It’s Thursday morning.
Only Just. It’s cloudy out, but still humid and warm. I’ve been sleeping with the fan on. It’s 5:20 am and dark out side. The sun is yet to rise.
I think to myself, “Who am I? I never used to get up this early for anything!” and feel a pang in my belly, of gratitude and excitement for a time of morning I used to feel dread at what the day ahead would bring. Gratitude and excitement for this moment. In this moment, I’ve realised I’ve hit a new normal. Wow.
I’m feeling sleepy, and still really far away from that high-on-life-excited feeling I had last week when I had just gotten out of the surf with my bestie Jules – but I know the feeling well, and so does she. So I get out of bed, knowing what’s ahead, and text her to let her know I’ll be there in 10 minutes.
I slip on my bikini, grab a towel, fill up my water bottle, grab 2 apples, and head out to load my car up with my longboard and my wetsuit. It’s 5:25.
Jules and I chit chat quietly as we wake up, chew on our apples and make our way down from the country hinterland town we share, talking business, music, surfing, and all things. It’s still dark at 5:45 when we arrive at the first beach to check the surf.
Flat as a tac. Normally this is a good sign for us, because we like the small stuff – but today, its a lake. Any other time, this means a coffee date instead of surf – but today, no. We want water. We made a huge effort to get down here this early, we’ve both had a big week, and we both know how absolutely stoked we feel after getting out of the water – no matter what the experience. Off to the second beach we go – both a little hesitant to surf somewhere else, for the safety of “our local” makes for fun predictability.
But upon arriving at the next beach, we see a small swell off to the right, and the first light has just taken to the horizon. We both agree – it’s time to do this. We’ve been avoiding this beach for a few months. It’s more open, and hence a little scarier (especially during shark feeding hour!) but this morning, we decide to start before we’re ready and see where this goes.
We’re both a little shady, a little fearful, and a lot sleepy, the weather’s not so inspiring, as it’s grey and cloudy and it’s still quite dark… but there’s something compelling us to get in the water and have a slide for a little while.
We’re in the water for ten minutes, and have caught a few nice little waves in a new wave setting – which makes for some interesting and new competence levels. It’s fun and challenging at once. Then, the clouds completely roll over the sky. The tide begins to shift out, and the waves start to form a nice peak – which is a bit more challenging – in a fun way – to ride as a beginner. Onwards we go. Smiles growing.
Suddenly, the clouds turn dark, charcoal grey, and the surface of the water completely smoothes out. I’m paddling out to sea, and right in front of me, I begin to see the waters surface flicker, and spit upwards.
The raindrops get heavier. Already being wet in the surf, the raindrops pour down hard onto the entire back of my bare body and it feel like I’m getting a massage from mama nature. When you’re already wet and it starts to rain, the rain is very different. You become fully present with how it feels on your body instead of attempting to avoid getting wet. It’s one of the most alive feelings I enjoy in my life. The taste of the fresh water on my tongue swirls with the salt water already in my mouth. A fresh sensation. Two different temperatures.
The sky turns purple as the sun begins to rise.
There are about 7 other people in the water (something almost unheard of in Byron Bay – but I guess nobody else got the memo about the lack of crowds and spiritual bliss-bombs at 6am), and we are all looking over at each other, huge smiles, squealing with delight!
This is rare.
And in this moment, it hit me.
This is what I have worked for. This is what I dreamed about.
I have another momentary outburst of gratitude and excitement. It’s a true WTF / OMG moment. Everyone’s “Frothing” (#surferjargon) over what’s happening right now, so grateful they got up early and got out despite the clouds and the flat surf.
In the moment I didn’t understand the full depth of what what happening in my bod – I was just feeling the raindrops, and the waves, and tasting and smelling the fresh rain mixed with salt, and loving the colours of the purple grey sky while the sun rose, and feeling the sting of the heavy rain on my head, and looking over at Jules and squealing with her.
This moment that was the culmination, and a “pinch me, this is my reality before I even start work” moment of everything the choices I have made up until now, represent. That moment when everything suddenly has slipped into place.
It was 7:20am when we hopped out, to start our individual days with salty hair. On the way home, as usual, we stopped for a delicious warm cuppa at our favourite, the roadhouse. And away we went up the hill, feeling so stoked on life, the world could end and we’d be happy – before many people are even out of bed.
My life did not look like this a few years ago.
When I lived in Sydney, I drove 2 hours each way to a job I resented. I drank 3 cups of coffee a day, so I could function at the level I needed to, to get my work to done. I slept about 4 hours per night.
And even though I lived near the beach, I had no lifestyle. I didn’t even enjoy surfing when I went. I did things so I could function, and on the weekend I numbed myself out of the stressful life I was living.
I had absolutely no idea ten years ago that my days could feel this good – let alone before 8am.
No idea I could be my own boss, doing work that feels meaningful, and I’m passionate about – And it would actually work out for me.
I didn’t believe I could do that.
I didn’t think it was possible for me. I didn’t even know how, and I didn’t believe I was good enough to make that happen – it’s only something for other people. Special people. People in the know. Not me. I was missing the special sauce they have.
No idea I could do it and have friends who did the same thing – and we’d enjoy our free time together. (This community vibe is monumental for my own growth and happiness)
I dreamed of being the type of person who not only goes surfing, but feels happy and enjoys living her life all day.
I dreamed of living somewhere I didn’t feel the city-pressure, and being able to structure my days to suit my little stressed-out, worn-down body. I dreamed of not working so much.
I dreamed of exploration, and adventures – not only around the world, but in my own backyard on a daily basis.
I dreamed of being able to make enough money to do whatever the heck I wanted.
I dreamed of life being simple, and beautiful.
And most of all, I dreamed of not being chained to anything. To a desk, to a location, and to someones else dream.
And ten years ago, I thought it was completely, non-negotiably, impossible.
This moment in the surf, was the moment I realised what a 180 degree turn my life has taken.
I’m living in a small hinterland country town, surrounded by macadamia trees, and fresh healthy, organic food food, ten minutes from one of the most loved surf spots in the world. I came here and instantly, it was the first place that ever felt like home.
This is a tough place to live if you don’t have your own thing going on. It’s a small country town. There’s not a lot of work available unless you want to wash dishes and serve coffees or beer. People move here for the lifestyle – some at the expense of a decent income.
And, I’m surrounded by incredible people – who have also chosen this lifestyle, and haven;t needed to sacrifice anything.
I’m not telling you this to be a Braggy-McBrag. I’m actually really proud of myself, but I’m telling you becaue I truly didn’t believe it was possible – and it was.
I made a lot of hard decisions, uncomfortable decisions to get to this point. But decisions that were totally in line with that little feeling inside my gut that said, yes. That feeling of expansion. The one that brought up the most fear, and excitement.
I want you to know that it’s not always easy.
It’s not always comfortable.
But if you are willing to surrender to that sweet little feeling and follow it, follow it beyond your own fear and doubt, follow it beyond the fear and doubt of others – including the ones who love you the most – it won’t ever let you down. It will guide you back to who you really are – minus your baggage and fear and doubt.
That feeling is a guidance system so much bigger than you.
In the work I do during The Breakthrough, I often hi-light to my clients how most of the belief systems we hold within us aren’t even ours. We live the way we learn to live from our parents and the environment we grew up in. And guess where they learned it.
But there’s an intelligence within every single one of us that sees far beyond the limitations of everything we know as our current experience. It’s the same place we store memories, stacked upon one another without order – in the form of feeling. There are no thoughts in this place. There is only feeling.
Sometimes it’s all you have to go on. When nothing else in your world represents an example of what you want.
That’s what I did.
And here I am. With my hand out, reaching toward you, letting you know, with a sweet reminder, you can have this too.
I have a question for you.
What does freedom mean to you?
Not in a commercial sense – I’m talking about what makes you feel expansive, and alive, and messy and limitless and ok with everything. Have you ever really asked yourself this question?
Answer me in the comments below – for your own sake – at least think about this. If you don’t, you might end up spinning the same wheels you always have, living someone else’s dream.
Then look at your life, and – without judgement – spot the difference. You’ll find some key pointers to take you towards the next step for yourself.
Love, Hayley x x