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One of the more unfortunate aspects of walking as a solo woman on the Camino is the perception that you’re easy game. I’ve read recently on the Facebook forums that I follow of women being harassed by men; naked men who chase after these women whilst masturbating, men waiting under secluded bridges till a woman comes along then yanks his pants down to expose himself. Men follow along behind the pilgrims and make lewd comments, or just hang around making a general pest of themselves.

Many of the women quite understandably get quite frightened, or as in one case was so badly upset by the whole thing that she packed up and went home. It’s a real issue and seems to be escalating somewhat. There are often discussions about how to deal with these incidents with some folks suggesting pepper spray which is banned in Spain, or whistles, and various other suggestions, none of which are really acceptable and could lead to further problems.

I recently read an interesting article about the escalating harassment of women in the Middle East regions, that although not specifically about the Camino, does talk about the harassment of women in middle east countries. Interesting, although unfortunately they don’t mention the biggest factor in these countries; women are viewed as 2nd class citizens…ergo men can do what they like coz they’re superior. Perhaps they should look at the cultural issues from the cradle up….men treat their wives in an appalling fashion, often abusive. Boys witness this and think its okay to be abusive towards women. Its pretty much the same in every patriarchal society. It won’t change till parents teach their kids about respect.  Reading this article I get the distinct impression that the author/researcher is making excuses for why boys harass girls. These young men “have high aspirations for themselves and aren’t able to meet them,” he says. “So they [harass women] to put them in their place. They feel like the world owes them.”

Harassing women is not a new phenomena in the Western world; its as bad and has been for decades in our society where morals are loose and again, men are disrespectful towards their wives. Frankly those men’s magazines and light pornographic magazines, sexually explicit films, advertisements with half naked women spread across cars et al, all play a part in the sexual harassment of women. I remember with clarity, as a young girl developing breasts and having to start wearing a bra, the boys, would come up behind me or my school mates and snap our bra-straps or try to undo the hooks – behaviour they STILL indulge in 50 years later. We were always, without fail told to ‘just ignore it’. In fact I recall very clearly telling my daughter much the same thing 25 years later….either that or wallop the boy in question….which of course would then lead to her being punished for ‘assaulting’ the little shit.

However, there has been as is a shift being made in this area. I recently read where a Mother was called into the Headmaster’s office because her daughter had punched the boy who snapped her bra-strap. The Headmaster and the parents of the boy tried to make an issue of it, but the Mother neatly turned the tables by reminding them that what he had done is actually sexual harassment and that she would be happy to call the Police and lay a charge. Problem solved. Frankly I wish I had done that for my daughter, how much more empowering it would have been.

But, and here’s the thing…..it is sexual harassment, and the problem begins at home. Until all of society begins to see women as equals and deserving of respect, until parents unanimously teach their sons about the boundaries and how to treat a woman with respect, women will continue to be harassed on the streets….no matter which country we live in. I, however, am not holding my breath.

And if any man, young or otherwise even attempts to give me grief while I’m walking the Camino, he will live to regret it.

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Since deciding to walk The Camino, I’ve read a wide range of blogs written by the vast array of people; both men and women of all ages that walk the different Camino routes – some blogs are documentary, some short, some long, many are very personal; walking the Camino and lessons learned.

different paths; different journeys

different paths; different journeys

I have learned a lot about how some folks behave on the pilgrim routes – which honestly has come as quite a surprise.

One of the most profound stories I’ve read so far relates to sunflowers;

It started when I really considered the sunflower plant. I often leave town in the early morning darkness. That’s when the sunflower has its head bowed low awaiting that first ray of sunlight. Then it perks up and turns its face toward the sun and absorbs sunlight and energy all day. Then, at evening, it again bows low and rests for the night. After a period of time, it starts to lose the beautiful yellow crown surrounding its seedy face. It becomes more difficult to raise its head toward the sun. At last, it dies. That is, the plant dies, but the seeds live on.

Another interesting blog I read, also spoke about sunflowers:

That is, I had never considered their significance until the life cycle of a sunflower was explained to me by a German opera singer named Anja.  As she explained it, just before sunflowers die, they give up their seeds from the brown part of the flower (the seed head).  Their last act, if you will, is to give of themselves to ensure that future sunflowers will grow in that area next season.

and continued with a story about keeping the peace; relating a situation with a man called Ted – a story I found to be both interesting and shocking. It described how this man would get drunk and behaved in a manner totally unacceptable in normal society, never mind on a pilgrims route; it never entered my head that people would behave like that on the Camino!!

What I found so interesting was how they both said the same thing: I had never considered.

Another fascinating journey that I am following on instagram is Walking for Peace. It’s been so interesting to follow Mony and Alberto and see the lessons they are learning; some of which have reduced me to tears, given me goosebumps. It’s marvellous that they are so aware of what is being learned. So often in life the lessons we are meant to learn present themselves again and again before we finally accept them.

Since I started my ‘journey’ and even though I haven’t yet walked even one step on ‘The Camino’, I feel as though my journey has already begun. I’ve been walking a lot (604.89 miles since 01/01/2017), practising with my backpack, feeling my way with how much I can or cannot cope with. I have enjoyed hours and hours of travelling, walking and exploration by myself. I am becoming more observant of my surroundings, something that would please my daughter who gets very frustrated with my usual lack of observation!! My usual answer when she says “did you see that Mom?” – and I’m like “What?” But it was right in front of you!!! LOL

I find that I am slowly learning how to ‘let go’, although that is still a really difficult and annoying part of my personality; replaying over and over and over in my mind after an incident that disturbs me: ‘I should have said this’ or ‘I should have done that’, the emotions of the moment churning and churning till I want to go mad.do not let the behaviour of others destroy your inner peace - dalai lama xiv

I am beginning to believe that this churning incidents over and over in my mind relates very much to my childhood, a long period of time when I found myself in bad situations, times when I felt completely helpless, unable to verbalise my fears, afraid of what might happen if I did speak up.

I’ve noticed a common thread among these pilgrim stories; the real Camino begins once a peregrino returns home.

And as my journey draws nearer, I do muse on what lessons The Camino will hold for me. It has certainly consumed pretty much my every waking thought in the meantime.

walking the camino and lessons learned

the many paths in life we get to choose…..

Do join me on my journey as I prepare for what is the 2nd most important journey of my life. Follow along on instagram as I travel around the country, working, walking, learning and discovering more about myself and the country I now call home.

Buen Camino.

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Did you know that you can cuddle drug-addicted babies? According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse one baby every 25 minutes is born with NAS.

http://www.theearthchild.co.za/you-can-volunteer-to-cuddle-drug-addicted-babies-in-order-to-help-them-heal/

I did a quick google search and found these links:

http://www.bbc.com/news/health-38732789

http://www.bliss.org.uk/be-a-bliss-champion

http://www.voluntaryworker.co.uk/volunteering-help-premature-babies.html

http://www.gosh.nhs.uk/working-here/volunteering-for-us/current-opportunities/baby-buddy

There are numerous programmes in the US, but I haven’t been able to find that many here. Perhaps a more extensive search is necessary.

Do you know of any such programmes? Please do leave me any links in the comments section. Thank you.

My daughter and I did volunteered at a Convent that took in drug addicted and alcohol withdrawal syndrome babies, in Cape Town many years ago. There was one little baby that I got very attached to. He was suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome…too sad. He was absolutely precious and in the time I spent with hi, I fell in love. I made enquiries about adopting him but because he was a) african and b) likely to die soon c) I worked full-time they rejected my application. Broke my heart. He was so beautiful. I remember the very many little graves in the convent grounds….too heart-breaking. I saw a similar article to the one above a few weeks ago. I’d love to do it again.

 

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I absolutely love that this man has become so well known, that he’s generated so much media attention. Imad Alarnab arrived in London in 2015 after fleeing the brutal warfare of his home city of Damascus in Syria, and now he’s launched Imad’s Syrian Kitchen, a pop-up restaurant in Bethnal Green in London.

He’s a Syrian refugee. He’s a human being. He’s a great chef. He’s a person with emotions, feelings, love. He has a family. http://www.reuters.tv/v/F2c/2017/03/13/syrian-refugee-chef-cooks-taste-of-home

Because of the enormous refugee crisis Syrians, like Amad, and other people of other cultures have become and are portrayed as a faceless mass.

Due to this we forget that they’re people, the same as you and me.

Because of this portrayal they become an entity to be feared.

This man, along with millions of others, have been demonized, vilified and manipulated by governments, religious organisations, and media and yes, even ‘humanitarian’ organisations wanting to promote their own causes.

I truly hope that this particular story helps people to change their thinking. To realise that on that whole people don’t just up and leave their country of birth with nothing, just the clothes on their backs, a bit of money and a whole heap of HOPE,…. without good reason.

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The more you give the more you get back. It’s scary opening our heart sometimes but I urge you to try it. If you have the courage to be vulnerable, especially if you’re in a leadership role, you empower others. I arrived in India 2 days ago to do a yoga course and didn’t know […]

via The power of being vulnerable  — Less is More

I’ve shared Helen’s post as it comes a few hours after I read an article about the Camino that really caught at me. I posted the article on facebook along with this comment:

“Reading this actually brought tears to my eyes….I simply cannot wait to go. It also clarified for me why I want to do this on my own….I want to be taken right out my comfort zone, I want to be confronted by challenges, I want to be alone in the crowd and yet one with my companions, I want to be physically, mentally and emotionally challenged, I want the Camino to ‘walk’ me!!! I simply cannot wait…albeit wait I must…but soon. Soon.”

Helen’s post resonated with me tonight because when walking the Camino we do open ourselves up to being vulnerable; in so many ways that we cannot even begin to comprehend until we start.

Here is the Camino article. http://www.caminoadventures.com/days-arriving-santiago-de-compostela/

What really caught my attention in the article was this: the 3 important questions necessary for growth (if not sanity):

  • Where am I going?
  • Where have I been?
  • Who am I?

I can answer the first two fairly easily, but it was the 3rd question that caught at me. This is something that I have been questioning of late and sometimes I really don’t know. Life has shaped me in weird ways, experiences have either warped me or shaped me…..Who am I? is a question that I reckon my journey along The Way is going to challenge me.

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I have just been watching the Remembrance Sunday commemorations on BBC1, a highly emotional experience, especially as I watch our Queen and her Consort, who is now ageing quite fast. I find the march-past of the veterans to be of special poignancy, knowing that they have fought for the freedom of the country.

remembrance sunday, remember, armistice day, war memorials in london

Remember

I’ve said this before, one of the things I really, truly love about this country are the traditions. I love that they commemorate significant events in the history of the country and the world. I have attended as many as I possibly can over the last 15 years and have attended Remembrance Sunday at the Cenotaph at least 3 times (my memory fails me as to whether I’ve been more often). Like Trooping the Colour it is one of the events on the annual calendar that I feel compelled to attend…from a sense of gratitude, thanksgiving, of obligation, of community, of being a citizen of the country.

Remembrance Sunday is a time for families who have lost loved ones in conflicts to come together to honour and remember them, for the veterans to receive thanks and pay tribute to those that knew who died in those conflicts. A time of national remembrance.

My daughter and I agree to disagree on whether there is any point in remembering these past events. Her thoughts are that war is pointless, that people go into the army through choice (especially these days) and that remembering these wars just keeps perpetuating the aspect of wars.

My thoughts are that these people have died in service to their country, they’ve fought to keep our country safe. They’ve left loved ones behind and died in foreign lands in order that I may live in a country that is relatively free.

But, I have to agree with her on the pointless act of war.

Crimean War 1853-1856  : number of dead 213,147 – 293,447. The immediate chain of events leading to France and Britain declaring war on Russia on 27 and 28 March 1854 came from the ambition of the French emperor Napoleon III to restore the grandeur of France….ego.

WW1 1914-1918 : 17 million dead 20 million wounded. The explosive that was World War One had been long in the stockpiling; the spark was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914. Ferdinand’s death at the hands of the Black Hand, a Serbian nationalist secret society, set in train a mindlessly mechanical series of events that culminated in the world’s first global war….ego

WW2 1939-1945 : over 60 million killed or 61 million on the Allied side and 11 million on the Axis side. The Treaty of Versailles may have set the scene, but WW2’s main progenitor was one man: Adolf Hitler. Most historians of the causes of World War 2 agree that its seeds were sown at the end of World War 1…ego.

Since the apparent end of WW2 we have had:

1945 and ongoing : Korean conflict
1945-1946 War in Vietnam
1945-1946 Iran crisis
1946-1945 Indochina wars
1946-1949 Greek civil war
another 12 wars/conflicts around the world and then
1948-1949 Arab – Israeli war
another 12 wars/conflicts around the world and then
1950-1953 Korean war
9 wars/conflicts around the world and then
1955-1975 Vietnam war
26 wars/conflicts around the world and then
1961-1975 Angolan War of Independence
14 wars/conflicts around the world and then
1964-1975 Rhodesian Bush War
1964-1992 FULRO insurgency against Vietnam
1964-2016 Colombian conflict
1964-1974 Mozambican War of Independence
10 wars/conflicts around the word and then
1966-1989 South African Border War
9 wars/conflicts around the world and then
1968-1998 The Troubles
17 wars/conflicts around the world and the
1973 Yom Kippur War
35 wars/conflicts around the world and then
1979-1989 Soviet war in Afghanistan
3 wars and conflicts around the world
1980-1988 Iran – Iraq war
6 wars/conflicts around the world and
1982 Falklands war
27 wars/conflicts around the world
And all of these are just between 1945 – 1989 some are still ongoing.
1990-2002 : 65 wars and conflicts, some ongoing
2003-2010 : 39 wars, conflicts and insurgencies

My source for these wars was wikipedia. But if you really want to see the reality of our world at war since 1900, why not scare the shit out yourselves and have a look at this:

All wars in the 20th century I haven’t counted then all, it’s too depressing. According to the site I’ve hyperlinked it is impossible to be sure but at best guess:

Total deaths: 79,284,507 I’d say that’s probably an under-estimated figure.

Number of wars per country is an eye-opener, but what’s really sad is UK 30 & US 24. The only country with a figure higher than that is China with 34. It’s worth having a look…please also do read his comments on the criteria for the figures compiled.

Today, as for centuries past, our main wars are fought because of ego, religion and money…..oil and wealth; vested interests. Countries still go to war to claim land, to kill those they do not agree with and to protect their vested interests. Ego and money is what drives the world.

 

People have been marching for peace for decades and yet we are no nearer to not having wars than we were nearly 100 years ago. There have been countless wars around the world since the end of the First World War nearly 100 years ago: the war to end all wars.

remembrance sunday, armistice day

Harry Patch – veteran of World War 1

Well it didn’t end all wars, we are and have been fighting wars constantly and continuously ever since. We may not be publicly involved in all of these wars, but you can be absolutely sure that we have ‘boots on the ground’ in one way or another; vested interests. So 100 years on, is there any point?

Why do we have Remembrance Sunday when the UK is classified as the 2nd largest arms dealer in the world? http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/britain-is-now-the-second-biggest-arms-dealer-in-the-world-a7225351.html  with most of the weapons now fuelling deadly conflicts in the Middle East, conflicts that come back to bite us where it hurts.

It seems a moot point really.

There are fewer peace marches or walks, or anti-war protests than there have been wars.

Are we really marching for peace? or do we march for war. Let’s face it, people make money from wars. There will never be peace on earth. There hasn’t been since time immemorial and there will continue to be wars until the planet implodes or explodes.

Why do we remember?

 

 

 

 

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A few years ago I had the great good fortune of listening to Dr Demartini speak at an event.  At the time I had some personal issues that I wanted to sort out, issues that I felt were holding me back in many ways.  I was so impressed by what he had to say that I signed up for the ‘Breakthrough Experience’, a 3 day course that he runs.  It was one of the hardest weekends of my life but also one of the most life-changing weekends.  This was during a period of time where I had a brain-storm (not to be confused with brain-wave…which is usually the precursor to something sensible) and signed up to just about every Personal Development course that was being held in London at that time (2007-2008), 9 months of madness that cost me a ruddy fortune.  Subsequent to that period of lunacy, I was left with a serious amount of debt and over a period of time….a healthy respect of Personal Development avoidance.

However, subsequent to that and because this particular course did in fact produce a positive outcome, Dr Demartini’s course was/is the only one I would ever recommend.  I signed up to his newsletters and follow his page on facebook.  I enjoy reading the information he sends and usually get some real learning out of it.  I received this in the mail a few days ago and thought I would share it with you as it is really profound….I hope he doesn’t mind 🙂 ( and in case he reads this (as if) no Dr D I am not putting you on a pedestal….I just really appreciate what you teach! 🙂 )

So here goes:

” The three words ‘I LOVE YOU’ can be for some the most challenging words to say and yet also the most commonly appreciated words for people to hear.

Many people hold back on sharing their love and appreciation for others because of a fear of rejection.
I often ask my clients what they would do if they were told they only had 24 hours to live. In all, if not most cases, they say they would make sure they used their last hours to say ‘Thank you, I love you’ to all of the people they feel contributed towards their lives.

At the core of every human being, we all just want to be loved and appreciated for who we are. So letting someone know that you love them is one of the most precious gifts you can give.

Whether Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day or Children’s Day, when it comes to those you love, find a way to share your appreciation and the truth of your heart.

When asked the best way to overcome the fear of saying ‘I love you’, I suggest the following:

Write down 25 benefits to you of your sharing the words ‘I love you’ with the person you wish to share your heart with, and then also write down 25 drawbacks to you of not sharing the words ‘I love you’ with them.
Whenever we see more benefits than drawbacks in an outcome, we take action.
Write down all the things you fear may occur if you say ‘I love you’ and then take each item you listed and ask how it will benefit you if it occurs. Every situation has a balance of support and challenge and no matter what happens you will always experience both sides.
Write down 25 benefits to the person hearing you say you love them and 25 drawbacks for that person if you do not tell them. When you perceive more benefits to them of hearing the truth of your heart you will feel inspired to tell them you love them.
In our daily relationships we swing back and forth between like and dislike, attract and repel, yet are these not the two arms walking hand in hand as one in a balanced gait – truthfully called love.

True love is the synthesis and synchronicity of all complementary emotions – a balance between the attractive and repulsive emotional extremes. It is a pure energy that permeates our entire existence. When applied to a romantic or intimate relationship, true love emerges as you come to appreciate both the positive and negative, good and bad, happy and sad and ups and downs of a relationship. You realise that the purpose of a relationship is not only romance, joy, support and so-called happiness; it is also equally about learning, challenge, growth and personal evolution.

True love is our ultimate objective, whether we’re aware of it or not. We may think we’re looking for something else, something material and fleeting, but even the pursuit of transient goals just leads us back to the truth of love. The purpose of all relationships is to dissolve the barriers that keep us from recognising the love that already is and expressing the love we ultimately are.

Love and wisdom,
Dr John Demartini ”

As I said these are his words, and I have not added or subtracted anything from them, but I have sure gained a lot.  Hope you have enjoyed it as much.

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