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Part 3 of my 4 part series: The key to lasting wellbeing and happiness

Make awareness your friend


Negative thoughts self liberate when we touch them with the gentle caress of awareness.

Old wounds begin to heal when we bring loving attention to them and bathe them with the soothing balm of compassion.

Old programs unravel. Old records fade. Self limiting beliefs disappear.

Life transforms when we make awareness our friend   ~ Jess Leggatt


Awareness can be our greatest teacher and loyal friend if we learn to pay attention. Awareness comes to us in many forms, sometimes alighting itself gently on our lap with a soft whisper or gentle nudge, taking our hand lovingly and guiding us in the direction we need to go. Other times it comes to us with more force, boldly knocking us over, or jolting us wide awake with a fierceness we can’t ignore.

It doesn’t matter how awareness enters our life, what matters is that we learn how to pay attention and take note.

Today I’m sharing with you a story; a story that takes you on a journey off the beautiful coastal shores of the Eastern European country of Croatia, where I am holidaying with my husband, many years ago.

It is here that I come face to face with life’s greatest teacher – the seed of awareness. But, I choose not to listen. Oh how I wish I had made awareness my friend all those years ago!


An Island of natural beauty and serenity

It was in the early european summer of 2007. I had been holidaying with my husband for several weeks. We had just spent 2 weeks discovering the best parts of Ireland, Europe and the United Kingdom, and were looking forward to seeing more of the world. It was our second overseas honeymoon in two years. We had not yet been blessed with parenthood and were enjoying the blissful freedom of having little responsibility and plenty of money to spend. Travelling was our joy.

After spending our first few days in the bustling capital of Zagreb, and making our way down to the popular seaside town of Split we decided at the last minute we wanted to stay somewhere less touristy. Somewhere away from the usual hustle and bustle.

We were desperate for some quiet time, and had had enough of the crowds, the busy-ness and the big cities. As for me, I was worn out. As much as I loved to travel, I was completely exhausted, and I’d had enough of being on the go.

After some quick chats amongst the locals, we jumped on the local sea ferry and made our way over to the little Island of Brac to stay in the quant fishing village known as Supetar (pronounced Soup-ett-ar). It looked intriguing. An island bathed in natural beauty and encircled by picturesque beaches; a perfect destination to recuperate and reconnect.

As we docked into the port of Supetar and trundled our bags along the huge jetty that lead our way into the quaint little fishing village, I let out a big sigh of relief. Everything seemed perfect. Finally, a restful holiday to rejuvinate.

The weather was a delight. The coastal air was warm, the sky was an endless sea of blue, and the soft ocean breeze swept across the friendly little seaside town with a gentle playfulness that whispered its sweet wishes, as if to say, “I’ve got you, you’re safe here, you can let go here; you can leave the busy world behind”.

We spent five blissful nights on the Island of Brac. A time I will never forget for the rest of my life.


Free to just be…

On the final night of our stay in the beautiful village of Supetar, I lay awake in bed, my body clock still adjusting to the long daylight hours of the European sun. It was 10pm at night and the sun was still slowly making its way down behind the horizon.

As the room of our hotel remained softly lit with the last of the sun’s rays gently streaming through the window, I couldn’t help but reminisce of the perfect few days we had just experienced.

Our time in Supetar and the joyful exploring we had done of the beautiful historic clad island of Brac was unforgettable and rewarding. It had been packed full of all the good things in life. It was fun, it was playful, it was energetic, it was adventurous, and there had been plenty of time for rest and rejuvenation.

We created space and time for all the things we wanted to do, without the pressures of deadlines or rigid routines. We had given ourselves permission to leave the worries of the world behind and we were free. We were free to just be.

We created time for day naps and restoration, hot stone massages and candlelit dinners by the bay as we watched the fishing boats come into shore. We enjoyed active pursuits like watching the locals fish by the bay, walking around the village, shops and cafes, and stocking up on delightful edibles at the local markets to create our own sumptuous breakfast the next day.

We lunched at the local restaurants and bars, strolled along the seaside walkways, and watched the boats come into shore with their daily catch of prawns, shellfish and marlin. At the end of each day we plunged into the refreshing Adriatic Sea to enjoy its salty cleanse and to cool us down from the warm late afternoon sun.

We made time for all the good things. Our days were overflowing with the pleasures and treasures of life.


A longing for adventure, connections and belonging

After a much needed few days of resting and recuperating, and settling into the rhythm of Island life, both my husband and I craved adventure. We wanted to explore the rest of the Island. So on the final day of our stay, we decided to hire a couple of mopeds. We bartered with the local bike dealers to get a good price and cringed as we reluctantly handed over our passports to the ‘not so trustworthy looking guy’ at the hire shop as a secure deposit. We didn’t want to pay the hefty price they were asking for as insurance money, and decided to give our passports over (rather reluctantly) as a fair exchange, until we returned.

We took a risk.

With an adventurous spirit and abandonment of all attachments (and a short prayer that we would indeed see our passports again, and…for the record…yes… we did get to see our passports again, thank goodness!) we jumped on our motorbikes and made our way up and around the mountains to get to the other side of the beautiful Island of Brac.

Heart pounding in my chest, and feet trembling on my pedals, we nervously meandered our way through the precariously dangerous and poorly sealed roads, not daring to look down the sides of the cliffs where old rusted cars, trucks and busses laid to their demise. At one point I did panic, as a big truck came hurtling by, nearly forcing me over the side, but I managed to stay in control of the bike, and regain my balance. Just for the record, I have never been on a moped overseas again, and I probably never will. But, it was one hell of an experience at the time! And, I’m glad to live to tell the tale.

Finally, we arrived on the other side of the island into the town of Bol, unscathed, and thrilled to have made it through the mountain alive. We celebrated with the local villages with traditional Croatian beer and food, and enjoyed the picturesque and popular beachside town, resting and relaxing at the world famous Zlatni Rat beach (this is me at Zlatni Rat).



After an ice cream and a quick detour to sightsee the ancient old stone houses and worn down old farms, we made our way back to the fishing village, in time for a late dinner of pizza with the locals.

It had been a busy day, full of adventure, fun, and connections. We left the seafood restaurant and strolled back to our hotel room, a leisurely 3o minute walk through the bustling village streets, saying hello to the children, mothers and fathers as they played till the late hours of the evening. There was a local street festival on with music, rides and entertainment. I even had a go on one of the rides with the village children. Zipping round at high speeds, I felt like a kid again, free and connected. Living with abandon.

As we made our way back to the hotel room, we were blissfully content. We didn’t feel like we were visitors that special day in Brac. We felt like we belonged. We were a part of the connected and vibrant village life. I will never forget that beautiful day on the small Croatian Island off the Dalmation Coast. It remains imprinted in my memory forever. One of my favourite holiday stops.


Awareness gently taps on your shoulder like an old friend…you can either listen, or blissfully ignore

It was later that night, as I lay awake in the hotel room, not being able to sleep and watching the sunlight slowly fade into darkness , that awareness made itself known, like a soft whisper and gentle nudge from an old friend.

As I lay there listening to the gentle sounds of the ocean nearby, feeling my belly rise and fall with each breath, my mind was in awe. We had been holidaying for weeks now, travelling around the United Kingdom, visiting friends in London, dancing and drinking Guinness in Ireland and sightseeing in Paris, even spending a day in Disneyland like a couple of big kids.

But, it wasn’t until this moment, in this quiet little hotel room in a remote fishing village off the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia that I got to experience what it felt like to truly let go of the worries of the world, to feel balanced, to feel vitalised, and to truly feel WHOLE. This was a new feeling for me.

As this feeling of renewed health and vitality crept back into my bones, I rolled over, curled up closer to my husband who was sleeping soundly beside me and drank in every moment of the memories of the last few days. I lay there in peace enjoying this incredibly wholesome feeling of contentment and inner joy that enveloped my entire being. I never even knew it was possible to feel this way.

I don’t really know what happened to me in those days on the island, or why I had felt the way I did that night. All I know is that my mind and body felt differently to me. Renewed, whole, joyful and peaceful.

Maybe it was the perfect balmy weather we had experienced, maybe it was the fresh ocean breeze and cooling waters of the Adriatic Sea that soothed our bodies and caressed our minds, maybe it was the fun and connectedness we had enjoyed with the locals, watching them fish, eating their food, basking in their beautiful environment, taking some risks, living with abandon, and ultimately sharing the village island life.

Maybe it was the exhilaration of riding up the mountain (and making it to the other side alive!) or the breathtaking view we witnessed coming down the other side. Maybe it was just pure relaxation and wholeness finally sinking into my bones.

Or just maybe it was a combination of all of these things, gently drawing me away from my busy worry-filled mind, and sinking me deeper into the beauty and vibrancy of the present moment.

I don’t really know what happened to me in those days on the island, but it was an experience I will never forget. I think I had actually experienced what it was like to be truly connected to LIFE. I hadn’t done this for a very long time. I gazed out into the fading light of the hotel room window, and a painful yearning shot through my body. I wanted more of this.

I wanted to remember this feeling. I wanted to carry this inner sense of oneness, and connectedness, and serenity back with me to my home country in Australia. I want to share this with others. Help others discover this too. To cultivate a sense of inner serenity and peace and to live a life that is connected, balanced and WHOLE.

I laid there, listening to my husband sleep, watching the friendly shadows on the hotel room wall and drinking in the magnificent few days I had just had, and, I made a vow to myself. That somehow I would do everything in my power to bring this ‘gift’, this generous wholesome experience I had received into my own inner life. To cultivate this sense of peace and serenity within, so that no matter what happens, and no matter what unfolds in my life, I would be connected to this moment of bliss.

The question in my heart was, how?

I had a brain that was wired for constant worry and distraction, I had a body that became sick, burnt out and fatigued at the drop of a hat, and a nervous system that was so highly wired. I didn’t even know what it felt like to ‘switch off’ in daily life.

I was twenty five years of age , and so tightly enmeshed with the constant busy-ness of life, constantly striving, pushing and putting pressure on myself to achieve, to succeed and live life to the fullest. But, I had forgotten to truly LIVE. To live with balance, and wholeness and connectedness. I didn’t even know what that was. I had forgotten what it was like to truly connect. I had forgotten ME.


Missing out on the ‘aha’ moments…keeps us stuck

When I got back home to Australia, it didn’t take me long before my blissful experience in Croatia seemed like a distant memory. A fantasy. A fairytale. And before long, I had abandoned that promise I had made to myself in the hotel room that night.

I got back into the old routines and patterns of life, of deadlines and pressures, addictions to work, and stress and drama. I returned to old habits of going out drinking and partying to soothe the troubles and distract me from my worries. Back to not caring for my body, always putting myself last and pushing myself to my limits. I got back to living the only life I only knew how.

I didn’t have the answers of how to make things better for myself, different, more balanced, more healthy, more peaceful. And, I didn’t look for them either. This was my biggest mistake.

A very insightful and potentially life-changing seed of awareness was planted that balmy, light-filled night in Croatia, but, I never gave it the chance to grow and expand into what it needed to be. I never gave it the space, nor the stillness to grow into the wisdom, and the potential life changing ocean of awareness that my subconscious had called upon me that night. Several years passed by before life forced me to sit up and listen, and take note. But, it didn’t need to be this way.

All too often we go through life ‘un-aware’, missing out on the ‘aha moments’ because we are too wrapped up in life, too distracted, too busy or too blissfully ignorant.We ignore the wisdom of TRUTH and let it pass us by because we have not been taught how to truly stop, be still, and to listen. We have not been taught to go within and to tap into the innate wisdom that lives within all of us.

Learn to tap into your wise old owl within. Come out of your busy mind and into your heart. This is where TRUTH, WISDOM, JOY and PEACE resides. Make the time to go there every day. Learn to make awareness your friend so that you may live with greater health, wholeness and true wellbeing.

Yours in greater awareness and inner wisdom

With love

Jess x