Tag Archives: Minimalist

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

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

Camino Day 1 – Writing from Alto da Pena.

Hola Amigos!

If you’re here to find the link to donate that’s here Do it in a dress – Camino Finisterre.

Oh my what a start!

I am so glad many of you are back again reading along and joining me on this adventure to continue where I left off. So today … today I was thinking about how exciting beginnings are and the anticipation of great things happening. And then I thought as I climbed a hill and my heart was beating and my head was sweaty (you know that hair clumpy, humid, sticky feeling, can I smell myself crap I’ll defo have to shower don’t stand near me kind of sweat) this IS greatness. GREATNESS is living. And all of this is enough, where I am, what I’m doing, the people in my life. I have enough. So everything else – is all a bonus. And the second thought I had was that SO much time gets wasted because we are looking for something … that most of us already have and we have it IN abundance. Freedom. Freedom to choose trust over fear. JOMO over FOMO.

Sure BIG cool things happen like getting accepted into a Masters, yep that happened yesterday (still not sure if I’m going to do it). And getting some of the kindest messages from people who read your stuff – really read, read because they love what you write, they get you, yep that also happened. And then there’s your daughter biking to the station with you and telling you she’s proud that you’re wearing a school dress and isn’t embarrassed of you because she thinks you’re doing ‘cool stuff’. And the big fear you had of being noticed in a dress is actually more liberating than awkward! Yes friends the heart beating, the sweat, the kindness, the love and the liberation of doing my own thing, my own way that is GREATNESS. And it’s freedom – freedom from fear.

Right I guess you want to hear about the camino. Oh wow – I love it. You probably all know by now that my mate Frank the Tank missed his flight yesterday. That was a complete bummer because you know how much we enjoyed walking the camino with those Texan Crackers! But it happened so it has became a solo adventure and I’m ok with that challenge. I’m good with hiking alone and now I won’t be able to rely on having a friend to hide behind. I’ll have to be there … at night with all the people at the pilgrim meal. Plus I’ll convince him to do a hard one like TMB with me!

I spent the first night in Santiago. I’m not gonna lie I was a little out of place. Generally, people here have just finished their camino they’re in a different space to a new arrival. I stayed at an old monastery I had pre booked for €17 a night and it was kind of spooky and lacking in that feeling of ‘connected’ walkers. I had a single room and wondered if I should have booked the dorm. Dinner was a few bits from the supermarket. I ate as I people watched in the canteen. I can happily report I did sleep!

I needed to find a map last night as I wasn’t sure how to get myself on the camino today. After a nice sleep in (8.30am) I set off to begin my first leg of this hike the Camino Finisterre. I managed to find the trail and enjoyed walking the first 12kms to cafe for my morning coffee. This was a favourite camino habit from last time. I must take it on board at home. Rather than a coffee when I wake – move first! The Galician countryside is like walking through a ‘move to rural Spain’ travel memoir. I could see all the characters come to life as I walked.

I had spent a bit of time wondering how far to walk … how will I know when to stop? How do I fit in 240kms in six days? I decided I’d just walk … walk until I was ready to stop. And what do you know it worked … I actually felt the need for lunch. So I stopped. I ended up in a bar with old men and the only thing on offer a bacon sandwich but hey I’m not gonna go chasing … I’m going to roll! And it was all I needed. The half I couldn’t eat was wrapped as a take away and after a 1/2 hour rest of the feet I was ready to walk on towards the unknown.

Last night I felt like a stranger rolling up in town whereas today I was among fellow pilgrims and hikers on the camino. I walked solo. There were people on the trails but not so many. I enjoyed being in my own company and giving time to the how and what this camino is for me. I had a brief chat with Skye from Canada. I wasn’t sure where I’d stop … and at the 28km mark (same as last time) I felt ready. So when I reached A Pena I decided to take a bed at the first albergue. I’m in a dorm of four (€12) and I sat at the pilgrim meal (€9 three courses) amongst Italians, French and of course a friendly German.

I feel a sense of home here on the camino. I think most people who have walked it do. Many return. All are changed. I’m glad I’m back for whatever greatness unfolds especially hearing the trees who in the Galician winds with their huge bendy boughs talk. Truth.

Buen camino dear friends,

Fran xx

The joy that goes hand in hand with letting a day unfold in it own way, without pushing into it.

Adventures On My Bike – Day 5/28

Today’s recipe: Zucchini fritters with Tzatziki.

I’m sure if I hadn’t committed to documenting this creative living project I would have dropped my bundle on my bike/cooking adventures today. With a head cold brewing and a good three hours wasted at the hairdresser – the shades of purple in my hair that needed adjusting. ‘It’s the matte finish’ she kept repeating … ‘um I hear you but ‘matte’ isn’t a colour and I’m sure I didn’t ask for this’. Just gently wake the colour I had said. What I really wanted was a symbolic chop. I’m shedding you see and nothing says that more than getting a good few inches lopped off.

If I was a collector of stuff I’d probably be rummaging through drawers and filling bags and boxes but I’ve been there. The stuff I’m interested in decluttering are related to the stories I play in my head and the habits I want to improve. The camino didn’t show me what simple living is, it reminded me of how much I value it. How imperative it is to honest grounding.

After a siesta to try and sleep off this cold I was standing in the kitchen a bit motionless. I wasn’t even thinking about what recipe I’d try later I was simply perplexed about lunch! The temptation was Vegemite on toast. Nothing wrong with that of course except it’s not part of the fresh food story I’m writing for myself this month. As the toast popped I decided to layer my bread with healthy tastes and together with my lemon kefir (the pro-biotic drink I’m having daily) I sat in the warmth of the sun. The fact that I’m back on the kefir after months of thinking about it, is goodness in itself. It’s hard to put into words what happened out there in the sun. But basically, it was me choosing to remain accountable to this project (forward motion?) … to myself, and to be kind to myself. Something I can struggle with in certain areas.

And from there … today’s story wrote itself. Some panadol helped ;). I decided not to work on the words I’d written this morning (in the hairdresser’s chair) and keep today’s post simple. I love what I’m working on but it’s more of a ‘stretch my writerly ability’ type piece so it will need more energy. Creative living is only possible with the ability to adapt and be flexible. I can’t give anymore to the story I started writing earlier in the day but I can write this new one that unfolded and keep myself accountable to this 28 day adventure and writing challenge. Today’s story, where somedays we have to choose to do things differently to meet what’s thrown at us.

So it wasn’t a nourishment bowl it was a tasty avocado, tuna and cheese melt for lunch … seriously how good is a melt! It was me being kind to myself. It was choosing a siesta instead of going out hiking. And that is how we can change our story. After some time in the sun and in response to showing myself the gentleness my body was asking for my inspiration returned. Something simple … I could do that. And the leftover zucchini’s in the fridge became fritters.

Zucchini fritters with home made Tzatziki.

Fritters:

  • 600 grams of shredded zucchini
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 2 gloved garlic shredded
  • Olive oil

How I do them:

Pop the zucchini in a colander and add a small amount of salt (or none) to mix. Rest for 10 minutes.

In a bowl add the zucchini after squeezing out the excess water (very important). Add flour, garlic, egg, parmesan and pepper to season. Mix by hand.

Cook small patties in the fry pan in olive oil.

I pop them in the oven on a tray after I’ve fried them to cook through otherwise they can taste a bit raw.

Variations: I wasn’t in the head space but for sure add extras – carrot, corn … the perfect veggie burgers. Easy to freeze and a healthy grab for lunch with a bit of rocket lunch.

Tzatziki:

Blitz some dill, cucumber and Greek yoghurt with a squeeze of lemon juice.

After our fritter snacks while my youngest was struggling to draw a picture he needed for his teacher I came up with an idea! The panadol had fully kicked in so a bike adventure for inspiration was needed … for all of us. Perhaps it’s having visited the gardens in St Remy last year where Van Gogh had painted one of my favourite pictures, or the Monet that hangs in the Tate modern we visited over Easter but I’d decided he needed a landscape. He needed a picture and colours in his mind for inspiration. And I knew just the place.

The local woods also have farmland dispersed throughout it. It’s why I often come across cattle, horses and goats on my walks. Right now there are fields of wheat and corn. Imagine going a whole season and not playing amongst the crops! Lucky we don’t have snakes here.

There was bike swapping, hide and seek playing, stone throwing and wild laughing. The birds were singing and I promised them the kids would be back soon. These long summer nights are begging for these kinds of memories to be made amongst them.

I’m high giving myself for finding all the things I needed in today to get to this point of the day. The cycling, the food, the adventuring and the writing. For creating the space to act on the stuff I realised I needed when I was on the camino. And all the joy that went hand in hand with letting a day unfold in it own way without pushing into it.

Hope yours is a good one.

Buen Camino,

Fran 😘

Village life means there’s not much I can’t do on my bike or by foot.

Adventures On My Bike – Day 4/28

Today’s recipe: It’s a feed one or feed 10 (like we did tonight) meal. Chicken, chorizo, herby and cheesey quesadillas.

As much as I love the mountains and you know I do I couldn’t live on one. While walking the camino I realised how much I love not having a car and living where I can easily do everything from my front door. There’s not much I can’t do on a bike or by foot in our village. We don’t want to own a car and that is one (big) reason why we chose to live in this way for a while.

There’s a birthday in our house tomorrow, so this morning after my deliciously satisfying ‘what’s in the fridge’ bowl I got ‘on my bike’ and ducked out to pick up few present’y type things. The shops only open Sunday here once a month on a Sunday and never before 12pm. The shops also only open on a Monday from 12pm yes even banks! Of course I always forget because I’m from a 24 hour culture. So that gave me a lazy half an hour to enjoy a coffee on my own today and reply to you all.

While I was enjoying my coffee there was a food story happening in the kitchen at home. The birthday girl was doing some of her own creating. After baking three basic cakes from the trusty Woman’s Weekly Cookbook yesterday she put them together and iced them. She did a brilliant job and I’m hoping the learning to ‘clean up as she goes’ will be something she masters soon! The piping bag was a gift I bought her and it’s nice that she has her thing going on in the family kitchen. There’s also a little one who is interested in getting his hands dirty in the dough … must begin to indulge that.

The afternoon was spent rock climbing for the fierce one’s party with a few friends and her brothers. I do call her the fierce one … she tells me the eye rolls have started at school. She has taken on the role of ensuring that every single gender stereotype or sexist behaviour is called out and she also has a lot to say about world politics (one world leader in particular). I call her fierce but her heart is soft, it possible to be both. Her fire comes from love, she wants to right wrongs.

I belayed her today on that wall. Giving her the rope she needed, keeping her steady, giving her a bit more slack on the way down. She jumped off the wall a little faster than perhaps she had anticipated. It is possible to have fear and step into (calculated) risk and be safe at the the same time. I think she played with that today. I had her anchored. It struck me as the kind of thing a mum does as she starts to send her kids out a little further into the world. Begin to prepare them rather than only try to protect them. I’ll think of myself as a belayer from now.

The reason we chose to live here has a lot to do with our children and the teenage life we can give them. A life with freedom to ride their bikes, to play unsupervised, to use the efficient public transport and to live in a culture that encourages kids to become independent and spirited. UNESCO reported in 2013 that Dutch kids are the happiest in the world. This freedom and independence is part of that. If, or when we move home I will be living as European as I possibly can. Interested in some of the differences? Here’s a list.

I’ve always been a home, small kind of party giver. My kids are not particularly extroverted so it suits them. Suits me! This year was the first year Zoë has had a party outside of the house. I’m not against leaving the house but it’s one of those on purpose with purpose things.

This year I did one of those play centre parties for my youngest and I felt sick. I did it under the guise of ‘convenience’. Plastic throw away cups, paper napkins and the kids running like crazy. There’s no way he had a moment that he’ll remember. It will blend into the rest of the exact same parties he has been to this year. Don’t get me wrong he loves going to those parties, they all do, but for me felt like too much of a compromise to actually host one.

Today I didn’t feel compromised even with some store bought new paper decorations. I want to be better at making the house special, more festival like … we’ve been on the road and living temporary for so long! They will of course be reused and come out for every celebration and birthday as we settle in deeper and continue building our nest. Traditions are part of creating memories, they form the warmth that’s woven into our sense of home and belonging.

Living without compromising our values is hard sometimes but for me it’s harder to live a compromised life. Theses days I will never say yes to balloons, they’re an easy plastic to stop using. Also no single use cups, plates or napkins. I choose not to use ‘but they’re recyclable’ as an excuse … we all have enough crockery and so do our neighbors if we need to borrow.

Tonight was glowing as I looked at my daughter sharing her chosen meal with her friends, cooked by her dad (the same as last year in the camper) eating off real plates, drinking from real glasses chatting and laughing. On purpose with purpose … oops there it is again! Sometimes it feels like there is a tendency to confuse glowing with smug. It’s not what others do that I’m concerned with I can’t be that would be exhausting. I am sharing simply because someone once taught me to consider my own plastic consumption choices.

Chicken, chorizo, herby and cheese quesadillas. (It’s a feed one or feed 10 meal.)

Ingredients:

  • Wraps
  • Chicken mince
  • Chorizo
  • Cheese (something chedder’y)
  • Red onion
  • Coriander
  • Parsley
  • Rocket
  • Limes
  • Black pepper

Guacamole: we just blitz avocados and squeeze lime juice in.

Salsa: we blitz tomatoes, onion and coriander.

How Greg makes them:

In the fry pan in Olive Oil add the Chorizo, red onion and chicken mince. (He used one chorizo to 600g of mince).

When it cools add chopped coriander, parsley and rocket and quite a lot of grated cheese. Squeeze in a few limes and add black pepper.

Place a few spoons of mix between two wraps then fry them on each side without oil in a non stick pan on medium heat so the cheese melts before they get too burnt.

Cut into quarters.

Pile up on a platter or plate and serve.

No cutlery needed – bonus!

And because I’m completely committed to this ‘creative living project’ I went for a walk after dinner! I even asked a friend to join me. I nearly didn’t but I’m pushing myself a little to do things I don’t alway do. This project is a lot of things but deep down I know I need it to ground myself, to get back to living without some of the compromises I have been and to dig in deeply. Perhaps you may enjoy a few snaps of my village. I walked around town rather than in the woods tonight.

On the footpaths in front of some of the houses you will see copper plaques. These are houses where Jewish families once lived. It tells you a little of their story. This man did not come home. The history of war is very real living in Europe. No longer does it feel like something from a far away time and land. It’s humbling and it gives me a sense of perspective.

There’s a canal at the end of our street. It leads to large waterways and I’m dreaming a lot about exploring by water. I do find the landscape here far less wild and rugged than Australia and Ireland. Perhaps from the water on a SUP it will open a whole new sensory experience. It’s been a long time since I’ve asked for a birthday present … perhaps next month.

A whole project created around getting on my bike and it’s also getting me back on my feet too! Lucky I’m never short of a bike muse or two. Looking through a lens has always helped me see more. So of course when I spotted that trash when snapping these friends cycling and socializing I put my take 3 for the sea, just grab bits hat on. Of course I’m in The Netherlands so the plastic bags are small ones (coffee shop waste 😆).

So friends it’s been a full, delicious and uncompromising day. I hope yours is a good one. I’ll catch ya on the flip!

Buen Camino,

Fran xxx

Ps if you have any questions about my bike or dutch life please ask.