positivechanges

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.

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.

Positive Changes Don't Always Feel Good

In early January I wrote a poem called Summer Rain - the idea literally came to me as a sudden sun shower came out from nowhere. The first verse came quick, but the rest of the poem took over two weeks to write. Or maybe, I was just scared to write with so much honesty.

Who was the poem about? An unrequited love? Not quite. More like someone who was a band aid to the bouts of loneliness I go through. Which isn’t as often, or last as long as the early days. It’s one of the few poems where I had allowed myself to be truly vulnerable, and it takes a lot for me to keep my emotions from spilling over when I perform it.