The website has not seen much action this last week. I packed my small suitcase and stashed the fully-charged laptop in my carry-on, assuming I’d be writing, editing, posting and updating every day, but the moment I touched down in Mauritius, that celebrated island vibe gotta hold of me, and I could not muster the right energy, though I thrice tried. What I accepted, early on, was that I just did not want to work. I’ve worked almost solidly for the last two years (without a proper holiday away), and with the launch of the Balance Plan book and website, life has been usurped by a lot of forward-thinking and planning, a lot of deadline-meeting, and a lot of self-enforced ideas about how to do this Balance Plan ‘thing’ right. How many times a day does one Tweet or Instagram to maintain, but not dissuade, interest? How many blog posts ought I to schedule before I can safely take the weekend ‘off’? How can I learn to better budget my time to leave at least half of my evenings a week free?
Then you land on a tropical island, dump the suitcase, jump into the sea and forget that any of the above ever mattered… and it feels bloody amazing to just let things slip, to realise that all you want to do for the next two hours is watch the sky, listen to the sea, and absorb the swift descent of the sun into the molten sea… and you remember what it feels like to just be a speck of dust in a glittering universe, to bear witness to the glory of the great and the vast and the infinite, to see the stars and smell the smoke that rises from the night’s dinner on the beach, and to toast new friends with a shot of local rum and mute the incessant beep of the inbox because you’re too busy breathing, and have grown covetous of this return to an easy obligation-free existence.
But, the entire thing, is of course, completely temporary. Those grains of sand you held in your hand remind you of ‘important’ things as they tumble through your rested fingers (which have not touched a keyboard in 6 days)… that you love your work. That you love the promise within those dreams. That you are a wholly blessed individual with opportunities to live a life less ordinary that you will never be able to squander. So, you reason, this is just a holiday. A break from the norm. Yet, you cannot shake the heaviness you’ve returned to ‘real life’ with.
Something, you repeat, inwardly, over and over, needs to change. You break down the components of your life. The beauteous blessings within all the elements that make up your every day, everyday. Family, home, relationships – my heart swells in gratitude for all the love, kindness, goodness I am so lucky to experience with each waking moment. Work? I am working on a feature for Psychologies magazine on having a ‘portfolio career’. Because I am a beauty & wellbeing director, an author and company founder, and also a practising facialist. Each thread brings me joy, and gratitude. How lucky I am that I have been able to pursue these goals and bring them to the point of fruition. But bubbling beneath that surface blessing is the knowledge that I’ve had to diversify – necessity has driven my actions and decisions, as much as ideology. With two small children whom my husband looks after full-time, the money I earn is split 4 ways, and nothing more comes into our household. Times have often been tough. Loans needed, bills late-paid, nights spent sleeplessly totting up owed amounts and unseen expenditures. Our lives are un-extravagant, yet life costs us… things add up, with or without children, and though we’ve not been able to afford a proper family holiday for years, have no ‘help’ at home, and live in a small cottage in a remote part of Kent, we just about make ends meet.
I do the things I do because I love them, all, but I also know that if a bit more money were forthcoming I would make several different decisions. I have no desire, nor have I ever had, to be the multi-tasking CEO wonder-woman. I have never mistaken wealth for happiness, nor success for contentment. There is irony in realising that the press trip that took me to this part of paradise – the place where I had these personal epiphanies – did not cost me a penny. I was there, as a journalist, on an all-inclusive ‘holiday’ at the mind-blowingly amazing Lux Resorts in Mauritius, and there was not a second that passed when I did not know that – nor feel like the luckiest person alive to be doing a job where such things are a relatively regular part of my life. I appreciate it SO VERY VERY much. Every sky, every dip in the sea, every star, every bite of food… my professional life has brought me here, to a place that I would not be able to afford in my own ‘personal’ life. I am not ashamed to admit this – that I have never ‘had’ money. A more naive me once assumed not having money would fill me with hunger and ambition – to make my way in this world, to earn money, to be in possession of certain small ‘luxuries’.
But sat, on these beaches, breathing in that salty dazzling sky, money doesn’t matter, deadlines don’t matter, ambition feels obsolete… why aim for the ‘sky’ when it’s right here, for all of us, whenever we look up at it? I do not want a thing other than the time to sit up and take notice. To look around and see exactly where I am. To wake and go where the day leads me, second by second. To not rush through the daily essentials only to reach the hoped fors. To keep my mind in a single spot – thankful, calm, open – away from those dreams of bigger, brighter futures.
Manifestos are born of personal, private awakenings. But this is no place for such a grandiose ideology – we’d be worried of falling short, and a broken promise is another broken thought – a worry, a fear, a regret.
My only promise to you, the reader, is that we will post material as and when it occurs to us, as and when it is of value… we are no traffickers, social media giants or blogging big guns. We are just what we are – a bunch of flawed humans with the most modest aspirations – to live easier, lighter, freer lives… no expectations, no grand ambitions, no agendas. Pages may not change for days, but there will always be care taken within the words that you read and merit in the matter. We’re not here to compete with anyone, least of all our selves.
So, the slowness and silence you may experience here, in this virtual ‘place’, though not initially planned, now feels fated – if it weren’t for this, the balance we so heartily love and embrace would be nothing other than lofty pretence, an ideological lie, which will never make it into living, breathing practice,