Mi Camino – Home to Rome. Via Francigena. Stage One.

Hola adventure hearts,

I know you are. You wouldn’t be reading along here if you didn’t feel that twinge of excitement when possibility strikes. That lust for life, the thirst for something a little less ordinary. A deep desire to feel a part of your world – the world. Possibility. Oh what a word … what a feeling.

Now you know I’ve been playing with and committing to the idea of running a 1/2 marathon a month for One Girl. I had the first one planned but I couldn’t quite hit the enter key to register, nor could I hit book for a flight. It was an idea, one I had jumped into and one that felt like it could be possible. There were a few hurdles and slowly this month the hurdles became crossroads, choices – perhaps there was another way. A different adventure for me.

When I signed myself up for the idea the same company whose running shoes I wear were offering an ambassadorship. Of course I took this as a sign and applied. Four pairs of shoes they were offering for the year. I would be needing those. As with my last One Girl challenge I’m not looking for freebies … but a product I actually use and need that contributes to the adventure I’m ok with that. Hey honestly I’d prefer corporate sponsorship as in donations to the charity but that’s a whole other hurdle (note to self – one to explore)!

Although it would be poignant of me to point out that since the last camino my view on sponsorship has shifted a little. At first I thought it was a great way to build my camino – to get some recognition and air play for it. But now I realise that while it gave me some confidence in promoting the camino I didn’t need it for that.

The gear was awesome, it saved me buying it and I am grateful for all the support I received for my One Girl hike. I won’t be asking for more because I’m still wearing it! Shameless plug for Wilderness Wear I love everything about this ethical company. The air play for the camino and the actual financial aid that made it possible to put girls through school that didn’t come because I had sponsorship. Nope. It came because people (women mostly) related to, shared the story and supported me. Grassroots relationships.

So the hurdles … well the main one was the physicality. I’m fit and I’m strong minded but my body isn’t ready for what I was going to ask of it. I have been doing the right things, adding anti inflammatory foods and drinks (namely broth) to my diet. I’ve sought treatment for a few niggles that were surfacing and I trained. After a rather severe neck strain last week I decided to move my challenge start date from January to April. I can make up the rules as I go, why not it’s my challenge.

Now coinciding with this challenge is of course all the other stuff that goes on:  my responsibilities, my capacity, my resources and importantly my current season of life. A few more little signs played out this month. I went for a walk to the post office and I know that sounds ordinary but normally I ride. I love my bike life . LOVE it! But I realised that like a car you end up going from A to B and that little walk to the post office reminded me how I love to walk and immerse my senses in the pleasures of it.

I also started seeing a Thai masseuse and she has the healing hands … those practitioners are GRACE. The ones who with a touch of their hands, or words from their heart know what you need. As she dug into my muscles I realised they were full of tension. FULL. Perhaps from some of the stresses of the year and definitely getting exacerbated from the running training. Those massages have felt a bit like a detox. And like any detox they have cleared some space to create some softness and an urge to be a little more gentle on myself.

A few posts back I talked about needing something, some motivation something to move forward with while at the same time remaining grounded. I’m not looking for an off the chart adventure. I don’t want to travel for months on end or pack up my life. No this gypsy soul wants to remain planted, secure and within the same four walls but she doesn’t want to feel stuck or bored or going through the motions. Of course I need an adventure and some shit giving … that’s my soul food, my love language but it was becoming clear that the running might not be the right one.

And then there was a story about an opportunity. A new door to step through. A friend who I had met through IG (gosh so many good stories have come from there). I have found a tribe through that little ap. Digressing sorry. This friend asked if I’d be interested in coming to her home in the UK and talking about my story, my camino and my work with One Girl with a group of women. She would arrange it and a small donation towards One Girl would be the ‘ticket’ fee. Perhaps we’d aim for $300 – one girl – one education. I actually called this friend and I am NOT a phone person! This idea lit a spark and it seems like something I could /should/want to do. Something of a possibility wouldn’t you say?

I didn’t get the shoe sponsor and I was relieved … it was a free pass to change the path I was on.

And I did.

Today I walked out the front door and started walking to Rome.

I don’t even know how many kms away that is! I’m pretty sure it’s well over 2000. Am I crazy – SURE. Crazy for a life well lived. You see when I walked the Camino Frances I though to myself ‘if I was retired I could definitely see myself (with Greg of course) walking from place to place. Wandering the globe for a while, walking.’ And why would I wait? I have patience for many things but time that waits for no one. I have two feet, a love of the trail and a cause I’m committed too – again I ponder ‘perhaps there’s another way’.

Traditionally a camino starts from home … from your front door. Perfect! Here I am, start where you are (I always say that, it’s the only place to start eh). Walk towards Rome (I always wanted to learn Italian). And so I started. I walked to a small village 28kms from here and on the way to Germany. As I left my village the church bells rang across the town and as I arrived in Maarn a choir version of ‘the little drummer boy’ was playing into the gardens of a castle, both  beautiful harmonies for the beginning and ending of a special day. Day one.

I took the train home and for the next hike I’ll train back to where I left off … every hike getting further away and closer to Rome. Eventually I will need to go for longer periods but for now I think I can make my way into Germany in this way.

It’s perfect because it suits my family and our need to be settled in one place with routine and structure. And it satisfies my need for that ‘something’. Possibilities friends … they are endless. As are the different paths we can take.  And today I took one that passed through villages and farmland, along countryside and roadsides and I felt pretty bloody ecstatic to be back on the camino. My camino. I think I’ve found my way.

Buen Camino and I wish you and your families a beautiful Christmas,

Fran xx

https://www.doitinadress.com/frances-antonia

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 commitment to adventure, kindness, travel and charity.

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