Slowing down

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I’ve finally been able to slow down this week, to eat properly and to focus in a much better way. The weather is getting better and brighter, and so am I.

To sit and consider an idea, rather than rush around. To talk to people and enjoy the sunshine. That’s a treasure, isn’t it? To just be, rather than fret and worry. And worrying about worrying, it’s just an endless circle.

I normally try to be active every day, to burn off all excess energy, but with dance classes cancelled last week, a little creature inside me has greedily lapped up the opportunity to slow down. Instead of rushing and running and cycling and all, I have just gone for some long runs. Again, just focusing, just moving, rather than doing everything all the time.

It’s freed my mind up a little bit to be more imaginative in other areas, I think. In the mornings and in the evenings, when the hubble has died down from all directions and there are no terribly urgent demands until the next day, I like to light some candles and dim the lights, listen to the soft rumble of music and tune out. Sometimes I like to picture the inside of my head as made up of lots of little dials. I switch some things down: ‘staying active’ is downgraded from a 9 to a 6, ‘spending quality time writing’ is turned all the way up. Even if the ideas aren’t rushing rapidly, I honour myself the time to sit and reflect and think about my next actions. A slow flow. Ideas are always flowing, whether we’re looking at them or not. Sometimes faster and more energetic than other times.


There was once a man

But tuning out can be so hard! So much noise both outside and inside my head, that I only become aware of when I tune into myself, rather than out of myself all the time. It’s absurd to imagine that turning down the volume on the outside world would make the inside clear and easy to hear suddenly. And it’s not just noise that I’m overwhelmed by, but stillness also. Stillness can be the loudest of all when it’s oppressive, like being aware there are spectres that I didn’t notice before.

Turning my mind over and over, I uncover old stories, old poems and songs, half-written, written in a flurry but never re-edited. Even they feel like too much. Like a folder stuffed of ideas and worlds and writings I’ve never formed into a finalised project. But that’s okay, I realise,  because some of them have evolved, and that old idea doesn’t even exist anymore, because it’s transformed into something else without me even realising… that’s how I feel as I go through all these old ideas, opportunities, that have now passed, that have died or become something new.

So I’ve cleared some of what I jokingly called ‘the rot’. But actually, it is rot. If I sit with an idea too long, it becomes more and more still and immobile, no longer alive and fluid. And it’s been such a relief; a true spring clean, not just of my surroundings, but of my mind. Clearing the inner annexes of my head, brushing away the cobwebs, I’m free to let ideas filter into my mind again, to hold them for enough just to give them some warmth and some nutrition, and to set them free again.

I put so much trust into others, and not nearly enough into myself. Learning to trust what I hear inside, my own words, well, that’s something I’m still learning how to do.





New Year

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Sunset in Porto

I’ve never been able to make New Year’s resolutions; I always find that when I decide to do something, I have to start as soon as possible! So I’m constantly making new ‘resolutions’, every day, rejecting old ones that don’t mean much anymore, and reshaping exactly what I want and how I want to achieve it.

Funny enough, those resolutions always stay roughly within the same categories. Maybe you find the same thing too? Fitness, writing, travel, music…

I try to avoid making resolutions about goals (reach this level in a language, write X amount of songs) and make them habit-, process-based, instead. Go to yoga once a week. Start learning Japanese again. Write a poem every day.

But as I get tired and too busy over the winter period, it’s easy to make this into a big to-do list, like the rest of my work… and suddenly, I have all these things I want to do, and I don’t know where to begin.

So this is the first year, in the depths of the long winter, where I’ve condensed this great ‘to-do’ list of ‘tasks’ into adventures, and into some core resolutions for 2018. Even when I have more processes on the go, these are the things I want to be conscious of, every single day.

1. Write every day with purpose. Fundamental to 2018 and simple. There are so many ways to mark progress on this, but I decided this year to write 3 pages every day as well as a new poem or song every day, so at first this resolution was to write every day. At first this resolution started really well. I was creating new ideas every day, writing new short stories, free flow writing. Then after a busy week, I noticed my writing was getting more and more lazy. There’s free flow writing, and then there’s writing for 3 pages ‘Well, I’m writing, but I’m not writing very much, so I guess I’m just going to write about how my day went and what I learned, and I’m feeling unmotivated blah blah…’. The more I wrote about how hard I found writing, the harder it got. It felt hollow. I was in a sinkhole, but instead of digging up, or trying to escape, I was digging down. And the more you write about writing, well, the more your world narrows, and the creativity just trickles away… so that’s why I’ve looked at it again and decided to change this goal from write every day, to write every day with purpose. To find what I’m really trying to say that day, what I’ve been trying to say for a very long time; when the winds of life are buffeting against the door, when they take me up in their storm, what core message can I find, beating, as I press my ear to the ground, as I embrace and welcome the constant rather than the fluctuations?

2. Move every day. At first when I started this resolution, I wrote ‘Exercise regularly’, but that’s not true to what I actually want to do. For me, swimming isn’t exercise. Yoga isn’t exercise. Dance isn’t exercise. It’s just moving the body, in different ways, staying active, not being afraid to get a sweat. For me, one of the biggest changes in 2017 was going to the gym every day. It was hard, but not as hard as I thought it was going to be. The hardest moments was when I forgot about it. After a month, it became a habit. But after three months, it wasn’t just a habit. It was part of life. If I went a day without getting out and moving and doing something, I would feel antsy with energy. That way, I didn’t even have to think about it.

3. Work hard, play hard. I like to think I work hard, but there’s this tendency to work inefficiently, and to be ‘busy’ – to work to as many hours as a day, like when you get a deadline at university and you do it all last minute. Now, I’m working at switching off, at allowing myself to work up to a stopline. That goes for working in a job but also writing – there’s such a difference between writing on a project, and creating new ideas for fun. When I’m traveling it’s easy to say ‘now, no work’, but what about weekends? What about evenings? Now that’s hard! I’d like to see more sunrises and more sunsets; to sleep outside more often; to enjoy my free time, without making it a chore in itself.

Another home

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Beach Summer 2017

Because of my job and everything I like to do, I find I’m always on the go. Always on the train, in a car, moving somewhere, whether it’s within England to London or to the north or to my real home in the south west, or further afield. In movement, I find peace. I’ve heard of writers who ride the subway to the end of the line and then get on another train and head back to the other end, just so they can write. Is it because of the act of moving, of being in no fixed space in the world, and if the body is moving then maybe the thoughts are too? Something moves in me, a flow is easier. Actually, I believe a lot of the joy I get from exploring new countries isn’t just from everything the country brings to me, but also from being on the go. And so I do this in everything. I crave to be moving, whether my own body through long walks, through dance or running, or from the world moving around me. Of course it’s good to stop too, to focus on the breath and where I am, but once it’s time to move again, it’s time to go.

So being everywhere at once, and nowhere for long, means I have a lot of homes everywhere, both in my home country and elsewhere in the world. And I have another now, I’m happy to now say.

As soon as I walked into the house, I could feel a story waiting to be written. But it was walking to the beach, just a few hundred metres away, where I found somewhere else waiting for me. It was a hot day, blue skies, where an estuary path stretched down to the sea, the longest and whitest beach I’ve ever known pulling in front of me. And so empty, hardly a soul there. I didn’t just see myself there at the time, but many ‘me’s, stretching out into the future. I could see myself sitting down here, with others, on my own. I knew how far this tide came in and how far away it stretched, and the beach it would uncover and envelop, and bring out again. The shapes it would curve in the wind, the way the birds landed. There was so much to discover. It felt like the beach belonged to me, in that moment, and I knew then for many moments to come. It doesn’t have to be owned by me in name in order for me to belong to it, and it to me. It was just home. A new home.



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Iceland in 2016


Hi! If you’ve found this, you may be looking for an old post of mine, as I know a few of my older posts get a number of hits from Google. I just wanted to say I’ve taken the decision to delete all of my old posts and start afresh.

I’ve been a casual blogger ever since I started traveling. But things have changed. Those posts are old now. The past couple of years of work and play have been such a learning curve to me. Working in an office to working ‘from home’ (translation: from here, there and everywhere, wherever me and my bag are next). Learning what I truly like and how to do everything I want to do. Learning how to be authentic – to others, and to myself.

And people have been asking, when are you starting your blog, when are you going to start posting about all these adventures you’re going on?

The truth is, it has been getting a bit hard to approach writing and photography with very old posts still online. The things that mean the most to us are often those that are hardest to look square in the face, and writing became that to me. Writing on my blog was like opening a great, heavy journal of my life and faced with the weighty pages of the past. How nice would it be, to open a new notebook, to take a deep breath, and to begin again?

The great thing is, when your work is online, you can do whatever you like and you can reinvent yourself. And as I’d like to continue to journal and write as authentically as I possibly can, I thought it best in 2018 to start from scratch and bring new perspectives to my writing.

So I guess the answer to that question, ‘when are you starting your blog?’ is, ‘Well, it’s always been there. But now, now is when it really starts.’

Also, I’ve changed my blog address from Where Comfort Ends to here. Now it’s on a fresh slate, I hope my writing will be more personal than ever.

If you’re missing an old post and want the archive, please feel free to get in touch.

Latest from the Blog

Slowing down
with No Comments

I’ve finally been able to slow down this week, to eat properly and to focus in a much better way. The weather is getting better and brighter, and so am I. To sit and consider an idea, rather than rush around. To talk to people and enjoy the sunshine. That’s … Read More

New Year
with No Comments

I’ve never been able to make New Year’s resolutions; I always find that when I decide to do something, I have to start as soon as possible! So I’m constantly making new ‘resolutions’, every day, rejecting old ones that don’t mean much anymore, and reshaping exactly what I want and … Read More