Tag Archives: nature

The Magic Is In You – Water Wonderland

This is the second in an experimental series of posts about connecting to the magic within and all around us.  You can read the first post here as a general introduction to the idea.

I have chosen water as the theme because it is the one aspect of nature I can always rely on to soothe and calm me wherever I am.

Halong Bay, Vietnam

 

The inspiration for this post didn’t come to me in the clear turquoise waters of a tropical island, beautiful lake, or river though.  It was bubbling away in the jacuzzi at my local spa.

As I sat there in a peaceful daze, visions came to me of past times I’d been happily submerged in water, in places far and wide.

Halong Bay, Vietnam

Halong Bay, Vietnam

Imagined future scenes also flashed before me, until these visions enveloped me into a water wonderland which merged with the swirling delight of my present surroundings.

I sank deeper into the hot bubbling whirlpool in a dreamy stupor, and in that moment, all of my trepidation about leaving my current life behind to go off alone into the unknown again dissolved.  I knew that wherever I was I would always have this.  I could always return to the water world of my dreams that existed somewhere between planet earth and a paradise-like realm, where water was a sacred gift from the gods.

Iguasu Falls, South America

Iguasu Falls, South America

Water Meditation

Submerge yourself in water.  It could be in a bath, a river, lake, pool, hot tub or the sea.  (I have recently discovered the joy of having a wetsuit, which means I can swim comfortably even in the freezing cold water of the UK!)  Find a safe quiet spot where you feel happy to stay for a while.  Or, if you feel calmer on the move, find an open space where you can swim slowly without being disturbed.

The main aim of this activity is to relax and connect with your own magical water dreamland.  Use the flowing quality of water to wash away any negativity in your mind and body, and feel how you become almost weightless.  Feel yourself dissolving into the water, becoming more and more peaceful with every breath you take.

Your body begins to merge with the water, your movements becoming more fluid and easeful.  You are one with the water, and realise that all of the peace and calm that the water provides already exists within you.  Allow the twinkling reflections on the surface of the water, and swirling shapes your body makes as you move, to transport you to your water wonderland.

Sunset, Barbados

Sunset, Barbados

Allow images of beautiful waterfalls, lakes, rivers and oceans to float through your mind.  Enjoy the anticipation of visiting these places, and the special memories of places you have already been.  You are infinitely peaceful, and have a deep appreciation for this precious gift.

There is no set time for this meditation.  Personally, I could spend hours in water without getting bored, but everyone is different.  When you have finished, write down a few words under the heading of ‘water wonderland’ to remind you of this experience, or collect some pictures to create a collage of dream water paradises you would like to visit.

Try to take some of this relaxation and fluidity you have experienced with you into the coming days.  Allow peace to ripple out from you in all directions, and feel like you can float through any difficulties you may encounter.

Thank you for joining me in our water wonderland, I hope you enjoyed it!  Leave me a comment and tell me about your favourite places and inspiring experiences below ❤

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The Magic Is In You

This is the first in an experimental series of short posts where I will share ideas designed to inspire us to connect with the magic of nature, and the magic of ourselves.

the magic is in you2

 

I was thinking along the lines of mini challenges, meditations and adventures, but will be adapting the format as we progress, so your feedback will be extremely helpful.

Intention is the number one thing to keep in mind when taking part in any of the challenges.  The purpose is to step outside of our regular world, and into one where anything is possible;  to rediscover child-like wonder, and become enchanted by our surroundings.  By incorporating our strong intention to see the magic wherever we are, we begin to realize that if we look for the beauty, and go calmly with peace in our hearts, the world sparkles in response.

necklaces sparkly

 

The magic is in you.

So as to let this idea settle in, our first magical experience together will be a very simple one:

Bring the idea ‘THE MAGIC IS IN YOU’ to an activity of your choice.  It could be something you already do on a regular basis, such as walking, swimming, running, sitting on the bus or meditating, or you can choose something new.  It only needs to be for about 15 minutes, but feel free to shorten or lengthen the time depending on your feeling.

For this amount of time, choose to see or feel the magic in whatever you are doing.  If you find this difficult, it may be easier to choose to be somewhere in the natural world, such as a forest or near a river, where there are lots of beautiful things to appreciate.

Vintgar Gorge, Slovenia

Vintgar Gorge, Slovenia

Slow down your thoughts, and gaze with a twinkle in your eye at whatever is around you.  Don’t label or analyze anything, just appreciate anything you find beautiful or magical, like the colours, the shapes, or the patterns of light reflecting on different surfaces.

reflections

 

If you are moving, try to make your movements smooth and harmonious.  Move as if you are completely at peace.  Move as if you are magic.  Move as if you are infinite.  If you are still, use the feeling of stillness to sink deeper and deeper into peace.

When you have finished, write down 3 good things about your experience.  These can be as simple as ‘felt relaxed’, ‘beautiful light’, or ‘fresh air’.  Feel free to be more elaborate if you are inspired.  The main aim of this part is to remember the magical things you appreciated during your experience.

The more we focus on the magic, the more it will grow.  I feel infinitely more at peace with myself since I have made this my regular practice.  I hope that it will inspire you, and fill you with joy and happiness!  Please let me know what magical things you found to appreciate in the comments below 🙂

You can find all the posts in this series in “The Magic Is In You” section of this site.

 

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Learning To Love The Rain In Slovenia

There’s a reason Slovenia is so green.

slovenia3

 

The land glistens and twinkles with freshly fallen rain drops.

Vintgar gorge

Vintgar gorge

Emerald green rivers tumble down through lush tree-lined gorges.

slovenia

 

Waterfalls appear to emerge from nowhere, like fountains, gushing out of the hillside.

waterfall slovenia

 

It was hard to tell the thick mist of spray at the base of one waterfall from the nearly constant heavy rain we’d become so used to.

The lovely staff at the hostel where we were staying kindly lent me a giant rainbow umbrella.  The bright spectrum of colours surrounded and sheltered me, filling my mind with happy thoughts, so that only the beauty filtered through.

giant rainbow umbrella, slovenia

 

Shrouded in cloud and mist, the scenery of the country was somewhat elusive.  But when the clouds parted, the magical views were all the more special.

Bovec, Slovenia

Bovec, Slovenia

Fairytale Lake Bled took on an eerie grey hue to match the sky, adding to its mysterious appeal.

Lake Bled

Lake Bled

Any traces of resistance to the weather we’d been experiencing were well and truly washed away for me when we reached the vast Soca river.

Soca river

Soca river

Unstoppable, peaceful and so powerful.  I cried out with joy as I stood on the river bank, breathing it in, letting it carry my troubles swiftly away with its dynamic yet oh so soothing flow.

soca river slovenia

 

Far from the clear turquoise water we’d seen in pictures, the sediment churned up from the heavy rainfall gave the river a very pale opaque appearance.  I found this striking colour to be just as beautiful as the amazing emerald green of the Radovna river in the Vintgar gorge.

Vintgar gorge, Slovenia

Vintgar gorge, Slovenia

Winding our way down through the ethereal gorge, we became more and more enchanted with every step.

slovenia - vintgar5

 

As we rounded each corner, a new spellbinding view opened up before us, enticing us further and further along the path.

vintgar gorge slovenia

 

The hypnotic sounds, colours and shimmer of the water soothed and energized me.  The gorge seemed to contain the swirling magic of the river, allowing us to soak up more and more of it as we followed its course.

slovenia vintgar gorge2

 

After so thoroughly appreciating all of its consequences, how could I ever complain about the incessant rain again in this beautiful country again?!

lake bled heart

 

Have you been to Slovenia?  Did it rain the entire time when you were there, or were we just lucky/unlucky?!  I would also love to hear about any times you have found the beauty in something that you’ve previously disliked.  Leave me a comment 🙂

 

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Nature Meditation

Some places are so spectacularly beautiful that we are effortlessly drawn into their magic.

Halong Bay, Vietnam

Halong Bay, Vietnam

Time seems to slow down and we feel a profound inner stillness.

Lake Titicaca, Bolivia

Lake Titicaca, Bolivia

A view can seem so surreal that it brings us a fresh perspective on life.  The whole world somehow feels more alive, and more strange!

Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu, Peru

Our surroundings interact with us and remind us that we are part of this extraordinary vision.  Contemplating a magnificent ocean view is a full sensory immersion.  The endless gentle roar of the waves, the feel of the salty sea air on the skin, and the unmistakeable smell, are so powerfully soothing.

Big Sur, California

Big Sur, California

Interacting with nature in a more dynamic way can also bring about feelings of deep peace.  The full body co-ordination involved with outdoor activities such as rock climbing, paddle boarding, skiing and surfing (along with countless others!), can really force us into a state of calm concentration and aliveness.

The adrenaline of a bungee jump or a sky dive, combined with the rushing air and amazing views can only be compared to the feeling of being the hero of a real-life computer game!  These were among the most intense natural highs I have ever experienced.

sky dive

 

Meditation was rarely my intention with these out-of-this-world experiences; but they did open a doorway for me to experience the immense beauty of the present moment.  Seen with fresh eyes, beauty appeared in details I had previously missed.  The world became so vivid to me, and I had much more appreciation for the subtle charm of ordinary things.

I realized that peace was accessible to me anywhere, any time.

Autumn leaves

A tiny patch of land where nature is allowed to flourish, 2 minutes from my home in the UK.

If  we make it our intention to deepen our sense of peace and connection to the world around us, a walk in a local park can be as magical as visiting a more dramatically beautiful place.  It may not have such a powerful impact, but if we allow its gentle beauty to permeate our being, the effect can be just as profound.

If you open your heart to the beauty of the present moment, you will be rewarded.

Whether you’re taking a peaceful stroll in nature, sitting quietly in your garden, or swimming in the ocean, consciously connecting with the magic of your surroundings will deepen the feeling of peace you experience.  The benefits will continue throughout your day, and beyond.

So my challenge for you today is to become one with the subtle magic of the present moment.  Give yourself a minimum of 5 minutes to deepen your bond with a natural environment or a particular aspect of nature.  It could be as simple as contemplating a beautiful flower or leaf, or gazing up at the vast open sky.  Or if you have more time, climb a hill or follow the path of a river.  There are endless possibilities.

beautiful flowers

 

Just remember that your intention is the most important thing.  When you combine a strong intention to nurture your bond with nature and feel peace in your heart, with a simple action that is in alignment with the intention, you will find that you create a new magic all of your own.

How do you connect with nature?  What magical moments have inspired you?  Leave me a comment below and share your wisdom 🙂

 

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You Are Infinite

Our lives are ruled by our beliefs, and what we believe about ourselves often becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.

I am infinite.

Choosing to believe this one simple thought has led to a complete turnaround in my day on countless occasions.  Over time, these days are adding up to a big improvement in my life.

When your confidence takes a knock you probably have a hard time believing you’re capable of washing the dishes, let alone anything more complicated.  But luckily, you don’t need to justify it.

All you need is your imagination.

Ubud, Bali

Ubud, Bali

Whenever you experience difficulties in life, remember the power that lies within you.  No matter what your situation, you always have had, and always will have, the potential within you to create magic.

Raw citrine crystal necklace from my Etsy shop.

Raw citrine crystal necklace from my Etsy shop.

This power has nothing to do with your past achievements or external circumstances.  It depends only on your ability to let your mind gravitate towards the things that light you up inside.

It is the power of the imagination that makes us infinite.  Our imagination is far greater than the sum of all our experiences.  We have the ability to draw inspiration from our past, and dream up new worlds which build on these magical moments.

Magical moments - beautiful pagoda on the Yen river, Vietnam.

Magical moments – beautiful pagoda on the Yen river, Vietnam.

You may not be where you want to be just yet, but you still have the capacity to appreciate beauty and feel peace in the here and now.  You can create something beautiful with what you already have, and you can share that with others.

 

When a magnificent scene of natural beauty takes your breath away, know that you are only able to feel its magic because it resonates with the magic inside of you.

Iguacu Falls, South America

Iguacu Falls, South America

If a vision truly resonates with your soul, the possibility exists for it to become real.  Even if you have temporarily lost faith in yourself, a true heartfelt desire holds the power to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Sometimes self belief can be the hardest thing in the world, especially when doing something outside of our comfort zone.  When we don’t have a solid track record of success to inspire confidence , our strength lies in tapping into our imagination, our passion and our dreams.

Himalaya sunrise

A dreamy Himalayan sunrise. Photo taken from the top of Poon Hill on the ABC trek.

These dreams and visions are a core part of who we are.  To have imagined them they must be within us, and when you realize that you start to see yourself in a much more expansive way.  If we can dream of such beautiful things, we must have this beauty inside of us.

To see an improvement in any area of your life, the image you hold of yourself is often the most important thing you can change.  (I talked about this in my earlier posts It’s Not What You Do, It’s How You Do It and The Super Power Of Visualization.)

Any time you doubt your own ability or feel fearful about something, try asking yourself:  “What would infinite/magical/superhuman (insert your name) do?”  Then do that.

It feels kind of silly at first, but I promise you, once you get into it, you’ll start to notice a real difference in how you feel and the way you approach tasks.  It may not always be easy to make the leap from feeling incapable and scared (I’m talking from personal experience here!), to visualizing an unlimited, elevated version of yourself… BUT IT IS POSSIBLE.  Just keep practising!

If you’re ready for a bit of practice, check out my post How To Create Your Own Heaven.

 

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Citizens Of The World

I am inspired by visions of beauty all over the world,  from striking real life Indian goddesses amidst stunning temples,

Vittala temple complex, Hampi, India

to prayer flags lining paths through remote villages in Nepal.

On the way to the start of the Annapurna Base Camp trek in Nepal.

On the way to the start of the Annapurna Base Camp trek in Nepal.

I am inspired by the love of life and welcoming attitude of people everywhere I go, from the kindness of countless strangers across the globe, who have cooked me delicious meals, performed impromptu traditional dances, and shared the joy of singing and playing music together…

Men dancing in Amed, Bali.

Men dancing in Amed, Bali.

… to the lovingly cultivated celebration of nature that is my parents garden.

roses in garden

 

I am reassured to find that wherever I travel in the world, despite the cultural differences, people all have the same underlying appreciation for, and desire to celebrate and honour, this precious life.  From elaborate man made religious buildings with a hint of nature…

Ubud, Bali

Ubud, Bali

to the more subtle yet absolutely awe inspiring Gergeti Trinity Church, Georgia, dwarfed by the dramatic landscape that surrounds it.

Gergeti Trinity Church, Kazbegi, Georgia

Gergeti Trinity Church, Kazbegi, Georgia

I take pieces of these people, places and things with me and weave them into the wonderland of my imagination.  I hope that the things I create will inspire joy in those around me, just like the things that inspire me touch my own heart.

Necklaces from my Etsy shop.

Necklaces from my Etsy shop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Only Time I’ve Ever Really Enjoyed Swimming In FREEZING Cold Water

I LOVE water.  I can honestly think of nothing better than being outdoors, fully immersed in water.  A lot of the time I love it too much to even swim, and prefer to just gently bob up and down basking head to toe in the perfection of it.  I like to take my time, allowing the motion of the waves or current to wash over me and bring me back to the present moment in the most easeful way possible.

Crane Beach, Barbados - now that's what I call water!

Crane Beach, Barbados – now that’s what I call water!

I’ve been lured in by icy cold rivers, lakes and oceans (OK maybe not icy, but definitely chilly) on more than one occasion.  I’ve always felt refreshed and enlivened afterwards, but have very very rarely enjoyed the actual time in the water.  Colder temperatures just don’t really suit my preferred style of bathing!  However, there was one exception.

One summer’s day a group of friends and I took a trip to the forest in south Wales to visit some beautiful waterfalls.  We walked up the steep path alongside the river which winds and cascades down between the trees.

"Sgŵd Uchaf Clyn Glyn - geograph.org.uk - 70655" by Nigel Davies. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sg%C5%B5d_Uchaf_Clyn_Glyn_-_geograph.org.uk_-_70655.jpg#/media/File:Sg%C5%B5d_Uchaf_Clyn_Glyn_-_geograph.org.uk_-_70655.jpg

“Sgŵd Uchaf Clyn Glyn – geograph.org.uk – 70655” by Nigel Davies. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sg%C5%B5d_Uchaf_Clyn_Glyn_-_geograph.org.uk_-_70655.jpg#/media/File:Sg%C5%B5d_Uchaf_Clyn_Glyn_-_geograph.org.uk_-_70655.jpg

The area is actually known as ‘Waterfall Country’ due to their abundance here.  From the high impressive curtains of water that you can walk behind, to the smaller but equally magical falls that tumble into crystal clear pools throughout the rocky gorge, there was no shortage of inspiration for every water lover!

I knew the water would be cold.  It had been a glorious summer and I’d been fortunate enough to swim in some beautiful outdoor spots in the UK a few times already that year.  On the hottest day, in much slower moving water on lower ground, I had found it pleasantly cool.

I thought back to my first outdoor swim of the year.  It was a blazing hot day, and we’d gone to a popular swimming spot at Claverton, near bath.  It was during the week and most people were in work, so we were delighted to find that we practically had it to ourselves!

The beautiful river at Claverton, on a slightly busier sunny day.

The beautiful river at Claverton, on a slightly busier sunny day.

The water was deep, dark and murky, but the lush green plants that surrounded us provided a strange sort of comfort.  It was impossible to feel in any way uneasy about what lurked in the muddy depths of the river whilst we were in the loving embrace of the verdant life that flourished there.

Birds sang, insects hummed, and the river washed over us.  It was an alien situation, and yet it felt so familiar.  The aliveness of the habitat I found myself in resonated deeply within my body, waking up a part of me that slept during the time I spent in the clean modern artificial world.

The water at this idyllic spot in Claverton wasn’t warm, but it was in a completely different league to the piercing cold of the Welsh waterfalls.

"Neath Waterfall". Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Neath_Waterfall.jpg#/media/File:Neath_Waterfall.jpg

“Neath Waterfall”. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Neath_Waterfall.jpg#/media/File:Neath_Waterfall.jpg

I was excited to plunge into the deep pool that had been carved out by the gushing torrent of white water, but I was expecting it to be fairly unpleasant!  I hurriedly tip-toed across the mossy rock – I was partly anticipating the exhilarating thrill, and partly eager for it to be over!

The waterfall was a modest size, but its power was undeniable.  As I got closer excitement took over.  It must have been the way the water hurled itself over the edge of the rock without hesitation that encouraged my unusually wholehearted approach to the experience.

I launched myself in without a second thought.  I was vaguely aware of a slightly painful tingling sensation in my skin, but the sheer joy of being engulfed in this bubbling cauldron far outweighed any discomfort I felt.  It was like being in a huge, natural, extremely vigorous jacuzzi!

By Ulybug from London, UK (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Ulybug from London, UK (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

My friend went and stood directly under the roaring torrent of water.  I wouldn’t have thought it possible to withstand that kind of force, but he seemed fine so I joined him!  It was a crazy kind of power shower that left me gasping for breath and laughing hysterically.

A very quick dip is all I usually manage in colder water, but this lively waterfall pool lured me back in for more.  I happily soaked up its invigorating energy, my senses fully absorbed and my whole body buzzing.

I realised that I was ENJOYING myself, and the novelty of this fact made me even happier.  It was a bizarre experience for me to be in freezing cold water and ecstatically happy at the same time.  Eventually I did have to drag myself out of there before I lost all feeling in my limbs.  I felt amazing, fully charged by the waterfall’s power, if a little battered about!  That was one swim I wouldn’t be forgetting in a hurry!

After such an intense start, I floated through the rest of the day in the Welsh woodlands with a warm inner glow, matching the outer warmth of the golden sunlight that filtered down through the trees.  We lay on the grass, did handstands against tree trunks, laughed, chatted, strolled and ate.  It was marvellous.

Are you a mermaid/merman too?  Have you had any unusual outdoor swimming experiences?  Leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear your stories!

 

 

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From Heavenly Heights To Troglodyte Life in Cappadocia, Turkey

Suspended high in the air over the ‘fairy chimney’ rock formations and magnificent valleys of Cappadocia, everything was still.  The soft light of sunrise sprinkled its magic across the land, and we stood in the basket of the hot air balloon, packed in like sardines, in silent awe.  It was my first hot air balloon ride, and although I’d been paragliding before, and taken more flights than I care to remember, the splendour of rising up into the sky in this way was truly unique.

Cappadocia, Turkey

 

It was every bit as glorious as I’d imagined it would be, with an added element of fear that I’d not expected.  Our pilot skillfully guided the balloon perilously close to the weird and wonderful rocky peaks, skimming the basket past them with what felt like just millimeters to spare.  The landing site was interesting too, a tiny flat grassy area surrounded by sloping terrain and rocks.  We all breathed a sigh of relief when we touched down safely.

The relief was short lived though, as we began to float up into the air again without our pilot who had already hopped over the side of the basket!  I was ready to jump out, but quickly realized we were securely tethered and breathed a second sigh of relief.  Once we’d actually landed I stamped my feet on the earth a few times just to make sure!

Rose Valley

Rose Valley

With my new found appreciation for the ground beneath my feet, I enjoyed a long trek through the valley, keen to explore the territory in greater detail.  I set off with plenty of water, legs full of energy and a heart full of excitement.  I wanted to find the most impressive collection of fairy chimneys, but instead of checking a guide book I confidently marched off down a track which seemed to go in the right general direction.

I ended up, several hours later, exhausted, lost and very hot.  I’d run out of water and had shoes full of thorns, but I felt so happy!  I had no idea how I was going to find my way back, but I knew that I would.  My calmness amazed me.  I put it down to the silence of the valley and the steadiness of the pale golden rocks that seemed to watch over me.

The next day I stumbled upon the particular collection of fairy chimneys I’d been searching for, having absolutely no idea how I’d managed to miss them!

Fairy Chimneys, Cappadocia

 

Despite there being quite a few other people wandering around, taking photos and soaking up the scenery, it felt eerily quiet.  There were plenty of times when I found myself completely alone amidst the staggering rock formations.  It was like being in a Bond movie, but instead of an enemy stepping out from behind a pillar to shoot me with a gun, it was a tourist with a camera!

I’d come from the sprawling mega-city of Istanbul to the sleepy town of Goreme in Cappadocia, and it had taken me a little while to adjust to the change of pace.  I thought back to the day I’d arrived there and had hiked up out of town to a viewpoint to watch the sunset with some fellow travellers who’d been on the road for a really long time.

Goreme, Cappadocia

 

My companions were so relaxed and content, quietly absorbing the last few rays of warm light as the sun slowly disappeared behind the horizon.  I smiled to myself at the memory, realizing I was now in that same mode, inevitably harmonized by my immersion in this wonderful landscape.

Goreme, Cappadocia

 

Even in the town it was impossible to feel disconnected from the land, as many of the buildings are carved into the rock.   The guest house I stayed in was a ‘cave’ house.  It was more basic than some of the ‘cave hotels’ you might see pictures of, but you still got the full troglodyte experience!  I got a great night’s sleep there every night due to the silence and dark offered by my cave room, and it even had a pool to lounge by, for when I eventually emerged into the light.

I don’t think I could take to the cave life on a permanent basis, although it does have a certain appeal…

Cave house, Goreme

 

… But my time in the fairyland of Cappadocia certainly left me recharged, relaxed and ready for my next Turkish adventure!

Thank you for reading.  I would love to hear about your experiences of Cappadocia, or any other fantastic natural wonders of this world.  Or just leave me a comment to say hello, it’s wonderful to meet fellow travel/nature lovers.

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Why I Travel

Travelling brings me a sense of wonder, awe and enchantment.

Varanasi, India

Varanasi, India

When my only objective is to explore, I am in the present moment and everything feels ALIVE. I slow down and absorb every detail of my surroundings; the colours, the smells, the sounds and the FEEL.

Scene from window of train just outside Cairo, Egypt.

View from window of train just outside Cairo, Egypt.

With fresh eyes I see beauty in everyday scenes that, in familiar surroundings, I would likely pass by without a second look.  I am mesmerized by the most ordinary aspects of life in a foreign land.

Travelling teaches me to find contentment in the here and now; not waiting for anything, just living fully and completely.

As well as the magic experienced in the simple things, there is the profound impact of experiencing nature in all of its immense glory.

Iguacu Falls on the border of Brazil and Argentina.

Iguacu Falls on the border of Brazil and Argentina.

There have been moments I will remember forever, and places that stir up ancient memories that surface from deep within.  Memories that don’t belong to this life, but to a time when a connection with nature was ever present.  Now, during precious moments in a contrasting age of separation, the beauty of this bond can be perceived.

Often when I’m travelling, unexpected situations lead to the most wonderful experiences.  When the stifling heat in Marrakech forced us out of our bedroom to sleep on the roof of our hotel, I had no idea it would be so nourishing and inspiring.  Calls to prayer reverberated around us from all over the city, coming together with the dark night sky and thick warm air, to form a protective blanket around us.  Magic was quite literally in the air.  I woke up with the sun, a new person, with clarity about my path in life.  I knew what I valued and vowed to live more in harmony with this great force of peace.

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

I have shared so many extraordinary experiences with special friends, old and new, knowing that we felt the same joy.  Travelling with good friends, spending 24 hours a day with them, dissolves all social boundaries and leads to spectacular amounts of fun.  These times have brought me so much happiness, and to begin to describe them here would turn this short post into a novel.

Along with this peace, wonder, contentment and connection with nature, travel provides the opportunity for something that is even more valuable to me.  Adventure.

I sometimes suffer from quite debilitating anxiety.  If it weren’t for my love of adventure, my mental state could be a LOT worse than it is now.  I still have my struggles, but knowing all the crazy things I have done (and survived!) really helps when I’m having a crisis of confidence.

I’m not what you might call a dare devil.  I have a healthy amount of caution, but my desire to experience new and exciting things has put me in some pretty hairy situations on more than one occasion.  I could do without adventures like being stuck halfway up multi-pitch rock climbs, or escaping The Great Fire Of 2012 in Laos; but they have taught me how much I can actually cope with.  I’ve overcome my fears sky diving and bungee jumping, and survived many a minor accident while testing my boundaries white water rafting, handstanding in inappropriate places and riding mopeds on potholed roads.

White water rafting in Peru, just before we flipped over and smashed my face on the rock!

White water rafting in Peru, just before we flipped over and smashed my face on the rock!

These things are all great learning experiences (some more fun than others!), but it’s the feeling of limitless possibility that being out of my comfort zone brings me that keeps me coming back for more.  Whether I’m looking out over a new city from a tall building or viewpoint (one of my favourite activities), trekking through beautiful unknown landscapes, or pushing my physical and mental limits, adventure to me is about possibility.  That is what I find so exciting.

When I do something out of the ordinary, I experience a feeling of expansiveness, and I know that there is so much more to explore and do.  I know that I am capable of so much more than I thought I was, and my heart longs for the next adventure.

View from the Baiyoke Sky Hotel, Bangkok

View from the Baiyoke Sky Hotel, Bangkok

 

 

 

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Hampi- An Enchanting Indian Wonderland

When I think back to my time in Hampi, in southern India, I get a warm fuzzy feeling inside.  It has so much heart.  Not the kind that knocks you over with its power when you arrive, but more of a gentle glowing that washes over you without you really noticing, until you’re feeling better than you have done for a long time and don’t know why.

Hampi was a world away from the chaotic towns and cities that we’d spent much of our time exploring.  A land of giant boulders and stunning temple ruins, with the most beautiful intricate carvings that tell enchanting stories.  The pace of life was leisurely, the air was hot and dry, and the landscape was barren yet alluring.

 

We were drawn to Hampi by the prospect of climbing the huge granite boulders, although once we were there the combination of the heat and relaxed way of life meant that I did more sitting on boulders, gazing at magnificent sunsets, than climbing on them.  But that didn’t matter in the slightest because my time there was perfect.

 

We had to wait until sunset to climb to avoid the blazing heat of the day.  I made it to the top of a few boulders and then sat, perfectly content, soaking up the warmth radiating from the rock.  The landscape looked less arid in the gentle evening sun.  The rocks took on a pinkish tone and the sparse patches of vegetation stood out against them, a deep rich shade of green.

The rest of the time we sheltered from the intensity of the sun in laid back restaurants with low tables and cushions on the floor, or wandered around the majestic temples.  Indian tourists outnumbered the foreigners, although there were plenty of both visiting the temples that had been built hundreds of years ago from the rock that surrounded us.  It was easy to find quiet spots to admire the architecture amongst the sprawling temple complex though.

 

We rented mopeds to navigate the local area and found ourselves at a nearby lake.  It was just us, the lake and the boulders.  The water was cool and refreshing, and it was amazing and slightly eerie to have the whole area to ourselves.  Other days we explored the ruins in the surrounding area on foot, walking far enough away from the town that our only companions were the goats that grazed on the land.

 

Hampi was the perfect mix of leisure and activity.  By the time we left I felt completely rejuvenated and ready to rejoin the mayhem of travelling through extraordinary India.

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