Kindness, like a second skin

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

Today is Nelson Mandela day and when my boyfriend told me about what him and his team are doing today- handing out sandwiches and soup to people in Cape Town- I started thinking what can I do today? 

Something that may help change the world for the better, no matter how small. You never know how your actions are going to affect others, but even something as simple as a smile or a kind word can turn someone’s entire day around. So today I have decided to write from my heart, with the hope that maybe it will inspire just one person or make someone read this post and think “Me too!”

I want to talk about kindness. We can get so caught up in our own lives, obsessing over things that aren’t even really such a big deal, that we can forget to be kind to people, kind to ourselves. We get so wrapped up in our own problems, that we forget the bigger picture. We need to be more kind. Not just to people around us, but also to ourselves, to animals, to the planet we are so lucky to call home.

Start your day with a grateful heart, for being alive and healthy. Whisper something kind to yourself and really mean it. We could all do with being a bit kinder to ourselves. Be thankful that you have a warm bed to get up from, because so many others don’t. When you eat your breakfast and wash with clean water, say thanks. These are privileges that not everyone has access to, and we take them for granted. We do. And that’s not all we take for granted. When was the last time you listened fully to the person speaking to you, the person who has chosen to share their feelings with you? Most of the time we are so preoccupied with our own problems, with staring at our phones and mindlessly scrolling through photos of other people’s lives, we barely even acknowledge that there is someone right there in front of us asking to be listened to. Be kind. Put down your phone when you’re with people. Do you really need to be on Facebook when there are actual humans around you?

It’s scary the way we think we can multitask like this and it’s not on. I am absolutely guilty of this and recently I’ve just been leaving my phone in the other room when I have company. It’s refreshing and rare. Remember the days before phones when we actually had to talk to people in real life about real issues, instead of reading them online? When you are having dinner tonight, whether it’s with your husband or your mum or even if it’s just you, leave your phone in a different room. Be kind to the moment by being in the moment. Look your wife in the eyes and enjoy the sensations and flavours of whatever it is you are blessed enough to be eating. Laugh. Compliment whoever is sitting with you and if you’re sitting by yourself, well then, darn well compliment yourself.  And if possible, choose to be kind to yourself and to the planet by only eating wholesome, plant-based foods.

Being kind and grateful isn’t hard. It’s actually the most simple thing in the world, but sometimes we just forget this. A smile costs nothing. Helping someone in need, whether it be by offering them some positive words when they’re feeling down, or by listening to them and giving them your full attention, will do wonders. We can start small, and eventually, hopefully, kindness will be like a second skin again. Something we’re enveloped in, something that fits as snugly as a favourite outfit, something that feels as good as the first rainfall after a drought of many months. At one point in time, I’m pretty sure we must have all been kind all the time, but somewhere along the way we got side-tracked, lazy, selfish. Well, I’m choosing to keep that second skin of kindness wrapped tightly around me. It feels good.

Today I choose kindness, and from everyday here on out. I choose to celebrate all the kind people in the world, and in doing so, strive to be as kind as them. There is always something more we can do to make the world a better place, but starting with growing kindness in your heart and choosing to wear it proudly every day is a good start. Smile at everyone today, and smile at yourself. It might even freak people out a bit because do strangers even smile at one another in this day and age?

Smile. Who cares if you get wrinkles. The kinder you are, the more your face will be like a map, full of lines connecting you to all the people around you. No-one can resist a bit of kindness. So what are you waiting for? Go be kind. Start with yourself and watch as it spreads. I hear it’s pretty contagious…


Image by Patrice Murciano

Peel back the Safety Blanket

I could choose to sit back and let these days pass my by, let these thoughts float away to the furthest corners of my brain where they’ll slip away, lost in amongst all the stories I never chose to share over the years, or I could pop this gigantic procrastination bubble that I seem to have found myself enclosed in and get on with doing all the things I’ve always wanted to do but not had time for.

Things like writing this blog, writing my novel, inhaling books, practicing yoga with my stiff but grateful body. But also de-hoarding EVERYTHING in my house, and by house I mean my mum and dad’s house. There’s something about a big life change that just requires you to clear away all your old junk, your old treasures, and get rid of it. I want my life to fit into a few boxes. I know that may seem crazy, but it feels so good. I love minimalism and I’ve embraced it with wide open arms these last few months. When I packed up my life in China (oh yeah, I left China after 7 years…more on that later), I donated everything except two suitcases of clothes and old journals and some other random bits and bobs that make me smile. I donated ALL MY BOOKS. Guys, that is huge. I love reading and books are basically my babies and I gave them all away. Then I got home to Scotland and gave all my books away here too…I think they totaled more than 200. When I was struggling to do this, my boyfriend reminded me that if I just leave them to get all dusty on my bookshelves, they’ll feel upset and unloved. Well, that was enough motivation for me to send them off to new, loving homes. I hope everyone who has my books are getting as much joy from them as I did.

It’s amazing how much stuff we hold on to. It also makes me so much more aware now when I feel I want to buy something new. Do I actually need this thing? Or do I just want it because I’m feeling low and a new dress will make me happy for a day or two? I want to consume less, own less. I only want to buy things that I need and that are good quality and preferably locally made or sourced. The book addiction, however, isn’t going anywhere, so I will just need to join the library in Cape Town.

That’s right. I have moved to Cape Town! Back to Cape Town. And yet it feels like a brand new adventure, I guess because that’s exactly what it is. I quit my full-time job as a voice actor in China, gave away all my books, said farewell to Asia and headed back to South Africa. Why on earth would I do that, right?! Just kidding. Hi Dane!

I did it because why not? Because sometimes even when you love your current life, there is still something more out there. Because being too comfortable isn’t a good thing. Because change is something we need to strive for more. We need to push ourselves out of our comfort zones, peel back our safety blankets and take a leap into the unknown. Or known. But a new known. Life can sometimes whirl us back around to the beginning, back to where we started, but in doing so, give us a fresh perspective, a new set of eyes to view this place all over again. The circle of life. If you delve a little deeper, this is what it all comes back to. Around and around we go, learning lessons, coming back to the beginning a little wiser, a little more disheveled, but ready for more.

My life has brought me back to South Africa and I cannot complain one bit. It must be where I’m meant to be right now. I’m just going with the flow. The Universe, my heart, my gut, they were all pushing me in this direction and even though it took me a little while, I managed to slip out of China’s fierce but loving claws, for the time being, and skip ahead to the next chapter of my life. And it feels good. I was terrified at first. No-one telling me what time to wake up at, what time to clock in to work at, no job to go to actually, but slowly things are taking shape and I’m beginning to take control of my own life, my own time, and isn’t that just the most empowering and simultaneously nerve-wracking thing? My Chinese safety blanket has been removed and it’s all up to me now.

Where to from here? Well, hopefully more writing, more creativity, more control…of my time, my days, my every little moment. I feel positive that this can only be a good thing. Time is precious. How are you spending your time today?


Photo by Anthony Pontillas

The Friendliest Smile in the World

And just like that, I long to write here again. Like the waxing and waning of the moon, my inspiration dips and peaks on a cyclical basis. I actually recorded myself saying that exact sentence on my phone as I walked home from dinner, for fear that the urge would once again slip out of my hands and crawl back into hibernation. But I’m here! I am sat at my desk for the first time in months and even if no one reads this, it’s totally OK. I am connecting with myself today, checking in and making sure I can still type. I have been so busy scattering my thoughts into cosy little notebooks these past moons, that I’ve barely even acknowledged this space. It’s actually quite cosy here too. I am now committing to the promise to visit here more often, even if it’s just to say hi and to share something random.

Tonight I went to this Buddhist Vegetarian restaurant just around the corner from my apartment that I discovered last week. I can’t believe it has been on my doorstep this whole time and I’ve never ever been. It made me suddenly think…what else have I not noticed before? What gems are lurking in the neighbourhood, just waiting to be explored? Anyway, as I entered the restaurant, the young man working there stopped in his tracks and sent me the friendliest smile you could ever hope to be welcomed with. This is only my third time to go there, and yet he so was so happy to see me. This made me feel so lucky to have found such a homely place to dine at. It felt a bit like coming home after a long day at school and being greeted by your family. Someone who is genuinely happy to see you. And all of this despite the fact that I am still a total stranger to him. This felt quite significant for me. In a big city, far from home, there is nothing better than being made to feel comfortable somewhere. This restaurant does just that. I like the fact that each time I’ve been I’ve seen exactly the same diners every time. The monk with the navy blue robe, the old woman with the purple tie-dye waistcoat and of course the young man with the friendliest smile in the world.

This put me in such a good mood, I decided to stop at the flower man’s cart on the way home and buy my neighbour a bouquet of flowers. As I got home, I left them outside her door balanced inside one of her shoes. And thus I declare March the month of random acts of kindness.

Maybe it’s that Spring is coming, maybe it’s the yoga challenge I’ve been jumping out of bed to do at 6am every morning, or maybe it’s just that being kind and smiling at strangers are some of the best things you can do for yourself and the world. Whatever the reason, long may the inspiration flow and long may your days be filled with moments of magic!

The old inspiration daze

To write with reckless abandon like days gone by. Inspiration in the form of Murakami words floating up off the page and becoming entangled with the musical notes of Arcade Fire, creating a dance upon the metro as you raced home to eat peanut butter smothered on crackers in your cold-tiled apartment. You were younger then, more uninhibited. Your voice was yet to be discovered, but the one you used back then was perhaps better, funnier.

Let’s go back to that time. To days spent in a sensory overload. Days where everything was new and exciting and overwhelming, with a hint of naivety, a touch of spontaneity. Long, lost days of navigating a city for the very first time. Rushing through crowds with a beating heart and a grin, drinking beer by a lake with people from all around the globe. Eating ten dumplings every night at 10pm and two chocolate pies for breakfast every day at 8am.

If only it were that easy. To see everything through a fresh pair of rose-tinted spectacles. To ignore the ‘China Days’, the China haze, the daze that sets you on a whirlwind of complaining that spirals and spirals until you snap in half. There is a reason you came here six years ago and a reason you are still here. Let’s remember what charmed you. The smiles of curiosity at this funny foreign girl who manouevers the streets like someone from outer space. The way you can buy the freshest fruit of the season from a basket outside your house. That tea is the coffee of the day, cartoons the news. A language that feels like a game you might possibly win as words bubble to the surface and slip out, words you could never have imagined you’d be able to formulate, never mind remember and converse in. The ping-pong battle of loving and hating this place and loving it again, day in and day out. It’s like one giant labyrinth of challenges, adventures and discoveries around each and every corner.

It is that easy. All it takes is writing down a few things you feel grateful for. The reasons this place has been your home for six years and still is. Writing. That’s the key. Never stop expressing your gratitude for crazy, chaotic China and everything it has brought your way. A job you love, a new fascinating language and culture that you will never stop learning from, a fateful encounter with the one you love, friends from all around the world, and many other things, the big one being inspiration.

Take that inspiration and turn it into something more. Let it take shape, take flight and flutter out to land upon the heads of others, maybe igniting a tiny spark of inspiration in them too.

uprooted ideas

Uprooted trees dot the streets as far as the eye can see, shards of glass shining like diamonds amongst the dirt. The people of the city have been out in full force, sweeping leaves into neat little piles that zig zag along the side of the pavements. And I’ve been trying to do the same. With my thoughts, my ideas, my dreams. Sweeping them back and forth from my heart to my head, and back again. It’s as clear as crystal, and yet why do I keep procrastinating? Why sweep back and forth? A scribble in a notepad here, a tripping over in the street there because my head got lost in an imaginary world and forgot to focus on the here and now. The ideas really are like these leaves, these trees that have been forced out of the earth by mother nature. My heart is the typhoon, forcing the ideas to spill out, battling with my head- the hoarder, who would prefer to keep the ideas safe in little caverns inside itself. Dusted into a corner for safekeeping, shrouded in a mist of ‘what if?’

What if instead of trying to reconnect these ideas back to where they came from, you released them? You let them fall out of the tips of your fingers into a notebook or onto a screen, and become something more. Don’t try and tie them back to their roots, your heart. Open them up to the world and let them fly out to land upon others who may need them, want them. Sometimes you just need to shake things up a bit to remember that old feeling of being carefree, of being renewed. Let your dreams trickle out and see what happens.

If you really can’t seem to uproot your ideas by yourself, maybe you need a little assistance. Do a headstand on a hill and feel the ideas slip from your heart to your head and don’t stop until they’re pouring out your ears, your eyes, your mouth, filling every one of your senses and landing on the grass around your head like daisies on a summer day. Slowly turn the right way up again and scoop up the ideas, and go. Make them a reality. Let the wind carry them up in her clutches to become a rain shower of inspiration in all the lands. Don’t let them sink back into their cosy nooks and crannies that make up your being. This is your chance.

And just like that maybe things will start flourishing around you. Those sneaky fears that hold you back, you can dust them into the corners of your core as much as you like, but the dreams that wake you up in the middle of the night and make your heart vibrate, those are the ones that need to take shape, take flight.

On that note, I’m going to go turn myself upside down and see what might float out from this overflowing brain of mine.




Anticipate your fate as it streams in through the cracks, sending currents of light straight to your heart.

You breathe in and

out the door you go, clicking the handle four times for luck. And four minutes later you walk and talk and slip into the pace of the day without looking back.

The last seat is yours for the taking and with burning eyes you sink down.

Sleep only comes to those who can quiet their minds but your mind is vibrating at ten million beats a second, and your blood is pumping so fast you could explode at any given moment. Right there on the bus a rainbow would appear, jolting energy out from all its colours of the world, landing smack bang on peoples’ heads and then everyone would shuffle off the bus in pure politeness.

You’re a daydreamer, you dream away the days in a blur of imagine…

Imagine if everyday felt like this, like anything could happen, like contentness swirling through your veins and shooting out your fingertips and making things come alive. The moon is glowing. They say it’s the pollution. But you just see a glow. The brightest glow that carries you home and into bed where you don’t sleep because how can you sleep when you feel like this?

Cicadas shriek, you smile but look away before they smile back, your eyes are on the sky, the prize, something bigger. You’re drowning in it and you don’t mind one bit. It makes your nails grow faster, your eyes blink and blink and it’s almost here, but you don’t want it to end.

They say anticipation is sweeter, where days blend together from the roots to the tops of the highest branches collecting nectar as they go. Everything floats up, including you, and you try to grab onto something but you can’t stop rising and soon who knows where you’ll end up?

But then…

As quickly as it all built up, it slows, to the pace of a snail. Keyboards click and the water bubbles up and a haze covers the city. You nestle into it, these last moments. Stretching them out until the end of the day. If only you could freeze this feeling into miniature flower-shaped ice cube molds. Everyday when you crave to caress the clouds once more, just squeeze out a frozen flower and as it tumbles into the half empty glass, wait…

…for it to hit the bottom, sending water swishing up making your glass totally and utterly full. Let it float up, the flower and your heart and as it comes to a halt in the middle, sending little ripples of spring blossom out across the water, feel that familiar anticipation flood your everything. Let it linger, melting into a maze of memories that is like playing your favourite song on repeat from morning until night, day after day.

Then let it repeat, again.

Sister Sister

“You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family.”

That may be so, but actually if I could choose, I would always choose my family, over and over and over again. They rock!

I wish I could remember it more clearly, but I wasn’t even three years old. I sat atop the hospital bed and sipped my cup of lemon barley water, grinning like a fool. I felt a bit sorry for my doll Susie as now I had a ‘real’ doll to play with and poor Susie would be left at the bottom of the toy box, forever more. Pretty soon, my new doll and I were up to all sorts of mischief. Being a big sister came with a lot of responsibility. I had a new little imagination to nurture and a new fellow explorer for my adventure games. It all happened so naturally. A best friend without any of the awkward playground first meetings. We were the same, but also totally different. Sharing a room for the first seven years of our life together, meant the fun never stopped. We lived our lives according to the schedule of cartoons and the imaginary game of the week. Mostly it was all sweet laughter and real smiles, but there was of course the occasional fall-out.

Flash forward twenty years and we are still the same. One moment we are lying side by side taking silly photos, the next we are full-on karate kid style fighting in a field near our village. Unlike fall-outs with friends though, the bad feelings don’t linger. Give us ten minutes of tears and space, and one of us will eventually sidle up to the other, slip a hand through their arm, whisper “i love you bitch” and silently laugh with a sneaky side glance. That’s sisters for you and I think I did pretty well in the sister race at winning such a sweet one, even if she can be a little shit sometimes. (Jokes. I love you really). Rather than argue over our differences, we celebrate them. And really we’re not as different as we both think we are. We are both sensitive and compassionate beings and we are always thinking of others. Even though we don’t see each other as much as we’d like, we know the other is always there, just a phone call away.

One day soon we’ll live closer again and in between mastering our karate chops and driving our parents bat-shit crazy with our antics, I’m pretty sure we’re going to make plenty more hilarious memories. Maybe that’s the key? Absence really does make the heart grow fonder. At least when we do see each other, time is precious and we cherish it more than if we saw each other every single day. Although to be honest, we saw each other every day for about eighteen years and it was awesome, so maybe living closer isn’t such a bad idea. That way I could steal her clothes more often…

Today I celebrate my amazing sister. She is one brave, fierce girl with the biggest heart of anyone I know and I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have been born best friends with. Thanks for always bringing me back down to earth when I float too high and get lost in the clouds, for being my personal taxi driver when I’m home, for looking after my eyebrows and for letting me use all your stuff when I visit (oh no…wait…you don’t know about that part…haha!). I love you baby sis! Happy Birthday! Presents and playing with your hair to follow when I next see you, but in the meantime I hope this will suffice!

p.s. If I have the best sister in the world, that means you do too sis! Aye, nae shit Shezza!


Watermelons and Positivity

Watermelons rattle and rumble in the back of trucks on every corner of every street. Competition is fierce and with a quick ‘knock knock’, the winner of the watermelon wars can be identified pretty quickly. That’s when you know you can trust a fruit seller. The simple techniques they use to distinguish the good from the bad. A sniff here, a shake there, and you’ve got the best apples in town. They care. They want you to enjoy their fruit so they’ll go the extra mile to ensure you get the best of the best. That’s why it’s nice to buy local. Fruits of the season from the fruit bearers themselves. It’s all well and easy to hop into Walmart for a bunch of grapes or a conveniently-chopped up pineapple, but where did they come from exactly? Don’t you want something fresher?

I love China for that reason. Well, as long as they’re not using too many pesticides that is. You can live your life here according to what fruits are in season. Right now it is most definitely watermelon season and I am positively devouring them on a daily basis. For some reason this fruit talk reminds me how easy it to forget where you are and how different your life is from the one you grew up living. When I was a kid, I could never have opened my front door and had my every sense overwhelmed in the way I do now. I kind of love the way you can just buy fruit from the back of trucks and freshly-baked bread from two Uyghur people who have set up a mini mobile bakery under the trees near my office. Once they’re done baking, they take turns sleeping in a hammock. They have been there for years and I love crossing the bridge and knowing that I’m getting closer as the sweet, salty scent of the baking bread wafts up to rest on the end of my nose.

Sometimes when you think about something, it just happens. This past week I think I started to feel a bit isolated from people here. I have decided to start revising all my old Chinese that I might have forgotten so that I can start having more deep and meaningful conversations again. I also thought how much of a pity it is that we often sit next to people and shove our faces into our phones instead of making eye contact or striking up a conversation. On Monday I was on the bus on my way to yoga and I really wanted to read my book. The man next to me started asking me the usual questions in Chinese such as ‘Where are you from?’ ‘What do you do here?’ etc. I politely replied, but then not so politely pulled out my book and stuck my nose in. I felt guilty but at the same time, I wasn’t really in the mood for chatting to a stranger.

And that is our big problem as humans. Back in the day, I’m pretty sure we would have been happy to talk to anyone. We were more community-focused, more dependent on our neighbours and fellow human beings. Nowadays we’d rather talk to our ‘friends’ who live in our phone. I don’t like this. So on Wednesday night after yoga when I hopped off the bus and saw a guy who lives in the same building as me, I immediately smiled and walked over to him, and without even asking I just walked home with him and asked him how he’s doing? What does he do here? Does he feel happy? etc etc. I could have just nodded my head in acknowledgement and continued on my merry way, and believe me, the introvert inside me was screaming for me to do this, but I decided to take the opportunity to be more friendly and isn’t that how we make friends anyway? By stepping out of our comfort zones, approaching people and recognizing that they too, are a human, just like you, and they deserve to be given a chance to become more than a mere stranger.

I think this is a chain effect, because as I turned the corner out of my apartment complex today, I found myself walking directly next to an elderly Chinese man. I’m talking synchronized walking, step for step, exact same pace. I actually admitted to myself that this felt pretty funny and I looked at him to see if he had noticed this too. Before I even had time to catch his eye, he had struck up a conversation. And that is how I found myself walking to the bus stop today with a total stranger, chatting about life and work and the differences between China and Scotland. As I neared the bus stop, I said bye and have a nice day! I may never meet this person again, but it sure was nice to know that not all humans are cold and unfriendly. Of course, I’m not totally naïve here. I know it may have purely been because I am a foreigner and he was just curious, but hey, it’s better than nothing. And afterwards, I spotted a colleague on the bus and said good morning, and then I though to myself, wow! Even in such a bit city you can still build a little community and feel like you really belong, no matter your age or gender or where you come from.

Here’s to more talking and laughing with strangers that may become friends, to more positivity, and of course…more watermelons.

Happy Weekend!




 Image by the talented Chhuy-ing.

Love Birds: a short flight of fancy

He glimpsed her through the flocks, and had to admit, her eyes really glowed against all of that green. It was obvious she was from a similar breed. The way she moved, so free from inhibitions and the fact she was as happy alone as when she was surrounded by others. Plucking up some inebriated courage, he flew over to her and introduced himself. Her eyelashes fluttered and the rest, well, the rest was history.

She took him back to her cosy little nest, which she had built all by herself on the southern tip of the city. She liked to be close to the ocean, her secret getaway when the city took its toll, and of course her gate way to other lands, other skies. He lived more to the east, higher up in height and higher up the ladder. He cruised with a different type altogether, and yet it is more than likely that they would have passed each other at some point or other, if not today, then upon some other eve.

There was an immediate understanding, perhaps owing to their breed. A mischievous look from her was all it took to ruffle his feathers and after that first encounter she found herself flapping all over the place. Her heart was in her stomach and she felt as if she’d just flown around the world and back. She couldn’t wait to see him again. Sending out a message of flirtation, she waited for a reply. It came, after some time. Maybe it had been held up by the storm or lost in the wind, she told herself calmly. Except she didn’t feel calm. She was anxious and already planning the nest they would build together one day. She tried to slow down but it was so easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of it all. Her heart began to soar too high, too fast. Knowing that she might get knocked down at some point, she retreated a little.

And every time she did so, he would pop up and carry her along on his dangerous flight of love, or was it lust? She began to feel addicted to the adrenaline of it all. The way he would pick and choose their route, the things they would see and do, and then after a tumultuous ride of highs and lows, he’d dangle her over the edge and she really could snap at any moment, falling back down to earth with a broken heart, a broken wing or two. She knew it was risky but she had been flying solo so long and this adventure was new and exciting and who knew what would happen next? Maybe he would finally make it official and tell all his friends. She didn’t know how much longer she could handle being referred to as his ‘bird’. She didn’t want to be anyone’s ‘bird’. So, she decided to wait it out.

They glided through the seasons, both departing frequently and flying off in different directions. The summer passed in a haze of humidity and absence. With the arrival of autumn though, they became a little closer. It started to get cold out there and it’s always nicer to seek warmth from another. She had grown used to his delay in communication and started to accept it as normal, even though others were whistling all around her, reaching out to her with their wide, open arms. She darted off every time one of them approached. She wanted him, only him, in all his mysterious glory. And sometimes she really did have him. They would be hovering on the edge of something solid, something real, and as she glanced at him with those big, watery eyes, he would take off.

Back to her nest she would go, where she would overthink every single thing she had said, every move she had made. It was obvious they were not on the same path. She stuck around regardless, daring herself to get hurt. And on moonlit evenings she would look out and wonder what he was up to? Was he building their nest? Or was he flitting around, creating his own world? They were circumnavigating, it was clear. Maybe her inner compass had broken? Was it possible for her to have lost herself this much?

Having reached her limit, she asked him outright: “Will you ever be ready to build a nest together?” He didn’t respond. He stayed very still, but something inside him had flown off. The next day, he really flew, leaving her to pick up all the stray feathers, the aftermath. She needed to clear her head with sea breeze and she knew just the place for this.

As she flew home amongst the stars, the mountains jutting out below, she could feel the past year falling away. It wasn’t going to be an easy journey. There were so many places they had graced together, but she flew solo once upon a time and she sure as hell would do it again. She thought back to the night they had met. She had no idea it was on the horizon. And yet, if you asked her now, she would tell you she would do it again. Over and over again. Those adrenaline-fueled flights of fancy aren’t every day occurrences. They are pretty special. And anyway, it’s not that difficult to heal a broken wing, a broken heart. Especially when there’s a whole world out there to explore. Lucky for her, her wanderlusting wings heal pretty quickly.

Where to next? She wondered.


 Image sourced from here.

Home is everywhere

“Oh hi, we haven’t seen you in a while.”

This was not the greeting I was expecting when I returned to my favourite local beef noodle restaurant in the back alley behind my old apartment in Taipei. Seeing as I hadn’t lived there for three years, I assumed I would be forgotten. Just another foreign face among many. But I was wrong. They hadn’t forgotten me. They smiled at me like I was an old friend and they remembered my precise order. As the old tattooed Taiwanese guy went over to slice some noodles into my bowl, I sat there feeling amazed. Most of the time, nothing changes. We assume because we’ve changed, that everything will have changed. But these people who run successful restaurants, they are still there. And what keeps people coming back is this kind of attitude. He could have just been pretending, but it seemed pretty genuine. It felt good to be ‘home’. And that broth! No one can make beef noodle soup as good as that place. I walked back to the apartment in a state of awe.

My smile remained as I noticed the amount of letters lying in the basket of my bicycle under the stairs. Yes, my bicycle still sits there, waiting for my return one day. She may be covered in rust, with love-heart shaped dust, but she is as loyal as ever. The fact that my old roommate has let it sit there for years, and that no one else has dared throw it out too, makes me feel overjoyed. Returning to Taiwan is really like returning home. The streets still sparkle, still smell of the same deliciousness. The same old men play cards in the park, nestled deep under the trees where squirrels and butterflies frolic by day and bats by night. Everyone in Taiwan looks happy.

Anyway, enough about how much I love Taiwan. That’s not something I need to annoy you all with. I just wanted to write about the feeling of coming home, even if it’s not your ‘actual’ home. I tend to feel that way in a lot of places, especially Scotland and Taiwan, and South Africa of course. But even in places like Luang Prabang too. When I visited there for the first time in February this year, I instantly fell in love. As I walked the streets dotted with monks flitting in and out of temples, I felt like I’d been there before, like I had lived there once upon a time. I didn’t need to use a map. The streets felt familiar, the people like family.

Perhaps it’s a mindset. A way to instantly feel comfortable in a place. Just let it assume the role of ‘home’ and you’re instantly on the path to a wonderful experience. As the saying goes ‘home is where the heart is’. And if we break this down into simple terms, the heart is wherever you are. And thus, everywhere you go is technically ‘home’. I like that. Of course there will be some places that just don’t float your boat, and that’s OK. You don’t need to give your heart to everywhere. But if you feel at ease, please open your heart and accept a place with wide open arms and a curious hunger for everything that place encompasses. Don’t be afraid to let it crawl under your skin, burrowing there forever more. That’s what makes us human. The fact we can let things, people, places affect us. The fact we are able to open ourselves up and say “yes, here I am, here’s my heart, I am vulnerable.” We should want to be moved, want our hearts and our world to be rocked on a daily basis. Why settle for anything less? Find the place, the person, the job, the book…whatever it is that makes you feel at ‘home’, makes your heart feel like it’s right where it’s supposed to be in that moment.

And if you think you haven’t found ‘home’ yet, maybe you just need to open yourself up a bit and start collecting things around you to build your ‘home’ in all its metaphorical glory. Live a life that blows your mind everyday.