Regenerate and Rejuvenate

The idea behind a pilgrimage walk is to get in touch with oneself and leave the troubles of the world behind for a short while. The pilgrimage gives you time to decide what is important and what is not. Getting one’s priorities in the right order.

Yet amongst all this self reflection there is also the opportunity to discover new interests, places, knowledge and friendships. I tend to get so bogged down in the day to day activities and the roller coaster of life, that I forget to appreciate the amazingness of nature. Being away from home, although always good to be home, sometimes I need to leave to give myself space to just be. Having a few days in which to be ‘irresponsible’ and not having to think or make decisions is truly good for the soul, heart and emotions.

I recently took part in my second Sungazer Trail along the Historic Route. It’s one of the shorter trails, but incredibly interesting. The first day gave me a chance to really unwind. 22 kms of gravel road, with incredible Eastern Free State scenery. Arriving at Holhoek it was liberating to take off my hiking boots, have a hot shower and put my feet up. A communal braai and home made Gluwein rounded off an incredible day.

A Free State breakfast, of a gastronomic nature, started the day off before we left to explore the dinosaur footprints and eggs. I cannot begin to explain the awe that I felt being in a place where millions of years ago the giants of the world roamed. To be able to be right up close to all this evidence was a treat. To tread where this mighty giants roamed was humbling. I want to know more, I want to be part of this excavation. I want to be part of this amazing discovery. We even came across a wonderful Bushman Painting.

Getting back to Holhoek, we finished off a second round of breakfast, thanks to generous catering. We then set off to our next destination at Uniondale. Uniondale was like landing in heaven, with soft beds, hot baths and showers and catering to absolutely die for. Do not expect to loose weight when on a Sungazer Trail. That aint ever gonna happen. Ending a short pilgrimage in a place like this was so special and the kindness of the staff was wonderful.

Where is my next adventure? Who knows? I take them as they come. Hopefully I will post more often as I really would like to keep a diary of my journeys that I am blessed to be able to participate in.

Using gratitude

#Walking4Woman has given me many opportunities to reflect on how grateful I am for so many aspects of my life.

According to The Secret, Daily Teachings, by Rhonda Byrne, ‘To change your life fast, use gratitude to shift your energy. When you put all of your energy into gratitude, you will see miracles take place in our life.
To change things-quickly, commit to writing 100 things you are grateful for each day, until you see the change. And FEEL the gratitude. Your power is in the FEELING that you put into the words of gratitude.”

Today’s walk took me to the Mandela Capture site, where I was able to walk through the forests and grasslands surrounding this famous site in South Africa. Every time I have the opportunity to walk in nature, I get the time to reflect. I allow my mind to relax, not have any conscious thoughts. I just allow my mind to be open to the silence, the sounds of nature. Clearing my mind is a type of therapy, whereby the creativity of my mind can take over. How fortunate are we that we have this opportunity to walk in freedom and in the open spaces to reflect, to meditate in a sense, and be able to go home at the end of the experience. Unlike Nelson Mandela who was locked up in the Prison at Robben Island. He didn’t have the opportunities that I had today until he was released. And when he was released he showed gratitude in so many ways. An amazing man who was a superb role model.

Wide open spaces

Through grasslands and man made forests I trailed. Enjoyed the sights, smells, sounds and freedom. I have the privilege of walking as a hobby. Many women in South Africa don’t have that option. They have to walk to work and back. They may have access to public transport but they still have many kilometers to walk to get to the taxi ranks from home and from work. The #Walking4Women campaign is endeavouring to raise awareness amongst employers to be empathetic to women who have long distances to walk and who have to stand on their feet all day at work.

This plant is possibly the smelliest plant I have ever had the displeasure to smell. Yet it attracts hundreds of insects, which are its food. Aseroe rubra, commonly known as the anemone stinkhorn, sea anemone fungus and starfish fungus, is a common and widespread basidiomycete fungus recognizable for its foul odour of carrion and its sea anemone shape when mature. Wikipedia
There is amazing diversity in nature. Thank goodness. Can you imagine how boring life would be if everything was the same.

Back to gratitude. Be grateful every day for all the good things (small and large) that you have in your life. I’m glad I’m not that shongololo.

Thingi Fungi things

So often we walk/run without noticing the small things around us. We always looking for the obvious, and yet the small little things in life are often as interesting if not more so. All my life I have walked in the Umgeni Valley but only last year and again this year did I notice the fungi growing out of an ant hill. Not knowing what it was, the fungi became affectionately known as Thingie Fungi. On a hike during the course of last year, in discussion with a fellow hiker, I discovered that ants farm fungi. It helps with their food storage and breaking down of the food into edible units of food.

Made me think about how oblivious we, as humans, generally are. We look for the obvious but don’t investigate the not so obvious which quite often solves a problem or offers an answer. Like the ants use fungi, why don’t we as humans co-exist and help one another. In the current COVID crises we are looking at the virus and seeing death, destruction, financial ruin and devastation. Yet if we just take the time to look, investigate, try something new we may find the answers to the success we so desperately seek. Look away from the obvious and look into what’s not so obvious.

Add to that the beauty around us like the sunsets and even the scary snakes in our paths we can appreciate life and what it has to offer. In the obvious we take for granted that snakes hibernate in winter. Yet this winter I have seen more snakes than in any other year. They cross our paths and we cannot be held to ransom for this block in our path, go around, jump, hop or skip over the obstacle. Again don’t look at the obvious there is always something to be grateful for even if it seems like a block in our plans. The winter cold brings with it beauty as well as obstacles, but that should never stop us from reaching for our goals.

My goal to complete minimum of 10 kms a day for the month of July to celebrate and raise awareness of those who have to walk to and from work. Lets not let the cold, snakes and daily chores stop us from getting out there and enjoying what life and nature has to offer us.

These boots were made for walking

Two years ago I came home from a particularly wet and muddy hike. Left my very expensive, incredibly comfortable hiking boots on the tail gate of my Land Rover to dry. Completely forgetting that they were there, I drove off the next day with the boots still on the tail gate. The boots obviously fell off and some lucky person picked up a pair of amazing boots who had travelled many thousands of miles on my feet. I was very sad as those boots and I had history and many memories.

I tried various other hiking shoes and boots but didn’t find anything that suited me or felt right. Today I received a pair of Hoka Hiking boots that I had ordered online and decided I would take a chance on. A quick diversion here. I discovered Hoka walking/running shoes through interactions with the various international virtual walking/running groups that I am part of. I fell in love with my #Hokas. For the first time in many many years I do not suffer from burning balls of my feet during and after a walk. I decided that if they can make shoes that fit my soles then they can be the soul for my hiking boots.

Couldn’t wait to take them out for a trial hike. Off I headed into my favourite valley this morning. WESSA Umgeni Valley is my happy place. Tried these new boots on grass, dirt, rocks, steep inclines and sandy rocky banks. 10 kms later I arrived back home with comfortable happy feet and a smile on my face. Have fallen in love with my new hiking boots. Looking forward to many miles and memories to be made.

It does make me realise how blessed I am that I can purchase a pair of beautiful boots for my leisure and pleasure, whereas there are many who cannot afford a pair of shoes. Be blessed, stay humble and be kind.

Wanderings of a walker

Each day we need an incentive to keep going to achieve an end goal. A friend and I registered to wander around Rome (virtually). 100,000 steps was the challenge. We both thought it would take a lot longer than it did. Now we done. So what’s the next challenge? Who knows. I’m sure Facebook and Google knows what’s next as they both have an uncanny ability to make suggestions. Let’s wait and see what the next adventure will be compliments of suggestions via social media.

Kind Words

“Kind words and kind deeds keep life’s garden free of weeds”.

Not sure who wrote this but it certainly strikes a cord given the current crises the world is facing right now. The feelings of anxiety, stress, fear which are constantly eroding confidence and planning. It takes nothing to be kind, to smile, to share a compliment with someone. So why are we not doing this more often.

Walking almost every day I come across many different persons. Some are quietly avoiding me and not wanting to make eye contact. Yet when they do and I greet them with a friendly tone (through my mask) their facial features (eyes) light up. Just a simple good morning with a happy tone can make a difference. There are those who greet back wholeheartedly and a short conversation takes place. Usually leaving me feeling good about the positive interaction. These regular walks mean I get to recognise an number of people coming to and from work. We have a lovely routine of a hello/howzit how are you. It’s inconsequential conversation but with the right tone you can make a difference to someone. Those who are finished with a night shift are tired, having to take care of someone needing mental, emotional and physical help. A kind word goes a long way with someone who is tired.

The cashier at the supermarket has been on their feet for a long shift. Be kind. Be nice. Leave them feeling like you really appreciated the work they do. You like to be appreciated, offer the same in return.

Random Thoughts

“Days are like suitcases – the same size, but some people are able to pack more into them than others”. Anonymous

How true is that? At the end of some days, I look back and I think to myself…..what on earth did I achieve? On other days I look back and say, wow that was a phenomenal day.

How does one ensure that you pack into your day’s suitcase as much as you need to? No answer to that question, I’m afraid. Each day brings news challenges, new knowledge, new interactions and life happens. What you do need to ensure is that at the end of the day you can put your head on your pillow knowing that you have done, what you can do, and not beat yourself up about what you couldn’t do. During the day in your suitcase there needs to be a space for you. A breathing space for you to be you, to enjoy you, to do what you want to do. And don’t ever let anyone guilt you out of this. BUT and its a large BUT ensure that you have achieved something each day.

When we pack for holidays, we usually over pack and take far too much. That’s what our days are generally like. We try to pack far too much into them, instead of planning what we need and using only what is essential and leaving behind the unnecessary baggage.

Do yourself a favour and leave the unnecessary behind and enjoy what you have packed into your suitcase.

#Walking4Women 5th July 2020

During 2019 I took up the challenge to venture further afield than my usual walking routes. Thanks to KZN Trail Running I discovered some unique and varied places to walk and within a hour or twos drive from my home. Places that were previously unavailable to the public in general were now open to me via KZN Trail Running. Approximately 50% of my 2019 mileage was through this organisation. What fun I had. Meeting new people, chatting, learning about different places and spaces and the variety of people, their professions, their family, their love of the outdoors.

Of course a far amount of mileage also took place in my favourite valley WESSA Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve. As I child I grew up walking this valley as it was part of my dad’s farm. My dad being the original founder of Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve. I have walked this valley for most of my life and there is always something new to discover and see. This is my happy contented space. The place I love to be, the place that calms me, the place that sets everything in the world right, the place where my dad has his final resting place.

Other mileage during 2019 was through various formally organised races. SPAR Ladies, Deloittes, ECR Long Walk, Mandela, Rhino Run, Martizburg Marathon, to mention a few, and a couple of virtual races thrown in. I attempted the Longest Day for my 60th birthday, with the aim of completing 60 kms in 12 hours. Just made it but did it.

Walking has taught me a lot about determination. Set your sites on a goal and achieve it. Doesn’t matter how long it takes you, some days the mileage takes longer than others, but the journey is to be enjoyed. I never look for personal best times, it never concerns me how long it takes me. I set out with an idea in mind of how far I want to go. Usually I end up walking further as I get so engrossed in the scenery and the surroundings, that I forget how far I have walked. Walking has also allowed me to unlearn the planning of every journey. Just go out there and enjoy and who cares where you end up. One day I got so engrossed in the beauty of the forests that I landed up getting lost and having to walk a far longer distance than anticipated. Thank goodness for tracking devices as I was able to back track using my tracker.

There have been some days where I just felt that I couldn’t go another kilometre. There have been days when I just haven’t had the energy to go out and walk. There have been days when I have had to resort to the dreadmill to keep up with mileage. Days when I question my sanity in getting myself involved in various races, virtual and actual. 2019 did teach me that every day is to be enjoyed. Hitting the age of 60 somehow brings a certain realisation that you are not invincible, but you can finish what you started.

#Walking4Women 4th July

Let me start off by introducing myself and the reason for #Walking4Women. My name is Ali Engelbrecht. I am the voluntary CEO of a non profit organisation know as Women In Business, which is a social networking platform for entrepreneurial women.

At the end of November 2018 Facebook had a pop up advert for a group of virtual walkers. The challenge was 1,200 miles in 2019, called the Invincible Challenge. I had just finished a couple of years of studying part time and I needed something useful to fill my time, but something that wouldn’t be indoors. Having grown up on a farm and been an avid walker all my life, I decided I would take on this challenge.

During the course of 2019 I virtually met my other Invincibles. We interacted on a closed Facebook group. As the year progressed friendships were formed and a spin off was I became a virtual traveler and I became an informal ambassador for tourism in South Africa. We shared photos and personal trivia, laughed and encouraged one another and as we each reached the target of 1,200 miles, we celebrated. By the end of 2019 we decided that we needed to do another event so that we could maintain the common thread and stay in touch.

2020 brought many many challenges. The first one being 2,020 kilometres in 2020. The second one being the Lock Down due to COVID. Being in lock down and trapped within one’s own home and property created challenges but not insurmountable ones. I am very fortunate to live on a small holding. Mowed a maze of paths around the property and was able to enter many other virtual challenges and keep up my mileage for the 2,020 km challenge. The big bonus was to be able to work from home. Instead of spending two hours a day on the road to and from work, I used that time to walk. The mileage added up very quickly. We are now half way through the year, my mileage is 1,586 kms completed to-date.

A group of us girls, who are now firm virtual friends, decided to join as a team the Big Canada Race. 8,000 kms across Canada to be completed within a year. We agreed to our team name #BerniesBitches (story for another posting) setting off on 1st July to cross Canada virtually. Our Team Captain Bernie (a dog) and her mum Team Leader Janet have been instrumental in getting us organised and running (well in my case walking).

Throughout the 1,200 mile challenge in 2019 I came across other walkers on the road or on trails and just chatted in general. As a walker you are generally at the back of the pack and a lot slower than the majority. But you do get to talk to some amazing people who have such interesting lives. On the roads I chatted to many women walking to and from work. As the months progressed I realised that what I thought was invincible and fantastic was actually not. Many women (and men) who only have access to public transport to get to and from work, walk at least 1,200 miles in a year. The #Walking4Women awareness campaign was born. Through this #Walking4Women campaign I want to create awareness around how far women have to walk to and from work, and for employers to be empathetic towards these ladies. Often they have to stand for long hours at work making them leg weary. Creating awareness hopefully will make employers more understanding and supportive.

Having had many adventures over the last 18 months with the long distance walking, creating a following on social media and sharing the insights of the gorgeous places I get to walk, its now time to start recording these adventures.

More posts to follow. Explanation of Team Bernie Bitches also to follow in future posts.

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New World Business

21st century business requires more than product and services. 21st century business requires problem solving skills, agility and offering of product and services which are on the go and will make an already busy customer happy.

How to attract this social creature who is the 21st century consumer? The changes in the market demands are fluid, rapid and swayed by ‘likes’. However these ‘likes’ do not necessarily mean business. You could have millions of ‘likes’ and no interactions. Social media sites offer statistics that an entrepreneur can follow and analyse. Do this! These stats are useful. What you have to look at is the interactions because these are your interested customers. What are they looking for? Which posts did they interact with vs those they didn’t interact with. Are you using the # effectively and efficiently.

The 21st century customer is also looking for accountability and reliability. With the vast reach of social media it is not a good idea to offer shoddy service and then fob off poor service with excuses. That’s trouble asking to be taken up.

Look at adding value to your clients/customers. Offer them more than just your product or service. Women In Business is offering a free virtual race in November. Why are we doing this? We want to encourage healthy work life balance and we are wanting to introduce our members to new world thinking for Business.

Join #WomenInBusiness for a FREE virtual race from the 10th November 2019 until the 15th November. Yes you have 5 full days to complete this event or you can do it one day. Its absolutely up to you. Any where, any time at your own pace. Walk/run/cycle whatever turns your toes back 🙂
As its our first virtual race ever, its free. All you need to do is get off the couch, put on your walking shoes and walk or run for 12 miles (19 kilometers) wherever you are. That’s the joy of virtual walking – you don’t actually physically have to be where the virtual walk is.
Here’s how it works:
o Sign up by submitting your name and email.
o Run anywhere (seriously, anywhere).
o You track your activity by a GPS watch, app, sundial, change in the tides, or any other means.
o Reply to a daily email with your activity (yea! you’re smokin’ fast!).
o Your place on a map is plotted instantly (you get a really cool avatar!).
o Your total mileage will be tracked.
Sign up and get your friends to sign up! It’s always more fun when you’re running with friends.
https://womeninbusines.racery.com/r/women-in-business-virtual-walk/

Women In Business Virtual Walk