The old man in the alley

The old man in the alley

Growing up and until my early thirties, I just assumed that I would be a mother. It wasn’t something that I felt pressured into, yet something that I somehow thought I had to be. Motherhood is such a natural part of my culture, that it never occured to me to question it. I have friends who’ve struggled with trying to conceive, and I also have friends who chose not to have children. Then a few weeks ago it hit me. Whether or not I have children of my own in the future, I know that they’ve been an integral part of embracing my purpose. No matter how much I’ve tried to walk away from teaching, I somehow find my way back to it - whether it be teaching English or dance.

Maybe I thought that having children meant that I wouldn’t be alone in my old age. I grew up in a culture where the older generation were cared for by their children, or at least younger relatives. I didn’t even know that rest homes existed until we moved to New Zealand. There, I’ve seen once active people go into rest homes and over time lose their joie de vivre, not from old age, but from feeling like they’ve been forgotten.

There’s an old man that lives in the gap between my apartment and a brick wall. It’s below my bedroom window on the first floor, so I hear him every night. Sometimes he sings, sometimes he laughs, sometimes I hear him have arguments with an invisible foe. I see him arguing with himself more these days. He’s in a permanent state of stupor but never has he been rude to me, in fact he holds the gate door open for me, especially when it rains.

Why taking a gap year in my thirties has been the best decision ever

Why taking a gap year in my thirties has been the best decision ever

If like me, you’re single and in your thirties, you’ll probably relate. I go through a cycle where I’m super comfortable about where I’m at in life - I do what I want, I’m going out and having fun and just doing me. Then,
I meet someone who either makes me rethink this whole being single thing, or it reminds exactly why I like being single.

People usually take their gap year after high school, but what happens when you get to your thirties and you feel like you’re on a raft in the middle of the ocean without a paddle? That’s why I decided to take a gap year. Sure, it isn’t the most adulting decision ever, but that space, time and permission to start over and get to know the real me again has been a real game changer. I’ve made some incredible connections and taken up new hobbies that I never thought I would, like rock climbing.

Taking a gap year in my thirties is not like a holiday, that’s the mindset I had to adapt. I knew that if I worked, I could live in Peru for at least a year. I had no plans of spending my days lying on a tropical beach somewhere - my gap year had a purpose, even if that purpose has changed somewhat throughout the months I’ve lived here. This wasn’t about taking a break from my ‘real’ life, everything that happened this year has shaped who I’ve become, as much as the memories I made in New Zealand.

Remember that you're not starting from scratch, you're starting over with experience

Remember that you're not starting from scratch, you're starting over with experience

The cackle of my laughter briefly filled the room. Two of my girlfriends were teasing me about a guy I liked - they gestured a slight flick of the hair and it triggered laughter in me that I couldn’t contain. I had been away for three weeks and today marked just my third day back in Huaraz. There was a comforting familiarity in their presence and seeing them was the icing on the cake on being home.

I had a giggle to myself as I walked home, remembering the mischievous glint in their eyes. Huaraz feels like home, it really does. I’ve begun to build a new life here, made friends, so it will surprise some people back in Whakatane that I’ll be heading back in just three months. Mind you, that’s almost a year living in Peru.

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.

Loving Yourself Isn't A Catchphrase Set In A Beautiful Typeface

Loving Yourself Isn't A Catchphrase Set In A Beautiful Typeface

Loving yourself isn’t a catchphrase set in a beautiful typeface, it’s a conscious decision to be OK with being you. Being happy despite your flaws. Feeling gratitude for all of what life offers. Embracing the lessons, especially when you did the total opposite of your mother’s advice because you thought you knew better. Best of all, it’s knowing your worth, and placing a high value on your heart. And theirs. If you want to give your heart to someone, and I mean real emotional investment, start with yourself. That means they will get the best version of you, and they can give you the best version of them.

# 25 The business of being busy

Image credit:

Image credit:


As I sit outside of L’epicerie before work, waiting for my friend Nyre, I understand now how people become overwhelmed. How I became overwhelmed. And getting caught up in the business of being busy leave little room to truly enjoy and feel grateful for the many blessings we receive.

I resisted worrying about being late for work, because I wasn’t. I admired the chalkboard artwork. They’re open for Mother’s Day. Took photos of my food. And again resisted worrying about being late for work, because I wasn’t. Today I was choosing to give myself a bit of time out. It’s hard. For a long time I prioritised my long list of tasks, meetings, and for what? Then the Universe got tired of waiting for me to learn what was actually important, which people mattered to me, so it snapped me out of it. Being busy became a drug, and it numbed me.

Addiction ruins relationships, and usually the one addicted is the last to realise the impact of their choices. Busyness was my drug, and it numbed me. You can only push the Universe away for so long, until life snaps and you’re left with emotional chaos.

Release, forgive, let go

Today I'm letting go of the guilt I feel. The guilt I feel is that first scab that you get from a day old wound. Just because you've stopped the bleeding, beneath the hardened skin is still the raw, tender flesh held in check by a thin band-aid of scab. My healing process has reached the scab stage - should I pick at it and risk scarring and more bleeding?

But swirling in that guilt keeps me in the past, in the hurt. Each day, each memory, I plan to release, forgive and let go. Today, I am letting go of the guilt.

The other side of fear

Every day is getting easier, some days still feel like I'm not waking up to my life. Like I'm a voyeur into a parallel universe, and I just want to go home. I can see two doors, one that could erase everything that happened, and I would continue to live that ok, yet secretly numbed existence. The other is a view of the present, with the future undecided. Which would you choose? A door that would erase the pain, but never address the cause?

Fear of the unknown. Isn’t that what holds us back, to second guess ourselves, to be in denial of our unhappiness? This fear manifests a hardened belief that we can survive on a bit of happiness, of some ‘me’ time when you’ve completed ten tasks on your list, to feel lonely, isolated. In the business of busyness I lost myself. Beneath the smile I was continually planning meetings, paperwork, paying bills, trying to push my body to squeeze one more second out of the day. One more bloody second.

My love for food was only surpassed by my gluttonous consumption of life.

The day shit hit the fan, was the day the Universe decided I needed an intervention. Don't ignore the Universe, because as much as it wants you to have it all, it’s an ass when it's grumpy. It beat me into humility, I cried until my eyes were raw, and I saw how messed up my way of living was. Before that day I was barely existing, let alone living.

Today I'm doing me.

What's on the other side of fear? Lots. But I can't tell you, you'll have to see it for yourself.

UPDATE 10/05/2016

P.S. I agonised whether or not to publish this several times, to delete or to save for another day. Getting these words out have served their purpose, and I am letting go, but I do hope they help someone else who may be in this situation. If I saved this for another day, I will only have to relive this moment in my life, and I don't want to. I have felt every spectrum of my emotions, and I can say I'm on my way to letting go.

One day soon I will emerge from this and fly high. Probably to a foreign land and do some more exploring.

P.P.S. I'm going to focus on getting Be The Rebel, Choose Love event ready for July, it feels right for me. Food, laughs and connections. Let's be inspired together.

# 21 Find yourself in Singapore

The view from my hotel window at the Orchard Grand Court in Singapore.

The view from my hotel window at the Orchard Grand Court in Singapore.

Every woman has several of these 'I need to find myself moments' in life, I think I've had about three so far. The most recent was when I turned 30, and in the back of my mind is the faint ticking of my biological clock, which was drowned out when I started travelling again. Children are a blessing, but for now, I still have a great yearning to experience different cultures, people and eat delicious food I didn't have to cook.

This time last year I was in Singapore too, and I experienced the Lion City as a lone traveller. Travelling alone has never phased me, as I consider myself a social person, not too reckless but still adventurous. Although, I did vow that if I was to return, it would be great to share it with someone else. So I did, but I will cover our dance camp adventures on another post.

When people talk about 'discovering yourself' or 'getting away from it all', most will think of a scenic beach on a tropical island, bathing in sunshine. Add in minimal clothing, late nights and midday sleep-ins, and if you're lucky, you won't bring home mosquito bites for a souvenir.

A band-aid of invisibility

As I waited for the red light to turn green at the pedestrian crossing, I'm surrounded by a milkshake of ethnicities, so blended it's hard to tell who are the locals, foreign workers and visitors. In the vast sea of people, I realised the pavement was my beach. In this modern Asian metropolis I felt calm in my invisibility, energised by its hustle, and surprised that the unknown excited me because it was filled with potential, instead of fear. They didn't know my story, and I didn't know theirs. This band-aid of invisibility was further helped by the fact, that although I had places to be, all my destinations were temporary. My real life, at this crossing, was at a stand-still.

I felt calm in my invisibility, energised by its hustle, and surprised that the unknown excited me...

Getaways are pattern interrupts, a great term explained to me by a business mentor. He said that people often become trapped in comfort and routine, and a pattern interrupt is a bit like a slap in the face of that routine, and gives you a chance to look at the bigger picture and gather your resources. Singapore speaks to me because they too chose to make the seemingly improbable a reality in just a few generations. It challenges my perception of what it is I am missing out because I have chosen to stay in fear.

Potential is ageless

I have always taken for granted that I don't look my age, and I probably won't appreciate it until I am well into my sixties. Because people didn't know my true age, I felt I had wound back time, and that I didn't feel the same pressure to make life altering choices as I do in my day-to-day living. Potential is ageless. Here I was taken back to my twenties, the age most people thought I was, and it felt like a chance to do it better. Years I spent being self-conscious about my body, my career, and whatever else I was disappointed at. 

Here I was back in my twenties...(sic) Years I spent being self-conscious about my body, my career, and whatever else I was disappointed at.

It takes me about a fortnight to recover from the Singapore hangover. To get back into routine and restart my life in Whakatane. I would watch videos from the camp, and wish I would be transported back. Insomnia creeps in like a ninja. Living with me at this time isn't easy, but eventually it wears off, and I see what the experience for what it is. A place to be excited about my own potential again.

You don't need to be fearless, just be brave enough

Sometimes we get caught up in the pursuit of perfection. Waiting for the perfect time, having enough money or feeling like we are 'good enough' to begin. That's just it, how do we measure these things, when we are only accountable to ourselves in finding that 'perfect' moment. You don't need to be fearless, just be brave enough to make a start. Learn as you go, ask questions, make mistakes. Live, love and travel. And eat good food.

So go forth, and conquer...start with yourself.




# 19 If you want to be treated like a queen, treat him like a king

A trip out to Bulusan, Philippines during our honeymoon in 2011.

A trip out to Bulusan, Philippines during our honeymoon in 2011.

My husband, Morgan, and I will be married five years on March 12. We've been together eleven years and our relationship has been one huge learning curve for me. During our time together we've endured a five months apart when I travelled and lived in Asia, moving in together, getting married, starting up the studio, buying a house, three dogs, and the highs and lows of living with creative person. I've crashed and burned at least twice in our relationship, and each time I saw an inner strength in him, and me, that we didn't see in our day to day lives.

This post isn't going to talk about a lot of the personal stuff, because I respect him too much for that. Instead I want to talk about what he's taught me, about relationships and how to treat myself better. What I'm about to write isn't new, a lot of it is common sense, but it's what's helped me when times got tough. 

1) He is not a possession

Jealousy comes in many forms, and I admit I've been guilty of it. Lately though I've let it get the best of me, and he's paid for it. To be honest, he wasn't guilty of anything, it was my own insecurity rearing its ugly head. You know that saying, "People don't argue about the real issues, they argue about the symptoms of those issues." Couples arguing about money - trust. Jealous about spending time with other people - loneliness." 

Morgan is a really awesome guy, socially he gets on with most people and he's genuinely kind and likes to help people. He's also patient, and he helps ground me when I need it most. I also know that he has his own mind, and trying to control him will slowly, but surely, crush the wonderful man I love. He builds me up, and I need to do the same for him.

2) Establish the deal breakers, work out the rest as you go

There's a few things that annoy me, and I'm sure there's plenty I do that he's just been too nice to say anything about. We choose our battles, because at the end of the day we don't have to agree on everything. As long as we have the same deal breakers, that's what counts.

Early on in our relationship, even before we moved in together, we had THE talk. I don't understand why people shy away from it, I mean it's not something you discuss on the first date, but if you plan to enter into a long-term relationship, don't be naive about it. Love, feeling and being in love is amazing, but you need to learn and understand who the other person is. It's as much to protect you, and the other person. To me, love doesn't keep you in a relationship - trust, respect and wanting to bring out the best in that person does.

3) Screw those romantic movies, because it won't always be pretty

Romantic movies screw up our idea of what 'love' is, and distract us from what it's like to be in a healthy, loving relationship. What I've learned most in the last eleven years is that the good kind of love shows the ugly side of us, and you work through it. We accept each other's flaws and meltdowns, as well as cherish the incredible highs of making amazing memories together.

When I have kids someday, I will do my best to pass on these life lessons - to be kind, forgiving, and see beyond the imperfections.

# 15 Someone will always be better than you, because they started yesterday, and you started tomorrow

# 15 Someone will always be better than you, because they started yesterday, and you started tomorrow

Before you preach, "Big is beautiful, love yourself." I do love myself. I am being real about all the bad food choices I've made over the years. Also there's a history of diabetes and heart conditions in my family, so changes I am making is not for vanity (because no matter how much jiggle in my middle, I still love my curves), but for my health. No matter how much dancing I do, it won't make a difference if the fuel I put in my body is crap!

#3 What it feels like to burn out

Burning out is a really scary place for me, it's happened about two other times in my life and it took a lot of time, reflection, and self love to bring me back to equilibrium. It was an internal battle that most people around me didn't know about, and when it happened the second time, at least I knew for certain, I could find my way back.

The physical symptoms are easy to describe: Fatigue, lack of appetite, short temper etc. It's the feeling of apathy that is hardest for me. When you're tired, you can sleep. When you're moody, you can meditate or just be alone for awhile. But when I have that feeling of apathy, it's this emptiness, this lack of the taste for life, which is the extreme end of who I am on a daily basis. 

The last month has been particularly busy in my life, my husband, with work, dance, the business, raising nine puppies and our dog, JC. Being so caught up in "doing" I was so emotionally stretched that at the end of the day, I had nothing left. I would wake up with a half empty tank that would grind on during the day. 

Sometimes I think filling my life with all my "doings" is a way to plug up an unresolved loneliness. A place in my subconscious that is screaming for help, that is yearning for love, but I have drowned it out with my busy life. I know a few people like me, and I see the pain. I see it because I recognise it.

Please understand that I am grateful for my life, I am grateful for my husband, my family, my work, my business, and dancing. I have a huge gratitude list, yet I still haven't found what I'm looking for (cue U2...)

I think somehow my feeling of "apathy" is my spirit's way of saying, "Slow down, wait, and take a deep breath." It washes me of the feeling of emotional responsibility, to let go of whatever I am burdened with, and bring me back to equilibrium. In my place of apathy there's no need to put on a mask, to pretend, I am just me. Then when I am ready, it slowly brings me back to the "real" world.

Have you ever felt "burned out", or come close. Share your story in the comments, or send me a message, I would love to connect.

Much love and hugs