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.




The Gratitude Attitude

I am grateful for every breath that guides me through this sweet, crazy little thing we call ‘life’. We shouldn’t squander these precious days with nonexistent boredom, pointless scrolling through other peoples lives, being negative or complaining. We are lucky to be alive, to be able to call this earth- in all its glory and misery- our home. Let us be more positive, more kind, give more thanks, and in return maybe we can reap its sweet nectar and share it with those around us. We are the lucky ones. The ones who can grace these lands, absorbing it all for our greedy little hearts and minds. So today I give thanks to this beautiful earth for continually looking after me. I hope I am looking after you too, earth.

It’s amazing what a little bit of gratefulness can do for you. Every morning at my work desk, I write a page of things I feel grateful for and it really does help. A feeling of calm immediately whooshes over me, and the more grateful I am, the more light my life feels, the more little things jump out at me and squeal for appreciation. We shouldn’t take these small things that make up our day for granted. The way the sun begins to rise a little earlier every day turning the leaves a deep gold which bounces off your window, creeping through the gap in your curtains waking you gently from your slumber. Access to water, hot water at that. Inspiration in the form of beautiful literature, music that makes you want to dance throughout the whole day, smiles from strangers that automatically paint a smile across your face too. Getting excited to make a cup of warm tea. Tea soothes and solves everything. Catching someone in a ‘moment’, whether they have just tripped and pick themselves back up with a giggle, or have just received a funny message from a lover and their happiness becomes your happiness. Food glorious food that nourishes and heals you. Kisses from loved ones, both near and afar, real and in emoji-form. These are the things we should be saying thanks for each and every day.

It’s pretty simple. If we were just a bit more grateful for the things we did have, such as legs to walk across this spectacular world with, eyes to glimpse all of the beauty that surrounds us everywhere we turn, ears to hear all those magical voices and accents from every corner of the globe, all those birds chilling in the treetops, instead of constantly striving for the things we don’t have, and to be honest don’t really need, such as that brand new fast car, a bigger house with an even bigger mortgage, the latest smart phone, I’m pretty sure the world would be a happier place. If you’re lucky enough to be able to see and hear what lies around you, give thanks to it. To the birds that wake you up with their pretty melodies, to the guards that keep watch over your apartment complex 24/7 and always greet you with a smile, to the people who empty your rubbish bin every day who whistle as they work, to the waiter in the restaurant who constantly tops up your water every minute…give thanks to them. And of course to your family and friends who make your world go round!

I promise you’ll feel happier. Go say thank you to someone purely because you think they are an amazing human being. The reaction from them is bound to make you feel good too, and so the cycle goes. Also, don’t forget to thank yourself for being awesome! After every yoga practice our teacher reminds us to thank ourselves for the practice, and she is so right. Not only should you thank your body for being strong enough to undergo such a practice, but also you should thank it for supporting you and allowing you to live a healthy life. You should also continually thank your heart for being open and not only being able to dish out gratitude but also being able to accept it too. It’s important that you learn to be able to accept a compliment. If you constantly put yourself down and never tell yourself ‘I love you’ or give thanks for having lived through another stunning day, how can you expect other people to love you or feel grateful for you? Don’t forget yourself. You matter too.

And so, I thank whoever actually reads my ramblings and gets something out of it, and I thank myself for being disciplined enough to actually sit and write and for enjoying this creative process.




Starting and Stopping

The last time I let my heart run wild, sending quick little movements out from my fingertips, the days were cold and the nights were colder. Recently I’ve been filling notebooks with my thoughts, sharing them only with myself and the contents of my bag where the notebook lives. I want to share. I have so many ideas fluttering around and I can’t count how many times I’ve opened a blank page and let my feelings pour out. And yet, I can’t click ‘publish’. Enough is enough. Sometimes if you don’t do something for a long time, it can be really hard to start again. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve started and stopped yoga, started and stopped being a vegetarian, started and stopped starting and stopping. Today I must start again, even if the words don’t inspire, don’t strike a chord with anyone but myself. It’s so easy to fall off the bandwagon, but today I’m jumping back on. Hello words on my screen, what do you want to say?

Firstly, they want to say that you should never let other people’s negative opinions affect you. I have only ever written to inspire, to make people happy, to make them think. Sometimes I even write just for me, to capture a moment, a flurry of feelings that I want to set down to look back on at a later stage in my life. If someone takes offence at writing that is only there to inspire, then that is their problem. It should never ever stop you from continuing to write.

People are weird. Well, people are generally very awesome, but there are definitely some negative odd balls out there. Usually when people act like that, they have their own issues swarming around. Lately I’ve decided life is just too short to surround yourself with anyone who is less than lovely. There have been days where I’ve thought I would actually rather hang out with the characters in my book than be involved in the drama that can emanate around this city. That’s when I wish all my best friends lived in the same place, but alas that would be too good to be true, and so instead it will suffice to seek out the positive people. The people who want to talk about ideas instead of gossiping about others, the people who seek to make the world a better place instead of polluting it with their destructive, selfish habits. We can be friends!

The same applies for everything in life. If you are fortunate enough to be able to choose your job, your city or village or wherever you want to live, your partner, your friends, your food…choose carefully. Quit complaining and change something if you’re not happy and choose the life that best reflects who you are and find those people that make your heart squeal, your soul smile, your whole being relax. Ditch the life that makes you walk on eggshells, makes you wake up in the morning dreading your day. Live your best life and smile and be grateful everyday!




Print can be bought on Etsy here.