On a cloudy, Melbourne afternoon in September 2018 I opened an email telling me that I was confirmed with a place at the Fitness & Business Academy in London where I would study for up to a month before being assigned to a ship. To catch up on some of my times at the Academy, click here to read one of the blogs.
I was excited but also full of terror as this was one of the times in my life where I had absolutely no idea what to expect! I read the email a few times over then did what any normal person would do – did a few “kangaroo” type jumps around the space in the lounge and around my laptop. “Oh my God I’m going to London!” I cried out.
All the grief and anger of the past year and a half dissipated momentarily as I saw light at the end of the tunnel – because of something I had chosen to do for myself and what can happen when you close your eyes, make a wish and jump over that cliff into a sea of beautiful possibility! (No pun intended ha ha).
Fast forward to packing time a few weeks later. I didn’t enjoy packing up my things in Melbourne – particularly fitting my life into one suitcase ready for life at sea! I gave so many clothes away to charity, then left a case with things like family photo albums with a good friend to look after it for me. Shedding layers of clothes and ‘things’ that I had amassed over the years was a form of cleansing for me. I remember one of my friends Jennifer helping me to try and sort through piles of things in absolute despair, whilst I was super confused as to what to keep and what not to!
I kept remembering all the events that had happened as I collected these “things”. And that’s what a lot of them where – just things! It was like peeling off layers I no longer needed in my life. I sat on the carpeted floor of the small place I shared with Grace (my then flatmate) after I had moved back to Melbourne from Albury after my separation from my husband..with all my clothes in piles around me. I looked around at the clothes – mangled, colourful pieces of material which looked like how I felt inside. I cried, celebrated and then cried again.
But I still hadn’t gotten the lesson fully. I still had much to learn as I embarked on my world travels.
After excelling at the Fitness & Business Academy, I was so grateful to be placed on a 5 star luxury “round the world” cruise ship. One of my favourite islands was Langkawi Island in Malaysia.
This island is magnificent. Docking there in the early hours was like being in a dream: the water was so still, with a few soft ripples and a sailboat hovered in the distance. I was so grateful to have the morning off work as we sailed in. My favourite part of getting anywhere was waking up in a different country! I hugged my soul with glee – my eyes couldn’t take in enough and my heart felt like it was about to burst as I looked around Langkawi.
Once Sheemalee, one of my ship friends and colleagues in the Health Spa and I disembarked – we took a bus ride into the shopping centre of Langkawi. The markets lined the streets, filled with local clothes and all sorts of trinkets. If you want to shop – Langkawi is the place! To say it’s cheap is an understatement.
As we walked around and looked at the shops with the backdrop of the island, I felt my soul hurrying me along to get to the beach. It was as though I had felt I needed to shop for the sake of it!
I saw a beautiful, handmade skirt which was local to Langkawi and got that. I knew that I could have this skirt for years and years, along with its cherished memories.
Then off to the beach we went! Walking onto the sand was like stepping onto a warm carpet. As my toes sunk into the warm sand, I felt like this was it – this was the definition of life as I knew it. As we walked past, trudging happily through the sand – the locals greeted us with such warmth and assuredness of who they were and the land that was part of them.
We found a shady spot under a tree, settled down and watched people relax and swim ahead of us. Gazing at the water, it was so still and clear. It’s like being in a picture. The water was warm and as I splashed around with another colleague Violetta – I felt my soul shift to another level.
When I sat down, I thought of how living from one suitcase was so amazing. I was in one of the best market shopping islands I had ever been to but I thought back to sitting on that carpeted floor in Melbourne, looking at all my things.
In the past I had used external things to feel better. Not only clothes, but fitness, bodybuilding, and modelling. And don’t get me wrong – I still love these activities, and will still do them – but there is now a different level of growth in my soul as I looked at some of my reasons for having done them. Doing them now feels different and more evolved.
So for fitness, I really am more aligned with helping my clients as a Holistic Health Coach i.e. looking at their physical goals, but also just as importantly working with them through their emotional and mental sides of the journey. In terms of modelling, I love telling mine and the photographer’s story to the person who looks at the photograph as opposed to focusing on how ‘pretty’ I might look. Through stories, we learn so much from each other as humans. We heal, we come alive through stories!
You don’t need ‘things’ or to look a certain way, to feel or be any better as a person. I had used material things as a way to cover up holes in my soul; to feel ‘worthy’ by looking good…to try and fill the holes from grieving my mother; an unhealthy, toxic marriage; grieving my dad and so on – somehow. What I learnt from the packing process and being on tranquil islands like Langkawi is that what matters is your soul and what you have as treasure inside of you. Things come and go, but your soul doesn’t.
Last Langkawi nuggets
This is the moment when I knew that I could live from that one case for a year! After all, I had modelled for 10 years; loved fashion and was always able to put outfits together for shoots and for myself. The idea of my book “How to live from one suitcase for a year” was borne whilst I sat on that beach, on top of a blue-patterned cotton wrap that used to be my mother’s.
You see my book is much more than about putting outfits together – it’s about learning to be minimalist, but also knowing that oftentimes we have exactly what we need around us if we will open our eyes to our abundant resources,that can come wrapped in simple packages.
As my heart overflowed with joy and peace, I smiled and looked out at the still Langkawi waters, with a few soft ripples.
Continue to walk with me in my journey round the world. See you in the next blog, in the next country woop!
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