So who is this girl talking about big subjects like freedom and change?
I’m Jess, a 27-year-old writer, film photography, yoga and meditation addict, artistic scientist (or scientific artist), chronic traveler (of both inner and outer worlds) and self-enquirer.
Born and raised in South Africa, I left my home in Cape Town when I was 22-years-old to explore both myself and the world. I graduated in 2014 from the University of Cape Town with a Bachelor of Medical Science Honors degree, but many years of anxiety, depression and restlessness had me at the end of my tether. I craved to learn how to let go of my burdens, be free, experience adventure and my deepest Self, and answer the question: Who Am I? So on March 22nd 2015 I boarded a one-way flight to Lisbon.
Those first few months were my toughest yet. People laugh when I tell them this, but it’s the honest truth: I thought that by ‘leaving it all behind’ – a relationship of three years, a promising career, my family and friends – my mind, negative thoughts and anxieties would stay behind too. For someone who’d lived in dark and anxious thought patterns for most of her life, I had no idea how to face the challenge I’d put myself up to. Here I was, thousands of kilometers from home, free to go wherever I wanted, yet still I felt more trapped than ever.
Travel ripped off my clothes and scrubbed me raw like a Moroccan woman in a local hammam.
I traveled for 5 years around Europe, South Africa and South East Asia, both on my own and with my incredible partner, Matt. Being on the road was tough at times, but it gave me the opportunity to enquire into myself, explore my relationship with my mind and understand that real freedom is not a matter of geography or circumstance; real freedom lies in the present, when you free yourself from the obsessive patterns of the mind, even momentarily. Travel showed me that freedom cannot be acquired by chasing horizons, and that the only reason I wasn’t free was because I believed I wasn’t. I was in my own way. With this understanding there was only one thing left to do: just be. Consciousness occurs as effortlessly as breathing. And therefore so does freedom.
Some of my greatest adventures have included discovering rural Morocco for two months with only my thumb and a bare-foot hippie who changed my Life; camping out with the last remaining nomadic tribe in Palawan, Philippines; hitchhiking through the Arctic in winter to see the Northern Lights; volunteering as a children’s clown in refugee camps in Greece and falling head over heels in love again (to put it lightly). Since gearing up to face my Self on March 22nd 2015, my heart has expanded with more gratitude, love and trust in life than I know what to do with. I realize on a day-to-day basis that Love and Fear cannot co-exist in the heart and that the sweetest nectar of Life is in you – no matter where you go or what you do , it’s always you.
Now I hope to share this with you.
My goal is to bring you real stories from my explorations – both written and photographic – that inspired lessons of freedom, courage, self-enquiry and letting go.
Creativity, connection, compassion, groundedness and above all, authenticity, are what I value most. It’s for this reason that my images are almost exclusively taken on 35 mm film. Instead of staged Instagram photos or to-do lists, on this site you’ll find honest moments of passion, fear, challenging pre-conceptions, connection and realization.
So welcome, dear Reader. Whether you suffer from the same anxiety, fear and depression that keep your passions locked inside you; are trapped in a negative mindset that fears change; dream of adventure, exploration and taking that big leap into knowing yourself; or are already a traveler who hopes to innovate, motivate and connect – my wish is that these stories of exploration, both in the outer world and within, will serve to inspire and motivate you.
All my love,
Photo credit: the amazing Sean Carter Furlonger