‘I have begun to think of life as a series of ripples widening out from an original center.’ ~ Seamus Heaney
I was unexpectedly yet profoundly influenced by those months we spent living in Ireland earlier last year. Once you have been so profoundly touched and changed by a life experience (or person) you can’t go back to who you were before can you? Ireland blew its way into my soul with its lyrical language and genuine peoples. A cold country warmed by the kindness and smiles of those genuine people. A wild landscape that exhales its stories. Stories that are shrouded by myth and folklore, with a history of pain and hardship but also of growth and hope.
During our time in Ireland I spend many hours trail running in the Irish country side. Meandering my way through the overgrown laneways and along the shorelines of the Irish Sea. I started collecting trash to protect the ocean’s inhabitants. In sharing my trash collecting online I was surprised by the response. I started receiving photos and comments from people around the world who had also decided to get collecting for the sea-life (for our life). I started dreaming of ways to make something bigger of this but then we were off – off to live the dream that had brought us to Ireland from Australia. Slow travelling the Mediterranean in a campervan.
‘Even if the last move did not succeed, the inner command says move again.’ ~ Seamus Heaney.
When we returned from our travels ready to settle for a while I thought I’d write a book. We’d seen and experienced so much during our trip and together with the journey to get there, I wanted to write the story. I started with a lot of energy but in hindsight I wasn’t ready. That can happen after going through something extraordinary. A new struggle ensues; how do we process it? It’s a bit like the whirlpool of sand you stir up when you walk through a river at great force. The particles need time to settle and we need time to LIVE with what we have experienced rather than force all the particles into a sediment state.
Ironically the part I got stuck at in my book was explaining Ireland and doing justice to what it meant to me and now a year later, the meaning of that time is finding its way into words.
Rather than trying to write the whirlpool of post trip reflections into a book and sticking at the blog I’d been writing for the past couple of years, (that poor blog was getting very confused with its direction in the whirlpool) I started a new single focussed chapter. I know I am better when I focus on one big challenge at a time. I’d hike the Camino to Santiago de Compostela and I’d do for One Girl Australia. I would write about that and I would create a project out of it. I’d build on what I’d learnt from sharing my waste collecting and be inspired by people like Toby of Just Grab Bits who care enough to try and change something from where they stand.
A project that I would not over extend with expectations. A modest fundraising target and each step considered and part of a sustainable foundation. A project that would be its own Camino (path, journey) towards actually walking the Camino. As the actual walk comes closer I find myself feeling nerves. Good nerves. Nerves that come from that space where the inward work is happening. The self-exploration and the discovery of what is scaring me, the things I need to face and change.
One day as I stood on the cliff’s edge in the coastal town in West Cork, Ireland where we were living – I was a wild warrior woman standing strong in my own life. As I stood windswept by the force, the solitude and the exhilaration of standing in the face of a new path, it was the time I realised my first deep truth:
‘That not standing there open and exposed on a new path would scare me more.’
As this project exposes my fears I am drawing on my time in Ireland to stand up to them. Gratefully and scarily my One Girl story is being shared. I have written articles that have been published. One on Travel with Merakiand one on the Travel Play Live Magazineblog. I am having to put myself out into a bigger world. A world where there will be criticisms, expectations, self- doubt, questioning my worth and ability and a world where I need to be open to what I fear the most – having to stand up to it all rather than quietly hiding or numbing the discomfort of those fears (you know the sorts of things net-flixing, trying to control stuff, chocolate eating, wine drinking, ego bolstering, procrastinating).
But then again aren’t we all scared of something? And I wonder am I scared mostly of myself – of what I think of myself. My own criticisms ‘I’m not a writer’, my own expectations ‘I can’t let people down’ and my own self-doubt ‘what’s so creative about doing a walk and fundraising alongside of it’, am I selfish ‘should I be sharing what is inherently a privileged life’, ‘I do have a lot of ideas I haven’t developed’. This is the space that requires the hardest work – the persistence, strength, trust and the standing in the face of those fears. That’s where the growth sprouts from and our spirit sours with a power we’ve earnt.
‘I always believed that whatever had to be written would somehow get itself written.’ ~ Seamus Heaney.
As this page is written and I decide that dang it – I want to write and photograph and share the beauty of life as I get lost in finding my own voice. That is truly SELF CARE to prioritise what you need, to be less scared (of yourself) and it is also completely fine to consider creating something a job, even if it is not a paid in dollars. I am prepared to make sacrifices to live this life and yes it’s not lost on me that I am privileged to be able to choose less.
Some stats of how I am rewarded by this work:
- I dreamed of educating 10 girls and 6 have secured an education.
- A ‘Women Who Hike’ team organically evolved along the way and it has a member.
- Kimmy Day has embraced her inner passion for the outdoors and One Girl and signed up for her own Camino. Buen Camino Kimmi – I’ll see you on the trail!
- Some pretty RAD sponsors have come on board to help me give some presence to the project.
- I am moved often daily by the kindness of the people who have supported this endeavour with words, support and one very special crystal that will join me along the way of St James next month.
What Ireland did for me was to tip me off about a well … a well that lives inside me and is deep. It’s filled with many thing: happiness, joy, pain, sadness, embarrassment, shame, gratitude, love and a belief in the magic and mystery of life. It is a well that is filled with life, my life – a life that has always been lived vulnerably and a little nomadically. It is not time to hide behind a few fears but to embrace the voice I have. A voice that needs to feel its way and will always be written as a life story. A voice that can on any given day be wobbly or sturdy – but a voice that comes from my own original centre and is learning to not afraid to speak.
Check in for my diary updates – Camino 2018 One Girl Project.
Do you want to hike for one girl too? Join us here on the women who hike team.
I’ve added a thank you page for the champions of this story here.
Support crews are everything. A few more opportunities for corporate sponsorship.