Friday, January 31, 2014

Love a REAL Nature Girl

I’m sorry, what was it that made Love a Nature Girl,   kind of all emotional and sort of pansy like compared to the whole love a nature guy,,  who was raw and sexy and in touch with the planet. I arrogantly consider myself a REAL nature girl and happen to think it’s soooo much more than granola, flowers, alters, words, sweetness and music.

Being a REAL nature girl means I’m brave and courageous and willing to put my skis on when it’s snowing like hell and no one else is out there, just because I believe in the possibility of afternoon sunshine, knowing I could be rewarded with empty slopes, pristine powder and heart stopping views.

Big waves? Hell yeah I’m scared but it’s what keeps me alive. No fins, no board, just me and the ocean and let’s see what happens If nature guy happens to be there, awesome, but if not I’m still surfing my heart out and coming out of the ocean feeling more alive than I’ve ever felt, skin tingling, hair crusted in salt, breath panting, with a grin as wide as my face.

Want to be alone? REAL nature girls have no problem with this. Un-phased by hours and hours of hiking alone in the mountains, silence, danger, steep cliffs, slippery paths, marmots, sheer ecstasy in being so at one with nature, so completely self sufficient. The power of independence keeps us psyched and feeling super sexy.  We don’t need you nature guy, but we do want you J

REAL nature girls do yoga. But not yoga with the masses, in the studios, same classes, same time every week. Our yoga is nature. When our friends call to see if we’re coming to the studio on a Sunday morning, we’ve already taken our mat down to the lake at sunrise and soaked up the first rays, letting the horizon feed our soul, drawing in the freshest of morning air, reaching our fingers and toes to the trees, the sky, the sun and the stars. And when we’ve practiced our heart out, we sit, we contemplate and we bask in the joy of life in this very moment.

So yes we like granola, flowers, alters, words, sweetness and music but here’s my shout out to REAL nature girls who’s priority is not just the emotional aspects of nature but the raw, crazy, scary, active life of someone who cannot live without the absolute connection to the elements. I cannot live a day without gazing at the sky, staring at the stars, breathing the atmosphere or running my hands through the earth whether it be snow, salt or sand. It is what makes me human, what keeps me alive and makes me the best version of me. If Nature Guy wants to share it with me then bring it on. I can’t promise I’ll always be your girlfriend but I promise I’ll always be your REAL nature girl.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Please f&%*k off whilst I follow my heart

The trouble with following you heart is that most people around you think it’s a great byline but a really bad idea.  I recently decided to change from a secure, interesting, challenging, high profile job in one of the most beautiful and cleanest cities on the planet to a short term one year assignment that I can do standing on my head in pollution infested Asia. 

Dear friends and colleagues, I love you all, admire many of you and even respect a select few.  I am however going to tell you and all the career advice you’ve given me to kindly and respectfully f&%*k off.

I truly don’t have the words to tell you all why this utterly mad choice seems like exactly the right decision for me.  If you ask me for my ‘business case’ for my decision, well, I fess up, I don’t have one.  In fact instead of writing that business case I’m going to tell you 10 reasons why you can all f&%*k off and once I’ve done that I’m going to go out there and follow my heart and live courageously and in total bliss with all the consequences of this mad decision.
  1. I’ve made madder decisions than this before and it’s always worked out.
  2. I’m the kinda girl who’s been known to leave town or change countries when I need to dump a guy. A new job  and a new city are a breeze.
  3. My parents drove around Australia with 3 kids under 6 in a bench seat Ford. I went to 6 different schools in 12 years.  This is normal in my family.
  4. Home gets old sometimes.  You have to leave it to come back to it to make it feel like home.
  5. My life is not your life, we want different things, you don’t understand it, get over it
  6. I don’t want to be comforable.  Comfortable makes me break out in a cold sweat and feel like someone’s choking me.  I want uncomfortable.  It makes me feel alive.
  7. I have a life plan, roughly, like in big brush strokes. Just trust me.
  8. Unfamiliarity, new people, new culture, new language, new food, new everything ? It’s the best excuse ever to embrace humanity. Call it a forced heart opener.
  9. My life is not something of the future.  It’s right here, right now and I will not wait any longer for my ‘best life’ to appear (thank you Oprah).
  10. Because doing this makes me feel like the best and truest version of myself and that feeling is unbeatable.

So whilst I tell you all to f&%*k off, I also offer up tremendous gratitude to you all.  Every doubt or question you have had about this path I will take has offered me clarity about this choice for which I am truly grateful.

And for those of you wondering if following your heart is really as good as the multitude of Facebook quotes and hippy websites say it is, well, the answer is yes.  Be brave, tell the rest of the world to f&%*k off and go out there and find out for yourself.

Friday, May 24, 2013

FROM GAZA WITH LOVE: A yoga film for humanitarians

WARNING:  This is a yoga film that is not about self-promotion. You’ll note the yogi looks like a normal person, has a weird accent and isn’t very flexible. We hope that inspires all of you to try out this film.

One of my dearest friends Nicola, who just happens to be a talented film-maker, and I just made our first yoga film especially for humanitarians. I realize this sounds impossibly cheesy given the plethora of yoga films out there on the market. It might sound even cheesier when I say this one really came from the heart – but  really it did and we had some incredible fun doing it. This film is a quick yoga fix made especially for our humanitarian friends and colleagues working in crazy war torn, earthquake-ridden places just ‘cause we want them to feel amazing.

The idea started about five years ago when I was working in Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territories, (note my politically correct humanitarian terminology there). Three things happened during that time; 1) Palestinians detained in Israeli prisons asked for yoga DVDs and we couldn’t find any in Arabic, 2) Israel implemented Operation Cast Lead in Gaza after Hamas fired one rocket too many into Israel, and 3) I meditated my way into sanity and out of the pit of despair that was that horrific war.

From this place I knew that I wanted to find a way in which I could share the incredible way yoga makes me feel with other people, especially people who have to live and work in the most difficult circumstances and places on this planet, whilst giving up a good part of their lives to serve others.

It’s been both a short and a long road from that moment five years ago to the launch of our first film this week. I had to decide to put on hold the idea of teaching yoga to victims of conflict, acknowledging that for now this is not my niche.  I feel like it took years of talking about making this film and in the end it only took us a few days work in our spare time. Along the way I did my 200 YTT so that I would actually know how to teach yoga and somehow today I find myself teaching yoga at the hippest studio in Geneva and working my day job in the humanitarian sector. It’s a cool combination. There were moments when I thought I could never make this film happen but most days I can’t believe how quickly I made this dream a reality. My PR pal Carolyn who kicked me up the ass about a month ago and my friend Katrin who was the one who led me down the yoga path during our time in Palestine, both deserve a huge thanks for sticking with me on this one.

And of course big up to Nicola who made this film with me after spending most of her days watching raw footage of children with pieces of their bodies blown off by mines, trying to find a way to tell their story with dignity and get our unique humanitarian message out there. I think for her filming yoga was a walk in the park and she has been an incredible creative light in this project. She first let me practice teaching yoga on her over the summer as I trained to become a teacher. She then introduced me to the joys of Yoga Glo and practicing covert yoga in the edit suite at work at lunch times. And then she got my ass into her back garden, onto a yoga mat and in front of her camera so she could film it. One of the best moments was watching her do the yoga sequence with me as she was filming.

We both agree that whilst we love being humanitarians in our day jobs, it has been a seriously fun and inspiring experience to make this film together, to focus on our colleagues and friends out there in the crappiest places on the planet and know that we can give something to them that might just make their lives a little easier. We know we want to do more. For now we’ll focus on supporting our humanitarian buddies and one day I hope that we can bring yoga to all the people who’s day to day lives are one big war.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

What I really want

Two of my dearest friends and I had the good fortune and pleasure to spend a weekend in the mountains together recently.  I have known them both for years but it was the first time they had met.  It was one of those too rare 48 hours where you find yourselves feeling utterly connected to nature, to the earth, to each other and where the conversation and wine flow and souls are bared.  One friend is just a few months back from a year's tour du monde with his family, a gap year for the three of them, his wife and daughter included.  Finally we had the time together to talk deeply of how they as a family found there way to this year together and of the treasured moments they found within it.

Most striking to me was how they decided and planned this gap year.  Decided on the back of a conversation about what they and their friends all really thought about various life issues, and planned by asking each other what do you really want?

What do you really want?  Boy did this question stick with me.  When was the last time I had asked myself that question and answered honestly?  I'm pretty good at asking but as soon as I go to reply the answer actually becomes 'this is what I think is possible' or 'this is what I think I should do for my career' or 'this is what my friends and family want'.  It's hard not to let our conditioning and society's pressures answer the question for us. What in my heart of hearts do I really want?  What does my soul long for?  What will satisfy the deep yearning inside of me?

I think the only way to answer this question is to do it spontaneously.  So here's what I really want in no particular order.

I want to sleep in for a month with no reason to get up, no place to be and nothing to do
I want to wake up every morning and gasp at the incredible and beautiful views that surround me
I want to ease my way into the day with long cups of Earl Grey, good books and quietness
I want to experiment with my yoga practice for hours at a time, falling, giggling, conquering
I want to feel space inside every part of my body and all around me
I want to fall deeply in love in a way that feels warm and secure and crazy and passionate all at once
I want to teach all kinds of yoga to all kinds of people and bask in the pleasure of practicing together
I want to watch the entire collection of StarWars movies back to back on a cold rainy day, snuggled on the most comfortable sofa in the world - and then the next day I want to do the same with all the Godfather films
I want to blog my heart out, putting it all out there in the hope that someone feels just the same
I want to cook beautiful fresh food and feed my body with so much prana it starts to glow
I want to listen every day to deep silence where all I can hear is the beat of own my heart and my long slow breathing
I want to ski so madly I can barely breath
I want to feel deeply deeply connected to everything and everyone around me
I want to feel breathless every day because I am so overwhelmed by what nature has to offer
I want to hike to such high remote places that I become terrified and exhilarated by the power of the mountains and mother nature
I want to love myself completely every single day

For so long I have not defined what I really want.  When I look at this list above it hardly seems impossible, in fact it almost seems as if the list is full of simple things.

They say good things come in threes.  We were three that weekend in the mountains, one with his tour du monde to stimulate the thinking, me to think it - what do I really want, and the third I'm still to mention.  As luck or the universe would have it, the third friend in that weekend medley is one who believes in possibility.  A belief that in fact means we do not know from second to second what is possible.  There are possibilities out there every day that we have not even thought of.  And so I write my list of what I really want with the conviction that anything and everything is possible and the belief that just because I do not know all the possibilities does not mean they could not happen.

And so as we all slide or slink into 2013, I make this my year of pleasure, prana and most importantly possibility.  And I choose to believe that all the things I really want will come true.  And I dare you, to write your own list of what you really want and to believe that it is all possible.  I mean seriously, how hard can it be to spend a day watching StarWars????

Sunday, June 10, 2012


Have you ever heard someone say ‘no judgement’, or ‘I’m not being judemental’, or ‘judgement free’ in a conversation where in fact what you are all actually doing is talking about how you feel about someone based on their actions?  Be honest in your answer now.  This is just a blog you are reading on a computer, you can say what you like and I won’t judge you – or will I?

Judgement is a word that has been on my mind a lot over the last few months, particularly because I undertook the first part of my training to become a yoga teacher.  The creation of a safe space for people to talk about their hopes, fear and dreams is crucial to the process of teaching people to be teachers and I found it fascinating as to how much we talked about judgement, of ourselves as wannabe teachers, of our bodies, of other people’s bodies and of our yoga abilities.  At some level it bothered me that one thing people kept saying was ‘I’m no judger’.  It made me wonder if that was really true of any of us.  Can we really walk through this life not having opinions of what we think of other people, and not making judgements.

It made me realize that I do it all the time.  In fact it is a constant part of my mind chatter as I walk down the street, go into work and interact with people on a daily basis.  In the most positive way it comes because I am fascinated by people and their lives and what has made them who they are today, but on the down side I realize that I usually draw the conclusions without knowing the facts.  I had even made some judgements of some of my yoga peeps which seriously made me question the type of person I am and who I want to be.  Oh my God I thought - I am the world’s worst judger – and even by saying that I am judging myself – aaagghhhhh – how do I get out of this cycle????

During one of the last days of our training we held a bonfire on the beach and into the fire we threw all the things we wanted to get rid of.  In went the shame, the fear, the old jobs, the self-hatred, the sadness and the failed relationships.  I didn’t think too hard about it and I flippantly threw judgement into the fire, not realizing how profound this act would be over the coming weeks.

There are two life-changing things that have happened since that bonfire night.  The first is a realization of the judgemental and ‘violent’ language I use against myself.  Every time I go to disparage myself in the name of humour or humility I am in fact judging myself. This must stop, for me and for all of us who do it.  You know how it goes, especially you women know how it goes.  Someone gives you a compliment and instead of saying thank you, you tell them how cheap your new dress is, or how your new hair do is just to cover up the grey or how the good job you did last week was luck.  You fail to do something perfectly and in your mind you are suddenly fret with the possibilities of being a terrible parent, or losing your job, or being dumped by your partner.  All of these things are judgement on ourselves, on us not being good enough or being ‘enough’.  We would be mortified to be judging someone else in this way and in these last weeks since the bonfire I have come to believe that treating ourselves in this way is an adage for how we then treat others.  The opposite is of course, understanding, compassion and respect, three qualities which would enable us and all those around us to lead much happier and more loving lives.

The second thing that has happened is that the stories I tell myself about people I see on the street, in the park and at work have changed their tone.  I noticed this first when I saw a very overweight woman on the street.  Instead of my usual judgemental thought of ‘wow, she doesn’t respect her body because she is so fat’, I found myself thinking, ‘I wonder what happened in her life, how could I know, why am I judging, maybe she is really ill, or abused and in fact I don’t know so just shut up monkey mind’.  After that thought a wave of compassion came over for me, for the woman, for myself, for humanity.  I never know what has happened in people’s lives unless they choose to tell me, so in fact there is no use at all for the moment that I spend wondering about and judging people.  I doubt I am going to stop people watching, nor stop being intrigued by people’s lives but I can certainly stop telling myself stories about them in my head.  Now I find myself compelled to bring compassion to those thoughts as well as acknowledgement that their story is their own and not mine to tell.

So please don’t read this and judge yourself for having had judgemental thoughts about yourself or other people.  Liberate yourself, start your own bonfire, (I suggest you use the kitchen sink or a BBQ if you don’t have a beach close by), and throw judgement into the flames.  Then find some space in your heart for compassion, understanding and love, first for yourself, and then let it spill over into all the other millions of interactions and relationships you have every day of your life.  And if it takes time for this to happen, just remember not to judge yourself along the way.  We are all already enough just as we are.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Creating 2012

So it's almost the end of the first month of 2012.  Australia day has already passed in a haze of no wuckers boomer, silly Aussie humour and pavlovas so before we move into 'the rest of the year' I thought I should take these last days of January to wish everyone an incredible and wonderful 2012.  And seriously, I hope it is a year of much peace, love, joy and happiness for all.  

New Year's Eve or Old Year's Night (however you want to see it) is my absolute favourite moment in the year.  It is my one annual opportunity to wipe the slate clean of whatever didn't work out from the year before and to dream and plan all kinds of amazing things for the coming year - what an opportunity!!!! It's one that fills me with silly excitement and huge anticipation and it's the perfect excuse to drink champagne with great friends and family.  

In our household we have named 2012 The Year of It All Being Easy.  Gone are the days of waiting to see what will happen to us over the next 12 months and waiting to see what luck or challenges befall us.  This year I am determined to create just the year I want.  So let's not create a difficult year but instead welcome in a year where everything is effortless and easy.

For those of you who know me well, you also know that I am a somewhat positive soul (I blame/thank my mother and the Pollyanna books), and so I truly believe that what I put out into this world will indeed come back to me.  Apparently Deepak Chopra thinks the same with his 'Law of Karma' so I'm in good company.

In the past I've written lists of things I want to attract into my life and created tables of goals and objectives and spent time wishing and wishing for fabulous things.  This year I'm taking a slightly different approach and leaving some space for fabulous stuff to just kind of wing its way to me.  I think officially it's called detachment but rather than give it a label and wonder yet again if I have or haven't 'achieved' detachment, I'm going to let it all go and just create a general vibe of coolness and relaxedness around me - that way there's no pressure :-)

All coolness aside I still do want to have an incredible 2012 so here are some words which describe my hopes and dreams for the coming year:

Breathing space

My theory is that if I say and think these words enough then I might just become them and however kooky that might seem it costs me nothing to try.  At this point I confess that I also have a secret list in my head of things I want to do this year but I refuse to write it down for now and instead just see what comes my way.  It all seems to be going well so far and the first 29 days of 2012 are indeed rather fabulous.  

So before this first month of the year ends and I feel no longer credible to wish you  a happy new year, I shall indeed send you all my best thoughts, energy and love in the hope that it brings you just the kind of 2012 you want.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Snow and stillness

This weekend I planned to get in a little skiing before the Christmas chalet ski week. There's definitely no shortage of snow, in fact there's so much snow that I find myself in Grimentz instead of Zinal due to road closures. Ok by me to enjoy this old and beautifully picturesque Swiss mountain village. So with the ski pistes closed because of avalanche risk I find myself snowed in and forced into relaxation - and I'm glad for it. But the question turning itself over in my mind is why do I need mother nature to force me into stillness? Surely I can choose to relax and be still every day of my life, so why don't I? Ultimately it's about giving myself permission to relax and do nothing without seeing it as a waste of time, worrying about a never ending list to be ticked off. This weekend the snow has brought with it more than avalanches and muted ancient village streets. The blizzards of Val d'Anniviers have given me a weekend of rest and reflection and the opportunity to permit myself some stillness and breathing space. I confess it feels pretty good.......but I still hope for a good ski day tomorrow :-)