Tag Archives: Minimalist

Mi Camino. Creating a margin to walk my way to Rome. Stage three.

‘Don’t spend a lot of time trying to find yourself. Spend time creating yourself into a  person you’ll be proud of.’ ~ Anon

The morning of a hike is no different to most days, it has it’s own rituals. The packing of my pack, the consideration of what food and gear I’ll need. The anticipation (good energy) builds as the time to leave gets closer. These hikes are taking me towards Rome and there is something quite remarkable about that. Every stage is precious. A day’s worth of hours. The gentle rhythm of placing one foot in front of the other as my thoughts dance around my mind. My senses dictating the waltz.

Stage Two: Rhenen to Nijmegen – 33kms.

Total kms: 85kms (of about 2000kms to Rome in a dress).

I’ve never thought of The Netherlands as a country with big rivers. Canals and dykes yes … we’ve all seen the canals of Amsterdam but the Rhine no I always imagined that a German big river, you? Or perhaps I’ve seen too many Rhine cruise for retirees tours advertised ;) But back to The Netherlands, it is in fact a country of BIG rivers! Today I walked along the Waal, the Dutch distributary of the Rhine. An important river that links Germany with the port of Rotterdam. And yes very much in use … it is not something we think of as Australians is it? Rivers as thoroughfares to transport goods. I had to cross it at one stage … the only way you can – by barge!

It was a day of rain and water. So. Much. Rain. So. Much. Water.

I was able to take myself off grid (off the main road … remember from the last stage The Netherlands doesn’t have wild) and find myself alongside the water right from the beginning. It’s a little bit of a feat actually that I found myself here. Along the last walk Gerald used an app called MAPS.ME after the walk I downloaded it. I’m going to share something with you … I never thought I’d be able to use it. I am not the best at navigation and I am a creature of habit (surely google maps would do). But faced with the busy main road that google was sending me on and a national park entrance to my right I decided to bite the bullet and give it a go!

What do you know! I was straight into a beautiful wooded reserve with hills (tiny hills … this is still The Netherlands peeps) and water as far as the eyes could see. So much bliss as the sounds of the wind rustled through the branches. I’d been sharing my morning on my stories and at this point I logged of with a see you friends … gone hiking! There would be time on the train home and here to update and share the experience, I needed to live it. I’d just achieved something getting off road and I wanted to be amongst those trees and also open to see what else would show itself to me.

I say it was a feat because a. I actually tried something I had thought I’d never master (an off road map ap) and b. that felt pretty darn strong to have the courage to trust myself, that I’d find my way. I only had to find my way through one barbed wire fence, LOL. No rips. Navigation is a skill I’ll need for later in the trek and here I am getting to know it before I’ll need it. And let’s be honest it’s a safe place to practice … you can’t get lost here! I love that about my walks, they are safe places to practice trusting myself. Walks are where I do my best thinking … without really trying. Circles that have previously gone around and around suddenly open up. Checking in with yourself happens when you go for a long walk.

For me this hike is an anchor into living a creative life. And so I create a margin for it to exist. I not only block out days on weekends for me to go and hike … I also try to walk daily. If I walk today then tomorrow I am not under pressure to walk the next day and so on and so on. A margin is something we can give or set for ourselves. It’s extra space … it’s not just enough space to fit everything in. It’s blowing it wide open – it’s saying that our creative pursuits are too important to put off. And on days like today where the mercury retrograde has me in ‘uneasy’ street I make sense of it by writing about my project. Nope, I didn’t walk today … just on this page. Same kind of peace, strength.

In the wide open space, the margin, we create the holy grail – we’re no longer forcing, fighting and fitting it in. We are living creatively and it’s free to do as the big rivers do – to flow.

Of course some days we have to trudge through … like the last 10kms of this 33km walk. The city of Nijmegen was in the distance as I wound my way along a 10km stretch of road. I was so pleased to make it into this town, and the idea of getting home and dry, that I even sprinted the last 500 metres to make the train. Aaah but that trudge is far more pleasant when the margin is there for that bit of … ‘whatever it is’ … that takes you along on the ride of the flowing river!

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

Hola adventure hearts,

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

Stage One: Hilversum (home) to Maarn – 27kms.

Total kms: 27kms (of about 2000kms to Rome in a dress).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And I did.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fran xx

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

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