Three years and seven months ago, I quit my job, sold (nearly) everything I owned, left my home in the UK with a small backpack, a decent amount of savings, a one-way ticket to Bangkok and some pretty huge dreams.
It was a huge turning point in my life and one that I’ll remember with fondness for all of my days.
Since that point so much has happened and so many of my big dreams and goals have been realised.
Living my dream
I travelled solo around Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.
I volunteered at an animal sanctuary on the tropical island of Koh Lanta
I learned to scuba dive.
I spent time at a beautiful Krishnamurti retreat to explore and deepen my own spiritual understanding and pay homage to the memory of my late Uncle who talked a lot about the teachings of Krishnamurti while he was alive.
I completed a one month yoga immersion, learned about the teachings of tantra and completed an 11-day detox on the beautiful tropical island of Koh Phangan.
I met the man of my dreams while sitting in a cafe, became the closest of friends and after a year of friendship, finally became a couple.
I completed a 9-day silent meditation retreat and found a new sense of inner peace.
I left Thailand with my boyfriend to embark on a new adventure and after travelling through Columbia, spent a year living rent-free and off the grid on the Caribbean coast of Mexico.
I embarked on and survived a 6-month coaching apprenticeship with this incredible man.
Within 6 months, I went from earning nothing as a coach to building a business that saw me earning my first $4,500 in a single month, doing work that lights me up.
And more recently just over 5 weeks ago, I moved to Spain (fulfilling a life-long dream), packed away my back-pack (for the foreseeable) and moved into a beautiful, sunny apartment in the historical centre of Valencia with my beau.
Sounds pretty perfect right? My very own Eat, Pray, Love story if you like.
If you’ve followed my journey on social media you may have even witnessed the realising of these dreams in real-time as I’ve shared them through photos and status updates.
But here’s the thing, you don’t know the half of it.
Well to be more accurate that’s precisely what you do know – one half of my whole story.
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows
I’m aware that my story sounds pretty sweet and as I myself sat and reviewed the highlights of the last three and half years, it was in some ways easy to forget the tears, the struggle, the fear and the leaps of faith it took to get where I am today but then I realised how important all of that has been.
The crushing loneliness that enveloped me for several months, when I first left the UK and said goodbye to everything and everyone I knew.
The devastation I felt at losing my beloved Uncle, who died 9 months after I left the UK and the guilt I felt at not having replied to his last few text messages with more speed or more love.
The dramatic hair loss I experienced (according to the Doctor possibly due to a combination of bereavement, rapid weight loss from the detoxing and the contraction of the Noro Virus on my trip back to the UK).
The four and half years of being single, punctuated with frequent bouts of wondering if it was my destiny to die alone surrounded by cats.
The painful longing I experienced for a whole year while, not so secretly, crushing on my closest guy friend (much to what seemed his complete indifference), before we finally got it together.
The heartbreak and guilt I felt when my rescue puppy Charlie was killed on the road after I threw her out of the house for chewing up some of my clothes.
The tears I cried when leaving Thailand and all my newly found, wonderful friends to enter once again the darkness of the unknown.
My uncomfortable transition to life in Mexico, as I scratched my skin raw from mosquito bites, squared up to numerous scorpions and dealt with power cuts and cold water showers.
The tears I cried when I was diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease in the form of Ulcerative Colitis and read online that my condition was both chronic and incurable.
The ongoing and semi-regular bouts of sickness and fatigue I experience with this condition and the self-pity that accompanies that.
Dealing with stifling tropical heat as I holed myself up in our bedroom to have much-needed privacy and quiet for my coaching calls.
The chronic eczema I suffer on my feet, which gets worse with stress and (cue sad face) when I eat sugar.
The near constant frustration I felt over the past 12 months as I lived with painfully slow internet, at times making the whole idea of running an online coaching business from the fringes of a tropical jungle, seem totally ludicrous (rather than exciting and adventurous as it probably seemed from the outside).
The sadness I felt when we came home one day to find that our beautiful, gentle, Sasha (one of the dogs in our care) had died.
The sleepless nights I had from the stress and overwhelm of building my own business and needing to face my fears and overcome my insecurities in the process.
The hours and hours and hours of study and practice I’ve put into building my skills as a coach.
The mistakes made, including the $5000 I invested in a coaching course only to discover on the first day of it that the style of coaching being taught was not a fit with mine and that a no refund policy was built into the contract I had signed.
The financial anxieties I’ve battled as my savings dried up and my credit card debts soared after making the decision to invest heavily in a coaching apprenticeship and at the same time give up my paid online work so that I could focus all of my time and energy on building my business.
I could go on but I think you get the idea. As you can hopefully now see there is much more to my story than initially meets the eye.
I myself, can’t quite believe how much has happened over the past few years or how drastically my life has changed. It has, at times, been emotional, intense and terrifying and at other times wildly joyful and deeply peaceful.
And the moral of the story as I see it?
life is full of both highs and lows.
Life is multi-faceted and always, always contains both sadness and joy. There is absolutely no escaping that fact and you know what? That’s actually okay.
What I’ve come to see over the past few years is the futility of trying to eradicate pain and suffering from my life. I have also learned to welcome and accept both the highs and the lows into my life, as equally important and necessary parts of my journey. My life feels perfect to me because of both of these sides to the story.
There is the good and the bad, the great and the low, the just and the unjust. I swear to you that all that will never change. ~ Albert Camus
So next time you feel yourself getting sucked into social media and comparing yourself and your life negatively to the seemingly perfect, shiny lives of others, remember not to buy into the filtered perfection of it all, because you are never getting the full picture.
And this is not because we lie about our lives (although maybe there are those that do) but because we are predisposed to share with others the good bits and to hide the bad bits and I can totally see why. We don’t want to appear weak, needy or self-pitying so instead we share our joys and our victories and besides who thinks to take a selfie when they are crying into their pillow!?
The trick is to be grateful when your mood is high and graceful when it is low. ~ Richard Carlson
Combine this with the added tools of fancy filters and elaborate emoticons and painting a pretty yet unrealistic picture for others to see, becomes a fairly easy and perhaps even unavoidable thing to do. I’m here to tell you that life doesn’t have to run perfectly for you to fulfil your dreams, the lows as much as the highs can help you to get there.
I’m currently enrolling for my new 4-week Cultivating Connection Program. A program about connection – the connection to your core, the connection to others, and the connection to the greater tapestry of life. Because a live lived fully is a life of connection.