The 365th Day

It has been an amazing journey, to say the least. If I think back to the person I was when I thought up this whole idea there are many ways in which I can say that I have changed. I remember standing in the café I was working at, around this time last year and thinking there has to be more to this life than this work and misery cycle. I thought I was saving my money to go back to Indonesia, but I never made it back to the boat where I had spent the previous two years. What happened instead was that I took the first step towards my true self and from there on was led to some of the most life-changing places, moments and people I have ever known. I remember being the kind of girl who was hiding behind her long hair, a little uncertain of her place in the world, insecure, anxious, with no conception of who she was. I had lost my sense of self in a co-dependent relationship and had stopped listening to my inner voice. I remember when I began meditating, how difficult it was to get through five minutes! I was detached from reality, unconscious of the pulsating rhythm of life. I remember being the kind of person that was surprised by spontaneous happiness. What kind of human condition has set us on course to accept infinite sadness as the norm?

I was supposed to be getting married, settling down and becoming the quiet and sedate house[boat]wife. Instead, a tiny voice inside told me to go to India and as I waited for the plane to Mexico, I booked a one-way ticket to Delhi. It was the greatest feeling, knowing I had finally made the decision to go somewhere alone, knowing that I was finally directing my own life. Even as I travelled through Mexico, I remember feeling like I was being dragged along on someone else’s trip. I wasn’t the leader on my own path until I separated from that situation, that person and from the expectation that people around me had.

That pinnacle turning point of the break-up, where I had stood in front of my fiancé and watched him cry and scream and all I could hear was that tiny voice inside telling me I was doing the right thing. To watch another human being suffer is always hard; to know that you have caused their suffering is even harder. Had I stayed, I would have withered and died. I was lost and unhappy in that situation and although there will always be good memories from that time of my life, I never once doubted my decision.

Celebrating the Hindu new-year in the Gedong Ghandi Ashram in Bali, a day of silence showed me how useless all these words had become. I had been to that ashram once before at the beginning of that relationship and then I returned there at the end, the whole experience framed in time by a sense of peace and a reminder that I could only walk this part of the journey alone, because I was all that I needed. Shaving my hair off was like the final shedding of the old self, the abandonment of ego, vanity and superficiality. It also made travelling really easy when I didn’t have to carry around shampoo and conditioner.

Going straight into the Sadhana Mandir ashram in Rishikesh, India, was a confronting and liberating experience. Our teacher, who I aptly named Rafiki after the wise witch doctor baboon from The Lion King, was full of energy, three letter acronyms and bewildering enlightenment. He tore apart our social conditioning and handed us back, bare and naked to see truth in ourselves. I remember crying in the temple, begging Swami Rama to make sense of it all. What was I doing here? What had I done? I just shaved my head and broke off my engagement to come here and be yelled at for closing my eyes when I meditated. All those questions were never answered; they simply became obsolete. I will never forget the coolness of the holy mother Ganga as I stood in the blistering hot sun, a light veil over my head, feeling the coolness creep up from my feet. Or the colours of pink and purple in the dawn as I let my hair go with the current of that holy river. When the course in the ashram was over, climbing to the source, to the Gaumukh glacier I faced the divine and saw only love and forgiveness. After trekking for 19km up to 4000m in altitude, I felt like I had to offer this place something of myself, so I threw in my engagement ring and let go of my old self, of that old life.

Everyone I met in India became shining beacons of hope. I had gone through an incredibly emotional time by myself, with little contact to the outside world, so each of those friendships were connections to the divine. I started to see the light in every person I spoke to. Suddenly the world was shimmering as though it was on fire; I could see life force in everything.

Coming back to Sydney was hard. I felt displaced. I no longer had a room, had lost friends because of the last relationship and was in a kind of limbo about whether to stay or just go back to India or skip on over to Africa… until I met Krystle. My best friend, the strong independent and slightly crazy woman who loves herself so fiercely she barely needs anyone else. But she has me.

Working in bars again was completely against my yogic lifestyle, but I was now entering the Persephone phase. I had to spend some time in the darkness re-planting the seeds of my life so that I could once again grow into the light. I had to explore my shadow side to understand every side of me. What I found was an incredible resilience and strength. I camped in the snow and hauled a sled full of human waste up a 2km slope, carrying a 10kg pack. I ran the City 2 Surf, a 14km race that I had never even thought about before. I looked at a new job as a wine rep and just went for it, with enough confidence to just take it. Anything I wanted, I could manifest. I made mistakes and I forgave myself. More importantly I learnt how to love myself unconditionally. Even when the rest of the world turned against me and started to criticise my life choices, I couldn’t help but be grateful for every moment.

And then it happened. Just when I was telling someone that I wanted to stay alone and single for ten years… I met him. I resisted and struggled against the most powerful force until finally I realised that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. In that funny little place called love. The universe had not steered me wrong and as long as I listened to my inner voice (which had by now become a lot louder), I wouldn’t get lost again. I sat by the south boat ramp in Malabar, a place I had called home for years, and told Matt that I loved him. And he loves me. He is the kind of person that wakes up with laughter every day, who is so full of light that he can make the world smile just by entering a room. In this person I see reflected all the things I love in the world; goodness, purity, energy. And he is the yin to my yang. He is organised and tidy while I lean towards chaos and erratic disorder. He keeps me grounded when I am in danger of floating away and maybe I add a touch of flight where he is in danger of being too structured… We fit together in every way and I am no longer so terrified of this love. I have managed to let go of fear, of future expectations and past projections. Just being in the now, I can see that there is nothing to be afraid of.

I don’t pretend to be an expert on meditation, or yoga. In fact, I gave up teaching yoga the more I learnt about it, until I felt that I could teach in an authentic manner. I don’t pretend that my spiritual journey is over or complete. All I know is that I had to lose everything in order to gain everything. I had to delve deep inside my lightest and darkest and most honest moments in order to truly learn how to love myself. I had to learn to be happy alone. From the person that was constantly surprised when happiness would creep up, I now wake up and am overcome with joy and gratitude for everything that I have in my life. I am awake, conscious and aware of each breath.

I learnt a lot about myself and about the world this year. I learnt that to find peace, I have to stay in the NOW. The past and future do not matter and there is only ever this moment. I learnt that gratitude and manifestation are valuable tools in the pursuit if happiness. I learnt how to become aware of my breath and use it as a tool to keep me anchored into the present. I learnt that emotional energy is the same below the neck; that the mind has a strong influence over our experience over the world and when we learnt to harness it, we can choose the course of our lives. I learnt that to walk the path toward spiritual learning is not always straight and narrow, but wide and curving, up hill and through dark forest. It may not always be clear but when you allow the inner voice to be the guide, it is easy to find the way. I learnt that the only two certainties in life are death and change and to embrace change is to accept the natural flow of the universe. I learnt how to exist in this flow so that I no longer feel resistance to the universe.

And I learnt that nothing is more powerful than love.

At the end of each year I write down my achievements for the year and some goals for the next year. It is always interesting to see how much I have achieved from the goals of the previous year. I found this list and I can tick the 365 Days in Bliss, I also wrote GO TO INDIA! Big tick there… I also found a page at the back of a diary I wrote in last year:

When I woke up today I lay in bed and witnessed my breath. Drinking in te prana, I found stillness and the highest form of meditation, I felt momentary Samadhi; bliss.

If someone came up to me and said, “Who are you?” my answer would be silence.

To just BE is who I am.

So Hum.

I also make a point to write down my gratefuls. I don’t think I could list them all. I am grateful for everything. From this loving man beside me to the sun shining on my leg, to the air in my lungs. This year may have started off as a search, a struggle for bliss. Now it is easy to recognise bliss all around me, to see the divine in everyone and everything, to make every moment sacred. What began as a meditation separate from life has turned into making life a meditation.

Finally I would like to thank all of the people who helped me this year. From my friends and family who were encouraging and kept avidly reading throughout, to the teachers who came into my life and made an impression. I would also like to thank all of those who donated to the I-India project when I cut my hair and to the beautiful people at I-India for showing me around the projects. Also thank you to Sascha and all the girls form Yogatime for accepting me as a teacher when I got back from my travels, to Rosie and all the girls at Embrace for their friendship and help with meditation tools and finally to my mum for… everything. From the bottom of my heart and soul I express deep gratitude and honour for this journey and to myself for having the courage to turn up every day and make something out of nothing, and to be brave enough to write about it with open honesty.

Peace.

Bliss.

Namaste.

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Day 364 – the next 365 days

I was looking at the calendar, realising that I must have missed a day in transit since it was a leap year and I have somehow only come out with 365 days instead of the 366. I know that I lost a lot of hours travelling, but it is a little surreal to realise I have lost a whole day! Well, I started out by calling this blog 365 Days in Bliss, not 366 Days in Bliss. So maybe in a way, I already knew. Thinking of next year, I didn’t really want this to just end tomorrow with a final post, a final full stop. I decided to make 2013 count by learning something new every month. I had already been toying with this idea, having booked in for my motorcycle license and considering signing up for French classes. What has finally appeared as a bit of a sign, is this video on TED by Matt Cutts, Try Something New for 30 Days. The point is that you can do anything for 30 days. If I could meditate, write and blog for 365 days, then a month is nothing! So now I just have to come up with 12 ways to change my life for the better… I certainly wouldn’t be the first person to try this but it will be interesting to see how many skills I can learn in a year…

Day 363 – the gods and goddesses

When I say god, I don’t know if I am talking about the same figure that is presented in church or in the bible. I feel like there is a more intimate divinity to which I speak when I pray. In India, when people say ‘Namaste’, it is a greeting that recognises the inner divinity in each of us. The light within me recognises the light within you. I spend a day in front of the television as it is so painfully hot in Brisbane. For some reason I seem to come across show after show about god. The old Moses movie is on and then Hercules. This leads me to think about Persephone, the goddess of the underworld, and Ishtar, the Babylonian goddess of Love, War and Sexuality. Going back to so many religions there is a god for everything, even a servant god, Hanuman, in India who represents Bhakti yoga- the yoga of love and devotion. They say there are as many paths as there are people to walk them. Each person has their own relationship and opinion on who they pray to, if they pray at all. None can be wrong, as long as the faith there connects us to something which can bring happiness, fulfilment and awareness. Regardless of name or purpose, each god is just an aspect of the inexplicable divine. And if there is a valuable lesson to learn from this year, is not to complicate it with words. Silence is the path within. The divine doesn’t need the story. It already knows the ending.

Day 362 – happy hippies

Is is the Tibetan Prayer Flags that give it away? Or the attempted mud hut in the backyard overlooking the jungle? It could be the Alex Grey pictures that IMG_6184make so much sense to spiritually minded people. The Ganesha, Buddha and stone Aztec calendar all contribute to the vibe around the caravan but it is the word, LISTEN, painted on the tree that gets my attention the most. In the same way my excessive jewellery, tattoos and flowing clothing seem to mark me out, it is always a bit fun when someone who has never chanted with Hare Krishnas can turn around and blatantly label you as a hippy. To me, this is just how I am. This is how my friends are. Walking around barefoot makes more sense than high heels. Meditation groups make more sense than group sports. The hippy whose dwelling this was comes with me through the supermarket as we search for lentil burgers, discussing giving up fish as the final step toward becoming a true vegetarian. We both agree that cheese would be the hardest thing to give up. Because vegans are just intense, man. I guess if all this is what makes me a hippy, then I am a hippy. Light up the incense, pull up a djembe and sit on the bare dirt cos we are about to fry up some haloumi.

Day 361 – simply truth

I am guilty of overcomplicating certain matters. I know how easily I can turn a tiny thought into an enormous problem in my mind within seconds. Ever see me with that vague, far away look in my eye and it is pretty much already happening. I can let a seed of doubt grow a trunk and spread into branches and vines of mess in my mind until it feels like an overcrowded jungle with no space to let the light in. When we go to dinner and Mr “why/howcome/whatfor?” Six has more than enough questions to keep us answering for ages. What amazes me is how openly he can ask questions that adults would shy away from. But what is more amazing is how much the answers make more sense when they are simplified for him to understand. There is no fluff, no euphemism, no bullshit. Simple words, simple answers. Suddenly the jungle is cleared up and the light breaks in. Life and death are not so complicated. Some things just are the way that they are and peace is all about acceptance. In India, when I met Rupali, and told her that I didn’t smoke and refused a drink, she told me that she liked my simplicity. I guess I am a little more simple when I am travelling anyway, when everything I own fits into a duffel bag and when I can’t even say that I have a job. Well, I am on holidays now. I only have that duffel bag with me. I haven’t even bothered carrying around my handbag- which suddenly makes me realise how superfluous everything in it truly is. What a city thing, this handbag is, full of useless trinkets and objects that seem so essential to me in Sydney. And I don’t have a job anymore. I have decided not to go back. So here I am, back in my simplicity and there is a lot of light on the jungle floor.

Day 360 – boxing day

When I was a kid I always thought that boxing day was the day you had to pack all your new toys back into the box and not touch them, just to make sure you were really grateful for what you got for Christmas. It sounds like something an older sibling would put me up to, but I remember my mum just playing along with it, while I sat staring wistfully at my box of new toys. Eventually I would cave and beg mum to let me play with just ONE.

As I got a little bit older I was told that boxing day had something to do with boxing kangaroos. Today is the day they would meet up in the bush and have a boxing match.

Today I spend a few blissful minutes with Alfred Lord Tennyson, reading one of my favourite love poems, The Miller’s Daughter. I think if I create a new tradition for boxing day, it would be to read a poem in silence. That would tick a box for me.

 

A love-song I had somewhere read,

An echo from a measured strain,

Beat time to nothing in my head

From some odd corner of the brain.

It haunted me, the morning long,

With weary sameness in the rhymes,

The phantom of a silent song,

That went and came a thousand times.

A trifle, sweet! which true love spells

True love interprets right alone.

His light upon the letter dwells,

For all the spirit is his own.

So, if I waste words now, in truth

You must blame Love. His early rage

Had force to make me rhyme in youth

And makes me talk too much in age.

– Alfred Lord Tennyson, The Miller’s Daughter

Day 359 – Christmas Day

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We hug and say Merry Christmas. We hug and say thank you for the gift. We hug and say hello. We hug and say I love you. But Christmas is all about the food, right? Prawns so big they are almost small lobsters. Champagne in coupes, reminiscent of prohibition times and oysters so creamy and delicious, I get sad when I swallow the last one too quickly. Two types of fruit mince pies- puff or short crust pastry. I better try both to see which one I prefer. Presents… I know that people can see exactly who I am when I unwrap a dreamcatcher, a book called 1001 Ways to Tranquility and a lotus notepad. Then we play put-put golf. Turns out I am better at beer pong. I feel like I am part of a new family this year.

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My favourite quote from my new tranquility book:

Sometimes you’re the windshield; sometimes you’re the bug

-Mark Knopfler

Day 358 – Christmas Eve, the family meditation

Traditionally, my family celebrate Christmas on this evening. We would wait until midnight to open the presents but since my brothers have small children now, we tend to do the present opening during the day. This year I am not with them, but I still call to wish them a merry Christmas. Both my brothers sound busy, though my eldest brother still manages to throw in a bit of a lecture about tattoos and not drinking too much. My mother tries to get upset about my plans to get a motorbike license and for once I am a little bit grateful not to be around them all today- it seems they are in the mood to have a dig. I know it comes from a place of love, but it is interesting to look at my journey and see that the things I have done that have worried them the most have also made me the happiest and ultimately, left them the proudest. Not that they will always agree with tattoos or riding motorbikes, but one thing I will always know is that if they see me following my bliss and finding happiness, then they are happy for me. My mum may worry when I travel to third world countries alone, or when I go camping in the snow, but she has always told me that my only job is to be happy, so I know that she will support me no matter how crazy my adventures get. I do miss them, even when they are shaking their heads and rolling their eyes at me. It is beautiful to spend time with another family, to feel the love they have for each other and be reminded of how much love I have felt from my own brothers and sisters. Meditating on family love, I realise that the first part of this year, I had to escape everything from my life in order to find bliss. I had to find myself. I had to be alone, to totally remove myself from the world, from my relationship, from my family and friends and strip back all the layers that had influenced me and hidden my true self. Now, knowing who I am, being comfortable enough with my true self to let it shine, I am ready to share my bliss. I am ready to find bliss with the people I love; and with one in particular. Now, finding bliss isn’t about escaping but immersing and experiencing.

Day 351 to Day 357 – the new path is carved

Day 351 – Judi

Just when I am ready to throw in the towel, when I don’t want to do this job anymore, when I have had more than enough… I meet Judi. She is in a retirement village; shocked at how quickly age caught up with her, but when she speaks, you can tell that her mind is still sharp as a tack. I stay longer than intended, listening to her stories of life and soaking up her sage advice as she tells me that I am charming and can succeed if I just finish my degree.

She tells me, “At age 18 I went to Paris with my bets friend and a map. I never for a moment thought I wouldn’t go. I had this indelible belief that I would be safe and that nothing bad would happen.”

I know this feeling so well. How many times this year have I made snap decisions and just believed so much in this crazy path that it led me to amazing places? How many times have I just opened my eyes and seen a sign that led me somewhere unknown? There were times I had no clue what I was doing and all I could trust was that the universe was leading me exactly where I was supposed to go. I have learnt to listen in to the whispering winds of change and act on little more than gut instinct. I have learnt to trust myself, to follow my own lead and to flow with the current of life.

When I stand up to leave, this beautiful woman who has loved and lost more than she can count, who never married or had children, but instead travelled the world and protected the young men in her care like her own, who in her 80’s refuses to be called a geriatric, grabs my wrist and stands stock still as she looks at my unicorn. I hold my breath, scared that my charms will be lost for my body art.

“I love it!” She tells me fiercely as she looks into my eyes with a cheeky smile. “Every woman needs a unicorn to chase away the dark thoughts.”

 

Day 352 – blue bottled

Today is my last day of work and how fortunate I am to have had a cancellation. It is hot and the ocean is bright turquoise. I race back for a quick costume change and I am in for a swim across Malabar. This is the greatest feeling in the world, my fingers passing through the cold water as I fall into rhythm. If I were the sun right now, staring down at this tiny moving figure, would I wonder why she does it? Or is it just known? No blue bottles in the whole beach but somehow I find the single figure that is tangled up amongst some seaweed. A piece of tentacle becomes stuck on my right middle finger and it takes a while for me to realise and pull it off. I have had enough of these to know that it is nothing. I get back home and as I change, I see myself turn pale. The pain is going up into my glands and I want to vomit. I have never had a reaction like this before. I just want to lie down. As I lie there, sleepily staring at the clock tick towards my next appointment, I think of the poor blue bottle that stung me. Usually they float around in a little group, washing into the beach, innocently bobbing around in virtual suspended animation. This little guy had been caught in some seaweed, isolated from his clan and taken far enough away that the two of us met and he blessed me with an afternoon off to rest. This may be painful but I am still grateful.

 

Day 353 – the constant gardener

Another tattoo. This has been my most active year under the inking needle. This time, I am getting a full garden piece down the back of my left calf and the outer side of my shin. The lily is already there, so it is getting coloured and connected by some green vines which curl around my ankles. The grapevines represent my work with wine, the sacred drink; the chilli is for my Mexican heritage; the lotus flower is a symbol for yoga; the bird of paradise is my mother’s favourite flower and the LIZard is me. I can’t believe it but I am nearly asleep as the tattooist colours my skin. It’s like as soon as I finished work, my body and mind has just switched off. Time to wind down. Four hours later, we have an outline of my garden and some scattered colour done. It looks amazing. Gardens are all about staying grounded and feeling connected to the earth mother, knowing where your roots come from and staying true to them.

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Day 354 – the work path

The decision has been made. I am now on holidays and I have already had two job interviews. One is for a job teaching yoga. I know that this is my true path. The other is for bar manager of a new bar opening next year. I can’t go back to selling wine. I did meet some amazing and beautiful people in that job, but I know when something isn’t quite right. I miss teaching yoga and I don’t even have the time to study, so I am re-enrolling in Uni, quitting sales, learning how to ride a motorbike (the pollution issue drives me mental, knowing I am driving around for nearly 100km per day), and going back to yoga and bar work. For the first time in months, I feel genuine relief about a decision that I have made. Now that there is no more work for the rest of the year, I can really hear my internal voice and it is once again speaking its truth about work.

 

IMG_6069Day 355 – another drum circle

It was all because of a drum circle that I found my yoga path to begin with. At the work Christmas party, I am struggling to fit in with the group. I feel a little bit sick so I go in to lie down and under the Christmas tree I find three djembes. As my work friends come in, I silently hand them a drum and we start to play. At first the sound is disjointed, but eventually someone grabs a guitar and we fall into an erratic rhythm which eventually flows into music. Singing along with a guitar and a djembe, I can remember where I come from. I know I am making the right decision in leaving this job and going back to yoga. I think I need to get myself a djembe. This beat conjures inspiration.

 

Day 356 – the long and winding road

You know a relationship is serious when you are introduced to the family. I am scared out of my whits. We drive about 9 hours up the coast to Byron Bay to spend Christmas with Matt’s family. When we pull into the driveway, I gasp, “Are we here already?”

It was not so long ago that a friend of mine had to meet her partners family and my advice to her was, ‘Always be yourself. Unless you can be a unicorn. Then always be a unicorn.’

So right now I am trying to be a unicorn. I can only fall back into my own skin and hope that they see why Matt loves me. Why am I so nervous? For the past four months my job has been to walk into people’s houses with wine and win them over with personality and charm. Why should I be so nervous about this?

It’s always hard to tell but if I know one thing about myself it is that I am good at being me. I don’t really know how to be anything else. And I love me. So hopefully they do too…

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Day 357 – in the open air

Matt has been telling me about this open-air cathedral and when we pull up, I didn’t imagine it would be so beautiful. Overlooking a valley, the sandstone cross rises up in front of a cloudy sky. The pale green logs make pews under the sun and the sandstone altar immediately inspires thoughts of the Sermon on the Mount. This is how it is supposed to be. Outside, with the wind circling me, it is easy to feel the presence of god. Of all the temples, mosques, churches and sacred buildings I have prayed in this year, this has to be my favourite. I look past the cross and into the depth of the green beneath. I start to say the Lord’s prayer, but I leave off after a few lines. It means nothing to me. My most sacred moments have been in open honesty with the divine. So I find a simpler way…IMG_6098

Keep him safe.

Bless our love.

Thanks for making life so awesome.

Ok, not so sacred but sometimes that candid statement says more than the ‘thou who art…’

And I do feel blessed.

Day 343 to Day 350 – breathing underwater

Day 343 – breathing slowly underwater

First day of my diving course. Matt has sent me to do this so that I can dive with him in Vietnam. The whole day is spent in the pool learning the skill set we will need to be underwater with all this equipment. What becomes apparent is how slow and long my exhale is. I realise that the breath regulation I learnt in India has completely changed the way I breathe. Here it is quantifiable in bubbles. It is also quantifiable in bar/psi- at the end of the day I have the most air left in my tank. The reason for this, I guess, is that more time is spent on the exhale and a longer exhale empties the lungs, allowing the inhale to more efficiently absorb oxygen, making for a more economical use of the air in the tank. We also get measured on how many breathes we can get out of the hose after the air is switched off and the instructor is a little surprised that I got 4-5 breaths out of that small amount of air. Now, becoming more conscious of the effectiveness of this breath pattern I remember more often to breathe with an inhale for five seconds and an exhale for ten seconds. This is four breaths per minute; however it is still only a work in progress. A true yogi breathes no more than once per minute. Of course, these same rishis can probably sit underwater with no tank and just absorb oxygen from the water molecules. That would take a little longer than a day in a pool to master.

 

Day 344 – script, number, action

This week of work we are doing something called Phone Action. I have only done one before. It is considered to be a bit of a nightmare, unless of course you can use it to your advantage. It is a great opportunity to make a lot of turnover and sell a lot of wine. Basically we call our old customers with a deal they can’t refuse and with Christmas around the corner, everyone is buying wine… Everyone except the people I call. At least nobody has told me to get lost. They have all been really cheerful so after a full day on the phones, I have sold nothing but I have had some really great conversations. I guess sometimes I am not aggressive enough to make the sale, but I am friendly enough to enjoy myself anyway and just send some good energy out into the world. Well the first day of phone action is always the easiest…

 

Day 345 – sacred spaces

The second day of phone action is getting harder. I am starting to crumble under the pressure. It is harder to keep the energy on the phone as we get to the end of another ten-hour day. The boss announces power hour and pours everyone a glass of German sparkling. A customer tells me off and I just need to create a little space just for me and escape away from the world. I take my phone, my pen, paper and glass of wine under the desk and create a little fort. From there I make a sale. FINALLY! I am the last one in the office to do it. When we make a sale we have a little silver bell on the desk that we ding. I stand up and slam it with my fist, then in a fit of frustration-excitement-relief-mixedemotions, I throw the bell on the ground. The room is full of applause. Not just about the sale but about my dramatic way of announcing it. All it took was my sacred space. I just needed to find myself alone. When I find me there, I can do anything.

 

Day 346 – boot camp

Boot camp is hard today. It is a kind of drill that has no rest period. 14 jump squats, 14 grunts, 14 push ups and 14 sit ups. Run around the circuit twice, do it all again. Drop down to 12. Then 10. Start from 14… It isn’t about speed, there is no race. It is just constant movement. Did I mention it is done in soft sand? My internal dialogue has learnt to shut up. It knows that once I turn up on the beach at 6,30am, there is no way out. The trainers don’t take no for an answer and it has taught me an immense amount of discipline that I otherwise would not have in training. It is also the opposite of a yogic way of practice which encourages rest when necessary. The upside is that I am stronger and fitter than I have ever been before. When we get to the end, the trainer tells us that this session was dedicated to the two soldiers who died last year. Nothing makes you swallow your pride like hearing that. If I thought 14 grunts were hard, then I can’t imagine what they would have done. Moral of the story is to just keep moving and don’t complain. If training on the beach is the last thing I ever do, then it has been a beautiful morning.

 

Day 347 – I don’t know what I am doing

I am at that point in my life where I realise at least two of my friends have a PhD and I still haven’t yet finished my undergraduate. I can’t seem to organise further into the future than next week and I have three separate resumes depending on the job I am applying for. I have been in more airports than classrooms and more embassies than banks. I have more speeding and parking fines than I do money to pay them, my credit card is maxed out, yet I always have enough money in savings to buy a plane ticket. My desk is covered in Unicorn oracle cards, an empty bottle of wine and a blank travel journal. I can never find my car keys but I always know where my passport and yoga mat is. I don’t know if I am grown up yet, or if I am still leaving my window open at night for Peter Pan. I can, however, speak 3 languages, translate most yoga poses into and out of Sanskrit and physical form, tread water for at least half a day, identify and explain the use of more than 30 crystals and name 40 different grape varieties off the top of my head. I have learnt more through life experience than I have ever been taught and even though I may not always know what I am doing, I always know exactly who I am. So, to the boss, the ex, the principal, the jealous friends and the teachers who said I had no chance, who called me a dreamer like it was a bad thing and who promised that I would be homeless and poor- tell me, how many times a day do you smile? Because I don’t think I ever stop.

 

Day 348 – earning, learning and yearning

It is Friday. I have had enough of this job. It is going to be the death of me. I am dying for a change. At this end of a fifty hour week I am going to a friend’s bar/restaurant to see if it is the kind of place I would like to work. He used to have my job and he left for much the same reasons. When I arrive at Neild Avenue, it is beautiful, elegant, with large display bottles of Dom Perignon and tall ceilings. We sit by the open window facing the street and order wine on tap. Surprisingly it is great! I sit down and watch the waiters all dressed in white. My friend is wearing a bow tie and an apron. I know this isn’t me. This is the kind of place I would have to hide my tattoos, take off the red nail polish and all my jewellery. The kind of place where my Mohawk and leopard print hair wouldn’t work.

I feel like change is around the corner- the right opportunity is about to present itself. Later that evening as we walk down to the pub (in high heels, I might add), some cheeky fairies separate our little group so that I end up having a deep and meaningful conversation with one of Matt’s best friends. As all mates do, I get the feeling that he is trying to suss out my intentions. By the time we get to the pub, we meet up with the others and quickly turn around to go straight back home. When this friend comes in the door a few hours later, he just points at me and says, “respect!” Whatever I said, I feel like I have passed some kind of test. All I can do is be myself, but it seems like that is enough for these people. They don’t need me to dress up in white and hide my tats. They respect honesty and bravery and a girl who will walk a mile in high heels without complaining.

 

Day 349 – under the sea

Today is my first day open water diving. We descend slowly and go for our first little dive to acclimatise and get used to being under the sea. Yes, in my head, I can hear Sebastian from the Little Mermaid singing along. My internal DJ is also playing the song from Bedknobs and Broomsticks. Someone needs to invent underwater iPods. As we move along, my brain starts to run away with thoughts about what would happen if the regulator got flicked out my mouth, or what if I panic? What if I run out of air? What if I get lost? I can hear my heart pounding in my head. I am starting to spiral around with these stupid hypotheticals. Just breathe. I go back to rule 1 in diving (and life); don’t ever stop breathing. I slow my breath down and just focus on that for a while. It calms me right down and I start to enjoy this feeling. This is like every underwater dream I have ever had where I suddenly realise I can breathe in water. Except now I am doing this in reality. No need to panic, just breathe. In yoga, in diving, in life, the one thing that I know for certain is that it is ALL about the breath.

 

Day 350 – part of the ocean again

I once lived on a boat. I used to love having salty hair all the time. I loved how smooth my feet were from being constantly wet and polished by the gravelly deck. I loved how I could eat a mango over the side of the boat and then jump in the water to rinse off the sticky juice. I used to love eating fresh fish that we just hauled in whilst trolling. It has been ages since I spent all day in the water and this weekend has reminded me of how much I miss it. I love my hair when it is all salty instead of using product.

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