Saturday, 17 September 2016

Creativity and Blogging

I read posts about once a week about blogging ruts, lack of inspiration, or just plain old writer’s block. It happens to all of us, I suppose – all of us who write or create or make. Sometimes, creativity runs out.

I think that in my case, it hasn’t so much run out, rather, it’s been used elsewhere. When faced with the choice between writing my blog or delving into other creative projects I’m working on, I’ve tended to choose the latter every time. As a result, I haven’t shown my blog much love of late.

Maybe I’m not in love with it anymore. I’ve written before about struggling to find my niche, about trying to stuff myself into a little “travel blogger” box that perhaps I don’t fit in. I’ve flirted with more abstract, lyrical pieces, which I always find more fun (and, tellingly, easier) to write than the traditional “10 things to do in X” fare. (At this point I’ll stress again I have no grudge against this type of content, I don’t mean to belittle or dismiss it. I both read and write it on other platforms). I am not a natural at sharing my life on the internet. Mainly because I’m an intensely private person – the whole thing kind of terrifies me. I wanted to write – just not necessarily about myself.

For this blog, a lot of things just don’t work for me. I can’t find the flow. I find myself falling in and out of styles like drifting between dreams, not really attached to any particular notion or idea.

So I’m yet again at a little bit of a crossroads when it comes to Bambi Jane Travel. Do I carry on as I have been – blogging halfheartedly and sporadically – or do give myself a kick up the bum and shake things up a bit?

The most crucial part of the whole puzzle, and the one I haven’t quite figured out yet, is how.  I know only two things; I want to keep writing this blog. I want to keep creating pieces I’m proud of. Exactly what form they’ll take… well.  That’s all up in the air.

As always, feel free to share your thoughts and suggestions below! 

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Sunrise on Kits Beach

In the cities and places you grew up in, it's hard to pinpoint the exact moment you fell in love with them. When you've lived somewhere for a long time, it's hard to put into the words the complicated feelings you have towards the place that's been the context for all of your good times, your triumphs and your revelations - as well as your bad times, failures and setbacks.

But when you move to a new city, these feelings, these ups and downs, become very apparent. You can pick them easily out of a crowd.

When we moved to Vancouver in March, the bustling avenues of Kitsilano, with their yoga studios and artisan coffee and boutiques, had me head over heels within a week. What a floozy I am. This is somewhere I can picture myself, I thought, breathing a sigh of relief after three months of non-stop travelling. This is the place. 

Then, when our air BnB rental ran out, we moved to Granville Street. Right into the heart of the optimistically named "entertainment district". I came down with a horrible flu and spent about four straight days in our hostel room, sweating even more than I should have been as the weather had snapped into an oppressive and hostile heat. I fell out of love with the city, just like that. I started to see its flaws and its not-so desirable aspects with fresh, cynical eyes. I tired of the drab architecture and the grey streets, the skyscrapers visible even on the beaches, the ridiculous price of... everything (I mean, ammi right?!) In short, I'd emerged out of the honeymoon phase. 

We embarked on our four-month trip around BC and I didn't think much about my love/hate relationship with Vancity (probably too busy milking goats). But it was in our plans to come back here, as we knew it would be the place we'd be most likely to find work. We still held a special place in our heart for Kits, and that was enough to see us sign a one-year lease for a (albeit, pretty perfect) apartment here in lower Kits a week ago.

We're now adjusting to our lives here, expanding and relaxing to fit the space. As our apartment becomes more and more decorated, we too become adorned with jobs, hobbies, people. Vancouver is becoming "home" again.

As part of Phil's new job, he sometimes starts as early as 6am in the morning. He left me mole-eyed and rumpled in bed one morning, and the changing light from outside the window caught my eye. The sky was a vivid violet, mixing itself into a variety of shades and moods as I watched. Pulling on an old pair of joggers and grabbing my camera, I was on the beach by 6:05. 

Apart from one runner, I was alone on the beach. If you've ever been to Kits Beach in the summer, you'll appreciate how much of an unexpected sight this was. Like Michael Buble rapping or something. Quiet. Serene. Waiting, for the rest of the world to wake up.

The sun was rising behind the proud buildings of downtown, and it cast the sea, mountains and omnipresent tankers in a pale pink glow, like everything was bathed in candy floss. Gulls soared overhead, moving languidly as if they knew they could, and ducks bobbed on the surface of the water. I waded out to sea, relishing the cool sensation on my legs. 

Ok, Vancouver, I thought to myself. You're winning me over again. 

The world became a warm orange to herald the arrival of the day, and I knew that soon the beach would once again be flooded with sunbathers, topless men throwing balls around, groups of kids drinking beer covertly out of thermos's. 

Just when I thought the sunset was over, those precious last few moments of dawn exploded jubilantly in one final hurrah. A splash of yellow, like a burst yolk, emerged over downtown and turned the sea a powder blue. 

I watched, quietly. Vancouver, I forgive you for your silly house prices. For your traffic and for your rain. For your grey architecture and all of your stark "city-ness". Because when you look out at the sunrise like that, you realise that when it comes down to it, Vancouver isn't a city at all. It's just the place where the land reaches out a hand to meet the sea, as it always has done. We're just lucky enough to call it home. 


Tuesday, 9 August 2016

I missed you, Vancity

As the ferry pulled into Tsawwassen, I felt my body noticeably relax. Vancouver. Finally.

Over the course of the last three months, I have:

- Plucked a chicken
- Milked a goat
- Pulled out trees by hand
- Dug vegetable beds 
- Foraged in the forest for medicinal herbs
- Sold blueberries from a tractor by the side of the road
- Washed thousands of garlic heads by hand
- Become a surrogate mother to 8 puppies
- Cut myself to ribbons picking raspberries and blackberries
- Weeded the hell out of gardens all over BC

Yep, our summer-long tour of volunteering on organic farms around BC is over. Back in the city, I feel ready to put down some roots and embrace all of those city-living perks I took for granted and only came to appreciate once wrestling with non-existent wifi in the middle of nowhere (midnight sushi anyone?) 

And, the pain of apartment-hunting aside, I can't wait to settle down here. I missed you, Vancity!

I'll be writing up all of our weird and wonderful wwoofing experiences over the coming weeks, so stay tuned! 

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Turning 26

26 is a funny old age, don’t you think? Not quite as momentous as the quarter-life crisis-inducing 25. Nearer to 30 than 20. A bit adrift in the tumultuous sea of the “mid-20’s” age bracket.

Half of your friends have babies and houses, set for life - the others are living in cramped London flat shares and spending their wages on overpriced wine in heaving city bars. Where exactly in your life are you supposed to be at 26?

Personally, I’ll be in Jasper, Alberta, Canada. On some kind of mountain. In a tent. Preferably armed with hefty supplies of chocolate and wine.

Truthfully, my life feels a bit suspended at the moment. I’m moving neither forwards nor backwards. Physically, of course, I am – making my way across British Columbia, working in lodges and farms and camping along the way. Before we hit 2017, I’ll have explored Alberta, returned to BC, driven down to Texas. Flown home to the UK for Christmas via Singapore. Yep, in terms of my geographic location, I’m moving a lot. But in the other sense? The big, emotional, life progress kind of movement? I’m static, like someone pressed pause on a song between beats. I’m somewhere in between the homemakers and living-for-the-weekenders, while simultaneously having not much in common with either party. It’s a strange place, this undulating flux, this impatient pocket of time.

But that’s not to say I’m not enjoying it all immensely. The past year has been so rich with experiences and new things and places, that for lack of a better expression, I’ve really grown. I know a bit more about myself as a person, I’m a bit more comfortable in my own skin, I feel enriched by the things I’ve seen and people I’ve met. I take a bit less crap, I beat myself up a bit less. I’m calmer. My mind’s more still.

It’s just that there’s something about birthdays, about counting and commemorating the years, that brings the passing of time home. I can run around the world all I like, hiding in the wilderness and in tents and on mountains… but life still goes on, and I still get older.

I wanted to write a post about turning 26, but wasn’t really sure what would be remotely relevant to my blog or even that interesting to read. So I settled on rambling on for a bit, before writing a kind of stock-take on where I am right now, what I’ve learned. A manifesto of Right Now, if you will. I also had a think about some goals and hopes for next year, just for fun. Hopefully the result will be interesting –but I can’t promise anything!

26 things I would tell my younger self:

1.      Travelling somewhere – anywhere – will make you a more rounded, understanding and interesting person. It’s a big old world. Too big to sit still.
2.     Everyone has different opinions, and not one person is right 100% of the time. It’s important to take everything with a pinch of salt and form your own opinions.
3.      The sooner you start accepting yourself and stop beating yourself up for things you can’t change, the better. Your spatial awareness is terrible and you can be an antisocial bastard sometimes. And that’s ok.
4.      Comparison is the thief of joy. There is absolutely no point comparing yourself to others. You are you, they are them. Learn from them, be inspired by them, but comparing yourself in a negative way will only make you miserable.
5.      Coffee and music make every task easier.
6.      Whatever problem you have, someone in the world has felt the same. You’re never alone in anything.
7.      You have to be your own biggest fan. Treat yourself as you would a friend.
8.      If you’re ordering shots of tequila at the bar, go home.
9.       You can’t ever control what someone thinks of you. So don’t worry about it. At the end of the day, it’s actually none of your business.
10.   It’s important to do things to make yourself proud.
11.   Watch lots of sad films. The soppier the better. You know you love them. Get those cathartic tears out!
12.   You can learn something from every person you meet.
13.   You can do hard things. And next time you try, it will be so much easier.
14.   Nerves are a sign that you’re about to do something really, really brave.
15.   Stop thinking about last week. Stop thinking about next week. Living in the moment is hard but it will make you happier than you thought you could be.
16.   Make more space for yourself in the world. Be the main character in your story, and stop apologising.
17.   Saying that, you should let more people in. What’s the worst that can happen?
18.   Don’t get a fringe. Just… don’t.
19.   Push yourself. Challenge yourself. It’s always worth it.
20.   Pay more attention, ask more questions.
21.   Nothing lasts forever. Take from every experience as much as you can.
22.   Lay off the eyeliner. And the orange foundation. Just step away from the makeup bag.
23.   Write more.
24.   Nothing beats being genuine and honest. It’s way more important than pleasing everyone.
25.   Some people suffer quietly. Be there for them.
26.   The best is yet to come.

26 goals for being 26

1.       Run a 10k in under an hour.
2.       Get a piece published in print.
3.       Learn more French.
4.       Volunteer.
5.       Write at least 10k words of a novel.
6.       Read more.
7.       Pass my driving test (finally).
8.       Get on top of life admin – things like pensions and financial goals are kinda important.
9.       Try to get the hang of this meditation business.
10.   Do a writing course.
11.   Do a course in something I know absolutely nothing about.
12.   Learn to cook 26 classic dishes perfectly.
13.   Find the ultimate fake tan.
14.   Put more energy and focus into this blog.
15.   Stop taking everything so seriously.
16.   Learn a few words of every new language I come across, and write it all down.
17.   Live life a bit more consciously.
18.   Grow my hair long again (I knew I’d want to do this as soon as I cut it. I never learn).
19.   Go to Alberta, Singapore, Iceland, home.
20.   Swim in as many oceans as possible.
21.   Go to a music festival.
22.   Write down three little goals every morning, and three positive things that happened at night.
23.   Try 26 foods I’ve never tried before.
24.   Write poetry (even if it’s rubbish).
25.   Do yoga at least twice a week.
26.   Laugh more.

What are your goals for right now? I’d love to know. 
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