Hasta luego Huaraz!

Hasta luego Huaraz!

“Make sure you come back!” That’s what most people have told me these last two weeks. I’ve made friends here, and Huaraz does feel like home. As much as I’m excited for my month off work and traveling, in the back of my mind it feels like a dry-run for when I have to leave Peru for real in September.

My bus will leave in a few hours, I’ve never really done the backpacking thing. Even though I have a list of what I want to see in the south of Peru, I also have a flexible itinerary. That’s both exciting and slightly out of my comfort zone. Who am I kidding? It’s going to be a month of incredible memories!

Finding my bliss - the incredible gift of giving back to myself

Finding my bliss - the incredible gift of giving back to myself

Everyone has their catalyst story - when we look back at that time of our lives wondering if this was all we were meant to do, meant to be. Here’s the fascinating thing I’ve learned in my most recent introspection, I wasn’t necessarily unhappy with how my life was going. Although I was doing and being what I wanted to be before my own ‘a-ha’ moment, I wasn’t living a life that was soul-enriching either. You see, not everyone has to be at their lowest of lows to ask that question - is this it?

The woman behind these words can say honestly say how grateful she is for what pushed her to walk in the unknown. To discover and learn from the shadow parts so that she can appreciate and feel joy from within. In this chapter of my life, I know I’ve found my bliss.

For me, knowing and living my bliss is about letting go. To live from a grateful and abundant mindset and most of all, to be honest about who I am.

Hike. Eat pizza. Repeat.

Hike. Eat pizza. Repeat.

I lay on my bed while using my fingers to count how many months I’ve been in Peru. Seven. Almost seven months. It’s only 7am on a Saturday morning - I close my eyes again and ten minutes go by. April is my birthday month. Just a few days after my 36th birthday, I hope to gift myself a day on top of a glacier. I have set my sights on Mateo, a moderate terrain that can be climbed in a day. It’s towards the tail end of the rainy season, so I’m optimistic that we’ll have a mint view.

That reminds me, I also need to set aside a day or two to go rock climbing with Guido before I go on holiday in May. I tried it for the first time a couple of weeks ago and I saw a shift in me. I think that goes hand in hand with trying anything hard, right?

It took me two goes to get up what they called a “really easy rock”. On my second attempt and while halfway up the rock face, I began to hear those familiar internal tapes of doubt. I looked down at him and yelled, “What do I do next?” He smiles and yells, “Keep going up!” I laughed. And climb I did. I was pretty proud of my effort that day.

Will you be my Galentine?

Will you be my Galentine?

I started writing this amidst loud sighs and pensive faces (plus a few sneezes), that’s right, it’s Valentine’s Day and my students are spending an hour and half with me to sit a not so romantic exam. There’s the promise of chocolate at the end of it, plus an extra for someone who delivers the best short speech. I hold great admiration for all the students I’ve taught during my three months teaching English in Huaraz. It’s like every cycle (a cycle lasts a month) I get a small glimpse into their world, then after two months I’m moved to teach different class and I start all over again.

There’s usually time before classes to talk to some of the other students while they wait for theirs. It’s taken awhile for most of them to realise that I’m a teacher, and not a student. I’ve started to say hello, even if their level is basic, those short interactions gives them the chance to practice and they seem to enjoy it. Personally, the best part of teaching has always been about seeing students bridge the gap. For some it’s slow and steady, and for others it’s like a growth spurt.

In the pursuit of joy, remember, you are enough

In the pursuit of joy, remember, you are enough

I heard my voice on the podcast and it felt surreal to listen to her talk about the life I had just six months ago. Just as I am now, at the time of the recording I was riding a wave of optimism as I was getting ready to take that leap of faith. We’re only into the second month of 2019, and I can honestly say that this year feels totally different. It feels lighter, more peaceful and full of possibilities. In a few days, I’m taking a step towards a goal I set for myself last year. Does it make me weird to be excited about stepping into the unknown?

Often people ask how I can do all the things I do. Like solo travel, to follow my passions, you know, basically be me. My answer is simple: Be one step ahead of the fear and the rest you’ll figure out along the way. Stop comparing my progress to others, because if I wanted what they have, am I willing to do the work to get there? You see, you are energy, feed your passions, be kind and let go of judgement. The rest are just details. And yes, you are enough.

Before I dive right into you

Before I dive right into you

I had brunch with a guy on Sunday, and what was meant to be just a breakfast sandwich turned into a four conversation. And pizza. Oh and juice - who knew mango and basil is a great combination, right? Really refreshing.

He sat at a table in the shade, there was no one else at the cafe so he was easy to spot. His dimples were unmistakable too, I liked it when he smiled. It can be a bit awkward meeting someone for the first time, and I found myself talking faster than usual. When I realised this, I took a deep breathe and relaxed, and that’s when conversation flowed.

There’s that word again, flow. Lately it’s been popping up regularly on my social media, in conversations with people and sometimes, even at 3am when I’m bed. It asks me to look at my life in a way I’ve never seen it before. So, what does it mean to go with the flow?

It starts with walking in my truth, hand-in-hand with the weird part of me that kind of hides away in the corner in social situations. Especially in Peru - where I’m both free to be who I am, yet still feeling my way through an introverted culture. There are times when I feel too loud, too energetic - sometimes even too independent.

Ciao 2018! Thanks for the lessons on life and men who love pizza

Ciao 2018! Thanks for the lessons on life and men who love pizza

Choices and making them isn’t something I paid much attention to. A lot of the time I’ve just winged it and in some ways it’s served me well. I mean it got me as far as Peru, right? Then this big shift happened and it changed the way I saw myself and everything that was around me. What if my future isn’t something that happens on the other side of sleep, because that “future” is happening right now.

We’ve heard it all before, and it answers to different names. Someday, one day, could have, should have...even tomorrow. A lot of 2018 for me was spent in retrospect about the last two years, and how I was convinced that I “had to heal myself” to move on. Then I realised that each time I chose to do things that made me happy, to love myself more, it was greatly influencing the life I was creating for myself. When you let go of judgement (both of yourself and others) it asks you address the last emotional triggers that keep you from flying.

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.

An Eclectic List Of What Makes Me Happy

An Eclectic List Of What Makes Me Happy

I went out last night, and spent most of today napping between my bed and the couch. Confession time - I gave up drinking over ten years ago, so I couldn’t blame it on a hangover. Oh, and I also went home earlier than the others (I was in my snuggly PJs by 1am). I reheated my leftover nachos mince for lunch (my first meal of the day), and since I had no plans to move much today, I made the executive decision that I could procrastinate going to the supermarket for another day.

If my Mum is reading this, yes I did get out of bed long enough to feed the cat. Since no human life depended on me that warranted staying out of bed, I embraced the Italian philosophy of ‘Dolce far Niente’, which means ‘the sweetness of doing nothing’. It doesn’t mean being lazy, it refers to the pleasure you get from being idle.

You can say that this is an eclectic collection of thoughts and musings of what I’ve learned about life and love over the last two years. Here’s to the old me, who I am today, and the adventures yet to come...let’s drink to that!

There She Goes - Getting Ready For The Jump Off

There She Goes - Getting Ready For The Jump Off

The rain has stopped, and the house is really quiet. Except for my music - it feels like the world’s asleep and it’s not even 10pm. I’ve spent most of today on the couch, so maybe I’m trying to feel productive in what’s left of today. Hiking 18km in the Pakihi beats my usual leg day session. Today I chose to rest, plus I was sore.

What’s on my mind tonight? Nothing heavy, just reflecting I guess.

You can say that for every ending there is a beginning. Awhile back when I got the letter in the mail, I marked the date on my phone: Monday July 16, 2018. If you’ve been following my journey, you can probably figure out what was in that letter. I thought I would be sad, but really I felt more relief than anything, this was it, the sign from the Universe that really, it’s time for me to move on.

Out Of My Comfort Zone - Walking The Talk At Toastmasters

Out Of My Comfort Zone - Walking The Talk At Toastmasters

I don’t talk about that part of myself a lot often because being vulnerable is hard for me. These last few weeks I’ve been really struggling with my confidence, which I have kept hidden. When you begin the process of emotional purging (which has really stepped up lately) you begin to question everything about yourself - and all you believe that is solid gets a shake up too. It can freak you out, like I did, because what I thought was certain is now up in the air.

“Oh gosh breathe girl, just breathe.” That’s what I kept telling myself, because I didn’t want to quit. I was embarrassed, yes, but I worked too hard to just sit down for the rest of the meeting. The irony of the moment didn’t escape me - my speech was about how Toastmasters was teaching me to help others step out of their comfort zone. I had to make the choice to now walk the talk.