Tuesday, June 25, 2013

June 25, 2013

Just under 700 km. 425 miles. 43 days.

I wanted to do something extraordinary.

So I did.

To be continued...

Monday, June 24, 2013

June 24, 2013

Words seem inadequate. I have worked so hard for this for so long, and here it is. I don't know how I feel. It's a mix of emotion swirling around inside of me, making me both sick to my stomach and giddy with excitement. This morning I walked through my last magical, mystical Galician forest. When I emerged, the finality of it all was immediately evident when I saw the airplane lifting off from the runway before me at the Santiago airport.

Gone are the long moments of peace when everyone I started the day with has walked on, and those from the town behind have yet to catch up. Gone are the opportunities to simply pause and allow the chaos around me to pass, while also allowing me to catch my breath and find the peace once again.

But are those moments and opportunities really gone? Or have I finally learned the secret to finding that peace within myself, despite my circumstances and my surroundings. I need only to return to those forests in my mind and tranquility will be restored.

The gratitude I feel in my soul is immeasurable.

For my friends and my family and those I barely know who have lifted me up and supported me in my darkest times, and celebrated with me in my joys and successes. For those who made this possible in one way another, giving me your time and your energy and your love.

For the opportunity to walk the Camino. There have been parts of it I didn't care for at all, but each of those was a learning experience and an opportunity to grow. And each of those has already been overshadowed by the true miracles I experienced along the way. This journey has changed me in ways it would have taken years to accomplish in my day to day life. If ever.

For my courage to take the leap and actually follow through with this. How many times did I want to quit, both during the preparation and the walk itself. But those times don't matter. What matters is, I DIDN'T quit. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, one step at a time, and I succeeded.

In the spirit of my life lesson to Let Go to Receive, the time has come to say goodbye to the Camino. Some of you know how bad I am at goodbyes. There are always lots of tears. Tomorrow will be no different. A big part of my life will be over. In the past. The future is a blank page, still unwritten. What I write on that page is my creation. That blank page no longer seems so overwhelming.

Thanks to the lessons of the Camino, I have learned that tears don't make you weak. Refusing to ask for and accept help doesn't make you strong. I have learned to watch for and follow the signs. They are everywhere, if you just know where to look. I have learned to trust in myself, in others, and in God. In the same way that the Camino always provides, so it is with the Universe.


Natasha Bedingfield "Unwritten"

Sunday, June 23, 2013

June 23, 2013

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

I've heard this quote by Marianne Williamson many times, but it never really hit home until I walked the Camino. My deepest fear really was that I was powerful beyond measure. That's a lot to live up to. It seemed easier to live beneath my capabilities, blaming it on one inadequacy or another.

Today the quote just popped in my mind as I walked. I thought to myself that I needed to look it up and read it again when I had access to wifi, since I couldn't remember it exactly. When I stopped for lunch, I logged into Facebook and what do you know, the first post I saw linked to this video of Marianne reading the quote herself.

I now know that I am indeed powerful beyond measure, and that I have not only the right, but also the responsibility, to live up to that fact. I'm going to let the video say the rest.

P.S. I don't know how to embed the actual YouTube video in this blog from Spain. It keeps trying to add a version with a Spanish voice over, so click the link below to watch the video on YouTube. You'll be glad you did. It's worth the 4:40 of time.

Marianne Williamson "Our Deepest Fear" 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

June 22, 2013

I've debated about posting this one, but I've let you all experience everything else with me, so why stop now. This is not intended to make anyone feel sorry for me. It is what it is.

Tonight at dinner, I watched people toasting and celebrating with each other. For many, this is their last night. Tomorrow they will arrive in Santiago. They were telling each other how great it was to have met and how much they enjoyed the camaraderie along the way. Some were exchanging email addresses and Facebook information, others were making plans to meet up for the Pilgrims' Mass at the cathedral in Santiago.

This trip has been a challenge for me. I love my alone time in my real life. In fact, I'm energized by it. But always, when I'm ready for socializing, my family and friends are just a phone call away. There has never been a monumentous occasion in my life where my family and friends haven't been there to celebrate with me.

This time is different. Finishing the Camino may possibly be the biggest thing I've ever accomplished. But when I arrive at the cathedral, there will be no smiling face to congratulate me. No friends or family to hug me. I end as I began. Alone. I guess that makes it a little bittersweet.

I know I have the support of all of you who have been following along throughout this journey of mine, and I can never sufficiently express my gratitude. What would I have done without all of you? Thank you for being there for me through it all. We're almost there...

Friday, June 21, 2013

June 21, 2013

Last night I ate dinner with a German couple. They barely spoke English, and I remember about four words from my German classes in high school, but somehow we managed to have a very nice conversation. I noticed that their guidebook now consisted of about five pages. The rest was gone. Many people will do that as they walk. They tear the pages out as they complete the stages, leaving less and less weight to carry each day. Every little bit helps when you are carrying everything on your back. I told them I had thought about doing the same thing, but I couldn't bring myself to tear out that first page. I love books, and for some reason it just seemed wrong for me to tear it up and throw it away. We even laughed when the man apologized to me for mutilating his book. It was a very brief, and seemingly inconsequential part of our conversation.

This morning, I left a few minutes before they did. Taking it slow, as usual, I had paused to breathe in the smell of the eucalyptus trees in the morning air, and to enjoy another of the magical green fairyland forests that I've come to love in Galicia. The German couple walked by, wishing me a Buen Camino. A few steps later, the man stopped, turned around, and asked me, "You love books?"

"Yes, very much."

"Do you write books?"

Holding back the sudden tears that sprang to my eyes, I said, "Not yet. But I plan to." In my head, I was thinking, "If I ever figure out how..."

He winked and tapped his head with his finger and said, "I suspected that."

He asked me if there was anything of mine he could read online. I directed him to this blog, telling him this was it for now. Then we parted ways as they walked on down the path.

Some of you who've known me for awhile will understand the significance and the incredible synchronicity of that conversation. I have been told over and over by many people that I need to write a book. I have agreed, confirming that I feel that I have a book somewhere inside of me, waiting to get out. I just don't know how to begin. I was thinking that very thing as I began to walk, the tears I had held back were now flowing freely. And suddenly I remembered that I didn't know how to walk the Camino a year ago either. It's not up to me to worry about the "how". It's my job to figure out the "what". How many times have I said that throughout this past year? How many times does this book thing have to hit me over the head before I pursue it seriously?

When I left for Spain, many people asked me what I planned to do after I got back. I always said I didn't know, but that the answer would become clear when the time was right. I had two months ahead of me with nothing to do, but think about that question. I had begun to wonder if there was even going to be an answer or if, for some reason I couldn't understand, maybe I'd return feeling just as lost about my next step as ever. Here I was, less than a week from finishing, and that sign from heaven had not yet appeared.

Until today.

That chance meeting and conversation with a stranger was no coincidence. There is no such thing as coincidence. I finally know what's next. I have no idea how. I have no idea why. I just know it's what I'm supposed to do. Wow! Does that sound familiar, or what? Pretty sure I said those exact words when I decided to walk the Camino.

And so I have come full circle. Am I ending where I began, or beginning where I end?

Does it really matter?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

June 20, 2013

Three times today I got hopelessly lost in Melide. Three times an old man appeared wearing a brown sweater, a beret type cap, using a cane. Each time, he'd walk directly up to me and say, "A Santiago?" To Santiago? Each time, I'd say, "Si." He'd then point me in the right direction and walk away. This happened in three completely different areas of the city. Where did he come from? How did he know I was lost? Why did he choose to help me? Hmmm. Camino magic at work once again, I guess.

Yesterday I stopped a little short of my goal. Partly because my heels were hurting from the hills (again). Partly because I was freezing, and I just couldn't get warm. And partly because I was having a hard time finding a place to stay since I'd moved up my arrival in Palas de Rei. Walking fewer kilometers yesterday meant I had to make them up today. It was a little more flat, but still a long day. I'm hoping these feet of mine survive the final 50 km. I'm almost there. Then I can give them a break on a beach at an all-inclusive resort, while sipping port wine, in Portugal. Hopefully that's incentive enough to convince them I need them to last for just a few more days.

Any additional prayers and "heel"ing would be appreciated. They haven't hurt this bad since Burgos.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

June 19, 2013

Such a mix of emotions as I entered my final week this morning. A year, and then some, of planning and preparation is about to come to an end. But with that ending comes an incredible opportunity of new beginnings. I have learned so many lessons in the past month and a half. So many, in fact, that I can't remember most of them. But not too long ago I told someone, "You don't have to remember the lessons in your head, as long as you remember them in your heart."

I am certain that I remember all of them in my heart, and I will carry them there for the rest of my life. Believe me when I say that this has been the most powerful thing I have ever done. I honestly don't know if I can match it in the future, but I won't even try. If the power I have received from walking this ancient trail is meant to be exceeded, it will come to me easily and without a doubt.

I still have work to do - A LOT of work to do - but I truly left the doubt and fear in my ability to do that work along with my stone at Cruz de Ferro. That doesn't mean I left all doubt and fear behind. It just means that I will no longer let it stand in my way. I will recognize it for what it is, and use that recognition as a chance to instead choose trust.

Six days of walking left. Six days to fully enjoy the "Me" I have come to know and love. Six days. Another lifetime in the blink of an eye.