Yoga on the Beach: Opening my Heart

Dancer Pose Yoga in Cornwall, on the beach

Those who dwell, among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life. Whatever the vexations or concerns of their personal lives, their thoughts can find paths that lead to inner contentment and to renewed excitement in living. Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.
-Rachel Carson, The sense of Wonder.

I am really into my heart openers at the moment, probably because I have been working on self compassion, learning to love myself again and also evoke courage in my heart. For too long I have put others before myself and for too long I have allowed others to sabotage my dreams in a variety of ways such as listening to their negative or condescending words which in turn can make any person feel unworthy, emotional manipulation making me feel like just because I am concentrating more on myself it means I am selfish? Or trying to focus on activities which help me grow as a person therefore means I am disinterested in other peoples lives? What utter hog wash! The people who make you feel this way in order to control you & gain your complete attention are insecure yet they hide it in a big bravado and a commanding, authoritative presence that implies they know best. This needs to stop. Being in someone’s shadow and thinking you are doing it out of love will not make you happy, it certainly hasn’t made me happy for I neglected myself and what I want for my life. Over and over again I have put others needs (& voices) before my own and I have been treated like a doormat or somebody insignificant who can’t possibly achieve such massive dreams for herself. I am not a doormat, I am not insignificant, I will achieve my dreams & I am a Goddess with the capacity to love the whole world one day.

I am making changes in my life that challenges these people. They do not know what’s best for me because it is my life, not theirs. For too long I have taken people’s advice, I have been ‘practical’ and done the ‘safe route’ because I believed it was the right thing to do but it hasn’t worked and my heart is suffering. You know the usual things people say to talk you out of your maddening ideas, it goes something like this: “Maybe don’t rush or make brash decisions, maybe just do it this way as it’s more secure, think of the money.” To hell with security! There is no such thing! Things fall apart, things change and life is unpredictable and constantly moving, instead of living in a deluded safe bubble, why not ride the wave? Give destiny a chance to open it’s doors to potential opportunities instead of waiting for it, why not take the risk, open your heart and surrender to the sea of change? I don’t want to wake up in 5 or 10 years time still waiting because people told me “maybe wait until this happens or maybe stay where you are things might get better” and for what? So THEY can sleep better at night? What about me? I am not sleeping well at night because I have been compressed in a situation that is making me unhappy! To hell with the voices, the judgement, the unwanted advice! I don’t want to look back on my life when I am 90 and regret not listening to my gut instinct and my inner voice, I don’t want to be trapped in fear created by myself and others, I am not afraid anymore to make big changes or take that risk. My heart is opening to the beauties of life and of the earth and I am finding my inner strength in the process. So naysayers can bog off!

Featured on F*ck Yeah Journals!

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Last week I was contacted by an Arts blogger who showcases and collects numerous Art Journals, diary’s, collages, sketchbooks, moleskine’s and more. Osina who runs the blog entitled F*ckyeah journals! asked permission to publish a post about one of my art journal books and it’s pages. Obviously I said yes and to my surprise it was a hit, so many people liked, shared and reblogged it. As well as this new viewers had a nosy on my website and this blog. I feel so thankful and so happy that people like Osina (and her art-loving viewers) love and appreciate my creations because I do have a lot of passion for the arts and living a creative lifestyle. I do have plans to start working on a brand new art journal, especially now since my life involves a lot more travel than when I first started and because I am hugely inspired by Dan Eldon and his journals it seems obvious I begin to create a travel art journal full of magical moments during my time in Morocco, Croatia, Montenegro and soon Nepal!

Eventually I would love to publish a book full of all my favourite journal pages and even include some in the body & soul handbook I am currently planning.
If anyone has any ideas or requests on what they’d like to see more of, maybe video tutorials or simply videos showing more of my work, collaborations, activities? Or want to feature their creations on my blog please do get in touch. Sharing is caring.

A big thank you to Osina for featuring me, you made my day!
If anyone is interested here is where I have been featured, go have a look, her blog is awesome: F*ckyeah Journals!

Life Dreaming

Yoga Mat Om Yoga MagazineThere are so many intensely, delightful things to learn or aim to understand about this beautiful life. The difficult part is finding the time to do them all and then actually following through and not just being consumed by idle thoughts and cat napping. I do love to cat nap, makes me feel so refreshed and yummy when I wake up!

There are so many things I want to learn to do (Oh my God, so many things), so many books I want to read and so many places I want to travel to, I feel like sometimes I can’t keep up with my learning obsession. Here are some examples from my never ending list: I want to learn the art of Kintsugi, learn to speak Spanish & learn Odissi temple dancing. I want to read the book ‘when things fall apart’, the novel ‘the signature of all things’ and be engrossed by the ‘Hatha Yoga Pradipika’. I want to see India, Iceland & Vietnam and live in Australia. Ahhhh so many things and such a short life!

I have decided to give myself 5 minutes a day to meditate and just be in the moment, to calm my mind. Day Dream. Marvel at the rain. Appreciate the Sun’s radiance and listening to my breath, enjoy knowing I am lucky to be alive & healthy, then go do some Yoga stretches & Belly Dance to invigorate yet relax my mind and body. And then choose one thing on my list to focus on that day, it might only be 30 minutes of reading or 5 minutes of researching a bigger project like saving to visit India. Instead of information overload of so many things I want to do fighting for attention, it gives my mind a bit of a break.

All the things you and I want to learn, lets just take a 5 minute time out first to just be in the moment everyday,and then when our minds are clear, pick something off your list to work on even if it’s only for another 5 minutes of your day. You will feel less bombarded by your brain and actually more focussed on your heart’s intention, what it is you really need to learn in that moment?

Here’s a beautiful song by Meghan Currie to help you get in the mood to your 5 minutes a day of Life Dreaming.

Apply to face and absorb generously

Positive quotesDirections: Print this out or write out these quotes yourself then apply to face and absorb generously.

I have had numerous people butt into my life and make comments about my lifestyle choices, whether it is the way I dress, my personality, my weight, my mannerisms and even telling me what directions they think I should take for my career. These people are usually fearful, mostly bored with their life and because of that are nosy and like to meddle.
All I am going to say to that is, I will not allow those with fearful thoughts and attitudes ruin my life. I do not want to look back when I am 90 thinking “what if” all because I listened to someone telling me to choose the supposed “safe route” for the sake of security, because there is no such thing. Security is a man made illusion we have conditioned ourselves to believe is real and in the end after many years of sitting in your big box watching a load of hogwash on a smaller box you’ll be wishing that in your younger years you traveled more, you challenged yourself, you did something with courage and conviction and you found something to be passionate about but instead you are sat in a house that is temporarily yours watching thousands of programs giving you the visual drama as a substitute for the adventure and drama your soul actually craves. We are on this earth to learn and grow, we are seedlings wanting to bloom, if you are sat watching X Factor and Big Brother and eating a pile of toxins, making you overweight and miserable are you learning and growing? No. Are you happy? No. Are you challenging your curious soul? No!

I choose life. However I am not perfect, I do have to live in this horrendous, consumerist culture, I eat chocolate, I on occasion buy cheap clothes and I enjoy watching documentaries on the box BUT it isn’t to the extreme and I am not extravagant with money or need to show off a recent material possession. Fearful & bored people will judge me for taking the path less traveled, I don’t care for material things, or owning a massive house, wearing the latest fashion or buying branded foods. I won’t conform to that ridiculous so called reality. Already I can look back and say: I have danced on stage, I have lived abroad, I have handled snakes, birds of prey and rode a camel in the desert, I have visited caves and lagoons, been published in magazines, achieved certificates and awards, was in the top 3 of a modelling competition, I did Indian Head Massage training, I have seen mountains and camped under the stars, I have created costumes & built a room installation, I am learning about Yoga & Sacred Dances, I am learning to teach creative workshops and finding new ways really grasp life. I’d like to think as I grow old I will continue learning and doing many things, perhaps sky diving? Riding a horse on the beach? Giving an Elephant a bath in India? learning the tango at 50 and publishing a novel at 60? Who knows what I will be doing, but I do know I will be doing amazing things!

People are afraid of living because they are afraid of failure, getting hurt and even dare I say it? Dying. People are afraid of death and so choose to stay safe in their big boxes where nothing outside the box can hurt them. Yet when their time is up, it’s up, there is no time machine to take you back and enjoy life again. Our souls knows this and is probably pleading with you to get up off your bum and do something meaningful & mindful! On the whole, I am not afraid of failure & new beginnings brought about by mistakes, or picking myself up again and feeling the hurt. To know pain means you are alive and you have lived through it. I am not afraid of death because when that day comes my soul knows it has truly lived, my vessel will be full.

Morocco: Marrakech

Marrakesh
Marrakech or Marrakesh is interesting to say the least. I wanted to show you this image above first because as you can see the roads are polished and modern, getting off the mini van you feel like you have stepped onto a street in Los Angeles, forgetting you are in an African country. This is probably a great way to end the adventure tour, after so much trekking and being surrounded by the hubbub of rural markets along dusty roads or simple villages in the remoteness of the mountains. I think ending the trip in a contemporary place allows the traveler to reflect back on the awesome holiday as a whole and it also makes you really appreciate certain comforts that us westerners take for granted. For example, all through this tour our group found it difficult to have to endure cold showers almost every day due to there being not enough hot water and yes we did jokingly moan about it but looking at the bigger picture you realize that not always having hot water to bathe in may be a reality to some Moroccans. So although Morocco is developing fast and it is really up and coming, it’s still a real eye opener and culture shock to not have hot running water, to see exposed and entangled wires buzzing with angry electrical charge every time the elements aggravate it on house walls or to buy something from a local who’s pop up stall is merely a blanket on the ground with his merchandise sprawled all over it. Or perhaps there is no central heating in the hotel you are staying at and you need ten thick blankets to keep warm due to your delicate western body being unable handle the cold nights because it is so used to radiators. It’s times like that, that you look back on and smile, it makes you appreciate a culture so different from your own and as a human being you learn a hell of a lot about yourself and how others thrive in societies you may consider beautifully strange.

You don’t see the culture shock when you first arrive in Marrakech, it’s very modern, clean and has all the mod cons. It isn’t until you visit the main square you think to yourself “Ah Ha! This is the Morocco I know!” Marrakesh is like two worlds encased in one. As you walk to the main square you are surrounded by sophisticated shops and cafes and sleek pavements & roads and then suddenly you step into the noise and eccentricities of the main market. This was our last two & a half days in Morocco before we said our farewells to the group of 16 people who had become a little family to us. These last couple of days involved a short tour around the souk and mainly pottering about, eating lots of food at the food court, bartering for gifts and enjoying the odd street performances.

Marrakech tours

Intrepid travel

Marrakech main square

Marrakech Medina

Things to do in Marrakesh

Things to do in Morocco
Marrakesh is a true “year round” destination. Spring and autumn sees the city at its best with almost guaranteed sunshine and bearable temperatures (days are warm and nights are not too chilly). At the height of summer, daytime temperatures can reach a sweltering 38C and shops and restaurants often close during Ramadan and in August. Winter can be warm and blissfully free of crowds – but remember that temperatures drop dramatically at night, it really does get a little chilly during the evenings so I would suggest taking a shawl, cardigan or light jacket.

Marrakesh Jewellery and shops

the food court at night in Marrakesh

Marrakesh food court

Yummy food in Morocco
The Medina of Marrakech is like a shopping heaven, so many wonderful stalls and a diverse range of goods from leather bound books to plastic singing camels. Some delightful finds of Berber silver and gorgeous tribal jewellery of every colour imaginable are sold here. I purchased a stunning Berber bracelet (with much bartering & laughter involved) and Jon bought himself a couple of hand made woollen hats for next to nothing. In all of Morocco you need to be up for bartering for “Best price” otherwise you will be over charged, however please be reasonable, shop owners still need to make a living & support their families, so don’t be stingy! The Medina itself is busy and loud and you have to have your wits about you. However I felt safe, but found spending too long there a little exhausting, especially in the heat and I did end up with slight heat stroke, luckily Peace, a lady from our group is a trained nurse and had Electrolyte tablets in her bag, within an hour of taking them plus some rest I was feeling great and headed back into the Medina. Electrolytes are definitely a first aid must for my next adventure trip!

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Within the Medina and food court people do pester you for money or to sit at their table and eat their amazing cuisine so be prepared for that and don’t be persuaded into a shop or food stall if you didn’t want to be there in the first place. I must say though that the street food is incredible and extremely cheap so go by what you want and not what the seller is telling you what you should have! Out in the main square, after viewing some spectacular jewellery with me, Jon decided he wanted to be involved in handling a snake alongside the snake charmer coaxing a cobra to move with the sounds, I was pretty impressed with Jon’s courage, after all that cobra in front of him is poisonous! This is something I am usually up for however since I have already handled snakes before, I let Jon have this one. In regards to street performers, do enjoy watching them but unless you are willing to pay for glancing over at what they are doing then perhaps try to learn how to watch out of the corner of your eye. These street performers are persistent and can be rude to make you part with money. Be wary of the men with monkey’s on chains, they will approach you wanting a seemingly innocent hand shake, but this is a ploy to make the monkey crawl up your arm and sit on your shoulder. To get the monkey off, you have to pay. Be quick when taking photos so the performers don’t see, otherwise they will hound you for money. This all doesn’t sound pleasant however you do have to realise this is how they make money to support their families so try to be understanding and fair. If you want to stand and watch a street performer then be nice and give them some of your loose change. One performance we saw that blew my mind and made me laugh out loud involved a man bopping up and down to some music with a rabbit and chicken on his head unfortunately because it was dark by then we do not have any decent photos of this man, he exists now only in our memories.

Authentic Berber Jewellery

Beautiful Berber Jewellery

Berber jewellery

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street performers in Marrakesh

snake charmer in Marrakesh

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Be careful when walking through the Medina, there will be men lurking about attempting to talk to tourists who look like easy targets or who appear lost. These men will try to coax you to follow them so they can show you the Marrakesh tanneries. If you have already seen the Fes tanneries then you will be less tempted to follow. Be warned these men will take you through a maze of back streets until you are completely lost, they will take you to some tanneries which arn’t that great but in order to get out and back into the Medina they will aggressively demand money to guide you back. These men did approach Jon & I but we were already warned of this scam and paid no attention to them. To be savvy with some other scams widely used in Marrakesh main square and the Medina click here. I think over all it was a wise idea to have our group visit Marrakech last, not just for it’s modernity & easy access to most things but also after visiting numerous places in Morocco that gave us a bit of a culture awakening and awareness it provided us with the skills and knowledge to handle certain negative traits that come with Morocco, if you have your wits about you and you have researched the culture of any country in the world then you will be prepared & responsible and therefore will not be an easy target or fall into a horrendous scam trap. By this point in the trip we had a pretty rough idea on ‘how to blend in a bit more like a local’ or how to avoid certain things and how to say the right thing in a specific situation. I know that if I ever go back to Morocco I’d be pretty equipped to travel there without the aid of a tour guide or group and I’m pretty impressed with my new found knowledge of the Moroccan culture; the good & the bad.

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At night the main square is stunning and so much is going on! If you decide to holiday in Morocco you can opt to base yourself in Marrakech as there is plenty to do and see within the Medina and main square, food is readily available as are other necessities plus most hotels offer day excursions to Essaouira and even camel trekking in the Sahara Desert. I do have plans to go back but in the form of a retreat holiday with my best friend. This retreat is called ‘Desert Dance Healing‘ and involves a pit stop in Marrakech before heading out to the desert for some Yoga, Belly Dance, Camel Trekking, travelling through the Atlas Mountains, Meditation and much more.

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This amazing 16 day adventure around Morocco has really ignited my spirit, I came back to the UK full of electric energy to just follow my path and have the confidence to make changes I desperately needed, I am a much happier person because of this trip. It’s people, it’s colours & culture and it’s architecture took my breath away. Our tour group has to be the best bunch of people I have ever met and I am sure if I ever go on a tour again it won’t compare. Usually in a group, there are some you just clash with; although I didn’t get to know some of group members as much as I’d like, I will say in general there was a beautiful friendly and positive vibe being shared by everyone, there wasn’t one person I disliked and we became good friends. I have kept in touch with some of them and sadly a few disappeared but who knows, maybe I will meet them on a beach in Bali or on a street in Japan one day?
And so this blog post concludes our Moroccan adventure! Soon I will be writing about our time in Croatia & Montenegro…
We are also off to Nepal in March for two & a half weeks and Bulgaria in August or September for about ten days to visit my Mum, so lots of travel writing is on the cards this year. We may also plan a short trip abroad for my 30th birthday in October, we were thinking maybe five days in Portugal or Prague? I am sure we will plan something nearer the time!

I also just want to give a shout out to Intrepid Travel, this company is awesome and they offer so many incredible adventures around the world. I would also love to say a big thank you from my entire heart to our amazing Tour Guide Yahya Bouziti, he works for Intrepid but is also a certified mountain & desert guide involved in other projects as well so please do check him out and what he offers here, you won’t be disappointed.

Here are all the previous destinations we ventured to on this 16 day adventure tour:
Day one & two in Casablanca
Day three/Afternoon in Rabat
Day Four/Morning in Meknes
Day Four/Afternoon in Volubilis
Day Five: Fes
Day Six: Midelt
Day Seven in Sahara Desert
Days Eight & Nine in Todra Gorge
Day Ten in Ait Benhaddou
Day Eleven in Aroumd/Ifrane
Days Twelve & Thirteen in Essaouira
Days Fourteen & Fifteen in Marrakesh
We flew back to the UK, midday of day sixteen.

I am also on TripAdvisor, find me here.