Monthly Archives: November 2014

Living your passion

I could tell you that I am so inspired and enchanted by the magic of life all the time that I can’t help but share my experiences and create beautiful things.  But that would be a gigantic big lie. There is some truth in it, on good days.  The bit I’ve left out is pretty crucial to the story though.

Sometimes I am so full of self doubt and negativity that it literally paralyses me.  If you ever suffer from this kind of lack of confidence then you’ll know that focussing on trying to improve whatever it is you’re unhappy with while in this fearful state can be counterproductive.  You just end up finding further problems and reasons why you can’t succeed.  There are lots of things you can do to change your mindset and appreciate your successes instead, but it may be that remembering what you’re passionate about is enough to make the shift from feeling stuck and hopeless to being inspired and empowered.

I’ll use my personal experience as an example to illustrate the power of this.  I had hit a bit of a brick wall with the marketing side of my handmade jewellery business.  My brain had given up doing its job and my thoughts were scattered and increasingly negative.  This has happened to me enough times to know not to continue down that road.  I tried to follow my own advice and made a conscious effort to remember what I was passionate about.

Sometimes you have to be really honest with yourself when your heart isn’t in what you’re doing.  The reason my brain wasn’t co-operating was because I was trying to deny a major part of the motivation behind my work.

Being self employed isn't all rainbows... unless you happen to be at Iguacu falls.

Being self employed isn’t all rainbows… unless you happen to be at Iguacu falls.

Travel and freedom have played a central role in my life for a long time.  However, because I’d been so focussed on my business, I’d forgotten why I was doing all of this.  I was thinking about all of the different ways to market my online shop, but I had lost my spark.  I had put travel in a box that didn’t overlap with work, but when I remembered my passion it freed up my thinking again.

Poon Hill in the Himalayas, Nepal.  Our guide didn't carry me all the way up, honest!

Poon Hill in the Himalayas, Nepal.  On top of the world, now that’s freedom!

My handmade jewellery and my creativity are inseparable from my love of exploring the world.  I have many passions that are intertwined, and to work efficiently I need to allow them to be expressed.  I need to live my passion for travel, my passion for freedom and my passion for peace, in order to fuel my passion for creating bohemian jewellery for free spirited dreamers.  I need that lust for life to design jewellery that resonates with the people I create it for.

So that’s now the basis of my marketing strategy.  To be myself, but louder.  To immerse myself in the things that inspire me, connect with like minded people who share my outlook on life, and to share my journey and inspirations with them.  With you.

Living my passion is actually pretty essential to both my productivity and my happiness.  That’s the thing with being a sensitive soul trying to make a living from your creative endeavours – if you stray too far from the things that inspire you then you soon get shut down by the first hint of failure!  You need that burning passion to sustain you through the many, many failures that are necessary for your growth.  If you’re truly following your heart and expressing your authentic self then failure just doesn’t feel like failure any more.  You just keep going.

Macrame gemstone earrings.  You can browse my Etsy shop TessHeaven here.

Macrame gemstone earrings. You can browse my Etsy shop TessHeaven here.

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Pin-spiration

Pinterest is the perfect place for me to go online and get re-inspired. Take a look at my travel inspiration board and you’ll see why!  I love looking through literally thousands of photos other people have pinned and selecting the ones that made me jump for joy with excitement.  I love looking back over my collection even more.  It’s the best creative inspiration I could hope for while sitting at a computer.

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Deep Turbo – Scuba Diving Gili Trawangan, Indonesia

This dive encapsulated everything I love about scuba diving.  The colours, the weird and wonderful life forms, the otherworldly landscapes, the feeling of freedom and bliss, the clear blue tropical water and sky, and the relaxed joyful boat ride back to land, sunbathing on the roof with my fellow divers, reflecting on what a perfect dive it had been.  We had been so lucky to see nearly ALL of the marine life that can be spotted at Deep Turbo, a dive site off the coast of Gili Trawangan, Indonesia.

The view from Gili Trawangan beach.

The view from Gili Trawangan beach.

I took my PADI Open Water and Advanced qualifications at Blue Marlin Dive on the tiny island.  As a new diver I was pretty much in awe every moment of every dive, however, it was clear to me from the reaction of the instructors that this had been a very special dive indeed.  The timing and conditions were perfect.  A leopard shark and eagle ray emerged from the deep water beneath us and glided gracefully past, slowly enough for us all to stop and just look in amazement.  Then what can only be described as a HERD of bump headed parrot fish swam by.  These guys were huge and there were a LOT of them!  It was a magical, very surreal sight.  We also saw reef sharks, moray eels and countless other smaller fish just carrying on as if we weren’t there staring at them, mesmerized by the beauty of their world.

The whole dive just had a feeling of perfection about it.  It was as if each creature appeared right on cue to capture our attention, then slowly drifted away, leaving us enough time to fully process what we’d seen and enjoy the feeling of weightlessly moving through the crystal clear water before the next amazingly beautiful spectacle came into view.

I don’t want to give you an unrealistic picture of what scuba diving is like, because it definitely isn’t always as peaceful and thoroughly satisfying as this dive was, but it is still one of my favourite activities even when the conditions are less than perfect and the creatures are all hiding away.  It’s so liberating to be able to move effortlessly (once you get the hang of the equipment and provided there isn’t a strong current!) in any direction and explore a hidden world full of unexpected delights.

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“You have to be kind of open to feel it”

By Didier Descouens (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Amethyst crystals.  Photo by Didier Descouens (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

My friend, voice coach, fellow body worker and self-development teacher suggested I write down this sentence that I had just uttered.  We’d been having a conversation about crystals, prana and energy work, and I’d been witnessing a conflict within the analytical, linear, logical thinking part of my mind.  I find it impossible to comprehend such things when I approach them in straight forward cause → effect kind of way, although that wonderful computer-like facet of my consciousness which serves me so well in the material world continues to strive to understand things which are beyond its grasp.

Undeniably I’ve experienced what many people describe as the ‘energy’ of crystals and gemstones.  Now ‘energy’ is a pretty vague term so let me tell you what it means to me in this context.  To me, the energy or essence of a crystal or any object is something that is felt, not with the senses, but with the heart.  That is why when you try to think about the primary experience in logical terms it often leads to a dead end.  But we were having the conversation because I had reached the point where I needed to acknowledge the part of me that experienced the world in this more direct way.

Peridot crystals, public domain image.

It was a relief to finally be able to vocalise something I’d been grappling with for quite a long time.  How could an inanimate object have ‘life’ in it?  How could I reconcile my first hand experiences with what my logical mind ‘knew’ about the world.  “You have to be kind of open to feel it” I said.  This openness is a shedding of the layers of knowledge which can get in the way of perceiving clearly.  In this case I was talking about a crystal, but the sentence could apply to just about anything.

The first time I was able to connect with the energy of crystals it was facilitated by an openness to the possibility of perceiving something that was beyond the ordinary senses.  I felt it resonate energetically in my body.  The experience, although later dismissed by my rational mind, was very direct, simple and profound.  It took me a long time to ‘come out’ about my love of gemstones and crystals, but when I reflected upon it, it seemed crazy not to share something that I feel on a deeper level than many things I speak of without a second thought.

My journey into this new world is only just beginning, but the first lesson I have learned from crystals is an important lesson in life also.  When you are able to open your heart in this way you perceive things differently, less limited by the preconceptions of the mind, and new possibilities begin to emerge.

One of my own creations.  To browse my handmade jewellery visit my Etsy shop TessHeaven.

Raw clear quartz crystal necklace; one of my own creations. To browse my handmade jewellery visit my Etsy shop TessHeaven.

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The Diverse Amazing Landscapes of South America

I’m sure I’ll write about all of these places at a later date, but for now I just wanted to create a quick mainly visual post about the crazy scenery in South America.  We travelled by land across most of the continent, and I think that’s why it made such an impression on me.  We’d go between desert and sea, mountains and jungle in single bus journeys (very long ones admittedly, but the impact was still incredible).  We saw the distinct striking landscapes from the pictures below emerge and fade into one another seamlessly throughout the day.  Or we’d dose off in a barren wilderness and wake up surrounded by snow.  It was truly amazing.

Salar de Uyuni

Salar de Uyuni. The world’s largest salt flat, in Bolivia. Fantastic strangely coloured lakes, giant cacti and volcanoes are some of the other natural wonders of this region.

Angel Falls

Angel Falls, Venezuela. Breathtaking scenery. The whole journey to reach the isolated waterfalls was an adventure by tiny plane and then boat into a forgotten land of table top mountains and jungle.

Colca Canyon

Colca Canyon.  Home to the giant Andean condor.

Iguazu Falls

Iguazu Falls.  These magnificent waterfalls are on the border between Argentina and Brazil. Whenever I see waterfalls I love to imagine being in the wilderness thousands of years ago and stumbling upon them for the first time. They are absolutely vast, and the roar of the water is amazing.

Ushuaia

Ushuaia, Argentina. The southernmost city in the world.

Perito Moreno glacier

Perito Moreno glacier, Argentina. Huge blocks of ice break off the end of this gigantic glacier and crash spectacularly into the water as it melts during the summer months.

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The Great Fire of 2012

Technically this was 2013 as it happened at exactly midnight on New Year’s Eve but, given all of the End Of The World predictions, I’ve decided the fire definitely belonged to 2012!

I was staying at Green Climbers Home near Thakhek in Laos and was celebrating the New Year with a group of climbers from all over the world, along with many of the locals who were working at the resort.  We were about 12 km from the nearest town, amongst a landscape of limestone karsts, caves and clean cool freshwater swimming spots.  It was already going to be a memorable new year, but no one could have predicted what would happen next.

Everyone was feeling quite merry and there was a lot of table dancing and exhibitionism in the form of climbing every available object, as you would expect from a group of climbers in a celebratory mood.  Then, as the end of the year was almost upon us, we gathered outside to watch some fireworks being set off, counting down cheerfully.

But then it all went wrong, very quickly.  Somehow a spark from one of the fireworks hit the thatched roof of the main building.  People ran for the fire extinguishers and attempted to put out the fire, but unfortunately it was dry and very windy and the fire spread rapidly.  The flames easily leapt from the roof of the main building to those of the bungalows nearest to it.  I could see we didn’t have long before it would reach ours.  Fortunately we managed to grab one of our wallets with passport and bank cards, before it became too unsafe.  Unfortunately my passport, cards and money were in the main building, and although some people were heroically running in to remove the huge extremely hazardous gas cylinders (and other less essential items) from the burning building, there was no way on earth I was going in there!

I had also, thankfully, managed to grab shoes from our bungalow as I hadn’t been wearing any, having no idea just how useful they were going to be.  Everyone was very distressed, but out of immediate danger, except those that ventured perilously close to the raging fire, desperately trying to rescue their belongings from tents in the middle of the camp.  There were explosions, but nothing like there would have been had the gas cylinders not been removed in time.  I wasn’t taking any chances though and was eager to get as far away from the area as possible.  Fear does strange things to your mind and the speed at which the flames had travelled between bungalows and the sheer scale of the fire had utterly terrified me.  I was convinced that it would spread throughout the entire area and my whole body was telling me to run.

In our panic we’d made a mistake.  The resort was built at the base of some very tall cliffs.  Perfect for climbing.  Not so perfect for making our escape.  We’d been backed into a corner by the fire.  The only way out, and thank god there was one, was through a rocky treacherous cave that went all the way through the mountain.  This is where the shoes came in handy!  It sounds like something out of an action film with a ridiculously contrived plot, but we genuinely had to wade through water in a pitch black cave that was filling up with smoke from a fire in which we’d just lost all of our belongings, with no light and having no idea of the way.  There were two lovely local girls who had a torch and appeared to know where they were going though.  We didn’t speak the language but my desperation was clear and they kindly waited for us to catch up and eventually, after some wrong turns and a few minor cuts and scrapes, we made it out of there.

In the distance we could see the entire mountain glowing orange, and that was when the enormity of what had happened began to sink in.  The emergency services in Laos are not quite as comprehensive as they are here, and an hour or so later a truck with a  hose drove in the direction of our accommodation.  I doubt the most sophisticated fire engine in the world could have made much of an impact on the devastating fire by the time they reached the isolated resort.  Nearly everything was made of wood and that created an incinerator like environment with temperatures hot enough to turn even metal climbing equipment to ash.

When we returned to the site the next day, slightly hoping to salvage some of our belongings, we were gobsmacked by what we saw, or rather what we didn’t see.  Almost nothing remained.  Where there had been a bar, restaurant and people laughing and dancing the night before, there was only ash.  We walked over to where our bungalow had been.  The porcelain toilet and sink were the only things that remained.  Everything else had literally turned to dust.  Rocks crashed down hundreds of feet from the over-heated crumbling rock of the cliff face.  It was completely surreal.  There were glowing embers smoking in patches across the site giving it a very eerie feel.  We were reminded just how illusory this world of form really is, with apparently solid structures drastically changing state in an instant.

The ‘stuff’ had gone, and for a while, to the people involved, it seemed all had been lost.  We heard how the owners had sat and watched their labour of love burn to the ground, refusing to leave, unable to believe what was happening.  Having no belongings, passport or access to money my trip was dramatically cut short, and after a LOT of waiting around and bureaucracy I was able to return home on a temporary passport.  But life goes on.  The energy behind the Green Climbers Home had not been destroyed and they rebuilt the entire site from scratch.  Donations flooded in and the dream that inspired the original project lived on.

My dream also lives on, but has taken on a new form.  I had booked a one way flight out of the UK and had the intention of finding work as I travelled.  Personal circumstances along with the Great Fire of 2012 soon steered me in a new direction.  The fire destroyed my possessions, and temporarily broke my spirit, but the energy that gave birth to my dream of traveling the world indefinitely remains.  I know I will travel again, but for now I’m pouring my heart and soul into Tess Heaven, working to create something sustainable to take with me wherever I go.  Who knows where I would be or what I would be doing if that disaster hadn’t happened, but I feel like right here doing this is exactly where I’m meant to be right now.

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Halong Bay, Vietnam

I went to Halong Bay in northern Vietnam back in 2006, before I became the more cynical seasoned traveller that I am today.  My experience was one of pure adventure and amazement, and my fresh young eyes perceived the majesty of the world we live in.

It was hot there. Really really hot.  My best friend and I were on an overnight cruise in the bay and we’d dropped anchor amongst the tall limestone karsts that jutted out of the water all around us.  Sleeping in our cabin seemed ludicrous given the temperature, so we stayed out on deck. I’m so glad we did, because it was the most memorable experience of the whole trip.  We were under the stars, sitting on sun loungers, gazing out across the water to one of the islands.  Only the outline was visible, but this made it all the more impressive.  Seeing the giant rocky structure rise from nowhere out of the sea was so mysterious by night. We felt like we were in a film set.  It was too beautiful to be real.

By day we kayaked around the islands.  We came across a tiny little sea cave so we went in to have a look.  We soon retreated when we realised there was someone living in there!  I think he was as surprised to see us as we were to see him!

I was fortunate in my awestruck state of wonder to be blissfully oblivious to the pollution and tourist overcrowding in Halong Bay, although reportedly these problems are much more obvious now.  I’m very grateful that I was able to experience the true timeless magnificence of this place of ancient legend and mystery.  These glimpses of natural paradises are still available to us amidst the mayhem of popular tourist spots if we’re open to the experience.

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