Living Boldly Series: Ayannah Fleming
At the heart of Unsettled lie bold, inspiring, provocative, human-centric stories. At the end of each retreat, while we say goodbye to our participants, we also create bonds, friendships and connections that stay with us indefinitely. In our ‘Living Boldly’ series, we highlight members of the Unsettled alumni family who have been an integral part of our story. These are the people from 65+ countries who we’ve shared adventures with, had late-night conversations about love, life and politics with, and shared a new Unsettled ‘home’ with. Today, we continue to live boldly with the same crew.
This week, meet Ayannah Flemming
Trinidad and Tobago
What do you do for work?
Attorney-at-law (on most days anyway).
What makes you feel most alive?
Practicing yoga and sharing my practice with others. There is something truly transcendental about connecting body, mind and breath. It’s something that surpasses all reason and all stresses of life. It is, to me, the recognition of life itself; in its truest form. I feel a sense of renewal and awakening when I practice yoga and nothing makes me feel more alive than getting on that mat, bed, carpet, chair, whatever it is and just getting lost in life.
Describe what it mean to “never settle” in your own life?
“Never settle” to me means embracing life for what it is. We all get lost in the chain: get your degree now, get a job now, get married now, have a family now, die now. You know!? It’s crazy how scripted life can be, and for me that’s not living. That’s settling and settling is the opposite of living. I’m not saying that if you’ve done all these things and in record time, you’re more or less dead (I’m sure there’s some life still in there… somewhere). What I’m saying is that life is about constant change and living is truly embracing that change. For me to “never settle” means to embrace life and all that it has in store for you; good, bad and indifferent.
What was the most defining moment of your Unsettled experience in Nicaragua?
The actual arrival in Nicaragua and ALL of the love that I received once I got to the Surf Sanctuary (our home for the two weeks). I arrived in Nicaragua three days later than scheduled because I was deported on my first trip! Yep. I walked off the plane and got stopped by officials as I (unwittingly) left my yellow fever vaccine card at home. So I was asked to get right back on the same flight and go back to Florida. Second time around, I had some major love and support from Lala and Jon (Unsettled team members), and I told myself that the only thing I had to lose here was money. So I booked another ticket, had my vaccination card in hand, arrived in Nicaragua and nobody even mentioned vaccinations or yellow fever (touché Nica!). I got to the Surf Sanctuary where I was immediately met by Jon, Lala and Jan (Surf Sanctuary manager) and it was like a twilight zone. Everybody knew my name, everyone was so welcoming and happy to see me, nobody cared if I was vaccinated or spoke Spanish. I felt like the missing link that had just been found. The warmth was extended by ALL the other Unsettlers. I have to say there is something quite magical about receiving some American, Canadian, English, Irish, South African, Lebanese, Bulgarian, Thai, Swiss, and of course, Nicaraguan love! All at the same time.
How did your perspective change on Unsettled?
I had expected Unsettled to be an experience designed for, and overrun with freelancers who were looking for a new place to work. I expected everyone to be on their own beat and pretty detached from everything. I was happily surprised to find every kind of professional on this trip — from freelancers, to other lawyers, book editors, chefs and software engineers. And while everyone was going about their own business and doing the needful, we still found time to have the most AMAZING experiences together as a family. Countless dinners, and workshops, sightseeing, horseback riding and surfing (okay, so maybe I didn’t surf but let’s roll with it). Unsettled is as much about the amazing people, as it is the breathtaking venue and the unforgettable memories.
What’s your favorite quote that you think the world needs to see?
This is my mantra for 2018 and it also helped me to make it to Nicaragua for this amazing experience: “Your courage will guide your future” – found it in a fortune cookie from Panda Express. I think the world just needs to know that if you have the courage to do it, it will happen for you. Even if you fail the first time around, don’t quit, just keep going and believing in yourself (and the Panda Express fortune cookies!) and you’ll get there.