Solitude and Silence

Alone in the mountains in Spain, there is much opportunity to be silent. There is a stillness too that is almost tangible.

Today for four hours I was walking and running along the sandy, rocky, stony tracks and up steep steep climbs; while rain clouds gathered and swirled, dark blue, grey and low about the mountain tops.

I ran through wet misty air, all alone, no-one else; the sweeping grandeur all about….

There was a rustle in the trees – and suddenly just in front of me appeared a wild boar, followed closely by three more… Across my path and down the steep mountain side they went. I was very near them, shiny black robust – and then they were gone.

Hours and hours alone, moving easily allows for everything to disappear, and for the watcher to watch the running…

Later I drank coffee in the little bar where I had begun my day with coffee too… The circle complete. Spanish voices telling me about wild boar – jabalí… I understood most, but not all of the conversation; lending itself to the dream like quality of my time here in the Alpujarras…

 

Feeling free and having fun….

I am sitting in the launderette watching our clothes whirl around in lots of bubbles and soapy suds.

I am having such fun, I arrived here to find a guy in bare feet doing his washing.

I went over to an empty machine, and was busy in the corner trying to make it work, but it wasn’t giving me a program to choose, and I was a bit confused and kept re reading the instructions to see if I had missed something…

The young man came over and told me the machine was broken, but that if I didn’t mind waiting his washing was finishing in 4 minutes…

We started to chat and I discovered that he is in the middle of a 3 month journey on his bike all alone. He has cycled from Belgium and he is following the coast around the edge of Spain covering 70 kilometres a day…

He doesn’t speak Spanish, but he says he doesn’t need to, he can say please and thank you and is able to get food – and he says he doesn’t need to speak much…

He has a tent with a cover for rain and a cover for mosquitos and in 7 weeks he has only used the mosquito net. He told me that he lies at night and looks at the stars, and he listens to the animals around him, and that he is free.

His name is Felix, he is 19 years old and has just finished his studies. He told me that his plan when he gets back to Belgium is to start work, and then keep travelling.

Felix told me that he likes being barefoot, I asked him what it is about it he enjoys….

He says he likes to feel the floor, and that it is fun.

He does have some shoes as he is covering many kilometers, but has also been cycling in flip flops for some of the time; he was joined by 4 Italian guys at one stage, who were incredulous at the guy cycling in flips flops…!

He told me too, how when he was at school he shed his shoes and that every student looked at him, and the head teacher ‘told him off…’

I have invited him to come and find us in Spain next year and join me for some barefoot running – He might well appear…

‘It’s fun’ of course struck a chord with me… ‘Have fun darling’ was the legacy my mother left me; and I am certainly doing that, even or especially in the launderette!

This morning when I was running around the park alone, I had a feeling of immense freedom. I was aware that over the past few years there has been a deeper surrendering to giving myself permission to run and have fun.

I have always done both things of course…

But there were often threads of oughts and shoulds , or ought nots and should nots pulling me back or pushing me in directions I might not wish to go.

Felix talked about feeling free, and about having fun.

It is no coincidence that we met today.

With many earth years between us, our energy still reflects lifetimes of finding out what freedom truly means… And we meet here, in a launderette in Spain, both of us here experimenting and experiencing on planet earth within the confines of a body and the beliefs and structures of others…

How to be free, and how to have fun….

 

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…

Time travel…

Journeying back in time, I drove down the road I used to drive up – much too fast as an 18 year old! – every day for work… And the road I used to pad down in my green flash gym shoes, having got off the bus to run the last bit of the journey home from school…

I met Athena Jane who had driven from Laughton, and we sat chatting for a short while in the Fox and pelican – the local pub – which is still the same but different… They now sell delicious coffee with white chocolate and cranberry flapjacks and choices such as a vegetarian platter with tapenade and hummus, feta and lots of deliciousness… All more resonant of being here now; food like that wasn’t served in the 70’s… ? And then we drove the extra mile, further down the road, past the playing field where as a 6 year old I raced up and down with my friend Charlotte, trying to keep warm on the edge of the rugby field, while my brother Stuart plated a game…

And then into a room full of warmth vibrancy, colour, laughter energy… Very much now… I had travelled down the road back in time and amazingly it had brought me absolutely right to the very present moment…

Everything is now; the 12 year old me is still running down that road; free as a bird, training my body and my spirit for a life of running… The creative energy is still alive and pulsing through the body that has been on the planet earth for nearly half a century more…

Jane and I walked into the energy of Tipple Art, which is the creative expression of my oldest friend Wends with her business partner Linda. the evening is one filled with joy, support, creative expression, fun and friendship – relaxation… We were given a theme of flowers to give us inspiration if we wanted, and delicious food – platters of cheese and biscuits, figs and grapes, quiche lorraine olives and salads and a glass of wine if we wanted…

Right in the centre of the room stood Nick! I was so delighted to see him… We used to run around together 40 years ago… As Nick said ‘in the literal sense’ not the figurative,… He was an awesome runner, still is at 60 years old… But back in the day he ran 48 minutes for 10 miles and the runners of you will know what that means… I have always loved Nick, he is a very real person, true in his heart and soul… A special man, and every so often our paths cross again…

This time I manoeuvred our meeting, when I realised I could make it to Wends and Linda’s event and I ‘encouraged’ Nick to come…

We sat next to one another and talked a lot and enjoyed being in one another’s company in a completely different context… I realise now, that all our previous conversations have been on the run

last night we sat side by side painting…

And neither of us painted flowers as you would expect flowers to look… But they were our expression of ‘flowers’… The space, the energy, Wends and Linda’s encouragement helped us all join together in our creative energy; it was such fun…

I haven’t painted since I was 20 and then i made murals all over the walls of the gym at Huntington House, the place I had visited and met the daughter of my old friend… The gym is gone now… Much changed at the end of my time there, including my creative expression through pain…

Last night I revisited it and enjoyed the process hugely… The interesting thing for me was that my artistic style resembled the style that was mine when I did my o level art… It simply flowed from me in the same  vein… Once again lending emphasis to the observation of our unique expression; we are all different unique beings… We all have a different energetic make up, different colours and sounds and frequency within us and this will of course emerge differently in whatever endeavour we do…

And it must be celebrated, honoured….

I was also delighted to meet friends of Wendy who I have heard so much about and to see my fabulous godson Alfie and Tony, Wendy’s husband, who had come straight from an award ceremony for his 15 years of coaching hockey,,,

He was being honoured fro his creative expression in the form of developing the young people which as he says in my vlog he loves to do…

The secret is to not question our energy, to watch and notice it –  and as always clear the tension and stay right in the centre point; the stillness from whence it can flow purely and simply and clearly out into the world for us all to celebrate… Connect with and join together and make the most expansive piece of art that is life across the universe

Together….

 

Silence… Life as a meditation

The 6.30 am alarm is still a bit of a challenge… I am guessing my body thinks its in England and that I have suddenly decided to leap up at 4.30am!

Although there wasn’t a lot of leaping going on 🙂

Anadi and I wandered out into a glorious fresh morning, before the heat of the day… It promised us that anything could happen.

We kept wandering along for awhile – I am not keen on running the moment I am out the door – I like to warm into it and let my body and feet tell me when they are ‘ready to run’…

So we walked  and wandered and talked about stillness and silence…

Anadi had decided to take a bath after we came in from dinner before bed – and he had been ages and ages…!

When he eventually appeared in our bedroom I said ‘I want to know your insights, what happened in the bath…?’

I said this, because  Anadi is a very meditative, still being, and if he is silent he is usually meditating, not thinking thoughts… And early in the mornings, in the space between sleeping and waking he often has deeper insights and so I was looking forward to what might emerge from his silent soak…

And that was what he said… ‘Silence… Nothing else, relaxation and silence’

I lay in his arms and said…’Yes, silence…’ And that is how we went to sleep.

We had been talking earlier in the day about how we recognise that within the nomadic risk we have taken – are still taking – by leaping into the unknown, that at a deeper almost imperceptible level we are still ‘holding on’ in a ‘human worry way’…

Where is our life going, with Anadi’s business still in it’s fledging stages, and who knows where my sabbatical is taking me…?

Human concerns on this human journey …

And yet all of us are spirit – albeit on a human journey – but when we remember this then we can trust at the deepest level.

Trust what emerges from the silence…

Over breakfast we had talked about how we recognise always, that it is about going deeply into any areas where we are holding, even if they are so deep within that we are not that conscious of them… As in essence Anadi and I are not ‘worriers’ by nature, so to find the fear we have to catch it so that it doesn’t ever take a hold.

Rest in silence let go, trusting the silence always remembering…

‘There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.’

And the love spoken of here, is the love found in silence, in truth, within us all, when we trust and make our lives a silent mediation on the move…

And so after half a mile of wandering our feet started to run…

And we found a perfect five mile loop all around the edge of the forest on smooth quiet roads, shaded by the trees … We ran to the sea at the end of the exact 5 mile loop, and ran the half a mile we’d walked  at the outset of our run… Down to the sea we ran and dived straight into the huge  turquoise blue swimming pool at the bottom of our road…!

And under the waves I said to the watery deep… ‘Show me my truth…’

 

Finding my way in the mist…

I am sitting on a balcony, my view is a wall with clambering greenery, small white flowers, large red ones; three cats play together on the top of the wall… Chasing one another, watching, jumping, balancing…

Beyond the wall a vast expanse of sea…. The atlantic ocean…. A beach that seems endless…. It is very misty, this is unusual we have been told; but the mist has swirled about all day, cloaking the people, the camels, the horses in smoky mysterious silver.

I left Anadi working, and went to run along my endless beach. I ran and ran and after awhile left behind me the people and the camels and I was alone. The sand under my bare feet, the sun a watery presence but still hot; browning my skin despite…

Ahead of me I could see the form of three horses, a beautiful image… I caught them up and the riders waved as I ran past…

I heard a roaring sound which was getting closer. If I were an alien or a rabbit I believe I might have been very afraid!  This huge empty beach, my vision limited by the foggy blanket around me.

Then four quad bikes emerged, fast, flying along things, fun, speed, freedom…

I reached some rocks with seaweed on them, slippery green, a man was fishing. I had been gone for over and hour and so I turned for home.

I felt I could run on this beach for ever; that I had found my vocation… To run and never stop, alone, free, on a sandy beach with the sound of the ocean beside me.

The mist closed in and I was completely lost… A silver light pierced through; I was disoriented and alone and I wondered if this might be like dying; letting go, acknowledging my aloneness as all I knew had disappeared… Except for the sound of the ocean, to my left.

Follow the sound and it will bring you back to the beginning….

To know how to be fully alone, is the place from which we can experience true connection with another, with all others. To be connected deeply within to the aloneness is to be complete; full up with ourselves and so in a position to truly give.

Otherwise all our giving could be false; from a sense of fear of being alone, or obligation, or some need for connection we believe we will find outside ourselves.

Instead the more we are able to be alone and connected to our true self at the deepest level; all outer connection reflects this in mysterious wonderful exciting loving delightful ways…

I missed the entrance from the road, where I had joined the beach – the mist still lying thickly all around – and I ran on further…

And then I experienced joys of the modern world we live in… Right beside our transience, our spirit flying free, exists a space for communication in each moment, here with the whole world…

“I think I have missed our part of the beach, I think I ran right back past it in the mist! Do you want to meet for a drink? I will find my way back….’ I texted Anadi…

And I did… I found my way back.

We are all finding our way back, to ourselves, to the ease that exists deep within us.

To freedom…

Anadi and I enjoyed a banana milk shake, water and a coffee, watching the antics of a horse who had escaped its owner and was playing, running, cantering free on the beach.

He was being playful, never made a bid to bolt, along this long endless beach… He just whirled and swirled and trotted and played and eventually returned home…

 

 

Grovelands Parkrun fun…

Saturday April 8th

Today has been a very joyous day… It started swathed in spring mistiness, but the shards of golden light were filtering through, and the day was promising to burst into sunny shininess as soon as it could…

Anadi and I jogged to Grovelands Park and arrived at about 8.45am where runners were starting to gather together… A sense of ‘esprit de corp’ already evident…

I felt within me a sense of anticipation, a new experience unfolding, I was about to run in race conditions with lots of other people in a Park run!
The park runs are a wonderful creation for community, camaraderie, collaboration as well as the thrill of the chase…

I had such fun… I interviewed Caroline the Run director, and Sarah who is a run director in training… And then Matthew and Steve who were taking part in the race…

And soon we were lining up…

I absolutely loved the experience. The spirit of the group lent itself to synergy, the combined shared energy becoming more than the individual energies added up… The space lent itself to something bigger and brighter happening… Magic!

Competition at its best allows us to discover that we have more within us than we ever realised.

I certainly ran faster than I have been doing, and didn’t feel the ground beneath my feet much… Until the end…

Then my feet felt very tingly and tender!

I have a sense of childlike pride and delight, like I have done something I didn’t know I could do, and I totally loved interviewing people before and after the race…

Anadi and I set off to run back to the stables, our lovely little apartment which we stay in when we are in London…
But we walked because my feet hurt!

When I am actually running I feel more free and flowing bio mechanically than I have in years, but my soles still have some practising to do…

Barefoot feels a very natural way to be for me…

Of course our ancestors ran in bare feet to survive… However because we have worn shoes for so long, if barefoot running does appeal, then we must take is super super slowly and be fully committed to doing the foot exercises, strength and conditioning and drills to support the feet as they strengthen and take off…

As we sat in the Larder cafe drinking wonderful coffee and enjoying the special ‘Larder breakfast’ and my favourite almond croissants, the Park run results came through on my phone!

What an incredible system, and what a huge way of connecting and communicating through the joy of friendship on the run.

And so I have ‘begun again’, my first race in bare feet, a new line in the sand!
I discovered that I ran 24.02, that I was the third female to cross the line and the first female in the 55-59 category…

The essence of my energy is the joy of finding out, the spirit of the chase, the race…

And at the core of this, the silence within, and the stillness within the movement.