selfimage

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.

Words from a girl you know

Words from a girl you know

Conversations with tween-aged girls never really turn out like you think they would. I won’t tell you everything that they told me, but that line, about feeling ugly, it really stuck with me. Maybe because I know that feeling ugly is ageless - that insecurity can seep into your bones and even lay dormant for years.