I write because…

I write because it is a way of sharing my experiences, of preserving them in some way so that they are never lost?

I write because it is a way of expressing myself, particularly those feelings that completely overcome me, that make me feel alive or are completely new. Those feelings that I can’t and don’t want to forget or maybe that I wish I could but yet I just can’t seem to let them go.

At times I have worried that by writing about and sharing these experiences I am somehow ‘exorcising’ them and that this means they may be lost forever – the feelings I experienced gone and banished from my emotional memory. While this may be a healthy process for moving on from negative experiences, there are some times that I enjoy remembering and as the feelings rush back, it makes me feel alive again and it’s almost as if I am there.

I write because it helps me to make sense of my experiences but in this process are my memories lost to the page? There are some experiences that I had such a strong urge to share and I carried them with me until I found the motivation to set up my blog. Once I had poured my encounters into my words, I found that I struggled to recollect them in the same way. I could no longer be transported back to the streets of Paris, I had forfeited my emotional memory in my bid to share my experiences.

I write because it helps me to make sense of my experiences but are some feelings better left a mystery? By writing I am choosing to clarify the situation, I must decide on the words to express my meaning but by doing this I run the risk of choosing the wrong word. Could this skew my memory and manipulate my experience into something that it was not? Are some experiences better left free to survive with their blurry edges, without being pinned down by words and redefined by the clarity of our current perception of our memory? Do we risk turning our experience into something different by attaching words that don’t belong? How much is the way we present our experiences influenced by what we believe will sound better to our audience?

I want to share my experiences but I don’t want to lose the feelings that these experiences gave me. I seek clarity and definition yet I don’t want to sacrifice the raw emotion or initial experience. This has made me slightly wary and has made me question what to share and what to nurture. Yet I had the desire to share and I do not doubt that I will feel this again. I really hope that my emotional memories survive regardless of this. I also hope that the two can exist synonymously.


 

This morning I went back and read my piece about Paris. I found myself reminded of so many aspects of the trip that I had ‘forgotten’ and now with a little effort, my emotional memory can also manage to muster up the feelings evoked while I was there.

Reading my first attempt at explaining why I write makes me realise that I have focussed quite heavily on the negative. I write because I want to share my experiences and thoughts – I do not see this as a bad thing – quite the opposite.

There is still a slight fear of ‘losing’ something to the page but when I think about it, I know that as time moves on and our lives continue, we can often lose sight of ideas that were once so clear. Memories can be misplaced, regardless of whether we have recorded them or not and in this sense, the writing can be a reminder.

I carried those memories so close to me, partly because I needed to and partly because I was waiting to share them. I have described them with as much loyalty to my perception as I could and looking back, I think this acts as a happy reminder.

New Inspiration: Once Each Day

Once Each Day is the new blog created by Pots of Tea.

This collaborative new space offers people the opportunity to share snippets inspired by their day. Embracing writing, sharing, inspiration and communication, Once Each Day truly encompasses what blogging is all about. Share one sentence about your day, become a contributor or remain anonymous and help to sew together this social collage.

As someone who appreciates thoroughness, I have tended to feel that my passing thoughts are not blog worthy, instead opting for more detailed and lengthy accounts. This is an idea that I have challenged in Reminder to myself but I have not completely managed to change my way of thinking.

I have embraced Once Each Day as a friendly nudge to share my thoughts more consistently and I am happy to find an outlet which encourages me to express my passing thoughts. I am looking forward to the challenge of posting a single daily sentence and to watching the blog develop with more contributions.

If you would like to submit a sentence anonymously, you can do so here or if you’d prefer to be recognised, please write here.

I look forward to hearing about your day!

 

 

Arriving in Australia – my first week in Oz!

On 26th September 2014, I finally took the plunge and booked my flights.

After toying with the idea for a few months and later realising that I wouldn’t be able to start volunteering abroad until the following year, I decided that I couldn’t bear to spend yet another winter in the cold. My friend Jess had suggested Australia and I had always liked the idea, plus my friend Emma was already out here and I only had a few years left to apply for the Working Holiday Visa.

I felt a rush of positivity and a surreal ‘out of body’ type experience after first booking – a moment of ‘I know I have done the right thing’… and then, I started to worry. It was my first long distance flight and my first venture into the experience of long term travel; I had gone from brief holidays in Spain and Portugal to a potential year across the other side of the world. Over the next coming weeks my thoughts and emotions were constantly dipping and rising between these two states, but the upside to making a relatively spur of the moment decision, was that I only had this suspense for 7 weeks – and they went quickly!

We landed in Sydney on 16th November to a slightly bleak looking sky and humid temperature. By the time we had made it out of the airport, it was raining! I had felt slightly ridiculous packing my umbrella, but I have come to learn that an umbrella is just as necessary here as it is back home in the UK! Luckily for us, the weather cleared up and the sun came out.

Determined to fight through the jetlag, we went for a wander down to Darling Harbour.

Jacarandas

Blue sky

Darling Harbour

Darling Harbour skies

After almost falling asleep in an internet café around 5pm, I decided it was time to give in. I bought some instant noodles for dinner on the way back to the hostel and eventually I found myself ready for bed. I slept straight through for twelve hours, until 8am the next morning. It was perfection.

The next day I awoke feeling completely refreshed; it seems that sleep was all I needed to completely re-raise my spirits!

We had a week of activities and accommodation booked through OzIntro. This meant that we immediately met a new group of people and had some awesome trips and tours all planned out for us. This was out of the ordinary for me as I am usually very wary of guided tours and package holidays, preferring to just book things myself and see what happens, but I had decided to give this a go.

Here are some of the highlights of the week for me:

Jet Boating

This sounds quite simple, and I guess it is, but it was so much more fun than I was expecting and the views from Sydney Harbour were stunning! As we headed away from the harbour’s edge, music blasting and the sun beating down, I felt so happy that I had taken this step and made these changes.

The man driving the boat seemed to enjoy himself as much as we did. His favourite trick was spinning the boat around whilst coming to a kind of ’emergency stop’. He also liked driving directly towards the markers and swerving out of the way at the last possible moment and he made sure that by the end of the ride, everyone had gotten absolutely drenched.

Surfing

Wow. Once again, I had no idea what to expect but I did not imagine quite how invigorating this would be. This was my first time and everything about it felt like an awkward novelty. Struggling to carry my surf board down to the ocean, first dragging it and then paddling it out to sea, before clambering onto it, slightly panicked and looking behind me, desperately trying to get the timing right to catch a wave, so that maybe, this time, I could actually make it standing! I felt like a child again, learning something completely new.

I lost count of the amount of times that I lost balance and fell smack into the water, swallowing salty sea and feeling a bit stupid. This really didn’t stop me though, nor anyone else. There is something about the feeling of being lifted and carried along by a force outside of your control, and not just by any force, but a force of nature. It is so unique, so uplifting, I guess this is what makes it so addictive.

By the time we had finished for the day, I was completely exhausted and ever so slightly downtrodden – I’d only managed to stay standing a couple of times and then returned to falling – but I felt as though I’d been cleansed from the inside out. It was like the feeling you get when you listen to live music; it just takes over your whole being, grabs hold of your guts and drives you somewhere else. I’d definitely like to try surfing again.

Coastal Walk

We were lucky that despite the initial rain at the airport, the rest of the week was more like the weather that you’d imagine: opulent blue skies and powerful sunshine. This suited our coastal walk from Bondi beach perfectly. It was so beautiful, pure and magnificent; it just seemed to effortlessly fulfil all of my expectations.

Coastal Walk from Bondi

View

Open Sea

Walking

Blue Mountains

This was the day I had been most excited about: hiking amongst the beautiful nature of the Blue Mountains.

Our Australian guide struck a balance between being relaxed and enthusiastic, so I immediately took a liking to him and felt at ease. Throughout the day, he liked to point out when we might see kangaroos, spiders and the elusive Lyrebird. We didn’t manage to see any on this trip but we did hear a recording of these unusual birds. You might have heard this before, but if you haven’t, you should give it a listen. It never fails to astound me.

Blue Mountains

Three Sisters

Blue Mountains

The weekend brought a bit of time to ourselves and then a night out and a meal in the Sydney Tower.

View from Sydney Tower

Overall, I would say I am happy that I chose to book this. Apart from helping with practical tasks, such as setting up an Australian bank account, it also encouraged me to try activities like surfing, which I might never have done otherwise – or at least not in my first week anyway!

However, it is good to remain switched on and to remember that some things are best organised by yourself. If you are thinking of booking something like this, I would advise looking at all of the possibilities and costs. If you can’t afford to book through a company or just fancy ‘going it alone’, there are plenty of hostels who offer free tours and events and you are always going to meet lots of new people in hostels anyway!

I still think this was a pretty fun way to spend my first week though.

Surfing

Surf photo taken by Jess Pobjoy

From then to now

Ten months ago I was aware that I hadn’t been on holiday for almost three years. Now in the grand scheme of things that really doesn’t sound like a big deal, but in my mind, there were so many places that I hadn’t seen and since the age of about 14 I had known that I wanted to travel. What had I been doing all this time? I’m sure it was some kind of bordering 30 crisis but I started to get this creeping feeling that time was running out!

Sounds dramatic, but I think this was the added push that I needed as I then began to get the distinct feeling that it was ‘now or never’. This was enforced by the fact that many ‘working holiday’ experiences and visas are allocated to 18-30 year olds only, so in this sense, it really was now or never!

I decided to re-apply for European Voluntary Service, which I had looked at doing previously but had managed to hold myself back from. This is a really positive scheme, whereby 90% of your travel costs and all of your accommodation, food and basic ‘pocket money’ are covered, in return for you offering to work voluntarily with a participating organisation. The work can cover many areas, including Conservation, Arts, Health and Social Work. For anyone who is interested in doing this, you will need to find a sending organisation, who will assist you. I registered with Concordia and it is completely free of cost.

It was also around this time that my friend Jess came back from Canada. Jess had been in Canada for a year and the desire to travel had definitely been confirmed for her. We happily started planning a trip to Paris and for me this marked the beginning of a new chapter: one where I began to turn thoughts into actions, and one in which I now find myself on the other side of the world.