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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Celebrate Life

Whether we’re on top of the world, or in the depths of fear and despair, LIFE is the one thing that connects us all.  Even when everything is falling apart, it is impossible to deny on a logical level that life is an amazing miracle.

We may not feel like celebrating when we are in the midst of sadness or anger, but the truth of existence remains.  The material world springs from the void in all of its complexity, and our emotion is a direct experience of this.

Whether we are aged 2, 22 or 202, we have reason to celebrate.  Life is the one thing that connects us all.  Whether we are full of love and joy, or feeling disconnected and isolated, getting back to basics and acknowledging the extraordinary experience we are sharing can only enrich our lives.

Ayutthaya, Thailand

When I was younger, this desire to celebrate came incredibly naturally.  To be dancing with other souls on this sacred journey was the best feeling in the world.  All I wanted to do was soak up every precious moment.  It was completely unconscious though.  I was just a young person enjoying the party.

Fast forward a few years, I’d had several premature mid life crises, and lost my passion for such festivities.  Somewhere along the way, I’d forgotten why I was celebrating.  I experienced the other side of life, at times lost in deep sadness and isolation.  However, avoiding parties and festivals definitely didn’t help.  At least not at first.

I didn’t know what made me happy any more, so I took the time to explore my creativity and do some serious soul searching.  I discovered my values and reasons for living, and now I truly understand the importance of celebrating our existence together.

Dressing up as a badger is the best way to celebrate any occasion!

In our society, there is a tendency as we get older to let this celebratory side of us fall asleep, in favour of a quieter peace and contentment (or bitterness, anger and resentment!).  But having experienced the full spectrum of emotions, we have the chance to bring a depth to our celebration that we were previously unaware of.

Every experience feeds our soul in some way.  The more life we have lived, the more our creativity can bloom.  It is our duty to one another to share our magic.

Handmade gemstone necklaces pictured available in my shop www.etsy.com/shop/tessheaven.

Belief in various gods or a higher power unites people in other cultures, giving festivals a deeper meaning, and a reason to set aside individual egos.  However, our lack of a shared belief system shouldn’t prevent us from joining forces, and worshipping almighty LIFE together.

I think this is something we forget in our country sometimes, in favour of hedonism and obliteration.  There is definitely a place for reckless abandon, but maybe there would be less need to escape reality if we were more focused on celebrating the one thing that unites us all.  Being ALIVE!

 

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A Letter To My Fellow Solo Adventurers

This post was inspired by a good friend of mine who is moving back to Bristol soon after spending many months living alone in Cornwall, one of the most wild and beautiful parts of our country.  I recently went to visit her, and she showed me some awesome places, but also told me how she’d been struggling with loneliness.

Beach near Porthtowan, Cornwall, UK

This is an all too familiar story to me, having recently cut short my travels in Costa Rica to be with friends and family for Christmas.  Obviously I’m delighted my friend is coming home, as having loved ones around you is one of the most precious things in the world.  But I know that people like us will always crave new experiences and adventures, and sometimes this means having no one to share them with.

This letter is to myself, my friend, and the thousands of other brave souls out there living unconventional lives.

Dear Adventurer,

I know you feel like you are alone right now, but you are wrong.  I am thinking of you when you feel sad because you think the difficult path you have chosen was a mistake.  I am with you when you are admiring a breathtaking view with a feeling of melancholy because there is nobody to share the special moment.

Even when your adventures don’t feel as enjoyable as they should, know that you are still inspiring me.  I can see you with the wind in your hair out there living life, when I am wrapped up in my blanket at home planning my next escape.

When you’re worrying about your next move or trip, know that I’m here doing the same.  Planning, scheming, getting excited, and thinking ‘what the hell am I doing with my life?!’.  There are so many of us, we shouldn’t feel alone.

Monteverde, Costa Rica

I’m with you when you are gazing longingly at photos of faraway places, wondering if it is worth leaving the supportive embrace of home to take on a new challenge.  There will be struggles whether you stay or go, and know that you are not alone in this.

We are separated by time and space, but we are always together.  Next time you are at the top of a mountain, swimming in a river, or walking on a deserted beach with sand between your toes, say a quiet hello to me.

Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Sometimes we will get to experience adventures together, and these will be all the more amazing.  Our brave solo adventures have strengthened our adventurous spirits, and when we are together it is magical.

Thank you for choosing the road less travelled.  Soak up every unique detail because I want to hear about it all.  The world through your eyes is such a beautiful place, and although I will never be able to fully share your experience, the glimpses I get bring me so much joy.

Next time you are out exploring alone, remember you’re not just doing it for yourself.  Your courage helps keep the spirit of adventure alive in all of us.  Whether you’re travelling the world, or simply out surfing for the afternoon, your actions have an inspiring ripple effect, spreading an empowering message to so many others.

Baldi Hot Springs, Costa Rica

When you’re lost in the wilderness, or lost in a maze of confusion in your own mind, know that you are never ever alone.  We share the same dreams, and every step you take towards yours brings me closer to my own.  Let’s create a world where we celebrate our individual paths, enjoying the moments where we intersect, and giving each other the strength to walk sections alone.

All my love,

Tess ❤

 

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How To Turn Life Into A Magical Adventure

After many years of experimenting with different jobs, and travelling all over the world, I have discovered that location and life circumstances have very little to do with how magical my experience is.  You don’t necessarily need to make drastic changes to get back to the adventurous free spirit you were born to be.

Me being Tarzan in the Venezuelan jungle!

Taking a massive trip across the globe or starting a fresh chapter in your life may bring you a new perspective, but what I’ve found to be even more empowering is learning how to change my mindset.  External changes may occur, but they come much more naturally when I see life as the magical adventure it truly is.

Stourhead gardens, UK

To change my mindset (which I have to do on a regular basis), I follow this simple process:

1.  Get in touch with your inspiring vision.

Take some time to clear your mind.  Take a bath, or go for a relaxing walk.  Watch some utter nonsense on TV.  Go to the gym.  Do whatever it is YOU need to do to unwind.

Some people find using their imagination comes easily, but it was something that took a lot of practice for me.  Thankfully, I am now able to visualize and FEEL my magical dreams within a few seconds of focussing, but to begin with I had to dedicate a lot of time to getting in touch with the things that inspired me.

Take some time to dream.

The best way I have found to create an inspiring dream, is to let go of all limitations.  This is a DREAM.  It isn’t supposed to be realistic.  Of course it can still be something practical if that’s what inspires you.  There are no limits.  (For more on this idea, check out my post You Are Infinite.)

Your vision should ignite the spark of adventure inside of you.  I follow some amazing dancers and yogis on Instagram, and even though I’m not yet able to move so gracefully, this freedom of movement inspires my dreamscape.  I am also inspired by so many beautiful places I have travelled to, and seen on Pinterest when searching for inspiration.

Ta Prohm, Cambodia

I am inspired by sunsets and the stillness of the night.  I love wild windy days and dramatic scenery, and I love the tranquility of a beautiful garden.  Listening to music can take me on a journey deep within my soul, allowing me to experience long forgotten emotions.  All of these things, and so many more, merge to form a paradise within me that is constantly changing.

With practice, I have learned to tune into this inner landscape when I need inspiration.  This alone can improve my mood and give me more energy, but I find it to be more effective when combined with the next step.

2.  Take any action which brings you closer to the feeling of your vision.

I will use some examples from my own life to illustrate this point.  Recently, the aspect of my vision which was inspiring me the most was the vitality it evoked in me.  I saw myself moving freely with an abundance of energy, and simply imagining this made me feel more animated.  However, to really bring this quality into my life, I knew I needed to take action.

In that moment I made a commitment to being more active.  I already do a lot of yoga, but lately I’ve been focussing more on slow movements and relaxing postures.  I decided to add some fun exercise into my life to keep me feeling enlivened and joyful.  I went to a trapeze class with a friend, and have a trampolining session, roller disco and inflatable run booked over the next few weeks.

Often my inspiring vision includes scenes of spectacular natural beauty.  I will always travel to far away lands and explore amazing places, but I want to feel that connection with nature more often than my travels will allow.  Writing about my adventures and sharing photos is a great way for me to do this.  An even better way is going on mini adventures closer to home, and immersing myself in wild and wonderful natural environments.

Godrevy, Cornwall, UK

At other times I dream of the warm loving glow of a sunset.  To bring this into my life, I find ways to express my love.  This has included volunteering at a homeless shelter, becoming a massage therapist, and simple things like cooking special meals.

The action you take doesn’t need to look like the image in your mind, but the feeling should match.

3.  Overcome your obstacles.

This is the stage where we often get stuck.  If the action we have decided to take involves stepping outside our comfort zones, it can be easy to forget why we wanted to do it in the first place!  However, if we are able to trust our original vision (even if it has now changed) and follow through with our actions, we will be greatly rewarded.

If you are wavering over whether something is still a good idea, acknowledge that your vision has now changed, and you have new dreams.  You can still act on these dreams, but first honor the validity of your original vision and take action as planned.

If you are really struggling, by all means act on your new dream instead.  You will probably find your previous vision returns at a later date, asking to be brought to life.  At some point you will need to overcome the feelings of tiredness, apathy, or whatever inner struggles are preventing you from moving in the direction you want to go.

Handmade gemstone necklace and bracelets pictured available in my shop www.etsy.com/shop/tessheaven.

Overcoming obstacles is something I’m very much still in the middle of, and perhaps always will be.  However, the clearer my vision becomes, and the more I practise acting on it even when I don’t feel like it, the easier it is to work through the obstacles.

When you repeat this process over and over again, you will find that so many new possibilities open up, and your life begins to feel more like the grand adventure it really is.

What adventures do you dream of?  If anything were possible, what would life be like?  I would love to hear about your dreams and visions in the comments below.

 

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7 Ideas For Awesome Quests

The best thing about going on a quest for me, is all the awesome adventures you have along the way.  When you throw yourself wholeheartedly into your quest, you will come back with so much more than you set out to achieve.

Sometimes, when you finally reach the goal, place or object you were seeking, it is better than you ever could have imagined.  Other times you may be disappointed, or fail on your mission.  But when you look back on a quest, it is often the journey to accomplishing your goal that is the most memorable and satisfying part.

On the road in Bolivia.

Having said that, the feeling of pursuing a grand quest is what makes the journey so exciting.  You can build an epic adventure around any quest, whether it is something extremely silly, or wild and extreme.  Here are some ideas to get us started…

1.  Reach a high point of a city, country, or the world.

I recently travelled to Dubai because it is home to the Burj Khalifa, which was the tallest building in the world when I visited the observation deck at the top.  Someone may have built something taller by the time you are reading this, and I will probably be planning to scale that too!  Although going to the top of the Burj Khalifa was the main goal of my Dubai trip, the other experiences I had in that crazy city far outweighed those few moments of bliss stepping out onto the 1/2 km high viewing platform.

View from the top of the Burj Khalifa, Dubai.

Reaching Annapurna Base Camp in Nepal was another significant moment, which was part of a far more amazing trek through the Himalayas.  But you don’t have to travel to the other side of the world to reach a high point.  Find the tallest building in your city, or make it your mission to climb all the hills in your area.  It can be as simple or elaborate a quest as you desire.

Annapurna Base Camp, Nepal

2.  Go celebrity hunting.

First of all with this one, it doesn’t have to be a celebrity you have any real interest in.  It’s about the thrill of the chase!  When we discovered a certain B-list celebrity lived near our parents houses, my friends and I had a great time climbing trees and running through muddy fields trying to catch a glimpse of him.  None of us were fans (not that I’m aware of anyway!), but we still had fun with our binoculars trying to see into the blacked out windows of his passing car.  Don’t judge me for this until you try it!

Climbing a tree to get a better view of a local celebrity’s house!

It is best done with friends as a purely recreational activity, otherwise you are just a weird stalker.  Don’t take it too far and get arrested, or develop some kind of crazy celebrity obsession.  If this happens, begin a new quest ASAP!

3.  Learn a new skill.

Learning to scuba dive was the main purpose, and BY FAR the best thing about my trip to Indonesia a few years ago.  However, the gorgeous beaches, stunning scenery, amazing temples and beautiful boat trips were a massive bonus!

Ubud, Bali

My quest to learn basic conversational Spanish while in South America was (almost) fulfilled when I found myself chatting to a local in a bar in Cusco, Peru after a few drinks.  Words were just flowing out of my mouth.  The grammar was all wrong, but we managed a semi conversation.

Long bus journeys passed by in the blink of an eye, while my head was buried in my Spanish book.  It was also a great excuse to relax and watch TV with subtitles, picking up many new words and phrases.  If you make learning something new your quest, I guarantee it will bring enjoyable experiences into your life.

3.  Follow a river all the way to another town.

This is something I’ve wanted to do for a while.  Mainly because I have a terrible sense of direction and it’s hard to get lost while walking alongside a river!  There is something so appealing about the idea of arriving in a new or familiar place the same way as the river.  Plus being next to water is always so relaxing.

You could take this to the extreme and follow a river all the way to its source, or all the way out to sea.  Or you could embark upon a quest to walk its entire length.

4.  Find the oldest tree or building in your area, or further afield.

This one may involve a bit of research, but that’s all part of the quest!  I am planning to visit a really old tree with a friend soon, and it got me thinking, I wonder where the top 10 oldest trees in the UK are?  I could find out with a quick google search, but then I would probably end up on a whole new quest that I don’t currently have time for!

Amazing tree in Monteverde, Costa Rica

Going on a quest to find the oldest buildings wherever you are can be fun, even if you’re not into history.  Plus you might learn something!  Once you’ve ticked off the oldest buildings in your home country, you can go on a quest further afield to discover some amazing places.  When you approach it in this way, you may find that you are more interested in history than you first thought!

Bristol, UK

5.  Give yourself a time limit.

Not all quests need to have time limits, but it can make things more exciting!  I remember going on a quest to find an indoor rollercoaster in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  A fellow traveller and I gave ourselves an hour to get there.  We had no idea where it was, and we ended up running through the city like maniacs.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

When we eventually found it, we realised that it was far too expensive to be worth the money for us poor backpackers, and we didn’t even go on!  But we had a really fun time and an epic mini adventure.  We saw parts of the city and spoke to people we never would have otherwise.

6.  Food quests are the best.

I won’t write too much about this one, or I will make myself hungry.  I’m always hungry, and earning enough money to satisfy my gigantic appetite is a constant struggle!  If you love food, food quests are probably something you undertake pretty frequently anyway.  Just make sure you have an emergency snack with you, or the quest could turn into a hangry rampage pretty quickly.

7.  Turn a goal into a quest.

Want to save up money for your next adventure, further your studies, or start a new career path?  Whatever your goal, life is an adventure, so completing your mission should feel like a quest, not a chore.  Think about WHY you want to achieve this goal.  What aspect of it makes you feel excited and alive?

Start to re-frame your goal in a way that makes it feel like an adventure.  Dedicate a notebook to your quest, and jot down any helpful words or images that come to mind.  What will life look like when you succeed on your quest?  Focus on that, and ENJOY THE JOURNEY.  Remember that being on the quest is as much the purpose as reaching the goal.

You can never have too many exciting quest ideas… please share yours with me in the comments below!

 

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Infinity And Suffering

Before I share what I’ve been going through this week, I want to write a disclaimer.  This is simply MY PERSPECTIVE, and if another perspective feels more helpful for you, feel free to ignore absolutely everything I’m about to say.  I’m sharing this to help my future self, as well as anyone else that might resonate with the message.

I suffer with depression, and have been feeling a lot of what I deemed to be unbearable pain recently.

A few days ago I finally had a breakthrough.  There is such an emphasis on getting rid of or minimising suffering in our society, and being a perfectionist I am particularly prone to this way of thinking.

It absolutely makes sense on one level to try to eliminate painful emotions, as deep down we all want to feel happy.  However, I have found this approach to be incredibly disempowering.  Whatever the cause of our pain, thinking it shouldn’t be there can prevent us from trusting our own emotions, which can lead to all sorts of problems (believe me on that one!).

But pain has a way of creating more pain.  Logically, we want to be happy and break free from this vicious cycle.  We can feel stuck, because we want to feel better, but we realise that we don’t want to push away our emotions.

I have dealt with this seemingly impossible conundrum in various ways in the past.  Switching to focus on something positive often worked for me.  Not just because it made me feel good, but also because it showed me that perspectives existed that were different from the painful one I was experiencing.

However, there was still a part of me that silently suffered when I did this.  So other times I let it take me over.  I would sink lower and lower, until the point I realised how destructive my behaviour was becoming.  Then I would snap out of it and move back into my ‘happy’ self, banishing and denying that darker part of me.

Then recently something changed.  Over the last few years, I have been working on believing in and becoming the best version of myself.  I believe that infinite possibilities exist, and I knew that amongst those possibilities there was a ‘me’ that would deal with this better than I was in that moment.

I have used visualisation to expand myself and achieve success and satisfaction in various activities, such as singing, yoga, making jewellery, and many others.  I have also used this powerful tool to change my emotional state countless times.

This time was slightly different.  My intention was not to change my emotional state, but to feel empowered enough to contain it.  My suffering felt unbearable.  I asked myself if this could be true for my infinite self.  I had my answer.  It was not true.  My suffering was very real, but not unbearable.  As a limitless being, I could hold this suffering and not be overwhelmed by it.

This was a very useful realisation for me.  It may take years to unravel the root cause of my depression, or I may never understand it fully.  Many people are able to identify specific events in their past that explain the pain they experience.  For me it has a lot to do with being highly sensitive and dealing with this in unhelpful ways.

While I learn and develop better ways of responding to the world around me, I absolutely need to be able to bear the suffering I experience.  I need to be that infinite version of myself that neither diminishes nor becomes taken over by pain.

So in the interest of not diminishing suffering, I decided to write this post.  I share lighter things that inspire me all the time, and for me this was an inspiring experience.  It may not be as positive as a lot of the things I write about, but the theme of overcoming limitations is the same.

You may not be able to relate to my experience if you haven’t personally suffered from mental illness.  This is not a blog about depression, but I hope it helps you to get to know me a little better.  I don’t intend to make it a common topic on my blog, because travel, adventures, creativity and the beauty of nature are much more fun to write about.  But I wanted to be authentic and share some of my darker moments too, because in my experience, being open and honest about our feelings is the best policy.

These darker emotions are an important part of an infinitely bigger picture, and the more we can see ourselves as the infinite beings we are, the easier it is to experience suffering without being overwhelmed by it.

 

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Finding Your Adventure Sweet Spot

My adventure sweet spot involves turquoise water and a warm sunny place far away from home.  Or short hikes up to beautiful view points along well marked trails.  Or long days meandering slowly and getting a little bit lost amongst strange landscapes.

Fairy Chimneys, Cappadocia, Turkey

Right now I am snuggled up with 3 cats in someone else’s lovely cosy home next to a warm fire, writing about adventures.  Housesitting, at this time, provides me with the perfect comfort/adventure balance.

It has taken me a while to find the right level of adventure for me, and it constantly changes.  I used to push myself a lot further out of my comfort zone, but often found myself in situations that didn’t make me feel good.

There is a certain exhilaration that comes with surviving being stuck halfway up a cliff face while your climbing partner tells you they can’t find a way up, but this was not an experience I could keep repeating.  There are people that thrive on the epic adventures that trad climbing provides.  I am not one of them.  Give me a sunny hill walk or a scuba dive in crystal clear tropical water any day.

Gili Trawangan, Indonesia

Travelling to places where I don’t know anyone or speak the language, with no guide book, is fairly within my comfort zone.  But I have to know where to find good vegan food or I fall to pieces!  That is a step too far outside enjoyable limits for me!

I am very comfortable in the water, and love to dive deep under the sea.  Being in water is relaxing for me.  I have no fear of sharks and am a strong swimmer.  However, big waves scare me, and surfing is way outside my comfort zone.  I could be happily lost at sea for hours in a calm warm ocean, but the idea of jumping from a cliff into cold water fills me with dread!

Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Sometimes adventure finds me, like the time I lost all of my belongings in a huge fire, and was stranded in southeast Asia with no money or passport.  Or the time we got flung out of our boat on a whitewater rafting trip and I smashed my face on a rock.  Those experiences were far from my sweet spot, but have helped me realise what I want from an adventure.

White water rafting in Peru, seconds before the accident.

Sometimes an adventure for me is as gentle as an idyllic drive through the English countryside to visit a local tourist destination.  But I also love rollercoasters, travelling alone to exotic places, and wild windy days by the sea.  It isn’t so much about the surroundings or activities, as it is about the feeling I get from them.

Gold Hill, Shaftesbury, UK

The point I am trying to make with my disconnected ramblings, is that to find your adventure sweet spot, you have to let go of what you think an adventure should look like.  Adventure comes in infinitely many forms, and I have barely scratched the surface here of things I would consider to be an adventure.  Everyone is different, and our comfort zones can change every day.  What is thrilling for me could be terrifying to someone else, and boring to another person.

Write lists of possible adventures that scare you, or that you would find too stressful, and ones that are well within your comfort zone.  Use these to make a new list of ideas for potential adventures that could provide you with just the right level of excitement.

Getting lost outside San Jose, Costa Rica

Once you have some ideas, now comes the fun part… trying them out!  You may find yourself further outside your comfort zone than you intended, or you may find some experiences less fulfilling than you expected.  But over time you will get better at hitting your adventure sweet spot.

Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

The perfect level and type of adventure for you may change all the time, but chasing after it is such a worthwhile activity!  So go camping, climb a mountain, take a leisurely walk in a national park, swim in some freezing cold water, light a fire, or book a holiday somewhere warm and sunny.  Find that adventure sweet spot, or have fun trying!

I would love to hear your ideas about what makes a good adventure.  Do you need an aspect of danger, or do you prefer to feel more at ease while exploring new terrain?  Do you have a particular activity that draws you in and keeps you coming back for more, or do you love to try many different things?  Leave me a comment below 🙂

 

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