On a number of occasions, we received food, drink and medicine; help with accommodation and unsolicited, much needed directions. Villagers and fellow pilgrims, people we didn’t know at all, offered items when they thought we needed them. These random acts of kindness occurred without warning and were freely given – and always at a time when what was offered, was exactly what was needed. It was humbling and heartwarming.

The key to receiving gracefully is to ‘get over ourselves’.

 » Read more about: Lesson 6 – Receive gracefully  »

Some days, there was nothing familiar or remotely comfortable about some of the situations we found ourselves in. We relied on the help of strangeers for clarifying directions and finding transport, medical facilities, banks and shops. Everyone was happy to help us and we were grateful for their efforts.

The key to asking for help is to understand it isn’t a sign of weakness, rather, it is a sign of self awareness. It is about realising that sometimes,

 » Read more about: Lesson 5 – Ask for help  »

Walking 6-8 hours each day means arms and legs do their thing automatically and the mind is free to roam. Without the need to be doing anything else than walking (that and keeping a sharp eye on the terrain and potential hazards), the opportunity ws to be truly human beings, fully engaged in the present moment i.e. this minute, this hour, this morning. We were absorbed with what we were doing, seeing and feeling, with all that was around us.

 » Read more about: Touchstones for challenging times – Lesson 4 Be in the present moment  »

The best laid plans can go to pieces. It happens. Despite our intentions to walk every step of the 800 kilometre route, leg injuries necessitated the rapid development of Plan B and bus travel for a few days. It required us to let go of our expectations of ourselves and our original plans yet keep the end goal clearly in sight.

The key to letting go requires us to stop railing against things we have no control over.

 » Read more about: Touchstones for challenging times – lesson 3 – Let Go  »

Despite adequate preparaton and preventative measures, leg injuries and blisters struck a week into the walk. Our recovery was relatively quick because of a good level of fitness, strong immune systems and healthy bodies. Numerous pilgrims who weren’t fit or adequately prepared had a miserable time and struggled from the outset.

The key to self care is embracing the – if it is to be, it us up to me – motto. Self care is our own responsibility and we can’t blame others for what we may or may not have done to date.

 » Read more about: Touchstones for challenging times – lesson 2 – Self care  »