I have been in Rhodes in Greece for just over a week.
I came to escape London for a bit, recover from the last few months…oh and write my next book “Leading from the Back”
Rhodes is where I run an annual retreat, and despite having been here 4 times before I never really understood it’s magic until yesterday.
My friend Elizabeth (who helps me run the retreats I run here annually) met me at the airport last Saturday.
She told me yesterday while on a drive to do some hiking,
“When I saw you coming through you looked depleted”
I guess I was.
It had been a tough 6 months.
I feel like over the last 7 days though, I have slowly but surely found my energy again.
Morning hikes to ancient sites, long swims in the oceans, beautiful beaches, kind people, gorgeous food….and time, time to read, and think, and just be.
Sounds lush right?
But I am not oblivious to what’s going on back home, and I do have pangs of guilt that I am away living my best life, while everyone else is facing a grim reality.
We went for a 10K hike yesterday. As always I was a little under-prepared.
I only had one bottle of water, no snacks…and I’d had a very light breakfast of some smoked salmon and a cup of tea.
There was a group of around 30 hikers, mainly Greek locals, but a few tourists like me. We set off at 10am…when it was already quite warm and we took a circular route, up, up and more up for the first 3 miles. I thought my heart was going to explode out of my chest.
It’s been a while since I have even walked up a hill let alone hike up them one after the other, after the other. But the company was good, the views were spectacular…and I had lots to ponder on.
Me and Elizabeth talked about what it feels like to be right at the back all the time, but in fact we were not on this hike, there were folks behind us.
I think its that thing of not wanting to be a burden, not wanting to hold up the group, not wanting to look weak or incapable, and maybe a little bit of “OMG I am so unfit…why do I not do more to keep myself in shape”
But to be fair, I felt chuffed that I had A) said yes to the hike, and B) was getting the job done.
Less than 2 months ago I was struggling to walk to my local post office, the 5-minute walk leaving me out of breath, and with lower back pain. Lockdown with a 7-year-old was tough, going from training for a marathon to doing almost nothing, was tough.
So yeah…getting my fitness and confidence back with fitness activities would take a bit of time.
Around an hour in we stopped as a group to refuel and take on water, and catch our breath I guess. A kind lady handed out digestive biscuits which I have never been so grateful for…and my friend poured some of her water into my canister.
A group photo was taken…and then we were off again…my thinking is that if we had come up for an hour, we must need to go back down ha ha.
For around 20 minutes we did go down, through a dry river bed, which was quite technical, with drops down, and branches to navigate. My brain hurt from all the concentrating.
But there were more uphill sections too, and my calves and thighs were screaming. And my energy levels were pretty low. At one point Elizabeth literally had to pull me up a hill with a stick.
Towards the end of the hike we came to a lovely little church, with beautiful views and a water tap…but the supply had been cut off, I’d have to wait to hydrate.
One final decision to be made regarding the route, up or down. I wanted it sooooo much to be down, but nope…you guessed it, the last 400 meters was up, to the springs where we had started.
And we found a tap that did work…I have never taken on so much water in one go.
We made it.
10K, 240 meters of elevation, 2 hours and 45 minutes.
Life is like a hike, in many ways.
- We are not always prepared for its twist and turns
- It is tough
- There are more ups than downs
- We stumble and pick ourselves up
- The easy path isn’t always the right path
- It is better experienced with friends
- Sometimes you have to get along with strangers too
- You have to learn to endure
- There are then moments of real beauty
- There is no award for coming first…nor a booby prize for coming last
I was thinking on the final stretch of the hike when my friend Elizabeth had dropped back to help a lady who was struggling (always the mother and nurturer is my friend) I was thinking about adventure…and how it is always the thing which gets me up and out from the blips in my life.
Every high moment in my life, came of the back of something shitty happening, every adventure came about from needing to escape the bullshit that is everyday life sometimes.
During lockdown we had to find the adventure in the every day….which of course was a challenge, but it did teach me that often it is perspective which helps us to escape.
I remember setting up a hammock on my balcony and getting up at 5am one morning, and laying in it with a blanket while listening to an audio book and drinking hot tea before Rose got up.
That kept me energised for the rest of the day.
My invitation to you guys is to not give up on the idea of adventure, and testing your limits. To be creative and open to adventure coming in different ways. To look at how you can keep curious, find opportunities to explore what life has to offer. Books, group programmes, friendship circles, day trips, new walking routes, looking up at whats around you rather than at your feet…that’s a sure way to be whacked in the head by a branch right Elizabeth???
3 years ago I did a TEDx talk on Living a Bigger Life…and I developed an online coaching course for women who want to rediscover what’s important to them, so that they too could live bigger.
My current cohort are about to start planning their Big Fat Stupid Goal this week, and I can’t tell you what a wonderfully uplifting group it is, and a real pleasure to see them all working on their values, and what’s important to them.
I have decided to run one final cohort before 2020 is up.
So if you would like to work with me for 6 weeks on putting yourself first for a change, rediscovering who you are and what you really want to do with your life (COVID or no COVID) then check out Stop Playing Small…we start on the 9th November…when I will be back in the UK.
Julie Creffield is the founder of Too Fat to Run?
Plus size marathon runner, author, speaker, adventurer and life coach. She has spent the past decade helping women thinking bigger, and live bigger and more exciting lives, prioritising health, wealth and happiness.
She is currently residing in Rhodes, Greece where she is writing her 9th book, Leading from Behind which you can preorder now.