Opening the gates


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As I write this we are on day 30 of Duolingo. At the Portuguese café I said Obrigada so well a man spun around surprised and asked me if I was in fact Portuguese. The reality is I can only say badly pronounced sentences such as ‘the woman eats an apple.’ ‘You need to get close, get a Portuguese boyfriend,’ he said.

We like to keep a low profile; this was shattered when our car alarm went off nine times in the middle of the night; we slept through it and the neighbour over the road banging on the door…

I got temporarily traumatised by some training on my induction training. Not by the huge volume of eLearning I had to work through, a problem that will be familiar to anyone working in health and social care. No, by the Safeguarding Adults training. Tip- if you are of a sensitive disposition, and the trainer says, this video comes with an extreme trigger warning, I cannot stress this enough, and gives you an option of not watching it, then don’t watch it. Anyway.

I used to follow the Buddhist teaching of ‘guarding the gates of your senses.’ I remained resentful, furious even, if people told me things I didn’t want to hear, because in some cases it took me years, over a decade, to forget.

My first thought was, I’m going to be stuck with this now, possibly for the rest of my life. I didn’t want to be alone, I wanted to cuddle all the time, I was extremely sensitive to the slightest raised voice or joke seriousness. I didn’t want to be in the bedroom alone. I didn’t even want to be outside the front door having a cigarette alone. I didn’t want to be alone with my thoughts. I went over and over it, in the complete detail. I tried to push it away, it kept coming. In the end I allowed it to come without pushing it away.

I searched for the lesson in it, (beyond, heed trigger warnings- which I did on the next batch of training, protecting myself this time) and concluded that it was my horizons being forcibly expanded. I’ve chosen a job in this field, and that means I’m going to come face to face with things that most people do not want to think about. Maybe it is time to Open the Gates. Perhaps to become stronger and manage more than I realised. Perhaps like Ganesh in Pushkar, who told us he watched the news in India, so that, ‘I know there is everything.’

Shortly after this, I had a Conversation With My Son About The Past. This was set up by my husband on the request of my son, after having done preliminary conversations with us both. I had previously thought I would go to my grave having never had this conversation but on the day I actually initiated it. I felt dizzy only for a moment, then it was tolerable. I moved, and leant on the doorframe. It was like stepping through a portal, or breaking the fourth wall. A few days after that, he called my husband and said he was making two important actions to look after his health. Is that a coincidence? There’s no such thing as coincidences.

The back bedroom, the warmest, sunniest, sweetest room in the house

Of course it can’t stay like that… Because we have stuff, and because of who we are. We wear the house lightly. This messy minimalism, helps me not to take it all too seriously.

Understanding shadow work, at last, as it pertains to me, not as an abstract theory or Instagram saying. I realised that pushing away that aspect of me also pushes away the creative individual. I hold onto some ideal which I’m not, and deny the sparky original aspects of myself into the bargain. I never understood this properly before. By accepting the so called bad you accept the so called good. Instead of blocking, and continually hoping for something else, some impossible wish; instead accepting what is, and then what is comes rushing in, and it isn’t, after all, that bad. I’m constantly tensed against so much, literally twisting and turning away, from what, what is so bad?

Shadow work, all work, is a continual process of waking up, realising, forgetting, learning; like peeling an onion until all that’s left is you, sitting in an empty room, alone.

Thank you very much for reading


1. You will receive a body

2. You will learn lessons

3. There are no mistakes, only lessons

4. A lesson will be repeated until it is learned

5. Learning lessons does not end

6. ‘There’ is no better than ‘here’

7. Others are merely mirrors of you

8. What you make of your life is up to you

9. Life is exactly what you think it is

10. Your answers lie inside of you

11. You will forget all of this

12. You can remember it whenever you want

There is no better than Here: Part Two


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I need to delete the app from the swimming pool in Northamptonshire, cold and run down, every other locker broken, where I still went at eight or nine at night even in the winter.

Before that, the pool in Hertfordshire where I often only went to shower.

Before that no swimming, travelling, before that the UEA or Riverside in Norwich. Before that St Augustine’s with its three terrifying diving boards. Before that, secondary school indoors, before that primary school outdoors.

My first really good swim here, at the beautiful, brand new Marina, an eight minute walk from my house. I have a brand new beautiful swimming pool an eight minute walk from my house! Arriving in the deep end, resting my feet on a convenient shelf, I look up and see the arcades, and what looks like a Sea Goddess, facing out to sea, strong and powerful. Coming out, I feel gravity come back into my body. You can walk through the café and out the back doors which open right out onto the beach.

This is my sixth job in five years; up until we went travelling I did the same job for seven years but since we got back to the boat mooring I’ve done a few months in one role, then a year in a different role at the same place, then a year in Hertfordshire, taking the boat with us for a continuous cruising adventure; then back at the boat mooring a different job for six months until moving to the house; which is in a different town but in the same county (Norfolk) as where we were before going travelling.

On our return, we have been very disappointed with Norfolk racism. ‘I’m not a racist but…’ John’s new work colleagues (he called them out and since then he changed jobs.)

‘Oh, I met the neighbour.’ John said

‘Oh good,’ I say.

‘He’s a racist.’ John says.


So now I test people out straightaway, my new friend, let’s establish this before we go any further. ‘I love it that it’s so diverse here,’ I say, ‘I love the Portuguese cafes.’

As well as enjoying the cafes, having visitors to the house has been very nice.

Our dear friend DW came with a huge desk, an Ikea bookcase, coffee tables; calmly putting it all together for us. So kind. Another trip, more gifts, shiny, quality cutlery gleaming in the kitchen drawer. Arranging plain and neutral plates and bowls in the cupboards, opening the doors to admire them.

Working from home, online training, we had a forty-five minute lunch break so I walked down to the sea. A six minute walk from my front door to my feet on the sand! I’d already planned to paddle. I carried my trainers this time, having had my previous pair stolen while paddling before we moved in. The water was very cold. The sun was shining. Several families were at the water’s edge. The wheel gleamed.

The pods are back on- the Season and Summer are near!

Video of starlings on my Instagram

Sometimes if it’s late, John meets me at the pool. ‘We’re walking a different way home, I found this place where the trees are full of birds,’ he said one evening. ‘Don’t walk here by yourself when it’s late.’ He said he had walked behind a man yelling at another man. ‘If I see you again I’ll cut your fucking head off! Oh, sorry Sir,’ he said hastily when he saw John. 

Usually the starlings are at the top of our road, then later, above the trees where they sleep. I followed them, the sound of their wings beating overhead. Later I saw poop on my coat, but I didn’t care.

We followed them to the trees, then crossed over the road, avoiding the poop this time, and watched them swoop over the trees, then land in waves, around a third of them landing, and again, and again, like a table cloth being folded, and that was that, hundreds of them, tucked up for the night.

One evening I drove straight to the pool after work and parked at the Marina car park. It was dusk. Ahead of me the sea and sky a vibrant blue against the golden sands and green netting. Wellington Pier glowed its magical hues. Like the place in Vietnam. Like love. Enjoying the interstitial time and oatcakes and a banana, in the rear view mirror the sunset and the starling murmuration.

In a session with my clinical supervisor at work: ‘I feel you are in exactly the right place,’ she said. I’m still learning, growing, reflecting.

What I’ve been listening to/watching

Reginald Perrin (triggering fleeting moments of existential crisis when we first moved in: should we have come back, to a house, to Norfolk? Will we, do we need to, run away again?

TalkSPORT, always. Why I love Laura Woods

Diary of a CEO- Steven Bartlett’s (from Dragon’s Den) podcast-

– Raphael Rowe (journalist with a podcast and Netflix series, previously was wrongly convicted and spent 12 years in prison)

-Peter Crouch (footballer)

-Jesse Lingard (footballer)

‘I know you’re obsessed right now but do you think at some point we could listen to something other than football?’

GY favourites:

Original Projects

My Instagram @always_evolving_ever-real

My GY Instagram @living_in_GY

My husband’s Instagram @travelswithanthony

My husband’s GY Instagram @love_4_GY


1. You will receive a body

2. You will learn lessons

3. There are no mistakes, only lessons

4. A lesson will be repeated until it is learned

5. Learning lessons does not end

6. ‘There’ is no better than ‘here’

7. Others are merely mirrors of you

8. What you make of your life is up to you

9. Life is exactly what you think it is

10. Your answers lie inside of you

11. You will forget all of this

12. You can remember it whenever you want

There is no better than Here*


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And just like that, everything changes.


23rd November 2022- I’m writing this from the boat, it’s past eight in the evening, a World Cup group stage game, Belgium vs Canada, is coming to an end. The wood burner is thoroughly going, and the boat is warm (except for the loo area). I’m wearing two pairs of socks, sweat pants, three vests, a long sleeved top and a jumper (and a hoody when I go to the loo!) I got home from work, ate strange week-before-payday economy foods (a stale white roll briefly soaked in oat milk, and drizzled with agave nectar (vegan honey), delicious, eaten in my coat before even starting the fire, and later a bowl of curry super noodles in lots of water, functional, warm and filling. This is more as an exercise rather than absolute necessity; I still have money in the bank, and savings. I acknowledge the privilege of my position. But when I’m here alone I often prefer to eat toast and cereal or a Pot Noodle, enjoying the freedom of not cooking or eating a proper meal.

I also enjoy eating out of the cupboards, which are stocked with packets of lentil dahl, rice and various tins. I still remember a before-pay-day cupboard meal of well over a decade ago: saffron rice followed by big bowls of custard, absolutely wonderful; the expensive saffron bought for some recipe and then left languishing, the tin of custard powder probably similarly gathering dust. Nowadays we usually buy ready to pour soya cream or cartons of vegan custard.** After I’d eaten I had a mug of tea, the pleasure of a hot cup of tea in winter.

It might not seem like the best time to be buying a house, taking on the responsibility of a mortgage and bills, being as I am in the UK, it is Winter, and I’m fifty-two years old, but I feel absolutely at peace with it. I’ve just put a few things into bags/piles at the bottom of the wardrobe; being a boat it’s not like there’s anywhere to pile things up ready to take. On Friday we are driving over with two car loads. On Saturday we are hiring a van and collecting various pieces of furniture and household items which have been given to us by family, friends and acquaintances, and which are currently in various locations around the area where the house is (a three-four hour drive away from the boat.)

In between

We got the keys on 30th September, moved in 15th December and I started work 19th December. In between, we went to Great Yarmouth every other weekend and stayed at The St George Hotel, a beautiful old hotel with wooden bannisters, an original old lift and chandeliers. The rooms very clean, usually with extra beds as well as a tv, a fridge and a microwave. It is being used to house people in need, on occasion it was noisy, twice the fire alarms went off with people smoking in their room. We ate Indian takeaway carefully in the room with a teaspoon, we microwaved ready meals. We miss it sometimes, as it was a second home.

Arriving at dusk and parking up, looking out to see Wellington Pier glowing its different colours. The feeling of gratitude when I paused outside after going out to the car: Tonight we have three places to sleep, the hotel room, the house, the boat. Plus family and friends who would take us in. In sharp relief to the people in need at the hotel.

The electricity didn’t work. I had my interview for my new job upstairs in the cold house sitting on a folding chair; the interview was 10am, checkout time at the hotel, I charged everything up before, hoping the portable internet and the charge would hold out. My husband, spending several days waiting in a cold house (British Gas refused to help at first, eventually they sent an engineer to replace their faulty meter), and then another waiting at the side of the road; both cars broke, one after another and had to be replaced. Then the boiler. We spent one very uncomfortable night on an airbed which went flat. Then we got a bed delivered, then a sofa and armchair both from a local charity furniture shop.  

Hanging up our Indian parasols in my room beside a simple clothes rail with a few vintage summer clothes items on it, waiting.

Space. Eight compartments where a door can be shut. Thick carpet in the bathroom. Warmth. The lights and heat on when I got home, after going for a walk; it was warmer outside than in the house.

** now we have a tub of original custard powder again, (accidentally vegan), we have had to economise a lot; and a couple of months in realised we really didn’t have enough money coming in. In a great example of Cosmic Ordering, the very next day I got an extra day at work, and John applied for two substantive senior jobs and got them both.

Even though stressful, we pulled together, not apart. John got really into making soups and stews with soup mix, pearl barley and loads of vegetables. He would joke about ‘here is your gruel,’ but it was really tasty. I am taking porridge oats and a few sultanas to work in a nutribullet container, I add boiling water and put the lid on and it cooks into porridge for lunch, with bananas and bread and butter for snacks.


The house in which I am writing this right now, with the net curtains which I love so much: butterflies, these are everywhere, in quaint guesthouses and people’s homes, alongside  korus, which I considered but don’t want to deliberately get, more just like to spot accidentally. We have 1970s or early 80s décor, a brick bench/storage area in the living room, old fashioned light fittings, all things to criticise but which I love and I will defend their honour until I am hoarse. Like GY.

No one can criticise GY to us.

Love letter to row 116

GY levelling up

Winter Gardens monies

Outthere Festival


*Not being pedantic, just interested in language: I always thought of this as ‘Over there is no better than here where you are.’ But it could also be, ‘There isn’t anywhere that is better than here.’

My Instagram @always_evolving_ever-real

My GY Instagram @living_in_GY

My husband’s Instagram @travelswithanthony

My husband’s GY Instagram @love_4_GY


1. You will receive a body

2. You will learn lessons

3. There are no mistakes, only lessons

4. A lesson will be repeated until it is learned

5. Learning lessons does not end

6. ‘There’ is no better than ‘here’

7. Others are merely mirrors of you

8. What you make of your life is up to you

9. Life is exactly what you think it is

10. Your answers lie inside of you

11. You will forget all of this

12. You can remember it whenever you want

Online Relaxation and Wellbeing Class Saturdays 10am-11.30am UK time starting September 3rd


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Instagram @rachel_hill_relaxation

For you/anyone you know who may be interested, thank you! (If not please excuse the spam!)

Relaxation and Wellbeing with Rachel Hill Occupational Therapist 

New online class starts Saturday 3rd September 

10am- 11.30am UK time 

Online- MS Teams 

Relaxation techniques. Meditation. Coaching and support.  

Responsive to your needs.  

Energy work. Energy healing. Creation of a safe space. Embodiment. 

By donation (suggested amount £7/£5/£3) however please don’t let money stop you if you would like to attend. One link will work for every week and I won’t be checking on who has paid what!  

Drop in/drop out- come every week or occasionally

Contact me for more details and to request link to join: 

Via the Contact box on this blog

Instagram-  @rachel_hill_relaxation 

Sex, Drugs and Meditation


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What does it feel like to have a spiritual awakening?

What does it feel like to explore the edges of one’s consciousness and sanity?

What do you do next?

Sometimes it felt like the sky was splitting open and sometimes I fell into a state of bliss while staring at leaves. Sometimes I went on extraordinary journeys from within my own living room.

But I spent at least as much time reflecting on and managing the tasks of day to day living and workplace relationships; using everyday life as a vehicle for spiritual growth. Feeling my everyday life infused by this newfound spirituality, and learning to find my own way and read the signs of the universe for myself.

At the same time managing feelings of depression, anxiety and OCD and eventually seeking therapy, the lessons of which are shared here.

Experimenting with religion but ultimately not finding a home there. With my husband, experimenting with different philosophies and spiritual practices, including giving up sex and orgasms. Stretching my mind to the edges of sanity and insanity, or at least, that’s what it felt like sometimes.

This collection, of blog posts and spiritual memoirs, charts a journey of spiritual exploration and self reflection which eventually led to us breaking away from routine, security and family expectations, and selling up and going off on an actual one year trip to India and Southeast Asia, documented in my travel memoir I fell in love with you and I cried.

My travel memoir of a year of slow travel in India, Thailand, Tokyo, Nepal, Cambodia and Vietnam is now out!


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I fell in love with you and I cried is a spiritual, personal and travel memoir of a year in India and Southeast Asia.
In April 2017 my husband and I asked ourselves, what would we do if we could do anything?
We decided to sell up, leave our jobs and go travelling, along the way unpicking the conditioning of property, career and security and exploring what a life with less stuff would look like.
We gave away most of our possessions and in March 2018 we went to India, where we spent seven months in all, then Thailand, Tokyo, Nepal, Cambodia and Vietnam.
My book documents the trip through the eyes of a relatively inexperienced traveller. The sights, sounds and colours of India and Southeast Asia as well as the physical and emotional challenges.

This was a pre Covid19 trip of a lifetime; making connections with local people and fellow travellers and putting beliefs about minimalism into practice by living out of a small backpack for a year.

It is available as a paperback from Amazon, as an ebook from Amazon, Google Play, and hopefully wherever you buy your ebooks.

Thank you to the wonderful WordPress community who read along, commented, encouraged me, and published their own blogs which kept me company throughout the year, on long train journeys and in all the many rooms we stayed in. Thank you.

Connect on Instagram @always_evolving_ever_real

Body Metta Bhavana Meditation



Sending loving kindness to your body

Find five or ten minutes quiet time

Sit or lie in a comfortable position

Listen to the sounds you can hear outside the room

Listen to the sounds you can hear inside the room

Bring your attention onto your body, the contact points, the chair/bed/mat beneath you. Your hands resting.

Bring your attention onto your breathing

Place one hand on your chest and begin thinking about compassion

The loving kindness you might feel towards a puppy or a kitten


Now send this feeling to yourself via… heat radiating out from your chest…. Visualising light radiating through your body…. Saying to yourself, ‘May I be happy, may I be well, may I be free from suffering.’

Whatever your method, and even if you feel you can’t, intention is everything. Now focus on sending this compassion specifically to your body.

People often focus on the external, what the body looks like

Let us also go inwards and think about our internal organs. It’s funny how the most important bits are often the bits we think about the least. Whatever our level of human biology knowledge, reflect on the intricate systems and almost magical way in which our bodies work.

Thank your feet for walking you through life

Thank your hands for all you do through them

Admire the parts of your body that you like

Admire the parts that work well

Send compassion to any parts that don’t work so well

Try to soften towards and move towards acceptance of the parts you don’t like. ‘Your mind is as big as space,’ a meditation teacher once told me. Your heart too has unlimited capacity for acceptance and forgiveness, and that includes of yourself and of your body.

Return into your body rather than pushing it away

When you are ready, gently come out of the meditation by focussing on your breathing, then your body on the chair/mat/bed, the sounds inside the room, the sounds outside the room. Allow yourself a few moments of peace before resuming normal activities.

The practical application of Loving Kindness:

Acknowledge any truths that have come up here, perhaps you know you are doing things that harm your body, or know there are things you need to do to care for your body, from booking a screening or an eye test to looking after your back.

Follow/connect on Instagram @rachel_hill_relaxation

I want to go to Mars


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What I mean by spirituality is perhaps more of a coming to consciousness. And to quote the often quoted Jung quote, ‘Enlightenment isn’t about imagining figures of light, it’s about making the darkness conscious.’ Which means it isn’t always the bliss moments; it’s also a sudden awareness of horror, sadness, personal mistakes, regrets, pain, times when we accidentally caused pain to loved ones, and so on.

Becoming suddenly sensitive- the pitchfork photograph jumped out from the newspaper, me suddenly seeing gardening as an act of violence, tearing up the habitat of all the tiny animals and insects. (I am a big fan of No Mow May, Let it Bloom June, and just letting gardens go wild so that they become filled with the sound of insects, rather than the silence of a perfect lawn. Worse still, Astroturf, which kills everything beneath it.)

Reflections that make us better, or intend to be better, e.g. realising that I dragged my husband out on a walk with me even though he had sore feet and we should have just gone back.

This awareness also includes moments out of nowhere of total spiritual resonance, listening to Park Life by Blur and understanding it in a completely new way, not just a laddish story of drinking in the park, as I used to think of it, but of how a moment of mindfulness, in this case, feeding the pigeons, can stay with you and sustain you all day; which was actually something I had been thinking about only days before. Another 90s/00s anthem: ‘Once you know where you’re going, you can lay back and enjoy the ride, soak in the sights and drowning the senses…’ also resonated strongly.

In a flush of oversharing I had given two people books at Christmas, including my very personal spiritual memoir, and then later regretted it when it was returned only partially read. So I was really unsure when I felt like giving out books at work again, this time my travel memoir. I had told K about it, he had said he’d like to read it, and I know he’s interested in writing. And I’d had a big chat with F re travelling and she’d seemed interested. But still. I waited until almost my last day. I had to go and find K, make a real effort, ask him to bring his bag so he could put it straight in to take home. He said, ‘I have something for you too. It came into my head to give it to you but then I thought it was too mad and I wasn’t going to give it to you, but when you said you had something for me I thought, ‘’I have to now, that’s fate.’’ It was a perfectly good phone, Android like I am used to, in a case, with a charger. Mine had died just a couple of days before.

Elon Musk said when he was six people thought he was mad. He loved Sci Fi. He thought, What am I going to do with my life, for it to have meaning? Try and go to Mars. To have the self belief and determination to follow such an outlandish path having come from such a freakish base- being thought mad at six years old. Please let us not get stuck on Elon Musk, I know some people may not like him. It’s not about him and what he’s doing, it’s more about how can we do that within our own lives.

I was teased at school, felt like an outsider, an outcast at times. Can I go from that to believing that I can do something completely unique to me and in total accordance with my own values, in alignment with my own interests and talents?

Is it a quest, that we drop down into this world, everything set up for conformity right from the first days at school, peers, teachers. Creative thinking not encouraged, no real philosophical tuition. Teased, put down, alienated. But if you can rise above that, dare to be different, survive and then decide to do something totally mind blowing and say it with absolute confidence and work all day and all night to make it happen. Well maybe the reward for that is to see it. I want to go to Mars.


That sense of being in the present moment, of being on a different path, feeling my way along a totally different path, Journey to the East. At times at work I felt alienated like I did at school. But towards the end, when I really felt like myself, when I had done a workshop and made my plans to leave and do this independently, when I felt fantastic and full of confidence, they liked me just as much. More, really. Encouragement from all sides. Lovely words at my leaving do. A spiritual gift. 

The reward of nothingness, as I’ve called it before; The realisation that we are all doing our best or at least we are all navigating life in the only way we feel able to. You do the best you can with the information and abilities you have at the time. Okay so some people don’t do their best, they just do. Then again, who amongst us really does our best, every day, every hour?

Accepting that we’re just like everybody else. Which goes against the human urge to separate and judge. And as well as all that, to realise that not every problem can be solved. As I saw on Instagram the other day, ‘If you can’t seem to solve it, maybe it’s not a problem to be solved but just something to be accepted.’ Again, this goes against human nature to overcome and master problems rather than simply accept them. But trying to accept something you can’t fix does feel like work, is work.

So we come face to face with these facts. The realisation that the work, the place to get to, isn’t a place at all but a realisation: That what you do each day is the thing, the task and the lesson. It’s both much better and much worse than you hoped. What you do is very important as well as not important at all. How you respond is the lesson. Stepping outside of the day to day to see things as they are, and then going back in. The emptiness at the end of the road.

Life imitating art, or at least the news; there’d been a story on the BBC about how a discarded carrier bag with a photo of a lion on it had caused panic about a lion. Then John came into the spare room where we were sleeping and saw this koala bag and thought for a split second it was his mum’s dog on the bed.

My fleecy zip breaking, at the same time my mum giving me a fleecy a friend had passed onto her, that is just right, better, even, as it is big and baggy, and now that we no longer have cats it’s no problem having a black fleecy.

And, Aldi car park gets very busy. I was prepared to go out again and park on the road and manage the shopping somehow. I knew I wouldn’t want to reverse into a difficult space. And then there right in front of me was an easy space, easy to drive straight into and get out of. I didn’t visualise or even hope for it, yet it still happened. ‘I want what I need,’ as Robert from Switzerland (a remarkable person we met in India) said, re conjuring up things he needed.

Life update:

We have moved back to Northamptonshire. I am setting up relaxation/wellbeing classes.

Instagram rachel_hill_relaxation