Tag Archives: Women

Writing from Orrison – Day 1

Today is the REAL beginning! It’s drizzling in this charmingly historic town of St Jean Pied de Port but our spirits are not dampened. We’re in the foothills of the French Pyrenees and there’s a spring in our step.

Days on the Camino – 1

Kms – easing in, 7.7 blister free kms.

Starting point today – St Jean Pied de Port, France.

End of the day – Orrison in The Pyrenees, France.

Number of girls in Africa educated – 15

Total funds raised so far $4,755.00 If you’d like to contribute you can do so here. Frances Antonia – Do it in a dress.

Thanks for the help Kimmy from the Women Who Hike team.

Today was dedicated to – Today I stepped for my friend in Wales. Sometimes we need to take a bit of weight for each other. I admire her willingness to share her struggles and her ability to know exactly where joy lives. A beautiful and courageous woman sharing her story.

Accommodation – The refuge in Orisson €36 per night dinner, bed and breakfast. Three bunk beds per room :)

Food highlight – Lunch. Soup of the day €5 (bean I think!) with cheese on baguette made from breaky leftovers.

In a word(s) – Happily soggy

There’s a spirit in this town that has endeared itself to me. I already know I’ll be back to share it with my husband and children. Staying at our B&B there was also a French couple who had returned to St Jean Pied de Port for a visit. They did the Camino last December over winter … that’s the kind of town it is, people fondly return. Little pieces of hearts are left here. There’s a good energy vibing from that don’t you think?

The next main stop on the Camino is generally Roncesvalles in Spain. It’s 25 kms away and one of the most strenuous legs. There are two routes. This house is the crossroad where you choose. The Napoleon route to the left or along the road around to the right. Choosing the left is weather dependent and that’s the one we chose today.

We opted to stop at Orrison, the last French refuge on the ascent up through the Pyrenees (you need to pre-book this one). I had read of this refuge in Ger’s Camino blog and decided early on that if we took this route we’d stop here. One, to ease into the Camino and two because if I’m in the Pyrenees I want to see the Pyrenean sky at night, the morning sunrise and spend a few days enjoying one of my favourite mountain ranges.

My husband who is an experienced outdoorsy type joked that navigation (especially in fog) would be my only risk. Ok maybe not joked, I tend to get lost in the walking and missing an arrow is something I could definitely do. No fear I took the advise of the pilgrim’s office – this week the Napoleon route is safe (last week it wasn’t). It’s drizzly and foggy today and it felt a lot like being on the movie set of ‘The Way’. Tomorrow, for the harder part of the trek into Roncesvalles the forecast is beautiful!

We arrived at the refuge after 2 hours of hiking up the hill – nice and soggy. It was a welcome sight and the restaurant was packed with walkers. We checked in and received our little piece of gold … that token up there, the 5 minute warm shower! We were shown to our 3 bunk dorm room. The Aussie bloke who also arrived told us he has a machine to stop him snoring :), he’s not really blokey, more gentlemanly seems like a good kind of roomie. I’m the older sister so I got the bottom bunk – not sure how long I can pull the big sister thing off ;).

A warm shower, socks and sandals and a long afternoon to write my journal. I’ve also shared some laughs with my sister. There are many pilgrims around but we’re enjoying a quiet corner. It goes in waves, it’s quieter now but I’m surrounded by people meeting and chatting and it’s quite lovely to notice but I’m happy in the shadows today. If you like company or are worried about doing this on your own – don’t. You won’t be alone on a Camino! If you like quiet corners you can find them too.

Walking one foot in front of the other today was a familiar and homely feeling for me. Wandering amongst the rustic French countryside with the beginnings of the Spring blossoms and the lush green’scape of this region, even when it’s drizzly is worth celebrating.

Everyone likes to tell me it will be hard, that there will be hard days. If there are, I’ll write about them, I promise. Today I thought about hard. It’s relative don’t you think? Last night I met an inspiring woman who is back for her second Camino. She called herself elderly, I called her young. I think she’s living more than most. Her sprightly exuberance and willingness to live without excuse and regret is something that moved me a little. The friend she was due to travel with couldn’t come – she received a serious health diagnosis. That’s hard.

A steep mountain, feeling soggy and a shared dorm … that is all part of my experience. It makes the 5 min hot shower, the toasty dry woolly socks, the fresh air, the magic and peace of the mountains and the genuine comeradery amongst this crew I’m watching even sweeter!

Day 1 and I smiled inside and out. Just as another ‘one’ girl in Africa will when she hears about her scholarship! Without an education her life is hard. I also walked for her today as the tally in my fundraiser gave her that gift – thanks to some more MASSIVE generosity.

See you tomorrow from Spain.

Writing from St Jean Pied de Port. Day minus 1

Here I am! In St Jean Piet de Port the beginning of my Camino into Santiago de Compostela. It has taken me two days to find my way here and I couldn’t be more pleased.

I’ve journeyed via Brussels and Bayonne, caught buses, trains and a plane. I’ve eaten from a French cave and dried my socks in all sorts of weird and wonderful places. My backpack has the 8kgs I’ll live with for the next 5 weeks. The simplicity of that is quite honesty one of my favourite layers of this adventure.

Days on the Camino – 0 (Tomorrow!)

Kms – 0

Starting point today – Bayonne, France

End of the day – St Jean Pied de Port

Number of girls in Africa educated – 14

Total funds raised so far $4,395.00 If you’d like to contribute you can do so here. Frances Antonia – Do it in a dress.

Thanks for the help Kimmy from the Women Who Hike team.

Today was dedicated to – From tomorrow I’ll be dedicating each leg to someone who has or becomes a part of this journey.

Accommodation – Bed and breakfast €30 pn – traditional basque house.

Food highlight – Home-made preserved from the family ‘cave’ duck spread on French baguettes. Apéro – The French good life!

In a word(s) – Bursting with good feels

A lot of people ask about how my children feel about my adventure. They’ve sent me off adventure ready adorned with flowers from the garden, lovingly plaited wrist bands, hugs and kisses and a ‘have a good time mum’! They think I’m off to do a One Girl hike.

One Girl is a part of our family and a mum who hikes is their ‘norm’ so I like to think they feel proud. I’m proud of my mum for working hard, standing for what mattered to her and achieving her dreams.

After checking into our B&B we (my sister and I) made our way to the official pilgrim’s office to have our credential’s signed. It’s official!

The pilgrim’s office was more exciting than I anticipated. We were given a map to Roncesvalles and a list of all the towns on the way and what facilities they offered. Handy for planning food stops, cash withdrawals etc. I wanted to hug that gentleman who stamped my passport! Being on the cusp of an epic adventure is bloody euphoric.

It’s happening – it hit me there in that moment. I get to hike everyday through France to Spain and across an entire country meeting fellow hikers and travel types. I will be amongst landscapes and history my two great passions. I am lucky.

This medieval village and ancient capital of the Basque-Nevarre region is one of those delightfully charming European experiences. It serves a melting pot of nationalities and today it seemed mostly the walking types. Over dinner we chatted with an Irish couple and a Canadian lady who are here with their own stories and Camino dream.

Of course my story isn’t only about the hike it’s about One Girl. A few of my dearest have begun sharing my adventure on their SM feeds and my husband (man of few words) wrote the most beautiful call to support on his page too. I thought I could cruise now that I’d exceeded my goal of $3,000 – but where’s the challenge in that?!

In honour of this new wave of support I can’t help but want to stand a little taller for One Girl. So … I’ve come up with a new goal. It’s a 769km walk so how about $10 a km? That’s just 2 coffees right. It’s also scholarships for 25 girls, less than the average class size.

YEP! I’m dreaming larger – I’m already halfway there to $7,690 and I’m only at day one of his Camino. So spread the word – ask around see if anyone’s keen to give up a coffee or two.

Buen Camino friends I’m heading into the Pyrenees tomorrow.

F 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!

Modest goals and one thing at a time, that’s worthy enough for me. I’m more interested in sustainable growth.

‘I have begun to think of life as a series of ripples widening out from an original center.’ ~ Seamus Heaney

I was unexpectedly yet profoundly influenced by those months we spent living in Ireland earlier last year. Once you have been so profoundly touched and changed by a life experience (or person) you can’t go back to who you were before can you? Ireland blew its way into my soul with its lyrical language and genuine peoples. A cold country warmed by the kindness and smiles of those genuine people. A wild landscape that exhales its stories. Stories that are shrouded by myth and folklore, with a history of pain and hardship but also of growth and hope.

During our time in Ireland I spend many hours trail running in the Irish country side. Meandering my way through the overgrown laneways and along the shorelines of the Irish Sea. I started collecting trash to protect the ocean’s inhabitants. In sharing my trash collecting online I was surprised by the response. I started receiving photos and comments from people around the world who had also decided to get collecting for the sea-life (for our life). I started dreaming of ways to make something bigger of this but then we were off – off to live the dream that had brought us to Ireland from Australia. Slow travelling the Mediterranean in a campervan.

‘Even if the last move did not succeed, the inner command says move again.’ ~ Seamus Heaney.

When we returned from our travels ready to settle for a while I thought I’d write a book. We’d seen and experienced so much during our trip and together with the journey to get there, I wanted to write the story. I started with a lot of energy but in hindsight I wasn’t ready. That can happen after going through something extraordinary. A new struggle ensues; how do we process it? It’s a bit like the whirlpool of sand you stir up when you walk through a river at great force. The particles need time to settle and we need time to LIVE with what we have experienced rather than force all the particles into a sediment state.

Ironically the part I got stuck at in my book was explaining Ireland and doing justice to what it meant to me and now a year later, the meaning of that time is finding its way into words.

Rather than trying to write the whirlpool of post trip reflections into a book and sticking at the blog I’d been writing for the past couple of years, (that poor blog was getting very confused with its direction in the whirlpool) I started a new single focussed chapter. I know I am better when I focus on one big challenge at a time. I’d hike the Camino to Santiago de Compostela and I’d do for One Girl Australia. I would write about that and I would create a project out of it. I’d build on what I’d learnt from sharing my waste collecting and be inspired by people like Toby of Just Grab Bits who care enough to try and change something from where they stand.

A project that I would not over extend with expectations. A modest fundraising target and each step considered and part of a sustainable foundation. A project that would be its own Camino (path, journey) towards actually walking the Camino. As the actual walk comes closer I find myself feeling nerves. Good nerves. Nerves that come from that space where the inward work is happening. The self-exploration and the discovery of what is scaring me, the things I need to face and change.

One day as I stood on the cliff’s edge in the coastal town in West Cork, Ireland where we were living – I was a wild warrior woman standing strong in my own life. As I stood windswept by the force, the solitude and the exhilaration of standing in the face of a new path, it was the time I realised my first deep truth:

‘That not standing there open and exposed on a new path would scare me more.’ 

As this project exposes my fears I am drawing on my time in Ireland to stand up to them. Gratefully and scarily my One Girl story is being shared. I have written articles that have been published. One on Travel with Merakiand one on the Travel Play Live Magazineblog. I am having to put myself out into a bigger world. A world where there will be criticisms, expectations, self- doubt, questioning my worth and ability and a world where I need to be open to what I fear the most – having to stand up to it all rather than quietly hiding or numbing the discomfort of those fears (you know the sorts of things net-flixing, trying to control stuff, chocolate eating, wine drinking, ego bolstering, procrastinating).

But then again aren’t we all scared of something? And I wonder am I scared mostly of myself – of what I think of myself. My own criticisms ‘I’m not a writer’, my own expectations ‘I can’t let people down’ and my own self-doubt ‘what’s so creative about doing a walk and fundraising alongside of it’, am I selfish ‘should I be sharing what is inherently a privileged life’, ‘I do have a lot of ideas I haven’t developed’. This is the space that requires the hardest work – the persistence, strength, trust and the standing in the face of those fears. That’s where the growth sprouts from and our spirit sours with a power we’ve earnt.

‘I always believed that whatever had to be written would somehow get itself written.’ ~ Seamus Heaney.

As this page is written and I decide that dang it – I want to write and photograph and share the beauty of life as I get lost in finding my own voice. That is truly SELF CARE to prioritise what you need, to be less scared (of yourself) and it is also completely fine to consider creating something a job, even if it is not a paid in dollars. I am prepared to make sacrifices to live this life and yes it’s not lost on me that I am privileged to be able to choose less.

Some stats of how I am rewarded by this work:

  •  I dreamed of educating 10 girls and 6 have secured an education.
  • A ‘Women Who Hike’ team organically evolved along the way and it has a member.
  • Kimmy Day has embraced her inner passion for the outdoors and One Girl and signed up for her own Camino. Buen Camino Kimmi – I’ll see you on the trail!
  • Some pretty RAD sponsors have come on board to help me give some presence to the project.
  • I am moved often daily by the kindness of the people who have supported this endeavour with words, support and one very special crystal that will join me along the way of St James next month.

What Ireland did for me was to tip me off about a well … a well that lives inside me and is deep. It’s filled with many thing: happiness, joy, pain, sadness, embarrassment, shame, gratitude, love and a belief in the magic and mystery of life. It is a well that is filled with life, my life – a life that has always been lived vulnerably and a little nomadically. It is not time to hide behind a few fears but to embrace the voice I have. A voice that needs to feel its way and will always be written as a life story. A voice that can on any given day be wobbly or sturdy – but a voice that comes from my own original centre and is learning to not afraid to speak.

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

Do you want to hike for one girl too? Join us here on the women who hike team.

I’ve added a thank you page for the champions of this story here.

Support crews are everything. A few more opportunities for corporate sponsorship.

We met because somewhere along the (on)line we shared a little of ourselves through our stories.

I posted this image on my social account recently to say thank you and to acknowledge the support of this bunch of adventurously spirited women. At the time of posting together for One Girl Australia we had enough in the kitty to educate 4 girls.

UNREAL hey! And guess what I haven’t even met all of these women. Not personally, if that means face to face but what’s personally? To me is a shared connection. We’ve met because somewhere along the (on)line we shared a little of ourselves through our stories and we spoke to each other. Our lives are all different but there is a thread … we are adventurous women who explore this life journey. Some of us close to home, some far from home – who defines home anyhow? To me home is a feeling.

Each year our lives look just a little different as we strive to seek what is is important, to face the fears and the expectations that may hold us back, to question what is right, to change what needs changing, to live in the peaks and troughs and to live life like we mean it.

I love that about this community of women that I’ve had the privilege of finding solidarity with. The ones who have supported, encouraged and reminded me that I am not alone. Because of these everyday adventurers I feel like I live in a world that’s stronger, kinder, safer.

As we head towards International Women’s day let’s recognise the importance of each other. Let’s celebrate what we create, that we share, that we can connect in this wonderful world and help each other by opening ourselves, stepping out (up), speaking and growing – however that looks.

Time to throw some more heart into this project. Mi camino.

 

Do you want to hike for one girl too? Join us here on the women who hike team.

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: