Category Archives: Adventure

There is a time for solitude and there is a time to let the winds blow in the spirits that we need to grow.

At the beginning of last year, we spend 3 months living in Ireland. For those of you who followed my previous blog or have been around IG for a while you will know how much I adored our time on the Emerald Isle. The essence of the country and its people still lingers in my soul. To me it had a wildness that will never be tamed, a people whose character is strong, kind and loyal and a culture that knows its values.  A culture that sings, talks and shares its history (the beautiful and the ugly) through stories and myths. A people who are  unafraid to leave some thought to the unknown.

One morning as I stood in the queue of the post office I realised that the queue never moves fast. It’s wise to not be in a hurry when posting a letter in country Ireland. Hurry had no purpose in this small country town. Of course the purpose of the queue was to form an order but more importantly is served as a way to connect community. People know each other, grandchildren are asked after, information is shared and warm “how are ye’s” were met with warm smiles and a “grand, yerself”?

I like to think of myself as a strong kind of character and I have the resilience to withstand testing conditions and forge new paths for myself and my family. I do spend a load of time alone in my own space and in nature and that fuels my thoughts and give me the solitude I need to  know if I’m comfortable with where I am in life (space to tap into how I’m feeling). I am learning about the importance of the strength that comes from a community. Do we need to be a part of every community that interests us or we situationally find ourselves in? I don’t think so. But for those of us who seek to understand and explore our way through a life filled with meaning we do need a community that ‘gets’ us, supports us, challenges us and holds us. The one that helps to propel us forward and because sometimes we want to do things differently from the crowd it can be a little scary doing that. We deep feelers can only put our hearts where we feel trust. Trust helps us grow. And when we grow we become our most courageous selves.

Like the seasons in nature our communities aren’t always static. There are those, who like the earth’s soil remain – grounding us and adjusting with us when the season changes. But it is also ok to let go if we find we not longer fit where we are, to seek new ideas, challenges and connections. To give less of ourselves to those who don’t ‘get’ us. The nature of our communities can come in many forms, sometimes it is the queue at the post office, sometimes it’s where we work, the school we drop the kids off, our families, our school friends, the people we talk to in our street and our online spaces, the conversations we have at the market, the shops, on the trail,  our language classes, the gym. I don’t think it matters where we find our people, just as long as we do.

We need our people. The ones who are open to us bringing out our best and worst thoughts, encouraging our reflection, those who live in a way that shows us that (most of us) have choices and voices, that we are lucky, those who put themselves out there in a way we never imagine we ever could. You see, those people – they are moving, they are growing, they are the ones who will water our seeds. You know the seeds I’m talking about –  those tiny possibilities that hold our deepest dreams.

Our people, our communities, our tribe they help us with the thing that holds most of us back – our fears. Because they believe in us, they are on our path for the same reason, they are not competing, they are not judging, they are forgiving and understanding. They are there to help us achieve what is possible for us. As a dreamer of many dreams I want to thank you Ireland. You beautiful wild, rugged land of ferocious winds, you taught me what I needed to learn most. There is a time for solitude and there is a time to let the winds blow in the spirits that we need to grow.

“I think it’s neat you do what you want. Not enough chicks do that, if you ask me–just tell society and their expectations to go fuck themselves. If more women did that, we’d be better off.” ~ Cheryl StrayedWild.

Check in for my diary updates – Camino 2018 One Girl Project.

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.

Sponsors of The Camino Frances 2018 (769km) – Trek for One Girl:

     

Because a few of you asked how you can help. Here we are.

Time to get real!

This project of mine is all about educating girls and I know that it CAN be done. I know because not so long ago my spirited 10 year old daughter showed me how.

At the end of 2016 just prior to setting off on our adventure,  Zoë  (said daughter) and I sat in the audience of a presentation from Morgan Koegal, CEO of One Girl Australia at the Travel Play Live/She Went Wild Expo and she said,

‘when something feels wrong in your gut – do something about it’.

And that’s exactly what Zoë did. Together with a few friends in a concentrated two-week school raffle  with ethical and sustainable prizes she raised enough money for One Girl to educate 8 girls for a year.

One Girl works in both Sierra Leone and Uganda, two of the most challenging places on earth to be born a girl.

For girls born in these countries – Education changes everything.

  • A girl’s income increases by 10-25% for every extra year of education.
  • She’ll get married later and have a smaller, healthier family when she’s ready.
  • Her health, economic status, and future family all benefit.
  • Educated mothers are more than twice as likely to educate their children.

Same chance I want for Zoë.

My mum asked me last year what we were doing to make sure those girls would be educated again this year.

This mum. This is what I’m doing (side note, my mum, 72 and hikes like a mountain goat):

I’m hiking 769kms of The Camino Frances for mothers in Africa, who, like me want their girls to have a chance in life.

But I do need help … in these kinds of ways:

  1. Donate

I’m not yet actively fundraising. I’m still getting the foundations in order, but, some pretty amazing hikey type chicks have already kicked us off and we’ve already educated ONE girl (I know – AWESOME) so…

If you’re inclined, looking for an Australian tax refundable contribution or you’ve got cash burning a hole in your pocket, or know someone who does – you can donate here:

Frances Antonia – One Girl fundraiser

But that’s just one way, please read on…

2. Get your hike or challenge on – Commit

It’s beyond cool doing good stuff for yourself but try doing it for girls who need your help … ALL kinds of WONDERFUL.

You can create a fundraiser page here. Join the Women Who Hike team and get your trail shoes ON! You can hike anyway you want – set your own challenge:

  • Walk to work once a week
  • Get off the bus, train, tram a stop early
  • Do the stairs or the park at lunch-time
  • Meet a friend, do it with your kids, family, colleagues, on your own
  • Man I wish I could make a commitment to walk with my mum, that would be a lovely use of time (she lives in Aussie though, soz mum)
  • Give up coffee/wine for a week/month – for One Girl
  • Rope your workmates in
  • Or be like me – plan an epic adventure that works for you

What-evs friends – get creative! Why not? Creativity can look like all of those things and so much more.

3. Support

Not all of us have spare $ but we all have spare kindness! Say G’day, share the One Girl Story if you like the idea of what I’m doing.

Follow One Girl– be inspired by what they do.

Go for a walk tag it #hikeforonegirl. I’ll find you there and walking in the outdoors you’ll find yourself there too!

See ☝🏼 I found you! I know you care and I know you’re in the outdoors and that friends – keeps it all real.

4. Consume Consciously

 

Get your sanitary products from Tsuno – from Roz, the creator of a better humble pad and tampon. Better for us and better for our planet.

Tsuno pads are made from sustainable, natural bamboo fibre and corn starch. They are super soft, super absorbent, ultra thin and free from chlorine.

Their new range of tampons are made from 100% certified organic cotton and are chlorine and dioxin bleach free.

AND … the boxes are sooooo pretty don’t you think?

How’s this? Tsuno are so passionate about gender equality that half of their profits are donated to charities; empowering women (and girls) living in poverty.

BIG supporters of One Girl’s commitment to educating girls.

That’s WINNING on so many levels friends.

5. Gifts

Give meaningful ones. CHECK.this.out!

6. Pledge your birthday – I DARE ya! I’m doing it this year.

Birthdays. We all have them. They come around every year and with it, the inevitable question, “What do you want for your birthday?”

You CAN here: Give up your birthday and give a girl and education instead.

Phew!

That’s a start.

What do you think? What else? Any other ideas for me?

 

 

Check in for my diary updates – Camino 2018 One Girl Project.

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.

Sponsors of The Camino Frances 2018 (769km) – Trek for One Girl:

 

     

Life is like a Mountain Range. Peaks, Ridges, Testy Ascents and Descents, A Pass and the Joy of the Plateaus and Valleys.

My husband once said to me that it doesn’t matter that we get older, or, that a year passes as long as we can look back and see that it mattered. Life doesn’t have to be about achieving and accumulating big notable things…just that it mattered, to you, however that looks.

Just like a Mountain range, each year also has different topography. We can count on peaks, valleys, ridges, tricky climbing, plateaus and a pass. How we take the pass depends on how we wander through the year.

We can take a direct route and feel satisfied (if we’re lucky) but most of us come up against some hard ascents or descents (sometimes we’ve been there before and we didn’t quite make it or learn from it that time, we’re not always ready). If we give the time required to make those ascents and descents we will often be rewarded with peaks, a beautiful valley or a summit. The beautiful moment of a summit is important to acknowledge and worthy of celebration, of course, but, it is brief in the scheme of a year and a mountain.

We can count on with certainty that we will always need to begin walking again. We can never live in the peaks or on the summit. I’d never sleep if I was always chasing a summit or the high peaks. I do like excitement though so I’ll take the everyday peaks, some bigger than others but all meaningful if I notice them. Growth and a sustainable everyday life doesn’t happen at the top, it’s on the path towards those higher peaks and summits…that is where the real beauty is. It’s where contentment lives.

‘Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age.’ – James Joyce

Of course we need to work, go to school and support our lives but we can do that with passion if we live passionate lives. To FEEL passion is to know what matters to us and to prioritise it. To dance around the lounge room, hike in the forest, swim in the ocean, cook with love, write words, grow things, meet interesting people, love people, make things, draw things, have deep conversations and to feel connected with life, with yourself. It is to have a beautiful romance with life. That’s the kind of passion that matters to me. To value it above all and to let go of what is extraneous.

I write this final blog post for the year from the plateau of a beautiful mountain in a country that ironically has no mountains. I’m sitting here for the moment as I pass through another year. I feel satisfied with all the discomfort I’ve explored, the passion I’ve given into, the summit of arriving at a destination, of starting again, the incredible achievements, the mistakes I’ve made (some repeated and finally learnt), the peaks from all the good people in my life, the conversations I’ve had, of nature doing its thing and the intensely wonderful experiences that I’ve encountered along my path this year.

The world is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper. ~ W. B. Yeats.

There’s a lot of talk about self care around the place but the greatest act of self care I think we can give ourselves is simply the space to be. In that space we are reminded of how to give to what we know is right, to feel all the feelings, to love truly – with time and presence. To put our soul ahead of our ego. To know when enough is enough, from how we use our time, to who we give it too, in taking only what we need and to contribute honestly.

As we draw closer to Christmas the the noise should soften. It’s a season to take the breaths we need. To appreciate each other and to go inward as we begin our transition into the new year and consider how we want it to look. The time to put it out there, to open up our path and to give ourselves the space to notice which way the river is flowing. That way we can ask ourselves the question ‘is the river flowing in the right direction’? It’s from there we can go forward.

I wish you all a beautiful Christmas and look forward to climbing mountains and swimming in the river of life with you all in 2018.

F x

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P.S. Sometimes I go on a you tube song journey. I load a favourite (usually Bernard Fanning) and then I let the playlist play out. At the end of my post these were playing. I haven’t heard them for ages but I don’t mind a trip down memory lane.

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.

Check in for my diary updates – Camino 2018 One Girl Project.

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.

If you want to be part of the change. You can donate here if you’re inclined.

Camino Frances 2018 (769km) – Trek for One Girl Sponsors:>

                  

Stories from the backroads. My most uplifting and memorable travel and life moments are the people I meet there. Meet 3 of them.

‘The everyday kindness of the backroads more than makes up for the acts of greed in the headlines.’ ~ Charles Kurait

One of the great joys of hiking and travel for me, actually, let’s make that LIFE is the everyday kindness of the backroads. Have you ever been on a hiking trail where someone hasn’t smiled at you? Had a day in your life where you haven’t experienced the warmth of a gentle act of kindness? Struck up a conversation with someone you don’t know at a bus stop, the market, while wandering a new city, marvelling at a piece of art work or been inspired by online and walked away feeling 10 feet taller because it was a joyful moment? I’m open to those everyday life and travel moments. They are my most memorable and story worthy. They steer my life and they give me the armour I need for those times when I encounter a less desirable interaction, or, a confusing day or week.

Speaking of memorable stories here is the newest blog I am devouring. Ger’s camino Blog – Camino De Santiago. It’s a beautifully written blog with stories of Ger’s walk along The Camino Frances. She writes reflectively some years after she arrived at Santiago de Compostela as a way to make sense of her camino experience. Her writing weaves in the characters she met along the way, her experience of the trail and how that experience still impacts her thoughts. I particularly adore her stories of how she applies her lessons from the Camino to daily life.

Three kind characters from the backroads:

Meet Jon from Newcastle. Jon is on his way up to the summit of Mt Kosciuszko and he’s 88 years young. He told us he hikes this trail every year and he’s never sure when it will be the last one. His  balance isn’t as good at it used to be so he hikes with poles. We were on the way down and he was keen to ask us about the track we had taken. We had hiked up via the magnificently scenic Main Ridge Track from Charlotte Pass. He knew that track backwards even though it had been some years since he had been able to hike that trail. I walked away from this chat with a renewed appreciation of a few things.

The importance of:

  • Right now.
  • Right where I am.
  • What I can do.
  • What I am still capable of.

He was a great character to spend some time with and gorgeously as he began his assent again, the sun began to shine over the valley. I can’t help but think this was the universe rewarding this kind soul of the backroads for his dedication to kindness and his great love of the trail.

Meet Claudius (with his red backpack) from Germany. He is also in the first feature shot of this post. Can you spot him in that first shot down near the lake (Las Siete Lagunas)?  It’s a great Human v Mountain perspective. Claudius was on the summit trail to Mt. Mulhacén the same day I was. We met a few times talked a bit of life and encouraged each other along the way. As luck would have it he was staying in the same camp ground so we had the chance to debrief the next day (as we limped around).

We met many German couples travelling with a baby or toddlers. They were utilising the parental leave that both partners are entitled to and campervanning around Europe. These young German families were consistently the only other families travelling with kids that we would come across (until the summer holidays of course). Another interesting story about Germany is that some companies have legislated that managers are not allowed to email or call their staff after hours or on weekends – wouldn’t that change our lives in Australia.

On the trail I asked Claudius for his email and I emailed him the photos I had taken. He responded the next day by sending me a link to a musical he had written on You Tube as a thank you. This is the unexpected kindness that brightens my day, warms me up and builds the good, strong armour. It’s not even hard.

Putting yourself out there and choosing to give kindness is always the starting point…then you’re open to noticing. Notice and the floodgate will open.

Meet Wan from America. Wan together with her husband Steve they spend their years between their camper in Europe, their camper in Alaska, and their camper in Arizona. They no longer have a house. Wan wanted a photo with with my lot because she hoped to convince her ‘busy’ daughter to take some time out with her family in this way. If my mum had a camper waiting in Europe…I’d be hitting the road!!!

The night before we had noticed Wan cooking on her outdoor gas stove and we spent some time chatting with them about free camping. This was the first night we parked up in a beach carpark (or parcark as the littlest calls it) and it was the perfect morning as we woke to the sounds of the ocean. It was a time on the trip where I took deep breaths, smiled and thought:

This is it.

This is why we are doing what we’re doing.

This is what we’d dreamed about.

The kids surfed all day.

I surfed!

I walked out of the surf arm in arm with my daughter.

We cooked and ate right there where we walked in from the beach.

We slept right there where we ate.

We met interesting people.

The kids feet were bare.

We woke to the sounds of the ocean.

There was no plan.

It felt deliciously like freedom.

Wan had no concept of not camping in this way when there was an opportunity to wild camp.  I liked that about her, pint sized but unyielding in her desire to live like she means it. We met up with Wan and Steve again in Lisbon where they shared their in depth knowledge of Portugal, places to see, places to camp and the importance of trying the Pastéis de nata (Portugese egg tart) from Belém. Wan reminisced with sadness about last time they stayed in a beautiful park up in Belém that was now home to plastic sculptures. She didn’t understand the desire to chop down trees and built with plastic. I don’t either.

Everyday life? I have a friend who recently sent me some of her beautiful artwork, it reminds me everyday of the beauty of a creative life. A whole post is coming to share that one. Another friend has been charging a crystal specially selected for me to take on the Camino. Not a week goes by that I don’t receive a beautiful message from someone. My kids give the most generous hugs. Yesterday and today the snow turned my life into a fairytale.

All of the people who enter my life and leave a meaningful mark enter through a window of kindness. Do I mold my world to ensure this happens? Sure I do. I stick to the backroads. I’m done with the main road. I want to choose who I let in close, what I listen to, what I do with my free time, what I believe in and what I stand for. Better that than allow the the acts of greed and noise in the headlines or on the main road to manipulate my every day life.

If you find yourself out on the trail, no matter for how long or how far and want to share, please tag it #hikeforonegirl so I can find it. Singing birds are well worth the effort.


Check in for my diary updates – Camino 2018 One Girl Project.

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.

If you want to be part of the change. You can donate here if you’re inclined.

Camino Frances 2018 (769km) – Trek for One Girl Sponsors:>

                  

There will always be another trip. The essence of slow living and slow travel is the same – stopping to notice and taking the time to feel.

One winter’s morning a few years ago I was standing on Oxford Street in Sydney waiting for a bus to Bondi. I noticed my friend who was catching the bus with me checking the time against the schedule, pacing, looking and wondering where the bus was.

Me, I was breathing and thinking ‘the bus will come when it comes, slow down mum (the friend was my lovely hikey mum).’ It stuck me in that moment that the essence of slow living is simply to stop long enough to notice.  We weren’t in a hurry, we were on our way to do the coastal walk, there was time. Even if we were late, could we make the bus come faster? I wonder if she remembers that moment, she often walks without looking my mum, I used to be a bit the same.

How much of our lives do we miss because we forget to notice, forget to be present, or worry about where we need to be next? Of course it’s not easy to be present in every moment of our lives but with practice it’s a handy tool and in time it can become second nature (nice default – mindfulness). It’s one that’s especially handy in the moments when we don’t have control of a situation. Those ones that are often the most stressful.

It was a late, hot afternoon and we were parked at a service station in the concrete jungle outskirts of Madrid. The kids were topless as they sweltered in the back of the van. We were 70kms from the caravan park we had chosen.

A red light had appeared on the dashboard and my not so car savvy husband thought is was an oil signal. At the service station he topped up the engine with a litre of oil. I sat in the passenger seat of the Travelodge (AKA our camper) who was now refusing to start, he was choking on an oil overload. Um…feck (👈🏼 nifty fecking Irish ☘️ swear word, doesn’t feel too sweary). I listened to the key turn over and I looked over into a vacant lot where I noticed, not one, but two rabbits.

A situation with all elements that would normally lead to frustration, arguing and blame, but it didn’t. I think it was because I could notice the rabbits. What could we do? We sat, waited and pondered. We called the camper owners and waited some more. Eventually the engine recovered and we were able to get on the road. It was slow going as the engine struggled to breathe so with our fingers crossed we drove towards our chosen campground.

Wouldn’t you know it…the supermarket wasn’t open and the pool was still closed (of course – some days are like that). ** Camper travel tip – be mindful about pools in Mediterranean countries, they’re not open year round! After a late night phone call to my brother who does know about cars, we soon discovered that we were not going to be able to drain the oil ourselves.

Lucky the bar was open and we could drink a cold beer while the kids sweltered in a fairly gross plastic ball pit that had seen better days. This was not going to be a camp ground worth noting.

The next day my not so car savvy but good at problem solving husband rolled the car down to a service station where they drained the oil for a 6 pack. The Travelodge had a little more grunt but still something needed fixing. Thankfully, we were in Madrid which meant there was a FIAT garage. A quick polish of the rusted spark plugs and bob’s your uncle! The Travelodge was ready to roll again.

Did we visit Madrid? Nope. It was a bus and metro ride from the campsite. We were done. Too hot. Little things that said move on. We can’t do it all and when we try to – the mindfulness, the noticing, the presence gets a little harder.

At 5 weeks into our time on the road Madrid turned into a stopover. A time to check in with how we were travelling? How much we were noticing? It was a time to stop and re-evaluate what was important, to pack away the puffer jackets, read a book, maintain the van and to realise that we we don’t need to push too hard.

Slow living, noticing the moment has also taught me how to take the time to trust and feel what’s going on. It’s the natural next step and  it makes adjusting easier when the fit is wrong. Slow travel is about knowing we can always come back. Or, maybe we won’t – but on this day the timing wasn’t right and pushing wouldn’t have been the answer (is it ever?). We packed up and headed off for the familiar comforts of something wilder where we swam across a lake together.

If you find yourself out on the trail, no matter for how long or how far and want to share, please tag it #hikeforonegirl so I can find it. Singing birds are well worth the effort. Check in for my diary updates – Camino 2018 One Girl Project.

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.

If you want to be part of the change. You can donate here if you’re inclined. I’m not on Facebook or Twitter but if you are and you enjoyed the read or you know anyone who might want to help, or follow along, I’m cool if you share. Thank you.

Camino Frances 2018 (769km) – Trek for One Girl Sponsors: