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Camino Promise

Since I have been back from Spain I have been trying to accomplish all of the things I promised myself I would do when I got home. I knew it was time to come home when I got homesick. These are notes I made for myself while sitting on a bluff, beside the trail, on a beautiful secluded place on the Camino.

The little bit of green is all that is left of the first candle.

The little bit of green is all that is left of the first candle.

“I am thinking about cleaning the pool, replanting the vine, cutting the grass, putting black out curtains in my room, sorting the bags of clothing, adding carpet to the basement so that I can do sit ups and floor work, starting a face to face narcissist healing group, walking in the morning, BBQing a chicken, automatic blinds for my room, Chinese dividers for privacy for the meet up group, my hair, my nails, seeing the girls, seeing [….] recording my weight, fasting on Wednesday’s, my bed, movies, how to deal with 20 k tomorrow, the fact that I’m almost done, the hunger pains in my stomach, the general pain in my feet and legs, how huge I am, the people I need to contact and see when I get back, writing two more books and many more things. As you can tell my mind has been racing.”

On the next day I wrote, “I have been fantasizing about a bedtime routine. Blackout curtains, aromatic candles and my sleep music. I need to replace eating to get to sleep.”

I’ve done most of these things. I still need black out curtains. They are on my “to-do” list.

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Candle

A nighttime ritual, to luxuriate in having that much control over my surroundings, was on a list I created one day on a bluff next to the Camino. IMG_6787

I stayed in Spain until I got homesick. I went initially because, for the life of me, I couldn’t remember anything I liked about my life.

I had time off and instead of enjoying it I was doing nothing, but I digress.

That day, on the bluff I took the time to record what I wanted to do when I got home. What I wanted to change, reorganize and recognize. Buying myself a scented candle was on that list.

I bought three. It seemed to meet the purpose, somehow, of buying them. Their significance in my life has split off in multiple directions. I combined all of the wax from the first candle with the new candle and I now have approximately one.

So, one down. Two to go.

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Access 

Metaphorically, the changes to my bedroom are a reflection of the external changes I want to make.

First, I opened access. I have been working on that and there is some light coming through the doorway, but only a crack.

Leon, Spain

As of yet, I am openly announcing that I am interested in meeting men. I’ve spoken to trusted friends and co-workers, but few at arm’s length.

I also find a reluctance to try on-line dating. If he exists, someone must know him. I can’t imagine a friendly guy with no friends.

So my only active plan was to just let everybody know. Let them describe me as they know me, not a self written description in an add.

I can’t believe there aren’t better ways to co-exist. North America seems to be missing the point when it comes to getting out and enjoying ourselves.

The best times are social and we’re minimizing that time. In Spain the cities are designed so that buildings and services surround great plazas that are designed for social gatherings. They are the same places bands play and ceremonies are held. People physically meet. We have very little of that in North America.

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54

Nice day. I received all kinds of hellos from people. It is a beautiful, warm sunny day. I have the house to myself, wine and nosh and left over Birthday Cake. It was a year of self-examination, to the core of who I am and whom I want to be. It began with political failure still evident from debris lingering in the garage.IMG_6948

Limping through birthday season, and recognizing I needed a reboot. I had lost all joy in living. Here I was, in the spring of the year, with time off work and I didn’t appreciate any of it. Not even to the point of bothering to engage. I had completely involuted.

On my daughter’s advice, I headed off to do the second half of the Camino. I had done the first half for my 50th. I knew exactly where to get off. I had the pack and the boots already.

The only delay was Lilly. You know how that story turns out. I traded a month with Lilly for two weeks with Sophie, yeah, that Sophie, the basset hound. In a matter of a couple of weeks, I had her safely at Sophie’s place, the pool was covered, the lawn was set to water itself and I was off.

I’m leaving out all of the changes that existed when I got back to work. Let’s just say I came home and went back to work. Re-emerging in my old life, defeated. People didn’t know how to treat me or what to say.

Coming to terms with a dream lost. I cannot imagine a scenario where I would ever run again. But what I say to people who ask is, “I’m really bad at predicting the future.” Which is ultimately the most honest answer.

A good year all around. A solid 8. Pun intended.

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Water

I was drinking water on the balcony. It had been sitting there in a glass since earlier. It was still cool, but not cold by any means. It brought to mind a time when warm water was refreshing. Funny how perspective can change the experience of something so fundamental.IMG_2240

On the Camino in Spain there is a very long piece of Meseta. About twenty kilometres of open space with little shade and no sources of additional water. I had left early in the morning and it was late afternoon. I hadn’t seen another person for a very long time. I was down to my last 200 ml of water (less than 1 cup) and I could not see the town I was supposed to be finding. There was a building visible several kilometres to my left, but that would be further than I could walk with this much water. I started to panic.

My mouth was so dry now I was having difficulty swallowing which is a sensation I hope none of you have ever had, or will ever have. I didn’t want to drink my last bit of water. I did not know how long it needed to last. I had started to take a small gulp and hold it in my mouth. This was maximizing the wetness of my mouth without using up too much of the water.

I was so desperately thirsty it was all I could do not to swallow it all in one ecstatic gulp, but I had to make it last as long as possible. I mastered swallowing a very small amount of it while keeping the majority in my mouth. But I was awestruck by how acute the need and desire to swallow is. I guess I had always just swallowed before and hadn’t experienced it.

That water, warm as it was, remains the most refreshing water I have ever had. True story.

 

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Treadmill

The man I was talking to on the Camino was trying to decide whether it was worth the wait, or whether he would continue the walk. He stayed and I did not. He told me that he was not going to stay. He changed his mind after I walked on. He did catch up with me later, because I stopped by a very old bridge to regroup and take some photographs. We walked together all day, which included him picking me berries that he knew were edible and me finding an Albergue with a pool.IMG_0059

Again, I’m only capturing this anecdote because it flashed into my mind earlier. I’ll have to reread it all and see if there is a connection, but for now, I’m going to have another kiss and then a smoke.

One of my teachers is Martha Beck. She recommends changing something in your surroundings as a way to move through things you want in your life. Cleaning up and removing junk from your life, is the most popular example of this. I just realized the symbolism of my new treadmill. I mentioned earlier that it had to go into a new place because where the other one was was too small.

Now I realize that I’ve opened up the “guest” side of the bed. Before the new treadmill, anyone that wanted to get into the bed from the opposite side that I get in would have to climb over the treadmill. When they arrived, there was no bedside table or lamp because there simply wasn’t room for one.

Now that space is open and I think I was to get bedside tables and perhaps a vanity for that space. Doing my nails and makeup would be nicer if I had a place to sit and do them. Funny how that happened as I was thinking about the possibility of a lover.

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Native English

I got out ten Hershey’s Kisses. If that isn’t a stress response, I don’t know what is. I have only had one, so far, but I intend to eat the rest. For reasons I don’t fully understand I just had a clear memory of a conversation I had in Spain. It was notable because it was with an American teacher. This is significant because English is both of our first languages. This is often not the case with people in Spain, obviously.IMG_6701

So I was standing at a “corner” on the Camino. I had just left the city of S… something, I can’t remember, but I promise to look it up. It is significant because it is 100 km from Santiago, the destination. The minimum required to get a compostela. It means that some bureaucratic decision was made that if it took you at least a week to walk the portion of the Camino (100/7 =

I was waiting for the calculator to load and I had another Hershey’s Kiss. Very nice.

14.285714287571429, let’s say 15 km per day. So that is not a lot. Some of the seasoned walkers do 40 per day and some average walkers do 20. So a novice, that is only going to walk for 7 days could average 15. I guess they would do way more the first day and possibly the second and then have to recover from muscle soreness and blisters and then average 11 or so the remaining five days. Sounds about average.

But I digress. For reasons that I’m unaware as I was talking about something above I suddenly remembered standing at this intersection speaking to a man. Let me explain how lovely it is, when you’ve been in a foreign land, with a foreign language, to stumble upon a native English speaker. We spoke about a castle or museum that was going to open in less than an hour.

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