As you read this blog, I am on my way for a big adventure: walking portions of the Camino de Santiago in Spain.
For 10 years I’ve been saying that I was going to walk the Camino. Then earlier this year I came to the realization that I would probably never hike 500 miles and sleep in crowded albergues with other pilgrims on their journey. Once I was honest with myself, I found a great alternative to experiencing this famous pilgrimage through Road Scholar, which provides learning adventures for people over age 50.
I have several friends and colleagues who have walked the Camino. Some have walked the full 500 miles in about 30 days. Others have walked sections of it and completed the pilgrimage over the course of a couple years. And still others have done small sections or portions of “The Way,” as I will be doing. All who have made the journey say this: “Everyone has their own Camino,” no matter what distance you travel.
So why do people do it? For me, this blog pretty much sums up my reasons for embarking on this journey – especially curiosity, self-discovery and cultural experience. But who knows what I will “get” or discover? I have no expectations or specific intentions for this trip, other than to be open and present to new possibilities.
Hold On To Your Dreams
As I wrote in my last blog about “living the dream,” we all have some dreams, hopes or desires. Several people wrote to me that their dreams are on hold for now due to family or financial commitments. I totally get it. My dream to move to SoCal was probably 50 years in the making! And I finally made it! Just remember the wise words of Fleetwood Mac: Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow!
The key is to not stop dreaming. Find ways to keep your dreams present for you. I shared with one reader that I subscribe to a publication called International Living: www.internationalliving.com . I may never move and live internationally, but this publication gives me ideas about life in other parts of the world and how people have moved abroad successfully and on a budget.
But I digress…
Preparation Is The Key
Whether your dream is a short-term dream, or a long-term dream, preparation is the key.
So in order to fulfill my dream to walk portions of the Camino, I had to prepare.
While this trip is not as strenuous or rigorous as walking the full 500 miles, one must still prepare and be physically and mentally ready. So I worked with my physical therapist and a personal trainer, since I’ve had some major surgeries in the past couple years that impacted my strength and stamina. I also joined a “meetup group” for women hikers, so I could practice hiking trails that had steep elevations and rocky trails.
Meetup Group for Women Hikers
Interestingly, my meetup group for women hikers has had the most profound effect on my preparation for this trip.
My sole purpose for joining this group was to get some experience in hiking trails with elevation and rocky terrain. But what I got was a profound level of camaraderie, support and companionship that was unexpected. You see, the trail we hike each Tuesday evening has a 400+ foot elevation that goes straight up. I could not walk up to the top and talk at the same time. My colleagues who are half my age or at least 20 years younger chatter away and barely broke a sweat. I huff and puff, pause for a breath, more than once, and engage with the group only when we reach the top. They have been wonderfully supportive and it’s a non-competitive, welcoming setting. Truth be told, based on my corporate experiences, I have not seen this level of collaboration and companionship in a group setting – ever!
Interestingly, the meetup group wanted to meet for a happy hour and asked me to organize it. This is a group of women who only know each other because we hike once a week for about an hour. While there are a few “regulars,” every week different women show up. There is nothing else that bonds us. But here we are for our 1st happy hour – and we had a wait list of more than 5 others.
In my heart of hearts, I wondered if I would continue to hike with this group after my trip. I admitted this to the group and they were adamant that they wanted to hear all about the Camino and I that I had to continue hiking with this group!
So when my friends say: “Everyone has their own Camino,” I think that the experience begins when you make a commitment to explore your dreams; changes begin when you are open and explore possibilities for your life. When you make a commitment to follow that which is in your highest interest, to pursue your best self, be in alignment and harmony with your Source, doors open, people come into your life that enrich and support you in unexpected ways – just like my women from my hiking meetup group. Who knew?
So I think my Camino experience has begun before I leave the comforts of my home and I will look forward to sharing other experiences with you when I return.
As they say: Buen Camino.
Marty Stanley, CSP, is a national speaker, author and coach. She is committed to people living their dreams.
2017 Coach of the Year – Women in Business Silver Stevie Award