In February this year I dropped out of university quite suddenly due to anxiety that flared up out of nowhere. I came home in a rush and was confronted with a life ahead that I didn’t recognize as mine. Everything I had thought I would be doing for the next three years had vaporized, which was terrifying.
The point is that I had to reevaluate who I was and what I wanted to be, and I needed help. I knew that there had been something that didn’t feel right about being at university in London. I hated the claustrophobia, the crush of people, and I spent every night listening to folk music whilst getting teary over my posters of the Scottish mountains which, let’s face it, is a bit pathetic. So when I got home – I confronted it. I faced up to the fact that I was a little bit different, too outdoorsy to fit into the city, not suited for the kind of life that I had once imagined myself into. I tried to imagine what my life could be instead.
Help came from the resources I’ve listed below. These are women who give soulful and uplifting life advice, create beautiful art and/or travel the world. I drank up their stories with an unquenchable thirst. Each gave me confidence to listen to my true self, along with the inspiration to follow my wild-hearted dreams and the belief that I really could lead a different kind of life and it could be ok.
Bear with me, this could be a long one.
She Makes Magic: This website is run by sisters Koren and Alana Helbig, who blog about vegan food, natural living and more. The thing that caught my attention, however, was their podcast series. Not to sound overly dramatic, but it saved me. Each episode, they interview a woman who has chosen an unconventional, more soulful way of living and is following their dreams, from artists to camel farmers, gypsies to journalists. I especially love this series because they don’t just talk about these women’s inspirational lives as fantasies that happen at the end of the rainbow – instead they address both the light and the dark by discussing financial concerns, insecurities and the real struggle that following your dreams can sometimes be. This podcast proved to me that following your wild heart can be a reality for anyone brave enough to dream big.
A Happy Girl’s Guide to Crohn’s: This is Shannon Barry’s personal blog about living with Crohn’s disease. Even though I don’t have an physical illness myself, the way she writes is so utterly human and relatable that she has helped me through my own struggles with mental illness and just, life. It’s kinda like she is my best friend who I have never met, ya feel? Her document of studying abroad in New Zealand is so raw and captures the homesickess and excitment that being away from home brings.
She Explores: The hub for women who love the outdoors, whether it’s as an artist, traveller, climber, writer – there is inspiration for everyone. I remember my feeling of utter awe when I first discovered She Explores because these were people speaking my language, and I have continued to adore everything they put out into the world. My favourite feature of their’s is Women on the Road, where they interview women who travel full time. My favourites have been Jessie Johnson and Alison Turner – both solo travelling photographers who have seriously inspired me.
Snowqueen and Scout: A great website full of tips, resources and stories of women hiking in the outdoors. It takes it back to basics and the founder, Liz, addresses fears and questions of women who are just getting into backpacking. It is friendly, packed with great insights and will appeal to anyone who needs the push to get up and go.
Gotta Keep Movin’: I discovered this site when I was first considering going backpacking solo, and GKM convinced me that it was not only something that I was capable of, but I actually really, really wanted to do it. Their site is a treasure trove of inspiration, with real talk about travelling, recommendations, advice and stories that you can get lost in for hours.
Amanda Sandlin: It is quite possible that Amanda is my favourite person on the internet. She is a freelance illustrator and graphic designer who is just about to set out across America in her van, Penny. Her series of artwork #atwildwoman is breathtaking, but more than that, she isn’t afraid of baring her soul to the world. Through her heartfelt instagram and blog posts, you see past the exterior that we often hide behind on the internet to a brave woman who struggles but works damn hard to live her dreams.
Molly Costello: I fell in love with Molly’s art a while ago and I check her blog pretty much daily to see what she has posted – think vibrant paper cut-outs that explore sisterhood, feminism, our connection to the earth and are just dreamy. Her art never fails to lift my mood and make me breathe a sigh of relief. She is an avid farmer and activist as well as an artist, which makes her a fascinating person to follow.
Julie A Hotz: Julie is a photographer who has a crazy spirit of adventure and documents her extended hiking and biking trips. She is a joy to follow if you have it in mind to complete a thru-hike at some point. The thing that alerted me to Julie and the main reason I am including her in this list is a short film – Wandering Thru – she made about her experience on the Pacific Northwest Trail which found me at a low point and I haven’t been the same since. It has inspired me to be big and brave, lonesome and alive. Basically, it’s worth a watch.
The Woodland Keep (Demetria Provatas): Demetria is living my idea of a dream with her project The Woodland Keep, a quiet, magical space in the woods where she bakes and paints and shares her gifts with the world. If you feel called bring a more soulful connection with nature and food into your life then her website is an absolute treat. So much goodness, so much inspiration.
Heather Day: Painter and explorer, Heather’s art captures the rushing feeling of awe we feel at the energy, movement and beauty of nature. I immediately fell in love with her work and her travels. She exudes passion and determination, she’s unapologetic and is an all round creative badass. This account of her solo trip across the US is a good place to start and her instagram is a treasure trove.
Not everyone’s cup of tea, but I have been drawn into a spiritual, soulful way of seeing myself and the universe these past few months. I don’t buy into it all, but I have grown so much since opening myself up to these ideas, so, take it or leave it.
Inner Hue: Run by Lauren Aletta, an intuitive coach who has created a sacred space on the internet that is all about connecting with yourself. I would highly recommend her She Makes Magic podcast where she talks about her struggle with depression and building a business from scratch as a single mum. Her Soul School Monthly has really helped me figure a lot out and if you are feeling stuck, low or unfulfilled then it’s worth an investigate.
Violet Gray: A jewellery business seems like a bizarre thing to include here, but the Violet Gray community is one of the warmest and kindest out there. Again, founder Alex’s SMM podcast has been my favourite so far. If you’re interested in finding out more about spirituality and chakras then VG’s guide is a really good place to start as it is simple and nonthreatening. I don’t even own any of their jewellery, but I just love their values so much that I recommend you have a look.
The Wild Unknown: A tarot deck and an online spiritual community? I don’t really know what TWU is but it’s something. The tarot cards are simply gorgeous and this interview with artist Kim Krans gives a good insight. The words I am the wild unknown nourished me over the past year in a way that I didn’t quite understand, but I deeply needed.
That’s all for now, folks. I recommend you see where these resources take you. There are so many wonderful, inspirational people out there that you’ll find someone who aligns with your way of seeing things or sparks an idea.