Dear Diary; Becoming Running Barefoot

My feet asked to be naked again, and so of course I listened to their plea!

Through the winter months they were happily snug in vibram five fingers, but then the soul yearning began, to feel the earth beneath their soles – the pavements too; ouchie paths in the park – and the green grass – frosty grass, muddy grass.

There appears to be no reason for it, except for the joy, the fun, the freedom…

As Anadi and I made our way through Battersea Power Station on Sunday morning we started to overtake a small group of people…

‘Oooh aren’t your feet cold’ one of the men enquired and then continued ‘I’ve never seen anyone running in bare feet’… 

Anadi and I stopped running to chat; we wandered along with them for a while… 

‘She ran from the North to the South of Spain without any shoes’ Anadi said… 

‘And there was snow in the North of Spain in March!’ I laughed…

‘Of course it wouldn’t be odd In Africa – They don’t where shoes at all’ – the man mused, ‘I know, I was born there’, I replied – ‘Where ‘ he asked ‘West Africa’…

‘I lived there too’ he said 

‘It’s where it all began’ I replied….’I just love it – there’s no reason…’

When we do things for no reason at all, we are brought more immediately to the present moment, to the experience – walking bare foot lends itself to staying in each step… Being aware of each footfall. Noticing, feeling, touching being where my feet are.

The body can only be in the present moment.

The mind can skitter and scatter back and forth, a forgotten past, held onto, searched for, held and often relived again and again… A future point dreamed of or dreaded, by the mind… a persona created by an identification with thoughts…

But the body, is here and now. It can’t be anywhere else.

And so breathing in, we are here, now, experiencing the joy and vitality and the possibilities in this moment – and our feet as they touch the ground, there is only one step they can ever be in before they take another and another to arrive wherever they might be going

No where.

All our steps lead us nowhere at all, and everywhere – inwards to experience our true nature – and outwards in the experience of our unique energy with its powerful potential to shine bright and clear – often obstructed by the tensions and fears of the very thoughts themselves; or an attachment to an outcome that might never arrive, or give us what we hoped for once we have it in our grasp.

Journeying to a destination, a goal a new vision can be such fun, especially when we stay were we are, right here in the present moment.

Because everything goes in the end; except for our unchanging nature that was never born and will never die.

So the transitory things of life, are best enjoyed now, in this very moment.

Like walking in the park, every step precious; or stretching for excellence – for the pinnacle of success in our chosen field; here and now it is perfect – as we journey.

I met a musician once at Heathrow airport – about 15 years ago –  I was returning from the grand cayman and our luggage was lost – somewhere – I met the musician and a young woman at the luggage belt.

We waited together for three hours and became friends in that time, who have never seen one another again…

He had played as a professional musician all his life… He talked about how each event he practised for was a lifetime in itself… Each note he played, each day he practised, each concert he performed at was his favourite; was his whole life and then it was gone.

I recognised he was living what I knew to be true.

Each precious moment a note to be played, a step to be trodden, a breath to be taken.

Leading nowhere – and everywhere

And so I have taken my shoes off again and I am letting the steps take me where they will; becoming running, in the barefoot steps of freedom and fun… 

Dear Diary; Souls Connecting

Julia Chi Handstands

‘A barefoot runner!

William look look – barefoot running’… William glanced at my feet as he bombed by on his bike…

Battersea Park resembled a holiday training resort today.

Sun burning down, hot already…

Crowds of people were on the main loop, on bikes, on foot, babies in running prams… A group posing for a photo- arms outstretched smiling, before jogging off together…

And on the grass, exercise classes dotted about, and pairs too; like Anadi and I…

‘It’s like Club la Santa’ I commented…’Minus the music’ Anadi replied, laughing…

And so we settled into our circuit… Which I keep extending 🙂

It’s grown to four sets of three different exercises which we do ten times each, twice round the three ( are you following me! 🙂 ) and now I’ve added an eighty meter stride along the length of the field in between the sets…

All this followed by handstand practise…

My ideal life

I love training

Always have 

All my life, right from when – age six years – I joined my Dad at 6am to do exactly what I am still doing…

A series of exercises to start the day..

For no reason other than the joy of moving, of being, 

Alive 

I am writing this in my lunch break… I’ve popped out for a coffee and a matcha almond croissant, the matcha somehow lending a healthy aspect to my choice of a second breakfast for lunch.

It’s midsummers day

June 24th…

10 years ago today I have discovered that I was doing this…!

Mark Cooper has just posted a memory on Facebook.

‘Marathon 49 done, 3hrs 33mins, loved running with former international marathon runner and top 10 runner in the UK for her age group Julia Armstrong, one more to go guys, what an unbelievable expedition, target is so nearly there now, thank you!’

I remember flying out to Girona, and on finding there wasn’t a bus for hours and hours, I had jumped in a taxi which smoothed me quickly to Lloret de Mar… As the car slowed into the town, Mark crossed the road right in front of us…

I had travelled out to make a podcast with him, as I was then producing my podcast series ‘Running to Learn, and I was also there to write an article about him for ‘Running Free magazine’… Oh; and to run the penultimate marathon of his journey of fifty, with him…

Mark had travelled on foot from Amsterdam and would be arriving in Barcelona, the day after our run…

He, his girlfriend ( now wife) Ferelith and I all went for supper together in Lloret de Mar… The next morning Ferelith drove Mark and I to Girona to the start of Marathon forty nine, and we set off to run to Feliu – 26.2 miles away – it in 30 degrees heat.

Mark and I had only met once before… I had interviewed him for a previous podcast in his home town of Edinburgh… We had spoken while he was actually running a marathon on a treadmill in a shopping centre right slam bang in the middle of the City….

And now we met again…

We bonded on that run.

We talked about everything

We shared ourselves, our lives.

We’d both experienced our mother’s dying when we were teenagers, and he was now running to raise money for the charity that had supported his family through that difficult time…

Far reaching dialogue, open hearts, two souls communicating through the run and on the run…

I’ve never seen him again…

We finished our run, we all had some lunch together, the three of us – and then Mark and Ferelith drove me to Girona airport.

And I flew away…

But our hearts are always connected

Sharing as we did for a few short hours 

On the road from  Girona to Feliu…

Dear Diary; Never Never Land

Barefoot on the grass, running running running… Kensington Gardens inviting, summery delight…

Anadi beside me, adventuring, exploring new lands – that we know so well…

The Albert Hall through the branches, majestic, beauty, architectural joy through leafy veil.

Running running, Peter Pan flying to Never never land beside us; his statue forever held in his childhood state; never growing up – we too with him for just that moment…

Our own never land journey in each step, running inwards to the child we were – but the cycle of our life experience has shifted us, shaken us up…

And so now we return to the place of our childhood freedom – but know it more truly; beyond Neverland.

My inner child healed and released to play once more barefoot on the grass… Freedom

Within and so without. 

Never land not never land now…

Not searching and seeking as I once did… For the end of the journey – for the ease to come, the ease in the step, one at a time.

Is here now 

Simply experiencing and playing again like the child on the lawn, in the woods, the playing fields in the village…

No where to get to then, no achievements to be had. Play the only thing… Then.

And now.

Creativity in motion, sharing it with the world; in the barefoot step – in the written and spoken word…

Playfulness, sharing, we are the world – together we make the tapestry for all to see.

Each one of us vital, our vibrant spark of light all that is required

To shine as we are, nothing to do, or get or earn

You are loved for being your self

You do not need to earn love

Stay in the step; my feet are bare.

A woman sitting on a bench called out to us as we ran past…‘What does the grass feel like…?’We stopped and went back to her…

‘It feels wonderful’ I said.

‘I want to do it’ she said’ I am barefoot all the time in my home, but I am wary to take my shoes off here… But I want to…‘Just keep your eyes open’ if you do, I laughed… ‘Keep your eyes open and on each step’…

‘I’m going to do it’ she said ‘Before I go home, I’m taking my shoes off, and I am going to walk in my bare feet just here..’

She pointed to the verdant grassy area just in front of her…

We ran on… Another lady stopped me ‘Are you okay’ she enquired concerned, pointing to my naked feet! ‘Yes yes…’ I replied ‘I’m running bare foot, because I like it’…

She was intrigued, and asked to see the bottom of my feet – we talked for a bit.

‘It’s wonderful’ she said  – ‘Have fun; enjoy your run’ she said…

‘Have fun’…