Minor Freak Out #1

Once upon a time, when we were young and learning a proper command of our mother tongues, we were asked to write a sentence and practice emphasising each word differently…

I am going to Indonesia.

I am going to Indonesia.

I am going to Indonesia.

I am going to Indonesia.

I am going to Indonesia.

I think I might be in a mild state of shock. It’s actually happening. I can’t back out now. Green tap water, unpredictable electricity supply and high humidity here I come! Ready or not… For better, for worse…

Despite the sporadic bolts of terror, I can honestly say that nothing feels better than planning to take a step into the unknown. I don’t know if I’ll like Jakarta – I’ve never lived in a big city and just because I survived a similar climate in Uganda when I was 8 years old, it doesn’t mean I will be any good with coping with it now I’m an adult.

That said, the feeling of expanding horizons is nothing short of brilliant. I’m terrified but in a positive and exhilarating way. Really, the presence of fear probably means that have some sense knocking around in my skull; there are definitely things to be afraid of out there!


P.S. Window seats all the way, my friends! Booya!

P.P.S. I asked for a Hindu Vegetarian meal thinking it would be like Indian food. I then realised it probably meant that they wouldn’t use beef as an ingredient… Oh well, we shall see!


The Helpfulness of Ritual

Moving can be tough, even if you chose to it and mentally prepared yourself for it. Sometimes life is all over the place and there’s not much you can do to stop it. I feel like that at the moment. Like my life is one of those giant multicoloured parachutes that you get to play with at play group. It feels like a bunch of unchangeable external forces, here represented by a bunch of kids, has just come along, picked up the parachute and shaken it as fast as their little arms can go. They might even have got friction burn. Then, last night, I got to sit down, on a nice plushy rug, facing my bedroom window and meditate. Doesn’t sound like much of a big deal, but I felt like amidst all the super chaos, I had driven a stake into the ground and pinned a part of that rampant parachute down. I liked where I was; it felt familiar and I immediately felt a little less panicked and a little more secure. I used to meditate facing the window in my room back in Oxford and getting to bring that pattern of behaviour with me felt good. Don’t get me wrong. I love being home with my family after so long, but I had expected to be living in Oxford for a long time. This is the adjustment period, people, bear with me!

I was taught in my anthropology classes that ritual is often born out of want for security and order. I thought people were putting too much emphasis on the importance of rituals. I was deeply cynical when things like sweeping the floor were labelled up as “cleansing rituals”. To me, ritual was so strongly associated with the religious that it didn’t make sense. Now, I think I see it better. Rituals are habits that keep us in order in some way and I see now how more mundane rituals make a big difference to how grounded we feel. For some people, keeping the place clean makes them feel better. For me it helps to make tea.

I’m going to work on identifying the little things that make me feel better over the next few weeks. I think it will help when I hit the road! Comment and contribute – what’s your top calming ritual?

Ashes to Dust!

I have a lot of love for this photograph set by Olivier Valsecchi.


dust photography naked body art - chicquero - 10

I am Dust + Time of War by Olivier Valsecchi

(2009-2012) Inspired by Ovid’s definition of Chaos – a confused mass of liquid and fog, order and disorder, light and darkness – the “Dust” (2009) and “Time of War” (2012) series, part of the “I am dust” project, are about incarnation, resurrection, rebuild what was destroyed, struggling for life.
Olivier Valsecchi was born in Paris in 1979. Revealed to the public eye in 2010 by  DUST,  this series earned him the prestigious Hasselblad Masters Award two years later.
Incarnation remains the main theme in Valsecchi’s oeuvre. Thus he decided to dive into his DUST series once again, whilst adding a parameter to it:  a soul of their own. Deliberately choosing to set the second part of his “I AM DUST” saga in a former arms factory, this autobiographic project is on the theme of incarnation and Samsara. Whereas the first part illustrated…

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Choosing new tracks

I am currently pioneering what I’m going to refer to as “hot-sleeping”. Not as sexy as it sounds I’m afraid! Akin to the concept of hot-desking, where one finds oneself a new base on a regular basis; hot-sleeping sees the individual moving from place to place in order to find a place to rest one’s head. This week I have slept on my sister’s floor, in my sister’s bed and in the coming weeks will sleep in my old bed (now semi-belonging to my grandmother) and the sofa bed (once it returns from the upholsterer!).

Oxford and I have officially broken up for the time being. I got tired of fighting the minimum wage war and it got tired of fighting me. I’ve been scouting for jobs in London with no success. I love London but apparently London doesn’t love me quite so much. So, after sitting down and taking a long hard look at my life and myself, I re-applied for a teaching job I was offered in Indonesia a few months ago.

When I started my degree four years ago, it was because I wanted to study other cultures, create a dialogue with them and basically expand my own understanding of humanity as a whole. I always wanted to be a writer and work for someone like National Geographic; documenting the far corners of the world and their wonders. Somewhere along the line, I lost any sense of ambition. Possibly because I am one of those people who never took a gap year. I’ve been stuck to the education framework since before I can remember. It may sound mad, but I struggle with the fact that I am 22! It sounds weird when I say my age out loud in a way that suggests I never truly thought about what happened after being 21.

Our deepest dreams and desires never truly leave us, despite what we may do, or have done to us, to cover them up. They reside in our subconscious and influence which opportunities we take and how much effort we put into each one that we’re given. A lot of us get lost in the clamour of “what we should do” according to society/parents/friends. I know I’m one of those people. Perhaps all the recruiters that read my applications could simply tell that I knew I could thrive in the role but not as much as I could if I followed my actual intentions for my life.

The exciting news is that I received another offer of employment and I will soon be jetting off to the other side of the planet to teach English. I’ll also be getting into photography and travel blogging, whist maintaining some freelance writing work.

The upheaval in my life over the past few days really highlighted just how cosy I had become. I’ve never had such an extreme feeling of being afraid of leaving my comfort zone. It shocked me because I always intended to be adventurous and flexible. I’m pretty sure if I didn’t leave now, I would stay in Oxford until I was an old crone. So, I pulled the plug on my Oxford life and watched it disappear into an invisible drain. The white walls of my room slowly became exposed from the top down; books, pictures, ornaments, all vanishing into boxes and most going to charity or recycle. Half of my electronic existence disappeared into a black hole when I reset my iPad and sold it to my dad.

Life is stripping me back down to my basics and preparing me for somewhere new.