100 Days Of Awe: Day Thirty One – SatNav4TheSoul Toolbox

Day 31: SatNav4TheSoul Toolbox

IMAG0696I have to fess up that I didnt take this picture today.  I took it when I walked on the Camino Francais to Santiago de Compostela in 2012.  It is my blog avatar and the image I use to represent my SatNav4TheSoul app toolbox.  But this blog is not intended to be about gratuitous self promotion but rather about awe.

I use some simple but powerful question based processes in my coaching work.  Often after a session I would be asked for the process, assiduously I would write up these questions and email them off. I have no idea if they were ever used again but I was conscious of their flatness outside the context of a coaching session.  I launched my first app FindYourMojo in 2012 but it was only last year that the idea to encapsulate some of my other tools as apps emerged.   With the benefit of a visual design to create some of the support of a coaching session these could be more powerful takeaways for my clients or for anyone curious about intuitive coaching.  It is one thing to conceive of an idea, quite another to bring it to life and it throws me back into my old life as a systems analyst and writing technical documnentation; scoping out a design, schemas and functional specifications.  Design and schemas are completed and now I have intensive focus on the nitty gritty of the functional specifications.  I am not there yet but today I was conscious of the ease of being in the flow of the spirit of the toolbox.  And that is awesome.

100 Days of Awe is a playful project I set up to bring my attention to awe in my daily life. I see awe as wonder, a mixture of amazement and respect.  I expect the experience of awe to be about perception shifting awareness and that demands a reframing of some sort.  I am excited to see what will awe me on this journey.

Anne K. Scott is an imagination technologist, her work to teach, facilitate and deliver innovation for individuals and business.  She is the creator of FindYourMojo a FREE iPHone productivity app. If you are interested in what intuitive coaching can do for you please do contact me.  I support clients all over the world.


Camino Diary: Walking The Camino Francais Day Forty Eight

DAY FORTY EIGHT: 25 November 2012 Muxia to Santiago de CompostelaIMAG1502 (2)I was sitting on an escarpment in Swaziland in August 2012 when I first saw this pilgrimage; a trail laid out across scrubby, foreign land, a long, long walk leading all the way, I imagined, to the sea and a sailor in a pea green boat.  Over the subsequent months I had followed the clues to arrive in Galacia and I am now curious about this rocky shore the end of the walk.  What would the reality of the metaphor be?  Could my sailor be Miel the policemen from San Sebastian in his high tech fluoro green walking jacket or is it the soul of Ireland on the distant horizon or perhaps something else all together?  What colour is pea green anyway?

I had dinner with Tobias from Denmark after the Marea documentary in Restaurent de La Lolo.  This was the classiest restaurant with a pilgrim menu so far.  Sleek, modern ecletic style more suited to hot Summer days than chilly winter but the heating was on and the staff were pleasant.  The 3 course menu proved to be pleasantly different from the usual pilgrim fare and the wine seemed extra special too. If we weren’t in pilgrim attire we could have been mistaken as a couple; me the cougar and Tobias my toyboy.  Tobias is polite, good company, has great manners and a Colgate smile.  He has a face that will only grow more handsome as he shape shifts into his life whatever that may be.

Miel is Tigger in the morning, eager for breakfast and company but my preference, Restaurent de La Lolo of the night before, doesnt sit well with him.  I hold my ground and have breakfast to my delight on my own.  I am assimilating this trip. I want to savour the last drops of it dripping slowly and honour it’s closure.  A short walk from the town is the headland where the Virgin Mary came to assure Saint James that his mission to convert the population of Fisterra from their pagan worship of the sun had been a success.  I have no intention of being blasphemous but my guess is that Mary was a mistress of metaphor while poor old James was getting all bogged down in the logical reality.  A bit like me and my sailor in his pea green boat.

Mary’s boat is said to be still here, petrified on the headland below the imposing coastal-Gothic style church of Our Lady of The Boat.  I was curious to see it.  Sure enough there are are three huge stones one of which definitely looks like the upturned hull of the boat and another has a look of a sail.  The third stone, supposedly the rudder is a little less convincing.
IMAG1527IMAG1529I suppose it is no surprise that my original curiosity to follow the Camino to the sea was spurred by an imaginary sailor man.  Muxia and Fisterra are fishing ports after all and where there be working boats, there be pleasure yachts and handsome sailors.  Over lunch of whole baby squid, slathered in butter I muse the symbolic currency of this stone boat with the romantic talisman of my imagination.  At the day’s end the boat I left on was a modern day coach, a behemoth of a vehicle muscling its way through the narrow arteries of Galacia’s rural rocky roads back to Santiago de Compostela.  And my companion? Miel in green, both of us passengers back to life.

Camino Diary: Walking The Camino Francais Day Forty Two

DAY FORTY TWO: 19 November 2012 Santiago de Compestela to Negreira and strictly speaking Day One of the Camino Fisterra

I have been embedded in the womb of normality, material comforts and pleasures in Santiago.  The busy distraction of the mortal coil.  In two short days I had been lured back into the gnawing seduction of the derma of life.  In preparation for the plunge back into this new camino I moved into the far more ascetic Mundoalbergue a far remove from the clawing comfort of the Hotel La Campanas de San Juan.  Still my plastic coated double mattress managed to soothe me into a lie in and my departure was delayed by a Monday morning dash to the post office, the search for the comfort of a chocolate bar and the inessential necessity to purchase a copy of John Brierleys Camino Finisterre guide.  I choose to deny my guide book co-dependency.

It is nearly half past one and I have still to stride beyond urban graffiti.  I am surprised how quickly the city of Santiago dissolves into the robust prolificacy of green Galacia.  One minute a busy intersection and the next the oaken parkland of Carballeira de San Lorenzo.  This is the least strenuous stage of the Camino Finisterra but leaving Santiago is excruciating; I am pushing against the heavy tide of low vibrational life as I resist its covetous tide of ripping and sucking.  It feels so real but around me just the gentle earthy breathe of an unassuming autumn afternoon.

I am the last pilgrim, the only pilgrim.  There is a nothingness to this walking today.  I am leaving the fun and camaraderie behind.  I am now truly walking my own camino.  You would think I was walking into the desert; 40 days and 40 nights of solitude ahead of me.  Lost in my imaginative musings and dramas I hardly notice the flash of a late leaving Kevin stride past me.  Then I am back in the rhythm of the past 3 weeks of walking when I was never quite the last to leave town.  Now I know for sure there is at least one other pilgrim out there.  Despite knowing there is company on the road the afternoon is leaden, clouded and darkened by the early shuttering of the day.  There is an urgency to afternoon walking in late November and this way does not have the same feel for pilgrims.  The rush into Santiago is but a trickle coming out the other side.  In 2012 I was one of 134,979 pilgrims who walked the Camino Francais, the Camino Finisterra doesnt even get a mention in the Pilgrim Office statistics, just 873 for Otros Caminos.  Less than a mere 1.5% of the mob that I had spent the previous 6 weeks with.  No wonder the feeling of aloneness.

Myself and Kevin agreed to meet at Albergue “San Jose” in Negreira – a grey splat of a town with little sense of any pilgrim affinity.  The address is a modern apartment block on the newly expanding edge of town; closed but not out of business.  All we had to do was call a local mobile number.  Kevin was lounging at the door depending on me to have a phone that was charged.  On the last lingering of its juices we managed to contact the Swiss owner.  Our pristine chalet style expectations are quickly modified as we are brought up two floors to a business like urban apartment with three or four bedrooms untidied by the remnants of previous tenants.  Nonetheless we are the only two booked in for the night and we have a room and a bathroom each.  For first time on my camino I get to indulge in a steaming hot read in the bath.  All I was missing was a glass of wine.

Buoyed by my bath I headed out to town to choose from the selection of pilgrim menus but a corkscrew wander through the town reveals there is only one place that holds the pilgrim torch and that is Bar Imperial.  Kevin is already there.  Victuals are ample and authentically pilgrim.  The name of the bar and incongruity of the west country dialect of our hostess the only hint that this is an establishment conceived by an Englishman.  Our hostesss is his local Galacian wife, they met working in a hotel in Devon.  We settle in, the wine flows freely and our conversation rambles beyond sensible pilgrim bedtime.  For better or worse we are the guardian of the keys this night.

Camino Diary: Walking The Camino Francais Day Forty

DAY FORTY: 17 November 2012 Santiago


Cafe Bar La Flore

Arriving in Santiago had the fullness of a job well done and the low rumble of purposeful achievement.  I felt the paradox of silent exhilaration; an embodied energy that filled my cup to overflowth.  I am not the only one.  Santiago’s old heart of windy cobbled streets is full of grinning pilgrims, my phone is popping with text messages to rendevouz and reconnaitre. I joined J in the Hostal Campanas de San Juan, a haven in the shadow of the Cathedral with seven rooms named after the bells of the Cathedral, and checked in for an extravagant two nights.  Lovingly restored, sympathically modernised it had the quiet personality of it’s careful proprietor.  I had been feeling a subliminal undercurrent of panic and anxiety coming to the end of The Way and this was the place to hold me as the rush of ending met the bubble of beginning.  Myself & J joined Co for an unprepossing supper rather than a sparkling celebration.  Somehow that felt right and fitting.


The Compostela

It is de rigeur to attend Mass at 12 noon in the Cathedral.  The pilgrim Mass is a place of reconnection, no hushed silences in this place of God, and every cursory encounter on The Way becomes a deep and holy communion here.  There are a variety of rituals associated with arriving as a pilgrim in the Cathedral.  Pilgrims are no longer permitted to place our hands in the Tree of Jesse in the Portico de Gloria due to touch erosion we can head butt Maestro Mateo carved into the central column facing the alter and hug the Apostle at the high alter and kneel and pray before the casket containing the relics of the great saint.  I am reminded somewhat of my teenage OCD rituals; realising when writing this blog that I had failed to head butt Maestro Mateo or pray to the relics I have to shake away the notion that I must go back and start again to get the ending right.  But at the time I was floating in a warm fuge of the ritual of my own completion, receiving the joy and the bliss of it and allowing myself to be without the tension of a destination to walk towards.


Kevin (Switzerland), Anne (Me), Co (Netherlands), Heather (Canada) Pippi (Italy), Roberto (Italy)

I am an untethered balloon being gently jostled from Cathedral to Cafe, from Cafe to Hostal Campanas and back to the Cathedral again.  Along the way I pick up my Compestala, enscribed with an arbitary Latin version of my name it confirms that I have indeed completed the pilgrimmage, sup at retro Cafe Bar La Flor and discover a 6pm reconvening in Praza  Obradoiro in front of the Cathedral.  I am not sure who will be there or how I heard about but it; it had the feeling of a recurring event in the diary of Santiago that magnetises attendees to itself. In the chill gloaming of this mid November evening there is a buoyant feeling of celebration.  Kevin had a date with Zara the night before and is kitted out in jacket and collared shirt the rest of us in cleaned up versions of our pilgrim garb.  We head down into the seductive babble of Rua Franco for communal paella, sustenance for a long night of blathering and supping on wine.  I remember cheerily being swept out of a trendy bar of old stone, chrome and glass with the cigarette butts and James from the West Country by way of Finsbury Park in the early hours.  They are used to pilgrims in this town.

Camino Diary: Walking The Camino Francais Day Thirty Nine

DAY THIRTY NINE: 16 November 2012 from Arzua to Santiago de CompestelaIMAG1265

We had pushed on from the old stone Municipal Albergue at Ribadiso, a wonderful reconstruction of one of the oldest pilgrim hospitals in existence it loitered prettily on the river bank.  However the news that the toilets were not in the same block as the dorms spurred us onwards into the straggly streets of Arzua where we mistakenly thought we would have better options.  From rural idyll to soulless modernity.  The last vestiges of energy are sucked out of us by the jarring of chrome and concrete as we stagger into town.  Last nights experience in Palas de Rei has primed myself, Kevin and J to look for a private hostel and we say goodbye to Adriano as he heads to the Muncipal and we cross the road to charmless Los Caminates II.  As it turns out not only is it charmless but it is bone-chillingly cold and I shower in near hysterics trying to capture the vague vestiges of heat from each lazy drop from the shower head.  The only consolation in this vast cavern is that there are only five of us so we can claim as many blankets as we need.  Adriano tries not to be smug over dinner as he tells us about nabbing a bed beside a toasty radiator.  I choose the opportunity to enjoy a good grumble before I drift off to sleep under a warm mountain of blankets.

The last thing I want to do this morning is to step into the bone chilling cavern of the hostel but resistance is futile.  We three musketeers emerged from our sacrophagus as triumphant survivors ready for another day of pilgrimage; well after breakfast that is.  A wane sun takes the edge off an unassuming day.  We are nearly 40km from Santiago; too far for  one days walking but there are few spots in between to draw us to commit to another night in the road.  As we get closer to our destination there is a pull to share and celebrate the arrival with other pilgrims but also the deep knowing that we are each on our own spiritual path.  Like homing pigeons we are now locked on our targets.  Lunch is accidental and skittish; no time for adding our scrawl to the graffited walls of the wayside cafe.  Instead the sustenance has galvanised Kevin and Adriano; no one is saying anything but it is Santiago or bust for them.  Myself and J are left bobbing in their wake.  There is an excitement in the pull of Santiago but I know it will have to be magnetic to draw me another 25km before dusk falls.  For the first time I resort to plugging into my iPad to add the upbeat of Amos Lee to my footsteps.  I pull away from J and into a vast long walk of aloneness as I skirt the airport, passing the last symbolic rags of penance fluttering on the industrial wire fence. I turn a corner in Lavacolla and there are the raucous Spanish boys from Palas De Rei and Kevin.  The boys are planning a party at Monte del Gozo just outside Santiago and my arrival is a pretext for another round of drinks, flowers and flirtation.  Kevin has gone on and J is waiting for the bus.  The rain is darkening the sky as I face into the long uphill heart break of the road ahead.  The Spanairds trail along behind me.  It is only later I realise that we have been misdirected by the locals along the N-634a camino not the pilgrim camino.  I say goodbye to my partying companions and I skitter down the slope of Monte Gozo and pass the city boundary into Santiago on a sodding wet Friday evening, but nothing can dampen my sense of awe and wonder, the sense of elation and achievement.  I celebrate my arrival at The Cathedral listening to Amos Lee singing ‘Gonna wash my soul,  gonna get it clean, headed down the border road called the El Camino’.