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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. 

Saturday 12 April 2014


Higher and higher we climb. The thick chain clunking beneath the carriage lets me know that we're not quite at the top yet. Wind begins to swirl around and dance through my auburn hair. It feels so nice in spite of the adrenaline that is coursing through my veins. For a brief moment I wonder if we will ever stop climbing. My heart continues to beat out of my chest as the world suddenly turns silent. From up here I can see for miles. Over the treetops and rides below, people look like ants on the ground: funny, strange, busy. A beautiful deep blue sky frames everything.
And then, ever so slowly,

My grip on the side bars tighten and my knuckles change colour. Accelerating at warp speed, the world suddenly becomes a blur as I'm lost in the velocity. Head pushed back into my seat, we spiral and turn and rattle and shake. Faster and faster we go.
It is just before we hit the loop that I notice some people in front of me with their arms raised high above their heads. A scream of excitement rings out from them and with a deep breath, I too let go. My hands float high as wind rushes through my fingertips.
I realise in that moment that I am laughing. And on we travel, tipping and turning around every bend. I feel so light, free.
After one last exhilarating dip, we begin to decelerate and pull into the platform once again.
With the safety harness released and lifted up off my torso, I step out of the carriage and make my way down the wooden steps. My mind continues to race at a hundred miles an hour.
As I look over my shoulder at the place we've just been, high above the earth, I can't help but think about the times I've tried to hold on so tightly to things before. The fear of losing people I love is palpable.
But that's the thing about life. We grow, we change, we laugh, we cry. Things don't always go smoothly and we can't control everything. But as long as we keep our hands and hearts open, safety harness or not, we are always going to be ok. Everything that is truly meant to be, happens in its own time and place. And whether we hold on tightly to the bar or wave our arms up in the air, there will always be bright new beginnings waiting just around the next bend.