Spiritual Practise

5 Spiritual Truths For a Successful Life - Learned at the World Domination Summit!

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Stepping out of the safety blanket of the 9-5 to live an extraordinary life isn’t an easy ride no matter how many palm tree fringed beaches you get to see en route. In the last four years I’ve gone from marketer to meditation teacher via a whistlestop tour of the world.

Part of what has kept me sane in an extraordinary burst of change and growth has been surrounding myself with other people who don’t think i’m nuts. 

Each year I go to an event called the World Domination Summit (WDS.) It’s a weekend of inspirational TED X style key note speeches plus hands on academies for people leading a remarkable life in a conventional world. It’s been a glimmering bright spot in challenging times and provided me with a crew of friends who I consider amongst my best.

Whilst my journey has been inextricably linked with my spiritual path so much of my own development hasn't been prompted by silent retreat or yoga class but by walking out of the door of the corporate world and into the skin of an entrepreneur.

Bizarrely demographic and pigeon hole free - WDS is not just for entrepreneurs and nor is it just for the spiritually aligned (although I know it has a secret pair of hippy pants in the closet!) However there are some fundamental spiritual truths about how to lead a successful life that were present across so many of the key note speeches this year I thought I would pull them together for you. 

Whether you’re heading out the door on your own hero’s journey or busy bootstrapping your first business…I hope that sharing these five little nuggets of soft and gentle truth will help smooth the entrepreneurial path ahead. 

1)  Finding Stillness

Jonathan Fields kicked off proceedings by asking us to ponder a Richard Wiseman quote “fortune favors the open.”  It’s easy to be swept away with reacting; reacting to our highly sensationalistic media, the sense stimuli surrounding us, the guy serving us our coffee, the red blip of a notification on the screen. If we are not careful our ability to choose our response in freedom and openness gets swallowed by reacting out of old fears, mental loops and habits. How do we cultivate openness to what is available in the present moment? Stillness.

Over the days leading up to WDS my meditation practice had gradually shrunk from an hour a day to a brief 10 minute chant. Welcome not so subtle hint from the universe. I’d received a challenge from the Be Kind game (more of that in Point 5) to buy someone behind me in the queue a coffee.

However queuing at Starbucks on the saturday morning I forgot all about the challenge and all about my environment. I didn’t even notice the person standing behind me in line until after they’d paid. Who was it? Yes. You guessed it. Jonathan Fields.

 He then went on to open WDS with the first speech of the day. The subject? Our ability to remain present and open to our environment is what allows us to choose our response and how we’re then free to respond with kindness.  POINT TAKEN UNIVERSE!

How do we zoom out and get the space and awareness to notice the opportunities surrounding what is - instead of getting lost in the “what was” and “what ifs?” We cultivate stillness. Cue meditation practice swiftly reinserted!

2) We have an unlimited amount of compassion to give.

My favorite Tibetan Buddhist saying ever by someone who doesn’t have a shaved head or surname ending in Rinpoche. 

Zach Anner didn’t let growing up with cerebal palsy and being confined to a wheel chair stop him from becoming a World Traveller, Comedian, Actor, Oprah regular and author of the brilliantly titled “If at Birth you Don’t Succeed.” He encouraged us to move beyond defining ourselves by our limitations and remember that when we feel we have nothing to offer we always have an unlimited amount of compassion we can give to the world. 

For me, this one line and longstanding truth  was a pure shot of sunlight into what can seem like a dark and sometimes scary world. 

3) We are limitless

Chelsea Dinsmore lost her husband Scott in an accident on Mount Kilimanjaro.

In the days and weeks after his death it would have been perfectly understandable if she had chosen to retreat from the public gaze and go into hiding to grieve. Absolutely devastated and with no experience of how to run Scott’s business empire and community of 200,000+ followers she chose a different response. A beautiful example of both utilizing our freewill to choose a healthier response in the moment and how to cultivate compassion - Chelsea chose to approach every new experience with “endless curiosity” and positively reframe doubts and fears by asking:  What is the best that could happen today?  How can I give more? and perhaps most potently of all: What if the hardest thing I’ve had to do is behind me?

In doing so she has successfully taken over the reigns of the Live Your Legend community as Chief Inspiration Officer, Scott’s legacy lives on and they continue to inspire people around the world to find the work they love. Her discovery through the process was simple. No matter what stories our mind tries to tell us. . . 

We are limitless.  

4) Me Too is empowering.

Emily McDowell , multi millionaire business owner and creator of an empathy greetings card and stationery empire for people in real life relationships talked about the dark spots in her own life first as a cancer survivor and then as supporter to a best friend diagnosed with the disease.

Those times when we’re at our lowest when we most need people to reach out to us is often exactly the time when people just don’t have a clue what to say. Oftentimes it’s not just the curve ball that life’s thrown but the side helping of shame, guilt or fear that comes with our experience that also stops us looking outwards for support from others.

Loneliness, ill health, depression and anxiety weren’t carved out as a special present from the universe just for you -  they are a part of the multi coloured rainbow that is the human condition. Keeping ourselves separate and just reading the good news of other people’s aspiration can be exclusionary - sharing our story or being willing to listen to another’s helps us connect. As Mcdowell so succinctly put it: 

Me Too is Empowering.

5)  Be Kind.

Hugs and high fives are par for the course on this positively joyous and non judgmental weekend of the year and this time it was taken a step further. The overarching theme of the event (not to mention the lynchpin of most major spiritual traditions) is Be Kind. The Be Kind game launched at the opening party and continued throughout the weekend encouraging attendees to perform random acts of kindness on unsuspecting strangers. That coffee that I didn’t buy Jonathan Fields?  That was this game (yes there was a subsequent lucky recipient and she was highly surprised and grateful! )

If there was one message that I took from the event it was this. We always have something to give and what we can give is kindness.

Ride that Baby! 

Life will happen and the entrepreneurial journey more than most can be a bumpy ride. We will never have control over other people’s reactions to us or the curve balls that life throws but we do have control of remaining centered in the present moment and how we choose to respond. Will we be centered and strong enough not to sway in reactivity; remain open to the opportunities and grace available to us in each and every present moment, cognizant of our potential and our power and use our free will to respond from a place of compassion and kindness? I hope so.

Stillness is a good place to start. 

How to Develop a Daily Practice

Meditation helps give us the space and the stillness to witness our reactions and make healthier, wiser choices on how to respond in the moment. 

If you’d like to develop a daily meditation practice - one that is easily accessible regardless of personal religion or spiritual belief and aligned to the wisdom contained within our own hearts and feel the “me too” in an empowered global community of women - join my sangha of heart centered female seekers and you’ll receive a free 7 day heart meditation course as a welcome gift to get you going! 

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Alternatively drop me a line (Dominique) to wanderwomenclub@gmail.com  or my personal email ddidinal@gmail.com and let me know how I can be of service to you :)

PS: The next latte's on me Jonathan! 

 

 

 

 

 

Valentine's Day in Cusco and the Meaning of Love (that's all)

Give Love...

In the side streets of Cusco a strange, vibrating energy is building. The street sellers have moved from touting tamales and ears of corn to red gladioli and heart shaped candy. The jewellery and painting people are out in full force: 

“Hola Mami, necklace for you? Not now? Maybe later, later??”

It is Valentine’s Day - called El Dia del Amore y La Amistad in Peru. The Day of Love and Friendship. I like the inclusion of the latter. As this year i’m distinctly and very happily without the former. The day also marks the start of Carneval so there are children running around with threatening looking barbie pink water pistols and teenagers chucking flour bombs. 

No one knows quite how long this phenomenon will last, although most agree it goes on longer than it should and gringos would be wise to wear waterproofs.

Love is something i’ve been thinking a lot about recently. Who doesn’t. Most of the time. But mainly because for the latter half of 2014 I decided to try and get this whole “self love” thing under the belt. 

Oh I thought I had this licked ages ago but yet another relationship where I fell for flattery instead of consistency and  words instead of action, and gradually relinquished my own boundaries and needs came at an age and a stage which left my self esteem in shards. 

One minute he was taking me on romantic weekends away, the next he was pulling away.  His words were amazing yet his actions told me i came somewhere between the unopened post and his weekly shop on his list of priorities.  I’d say, his morning coffee but i have a feeling that that  probably had the edge. Every time I withdrew, he came close. Words are the best friends of people like him and as I gradually realise… myself too. For those where the intimacy of, the commitment of action, has us running for the hills. 

But that’s what i grew up with. Words. Not action. Those three little words were wheeled out easy enough but always (and still do) come with conditions attached. I love you meant I need you, I want your attention, I reward you for doing something for me. They and any affection or attention that came with it was withdrawn in a sulky, obstinate haze when my needs, wants and feelings tried to take centre stage. 

The Stars and the Shadows Between

Incan astrology at Qori Qancha Sun Temple, Cusco, Peru

The Incans were great astrologers. They based their calendar around the moon and studied the starry froth of the Milky Way (which they called the heavenly river) for signs of rain.

Qori Qancha  - the temple to their Sun God Inti, on the  Avenida del Sol, was the heart of their worship before Spanish Conquistadors took their land and tried to suppress their faith by constructing the Santa Dominga Catholic Church atop.

It’s still one of my favourite places to visit. The lower levels are built around a cool courtyard with a mix of Incan stones and Catholic paintings. The upper levels shows the great gold plate they positioned in honour of Inti the Sun God and paintings that depict their study of the stars. 

As well as joining the dots of the stars to create shapes like The Plough they also worshipped the darkness between, forming shapes from the shadows between the pin points of light. 

Its a strange form of astrology, between the stars they see a serpent, llama and even a toad. 

It takes an entirely different perspective to come from seeing the light to the dark around the edges, a total refocusing of the lens.

Shining Light 

I didn’t want another heart break to stuff me up inside but somehow it did.  I wilted. I was frustrated at myself for not having listened to my instincts, the small, still voice within. I was angry at not standing up for my boundaries. I knew everything I should have done but didn’t. I shoulded myself within an inch of my life and I was so busy shoulding myself about what I should have done differently I didn’t have the focus or perspective to question why i’d behaved the way I had. 

The critical voice in my head came at me with cudgel and claw. Overnight my mind became one of the most hostile places to live on the planet, worse than any Rio favela or Mongolian desert plain. And there was no escape. What were these dark pockets of sadness, and anger and vulnerability that had so far stayed hidden, I was so intent on revelling in the starlight of work accolades, friendship or the beamed light from a beau.  

I never really “got” what people meant when they said shine a light on your darkest parts as that illumination will dissolve the fear.  What does that actually mean?  In practice?

It was a simple realisation in the end.  The light is love. Shining the light on those dark parts of ourselves we would deny is accepting and loving all of ourselves exactly as we are. If I can 

accept the strange and dark places within me, then a number of miraculous things happen.

Afraid of the dark

I can recognise with self compassion that those feelings of loneliness, anxiety, sadness, depression, anger, shame, are in all of us to varying degrees.I become less judgemental of others too. I see instead, our own shared suffering as human beings and feel more connected to the whole.  

I think we’re all afraid of the dark to some degree. To expose ourselves to possible rejection or abandonment for who we really are. But it was finally by exploring those dark bursts that led me to pull back the curtain from the Wizard of Oz and see the scared, lonely, anxious little girl who had been calling the shots in so many areas of my life up until now. Instead of scolding and shaming her further I  started to learn to give myself what was missing before. To learn how to take action and lovingly parent those parts of myself with care and from accepting my feelings came a growing sense of trust in my own ability to know what is best for myself. 

Because as fanciful as Valentine’s day is and as romantic as the very best words are, love isn’t words. It is action. A lot of action that was missing from my life and actions that I needed to learn from scratch. 

Love in Action sign, taken at Findhorn, Scotland.

Love in Action

Love is support. A willingness to stand by and for myself when i’m struggling or working something out without judgement and with compassion. 

It is protection, it is taking right action to remove myself from people, places or things that would hurt me. It is saying NO.  I will no longer accept this behaviour from you. It is leaving that  and those which makes me feel bad and moving towards that and those who make me feel good.

It is a compassion, a willingness to put aside judgement and embrace the dark and the light, to remove labels  and see us all as human beings suffering , in pain and in joy as we struggle through life on our own journey with our own baggage and our shit and say that’s ok. This doesn’t make me less than or better than anyone else. This doesn’t make anyone else better or less than me. 

  • It is celebration and praise. It is saying i did this and I did this well.Well done me! and 
  • it is acknowledgement, and recognition for effort and even more importantly, simply just for being.
  • It is action through honouring. To say I listen to myself. I hear myself and my feelings and opinions count. I accept them as they are and validate them as is without trying to change them, alter them, ignore them ore renegotiate them to make others happy. I’m going to take the best action to get my needs met and have my voice heard. 
  • It is contribution:  It is saying here I am and this is what I am and what I have to give. It is valuable and worthwhile for the world.  
  • It is courage - whole hearted living and a commitment to vulnerability in the moment in spite of those who  may try and tear me down. To get up again and say there are still those out there that would like me to be courageous, to be me.For me i’ll be me, for them i’ll be me. It is sharing and learning to be intimate by sharing my inner world with those that I deem safe because I believe i’m worthy and deserving of being seen, whole, imperfect and loveable. 
  • It is soothing, nurturing, affectionate and caring. Its offering a hug or a cuddle or holding someone’s hand just because. It is allowing someone to comfort me or to ask for help and support and to not need to give anything back because I believe right in that moment that I am worthy and deserving of receiving their love.
  • It is absolute congruence and support to stand by what I feel, think and then do in spite of what others might think because my opinions and what I believe counts. I am valuable and my needs matter and I will do my best to get them met. I will speak my truth and allow it to be heard. 
  • As my first month in Cusco comes to an end so to does my reading companion for the first month The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, and what better sentiment to express the unravelling into the dark and awareness of the light i’ve found: 

“Just as the stars are beautiful because of the space between them, just as the sun strikes raindrops at a certain angle and throws a prism of colour across the sky - so the space where I exist… is exactly this middle distance; where despair struck pure otherness and created something sublime.”

I hold myself in compassion and do not judge the shape or darkness of my shadow, I recognise that it outlines my brightness, its what gives me depth and sensitivity, vulnerability and courage.

Maybe those Incans were onto something after all….for me too, it feels like just the beginning of the journey into love. 

Happy Valentine’s Day One and All. 

 

 

 

 

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



Lonely in Pai - Part two

Pai, Thailand

Last week I talked about how I combat feeling a little lonesome on the road. This week I'm trying a new strategy cheerily entitled "letting the loneliness in!"

KK Hut (situated up in the hills of Pai, Thailand near the circus school) is run by quite possibly the nicest two people you could ever hope to meet. Kwan and Kon are a husband and wife team who are accompanied by their psychotic rooster Shalong at all times (warning - do not wear black flip flops*.) They offer a mosquito net suspended over a mattress in a bamboo bungalow with hammock and the three quid price includes a fab breakfast of fresh fried eggs with toast and jam. It’s the cheapest place to stay in Pai and also one of the friendliest.

First thing in the morning I brush my teeth at an outdoor sink in front of the toilets in the breeze block shelter and feel like I’m at Glastonbury. It’s amazing how far I’ve come from the Champagne and Chanel of my London corporate life. If some of my city friends back home could see me now they’d hold an intervention. After travelling the world for a year I’ve spent the last 6 months in Thailand working on what’s next and now the rainy season is upon us.

It’s Forrest Gump kind of rain. You know the type:

"Little bitty stingin’ rain… and big ol’ fat rain. Rain that flew in sideways. And sometimes rain even seemed to come straight up from underneath"

The corn fields opposite are lit up from the thunderheads. I spend the rest of the day lying in my hammock watching the broad leaves of the banana trees drip and glimmer in the drizzle and reading "Remains of the Day" with a steaming mug of hot tea. It’s all making me feel very homesick for Britain. A central tenet of Buddhism is trying to accept things the way they are - because it is our craving for our present situation to be different that creates "dukkha" or suffering. But I am not being very good at accepting things the way they are! Right now I don’t want to be in Thailand. I miss roast lamb dinners, a crisp glass of Chablis and cups of PROPER English breakfast tea! I want to see fine art and wear mohair jumpers and hear the crunch of autumn leaves under my boots. I miss dancing the night away with girlfriends or snuggling up on the couch with a boyfriend and the latest HBO dvd box set. How can you accept something when you don’t want to be here?

Recognising Resistance

I come to realise that recognising my resistance is the first step. There is a difference between being alone and feeling lonely and perhaps loneliness is actually my resistance to being on my own. Eventually after tiring myself out with feeling miserable I gradually come to realise why most spiritual practices harp on about acceptance and letting go - its actually rather practical advice. If all we do is stay in the negative mind set of not wanting to be where we are - how can we find the perspective and clarity needed to find a way out of it. The Tibetan Buddhist teacher Rinpoche gives this example: Buddhist travellers used to have to take an isolated path in Tibet high up in the hills and invariably those crossing it would get attacked by bandits but they had no choice but to make the voyage. The clever ones made friends with the bandits, and offered them money to escort them safely to the other side thus warding off other bandits and allowing the robbers to make more money as well.

The lesson he says – is to become aware of our problems and then let them in:

"Once you've made your enemies your friend there is nothing left to fight anymore..."

Understanding Impermanence

I'm helped in moving to a state of acceptance by remembering another tenet of Buddhism, Vipassana meditation. This technique encourages us to focus on listening and reflecting on the impermanence of the world around us and in ourselves. Listening to, for example, the sudden whirring into life of a cicada's wings or noticing the sensation of a flaring up of pain in one of our joints and then also noticing when the sound subsides or the pain dimishes. Right now because I’m alone I’m able to do exactly what I want and when I want. I spend long lazy days, swimming and writing and reading and eating amazing Mango Pie (found at Art in Chai.)

Who knows when I’ll get the chance to do this again or even where i'll be this time next year. Soon I may be married with a couple of kids in tow or living abroad with an exotic argentinian lover (here’s hoping!) Maybe i'll be ensconced in another capital city working on my own business. The times in our life where we really get to pare everything away and be by ourself are few and far between and I may not have the beauty of this alone time again for a very long time.

Appreciation through Mindfulness

Pai Chan Cottage, Pai, Thailand

I move to a beautiful place in Pai called Pai Chan Cottage. For just four quid a night I get a little wooden bungalow with big ensuite hot shower and they have a great chill out area with hammocks, a swimming pool and restaurant that does some seriously good breakfast bagels. Now that I’ve become conscious of how temporary this state is I know I can truly begin to appreciate it.

Mindfulness is a non spiritual form of meditation that encourages us to let go of thoughts and just concentrate on what we are experiencing in any given present moment. When I wake up in the morning I try noticing the intense luminous green of the sun light filtered through the melon tree outside my bungalow, how the crisp water of the pool envelopes my skin as I go for my early morning dip and the ripples on the water left by the dragon flies that skate the surface. In the distance the rice fields are filled with bright yellow butterflies. I feel truly blessed and lucky to be here.

The Pain of Being Human

As I've got older I've come to believe in the Jungian concept of the collective consciousness. Somehow, somewhere - I believe that on a spiritual level we are all connected. Or to put it in a more poetic way - No man is an island, Entire of itself, Every man is a piece of the continent, A part of the main. As written by the 17th century poet John Donne. Yet the very nature of taking earthly form in a human body and becoming an individual means that from the beginning of our life we bear the pain of our separateness from the whole. It is this pain that we feel - I’ve come to realise - when we are truly alone with out any distractions. it’s easier to work a 50 hour week, read a newspaper, jam our ears with our ipod , row with lovers, watch mindless tv,or drink the night away than face the fact that - as Rilke said:

We are all unutterably alone.

When we peel all of that away and just connect into silence and being alone we also connect into that deep emptiness and pain of isolation that is a natural part of the human condition, that is both exquisite, and terrifying in equal measure. And then something else happens too. With no job, no lover and no family around to make demands on me and having stripped my life of all external influences I’m able also for the first time to see clearly the internal obstacles I create all by myself. Who would have thought that it would be my perfectionism or my need for recognition or a million other little insecurities that have probably been so much more expert, insidious and skilled at holding me back from achieving what I want all this time than anything the external world threw at me. And yet up until a couple of years ago – it was so easy just to blame the shitty job or the wrong lover. How much more insightful and valuable to know that its actually me that's my own worst enemy! And scary too - but at least once you see that part of your self you can take responsibility for it, own it and change it - see the darkness and shine a light into it.

There is a great interview on Conan with the stand up comic Louis C.K on what it means to face up to the deeply exquisite pain of what it means to be human. I highly recommend a quick look here if you haven’t seen it :) The truth is this year has been difficult at times, for all those travel blogs out there who witter on about how easy it is to make friends on the road and how you’ll never be lonely the truth is however many new friends you make there will always be times when you find yourself alone and if you end up doing some long term travel there may well be points where you find yourself feeling lonely. But that doesn’t need to be a bad thing. Let the loneliness in. Because what better opportunity do we have than when we are off travelling the world and have left behind all of our relationships, work, friends, family and the bombardment of media that assaults our senses on a daily basis to take the space and time needed to live with ourselves and see ourselves just as we really are.

Have you had a similar experience on the road or off? - I'd love to hear your stories in the comments below.

 

  • PS Shalong the Rooster thinks black flip flops are other roosters and tries to engage in a cock fight by racing at your legs, flapping his wings and pecking you on your feet (the little b****d.)

 

 

When guys go weird and girls go after, mountain climbing and turkish telepathy in Koh Pangan, Thailand

I wake up on January 2nd still feeling sick. The White Russians on NYE probably didn't help but hey... Talon's been trying to get us to climb the big wooded mountain in the middle of the island for a while now (Canadians!) and today is the very last day I feel like doing it. But maybe sweating and a bit of aerobic exercise will help. He thinks its about a 6 hour round trip. Great. 

We drive to the base of the hill and start walking. I tell him I need to take it at my own pace and he says: 

“Oh anytime you want to we can start heading down just let me know” and then he disappears off up the mountain taking long strides. 

I'm beginning to regret my loose tee shirt dress outfit – and i've just conveniently remembered my vow that I would do no more treks or hikes in jungle tundra. I am sweet meat for mosquitos – I just prefer the calm , cool still beauty of the mountains. 

After about an hour i'm knackered and stopping for a quick breather more often. The legs are not enjoying their first proper work out since the running routine stopped sometime mid Laos. Plus, having been fighting a stomach bug all of December I don't think I have any natural reserves of energy either. 

“We can head down if you want to …? But hey I think we are nearly at the top” Talon says. 

I can tell the last thing he wants to do is head down and to be honest its not really my idea of a motivating day out either, giving up now, so I say: 

“No we'll keep going I just need to take my time is all.” 

He disappears off again and then I hear whooping, after only an hour and a half we get there. Thank god whoever said it was three hours either way got their facts wrong or walks slower than my dear departed grandmother. 

And its worth the wait. The air is calm and cool and you can see over the dense dark green wooded jungle down to the golden strips of coast and the dreamy blue sea beyond. Its so peaceful up here, I'm glad I made the effort. 

He gives me a perfunctory kiss and a squeeze. And then we head down . I watch has he disappears off into the undergrowth again. Every now and then he stops to wait for me, except one time where he goes: 

“Oh hahaha I forgot you were with me.” 

Quite. 
 


I don't feel very happy today, Talon is doing that thing “that guys do.” That weird, going all distant thing, that even at the age of 37 I haven't quite worked out. And in response i'm doing that weird thing that girls do... some kind of default mechanism I immediately whir into (I like to call Girl Crazy) that makes me start thinking - “What did I do?” “what did I say?” “Should I have done this better?”. And then trying extra hard. 

I think back to Martin, the lovely Argentinian boy I met in Vietnam. He would never have just left me to stumble down a mountain and disappeared off without reaching out his arm to help me down the tricky bits. Is it old fashioned to want a guy to do that? 

In the evening we go for a meal, I've said i'll treat him as he made all the effort for NYE. We head to Phangan Cove and share pizza to start, and fish amok – a Thai speciality of fish curry steamed in banana leaves. 

We've spent every day together since I've arrived and I think its been a bit much. He needs some space and so do I. I'm not sure all of this has quite filtered up into his conscious mind yet so he's just pulled away without realising it, and like a lot of girls, i'm pretty sensitive and notice and am feeling vulnerable as a result. Three glasses of wine and a more emotionally charged chat than I would have liked we part ways. 

I berate myself for getting involved too soon with someone without having to got to know them better but its tough when you are travelling because there isn't always a lot of time! I knotch it up as a lesson all the same, I need to take more time getting to know people because its oh so easy to to be be seduced in this gorgeous and seductive landscape... 

He comes round to clear the air the next day and return my laundry, and he's back in touch the following day asking if I want to grab a drink at sunset. So he comes over and then we head for the hills to the Yoga Resort. A lovely little place with steam room and yoga lessons. All the yogis here are really friendly and welcoming and there is a great Indian vegetarian all you can eat buffet for 150B but you have to be quick. We bow out when the winds pick up to try and make sure we miss any rain and part company at 8pm. 



Over the weekend Jo comes back and I'm glad i've got a girly friend to talk things through. She's put herself up in a nice place in town and I get to stay the night. We spend a little bit of time by her pool and then while she writes the Introduction notes to her new book about to be published - cue plug!!! Mindfulness for Dummies (available now on Amazon!) I head into to Thongsala for a little bit of retail therapy. A white crochet dress and a white denim mini skirt later and I feel a bit more purged. I've never been a tub of ice cream or half a cheesecake in the middle of the night girl - when guys make me feel crap I always headed straight for the shops. She's lured me over with talk of the great movie channel on her T.V so I'm expecting good things and i'm not disappointed – its Alvin and the Chipmunks. A highly annoying film which becomes slowly addictive, particularly as i'm reminded later – when they do the Single Ladies dance to Beyonce. 

On sunday we head back to Ananada and settle down in the restauarant with our computers. Talon comes over and joins us. 

“Well this is going to be awkward” I mutter to Jo who has been filled in on the whole story. Sure enough, I really don't know what to say. Is he even here to see me? Or just see the sunset? Does he want to just hang out as mates or something more? 

Subsequently I don't say anything to him. Then he leaves. I feel bad after – I didn't mean to freeze him out on purpose but I think i've hurt his feelings and when he posts a very public statement on facebook about what “sensitive creatures, we humans ” are.

That night its open mic night at Ananda again. Sure enough it always ends the same way with an old Japanese guy playing Ravel's Bolero on the guitar. Erol the mad, bald headed but brilliant Turkish guy finishes dancing his mad tribal dance to it and comes over and looks at me intently. 

“You are very sensitive. Very sensitive. With people,you need to make a decision quickly, take action and then don't think about it anymore.” 

And then he goes again. He's like a bloody mindreader ...how did he know EXACTLY what i was thinking about?? 

The next day, Level 1 yoga starts. 85 people are in the hall at Agama and the teacher, Adam, -a Californian with gentle voice, shoulder length black hair and piercing blue eyes, is addressing the group of 85 students or so gathered in front of him. 

Jo is having boy trouble of her own. She has gone out for a meal with Greg the nigh before and now as she poses herself on the mat next to me with our hands in bowed in namaste I think she's trying to tell me she has to leave: 

“What can go wrong in one evening??!” I ask bewildered. 

“I HAVE to leave the island!!” she exclaims. 

“You don't have to leave the whole island beause of some boy!” I retort without any idea of what is going on. 

Afterwards I decide to go round and see Talon and smooth things over. 

My hurt pride would never have let me go and try and patch things up with him before, but i've taken Erol's advice and made a decision to clear the air, I don't like the idea of anyone being unhappy because of me, and so i'm “changing my behaviour” and trying to behave like an adult about things. 

He's not in his hut but eventually I find him on the beach. 

“Yeah” he says “that was a bit weird hey, I just wanted some space...and you, you put up a wall.” 

Well, story of my life. Its hard for me to be vulerable with people and I still don't always get it right. There is a happier way, and i'm determined to find it. 



What becomes clear is that we still both want to spend some time together before he goes so we agree to meet up for lunch before my next yoga session. We go back to “Christmas Day Beach” and buy fresh shrimp and mackerel from the market. On the beach he makes a fire (again...Canadians!) and we grill it and eat it sitting up on a rock in the bright sunshine before he heads back home to the snows of British Colombia.