above | beyond

[Picture by Craig Mod]

I stood there beside Raphael, both of us silent in our own worlds, under a thick blanket of stars. Slowly, we spun around, our gaze constantly lifted towards the heavens.

‘Do you feel as small as I do?’ He asked quietly.

‘Yeah…’ I whispered back, afraid to speak louder than necessary, as if my voice would shake the stars out of their majestic placement in the sky. It was then that I caught the first trailblazer. ‘Oh my god… did you see that?’

‘Yes,’ he replied. ‘Did you make a wish?’

I barely had time to answer when I caught another shooting star, and then another.

‘This is better than the mountains!’ I clapped my hands and squealed, not caring about poise or deportment. ‘This is magic!’

Raphael chuckled in reply.

And there we stood. Two lone strangers in the Annapurna Base Camp. While the rest of the world was cuddled for warmth in their sleeping bags, we were the only fools brave enough to stand in the freezing cold because of the stars. It was only a matter of time though, before Raphael had a massive coughing fit (he was already not feeling well) and my knees began knocking out an uncontrolled syncopated rhythm.

‘I’m heading to bed,’ I finally gave in to the cold. ‘See you around, hey?’

‘Yeah,’ he coughed in reply.

I turned and walked away, giving the night skies one final look before ducking my head into my room. If there was a reason to trek up 4130m to a base camp, this was it.

The stars.

Tonight, 34 minutes before I turn a year older… I look up to the night skies again but I don’t see anything. The city lights have clouded my view but it doesn’t mean that they aren’t there. Somewhere beyond my naked vision, they twinkle for me. Perhaps, this is significant knowledge regarding my years ahead.

I can’t always see what lies beyond and there are times when it feels as though all majesty, beauty and magnificence in daily life has waned. But the years ahead are still glorious. They twinkle at me in my consciousness, the trailblazing years begging me to make new wishes, new promises, and maybe even pronounce new hopes.

What lies ahead?

I know what lies behind me. Like the endless trek and painful toil up Nepal’s steep angles, there were moments in the past 365 days since my last birthday when it was painful and tough. Times when I couldn’t bear to look up and see what was ahead for fear of discouragement at how much more there was to go. There were also times when I paused to take a breather, and was astonished at how far I’d come through.

One step at a time.

See the mountains.

One step at a time.

To reach the stars.

And for the first time in my life, I smile on the eve of my birthday.

I’m proud of how far I’ve come and the mountains of challenges I’ve scaled. Not everything is in its rightful place now and there are many changes I want to make in my life, changes that must take place. That said, I’m still proud of this little girl who has continued to plough through pain, disappointment, discouragement, fear and sadness.

A girl who refuses to stop dreaming about her stars.
A woman with the heavens woven into her nature.
A person who will choose to look beyond her failures.
A girl, her Dream Maker and a beautiful future.

Happy Birthday.


my stars…

I watched her dance, oblivious to the people who giggled at her extravagant enjoyment. Twirling, laughing and clapping her hands, this was the band and their songs that spoke to her alone. And within that pure expression, she was at a height that none of us reached.


I watched them laugh, drunk on cheap beer, heckling the band, the audience and anyone else who crossed their path. Finally, one of the gang launched an object at the lead singer and hit him squarely on the head. It stopped the show as the singer walked off stage. Another band member had to chide the audience and welcome the singer back on – which he did, gamely – and finished the set.

Their amusement was not found in the music. It was in the high.


I watched them grouped at the perimeters of the action – the sideliners. They didn’t want to take part in the atmosphere because they either couldn’t understand it or weren’t impacted by the band that was giving their all, their heart out on stage. They were just there – disengaged.


I stood in the centre of it all.

Early this morning, the Husband told me that we had free tickets to the Stereophonics final show before they returned to London.

‘Do you want to go?’ He asked. It was a loaded question because I don’t ever give up gigs, whether paid for or not. It’s just a matter of work and time. I find that there’s always something to appreciate at a performance. I understand the hard work that goes behind the scenes – from the crew to the performers – and I won’t disrespect any of it. I may not always get it, but I will honour their passion. So I checked with the boss, who wonderfully excused me from the night’s responsibilities.

I’m glad with my choice because tonight, I was made a fan.

I listened to the odd Stereophonics track here and there back in the late 90s but was never into their music. I just happened to identify more with other bands like the Ride, Cocteau Twins, Suede, Pulp, Blur, Stone Roses, the Smiths, Spiritualized… somehow, the Stereophonics was not on my listening to-do list.

Today, I was a captive audience. Watching them perform was exhilarating and I think I fell in love. Not with the singer but with the songs and with his voice – one that sounded like it’d been drenched in too much cigarettes and alcohol. It’s broken edges wrapped me in a blanket of hope, sprinkled with the stars of yesterdays and tomorrow’s clear skies.

I stood there in my beautiful moment and looked up at the moon, the twinkling blanket above the trees… I closed my eyes and swayed, allowing myself to be pulled in to the place where I no longer cared about anything at all.

I was caught up in their untold story.

It’s a thrill to see your imagination
Just watching you is an education
What’s in your mind is my fascination
It blows my mind, it sets my heart to racing

You’re my Sunday, Make my Monday come alive
Just like Tuesday you’re a new day, wakes me up
Wednesday’s raining, Thursday’s yearning, Friday nights…
Then it all ends at the weekend…

You’re my star

– The Stereophonics


What made the lead singer continue pursuing his dream? It’s been so many years on and he’s still doing it, chasing his star.

If I met setback after setback, would I still chase my stars? If you met me on the streets and asked me what today was all about, and what tomorrow held, how would I answer you?

Yesterday, I might have hesitated. Tonight, I’d have come alive.

Under the stars tonight, I finally believe that dreams do come true.