Create your own magic

Dia dhuit,

As the days become shorter and the air crisper there is a new constant in my days. Di luna. Yes, her majesty – the moon. (ps the clip above provides a good background sound to this post). Now I don’t profess to know much about the moon I rely on others to tell me where she is, what she’s doing and what that means for me. But, I do know this – if you’re looking for something magical to happen in your life you could start there. Start with the moon. Dance in her light. Charge with her energy.

Di Luna, she is there when I wake and long before I go to sleep at night as we move into the darker months here. Her lunar phases unfolding before my eyes week by week as I cycle my children to their evening sport practice. Soon we will also be riding to school under the light of the moon.

The moon – something we can take for granted in our increasingly noisy, blamey, scared entitled plastic world. Glory we can forget to notice … and yet I think we are screaming for the kind of magic the moon gives us. There’s something mystical and soothing about being in the presence of the moon. Wiser, greater and more precious than anything the mall or the memes can sell us. Peace. She can of course be a bit scary in all her glory … asking us to stand honestly in her presence. Honesty isn’t always easy amongst rush, noise and plastic. Unsure? Let the moon guide you – that’s where you’ll find wild adventure and an escape or break from fake. Keep it wild from where we stand 101 friends.

Both the moon and a special moon (knowing) friend have been orbiting in my world the past few years, (there’s a pun for the week for you Annette) and I believe they have been slowly giving me clues to help find magic. A deep magic. As much as I love Harry Potter I know we can’t really shake a wand and make something happen … we need to be a part of making it happen.

Isn’t it wonderful though to be able to drift into fantasy. Fantasy reminds us of the value of magic. Perhaps indulging in fantasy takes us closer to our reality? Perhaps there is more of a fine line between the two than we realise? Magic happens when we bravely step into life seeking to believe there is meaning beyond the rush, noise and the plastic.

I truly believe we can learn about life and ourselves in the company of the moon (all nature really but I’m currently in a moon phase). Along the camino, particularly my last one in September I walked most mornings under the moonlight. It taught me a lot about fear and as scary as it was it was also exhilarating.

This week I took myself out running and misjudged the sunset. Again, I found myself alone in the moonlight. We live in a world where solace is not often sought amongst the seasons nor the elements. We seek only to be comfortable and to control them. And yet every time I loosen my grip, trust what’s uncomfortable and unknown and step into solitude in nature I begin to uncover more of what’s true.

During my run I discovered where the my magic will come from this winter. I’ll be making my own illuminated by the moonlight . Perhaps she’ll help me refine those wild truths my old friend, the courageously daring feeling wind shook up these past few winters.

Ag siúl go maith,

Fran x

PS My first half marathon starts at midnight – yep it’s a night run, ironic that!

Off and running.

It’s not a long one today just a newsy one. Every now and then in the world of blogging we can lose our way with our story. The one we started telling/writing. Sometimes it is because our purpose changes. Other times it’s because we lose our nerve or our mojo and sometimes it’s simply because we grow away from the page. These past weeks I’ve stepped into all of these buckets. Wondering where I am on this page, am I stepping into a sharing space I didn’t intend to and in turn I’ve had to consider what am I actually doing (contributing) here.

It holds a lot of meaning for me – this space. It kept me grounded as we faced the many challenges of settling in a new country after travelling. It has been a space that brought such kindness and joy to my days as my Camino for One Girl happened. I found such pleasure writing from along ‘the way’.  I loved every aspect of the camino and I look forward to bringing next year’s One Girl project to life here. I am sure there will be much to learn and hopefully some incredible stories to share as I run my way through twelve cities and twelve half marathons. I know. I really and truly am nuts.

Sometimes my blogs venture away from their initial purpose and that is ok, that’s good stuff. It means I’ve grown from where I started. Lately I’ve been trying to make sense of how I do this new level of my life. Damn these levels … demanding more of me. Anyways I’ve been sitting out making any decisions by testing a few thoughts, challenging a few practices and adjusting myself towards what seems to feel right. Friends have had massive what’s ap. ponderings dropped on them. Sorry. I went paddling last week in search of a feeling and I’ve spent some time following a curiosity inspired rabbit hole of reading. I even listened to a few podcasts. Conversations with Richard Fidler. Love them. Must listen to more.

I have set myself on a new course and yes I do still want to write here. Indeed I do. I am committed to my charity work for One Girl and there are those twelve half marathons to run next year. Excited? Gosh I am. And nuts for shizzle … it is hurting a lot. I have had to find myself a Chinese Medicine practitioner to get back into cupping and acupuncture, start Pilates and my diet is also requesting a make over.

Sore legs aside I am excited about getting stronger and completing this 2019 #doitinadress challenge. I’ve chosen my first run – it’s a cracker (won’t share yet until I can be sure I can run early in the month). Adventure is an amazing catalyst for changing the world and ourselves. I’ve decided that while I am passionate about many things this is my thing I can do. This is what I want to talk about. So yeah this site will continue to advocate for those daughters of the mothers who need me to stand for them. And women’s travel and adventure well that’s my jam.

My charity work is part of a bigger story and this site was never set up to house that. No website is, it keeps growing. So now seems like a good time to jump up a level and address the edge of my comfort zone, the edge I seem to be so bloody attracted to. What is my comfort zone demanding of me? I’m going to be addressing that over at a new site:

Frances Antonia

Some of you may want to come on that ride if you’re into the musings, the photography and the local stories. It will be another creative journey but the focus will be different.

This page will still be here and if this is more your thing hang here with me as we grow this One Girl story. Either way we are good.

Aaah it’s good to be walking forward friends,

Buen Camino,

Fran xx

Jump aboard if you dare.

Hola Amigo,

I wrote a deep and long winded post this morning. One with lots of layers and words … and it took me hours, my whole morning. The kind of post that tends to be relatable because many of us share similar feelings. But it didn’t feel great writing it and I’m not going to post it. I realised I was actually writing myself an excuse piece. I was telling a story about how I felt about recent situations that have annoyed me. (I used the phrase ‘wounded by words’ in the piece). I was basically blaming rather than facing.

Basically I was blaming the fact that I don’t feel comfortable around a lot of people and it’s in the facing of truth that we find our way past an obstacle. Often the obstacle is staring back at us, you know the person we see in the mirror. That is where the story is.

The reason I write and share, my purpose, has always been to write myself forward and to connect. It’s a kind of reaching for what I need. Perhaps you do it too or maybe you’re into mood boards it’s basically the same, it’s manifesting. So instead of feeling wounded by situations, what’s really bothering me.

It turns out it’s me. Of course, hello mirror. I’m annoying myself. I am the one who is walking into situations and conversations that aren’t me, not away from them. I’m the one who is struggling with motivation and I’m the one who is walking the tightrope between where I want to be and where I am. Eeer I know the view will be breathtaking … when I stop tripping myself up.

Now I have a choice. I can tell myself the same story and find some comfort in projecting the shit that annoys me OR I can tell myself the truth.

JUMP ABOARD IF YOU DARE

Truth.

Always.

It’s how we grow.

Unpack the story.

Be honest.

Deeper.

It’s closer than you think.

What is hard?

Motivation is hard.

Discipline is hard.

Saying no can be hard.

Conflict is hard.

Body changes are hard.

Feeling lonely amongst people is hard.

You know you have this.

It’s within your grasp, if you dare.

Already, you have a plan.

So begin.

Unravel.

Have a bath, drink a litre of water while you’re in there and put on a mud mask. Hormonal face – I’ll soothe you.

Great.

Feels better already.

Decide to write this story (in said bath).

It’s true your hormones are changing.

Age happens.

Transition.

So you NEED to change.

Time to get on a new ride.

The alcohol has gone perhaps it’s time for the coffee too?

Yes, your adrenals need nurturing.

It’s your soul that needs the fire.

It always has.

Share it with your secret keeper.

Make a commitment to yourself.

Recognise how clever you are.

(Going for a massage your first thought would be have amazing but so is a warm bath and a face mask and it’s basically free.)

Excellent.

Now you’re being kind to yourself.

It’s the best place to start.

It’s always about small steps.

Start where you are.

Make one list.

We’ve arrived at the destination.

Now for the transition.

There are new goals ahead for you.

You have already thrown out the anchors.

It’s your turn now.

You are allowed to take up space.

Choose some non-negotiable’s for a week.

Start there.

– When you’re wounded by small talk write a deep long letter to a soul sister and send it. You’ll realise all the things you really want to talk about and say.

– Exercise each day. Endorphins matter. Nature holds the answers for you.

– The coffee, you know it’s got to go. Trust yourself.

– Water, yes more. Two litres minimum a day. 

– Write when you need to reach, write when you have something to say. Write when you need to find the door. Write to offer a door. It’s always your way home.

– Choose wisely who you confide in … they will either ride with you or be the ones who weigh you down.

That’s enough.

It’s time to move.

Change is happening.

Stay close.

Scramble on the ride.

Don’t miss the call.

Now excuse me dear friends, I must go for a walk amongst autumn.

Buen Camino,

Fran x

This is the Greatest show. My life. My book.

Hola Amigos,

‘It seems to me that January resolutions are about will; September resolutions are about authentic wants. What do you want more or less in your life … it could be as simple as seeing friends more often, setting aside time to have adventures with your children while they still want your companionship … calling a solitary hour a day you own … September resolutions ask only that we be open to positive change …’ Sarah Ban Breathnach.

My friend Louise posted this quote last week and it’s had me pondering. I wonder if it is something many of us have been feeling? I can certainly relate. I been swimming in the wilderness of knowing things are moving, changing … I just had to find which paths I want to walk along. September is the new school year. It’s the refreshing  beginning after the long Summer break. I see it also in my friends in the southern hemisphere, this reaching, yearning to begin. Perhaps it’s the spring bringing the desire to you lot.

Today I literally felt myself break free from the September cocoon. I was out running and all of a sudden I picked up speed, I sang louder, I ran into friends along the trail (we shared some exciting news – friends along your path in the woods … significant of course). And, as I sprinted past the crossroads in the above shot I knew I’d stepped through something magical. I’m ready to come in from the wild. A decision we have been allowing to resolve itself did so this week and I can see the road ahead. Perhaps this is what transformation feels like. Clarity. Comfort in the unknown. Trust. Patience. Strength. Promise.

‘ … Where the runaways are running the night 

Impossible comes true, it’s taking over you

Oh, this is the greatest show

We light it up, we won’t come down

And the walls can’t stop us now

I’m watching it come true, it’s taking over you

Oh, this is the greatest show

‘Cause everything you want is right in front of you
And you see the impossible is coming true

 

And the walls can’t stop us (now) now, yeah

 

This is the greatest show (oh!)’

 

~ Lyrics from The Greatest Show – The Greatest Showman.

Authentic wants? Yes Louise I have a few. I’ve been toggling with the desire to want to plant roots. Deep down we both knew we wanted to stay here and yet we were struggling with the feeling that we’d  given up security. It’s more than simply unpacking when you land in a new country. Especially when you make the move of your own accord for an adventure and the idea that maybe there’s something different for your family. Has it been an adventure? Yes you know it has. Is it a better fit? I honestly have to say yes. I absolutely adore the life my kids have, each of them thriving. That is not to say they wouldn’t thrive back in Aussie, of course they would. But there is a lot about the lifestyle here that is in sync with our parenting styles and values. It is in sync with us … we feel the European life.

These past weeks amongst the reflection there have been more walks with friends (some new arrivals), some deep conversations, some just plain funny ones, coffee there’s been a lot (maybe too much), there have been people popping in and out on their bikes to drop off and pick up kids, a beautiful nine year old’s birthday party, a visit from my hero my mum, kids playing football, there have been job applications, shopping at the market, growing of micro greens, yoga, endorphins, there’s a starter growing on my bench and some dreaming of what might be possible. And there’s been a lot of listening to the soundtrack of The Greatest Showman! Some people listen to podcasts, me – ALWAYS and pretty much only music.

My greatest authentic want for September was to surrender into the uncertainty of what we (I) should do or be. Stay and build a life, write a book, disappear from this space or consider if the adventure here is up. Deep down we knew what we wanted to do … we just had to find a way to trust that we’d be ok and take steps towards that path. And perhaps we had to let go of what we ‘perceived’ would provide more security. I’m not going to lie it’s difficult to step in the path of surrendering, you have to look as what scares you, challenge your perspectives and  get a whole lot real with yourself. I mean SHIT who loves looking in the mirror? Who loves making big decisions. Who loves doubting themselves and digging into where that comes from? Gross. Of course some shifts come easier than others but the ones that require us to let go, they are hard … even when we’re barely holding on to them … the final flick is tough. And the sitting out what you can only solve with time and patience – also bloody tough.

Along this run while marching to the beat of my drum I knew today that this is it – The Greatest Show. My life. It’s also my book. I don’t need to be anymore than what I am and what the path offers me – it’s all here, I just need continue to grow with it, notice and wait. Timing, it always arrives. I don’t even need to write a book because look at my life – I am living a book. Maybe that’s me finding an excuse or maybe it’s me realising it’s not time. My dreams haven’t changed. They’ve always been to stay in a chapter as long as it’s where I need to be. To take what matters forward and to know what to shed. We need to be here for our kids and also for us. With budding teenagers the feeling that stability matters more is strong. And I feel more at home with each of the layers I continue to be able add to my life here. I mean look at that I can run amongst farms, next best thing to having a farm!

I’m not that different to the woman, mother, wife and friend who left Sydney. And those of you who know that and share that continue to remain such a meaningful constant in my sphere, I love you for getting my ‘weirdness’ and need to ‘feel’. We have to keep saying that to each other that we feel different in our world (when we do). I have had this conversation with four women this week.  It is OK not to feel that we do or even to want to fit in and share it with each other. I yearn to continue to live a life that is created with simplicity and of course always with a hint of wild adventure.

Naturally to honour a transformation we must shed. Along the way I’ve collected some layers that cause me some angst, those have to go. I know what they are. They became clear when I emerged from the cocoon,  if I’m honest they’ve been circling in the past weeks. I need to peel away a few ideas and habits I hold onto about ‘what I may be, could have been or need’. I’m tired of doubt. Doing that now. Action after reflection. Boom.

Oh and I had this idea (testing the waters here) … you know when I decided to hike the camino for One Girl how I had the idea and without further thought I ran with it. I jumped. Sheesh had it not have been for One Girl I may not have gone ahead with it. Thankfully One Girl was an anchor that was bigger than my fears. My hike did so much for the girls in Africa and so much for me. I want to make sure those 28 girls go to school again next year. Today I ran with vigour (that may not last I’m in my 40’s ;) but I loved it. I need to sweat out some toxins. I realised on my last camino, walking hard in the heat.  And so it became to me as another runner passed by … next year I’ll run a 1/2 marathon a month in different cities around Europe. YES I’ll do that AND I’ll do all of them in a dress. I can manage that around my family and life. My little ones can cycle while I train and run. Win win. I won’t need anything either. I have what I need and I’ll simply build on my foundations from last year (taking what I learnt forward).

This butterfly is ready to fly, and sage the house (watch this space for some magic that landed in my letterbox from Bendigo) hello October.

Buen Camino,

Fran xx

‘I saw the sun begin to dim
And felt that winter wind
Blow cold
A (wo)man learns who is there for her
When the glitter fades and the walls won’t hold
‘Cause from then, rubble
One remains
Can only be what’s true
If all was lost
Is more I gain
‘Cause it led me back
To you …
 And we will come back home
And we will come back home
Home, again!’

~ Lyrics from Comeback home – The Greatest Showman

A million dreams (and a million little steps) is all it’s gonna take.

Hola,

Last night I spent some time reading a camino forum. I was interested in reading about other people’s experiences and what they were writing and thinking about beyond the camino. I found a great camino story written from the road.  (Thanks Jeanne for sharing, I love a story with such beautiful reflection.) 

All that reading didn’t have me pining for the camino. No, I’m not lusting for another camino experience. It actually led me back here to this space. I’ve been quiet online recently. I’m not sure what I want to say, I’m still not. If it’s not flowing I hold off from posting or chatting. I’ve never felt the need to keep ‘busy’ attending to rules of regular posting, replying and responding to everything. Man imagine responding to every message that hit our inbox’s (email, socials, chat groups) no it’s far better to let go of the need to spread out everywhere.

Today I read your comments after my last camino post and they opened a new door for me. All of them and especially this one  …

‘Your commitment to live well beyond yourself and deeply within yourself inspires me.’ Annette of I Give You the Verbs.

I’m doing that thing where I find my way home and forward you see. I create space to observe and feel. For whatever reason I felt the need to dive into camino forums, to find some words or writing to give me a hint, to nudge me forward. I found Jeanne’s story and started to realise how much I missed the joy of words. Words have the incredible ability to create connections with each other and ourselves. When we use them wisely they have so much power. Power that can shift, challenge, open, propel and soothe us. Everything I needed was in your comments. Everything. Thank you for your kindness.

These past weeks I have been swimming in the unknown. It’s not a scary place, it’s actually a relaxed place when you surrender into it.  It’s a reflective space. It something my soul needs. In this ‘time’ I consider the things that feel right (connections, actions and commitments). I observe where I am and start to listen to the questions that are niggling. With space comes a willingness to be open and window that allows me to see my responses and reactions in a new light. I learn a great deal about where I am and where I’m going when I commit to this space. This kind of ‘quiet’ hustle free time-out to feel is a gift I regularly give myself. It’s kind of easy to do on account of being a ‘proud’ introvert.

Perhaps it’s the coming of the Equinox? Likely it has something to do with the end of the year long hike for One Girl project I created and definitely it is the fact that this is not yet ‘my’ home, we still need jobs. Often in this ‘reflective’ space I realise I’ve been wrong about something, other times I realise my gut is right and no more excuses, opportunities or chances are needed. It’s where I construct new boundaries and shed old ones. I try new things and often I go back to things I’ve forgotten I need or have somehow have let slip. More music, baking, yoga, paying forward etc.

I don’t often use a lot of quotes in my writing or posting. I did at one time but I made a decision not to in order to try and write my own words. I also tend not to read directional self help style books or preachy posters these days. When I remove everyone else’s take on things I find how I feel and from there I can generally work through things myself. I do enjoy personal stories that haven’t been edited to sell something and don’t come from a ‘how to control’ type approach. Stories that come from caring, trying, failing, reaching,  living, persisting, growing. They’re enough to get me considering and moving.

One of my favourites is Sarah Wilson, when she writes she speaks to me. I think this is because she too is often swimming in the wild ocean of life and what it means. I love that she is always stepping into the elements to find her best ‘contributing’ self and always as she grows, she moves (leaping) forward. She is so far from boring because she is not afraid to be different, honest and her vulnerability is not her asking for validation. She works on herself for the greater good and is validated because she is living her truth. Big difference. She is a beacon of beautiful truth in this era of both on and offline noise pollution.

Man I digress a lot! Back to the quotes …  often the popular ones annoy me with their overuse. That is until that moment they feel real and are not so cliche. It’s like the one if you don’t learn the lesson the first time it will come back again. Yep that one, used to hate it but now I am feeling it. And I’m loving it. It gave me permission to not be so hard on myself when I end up in the same place, repeating a mistake. Sometimes we must keep doing things the same way until we get strong enough to realise ‘this is not working’ or ‘yeah I get it’, ‘I am ready to act’ or perhaps when we get so sick of ourselves pandering to the ‘same old, same old’ behaviour that we simple say ‘enough’. Lesson learnt, time to do something different.

I’ve had a few of these realisations these past few weeks. There are conversations and situations I don’t like to find myself in. Ones I could avoid by unapologetically saying NO and protecting my time. It’s simply not worth being in relationships where you don’t feel yourself.  Our capacity to give of ourselves (online and IRL) is limited. Capacity is one thing I want to protect. Protect in order to be giving to my best self and to the people who are my people not a watered down, unavailable, unaware version of myself. Life is too short to be bored – giving away my time, my thoughts and my heart to people and places without meaning.

Ironically, it’s a lesson I also shared with one of my kids this week. A friend messaged saying they had waited all weekend for a reply. It felt like the beginning of that passive aggressive way where we ‘learn’ that we ‘must’ be available and that feeling were everyone else’s expectations are more important. It could have been the beginning of a cycle of doing things because others expect it. But we don’t all need to be a part of everything and as I explained to my child you are allowed to be unavailable. In fact in this day and age of technology you MUST cultivate the ability to do that. And I’m here to help with that little one ;).

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor Markhor in the andes

We need to be careful as women. We are vulnerable. We are givers. And we are protectors. We want to do the best for others. Like the Markhor on the high peaks of the mountains of Pakistan, the Snow Leopard is always watching and waiting to pounce because the Markhor is vulnerable, especially with her young. We need to be brave and discerning. We can’t possibly do all the great things we are capable of (dream about) and love in the great depths we need to if we allow those leopards to pounce and take our time and our thoughts. We can’t let unimportant noise, the type that makes us doubt ourselves by encouraging us to consume, judge, worry, fear, blame, be busy and to conform weaken us. Nah we need to let those leopards bounce off us because we are secure in our values and not willing to risk or compromise the important stuff.

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor Snow leopard in the andes

Ok so I  make no apologies for deciding to use a quote next. I’m getting lost in music this week and today I’m firing myself up. It’s time commit to my next scary project while I allow all the unknowns to unfold (without worrying) and these latest reflections to find form. You probably need to have The Greatest Showman beats playing to get this one!

‘I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me
Look out ’cause here I come
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me.’

Keala Settle, The Greatest Showman Ensemble

Except that I don’t really want to be seen in a BIG way for a while. Nor in a loud way. I have quiet things to do. I loved the Camino and sharing that story in all the spaces but time for some head down, bum up. The quiet Equinox’y things require me to commit to them with time and focus. Creating more space to learn, for the reintroduction of some home-steading practices and a thing I started mid last year after our travels. I wonder if the time is now right for that book.

Maybe. If I can get past the outline I kept adding to while we travelled this summer and write the chapters. Perhaps I need to get my head out of my arse and trust the calling to this book that KEEPS showing up. We lived in The Netherlands once before and you know what I started then? My first attempt. Except I didn’t have a story then … I do now. And again I find myself in the same spot. Yet different because there are million baby steps between then and now that would make it easier for me to actually birth this ‘book’ baby.

I needed the camino to complete the story or perhaps that is the story. I  could have done without the soul destroying darkness of the shit storm we lived though when we first arrived here. Thankfully my (well practiced) ability to change what needs to be changed saw us (me) through that one.  And I am grateful beyond words that it was not about health, aside from the stress it caused. That darkness and the camino that followed reminded me of who I am.

An optimist and a lover of JOY. Someone who is at home noticing what needs to be noticed, changing what needs changing, focused on the people who need to be seen and the importance of protecting not only our own vulnerabilities but all that is vulnerable.

‘Cause every night I lie in bed

The brightest colors fill my head

A million dreams are keeping me awake

I think of what the world could be

A vision of the one I see

A million dreams is all it’s gonna take

A million dreams for the world we’re gonna make’

~ Lyrics ‘A Million Dreams’ from The Greatest Showman

To find myself in this space is my true JOY – it’s filled with words, lyrics, excitement, hope, love, hugs, quiet, kindness and dreams. It is what I need right now, it’s what I always need. A life that is lived as though I am part of a musical! True – I could sing and dance trhough my days given the chance. And of course my kids are singing about dreams today because what an album – The Greatest Showman (currently on repeat ;).

‘So I say thank you for the music

 the songs I’m singing

thanks for all the joy they’re bringing 

who can live without it 

I ask in all honesty

what would life be

without a song or a dance what are we’

~ABBA lyrics.

Look another quote ha ha no apologies because music and words are filling my day today.

‘Forget the cage, ’cause we know how to make the key
Oh, damn! Suddenly we’re free to fly
We’re going to the other side’

~ More lyrics from the Greatest Showman.

Buen Camino on this walk we are all walking. How’s your dreaming? Got anything sparking up?

Yes Annette you are so right, that is my commitment to myself. To live within my extremes –  well beyond myself and deeply within. Thank you for noticing and teaching me something without even trying, just by being you and writing lovely words.

Fran xx

A commitment to kindness, adventure, travel and charity.

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