When I was in my early 20s, I discovered a huge sense of freedom. I went to uni, escaping the troubled and turbulent times of my teens and opening my mind to the vast range of opportunities there were just waiting for me to uncover them. I became passionate, political, and interested in the world around me. I met people I never would have met in the small town where I was from, and I started to see past the sadness that had engulfed me after my main care-givers, my grandparents, had passed away leaving me living alone aged 16, to a world that I could participate in and maybe even change for the better.
After graduating I lived in Italy, Australia, New Zealand and SE Asia, travelling, exploring, volunteering and working. I discovered a deep passion for scuba diving, a freedom in having no plans, no ‘to do’s’, and an incredible sense of spaciousness and wanderlust. These were glorious years. But they weren’t without their troubles. Most of my travelling I hadn’t planned for. I went to Australia for a 3 week holiday, with full intentions to return to England, move to London and enter stage two of an interview process I had begun before leaving. Within 2 weeks of being there, I had a strange feeling – it actually felt like a tugging to come home, not through any homesickness but an impatience to get my career started, to get working. However, by week 3, my final week of my holiday, the tide completely changed.
I remember sitting on this beautiful beach in Western Australia. I was on my own, although the beach was relatively busy, with people enjoying the setting sun and the cooling warmth of the Australian winter (which to my Cornish skin felt like the height of summer!). I was sitting, listening to the birds screeching, feeling the warmth on my skin and I was thinking about how far away from home I felt. How far anyway all the sadness and trauma of all I had lost by the time I was 18, from the death of my mum when I was aged 2, to losing my Nan and Grandad, pet dog and family home within the space of a couple years. I felt so far away from home. And I thought to myself, I can’t go back.
I wasn’t feeling sad, or lonely, or scared when I had that thought. I just knew that the physical distance I had between that beach in Western Australia and the UK was giving me something. I didn’t know what at the time, but I knew I had to stay. It turned out that the physical space was giving me the chance to heal.
That was the start of one of the best years of my life. I ended up travelling up to Broome, endless days with nothing but desert on one side and glimmering blue ocean on the other, onto Darwin with its oppressive heat and strange mixture of Japanese businessmen, pearl divers, tourists and rednecks. From Darwin to Uluru, from Uluru to Sydney, and then, 8 days after leaving the 30 plus degrees heat of Darwin, arriving to 8 degrees of winter in Christchurch, New Zealand. No winter clothes, barely any money, and no knowledge about New Zealand whatsever. But there none the less.
After a somewhat cold and disorientating start, the 9 months I ended up spending in New Zealand saw me make incredible friends, some of whom are still my dearest friends today. Hell, I even met my boyfriend through one of my NZ buddies, years after we’d both returned to the UK. I met people who I realise now were hugely influential in putting me on the path to yoga, even if they were only in my life for a few days, and an incredible amount of healing took place on those empty roads, those magnificent mountains, and the breathtaking beaches. I had found space.
When I returned to the UK, it was as a different person. I had experienced what it was like to truly breathe, to let yourself just be, and more than just be – to let yourself be happy.
This was ten years ago now, and I still looks back to that time when I need inspiration, courage, faith and to remember that when you leap, the net will appear. We can’t get the net ready, we can’t test it out a couple of times to check it works – we have to take the leap with trust, courage and conviction in our hearts.
Can you remember a time when you’ve had to be brave? When you’ve taken unsteady steps in a new direction without knowing what the hell was going to happen? Or have you always played it safe, staying in the comfort zone? At some point life gives us chances to take massive leaps forward and I hate to say it but, we’re never really ready. If I can do it, so can you. Give me your hand. Take a breath. And leap.