February Wrap Up

February came and I wrapped up my time in Budapest and headed off to Ireland with a few life goals in hand I was hoping to accomplish while there. One was pretty much a given.. so I had firstly….

Life goal: Visit Ireland

Next was something I had made enquiries and tentative arrangements for before getting to Ireland.

Life goal: Work / Volunteer on an Organic farm.

I could have done this anywhere but was really hoping to experience this in a country with a climate completely unlike my own. Mine obviously being hot, humid and dry. Mission very much accomplished to say the least. The rainfall here  – the extent and frequency was a surprise. Yes I know.. Ireland and the rain. shocker… but again let me say, the difference in knowing and understanding is in the experiencing.

 

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Tier 1. Rock walls. Stairs and existing beds lie underneath this

 

The farm I chose is in the process of being turned into a retreat and alternative treatment and education centre. Something I’m thrilled to see more of in the world and happy to help with in any small way  I can. It had been a family home allowing the family near total self sufficiency for many years and organic for nearly 30 years. It had become overrun in the last few when the family moved out and other people had been looking after it. We would be starting the process of bringing it back into order and hopefully in the not too distant future …. garden productivity.

 

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Tier 2. The vegetable gardens. 8 of them clustered around a circular centre.

 

I completely lucked out with this project let me say. The owner and 2 of her best friends I met and got to know, the 2  Croatian cousins starting a new life that I would actually be working with and a couple of French guys who came and helped for a bit… I say again some of the best parts of this adventure in the last 12 months have been the amazing people I have met. I was thrilled to be working on this farm and so happy to have met these people. There was a tonne of work to be done and nothing I could hope to see finished in my time there. Three tiers plus what remained of an old orchard area and all a complete mess. All the structures of this magnificent garden and much of what she had been just lay in slumber though, hidden under the brambles and nettles that it was my first experience of and the many other weeds and grasses we encountered and so I knick named it  “The Secret Garden” after one of my favourite books. The name caught on and so “The Secret Garden” it was.

 

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Third Tier. Polytunnel skeleton…. the old orchard lies beyond that.

 

 

There was a lot of work besides the gardens but that’s mainly where my time was spent. Of a night we drank, we ate very well (my first experience of venison), we laughed and slept. We tried not to go stir crazy when all of us got stuck inside the smallish cabin due to rain for loooong stretches of time. The others laughed at my zero knowledge of building a fire and my amazement of the use of coal in it .I live in Australia normally and I use reverse cycle airconditioning in winter when needed … just saying! It was also the first time I’ve actually seen coal. We compared customs and countries, met new people. Lots of fun.

 

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Next..

Life goal: Kiss the Blarney Stone.

 

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Let me say straight up I have a fear of small spaces and heights. It’s a mental game. I know it. Most of the situations I find terrifying … there is nothing probably even remotely scary in for most folks. Things that another human would think nothing of  and pose no real danger of any kind in real life … stop me in my tracks. If I want to something badly enough sometimes though I’ll attempt these things anyway. Sometimes but I don’t realise till I’m in the middle of it or it’s too late. For those reasons Blarney Castle and achieving this goal got real interesting there for a bit.

 

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In Budapest I nearly stranded myself on a mountain at night in the middle of winter (we’re talking minus double digit temperatures) because I got up there and then realised seeing over the side I was going to have a problem getting back down. Blarney Castle,  with it’s tiny high staircases and the actual Blarney Stone itself where you lay on your back hanging onto poles while a fabulous gentleman holds onto you so you don’t plunge to your death down the hole while suspended from the top level of the castle (exaggerated ! but that’s how it feels to someone with a fear of heights) posed some challenges. Let me say a big thank you to the photographer and the gentlemen who guides you to the Blarney Stone for their patience and kindness. It took me 15 minutes .. probably more … to work up the courage to do this as others came and kissed and went… all the while they chatted with me, encouraging me while I  watched others have a go.. or not.

 

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In the end I did achieve my goal spurred on by how many I saw who wouldn’t even attempt it, these 2 kind individuals and the fact that it was such a long way to go and then not accomplish what I had set out to do…. for bonus points I even got a hug from guiding gentleman afterwards. Bless! I’m sorry I didn’t ask your name. I was a little stressed and overwhelmed, this is my only defence. Photographer man was an ex merchant seamen who’d been to a million countries and also completely awesome. You rock!… sorry I didn’t ask your name either. Thank you to both of you for helping me achieve one of my life goals.

 

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Having achieved this, I went and explored the rest of the Blarney Castle grounds. Wishing Stairs. Druids circles. Waterfalls. Fields of Daffodils. It’s well worth a few hours to visit and explore. I loved it. If it interests you head to Cork. Blarney Castle is only about 8km’s from there and you can catch a bus. After a great day exploring I headed back to the Secret Garden and a few more weeks of digging, uncovering, mulching etc in between the frequent work stopping rainfall. Generally it was grotty, hard, very wet work but a couple of weeks in we could just start to see some of the possibilities coming to the surface. It was a good incentive to keep everyone going as there was still many weeks of work ahead.

 

It was a huge month for getting to tick off life goals. I met some great people and got my hands back in the soil again after more than 12 months out of any gardens I could work in. My hands, gloves and nails were shredded. My too long stagnant gardening muscles let me know how displeased they were with such a mammoth re-entry into gardening and I sailed into March happy that the last parts of this adventure involved retreats in the making, secret gardens and good company.

 

Big love. E x

 

 

 

 

 

January Wrap Up

January’s travel events from a spectators perspective couldn’t have been more boring. As I reported last month, January in Budapest was all about dental work which thankfully is mostly complete. From my personal point of view though January was actually quite big in the realisation and decision making categories if less so in the tourist and travel area.

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One of my 2017 goals from News Years was “BUILD”. Not literally as in bricks and mortar but the base of my life going forward. So financially, career, family and friends, health, home. All the aspects that make up your life. I want to take them to a new level. Changing directions where I needed to. Implementing or learning whatever that meant in various areas to make that happen. When I left home nearly 12months ago the plan was to travel for 12 months (if I didn’t hate it and everything went ok with the option to add a few more months up to 12 if money allowed and the desire to keep going was still there.) Then I would decide next moves. January was when I realised that my goals for 2017 would mean finishing up this travel episode at the 12+ month mark and ticking off that life goal as finalised in the not too distant future.

For me BUILDING needs to come from a stable base and I don’t have that while travelling. You’re on the move often. You can’t rent in a traditional sense – making a home, you never really unpack 20170214_154634and unless your job, business, income is online you’re not building your career obviously. Your long term friendships are back home and new ones often with fellow travellers and usually from different countries can be fleeting, apart from on social media. I ran some options in my head for not heading back, visa’s to stay in a different country longer term etc. What country. What options would that give me. To and fro with the for and against. What life goals did I have left that needed for me  to be overseas to  accomplish them, was I ready to head back – did I want to? What were some of the more tangible things I knew I wanted to do or aim at achieving this year and what would that involve. Not the easiest decision to make but within a week or so I decided that ultimately for me, at this point…. the best chance and most options I would have to achieve my aim for 2017 would be in my own Country.

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With the decision made it was actually a weight of my shoulders having a more solid plan than “continueing to travel” in place. I have had an absolute blast travelling and challenging myself in the last 12 months. Met so many great people. Mind blowingly interesting people, doing amazing, intriguing, outstanding, wonderful and or creative things. I have seen the most amazing sites and places and things. I have gotten to have experiences I could only have dreamed about previous to going abroad and challenged myself to do new things. It wasn’t all sunshine and roses and there was a couple of challenges but it was definitely the right decision for my life. It’s been a great break away from everything and absolutely the way to reset your life if you ever have that option. Now I’m excited for the next adventure. To have a purpose again. To see what I can create from here on in and although I haven’t booked the ticket yet I know that within a few months at most I’ll be heading back. There are a couple more things I’d like to do and then … a new start in a different city because it’s also time to move and that decision has also been made.

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My time in Budapest in between dental visits and decision making was spent doing some of my favourite things there. Walking the streets photographing the gorgeous buildings and various statues around the city, eating Isla, street markets and musicians, and visiting or revisiting some of the tourist sites. It also marked the closest I got to actually being out while it snowed. It wasn’t huge but I was thrilled non the less. It got cold enough for the Danube to start freezing which was a big deal and pictures of that went up around the world. The Russian  president Vladimir Putin visited the capital increasing security everywhere for a time. It warmed up just a bit and the snow and ice that had laid on the ground for weeks melted away so quickly you could hardly believe it had been there to start with. There one day almost gone the next. February I head into a new country and also will likely start to wrap up the last of this amazing adventure.

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Lastly..I had some inner turmoil moments over the Opera in Budapest. I dearly wanted to go to the Opera walked past it many days, but it’s one of the few things in life where I feel like it’s something you should do with someone else. Half the joy would be lost doing it by myself. So I passed on that *sigh* I think I’ll have to add dressing up and going to the Opera with someone to my life goals list. Or better yet someone taking me to the Opera… very Pretty Woman / Moonstruck. I know there’s other movie examples but my brains not  giving them to me at the moment. If you can think of them put them in the comments. Ahh such simple dreams and pleasures I have …

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Till next time. Big love E x

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.

Why I Blog

Honestly…

Multiple reasons. It’s like an on-line journal of some of the things I’m doing, done, thinking or thoughts I have for both myself and friends. The things I’m finding and discovering. The things I’m loving. It’s an efficient way to be a little more in depth with multiple people without spending hours on emails, social media, texting etc …. and a lovely way to remind myself what I was up to at various points of the trip/the project/ the  year. The things I was seeing and experiencing. I’m mapping and discovering or rediscovering the things I love. Learning personal limits.. both the ones I know and the ones I didn’t and trying to break the ones that are unhelpful. Pushing personal boundaries. Meeting interesting people. Thinking out loud. Learning new things and it’s a record of some of those things.

It also attempts to answer the question of how I’m doing this that I sometimes get from others. The thought processes that led to the decision to go travelling for such an extended period of time and the practicalities of organising that and making it happen. I can tell you the tools and processes I used and how to use them so you can put them to work for yourself.  I am also a bit too much type A and need to have a “thing” to do or accomplish sometimes and the blog allows me to do that also when I can’t just travel and chill.

I hope that the blog provides some enjoyment and fun for others and for the people who wanted to know how and why, some ideas in finding the time and resources  (whatever they might be) to design and live a life that feels good to them.  We all have different skill sets. Fun ways our squiggly little brains work. Things that come more naturally to us than others. Mine have been change management. Teaching and Training. People, Place and Process improvements. Simplifying and Organising. I have some pretty certificates I can hang on a wall around those qualifications but really I just find it fun and enjoy the challenge. I enjoy the process and I enjoy finding ways to teach and train people in a way they can absorb, learn, understand so they can put those things into practice for themselves. It’s my default mode and I love it. I also love learning new and better ways of doing things that I didn’t know about and incorporating and sharing those.

My daughter said to me once that I was a “Life Broker” i.e .. That I wanted everyone to have the life they wanted. Helping them wrangle how to get that. I laughed – but it is accurate. I’ve lost count of the times people have  shared their wishes, dreams, wants, desires and we’ve then sat down and worked out some steps they might consider to get there. Out come my cheer leader pom poms and I’m like “Sweet! So doable – Lets work this out” We are all both different and the same. Different things work for different people but no-one I’ve ever met has ever voiced a desire for a mediocre life filled with responsibility with just a little joy squeezed in there somewhere.  Every society, culture, family, community has set ideas about how you should be living your life. I think it’s important that we work that out for ourselves  and I talk about the tools, processes, the areas of life and home and thoughts I worked on or changed to do that for myself, for friends and in business scenario’s. Because you know  your life, is a business. You want it running at optimum levels giving you great returns.  When people do the work of creating the life they want for themselves… great things happen! For them, the people around the and others they come into contact with.

Zadie Smith said “Writing is my way of expressing – and thereby eliminating – all the various ways we can be wrong-headed.” There are various versions also of “I don’t know what I think till I think / see / write it .. I would add to that – sometimes I don’t realise what I know till I write or share it and so I write and share.

So blogging for me is a shared journal and conversation with both friends and people I may not ever meet face to face. A discussion of how to get what we want, dreams and desires we may have and the interesting things we are doing or want to do and how we are currently doing in life. It is a map of where I’ve been, where I want to go, things I’ve done. What I’m enjoying. What I’m not.  It allows me to feel like just maybe I’m contributing in some way to helping someone else achieve what they want. A little community I am setting up for myself and that I’d like to add value to. It’s where I hope some of what’s in my squiggly little brain can help others get or be able to reach what they want as well.

Come along for the ride and tell me all about you.

Always. E x

And, that’s a Wrap. December 2016

December I reluctantly finished up my time in Vienna and journeyed forth to Budapest for a week before heading to Paris to celebrate Christmas.  Each city seems to have it’s own charm and endearment…something I fall in love with and for me in Budapest that was their buildings. Lions and faces, statue’s, swirls and twirls, arches, windows and decorations of every imaginable kind. Old and discoloured, fading, crumbling and still you can see all of their magnificence while they wait patiently to be scrubbed clean or restored to their original glory. These beauties definitely warrant the time and energy and likely lots of money that would be involved in restoring them.

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I walked much of the city as usual and when it got too cold, worked out how to use the transport system which was not too difficult. Their old trains are delightful and along with above ground rail etc from my experience efficient. My two main wants while I was in Budapest was simply to try out the thermal baths (delightful, I actually fell asleep for a while) and to check out the ruins pubs. These are literally pubs that have been set up in the ruins of old buildings. Initially popular with the student crowds they have become a big draw with the tourists. I went to one of the more popular ones with a fellow traveller I met at the hostel. The combination of derelict building, odd and assorted decoration and staging, open air or tarped roofs, music and general atmosphere made for a fun night.

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Heroes Square with its kings and Archangel Gabriel up on the Column, Parliament, The Great Market hall, The Opera. Budapest like most cities has a couple of noteworthy churches of great beauty. With it being nearly Christmas the choir was practicing in one of them and for me that is the equivalent of snake charming. I would have been one of those kids that followed the Pied Piper and his beautiful music and so I whiled away much enjoyable time there just listening to the music and song. Definitely go and see what’s left of the old Royal Palace. Chain Bridge and the Lion Statues who guard it. Budapest has no lack of gorgeous sites. Gellert Hill with it’s Liberty Statue and the Citadel and fabulous views of the city also noteworthy.

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Hiccups along the way:

The night before I was due to fly to Paris. One of my teeth starting playing up in a big way. The hostel helped me find an English speaking Dentist and luckily they could fit me straight in. Problem solved and averted right. Wrong ! A couple of days later in Paris I realised …. we hadn’t found the problem and so the hunt was on again for not only an English speaking Dentist but one that could fit me in 2 days before Christmas. There was zero chance this could or would wait so long story short… December I added to my list of firsts along with my first set of stitches last month..my first root canal on Christmas eve. Can’t say I’m a fan of those either really.  After spending the better park of a week in Budapest and Paris messing around fixing my teeth and finding out what work was needed to completely fix the issue I was completely thrilled as December 25th rolled around thankfully mostly pain free now and I ticked off another life goal.

Life Goal tick off:

Christmas in Paris. Christmas Day in Paris dawned and I was beyond excited to be in Paris and getting to tick this off. I had a slow breakfast and then after lunch walked Paris into the evening checking out the decorations and lights I hadn’t had the chance to do up till then and…. it was divine. The animated Christmas windows of Galleries Lafayette. The Champs Elyse. The Christmas Markets. The River and the Eiffel Tower. The Arc de Triomphe. King George the fifth,  one of my favourite streets in Paris.. home to amongst other places the Crazy Horse and some of the most outstanding hotels of excellence. I had discovered this Street back in March when I had gone to see Dita Von Teese’s Burlesque show as my late birthday present to myself and fallen in love with it immediately.

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The Louvre was back on the agenda again this trip to see a bit more of that wondrous place. It’s been estimated that if you spent 100 days and looked at each piece of art for just 30 seconds you could see all of the Louvre. Sounds about right if not veering towards the slightly optimistic. It really is a wonderland of awe and joy. The Catacombs on what used to be the outskirts of Paris was another treasure I got to in Paris this time. With over 6 million bones it’s sheer size is mind boggling. The catacombs started with the relocation of the Cemetery of the Innocents which had after hundreds of years in use become a serious health risk and cause of infection to the people of the area directly surrounding it. Food and beverages went off within hours, disease etc and to avoid the living joining the the party at the Cemetery of the Innocents earlier than they’d like the cemetery was closed. Relocation began a little later very respectfully always at night preceded by priests in surplices singing the service for the dead along the route taken by the carts loaded with bones, which were covered by a black veil.  When the Cemetery of the Innocents had been cleared the Ossuary as it is more correctly called continued to take the bones of other central Paris cemeteries’  for nearly 30 years. Housed in acres of disused lime quarries under the city that had to be reinforced and mapped due to their occasional collapse and consequent caving in of streets above it solved a couple of issues at once.  The Catacombs has seen visits from Kings, Emperors..Napolean and his son took a look. It has played host to an orchestral concert which fittingly played to an audience of over a hundred people such tunes as  Chopin’s Funeral March and the Danse Macabre by Camille Saint-Saens. Centuries of fascinating history well worth a look.

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January will be slow .. with no sight seeing planned but plenty of dental work to look forward to as it turns out (absolutely read that in the most sarcastic voice you have) Economics dictated that instead of heading where I had planned next –  it was back to Budapest which it turns out has a roaring trade in foreigners dental work. Who knew. I was told that in passing conversation last time I was there never for a second thinking the information was gold I would soon be mining. It’s winter in Europe and while friends and family sweat it out back home in ridiculous temperatures I am thrilled beyond telling with these cooler climate places. Having been born and lived in Australia all my life and never having much of a tolerance for cold, I couldn’t be more surprised if someone punched me in the face at loving being in these cold places. To be fair though about as cold as it’s gotten is -7 quite mild compared to some places and everywhere is heated so it’s only when your outside that you’re really subjected to it. Rug up and don’t walk around outside for hours on end and you’re good really.

So that was it for December. New Years came and went… some plans were  made., goals were thought about and then it was time to jump a flight back to beautiful Budapest.

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Blogging Old School Egyptian style. (aka: “The Scribe” Louvre Paris)

Roll on January…

E x

Currently – November 2016

November had me finishing up my time in Croatia. Ticking off one of my life goals. Cutting the top of my pinky finger nearly right off and moving on to Vienna Austria. It was a big month.

Life Goal Ticked Off:  Fruit Picking.

Olive Harvest in Croatia starts around the end of October / early November and I was thrilled to be able to be part of it. We scrambled up mountains and climbed trees and decades old rock walls to nab every olive possible. That it was a family owned organically run crop made me even happier [caveat: they do use commercial fertilizer] Unfortunately it had not been a good year for a couple of reasons one of which included not enough rain earlier in the season.  So we were done in 3 days and the yield was the smallest one the owner remembers the family ever having. [60 litres] I didn’t get the tally on how many kilo’s of fruit that came from but a lot. The previous years had been 350 litres of oil and that was not overly large. It all gets carried down to a community processer which for us was in little town called Brusje [not far from the fields and the place of the original family home] where they also process the oil from the Lavender crop. We handed over your fruit and hour later they handed over your oil. We got to see the process at work and it’s brilliant. Also showing the abilities within communities without out sourcing. Keeping it local which I loved.

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Hiccups along the way:

With Olive harvest done. One of my life goals ticked off with gratitude and thanks for the opportunity. I was off to explore a little more of Croatia AND promptly forgot my pin number to my banking and sat in place for a week sorting that out with the bank. List that under travel adventures right! Luckily I was still with my olive family when that happened. Sorted. Time to go and then deciding to have a delicious breakfast of eggs and hard cheese.. I cut the top of my finger off nearly all the way through. New knife. Hard Cheese. It slipped. Trip to the hospital and my first ever set of stitches. It didn’t go well, surgery was on the cards. I’ll spare you the photos.. It was not a fun time . A week later I had to go and so it was good bye to Croatia and I headed straight to Vienna finger strapped follow up instructions in hand hoping one of the things I got to do there wasn’t going to be trying out their hospital system . Alas I didn’t get to see some of the lovely places I still wanted in Croatia. Good reason to go back though right. Vienna though ..Oh.

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Back on the Road:

Vienna has been my favourite city so far. I am here in the Winter so everything is bare and cold and looks dead and still I have been completely delighted and enchanted by this beautiful city. The buildings and gardens, palaces, churches, monuments and parks. Look up – the buildings are gorgeous works of art themselves. Their train system is marvellous, simple and efficient and I used it constantly and easily which is really saying something. If I can use this system easily… anyone can. The United Nations has one of it’s homes here and they run tours which are worth the visit. Schonnbrunn Palace, Hofburg, Belvedere .. go and see them all if you get a chance. You won’t be sorry. Trip right into the city visit the shops, see the Museum Quarter which is fabulous. Try the pastries and the warm punch and wine. Prater Park is where you want to head if you like carnivals, rides and fun parks.  My experience of the people of Vienna is that they are friendly and helpful. Oh Vienna how I love thee. I would definitely have snuggled in and spent Christmas here if other plans were not already in place. Luckily I got to see this gorgeous lady all decked out for Christmas AND between mid November and Christmas Vienna has “Christkindlmarkt” The Christmas markets. Ice Skating … and the ring is enormous. Food. Gifts. Music. Souvenirs an Amazing Christmas Tree. If you’re here at that time you should check it out.

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November drew to an end and it was time to start preparing for Christmas and new adventures.

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E x

PS: You can follow along on Instagram if you’d like to see what I’m up to, what I’m seeing, thinking and doing more regularly.

 

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.