“If you feel like you are loosing everything, remember. The trees loose all their leaves every year and they still stand tall and wait for better days to come.” This is the Spunky Rooster and our Workaway host cutting up a tree that had snapped and fallen in the lake. The result of snow too early in the season. To many leaves still on the trees, the trees hold to much snow and the branches get to heavy and break. It was a timely reminder to me that there is a reason for everything and the universe will prevail. Part of our journey is about being more in tune with nature and learning to enjoy the journey. Recently I have been a bit “antsy” about doing more planning and worrying about next year. This was a timely reminder to be patient, I love that universe gives us the answers to all our questions.
How often does your alarm go off and you want to roll over and go back to sleep? Why? Why not decide that life is worth jumping out of bed for? Why not decide to make a difference today, then repeat that same thinking tomorrow and the next day.The more days that you decide to make a change, to make a difference the easier it will become. The easier it will be to jump out of bed and have a great day.
Today make “GOOD MORNING” be your instructions for the day. See if things are a little different.
The Spunky Rooster suggested that a good wrap up for our first 12 months on the adventure would be if we both reflected over the 12 months and wrote down our reflections. Well I hit a brick wall, I didn’t know what to write. Not that I hadn’t learnt anything my personal growth has been huge but in the words of Lulu “how do you thank someone who has taken you from crayons to perfume? A friend who taught me right from wrong and weak from strong” This adventure has change and moulded my mind and body in ways I could never have imagine. It has helped build a relationship with the Spunky Rooster that is solid, sexy and amazingly simple. So instead of trying to eloquently spin my learnings I asked myself some questions and here they are with my answers.
Just living is not enough…
This has been the one statement that I have tried to accept and understand for the last 12 months on the road. We have walked over 4000k which affords you many hours to contemplate sacrifice, freedom, security, relationships, climate change, world politics, inner peace, out if body experiences and whether bears are pescatarians. Needless to say, I’m not ready to end this journey anytime soon. There are things though that I have a better appreciation for; without sacrifice there is no freedom and without freedom there is no life, hence ‘Just living is not enough’.
I have been somewhat quiet these 12 months with publicly expressing my thoughts and feelings. Tanya has been our combined voice. The choices made to leave the security of employment, as toxic as it was, creating an estranged relationship with my kids to forge their own lives and pursue my own dreams and venture off into a world that seems hell bent of imploding has created more internal dialogue than I needed to share. But I’m ready to share, journal even, and start to really share my thoughts to anybody strange enough to listen.
This journey hasn’t been about being a tourist and seeing all you can in 48 hours. The places we have seen, the cultures we have immersed ourselves into and the people we have walked with, talked to and shared our lives with over the 12 months have changed me. I still judge, I still can be opinionated and maybe even self-centred at times. I still enjoy meat, beer, wine and spirits and yes, still dream of playing my ukulele in some random Irish pub. So, change may not be as evident from the outside looking in, but that’s not important. I do care more about our planet, I am happy to be flexitarian (a term I heard today for those trying to be vegetarian and still enjoy some meat), I understand that people are different to me and that’s ok we can still have a conversation, I enjoy helping people and not for what I will receive in return.
That said, there are always highlights, those special memories that reinforce your resolve and will keep you on the road.
The gratitude we have for the hospitality extended to us from so many Kiwis was unforgettable, but our time with Kelly and Jane at the Cable Car Adventure Park (The Flying Fox – Whanganui) was really special. The friendship we formed in such a short time, the lifestyle they are creating, living on the river was simply put, an extraordinary experience.
New Zealand, as expected didn’t disappoint when it came to scenery, the Ninety Mile Beach, Tongariro Crossing were both challenging and rewarding. You certainly got paid for your efforts. Te Araroa was always going to be a challenge for us, but it helped us understand and mould how and what we wanted from this life that was sustainable for us.
Culturally, Japan was something I had never experienced, and it was like an ‘AHA’ moment. Respect and gratitude are the pillars that balance and support a culture that struggles between old and new worlds. I will be eternally grateful for the support offered to us by the Nonomura family. The strange thing for me was the joy and happiness they got from us because we were trying to embrace their culture with our pilgrimage in Shikoku. Temples came and went but I’d like to think that maybe I gained some discipline through worshipping at all 88 Temples. Spending time with a young woman (Elvira from Denmark) who was still looking to find herself in this world also gave me hope that there are still young people in this world that want to contribute and not take from it.
A side trip to Hiroshima was one of those spare of the moment adventures that you never forget. Why and how we got to using nuclear weapons are lessons that are becoming increasingly lost with many world leaders. While we still have a planet that hasn’t been destroyed by ego-maniacs and those who still believe their religion gives them rights above others the journey will continue.
The Scottish Highlands wasn’t on our radar, at least not in the first year. Thank you, Gary and Katie, for your offer and Hanna for making sure we accepted it. On a hill at 9pm in shorts, gumboots and rain jacket surrounded by mountains with the wind howling through the valley I stood there saying to the two dogs I was walking “F@#k I’m in the Highlands of Scotland”. Since walking the Camino De Santiago I’ve become more aware of turning around, smelling the roses and living in the now. The moment you have now you will never get back, another lesson I’m still learning but it gets easier to do and that ‘white noise’, well it’s peaceful.
Year One has ended in Faux La Montagne, France with an English family that took that step to ‘sea change’ and renovate a little bit of French history into a lifestyle so removed from their past. Its not without challenge but life still needs to be challenging. A saying we coined in Spain was ‘Simple not Easy’. We’re not looking for an easy ride, we still want to be productive and contribute to day to day living. The difference is its on our terms.
A true reflection of the year wouldn’t be complete without acknowledging my fellow Hobo. There are plenty of superlatives that would be appropriate, partner, girlfriend, soul-mate, shag, she is simply an amazing individual. I’m certainly, not the easiest person to live with and the ‘simply not easy’ phrase comes to mind, but for two people to spend as much time as we do together, 24 hours/d, weeks on end, and not throttle, kill, or even just leave me is a real testament to her character. Yes, one might say she got what she asked for ‘High maintenance bitch looking for a little bit of bastard’, but it works.
Other photos that made my year
Well I think that’s enough reflection, it’s time to look forward, the next 6 months will be a challenge for us as there will be very little hiking. Instead we will be Volunteering in Germany, England and Ireland before heading back to France to complete the Via Francigena .
Paulo Coelho is quoted as saying “ If you’re brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello.” So with fondness I say goodbye to our first year as Hobos and ask life to make our second year exciting, challenging and rewarding so this time next year we have more adventures and achievements to be proud of and to share with you are friends and our inspiration.
Thank you for coming on this journey with us.
Today we celebrate 12 months on the road and have decided that on this day every year we will honour our choice by creating International Global Hobos Day, a day that celebrates living large, being brave and having fun.
A hobo by definition is is an itinerant worker. Unlike a bum or a tramp, a hobo is more than willing to work, but mostly for a short duration, as their main impetus is travel, the love of the journey above the actual destination.The journey of life is one that many of us miss out on, driven by the destination we put off living until we achieve a goal or a position in life. There are so many quotes that try to direct us to “take time out and smell the roses” yet society actually tries to squash this in all of us with the promise of being happy and fulfilled only when we have completed things. I’m sure everyone of you has heard ....when you finish Uni you will get a great job or when you retire you can travel or when you get married and have children, life will be perfect. This teachers us to be destination orientated, missing out on enjoying the pleasures of the journey. So today, International Global Hobos Day, I ask all of you to “realise deeply that the present moment is all you have Make the Now the primary focus of your life,“ (Elkhart Tolle) and challenge the status quo. Be brave and follow your dreams, laugh and enjoy the challenge when things go wrong, be grateful for what you have right now, be mindful and contemplate deeper your journey.
HAPPY INTERNATIONAL GLOBAL HOBOS DAY
I was Instagraming this morning and reading a post by @idlebustheory about “Sunshine” their bus/home, how it was a high maintenance girlfriend and I thought how much time The Spunky Rooster and I spend on maintaining our “lifestyle”. Our equipment takes a battering when we are on trail. The tent is put up and down everyday, the cooker is used twice daily, water bottles are filled up several times a day and thrown around and squashed into our packs along with our sleeping bags that get wet, sweated in and it even has chocolate squished into it ( the Spunky Rooster eats in bed). Then there is our poor packs, they get abused the most ....sweat, mud, strained to capacity, holding in everything we hold dear. So when we aren’t on trail the maintenance of these things has to be a priority. Sleeping bags are aired, tent is given a wipe down and hang out to air, cooker is cleaned and maintained, packs are washed and any wear & tear patched. But the thing that needs the most maintenance is our bodies.....just like “Sunshine” are bodies take a beating on trail so when we stop walking it’s all about good nutrition, yoga regularly, lots of stretching and lots of light walking to keep all our joints and muscles well oiled.
One of my rituals every morning is writing my gratitudes even if I write the same thing everyday I write them. Why? I think gratitude is so important, it sets my day up on a positive note, to be able to look for gratitude in everything gives you a fortress against all negative emotions.
Doing Workaway volunteering can sometimes be difficult. You live in someone’s else’s home doing things that are usually out of your comfort zone. It can get difficult and due to the commitment to these people sometimes you have to suck it up.
Now I’m not the most tolerate person so Workaway and gratitudes sometimes doesn’t go hand in hand, both the Spunky Rooster and I have had times when it has been difficult to find something to be grateful for. This is to be expected, living closely with someone that has different beliefs and values, there is bound to be some friction. However if we look at the opportunity and what their generosity allows us to do gratitude flows freely. These people open up their homes and trust us with their livelihood, homes, livestock and guests. We learn their stories and how they look at life, these gifts alone are worth gratitude. Add to that the new skills we learn, the great friends we make, the experiences we have, the money we save, the places we experience even the discipline of holding our tongue's, all adds up to a pile of things to be truely grateful for.
We are all wired for happiness .....it’s true our minds and bodies performs better when we are happy. Laughter stimulates production of the happy hormone, serotonin, it creates more endorphins which put us on a natural high, reduce stress and help us take on a more positive perspective. Happiness is a choice, a habit. Unfortunately many of us are in the habit of choosing to be stressed and miserable. You may disagree but I can prove it, when you wake in the morning make a conscious effort to take a moment and check in on your thoughts. Do you wake up excited and eager to start your day or are you first thoughts anxious and a mental “to do” list? I know I used to wake up, groan and wish I could go back to sleep.How do you think that affected how I felt during the day. Now before my feet hit the floor I take a deep breath and think about all the amazing things that are going to fill my day.....learning a new skill, meeting new people, enjoying breakfast with Spunky Rooster all things that make me happy.Only then do I get out of bed and greet the day. Simple, but not necessarily easy to do, it does take a little practice. Like all habits you need to do it regularly for it to become easy. I choose to be happy. I challenge you to choose happiness.
This is the Spunky Rooster and I in Paris at the base of the Eiffel Tower . My mum donated money through our “buy us a burger” button on our website. Thanks mum it topped of a truly magical day. Donation such as this always give us so much joy. We are so grateful to the individuals who donate and always make an effort to acknowledge their gift to us. But more than the money it gives us a chance to give thanks for having the person in our life. We always talk about them and recollect memories and times with them , it is a true celebration filled with love and gratitude. Gratitude is so much part of our everyday life and philosophy and it’s something we both believe is pivotal to our happiness and contentment. It’s something we cultivate daily by ensuring we write down everyday things we are grateful for. Did you know that this simple exercise of writing down 3 things you are grateful for everyday can change your world? It can improve your mood because you focus on things that make you happy. It will definitely make you more popular because you are more positive and more fun to be around. It makes you more resilient because it encourages you to look at things from a different perspective.....and last but not least it makes you live longer because it has been proven that happy people live longer. Try it. Everyday write down three things in your life you are grateful for. Do this for 90 days. Please persevere at the beginning it can be difficult but trust me it gets easier
I have to be truly honest and say the Via francigena has failed to impress. The track has been mundane and many of the towns we have walked through lack the congeniality of the Spanish Camino. However it hasn’t gone without it rewards ..due to the monotonous nature of the track I have been extremely mindful practicing my circular breathing checking in on my posture engaging my core deliberately and generally taking more notice of what’s happening within my body. Also walking through the Somme Valley is like walking through a part of history this area was the Western front in World War 1 it’s where The allies push backed Germany and was pivotal in Germany’s surrender. So even though the scenery hasn’t been all that special the body lessons and history lessons have definitely been worth the effort.
There’s a drop down menu in your mind. Click on it. Look at your option” Colette Werden
I love this analogy, because it is so simple. I believe that we all get into the habit of choosing option 1. Option 1 is the easiest option, the option we are familiar with ...it’s the, “that’s just the way it is” option. What if you stopped and looked at the other options how would your life change?
That’s exactly what The Spunky Rooster and I did 4 years ago.
We were a couple of normal empty nesters, high income, lots of little holidays, stress to the max, working in jobs that we were no longer passionate about. Our option 1 was to keep going until we were 65 when we could retire with a handsome little nest egg. However we would have been 65 not in great physical shape . So we decided on option 2 consolidates our savings by selling everything we own throw on a backpack and walk the world. So here I am in Arras France on a Wednesday afternoon loving life. Check out your option 2 or 3 or even option 4😁