A story about falling and its lessons

A story about falling and its lessons
"What you can plan is too small for you to live." — David Whyte

For the last six weeks I have danced with an illness that has required me to pull back from boxing, social activities and even walking. I have walked only 10 to 12 kilometres once each when I planned to be walking significantly more by now. Sometimes even this was too far and I had to pull back into rest and stillness. It felt like one step forward, one step back.

Then on Sunday, in one single moment, every thing changed. Unexpectedly, I took a giant step back into a stepless place.

I just finished writing my newsletter, put my computer aside then stood to walk upstairs to fetch my sheets to launder when disaster stuck. The toes of my sleepy left foot curled under and the full weight of my body came down hard on the top of my foot that was touching the ground where the sole should have been. Pain roared instantly and I knew that my foot was badly injured — that it could even be broken.

Standing on my right leg only, I pulled off my ugg boot, looked at my left foot and gasped in horror. On top of my foot was a huge, dark lump, the size of a small chicken egg getting larger by the second. I needed to ice it and elevate it immediately.

I managed to hop to the freezer to grab an ice pack, hop to the bench to grab the phone then hop over to the couch and raise my foot up above my heart. Then the shock kicked in. I phoned friends for help, sobbing that I’d done something really bad to my foot, rang the after hours medical clinic for an appointment so I could avoid spending hours waiting in emergency at a hospital, then lay on the couch shivering from the shock as I waited for my friend Tracy to arrive.

As I waited, I wondered how this would impact my pilgrimage: would it be better if it were broken or just soft tissue damage i.e. which would heal more quickly? Will it heal in time to walk in September? What if it doesn’t heal in time? How would I feel if I had to postpone the pilgrimage?

Read More

What are the possibilities?

What are the possibilities?
"If you believe it will work out, you’ll see opportunities. If you believe it won’t, you will see obstacles." — Wayne Dyer

Since early November, I have been exploring the way I might walk from Rome to Jerusalem. Whilst I’m not planning an exact daily route — that will take care of itself when I start walking — I just want a reasonably accurate estimate of how many days it might take me to walk the whole way to know if what I am planning is feasible, especially for the European Schengen countries where I am restricted to staying 90 days stay in a 6-month period.

I have been feeling very excited about the possibility of starting my pilgrimage from my dear friend Ina’s house who lives near Augsburg, Germany and following the Via Romea Germancia to Rome then continuing to Jerusalem as originally planned. It sounded great in theory until I started getting into the detail and asking questions then I hit major roadblocks.

Read More

The long or short of it: which way would you walk?

The long or short of it: which way would you walk?
"Map out your future – but do it in pencil. The road ahead is as long as you make it. Make it worth the trip." — Jon Bon Jovi

Last week a fellow pilgrim referred me to this blog written by an American lady by the name of Ann who walked from Santiago de Compostela to Jerusalem via Northern Africa in 2011/12. Ann has walked around 8 pilgrim routes with her longest journey being 11 months. She walks less known routes like the southern roads to Mexico and the Way of Saint Andrew from the Ukraine to Patras in Greece - routes I have never heard of.

What is really incredible about her is how she walks:

  • Alone;
  • Without money - or a phone - or GPS;
  • Using maps she finds along the way and asking locals for directions;
  • Carrying only 8 kilograms on her back;
  • And a marathon almost every day!

 Her stories and her way of walking captivated me so I read all of her blog over the last week and it has given me a lot to consider:

  • How do I choose to walk this time? 
  • What boundaries within myself can I challenge? 
  • What can I embrace? 
  • What can I let go of? 
  • What are the possibilities?
Read More

The Way of Peace and how to find your own

The Way of Peace and how to find your own
"When you live on a round planet, there’s no choosing sides." — Wayne Dyer

This morning as I walked into the office, the newspapers lying on the coffee table in our client waiting area jumped out at me:

Terror! The headlines were huge and bold. Terror was the word being used to draw in readers and sell newspapers.

And it is true. There are people in this world doing terrible things and creating terror. There are wars and murders and atrocities being committed everyday. I don’t deny that.

But I don’t buy the news and I still believe that the goodness of humankind can outweigh the ugly and the bad.

Last year as I walked the Via Francigena, I became acutely aware of the “stranger danger” programming I learned as a child. Whenever strangers approached me, my first reaction was fear, wondering if I could trust them or if they intended me harm. What I experienced was kindness and curiosity; people only ever wanted to talk to me, to offer me coffee or a meal or the use of their bathroom.

Read More

365 days: an anniversary and a countdown

365 days: an anniversary and a countdown
"I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in." — John Muir

365 days ago,  I arrived in Canterbury to take my first steps along the Via Francigena to Rome, unsure of what lay ahead and if I would be able to make it to Rome within the 90-day visa period but knowing I had to try.

Every morning for 77 day I got up, stiff and crippled by pain until my body relaxed, then packed and set off in wonder of the unknown world to find my way to the next town.

I knew what I was doing - walking to Rome, but it still felt surreal. In some ways it was as simple as taking step after step, day after day, until eventually I found myself in Rome.

That’s life isn’t it? We get up each day and do the best we can and then one day we arrive at the end of our lives.

When I first thought of really, actually going and walking the route alone, I had a lot of fearful thoughts giving me every reason why I shouldn’t go: I had never walked a pilgrimage trail before. I wasn’t a hiker. I hadn’t planned on doing it now. It was just a dream in a maybe never physically actually doing it kind of way. I hadn’t saved for it. My savings would have to drop way below my comfort level to fund it. I had no idea what I was doing.

Read More