(just starting to figure out how to blog and add a picture- noticed that the quote appears to be cut off. It says, “Today I am doing nothing, because I started doing it yesterday and I wasn’t finished… and I’m no quitter)
There are a number of things I am doing to prepare for my Camino. Number one on my list is to prepare physically for walking, on average, 25km a day for 33 days. I began what I would call “conditioning” on January 8. Using the treadmill, I am alternating walking with my hiking boots on and stationary running every other day. To stay motivated, I signed up for the 30K Around the Bay road race. Unfortunately, the “cold that never ends”, which has struck many people this year, often culminating in pneumonia or bronchitis, has returned to settle in my chest yet again, after a month long visit in January. This has curtailed my long runs and I feel a certain inertia creeping in. Fortunately, the sun has returned and the temperatures are unseasonably warm, so getting outside is now an option. I have started walking outdoors with my boots and backpack on and increasing my distance. My husband refers to me as “The Runaway Bunny” (a family favourite children’s book). I have weighted my pack to contain 20lbs, which is the weight I will carry on the trip. At present, it contains a bag of cat food rejected by a finicky feline, some blankets, my rain poncho and a 5lb dumbbell. I’m hoping I will be able par down all the necessities of life that I will require for 40 days into a 20lb pack. Should be an interesting exercise. I will take a sleeping bag, but accomodations in the form of hostels and auberges are available along the well travelled route, so I will not be camping out- thankfully (my idea of camping is a 5-star hotel). Time to get off the computer now and head out for a run. Adios!
It’s difficult to say when the idea of walking the Camino de Santiago first appeared on my horizon. I do recall that I first heard about the walk about ten years ago at a “Women at their Best” evening, where guest speaker Sue Kenny shared her personal experinence of walking the thousand year old pilgrimage route through Northern Spain. Her story was the spark that lit my imagination and inspired me to follow the well worn pathway of those who have walked before me.
Now my time to walk the Camino is fast approaching. Several years ago, I determined that the walk was definitely a “Bucket List” item (something I want to do before my time on earth expires). I flippantly decideded then that I would walk it the year I turn 50. And so it was that on my First Annual 49-and-holding Birthday Celebration, I publically announced to family and friends that this is the year I will walk the Camino, DV (Deo volente- Latin for God willing). When I made the annoncement, a voice from the crowd shouted, “Why?” Good question, difficult to answer. I think responded with something like, “Because I can.” What I meant to say is because I still can, and I don’t know how long I will have this opportunity. Having been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis two years ago, I never quite know if, when or how the disease may show itself again. Thankfully, I haven’t been symptomatic since my diagnosis, though there was some permanent nerve damage after the last bout. I think I have put my MS on the shelf for a time. I recognize that it’s partially denial, but also a choice not to live my life defined by an illness, a label. And so, on April 18, 2017, I will fly to Paris and then make my way by train to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to begin my 900 km walk. However, the journey for me truly began the day I first heard the call of the Camino from a fellow pilgrim.
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. Lao Tzu
It is not uncommon to hear life referred to as a journey. I have certainly used the metaphor often. I recall a song that my siblings and I sang back in the 70’s for our grandparent’s wedding anniversary (not willingly mind you- we were conscripted to perform, my mother having delusions that we were the Dutch -Canadian equivalent of the Von Trapp Family Singers, which sadly, we were not). The song went something like this:
Go gently through the years, but go in strength. Don’t be ashamed of tears, of anger or of fears, for they’re a part of you and you’re alive. Climb montains while you may, and sing your songs. Start living every day. It won’t be long before you turn around and wonder where life’s gone.
These words have embedded themselves into the fabric of my life. Like the familiar “Carpe diem”, seize the day, I don’t want to look back on my life with regrets, but rather follow my dreams and live every day to the fullest. Not that I have been able to do that perfectly, or sometimes even well, but life is short and precious and we never know what’s coming around the corner. And so it is that I begin a new path and follow my dream to walk the 900 km Camino de Santiago. I invite you to walk with me on my journey, where ever it may lead! Come with me as I climb mountains, sing songs, get blisters, most likely get lost (probably more than once), while facing fears, anger, tears and hopefully many joy filled moments.