Sarah Somewhere » Discovering the beauty of an imperfect journey Tue, 21 Oct 2014 13:50:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Rise Tue, 21 Oct 2014 13:50:12 +0000 Keep reading...]]> I first came to Vegas in 2004. It was the typical twenty-something trip to Sin City (if your typical twenty-something trip includes dancing on bars and pulling all nighters). I called it a ‘great trip’ because I was so desperately trying to live a particular version of a good time at that point in my life.

The truly great things about that trip were that I was with one of my best girlfriends Kelly who I have known since I was ten years old and that I reconnected with my sister Holly (same Dad, different Mum) who I hadn’t seen in over 18 years.

The last time I visited Vegas was in tragic circumstances after Holly’s son Mason passed away. It was a trip I was terrified to make and difficult to face but one which I am extremely thankful I did.

I can’t say I have great associations with this city which has, in one way or another, forced me to confront some pretty painful parts of my self and my journey.

Despite this, however, I was looking forward to my visit this time. Holly visited us in Mexico three times in the past year and so I was looking forward to returning the favour (!). It was Tyrhone’s first trip to the famed city so we booked our first night in a hotel near the strip so he could see what all the fuss was about.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from it as a sober person with no interest in gambling. In fact, I didn’t expect very much except to catch a glimpse of the Bellagio fountain which I missed on my trip ten years ago (due to being severely hungover most of the time).

We checked into our large, modern suite at The Tuscany hotel which we got for a screamin’ deal and headed down to the strip just in time to watch graceful arcs of water dance in unison to music.

Bellagio fountain

After strolling alongside the reconstructed canals of The Venetian hotel we walked along the strip, overwhelmed by the sheer number and diversity of people, from crack addicts to cardigan-wearing grandmothers.

While a wonderfully bizarre experiment in hedonism and manufactured entertainment, we were looking forward to heading to the ‘local side’ of Vegas to stay with my sister.

Before our arrival, she had sent me a link to The RiSE festival. I was intrigued by the event which appeared reminiscent of the famous Yi Ping festival in Thailand which I’ve only seen in photos.

The freeway was backed up for miles as we approached the exit to the Gold Strike Casino where we would take a shuttle bus out to the Jean dry lake bed for the event.

Despite Holly outsmarting many of the festival goers by performing an illegal U-turn on the freeway to avoid the lengthy queue of cars, once parked at the meeting point we joined a several mile-long line of bodies who were waiting for shuttles.

rise festival crowd

Maybe it was the fact that my sister had very generously treated us to the tickets or maybe it was the double rainbow we were privy to as we inched toward the bus, but since I had no expectations or preconceived ideas about the event, I was filled with a sense of calm.

Rise-festival double rainbow

Rise queue

The eclectic, polite and chilled out crowd certainly helped. There was a very different vibe to any festival I had ever attended; less angst and more intention. We were gathering to release lanterns inscribed with our dreams into the night sky and aggression or frustration would have been out of place.

We filed onto comfortable buses as the sun was beginning to set over the mountains framing the arid desert landscape. As the sky darkened, the glow of The Strip illuminated the streaky cirrus clouds which hovered above it, serving as the only reminder of the four mile-long piece of real estate which most visitors don’t step foot outside.

I wasn’t involved in any of the planning which resulted in us attending the festival (including a very special lady giving up her tickets for us), so as we rode through the darkened desert to our destination, I thought about all the decisions and efforts made which allowed me to have this experience.

Arriving at our ‘post,’ we rolled out the yoga mats provided to us and gazed at the night sky punctuated with stars and moving aircraft.

Then, we snacked.

rise festival snacks

We wrote our messages and dreams on the lanterns which had been laid out for us.

Tyrhone Rise festival

Then, we snacked some more.

It was a long wait for all of the festival goers to arrive on their respective shuttles, but the uniqueness of sitting on a yoga mat in the desert surrounded by thousands of people doing the same thing was not lost on me. It was an experience I would not likely be repeating and I was intent on soaking up every minute.

The moment arrived to light our flame torches, and shortly afterward, our first lantern.

rise festival lanterns

Rise lanterns

Even though I was holding my camera, my eyes rose skyward as the first golden cylinders of light were carried into the sky. A rush of breath entered my lungs as my eyes attempted to capture the scene of thousands of floating orbs before them.


It was a moment which was beyond senses, judgement or comprehension.

Overwhelm of the best kind smashing any attempts to categorize or describe it; a complete absence of the mental monologue which usually accompanies me, except in moments which eclipse normal perception.

Moments like falling through the sky from 10,000 feat; witnessing the majesty of migrating whale sharks or fleeting glimpses of inner stillness during meditation.

In this case, it was over 20,000 vessels of golden light rising into the night sky on an invisible breeze.

Rise festival Mojave

I was, in that moment, united with presence.

Absorbed by awe.

One with now.

And I wasn’t the only one. Holly and Tyrhone felt it too and we didn’t need to say anything to know we were experiencing one of those moments which exist beyond description.

The expression on the faces of those around us signaled that they felt it too.

Rise festival goer IMG_1487

Then, the moment drifted away along with the tiny specks of light which continued across the inky sky, returning me to my normal state of comprehending, categorizing and interpreting.

Rise Holly

And posing for photos…

As we departed the desert in a state of heightened awareness, I thought about the choice which we face in each and every moment; whether to remain tethered to our own limited imaginings, or to Rise, and experience the infinite possibilities of our existence.

Rise fest

Rise Festival Sign

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This post is dedicated to Briana and Hope, who gave up their place at this event for us, to my sister Holly for buying our tickets, and to Mason Chamberlain for being the light which brought us all together.

]]> 4
L is for Love Mon, 13 Oct 2014 16:10:35 +0000 Keep reading...]]> We made it to the USA! A South African-born British citizen and an Australian (with no fixed address) driving a Mexican-plated car made it across the border to the land of the free.


What felt like a genuine conversation about what we have been up to these last few years may have been just that, or it may have been a well-played immigration interrogation, but either way, they let us in with a few head shakes, a handshake and a smile.

We got off to a rocky start when we managed to find the worst neighbourhood in Phoenix to spend the night. Our Travelodge motel became a scene reminiscent of the show ‘Cops’ when armed officers made a friendly visit to our neighbours in the middle of the night.

It definitely put my trust that I am always where I am meant to be to the test, but I have to say I passed, managing to get a few hours sleep in spite of my fear and the sinister noxious fumes of our room (thanks to a lot of prayer and a little lavender oil).

Our gratitude at surviving the night almost made it worth it and fueled our desire to immediately head North to the small town of Flagstaff.

We were hesitant to book more than a night’s accommodation after our bad experience, but we managed to hit the jackpot with the L Motel, an exceptionally clean, well located and reasonably priced little place on the iconic Route 66 which we have been very much at home at for the last few days.

L Hotel Route 66l

Despite our shaky start, we have been having a blast. Even our night at the crime scene of a motel has become fuel for our non-stop laughter since arriving here.

I’ve been convulsing in fits of giggles at Tyrhone’s dry humour which includes but is not limited to a one liner I am not likely to forget. After a failed shopping trip to Walmart for some cheap winter woolies, he declared without a hint of a smile that “Walmart is where decency goes to die.”

Marveling at the natural magnificence of Arizona’s Red Rocks and Grand Canyon has certainly injected some major wow-factor into our first week stateside.


red rocks smiles


The stunning Red Rocks of Sedona

sarah grand canyon

desert view grand canyon

on the edge

desert rain grand canyon

The grande, big, huge, humungous, gigantic, awe-inspiring, ancient, wondrous Grand Canyon

We have also been relishing the seemingly ‘simple things’ like Thai food, awesome burgers, sane roads, English and brushing our teeth with tap water.

I’m not sure if it’s the new beginning or overcoming the logistical challenges of driving ourselves and all of our possessions to another country, but we seem to be thriving as a team and I dare say, we haven’t been this happy together for a while.

trusty steedOur trusty steed at the GC

us grand canyon

Our mugs at the GC

As the beautiful fall leaves of historic Flagstaff signal the end of summer and the beginning of winter, our relationship seems to be entering a new season.

fallStill a clown…

fall leaves

While I am hesitant to burst our love bubble by blurting it out on the internet, it is kinda what I do and I would be remiss to only focus on the challenging times rather than the free and easy ones.

I’ve never made it a secret that our relationship has been far from perfect. But we have stuck it out through some pretty dark times and managed to sail into the light in a major way. I’m aware of how far we have come, now, more than ever.

I never had any healthy relationship role models or any clue as to what a real one entails. I failed miserably at it for a long time because I had no skills and it’s been a slow, painful process to heal the things in me which blocked me from experiencing real love (hint: it has everything to do with self-love).

I’m not talking about Hollywood-style romance or magazine-esque images, but real, raw love which is painful and confusing and uplifting and healing all at once.

I’m still no expert on love, far from it, just as I am no expert on travel or writing or recovery or anything for that matter. The only thing I can ever hope to be an expert in is my own journey, and I believe the same is true for any person on the planet.

It’s just that right now, I’m feeling more in love than I’ve ever been able to feel. I’ve been with this guy for eight years and we have fought hard (literally) to stay together through a lot of clenched teeth and buckets of heartbreak.

But right now, as we take yet another major plunge together, we are laughing and loving harder than we ever have.

For someone without a clue about Love, I seem to have been given a chance to find one. And it feels good.

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]]> 26
Finding Presence Amidst the Planning Thu, 02 Oct 2014 13:26:03 +0000 Keep reading...]]> Mexico has made it quite difficult for us to leave thus far. We tried to go to central America back in March but Guatemala chewed us up and spat us out (a little older and and wiser, I might add). When we crossed back over the border after an immensely confusing and challenging time with Tyrhone’s paramotor training, I could have kissed the ground.

I think I may have, actually.

It’s no secret I love this country. We both do. The natural landscape, the food, the ancient cultures and the sheer variation of experiences it offers travelers must surely be one of the world’s best kept secrets (thank you, Fox News).

We have traversed this fine country from the Yucatan, to Chiapas, Campeche, Mexico City, Oaxaca, San Miguel de Allende, Guadalajara, Nayarit, Jalisco and a thousand tiny towns in between. We’ve scaled ancient pyramids, eaten exquisite foods and swam in fresh water sink holes.

Aktun Chen cenote

Palenque Chiapas

I jumped out of a freaking plane which was something I never thought I would do. Best of all I was able to introduce my Mum, my sister and Tyrhone’s sister to this country which they loved as much as us.

mum and me

My Mum and I in Oaxaca City

El taj jacuzzi

Tyrhone and Taunee livin’ it up

whale shark boat

On our way to swim with whale sharks with Holly…

We’ve relaxed, stressed, fought, loved, enjoyed, connected and discovered.

We found an unexpected home on the road in Playa del Carmen; a place our hearts reside in even when we are not there. Don’t get me started on the people I met there or I’ll cry.

Me Jorge Alison

While we know that one day we will return, for now, a new adventure beckons.

The last time we were in the states, I wasn’t ready for it. Looking back, I was actually quite stubborn in my resistance to being there because I had ‘my’ central and South American road trip dream firmly embedded in my brain.

It actually contributed to the strife we got into in Guatemala because I hadn’t been open to our plans changing. If we had stayed in the states longer, Tyrhone would have had more training and experience and we wouldn’t have had to rely on someone we didn’t know to give him more training.

The universe took care of it all in the end and taught me some very painful and valuable lessons about being open to what is rather than what I think they should be. I learned the hard way that flexibility is always better than rigidity when it comes to what I want.

Truth be told, I don’t know what is best for me. What I have received is always better than what I wanted and if I had only ever gotten what I wanted in life, I’d have sold myself short on the life which is actually available to me.

Which is why, even though I am excited about our upcoming plans – road tripping through Arizona, visiting my sister in Vegas, camping in the Grand Canyon and Yosemite National Park, visiting my friend Sam in San Francisco, house sitting stints in Montana, Washington state and Colorado – I realise that nothing actually exists except each moment I find myself in.

Colorado Rockies

And those moments are likely to be very different to what I’ve experienced so far…

I don’t want to get lost in plans again. I don’t want to pin my happiness on a future event, because I’ve learned that life is about being present where I am. In fact, the only place I can ever be open to what life is teaching me is here, now.

The lure of travel and adventure can become as much of a drug as anything else, and don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad vice to have. But this journey has taken me across the globe and thrust me into so many surreal and crazy situations to show me that the fulfillment I seek from life is always within me, waiting patiently, while I run around looking for it outside of myself.

Connecting with the power and peace within me has been my main focus since Guatemala. Maybe you think I am crazy writing about consciousness, meditation, awareness and eternity, but as someone who has falled and fumbled my whole life in search of the missing piece, to realise it was inside me all along is the greatest gift I have ever received.

Every day I am humbled and awed in the face of it and so utterly, completely grateful for the internal adventure I am on.

I have no doubt there will be more mistakes, more pain and more lessons in my future. Getting out of my comfort zone again in the states will challenge me as well as us as a couple.

But no matter what happens, I will continue to show up in each moment with as much presence as I can muster, with the knowledge that wherever I am – mentally, emotionally, physically – is exactly where I am meant to be.

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]]> 33
Announcing My Bali Meditation and Yoga Retreat! Mon, 29 Sep 2014 14:14:24 +0000 Keep reading...]]> I am very excited to announce my meditation and yoga retreat in Bali, Indonesia, next year. And you’re invited!

Bali yoga meditation retreatThis retreat combines so many elements which are close to my heart, and will take place at a secluded location which is very special to me.

I first attended a retreat at the Bali Mandala resort on the north coast of Bali in 2010, and returned the following year because I loved it so much. Words cannot express how special this place is to me. It was a catalyst for great transformation in my life. I wrote about it here.

Bali meditation and yoga retreat

Gisela, the resort’s owner and meditation teacher is an exceptionally inspiring woman. Her teachings are delivered in a gentle, open and simple way which makes them accessible for first time meditators (as I was).

Ever since my last visit in 2011, I have wanted to return.

I knew I would return.

When I contacted Gisela to get her thoughts on hosting a retreat for us, she gladly agreed and encouraged me to use my ‘manifesting energy’ to bring together a group of people who will benefit from this experience.

I am so happy to be able to connect more people with her wonderful teachings based in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, delivered in this beautiful, healing space on ‘The Island of the Gods.’

I am thrilled to invite you to join me for this special journey; a week long retreat of relaxation, self-care, delicious, nutritious meals, gentle yoga, meditation and massage, surrounded by a spectacular natural landscape, far from the hustle and bustle of southern Bali..

Buddha Bali retreat

Perched over the North Bali Sea and set amongst lush tropical gardens, the resort consists of individual bungalows, a large yoga and meditation shala, a waterfront restaurant (which serves delicious food!), day spa and a fresh water pool overlooking the sea.

Yoga Bali retreat

The bungalows are simply and elegantly furnished, with fresh flowers arranged daily. You’ll listen to the birds in the trees and the waves crashing onto the shore from your individual terrace or the delightful outdoor shower.

bali retreat room

The spacious meditation shala is set under a high thatched roof with doors that open to the elements, allowing the sea to become the soundtrack to your stillness.

Meditation shala

It is a space which is both nurturing and invigorating, allowing you peace and tranquility while connecting with other individuals on the same journey.

 What’s included:

  • Six nights’ elegant bungalow accommodation.
  • Three delicious and nutritious meals per day, including herbal teas, coffee, mineral water and one fruit smoothie per day.
  • Three one hour massages at the on-site spa.
  • Group transport from South Bali (meeting point to be advised) to the Bali Mandala and return.
  • Twice daily yoga and meditation classes, involving a variety of techniques including stillness, movement and contemplation, taught by our masterful guide.
  • The use of two Stand Up Paddle boards during your free time.
  • A visit to the resort’s community project, the Saraswati school for local children.
  • A welcome gift.

The cost of the retreat is AUD $1199 (approx. USD $1050) for twin share and if you don’t have a room mate you will be paired with one. If you would like your own room, the cost is AUD $1399 (approx. USD $1230).

Read more information about the retreat HERE. You may also download the information PDF here.

Bali retreat sunset

I will be available from now until then to assist you with flights, hotel reservations for before and after the retreat and answer any questions you may have.

We will be participating in the retreat together, receiving Gisela’s wonderful teachings centered in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition which includes different practices of stillness, contemplation, movement and more.

bali flowers

This is not just any yoga retreat. This is a unique opportunity to discover your true nature in a nurturing and relaxing environment, while enjoying the delights of sun, sea, delicious food and pampering massages.

Retreat from daily life to recharge and connect so that you may manifest your truest desires and most authentic self. Take time to relax and reflect, away from the demands of work and responsibility, so that you may access the power, peace and wholeness within you.

Photos of Bali Retreat

Spaces are limited to ensure an intimate group and I am very pleased to have already filled several places (including my Mum, one of my oldest, dearest friends and possibly my sister Holly, but she just got a big promotion so we’ll see!).

So if you would like to be part of this experience, book your place!

Location of Bali Retreat

I look forward to hearing from you and I cannot wait to share this special experience with you. Please share this with anyone you think may be interested in joining us!

Sarah xxx

Contact me here for bookings and questions or email me on

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]]> 14
Where I want to be Wed, 24 Sep 2014 16:41:35 +0000 Keep reading...]]> It’s 1030 AM on Thursday in Puerto Vallarta. I’m in a women’s twelve step recovery meeting. Here, women gather to support each other in their recovery from alcoholism, drug addiction, co-dependency, love addiction or overeating. Most things, basically.

It’s a simple room, painted white and filled with plastic outdoor chairs. Same as the ones in the meetings in Playa del Carmen but different to the ones in Perth. In Chiang Mai we sat outside in the park. In Beijing, we gathered in the 42nd storey of a high rise apartment building.

I don’t know anyone here and yet I am known. A feeling I never felt before I went into recovery yet have felt in every meeting I have been to on this journey. London. Bangkok. Bali. Sayulita. San Miguel de Allende.

The highlight reel of this whole journey is the one I haven’t shared about. Lost on the streets of Beijing looking for the meeting, frustrated yet willing myself not to give up. Finding the building and being led to the meeting room by a kind cleaning lady clutching a mop. Arriving five minutes before the end yet grateful for the comfort they bring.

It’s something which is difficult to describe. It’s about the alcohol but it’s not. I don’t want to drink but I need meetings like I need air.

Plus, I love the adventure of it.

One time I paid a taxi driver in Goa, India, forty bucks to drive me an hour and a half to the closest meeting which wasn’t on that day. I was devastated but knew it was all part of the journey. The willingness to go out of my way; to take action no matter how inconvenient.

We’ve driven past countless meeting rooms in rural Mexico which are emblazoned with signage that is decidedly un-anonymous. They provide me the comfort of just knowing they are there.

There have been so many amazing moments on this journey and almost all my favourites are connected to my recovery in some way.

Shaking hands with locals outside a meeting room in Mexico city while I tried to explain in terrible Spanish that I was one of them.

Volunteering at a recovery convention in Playa del Carmen and watching 13,000 Mexican people from across the country flood through the gates after traveling all night on buses to get there. Meeting a man from Cuernavaca with 45 years of sobriety.

Feeling connected to something so much greater by virtue of my mistakes and failings. Feeling loved because of them rather than in spite of them. Having instant friends all over the world.

Fleeting moments of unconditional acceptance. A place where success equals progress and where perfection is thrown out of the vocabulary. Words like ‘grateful’, ‘hopeful’ and ‘relieved’ are spoken regularly.

It’s not what you think it’s like. I’ve sat in meetings with priests, district attorneys and psychologists. They feel the same as the people on welfare or the factory worker or the stay at home Mum.

That’s the beautiful truth which keeps me coming back like a moth to a flame. It’s one of the only places I ever feel cozy, free to simply be. Nothing to explain or prove. Healed by stories.

As the women’s meeting continues, I sit and listen, then share when it’s my turn. When I finish I am filled with a knowing. It’s a voice which speaks to me in moments of clarity, of which I’ve had only a few.

“This is where I want to be.”

Not just this particular room in this particular country or even this particular type of meeting. Just here, in this space of being and sharing and connecting.

For someone like me to finally know where they want to be, it’s a sweet relief. I first came because I needed to and now I want to. I want to take it into other areas of my life because it’s not just addicts who need healing and connection. Everyone needs it.

We addicts have a frame of reference which involves buckets of suffering but we do not hold the monopoly on pain. If anything, we are the lucky ones. We received the gift of each other. It’s kind of ironic really.

I wish there was more true connection in the big wide world, but like Gandhi said, if you want it, be it, or something like that.

So, I’ll continue to put myself in the middle of it, telling the truth over a cup of tea (or the coffee I’m sipping on now) and allowing others to share theirs.

Because, in the end, “We’re all just walking each other home.” (Thank you, Ram Dass).

sharingsubscribe to sarah somewhere

]]> 14
The Problem with House Sitting Mon, 22 Sep 2014 16:03:12 +0000 Keep reading...]]> Our first house sitting assignment is drawing to a close. It’s been a truly great experience and we have enjoyed almost every minute. While the humidity of the Mexican summer has certainly challenged us, it is starting to cool down and we are making the most of the fresh mornings and comfortable evenings.

house sitting mexico sunset

It’s been interesting to witness the sunset gradually move across the horizon and the days become shorter. We’ve loved watching the storms roll in over the mountains and the magnificent lightning over the water.

We’ve enjoyed living in a local town we would otherwise never had the opportunity to see and have become used to waking up to 180 degree views of the Pacific ocean, punctuated by a little blip of an island called el coral.

isla corale snorkeling

When my sister came to stay for the weekend we caught a boat to the island and snorkeled around the mound of earth we’d been staring at for two months. It turns out that isla el coral is indeed a tiny chunk of paradise.

isla corale guayabitos

isla corale guayabitos 2

We’ve enjoyed great food, friendly locals and interesting ex-pats; balmy evenings spent watching families stroll along the malecon and some lovely drives to explore the towns and beaches of the ‘Riviera Nayarit.’

But despite all these wonderful things, the biggest problem with this house sitting business is that we have to leave Chica and Matu, the two cats we have come to love as our own.

Housitting Chica

I really didn’t see this coming (the loving, not the leaving. That, I knew about.) I mean, I like animals and adored my adopted stray cat as a kid, but didn’t expect to fall in love with these two balls of fur like I have.

me and Matu

I got it bad.

It’s not just me, either. If anything, Tyrhone has an even stronger bond with them as they have warmed to him more than me. Watching Chica canoodle with him as he scratches her belly is just hilarious, particularly as she wouldn’t let us near her when we arrived.

Our sweet, anxious tom cat Matu is still a rather unpredictable soul. He will occasionally relax long enough for a belly rub but for the most part seems to be suffering some post traumatic stress from his days as a stray kitty in the jungle. Poor Matu. We love him so much.

So much, that even when he eats geckos and vomits them up in the kitchen or brings in dead birds to devour, leaving bloody internal organs for us to discover, we can’t get mad at him. Such is the nature of unconditional love.

We are happy that soon they will be reunited with their dads, who have been missing them during their time away in Canada. But I am already worried about who will be looking after them next summer and am thinking of asking the owners of El Panorama if I can be part of the vetting process to ensure our babies get the best possible care.

I’m kidding (kinda).

I know that when we leave, we will miss them more than they miss us.

Which is why Tyrhone made us this video to watch whenever we are feeling cat sick for Chica and Matu, who have without a doubt been the best (and the worst) part of our house sitting experience.

You’re welcome.

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]]> 26
Consuming vs Creating: finding clarity at Costco Sun, 14 Sep 2014 14:10:29 +0000 Keep reading...]]> The other morning I had a bit of a crisis about my writing and my purpose. With red eyes and the sort of lethargy which comes from a morning spent sobbing on the bed in my bath towel, I tagged along with a friend on a shopping trip in an attempt to shut down my pity party.

First, we hit a few flea markets, which I loved. From old baby strollers to sofas to artwork, I perused the dusty offerings and wondered about the story behind each piece.

Stacks of identical chairs towered in one corner of the warehouse; the remnants of someone’s failed restaurant or hotel dream.

Hot dog

I saw this hot dog cart and briefly considered throwing in the writing business in favour of touring the country with it, ‘Chef’ style. Only I am a crappy cook and vowed never to work in customer service again.

Afterwards we ended up at Costco in Puerto Vallarta. I’d never been before and was a little excited to see what bargains lay inside.

A large round of Brie cheese and a huge tub of hummus sat in the bottom of my gigantic cart as I pushed it down the aisle.

Turns out there really wasn’t much that I needed, let alone wanted, except of course, CHEESE.

I felt like I had failed to live up to Costco’s expectations of ‘buy hard or go home’.

Then I came across this.

shoe rack

A shoe rack.

A rack for your shoes.

I had a flashback to the days when shoe racks were a rather important item to me. I needed a rack, several actually, to house all my shoes, most of which I hardly wore.

I looked at this storage rack for shoes like an alien thing. A frantic feeling rose up in me as I remembered my previous attempts to organize, store and accumulate products, back when I had a job, an apartment and deep well of discontent within me which I tried to fill with ‘stuff’.

I was a total consumer back then and it gave me such an empty feeling. There was never enough stuff or storage to hold said stuff to make me feel complete. I think that was the whole idea, actually.

Standing in Costco with a near-empty cart and a lack of desire for anything in the mega-store, I remembered something I’ve known for a while.

I wasn’t born to simply consume. I was born to create.

Suddenly my existential crisis about my purpose seemed like a pretty good one to be having, compared to my old ones of how I would organize my shoes.

I was immediately grateful that my big problem of the day was questioning how I can best Show Up in the world in order to help others feel more connected, rather than how to assemble a shoe rack with a damn Allen key.

I realised then that no matter what doors may open or close for me, I’ll continue creating things I think will move me closer to my vision (however hazy it may be) because it’s this process by which I am transformed.

And perhaps my only purpose is to grow more and more into the person I was created to be, while encouraging others to do the same.


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]]> 25
Peace is a discipline and God is the eye of the hurricane Sat, 06 Sep 2014 14:41:08 +0000 Keep reading...]]> I used to think that discipline meant mindless dedication, but have since come to realise that the word, derived from the word disciple, means ‘student of.’

I’ve recently learned that in order to have peace, I must lovingly dedicate myself to learning about it.

If I want peace, I must love it more than I love drama; I must love it more than I love being liked. To have peace I must value it more than I value having the last word or being right.

It’s not easy to live in peace with our highly developed egos poised to react to every occurrence in our lives; hence the value of being a disciple to peace even if we can’t be masters.

My own journey with peace has been tumultuous. I’ve had to learn that I alone am responsible for my level of peace in any situation.

I’ve gotten myself in so many states of unrest over the smallest of situations and made enough valuable mistakes that today I must become a disciple of peace in order to experience it.

It must come before social status, success and other people’s expectations.

When I am in distress over a situation I cannot control (i.e most of them) I force myself to get really still and quiet while my thoughts and feelings swirl around me like a ferocious hurricane.

While it feels like I am being whipped around by its centrifugal force, there is a place deep within the beast which exists in perfect stillness. Sometimes I can barely make it out and other times I find myself held in its calm embrace. Though I may struggle to stay there, I take comfort in knowing it exists.

If I was ever to describe what God feels like to me, it’s that eye of the hurricane where all is calm and quiet and peaceful; where nothing needs to be done or managed or controlled. A state of being where no matter what is flying around me, threatening to destabilize me, I posses a deep knowing that it all is well.

It’s a place of recognizing the powerlessness of my ego with its many hurts, resentments and fears; understanding the power of what actually is: Peace.

Not everyone wants peace. For a long time I didn’t know to want it. Now I do. I want it above all else.

In order to experience peace I must dedicate myself to it and become its disciple, forgiving myself when I wander off course and spending as much time as possible seated in the eye of the hurricane, while the world spins round and round.

Peace mandala

Mandala by the very talented Ashlie Woods.

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The long, hot Mexican summer: an update Mon, 01 Sep 2014 17:27:04 +0000 Keep reading...]]> I think it’s safe to say we survived the long, hot Mexican summer! We arrived at our house sitting assignment in La Peñita de Jaltemba (don’t know where it is? Yeah, neither did we!) just over two months ago and it was HOT AS HELL.

I settled into the high humidity by reassuring myself that my skin is always better in the tropics and threw myself into pool maintenance so I had someplace nice to cool off. Of course the view helped.

El panorama Hotel

I promised myself I would watch these magical sunsets every night and while I have missed a couple, they simply do not get old.

Tyrhone, on the other hand has had internal thermostat issues for years, namely that he was set to HIGH at birth. Despite spending his childhood in South Africa, he has always struggled with the heat.

So for the first month he barely managed to leave the house lest he be immediately soaked in a shower of sweat which sprang forth from his overworked pores.

We did manage to squeeze in a few day trips though, and my favourite spot was the small bay of Chacala about half an hour north of us.


Hangin’ (literally) at ‘Chac Mool’ restaurant, Chacala.

More recently, Rob and Kellie of Hungry Escapades came to visit which broke up the stay nicely. They brought the word ‘Ace’ and lots of tea with them.



We got to take them to a few spots before they moved on to San Pancho for a few nights and Tyrhone also got to show off his flying skills to Rob which he was quite chuffed about.


The house we are caring for is a B&B called El Panorama which is closed for the summer. It is spacious and luxurious; the largest place both Tyrhone and I have ever lived in. Hard to believe that this journey has taken us from a $7 bungalow on the beach in Cambodia to a mansion with a rooftop pool, but such is the nature of this ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ lifestyle: you just never know what’s next.

It’s fortuitous that we ended up here and I am so glad we did. We weren’t the first choice for the assignment, but received a message while we were in San Miguel  asking if we were we still available because the older couple chosen for the job had to leave.

It’s very different here on the ‘Riviera Nayarit’ to the Caribbean coast and both locations have their pros and cons. It certainly has a more local feel here, particularly in the small Mexican town we are staying in. It seems we are the only Gringos braving the summer heat.

While the beaches may not be as post-card perfect as the Caribbean, they definitely have their own beauty, flanked by jungle covered mountains. Our local beach of Guayabitos is a hive of activity. I love setting up a chair and umbrella for the day surrounded by Mexican families, eating fresh seafood for a steal.


I am going to miss the fresh oysters on the beach for $2.50.

shrimp guayabitos

And skewers of plump, juicy prawns served with rice and beans for $5.

We also discovered an amazing restaurant overlooking Guayabitos beach called ‘Vista’ which serves the most delicious, gourmet meals.


Tyrhone calls it ‘The Posh Place’ and we go there when we want to feel like millionaires, because between the food, the view and the service it really does make you feel like one (as if living in a mansion isn’t enough).

Vista view

The best part of this experience though, has been bonding with our adopted cats. It is also the thing which will make it hardest to leave.


That face!!!

Over the course of the last two months, we have become very fond of the kitties we are looking after, Chica and Matu. They are brother and sister and were taken in by the owners as strays, found on the empty lot next door.

Now, they are living a life of royalty and they are seriously the sweetest cats I’ve ever known. Chica (above) is aloof and independent. She doesn’t care too much for me but has become very affectionate with Tyrhone.

Matu, on the other hand is a sensitive, anxious soul, much like myself, and likes to snuggle, especially at night. During some particularly heavy storms, Tyrhone and I took to sleeping in separate rooms with a cat each so they wouldn’t freak out (it was for them, honestly).

Of course it hasn’t all been rosy. Matu likes to eat gekkos, well, actually just kill them, so we often arrive home to gruesome offerings of decapitated reptiles in the living room. Once, he brought a dead bird. That was fun.

Also, there are bugs, lots of bugs. It seems the house is a designated insect graveyard and keeping up with the disposal of their remains as well as being on constant alert for scorpions is a full time job.

It’s the normal things though like buying pool supplies in Spanish that do it for me. While I am certainly nowhere near fluent, I get by quite well with the basic stuff and always get a kick out of using it when I can.

The other day, after a fun-filled time queuing up to pay the phone bill with thirty other people in a room the size of a shoe box, I had this moment of realization like,”I am doing what I have always wanted to be doing – actually living in another culture.”

We have one month left of the summer here and thankfully, it is beginning to cool down. My sister and her best friend are coming to visit this weekend and I am looking forward to showing them around our temporary home.

After we finish here early October we will be driving up to the states where we hope to continue house sitting and road tripping. Our plans are uncertain but one thing is for sure, we will never forget our time in the Big Yellow House on the hill and the Long Hot Mexican Summer of 2014.

Big Yellow House

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The importance of Showing Up Tue, 26 Aug 2014 14:41:08 +0000 Keep reading...]]> I’ve got it!! I’ve finally got it!! After all my searching and asking and experimenting, I have discovered the most important practice in the universe: Showing Up.

That’s it. It’s really that simple.

Okay, I didn’t say it was easy. Not at all. Far from it, but it is simple.

Just. Show. Up.

Showing Up has been a theme for me of late.

I became acutely aware of Showing Up when I committed to a daily meditation practice, which was difficult and confusing and scarey because I was like, “Who am I to do this when I don’t know what I’m doing?” Then I had life-changing experiences and began to share what I discovered and was like, “Who am I to tell others about this? What do I know?”

And some people loved it and some people didn’t but it didn’t really matter because while I thought I was helping others what I was really doing was helping myself. I was showing up for myself, and as a result, I’ve become more myself than I ever have been.

In truth, I’ve been showing up for a while. The first time I ever Showed Up was my first recovery meeting. Before that I had always hid from myself and the world in some sort of substance or form of pretending.

Showing Up that day completely altered the trajectory of my life. Showing Up full of shame and confusion meant I would be one day be writing to you about it which I would never have believed if you’d told me.

And that’s why I continue to show up, because something magical happens to me when I do.

When I go to a meeting, I am there for myself. I am showing up to pay respect to the disease which killed my father and almost killed me and has destroyed so many lives in my family. I’m not hiding from it or denying it or pretending it doesn’t exist. And in that process of showing up for me I get to show up for others too, offering myself and my experiences to them.

It helps me because it helps them and it makes sense out of my suffering and my father’s suffering and Tyrhone’s suffering and the suffering of all the people who never made it. To me, it makes sense of it all, because it is for something.

My suffering heals people, including me!!! It’s nothing short of a miracle.

I practice showing up for this blog, the book I am struggling to write and a new project I’m working on which scares and excites me in equal measure.

I could use more practice with Showing Up in my relationships (and I just realised that). Because Showing Up without expectations of people is the greatest service you can ever do for them, and I have a long way to go with that.

So I am re-committing to the most important spiritual practice in the universe: Showing Up. I encourage you to also.

Show Up with your doubts, your fears and your faults. Show Up in spite of the voice in your head which tells you you’re not good enough, not deserving, not talented enough, well connected enough, together enough.

Show Up for that new class, the job interview, the therapy appointment, the recovery meeting, the date, the dinner.

Show up for the things you are most scared of. In my experience these are the things which will alter the fabric of your life for the better.

When you show up, you change your future.

You are sending a message to the universe that you are here and that you are taking action toward an idea or a dream, and it cannot help but listen.

I cannot promise that you will succeed immediately or that things will go the way you planned. I cannot promise everyone will like you or support you or understand you. But I can promise that if you Show Up, you will learn something about yourself which will carry you to the next step, and the next.

You will be fortified by the experiences you encounter, especially the tough ones.

You will grow. You will transform. You will serve the world. And by doing that, you will discover that your whole purpose for being here is Showing Up as yourself so that you may encourage others to do the same.


Speaking of showing up for scarey things, I recently showed up for an interview with Uma Girish, author of  ‘Losing Amma, Finding Home,’ a memoir of love and loss published by Hay House.

I had never done a live voice interview before and I was terrified. I almost said no, because, what do I know about grief? What could I possibly offer? Surely there would be a thousand more qualified people than me. But I showed up, full of fear and doubt.

It was actually a very healing and cathartic experience thanks to Uma’s well crafted, interesting questions. Sure, I forgot my own train of thought once and got cut off by the Mexican Telco, but I Showed Up as myself and shared my truth.

I talk about authenticity, recovery, grief and healing and you can listen below.

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