How to achieve your Dream life

Simplicity. Focus. Time.

Even if you’re just trying to achieve some goals it requires the same things. Sounds easy right. The reality is more complicated as we all know. But here’s what I’ve found in nearly every aspect of life. These 3 steps work. The simpler your life is, the easier it gets to achieve the meaningful stuff. Every. Single. Time. Simplify your life, add focus and time and you’re on your way.

Years ago I had a dream to get away, leave everything behind for a time and travel. Extended travel…. months at least. There was zero possibility of it being a reality anywhere on the horizon. I knew though if there was ever a chance there were things that needed to change and so I worked on those. Using those exact 3 steps. I worked towards the dream and when the opportunity presented, it was sudden and I was as surprised as everyone else. I grabbed that opportunity and was living that one particular dream within 6 weeks. This was only possible though because of the work I’d done previously using those steps.

More importantly….. Use these steps to go and achieve your dreams

Simplicity:

The more time, money, energy you can free up. The greater the chance you have of achieving the life you REALLY want. If you are bogged down in details and time consuming tasks in every area of your life you won’t find the time to learn, do, be or have the goals you’d like to reach. We all know this. I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know, even if we are not admitting it to ourselves. The often trotted out line ..”Once I finish this. Go on Holidays. Summer finishes. If I could just” .. variations of those themes. Is a lie and we know it. There will always be something. The minutiae of life will consume your whole life if you let it. Multiple trips to the grocery store. 17 after school activities for your kids. Endless bill paying. Too many loads of washing. Time wasted looking for the lost thingamajig…. There isn’t a thing in your personal, family or home universe too small to look at simplifying or better still eliminating if it’s not needed or necessary. Address it all! We’ll look at this in more detail on the site.

Focus:

When I say focus this also means DOING the work it will take to achieve what it is you want. It won’t just turn up on its own.  More ease. More time for yourself, friends, family. A holiday. Time for volunteer work. Learning a new language or skill. Improved health, finances, job. A completely new life. What is the ultimate aim? Your target? Once you know it – you can work backwards. Envision what your future dream life looks like for you. What would you need to do to achieve that. New skills? Reduced debts? Training? Would you need to save money or enlist professional help? Don’t pick a whole bunch. If it is truly something that will change or improve the quality of your life it requires your attention. You can change it all but focus on one thing at a time then move on to the next if it will take multiple changes. Trying to change 17 different things at once is a recipe for failure, exhaustion and despair.

Time:

Now. Just start. It may take time but the decision to change your life or go after a goal is made in an instant. It really, really is that simple. The commitment to that goal – the focus, is what comes next. Whether you want it enough to keep working towards it, even if you fall off the  wagon now and again, just climb back on. Then … time. Patience. Enjoying, refining and improving where you are while working towards where you want to be. I know life is now geared as .. How to get the perfect body in two weeks. 3 simple life hacks for corporate success etc etc ad nauseum. It’s all instant gratification and ease and it’s disheartening if you feel your failing. Here’s the thing though… you have time. Decide what you want. Simplify. Focus. Time. Get moving. Keep going. Don’t give up. Here is one of the quotes I love in relation to this concept.

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So as long as you’re here. You may as well keep working towards what you want. Don’t fritter away your time, get moving on your dream. Make the commitment. Do the work but release any fear or anxiety around the outcome. As clichéd as it sounds – “enjoying the process or the journey” really will make it easier. My dream was never a win/lose proposition though and neither is yours. If I hadn’t achieved it. The things I addressed and improved in my life incrementally over the years, every change had a positive pay off in some way and would have led to other opportunities if not this one.

Give it a shot. No effort is wasted and think of what you might achieve. I’m cheering for you. Let me know how it turns out.

Ever x

Featured picture: Croatia… one of the countries visited during my extended travel trip.

New Year. New You.

Here we are. Welcome to 2017!

Let me say here straight up, it’s ok to be fine with where and who you are. Actually that is the goal isn’t it.  If you’d like a year of just going with the flow, seeing what happens, no big plans or goals. Good for you! It seems there very few people out there saying.. “You want to chill – that’s fine. Good even. Go do that.Come back if you change your mind” If however you’d like to make a few improvements or set a few goals and intentions. This is a great time to do it.

As many of us are  preparing to or already have done. Goal setting is usually high on the agenda for this time of year. Although any time is good really but flipping over the calendar to the new year in January is symbolically a time of fresh starts and new beginnings.  I’m not one of the nay sayers of this area and so I both do it myself and would encourage it for others. Goals. Ideals. Plans. Intentions. Write it down. Laminate it. Frame it. Put it in a binder. Tape it to your wall. Whichever, just put it somewhere where you’ll see your goals regularly. You can’t hit a target if you don’t know what you’re aiming for and the studies all show that writing goals down increases our chances of achieving them. I have mine in my home manual and refer to it often. The kinds of things I usually have goals for tend to fall under these categories. Health. Financial. Home. Personal. But the list is endless obviously of what it could entail.

My only recommendations would be make sure it’s a real goal. Not just something you think you should or would like. I’d like my house to be clean, fix it up a bit, reduce my debts …. I want to be fitter, healthier.. spend more time with my family, have some me time blah, blah. But something specific and that you’re really committed to. The ones I listed are too wishy washy and vague. Make them meaningful but I’d also suggest make them few. You can always add if you’ve achieved them early but picking a dozen or more especially if they are chunky, meaningful and worthwhile will overwhelm you and increase the risk of failure or abandonment. Write all your goals down by all means in a list but then just pick a few at a time to focus on for this year. You have next year as well etc So a better option goal wise so that it’s more specific would be something along these lines .

  1.  Design a weekly cleaning schedule to start Jan 9th.
  2. Renovate laundry this year
  3. Eliminate credit card debt. Reduce by $–, cut up all but one emergency card
  4. Monthly family date for movies, park, road trip first weekend of the month.
  5. Eliminate soda from my diet. Half hour daily walk
  6. Schedule Dr and Dental visits. May and November
  7. Yoga class weekly.
  8. Half hour reading before bed etc
  9. Learn Spanish

You get the idea.Of course your goals can be much grander than this, much more personal or smaller. Maybe you want to address a personal matter that is effecting you negatively. Maybe you want to build a business. Start charity work. It doesn’t matter. If your goals are more personal and less tangible say. When you’re looking for a feeling rather than an event or thing…. “I want to feel more joy in my life or adventure” say. A good place to look for help with that scenario is Danielle Laporte she is all over the desires of the heart and literally calls it.. “Desire Mapping” Other desires and wants are often a bit more straight forward to find help with. Behavioural change you can look for help with life coach’s. Things like Hypnotherapy, meditation, NLP. Phsyc K. All look towards helping you change unhelpful habits and thought processes or aid in discovering new ones. Some of the bigger names you might check out in this are people like Tony Robbins.Brendon Burchard. Tim Ferris. Jonathon Fields. There are dozens though. Other things like health, business, money there are some very targeted specific sites out there that are just great. I won’t list the options here simply because there are so many but if you’d like some hints or pointers let me know in the comments and I can throw some resources together for you all.

Scheduling these things is also hugely important. Get out your calendar. Mark out exactly when you want these things by. Ideally you want everything organised up and running by mid January. So break it down into chunks. If you have multiple things I will often break them up into 2 monthly periods of time. Not too long or you never get around to them. For eg you may have payments of $200 a week automated to go to your credit card debt. Doctors and Dental visits scheduled for May and November. Research for the new Laundry will be done March and April then  booked and Scheduled for May/June. Spanish classes you will start in July. Spread them further apart during the year or bring them forward earlier if opportunities present. It’s not set in stone but does give you a strong workable, not overwhelming calendar to achieve your aims. Simple but efficient systems are always the best and most productive. The more complicated, the more working parts, the more things that can break down, get lost, forgotten, go awry. Always aim for simple first.

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There are so many resources out there and bloggers, youtubers, life coaches, inspirational speakers, good old fashioned books and magazines. It is merely a case of finding one that resonates with you if you’re not sure how to go about it, need some ideas or inspiration. You can look for people in the area you are most interested in eg money, health, minimisalism, sports or life in general and look to their guidance or suggestions. Or it really is as simple as writing it down yourself. Some use smart targeted goals, some focus on desired feelings, manifesting, NLP, practicality and action steps, a word for the year a mixture of a few different things. It really is just finding one that aligns with your beliefs, goals and personality and that you connect with. Look up hash tags, ask friends for recommendations or google it. Have a look, see if it fits what you want. If it speaks to you in a way that motivates and helps you and then just go for it.

Alternatively look up areas that interest you and meander around the web following links until you find the good stuff you’re after. Bakers. Mountain Bikers. Homesteading. Runners. Gardeners. Woodworkers. Ancient battle craft. Vikings. Book clubs. Whatever it is you will find it. Just don’t waste to much time doing that. Start and upgrade later if you find a better way or site or person. But start. Don’t waste weeks or months in research and planning. If what you pick isn’t working for you just choose a different path – don’t give up on the goal. Just find a different way or person to guide you to reaching it. This is one reason meaningful goals are important. Goals aren’t always easy to hit or achieve or most likely we’d already have done it. You need to want it enough to find your way there … if at first you don’t succeed and all that.

I wish you all the very best in 2017. I’d love to hear in the comments what you are all aiming for this year.

E x

 

I Read Past my Bed Time … aka Go To Sleep !!

I am a night owl by nature. Less than helpful when much of even our modern 24hour world runs during daylight hours. It’s a battle my parents fought to change and lost, and one I continually try to keep reasonably in check at least and often fail at also. Most of us fall more naturally into one of two camps … the night owls like me or the early risers. Now that it’s the end of year, lead up to Christmas, work, projects, shopping etc even more of us are either not getting enough sleep or keeping hours that are not really optimal for us.

If you work in the regular world it can be hard to ever catch up on that sleep deficit of late nights and early or regular hours mornings and the benefits of enough sleep are well documented. In fact I think we can consider them  beyond question at this point in time. Improved immunity and wellness. Less health disadvantages. Better weight control and skin- it’s important! Higher functioning and productivity. Better mental health. Your body repairs itself while you sleep. It has more time and can do this more easily because it’s not as busy running you. Seriously. Let it rest. It’s for your own good and benefits not just you but anyone who has to deal with you especially those that have important or meaningful relationships with you.

Now this is always important – but the reason I bring it up now is because it’s the silly season and so many people are on overload and running on less than adequate sleep. More than is usual even. Even the early to bed, early to rise crew. We touched on this last post and I wanted to lodge this in your brain because at some stage over  Christmas, the New Year and before the business world ramps up again for 2017 we should all get a chance at some extra rest and I don’t want you to miss the opportunity because you hadn’t thought about it – planned for it even. A nap here and there during one of the days off, a snooze after a big feast, an early night when the kids are exhausted. If you get a chance I want you to take it. Because the other end of the spectrum at this time of year is too many of those late nights and long days in the lead up to the end of the year and the festive season.

That’s it for this week. Short and sweet. Enjoy your get togethers as the year ends. Get some extra sleep or naps in when you can.

Always E x

 

There is no U in Christmas

That should read YOU and this is just a friendly reminder to take a minute for yourself in the run up to Christmas.

For so many people Christmas is like a sprint to the finish line. The pressure of all the expectations we have created for ourselves, society has created for us or we think or know others have of us. Family. Work. Personal. Relationships. If that isn’t enough we also like to throw in trying to finalise projects, clients, goals – personal and business related. If we can just get everything done before the 24th and then we can really enjoy the day.. hopefully. Clean slate into the New Year. Woo!  It’s a mighty goal and a worthy one and I’m not going to tell you not to aim for that. I personally love tying off my year in a big red bow to mark it’s completion. What I will tell you though is that ambitions that big need organisation and systems to be set up earlier in the year but that’s a chat for another day. I also won’t join the “let it go” chorus because I know you’re probably going to try anyway. I definitely have in the past and would in that position again. So lets not beat ourselves up over that and just accept that as part of our Christmas /End of Year nature and move on to the YOU part of this equation.

Christmas is less than 2 weeks away. I know. I know. BREATHE. “What’s coming will come and we’ll face it when it does” [Hagrid] The point is, you arriving at the day frazzled and burnt out will help nothing. Tired we might not be able to do much about if you have toys to put together the night before or you didn’t get to the present wrapping yet [they always take longer than you think and I’ve faced many early dawns myself on this account] BUT whether your end of year is a laugh riot of friends and family. Office parties. Whether you will be spending it alone or with a few intimates. Taking some time over the next couple of weeks for yourself will help you deal with all the end of year craziness a little better. I’m not going to lie to you. Things won’t necessarily go more smoothly because there are too many factors and other people involved in the process but you WILL be better able to deal with the challenges as well as enjoy the delights of the season if you’re not in crazy town from stress yourself.

So what to do. What am I advocating? I know you’re busy so I don’t want to create unrealistic notions to add to your “To Do” list. 15 minutes a day. That’s it. When you wake up. Your lunch time. After the kids are in bed. Before starting dinner. It doesn’t matter where. If you can prioritize more – even better. This doesn’t have to be hard. Depending on the time you have and where you’ll be when you have it… some ideas.

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  • Meditate or Mindful breathing.
  • Go to the park, take off your shoes and put your feet on the grass ..very grounding.
  • Go for a walk
  • Go to the gym… exercise that stress off
  • Read a book  (Not self improvement!) All those 15 minutes or more will add up.
  • Take a bath use gorgeous scented products.
  • Buy yourself a cupcake/ fresh squeezed juice etc and take time to really savour it.
  • Get a pedicure
  • Craft
  • Ring a friend

You know you best. What is it that even 15 minutes would help you unwind, give you a little bit of time to yourself and make your wee little heart happy? Now go do that. Also sleep. I can not stress that enough. Whether you have kids or not we all know how ratty kids can get when they haven’t gotten enough or need more. Don’t fool yourself that you don’t have an adult equivalent of that. No matter how well you think you do without it. We all function at a higher, more productive level and deal with things better when we are well rested.

Add these couple of things, they take minimal effort and will make a big difference. I’d love to know what you did and how it went… you know…when you have a minute.

E x

Featured Image: Chevy Chase. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation 1989.Warner Bros

 

You are Here

Wandering around different countries as I have been and gifted with the life skill of being able to get lost absolutely anywhere, I have a tendency to love those signs that show you not only where you are but usually what is around you and if you’re lucky, how to get to where you want to go. Which got me thinking how handy that would be to have in life.

I think all of us have times where we would have loved one of those maps. When we’ve just have no clue where the hell we’re going or we know where we’d like to go but have no idea how to get there. Sometimes when the changes are big enough we have no idea who we will be or even where we’ll be at the end of it and that can be terrifying. The potential in that though is enormous and that is a great thing to realise and to remember. It’s not all just wandering around looking up, back and sideways trying to work out where you are.

It is during these times that we have the opportunity wanted or not to redesign our lives. Small or large. Sometimes it will be through choice sometimes through necessity.  For me it has never been more constant than the last few years as I’ve redesigned one part of my life after another.  It turns out there can be long periods of change too. Sometimes change comes whether we want it to or not. Often we’re not ready. Regardless of how it comes though, even when wanted  .. It can be deeply uncomfortable and scary but it is a natural part of life. If we never change we become stagnant. We’d be the same people at 60 that we were at 16.. and although we all probably know someone or even a few people like that I think we can all agree it’s not the ideal we  are aiming for.

Change is going to come anyway and how we choose to think about and deal with it is often the only control we will have.  Try thinking of it like the it’s the next paragraph or a new chapter in the book that is your life. We design what we can, accept what we can’t and  fit it all into the larger story. Navigating towards the outcome we’d like – because you’re not a passenger but realise there are other factors and or people involved and we don’t have control of those. That Is where all the challenge and change, fun and joy lies. Because it can also be great and joyous and full of growth.. always there is growth if nothing else but you must be open to it. Try breathing and relaxing into it instead. I promise it’s easier.

Words can be incredibly powerful in this. Your brain is susceptible  and if you keep telling it this is stressful and hard – it’ll believe you, it has not reason not to. So stressful and hard it is. How you frame the experiences, the words you use can make a big difference. You will often hear me talk about “adventures” Some of them are exactly that.. fantastic adventures I planned. Some of them not so much .. but they are all “adventures” just the same. I try never to have “Oh, shit” moments so much as “Well, this will be interesting/exciting” moments. Lets be honest things don’t always go how we’d like. But reframing it often helps. If they’re changes you’d hoped for or were working towards breathing into it is easier there can be some fear of change but also excitement to offset that. In those cases just hang on for one minute more you’ll be out the other side before you know it.

So “You Are Here” but you’d really like to be “there”. There is no map unfortunately. The directions to the place you want to be are not always clear. Definitely not lineal and sometimes you’re going to get lost. I can almost guarantee you of that.  There is more than one way from point A to point B and that is the greatest news ever! The only prerequisite then is that you keep moving, keep learning. That’s it. Easy peasy. If you end up in the wrong place, or a dead end. If you’re not where you want to be just take your bearings and start again in another direction. Some ways will be easy, some harder. Short, long, challenging, fun or joyous. As the end of the year approaches there is no better time to look around and think about if you’re headed in the right direction for where you want to go? So.

YOU ARE HERE… Where to next?

Always E x

Redesign It..

What?…. Well your life of course.

We’re all looking to have a life we love. I haven’t met a person yet aiming  to create the most tedious, boring or overwhelming life possible. I know people who have ended up with that – including me, but it was never our intention.

The whole point of getting organised, streamlining etc is to free up the time, energy and resources you need to redesign your life. To  “Get a Life”  One that you’re in love with and that fills you up rather than drains you. Why else would we bother. Firstly though you need to decide where you want to start and for that the easiest way to start is to categorise. Define what you feel make up the important parts of your life. There will be sub categories of course but lets not make it more difficult than it needs to be and overwhelm ourselves before we even start.

Here are mine: Copy them or choose your own. You know what you want to focus on and if you’re not sure. Just pick one and the rest tend to reveal themselves when you’re ready. Without further ado , here is my list and why

  • Home

We all have one in some form. Permanent. Temporary. Shifting. It includes all the people (family/friends/lodgers/you) and pets in it and anything associated with keeping all that running as smoothly, efficiently and effectively as possible. This can have a little bit of crossover with the personal section in regards to your people – but you’ll quickly work out which category you want different things under. Don’t overthink it, trust yourself and go with your decision. There is no right or wrong.

  • Business and Finances

This is a no brainer and includes all aspects related to your work or job. Money makes the world go around.. and pays the bills. Apart from outstanding individuals like Mark Boyle and Daniel Suelo most of us will need to work this out. The more successfully we do this the more freedom and choice we have in our lives – freedom and choice is the whole reason I do this.

  • Personal & Lifestyle

Under this you will find things like. Wellbeing. Health. Relationships. Joy. The parts of our lives that are personal to us that make it enjoyable… or not. Other things may include travelling. Adventuring. Exploring. Hobbies. Goals and challenges you have or want to build into your life . This would also include commitments or events such as: Birthdays. Weddings. Christenings. Holidays. Christmas. Stuff that’s not everyday. A bit larger and therefor usually needs more planning and organisation.

  • Community

I feel this one is so important and increasingly rare. People coming together in groups to achieve, attain, fix, overcome, change, enjoy, socialise, support. What can’t be achieved by a group of dedicated, committed people. Whether that commitment is to having fun. Relaxing. Learning. Making sure a group in your area doesn’t fall through the cracks. Feeding the homeless. Local Farmers markets. Sports clubs. Environmental or social. I’m not talking large groups even … there is no end to the importance of local community based groups. Your contribution is important.

These are mine as I said. I am by no means an expert in these.  I have systems that work and systems I’m learning or searching for how to make more successful or efficient. I’ll pass it all along. Including what I have done so far that has allowed me to take this little life pause to travel for an extended period of time. Or as Tim Ferris would call it a Mini Retirement. Follow along here and lets have some fun.

Put your categories below to give us all more food for thought and ideas. What do you want to look at? Our .. Get Organised. Get a Life. Community.. lets build and use it.

E x

 

Be the CEO of your life.

Well, actually you already are. Yep. That’s right. So… How’s your job performance going? Would you give yourself a bonus or the boot? Are you kind of just moseying along putting out the fires when they come along and spending as much time on social media as you can get away with postponing what you really need to be doing. Or are you progressing well. Ticking all the boxes and up leveling your life in the ways you’d like regularly ? Making plans and meeting goals

For me the answer was certainly closer to the former than the later scenario. Then one day while I was working through one job or another that I had put off longer than I should have this occurred to me. I realised. I would never have let things progress to this stage in a work environment so why was I doing it in my personal life. I worked like a Trojan at my job and then came home and slacked off on my life, home, responsibilities etc. Who  had more at stake in working towards and promoting good outcomes in my life than me. Clean and maintained home and yards. Jobs up to date and routines in places. Finances not only taken care of but plans in place for improvements. Bills paid. Personal care ..dental, medical, exercise, time for self, family and friends?  Here I was half arsing it, delaying decisions, not doing the work, not researching or making improvements that I KNEW needed to be made AND would likely improve my life and myself. I was up to date though with the latest face book happenings – you know, the important stuff that makes a real difference in your life.

I don’t know about you but I don’t feel particularly adult like or confident and good about myself when I feel like my personal life or home is in a bit of a shambles needing a good clean and tidy so to speak. When it’s sliding. So what was the problem … I  had a handle on some of the reasons … but ultimately I decided it didn’t matter. It doesn’t matter for you either as long as you can work a solution out but most likely you do know. Often among other things it boils down to stress, overwhelm or just being plain tired or sick of it all. Too many things to take care of it feels like. The irony of it is though… the more we take care of it, the easier it becomes. I’ve had my home and life running like a dream before so I knew it was possible and I know the benefits that flow from that.

So that’s what I decided a couple of months back. I would start to approach it like I was an employee. The CEO, because I wanted the top job in my company. The buck stopped with me. Decisions were mine. I had the position and authority to make them. The performance, profits and benefits rested with me and there was HUGE performance bonuses in the offering if I got it right. I would treat the work that needed doing like it was a business I worked for. Because it is with all benefits and profits going to me and the people I love and care about. What greater incentive was there really. I would advocate and work towards the best outcomes for the company. Obviously it’s not quite as clinical as it sounds. Have fun with this. It’s simply a new way to look at things. If your life is not where you want it to be in one or more areas, treat it like it’s your job to fix it. Because it is.

Be the CEO. Get it done. Reap the rewards even if that’s just the peace of a completed job or clean house. You don’t have to .. but won’t you feel better if you do? If there’s some specific areas you’d like to look at let me know or let me know how your company is doing.

“That’s  all”

E x

Pic: Meryl Streep “The Devil Wears Prada”  (2006) Twentieth Century Fox

Slow Down Sundays

The other week I decided to reinstate Slow Down Sundays aka Defrag Day.

I used to do this at home before I started travelling. We get so busy “doing” emails, work, house, blogs whatever it may be for you, that we don’t give ourselves any time to just stop and be and enjoy. We have a minute off and we feel we need to fill it with something productive or we’re wasting time. Ridiculously even travelling as I have been I was doing this to myself .. “You’re not doing enough tourist sites or quick enough. Not doing enough blog or working it out quick enough. Not catching up with work back home or emails or friends enough. Stupidity in the extreme. So it’s back! The day can include anything I want as long as its for me and not work or catch up. This back home typically involved a lovely slow day of reading, a movie or TV series, doing my nails, a little pampering an excursion or outing of some kind, catching up with friends maybe and a lovely long detox bath that evening.

Winter typically found me under a blanket on the lounge, reading. Large quantities of warm tea on the stove. Coffee with friends. Cooking large batches of soup (I find it relaxing) or stews. Summer. Under the shade of trees. Wine or movie dates with friends in air conditioned comfort. Mostly not a lot of money was involved … just time, and the commitment that it could only be spent on myself. No work, including housework.

This is a great thing to put into action for yourself. Children, no children it matters not. If you have a partner and or children make it a day you spend together … no work, no homework, no housework. Make sure you do get some ‘you’ time elsewhere though … just for you and or your friends. Alternatively have a luncheon and invite everyone. This way friends, fun, time out, kids … all being covered at the same time. It will involve some rescheduling of other things likely (and we’ll get to that as well) but it is so worth it and I think.. so very necessary in the crazy busy lives and world we live in.

You’re likely going to find it stressful just stopping. That alone should tell you to keep going. If you can’t stop for one day without dread, stress, anxiety or feeling irresponsible (insert whatever negative emotion or thought you’re having here) then I would suggest this absolutely makes the case for you including this as part of your life going forward. One day a week dedicated to self care, time with friends or family without  a ‘To Do’ list should be something to look forward to, not dread. You will come to look forward to it and love it, I promise and in a very short period of time you will find yourself making all sorts of plans for your ‘Slow Down Sunday’

Feel free to leave what you’re doing in the comments, sharing your ideas and tips with others.

E x

That one time i did the Camino

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The adventure/life pause/search/ throwing all cards in the air officially began in Paris early March and moved down to St Jean Pied de Port at the end for the start of the Camino. The ancient Pilgrimage I’d first heard about 2 years before and which had begun its relentless call 18 months before.

I’m going away to be alone. I’m coming back with answers.

Don’t try to call my telephone. It’s disconnected.

Words off one of the tracks on my mp3 day 2 of the camino. Never really payed attention before that so much hearty laughing ensued followed by this prayer of gratitude in the cold of the morning climbing a hill, pristine views …

Thank you.

Thank you.

For a body and spirit that can do this.

and this is how it all began. Over the course of the Camino .. that belief sometimes wavered. About the heart, mind and spirit…never. About the body. Absolutely. On two occasions I was given a way out and on a third had to make a decision. Keep going.. on pure faith that I could make it because it wasn’t looking good or stop with a valid reason to back up that choice. That is where I saw part of my character shine through and give me a wink and a smile and I so kept going.. faith in hand.

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I thought I would go for long walk. Think big thoughts. Finish expanded and enlightened. I had no concept even with research of what I would be putting my body through. You can read about it .. experiencing it is something else. Clueless would be an appropriate description. The difference between knowing and understanding. Weather according to the locals not common or usual, I would spend much of my Camino wading through mud and water and on occasions snow and ice. Negotiating flooded paths and fields. Up and down more hills and mountains than I could count in all kinds of terrain.  In wind and rain and snow and hail a couple of times just to round things out.  But when the sun shone…. it was glorious! My body was kind of a distant thought in the planning and in life .. entirely too common I realised. Until I’m forcibly reminded. I did train but there’s a lot more to looking after your body than that. Mind and spirit, needs and wants…. check. My body is like “Yo Dude! Down here carrying those 2 around remember! Can I get some love and attention!” I have been taught this lesson many times but am obviously a slow learner.

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The Trinity of the Camino is rumoured to be. The first part is for the body. 2nd part the mind and 3rdly the spirit and that it continues OR starts to teach its lessons after you finish. Did I think big thoughts? Sometimes, sure. I know I spent a lot more time thinking about my feet though. Expanding .. Enlightenment? Not like I expected but yes and I’m interested to see what comes. What did I find or learn.. grief I hadn’t processed or realised was there. Thankfulness for things ended, started, gone, arrived that I would never have expected to be thankful for. A releasing. Clarifiication or understanding. Rubbing up against my own intolerances or limitations and finding them uncomfortable. A quiet still peace. Some stuff for the future. Joy. Some realisations of what was important to me – that I really knew already but was reminded of.

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But mostly I learnt more about myself.  Ultimately I think the Camino is always a personal journey more than anything .. you just happen to do it in Spain while walking a really, really long way. You will be stretched much further than you ever considered. Its not all deep and meaningful days and thoughts and in fact most of it isn’t. Much of it is new ways, new food, new places, new people. Divinely beautiful scenery. Shrines. Pilgrims masses. Beautiful town after beautiful town. Moments of pure joy, of peace, of heart bursting happiness… just because … for no reason. All the beauty and life of nature. Many, many great people, conversations and experiences. Eating, sleeping and finding places and ways to do those things.

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Lots of laughing, some crying, raging and resignation. Personal challenges. A deep love/hate affair with your feet .. you can take that as a universal fact for about 98% of the pilgrims. You will spend many many hours taking care of or preparing your feet. You’ll pay attention to weather forecasts like never before. It’s walking for hours and hours and hours, week after week.. even when you just want to stop and sit and rest. By the end you can usually spot the pilgrims amongst others … the signs … and tell if they’re walking in pain. Supporting others.. often strangers… and having them support you. Days of company and times of isolation, nobody but you and the road .. for hours or days. Instant connections with others, fast friendships, life stories. For those a spiritual nature there is often also a confirmation of sorts that there is more at work in this world than what we can feel and touch and show. The Camino provides. And you will meet some of the most incredible people. Some of whom you’ll keep in contact with even when you’re done.

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Now I’m done. For me nearly 1,000 km. Walking, exploring, learning, meeting. There are new adventures/challenges to plan. That last day though in front of that church in Santiago .. my thoughts and prayer sent heavenward…

Thank you.

Thank you.

For a body and spirit that could do this.

Forever grateful. Ever x

PS: You can see the fun, photos and stories as I walked the Camino over on my Instagram. Some of the people I met, things I saw, towns I stopped at along the way. Which is where I posted sans laptop. Find me under Ever Belsant.