From Sweden to France – A Reflection on Winter, Handstands and 2018
23rd December 2018
Bye Sweden! You’ve been great! And so was 2018 (and there’s still a little more to come!)
As I am starting this blog post, I am sitting in the departure lounge of Arlanda Airport in Stockholm, reflecting on the last 5 weeks.
Training handstands every day has definitely helped me reconnect with my old circus self, growing confidence and working on those elusive one arm handstands. They certainly feel more achievable now. And maybe, there is an end to the plateau that I sometimes feel I have reached in training and too many other aspects of life – or maybe the plateau was merely an illusion to begin with.
Seeing that it’s the end of the year, I am looking back a lot and forward a little. I am actually quite shocked that I somehow achieved pretty much all the things I wanted to do over the last half year. Well, some plans were changed en route but to me, it feels like I have given my best shot at each of the things I set out to do, and that feels pretty good.
While there were a few winter months in London, 2018 really kicked off after a London landlord kicked me out once more – not that I did anything wrong, but it’s London, baby, the capital, and with a month’s notice you have a new problem, just like that, and if it hadn’t been for my far away flying friend, life would’ve been a little bit more of a struggle once again.
So let’s begin back in May when I did my first artistic residence at Nomadways and scrambled together my first ever circus act involving handstand canes- something that has been on my bucket list for a loong time, and kind of still is. OK, so it was far from perfect, and thinking back to it still makes me cringe somewhat, along with the superficial, shy, nervous response I gave when asked for the motive behind my act, but I did it, I survived and I’ve learnt some. Nomadways was all around magical – think full-moon rituals, late-night drum circles, new deep friendships and all sorts of wonderful encounters – and it helped kick off another adventure later in the year:
In the summer, I embarked on my first big cycling trip from Budapest to Istanbul. I didn’t have the time to finish it this year but did a respectable 800 odd km from Szentendre (near Budapest) to Vidin, Bulgaria, instead.
At the end of August, I started the Sufi Trail in Istanbul and ended up working on a Turkish farm for two weeks instead, because I fell sick and doing the trail in the summer heat all by my lonesome wasn’t the right thing to do for me at the time. Oh, and I’m doing surprisingly OK at not beating myself up too much over quitting one thing (out of five or six).
Late September and October were then mostly spent in Mardin (you can read about it here, here and here. Oh and also here and here), working for social circus project Sirkhane for five weeks and again, not quitting – despite there being days when I really would’ve liked to. Maybe with all the adventures in life, there always are days when you just want to pack it all in and go home, wherever that may be.
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Over the past five weeks in Stockholm, I have trained handstands at DOCH in Stockholm and, doing Sweden on a shoestring, I almost completely managed to avoid public transport expenses. Yep, that’s right, I got a complete stranger – and absolute hero – to lend me a bike and I cycled to school every day, racking up another estimated 625 winter km no matter what! A year ago, if you had asked me, I would’ve said I hated cycling. Now I cycle in the snow, save on public transport and genuinely enjoy the crisp breeze. I only landed on my bum once on a particularly icy day; the vibrant colours are still on show on my backside today.
Earlier this year, I also finally got my press handstand or elephant lift – over three years after a teacher first told me that I was “so close.“ And the one arm that I wanted to get in 2018, well, if a second or two on a less than consistent basis count, then I can pretty much tick that one off as well, thanks to renowned handstand teacher Sasha.
Overall, I’ve discovered this year that there are a few things I thought I disliked when really, I just never explored them enough.
Since August 5th, I’ve not had a permanent home (country) and when I embarked on this journey, I was more than a little scared, worried that my finances wouldn’t stretch far enough – in fact, I was downright terrified about doing Stockholm on a budget -, that I might end up quitting, getting depressed, having health issues, simply, that I wouldn’t manage to even start all the things I wanted to do. And since I’ve begun supplementing some Vitamin D and meditate more often, most of it went pretty alright.
It feels like a lifetime ago that I was wildly passionate about travelling and didn’t care for roots. Now, I find myself homesick (without knowing where that place would be) more often than not and setting out on this adventure after a year of trying to settle in random places in Germany and Portugal in 2017, was a challenge, but it has somewhat restored my faith in life and travel.
Sometimes, I’m even able to simply look down at my hands, or at my feet up in the air, relax and think to myself “Oh look, I’m in balance. I got this.“
Tomorrow, I am off to France to celebrate Christmas with my family, and on the 4th of January, the journey continues on to the arctic circle, to Hetta in Finland and four months of dog mushing, winter exploration, northern lights and hard work. In comparison, I almost look at my stay in Sweden as a kind of warm-up – or should I rather say cool-down?
There may or may not be another blog post before the year is out, depending on how stir-crazy I get between Christmas and New Year’s.
Until then, happy winter solstice, yuletide, Christmas, holidays and luscious celebrations all ’round!