On Finding My Path

‘She lost herself in the trees among the ever-changing leaves.

She wept beneath the wild sky as stars told stories of ancient times.

The flowers grew towards her light, the river called her name at night.

She could not live an ordinary life with the mysteries of the universe hidden in her eyes.’!

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Approximately 9 months ago I found myself with a failed business and out of work. So I decided to do probably what most people do in times like this – I went and had a massage.

During the massage the therapist said to me;

‘You know, your energy is fairly balanced and your body is in very good condition but it’s your heart that needs some care and some work. You need to make time for that.

I nodded with tears welling up in my eyes.  My heart had been under lock and key for such a long time, that I had only begun to realise how dusty it was during this particular time when the waters were a little wild and stormy.

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Let me give you some background here;

When I was growing up I always loved to be outside, running around and playing sports. My childhood was not an incredibly happy one so I believe the outdoors and sports were as much as an escape as they were something I enjoyed. They  offered me a distraction and relief from an unhappy home so really that’s why I played all the sports I did. It meant that afternoons, evenings and weekends were taken up with sport and that meant less time at home.

People naturally assumed that because I played a lot of sport and I was good at sports that I would automatically do something in sports. So, when I finished school and got accepted into university in education majoring in physical education (of course), everyone agreed that this was the most appropriate path for me. Funny thing was, about 6 months into this degree, I worked out this was not my path. I wanted to travel.

The second assumption was that when I finished travelling, I would head back to Australia, settle down, get married and life would continue.  I came home, I started a relationship with a really wonderful guy and I got a job teaching outdoor education at a  well-known private school in Victoria where you live and breathe the outdoors, you are surrounded by the most beautiful mountain scenery and by default you learn a lot about yourself.

One weekend when I was out running a mountain trail, dropping off log books I stopped to look at an incredible view of a valley below. I think that moment with the cold wind blowing on my face, surrounded by the mountain vistas and feeling entirely on my own was the first time I felt like I could be honest with the way I was feeling. It was heart-break, happiness, relief and raw emotion all at once.

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So what followed was a time of turmoil and heartbreak where I was swallowed by a pit of guilt, darkness and uncertainty. For breathing space, I bought plane tickets, travelled, explored and moved around. I lived in New Zealand, Middle East and the US for some time, travelled continuously and came and went back and forth to Australia. I had a dream job as an outdoor guide, expedition medic and Wilderness Medicine Facilitator but there was still something missing. To fill the void I kept travelling and roaming. I was having fun, making friends, enjoying myself, learning new skills but inside the light in my heart was slowly getting dimmer and dimmer.

Like anything in life, when you tuck it away and out of sight for long enough, you forget to give it the attention it deserves and, it gets dusty.

When I closed my business, the first thing, to be honest, that I wanted to do was to buy a ticket to somewhere.  I didn’t! Not long after, I was down at the beach floating in the ocean thinking how nice it would be to take photos of the ripples of water. So Instead of taking off and travelling,  I enrolled in a journalism course and picked up my camera again.

Sometimes in life, we need to shed our layers and make everything simple and basic  to provide clarity on what is important and meaningful.

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So, life became a simple routine of ocean time, writing and taking photos.  I was a girl who had spent the better part of the last 15 years travelling and exploring the world and the journey I was taking into the landscape of myself both scared and excited me.

The beautiful thing about unravelling and disintegrating is that you can rebuild and re-create yourself and this can only be one of the most rewarding parts of the journey.

So I slowed down and focused my brain on writing and photography which were two things I had grown to love through travel. I wrote for hours, using colour, scribbles, rough drawings, stories and quotes to get my stories out. I took my camera wherever I went and took photos, mainly of landscapes and then started shooting in the water. The movement of water and waves always reminds of the energy that is locked up inside me. I tried to capture a picture of a body of water that best summed up my mood for the day.

As humans we sign ourselves up for the journey of life which means that sometimes it dazzles like a bright summer sun and sometimes it kicks you to the curb and ploughs over you without warning or hesitation. These moments don’t define our achievements or failures in life rather they are evidence that we are living the life we signed up for and that includes both the dazzle and the storms.

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With every story and photo captured, my landscape became brighter, clearer and more beautiful than it had ever been before. As the pieces started falling into place, my heart has slowly started to heal. Hidden beneath my words and pictures is my story to date and includes my never-ending journey. There are stories that I love and stories I wished never had happened but they are the jigsaw pieces to my life and for that alone I will treasure them forever. I realise that I am finally becoming the person who I truly am. For the first time in my life, things truly feel right.

With clarity honesty, truth will follow and our choices as human beings are do we ignore whats in front of us as uncomfortable as it is or do we become honest with ourselves.

As I sit on the large granite ocean rocks near Ocean Beach, in Denmark, Western Australia where I am staying for 3 weeks, I realise that I don’t need to be anywhere else but here watching whales and seals, feeling the icy southern ocean air on my face, trying to control a dog that wants to hunt down every seagull. I realise that I am not defined by my past achievements or failures nor am I defined by what lies ahead of me in terms of whatever path I choose. I am only bound to remain true and honest to myself and that is the greatest gift we can give back to ourselves as we journey on that crooked path we call life.

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