Waking thoughts

coffee steps

Good morning everyone!! Regular readers will know that when in London I usually write in the mornings, and savour those sweet moments as I wake, observing my inner territories as I slip from sleep into consciousness. This is something I have missed in Laguna, where peaceful dreams are abruptly terminated on a daily basis (by a rather inconsiderate neighbour), so that my priority is dressing quickly and fleeing to the beach for coffee in search of a better temperament than the one I wake with. There I find some solace in the waves that smooth the jagged edges, and by the time my latte is done, I am smiling at the day ahead as I watch the surfers gracefully tickle the ocean. I am filled with wonder at the power and magnitude of this incredible entity, and sitting at its edge I notice how small and insignificant we seem, and arrogant to suppose we could control the world we inhabit.

However, despite my mornings at the beach, I do miss that space between dreams and consciousness, those moments of bliss where I sense that everything is exactly as it’s meant to be and I can somehow make perfect sense of the chaos that is reality. I miss the slow realization of my soul inhabiting my body, as I notice my placement of the pillow and the waking thoughts that wash over me. I yearn to hear the whispers of my heart that speak so clearly when I’m not listening to logic or the multitude of concerns and responsibilities that seep in so quickly once the brain stirs into action. I crave that awareness of who I am beyond the person in the life I’m living, but as a force of nature and a spiritual being, without form or boundaries, limits or ambition. And yet I’m acutely aware, that when I’m not here I will miss the ocean, and it will fill my dreams with it’s overwhelming power and mystery, and I will wish I was on the steps at the beach, sipping my coffee : )) Blessings & love Hxx

{Photo sadly uncredited, via Pinterest; words by Hayley Darby © 2013}

Great things happen, if we let them!

surf smile

Think about the things that made you really happy, I wonder how much was planned, and how often it was something you weren’t expecting or couldn’t have predicted? Some surprises take our breath away, and those are the moments of pure unexpected joy that fill our hearts to bursting with love and smiles. Trust me, it’s the unexpected gifts that life bestows that we will treasure most; for we cannot imagine the beautiful possibilities that wait for us to let them happen ❤ Hxx

{Photo sadly uncredited, via Pinterest; words Hayley Darby © 2013}

Love selfishly (26th July 2013)


I wonder if you’ve been let down, or if you’re feeling disappointed, or if you give too much and are feeling depleted? Sometimes we’re very good at caring for others, but somehow manage to miss meeting our own emotional needs and get too busy to be kind to ourselves. Yet when we make time to notice how we are feeling, and discover what it is we need in this moment, we are serving others by taking time to “be selfish”. When we meet our own emotional needs, we are able to give generously from a place of abundant compassion and love; and can burn brightly in the darkness that surrounds us, sharing our positive energy without fatigue or resentment. What are you doing to take care of you? Make sure it’s something wonderful, because you deserve it!! Blessings & hugs, Hxx

{Photo sadly uncredited, via Pinterest; words by Hayley Darby ©2013}

My first surf lesson (20th July 2013)

me surfingHi everyone!! It’s been another amazing day here in SoCal, and I am very aware that as the days and weeks slip by that I am busy being here, and not writing as much as I had planned; but ‘being’ just seems to be my priority, and there’s been a lot of ‘being’ to be! Today though was an especially awesome day, and one I want to commit to memory through written word, a reminder to read again when I need to remember how awesome it felt to face a fear, and how much I loved my first surf lesson!

I love the ocean, if you didn’t know this already, ‘welcome’ you must be new here! I dream about it when I’m at home in London, and feel most at home on a beach than anywhere else, and although I can swim I’m not terribly confident in the water. In Greece, where I have spent many happy times, I swim in crystal clear waters that are often have a pond like surface; here in Socal I could watch the waves gracefully arc and fall for hours, but have never ventured out to greet them, until today that is. Today I took my very first surf lesson, and pushed through my fears and self-imposed limitations as I swallowed my pride, and a more than a mouthful or two of salty water, to attempt something I’ve been telling myself for years that I would have tried if I was younger. Well I’m never going to be younger again than I am at present; but my courage found a friend in a patient and kind teacher, and it seemed like an adventure with my name emblazoned on it.

Growing up inland, I never really learnt to swim proficiently, it was only in my late 20’s that I learnt to breathe as I swam the length of the pool, albeit with my head out of water like a swan. Then in my thirties, after being seduced by the Greek sea, I took a single lesson to acquire a better technique (with the help of goggles), and can swim a reasonably acceptable breast-stroke back and forth across my favourite bays, watching the fish that glide beneath me. This gave me a taste of a calm, serene world that I fell in love with, an escape from the ridiculous chatter that pollutes my brain and a way to reconnect on a deeper level. However as my travels took me to shores of ferocious oceans (Bali, Australia, and California), my love of the deep remained in the form of a spectator, as I watched and admired the surfers from afar, enchanted as they played so elegantly amongst such unharnessed power.

I really never thought I’d be brave enough, or that I could be fit or agile enough, or indeed any kind of enough to put my life out there, leashed to a board, an inanimate object amongst the frighteningly fierce forces of the deep and daunting depths of the ocean. I’ve read too many Tim Winton novels and seen too many surf movies (Point Break, Lords of Dogtown et al.) where the dangers have been spelt out explicitly to enhance the drama; and I’ve met strong (sometimes cute) men in Bali, propping up bars with their ‘survivor’ stories, scars and injuries. However, there is something enticing about the sport; the freedom and oneness with the ocean, not to mention the ‘aloha’ culture and the tanned lithe bodies, and as I’ve been watching the waves here in Laguna the temptation has been calling, quietly yet persistently.

So when I met L a surfer-girl from Hawaii as I sat with coffee at ‘Brooks’ one morning, I was instantly charmed by her courage and dedication to a sport that steals her from her husband for hours daily. He surfs too, and shapes boards for a living, but his love of the waves cannot compete with his wife’s dedication, her escape and coping mechanism for any stress she’s encountered. Chatting one day, L’s husband asked if I’d give her a nutrition consultation, and since I cannot take payment (without a US work permit) she suggested a surf lesson in return. It was a pleasure to share my knowledge and understanding, not to mention my passion of healthy eating, yet part of me was unsure about accepting the lesson. However, L has a very understanding and patient character, someone I could trust, and hence it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.

So today we met early, emboldened with coffee and well wishes from fellow wave watchers in Laguna, and drove up to Newport where the water is shallower for further, and there are less rocky outcrops to encounter. We drove through the cute homes on the Balboa peninsula and took the 3 car ferry across to the island, praying patiently to the ‘parking Goddess’ for a space near the pier for L’s flatbed truck that suits her immensely, despite her petite frame and feminine appearance. We changed into wetsuits, luckily we are the same size although I’m six inches taller, and once I’d got that far (one doesn’t merely dress but struggles into neoprene I discovered) I realised I was committed, and there was no going back without the burden of a regret too heavy to carry.

We practiced on sand initially, the jump from paddling whilst lying to standing, and I discovered I’m ‘goofy’ which means I’m left-footed, despite being right-handed, rather than simply as inelegant as the Disney character might be if he surfed; and I’m sure he’d be far more elegant than I anyway. We waded out, jumping the galloping white horses of waves that tumbled over each other and into the shore, then turned to present our backs to resist them as they got stronger, before launching ourselves over them as we progressed further out, deeper and deeper out of my comfort zone. I am not adept at keeping my eyes open under water, and struggle to clear the drops that cling to my eyelashes on surfacing; so feeling disorientated and utterly vulnerable I climbed to sit on the board as L held the nose steady for me, as steady as she could out of her depth between the sets. It took a while to get my position, evidently I need a longer board to stand on since I’m tall, but the light board we took today was a perfect introduction to feel the waves, learn to catch them as they crested, and practice paddling; and as soon as I caught my first one properly, somewhere between realizing that the sensation of joy that was propelled by the energy of the sea playing with me, I knew the desire exceeded my fear, and I was eager to try again and again. I did have some epic wipe outs, and felt incredibly impuissant in the force of the waves as they pounded my body, and tasted the bitter salty water that stang my eyes so viciously. Yet each time I recovered quickly, and got back on the board to paddle over the breakers to wait for the next wave I might try and ride on. After several hours I felt fatigue creep over me, and as we returned to the beach I felt myself grinning all over!

There were several novices in the friendlier water by the pier today, and we acknowledged each other’s progress and somehow avoided colliding and injury. And as we rinsed the salt from our wetsuits in the shower after our efforts, it felt somehow surreal that I too had partaken in this activity rather than just watching from the sidelines. As if I couldn’t quite believe that I had been the girl in the water, afraid but stubbornly determined, as if I had observed that part of me between feeling the sea carry me and giggle as it playfully pushed me, in the manner of my father swinging me around as a toddler.

Today I had my first surf lesson and it was awesome! I faced a fear and although I’m still afraid, I know how it looks and feels, I experienced it’s textures and tasted it, to discover that it’s something I can cope with, that yes it will knock me down, but I can withstand more than I thought, and for now I’m ready to get back up again, and I’m ready to be that afraid again, as soon as possible! Maybe you have a fear that’s not nearly as scary close up as it seems from afar, I guess the only way to find out, is to plunge right in and take a closer look! ‘Stoked’ and happy, and so very grateful for my kind and patient teacher : )) Blessings & love, Hxx

Photo & words: Hayley Darby ©2013

Laguna Beach 1st July 2013

Me pj

Good night everyone, I have had another beautiful day in Laguna, spending the cloudy morning walking on the beach with dear EF catching up on our recent trips (She to Oklahoma, me to Vegas). Apparently the ‘June gloom’ (sea mists) didn’t get the memo that it was July today; but the clouds shifted this afternoon and after green juices at ‘The Stand’ and lunch on the patio, I pottered down to the beach to work hard on my tan. I had planned to read, and maybe even to work on the book I’m writing, but all good intentions went by the wayside when dolphins distracted me, as they leapt gracefully playing not far from the shore. So I spent some time contemplating all I have to be grateful for in this gorgeous corner of California, and then went to yoga, leaving my work waiting.

Suddenly it’s July 1st and I’m sitting here with my tea (chamomile & rose) wondering how the last 4 weeks of my stay here have flown by so quickly. I had decided that June was a month for me, time to relax and reflect; acclimatise, settle in to my new abode and take care of my body. I have enjoyed my morning coffees with the ocean, walks on the beach, yoga, pottering around the shops and art galleries, a trip to the spa and stopping to smell the jasmine. And then last week, for a complete contrast and change in scenery, I went to Vegas, Baby!

My dear friend EF suggested I take a trip on a private jet with a friend of hers who was re-positioning a Gulfstream 3 to Vegas.. and I said ‘yes!’, because seriously, who would say no?. So I hired a car, and possibly the bravest part of the whole adventure was driving myself to Burbank, through LA on the freeway; or ‘fearway’ as it’s affectionately termed. The motorways in the UK generally have 3 lanes in each direction, and they are fairly well adhered to as fast/med/slow lanes for overtaking; unlike the 6 lanes of the I-5 which happens to merge confusingly around the city. After sitting in traffic at a complete standstill a few miles from the airport, my iphone battery quickly died taking my GPS out of the equation, something I am not used to relying on. Thankfully I had remembered the names of the turn offs, and managed to find my way the good old-fashioned way (following the signs and stopping to ask people for directions) to arrive with minutes to spare, and meet my travelling companions, (for the first time too!)

So after my first drive on the freeway, I had my first experience of travelling in a private jet; and I do hope I get the chance to do the latter again, because I could certainly become accustomed to such sublime transport (the former being a given, traffic jams included!). The aircraft (a G3) was spacious and luxuriously furnished, and travels at speeds of up to 576 mph; although it’s almost a shame to cut the journey time short. We had dinner on board (steaks for the boys, and salad for me – deelish!) as we watched the desert roll smoothly beneath us. My companions pointed out several landmarks, energy centres, famous red rocks and crop circles en route, although what they grow in the middle of the desert I’m still not sure. I popped into the cockpit to chat to the pilots, and see their view too, then as we approached Vegas the aircraft circled round to give us a fabulous view of ‘the strip’ before landing smoothly and being whisked away directly off the tarmac to our hotel. If you ever require a chartered jet (various models); or any ground transportation service (limo’s, coaches, sedans or SUV’s) then I can’t recommend AmeriCharter highly enough! (Find more info at http://www.americharter.com, and tell them I sent you!)

My first trip to Las Vegas was a blast, and I have to say a BIG thank you to the company I kept who made it such fun. The evening started with champagne cocktails whilst being serenaded by a giant frog, (whenever I hear Louis Armstrong’s Wonderful World, I will remember this rendition). We walked along the strip to admire the fountains at the Bellagio, popped into ‘Paris’ & ‘Venice’ (conveniently right next door to each other) and somehow managed to have the best view of the Hooter’s swimwear pageant from our hotel rooms; which the boys vehemently deny any prior knowledge of.. Hmmmm! We joined the pool party at Rehab, reclining in our cabana between water polo and trips down the waterslide; we got fabulous seats at a show, ate delicious gelato, and of course we had a little flutter on blackjack, celebrating our win with more champagne and smiling all the way home. Then on our departure day after a divine breakfast at Bouchon (at The Venetian) we made our way to the airport, checking in on a regular flight back to LA, not quite so decadent as our outward bound journey, but chilled and happy. If I return to Vegas, it will have a lot to live up to, but isn’t that the point of Vegas, Baby?

So you see, as I sat on the beach today I had a lot to be grateful for; which is possibly why I rushed to yoga and didn’t get much work done; but at least it gives me more to focus on tomorrow I hope that at least once in your lifetime you get a surprise opportunity arrive unexpectedly out of ‘nowhere’, and that you’re brave enough to say ‘yes’ and let life treat you too! Blessings & love, Hxx

{Photo: me boarding the G3, but seriously, don’t you think it suits me??!! ; )) Spoilt rotten and loved every minute Hxx; words by Hayley Darby ©2013}

Laguna Beach 24th June 2013


Today I had a slow start, waking to cloudy skies and a headache; both of which cleared quickly after an indulgent trip to the spa <sigh!>. Whilst I was there, just chilling and staying out of trouble, I received a text message from darling EF asking: “Do you want to go to Vegas on a private jet with my friend the pilot?” My reply: “Ummmmmm.. yeS!” So much for staying out of trouble! Well I was only telling her yesterday that I want to try something new every week, and make this summer a little adventure; I should have known I was asking for trouble telling her!

So I am going on a little jaunt, and if you happen to be in Vegas and would like to say ‘Hello’ it would be lovely to meet you! I arrive on Wednesday, depart on Friday, have a free schedule and apparently two charming gentlemen to keep me company! I feel so blessed, to have such lovely friends & such amazing generous opportunities; seriously though it’s wonderfully bizarre, I mean I couldn’t make this up if I tried!

Other things that made me smile today included: A huge coffee & pistachio gelato ice cream, a border collie puppy called ‘Dallas’ that I met on the beach, a homeless man’s toothless smile when I told him he was beautiful too, some Laguna art (poetry moulded in fence railings), a beautiful sunset, a text message from a friend at home, a phone call with a new friend here, the sand between my toes, and the feeling that my life is expanding again.

Life is a treat, I do hope that you are grabbing it with both hands too, and that something wonderful is waiting to surprise you! I am sure it is, we never know what’s around the corner! Keep your eyes, ears and hearts open! Hugs & love Hxx

{Photo sadly uncredited at source, words by Hayley Darby © 2013}