A story about a girl, her dog and a van and how with an old map and half a tank of petrol you can find freedom and overcome anxiety.
With Jasmine Langley & Ivy the Collie dog, shot on location in Snowdonia National Park, Wales.
Photography by Chris Boulton in partnership with Soulkind Magazine.
“YOU CAN STAY IN YOUR HOME, YOUR JOB, YOUR LIFE. YOUR ADVENTUROUS SPIRIT CAN THRIVE RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE NOW.”
By Chris Boulton
Jasmine Langley is a 25-year-old brand manager based in Bristol. By day she’s an integral cog in an exciting Bristol-based fashion brand. By night (and most weekends) she’s an adventurer on 4 wheels.
I met Jasmine on a photoshoot a few years ago. We worked together a few times and after getting to know her a bit better I discovered that there was more to Jasmine than met the eye. I learnt about her early life which was nomadic and somewhat unusual. I also learnt that although appearing confident on the outside, Jasmine was battling with serious and sometimes debilitating anxiety. Jasmine’s way of coping came by way of an old Toyota van that she had saved hard to buy and convert. Along with her ‘wing girl’ Ivy the lurcher, she spent every moment possible going on adventures, eating, living and sleeping in her van with only Ivy to keep her company. Through these adventures, Jasmine found a sense of purpose and strength – a way of coping and ultimately a path to conquering her anxiety.
This is Jasmine’s story.
I WAS RAISED A VAGABOND, NEVER STAYING IN ONE PLACE LONG ENOUGH TO PUT DOWN ROOTS.
My imagination has always run wild, building dams along the river in the summer, dens in the woods come winter. The idea of living on the road came to me while living in a stuffy studio flat in North London. The clashing sound of the approaching tube train played over and over in my head, day and night. I longed for wilderness, for wildlife and cool mountain air.
THE FIRST STEP IN MY MASTER ESCAPE PLAN …
Involved packing up my 3 door car and driving up to a farm in inverness where I would work for the next 2 years. Little did I know on my arrival I would find 8 lurcher puppies abandoned on my doorstep. One of these sharp toothed little lunatics would grow to become my adventure partner, co-pilot and all round superstar, Ivy.
Life on a farm toughens you around the edges, takes your idea of hard work and laughs in its face. I was 19, inexperienced, alone and out of my depth but I continued to laugh back at it, working 13 hour days, 7 days a week in the best of the Scottish weather. Never losing sight of that one end goal, my very own van.
It took 6 months from September to February 2015 to convert an ex motor-cross 1999 Toyota Hiace into a space that I could call my first home. Blood, sweat and tears were shed in great quantities. I had no idea what I was doing but that was precisely my point. I wanted to prove to myself and everyone else that you can write your own future, break the rules and steam full speed ahead into the unknown.
HIGH ON EACH GRANITE ALTAR DIES THE SOUND,
DEEP AS THE TRAMPLING OF AN ARMOURD HOST,
LONE AS THE LAMENTATION OF A GHOST
THEN ALL OF A SUDDEN, WITHOUT WARNING,
IT ALL WENT BLACK.
You’d have thought I would be content, ecstatic even. I finally had everything 19 year old Jasmine had dreamed of. I was diagnosed with anxiety, OCD and social phobia as the summer of 2017 gently faded into autumn. The leaves on the trees were slowly perishing, clinging on to the branches just as I was desperately clinging on to my ability to simply leave the house. I was slipping, fast. Self doubt and uncertainty ricocheting off the magnolia walls of my bedroom, straight back into my head.
Every thought I tried to expel from my mind just came straight back around, I felt like I couldn’t escape. Where do you turn when you feel like you are living alone on a desert island and everything is imploding?”
MY SAVING GRACE CAME IN THE FORM OF THE UNCOMPLICATED DAILY DOG WALK.
Now, this may not seem like the world’s most daring adventure but to me, at the time, it felt like the biggest achievement. It was only when I realised that my self doubt no longer had walls to bounce off of that I began walking more and more. I could acknowledge my intrusive thoughts as they presented themselves, then release them into the wind, never to be seen again. I started seeking out wilderness, searching for secluded spots where I could lose myself for an entire day.
AS MY CONFIDENCE GREW, I STARTED TRADING MY LOCAL PARK IN FOR THE MOORS AND HILLS OF DARTMOOR, EXMOOR AND THE BEAUTIFUL BRECON BEACONS.
Taking the van out for an entire weekend, losing myself in the wild. I walked hand in hand with the mountains, letting them guide me, steer me into the unknown. My fear of … well … absolutely everything, started to ease. Focusing on breathing and putting one foot in front of the other, which, in my humble opinion are the two most important things in life (as well as dogs of course!). I was not out to summit every mountain or ‘conquer’ nature.
I DANCED ALONGSIDE THE FAST FLOWING, ICY RAPIDS OF JANUARY RIVERS ON DARTMOOR, SLID DOWN MUDDY VALLEYS DODGING FALLEN TREES IN THE BRECON BEACONS, WATCHED THE DAY DISAPPEAR OVER THE OCEAN FROM THE CLIFFS OF EXMOOR.
Nature became home and for someone who has never stuck around long enough to place that label on bricks and mortar, it meant the world to me. Something static in my life, something I could rely on, run to when life became noisy.
Some of my most life affirming adventures have been less than an hour from my front door. There is no pressure to go on one ‘trip of a lifetime’, no need to spend your hard earned savings on a plane ticket. Adventure is found within. You can stay in your home, your job, your life. Your adventurous spirit can thrive right where you are. With Ivy by my side and adventure in my heart, I am truly free.
SoulKind is an independent magazine that explores the hearts and minds of inspirational people, sharing their extraordinary stories, spreading positivity and inspiring others.
Jasmine Langley @Jazzysjourneys
Chris Boulton @chris.boulton.photo
SoulKind Magazine @soulkindpeople
Sponsored by Blundstone UK & Soulkind Magazine.