Thank you to Lesvos Greece, the ‘Path of Love’, Osho Afroz meditation centre and Skala Erressos.

This was my first trip to the Greece and the island of Lesvos. It was a buzz to be somewhere new, swim in the Aegean Sea for the first time and wear a lungi/sarong and flip flops in the sunshine again.

It began with a strong week of personal transformation with the ‘Path of Love’. I love that Osho Afroz meditation centre has a ‘group room’ that’s open air with a big oak tree in the centre, surrounded by oak and olive trees, the breeze, open blue sky and sunshine. We spent every evening here, listening to spiritual discourses, dancing and meditating.  During the Path of Love retreat, there was an emphasis on exposure with sharing of our most hidden shadows, fears and secrets, and processing with dance, catharsis, group bonding and silence in between… there was plenty of support and I feel I made some valuable shifts that can enable me to live and enjoy more of my true essence. This could create a significant opening in my life. My prayer is always that as I heal myself may it benefit the collective. I now feel motivated to prioritise a more active social life, especially more singing opportunities and ‘conscious’ (sober) dance events… Deep gratitude for everyone at Afroz and P.O.L – Sabhavo, Abigail and all the facilitators, staff, participants – and especially my lovely room-mate Hilde and ‘Group 1’ that I was with and became close to, dear Linnea for our shares, and most of all, our experienced, wise and fun facilitators Satyarthi and Subhi who skilfully held and guided our processes. The week ended with a celebration full moon party in the open-air garden bar. At midnight I left the safe and heart-opening bubble of Afroz meditation centre and took a taxi to a festival opening party down at the beach resort… bit of a culture shock being in the outside world!

Just 3km from the meditation centre is the LGBTQ-friendly beach resort of Skala Erresos – built on ancient ruins and the poetry of Sappho. I loved that the resort was small and picturesque, everything close together within easy reach, a handful of shops and guest houses along paved roads and restaurants and bars along the beach front which stretches out to include a nudist beach at the far end. This was the annual International Women’s Festival. I ran my ‘Manifest your Dreams with the Cauldron of Infinite Possibilities’ workshop, on the balcony of the town hall, overlooking the Aegean sea. Unbeknown to me a member of the press was there and she is writing about it in the Hollywood Times.

I sang my song ‘Heaven on Earth’ at a ‘wine, women and words’ night and went to a couple of concerts including Nadine Benjamin – English National Opera soprano, who is refreshingly down to earth and a knock out singer – I couldn’t help but wonder how she packed her big frocks into her suitcase. I climbed a hill in the dark to watch the sunrise from the little chapel at the top, with sheep who somehow survive on a diet of dry stalks. I went to a writers workshop and composed a murder-mystery (bit dark but that was the topic!), an African dance workshop (and got roped into dancing on stage at the gala cabaret night). I met women from different countries and walks of life, enjoyed fresh Greek food, art, houses and warm hospitality. I heard about the history of Erressos and Sappho on a walkabout with the resident author and film-maker Tzeli and we touched the old wells and remains of walls and pillars, as they did in ancient times. I visited some hot springs, housed like a Turkish bath, that overlooked the coast of Turkey, climbed the steps to light a prayer candle in a hilltop church at the village of Petra and had a strong massage. There were loads more activities on the festival programme, given the time and inclination, including yoga, meditation, sports, performance, discussions and DJ dance parties. I guess like most holiday resorts, there was a lot of alcohol and cigarettes being consumed, which I find off-putting these days, so I didn’t feel drawn to the night life much, though the view of the waves lit up at night beside the dance floor was special. I appreciated the friendliness (especially the ‘Road Trippers’ crew), range of activities on offer and the rare opportunity for women – and especially LGBTQ women – to come together and truly be free to express and enjoy themselves in this unique and beautiful place. I enjoyed some holiday/integration time to myself and made the most of my first week relaxing on a beach in 7 years!

By the end of September, the resort here closes and the families move inland where its warmer and more sheltered. They announced on stage that the average wage for the staff at the resort is 5 euros per hour and so we were encouraged to tip well. There was a charity swim to raise money for local stray dogs. Some women raised money and collected gifts for the refugees that landed here. For the Greek economy, I hear its important that tourists continue to visit Lesvos and the beauty and culture of the island is not forgotten.

I close with some of the few words that have been salvaged from Lesvos’s lyrical poetess Sappho:

‘What cannot be said will be wept.’

‘What is beautiful is good, and who is good will soon be beautiful.’

‘Once again love drives me on, that loosener of limbs, bittersweet creature against which nothing can be done.’

‘Love shook my heart, Like the wind on the mountain, rushing over the oak trees.’

‘You burn me’

― Sappho