Even after 44 years

I tell people I live a charmed life. I have a strong sibling family, I am mother to two beautiful and loving daughters, I am a wife a giving and wonderful the man who stayed at home with the girls and provided them with stability at home (when it was very rare to see a man stay at home) and I lived a very unusual professional life with a its final day some three years ago.

My husband and I travel often to many amazing locations in the world. I have had the privilege to walk in Spain on the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage that people have been doing for more than thousands of years. We made cast-in-stone decisions that allowed me to retire at the tender age of 50. We have a humble home in a very nice neighborhood and we have many great friends and loads of acquaintances and our life is amazing… I am so grateful for this, and all the beauty I have experienced in my life.

dad 3But, there is a hole in my heart. No due to a failed romance, bad professional moves or terrible investments or wrongful acts… My hole in my heart belongs to my father. It belongs to the decades of living without a fatherly influence, a fatherly embrace each evening, a fatherly stern concern about a potential decision on my part… It belongs to the little girl who was but 9 years old when life took him away from us. It belongs to the many decisions I’ve had to do with only one parent, or at times, no parental thoughts, advice, or concern. It belongs to those days when having a male parental figure in my life to guide me along was needed. It belongs to those special days such as my wedding day (I have the most considerate brother who walked me down the aisle), the birth of our two girls, or my retirement.

I live my life in a frozen state – that of a child not being able to ever experience her father in a mortal way. I live my life not having gone through the stage of finding my father to be old fashioned, out of touch or unaware of the progress of technology. I live my life in a stage where my father is nothing short of perfection – for I am, and will always be, adult or not, in a mind’s child of 9 when it relates to my father.

Each father’s day, I rejoice in the recognition that my husband has always had a very strong presence in our family. What joys can my daughters have to continue to get to know their father with new eyes each year on what makes him so amazing and unique. What incredible experiences they have each day in even the most mundane situations. What joy and simple but touching moments they can have with him each and every day. And in the bottom of my heart, I miss this.

Growing up I remember thinking that this would be easier with time… this constant missing of my father’s presence. There were years where I thought that years of maturity of age would make his absence easier. There were years when I thought my sheer anger would help me through the moments of void. There so many times when I would fall asleep at night, hoping that somehow I would be able to dream of him. My belief system is such that I feel he is with me at all times.

However, not in the way I want him to be. I would give almost everything to have one more day with him, one simple time to be able to, as a adult, to be with him. But life had other things in store for me, my mother and my siblings.

On father’s day, I truly celebrate my beautiful husband’s presence in my daughters’ lives. It is a true gift to all be together and to honor someone’s presence which will forever be an influence their lives.

And quietly, when everything has been put away, when dishes have been cleaned and dried, when leftovers of a good meal have been put away, I have my moment… of missing a hug, a smile, a cuddle, an advice, a stern word, a caring action…

They say time heals all wounds… but I can honestly say, time does nothing to help a heart that has a hole, a girl/woman who misses her father. Even after 44 years.

Renewed focus on returning to my Camino

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESEverything was set; my backpack was as light as could be, my plans were open enough to allow for changes, but focus enough to get my end goal accomplished. Although my first two Camino weeks were challenging in many ways, nothing was set to prepare me for a halt… not just a halt for a few days, but the complete halt of my third Camino.

For the past fifteen years or so, my sleeping habits had taken a toll for the worse. A byproduct of a corporate traveler’s life, my hours of work were very high and my hours of sleep were low. Along with this were less than stellar eating habits; late evening dinners consisting of whatever was left in the office kitchen, in my hotel room or rented apartment, late dinners with clients, airport food and grab-and-eat moments… Exercise? mostly running from one meeting to the next or trying to catch that late flight. Years of such a lifestyle took its toll on me. When I retired, I counted more than 7 daily medication going into a very tired and out of shape body.

My goals upon retirement were three fold; First to wean myself off the too frequent medications, second to get back to an active lifestyle and third (and hopefully as the byproduct of the active lifestyle) to get to a healthier weight. Well, one byproduct of my not so healthy lifestyle of the past was the need of a CPAP machine to help me sleep… oh, and actually not die IN my sleep due to obstructed airways. I’ve been on the machine for almost 3 years, and although I’ve made progress with some of my goals (down to two meds, both low dosage) and a much more active lifestyle, I still have some way to go for a healthier weight.

Last summer, I completed my Camino and chose not to bring my heavy CPAP machine with me. I managed to make it through with less than optimal sleep, but no other consequences. This year, thinking I would do the same and I headed out without my CPAP. Compared to last year, I was in a bit stronger body taking less medications.

After walking more than 160 km (averaging 20 km per day) I woke up in the middle of the night with strong cheat pains and problems breathing. I panicked, woke up the pension owner, and grabbed a cab to the nearest hospital. Turns out, after a few tests and some resting time, that the doctors discovered my body had gotten used to the CPAP and no longer could do without, and because of the exhausting walks, my body no longer could wake itself up without putting undue stress on my heart and lungs. I needed to return home immediately to deal with this challenge.

Rest assured, I realized how lucky I was to wake up – severe sleep apnea can cause a person to simply not wake up enough to get breathing again… but I still am upset that I am at this stage. The good thing, it CAN be reversed! It really can, and the solution is simple. I didn’t say EASY, I said SIMPLE! When I get to my healthy weight, I will no longer need this CPAP machine that has allowed me deep sleep for the past 3 years. However much I appreciate what it has given me, I do not want to be slave to this machine. Therefore, my focus is SIMPLE and anchored… and I will get there by what I like to do best, WALKING!

After all, walking is what I was doing on the Camino de Santiago – – I got to Burgos from Pamplona, and now will virtually walk my way to Santiago and will focus on doing everything to get me ready to return to my Camino in late summer of 2015.
The focus is set, the tools are in place (water for swimming, treckers for walking, music for inspiration).
My feet are walking feet, and from this point on, my focus to get those feet back on the Camino!
Happy trails!