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Last Night I Dreamt I was a Refugee

“Last night I dreamt I was a refugee.” Michaelle Tauson, stepping into the imaginary shoes of those who have faced this perilous journey across ocean and those who may yet still. It doesn’t surprise me that Michaelle would dream this way. I am moved along with her, by the tragedy of our global refugee crisis.

3 Women 3 Journeys

Last night I dreamt I was a refugee.

I was offered an opportunity by a stranger, “leave with us or stay here and die. If you go with us, you may also die, but you may also make it to safety and have a future. If you stay here, there is no future. And if you die, at least you die trying to survive, here you are a victim.”

Making the decision was the hardest part. They said I could never come back if I got on the boat, they said there was no way back home. There was not even enough time to say goodbye; if I did not make it safely to shore, my family would never know what had become of me.

I was in love in my dream, and I knew I could never see my lover again, and it filled me with agony and distress…

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Being Understood – an Antidote to Fear

The gift of friendship!

3 Women 3 Journeys

A couple of months ago, I moved to Phnom Penh, Cambodia and felt again that great rush of excitement as any new chapter reveals itself. This excitement hasn’t dissipated – it’s been an incredible experience so far. But it’s also been accompanied by a sense of real isolation from friends and family.

I am living alone for the first time in about 6 years. My friends are constantly posting photos of their lives in places that are not Phnom Penh. And for the first time, I’m starting to see really big changes happening within my immediate family – new members are being ‘recruited’ or born, homes are changing and we are all ageing. It’s provoked in me some existential questionings – am I where I am supposed to be? Am I making the right life choices? Would I be better off abandoning my love of life abroad to return to my…

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27375 days on earth. But how to spend them?

I recently travelled to America to support KICK GAS, the film about our epic journey across the USA and also to reconnect Terry Hershner, one of the most bold, brilliant and admirable persons on the planet. I’m forever in awe of him. My life is richer for knowing him. Here’s my reflection on how he has touched me life.

3 Women 3 Journeys

“I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man [woman] is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.” – Jack London

IMG_0876I recently headed to the USA and came across this quote during my travels. I embraced it as a kind of guiding wisdom for two reasons. Firstly, I was stepping outside my comfort zone and entering the world of electric motorcycles in the hope of building a series of youtube clips about an incredible friend, Terry Hershner. Our journeys would involve dashing all over California on his motorcycle for a…

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Thoughts on Nomadic Friendship III

My thoughts on the idea of ‘nomadic friendship’ and how friendship can supersede romantic love.

3 Women 3 Journeys

I’m drinking a glass of wine. I’m in bed. I’m in Santa Cruz, California and I’m alone. I’m here for two months working on a film project. After this, it’s off to Spain for a wedding and then Bangkok to see friends. And after that? Not a clue. This really is, as Michaelle says, a nomadic existence and while the idea of living without a permanent address is not for everyone – my mother is a prime example – the experience of living a modern day nomadic lifestyle can also be extremely rewarding.

I’m the least perfect human on the planet and I certainly have my hang ups. But being a nomad has helped me let go of expectations I placed on myself long ago around how my life should be lived. It’s helped me to avoid strong attachment to physical things (everyteliki-tohahing I own fits in one suitcase), develop a…

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Thoughts on Nomadic Friendship

My dear friend Michaelle on the idea of nomadic friendship and the day we discovered each other in Charleston, South Carolina.

3 Women 3 Journeys

One of the most frustrating things in the world about your best friends living in 4 corners of the universe is that you never have any idea when you will see them again. With me in Bangkok working on my PhD research, Rachel in San Francisco working on a film, and Jennie in Africa working for a development organization, jet setting around the globe for a coffee and/or a glass of wine just seems a bit unrealistic. For this reason, most of our in-person interactions are not planned, but totally and completely random.

When I moved from Nepal to the UK in September 2012, I stopped by Bangkok on my way out and on my last day, I had a final coffee with Rachel. After coffee, both still hung over from my going away party the night before, Rachel and I walked towards the train platform to say our final…

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44 Days on a Scooter: What I Learnt About Happiness

In 2013, I travelled the length of the United States, from Charleston, South Carolina right through to San Francisco, California. Our journey has been made into a film, Kick Gas. Our ambition was to set four Guinness World Records for the longest distance ever travelled by four different types of electric vehicle (car, scooter, motorbike, bicycle). I’ve written about the journey here.

Six months later, I’m better able to reflect on what stepping outside our comfort zones can teach us. Here’s three lessons this journey has taught me about happiness.

  1. Happiness is being present in the moment. We might think we know this, but we don’t usually live this way. In fact, I’ve spent a lot of my time obsessing over becoming something better. It was always about earning more, getting thinner, looking better or jumping the professional ladder, all of which I thought would make me happier. But I was constantly anxious because this drew my attention away from the moment. When you are alone on a scooter for hours on end, you have a lot of time to be in ‘the moment’ — something we don’t usually allow ourselves to do. It was during these times that I felt most calm. I saw that the life within me was quiet and still and I felt completely fulfilled.
  2. Happiness is in living for others. I believe people are innately good and want to do good. Doing going, however, depends on how well we understand the needs of others so that we can meet those needs. But when do we ever sit down with another person, particularly somebody we don’t know well, just to listen? I think often about all the very different people I met along this journey and how different they were from each other. They each have a unique story worth sharing. For most people in this world, their stories go largely untold. I realised through this journey that I’d been rushing to make something of myself and tell a good story. But there were beautiful, enriching stories all around me. I just needed to stop and listen.
  3. Happiness is in living our individual truths. Before this journey, I had what on paper might appear like a fairly successful life. But I wasn’t happy. Success isn’t some easily determinable thing — it is and it should be different for everyone. I realised that in all I had achieved, I had been aspiring toward somebody else’s definition of success. It was easier to hide behind this, however, than brave a big scary world on my own. Heading off on the electric scooter represented what I felt I wasn’t actually brave enough to do in ‘real life’. But by standing up to this challenge, I gained the courage to start following my own individual truth.

There were lots of bumps and grazes as a result of this journey, but I’ve gained immensely in what I’ve learnt from this experience. My life is richer for the calm I feel and for the diversity of characters I now consider friends. And building meaningful connection with others is my truth.