Thursday, December 13, 2012

Day 227

Two days in a row. Can you handle it?

Today someone asked me how and why I knew I was meant to walk the Camino de Santiago. I looked back at my first post in this blog, 'And So It Begins...", thinking I had talked about that at the beginning of all of this. I realized that I never discussed the strange and serendipitous events that led me to where I am right now. When I tell people it's because I watched a movie about it, they often look at me as if I'm a little off. I get that. But it is so much deeper than those words imply. Keep in mind, I still have absolutely no idea why I'm taking this trip across an ocean to walk 500 miles on that ancient path. That piece has yet to be revealed, but every day something reminds me that I have made the right decision. So for those who don't know how this all began, here you go.

Last November, in 2011, I was in between projects at work and looking for a good movie to entertain me for the afternoon. I opened the movie app on my phone and began to browse the current titles in the theaters. I ran across a movie entitled, 'The Way'. With names like Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez, I assumed it was a big budget release that would be showing in all the theaters, but when I searched for movie times and locations, I saw it was only showing in a small theater in Denver, 40 miles away. An indy film. I'm not opposed to independent movies, but I didn't feel like driving to Denver. So I chose another movie, playing at the theater in Loveland, a theater geared towards the major studio releases.

The next week, once again, I felt the need to see a movie. For the record, I don't go to that many movies, so that's a little odd. This time, I pulled up the movies specifically showing in Loveland. Guess what movie was now playing just a few miles from my house. Exactly. 'The Way'. An indy picture showing in Loveland? Hmmm. So off I went to the movie. It was such an amazing film, one I knew I'd remember for a lifetime. The scenery in the movie was absolutely breathtaking, the story was captivating. I thought to myself, "I'd love to see Spain one day." I never once thought, "I'd like to WALK ACROSS Spain one day."

Two months later, on January 1, 2012, I left for a cruise through the South Pacific out of Sydney, Australia. It was to be a trip that would very literally change my life. Little did I know how much. I left L.A. for the 14-hour flight across the Pacific late at night. Most of my time on the plane would be spent sleeping, I hoped. Sometime in the middle of the night, I woke up. I noticed a new movie was just starting on the movie screen. I decided to sit up and watch it, whatever it was. I bet you can guess. Yep. It was 'The Way'. They don't typically play indy films on airplanes, do they? Again, I was drawn in by the scenery and the story. Again, I thought to myself, "I'd love to see Spain one day." Again, it never crossed my mind, "I'd like to walk across Spain one day."

In April of this year, I experienced a loss that many of you will remember. This loss redefined who I was and where I was going. It was the type of loss that left me wondering, "Who am I?" The scary thing was, I no longer knew. Feeling very alone, I began searching for a place near Loveland or Ft. Collins where I could meet like-minded people. It was time for me to transition out of the paranormal world in which I had become immersed, and into the more spiritual world. I found a place in Ft. Collins that seemed to fit my needs. Well, sort of. It felt too much like church. Having been raised Baptist, I tended to avoid situations that feel too church-y. So while I may have found what I needed, I refused to act on it. But every day, it seemed, I was drawn to look at the website for this place, this Whole Life Center, until one day I clicked on their calendar of events and guess what movie they were showing that Friday night. I'm sure you don't even have to guess.

That Friday night, while watching the movie for the third time, I thought to myself, "I'd like to walk across Spain one day." And so, here I am. Walking across Spain one day. In May and June of 2013.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Day 226

All my life, I have been the last one picked for any type of athletic competition. But I've never minded much, because when it comes to an intellectual competition, I've always been picked first. At least I'm good at something, right? So imagine my surprise to find myself faced with a challenge where the physical part is coming more easily than the intellectual part. I am in unfamiliar territory here. I don't know how to help myself and I don't know how to ask for help, because I don't know what I need. How can I manifest it, if I don't even know what it is?

This is a challenge I can meet. If it weren't, I wouldn't have been blessed with a teacher who is able to shift gears on a dime while pretending not to notice that I'm holding back tears in class. I am so frustrated. How do I convince myself that I am capable of learning Spanish? How do I get over this feeling that "I can't"? Because until I am able to tell myself that "I can", nothing will change.

I think the first step is to Let Go of the notion that my worth as a person hinges on my intelligence. Being smart is part of my comfort zone. It's amazing how this journey to the Camino has already broken me open, exposing my deepest, most closely held beliefs about myself. This situation is a perfect example of that. Each time I face that discomfort, I am offered the opportunity to shift perspective. To see things differently. But only if I'm willing.

Let Go. To Receive.

And now I'm going to go hike up a mountain. Because I can.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Day 220

I started out my day with a lecture. A brief and friendly lecture, but a lecture just the same.

"Callea, you KNOW this. I know you know this."

Yes, that's how Spanish class began. And Alex is right. I do know the stuff he's asking me to do. I just can't seem to convince myself of that fact. I am blessed with a brain that allows me to learn new things very quickly. I am cursed with the expectation that if I can't leap over the learning curve and go directly from A to Z, then I'm not doing well. So while I may be progressing from A to B to C at a rapid pace in someone else's terms, it still feels slow to me. Because of that, I keep telling myself that I'm failing. And when I fail at things, I give up and move on to something else. Yep, it's that whole jump out of the airplane to escape the discomfort of the inability to breathe. Luckily I have a teacher that understands this side of me, and is able to encourage me to face the discomfort and stick with it. He's not afraid to make me uncomfortable, but always knows exactly when to step in to help when I get too overwhelmed. Not many teachers in my past have had that ability. I am extremely grateful for that. And so, much like the day at the Stanley Hotel when I cried after I bombed my first tour, I have 2 choices. I can figure this out or I can quit. Well, I'm not quitting.

After class, Alex asked me if there was anything he could do to help. He assured me that, from his point of view, I was doing very well and that I needed to be a little easier on myself.  While I appreciate that, I know it's on me to change this. Not necessarily the rate at which I'm learning Spanish, but my perception of the rate at which I'm learning Spanish. I need to change how I talk to myself. If I feel like I am failing and I continue to tell myself that I am, the Law of Attraction will draw more perceived failures my way. Lately I have been practicing almost instant manifestation of the things I need in my life, without even trying. And really, I'm doing the same here too. The problem is, I'm attracting what I don't want in this case. It's time to find the way to flip that switch, even if that means going back to the beginning. When I first learned to practice the Law of Attraction, I needed visual reminders to keep me focused on what I wanted to manifest, to remind me to feel as if it's already a part of my physical reality. I told Alex that I would have to come up with the right affirmation to tape to my mirror, so I could be reminded of it every day. As I left, I asked the Universe for what I needed. The perfect reminder.

When I got home, I decided to go for a hike. I had no intention of adding altitude today. I was just planning to add a little more distance, trying to get more comfortable with the new weight I've been carrying. The fact that I ended up at the trail head of a 5 mile hike in the hills was simply divine intervention. I have done this hike before, without any weight, and it's not easy in places. I have no idea why I suddenly believed I could accomplish this, way ahead of schedule, but somehow I knew I would. The first part of the trail is a gentle incline, but not far in, the altitude begins to rise much more steeply and doesn't level off until you reach the top. I had to stop several times to catch my breath. The added weight was making a difference, but I wasn't going to let it keep me from finishing. About half way up, a guy, obviously an experienced hiker waved and smiled as he blazed past me on trail. As I continued my slow but determined ascent, I saw him coming back down, having already made it to the top. He gave me another friendly smile and a wave, and I jokingly said, "You're lapping me!" And do you know what he said to me? That stranger I met briefly on a trail. He said, "Hey, you're doing great!"

That's it! That's exactly what I need to tell myself. It's so simple. I need to be as kind to myself as the stranger had been.

Hey, Callea, you're doing great.

"Be miserable, or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it's always your choice." ~Wayne Dyer.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Day 216

I bought a backpack. While this might not seem like a big deal to many of you, it's a HUGE deal to me. It made this very real. It was the first time I literally felt the weight of what is ahead. And I have to be honest, in some ways, I resented it.  I have been enjoying the process of unencumbering my life in order to do this thing. The more stuff I get rid of, the more weightless I feel. It's a good feeling, this lightening of my load. But don't forget, I recently asked to learn how to face discomfort rather than escape it. Instant manifestation. Ask, and you shall receive.

I walked into REI and asked to be fitted for a backpack. I told the guy what I was doing and he took it from there. He showed me what he felt was the perfect pack for what I needed. He told me all about the features and specifications, most of which went in one ear and out the other. Then he loaded it up with weight and strapped it on my back. As he tightened it and adjusted it, I was briefly reminded of the feeling I had when the skydiving instructor tightened my straps. Hmmm, this is getting a little uncomfortable. What I didn't know was that he was also still holding on to the pack with one hand. As soon as I started to feel a little better about the whole thing, he let go of the pack and I felt the full weight. I almost fell over backwards. Yes, it was a little embarrassing. Several experienced backpackers were in the area to witness it. I had to remind myself that they all had to start from the beginning at some point, and in reality, they were all very kind and supportive. Not one of them looked at me as if they thought I couldn't accomplish my goal. I was the only one left wondering that.

After I got my balance and found my center, he sent me on a lap around the store. Oh yeah, 17-1/2 pounds is heavy. When I finished the lap, he asked me how it felt and if I felt any discomfort. (No, the irony of that question did not escape me.) As we stood there talking, with the pack still on my back, I shifted my weight from one foot to the other. This time, if I hadn't caught myself I would have fallen over sideways. I give the guy credit. He managed to be prepared to catch me and pretending not to notice all at the same time. That's a true professional right there. It was all I could do not to make more of a fool of myself by bursting into tears right there in the store. The reality of it all suddenly became almost too much to bear. This isn't just something I'm planning to do. I am doing this. The emotion that is carried with that realization is extremely powerful.

I don't know why I am walking the Camino, I just know I'm supposed to. That is very surreal. The purpose behind it is much greater than any earthly reason I could give it. The weight of that purpose is daunting, but it's not impossible to bear. I must remember to keep my focus. I can't do things the way I have done them in the past. Things are different now. I am different. I need to stay much more centered. Any little shift is noticeable, throwing me off balance, as I learn this new way of being. But it will get better with time and patience and perseverance. I will get used to the new weight. I will find my new balance. Small shifts will not send me reeling. But first I have to learn to face the discomfort. Feel the weight. Build up my strength to carry that weight. And soon, I will feel weightless again. Not because I have gotten rid of the weight, but instead because I have learned to carry it properly.

"The things you choose to take with you on a journey own you, not the other way around." ~Alex Moore, Spanish Teacher/Expedition Guru/Friend

"Attachment is the source of all suffering. To get rid of suffering, free yourself from attachment." ~The Buddha

"The Universe continues to remind me that it can, and should, be trusted." ~Me

Monday, November 26, 2012

Day 210

Can I be honest here?

"Oh no, Callea, we'd much rather you lie to us."

Yeah, I know. I promised complete honesty, so here it is. True terror has begun to take hold. Now more than ever, the support of my friends is critical. So if you have a little extra to hand out, send it my way. This is getting more and more real as the days tick by. I still feel that it is right. I feel it to the depths of my soul. But the piece of me living here in this world has my doubts. OK, now that we have that out of the way. Moving on.

Recently I had the opportunity to put some closure on a fairly painful part of my life. With that came immense healing. The best part of it all was that, although I was terrified to take that step, I did what I knew in my heart was right. I trusted the Universe to make a way out of no way. And in it's Infinite Wisdom, it delivered. I believe it was a symbol for what is to come. Do what feels right and the way will be provided. The Way. El Camino.

As I look back over my life, I think of all the times I re-invented myself. I swear I've led more lives than Madonna, although none of them quite as exciting, I'm sure. I've always been the resilient type. When one thing no longer serves me, I'm on to the next. This can be a good thing and a bad thing. Remember the experience I wrote about in the airplane before my second skydive? Day 125? It was much easier for me to leap out into the unknown that day than it would have been for me to remain in the airplane and experience a little discomfort. I have to say that speaks volumes to my commitment, or lack thereof. It worries me that I'll get to Spain, all high on the adventure, but at the first sign of discomfort, I'll start looking for a way out. And there WILL be discomfort. No doubt about it. Being there all alone, who will talk me off the ledge when I'm ready to quit? Me? Wow, if that's the case, I could be in trouble. I'm much better at motivating myself and others to accept change. I'm not so great at the pep talks that include sticking with it no matter what.

And so, my goal over the next 5 months is to work on my ability to face up to challenges, to feel that discomfort. Wow, what am I saying? Too late, I already put it out there. Be careful what you ask for. It's not all wine and roses, as they say. I can do this. I want to do this. And it is the right thing to do. Keep reminding me of that.

"A strong woman has faith that she is strong enough for the journey,
But a woman of strength has faith that it is in the journey that she will become strong." ~Unknown

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Day 183

Halfway there! The first six months of preparation for the Camino have already changed my life tremendously. I can only imagine where I'll be when this is all over. No, I take that back. I can't imagine at all! At the times when I feel I'm making no progress at all, something always comes along to remind me of how far I've come. That helps fuel my passion to continue. It's so rewarding to look back on where this has led me, so I can't wait to see what's ahead.

The reminder of my progress from this past weekend was a powerful one. So powerful, in fact, I am still processing it. I will share as much as I can, but I'm unable to tell everything out of respect for another person who was involved. This is mostly his story, I was only a bit player. But, bit player or not, I know I will feel the ripples from this experience for some time to come.

I went on a ghost hunting adventure in the desert of California at the Amargosa Hotel & Opera House in Death Valley. Lately, my theories and opinions on "ghosts" and the possibilities of what they might be have drastically changed. It's been exciting for me, but it's also sent me into a bit of a skeptical tailspin, so to speak. I don't know what to believe anymore. A crisis of faith is what I call it. I haven't been too worried about it, knowing it's all part of this new phase of my life that I'm entering, but I have struggled with the fact that I didn't know if I could believe anything at all.

When I arrived at the Amargosa Hotel, I was exhausted, having been up since 3:00 am to catch my flight. I knew I had a long night ahead of me, so I decided to take a nap before the evening's festivities began. I quickly fell sound asleep. I don't know how long I had been napping when I woke up with an overwhelming urge to turn on my iOvilus. For my non-paranormal friends, that's a ghost hunting tool that reads the energy in the room and spits out words. Usually when you turn it on, it begins to say random words, most of which make no sense. It never really shuts up. There's typically a word every few seconds. But this time, I turned it on, and nothing. Silence. I waited, and I waited. I was just about to turn it off when it said one single word.


Then once again, it was silent. Not another word for the entire 20-30 minutes I left it on.

Soon it was time to get up and get ready for the first night of the event. It would be a night of socializing and fun. Barbecue, bonfire and beer. I had arrived alone, but I arrive at many events alone. I had long ago overcome the fear of just getting out there and meeting new people. I knew a few people who would be there as well, and had been looking forward to seeing them again. But as I laid there in the bed, my old social anxiety took over. Suddenly, I didn't want to go. I wanted to hide in my room. When I tell you I waged a war with myself to get out the door of my room and into the lobby of that hotel, I'm not exaggerating. No idea where that came from. I'm just glad I didn't let it stop me. I met some amazing new people and had a ton of fun with those I already knew. It reminded me of the message I got not long ago. "The darkness will be there if you need it. It's where you feel most comfortable," But instead of letting my old friend, fear, dictate my life, this time I chose the opposite. No darkness for me tonight, thank you very much. I choose the light. It is a choice. My choice.

The next night, was ghost hunting night. But what actually happened was so much more personal and rewarding than finding "evidence" of some former hotel guest still roaming the halls. It began in the former women's restroom in Spooky Hollow, the nickname they have given to the unrenovated portion of the hotel wing. I was standing in the room with three other people, when a darkness began to envelop us. The only way to explain it is that it was blacker than black. The darkness seemed to be emanating from one of the 3' X 3' shower stalls and surrounding us, sucking the light out of the room. Suddenly my friend turned to me and said,

"I think you need to go in the shower stall."

"ME?!? Why me?"

"Because this was the women's restroom and I feel like something bad may have happened in here to a woman."

As ghost hunters, we often go off of intuition and instinct like that. Hard to explain, but it sometimes works. So into the shower I went. OK, I wasn't as willing as that makes me sound. After my fingers were pried off the door jamb. and I received a good shove from behind, I found myself standing in the shower. As I stood in the very cramped stall, I saw a veil of darkness descend between me and the three people who were all within a few feet. Then a door appeared to open to my left. And behind that door was the vastness of the entire Universe. I wanted to reach out and see if I could touch the side of the shower stall, to see if I was imagining it, but I was afraid that something would grab my arm and suck me through the door and I'd be gone. I asked my friend to peek in and see if he saw anything.

"Whoa!" he said. "It's like Space Mountain in there!"

At that point, I knew what I was experiencing was real. If he saw it too, I wasn't just imagining it. Or if I was imagining it, I was also physically manifesting it. I stepped out of the shower and asked him if he would go in and see if it happened for him as well. It did happen for him, and for each and every one of the other people who were brave enough to try it that night. I have no idea what is going on there, but all I can say is that I stood on the edge of something huge. Something beyond our human comprehension. I may not have had the courage to reach in and experience it, but I acknowledged it, and for now that was good enough.


Later in the night, an even more powerful event took place. This is the portion of the night I can't share. It's not my story to tell. It belongs to someone else. He just allowed me to be a part of it and for that I will be forever grateful. I believe the two events of the night were related. The door of the Universe opened for us and allowed us to see beyond our human limitations and to experience something which showed us that there is something greater out there watching over us. Helping us. Wanting us to ask for access to its wealth of knowledge. And willing to share that knowledge when we're ready. It was a game changer for those of us who were a part of it all. We have each been affected in some way by our participation, partly because we allowed ourselves to believe.


Later as we discussed and analyzed the experience, we realized that it happened only because we were ready. Six months ago, I know I would not have been prepared for my role in it all. Because of that realization, we learned that everything is perfectly timed. It happens exactly when you are ready. Not an instant before and not an instant after. Like magic.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Day 176

And so I have begun the next leg of my Camino. A new part of the journey, and along with it, new things to experience and to learn. The time spent on my symbolic Meseta has come to a close. The hard part is over. Or is it? I guess it's all in my perception.

I think back to the beginning of what I consider to be my awakening, when I first caught a glimpse of my soul. I remember feeling relief. Finally! I've found that illusive path I'm "supposed" to travel. The rest is easy. I'll just follow this little trail, and nothing can go wrong ever again. Little did I know how that path would lead me through the depths of my being and out the other side. It wasn't easy AT ALL! It was difficult, frustrating and painful. There were tears, and there was heartbreak. There was loss, and there were disappointments.

And I'd do it all again.

At the very beginning of all of this, when things began to get tough, I tried to turn around. To go back to the day before I understood. Before I knew. But what they say is true. Once you have acknowledged that spark inside, it becomes a fire you can't put out. There is no turning back. There's only one way out, and that is to walk through it. What they don't tell you is that, after spending enough time in the dark, it becomes your place of comfort. There is solace in the dark. The work I did in there was for myself. It was private. In the dark, there was little, if any, accountability to anyone else. If I screwed up, it didn't matter. No one could see.

Now I stand on the edge of this new way of living - of BEING - and I realize, I'm scared! It's bright out here in the light. Everyone can see me. My work, instead of being for me, now becomes something to be shared with others. I resist the urge to, once again, try to turn around, to return to the safety of the darkness. Has my preparation been good enough? Am I good enough? Am I worthy of this light that shines on me, and through me? I can only trust that if the answers to these questions were no, then I wouldn't be standing here. My preparation has been good enough. I am good enough. And yes, I am worthy of this light. We are all worthy of the light.

I may be scared, but I've learned how to acknowledge that fear without letting it stop me. Fear, and all of the emotions associated with it, no longer control my life. I have so much to share. I have found my passion, and for that I am eternally grateful. Now that I have discovered the 'what', the 'how' will take care of itself. This part of the journey won't be without its tears and its heartbreak, but I have come to recognize them as my friends. Little symbols of how much I care and how much I give of myself. I'm ready to receive what this life has to offer. And in the receiving, to give it all back, knowing there's always more.

My heart is full and my knuckles are no longer white. I'd say that's a very good place to be.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Day 166

Let's get real here. I am walking the Camino de Santiago in May 2013. I'm almost at the halfway mark in my year of preparation. In the past couple of months, it has become something that I say, not something that I do. Won't I be surprised, when I stand ready to take that first step in St. Jean Pied-du-Port, and I realize that just saying it hasn't prepared me physically for the walk. So now I must forgive myself and change it.

As I have said before, there is no distinction for me between the road to the Camino and the actual Camino itself. I am already on my Camino. The journey began the moment I first uttered the words to myself. "I am walking the Camino de Santiago." In the beginning it was a romanticized version of what it would be. The beauty. The art. The architecture. All of those things I would experience by foot, allowing me the time to fully take them in and to feel their energy. A traveler, not a tourist, truly immersing myself in the culture of a foreign country. As I began to prepare, however, I realized that while I will have those amazing experiences, there is much more to what I have undertaken. There is the spiritual journey within and without. I will be asked to face my fears and, rather than walk around them, instead to walk through them. In preparation for that, and without even consciously knowing I was doing it, I have begun to draw things to myself that need to be fixed. Situations I would have run from in the past, I have faced up to. I have looked fear in the eye, and I haven't backed down. I have gone deep within and found my shadow self, that part of me that I didn't want to be. I have embraced my shadow. I have found the good in it. I have found the good in me. I have learned to love me, shadows and all.

Lately I haven't had time for meditation. Truth be told, I just haven't taken the time for meditation. I haven't put myself first. So this morning, I took the 20 minutes I needed and I spent some time with God. Typically, when I meditate, I imagine myself at the top of a staircase. As I would take each step down, I could feel myself going deeper and deeper inward. But today I got to the staircase and I put my foot out, ready to take that first step down, and instead I took a step up. As I often do, I tried to "fix" my visualization. No, no, Callea, you need to go deeper into meditation. You need to step DOWN. And then I heard a gentle, quiet voice that told me, "You've been down there. You've done what you need to do in the darkness and the depths. Now it's time for you to learn how to step UP. There are lessons to be learned up here as well. It's time. Leave the darkness behind. It will still be there when you need it. It's where you feel most comfortable and that's OK. But now you are ready to face your fear of the light and step into it." Now to be honest, I don't know that I heard those exact words. I know that I felt the words. And I know that it was very important to me, after the meditation was done, to immediately write this so that those words I had felt could become a reality. Something I could look back on when I needed a reminder.

And so, there you have it. All my life, I've thought I was afraid of the dark, but now I know I'm really afraid of the light. My light.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Day 125

Wow! I am 4 months into this thing. Time is going by so quickly I almost can't breathe. Sometimes I want it to slow down a little. Other times I wish next May would just hurry up and get here. As I mentioned in my previous post, some say the Camino begins the minute you decide to walk it. That is true for me. My Camino has begun. And it's not easy. Right now, I can't even find it in me to say that I know it will be worth it. Over the past week or two, I've been looking for a way out. An excuse why I can't do it. I'm pretty good at coming up with those excuses. I just wish I was better at coming up with the reasons why I should do it. But each time I get to the point where I'm ready to quit, something comes along to remind me why I shouldn't. This time my reminder came from my beautiful niece, Maggie. But first, let me tell you about this past Friday.

I believe in life there are ultimately only two ways to live. No matter what choices you make, they come from one of these two places, which are mutually exclusive. You choose one or the other. Never both. Fear or love. The good thing is that if you choose fear, love doesn't give up on you. It's always waiting in the wings, hoping you will change your mind, and ready to support you when you do. Lately, I have been choosing fear over love. I find myself struggling to find my center. I can see it from where I am, but I just can't seem to get there from here. That all comes down to my continued unwillingness to do the work. I know what I need to do. I'm just not doing it. And so the lessons of the Camino come to greet me. Lessons to be learned, sometimes the hard way.

This past Friday, I jumped from a plane for the second time and landed safely on earth, once again a changed person. This time, however, it wasn't the immediately uplifting experience I had the first time. As I think back over the events of that day, I see the purpose much more clearly now that a couple of days have passed. I was very excited to skydive again. This time I knew what to expect and I was looking forward to remembering some of the things that are a little foggy, or gone completely, from the first time. The initial step out of the airplane, for instance. That moment from my first jump seems to be permanently blocked from memory. This time, I wanted to stand at the edge of the door, looking 13,000 feet down to the ground, and consciously take the leap. I got my wish, but not necessarily in the way I thought I wanted.

We loaded up on the plane, and headed off into the wild blue yonder, packed in like sardines. I remembered my tandem instructor from the first jump saying, "If you're comfortable sitting in the plane, you're doing it wrong." Having suffered from severe claustrophobia for many years, I was surprised that this didn't bother me very much. Maybe it was the focus on what I was about to do that kept me from feeling the closeness of the cramped airplane. For whatever reason, it wasn't an issue on the first jump in May, and it wasn't an issue this time. That is, until my instructor started tightening my straps.  Let me just explain, that prior to this jump, my friends Teri and Lisa, who were joining me for their first tandem jump, had been talking about the 80-year old woman who had come out of her harness, dangling loosely until she and her instructor thankfully landed safely.

Although I wasn't really worried about that happening to me, as my instructor began to tighten the straps on my harness, I started to feel the beginning of claustrophobia. I knew I could breathe my way through that fear as I had done on many occasions. Find a comfortable spot in my head and just breathe. This discomfort was necessary. After all, I didn't want to fall out of my harness. And then it happened. He tightened the last strap which was across my stomach and suddenly I couldn't breathe. Well, I could breathe, but I felt like I couldn't take in a full breath. In an instant, my claustrophobia came roaring to life and a panic attack took over. I honestly don't know what kept me from just ripping at those straps and losing it completely. I remember making the choice to fight the fear. It was a moment I will never forget. The strength came from somewhere outside of me, and deep within me, all at once. Just breathe. In and out. In through my nose and out through my mouth. I briefly wondered what would happen if I hyperventilated and passed out midair. I quickly put that particular thought aside. And I breathed in and out as best I could.

Somehow the experienced jumpers sitting around me noticed what was happening. I don't know if they alerted my instructor, or if he alerted them. All I know is that I heard someone say, "We'll get out of the way so you can get her out of the plane." How embarrassing! There were a couple of single jumpers sitting in front of me. They scooted forward. I don't know if they moved out of the way, or if they jumped out ahead of me. All I know is I wanted out of that cramped space, and I needed air. We got to the edge of the doorway. I made sure, through the panic, to focus on the first step out into the nothingness. No matter what was happening, I was going to remember that moment this time. The second I took the leap, it took my breath away, just like last time, but when I was able to take in my first breath, It was normal and full and glorious. I could breathe again. Even at 17,500 feet above sea level, with very little oxygen in the air around me. I could breathe. I kept hearing my instructor say, "I got you. I got you." At least I think it was him. I don't know, maybe it was someone else letting me know I was OK.

When I got home that afternoon, and had time to reflect back on the day, the negative self-chatter began. Instead of congratulating myself for fighting through the fear in order to experience something I loved, I instead let the memory of the fear take over. I cried off and on all evening. The tears were expected. I had the same thing happen after my first jump. But my incredible ability to beat myself up over the claustrophobia incident was unexpected. I began to try to convince myself that if I shut myself off enough, if I avoided doing things that challenged me physically and spiritually, then I could avoid having to ever face fear like that again. Instead of reminding myself that I had faced that fear head on and won, I began to look for ecape routes from facing other fears. I don't want to do this any more. Let me off the ride. Make it stop. I'm willing to live the unlived life. Just don't make me face anything like that again. I already know the other fears I have to heal, and I don't want to heal them. I'm happy keeping those fears, and myself, safe and sound in a world of ordinary. And while I'm at it, I no longer want to do the Camino. It's too much. I can't do it. I'm not strong enough.

And then I got the news that would remind me that, not only am I strong enough, but it is necessary for me to continue to live that way. It's not just for me. These things I do in my life, both right and wrong, are an example to others. Most importantly, to the kids in my life, who are all courageous beyond belief, but who sometimes need a little encouragement to remember that they are brave, so they don't miss out on life.

My niece, Maggie, has been invited to study abroad next summer as part of some leadership conferences that she has attended. She will visit both London and Paris. What an amazing opportunity for her! I am so proud of her for the wonderful person she is, and continues to become. But I know that as the time approaches, and the reality sets in, she will begin to doubt her ability to spend that time so far away from home. What if it's too much? What if she can't do it? What if she's not strong enough? My answers to those same questions in my life will be her example. What do I want that example to be?

Fear or love?

All I know is that when it gets to be too much, and I can't breathe, and the fear threatens to overtake me, all I have to do is take that leap. And when I do, there will always be someone telling me, "I got you."

For the record, I AM walking the Camino next May. Don't let me tell you - or myself - any differently.

"When you saw only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you." ~Mary Stevenson 'Footprints in the Sand'

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Day 106

Many who have traveled the Camino de Santiago before me say that when you make the choice to walk the ancient path, that is the moment your Camino begins. There is no doubt my Camino has begun. In fact, it began a few months before I even knew I had decided to walk it.

As I learn more and more about this thing I've decided to do, I realize how really powerful it is. It's so much more than just a long backpacking trek across Spain to see the sights. I always knew that was the case, but I don't think I understood the true importance of it. As I continue in my preparation, many things are appearing in my path, seemingly out of nowhere. Some of these have helped me with questions such as what to bring, where to stay and how to navigate the long trail. But others serve a much deeper purpose. They are helping me to tune in to the energy of the Camino. To teach me valuable lessons that will open me to the true reason I have begun this journey.

There is a belief that the Camino actually follows ley lines, energetic pathways that crisscross the earth. The energy along a ley line is thought to be quite powerful and, if you are open to it, healing in its properties. But some wounds are buried so deep that, in order to heal them, they must first be revealed. Several reports I have read of those who have undertaken "The Way" say that it exposed them to their deepest fears, their greatest physical limitations or their most firmly held obstacles to peace, then allowed them the opportunity to walk through those fears, those limitations and those obstacles. When faced with these challenges, some quit. There is no shame in that. They simply weren't ready to trust themselves enough to face the fear and find the love waiting on the other side. Because at the root of it all, that's all there is. Fear and love. At each moment, it is my choice to accept one or the other, but never both. Those are the only true polar opposites. Everything else is shades of grey.

When I say that I am walking the Camino, just know, I AM walking the Camino. Right now. And at the symbolic end of that portion of this lifelong journey, as I stand in the shadow of St. James, when they ask me, "Where did you begin your Camino?", I will know the answer. And it will not have anything to do with the trailhead in St. Jean Pied-du-Port, France.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Day 93

Yesterday was the end of the first 3 months on my journey to the Camino. It was a very powerful day. So powerful, in fact, that I was unable to write this blog until I slept on it and allowed it all to process. I'm still not sure I can do it justice, but I'll try. For now, let's just say that God, the angels, and my guides were working overtime on me yesterday.

The day began with an answer to a question I had asked the day before. I woke up with the answer in my head, as if it had been there all along. And of course, it had. The question itself is not important. It was the attitude behind the question. Why can't I have...? A question arising from the illusion that there is something out there I don't already have. That I am somehow not complete and whole exactly as I am. The answer? Both perfect and maddening in its simplicity.

"It doesn't always happen as it's meant to, but it always happens as you create it. Take credit and responsibility for co-creating your life."

In other words, there is more in all of this for me. It has already been given to me. I just have to receive it. Stop blaming God, the Universe, other people, for what I can't have. As I learned from Wayne Dyer, I don't attract to my life what I want, I attract what I AM. It can be no other way. Sometimes it's tough to look in that mirror. If I want something different in my life, I need to BE something different.

All of this and I hadn't even gotten out of bed for the day. I should have known at that moment, it was time to buckle up. It was about to get bumpy.

After getting out of bed, I got dressed and headed out on my walk. More messages and gifts were in store for me along the way. I picked them up and carried them with me. But they weren't burdens, and in fact when I arrived home after my six mile walk, I realized that, seemingly out of nowhere, I had received the energy to reach another goal. I went back out and walked another four miles. My first ten mile day! TEN MILES! That's the magic number. What I need to be able to walk each day on the Camino in order to complete the 500 miles in two months. I did it! Along with that, however, I came to the daunting realization that I have no excuses. I am able to accomplish this. I do have it in me. I just have to do it. It all comes down to me and what I choose to create with what I've been given. It's a little scary to realize that it is within in my power to do all that I choose.

So what were the messages and gifts that led to my success?

Probably the most profound of all, was the vision of myself as I completed the Camino. I'm not sure how to explain this properly. I have already finished the journey, although I haven't yet begun. It was real. It was immense. And it happened. I stood at the feet of St. James and laid down my burdens. Then, as if watching a movie in reverse, I witnessed flashes of my time on the Camino, rewinding me back to the beginning, back to exactly where I was at that moment on a walking trail in Loveland, Colorado. I was clearly able to relate the experiences I will have along "The Way" to my life as I am living it right now.

There is a 100 km stretch along the Camino, called La Meseta. It is flat, it is desolate, and it seems to go on forever.  Many pilgrims find this portion of their journey to be the most difficult, more demanding even than the grueling climb through the Pyrenees on the first day. Think about it. It is  100 km of an 800 km walk. At my expected pace of 16 km/day, it will take me nearly a week to cross La Meseta. In my life I am currently crossing La Meseta. It is flat, it is desolate, and it seems to go on forever. But it doesn't. More importantly, there is beauty in this landscape if I look at it with the proper attitude. There is beauty in it all. In the beginning. In the end. And In La Meseta.

Another message came to me as I walked and listened to my iPod. The music I use for meditation began to play. Since it wasn't time to meditate, I was about to fast-forward to another song, when something stopped me. This was important. Listen to the music and the message. So I did. There is a part in the piece that, every time I hear it, instantly transports me back to the ship as I sailed through the South Pacific in January. On the first morning of my cruise when we were to arrive in port, I woke up early to go out to the bow of the ship and watch. Fascinated with all things nautical, I wanted to see the docking procedure. As I stepped out on deck, I saw that I was early. It would be awhile before we were in port, but the tranquility of the early morning lured me to remain. I watched as we gently and carefully maneuvered between the islands so close to either side of the massive ship before finally arriving safely in port. That experience touched my soul and will remain with me forever.

As I fondly remembered that life-changing cruise, another gift was revealed. I realized that while that ship had taken me to some amazing places, both physically and spiritually, it was now time for ME to take myself on the journey. That is the true purpose of my Camino. It is said that no one walks the Camino without help at some point from someone else. But in the end, it will be me and no one else, who arrives at the beginning and makes it to the final destination. And, remember. I've seen the end of the movie. I really do make it.

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure." ~Marianne Williamson

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Day 86

Six miles!

A couple of powerful messages made their way into my walk today. The first came after seeing a hawk in flight with something in its talons. I realized that while there are some who are willing to scoop you up and carry you, not everyone does so with the intention of helping you get further along your path.

The second message was delivered courtesy of the river. If you are walking next to the river, it doesn't matter if you are headed upstream or downstream. It's only when you finally get in the river that you feel the difference between going with the flow or against it. The same with life. Get in your life. Experience the flow. Feel the energy!

And for today, that's all I have.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Day 84

Look at those days ticking by so quickly. The big trip just keeps getting closer. I feel like I'm still on schedule. Right where I should be. Although to be honest, I could work a little harder. Prepare a little more. Be a little more diligent in my efforts. But this is a journey of no judgments and no fear. What will be, will be. In the end I will have become a different person. A better person. I will have learned a lot and experienced even more. It will change me forever. I look forward to that.

Today I went back to the beginning and started marking the 1st of each month with the day number, from 1 to 366, so I can keep better track of where I am in the big picture. I have also begun checking into flights and trains and the other details needed to get to the start of the Camino and then home after it's over. It looks like the best plan is to fly round-trip to Madrid then take a train to St. Jean Pied-du-Port, then back to Madrid by train from Santiago de Campostela. That news brought tears to my eyes. I've always wanted to see Madrid, so I couldn't be more excited. My walk will also take me through some other major cities such as Pamplona, Burgos and Leon and through some stunning countrysides. Beautiful art and architecture feed my soul like nothing else and I'm excited to find the same connection with nature.

I found a comprehensive website which will help me immensely. Even if it doesn't answer all of my questions, it will at least give me an idea about what questions to ask. If you're interested in learning more about what this is all about, it's at Camino de Santiago - The pilgrimage routes. The website shows you the different routes available. I plan to take the main route - the Camino Frances - although that may change if I decide to avoid the major climb through the Pyrenees on my very first day. There are some amazing pictures and a suggested 31-day timeline. I don't intend to push myself hard enough to complete this in 31 days. I have set a target of 60 days with some of those days being "days off" to explore and sightsee. Oh and maybe to rest. Maybe.

For now, I'm still trudging along at 5 miles a day. Soon I plan to take a day and do 10 miles. After that, I'll need to start doing some mountainous hiking trails and adding weight in a backpack.

"No matter how dark the dark, it can never extinguish the light of even the tiniest candle." ~A message given to me during meditation

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Day 68

I know, I know. There are no excuses, but I got off track. I injured my foot somehow, and it's just now healed well enough for me to walk long distances again. I also hit a huge wall called "Lack of Motivation" after I allowed people and their opinions get in my head and take over. But that's all in the past. So let me just re-state my intention here, for me as well as for anyone else who might read this. I AM walking the Camino de Santiago through Spain next May. This blog is, and will continue to be, about my journey to that goal - physically, spiritually and mentally.

Today is my birthday. It is also the beginning of a Personal Year One according to numerology. It will be a year of fresh starts and new beginnings. My arms are wide open, ready to receive the amazing things coming my way. I deserve these things. I have worked very hard to clear out the things that no longer served me, and to make room for new opportunities. It's time to let some things in. To take the risk that by letting things in, I will eventually have to let them go. I am OK with that. I'm stepping through the fear and into love.

I started my day with a new book called, "The Magic" by Rhonda Byrne, author of "The Secret". This book goes more in-depth about the practice of gratitude. In fact, it's designed to be read over the course of 28 days. Each day a different exercise in gratitude is practiced. At the end, a new habit has been formed. The habit of seeing everything as a blessing for which to be grateful. There's no better day to start this, since I am being reminded of my amazing family and friends wishing me a beautiful day as my iPhone blows up with notifications. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

And now, I'm headed out to get back on track with my walking. It's a gorgeous Colorado day. Time to go enjoy it.

"Everything is energy and that's all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy. This is physics." ~Albert Einstein

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Day 44

Last week I took a little time off. My intention was to complete an Isagenix 9-day total body cleanse in order to jump start the process of developing some healthier eating habits. During a cleanse, there's not a lot of energy left over for physical activity because the body is working so hard on the inside cleaning out all the toxins and eliminating them through the urine. When I am done with a cleanse, however, I always feel like I could take on the world - healthy and rejuvenated.

But this time, I didn't finish the cleanse. On Wednesday of last week, my dog Roxy had sudden, complete and irreversible kidney failure, possibly due to antifreeze poisoning by a neighbor. I raised Roxy from the time she was born. In fact, she was the runt of a litter of 11 puppies our dog Abby gave birth to 11 years ago. Roxy almost didn't make it back then and I ended up bottle-feeding her back to health. The bond was formed and when it came time to find homes for the rest of the puppies, there was no way she was going anywhere. She was a good dog. And now she's gone. When I submitted my request to the Universe to help me figure out what to do with my dogs in order to continue with my major life changes, that's not what I meant. I'm honestly feeling a little guilty as if that's the reason it happened. Was it necessary for Roxy to sacrifice her life for mine? I'm struggling with that one right now. But I'm trying to Let Go.

As with so many other things in my life for the past few years, the Letting Go seems to have come at such a painful price. I am making the changes that are needed in my life in order to move towards my true self. These decisions aren't always easy. I am following through on what I set out to do. I am choosing the "what", and simply trusting that the "how" will take care of itself. But it seems, especially with the more difficult choices, that the ultimate decisions have been taken from me in some pretty harsh ways. It makes me fear making other major life choices because the consequences are so severe if I don't immediately act on my intention. Yes, in the end, I always get what I asked for. But isn't it possible for the angels to send a few rewards my way for a job well done? A little positive reinforcement for making the conscious choice to co-create my life, instead of a constant barrage of what feels like punishment for setting my intention, but not following up with action quickly enough. Frankly I'm a little pissed, and I know I need to change that or I'll just get more of what I'm pissed about, which scares me and sends me back into making choices based on fear. AAAAAHHHHHHH! It's a vicious cycle.

Today, I got back out on a 5-mile walk. The wind had shifted enough to clear out the smoke from the nearby High Park Fire. As I walked, I could see the huge plume of smoke billowing off the mountain. So many acres and so little containment. It seems hopeless, but it's not. The firefighters will eventually extinguish this fire and room will be made for new growth in place of what has been destroyed. Sometimes a fire is fought with water, and sometimes a fire is fought with more fire. Intentionally start a controlled fire. Burn out the rest of the fuel in the path of the raging wildfire, then let the winds of change turn the fire back in on itself. With nowhere else to go and nothing else to burn, it burns itself out. And the new growth begins. Wow, that sounds familiar.

"I will not die an unlived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise. I choose to risk my significance; to live so that which comes to me through seed goes to the next as blossom and that which comes to me as blossom goes on as fruit." ~Dawna Markova

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Day 31

I made it a whole month! That's longer than I have ever followed through with anything. Seriously, things have changed for me, and when I say I'm doing something it means I AM doing something!

Today was my longest walk yet. I hit a wall about half way. Which means I was as far away from home as I could get. But I walked right into that wall with no fear, no regrets. And as I did, I felt an explosion. A splintering apart of all the doubts I've been feeling lately. I suppose some might try to explain it as the endorphins that are released with physical activity, a so-called "runners high", but for me, it was a release.

I have been practicing mindful walking at times on the trail. This is a type of meditation used by Buddhist monks. It's necessary to feel each sensation in your body as you take a step, each footfall, each breath. Through this I have realized that there is some fear inside of me that I need to let go. I notice as I walk my shoulders are hunched up under my ears. I remember at the start of each and every ghost hunt I led at the Stanley, I would ask everyone to take a deep breath and drop their shoulders down from under their ears. "They aren't going to protect you there," I'd say. Many would laugh and wonder how I knew. I knew because when I'm scared I do it too. And so, I recognize it as a fear-based response. Something I need to work on. There is no room for fear in this process.

More and more things are coming to mind that I need to research about this walk. Yes, I fully believe that if I worry about the what, the how will take care of itself, but I'm thinking part of the how is listening to these things that pop into my head. I'm reminded of the man who drowns in a flood. When he gets to heaven, he asks God why he didn't help him and God replies that he sent him several men in boats and each one was refused with the statement, "God will rescue me". These thoughts are my boats. My way to navigate the waters of this unfamiliar journey I've started. It's necessary to pay attention. To participate in my own rescue.

I'm walking over 5 miles a day now. This may not seem like a lot to some of you, but to me, it's huge. I really did get off the couch to do this thing. I remember on May 1, walking barely 2 miles and thinking I might die. I've come a long way, with a long way to go. One step at a time. Right on track. Well. And sometimes off track, just for fun.

The robin was my animal totem today, In fact, the robin has appeared on several of my walks and only today seemed insistent that I mention her. The robin symbolizes new growth, a belief in yourself and a reminder that when you do, obstacles will fall by the wayside. I'm glad I took the time to notice.

"The shell must break before the bird can fly." ~Lord Tennyson

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Day 26

Today was a tough day. Just out of the blue. I had no idea what was even bothering me. I decided that it would be a good time to not only take a walk, in spite of the way I was feeling, but to also add on the extra mile for the week, two days early. All I hoped to accomplish was getting the physical part of the walk out of the way, no mental or emotional work today. I wasn't in the mood. In fact, I turned my headphones up extra loud to try to drown out any "love and light" that might try to sneak through in the form of an inspirational thought that could ruin my perfectly good bad day. It didn't work. It was as if all the right songs were just standing in line waiting to offer me the next important piece of information I needed to hear.

I began to notice that I had let doubt creep in. What the hell am I doing? What makes me think I can walk 500 miles? Why am I even trying? Give up. Come on, stupid, give up. What am I trying to prove anyway? And then I remembered a story I told last weekend about the first portion of the tour I ever gave at the Stanley. It was bad. No, seriously. Really bad. I was terrified. I had never been comfortable speaking in public, and this time was no different. When my portion was over and the regular tour guide took over, I headed to the bathroom. I sat down in a stall. And I cried. What the hell am I doing? What makes me think I can be a tour guide? Why am I even trying? Give up. Come on, stupid, give up. What am I trying to prove anyway?

At that moment, I had a decision to make. I could push past the fear and figure it out. Or I could quit. There was no shame in either choice. Well, I didn't quit back then, and this time I won't quit either. I can do this thing. In fact, I AM doing this thing. I have a long way to go before I'm ready, physically or mentally, but I had a long way to go when I decided to stay at the Stanley too. I've proven that I can exceed my own expectations, and that's all that really matters. This is for me.

And for the record, I also figured out where all the crazy emotions were coming from today. When I jumped out of the plane, I felt a really clogged energy channel burst free. Things I had been holding inside for years, because they were too difficult to deal with, started to surface. I felt it happen, and I automatically began trying to bottle them back up. But just like the cork on a champagne bottle, you just can't plug it back up. It's time to let this stuff go. And this is some really OLD stuff. I remember when I was first attuned to Reiki, the Reiki master told me I would experience 9 days of uncomfortable energy, as everything cleared out. All I needed to do was acknowledge the feelings, accept them as having been a part of where I've come from, then let them go. And so, I am letting go. It may not be comfortable, but it will be very freeing. And when it's done, it's finally and forever done.

This is for me.

My little friend the grasshopper leaped into my path today to remind me to be the first to jump towards new horizons.

And, that's the best I've got for today.

See you all when the horizons look brighter.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Day 19

I am on the fast-track to stepping out of my comfort zone.

Before I talk about the event I attended at Poasttown Elementary School in Middletown, Ohio, I wanted to answer a question that has been asked a lot.This past weekend several people asked me what my training for the Camino involves. Mostly it's a lot of walking. I plan to take about 6 months to get my endurance up and increase my distance, with the ultimate goal to be comfortable walking 10 miles at a time. After that I'll start wearing the loaded pack to increase strength along with the endurance. But all the physical training in the world will never take the place of the need to get my mind in the right place. I talked about mental toughness in an earlier blog. The daily workout for that is my top priority.

In addition to the training, it's necessary to prepare in other ways. My lease expires at the end of this month, so today I let my landlord know that I would like to sign another lease through April 30, 2013. After that I will be homeless while I walk the Camino. I'll need to get rid of most of my personal possessions during this coming year. The few things I keep will go into storage while I'm gone. I will also soon begin the process of finding homes for my animals, which will not be easy for me, but it's all part of Letting Go. I have confidence I will find them all good homes where they will be happy and loved. I wouldn't offer them any less.

And now, let's get to the event on Saturday with Into the Dark Media. It was another life-changing experience. Wow! Two in one weekend. Can I even handle all that excitement? When I originally agreed to give a lecture, I was working at the Stanley Hotel. I would be attending on behalf of the hotel. That would be a piece of cake. I could talk about the Stanley all day long and most of the night, with one hand tied behind my back AND my eyes closed. But, as most of you know, that was not meant to be. When everything happened with the Stanley, I immediately contacted Steve and Shawn to let them know and to ask if they still wanted me to do a lecture. I mean, really, what would I talk about? They assured me that I was still very much wanted at the event, so I better get my butt there with no excuses.

Before I left the Stanley, I had contemplated the question, "Who am I without the Stanley Hotel?" That's a pretty serious question, if you think about it. Even when I separated from my husband after 13 years, I never asked that question. I knew who I was separate of my relationship from him, but in this new world in which I had found myself, I was immersed in my role at the hotel. I guess I had lost myself in it. To the point that, when I left the hotel, people were worried that I had no job. No one knew I had a whole life outside the Stanley. I didn't even know that.

So I began working on a lecture about some of the things I had been thinking about in the paranormal. Some more radical, less mainstream ideas about what I believe is going on. Things that I was not able to fully share when representing the hotel on a professional basis. The more I thought about what I would talk about, the more excited I got. And, the more nervous I got as well. Would anyone care what I had to say now that I wasn't telling the same old ghost stories of the legendary Stanley Hotel? Would they hate my theories? Worse, would they be apathetic to them?

For the lecture, I had written out old-fashioned note cards to keep me on track, since a PowerPoint presentation wasn't an option. I was worried that the note cards would make me look like an amateur. I was also concerned I didn't have enough material to fill my hour. Finally I told myself, "Take this leap. Find out who you are and if you have anything to offer. Or don't. But quit whining about it." And then I decided to jumped out of a plane. The skydive uncorked the fear that had kept my emotions bottled up for so many years. That was a side effect I didn't expect. Without the fear, keeping them stuffed down deep inside, they were all there, waiting to be released.

As I began the lecture, I let everyone know I was a little nervous, and that I was still feeling a little tender about the recent circumstances of my departure from the Stanley. And then I began to cry. Someone spoke from the back of the room. I'm not sure who, but whoever you are, I owe you a huge debt of gratitude. "Let Go," they said. Let go. I took a deep breath. I found my courage and my big girl panties, and I continued. This time, I told MY story, not the story of that hotel I still love so much. And you know what? People wanted to hear it. They were interested. They opened their minds and their hearts to what I had to say. They opened their hearts to me. Me. Just Callea.

I found out who I am without the Stanley Hotel. I am a kind, caring, genuine person. I have things to say that people want to hear. I deserve to feel this way. And while I am grateful to the Stanley Hotel for the opportunities I had - without them I don't know that I would have ever been brave enough to speak publicly - I am thankful I am no longer there. I don't mean that in a spiteful way. I just know that now is my time to fly. For me, not for them. It's my time.

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." ~Eleanor Roosevelt

Day 18

I have come to realize that my Camino is not just about the walk I am taking in a year. This is an entire journey of the soul. The Camino de Santiago will be one small part of a much larger whole. And if a 500-mile walk across Spain can be a "small" part, imagine the amazing things yet to come. Thanks again to everyone who reads this blog once in awhile and for those who have offered me a word or two of encouragement.

There are no words to describe the weekend I just spent in Ohio. I am going to give it my best shot in my next two blogs. Just remember, no matter how well I describe it, it was better. I've had a lot of life-changing experiences lately. I now understand that although I have done some pretty incredible things, it's not the experiences themselves so much as my willingness to allow the experiences to make a difference in my life.

When I visited Ohio last September, I noticed a sign on the road for skydiving. I had never before considered skydiving, but for some reason, I thought, "Hmmm, that might be fun to do someday..." I never imagined I would actually do it. Until I did. One day a couple of weeks ago, while on a walk, I remembered that sign. I knew I was returning to Ohio for an event, and something just kept nagging at me. Do it. DO it. DO IT! It seems these days when I make a decision and say I am going to do something, it just falls into place. No questions asked. No energy wasted on doubts and regrets. So I made the plan. I signed up. I even talked a friend into jumping with me. I'm not sure he knew how serious I was.

"Are you really gonna do this?!"

"Yes. You wanna go along?"

"Hell yeah!"

Five minutes later, I told him, "It's booked. No turning back."

His response, "Shit."

My soul wanted to do this thing, however it seemed my mind had other plans. On my way to the airfield, with plenty of time to get there, I got horribly lost. Even my "smart" phone couldn't find my location, so it was no help. Looking back, I realize it was all simply a test of my determination and I passed. I arrived at the skydiving office exactly on time, despite the fact that the clock in my car had told me I was late while I was still lost somewhere in Middletown. I agreed to die if it was my time to go and to hold them harmless if I did, then I was off to do this thing. I felt a strange sense of calm, which I'm sure had nothing to do with the margaritas I had been drinking that afternoon.

On the plane, as we climbed higher and higher, the reality began to set in. I'm really doing this thing. I AM doing this. But, seriously, how do I take that first step out into the great unknown? In the end, as with all the other "how's" in my life lately, as long as I focus on the "what", the details handle themselves. There was no time to even think about how that first step would go. I scooted up on my bench with my incredibly good-looking tandem instructor strapped to me, then as we got next to the door, before I even had a chance to look out, he just tipped me sideways and we cartwheeled out of the plane. Well. Ok then. What's done is done. Can't change the past. No control of the future. Might as well enjoy the present. Be in the now.

There was no fear, only trust. I never doubted that parachute would open. In fact, truth be told, I was a little disappointed when it did. That adrenaline rush of hurtling through the sky was indescribable. It didn't feel like I was falling, more like I was flying. When the parachute opened, that's when it felt more like a thrill ride, ironically. The turns and dips we took gave me that roller-coaster feeling in the pit of my stomach, which I love. I even got to take control and "drive" the parachute. At this point, fear was no longer in control of where I was going. I was. When I later mentioned this to my friend Sandiee, I called the tandem instructor my guide, not even realizing how meaningful that was, until she said, "Your guide always knows what's best for you." Wow. That's when I knew. I did so much more than jump out of a plane here. I allowed myself to finally understand the true meaning of how it feels to Let Go.

According to Dr. Wayne Dyer, in order to manifest things into your life, you must first FEEL as if they are already a part of your life. How could I attract the art of Letting Go into my life, if I didn't know what it felt like? I had no concept of it. Now. I do. Let's DO this thing!

"I will not die an unlived life." ~Dawna Markova

"It's hard to dance with the devil on your back
So shake him off."
~Florence + The Machine, 'Shake It Out'

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Day 15

Today was tough and I'm not even sure why. About a quarter of a mile into the trail, I got a dull ache in my groin area. Luckily, I was able to walk it off, but from then on, everything seemed off somehow. I really could have used a friend with some encouragement along the way. Someone to put their arm around me and assure me it would all be ok. Instead, all I had was me. And I suck at encouragement. When I got home, I sat down on the couch and cried. This time the dull ache was in my heart. Not physically, but emotionally. I have no idea where the tears came from, or why. They were just there, so I let them go. Tomorrow will be a better day.

Right after I finished with the tears and was about to write this blog, I checked Twitter. This was the first tweet I saw. Good thing Neale was "there" to motivate me.

"Good things await you on the other side of this ridge. This is a hill you can climb. Just put one foot in front of the other." ~Neale Donald Walsch

Monday, May 14, 2012

Day 14

Two weeks into this year-long adventure. As I began this, I started to notice and identify with the signs around me. Little gifts I was given as I walked down the path. But today's walk found me more focused on the things inside of me. I thought about each step as I took it. Each one, it's own individual success, but still a part of a much larger whole. Each step was all I had. I couldn't jump ahead and take the steps yet to come, and there was no way to go back and re-take the ones I had left behind. So while that one little step was indeed a part of a long journey, it, in itself, was the journey. Such a powerful message.

Each day I have decided to walk just a little bit farther than the day before. If I increase my distance little by little, the enormity of the 500 miles I will eventually walk doesn't seem so unreachable. Every day I get closer. And as I get closer, I sense things inside of me changing. Shifting. I find myself no longer wanting to hide behind the excuse of my fear. So even if I take just one step into that fear, just one. little. step. then today, the fear didn't win. And so I have decided to take just one little step. Just. One. Little. Step. out the open door of an airplane and into the vast unknown of freefall. It is time to find out if I can really trust that parachute to open. And if I can trust myself enough to take that step.

It truly is my Year of Leaps. My life has been waiting for me to finally let go of the fear. And let go I will.

Friday, May 18, 2012 at 5:00 pm. I'm leaping out of that plane and landing softly back on the path to continue this grand adventure called life. Wish me luck!

"I never dreamed home would end up where I don't belong,
I'm movin' on,
At last I can see, life has been patiently waiting for me."
~Rascal Flatts, 'I'm Moving On'

"I came to win, to fight, to conquer, to thrive
I came to win, to survive, to prosper, to rise
To fly."
~Rihanna, 'Fly'

Friday, May 11, 2012

Day 11

Today took me back through the streets of Boulder. My old stomping grounds. A place that will always hold a special piece of my heart. I watched the soon-to-be college graduates, with their whole lives ahead of them, jealous for a moment, until I realized, "Hey! My whole life is ahead of me too!" Yes, I have left more behind than they have, but that doesn't minimize what is yet to come. I am just as excited, if not more, for what I have to look forward to. But I also understand that happiness doesn't arrive when I get where I am going. It's here now. All I have to do is embrace it.

I talked to my family about my plans to walk across Spain and part of France. I realized that although I am doing this for me, I am also doing this for my nieces. I want them to know - to BELIEVE - that anything is possible. There are no limitations in this lifetime except for the ones we place on ourselves. I want them to reach for the impossible, and once they have attained it, to reach for something more. No fear, no regrets, no holding back. This journey is for me. And this journey is for them.

I feel the true beginnings of the letting go process I need to complete in order to accomplish what I have set out to do. It makes me happy. It makes me content. I am at peace.

"Participate in your own rescue." ~A rafting guide on the Arkansas River

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Day 10

I'm back after a few days off to focus on my job. It felt good to get back to walking. It offers me the time I need each day to think about things. Where I've been. Where I'm going. And most importantly, where I am. Today's lesson was about procrastination. The reason I didn't have time to walk and write over the past few days was because I had put off working on a project that was due this week. I waited until the very last minute, as I often - OK, as I always - do. My excuse is that I work better under pressure, but that's not really true. The truth is that I get stressed under pressure. So why put myself through that time and time again? Because you see, it's what I've always done. It's my comfort zone. It may not be what's in my best interest, it's just how I am used to doing it.

Whatever the reason may ultimately be for my decision to begin this year-long journey from my couch to the Camino, I know that a big part of it is to help me look at things from a new perspective. It is supporting me in a new way of being in this world. Procrastination does not serve me and, as a result, I need to let go of that familiar habit. If I am truly going to walk for almost 500 miles in just under a year, I can't procrastinate. I need to focus on my health, my fitness and most importantly on myself right now. Not in a year, not in a day or two. NOW! Procrastination is no longer an option. I am doing this thing. Right now.

Today I noticed an ant carrying a load much larger and heavier than his little body. It reminded me that anything is possible. I bet no one ever told him he couldn't carry something that heavy and so, he can.

"They tell me I shouldn't know how to do this. I tell them I didn't know that. Sometimes your ignorance leads to your success." ~Pearl Fryar, 'A Man Named Pearl'

A Man Named Pearl Movie Trailer

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Quick Update

I haven't disappeared, although it feels like I have, buried as I am in a project for work. Little time to walk, reflect and write, but sometimes life gets in the way of life. I'll be back at it tomorrow or the next day as soon as my project is complete.

Thank you to everyone who is taking the time to read about my journey!

Back soon.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Day 5

No, Day 4 isn't missing. I took the day off to drive out of town for a little fun. And this Day 5 blog is a day late because all I had with me on the trip was my phone. Bet you all thought I gave up already, huh? No such luck.

Yesterday's walk included time in my favorite cemetery in Georgetown, CO. Such a beautiful cemetery, not in the traditional groomed and manicured style of cemeteries inside the city limits, but in a wild and unkempt way. Kind of like me. Well. Except maybe for the beautiful part. I was joined by three other women, with the ultimate purpose of looking for some spirits. We walked as we talked, then we talked as we walked. It was great re-connecting with an old friend while adding two more to my list. I see the Universe moving new people and things into my life which are exactly aligned with where I am. Hey! This stuff really works!

I didn't keep track of how far I walked, or my average speed, or the calories burned. I just walked for the fun and the exploration of it. Something I plan to do quite a bit of on the Camino. I don't want to push myself to such a pace that I don't have time to stop and smell the roses, or sample the wine, as the case may be. I believe the whole reason I am taking this walk is so I can really see and, more importantly, feel these places.

I just realized that Day 5 took place on the day of the Triple 5 portal. 5-5-5. May 5, 2012 (2+0+1+2=5). Five is the number of immense change. Gee, ya think? I started out this year calling it my Year of Leaps. And leap I have. Speaking of that. Leaping, that is. I'm thinking the next thing I need to do to challenge my boundaries is to leap out of an airplane. Do I have the guts to do it? Stay tuned to find out.

This decision to walk the Camino has taught me so many things about myself, but the biggest lesson I've learned is that I don't want to live my life, I want to experience my life. I want to feel it with every part of my being. And that is exactly what I plan to do.

"You don't attract into your life what you want. You attract what you are." ~Dr. Wayne Dyer

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." ~Muhatma Ghandi

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Day 3

Mental toughness. That's what this goal requires. Even more difficult to overcome than the physical aspects of what I'm doing, is the self-doubt and the fear my mind tries to use to convince me to quit. I knew when I made the decision to start this journey, that it would challenge me in unexpected ways, I just didn't expect it to happen so soon. 

I took it a little slower today, and walked a little less distance, realizing that I gave myself a year for a reason. I don't need to be ready tomorrow. As I walked, no matter how much I tried to focus on the positive, I just kept going over the things that concern me. I'm not going to list them here, because I don't want to give them extra energy.

I AM doing this. I do trust myself. I am braver than I give myself credit for. That's all for now.

Today was a success.

"The less I seek my source for something definitive, the closer I am to fine."  ~Indigo Girls, 'Closer to Fine'

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Day 2

Today I pushed it too hard. It's what I do. Almost as if I am looking for a way to fail. It's the perfectionist in me. I want to do it perfectly, immediately, or not at all. I struggled with keeping my mind off of the enormity of my undertaking. In the end, I put one foot in front of the other, did my best to keep my mind in the now. And forgave myself for not being perfect. I need to quit being so hard on myself.

More power symbols along the way today. A monarch butterfly fluttered past more than once. A symbol that I will be taking a long journey. Monarchs live much longer than most other butterflies, so I'm sure there is significance there as well. And another spider. This one led me down the path for awhile. Well, only a few steps, but if you think about it, a few steps for me is equal to about 10 miles for the spider. Again, the reminder that I create my life.

I'm already feeling my first blister, so shoe and sock shopping is in the cards for tomorrow. The iPhone app for distance walked was perfect. It even calculated average pace and calories burned. Bonus! I'm burning calories. Who knew?

Today was a success.

"You are capable of anything. But if you screw it up occasionally, so be it." ~Colin Tipping

"It's the strangers in your life
That you never thought you'd meet
It's the hand that picked you up
When you're laying in the street

It's the hand that cut you down
It's the dream that someone shared
When you thought that all was lost
It's the friend that wasn't there

You can run from all the memories
But never get that far
For in the end they'll find you
For this is who you are"
~Trans-Siberian Orchestra, 'This Is Who You Are'

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Day 1

Today I walked my first official two miles. I could have done more but, well, two reasons. I didn't want to burn out on the first day by overdoing it and um, yeah, I, uh, had to pee. That's right, I got a mile down the trail, which also means a mile away from my car and I suddenly realized I reeeeallly had to go. Definitely need to plan better for that issue.

I learned that Loveland has a bunch of walking paths and trails. I'm happy about that because if I had to walk around my neighborhood over and over again, I'd get bored. Along the trail I chose today, I saw three butterflies, a dragonfly and a spider. Oh and a sign telling me to welcome the little bears if I saw them along the way. Really?! I don't know if there is a bear "little" enough for me to want to welcome it, but OK. The good news is I didn't have to. At least for today.

I found the walk to be full of symbolism. The butterfly is a symbol of metamorphosis. An emergence from the cocoon of my limitations into the freedom of who I really am. The fact that there were three was even more significant to me since it's the number of past, present and future.The dragonfly signifies the stripping away of those beliefs that say, "I can't do this." And the spider teaches me to break out of my stuck energies and weave my own personal web. In other words to be the creator of my own life. I don't think any additional explanations are necessary, right?

I still need to buy a pedometer and better shoes. Honestly, I wonder how many strange looks I would get if I just walked the Camino in my most comfortable shoes, or should I say, in my Ariat boots. Hmmm, are you listening Ariat? How about a sponsorship?

Today was a success.

"I believe in you. Your friends believe in you. Now it's time for YOU to believe in you." ~Shawn Sellers

"Visualize your dream (Yes)
Record it in the present tense (Don't be scared)
Put it into a permanent form
If you persist in your efforts
You can achieve dream control"
~Queensryche, 'Silent Lucidity'

Monday, April 30, 2012

And So It Begins...

Let's begin with the why. I'm sure that's the question most people will ask when they hear I am planning to walk the Camino de Santiago in a year. A journey that will take me a month or more, covering almost 500 miles. There are many routes, or caminos, from which to choose with the most popular beginning in St. Jean-Pied-du-Port, France and ending at the cathedral in Santiago de Campostela, Spain. It is a pilgrimage undertaken for as many reasons as there are pilgrims who take it. This is my reason.

I have been on a spiritual journey for the past several years. It has not always been easy, but it has taught me more about myself than I could have ever imagined. I find myself losing sight of the path at times, wandering aimlessly, taking one step forward, then three steps back. But I always seem to somehow end up back where I belong. I know when I'm back on track because, while things in my life don't necessarily get easier, I find myself reacting to them differently. I notice the synchronicities and the serendipity in life. I feel grateful for my experiences. I create my own reality. But then I get in my own way, and the next thing I know, I'm lost again. Some would say - in fact I would say - that I'm not really lost at all, and my time spent off the path I have chosen, ironically, is the path I have chosen. Are you getting the idea yet of what I hope to achieve by choosing a path, a camino, then putting one foot in front of the other - no turning back, no straying from the path. And at the end, when I arrive at the feet of St. James, I will lay down my burdens, and begin life anew. For me, it's about the journey, not the destination.

I don't plan to focus on too many of the how's. I have chosen what I want to do. How I will accomplish that is now in God's hands. I have made a plan, but I am not attached to the outcome. Whatever happens with this, is exactly what is supposed to happen. I will, of course, plan and prepare, but I am completely open to where those plans and preparations take me. This blog will be a journal, not only of where I am going, but of how I got there. Something I can look back on and marvel at the miracles that took place along the way. I will include some inspirational quotes with each blog. Some may be famous quotes, some may be the things that people say to inspire me along the way. Hopefully, they will inspire you as well.

So, wish me luck, or Buen Camino. Follow me, if you want, on this journey from my couch to the Camino and beyond.

Feel the energy.

"You don't choose a life, you live a life." ~Emilio Estevez, as Daniel, in 'The Way'

"The wake is the trail that's left behind. The wake can't drive the boat." ~Dr. Wayne Dyer