Life, in this moment, is…

I am sitting up in bed in Casablanca hotel… It is 2.41am. Sleep is eluding me and so I have decided to turn on the light and write.

In the mountains I sleep and sleep – nine, ten and – once even – eleven hours a night. But tonight I am wide awake. My balcony door is open, and the sound of the waves outside is… Rhythmic, continuous, peaceful, alive…

Tomorrow morning I leave here to return to England, and on Tuesday I will fly to Suances, in readiness to start my journey ‘on foot’ back here to Almuñécar…

On bare foot!

The road really and truly will be made by walking it; and running it….As Antonio Machado advices ‘Se hace camino, al andar…’ You make the road by walking it…

And I have no idea what the road holds… In the same way, that every day of our lives we have no idea what each minute will bring.

It is this mystery that can lead us more deeply to the silence and trust within us… To the true joy of life, of living…

In the space of the moment where we know not what is ahead, we are in a position to fully experience what is occurring right now…

In this moment… In every moment we are here, there is so much to be experienced.

Right now, I can hear the sea, singing softly, caressing the land. I can feel the silence in this room. I am aware of the slight throb in my left middle toe, where the nail has been lost, through running a lot in the mountains…!

If we listen carefully to our body, it will speak – it holds all the wisdom – and my toe is asking that I rest awhile in readiness to set off on a big run in one week’s time…

My toe has spoken for all of my body…

Time to rest…

Except that in resting my energy is building and I am wide awake at 3.04am!

And 3.04am has a very magical feel to it; full of possibility… Full of the richness of this gift of life…

Today, my Spanish teacher Maricarmen read me some more words by Antonio Machado, about death, which spoke to me of living fully, here, now… They are in truth about this moment; about life…

‘Death us something we shouldn’t fear because, while we are, death isn’t, and when death is, we aren’t…’

 

Leave no trail…

I wound my way down the mountainside this morning in my little red car… Seven weeks here in Spain, have disappeared in the way Antonio Machado describes in his poem… Like the water trails in the wake of a boat…

‘Caminante no hay camino, sino estelas en la mar…’

I rounded a big hairpin bend, and saw three guys who had the look of ‘free beings’, sitting by the roadside hitching a lift… I pulled over and they delightedly clambered in.

‘Que idioma’? I enquired… English was opted for; but we drove on down the switch back in silence… After a while the one sitting beside me started to speak…

I soon discovered that he was Egyptian, and ‘hops’ between Spain and Eygpt… He was amazed to discover that my father was born in Alexandria, the very City my travelling companion comes from too!
‘I have never met someone while I am not in my country who was born in Alexandria…’ He said enthusiastically… As they piled out in Orgiva, I gave my new friend one of my Barefoot Across Spain posters…

Today had been allocated – by me – as a ‘giving out poster’ day, I had made a good start.

I stopped off in Almuñécar… It felt a little like being in my village 50 years ago; I was welcomed, and my posters were immediately taken – ‘Lo pongo’ –  in the Farmacia, the Lavandaria (launderette) two restaurants, the local shop, the newsagents and then I walked back into Casablanca, where I was greeted with great warmth and invited to eat lunch ‘invitar de la casa’ on the house…

My next port of call was Rincön de la Victoria where I stayed for two weeks before my trip to the mountains… Once again I gave my posters to restaurants I had frequented… Finishing in one which also serves amazing Chocolate brownie…

We chatted about my project and they told me ‘Hablas Espanol muy bien’… I can assure you I don’t! But paso a paso, I am improving…

And now I am 36000 feet high in the sky. We are flying backwards over the route I will run, when I set off from Suances in four weeks time, to run barefoot down the middle of Spain…

I ordered some food, and said to the air steward that it was funny to speak Ingles… ‘Ah, isn’t it lovely to be going home’ she said, and carried on with her job, without waiting for a response…

But I’m not going anyway… I’m here – making the path by walking it…

Flying it en este momento!

The more I let go, the more the body runs free…

I am loving my day in the sunshine…

A tranquil day without much movement so far….

I walked across the plaza and down the few steps to the beach this morning and stood in the surf; then I walked back for breakfast and I haven’t moved far since.

It is a contrast to the previous five days where I have been engaged in hours of movement – the contrast feels good.

A pause, where the recovery can happen and the clearing, the opening, the effects emerging out the process, ‘the mission’, can reveal themselves.

‘The mission’ that I embarked on, and carried out over these past few days, has felt to be a space of silence and clearing for me. A practise that has allowed for the expansion and oneness that is the truth of us all, to be experienced in my barefoot running step – even within the paradox of the limits of a body…

The irony for me, is that I always believed that I was born to run, and yet my running steps as a younger woman, were often fraught with tension and pain, and struggle…

But because on the running path, I always came face to face with my tension, because I came face to face with where I was holding on… I saw that this space was a magical enlightening space, and that if I kept running, I would not be able to run away from my pain….

That however hard the journey, I recognised it was for my growth and held the key to my freedom.

It was the reverse of running away from my pain – I knew I needed to run right into it… And so the only way to be free was to keep running and to keep letting go of all that held me…. My pain, the places of darkness where I did not and could not love myself; all these places had to be faced and loved…

The tension and self hatred had to be released…

And the more I let go, the more this body  is able to run free…

And in the running, the body paradoxically becomes conduit that reveals the truth… That we are all one; that we are all energy and that there is no separation.

For me running is the perfect practise to experience this… Even when the soreness in my feet, the frailty of the body occurred, my spirit still was free – I did not worry or fret…

And so the path keeps revealing itself, through the running steps making the road by running it….

The Mission…

It’s a bit of a rainy grey day today; but I am now inside looking out, rather than outside looking in…
I have many layers on… I have just counted them – five!
I am warm enough now, but the four I had on earlier weren’t quite enough…

I hadn’t realised it was raining when I appeared at the front door of Casablanca this morning, until Emiliano said ‘lluvia’… Ah yes! ‘Mucho lluvia’…

I went back upstairs to take my leggings off – wet skin felt a better option than soggy leggings – and to get my chaqueta… I came back downstairs and after an ‘hasta luego…’ to Emiliano, off I went into the lluvia, day two of seeing what 25k a day in bare feet will feel like…

I enjoyed the run, despite the tropical coast resembling a cold rainy day in England.

Yesterday, for day one of ‘the mission’, it was a beautiful sunny experience…. I broke the run up into ten minute sections, where I walked for the first minute and then ran for the next nine.

Running in this way creates – for me – a meditation on the move… I simply carry out the plan I’ve planned!  All I have to do is run along, ‘paso a paso’, completing a ten minute section and then doing another.. There is nothing else, until it all stops.

I have always enjoyed running alone.

It is a completely different experience to social running, which I also enjoy. Social running is like a ‘run philosophique’ where there isn’t necessarily much attention to the actual running – but more to the companionship and the dialogue, which weaves and twists in the space between, creating something new, deepening the bond, as the kilometres unfold…

But running alone, of which I have done a lot, is very different.

For me it is a space of silence… Sometimes thoughts and ideas arise up, sometimes insights or processing of events, conversations… But often – as in these last two days – there is no thought – except when I am chatting to you in my vlog of course!

Just the step, the run, the body moving along on planet earth, soul in motion.

Some years ago Anadi went to train in China for ten weeks with the Shaolin monks, and he told me that they believe running to be the best way to clear tension from the body.

I see this can be true; but it can also be a place where tension is built, especially when there is an attachment to an outcome; a goal, a time to be achieved.

This doesn’t mean that goals and aiming for times cannot be part of a meditation… In fact they can be a huge part of a meditation because it is in setting a goal that we find out how attached we are to it… And are therefore able to see where letting go, clearing , relaxing, trusting – simply staying is the step is needed….

This is how ‘the mission’ is a meditation….

Yesterday I celebrated completion of 25k covered, by paddling up to my knees in the sea…

Today I skipped the paddle at the end, as although the rain had ceased, the temperature hadn’t risen much… A hot shower felt more appealing! I did the same run as yesterday, because the dark, the rain and the low temperature meant that an easy route felt the most supportive of my plan.

Also today’s ‘meditation method’ was that I ran with a bit more intent for 5k then very easy for 1.25k… This done four times brought me home with another 25k under my belt.

My feet were a bit sore at the end, but they have all day to recover!

 

Connection, Communication and Reflection…

I’m sitting on a stone bench in the sun – it is a sunny bright blue sky day.
It is 14.21 in the afternoon and I have no plan.
 
 I am liking being here in the sun…
 
 This morning I ran along to ‘the other end ‘ of Almuñecar – there are two ends and I ran to the Vellila end, where the road turns into a beach, and then by clambering over the rocks I reached another beach… I ran back and forth on the deserted sand for awhile before re tracing my steps to breakfast… A delicious feast of orange juice, coffee – toast with chopped tomatoes, drenched in olive oil – fresh mango and natural yogurt…
 
 I am enjoying the solitude and the sound of Spanish voices all around me.
 I am enjoying the sun and the sound of the waves as my constant music, and the wind in the trees.
 
 I am enjoying the feeling of having nothing to do and nowhere to go…
 Almuñecar has a few souls who ‘wander about’ throughout the day; they all recognise me now because I keep returning to run barefoot through their town…. And now I am sitting like them in the sun, whiling away the hours in silence, watching the world all around…
 
 
Which of course is simply our reflection in every moment.
 
 I was sitting in departures at Gatwick airport, the day before yesterday, opposite a man… I wondered what our connection might be… We were in the same space having a similar experience, and I wondered if we were to ‘press pause’ on the scene and investigate – then not only the man nearest to me, but all of us could have an opportunity to discover what it was linked us all, and reflected ourselves in that moment…
 
 It then happened that the man, me and three ladies, who had been sitting next to me, ended up chatting in the queue to board the plane…
 
 The man and I discovered we were a year apart in age, and that both of our fathers’ had worked on Sierra Leone, and that the two of us spent some of our younger years there… We also found  that he was also journeying to Almuñecar like I was, and is intent on creating a different type of lifestyle…
 
 
The three ladies – in this (rather slow) queue to get onto the plane – exclaimed as we started to venture outside; ‘aren’t your feet freezing cold?’
 
 We laughed and I told them about all the different type of reactions I receive to my naked feet…  ‘And sometimes people just stare and stare as if I am a ‘rare creature ‘ that they have never seen before…’ I explained…
 
 ‘Well you are,‘ one of the ladies laughed… ‘You are a rare creature…’ and then she continued… ‘In the nicest possible way!’
 
 
 
 
 
 
Vallilla… The ‘other end of Almuñecar. My morning run…
 

Happy New Adventures, Happy New Year…

Happy New adventures, happy New Year from Gatwick airport Hilton Hotel.

I love it here, it is one of my favourite ‘homes’, big expansive beds, deep baths and my little gym which feels like it is my own private space; I have hardly ever had to share it…

Anadi and I are sitting in Costa Coffee, and soon we will collect our hire car and drive to the New Forest where we are staying in a lovely grade 2 listed hotel which was built in 1627… It also has the New Forest’s only gin bar – perfect for Anadi!

We made this plan when we saw that the coming year would be a very different one… We decided we would come and see 2018 in here before taking off on a very new stage of our adventure together.

Because it will be together, but apart for the first few weeks…

Anadi is going to stay in the UK and carry out the same sort of ‘sales tour’ here as he did in South Africa. He has been working hard on iSportsAnalysis all the time we have been nomads – four years – and this stage is new… He is now the front man of his creation…

And I am going to Spain, I do not have a plan – not until March 23rd anyway when I set off Barefoot Across Spain – but in preparing for this, it seems my path unfolding  is to keep running and to keep learning Spanish.

I leave on January 3rd, and Anadi stays – we both have a sense of really and truly stepping into the unknown, but that it is a new adventure unfolding and that the path will, as always, reveal itself…

There is some trepidation that comes and goes within me, but I have learnt to listen to the space between my thoughts, between my fears, between even what I may feel I ‘desire’ or ‘want’ at certain times… And that in dropping into this stillness there, my soles journey is continuing…

This is the space I trust and this is the space I am walking into in 2018…

Que sera sera…

 

The rain in Spain…

Today is a very rainy day… But Spain needs rain and so when I said to Maricarmen and Pepe yesterday – as the first drops started to fall –  that it was me – La Inglesa that had brought the rain; they were very happy… ‘Bring more…’ They said, ‘we need the rain…’

It fell from the sky in torrents all night long, and it is continuing now… it appears that my special ‘Inglesa rain bringing powers’, are working a treat…

Anadi and I went for a lovely watery run this morning… The ground was warm, and splashing through the puddles along the slick wet road was great fun; and as long as we remembered to avoid the white bits on the zebra crossings all was well… very slippy for bare feet, we discovered!

I have just been talking with Pablo, here in Casa Blanca, about my birthday party at the end of my run across Spain, and about the adventure itself… He expressed a mixture of awe… ‘Are you sure?’ – ‘Doesn’t it hurt?’ – ‘That is a lot of kilometres every day without shoes…’ As well as… ‘I am envious, I would like to be the person that did something like that…’

Tomorrow I am going to Granada for a press conference!

Fortunately Maricarmen’s husband Pepe is coming with me and he has translated my story into Spanish… Very exciting.

I am looking forward to being better at Spanish… But I am where I am on the road, and so it is… I will do my best with the Spanish press…!

Maricarmen says that essentially people want to communicate and so of course, they end up speaking the language that is easiest…

This is so true, Pablo speaks fluent English, and so I never have an opportunity to practise my Spanish with him… Only with those that can’t speak English… and Maricarmen of course, who is teaching me

I was about to drive home after my Spanish lesson yesterday, and I was sitting in my car checking my phone… Suddenly I looked up and saw a coach ploughing into the side of me!

He was turning out of a parking space and hadn’t seen me at all… There was nothing I could do but wait for him to realise I was there, as he crushed the back of my car against the wall… I glanced up at him and saw immediately that although it was entirely his responsibility, he was going to shout at me…

Which he did…

In Spanish of course, and then he got even crosser when he found I was English….

Anyway… We managed… I didn’t feel upset, or react, but the trouble was I didn’t know the procedure… But he did, and so in the end he filled in the form about what happened… I called the car hire people who told me what to do, but he was already doing it – and I called Maricarmen, and Pepe came and talked calmly to the cross man…

Pepe, has practised aikido all of his adult life and it showed  in his quietly spoken way with cross man

Then at the end of it all, the coach driver had relaxed and he smiled; and I said ‘it’s an interesting way to meet…’ In Spanish and he said he could think of better ways, and put his arm around me, now my friend… ? And i had learned a good lesson about ‘what to do in the case of an accident in España

Just as we were about to part, he pointed to my feet and said that it is illegal to drive barefoot in Spain… I do not know is this is true because the police who stopped me at the start of this year -when I had no lights on in a tunnel – didn’t say a word…

And i don’t own any shoes! Que sera sera…

As I drove away down the mountain, I suddenly felt upset for awhile… Not upset with what had happened, but upset at someone shouting at me…

As always, it provided a good opportunity to clear the feeling from my body, and when I got back to Almuñecar,  Anadi and I went for cheesecake and cafe con leche by the sea!

 

 

The big rock stretch…

I am just about to go out to stretch on the top of the big rock…

It lends itself to stretching, a sort of ‘place to go’ like setting off to the gym or a yoga class… I am going to the big rock to stretch. If I take the ‘to’ out of the sentence then it seems even more interesting…

‘I am going to ‘the big rock stretch…’ I like it!

It is funny how we can change our lives by simply changing the way we view things. Stretching can sometimes feel a bit of a drag, but as you have perhaps seen in my vlogs, I like incorporating stretching into my life in a fun way; sometimes with cat companions on top of a roof in Morocco, or here on top of a big rock,..

There seems to be a bit of a theme going on here!

But it remains that as humans we create our reality through our mind; this illusion we live in can be manipulated simply by changing the way we look at it…

So a slightly overcast day where the sun hasn’t shone much, and going out to stretch doesn’t feel all that appealing can be transformed by the title

I am off to ‘The big rock stretch…’

I have also invited Anadi, and he is up for a big rock stretch, so that is the event of the afternoon – before it gets dark…

Darkness falls in a flash here; one minute light the next dark.

Perhaps it is like that everywhere but I notice it more here. sunrise and sunset always provide a dramatic spectacle and the big rock stretch will give me a wonderful view of the setting sun which even on a cloudy day can be a sight to behold.

And lunch was fun today… What do you want for lunch? ‘I think I’ll have chilli chocolate por favor…’ And so this is what I have had.

Who says lunch needs to be a sensible affair… Fun food has its place and the chocolate is the dark variety given to me by Athena Jane, so both the fact it is a gift of love and the fact it is dark chocolate mean that I perceive the lunch to hold very special qualities, magic in its energy; life enhancing, fun, slightly frivolous….

Again it is how we precieve things that can make a difference to our enjoyment of life. Although I wouldn’t choose to eat chocolate every day for lunch, I enjoyed it a lot today and I don’t have any part of me that feels I shouldn’t, or that it will harm me in any way, or make me fat.

There was a time when i was struggling with an eating disorder when my perception of chocolate for lunch would have been entirely different, and my attitude to the rigours of a daily training plan and ‘having to’ run / stretch/ do strength work were all a far more stressful event.

My life doesn’t look very different, but it feels different and I perceive many of the same things differently.

I have always been blessed with a fun energy and a sense of humour within all that has occurred in my life, which pradoxically helped me when I took life – at some levels – rather more seriously; but now it feels very different…

Essentially there is simply a level of deeper relaxation within me.

And this can make al the difference, letting go of tension within us, clearing all the reactions when we tense up against things…

Noticing how we perceive things, how we see things… Keeping an eye on our habitual thoughts, which way our energy turn when ‘things happen’ that we didn’t expect or maybe don’t like much.

Could we look at it differently? Could we press pause before we go down a habitual pattern of response?

The wonderful thing about being human is that we literally can change our lives by changing our attitude…

What matters to you…?

Athena Jane arrived over the blue footbridge from the airport and we whisked her away in our hire car all of us hungry for lunch…

At 3.30pm we realised we better turn off the main road and look for somewhere to eat as bars and restaurants generally stop serving lunch at 4pm… At 3.55 we had arrived at Rincón de la Victoria situated on a long sandy beach that looks like it runs for miles and miles…

Anadi and I intend to return, the place had a lovely tranquil energy… ‘I would be happy to stay here’, I said to him, and he agreed… The wide pink prom disappeared into the distance with the sea lapping on the sandy expanse with not a person in sight; the energy was easy and calm.

And we had a lovely lunch, sitting outside in the warm sun of the mediterranean winter; there was no rush and the food was plentiful… It felt that sitting and lunching together was the most important thing – both for the three of us and for them. Being together, sitting still and relaxed; no time pressure at all… Until Anadi looked at his watch and said he had a Skype call in an hour…!

This is often how we discover new places, by just arriving in them, stopping, eating, and drinking in the energy and feel of the place… It was like this with Almuñecar… We come upon our new homes unexpectedly…

I booked Almuñecar for one night 18 months ago, and we liked it so much, that we changed future plans we had to stay further along the coast and stayed there instead…

And now Rincón has appeared…. Another possible ‘home for awhile….’

I love being in different ‘homes for awhile’… As we drove through Almuñecar yesterday and pulled up outside Casa Blanca hotel and parked by the beach with the sun setting in glorious style, Jane exclaimed… ‘I like it here, this is beautiful, I like it…’ And I felt proud, like I had brought her here to show off my new home… But it is always only a ‘home for awhile…’

The moment we had checked in, I changed and went for a run to beat the fall of darkness… I failed and ran half of my run under a warm grey black blanket, not being able to see where I placed each bare foot… But they are so much tougher now, and even at times when cars approached and I needed to run on the edge of the road where there are more loose stones, it didn’t trouble the soles of my feet at all.

Things are changing all the time.

I notice the increasing strength in them, and I marvel at the adaptive ability of the body to change according to circumstances.

If my feet can do this, it is no wonder that my own ability to adapt to wherever I am is more and more fluid. It is in its simplest form the answer to how to be happy…

To really and truly be where we are in any given moment.

Today Jane and I had an outing into the mountains. While I learnt Spanish she drew and sat in the sun, and then we wound our way further up the mountain to Bubion to meet Maggie who is chief planner for Barefoot Across Spain, to eat lunch together in Teide restaurant.

It is eighteen months since Jane was last there, when we were all together as the Zen runners; a flash in time.

Another scene on the stage of life that played vividly and etched itself in all our memories…. And soon we will meet again on the road between Suances and Almunecar; celebrating our love, our shared experiences and the commitment to live fully in each step.

Kathy wrote to me echoing my sentiments that raising awareness about the end of life, and end of life care as I am doing in my run across Spain, is more about living fully…

This is what she said

‘A key message the hospice movement would like put out there is that hospice care – and they prefer to use “hospice care” rather than “hospices” (a philosophy rather than a building) – is about living – yes, it is also about dying but it is about “fully living” – living every moment in the best way we can.

Hospice care asks the question “what matters to you?” not “what is the matter with you?”…’

 

Journey with Julia

As I drove away from the mountains, just as in the poem I wrote about yesterday, the last three weeks disappeared in the ‘wake’ of my new pathways unfolding…. I drove away and the preceding weeks were gone…

And the place, the people… It is as if they no longer exist because I am gone. We create everything around us from our energy – all that exists is here, it is now…

There is no past, no future… Only now. So it follows that all that exists is what we are experiencing around us now…

If we try to hold on to the past, or create a future that doesn’t exist, we are bound to live in tension… Whereas when we allow an unfolding, everything flows.

Of course this doesn’t mean not making a plan, to meet someone to have an experience. We can create the future in the moment we are in.

But we can’t live it, until we are in it.

And then any plan we might make, arises almost as if of itself …

I am changed by my time in the mountains – but the weeks have disappeared and will never be found again. Instead in front of me I keep making the path by walking it.

It was a fiesta day in Spain yesterday; they happen often. I like it… Everything stops and much feasting happens… All day long.

Big groups of people gather together, they sit outside in the sun, and talk and laugh and eat lots of food… And I watch, passing through this land which I love and feel I am a part of, but in a different way to those who are of it…

Maricarmen, my Spanish teacher, asked me yesterday if I would like to be interviewed by the paper in Orgiva, the biggest town on the mountain road near Bubion and Pitres… Many have noticed me running and walking in my bare feet… I am being embraced by the Spanish people, ‘Como una cabra, like the goats that I love in the mountains, I am being associated with them too…

I arrived in Almuñecar and made my way through the tables full of celebratory folk… I put my running kit on and prepared to go for my second run of the day…

In the morning I ran along my mountain road for the last time, at least for awhile… And tonight the land I ran on was different, warm balmy evening sun… People sitting about enjoying the day off; a man practicing his tight rope skills on the beach…

Two boys jogged along talking, a little bit ahead of me… We were running at a similar pace, and I received the positive energy of a shared run.

All my runs have been lone for some weeks now, and although this is never a problem for me, I enjoyed their vicarious company…

I’m now on the plane… I’ve slept a little and just experienced that moment of total nothing… The place between sleeping and waking and I had no idea at all where I was, who I was…

My lifestyle lends itself to those moments, those gifts or total space. I experience them every so often. This one was pure white, the other day it was golden. I could see the colour but I didn’t know anything about anything. No sense of my ‘self’ or being even in a body.

They are fleeting; but to be treasured I feel, a glimpse into the space of total no thing…

I am hungry! It’s now 12.45pm and my day hasn’t opened up any food opportunities!

I had left plenty of time to get to the airport, because I love airport fun… But the path that opened in front of me was a different one.

I wasn’t sure I could remember where the gasolinera was to get petrol to fill the car, but the signs were perfect… I found my way, filled the car up with petrol, and then followed the signs back to the airport… I thought.

Instead, I found myself sailing past my destination and back along the road I had just driven down…!

I knew I needed to get off it, so took the first opportunity, which lead me right slap bang into the streets and traffic with no sign of any way back to the airport… Thank goodness for technology…

Madeline of google maps directed me back – albeit with the time for my pre flight breakfast and coffee ticking away.

At the airport, Marcus my nice car man wasn’t there… I rang the office and she assured me that he was, and that she would call him so that we could find one another…

I waited… After awhile I decided that calling again would be a good plan… He was 10 minutes away could I wait…?

Not really!

She said to leave the key in the boot, and leave the car unlocked … I carried out instructions and made my way through the whole airport system, and onto the plane, with no window for a food stop…

Easyjet porridge is feeling very appealing….