My earliest memories are of paradise.

I lived on an island, I was free to roam from our colonial house perched up on the hillside, I would usually be found on the beach swimming in the larger of the two beach pools under the watchful eye of a Gurkha guard. I was about four years old and I was content with my island life. I remember the monsoons, the complicated walk-truck-ferry-bus to get to school, the mosquito nets, the cockroaches and the grass snakes, the swimming races against my elder sisters (aged eight and thirteen), confident I could win. Life was one big family adventure and I soaked it up.

Like many things in my life, I taught myself to swim by jumping in at the deep end. I hadn’t feared trying to swim, aged three or four, I just did it. Later my mother told me the Gurkha had been keeping a watchful eye whilst I figured it out. I’m very grateful for his ability to let me discover an important life lesson—I learn best when I jump in at the deep end. It’s sink or swim. Only, as I get older, I become more afraid of the process and I long for that fearless child’s mind once more.

Travelling became a part of my life from birth, my first move to a foreign country at just 3 months old. It wasn’t always out of choice, but it is a constant that I find comfort in, a part of my perpetuating need to search for myself: where do I truly belong on this little blue planet? Why am I here? What am I capable of? What is my purpose?

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Now I have one foot in North Wales with my multi-lingual family, and an eye on destinations, near and far. I crave the mountains and hilly trails when I’m on roads and in cities. The sound of running water and capturing flora and fauna discoveries through a lens, are my counter-balance to external and internal tolls. At one time I wouldn’t have understood the treasures before me, but now my eyes are truly open. My inherent determination to seek out and explore, both physically and philosophically, whilst I cope with the mental tribulations that come with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, and the physical restrictions of managing M.E., is a deep-rooted spark that pushes me where many may falter.

Hypomania and M.E. is an awkward combination, and a tightrope to journey on.

Here are some obscure Yvie facts:

  • Studied the recorder up to Grade 8 {treble, descant and sopranino} and performed these with the school orchestra as well as solo
  • About a 96% average marksmanship
  • Former police officer, firearms officer and force triathlon champ
  • Navigated the force helicopter on a training exercise {really, really wanted to become an air observer}
  • Fluent French speaker, after moving to France at just 19yrs old and deciding to stay and become more French {thank you European Union, and France, for your wonderful welcome of this little migrant!}
  • I can fold my ears into my earlug, from years of bending my ears because I like the cold sensation, they are now extremely flexible {my party trick is to fold them up and then pop them out at will}
  • I do not own a gallbladder
  • Mother of three exceptional children and one beautiful Border Collie, partner of terrific Tom
  • Went to five schools by the age of eight years old, courtesy of the British Army way of life
  • Middle child of seven biological siblings
  • Took the Royal Commissioning Board officer entrance exam at 17 {didn’t get in but what an eye opener}
  • Seven years of university study under my belt
  • Hold a BA (Hons) in Modern Languages (English & French, with Spanish and Classical Greek), which was studied whilst having baby number three, working as a full-time police officer, passing my firearms course, and moving house twice
  • Studied two years of a degree in International Business and French
  • Studied the first year of a degree in Illustration with Children’s Publishing, until I became too poorly to continue {determined to complete this one day}
  • Took my driver’s test at 25 years old
  • Passed my driver’s test first time round
  • The one and only time I visited Dublin {end of A-level exams with school friends} I sheltered in a deserted precinct from the rain with two friends, when Ronan Keating walked by with his wife, joining the entire Boyzone group stood not far away. The rest of our school friends refused to believe us.
  • Two weeks before competing at the ITU Age Group Sprint Tri Champs in Hamburg, I was racing over Snowdon for the police Snowdonia 7 mountain race, I fell and badly sprained my ankle. I was also pregnant. I still raced in Hamburg, not my fastest time, then I hung up my trainers until after the birth.
  • Took up rollerblading in France and decided to skate down the steepest hill in Lyon near the Youth Hostel, couldn’t manage the U-bend at the bottom, had to dive across the road, cracked a rib.
  • Joined the roller hockey team in Lyon, my nickname was Magic Johnson
  • Diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder at 34
  • Diagnosed with Myalgic Encephaloymelitis a week before turning 38
  • Amateur genealogist with a knack for finding folk. It’s all part of my quest to discover why we are here…

Deep down, I simply strive to be the best version of myself, whatever my circumstances. Even when I really don’t know what I’m doing.

I prefer coffee to tea. Dark chocolates and berries. Reading by torchlight. Doodling and designing till the morning light. Lie-ins and waking to harmonies on the radio. Pulling on trainers and running out the door. Meaningful hugs, designer mugs, illustrated cotton bags and turquoise accessories. Affirmations and inspirational videos. Second-hand shops and stripey socks. I’m not sure what my natural hair colour is. Photographing the detail. Exploring my philosophies. Learning facts and discussing ideas. My nicknames have included Smiler, Yeti, Y-Fronts, Yoghurt, Lettuce and Spaghetti.

My journey is taking me back to being who I once was: fearless, adventurous, courageous.