A Note To Self

Firstly, apologies for my delay in blogging, in truth, my travels will soon be coming to an end, so I’ve been absorbing every moment before returning home.

I’d like to talk to you about something that has been on my mind for a while now and in truth I wasn’t sure on how to bring this topic up but in true Amy style I thought I’d dive head first into it and see what happens.
Over the past 15 months I have spent a lot of time in airports and have become somewhat of an expert in airport security and airport boredom. The trick for me is good food, a nice cup of tea (before the dreaded in-flight over-stewed tea) and nosing around the bookshop.

It was in an airport bookshop that I noticed something I hadn’t before, the size of the Self-Help section, well it’s not the size of the section but the overwhelming choice of books available, full to the brim of books with titles like “How To Get Rich Quick”, “The Power of Now, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” and “How Not To Die” (yes honestly somebody wrote a book called “How Not To Die” I mean, there are no words to describe how pointless that one is!).

I’d like to make one thing very clearly, I am not criticizing those who seek or who feel they need Self-Help. I am in no way judging them because who am I to judge but what I am doing is raising my concerns regarding what appears like, our obsession with the Self. Personal development and care for one’s self is imperative, but I feel that the line has been crossed where the care and help we give ourselves has led us into an unhealthy relationship.
The self is important but so is caring for others, as a species we rely heavily on each other for survival, we are social beings who require a community, interaction and inclusion.

I think when people look to “fix themselves” they immediately look inwards but what about outwards? Who are you surrounding yourself with? Family? Friends? People who are good for you? No, then could it be that you are seeking rather than Self-Help? Look at your environment, Where you live? The job? The hours? The commute? Maybe what the person buying a Self-Help book is really seeking is change?

There is a school of thought that when someone buys a Self-Help book, they think that this might be “The One” with the answers to fix all their problems but what if there’s an alternative?
What if alongside Self-Care (rather than Self-Help), we looked at our surroundings like a problem-solving exercise, assessing and in a practically way viewing external sources as beneficial or non-beneficial? Some of you might say that this is too simple but it’s not, you are simply over complicating it, it’s Beneficial or Non-beneficial, no middle ground.
This is in no way selfish, this is in fact a form of Self-Care.
It does however require the person to make difficult choices and to change. Change and choices in life are inevitable so why fight it? So, what is stopping you from implementing this form of Self-Care?

Again, I am in no way criticizing anyone personally for giving themselves Self-Help , a phase that I’ve heard all the time whilst travelling Australia and New Zealand (especially in New Zealand) was “you do you” in other words, “I’m not judging you, you do whatever you need to, just do you”.

I have recently come across an article about Stoicism and I felt as though it was in line with my own values.
Stoicism is a philosophical theory based on rising above unhelpful or unhealthy emotions and not becoming attached to them, allowing the person to assess the situation logically, a focal point to stoicism is behaving virtuous towards others.                            Now I am by no means virtuous, but I know from personal experience, when you switch from being stuck in your own head to giving your time and attention to others, the gratification is almost instant and undeniable.
I have occasional bouts of insomnia and I have been known to do a 13 hour shift on less than 3 hours sleep. How I get through that day is by making a real effort to focus my attention on others and to be as pleasant as possible to them, regardless of how terrible I felt before I left the house (I do not always succeed).
I push aside my negative feelings and deliberately try with others and you know something? It makes me feel better. It is my reward to myself for facing the day, the gratification is more than any Self-Help book can give me and it’s immediate compared with Self-Care.

There is also another thought when considering our society’s need for Self-Care and Self-Help, if we gave those good for us our time and attention, whether that be family, friends or a good cause (volunteering as such) would any of us need so much time for Self-Care and Self-Help? I am inclined to think not but who knows the answer to that question. My Father’s favourite line was “Time Amy, time is the most precious gift you can ever give someone.”

Much Love Amy x


As most of you know this is a blog about my own personal journey. I wanted to share with you my most recent thought. I met up with an old friend from back home whilst in New Zealand. This friend has had a difficult road and her transformation has come from some hard lessons.
For privacy reasons I will refer to her as Jane don’t worry she’s not a Jane Doe (she’s very much alive and kicking) I feel very protective of her as I am putting our private conversation in the public domain.
It had been over five years since I last saw Jane, catching up with an old friend whilst on the road gave me feeling that I just cannot describe. Someone who already knows where you come from, your family dynamics and where you’ve been, there’s no need for an introduction or explanation. The joy of that warm hug, as the embrace is about to break there’s an extra little squeeze almost saying, “it’s so good to see you.” The feeling is Love.

As Jane and I sat looking at one another, we realised that we looked exactly how we remembered although five years had passed, and our waistlines had grown, grey hairs had appeared and there are more “laughter lines”. Like us our friendship had aged but our ability to sit and converse with ease had not been affected by our time apart.
We began with the information we had missed out on, two children, a divorce and a funeral, this was beginning to sound like a plot for a Hollywood blockbuster, a rom-com with Hugh Grant alongside terrible sound track.
As conversation flowed, the information was exchanged, and it became evident that we had both been through pain but in the end, this had helped us grow, to transform.

Jane told me of her troubles and the moment when she knew things had to change. Jane said “Amy, I was at home one day and I thought, why I am unhappy? I have a husband, children, a beautiful home and we are financially comfortable. This is everything I have ever wanted and it’s mine so why am I unhappy? Jane knew that the husband was not the man for her. Can you guess what my first thought was?
How brave Jane was. How brave of my friend to acknowledge that there was a problem.
How brave Jane was to go through the process of heartbreak, change and divorce.
The difficulties she must have faced when going through this transformation.
How brave she had been to face the hash realities, to take it on, to tackle it, to collide with the criticism, people once considered friends telling her that she was breaking the family up, questioning her abilities as a wife, blaming her for the marriage breakdown, those ignorant ridiculous people telling her that all that matters is the happiness of her children, clearly not understanding that children cannot be happy if their Mother or Father are miserable.

I see my brave friend, taking her life back and saying, “I’m not happy and what am I going to do about”, I tell her how brave I think she is and she brushed my compliment off as quickly I had given it and suddenly I realised I had done the same with people who told me that I was brave. Why had I not allowed myself to take the same compliment? This got me thinking about how I talk to myself. Now don’t pretend, we all talk to ourselves!
That inner voice that criticise, questioning our abilities and faith in ourselves when we are in need reassurance. There’s no in-between the voice either chips away or bellows.

I would never speak to a friend the way I speak to myself, why is that? I say this as if there is an answer, but I don’t think there is, in psychology there are only theories.
So, I have decided to be rebellious, I am going to put my big girly pants on and start being kinder to myself, show myself tolerance and even a little love.
I shall not berate myself in front of the mirror, I shall not daydream about being a size ten, I shall not say “oh if only” or “I wish” instead I shall say replace the negative with a positive and why the hell not! I like my hair! I am brave for travelling worldwide and you know something, I worked hard for this and I deserve this.

It was on this day, sat outside a well-known coffee shop with my brave friend that I decided I am going to be kinder to myself, I am going to compliment myself and say YES, I am brave, and this adventure is mine for the taking. I am a strong person, I take charge of my life, I don’t know where it will lead me but in the words of David Bowie “I don’t know where I am going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.”

If any of this resonates with you then I want to reassure you that YOU are brave, you may not know it, but I promise you, you are. We all waver from time to time but if something or someone costs you your happiness it will never be worth it because after all happiness is priceless.
I’ll leave you with this quote from A.A Milne (the author of Winnie the Pooh) “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.”

Love Amy x

P.S Piglet is my favourite 😊

Luck or Lucky

Let’s set the record straight, as someone who loves travel one of my biggest bug bares is when someone tells me how lucky I am to travel.

Lucky, lucky, well sit your bum down right now and let me tell you about luck and lucky. There are numerous definitions of luck and lucky and not one of them include organising, planning, budgeting and saving.
According to the Oxford Dictionary the definition of luck is; “Success or failure brought on by chance rather than one’s own actions.”
Collins Dictionary defines luck as “Luck or good luck is success or good things that happen to you, that do not come from your own abilities or effort”.
“The definition of lucky is someone who has good fortune, an event that brings good fortune or results in good fortune all by chance. One would describe a person who wins the lottery as lucky for example”(Collins Dictionary 2018).
Luck and lucky are terms that apply only when something is out of your control, I would not for example say “oh aren’t you lucky to be having a house extension” knowing full well that you’ve made sacrifices in order to get the house extended, the same courtesy goes to me with travel. I lived at times like an unsocial hermit, saying no to social events because I am calculating and re-calculating how I could save more money.
Now before you think you’ve pressed the wrong button and fallen into an academic blog I’ll stop with the quotation marks and sentences that include terms like “according to” and hope you get my drift, I shall also step off my soapbox and explain that it took hard work and time to get me on the other side of the planet.

It took almost two years of saving up, no buying new clothes, no hair appointments, buying nothing that wasn’t considered as essential as it wasn’t justifiable. I sold my car and unwanted items like jewellery, pictures, books, clothes and I have little belongings to go home to. Do I regret that not one bit, am I nervous about going home starting from scratch? Absolutely not. The most interesting finding from this experience is in fact I am less anxious, I get less tied up making decisions on what to wear because really who actually cares what I wear? No one certainly not my family or friends. I now pay zero attention to society telling me I need this particular product to make me happy. I am less wrapped up in myself, I have clarity on what actually matters and what is good for my wellbeing.

Before my time out, music was just another part of my routine, the background noise of my day-to-day life. Whilst travelling I met a girl called Elke, Elke asked me if I missed TV and it dawned on me that at that time I had not watched any for five months however there had not been a day without music. Confucius once said that “Music produces a kind of pleasure that human nature cannot do without.” I whole-heartily agree with the Chinese philosopher. Music gives my life value and I had lost sight of that and through travel I rediscovered that joy again.

Routine is a structure, it’s all about efficiency, going from one tasks to another, getting the must do tasks out-of-the-way so we can enjoy our free time but sometimes that must do attitude rubs off on the things that bring us joy, happiness and in the end finds its way into our wellbeing. It’s easy to lose sight of what is important to you when consumed by the day-to-day motion that is life, I am under no illusion that at some point I will go back to routine but I am hoping to keep this lesson with me whilst taking up routine again.

On the road your priorities go back to basics, where am I going to sleep for the next few nights? What and where shall I eat tonight? They are my immediate concerns. I now know that as a person I am sensitive to my environment, uncomplicated living suits me, living within my means with minimal belongings allows me space to think, reduces my anxiety in turn making me feel good. Liam (a friend that I made on the road) and I had a discussion about Mental wellbeing and the use of labels, during our chat he introduced me to a term that I had never heard before “visual noise” within that moment a light bulb went on “Yes, that’s exactly what I’m trying to say,” was my response. I am a person who gets overwhelmed by stuff, it’s like putting your headphones on and pressing play without realising the volume is on maximum. That’s how I feel when I have too many belongings. Possessions are a physical and mental burden, the backpack life is a perfect description of how possession are a heavy weight on my wellbeing, the lugging around of one’s belonging, pulling on your back while trying to find your accommodation, soon has you practicing minimalism. I know there is a lot of criticism of labels but I was relieved that it had a name instead of me think that it was just an Amy thing.

I’d like to get this moment to thank you personally for taking time out to read this blog, my dad always said that the most precious gift you can give anyone Amy is your time and in a world where we feel there isn’t enough hours in the day, I thank you for taking time out to read my online diary.

Much Love

Amy x


This story begins with a man and a woman, not in that sense!
The setting is a hostel common room, the large space had a feeling of a giant living room of yester years. The 1970’s wallpaper and the psychedelic carpet the only saving grace was the open fire that was peculiarly placed in the middle of the rectangular room.

His name was Agustin, from Argentina, he was 28 years old. I had sat down for breakfast on this particular morning, hoping for no social interaction before my morning coffee, Agustin however had a different idea.
Agustin wandered over and asked if the seat opposite me was taken knowing perfectly well that the seat was empty. In a room full of empty seats he had chosen my table to sit at so I pulled my unsociable head out of my ass and invited him to take a seat.

Agustin and I faced each other, although we were sharing a dormitory we had exchanged very few words.
I asked him about home and how long he had been on the road, he told me that he had only been in New Zealand for one month and that he was the eldest of three children (one boy two girls).
One the surface you’d be forgiven for thinking that Agustin and I had nothing in common other than our love for travel but you would be very wrong.

Firstly Agustin asked me about the English’s obsession with tea, I explained that it is not the actual substance of tea that is important but what tea stands for, the invitation of having a simple “cuppa” or “brew” can be interpreted as a request for ones company or in other words “I’ve missed you” “ I really need to talk” “it’s been ages since we’ve talked” “I just want you to know that I care” “I love you” and so on. Like life, it is not what is said but what is not said that tea signifies. Agustin responded by nodding he tells me that Mate (a South American caffeinated hot drink) also has the same meaning but he articulated it beautifully by saying it is not about the Mate, it is about who you drink the Mate with. To his delight I said “I could not of explained it better myself and my only language is English”.

He gets onto a more serious subject, why was I on the road? I explained that I was feeling lost about the choices I had made and that things had not turned out as I expected. I confessed that my first mistake was to expect anything, Agustin shrugged his shoulders and told me “expectations is normal Amy but yes it hurts when it goes wrong.” I open up saying that I was upset with my career choices, his response was ‘do you enjoy it?” “No” I said. Agustin acknowledges with a soft knowing glance.

I go further by explaining that it has taken me six months to finally be able to say out loud that I was unhappy, that I had spent twelve years in the health industry, thinking that because I am a kind and caring person I should go into this profession when actually it brings me no sense of wellbeing, happiness or  lifestyle. I quickly injected into the conversation that I was good at my job, I enjoyed the people part of my work just not everything else, Agustin raises his hand to stop me, to stop me justifying my statement as if to say “it’s okay to be truthful, there’s no judgement here.” To my relief I could see that he was just listening not judging.

Agustin looked at me and said “Amy I envy you, you can say it out loud, I went to university for five years and during my third year I hated my studies but I thought it was just the third year. I started out wanting to be a mechanical engineer like my father and his brothers, my family have a business and I thought I should do this but now I am a mechanical engineer, I.” Agustin pauses, his shoulders hunched up almost to his ears, I do what I can to help by asking, “Do you like it?” He was looking down at his breakfast, lost in thought, “No Amy I don’t, I hate it, I should never have followed in my father’s footsteps, I thought I was doing the right thing but I was doing it because I didn’t know what else to do so I just followed what most men in my family have done. Now I am unsure on how to go forward, I don’t know where to start, for me this is the first time I have said this out loud, for me this is a very important conversation to have, other than a few friends no one else knows that this is how I feel.”
As Agustin said this statement I could see the tension leave him, his shoulders softened, like a big sigh of relief washed over him, he told me about his love of cooking and how he has family in Italy that he would like to visit, he said that he has no concept of time, like a true Latino he is always running late.

Before I knew it, it was lunchtime and Agustin offered to share his lunch with me (I had previously planned to go out for lunch but that was before I had a breakfast partner). I agreed on the pretense that I would do the washing up, explaining to Agustin that it was a rule in my house (Mum’s rule) that whoever cooks should not do the washing up.
Agustin smiles and says “we have the same rule in my house, I think it must be a mum thing.”

I looked at Agustin and I realised that in this moment in time we are equals. There are seven billion people on the planet and we have somehow managed to find ourselves in the same country, in the same hostel, at the same time, both of us navigating the uncertain seas of what to do next. I was the inexperienced sailor and Agustin the unknown coastline, providing me with reassurance that I am not alone and most importantly that it is okay not to know what to do next.
I suppose the moral of this story is a problem shared is a problem halved, it can be lonely trapped in your own head, thinking that this is YOUR problem and as it turned out with Agustin if you share your thoughts, you feel less lonely because someone else knows exactly where you are coming from.

The Maldives

I have a confession to make, I was never very excited about this part of my trip the reason behind them being apart of my itinerary was “Well they’re not going to be around for much longer so I probably should go” thought. I chose a boat trip as I thought there was less of a chance of encountering honeymooners.
This is as good a time as any to mention that I get terrible seasickness and I have a fear of open water so it’s safe to say I wasn’t entirely looking forward to this trip.
I thought what better way to get over your fear, having to face it multiple times a day for full week and so that’s what I did, I snorkelled three times a day minimum for 6 days straight (the first day was a right off as I clung onto the boat’s ladder hoping not to die or be eaten by any of the ocean’s inhabitants!).
I wouldn’t say that I am completely free from fear when I swim in the ocean as I am very aware that it is not my domain or territory but I am more comfortable than I used to be.

What I can tell you with absolute certainty is that the Maldives is paradise, these tropical island dotted around the Indian Ocean are absolutely magnificent.
They are everything you’ve imagined and seen on tv, the white sand the clear blue ocean so warm it’s like stepping into a bath, beautiful.
Whilst gliding along the calm Indian Ocean, on the horizon the ocean and the sky meet, the lines blur as if they are merging into one.
My legs draped over the end of the boat, the salty sea air and the endless horizon, all the space to relax and breathe, I noticed something, I had accepted my journey, how could I not? Why did I ever think that this was not a good idea?
It was in these thoughts that I finally acknowledged that I had battled with my thoughts about this journey.
Was it the right thing to do? What about my responsibilities? What about my life back home? Grandad and Mum? What if I love it, what do I do then?

It was in the Maldives that I had finally realised that I had been carrying around unwanted luggage that I was yet to offload so what did I do? I hear you ask. I unpacked the luggage one at a time, listening to these worrying questions, giving them time to be heard, gently accepting that I do not have an answer as I am not psychic but reassuring them that this is my road, my path and something that feels this good and this right cannot be wrong.
This was the first time I had notice these concerns and I know if I hadn’t of been on the road then these concerns wouldn’t of been there but merely replaced by mundane ones regarding daily life. I have learnt whilst being on the road that you have to hear these concerns or worries out. Previously I’d bury them deep down hoping that would sort them out but the problem is these concerns or worries they just grow roots but hearing them out that cuts the spouting stem off because there is nowhere else for them to grow.

At my current work place I have a colleague who thinks I am nothing but a walking cliché and maybe I am but it is in moments like these away from routine life, we hear ourselves, we are not surrounded by familiarities, taking part day to day jobs in our lives and homes that are full of visual noise and distraction. We are our two feet with minimal belongs and the open road or in my case the open ocean.


As I make my way around this wonderful world of ours people keep asking me, where’s your favourite place? My reply “I can’t tell you my favourite place but I can tell you my favourite continent is Africa”, for those of you that don’t know I have been to 5 out of the 7 continents so far. Once you have been to Africa you’ll understand that Africa isn’t actually a place it’s a feeling, it gets under your skin, it becomes a part you, you adjust to Africa she never adjust to you. 

This magical continent is full of vibrancy, soul, heart and above all courage. It is no secret that she has had her troubles with corruption, cruel dictatorship, civil unrest and has been stripped of her riches. What does Africa do, she regenerates, growing back stronger through the grit and determination of those who call her home, Africa picks herself up and brushes herself off.

When you hear a song and you find yourself moving your hips to the rhythm and the beat moves through you, that’s what Africa does to you.

I’d like to share with you a story from my time in Namibia, now I know what you’re thinking, Namibia it’s just a desert right? Erm no. This magnificent nation has a wide array of landscapes, some look like the surface of the moon. This country is enormous with a tiny population of only 2.6 million and that is where the magic begins, the landscapes and wildlife flourishes Mother Nature is ever present in this land.

Namibia looks like how a child would draw a picture, bright yellow sun, clear blue sky and the sand oh yeah the sand from Namibia gets everywhere and I mean everywhere, I’m still finding sand in my backpack 7 months after visiting this wonderful land.  

The mountainous shifting sands of the dunes had me flabbergasted by the contrast, the sun so bright, the sky so blue and the sand so orange, Namibia is just brightness every colour as it is meant to be. Time is none existent in Namibia just daylight and night, the heat is unforgiving but you are rewarded by its wonders.

My story starts in a campsite in the middle of Namibia, it’s 40 degrees, how do I know this I hear you ask, we’d previously pulled up at a petrol station the thermometer outside said it was 40 degrees. I was melting, I just thought it was because I hadn’t acclimatised to the heat yet, honestly I was roasting then I saw the thermometer like a beacon of hope and I thought “oh now I know why I’m feeling so hot it’s because it’s hot.” I have a thing about voicing negative thoughts, I just don’t like to I’d rather keep them to myself, moaning internally rather then externally anyway it was a relief that my internal whining was justified. We were all grateful for the pitstop at the petrol station we were like children when the ice cream van comes round, ice lollies in hand or as my Australian travellers call them icy poles.

My tastebuds and internal thermostat had had some relief from the ice lolly/icy pole, it’s the small things that makes life marvellous I can tell you. 

So we pulled up to our campsite, it looked like a film set out of a Clint Eastwood western, a wide open plain with an endless horizon. We unpacked and put our campsite together, there was a sea of green tents (this is relevant for later on in the story). 

The early mornings, heat, lack of sleep and little to no personal space had taken it’s toll on me so I decided to skip the bushman’s walk in the afternoon and spend it on a Clint Eastwood’s movie set with a good book, a vodka and coke and a cactus garden…….. Bliss. 

I didn’t realise but two other people had also decided not to go on the bushman’s walk so they joined me as the evening came by. The three of us chatted about our lives back home and what were our reasons for being on the road.

As time gentle rolled on I got up to get another vodka and coke (I’d had a few by this point) as I turned I see a herd of zebras no more then 200 meters away from us. Wow. I stood in complete shock that these beautiful creatures choose to share their world with ours. The zebras take it in turns at the watering hole quenching their thirst, sharing with others in the herd as they know that their individual survival depends on one another.

Sitting watching these majestic creatures go about their business in their environment was a memory I hope stays with me forever. The noises they make their funny characteristics and being in their presence was just mind blowing.

As evening came the rest of the group joined us one by one so what was an intimate moment became a group moment. 

Night fell and stars shine bright in Namibia as there’s little to no light pollution so shooting stars were easy to see. 

During my Namibian adventure I made a friend someone who is now very dear to me, Ellie, our friendship was started when I lost my tent. As you have read I had had a few alcoholic beverages and as the night continued hanging out with the zebras and stargazing well I was rather……..tipsy. 

We had an early start the following morning so I thought I’d better go to bed, I had left my phone in my tent so I had no light and Ellie, well she’s Swiss so of course she had a head torch with her, she kindly offered to walk me back to my tent. 

As we made our way back to camp it suddenly occurred to me “Ellie, I don’t know where I’ve parked my tent?” 

Ellie laughed (she’s far more experienced at camping then me) “Amy, you don’t park a tent you erect it.” With that I fell about laughing, Ellie quickly joined in with the hysterics and I said whilst crying “I don’t know which ones mine they’re all green!”

It is in this moment that a new friendship was born between a Yorkshire lass and a Swiss girl. It is safe to say my time in Africa would not of been the same without her although we are new friends to me Ellie feels like someone I’ve known forever. It’s like when you pull on your favourite jumper it gives you comfort, still loving you after knowing all of your lumps and bumps and bringing you warmth when you need it.

Ellie was like my favourite jumper whilst I was in Africa, comfortable, loving and accepted me regardless of my flaws.

The East


this week I’d like to share a story from my Indian adventure, India is a nation that hits your senses full on, every single one of them. In truth the moment I booked my Indian adventure I dreaded it, it was and remains a country that both fascinates and upset me.  I was completely out of my comfort zone, India had been a travel itch I had wanted to scratch for sometime and by the time I had arrived I had no idea what I was letting myself in for.

India is a hard type of travel, full throttle 24 hours a day 7 days a week. I don’t know who said New York never sleeps but I can guarantee you they’ve never been to India or landed in New Delhi or in Mumbai for that matter. This nation is colossal on so many levels, 24 million people in India use the railways each day, the railway network is the same one that was built whilst India was under British rule (fact of the day). It’s almost impossible to escape the noise in India it’s everywhere.

During my Indian adventure I managed to escape the hustle and bustle by visiting a village. The village was nestled in the Indian countryside, the traditional houses, so quint like english cottages beside them stood the newer concrete ones. The new builds had a 1970’s industrial feel to them and looked more like dilapidated ruins rather then new builds. The men of the village sitting in groups discussing recent events over chai (tea) whilst the children ran around laughing and playing cricket. You’d be forgiven for thinking that India’s national sport is cricket but it’s actually field hockey (another fact of the day).

Whilst my group rushed to take pictures of the locals, I decided just to sit taking it all in. The lack of noise was wonderful I had forgotten what it was like to have peace and calm in my life. No honking of horns, no playing chicken with the tuktuk drivers, my senses were no longer overloaded, I am just watching the world go by, watching people live their day to day lives. A woman approached me, her sari was the first thing I noticed about her, it’s bright vibrant colours of orange, yellow and black, how do they keep the colours so bright? That question is still left unanswered. She quietly says “hello” moving her head scarf ever so slightly over her face whilst talking to me. I say “hello” and put my hand out to shake hers, she smiles and we introduce ourselves to one another. Within moments a child comes bouncing up to me and proudly announces that he is five years old whilst sticking his palm in my face, his hand showing all 5 digits, the woman rolls her eyes and tell me that he is her son. He acts as translator as I am informed that she has two children, her first child a girl is 7 years old, she tells me that she likes school and is very good at it. He is the youngest and the cheekiest out of two, this comment sends him into a fit of giggles resulting in us all laughing with this cheeky little fella.

As I walk through the village I am amazed at the sheer physicality of these women, they are so petite but yet they can carry such heavy objects often balancing them on their heads. Similarly to African women who are also petite yet so physical strong balancing objects on their heads whilst walking miles. I am in awe of my fellow womankind, I am ridiculous I struggles to carry my weekly shop from the car, these women are what make the female kind such a force.

I notice a young woman in her yard and I cautiously approach hoping not to intrude, she smiles at me, welcoming me into her front yard. She is young, 15 she tells me and with babe in her arms. I notice that her baby has eyeliner on and with the help of our groups translator I am told that the eyeliner protects the child from evil spirits and my instant thought is “well of course a mother would want to protect her child from evil”. Now I have a confession before my travels I would of told you that I am an open minded person but I don’t think I was as open minded as I thought. If you’d of told me that in some cultures they put eyeliner on children to warn off evil spirits, I’d of probably said “why would anyone think eyeliner can warn off evil spirits”. Now things are different, I am different, I immediately accepted that a mother would do whatever she could to keep her child safe.

The baby girl reaches both arms out to me and I quickly look at her mum to confirm that it’s okay for me to take the child in my arms, mum unconcerned has no problems with this. The baby girl has beautiful big brown eyes highlighted by the eyeliner, wispy jet black curly hair and shows off the most splendid dimples as she flashes a gummy smile. It’s official I was infatuated and smitten whatever you wanna call it, I loved her in that moment. I told mum via the translator that she was a wonderful mother because her baby was so happy. “You are doing such a good job raising your baby” I said. The translator speaks as he speaks the woman bobs her head side to side whilst waging her finger, oh dear I thought, wagging a finger is an international sign for you are in trouble. The woman turns to face me and says “we raise her”, I say “sorry, we?” The young mother looks at me and says in Hindi “the village raises her, it takes a village to raise her, we all contribute to the person she becomes”.

I was dumbfounded, lost for words, I looked at this mother and I thought “well you certainly get it”. In the west there is a sense of arrogance, we’ve been through multiple revolutions; industrial, economical, digital and the swinging sixties to name a few and we think we know best and yet a young mother in a village in India blows the west’s ideologies out of the water. Yes it does take more then mum and dad to raise a baby, in fact that benefits all those involved including the child.  Through all our revolutions I cannot help but feel that the term family has been defined by the west and it takes a young mother from India to remind me that family is a feeling not a definition, family is those who add to your growth and development.