(I did not keep a blog, online journal or Facebook page while I walked across Spain, only a handwritten journal. The thoughts I share here come from this journal and subsequent journals I wrote in once I returned home.)
Though not a religious pilgrimage for me, it was very much a spiritual one. The spirit of the land, of pilgrims before me, of those who tilled the fields and worked the soil, who built the cathedrals and the roads - Spirit was abundant all along The Way.
Over a year later, lessons continue to reveal themselves, lessons I learned on and off the trail. One of the magical things about the Camino is its ability to continue to resonate deep within your soul, even when you physically step off the path. In fact, for me, some of the larger lessons became the most clear once I returned home.
December 2012 - Musings on a Post-Camino Year
Wow, I've accomplished so many of my goals for this year. I left part-time jobs that were no longer satisfying me, I moved out of my beloved cabin in the woods that was home for ten years and moved in with my boyfriend, I pushed past my fear of water and learned to snorkel and to dive, I fulfilled a long-time dream by moving to New York City, I created a blog that showcases my writing, photography and adventure travels, I created and presented five community slideshow presentations on my Camino experience, I inspired others to set out on their own pilgrimages, I've nurtured creativity and play in to my daily life, and I've set myself out on a path of freelance writing and photography. Whew!
Walking the Camino de Santiago changed my life in so many unexpected ways. By removing the confines and structure of everyday life, I was able to free myself to really envision the life I want to recreate as I delve in to my 40's...
People ask what I got out of my Camino and if I recommend that they do one. What I got out of my Camino was the gift of a fabulous external adventure that nudged me ever so slowly on an even richer internal journey. And I tell them, "do not walk the Camino de Santiago unless you are willing to make significant changes in your life"!
October 2012 - One Year Ago
August 2012 - Lessons, Questions, Insights Everywhere
My Camino experience reawakened a lust for life! Even though it's been six months since I walked, personal insights continue to reveal themselves on an ongoing basis. Here are just a few of my personal revelations, as well as questions that continue to knock at the door to my heart:
1. I am much more creative than I allow myself to believe.
2. I worry how I will be able to make a living as an artist.
3. I fear rejection: from family, friends, partners, coworkers, publishers, editors, strangers. The fear doesn't debilitate me, but it does hold me back.
4. I would like to rewrite some of the stories of my childhood.
5. I often make decisions from a place of fear.
6. I have made great strides in accepting my strengths along with my weaknesses.
7. I hate to be disappointed by others.
8. I hate to disappoint others.
9. I isolate myself when I feel badly. I would like to reach out more often.
10. Others often view me as being less vulnerable than I see myself to be.
11. I know what I need to do to take care of myself, yet I don't make these things a regular part of my life. I would like to explore why this is.
12. It is very freeing to let go of control.
13. While I enjoy my part-time jobs, I want to let go of them in order to make more room for creativity and finding income with my art.
14. It is time to forgive myself for some of my failings.
15. Do I want to live with this aspect of our relationship for the rest of my life?
May 2012 - The Hard Questions
1. Why do I engage in self-destructive behaviors when I know how harmful they are to me and to my primary relationships?
2. Do I really want to be happy or am I content with this internal unrest because it is more familiar?
March 2012 - Art Exhibit
My exhibit opens at Fireweed Gallery this month. While I'm eager and excited to share my experience, I also find I'm feeling a sense of holding back, that certain aspects of my pilgrimage were extremely personal, and I'm not ready to share those just yet.
February 2012 - Looking Back
I love that I did this pilgrim solo and I was blessed to become friends with several other pilgrims. I do wish that I had allowed myself to be less rigid on being on my own and invested some time and energy in to spending more time with others. I think that by insisting on doing it my way, I missed out on deepening some fabulous friendships.
December 2011 - Reflections
November, 2011 - Returning Home
My Camino was so much more than I expected. Stepping out in to the adventure of walking across country, through cities and rural communities, interacting with other pilgrims, all with just a pack on my back, freed me to look at ways that I hold myself back, ways that I seek out inspiration, and ways that I can bring more peace and joy in to my life, to name just a few of the things I really saw for the first time, with a mind and heart wide open.
I have wanted to walk the Camino de Santiago for over twenty years, after reading about it in a travel magazine.
This ancient pilgrimage trail, in use for over 1000 years is a network of trails that crisscross Europe, beginning in various countries. Wherever the starting point, all roads lead to Santiago, Spain, to the cathedral housing the tomb of Saint James.
I'll be walking the Camino Frances (French) route, starting in St. Jean Pied de Port, a small city in the French Pyrenees, and ending in Santiago. This 500 mile ancient route meanders through villages, small towns and the countryside, and through some cities, large and small, and along highways.