Liberty

As we grow and age, our sense of freedom also changes. I’ve always been one to be self-righteous about freedom. I know most of us are, but I remember from a  young age always demanding the freedom to go to the shopping mall with my friends, demanding my parents to just let me do what I want, demanding that I go where I want. Rightly so my parents were strict on discipline and for me as a teenager, freedom wasn’t a right, it was a privilege.

When I was 13 or 14, I decided I wanted a job. Not legally old enough to be hired in New Zealand, I volunteered at my local library. For me, not only was this a chance to prove responsibility with shifts and everything else that came with the job, it felt like a step closer to freedom. I wanted to feel like an adult and a job seemed to come hand in hand with that idea in my head – funny how a badge with my name on it felt like liberty. As I neared 15, I got a job delivering papers in my local area. Suddenly I had an income on my very own bank card and a whole lot more freedom. In the grand scheme of things I was earning cents, but as a young teenager earning my own money – that wasn’t originally my parents – was invigorating. It was at that ripe age of 14, and about a month before my 15th birthday, I bought myself a scooter; freedom in the form of a 50cc engine, bright yellow. To be fair I bought it second hand, and my Dad did a fair bit of fixing it up, but it was the next step up the staircase of liberty.

The day after turning 15, and months after learning the NZ road code start to finish, I got my drivers license. I was 15, and suddenly my definition of freedom changed. From being dropped of at the mall by my Mum for a few hours, to being able to drive anywhere on 50km/h roads. There were of course curfews, and countless safety lectures, but I could drive myself to school, and as I got better paying part-time jobs, to those too. I was able to help my Mum when she was in need of a few things from the supermarket. Having a bucket on the back of my scooter, I volunteered and went up. I may have only been able to carry 2L of milk, and a broccoli, but I’ll tell you I was stoked. The most memorable thing about getting my scooter was filling up my scooter for the first time.  I remember driving out of that petrol station, singing to the pedestrians I passed, grinning my face off behind my Dad’s motorbike helmet – I perfectly remember how liberated I felt in that moment.

Fast forward to a year later, and I passed my restricted license test – I could now not only drive a scooter alone, I could drive a car by myself. No parents, a speaker system (!!!) and the ability to conquer my Mum’s entire shopping lists if need be. I know shopping seems like a weird thing for a 16 year old to be excited about, but to be able to do that for Mum seemed like the ultimate privilege of freedom. Plus, if I got to use Mum’s car I could play the music as loud as I wanted. I never had my own car officially, but when my Dad bought a convertible Peugeot… well, well, well… imagine this: a 17 year old, a red convertible, driving along the coast in the middle of summer, sea sparkling in the wing mirror, stereo blasting Twenty One Pilots. Oh how I miss that car. If someone were to ask me about freedom, that memory would come to mind – so would a smile.

Fast forward to now, and my sense of freedom is somehow less perceptible. This is my third year living in London and away from home, and I do have endless freedom. I can do whatever I want, whenever I want, wherever I want, yet somehow it doesn’t feel that way. I used to find liberty in the simple things – walking my dog alone, solo adventures to the beach, staying out after dark, and now I find it harder to get that same thrill. And no, going to Sainsbury’s to get groceries no longer makes me sing. I’ve been decently poorly the last week and I’ve had more than enough time to mull this thought over. I’m 21 now, and everything considered I am officially an adult anywhere in the world. International freedom but when do I feel the most liberated? I feel free when I’m writing. I can play with words limitlessly and I can lose myself in any creative world I choose. I feel free when I travel; away from the bills and responsibilities, I can lose myself in the new sights. I live for experiences and to travel is to self-liberate. Without thinking too much about the words I just used, looking back I’ve used the term “lose myself” in both cases. Is this really true? Am I using this in a negative way? No, I don’t think so. After a bit of thought, I think losing myself is a good thing; I stop stressing, I stop over-thinking and immerse myself in the now.

For me, living in the moment is the true key to liberty.

 

Travel Log: Copenhagen

Monday 6:50

With an early start this morning, I ventured out into the crisp morning air. The only sound coming from birds – a fresh perspective on a city life.  Today I am off to Copenhagen, Denmark. It’s a city I’ve never been to, yet experienced vicariously through those having borrowed my guide book. I’m currently sat in a café in Gatwick Airport waiting for my avocado on toast; one of very few vegan options I could find. I’m surprisingly awake for having woken up at 4am, perhaps it’s the excitement of spending the rest of my day in a new city.  Or perhaps it’s the 4-shot Soya cappuccino I just finished. This trip is very unplanned for me; I got my Danish krone at the airport, I have no idea how I’m getting from Copenhagen airport to the hostel, nor what my plan is for the return home tomorrow. I suppose time will tell.

10:18

I must be more than halfway to Copenhagen by now. The sky is the clearest of blue, allowing the sun to glisten perhaps too brightly off the plane’s wing through my window. I somehow always get a window seat, and I couldn’t complain less. It’s an interesting thing to be so close to nothing; so far away from everything you’re used to being near. Buildings insignificant and the rushing lives of those in the streets of London invisible. I feel calm, and I feel un-rushed in my impatient descend on Copenhagen. I’d like to think, as I look out at the world below me, if my plane were to fall that it would be caught in the soft grips of the clouds blanketing the earth.  The clouds – they bring us rain, food for the soil under our feet – they also separate London from the world beyond. We stop looking up after a while because we are so used to seeing the grey barrier above our heads; we get so accustom to looking down at our feet, knowing our direction, our daily path. It’s nice to be above the clouds, to feel as if there is nothing stopping me from seeing new things. I am amongst the unreachable. With the unexpected wifi on board, I feel confident in my plan once I land. I know I will take the metro, a 3-zone ticket bought with either coins or credit card, and I will get off at Hovedbanegården otherwise known as Copenhagen Central Station. From there I will walk to my hostel, check in, and carry on with aimless wandering. According to the flight tracker, we are 24 minutes from Copenhagen. The descend has begun, I am now gently leaning forward with the plane; gravity pulling me towards yet another destination to tick off the map.

17:49

My feet are ready to fall off. I got to Copenhagen Central Station just after midday and spent 20 minutes lapping the perimeter trying to find my hostel; suddenly earning a major appreciation for my Citymapper app in London. I found my hostel and then went back out in search of anything that defines Copenhagen as a city. I still feel near anxious being here. Not because of it’s size or population mass, just the fact of I know nothing about it. I always prepare my holidays, map out places I want to see, where I want to eat, I teach myself the language basics; this time I came in blind. After wandering in the heat and eventually discovering what seemed to be a busy part, I opted for a canal tour. A smooth sail into tourist mode. This was beautiful and somewhat informative. More than anything it gave me my bearings and sites to aim for by foot. The hour tour finished where it began, and so did my ventures. Saw beautiful buildings, did some window shopping, but more so just absorbing everything foreign. I followed it up with more wandering until now – Urban Bar, coffee in hand. As much as I am tired, I am also eager to see more and make the most of this 48-hour trip. I am headed to Tivoli Gardens this evening.

Tuesday 12:36

I am currently located in what seems to be the Danish version of Subway – iBagel. It’s pretty good, eggplant salad topped off with a beautiful dollop of humous (of course). I woke up this morning refreshed and ready to tackle another day of touristing. My first stop had to be food, and eventually I found my desired breakfast destination: 42Raw – a café that has surrendered it’s services to the plant-based community. An acai bowl and my new addiction, The Passage by Justin Cronin, made for a beautiful start to the day. Peaking above the city, reaching for the heavens, are spires scattered around the city. All distinctly different, I’ve been finding them an easier alternative to the maps within my guidebook. As 10:30 came around, I aimed high and true, and climbed 95m up Vol Frelsers Kirke. A beautiful old church which presented me with a stunning view of the city. Since my descend back down to earth, I have wandered; seen the Nationalmuseet, Christiansborg Slot, and Det Kongelige Bibliotek. It’s warm, I’m sun kissed veering burnt, but I feel calm and happy. My flight home to London is at 18:55, and according to the Central Station clock on the opposite of the square it’s now 12:57. I have plenty of time to continue this relaxing getaway.

Barcelona, Spain – I’ve been there, you know?

On the 23rd of August, at 2 o’clock in the afternoon, I was undertaking a short journey from London to the exotic and beautiful Barcelona. Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain; settled on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, it’s population is upwards of 1.6 million people.

My itinerary involved four solid days, and 5 nights, completely dedicated to exploring the city and experiencing the culture through spontaneous adventures. Instead of the expected diary style blog post about my time there, and because it was such an amazing holiday, I have decided to put together my top 4 favourite things about what, possibly, is one of my favourite cities I’ve seen so far.

1. SAGRADA FAMILIA

This is one of the most spectacular things I have ever seen and experienced.

Sagrada Familia is an unfinished, Roman-Catholic church in the city of Barcelona; architectural design of Spanish catalan, Antoni Gaudi. Gaudi’s design is beyond describable.  It’s a place I find so hard to explain to people, even to capture its unique beauty on film proved difficult. The church’s architecture includes beautiful facades, sky-high towers, and stained glass windows that cast a light onto the interior; creating a place of true peace and reflection. The interior roof is designed in such a way, that as you look up, you feel enclosed in a jungle. The feel of this church affected me in such a way, even sitting here now months later, I can’t help but smile and feel calm. I try to regularly meditate to centre my thoughts and encourage inner peace, so while I was at Sagrada Familia  I spent close to an hour of mediation, and the remaining time in complete silence. I was speechless. I did have an audio guide tour which helped me understand the space. I heard something said by Gaudi himself, that Sagrada is place where “people of all religions, any belief, can come together and meditate”. I was in this church for 4.5 hours, and even then, I didn’t want to leave. If you go to Barcelona, it’s well worth seeing and experiencing it’s power for yourself

2. EARLY-MORNING SOLO ADVENTURES, AND AIMLESS WANDERING.

I was lucky enough to be brought up by parents who believe in wandering and encourage attacking situations with careful spontaneity. There’s something very enchanting about Barcelona in the summer; long days, short nights and a warmth that draws you into dawn til dusk adventures. Every morning, being up before the sun had completely risen, came with a beautiful feeling of wanderlust. I didn’t want to be wasting a single second on sleep I could catch up on back in London. Stepping out of my hostel, being hit by a wall of warmth and fresh, coastal air, every morning was a new adventure that could end up anywhere. The aimless wandering resulted in coming across a beautiful cathedral named Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulàlia, also known as Barcelona Cathedral. This cathedral was enchantingly beautiful. The most touching part of this cathedral was, after walking under the most beautiful stone archway, finding myself in this hidden square – the Cloister of the Cathedral – complete with the most exotic and cared for jungle like greenery. Here, there was also a pond, home to 13 white, prepossessing geese which represent the age of Saint Eulalia when she was martyred.

Another place I discovered was the Picasso Museum/Museu Picasso. Pablo Picasso was a Spanish artist, with a name most people will come to recognise in their lifetime. He was a human with extraordinary talent, imagination and respect; seeing his art firsthand and hearing his life journey, was inspiring and an experience I thoroughly enjoyed. Museu Picasso was established in 1963, and holds one of the biggest collections of Picasso’s work. I strolled around this museum, alone, with my headphones plugged into an audio guide. Here I found myself immersed in this new world of complete appreciation and awe for unadulterated talent.

3. PARK GÜELL

Park Güell, also designed by architect Antoni Gaudi, was a place I 100% intended to visit. Originally designed to be a new housing development that would be more one with nature, it is now a showcase for the most unique designs of Gaudi’s mind. This park was beautiful to walk through, and as much as I immersed myself and enjoyed Gaudi’s work, the two most memorable things in this park I think to be less obvious. Within the borders of Park Güell, you can walk up and around to a cross perched on the edge of a hill. The view from this lookout point is spectacular – set up on a hill Gràcia, the park invites all to see over the beautiful City. From this angle Barcelona was a different kind of beautiful I’d seen before. Being so built up you could mostly only see rooftops, but the city is absolutely an urban gem. Ultimately, beauty is in the eye of beholder, and for me, I stood there looking out over that city – smiling.

Park Güell, being a tourist destination with a usual 5 hour waiting time, is home to many buskers. There was one busker who caught my eye, or perhaps more appropriately, caught my ears. He had the perfect, shaded perch under a Gaudi walkway.  Sitting on a fold out chair, his CD and tip bowl at his feet, he smiled whilst playing the most beautiful spanish music. You could see it in his movements; the way he shut his eyes, and smiled as he perfected each verse; his passion for the music reached everyone in listening distance. I was enjoying this man’s music so much, I decided to buy his album and have a chat with him.  When he stopped to take a sip of water, my opportunity came. His name is Rafi Mora. Rafi has been playing in Park Güell for 22 years, and he says he probably will never stop. I bought a CD and he explained every track; where he recorded his music, who he played with, where the music originated – even informed me that a Kiwi man bought a copy a few months back. He truly was a beautiful souled, passionate man, and I still listen to that CD, close my eyes, and imagine myself being back there.

4. A CRUISE AT SUNSET, WITH LIVE JAZZ?

When you go to a coastal city, especially one like Barcelona, you have this deep longing to go out on the sea. The blue, sparkling waves are forever teasing you with every movement. On the second night, whilst walking near the harbour one day, I noticed a Sunset Jazz Cruise advertised. My friend and I decided that the next evening we would return and partake in what looked to be an amazing opportunity. We were right – being one of few cruises that actually left the harbour, we had amazing views accompanied by a live saxophonist and varying jazz music. The front of the catamaran was  netting, which meant once we were sat down at the front of the boat, we were left with the blue to be fully visible below. Drinking a beer with the warm setting sun radiating through my body,  looking out at the city of Barcelona, and hearing a melody of ocean waves and live jazz; I was in heaven. For a not so expensive cruise, it was one of the most enriching experiences.

I went to Barcelona in August, 2015. It is now November, 2015. I am dealing with some serious wanderlust.

Let’s go.

Survival Instincts

From a young age you always hear the phrase ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, and more often than not people will say this to you as a piece of ‘much required’ wisdom.  As much as I accept this phrase about not holding prejudice based on someone’s outward appearance, I do slightly disagree.

Judgment is an inherent quality that our brain feeds with experience. We have established this instinct for survival; the judgments we make are what permit, or prohibit, things to get close to the core of our lives. Moving to a new country, I found myself surrounded with the unknown in things as simple as a phone shop. I spent the first month making choices purely based off harsh judgment and gut feeling.  There were the initial times of pharmaceutical and grocery shopping, I would walk an extra block to shop at a chain-store over a cheapened corner shop. When I was flat hunting, as simply as talking to a person over the phone, I would judge the landlord on the language they used, and immediately accept or decline the idea. For all I know these are the simple judgements that have extended my life, or have caused me to miss out on opportunities.

So what happens when you take a leap of faith and do leave things up to chance? Once I was settled within a house, had a group of friends, and had all standard life requirements organised, I went through a phase of doing spontaneous adventures; going outside of my comfort zone with relation to cafes, experiences and stores. I think the key point here is that because I was successfully living, not only attempting to adapt and survive to this new environment, I didn’t need that safety net of judging everything as heavily as I once had. I remember phone calls home, discussing this exact topic with my parents.  There comes a point where after the judging and hard work has been done, you do need to loosen the reigns of planning, and live life day by day, decision by decision. Sometimes there are positive consequences to veering away from that planned path of judging things critically. This way of living, or leaving life to serendipity, is what makes for a more rounded life. You come across things you may have never knew existed, you may meet people who are destined to be in your life, or find a new passion.

Judgement is something that is I believe to be socially acceptable when you feel that your life or well-being is at risk. I think that we need to make decisions for ourselves based off our intuitions and personal judgements; ultimately we have to live with our own decisions and choices, so we need to be satisfied with them. Nevertheless, don’t forget to give things a chance; we need judgement to survive, but we need spontaneity to live.

The Motion of Graphs

I haven’t always been a confident person, and I most definitely have days where my usual confident structure breaks away from itself. Quite often I try and analyse what confidence truly is, and why this complex demeanour fluctuates.

Confidence is technically described as:

“A feeling that is due to self-belief and acknowledgement of one’s own abilities or qualities.”

This word acknowledgement, at the heart of this definition, is what interests me the most about confidence. Throughout a discussion with a good friend (Instagram: simon_walsh14), an extremely interesting point was unearthed. I would like to share and discuss this. Confidence, as much as it is within oneself, is due to, and in majority because of, external stimuli. Therefore this acknowledgement may not necessarily be your own, but someone else’s acknowledging of your talents or exterior that creates confidence within yourself.

All individuals, admittedly or not, appreciate compliments as these are the words that assure us most; assure us that we are strong enough, good enough, beautiful or handsome enough; these structured words allow us to keep moving, and delay us from having time to descend and self-doubt.

After this new aspect of confidence was introduced to my already over-analysing brain, I was bemused at how Simon’s external stimuli opinion resonated within me. I always thought it was about self-belief and that you just have to accept and believe in who you are – this is definitely a part, but how can we do this without assurance from someone else. If we are the only ones convincing ourselves we’re strong enough, soon enough we say it to ourselves even when we are vulnerably weak. This self-belief and confidence then has the opportunity to radically weaken to self-doubt, self-doubt to anxiety.

Explaining how confidence turns to self-doubt and anxiety is hard to explain in precise detail. I have, however, experienced this feeling, so the easiest way to put this to word is to use an example from my life. Try and picture my words in the form of a graph on a page. The last 500 days of my life going horizontal, and the three notches going upward on the y-axis being anxiety, self-doubt and confidence. As my London dream began with saving and planning; I began midway somewhere near the level of self-doubt:

 ‘Will I be able to save in time?’, ‘Will I really go through with this?’ 

As the line progresses horizontally it also slowly begins to peak vertically towards the level of confidence; this came with the physical growth of sterling but also the kind words of commendation and encouragement from family and friends. These external stimuli pushed the line to level out for several months. These months were easy, I was so confident within myself and had sureness in my plan to move alone. Then the news of my departure became old amongst my family and friends, it became accepted that I was leaving, so discussions lessened. Negative and doubtful comments stopped my ability to move away from this doubt. Small, unintentional things people said – people doubting the extent of my planning or the level of accumulated savings – all made that line waver around self-doubt. The lack of encouragement and assuredness then caused my brain to self-doubt: forcing the line to descend. I was too ashamed to discuss these feelings with family and friends because I wanted to still appear like the brave being everyone described me as. This absence of conversation then allowed my brain to plummet towards anxiety. I began to have this gut-wrenching fear of failing. As the timeline sped on, the time until I was to leave New Zealand diminished in front of me. Conversations increased with the hype of 18-year old Paige leaving friends and family for a foreign place. This resulted in a vertically increased line levelled midway between self-doubt and confidence. I had assurance in my abilities but I still lacked complete confidence of success.  From those days, to now, my line of confidence has continued to fluctuate.

My line will continue on in that fluctuating motion. So will yours. Such is life.

Reading this blog you may think I’m trying to say that confidence is solely reliant on external compliments, but it most definitely is not. This external stimuli fact is purely a minuscule part of what makes our brains tick. Confidence comes from a range of things – from validation, self-acceptance for who we are, remaining mindful, grounded and humble, amid others. These are the things that increase or decrease our levels of confidence.

So think before you speak, you’re making a bigger impact than you might think.

Words

Why do people write? And what makes a writer’s work ‘good’?

I’ve always had a passion to write. Since leaving New Zealand, and whilst I’ve been on the journey to my own self-acceptance and self-discovery, I’ve found inspiration to write in the oddest of times.

Writing, at least for me, is a way to get things out of mind. As much as I advertise the fact that I have a blog, a lot of what I write I don’t necessarily want judged or even read, hence a lot of ‘raw thought’ journals spread amongst my physical belongings.

This past week has been really hard for me. My mind has been crammed with thoughts and expressionless emotion;  not being able to write this down has truly been one of the hardest things I’ve had to deal with. When I am presented with something unfamiliar, or scary, I need a creative release of some kind – it’s usually music, but lately its been my blog. So for me to have these mental images and swirls, and not being able to put them to word, has been more than difficult to process. Being away from family in such a time, has made this even harder to get over.

The continuous failing attempts at writing throughout this time, has resulted in poems, but mostly confiding in the works of others. You can get a very similar result by reading someone else’s raw thoughts and writing pieces – especially when it is so close to what you’re going through yourself.

So this brings me back to why people write, and what justifies titling a piece of work ‘good’. People write, I’m sure, for the same reason I do. This world is a blank piece of paper. We have the beautiful covers being blankets of stars, above our heads, and the sand and stones, under our every step. It’s our job to fill the blank pages that are our lives. I think within every person, whether they write it down physically; in a screenplay or within the musical notes of song, are writers. We all have brains and minds that over think situations, we all experience new and exciting things we want to share perspectives on; we are authors to our own lives. To label a piece of this art good, is when people like me, right now, can’t produce something to explain our own thought. We go to someone else’s work, and it’s ‘good’ because we can relate to it. It pulls out the emotions, whether it be tears or laughter, and it can describe what we’re too afraid or unable to explain to ourselves.

So don’t be afraid to write. Write what comes naturally, and write what you believe. Even if you are your only audience, you’re putting something into the pages of this world. One day, someone will read it and will be thankful to be able to accept their own thoughts. Writing is powerful; single words are just as strong.

YOUR life.

Sometimes living the life I lead, I come across small situations that cause me to get anxious; make me want to leave; remind me of how much I miss the comforts of home and family. It’s so easy for people to say “Your parents must be so proud”, “You’re so brave”, which I guess in some respects are both true, but the majority of the people who hear about my story say,

“but you’re so young”

This small quote reacts with me different ways every time I get it pushed into my ears. For starters, people who say this to me, when has age ever been a restriction? (Obviously apart from all those law restricted purchases). Have you heard about the 77-year-old Supergran who runs 100km ultra-marathons for the pleasure of it? Laura Dekker? She became the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe single-handed, at the age of 16 (Not to mention, a kiwi, you go girl), and let’s not forget about the people like my Grandmother, who moved across the world, via boat not plane, at younger ages than I, in the war times, alone. People get so wound up in ages that they forget to even ask why they’re doing what they’re doing. Yes people ask me about my travels, but the majority of the people are so quick to judging me on my age, or where I’m living; as if a zone puts a stamp on my success.

My second response to this quote is for me to want to pull into myself and not speak to anyone at all. This might seem ridiculous, attention-seeking, or pathetic to a lot of people, but for me it’s the only way that I can regain my thoughts. You don’t realise how hard it is to be away from people, until you actually are. I’ve been in London for just over 5 months, and it’s just about this time that I have fallen comfortable into a routine; of work and no play; I’m beginning to miss my oldest of best-friends at home, and in waves of gut-wrenching sadness I miss my family; hugs from Mum and Dad, but more importantly I do sometimes begin to lose sight of why I’m really here. Losing sight is what makes you want to just give up and go home.

Last night, I had a very similar break down. It was not exactly because of being named young, it was more a build up of small remarks, tones, and attitudes from the past week. I had had enough, and walking home staring up at the full, glowing moon above the London horizon of brick, I had a sudden urge. A sudden longing to leave London, go back to New Zealand, lay all over my parents on the couch like I used to, and just feel truly at home again. I posted a photo to my instagram (@paigebolland) and my Dad,  being the superhero that he is, swooped in to save the day. My Dad, and of course my Mama Bear as well, has always known what to say and when to say it. Now I know my moving here was hard for them, but they always said things that cut the doubts out of my mind, and re-convinced me that what I was doing was incredible; a once in a lifetime opportunity, and that I had to do it. So last night, when I felt like giving up, Dad saw the photo with the venting quote underneath, and messaged me.

“Understand kiwi girl, keep your chin up”

Small, but enough to make me smile just like that.

“Harder than it should be sometimes, but it is the big picture the focus is on”

This, being in the state I was in, I replied to questioning what the actual big picture was anymore. To which he responded,

“YOUR life”

He made me remember than I’m here for my own adventures, and that sometimes to get there you do have to put up with people who are jealous; have smaller dreams; less motivation; people who will do anything to hold you back. Yes living here is hands down THE hardest thing I have ever had to do, but it is also the craziest, most beautiful, difficult adventure.

This is MY life, and if you step in my way, I’ll build a ten mile high tower above that so called “big person” you think you are and sky dive off the roof miles past you.

– Thanks Dad x