I wish I could have shared the last week more fully with you. I wish I could have shown you everything truly through my eyes. I wish you could have felt exactly what I've been feeling.
Because what I've been feeling is just so much goodness.
In the last week, I've discovered a coffee shop in my hometown (15 minutes on the train from where my parents live and where I'm currently staying) which has plug sockets; amazing coffee; quiet, unobtrusive music and friendly staff.
I've found a self defence class to go to - something I struggled to find locally to me in London.
I've located a crossfit gym in town too - something I've been meaning to try.
I've located a world class martial arts and kickboxing centre so I can continue the training I started and fell in love with just before leaving London.
I've found a climbing wall at the university - something else I've been wanting to try.
I've spent the mornings and evenings down by the sea, where I've watched the sun set over the muddy sands, the birds bow their heads in search of treats, rabbits and hares diving into the ferns all around and listening to a silence so complete I can hear the flap of a bird's wings. It's unbelievably peaceful and if ever there were a thin place, this is it for me.
I've found joy and friendliness in every single person I've interacted with - from people I pass on the streets, to the bus driver, to the train conductors to really just everyone around me.
I've arranged to meet with old friends from primary school.
And this afternoon I collected my bike from the repair shop and cycled the 10 miles to town along the canal, traffic free and in the sunshine.
It's like everything I'd been looking for was right back in the very place I longed to leave for such a long time. The place I couldn't wait to escape growing up.
It's not all perfect. There are a couple of things I need to change to make this experience even better. But it's safe to say I'm finding my groove here and strangely, I'm wondering whether I want to go off and travel at all. Only time will tell.
But the thing I want to remind you of today isn't how good I'm currently finding things (trust me, amongst all that I'm grateful for right now there are some big, BIG questions showing up too) but how I got here - a little closer to the things that bring me joy.
You might remember that this really all started back when I was in California in the summer of 2015, lying on my back in a swimming pool and promising myself to bring more of 'that' feeling into my life. That feeling of aliveness I felt in the outdoors, in nature, beneath a blue sky and really just having a life that gave me more opportunity to move.
That experience in California led me, several months later, to finally go through with the sale of my flat, something I'd been thinking about for a long time but hadn't quite managed to take the plunge. Selling property in London makes you, in many people's eyes, a bit of an idiot.
It was a decision I knew I wanted to make and yet the voices and fear around that decision were truly powerful.
What if it's the wrong decision?
What if I spend all the money from the sale and then it's all gone?
What if I don't find anywhere else I want to live?
What if I miss London?
What if, what if, what if?
And the pressure from others was pretty big too and my trust in myself and what I knew was true for me wasn't always easy to maintain.
But in the end I did what I knew was right. And once I'd made the decision I felt a great sense of lightness. Although I had no idea what was coming next in my life, I knew this was the right decision.
Your dreams and your joy are a decision away.
A decision to leave your job and have faith in the journey.
A decision to book a trip somewhere you've always wanted to go.
A decision to let something go, despite the fear of doing so.
A decision to try something new. Something that scares you.
A decision to ask that person that thing you've been wanting to ask.
Sometimes I think I have it so easy and I must come across as some privileged spoiled white girl who's barely had to do anything to create a life she truly wants. But then I remind myself of all the tough decisions I've had to make to get here. I remind myself of the faith and the courage I've had to find in moments of deep struggle.
Everything you want IS available to you, but not without first trust and faith and courage. Not without jumping before you know where you'll land. Not without sacrifice. Not without uncertainty and risk.
I've just never found that it all comes to you in big balls of clarity and certainty. Rather it comes to you in a muddle and a mess of exploration. It comes to you while you're mid jump, hurtling towards the ground and wondering if something (or someone) will save you before you hit the concrete.
You'll also go wrong. Not everything will work out. There'll be times when you DO actually hit the concrete. Like when my relationship with Keijiro didn't (hasn't) worked out the way we both hoped and expected. There was a big concrete moment for me at the end of 2015. It hurt, as hitting concrete always does.
And yet here I find myself now grateful for all that's happened between us. Not least because if it weren't for that trip, I may not actually be where I am right now.
I think you always know when a decision needs making. Sometimes it's not the time for decisions. Sometimes it's the time to just wait and see and let the story unfold for a while. But other times a decision needs to be made. You need to actively DO something.
And that decision may be scary as hell. Truly it may feel like the hardest thing you've ever had to do. But once it's done, it's done. And in making the decision, you open the way for something or someone new to come into your life.
You can't create your ultimate dream life without risk or without, at some point, letting go of the safety net and plunging into the unknown. It's the entry price for your dreams. The universe says, "I'll give you EVERYTHING you want, but only when you show me you really mean business."
Do you mean business? And are you ready to prove it?
Love and courage,