Hiking with a dog in the Italian Alps

February 12, 2019
Italian alps, hiking,


Welcome to ZTT #4 which is coming to us from Gemma Johnstone.  I met Gemma in my computer!  Isn’t that the way these days?  I’ve met so many incredible people in my computer.  Gemma is a member of a Facebook Group I’m in where I put out the call for contributors for this new Zen Tip Tuesday series.  She was quick to put her hand up and I’m so glad.  What a brave and inspirational lady she is, as you’re about to see.  Links to Gemma’s blog and social media are available in her bio at the end of this post.  Enjoy!

P.S.  If you’re linking up with our #ZTT Link-up #002, welcome! 

Italian alps, hiking,

After what was, for me, a very unexpected divorce a couple of years back I was left very shaken.  I had always felt I coasted through life.  I had been very fortunate and lucky to have a supportive family and friends network and a vocational career that I truly loved.  I was in a contented little bubble and felt I had always had a positive outlook on life.

When I separated from my husband my bubble burst.  I perhaps unwisely chose to let him hold onto the business I had built up over ten years and then I decided I needed to make some major changes to stop me from slipping into the depression that I could feel was starting to envelop me.

I was frustrated with myself and, in my desperation, I floundered from one hair-brained scheme to the next.  I was not managing to find work opportunities that ignited a spark in me as I had in my previous business.  I then had to say goodbye to my elderly dog who had been my constant companion for 14 years and a real support to me over the last year or so.  Struggling to cope with the loss, I realised that I really had to take back control and make a major change to shake me out of my torpor.

I decided to take the opportunity to pack up my life and go on an adventure that I hoped would give me back my positivity and sense of self.  So, along with my fantastic new rescue dog ‘Annie’, we headed over to mainland Europe.  After a couple of months of travelling, we decided to settle for a bit in Courmayeur in the Italian Alps.  I love the mountains and being out in the fresh air.  The Alpine Village has a friendly community and a keen focus on the great outdoors.  We rented an apartment at the top of the Village and it means we walk directly out onto the trails every day.

It was, perhaps, a slightly foolhardy move to head off with no plan but it turned out to be the best thing for me.

Lake, Mountains, Hiking,

Being out in the mountains every day, just my dog and I, is so good for the soul.  The fresh air, exercise, and focus on just powering up the steep slopes have been a real tonic and gives me a sense of peace, perspective and well-being that I had not felt since before my separation.  My anxieties and deep sadness have lifted and it has helped me to truly start looking forward rather than being caught in an unhealthy state of going over the past.

The area is truly spectacular and waking up to mountain views in a tranquil environment reminds me just how fortunate I am.

Annie and I are out hiking every day and my fitness levels have increased dramatically which I think also helps with maintaining a positive frame of mind.

I had always been a really sound sleeper but during the last couple of years, I began to suffer from insomnia.  Since arriving in Courmayeur this has lifted completely and I am back to being able to enjoy a peaceful deep slumber.  What a difference getting a good night’s sleep makes!

We are now enjoying the arrival of the snow and are looking forward to a spot of cross-country skiing too!

Who knows what the future will hold but at least I can move towards it with enthusiasm again.

Bio photograph


So, on the surface, Gemma may be a walking cliché. The girl in her 40s that, after an unexpected divorce, left behind her established business to travel and find herself….

Hopefully, it is not quite as clichéd as it sounds.   Gemma likes to think of it more as pushing herself out of her comfort zone to gain new and exciting experiences.

So, in the Summer of 2018, she packed up her things and headed off into the great unknown with her fantastic little rescue dog Annie.

Connect with Gemma:  BLOG  |  FACEBOOK  |  INSTAGRAM



#ztt, #zentiptuesday, #zen, #balance, #mind, #body, #spirit, #tuesday


Inlinkz Link Party

You Might Also Like


  • Reply Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond February 12, 2019 at 6:18 am

    Hi Min & Gemma! Gemma, I enjoyed reading your post and it shows that even when life hits us hard we can survive and move forward. Your decision to get away with your new trusty companion proved to be so good for you. The hiking in the gorgeous alps would have made your physical and mental health much stronger. I hope all is well with you now and thanks Min for introducing Gemma to us. Have a great week!
    Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond

    • Reply Min February 12, 2019 at 9:44 am

      It goes to show the power of nature and moving our bodies doesn’t it Sue. I think Gemma has been incredibly brave to make the move that she did and it’s wonderful to see it’s paying off for her. Hope you have a great week too! 🙂

      • Reply Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond February 14, 2019 at 7:32 am

        I love reading about inspiring women, Min and Gemma has shown courage to make the move that she did. Thank you for supporting #MLSTL and have a great week! xx

        • Reply Min February 14, 2019 at 4:17 pm

          It would have taken great courage indeed to do what Gemma did and isn’t it fab that it was all worth it! 🙂 xo

  • Reply Gloria February 12, 2019 at 6:22 am

    Congratulations on overcoming your divorce! It ain’t easy but there is so much ‘fab’ life after break-ups. I love where you went and your little rescue companion is so cute! I love the Alps and yes, it’s such a healthy way to live. You look gorgeous by the way, and very fit & healthy! Carry on living your best life!

    • Reply Min February 12, 2019 at 9:45 am

      Hi Gloria – it’s so lovely to see the smile on Gemma’s face and know that her brave decision is paying off and she has a newly restored positive outlook and love of life. She sure does look fit and healthy and happy doesn’t she? And little Annie is a cutie! 🙂

  • Reply Natalie February 12, 2019 at 6:45 am

    Bravos, Gemma, for finding the courage to move forward. You picked a beautiful part of the world to settle in and with your dog, Annie. I hope all is well and you’re enjoying life. Thanks, Min, for introducing Gemma. have a beautiful week! #ZTT

    • Reply Min February 12, 2019 at 9:47 am

      Hello there Natalie – Gemma sure did pick a beautiful part of the world to move to didn’t she? Wow – it’s stunning! You have a beautiful week too Natalie – thanks for linking up and visiting and reading Gemma’s story for #ZTT.

      • Reply Natalie February 14, 2019 at 2:02 am

        Hi Min – Just visiting again to say thank you for linking up on Wellness Wednesday this week. The next link up will be on March 13, optional prompt Indoor or Outdoor Fitness.

        • Reply Min February 14, 2019 at 4:16 pm

          Thank you Natalie. I’ll link up again on March 13! 🙂 xo

  • Reply Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au February 12, 2019 at 9:49 am

    Well that was such a positive start to my day! I always love reading about women doing brave things and reaping the benefits. Good on you Gemma for pulling yourself out of a downward spiral, stepping out of your comfort zone and finding peace and happiness again. Loved your story and thanks for sharing it with us Min x

    • Reply Min February 12, 2019 at 3:09 pm

      So glad we could help start your day off on a positive note Leanne! Gemma took a risk and it’s paying off and I couldn’t be happier for her. What a beautiful part of the world too. I would LOVE to walk amongst those alps! 🙂 xo

      • Reply Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au February 13, 2019 at 10:58 am

        Hi Min – just popping back in to say thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared your post on my SM 🙂

        • Reply Min February 13, 2019 at 11:05 am

          My pleasure, and thank you Leanne! xo

  • Reply Denyse Whelan February 12, 2019 at 3:56 pm

    What a good news story from the ‘bad’ news. Those events in our lives, the unexpected and awful, that seem to be able to both shake us to the core and then rally to get onto a new path. That you certainly have done Gemma and like the others commenters, thank you to Min for letting us know more about others and their lives.

    Denyse x

    • Reply Min February 13, 2019 at 11:02 am

      It’s wonderful to see that Gemma has come out the other side happy, fit and with a restored outlook on life isn’t it Denyse? 🙂 xo

  • Reply Christina Daggett February 12, 2019 at 4:26 pm

    I loved reading your story, Gemma, and I’m really glad it turned out well for you. The Italian Alps are beautiful. We stayed in a little town called Dazio and enjoyed hiking the trails as well. Thank you for sharing this very inspiring post. Best wishes in whatever your next venture is.

    • Reply Min February 13, 2019 at 11:03 am

      Oh those Italian alps look so beautiful! You’re lucky to have been there Christina. I’d love to one day *fingers crossed*. I’m loving hearing from people like Gemma as part of the #ZTT series. So glad you’re enjoying it too. xo

  • Reply Patrick Weseman February 13, 2019 at 12:28 pm

    So very cool and positive. Thanks for sharing this. I needed it. #MLSTL

    • Reply Min February 14, 2019 at 4:13 pm

      So glad it was helpful to you Patrick.

  • Reply Jennifer February 13, 2019 at 10:09 pm

    Fantastic pics of your new life. Sometimes it takes a painful divorce for us to realize that we’re just “coasting” through life and not truly “living” it. So glad you’re rediscovering yourself!

    • Reply Min February 14, 2019 at 4:15 pm

      You may not think it at the time but I’ve found that positive things can come from adversity – learnings, opportunities, new perspectives, growth! 🙂

  • Reply Amy February 14, 2019 at 6:44 am

    I can only imagine how incredibly beautiful your daily hikes were. Being in nature always renews my soul. Visiting from MSTL.

    • Reply Min February 14, 2019 at 4:13 pm

      Being in nature renews my soul too Amy. It’s where I head when I need a ‘pick me up’ and it always works.

  • Reply Bethany @ Happily Loco February 14, 2019 at 7:47 am

    Oh wow, so beautiful! And sunny and warm!


    • Reply Min February 14, 2019 at 4:18 pm

      It sure does look beautiful there!

  • Reply Christie Hawkes February 16, 2019 at 11:26 am

    Thanks Min for the introduction to Gemma!

    Hello Gemma. Thank you for sharing your inspirational story of courage and finding yourself again. I love hiking and find that the combination of physical activity and being in nature is truly zen inspiring. Your photos are beautiful.

    • Reply Min February 18, 2019 at 8:56 am

      I agree Christie – the combination of physical activity and being in nature – magical and therapeutic I find! 🙂

  • Reply Lydia C. Lee February 18, 2019 at 11:44 am

    I love this post – so much to love – but most of all the little rescue dog!!

    • Reply Min February 19, 2019 at 11:47 am

      Annie sure is a cutie, I agree!

  • Reply Joanne Tracey February 18, 2019 at 12:54 pm

    There’s so much about this I love. How sad it must have been to say goodbye to your dog at that time, but how lovely for Annie to come into your life when you needed her to. I’m heading over to check out Gemma’s blog and Instagram.

    • Reply Min February 19, 2019 at 11:49 am

      I’ve had to say goodbye to many dogs and it never gets easier. Annie is just what Gemma needed I think, to help her with the healing process and what a great life she’s having over in the Italian alps!

  • Reply Sydney Shop Girl February 18, 2019 at 6:57 pm

    Thanks for sharing your inspiring journey through life (so far) after divorce!

    SSG xxx

    • Reply Min February 19, 2019 at 11:49 am

      I’m slightly jelly of the hiking over there in the Italian Alps (I would love it)! xo

  • Reply Denyse Whelan February 20, 2019 at 6:34 pm

    How interesting it is to see how someone can make life work for them after events that are not pleasant.

    Thank you for linking up for Life This Week. Next week’s optional prompt is: 8/51. My Favourite Decade. 25/2/19. Denyse.

    • Reply Min February 21, 2019 at 7:56 am

      It’s a lovely read – it was a brave move by Gemma and I do love to see such a happy outcome!

    Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.