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…’

 

Freedom…

I ran with naked feet in the clouds; into the hail, the rain and the snow. Feeling the earth and the jagged rocks beneath my feet, and yet protected from them by my Xero Shoes.

These ‘shoes’ are based on the way of the Mexican Tarahumara tribe, who  protect their feet by simply tying bits of rubber to the soles of their feet, to avoid damage from sharp rocks and stones…

Discovering ‘Xero shoes’ has literally changed my life… The mountain trails are now open to me again… My feet move like they are shoeless and they certainly can feel the elements!

I love being barefoot; I love feeling my running form return, my body becoming more and more flexible; fitter and more free.

I have already travelled a long way, learning in each step, I tread along the running path – mastering my art; with the knowledge that I will never fully master it… Which is why I love it…. There is no end, no finish line.

Because true mastery comes through committing to investigating deeply, its every aspect, it’s every nook and cranny; in order to let it go completely…

The path to freedom through the body, through experiencing everything… Every sensation, every feeling – every aspect of this human life… To be lived fully, the yin to the yang. The extremes of experience and feeling. The highs and the lows… The conflicts and the pain; the joy and the love…

Through being fully in every single experience, we are set free… Because living this way brings us always to the present moment.

And in this moment we can heal our past, and create a different future.

Through feeing every single thing that courses though us, we can heal that which is unhealed from whence it first arose – and in so doing create a new future, with new possibilities, free from the patterns of the past…

It is in committing to my running path that all else flows…

Everything else just unfolds; like running across Spain barefoot, learning Spanish and working in the lives of others as a Sanacion – the Spanish word for healer…

I have taken three sabbaticals now, and each time, I rest for awhile from working in the lives of others, and each time I have let go completely, thinking I may not return to that work…

Each time I have spent more time running, attaining high levels of fitness again … And then there has come a time when almost of itself my work with others returns – the door opens again within me; and  people come a knocking once more…

 

 

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 path is made, by walking it…

I was sitting at the top of a table; microphones in front of me, a group of Spanish men were gathered around, and were asking me questions about my upcoming project to run from the north to the south coast of Spain in my bare feet; we were talking in Spanish… Of course!

It was like being in a dream…..

Maricarmen, my Spanish teacher and her husband Pepejesús sat to the side of me, solidarity, support… I answered their questions, and spoke in Spanish about my run across their land, about the metaphor of our lives from birth to death… How we are all on the same journey, that we can support one another and connect, join on the road and walk together in step – and in the step.

I was able to communicate how being in this moment, in this step is all that is required… How life will then unfold in magical and unexpected ways. I quoted Antonio Machado… ‘Caminante, No hay camino…’

Walker, there is no path.

And I spoke these words while living them…

It is way beyond my level of Spanish to be the ‘star’ of a press conference… But it was happening and I was there – so all I could do was trust the moment, stay in the step and let the next take care of itself…

I loved every moment, rich with the tapestry of this mysterious universe unfolding and revealing itself in front of  me

I was asked at one point… ‘What do you think it will be like each day, when you are running across Spain, barefoot…?’

‘Se hace el camino, al andar’, I replied, quoting Antonio Machado once again…

The path is made by walking it…

Train hard; fight is easy…

I was reflecting the other day about my school days… The desks all battered, and bulging with exercise and text books – there was an inkwell in the left hand the corner… And right beside my inkwell, I had stuck a little sticker…

It was a cartoon of a martial artist in a whirl of action… The caption below was ‘train hard; fight is easy’… I liked those words, they worked for me.

In part, this was because I have always been someone who absolutely loves training.

I began a daily exercise routine at just six years old, when I would join my father for this morning squats, press ups and much more… Which he continued to do right until just before his death…

In addition to this, I liked him to accompany me to the playing fields at the weekends… I would get him to time me running the length of them, again and again… In the beginning  it was just because I liked to see what was possible, how fast I could run… Could I run faster…?

At fifteen years old when I started to train in more earnest, this little sticker spoke volumes to me…

It still does…

‘Train hard; fight is easy…’

But… Training hard does not mean pushing hard…

Training hard means applying ourselves consistently progressively and optimally – and loving it!

Last week when I achieved running five days in a row of 25k a day barefoot with relative ease, I recognised that the capacity to do this, has come through training hard for sure…

But that now, the most important thing is… As Chris Finill one of Britain’s top ultra runners, who ran across the United States from the north to the south coast – route 101 – wisely says…

‘Stay out of the red zone…’

He was advised this, before he set off on his epic journey, by someone who had failed in their attempt to cross the states; and it is something I am acutely aware of…

However my innate nature isn’t to push – or to desire to go into the red zone… My nature is definitely to challenge myself and to investigate; to explore to adventure and to see what is possible…

But I certainly far prefer having fun doing so…

As a younger person, I did often push, but this came out of my hurt, my childhood wounding, my pain… I started to push to win approval, to be enough, to be loved.

Of course I learnt – in the end  –  the hard way… Because the push brought break down – always…

And of course, the only way that we can receive love is to love ourselves… As Jesus said ‘Love others AS yourself…’

When we learn to love ourselves, we can become love… And we discover that we naturally love others from this space, and whether we are loved are not becomes unimportant… But of course the paradox is that then love is reflected all around us; from the inside out…

This can of course, be a long road to tread – this road to love.

But in each step we take towards love, the road reveals itself deeper and deeper into our hearts and souls…

And so it was on the running route, as it revealed itself in each step, that I was able to let go of the push and simply enjoy ‘training hard’….

With my body relaxed and in the zone, in the step, in each moment… My soul was set free to fly on land….

Chris said, that he travelled from the North to the South coast of America –  all 2,500kilometres – cautiously….

And I will do the same, from the North coast of Spain to the South coast…

In just over two months we all set off… I say ‘we all’,  because my adventure is now a fiesta; and we are all journeying together from Suances to Almuñécar.

In the same way that we all journey together through this experience of life…

From birth to death…

Treading each step of the way, making the path by walking 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!

 

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…

 

My feet are leading the way!

I had a lovely surprise this morning… Whilst I was getting ready to run, Anadi said ‘Can I come..?’ We haven’t run together since around his birthday on October 7th, due to all manner of circumstances seen and unforeseen.

I have become so accustomed to running alone, and Anadi is very busy with his work, especially since his South Africa trip… So I was just setting off as usual…

I really enjoyed running with him again, the miles passed easily and delightfully through the sandy brown landscape and buildings of Gozo, under a clear blue sky, bright sun; warm air… The smells, somehow reminding me of distant summers past.

I noticed the different qualities in the experiences of running alone and running together…

Together a space for me for ‘run philosophique’, or ‘run silent’, together, just being in the step together, sharing the experience…

Whereas alone it feels to be an uncovering, a discovering in each step more about the step… Feeling the land, being the land… Recognising the universe within, reflected in the moment, and the vista and energy all around… Breathing, being, transforming…

Both states are of such value.

To run together is a connected space; there is nothing ‘getting in the way’. Conversations on the run feel expansive, limitless – like the space they take place in.

I have enjoyed some of my best far reaching and lengthy conversations over long runs; bonding, creating, sharing…

The whole occasion lends itself to possibility; to change, to resolve, to new things being discovered, to problems being solved…

And today, we both ran barefoot on my loop, which magically measures exactly 10k door to door. The roads in Gozo are very bumpy, and rocky and uneven in places, but like last night my body and my feet enjoyed the variety. There was a softness in the air and in the energy… And the familiar sight of a beautiful church every which way we turn, rising up, seeming to embrace us, holding us in their expansive arms.

The Gozo ‘open top site seeing bus’ rumbled by, full to the brim of folk being shown the island, its magical places and its history…

Some of the people noticed our bare feet… Jaws dropping, turning to one another; the naked feet still causing a stir. But I am getting to realise that my feet love this. I am starting to see that this is the plan they had all along. They want to be seen, to be noticed, they are ready…

And then later this morning after my Spanish lesson, Maricarmen said that her husband Pepe Jesus, wanted to speak with me about an interview with the paper, and being filmed for television about my run across Spain…

My feet are getting their way, and they don’t mind a jot that my mouth isn’t quite up to speed with the Spanish speaking bit…

My feet are getting their way and leading the way… !

 

And yesterday I received a book I have been waiting for! ‘This is me, full stop’. It is written by a friend of mine called Phil… It is a wonderful book!I talk about it here…

 

Barefoot Across Spain

I woke at 6.30am  with a plan…

I would go to Teide restaurant with my computer, and there I could set the vlog I made with with Jack to upload, while I ran up and down and round about…Surely it would be done in a couple of hours, even though I was outside the building…?

After 45 minutes, only 4% had uploaded!

I gave up that plan and instead ran off down the mountain with the sun rising over the sparkling white snowy hills.

Last night Jack and I had sat on the balcony of my little white house in the evening sun, all signs of the storm having been blown away across the mountain tops. We spoke about our shared love of journeying for the sake of the journey…

Enjoying it more than arriving…

Because there is no where to get to; there is only now, so journeying is in each and every step and the illusion of a destination is fun and allows for our experiences on planet earth… But the more we are in the step, enjoying the adventure unfolding – then paradoxically this orientation brings us fully to the now, and the experience that there is nothing else.

Jack is the mastermind behind my route to run barefoot across Spain and I am delighted that he has spoken about the process he is involved in with Maggie his wife to plot the course… He shares with us in the vlog his love of Spain, his passion for geography, for travelling – how he was influenced as a young person… And he has started to paint a picture of what is ahead of me – for all of us – as I venture into the unknown to run from the North to the South coast of Spain in my bare feet…

I was running along the mountain road and my spirit was soaring, the light was bathing me and the whole mountain in magic, and my heart felt so open to this land that also loves to challenge me and strip me bare, when suddenly I heard a sound.

I turned and below me two little mountain goats were skittering and leaping elegantly across the rocks. They stopped and looked up at me… Two little faces and I loved them so…

‘I love you’ – I whispered and they kept standing, watching me…

I recounted the story to Maricarmen my Spanish teacher later… She was the person who alerted me to the Spanish way of describing a different or eccentric person… ‘Como una cabra’ like a goat… When I finished my tale she said…

‘You were altogether, the three of you…’ and then she and I laughed, but it felt the truth… I was with my two little friends on the mountain side ?