Adventure! Finding my Way on the Camino de Santiago

First, a tiny bit about me.  I’m sharing my story of adventure because of a post Laura wrote at the beginning of the summer – one on adventure. My last few years have been challenging.  My husband and my youngest son have developed some significant health issues.  We’ve experienced definitive life events with retirement from the military and a young adult child going off to college. Parents are aging. 

And, in my desire to care and help those most important to me, I rather lost myself.

Then, last November it hit me. I was at a milestone birthday feeling adrift in this life that was swirling all around me.

So, what did I do?

After much consideration and discussion with my family, I decided to take a bold step.  I decided to go on an adventure. I flew to Spain and walked the Camino de Santiago.

The Camino de Santiago, or the Way as it is informally known, is a series of pilgrimage routes in western Europe that lead to Santiago de Compostela, Spain which have been walked by travelers since medieval times.  The early Pilgrims walked for spiritual reasons, although modern pilgrims journey for a variety of reasons including personal, spiritual, health, physical challenge, and yes – adventure.

I trekked for 21 days starting in Saint Jean-Pied-du-Port, France and walked a total of 207 miles before making it to Santiago.

Along the way –

I took in beautiful scenery,

ate amazing food (red wine is served with every dinner!),

met incredible people from all over the world,

experienced another culture

and had time to walk, think and be in the moment. 

I did all of this despite the fact that I don’t speak French or Spanish! It was the experience of a lifetime and it is difficult to put into words how much this journey meant to me.  A year ago, the idea that I would one day do this was on my bucket list. Today I realize that this kind of an adventurous experience brings fulfillment to my life.  While I won’t have this opportunity every year,

  • I will have the chance to go visit that museum in DC that was also on my one-day list despite its close proximity, or
  • I can check out that art class that I’ve always been interested in but never seriously considered due to the demands of kids activities.
I’ve realized that leading a fulfilling life doesn’t mean you are selfish.

It means that you are taking care of yourself in a way that enables you to then have the attention and energy to take care of those around you to the best of your ability. It also means that you are being an example of living a balanced life to your family and friends. 

And while I know that life won’t always be in balance, I definitely feel life is better when we strive for it.

Why am I sharing all of this? 

Two main reasons.

The first is that after becoming a part of the PF family in August of 2016, I appreciate not only the physical strength that I have gained from the classes I’ve attended but also the encouragement and sense of community that comes from being with women who are in various stages of their lives. 

As I slowly made my way down a slippery mountain path in light rain, what popped into my head? Amanda’s voice saying, “You can do hard things.” She is right, we can all do hard things and we do them every day of our lives. Whether it is

  • challenging ourselves with that 15-pound weight,
  • jumping through all of the hoops necessary for getting a non-formulary prescription, or
  • cleaning up from our little ones “helping” us with whatever it is that we needed to get done in the next 20 minutes

We can do the “hard things” in our lives.

The second reason is because I want to encourage you to find what fills you up. 

When there are many challenges, it is easy to put ourselves last and skip this step.  And yet, self-care is necessary in order to give us what we need to carry on. It can take many forms.  For some of us, it is making the decision to and then taking that once in a lifetime adventure. For others, it might be making the time to get a pedicure with a friend or reading a book with a cup of coffee in total silence. 

What it is that fills you up will likely change depending upon what season of life you are currently in.

But, that fulfilled and balanced life is out there waiting for all of us to strive for it. And that is very good, even adventurous, news!

Buen Camino my PF friends,

Jeannine Brown

PS. If you ever decide you want to experience this particular Camino adventure, I’m happy to share more about my journey with you and encourage you along your Way!


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