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…

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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?

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Photo by Anthony Pontillas

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.

Love,

Luna

Anticipation

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.

The Singaporean Sailor

With a flick of his slick-backed hair, he chuckled, salt air seeping in through the open window. What a find; it’s not everyday that he gets the chance to take a jaunt down memory lane, but what a fine day for such a trip. If he squinted slightly, the magnificent Marina Bay Sands disappeared from view and the gigantic flower sculptures became a fuzzy squiggle on the horizon. It might as well have been 1968. He turned the radio up high and let the sweet melodies of nostalgia wash over him.

He remembered her long locks and the way she’d twist and twirl one strand over and over again as he watched her from the docks. She knew he was watching her. She wanted to unravel the rest of her hair and run straight towards him, but she couldn’t. Her husband was on constant watch from his office and this terrified her. She would have to wait until Thursday again. On Thursdays her husband would be gone from the first bird-song until the market closed. And coincidentally, her Sailor arrived with those birds.

Every Thursday she awoke when the moon was still shimmering high, and slipped out of the sheets before her husband ceased his nightly snores. She would watch from their small patio as the sky slowly turned pink, becoming brighter and more vivid, mirroring her every heartbeat of excitement as morning crept closer. This moment of joy was always interrupted. She would hear her husband roll over, his arms hungrily outstretched, craving a quick fulfilment of her soft, delicate skin before his weekly morning on the tumultuous waves. She lay there forcing a smile, all the while holding her breath as the musky scent of too much beer emanated from his every pore. She would choose her rum-scented Sailor any day of the week.

She would choose his rum-smelling, sun-drenched coarse skin every day of the week if she could, but unfortunately Thursday was their only chance. For now. From the moment he left on Thursday at 12.26pm exactly, giving him just enough time to scarper down to the pier before the boat left, until his arrival at 7.04am the next Thursday morning, she would replay in her mind every single second of pure happiness they spent together. The way that every time she opened the door, he’d be standing there grinning, his hair windswept beyond belief from a week at sea, and always, without fail, he’d be holding a few stolen flowers from his four minute journey from the docks to her door. He never came empty-handed, but when he left he always took the flowers with him, tossing them back into their original flower patch. It was the sentiment that mattered, and anyway, the scent always lingered, a welcomed respite.

Their weekly rendezvous’s were of a simple, gentle nature. As soon as the flowers hit the floor (finding a vase and filling it with water was the last thing on her mind), they would let passion take over. They always cooked breakfast together after. Eggs from her garden and herbs from the many islands he visited during the week at sea. She drank her coffee black, with a spot of rum. This way, she could taste him for the rest of the day. Later, it became a daily ritual. Coffee with one teaspoon of sugar, one teaspoon of rum. She always chewed the mint leaves he brought her to avoid any questions from her husband at lunchtime. They longed to walk the streets together, climb the small mountain behind her house, even take a ride on his boat far out into the ocean. She dreamt of all the islands he visited, clinging onto his adventures.

During the long, cold winter days, they would light a fire and sit opposite each other sharing all their secret desires. She told him she wanted to run away with him. He laughed. He wanted it too. She loved the way his eyes disappeared almost completely every time he smiled or laughed. She thought about his family back in his land. Did he have a secret wife? Would she ever get to visit the mystical East? He would always catch her when she was deep in thought. She furrowed her brow and her lip quivered slightly. He’d pull her closer and serenade her with his deep voice, “Like a river flows surely to the sea, darling so it goes…”

“…some things are meant to be…”

He felt the old emotions sticking to him. He glanced in the mirror and took a good look at himself; all those years at sea, all these years driving a taxi, but it was still present. He smiled. He opened the door for his three passengers and welcomed them to Singapore; his home; his land. He turned the radio up even higher and continued to sing, “take my hand, take my whole life too…”

He sang to them the whole ride to the Botanical Gardens. He caught sight of his passengers’ eyes; they all shared that same thrill for life. Dropping them at the entrance gate, he picked up where he left off in the song and continued on his wistful way.

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Luna’s Letters

Cities can be pretty chaotic places. People come and go and sometimes it can be difficult to establish a real sense of community. I’m not entirely sure how long Hong Kong is going to be my temporary home but while I’m here I definitely want to make the most of it. Last week whilst discussing creative project ideas with my colleague, she told me about how when she lived in Vienna she would leave her old Lomo photos scattered around the city for strangers to find. I thought this was such a sweet idea and have decided to do something similar.

Luna’s letters is going to be my little project for the next month, right up until Christmas. I am writing one short letter a day, in both English and Chinese, and leaving them dotted around the city for a city-goer to pick up and hopefully in return, make them smile. I started it yesterday and left my first letter on the corner of Sun Street and Moon Street. Five minutes after I left it tucked under a candle on a table outside a closed cafe, it started to pour with rain! I sincerely hope my letter was sheltered enough to still be readable if anyone found it. I left a hashtag of ‘lunasletters’ at the bottom so that if someone finds it and wants to share it they can easily upload it to instagram.

I just want to remind people to stop and cherish the little things in life once in a while. Today I left my letter slipped under a bar of 99% cocoa Lindt chocolate. If Lindt lovers are anything like me, they’ll instantly pick up the letter and the chocolate and head straight for the till before popping home to read the letter, simultaneously delving into their sweet treat.

I’m probably being naive. My letters will probably get washed away or swept into the gutters by a street sweeper. I’m going to keep being optimistic though. Tomorrow I’m leaving one in Tai Hang- my new favourite area in the city, and then on Wednesday my roommate is going to leave one on the train back to China. Thursday I’m thinking the tram and Friday I’ll leave it at a concert I’m going to.

It’s kind of fun to imagine the people who might find my notes and maybe, just maybe, I can make one or two people feel a little bit excited by this mysterious bilingual letter they’re holding in their hands.

good morning you

wherever the wind blows her

She cycles until it hurts. She cycles into the wind, developing fierce new muscles with every strained pedal. She wants to take this self-induced challenge by the horns and succeed like never before.

As she pedals, contemplation and a sprinkling of unease shower her into slowing down. Her red dress blows flimsily in the unexpectedly, strong wind, and every time she tucks it back under her seat, she almost loses her balance.

The wind is carrying her in a direction, but she doesn’t know where.

She starts to feel embarrassed that she wore a dress to go cycling, a red dress. Old people stare at her. Their smiles seem to have been wiped away by the wind, a restrained, judgmental gaze lingers.

The wind begins to play games with her bell. This draws more attention to her as the tinkling drifts along with the wind to the fishermen on the riverbed.

Fishermen are not easy to distract, but she catches their eye and sees their hesitation to turn.

This wasn’t what she was hoping for. Before, she always felt so calm by the river. She could ride for days, gliding alongside the current, bending below rusting bridges and overdosing on downhill adrenaline.

Today, however, she feels exposed. Something feels different. Perhaps it’s just the wind. Perhaps it’s meddling with the energy of the waves. That’s it, she thought, the changing tides are to blame. Overheard, the giant, almost, full moon can’t hide beneath the hazy clouds, not this time.

But what if it’s her? What if her dress is slightly transparent, laying her bare to all the forces of nature and Her people?

She pedals faster, pulls her sunglasses lower. Her ears are filled with the rushing of the wind and she squints from the glare of the setting sun.

Up ahead, she catches sight of the familiar red bridge. She chooses the inner path hoping it will shade her from the wind and aid her in reaching home.

(Choosing paths is not her strong point.)

Yes, she is shaded-she was right about that. But, now she is also lost and the realisation dawns on her that this path is going to take her a lot longer to get home.

She pedals on, and on.

Surely it shouldn’t take this long?

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image- source

‘she’s got a way with words’ part 1- 緣分

oh chinese, sweet sweet chinese. yes, really! chinese is a beautiful language. hidden in those mysterious little characters are stories; meanings that are perfectly summed up in one little symbol. they’re intricate little gems of history that have transformed from pictographs to complicated little webs of strokes (which china simplified and ripped out the internal hearts of. no, literally…you can read an earlier post i wrote here on this very topic).

緣分…yuanfen, fate, a perfect meeting. translate it as you please. it’s quite the common phrase here in the east, and i like it!

a predestined affinity. fate, or chance that brings two (or more, i like two best) people together. an intertwining of two paths. and there is nothing you can do to prevent it, because in yuanfen it’s destined to happen. a force that binds two people together. a collision of hearts that may result in a beautiful love affair.

i think 機米 jimmy liao knows how it goes…

‘They’re both convinced that a sudden passion joined them.
Such certainty is beautiful, but uncertainty is more beautiful still.”

他們彼此深信,
是瞬間迸發的熱情讓他們相遇。
這樣的確定是美麗的,
但變幻無常,
更為美麗.

yuanfen. 緣分. fate. two hearts.

do you have any yuanfen stories? a tale of two hearts meeting and making a new adventure? it’s not something you can go looking for. it really does just pop out from nowhere when you’re least expecting it. embrace it in all it’s uncertainty, it’s what makes life exciting, right?

How can you love without a ‘heart’?

traditional Chinese character for LOVE- with a HEART.
simplified Chinese character for LOVE-NO HEART!!!!!

I was on the beach near Dulan, in Taiwan, when I started writing I love Taiwan, in Chinese, in the sand. My Taiwanese friend was like ‘NO, don’t write it in simplified, especially not the character for love; let me show you the traditional way of writing it.’ That’s when it dawned on me! In the simplified character for love, there is NO heart. NO HEART, PEOPLE!! When simplifying Chinese characters to help make as many people as possible literate on the mainland, what on EARTH were they thinking when they removed the ‘heart’ component from the character for love?! How can you love without a heart? Is this even possible? It gave me a lot to think about and I started wondering how many other characters out there have also had their main function just stolen from them?! Love without a heart? Nope, not going to happen. But this is why I love Chinese characters…so much analysis can be done with just one character. I’m going to start looking out for other characters with unique stories like the one for ‘love’. But seriously…it’s pretty fascinating hey!