Yoga: the beginning…

It’s often easy to start something new, the hard part is continuing and making it a part of daily life.

This has been my experience with yoga, I begin earnestly, only to find myself giving up after my body seemingly fails to contort into the uncomfortable poses.

It hurts, I cannot bend and it simply seems too hard. However after walking part of the Camino de Sanitago this year, I now know it is not the body that gives up, it’s the mind.

When faced with an extreme physical challenge, the mind likes to trick the body into believing the challenge cannot be conquered. At times whilst walking the Camino there was an overwhelming feeling to just give up for the physical exhaustion was so intense. But I didn’t give up, I placed focus on the path directly in front of me, and allowed myself to simply take one step at a time and focused on the Now.

I took time to rest and most importantly, took time to tell myself how much I’d achieved. It may not have been as much as another pilgrim, but that did not matter as it was my journey.

As the days progressed my body grew stronger and my mind began to accept this journey I had taken it on. The weight I carried no longer felt heavy, I felt exhilarated and at peace with myself.

People practiced yoga whilst on the Camino and I remember seeing a girl practice on a grassy patch high on the Pyrenees. I knew I wanted yoga to become part of my daily life and on returning home, I started doing some research.

As I preferred to practice at home, I began searching and trialling countless apps, yet many were full of meaningless chatter and hurried poses that were difficult to follow. Yet I was determined to find something and funnily enough, I came across Down Dog by chance after clicking on a link from an unrelated app.

It was easy to navigate, had various options of voice, music, style etc and most importantly, it was devoid of that endless chatter that seemed to accompany other apps.

So I began.

I am now into Day 4, which is 2 days further than I’ve been before and whilst I’m struggling , I’m listening to my body and letting it ease into the poses.

I don’t have expectations, and like my Camino, I am simply taking one step at a time and letting my body adjust to this new movement.

Note: I do not have any affiliation with Down Dog, it’s just an app I’ve found to work best for me.


A walk across Spain…

A few years ago I watched a beautiful movie titled The Way. A touching story about a man whose life changed after walking the Camino de Santiago.

Call me ignorant, but I’d not heard of the Camino before watching this film, but in the aftermath of its ending, I was left feeling the need to discover more.

And on researching, I realised I wanted to walk the Camino. Not because I needed to mirror the impact it had on Martin Sheen’s character, but because I simply wanted to experience the emotional and physical challenges the Camino appeared to present.

As a self-proclaimed empath, it’s the emotional challenges that will undoubtedly be the most confronting. Why? Because the thought of having to share ‘personal space’ with strangers is terrifying as my need for solitude is a profound part of my being. Without it, I tend to become anxious and withdrawn. Couple that with my fear of socialisation and you have to wonder why I’m subjecting myself to such obvious personal adversity. But isn’t that what life is about? Finding ways to challenge adversity, albeit personal or otherwise?

Yes, I could opt out of dormitory accommodation and choose to stay in private rooms, but what is the point of that? In doing so, I’d be taking the easy way out and not honouring my reason for walking, which is, to experience the challenges.

And that brings me to the physical challenge of walking up to 30 kilometres a day across diverse terrain. Funnily enough I’m exhilarated at the thought of placing one foot in front of the other, hour after hour. These long treks will be my emotional charging station. My time for refection, my time for solitude. My time to allow the weight of past hurt to slowly slip away with every forward step. Of course fear is there, I’m human after all, but the need to discover things about myself is far greater than that fear.

My walk across Spain will undoubtedly present a myriad of emotional, physical and social challenges. And as I write these words in the comfort of my home , surrounded by my beloved dogs, I’m ready, ready to embrace whatever the Camino places in my path.



Humanity’s footprints. They are there, everywhere…


A catalyst for change…

When life deals us what we define as a cruel card, we are left crumbled and broken in its wake. But what if we were to look at that card as a catalyst for change?

Could that seemingly catastrophic chain of events be nothing more than a key that unlocks the door to personal freedom? And by personal freedom I refer to freedom from those voices that have haunted you for years. Those voices who told you, you were not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough or loved enough.

What if that event allowed you to see you, for you. Allowed you to listen to your soul and hear just how fabulous you really are.

Because you are.190712_jenhammer_0446

It allowed you to see that you fit. You fit perfectly with yourself, and your self is all that matters.

And best of all. What if that so-called catastrophic event allowed you to forgive? And to say the words:I forgive you and I send you love.

And in the words of the wonderful Julia Stone:

The story is different now…but its all okay, for love will find a way to be where love is.



Weekly Photo Challenge: Horizon

On November 5th, I will be heading off to discover new horizons as I shall be spending the next 12 months on Penghu, an island off the coast of Taiwan. This week’s theme therefore was quite fitting, for I’ll be bidding farewell to my current horizons that are familiar and comforting. And I shall be also saying goodbye to friends and family, and someone who falls into both of those categories is my niece, Kate: she is new to WordPress, take a look at her first Photo Challenge. I think she’s amazing.




Lost in the job hunting jungle…

It’s a jungle out there. Honestly, it’s nasty and it has left me with a rather bitter taste.

Forest near Annecy, France
Forest near Annecy, France

Whatever happened to good, old fashioned honesty and a frank, yet friendly chat with a prospective employer?

Those days are gone. In their place, it’s all about how best you can perform, and I say that tongue in cheek. For it seems that in today’s job hunting jungle you have to bare your teeth, be prepared for a cold and vicious kill (of your opponents) and create a persona that defies who you really are.

As a freelance journalist who has an interest in what’s going on in the world, I decided to put it to the test. So I applied for a position, wrote a resume that highlighted my experience and landed an interview.

Off I went feeling quite good as the position on offer was something I could confidently perform and one in which I had experience.

I arrived 15 minutes early, donned in professional attire and waited patiently to be collected. As I waited, a number of other candidates of various ages joined me. What I noticed was that some of the candidates had chosen to dress somewhat differently to what I deemed appropriate. Forgive me, but I’m of the opinion that when attending an interview, clean hair, unscuffed shoes, and ladder free stockings are the order of the day, not to mention any visible piercings relating to the nose and or face, should be removed.

Not so.

As I surveyed my ‘competition’ I felt I would at least stand a chance considering my experience, (did I mention that already?) and my well presented appearance.

How wrong I was, for after three hours of being subjected to video footage of booze infested party’s and over zealous employees giving endless and dare I say, boring anecdotes of their ‘experiences’, I and and a few other well presented hopefuls were politely told that we did not make the cut. For a moment I thought it might have been another of their little jokes, simply adding to the others they had shared throughout the morning. No, we had definitely been given our marching orders.

So as I sat and watched the ‘successfuls’ stroll past in their scuffed shoes, pierced noses and bare legs, something occurred to me. I had not shared a single word, hello, how ya’ doin’ or even a little ‘tell me about yourself’ with a single member of the selection panel. Instead I had played a survivor in a plane accident, been asked to sell my wares (or the company in question’s wares) and filled out a form saying what city I was in, if standing next to the Louvre.

Yep, it’s a jungle out there: well it would be if I could only get the opportunity to let somebody here my roar. Or at least a little rant.

Ah c’est la vie. Onto the next chapter…


Forward not backward…

At times taking a backward step can be similar to putting on a comfortable pair of shoes. A sense of familiarity prevails and when you first start walking you feel good, happy and glad you returned to what sits well. But after a while blisters start to form, negativity manifests and you wonder why you ever chose to wear what you thought had once fit perfectly.
That is when you realise it’s time to throw those old shoes away and start anew.
So you run barefoot.
Into the new.
Across hard stones.
Only to find yourself standing comfortably.
Maybe there are a few scratches, maybe it hurts a little, but the overwhelming feeling is one of joy and contentment. Contentment in knowing you have shed those shoes, and you realise they no longer fit.
You. The person you are and the person you have always needed to be.
I now walk barefoot without need for a new pair of shoes.
I’m just walking.
Barefoot and free…