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Making Lemonade #22: Lemon breadcrumbs

The trails we lead to the futures we want

Cross-posted from SubstackView original post.

Hey friends,

Last week, I mentioned the first post I ever wrote for this Substack – long before I actually launched it. After having it in my drafts for a whole year, I decided it was probably time to let it see the light of day.

It’s interesting thinking back on where I was when I wrote it. I was burned out from the corporate job I’d already tried to quit – twice – but was still too scared to take the actual leap.


Me in March 2023, getting ready to bounce into a new life

I was scared of a lot of things, back then.

I was as scared of success as I was of failure. Feeling stuck in a weird limbo land, where I was sick of every day feeling the same and knew I wanted change, but didn’t know if I was ready for it.

I spoke before about why I don’t read back over my morning pages, and initially, it was because I didnt want to read back over what I already knew in my heart and head to be true.

I was fed up. Bored. Frustrated.

I missed my old life. I missed the old me. I missed all the things that made me feel alive. I missed my friends. I missed having people to talk to. I missed my freedom. I missed adventures.

I missed things feeling easy – or at least not everything feeling so hard.

I couldn’t read back over my morning pages because I didn’t want to be faced with the reality of how unhappy I was. I just needed a place to vent my frustrations. I knew things had to change, but all I could see was me complaining about the same things.

I couldn’t see all the incremental changes that were taking place to lead me to where I am now – the tiny trail of breadcrumbs I’d led for myself.

Reading this post, though, was different. When I wrote it, I had nothing to lose by not posting it – apart from disappointing myself, which was nothing new, not back then, anyway. But looking back, it feels like it marked the beginning of a new phase.

The crossing of a threshold.


I love thresholds. Especially those between day and night (March, 2023)

I genuinely believe words help us speak life into being. That they make the intangible tangible.

I like to think of words like planting – and nurturing – seeds.

Thinking the words is like sowing them, writing them encourages them to grow roots, and speaking them is like gently guiding the seedling towards the surface.

Shortly after I wrote this, I said, out loud, to someone else, “I want to run writing workshops”.

I figured I was finally ready to be seen for my dreams. To be held accountable. To take action – and, to take up space. To let my dream seedling break the surface and exist outside of my mind and my notebooks.

Saying that one sentence aloud changed everything.

A few weeks later, I ran my first writing workshop, which helped me build the momentum to take action on other dreams. Dreams like quitting the job, finishing the website, pitching the stories I actually wanted to write (not just the ones I thought people would pay me for), and negotiating higher rates for said stories.

It even led me to start creative mentoring to help other people overcome the same struggles I’d faced – and because I didn’t want anyone else to feel as alone and frustrated as I had.

Instead, I wanted to support and encourage others to take action on their dreams and make the most of their one wild and precious life – just like I had when I’d first left the UK 10 years before.

A year on, my life looks almost unrecognisable. So much of what I wrote here, writing from a place of hope, more than truth, came to be.

Proof that words are magic.

Love,

Cx


All set up for my first ever writing workshop (March 2023)

March 2023


I’d like to think my do-over was a bit more dramatic than most, but this implies I’ve only had one, when in fact, there have been many.

Even this newsletter is one, not least because I’ve put off starting it for over a year. Sometimes it takes time to make the leap. Especially when the universe doesn’t step in to force your hand.

Still, this is about the Big One. The real-life do-over. The time I packed my life into a backpack, gave away all my stuff, went on a 6.5-year odyssey around the world, and then somehow, thanks to a coin flip (and the intervening hand of fate), ended up in Western Australia with a cat, a partner, a house full of pot plants, and far too much stuff to fit in my beloved backpack.

If life has shown me anything over the years, it’s to always expect the unexpected, but my arrival here certainly took the wind out of my sails.

As someone who spent years living on the road, you’d be forgiven for thinking I like surprises. It turned out I just like carefully curating opportunities for life to surprise me. Over the years, I’d put myself in some pretty ridiculous situations, but I usually always had a plan and a backup plan too, just in case.

So, when faced with the choice between going back to my life on the road or staying and trying something new, I figured I’d put myself out of my comfort zone and actually stick around a while and see what Australia had to offer.

After all, the world would still be waiting. Or so I thought.

It’s funny how naive that feels now, looking back. I didn’t expect to end up navigating years of lockdowns and border closures, stuck on the other side of the world from my family and friends. Or to have to deal with rental and visa struggles and financial woes, after losing my right to work – and all my travel writing clients – in one fell swoop.

Add to the mix a few years of family hardships including my mum being diagnosed with young-onset Alzheimer’s in her late 50s and my grandma passing away (but not after trying to tear the family apart first), and it’s been a rough old ride.

Yet, despite it all, I’ve somehow rediscovered a spark for life that lay buried under an endless desire to tick boxes and see everything the world had to offer.

I’ve managed to find a way back home to myself and to build a stronger life than ever from the ashes of everything I thought I wanted.

I’ve rebuilt a home, a career, and a life, and I’ve even managed to bring my creative soul back on board, after years of selling her out for paychecks.

If you’d asked me four years ago if this is how I’d see my life going, I’d have probably laughed. I was an adventurer, a wanderer on a mission to see everything the world had to offer and I couldn’t have imagined it being any other way.

But sometimes life has other plans. And sometimes it just throws us in the deep end: sink or swim.

So I built myself a jetty. A bridge. A home. A life.

Yet another do-over.

Have you ever had any do-overs? I’d love to hear. Feel free to share in the comments!

All my love,

Cassie x


Things that are giving me life this week (March 2023)


Dream: Trip to Karijini
I’m celebrating my four-year “Aussie-versary” with a trip back up to the Pilbara, the place that kicked off my love affair with Western Australia.

After a few quiet years on the adventure front, I’m looking forward to a 10-day road trip with my love to visit some friends and explore some billion-year-old landscapes.

The trip was as epic as I’d hoped, even if the Karjiji section was very short-lived as most of the gorges were closed due to flooding risk. You win some you lose some, I guess. (Millstream, March 2023)

Memory: Hitchhiking in the Himalayas
In an earlier draft of this post, I wrote about the different kinds of surprises we have while travelling and it took me right back to Nepal, where I spent a few months working in earthquake relief in 2016.

Most of the time, we camped outside the local medical centre, but every now and again, we’d hitch into Kathmandu for showers, electricity, and WiFi.

My favourite ride was atop a truck full of rocks. We wedged ourselves in, sipped on beer, and ate cheesits as we careened down winding roads all the way into the big smoke. Good times.


Word: Yūgen Made up of two Japanese characters – “yu”, meaning dim, deep, or mysterious, and “gen”, a word that describes the dark, tranquil colour of the universe – yūgen refers to that which we cannot always see but yet still know is beautiful. Like the unseen and unknown beauty in the depths of the universe or the quiet beauty of human suffering.


Book: Phosphorescence by Julia Baird
One of the many books that have helped me navigate these last few years, Phosphorescence is a beautiful dive into all the things that light us up and a great place to start for anyone wanting to invite more joy into their lives.


Giving: World Central Kitchen
(I’ve updated the cause for 2024, but not the NGO)

Like everyone around the world, I am reeling from everything that is happening in Gaza and Palestine. My heart hurts for all the suffering and all the people and children unnecessarily and inhumanely starving.

As is usually the case with these things, it’s down to NGOs to pick up the pieces. One of my favourites – World Central Kitchen- is on the ground and in the air trying to help, but they too are limited in their scope.

I personally worked alongside World Central Kitchen in Guatemala after Volcán de Fuego erupted in 2018 and cannot recommend them, their work, or their ethos more.

Note: WCK supports people affected by disasters around the world. Donating to them does not guarantee that your money will go to Gaza, but it does guarantee it will go to provide meals to help people in need and support local producers, chefs, and drivers as much as possible.


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