One morning in May I was out running, and seemingly out of nowhere an idea fell into my head. What if I were to do a walk to promote body positivity, love and acceptance? I could walk from Amsterdam to Berlin. I’ve long wanted to see Berlin anyway (at this point I had absolutely no idea how man kilometres this would be) and this would be a cool way to do it.
This was immediately followed by the usual thoughts I have when I get a slightly unusual idea. “That’s crazy”, “I can’t do that”, “I’m afraid”, “It’s overwhelming”, “Better forget about it”. But this time I didn’t let these thoughts get the better of me. For while on the surface this was just a spur-of-the-moment crazy idea, it had actually been a long time coming.
Traditionally I am not someone who does things. I am a dreamer, not a doer. I am not a natural entrepreneur. But over the last few years something has started to shift.
I have identified three major threads in my life that have woven together to create this path that I am now on.
One has to do with all the projects I have ever dreamed of doing throughout my life but never had the energy or the guts to follow through with. Most of them have in some way been travel-related, like travel and work experiences when I was younger, going on an interrail trip, studying abroad and more recently going on longer solo hiking trips. My father was a busker who spent most of his life on the road, so I probably have a good portion of restlessness and curiosity from him. And I was very inspired and slightly terrified when I read Cheryl Strayed’s Wild a few years ago. Her journey was so meaningful and she wrote about it so beautifully, it really spoke to something deep within me. However, hiking something like the PCT by myself is way too hardcore for me.
The second thread is related to work and the desire to find meaningful work, the desire to help people and to use my sensitivity for something good. A couple of years ago it would never even have crossed my mind that I would be starting my own business and that I would be heading out on this trip. Oh, I wanted to, but those thoughts that I mentioned earlier? It was more like a thousand hairy horsemen shouting at me in my head. Constantly. I had a job. I had an income. You need money to survive, to live, and I was not about to take a chance on losing it. So for a long time I felt trapped and miserable. I kept looking for other jobs in web content management, because that’s what I was already doing. The problem of course being that I didn’t want to be in web content management. Then I got a burnout and suddenly staying in my job seemed to be the only option I could not consider. It became clear that I needed a drastic career change and gradually it started to be OK to consider the scary but exciting things I hadn’t really let myself think about before. Which leads me to the last thread…
The third and last thread in this tapestry is my history of eating disorders, body image issues and self-loathing. It took me so many years, experiences, books, therapy sessions, conversations, so much introspection and reflection before I managed to make friends with my body. And to this day we still have the occasional fight, but mostly we work as the perfect team that we are: body, mind and spirit.
So what do you get if you combine the lifelong wish of doing a travel-related project, the need to do meaningful work, and the desire to spread the body positivity message? Well, you get a crazy-ass idea falling into your head one morning in May while out for a run… Or as I now like to call it:
Body positivity walk 2019
My goal is to walk from Amsterdam to Berlin during the month of September. I anticipate that it will take me the entire month (I have a tentative route mapped out), including 5 rest days during the journey.
The goal of my journey is twofold:
- I want to spend some time with my body, appreciating what it can do, how it can move – just being. It’s a form of meditation and of showing love. Both the metaphorical and literal journey have strong transformational powers, and by moving our bodies mindfully and joyfully we can start to heal the mind and body divide.
- I want to start a movement (pun intended) around being kind to ourselves and others. Accepting our bodies as they are, and even appreciating them and what they can do. I want us all to be talking and thinking about self love and body acceptance for everyone.
Be a part of it
This project works better the more people are a part of it, so if anything of what I’ve said speaks to you, I encourage you to contribute to this project in any way you can. There are 4 ways in which you can do this:
- First and most importantly you can help me spread the word to even more people. Anyone you think might be interested. Friends. Family. Friends of friends. Colleagues. Enemies. Strangers on the street.
- Come walk with me. I don’t anticipate that people will be able to take the time out of their lives to come and walk the entire route with me, but if you can come and join me for a few kilometres here or there that would be great. We’ll walk and talk and spread the word that every body can move (at least a little bit) and is worthy of love and respect. Your weight, age or any other physical attributes are irrelevant. If you’re wheelchair bound you can also come along for a little bit. At least in the Netherlands it’s pretty flat and we have bike paths everywhere.
- Give a financial contribution on my funding page. The funding will go directly to helping me spread the message through this project and will allow me to eat and sleep (hopefully) during the month I’ll be away from home.
- Offer a place to stay. As free camping is not allowed in the Netherlands or Germany I’ve decided that the most practical solution (and also safest) is to find places such as B&Bs to sleep along the way. However in an effort to save costs and to meet and engage with people I’m also looking for people along the route who are willing to host me for a night or two for free. What I can offer in return is publicity for your accommodation if you are listed on a holiday rental site, or alternatively I can offer a free “introduction to energy tapping”-session.
In addition to these more tangible ways in which you can be a part of the journey, I am also planning to post regular updates here on the blog, and maybe even do some vlogging on my YouTube channel (I’m a YouTube noob, so we’ll see how that goes), and post some pictures/impressions to Instagram (@thobopo) – so you can follow the journey virtually as well.
I hope to see you and hear from you. Together we can make a positive change and create a kinder and more compassionate world. Are you with me?