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Sunday, 19 July 2015

Sunday silence

Sunday morning, not a cloud in the sky. There's a peacefulness in the air that I've not felt in a while. With only a gentle breeze wafting through the branches, the city is unusually quiet. I am alone but for the bees buzzing from one purple Chive flower to the next. Taking a sip of my freshly brewed coffee, I suddenly notice patches of damp stone on the ground. It must have rained heavily last night. Somewhere lost in a dream, I was oblivious to the cool downpour.
As I look up at the giant tree at the bottom of the garden, I smile at last month’s discovery of Parakeets. Lime green with long elegant tails, I couldn't believe my eyes at first. They seemed strangely out of place. My mind jumps quickly to São Paulo - the crazy, giant city that I called home for a short while.
The sun on my neck feels warm and comforting. The smell of honeysuckle is delicious.
Then there's a loud bang of a door slamming open. A child cries and a mother shouts. A plane’s engines whir overhead and a dog barks in the distance.
My moment of peace vanishes in an instant.
But as the city slowly comes to life all around me, and a butterfly flutters softly past my face, I can't help but feel that everything is exactly as it should be.

Monday, 4 May 2015


It was a beautiful spring afternoon when I first spotted them. I wasn't even searching - they just appeared out of nowhere.
Completely smitten, I walked through the doorway and stepped onto the escalator. I watched shoppers glide down in the opposite direction, occasionally making eye contact with me.
I made my way over to the wall and plucked them from the shelf. Sitting down, I took off my well-worn shoes and laced up the new ones.
The second I saw their reflection in the mirror, I knew they were meant for me.
I was crazy in love.
And so, later that evening as a burning sunset surrounded us, we stepped out together for the first time.
We danced, carefree, into the early hours of the morning. We went out for brunch the next day. For a walk in the afternoon. And the cinema that evening. It was perfect.
Until they began to hurt. A lot.
Firm leather had started to rub unforgivingly on my ankle and Achilles heel. Every step was agony. The further I walked, the more uncomfortable they became. The sides continued to dig in cruelly, forgetting all the good times we were having together. The honeymoon was over.
I stoically wore them every day that week. Some days were worse than others.
Meanwhile, all around me, flowers were bursting out of the ground and nests were being built high up in the trees.
And then, one day, I noticed that the pain had completely vanished. There was no longer any rubbing or discomfort. All that remained was the gentle click-clack of soles meeting the pavement – just my handsome new shoes and I under a perfect blue sky.
And in amongst the swirling cherry blossom, I suddenly felt very lucky: Lucky to be healthy, alive, and surrounded by love.

Sunday, 15 March 2015


I am too old. I am not cute. I am too short. I’m not successful enough. I don’t have a toned body. My hair is peppered with grey. I am single. I can’t drive.
And I care too much…
With my mind spinning out of control like a defective rocket, I try to control my thoughts - but the more I try, the harder it becomes. And I am suddenly submerged.
I watch as rain starts to fall. The cold drops splash down onto the windowpane, each one leaving a trail behind it like a comet. People outside come and go, scurrying to find shelter from the downpour.
And inside the battle rages on.
Sometimes, we are so hard on ourselves. Our own name-calling can be deeply hurtful. I can’t help but wonder if we were actually told these things by another person, how offended we would be. We wouldn’t accept it from anyone else…so why do we allow it from ourselves?
And then, just when I think that I will never be able to shake this feeling, my phone pings: a text from a friend - her message is simple and loving.
Three words. Twelve letters. One truth:
They circle my mind and slowly filter their way down into my heart.
And I smile.
There are times in our life when the inner voice of doubt gets so loud, we can hear nothing else - the voice that tells us we are not interesting enough, not clever enough, not good-looking enough.
And there will be ups and downs - moments when we think that we will never be enough.
But maybe, just maybe, we are actually better than we ever imagined.

Maybe we were always more than enough!

Saturday, 28 February 2015

The music and the moments

A light early morning drizzle comes to rest gently on my face. I close the front door and breathe deeply. Pressing play, my short journey begins. I take the shortcut though the passageway towards the common. ‘No Doubt’ come playing out of my earphones. It seems that lately
 I’ve been listening to this album on a loop. In years to come, I wonder if the memories of now will come flooding back the second I hear these songs again.
An old lady comes shuffling along in the opposite direction. With a half-full shopping bag, she looks up at me. We catch each other’s eye, and for a few seconds we are connected. Her face is gentle and kind. And in our fleeting moment together, we smile. Everything seems to suddenly stop. Then, as she slips out of view, I wonder what she has experienced in life: her hopes, her dreams, her lessons.
I am lost in my thoughts as I continue onwards.
I see the man at the bus stop holding his son’s hand - I think of my dad. I see the lady pushing a newborn baby – I think of my friend. I see the guy who looks like someone I once loved – I wonder where he is now.
Flashes of moments come and go in the drizzle - a Saturday morning stroll through my past.
And as I arrive at the small supermarket, I wonder where my new friend is - the man who sells the Big Issue, with a face that could light up a room, is not there. Maybe I will see him next week.
I suddenly smile thinking about all the people in my life - the people who have been there right from the beginning, and the ones who will be there right at the end.
And then there are those who I have yet to meet…

Saturday, 21 February 2015

On Guard

It would definitely shatter a bone, or two. The heavy iron end would smash through anything that got in its way. The protruding spikes were blunt and weighty. A shiver runs down my spine as I picture how many people have been on the receiving end of its deadly blow. 
Next to them sits the beautifully crafted rifles. Delicately decorated in Mother of Pearl and ancient ivory, it is hard to imagine that something so aesthetically pleasing was made to kill.
There are silver daggers, steel swords, and pocketknives, all designed to swipe and chop and slice and stab.
Gazing through the glass case, which protects the protective armour, I admire the craftsmanship of the smooth metallic suit. Every piece hammered and shaped perfectly to fit the contours of a man’s body.
As I continue walking around the armoury room of the Wallace Collection, I am suddenly struck by a thought: for all the ways we protect ourselves in war - the shields, the armour, the heavy weaponry - what about the everyday? How do we protect ourselves against the many other dangers that lie in wait?
There are times in life when I could have done with an emotional coat of armour myself. I would have made use of its thick steel skin as a heavy defense – that way my feelings would never have been hurt, my heart never broken, or my self-confidence severely battered.
Life can be messy and disorientating sometimes. But as long as we love ourselves with all our imperfections, and protect our heart by keeping it open, that might just be all the armour we will ever need.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Been there...

I’ve seen it before. I’ve sat at my desk with a hot ginger tea. I’ve watched the steam swirl up and out of the blue mug. I’ve turned my head to look out of the glass: the same grey sky, the same cold breeze blowing through my open window.
With the same words written on the page of my orange Moleskine, in exactly the same order, with the same blue ink, everything seems to stop.
I’m lost in space, unable to orientate my body.
There’s nothing extraordinary about this moment. It is just a moment - a speck of living.
But I’ve been here before, witnessed everything in minute detail: my steady breath, quickening heartbeat and an energy spinning up my spine.
There’s something unsettling about this flash of déjà vu. And at the same time, quietly reassuring, familiar.
A million possibilities come flying out of this twice-lived moment.
I can’t help but wonder what I would do differently if I knew for sure what was coming around the corner? Would I change my words, my actions, my hopes?
As much as we want everything to be perfect, life is also about making mistakes. Without them, we would never grow. We would never look at ourselves and never find our inner strength. Sometimes we live and learn, sometimes we don’t.
There are mistakes that make us kick ourselves, and mistakes that cause us to cringe.
And then there are those that take us to another place entirely – a place where whatever happens, we know we will always be ok.

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

The edge of tomorrow

Another train journey, another fiery sunset burning across the sky.
People on the carriage are reading, and texting, and stretching and dozing. I want to pick up the book that I’ve been trying to finish for the past month…but I'm too sleepy. The music playing deep in my ears seems to be putting me into a trance. Lost in my thoughts, I drift over the trees towards the glowing horizon. The last of the day’s light reflects off glass and steel, temporarily blinding me between buildings.
Events of the past year have left me tired and disorientated.
Flying halfway back across the world, I discovered a new home and a new chapter.
I said ‘I love you’ to my mum for the last time, immensely grateful for one final, beautiful conversation. I’ve cried though two funerals of people I adored, and danced at the arrival of my gorgeous baby niece - The cycle of life, of love never-ending.
The train is warm and cosy. With hot air wafting out through vents under the seats, I unzip my coat. My hand reaches up towards the ice-cold window as we continue to speed through the city.
And I close my eyes.
There is a second where everything seems to stop spinning, just for the briefest of moments. Lost somewhere in-between the end of today and a new beginning, I suddenly feel at peace.
And as the final hours of this year drift slowly away, I am hopeful for a brighter tomorrow.
Hopeful for more love, more light, more laughter.

My love to you all, always.

Sunday, 31 August 2014


Rain falls hard onto cold concrete slabs. Black umbrellas and glistening shoes surround me. I watch as people weave in and out of each other, hurrying to get home from a day at the office. I feel a strange comfort in the sound of the drops bouncing heavily off my umbrella. A memory of lying inside my tent in the pouring rain flashes through my mind and suddenly makes me feel 11 again. I am lost in the downpour.
And on I walk; people weaving, water falling, iPod playing - one foot in front of the other taking me closer to home.
A change of song and I’m suddenly aware that my face is wet. It takes me a moment to realize that it is not coming from the rain. Another wave of grief washes over me as I think of my lovely lady, gone.
There are times in our life when we fall. Whether from a break-up, the loss of a loved one or the many other things that life can sometimes throw in our path, one thing is for certain; nothing is final. Moments pass and eventually we find our feet. We change every day and grow in ways invisible to the naked eye.
The places we go and the people we meet will stay with us forever, etched in our heart like a heart in a tree.
And just when I think the rain is never going to end, the first few rays of a setting sun break out from behind the grey clouds…and change begins to happen once again.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014


You never knew, but when I was little I would secretly watch you dance with my dad in the dining room. Old country records would crackle out over the speakers on a Sunday afternoon. Nestled somewhere in between finishing lunch and the afternoon doze in front of a black and white movie, you would move gracefully around the room. Arms tightly locked around each other, you would sway side to side in time with the music, never once opening your eyes. Every so often I would catch a quick glimpse of your face. Your soft smile told me that you were finally happy.
Unconditionally in love with the man who lost his wife, the children who had no mum, you stood by us with an open heart. Thirty years later, I can’t ever remember a time when you didn’t listen proudly to everything going on in my life and get excited for all the small triumphs. Always wanting nothing but the best for us, wishing us happiness every single day.
You held me when I had the measles and hugged me when I left home. Danced with me on our holidays and laughed until our bellies hurt. We swam and walked and played and talked. You became part of the furniture, a heart in our home.
You always said to me that everything happens for a reason. That, I know, is true. I don’t remember the first words I ever said to you, but the last were “I love you”. For that, I will be eternally grateful.
We have just two sunsets more before your body will be a part of the earth. If I could make just one more phone call, see you one last time, I would.
And maybe one day I will fly next to you. I will hug you and give you a big kiss. I will tell you how much I have missed you and how beautiful you look…but not yet my darling, not today.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Between stations

The gentle movement of the carriage rocks me closer to sleep. With a late afternoon sun burning brightly through the glass, I enjoy the feeling of warmth on my face. I wonder, briefly, if anyone will board the next time the train stops. We shudder to a halt, doors open, and I'm suddenly surrounded by walking and talking, sitting and rustling. The peace is shattered. 
A tall man with a limp plops himself down next to me and says hi. He has friendly blue eyes and a soft voice. Within seconds the only conversation we will probably ever have begins. 
As we accelerate he tells me about his recent knee operation. I am sympathetic to his pain. We talk about family, horse riding, holidays and work. He is frustrated at being unable to play football at the moment and regrets not having travelled more when he was younger. A sadness flashes across his face as he tells me that life is short. I nod, suddenly thinking about my bucket list. With a change of subject, he is once again smiling. His girlfriend is coming over tonight to cook him dinner. I laugh at the loveliness of it. He chuckles. 
And as the train begins to slow, I see the station up ahead. I slide my orange Moleskine and silver pen back into my bag and zip it up.
"This is me, I'm afraid", I say as I ready myself to leave. He looks up at me and our hands clasp in a shake.
"Have a nice life", he cheerfully says as I get up out of my seat. I smile and wish him health and happiness. In less than a minute I am standing on a platform, alone once again, bag in hand. 
And as the train pulls away, I make my way up towards the exit and out into the sun.
I can't help but think about these funny little moments we have. Life is all about connections - connections we have with friends and family, strangers and lovers. We share our lives and bear witness to each other's journey. But wherever we go, and whomever we meet on the way, the most important relationship we will ever have is the one we have with ourself. 

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Slowly, but surely

My friend is old. Very old. He makes me chuckle. As we both enter the manicured garden, he sinks his head into his dark shell to acclimatise. Within a few seconds, my bare feet hit the cool grass and feel instantly refreshed. Gently placing him down, I watch as his little head pops out of hiding to stretch his neck out once more.
A beautiful day for a stroll.
I am mesmerised by him. The way he looks around and surveys his surroundings brings a smile to my face. He is at peace in his home. His home, in which he has lived for decades, is his familiar. His little legs move slowly forward, dragging his bulky shell along one step at a time. He ambles over to investigate this friendly giant, now sitting on the grass with him. Touching my leg with his head, he looks up at me. I know what he loves. I come bearing gifts. One by one, he munches on delicious strawberry tops and juicy dandelion heads. He is slow and elegant and lovely.
As he continues to feast, I watch and wonder about how fast everything seems to be spinning in the world. We text as we walk, work as we fly, and eat on the run. At times, it's easy to feel lost and overwhelmed by our gigantic juggling act. We all have hopes and dreams and places to be. But as much as we push forward and strive to achieve, sometimes we just need to stop for a moment and take stock. A little time to simply breathe and be. Comfortable in our own shell.
And once we slow down just enough to look around, we might just realise we are closer to our dreams than we thought.

Sunday, 11 May 2014


There is a freckle. It lives on the inside of my middle finger, right hand. It has been there for as long as I can remember and I don't even know the first time I became aware of it.
Despite being there for all to see, I'm pretty sure there's no one on this planet who knew about its existence. Even those who have been intimately close with me probably won't have noticed it at all.
But it's there.
It has been with me every step of the way. It was there the morning I jumped off the train and landed in London. There the first time I took off into the sky. There the day I fell in love and there the night my heart was broken. It has seen me across vast oceans and sprawling continents, through burning sun and pouring rain. It has listened to me laugh and cry and sing and scream. Felt grains of warm sand trickle over it and the petals of a red rose rest on it.
With over 7 billion people on this beautiful blue planet, it is easy to feel like just another one in the crowd. We meet so many people at different stages of our life, some become friends, some, lovers, and some just pass on through.
But wherever we go and whoever we meet on our journey, as long as we remember that there is no one else on this planet exactly like us, and love every freckle on our body, we will always be ok.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Living the dream

The first wall goes up easily. A wall turns into a room. A room turns into a house. Wallpaper up and a wooden floor down, the stylish furniture goes in. A bed, a sofa, a TV, a coffee machine. Sun shining, pink blossom trees get planted around the poolside without a single bead of sweat ever falling from my brow.
Then I move in.
I walk over to the wardrobe which sits next to the beautiful flowers and slip into smart casual. Nice.
Then my dog arrives. She loves her new home. After a quick look around she immediately begins to dig a hole in the freshly-mowed lawn. I am not bothered. I am too busy chatting to my new acquaintance. We become friends. Then with a single kiss, we become something else. He is perfect.
Without realising, I find myself lost in a moment of creating the perfect life. Only it's not a real life. Hitting the save button, I close the game down and take a sip of my coffee. And as I sit there enjoying a few minutes of peace, I can't help but think about all the things in life that I have yet to achieve. Hopes and dreams that live deep in my heart. I wonder what they will look like. Will they be how I imagined? Or something else entirely? And in amongst all the things I want, lies everything that I really need; the things that help me to grow, to laugh, to learn, to change. I suddenly get the feeling that I haven't even scratched the surface. Sometimes we think we know exactly what we need in life, the things that will bring us happiness. And sometimes we are right on the money. But occasionally we need to let go of everything we think we know in order to open ourselves up to new opportunities.
And maybe, just maybe, everything we need has been right under our nose the whole time.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Brace, brace

"Ladies and gentlemen, your attention - for your safety be aware of the following: A safety card is in your seat pocket showing the exit routes, oxygen masks, life jackets, and brace position that you must adopt if you hear 'brace, brace'.
There are two emergency exits at the rear, four in the middle and two at the front of the cabin".

As we pull away from the terminal and taxi towards the end of the runway, I look out of the window. The early morning sky is already a beautiful shade of blue. Soon I will be lifted from the earth, high above the clouds once more. My mind begins to wander up and out of the cabin to a place filled with an Orange Blossom breeze and a burning sun.

"Floor lighting will guide you to an exit. Be aware of your nearest exit. In an emergency leave all cabin baggage on-board".

With engines full throttle and seconds before the brakes are released, a thought occurs to me: in the event of an airborne crisis, we will be fully prepared with everything we need to know to help us get through it.
But what if the air supply doesn't fail, or we don't land on water. What if the emergency is invisible to everyone but ourselves? How do we brace for the agony of a heartbreak, the loss of a loved one, a job, a dream, or the countless other challenges that life throws at us on a daily basis? Where is the life jacket, oxygen mask and low level lighting then? Sometimes in life things pop up to throw us off track. We think we will never again be able to open our hearts, or dare to dream, or give in to hope. But with every knock-back comes a new beginning; an opportunity to learn a lesson and shine brighter than ever before.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Up on the fifth floor.

As the door clicks heavily behind me, a familiar and much loved sensation hits me head on. I'm surrounded once again by crisp white linen, fresh fluffy towels, toiletries, tea and a large TV. 
The last of the day's sun is shining brightly through the thick net curtains casting a ray of golden light across the hoovered carpet. I wheel my bag over to the far corner and push the handle down. It has already travelled 85 miles today and will soon be on the move again. This time tomorrow I will be 1,018 miles away from this hotel room. The bed looks too inviting. I do what I always do and sit on the end of it. I kick off my shoes and fall backwards, head hitting the cloud-like duvet. It feels like an embrace. Eyes closed, I take a deep breath and melt into my surroundings. Room 526. 5th floor. End of the corridor. 
And there I lie, breathing, thinking. I smile as the air conditioner clicks on and jumps to life. 
As I sink further into the bed, I hear a couple somewhere down the hallway laugh and unlock their door. A few seconds later the door shuts and, once again, all I have is the sound of a quiet hotel room to keep me company. Something glinting outside suddenly grabs my attention. Sleepily, I push my body up off the bed and make my way to the window. The imprint of my presence marked out on the crumpled duvet. 
It's the beginning of the end. The sun is giving one final burst of light illuminating everything in burnt orange and crimson. And so I lean against the window sill soaking up every last second of today. 
A memory of seeing the sunset this time last week flashes through my mind and leaves behind an empty feeling in my tummy that I just can't shake. The burning sky begins to fade.
And there I remain at the end of another day. Face bathed in golden light...breathing, watching, hopeful.