To launch the week however, four members of my team did a 100 mile walk to raise money for this year's beneficiary charity, Look Good ... Feel Better, and in addition to being both a huge achievement and one I am very proud to be associated with, it also proved to be one with a lot of lessons, many of which I am sure can apply to other areas of life and work, but that you would probably only become aware of if you were to set out and walk 100 miles (or approximately 220,000 steps according to their Fit Bit). So I thought I would share with you a few words of wisdom that the girls brought back ...
1) Be prepared to make changes ... 'The best laid plans of mice and men can often go astray' said Robert Burns, and he was most definitely right. With all the planning in the world, the road you end up taking may well have to change (thank heavens for support cars, mobile phones, and Google Maps!) Whether it's the weather, health, or other unforeseen circumstances, don't always expect your route to be set in stone - think about the long term achievement - it's a marathon (nearly four in this case) not a sprint. If you don't believe us, picture four girls straddling a ditch with the footpath blocked by cows on one side and unsurpassable corn fields on the other; you haven't seen teamwork until you are pushing your colleague through a barbed wire fence with a stick.
2) Making someone else smile really boosts your mood ... There is that point in all of our lives when we realise that giving really is better than receiving. So putting that into action the girls were handing out Golden Tickets to people they met along their walk. They were really of the Willy Wonka variety, sealed in a gold envelope with hidden prizes inside - anything from a £10 spa voucher to an overnight spa break for two. We had an overwhelming response from the spa venues that we work with wanting to contribute to this, and I can't thank them enough because not only did they make the recipients smile, that feeling of making someone else's day really boosted my girls' moods when they were tired and worn out! My hearty thanks goes to Holland House Bristol, Ragdale Hall, Stapleford Park, Longhirst, Redworth Hall Hotel, Amida Spa Farnham, Bishopstrow House, Yew Lodge, St Pancras Spa, The Winchester, Bexleyheath, Linden Hall, Oulton Hall, Harte and Garter, Cleve Spa, Clivden House, Macdonald Forest Hills, Cotswold House, Grayshott Spa Hotel, Village Herons Reach, Marriott St Pierre, Spa London, Sketchley Grange, Village Herons Reach, and the Q Hotels group.
3) It's amazing what you can do when you have dry feet ... On the second day of the walk I met the girls at their mid point amid torrential rain and completely sodden shoes. They had walked for 16 miles across muddy fields, and at this point one had had to remove her shoe because the water had rubbed off her plaster and caused it to bleed. Needless to say, morale was very low, and with another nine miles to go for the day there were some serious questions about carrying on. We all stopped for lunch, and buried them under a pile of warm towels, dry clothes, and crucially, dry socks. The mood lifted exponentially - it had rained on other days - wet legs, even wet clothes were tolerable, but wet feet were the real killer - I'm sure there's a life lesson in there somewhere!
4) It's a team effort ... One of the things that made everyone the happiest were emails, Tweets, messages, texts and calls from colleagues, friends, loved ones, supporters of #bekindtoyou Women's Wellness Week, and even more than that, visits from loved ones who met the girls along their route. Words of encouragement made sore feet more bearable, soothed frayed tempers, and made those aching limbs go that little bit further. Particular thanks has to go to one of the girls' sisters, who joined on the last day for what she thought was going to be a 15 mile stretch of the walk, and turned into 24 miles - now that's love for you!
5) Treat yourself ... Being a spa booking agency, we do have some fantastic friends, who know how to take care of tired bodies. So while the daytime was characterised by map reading and carb loading, the evenings saw the girls wrapped up in the fluffy white dressing gowns of four of our spa venues who hosted them along the route! Macdonald Comb Grove Manor in Bath, Village Hotel Swindon, Donnington Valley in Berkshire (who had the mammoth task of not only boosting, but also drying out four ladies who were soaked to the skin by the aforementioned weather!), and Harte and Garter in Windsor - you are total feet savers!
Ultimately, I think that all goes to show that our message is an important one - go out there, follow dreams, work hard, strive for the best, and push for what you want to achieve, but always remember to do a few things to #bekindtoyou along the way; it might just help you reach your destination!