Self Coaching: Hiking with Oma

September 08 2023 - Serious Business, Travel and enjoying the free life


“In life you walk your own path at your own pace”.
What do my grandma, hiking and self-coaching have to do with each other?

Whenever I am struggling uphill, my grandma – Oma – walks besides me, in spirits. How did she end up there you might wonder? Here’s how.

These days I enjoy a good hike, preferably uphill. But this was not always the case.
In 2008 we hiked the famous trail to Machu Picchu in Peru: a 3 day hike through thick rainforest, along breathtaking (literally) passes and down dizzying stairs. It was an amazing experience…. eventually.
But not at first.

Do you know that feeling when you are beating yourself up because you are too slow, not good enough, not fit enough, smart enough etc? Well, I guess I had invited all my inner-critics and saboteurs along with me on that hike, and they were having a blast. And while I was blaming and judging myself for not being able to keep up with the pace of the fitter members of the group, I was not enjoying the hike at all.

Some self-coaching was clearly needed, and I remembered how my Oma, who passed away some years before, would always say: “In life you walk your own path at your own pace”. And right there and then it gave a beautiful meaning to what was meant to be a metaphor for life in general.

I decided to combine my grandma’s wisdom with Hendrik Willem’s pragmatism while supporting me: “just choose a pace that is comfortable and go a bit slower”. 

And so, I imagined my Oma to be by my side. Making small and slow steps we were slowly making our way up. Surely, she was not so fast at age 80, so I paced down, walking quite comfortably actually. Suddenly being rewarded with an eye for the gorgeous and mystical environment around me, while having a lovely little chat with Oma. In my head.

The result? I became like a diesel engine – slow but unstoppable! And while left and right of us the “fitter” hikers were starting to collapse and needed to take breaks, I continued. On and on, while the air was getting thinner, making it hard to breathe. But me and my Oma, we stayed steady, putting one foot in front of the other towards “Dead Woman’s Pass” at 4.200-meter altitude.


Reaching "Death Woman's Pass" - quite the name...


It was the simple yet effective result of coaching my mind to use a different “voice” Using my Oma’s sweet and loving voice to sooth me and encourage me, instead of the voice of my inner judge.
Sometimes it’s really that simple.

After 3 days we reached Machu Picchu and were rewarded with an amazing sight of the sun rising through the Sunrise Gate.

Up till today my Oma keeps accompanying me, any uphill battle, we battle together. Slow but unstoppable.

Reaching Machu Picchu in 2008