Self Care (Advent) Calendar

self care calendar Huh? What?! Self care in the busiest month of the year? Are you mad?

Yes, actually. On both counts.

I was comparing notes with a friend on advent calendar ideas for our respective 4 year olds. Something more interesting than a daily window of chocolate – though what could possibly be more exciting in the beady eyes of a child?

Then it dawned on me that while I was busy making my child’s advent season special, I might as well do the same for myself.

Learning to identify and articulate my own needs has been a big part of my personal journey this year. Sure, I am quick to book an adventure or say yes to a getaway but what I am talking about here is making space for self care on a daily basis.

I may be in the brat race rather than the rat race but whatever race you’re in (preferably none at all!) you’re gonna be a better sport if you show up on a full tank.

The creative process was as simple as spending £15 on materials, and investing about an hour of my time. I fancied feathery fairy lights for sparkle and fluff so I ordered those alongside small organza bags and self-adhesive felt numbers. But it’s not about what the thing looks like as much as the intent behind it. You could get the same effect from sticking 24 strips of paper into a bag and pulling one out at random every day.

calendar materials 24 little bags of bliss 24 self care rituals

I got small person involved in sticking numbers on bags and hanging fairy lights. I then sat quietly one evening and wrote out 24 self care practices. I already had a list of things that fill me up posted on my refrigerator so I referred to that for inspiration. I chose things I can easily do for myself that require neither (or very little) cost nor child-care. After all, it’s less about the doing than it is about consciously claiming a small amount of daily time – with purpose but without too much agenda.

I’m not prone to going Christmas-crazy or feeling a lot of pressure during the holidays. Our celebrations are understated affairs in food and presents. But I am not sitting around twiddling my thumbs either. Festive obligations crop up no matter how nonchalant you are about that babe in the manger. Then there’s closing a business and running a charity initiative. In any case, self-care should be a must no matter your life circumstances.

Even the simple fact that I now have an accidental crescent moon shape on my bedroom wall that I can light up as I read in bed each night makes me happy.


So today being December 1, I opened my first bag! The missive was to take a long nature walk.

Cannon Hill Common Treered leafJust to prove that this self care business doesn’t have to be something else that takes up time, I decided to combine my long nature walk with the dog walk I do already.

I simply chose to be more conscious of the experience.

Walk more deliberately. Notice the spongy grass and the squishy mud beneath my feet. Take in the colours and scents of the woods. Indulge in the extra stop by the duck pond to watch for that heron.

And you know what? Despite the more considered pace, my walk didn’t take any longer than usual but I felt twice as refreshed. I’ll take that.



And Lilly? She got a lovingly handmade replica of a doppeldecker bus with 23 little windows and one door. Filled with a daily selection of puzzle pieces resulting in a completed picture by Christmas.


The girls in the Hargreaves house are happy. And what could be better than that?

(Chocolate! Says Lilly.)


Images: author's own

“One Night in Rio” – Inspiration out of Left Field

dh7afsOne thing you may not know about me is that I am passionate about football. The game with 22 players also known as soccer.

I’m not talking about the kind of passion that allows me to engage in endless conversations about technicalities, quoting the rulebook without batting an eyelash.

I’m talking about the kind of passion that rises up every two years when I watch the German National Team play the European and World Cups. It’s the only time my nationality gets the better of me.


My passion for football on an international level is one of the many things that mystify my husband.

I am therefore doubly delighted when I receive a photography anthology as a birthday present from an equally football-devoted friend. Surely nothing goes together less than “football” and “coffee table book” but that’s exactly what it is. In 403 glorious colour pages, One Night in Rio details the German Team winning the 2014 World Cup from the final whistle to partying on South American soil to traveling home to celebrate with their fans. A book of pictures telling an emotional victory beyond what words can capture.


But what strikes me more than all the photographs is a transcript inconspicuously tucked away at the very end of the book. It bears no explanation. It is an email sent by photographer Paul Ripke to the manager of the German Team the day after the iconic semi-final win over the host country Brazil. A plea to be allowed to document the team’s final win – a game that is yet to be played.

Now I’m well familiar with the feeling of wanting something so much that you’d do no matter what to get it. Problem is, I have not truly connected to that feeling in a rather long time. Instead, I have been hanging out in what Dr Seuss calls “The Waiting Place”. Waiting for one project in my life to “work out” before fully committing to others.

Mesmerized, I read and reread the words.

In a nutshell, Ripke outlines his desire to visually commemorate the German World Cup win. “This is going to be a moment that none of us will ever forget, and I could never forgive myself if it wasn’t adequately captured in images”, he says.

He goes on to list and refute a number of possible objections, including travel, accommodation (“I will bring a tent”), meals (“I won’t eat, I need to lose weight anyway”) and other logistics. Lastly, he says, “If it is a matter of my looks, I will shave and get the haircut of your choosing.”



That email gets the desired reply:

Dear Paul,

Relax. Leave your hair as is and come.

We shoot the goals, you the pictures.


I search online for the full story. Basically the compilation that is my gift was made possible by the tenacity of one photographer pursuing his dream to capture the German Team’s World Cup celebrations for posterity. Pictures taken for the sake of memories. He wasn’t there on a press assignment. He wasn’t taking images for social media, or even for creating the very book I am holding in my hands. And because he wasn’t any of that, he was treated like a member of the team, getting access to players and situations that where far out of the reach of other photographers and journalists.

Most importantly, Ripke did whatever he could to pursue his dream, including offering to travel and work at his own expense.

Including sending that one last email after previous, presumably unanswered or unfavourable attempts.

Now THAT is inspiring.


Little did my friend know he was giving me a present much beyond the good memories of a great tournament.

Thank you Peter!




On the Straight and Narrow: Where the Creative Mind is Not

1409156187-this-one-word-will-always-stifle-creativityEarly morning meditation and sage clearing (minor smoke detector incident).

Healthy breakfast, preceded by cleansing shower, followed by fresh sheets miraculously appearing on bed while mountains of clean clothes move into drawers, neatly folded.

My mind, though in creative overdrive, even succumbs to an afternoon nap.

A coffee shop outing, family dinner, the husband volunteers to put the small person to bed.


Blissed out, I sit down to face my nemesis – the sewing machine I’d bought two days earlier, tired of trekking to the dry cleaners with every small mending (or creative!) project. Like stitching velcro pads on to a doubled up, thick blackout blind – your typical beginner’s job, no doubt.

The first pad goes on easily, and I feel victorious. The second, however, isn’t quite so accommodating. I’m pretty sure my needle hits the hot glue border that is holding the layers together. Soon after that, the bottom thread stops catching.

Not that that stops me from proceeding. Hey, wasn’t that needle kind of in the centre of the presser foot before? Do I even know what I am talking about with 34 different parts listed in the manual? What’s the wording I need to Google this shit? This project should be halfway finished by now. I’m sure if I just adjust this dial… (up, down – who knows?). Hey, has this needle shifted even more? I’m sure it’s not supposed to be that far left. Maybe I should just sleep on this. I just want this sodding project finished, damnit. Oh, now the needle’s bent – like I didn’t see this coming. Time to ditch the doomed project.



Maybe I’ll just go to bed.

Except as the light goes off, they all come crashing down on me: my long line of unfinished projects queueing up to stare me in the face with unbridled accusation. The painted trays waiting to be waxed. The almost finished wristwarmer. The in-progress-but-really-collecting-dust-for-weeks butterfly collage. Not to be outdone by the messy kitchen that didn’t seem so messy given the thrill of a virgin endeavour. The unwritten articles, the looming press releases.


One bent sewing machine part (let’s hope it’s only one!) is enough for my day to turn from “relaxed-yet-accomplished” to “naggingly dissatisfied”.


The beauty of the creative cycle:

When you’re up, you’re up. When you’re down, you’re down.

And boy, does down feel heavy in the darkness, Positively sleep-repelling, DEET against peaceful oblivion.


Worst of all, amongst the bent needle and the bruised ego, the fly-on-the-wall writer perches poised with pen and pad:

Move over sleep. There’s a blog post waiting to be written.

Welcome to my world. Tomorrow morning’s gonna come way too early…




“Black Belt in Bin Bags” – The KonMari Method, Part II

flying bin bag

I have been giving an army of black bin bags their marching orders.

By now I have progressed from my wardrobe to invading every other part of the house. Including the outside storage shed, which was full of things I intended to sell AFTER we moved in. When things settled down, you know.

This discovery reminded me how, at one very recent point, the energy in this most beautiful house felt so stifling that I thought we might have to move. I am sure my husband will be relieved to know that now the house is once again looking as light and airy as it did in its unoccupied state, the requirement for relocation has been lifted.


In order to comprehend the full volume of what we own, Kondo advocates decluttering by category, in the following order:

  • Clothes
  • Books
  • Komono (miscellany aka everything else)
  • Photos
  • Memorabilia

Once I had mastered clothes, books were a breeze and a glance through my personal papers quickly made it apparent that most were way past their date of use(fullness). Still, whilst the purging process felt far less excruciating than in the apparel category, the energy contained within my rapidly diminishing filing system was every bit as emotionally and physically draining, quite literally leading to tears, tantrums and threats of divorce. I’m not a natural drama queen so I can only suppose that there were levels of unconscious letting go and processing at play here.

Once I had moved beyond these personal effects, things mercifully lightened up and clearing through our open plan living and kitchen area was easy as child’s play – as was the child’s playroom, much to my surprise.

Having watched me clear for a week or so at this point, I sat down on the floor to re-explain the process in toddler-friendly terms (not that they vary greatly from the adult instructions):

So you hold each item in your hand and ask your body whether it brings you joy. If the answer is yes, we keep it. If the answer is no, we put it here to give to another child.

Frankly, I am ashamed of giving my child so little credit. I expected just about EVERYTHING to be kept. Instead I was thoroughly impressed by the swift and intuitive decision making of a 3.5 year old, including disposing of several items that I still had attachments to. Blessedly I had the good sense to shut up, dutifully depositing them into the “to go” pile and keeping myself from sabotaging her decisions.


All that sorting accomplished, there remained “only” the final task: storing.

Again, Kondo’s method is fairly intuitive:

In order to know what to keep, ask your heart. In order to know where to store it, ask your house.

(This is not a verbatim quote as, true to form, I have already passed the book on.)

Simples, right? Well, almost. My house’s answers involved a lot of running up and down stairs.


The criticallly important question of course is, can it last?

Kondo claims to never have had any of her clients rebound into a life of needless excess. I sure as heck ain’t planning on being the first. Anyway, as she is quick to remind us,

The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.

Purging possesions that no longer serve us then is simply the foundation of physical and mental space that allows us to create the lifestyle that truly serves our bigger vision. Which pretty much sums up why I embarked on this whole process in the first place.

After all, it seemed mighty ironic that I travelled all the way to the vastness of the African bush to create a big life vision, only to come back home and find there was no space for that vision in my everyday habitat.

Skylions 2015-44Skylions 2015-482Skylions 2015-489

That’s a long way to go to find out I had too much stuff. Maybe you only have to go as far as your local bookstore.

Trust me, it’s a lot cheaper…


Images:, Ann Wilson @

“You’re Not The Boss of Me” – The KonMari Method, Part I

konmariI moved eight months ago. I wanted a shamanic house clearing but my desired practictioner remained elusive so I resorted to saging every corner of my new house, a process which I have since repeated. Frequently.

Let’s face it: I am a serial sager.

I’m also the self-proclaimed Queen of Decluttering… or so I thought. Turns out that no amount of smudging is going to unpack bags loitering in random corners, nor release energy tied up in general excess. So move over me and enter Marie Kondo, whose popularity as Japan’s decluttering expert is currently surging far outside her native land.

Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying is certainly not a title I would have been drawn to without repeated recommendation. Anyway, what could she possibly teach me?

As it turns out, A LOT.

I’m not a serial hoarder but I’m certainly no minimalist – at least not yet. And whilst I did a fairly good job getting rid of stuff in the moving process, there were still plenty of things I clung on to even though I knew they weren’t exactly serving me.


Kondo’s philosophy is deceptively simple:

  1. Discard
  2. Store

Her main method for deciding what stays and what goes boils down to physically holding each item while asking the question

“Does this spark joy?”

If the answer is no, it goes. If the answer is yes, it stays.

This is an uncompromising process relying on intuition and bodily response alone. Logic has no voting right.


Kondo suggests starting with your wardrobe, as clothes have low replacement value as compared to, say, your grandmother’s wedding china.

As a clothing aficionado, that turned out to be a HARD place to begin. I arrogantly began by congratulating myself on my swift disposal technique, when in reality I was only chucking what should never have moved with me in the first place. As someone prone to monetizing my decluttering efforts, I also fell prey to setting aside numerous items with perceived cash value, shuddering at Kondo’s suggestion of shoving every unwanted piece into a black bin bag.

After two days of hapless sorting, I re-arranged my pristinely folded clothes into drawers and cupboards (Kondo advocates very specific ways of folding and storing items) and soon had to face the ugly truth: there was still too much stuff.

And frankly, the growing mound of sale items zapped my energy at the very thought of spending days on eBay.


I am slightly embarrassed to admit that it quite literally cost me a sleepless night or two to get to grips with the fact that the only way forward was to indeed ditch everything. It was hard. The process brought up a whole host of value and self judgements, such as

“OMG, how can I have acquired so many things?”

“How wasteful to throw these beautiful things away without at least trying to make some money.”

and a plethora of other unhelpful emotions. Even the hard-fought acknowledgment that these very things were actually holding me hostage simply fuelled the fire.

What eased the pressure in the end was a return to Kondo’s suggestion to thank each discarded item for having served me, and to let it go into the void of the black bin bag with love and gratitude. Including clothes I liked rather than loved.

(Disclaimer: They will of course be going to charity shops so ultimately benefiting others in one materialistic form or another.)


I am proud to say that the sum total of my clothes now fits into one wardrobe and four drawers. That’s everything – including underwear, outerwear, sleepwear, footwear. All seasons and all occasions.

konmari method

And the energy freed up in just this one area of my home is already AMAZING. There is room for breath and flow and it is a joy to walk into, and sleep in, a welcoming peaceful space.

It may just turn out I am performing my own shamanic house clearing by simply ditching that which does not spark joy.

Not the sage, though.


Images:, author’s own

What Do you DO? Or “Lessons in Self Worth”

handI hate this question.

Of course I have only grown to hate it once I no longer had the predictable, and socially acceptable, answer up my sleeve. You know, the-“I’m a doctor, engineer, hotelier, accountant”-type reply.

To be fair, I never really liked being defined by what I did in exchange for a salary. But it was easy enough cocktail conversation.

I was first confronted with the uncomfortable silence engendered by an arbitrary answer at a networking meeting a few months after I started university at age 37. Even in a room full of entrepreneurs and business owners, the proud response “I’m a student” was not something that people knew how to handle. The stillness was almost as deafening as when I would later say “I’m a stay at home mum”, though I have to admit I myself was never quite satisfied with that answer. But that’s another post…

I was reminded of all of this during a recent conversation with a friend. Because it’s not just mums who find it difficult to cough up the right retort, it’s just about anybody who has given up the traditional 9-5. I have seen it with women of all ages, exiting the workplace to start their own business, to travel, or to take a longed for sabbatical.

Sadly we still buy into the fallacy that having a job or title equals our identity and therefore equals our worthiness, and our self-worth.


The conflicting ideas around needing to be “something” begin in childhood: One the one hand, we very much want our children to be loved for simply being themselves, whilst on the other the popular question of “What do you want to be when you grow up?” still abounds. The inevitable irony is of course that as adults, we then find it difficult to love ourselves, or even others, simply for who we are rather than for the elevator pitch we present to the world.

At the other end of the life spectrum, you never hear people in hospices regretting not spending more time with loved ones, not making human interaction count for enough.

In my own experience, going through the identify shift from a label or role to just allowing myself to be comfortable in my own skin is much like an addict learning to live without their favourite fix.




So what’s a better answer then?

I believe rather than needing a new mold, we actually need a lack of it.

I know a lot of people are boldly stepping out and sharing their light and gifts in new and exciting ways.

But still, rather than new answers, what we really need are new questions.

Instead of being asked what I “do”, I would much prefer to be asked about what I love, about my favourite people and passions.


What question(s) would YOU like to be asked so people can learn more about what makes you light up, about your true essence rather than simply what you do for a living?

(Although in an ideal world, there would be rather a lot of overlap in his area!)


I recently experimented by asking Lilly the question “Why do I love you?”

She looked up from her cereal bowl with a big smile, confidently stating “Because!”

That’s the kind of stuff I am talking about. I pray that she retains this knowing of being utterly loved for who, not what, she is forever. (It’s unlikely which is precisely why the situation requires divine support)


And if you ever want to combine the inevitable uncomfortable silence with an internal chuckle, you could always try one of these approaches:

assasin 4d458e14a8b78d4cd73163aa63edf8eeLet me know how you get on…!





gratitudeI am finally inching my way out of my lovely post-holiday season bubble and into fully owning this exciting new year, a process which includes exiting out of my self-imposed blogging hiatus.

So, other than having finally finished my Art History degree, what is rocking my world these days?

Well, lots of things… and gratitude in particular.

Why? Because as part of a long overdue shift from academic to creative writing, I have discovered a new take on gratitude journaling.

I know, I know… you are so over being told how fantastic a daily gratitude practice is. Quite frankly, so was I… that is, until I discovered a novel approach.

Forget about rattling off a list of things you are grateful for in your head, whilst the bulk of your brain cells are occupied browsing your smartphone or pondering your epic to-do list. Scrap jotting down the same things day after day as if on auto-pilot. Instead,

Pick 1 specific thing, person or event that you are grateful for and then write 5 specific reasons why.

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 21.35.26

Simples really – like your “5 a day” on the fruit & veg front.


The benefits?

Well, as Marie Forleo explains in her slightly corny (and seasonally out of date) video,

 If you want the most ROI for your gratitude practice, the dividends are in the details.

Not only is this way of gratitude journaling backed by actual research, it is the very antidote to “laundry-list” gratitude, at least in my (admittedly limited to-date) experience. It plays to my need for variety to think about a new thing to be grateful for every day, and my inner writer is thrilled to supply the required specificity. It makes me more aware of what was extra special THAT day, alongside the people and things I am already grateful on a daily basis.


20150112_210557 (1)Although I have been following this practice only a few weeks, I have yet to hit gratitude fatigue, even if the process is helped by the fact that I simply adore my tools of the trade – a shiny new journal and a magnificent fountain pen gifted to me by my beloved.


And just to keep the motivation going, I might just post a few random daily gratitude extracts here in the coming weeks.

The coming weeks of THIS HERE NEW YEAR, that is…




Images:,, author’s own






Media-Induced Brain Frazzle


Me and technology are about to have a fall out – again.


I do, of course, realize that I live in a time where technology and its attendant trappings are inevitable. Like just about everyone I know, I have a laptop and smartphone, plus a tablet for good measure. One must be seamlessly mobile, or so advertising and popular culture would lead us to believe.

Don’t get me wrong, I love all the gadgets. They pretty much do everything from phone calls to email to social media, from weather forecasts to word processing, from supplying all your casual photo and video needs, only just stopping short of putting your kids to bed and cleaning your flat – although I’m sure there are apps for that.

Thanks to Wifi and 3G, I should be reachable during any and all waking hours, or so the theory.

So really, the stuff is not only inevitable but omnipresent. It does everything you do and don’t need, and that’s precisely where my problem with it all lies.


I go through phases where it just gets just too frikkin’ much!!!


Because in addition to being permanently connected, I am inundated with endless ‘interesting’ links, snippets and clips, and permanently find myself with at least 20 open tabs of stuff that would be valuable to read or watch… some other time.

Problem is, this other time never comes, but the sight of 20 open tabs saps my energy just thinking about it. And from experience, there’s no sense of satisfaction or accomplishment from spending an hour or two reading all this ‘interesting’ stuff because my brain simply fogs up and forgets about it all as soon as I close each browser window.


On top of all that overwhelm (which is overwhelming IN ADDITION to whatever overwhelm the rest of your life holds), my brain and eyes get really bogged down looking at backlit screens at the end of a long day.


So despite all its undeniable benefits, me and technology need to have a little time out. Not a full on separation heading for divorce. Just a little break. Time to breathe.

I thought about limiting my daily laptop usage to an hour in the evening for a while. Sounds good in theory, but if you want to get anything done (like putting up a blog post!), an hour just doesn’t quite cut the mustard.


So rather than setting tons of rules I am bound to break before I’ve even committed, I decided to go for exposure to technology in short bursts rather than full on immersion. Conscious usage versus default setting.

I’m already notoriously slow at answering emails and getting back to people (largely because I feel bombarded by too much stuff), so I don’t think anyone should notice the difference.


technology overload


But of course the question I will be pondering is this:

If not constant technology, then what?

And I would love to know how other people feel – does it just all get too much at times, and if so, what do you do about it?


More on my findings in future posts!





Barefoot And Pregnant?

barefoot-and-pregantI recently built a play kitchen for my daughter’s second birthday.

I fell in love with a picture on Pinterest and decided that no other kitchen would do, despite the fact that for the same amount of money (and less time), I could have ordered one off Amazon. I’m kinda stubborn that way.


The kitchen I picked was classed as an ‘IKEA hack’ – which basically means using parts and components from the blue and yellow flatpack giant for something other than their intended purpose (such as the base of this kitchen being a simple pine bedside table).


As I excitedly shared the progress of my building project, I encountered a fair share of gendered remarks about my daughter getting a kitchen, as though exposure to a simple toy was going to teach her to expect, and accept, a life of domestic servitude.

Don’t get me wrong, I genuinely appreciate these types of comments (well, maybe not initially) because they prompt me to think and explore how I feel about something.


So my first question is:

What makes a kitchen so gendered anyway?


I mean, there are plenty of male celebrity chefs and cooking show hosts – they must have gotten started somewhere! Many of my mummy friends have husbands who cook (I should be so lucky!).      In a lot of households, the kitchen is where families spend a considerable amount of time. It certainly seems to be the most popular room for representatives of both genders to hang out at parties.

Equally, my mummy tribe confirmed that play kitchens are the most popular toy at playdates for kids of any gender. Part of the reason I became interested in a kitchen for Lilly was observing her playing with the one belonging to one of her playmates. HE, in fact, has two kitchens, and I don’t think anyone is making an issue out of that.

motley collection of IKEA parts
Motley collection of IKEA parts

I will also point out that Lilly had great fun helping me hammer and screw her kitchen together. I know it was meant to be a birthday surprise but hey, it’s kinda hard to hide DIY projects in a small apartment. I am sure at some point (space permitting), she will also be in possession of a workbench, although I might defer to the shop-bought version on that one. Equally, she quite happily plays with Duplo blocks – in gender-neutral colours – and anything and everything that has wheels.

Overall, I tend to be on the ‘both/and’ vs. the ‘either/or’ side of the argument.

Besides, I don’t need to ‘teach’ Lilly anything. She doesn’t even know these dreadful gender stereotypes exist yet… and long may that last!

All I need to do is provide her with an environment where she can play and explore and decide what she likes best for herself in that moment. Ok, and shield her from really OTT gendered toys like Barbies, pink Lego and macho action figures for as long as possible.


work in progress
Work in progress

As for me, I don’t think I ever had a play kitchen when I was little, and I still learned to love to cook and have a life. Mind you, from a scarily young age, basically tall enough to reach the cooker on a stool, I was allowed to do real things on a real stove. Simple things, like scrambled and fried eggs, under strict supervision, of course. Guess that was a different era!


Anyway, kitchen or not, I actually want my daughter to honour her girlyness, in whatever shape it comes. After all, she isn’t a boy, and trying to make her one by exposing her to certain toys while denying others would only serve to reinforce the notion that she isn’t already enough exactly as she is.

For a long time, I actually completely disowned the sensitive, playful, feminine part of me in order to be successful in a  ‘man’s’ (corporate) world, and in hindsight, the act of pretending was a lot more work that the jobs ever were. But that’s a different story.

The finished product!
The finished product!

Personally, I feel that every time we continue to make an issue out of this gender stuff, we simply reinforce it. We neither live in a Victorian age nor in the 60s, so let’s drop it.


On that note, I’d better be taking  my own advice.

Swiftly signing off…

Images:, author's own

Soul Journey

IMG_3870I’m back from Hawai’i in body, but my soul is still lingering on the beach, soaking up the sun.


When my friend announced she was getting married on a far-flung Pacific island, I simply knew I. HAD. TO. GO.

Despite spousal objections, it never mattered that I was dragging my nearly 2 year old on a 19 hour flight across ten time zones.

It was a trip I needed to make to connect with great friends and, most importantly, to re-connect with my own self.


As I’m de-stuffing my life, I am becoming increasingly aware that what drives me are connection and experiences rather than things.

On this journey in particular, I was fascinated to experience just how closely the mundane and the divine can coexist, if allowed.


At my friends’ wedding, I read from a book about Hawaiian shamanism. I casually prefaced this by saying that I was into woowoo stuff.

I guess woowoo is an unbecoming yet widely accepted term covering things that seem beyond the realm of our everyday experience.

I used to believe that my everyday and my, for lack of a less clichéd expression, enlightened experiences were just about lightyears apart. I was either doing the dishes or metaphorically meditating on a mountain with a banana up my bum. Realistically, of course, I was mostly doing the dishes, with a very occasional glimpse of the divine once I let the soap bubbles subside.

In hindsight, I believe this very division made it really difficult for me to gracefully transition into motherhood.

Somewhere along the line, I felt as though my life had become so much about the mundane and the routine that my soul-self was slowly being smothered and starved.


In once again pursuing my passion for travel, I have found the time and the space to allow the everyday and the soul-nurturing to co-exist.


A pre-dawn full moon walk followed by tucking into a hearty American breakfast of crispy bacon, scrambled eggs and pancakes (a ‘Full English’ has never tickled my taste buds in the same way).


Leaving the tourist commercialism of Waikiki to embark on a cleansing rainforest hike, only to come back to the question of ‘What’s for lunch?’ and needing to change a manky nappy.

IMG_3808 IMG_3830 IMG_3845 IMG_3815


Being magically guided to a traditional Hawaiian lomi lomi massage. I still don’t understand exactly what this is but it’s divine. The healer explained that this style of massage is working on a deeper level than simply manipulating muscles. She described it as

massaging your bones, which equals massaging your soul

In nearly the same breath, she also stated that all men are dumb, with the unsaid implication that this applied specifically to the ones we’re married to.


Swimming with giant sea turtles and feeling their ancient wisdom. It didn’t matter that there were dozens of other snorkelers splashing in the water. I simply loved being immersed in the experience as much as I loved sitting back on the catamaran with my feet hanging over the netting sailing the waves, glimpsing dolphins and flying fish, getting soaked and feeling the thrill and freedom of the ocean. With a boom box blaring in the background.

IMG_1496 turtle

Of course for this experience, I am forever indebted to the newlywed Mrs Mannion watching my daughter so ‘mummy’ could just be Nette for a few hours.


In many ways, my entire journey was witness to this interplay and interchange between the mundane and the divine, the ordinary and extraordinary dimensions of life.


So maybe what really is woowoo is the importance we accord to the everyday-ness of our lives. The stress over projects and deadlines, the time wasted worrying and people-pleasing.

I say this even as I am observing myself getting obsessed with eradicating every single caked on, soaked in, glued-to-the-fibre stain from our combined holiday laundry. Including those that were probably there long before we set off.


So really, what do I know?

Maybe it’s just the jet lag talking…


Hawaii lantern festival

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