My Safar


Mistake sounds negative, but mistakes contribute to learning and have more value than always getting things right.

Many of you will be familiar with or have visited the virtual environment of Second Life.  If you haven’t, give it a miss, it is highly addictive and could ruin your life.  I spent the better part of all my leisure time there for almost 5 years.

I used to role play in medieval fantasy sims.  You’d create a character, wander around the purpose-built environment, bump into other characters and then start typing something your character would say or do.

Safar as D'alfar2
Safar as D’alfar

I played dark, exotic creatures and worldly-wise warriors.  It was spontaneous story writing and I found it exciting.  It was like playing chess as you didn’t quite know what all the other characters were going to do next.  Sometimes your objective was to topple the king.  As my characters were often the queen, most players were trying to dispense with my invention.

Safar as Irel

When I look back, I spent 5 years making quite a lot of people frightened.  Not every roleplayer is able to separate their character from themselves and would respond to the game as if they really are one of the pawns.  I wasn’t creating a difficult situation for their character, but more for the person behind the character.  Emotions would run high and I’m glad not to part of it anymore, although I do miss the sense of immersion gained when entering a complete fantasy world of your own making.

Pasithea 2
The Dark Dreamy Landscape of Pasithea, complete with its own mythos.

Safar was one of those characters, except when I created her, she was meant to be a she-orc named Saraf.  I mis-typed the name when registering the avatar.  This orc was so stupid that a mage thought it prudent to give her the gift of wit.  This wasn’t a good idea as it was veritably dangerous during mating season.

my beautiful orc angel
Safar as Orc

A few months later, a player from Bangladesh started calling her Journey.  Safar is an Arabic word and you’ll recognise the Swahili variant as ‘Safari’.

When I commenced the journey that I’m now on, I began to embrace the name as my own.

My Safar

Safar has become adopted as a real name and in so doing, is enabling the transformational process I’m undergoing.  Like crysalis to caterpillar, caterpillar to butterfly, humans are equally capable of self-evolution, but all too often become labelled, boxed and fixed.

Green Banded Swallow Tail

Hopefully, Safar will journey from something dark and scary to a more inspirational source of wisdom.  I hope the journey has many surprises along the way.  More importantly, I’m living the journey now, taking time to peruse the hedgerows, veering off course and losing time by gazing at the sky.


I’ve been thinking about the Thistles and Whistles Take-a-Step Thursday event.  For the initiate, this entails writing a post about what has inspired you this week and what you are going to do as a result.

Inspiration is to be found everywhere: on these blogs, TED talks, the perfection of nature, and in nature.

I have plenty of brambles wildly meandering around the garden, so took advantage of the harvest.  From the periphery of my vision, I realised that a robin was close on my heels picking up anything I dropped.  Finally, he rested on a branch that was overhanging some grass clippings, so I threw a couple of the berries onto the pile.  He bravely lowered himself to participate in the pickings.

Earlier in the week, I joined Incredible Edibles to tidy up a couple of beds.  Some of the plants had mature seeds on them, so I brought home a little collection.  As an experiment I threw a few over a bed at home to see what happens, the rest I’ve saved.  That robin swooped in.  I pushed a few of the seeds into the soil just in case, but left the others on top and withdrew.  The robin payed no mind to the seeds, but followed me instead.  When I threw him a blackberry, he was suitably happy.

I love this life!

My thought for the week is that there is inspiration in doing.   Taking that first step, having a little success, or seeing some fruit or benefit of the action is inspiration to do more.  Days are becoming increasingly industrious by doing those things I’ve always wanted to do.  So here’s my safar so far!

Eight Blisters In

Blister One:  Steamed fingers

I bought a sewing machine and created a dress I even dared to wear out.

I discovered dress-making means ironing and steam scalded fingers was a product of the endeavour.  I’m now in the middle of two more sewing projects, so sustainable clothing for a community is a possibility for the future.   I did use to live in an artisan community in Ireland, where wool spinners and dyers created the best wool for knitting with.  Missing them now!  I’ve been sourcing natural, undyed fabrics and have become interested in the use of wild plants for dyes.  I’ve not yet taken the deep breath needed to potentially spoil very good fabric.  But I will.

Blister Two:  Creaking knees

The cause of this is t’ai chi.  Although I hope the problem is the solution.

The creaking knees are more due to being overly competitive at karate in the past.  The t’ai chi is helping to strengthen the muscles around the joints, which may prevent any worsening of the condition.

Video above: Safar’s aspiration

I’ve commenced by learning the 24 forms.  This was no small undertaking, but two hours have often gone by without me realising it.  I’m proud that I can now move from the opening form to the closing without forgetting.  I can’t explain the feeling gained from the fully flowing movement.  At times I am almost brought to tears.  It is simply beautiful.  And when outdoors, it’s like adding ice cream to an apple and blackberry crumble.

Blister Three: Achilles Heel

I started running about a year ago.  An activity I’ve often avoided as it is so hard.  But I followed a 5K training programme and was motivated enough to follow it fully.  I then decided to do a 10K charity run this coming November, and suddenly that little voice began to hassle me.

You know that little voice?

“Oh, it hurts so much”; “It doesn’t matter if you take a minute’s break at the end of this mile”; “you can go out tomorrow instead”…

It occurred to me during a recent run, that perhaps two hours of t’ai chi and a run in the same day is possibly why running IS so hard!  So I reduced the time spent on t’ai chi in the morning and did an easy 5K later in the day.

“You’ve done well so far, still got energy left, why not go a bit faster for the last kilometre?”

She’s back!

Blister Four:  Rolling Rs

Also about a year ago I invested in the Open University’s Portales six course books and CDs – a level 1 course in Spanish.  ¡Hablo español!  Well, not very well, but I’m understanding more than I did.  A sesión per day and book 1 now complete.

Blister Five: Grammar

English grammar that is.

As we’re going travelling and given my teaching experience, there’s a potential income earner for the future.  But I would like to know what I’m doing when teaching English.  So a TEFL course has now been scheduled for the period between t’ai chi and Spanish.

The rest of the day is not so well-organised.  I follow my mood and the weather.

Blister Six:  Following a recipe

The person before Safar had a blasé attitude to cooking.  It entailed a rummage in the cupboard, fling it all in a heavy-based pan, wait 20 minutes and hope for the best.

Safar on the other hand has followed recipes, or at least something similar to a prescribed recipe.  With Verd now gluten, egg, dairy and yeast free and with a severe tightening of the purse strings, free-from supermarket trips are no longer on the shopping list.

I figure that if I’m going to feed a community, I should know how to cook the food I grow.

Blister Seven: Stings and Stab Wounds

From the great British countryside.  A forager’s delight.  Wasn’t I saying something about mistakes?  Bring gloves and long sleeves!

Blister Eight: Mapping

I’ve created a world map and have placed markers indicating where a permaculture project is located that is looking for volunteers in exchange for accommodation and food.  I’m working on a country at a time, with a view to plotting a feasible route to undertake in the future.

Don’t try this at home!

It will greatly improve your geography.

Written for the the Take-A-Step Thursday, a challenge hosted by Thistles and Whistles. Do join in!


16 thoughts on “My Safar

  1. Incredible how a change of name could create so much change in your character, Safar! i guess it was time for a change! By some inexplicable mystery of the internet age, I read all the comments here and had not read the post before, brought here by the ravens. great story! 🙂


    1. I suppose we all have our ideal selves and in many ways Safar was that. It was time for the actualisation though!
      Interestingly, my mother went through a bad time for a while and spent time with a counsellor. She confessed in a session that she had no love for her given name, and the counsellor suggested a change and she adopted the middle name she preferred. It helped her get over what she was going through at the time – to move on. I didn’t do it so much to heal, but that ‘old’ me lived in ways not necessarily compatible with the real me – fulfilling social obligations and expectations. I’d always felt I was a chameleon changing colour to suit the situation. It’s good to live in a more authentic way.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I can’t help but admire you for all the things you’ve accomplished and are on your way to accomplishing. I’ve been trying to wake myself early and go for a run (I want to take part in my first 5K) but haven’t succeeded yet. I do exercise and do yoga every evening so my guilt keeps getting covered up to some extent (but it’s still not an excuse!).

    Also, the volunteer tourism is such a great idea and one that I’ve been thinking about for many years now ever since I heard about it. I would love to read more of your experiences.

    Thanks for getting me motivated and inspired again. I love your blog! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh we’re going to have to get you to that 5K!! It’s super fun!

      If you have a smart phone – I recommend this app – it starts so easily it makes it doable. I got over a lot of major hurdles with it.

      It starts by alternating walking with running. And you go out three times a week. You can repeat a week if you feel the need before moving on. The principle is that major muscle groups are rested or used differently, helping to prevent strain and injury. Psychologically it’s great too, it’s amazing how quickly you build up distance and pace.

      The drawback of the app is that it doesn’t record your progress, but if you also get this one:

      It’ll record distance covered and your pace. That’s motivational too, it helps you to try a little harder to do better than your last run.

      I also recommend ‘Park Run’ if there is one near you. They are locally organised 5k runs in public parks, managed by volunteers, completely free every Saturday morning and they are all over the world. Every shape, size, age, level of ability, prams, buggies, dogs and the kids (although they also do junior park runs too) go. It’s a great experience.

      Park Run:

      Finally, I do recommend investing in getting good shoes – go to one of those shops where you go on the treadmill and they analyse your gait. You’ll then be recommended shoes that will help to prevent injury, based on how you run. e.g by avoiding over-pronation of the ankle. You get about 500 miles out of a pair of shoes, and if you pay even £120 for them – that’s about 25p a mile. A lot cheaper than the gym!

      Yes, definitely looking forward to travelling – should be going in April, all being well!


      1. Ooh, thanks for all the lovely tips! Yes, I’ve been using an app on my Android phone called C25K by Zen Labs which is pretty limited in terms of pace and distance as you mentioned. I’ll definitely give the Nike app a shot. I didn’t find any Park Runs in Dubai but there are similar running groups. However, their distance and time are a bit of a challenge which I have to figure out. Otherwise, it’s a really great idea! 🙂

        My biggest challenge in running a 5K is becoming a morning person. I’ve been trying to wake up early but my routine is quite messed up at the moment. I need lots of motivation to figure out how to turn it around. 😛

        I’ll definitely have a look at good shoes. I read something about it before but didn’t take it too seriously but I’m sure it’s an important factor to avoid injury in the long run! Thanks so much! You have motivated me to keep going at it ! 😀

        And hope you have a lovely trip in April !

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Can empathise. Running clubs seem to be too much of a challenge to join. Have you got a friend who could be your motivational support? It does make it harder to find an excuse. Although there is an occasional drawback, where you both mutually agree to your own excuses! Why the morning? When I was working, I found an evening run was a good stress buster and a way to let the frustrations of the day go.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I agree, but I found through trial and error that my self-motivation/will power is at its highest peak in the mornings when I am fresh and raring to start the day (it helps tremendously that I am also not working at the moment). Also, we live in a really hot country in a very populated neighborhood and the only way to get decent running space without bumping into other walkers/joggers/cars is to do it early in the morning when it’s fairly quiet and the weather is cooler. I used to wake up at 5am a few months ago for about a month or so and go brisk walking in the morning and that made quite a difference. However, I seem to have become quite the insomniac recently and that is where I am getting stuck. 😀

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Ah, I can see the reasoning now. It is hard getting up so early, I did it for years, but it’s so rewarding if you do. I love the quiet of that hour and depending on time of year, you get to see the blue and golden hours. At the moment, I’m enjoying the extra snuggle time in the morning!!

              I wonder if you do get into an exercise routine, if it’ll help the insomnia. Days I miss exercise tend to be days I don’t sleep (except for hormonal days – but there’s a whole other post!!)

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Indeed, mornings are very sacred and special. I do have a yoga routine going on in the evenings at the moment but definitely need some vigorous exercise to tire me out. However, I am at complete fault here.I messed up my own timings laying in bed watching video, reading e-books or surfing the net. And it turned into this vicious circle where I cannot fall asleep at a reasonable hour anymore. I have broken the circle many times before but somehow it is turning out to be a challenge this time.Gonna keep trying, it’s a constant effort! 🙂

                Liked by 1 person

                1. Blue light from the electronics, I believe prevents the stimulation of melatonin, our sleepy hormone. Then of course, the staying up later will upset the natural circadian rhythm, it is a vicious cycle. Have you heard of “sleep hygiene”? A bit of an unfortunate label, I think, but it does seem to help.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  1. You’re so right. Yesterday, I was able to have a good night’s sleep because I put my phone was on a table several feet away from my bed. Subsequently, I got up fresh (and naturally!) at 5AM and was able to go for that run finally. Hope to have a similar experience tonight as well. I’ve heard of sleep hygiene and I realised I was doing most of it already except staying away from electronics (which is the worst I think) 🙂

                    Liked by 1 person

  3. I was in the darkest and scariest part of that dark and scary SL, I guess. You’re right, it’s highly addictive, although not having access to internet, as I’m currently most of days, is a good way to heal that addiction.

    Well, now at least I might help on one of your blisters, Spanish.


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