The Language Of Loss: Giving Grief A Voice (Part 2)

The Language Of Loss: Giving Grief A Voice (Part 2)

Being an orphan is something we associate with young children, yet that’s exactly how Helen felt when she lost both her parents within three months of each other. A Canadian native with an easy smile, I met Helen a few years ago through professional circles and she’s a woman I continue to admire through her community work. She’s unapologetic for her honesty and has learned to walk in her truth, but not before acknowledging the shadow parts of herself. Her emotional layers are complex, and I feel the school of hard knocks has only strengthened her resolve and resilience.

Like Helen, her son is an only child. She says that her son has her nose, hands and feet - all the features that people say she has taken from her own parents. He also has a similar sense of humour. As much as it brings her joy to see herself in him, there’s also a tinge of melancholy because he never had the chance to meet his grandparents.

A Christmas postcard from Huaraz

A Christmas postcard from Huaraz

It’s my first Christmas away from New Zealand in almost ten years, maybe more, I can’t remember. This time of year has often been a time to recharge more than being about the “festive” season, and because my family has been scattered around the world over the years, gift giving has mostly been more about making the time to catch up or sending each other pictures of the food we had that day. You know, the simple things in life.

December has been a full on month, teaching four classes including Saturdays. I know some teachers do more, and they even study at university after their classes. It’s something I often joke about with one of the teachers, like, when does he actually sleep?

The Not So Typical Like Letter

The Not So Typical Like Letter

I actually told someone I liked them today, oh wait, does it count when you also tell them that you “used” to like them? You know, like in the past tense. Not really sure on that one.

It’s been a weird few days for me, my energy has been really up and down. My mornings, when I would normally go to the market and then make time to cook lunch, has been swallowed up by extra commitments. Falling back into those old patterns of being in the business of being busy, not eating as healthy and definitely not sleeping enough.

As I sat there watching my students frown at their exam papers, on impulse, I tore a piece of paper from my notebook. It made that satisfactory tearing sound that made you feel productive in a sea of silent tension. I picked up the pen and began to write. My hands had the usual onset of cramping that anyone who ceased to write essays in their high school years knew too well. No matter how neat your penmanship was back then, as an adult, it just looks like chicken scratches.

And The Love Kickstarts Again

And The Love Kickstarts Again

There was a guy, and I say “was” because something in my gut said that this connection wasn’t what I wanted to have in my life.

We started hanging out, you know how it goes. Then it was the little things I started to notice, like the conversation being one sided. He didn’t really ask a lot of questions about me, while I felt I asked a million about his life before Huaraz and what brought him here. Then after awhile, he only really messaged when he needed help, or feeling stressed. I became “that” friend.

What used to be a feeling of excitement when I saw him slowly faded to a point that my body had a physical reaction to avoid him. He’s not a bad person at all, far from it. Whatever I saw in him is a projection of whatever I was felt was lacking in my life. It was a sensation strong enough to manifest in my body, not through illness but the need to speak my truth.

Whatever This Is, Just Go With The Flow

Whatever This Is, Just Go With The Flow

When I was 22, I had a grand plan for my life. How many of us really knew who we were and what we wanted in our early twenties? Here’s the thing, it really is OK not to know, just as much as it is to change your mind when that plan no longer fits the person that you become. Now at 35 and living in Huaraz, Peru, that young woman’s body hasn’t changed much physically, but she’s learned that the magic often lies in trusting the unknown.

There was a lot of anxiety before coming here, and somewhat of an expectation that this journey to South America would help to give me clarity and direction for my life. It’s been almost two months since I set foot on this continent, and I learned quickly to strip away all my grand expectations of whatever this part of my life needs to be.

When You Lead From The Soul, You Find Purpose

When You Lead From The Soul, You Find Purpose

Loneliness comes not only from the disconnect with others, but most importantly with ourselves. The more I chose to listen and fulfil my needs first, the less external validation I sought. Before I left New Zealand, my friend Nyre and I had been experiencing a similar shift in our way of thinking and living. Since we met three years ago, she had been a positive influence in my life – especially with her bubbly personality and infectious smile. Then I learned that before this shift, deep down there was a need to fit in, to please others. Somewhere along the way her soul had a growing longing, craving to feel whole again. Feeding her soul became a priority, not only for herself, but also for her family.

Teaching Moments In Solo Travel

Teaching Moments In Solo Travel

This photo was a teaching moment for me – it was taken in my room at a not so pretty hostel (it was a dud). There was no keyhole on my door and to lock it from the inside was a simple slide latch and a brick I found on the floor. On the outside are two hanging screws with loops and a padlock you would use for a garden shed. Today, I’m not sure if the shower will work, but the optimist in me is hopeful.

Did I not read the reviews before booking this place? Maybe I did, maybe I didn’t. It could be that I had grown complacent in my month in Zorritos and decided to take a chance on the price. That’s irrelevant now, and to be honest I’m glad it happened early on in my travels. It reminded me to be more present in my decision making, and if things don’t go to plan, I will take it as it comes. In a few months, this just becomes another story I can laugh about.

A Man, A Plan, A Canal, Panama

A Man, A Plan, A Canal, Panama

Did you learn about palindromes as a kid? As a lover of linguistics, I often wondered if other languages had them too. Let’s be clear about this post - I’m very much still a woman and don’t worry Mum, I promise that I am in Peru. At lunch, we actually walked past a canal, and as far as plans go, this trip is really teaching me to go with the flow. Synchronicity is the Universe’ way to reassure you they’ve got your back.

Travelling has always been a transformative experience for me, usually in a phase of my life where I craved change. We are not made to stay stationary (although it may feel like that at times), and when I have resisted that, the Universe steps in, guiding me back to my purpose. When I landed in Peru on Friday, I knew this is where I needed to be honest, and I can’t really tell you why.

The Language Of Loss: Giving Grief
A Voice (Part 1)

The Language Of Loss: Giving Grief <br>A Voice (Part 1)

How differently do we feel about and celebrate the ‘firsts’ in our lives? A baby’s first steps, or their last day of high school? What about our own milestones? When someone we love, more importantly a parent, is sick or passes away, how does it change the way we see those ‘firsts’? The first day, our first birthday, even instinctively picking up the phone to share with them your good news only to realise they wouldn't be picking up on the other end.

Does it change our relationships and how we see the world? I reached out to a few friends who have experienced the loss of one or two parents with intention of giving us a greater understanding of how we can make the most of our relationships in the living years. Even though our loved ones have passed away, could we use that loss to positively impact ourselves and those we love?

How To Prepare Your Heart And Mind For Travel

How To Prepare Your Heart And Mind For Travel

People ask me everyday, “Are you excited about Peru?”

I’m so excited about traveling that my body is literally sick with anticipation. My eating habits are all whack, sleeping patterns are more like naps of doom, and don’t even talk to me about ‘the list’. It’s not like I’m getting cold feet, more like I wish this was a spontaneous trip so I can just pack my bag and disappear already.

Here’s the thing, as a frequent solo traveller, I’m used to these pre-travel jitters. You just have to ride it out and check yourself before you wreck yourself. Before leaving on my bigger adventures, there's a mental health checklist I go through to make sure that I have my heart and mind ready before flying out.