• Alana

Back To The Water, Back To The Wild

Most of my life, I’ve been a real city girl. Around the world - London, Mbabane, Adelaide, Utrecht, Leeds, Frankfurt, Manchester…. I loooooved the smog - the crowded tube journeys - and the noise and the crowds and the anonymity of being one of millions of passing humanoids.

I thought that ‘nature’ was having a picnic on mown grass in a small park with some tidy trees. (Or - back in my TV days - filming in a staggeringly green location where all I focused on was the radio in my hand and the actors I was consistently rounding up and preventing from escaping my frankly underpaid clutches!)

I thought ‘resetting’ was my thrice weekly yoga class.

It took getting ill to sink so far into myself that I somehow ended up back near the water and the trees. It took being in so much pain to somehow feel drawn back to the peace that nature provided: the peace that I had been 100% ignorant of.

‘Getting wild’ for me - back in my city days - was a night out in a short skirt and lots of male attention.

‘Getting wild’ for me NOW is pure love for myself: being present, recognising the immense energy and potential within my own body and - whenever possible - swimming in open water and walking barefoot on the earth…. And dancing to whatever tunes I fancy!

This major understanding broke through in an unprecedented transformation for me about 6 weeks ago.

I had had a severe form of OCD/Health Anxiety for a few years. It had begun during a massive charity campaign in 2014 when I was working stupid hours and was deeply unhappy. I had never experienced anything like it before. It suddenly started - an over the top and irrational conviction that I was going to get cancer (I’d had a few scares, which was probably why it took that form) - and hit me like a truck.

I was (however) very fortunate because I already knew a lot about the mind and NLP so I was able to self diagnose pretty quickly and I lucked out (he really did save my life) by stumbling across one of the top therapists in the country who took me on and my sole treatment was “to chill out and relax and stop taking life so seriously.”

I refused to take any form of medication and instead meditated and exercised and rode any waves of anxiety as mindfully as possible as they slowly became less and less.

Still, by May 2019 I was only about 80% of the way healed and I was at a loss as to how to get completely better. I knew that I could but I had no idea how.
Then I found a tiny lump in my breast - that I knew rationally had all the traits of a normal cyst - and for part of my OCD recovery I had to make a choice: I could hurtle down to a doctors and cry and panic or I could wait it out and see what it did. I remembered very well the old me (before OCD) who would never have even blinked or worried about it so I decided that I would take the risk: I would give it a month and see if it went on its own (or at least got smaller) and if not then I would go to the Doctors.

I made this decision just before I had to drive to North Wales for an event and in North Wales I parked up at one of my favourite spots: Llyn Padarn.

My stomach was a knot of terror. “Was I really sick?” But I had made my decision and I was standing by it….

And I went for a swim in the lagoons there and everything changed.

Since living/working out of a camper van makes you very waste-aware, instead of showering in the van I just swam daily in the lake for weeks, washing my hair with a 100% plant based shampoo bar.

I walked barefoot around the lake. I even started walking in the rain and drinking raindrops off leaves (how very dramatic!) and running through the trees there and stopping (frequently!) to really appreciate it all.

And the OCD lifted. It sounds the strangest thing and I would never have thought it possible but I simply realised one day that I no longer needed it. I suddenly understood that the constant ride of “Maybe I have cancer” and then the mind numbing release of endorphins when I realised that I didn’t really, had been a crushing coping mechanism to get me through a way of living that had been very stressful.

As I sat in the Milly Van after a swim, feeling super relaxed, there was a gentle understanding: “I don’t need this anymore.”

(And when I checked my breast a week or so later, the lump had gone.)

My OCD lifted because of the water. Swimming in the open water and walking on the earth had tapped me into a strength that I hadn’t known - my whole life - was deep within me. With that strength came immense peace and then came HUGE joy and excitement and a real love for myself.

And it was definitely from the reconnection back into our natural ‘wild’.

And THAT’S just ONE of the reasons why Pocket Protection is so very important.

An Ecologist told me recently that no one would benefit (as I had benefited from swimming in Llyn Padarn) by having rewilded Pockets scattered around them in their urban spaces.
But I think he’s wrong. I don’t think that he knows what it is to be a real city dweller and then find that reconnection to nature. I don’t think he knows how little it would take - if we all started looking for it - to start embracing and waking up to the call of our roots (our natural selves, OF nature instead of being separate) that will begin with a few Pockets of wildflowers and brambles and end with 1000s of us tapping into our inner strength.

I am incredibly lucky. I have worked very hard to be in the Milly Van and experience this mix of wild/urban but I am also very grateful for the opportunities that have allowed me this chance.

A lot of people - most urban based people - don’t have the same opportunities. So - for the sake of wildlife, bees and birds AND especially humanity - I am super committed to letting nature back in. For all of us to reconnect and for all of us to fall back in love with ourselves as natural beings: only nature can teach us that.

Alana xxx

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