Wanderlust – Up North

Ocean like lakes, pine tree forests and a sunset that runs a deeper red than the bottom of my heart.

I never knew these beauties could all exist together in one place, let alone in Northern Michigan. Sure, as a 24 year old London town daydreamer, Australia, Thailand and the South coast of Italy were all on my bucket list but I had never even heard of the Great Lakes let alone wanted to visit them, at least not until an unexpected job opportunity arose back in the summer of 2012.

I was yet to find a place that offered a relaxed lifestyle but endless adventure, nature interspersed with such creativity, scorching hot summer days but cosy breezy nights, yet there I was, about to make the transition into that exact lifestyle without even knowing it. Although Traverse City is a hugely popular vacation hotspot for wealthy affluent Chicago town families during the summer, you are more likely to find yourself immersed in the spectacular scenery alongside the chilled, adventurous and free spirited locals instead.

If you have a pretty laid-back and sociable personality like myself, you’ll know London is way too fast paced and self centred for those kind of people. I never knew paddle boarding during your lunch break was even a thing or that walking through town bare feet could be considered socially acceptable. It didn’t take long for all the new age, bare bricked walled coffee shops to become my favourite hang out. I mean, I had coffee and wifi at home but what I didn’t have was matcha flavoured vegan gelato or like minded groups of people asking if I wanted to play pictionary with them.

The food is fast and cheap but flavoursome and fresh. From Thai to gourmet burgers, restaurants to street food trucks. It’s every young travellers dream. I spent several happily contented solo days in my hammock on the bay of Lake Michigan reading my book and made life-long memories barbecuing on the beach with friends, I experienced both the thrill of tubing on the lake and the peacefulness of whiling away some much needed free time trying to figure out what tattoo I’d get to remember this awesome place.

Being the hot headed, stubborn and overprotective taurus that I am, the calming night skies and soft illuminating moon always brings out the patient, stable and devoted side of me. The element of the earth grounds me and I have never before felt so settled and established like I did on Northern Michigan soil. The unpolluted night sky twinkles almost as brightly as the sun kissed lakes surface during the day. The shooting stars grant you countless wishes and the combination of cool winds and warm campfires settle all of your senses and prepare you for an unruffled sleep. Why book yourself into a 5 star hotel when you can book yourself into a 5 billion star hotel?

Traverse City was just the beginning, the adventures in Northern Michigan were endless. The National Parks and smaller lakes are voted some of the best in the world. And as for their cherries; well, you’ll just have to go and try those out for yourself. It isn’t the Cherry Capital of the world for nothing you know.

Bucket List or ‘F*ck it’ List

Bucket List or ‘F*ck it’ List

Life should be about doing what you want, when you want, how you want. Sadly the reality is we do what is expected of us, when required of us, in a way that is suggested to us. I’ve had notebooks for as long as I can remember full of bucket lists, wish lists and life plans. Some would say I was an individual who most certainly lived in fear of failure when the truth is I was in fear of living.

Living in the future filled me with anxiety, living with regrets from my past trapped me in cycles of depression. Living in the moment makes me feel alive. I learnt to exchange bucket lists with ‘f*ck it who cares’ lists and to do lists with ‘to done’ lists. My experiences become surprises and my actions became spontaneous.

Every new year I’d quote “that was my hardest year yet” until I came to realise, life is just hard in general. Nothing gets easier in time, we get stronger. I thought bucket lists filled my soul with hope and achievement, turns out all it did was create restlessness, expectations and pressures. Why do it to ourselves? Why dismiss everything we have achieved with a cross through the middle and highlight what we haven’t achieved by underlining it with bright colours.

How my bucket list of deluded socially conformed reality became my ‘f*ck it’ list of living in the present:

  1. BE AN INDEPENDENT WOMAN AND DONT GET MARRIED UNTIL IM 30 – Hilarious. Oh how God must have laughed. We don’t choose when we fall in love, we don’t know when fate will allow us to meet our soulmate, we don’t choose when we’re ready. We accept the love we feel we deserve. So if you’re in a good place right now, who knows whats around the corner?
  2. ALWAYS HAVE SAVINGS – Cleary when I wrote this I still lived at home with my parents with no financial cares in the world. When will we all realise we are merely specs of star dust from the Universe lent to this Earth for a short period of time expressing itself in human form. We can’t take our money with us but we can take our memories.
  3. MAKE LOTS OF FRIENDS AND BE LIKE BY EVERYONE – Okay, so this was never on a bucket list but it was something always on my mind. I’m a people pleaser. Well I was until I realised people pleasing made me miserable and that the friends who loved me for who I am are the only ones who matter. I stopped caring what others thought of me, I stopped trying to be what people expected and I became the open minded, free spirit I always hoped I’d be.
  4. TRAVEL THE WORLD – I will never stop travelling the world. I will never ‘finish’ travelling the world. Growing up each summer I was fortunate enough to see some beautiful parts of the world with my family, I then caught the travel bug at 14 when I travelled to Germany and spent two weeks on a British Army Royal Veterinary Corps base. Since then I’ve volunteered within a Zulu tribe and game reserve in South Africa, I’ve visited as many European Cities as I’ve had time too, sailed the Scottish shores, worked and lived in Northern America, camped in the Canadian wilderness, visited friends in Australia and been on some very spectacular holidays abroad and in the UK with my fiancé and children. Each trip has been at a different phase of my life with different people. Some I’ve known for years and others I literally met at the airport. I have so much more to experience but no bucket list will be telling me where I’m going next, only the wind.
  5. FIND HAPPINESS –  Happiness is an emotion. It’s not a destination. Life isn’t even a destination, it’s a journey. I find happiness in each and every day I wake up, sometimes its the smallest things but thats all I need.


Do what is right for you, not what is expected. An opinion is a belief, personal view or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty. We all perceive life differently, so follow your own perception. Your own heart. You must make the choice, to take the chance, if you want to make a change. So go find all those bucket lists and burn them. Create a ‘f*ck it and live for the now’ list. Elkhart Tolle believes most humans are never fully present in the now, because unconsciously they believe that the next moment must be more important than this one. But then we miss our whole lives, which is never not now. That was a revelation for me; to realise that your life is only ever right now. So f*ck it.


A girl not living but journeying to the moon.

Life is a Library – we are always changing.

Life is a Library – we are always changing.

Life is a library. We are not one subject, we are not one topic and we are more than just one chapter. Life isn’t just about the beginning and the end, it’s about all the in-between. The moon changes it’s phases, a snake sheds it’s skin and still yet this earth keeps turning. We are not who we were last year, we are not who we were last month, we are not who we were yesterday nor are we who we were five minutes ago. Change is scary, but change is important. There is no shame in change.

I’ve realised recently that guilt and shame are common emotions of my past actions, past behaviours and past choices, but the question is, does a past really define who we are today or does it merely sculpt us into who we are in this present moment. If I’m not feeling shameful or guilty for what I am doing right now, then I’m doing something right; right?

At this present moment in my life I am extremely happy, I am mindfully well and have an extremely positive outlook on life. This hasn’t always been the case though. In the past I have struggled with anger management, self inflicted emotional abuse, social anxiety and resentments. The struggle I find myself battling now is identity crisis; who am I? Am I truly who I am now or is the real me who I was then frantically treading water hoping not to sink back to old ways. I try not to be too hard on myself because life is imperfect, imperfections are flaws and flaws are to be accepted.

Social Learning Theory (Bandura 1977) suggests our attitudes are learned through imitation and modelling. We are influenced by our parents, our social circles and the culture we live amongst. This would mean change isn’t possible if our environment cannot be changed. Part of me strongly believes in this. A catalyst in my life was when I went travelling. I took off from my negative, stressful, urban lifestyle and exchanged it all for a positive, peaceful and rural living. It worked, I could finally reflect on my life from the outside looking in, instead of criticising it from the inside looking out. Unmedicated and extremely mentally ill at the time it’s the exact change I needed to get well and become a better version of myself. A journey from there was no doubt without it’s ups and downs but four years later, I’ve never looked back.

When things take a turn for the worst in life it’s very easy to lay the blame elsewhere. My parents are to blame, my school was to blame, my job at the time is to blame, my ex boyfriend was to blame but the reality is we didn’t accept the situation. We weren’t living we were existing. What will be will be and what was, well was. Taking on Carl Rogers humanistic approach of optimistic views of human beings, I do believe there is the capability of self actualisation in all of us. The penny dropped for me when I realised I needed an environment that offered genuineness, acceptance and empathy. If I didn’t have it where I was, it was time to journey and go and find it.

I always imagined my journey to be thousands of miles, across different countries and terrane. Physical mountains needed to be climbed because the mental mountain in my head couldn’t be. I was stuck on the same chapter over and over again. Doing the same thing and expecting a different result. Which by the way is the definition of insanity. Turns out my new environment that would allow me to change and to grow was just four minutes up the road with a man and two boys who I had no idea at the time were to become my husband and children. Like a lotus in muddy waters, I still grew.

I haven’t reached self actualisation just yet, but Im working on it. Im closer than I’ve ever been and the furthest away I’ll ever be. Change isn’t easy nor is it quick, but it is achievable. Anything is when you put your mind to it. Socrates once said “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

Life is a library. Everything is borrowed, but you get to keep all the memories.


A girl not living but journeying to the moon.