The Talks

Entertaining and articulate, Melanie talks about life and how to live it to festivals, retreats, groups, leaders, dreamers, learners and parents; inspirational and passionate, she encourages us to dare to unwrap and be present – because when that happens, nothing is ever quite the same again.

Melanie Gow tells the story of walking for 33 exceptional days with her two sons, aged 12 and 16, over the Pyrenees and across Spain for 800km to Santiago de Compostela.

A walk that didn’t so much change them as gently unwrap them.

“Highly recommended – in fact it should come with a warning; it is very likely to be inspiring and life-changing” 

Angela Johnson

 

Entertaining and articulate about her unassuming stroll, Melanie has become an inspiration to many by sharing her story of parenting daringly, and personal transformation. 

Combining the truth with metaphor, wisdom, and deep appreciation of the moment, Melanie takes the audience on a inspirational journey.

 She engages, uplifts and moves her audience with storytelling, beautiful photography, and words of wisdom in a memorable performance.

She tours the country stoking the fire of dreams and inspiring people to “Walk the Talk” – because when that happens, nothing is ever quite the same again.

“Went to the third night of the Hungerford Book Shop’s four day Literary festival tonight and it was amazing. Melanie Gow tonight and Sir Max Hastings last night. I was so so impressed by Melanie’s passion and enthusiasm and her beautiful book I bought one for myself and one each for the children. How lucky we are in Hungerford.” Bruce Mayhew.

Melanie has given a TEDx Talk
“Imagine what could change if you just back yourself and walk the talk”

Speaking Engagements

Melanie gives talks for

  • Festivals, Retreats, Conferences, and Groups
  • Inspiration and After Dinner events
  • Leadership and Motivational events
  • Parents and Schools, for children aged 12yrs and above

The Most Popular are:

For Festival, Retreats, Groups and Events

“Walking With Angels – A Photographic Journey”

The classic unfolding of the inspirational, true story, illustrated comprehensively with narrative photographs and nuanced delivery.

“This has the emotion of a film, the excitement of a live performance and the impact of igniting a dream” Ian James, Norden Farm Centre for the Arts

For Leaders and Dreamers

The Earth Whispers, Listen Carefully - taken by Melanie Gow, on her exceptional 33 day walk with her two sons over the Pyrenees and across Spain for 800km to Santiago de Compostela“Create The Way By Walking It”

Imagine what could change if we just back ourselves and create the way as we walk it; what leading your children for 33 days walking 800km across a country can teach you about how to achieve your goals, and transform yourself through leadership.

“Highly recommended – in fact it should come with a warning; it is very likely to be inspiring and life-changing” Angela Johnson

For Learners and Believers

A Closed Door Lets Nothing In, 1/14 in the Walking With Angels Collection, by Melanie Gow. Limited Edition Photographic Art Print“A Closed Door Lets Nothing In”

What walking for 33 days across a country can teach you about life, everything you need to know to live it and how to do anything.

“This is a brilliant and inspiring account of a journey we all should make at least once in our lifetime. A journey in more than one sense of the word.” Dave Wright, Gallery at Ice

 For Parents

Face the Sun, 1/14 in the Walking With Angels Collection, by Melanie Gow. Limited Edition Photographic Art Print

“Parent Daringly”

Imagine what could change if we give our children the space to decide what kind of adults they want to be, and what leading your children for 33 days walking 800km across a country can teach you.

“Melanie gave her incredible talk to over 100 of our parents and went down an absolute storm!” Ms Nicola Huggett, The Head, Blundell’s School, Devon

Walking With Angels, by Melanie Gow, at Stand AppArt

 

For Children – I give an age appropriate version of the ‘leaders and dreamers’ talk “A Closed Door Lets Nothing In”

“Melanie inspires our children to go beyond expectations, not with a sermon but by letting her sons set the example” Mary Feyerham, mother

“Quite brilliant talk Melanie, I’m still thinking about it now. You have a beautiful mix of accessible messages.” Polly Wood

Melanie will adapt the talk for your event

Melanie Gow Speaker One Sheet PDF : click to download

To contact Melanie about speaking at your event please let us know the following:

 
 

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Mindful Photography Sessions

Combine the healing practice of mindfulness with photography to find yourself in the moment.
Be prepared to experience transformation, awakening, and joy in an inspiring exploration of higher consciousness in day-to-day life.

Mindful Photography Logo

Find yourself in the moment with Mindful Photography.

Mindful Photography combines the healing practice of mindfulness with photography to experience transformation, awakening, and joy, in an inspiring exploration of higher consciousness in day-to-day life.

To live fully, live lovingly in this world, to walk this pathless adventure called life with understanding, we must learn to read the inner essence of a landscape. To find any sense of perfection we must learn to master our own inner landscape.

One Glorious Day, by Melanie Gow

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the aware, balanced acceptance of the emotions thoughts, and sensations occurring in the present moment.

The Earth Whispers, Listen Carefully - taken by Melanie Gow, on her exceptional 33 day walk with her two sons over the Pyrenees and across Spain for 800km to Santiago de Compostela

Photography

Photography is the art of noticing a moment, at its essence it is a personal conversation with the world around you.

Made with Repix (http://repix.it)Mindful Photography

Mindful Photography is a gentle, creative and powerful tool that helps you understand the meaning for you in what you notice, and practice the art of bringing awareness to the subconscious.

“Highly recommended – in fact, it should come with a warning; it is very likely to be inspiring and life-changing
Angela Johnson

In asking what it is you are seeing, and why, explore the reasons you take a photograph of one unique moment over others and learn more about how you think and feel.

Mindful Photography will help you to be more observant, contribute to finding your “voice”, and improve the quality of your relationship with yourself, and your interaction with the world around you.

Tiara crowned dandelion
According to the philosophers of Ancient Greece to strive to ‘know yourself’ was the highest purpose, for the Buddhists knowing yourself is true wisdom, mastering yourself is true power. Most spiritual practices and social sciences speak of the importance of self-knowledge.

While we all have some ideas about who we are, the knowledge we have is often patchy and unconnected, and we have few opportunities to be guided in reflecting on our interaction with our world.

Mindful Photography is a gentle practice that creates a feedback loop with your sub-conscious.

Mindful Photography puts self-awareness into your hands.

Enjoy a one-to-one Mindful Photography session
from as little as £45 for two hours
half-mornings available

Take a Mindful Photography walk
for £20
group discounts available

Mindful Photography Workshops
half days from as little as £25 per person, minimum 5 people

PLEASE CONTACT ME IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN FINDING OUT MORE, OR BOOKING A SESSION

“Out of yourself such a journey will lead you to your self. It leads to transformation of dust into pure gold!” Jalāl ad-Dīn Rūmī

Imagine what could happen if you backed yourself and walked the talk. I'm in the business of inspiring people to walk the talk. My coaching is not for the faint of heart, it's for those who want to wake up and unleash a dream. Imagine what could happen if you backed yourself and Walked the Talk, Leap of Faith by Melanie Gow

In its nature, and by intention, Mindful Photography is known as a heuristic approach to self-awareness and self-discovery; it employs methods not expected to be optimal or perfect, but right for the immediate goals. It can help with anxiety, stress, anger, fear, hurt, guilt, depression, self-esteem, and grief, and surprising breakthroughs are not unusual.

No One Is Illegal – a Night in Moria

It’s not about who they are, where they are on the sliding scale of human desperation and legitimacy, but who this makes us. Who we are is defined by this.

by Benjamin Gow

Any time you say you’re going to Moria to someone who doesn’t know they look at you, as if to say “did you mean that place in Middle Earth?” It is an ominous name that swirls around on the edge of my mind, mixing brutal facts with grim fictitious overtones from Lord of the Rings.

It is a place where a razor wire topped high fence rings a detention centre, now converted into the first hotspot registration point in Greece, which uncannily resonates with the imaginary abandoned dwarf city –

where Moria means Black Chasm.

Moria Camp, Lesvos, January 2016, Benjamin Gow

Our Moria, the real Moria, is the place that earned itself a reputation as the worst refugee camp in the world, and yet, however harsh the complex is, it’s overshadowed by the depravity of the hillside beyond its walls. Here is where the fragile hope that dared to breathe on the shores in the north gets crushed by confused bureaucracy, resistant in its heart to face the truth that death is circling the perimeter.

Six weeks ago I was at Moria and this week I returned again. Such a mix of emotions, and thoughts, blasted through my head. I have been to Africa, and India, and the awful conditions remind me of third world slums I’ve seen, except this one is right here on our doorstep. In the summer I saw the toilets spilling over, people standing ankle deep in mud at the one stand pipe trying to wash themselves, I watched them wrap wet clothes around sticks over fires to dry them. I was mobbed by hungry people as I gave out oranges.

Moria Camp, Lesvos, January 2016, Benjamin Gow 4

On the other hand, I also saw what had changed from when I was last here, and how now it’s become a sort of civilisation on its own. The tea tent that was a tarpaulin on sticks is now a fully functional, and beautifully decorated, hut; with stone pathways carefully laid leading to and from the rest of the tents. A medical tent has doctors on shift throughout the night, tirelessly looking after each patient; and now has “rooms” to evaluate each one privately.

Small pockets of human dignity and relief that have sprung up give me faith in us, as human beings

Yet, when I turned a corner I saw literally 100s of families, men, women and children, huddling together around fires, burning plastic to keep warm and sharing sleeping bags to cling onto what little warmth it gave them. Even with the tents set up for sleeping, there are just too few and so many people have to sleep on a solid, cold and wet ground.

Moria Camp, Lesvos, January 2016, Benjamin Gow 6I slept out one night while walking 800km across Spain, I thought it would be a boy’s own adventure. It was a new and scary experience. The idea of being completely vulnerable to the elements, something so out of your control, is the feeling of true uncertainty. All you can do is hope, hope that the forces of nature look kindly on you each day.

I did it once, in the summer, absurdly I slept on a camomile lawn, and I knew that I could get a bed, and a shower, something to eat, a lot to eat, and had a home to go to, yet I was still insecure. Imagine what it feels like to find yourself on a concrete forecourt, shut outside double gates; or on the side of a hill where thousands of people have found themselves before you. With just the open air as a toilet, where the rain washes that down into where you are sleeping as the ground turns to mud. Where there’s too little information, and it changes, the official help abandons the area as the sun sets, and your fate hangs in the balance. Handled by a faceless authority, guarded by an unpredictable police presence with tear gas and batons.

Moria Camp, Lesvos, January 2016, Benjamin Gow 8

You are also part of a two tier system based on an accident of birth. To handle the administration, Frontex currently defines Syrians, Iraqis and Afghanis as refugees automatically, everyone else is on a case-by-case basis.

I met one Moroccan man who told me he had been waiting here 10 days, and will have to continue to indefinitely until they begin registration for his people.

For the first time since I’ve been here I felt useless.

I could do nothing to help him continue his journey. I couldn’t register him myself, or point him in the right direction. All I could do was shrug, and say: “I’m sorry, they will register you soon, hopefully.”

I hope I hid the defeat I felt inside. I’m so used to being able to help people at the beaches. Do you have wet socks and trousers? I have a new dry pair in the car, follow me. Not feeling well or have an injury? take my hand there is a doctor over here. Are you cold from the wind? Let me wrap this emergency blanket around you.

Yet, at that moment, I could do nothing.

Moria Camp, Lesvos, January 2016, Benjamin Gow 2As we where leaving that evening, I saw this graffiti on the wall “No One is Illegal,” and I thought that was a positive thing to show so many of us here wish the refugees the best. However when I stepped back to move on I saw the whole scene.

I saw a lone woman sleeping at the foot of a concrete wall, underneath the graffiti, with a garbage bin next to her.

We can all think and say nice and encouraging things, but this is the reality – even when the words are literally written above us.

We are staring onto that “Black Chasm”. This crisis is happening whether we accept it or not, the only difference will be how many people we kill with our cruel apathy, in our bungled administration of it.

It’s not about who they are, where they are on the sliding scale of human desperation and legitimacy, but who this makes us. Who we are is defined by this.

Moria Camp, Lesvos, January 2016, Benjamin Gow 7

Read more reports from Benjamin Gow on his Facebook Profile

Life and Death Play Out on the Same Stage

Life and death play out on the same stage today.

It’s raining, it’s cold and there have been terrible storms at sea. Tragically 34 were lost leaving Turkey today, including children who will never have a chance to grow up. Yet we rescue more than 250…

Life and death play out on the same stage

today.

By Benjamin Gow

It’s raining, it’s cold and there have been terrible storms at sea. Tragically 34 were lost leaving Turkey today, including children who will never have a chance to grow up. They are still out searching, there are reports that 50 left the shores on two boats… As that news filled up our Facebook feeds and sat in the gaps in our conversations, we saw a boat coming in from where we are working on that secret reception centre project. A big boat, filled to the brim, with more than 250 people on it heading towards a beach called Lighthouse 1, where the Greek volunteer group Lifeguard Hellas have a tent on the sand, light a campfire signal and keep watch 24/7.

We were watching from our vantage too and ran down to the beach, suddenly in full “first response” mode again. Right in front of our eyes we watched the boat swerve toward the landing point, rocking back and forth, and the clouds opened up and it began to rain.

And it kept raining, heavier and heavier.

Yet, it was so good to be standing ready and waiting on the shore with open arms, organised as we have trained, confident in what we are doing now and smiling.

The boat stopped far out from shore. Because its keel was deep and ran aground. There are no piers or jetties to draw up on, or walkways to get to shore. Those with wetsuits got into the water and the rest of us stood along the beach, forming our two lines of support. There were children on board, so we passed them along the line first, lifting them high to keep their legs out of the water, next the women, followed by the men.

The waves kept lifting and carrying the boat along the shoreline a little with each swell, and our two line system had to keep shuffling down the beach, throwing debris and driftwood aside to make space.

As the last of the people where brought to shore safely, each and every one of them, then their precious luggage of all shapes and sizes was finally passed down the line and returned to their owners. Those volunteers who had dry clothes helped change the cold and the wet, and others gathered up life jackets and cleaned the beach, and that’s our day.

There was one man who made my day, who I shall remember going to sleep tonight. He thanked everyone, and shook all our hands, as he was carried all the way to the beach. Smiling all the way. He made us all smile.

Under the circumstances, it could not have gone smoother. So congratulations to the refugees for staying calm, and letting us help. Congratulations to those volunteers at Lighthouse, we helped make more than 250 lives just that little bit safer today. When life and death play out on the same stage on a day like today it shows it’s so crucial that we are here.

This is it, you really feel it, out here on the beach you know you are the frontline of the European humanitarian response. And you reading this are part of it too, you really are, thank you for all your support…

read more by Ben Gow on Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Coaching

I am in the business of inspiring people to walk the talk. My coaching is not for the faint of heart, it is for those who want to wake up and unwrap themselves.

Imagine what could happen if you backed yourself and pursued a passion, Leap of Faith by Melanie Gow
Imagine what could change if you backed yourself and walked the talk.

Having spent a lifetime exploring the human condition, I find myself in the business of stoking the fires of dreams and inspiring people to walk the talk.

I work on word of mouth or serendipity, if you have found yourself here it’s probably because you are exactly where you are meant to be; your heart has brought you, listen to it.

My coaching is not for the faint of heart, it is for those who want to wake up and unwrap.

Searching for the heartbeat of your essence is a life-changing experience that peels back everything that has made you what you’ve become, and leaves you with who you are. That is what we will do together…

The simple challenge of living in a world in turmoil can dull that clear-eyed eagerness for becoming everything we can be. The pain of disease, divorce, death, the simple brutality of idle criticism or petty gossip, can teach us to be afraid to fight for our dreams. So we shrink to fit and tell ourselves we are now wise and rational to want so little from life.

From inside that box of our own making we hear the sounds of dreams shattering, we can feel the disappointment, and smell the frustration, and hear the broken bones. Many times we watch others endure bruising defeat, and we reassure ourselves that they just need to grow up; and we ignore the dull ache in our hearts.

But, from inside that box we can’t see the fire in the eyes, or feel the knot in the stomach, or know the delight, the sheer delight in the hearts of those who are fully-engaged in The Grand Quest.

And so I see it this way. I have to see the beauty and I see the possibility in the world, and in you; I have to believe in it.

Anyone can unwrap one step at a time, and in the humble art of becoming is a gentle surrender to be so much more.

So, I take up my passion and walk out into the fray. Far from naive, it’s about as radical as you can get to stay peaceful and kind, and become fully yourself when all around seems both incendiary and crushing.

Come with me – nothing will be the same again.

I love the experience of being with another person in the space of created trust, commitment, and vision. I am constantly amazed at what gets generated when two people talk together, and listen within a space of safety and candor. There is nothing quite like that creation. I love what I do and I love whom I do it with.

Leap of Faith, taken in Lorraine France, Stand AppArt by Melanie GowYour commitment to unwrapping starts here

Minimum Coaching Agreement: 3 hours (approximately one month), £1,000, a free initial consultation followed by three full sessions of an hour. Ongoing coaching is at £250 a session.

All main coaching is done face-to-face in my home in Windsor, or on Skype under applicable circumstances.

To ensure your commitment to yourself I ask you to invest a month’s coaching fees prior to the first session, and they are non-refundable.

I work with most clients from one to three months.

It has been my great privilege to help unwrap a wide variety of extraordinary people. I have worked with individuals as young as 14 and as old as 81. With entrepreneurs, lawyers, celebrities, artists, authors, singers, capitalists, liberalists, socialists, public servants, ministers, middle management, friends, neighbours, dog-lovers, broken-hearted, adventurers, and teens.

If you need medication, see your doctor, if you need therapy, get a good psychologist. If you want get clear, and unwrap, work with me.

If you are interested in working together, please contact me, and please, serious and appropriate enquiries only.

Parent Daringly And Travel With Your Kids

Let’s raise resourceful, centred, fully-engaged and wise children. Because resourceful, centred, fully-engaged and wise children become resourceful, centred, fully-engaged and wise adults and the world needs more of those.

Parent Daringly and travel with your kids to raise resourceful, centred, fully-engaged and wise kids.

I am, primarily, a mother, and as such charged with bringing up two men of the future. Today I am going to tell you the story of an ordinary mother and her children, they could be any one of us.

Arriving in Santiago at the end of 800km and 33 days, Melanie, Ben and Harry Gow

Let me introduce you to our characters – here they are. Harry aged 12 and Ben aged 16…

This is us a the end of a walk we took.

For 33 days over the Pyrenees and across Spain for 800km

Here’s the kicker, they asked me to do it.

That didn’t happen overnight, it began the day my parents piled me on top of the luggage in the back of the car and drove for 8 hours to Lake Turkana; a jade green desert lake with a volcano in the middle of it. Populated by Nile crocodiles and scorpions, and blasted by strong, hot winds, it sits in the badlands on the largest rift in the Earth’s crust; and there the cradle of humankind was laid out naked before me.

I didn’t know it was called travel or adventure; I just grew a wide-eyed eagerness for the horizon. I began traveling independently before the Internet, even before Yugoslavia broke down, while the Kibbutz was still a movement and, in fact, I have been traveling since England last experienced 45 days without rain in July and August.

When I had children I knew one thing and that was I wasn’t going to exchange the backpack for a pushchair. I was going to travel with them. Not through a selfish desire to continue what I loved, but a deliberate act of legacy. I’m from Kenya, East Africa and when I came here to the UK I learnt overnight that there are different normals. I know it is one world, that is a fact, whether we see it as one or not is a choice. From the top of any hill you can see the one earth we live on, and I wanted my sons to know this. More than that, I wanted them to learn values like tolerance, compassion, empathy, kindness and gratitude, as well as skills like resilience, persistence and more.

I know that travel has shaped my life, not just because I’m here today telling you about it,  but because it has shaped who I am at my core. I believed in doing it with my children to round them out, I hoped it would build passionate, free-thinking children, who would be resourceful, centred, fully-engaged and wise people.

When they turned to me and asked me to walk with them for 33 days over a little mountain and across a country for 800km, and they were aged only 16 and 12, I had my answer.

I’m not saying it was easy, it’s not meant to be; travel is that heady balance between euphoria for the new and the fear of the unknown. But, that’s dreams for you.

Ben Gow in arms off the tip of Cape of Good Hope, South Africa, with Melanie Gow

My sons have sat in my arms off the southern tip of Africa, India and Australia; and they have seen the curve of the Earth in the horizon, and on to the universe beyond it.

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Very soon the experience of travel as a series of extraordinary novelties begins to transform into meaning.

We racked up 96 hours criss-crossing north to south down India. Sometimes outside the window an unimaginable vastness slid past, soundless but for the old-fashioned clickety clack of a train steadfast on its tracks; white noise for the thoughts of what lives were like lived in acres of red dirt, beaten by heat and wind.

We were between Jaipur and Mumbai, several hours into the heart of Madhya Pradesh, a state that is home to a large tribal population largely cut off from development. We passed patches of trees bent low and stripped naked, cowed by the conditions, interspersed by low piles of layered cowpats, alongside equally lowly homes.

The train banked with a lopsided tilt, and there was a young woman turning over cowpats spread out on the ground, to dry the underside for a natural fuel. I had time to notice the drape of her terracotta sari falling as she bent, the cracks in the heels of her feet, the hair framing her face beginning to turn a wiry grey.

She looked up as the train passed, and I thought our eyes met. She had a round, deep copper face, the face of a woman who labours ceaselessly on the land; and it wore, for the second in which I saw it, the most desolate and self-sufficient expression I have ever seen.

There was a child in her peripheral vision, of five, maybe less, picking up the already dried pats at the edge, and starting a new pile. The sound of my son’s voice brought me back into the carriage, “Father Christmas doesn’t comes here, does he mum?”

He was seven.

“No, I don’t suppose so.”

“Why’s that?”

“Why do you think?”

Far from losing his childhood innocence, his world went from the black and white of certainty to the brilliant technicolor of empathy.

Empathy, compassion, and an understanding that your start in life is an accident of birth.

On the savannahs of Africa they learnt that when two elephants fight, it is the grass that gets trampled.

In the outback of Australia they learnt a person only looks at their watch if they have to be somewhere else.

From the streets of Hong Kong, despite the dragons coming down from the mountains every morning to drink in the bay below the mountain, they learnt we are all more similar than we are different.

In America they learnt kindness, grandiose optimism, and that a sermon is better lived than preached.

Everywhere they have learnt to love this life, and learnt the power of gratitude to transform a day; they have learnt those values, and those really useful skills… and more; they know they have to be stronger than their excuses.

They have both learnt that you can hang up your shoes anytime, you don’t have to do any of this; you have to decide to get up every day, and get out there. Despondency can set in at times, and you can stew in the juices of your own complaints, but you have no choice but to wrestle the emotional flatline and find the energy to feel for the heartbeat of a day.

The climb up Ocebreiro Mountain, Walking With Angels, by Melanie Gow

Anytime you are afraid you are just at the edge of your comfort zone, you just have to take a step out of it; and nothing great comes out of comfort zones. To save our lives we must risk them, and throw ourselves out into the unknown. It takes courage, but when you are no longer afraid courage is irrelevant and you need faith, faith in yourself.

This has nothing to do with confidence, confidence can be knocked, you need determination, determination allows for doubt and humility, but it is steadfast.

And when you have struggled up the path to the top of the mountain, on your hands and knees sometimes,  you will see from there that there are many ways to get to to the same place. But from up there you will witness the most beautiful dawn, and it will ask you what are you going to do with this one glorious day.

They have learnt that wherever you are, be all there.

Ben and Harry Gow looking out over the Grand Canyon, aged 10 and 7, by Melanie Gow

Whether you are seated at the greatest natural wonder in the world, on the edge of the Grand Canyon.

Or on a cold bench a 5 o’clock in the morning, under a street lamp, eating hot cheese and ham toasties straight form the bakers tray in a city somewhere in Spain

Travelling is the practice of being the moment; it’s a kind of elevated purposelessness. 

For kids life exists in the present, or nowhere at all, and while traveling you almost accidentally discover you are able to focus your mind naturally where time meets eternity.

It is important to be present to it, in that awareness you can hear the earth whisper…

It that space you come to know that lasting peace is found inside

Ben Gow, aged 2, with goats on a rubbish heap in Kenya, by Melanie Gow

We have seen the goats feed off the smoking piles of rubbish in the slums of Africa.

But we have also played in the sand in the silence on the banks of an oasis, high in the Thar Desert in Rajhistan, India; and we know that small space inside where we go to hide, is actually where life happens.

Ben and Harry Gow at an oasis, India, aged 7 and 4, by Melanie Gow Pushkar Oasis, India, Wanderlust

That deep inside us is the unique spark of who we are, with an inherent capacity for coming into being. We are alive at the deepest centre of ourselves in a way that is unknowable until we are sitting in it with wonder.

There we see that things are the way we see them.

We have found themselves miserable trying to find shade in the shadow of hay bales on the side of a dirt track in 52 degrees.

Ben and Harry Gow running on the shore of Lake Michigan, aged 10 and 7, by Melanie Gow

But we have also run free with the seagulls on the shore of Lake Michigan and we know that it is not where you are, or what you are doing, or what you have that makes you happy or unhappy, it’s how you feel about it.

We know they don’t have any control over what happens, what we can learn to have is control over how we respond.

Most of all, we know that a closed door lets nothing in.

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What we all want is to make the world a really big place and yet be familiar with it.

To live fully, live lovingly in this world, on this pathless adventure called life with affinity, we must explore unknown territory,

To find any sense of perfection we must learn to read the inner essence of a landscape.  Most of all, we must learn to master our own inner landscape.

We all want this world to be huge, but for us to be familiar with it, Ben on the Camino, by Melanie Gow

We, as adults, know that the simple challenge of living in a world in turmoil can dull that clear-eyed eagerness for the beauty. The pain of disease, divorce, death, the simple brutality of idle criticism or petty gossip, can teach us to be afraid to fight for our dreams. So we draw back, and tell ourselves we are now wise and rational to want so little from life; and we shrink to fit the box we make for ourselves.

From inside our box we hear the sounds of dreams shattering, we can feel the disappointment, and smell the frustration, and hear the broken bones. Many times we watch others endure bruising defeat, and we reassure ourselves that to is they who just need to grow up; and we ignore the dull ache in our hearts.

But, from inside that box we can’t see the fire in the eyes, or feel the knot in the stomach, or know the delight, the sheer delight in the hearts of those who are fully-engaged in The Grand Quest.

So I see it this way, and I have travelled with my sons across four continents, by planes, trains, and automobiles, before eventually walking with them aged 16 and 12 years old, for 800km across over a small mountain and across a country for 33 days.

Arriving in Santiago at the end of 800km and 33 days, Melanie, Ben and Harry Gow

Here we are 800km and 33 days from where we started, far away from when we left our front door

Travel is not about rest and recuperation it is a challenge to your life back home, and it doesn’t so much change you as unwrap you.

Although you may loose a little sleep, you’ll bank a thousand memories; and travel is actually a space in which you can let children fail, make decisions, think, be, gaze at the cosmos and understand our place in the universe.

Deep inside it changes their idea of living, and what life is about.

If we want to grow the leaders and dreamers of the future we have to give them resources, to build resources we have to give them experiences, to give them experience we have to take them by the hand into the world beyond our normal.

Travel equips them to be successful by a radically wider definition than we usually measure achievement by. It’s about growing as a human being, a craftsman, and a thinker. It’s about basing feelings of success on your own efforts and who you are at your core.

It has been the best thing I could do for my children, and it is the best thing I could do with them.

But however we do it, let’s raise resourceful, centred, fully-engaged and wise kids.

Because resourceful, centred, fully-engaged and wise kids become resourceful, centred, fully-engaged and wise adults and the world needs more of those.

One day you too may find yourself walking with your 12 and 16 year old, for 33 exceptional days over the Pyrenees and across Spain for 800km, and it’ll be their idea – if you play it right.

If you would like me to come and talk to your institute, conference, school, or community please contact me here and we can arrange it.