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  »

An 800km walk across the north of Spain in 2009 on the Camino the French Way provided six lessons for getting through challenging, changing times. The context involved 30km days, the Pyrenees, hills, hot and cold weather; back packs, accommodation in hostels of varying quality and comfort; two sets of clothing and leg injuries. Each day brought different challenges, interesting people and joy. The journey was mentally relaxing, spiritually uplifting, emotionally and physically challenging and ultimately,

 » Read more about: Touchstones for challenging times – lesson 1 – Get over yourself  »

The beginning of a New Year is often a good time to reflect back on the previous year and typically attention is on all the things we have done as ‘human doings’ – the achievements, large and small, as well as the disappointments and bits in-between. What is often missed in the reflection process is who we are as ‘human beings’ and in particular, our inner self. The Indian philosopher Patanjali said “When you are inspired by some great purpose,

 » Read more about: How inspired are you by what you do for a living?  »

A recent report in the newspaper mentioned, in tones of great astonishment, that a particular person was still in paid employment and they were in their 60s – the inference being, the person was too old to be working and how come they weren’t retired. I find it difficult to understand how an employee in their 60s is considered unusual in this day and age, given people live longer today than decades ago. I find it difficult to understand the spoken or unspoken inference that being in a certain age bracket means people are past it,

 » Read more about: Ageism alive and well in NZ  »

Many workplaces aren’t the most conducive environments to work in, especially offices. Many house large numbers of people in small offices or densely configured open plan spaces; they’re noisy, through colleagues, phones and equipment; and disruptive, through the nature of the work itself, i.e. interruptions. Small wonder then, the demand for remote working options are increasing. It isn’t for everyone or for all organisations, but it can be for others. Remote workers often report higher levels of engagement to their work and their organisation,

 » Read more about: Demand for remote working options increasing, management coach belives  »