This photo is of David and I early in the morning of our 28th day on the Camino. We were on the way up a mountain to the Cruz de Ferro in Spain. It was the day that changed my future.
The Cruz de Ferro or Iron Cross sits at the highest point of the Camino de Santiago between Manjarin and Foncebardon. Pilgrims for centuries have been placing stones at the base of the cross signifying leaving their sins behind and preparing to be reborn on the last leg of the Camino. Today it has a much broader meaning symbolising a problem or issue one wants to leave behind, leaving behind something you no longer want to be burdened with.
I had read about this ritual before starting the pilgrimage and thought long and hard about what I needed to leave behind. But it wasn’t until I was standing at the base of the cross, on this foggy morning, did I really understand the significance. As I got down on my knees and placed my stone onto the pile I prayed to the Universe that I had the strength and wisdom to leave behind anything that would not serve me in the future. But more than that I asked the Universe to help me. Help me remember the lessons I had learnt on the Camino and to take them back into my everyday life.
Walking the Camino you have plenty of time to get inside your own head and sort out all the shit that has been accumulating over the years, the regrets, the beliefs that held you back, the irrational fears, the harmful behaviours that have become in ground into your being and the list goes on. As I sat at the base of Cruz de Ferro all this went through my head and as I placed my stone onto the pile, I knew my life would never be the same again. I had learnt lessons that I would never allow to disappear from my consciousness. Some of those lessons I would like to share with you.
Buen Camino my friends
In her 1972 hit song Janis Joplin sings about …..“freedom, is just another word for nothing left to loose” . Is Janis saying we are only free if we have nothing to loose, that friends, money, relationships are an encumbrance? I personally believe freedom is a mindset, something you have to establish internally. It’s about creating that internal peace and stability so even when the world outside is trying to tie you down or cage your spirit, you have the strength and courage to be your own person.
What does freedom mean to you?
For me freedom is about being at peace with myself and who I am, it means minimizing my internal conflict, having more self belief and resilience, loving myself more and accepting what is, so creating less stress.
7 Simple Steps Towards Freedom
As I approach 50 I see things very differently than I did when I was in my 20’s. Life was such a fast past thing and I was arrogant enough to think the world revolved around me. Now I don’t have any regrets about my life but there are a few things I wish I could have told myself that would have made life just that little bit easier. Here a just a few Life is for living now: Waiting to be thinner richer smarter so you can be happier is a recipe for disaster. Life is lived in the now. Lean to love right now, appreciate everything you have, take time to notice the little things. Be Silly more often Life is short have fun learn to laugh at life at yourself, don’t take things so seriously, don’t worry what other people think those that really love you will love your silliness. Failure is the key to your long-term success. If you avoid trying things just encase you don’t get it right, you will never have what you want, try and try again it’s called Flearning learning through failure. Learn from your failures and move on. Money doesn’t buy happiness, experiences give you happiness. Don’t put too much value on material things pleasure and great memories come from experiences and connecting with people, not from how many houses you own. Stay 21. Your chronological age doesn’t define who you are. If you think you’re to young or to old isn’t the issue the issue is you have to think you can. Health has to be a priority being healthy is the corner stone to success and I don’t just mean physically. Look after your body, and your emotional and spiritual health. Travel, Travel, Travel it expand your experiences, it teaches you about people and cultures and its an adventure with stimulates your mind Don’t be a smarty pants you don’t know everything, you have 1 mouth 2 ears listen more than you talk. Love sometimes hurts but don’t close yourself off to it. The pain passes and leaves behind some amazing memories. Take chances be certain in yourself that you can handle anything and then go out and take some risk, some will fail some will fly, revel and rejoice the successes, learn from the failures Your part of nature so your either green and growing or ripe and rotting. Embrace change. Connect with people both emotionally and physically. Cuddles help heal, it relieves stress and improves the immune system. Connection with community delays old age dementia and heart disease your stronger than you think. When things get tough know you have the strength to get through it. Going through hard times makes you a better human; be grateful. Express gratitude whenever you can, concentrate on what you have rather than what you don’t, this will increase your happiness and improve your well-being. Listen to your gut. Use your intuition to your best advantage, if it doesn’t feel right, keep investigating. Don’t mix up the voice in your head with the voice in your heart. Pay Attention to detail, its the little things that make a difference. Pay attention to the small everyday things and celebrate them and life will be more fulfilling. LEARN ,TEACH ,LEARN ,TEACH never give up the quest for knowledge but more importantly pass your knowledge on share it around. Good Relationship are always morphing your partner, your friends and you change with time be aware of the changes and adapt the relationship to encompass these changes. Just do it. There are no shortcuts in life, if you want something you will need to work for it. That doesn’t mean any fun, do what you love and do it well and when you achieve what it is you want you will have a sense of accomplishment. Let it go. Don’t carry baggage with you. Anything that has happened in your past that causes you pain, just let it go, carry it around will never make it better or different. Honour you yourself by being honest, reliable and kind to yourself and others Don’t leave room for regret Live everyday to its fullest, don’t waste them live like there is no tomorrow LOVE LOVE LOVE give love freely, be loving, share love express it seek it out.
It is 6am on Tuesday the 1st November 2005 4 weeks before my 40th birthday and I woke up and my head exploded with one thought…. Is this it! Is this as good as life gets? Boy did that one thought rock the foundations of my life: because I instantly knew the answer! I knew I wasn’t playing the game at full speed. The big question was, “why wasn’t I”. Look, I‘m not saying my life was miserable, far from it. I was approaching 40 reasonably happily married for 22 years, I had a gorgeous teenage daughter who was doing ok I had a reasonably successful career running hotels and resorts. Yet, I still had this nagging feeling that there should be more.
Up until that morning I had never thought about what ‘more’ was, but on this morning don’t ask me why the flood gates sprang open and out came a deluge of questions; if I was happy why was I overweight, why was I constantly tired, why was I always finding fault in everything and everyone, what would make me happy, what did being happy mean, what was wrong with my current situation that didn’t make me happy? Was there more? Or was I just being greedy and the questions went on and on and on.
I very quickly realized I needed help, so I did what any sane or maybe not so sane person would do and I ran away. I told my husband that I wanted out of the marriage and I packed my bags and headed north to Ayers Rock. And there started the hardest three years of my life. I left Melbourne NYE 2006.
So what changed?…… I did, or more to the point how I thought changed. I realised that the only thing that would make me happy long term where those things that I enjoyed doing, that gave me energy, that lit me up from the inside. I heard from a one of these ‘self help gurus’…”you have to follow your passion – your purpose” well I thought I w as doing that. I love the hospitality industry and I loved people and I loved looking after people. So why wasn’t I blissfully happy? One simple thing was, I was following a safe and steady road that kept money in my wallet, not the cutting edge exciting things I dreamed up in my head. Exciting adventures that may not have kept food on the table!
So slowly but surely I have started to follow my passion, now there has been some wrong turns and bumps in the road but the more I trust the universe and give without expecting to receive the more my passion and purpose becomes clearer. I learnt to listen and believe in myself. Here are some of the things I learnt: