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Hello and welcome to my blog formerly called Gypsy-K. Please note that I am only updating this blog while I am walking from Rome to Jerusalem from September 2015. My online home and permanent blog is at www.kymwilson.com.au. You can also sign up for pilgrim postcards and newsletters here. Thank you for being here and supporting my journey. With love and courage, Kym xx

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Back seized, Rome to Jerusalem delayed

Right now, I should have been writing to you from Castel Gandolfo in Italy, expressing my great excitement to be in Italy and that after 20 months of dreaming, I had completed my first day of walking from Rome to Jerusalem. But I'm not in  Italy. I never made it to Rome so that I could take my first steps to Jerusalem. I am still in London with no plan to leave here within the next 2 weeks.

Last Monday night, after applying heat and cold to my sacroiliac joint to help its healing, my entire lower back seized. If you've never experienced a lower back seizure (which I hope you haven't and never do) essentially all the muscles in my lower back cramped causing searing, wrenching, life-gutting pain so great that I could barely lean forward. Bending over was out of the question. And standing up after being seated required me to use as little of my core as possible - arms and legs only. The pain was so great and I felt so weak that I lay down and tears streamed down my cheeks.

I've experienced some pretty bad physical pain in my life - broken bones, motorcycle exhaust burns, deep knife cuts and of course the tearing of my ankle ligaments back in March. The essence and sensation of each of these pains are so different but none quite as crippling as that back pain. It stopped me in my tracks. I could barely stand up yet alone walk with just my own body weight. I knew that unless I received a miracle (and I do believe in miracles) that I would not be able to start walking from Rome to Jerusalem as I planned.

I spent all of the next day in my friend, Viv's apartment sitting on my butt on the meditation cushion or on the edge of the futon bed which seemed to be the most comfortable posiition. Sometimes I cried because of the pain but instead of tryng to ignore it or run from it, I felt it and I asked it what it wanted to tell me.

Some may say I have had a string of bad luck this year - a long on/off illness at the beginning of the year, tearing the ligaments in my ankle, the return of my morton's neuroma in my left foot, injuring my sacroiliac joint and now this lower back issue. But it isn't bad luck. Although I'm not quite at the "yay this is fantastic" stage yet, I know this is a blessing in ways I am just starting to discover.

Those who know me or have followed my journey over the last seven years will know that I have been on one hell of a spiritual awakening journey. I understand that I create my reality through my thoughts and words. And I know that unexpressed emotions (which are just a form of energy) stay in the body until they are released through feeling them. Unexpressed or repressed emotions manifest in our bodies as dis-ease in the form of illnesses or injuries. My injuries are a way of my body and spirit speaking to me and also showi me where to look for the underlying issues that have caused the dis-ease. This isn't always an easy or pretty task - to look inward at the shadowy, less desirable parts of ourselves - but it is a necessary part of healing and spiritual growth.

Part of my awakening journey is the reclaiming of my divine feminine nature, a part of me that I disconnected from in childhood when I was hurt and that I shunned when I went out to succeed in the patriarchal world. Very early in my career, I witnessed a strong, passionate female mentor of mine discounted by male Executives for being too emotional so I hid my emotions at work as best I could in case I was seen as too emotional or too weak. I have hated the colour pink for years for being too girly. And part of me chose boxing for sport because it was hard and tough and not what most girls would do.

We all have masculine and feminine energy. The masculine is what gets things done whilst the feminine is concerned with feeling - our state of being. They are both necessary to put our dreams into action and get things done in the world but they must dance together in their own way unique to each of us for our lives to be harmonious. As I have discovered this year, too much doing or doing that is motivated by fear of not being enough, or of needing to achieve for my life to be meaningful, or needing to prove myself hurts the feminine within me. This over-doing has manifested as injuries to the left side of my body - the feminine side of my body. First my ankle, then my neuroma, then my sacroiliac joint.

As I have sat and spoken to my injuries with kindness and curiousity, I discovered why my back seized and was quite shocked by what I learned: I have suppressed my fear about this journey, walking alone from Rome to Jersualem through unknown lands that I might not be safe in.

At the time I tore my ankle ligaments, many people kept asking me if I was scared to undertake this pilgrimage alone. What I heard them saying was that they would be scared to do it and that I should be scared too. Now I hate being told how to feel and what to do. I reacted the way I always have since I was a child and my mother tried to tell me how to feel and what to do. Subconsciously, my stubborn, inner rebel rose up and took control. She decided that I wasn't going to be afraid because everyone expected me to and because being scared was weak. She stuffed it down where it couldn't be seen or heard and assuredly declared that she wasn't scared, that she only expected to meet curious and helpful people along the way to help her.

Futhermore, thinking this was a great opportunity to do something positive and show others, especially women, that they didn't need to be afraid to follow their dreams or to do it alone, I decided that I was going to be a kind of martyr and that my pilgrimage could serve as a lesson for others. I contacted my pilgrim friend, Peter, who had recently asked if he could walk with me and I told him that I now felt that I needed to walk alone.

Oh dear. How arrogant and foolish of me. How much have I misunderstood fear and judged others. And oh how I have been tremendously humbled. I say this with great love and kindness to myself.

Perhaps if I really listened and didn't judge what was being asked, I would have heard the question simply as it was asked then felt into my body where I would have felt the fear that was and is there. And instead of reacting, I would have answered, "Yes, I am afraid but I feel called to take this journey and I'm going to do it anyway." This way my fear could have accompanied me in my awareness to be used as an ally, to help me ascertain when my safety really could be at risk. Instead I shut it down and silenced it. I thought if I really felt my fear and acknowledged it that it might stop me from doing what I really want to do. But because I wasn't listening and fear needed to be acknowledged and part of this journey too it stopped me anyway by clamping my lower back muscles down around my root chakra  my centre of safety and security on earth - to get my attention so it could keep me safe.

As I said earlier, I believe in miracles, and in an act of grace, my back stopped seizing on Sunday about the time I would have landed in Italy had I been on the plane. The muscles are free and I can bend forward and move pain-free. However, I am left with the pre-existing sacroiliac joint dysfunction and pelvic instability so I'm not physically ready to start this pilgrimage yet. I also have some more inner work to do looking at the shadow parts of myself and reconnecting with the true essence that motivates me to walk rather than the one made up by my ego.

I am blessed to have a friend like Viv who is happy for me to stay here camped out in her lounge room for as long as I need. It's not surprising that my back has seized here. Viv lives in a basement apartment which essentially means that it is below ground level and looks out onto the surrounding garden. I sit amidst the roots of vines and trees going into the earth delving into the deep and often dark aspects of myself. It also helps that Viv is able to hold a safe and understanding space for me to do this.

I have a flight to Rome on the 15th September - a date I chose intuitively with a lot of hope when I changed Sunday's flight so I didn't forfeit the fare. But I don't yet know if I will be ready to start walking then. I don't yet know if my back will heal sufficiently that I can even start walking from Rome to Jerusalem this year.

There is a chance that I may need to surrender the walking - the doing part of this pilgrimage and just throw myself into being. You see whether I walk or not, the pilgrimage has already begun. For what is sacred and holy lies inside each one of us. We don't need to physically go anywhere to experience this but instead have the courage to sit silent and still and go deep inside bringing the light of our own love and compassion to our dark nooks and crannies and honour the divine light that burns at our very core.

Blackheath

Watching the baby ducks at the local pond on a rare sunny afternoon

Sitting in the sunshine - yay.

Because I love woden doors.

The obligatory shot.

View from loungeroom window in one of the few moments of sunshine we've had since Friday.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

In Germany with 11 days to go

I have been in Germany for almost 4 whole days now, spending time with my dear friend Ina who I haven't seen since I visited her here in 2011. We met back in 2009 in Phuket where she was my dive instructor for my divemaster course. Although we pretended to be very studious, we spent as much time talking about life as we did diving theory and practising diving skills.  A friendship quickly developed and extended beyond the diving classroom to coffees and beer o'clocks, travel and diving adventures. So far it has stood the test of time and distance with her now living here in Bavaria in Germany with her finace and me in Melbourne.

We have been going with the flow. Monday was a couch day as I had only 2 hours sleep in over 27 hours transit and it was raining. On Tuesday, we hiked up to the monastery and biergarten at Andachs where we ate their famous roast pork and meatloaf then walked down to Lake Amersee where we sailed to the otherside and back then browsed the nightmarket with its stalls of jewellery, clothing, wine and local foods. Yesterday we shopped in Augsburg whilst today we hung out by another lake near Friedberg and walked through the local woods. And of course we have been doing lots of talking and catching up whilst drinking lots of coffees.

Sometimes we talk about my pilgrimage, the way I plan to walk, how far it is and the potential risks but I'm not spending a lot of time thinking about it right now. Soon enough the time will come for me to start walking but right now I am just being here in Eurasburg with my friend enjoying what each day has to offer and the wide open spaces, the quiet, the green forests, the fresh air.

I am still riding the rollercoaster of pain from my injured left sacro-iliac joint. Some days I am pain-free. Fortunately it was fine the whole way from Melbourne to Munich. Then other days, like yesterday and today, the pain returns and gnaws away from my lower back to my hip and down my left thigh. My walking slows and the pain drains my energy.

I don't know how this journey will unfold. I don't know if I will be able to make it all the way to Jerusalem. Sometimes when the pain is bad I wonder if I will even be able to make it out of Rome. 

But as I learned during my Via Francigena pilgrimage, sometimes its best not to look at the destination but instead to focus on your feet and the next step you have to take. This strategy helped me to climb a lot of tough hills and to keep going on some long, tiring, painful days. 

Sometimes we have to be okay with the not knowing how things will turn out and if we are going to make it and just take the next step anyway.

As I enjoy just being here in Bavaria, I feel the great current of life hold me and take me gently into the day to the next experience then the next. Despite the pain and the uncertainty, I trust and I know, that everything is going to work out just fine - just possibly in ways I could never have expected.

View from Andachs monastery

Me and Ina on the way down from Andachs

The enchanted forest

Paddlesteamer coming in to the pier at Herrsching am Amersee

Castle house by the lake at Herrsching am Amersee

Pier at sunset - Herrsching am Amersee

Tree massage at the night market at Herrsching am Amersee

Lake near Friedberg

Path to the forest in Eurasburg

Enchanted forest in Eurasburg


Sunday, 31 August 2014

Where is Gypsy K?

I returned to Melbourne in early February and after riding out the normal turbulence I experience resettling into city life I started walking my new path.

I have written and edited my book about my Via Francigena journey and my path to that path. I am currently sending it out to publishers.

And I built myself a new online home, not as Gypsy K but as myself, writer and coach.

For five years I have loved writing this blog sharing my travels, musings and search for purpose. As I walked the Via Francigena, I found it.

You will now find me at www.kymwilson.com.au  I hope you will visit me there and sign up for my newsletters to find out about my new adventures.

As for Gypsy K...the gypsy is still in me. Early next month I will be scuba diving from Maumere to Ambon in Indonesia; Next year I will continue walking from Rome to Jerusalem. And maybe, just maybe I will wander back here from time to time but for now my time and energy are directed to building my new home at www.kymwilson.com.au

Thank you for being here, for being interested in my journey and my story.

With love
Kym






Thursday, 30 January 2014

Over Sunday's hill: The Return

have been quiet here, this my first post this year.

After leaving southern England's cold, grey, wet, windy weather behind I landed in Phuket in the height of high season. Warm days, cool nights, crowded and noisy beaches, busy and dangerous roads. It has taken me a few weeks to adjust and love being here on this island again. For a while I thought I loved it no more. But I still do.

I have spent my mornings lying on the day bed on the verandah of the beautiful house where I am staying, surrounded by swaying palm trees, dappled by sunlight, listening to the birds chirp and chatter and circle the blue sky before me. I have regular visitors here; the flock of cranes that circle at dusk, a magnificent eagle that soars by day, a pair of ravens that sit in the jacaranda tree at dusk and a pair of Indian Myna's that even landed on the verandah railing a metre away from me yesterday. I have been writing, reflecting, journalling. One can still journey even when they are standing still.

On Monday, I will start my return to Melbourne. For a few days, I contemplated delaying the journey, changing my flights and staying here for another month. I have had a tendency to cling to what I love. But no more. My life is a river. It weaves its own path into unknown terrain. Sometimes it pools for a while until it gains the depth and momentum to continue on. But I no longer dam it. It flows. And the flow is bringing me home to Melbourne, again, for an indefinite while.

In Pilgrimage - the sacred art, Dr Sheryl A Kujawa-Holbrook writes that "pilgrimage is a transformational experience, which moves the pilgrim from home and back again in order to view the self and the world differently. For pilgrims merely to reach the destination is not enough unless upon returning home they are compelled to make changes." 

I am in the third stage of pilgrimage, incorporation, which she describes as "where the pilgrim integrates new learning and new ways of being into her life and journey home." In pilgrimage, there is a separation - a leaving, a transition - the journey and incorporation - the return home. I am returning home, bringing the fruits of what I experienced and learned and entering a new phase of my life. I have the answers to my questions that I have chased and pleaded and beseeched and allowed to guide me for 5 years. I bring a fierceness to begin.

There is no preparation required to return. Just a quiet surrender into the flow and to love every last minute of my time here. Massages, beach time, swimming in the sea, diving, sitting on the sand feeling the earth's softness and solidness beneath me, and dying into every sunset.

See you next week my Melbourne loves.

K
xx












Thursday, 19 December 2013

Grief, 17 years on.

For years I lost you
in the silence
and the wounds
buried with you.
Forgetting's fortress
served its master well
until the grief 
that grew untended
fissured its walls.
I dived deep
into its grey, fickle sea
and gradually surfaced
with eyes, open,
carrying gifts, open.

All these years
you marched with me
through the ashes of my life
until I could see you
in these small flames
burned to nothingness.
To strike a match
softens sorrow.
To light a candle
summons spirit.
To bow to pain and love
honours all that is human.
This ritual to remember;
your life a gift,
my life a gift
because you lived.

On this day 17 years ago, my mum took her last breath and was finally free of her pain-ridden disabled human body. She tried to prepare me for her death by speaking of it. She knew it was coming. When it came, I was not surprised but not prepared. It forever changed my world.

There are no instruction manuals or classes to teach a daughter how to live without her mother. Grief must be lived and deeply, deeply felt until its gifts can be open. It is only in the last two years that I started to open those gifts and unlock the lessons of our tumultuous relationship. Slowly, this day is changing from one of pure sadness and desolation to an honouring and loving remembrance of the gift it was.

Allison Nappi's words resonate strongly;

"The Truth: The truth is there are losses you never get over. They break you to pieces and you can never go back to the original shape you once were, and so you will grieve your own death with that of your beloved lost...

And herein lies the gift that cannot die. It changes the course of your life forever. If you allow yourself the chance to feel it for as long as you need to — even if it is for the rest of your life — you will be guided by it. You will become someone it would have been impossible for you to be, and in this way your loved one lives on, in you."

A standstill

From Milngavie to York to Grantham to Folkingham where I spent 4 days with a Joy sister in a beautifully renovated grade 2 apartment.  Then Grantham to London to Grove Park to Bromley North to Old Netley where I am now standing still.

Old Netley is a small and quaint village near Southampton to the very south of England. It is not as cold here as Glasgow or Folkingham but it sure does get windy and rains a lot. It has rained almost every day since I arrived five days ago and it has rained solidly for the last 5 hours. Not that it really matters anymore. I am dry and warm and there is nowhere in particular I need to walk.

I am staying with my dear friend Viv once again, sharing her attic room on the third storey of a narrow terraced house. My bed, a hard futon, lies along the length of the floor to ceiling window with a view of Southampton water above the terrace houses roofs, although the vista is slightly marred by the oil refinery on the other side of the bay. Sleeping close to the ground on a hard mattress feels like I am sleeping directly on the earth. The connection is grounding and comforting. Being able to see the sea and walk beside it is a sweet torment; it ignites my longing to dive and swim in a tropical sea once again.

I have spent quite a few hours just gazing out the window watching the trees sway in the wind, the gulls hang on the invisible but audible breeze, the clouds drift over the ever changing-sky and the ferries, cargo ships, yachts and occasional cruise-liner sail into and out of the harbour. I have done a little strolling along the sea, into the woodlands and into the village to buy supplies for dinner. I have enjoyed being able to cook and nurture myself and Viv through nutritious meals, to hand-wash dishes, to launder my own clothes. I even went for a run for the first time in 3.5 months. My feet protested; sore heels, tight arches, some lingering numbness in a couple of toes from a suspected neuroma I can feel in my left foot. I have returned to hobbling around the house.

Finally I feel like I have been able to come to a complete stop and enjoy it. From the momentum of 12 weeks walking 4 kilometres per hour to being in the one place with no destination I needed to walk was a difficult adjustment to make.  I started calling myself lazy several times a day. A lazy person does not walk 2,000 kilometres. Lazy is now gone from my vocabulary. I am relaxing, regrouping, reverbing, reviewing this incredible year that is coming to a close and feeling into the next year. All I can say for now is it is going to be Fierce. Fierce with a capital F. Fierce. Fierce. Fierce.

Watch this space.


Glasgow










Near Milngavie

Loch Lomond


Loch Lomond Shores (at 4pm)


York



Folkingham

Stamford


Folkingham



Bourne Woods




Folkingham


Old Netley