It’s not a “plan” – it’s a truth…

 This week has been a great week – I received my Credential document and badge from the “Canadian Company of Pilgrims”, downloaded 3 ebooks (not all small publications are available on e-format), ordered 3 books and received one which is, according to many, one of the most sought after Camino Guide.

I am quite amazed at the immense amount of information in this book. I’ve been reading it most of the day, and I believe this will be the one book I will carry with me during my journey.

I have also found a lot of personal blogs from various pilgrims who share their thoughts and photos and I must admit I secretly wish I was heading out this coming May instead of next year. I know I need to take the time to prepare, to plan, and to arrange for time off from work. Physically I want to be ready for long walking days, and fiscally I want to be able to treat myself to the odd “B&B” when a bit of pampering is needed.

Still, each page I read, each blog I discover and each new photograph I see re-enforces the fact that this journey is not really a “planned” journey, as in “well, one day I PLAN on doing this”, or “I plan on it at some point” – – it’s a TRUTH… It’s very challenging for me to be able to explain this, but as sure as I am here, typing this entry, I will be on that Camino next year.

Of course, should something happen in the interim (an illness, a family emergency, a drastic change of daily plans) I will adapt, but mark my words, I WILL do this journey. A dear close friend of mine told me that one day, as she was walking the Canal in Ottawa, a thought made its way to her, and she knew at that moment that she would be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro; and, she did! Now, this kind of thought is not a small passing thought by any account. There’s a huge difference between having a yearning for, let’s say, a long walk in the park, or seeing a good movie, or calling up someone on a whim AND something that is as demanding as climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, the highest free-standing mountain in the world.

According to many of the blogs, forums and books written by pilgrims, the thought of walking the Camino came to many as a “given” once the idea was accepted in their hearts. A true “knowledge” that it would happen, if not as planned, as postponed or rescheduled, but as a truth.

I am truly excited about this journey. I am not fooling myself in underestimating the toll of walking more than 500 kilometers (this distance may increase based on my year of training). This is NOT a walk in the park! The walk is at times demanding in terms of distance, of elevation, of harsh weather and more expected and unexpected challenges. However, the sense of peace, quietness, camaraderie with those who seek alike experiences, gorgeous views, amazing historic sites and breathtaking churches make such challenges seem a necessary part of the trip.

Many speak of finding themselves, of changing their views of their lives and future, of clearly understanding their purpose in life, of seeing the world in a different way. I have no expectations other than to open my eyes, my thoughts, my mind, and my heart to an amazing journey. This is an undertaking that warms my heart even though it is still months away. I will be filling my mind and my heart of tales and stories and images in preparation to an incredible adventure… To quote many who say this often, “Life is Good”! – –

One step at a time…

I think this will become my overall mantra for the next few years – One step at a time. I’m sure I’ll be telling myself this often during the hundreds of kilometers on the Camino Trail. In fact, in all aspects of our lives, we could apply the “one step at a time” thinking. I sometimes want things faster than they can be. I enjoy seeing results quickly. In fact, my favorite room to clean in the house is the bathroom – certainly not due to the type of work required, but the fact that within a short time I can transform it into a squeaky clean room and I see the results quickly.

Alas, I do know that some things take, and NEED time. Progress is not meant to be achieved quickly. I certainly found that out during my first completed marathon in Hawaii in 2000. I wasn’t as trained as I should have been, I wasn’t as fit as I should have been, I wasn’t as knowledgeable as I could have been. I did complete it, but it took its toll on my body. I think in all, I took more than a month to fully recover. I learned from that, and my following race events were never undertook without additional thought, time and training.

This Camino dream is one that needs to be done the right way. It needs to be planned, I need to be fit and not only physically prepared by mentally prepared as well. So far, I’ve been reading much about the mental side of this journey. Many have written that the physical component is one thing, and one can truly prepare for that, but the emotional side is hard to plan, anticipate or expect. Everyone gets something different out of the experience, and I expect that what I will have heard, read and research will only give me some insight into what it truly will be for me during my walk.

I’ve pretty much concluded that the best time to go is either in May/June,. or September/October.  Our anniversary is in October, Thanksgiving is in October and well, snow can happen in October, even in Spain. The summer months are the most popular and with this come challenges in finding shelters in the albergues (specific resting places for pilgrims).  Along with the smaller crowds comes more solitary times. I tend to be very social, but I can see how doing a big part of the Camino on my own would be beneficial in many ways.

I don’t think one can really plan on being alone or with others. There is always the possibility of meeting other pilgrims on the trail and one could decide to simply say “hi” or “Hola” and walk on. So far, most writers who tell of their adventure state that meeting others on the same path is one of the most enjoyable part of the journey. Right now, my focus is on learning as much as I can while planning my training. In fact, I’ve started tracking my walking to “virtually” complete the distance this coming year. I don’t have entire days to commit to this now, but one workout after another (one step at a time) will let me get to that goal.

Somehow, I just know this journey is coming at the right time for me. In fact, tomorrow a local sporting and climbing store is featuring a local pilgrim who completed the Camino some years ago. I downloaded his book and I am reading it to gain a bit more insight before his talk tomorrow. Is this coincidence, or the aligment of things I need to see, do and experience to prepare me for this journey? I also found out that two of my cousins have completed the Camino and I cannot wait to meet with them and hear all about their experiences.

One step at a time – slowly, but surely, this will guide me in taking my time, doing what’s right, and being as prepared as one can be. This will be a great adventure – in fact, it already has started!

The Calling has now become loud and clear…

Happy New Year in early February. Can you believe I have not blogged since late December. Too much was going on and it became a bit of a struggle to post anything coherent and relevant to the moment… And I just wasn’t really to share much of the challenging day to day, but in the past few weeks decisions have been taken, some plans have been actioned, and overall I see things in an even more positive light.

In moments of emotional challenges, be in the quest to be the best parent we know how to be, or in the quest to overcome wanting to jump into things and take control and “fix things”, in the conflicts of ideologies and the differences we all process our personal challenges, I have been turning to a strength drawl from beyond the logic, the facts, the standard processes, the familiar influences – – a strength that I tend to muster up only as a last resort… And this shouldn’t be but my pride and my wanting to do everything blurs my need to reach out to the strength.

At first, I saw glimpse of this strength come though when my heart was low and my mind was overactive. I saw this strength when at night I couldn’t sleep for thousands of thoughts running through my head wouldn’t let my mind rest; This strength manage to shush everything out and within a short time, I would drift into a true hard deep sleep.

Many call this strength faith, maybe call this strength God, Messiah, Holly One, The Creator, Angel, Protector. Some call this religion, some call it the way, others call it spirituality. I’m not sure what I want to call if, or even if it needs a nomenclature. I know it’s there, I know it has always been there, I feel it will always be there. And whether this strength is part of this calling, this attraction, this desire, this must do journey, I cannot confirm or deny.

the journey I speak of, is the walk of the Camino De Santiago. Ironically, it has been on my “bucket” list for quite a while, along with many other wishes. However, this one seems to have taken life.

Since I had researched the Camino in the past, I had images and sounds associated with this information. When one pays attention to details and all that is around us, we can often see hints and patterns that lead us to something we think of, consider or contemplate. During my last weeks of Argentina I realized how much of the culture, the lifestyle, the colors, the sounds I would miss. Somehow my mind brought back many memories of my 3 summers in Spain. Argentina made way to Spain, and slowly but surely, Camino de Santiago became the focus.

Many of know how my mind work – I can get focused on an idea, consider it, do it, and leave it, or keep it around for a while. I am a bit of a butterfly or hummingbird, I fly from flower to flower,  enjoying those fleeting moments but never staying too long. THIS is VERY different… Truly very different. This thought of the Camino is not one of those fleeting thoughts or ideas. It didn’t come about like most others… Others came from outside – a new hobby, a new sport, a new pastime, a new thing to try and see.

This one almost seems like it came from the inside… and not from my mind. I almost alike it to a little seed that I knew was there, for quite a while, and then, almost as if Spring had touched it with the sun and fresh air, it started to grow. The idea, the concept grew. As it took up more space in my mind and daresay in my heart, it became stronger, but not in a negative way. It warmed me up inside, it made me smile, it gave me a breather when I need one, it calmed me down and so much more.

I will likely want to spend these months of preparations and most certainly the actual trek to help me understand this idea, this concept, and dare I say, this NEED.

I have 15 months ahead of me to figure things a bit more. I have 15 months ahead of me to get my body prepared for such a trek. I have 15 months to save up. I have 15 months to plan my schedule. I have 15 months to LEARN as much as I can about it. I have 15 months to transform myself into a future pilgrim. I have 15 months to work out the doubts, the concerns, the details. I have 15 months to let the anticipation grow, and to provide me with a focal point. I have 15 months – starting NOW.

My journey through this maze of thoughts, doubts, excitement, setbacks, learning, focusing, training… will be one that I will gladly share. Therefore, this has now become my first official blog of my Camino Journey. With my “virtual” staff in my hand, my “virtual” shell sewn to my “virtual” backpack, with my “virtual boots” on my feet, and hopefully Steve’s REAL Tilley Hat (that I wore for my first complete Honolulu marathon) I now take my first virtual step on the Camino. One day, in May of 2012, the virtuals will turn to reality.

Sera un buen camino!