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Mindset Coach Pilgrimages Self Development

Three Steps to Powerful Decision Making

And a few reasons why you are brilliant at it already!

I’ve just retaken a personality test that I did some months ago. Not to worry, I am still firmly set in the space of introversion:)

A key takeaway for me from the results of this current test is that my decision-making has improved.

But before I give you this three-step process, I want to start by telling you why you are already an awesome decision-maker.

Here goes!

  1. Micro Decisions

You start making conscious decisions the moment you open your eyes in the morning.

Each micro decision you make gets you through your day. Making your first cup of coffee; your thoughts and actions while you are getting ready for work; getting into your car; doing the shopping; dropping the kids off at school; doing your incredible work.

These are all micro-decisions, and we often forget that they are decisions because they have become part-and-parcel of your daily process.

So, take some time today to stop.

Stop – what are you thinking? How are you feeling? Are you worried? Concerned? Happy? Comfortable?

Stop and observe.

2. Your decisions have shaped who you are

Take a look at your life up to this point.

Yes, there might very well be low points and things that you might regret or feel sorry or sad about.

However, when you position yourself into a space of gratitude for everything that has come about – whether you flourished or learnt a lesson, your decisions have carved out your life.

Your life is a reflection of you.

This might be a sobering thought for some of us. If so, your decisions that you make today then can be an epic way to repurpose your intentions and move you into a space where you are able to flourish.

What are you going to decide to do today?

3. There are no good or bad decisions

Regret.

I used this word to discuss a past decision that I had made. My friend lovingly reminded me that regret has no place in our past decisions.

Since past decisions cannot be undone, they must be seen as points along a journey. A journey that has brought you here to this place.

If that is a sobering thought and you are not altogether comfortable with your space at this moment, then another decision – one based on learning from that regret, can make every difference to your onward journey.

We make decisions every second of the day.

What are you going to decide to do today?

I made a decision that changed my life

I decided to go on pilgrimage and walk the Camino de Santiago.

When I started walking, I didn’t realise that I was carrying with me such immense grief. I was aware that my mood affected my life and my relationships, but I had never considered that I was suffering grief.

It seems so obvious to me now.

My decision to walk the Camino Frances saved my life. It allowed me to re-discover my courage and to face the loss of my brother, my grandparents, my best friend and my parents.

The beautiful gift of time that I had given myself gave me space to consider my own goals and my own dreams, and it changed my thought around how I was going to live the rest of my life.

My decision to go on pilgrimage was the first decision of many that have now shaped who I am.

We have to decide who we are, and what our primary purpose is, in order to thrive, and not only survive.

What are you going to decided to do today?

Now onto what has improved my decision-making skills.

Since I am an introvert and I use both judging and sensing to make my decisions. This might be somewhat different for you.

However, since I have taken to using my own coaching tools and techniques that I have learned on myself in addition to my clients, I believe that my thought process has developed because of my increased overall confidence.

This three-step process is ideal when you are facing challenging situations, and a decision must be made.

  1. Define the challenge

By this, I suggest that you really give it a good assessment.

  • What are the facts;
  • What has worked before and can you apply this positive outcome;
  • What hasn’t worked;
  • Who can you count on to help you – consider your outer resources;
  • How can you overcome this yourself – consider your inner resources;
  • Who do you know that has faced a similar challenge to support you through this moment.

Once you have clearly assessed what needs to be done, and who can help you you are 80% of the way to making a well-formed decision.

2. Consider all possibilities

As human beings when we are faced with difficult decisions as a result of situations or circumstances we often resort to the worst-case scenario.

This is absolutely great!

Using our intuition and considering the facts together, we are energised towards finding a workable solution and then making well-formed decisions around the challenge.

Considering all possibilities, even the nasty ones, allows you to make short-term and actionable decisions to get you moving forward. That forward movement will empower you through those challenges even when, at the outset, they seem insurmountable.

3. Consider the consequences

My go-to question to myself, when I am at this point is:

“What’s the worst that will happen?” That worst-case scenario aspect of decision making.

I often find myself writing up a “pros vs cons” list. It’s funny how my “pros” are always longer.

It’s because, I believe, that we know intuitively what to do, it is only our limiting beliefs that often get in our way.

It’s very helpful to consider the consequences from both angles:

  • What will happen if I don’t make this decision?
  • What will happen if I do make this decision?

Ask yourself how will this decision, whether you make it or not, impact your loved ones. Those people who count on you.

What are you deciding to do today?

If there are no challenges you are being faced with today, observe your thinking and contemplate this statement:

Thoughts are real forces.

This is the first law of the mind, as described by John Kehoe.

If you believe that thoughts are real forces, what are your thoughts about?

If you need to change them are you deciding today to be happier, more fulfilled, more successful, more purpose-driven, or will you decide that the status quo is ok for you right now.

Either way, there is no right or wrong decision, as long as you remember that every decision shapes our lives.

Our lives are a reflection of ourselves.

What are you deciding today?

Photo by Engin Akyurt from Pexels

Categories
Pilgrimages Self Development

My damaged hips helped me rediscover my faith

In our Pilgrim Discussion Group this past weekend, an interesting comment was made by the author, John Brierly.

The comment was to create some thought around the difference between a “pilgrimage”, and “just taking a long walk”.

For those who have not yet walked a pilgrimage, Mr Brierly has authored several collections of maps and guides all relating to the famous Camino de Santiago.

Camino de Santiago Guide Books by John Brierly

Mr Brierly is not only an author, but he is also a proponent of the pilgrimage as a way to re-evaluate life’s purpose. He recommends that this “long walk” can have a massive impact on your life.

I was reminded of the scene in the movie The Way, when Tom’s character played by Martin Sheen says to Sarah, that “we are all just taking a very long walk”.

This comment is, of course, made very early on in Tom’s journey.

Tom has just discovered that his son died in a storm in the Pyrenees, which is the route you would take if you were walking the Camino Frances, from St Jean Pied De Port.

We find out that Tom doesn’t really understand his son’s penchant for the wanderlust. So when Tom is called to identify his son’s body, it sets in motion Tom’s own journey of self-discovery.

The Way

What is the difference?

I agree with Mr Brierly’s sentiment that at its core, the fundamental difference between a pilgrimage and a long walk is, faith.

When you purchase a Brierly guide book, as part of the introduction, he asks you to do a short exercise to discover your true purpose of why you are going to make this pilgrimage.

Setting off on my first pilgrimage and in preparation, I did that exercise. Admittedly, I didn’t fully understand the importance of it until I reached Santiago de Compostela on my second attempt.

When I got home, I took the time to consider the changes that had happened to me. It was then that the massive impact made sense.

Getting back to the difference between a pilgrimage and a long walk, I understand that it is faith that sets you in motion. It is from that same faith that brings you to your final destination.

Faith

I want to write a little bit on faith because I am now only just getting to grips with it myself. Very deep down inside of me, I have always had a sense of faith. It does not essentially stem from a religious connection, but more a physical and mental belief in myself, and also an understanding of my own strengths and weaknesses.

It is quite a paradox. Since I am not formally religious in any sense, I am more spiritual than I am religious, I do have a very profound level of love and respect for the traditions of religion. I feel this every time I walk into a cathedral or a church.

When I first walked into St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, I felt the embrace of the column’s around me. Those particular columns designed so long ago in the shape of welcoming arms.

I was filled with complete reverence when I walked in St Peter’s Cathedral. The same feeling of veneration engulfed me when I walked into the square in Santiago de Compostela. Entering the Cathedral was complete overwhelm.

It was a culmination of achievement and gratitude, which was deepened because of the pilgrimage I had taken. It was the realisation that every step I had taken was one made in complete faith.

My first attempt was unsuccessful.

When I first walked the Camino de Santiago, I injured myself some six days into my journey. It was this unsuccessful attempt that had me questioning everything about my faith.

Up to that point, I had lived every day with faith. At least I thought I had. Faith got me up to go to work. It was what drove me through the traffic. Faith had me manoeuvring through the day, regardless of what challenges lay before me.

I am a problem solver, and I have always thought that it was my faith rather than my skills that got me to the point of completion of my daily tasks.

Having to come home after my unsuccessful Camino and then deciding to go back, was the first real test of my faith. I was honest with myself; I really didn’t have the skills to make such a long walk. So I was returning on complete and utter blind faith, and this is fundamentally what a pilgrimage is all about.

My injuries are with me always.

In my early twenties, I had a triple osteotomy on both of my hips. I was blessed with shallow hip sockets which is what is known as developmental dysplasia. It was always with during my childhood and was probably the cause of the most excruciating pain in my legs as I grew older.

The nature of this type of operation has your entire pelvis being realigned to create better coverage and support of the femoral head in the hip socket. I was in the hospital for eleven days, and on crutches for six months after both operations.

I was blessed, though. Blessed because my hips are part of my journey of life. They have made the strong person that I am today, and in the same instance, have made me far more aware of where my limitations lie.

Knowing where our limitations lie is such a great opportunity to understand where development is required. It is my fundamental belief that we are only really limited in our minds, as long as we take committed steps to acknowledge our fragilities.

My faith showed me that on my second time back to Spain.

My faith got me to Santiago De Compostela.

I arrived in Sarria, opting to do the shorter version of the Camino with an inflamed pelvis and a pulled calf muscle, which was settling down into some comfort.

My osteotomy’s had not fully resolved my issues with my hips. In my late thirties and early forties, I had had both hips replaced. So, I was now really the bionic pilgrim!

This nagging issue in my pelvis is a result of the previous operations and the skilled surgeon’s efforts to make do with what my bone in my pelvic area has to offer. It will always be with me. This weird feeling, not always a pain — in the nether regions.

Equipped with the lightest load that I could muster, my trusty walking poles, which support my penguin-like gait, and well-worn pair of trusty old boots, I set off.

I walked every day, sometimes splitting the stages in half only walking 10km’s on some days. As I progressed, I felt stronger, more comfortable, more aware of my surroundings. I felt joyful, and a complete sense of happiness was with me every day that I walked.

It was then that I realised how much faith was driving me. I had booked the return ticket to Spain on complete faith. My calf had not quite healed, but I booked the trip nevertheless, knowing that I would be ok. Faith.

I arrived in Sarria having complete faith that the next day when I started on the final 100km’s that I would ok. I never booked an Albergue and had faith that I would be alright and find a bed for the evening. I was never let down.

I was never let down having the support from fellow pilgrims, sharing a meal, finding a bed, passing around sweet treats while walking in a group. Being alone on the trail, and revelling in the beauty of the Spanish countryside and the silence that allowed me to acknowledge how my renewed faith was my driving force.

A long walk is just that — a long walk.

On Sunday, I was walking. A practice walk in one of the local nature reserve’s around Johannesburg. I am preparing for another pilgrimage next September.

I will walk from St Jean Pied De Port to Santiago De Compostela and then onto Finisterre. On my first Camino, I started in Pamplona and reached Los Arcos before I had to surrender.

My long walk yesterday was just that. It allowed me to enjoy some quiet time outside of the city. I was amazed at how nature had restored itself after what looked like quite a big fire — the little green spruces of grass where all pushing through the black cinders with great gusto. There were a few animals about grazing on the lush parts of the plants that had grown from the past weeks’ rain.

It allowed me the time to consider what a pilgrimage means to me. It gave me context about where my faith had faltered and at which point it had rebirthed itself for me.

The truth for me is that my renewed faith doesn’t just get me to a place where my thoughts are on pilgrimage. It is with me every day now, as I progress through my newfound career. Not in the way it was there previously, but now a real and active point of reference upon which I base my purpose, and upon which I anchor my values of freedom and adventure.

When I set off in September next year, in 2021, when the world is again open to all of us, I will set off only in faith.

Categories
Pilgrimages

What you need to know before setting off on the Way of the Gods, the Via Degli Dei

I was reading a post by a pilgrim who had walked the Camino de Santiago, who mentioned the Via Degli Dei. Another pilgrimage? How wonderful, I thought. My only real challenge here is that I feel that I might not have sufficient time in my life left to walk all of these routes that Europe has to offer. Let alone the routes in the United Kingdom. So many pilgrimages, so little time!

The Way of the Gods

I was intrigued! The route evidently takes it’s name from the route it follows through mountainous regions and bypassing and crossing Mount Venus, Mount Juno and a mountain called the Moon Goddess. How can this route ever be missed? With such reference to Roman Mythology, and what these particular Gods meant for their followers in years gone by.

The Flaminian Way

As with most routes through Italy, and Europe as far as North England, the walker or rider is bound to encounter the magical history of this area. While it bypasses the beauty of the Apennine Mountains, the Roman Road known as the Flaminian Way will, on some parts of the route, be your guide. This ancient road was started in 220BC and was the main thoroughfare between Rome and Ariminum.

Five Stages – Five Days

The route can be divided into five stages, which depending on your fitness level will take around five days to complete. Guides and information on this route, say that it is a medium to difficult hike and others who have walked the route mention that you will need to be slightly more walking fit, than other trails.

  • Stage 1 – 22kms – Bologna to Badolo
  • Stage 2 – 28kms – Badolo to Madonna dei Fornelli
  • Stage 3 – 18kms – Madonna dei Fornelli to Monte di Fo
  • Stage 4 – 24kms – Monte di Fo to San Piero a Sieve
  • Stage 5 – 34kms – San Pietro a Sieve to Florence (Fiesole)

Best time to go

During the months of April, May and June where temperatures are better for walking. Not too hot during the day, with cooler evenings. Alternatively, during September and October, although you are likely to encounter rain during October.

Where to stay

There are B&B’s, hotels and some hostels throughout the route. From some research, you will need to prebook in each town. Make sure that if you are going during the pandemic that you check your countries travel restrictions before setting off.

For more information visit:

/https://www.visittuscany.com/en/itineraries/via-degli-dei-in-tuscany/

Categories
Pilgrimages

The Camino Ingles – the shorter alternative

The English Way, another route of the Camino de Santiago has become a popular trail for those pilgrims not having months at their disposal, but who still want to enjoy the wonder that is this famous pilgrimage. There are two options from where you can make your start, with the towns of Ferrol or A Coruna, being your first waymarker.

A Coruna is around 75km from Santiago de Compostela, so if you want to receive your pilgrim certificate, be prepared to have walked the remaining 25km in your country of origin before you set off to Spain. You will be asked to prove that you have walked an official pilgrimage with credentials to support you claiming your Compostela when you reach the Pilgrim’s Office in Santiago de Compostela.

If you plan to start your walk in Ferrol, you are around 118km from Santiago de Compostela, with a route that will take you through the delightful province of Galicia. The Camino Ingles is available year-round but be prepared for rainy weather, which is a common expectation for this province. Being in close proximity to the sea, you are likely to experience many weather changes, so have your waterproofs and ponchos on hand.

In medieval times, this route was popular with pilgrims from the Nordic regions and England, since it was quite easy to access the mainland from neighbouring countries. It is still popular for those pilgrims in these areas, to travel to Spain by ferry, which should be on everyone’s bucket list, in my opinion. What an amazing spectacle to see the approaching land, which is stunning to behold along the northern coast of Spain.

The route is generally well marked, and recently there has been a change from the more natural trails in favour of the city routes, but you are still able to enjoy the beauty of Galicia, and also have pilgrim support along the route. If you are walking from Ferrol it will take you around 5 days to complete the route, which makes this a great alternative if you don’t have loads of time available to you. As with all the trails, the most popular time to walk is during the summer months of July and August, so if you want some peace and quiet, walking off season is your best option.

Enjoy Efren’s vlog for an amazing visual of the Camino Ingles.

Categories
Pilgrimages

Slowly but surely, Europe is reopening to Pilgrims

The Via Francigena, like the Camino de Santiago, is an ancient pilgrimage starting in Canterbury in England, with the route ending in Vatican City. Like its Spanish counterpart, it has been closed to pilgrims over the last months. Wonderful news for all pilgrims is that both the Via Francigena and Camino routes are slowly opening to pilgrims and if you are one of those pilgrims in countries where you are able to travel there are some regulations and safety precautions that you need to be aware before you hit the trail.

Camino de Santiago

As an example, the Santander Central Hostel has posted an informative video on their Facebook page, which outlines a few extra steps that albergues have been required to take, prior to opening their doors to pilgrims. Notably, their new policy is that there is twice the space with half occupancy. I have no opinion of what that might mean for pilgrims en route since at the time of writing, there is no indication of the numbers of pilgrims currently on the trail, but it is good to take note of this new stance, by hospitelero’s.

In addition, you will not find albergues providing towels to pilgrims. While I never encountered this luxury, and I carried my own on my pilgrimage, please take note to ensure that you are carrying a quick-dry lightweight towel. My recommendation is to also take a sleeping bag or inner (weather depending) since you might find that blankets will not be available.

For more information check out their website at: http://www.santandercentralhostel.com/The_Hostel.html

Via Francigena

For the remainder of this year, and until further notice, it is mandatory to book your accommodations in advance of traveling and heading onto the route. This particular route is not as well supported as the Camino de Santiago routes, so this is probably not a big issue. My plan would have been to do exactly that, pandemic or not.

Backpacks, boots and hiking accessories will have designated areas to be within the hostel. While this practice is normal for your boots, backpacks were almost allowed into the sleeping area, so be prepared for changes in this regard.

Masks, gloves and hand sanitiser must be carried by all pilgrims. You will be asked to use these items within the confines of the hostel or albergue. A sleeping bag and a towel is a must have.

The manager can test your temperature and if found to be beyond the 37.5-degree mark, could forbid entry to the accommodation. Please ensure that you are healthy and that you have no pre-existing conditions that might leave you unaccommodated. I am sure that all who read this, are fully aware of the impact that travelers will have on the countries being visited, and so be very cautious. For yourself and for the people of the country you are visiting. Pilgrims are generally a very kind and thoughtful bunch of people, so this goes without saying!

Since the Via Francigena traverses three countries, France, Switzerland and Italy and starting in England be sure to check in with all authorities on any additional items.

For more information for your planning please check in to the official website of the Via Francigena at :

https://www.viefrancigene.org/en/resource/news/linee-guida-la-ripartenza-del-cammino-lungo-la-fra/

Buen Camino, Bon Voyage, Buon Viaggio and Good Journey to one an all!