Sleeping in the sunshine, grass under bare feet, baby grand pianos, leaning into the wind, big sharp kitchen knives, bitter chocolate, sand between my toes, bear hugs, the liberation of having no money left anymore, fasting, losing myself watching sand glittering like a party or paparazzi, the smell of leaves after the rain, chasing thunderstorms, intense eye contact, jet pressure hot showers, miniature travel gear, floor beds, music that expands my sense of self beyond my body, kaleidoscopic dreams, backwards calligraphy, handstands, reverse candles, the deep silence that only nature has, chambers of resonance, buses with nearly horizontal beds, crying until I feel lightness, singing in public places, fresh green vegetables, the magic of a stranger’s kindness, nine to ten hours of sleep, lying in his arms as if nothing matters more than this present moment, baggy clothes, giant pantaloons, thick woolly socks, the shnug of my hiking boots and backpack’s hip/waist belt, hugs from behind, coconut oil, climbing things, dancing until I become an instrument of the music, summer festivals, giant rainbow salads, high power blenders, tea shops, going braless, the thrill mixed up with fear and immense gratitude of hitchhiking, being in a room full of young people from all countries, dancing Michael Jackson, breathing exercises and belly breathing, deep squats, leaving home with nothing but the keys and a phone, cycling to the end of the world, rolling down hills, holding someone while they bawl their eyes out in my arms, permaculture eco-villages, cute puppies, cold showers, jungle fruit, drinking three litres of water after waking up, holding hands, cooking Indian food for other people, sketching, painting, lighting candles, falling in love with men just for the way they dice onions and garlic, sitting down to talk with a stranger as if I have all the time in the world, wielding a sewing machine, being possessed while dancing, being distracted by rainbows everywhere, performing poetry, watching a contemporary dance so powerful that even my teeth become part of it, herbal toothpaste, tongue cleaners, flowing tops, salsa, a partner who leads so gracefully and subtly that I can just let go and let myself flow with their flow, throwing all caution to the winds and being vulnerable in front of someone, back massages, long spa baths, stories of galaxies, neutron stars and the universe, pianos in train stations, cycle culture, drinking tea before bed, drinking tea after waking, barley grass alkalizing green juices, him lying over me as we fall asleep, silks, hoops and circus arts, being all rugged up in winter, watching the clouds move past for hours, being clean, being so dirty I don’t care anymore, celebrating the gift of being alive, giving permission for others to let go, gratitude circles, the hair-raising power of performing the haka, boats heaving during lightning storms at sea, standing at the front of a motorboat as it cuts through the wind, him saying iloveyou first, papayas, mangos, pineapples, hairy green kiwifruit, watermelon, melon, honey melon, grapes, sharp lemons, ripe avocados, tomatoes, carrots, beetroot, spinach, KALE salads, flaxseed, sesame seeds, olive oil, basil, nutritional yeast, dukkah, my mother’s stunning garam masala, frying cumin, onions, garlic and ginger, coconut cream, black rice, wild rice, red rice, sprouted everything, chives, rosemary, thyme, l’ail des ours, hemp milk strawberry smoothies, the meditativeness of cooking, raw cacao, manuka honey, black/red quinoa, organic farmer’s markets, outdoor music, fast wi fi, building things, making things, compost, bicycle powered blenders, smiling at a stranger in the street and them smiling back, seeing old grannies on bicycles, getting letters from friends on the other side of the world, split leg rolls, somersaults on a trampoline, the five o’ clock shave, connecting beautiful people together, watching birds fly, a great artistic / experimental video, being free to do what I want when I want, facilitating WakeUps and workshops, having my faith in the power of humanity and this generation reaffirmed, accidentally inspiring friends, cooking in other people’s kitchens, skipping all the way home, deep male opera voices, sleeping in, freshly washed clothes, creating space for people to feel like ‘yes, I am enough, exactly as I am, here, right now,’ revolutionaries writing on street walls, graffiti art, shared public spaces, fairytale cottages, open source everything, green tea, autumn leaves, intense sunsets that make me wonder how it’s possible that such a heartbreakingly beautiful planet even exists and that I was born on it, sleeping on the edges of cliffs, taking off all my clothes on mountaintops and shouting, hurtling downhill through twisting gorges on a mountain bike, feeling small in the face of mountains and as if my problems just don’t matter anymore, giving heartfelt gifts, finding shells, guys who use Linux, walking for hours along a beach in the afternoons, being rescued by friends of friends from having to sleep on the streets, dimples, sitting around a campfire at night, hammocks, dragonflies, fireflies, the feeling of muscles having worked out, short shorts, colourful birds, talking about other worlds and dreams and spirits and spiritual journeys, that feeling when my heart folds in half when I hear his voice soften, sex without a condom, fucking open communication, vegan restaurants, being able to understand one person in three or more languages, being surprised, listening to my body, doing flash mobs, hearing a really great story, observing nature, the sound of the waves crashing into the shore, the way water moves, helping someone looking lost, wearing black and red in winter, walking slowly, four hands improvisation, travelling alone, systems of four to six bins in houses for waste, manifesting love, taking the path less travelled by, being able to connect with anyone regardless of their background or current position in society, apocaloptimists, old people with so much youthfulness in their soul, seeing into someone’s energy/soul first time, making it through customs without the alarms going off, inversion tables, food processors, raw vegan cheesecakes and brownies, smoking weed under the stars with friends, giant mugs, hot chocolate, wooden spatulas, the smell of newspaper, jasmine flowers in the night, being able to see the sky full of stars at night, icebreaker underwear, technical fabrics, graphite sketch pencils, dry brush, novels narrated from multiple perspectives, good characterization, laughing so hard my abs hurt for days afterwards, surround sound video experience, cottages with low ceilings, giant windows, shadow puppetry, midnight deep and meaningfuls in the kitchen with endless cups of tea and occasional snacks, playing empathy poker and the ‘unbearable lightness of being’ after understanding myself, separated cycle lanes, walking everywhere, moving for at least five hours every day, feeling powerful just by changing my back posture, pretty rivers, wildflowers, heartfelt interior design, minimalism, cosy cluttered-ness, parallax scrolling, sharing my daily life with friends – social bathing, morning walks up the mountain – receiving couchsurfers and discovering the city through their eyes, giving and receiving feedback and gratitude, walking into the forest without a map, a plan or a watch, forgetting what day of the week it is, potluck dinners at friends’ places, the open-door policy of the activist networks, panoramic photography, a really good drama film, coca tea, African rooibos tea, Egyptian rose tea, linden leaves, lemongrass tea, cold chocolate-chai, peppermint tea, chamomile tea, vanilla tea, roasted dandelion tea, yacon tea, mango tea, strawberry and mint tea, black pomegranate tea, rosehip tea, ginger-lemon-honey tea, basil tea, epicerie shops with a million spices, nosing around other people’s kitchen cabinets and bookshelves, when someone really makes an effort to take me to a vegan food place, gift me something vegan or goes out on limb and actually makes me something creative and artistic, spontaneous friends who will join me for any adventure anytime, bursting out laughing after a perfect orgasm, earth voices, fire-air voices, water voices, ghost metal, metal opera, piano music, massage music, artistic hip hop, his legs between mine as we dance lambada, lounging around in my pajamas all day, chasing after my dog or being chased by her for nothing more than the thrill of sprinting through the house or the grass together, sleeping on hot concrete or wooden benches outside, fedora hats, talking to shopkeepers, layering thermals, all natural/organic soap, powerful essential oils – cinnamon oil, rosehip oil, orange and nerouli oil, jasmine oil, eucalyptus oil, lavender oil, tea tree oil – organic biodynamic integrative farms, hanging mosquito nets, parsley-stuffing-cucumber-celery-silverbeet green juice, beetroot-carrot-ginger juice, wheatgrass juice, ladybugs, butterflies, giant fishes, listening to travel music with the car windows rolled down on a hot summer’s day, presencing until I’m out of my body, four-axial energy expansion, poppy seeds in carrot salads, listening to the farthest away sound I can hear, laughter yoga, partner yoga, trusting someone with my life, smiling into someone else’s smile so hard our faces hurt, letting things go, making art with people, painting protest signs, braiding hair, braiding bracelets, releasing anger through karate, slow stretching, big grassy spaces, origami, being welcomed with open arms by complete strangers, watching my shadow dance, triangles, circles, spiral designs, tattoos that read something upside down and right side up, indigenous men carving the path for us in the Amazon with a machete, eating on banana leaf plates, ziplock bags, being of service, rubber bands, orthomolecular medicine, plant-based and nutrient-based therapy, holistic health, unschools, democratic schools, great documentaries, jazz voices, inspirational quotes, playing badminton until I burst out laughing, the thought-less-ness of swimming lengths after lengths after lengths, giant communal bathing complexes, eating seaweed and algae, food dehydrators, glass jars, cooking in giant pots, food in buckets, old-fashioned baskets, gravity boots, hydraulic brakes and suspension so good I become one with the bike, riding without a helmet, being whelmed, cartwheels, dancing with red ribbons, geeking out over complex systems dynamics, reveling in the mystery of life, infinite games, playing silly children’s games with young adults, singing exercises, being playful, speaking like a child, taking a shower together, stopping breathing watching nature or art so great it makes everything stop in its tracks, learning music/scripts and then throwing them all out the window to perform straight from the heart, natural hot springs, ground ferns and tree ferns, sleeping like a rock, putting together an epic meal from haphazard ingredients, looking into the mirror in the morning and feeling like a goddess, mana wahine, spirit sisters, balancing male-female energies, when kids I’ve just met come up to me and hug me, being patient and giving space and seeing family and those I love magically find consciousness in their own way, Google maps (when it works), sex in nature, sharing life dreams with someone I may never meet again, sexy graphic design, listening to people talk like their soul is on fire without end, anything written in Helvetiva Neue Ultralight and Avenir Light fonts, acro-washing-machines, headsprings, the dice game, changing accents, being goofy with my little sister, waking up naturally without an alarm, flying foxes, foam pits, bars to hang upside down from, just listening to someone speak from the heart without feeling like I have to interrupt or say something or do something in particular, burning incense, iced tea, noodle-makers, anything by Jodi Picoult or Richard Siken, walking around my house butt naked, practicing split leaps and backward walkovers, clipping herbs, wahine with giant curls, korero, hearing that someone who I never thought to change is now inspiring others to join them in the journey, the first gulp of air after swimming half the length of the pool without breathing, front flips and back flips in the water, pushing off from the pool wall, him being lost in the smell of my hair/neck, if-you-really-knew-me-you-would-know, déjà vu dreams and dreams of the future, going around a circle hearing everyone’s life stories in full, games and play to convey complex concepts, truth mandalas, call-and-response songs, silent nature walks, deep ecology, seeing the value of change-makers’ work reaffirmed through the great turning, roasted almonds, roasted garlic, caramelized onions, tiramisu, macadamia nuts, pine nuts, juicy dates, food forests, harvesting food from vegetable patches, coconut water, coconut milk, shifting foci in dance performances, fluffy well-used towels, washing my face with ice cold water in the mornings, eating sitting down on the floor, eating out of teacup sized plates, eating slowly as if I have all the time in the world, raspberries, gooseberries, golden berries, blackberries, strawberries, a good bass line, R&B and soul voices, old European style bridges in river based cities, giving myself a head massage, cobblestone streets, Mediterranean balconies, riparian vegetation, light snowfall on my tongue, hearty vegetable soup with toasted bread in winter, the feeling of hot hands washing dishes, front and back layouts, my puppy excited to see me after just a few minutes of absence, nature allowed to run wild, people thanking me for the music while busking and stopping to chat, kids putting money in my hat, getting boots wet from river crossings and squelching gleefully and just not caring anymore and even relishing the cooling of my feet while walking, effervescence in the water, watching skateboarders and ice-dancers, deep caverns, blue skies, a good poop, hip flicks, rolling shoulders, having my back cracked, an über flat stomach, watching men’s back muscles ripple like animals, Goretex raincoats, drinking water out of a giant copper pot on a hot summer’s day, the way chickens move, making up new words, thug kitchen, scrunchie hair ties, lying down on the floor to do computer work, standing desks, second hand clothes shops, cherimoya, the empty haunting beat of hip hop music, necklaces that mean something, bracelets that mean something, a sharp jawline, planning a surprise, planning mischief, African girls who let their curls out, working so hard I can see the veins of my feet and hands, kissing his palm and then folding it up, a really great anti-philosophy book, being able to access my tears, the sharp mental focus of an empty stomach, word play, clean glasses, flying a starfish or a high bluebird or a high back arch without dying, running wildly and launching myself right into his arms, being spun around, spinning around, HD video with clean set, watching hot air balloons and fire jugglers, cubby holes, treasure boxes, Indian fabrics, wearing see-through tops, kaftan dresses, washing coriander and mint and cutting them and feeling the smell erupt, being snuggled up in a sleeping bag, monkey caps at night on mountains, alone time, friends who are always there for me no matter what, telling a story so powerful it moves me and the listeners to tears, him caring about every thought and every emotion that flits through my being and saying no, just say it, opening up head channels with circles, when friends clasp their hands in Namaste to say thank you, my heart beating into his heart until we synchronise, two-person forward rolls, tandem bicycles, double-decker bicycles, watching a kata so sharp it takes my breath away, throwing people and letting them hit the ground gently, being thrown and caught just in time from collision, being deeply aware of every part of my body and energy field, ludicrous vocal warm ups, my arms around his neck and his arms around my waist, magic shows, light curtains, painted ceilings, tables that still look like trees, stretch bands, feeling joy so much that I want to erupt out of my body, scent-scapes, clasping his hands in mine with fingers interlaced, noise-cancelling headphones, colourful clothes on a washing line, silhouettes, carob, lucuma, yacon, coconut sugar, grade b maple syrup, avocado oil, hemp seed fillings, stuffing capsicums, rock salt, volcanic salt, artisanal coconut and cacao butter, almond butter, fiords, big lakes, words like tarantella and currency, the ministry of awesome, people who say wow all the time, being free to swear, highlighters, colour coding my notes, post-it notes, Alan Watts videos, nostalgia, high lookout points, drawstring bags, cloth shoulder bags, cosy cafés with homely music, artesania, cards that mean something, the feeling of striking a match, seeing old couple walk hand in hand down the street, cleaning my room dancing to pop and MJ and dancing around like an idiot, being kissed in the neck, when people I touched are now not just changing others but bringing gifts of new knowledge into my own life and helping me grow, bowing on stage, bowing in the streets with my hands clasped while singing to say thank you, bowing in the dojo, girls who ride horses bareback, lying in a field full of tall flowers staring at the clouds, legs and arms brushing past tree trunks and small plants as I move through the forest, scars that last years, contemplating string theory and multiple dimensions and twisted up time, fountain pens, pens with replaceable ink, making art out of trash, taking steam, lying in saunas, long walks, throwing starfish back into the sea, abundance-based economic modeling, cupping my hands and drinking straight out of mountain rivers, lying under a piano while someone plays anything by Yann Tiersen, Yiruma, Ludovico Einaudi or from the film The Piano, inverting screen colours, sleeping arms and legs tangled up in his, the way goats eat branches, downward dog, cat and cow poses, bending backwards into a bridge perfectly, partner stretching with dropped shoulders, twisting back stretch, pooping three to five times in a day, second hand books, park benches, street lanterns / old-fashioned lamplights, giant shawls, sheepskin rugs, realizing I am dreaming then laughing like a maniac while I control my dream – snap my fingers and turn on the lights, leap into the air to helicopter fly, become invisible from the demons or simply melt away – when people open up to me and trust me with their most vulnerable selves, when people give good directions, watching circuses, when people buy me toilet paper, brown paper bags, thick golden threads, sashes around the waist, blowing a wish, blowing a candle, dancing naked in the rain, anything that glitters or has rainbows, having the whole morning free, fairy lights, silicon earplugs, when people make an effort to keep in touch with me, homemade balm, the way liquid pours out of teapots, call-and-response songs, snaplock boxes, koru patterns, when people honour my time and get back to me quickly, street artists, feeling completely comfortable with my body around him, tall glasses, women dressed as zebras on zebra crossings, onesies, polar fleece, the way eskimos and andinos move, sticking things with blu tack, the way I feel like a child when I speak French in the air voice, how I relax when I swear in Spanish, inside jokes between friends, jazzifying classical piano pieces, the way my voice becomes husky and soul when I’m sick or haven’t rehearsed, coming back to my room at my parents’ home to find it exactly as I left it, when mama makes an effort to make my floor bed for me before my arrival, the language of invitation and naming and honouring and gratitude and we and safe containers, physics experiments with the boys, people who understand anarchy, heavy itchy blankets, the feeling of putting beeswax on hiking boots, receiving heartfelt couchsurfing references, flutes, music shops, guys who softly strum guitars, getting lost in a forest and finding my way home again, big fluffy dogs like wolves, fairytales of elves and pixies, singing creeks, wooden furniture, wooden houses, stone huts, clockwork toys, spiralizers, miniature graters, nude beaches, hula hoops, ultralight nylon skipping ropes, Japanese floor tables, futons, big Andina women with flowering skirts and bowler hats, being tanned just to the point of being sunburnt, shaving for the first time in weeks/months, papaya balm, homemade lip balm and bodybalm, houses with glass ceilings to sleep under the stars, the way mosquito nets hang, double-layered mosquito ‘tents’ in Diwali, blowing kisses, when people let their hearts be broken open by the love (pain) of this world, recycled art, the way the moon shines into the water, when someone makes a Herculean effort to understand me, to really go all the way, humming in chest voice and mouth closed till my teeth shake, anything with a diminished seventh and minor fifth, making thunder on a piano, playing with hands crossed over, giggling when the reflection of my fingers in a Yamaha moves faster than my eyes can follow and throws me completely off the impromptu, digestive herbs, teas that heal things, women who run with wolves, facilitating emotional clearings, being curled up with mum and dad in bed listening to stories, bath gowns, turning up to find friends walking around their house in onesie pajamas, the smell of an ocean full of fish, anything by David Attenborough and Louis CK and Russell Peters, watching jellyfish, dolphin diving, swimming like a mermaid without using my arms in butterfly, that moment when I look him in the eye and the whole world/spacetime falls away, going to bed very slightly hungry, scarecrows, creek channels like highway maps or lightning patterns through farms, sleeping like a starfish, glow worm caves, remembering how to kayak after years of absence, the way babies smile, the combination of garlic and olive oil and broccoli and sea salt, standing at the front of a boat speeding through the water and leaning into the wind, deep silence to sleep in, hanging upside down, the feeling of freedom moving in black leggings, being the little spoon, the smell of bakeries, the smell of wood being cut, letting my hair down after a day of dance/acro, the way the sky burns deeper in colour after the sun disappears behind the horizon…
Reflection: We are often ‘running away’ from things and seen as constantly rejecting things. For example – vegans reject animal products. Or nature-lovers reject technology and modern society. Or travellers reject commitment and settling down. And we can often be consumed by the same rejections and live in perpetual fear, frustration, intolerance, non-acceptance (effectively a passive kind of violence) and shame from ultimately drawing into our own lives exactly what we are trying to avoid.
Reflection: I didn’t want to do a New Year’s Resolution list, because I feel like I already know what I want, love and what makes me happy. And a list can often seem like a series of ‘dos and don’ts’ which seems restrictive…like…control. But I wondered then – if I were to list everything in the world that makes me happy, then, well, how deep does the rabbit hole go? Where would I end? Would I end up listing everything in the universe? And once I did, would I need all of those things at the same time to feel happy? When you look at it, the answer is no – because we can find joy in completely contrasting experiences such as hot and cold showers, such as being alone and being surrounded – and they are a bit mutually exclusive anyway.
Reflection: one could potentially say that these are just the ‘things I like’ and that ‘liking’ and ‘feeling happy’ are sort of two separate levels. But what happens when I acknowledge and claim that deep emotion in all of these things, the intensity of the experience in all of these things? Rather than just being ‘oh that little thing that makes me grin,’ each thing/experience/person/place becomes a world of its own.
Reflection: nothing ‘makes me’ happy. Happiness is something that exists within me. To say something else ‘makes me’ happy would mean devolving all responsibility to the external thing, the experience, the situation, the person. So if there is no ‘causal’ kind of relationship between the above list and my inner joy, then I might say that these are, rather, perfectly interchangeable strategies for accessing that inner joy – they are sort of catalysts, as it were, the feet in the door, the many keys to the many doors that open up my heart, sort of like some ‘helpful background / initial conditions’ for making the (re)action work. Or these are joyful it-just-so-happens. It just so happens that when I’m in sunshine I feel loved up by the universe. It just so happens that I grin when I see an overflowing shelf full of herbal teas. It just so happens that life is beautiful.
Reflection: reading through the list in itself is a joy. There’s something really powerful about knowing that there are so many ways to access my aliveness, that fundamentally it doesn’t matter which one I choose as long as I’m flowing with my (physical/emotional/spiritual/social) needs.
And lastly, some:
QUOTES FOR THE NEW YEAR:
“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.”
“The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.”
“Chaos is what we’ve lost touch with. This is why it is given a bad name. It is feared by the dominant archetype of our world, which is Ego, which clenches because its existence is defined in terms of control.”
“The most important aspect of love is not in giving or the receiving: it’s in the being. When I need love from others, or need to give love to others, I’m caught in an unstable situation. Being in love, rather than giving or taking love, is the only thing that provides stability. Being in love means seeing the Beloved all around me.”
“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.
“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”
“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.”
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”
“Love like you’ve never been hurt.”