Photo by Cristina Cerda on Unsplash
I experience an increasing tension about the impact of my convenient lifestyle. Over 25 years I became accustomed to the fast pace of growth driven business at the heart of the disposable consumerism of big city London.
In the past 3 years I have come to question the primary drivers of business that gobble up our time, our joy, our spirit and our planet. I let go of living in London and of sacrificing my wellbeing and talents to a vision that didn’t belong to me.
I have found living directly connected to the elements of nature e.g. by the sea or in the mountains grounds me in a different rhythm, I think about light switches, own a bag for life and a reusable coffee cup, I choose zero air miles vegetables over world traveller imposters, cringe at plastic packaging, have nightmares about water bottles and the decimation of our oceans, walk more, spend less and sleep better.
I choose to live in the creative orientation, beyond the normal constraints of survival e.g. 9-5 job, regular income, a fixed abode. It is a wild ride at the extremes of existence that few people purposefully choose to do. I actually and metaphorically choose to voyage in unknown domains.
I choose to tread lightly on this earth; the call to be a hermit is seductive. I am passionate to leverage the genius of our collective creativity but I cant be bothered with kudos, conferences or the whitewash of feel-good collectives. I embrace the achievements of science, technology and innovation but don’t know where to begin to use them to transmute and transfigure life on earth.
I believe that we are better together, contributing the best of who we are to receive the fullness of who we can be. I believe that every human being has the potential to be part of the global synergy.
From the bottom of my heart I believe true collaboration is simple and it is the biggest challenge we are being invited to face at this time.
There is maverick community of early adopters out there, those with their toes in the water. I am called to join them and thanks to technology I can find and connect to them on line but is no avoiding the truth that the substance of collaboration is love and love calls for intimacy and vulnerability, for physical as well as ideological closeness, for kinship, sharing, eye to eye connection and the ability to be with and hang out in the messy entanglement of humanness.
I would happily stay at home – as I said earlier the call to be a hermit is seductive – especially when flying and many forms travel have such a polluting impact on our environment. Fortunately I have a friend who has a mate who has founded a company that helps those of us who caught in the carbon/climate predicament https://www.clevel.co.uk/flight-carbon-calculator/
Halcyon Days is a restorative retreat in Corfu from 26th June – 1st July 2019.
The invitation is to enjoy 5 relaxing and stimulating days on the stunning island of Corfu to sink into who you really are and what matters to you. This will be a magical restorative time in a simple unspoilt part of the island. The gift of time and the ease of relaxation in the rugged beauty of Corfu will restore you to that which is forgotten but is inherent within you. It is all within us, rich layers of gifts, talents, resources and ideas. Much of this is lost or dismissed as we fulfil the busy demands of modern life. Our focus narrows and we forget how to expand again. Daily creative sessions will connect you to your inner wisdom and light the path to your future. A wonderful time of revival to remember and learn to prioritise what is truly important to you.
Our venue is in a delightful, simple boutique bed & breakfast offering heartfelt hospitality. We will have private use of this Durrell-style villa in the unspoilt mountain village of Magoulades in north western Corfu with easy access to beautiful beaches and the sapphire sea.
Myself and my co-facilitator, Thea Allison, share a passion for the freedom and wonder that follow when we ally self-responsibility and awareness with the liberation of imagination to expand our life choices.
The price of £695 covers 5 nights of twin-share B&B accommodation, all facilitation and our welcome meal on the evening of 26th June. Single room options are available on request.
If this invitation resonates for you please do get in touch. We would love you to join us in June or, if you really can’t make these dates, later on in the Summer as we plan dates in August and October.
Feel free to spread the word if you know of anyone who would love to ‘receive the richness of life ‘
Click here for more details Halcyon Days.
My Camino Walk #1 is already an international #1 best ranking book on Amazon in Travel and Tourism; and a top 5 title in Motivation and Self Help. A compendium of stories from pilgrims who have walk the Camino to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Northern Spain. A rich collection from the practical to the personal it is published by Andrew Priestly. I share my inner emotional roller coaster as one journey ends and another begins in my story The End Is Nigh
The Kindle version is on SPECIAL OFFER of 0.99p and here is a SAMPLE
In August 2012 I was sitting on an escarpment overlooking the ancient beginnings of civilisation in Swaziland in Africa. In the dusty haze a trail emerged laid out across scrubby, foreign land, a long, long walk leading all the way to the sea and, I imagined, a handsome sailor in a pea green boat.
Two months later I walking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Northern Spain. Almost 1000 km from the border with France to the Coast of Death in Galicia. Every step takes me deeper into the land, my edges softened by rock, my spirit dissolving in earth, the raging energy of the elements becomes my wildness, I breathe in the desire of soul symbiosis and exhale ecstasy.
Did I buy boots – yes Salomon Ultra X. Did I take time to research my pack – yes it was an Osprey just the right size, complete with a built in hydration pack (fancy name for bag of water), did I carry a guidebook – yes a ‘John Brierley’, did I train – well maybe – if you count a few weekends of long walks.
My Camino journey was wildly imaginative and that is the story my spirit wants to share. Fortunately that spirit called in Andrew Priestly and My Camino Walk #1 project – my story is one of 20 stories, jostling alongside 19 others, it is a wonderful compendium that gives you insights into 20 prisms of Camino perception. You have the practicality of preparation, the wisdom of spiritual journeying, the suffering of physical limitation, the mental anguish of being human. The full experience of life. The Camino is but a metaphor for life. How you experience it is just the lens you are looking through. Imagine living life when you can play with all the lens available to you?
Anne is a catalyst and ambassador for new possibilities. She brings cutting edge intuitive techniques together with 30+ years as an innovation and technical professional to deliver end results that appear improbable if not impossible.
Anne works with individuals and businesses have a desire to create a better, sustainable and beautiful world. She is passionate about the purposeful application of imagination and although she could be defined as a coach, teacher, writer and speaker she is ultimately an Imagination Technologist collaborating with high level creatives to bring ideas into being and make them real.
Anne walked the 800km+ Caminos Francaise, Finisterre and Muxia in Northern Spain 2012 and a soupçon of her story was recently published in My Camino Walk #1 available on Amazon. Anne is a migratory soul with seasonal homes in Europe, Australia and the USA. She loves traveling and exploring the outer edges of consciousness enjoying, savouring and fully inhabiting this life.
A little over a month ago I returned from my observational project with The Great Generation (TGG) in Uganda. A trip that allowed me to give freely of my skills and talents because of your financial support. This blog is my update and an open letter of gratitude to those who contributed financially and emotionally to my journey to Uganda.
24% of the population in Uganda lives on less than $2 per day. They lack skills, business know-how and the market knowledge to build and sustain success and achieve significant results. What they do have is motivation and a desire for change in their lives. I was exposed to people living in basic conditions with limited access to clean water and sanitation, I got to meet ordinary people with passion and determination who have created services and infrastructure to support their communities. Personally I had the privilege of participating in a number of entrepreneurship sessions in Kampala, supporting the creation and delivery of a five day residential teaching forum in a rural district in Uganda as well as experiencing this stunning country.TGG creates experiential learning programmes to bring expensive and hard to access business expertise to communities with limited resources, to challenge and transcend norms and assumptions and to stimulate fresh thinking for future creativity. Your donation was key to ensuring that I was able go to Uganda to experience the work of TGG. The outcome is that I am now the first entrepreneurial associate eligible to support transformational leadership projects intended to enhance entrepreneurial capacity building in Uganda and in turn foster creative thinking and innovation for established multi-nationals and corporate executives.
With love and gratitude.
I met Dan McCarthy when I was walking the Camino Francais from the Spanish border with Spain to Santiago De Compostela in October 2012. Dan was back in 2013 and guested the Spring Camino blogs here in 2013. He has just returned from his most recent walk this time on the Camino Portugese walking from Lisbon north through Portugal to eventually cross the border with Spain and walk into Galicia to Santiago. Dan’s yearly commitment astounds and humbles me, not least because he will be 80 this year. He has given me kind persmission to publish his reflections on the differences of these two caminos. Dan offers “A Camino is in a way a life time in miniature. It does not lend itself to facile analysis. But here is my effort.”
IN MY BEGINNING IS MY END
“In my beginning is my end” says TS Eliot in East Coker, one of his Four Quartets. I happened to be reading East Coker for a discussion group in which I participate and have found several passages which seem to help me to articulate my thoughts about this Camino. I hope TS will forgive me if I totally distort the meaning of his great poetry in bending it to make some sense of my experience.
A first impression of a major difference in the two Caminos, the Camino Francais which I have walked eight times, and the Camino Portuguese is the difference in their beginnings. And I believe that difference colored the whole experience for me.
The first day or two of the Camino Francais is a 15 mile climb up the northern slope of the Pyrenees to the Monastery of Roncesvalles which commemorates the setting of the eighth century battle of the rearguard of Charlemagne’s army which is enshrined in the Song of Roland, an epic poem of the French language. The monastery has been a refuge for pilgrims for close to a thousand years. One of the high points of the stop for me is the Pilgrim Mass at 6PM when the celebrant announces the places around the world from which the pilgrims who arrived that day have come. After Mass The celebrant blesses pilgrims in their native language and then in a darkened Chapel we all sing in Gregorian Chant the Salve Regina.
For the next couple of days pilgrims negotiate a rather steep incline, struggling in places and stopping at a couple of lovely small towns, to arrive at the magnificent walled city of Pamplona. The pilgrim hostel in Pamplona is across the street from the Cathedral where on Sunday you can attend a Mass sung in Gregorian chant. Leaving Pamplona and arriving in Puente La Reina I stay at a monastery of the Padres Reparadores and attend Mass in the 12th Century church of Santiago.
Two characteristics summarize “my beginning” in the Camino Francais, the spectacular natural beauty of the climb up and down the mountains and the availability of a nourishing liturgical life. In fact I had not reflected on this latter blessing until I thought of the contrast with the Portuguese Camino. Another characteristic of the Camino Francais I should mention is the presence of other pilgrims along the way. In the early years of my walking usually just a scattered few up ahead or behind, now many more some times too many. For me all of this creates the aura of THE CAMINO that is palpable. I have said in the past I experience the Camino as a country 10 yards wide and 500 miles long winding country across northern Spain. It becomes my land, a place where I feel at home. Much of the Camino Francais is not actually so rich in Liturgical experiences. Churches are often not open and the surroundings are not always so uplifting. But that beginning sense of being at home endures. And the company of other pilgrims who seem to share that same sense of belonging is constant.
I am now entering risky territory, a comparison about which I have some strong feelings. Comparisons are odious. If you are thinking of doing the Camino Portuguese please consult other impressions to form a more objective opinion.
I began walking the Camino Portuguese not from the Cathedral in Lisbon the traditional starting place, but at Moscavide, a suburb of Lisbon about 6 miles into the first stage beyond the beginning at the Cathedral. I took this short cut because I was already getting close to my limit of days to walk. I had taken three days off to visit the Azores and going into Lisbon from the Airport would have cost me another day while Moscavide was five minutes from the airport and had a Youth Hostel on the Camino, although it had no official relationship to the Camino. Also starting 6 miles into the Camino reduced the first day’s walk from 19 miles to 13 miles of city streets through some industrial areas, some picturesque walks along the river Tagus. I stayed that night in a pensao, a B&B with no particular connection to the Camino. I had not seen any pilgrims that day and was the only guest in the B&B. Most of the walk during the first week or so was on city streets or highways
I continued this routine for the next four or five days. No other pilgrims, no signs of any religious institutions, not churches, not monasteries, not albergues and not another pilgrim. The route was flat but long; 18,19 mile days long, staying in pensaos usually the only guest. While there were way marks they only marked where the route turned. I am used to marks frequently along the way and when they disappear I am aware I missed one. The more sparse marking requires much greater vigilance and consequently I got lost several times, once adding about 5 miles to a 19 mile day. Feeling lost began to be the predominant emotion of the walk a vivid contrast with the sense of being at home on the Camino Francais. Once in a wooded area the way marks disappeared entirely because the trees that had been marked had been cut down for some construction. Some workers got me back on the way.
This beginning as you can see turned into an uncomfortable anxious experience. A friend with a Buddhist background reminded me that desire causes suffering. So I began to reflect on what was the desire that was causing this anxiety. At the most superficial level I realized it was my concern about finding a place for the night. When you’ve been walking for six or seven hours with no end in sight incipient panic rises. But in my effort to get these desires under control it dawned on me what a powerful form of ascetism it is to give up your place of rest. It was what Jesus did: But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.” Matthew 8:20. The holy men of India are said to sleep by the side of the road. I struggled with the sense of being lost, of not being at home on this. Camino for the rest of my walk. “In my beginning…”. I never felt at home as I do on the Camino Francais. I do wonder if this anxiety had something to do with my physical problems at the end.
What to do with this feeling of not being at home? It occurs to me that in a couple of weeks I will complete 80 yrs of age. It’s harder and harder to ignore that I am in the land of seniorhood. And some of this land feels a bit strange. My body is of course weakening and memory is a bit vague at times. My eyesight is not as sharp as it used to be. And hearing is slightly impaired. Was the Portuguese Camino a vivid introduction to THIS new land? Here are some of T.S. Eliot’s thoughts about the land of seniorhood from East Coker:
Old men ought to be explorers
Here and there does not matter
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning
In order to arrive there,
To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not,
You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy.
In order to arrive at what you do not know
You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.
In order to possess what you do not possess
You must go by the way of dispossession.
In order to arrive at what you are not
You must go through the way in which you are not.
And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not.
Do not let me hear
Of the wisdom of old men, but rather of their folly,
Their fear of fear and frenzy, their fear of possession,
Of belonging to another, or to others, or to God.
The only wisdom we can hope to acquire
Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless
ULTREYA and BUEN CAMINO TO ALL
I have been invited to Uganda at the end of July to participate in a project with local enterprises and to experience the work of The Great Generation with a view to joining them to expand their training programmes. Part of the experience is to understand the work on the ground and also the fund raising process. So here I am asking for your help and support. Every £1 will help but I am personally offering a coaching session for every £100 donated. You can take this session yourself, gift it or add it to my bursary fund. I will be capturing my experience in Uganda as I go and sharing words, images and end results so that you can see how your contribution helps.
DAY FORTY EIGHT: 25 November 2012 Muxia to Santiago de CompostelaI was sitting on an escarpment in Swaziland in August 2012 when I first saw this pilgrimage; a trail laid out across scrubby, foreign land, a long, long walk leading all the way, I imagined, to the sea and a sailor in a pea green boat. Over the subsequent months I had followed the clues to arrive in Galacia and I am now curious about this rocky shore the end of the walk. What would the reality of the metaphor be? Could my sailor be Miel the policemen from San Sebastian in his high tech fluoro green walking jacket or is it the soul of Ireland on the distant horizon or perhaps something else all together? What colour is pea green anyway?
I had dinner with Tobias from Denmark after the Marea documentary in Restaurent de La Lolo. This was the classiest restaurant with a pilgrim menu so far. Sleek, modern ecletic style more suited to hot Summer days than chilly winter but the heating was on and the staff were pleasant. The 3 course menu proved to be pleasantly different from the usual pilgrim fare and the wine seemed extra special too. If we weren’t in pilgrim attire we could have been mistaken as a couple; me the cougar and Tobias my toyboy. Tobias is polite, good company, has great manners and a Colgate smile. He has a face that will only grow more handsome as he shape shifts into his life whatever that may be.
Miel is Tigger in the morning, eager for breakfast and company but my preference, Restaurent de La Lolo of the night before, doesnt sit well with him. I hold my ground and have breakfast to my delight on my own. I am assimilating this trip. I want to savour the last drops of it dripping slowly and honour it’s closure. A short walk from the town is the headland where the Virgin Mary came to assure Saint James that his mission to convert the population of Fisterra from their pagan worship of the sun had been a success. I have no intention of being blasphemous but my guess is that Mary was a mistress of metaphor while poor old James was getting all bogged down in the logical reality. A bit like me and my sailor in his pea green boat.
Mary’s boat is said to be still here, petrified on the headland below the imposing coastal-Gothic style church of Our Lady of The Boat. I was curious to see it. Sure enough there are are three huge stones one of which definitely looks like the upturned hull of the boat and another has a look of a sail. The third stone, supposedly the rudder is a little less convincing.
I suppose it is no surprise that my original curiosity to follow the Camino to the sea was spurred by an imaginary sailor man. Muxia and Fisterra are fishing ports after all and where there be working boats, there be pleasure yachts and handsome sailors. Over lunch of whole baby squid, slathered in butter I muse the symbolic currency of this stone boat with the romantic talisman of my imagination. At the day’s end the boat I left on was a modern day coach, a behemoth of a vehicle muscling its way through the narrow arteries of Galacia’s rural rocky roads back to Santiago de Compostela. And my companion? Miel in green, both of us passengers back to life.
The Highland Main line train siddles out of the cold comfort of Dalwhinnie. In the distance sugar dusted mountains tickled by fluffy low lying cloud, smiled on by the blue eyes of heaven. We trundle by wirey puffs of scrubby heather knitted into the patchwork greens of this bobbly blanket, covering a duvet of bouncy peaty soil. The necklace of pylons and the dinky trucks on the distant roadway wink sparks of winter sun. Scatterlings of light spin off shiny silver bark ruffling the copper mops of autumnal trees. Through the leafy cut, saluted by skinny regiments of pine, ignored by the shawl of afro haired sheep across the fields and the sleepy gaze of one brawny white bull lounger in the soggy bog. Kingussie huddled in a snowy cleavage. We are greeted by the dancing shimmer of white ladies ready to wave us on our way into the Northern light and the call of Inverness.
Travelling the Highland Main Line from Glasgow to Inverness November 2013