This whole life you said, is like a dream that you don't wanna forget

Blossom, Dermot Kennedy

It’s amazing what can happen in a year.

And honestly, last year felt like ten.

Real life will never let you down.

On the second day of 2023, my beloved cat Evie died. She had liver cancer and could barely keep any food down for the four months prior, and neither could I. She purred as she passed away. Then with my friend Dallas, we adorned her in flowers, feathers, and blessings, and wrapped her in soft pink linen before laying her into the earth.

Then on the last day of that first month, a man with the most beautiful hands I’d ever seen well, decimated me. He ended our relationship after his unexplainable rage was unleashed on me over four days in a “perfect” forest cabin. I was blindsided. And because the romantic in me is very strong, I thought we could work it out. A few weeks later, he delivered the blow: “I can’t do this,” and I was left in a state of such heartbreak; I honestly didn’t think I would make it to the other side.

It was a challenging start to the year, and my friends saved me.

When Evie’s soul left her body, I heard a voice say very clearly, “Now, go live. Live for all of us that can’t.”

And I knew what she meant.

I had to get my life energy back. I had to go to Ireland.

So then the first six months of 2023 became about preparation so I could pursue the call to finally travel to Ireland – the heartland of John O’Donohue.

I went about doing the things: subleasing my house, getting someone to look after my cat CousCous, leaving my job, and saying goodbye to all the people – friends, family, and invariably missing half the 40ths in my various friendship groups.

I had to go.

In June, I set off for my third pilgrimage in the past decade of my life.

And let me tell you: THERE IS SO MUCH LIFE TO LIVE.

My word of the year was: flourish.

And flourish I did.

The moment I saw the green fields of Ireland from outside of my tiny plane window, I heard John’s voice in the landscape and I didn’t know how or why, but I was home.

I had never been to Ireland before, nor do I have any known Irish ancestry, but as I came to understand in my bones time and time again, my soul has been here many times over.

This pilgrimage was particularly momentous. I had tried on two other pilgrimages (in my mid-twenties and early thirties) to earnestly answer the three central questions of my life, and I had “failed”. Which is what my first book is about.

After much soul searching and living everywhere from a penthouse apartment on a blow-up mattress in Manhattan’s East Village, a basement in Toronto to being part of an intentional community in New Mexico – I still had no answers. And plenty more questions.

Well, Ireland hit it out of the park.

I flourished.

I flourished.

I really did.

Even as I type this, I still can’t believe it from looking back at the dumpster fire that was my life at the outset of the year.

I travelled in Ireland for 10 months and was in motion for almost six months continuously. I slept in 70 plus beds from Couchsurfing to new friends inviting me into their homes to the charms of hostels, Airbnbs and finally housesitting over an Irish winter in West Cork and Wexford while writing the first draft of my book.

I want a word that means
okay and not okay,
more than that: a word that means
devastated and stunned with joy.
I want the word that says
I feel it all all at once.
— Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

I experienced so much beautiful humanity. One day I was walking/running and hauling my (many) bags for 30 minutes on a country back road to catch a bus that I was surely going to miss, and by magic a car appeared and then stopped. A young man leaned out the window and said, “Get in – I’ll get you to the bus stop”. This happened to me time and time again. The inherent kindness of the Irish people cannot be understated.

I’ve never felt so welcomed in my life.

Travelling – especially alone – involved a good deal of trust and faith to endure the pressure of not knowing many things like where you are sleeping tonight, figuring out what is safe and what is not in a split second, who you will meet, and where you will end up.

It was a huge phase of growth. Soul growth. My faith in kindness has exceeded all expectations. And I learnt a lot about what it truly means to blossom.

To flourish feels like the first day I landed in Dublin to a city in full bloom. I was greeted by more flowers than I’d ever seen in my life covering front gardens, parks and shopfronts to bus stops and pubs. Huge dahlia flowers and wild poppies, ranunculus blooms and bushes of awe-inspiring fuschia just casually everywhere.

I was gobsmacked. I didn’t expect it and was rewarded ten-fold.

Flourishing is a lot of patience.

Waiting for all the elements to do their work and come together at the right time.

This feels especially pertinent for a late bloomer.

Flourishing means to support someone’s growth and expansion, like you would your own.

You flourish by giving more than you’ve got.

Being excessively kind. Generosity brings the most unexpected gifts and graces in return.

The idea of your own personal ‘flourishing’ is getting back to your inherent essence – and giving that as your service to the world. You make a difference by being you.

Our imaginations need moodling – long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering to flourish. — Brenda Ueland

I’m not saying my entire life peaked in Ireland, but it was very close.

It was the best music year of my life. The Irish music scene is absolutely killing it.

I met and fell in love with so many anam cara across Ireland and miss them every day.

I learnt to weave baskets from Irish willow with my dear friend and master basketmaker Martin. I spent a morning chatting in the kitchen of Ireland’s last matchmaker, Willy Dally. I caught over 50 buses and trains through rolling hills and the greenest greens, made friends with sheep (and unsuccessfully tried to herd them) and felt more me than I’ve ever been.

I always think, “This is a moment to be alive for.”

And every day in Ireland, it was.

I would say the biggest achievement of the year was that I taught myself to drive a manual car again (woahhh, hill starts are hectic) and how to chisel ice from windows so I could drive to the Bantry farmers market (don’t use boiling water, pals).

To everyone’s surprise, I developed a liking for rugby (when Ireland was playing), had a seaweed bath in a barrel on the Ring of Kerry with my friend Bek who came to visit, and fell in love with the magnificence of oak, hawthorn, gorse, nettle and mugwort to name a few.

Spending days in moss (literally) and drinking tea in forests and stone circles and HAVE YOU SEEN THE JAW-DROPPING ROLLING HILLS OF WEST CORK. I read Manchán Magan and then met Manchán Magan. This is the kind of magic I am talking about.

A reawakened sacral chakra in the Scottish Cairngorm mountains and then the most unbelievable 20 hours of my life in Belfast on a Tuesday night.

I got my vitality back – my life force.

This feels like the biggest win of the century.

Flourishing needs the freedom of unscheduled time and the spontaneity in spaciousness — not a colour-coded calendar (as much as I love those).

I went to Scotland for a month to celebrate my birthday, climb Ben Nevis – the highest mountain in the UK, live my Outlander dreams and soak up Scottish accents (which are even better in real life).

I read 70 books in 2023 and made just about as many playlists (including Flourish – my soundtrack to the year).

To say I am extraordinarily lucky when I travel would be an understatement. Good fortune follows me. Strangers became quick friends. All the beds, hot showers, meals, rides, loaning of cars (thank you angel Anne!) and bikes, cups of coffee and tea, meals, favours, gifts, invitations, books and bread. I wouldn’t believe it if it hadn’t happened to me.

The soul loves risk; it is only through the door of risk that growth can enter.John O’Donohue

There were dark valleys too.

A particularly scary 36 hours when I had to flee the Isle of Skye. A lot of confusion. Being triggered by hiking couples. Running out of money. Being sick and being alone. Panic and anxiety. My grandma in Serbia dying. Missing basic comforts. Crying in Dunnes carpark. NOT ENOUGH HOT WATER. And the most spectacular rejection of my life.

When my November departure date rolled around, I moved my plane ticket. I wasn’t ready to leave Ireland. I hadn’t written a word of my first draft and I wanted to experience the other side of the wheel at Winter Solstice. Beware what you wish for. The darkness came for me in the isolation of the land, loneliness, despair, ‘I don’t know what to do with my life’ wails to the sky and depression.

Even so, I tried to remember what I came here for.

Sorry I didn’t text you back for a month. Darkness took me. And I strayed out of thought and time. Stars wheeled overhead, and everyday was as long as the life age of the earth. But I’m good now. How are you? Josh Carlos

To flourish is to act like you have everything to give, and give it.

Give in your time, attention, presence and care.

Don’t be stingy; don’t be petty.

You will receive it back in tenfold.

I ended up writing the first draft of my book over three cold and magical (oh the wonder of hindsight) months in an Irish winter.

I had a huge realisation around this time: we need other people. For a devout Solitude Sally, this was a big deal. And I knew I had to evolve. This has taken more bravery than I thought I had.

All flourishing is mutual.Robin Wall Zimmerer

I second that, Robin (and adore you).

You see – your flourishing inspires my flourishing, and my flourishing encourages yours.

And I will never forget the Northern summer I spent eating blackberries straight from hedgerows, dipping into the freezing Atlantic with glee, all the meals alone and with people, cycling around Inishmore and feeding carrots to donkeys. It was bliss.

Here are the ten things that genuinely changed my life in 2023:

Summer Solstice

I pulled ‘The Sun’ tarot card before I left as the omen for my trip. I’d intentionally arrived in early June so I could experience Summer Solstice – the longest day of the year – and I ended up in Mayo on a QOYA retreat hosted by Geraldine, a dear soul I had met ten years prior in upstate New York on my first pilgrimage. Geraldine was now running a retreat in her native Ireland, hosted by Rochelle Schieck – who if you have met in person will know is a luminous soul. This week of getting the transmission of Summer Solstice was a peak life experience.  I wanted to be awake for all of the actual Summer Solstice so I got up before the sun to have a tea ceremony with a field of sheep (not interested in the slightest). Then the miraculous day began. We visited sacred sites with Shamanic Practitioners Aldo Jordan and Lynda Phelan. At Cathaoir Phádraig / The Boheh Stone, Aldo was telling us the significance of the Wheel of the Year and told a story of the Tuatha Dé Danann. “The Tu De Who?”, I asked. He spoke of the first people of Ireland and the mythical Otherworld race which is Irish Gaelic for “People of the Goddess Danu”. I was enchanted. Then we visited a stone circle (my first!) and I met a grandmother hawthorn tree – standing alone in a field – that touched something deep in me in an instant. I found out who paints the flowers and how to give an Irish blessing. That evening, we went to a fire ceremony in an old oak forest covered in MOSS. We sang and played music, read poetry and made offerings to the fae. As the sun set after 11 pm, we were driving back to our house at the edge of Clew Bay and I remember never feeling more content or alive in my life. That pretty much sets the scene for the next six months of my travels in Ireland and Scotland: pure draíocht.

Two Guys At An Olive Stand

A few weeks into my Ireland travels, I realised, starting to panic, that I had no concrete plans for the next six months to a year of my life. LIKE ZERO. I was staying with my Irish anam cara, Geraldine in Dublin (another beloved). I asked her what I should do next, and she said “You need to go to Cork.” I had never heard of Cork. I also thought it was a made-up name. But I trusted her and so I went.

Cork was a wild card, and it paid off.

West Cork has got to be one of the most stunning places on the planet. I was staying in Cork City and on a random Wednesday, I woke up and thought, “I will catch the bus to Kinsale today” after Geraldine told me there was a really good bookshop to check out.

To cut a long story short (arghh, I live for details) I met two guys at an olive stand, Benny and Mark, who invited me to stay with them in Clonakilty and I ended up volunteering on a permaculture farm for two months. It was a profoundly satisfying summer.

I planted salad seeds, harvested sun gold tomatoes, popped gooseberry after gooseberry off the vine and straight into my mouth, picked and dried chamomile to make tea, harvested a whole pumpkin patch BY MYSELF, and then scythed it with an actual scythe. I met the divine Jen through Mark who was my herbalism girl crush – and she gifted me a calendula balm that she made on a Virgo New Moon #witches. I will never forget the simple joy of sharing a whole watermelon for lunch in the sun.

Remember when we met
When I was a kite
When you were the wind
– Steve Denehan 

Making My Own Basket

Well, this was a life dream come true! I came across Common Knowledge by pure luck and I am so glad I did. A skills-sharing social enterprise in Clare, I volunteered here for one week and then was asked to come back for their Festival of Lost Skills. This title couldn’t be more me if I tried. This is where I weaved my first basket with Kate of West Country Willows and then making my second basket with Martin in his West Cork cabin was a life moment to behold. Basketmaking interests me greatly and I’d like to make a show about basketmakers one day. HELLO NETFLIX PRODUCERS.

Hawthorn Tree

After I met the sacred hawthorn tree on Summer Solstice, that was it, I needed to know more. Then, incredibly, I was gifted a Whitethorn Medicine Ceremonial Training (the other name for Hawthorn, or Huath in Irish) and Geraldine in Mayo and I attended a weekend workshop with Irish shaman Aldo Jordan. I learnt how to harvest the plant, dry it, and serve it in ceremony for heart healing. It was profound and still is. It’s pure love and I will share the more about this medicine soon.

John Moriarty

My friend Conor sent me this video after we met at Common Knowledge. I could sense its importance. In 12 minutes and 55 seconds, I was floored. A full-blown obsession with John Moriarty had begun. He is a beloved Irish philosopher, writer and Kerry man who kind of defies explaining – John Moriarty’s way of seeing the world is PROFOUND, but impossible to explain; you have to experience him. I read a biography of his life called Not The Whole Story and was hooked. He is deep and light and beguiling – with an ancient wisdom and a deep knowing of the true nature of the universe. He was also an acquaintance of John O’Donohue and I think of them fondly communing wherever they both went after this life. On my next pilgrimage, I will visit North Kerry where John Moriarty lived to honour his soul.

You not expecting it, it will come to you… It requires new lives. John Moriarty

Soft-Boiled Eggs

I know this can seem hardly radical, but it is. I had never had a soft-boiled egg until my friend Geraldine in Mayo asked if I would like one for breakfast, and I said, sure why not? She put them in those little egg cups that I’ve seen everywhere but never owned (everyone in Ireland has them) and then presented them to me, with the little lid of the egg top taken off. I salted, dipped my spoon and finally understood the gooey gratifying yolk situation I had been missing out on all these years. Pro-tip: boil water in a saucepan, add the eggs when boiling, for five minutes EXACTLY and you will have perfect eggs. Wow, life.

Irish Music

Like I said, I had the best music year of my life: Watching Dermot Kennedy play to 90,000 Irish people in Dublin with my beloved Geraldine. Getting a ticket to the 10-year anniversary show of The Swell Season (of Once fame). Listening to Ben Howard in a Dublin park eating Japanese food. The Ye Vagabonds closing show of Sounds of a Safe Harbour. The discovery and ensuing obsession with Mick Flannery. My friend Mark introduced me to Kingfishr which became the soundtrack to summer. Hearing Padraig Jack play on a Monday night in a tiny venue on an island off Galway. Watching Amble and Kingfishr live in Belfast. TRAD MUSIC (that’s going to get its own book) at Cobblestone in Dublin and getting handed an egg shaker at famed pub An Teach Beag in Clonakility and being asked to join in a session with 12 musicians. Watching Susan O’Neill and Molly O’Mahony at Connolly’s of Leap with my dear friend Rachel and then Glen Hansard just before Christmas in Cork. Driving around the greenest greens in West Cork listening to In The Game a thousand times. Crying when I heard Caledonia for the first time at Sin É. DOOLIN and DINGLE and all the magic pubs I walked into and gasped. John Francis Flynn playing a double tin whistle in an old church. And one of the most unforgettable gigs of my life: watching the inimitable Rónán Ó Snodiagh and Myles O’Reilly play at DeBarras with all my Irish friends in tow while drinking a pint of Murphy’s. Perfection. 

Just to be beside you is enough. – Gabriel Fitzmaurice 


I attended a Guardians of the Sacred Fire workshop over Samhain held by Aoife Lowden and the best bunch of souls. I’m still in awe of those five days. We learnt firecraft, teachings on the fire relationship, working with different plants, trees and seasons for healing and co-creating ceremony with fire. We also built a Sweat Lodge from willow and stones that we carried to sacred land in Sligo IN A DAY (still can’t believe it) and held a ceremony that felt like entering an earth womb and then re-birthing from one. We danced at night and sang around the fire, and pilgrimaged to a local sacred well and had so much fun and connection. Samhain (known as Halloween somewhat incorrectly in the West) is an ancient time that is known to be when the veil – the curtain between this world and that – is the thinnest. And it really was. Goddess Brigid was very present, as were the fae and spirit world. There are many stories to tell from this deep time and I will. The biggest headline for now is: I can now build a fire from scratch and have it burn all night. A life skill if I ever knew one.

Scottish Highlands and Being Claire

I wanted to frolic in the Highlands with a basket dressed as Claire (a 17th century herbalist/witch queen) ever since I started watching Outlander. It finally happened. I was introduced to a photographer called Carlos by a friend back in West Cork, and then on his day off from being a chef, we hitched a ride with a French traveller I met in a hostel and set off for Glencoe – where the opening scenes of the Outlander credits are shot. It defies all possibility. The epic mountains, rolling glens and misty hills of blooming heather are just too much for the eyes to take in at once. It’s emotional and beautiful beyond belief. So frolic I did. There was a magic two-hour break in heavy rain (it always rains in Scotland) and we got some amazing shots, discovered a moss forest and ate lentil chips (best snack of the trip). Carlos was so generous, the dude had never even seen Outlander and was so happy to go along with my plan. We laughed so much. My only regret is my hair fail and next time I will get someone to do me proper Claire braids.

Porridge Bread

I didn’t realise the significance that oats would have in my life until I had real Irish porridge, oat cakes in Scotland, and then my friend Eldon’s porridge bread. THAT’S PORRIDGE IN A BREAD, PEOPLE. I know, it’s too much to take. Imagine the strength of a scone and the comfort of a bowl of porridge. Life changed, and I don’t mean it hyperbolically. I am also ruined now because all I want is Irish porridge oats (Kavanagh’s for the win). My friend Benny is the LORD of making porridge as an art (he even counts out the sultanas) and while I was loose with my proportions in the beginning, now I get it – you must measure. After eating porridge every day for the whole winter, I became part porridge and I’m not mad.

I’d also like to shout out to the vegan curry hot chips at Maggie May’s in Belfast. I LOVE YOU. I had it three times in one week. I still think about it and weep.

There is much more that changed my life in 2023. And I have deliberately omitted all the magic that happened on my pilgrimage following the words of John O’Donohue. It is very precious to me and it will come soon – in a new format.

Now to my new word for 2024 — honour.

Okay look, I may have chosen this word because of Outlander.

I was trying to figure out why the entire globe (including me) was so obsessed with Jamie. Aside from being a total Scottish babe, there was something else to him. Then I realised what. I said to my friend Tiff – “It’s because he has honour, that’s what makes him so beautiful. He would genuinely protect and die for Claire at all costs and that is a virtue that has been lost in this world.”

Honour is a word that makes me curious – as I am fairly sure I have no idea what it actually means.

Honour feels full of grandeur and ceremony.

But actually, honour is small and quiet and reverent.

But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass, say, the window of the corner video store, and I’m gripped by a cherishing so deep for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I’m speechless: I am living. I remember you. — Marie Howe

To honour something or someone, is to give your purest attention – the highest currency in this world.

To honour your word.

Do what you said you were going to do and if it is no longer relevant, say it.

Honour is acknowledging the season you are in and being okay with that.

Life is short and very long (something I keep saying and will expand on) but really honour is an act of friendship to yourself and the world.

What you say, how you act, the ways you show up – is who you are.

Soon, you will realise that every moment of your life is your life.

Honour what is, even if you don’t want it to be true.

Celebrate when you have honoured yourself.

Honour rest and your energy (especially for my Projector friends).

Honour what your soul is yearning for.

There can be no other way.

Because finally
after all the struggle
and all the years,
you don’t want to any more,
you’ve simply had enough
of drowning
and you want to live and you
want to love and you will
walk across any territory
and any darkness,
however fluid and however
dangerous, to take the
one hand you know
belongs in yours.
— David Whyte

Back in Australia on Autumn Equinox, the leaves had not turned. This felt apt. Personally, I’m honouring the season I am in which is confusion. I am certifiably in the mud and emerging slowly (lotus, pending).

For 2024, I have no earth-shattering realisations.

I am focusing on honouring my soul, completely. Even if it doesn’t make sense to others or fit in step with the current paradigm.

Honouring the knowing.

Honouring past hurts and resolving them.

Honouring my gifts and how I can best give them to be of most benefit.

If you find your way to serve, to serve people, then I really believe in some manner the universe will take care of you, whether that’s monetarily or whatnot. So from giving, you will get. — Yung Pueblo

For the year ahead, I know it will be slow. It has to be.

This is both terrifying and a relief. 

You don’t want to look back on your life and say, I wish I paid more attention.


It will pay back.

You deserve a lover who takes away the lies and brings you hope, coffee and poetry. — Frida Kahlo 

More mad plans.

Sauna and sea dips.

Exuberance and creative flow.

For the tap to come off its hinges.

Planting seeds in rich soil.

Contentment in the quietly magnificent.

Less freak outs.

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
— William Stafford

Sleeping in the wilds of a mountain.

Warm with you.

Building up muscle again.

Anchoring in the seasons and cycles.

More beautiful questions.

A genuine experience of the Divine.

The only thing I could say was it felt like I was home. Like the journey was over. Like I had finished. — Ram Dass

Leave your little gifts of light. 

Trust your Moon line.

Pray to portals and stones and star people.

Remember your aliveness. 

It had to be that hard, to be this good.

Now, it’s time.

What is your word for 2024?

Perhaps the art of harvesting the secret riches of our lives is best achieved when we place profound trust in the act of beginning. Risk might be our greatest ally. To live a truly creative life, we always need to cast a critical look at where we presently are, attempting always to discern where we have become stagnant and where new beginning might be ripening. There can be no growth if we do not remain open and vulnerable to what is new and different. I have never seen anyone take a risk for growth that was not rewarded a thousand times over. — John O’Donohue


  1. Katie Green says:

    Stunning writing. I enjoyed this so much x

  2. Amy Staley says:

    Loved reading this. You are truly one of a kind and I love how you are living your life so true to yourself ????. Slightly obsessed with Outlander too and so right about Jamie and honour.

  3. Kylie says:

    Hooked on every word and every part your journey, you’ve always had an incredible ability to transport people right into thick of it. The green, lush, thick of it. Your 2024 word is honour, but as the only person I know who would dedicate an entire section to a soft boiled egg, I already know your honour runs deep <3 Congrats on the first draft!

  4. geraldine says:

    Wow. What a magical account of an awe-inspiring journey. You absolutely effing nailed it!!! (The trip and the article) I am so very inspired xxx

  5. Louise says:

    This is a life well lived, bravo x

  6. Karina Paxinos says:

    Honouring you darling Andjelka xx what a share x thank you –