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Month: January 2019

Strong winds to blow your worries away

Strong winds to blow your worries away

Todays weather forecast

Heavy showers of blessings,

Strong winds to blow your worries away,

Followed by warm hugs and kisses

To put a smile on your face 

This Sunday morning the rain is pouring down heavily. If it wasn’t such a special day today, I think I would probably turn around again and go back to sleep. That’s not going to happen because today is going to be the first walk of our new challenge for 2019. In 22 walks we’re going to walk all 12 regions of the Netherlands and we hope, by the end of the year, to raise a lot of money for Bloodwise, one of the charities supported by My Peak Challenge.

The weather forecast tells us there will be heavy showers today, but if we are lucky, they will not start until we’re done. And lucky we were, for as long as we walked, there was hardly any rain, not more than a couple of lost drops.

This month, January, is the month of the Peakstreak, or for those who are new to the MPC program, they can choose to do the Peak Foundation program. Those of you who are Peakers know exactly what I’m talking about. For those who don’t, the Peakstreak is a challenge, invented by one of the coaches of MPC, to fill the gap between the end of one year’s program and the start of a new one. This year we are asked do “The 100.” Every day you do something a 100 times. You read 100 pages, do a 100 sit ups, do 100 burpees, or walk for 100 minutes. Just be creative.

At first I thought, “I can do this.” I could walk 100 minutes a day, write 100 words a day or, as one of my Dutch Peaker sisters said, I could do a 100 sips (of whisky) each day. Uhhh, that last one sounds good but really, a 100 sips? I couldn’t commit to that, not during this month, (not any other month!) where I promised Bloodwise to lose the booze and I joined a challenge of doing a sugar free detox! And on top of that I promised myself, no honestly I kicked my ass, to get back to the gym, twice a week. The last couple of weeks I haven’t been there much. Shame on me!

So about Peakstreak, what am I going to do about that? Nothing! I am going to do nothing, I am going to be a rebel this month. I am not going to do anything, each day, for 31 days, a hundred times, minutes, miles, yards, kilo’s, sips, steps, bites and anything else you can come up with. I am going to the gym twice a week, lose the booze for a whole month and do the sugar free challenge, and that’s it! If I can do that, it will make me feel a hundred times better. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against the Peakstreak. I love to see and read what everybody else is doing. I just don’t have the motivation of being creative. Doing the things I want to do and holding on to them satisfies for the moment.

As I told you at the beginning of this story, today we start our first walk. We begin in Hoorn, a region in Noord-Holland which has existed since 1840. It was then that the region named Holland was divided in North and South Holland. The city of Hoorn lies 24 miles north of Amsterdam. Not far from Hoorn lies a very tiny place called Schellinkhout (828 inhabitants) directly situated on the Markermeer. Why am I telling you this? Well, first of all this was the area that fellow Peakers Vera and Henry organized their walk and second, I thought after my last challenge I was done with walking dykes. Yet here I was, walking a dyke for a little more than 4 miles while a very strong wind was blowing and nearly blew us off the dyke. But after 13 miles we had seen some amazing views, historic buildings and even a Dutch mill.

At the end of 2018 Dutch Peakers Walking was born, and a lot of Dutch Peakers were enthusiastic to join us in walking all over the Netherlands. To do these walks with us, some of us have to drive almost two hours to get there. But every time we meet it feels like a little reunion, there is a lot of hugging and kissing. For those of us who walked frequently last year, we came to know each other pretty well. Others got to see each other for the first time. Positive as we are, and also a little bit crazy, we are determined the weather will improve as soon as we start walking. Apparently we are blessed with heavy showers of good luck. The moment we start walking it’s dry. Those of us who joined us today and wanted to get their heads clear, today was a good day for that.

I told you before, strangers are strangers until they meet. Every walk I meet new people and every walk I have such interesting conversations. Last year I made an appeal in the Dutch Peaker group if there was somebody who would walk with me, and Miranda volunteered. She responded, “I will but what’s the distance you are going to walk?” I said that I do 6 miles at least. And she said, I’m glad I can do half of them. She recently had two operations on her hip.And isn’t it amazing that this same lady walked almost 13 miles today? I am so proud of her!

I also talked to Saskia today. Saskia is a shepherd. She used to herd a flock of sheep around Rotterdam. And I hear you thinking, what does a shepherd do in the outskirts of a city? Well, I did.  It has everything to do with city’s grazing of the natural environment. Now she herds several flocks of sheep (about 150) on different fields in a bullpen near Maassluis. I thought there were only flocks of sheep in the eastern part of the Netherlands. Apparently I was wrong.

And after a lot of talking and laughing, we came back. And what’s more warming at the end of the day when your guides serve you a nice cup of healthy, homemade soup, and you look around and see all these people with warm rosy cheeks. That puts a smile on my face, and I’m looking forward to the next walk.

Let’s walk into 2019

Let’s walk into 2019

Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead.

Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow.

Just walk beside me and be my friend.

-Albert Camus –

As I begin writing this, it’s been raining cats and dogs during our drive through Germany. We are not traveling alone. In front of us with a huge trailer attached tot heir car are our dear friends and neighbours. Together we’re drinving to Hungary to celebrate Christmas.

A little over a year ago our neighbours bought a house in a little place called Miklósi. It was a rather old house with a lot of surrounding ground. So far they have done a lot of renovation.Up till the day before we arrived, the workmen were busy making a second bedroom so we all (except for the children) could sleep in the house. Last summer they moved their mobile home to Hungary, and that’s were the children are sleeping.

If you wonder what’s in the huge trailor? How about two beds, matrasses, a big garden table, a cabin and some sort of a trunk. A second bedroom means you have to have some extra furniture!

The first day we drove until Bischofsmais, Germany, where we reserved a  hotel room for one night. It was such a nice hotel with very hospitable people and excellent food.

Because of the Christmas hollidays there was a lot of traffic along the way. We decided to drive through Slovenia, because of a huge traffic jam in Austria. Driving through Slovenia saved us at least an hour. Apparently we weren’t the only ones going on a holliday!

The last couple of weeks have been busy for me and my love. He had a lot of work that had to be done ( my love is a carpenter and runs his own business). People always think there will be no more days after the hollidays, and everyone wants their jobs done before Christmas.

For me, it had also been a busy period. Besides my work, I finished my challenge and at the same time was already thinking and planning a challenge for next year. I asked each and every Dutch Peaker to organize a walk in their own region. A little over 30 Peakers responded to my call. Amazing! Some of them wanted to organize, and others just want to walk.

So I scheduled 22 walks throughout the year in every region of the Netherlands and even included a whole weekend to one of the Frisian Islands. Each walk is organized by another Peaker. Sometimes even two! My personal challenge for 2019 will be walking all 22 of them.

I think it’s an amazing new challenge for next year. Show me the beauty of your own backyard. Show me places I’ve never been before, Show me views that silence me. Show me nature in every season of the year. Let me meet new Peakers, reconnect with the ones I met before and treasure the stories they tell me. I’m so looking forward to it.

2019 is going to be a challenging year in many ways.

Besides all these beautiful walks me and my love got infected with the Scotland-virus. Honestly I was already infected when I visited the country over 10 years ago, but every time I go back I get a little homesick leaving the country.

Last year we walked the West Highland Way. This year we’re going to walk the Rob Roy Way.

After having walked the WHW I somehow got addicted to walking. After years of chronic pain,  because of a severe Achilles Tendon injury, I was finally able to walk without almost no pain at all. And once you are addicted, there’s no program to get clean. There is no withdrawl, no cures, no treatments. You simply have to learn to deal with it.

And when you don’t? You begin to feel restless. You’re desperatly seeking a way to do so anyway. A short walk(let’s say 3 miles) is enough to adress some of the symptoms: restless legs, the need to go outside, and the bad temper because you stayed inside for far too long.

Not going for a walk means you lack of energy, you can’t clear your head and you become uninspired. Does this sound familiair? If so, I’m afraid your an addict yourself.

All the more reasons why you should put on your walking shoes, grab your coat and go outside. Invite friends to come and join you and before you know it you have organized a challenge of 22 walks all over the Netherlands!

I recently read an article by a woman who also walks a lot, and she collected 55 reasons why it should be good to walk. Those of you who don’t like to walk can hardly imagine,  but it makes me happy. My body is producing two important chemicals ( endorfine and serotonine) which makes me feel relaxed. It really loosens me up and when I get back home I feel happy!

There was one other reason that appealed to me: walking teaches you more about  your own backyard, to look at it in a different perspective. I can assure you it does and doing it with my love or my Dutch peaker sisters, it’s also a social and cozy activity.

But back to our journey in Hungary. It’s late in the evening on day two when we finally arrive in Miklósi. Over the next couple of days we celebrate christmas with our neighbours, made delicious food ouside, and me and my love did some walking.

We went to Igal, to enjoy the thermal bath, to Kaposvár to have a nice cup of coffee and take some pictures of a Christmas stable with wooden statues. So beautiful.

On Boxing Day me and my love went to Tihany, a peninsula on lake Botania, and took a long walk. It surprised us that the isle was almost deserted. We passed some large resorts and there was  hardly a soul there. But we also walked into some beautiful views of nature. I think it most be absolutely beautiful in the summer.

Believe it or not but it was there, while walking, that I already got another idea, another challenge. I think that when I’m done with the Netherlands, my new challenge for 2020 should be walking as many countries in Europe as possible. Asking my European Peakers to organize a walk for me and for other Peakers in their country. How amazing would that be?

Thank you Hungary for the wonderful week we had. We’ll be back, that’s for certain.

And that’s how 2018 came to an end. I did some awesome things and there will be a lot of them next year.

I wish all my readers a healthy and happy 2019 and let’s walk into 2019!