On Sunday, the 28th of May, my feet touched the lush grounds of Roncesvalles, Navarre, Spain. My pilgrimage began on the enchanting and challenging “𝘍𝘳𝘦𝘯𝘤𝘩 𝘞𝘢𝘺”, leading me to the famous 𝐒𝐚𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐚𝐠𝐨 𝐝𝐞 𝐂𝐨𝐦𝐩𝐨𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐥𝐚. 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 Aragón, Navarre, La Rioja, Castile, and Leon, and Galicia, Spain.
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.
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, 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐚𝐜𝐭 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐚 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐢𝐭𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭, 𝐚 𝐩𝐚𝐜𝐭 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐦𝐲𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐟. I began my physical preparations by increasing my steps and consistently walking 4-5 times a week for a short time.
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? 𝘛𝘰 𝘳𝘦𝘮𝘦𝘮𝘣𝘦𝘳, 𝘵𝘰 𝘳𝘦𝘭𝘦𝘢𝘴𝘦, 𝘵𝘰 𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘨𝘪𝘷𝘦, 𝘵𝘰 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘤𝘲𝘶𝘢𝘪𝘯𝘵 𝘮𝘺𝘴𝘦𝘭𝘧 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘸𝘰𝘮𝘢𝘯 𝘐 𝘸𝘢𝘴, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘳𝘦𝘪𝘮𝘢𝘨𝘪𝘯𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘐 𝘺𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘯 𝘵𝘰 𝘣𝘦𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘦 in what Jane Fonda calls the ‘𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐫𝐝 𝐚𝐜𝐭’ of life.
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. 𝐀 𝐦𝐚𝐧 𝐰𝐡𝐨 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐬𝐨 𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐨𝐧𝐠, 𝐬𝐨 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐢𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐝𝐨𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐰𝐡𝐚𝐭’𝐬 𝐫𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐚 𝐫𝐨𝐜𝐤 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐟𝐚𝐦𝐢𝐥𝐲 𝐭𝐡𝐫𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐥𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐬. It was tough for him to let go and let God take over.
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.
On the first days of the Camino, I had an ‘aha’ moment; 𝐈’𝐦 𝐧𝐨 𝐥𝐨𝐧𝐠𝐞𝐫 𝐒𝐮𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐰𝐨𝐦𝐚𝐧. What a relief! I’ve played that role for decades— resulting in two different men I dated in NYC actually bought me a SuperWoman T-shirt on two separate occasions.
But now, at 65, 𝘴𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘥𝘪𝘧𝘧𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘣𝘦𝘤𝘬𝘰𝘯𝘴 𝘮𝘦. To live a life that aligns with who I truly am at this stage. And to 𝐚𝐥𝐰𝐚𝐲𝐬 𝐡𝐨𝐧𝐨𝐫 𝐦𝐲 𝐩𝐚𝐬𝐬𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐬𝐞𝐫𝐯𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐛𝐞𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐩𝐞𝐨𝐩𝐥𝐞’𝐬 𝐥𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐬 at any chance. But a different way of approaching all this is calling out to me.
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?
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 𝐰𝐞 𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐧𝐞𝐞𝐝 𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐚𝐠𝐞𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐛𝐞𝐥𝐢𝐞𝐟 𝐢𝐧 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐣𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐧𝐞𝐲𝐬. 𝗪𝐞 𝐧𝐞𝐞𝐝 𝐜𝐡𝐞𝐞𝐫𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐛𝐲 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐬𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐬.
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, 𝘭𝘦𝘵 𝘮𝘺 𝘫𝘰𝘶𝘳𝘯𝘦𝘺 𝘪𝘯𝘴𝘱𝘪𝘳𝘦 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘰𝘸𝘯. Pay attention when you’re gut is telling you to do something.
𝐋𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐧 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐡𝐢𝐬𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐡𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐭, 𝐥𝐞𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐩𝐚𝐬𝐬𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐠𝐮𝐢𝐝𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐩𝐬, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐫𝐞𝐦𝐞𝐦𝐛𝐞𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐞𝐧𝐠𝐭𝐡 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐞𝐧𝐠𝐞𝐬 𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐬𝐞. If my story moves you, do reach out and share.
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