FP Escapes: To Sardinia & Corsica, With Love

FP Escapes: To Sardinia & Corsica, With Love

Our resident waterborne chef Sandy Ho recalls with magic and humility the emotion found on July’s sailing retreat…

Being a chef holds with it a good deal of responsibility — in essence, you’re looking out for those people who’ve chosen to sit at your table. Nourishing the bodies of seventeen beautiful souls on last month’s Escape through Sardinia and Corsica proved no less a challenge, but more so, an absolute dream.

We met on a hot day in the coastal town of Olbia, eager to immerse our spirits into the intentions set early in the week — To be present. To know your mind. With sails full of wind, water beside, behind and beneath us, I prepared lunch in the galley — clams in organic rose and marinated tomatoes with burrata and bottarga. Everyone was in the water, glistening under the sun. Time lost its rigidity.

Food never tasted better. We soaked up its last juices with fluffy quinoa and wiped up oozing burrata with fragrant leaves of basil picked from our boat garden. Forks and spoons were put aside, because we had our hands. We were full and joyful from this land, from this sea, and we ate like an Italian family.

I watched my fellow sailors practice yoga from atop an ancient fortress we found along the way. A place we would call home for the night. And now with the sun setting over these warriors, I prepared vegetables for dinner feeling the full presence of my purpose for the week. Every day, as our guests studied yoga and meditation, I practised my own meditation through cooking — not knowing what dish would come next, but intuitively healing and understanding what our bodies were craving through conversation.

Some nights we stayed up like children, giggling and dancing out all of our energy. Then we would swim under the stars. floating on our backs. I’m present again with those memories forged, and so thankful to have shared my meditation with new family.

+ Looking to travel? Learn more about our FP Escapes here

Photos by Stefan Wigand.

Free People Blog

For Maria Margolies, It’s All About Breath and Body

For Maria Margolies, It’s All About Breath and Body

What motivates the instructor of our upcoming Glacier National Park FP Escape? Come on and find out…

“[Glacier] is so vast, untouched and sacred. It appears as if no one has ever walked its grounds. I’m looking forward to immersing myself in the wild, connecting with the land and its creatures, and sharing guidance and energy with a beautiful tribe of women.”

Zodiac sign: Gemini

Birthplace: Bogota, Colombia

Your website says that you are a: Mystical Gypsy Traveler. Mother. Spirit Surfer. Plant Obsessed. Healer. Yogini. Teacher. Consciousness Awakener. Cosmic Dancer. Creative cook. Eternal Student. Sacred Activist. How did you come to embrace all of these wonderful qualities? This is the story of my life. Since I can remember I’ve been using my body, this vessel in which I travel the physical world as a tool to heal and access the world, it drives my curiosity. I passionately believe in movement as medicine. Movement is another form of nourishment, just as important as food and one of the most healing practices we can do for ourselves.

My interest for healing and wellness sparked at a very young age — dancer since the age of 5, vegetarian at 15. And as the closet nerd that I am, I read and study as much as I can about all of the things that interest me. I like to dive deep and not swim in shallow waters. Because of my air nature and gypsy spirit, I was called to move: to travel, to leave my native country to explore and experience the world firsthand. It was on this journey where I learned about myself and my path. My passion for health and wellness deepened and evolved: I developed an interest in cooking and experimenting with flavors, spices and medicinal herbs, understanding their benefits and how these affected not only my practice but my whole energetic and physical being… and of course, my love affair with riding waves began.

I weave all these teachings, passions, experiences, travel and studies into my daily practice and rituals. They are part of who I am and they inform my teaching as well as my holistic approach to wellness and life. But I never stop being a student. I continue to study and explore as much as I can with my teachers and on my own. I am very curious!

You will be guiding our next Escapes trip through Glacier National Park. What can our guests anticipate learning from you? Our highest intention will be to connect to our cosmic centre — that constant place of awareness within. We will be placing a great deal of emphasis on breath. I believe there is a direct connection between the breath and mind. If we work with our breath we can heal our minds, while yoga asanas heal our body. Breath provides us with our ebb and flow — it unifies, sustains and informs us in every level. It’s our life force. It communicates with our body, heals and stops the fluctuations of the mind and even increases our longevity.

Being on a retreat provides an ideal opportunity to venture within. To stop, contemplate and learn about ourselves. Through unified flows of asana and synchronicity with the breath, our experience with the internal and external worlds will deepen, tone our systems and rebalance our entire body. There will also be plenty of playtime! Plus, I’ll be sharing a hands-on Radical Radiance workshop with herbal alchemy and recipes to glow inside and out.

For those of us who can’t accompany you, what lesson/s can you impart on us to integrate into our daily exploration? I think that the biggest, most important message in these very difficult, busy times is to find quiet and go within. Disconnect. Listen. Witness. Observe your mind. Find time to connect to our cosmic center. The divine.

Nowadays we are always connected, constantly moving, with so many distractions and spending way too much time in front of a screen. So, consciously trading some of that time to mere contemplating, observing and cultivating a meditation practice is very important. A moment of meditation can refresh you on every level, give you the tools to cope with whatever life brings you, and ultimately guide you to happiness.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever got? Be you.

Worst advice? I can’t remember, it was that bad!

Spirit animal: Butterfly.

What does the word free mean to you? Free means to be me. Authentic. To be awake and keep consciousness alive. To Give. To Love myself. And to be attached to nothing, yet connected to everything.

Photos by Enrique Aviles.

Free People Blog

FP Escapes: Inside Glacier Under Canvas

FP Escapes: Inside Glacier Under Canvas

Get a glimpse inside the breathtaking campground, home to our August FP Escapes retreat

Where peaks touch sky, glaciers move earth, waterfalls carve rock, and wildlife roam free… Welcome to Glacier Under Canvas, and home to our August FP Escapes retreat. Glacier Under Canvas takes camping to a whole new level, with luxury tents and endless mountain views giving you the opportunity to camp without ditching the comforts of home. Still not convinced to join us this August? Read below our conversation with Crystal McDonald from the Under Canvas team to help make the trip to Montana that much more desirable. 

We love your mission statement, “To enrich lives by enabling people to share experiences in the outdoors in comfort and style.” Could you tell us a little more on how Under Canvas continues bring this mission to life. 

Being outdoors definitely inspires, restores and connects people!  Adventuring in the wild doesn’t come easy for everyone, but experiencing the outdoors also doesn’t have to mean “roughing it.” We provide unforgettable experiences and believe that immersing yourself in nature strengthens relationships and fosters environmental consciousness. Not to mention it allows you to decompress from the daily demands of being so connected!

Can you share with us some of the things that Glacier Under Canvas guests would be privy to: tours/activities/etc.?

We offer many fun activities that our guests can enjoy, like whitewater rafting and canoeing, stand-up paddle boarding, horseback riding, guided backcountry tours to Glacier Lake, even cowboy cookouts. Did I also mention Llama Trekking?  How cool is that!?  The park is nearly one million acres in size, so the list is virtually endless. You might even spot some cute bear cubs!

Under Canvas has a few other locations. Where are they located?

It’s so hard to pick a favorite because they’re all so fabulous!  Next month we are opening Under Canvas Zion, and our team has some really special things in the works!  I hear there’s going to be an amazing lobby tent with a fire pit and trees inside, a campfire-inspired restaurant AND a huge yoga platform with a meditation area! Each location is totally unique and incredible in its own way — but you guys already know that because you’ve visited our camps in Yellowstone and Moab!  Here’s some other exciting news too — we have more new locations rolling out in 2018, including Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

5 words that capture the essence of Glacier Under Canvas?

Adventure, relax, escape, inspire, discover.

Giving back is a huge part of who Under Canvas is. The months of May & June are blocked off specifically for hosting charitable camps. Could you tell us more about this? 

Yes, giving back is at the core of who we are!  We love sharing the gift of nature and we support organizations who work in partnership to offer that experience to children, youth and the disadvantaged.  Before our Glacier location opens each season, we host charitable camps and help provide the ultimate experience in the great outdoors — and when it comes to sleeping in a safari tent there is never a lack of excitement (or late-night laughter)!

Our mission to bridge society to the great outdoors is a priority. Organizations can always contact us for more information!

If Glacier Under Canvas had (or has) a spirit animal, what would it be?

A bear! They are wild and powerful creatures, yet beautiful and graceful.  And nothing says adventure like a bear!

What does the word free mean to you?

Not having a care in the world.  But more importantly, being confident and truly comfortable with yourself!

+ Join us in Glacier National Park this August! Book here today!! 

Want to learn more about our Glacier National Park Escape? Meet and stay up to date with our yoga teacher and holistic health coach, Maria, who will be joining us in Glacier NP!

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FP Escape-d: Revisiting Palm Springs with Nina Endrst

FP Escape-d: Revisiting Palm Springs with Nina Endrst

Leading yoga retreats is my primary focus as a yoga guide, and while I always have “a plan,” the sequences and teachings don’t completely come to life until I meet the attendees. It is a beautiful and necessary practice to be prepared, but we must try and allow ourselves to show up without expectations and let the magic unfold – on and off the mat.

After meeting the beautifully diverse group that made up our recent Palm Springs retreat, I was deeply inspired to create and hold space for these women to explore their innermost layers. This wave is from a sequence I taught one morning, during which time I felt particularly connected to the women before me. This wave is meant to open and expand while also drawing the energy and love inward. I hope it serves you well and that you will join us on our next adventure.

With love and gratitude,

Nina

Open

Meditation

I like to start and close each class with meditation. For some of us, this is a comfortable seat with a long spine and deeply rooted seat; for others, a supported bridge or legs up the wall. Allow yourself to drop in, in any way that feels good. Bring your attention to your breath or a mantra, for example: Inhale strength, exhale fear. Sit for as long as you like.

Child’s Pose

Bring your big toes to touch and your knees as wide as the mat here. On your next exhale settle your seat toward your heels and allow your outer hips to release while dropping your heart and forehead down to earth. (10-20 breaths)

Warm

Cat/Cow

These very common poses are meant to lubricate the spine and start to wake the body. First, come to a table top position. For Cat, wrists are directly below shoulders and hips above your knees. On your exhale spread your fingers wide and root your palms down as you round the spine and bring your gaze softly toward your navel. Keep pressing your hands and tops of the feet into the earth. (You can also opt to curl the toes here.)

For Cow, on your inhale, press into the hands as you arch the back and reach your heart toward the sky while broadening across your collarbones. Lifting your gaze here elongates the neck, but be careful not to throw the head back. (Take Cat/Cow on fingertips if you have wrist sensitivity.) Repeat 10-15 cycles. Inhale/exhale.

Wave

Downward Facing Dog

With close attention on your hands, start to press into the palms and knuckles of each finger as you inhale, lift your hips up and back to the sky. I like to keep my knees bent in DD and allow my pelvis to move closer to the earth as I draw my sits bones to the sky. You can also straighten the legs here and encourage the heels toward the ground. They may not reach, and that’s OK! Start to hollow the armpits here and draw them towards your heart, widening and opening the upper back. Hold here for 1 minute and see what comes up and through as you set your foundation.

Open Heart High Lunge

Lift the right leg to the sky and step the right foot between the hands, bend deeply into the right knee and light the left thigh toward the sky as you press the left heel back in space. Inhale, reach your arms to the sky and bend the elbows as you open your heart. Interlace your fingers and clasp your palms to touch as you exhale. Draw your hands gently down to the earth as you lift your heart. Hold steady here, stay soft, open and receptive. (Hold 1 minute.)

Warrior 1 with Eagle Arms

Spin the left heel down. You may have to adjust your footing here in order to square the hips. As you exhale root into the outer edge of the left foot and energetically draw your inner thighs toward one another as you keep a deep bend (front knee over ankle.) Extend your arms and wrap the left under your right, allowing the palms to meet. As you exhale draw your elbows gently away from you and your shoulder blades together and down the back. Find a soft, steady gaze as you bring the energy in, stay close to yourself here. Hold for 1 minute.

Come back to Downward Dog – repeat left side (optional vinyasa between sides).

Slow down

Forward Fold

Walk your feet slowly to the front of the mat from DD. Take a very deep bend in the knees and let your belly and heart rest on your thighs. Release the head and neck here. Let the arms hang if you wish or take hold of opposite elbows behind the knees and hug everything in tight to hold yourself here. Hold 1 minute and breathe.

Malasana Squat

From your forward fold, come to the balls of the feet and let the knees splay out to the sides as you sit toward your heels and round your spine, allowing your head and neck to release here. If available, reach your palms behind and hold heels – curl in and breathe. Hold 1 minute.

Rest

Supta Baddha Konasana

Come to sit and make your way down to your back. Bring the souls of your feet to touch as you release the hips and let the knees fall out to the sides. If you have blocks or blankets, you can use them to support your knees here. Place one hand on your heart and one on your belly. Rest for 10 minutes.

+Want to learn more from Nina? Be sure to check out more articles here, and sign up for our next wellness retreat here

Photos by Emily Sellers

Free People Blog

FP Escapes: Inside Maderas

FP Escapes: Inside Maderas

Get a glimpse inside this lush village retreat, and home to our June FP Escapes event

Do you long to do nothing, except for, say, an uninterrupted therapy session with the beach and listen to the trees blow in the wind? To sleep all day, until one of your friends wakes you for dinner with your own private chef? To surf, swim,and take in a yoga class before lunch? At Maderas Village in Nicaragua, any and all of that is possible. With FP Escapes giving you six nights and seven days to explore, how you spend your days is entirely up to you. Still on the fence about whether or not to make the trip there with us in June? Read below to see our conversation with Matt Dickinson, Founder of Maderas; Bill Quinn, General Manager for Maderas; Allison VanCleave, Director of Guest Services; and Caroline Copley, Yoga and Group Retreat Coordinator; and let them tell you why it’s worth it.

We love this quote on your site, “What began as a quest to create a place for friends and family to congregate has evolved into an idyllic boutique resort just off the beaten path in the Pacific coastal hills of Nicaragua.” What drew you to this place even then? And how did you facilitate its growth?

MD: Our goal with Maderas was to create various properties around the world that would all share similar atmospheres and familiar elements. The energy, culture, and legends surrounding Nicaragua made it a good place to start and coming from Toronto, NYC, and Belgium, respectively; my partners and I all wanted to do our first project in a place where there was sun, surf, beaches, and easy living. From the beginning we treated Maderas as a collaborative project, looking for feedback from our guests, staff, and friends to help shape the vision of what we were building and to help drive growth through word of mouth. In this way it has really always been a hotel for friends, by friends.

10 words that capture the essence of Maderas?

BQ: 

Kindred, vibrant, soft, companion, ambitious, extroverted, introverted, impulsive, charismatic, authentic.

If Maderas had (or has) a spirit animal, what would it be?

BQ: It’s more of a plant. Like an ancient tree you see around these parts, yet young.

Your most memorable moment here?

AV: I will never forget one particular night… we had crystal clear skies and brought out the telescope. That was the first time I saw with my own eyes the rings of Saturn, the great red spot on Jupiter, and four of Jupiter’s many moons. It was life-changing. And it was my favorite moment because I was sharing this experience with all of our guests, who were also seeing these planets for the first time… in the middle of the jungle…. on a Tuesday night.

Can you share with us some of the things that our Escapes guests will be privy to? Workshops/classes/etc?

AV: A Thai massage is a great way to expedite mental relaxation and put you straight into vacation mode. Your body is twisted and adjusted and pulled releasing all of this clogged energy built up from day-to-day stress.

Sustainability plays a huge part in your daily operations. How do you ensure that you tread lightly?

CC: Running the day-to-day operations here, you see just how much effort goes into each shower you take, dish you wash, device you plug in, etc. Consciously being aware and appreciative every time you do something that the environment is generously providing for, and living simply, is vital to daily treading lightly.

Words to live by/your mantra?

AV: “Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble.” – Yehuda Berg

What does the word free mean to you?

AV: Free to me is the opportunity to create, explore, grow, and thrive to the beat of my own metronome.

+ Want to learn more about FP Escapes? Check out our past retreats here

Free People Blog

FP Escapes: The Great Kosmic Kitchen’s Quinoa Bowl

FP Escapes: The Great Kosmic Kitchen’s Quinoa Bowl

Savor this nourishing and colorful recipe, courtesy of the Great Kosmic Kitchen, who will be cooking on our Palm Springs retreat next week!

We know it can be difficult to find time to eat healthy. Luckily, we find the most success when we plan our meals like our meetings. While this might seem like yet another obligation, it doesn’t have be like that! Make it fun. Let yourself have a movie night or some special reward if you craft a home cooked meal for yourself.

Hard-working folks are prone to stress and, in the worst case scenario, burnout. We try to avoid all that by planning our meals and using adaptogens. By definition, adaptogens are plants that help your body adapt to stress. Usually they have an affinity toward a certain body system and can help to bring it back into balance. Adaptogens can strengthen function and therefore help the body resist physiological stressors.

We love using nourishing adaptogens like ashwagandha, shatavari and astragalus in powdered form so that we can easily sprinkle them into our medicinal meals. Adaptogens aren’t an instant “aha” moment for stress — they work best over a few months’ time. If it took years of go-go-go for you to feel the effects of burn out and cumulative stress, do yourself a favor and give adaptogens time to balance you out! Two of our favorite options are listed below.

ASHWAGANDHA (Withania somnifera)

This plant’s nickname is “Indian ginseng,” and while it’s not stimulating like ginseng can be, it does have similar medicinal effects. The root can be used for emotional and physical stress, immune system support, and much more. The whole plant is commonly used in Ayurveda and is warming energetically. Great if you tend to run cold—such as folks with cold hands and feet. Traditional recipes include the root (powdered) in warm milk and/or honey. To get a proper dose, you will need about 1-6 grams a day.

ASTRAGALUS (Astragalus membranaceus)

This medicinal plant isn’t anything new, it’s been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years. You may have seen astragalus sold under the name “huang qi,” another common name for it. It’s used traditionally to promote immune system health, especially for those who are prone to getting run down during winter. It’s commonly prepared in broths or soups. You can use about 3-4 grams throughout the day of the powder for best effect.

This dressing is simple to create—you can use one or all the adaptogenic powders listed above. We encourage you to use whatever plants are calling to you. This miso based dressing can be used in a hearty massaged-kale salad, tossed with buckwheat noodles or as part of this balancing quinoa bowl.

Dressing Ingredients

2/3 cup rice vinegar

1/2 cup olive oil

4 tbsp sesame oil

2 tbsp white miso

2 tbsp sesame seeds

2 tbsp adaptogen of choice

1 thumb ginger, grated

2 tbsp honey

Quinoa Bowl Ingredients

3 cups quinoa, cooked

1 watermelon radish, sliced thin

3 bok choy, steamed or sauteed

½ bunch cilantro, chopped

1 sheet toasted nori, crumbled

Method

To make the dressing, add all ingredients into blender. Blend until everything is incorporated. Scrape into a mason jar with a tight lid and refrigerate. Leftover dressing will keep for about a week in the fridge. Note: It will look much more like a dressing when first made and at room temperature but, once refrigerated, it will thicken up.

Makes about 1 pint or 2 cups.

Assemble your quinoa bowl by dolloping a few tablespoons of dressing and mixing in a separate bowl with the quinoa. Making sure the dressing is incorporated into the quinoa, divide between two bowls and add toppings however you’d like.

If you’re looking for more ways to dress up your salads or quinoa, be sure to check out our Creamy Turmeric Tahini Dressing and our Wild Weeds Pesto.

 

And a very, very special thank you to Alessandra Olanow for her gorgeous illustrations!

Free People Blog

FP Escapes: Win a Trip to Nicaragua

FP Escapes: Win a Trip to Nicaragua

Enter for a chance to tap into your inner creative and unleash your spirit…

Free People Blog

FP Escapes: Win a Trip to Palm Springs!

Enter for a chance to revitalize your body and balance your mind…

No, your eyes have not deceived you! We’ve teamed up with Korakia Pensioe and Sporteluxe to give away one spot on our upcoming FP Escapes retreat to beautiful Palm Springs! One lucky winner will receive the trip of a lifetime — a day trip to Joshua Tree, daily yoga with guide Nina Endrst, and an herbal culinary workshop… Expect to leave this journey a more enlightened person! Enter to winfrom now until April 19th, for your chance to join us!

Palm Springs, California – Escape from May 12– 15

Prize: One winner will receive one spot on the Palm Springs FP Escape

What’s included:

  • Air fare + transportation
  • $250 of FP Merchandise
  • 3 nights’ stay at Korakia Pensione
  • Daily yoga with Nina Endrst
  • 1 creative writing workshop
  • 1 herbal culinary workshop
  • 1 day trip to Joshua Tree
  • 3 breakfasts / 1 lunch / 2 dinners

Partners: Korakia Pensione + Sporteluxe

+Want to learn more about FP Escapes? Check out our past retreats here

It’s All Yoga

Weaving yoga and meditation into your daily life…

This post comes to you from yogi Nina Endrst, guide on our upcoming FP Escapes retreat in Palm Springs.

For me, the definition of yoga is ever-changing. As I write this, I believe yoga is a continual and constant practice of presence and compassion. The physical strength we gain from asana is certainly beneficial, but what happens when we step off our mats and back into the hustle of our lives?

Whether we realize it or not, we have the opportunity to practice yoga and mindfulness all damn day. Hear me out. Of course I realize most of us lead very busy lives and believe there isn’t much time for such practice. Keep in mind yoga doesn’t always require a mat and leggings. When you start peeling away the layers you may realize it’s all “yoga.”

With that in mind, here are a few of my favorites ways to practice any time, anywhere:

Walking meditation — get outside!

Even a quick 15-minute walk around your hood will help to calm your nervous system. So many people are working inside all day with little exposure to natural light and fresh air. The connection between us and nature is so important for our mental and physical health, so walk it out!

Deep belly breathing. A mindful commute.

The morning rush is just part of the human experience. Most of us are familiar with the anxiety that can accompany rushing out of the house on the daily. Next time you commute, try practicing deep belly breath. Simply bring your attention to your belly. Start to extend the length of your inhale and your exhale and imagine your breath filling the space. Deep belly breath is a great way to calm nerves and stay in the sweetness of the moment.

Cultivating a daily meditation practice at home.

Finding time to sit quietly without distractions may prove difficult at times with hectic work and family schedules. A home practice can be incredibly nourishing and more accessible for some. My favorite way to meditate at home is by lying flat and putting my legs up the wall in bed with one hand on my belly and one hand on my heart. You may also find peace in unlikely activities like washing dishes or brushing your hair. Next time you clean up after a meal, try placing attention on your breath patterns and repeating internally: inhale peace, exhale doubt.

FP Escapes: Meet Yogi Nina Endrst

This May, cultivate your spirit during our FP Escapes retreat to Palm Springs, courtesy of our guide’s knowledge and magic…

Before you book your trip, take a few minutes to get to know the beauty of Nina Endrst, a woman of great focus and a desire to nurture love and safety in all who cross her path.

Your spirit animal: Elephants! To me these creatures embody the delicate balance of strength and grace.

The first thing you do each day: Say thank you out loud and then drink a cup of coffee. 🙂

The last thing you do each day: Put my legs up the wall and meditate on good health and happiness for myself, my family and friends.

Best advice you’ve ever received: My first boss was not the kindest to me BUT she left me with something that stays with me 10 years later. I catch myself and many other women saying “I’m sorry” when there is clearly nothing to be sorry about. She noticed this habit of mine and simply said, “stop apologizing for no reason.” Noted!

What motivates you? Love and acceptance for ourselves and others; really, for the overall wellbeing of our planet. For me, this work is about service. I serve myself first by taking time to peel away the layers and explore the light and sweetness but also acknowledge the shadows within. I am dedicated to working on myself daily so I can be the space for emotional and physical healing for as many people as possible.

10 words that best describe your relationship with yoga: My practice is my gift to myself and loved ones.

Favorite vegetable: Artichokes! They have always been my favorite. I grew up with very healthy eating habits thanks to my parents. A lot of kids went to school with not so healthy options. I remember pulling out my chilled artichoke with oil and vinegar on the side and the kid next to me saying, “What is that?! A pinecone?!”

If you could trade places with someone for one day, who would it be/why? My Momma! She is an incredibly beautiful person, strong woman, talented artist. I could go on and on. I would love to know what it’s like to be in her shoes/head/soul for a day.

Last dream you had: I was hanging out with Anthony Bourdain eating cheese and drinking wine.

Most beautiful thing you’ve ever experienced: I was in Arusha, Tanzania with my Mom last year. We were volunteering at a school called Glorious. One morning I asked Alice (who runs the school and orphanage) which of the children needed to be sponsored. She told me about a boy who just started there. His name was William and he was 7 years old at the time. Moments later he walked shyly out of his classroom, his presence nearly knocked me over. It was as if we already knew each other and were reunited that day. We were inseparable for the remainder of my stay despite the fact that he spoke Swahili and I definitely did not. Nothing has come closer to the pure sweetness and beauty of the moment when I met William.

Soundtrack to your life: Ah! This is so hard! Music is my life. Ok, right this minute I’m listening to “Song For Zula” by Phosphorescent.

What does “free” mean to you? I am free when I’m breathing easy, allowing myself to be completely present in the moment.

Photos by Bex Griffin.