The Camino credential

Many of you have seen my picture holding up my Camino Credential document. Many of you have asked me to explain the how and why of this document.
A Camino credential is a document, typically distributed by pilgrim associations, albergues on the Camino or Camino tourist centers.

This document is to be stamped during the day, to show progress of your journey. It typically gets stamped at every albergue or hotel where you spend your night, at tourist locations such as museums, churches and often at local bars and restaurants. Each location have their own special stamp. For the pilgrims who chose to walk the 100 km needed to received the official Compostela document (future blog), two stamps are required per day.

This document also serves as proof that one is truly undertaking this journey. Only with the Credential can one sleep in designated pilgrim only albergues. The document itself becomes a type of journal – each stamp brings about its own set of memories.
I framed my first Camino Credential Document, however due to its size, I only show one side of the document. They other side contains just as many stamps at the visible side.

Each time I enter the room and see my credential framed on the wall, it reminds me of the wonderful experience that is the Camino!

Camino focus

063“Time flies” is an expression we often hear, and in my case, it’s not an expression, it’s a reality! I am but a mere 56 days from my departure for France where I will meet up with my French Camino friends to undertake another beautiful journey on the Camino de Santiago, or to many, the Way of St. James.

For thousands of years, pilgrims have walked the many roads that make up the Camino in hope to reach the city of Santiago in Spain. In a majestic cathedral lies what many believe are the remains of the apostle St James. Millions have undertaken this journey which originally started as a voyage of penitence and religious introspect. Today, pilgrims travel hundreds or thousands of kilometers seeking adventure, personal introspect, spiritual enlightenment or simply to discover the great countryside of Spain.

In May and June of 2011, I walked more than 500 kilometers covering the distance from Burgos to Santiago with only a backpack on my back and the wind in my hair. It was one of the most life-transforming experience I had ever been blessed to live, and once again, I set my sights on returning and living the life of a bohemian pilgrim.

This time I will have the privilege to walk the Camino with my good friends whom I met during my first Camino. Five wonderful exuberant individuals (2 brothers and a dear friend of theirs and one additional couple) along with my “bestest ever” donkey-friend Nestor will once again team up for parts of the Camino. Daniele, Jean, Nestor and I will walk the 800 km to Santiago, and the others will join us at various times during the trek.

We will begin our Camino in France, although the actual location is to be determined as Daniele and I will join Jean and donkey Nestor who will have started ahead of us. Nestor lives on a farm located some hundreds of kilometers south of our starting point. Jean will start earlier and we will connect with him on the 23rd of April.

For the next 8 weeks, my focus will continue to be a healthy lifestyle with the addition of physical training to get me ready for the daily 20-22 km walks that await me. My intentions are to blog during my journey, as I did during my first Camino. This allowed my family and friends to keep track of my adventures as well as get a sense of reassurance that all was fine.

As always, your comments are appreciated and I hope that through my writings you will get a glimpse of the magic and appeal that is the Camino de Santiago.
I close today with the ever-comforting “Buen Camino”

It’s all in me…

Everything I need to succeed in my projects is all in me. It’s in my mind, in my heart, in my soul. It’s all there – – the challenge is to align my thinking to reach those elements needed to succeed. Yesterday I went through my boxes of pictures looking for a specific set of photos to create an album for someone in my family. As I was going through my old pictures, I cam across pictures of me when I was 16 through 24, and I was amazed at how much I had changed.

Life happens; we age – everyone does. But some of us don’t always do the right thing for our health, and I am totally one of those people. My corporate lifestyle got the best of me. Continuous travel, endless work hours, late dinners and often fast quick meals… I won’t put the blame on all that, ultimately, I was the one who allowed those challenges to get the best of me. I take responsibility for that.

So after 20 years of this lifestyle, I do not look like I did when I was 16, 18 or 24. I do not move like I did when I was 16, 18 or 24. I don’t have the stamina that I had when I was 16, 18 or 24. Wrinkles are part of life, getting older is part of life, letting that change you is a choice…
What I do know, and I stand by it, is that it’s always a choice. Each day, our decisions are … choices. We can change the course of our life by making different choices. Expecting different results from the same choices – – not a good move! Trust me, I have tried…

After seeing those pictures and for a short time, wallowing in “Ah, to have that jawline again…”, “Wow, I had a nice waist”, “Sigh – to have those legs again” I heard the following words… “Dear, your waist is till there, your legs are still your legs” and it took me a while to realize the wisdom of those words… My Sweetie said the right words but I needed time to let them sink in…

He’s right – that jawline is still there… just not as visible at this point in time… that waist is still there, just not as visible at this point in time… those legs are still there, likely even stronger than when I was 16, 18 or 24 (thank you marathons, half marathons and 10k, not to mention the Camino journey).

So now, looking at that jawline of my 18 year old self, I know it’s still there; admiring those legs on my 20 year old self I know they are still there, and starring at the waist of my 16 year old self, I know it’s still there… I just need to whittle away the results of the not-so-sound 30-50 year old self who let work take over her life. I need to uncover those attributes that still are there, with a little help of hundreds of hours of exercise and hundreds of healthier meals. I just have to draw on my inner strength to continue the path I am on – to become healthier and stronger. I just have to draw on my faith that all that is needed, is right here, in me –
It’s all in me!

I now will let those pictures be a focus, a goal, a target… perhaps not ever to be an exact match but enough to make me feel I’ve reached my potential… because, it’s all in me !!
Life is grand…
PS Thanks Sweetie for those words – they meant more to me than you likely thought they would!

Applying all the learnings…

I am now almost at the end of Week 10 of my project. I’m still applying all the new knowledge and old nuggets of information I have documented, and it has become second nature to question most of my food choice to ensure I have either
– chosen the best type of food
– chosen the best cooking method when applicable
– chosen the right portions
– chosen the right mix (low carb, high veggies and lesser meat)

I’m realizing now that the web is so vast, one could lose one’s self searching simply one type of food, or cooking method or pros and cons. The Dr. Oz show was my starting point, but now I’ve expanded my searches to other links, suggestions from friends and buddies of the weight challenge group, news articles etc. Therefore, starting today, my project will be re-titled “my 20 week journey to a better me” – and this way, I’m not focusing ONLY on the Dr. Oz show, although it will continue to be a focused source of information.

My foot is still causing me some discomfort but with the care of Dr Greg, my chiropractor I have experienced good progress in managing this plantar fasciitis. I continue to use both the elliptical unit at the gym and my trusty kettlebells at home. kb fireplace

Yes, those are my kettlebells in front of my fireplace! I leverage commercials during some of my few but favorite TV shows to determine my swing durations – works great, and by the time an hour show has been viewed, I have done more than 120 kettlebell swings (of various types).

I appreciate the great links some of the readers have sent me, and I’m always open to new ideas, suggestions and insights so please, feel free to send me more! My focus will now change to be more aimed at walking; walking with and without my backpack – – The Camino is fast approaching, and depending on the weather, the walks will likely be a mix of indoor (treadmill, buildings) and outdoor options.
You will start seeing not only healthy eating, healthy exercising but also healthy outlook as I get closer to my departure date for my Camino.

As always, I wish you good choices and balance of life!
Life is grand,