My book is available!

The story of my walk, available in English and in German and with close to 500 full colour photos, can now be ordered at 1435km@meyberg.co.za

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Das Buch ist da! Die Geschichte meiner Wanderung, erhältlich in Englisch und JETZT AUCH IN DEUTSCH, mit fast 500 Farbfotos, kann nun bestellt werden! Einfach eMail mit Bestellung an 1435km@meyberg.co.za schicken.

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The end is near/here! But so is the beginning…

With my last post I left you in the Cologne cathedral. I found new strength there in an image of the three wise men on their way to the manger. They were travelers with gifts, close to their destination. I was close to my destination, the gifts in my pocket were the new things I had learned and gathered on the way, and it was now time to end the journey and share the gifts and start helping people with my newfound abilities. The end was near, but so was the new beginning!

My reason for stopping over in Cologne was actually to meet up with Verena who I had met on the Leipzig course, another person I consider to be a good friend and who played a tremendous role in my adventure. We had a mutually healing conversation in her massage treatment rooms (which she is about to move out of to also start afresh in a different location) before I was welcomed into her home like an old acquaintance by her, her family and two cute little dogs.

In her little Smart she took me to the station the next morning from where I traveled back to Scheeßel. Here I had another interview with a lady from the local press. This time I knew it was coming 🙂

This is the link: http://www.mein-scheessel.de/index.php?artikelid=982

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My walking day 44 started with soft rain and a chilly breeze. The road was good and I made progress until all of a sudden the path just disappeared again in thick forest undergrowth. For the first time I felt the forest close up on me. I was cold, my clothes were wet and my heart was in Munich. I did not want to be there. Not even the little lake nor a beautiful bird of prey could cheer me up.

But I knew that even this road less travelled will pass and so I fought on and eventually rejoined a proper bicycle path. To make up time and also to pump some fresh air, energy and good mood into my system, I picked up the pace. The patched wheels of my cart (yes, punctures were again part of the journey) were spinning away as I marched for about 20km without a proper pause. This did me a lot of good and I came to the conclusion that my walk may be almost over, but my journey here in Germany was not yet ready to end. I decided that I would postpone my return flight. I knew there were people counting on me to return on the 13th but I had to make the tough decision to be selfish and to do what feels right for me.

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Day 45 and 46 took me through beautiful country style farm land with little villages, grain fields, cow meadows and past apple trees. My route took me through Heiligenfelde, a small little town where my uncle had been the minister at the local church during the last years of the war and thereafter.
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Here my father spent his youth after their house in Osnabrück had been destroyed by a war bomb. Here he had a little cart that he pulled around with the help of a goat – and now I was the goat pulling my own cart on the same roads. I spent the afternoon walking around the village, imagining how it must have been like and asking myself how many buildings were old enough to know my father from way back then. I found the grave of my uncle in the local cemetery and could also visit the church where he had preached. There was even a picture of him still on the wall.
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For the evening I was invited to stay with friends of my aunt who have a quaint little farm house just outside the town. They have restored the old house and barn into a modern dwelling without loosing the flair and charm of a country farm house. It was even fun to sit on a blanket in the shade of a tree and fix the punctures of my tyres. Thank you Till, Hermann and Ulrike for a pleasant stay and all your generosity, for the time I had to find my family footsteps and, of course, the pizza, beer and ice cream.

During day 47 and 48 my journey was accompanied by the noise of farm implements, tractors and harvesters. Every farmer was busy using the last warm and dry days to harvest as much grain as they could. The weather forecast was not good for the following days so everything needed to be done before the rain was coming. Even as I was lying in my hammock in a little forest next to maize fields, I could hear the harvesters going on and on in the distant wheat fields. I chose that spot because it was relatively quiet as maize is still green and not ready for harvest yet.

About two kilometres before I reached my cousin’s house in Diepholz the next day, the rain came, luckily not too heavy yet, so I reached their home without being sopping wet. Later that evening the rain came down much harder.
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After a day’s rest, I got an early start on day 49 as I knew that there was a long stretch ahead of me. On this hot summer’s day, I walked along a full river (I even had to make a detour as the one crossing was flooded). Later came a sculpture path with interesting works of art displayed along the route.
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On the shore of the Dümmer lake with its sail boats and seagulls I paused for a while and then after another strenuous seven kilometres I eventually reached my aunt Edeltraud in Lemförde who was already waiting with lunch. Although it was tempting to stay out of the humid heat for a bit longer, the break also had to end and off I went again.

In a state of self-hypnosis I marched on, kilometre for kilometre until I reached the house where a family friend used to stay. After her passing some weeks ago, it was not yet completely empty and I was welcomed to stay there for the night. Having walked 45km this turned out to be my second longest walk day of my trip. Where it took me a whole day, my cousin Karl-Heinrich and his wife Christiane reached the house in less than an hour in their car. I could live well with that as they brought pizza and drinks.
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During the night there were heavy rains and I was greatful that I did not stick to my original plan of only doing 30km and spending the night in my hammock. The next day started off wet and the rain was my companion for a while. I came to the peak of the last forest hill at about 12h30. From there it was downhill to the end and the weather cleared too. Slowly the country side changed to city life and soon I was in the hustle and bustle of the pedestrian streets of Osnabrück, the city where my father was born as the youngest of twelve children. I walked past the local VFL football stadium, the city hall, the cathedral and other attractions and made my way up the Johannes Street and into Iburger Street.
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As I passed under the railroad bridge at the Rosenplatz, I saw it about 400 metres in front of me, the Lutherkirche, the church that would mark the end of my journey.

At 5pm, on day 50 of my walk, after 1435 kilometres I finally reached my destination. I had walked all the way from the Hofbräuhaus in Munich to the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, to the Reeperbahn in Hamburg and to the Lutherkirche in Osnabrück.

At the church I was welcomed by my aunts Edeltraud and Elli (who still stays up the road) as well as my cousins Karl-Heinrich and Wolfgang. I also met a lady from the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung, the city newspaper, who wanted some pictures of my arrival after this long pilgrimage. When she left we enjoyed a quiet and cool moment inside this beautiful old church that played and still plays such a prominent role in my family’s history. For me it was a perfect ending to an exhausting day when the five of us managed to sing the following hymn together:

imageBis hierher hat mich Gott gebracht
Durch seine große Güte;
Bis hierher hat er Tag und Nacht
Bewahrt Herz und Gemüte;
Bis hierher hat er mich geleit’t,
Bis hierher hat er mich erfreut,
Bis hierher mir geholfen.

Hab Lob und Ehre, Preis und Dank
Für die bisher’ge Treue,
Die du, o Gott, mir lebenslang
Bewiesen täglich neue.
In mein Gedächtnis schreib’ ich an:
Der Herr hat große Ding’ getan
An mir und mir geholfen.

The translation in English is:

The Lord has helped me hitherto
By His surpassing favor;
His mercies every morn were new,
His kindness did not waver.
God hitherto has been my Guide,
Has pleasures hitherto supplied,
And hitherto has helped me.

I praise and thank Thee, Lord, my God,
For Thine abundant blessing
Which heretofore Thou hast bestowed
And I am still possessing.
Inscribe this on my memory:
The Lord has done great things for me
And graciously has helped me.

And so my pilgrimage ends.
And so each journey ends when you reach the goal.
And, each goal reached is also the first step of the next journey!
Where this new life journey will take me I don’t know yet.

But whatever life now throws at me, I can stand tall, look the issue in the eye and say “I managed to walk 1435 kilometres, what do you little problem want from me?

Look into my eyes. You are getting sleepier and sleepier…

What comes to mind when you hear the word hypnosis? Do you think of Kaa, the snake in the Jungle Book who tries to mesmerize Mowgli with her twirling eyes? Or do you think of a stage show where the hypnotist makes people cluck like chicken? Are you scared of hypnosis or do you think it is only bogus play acting? I encourage you to forget all the preconceived cliché ideas. Stage hypnosis is but a small section of hypnosis and nobody can be manipulated beyond his own willingness to participate in the act. If they cluck like chicken it is because they don’t mind clucking like chicken.

Hypnotherapy is the most interesting, gentle, powerful and healing form of therapy I have ever come across. And this course in hypnotherapy was the biggest cherry on top of all the wonderful things I have learned and experienced on my pilgrimage.

Let me just tell you about one technique that can be a stepping stone to a completely new perspective on life. It is called Re-framing. Two examples: It can be a heavy burden on a child’s shoulders if his/her mother almost died while giving birth to him/her. But if this child is told that the mother fought death and won against the odds to give the gift of life, that she was stronger than death itself, then the child can feel proud and can face the world with his/her head held high.

The other example is an anecdote from the life of Milton Erickson, the founder of modern hypnotherapy. He was called to the psychiatric ward by colleagues who where at their wits end with a man who claimed to be Jesus Christ. They tried to get him to think about something else at least once a day but to no avail. Erickson came into the room and introduced himself to the man and said: “Oh wow, I am so pleased to meet you, Jesus. You are a carpenter too, right? Don’t you want to help us? We are desperately in need of strong hands in our workshops.” Without trying to convince the man that he was not Jesus, he re-framed his reality with a simple statement.

You can practice this technique yourself. You don’t even have to go into a deep trance for it to be effective. The next time something pulls your mood down – which in itself is a ‘natural’ problem-trance state – , just try to twist your angle of view, find one positive aspect, re-frame the picture in your mind and you will have a much better perspective on the situation and it becomes a solution state.

Your conscious thinking mind occupies only about ten percent of your brain activity. Your subconscious is the real intelligent part and has wisdom and true insight into what you and your body need. Hypnotherapy is the wonderful art of getting the thinking mind to stop its babbling and noise and to give space for the subconscious to communicate with the mind.

We don’t realise how often we actually are in a natural trance state each day, be it while daydreaming, or the other extreme, while driving. How often have you not wondered how you reached your destination? You know you must have turned left at the corner but have no collection whatsoever of actually doing it. That is just a simple example of how powerful the subconscious is. If it was only up to the conscious mind, you would have crashed the car.

So there is definitely no reason to be afraid of trance states. In fact, without them we would not survive. Hypnotherapy is just a way of getting more in contact with this wonderful inner intelligence that is within ourselves.
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We were a small group, which made the course even more intense and personal. It became a safe space where we not only learned the techniques but by practising on each other and having the time for detailed demonstrations by the teacher, we all gained tremendously on a personal level, and the week became a compact turbo charged therapy for all of us as well. With the help of the group and especially Kathrin (lady on the right in the picture), our brilliant teacher, I managed to free myself from a childhood trauma that has haunted me for more than 40 years. (I trust that you will understand that I will not go into detail about the trauma here. This is not the correct platform for that.) This newfound freedom filled me with tremendous energy and put everything I experienced into place to make perfect sense.

I am so intensely grateful for the time I spent in Munich, as even after hours I was blessed to experience a new adventure of being mesmerized by and getting to know another beautiful human being. (She must have learned from Kaa) Oooh no! No details here either. In German we have a saying, “Ein Gentleman genießt und schweigt.” (“A gentleman enjoys in silence and does not boast.”) Suffice to say that I actually postponed my return flight to spend a bit more time with her 😉

At the end of my stay in Munich, I came to realise that the time for farewells had started. It was farewell to the lovely city which I adore, it was farewell to the new friends I have made during the course, who have definitely changed my life, and it was farewell to a very special person until I see her again. My trip is nearing its end and therefore it was also farewell to the seminars, this was my last one. It will soon be farewell to my walking route and to Germany and my adventure.
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With this melancholy mood I got on to a train that took me from Munich to Cologne. On my arrival there it was only a short walk to the well-known Cologne Cathedral. In this sacred space I sat for over an hour, letting the experiences of the last ten days sink in to my soul and offering them to God above.

Day 41- 43 For the apparel oft proclaims the man

Or shall I use a quote from Mark Twain instead: “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.” Be it Polonius who says in Shakespeare’s Hamlet: “Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy, but not express’d in fancy; rich, not gaudy; for the apparel oft proclaims the man” or Mark Twain, we all know how true these statements are and how we humans identify and judge ourselves by our clothing.

For completely different reasons, clothing played a role in this part of my trip. But let me start at the beginning.
image I resumed my walking from the Reeperbahn in Hamburg (where less clothing is more!) on the 16th of July – day 41. The day took me to Buxtehude where I stayed over at new friends I met at one of the seminars. After the last week where my rain clothing played a big part, it was so nice to sit in the garden to enjoy the dry and warm summer’s day. At midnight Anita and Andreas shared a toast with me on my birthday with the last bit of wine that was left in the bottle.

After a lazy breakfast it was time for me to move on and I made my way further south. In the late afternoon I reached Sauensiek from where I sent my toast post.
imageWhile sitting in that little beer garden a marching band came by as part of the local Schützenfest (“marksmen’s festival“) which is a traditional festival featuring a target shooting competition. The winner of the competition becomes the ‘Schützenkönig’ (“king of marksmen“) until the next year’s competition. They looked very stylish in their traditional uniforms with all the little achievement badges. The beer garden was also the finishing point for the march and soon the ties where loosened and the jackets opened, and the stylish uniformed band became a group of people who happened to be wearing similar clothing.
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I moved on and found myself a nice picnic hut for the night where I was dry from the late night showers.

On day 43 I walked through Sittensen. Here it was my “uniform” that stuck out from the norm. I was approached by a man who noticed me walking with my hat with the collected feathers and pins, my tracking pants and shoes and pulling behind me a cart full of paraphernalia. He introduced himself as a local journalist and explained that when he saw me, he thought to himself that there must be a story behind this strange fellow walking through his town. We sat down at a local café and he was fascinated with what I could share, made notes on his journalist’s pad and took some photos.

After my ‘interview’ I pulled my cart further to Scheeßel where I was glad to be welcomed by old friends. After some coffee and snacks and a welcome shower after the hot day, Joachim, Hildegard and I went to a big image Trachtenfest, a cultural festival with traditional folk dances performed by local and international groups. It was great to sit with them in the first row, VIP seats, and to be entertained by groups from six different countries.
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imageAnd again it was the clothing, ranging from conservative dark greens and black of the folklore dancers to the pastel sunbleached Mediterranean village dresses to the colourful Caribbean carnival costumes, that was an identifying factor for each group, country and dance.

imageThe evening ended with the sky dressing itself in the colourful lights of a firework show.

The next morning I took the train to the part of Germany where the traditional Dirndl and Lederhosen are still part of everyday attire. In Munich, in Bavaria, my next seminar was waiting. There I went to learn about the fascinating field of the subconscious and how to ‘undress’ it layer by layer with hypnotherapy.

I reached the 47 year mark!

To all my family, old friends back home and new found friends in Europe,
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I might be drinking this beer on my own but in my heart and mind you are all sitting at the table celebrating my little birthday party with me. Thank you for all your support and thoughts and prayers. Without your help this trip would have been very lonely. Cheers!! This toast is for all of you!

Day 37-40 The next big goal

On day 40 of my walking tour, around the 1150km mark, I reached my next big destination: Hamburg! In Berlin, my first goal, the exact moment was pretty clear. It was when I walked through the Brandenburg Gate, the most well known attraction. My next big goal was also clear. There is only one way to count from 999km to 1000km. But Hamburg?
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Where did I have to go to reach it? If you ask 10 people you will get 10 different answers. Was it at the City Hall? Or the Alster with its Swans?
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Was it the Michel (Church of St. Michael), or the harbour or the new Philharmony?
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Or was it the Reeperbahn red light district?
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Hamburg has so many fascinating faces!

In German we have a saying: “Der Weg ist das Ziel”. It roughly translates to: “the journey is your goal.” In life, it is not about the goal you set but how you reach it and the journey you take. It was not so important how I define the Hamburg goal. I will probably not remember the moment anyway. What I will remember is how I walked on day 37 to day 40 on the Elbe dikes through the rain, through unspoiled fauna and flora next to the shoreline, how I walked under huge forest trees and past beautiful old farm houses,
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how I spent the night in a hut ruin that was so overgrown that I hardly found it, how there where hundreds of tiny little frogs on the forest path, how a horse was frightened by my cart and a dog by my hat, how my GPS got me lost, how I had to pay R175 for two beers and all those little things that make a journey so memorable.

How often is the journey not so much more important to us than the destination or goal. Why do we buy sports cars? The destination is not interested in our way of transport. But it does matter to us! It is so much more fun to travel with a sports car than to travel with an old sedan. Well, the way I have been travelling it is more like getting from A to B in an old donkey cart which has a charm of its own but you get my point. If you need to go from A to B it does not really matter to B how you get there. On the other hand, the journey is very dependent on the destination. Without a formalised goal our journeys in life will be aimless and random. Goals give us direction and every goal is the starting point for a new journey. And so a goal is but a fleeting moment in history but such a strong glue between our journeys.
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Sometimes the goal of a journey is to identify itself. A wise friend of mine told me the other day: “There are two important dates in every human’s life. The first is the day he/she is born, and the second is the day he/she realises why!” To me this whole pilgrimage is a journey to discover the “why”. That is the big goal at least.
Day 41 will see me take the next steps in reaching my travelling goal (or glue point) which is Osnabrück.

And so the journey continues….
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Day 32-36 and the 1000km mark

As I mentioned in my last post, I spent the first July week with friends and family. On the 6th I returned to Neustadt and although Germany was experiencing a heat wave, I was glad to be walking again. It took a while to get back into rhythm and by lunch time I was exhausted and decided to have a 20 minute snooze in my hammock. Well, the 20 minutes turned into a good three hour nap. As I woke up, I heard wood cracking and as I peeked out of my hammock, I saw a tree break and just fall over out of the blue. I went to investigate and it seems that it was hollowed out by insects and just could not carry its own weight anymore. Just shows you, never underestimate the little guys!

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That evening I double checked that the trees where I hung my hammock for the night were solid and not about to fall over.

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The next day I reached Havelberg. The town was full of tourists who came to visit the BUGA, an anual flowershow. I got talking to a small group who were also taking a break in the cool shadow of a church. Not sure if I look like a flower, but all of a sudden I was also a tourist attraction, when they heard about my adventure. One lady even wanted a photo with me.

My newfound status as attraction could not stop me from pushing on. What stopped me in the next town was a massive thirst for an ice cold beer. The heat wave was not over yet so I ordered a big glass of water and a big glass of beer. Within a couple of seconds both glasses where almost empty and I had to stop myself so at least I could enjoy the taste for a little time longer. I was still enjoying the shade of the beergarden when another tourist bus arrived. They had noticed me in town and whoops, I was an attraction again. Some of them had visited South Africa before and so I chatted with them for another hour or so.

Unfortunately all this socialising made me a bit late for the day. I still had to go on for a while and it was getting late. As I walked on the dike next to the Elbe River, I also realised that the heat wave was about to break with a massive thunderstorm and there was no shelter in site. I was still rushing to a thick bush to find protection but alas, it was too late. All I could do was stand in the rain and look at some sheep looking at me. So we just stared at each other feeling sorry for ourselves. When the worst was over I said farewell to my new wet friends and went on.

Soaking wet I reached a tiny village and found a bus stop shelter where I made myself at home. At least there I could change into dry clothing and was also sure to stay dry for the night.

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My bus stop on the left

The next morning I was almost tempted to take the school bus that came by but no, I was not going to cheat. However, the day was tough. I was tired. Although I could sleep during the night, a cement floor is not the most comfortable place to sleep. The weather also changed. After the hot days it was now windy and cool with some showers as well. Not as bad as the previous day but still uncomfortable. That evening I was pleased to reach Schnakenburg where good friends awaited me.

I stayed with Friedel and Mo for two nights, enjoying the luxury of a bed and shower during these windy and cold days. My feet and blisters where also thankful for the break.

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The next day after a lazy breakfast and another good chat Mo accompanied me for the first 2km of my walk and then it was just me and the road again. As I entered the next town disaster struck yet again. This time it was the front axle of my cart that gave up. Luckily I was close to a garage and workshop and my good old companion did not have to limp too far.

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With a welded axle my cart and I continued. I soon realised how lucky I was that it had happened where help was close by.

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This was almost the last bit of civilisation I was to see for the rest of the day as my path took me into deep and beautiful natural untouched forest.

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As I got to the end of the forest I found a little horse stable and meadow where I spent the night.

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On day 36 I cracked the 1000km mark!! When I got to the next town I celebrated with a biiig ice cream. It looked so yummy that I immediately started eating and therefore forgot to take a picture for the blog. Sorry! But here is a selfie from the day.

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My hotel for the night was a shooting range that has not been used for a while. I first wanted to go on a bit further but was glad that I did stop there because I found a little bird dangling by its little claw that got stuck in some old chairs. I could free it and it flew away, much to the delight of its chirping mother that came fluttering by. Hope it will be okay. At least I could end the day with a good deed 🙂

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