I'm an American expat, writer. photographer. and old-fashioned romantic in love with celebrating the simple joys of daily life. I appreciate timelessness, the natural world, and a slow life lived with simplicity and intention. When I'm not photographing families or  slowly traveling the world and writing about it in a little notebook, I'm happily grounding myself in nature and cozying up with my sweet husband.

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Widbrook Grange in Wiltshire, England 

After a full week of traveling through England and a weekend stay at Widbrook Grange hotel in the Wiltshire country, I’m feeling quite rejuvenated and filled with energy, light and clarity.

Isn’t it wonderful how a short trip, away from routine, away from what you know, can allow this space to open up and revitalize you?

I’m sharing how this time of silence, in the stillness, allowed me to discover and release blocks that I wasn’t consciously aware of. 

As a spiritual creative, I relate most of my life to my spiritual journey. I often seek to go inward, for by listening to my true self, that well of wisdom that is often associated with “intuition” “heart” “inner voice”, is able to guide to my highest good. And through the past three years of my inward-focused journey, I’ve learned so much – about myself, about life, about others and I love to share this journey and these discoveries here on this blog as they unfold. 

canals in Bradford-on-Avon England photographed by Helena Woods

Discovering Slow, Still Awareness in the Silence

Solo. A table for one. Long walks…alone. Afternoon tea, one person. 

I don’t drink wine, and I often only order an entree….and nothing else.

“I’m weird,” I laugh off shyly. The waiter laughs. A little too much. 

As an introvert, I thrive being alone – in thought and in action. But I’m also incredibly social and find most of my life’s fulfillment being around others. As naturally social animals, it’s normal, I suppose. 

But by day 5, asking for a table for one started getting old.

It’s interesting: traveling alone when you’re married. People often assume I’m either lonely, “do you not have anyone with you?” or strange…insert the “confused-curious expressions” here.

Suddenly, I’m not that 21 year old, sleeping in hostel bunk beds and new friends’ bedroom floors. 

I also don’t think about my future anymore. I’m settled, I’m deeply fulfilled, and I’m in an extremely happy and healthy marriage. And in that same regard, I no longer desire my independence anymore, and yet…I still hold on – clutching tightly with both hands. Not out of fear of my marriage but because I deeply and truly love myself. Not just the host that is “Helena” but me. The spirit within me. God, the Universe, life, the energy, all of it. 

And loving myself so much, I don’t ever want to lose myself in a relationship. 

But this intense desire to surrender to another, to merge life with another…it comes so naturally. And so…I travel, to remind myself that everything comes from within, to indulge and treat myself, to bask in the sweetness of my own company.

It’s a chance to remember. 

slow weekend in England with Helena Woods

Resistance Blocks I Discovered During my Solo Trip to Widbrook Grange

During my solo trip to Widbrook Grange hotel in Wiltshire England, I spent days walking, endless walking. I spent every moment in silence, choosing not to listen to music or podcasts or excess reading. I turned social media off for two full days, and I basked in long bubble bath soaks and more walks in the country. 

In the deep silence, emotions bubbled up that were never examined before.

And I could no longer hide from them. I had no way to distract myself, as I often do when I experience internal pain (I’m a total enneagram 7×8), with podcasts, self-help books, spiritual texts, online classes and social media. Instead, I was forced to confront the part of me, the deep part within me, that was blocked.

I experienced flashbacks of memories I encountered as a 7-year-old and again as a 17-year old that have led to internal blocks around my heart chakra – my ability to trust women and female friendships – over the years. And because I’ve developed these unconscious beliefs around female friendships, I’ve continued to attract more of that same energy: similar situations, friendships, and issues with female family members over and over again in my life. 

Repressed thoughts, beliefs, and emotions are always within us, often buried deep down, and require much self-awareness, courage and compassion in order for us to acknowledge and shine the light on them. 

After acknowledging these emotions in the still silence, I cried a bit (doesn’t it feel so good to release?) and wrote and then walked some more.

Widbrook Grange Hotel in Wiltshire England photographed by Helena Woods

Within all of our light is darkness

While it is most easy and natural for me to be extremely light and positive, I am never one to shy away from digging deep within.

I embrace my darkness.

I love the dark parts of myself, just as much as the light, for those dark parts are where I am meant to grow and develop in this lifetime and that is where most of our purpose for existing is, I believe: soul improvement.

We all have light and darkness within us. 

The Power of Silence and Doing Nothing

I wasn’t aware of these mental blocks until the silence welcomed me.

In a busy generation where technology and social media and consumption is distracting us at every possible angle, it’s challenging to focus on simplicity and going deep within. It’s difficult to uncover emotional blocks when we’re so focused on the material world, comparison, and hustle.

But there is immense power in silence.

There is so much awareness and power that comes when we welcome the stillness in our lives. 

It’s almost as if this silence I experienced opened up a window where there was only a wall for so many years. And in that stillness, during my solo trip to Widbrook Grange, I unearthed so much awareness, wisdom and dark beauty. 

“Boring” leads to awareness. 

If you’re ever in need of a solo trip, I highly recommend taking the time for your spirit and venturing somewhere to the country, as opposed to a vibrant urban city. Without media, distractions and options. It’s in this stillness where true discovery can shine its little light in.

This blog post / trip was not sponsored. Just a nice trip for myself. 

Photographs of Widbrook Grange Hotel in Wiltshire

A Solo Weekend of Silence and Stillness at Widbrook Grange Hotel in Wiltshire England

October 10, 2019

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I'm Helena! As a creative storyteller, I document magical, emotionally honest family and children's portraiture. A lover of childhood, fairytales and natural light, I photograph families across the world. I'm the ultimate Disney nerd, and I'm obsessed with cats and expressing my love for the simple joys of slow, daily life.

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Helena Woods is a destination newborn and family photographer based in France and New England and travels worldwide. She is known for her natural light, modern classic, and emotive photography style.

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