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Thursday, 9 January 2020

Higher



The man with the buggy wriggles his way into the crowded lift as we all shuffle backwards. The door closes, and in less than a second, we are on our way up. With nothing but the sound of mechanical whirring to mask an uncomfortable silence, I casually glance through the glass wall to the shoppers below before snapping my head back.
Ping – third floor.
The man with the buggy disappears, followed by a couple laden with bags. I watch the door slide across once more and feel the familiar glide upwards. By the time we reach the mall observation area, the lift is almost empty.
Ping – sixth floor.
I step out into the glass canopy and feel the beginnings of fear swirling in my throat. Gripping onto the metal handrail that snakes around the wall, I slowly ascend the narrow stone steps one at a time as my heart pounds inside its chest. Heights have never been my thing. Yet here I was, at the start of a new decade, with a new challenge.
When I finally reach the transparent edge, I take a deep breath and look out over the horizon. Dark, grey clouds kiss the top of the mountains in the distance and my eyes fix on the bright yellow cranes that once brought the Titanic to life.
Then a thought occurs to me: within a decade, we can experience so many things; some exhilarating, some thought-provoking, some challenging. And sometimes fear will pop up just long enough to hold us back. But if we stop for just one second and take a peek into the darkness, we might just realise that we are brighter and braver than we ever thought possible.



Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Decade




I’m on the old swing at the top of the hill. It sits behind the summer house, nestled in amongst tall, bare trees. I’m invisible to the world.
And I breathe.
A cold wind blows over my face sending a shiver down my spine. And so I wriggle the hood of my coat up over my woolly hat and look up. The thick canopy of grey cloud hangs overhead and my mind suddenly swirls up beyond them. Faster and faster, it kicks a memory up and then moves on to the next - a decade of life condensed into a single moment. I see everything flash by in glorious technicolour: the morning I began this blog, and the evening I sold the first copy of my book; the thousands of miles I’ve travelled since and the many friends I’ve made along the way. I’ve danced and walked and laughed and cried over grass and concrete and carpet and sand. Fallen flat on my face on a crowded tube and sat dreaming over an ocean at 38,000 ft.
In the space of a decade, we take so many journeys. There are those so tiny, we barely even notice that we’ve arrived. And then there are those that take us somewhere else and shake us to the core until we’re changed, forever.
But perhaps the most important journey of all is the one we take within. Life sometimes throws so much at us, it feels as if we can barely breathe. But with every ending there’s a new beginning.
And as the final moments of dusk finally fade away into night, I say goodbye to the end of a decade, with love, gratitude, hope and peace.

From my beautiful heart to yours, I love you!

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Little Acorns



She sits patiently on the mat by the front door.With beautiful brown eyes and ears bent over, she still looks like the puppy who arrived two and a half years ago. We stare at each other as I sit on the bottom step and tie up my laces. She’s getting excited. A tiny yawn turns into full-on tail-wagging body-shake. I chuckle at how much I adore her.
My little friend and I make our way up across the common and into the darkened woods. It smells damp and rich in here. I watch her spring off into the distance to chase a squirrel up a tree. He escapes just in time. She loves this game.
Strolling under the emerald canopy, lost in my thoughts, I breathe deeply and enjoy this sense of calm. Something crunches under foot and suddenly brings my attention back. That’s when I spot a hundred tiny acorns resting on the ground. There is something so comforting about seeing them…autumn cosiness is just a hop, skip and a jump away. I reach down to pick one up. Still green and shiny, it rests in its tiny brown cup. Then a thought pops into my head. As I look up towards the towering oak, I can’t help but wonder about us and our potential. In amongst deadlines and demands, it’s easy to forget just how amazing we really are. We overcome so many obstacles in life, we rarely congratulate ourselves for our triumphs. Through pain we grow taller and through challenges, our roots strengthen.
And all it takes is one tiny seed – a seed of hope, a seed of belief, a seed of love.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Watch Your Step


Next train: 1 minute...
I knew I could make it. I’ve done this a thousand times before. I just needed to get a move on. And so I changed gears and accelerated. With rucksack securely on my back, I began weaving in and out of the crowd. Dancing between dripping umbrellas and speeding passengers, I ran through the connecting concourse and took the stairs up two at a time towards the platform. My heart was pounding out of my chest as music pumped through the headphones. Out into the open once more, cold rain landed onto my face and refreshed my flushed skin. Everything glistened as evening light bounced off concrete; it was beautiful. I gave one last push to make the train. My body left the ground with a giant leap. Gliding elegantly through the air, I entered the warm carriage and immediately felt relieved that I had made it.
But something was off.
The pooling water beneath my feet was just enough to send me flying horizontally as gravity grabbed hold of me and pulled me down hard. I landed flat on my back. Surrounded by the faces of strangers looking down, a wave of self-consciousness suddenly washed over me. And then I was struck by the realisation that no one was moving to offer a helping hand. So, slightly embarrassed, I pulled myself back up onto my feet and adjusted my clothing.
I leaned against the window as the train doors closed. And then, as I watched the city begin to whizz by, I realised something: There are going to be times when we fall. Whether physically or emotionally, we lose our balance and find ourselves on the ground. Sometimes we get hurt and sometimes we don’t. But, however we fall and however we feel, we always have the power to pick ourselves up and dust ourselves down. Nothing is permanent and it’s within these moments that we discover an inner resilience that we never knew existed.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Night Flight


The sun is setting and I'm 38,000ft up in the sky. A familiar hum of two powerful engines outside makes me feel sleepy.
As I look out of the frozen window, I gaze down towards the earth. From up here, lost in the thin atmosphere, I can once again breathe deeply. I am swimming in my thoughts. I wonder about the young lady sitting on the other side of the aisle, a tear streaming silently down her cheek. I think about the handsome, tall man walking back to his seat who casually glances back. I think about my beautiful family back at the house, stoking the fire and getting ready to snuggle up in front of a movie. Life is happening all around. And I am part of the dance.
We bank ever so slightly to the right just as a sudden burst of orange comes splashing into the cabin and basks us in a surreal glow. These are the final moments of another day. I suddenly wonder if I'm one step closer to what my heart yearns for.
The air hostess makes her way up the aisle with a clunky trolley. She smiles as she places a cool gin & tonic in front of me, and continues on.
I turn my head once more to look at the darkening sky. Soon horizon will disappear into the night. Soon I will pull down my blind. And soon I will start my movie.
But for now, all I have is this moment…and everything’s perfect.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Firsts & Finishes



The monotonous rumble of tyre on tarmac is sending me into a kind of hypnotic trance. I watch as cars overtake us and disappear into the distance. I look through windows and see people dancing and talking and laughing and thinking. A child stares out of the glass and locks eyes with me. We change lanes and head off to the left.
She is gone.
The white lines on the road flash by and I wonder where everyone else is off to on this New Year’s Eve.
And that's when I’m instantly struck by the most glorious sunset burning beyond the trees. I’m transfixed. Deep scarlet bathes my face as I look out across the horizon. Cars pass on both sides and I'm lost in the motorway.
Caught somewhere in between today and a brand new year, I can't help but think about all the things that can happen within the space of twelve months - the possibilities are endless. We can say “I do”, “why not”, and “never again”.
And sometimes the line between an ending and a beginning is imperceptible. Instead, an echo of a feeling floats around just long enough for us to catch the slightest shimmer of it in our periphery.
But that's the wonderful thing about life: every day is a chance for a new beginning, a new hope. We can gently let go of what’s gone to make space for some other beautiful.
And as the final burst of daylight vanishes over the hills, I close my eyes and thank the universe for all the good things in my life - I’m surrounded by so much love, so much potential, I know that I’ll always be able to find my way back home.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Dream


Last night I had a dream.
I was running through a giant shopping mall, surrounded by a crowd. Bumping into shoulders and tripping over bags, my heart raced. Just as I was about to make my way down the escalator, my mind suddenly jumped to another place: an airport runway. On the cold, grey tarmac sat a giant white 747. A queue of passengers slowly made their way up the metal stairs to board. As I looked up from the tail end, panic smashed into me. Jumping back to the mall, I realised that I was meant to be on that flight. Being on the other side of the city however, I didn’t know how I was going to get there in time. And so I grabbed my bags and ran. I sped past shops and cafes and benches and stands. The faster I ran the more lost I became. The surroundings began to spin…and so I simply stopped. Standing there in the centre of the hustle and bustle, I realised something: sometimes in life, we can want something so badly it almost physically hurts. We can try and hope and wish and pray that it will come to fruition. We do everything we possibly can to fight for it until we are left exhausted. But in the surrendering, maybe something else is happening. What if the pain is there simply to pave the way for something else? Could it be that we need to have a little more trust in ourselves? And then I heard the words in my dream, as clear as day “Always believe that something wonderful is about to happen”.

And that’s the thing about life. If something is truly meant to be, it will happen when the time is right. We only have to believe.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

A Timely Fog


As my taxi snakes its way through the early hours of the morning towards home, I lift my sleepy head and glance out of the cold window. There’s hardly anyone about. We pass the couple kissing on the corner and the Halloween witches staggering home, post-party. We turn corners deeply familiar to me and glide up the hill beyond the common. The scent of the Citrus Burst car freshener smashes into my olfactory nerve. I pull the phone out of my pocket and check the time: 02:17. It takes me a second to realise that we’ve already gained an extra hour. With clocks falling back and autumn here yet again, time seems to have sped up. I don’t know if it is the seasonal change, the cocktails or the thick fog now descending that suddenly makes me feel disorientated; I can’t seem to get my bearings. A memory of seeing the weather alert earlier tumbles into my mind and disappears just as quickly.
I begin to think about the fog surrounding us and what brought it on. Through a culmination of conditions, the cloud of suspended droplets was formed as I danced the night away. Invisible inside the grey, I can’t help but think about life’s events and the consequences they hold. Sometimes things happen to knock us off our feet and leave us winded. And sometimes, moments so small barely register with us. But they all contribute to the personal fog that occasionally descends. And inside this fog, we find it difficult to see which direction we’re facing. Forwards becomes back and up simply vanishes. Everything seems to slow as we lose all sense of orientation. But what if the fog happens for a reason? Could it be that sometimes we need to stop for a moment to breathe? And can the sense of jumbled thoughts actually bring some clarity to a muddled heart? 
When visibility is low we need to keep our hopes high and trust that everything will be ok. 
And as I step out into the dark, damp air, I am struck by an overwhelming feeling that I will soon be seeing blue skies once more.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

A Walk and A Wish


A light evening drizzle falls gently onto my face as I close the front door behind me. I walk through the empty streets, pavement glistening beneath my feet. The puppy is excited - she loves our little outings. As we enter the woods, the earthy scent hits me and we are suddenly sheltered from the rain. Everything a few shades darker, it is cosy in here, safe. I release the clip on her harness and watch as she flies off through towering trees like a bolt of black lightning. Her curly tail swinging joyfully in the air as she catches sight of a squirrel. She is free, happy, loved.
And for a while, I’m alone.
Crisping autumnal leaves crunch softly beneath my feet. There’s not another soul around. I pass the blackberry bush, next to the fallen tree, that once held the juiciest berries. The now-withering twigs tell me that a new season is just beginning.
As I continue to walk under the sheltering canopy, my mind leaps effortlessly back to the autumn before. The shift in my heart is palpable; the ghost of a happy memory haunts me.
Noodles comes thundering back and crashes playfully into me, pushing me into the now. I can’t help but smile at how much I love her.
And as we make our way back over soft earth, I close my eyes and make a wish. I feel it fly up and out of the woods. Past the treetops, beyond the rain clouds and out into the universe. Higher and higher, faster and faster it goes…and then suddenly it’s gone.
A parakeet squawks overhead and I look up. Then I smile. On a cool, damp Friday evening, my heart hears the words ‘It’s coming’.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Sticky


I ran as fast as I could. Speeding past the daisy mound, around the corner and down the hill, he was catching up. I could hear pounding footsteps right behind me getting closer and closer. Wind rushed through my hair as my heart beat faster.
Making my escape behind the tall Sycamore, my friend in hot pursuit suddenly gave up the chase. Why had he stopped running? Was I just too quick for him, too stealthy? I glanced over my shoulder, panting. It wasn’t until I heard my friend laughing that I knew all was not as it seemed. I reached behind my back and peeled off the green sticky vine that had attached itself to me mid-escape - it was game over. I spun on my heels and immediately began the chase in the opposite direction.
Decades later, whenever I see these funny little Galium Aparine growing in a hedge, or in the woods, or by a tree, I can't help but remember how much fun they brought to my friends and I. This Velcro-like weed provided hours of entertainment. And what's funnier than launching a vine or two at someone to watch it magically stick to their clothing without being noticed…
Sometimes in life, things stick. Whether it be a comment, a look or an action, we occasionally find things that’ve been said or done can stay with us. We roll them over in our minds and ruminate until we are left exhausted, still none the wiser.
But the secret to flying is letting go. If we spread our wings and release anything we don't need, we might just find that we can soar higher and lighter than ever before.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Small Wings




Consciousness drifts in and I lie there for a moment; still, peaceful, happy. My eyes gently open and a new day begins. I step out into the warm morning sun with a freshly brewed coffee and look up. Clouds waft around revealing the beautiful blue behind them. My body welcomes the heat. The strawberries in the garden are ripe and red, the Blueberries ready to be plucked any day now. A butterfly flutters past my face.
And as I glance over towards the flowering chives, a bumble bee catches my eye. I watch as it moves from one flower to the next.
I’ve always been amazed at how they manage to get off the ground with their bulky bodies - their wings seem so small, so delicate in comparison. As I follow my little friend’s journey, I begin to think about us and the weight we also carry around. There are times in our life when we can feel overwhelmed with all the things we need to do. Our hopes, our dreams, our fears, all playing a part in the baggage. Sometimes we have broken limbs, and sometimes broken hearts, but in spite of this, we carry on regardless. Life can be tough sometimes, but that’s the wonderful thing about us: at any given moment, we have the power to turn even the most difficult day into something better. And just like the bee working hard to collect the pollen, we too can transform our challenging experiences into something sweeter.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

1+1




Warm summer sun burns through the glass of the conservatory and a welcome breeze wafts gently in. I check my buttonhole for the final time and look around. A roomful of people waiting in anticipation of the arrival. I turn to look at my brother standing next to me, and I smile. He looks nervous. I bump his shoulder and wink. He chuckles.
A hush descends over the room and the first few notes of a song begin to play, followed by angelic singing. I turn my head to see the bridesmaids taking the first few steps of their journey down the aisle. Then I see the bride. She looks simply stunning, radiant. Her dress is fabulous!
And there, surrounded by all the people we love most dearly, they join together in beautiful matrimony.
Breakfast, speeches, songs and cake go by in a wedding day blur.
And then, as day turns to night, we begin to dance.
There is a moment on the floor when I suddenly feel euphoric, free. The beats take me higher and higher as my favourite song kicks in.
And at the end of the evening, the bride and groom run through an archway of arms, disappearing out into the garden. In the midst of applause and music and kisses and hugs, I'm left with a feeling that anything is possible.
And just like that, under a sky full of stars, life changes again.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Landscape




Saturday evening and I'm back on a train, homeward bound. Snaking through the city, we glide underneath the cable cars. I look up. Almost a whole year has gone by since I was up there, flying over the river, with summer sun burning through the glass onto the face I loved.
Rain splashes onto the window pane and I'm pulled back into the carriage and onto the tracks.
We clickety-clack in front of the apartments not quite finished, and homes that have stood for a generation.
The sky is heavy with a grey that will now see us through to night.
Passing the theatre that used to be a church, we roll into City Airport. A plane’s tail fin pokes elegantly out from behind a building and I'm suddenly transported back to a departure lounge goodbye: a gentle kiss, a pull inside my soul.
The old sugar factory looms to the right and I wonder about all the men and women who have toiled there in the past.
Humid, stormy air begins to make my shirt cling to the naked torso hiding beneath it. And as we begin the final part of our journey before the train reaches the end of the line, I am flooded with memories and moments. This city that relentlessly adds landmarks to the map of my heart, bombards me with associations every day - a year gone by and a journey that has changed my landscape, forever.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

The Dance of a Heart

    
As I enter the carriage, a wall of heat smashes into my body. Grateful to find an empty seat, I step over bags and outstretched legs to get settled. At the next stop people pour in and I'm surrounded.
I close my eyes. Suddenly, I'm walking alone in a field of daisies at the back of my house. 
A memory of lying alone on the school green laps gently in my mind. Looking up at an open sky, every flower that surrounded me was a perfect opportunity to find out if he-loved-me-he-loved-me-not. Decades later, I wonder if these little things will stay with me forever. 
I think about the I-love-you’s that change your world, and the I-love-you’s that are never returned; the ending of something that glimmered with potential, and the beautiful beginning of a beating chest.
Whether we're pulling away or coming together, there will always be a dance of the heart. And it’s through these twists and turns that we discover what we’re truly made of.  
I can't help but wonder how connected we all are, invisibly intertwined. Who is falling for someone...and who is simply falling? 
As the train pulls into my station, I look around. Has the woman sitting opposite found the love of her life? And is the man, lost in his book, craving something he will never have? 
Bag on my back, I step out and make my way up the whirring escalator once more. 
I suddenly jump to the field again. And I smile. For wherever I go and whatever I do, there will always be love in my life. 
And a big field of daisies. 

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Companion


She has a cold.
Her mini sneezes and tiny coughs make me scoop her up into my arms and hold her tightly. She wriggles away and jumps down to start the wonderful new game of catch-me-if-you-can. She stares at me with her glistening brown eyes and makes me chuckle – they have mischief in them.
Another little sneeze.
And so we begin. It’s a race to see who can reach her stuffed toy first. She flies across the room and I join her a couple of seconds later. She bites into it tightly and pulls away with all her might. I tug, she tugs harder. Her face screws up, lost in the absolute joy of living in the moment.
We lounge in the garden with the sun on our faces. Basking in the warmth, I momentarily forget about my yearning heart.
And at the end of a long day, she curls up on the sofa and I watch her drift off into a deep sleep. Her breathing slows and I hope that she shortly has one of her dreams again: the dream in which she chases her friend Cotton across the common, sending her legs wildly paddling the air.
She teaches me to take every day as it comes. She shows me the importance of being light with life. And through her I see that, by having an open heart and willingness to carry on regardless, even the most painful days will eventually transform into something most beautiful.