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What this blog is all about…..

On 25 August 2017 my partner Eoin and I leave our home in Northern Ireland for a new life in France.  We have sold our home, sold one of our businesses, are selling or giving away most of our furniture and buying a motor-home to live in until we find our new home.  We think this will be somewhere in the Dordogne but we aren’t 100% sure yet!

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Mark Twain

This blog is dedicated to the start of a whole new life for me at the age of 49 and will be inspired by our adventures, my passion for food, nature, France and all things beautiful.

I hope it inspires you to follow your dreams and step out of your own comfort zones to create a life you love.

If you enjoy it, please share and I would love to hear from you so please feel free to leave comments and tell me what you are liking (or not!).

You can also follow our adventures on our YouTube Channel by clicking here.

Jenny Gx

New life, same old me!

It is now two weeks since we drove away from our old home in Nothern Ireland and about 10 days since we arrived in France.  My life has been turned on its head as I left behind so much which is familiar.  My physical environment is currently changing every few days as we explore this beautiful country. And yet I am fascinated by the fact that many aspects of my day-to-day life are very similar to how they were before.  I have the same morning routine and the same bedtime routine.  I have the same little habits that I have had for many years and my perimenopausal hormones are still as crazy in France as they were in Northern Ireland!

It is so easy to think that you will be fundamentally changed as a human being just because you make a big life change like moving to another country, ending a relationship or changing a job.  However, of course, just because the external circumstances of your life are different does not mean that you are different.

Yesterday I found myself waking early, going straight onto my laptop to check emails and then rushing to get to the morning market at a decent time.  I then observed myself wandering through that lovely French market and experiencing some more stress all of which was created by my thought patterns about what to buy and cook for dinner!  Rather than being fully present and enjoying the sights and sounds of the market and marvelling at the fact that this is now my new ‘normal’ way of buying food, my mind was caught up in old, outdated programming.

21534373_10155585388422593_468782885_oLuckily I have been meditating and practicing mindfulness for so many years now that I was able to observe the antics of my mind, catch them and bring myself fully back into the here and now.   I could then really experience the beauty of my surroundings and the pleasure of chatting in French with the fish-stall holder while I selected some monkfish for dinner.  I was able to appreciate the intricate wonders of the window display in the chocolaterie.  I could savour the smell the basil that I bought from the man who grew it.

So many people chase the dream and think that their lives will be totally different when they move to France (or any other country) but the reality is often that their lives are not really that different.  The common denominator of any stress and anxiety that we experience in our lives is not really the circumstances of our life.  It is YOU!  We all know that there are people living in what we perceive as horrifically deprived situations in countries like India who are filled with an inner joy and deep appreciation for their lives.  We also know people who ‘have it all’ and who are horribly unhappy.

I am very grateful that I learnt many years ago that happiness really is an inside job and that I have the power to change my own emotional state by learning to control the crazy antics of my mind.  I do that through meditation, the practice of gratitude and many other tools which I have learnt over the years.  After much practice, these are now some of my more positive habits and really enhance my life.

Will my peri-menopausal hormones still run wild here in my new life in France?  Of course they will.

Will my crazy ego-mind still want to drag me into stress?  Of course it will.

Will my old addictions to sugar and alcohol still be part of my life?  Oh yes….how could they not when I am sitting in the middle of the vineyards and surrounded by patisseries?

Do I have the ability to catch myself before I get hooked in old patterns?  Yes.

Do I have the choice as to what I put into my body and how to look after it?  Yes.

Do I get to decide how I spend my precious time in this beautiful country?  Absolutely.

And that is why, on the whole, I feel so free at this point in my life.  Because, in my mind, I have total freedom and that is not dependent on where or how I live.  It is dependent on me and the minute to minute choices that I make as to how I want to experience my life.

So, right here, right now, I choose to be at peace, to sit in awe of it all and to milk every second of this amazing adventure.

A bientôt

Jenny x

The Freedom of Simplicity

21125387_10155556176792593_5186998666097518413_oWe have now been on the road for one week and are gradually settling into our temporarily nomadic lifestyle.  So far we have spent nights in Northern Ireland, Dublin, near Stratford-upon-Avon, Portsmouth and a few nights in two different towns in the Loire region of France.  Our original plan had been to stay in a different place each night as we travelled down through France from Normandy to the Dordogne so that we could just do a couple of hours’ driving each day and explore the country we were passing through.  However, Tuesday saw a change of plan……

We spent Monday night in the car park of Portsmouth ferry terminal so we could get the early crossing and we had a restless night and an early start.  When we arrived in France on Tuesday at lunchtime it was hot and as we drove South the temperature and humidity kept rising.  By the time we arrived at our campsite after nearly 4 hours’ drive, we were all a little frazzled.  It was one of those days when I was sweating as I sat still never mind putting up the awning and getting ourselves unpacked.  The dogs were hot and stressed too.  By the time we got set up for the evening, Eoin and I were, quite frankly, f**ked!  All the busy-ness of the last few weeks, getting used to motor-home living, travelling with the dogs and finding our way around new terrain had finally taken its toll.  We sat down under the stars for dinner that night and decided that we all needed to take the next day off and just ‘land’ in France.  So we stayed for two nights and moved on yesterday but again, this morning, we both really felt the need for stillness so we are staying another night in the lovely campsite where we are right now.  It has been a great decision just to take things a little easier on ourselves and to have a couple of lazy days in one place without having to pack up and move on.  This afternoon it is raining heavily so we are putting our feet up and making the most of the enforced rest.

 

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Tomorrow we have a reasonably long drive but the reward at the end of it is that we are dropping Samson and Delilah off with our friends in the Dordogne who are dog-sitting for them for the rest of September.  We love the fur babies but they are just too big to travel around with in Mirabelle and it is also very unsettling for them. So this will be best for all of us.

 

I guess that we are still in the process of unwinding from the sale of our home, possessions and car and all the work that we had been doing in the background to simplify our lives before we left Northern Ireland.  Even at a combined age of 109 years old, we both have great energy levels which are helped by our healthy lifestyle and excellent nutrition but we definitely had underestimated how tired we actually were.

‘Simplify’ has been a buzz word for us for the last few months since we made the decision to relocate to France.  The impending move was an impetus for us to simplify our lives both personally and professionally.  We have streamlined our financial situation so that our new tax residency in France is as simple as possible because, let’s face it, the French do love bureaucracy and there will be a lot of it over the next few months for us.  We wanted to make sure that we kept our side of things as easy as we could.  We have simplified how we are running our three businesses in Ireland so that they are easily managed from France.  Then we both went through every piece of paper that we had in our files and destroyed anything which was not absolutely essential which was most of it because nearly everything is available online these days.  I managed to get all 3 of the businesses plus my own personal paperwork into one small box!  Business-in-a-box sounds great to me!!

Next for me was my wardrobe.  I love clothes and I had 2 double wardrobes plus about 5 large drawers full of them.  I was quite anxious about how I could possible simplify all this plus other hobbies down into the half a small wardrobe and 3 small cupboards which are mine in Mirabelle.  But I did it and, so far, I haven’t missed anything or felt the lack of it.

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The last thing for me to tackle was the kitchen.  In our home at Eden we had a very big kitchen with about 24 cupboards/drawers plus a pantry and pretty much all of them were in use.  I love food, I love cooking and I love my kitchen so how could I possible manage with 3 ½ small cupboards in Mirabelle.  It ended up being a challenge which I really enjoyed. So far our meals have been as yummy and healthy as at home.

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Eoin was amazed last night when, on my birthday, I brought out the champagne glasses, some delicious olives in a beautiful olive bowl which he bought me for Christmas and my mum’s special olive fork (every girl must have one!).  We sat and toasted my 49th birthday under our awning with my solar-powered fairy lights twinkling away and I was a very, very happy girl!  We may be on the road and camping but I still believe in having a few little luxuries around us.

All this simplification took a lot of time, thought and planning over recent months but, as we settle into our second week on the road and are starting to wind down, there is an enormous sense of freedom and peace in my mind.  I love knowing exactly what I have and where it is. I am thriving on the challenge of being creative with the limited amount of stuff that I have to work with in the kitchen and the tiny fridge which means we can only buy a couple of days’ fresh produce at one time.  No more ‘big Tesco’s shops’ for me…hurray!

I have a strong sense that this whole process is going to have a huge impact on how we live long-term when we find our new home and really settle into life in France.  The lessons we have learnt from this simple life on the road will stay with us and we are already both determined to only acquire what we absolutely need and completely love in the future.

Simplicity and quality are the focus from here on in with my life.  Less is definitely more and travelling light through life is a wonderful feeling.

Don’t forget to check out our regular videos from the road by subscribing here.

A bientôt

Jenny x

Happy Birthday to Me!

21284437_10155560063147593_876971505_oTomorrow is my 49th birthday.  In a lot of the spiritual circles I move in people talk about the importance of the number seven and how our lives flow in seven year cycles.  Today is the last day of my seventh seven year cycle and the significance is not lost on me as I arrived in France yesterday to start my new life here.

When I reflect on where I was in my life seven years ago I am reminded that it was around that time when we realised that dad had developed Vascular Dementia and much of the interim period has been focused on sharing his care with my brother and sister.  Dad eventually passed away last summer and just before then I had started to hear an inner nudge which was telling me to “make space” in my life.  I had no idea why but I know not to ignore those soul whispers and so I took the apparently crazy decision to step back from the 1-1 Life Coaching work which had sustained me financially for eleven years.  I stopped taking on any new clients, gradually wound down my coaching practice over last summer and took on a team of accredited coaches to carry on the work I had been doing.

At almost exactly the same time my only child, Georgia, graduated from university in Belfast and moved to Dundee to live with her partner and embark on her Master’s Degree.  Within the space of a few months I realised that I was no longer caring for or supporting anyone for the first time in twenty one years (notice the end of another seven year cycle!) and the word FREEDOM kept rattling through my consciousness.

And now I sit here in a campsite in France inside our motor-home with no fixed abode, no home or garden to maintain, most of my possessions sold, a large lump sum in the bank, three businesses in Ireland which I can run remotely and total freedom to do and be whatever/whoever I want.  A bit like when I started writing this blog, I have a big blank page in front of me and I can make the next seven year cycle into whatever I choose.

So, what will it be?  What will I create now?  What next?

Honestly, I don’t know but I do know for sure that I believe passionately in the power of intention and the new intention statement that has been coming to me for some time now is this…..

My soft feminine is allowing a beautiful, inspiring life full of fun, adventure, creativity and balance.

The idea of harnessing the power of intention to co-create your life is that you are not setting goals and you do not have any ego-led ideas of what that life will actually look like.  However, you are clear on the feelings and values that you want to manifest and experience more of.  I have been living this was for many years now and in the early days it was very challenging for my ego which was used to the perceived security and control of goal setting.

I have had to build my trust muscle by continuously affirming that the Universe is conspiring in my favour even if it often seems that that is not the case.  Apparent challenges become wonderful learning opportunities and can be seen as adventures when you live this way.

pronoia

Paranoia and fear transform into pronoia and trust – the belief that everything is working out for you. My childlike joy and enthusiasm for life have been awoken after the long sleep which so often happens as we ‘grow up’ and become ‘serious adults’.  My life partner Eoin taught me how to play with life again and to embrace the uncertainty as an adventure rather than staying paralysed because of fear of the unknown.

And so here I am……49 tomorrow, absolutely no idea where or how I will be living when I turn 50 but reassured by a deep knowing that it will be beautiful, inspiring and full of fun, adventure, creativity and balance.  Most importantly though is that I am stepping into my ‘soft feminine’ at this stage in my life.  As I move into menopause (appropriately referred to as ‘the change’ by a lot of women) I feel the need to step back from all the busy-ness of caring for and supporting others and the constant hustle to make a living from self-employment.  I feel the need to slow down and practice new levels of self-care.  This is the natural way of things which so many woman of my age are disconnected from in our modern, ‘developed’ world.

crone

Ancient Celtic wisdom talks of the three stages of womanhood – maiden, mother and crone.  I have been really conscious over the last year that it is time for me to step out of the mother phase and into my crone phase. I am so grateful that I have listened to those soul whispers which have encouraged me to make these massive changes in my life all of which are preparing me to move into this natural and beautiful phase of womanhood with vitality and joie de vivre.

Happy birthday to Jenny!

A bientôt

Jenny x

Chaos and Reorganisation

on the roadWe left all that is familiar to us 48 hours ago and drove out of our home in Northern Ireland for the last time in Mirabelle, our new motor-home.  I am writing this on the ferry from Dublin to Holyhead having spent our first couple of nights in Mirabelle – one in a layby near our friend’s house in Newry and the second in a campsite on the beach just outside Dublin.

We are slowly getting used to life in Mirabelle and our new living space which is smaller than any of the bedrooms in the house which Eoin, me and our 2 dogs, Samson and Delilah, have shared for the last 4 ½ years.  It is compact and pretty cosy when shared with 2 large dogs and I am glad that they are only travelling with us in it for a week before they go to stay with friends in the Dordogne for the rest of September.

The dogs seem to be feeling a little like we are……discombobulated is the best word for it!  Everything is new, everything is unfamiliar and every time we stop and open the door of Mirabelle the dogs step out into a new world.  They have led very sheltered lives since we rescued them both.    They have lived in the same home, with the same garden, the same walks and the same smells for the last 4+ years. They haven’t travelled, they haven’t visited other peoples’ houses, they haven’t been in a motor-home, they haven’t stayed in a campsite and they certainly haven’t been on a ferry.  They are off their food and Delilah is seeking constant reassurance.

I am feeling much the same as I ‘unplug’ from the life which we have just left.  All our normal daily routines have disappeared and I still haven’t adjusted to the daily move from one place to another.  I am still getting used to our compact living space and trying to find ways to make it easier to live comfortably in it.  My body is getting used to our new bed.  I am a light sleeper so I am easily woken by Samson’s vocal doggy dreams, car doors banging outside, people chatting around us and Delilah barking every time she hears a noise outside.  At this moment in time I feel hung-over even though no alcohol was consumed last night.  Sleep deprivation has that effect on me. I am jealous of Eoin who has just sat down beside me on the ferry and gone straight back to sleep.  He has the gift of being able to sleep anywhere regardless of what is going on around him.

I wonder how long the discombobulation will last for and how soon life on the road will be become the new normal for us?  Eoin and I are both incredibly adaptable people which is part of the reason that we knew that we could embark on this adventure.  Much and all as we like our routines and our creature comforts, we have both moved house many times before and, more recently, we have spent a lot of time house-sitting for others so we have had to get used to new spaces quickly.  My guess is that within 3 more days we will be fully settled into Mirabelle and our new way of being.

loading upThe present discombobulation has been building up over the last few weeks as we reduced our possessions by about 2/3rds.  Since the start of the month we have sold 3 cars, 4 sofas, 3 beds, 3 wardrobes, dining tables, chairs etc and we have sold or given away an enormous amount of other furniture and belongings.  We all felt the impact of the chaos that comes before any major change as we walked into rooms to find them emptier than they were the day before or walked into the driveway to find a car gone!

I have had to keep reminding myself that chaos always precedes reorganisation.  Everything has to go to a point of chaos before it can reorganise at a new, higher level and that is exactly what is happening in my life right now.  But chaos is not comfortable and I am not so good with it.  I like order.  I like to know where everything is.  I like the familiar.  I think most middle-aged people slip into this way of being too.  That is why it is so easy to get set in our ways and to stagnate a little (or a lot).  But I also know that I thrive on change and moving out of my comfort zones and I know that I have to accept the chaos for the reorganisation of my life to take place.

So, a little like we are doing with the dogs, I am constantly reassuring myself that all is well and being as gentle and compassionate with myself as possible throughout this transition.  I am actively choosing to focus on the excitement of being on the road with my best pal/lover, having the proceeds of the sale of our home in the bank, a fantastic motor-home to live in, heading to my beloved France and all the adventures which we have ahead of us.

As a young woman of 17 years old I left Belfast to start a new life in London where I only knew 1 person.  At the age of 19 I headed off to Australia for 6 weeks on my own.  When I was 23 I left for Geneva with a one-way ticket, about £250 in the bank and the dream of doing a ski season (but no job).  I returned nearly 2 years later having been round the world and had amazing adventures.  When I remind myself of that I know that I have got this covered!

Middle-aged Jenny may be tired and discombobulated right now but Jenny the young traveller and adventurer is super-excited about it all so I am actively choosing to focus on that part of my personality as I relax into all the change and uncertainty.

A bientôt!

Jenny x

This could be my last day.

When I become very conscious of this fact – that everything passes, nothing is permanent and this could be my last time – then my present moment becomes much more vivid and much more alive.  Because I want to remember it.  

I let go to feel the fall
And know that I’m alive
I see my breath and think of God
And everything I have

This could be my last day
This could be my last day

From “This Could be My Last Day” by Duke Special

With only 10 days before we leave this beautiful home and all that is familiar to us here at Eden we have started into the ‘last times’.  The last time we will go to the supermarket here.  The last time we will walk on our favourite beach.  The last time that I will bake a cake here.  The last time that family will be in this house…….

SandD with Mournes

Today I was lost in thought as the dogs and I walked over the fields around our home here in the lush, green, damp Co. Down countryside.  The to-do lists at the moment are enormous as we prepare to emigrate to France next Friday and let go off 3/4 of our possessions before then.  My mind is busy and in full planning mode which I am very grateful for, if not a little exhausted by!

Jenny and Mournes

But then I was stopped short by the joyful dance of flock of swallows who were diving and skimming along the long grass which we were walking through.  I was suddenly drawn right back into the Here and Now and intensely aware of the beauty of the present moment.  I stood for about 10 minutes watching the swallows, admiring the Mourne Mountains in the distance, seeing the green, undulating landscape with fresh eyes created by the knowledge that this was one of the last times in my life that I will walk this particular walk which I know and love so well.

That got me thinking about all the last times in my life so far that I didn’t realise were last times until it was too late (bear with me…it will make sense!) Continue reading “This could be my last day.”

Letting Go of the Old to Make Way for the New.

It has been a crazy week here at Travel Light HQ.

We now only have 2 weeks left until we hand over the keys for our home here in Northern Ireland, put the remaining 1/3 of our possessions into storage and hit the road in our new motor-home, Mirabelle.  Last weekend we had our final family gathering here at Eden which was a really lovely experience with our 5 kidults plus ones plus first grandchild, Sophie all here.  They all left on Monday morning and the letting go started for real…..

Within 48 hours my car, 3 beds, my desk, several chairs and lots of other bits and pieces were sold and collected.  The house is now starting to feel a little empty and it should be a lot more empty after our House Clearance Sale this Saturday.  Eoin has made me promise that I won’t sell our bed until the 23rd August!

Most of the larger pieces of furniture have little if any emotional hold over me but there are a few things which do.  Saying goodbye yesterday to lovely VW Beetle convertible, LuLu, brought a tear to my eye.  She and I have had lots of fun adventures and she has brought me a lot of joy.

Vision burningThen today I made the radical decision to burn all my old Vision Boards.  I have been making a Vision or Dream Board every year for the last 10+ years and, as Life Coach and Law of Attraction Coach, I used them as evidence for my clients and students of just what can manifest when you get clear about what you want.  As I looked through the Vision Boards today I realised that nearly 90% of the images and words on each of them has become reality which is pretty amazing. Continue reading “Letting Go of the Old to Make Way for the New.”

A curve-ball from the Universe

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This pic is an oldie but very relevant to me today!
Lots of people seem to think that spirituality is all about sitting on top of a mountain chanting and meditating all day. If it was that easy, everyone would be an enlightened master (or mistress).
But my version of spirituality is an integrated and lived experience based on finding a way to lead an authentic, healthy and even joyful life whilst still participating fully in this world. That means using every single experience which comes my way to deepen my spiritual practice and to build my trust muscle in a way that is grounded and real.
It may surprise you but I am not a fan of ‘woo woo’ spirituality where you disappear off into the realms of angels, fairies and spirit guides all the time. I am not here to have one big spiritual orgasm after another although I have had many, believe me. Whilst I believe passionately in living in a whole-hearted, loving and peaceful way, I also still believe in keeping our feet firmly on the ground and staying in touch with this physical world which we live in.

Continue reading “A curve-ball from the Universe”