This is an interview series with women that inspire me. Women that are doing cool shit with their lives. The Sunshine Sisters of the world! Be prepared to meet change makers, paradigm shifters, visionaries, game changers, humanitarians, entrepreneurs, adventurers, teachers, environmentalists, activists, renegades and storytellers from every corner of the globe! With this series I intend to share real life stories about how these women were able to diverge from the beaten path and follow their dreams. Learn how weaknesses were turned intro strengths and how breakdowns became preparations for breakthroughs!
Today I would like to introduce Clare from Freebird Flow, whose sustainability/adventure blog is coming soon! She’s one of those rare and special people in my life that I instantly formed a life-long friendship with. We bonded over the cheapest available drink in a secret Bangkok music venue (that’s how it felt, at least, when we needed to use COORDINATES on Google Maps to find it), whilst nerding out on a conversation about bamboo toothbrushes. Our paths crossed again a short while later on Koh Phangan, where we shared my bungalow and some super interesting insights on feminine wisdom and the meaning of life. What fascinates me about her is her courage and determination to live her life on her own terms. Who says that a 9 to 5, for 11 months a year, is the way we’re supposed to live?
I hope that this series can give you the inspiration and tools to cultivate positive change in your own life. At the very least, I hope you are able to look at your own situation, with all your struggles, fears, but also hopes and accomplishments through a different lens. At the end of the day, you are the captain of your own ship. And because I love nautical metaphors, I’m just gonna leave this one here: ’no smooth sea has ever made a skilful sailor’ 😉
Hey, Clare! Tell us a little bit about yourself! Who are you, where are you from and what are you most passionate about?
Hello, Eline! I was born in London and this is where I lived until I moved out for university. I am passionate about travelling the world, human connection, riding motorbikes, the environment, yoga and food. Food is a big one…
What was life like before you started this adventure?
I first left the UK to travel in October 2010 which is coming up to 7 years ago! My life was much like that of any student I guess, working hard and playing harder. I was studying Photography but realised about half way through my degree that it wasn’t for me, at least not as a full-time career. However, I decided to keep at it and even though I don’t use my degree to earn money and never have, it still inadvertently led me to some of my current passions and I’ll be forever grateful for that. It was a huge period of growth for me and where I really began to be more independent, which I think has had an important role to play in the lead up to where I am today.
That’s interesting! I have definitely come to believe that it doesn’t really matter what you study. In the end the most important things you learn are diligence and perseverance. How did you get to where you are now?
There must be so many contributing factors that have helped me to reach this point in my life, but if I had to zone in on one thing, I guess it would be my choice to go travelling for the first time. It was only planned as a relatively short trip (a couple of months) around Europe with a friend, but I didn’t have a return ticket. Friends would ask ‘How long are you going for?’ and I answered confidently ‘for as long as I can’, although I’m sure most people thought they’d see me return in a matter of months.
By the time I left England, I had a rather intuitive feeling that I was going to be away for quite some time and I’ve allowed myself the freedom to follow this ‘knowing’ ever since. Undoubtedly, I don’t always act on this inner knowing immediately (but I believe this is part of the process) and it can take some time before my mind catches up to my heart, but when it does, I always end up going in a direction that unarguably feels like the right way.
What has been your biggest challenge so far, and what helped to push you forward?
Let’s skip to my latest adventure. I was travelling solo in South East Asia and recently completed a 3-month long motorbike trip around Vietnam. My biggest challenge starting this trip was overcoming my own fear. Like with anything that challenges me, fear is often present but I have come to recognise that I have a choice in the matter. I can either choose to let fear control and hold me back OR I can choose to face fear, using it instead as a kind of trigger which allows me to acknowledge the feeling as it arises and then, move forward regardless. So it’s funny, but I guess it’s the fear in me and my refusal to let it take control of my life, which ultimately helps to push me forward.
Using fear as your driving force, I like it! We all know growth happens outside of our comfort zones, but rarely push ourselves to ‘go’ there.. What kind of obstacles do you face on a daily basis and how do you overcome them?
I think this relates back to the fear factor; periods of time spent worrying or not believing in myself and being too self-critical. Others can be critical of us too and this can, in turn, make us doubt ourselves. Usually, I don’t pay much attention to those who only have negative things to say, as it is clear that their words also come from a place of fear and self-doubt, which they then try to project on to me. We all struggle with self-doubt but I think one of the best ways to regain a positive outlook is to realise and accept that this is simply part of the process. Nobody’s life, however incredible it looks on Instagram, is picture perfect and stress-free every single day. We learn a lot from the obstacles we face and how we overcome them. How would we ever learn anything if everything was simple and laid out right before us? How would we grow?
View this post on Instagram
• This man 🙌🏽 one of my many rescuers today while I was lost on the muddiest road I have so far encountered. He had the most beautiful smile and it was with smiles that we mostly communicated ☺️ . He helped me pick Miv up twice (in less than 5 minutes), kick started her (when the electrics failed and I was slipping around in my trainers), forced the foot pegs back into place and tried to wipe the mud off my wing mirrors 😍 . Getting lost can suck… it can be a bit scary too as it is a vulnerable position to be in. But what I absolutely love is how every single person who noticed me struggle today, laughed with me about it and offered their help. And THAT is another reason why I LOVE to travel… for those human experiences that fill you to the brim with love and gratitude ✌🏽❤️ . . . . . . #movedbylife #travel #travellife #travelasia #travelblogger #travelfails #motorcycle #motorbiketrip #motorbikevietnam #motorbikeadventures #lost #muddyroads #rescued #kindstranger #humanity #vietnam #internationallanguage #freebirdflow #freebirdflowtravel
What are the ways that help you become grounded and find your alignment again?
Yoga and meditation. Yoga itself is a brilliant form of meditation and when I practice, it helps to ground me, leaving me with a wonderful sense of peace. It’s learning how to keep that feeling with you for as long after as possible that is key but this can also be tricky! Giving yourself the time and the space to let go of anything negative that you’ve been holding on to is, I think, one of the most awesome and beautiful gifts you can give to yourself. This isn’t to say that I don’t sometimes struggle to find the time or motivation myself, especially during periods when I’m travelling and have little to no routine. However, I have also observed that this tends to be when I need my practice the most, to help ground me during a time of constant movement, change and ongoing challenges.
What gives you the most energy?
Fuelling my body with nutritious and wholesome food, when I can and if I can. While travelling this is often problematic as choice can be limited. I try not to get too caught up on this and just do the best I can. Yoga is very energising, especially if I have the time/motivation to start my day this way. Even with just a few rounds of sun salutations, I really feel like it does an amazing job at putting me into a positive mindset and readying me for whatever challenges the day brings. Being close to nature, however that might look. A walk on the beach, through the forest or around the park. One of my favourite ways to connect with nature would have to be swimming in the ocean as it’s hard to find anything much more healing and uplifting than that.
Who or what empowers and inspires you?
I honestly think that my biggest inspiration comes from other women. Of course, I am also inspired by men, but from a woman’s standpoint, I tend to automatically relate to a woman’s achievements more. An empowered woman makes for a highly potent source of inspiration whether her focus is on travel, yoga, motherhood, a career, body positivity, caring for the environment or whatever else. I use social media platforms such as Instagram as a source of inspiration and to connect with others who share similar passions.
When I see other women being confident in their own skin, achieving something great or even just being unashamedly their true authentic self, it lights me up and encourages me to continue following my own path. It reminds me that so often what we think of as ‘the impossible’ is actually very much within our reach and that we only need to work consistently towards what it is we want in order to achieve it. We have the choice of which accounts we decide to follow. Choose wisely, connect with those who uplift you and be inspired!
I love it! Because that’s exactly why I started this series 🙂 So what do you want your legacy to be? Light question.
Wow, my legacy! Eventually, I would love to be of service to others in some way. I’m not quite sure how this looks yet, but I do hope to be able to combine my rather unconventional lifestyle with the skills I continue to develop as I travel and the people I connect with along the way. I am often contacted by people who tell me that I am doing something that they wished they could do. I hope to help inspire even just one person that they absolutely can, to take the leap, to do whatever it is that for some reason they’re holding back from.
I also hope that my behaviours outwardly reflect my values, despite whether anyone else agrees with them or not. I hope that my impact on the world and the people I meet is a positive one and comes from a place of compassion, hope and understanding. I hope that I keep living life with a curious mind, an adventurous soul and an open heart. I hope to look for the lessons that can be learnt from our experiences and above all, I hope to always stay true to myself.
And now the question that is on everyone’s minds: ‘how does she do it??’ How do you make it work financially?
Understandably people are curious about this aspect of my travels but I’m afraid I have no tricks up my sleeve. I work hard and I save smart. I left home 7 years ago but I certainly haven’t been continuously travelling during all that time. I tend to travel for a few months at a time and then look for work accordingly. This always looks different depending on where I end up but usually I find work in hospitality or child care as I have experience within these industries. As I am not career driven, I am open to a variety of different work opportunities and experiences that come my way.
To help prolong my travels I will also volunteer in exchange for food and accommodation, which is a great way to meet and connect with some amazing people you otherwise wouldn’t while working on inspiring projects. I would still class myself as a budget traveller even though my travelling style has evolved throughout the years, as I just prioritise my spending differently now. Also, I’ve never owned or used a credit card or taken out a loan (apart from my student loan!) to help get me where I want to be. Spending money I haven’t yet earned makes me anxious and I think it has the potential to partially ruin my travel experience. I prefer knowing that I worked hard to get myself where I am, without the weight of money troubles on my shoulders and I think this also allows me to throw myself head first into these experiences relatively stress-free!
So what’s next?
I am very excited to say that my next big step is to complete a Yoga Teacher Training program in Thailand. I have been considering this for the past year or so and have recently decided that now is the time. My love of yoga is continuously growing and my self-practice has been developing steadily for over a year now and it feels right to start prioritising this area of my life. My intention is to gain a deeper knowledge and understanding of yoga which I can then apply to my own practice, but if an enjoyment of teaching develops out of it, that will, of course, be an added bonus. It would indeed be a great thing to be able to add teaching yoga to my skill set when searching for my next job, wherever in the world that might be!
Other than that, I am currently in the process of setting up a personal blog where I will share all sorts of information about travel, yoga and lifestyle choices. For now, people who want to follow my journey can do so through both Instagram and Facebook. And I would also love to make a shout-out to my wonderful friends and family around the world who all inspire me in their own unique ways. I am forever grateful for their love, support, open-mindedness and understanding with regards to my ongoing travels and general life choices! Finally, I would also like to say a massive THANK YOU to you Eline, for thinking of me for this interview series. I am truly honoured to be recognised by you as an inspiring woman AKA a Sunshine Sister!
Thanks so much for taking the time to take part in this interview, Clare! Keep us posted on this blog of yours 🙂