From Roncesvalles to Santiago: Embracing Change on the Camino in My Third Act

On Sunday, the 28th of May, my feet touched the lush grounds of Roncesvalles, Navarre, Spain. My pilgrimage began on the enchanting and challenging “๐˜๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ๐˜ค๐˜ฉ ๐˜ž๐˜ข๐˜บ”, leading me to the famous ๐’๐š๐ง๐ญ๐ข๐š๐ ๐จ ๐๐ž ๐‚๐จ๐ฆ๐ฉ๐จ๐ฌ๐ญ๐ž๐ฅ๐š. Awaiting me, there would have been more than just a certificate; it was a symbol of a journey spanning 828 kilometers (a walk of 500 miles) through the hills, mountains, and plains of Aragรณn, Navarre, La Rioja, Castile, and Leon, and Galicia, Spain.โฃโฃโฃ
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For nearly five years, the dream of this pilgrimage has always been persistent in the back of my mind. But life, with its responsibilities, kept me from finally committing for several years.โฃโฃโฃ
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At the end of 2022, I hired a company that organized my accommodations and luggage transfers for the 5 weeks it would take me to reach my goal. More than logistics, ๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ฌ ๐š๐œ๐ญ ๐ฐ๐š๐ฌ ๐š ๐œ๐จ๐ฆ๐ฆ๐ข๐ญ๐ฆ๐ž๐ง๐ญ, ๐š ๐ฉ๐š๐œ๐ญ ๐ฐ๐ข๐ญ๐ก ๐ฆ๐ฒ๐ฌ๐ž๐ฅ๐Ÿ. I began my physical preparations by increasing my steps and consistently walking 4-5 times a week for a short time.โฃโฃโฃ
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I felt a variety of emotions: excitement, anticipation, and a bit of nervousness. I chose to walk alone so I had time to reflect on my past 40 years. My intentions? ๐˜›๐˜ฐ ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฃ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ, ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ญ๐˜ฆ๐˜ข๐˜ด๐˜ฆ, ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ ๐˜ง๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ๐˜จ๐˜ช๐˜ท๐˜ฆ, ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ข๐˜ค๐˜ฒ๐˜ถ๐˜ข๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ต ๐˜ฎ๐˜บ๐˜ด๐˜ฆ๐˜ญ๐˜ง ๐˜ธ๐˜ช๐˜ต๐˜ฉ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ธ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฎ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ ๐˜ ๐˜ธ๐˜ข๐˜ด, ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ช๐˜ฎ๐˜ข๐˜จ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ ๐˜บ๐˜ฆ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ฏ ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ ๐˜ฃ๐˜ฆ๐˜ค๐˜ฐ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ in what Jane Fonda calls the ‘๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ซ๐ ๐š๐œ๐ญ’ of life.โฃโฃโฃ
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Yet, when Spain’s embrace finally greeted me 8 months later, I felt unprepared, my heart and body out of sync. Life’s unpredictable circumstances kept me off balance for most of my year up to this point. My father’s sudden illness and transition in January was particularly challenging. Those weeks were a bittersweet mix of ensuring his comfort and cherishing moments of shared laughter and profound conversations. And me practicing being patient and making space for his transition. ๐€ ๐ฆ๐š๐ง ๐ฐ๐ก๐จ ๐ฐ๐š๐ฌ ๐ฌ๐จ ๐ฌ๐ญ๐ซ๐จ๐ง๐ , ๐ฌ๐จ ๐œ๐จ๐ฆ๐ฆ๐ข๐ญ๐ญ๐ž๐ ๐ญ๐จ ๐๐จ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ฐ๐ก๐š๐ญ’๐ฌ ๐ซ๐ข๐ ๐ก๐ญ, ๐š๐ง๐ ๐š ๐ซ๐จ๐œ๐ค ๐Ÿ๐จ๐ซ ๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ ๐Ÿ๐š๐ฆ๐ข๐ฅ๐ฒ ๐ญ๐ก๐ซ๐จ๐ฎ๐ ๐ก ๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ ๐ฅ๐ข๐ฏ๐ž๐ฌ. It was tough for him to let go and let God take over.โฃโฃโฃ
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Life’s lessons often reveal themselves in intricate patterns, making us realize the changes we witness as our parents get older – how our pillars of strength, our parents, gracefully transform, requiring our embrace and care in their twilight years.โฃโฃโฃ
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On the first days of the Camino, I had an ‘aha’ moment; ๐ˆ’๐ฆ ๐ง๐จ ๐ฅ๐จ๐ง๐ ๐ž๐ซ ๐’๐ฎ๐ฉ๐ž๐ซ๐ฐ๐จ๐ฆ๐š๐ง. What a relief! I’ve played that role for decadesโ€” resulting in two different men I dated in NYC actually bought me a SuperWoman T-shirt on two separate occasions.โฃโฃโฃ
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But now, at 65, ๐˜ด๐˜ฐ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜ฅ๐˜ช๐˜ง๐˜ง๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ๐˜ต ๐˜ฃ๐˜ฆ๐˜ค๐˜ฌ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜ด ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ. To live a life that aligns with who I truly am at this stage. And to ๐š๐ฅ๐ฐ๐š๐ฒ๐ฌ ๐ก๐จ๐ง๐จ๐ซ ๐ฆ๐ฒ ๐ฉ๐š๐ฌ๐ฌ๐ข๐จ๐ง ๐Ÿ๐จ๐ซ ๐ฌ๐ž๐ซ๐ฏ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐š๐ง๐ ๐›๐ž๐ญ๐ญ๐ž๐ซ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ฉ๐ž๐จ๐ฉ๐ฅ๐ž’๐ฌ ๐ฅ๐ข๐ฏ๐ž๐ฌ at any chance. But a different way of approaching all this is calling out to me.โฃโฃโฃ
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I didn’t tell many people about walking the Camino because it triggered my fears when people told me I was crazy. Or why on earth was I doing this?โฃโฃโฃ
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However, my family was super supportive, even though I know a few of them were worried. But they empowered my choices and stood by me. This reminded me that ๐ฐ๐ž ๐š๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐ง๐ž๐ž๐ ๐ž๐ง๐œ๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ๐š๐ ๐ž๐ฆ๐ž๐ง๐ญ ๐š๐ง๐ ๐›๐ž๐ฅ๐ข๐ž๐Ÿ ๐ข๐ง ๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ ๐ฃ๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ๐ง๐ž๐ฒ๐ฌ. ๐—ช๐ž ๐ง๐ž๐ž๐ ๐œ๐ก๐ž๐ž๐ซ๐ฅ๐ž๐š๐๐ž๐ซ๐ฌ ๐›๐ฒ ๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ ๐ฌ๐ข๐๐ž๐ฌ.โฃ
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In next week’s article, I’ll share more about my Camino experiences, gathered wisdom, and the choices and challenges I faced when I had to come home early. For now, ๐˜ญ๐˜ฆ๐˜ต ๐˜ฎ๐˜บ ๐˜ซ๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ๐˜ณ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ๐˜บ ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ด๐˜ฑ๐˜ช๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ ๐˜บ๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ๐˜ณ ๐˜ฐ๐˜ธ๐˜ฏ. Pay attention when you’re gut is telling you to do something.โฃโฃโฃ
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๐‹๐ข๐ฌ๐ญ๐ž๐ง ๐ญ๐จ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ฐ๐ก๐ข๐ฌ๐ฉ๐ž๐ซ๐ฌ ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ ๐ก๐ž๐š๐ซ๐ญ, ๐ฅ๐ž๐ญ ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ ๐ฉ๐š๐ฌ๐ฌ๐ข๐จ๐ง๐ฌ ๐ ๐ฎ๐ข๐๐ž ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ ๐ฌ๐ญ๐ž๐ฉ๐ฌ, ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ซ๐ž๐ฆ๐ž๐ฆ๐›๐ž๐ซ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ฌ๐ญ๐ซ๐ž๐ง๐ ๐ญ๐ก ๐ฐ๐ข๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ง ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ ๐ฐ๐ก๐ž๐ง ๐œ๐ก๐š๐ฅ๐ฅ๐ž๐ง๐ ๐ž๐ฌ ๐š๐ซ๐ข๐ฌ๐ž. If my story moves you, do reach out and share.

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