My 'Story'

Dear loves,

I’ve had a few questions coming in recently over what’s happened in my life to bring me to where I am today and I’ve never really felt like sharing before. But there’s a time and a place for everything and it feels like a good time to lay myself open and put it out there. We all have “a story”, I’m trying to drop it and live in the present moment, to not be dictated to by any of it, but it is relevant nonetheless. So here goes…

My life may look all rosy on the outside, and believe me, it is. I am living a dream. I have followed my heart and my truth at all cost to get here and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

But yeah, it’s not so easy. Simple, yes. Easy, no. But this is no victim story. Been there, done that. Now I follow the flow and life is awesome, even when it’s very hard work.

I’ve worked in gift, wine, clothing and organic food shops, restaurants and bars, port wine houses, schools, universities, offices, at home… I’ve lived, worked and studied in England, Wales, Chile, Brazil, Spain, Portugal, France and Austria. I’m a languages specialist, translator and teacher, I teach yoga and meditation to kids, teens and adults, I sing and share music through Kirtan which is leading me to all kinds of places and people. I’ve taken most drugs under the sun, met people from all walks of life, I’ve studied endlessly in a variety of fields, wow I’ve packed a lot in.

Way back when in 2007, I was working in the wine trade, in London. I thought I was pretty happy, I had my wine career kinda vaguely planned out, finished my diploma in wines and spirits, wanted to study for my master of wine, work internationally and one day own a vineyard. Worked hard, played hard. Always pretty low income, but life always somehow provides me with what I need. I always got bored though, was always seeking something else… something inside wasn’t satisfied…

Anyway, life had other plans for me which came in the form of spinal injuries and nerve damage from lifting too many wine boxes and from being hypermobile (actually the Evian glass water for the posh Londoners was the killer weight) and culminated in a host of injuries throughout my body. Further compounded by someone driving into the back of my car and squishing me into a truck in front. My hips were out of balance until 18 months ago, I still have chronic (constant) pain which manifests as peripheral neuropathy and neuralgia, especially in my neck, back and left arm. For a number of reasons, my injuries were never properly investigated at the time (some my fault, some definitely not) and after many years of physiotherapy, surgeries on nerves in my spine, shoulder and arm (including cutting through some completely), crazy amounts of “medication” drugs (I even allowed the docs to put me on stuff they give people who are dying in agony, stuff they give to epileptics, anti-depressants, opiates… ), I found I was still living in massive amounts of crippling pain which ended my life as I knew it. I lost jobs, homes, boyfriends, health, self-confidence, trust, passion… actually at times I wasn’t really sure I wanted to live any longer, mostly because of the pain sensations in the body and the exhaustion and everything else that came with that. But something kept me going.

I retrained as a postgrad secondary school languages specialist which nearly killed me, but I somehow made it through and then had a total burnout at the end of the year once I’d secured that certificate. I decided I couldn’t work in “the system” as 1) it was too stressful and made me sick and 2) I don’t fit in and see things differently. I was in a destructive and abusive relationship which culminated in harassment, police, courts… one subsequent ex threatened to kill himself and then me, one physically abused me a few times… others always looked elsewhere and two-timed me… somehow my self worth went missing in there… My life was shut down, a mess of medication, limited movement, a closing in of walls, I could barely travel, barely walk, barely sit up on a hard chair or stool… I stopped dreaming, I lived like a victim, why has life done this to me?

One day my pain consultant specialist suggested I try yoga and CBD or cannabis. The latter I already knew, the former was a shot in the dark. And like a golden arrow, that shot in the dark somehow propelled me to the Yoga Sanctuary in Southampton, and to my teachers Steve and later, Sarah. I went and tried to get my locked up, wasted, pain-riddled body to move, I got frustrated and cried on the mat a lot. I finished the beginners course and left. And 6-12 months later returned and had another pop. And left again. Then one day not long afterwards I returned and didn’t leave until something bigger than me told me inside my heart I had to come to Austria. I have everything to thank that place and all the beautiful souls associated with it for. It changed my life forever.

I spent from 2012 to 2015 as self-employed, but barely working, mostly studying and practising yoga, and from January 2014 onwards, also sharing it. I was healing my body, unable to work much. But share yoga, now that I could manage. And so it was. A life of sadhana (1-6 hours per day), breath and body work, chanting, nature, self-study. I switched all my food to organic, bought locally, grew my own, made my own body creams and soaps and herbal concoctions. I travelled to India twice with Steve and the sangha and started to remember and heal more. I found my faith in something bigger. I learned to listen to my heart. I lived in a yoga world and life started to expand and expand out from there.

In 2014 I spent a couple of weeks in Austria visiting soul family, old friends from way back when. After years of no travel, my new found freedom, singledom and healing body led me to Lechtal and something in my timeline shifted. By summer 2015, I’d spent 2 months working in my friends’ hikers’ restaurant in the mountains on my uni teaching breaks and I was part-way through a 3 year yoga deepening course at the Yoga Sanctuary. This all followed on from my 18 month yoga teacher training there and yet something started to feel sticky. My body and mind and emotions were healing fast, life was changing very quickly and my heart told me to drop it all and come to the mountains. So I did. In July 2016, I packed up my little house in Southampton, rented it out, packed a few belongings into my old VW V5 Golf and drove to Austria, not knowing what was to come.

Fast forward to now, and I’ve lived and worked in a mountain Alm Hütte, have taught yoga and English consistently, I’ve studied German intensively from scratch at college to reach a decent enough level to function properly out here, I’m doing translation work too, taken on cleaning work,… a mixing pot of jobs to try to make ends meet… which they don’t quite yet, but it’s coming. I’ve lived in mountain huts and flats, shared flats and lived in a more community style house with my own flat in the city, and now I live in the smallest parish council in the whole country in a huge flat with a hall for yoga downstairs. I’ve met all kinds of people, especially through the kirtan (mantra & music), and I count my lucky stars every day for leading me to this magical place and space in time.

I drive for 1.5- 2 hours to reach much of my work back in the neighbouring state and my old home of Vorarlberg, so I spend a lot of time on the road but I get to come home to my mountain retreat and village life in Tyrol. I drive to Germany and Switzerland frequently for friends, kirtan and ecstatic dance and to study with my harmonium teacher. No borders living here! I love driving and music so my car’s like my club haha. It’s like playing a racing game with the best soundtracks every couple of days, except it’s real and the mountain roads are awesome. Dangerous too, but what a commute!

Sometimes I spend days alone up here without seeing or speaking to a soul. And I choose this. This is part of my work. Though yeah, manifesting my twin flame to come and share it with me would be pretty cool ; ) The nearest shop is a petrol station 8 km in the valley below, the next is another 2 villages away. No late night snacks available lol.

On the flip side: today, I had one job cancelled on me which means 120€ less for the month and I’m not sure about next month. My neck is locked up and I’ve got a trapped nerve and strong pain sensations in my neck and shoulders. Pretty strong, I’ve even cried audibly. I can’t sleep with it right now, but it’s ok. Hot baths with salts and oils, some gentle yoga, meditation, rest. I’ve been up for hours writing this, but as I’m working at home tomorrow (today!) it’s all good. I’ve got 30€ in my purse and none in the bank. Credit card’s maxed out and no idea how to pay it. No real income from yoga work once room hire and petrol is paid. Been bailed out financially by my parents again. Starting over again isn’t easy. But I trust that some things have to die for new growth to push through. I have to find more regular income locally but my English teaching starts up again this week, even if I don’t get paid for months, at least I will get paid!

It’s all coming. But yeah, it isn’t easy. Fucking amazing and wouldn’t change it for the world. Life is a brilliant, beautiful, messy challenge, can we face it and keep burning and keep learning?

Hannah xxx

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