Part of my work in the last year that will continue into 2015 involves offering motivational therapy over the phone for Oxfordshire residents that have become stuck in an unhealthy physical and emotional rut and are generally feeling powerless to take a new direction. Having now spoken to upwards of 50 people in this line of work, I can tell you that the vast majority have been women over forty and that many of them have ended up overweight, on anti-deprresants and with other illnesses for which they have been prescribed medications that don’t work and have to be changed frequently because of unwanted side effects that just add to the problem.
Most have had fairly normal, (whatever that means), lives but have found themselves unable to cope with the fall out of significant life changes which have impacted their identity and self-worth. It’s seems so sad that many of these women have gone into a decline just at the moment when they could be coming into their own.
What a critical moment in life these transitions are and how crucial is it that they are planned for and worked through with awareness and support!
When I began Walkinginspirit there was nothing else out there that combined a walking holiday with mindfulness and personal development. I knew that it was going to be a powerfully transformative thing because of my own experiences trying it out but it was only when doing market research that I became aware that the demographic for this kind of event was going to be mostly, (but not exclusively), female and between 35 and 60 years old. Over the last three years, both in terms of who comes on the retreat and, in who engages with the website and Facebook page this has proven to be about right.
Comparing the two groups I work with, (those on the phone and those on the Walkinginspirit retreat), is interesting. It seems the first group have become stuck mostly through a lack of awareness, preparedness and support around life changes whereas the second group have somehow recognised that in order to start a new and exciting chapter in their lives, (rather than go into a downward spiral)… they need to break out and do something different.
It is a privilege to be able to work with women in either case. Not everyone who comes on Walkinginspirit is going through this kind of life transition but a significant number are and, regardless, everyone seems to find support in each other as well as in the generosity of Somiedo Natural Park, Western Europe’s most pristine and beautiful natural ecosystem. –Frankie Sikes