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Call from an old friend

I received a call today.

From my body

And from Mother Earth herself.

“I’ve sent so many messages

Through so many messengers.

I love you.

I want you to come home.

I need you to keep me safe.

I invite you to cherish me more.

Honour me more.

Show up like a mama lion for me.

Soothe me with your touch when I am stressed.

Stop everything and put me first.

Listen long and lovingly to my needs.

Delight in meeting them.

Because you love me.

Don’t hand me over to someone else

To do it for you.

Instead of you.

Don’t abandon me when I feel unsafe

Stop everything and put me first.

I need to feel your presence.

All the time.

Always.

Put me first.

Honour me with your choices.

Put me first.

Honour me.

Listen to my every tiny desire.

Welcome and adore my desires.

Delight in pleasing me,

Nurturing me,

Lighting me up.

Treat me like a goddess,

A temple.

I am you.

I am that.

Act like it.

Come home.

 

Reading this message back, it feels like the deepest call of the feminine in me, to my masculine energy, which has been so active, doing and thinking and striking out. Building and shaping and directing….

In so many ways this call for union has been resounding in me. Even now, as I am here writing a blog post hunched at the desk, a wild little puppy is tearing at my ankles – “Hey!  I am life embodied, I am the earth in motion, be here now with me.” So I’ll end here, and go roll around on the rug by the fire.

 

 

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Portrait: a digital nomad living outside the tribe

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Much discussion around the rise of digital nomad culture is focussed on the hubs and tribes, the clusters of nomads finding community wherever they find themselves, in co-working spaces and deeper connections through co-living projects scattered across the globe.

What of the nomad without a tribe?

The solitary wanderers and techno-hermits tucked away in all corners of the globe, creating vast online platforms that bring us all together. The paradox of digital work finds many nomads, by choice or by circumstance, alone in their hotel room, or tucked away in a cabin, bridging continents and creating virtual communities through their computer.

So what is it like to choose this path? I made a date with Ed Dowding, creator of Represent, a digital democracy platform which facilitates transparent, non-partisan, real time peer to peer polling and generates a clear and representative collective voice from scattered and distorted political debate in the UK.

Our interview begins with a classic digital nomad scene. After shifting times around a little we connect through skype, quick hello then robot sounds… Connection drops. Battling an intermittent wifi connection in a cafe and fielding calls to the mobile office take a little time and some creative problem solving. We shift channels, I am renting a UK local rate landline number which diverts to the landline of the retreat centre I am working from in Greece, which he can call from his mobile in Bristol. Ten minutes later with a clear line and a warm “hello” we dive into Ed’s story.

Ed made the shift to a nomadic life in 2002, four years into his career as a digital entrepreneur, arriving finally at a point where he felt confident that he could do his work entirely remotely.

“I realised that I was already effectively working remotely, so I might as well work remotely from the Alps! Technology makes it possible, so why not do it? I feel the same about paragliding. Our ancestors must have sat on mountains looking out and wanted to fly, now we can, so why would you not?”

His first step as a nomad was to move into a soft-top convertible he bought in Edinburgh!

“It was horrible, a colossal pain in the ass. I knew it wouldn’t work in winter and so I would have to leave before then. It served its main purpose, which was to get me out of there ”

Over a decade later and he now enjoys the relative luxury of a ski-in ski-out apartment in the Alps where he spends about three quarters of his time with the remaining quarter in the UK bouncing between meetings for his digital democracy platform Represent.

“A ratio of 30 days here in the Alps to about 10 days in the UK works well for me. Sometimes I cluster meetings more and it’s 60:20 but then the balance gets out of synch and a bit unmanageable with more activity and meetings and less time for follow up. It does depend I guess on how big a team you are working with.”

Ed also does occasional month-long house-sits in France and the UK for a bit of diversity, but makes clear that he is not one of the wealthy digital nomads with an easy residual income, rather one that lives outside the UK largely to save money, as well as  investing more time with fewer distractions in an online start-up.

As a solitary nomad nested in the midst of a transient crowd of holidaymakers and lots of snow, I was curious to know if he was at all drawn to the booming community of Digital Nomads in balmy locations across South East Asia:

“It’s sort of interesting, I know a few people who are there trying to work it out, but Asian Hoxton is not my style. Chances are that if a whole bunch of people are doing something and think it’s “cool”,I won’t.”

So what kinds of communities does this independent and deeply focussed entrepreneur identify with?

“As a wilful outsider I am quite ephemeral between communities – core friends, working relationships, interest groups, local connections – and at the same time I know very few people in France, it’s a resort not a village, most people who are there aren’t there the next week.”

Unlike many digital nomads who cluster in co-working spaces and co-living communities, hungry for collaboration and cross-pollination In Real Life, Ed seems to relish most of all the sense of connection he finds with nature:

“The giant mountain beckons you to the top of it without much resistance, walking through pine forest and nice mountain parks and gorgeous views. It is incredibly uplifting being at the top of a mountain for sunrise, watching the stars fade out and the colours come across the sky, it’s glorious.”

He speaks also of the challenges and quirks of these spells of solitary existence:

“If we exist largely in the eye of others, it’s other people’s reflection of us that help us work out who we are, so unless we consciously take time to think about who we are, then that doesn’t happen so much, to the extent I can sometimes look in the mirror and realise how very different I look, compared to how I feel.”

Most important to Ed, and the focus of the majority of his time and energy is his mission, the evolution and roll out of his digital democracy platform Represent:

“I’m pretty sure this one is my life’s purpose. If I can make this work, then it will be the most important thing I ever do.”

Spending most of his time at a distance from the UK, insulated from and not immersed in the daily reality and scale of the system he has tasked himself with transforming furnishes Ed with sufficient “delusion and belief” to support his mission focus. He seems to need only his own core belief in the value and importance of what he is doing to fuel his committed effort.

His philosophical reflection on purpose is sweetly representative of hours of undisturbed immersion in a a curated and theoretically dense cornucopia of podcasts and Sci-Fi audio books – the Utopias and dystopias of “social anthropology played out”:

“It’s incredible how many people believe that what they do is the most important thing they are doing, and from other people’s perspective it’s quite rubbish. Some people go to work because of the why, and some go despite it. It’s like the people who go to war not to fight for a noble cause, but because their friends are going and they want to help them. Perfectly mad.”

The flip-side and the challenge of such absolute mission focus, in Ed’s experience, is the ever-present risk of becoming “quite annoying, mono-thematic and single-minded”. Being relatively solitary he finds it easy to forget how people think and how to communicate ideas. This is especially hard when there is no shared understanding of the topic to begin from – so perhaps a like-minded community of digital nomads and entrepreneurs has its uses after all!

It is evident that there are many benefits and challenges to the solitary path of a digital nomad, just as there are in the close knit communities and cliques where we gather and grow together.

I personally find balance in moving between the two. For the last three years I have alternated  extended periods of solitary, simple, grounded living in remote valleys of Devon, Greece and Gran Canaria,  with creative whirlwind summers amongst my scattered global community, bouncing from couch to camper van and moving every few days to a new adventure. This summer however I’ll be renting a room for six months in the city as a base to put down my bag and move around from, as the “right  balance” for me changes and I move with it.

Each person’s balance will be different, and it just goes to show there are as many ways to make the nomadic life work for your as there are nomads doing it. Make the road your own! What’s your perfect balance?

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Foxes and queens and fairy stories

In January of 2012, I was struck one morning by an insistent urge to write a story, a proper childish fairy story about magic and such. I used to lose myself in such world’s quite often as a child and remembered in that moment how nice it had felt.

So I sat down, with a notepad and pen and I just started to write, like I had as a child. I just started and happily allowed what flowed through my hand. Writing for the joy of it, like dancing or running, just for the joy of the sensation. A story pouring through me.

Just as suddenly as I had begun, I was finished. I felt great, it was like arriving home after a wonderful walk in the woods. I closed the notepad, got up and had some breakfast with my man.

Three years later I happened upon this notebook, in a small suitcase stuffed with other similar notebooks (molesskine, A4, squared paper! buff/black paperback is the fave). I had spontaneously begun the job of reading through three years of notebooks, to pan for the gold of the souls journey I had been on during that time.

I came across this story and read it back for the first time since writing it. What a revelation. I entered a world that was new to me, and a story I had not yet known, but one that I had in fact lived in the intervening years. The story I had written with such casual delight three years ago, now read back to me as a profound allegory for a transformative period of my life which had followed from the time of writing.

Today, I feel this story is complete, this chapter, I am no longer in it and it is no longer my life. It is no longer my story, it is a universal one I feel. I wanted to let it free into the world. Free from the notebook and the dusty suitcase, to find those who seek it or those that it seeks.

I know that stories find us, rather than the other way around, This one found me, and now our work together is done.  I invite you to meet this little friend of mine and see how you get along!

The foxy queen in the picture is my beautiful and talented little sister Eloise White – I made this digital portrait of her for her birthday, now I realise she is the image of my woodland queen! I’m hoping she will animate this for me one day…

Red Fox in Winter

WAKING THE WOODLAND QUEEN

There once was a very little girl. She had delicate white hands that quivered when she spoke and big pale eyes. Her hair was pale golden and smooth like glass. She liked to walk in the wild edges of the garden, just out of sight, but was afraid to go beyond the edges into the dark tangly thorn bushes.

When the sun we as high and nobody was home she would lie in the very middle of the grass and feel the earth spinning round beneath her. One day she was lying with her eyes shut tight, when she felt a velvety soft,warm sensation on her cheek. She opened her eyes and gasped. Oh!

A great stag stood looking down at her, all russet and rippling with soft,dark eyes and majestic felted horns.

“Come with me to the woods, if you like” he seemed to say, “I’m king of the woodland and you will be safe with me.”

The very little girl’s hands quivered with excitement. All manner of thoughts running round in her head made her feel so dizzy and confused, she was frozen to the spot.

“OK, I see you are too frightened” said the stag, turning his regal back to her, and walking loftily back to the dark, tangly woodland, disappearing from view.

The very little girl felt so sad and alone as the stag disappeared from view. Why oh why was she so shaky and stuck? In her confusion and distress, she cried and fell asleep.

When she awoke she felt a warm,soft sensation like being cradled in a rosebud, and warm heavy air around her, dense with a heady aroma. She slowly opened her eyes to see a golden light all around her, soft and gently pulsing. She looked down where she lay and – ha! – it was a rosebud that cradled her so tenderly.

A fragrant breeze lifter her hair.

Just then a low rumble approached and she felt the rosebud quiver as her own hands had done. Again before here as the soft, velvet muzzle of the stag – but so big that he filled almost all of the sky!

“It seems I am a very,very,very little girl” she thought to herself, with some alarm and a great deal of wonder.

The stag spoke in a clear, low voice.

“I knew you would come, you wanted to so badly that you dreamed yourself into a fairy noon and entered the woods on a sunbeam.”

The very, very, very little girl was perplexed. Fairy noon? Sunbeam? Can it be a dream? She glanced around her and saw -in the shimmering golden haze – ten, twenty, thirty or more little rosebuds, and in each a very very very little girl was stretching and awakening. Lacy silver wings gently warming in the afternoon’s golden sun. A fairy noon.

“But why am I here?” She wondered aloud, perplexed. “Why so small?”

The stag simply stared into her and said:

“Just remember three things. A fairy noon can last as long as you let it. Sunbeams are made of love. Rose petals fall and thorns draw blood.”

With that he gracefully turned his head and walked away into the deep tangle of the woods. The little girl’s pale, golden head felt fuzzy and muddled, the deep scent of the rosebud calling her back to its softly swaying centre. She felt the warm sun on her cheeks and her eyelids grew heavy again.

“Sunbeams are made of love…” She remembered the stags words. How lovely it felt here, bathed in love, the fizzy hum of fairy wings rising all around.

She slept again, and waking briefly into a dream she was aware of sliding a nd spinning slowly downwards, like on a velvety soft helter shelter. A buzzing of voices, tinkling like little bells, chimed around her. Rainbows like sunlight crystal retractions glanced across her eyes as she swooped and swirled.

When she awoke she became aware of a gentle tugging on her golden locks. Gazing sleepily around her she saw with astonishment two reddish gold fox cubs softly pawing at her hair, which was strewn with tiny blue forget-me-nots and scented with pungent lavender.

She was draped in a whisper-thin blue silken gown and lying on a bed of Rose petals. The cubs were like little puppies, much smaller than she. “I must be my right size again” she thought, “only a little bit little”.

She sat up and looked around her, absentmindedly scooping the cubs into her lap. She was resting at the edge of a great wood. As she turned around to see what lay on her other side, she jumped with surprise to see a full grown fox standing close by her. The cubs wriggled free from her grasp and ran to their mother.

“So you are awake, dear Queen” said the fox with her dark eyes and twitching tail.
“I am your Queen?” She darted back. “Who made it so?” A strange and unfamiliar timbre and tone reverberated in her ribcage as she spoke. Her spine was straight as a spear and her hands quivered not even a little.

“Yes you certainly are” nodded the fox, slowly and steadily, gazing at her “and my Queen, you made it so”

“What of the fairy noon?” She wondered to herself.

“It lasts as long as you let it” echoed the fox. “Now. My Queen, we have much to attend to. The woodland realm depends upon your leadership and guile, for we are entering a new phase of the moon, and the twilight times are long and deep.”

The regal queen tossed her golden locks and stepped forward, chin out, eyes ahead, hands quivering imperceptibly (if at all). She knew not where she must go, but she knew that it was ahead of her, and not behind, that her duties lay.

In that moment a shadow flitted across the emerald moss carpet of the glade, and she felt again the presence of the stag. She knew that he was near, but that this was her time, her test. And he was watching.

At the edge of the clearing was there was an old wooden signpost. A white arrow indicating a dark and tangled tunnel into the woods. She looked closely to see the words: “Your Majesty… Your Fate” carved and weather-worn in the white wood.

The slightest shiver ran through her and the tiny hairs on the nape of her neck tickled and tingled. The fox glanced up at her and pressed ever so slightly closer to her cool, bare leg. Nudging, comforting.

The Queen took a deep, slow breath. “And so we go” she declared to her deepest self, and set off into the dark tangly tunnel.

After really rather a time of twisting and turning, almost tumbling down the windy woodland tunnel,the Queen heard a distant fanfare… Of tulips and daffodils, Mother. Nature’s brass band… carried to her elfin ears on the wind.

The deeper into the narrow darkness she journeyed, the brighter, lighter and more expansive the way ahead appeared to her – even as she felt the tangly tendrils of the tunnel closing around her.

Just at the point where she could barely lift her leg through the dense surrounds, a sort of pop and a whizzzzz…..

… The tunnel and the tangles and all that had surrounded her fizzled and faded like Sherbert on the tongue. A radiant peachy white light and an exquisitely silky, soft scented air filled All of Everything.

Again those brassy harmonies sounded, but muted,softer – like a bumblebee bothering a Buttercup on a lazy summer breeze. And she could feel it…the fuzzing and buzzing… Melting in the very middle of her chest like a cough sweet – warm and syrupy soothing…

Then clear as day, the stag walked right up to her.

The Queen pulled herself up straight before his majestic presence – instantly realising her self was all but straight, her form now ever so drifty and spacious. Her tumbling locks tumbled on and on into forever.

She gathered her glow in the direction of the stag and then she noticed, lain across his back, a very little girl. Not moving, barely there.

The stag looked at her with deep bronze eyes full of intensity.”will you take her?” He seemed to say.

The Queen of All Everything, in the ether of a peachy dawn, reached out with all of her Self, and scooped up her Form like a precious doll.

“This very little girl,” she thought. “This very littlest of girls.”
“She is the acorn and I am the oak. She is my root and my fruit. Let us be One.”

As I guide through the glade. As I stumble in the bushes. As I quiver and shake by river and lake…

As I am. I am All.

I am great, I am small.
I am the queen, I am the stag.
I am the blades of grass beneath my back. I am the heat of the sun on my cheek.

I am the part and the wholes. The heart and the hand.
The light and the endless night.

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Dancing queen

I go
deep into flow.
The wild wolf woman
throwing back my head to howl
delight and raw power of soul.

The day dances along
new partners on  the floor
come bearing gifts
laying destiny at my feet
and looking on with
worshipful awe.

A newly born queen
wings moist but unfurling

a sleek lady fox
tail brightly uncurling

a dervish in heart
a deep inner whirling

love is my light
to love is my calling

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“Within every woman there lives a powerful force, filled with good instincts, passionate creativity, and ageless knowing. She is the Wild Woman, who represents the instinctual nature of women. But she is an endangered species.” ― Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With the Wolves

She’s stretching in the fragile morning rays of the sun, her eyes blurry from 5000 years of sleeping. She turns to the blinding light of the business all around. Naked and perplexed, she sighs deeply and readies her soft and yielding heart for battle, gathers her pulsing strength…

The Divine Feminine, stepping up and out and firmly taking the hand of The Conscious Masculine. With love, and commitment to weather all storms. To yield and support, to empower and enrage, to drive forward and let be.

By loving our own divinity and consciousness, our creative potency – unique flavours and a perfect combination- we give birth to the elixir of life, to love. Just being every element of our unique microcosm of the wholeness, loving all that is in us, and by this most joyful and elemental means – loving all that is. Bringing all into balance.

“Love alone is capable of uniting living beings in such a way as to complete and fulfill them, for it alone takes them and joins them by what is deepest in themselves.”

~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin