A day to listen to


It started with a seed, as so many things do, and a fateful conversation in the afternoon haze. Leaning against the wall of my back porch, I turned to a fresh page in my notebook and began to transcribe as my friend Ana read out a horoscope-like prediction from the Mayan Calendar. It was my birthday the next day, Ana’s last day in Goa, and she was gifting me with a reading for the year ahead, waving her dark bronze arms in time with her Argentinian lilt, emphasising her words as the sun made its way towards the sea behind her.

It was to be a year of dragons; of rebirth, new beginnings, communication, balance, and one tiny almond-shaped world of possibility. A seed. I was to plant a seed of intention… to nurture it, and allow it to grow.

“You have to actually do something,” Ana mused. “Really plant your seed. Learn how to flow in adversity; in the challenges that you will come across. Resolve the challenges and keep on moving. Don’t let yourself down.”

As her words flowed out from the nib of my pen, something was planted deep inside me, and I knew the words were true.

I thought back to breakfast that very morning, a simple serving of banana pancakes and good advice. I sat across the table from my friend Jenny, her caring but firm words filling me up. “Just write,” she urged. “Write through your anger and frustration and fear and self-doubt. Don’t allow this to get in your way.”

The recent theft of my laptop had left me feeling despondent, but even before that, for months, I had been the spanner in my own works, self-sabotaging the part of my life that both thrills and terrifies me the most.

My desire to write.

This word, this thing, this yearning I tried so hard to ignore. That is the seed I had been carrying around, gently turning it over in my pocket, thumbing its soft brown kernel, too afraid to plant it.

After breakfast I found myself at Jenny’s house, nestled comfortably in the corner of her daybed amidst cushions and cats. We planned to spend time free-writing together, an unedited stream of consciousness not meant for public consumption.

Reading back over my barely legible scrawl later that day, it was hard to ignore the similarities with Ana’s Mayan prediction; of seeds and change and growth. I had written myself a letter, and though this was never intended to be read by anyone but me, I wanted to share part of it here with you, verbatim.

My written words will be the fertile soil I till diligently until those first buds break through. Every day I am going to walk out to my field. I’ll pull a few weeds, throw a few snails over the fence and just keep showing up. I will let the pen become synonymous with who I am, the exercise I start my day with.

The words are here. They exist. They are my words. What words they are is less important than the fact that they keep appearing as my pen drifts quickly from left to right across the page. Letter by letter, word by word, the pen is in my hands, and so is the future of my dreams.

That evening I joined my friends Kim and Candace for sunset daiquiris in our usual haunt, discussing the events of the day between sugary slurps. Something had shifted inside me, some chunk of bullshit and uncertainty had fallen away, and I couldn’t shake the feeling of being more… aware.

“Today has felt like a day I should listen to.” I said.

When I got home I tore a small piece of paper from my notebook and wrote four simple words across it. I took it outside, folded it tightly and buried it in my backyard, mentally whispering a little mantra as I did so:

I have a field to tend, words to nourish, a writing career to grow.

I envisioned my seed, my intention, and wedged it deep between the soft burgundy of my left and right ventricle, letting the words resound with every beat of my heart, holding me accountable.

I am a writer.

I woke the next morning, my 33rd birthday, to the sound of unexpected rainfall pounding on the terracotta tiles, unseasonably out of the blue. Though it dashed my plans of a day at the beach, I couldn’t help but feel joyful.

I stretched my arms above my head and let out a deep breath, expelling my self-doubt and allowing it to wash away with the rain, like the dust that clung to the sun-baked palms around our house. As the fan shifted the balmy air overhead I pictured my seed – my words – my dreams of being a writer, planted deep in the soil of India, and my heart, and smiled as the birthday rains watered it.


{ 64 comments… read them below or add one }

Monica February 19, 2013 at 15:00

So beautiful and so true, Hannah. You ARE a writer- and a wonderful one at that:)


Hannah February 19, 2013 at 15:16

Thank you so much Monica, and likewise 🙂


Carmel February 19, 2013 at 15:09

Good. Because there are plenty of us waiting to consume the fruits of your labor. You have a gift. To not use it would be a tragedy.

I write every weekday morning for about 5 minutes when I get to work. What started out as practice has become an essential part of my day. While my dream is not to become a writer, it does help me get my head on straight and shake some of the the day before off.
Carmel recently posted..Christmas Dinner & a Farewell (for now)


Hannah February 20, 2013 at 11:31

Thank you Carmel, it makes me so happy to have you reading! I have started to write every day for 30 minutes, and have been loving the process of forming a new habit.


Ashley of Ashley Abroad February 19, 2013 at 15:16

What a beautiful post. You are such a gift writer.
Ashley of Ashley Abroad recently posted..Istanbul by Instagram


Hannah February 20, 2013 at 11:35

Thank you so much Ashley 🙂


Clare February 19, 2013 at 15:25

I absolutely love this Hannah! It’s so beautifully written, I think pen and paper suits you 🙂 You most definitely are a writer, no uncertainty about that. Keep believing it and keep writing from the heart.
Clare recently posted..Postcard // Ton Sai, Thailand


Hannah February 20, 2013 at 11:39

Thank you Clare, I can’t tell you how much that means to me 🙂


Lydia February 19, 2013 at 15:40

I love this!! I find myself checking your page for new posts quite regularly and I was sorry to read the news of your laptop! Nevertheless, you need to be writing 🙂 you have a gift and I think life was just giving u a couple of signs for your birthday…keep the posts coming! I’ll reserve a shelf on my bookcase for the future too 🙂 xxx


Hannah February 21, 2013 at 08:27

Thank you so much Lydia, your comment just made me so happy!


Rhonda February 19, 2013 at 15:51

Beautiful Hannah and I think all of us, whether striving to be writers or merely bloggers, understand the lack of words flowing sometimes. I love the statement that the day felt like one you should pay attention to… how very true sometimes!
Rhonda recently posted..Puerto Vallarta – Almost Like Coming Home


Hannah February 21, 2013 at 08:30

Thank you Rhonda! We are all writers though – there is no such thing as ‘merely bloggers’. YOU are a writer too, and I always enjoy your words 🙂


jenjenk February 19, 2013 at 16:12

yes, most definitely, you are a writer!! you’ve held my attention from the first time I read your blog!!!
jenjenk recently posted..Paris: Markets


Hannah February 21, 2013 at 08:31

Thank you so much Jen, I’m thrilled that you’ve been with me all this time!


Jeremy or IHeartTravel February 19, 2013 at 16:49

YOU ARE A WRITER ! From my perspective one of the writers I respect and admire dearly !

Your words always flow with some sort of majestic waterfall, I like to envision like only the great writers can
: )
Jeremy or IHeartTravel recently posted..Getting Bit by the Most Magical of Bugs – The Travel Bug


Hannah February 21, 2013 at 08:32

Thank you so much Jeremy, your ongoing support is such a gift and truly means the world.


Kim February 19, 2013 at 17:21

Wonderful! I always remember this: you are what you repeatedly do. XO
Kim recently posted..Touring Rio de Janeiro’s National Park (’cause, yeah, they have one)


Hannah February 21, 2013 at 08:35

Haha, I could give you such a dirty answer to this, but instead I’ll rise above and go and write some more 😉


Jade February 19, 2013 at 19:31

I wholeheartedly agree with jenjenk; I loved your blog from the first post I read! Your writing is beautiful and full of meaning.
You (and a few other bloggers!) have even inspired me to set up my own travel blog that I am slowly building up to hopefully be something great!
I can’t wait to hear more about India as everything you have written so far has fueled my passion to go!


Hannah February 21, 2013 at 11:58

Thank you so much Jade, it makes me so happy to hear that! And congratulations on your own blog, I just checked it out and you have made a great start, it looks wonderful. I look forward to following you adventures 🙂


Lela February 20, 2013 at 00:29

This is so sweet Hannah. Happy double 3s! May God shower you with endless blessings, health and wealth of experiences 😉 I love how you wrote in that piece of paper and buried it!


Hannah February 21, 2013 at 08:37

Thank you so much Lela 🙂


Patricia GW February 20, 2013 at 01:56

Hannah, you continue to amaze and inspire me. YOU ARE a WRITER! xxx
Patricia GW recently posted..TRAVEL PREP: Retiring at 24


Hannah February 21, 2013 at 08:49

Thank you so much my dear xxx


Toni February 20, 2013 at 05:38

Once I decided I was going on to do my own RTW trip I spent hours trawling the net for like minded spirits and that’s how I found this lovely gem. I found your voice so distinct from other blogs and your passion so apparent. You’re not just a traveller, you are a dreamer and such an inspirational writer. I look forward to the next post (and the next one after that).
Toni recently posted..How To Throw a Hipster Party


Hannah February 21, 2013 at 12:00

Thank you so much for your kind words Toni, they mean the world, truly. I’m so happy to have you reading 🙂


Dalene February 20, 2013 at 08:15

Pure beauty. And happy belated birthday. 🙂
Dalene recently posted..It’s a Feeling


Hannah February 21, 2013 at 09:04

Thank you so much Dalene!


Katie @ Domestiphobia.net February 20, 2013 at 14:22

Just lovely.
Katie @ Domestiphobia.net recently posted..Guest Post: A Tour Around Alsace.


Hannah February 21, 2013 at 09:05

Thank you Katie, I’m so glad you enjoyed it, and I’m also so glad to have discovered your wonderful blog!


Dana Carmel @ Time Travel Plans February 20, 2013 at 22:12

Happy birthday, and best wishes as you continue to water and nurture your seed!
Dana Carmel @ Time Travel Plans recently posted..Cutting Costs: AirBnB


Hannah February 21, 2013 at 12:01

Thank you Dana!


Toni February 20, 2013 at 22:39

Heart-warmingly beautiful as always both inside and out. Like me, you’re a writer and I’m SO glad that you have discovered that and prepared to awaken that from yourself 🙂


Hannah February 21, 2013 at 12:03

Thank you Toni, I’m glad too! Writing rocks 😉


Jonathan Welford February 21, 2013 at 07:28

Excellent, I look forward to reading your words,you are in a fantastic position, a position you have created for yourself. Use your time well, create the rich texture of life in sentences, paragraphs and chapter. And…. don’t forget to blog about your progress.

No long empty weeks of nothing appearing on your award winning blog!

I await your next post.

Jonathan Welford recently posted..People Like Us – Hmm I think NOT!


Hannah February 21, 2013 at 12:05

Jonathan, your continued support makes me so happy, I can’t tell you! Having people like you reading spurs me on no end, and helps to hold me accountable. I promise, no more empty weeks. You’ll be sick of me in no time 🙂


Victoria | Bridges and Balloons February 21, 2013 at 22:29

Gorgeous manifestation of a dream in words. You are a writer Hannah! Happy belated birthday.
Victoria | Bridges and Balloons recently posted..Walking on the moon and mars in San Pedro de Atacama


Hannah February 22, 2013 at 06:20

Thank you so much Victoria 🙂


Kirsty Norton February 22, 2013 at 13:40

Yes yes, love it, keep turning up and doing what you do, come what may. A lesson in what you have written for us all x


Hannah February 23, 2013 at 04:26

Thank you Kirsty!


Jenny February 22, 2013 at 14:32

Hannah, you’ve got a deep soul and lots to tell. Keep nurturing that seed, it will grow like crazy if you let it. Keep writing. Just keep at it.
Jenny recently posted..Frog with a Broken Heart


Hannah February 23, 2013 at 04:27

Thank you for being such a wonderful cheerleader xxx


Emily-Ann/The Grown Up Gap Year February 22, 2013 at 15:15

Hi Hannah, I really enjoyed reading your post because I think it is something we can all empathise with. Even though I spent six years working as a journalist, I suddenly really struggled when I set off on my travels and started having to write about myself and my own thoughts and feelings. Writing a small amount each day definitely helps – because if you write little and often, one day it turns into something big;)


Hannah February 23, 2013 at 04:30

Thank you Emily-Ann, I’m so glad you enjoyed it, and it’s good to hear I am not alone in this! I have begun to write daily, and though I struggle with the practice, I manage to fill a few pages, and inch one step closer towards my goal.


KittenCat February 23, 2013 at 09:24

Firstly Hippy Bathday! 🙂 Secondly., Congrats for the epiphany!!! Anyone reading your blog has known for a while now that you ARE indeed a talented writer…

…like the other conments here I can’t wait to see what inspiration / ideas come your way… Ohhhhhhhh if you were to write a fiction/novel; would it have travel as the ‘background’ as it were…. That could be pretty awesome!!! :)) (heheheh no pressure eh?! 😉 )

> I also offer you my friend., ( ha! what a weird offer!!) but he’s a writer / former lecturer of MA Creative Writing – anyhoo any additional pointers/help or y’know someone entirely neutral for reading/giving useful feedback…!) < should you ever need!! …though haha! With so many writery-friends here., Prob not!! :))) ha !


Hannah February 23, 2013 at 14:15

Thank you for the birthday wishes and kind words, it is wonderful to still have you following my journey. For now, just writing the blog is enough, but like most writers, I would also love to write a book one day, most likely a travel memoir. And thank you so much for the offer of your friend! I’ll send you an email… feedback is always warmly welcomed and appreciated 🙂


Russ Bronson via Facebook February 24, 2013 at 04:22

You are a joy to read.


Hannah February 24, 2013 at 11:14

Thank you so much Russ!


Matthew Weinreb via Facebook February 24, 2013 at 04:51

You ARE a writer Hannah, and I love reading your missives.


Hannah February 24, 2013 at 11:14

Thank you, and likewise 🙂


Elisa Choi February 24, 2013 at 11:48

your writing touches me, hannah. and even though i barely know you I can feel you. You are a true genuine person.. a writer who writes from the heart. Big hugs
Elisa Choi recently posted..Painting Daily Day 19


Hannah February 24, 2013 at 12:10

Thank you so much Elisa, what a lovely comment. Big hugs back to you!


Lis Choi via Facebook February 25, 2013 at 03:12

hannah, happy birthday! :):)


Hannah February 25, 2013 at 06:37

Thank you!


Stephen S. March 3, 2013 at 16:50

I can completely relate to this post. Writing has been come my passion. A passion that completely terrifies me, and because this I find myself doing anything that let me puts off my writing.

For the last few weeks I’ve been trying to write nonstop, overcoming my fear and anxiety. Forcing myself to push through and nurture my own words.

Great post and great writing 🙂
Stephen S. recently posted..A Little Bit of Liverpool


Hannah March 4, 2013 at 11:04

Thanks Stephen, I’m so glad you enjoyed reading this post, and I’m also glad you have been working on overcoming your own fears. Writing is hard, the hardest thing I have ever done in fact. I guess that’s what makes it so beautifully worthwhile – after all, as the saying goes, nothing worth having comes easy 🙂


TammyOnTheMove March 5, 2013 at 05:20

Good! Don’t let the fact that your laptop got stolen stop you from writing. You are such a talented writer and this is the reason I keep coming back to your site. 🙂
TammyOnTheMove recently posted..Flashback Friday: Why does Barclays bank hate travellers?


Hannah March 6, 2013 at 04:53

Thank you so much Tammy, to have your continued support is such an honour and a blessing.


Montecristo Travels (Sonja) April 9, 2013 at 21:16

More than a writer my dear … like me you are a story teller. 


Hannah April 10, 2013 at 16:50

Thank you, Sonja!


Oliver January 17, 2014 at 00:32

Wonderful read! A bit like painting with words since there’s so much poetry and vitality in them. I hope there will be plenty of more days whispering to you some secrets you may already know… 😉
All the best and keep at it!
Oliver recently posted..What if money was no object ~ Alan Watts


Hannah January 17, 2014 at 09:38

Thank you so much Oliver, I’m so glad you enjoyed it, and really appreciate your kind words. There have been quite a few more days like this, and I have been enjoying giving way to the whisperings of my soul. There are definitely some very big projects to be revealed later this year 🙂


Oliver January 17, 2014 at 09:51

Hehe, most welcome Hannah! It was just bubbling out of me after reading your post. So I’m sure I found it somewhere in between the lines… 🙂 Glad to hear that there are already the next big projects in the pipeline! At least one of them SHOULD start with “b” and end with “ook” if you ask me… 😉 I will keep watching this place and look forward to further inspiration indeed. Take care!
Oliver recently posted..What if money was no object ~ Alan Watts


Hannah January 18, 2014 at 10:44

Thanks again Oliver, it’s so nice to know you would be interested in a book. I’ll keep you updated…!


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