Friday, August 12, 2011

Whole-some-ness turns Wicked for a while...

I've just returned home after 6 weeks of traveling around the UK with a side trip to Greece for a week. The objective of this trip was to catch up with friends and give my hands a bit of some much needed R&R as I've been working hard this year. Being a massage therapist is tough on the body and if I don't take time off I'll end up burning out or getting an RSI. So rather than think about how much money I lose if I stop working, I think about the experience I'll gain by getting out of my comfort zone and seeing the world!!

I still don't understand how people say, "How do you do it? I could NEVER afford to travel like you!" Anyone can do it. It comes down to priorities and of course how much you're willing to risk the life you have to experience a life you don't know exists. For most of us, the idea of walking away from our routine (or our jobs) is terrifying. Believe me, I know! I feel the fear and do it anyway. That's the rush!! I've done it so many times now that I've developed trust in the universe... trust in God... I trust that everything is going to be fine and the sky won't fall if I change my direction every once in a while. In fact, the sky expands and so does my mind. I've said it many times before - but traveling settles the restlessness in my soul and changes my perspective on life. I have to do it. It's as important as yoga.

Saying that, I didn't do any yoga on this trip - AT ALL. In fact I discovered a completely new side to myself! Being in the UK made me realize a few things...

#1. Once a shopping addict, always a shopping addict.

I really thought I had nipped this one in the bud... clearly not. In the 8 years I've lived in New Zealand, I have avoided massive shopping sprees. Once upon a time, shopping was my hobby. I was good at it. I knew where and when to find the best bargains and because I was shopping "smartly" I didn't ever see it as a problem. In an average week I could spend $500-600 on clothes, shoes, electronics and household items. I convinced myself that I needed these things. I was VERY generous, giving birthday gifts and baby gifts like it was my duty as a friend! I was earning good money at the time but I never had anything in the bank. Tut tut Tracy Pepper. Moving to New Zealand was the best thing I could've done. I got a LIFE and stopped shopping (and I had no money which helped). I no longer needed to fill the void of a meaningless existence on acquiring "stuff". I'm sorry friends, no more unnecessary prezzies for you! I'd rather give away massages or take you out for lunch. I hope that doesn't appear thoughtless.

But saying all that... I bought 9 pairs of shoes on this trip. Five of them are stilettos. But they were on sale. Cut a girl some slack.

2. I am not a disciplined Yogi... and I have a long way to go to get there!

I may do yoga every single day when I am in my comfortable routine here in Mount Maunganui and I eat healthily and drink modestly (probably less than modestly actually, perhaps one or two drinks a week on average). I live in yoga gear and wear sensible shoes. I sleep well and I really take care of my body. I really am the poster child for healthy living.... BUT... for 6 weeks I drank every day, ate unhealthy take-away food daily, wore stilettos and didn't do yoga once! Oh dear.

But you know, I had a GREAT time! It was fun letting loose and being a bit indulgent. I saw how the "other people" lived (and a glimpse of what my life might still be - if I lived in the "real world"). It made me realize just how boring constant discipline can be. Of course finding balance is key, which is why it's good to break free from routines every now and again.

While I was walking around London, wearing stilettos, looking for the perfect belt and necklace to go with my new shoes whilst eating a krispy creme donut, I caught a glimpse of my life in New Zealand from a fresh perspective. I really do live in this idyllic bubble - and I could see how unbelievable and almost "too perfect and too wholesome" it might look from the outside. It also made me really proud for creating this life for myself and have the ability to recognize how lucky I am to live this way. I choose to live healthily, with a dose of "wicked" every now and again for good measure.

#3. I have a lot of friends... like A LOT of them! And I'm making more and more of them as I get older.

I am not complaining here. In fact, I am damn proud to be able to say this with such conviction. There is no question that for whatever reason, I have this gift of being able to meet people and instantly connect to them. The older I get, the more I realize that this isn't the norm. I absolutely love people and I don't judge people based on their socioeconomic status, their skin colour, what they wear or where they live. For that reason, I'm completely open and I think people sense that about me (there are times when this isn't great - I've had to learn how to filter out the wackos, a skill I'm getting better at with age but occasionally one will slip through the filter). I can ride the train and smile at the person across from me and by the end of the journey we're exchanging info and promising to keep in touch - and I always do! I meet such interesting people this way and it has given me opportunities I wouldn't otherwise have had. Having so many friends allows me to travel to places I'd never see.

An example of this is Nina and James - a couple I met whilst on holiday in Greece. We played drinking games twice that week. By the end of the second night, they had invited me to stay with them in Nottingham and promised to be my tour guides. I took them up on their offer and a week later I was walking through Sherwood Forest with Nina while James cooked us the most delicious dinners. Honestly, seriously, how amazing is that? I am blessed beyond belief with the friendships I find. The only disadvantage is that I have a lot of people to keep in touch with and sometimes it's overwhelming.... especially when they all start having babies!!! I have to draw the line somewhere. There are times I feel like I'm a terrible friend because I can't keep track of everyone... but the true ones seem to like me anyway. Thanks guys. You all give me so much love and strength. I cherish you all!

In fact the main reason for this particular holiday was to spend some time with a very special friend. I met Naomi two years ago when she and her boyfriend Lee were looking for a place to settle for the last few months of their New Zealand tour. I was about to go away traveling for 4 months and was looking for someone to rent the house. They turned up three weeks before I was due to go (I had just about given up on finding anyone) and from the moment I met them, I knew they were meant to be. It was one of those instant connections I was talking about earlier - but this was stronger than most. You know how people talk about "love at first sight"? Well this was like that. And that feeling proved right. I know it might seem absolutely crazy and you might all think I'm insane for being so trusting - but what do you have if you can't trust your instincts? I left them in charge of everything and even put them on my car insurance and gave them the keys! I sit here now shaking my head in disbelief because I'm not crazy and I wouldn't just do that for anyone. There is something special about this "connection" and it goes deeper than just liking a person. I can't explain it completely but there is a soul connection here. If you believe in this sort of thing (or even if you don't) the whole purpose of life is to find this type of connection and when you find it, it's impossible to lose. It is one of the most comforting feelings because it's like coming home.

Even though 2 years have passed, time is endless. Our friendship is an odd one - there is a 13 year age gap - but that doesn't matter in the slightest. What we have is special and light and easy and free. All we do is laugh and laugh and laugh. I have to admit, hanging out with a 23 year old really made me put more of an effort into myself (she's gorgeous), which again wasn't a bad thing. I still look pretty damn good for a woman pushing 40 (okay in a few years... but I'm closer to 40 than I am to 30 - yikes!) but it's easy to get complacent and stop putting the effort in. I embraced the challenge! There was no way I was going to be an old lady! No way Jose! Nai recognizes me for who I am and she loves me. We have a lot in common which could explain why our bond is so strong. Regardless of why, it just is what it is and I hope it lasts an eternity. She is my family.

I had a great holiday. It was all about connection - to myself, to old friends and making new ones. Once again I was given a chance to appreciate my life and look forward to getting back into my "boring old routine" which I love and which makes me feel whole-some. But I've come back with a settled-ness in my soul, content in knowing that all I'm really missing out on is donuts, shopping and traffic jams.

Of course I also miss out on spending quality time with my overseas friends but as I said, true friendships don't need constant attention because of that "connection". Besides, in a world with facebook and skype, there's no need to be disconnected. When I'm lonesome, I can turn on my computer and there you all are. You're scattered around the globe anyway so no matter where I live, I'll always feel like I'm missing out on someone's life! So it's best that I live somewhere that makes me happy... and I can provide the ultimate holiday destination for any of you wanting a taste of paradise.

1 comment:

Julie Haines said...

Wonderful article Tracy!! You certainly have a gift in your writting! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this! ;)

Its awesome when we can have opportunities like this and then take the time after to reflect on our experiences! We definitely have to have a girls holiday somewhere one day! ;) xox