Life wasn’t meant to be easy if it was, how would we grow? There will come a time where things don’t go to plan; we’ll be thrown out of balance, and events will rock you to your very core. But, as Jen shares in this episode, it’s often these life-changing moments that change you into a better person or lead you to more remarkable outcomes. 

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SHOWNOTES

Anthony Bourdain is quoted as saying, “Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”

I relate to this quote because in 2014 I decided to walk The Camino de Santiago. If you don’t know what that is, it’s an 800km pilgrimage from St Jean Pied de Port in the south of France all the way to Santiago de Compostela in western Spain 500km away. That’s 500 miles for my north American friends.  Day 3 I got my first blister and I walked another 24 days to complete the Camino with bleeding blood blisters on my feet.

One day when I was about halfway to Santiago, I reached a point when I couldn’t take one more step! I remember it vividly because my feet hurt so much. I couldn’t even cry. I was done. I was in the middle of nowhere. It was a stinking hot and dusty summers day, maybe 10km from a town and there were no ‘taxis’ or ‘uber’ to just hitch a ride to the next town with. I thought to myself, “what are you doing Jen, just give up”.

14 years before my walk, in the year 2000, I read The Camino by Shirley MacLaine. At that stage I had been travelling internationally, working as a professional speaker. I had retired from my naturopathic clinic so that I could travel and explore more and help more people around the world. 

Reading Shirley’s book I was enthralled. I hadn’t heard of the Camino before, but that day I decided that I would walk it. It took me another 14 years until I was called to walk it. I had talked about walking it for years and one day I woke up and went that’s it, I’m walking the Camino in June. I had a few months to prep, break shoes in and get myself ready to go. I was so excited and never dreamed that six months later I would be sitting on the side of a trail in the middle of Spain, questioning my choice.

But I did, and Anthony Bourdain was right. Travel is not always pretty and the journey does change you. It sure did for me on that trip. I chose to walk the Camino on my own. I took all the music and apps off my phone so it was just a phone. I wanted to unplug and do the pilgrimage.  I don’t know why I got the blisters (well I do emotionally and I’ll talk on that in a future episode), actually no, let me talk about that right now.  

I tend to be over prepared for things. My years in the Australia Army from 17-20 years of age had an ever-lasting impact on me. Positive and impactful. So like I do, I planned my walk with all of the contingency plans in place. Controlling instead of surrendering to the Camino. I planned that I would walk 30km a day. The out of balance sense of discipline in me had me pushing through when I should have stopped and rested. I was on a mission. I paid the price for not listening to my body – and I learned the lesson.

The thing is that my out of balance worked for me. I pushed myself to the point of breakdown, which brought me a breakthrough. That day sitting on the side of the road I knew that I had to keep moving. After I settled down, I took out my pocketknife and cut my shoes to shreds so that I would be able to walk. I took some deep breaths and I stood. I had a wave of energy flow over my body, I knew I would be ok as I surrendered into total trust. All I could do was trust that I would be ok and that I would get to the next town. With each slow step I stayed focused on that feeling of trust and hours later made it to the town. 

I am a deeply spiritual person and that sense of trust and safety led me to bring some very cool changes into my life since. It also inspired me to set up a foundation to help kids in need when I came home.

In 2010, my partner and I travelled to Kaper in Thailand to visit a friend. While over there, we met a young local village boy named Q and instantly bonded. Q’s mother had died from AIDS related causes, and while still alive when they first met, later his father died from similar complications, leaving Q on his own to survive.

Already suffering from malnutrition Q’s growth was stunted. He was illiterate, failing all school subjects and had no safe place to stay. With our love for Q growing and a concern for his wellbeing, we enquired about adopting Q and bringing him back to Australia to raise him as our own. Unfortunately, though, we soon found out it wasn’t possible for gay women to adopt a Thai child and take him out of the country.

But this only inspired us more to look after him. He started to grow and pass subjects at school. When I came home two great mates and I established the Q Foundation (www.theqfoundation.org.au), a charity committed to helping Q and other children in the village and beyond from suffering the same fate. Today we have dozens of kids in the Foundation with more than half of them in trade college or university. To date, two kids have graduated, as nurses. This year, one will graduate from university as a high school teacher and in another 18 months, Q will graduate as an electrician. The kids are all either extremely poor or orphaned and would never have had the future that they have today. My partner and I know now that we weren’t meant to adopt Q as these other kids wouldn’t have been helped if we did. 

I am certain if I had not reached my breaking point on the Camino, that I wouldn’t have gone where I did emotionally and grown to the woman that I am today and to the woman that I needed to grow into to start The Q Foundation.

There are no crystal balls in life. We can plan life to the tiniest detail and it can all change in a heartbeat. 2020 has sure shown us that. So, what if you said yes to something today? Not knowing how it will all play out, whether it be a business decision, a relationship, somewhere to travel – anything. As soon as we’re allowed post COVID-19 – anything. Imagine if you trusted that you would be ok. Say yes, and then trust and take the actions to live into your choice.  

Like I said, all good plans can go astray. So, why hold yourself back? I love the poem by Erin Hanson.

“There is freedom waiting for you, On the breezes of the sky, and you ask, “What if I fall?” Oh but my darling, what if you fly?”

Guys, if it all doesn’t go quite to plan, I promise that the pain will pass and the memories will live for forever.

So, today’s Healthy Life Hacks are:

  1. If you’re in a place of pain right now, stop, breathe, feel and trust. Then get moving again. You will pass through this and right now you don’t know what’s on the other side. So, stay open to what is possible.
  • Say yes to something you’ve been holding back on. Is there a possibility of falling? Yes, but what if you fly? Remember to breathe.
  • Hit the road and travel. Don’t wait to get it all perfect. Just go there is so much fun in getting lost as you go exploring.

Did you enjoy the podcast today? Please let me know by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts. Every month I draw one lucky reviewer to have a free one-hour consultation with me. Also, remember to subscribe wherever you’re tuning in from so that you always catch the next episode.

Are you looking for more great resources? Get a free copy of my Feed Your Body ebook here and be sure to explore my blog while you are there.

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