Tag Archives: Minimalist

Cleaning out the closets – life beyond the camino.

And I’m home. Home from taking a long walk (800km) along the Camino. You know the one, the 1,200 year old path towards Santiago. The one that starts in many places, but for me at the base of the Pyrenees in St Jean Pied de Port in the Beautiful French Basque Country (Frantziaco euscal herri ederra). After swimming in liminality for a bit, that floaty, bewilderingly in-between space where we can feel a bit lost. The space that’s actual a transitional phase where you’re adjusting after a life experience, yes, I’ve been there and hola I’m back.

Back to writing and back home cleaning out my closets. Metaphorically speaking of course. My actual closets have been empty for a few years now. We try to travel through life lightly when it comes to ‘physical stuff’. Naturally, living life comes with the need for some physical stuff (2 adults and 4 kids worth) but we try to be mindful of being wasteful and distracted by consumption. It’s other stuff I’m cleaning up. Like among other things the getting older and thinking about the future … really are we at the second half of our working lives, closer to the retirement end than the start of our working lives? What do these years, months, days need? What don’t they need?

Walking the camino is as close as it gets to living each day as simply as you can with purpose and without the angst or pressure from expectations of the world and daily life. Ok, sometimes you have to walk further to find a bed, unless you book ahead (that depends on your own comfort levels). And yes there are the times the bed bugs bite, the times you want to be alone, when you can’t face another tortilla or bocodilla and the times you hurt! But in the scheme of things hopefully you get what I mean. Life. Not a life without difficulty just simpler and moving with purpose towards the end of each day. Less to manage, less to worry about.

I scared myself a bit last week. Worrying. Thinking too far ahead. Looking too far back. It’s probably normal after living with such simplicity and clear purpose to come home and freak out a bit, ok a lot!

My sister talks about the sense of achievement you get each day from walking kilometers along the camino. It’s true. Each afternoon as we sat and drank a beer we smiled. A smile on our face but more than that. A smile from deep, deep inside after a satisfying day’s work of doing what we love.

It’s not quite summer here (technically) but it’s deliciously warm. The summer doesn’t start in the Northern Hemisphere until 21st June (the solstice) so we are still in spring. The season to clean out closets, always timing right! I walked 800kms and be sure friends the adventure won’t be in vain. While I walked it, I lived it. My mind was there in Spain not here in The Netherlands. Now as I move forward having walked the camino I begin here again, now. A new time (adventure) with more experience to reflect and draw on.

I must begin again because sitting in worry is not helpful! Although I do think it had its purpose. It is necessary in bringing us to our personal crossroads … the big questions. The big challenge is of course to step into the path of those questions, to take our own action.

Sometimes the easy path is timely even if the harder one is more important. There are times you have no choice which path you must take. The hard path takes strength and sometimes we must cultivate some courage first. (Try walking or making something ;) if you need some and practice saying ‘no’ sometimes and ‘yes’ to different things). There is one thing I’m sure of though … after pausing on the easy path the hard one will once again show itself at a crossroad. Many people skip the section of the hike over the Pyrenees because it’s mountainous. The entire camino has hills and mountains and here’s the thing – you may start in the next village or city but that first section is not the hardest! Like life you won’t escape the hard climbs.

Here I stand. Walking my own camino, stepping into my life with all the unknowns it is currently throwing my way. Facing the unknown of what my ‘career’ will look like, what my husband’s will look like as he takes the risk of backing himself and starting a business. Wondering when the ‘right’ time to move home is. Where is home? Am I doing the ‘smart’ thing? Who defines smart? Is security real or perceived? Knowing I need to get more consistent and put a deeper effort in with food and our footprint for my family. All SCARY and HARD stuff (for me).

Scary I suppose if I choose to let it overrun me with fear and the subsequent worry that comes with that.

I can’t predict further down the road. But the camino showed me I do like to book my accommodation ahead … that’s my comfort zone and I can always change it if needed. So I need a plan! The camino also confirmed my love of the every day. I can’t exist is chaos and I especially can’t exist without my soul being nurtured. And how that wonderfully magical ancient path reminded me that life is joyful! Worrying and existing without cultivating what nurtures my soul distracts me from experiencing joy.

So poco a poco (little by little) and steadily each day becomes part of moving towards something bigger as I fill my days (mostly) with things I love. And to move joyfully with purpose through the more tedious bits.

The big issues like tackling superannuation and looking at money begins. Researching a new fund as the one we have is FULL of fees (boring admin stuff that has a big impact on the future). As does considering what that fund needs to look like in the future (within our reality and constraints). It can be one of the things that gets left behind when you live away from your home country, having your pension in another. So yes we are living an adventure but there are costs … it’s best I clean the closet! Budget time.

Finding momentum in life and satisfying my soul creates comfort in my every day and they go hand in hand. I LOVE music. This week and honestly most weeks it’s Bernard Fanning’s ‘Tea and Sympathy’ album (a creature of habit I am). I listen to it when I need to move at home. Folding washing and dancing, mopping and singing, writing lists and dreaming. It’s good for the soul … and then flow happens. The kitchen calls and the play lunch gets baked and a new little desk space is created … a place that’s hidden away for things to be created (exciting stuff).

Career? Well that’s always going to be tricky. Currently my midwifery registration is on hold because I can’t practice here. So I’m working as a substitute teacher at an international school. I have a lot of down time there – the kids are very motivated learners, super interesting too. So I’m swinging that my way by learning something new. I study Spanish while the kids are working – sometimes I even get the Spanish kids to help me with pronunciation, bonus.

‘Life has a way that’s unpredictable but you can’t spend it waiting on a miracle.’ ~ Bernard Fanning.

And slowly I’m working on tidying and playing with this blog. My blogs have always reflected where I am in my life and this one is a special one. I’m not one thing. Nope, I’m not a lifestyle, travel, adventure or fashion blogger ;). To be honest I don’t even consider myself a blogger. I’m a sharer of words with a love of many things. I write about them for me. It’s simpler for me that way – not writing with a need for my words to deliver something.

I’m proud of this blog, for what I’ve achieved for One Girl and for contributing to the landscape of women and adventure. I love that I’ve connected with some wonderful creative women along this writing path. I will always write to continue moving forward, to improve and challenge myself, to live in a positive and optimistic space. Just like sharing on IG I write to satisfy my own need to share, create and think out loud. There are a few of us that need that, hello to those of you that visit because you too need or get that. And to those of you who like colossal posts.

Life. It’s happening today! It’s where we live, the people we share ourselves with, the beauty in the world that we notice, nurture and protect and what we cultivate each day that feeds our soul. Joy will come from there and will always be grander than anything we buy, any trip we take or ‘all’ the extra things we do begrudgingly. Today is a dynamic place, we are constantly moving. Feeling (presence) and reflecting through each phase of transition offers us yet another opportunity to step forward – wiser, wilder, bolder and awake in the life we’re actively creating for ourselves.

Buen Camino,

Fran xx

On the cusp of an adventure – a new painting ready to paint with its unknown hues and shades.

My camino is drawing near. It’s our greatest guarantee isn’t it – that time will tick, our lives will unfold and our dreams arrive.

I always like to have a little something brewing on the side in my life. That is how I keep my soul safe, you never know when you will need that protection. The little projects tend lead on to another little project (and the finest people) … some I finish (minimised our life) some I surrender (remember that book). But they always propel me forward, changing and expanding me for the better.

This camino has been the perfect anchor for me these past months and it comes at the perfect time. It comes at a time that I need to (am ready to) spend some time rebuilding (the beauty of spring). It has been a MASSIVE few years. Downsizing our possessions and needs, long term travel, moving continents, all the kids at school, time to think about resurrecting my career (tough one), my husband has started his own business … yeah massive!

When I started this project it was driven by my need to commit to doing something good in the world, something adventurous,  something bigger than what I had attempted before. Something beyond my front door. I could have attempted to make it bigger but I chose to keep it close, within my grasp. That gave me the freedom to not only adjust, but also to control the pace, the ability to step in and out. This in turn has given me the freedom to be present in this camino (journey) towards the camino. It is about knowing your capacity.

Capacity – I encourage you to read this article here a brilliant read. Annette gently invites us to question our ‘actual’ personal capacity. It has been one of my favourite blog posts I’ve ever read.

Presence has meant that I know exactly what I need going into this trek and it has also shown me where I need to spend time beyond this adventure. These next weeks as I put one foot in front of the other I will be rebuilding some of trust and confidence in myself and my spirit that I’ve lost in this settling in phase of our overseas adventure. I’ll be thinking about some of the habits I need to improve when I return. I already know I need to get my kitchen in order … I killed a sour dough starter this year. That is not kosher!

I’ll be letting it evolve without plans. There are no bookings (except the train to get there and the first night’s accommodation).  Distance and pace will be decided as my day and mood dictates. Walking, travelling light, eating local, taking the time to listen to pilgrim stories … slow travel.

Our recent mini trip to London over Easter had many of those moments that remind me of the sweetness of slow travel. The daffodils signalling the arrival of spring and sunshine, the realisation that while my daughter still wants to hold my hand (and equally give me eye rolls) I need to hold it tight, the conversations with my teenage son over our favourite topic, European history, the friendships my children cultivate with each other because we spend so much time as a family. There was a shift. It reminded me that I am home. Home is here wherever we live, together. It was good to feel that again.

Simple things the day brings when you’re not in a hurry and you’re not being dictated to by a schedule or when you allow yourself to be  present enough to notice and feel it all. Yes, crafting space and letting go of what is not within our control is a far kinder way to live.

I have some ideas about how I might document this trip when I return but first I must take my camino. I need to find my own way on the road to Santiago de Compostella. I will share my journey briefly here and on IG as I hike (of course I’ll be taking you, you’ve all come this far).  It’s exciting to (again) be on the cusp of an adventure – a new painting ready to paint with its unknown hues and shades.

‘When you feel it take your breath away

Just keep walking towards it anyway

Because life is a leap of faith’

~Sia lyrics from Leap of Faith

My favourite musical song ever! You need to flip to 1 min 30 sec to get to the start. It’s a beautiful song penned by Sia and one I’ve played a lot these past weeks.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/video/tvshowbiz/video-1094668/The-cast-Strictly-Ballroom-perform-Today-studio.html

Ahh you were waiting for my poem of the week weren’t you ;) I wrote this on the train early one  morning this week.

Grace

Grasp it with all your might
Witness all that’s in your sight

There’s kindness to be found
When eyes are free to roam around

Notice the flowers in bud and bloom
Immerse in the cozy of a room

Allow your gaze to meet
Feel moved by strangers on the street

Give time for kind words shared
For there is courage in friendliness dared

Be unrestricted in the things
That give you a life that sings

~Frances Antonia

We have educated 12 Girls through One Girl Australia! If you’d like to contribute you can do so here. Frances Antonia – Do it in a dress!

A month till show time … or is it? Every day is show time.

Actually it is less than a month! Eeeek.

I think I may have been in a little denial that my Camino is on the horizon.  Denial that has led to a little procrastination. Perhaps it’s the thought of leaving my family for a month or that I’ve given up living by lists since travelling or maybe it’s the unusual cold frost that’s been blowing over Europe this month.

Leaving my family is definitely something I try not to think too hard about. My husband is capable of getting the kids off to school and ensuring they are fed, read to, loved and washed (at least on Sundays). I’ve left them before … never a full month though, that’s quite a chunk of time hey! Best I let those thoughts go to the keeper!

‘Let it go to the keeper’- seriously that was one of the greatest lessons I learnt from a mentor when I first started work. I was a diligent, motivated and eager to please young teacher. She was a hippie, somewhat disorganised, super creative, senior teacher. Oh but she was doing amazing things. Developing innovative programs that were catching kids at risk, linking in to anything that was on offer in the community, showing kids they mattered,  she was shaking a system that was desperate to be shook.  And she was right; half the crap we worry about or try to have perfect rarely matters. Does it?

I’ve felt myself closing in, going inward, exploring how I’m feeling and behaving in our current life situation. It’s not all roses moving across the world, there are challenges. It’s life. I am finding in this inward space that I’m spending less time on other things and more time sitting with the kids, tucking their hair behind their ears, touching their cheeks and looking into their eyes. I’m even revelling in the smell of their freshly washed hair. I have done less exercise than I should have this month but my base is strong. I am not trying to break records. My hiking legs and my mind – full of grit. If you’ve met my mum you’ll know where I got that from.

Perhaps it’s not denial or procrastination –  just my way of coping and preparing. It is reminding me of just how unimportant most things are in comparison to the people we love. A pilgrimage is about walking with just what you need, a time to pare it all back, to peel away your defences and ultimately I imagine to question your existence.

What will the me that comes home from Santiago de Compostela be like?

The list thing. It wasn’t something I actively gave up doing it just happened. I’m not a disorganised person but I have given up needing to be on top of it all. I do write the odd list. If I am baking something new I need a list. I just wrote a list of the latest people I needed to thank who had donated to my fundraiser. If I need to do practical things like getting a visa organised I’ll do a list but these days I’d be lucky to consult a list a week. Not long lists of things TO-DO – spontaneity and dreams need space to land.

Maybe it’s living without too many commitments or without excess stuff. Over the past years we’ve actively scaled life back. We’ve taken our time easing into living here and creating our new life. We’ve started slow, not too many expectations and there are no swimming lessons, music lessons, excessive play dates or full weekends yet. Every day our play lunch still consists of the same home made muffin recipe with a different fruit flavour. These days I don’t listen to podcasts, TED talks or read books on ‘how’ to do things. My head isn’t aghast with how everyone else is doing things (or telling me how to do things) – I’m  finding my own rhythm. I can find my own way.

That’s not to say I won’t ever again (I’ll need to learn to keep bees one day), it’s just not a high voltage excess noise time. I’ve read a load of Camino memoirs which has lent itself to a more reflective time. I also have four kids remember so my quiet time is preciously mine and sometimes whichever musician’s lyrics are speaking to me, that’s enough for now. Oh gosh I’ve turned into that hippie teacher haven’t I? I will admit I’ve missed a few school meetings and my cards are being delivered very late in my listless life – to.the.keeper that goes!

The weather has been so chilly this winter and it’s been a natural time to hibernate. Knowing I was going to hike the camino has meant I’ve moved my way through the winter, hiking in the freezing sunshine, stomping through the snow and gore-texing it up in the rain. I think setting an April challenge has been a good way to stay warm in winter and keep any SAD at bay.

The spring will be here when I return from my Camino and I’m dreaming of daffodils. I’m dreaming of getting my hands dirty and of growing some food. Tomatoes, basil perhaps? I’d also like to get my kitchen bench looking a little like a fermenting laboratory.  A scoby, some milk kaffir grains and a sough dough starter – I miss them and I’ll be ready. Yes, I have finally started to understand the types of dreams that keep me present yet still allow me to have some plans (I do need plans). The dreams that add to the present but don’t take me away from it.

The camino will come in it’s own time. Living this time towards my trek as it’s own camino, as a time listen to the wind, to reduce any burdens I’m carrying, to learn from living, that’s how I want to live my life. One great journey, one step, one consideration, one lesson, one day at a time.

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

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: