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VM’s travel guide to the North Island of New Zealand

VM's travel guide to the North Island of New Zealand

 

Crossing over to the North Island after 7 months on the South Island was like arriving in a different country. While the lush deep greens, rolling picturesque hills, endless waterfalls and snow-capped mountain peaks stole my heart on the South Island, it was the open-hearted, loving kindness and generosity of the people who captured me in the second half of our trip around New Zealand. You can read about the first half here.

 

The ferry from South to North is a comfortable 3 hour ride that ends in the centre of Wellington, which is where this story begins.

 

 

VM's travel guide to the North Island of New Zealand: Wellington

 

Wellington

 

This windy city, makes up for its unfortunate weather, with ultimate ‘coolness’. It’s hipster central, with some of the most fascinating decor in bars; alluring cafés, art galleries and museums, and enough shops to keep you amused for at least a day or two. And the food is to live for! Julien was particularly obsessed with a very authentic Chinese restaurant called K C Cafe, that he made us return to every single day.

 

I spent my first day in Wellington catching up on work and running 1:1 client calls from the beautiful Wellington National Library, complete with the most friendly and helpful librarians I have ever encountered and a cafe inside, making it the perfect workspace. We also visited the Te Papa Museum and learned all about the history of New Zealand, went shopping for shoes, saw the parliament building (picture above) and ate as much sushi as possible, to make up for the lack of it on the South Island.

 

 

 

VM's travel guide to the North Island of New Zealand: Tongariro Alpine Crossing

 

Raetihi / Tongariro Alpine Crossing

 

Raetihi holds a special place in our hearts, as it was here that we spent our first few weeks in New Zealand and made friends with Sandy and her family, who run and own Snowy Waters Lodge. In fact this was a place filled with firsts: the first time I ever went mountain biking, to the Bridge to Nowhere, and climbed the 19 kilometres return up a freaking huge volcano; Mount Ngauruhoe at the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, also known as Mount Doom from Lord Of The Rings. As we are coming into winter, everyone at Snowy Waters and surrounds were holding their breath for the first snow falls, so that the ski field could open. The nights were cold and the weather was starting to get fierce, and I spent most of my time writing and reading in front of the fire.

 

 

VM's travel guide to the North Island of New Zealand: Rotorua

 

Rotorua

 

New Zealand is famous for its geysers and thermal mud pools fueled by geothermal activity and Rotorua is the cultural and indigenous centre for exactly that. We spent a full day at the Te Puia cultural centre, guided by a gentle Maori elder learning about the nature, watching the Pohutu geyser erupt, exploring the walks and discovering indigenous talents at the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute. Rotorua is very, very touristic which diluted much of its magic for me, but it was definitely worth seeing the thermal mud pools and watching the geyser erupt, which was short of spectacular. (I also had fun teasing Julien that he was at fault for the sulphur smells in the air.)

 

 

 

VM's travel guide to the North Island of New Zealand: Gisborne

 

Gisborne / Bay of Plenty

 

Arriving in Gisborne we were greeted by the lovely Marg at the Waikanae Beach Motel who very kindly upgraded us to her best room, complete with ocean views. Heaven! Gisborne’s beaches look like they come out of a catalogue about Thailand, and I can imagine that in the height of summer, it feels like it too. As we moved further up the North Island, people become friendlier, the land greener and the beaches more inviting. Gisborne had a cute small-town feel with quirky cafes and shops, and a skate park that Julien couldn’t get enough of. It was one of the few places that I wish we had more time in.

 

 

 

VM's travel guide to the North Island of New Zealand: Mt Manganui

 

Mount Manganui / Bay of Plenty

 

By the time we made it Mount Managanui the weather had turned and we only had snippets of sunshine, which we made advantage of with walks on the beach whenever we could. Trish and her husband who run The Terraces complex, where we stayed, made our time at Mount Manganui special with their attentive care and recommendations of places to go to work in and relax, since the weather wasn’t on our side. (They also wanted me to tell you that they have really affordable specials running when you stay a week or more, and the fully equipped apartments can sleep up to 6 people. Contact Trish directly to get their special deal.) Mount Manganui is a bustling city, and the most populated place to be found in the Bay of Plenty, with beautiful beaches, located very centrally for folks spending a couple of weeks exploring the northern east coast. Due to the weather, we didn’t get to indulge much in sightseeing, but noticed that there were tonnes of things to do, if we had more time.

 

 

 

VM's travel guide to the North Island of New Zealand: Coromandel

 

Coromandel

 

I was particularly excited to get to the Coromandel, not only because I had heard that it was one of the most beautiful, secluded and magical places in the whole of New Zealand, but even more so, because our friend and madly talented artist and illustrator Helinor organised for us to stay in her quirky boutique apartment built into — wait for it — a moored ferry! It was the best thing ever! We drove up to the Marina, and there it was, all white with red and blue stripes, the SS Ngoiro, waiting for us in all its glory. Staying in the ferry for two nights literally made my trip. We also visited the infamous (to the locals) and divine Luke’s Kitchen and gallery, where we had coffee and shared delicious sugared vegan donuts and hazelnut bliss balls while catching up on work, and Hot Water Beach where you can dig a hole into the sand and let it fill up with hot water to bathe in. (I totally didn’t do it because it was cold and windy, but I came and I saw.) And of course went on lots of walks. Glorious!

 

 

VM's travel guide to the North Island of New Zealand: Raglan

 

Raglan

 

The last stop on our 5 week road-trip around New Zealand was Raglan, and nuzzled right beside Coromandel, was my ultimate favourite place on the North Island. The chilled surfer vibe is moreish and the people matchless in their kindness, warmth and welcoming attitude. As soon as we arrived I deeply regretted not having lived in Raglan for a few months. We were lucky enough to spend 2 nights in a quirky old train caboose at Solscape, a sustainable eco-lodge set up high on the hill a short walk from the world-famous surf of Manu Bay and Ngarunui Beach with breathtaking views over the Tasman Sea. I had a jam-packed day of client calls on the first day, but as soon as I was finished, wandered the streets in awe of the creativity and self-expression oozing from the locals, and the endless choice of amazing coffee shops in the little streets that make up Raglan. We also met up with online holistic business coach Sabrina from Hello Freedom Lifestyle and her husband Sam, who very kindly and generously offered us their comfortable AirBnB room in their incredibly beautiful tree house set in the hinterland of Raglan. Leaving Raglan was hard in two facets: because 3 days simply wasn’t enough time to really feel into the beauty and magic of Raglan; and because this was the beginning of the end.

 

 

 

VM's travel guide to the North Island of New Zealand: Auckland

 

Auckland

 

Auckland is far from a favourite city, but it does create full circle in this particular story that is my experience for New Zealand, and duly, I hold a certain fondness for it. We spent the entire time organising ourselves to leave this part of the world behind, changing money, packing bags, closing bank accounts, selling the car, tying up loose ends and catching up with friends.

 

Right now, we find ourselves en-route to the airport. I want to leave you with some inspiring words that summarise the past 10 months in New Zealand. And as I ponder the immensity of it all, I realise that the hidden gems are yet to reveal themselves to me. It is often with hindsight and introspection, that I receive the greatest gifts that any experience and country gives me.

 

My non-negotiable travel essentials + packing list.

My non-negotiable travel essentials + packing list.

 

To travel is to take a journey into yourself. | Danny Kaye

 

Travel acts as a truth serum. I recommend travel as a tangible inquisition into the depths of your soul. There is nothing like travel to accentuate your buried strengths, expose your slight deficiencies and shine a bright light on the unique magic that you bring into the world.

 

As I am sitting here, writing, my love is next to me, planning out the places we might go from Borneo to Myanmar to Vietnam and everywhere in between. In 3 days we will embark on the greatest adventure of our relationship: 6 months in unchartered parts of South East Asia. He’s the planner in our relationship, while I prefer to arrive, and see which way the winds blow me, so I nod and smile, as he points out places we absolutely must visit.

 

While I’m an expert at solo-wanders, traveling in a couple is a whole new world for me. I confess I am equally exhilarated and intrigued. This journey will be an adventure unlike any other.

 

Every week I receive many enthusiastic emails from gorgeous readers wondering things like…

 

“I want to travel the world with my work. How can I do it?”

“I’m about to leave on an indefinite world-wide trip. What do I pack?”

“What are my absolute must-have essentials for travels?”

“Have I missed anything? I’m scared and leaving tomorrow!”

 

Etc, etc, etc.

 

These are the best questions to receive in my email, because if you’re as enthusiastic about travel as I am, then we are bound to be friends. After 13 years of on-going indefinite travel plans I’ve got a pretty clear idea of what is required and included.

 

So I have put together my non-negotiable travel essentials and packing list, for anyone taking their life (and work) on the road for an indefinite period of time. Things like: visas, banking, portable office, emotional and health precautions and what (and what not) to pack. I hope this gives you the confidence to fill your rucksack and take a leap into the atlas, to re-acquaint yourself with the depths of your soul.

 

Enjoy!

 

Booking flights.

 

(Almost) every journey begins with a flight. I keep flight searches simple. I start by going to Google Flights to get a first impression of dates and costs. Often (more often than not) I find the flight I want there, but sometimes I like to check in other places like Momondo and Skyscanner, just to compare. When I find a flight I like, I’ll also check with the airline directly, to see if they have any specials or better deals, which is often the case. I tend to book my flights a few weeks out even though that’s not necessarily the most cost-effective route, simply because my life changes so often and so quickly, that in the end it works out better, as I save in flight change fees.

 

Hot tip: Mondays and Tuesdays tend to be the cheapest days to fly.

 

 

Emotional preparations.

 

The emotional rollercoaster that escorts travel, especially the kind that is unplanned and open-ended, the kind that leads to adventure and spirited inner growth, often arrives unannounced and in the most unexpected ways. There are family members to console, who think you are leaving them (no matter how often you tell them you love them forever); friends who are terrified you will change (and you will); and your own fears and anxieties to quell. Remember that these emotions are part of the experience, and choose to find your zen throughout it all by practicing patience, compassion, openness, courage and acceptance.

 

Hot tip: 3 days before your departure, you will likely encounter “the freak-out”. It includes completely questioning your plans, feeling that you are absolutely not ready, and wanting to cancel everything. This is normal. Breathe through it. The moment you step onto that plane all this tension will dissolve and will be replaced by heartfelt excitement and joy.

 

 

Travel insurance, banking and visas.

 

I always get travel insurance through World Nomads. They are simply the most competitive and best that I have found. I try to have $100 USD in a hidden pocket, just in case of emergencies, and beyond that, pull out local currency in lots of $400 or $500 (depending on what the maximum of the ATM is) when I arrive. It tends to be the cheapest and simplest way that I have found. In first world countries like Europe, the UK, North America, Australia and NZ, I open up accounts so I can transfer money from my PayPal account into them without having currency costs and fees to deal with. I always work and travel on tourist visas. It’s easy, inexpensive and hassle free. Except for in Europe because I was born there, and Australia because I’m a permanent resident there.

 

Hot tip: If you have a freelance or online business like I do, talk to your accountant about how to make your travels work for you. All my travels are tax-deductible for me, because they are part of my “education business”. I pay taxes every year in Australia, because that’s where my business is registered, but my accountant is awesome, and I’ve not literally had to pay anything, yet.

 

 

Places to stay.

 

The next thing you will want to organise is where to stay. I like to reach out to my global online community first and foremost, to see who is out there, in the places I am going. Sometimes they have a spare room to rent, or recommendations or friends I can stay with, which is awesome. I love connecting and staying with real people, rather than outsourcing places to stay. Second to that, I also like to use AirBnB, Booking.com and WorkAway, as options and solutions.

 

Hot tip: WorkAway is different, as it allows you to exchange your time for food and accommodation, and give you really authentic experience, plus covering your basic expenses, as you learn about the new culture you are exploring. This is perfect for slow travels, especially for those still growing their business, and wanting to save some money while giving back to the local community.

 

 

Portable office.

 

I’m a fan of sweet and simple. My entire portable office includes: My Filofax, Mac Air laptop, Olympus Pen 1 camera and an assorted ziplock bag of pens. Everything else is organised digitally, some of which I outline in my Love List. I pack it all into my small canvas duffel bag which goes with me practical everywhere, so I can stop and work whenever and wherever I go.

 

Hot tip: Create systems and processes that mean you don’t have to print anything. Printing on paper kills trees and is a serious waste.

 

 

Packing essentials.

 

Unless you’re going to Australia or New Zealand everything you could possibly want or need is going to be cheaper at your destination. Which means that I recommend not buying anything extra for your trip, using what you have, and buying what you need upon arrival. This goes for: electronics, beauty and personal products, clothes and so on. Literally everything.

 

Beauty: I keep it simple. I use Dr. Bronner’s Sandalwood and Jasmine liquid soup; virgin coconut oil for my body (and face as a makeup removes and even moisturizer sometimes); Sukin Restoring Night Cream, Kiehl’s Skin Tone Correcting BB Cream + Sunscreen in Medium; Buxom Lash Mascara in Black; a no-brand black kohl eyeliner and a liquid eyeliner I picked up somewhere along the way for sultry nights; an eyebrow power kit I bought in a supermarket once and a cherry lip and cheek tint by Glory Boon. I usually get all the important places waxed, but always have a razor and tweezers handy for emergencies, and carry around loofah gloves because sometimes you just need a good scrubbing.

 

Health: I travel with Spirulina powder; Magnesium tablets; and Melatonin to help with relaxation and adjusting to time zones quickly and easily.

 

Clothes: Since my travels are always open-ended, and I never know what seasons I will encounter, I always, always pack clothes that can carry me from hot, sweltering summers (my personal preference) to mild winter, and will purchase any additional clothes and jackets that I might require upon arrival. In an attempt to give you an idea what that looks like, I am spilling the current contents of my bag.

 

For cooler weather: 3 pairs of jeans; 2 warm weather dresses; 3 knitted sweaters; 2 long-sleeved tops; 1 hooded sweater; 1 flannel; 1 leather jacket; and a scarf that doubles as a blanket on cold flights and bus rides. These are all optimal layering clothes where almost everything can work together in some way.

For warmer weather: 2 pairs of denim shorts; 2 muscle t’s; 3 t-shirts, 2 playsuits; 6 dresses, 1 kimono, 1 light jacket.

Everything else: 2 pairs of leggings that double as pyjamas / lounge-around-the-house clothes; a pair of yoga leggings; 4 bras; 1 sports bra; 9 pairs of panties; 3 sets of bikinis; 5 pairs of socks and my current favourite 5 rings, 2 necklaces and 1 pair of earrings.

Footwear: 1 pair of ankle boots; 1 pair of runners; and 1 pair of leather sandals.

 

Hot tip: When at tropical, warm beaches, go find a bit of beach with privacy, grab a handful of wet sand, and scrub your body with it. It feels amazing, and is the best natural exfoliation you could ask for, leaving your skin baby-soft, as soon as you dip into the water to wash it off. Nature is the best beautifier! (Don’t forget to follow it up with coconut oil when you get back to your abode.)

 

 

Luggage: I absolutely adore and recommend using duffel roller bags. They’re easy to manage, can fit a surprising amount in them and are hardy. I’ve taken mine across the scariest borders and through glamorous hotels, and they stand the test of time, no matter what. I used to have one from Dakine that looked a bit like this, and now I have a Quicksilver one that’s similar to this.

 

Hot tip: I like compartmentalising my bag so one area is filled with things that I rarely use (i.e. winter clothes during summer), and the other is one that I access often, so I don’t have to rummage around everything to find what I am looking for.

 

 

Carry-on: My carry-on essentially doubles as my portable office. So it includes everything outlined above, plus some nuts to snack on in emergencies, my Brita filtered water bottle, my scarf / blanket in case I get cold, Yes to Cucumbers facial wipes, my Medicine Mama’s Bee Magic Wand for dry face, lips and skin from airport transfers and some essential lavender oil for relaxation and to rescue me from any surrounding stink.

 

Hot tip: Keep your passport and important documents in your handbag or purse rather than your carry-on bag to keep them easy to access and always carry a pen. It will come handy when you least expect it, and will help you make friends.

 

 

Healthy transit.

 

This section could really have an article all of its own. I’m very sensitive to travel and my environment, and so I try to keep things as easy and stress-free as possible. I arrive at airports early, especially because I love prowling through the duty-free for unusual deals. I usually fast during flights, and just drink teas and lots of water, because flying messes with my stomach, and pack nuts to nibble on in case I can’t get a healthy meal upon landing. I take my makeup off, if I’m wearing any, before take-off to let my skin breathe, and spritz it with water and moisturize it during the flight to keep it hydrated because the airplanes suck everything out of you. And I take Melatonin during the flight to relax and sleep as much as possible.

 

Hot tip: Staying hydrated is the kindest thing you can do for your body. Make sure you bring a big bottle with you, that you can fill up at the water stations in the airport (they all have them). The tiny cups they give you en route are simply not enough. 

 

 

Older travel articles you might enjoy on this topic.

 

I want to help people, and travel, and I don’t know how to start.

Travel-hack your way into free first-class flights.

The modern-day gypsies travel essentials guide.

10 tips on keeping healthy while traveling.

8 gypset travel tips for keeping it simple.

The dark side of travel.

 

 

The Free-Spirited Collective — July 2016 — is focused on your emotional foundation.

The Free-Spirited Collective -- July 2016 -- is focused on your emotional foundation.

 

We have made it halfway through 2016 — its July — and the third ever edition of The Free-spirited Collective it out!

 

This is an extra-special edition as it includes a fascinating insight into understanding men, in this month’s podcast, as well as a chance to win a one of 5 specially curated flower essence elixirs worth $22 USD plus postage and handling!

 

Read on, to learn all about what’s included in this months The Free-Spirited Collective.

 

The energy of this month is focused on your emotional foundation. It is a time where you are most emotionally vulnerable. It is also where you may be at your most emotionally withdrawn or protective.

 

This vulnerability can be used as a gift to deepen relationships and take time to develop your own inner strength and connection to yourself.

 

You have probably become so accustomed to feeling certain ways and believing in what you believe, that changing might feel scary and overwhelming. It is often easier to protect what you know than to be vulnerable and open to what you don’t know.

 

This month is the opportunity to observe your habits and emotionsto check whether they actually serve you — and change your inner world, to start reflecting a life that fulfils your emotional desires.

 

 

PODCAST: Understanding Men. A deeper view into the emotional psyche of the modern man.

 

The theme for this month is all about our emotional foundation. Our focus is on how we feel and how those feelings influence our lives and choices. Being emotional brings with it a need for vulnerability and openness, as well as being receptive. Most of our pieces in The Free-Spirited Collective are centred on how we can make choices that set us free and bring us more freedom.

 

In this interview, we are pivoting a little to talk about the emotional engagement with the men in our lives, so we can be more open and receptive, as well as take responsibility of how we show up in relation to them. Sharing his profound insight in this interview is writer, personal transformation innovator and creative entrepreneur, Dane Tomas, as we dive into a deep and juicy Q&A on understanding men, based on real questions fielded from you, my collective tribe.

 

 

 

VIDEO: How to stop feeling insecure, powerless and fearful, using 7 epic tools to take charge and fully own your life.

 

Using your emotions as a guide to bolster and strengthen your inner sense of power, and resolve to create the life that you truly want for yourself, is where the magic lies in your emotional highs and lows.

 

However often, you perceive emotions, especially negative ones, to mean that there is something wrong with you, and that you do not have the ability to change or harness this energy, because it feels so strong. In this video, I share how our emotions can be used as tools for transformation and teach you 7 tools to use your negative emotions to take charge and fully own your life.

 

 

ASTRO GUIDE: July 2016 Astro-Guide.

 

Our life choices are rooted in trust. It’s a matter of how much we trust the people around us. It’s also a matter of how much we trust ourselves.

Our trust is developed or destroyed by how we interpret the events and experiences of our lives.

Our astrologist Danielle Polar guides us to view July as a great month to tap into your intuition as a trusted source of guidance, and become receptive to the subtle shifts in your energy. It’s also a great time to take responsibility for your creative insights, which means being able to respond to the information you receive in a constructive way.

 

 

GIFT: Open + Receptive Flower + Gem Elixir.

 

My sweet friend Valeria from The Soul Essence has created a very special flower essence blend, specifically for The Free-Spirited Collective this month: Open + Receptive Flower + Gem Elixir  { Star Tulip – Bellflower – Star Sapphire}.

 

This month we have partnered together to give away 5 of these unique flower essences to the first 5 folk who sign up for The Free-Spirited Collective in July. It’s first come, first served, so if joining our collective calls to you, we love to see you in our circle.

 

Open + Receptive is an excellent flower essence to connect deeply with your inner wise-self and receive the soulful guidance that you are seeking.

 

The alchemy of this blend will work in two ways:

 

  • Firstly, it will allow you to be open + receptive to the messages of your inner voice enhancing dreaming, prayer, meditation and any form of listening.

 

  • Secondly, it will promote trust in the universe, so you can take inspired action and let your dreams, ideas and desires come true.

 

The Soul Essence – Botanical Therapies is a holistic brand providing you alchemical soul healing journeys, and uplifting and supportive Flower Remedies to help you evoke the essence of your soul.

 

 

Join us for The Free-Spirited Collective here. 

 

 

Illustration by Victoria Rosas.

 

VM’s travel guide to the South Island of New Zealand

VM's travel guide to the South Island of New Zealand

 

There’s something truly exceptional about the South Island of New Zealand. Something that stills your heart and mind. Something that makes you stop and listen to the whispers of the ancients in the winds.

 

Maybe it’s that dreamy purple dusk haze, that cover the hills and mountains before sunset every afternoon. Maybe it’s the untouched wide skies, and endless rolling hills that shimmer in golden light. Maybe it’s because here, everyone, and everything, slows down. It slows down enough to allow slivers of stillness and presence into each moment.

 

It’s probably all those things, and more.

 

Every day, as we travel around theses precious lands, I watch the magic unfold in front of me outside the passenger side window, I am so happy to be able to share my experience and favorite moments with you, of New Zealand’s South Island.

 

I am taking you around the island clockwise, in the direction we have been traveling, starting in Kaikoura, and going south along the east coast from there. I hope these words and beautiful images inspire you to, one day soon, have an adventure here of your own.

 

 

VM's travel guide to the South Island of New Zealand: Kaikoura

 

Kaikoura

 

Some places pull you in and hold you close for a little while. Kaikora is one of those places. Starting with the drive down, the views are spectacular, as with every corner, you get closer and closer to an astonishing landscape of sea and seals. The town itself is super cute, incredibly friendly and has lots of quaint little shops to explore. Julien went diving with the seals, while I went for a walk along the beach, had my hair cut, and did some unpretentious cafe-ing.

 

VM's travel guide to the South Island of New Zealand: Christchurch

 

Christchurch

 

With just one day to explore this city, the tenure that it left on my soul was one of hope. This city literally fell to pieces during the earthquakes a few years ago, and it’s surprising to see how much rubble and ruin is still left in its wake.

 

But everywhere radiates with the spirit of hope and new beginnings. There are tonnes of street art, boutique stores, a mall made of shipping containers, and delightful restaurants and bars. My personal highlights were the botanic gardens, the giant playground, the collection of food trucks and colourful seats and tables in Cathedral Square, and the quirky and colourful New Regent Street pictured above.

 

 

VM's travel guide to the South Island of New Zealand: Timaru

 

Timaru

 

I absolutely loved some of the art deco architecture left behind in Timaru, that is supposed to represented luxury, glamour, exuberance and faith in social and technological progress, as beyond the architecture, this is a sleepy little middle-class family town. We had intended to settle here for three months as you know, but the universe had different plans.

 

The Farmer’s Market is rad; I bought a dozen free-range eggs, kale, silverbeet, tomatoes, spaghetti squash, garlic and jams, all organic, for under $20 NZD which fed us for half the week, and were amazing. There’s also a fantastic aquatic centre where we swam some laps, sweated out the toxins in the sauna and spa, and an amazing park complete with bird sanctuary, and a skate park. There are lots of old churches, and the main street is pretty cute, but mostly, it’s a ‘living’ town more than a ‘visiting’ town.

 

 

VM's travel guide to the South Island of New Zealand: Oamaru

 

Oamaru

 

From the moment we arrived, we were pleasantly surprised: the town is filled with creative arts and unique characters. In the first hour we met a (real) wizard’s apprentice, tasted aged whiskey, went to the incredible steampunk museum ‘Steampunk HQ’ and were welcomed into the home of a local. Oamaru also has the amazing Scott’s Brewing Company, where you can sit amongst the casks and vats that the beers are being fermented in, a cute little Farmer’s Market, and little fairy penguins who wander through the street holding hands once the sun has gone down. (Seriously.) My personal highlights was the sunset at Bushy Beach — it was so wow — and the Grainstore Gallery which was like entering a magical wonderland that reminded me of Dr Pernassus’ Imaginarium .

 

 

VM's travel guide to the South Island of New Zealand: Dunedin.

 

Dunedin

 

Dunedin astonished me. I thought it would just be a big old grey city, but as it turns out, it’s a hub of creativity, art, music and self-expression. We spent the first day playing full-on tourists and took the spectacular street-art walk all around the city centre (you can get a map for it at the i-site), and drove to Sandfly Bay to see the seals and penguins. Seals we did see, but the penguins evaded us this time. This beach is so beautiful, there are no words, so the picture above must suffice.

 

Our lovely Air BnB host happened to be a ‘IT guy’ which meant the wi-fi was most excellent, in perfect timing for my jam-packed mentoring days, while we were there. We also walked up the world’s steepest street, and on our way out, visited Tunnel Beach with its raw and rugged cliffs, powerful crashing waves and creepy caves to explore and hide in.

 

 

VM's travel guide to the South Island of New Zealand: Invercargill

 

Invercargill

 

It really is the little things in life. Arriving at the Bella Vista Motel in Invercargill, we were warmly welcomed and greeted by the kindest manager motel manager in New Zealand, Neil, who immediately took his time to present us with the best things to see in town, before showing us our room for the night. Julien threw himself onto the bed straight away and practically melted with contentment, before inhaling the complimentary chocolate chip cookies.

 

The next morning we explored the recommended E Hayes & Sons hardware store. As strange as it sounds, this hardware store is the home of something quite unusual: over 100 exhibits of one of the world’s finest private collections of classic motorcycles, automobiles and engines, blended in to a store that sells pretty much everything you could ever need. Julien was in motorbike heaven, while I appreciated the sweet family atmosphere, and marvelled at the fact that most of the staff were somehow still involved in motorbike racing and knew everything about every piece of machinery we walked past. We also went to Queens Park to walk around the art gallery, hang out in the animal reserve, and explore the gardens.

 

 

VM's travel guide to the South Island of New Zealand: Te Anau / Milford Sound

 

Te Anau / Milford Sounds

 

Driving from Invercargill to Te Anau, the final town before hitting the infamous fiord lands, was spectacular. I’ve driven down some pretty amazing coasts including the stretch along the Pacific State Highway from Los Angels to Santa Barbara, and The Great Ocean Road between Melbourne and Adelaide, but I think this one takes the cake. I couldn’t stop gasping with astonishment and wonder. Green lush rolling hills scattered with sheep and edged by wild ocean, gave way to rugged snow-capped mountains, golden grasses and steep inclines as we drove along the bottom edge of New Zealand.

 

When we arrived we checked into the incredibly efficient and friendly Distinction Te Anau Hotel and Villas, and were pleasantly surprised to have lakeside views, and that the hotel had a heated pool and spa to relax in. Also, the wi-fi works most excellently here, which is always a plus when you work online, and not something you can rely on. I sincerely wanted to stay in and chill for the rest of the day, but managed to pull myself together enough for a walk around the cute little town that is Te Anau, and the gateway to exploring the fiord lands.

 

The next day we made the unforgettable journey to Milford Sounds. It was my turn to drive, and I kept getting so distracted by the insane beauty of it all, that Julien disallowed me to look around anymore, not even to see the rainbow that had popped out behind us, because I was becoming a danger on the road. My wild driving however delivered us there just in time for our ‘Encounter Nature’ tour with Southern Discoveries. Which was so amazing! Dolphins came and played beside our boat, we saw baby fur seals, got up close with waterfalls and learned all about the fiord from our eloquent nature guide.

 

 

VM's travel guide to the South Island of New Zealand: Queenstown

 

Queenstown

 

Thanks to the lovely receptionist Anna, we got to check in early at the sweet boutique Motel Colonial Village, and I immediately had a hot bath with my cup of coffee and enjoyed the lake and mountain view directly out the bathroom window. Traveling around a country while running a business has its challenges, which are made much more enjoyable when you have a comfortable place to stay, so while I promptly sat down to catch up on several days worth of email and work, Julien cooked up a storm in our little kitchenette, and we didn’t leave for the rest of the day.

 

The following day we explored the town, walked around the lake and met up with friends who serendipitously happened to be in Queenstown at the same time as us. Not to mention enjoyed the most delicious dinner at Caribe Latin Kitchen, one of the many excellent eating choices in Queenstown. Everyone kept raving about Ferg Burger too, but there just wasn’t enough time.

 

On our last morning, as I marvelled at the pink and purple sunrise from my steaming jasmine and sandalwood scented bath, in our quaint little cottage at Colonial Village, I felt an overwhelming sense of appreciation for the natural beauty of this little corner of the world, and for having opportunity to be here, and breath in the vibe, that makes Queenstown the magnetic epicentre that it is. We took the Gondola up the mountain, marvelled at the view, raced each other down the mountain in Luge carts (6 times!), Julien bungy’d off the ledge, and visited a friend at the snow fields of Cardrona, before driving onwards to Wanaka.

 

 

 

VM's travel guide to the South Island of New Zealand: Wanaka

 

Wanaka

 

Just when I think that this trip around the South Island couldn’t get any better, especially after the beauty of the Milford Sound, New Zealand turns it up a notch. We checked into Edgewater on Lake Wanaka in the late afternoon. Climbing the stairs up to our accommodation, we were excited to see what we would find, only to be greeted by the most beautifully designed one bedroom apartment, one that dreams are made of. Past the modern kitchen, through the living room, with office space (yes!!!), and into the grand master bedroom which led into the pristine bathroom complete with a giant waterfall bathtub, double sinks and double showers. Perfect for two, n’es pas?

 

Due to the rainy, drizzly grey during our days in Wanaka, and the luxurious comfort of our accommodation, apart from a walk around the lake and to check out the town, we remained indoors, catching up on work and enjoying a little downtime while we could. Wanaka is famed for being away from the hustle and bustle of Queenstown, while still being close to all the snow sports your heart could desire, and I can imagine in the peak season that it would be the perfect place to base yourself.

 

 

VM's travel guide to the South Island of New Zealand: Franz Josef

 

Franz Josef Glacier

 

We must have seen over 100 waterfalls on the road from Wanaka to Franz Josef. I was mesmerised by the mass of water that seemed to be falling from the mountains sides all around us.

 

When we checked into our cosy little cabin at Rainforest Retreat, we were given all the best tips for hikes in the area, and planned a big day of walking for the next two days. There are so may hikes here, many of them are free, and there are some paid ones for when you want to go higher up into the glacier. We stuck to the ones we could easily access by foot and the next morning did the walk to the Franz Josef Glacier pictured above. Apparently the blue glacier has been receding and the mountains around in moving tremendously every year, partly due to global warming, and partly due to the mountains being alive, and constantly shifting. We could get to 150 metres close to it, whereas a few years ago the glacier actually began at the foot of the hike we did. The scenery along the way is worth every step, as we essentially walked with our mouths open in wonder.

 

That night we did another hike down a dark, forested pathway to see glowworms. There were so many of them, it seemed like little fairies were dancing all around us at every step. I was also quietly terrified because, well… I’m a little bit afraid of the dark in outdoors because I can’t see, and I feel like I’m being watched. We did happen to stumble upon a giant possum on the way which made me squeal, but it was actually perfectly safe.

 

It was rainy the entire time we were there, as the whole West Coast had predicted a very wet week of storms, but we persevered and went for one more hike, to see an abandoned mining shaft the next morning, before heading off to our final destination before completing the loop of the South Island.

 

 

VM's travel guide to the South Island of New Zealand: Punakaiki

 

Punakaiki

 

I happened to be really grumpy and tired on this day. After traveling non-stop for two and a half weeks, I just wanted to spend a day doing nothing. But I managed to pull myself together to see the Punakaiki ‘pancake rocks’ and I am so glad I did. Unfortunately I couldn’t quite capture the magic of them, you really have to be there, but they look like little cities where magical creatures would live. I was blown away, once again, by the spectacular natural beauty of this country, and so grateful to have the opportunity to see and be in so many beautiful, special places. I have a feeling that Punakaiki holds some incredibly powerful, ancient energy, because my entire mood shifted from low energy, to uplifted and spirited, and there was this magic in the air, that words cannot possibly convey. We spent the night nearby and then drove back to our starting point: Nelson, where we had been living for the 6 months prior.

 

 

VM's travel guide to the South Island of New Zealand: Nelson

 

Nelson / Picton

 

Nelson became ‘home’ for a while in December 2015, because we had heard that it was the sunniest part of New Zealand. And perhaps it was, though we have had amazing weather most of the time, so it’s hard to compare. Passing through a place is very different to living in it, so I”m just going to share some of my favourite places, that I spent the most time in. Hot Yoga Nelson, run by Anita, the loveliest owner ever, was a safe haven where I stretched and strengthen my body and soul on most days, while every Saturday morning was devoted to the Nelson Farmers Market with some of the freshest, most seasonal and well priced produce in the land. I adored my mornings at the markets, making sure I got to my favourite stalls before I ran out of the best things, and sharing tea and slices of cake at a gypsy themed Dutch caravan stall with friends. Dinners at the vegetarian East Street Cafe were devourd with gusto, and I loved sitting in the Morri Street Cafe, watching the world go by.

 

Today, we are driving to Picton, to take the ferry back up to Wellington and then zig zag across the North Island. I can’t wait to share this next chapter with you soon.

 

Are you one of 8% of all people?

Are you one of 8% of all people?

 

Did you know that, according to Forbes, only 8% of people actually do what they say they want to do, and follow their dreams, per year?

 

Social psychologists say that it’s because just saying things like “This year I’m going to travel.” or “This year I’m going to get out of the cubicle and create a lifestyle that make me feel happy, excited and whole!” is too vague, and doesn’t include achievable metrics, necessary for people to take action.

 

When I first started dreaming of having a lifestyle that included getting paid well for doing work that I love, lots of travel, devotion to my inner and outer growth, and spending time around genuine people who were enthusiastic and brilliant at what they were doing, what I really knew was what I didn’t want.

 

I knew, in a very roughly estimated way, how I wanted life to look like. I wanted to be free from the social obligations and limited paradigms that included working long hours for little money, suffocating your own soulful creative expressions, and getting drunk on the weekends to still the sullen heart that was crying out to be heard. But I had no idea what steps to take to actually get there. On top of that, I didn’t have people around me who were living examples of the life I wanted to create for myself. Nor did I have any support from those around me to go for those big dreams.

 

Without a fundamental example to guide me in the direction that I wanted to lean, I felt like I was making it all up.

 

I was always the one with my head in the sky, and big, lofty intentions and desires. I spent most of my early 20’s hanging out with troubadours, gypsies and misfits, because in those places I discovered a sense of limitlessness, that I couldn’t detect in conventional society. Even though most of these people were poor, they had a similar dreams to mine. Freedom. The kind of freedom that allows you to explore your own psyche, to actually get to know yourself, so your choices stem from an inner urging; a spirited uprising, rather than an external expectation.

 

By the time I reached 26, I fell out of love with the reckless lifestyles of the misfits. While they were free in their day-to-day, they’re were just as stuck as the rest of society, chained by the beliefs that they were victims, and the world was against them, and that being a creative artist or gentle dreaming soul meant that you would never find you place in the world and could never enjoy wealth and abundance. They were the outsiders, and firmly placed themselves there.

 

I went on a personal mission to find my own way.

 

A way where I was free to be myself, and to have a life that included beautiful, affluent experiences, and made a positive impact in the world, while allowing me to be the greatest expression of my purpose that I could possibly be. It seemed so impossible and far-fetched to begin with. I had so many beliefs that my dreams were not designed for me, but for other people, who had the opportunities and support systems that I didn’t have.

 

Given, there are many people who have advantages that you may not have. And yet there is something deliciously rebellious about, despite any disadvantages that may be holding you back, to prove yourself and the world, wrong. Sometimes, the mere fact that what you want is almost untouchable, is exactly what makes it achievable. Because you are willing to go places, no-one else has.

 

In my search I read books about manifesting, about living your purpose, about money mindset, about breaking through limitations, about astrology and moon cycles, about spirituality and about setting goals. I travelled in northern parts of Africa, in India, Asia and the Middle East. I tasted foods from the spoons of princes, and from the hands of beggars. And I lost myself, and found myself many times over.

 

Here’s what I learned that put me in the 8% of all people.

 

 

Living your purpose is a moment to moment practice.

 

I used to think that I had to figure out what my thing is first, and then passionately throw myself at it, until it was complete. While that approach does work for some people, it doesn’t for me. As it turns out, my thing is ever-evolving. And the living my purpose part? It’s showing up as my best self in every single moment.

 

My purpose is literally showing up, as myself, in the very best way that I can. Some days it means writing that scary email, article or post; creating something new; or speaking to that person that I admire beyond words. On other days it means building a nest in my bed, and holding down the fort with cups of tea, and words of anguish, and tears. Because some days my purpose is being in the beautiful flow of life, and other days it’s being in the messy wildness of it. Living my purpose simply requires me stepping up to what the day holds and being the human container of it.

 

 

No one has it all figured out, and no one can give you the answers. You really do get to make it all up.

 

For most of my life, I was under the impression that, somewhere out there, someone would hold all the answers for me. The answers to how to do the things I wanted to do, how to ask for the things I desired, how to approach the people who I admired, how to make that first $million. And while there are many incredible people doing many amazing things, they are stumbling forward blindly just as much as you are. Some of them have just stumbled forward blindly a bit further than you.

 

You can learn from others, their successes and their mistakes, but what works (or doesn’t work) for them, will be different for you. There is only one way to find out, and that is to try it. Every time you take step forward, you will learn what works for you and what doesn’t. You literally get to make up how to design your life, using your imagination, trusting your intuition, and following what feels right.

 

 

Setting goals and intentions, and planning ahead isn’t the antichrist.

 

I used to be terrified of setting goals and intentions. I would say that I didn’t want to limit myself in this way, because it took away my freedom. But there was something deeper than my fear of losing my freedom running the show. I was terrified of failing. I was paralysed by the thought that I might not be able to achieve what I dreamed to have, do and be. So I saved myself from feeling the pain of failure, but not having anything to fail. Isn’t that clever.

 

I thought goals were rigid markers in my path of life, and that I couldn’t adjust them, to match my ever-changing reality. But I was wrong. Learning to set goals and intentions, gave me tangible and achievable metrics, that motivated me to take action. And when I “failed” I learned what wasn’t working, so I could do more of what was working.

 

 

Want to know the magic formula? = Get clear on what it is. Break it down. Start doing it.

 

The easiest and fastest route to actually doing what you say you want to do, and living your dreams, isn’t knowing how to do it. It’s getting clear on what is it is that you want to be, do and have, and then breaking it down into tiny micro-actions that you can do every day. Those micro-actions are grounded in your current reality, and simultaneously leaning towards the reality you are designing for yourself. The question you want to be asking yourself is What can I do right now, that leads me closer to being where I want to be?. And then do that.

 

For me, one of the things I wanted to be is an eloquent, proficient and perhaps even mesmerizing writer. I wrote down what that would look like. I made a plan of how I could show up, every day. And then I started doing it. I had been writing for many years, but no-one saw my writing. In order for my writing to evolve and ameliorate, it had to engage with real people, and be breathed in by souls who would (or would not) connect with it. So I started a blog. The first 6 months of writing on that blog was awful. But I needed to be awful to become better. Otherwise I would have hidden in a closet forever. And from those first 6 painful months, an entire universe opened up for me, beyond my wildest dreams.

 

This is possible for anything. It’s a simple formula. Anyone can do it.

 

 

Everything in life is a reflection of you. You want to see change? Get committed and consistent.

 

One of my biggest fears in life, has always been loss of freedom. And in my mind, I merged feeling bored, with feeling stuck. Which meant that things like commitment, consistency and routine, were adamantly avoided. It wasn’t until one day in a Bikram Yoga class, where every single sequence is always the same, when I noticed that I had become stronger and more flexible, improvements that had only occurred because I committed myself to showing up for class consistently. I had one of the weird aha moments, when I realised that the same concept could be applied to anything else in life. In order for me to experience a positive change in any area of my life I had to commit and show up for myself consistently. For some people this is a no-brainer. For me, it was huge. If there’s one thing that I say to every single one of my clients, it’s that consistency is key

 

 

When you position your life with personal values and self-worth being top priorities everything changes.

 

I used to think this was very selfish. In fact many people believe this is selfish. Even my mother once told me that the choices I was making were selfish. But the caveat is that you are not living for other people. You are living for yourself. People who put their self-worth and personal values first, admire other people who do the same. It’s like joining an elite club of people who actually do what they say they want to do, and are living their dreams. Crazy, right? While this is an area I’m personally still working on, it feels good to have boundaries, and be able to say no with grace and ease, because my personal values and self-worth are my top priorities. If you take anything away with you from this article, I hope it’s this.

 

 

You won’t believe it when you see it, you’ll see it when you believe it. You have to prove yourself to yourself.

 

So many people are waiting to feel worthy, waiting for permission, waiting for the education, waiting to believe in themselves, before they actually do what they say they want to do, and live their dreams. That’s a lot of waiting. I get it. I spent many years waiting for those things too. When I feel confident, I’ll write an article for a big magazine. When I believe in myself, I’ll start a business. When I have my qualification, I’ll start teaching what I know. 

 

But that feeling that you’re searching for, it never arrives. That person is never going to give you permission, and you will never be more ready than you are right now. There’s another way to approach it. You have to believe that you have the courage and hunger to prove yourself. You have to believe that even of you don’t know the way (and most of us don’t) you will figure it out as you go. And most of all you have to believe that the unknown is your friend, and that everything that is meant for you is on its way.

 

 

Experts say that if you can’t measure it you won’t do it. I say, when you know what it is you want, and you ardently focus on it, you will find your way. When you infuse your dreams with practical steps, that you start taking right now, anything is possible.

 

I also have another dream. A dream to make the dreams of people who are stuck, easier to achieve. By giving them the support and tangible steps to do what they say they want to do. I’ve started doing that in my monthly membership program the Free-Spirited Collective. It might be just the right amount of hand-holding and thrust in the right direction, that you are looking for. I’d love to see you join us, if you feel called.

 

 

Photography by Jessica Shirley.

 

How to make a difference in the world when there is so much hate, hurt, bad and evil. 

How to make a difference in the world when there is so much hate, hurt, bad and evil. 

 

I do not watch the news. Ever. I do not watch the news, not because I want to put my head in the sand and ignore what’s happening in the world. I do not watch the news because I care.

I care so much that even after 5 minutes my face is wet with tears. My heart hurts. I begin to wonder how and why this insanity even exists. And I spiral into a dark place of helplessness and hopelessness.

I also know the news isn’t a well-balanced source. It doesn’t show the even worse terrors that are happening in lesser-known places. It dramatizes and over-emphasizes. And it certainly doesn’t show any of the good that’s happening in the world.

The news is a source of insanity, fear, danger, pain, terror, horror, panic, anxiety, worry and bad.

Over 10 years ago, I decided to stop watching the news and instead, to dedicate my life to bringing truth, beauty, freedom and love to the world. And also peace, kindness, compassion, acceptance, openness, connection and calm. Because I care more than words can say.

Even though I don’t watch the news, it doesn’t escape me, when traumatic events take place. I do have Facebook after all, and Facebook is now essentially the new TV.

And it seems that there are just so many things happening that are totally out of alignment with truth, beauty, freedom and love. I can’t tell you why these things are happening. It baffles me as much as it baffles you.

But I can tell you how to make a difference in the world when there is so much hate, hurt, bad and evil.

 

  • Stop watching the news. It doesn’t help if you too, end up in dark place of helplessness and hopelessness. You can’t help or make a difference from that space.

 

  • Remember that what you give your energy and attention to expands. If you focus on the bad things that are happening in the world, you feed them with your energy, even if you look at them and discuss them with disgust and horror.

 

  • Start with you. In order to be a clear shining light of truth, beauty, freedom and love, you have to embody truth, beauty, freedom and love. Is there anywhere in your life where you are out of alignment? Are you living your values? Is there some clearing, letting go and de-cluttering you need to do in your life? If you want to make a positive difference, become a clear beaming light.

 

  • Know that everything you do, say and give your attention to, had an impact. Your choices have a ripple effect on the entire world. And you get to decide what that impact is. Choose the be an example of what you want the world to be. Be loving, be accepting, be kind, be generous. First and foremost with yourself, and when your cup is full with the world.

 

  • Understand that you cannot be of help, if you yourself are not whole and full. If you are struggling in your life whilst giving everything away to others, that’s not helping. That’s adding to the imbalance. Do your inner work first.

 

  • Encourage others to take responsibility for the impact they have in the world by being a leading example of mindful, vulnerable and kind living and free thinking. Don’t tell them what to do. Show them what to do.

 

  • Seek out the good in the world. The more we focus on what truth, beauty, freedom and love there is, the more it expands. The more we band together the stronger we are.

 

To make a difference in the world when there is so much hate, hurt, bad and evil, we have to recognize that there is more than meets the eye. And that we never will have the full picture. And that the best place to start, is right here, right now.

Let’s make the world a little lighter, sweeter and easier.

 

The past 7 days have been big.

The past 7 days have been big.

 

The past 7 days have been big.

 

Big and unexpected and filled with the energy of a wind storm.

 

Big in the sense that there is some huge re-ordering and restructuring happening in many lives right now. Mine included. With the most recent new moon vibes there is a cool freshness in the air.

 

Right now is the perfect time to soften, tune in, and listen to what your heart and soul are asking for.

 

Now is the time to embody those new insights, and start doing what needs to be done.

 

Right now is the time to write a new story for your life. One that has been waiting to be written, to be crafted and created by you. Incidentally, that’s precisely what the theme of this month’s The Free-Spirited Collective is all about.

 

Be ready for everything to change beyond your wildest comprehension of what is possible.

 

But remember, insight without action is nothing. And action takes courage, a willingness to move with the winds of change and an understanding of how to balance both the driven (masculine) and receiving (feminine) aspects of yourself.

 

A week ago today, I packed up my life again and left Nelson after 6 months. Julien and I drove to Christchurch, and spent two nights in the bed of a stranger, whom Julien had serendipitously met at a cafe a few months earlier. A spirited, out-going, generous and passionate entrepreneur, with a fascinating life story that keeps you wide-eyed and entertained until even the stars go to bed.

 

Then we drove further south, and stopped at the first house that I had arranged for us to view, to move into. We moved into it right away. After years of honing my manifesting skills, I’m pretty good at getting what I ask for. Warm with plenty of sunlight, modern, clean and tidy, quiet, with parking, walking distance to yoga and the Farmer’s Market, great wi-fi, fully furnished.

 

I spent that afternoon catching up on the week’s emails. There was one intensely heart-felt tenor that ran through every email I opened and read that day: how to find the courage and inspired hustle to take action and do the things you say you want to do.

 

Folks were feeling stuck, fearful, self-sabotaging and giving their power away. I lovingly replied. And also shared my thoughts here.

 

At 7.30am the next day Julien received a phone call from his new boss, asking him to come to a meeting. When he returned home, something had changed in his face. There was a shadow, that hadn’t been there before. “Yesterday the federal government cut 80% of the funding for conservation to the region. The contract that we moved for, it’s gone.” He looked at me a little fallen.

 

That night I couldn’t sleep.

 

I kept thinking about how this change in plans is a chance to make a new choice, something that feels fun and exciting and uplifts our spirits. Instead of seeing this turn of events as an obstruction, I saw it as an opportunity. I started dreaming about palm fronds, and tropical waters, and swimming with sea creatures and working in developing communities.

 

As soon as Julien awoke, I pounced in him and unsuspectingly overwhelmed him with my ideas. “We could go to Thailand and live on the beach, and you could do your dive master and I could weave my magic, and it would be so wonderful! Or we could go to the Philippines and volunteer our time teaching English to street children and go surfing, or even work in conservation at a marine park!” My suggestions and enthusiasm were endless.

 

Julien is a practical man, with very logical responses like money, and time, and plans and such. I get it. Men need to cover their bases. Not everyone is as free-spirited, or has created a life where it’s as easy to up and go as me. So we are biding our time, and coming to a compromise. We will travel around New Zealand slowly, keeping an eye open for possible options along the way. And if nothing wonderful shows up by the end of the month, we will got to Asia.

 

My heart won’t still and is jumping with joy at the thought of a new adventure.

 

Now, it’s 9pm and I’m sitting in bed, with the electric blanket on and a row of 70% dark chocolate to my left. The temperature is 5°C degrees celsius outside. There’s one more thing that keeps circling back in my mind. It’s about feeling stuck when you are wanting to take action, and do the things you say you want to do.

 

There are two ways to approach this.

 

1. Let it go.

Take off the pressure and stop pushing, striving and forcing yourself to do something that feels too big and too scary. Often, when we let things go, we realise what we are missing out on, if we don’t do them. It takes away the fear and replaces it with raw hunger. Or, it’s really not meant to be.

 

2. Stop thinking about it.

Too many times, there is a thick mist of thoughts between where you stand, and what you have to do. Those thoughts are fears, future-tripping and self-sabotage that stop you in your tracks. But here’s the thing: those thoughts, they are not real, and you do not have to believe them.

 

Beyond those two things is something far more terrifying: remaining frozen in indolence. Because if you do nothing, nothing is exactly what you get. You have to take action to learn, to grow, to get it right, to heal, to understand and to create.

 

Life is messy. It’s not a perfect container where everything occurs in a pristine, linear form, and one things falls in faultlessly beside the other. At its truest and most real, life is chaotic, convoluted, complex, intricate, tangled, tortuous and confusing. It’s filled to the brim with uncertainty, fuck-ups and shamble.

 

And that is exactly what makes it so incredibly beautiful, exciting and worth waking up for every single day.

 

Your job is not to know exactly how everything is supposed to be. Your job is taking what you have in this exact moment, as chaotic and messy and crazy as it is, and sculpt it into a vision of your own design.

 

The creations you make from what you envision can only appear by putting one foot in front of the other and actively choosing to uphold your purpose: to listen to what your heart and soul are asking for. And to embody those new insights, and start doing what needs to be done.

 

The words that I encourage you to hold close these next few days, as you move forward are courage, change, taking action and balance. They will guide you, as you move through these powerful times.

☾↠❍↞☽

 

 

Photography by Champagne Victoria

 

 

My 11 day at-home spirit, love + nurture retreat, + banana milkshake + soup detox in New Zealand.

My 11 day at-home spirit, love + nurture retreat, + banana milkshake + soup detox in New Zealand.

 

A retreat is to the whole of life what meditation is to each day. The soul gathers new strength and, transformed and sanctified, returns to the tasks and duties that fill up our lives. Giving oneself is easier when the soul has renewed its interior provision. | Elisabeth Leseur

 

 

I felt the emotion creep into my throat as I said goodbye to him. He leaned over from the passenger side seat and kissed me. “Have fun” and “I love you” I croaked as tears started to well up into my eyes. And then he was gone. And just as suddenly, so were the tears.

 

It was 5.15am and  I had just dropped Julien off at the airport to board his first series of flights to Fiji. As the weariness of the early morning stilled my mind, the sadness of his leaving, was quietly replaced by an expanding joy: the 11 days that stretched ahead of me that were to be 100% mine.

 

Months earlier I had decided to do a cleanse or detox while he was away. I came up with different ideas and plans, until finally intuition guided my to something softer, gentler and sweeter: an 11 day at-home self-love and nurture retreat and detox.

 

The more I delve deeper into creating — truly creating — my life, through intention, manifesting and holding the space to receive, the more I learn about the cellular, and at times even DNA-level changes that I have to make, and that take place within me, in order for me to be able to match the frequency of the reality that I creating.

 

I have spent most of my life in some state of adrenalin. From a hectic and unstable childhood, to drug use, to intensive head-first travel, to corrosive intimate relationships; adrenal ‘excitement’ was my normal. To the point that peaceful, loving, calm in my life felt like there was something ‘wrong’. And I would create some kind of situation or drama, to return to that adrenal level of ‘excitement’.

 

What I have discovered is that anxiety tends to be habitual rather than consequential.

 

Most of us allow anxiety, fear and adrenalin run the show of our lives, without actually realising it. We have been socialized to believe that this is ‘normal” and if normal means mainstream, then yes, it is normal. But it doesn’t have to be. And it most certainly shouldn’t be, if you’re aiming for extraordinary.

 

In the past two years particularly, my subconscious addiction to anxiety and adrenalin, is a pattern I have been addressing the most, by making daily, conscious, micro-changes in my choices, and the way I approach life. Learning to relax and be at ease with calm, gentle, loving, supportive and nourishing experiences has been ground-breaking in changing myself at a cellular level to allow even more ‘good’ into my life.

 

This retreat was the next step of allowing myself to receive the wholeness and fullness of those changes, and devoting myself to them entirely, in a very practical way.

 

I spent the first day mapping out and planning what I wanted my retreat to include and set my intentions.

 

INTENTIONS

  • (filling myself up with) Deep rest.
  • (making space for) Big dreams.
  • (next level) Connection with spirit.

 

 

DAILY SCHEDULE

 

While I wasn’t strict with my schedule except for the first part: mediate; lemon water; get ready for the day; most days pretty much went like this.

 

7.30 — 8.30am: Meditate.

8.30am — 9am: Drink freshly pressed lemon with warm water, and prepare for the day.

9am — 12pm: Work. Write or do my 1:1 client sessions.

12pm — 1pm: Banana milkshake (frozen bananas blended with water, cinnamon and natural peanut butter) for lunch. Sit in the sun if possible, or read inside.

1pm — 4pm: Depending on the day and how I felt I would either work, especially if I had client calls. Or I would read, go for a walk, write in my journal, play my ukulele, sing, go to a meeting, get a massage, see my osteopath, or simply be still and rest.

4pm — 6pm: Have my soup, chill out, relax and rest, and get ready for yoga.

6pm — 8pm: Yoga.

8pm — 9pm: Take care of any last-minute emails and social media posts for the day, and get ready for bed.

9pm — 11pm: Either read and then do a mediation, or mediate and then go straight to sleep.

 

 

THE EXPERIENCE

 

The first two days my mind was busy tuned into a more spacious, relaxed way of spending my time and I felt so hungry, while my body adjusted to eating less and lighter. The second day I remember looking around the kitchen looking for anything, anything to eat, and I supplemented with a couple of kiwi fruit to keep my growling stomach preoccupied. After I adjusted, I immediately felt so much happier and lighter.

 

I noticed that, as I took more time out to feel, and be instead of do all the time, my body and approach to life became softer, gentler and kinder. It was a direct reflection: the kinder I was to myself, the kinder life was being to me, and that felt damn good.

 

In this first few days, I sat down and got really clear on my dreams, the process of which I shared in this Instagram post. You can tell in my writing that I already started to feel really, really good.

 

Over the next five days, my energy levels increased, my level of joy and appreciation for everything burgeoned and I started to adore my body at a whole new level. Halfway through my cleanse I had even lost 1.5 kilos, and that was without even trying. I was very reflective and shared those thoughts and feelings in this post here.

 

In the last few days, my level of ‘feeling good’ peaked. It is amazing what a little space, self-care and clean diet can do, in just over a week. I felt sexy, healthy and nurtured on every level.

 

In many ways, I felt like the time alone, and away from my man was imperative to do some of the inner releasing work that was a part of my retreat. Every day was dedicated to letting go of beliefs, attitudes and habits that didn’t serve me.

 

let it go

let it leave

let it happen

nothing 

in this world

was promised or

belonged to you

anyway

 

all you own is yourself | Rupi Kaur

 

 

This quote became the focus of my Full Moon ritual and echoed the essence of my 11 day retreat so beautifully.

 

What was especially interesting was that I was processing a lot of hidden, subconscious stuff around my connection and relationship with the masculine. This includes the balance of masculine within me, as well as my relationship with men and masculine energy in my life.

 

Alongside letting go of old habits of anxiety in my life, another aspect I have consciously been addressing is balancing the masculine in my life.

 

I have always found it much easier to work with feminine energy, flow, magnetism and manifesting, than I have with the masculine aspects of structure, action, strength and direction. Having a business to run has stretched and grown me in this way, as it requires a very fine approach with both aspects and using them at the right time, and there is plenty more for me to learn.

 

Speaking with my osteopath after one of our sessions, I learned that in order to create more balance it would be wise to develop my physical strength, especially in my upper body and core. Our bodies are always an indicator of our internal and experiential worlds, and mine is certainly on the weaker end of that spectrum.

 

It’s exciting when you find parts of yourself you never knew existed. Having a break from ‘normal’ life is such a wonderful way to explore and discover those parts.

 

I so loved having lots of space and time over those 11 days. They have been so soul-nourishing and my heart feels full. They have also given me a new standard of how life could feel every day, when I make space, time and self-care a priority.

 

Through simply giving myself space to ‘be’, I let go of many remaining threads that were imbedded in my subconscious, and hindering me for having and enjoying the next steps of life that I am embarking on. I notice that this year, life is taking me down a completely new pathway that has no prescription. I adore living life from such an intuitive, trusting and surrendered space, and love that I have found the courage and the guidance to approach life in this way.

 

I have no idea where I’ll end up, but what I do know, that it doesn’t even matter. It’s all about the journey, not about the destination.

 

THINGS I LEARNED

 

  • I often eat when I’m tired. Instead of taking time to lay down and rest or sleep, I’ll try to fuel my body with food, when what it really needs is rest. I know now, that taking half an hour to chill, is much better for me, than eating something, to refuel.

 

  • My body doesn’t enjoy ingesting coconut oil / cream / milk. For years I’ve been told that these are healthy fats necessary for a good diet, but as soon as I stopped including them, my skin cleared up and I felt lighter and healthier. I intuitively recognised that coconut products were the cause of this.

 

  • I used to think being physically strong is so unfeminine, but I’ve come to realise that my body actually craves being strong. Quite to my surprise it actually feels really good! So I’ve decided to commit to building up my body strength with weight training. This is a new and weird world for me, so any insights and support and beyond welcome!

 

  • It’s crucial for my mental and spiritual health to get plenty of rest and relaxation time. More than I ever thought I could or should allow myself to have. Learning to relax into my life and work, however, has benefits far beyond anything I had ever previously imagined.

 

  • Having meals organised and prepped for the week ahead is so supportive! A smoothie, a soup and a snack are all I had every day, and it’s something that I want to keep doing. It’s just about being organised, but the amount of time I saved, and could focus on other things that make me happy, was incredible. Plus I felt healthier, lighter and more nourished. Life can be so easy, when you are organised!

 

  • I feel so much more hydrated and less thirsty when I eat high-water content meals. Hydration through foods is key to good health because your body absorbs this water an it’s minerals faster and better this way. I am obsessed with being hydrated and tend to drink a lot of water, but I’ve noticed that this habit is also flushing out lots of the minerals my body needs. Eating water-rich foods is actually much more supportive.

 

 

My 11-day retreat ended much like it began. At the airport I arrived moments before he walked out, looking all scruffy and sun-tanned from his time in Fiji. He put his things on the back seat, climbed in the passenger side and leaned over for a soft, languid kiss. I missed this silly hunk of a man. But I enjoyed my time deeply nourishing and loving myself, and getting to know myself at a deeper level, just as much.