Monday, 22 January 2018

And here is to the fools who dream

I remember vividly the last day I spent in Belgium, before I jumped on a plane and started a new life in New Zealand. I was twenty years old and there was a heat wave at the time. I travelled to the Ardennes to enjoy the local rivers for a swim with my sister and a few close friends. I did not want the day to end. On the way home Tanita Tikaram was singing "little sister leaving town" at full capacity through the loud speakers of my fathers green Saab convertible. I was holding tight to my sisters hand and tears were running down our faces. Up to then my sister and I had not been apart for more than 2 weeks at a time. My decision to leave half way through my veterinary degree to the unknown on the other side of the world was not made from a secure, loving and safe place. I was simply running away from sad complicated stories which were my childhood. I was running away from darkness in search of a happy future. I have always had a strong intuitive compass for where I needed to head, seeking opportunities where ever and whenever I could find them. Selfishly sometimes. I still remember vividly how I felt the months leading into making the decision to leave. Feeling trapped, stuck, suffocating in negativity. The realisation that I did not want to live my life like that. That it was simply not enough, that I wanted more. The anxiety, the turbulent waterfall of thoughts, the fear of losing my way in all the sadness, all the grieve, all the pain which was beyond my control. New Zealand became my dream and New Zealand became a reality.

I finished my veterinary degree in NZ and worked with some of the best race horses, a dream had become a reality
Through my journey I have learned that if I really wanted something it was achievable but it did require a huge amount of hard work and trust that it would all work out somehow. Where all those years ago the alternative of staying in Belgium felt unbearable, it never felt like bravery leaving everything behind and changing course. As I have become older it has become harder to take that leap of faith and chase dreams and opportunities although it might have appeared to the outside world that things came easy. Having had no safety net in the form of family, I have always felt huge responsibility for every action I took. When I messed up, it was entirely up to me to bounce back on my feet. Things are a bit more secure now and I know I have people around me who will have my back when things go wrong. Still I hardly ever make big decisions on an impulse.

I developed my passion for sport and outdoors in NZ's beautiful playgrounds
The last couple of years I have lost my way a bit it seems. Where I shared an equal amount of passion for my job as an equine veterinarian and my sporting pursuits, I had lost both whilst overcoming obstacles which were presented to me. Wether these were real obstacles such as injury or a fabric of my own imagination such as the inability to see progress. The more I started to fight reality the cloudier it got in my head.
searching for my own path

I am not sure where my inherent drive comes from but I have always wanted to really love my life, I have always wanted to love my job and the path I chose to be on. Live my passion. I never wanted to just exist, I wanted to live. After having had my fair share of ugly,  I wanted to go in search of beauty. Breath taking experiences, moments of true happiness, moments where every cell in your body would come alive. I wanted a life with all of that. I wanted the possibility to truly feel and not get numbed by the expectations of society. And the more people were insinuating that feeling miserable in your day to day life was all part of it, that work was just work, that what I wanted did not exist, that I would never be happy wherever I ended up, the more I started to fight my surroundings. Feeling like I felt so many years ago, trapped in a world I did not fit in, following a path which was not mine. Urging for freedom, the freedom to dream.

Mountains wherever they are feel like home to me
Following your dream, living your passions, leaving 9-5 jobs, its all so cliche nowadays with people all over social media doing exactly that. Or is it? Staying true to my dreams has been no easy road. All my life my drive has steered me in different directions, sometimes not knowing if I was coming or going. I have lost my way more than once in the process. I have also been criticised for the choices I have made, criticised for who I am in subtle, passive aggressive ways. I have always been foreign in every sense of the word. Truth is, I don't know how to be anyone else, neither do I want to. Even if it takes me a life time to figure it all out, I will keep going, I will keep searching, I will keep exploring, I will keep dreaming.
A combo of bikes, mountains and horses and I am as happy as can be

After a tough past 18 months I have been given a great new job opportunity in which I hope to rekindle with my passion for equine veterinary medicine in an environment better suited to me. Different working hours means creating more time to pursue my passion for sports and outdoor adventures in an attempt to combine the two in a way I have not been brave enough to try before. It is very exciting and scary at the same time. And although it is not how I wanted things to turn out 18 months ago when I made the decision to work for the University (which was a dream in itself), having made the choice to leave has liberated me from a version of myself I really started to dislike. You try, you fail, you learn, you move on. There is no such thing as wasted experiences.
lucky that the most important men in my life share my passion
I feel very lucky that I have people in my life who often give me that final little nudge I need in order to have courage, to take a leap of faith, to trust it will all be ok. My sister has been there all my life always knowing what to say when I fall silent. My partner Michael who just sticks by me no matter what. And friends spread all over the world, Karen Holmes, Karin, Jantiene, Suus, Naomi to name a few, who inspire me on a daily basis to be strong, keep my head held high and march on, to show the grit needed to create a path of my own. Here is to all of you, here is to the ones who dream.
                                                 "And here is to the fools who dream
                                                  Crazy as they may seem
                                                  Here is to the hearts that break
                                                  Here is to the mess we make" Lalaland

There is no better feeling than living your passion even if its just for a day

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