Little Wild Thoughts

Finding My Wild

As seen in Source Mag
8th Feb 2024

What does Wild mean to you? I’ve spent most of this summer and now autumn too thinking about how we consider our outside spaces and what we think of as Wild or not.

When I rebranded my holistic therapy business a few years ago I named it Little Wild, after both our uncontrollable, steep and over-grown back garden, and also after that little part inside of us, that no matter how much we adhere to social constraints and lifestyle ‘rules’ just wants to be crazy, fun and feel free.

I’d been calling our back garden the little wild for years, each spring I’d be determined to tame it, cut it back and make it into some sort of well manicured useable space, despite how steep and yes, wild, it is. Every year it would beat me and by the time summer got really hot I’d just give up. Now I’ve completely given up.

It’s wild, there’s so much life in that space. Fruit trees, bushes, wild herbs, wildflowers, grasses, birds, mice, voles, bees, butterflies, ground wasps, local cats, there was a fox family living up there until we got a dog, now she’s made herself a sunbathing (and terrain surveying) spot and spends sunny days just basking on her bank, proud to be a fox free zone! I sit on the deck, look up at what I used to consider chaos and don’t feel any guilt for its constant rewilding.

As I write this I’m sat at the dining table at my in-laws in Manchester, we’ve travelled back for a short visit over the half term break. My husband and I are from Manchester, aside from a three year break of living in Brighton (which had our Morzine season in the middle of it) we both grew up here and moved to Morzine from here.

Despite our suburb probably being one of the greenest in the city I would have never defined it as Wild. I never really thought about how important the green spaces around me were. We had a normal three bed semi fenced in back garden when we were kids, most of it lawn for us and the dogs to roll around on.

Despite being a city family, I always had an appreciation for the outside. I remember being about 13 and desperate to be 17 so I could learn to drive and take myself off to was the ‘hills’, that you can see on the skyline as you drive over Barton Bridge on the M60. In our early twenties Daz and I got National Trust memberships and we’d explore all the parkland around our local area, then when we could afford it head off for weekend breaks further afield. We loved exploring, having some our best and most important life conversations and really seeing the beauty of the country, so different to our terraced Mancunian street.

I don’t think it was until we went on our first snowboarding holiday that my appreciation for the outside became more of a need for it. I couldn’t believe the scale and scope of these mountains, I knew they were beautiful, but I didn’t realise how they were making me feel. After a few more years of holidays, in Europe, Canada and then our wedding in Austria and honeymoon in Colorado we decided to do a season in Morzine. Living in the mountains, however briefly, changed our life. We knew we had to make a permanent move and although it took another year, when we finally made it, 10 years ago, to a tiny rental chalet on the side of the mountain, with deer walking through the garden and views for days, we felt settled, rooted.

My connection with the earth around us, the wonder and beauty of the natural world, the Wild, has expanded and mirrored itself alongside how my work has changed, from traditional beauty therapy to now a very holistic and energy driven treatment menu, I talk all the time on my socials and in the treatment room about time in nature, grounding and finding time to just be still and reflective outside, with your feet on the ground, on the grass or in the river, sending that breath deep through your body, slowing down, coming to rest in this moment, just you, the earth beneath you and if you like to, letting the rush of the river take away anything you need to release or let go of, let it flow away from you and find your stillness, your peace.

Living here, it’s so easy to get outside. To be in these epic views, not just looking at them.

Does that make it easier to let things go? Life here often looks like a dream, because visually, especially in what our community chooses to share on socials, it is gorgeous. Perfect landscapes, magical sunsets, the excitement of the first snowfall or the unadulterated joy of a bluebird powder day. We have made good choices to live here, but that does not mean that our day to day is easier. Life as an expat is tough, my stress levels and anxiety have been worse here than they ever were when we lived in the UK, so it’s not all sunshine and fresh snowfall, but how we choose to spend our downtime is definitively different than our UK life. The lifestyle is different, everyone has different work patterns and as I’ve written about previously, the interseason brings a quieter kind of calm after the intensity of the winter and summer seasons.

As I’ve gotten older and been navigating more of the things that life throws at us as we age my outlook as to what I value has changed so much; time, space, peace are major players now. I do massively appreciate the ease of being able to get outside, for the morning dog walk, for a Monday hike into the mountains where you may not meet another person, for a weekend that’s full of snowy mountain fun, this all became my Wild.

I fear this summer I became a little smug about my Wild. I had a good chat with myself when we first moved here about not taking any of this for granted, about making sure that everyday I appreciate what we have before us and what we have passed through to be here. I think for the most part I don’t take it for granted, but perhaps I became a little blurred round the edges as to what a Wild should be.

I have a gratitude practice now, I look out at our beautiful view of the valley everyday and I really do look at it. I place my feet on the earth and I breathe, I send my roots down deep and I search for balance and I know to come back to this little ritual when I feel chaos arrive within me; that’s all good and has been so beneficial for me, especially over the last few years. However, how much do I ‘need’ the space that’s around me to bring me that calm? Is it the mountains that bring me that feeling? Or am I capable of getting to that same place of stillness wherever I am?

As we drove back to the UK this October, I became a traffic grump as soon as we drove off the tunnel. Then all the way up to Manchester we all (seven year old and dog too) complained about the traffic. The dog wouldn’t poop at a service station because she wasn’t used to the traffic noise. We finally made it to the in-laws and I took the dog to the football field round the corner, she was happy, she ran about, pooped and chased the squirrels in the tree line. I grumbled about how this is ‘just a field in the middle of a housing estate’. She was happy to have the earth beneath her paws and the sky above her. I was acting snooty and entitled, about a place that helped form the basis of who I am.

Over the last few years I have often said that part of my enjoyment of going back to the UK is to reinforce that I’m happy with our choice of making our life here, especially now that we have a daughter, but really, finding happiness or as I like to think about finding peace instead, is never about where you are physically, it’s always about what’s happening inside, what you let in and what you choose to let go of.

The next morning I took the dog to another field and she happily danced ahead to and through a gap in the hedge. Walking through this hedge was like walking through a portal to another sense of awareness (sometimes I talk about these doors or gateways that life offers you on my socials). We were in a place I’d never been to before, one I hadn’t even known was there. Grasses, trees, bushes, fallen logs, some that had been decorated by children; I was amazed and so surprised, where were we? What kind of Wild was this, in dreary, traffic laden UK suburbia? The dog danced, jumped, chased birds and squirrels. I skipped, looked at berries and kicked up leaves. Glorious. We walked around, following different lightly trodden paths, exploring. I sat on a log, took off my boots and put my feet in the grass. I looked around and saw a strange shape in the grass, a kind of curved ditch, covered over with grass, but the more I looked, I realised it was an old sand bunker. This used to be a golf course.

I remembered then, how the golf course closed, then there was a big hoo-ha about houses being built on the space. I sat on that log with my feet in the (slightly wet) grass and read on the internet how the locals had come together to fight against the construction. How after some years of persistence the council had denied building rights to the land and applied for ‘Fields In Trust’ status for the much loved green space. Gosh I felt empowered. What a lovely story, what did mountains and majesty mean to these locals, who have found so much joy and happiness and peace, in the rewilding of an old golf course in the middle of a suburban housing estate? I felt really proud of the people who fought and campaigned against the construction and I imagined the families playing and picnicking, the teenagers hanging out and the happy dogs and the dog walkers, who we met a few of over our next few days of walks round the common.

Finding this special place was so good for my smugness. For so many reasons that work for us I am glad that we’ve made the choices that we have, the choices that have brought us to this life in Morzine. The mountains have been a key part in helping me find my feet, literally, in my work, but also helping me to ground myself, but that Wild, that big Wild out there isn’t the only Wild you can find.

Within all of us there is that part which does not want to be tamed. That part that fights out against rules, standards and social constraints. It’s wildest within us when we’re a toddler, then gets pushed little by little behind school, exams, jobs, bills, materialism, all those things that as we- the collective have loaded upon ourselves to be a measure of ‘success’.

As adults it’s hard to reconnect with that place, that feeling, buried deep within so on your holiday here in this beautiful Wild of the Portes du Soleil, why not take a moment to find your breath, rediscover your stillness in the energy of these beautiful mountains then take that calm, that being in that moment home with you. Find it again in the smallest and most humble of spaces, a quiet walk in the trees, a canal side path, sitting by a pond, a football field at the end of your street, an old golf course through a gap in a hedge, your back garden, your balcony, a patch of grass where nothing but dandelions will grow.

That’s your own bit of Wild right there, always around you, always within you, waiting for you to let it break free.