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Part 2 - Taking off my shoes / the afterstory

a blog by Paula van Loon

“Feel the fear and do it anyway” is a sentence in a book I was reading on my way to Portugal. It was exactly what I was doing. Traveling alone while feeling scared and courageous at the same time. That sentence became a motto that still resonates and inspires me back home.

In my first blog I talked about the preparations, facing my fears and getting out of my comfort zone. Now I want to share the cool stuff that happened during the trip. And epiphanies I had along the way.

Group traveling - walking the Fisherman’s Trail with Knapsack Collective

We walked the trail with a group of six. Such nice, funny people. We had a lot of fun! In total, we covered about 120 km in 7 days. And yes, I walked all of it. With my backpack. Most of it in loose/powdery sand. No, not always funny. But yeah, I did it! Without blisters as well.

I run out of words to describe the amazing views, the sound of the sea and the positive feelings I experienced along the way. It was the best trip I have made so far in my life. No regrets at all!

Coaching along the way

Almost every day we started to walk one hour in silence. It’s so nice to walk without feeling the need to talk to anyone. I could enjoy everything around me even more. The views, the sound of the sea and birds, the hiking. Doing coaching and reflection exercises in nature is such a plus! Being on the beach for a lunchbreak, coaching session or swim break. Or doing yoga in the sand, because we felt like it. It made me feel free.

During the trip I was in a state where I could totally surrender to everything. Something I didn’t experience for a long time. I didn’t check my watch. I didn’t check my phone. I didn’t worry about when and where to eat. It was such a relief! There was so much space to experience, to reflect and to be creative.

We did exercises in small groups, one-on-one or with the whole group together. We spoke about what brought us here, what we wanted to learn and what we wanted to change. We also made a droplist of items we wanted to leave behind. This could be physical things, but also a feeling or a thought. My list was looonngg!! I will not bother you with the details ;) Thomas and Roos helped with all of this. They are such nice, talented coaches! And funny too, which made the trip so much easier.

My biggest epiphany - choosing faith over fear

On my way to Portugal I realized that I have two options in life. I can choose to be afraid or to have faith. Right then and there, I chose to have faith. A decision that helped me during the rest of the trip. While walking the trail I overcame limiting thoughts and fears. All of the fears that haunted me before going, proved unnecessary. Ok, I was still afraid of flying, but I survived! I didn’t get any panic attacks, I had all the things I need, I slept easily every night at a different place (you’re so tired physically that you don’t care where you sleep ;)). The group was perfect, everyone was nice and easy-going. At one point I was standing at a small part of a cliff. “Wait? What? Aren’t you scared of heights?” one of my travel buddies asked me. I’m not saying I overcame all those fears forever, but I found a way to deal with them. Something I can use for the rest of my life.

Plans for the future

For sure I want to travel more. This was such an amazing experience! It’s so easy to make contact with people and it’s so nice to decide for yourself what you want to do. And not having to adapt to someone else. I don’t have any concrete plans yet, I want to take the time for a next solo-trip. I don’t have to rush things, I know it will come. Life will show me when it’s time. Most important is that I fill my life with joy and do things I love. I want to be more outdoor and creative. Since I came back, I’ve been brainstorming a lot with friends. Making moodboards, drawing, writing, reading. My plan to start a business on my own is something I’m investigating now. I know the area’s I like: nature, being outdoors, coaching, writing/blogging/social media. So maybe I can make a combination of this in the future! Would be perfect :)

Looking back on the trip, I realize that it’s ok to be scared. Everything that is new, unknown can be scary. But it will not hold me back anymore. Now I know there is so much more to discover past the fear. I will walk down the path of faith and see where it takes me. I’m excited!

*This is the short version of my story. Want to read more? Check my complete story at my website.

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