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It’s possible to live Location Free

By Uncategorized

I hear so many excuses of how and why it is NOT possible to emulate my lifestyle – that of being a global gallivanting nomad. But your reality has probably radically changed a whole whack this past year right? Now you are re-thinking and re-jigging life, work, and ideas and what just might be possible for you and your family! There is something exciting being offered by Airbnb – keep reading if you want an exiting adventure!

I have been working online for the better part of 15 years in some form. It was skype long before Zoom, offering online courses since 2004 long before it was ‘de rigeur’ and travelling to deliver keynote talks and retreats across the globe).

I have officially been living #LocationFree for over 5 years now – meaning no permanent home base.

The world has forced new thinking
So as the world starts to release, expand and open up at last – are YOU starting to activate your long-held or recently realized idea about living a more location-free lifestyle? My latest book details the lessons learned from both myself AND 16 other courageous digital nomads that I interviewed for the book. We are all over 40 (most of us over 50) from different countries and in various lines of work – from coaches to accountants, web designers, psychotherapists, LD on cruises and more. We show the highs and the lows, how to connect to communities and basically how to make this lifestyle ‘work’ for you.

Yes, of course, most of us were in some version of lock-up together as the health crisis ravaged our worlds ……but the way so many millions of people suddenly HAD to work from home and experience freedom from the office culture, finally removed that particular excuse from the list of many….

I CAN’T TRAVEL AND WORK LIKE YOU KATE – I HAVE A JOB!
I HAVE TO BE IN XYZ CITY AS MY OFFICE IS THERE
I DON’T HAVE THE MONEY TO TRAVEL
I DON’T KNOW HOW TO GET STARTED
WHAT WILL MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY THINK IF I DON”T HAVE A “HOME”

But for me, the biggest reality/obstacle (Um excuse) is usually about earning a living and needing to be in an “office” in one specific place. Not any more right? Thanks for that big global blessing Covid! Not to detract from the harsh reality of the crisis, the loss, the devastation, the global grief, and economic realities… I do believe in looking for that silver living too.

Costs are not higher – just different
Actually when you do the maths and look at living location-free versus a “stable home base” we simply have DIFFERENT costs. I swap owning a car for my travel budget. Swap my mortgage for Air B’nB costs. Just different costs, but definitely not more. I simply choose to channel and spend my money differently. If you are craving connection, new experiences, and a way to satisfy your wanderlust spirit – then there is something you can do today, to take action on that dream. Take a look at what a friend I met when living in Malaga for the winter in 2019 just sent me ……

APPLY TO LIVE ANYWHERE FOR A YEAR!
SPONSORED BY AIR BnB – eeeck!!!!
https://news.airbnb.com/airbnb-seeks-12-people-to-live-anywhere-for-one-year/

Airbnb is offering 12 people the chance to live #LocationFree for a year. Now, how is that for squashing ANY excuse you might have? I am not applying as I am already living this way – so will gladly leave a space for the next person.
IS THAT YOU?
Please know that I am not in any way affiliated to, or reimbursed by AirBnB – I just happen to use them on my global travels as awesome places to stay.
Imagine more experiences, global connections, lifelong friends, hearing and learning new languages and most of all FREEDOM! They are offering to sponsor your year-long lifestyle. After that, you might be hooked, like me 5 years later, or choose to find a new way to live going forward.

Imagine one year …

Not ready to take that leap yet? Start small
If you are not quite ready yet to take the year-long leap and apply for this awesome experience, then get started with my 5th book recently published, titled “10 Lessons for Living #LocationFree”. Available in paperback or digital here – click the link below or search for the ISBN in your country 978-0-620-90868-9.
Get the juices flowing, ideas brewing, and start crafting a new lifestyle for yourself. 1,2,3 GO!

With love from Greece – where I am currently and starting a writing retreat today!

Kate

5 Essential Self-Care Tips While Traveling

By Uncategorized

When you’re out of the house, you might be looking forward to seeing some sights or simply unwinding. However, whether you’re traveling for work or going on a retreat in Europe, you shouldn’t forget to practice self-care while you’re away from home. Travel may also be a form of self-care to get away from your typical routines, but there are some additional things you can do to make your travel more relaxing:


Squeeze in some exercise
Exercising might be the last thing you want to do when you’re on a getaway, but you don’t have to go to the gym for it. You can simply do some quick squats and stretching when you wake up. If you’re used to having equipment at home, lightweight and easily packable pieces like the Fit Simplify Resistance Bands can help you. Another option is to take a tour or do some exploring on foot. This way, you get some walking done with fresh air, while at the same time get to see some sights.

Don’t forget your skincare routine
It’s easy to get lazy with skin care — especially when you’re coming from a long day of touring or exploring a new location. However, the new environment can actually take a toll on your skin, particularly if the climate is new to you. As such, it’s important to give your skin some extra care. Pretty Me’s article on Snail White Whipp Soap notes how natural plant extracts are great at giving you younger-looking skin, reducing fine lines and hydrating cells. These work even on sensitive skin. Sunscreen is another thing you shouldn’t forget. Traveling entails a lot of sun, so you’ll want to protect your skin from UV rays. Allure’s review of Aveeno Sensitive Skin Sunscreen Stick mentions how zinc oxide and soothing oats make for good sweat- and water-resistant sunscreen, while also being lightweight and non-greasy. Just do your research on your destination to see what you’ll need to add to your routine.

Unplug when you can
Now you might be thinking: what about all your travel posts you want to share with friends on Instagram? Of course, there’s nothing wrong with sharing your journey on social media — but make sure you aren’t glued to your phone 24/7. Remember that the purpose of traveling is to experience a place in real life, not through a screen. So whenever possible, relish every moment, put those gadgets away, and just take in the environment.

Get enough sleep
It’s definitely tempting to turn in late and wake up early to make the most of your stay. However, if you have a pretty packed itinerary, then that’s all the more reason to have at least eight hours of sleep. This way, you’ll have enough energy to enjoy your day more fully. After all, you don’t want to feel sluggish and sleepy as you go through your activities. And you definitely don’t want to end up completely exhausted by the end of your trip.

Enjoy the moment
Last, but not least, just be in the moment. You may be undergoing a digital detox, but if you’re thinking of how many emails you’ll need to respond to later, then you’re still not really relaxing. Whatever destination you’re visiting, don’t rush it. In this regard, Calm Moment lists some tips on how to truly enjoy your trip — and one of them is essentially taking it slow. From your outdoor breakfast to your walks through historical sites, spare some time to be grateful for the opportunity to see the world.

Let me know how you get on with your travels, Kate

How an author moves from “initial concept to final cover” (incl. scamps)

By Insights to help you #quickshift, Uncategorized

The most fun an author can have is with your book cover! It’s one of my favorite parts to bring all the hard work of the inner content to life, at last. I was going to go a new route for this book! The art of commissioning a bespoke illustration required hiring someone that could appropriately capture my personal author brand alongside global anonymity so that others could simply see an illustration depicting a specific lifestyle. It was such fun to produce my latest cover and I found it fascinating how illustrators work from start to finish. I thought you might enjoy that too, along with the images to show the process I went through.

Author Brand:
For my 5th book titled  “10 Lessons for Living Location Free,” I knew I needed something totally different to mt previous 4 books. My own mug shot, as Kate, the ‘author brand’, had appeared in some form on all my book covers to date. But for this book, I had also interviewed 16 other amazing global nomads to include their perspective and lessons of life on the “road.” It was important for me to depict other voices, opinions, experiences of both men and women around the world, in different work and from a variety of countries, with all of us commonly being over 40. I didn’t just want another brand picture of me on the cover this time. I wanted a way to depict me in a more unique and universal way to allude to all digital nomads, wander-lust travellers and #LocationFree mavericks.

Last year I had worked with one of our authors to publish her inspirational memoir. My business partner Sarah Bullen and I work with writers all over the world and handpick one or two authors to publish. This author wanted to create a bespoke illustration for her book cover, and I had so much fun walking her through it, from researching and finding the designer, talking through conception to execution and finally seeing her book on sale in the Amazon store and holding it in my hands.

It felt right to try it for myself now.

Commissioning the right one:
The first trick when commissioning a bespoke illustration is to find the right designer, of course. They also have to be able to work within your budget, as it is usually more expensive than getting a regular designer to create a cover. Bear in mind the final illustration will still have to be incorporated into the actual book cover design, so there are in reality two fees to factor in now! You want to get the most bang for your buck and get the most experience for your available budget, right?  My tip is to do some research on other books that you love out there, (be it covers or content illustrations), look at illustrators/designers you follow on social media and ask other authors in your network for their recommendations. Then, go and do your own deeper-dive research. Ultimately you want to narrow it down to three illustrators that you resonate with, and then go about getting quotes. 

You have to love their work, their whole vibe and the quality of their work ethic, as well as availability time-wise and budget. It all matters.

I was lucky to have interacted with three amazing illustrators last year, and so I went back to re-look at all of their work and finally chose the one I had worked with before. Her work still seemed to have the best fit for me, I had first hand experience though the other author AND she was able to slot into my very tight timelines. An incredible talent called Shannan Taylor who owns Muse and Doodle. I was publishing this book from edit to final finish in 28 days and she agreed to match my crazy deadlines.

I am NOT a designer by any stretch of the imagination, but I do have bold opinions about things, especially when it comes to my own brand, business and books. Every other book out there to date about #LocationFree living or the digital nomadic lifestyle usually has some bad version of a laptop and the world globe on the cover, or a beach and palm tree and that just wasn’t going to cut it for me!

My suitcase kept whispering to me for this cover!

The concept:
When you have commissioned your illustrator, it’s time to talk through some ideas with them. If you are not a designer you don’t want to be too in control of this process, as you might sway them to your limited thinking. You have hired them for their creative brain after all, right? Let them ask questions and find out what matters to you. They have their own process they follow, so trust them!  I had considered some ideas for a possible concept, but until she asked me some things, I hadn’t even thought about them. So when I said I spend a lot of time writing in cafes around the world – she asked – what country, beach or town, inside or outside, what do you drink, etc. I even had to go and find the “look and feel” of different street cafes for her. Go and look at some design elements she showed me to see what I did and didn’t like. I had always loved any artwork with a city skyline – we came up with the idea to use different iconic buildings to depict the whole world rather than ONE city per say. Think Paris next to London next to New York. Oh my – yes yes yes!

I have travelled with a suitcase for five years. Literally! That was important to my #LiveLightLiveLarge motto. She asked me my favorite colours, what I wear, some of my favourite outfits, etc. I sent her some of my brand photographs I love, and we spoke about cats, coffee, wine and the world. But it was very short back and forth on Whatsapp mostly, with dropbox for viewing scamps and ideas as they arrived.  

She very quickly came back with two initial ideas, similar in essence but totally different in energy for me. They are called “Rough Sketches” also known as “Scamps” and I instantly loved the second one on the right, below. My brand motto is all about lightness, laughter, energy, movement, swift action and so the one with “me” sitting down felt too stuck and solid energetically. Do you see that too? The one sitting ON the case felt filled with oodles of possibility; like waiting for something exciting to come along. It energized me. I also preferred the quick capturing of my face pondering life – the other one felt too cartoonish and casual.

Even though it wasn’t directly to depict me and rather to have an air of universality, it certainly needed to be ‘me’ at the same time. I couldn’t believe how fast she sent through these two first ones! The joy of working with a pro!

After I chose the concept of the upright suitcase, it was then about the next layer of detail. I also didn’t love the skyline concept behind the character. She wanted to get my expression and body position next. Angle of the gaze. Smiling or not. Direction of legs, etc.

What I really wanted to achieve was that if someone doesn’t know me they would have no idea who is on the cover – they would just see a woman on a suitcase, but if you do know me, you absolutely know that I am sitting on that suitcase pondering life, love and travel. I love both the recognition and the anonymity she managed to portray.

Perspective and size
For the next scamp, I still adored how the cat walked behind the suitcase, with his little tail peeking out, but we felt something was ‘off’ with the size of the suitcase on the left image. She decided to try increasing the suitcase height so I could sit on top with my legs swinging on it. See the second image with a different face angle too- It instantly felt another notch “lighter.” We ultimately decided to leave the kitty for somewhere else on the image. Oh, I was sad to see him disappear in the next stage but the perspective of the image required it. I knew a kitty HAD to appear somewhere, and she came up with another brilliant idea. I also love coffee and wine – how on earth do we have both? What about my beautiful white sun hat, and teal computer bag? Less is more – but what is important to portray? Pile of books or not? So many things to consider!

HEELS! I always wear heels that add height, colour and funky kind of class. I absolutely knew from the very first image that I am not a closed-toe kind of gal and the “converse” shoes felt too casual for the cover. So suddenly there appeared a pair heels that I own – sexy, black strappy heels with multi-coloured crystal studs. See Yoga Pic Below to check those babies out! Everything is “alluded” to in the image, rather than being too obvious. Next was hair – how short at the sides, what pop of colour for the stripe in the front? Ever since I went silver at age 38, I have had some stripe of funky colour. NO grey rinse brigade for me! Earings and necklace?

She managed to emulate the two items of jewelry I wear 90% of the time – heart-shaped silver drop earrings and a long silver necklace with stars studded along the length. But again – no one else would really “get” that unless I told you! I really love that about this cover. You can see those in the close-up face shot below.

The entire cover illustration
When the image of me was signed off, it was time to create the background setting for the rest of the look ‘n feel.
I squealed with sheer delight when I opened our joint Dropbox folder the next morning! OMG. Squeal squeal. I was in awe and sat there grinning from ear to ear. Complete with “me” in the foreground, against an explosion of a global, waterside café in a sepia wash with line drawings. I mean, look at all those buildings showcasing global travels…! Plus there was suddenly a gorgeous dress – and it took me a while to realise what had inspired that fabric – my own kaftan bought when I worked with the YPO in Saudi Arabia that she had seen in our dropbox folder! See below.

Brand alignment
I LOVED IT – and at the same time I had to tap into the fact that my brand is all about simplicity, minimalistic, decluttering, lightness and space. The gorgeous background scene was just waaaaaaay too busy for my book cover. Covers have to speak volumes in terms of the actual genre and the essential message of the book and also work as a thumbnail image on Amazon / online. I double-checked my thinking with my awesome, long-standing designer, Megan from Megan Barber Designs who would be pulling it all together and designing the full final cover. She 100% confirmed my initial thinking -too busy for me and what the book portrays as its core message. Darn.

Shannan was SO easy to work with and never took anything I said about the design personally. We discussed how could we pare it down but still keep the look and feel elements. Then, off she would go to re-draw. We went back and forth about what made it cluttered.

Was it simply the placement of the water and what if it was on the opposite side of the image? No.
Was it too much busy-ness in the café scene? Yes.
Was there just too much of the background in general? Yes.
But did I love the skyline? Oh yes!
Sleeping kitty? Definitely yes!

So for about 48 hours we went back and forth and then realised we could take the elements of the skyline buildings and use them on the BACK cover eventually. The cat could still appear lazing on the chair, the background could be all B/W line drawings on white to reduce the visual noise, and we totally pared down the café elements. Below are the final elements we went with – clean and simple! Spot the kitty, vino and coffee! Also, the way Shannan “doodled” it, it could be any cafe anywhere in the world, rather than location-specific, right?!

Maybe you will meet for coffee in Greece, Italy, Spain, Canada, Franschoek?

I was, and am, totally smitten with my cover!!!

Power of feedback:
I was about to sign the image off when I paused for a moment and showed it to Sarah, my honest business partner I mentioned earlier. While I was knee-deep in publishing this book, she was on a massive deadline ghostwriting a celebrity memoir. I had not shown her anything up to that point. She said, “Kate, this is absolutely amazing BUT you just look too young. You and all the other nomads you interviewed are all over 40 – but ‘you’ look 20.”

Oops – I hadn’t even realized this, as I was just so starry-eyed. Some appropriate lines were added to show my realistic laugh lines and creases, but still keeping the whole look light and bright. It just made it more authentic! Below is a close-up screenshot:) Great way to see the heart and stars I told you about too. The power of objective feedback from others is vital in any book process! To that end, we even have what we call “Feedback Friday’s” for writers in our community to get objective eyes.

Shannan gave me all the final versions required for the designer, payment was made and the next design step kicked in.

Final book cover
Next, I moved onto the elements I understand really well, that of the final cover design. There are always two parts to consider for a book cover
1. The eBook version that only requires the front cover image
2. The printed paperback version requires a full back, front and spine for the cover.

I knew the eBook cover could NOT contain the skyline buildings element and was cool with that. Megan sent through several initial options of fonts and design for the title, subtitle, and author name. I loved 90% of them, which made it a bit harder to choose. Go back to what matters – the fonts and design have to elevate the illustration and speak to your brand elements, but also be super legible and speak to the buyer/reader!

It all has to work as ONE beautiful cover that tells a story.

I loved seeing the skyline elements come to life on the final cover design, but nothing beats getting the first book IN your paws and being able to see it in front of your eyes. For me as an author that is one of the best moments in life. Unwrapping your book for the first time!

I have had such wonderful responses to the cover – everyone just loves the energy it gives off. I am so pleased I spent the time and money gifting myself this- it was fun and I feel it showcases the content of the book alongside my brand motto. If you know anyone who wants some inspiration to pack up, live light, and figure out how to work around the world, you can grab the book here on Amazon and 10% of all sales are donated to the wonderful company called The Future Forest Company, and all sales help plant trees on the island of Mull, West Coast Scotland

What are YOU going to do with your book cover to help it fly off the shelves when the time comes?

Fancy joining us on a Writing Retreat?
If you want to join us on a writing retreat somewhere in the world, take a look here. We host them in Greece, Italy, Spain, Scotland, South Africa and Italy – yes, we are gearing up for some safe travels this year!

Hope to meet you soon,
Love Kate

P.S What is a scamp?
Well to put it simply, a scamp is a drawing, or sketch of an idea. These, are created to bring to life and visualise your idea and share them with others. Now a scamp can be a quick idea you had in a coffee shop, a simple doodle on a handkerchief, or a full blow colour work of art. Scamps are used in the industry to communicate an idea, and depending on how much you want to communicate you can draw your scamp accordingly. My experience with scamps is to draw out a design, or composition where it is passed on to other design professionals like a photographer who will use the scamp as a reference to get the right angle or a picture close to what I want that will work in the main design. I may have to sketch a magazine layout, or paper fold idea to get sign-off from a creative director or client. Thanks to https://garethdavidstudio.com/

Do you have “lockdown-level-envy?” I do!

By Uncategorized

Who else out there is having a really tough time round about now?
It’s not just me, is it?

Are you also battling the harsh reality and effects of perceived and real lack of freedom, huge loss of income, battling to stay inspired and hopeful about future work and travel, grieving the loss of your loved ones, or desperate from the lack of personal touch and being able to hug even family and friends? I am personally finding it much, much harder now, a year since the first lockdown (and contracting Covid in march 2020). I also have friends and clients all over the world, especially with working and traveling globally #LocationFree for the last 5 years, and so I get to hear firsthand about the different countries in different levels of lockdown. And some countries just seem to be skipping to the next level of new normality and relative freedom – I found it a lot easier when we were ALL in the first lockdown together! Even though it was always a case of “same storm different boat”, I welcomed the same storm scenario in some weird way. That total peace and quiet we experienced externally as the earth was breathing from lack of people moving, airplanes dashing across the sky, cars commuting, and hectic life from us consumer-type humans. But this time feels different.

Every time I speak to my peeps in South Africa, or as far afield as Costa Rica – it’s all about parties, gatherings, lunches, beaches and life pretty much as usual (perhaps with masks on), even if they can’t sometimes buy booze on the weekends. It’s the social component I am longing for! Or other countries where the lockdown is allowing social gatherings or restaurants re-opening once again.

I find myself feeling a little envious.
A lot envious!
It even feels awful admitting it to myself.
You made your bed, now lie in it, Kate.
Yes, yes, I know I am in the country I am in and shouldn’t be looking longingly at anyone else – but I am!
There, I said it.

I miss my usual 4 times a year ‘fix’ of seeing my close friends down south, reconnecting and replenishing at so many levels and visiting my favourite hairdresser and dentist. Lack of freedom and life with this virus has clipped my gallivanting #LocationFree wings. I realise just how much of my nomadic life is about connecting in coffee shops with total strangers when we smile and say hello (or bonjour, buenos dias or kalimera) or how a short chat at the deli counter fills my soul with love. Petting cats and dogs is also a great stress reliever for me – and one of the reasons I have often housesit animals on my travels to get that welcome dose of four-paw love. But I even feel like people don’t want you to stroke their animals out of fear at the moment. And I don’t do fear.

So I am doing grief instead.
Layers of grief.
Are you grieving too?

I’m just laying a bit low for now – and that’s ok.
Is that what you need to do too?
To let yourself off the hook a while, stop comparing yourself to everyone else that “appears” to have it all together, running 20 different masterclasses, or launching two new businesses, acing their ab workouts or or or…..
I’m resting and hibernating a bit from the world of clients and too much social media and trying my level best not to let my emotions and modd fester.

I describe so much of how I love to connect into new communities in my book “10 Lessons for Living #LocationFree” but I am prevented from those sweet interactions for the time being. That loss of connection had hit hard and dtruck deep. We have also just taken our Italian Writing Retreat off the radar for this year and moved it to 2022. Eugh. I am so acutely aware that I am greatly soothed and inspired by having things to look forward to, as it actually helps me live more in the present somehow. But this endless stream of – “not sure what and when” is taking its toll on my mental health.

So as ridiculous as it sounds, I admit I have “lockdown-level-envy” while trying to hold it all together where I am. I don’t have it all sorted at the moment, and am muddling my way through messy life. How about you? I’m on the one day at a time, scale. In fact, it’s one hour at a time – one day is sometimes too long. Without trying to drop into the world of self-pity, victimhood or be caught up in the continuous web of despair, I also just know I have to admit I have been having a darn tough time. Getting into bouts of depression, lack of hope and feeling isolated is not entirely new to me – but this one seems to be lingering longer and deeper than I can usually handle. Freedom and connection are two of my highest values, so I feel that is the one hitting me the hardest – I strive to find the freedom within, as opposed to outside of myself.

I have recently been waiting for a work contract to start, and spent a couple of weeks on my own in London in a friend’s flat. Totally spoiled to have that gorgeous space overlooking the river and it made my nomadic heart super happy! I spent about four hours every day walking the length and breadth of the Thames – spectacular and inspirational. But … I was also lonely and missing real connection. I reached out to many people, but isolation and covid restrictions are still very strict here in the UK. It’s just the factual reality. I finally met safely with one willing client /friend last week, the first person in the flesh for weeks, and she said she was amazed to learn that I was having a tough time …. so I am glad I shared. The next day I got to support another dear friend finalising the sale of his mom’s house after her recent passing – and that shared time as he said goodbye to her home and that chapter filled my heart.

We so often look at others and think that they are doing ok. Even if we aren’t, we assume they are. Aren’t we wired weirdly that way, as it’s simply not true. Everyone is challenged and fighting a battle of some kind, small or large – it’s also called life.

I also think that Social Media comes into play here – where all that we usually see posted is the good stuff, the fab stuff, fun and light stuff that we want and need to escape into, the inspirational stuff …. not the real, shitty, hard stuff we are all facing too. Until something massive strikes again, like the tragic murder of Sarah Everad that gives people a voice and energy again to speak up about things that matter, about the reality of what is going on for people. How we are scared, don’t feel safe. so much injustice and loss. I have learned to lean on my friends and my mum even more recently – to say I am NOT ok and need some TLC from them. I stay connected where need be and literally get through day by day. I don’t have huge bursts of inspiration or massive ideas for the future right now. Sure – I have a vision of what’s next and what is very important to me and the live I want to create up north …. but it feels far far away.

I’m just breathing in the never-ending “kak-ness” of it.
For those of you outside of South Africa, KAK is a great word, pronounced ‘kuk” not “kack” and it means “shitty and bleh” all in one. I also love it’s fellow word friend “GATVOL,” which means “fed-up or literally full-hole”.

I’ve been feeling both kak and gatvol!

So, I just want to remind you all – if you are reading this – that you are 100% enough TODAY, right now, no matter what. Even when you feel like absolute shite. My go-to-reminder the past few long weeks and months has been, “this too shall pass.” It gives me breathing space and hope. I have also been using the simple technique where you cross your hands over the front of your body and pat both of your own shoulders- it’s super calming and self-soothing if you are on your own out there! I haven’t even had the energy to do my usually beloved journalling – until I felt inspired to write this today!

And yes, here is the irony I battle with – as “kick-ass Kate” and the “Quick Shift Deva” I guess I theoretically “should” have all the coaching, mind-shifting, woop-woop techniques in the world to call on – but being honest, laying low and coping bit by bit, is what feels possible, real and authentic right now. It will shift, and my bubble of energy and inspiration WILL rise again, just as yours will.

It is a universal law.
I don’t need lots of hype and positivity right now- I’m just trying to stay out of the self-pity wallow while staying present and in touch with myself. It feels better and do-able that way.

My go-to mantra reminders and questions are currently:
This too shall pass
Everything IS going to be ok
Just breathe
What one thing can I do today? Even if that means ONE wee glass of water (hydration hydration) before I have a BIG glass of wine. Or paint my nails. Or rest again. Or stare at the river view for another hour.
Tomorrow is always another day and another fresh start.


Please drop me a line if you want to reach out – just a quick message to connect and say hi.
If you want some extra support we can book that too and I’ll show up honestly for you, ready to hear where you are at. Sometimes you need an ear with someone who isn’t pretending to have all their KAK together. But I will be able to help you see your KAK a bit clearer.

In the meantime – be kind to yourself and those you meet along your path today, mask or no mask. And for those of you enjoying relative freedom – know I am just a little darn envious right now 🙂

Love Kate
Pics from March 2021 below share some of the quiet weirdness that is London in lockdown – not many folk about on usually bustling streets, empty tubes, stores all closed up – most with Christmas decorations still left in the window.


BOOK REVIEW of 10 Lessons for Living #LocationFree by Niki Malherbe

By Insights to help you #quickshift, Transformation Journeys, Transformation Thoughts

I recently read an article on alternative lives, lives unlived or just doing things differently. The crossroads we reach at certain junctions which don’t appear to be anything like a fork in the road until we look back on it many years later and see that it was exactly that. There was a time in my life when I considered travelling solo but the timing never seemed right and it never happened. I went straight from school to tertiary to work to marriage to kids and have lived in the same location for 23 years. In fact, not only the same city but the same home! I’m lucky. Cape Town is beautiful and hard to beat.

Now approaching mid 50’s, with (same) husband, four children, three dogs, two bunnies and aging parents in the same province just five or so hours drive from my home, it’s hard to imagine living a ‘freer’ life working and travelling from different locations. (Actually, you may well be thinking, hell that’s enough to scare me to do exactly that! Run away!) And yes, in my daydreams it sometimes crosses my mind but how on earth would I get that right? For starters, what would I do with my STUFF, my clutter? My books? It’s enough to cause a tiny heart palpitation.

And so it was almost uncanny that I came across 10 Lessons for Living # LocationFree, a new book by Kate Emmerson and I’ve gobbled it up. I couldn’t wait to tuck in.

The simple uncluttered image of a glamorous woman sitting on a single suitcase on the cover and the almost ‘handbook’ type structure of clean white pages with bold headings, various fonts for ‘top tips’ at the end of each chapter kept me entirely focused for the first two hours of a beautiful day on my balcony as the sun began its daily passage.

It was almost impossible not to flick through it to scan the pages ahead. I needed to see immediately how Kate lives her life, wondering how it’s vaguely possible to reduce your life to THREE boxes and live clutter free.

The ten lessons are divided into chapters with titles such as ‘taking the plunge’, ‘doing business #LocationFree’, ‘wardrobe woes’ and ‘navigating relationships and building community’. I liked the sound of ‘The LAY Principle: Look After Yourself. In fact, I think that’s gonna be me over this holiday. Or actually the next few years. If anyone asks me what I’m doing, I’m going to tell them I’m practising the LAY principle!

But the book isn’t only about Kate’s experiences. She involves a number of like-minded people whose insights and experiences she incorporates into each chapter. It’s possible to imagine this type of living at the end of a relationship with no children or furry children but this need not be the only catalyst for a life lived differently.  

Of course, it’s all about embracing the mindset and that’s exactly where the book starts. And it ends with a helpful chapter on relevant resources and networks which are useful to start planning.

For me personally, it’s going to take a few years of school and decluttering, but Kate has written that book too entitled ‘Clear Your Clutter’ (and a few others) so that’s where I’m going to have to start.

Ten Lessons for Living #LocationFree is a book that I intend keeping close and dipping into. If not to embrace in its entirety but then who knows? It may just be the start of that life lived differently.

For now, I’m going to get away from this laptop, try to ignore the heartache and fear and pain of this bloody pandemic and embrace the life I’m living with my feet up, my family, my books and practice of the LAY principle. Once I’ve packed my clutter and hit the road!

Here are links to buy this book:

 10 Lessons for Living #LocationFree | Buy Online in South Africa | takealot.com

Amazon.com: 10 Lessons for Living #LocationFree: An insider’s guide to living and working anywhere and everywhere eBook: Emmerson, Kate, Taylor, Shannan: Kindle Store

Til 2021!

YOGA in the dark keeps me light: my daily mini #Retreat

By Food for thought, Insights to help you #quickshift, Transformation Journeys

Picture this: it’s 6 am UK winter and naturally pretty cold and pitch dark outside and …..time for my regular yoga.

I am very accustomed to getting up with the wee birdies bright and early. Historically, whenever I was in South Africa I would love to go and attend the first yoga class of the day …but ….I am no longer have access to my once-upon-a-time favourite studio doing bendy Bikram Yoga at 5.30 am.


SO I need a new way to practice NOW as we tackle Jan 202#$%^&*(*&^%.
What year is it again?

I LOVE getting up and doing something that is both exercise-full, mind-full and aligning. Depending on where I am in the world on my #LocationFree travels, it might be a walk, a cold water swim, or yoga. But I need to start my day off this way. Right now, in Jan 2021 I am figuring out how to handle this bizarre start to ’21 as I am in #lockdown with my mum in the UK again. We spent 3 months together during summer 2020 and still managed to come out laughing in the end, so we are piggy-backing on that history to stay amused as far as possible in these un-amusing times.

I have a much better sense of humour when I feel connected and strong and like I am taking care of myself from the inside out. Exercise keeps me sane! Yoga keeps me centered! What is your go-to?

So I have my little UK routine that gets me up at 6.00 am. It’s still pitch bloody dark and the thought of putting on lights just isn’t working for me. Mum is usually fast asleep, purring gently with her cat ZsaZsa, so I creep to the kitchen (super impossible for this Taurean bull) to grab some hot water, and start my yoga practice in the lounge – IN THE DARK.

Why on earth Kate? Why not flip that switch and put some darn lights on!

Well…it feels safer right now in this uncertain time:

I feel ironically held by the darkness of the world
I like the curtains drawn around me
It’s like a gentle cocoon of #calmbalm
It feels warmer and cozier
It’s emulating a little hug ( we all need those!)
It seems much quieter – ridiculous right?!
It offers me a slower, gentler wake-up each morning
I feel as if I am strengthening my body while kinda still in my sleep
It’s more soothing to my nerve endings
It feels like one of those anxiety blankets
I find it heightens my ability to tune in
It simultaneously helps me go deeper within
I feel like I have stolen the best part of the day from the sun
It’s more relaxing at every level
I seem to stretch a wee bit further
I absolutely have to focus more to stay in the challenging poses
I am sensing parts of my body rather than looking down to check alignment
I feel more in touch with my body by not “seeing” it
I also feel a bit naughty like I’m doing something in the dark, and that makes me smile.

And finding ways to smile is vital right now!

Often mum wakes up and walks through while I’m sprawled unceremoniously on the lounge floor. She’s usually chattering away to her trailing shadow that’s miaou – miaowing for breakfast and can’t see me until I squawk hello or she flips the light on. But she knows I’m usually there now if she potters through before 7am, as my little routine is locked in.

My preferred practice is always early in the morning in glorious sunrise-drenched light, each moment filled with opportunity and the creative promise of the day ahead. But right now I’m in winter, in the dark, making the most out of #lockdown. It won’t always be like this, will it? The days will shift to longer sunlight, we will at some point be let out of jail in our respective #lockdown countries and spring will surely, SURELY rear its welcome head soon. Then perhaps I will naturally whisk open the curtains and greet the dawn-kissed day again as I prepare to Om…

So what are YOU making the most of right now simply because it’s the perfect thing for this time for you, even if it’s not your norm?

Drop me a line if you try yoga in the dark, or something else equally as obscure – I always love to hear from you
Kate

PS: I have become positively obsessed with taking more and more time out and time off. Maybe you feel drawn to join me on a BESPOKE VIRTUAL RETREAT done from anywhere in the world right now, and I’ll hold the space from my dark lounge 🙂 Read more here




#LocationFree – How are global nomads coping with their wanderlust lifestyle?

By Insights to help you #quickshift, Transformational Journeys, Transformational thoughts

No one has been left unscathed, have we? We have all had to adjust, re-jig, process life, handle loss, and take stock …every single one of us? Same storm, different ship, right?

Amidst all the “stuff” going on globally, I recently listened to my heart and launched my 5th book, titled “10 Lessons for Living #LocationFree.” Originally planning to launch it much earlier, I waited until the time felt right and until I had the right energy to tackle it. I honestly feel that now, more than ever, we need to keep our dreams, ideals and possibilities ALIVE and top of mind.

Even if we are a bit stuck now, our thinking and feeling do NOT have to be stuck.

In the process of writing this book, I wanted to offer readers some varied perspectives and thus set about interviewing 16 awesome folks to get their views on living this lifestyle. When the book was released just 2 weeks ago, I really wanted to check back in and get their updates on living “LocationFree.” We are all between 40 and 60 years old, living our own version of this lifestyle all around the world. Essentially I wanted to see how the year had shaped up for them since our initial interview –  to see if they were more hellbent on continuing this vagabond lifestyle, to understand if something fundamental had shifted for them, or if perhaps world events have made them reconsider lifestyle choices related to all things #LocationFree?

#LocationFree is my preferred term, but it is often referred to as Global Nomad, Digital Nomad, Location Independent, Portable Pro, etc. The name is less important than what we live day-to-day.

I wanted to update myself, too. I have honestly had a profoundly ‘interesting’ year. I’m definitely NOT saying it was easy and straightforward, but that I dug deep and found ways to try and accept and lean into what was going on rather than resist it all. The latter option felt futile and counter-productive in every form. I contracted and tested positive for the covid lurgy back in March 2020 after hurriedly exit-ing South Africa. I was out there to launch my 4th book, “Write your Book in 100 Days,” with my business partner. We had multiple book launches and events, live interviews from some major PR rolling out. It was our chance to inspire and reconnect with all the wonderful South African writers in our community. Plus, all my annual medical appointments were booked for what might have been my last regular visit to South Africa.

As I tuned in and reacted to what was unfolding, I knew I needed to get on a plane fast, to the UK. I was due to travel via Dubai to visit a friend stationed there but decided to hotfoot it directly to the UK, just a couple of days before lockdown kicked in. After all, South Africa was officially no longer any form of “base” for me after the break up with my partner, so I didn’t fancy getting “stuck” there.

I knew I wanted to get to my mum in time for the first proposed lockdown so she wouldn’t be on her own. Well, for sanity, company, and a bit of TLC more than needing to “look after” her – she’s a super strong woman! But before being able to get to her, after testing positive for covid (I only ever experienced mild symptoms, thank goodness), I had to isolate myself for a month before it was deemed safe for me to stay with mum in her presidential home. We then ‘enjoyed’ three months of strict lockdown together. Lucky we had too much TV, laughter, wine, great food, daily walks, and I also celebrated my birthday with her. Zoom Style with friends around the world.

One of the hardest business challenges was letting go of our international Writing Retreats that were booked. It often takes folk at least a  year to decide, book, and pay for one of our retreats. Writers from all over the world were joining Sarah and me in Greece, Italy, and Spain for a total of four retreats and residencies. We had to face cancellations, field the uncertainty with massive deposits we had paid across to secure hotels, and handle the non-refundable deposit challenge. We initially postponed and shuffled dates later in 2020 in the eternal hope that we could still host them later in the year, and had clients ready to hop on planes… and then finally releasing them all in favour of 2021 dates. We “lost” some clients who couldn’t move to the new dates, and have not yet been able to start filling those spaces for 2021. That was my main income revenue down the sink. I know the entire world understands all the drastic financial challenges of the year and I am not alone in that. 

The moment it was “safe” enough to travel, and the world eased open a bit in the UK, I travelled to a wee Scottish island, Iona, for an overdue, personal and significant retreat. I had been wanting to reconnect with Iona to organise a writing retreat, so I was fulfilling two objectives. It is a very sacred isle that offers deep healing and was just what I needed. Mum was happy  (and I guess sad) to finally wave goodbye after three intense months together. The year has allowed me to live what I call a “revised version” of living location free – with restrictions and other things factored in, like everyone. I was planning on spending 2020 starting to look for my next Northern bases, so that has obviously been postponed. My heart is being pulled by the idea of setting up some version of flexible homes in both Scotland and the Mediterranean – but that will need to wait until I can travel abroad to explore that option more fully.

I am just not a ONE HOME type of gal. Any future partner I have in life needs to know that a deep love for travel and adventure is wired into my cells. But I am starting to consider a couple of bases to move between, with loads of side- travel too!

So I relished a much quieter work year. I was already planning on taking time off from running regular online writing mentorships as I needed a break from that intense type of work, and then all our summer writing retreats retreated into the distance. So I took most of the year off to be in the GAP. I stayed in quieter retreat –type mode with myself.

I embarked on an intense, personal retreat process on Iona to recalibrate again. I went offline for 3 weeks and 80% offline for a further 5 weeks. The poor wifi signal helped that switching off process. But this was not about covid. To be honest, it was more related to where I am in my life and business cycle. I needed to do a mammoth, triple-angled closing out process. One was the ending of my relationship after five years, and another was leaving South Africa, and the third closing out a few aspects of what used to make up my business. But all that was happening despite covid’s impact. You can read more about that journey here.

On Iona I also fell headlong into a fantastic new heart-based hobby with the actual “making” of books, learning the art and skill of “Book Binding” or BookArt. I am smitten and have a bag of tools, paper, ink, and waxed linen thread to lug around now. If ever you come on a retreat with me, you will be sure to make your own book from now on!

Uhmmm, yes, the irony is that my motto is #LIVELIGHTELIVELARGE, so excess clothes can get turfed out of the suitcase but my new bookmaking tools will have to stay put for this #LocationFree gal.

I am still 100% pursuing my own version of living #LocationFree, just with the added goal of looking for a couple of places to call a “base” in 2021.
Love Kate x


***Here is what some OTHER global Nomads say about how this year impacted their gallivanting lifestyle around the world. All of these amazing folk below have contributed to my latest book to offer their take on being #LocationFree.

* My global nomadship is NOT over yet! Dee
Before COVID-19 stopped us all in our tracks, I had been already considering my global footprint and thinking about how I could still travel and work as a nomad, but with more and more respect for the environment by reducing my use of fossil fuels.

Since being “stuck” at my daughter’s house since March 1st, I have had more time to contemplate my next move, and I think I will be much more mindful about the “gigs” I say yes to in terms of length. Instead of jumping from plane to plane and delivering multiple workshops or events in one week, I will spaciously alter my availability and only offer one city a week for short jobs. In addition, I’m considering “putting myself out to hire” to communities for 3-6 month, longer-term projects.

As for this crazy year, I have still felt like a “nomad” because most of my international work has continued online, but I’ve been receiving some “snail mail” at my daughter’s address where I’m staying, and I don’t like it. My daughter and friends tease me, saying, “ooh, look, you have mail!” which I vehemently deny! Haha!

I did join a gym in my daughter’s town but, I made sure it was one of the franchise-type ones that proliferate Australia so that when I’m back on the road, I can still make use of the membership.

I still live out of my suitcase. It’s on a shelf, in the cupboard, in my daughter’s spare room, and I have deliberately done very little extra shopping this year and still buy my suitcase-sized “top-ups.” All my purchases have still been with the thought that I will eventually be back on the road.

As of December 2020, bookings for work in early 2021 have started rolling in, and I’m feeling the pullback towards the actual road (not flights) that will most likely be my future for at least the next 12 months until our international borders and flights are safe again. My global nomadship is not over yet!Yours in Community, Dee

Dee Brooks is a mum of four adults and is a passionate community development practitioner and trainer with over 20 years of experience. She has been an Intentional Nomad since 2015 and has travelled and worked in over 20 countries, creating impact through capacity building and knowledge sharing. http://jeder.com.au


*What is COVID offering US in terms of new perspectives? Martin
When Covid struck, all my jobs and activities came to quite an abrupt halt. But organically, other things suddenly needed to be done. My life in a nutshell… Go with the flow, take things as they come, and run with it as best you can.

Pre-Covid, I was housesitting, hiking, travel guiding, and occasionally giving sushi workshops. When all that stopped, for my dad, who lives alone, all his support and social engagements/contacts were terminated as well. So I kind of organically transitioned into being his only daily visitor and part-time caregiver. A foundation I occasionally volunteer at was seeing a huge dip in the (mostly 55+ aged) volunteer availability, so my “whenever I can, I’ll let you know” volunteering turned into a fixed few days a week. With the rest of the time, I worked on my campervan conversion, which I was not really getting around to before Covid. So you could say that just as in life, Covid took but replaced other things in its place for me to make a difference… And no less important, it also gave me space to remember what I was passionate about and the time to work on it as well.

Looking forward, my future perspective has not changed much with Covid. I will keep living as a nomad, primarily housesitting going from place to place, alternated with some hiking travel guiding and volunteering here and there, and being a self-supporting van-lifer the rest of the time. What Covid did do, however, is make me realize how positive and stable this self-supportive lifestyle made me, as when mass-hysteria struck, I accepted it as it came and just took it in my stride.

To me, the best way to approach the whole Covid-situation is to look at what it is offering in terms of new perspectives, rethinking priorities and time away from work, commuting, and stress in favor of me-time. It is pretty much nailed on the head by this little quote by Karen Salmansohn:

You gotta look for the good in the bad, the happy in the sad, the gain in your pain, what makes you grateful, not hateful. And if there is no good in the bad, or happy in the sad, then you are put in that spot right there, right then, to help create it for yourself and the people around you…
May you be happy and well, Martin
Martin Van Den Berg is a full-time professional housesitter, capable with all animals but specialising in big or “difficult” dogs and packs. Willing to travel.
dutch.mountainman@gmail.com       https://www.facebook.com/martinvdberg73



* Will we resume nomadic life? Nancy
It was sheer coincidence that we moved into a long-term rental the day that Spain went into lockdown! A day later and we would have needed approval from the police to move, to drive elsewhere other than to the supermarket for essential supplies. My unexpected pulmonary embolism in April 2019 had stopped our travels and, due to ongoing medical treatment, necessitated us staying in Oliva for a while. As we liked it here, at the end of that year, totally unrelated to the pandemic, we decided to stay in the area longer and, in January 2020, found a new home near the sea.

Even if we had booked another Air B&B, ready to travel again, it’s unlikely we’d have been able to. As a new tenant hadn’t been secured for the townhouse we’d been renting, we would have had to stay there longer. This would have been so frustrating! I was always excited when moving-on and to have no choice but to stay would have been very hard. Instead, we could look forward to our new home close to the beach!

My online work continued despite the pandemic, and my weekdays didn’t really alter as I sat at the computer in my home-office as usual. The virus situation has definitely changed our nomadic mindset, though, and now I’m not even sure if we’ll resume our journey!

The pandemic in Europe and ever-changing border restrictions make it difficult to travel, so for now, we’ve accepted it’s necessary to stay-put. Instead of looking forward to exploring new places, we appreciate the opportunity and extra time available to visit our own area, which is very varied and beautiful. We’ve also made some friends here and, in a time when we cannot easily see family in the UK, these relationships are all the more important.

As we’ve not had to pack-up the car to move-on in a single journey, we’ve also gradually acquired more possessions and are making our current rental a ‘home.’ The more we become settled, putting down roots, it’s so much harder to consider moving away. Maybe one day we’ll revise our wanderlust, maybe not. Perhaps we’ll take holidays again instead. We’re just not dwelling on that.

Although we’ve always had a flexible attitude, this year has taught-us that absolutely anything unexpected can happen! We’re OK, and we have each other, our health, an income, and a home, so do appreciate this as never before. Kind regards, Nancy
Nancy Benn is a versatile virtual assistant with more than ten years’ experience providing efficient support to clients. Working remotely from her home office, Nancy helps entrepreneurs achieve more time and headspace to develop their business by supporting and encouraging their endeavours by providing outstanding, skilled admin and secretarial support.
www.directpaservices.co.uk         
www.nancybenn.com



*Coincidence doesn’t exist. I always believed that! Jan
What happened to this digital nomad during the Covid pandemic? I guess the same as with all the others: being stuck in one place and not moving anymore. In my case, I’m stuck in Budapest in Hungary. Coincidentally, as a Dutch citizen, I already had a house in Hungary, and I am a resident in this country. Something that, after the fact, turns out to be a good thing. I will explain, and this explanation shows once more, that coincidence doesn’t exist. It was for a reason that I got stuck here.

In February 2019, I left the Netherlands and started my digital nomad existence. South America, Spain, and South Africa. In April 2020, I ended up in a very strict lockdown in South Africa, and after three tough weeks, I was finally able to return to the Netherlands on a repatriation flight. From The Netherlands, I flew immediately to my home in eastern Hungary. It was a safe haven in these bizarre times. It was also far removed from covid, with only 2 cases known out of the 3 000 inhabitants in the village.

After a few weeks of being in Hungary, a letter fell on the mat from the Dutch authorities. They stated that with retroactive effect to February 2019 (!) I was no longer officially living in the Netherlands, that I was not allowed to continue my business there and that I was no longer insured for medical expenses.

Pay attention! With more than one year retroactive effect!

Panic! What’s next? At that time, there was only one option: I would have to live 100% as a resident in Hungary and build a new company structure with two limited companies: one in the Netherlands containing all the customers and one in Hungary where I am an employee. Subsequently, I was accepted into the Hungarian health insurance system (which is cheap, but not the world’s best) and a perfect private health insurance top-up that will enable me to be anywhere in the world and still have good insurance!

All of this turned out to be a golden solution for me as a nomad. The taxes in Hungary are the lowest in Europe, and even after my retirement in some years, the 0% income tax is Europe’s best! I am currently renting an apartment in the heart of downtown Budapest, and at the weekends I visit my house in the countryside to relax. This is truly the ideal “snob-life’ of all the Budapest-inhabitants!

Coincidence doesn’t exist. I never believed in that. But all these puzzle pieces came together so precisely into one nice new picture. So with all that happened to me, I have to admit: coincidences might just exist!

While I am stuck in Hungary for now, I spend ALL my time preparing for the future! Jan

Jan Van Kuijk has been living partly in the Netherlands and partly in Hungary for more than 10 years. The two countries finally became too small for him, and in 2018, after 15 years of preparation, he decided to travel the world as a Digital Nomad. With his work on WordPress and Joomla websites, he is generating sufficient income to live his dream.
https://digitalnomadlifestyle.nl      https://janvankuijk.nl



*Cruising (or not) with Covid – Debbie
Well, it’s been an interesting couple of months – thank you, 2020!

From being aboard ‘that ship’ which was disallowed docking in Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, and Mexico, to finally disembarking our guests in San Diego, after 29 days onboard! Our guests got an additional 15 days cruising on the house, and of course, courtesy of corona!

Then, many of us got ill and had to deal with “isolationship,” which in itself added a new dimension to both cruise life, as well and levels of sanity and productivity! Getting the South African crew repatriated back to our own country was another covid challenge, but we finally made it to home soil in June, three months after the break-out onboard our floating home. At this stage, a total of 60 days of “isolationship” had been achieved, and it is no small feat to spending that amount of time on your own in a room that is hard to pace 10 steps without having to stop dead!

Since then, the waiting to return to what we love has taken its toll in various forms, forcing many to find alternative employment sources. I have kept myself busy by doing some ‘self-reflection and tweaking,’ a vital step to recalibrating and accessing what makes it out of the covid crisis with you and what needs to be resolved and rested!

I have decided to study a diploma in HR to be better equipped in my line of work and where I see myself adding relevance; making memories with my family, and building a legacy in my gorgeous granddaughter’s life while watching the world continue to be crazed about vaccines and searching for new normals!

Living life #LocationFree post-covid will have its own set of challenges, but I am hopeful that we will be traveling and impacting more lives in the near future! Remember at this time, to be kind – to those who don’t understand or think the way you do, and it’s OK to be different – after all, that’s what it takes to live #LocationFree. Love Debbie

Debbie Botha courageously leapt at the chance to travel and showcase her training development, coaching, negotiation, and change- management skills within the world of cruising. She now wears officer stripes on her shoulders and a smile on her face as she explores international waters is studying HR, dabbles in Bitcoin, and revels in being a nurturing Nana.
linkedin.com/in/debbiebothaglobal        Instagram: @debbiebothaofficial




*Life Has Shifted A Little – Chris and Jillian
We had moved places in Morocco a few times. We had decided that we needed our own space after two and a half months in the hostel we were painting in, and we moved into an apartment in Tinghir. Shortly after we moved into our new place, the lockdown was lifted. And even though we were some of the only foreigners around, we weren’t being hassled too much to come and buy things.

We moved out to Rissani after two weeks, which was located at the edge of the Sahara. The roads were now just starting to open up for people to move between towns and cities. After a few weeks there, we read a news headline saying that all foreigners had to leave Morocco by August 10th. We then decided that we wanted to spend some time on the coast, so off we went to Essaouira.

We ended up renting an Airbnb for a really good discounted price inside the medina. There were still very few tourists around, and we were getting hassled by more people to come and buy things. We had booked a flight to leave on the 8th, and a few days before the day, the flight was canceled. We then read more information about needing to leave and found out that it was fake news and didn’t need to go.

We rented the place for two more months, and it was nice to have our own space and work on our own projects. The owner of the Airbnb had upgraded the wifi to accommodate our needs, and we accomplished a lot of much needed online work. The locals’ mood had dropped, and eventually, we had started to see drunk people in the day fist fighting at random times. This was not normal, so we felt that it was time to go.

We booked a direct flight to Turkey, and we travelled to Casablanca to exit the country. There were not many people in the airport, which made the experience one of the easiest times we’ve had travelling. We were told that we would expect to get tested for Covid when we arrived at the airport, this didn’t happen. We were also told that we would expect to get tested when we arrived in Turkey, this didn’t happen either. Turkey was open, and everything was business as usual. In the last two weeks here, the Turkish government has started implementing some restrictions. Restaurants are closed except for takeout, a weeknight curfew of 8:00, and everything except grocery stores are closed over the weekends.

We have no doubt in our minds that this is the only way we can live our lives. Travel has probably changed forever due to Covid, but we will deal with it. We won’t be returning to conventional life, and we find too much happiness in this way of life

Chris de Cap I’ve been an artist my whole life, more than half of which as a tattoo artist. I spent the bulk of my adult life being nomadic, however, mostly in Canada. Now I’ve taken my nomadic habits out into the world.
http://www.artisticvoyages.com/       
www.instagram.com/artisticvoyages


*Clearing the decks and learning what it means to be resilient
I feel like 2020 is the year that we were all forced to stop, take a deep breath, and look at how we are living. The word that kept coming up for me this year was resilience.

Here in Spain, we experienced one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe and in a city like Malaga where we are used to being active and social life quickly started to feel a little surreal. I remember saying to friends that it felt like I was living in a Netflix movie. Deserted streets, no noise or energy.

There is a thriving community of entrepreneurs and freelancers in the city and I organise a co-working meet-up. I remember our last in-person event just before the lockdown happened. I don’t think anyone realised just what was coming! After that, we took the meet-ups online like many events and it proved a great way to stay connected and motivated when we weren’t able to meet up in person. I launched my first retreat in October at an amazing venue called Vega House. This was one of my big goals for 2020 and after nearly a year of putting things on hold, I was determined to make it happen.

I have experienced lots of personal and professional shifts this year and it feels like it has been a bit of a baptism of fire. I know I have learned to be more present in how I live. I have become much more conscious of time and not wasting it this year. This has affected my relationships, friendships and priorities as a whole.

I had planned to do more international travel this year and instead found that there was so much more on my doorstep than I had realised to explore and appreciate. Slowing down and living with restrictions has helped me and I am sure others to find joy in unexpected places. I think I am going into 2021 with a renewed sense of optimism around what is possible for me. I am focusing on staying grounded and appreciating the here and now.

Victoria Jane Watson is a business and media mentor working with female entrepreneurs leading the way in the health and wellness industry. She gets to the heart of what makes her clients unique, showing them how to leverage their story and expertise effectively so they can build a personal brand that supports their business goals.
www.victoriajanewatson.com   Instagram: @victoriajanewatson


“10 Lessons for Living #LocationFree” is available on all Amazon stores

Search under the title or by using:

Print ISBN: 978-0-620-90868-9

Digital ASIN: B08P7FQ94G

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Musings of a Café Writer living #LocationFree

By Uncategorized

Living #LocationFree for the past 5 years is often met with wide eyes, scrunched up noses, and some weird questions. I know it might sound like nothing more than terrifyingly homeless mixed with exhilaratingly glamour-filled champagne parties on yachts, Instagram style.

It honestly falls somewhere smack between these two extremes.

While it may be very real that digital nomads (aka global nomads, remote workers, location free, etc.) might not have one permanent base to call “home,” we are certainly not “homeless.” We have a gazillion ways we each live into this lifestyle, and we can pretty much make it up as we go along – if we don’t like somewhere, we can move on to more suitable spaces, cities, countries (Covid and visa/passport reliant of course). Plus, folk living this lifestyle are not doing so because they have zero responsibilities, no partners, kids, animals, etc. – we are all working and contributing to society in some format. We have just figured out the best way to earn the required dollars en route – whether working remotely for a company, working in the digital online space, working in the country they are in, running global companies, have property investments, Bitcoin, or business investors – any type of work is possible, to be honest! The worklist is as varied as your creative brain allows … with the added benefit of freedom from a location.
Of course, we sleep in beds too! Whether in fancy hotels, rented homes, snazzy apartments, Airbnb options, co-living, house-sitting, or any combo of the above. What binds us together as a tribe is that we are not bound to one location for work or life. There is a sense of freedom, mobility, choice, and possibility!

Possibility of options, countries, cultures, environments, lifestyle, etc

Right now, I’m chilling in a quaint café on the prom of Portobello (see pic taken at Miros <<<) with the quieter than usual buzz and banter as “we-are-in-weird-lockdown-life-but-still-allowed-out” vibe. I’ll soon be self-isolating again before I make my way to my mum in the UK for Christmas, so I am making the most of a little thrill of being outdoors at Edinburgh’s Seaside. There is a delicious light shimmering off the sea and bouncing off the clouds, reflecting the changes in the sun as we edge towards winter solstice. After 7 years of spending most of my time in summer or what travel agents refer to as shoulder seasons, I am fondly referring to my current city of choice as Edinburrrrrrr.

Remember my cold water swimming escapades on Iona that I shared earlier this year? I will manage one more cold dip this month, which means I will have been cold water immersing for 6 whole months! I didn’t even know that I wanted to try it before starting my significant retreat and detox process on Iona. I’m still in a bikini with no warm booties, gloves, or wetsuits like many swimmers – just keeping it real and semi mad. Even if my swims are super short -they still count as a cold water blitz of energy and immune-boosting habit!

 

This week, I launched my fifth book, and I feel like a kid in a Christmas Santa store, to be honest. It’s some insights, sharing, and tips from living the last 5 years #LocationFree. I also interviewed 16 other souls (between 40 and 60 years of age) living in similar ways to me. It’s a super exciting collection of tips snd stories for anyone who is intrigued about the possibility of downsizing, packing up, and living and working globally.

One of my all-time favourite things to do when I travel is sitting in a café or restaurant on a beach somewhere – from Malaga to San Fran, Cape Town to Skala Eressos. I simply need my laptop and a strong coffee or a fab glass of vino, depending on the time of day. And always water – and usually a kitty somewhere close by. I seem to attract them and consider myself a bit of a cat-whisperer.
Did you spot the content kitty on my book cover?

There is an element of pure delight that is elicited when I can look up from my computer and see water – waves, sand, pebbles, sheep munching seaweed (yes 100% on Iona!), people laughing, kids playing, folk squealing in the waves and that heady aroma of sun, sand, sea, and sun-lotion. Or the smell of rain mixed into it more often than not, here in Edinburrrrr.

I find myself in this glorious city for most of winter 2020, exploring somewhere North. I am still officially #LocationFree and will be for the foreseeable future. I was only planning to be location free for one year, to figure out what country I wanted to live in, but it turns out it’s been too much fun, and here I am five years later.

Ooooh, the cafes you will find when not in your hometown. From dingy and downright skanky, to glamorous, elegant, and exotic; to simple family-run salt of the earth to trendy hipster vibes with a gazillion delicious choices; or the simple paired back local café that only serves one type of coffee and eggs – just the way you like them: the smells, the chalkboards, the conversations, and the locals. The cakes and the decadent treats made with love – from the latest LA trend to grandma’s secret pistachio and rose water recipe. A café is always filled with possibility – and is still the first place I seek out to feel like a “local” in a new spot. It’s one of my “settling-in” hacks I share in my book “10 Lessons for Living #locationFree

So I find myself with a big grin on my chops as I own the fact that I am a café writer. It can be a table on a busy cobbled street, a hotel lobby with glorious views of the pool, a tiny spot perched precariously on a hill, or my all-time favourite, seaside café!. Anywhere in the world, this will put always put a smile on my face.

If there is some Latin Salsa or Bachata music drifting out of the speakers even better, offering the quiet promise of a party as day turns to night….that will always make me type faster and get through my workload ready to pop on my salsa shoes and have a whirl on the floor.

I don’t even need earphones, really –in fact, my ears always get sore trying to wear earphones, no matter the brand or style! I usually welcome the buzz around me and find ways to switch off when I need to focus.

I have amassed a few “offices’ around the world that I have stamped my name on. To this day, there is one table at Gialos on Skala Eressos where we run writing retreats, which is known as Kate’s office. Although I didn’t get to work there in 2020, I know it is waiting patiently for me 2021. I am usually sitting at my “desk” by 6 am before the rest of the sleeping Greek village stirs. While the restaurant is still being cleaned and set up for the day – George will even stop his daily prep to bring me a double greek Coffee. Or as we order there – ena diplo hellenico para kalor!

PIC: This one below taken at my “office” Gialos in Skala Eressos when the world cup was on (and my Argentinean partner at the time was in Russia supporting his team) 

It’s always about the views, to be honest. I find vistas open up my creativity and thinking. Sea trumps everything for me – being able to sit outside and feel the sunshine and breeze is high on my list of needs. When not working, I also love to be a fly on the wall, simply watching people. I can make up stories in my head ad Infinitum. Travelling a lot on my own, I also love to smile and then connect, laugh, and chat with total strangers. It’s bizarrely natural for me to make random comments and speak to people I walk past or sit next to. I will always talk to cats and dogs and stop owners for a cuddle of their four-paws if allowed. I guess that’s why I have found it relatively easy to be location free. What’s the point in staying separate and cut off from others– even when communicating from behind a mask nowadays, we can still connect energetically and with a twinkle in our eyes.

 

PIC – The awesome Malaga crew where I pulled together a writing group and started my book 10 Lessons for Living #locationFree exactly one year ago!! Note the lovely views right on the sea! 

Wi-Fi is surprisingly not always high on my agenda, as I prefer working offline with fewer distractions when in writing/blogging mode. In fact, I will often choose cafes that do NOT have Wi-Fi – especially if I am running a writing group – as that just distracts everyone.

My challenge to you today is to visit a local café and watch the world unfold around you! Make it an adventure if you haven’t done it for a while. Take your laptop, a great book, or your journal to pen some thoughts. Let me know what you find on your café outing – I’d love to hear what great conversations you engage in or inspired ideas you come up with when sitting with a different view.

A dear friend just sent me this on Whatsapp this morning – so I will do my level best to simply keep on writing from my heart wherever I am. I just have to. What about you?

“Advice? I don’t have advice. Stop aspiring and start writing. If you’re writing, you’re a writer. Write like you’re a goddamn death row inmate, and the governor is out of the country, and there’s no chance for a pardon. Write like you’re clinging to the edge of a cliff, white knuckles, on your last breath, and you’ve got just one last thing to say, like you’re a bird flying over us and you can see everything, and please, for God’s sake, tell us something that will save us from ourselves. Take a deep breath and tell us your deepest, darkest secret, so we can wipe our brow and know that we’re not alone. Write like you have a message from the king. Or don’t. Who knows, maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have to.” Alan W Watts

WANT SOME INSPIRATION ABOUT POSSIBILITY?
GRAB MY BRAND NEW BOOK  10 Lessons for Living #LocationFree 

Do you wish you had the courage to follow your dream, to quench your wanderlust? To downsize, pack light and explore the world while still working? Do you honestly think others are able do it because they’re younger, richer, are single and have fewer responsibilities, with no kids to tag along?

Wrong. That’s simply not true. This book will show you that it’s possible no matter what your age! Do you really want to play it safe just because you’re no longer in your twenties, waiting on tables as you backpack around the world?

Honoring the Call of Closure

By Insights to help you #quickshift, Transformational Journeys, Transformational thoughts

Honoring the Call of Closure

A pilgrimage to the heart of the lonely gap that exists between
NO LONGER … and … NOT YET.

If you find yourself reading this post, then you probably already know me and my work and want to know what I have been up to, or someone has suggested you come and read it. Don’t curse them when you see the length – they have their reason and must love you enough to give you this nudge along your path. If you want the shortened Haiku (5-7-5) version so you can get the gist and move on with your day – here goes:

Pause and honor life

Connect to the sacred pulse

Embrace threads of love

This blog is a bit (well um, a lot) longer than normal, so grab a cuppa’ or a tall glass of something delicious to drink, and come walk with me for a wee while.

We are off to a remote island…on a pilgrimage. Not an island holiday – but a deep immersion to challenge life head-on, and to be curious about what I might find there. Scary as hell, but exciting as heck.

I would like to mention right up front that this feels like a deeply personal sharing. I feel called to document and attempt to do justice to the mammoth journey I have recently immersed in. While I tackle everything I embark on in life with mindful awareness, (along with a massive dose of salt and humor), this one has been exceptionally profound. Trust your gut whether to read on or not…

I guess it’s the layered convergence of a few things: the location I journeyed to for my pilgrimage, what I came to do and why, and the timing of it. I’m not simply referring to July 2020, stuck with the rest of the world before, during and after the ‘easing up” of restrictions, but more so from a personal juncture in my life and all the threads that were weaving together at this time. Or more accurately the threads that were “un-raveling and un-weaving simultaneously” at 52 years old.

 

There are two forms of courage in this world. One that demands we jump into action with our armor on. The other demands that we strip ourselves bare-naked and surrender. Bravery

is a curious thing. Jeff Brown

 

#The Quiet Beckons

Are you perhaps there right now and also needing to stop a while to sit with the un-weavings in your life?

These moments in time are what many traditions call ‘initiations’. A time to walk through the doorway of personal transformation. A new chapter. To re-evaluate. Reset. To go into the cave no matter what you find there. Many loosely refer to this a time of retreat (but some folk think that a retreat is simply a time of rest in a lovely setting – that is a holiday). When these particular times beckon us, we have to go directly INTO the fire in order to be transformed. There is no walking around it. No pussyfooting or side-stepping. Perhaps for a while, you can ignore or pause it. But not indefinitely, as the rumble and rattle of the call will inch deeper and deeper into your cells, relentlessly. If repeatedly put off, then life will figure a way to throw you down in your own tracks in order to get your attention. It could be in the way of illness, death, divorce, financial ruin, being retrenched, or global scale disasters – hello virus. A lot of the time it just feels overwhelmingly scary, inappropriately timed and miraculously something else will just win the battle for priority. For now!

Lack of money, time-poor, kids’ demands, partner’s needs, work obligations and our inner voice protesting that we cannot possibly indulge in and follow the call to ”take time out”. I have often looked on enviously at those who live more within the tradition of wise cultures, where ceremony and ritual is embedded into their lives and they follow the rhythm of nature, seasons and sun, moon cycles every day. I have tried, somewhat unsuccessfully I might add, to create that for myself over the years. To carve out time to immerse in things that matter to me. To live closer to the rhythm of life. To create a little “altar” of things that matter to me when I travel. To wake up with the sun in my room and sleep early. But I have also spent five years of summers in a row, never getting the quieter rest time of winter, which can play havoc with circadian cycles. Sometimes I try and follow daily rhythm because it’s the only thing I know how to do. At other times I have been led into that journey of remembering by someone else on my path – be it partner, friend or teacher.

#My Travelling Altar

I know this for sure, we are all here to evolve, expand, learn and transform. The flip side means that it also requires the polar opposite to close out, let go, contract and move on. We need both these sides of the spectrum to fully embrace and live our highest life.

I heeded the call.

I embarked on a solo pilgrimage to a minute, remote island called Iona. It’s really a wee rock at just 1.5 miles by 3 miles where only residents are allowed cars. You can’t even walk all the circumference of the island, as it is so wild, craggy and difficult in places. With only 120 or so permanent residents who brave life all year round, this swells massively to about 175 000 pilgrims and visitors annually (not in Covid times of course). Some visit for just a few hours between ferry crossings from Mull, just time enough to walk the ancient path from pier to the Abbey that dominates the landscape – to taste the wild isle and stand awestruck in front of the carved Celtic crosses or visit King’s graves. Perhaps be lucky enough to grab the famous cream tea at the Argyll Hotel, or stare at the Sound of Iona scanning for dolphins and seals from the St Columba’s garden tables, munching an organic salad and local “hogget” burger. Nowadays you can even rent a lovely bike. Ha-ha – be warned – they have no gears and you have to backpedal to break, but you get the hang of it pretty fast and it’s a total delight to wheel past the shore and explore the island.

 

But for these day-trippers it’s more of a fleeting visit to tick off the bucket list. It may plant the seed to promise to return … one day. But it in no ways allows you to soak up the healing energy here. One of my favorite times of day is when the last ferry has backed off the pier and you can feel the island exhale and settle into its silent womb again. Everyone you see from then on has the privilege of staying put for the night.

#Carved Crosses Loom in the Landscape

A warm envelope of quiet love and immense possibility descends.
Such is the lure of this sacred isle. A wee isle with monumental power. Within the wild elementals of this ancient Celtic land with deep Christian roots, it is said that the “veil between the two worlds is very thin”. Meaning you always feel more closely connected to the spiritual world here. It feels more accessible no matter how disconnected you are when you arrive. If you have never heard of Iona, I lovingly laugh and mean no disrespect when I say it’s the “ass-end of nowhere”, whereas in actual fact it feels like the center of the universe to those of us who venture here. You usually feel “called” to visit to be honest, as you don’t just happen upon this island one day. Getting here is somewhat of a mammoth pilgrimage all in itself. Part of the shedding process of the external skin.

 

When the ancient mystery of Iona has beckoned, the journey starts the moment you make the decision to answer that call. The energy starts weaving from that point on. But when you first set physical eyes upon it from the pier at Fionnphort on the Ross of Mull – it’s easy to feel a bit let down and disappointed. SO SMALL? That’s it? This is what I traveled all this way for? Mmm – don’t be so easily fooled by appearances.

 

When you have rested your weary head under these stars, it’s impossible to leave as the
same person that arrived. Ever!

 

So I have penned this blog for heartfelt personal reasons, as a way to capture some essence of this recent experience for myself. Firstly to inform myself by writing it down, which creates another layer of processing it all and living it again. And secondly, if by reading it, you too happen to be inspired to embark on a similar kind of pilgrimage or retreat process one day, or this becomes your beckoning call to Iona– then how lovely will that be for both of us?

 

To put my experience bluntly – I feel like a snake that has shed a few skins.

 

I think I look the same, sound the same, walk the same, laugh the same and eat and drink just as much as ever, but I FEEL different. The old adage of “pull yourself towards yourself lass” rings in my ears and my heart. That was the point after all. I have not been on some massive diet, makeover or had a new photoshoot. Quite the opposite to be honest as it’s been a deep-dive journey into the cave of CLOSURE. Wild, windswept hair, zero make-up most days, crying, laughing, dancing, singing to recently shawn sheep and mostly sitting, staring at the splendid views and …being. Finding a spot to plonk down and do what I came to do. The inner work. Usually clad with about 5 layers of clothes on for all sorts of rapidly changing weather. A vest, gym top, jacket, gilet-puffer and a supposedly waterproof outer later. (Yes mum, it isn’t quite doing its job and I’m often a cold, wet mess). The next minute I’ll be stripped down to my vest only, and then it’s all piled back on again in a flash. Plenty of workouts in that process, at least ten times day!

 

I had one directive – do the inner work in rain, gales or shine. A three-week gap. I needed to get away with myself, to be by myself, to fall in love with myself again. There was a much deeper purpose to this specific retreat.

I had found myself in the challenging place of NO LONGER …but…NOT YET!

 

My watchful #AngelOwl 

What do you say when someone asks you what you “do”, and you no longer love most of what once brought you deep joy, satisfaction and energy? When you feel that even as the words come out your mouth it’s confusing because there are so many facets to what you do? I was watching and witnessing words come out my mouth that simply didn’t resonate with me anymore. Over the years, my business has at different times been very niched, then morphed and generalized, only to be re-niched and rebranded again, then generalized ad Infinitum. I understand that the natural expansion and contraction of business emulates nature. And here I was at the point of needing to contract once again.

 

 

 

Consciously contract.
The bigger the expansion, the bigger the contraction, right?

I was starting to feel increasingly confused by myself; too fragmented, disjointed and discombobulated. Honestly, a bit bored of my work, myself and a little disinterested in life. It’s a real killer for me to confess that. I was all over the place both literally and figuratively and just way too busy. But busy with what exactly? There were immense pockets of joy and delight too – don’t get me wrong. It was just that whenever I “hovered” over my life and looked in from the outside, I knew that it was NOT what I wanted to be feeling, doing or living into anymore. Something was shifting but I hadn’t caught up with myself yet.

 

I truly believe that just because you ONCE loved doing something, loved your work/career/business, loved a home, or your country, loved another person, etc., that it doesn’t mean you still do love it. Or even if you do still love it now, it doesn’t automatically mean that you always will feel the same way in the future. Yet we want to hold onto that idea for some reason.

Never letting go.

Fear of moving on.

Hold on tight now.

 

That realization that you once DID love it in past tense doesn’t make it wrong that you no longer do love it. Or that it was a waste of time or a bad decision.
What if it simply means you no longer love what you once did? Just because you are brilliant at something doesn’t mean you still love to do it. What if that “thing” has just run its course, had its time, done its job and now it’s an opportunity to move on. Can it hold the space of both – you used to love it and simply no longer do. Except it never feels that simple as we have to dismantle it all somehow. Piece by piece.

 

It’s time to embrace the gap that exists after “no longer?” And the only way we finally reach the
gap is to honor the parts that are no longer.

 

But that’s quite difficult to explain to other folk. Even more so at this specific time in our collective, worldwide experience of the pandemic. Such horrid pain, brutal economic crisis, people’s lives falling apart or lives ending in greater numbers right now. Where the current feeling and directive is that we should be bloody grateful for any work we have and do what we can to keep it, right?

 

Definitely NOT a time to be choosing, re-evaluating, assessing life and not working as much. It’s the time to HOLD ON and sit tight. Or what if this is THE PERFECT TIME because of it?

 

More so than ever I feel we are being called to live into our truth, our dreams, our yearnings and what makes our hearts sing. To do what we can to pursue our passions and find a way to need less stuff along the way. You got that lesson from Covid right? How much of the nonsense we consume and buy has not much meaning after all –and in fact family, health, connection, and heart stuff is what really matters? Can we finally need less stuff, but choose to experience life more?

 

I appreciate that right now many folk are up against the wall trying to make ends meet, or fight for their lives. Do more, earn more, feed families, and handle heartache of separation and losing jobs.

We are holding on, digging deep, and sitting tight. Panicking. Feeling deep pain and loss.

But I often choose to go against the grain – or let’s rather say that it chooses me. As much as I feel I too should be “panicking” or anxious about what is next, what is my work going to look like, where in the world is next, will a partner come along, will I ever afford to buy a home in a Euro-based economy after South Africa and how am I going to survive if I am walking away from so much I have done for the past 17 years. Those are real fears to face head-on. But still, this nagging idea of just taking time to do the work would not leave me alone.

 

#Prayer

After being in lockdown for four months (and dealing with testing positive for Covid where I got off lightly to be honest, with just a few days of symptoms) it was time to follow this call as soon as the opportunity arose. So although I had been on forced pause along with the rest of the world, I needed a more intentional pause. I just needed to go into the cave and immerse.

I am acutely aware that the idea of taking time off might seem very self-indulgent to you – but to me it was actually a matter of sanity. Because doing this retreat and pilgrimage was not the easy option! The easy option would have been to stay hunkered down with my mum, eat delicious food and quaff vino, kick back into gear and start a new project, coaching clients, launch the next online mentorship and get cracking with booking people on our retreats for 2021. I can manufacture energy and enthusiasm to get back up, get busy and soldier on the same as always. To keep at it, be productive and out there. That’s the easier, more common choice. It always has been for me. So that left me in a quandary as over the past few years it has left me feeling flatter and flatter every time. My nickname has been KickassKate for many years – but I no longer felt like kicking my own ass into gear, or anyone else’s for that matter.

Where does that leave me, or you?

I wanted to feel the JOY and energy and be IN LOVE with all of my life again. To feel the sparkle in my eyes burst out of my body – when the truth was that was NOT how I was feeling. I was wading through sludge. A personal bog like the peaty ones here on the island. The words that were coming to me more and more, in sleep and wake, were simply …

I’m DONE!

 

KickassKate  – NOT. Kate was tired and burnt out. No more to give to clients – what used to be my soothing balm (aka work) was just not soothing for me anymore. Dammit. I knew in my soul that I was no longer in love with all I had created, but I wanted to find a way to honor it all and take with me the parts and aspects that I DO still love.

I didn’t want to throw the proverbial baby out with the murky bathwater.

That’s why most folk don’t do it. In fact, for about three years on and off I hadn’t been doing it. I’d been tinkering with it – but not immersing. I had been feeling it, needing it, yearning for it, but not quite yet doing it all. I activated some aspects of contracting (vs. expanding) and saying NO – like selling off one part of my business to a beautiful client who is loving it all into better existence again. Or by deciding not to re-certify with an international organization to deliver their material. A tough one, as I love the organization and it had afforded me some incredible experiences around the world by running high-end retreats for their forums, or doing 5-star events with them. I was also “contracting” by not taking on as many coaching clients and referring them out to trusted colleagues. But it didn’t feel drastic enough and I didn’t love enough of the elements I was still choosing to keep in my busy work bundle. And there was the other stuff going on for me too… that’s life!

 

MY LIFE WAS COLLIDING…

  1. I desperately needed to re-look my business and work passion
  2. It was time to embrace no longer being part of a “we” and facing life in a new country as an “I” – a real rift in identity.
  3. I was bidding farewell to the Rainbow Nation country that gifted me a beautiful home since the age of 3.

 

#Double Rainbow Prayer

In other words, I needed to shed a few different skins all at once. A somewhat daunting triangle.

My PURPOSE for returning to this sacred isle of Iona on pilgrimage was to close out and honor this complex triangle.  To disentangle and disconnect from these three aspects of life.  To find a way to say goodbye to and appreciate what was no longer, so I can finally sit in that GAP that exits before what comes next. That place we often gloss over.

We don’t really get taught how to dismantle and deconstruct our life, do we? 

So I came to Iona exactly one month ago today, with bravery and daftness in my wee heart, resigned to sitting on my butt no matter where I found myself on the island and DOING THE WORK.

 

THE PRACTICAL SIDE:

I couldn’t believe my “luck”.

Back in the UK Midlands where my Mum lives, I noticed a three-week GAP where I could take off from work without any obligations. Whoa – no obligations – what’s that? No mentorships, boot camps, coaching clients that could go on momentary pause, a new writer’s contract was all signed and sealed and thanks to Covid, no upcoming retreats to dash off to host in a far off land. The hardest part of the decision was not so much around post-Covid safety of travel to be honest – as things were easing up and opening again. The challenge was the reality of “taking time off.”Just because the gap shows itself, doesn’t mean I usually take it. I normally fill it with work, of course! You too?

It was challenging to decide to ignore emails and daring to tell/ask/beg my business partner I needed and wanted three weeks offline. We had no writing challenges, no Feedback Fridays – nobody really needed me for ANYTHING! Bliss.

As an entrepreneur, all my life, one of the hardest ideas is to take sufficient time off. Over the last five years or so, I have learned to work fewer weekends and take a bit of a break either side of big work projects, perhaps a few days here and there. But to be honest over the past 17 years, I could never go more than 3 days without looking at my computer, phone, mail or FB. And when you do what you love it’s also much easier to be ON all the time.

You can bet the fears still rushed right at me in all forms:
Is it really, really safe to travel so soon?
I’m eating into my money fast at the poor ZAR currency conversion.
Who the hell am I to do this?
What if someone needs me? (Oh please need me)
What will others think blab la bla?
Will mum be ok on her own – I can’t just pop back if I leave

But I started dreaming about this wee island every night and it started weaving its spell again from the moment I gave it a glance in the realm of possibility. It had been 17 years since I last set foot upon Iona!

I had no idea if or when we would really be able to travel from UK to Scotland, but I started making tentative plans. The UK and Scottish Government announced new measures, and I had to heed both restrictions. Fast forward a few weeks and I was on a train, masked up and double sanitizer on hand.

It was all a bit surreal. Only two other people on the train platform. Only 4 in the carriage to Glasgow. The first stop was a legally operating hotel in Oban, then the ferry to Mull, and next a bus across Mull where I was the ONLY passenger. I got to natter all the way to the driver. From 3 meters away of course. The poor lad had spent four months driving his bus back and forth twice every day for a 70 minute trip with no passengers: just parcels, shopping, wool and supplies for the house-bound locals. Talk about a driving meditation with no cars and just a few sheep and highland cattle to look out for on the single lane track. Suddenly having a real person to carry was such a novelty – so much so that he forgot to open the hold for my suitcase when we arrived in Fionnphort and was about to turn around and drive merrily off. Hey, wait up there Steve.

 

#Surreal Travel

And then there is the final Calmac ferry before you can set foot on Iona.

The power of showing up somewhere always amazes me. The initial cottage I had secured for 6 weeks had fallen through a few days before traveling. Covid measures meant they needed it back to isolate guests. I was planning 3 weeks of intense retreat and an extra 3 weeks to start writing again. So my wonderful friend, DF, back from when I worked on the island 18 years ago in the summer of 2002, kindly helped secure me a new spot. But for 2 weeks only. I knew I had to let go of all plans, anticipated outcomes and just BE THERE to allow the magic of Iona to find me – I hoped. My life motto, and specifically living location free for almost 4.5 years, is that you can’t know everything before you go.

 

I am now in my third accommodation and have been here for a month today!

 

 

THE PROCESS TO FREEDOM – WHAT I DID

  1. Set time aside and had a crystal clear intention.
  2. Told my patient business partner I was going offline and to please NOT bug me for work for three weeks (we had one wee emergency that took all of three minutes, and even did an interview as it was pure fun and delight)
  3. Told my current coaching clients I was taking three weeks off. Eeek.
  4. Just disappeared off FB. No big song and dance announcing what I was up to. I just did it and went offline. Biggest relief of all.
  5. Stayed OFF email, Facebook and ALL other Social Media platforms for three weeks.
  6. Reached out to friends and family as and when needed. I wasn’t doing a full silent retreat so was happy to interact a bit when needed. Just not with clients or work.
  7. My phone lived on airplane mode 90% of the time.
  8. Interacted with locals when I felt drawn to – fascinating people live here!
  9. 90% of the time, I was however on my own, in silence.
  10. Every day I slept, walked, swam, ate, napped and read as I felt like.
  11. I never felt compelled to listen to any music, audiobooks or such like. Just nature, wind, waves and me.
  12. Devoured 10 books that I found in the cottage – good rollicking Scottish romances, moving memoirs, deeply powerful Shamanic books – all sorts to immerse in when I needed a break to let my process stew.
  13.  8-10 hours daily I DID MY PROCESS. And it continued in my sleep. Letting it all seep slowly into my soul.

 

Mostly, I reveled and rejoiced in the depths of NOT doing anything or needing to BE anywhere at any given time. No one needed anything from me. That’s pure bliss. My modus operandi was to do what I wanted when I wanted. For the first three days I also made things a bit more intense for myself. Ha – of course we have to push a bit to get results.

On the day I arrived, I shared dinner and some vino to reconnect with my friend and her partner. Armed with delicious Italian pasta and lamb ragu in my tummy, the next morning I started a rigorous 3-day water fast to kick start my body and soul. That means ONLY WATER mixed with a bit of lemon, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup (for the blood-brain barrier). I’m pretty used to some shorter fasting so it wasn’t tooooo much of a shock to my system. I was a determined little beast on a mission. After my initial water fast, I kept up intermittent fasting for about 16 hours every day to help support the inner work I was doing. And ate what I felt like for the rest of the time. No booze for the first 10 days to up the ante.

I went swimming EVERY DAY. No matter the weather! 

You might think Scotland sounds drab, cold and dreary – but oh my – the color of the water up here. The astounding beauty that is the Hebridean islands. A photographer’s delight! Think intense azure blue and liquid aqua with the shimmering Iona light that bounces through it. The sound of Iona can look like sheets of silver glass, punctuated with a dolphin fin or a sailboat, or it can rage wild and thrash on the rocks, hiding the pure white sand or the craggy rocks at high tide.

But by swimming, I really just mean that I got wet in the freezing Atlantic or the Sound of Iona. Wim Hof and his cold-water therapy principles inspired me, but deep inside I am really the gal that grew up swimming in the warm Indian Ocean with the Benguela current. Toasty warm. The mild Mediterranean is my other favorite swim spot thanks to our annual Greek writing retreats. When I lived in Cape Town, I never did quite cotton on to swimming, as it was mind-numbingly cold for me. I’m just not a cold-water salmon kind of gal.

On day one, my version of swimming involved running in, plunging my body in the water, squealing and shrieking loudly and running out gasping. Probably wet for less than 3 seconds, to be honest. I thought – come on you sissy – this is a great cleansing practice. A ritual. Why don’t we try to double it every day till you get to ten minutes? Are you mad? Because now I am talking to myself out loud. Shivering. Come on – we can use the power of the water to enhance what we are trying to do here with our spirit Kate. Aaaargh ok dammit, you win, you damn voice in my head.

So the game was on, and the next day I ran in and while gasping ridiculously, I counted to 10 seconds. FAST. Day 3 – 30 seconds later made me feel like I had just run a 5 km race. The next day 4 was a big jump to 2 minutes. Then 5, 8, and 10 minutes day-by-day. In just one week I reached my 10-minute hurdle. Now I’m up to 15 minutes. It’s just about the BREATHING (ok, I still mean gasping) and counting, breath by breath. The body is incredibly resilient and adaptable. I am not in the running for any frozen lake swimming or artic jaunts, but I feel so invigorated by it. Like a little personal challenge. We won this one.

On day 4, I was looking into the mirror after thawing out in the warm shower, and SAW myself looking back at me for the first time in a very long time! Rather than simply looking in the mirror while usually putting on some mascara, moisturizer or lipstick, I was suddenly aware of ME. I truly saw ME in the reflection. I peered deeply into my own eyes (sounds so cliché) and said hello to myself at last. I had been missing for a while. Missing from myself. Missing from life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


#Daily Swimming 

It was like a little jolt of reality and I felt I was back IN my body again.

I went back and looked at the Wim Hof shower challenge where they ask you to get up to 1 minute in a cold shower by the end of a MONTH. Pah – what a lark. I was officially a hard-core cold-water swimmer compared to that standard. And again when I say swim, this is not what I do in Greece when swimming 400 meters to my “rock”. Here I just dunk my body in the shallows and wallow there, head out, gasping and trying to calm my breath while staring at the view, going tingly numb. Mad huh?

I also have to confess that I swim in the nick – again purely for practical reasons. It’s not one of my fantasies playing out in any way – it’s purely because I don’t want to trudge back to my wee cottage with a dripping costume. That feels too much of a stretch in the cold, rainy, misty and wild 12-degree weather in summer. I know my limits – so I am basking in the idea of being a Scottish seal for a while, cavorting in the shallow water when no one is around 🙂

But for the most part, I was really living by the rhythm of my body’s needs. Or collecting beautiful rock and stones 🙂

I also walked and hiked every day – no matter the weather! Usually 6 kinds of weather on one day! My body just got outside and did it. I did my work as I walked. Glorious long meanders on the pathways hugging the shore. Sometimes a quick chat with a local, or a wave from afar. I walked the land from the North End (always my favorite) to the pebbled beaches of St Columba’s bay with its beautiful meditational Labyrinth (annual upkeep done with love by my same friend) as a reward after the trek. It is in this bay that you might catch a lucky glimpse of the Iona Marble or green Serpentine. I found myself watching sheep graze the “machair” golf course or merrily much on seaweed gazing out over the Atlantic en route to Port Ban, or heading up to the highest point, Dun-I.

 

#St Columba’s Bay – the pebbled beach to search for Iona Marble

Purple hues, electric greens and mesmerizing blues alongside dramatic greys. An artist’s dream palette. Spellbinding sunsets and days upon day of grey. Except that grey here is charcoal, black, white and silver – misty and wild. Not the soul-killing city-grey. Electrically alive grey!

 

Walking shifts the body and moves the soul. Padam Padam! Swimming cleanses the body and refreshes your mind – Great combo! There were so few people on the island as it was just starting to re-open post lockdown that I felt truly grateful to be here at this time.

 

Layered on top of the above practical aspects was the inner work. The real reason I was here after all. I was definitely not on “holiday” trying to escape post-lockdown with mum. So although I was in the most ridiculously splendid scenery possible, I was here to do my “close –out” work and heed the call for my personal pilgrimage. I had a crystal clear intention to plunge deep into my HEART.

 

H: Honour

E: Engage

A: Acknowledge

R: Recapitulate

T: Transform

 

I think of life unfolding in chapters and books. It felt like I needed to close out a few open chapters in a few different books.

In the Nagual tradition (check out Carlos Castaneda’s books) they talk about a process known as “Recapitulation”. I understand this to be a profound spiritual practice to retrieve all of your energy from the past – to help you live in this moment as a warrior of light. To be “at the ready” for whatever comes your way. To not be stuck in the past. Living lighter I guess.

You might understand this as a process commonly known as “cutting the ties that bind”. It is quite simply about finding all the aspects of yourself, your spirit, your energy, your memories that you may have left floating around the world and do some work at many levels to gather that energy back to yourself. In practical terms, this means being present, clear, at peace and un-hooked. It doesn’t mean you wish things hadn’t happened, but more that you are no longer controlled by them. You find a way to release that which is not yours and no longer serves you and wrap up all the good stuff in your heart. Very liberating. It is a long-standing practice in my life and one way I have been able to live a little lighter on the planet.

Everything we do, eat, touch, smell, experience, get hurt by, affected by, every place we visit, everything we love or hate – leaves a footprint. Stays connected to us. Some of that is good for us and some of it weighs us down. If you have ever read my CLEAR YOUR CLUTTER book, it’s all about releasing the sticky energetic connection from a place, person or object. Removing the dirt, the dross and the debris and then truly loving what you choose to keep in your home and life.

My aim was to actively look back at the last 17 years since becoming a professional life coach in the UK. That was the last time I visited Iona, so it was a full circle for me! In 2003 I went from Iona to chef in Provence, France for 3 months (yes even as a non-qualified chef!) and that summer job financed my coaching studies. I qualified as a Master Life Coach – and was one of the first Life Coaches in South Africa. I have had the most beautiful, BUSY career and business and now, in 2020, I wanted to do a massive honoring of that time.

 

Closure is about looking back with reflection, honor, openness and curiosity. Being willing to go deep into the cave, but not necessarily falling into a hole that is too hard to get out. It felt like a deeply profound way to cherish it all. It felt necessary yet somewhat daunting. But I was determined and resolute in my heart.

 

It was about RETRIEVING myself back to myself, finding all the parts of me that felt scattered, hurt, tired, depleted and heartbroken. I wanted to find a way to stop feeling so thin, torn apart, burnt out, irritated and with nothing to give anyone anymore. I had gotten to the point where I was feeling anxious and stressed about anything I was doing for work – suffering from performance anxiety, often depressed, tearful or downright sobbing, wanting to shut it all down and run away. I also wanted to go searching for and honoring the delights, the magic, and the incredible opportunities that have crossed my path. I guess it’s a bit like when an actor receives a lifetime award and everyone acknowledges what he or she has accomplished, only I came to do that for myself.

   

Because the truth is that I had started really questioning my ability, my self-worth, my passion. So it was time to stop, gather and sit IN IT and face it all head-on.

Even as I write this down, I know I am not doing full justice to my experience. I’m not sure words can convey the depth of my exploration – deep into my heart and recesses of my mind. Waking, sleeping, walking, swimming, resting, dreaming, walking over and over and over again with it all brimming and swirling through me. I would sit for hours in one spot staring at the ocean and just do “the process”.

I worked quite systematically in some ways through each year, from 2003 all the way up to 2020, gathering back all the threads of energy, pulling back my strength, increasing my vitality and expanding my heart. At the end of each cycle, I did some powerful writing processes to capture the essence of that time. I also re-looked areas of work over and above each year, to redo them and relook. I didn’t want to miss anything out.

Many years ago I created an “online course called Close Out Strong” which supports you to honor the year gone by in order to move in the New Year feeling lighter – well imagine that process times 17!

 

At the end of 12 days, I had brought myself up to present time. I had walked back and revisited every single:

Home and office de-cluttered
Clients coached
Retreats hosted
Mastermind facilitated
Workshops or trainings delivered
Online courses written and run
Interviews given and articles penned
Stood back on the stages of every talk I ever shared
Re-connected with each of my books written and movie I starred in
Every partner I had shared life with, but more emphasis on my recent relationship
Every home I have lived in
Every country visited

…and every single experience I could find for the past 17 years.

The highs and the lows!

Layer after layer after layer.

#layers of colour with grey

Stripping away the ‘krap’, the gunge, the lack, and the ego. Relishing in the delights. Pulling my energy back to me. Releasing what wasn’t mine back to where it came from. Release. Put the final full stop on that chapter. Close the book.

This process is hard, it’s deep and it requires courage. Are you being called to do it at this time in your life? Could you give it to yourself – the permission, space, the time, and let yourself do the work?

 

From day 4 onwards I started to feel awareness rise like sap in my veins. I felt inspiration, vitality and sparkle flood back through my cells.

 

If I can convey anything at all to you – it is the tangibility of the energy that I feel now. I am able to say with my head held high and my heart ticking strong, that I am so deeply in awe of what I have created, done, experienced and explored in my business and life. Because I hadn’t been feeling like that – I was feeling useless, bored, questioning what I had accomplished, wondering if I had made any real difference in the world, wondering what I had contributed. I had no real energy, no spark, no sustainable vitality and I had to muster up motivation rather than feel inspired. Whilst I wasn’t exactly ill, I felt like my spirit had become weary and heavy. Other than some aches and pain, old injuries, the coming and going of depression and menopause thrown into the mix, I was still reasonably healthy, resilient and strong. But not being ill is definitely not the same thing as being truly healthy, vitally alive, awake and in love with it all.

I felt zinging and pulsating again – I could hear differently. I had more energy again and was getting better sleep. I felt proud, alive, awake, accomplished, in awe. I also got the closure I was desperately seeking.

From work, my ex-life-partner, and South Africa.

My gigantic triangle.

 

EMBRACE THE GAP

On day 12, I released that my closure initial process was done. Now that the closure felt complete – I took myself off for a glass of crisp Sauvignon Blanc and a sandwich in the glorious sun, to watch the ferry boat come and go.

I was now facing the unknown of the gap.

The sitting

Waiting

Wondering

Exploring

Following threads as they appear

Still reading, swimming, walking, sleeping, eating, and do them over and over again.

Trying desperately not to fill the gap too soon. To not push forward. To not start mind mapping the future – as that is such an exciting process to engage with. It’s one I have helped 1000’s of clients do. But the trick was to wait. To be. To still NOT do.

 

I had glimpses of the elements of my work I still love. Writing. Retreats. Then a wee flicker of possibility somehow found its way into my heart – a tiny glimmering thread I am now following both literally and metaphorically. But not forcing or controlling it. Just being delighted by its welcome presence more than anything. My friend simply mentioned a local woman who does something extraordinary. The moment she mentioned it, my whole being resonated when the words came out of her mouth. I didn’t even know exactly what it was that this local did. I just loved the “sound” of it. My heart sat up and paid attention and I felt a little smitten by the idea of it. Weird? I had been seeking something creative to fall in love with – a hobby of sorts. It’s been all work and travel for so many years and I have wanted something to DO with my hands. Something to bring me to life again. I always feel envious of people with hobbies. Creative pursuits.

 

Sorry to leave you in the lurch here– but there is no more to say about it on this blog – we have been at this one long enough today. Are you really still here? I just know that something is unfolding inside me on the island that feels juicy and full of life. I’ll write about it next time – when I know more.

But for now, I embrace the GAP.
This space of being complete, closed out, full of awe and proud of it all.

Happy and content with the NO LONGER, but not yet knowing what will come in the NOT YET.

Not sure where “home” or nest will be.

Not sure what all the facets of work will look like. Being an author and running retreats are still sticking like glitter glue

Not sure who is going to come bounding into my life and heart

Sit here and be still, be patient Kate.

Just do what needs to be done for now. Today.

Stop trying to shift gears too soon.

Don’t start too many things as default from the old.

Don’t gloss over the gap.

 

“It is a transformative experience to simply pause instead of immediately filling up space.
Pema Chodron”

 

REACH OUT

I wish you well on your chosen journey! I’d honestly LOVE to hear from you as I emerge slowly back into the world again – pop a comment or drop me a mail. It might take me longer to reply as the connection is a bit dodgy on the island, and I am not spending much time “working”. Are you in this phase of needing to get closure and embrace the gap? It’s really hard, isn’t it? I do hope that if you stayed reading with me till the end, that you have taken away something from my experience that can support your journey. It was just really important for me to pen it.

You could also go and check out “THE STRATEGIC POWER OF DISCONNECTING”. It was written a while ago, and I’ll update it again soon, but it might help you along your path right now?

 

ABOUT KATE
As you gather from this post, Kate is busy re-jigging her life as she embraces the gap. She is an international, location free author who leads immersive and experiential retreats in her favorite power spots – ludicrously idyllic locations around the world. She has become intrigued by the notion of regularly taking time out to restore and rejuvenate the spirits and find that sense of joie de vivre. She still loves helping you to understand the power of slowing down and saying hello to yourself and your dreams! And it seems that being an author and running retreats are the pieces that will stick going forward.

#seaweed munching sheep

 

I’m going against the grain – step away from all the online offerings

By Insights to help you #quickshift

DATED 2nd April 2020 – amidst all the chaos
I’m going against the grain here with a message from my heart to yours…

You do NOT have to say YES to every single thing, course, challenge, FB live or meeting request you see wafting past your nose online.

Step away!

PLEASE STOP SIGNING UP FOR EVERYTHING THAT YOU SEE ON OFFER ONLINE. Yes, including any of mine. I never suggest anything unless it also holds true for me!

Today is simply a short message – nothing to buy, click or sign up for. Phew, you can relax.

I have been working online, (with an old fashioned landline and Skype originally) for most of my 17 years as a coach, and right now everyone is naturally scrambling to get online. It’s pure survival out there to keep businesses going, I get it. But it also doesn’t mean YOU have to do it all!

While I believe most folk are offering services and products with good intention (lots of wonderful free stuff emerging, or very reduced prices – how wonderful) and we are all wanting to be of support to our communities, you do NOT need to be signing up for 10 different challenges or online courses right now.

Choose who and what you wish to support. Intentionally. My message today is to give you permission to say NO to all the noise out there. Otherwise, it’s only serving to ramp up potential feelings of heightened obligation, FOMO, guilt and “I just feel bad I’m not supporting them”.

Just this morning I told one of my very good friends that I would NOT be doing her awesome challenge (and it really is an awesome fitness one) as I have my own daily exercise/meditation routine locked in my body after traveling for 4 years. I also said that I am so proud of her and what she’s offering to her clients. Just not for me at this time. And then I breathed a bit deeper to have it OFF my list.

You see the problem is that you are probably replacing one busy-ness with another form. A different type of addiction. After all, you have been through and are facing, is that really going to cut it for you? All those things you have been wanting to do but blamed work or commuting, meetings or bosses for the reason you couldn’t nap every day, or garden or finish that book – so is staying BUSY BUSY BUSY by signing up to EVERYTHING on offer really what you need to be doing at this challenging time?

What if this (both marvellous and horrendous) time is more about finding a new set point, listening more (to self and others) going quiet, within, still, reflecting? Not just one looooong list of things to DO every day.

It’s about health, rest, family and connection.
Staying safe above all else.
Helping others where you can.
Not contributing to all the noise.
Shhhh – find that core of quiet inside.

Do you really need to know how to make pasta pockets filled with sea urchin and wasabi, or how to make yourself look like Kim whatshername?

This is a great time to UNSUBSCRIBE off channels, newsletters, courses and anything else you don’t read but clogs your inbox (including mine if I am not your vibe)

What if you are super cool just the way you are – enjoying more time to BE with yourself and your family (even if that means connecting virtually). Figuring out what really matters.
Naps
Reading
Resting and staring out the window
Figuring online food delivery (reality!)
Dancing to silly songs
Laughing
Space – if you have the luxury of it!
Doing what you feel INSPIRED to do – not tick off your list

I am encouraging you (and myself) to be super mindful of how many challenges we sign up for as each one requires so much commitment and vooma. Well to do it properly, doesn’t it? If you know me, I am always about quality over quantity and one done to maximum effort is better in every way that 5 half-a$$ed ones.

I am suggesting a maximum of three (max!!!) to keep body brain and heart strong. You could think of the categories you really do need support with – exercise/eating/energy OR
creativity/mindset/inspiration/mental health OR
business/brand/work or book goals.

Rather do less and do it properly
Pick just one and make it matter
OR three and nail them
But not ten and feel bad!

Stay safe and sane Kate and reach out if you need to.
Love Kate