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?”…’

 

The road less travelled…

I like my Hilton home; It is very comfortable indeed. I love my 24 hour  gym, right on my doorstep. I love feeling warm all the time, the deep hot bath, and the huge bed with clean sheets.

It feels almost like my ‘checking in’ point; where Anadi and I return to get further instructions (mail) and new clothes, vitamin pills, (parcels) anything that might be needed for our next mission

We are given warmth and comfort, and food in any many of restaurants to choose from in the airport, and the hotel itself… And then off we go for our next adventure!

Given that we are often in sunny climes, this might all appear rather strange… But as we tend to like warm countries out of season, where the evenings and nights are colder, and the buildings are not really set up for cold… They are more designed to keep cool in extreme heat.

There is something about the nomadic life for me that lends itself to always being open, never the opportunity to sink into any illusion…

When I was running today, I reflected on how running training – or any practising – is the absolute metaphor for the path disappearing behind us; and reminds that we make our path in life by walking it.

When a musician stands on stage and performs in an awe inspiring way, we do not see him or her trail onto stage with them, the hours and hours and hours of practise; all of that has vanished like the wake that the boat leaves, which vanishes – and the musician stands transparent on the stage.

Yesterday I added up the miles I had run over the past 20 weeks – because I have recorded them each day I was able to do this – to discover that for 20 weeks I have averaged 48 miles of barefoot running a week… All of it has vanished, but through running the path, it has revealed itself to me in the form of increased fitness, and new directions…

Along the way, ‘Barefoot Across Spain’ emerged as my bare steps became stronger and more and more adventurous…

I am on the train to Lewes, it is a sparkling bright sunny November day…. I recognise glorious Sussex and the many happy years I spent here, the Downs flash by, sun glinting through the orange brown golden trees; how I love this land… How I treasure the miles I covered on those green hills; the path I made by running them has brought me here and I cannot turn back, nor do I desire to; i treasure the road of of my life unfolding

Later…

I have just spent a wonderful time in Lewes… It is a town I know so well – I have spent a lot of time in coffee shops there right back from the late 80’s when I first moved to the area…

I can remember Bill’s restaurant when it was a small fruit and veg shop with a few tables for wonderful coffee and cake; we watched it expand, my friends and I, when we met there over the weeks months and years – to a much bigger coffee shop and now of course Bill’s can be found in towns all over Britain…

Going back to the same place and seeing the changes is an interesting experience. I know the streets and I know the feel of the place; some of it is unchanged, some of it is expanding, growing, developing…

but I was aware of a newness, as if I was there for the first time. New – yet the same – a huge history of time spent and yet only the moment.

I spent a wonderful lunch time with Kathy and then coffee with Ange… Two people who I met at almost the same time…

Many years ago – almost twenty – here we are with all those shared years and we meet now, all joining in a project – Barefoot Across Spain…!

The fact that I am barefoot now seems entirely natural to us all… I arrived at Lewes Station in my sparkling jangley barefoot sandals given to me by my friend Fi- on a bright crisp, quite cold November day… Kathy scooped me up and admired by sparkly feet and whisked me to lunch in Pelham house, a beautiful refined hotel, delightful delicious dining…

Kathy is the chair of Friends of Sussex Hospices and over the years I have witnessed the amazing work she has done; but also the fun she has generated in the projects and her heart… Her heart has been at the centre of all she does, and I am delighted to be sharing in a project with her…  And my bare feet lead the way!

I now have no discomfort within me now when I wander the land barefoot; it is the path I am treading and it is opening huge vistas of untrod lands to me, and meeting with Kathy and Ange highlighted the friendship and love I am receiving on my road less travelled…

Ange and I have been meeting in the Real Eating Company for the past 15 years… We have a tradition of eating almond croissant with our coffee… It is part of our meet up – and I have not discovered almond croissants to compare outside the UK – yet!

But I enjoy it as something I do in the UK and always with Ange – like the tostadas y aceite are a part of what I do in Spain.

Food and connection to the land we are in, to the people there and to each other, is one of the joyous ways we humans connect and share and have fun!

Eating and drinking, loving and laughing together all over the world.

 

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…

 

Rediscovering our lightness…

I drove down from my mountain retreat to sunny Malaga airport… It was like driving to another land…

The sun shone bright orange warm… I parked my car and raced to arrivals as my friend Ange’s plane landed… And then there she was, having arrived in another place, so far away from an England now in so many ways, a landscape and climate so different as storm Brian started to make the announcement of his arrival in the UK …

We chatted as we drove along the open road, towards a vista of mountains, blue sky and sun… Before we knew it Almuñecar welcomed us into her now familiar bosom, enclosing us both in Friday night Spanish chatter, warmth and the sound of the lapping sea…

This morning we ran along the promenade, and it was hard to imagine just a few days ago I had been wrapped up in a shawl feeling the cold, while a mountain  thunder storm danced, played and crashed around my rocky scenes with insistent and enthusiastic energy.

Once again, I stepped into the barefoot step and almost forgot my mountain retreat; my croaky voice a reminder, but the day here the only one… The time with Ange immediate and as if we only had a coffee together last week…

A few of my things are still in my little white house, and I am aware that my energy however is very slightly in two places. I  said to Ange that every so often I have a sense of ‘having forgotten something’… A slightly strange Alice in wonderland like dream state and a ‘mad’ feeling of  – ‘did I remember to organise for someone to feed the (non- existent!) cat…’

It demonstrates to me, how much the nomadic life works for me, to be walking barefoot on the planet and living exactly where I am; completely here and now. And how so often as human beings we are ‘two places at once’ without being aware of it… In fact probably many places!

It is the practise of being fully here that allows us to experience our human journey at a far more profound level… Because nothing else actually exists except the reflection of our energy, and if it isn’t in our reflection then it isn’t there… So the more we are present to where we are, the more we have the experience of connection and a deep relaxation, because the connection is to our deepest selves. Not our conscious illusionary self, but the eternal truth of who we are…

As we set off to run along the seafront today, I briefly wondered what my body would feel like with all the change of location, climate, altitude… But I felt so good. I felt light, my legs felt light… This has been my increasing experience since I have been barefoot. There is a lightness in my body, in my footfall and in my legs…

After breakfast Ange was reading from her Scaravelli yoga book, and she found this paragraph that summed up exactly for me the experience I am having as I tread the planet…

‘Locking our legs in positions disturbs the dynamic connections through the legs and feetWe can learn how to use our legs better from cultures where walking barefoot and sitting on the ground are a way of life.
With intelligent use of the body, the legs can rediscover their lightness.

Many of us may not have experienced this since we were infants…’

Feeling light in our bodies and in our legs is the natural state; being able to move with agility and ease, flexibility and the joyous delight of experiencing ourselves through our bodies…

Pain is the aberration; ease the natural state – but pain is also a communicator and if we follow its messages and resist not listening to it through with denial, because we become ‘used to it’ – or distraction with stories that this is ‘natural’ in the ageing process, or blocking it with pain killers… Then with time and patience we can explore a re discovery or discovery of a greater lightness within our body – as if it were for the first time because we may have forgotten the feeling…

The feeling of lightness in the legs, in all of the body and so enjoy a freer journey on planet earth; and even if the shifts are only fractional it is worth the process and practise…

Ange and I swam later and we enjoyed again the magical healing properties of the mediterranean sea… We sat chatting on the sand about the journey ahead that emerged from within me… To run barefoot right through the middle of Spain and about Ange’s pledge with her daughter Pru and Ruby to support the cause to raise money for FSH – Friends of Sussex Hospices – by doubling every penny that is raised… She spoke of how the hospices supported her family at the end of her father’s life 7 years ago –  and how she now wants to support me raising money for the cause.

And so it is… We all have our gifts emerging through our unique vibration, we are all completely different in our own energetic make up, and if we  trust in our own expression then the way is clear for us all to support and love one another as we adventure on this unknown life path….

Barefoot Across Spain! Update on the preparations…

My journey will start in March 2018 on the Northern Coast of Spain in Suances. I will journey, running barefoot, down through Spain arriving in Almuñecar on the South Coast. I aim to arrive on my 59th birthday in May!
Being barefoot connects me to the earth and to myself and to the awareness of each moment as I tread my own life journey.
I have always worked deeply in the lives of others, helping them to face themselves in life and death. Therefore it feels natural for me to be raising money to aid the transition of adults and children in their journey from life to death.

Barefoot for a year…

Following on my my blog yesterday, here is my story of being  barefoot for a year, in a page…

 I was walking along Famara beach in Lanzarote with my husband Anadi… I love that beach. It is sandy and expansive, with a backdrop of volcanic cliffs, magical in their colour and stature.
The beach is 5k long when the tide is low, and very popular with surfers and kite surfers…

I was watching the surfers warming up… I loved watching them carrying out all their exercises and then they started to jog along the beach in a pack…

‘I wonder…’ I thought…

‘I wonder’, I said to Anadi ‘whether running barefoot would work for me…’

I started with just over a mile on the beach… Nothing in my body hurt.

It was September 9th and we were staying on Lanzarote Island until the end of September. I kept going back to the beach because when I tried to run on the road in my shoes, my legs still hurt with nerve pain from the injury I had sustained 6 weeks earlier in the Alpujarra mountains …

But barefoot I was free…

On the last day of our time there, I was trying to run around the running track in my shoes; but it hurt… A woman and her child appeared and lapped the blue asphalt track barefoot.
I took my shoes off and ran free…
I left my running shoes in the apartment, and travelled home with only my vivobarefoot shoes that I liked to walk around in…
I recognized that I barefoot was finding me; but I still ordered some Nike frees as I felt I would need them to transition…

The shoes never arrived and so as I was only in the UK for a short time I started to run in the vivobarefoot shoes…

I only ran ten times in October as my legs were very tired after each run in the very light shoes… I went to the gym a lot and my body and feet started to thrive…

Through November and December I got used to running in my barefoot shoes, and my completely bare feet when there was sand to run on…

I then read about beach socks….

So in January I ordered the socks and gave all my vivobarefoot shoes to my friend Jane…  Since then I have owned no shoes, and by February I had shed the socks too; made easier by my nomadic lifestyle and often being in sunny climes!

I listened to my feet…

I had let go of any goals in terms of mileage or running races… Before I was injured in July 2016 a lot of our travels had been to places where I could run a race… I was often winning the over 55 age group, and having a lot of fun…

My feet let all this go as they set off to run barefoot again…

I set myself no mileage aims, and I exercised my body with stretching and some strength and conditioning too, and noticed it aligning more and more… Long term pain and stiffness in my left hip left; long term knee pain faded and is till fading. My left arch that had dropped started to lift again and is still gaining in strength…

My feet lead me; when the left foot needed to do less we did all did less; when my body and my feet needed to walk we walked…

I started to love my running in a new way – it was like the childhood joy had returned; I went ‘playing’ rather than ‘training’ and once again I felt more like a conduit for the run rather than trying to chase something…

Ten weeks ago I noticed that my feet had run 40 miles in a week, unbidded by me…

I was starting to feel fit again and at the same time my friend Katie contacted me to say she was running a race in Valencia in November… I entered the 10k and committed to ten more weeks on 40 miles, to build some race fitness – which has built to 50 in the last three weeks; my feet are loving it – my body too…!

During that time, the idea came to run for ‘Friends of sussex Hospices’ from the North coast of Spain next spring, planning to arrive on the South coast in Almuñecar on my 59th birthday…

The idea came from my feet!
It certainly wasn’t from me ?

Week one done….

I have just come of a Skype call meeting with Maggie… She and her husband Jack are plotting my route across Spain

It was fun to connect and share progress over ‘El Plan…’

It is just one week since I announced that I am now officially in training to be capable of running barefoot across Spain next spring…!

I am running to raise money for FSH – the Friends of Sussex hospice, as well to raise awareness of end of life care…

And within bringing greater awareness to the end of our life journey, I am also recognize that this brings us to a keener connection to our life; to how we live… For in fully facing that there is an end to our journey here; we bring more awareness and focus on the fact that when we reach the end of our days, we look back at a life fully lived…

In the words of Mark Twain

‘The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who fully lives is prepared to die at any time…’

To fully live, we need to be fully ourselves as from this place we intrinsically know how we would like to spend our time here.

None of us know the path another treads and so the more we are connected to ourselves and to our own life… The more we can celebrate the choices others make; even if they may not be the same as ours…

Last October I recognized that I needed a break from working the way I was; so in May I started a sabbatical that has turned into a completely new life; and now is seeing me take up a challenge which I am excited about; and reflects me living out my own true steps; barefoot ones it turns out!

In following my hearts calling; already others are following me onto the road between Suances Cantrabria to Almunecar, 1004k away…

Our connection was quite broken today as the internet wasn’t so strong; but this didn’t prevent us feeling the excitement of an idea already starting to have life and an energy all of its own.

We are looking at me running blocks of 5 days were I cover 25k a day; I am not sure how we came up with the 25k per day amount… I think I listened to some inner wisdom!?

We are planning a rest on the 6th day and then off again…

As yet, I have no experience of running barefoot for long distances day after day… And I haven’t run one run of 25k yet… My longest barefoot run is 22k; and to date in a five day block, my highest tally has just occurred…I covered 35 miles since and including Sunday…

My blocks of running are to be more than double that…!

But 7 weeks ago, my body and feet communicated to me themselves that they were ready for more consistent running…

And I have 7 months of preparation ahead until ‘El Plan’ commences at the end of March…

Each week, I will be doing a live update on Facebook. I did my first today which due to unreliable internet here in Morocco was a bit broken up!

My next one will be on Friday August 25th at 8am BST, I am looking forward to meeting with you then!

Today, August 17th, is the 23rd anniversary of my Dad leaving his body… I was talking about him this morning with Anadi over breakfast…

I remembered him saying to me…’Darling, I think you would be marvellous on television’!

I believe he would enjoy seeing all I am doing, he loved my natural running action and was saddened to see it tighten as tension took me over with the pressure I put myself under to succeed….

Now he would see me running in the way i did as a young girl, with the same freedom in my running action and the same joy in my soul –  and with my own television channel! 🙂