Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Good and Bad habits on WYD Pilgrimage

We all have bad habits that we would love to eliminate from our lives.  Perhaps we know we eat too much or watch too much TV or waste too much time online.  There are also bad habits that we don't know that we have until we change our routine.  A pilgrimage experience is something that will highlight some of our bad habits because it changes our daily routine.  But do we really want to dump our detoxing from our bad habits on our fellow pilgrims?

Recently I heard someone say that the best way to break a habit to start a new habit.  Sometimes we want to break an unhealthy eating pattern and we focus on not eating.  Instead of focusing on stopping an unhealthy eating pattern we should replace it with a good eating habit.  Replacing the old habit with a new more specific habit will give us something positive to work on.

Here are three tips for dealing with your good and bad habits whilst on pilgrimage to WYD:
  1. Cut out the bad habits before you leave: it isn't fair to detox from your bad habits whilst on pilgrimage.  We all get a little grumpy when we are breaking a bad habit so start breaking from the habit before you leave for WYD.  Start a few weeks early so that you are prepared for the pilgrimage. For example I will try cutting down my coffee intake weeks before so that all the other pilgrims don't have to put up with my grumpy mood.  What bad habits can you cut out of your routine leading up to pilgrimage?
  2. Start the good habits whilst on pilgrimage:  it is easy to develop a daily routine whilst on pilgrimage.  It is the perfect time to start a new habit that you would like to develop.  Perhaps it is daily meditation or scripture reading.  Perhaps you want to start being more tidy or being on time, pilgrimage is a great place to start.  What good habit can you work on whilst on pilgrimage?
  3. Make it specific: it is not much point having a big idea about radically changing your life, we have to get specific.  We have to break down the changes we want to make into manageable steps.  Whilst we should all be searching for something whilst on pilgrimage, it is up to God to make the big changes not us.  We should pick something specific and achievable that we can work on each day.
Leave a comment about some of the changes that you would like to make on pilgrimage.  Maybe your comment will encourage another reader to make the change they need to make in their life.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Pray, Click, Buy

One of the hardest parts of a pilgrimage is fitting everything in.  There is usually so much to do and see and not enough hours in the day.  So how do you get the most out of the limited time you have on pilgrimage?  The key is to narrow the focus, focus on the real reason for taking the pilgrimage.  The pilgrimage is all about the journey with God so that should be the focus of your time.

Recently I heard a simple mantra for how you spend your time on pilgrimage that might help you whilst on the WYD pilgrimage in August.  Bishop Julian Porteous uses three simple words to guide every pilgrimage group that he leads: "Pray, Click, Buy".

  1. Pray - the pilgrimage is about our time with God so spend the most amount of time in prayer. Don't rush the time in prayer, take time to kneel in the pews or light a candle. The two questions that you should be asking are "God what are you doing in this place?" and "God, What are you saying to me at this time?"  When you place the emphasis on prayer you will spend your time wisely on pilgrimage.
  2. Click - sometimes tourists spend most of their time trying to get the best photo.  Pilgrims on the other hand capture the moments in their heart rather than on film.  Photos are useful to tell the stories back home so if you have time after prayer take some photos without holding the group up.
  3. Buy - only if you have spare time in a location do you spend time buying souvenirs.  There is nothing worst than moving from souvenir shop to souvenir shop in every location you visit.  The souvenirs are mostly made in another country so it is not a real experience of the culture you are visiting. The souvenir shop is the last thing on a pilgrims mind. 
So when you are heading over to the WYD pilgrimage focus your time in that order.  Let people know before you go that souvenirs are the last thing on your mind, not the first.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Taking care of your sole and your Soul

What are the best shoes to take on pilgrimage?  When we are at home we can wear whatever shoes we want and change them whenever we want.  However when we are on the other side of the world it is even more important to get your footwear right.  Here are a few simple tips on selecting the footwear to look after your soles:
  1. No new shoes - never take a brand new pair of shoes with you on an overseas trip.  A person I know took a brand new pair of walking boots to WYD in Rome and ended up with ingrown toe nails.  The boots seemed fine in the shop but without being worn in the shoes, they started to hurt her feet.  I made the mistake of taking a new pair of shoes overseas and the shoes made my feet sweat.  I went through double the amount of socks that I normally would. TIP 1 - buy your shoes two months before heading overseas.
  2. Walk a few miles in your shoes - at home you may wear a pair of shoes all day yet hardly walk anywhere in them.  On any given day of the pilgrimage you will cover a few kilometres at least.  Is the footwear you are taking comfortable enough to walk all day in?  Whilst at home flipflops may be comfortable, they are not suitable for hours of walking.  TIP 2 - buy shoes for comfort not for fashion
  3. Protect your toes - whilst it will be hot in Spain, you will also spend a lot of time in crowds.  Sandals may look nice and keep your feet cool, but do they protect your toes in a crowded metro?  People will be in front of you, next to you and pushing from behind, your feet will get stood on.  TIP 3 - cover your toes in a crowd.
  4. Casual shoes for nights and showers - one pair of thongs or flipflops will cover the trips to the shower and walking around just before bed.  There are times when a trusted pair of thongs will be just the thing  to relax in. TIP 4 - never walk around bare feet.
  5. Don't forget the socks - don't spend hundreds of dollars on shoes and wear a pair of 50cent socks.
Whilst the main aim of the pilgrimage is the care of your Soul, if you don't look after your feet you will find it hard to survive the WYD pilgrimage.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lent 7 Day Challenge

Every year when I was growing up, it would come to Ash Wednesday and the conversation would turn to what each family member was giving up for Lent.  There were many easy things to give up for Lent, like the time my brother and I gave up lifesavers for Lent.  At the end of the 40 days we weren't any closer to God because it wasn't lollies or candy that were separating us from God.

As we got older the things that my family members were giving up go a little more difficult.  One Lent I gave up coffee, my sister in law gave up chocolate and my brother gave up soft drink.  Whilst these were good things to give up, the focus was more on surviving 40 days without these luxuries.  Usually at the end of Lent we almost consumed 40 days worth of the thing we had given up on Easter weekend.

So how can we enter into this season of Lent:
  1. Take something up for Lent - one Lent I took on 30 minutes of spiritual reading every day.  I read a number of books, did more reading of scripture and in the end had better understand of God because of it.  Take on something really specific to drawing closer to God.
  2. Give up something for Lent -  try giving up something to free time for prayer and reflection.  One year I gave up listening to music or the radio as I drove to work.  Each morning I had 45 minutes to sit with my thoughts.  Whilst it was hard at first but it was surprising how much God was trying to talk to me when I normally would listen to the radio.  Give up something that specifically distracts you from God.
  3. Do the Lent 7 day Challenge - perhaps if you don't know what to give up or to take up this Lent, join with others doing the Lent 7 day Challenge.  There are seven habits, one for each day of the week, that will draw you closer to God.  Perhaps some will come easier than others and that is ok.  It is the journey not your performance that is the most important.  Download the Lent 7 day challenge card here
Lent is all about our preparation for Easter.  How will you use the time of Lent to draw closer to God?  Leave a comment that might encourage others about what you will do or not do during Lent.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Think you know how to pack a suitcase?

Often times we try to put too much into a suit case.  While the previous post was focused on reducing the number of items that you take, it also helps to look at the way you pack a suit case.

Here are two great video clips on other websites that show you how to pack a suitcase:

"Think you know how to pack a suitcase?"  is a short video clip that shows you how to pack a suitcase using a special folding technique called "bundle wrapping".  I used this on a recent trip and it reduced the amount of creasing in the clothes.

"How to pack your bag for Europe for Girls - Part 1" is a good video for backpacking.  Whilst the folding techniques go out the window, it shows how to get enough items into a 40 litre bag.  This video is especially directed to women but there are many great tips and a link to the male version.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

6 items of clothing challenge

Could you live one week with only six items of clothing?  Perhaps to be more specific could you live for the WYD week on only six outer garments?

Over the coming weeks we will look at a number of travel tips for the WYD pilgrimage.  Whilst we will look at a number of travel tips it is important to begin with one important point:

You can't take your entire wardrobe with you on pilgrimage.

So when thinking of packing for Madrid, can you reduce the number of items you would wear?  Can you think of six outer garments that could last you a week?  here are three tips for last one week on six outer garments:

1. Wear and tear:  will the six outer garments stand up to the wear and tear of WYD week?  Will the six items survive a week of sitting on the ground?  Will the six items hide the dirt and sweat stains?  Will the six items cope with being wore for 10 hours at a time?
2. Multi purpose: When we are at home we have some clothing items that have a specific purpose.  However whilst on pilgrimage the six items have to be used for visiting a church, walking through a museum, eating out, sitting on the street and being in the sun for hours at a time.  Are your six items the most multi purpose clothing possible?
3. Wash ability - when we are at home we can wash and iron our clothes every day.  What will your six outer garments look like after a week with no washing machine and no iron?  Some nights you might wash the six items in the sink of a bathroom, how will they cope?

Whilst you might be reading this thinking that "I will take more than six outer garments" how many items do you really need?  How big is the suitcase you are planning to carry?  Before you answer these questions, try spending one week using six items of clothing and see if you or anyone else really notices. Whilst you might need seven items to survive the week it is a lot less than the 14-20 items that you would normally wear whilst you are at home.