Hello and welcome. I'm Kym...
I am a counsellor, coach and writer currently based in Melbourne, Australia.
My work is to empower you to listen to and trust your own inner wisdom, connect with your deep essential nature, and to support you on your unique path of awakening.
In 2013, I walked 2,022 kilometres following the ancient pilgrimage route Via Francigena from Canterbury to Rome. It took me 85 days to complete including 7 rest days. It was the one of hardest and most beautiful journeys I have ever undertaken that challenged me physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
- alone for 76 days
- through 4 countries—England, France, Switzerland and Italy
- across 2 mountain ranges—the Alps and the Apennines
- on bitumen, concrete, gravel, grass and too much sticky clay mud
- through too many streams
- on busy motorways with semi-trailer trucks passing within inches
- in scorching sun and pouring rain, whipped by wind, shivering and mesmerised in snowfall and through thunderstorms with lightning flashing all around me
- into Saint Peter's Square with Peter and Paul just like the apostles.
I wasn't always interested in walking long distances. In fact, one of my employers once asked me to join their team walking 50 kilometres in a day to raise money for charity. I told them I wasn't interested in walking that far ever! You know what they say...never say never!
So how did I end up walking this little known pilgrimage path? And why?
Nine years ago I experienced a dark night of the soul as the 'perfect' life I had created unraveled around me.
I was an executive manager with fantastic income and career potential, in a long-term relationship with a guy I loved and admired, living in a trendy Melbourne suburb immersed in café and bar culture, holidaying in tropical destinations.
Yet I became increasingly depressed and cried every day. I fell into a deep despair wondering if this is all there is to life and if this how I would feel for the rest of my life?
It was a painful but beautiful invitation to awaken.
At first I was reluctant to reach out for help. I was scared, ashamed and embarrassed. I thought I was lacking gratitude for the life I had. But one day, after another session of uncontrollable sobbing, I decided that I couldn’t live like this any longer and finally made an appointment with a counselor.
Safely held, I entered into a conscious relationship with my suffering and began to see the truth of my situation, including the choices I had made. My relationship was dying. I had defaulted into the ‘safe’ path of management instead of working directly with the people I wanted to serve. I was highly stressed and didn’t enjoy my work as much as I claimed I did. I still carried huge amounts of grief for my mother complicated by the narcissistic and abusive nature of our relationship. And I was alone because I had isolated myself from friends and family to hide my brokenness.
From this place of awareness and compassion for myself, everything began to change.
I began to ask myself what I really wanted for my life, specifically...
What do I want to do with my life that will bring me alive everyday using my unique gifts to make a difference in the world?
I asked the question again and again and again and began to listen to the quiet and wise inner voice within me that I had been ignoring. I paid attention to what flirted with me in the world, what fired me up with excitement, fear and joy, as well as inner movements away from and towards something.
Eventually I ended my relationship then quit my job for the uncertainty of contracting. I packed up my life and followed a ‘crazy’ urge to travel to South East Asia for a year to follow my love of scuba diving, to travel and be free for a while.
That year was the beginning of my life of pilgrimage. That year changed the course of my life.
I wandered all over South East Asia. I scuba dived with manta rays, turtles, reef sharks, mola mola and whale sharks. I trained as a PADI divemaster and open water scuba instructor. Watching sunsets became my religion...
I fell in love with the earth. I rediscovered wonder in the beauty around me and the freedom of following my heart.
For a few years I split my time between Thailand and contracting in financial planning back in Melbourne. I missed spending time in nature so I began to walk to and from work every day.
One summer, my then boyfriend invited me to his home in Italy. I had a week to myself before I met up with him so I explored different options to spend that time including visiting Cinque Terre, walking a part of the Camino de Santiago now that I loved walking or visiting the hilltop towns of Tuscany.
When investigating the Camino as an option, I stumbled across an ad for the Via Francigena and discovered it was an important route for pilgrims who used it to visit the Pope and the tombs of the apostles Peter and Paul and it passed through Tuscany. I found a section that could be walked in 7 days from San Miniato to San Qurico d’Orcia that passed through San Gimignano, Monteriggioni and Siena—three of the Tuscan towns I wanted to visit.
My mind told me I was crazy—I had never walked long distance before but I sat with the idea for a week and when I still felt excited about it I decided to book.
I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I was only a city walker. I got lost—a lot. I cried—a lot. Yet I loved the experience of walking out into the unknown every day, finding my own slow way through a foreign landscape, and being connected to the earth by the soles of my feet.
Although I quit a day early due to swollen feet and injured toes as a result of wearing trail runners that were too small, I felt this joyful tugging excitement inside of me. A call. I knew that I wanted to walk the whole trail ‘one day.’
'One day' came unexpectedly two years later when I was made redundant from a part-time financial planning job I had taken to pay the bills whilst I wrote my first book and figured out what I was going to do next. After two weeks of wondering what I was going to do I decided to listen to my heart and follow its longing to walk the whole Via Francigena because if not now, when?
I knew it would also be the perfect opportunity to finally answer my question: what do I want to do with my life that will bring me alive every day using my unique gifts to make a difference in the world?
Ten weeks later, I was in Canterbury, England taking my first steps on the ancient route. 85 days after I departed Canterbury, I arrived in Rome with the answer to my question:
I want to empower you to listen to and trust your own inner wisdom, connect with your deep essential nature, and support you on your path of awakening because the world needs us all to awaken and come alive and for us to support each other through the process.
I offer this support through my counselling practice and my writing. I write about my personal story of awakening as I navigate the twist and turns, and highs and lows of my own evolving and healing path that I share on my blog and newsletter. Whilst our life’s journeys may be very different, my hope is that some part of my story resonates with you, that it helps you feel connected and less alone, that it opens a door for your own exploration or healing and encourages you to take a step towards or through it.
Want to know more?
I wrote my book, The Path We Make, about my personal story of healing and seeking inner wisdom as I walked the Via Francigena with the intention that it may support and inspire your own inner or outer journey. It is due to be released in 2018.
For updates on its progress and release dates, sign up for my newsletters. You will also get a copy of my ebook, Finding Your Way: photos and wisdom to guide you onto your own authentic path.
Wishing you much courage on your path.
PS This is me just after I walked into Saint Peter's Square (very sick with a bad flu).
PPS Sometimes, I still can't believe I really walked all that way.
A few more things about me...
- I write in purple ink in purple journals
- I love café lattes, aperol spritz, dark chocolate and juicy ripe apricots
- I prefer to watch a sunset or clouds in the sky rather than television
- Occasionally I like to indulge in an episode of reality TV: human behaviour is fascinating
- I love the poems of David Whyte, Mary Oliver and Rumi as translated by Coleman Barks
- My favourite teachers include Matt Licata, Matt Kahn, Chameli Adagh and my beloved mentor, Myree Morsi
- I enjoy intuitive drawing with soft pastels and listening to silence
- My current favourite band is Coldplay
- My most amazing scuba diving experience was with a school of hammerhead sharks in the Bandas Sea
- I am never satisfied on the surface of the ocean or life—I always want to dive below.