on two occassions, I read three or four paragraphs of what I have written. Last week I read out the first page of the book and as soon as I finsihed it, said, “Sorry, that’s really shit. It was way worse before I edited it. I clearly still have a lot to work to.” I may have been imagining the disappointment in their faces, but it doesn’t matter because I felt too exposed. The self-doubt told me I was an impostor for trying to create this story with the intention that one day other people will read it. The other writers reassured me we are our own worse critic and that it was a good beginning. The self-doubt repeated, “They’re liars,” over and over again while they gave me constructive and positive feedback. I feel ok being vulnerable with them because they also write and are creators and they have the same processes I do. To expose my vulnerability to outsiders is something I have to work up to. I will be submitting proposals to literary agents, that will be soul destroying enough, I don’t need lay people telling me that it’s shit or that I should change things.

The moral of the story is that every single human on this Earth has the ability to be creative. We all do. It’s just that very few of us are able to tap into it for one reason or another. So all I ask of you is to please, step back and think before you ask to read or look at someone’s creative project. When they are ready, they will reveal. Before they are ready, they are most likely fighting a battle inside their heads that is challenging enough to deal with. Just let that process flow and when we’re ready, we’ll walk down the streets advertising our work.

If you don’t want to sniff my dirty underwear (especially now that I’m in a very hot Nicaragua), please don’t ask to read my book until it’s published. Better yet, if you really want to support me, instead of asking for a free copy, please buy it. Just like all artists, I’m putting all of my blood, sweat tears, ugly parts, beautiful parts and vulnerable parts out for the world to see, the least any creator can ask is to be appreciated.

Mother nature’s striptease

On the new moon, I went to a beautiful place on a neighbouring hill. There was a new moon meditation guided by a French Canadian woman who has not long returned to the area to escape the Canadian winter. It’s called Todo Bien and All Good is what it was. The three of us sat on a circular wooden deck overlooking the jungle and sea below. The sun set 20 minutes into our meditation, so the meditation started with a beautiful reflection off the water as Ms Sunshine got ready to dip in for the night. I felt like a guest in a beautiful jungle kingdom. We were at the top of the trees, so although there were some surrounding the space, when we laid down, we had a full view of the blue sky above us. The meditation guide’s voice was soft, soothing and calming. The sounds of the howler monkeys in the distance, the birds near and far and the protective barks of her dog was our playlist. The meditation focused on being present within our bodies. I noticed mine was a bit restless, but mostly to the distractions of nature and the peaceful silence that was engulfing me.

I kept my eyes open to watch the sun dive down into the sea. It’s been my habit to offer gratitude at every sunset and old habits die hard, so my mind wandered off topic for a bit. I came back to the sound of Sophie’s voice and allowed it to take me back into my body. After the sun disappeared for the evening, I laid down on my back. My eyes popped back open with anticipation because I was afraid I would miss out on the beauty of the “after sunset.” I’ve been following Michael Singer, who says that we should we look at each activity with a child’s eyes, as if we hadn’t seen it before. This I was certainly doing.

As my eyes opened, I saw the twinkle of the first star in my vision. It was like a feather boa tickling me, enticing me to carry on watching the show. My eyes wandered off in excitement to be the first to discover the stars making their dull appearance in a still blue, but darker blue sky. I was so grateful to have that space, that view and to be privy to the intimate show of mother nature undressing for the evening. Most of the time when I’m on the open sea, I try to be awake for dawn and dusk. I find it such a magical time and here I was enjoying it on top of a mountain, perhaps for the first time. It sure felt like it was the first time.

She plays a beautiful game. At first she only offers a few dull twinkles, little teases in the sky for what’s to come next. Then as the sun gets lower, more and more dull twinkles appear and my mind starts playing tricks. Have they just appeared or have they been there and I only just noticed? Of course they are always there, it’s just when she takes away the light that you can see them. Sophie instructs us to sit back up and when I do, I keep my eyes open and see the beautiful dusk colours. Orange, yellow, red, purple all enmeshed into one. I look up and see the stars. This is why it’s so magical. She’s revealing both sides of herself, a tease of both the day and night. It’s like when a woman wearing sexy lingerie begins to disrobe for her lover. She is elegant, sexy and still hiding her most intimate bits. The orange, yellow, red and purples became more intense and a dark blue joined the party.

I continue watching the sky as I am guided by Sophie’s voice and words and the magical “OM’s” the three of us say in a beautiful energetically connected tone. The twinkles become brighter, familiar constellations become visible and I feel so at one with everything and everyone that is in that space. A smile appears on my face and I am brought back to night watches on the sea. I re-focus my attention to the present as here too, the energy is beautiful and pure.

The meditation ends and we sit in a comfortable balance between silence and chatting. We all look at the sky with wonder and gratitude. Mother Nature has fully disrobed now, only the twinkle of her nipple tassels keeping her modesty. She is showing her sexy and intimate parts in the most romantic way. I was privileged enough to watch the whole elegant and classy burlesque routine. I have been fortunate enough to see this show countless times on the open sea, in various countries and on numerous beaches. Each show leaves me feeling incredibly humble, incredibly human and incredibly welcoming and accepting of Mother Nature and all of us in it. Mother Nature certainly wins the award for the most magical, elegant and classy burlesque show of all time.

The Butterfly Path

2014 Admiring butterflies in Mexico

As is standard in this part of the world, the wifi had gone down and I was supposed to meet a friend. I saw one of my neighbour’s outside, so I went over to ask him if his wifi was down. He said, “Yep, it sure is, along with the other house.” All of the sudden my phone started pinging. “Oh! It’s back up,” I said, ” You’re magic. I just had to ask you and it started working.” We both laughed and had the usual introduction chit chat.

We started talking about the local beach and he told me another path to get there. “There are butterflies and so many trees and it’s just really beautiful and tranquilo.” He had me at butterflies. They are one of my favourite things in nature. I find them fascinating, so elegant and so delicate.

The next day I went down the path and it was surreal! With every step I took, the butterflies flew out with curiosity and surrounded me. They were all different colours and sizes and all so, so beautiful. My eyes focused on each butterfly, soaking in their individual beauty. I gasped. I spotted my all time favourite butterfly. I first saw them when I was anchored in a jungle town in Panama. I couldn’t believe it! The memories of the hikes I did with Captain Cool and all of the ups and downs of those times flooded in front of me. I paused, my face softened and I breathed deeply. This is EXACTLY where I’m supposed to be right now. CC and I saw these gorgeous large purple-blue butterflies all along the path of our daily hike in Portobello bay. I used to stop and wait for them to stop flying so that I could see their wings and take a photo. Of course they rarely did and when they eventually landed, they would close their wings and hide their inner beauty. I never got a photo, but the image of them has popped up in my head whenever I’ve seen a butterfly since.

A boat butterfly from my Panama/Colombia days

And now they are here. It’s a sign. I told Captain Cool I saw those butterflies here and he said, “Wow, that’s a sign that you are in the right place.” I wasn’t the only one who thought that.

Today I walked along the same path. One of the neighbour’s dogs has adopted me, so as I started on the path, he ran ahead of me and scared off most of the butterflies before I had a chance to be surrounded by their magic. It didn’t matter, there were still quite a few flying around. My gaze was diverted to a large movement of a tree branch. I looked up to see a family of howler monkeys in the trees. “I mean, was this for real?” I thought to myself. It was magical. There was even a baby and mum monkey and they were both looking at me. I felt so connected to nature, to the ground, to my environment and to myself. It felt so comforting and so real. The dog came back to find out why I had stopped. He looked up where I was looking and started to bark. The monkeys started to howl and I opened my mouth in a howl of laughter. Another memory of Portobello popped up… I walked further along down the hill, turned around and looked up. I had a panoramic view of the monkeys. I raised my arms up, smiled and gave myself a hug. “Thank you, thank you, thank you!” I shouted out loud to the universe. With a grin from ear to ear, I carried on the path to the beach, saying my usual “Buenos dias,” to the guy in the surf shack. At the beach, I stripped down to my suit and did my daily ritual of wave jumping. This time with much more energy and zest for life.

A howler monkey

Seeing butterflies is a symbolism of change, transformation, renewal and rebirth. This is what CC meant when he said, “you’re exactly where you need to be.” He was a large part of my previous change and transformation and now nearly six years later, it’s time for another one. I have been in a cocoon for quite some time and I’m preparing to emerge as a butterfly. I promise that I will fly and show you the beauty of my inner wings.

Breathing deeply

Ometepe as seen six years ago

As the plane glided closer to the runway, I could see “Nicaragua” written in white flowers. I breathed in the bright colours of the houses, roof tops and rides of the amusement park. Hold on, I breathed. Deeply. A wave of relief and calm surged through my body. The sensation was so overwhelmingly strong, that I started crying. I made it. I’m here! Two months of planning, organising, stressing and overcoming obstacles which made it very difficult to get here, and I was finally here. I knew there would be a taxi waiting for me with my name on a sign and I knew that he would take me to a house that was clean and organised, and most importantly ALL MINE.

Luis is waiting with a big smile for me and I return his grin, so happy and so relieved. I’m almost there. The taxi ride is 2.5 hours away and as we leave the airport, I soak in familiar sights. I was last here six years ago and it was one of my favourite countries along my travels. The people are helpful, genuine and have some of the most sincere smiles I have ever come across. Happy memories flooded back about the people I met, the dancing I did, oh the dancing I did! It’s where I learned how to dance properly and I practiced every night. I was in love with life! I breathed in the piles of rubbish being burned and the tropical air. I closed my eyes, I was breathing. Deeply. I smiled.

Dancing the night away six years ago

We approach my new home and I was in awe of how beautiful the lit up grounds were. I was expecting something a bit basic and run down. I get out of the car and as I’m searching for money to pay the driver, the caretaker and Luis take my bags from the boot of the car and deliver them inside. I stand back and smile. Ahhh…a country where I don’t have to lift a finger if I don’t want to. Yes, this is what I need right now. I step inside and my jaw drops. I was not planning on living in luxury and I certainly didn’t pay a luxury price. I fall in love with the place. It is beautifully and carefully built with good quality and love. It’s much bigger than I expected and my terrace/living room is just perfect. Luis and the caretaker made sure I was alright and left. I stood in MY place and breathed. Deeply. I listened to the new sounds and could hear the ocean crashing on the shore. The third body of water I had been to in the last month. I was going to be at this one for a while. I breathed even deeper.

View from my new home

Around five in the morning, I woke up to the strangest sound. I sat up in bed and then fell back laughing. Howler monkeys! I had completely forgotten. They have the loudest howl for such a tiny creature. I spent half an hour trying to record them so I could send it to my friends and family. I was too excited to fall back asleep. When dawn started to break, I went to the terrace and looked out over the sea. I had to pinch myself. I breathed in. Deeply. I smiled. I realised I was still breathing deeply 12 hours later.

I suffered a trauma just over three years ago. It doesn’t matter what it was and I’m not sure I will ever share it publicly. It changed me immensely and not for the better. I had stopped breathing. After making one too many stupid choices which had damaging consequences, I was suddenly smacked in the face with a realisation I had been denying for quite some time. I’m actually not ok. I didn’t survive it unscathed and most terrifyingly, I loathe the person I’ve become since then. The longer I avoid dealing with it, the less I know who I am. The amount of times I looked in the mirror and with shame said, “Who are you and what are you doing?” was one too many.

Six years ago when a friend and I hitched a ride. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship that lasts to the present.

I am here to sit with the pain of the trauma and the consequences of my actions subsequently. If I keep running away from the pain, I will never make better choices and be happy. I am here to learn how to breathe again. I am here to rediscover myself because I miss her so much it hurts. I am not interested in socialising or surfing or travelling or working. I am here to do what I NEED to do to heal. There is no one here to invade my space or zap my energy. I get to close the door behind me and lock it. I get to turn off my phone and shut out the world. I get to heal. For the first time since it happened, I have my own space and the time to heal. I am tired of hurting myself, I’m tired of hurting others, I’m tired of being unhappy and I’m just tired of being tired and empty. I am here to claim my space back in the world, because for too long I have been sharing it with people who took over my space without asking. Breath is such an important element in healing both emotionally and physically. I know I’m on the right path because I have been breathing deeply for the last four days. Finally. It feels so good. Ahhhh……

Note: I am intending to write my blog more regularly as writing has been therapeutic to me from a young age. I make no promises about how often or what the content will be. I just feel ready to share my journey in whatever form that takes. Thank you for taking the time to read it and any and all comments are always welcome.

Daily gorgeous sunsets included.

Nica life

Granada, Nicaragua

For those of you who have been following me for a while, you’ll know that six years I gave up everything in search of a life I wanted instead of one that society imposed on me. My journey started in Mexico on the 2nd of October 2014 and I instantly fell in love with the Latino culture. The further south I went, the more connected I felt to the people, culture and land. I stayed in Colombia/Panama on a sailboat for nearly two years and since leaving there, have felt like a piece of me was missing. I’ve only been here five days, but I feel whole already.

The famous question, “What’s it like there?” People are even more curious now as the pandemic has forced people to be homebound and forced to live life vicariously. I have chosen to be one you can live life through.

The climate: Perfect! I’m on the Pacific coast and the temperature is amazing. I even get chilly at night when it is cloudy and windy. It is a dry heat, around 82F/31C, very sunny and a beautiful offshore wind. I’m in jungle territory, so there is lots of green as the rainy season has just ended.

The land: Beautiful and mostly untouched. There are quite a few surf camps and upmarket hotels dotted around the hills, but they are hidden within the trees, so it feels very isolated. The beach is surreal. There are massive rocks just offshore that make for a rugged and unspoiled coast line. There are three beach shacks that add character and provide nourishment for the hoards of surfers. The majority are locals as tourism has died here. They are out of work, so are using the time to perfect their surfing techniques and tans.

The food: Local, organic and arrives to my little palace in food trucks twice a week! It’s amazing, I only have to walk out of my house and there is a wide range of fruits, vegetables, eggs and chicken at my doorstop. Yes, the chickens are already dead and plucked 😉 The fruit and veg are seasonal, so I know that I’m getting produce from not only the country, but the area I’m in. I haven’t found the fishermen yet, but when I do, yum! Rice and beans are their staple diet and actually, I like it too!

The sounds: I’m happily awoken by howler monkeys at 5 am, unless the wind is blowing in the opposite direction. The bird songs are plentiful and varied. There are crickets at night and when it rains on my tin roof, I feel comforted and at home. A similar feeling to being tucked up in front of the fireplace on a cold evening. When it’s high tide, I hear the waves crashing along the rocky shore. Sometimes it’s really loud and I fall asleep to it. I fall asleep very early as the sun sets around 5.30 and I don’t want to socialise.

My neighbourhood: It consists of three houses, mostly with foreigners, but they are social during the day and quiet in the evening. I enjoy sitting back listening to them converse while I hide in my tower. I will join when I’m ready. I am up on a hill, although it feels like Mt Everest when I’m walking back from the beach. I will get stronger! The beach is a 10 minute walk away down a bumpy, holey dirt road. I love it. I love being so disconnected and away from it all. I don’t watch the news, so I live happily in this bubble.

My neighbourhood. Houses hidden by trees!

The service: The machoism in Latin America is second to none! I walk around being eyed up as an object. I don’t mind as long as they keep their distance and remain respectful, which has been my experience thus far. I haven’t carried a bag, if I have a problem in the house, Adonay is there in 2 minutes with a smile to sort it out. I even have Rosa, the cleaning lady once a week, who is beautiful and full of energy. She probably doesn’t like that I’m home, but I enjoy having a chat with her about our lives. It feels very luxurious to have a cleaner and I was uncomfortable by it until I realised it’s their income and the locals are being supported. After all, I’ve been cleaning boats for the last four years, I think I deserve to have a little break! Win win for all.

I am grateful for this space, this culture and this beauty. I’m grateful that my journey has brought me here to a beautiful place that oozes an environment where recharging and rediscovery can occur. It’s basic, it’s considered a third world country and I am without many of the luxurious foods of olive oil at a reasonable price, non-alcoholic beer and cheese, but I have more than I ever could have asked for. After all, those are just things that can easily be given or taken. I am more than happy to enjoy life with exactly what’s in front of me and nothing more.

Meeting my future self

I sat on the beach yesterday talking to my future self. It was a beautiful calm sunny morning, so I was determined to overcome this cold water and get back to my mermaid roots. I wrestled into my wetsuit and got an extra spring in my step when I saw how calm and beautiful the water was.

I swam far out from the beach and did as many laps as I could before I stopped feeling my hands. I shivered my way over the rocky sand toward my spot on the beach. I noticed a woman I regulary see on the beach lying out towels near my lonely bag. She was one of those daily non-wearing wetsuit warriors who swim every day of the year. I smiled at her and she commented about how beautiful the weather was. Her sun kissed group were just arriving for their daily meet up and a very smiley and happy woman came up to her. She looked over and greeted me too. “What a gorgeous day!”

This woman sat closest to me (within social distancing measures I assure you!) and she asked me how my dip was. I said it was still cold and I was just warming up. She mentioned that she swims every day without a wetsuit. To be quite frank, I was honoured that she was speaking to a meagre wet suit wearer such as myself! I watched her expertly unpack her bag and set up her base. “It’s kind of like I’m setting up camp, isn’t it? While you’re all zen over there!” she laughed. “Yes, it is. I’m a bit envious as my plan was to swim and go home, but it’s so lovely here I don’t want to and now I’m unprepared!” I replied.

We started off with general chit chat and then offered more about each other as we realised that we had a lot in common. Within minutes, I realised that she is the future me. I estimate she’s about 10 years older than me, although I’m unsure because she has great skin and less wrinkles than me! She too has been a wanderer (still is), she too is interested in the healing world, she too is looking to publish a book – except hers was written years ago and she hasn’t yet sought to get it published. She too is struggling to let go of a man.

There were moments of silence when we were looking at the sea, or she had a chat with her other non-wetsuit wearing friends. I sat looking off into the sea and thought, “Yep, I could totally be her in 10 years. Pining over a man I know isn’t right for me, yet can’t let go of and ready to publish my book. Still not having a career, living frugally and having the constant worry of how to make ends meet.” It gave me hope. I loved her energy, I loved that I found a mentor if you like, proof that people can be happy in their 40’s and 50’s single and without a career, their own house or stability.

I shared that I too was having a hard time letting go of someone and could go a week without speaking to him, but would then find some excuse to call him because after all, I still care deeply for him. Let’s face it, this is the weirdest time in any of our lives. I can’t do the things I would normally do after a break up. Some of that is good, but it’s just incredibly challenging not getting hugs from friends and immersing myself in social events. “I always have a hard time letting go of partners,” I shared. “Maybe I should just embrace that fact instead of fighting it and beating myself up about it. When we start to embrace things, generally we are able to let them go.” Her gaze wandered off to the sea and she shook her head, “Yeah, I like that. I should embrace it as well. Things do come easier when we stop fighting.” The reality is that I’ve been blessed with many partners coming into my life who I’ve wanted to hold on to. I should be grateful for that instead of focusing on how weak or lovesick or whatever judgmental term myself or others want to place on it.

I hope I’m like her in 10 years because she had some fascinating stories to tell and we were only chatting for just over an hour. She has a beautiful spirit and has clearly made a lot of people in the world so happy. It doesn’t matter what she has or where she’s going, I don’t think she knows and I certainly don’t know where I’m going. All that matters is that she seemed relatively happy and touched many people’s lives in the process. That’s how I want to be in 10 years.

It was wonderful to get a glimpse of my future self. The day before I had a bit of a self-worth crisis and wasn’t feeling too confident. I guess the universe knew that I needed to meet her today to keep my head up. I like my future self, a lot. And if my future self isn’t like her, well that’s ok too. I’m sure she’ll still be ok… and not ok 😉

The observer

I’ve been immersing myself in my meditation practice during lockdown as it’s a perfect opportunity to get into the habit. One of the reasons why I fell in love with the Tibetan Buddhist style of meditation, is because it’s analytical. My brain is always spinning, so giving the spin some direction is really helpful for me.

I was feeling a bit sad today as a friend I had been spending a lot of time with, left England today. We saw each other three or four times a week, I got really lovely hugs and we sat within two meters of each other. We could sit in silence and we could have chats about random things. It was nice to have some company after a while on my own. I decided to observe the sadness instead of drown in it or push it away with some meaningless task.
I went out for a walk through a beautiful and quiet residential area, down the infamous Jacob’s ladder (and I ran up them once to warm up and feel as though I’ve gotten a bit of exercise!) and through the main streets of Falmouth. This is the walk I do when I want to be around people, even though of course they move away from me as if I was some leper. Don’t get me wrong, I understand why this is happening and I do it myself, but it doesn’t take away the fact that it’s still just a weird world right now.

I could sense my head start to spin, so I told myself I was going to have a present focus on the walk, smells. There’s been some lovely smells on my walks and normally I’m too busy in my head or have to pee too badly, in order to stop and see what flower/plant it is. Through the quiet residential area, there’s a tree lined street. As I was listening to the wind swaying through the trees, I closed my eyes for a moment and breathed in to see what I could smell. Something sweet, but as there were only tall trees above me, I couldn’t find the source.

I walked through the town and could smell the various take aways, pasties, coffee, greasy food and sweet fried smells. I walked past the marina and as I breathed in deeply, I smelled it. The smell that always takes me away from my mind, but only long enough to think, “Oh god that smells so good,” before the crazy monkey in my mind brings me back to the chaos in my head. I stopped on the road and looked. I smelled the flowers closest to me and breathed in and smiled. Oh they were so lovely! I’m hopeless at identifying flowers and as I walked slowly down the row of this bush, I suddenly realised what they were. Roses. My absolute favourite flower. I hadn’t recognised them because they were so open, they no longer took the typical shape of a rose, and the smell of a wild English rose is different to the roses at the florist. I didn’t care who was watching or what I looked like, for those 40 meters I smelled as many of the roses as I could. And then again when I reached a house further along who had the same bushes climbing over their wall.

As I got to the coastal path, I felt so calm, so present. I brought my mind to how I was feeling right now and I no longer sensed the sadness. I was thinking about the loss of this friend and the time we had together and directly went into an analytical meditation on attachment. Now yes, I did get distracted from the focus of the walk (smells), but this was the point. I didn’t want to think about this situation with a distracted and emotional mind. I wanted to explore it as an observer. The focus on smells was an exercise to calm and open my mind and it worked!

I had many interesting observations. I’ve known for years that I become very attached to people and quickly. This often ends in disappointment because attachment is about grasping too hard and setting expectations. The person we become attached to will inevitably change and it may not be in a way that we expected or like. I realised I didn’t become attached to this friend. The friend is a male and good looking and someone in the past I thought, “Hmmm…maybe?” This time I approached it as lockdown company. Someone to enjoy time with and feel connected to the human race. I had in my mind from the start that we would spend a small amount of time together and then one or both of us would leave and I would once again be alone. Perhaps it was this mind frame that allowed me to remain un-attached (different to detached).

I observed how he was detached from me. In our conversations, we both communicated that we had recently come out of relationships and were in no way interested to start a new relationship. I observed my ego becoming upset about the fact he only once told me I was “a hottie,” via text, not even in person. I observed how my ego got jealous when he talked about the beautiful figure of a woman on a neighbouring boat. “He never told me that, ” it said. I simply observed and threw back, “Why do I have to be the only beautiful woman. Or even A beautiful woman?” The ego was shocked and stunned. I felt the jealousy deteriorate. Oh the ego never gives up, it then reminded me of a recent conversation I had with an ex, who was telling me a story about a “cute girl in a g-string bikini on the beach.” The ego shouted “Oh how dare he say that!” I again observed the ego and shot it down with, “He always told me I was beautiful. We also talked about other girls being beautiful when we were together, so why do I need to be the only one? I never needed to be at the time.” I realised that it’s because I’m feeling vulnerable right now and that will change. The jealousy washed away into the sea I was walking along, and the ego gave up.

I observed how I have an urge to run away from Falmouth. I’ve been here six weeks now and I am not accustomed to being stagnant for so long. It’s obviously not very easy to travel at the moment, so I observed why I have this sudden urge to leave. I observed that perhaps I need to stay and find out.

I smiled at the improvement in my mind. I rejoiced in the fact that my mind was able to shoot the ego down without me going into this destructive pattern of negative thinking that I trained myself to do from a young age.
I did it. I proved this method of meditation works. I proved it to myself as there’s no one else I need to prove it to. It’s for each individual to decide whether it works for them or not and it’s for each individual to take their own path to reach their goal. I’ve reached mine and I know some days I will slip and that’s ok. The key to this is to never give up. After two years of practicing and two years of being gentle and kind and understanding to myself, I made it. Now that I know I have the ability to do it, it will be easier to do this most of the time. And the times I don’t do it and become a crying mess on the floor? Well, that’s ok too.

Married to the sea

Here’s another oldie but goodie I found in the draft section! Back when I was young, fit and living the good life! Here we go back in time to April 2016…

After announcing my departure from the Caribbean and Captain Cool, many people asked me, what about CC? Is he coming? Won’t you miss him? Are you going back? My answer is that I am married to the sea and all I know is that there is a lot more of the sea I haven’t seen!

My relationship history has given me a non traditional perspective on relationships. I’m sure my psychology friends would have a field day analysing it and would probably conclude I have a fear of commitment or have yet to get over previous relationships. Fair enough, those are perspectives. I don’t believe any one perspective is right.

Here is my perspective. I have had amazing boyfriends. They are all great people who treated me well. If they didn’t, I left. That happened one time. You can say my heart has been broken a lot. It has many scars that have healed and made my heart bigger and tougher, so that I can love again.

I still have some scarring to do over the most recent ex-relationship with an amazing guy I would still call the love of my life. It was a dramatic and tough break up and as I was travelling, dealt with it all on my own. However, it was the right thing. I wouldn’t be crossing the Atlantic right now if we were still together. Hell, I would still be in London trying to fight to keep my inner peace!! I won’t speak for his life, but I like to think the end was right for both of us.

Then I got to thinking, wow, I would still be in London and missing out on all these incredible adventures if I was still with him. Of course I would never know and I’m sure we would have had a fun life, but really, nothing compares to the sea!

I wondered how many times I did things I didn’t necessarily want to do, for a relationship. I didn’t even want to think about it, because what’s the point in thinking about negative things I can’t change. Some people do give up things and it’s because they really want the relationship or a family or maybe they don’t know what they want and most societies tell us that’s what we should have, so they do it. That’s fine. We are all different, I am just offering a different perspective.

I would love to spend the rest of my life with someone. I love being held and loved and kissed and touched in a way that only a romantic person can do. I love being in love! However I don’t believe in marriage. I was married once (albeit for visa reasons but I took it seriously!) and he cheated on me. I have had two other marriage proposals and they left me before a wedding. It’s fine, I’m not bitter and I know that at least one of them has a much better life than I ever could have offered because we weren’t right for each other. I simply believe I will have various long term relationships instead of one that lasts forever. Who knows, I may be surprised and meet my match and we are forever together, that’s fine.

The short of the long answer is, of course I will miss CC. We had a non conventional relationship from the start as we both said we weren’t going to put a label on it, it just is what it is and we are free to leave or stay as we desired. I loved that. It really suited me. I feel free. I am not talking about feeling free to shag as many men as I want. I am free to grab the best opportunity life gives me whether it’s near or far from CC. He showed me what true love is. A love that doesn’t have rules and stipulations. I am still me and free to make my own choices!

Needless to say, I am very sad to leave him. I sometimes think I feel so sad because I feel like I’m deserting him. He would love to go on this adventure, but circumstances won’t allow it. Maybe they will never allow it. Maybe we will never see each other again.

That’s ok for me because I am married to the sea and that is where my loyalty is. The sea lets me be free and opens my soul and never talks back. Sure it can treat me nasty and give me challenges, but it gives me the greatest gift in life. To see the world and life for all the good it has to offer. It gives me peace. When I have an internal battle, I turn to the sea to comfort me and it never lets me down. That is something no human being can ever do.

I am married to the sea and maybe one day I will have another threesome if the right man comes along. For now, I am grateful to have met CC and to have spent a rollercoaster of a year together. However, it is time for me to sail away and explore more of my new marriage.

The power of “Hello”

Last week, I went for a walk through the town, because otherwise I don’t really get to see many people or remember that a world exists beyond my house. For some reason I got the crazy idea to run up Jacob’s ladder (111 steep steps), not once, but twice. This fitness regime I’m doing just has me craving for more and more activity. I’m not sure that’s a healthy thing, but my bum sure is perky!!

Anyway, people looked at me weird because I was dressed for the Siberian, (yes, the weather is still cloudy, rainy and cold) and also because I had no shopping bags or items in my hand. I started to feel guilty that I was going in a public place for no reason, then thought, who cares. I’m not touching anyone. I discovered more restaurants are open for delivery or collection and then I started craving junk food. At some point in the next couple of days, I’ll be getting the famous fish and chips or maybe even a pizza!

I swear, people have started to become afraid of even saying hello now. I really fear where society is going with this pandemic. When I was in psychology, there was so much talk and upset about these teens who are addicted to their phones, well, this is something much bigger… I said hi to people, some people gave me a shocked hello back, others stared straight ahead as if I said nothing and others gave a nice smile and hello.

I spotted a homeless guy in front of a shop window, with a cigarette in his mouth and coffee in hand, wiggling his way into his sleeping bag. He caught me looking at him and I immediately looked away. Then I realised I hate when I do that because the homeless probably get that all the time and deserve as much acknowledgment as anyone else. So I said, “Hello!” with a big smile. He looked up, surprised and said, “Hello, how are you?” I thought, oh good! Someone to chat to! I replied, ” I’m alright” (I was actually grumpy) and asked how he was. He said, “Oh, so much better now that the weather has improved.” I had to stifle my giggle, as all I do is think how miserable the weather is! He settled back as if I was going to carry on walking and then I stated, “It must be miserable when the weather is horrible.” He asked me to repeat it again. Either because of my accent or because he didn’t think I would say anything beyond the niceties. Then he said, “Ahhh…darling. It’s awful. Everything is just so salty.” I had no idea what the hell that meant or where to go with it, so I replied, “I bet. Oh well, have a nice day.” He smiled and said, “You too darling.”

I’m sure I helped brighten his day and he certainly brightened mine. I also know where I can go to have a chat when I’m feeling blue and in need of social interaction! I walked away still laughing to myself that he actually thought this was good weather. The truth of it, is that it is. I grew up in Wisconsin, so I know that when it reaches 60 degrees Fahrenheit after a long cold winter, the shorts come out, no jackets are required and life is grand. Afer five years of chasing summer, when it’s 60 degrees, I’m still wearing my heavy jacket and probably a hat. It’s all about perspective.

I’ve been doing more reading of Buddhist texts and emailing my Buddhist teacher, so I broadened that contemplation out to how I’m feeling about life in general. It IS all about perspective. At some point in the future, I’ll look back and think, “oh yeah, that time I was stuck in Falmouth and went absolute bat shit crazy. Good times those were! Wish I had all that time now to take a step back from life and reset.” Funny how society is turning upside down and I think that’s the absolute best thing that has come from this. Some of the essential workers are now the very people we used to say are at the bottom of the social ladder, uneducated, unable to get a better or real job, etc and the people who, in society’s eyes, are pretty much non-existent and not even worth acknowledgment, are the people we can count on to have a nice chat with. Well, at least in England. From my world travels, the English homeless people are the most pleasant and polite!

Maybe this is what we need to remind ourselves that we are all suffering through life in our own ways. The nicest way to work through it is to treat each other with kindness and respect, regardless of our life circumstances. Go on then, go out and be kind to someone!

Breaking free from solitary confinement

I was having one of those days where I was just tired of it all and wished the world would return to it’s “normalcy.” Who am I kidding. I rarely don’t have those days. I was tired of sitting inside an apartment with nothing to do but stare out the window, stare at a screen or a book. I’m used to being out in nature, I’m used to doing physical work. So I made myself get outside and enjoy the not so sunny or warm English day. I sighed as I sat down on the chair outside my front door.

Tying my shoes, I contemplated which route to take, because even that is becoming mundane. I told myself to buck up and that every day is different, even if it is the same route, because I see different birds, people, colours, flowers, smells, etc. I decided to take a longer walk to dust off the cobwebs. This route has various options, one which I had never taken before. As I walked past that turn off, I thought to myself, “Go on, take it. It will make it seem like a new walk.” So I trudged up the hill that was much steeper than it looked from the bottom. It wasn’t a very long hill, but I’m still working up my cardio fitness, so I felt the burn in my legs and in my lungs.

I reached the top, panting and laughing at myself about how unfit I’ve become since working on boats. My strength is there, but my cardio fitness is not! I turned around to take in the view, aka catch my breath so I didn’t collapse, and was stunned with beauty. The harbour and Falmouth seemed so far away and the waves crashing onto the shore produced a beautifully imperfect and moving white line along the shoreline. Afraid I wouldn’t be able to move again if I stood too long, I went up three big old stone steps and carried on. Not too long after, I saw a sign warning me that this was a golf course and I could be hit by golf balls, especially if “Fore!” was shouted.
Considering the weather and the lockdown status, I figured I was fairly safe and continued along the narrow path. Then all of the sudden, the path opened up into a big open space, the golf course! It was set on top of a hill and rolled on for what seemed like miles. There was not a single soul in sight, not a sound of traffic, no footsteps pounding above me, no voices, just the sound of the birds chirping away and the waves pounding in the distance. My mood instantly lifted and I felt an added spring to my step. A smile started to spread across my face and in my mind, I shouted, “I’m free!!!!!! I’m all alone!! Oh what bliss!”

Then I had a little giggle to myself, because I live alone and I’m always alone and I hate always being alone. Oh the irony! I laughed off the thought and spun around in circles in the open space, with my arms spread wide and my face shining up to the bright grey clouds in the sky. I was loving life in this moment, all of the stress and upset that I had just minutes earlier, was totally washed away. It was truly a sensational moment. I walked across the golf course, admiring the views and observing the plethora of birds all around me. I soaked in the silence from the city and melted in the sounds of nature.

Of course my solitary walk had to end and I found myself on a tiny tiny narrow path almost overgrown with beautiful wildflowers. The scent of the flowers flooded my nose and I was excited to see where the path would take me next. It led me to a path I had been on previously, which is on a cliff along the seafront. I walked a bit further, then turned around and went back to my newfound secret quiet place. To my dismay, there were people walking towards me as I entered the land of bliss and was disappointed that I didn’t have the place to myself once again. If only we could sign up for a time slot to this amazing place and each person/group could have it to themselves, that would be the perfect world!

Not the tiny tiny path, but another one on the same walk!

As I threw my disappointment into the sea and soaked up my gratitude for finding such a place, I reflected on how being alone can feel so good when I’m always alone. A quote about being in prison, but still able to find freedom, came into my head. I know I have a tendency to be dramatic, but the only thing I can relate this whole lockdown situation to, is solitary confinement. Not that I, myself, have been in solitary confinement, but I have worked with many clients who have. They say it’s awful. On more than one occasion I heard a client say, “I wanted to show him a piece of my mind, but no way am I going back to solitary confinement.” Like many people in Spain, they are locked indoors for 23 hours a day and for some of those living in small apartments with no outdoor space, it was a full 24 hours. As usual, I digress. I wondered how I could find this freedom in my head that Nelson Mandela and other reformed criminals found. I’m still working on that, so unfortunately, I can’t give you any tips.

View from Kopan monastery of another monastery

I then started to reflect on how open spaces can really change our mind frame. Have you ever wondered why monasteries are built in remote places high in the mountains or on a hill? It’s because the monks believe that the teachings absorb more easily when the mind is spacious. What better way to create spaciousness in the mind, then to live in a spacious place! It certainly is true. If you have had the privilege to be on a mountain or on a countryside hill, or in the middle of the open sea, it’s likely your mind frame shifts and you feel better. It isn’t just the bit about being in nature, it’s the bit that you aren’t closed in and you don’t have a million distractions.

I had a chat with one of my friends yesterday about how I was struggling because I’m not used to being inside and being so inactive (nevermind the 3 zoom classes and long walks I do daily!). My friend wisely stated, “Maybe this is a time for you to learn how to be inactive and read a book or cook or watch movies. You’re not used to it, so it’s something different to learn.” What wise advice indeed. I’m not going to stop doing my zoom classes, but I will stop searching for more and different ones (I was doing 4-5 some days!) to do. This is a time for all of us to look inward, to discover how we can break free from the prison in our minds. Maybe it’s meditation, maybe it’s engaging more with family life, maybe it’s about reconnecting with friends and family, or maybe it’s about moving more, or in my case, moving less. Whatever it is, it is likely that we will never again have this much time. For some parents working from home and having children to home school, this is probably a great thing, but that is a different lesson to learn. For others who have been forced to stillness, take this time to be silent and to really feel all of those disturbing thoughts and feelings we usually push away. Just sit with them and learn from them, there is no need to keep burying them for they will only pop up again.

Take this time to reset and recharge. Once this chapter of history finishes, we can move onto the next one with a completely clear slate and live life to the fullest!

View from Kopan monastery, Nepal