Happiness is Presence

The ‘office’ view… Photo by Janie Wray

The last few months have been a whirlwind of events and emotions. New people, new places and experiences that will last a lifetime.

This summer I am lucky enough to be spending a few months at Cetacea Lab in Northern British Columbia; a remote whale research station in the most beautiful depths of the Canadian west coast. The remoteness is no joke, with the journey to the base requiring 3 plane journeys, a bus ride, 2 ferries and a boat ride!!! But my gosh was it worth it. Idyllic, paradise, awe inspiring and just AWESOME were just some of the words that came into my head as we approached this cabin on the rocks, set back amongst the trees and surrounded by sparkling blue waters. Countless humpback whales so close you can almost smell their whale breath, my first ever killer whale experience and just the solitude and peace of living on an island so far removed from the day to day constraints of modern day society.

Prior to this I spent a week on a sail boat studying sperm whales in Spain, 2 weeks on a relaxing beach holiday in Greece with some of the most wonderful humans, a week celebrating my graduation in St Andrews and 2 week ‘elliptigo-ing’ and camping around the Shetland and Orkney islands by myself… I think it’s fair to say that these last few months have been something pretty incredible.

Of course living your dream doesn’t come with a guarantee, there are still down days when I feel fat and useless and not worthy of love. There are days when I want to crawl into my tent and cry myself to sleep for seemingly no reason but I know that living with depression, this may never go away. However, I am lucky that these days are getting fewer week by week and becoming outnumbered by the days where my chesire cat grin starts at my eyes and doesn’t end ‘till it’s way past my toes…

If I think about what I used to be like, I am like a different person really.

I went to the doctor before coming out here, as I do before any big trip for an extended length of time, to review my current mental state and medication. “I feel like I can come off medication now, I’m feeling much better”, I told the psychiatrist of the day after giving her the brief history and run down of my case I had gotten so used to reeling off. She agreed I sounded like I was doing much better but told me that unfortunately due to my history of eating disorders and clinical depression and being on medication for the past 7 years, I would have to remain on meds for at least 2 years after I started to feel better… 2 years! I had been told this before so it wasn’t really a shock to me, but it still kind of hit me; this illness, that so many people have to deal with in our modern world, may never leave me. Because when is the last time that I have had 1 year, let alone 2 that I felt consistently ok and on top of things? It was almost as if every setback I had would knock me back to starting my 2 year ’probationary period’ all over again. Would I ever be med free?! I certainly like to think so, and in fact these last few months have shown me that now, more than ever, I feel like I CAN do anything, that I am not ‘on top of the world’ so to speak but rather ‘at one’ with the world. I am at peace with myself; my past and the possibilities of my future for the first time in perhaps as long as I can remember.

I am ok.

I am not broken.

I am healing.

And I know that my future is bright with endless choices for the path I may not know now, but will one day choose to take.

The secret?

Years of hard work. Of ups and downs and loop-dee-loops. Of family that I will never have the words to express my gratitude for. Of friends that have stood by me, held me up, folded me into their arms and allowed me to cry, made me laugh when I needed it most and just simply, never given up on me.

The secret?


Not just positive thinking but positive ACTION. Smiling every day. Wearing bright clothes. DOING instead of wallowing. Being active and getting outside; surrounding myself with nature, with movement and adventure, with positive people and just pure happiness. Saying Yes More and surrounding myself with wonderful humans.

The secret?

Be present.

Live in the moment.

Do not worry about the past for which you cannot change or the future for which you cannot know, but be present for life is short and life is incredible.

We cannot waste another precious moment of this gift which we have each been given.

So get out there, feel the sun rays on your skin and the raindrops in your hair and smile.

Because we are so lucky.

Because we are alive.