This is us, full stop.

Another plane blog… I am flying off to Lanzarote with Anadi for Christmas…

Eighteen days in the UK has passed in a blink of an eye, and yet landing at Gatwick two and a half weeks ago, feels now like it might have been five years ago.

And when I met up with my godbrother Phil on Saturday- who I actually haven’t seen for five years – it was as if we had simply run out of hours on our last ‘get together’ – and had therefore arranged to meet for a coffee and cake a few days later to pick up where we had left off…

Time does not exist in any linear sense… This is all that I conclude from this.

If we are fully where we are at any given time, and reflect on the images and events around us, we will see ourselves therein – this is the only measure of time as we know it – do we recognise a cycle? Are we ‘here again’? – or does the landscape look different – or do we feel glad of the sameness and view it with delight, because we are living the life we truly want to be living.

I haven’t seen Phil in all that time, and in truth the wedding day of our mutual friends Steph and Nick – all that time ago – is the only time we have met.

But we immediately recognised a kindred spirit in one another then.

We sat beside one another at the wedding breakfast and then later on danced and talked – and then danced and talked some more – and I declared my heartfelt love for his open heart and his shining spirit.In being together again this weekend, it was evident that the connection is real and profound… So the time apart is not of importance; our relationship didn’t whither and die just because we didn’t spend time together….

In fact it has thrived. After we met we wrote to one another and acknowledged our appreciation of the meeting and of one another – then there was a natural space and we were not in touch…

Phil then ‘found me’ on linkedin…!

And on Saturday we journeyed through the portal, from our ‘electronic communication’, to meeting on a cold and wintery day at Finsbury Park Tube station – and we have been left with the delightful sense there is more to explore and create together…

It was a wonderful, funny, profundo, creative and celebratory time that we spent together…

There is no limit to love, it is expansive and all encompassing – Love is freedom.

If we do not feel free, it is not love.

Both in our relating and within ourselves.

If we love someone we let them go… In all senses of the word.

If we love ourselves we will free ourselves – and then of course it follows – that there will not be an ounce within us that would desire to hold onto another human being…

Phil is the author of ‘This is me, full stop.’ And this is the vlog we made together…

Birthday brunch in Bronte

This morning I ran down to the cricket field – my socks already have holes in them after 20 miles… But I decided they have a few more yet to run…

I arrived on the wet green grass, under a grey cloudy December day… And an unexpected impromptu interval session emerged… I ran 8 x 5 minutes with a minute jog, around and around the circumference of the field. I enjoyed it a lot.

The more running I do, the stronger and fitter I feel… Rather an obvious thing to write of course; but it is more noticeable for me now that I am ‘starting all over again’ in my new barefoot life.

It feels that miracles are occurring within my body simply through repetition rather than aggression… And of course the repetition can at times feel rather relentless… I reflected on this irony as I stepped into the cold British weather today – that my wish as a younger person, to be able to run forever, has come true…

I felt sadness then that my art, my expression in the running step must come to an end; I envied other artists whose mediums were through palette and brush stroke, or voice – actors artists musicians – and I identified with the hours of practise to perfect their art… I mourned early that mine was a short artistic life…

But now I find that this is not the case.

Perfecting my art is limitless and endless, and I am still learning my trade; deepening it, investigating it through repeating the steps day after day after day.

My meditation on the move

Later…

I am just back from a brilliant birthday brunch with Fi… I enjoyed it so much, celebrating with my friend – life a celebration.

We met in Bronte which is on the Strand near Nelson’s column…  When I look up at the famous structure, I can never help but remember Rowan Atkinson’s sketch, when he acted an outraged French tourist seeing sex organs all over London…

“The Post Office Tower? PAH! It is the Post Office prick! Prince Charles gets married in St Paul’s Cathedral, which looks like an enormous titty! The biggest titty in the world! Nelson’s column? PAH! It is Nelson’s willy!”

I have never been able to think of it as anything else since…

Fi and I had so much fun; we laughed a lot, which is an overriding memory I have of our runs together – we were often stopped in our tracks, bent double with laughter… And we affirmed today too, the value of those long slow fun miles – and the amazing magic effect they have on running form, almost without even realising it…

Here is our vlog from our meet up; of course I wore special jewels on my bare feet for the occasion….

In celebration of love, life and enduring friendship…

I love our ‘Larder’ London experiences, when we land in Winchmore hill we take up residency in the ‘The Larder’… Coffee shop life is the life for me, especially after 11 miles of running on a cold December morning!

We turned up on Michael’s doorstep in the first week he opened, two and a half years ago, and when we are here I feel that I don’t want to ever leave…

But I recognise this as an essential part of my energy, in that it is at home wherever it is… When I am there, I don’t want to be here, and when I am here I don’t want to be there.

And the person I am with is the person I want to be with more than anyone in the world; I start to miss them the moment we part… But then time does its magic thing, and expands and stretches and I live other lives with other people… Until our own unique orbit comes around again – and then it becomes evident that there is no separation, no gaps; that the connection, the love the dialogue is ongoing and endless.

And all of this occurs by opening up the space within us, that is silent and endless and limitless and true love itself… For true love embraces all and everything – and there is no limit to its capacity.

And this experience can only be found through an inner journey, which often looks like an outer one, as we delve in and in and in, through our experiences and relationships here on planet earth. It is necessary to live this life to discover our source, from where we have all come.

But of course it is not for us to rush ourselves or others. There can be no rush in an opening or a blossoming; or a remembering or a reclaiming. We must live and experience and work it all out, not through the mind for this is not possible… We work things out by first living them out, and after awhile, maybe many, many, many lives we start to see patterns and possibilities of transformation – and then we start to work it out, as we remember who we truly are.

Last night I had a wonderful evening with my friend Debbie… We met 25 years ago and after a few years, we used to say that we would treat ourselves to dinner at the OXO tower when we had ‘made it’ … We didn’t particularly identify what ‘making it’ was…

Debs was an aspiring young business woman – she is very courageous, innovative and determined – one of her business ideas was on Dragon’s Den! And she is now unequivocally a successful business woman… So that felt reason enough… We rejoiced too in our friendship of 25 years – and celebrated that after quite some ‘research’ and ‘investigation’, done with the hope that we would discover how to be in relationship with a man, where we were happy and didn’t want to leave…

That here we are… Enjoying that experience…

And so we decided now was the time… !

What fun we had… Delicious dinner in the OXO tower and then walking along the Southbank, me in my bare feet with sparkly jewels on, the walk way full of people and energy; through Borough market – and then up to floor 52 at the top of the Shard to drink cocktails… Celebrating love and life and enduring friendship… In allegedly one of the most prestigious cocktail bars in London

We left as a Lamborghini and a red Ferrari drew up – people living out and working out lifetimes on planet earth in all sorts of fascinating and varied ways .

Little Red…

I am sitting on the terrace in the afternoon sun; Jane and I are thinking that it will soon be time for coffee; our breakfast went on until lunchtime and then we went on a shopping spree just as the shops were closing for Spanish siesta…!

But it meant we had a nice walk and then came back to where we had eaten breakfast, and have been happily whiling the time away here ever since.

Today I discovered an endless road, it climbed up and up and up into the hills. I had arranged to meet Jane and Anadi for breakfast at 10.30, but realised I wouldn’t quite make it back in time…

I texted them both and then raced off back down the hill, celebrating the joy of my new life, where I am free to run and run and meet my friends ( late!!)  for breakfast that goes on all morning.

The long road wound its way into the hills and seemed to disappear into a new possible future, and represented my life now.

It feels like a new beginning and although I am not quite yet 60, I am on my way there and I am excited about the re birth this brings, in Japanese culture…

Maricarmen has told me all about this… She and her husband lived there for some years and the 60th birthday is a re birth called kanreki, which goes back to Japan’s adoption of the Chinese zodiac calendar. On reaching 60 it is traditional to receive a red cap, and vest, that mark having completed a full cycle of the twelve-pronged zodiac calendar.

New born babies are also wrapped in red and called ‘little red one’ – and at 60 years old, the celebrated individual enters a new stage of life with all the joy and possibilities of a newborn.

I loved hearing about this tradition and it feels very fitting for me at the moment, when I have within me a sense of new beginnings, new possibilities… Everything as if it is just beginning; and my 60th birthday only 18 months away!

‘I am looking forward to being sixty’,  I said to Maricarmen, this week, and then I shared with her a story from last weekend when I flew to Valencia. I sat on the plane with two young women Hannah, and Jess both 27 years old. they were on their way to run the marathon… I told them my little red story, because I was explaining the excitement I have for my ‘new running career’… It transpired that their mothers’ are a similar age to me, one is 60 already and the other 57.

Both young women said that they were eager to share the Japanese tradition with their mothers, when they returned home after their marathon…

Maricarmen echoed my enthusiasm… ‘Yes’, she said, ‘I am too very excited to reach 60 and start all over again…’

Later on, she was  watching me make a note in my book and she commented that I have now completed a year with each of my 3 new challenges… Being barefoot, learning Spanish and writing with my left hand…

‘You will need some new challenges…’ she laughed…

‘No no…’ I said,  ‘I have only just begun with these three, I have only just set off…’

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?”…’

 

Running Crazy in Valencia…

Anadi and I have just wandered back bathed in blue from above; such a vivid azul that the sky feels touchable, so bright and clear and expansive…

Today we rose rather early as the race start was at 8.30am, and even two days back in the UK had adjusted my body clock somewhat, so it was like a 7.30am start… Early, but fun.

We met with Malcolm in the foyer of the hotel and he guided us to the race start. It is one of the things I love about Running Crazy trips; no planning or finding out needed. Malcolm does it all for us…

And so we made our way with the crowds over the bridge to where the throng of people were gathering… So many people, but I liked it.

I notice so much has changed within me over time. I didn’t used to like standing in a huge crowd; and there was always a vestige of anxiety about the possibility of tripping and falling amongst so many runners all tearing off at once.

We had to be in our pen, 20 minutes before the start, quite a long time to be huddled together…

But I was very relaxed, the sun shone. I enjoyed the music of the Spanish language all around me, and the time till the gun went flew by.

The race itself was a delight. I was glad of my Skinner’s socks as it meant I could concentrate on running fast, without being slowed by any of the metal bits across the road, ouchie stretches or cobbled parts. I was able to just run…

I felt amazing. The pace was comfortable and I crossed the line in 44.31 – and I ran a very unusual way for me; the second 5k was almost 30 seconds faster than the first. I am usually the other way round!

It highlights that long slow distance is a good way of training my body. I have averaged 48 miles a week for 20 weeks and have hardly done any interval training; and the times I have thrown a bit in, have certainly not been at the pace I ran today!

Many of my barefoot miles are very slow distance indeed, as I walk the ouchie bits and only run faster on clear stretches of beach or grass or really flat road.

Anadi and I were chatting about my result as we walked back from the race finish. ‘It’s because you’ve cleared the tension’, he said, ‘it’s created the space for the run to just come out of you…’

And it has. I keep saying that since shedding my shoes, it feels like I have a whole new running career ahead of me; I feel as if the past is nothing to do with me. It is a story I can tell if I am asked, but it has no hold.

The story of our life can be a heavy weight, especially the longer we have been here! But although I can remember it, it feels as if I am shedding everything that I ever associated as  me and in its place is limitless possibility, freedom of expression and love of the moment, my fellow human being, the friends I make at every turn, and carrot cake and coffee! ?

Anadi and I are going to jog around the park now in the late afternoon sun, and take in the energy of this beautiful City. I get to know a place by running it, being in it, breathing it and feeling it.

Today I ran through the history of it; I am not a natural site seer, but I love to be in a place, merge into the energy and experience the place I have landed in.

And what better way than running through it with thousands of other human beings; doing what we love; being in the step!

 

There is no rush…

Today I went for another treatment with Gerhard and noticed how willing my being and body was to surrender another layer of the tension – of the holding – which shows up in the left side of my body …

I have been clearing the restriction here for thirty years now…
And I have come to see that my body has only let go when it’s been ready to let go…We can only resolve when we are ready to resolve – and before that, however strange it might seem – we might be here to live out the drama or tension and experience this our life this way. It might be the only way we can let go – to first experience the opposite…

 

To experience  joy we might need to know sorrow deeply and well. To experience  ease we might need to feel dis ease…
And as Gerhard said the body needs to open and to melt – and it is the whole being that must give…
There was a time when I had a lot of stories to go with the process in my left side – and these were an important part of the inner clearing work for me…

 

I needed to understand and get insight through my mind …
But of course this is limited, and in truth has the potential to keep the pain stuck in the body and the being as we can ‘become’ the story of our pain, both physical and emotional…

 

We can become more and more interested in the process, and the patterns and the insights – but in the end there comes a time to just ‘let it all go.’

 

Nowadays I don’t have much of a story, although when Gerhard does the initial clearing process he does ask questions. These are not to be in dialogue with him about – but for our own self inquiry and shattering of the old patterns – but the images and ideas that arise are fleeting and purely help with the immediate accessing; and now I can’t really remember them…

 

But I could feel a further releasing occurring and part of me feels I would like to go every single day!

 

Gerhard and I made a vlog together and I asked him about living on Gozo. He told me that it is a space for him to come back to himself; that there are no distractions and so he must be with himself and listen to his inner voice to his heart – with nothing to take him outside of himself…
He emphasised it is necessary for us all… To eventually return to ourselves and to be with ourselves…

 

This is the journey we are all on – but there is no rush… Things of the spirit happen in their own time.

 

We cannot rush it anymore than we can rush the turning of the tide…

 
 
 

The turquoise sea…

The turquoise sea was our background music… The sound ever present, but ever soothing, gentle but wild…

We sat the three of us on a terrace, the day warm, with only a slight chill from the grey clouds. But we were wrapped up warm and sat for three hours, eating talking sharing – enjoying the space of exploration and stimulating honest conversation about ourselves, our lives our thoughts and feelings…

When I have a treatment with Gerhard, there is no talking – which I love – it is all about the energetic space and receiving; total bliss… Which is why lunch seemed such a good idea… To enjoy the connection we have, but with words – conversation – and over food!

Gerhard asked me today to remind him how we met… It was two years ago; I was looking for a sports massage and a waiter in a restaurant gave me two names. I chose Gerhard and have been going back ever since, every time we visit the island…

We lunched at Otters in Marsalforn; Anadi said as we left that he’d really enjoyed himself, how quickly the time had gone – and how he’d had lots of flash backs to his childhood times there.

But that they felt more like a past life.

It is always interesting to me how important it is to always be availale and aware of how much we don’t know; where we may still be holding on to ways of thinking or being that do not serve us, that may have come from way back in past lives – and revealed themselves early on in this life…

There was something in the dialogue today when Gerhard and I were sharing the restrictive aspects of our younger years, that shone the light on where there was still lurking a faint veil of puritanism… The whisper of a voice that says seeking happiness or enjoying things on this planet is somehow to be shunned, and that the life of ‘sack cloth and ashes’ and abstinence is ‘the way’…!

Now, in truth this does not obviously show itself in my love of life, but in our dialogue today I caught sight of it, and I was able to catch it by the tail and pull it out from wriggling back into my unconscious.

A part that says ‘I shouldn’t be happy’, and ‘I shouldn’t really engage in things that make me happy’… Now of course as you may witness, I don’t live that way. I live a life doing and being and having things that do make me happy…

I have challenged the constraints of the religion I was brought into, of the messages that life is ‘hard earnest difficult’… I have trodden my own path, and found how to live with joy, to have fun, to experience freedom…

But the point is that if within me there is still a slight voice of dissent, of disapproval… Then that voice will be dampening the possibility of absolute joy – of having the most fun… It will be taking energy – slightly holding back the freedom of expression.

We are on an earthly journey and there is much to enjoy… Like lovely food, and running and cappuccinos ?

This morning Anadi joined me again, and we ran 5 miles, which made my weekly mileage 50 again. We did some stretches of fartlek as we ran, which was fun and fluid and flowing… I am enjoying building my running form in stages… Holding steady at 50 miles feels a good way to deepen the progress I have made since July.

This week, my training felt almost too easy… That feels to be a good sign.

When we build and build, and listen to the body, when we listen to every part of our being; then we start to accomplish super human things and they feel easy… When things feel too hard, there is no way we will keep them going. Our endeavours take on the energy of a campaign…

And the nature of campaigns is that they always come to an end.

So campaigns have their place, of course – but it is important that we are keenly aware that if we are in a stretch that feels like a big effort, to recognise that there will be a time span, that it won’t go on forever…

The more aware we are, and available to notice this, and work with this…

The more we can make sure we are always building and not breaking down!

 

Run and Cafe philosophique…

I am on the train to Gatwick from Eastbourne…

I have had the richest most fabulous 24 hours… I love and treasure relationship and it has been my lifelong joy – to connect, to engage and to love.

I have less time now than when I lived in England to physically enjoy the connections that were forged through weeks and years of sharing time and experiences… And so when I have 24 hours where I am able to catch up with those I love, it is sacred space to have spent this magic pocket of time …

When I am with someone, there is nothing else… And because I don’t experience time in the way in a linear way exactly; each space is an extension of the ongoing dialogue that was started many years ago…

I have just been dropped off at the station by my friend Haze – we had a wonderful lunch at the Grand – my second home when I go to Eastbourne… Although of course I don’t have a first home!

We have known each other 24 years and there is an implicit trust in our connection, the never ending conversation… Even though we hadn’t seen one another since July, our ‘charlando’ took off like it had never stopped, as if we had just drawn breath for a moment – or taken a sip of coffee – and then on we went.

And yesterday evening I met there with Janey; we have a relationship that is both professional and personal and the contexts for each allow the other to be more expansive, more profound, limitless.

I have always loved to meet in the Grand hotel in Eastbourne as it has privacy within its comfy chairs and secluded corners, discreet and attentive service…. While Janey and I were together a woman approached… ‘Julia’ she said, I didn’t immediately recognise her, but she introduced herself ‘Robin’ and immediately I was back to our encounter ten years ago… We met, because I interviewed her for a podcast. We enjoyed a connected and special two hours…. She follows my exploits now, she said – and our chance meeting delighted us both. I gave her the foot jewels that Wendy had given me, and she said that she would like to write about me…

The serendipity felt wonderful, exciting…

This morning I rose early and was outside at 6.30am to meet my friend Matt to run… We covered ten miles and the time passed in a flash of our continuing dialogue, a friendship built over the past 6 or 7 years; the dialogue never ending… There may be what we perceive as pauses, but time does not exist and love is infinite and all encompassing…

There is no limit to love, or time – and so the dialogues are all existing on different threads and the more present we are to ourselves, connected to our core – our truth – then there is limitless capacity for love and relationship.

True love is infinite, eternal never ending… It never disconnects, judges, is jealous or unkind… It simply keeps growing and growing, expanding as the time and relationships expand and grow…

After breakfast I walked barefoot through the town, a little chilly, but still enjoyable. A man stopped me to give me a warning about the dangers of not wearing shoes. I listened to him, and thanked him – but his words didn’t resonate with my feet. They have another way and it is their way I follow…

My friend Jim was parking his bike outside Urban ground coffee shop – our ‘coffee crawl’ started there and finished in Beanzz… There was a time when Jim and I spent 12 hours a week together…

All of it running! Training for ultras… ‘I wish we had recorded our conversations’, Jim mused today…

But they are carrying on… We pick up where we left off because of the sharing we had then, the understanding, the exploration; the stage is already set to talk some more…

Café philosophique instead of run philosphique! Although we agreed today there is more running yet to be done…

‘No hay camino…’

Today Maricarmen read me a poem because it was the last day of my intensive…

The three weeks have felt to be a very special and transformative time… Maricarmen and I have spoken a lot about not making plans, about allowing things to emerge; about letting the path unfold in each step…

This has been very evident in learning Spanish… The more I travel the path, the more I see how long it is… But then I return to now, to the place I am, to the foot print I am making – to the unfolding of this path that doesn’t exist until I tread it.

When I learnt to speak English, I never looked ahead at all the people who could talk fluently, who could read and write, who knew words I didn’t… So why would it be any different now?

The poem she read to me is written by the Spanish poet Antonio Machado and the name of the poem is

‘Caminante, Hay no camino’… Walker, there is no path…

I loved the poem, where the poet is speaking of there only being a path when we tread it….

‘Caminante, son tues huellas
el camino y nada mâs;
caminante, no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar

Which in English reads thus : Walker, the road is your footprints and nothing else; walker, there is no path. the path is made by walking…

He describes how when we look back at the path we have trodden, there is no going back. It does not exist and it is like the wake left by a boat on the sea… It disappears behind us as we walk…

It was vey resonant too for my path I didn’t plan… To run barefoot across Spain; the plan planned me… And I am following.

I know not truly know why I am doing this thing, how it came about – or where it is leading… The idea seemed to come from my feet… Because I see that the path is being revealed with each barefoot step I take…

We all have paths to tread, each one unique, and there is a joining together through these footprints across Spain… Many people, many paths, many lives connecting and journeying together…

And I am reminded again to simply walk the path…

Run the path… It is being made by running…