It’s not always like this. In fact, the past few days haven’t been great. My washing machine head has been on spin cycle, thoughts thrashing around inside at high speed, keeping me up in the night as I flip from side to side, tying the duvet in knots. I’ve been beating myself up, for all the things I’ve decided I’ve done wrong or all the things I haven’t done. I’m feeling bruised. And I haven’t had enough sleep.
But today it’s different. Today, the sun is out and I cycled to work.
Cycling to work, these days, doesn’t involve riding through busy streets, avoiding double-decker buses, big lorries turning corners and hurried pedestrians dashing across the road.
I live by the sea. It’s different now.
Inspired by the sunshine, I decided to cycle this morning from Poole to my studio in Boscombe along the seafront, from one end of the beach to the other.
It reminded me why I live here.
The waves were crashing to my right, rows of colourful beach huts were gleaming in the warm sun to my left and I saw the kind of life I love to see: surfers, walking along in their wetsuits with their boards on their heads or catching waves out by the pier.
I’d much rather see surfers on my way to work than men and women rushing around in grey suits. They remind me there are more important things in life than computers, screens, emails and deadlines. They remind me why I do what I do, why I don’t have a well-paid, full-time job, why I juggle and write, teach, train and coach and sometimes worry about where the money’s coming from. It’s because I want a different life for myself, a life where I can take a sunny morning off to swim in the sea or body board (maybe I’ll learn to surf properly some day) or take the afternoon to see the people who are important to me.
Peace, freedom, joy, love, time. They’re my goals. I sometimes get in my own way. In fact, I often do. But this morning I felt closer to where I want to be than I have in a while.
I grew up riding along the prom – Otterspool Promenade in Liverpool – with grass on one side and the River Mersey on the other. The Mersey is nothing like the sea I have here – and nowhere near as clean – but it’s a large expanse of water and it looked particularly big when I was small. This morning, I wondered if I’m living here because I needed to come back to my roots: to water, to the coast, to fresh air, exercise and the Great Outdoors. It feels good to be on a prom like the one I rode freely around as a child. It feels like I’m getting back in touch with the real me, the adventurous, free-wheeling little girl I temporarily left behind.