Inner Journey

Set Your Travel Intention 2015

A SACRED PLACE for 2015

This travel blog has existed in one form or another since 2012 - varying from chatty travel tips to musings and reflections. But like a landscape seen in a rear view mirror  it started off blurred and distant and has only gradually come into focus. 

Whilst much of our outward travel going forward may involve  exploring the rituals and customs of other cultures - I thought it would be nice to start 2015 with a ritual for myself before hitting the road. 

MY INTENTION FOR YOU

This isn’t just a travel blog that ticks off a sightseeing bucket list, because the travellers’ quest is never just an outside job. Its a journey that charts the inner voyage as much as the outward path.

So for this year, for myself and this blog as with any great yoga class or daily spiritual practise I thought it would be good to start with an intention.

It is my sincere intention and wish for you, that I create a safe, loving, sacred place where we can explore and share what it means to be women discovering both the inner voyage and our outward path in life - wherever that may take us.

SET YOUR OWN INTENTION

Are you planning some travel in the outer world. Are you lost, looking for a break, time out or  a different perspective. Maybe you’re you planning a trip inward, you’ve repeated another pattern, self sabotaged one last time and are finally ready to let go a limiting pattern or belief. Or perhaps, like me, you intend to do both. Learn about yourself by embarking in a spot of globe trotting. 

Why not take 10 minutes away from the hustle of your day to set an intention for your own journey. 

Create your own sacred space. It doesn’t have to be large or take up too much time away from work or your family commitments although you may have to lock them out of the bedroom for a few minutes!

Find a quiet space where you will not be disturbed. Have a notebook by your side and a pen so that you can note any insights that come up.  Light a candle, spray a little of your favourite perfume or cleanse the space with sage or incense and sit comfortably.

 

 

Quietly focus on your breath. Listen to your in breath, listen to your out breath. Imagine the in breath coming like a silver stream down through the crown of your head and filling your heart. On the out breath imagine it emanating from your heart in a silver cloud. 

Ask for support, from spirit, your guides, angels or however you see source energy.

Thank them for being with you and assisting you with this, the start of your journey. 

Set an intention for your travel that focuses on an inward goal.

Perhaps you want to develop self confidence, or trust yourself more.

Perhaps you want to rediscover your creativity or improve self discipline. Maybe you’ve decided to follow the heart’s path and understand how to truly love yourself.

Once you have an intention put your hand on the heart and ask yourself the following questions to help understand how you can use the outward world to assist you in your discovery: 

What countries are you most drawn to? 

What cities can best support your development? 

What cultures will help you on your journey.

What classes, activities orretreats can best support you in your developing your intention.


Breathe into your heart into a place of deep listening and your inner wisdom and pay attention to any images, notes, phrases or words that come up. Jot them in the notebook by your side. 

If you’d like to spend more time developing a conscious plan for travel  - provided your email address here and I can send you a free downloadable meditation on how to plan your travel with purpose and accompanying work sheet. 

I’m so delighted to have you here.

This is my travel blog for you. From my heart to yours. 

Connect with me here and join me on the journey?

Dominique X



What's going to be your trigger to travel?

For me it wasn’t the boss who I wanted to stab in the eye with a fork (although that helped.)

It wasn’t the increasingly toxic venom with which i’d regard my blackberry before accidentallydropping it and cracking the screen. It wasn’t the “mean girl” at work who bought me an alarm clock and a princess crown as not so subtle form of passive aggressive secret santa presents.

Come January 2012 I was at an all time low. Depressed and feeling like i was failing on all fronts, I had a non existent personal life, a stress rash of excema on my back, my hair was falling out andmy skin had broken out. The brand, new, exciting role i’d taken on heading up the retail marketing team for a premiership soccer team in London had been stripped off all novelty once i’d finished enjoying making the footballers strip off ( to put on clothes forphoto shoots you understand…) 

Whilst the world and his wife was telling me how lucky I wasto have a dream job people would die for - I could only conclude that maybe God had inadvertently got me mixed up with some 22 year old boy called Dominic as I didn’t even like football that much.

In the few days I had off between Christmas and New Year I slunk away to the seaside with an old friend to recuperate. On my return I found another flurry of emails from work, they were round the clock and the fact that  I was on holiday didn’t mean a thing . I started to lie awake at night with an ever increasing sense of panic as the days ticked by  - worrying that I might never get away to do some proper travelling and pursue my dream of becoming a writer. Somehow here I was, 36, single, working a 60 hour week and living up the road from my parents. 

There was only one thing for it, i prayed to the heavens and decided to implore the great gods of the ethernet. I typed into Google: I want to quit my job and travel. And a blog article came up entitled: Why you should quit your job and travel.

Promising! 


It  had been written by a man with an even more ridiculous,  French sounding name than mine .His name was Chris Guillebeau,  a traveller and writer- who had ambitions to visit every country in the world by the time he was 35 and his blog was called The Art of Nonconformity. He’d been making plans to travel for a long time. I’d been putting savings aside for years, i’d accrued holiday and dipped my toe in the water of independent travel with a month in South America, I’d chosen my first flat to buy soley based on the fact it would be easy to let and provide a bit of extra income while I was on the road. It was not bought for the attractiveness of its location which happened to be up the road from my parents. And I was still here. 

Because I was frightened. Of everything.

I was frightened of giving up a regular income, of not being able to find work again, of being single and in my late thirties. 

 

My fearwas enforced by a media obsessed with rising unemployment figures and underlined by the mute incomprehension of my friends all of whom were either happy in careers or marriages or both and none of whom shared my passion to jack it all in and travel the world. 

I was frightened of the unknown. Not the unknown of navigating a chicken bus squashed between a little Tibetan man and a boy with a sack of raw meat - nothing about travelling the world scared me, it was all the stuff that comes before that moment that had me anxious and stuck. 

Change is frightening.  Going against the grain is scary.  Being different, doing different, wanting different from the general population at large is alienating,  difficult, uncomfortable and yes painful.  

But there comes a point when staying stuck is even more painful and as soon as I could see a way out, as soon as i had a little chink of light, the beacon of home and comfort that somewhere out there, there was at least one other person in the world who saw life like I did and I was no longer crazy or alone or on my own; it gave me the confidence I needed. The trigger to travel. 

I lost his site the same day that I found it. But it didn't matter.  A seed had been sown.  

I told my boss that all I really wanted to do was write poetry, travel the world and fall in love - lots. And that’s what i did. I packed my bags for Rio and embarked on a pitstop tour of the world, 13 countries in 19 months. 

I trusted that when i needed to i’d come across his site again. And sure enough just over a year later last July 2013 I found The Art of Nonconformity and discovered that Chris Guillebeau continued to travel and was in Southern Thailand at the same time I was. 

At the grand old age of 37 wrote my first ever fan letter, or at the least a very sincere, thank you email.  The fact that we were at that moment in time, both staring out at a similar strip of turquoise sea was in no small part because of him. 

And this July, 2014? This year I was in Portland, Oregon attending the World Dominatoin Summit a weekend of events, meet ups and inspiratonal talks set up by Chris Guillebeau to gather together remarkable people leading unconventional lives.

Two years ago it was stumbling across one man and his blog, a fellowtraveller and writer that finally helped me say no to what wasn’t working in my life, quit my job and follow my dreams and two years later because of that moment i’m able to write freelance, travel regularly and this July  reach out to not just one but surround myself  2500 other likeminded, positive, uplifting and non judgemental people. 

What’s going to be your trigger to travel? 


A trip up London's Shard and a reminder to express

London's Shard

As a location independent, digital nomad, or whatever your current term du jour is, its amazing how often i just end up sitting around my flat working or staring into space (productive.) 

Today however, I'm taking my mother out for lunch at a restaurant at the top of The Shard. One of London's tallest buildings. And because - hey! as a freelance writer I can now work from anywhere, I decide to get there early and spend a couple of hours working from a cafe with great views.

I've seen Aqua, the restaurant where we'll be having lunch, on Masterchef. It's on the 31st floor of The Shard, London's tallest skyscraper (until the next one that is.) 

All steel and glass and modern chandeliers, leather seats and sleek walnut bar tops -  it's as masculine a restaurant as you'd expect to find in a big, 1000 ft high glass and steel erection.

Still, I have a soft spot for this particular big, shiny building. The last thing i did before I left London to travel for a year and a half was to persuade a friend to take me "up the Shard" whilst it was still under construction. Floor 55 didn't exist and decked out in high  vis jackets and hard hats we had to get into a metal hoist (cage type lift) on the outside of the scaffolding to go up the final few floors. 

The very tip of the building has been designed with shards of glass sticking out of it, when i last visited me and my friend stood at the very top buffeted by wind with nothing but a small chain link fence keeping us from flying off the edge. 

Now that the building is cpmplete and open to the public its a more civilised affair. They have viewing galleries and posh restaurants like Aqua.

I grab a window seat and obviously tweet the view and then start working (today  - press releases on solar energy.) I get moved. Apparently no one can sit in all these empty spaces because they are getting ready for afternoon tea. It doesn't bother me too much as i move to another comfy seat.

Prices are so extortionately high in London these days it almost makes a kind of peverse sense - if you are going to pay over £3 for a coffee in your local hipster coffee shop why not come to a fine dining restaurant with fabulous views instead for your latte. 

When my mother arrives we are seated, sadly not quite up against the glass (and they have a deeply annoying policy of refusing to allow you to move tables if those with a better view become available.) We eat the beets salad followed by river trout with saffron rice and raisins. Mine is full of bones. This is my usual experience of trout so i sigh and get on with it. Halfway through i realise my mother only has one bone and i'm still disseecting the bloody thing.

I toy with the idea of telling them but talk myself out of it. I've aleady come across as a tricky customer by asking to change tables which they refused, so they'll probably say no to this. However the waitress sees i'm struggling and checks everythings ok. I explain its hard to eat and she takes it back and comes out a short while later with a new fillet completely bone free. Of course, this is exactly what should happen, we are in a high class establishment after all.

"Next time, tell us your feelings, so that you don't have to suffer..." she says sympathetically. 

It's a peculiarly Briitsh form of passive aggressive politeness, this suffering in silence "pretending everything's ok when its not."

It's strange because on the road - i'm being tested and learning all the time on how to speak up, assert my needs and protect myself.  But not for the first time i think about how my home environment really doesn't bring out the best in me. My naturally introverted and self reflective ways combined with the natural froideur of the national temperament make me withdraw, over analyise and I become even less likely to speak up than usual. And not for the first time  i think what would really do me the world of good, would be to get out of my head, into my body and just to become a littlbe bit more...well Brazilian about things. 

So its decided. Next on the bucket list... South America revisited.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Art Lesson in Hoi An Vietnam and the essence of Creative failure

Hoi An, Vietnam

When I was last on the road I had the bright idea of documenting my long term travels in a slightly more interesting medium than the upload of a gazillion facebook photos.

I'm tempted to buy an old note pad and some paints and have a very amateurish go and sketching my locations as an alternative. However coming upon artist materials travelling through south east asia is easier said than done, until that is i had an impromptu art lesson courtesy of Mr Wan...

There is nothing like being somewhere heart breakingly romantic to remind you how unutterably alone you are.

On one such evening in Central Vietnam I took a stroll into Hoi-Ann. A picture postcard of how I like to think Vietnam looked in the 18th century.

A little golden bridge arcs a milky green river strung with different coloured lanterns. In the water villagers offer rides from old wooden rowing boats, and crouching on the banks they sell paper lanterns with lit candles inside for people to float down the water for luck.

I sigh audibly. I can't remember when i've ever been somewhere so pretty, I can't remember the last time I missed being in a relationship so much and wished I had someone along side me holding my hand. The water is awash with the gentle amber glow of the floating paper lanterns. I go for a meal on the water's edge and have another speciality to Central Vietnam. Succulent (for a change) grilled pork with rice paper rolls and a sweet broth with peanut sauce, washed down with some beer

The old town is filled with tourist shops hawking Vietnamese cloth, little figurines and ink paintings on rice paper. I stop in one little shop that sells the latter and ask the man inside if he knows where I can buy any paint and paper. Instead he shepherds me inside. 

“I don't want to buy a painting just paints” I explain. 

"I understand" he says " Sit down." 

I sit down at his work table in a dimly lit backroom - the outline of his mother (?) is just visible lying horizontal on a mattress further in. He gets some scraps of rice paper out of his newspaper. I start to look around the shop – outside he has brightly coloured acrylic and oil canvases in sunsetty colours of traditional Vietnamese scenes - women in their elegant long flowing shifts and trousers, and conical hats wading through paddy fields. 



He dips his paint brush in the black ink and starts to paint on the scrap of paper. A sea, some bamboo in the foreground, a little rowing boat with the pointy hats of the men just discernible and a fishing line.

“Now you!” He says handing me the brush. 

“Oh no!” I protest. But as i've asked for artist materials and he seems to think i'm a painter – I can't really refuse. I take the brush and diligently start trying to paint a similar scene: sea, bamboo, boat, people. 

“Quicker!” he says. 

“No wrong...” he says taking a brush again and deftly pushing the fat body of the bristles down to make a bamboo stem in record time. 

Then he does a lady – with three or four simple quick strokes. 

“Easy. Do quicker. No wrong." 

He means there is no such thing as wrong. I try again, making just a few confident bold strokes and get a little better. Then he takes some more paper and shows me the symbol for LOVE in Chinese and Vietnamese – and then how to paint the characters – the numbers. 

At first i'm still holding the brush like a pencil but he encourages me to push it down flat and make big fat strokes. After a happy half an hour painting with him he gives me one of his sketches as a keepsake and I leave for some food. 

I used to love art – it was always one of my best subjects at school until the glacial Miss Sage put me off it for the next two decades. 

“Is this o.k?” 

I'd ask her – not sure if i'd got whatever technique we were learning, down correctly... 

“ well that's about all it is, isn't it” she'd say with about as much warmth and humanity as an arctic wolf. 

She had a penchant for stripey parisian style cardigans and culottes, one hazel eye and one blue (both able to pierce you to the spot along with the froideur of her ice cold sarcasm) along with a nasty case of short (wo)man syndrome. 

Don't choose your subjects because of your teachers -they tell you. Well I did – and subsequently left my art career behind at 15. 

If there is one thing i've learnt since about creativity and how to nurture it back to life – its this. Failure is essential. We don't get anything right first time and we don't learn anything by trying to be perfect. Contrary to everything Miss Sage might have thought – Wan my Vietnamese artist friend has it right – there is No WRONG. 

Now where did I put those brushes…