Monthly Archives: May 2017

Fairytale Magic In Killarney, Ireland

My time in Dublin had been nice.  I’d spent hours getting lost in the museum absorbing all the history.  I’d walked for miles, stopping to admire amazing architecture and eat at yummy vegetarian restaurants.  But it wasn’t until I was on the bus out of there that I really started to relax into the trip.

I don’t know if it was just my imagination, but the cows in the fields looked happier than they do in the UK.  Everything seemed just that little bit softer.  There was hardly any traffic, and I imagined how awesome it would be to come back on an epic road trip.  For now though, I was very happy not to be driving, and drifted in and out of sleep, listened to music and day dreamed about what was to come.

We passed through some gorgeous towns that I would love to visit one day, and then we began the approach into Killarney National Park.  The scenery became more rugged, and I finally felt like I was on an adventure again.  I’d felt excited at the airport, as I always do, but Dublin was so much like home that it didn’t really give me that holiday feeling.

Even while I was still on the bus it felt easier to breathe in these wild surroundings.  As we emerged from the forest into the small town I saw some serious walkers with all their outdoor gear, obviously about to tackle some of the surrounding peaks.  There were horse drawn carriages to take tourists wanting a less physically demanding holiday around the park.  I was somewhere in the middle.  I intended to do lots of walking, but no mountains this time!

My hostel was an idyllic haven, truly a home away from home.  The people were lovely and welcoming, and all the rooms were named after animals!  Everything inside was made out of wood, which combined with the fresh country air to create the feeling of being on some kind of retreat.

I met the most wonderful guy from Canada, whose eyes lit up when he talked about his time in Ireland.  He had an almost Irish sounding accent, as he was from a very isolated part of Newfoundland where there were a lot of Irish immigrants.  Maybe that’s why he felt such a strong connection to this country.

I love meeting people from all over the world, especially when they have such different lifestyles to mine.  There is something really special about people who live away from the hustle and bustle of big cities.  They radiate such a gentle calm presence.  I don’t think I could live in a rural area (I need good vegan pizza and all my friends near me!) but I feel such a strong pull towards that simpler way of life.

From what I had gathered from my conversations with other travellers, everywhere in the national park was extremely beautiful, and I could easily spend many days walking and exploring here.  I was excited but tired, so took a nap and just spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around the town, preparing for an adventure the following day.  I felt like I was already settling into the slower pace of life that Killarney invited.

On my first full day there I took a walk along the shores of the vast lake to Ross Castle.  A German girl I’d met in Dublin had recommended the route, so I followed in her footsteps.  I was not disappointed.  Almost immediately I spotted a grey heron as I walked along the river that led to the lake.

When I reached the lake I basked in the stillness, taking in the shimmering water and majestic hills that surrounded it.  I imagined people hundreds of years ago experiencing that same feeling of wonder as they stood on these very shores, gazing at the beautiful landscape.  I continued my walk, sometimes next to the water, sometimes deeper into the forest, surrounded by wild flowers and lush green leaves.

Just as my feet were beginning to ache, I caught a glimpse of Ross Castle between the trees.  Seconds before I took this photo, a ray of sunlight shone through the parting clouds, illuminating the castle.  Obviously, as soon as I got my camera out the sun disappeared, but it was a magical moment!

The castle perfectly reflected the drama of the landscape, creating an otherworldly fairytale scene.  It was a strange feeling to reach the castle and be surrounded by people again, who had come by car or horse and carriage.  There was something extremely satisfying about arriving on foot, as I drive almost everywhere at home!

I decided to walk back along the road, which was long and boring, because my legs couldn’t handle going all the way back around the lake!  When I reached the hostel, I immediately collapsed on my bed for a snooze, cooked a huge bowl of pasta, and psyched myself up to do it all again the next day!

I had a vague plan to explore the area around Muckross Abbey as I set off on my next adventure in the national park.  The sun was shining, and the lake looked stunning.  The soothing sound of the lapping water made me want to lie down on the pebbles and take a nap, but I had a lot of ground to cover so I kept walking.

Eventually I reached the abbey ruins, and took my time exploring every nook and cranny.  Suddenly the clouds came over, and it looked like it was about to rain, creating an eerie atmosphere.  The sun soon came back out, and I avoided getting wet, but thought I should probably get a move on in case the weather changed again.

Muckross Abbey

The path got more and more scenic, luring me further along until I reached Muckross House and gardens.  Arriving in the gardens was like stepping into some kind of paradise after the long walk.  The beautifully designed gardens were so soothing, and completely distracted me from the blisters on my feet, hunger and general exhaustion!  I was only at the half way point of my walk, but felt totally revived by the heavenly surroundings.

The return journey was a lot easier than I’d imagined, but I still fell asleep again as soon as I got back!  I felt very content when I woke up, which was lucky because my tranquil retreat had transformed into a noisy hub of activity.  It was a bank holiday weekend, and there was a huge car rally happening in the tiny town.

I could understand why, with such amazing roads around the lake and surrounding hills, but it was a bit of a shock to be woken up that night by revving engines and car horns!  I can sleep through almost anything though, so although a little confused, I still got plenty of rest.

The next day I had a lazy start, and took a gentler walk along a circuit where I could see herds of red deer, and more magnificent views.  I had planned on taking a day trip to the Dingle peninsula, having heard amazing things about it.  However, I decided to prioritize relaxation over trying to do absolutely everything in a short space of time.

On my trip to Costa Rica last year I got sick twice (I rarely get ill at home) because I pushed myself to do more than I genuinely wanted to.  I met some great people who were packing in all of the sights, and although I enjoyed days out with them, I much prefer to go at my own pace.  So I learned my lesson, and passed on the fabulous sounding tour.  It felt really good to honor my own feelings though, instead of thinking that I ‘should’ be doing more.

So Dingle is another place to add to the list for a future Ireland road trip!  It’s exciting to have a country so nearby that I have barely begun to explore.  I’m not sure when I’ll go back, there are so many more adventures to be had in new countries before then, but with my tent, a car and some friends, it will be a completely different experience!

I headed back to Dublin feeling relaxed and invigorated, ready to enjoy some more good food and tourist attractions before heading home.  Even with the crazy boy racers, Killarney had been the perfect relaxing break in the countryside that I’d been hoping for!

Have you been to Ireland?  So many people I met recommended Killarney to me, and now I see why!  Where in Ireland would you recommend going?

 

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What Would You Do If There Were No Limitations?

I used to be so limited in my thinking.  I rarely exercised my imagination, as I could see no practical use for it.  Now I see the world a little differently.  Having experimented extensively with visualization and expressing myself creatively, I have experienced the inspiration it can bring.

When you truly allow yourself to dream without limitations, you feel better in your body and clearer in your mind, and new ideas which are in alignment with your dreams may come to you spontaneously.  Taking action feels easier and less forced.

I talk more about taking action in my previous post How To Turn Life Into A Magical Adventure, but for now I want to discuss the ‘dreaming without limitations’ aspect in detail.

What would you do if there were no limitations?

How would you go through life if you knew you would live forever?  I would feel so much lighter and freer.  I would play more, explore more, and just soak up every detail.  I would feel like a fairy, sprinkling love and joy wherever I went.  Sounds like a nice way to live to me, regardless of whether or not the original assumption is true!

What if you weren’t limited by money?  I’m not just talking about being rich.  I mean, what if you could experience anything you wanted without money?  I would surround myself with precious jewels, go on amazing adventures, and spend time relaxing deeply while basking in luxurious surroundings.

What would you do if you were not limited by your body?  Or gravity?  If there were no physical limitations, I would delight in floating through space, surrounded by a dazzling array of twinkling lights.  I would move my body freely any way I wanted, enjoying the amazing range of motion.

How would you behave if other people’s opinions didn’t affect you?  Would you dress differently?  Would you join the circus, or sing to birds, or spend time living with a pack of wolves, or a troupe of monkeys??

There are infinitely many different limitations on all of us.  Some of them are self imposed, and some of them we did not consciously choose.  Do your dreams ignite that spark of magic inside you?  If not, then you may be imposing limitations of the ‘real world’ on your dream world.

The kind of dreams that give you that inner glow are the ones in which anything is possible.  You may choose certain limitations, such as a human body and gravity, so that you can have earthly adventures.  Or you may choose to experience a realm in which you have superhuman powers.

The choice is entirely yours.  Go with whatever gives you that blissful feeling inside.

Even moving a tiny amount towards overcoming our limitations is such a liberating feeling.  For example, imagining flying probably isn’t going to lead to us immediately becoming weightless and floating away up into space.  However, it inspired me to try out some arm balances today that I hadn’t done for a while, which felt awesome.

Imagining myself in a cave filled with precious jewels doesn’t make me any richer, but it does give me a renewed appreciation for the beauty of all the crystals I surround myself with, and inspires me to keep creating and working on my Etsy shop.

Dreaming of adventures led me to watch some incredibly inspiring Youtube videos about travelling in China.  I’m in the very early research stages of planning a trip there, but I’m enjoying every second of it!  Just taking that tiny step of looking online at all of the amazing things to see, and food to eat, makes me feel like the adventure has already begun!

We are always moving towards and creating new things in life.  We will have to compromise in the outer world, but we don’t have to compromise on our dreams.  If we are heading in the direction of our majestic dreams, we are sure to experience some amazing things along the way!

What are you dreaming of?

Leave me a comment below 🙂

 

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Be More Savage

If you are a ‘push through’ and ‘work hard’ kind of person, this post isn’t for you.  You don’t need to get better at tolerating pain and discomfort.  In fact, if you are in touch with your tough side, but struggle with relaxation, you may like to read my post Make Peace A Priority, as this is probably more relevant to you right now.

Disclaimer out of the way, this is my current perspective on developing an aspect of myself that has suffered ever since I stopped rock climbing, became vegetarian and took up yoga, meditation and massage therapy!

I am very in touch with my soft, compassionate, emotional side.  I am extremely sensitive, and I value this quality, but you can definitely have too much of a good thing.  I would never want to lose my ability to cry at terrible suffering, a beautiful song, or a cute puppy!  However, when my extreme sensitivity paralyses me, causing confusion and a general feeling of wanting to hide from the world, I need to call upon my inner warrior goddess.

My usual approach when undertaking physical challenges is to relax as much as possible in order to conserve energy.  This usually works really well.  I recently managed to survive an inflatable 5k obstacle race relatively unscathed, despite not having run in years!  I really dislike running, and my body was attempting to panic a little at the situation, but my yoga mindset kicked in and I was able to relax and enjoy myself.

Long walks on my recent trip to Ireland really got me though.  With blisters and aching feet, a shortage of water, and 5 miles still to walk, my sense of ease was rapidly fading.  I usually try to avoid too much physical discomfort, and treat pain as a warning signal from my body.  When I can’t escape discomfort my thoughts can rapidly spiral downwards.

Rainforest near La Fortuna, Costa Rica

This time, however, I was determined to enjoy my day, so I decided I needed to work on my mindset.  I tried visualizing being light, joyful and full of energy, but unfortunately it just wasn’t working and I kept getting sucked back into negativity.  Then I had a breakthrough.

Since I couldn’t avoid the pain, I decided I may as well embrace it.  I would be doing a lot of lying down, eating and relaxing later.  My body would have plenty of time to rest, and I could go back to being the sensitive, deep feeling creature I know and love.  But for now I needed to toughen the hell up, and be inspired by the more savage aspects of myself.

‘World’s most dangerous road’, Bolivia

I visualized ferocious, yet divine, creatures that channelled their monster like qualities into fierce unstoppable power.  I saw the absolute beauty in these savage qualities, infinitely capable of surviving the most extreme conditions.  It sounds silly, but that was the kind of energy I needed to really enjoy my experience.

I imagined my claws poised ready to tear through any obstacles, and my eyes glowing purple with pure energy.  The discomfort became fuel to my inner fire, and I felt like I could take on any challenge.

Angel Falls, Venezuela

My blisters felt like battle scars, the pain in my ankles reminded me how far I’d walked, and I thrived on feeling thirsty, hungry and tired.  It was such a rapid turn around from how I’d been feeling moments before.  The power of the human mind is phenomenal.

By the end of the walk I was feeling euphoric.  I was back in the city, and the usual anxiety I feel in crowded places was displaced by an inner strength and power I hadn’t felt for a long time.  I also no longer felt the urgency to eat immediately, or the panic about straining my muscles.  I had become ever so slightly more badass.

Mr President, a ferocious disabled little kitten we met in Morocco, was such an inspiration. He climbed up steps by doing handstands as he had no use of his back legs, and hissed at the big dogs who were scared to go near him!

My primary inspiration is still a more gentle divine being, but I loved exploring this lesser developed aspect of myself.  We are capable of infinitely many modes of being, and there is great benefit in developing sides of ourselves we may be shying away from.  Treasure is often found in the least likely places!

What are your less developed / hidden qualities?  Do you want to explore them?  If you don’t know where to begin, try thinking of mythical (or real) creatures that embody these qualities, and use them as your inspiration!  Let me know how it goes, or any other thoughts, in the comments below 🙂

 

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How To Be An Organised Free Spirit

Surely a contradiction in terms?  You value freedom and spontaneity more than air, and the thought of doing anything in a remotely organised logical manner makes you shudder with fear.  You will not be stifled, and will break out of every box you are put in.  But what about when your desire to be free becomes the trap that holds you?

When your lack of focus and clear thinking prevent you from doing the things you love, something has to change.  Do you dream of travelling the world, but never manage to save enough money?  Do you feel overwhelmed managing every day tasks like keeping your house clean, but have dreams bigger than a galaxy?

I used to love flying by the seat of my pants, and still do to some extent, but recently I’ve been burned by my aversion to planning and strategic thinking.  When I was much younger my organisational skills were excellent.  I was always the one arranging social events, and I managed my finances like a dream.  Then I got bored.  So so bored.

I rebelled a little, and I had a lot of fun!  I quit jobs and took risks.  I travelled not knowing when I would come home, or how long my money would last.  (Luckily I had all my stuff destroyed in a huge fire, so came home early with more than enough money, but that’s another story!)

Monastery in Georgia

I sent my plan of a serious career using my mathematics degree floating happily out of the window.  Unfortunately I threw away that entire side of my brain with it, and lost all structure and stability in my life.

I’ve had several wake up calls lately, which have made me realise I need to reclaim my lost skills.  One example was when I was refused entry to Panama because I didn’t have the right documentation, and was sent on a bus (in tears, I might add) back to Costa Rica with my tail between my legs.  Granted I ended up having the most wonderful Christmas at home with friends and family, but I was frustrated with myself for not being on top of my game.

The most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen, in Costa Rica, somewhere near Punta Uva in the Puerto Viejo area.

It’s one thing when a lack of focus and planning interferes with life at home, but when it interferes with my travels, and prevents me from spending Christmas on a deserted tropical island, SOMETHING HAS TO CHANGE!

I still find getting my brain in order a struggle at times, but I am learning to embrace it through a complete change in how I see ‘boring’ administrative tasks.  I have my friend Claire to thank for my new found ability to enjoy being organised.  She is the absolute Queen of planning, and often writes lists purely for the love of it!

Seeing what a positive impact this had on her life, and the fact it was more of a pleasure than a chore, made me realise that I could benefit from a different mindset.  I doubt I’ll ever go back to being the super organised girl I used to be, who had everything under control, but I don’t think I would want to.  There was a rigidity to my life that chaos well and truly set me free from.

There is such beauty in letting go, but I have come to see the beauty in organisation too.  If you can’t see it yet, I completely understand.  To a wild free spirit, structure can feel like it is literally suffocating you.  I think this comes from associating things like planning ahead and being proactive with having to do things you don’t want to do.  It doesn’t have to be this way though.

I have begun to make a new association with being organised.  Instead of feeling a sense of doom when I have to make a phone call, book a flight, or do my accounts, I associate it with a sense of peace.  Yet again, it is visualisation to the rescue for me!  (I have written MANY posts on this topic.)  Whenever I exercise my organisational skills, I see ripples of peace flowing out into every aspect of my life.  I know my mind will be just a little bit calmer because of the action I have taken, and I know that these tiny habits will compound over time.

I am passionate about peace.  It is something I value as highly as freedom, so when I saw the connection between being organised and living more peacefully, it was easy to embrace a little structure every now and then.  I am certainly not claiming to live a serenely peaceful life with everything flowing smoothly, but I have definitely made significant improvements.

Simple things such as writing a shopping list or planning my day can take away unnecessary stress, leaving my mind clear and tranquil.  This is the ultimate prize, especially for a dreamer.  The more efficient we can be at dealing with the necessary but sometimes boring details of life, the freer we are to see the magnificence of the bigger picture.

Ross Castle, Killarney, Ireland

So next time you’re struggling to get the washing up done, or lacking the motivation to get your finances in order, try thinking of it as a way of cultivating a deeper feeling of peace in your life.  Remember this while you are completing the arduous or boring task, and after you have finished feel grateful that you taken a small step in the direction of a more smoothly flowing life.

There is great freedom in floating through our days in a dreamy messy haze, embracing whatever life throws at us.  Our wild side is an asset that should never be lost.  However, when we combine it with joyfully doing the things that will ultimately make our life easier, we taste a greater freedom than we ever imagined possible.

Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Do you have a good balance of order and chaos in your life, or do you lean more towards one side?  If you keep everything in perfect order, do you wish you could let go a little?  If you always go with the flow, do you wish you had a little more control?  I’ve thoroughly experimented with both, so would love to hear from you either way!

 

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