I should be more organised. I should have trained more. I should be packing rather than using the gasman’s presence in my home as an excuse to message friends instead. I should be slimmer, fitter and with flawless skin for the inevitable photos along the Camino. My legs are pearly white, should I pack fake tan in case the weather requires shorts? Should I rummage around for a second inhaler lest the Pyrenees wreak havoc with my lungs?
I could take a short moment instead to look out the window at this cold, damp day and think about how darn fortunate I am to be able to take six weeks out to fulfil a long held dream. Fortunate also that I have a son who I don’t need to worry about, fortunate to have a loving, supportive family watching my back, fortunate to be self-employed and able to negotiate extended leave with my fabulous boss. Fortunate to have a body that, despite its various challenges, is game enough to have a go at walking 800km. Fortunate to have my fabulous friend Exploradora coming with me to share this amazing adventure.
I tell my coaching clients that ‘should’ is an unwelcome visitor in the coaching room. So I shall be taking my own counsel and will be leaving him behind. My Camino, my Way. My Way will probably be at a moderate pace and will most likely be with straighteners in my bag (I’ll pack fewer toiletries). This middle aged, modern day pilgrim isn’t focussed on being the fastest finisher each day, the most fluent speaker of Spanish or the most authentic, ‘worthy’ pilgrim, denying all creature comforts. Besides comfortable clothing, essential toiletries, medication and a ridiculous amount of blister plasters I’m bringing with me an open mind, a feeling of immense gratitude and a sprinkling of fear and excitement.
Three days to St Jean!
“I love it when a plan comes together”
Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith, enigma from 80’s favourite “The A-Team”
Not quite as dynamic as The A-Team perhaps but this type of plan excites me. Colour coded, symmetrical, displayed on the kitchen wall and able to be ticked off smugly, appeasing the OCD demon that resides inside my head. This was my training plan for the 2015 Nijmegen Marches which entailed walking 40km per day in the Netherlands for 4 consecutive days. I had a similar plan for the 2014 London2Brighton 100km which I ultimately completed in a little over one very long, sleep deprived day. So, when I committed to trekking 800km across Spain, I imagined I’d muster up something similar. Or even more impressive. Put a transition from employment into self-employment and a number of life/parenting variables in the mix however and the ‘plan’ evolved into something like this:
- Sitting on backside talking to Exploradora (my walking buddy’s pseudonym) about the fun we’ll have on the Camino
- Sitting on backside working through lessons on my Spanish language app
- Sitting on backside searching for remaining bits of walking kit online
- Actual walking
To date, on a not so good week that has been the actual order in proportion of time taken for each activity. When you add the occasional glass of prosecco that tends to accompany the first activity it hasn’t been my healthiest plan to date.
Exploradora and I identified recently that perhaps our plan required some refinement and, since we’re starting the Camino with one heck of a trek in the Pyrenees, we thought “aha, a hill walk”. Belfast’s scenic Cavehill seemed like the obvious choice, leaving our cars outside the beautiful Belfast Castle and attempting the most challenging of the routes on offer. It had been raining for 5 days straight however so we were met with shoe sucking, walking pole engulfing mud puddles, slippy leaves and concealed tree roots to trip over. All manageable if you’re paying attention and looking out for route markers, but if you’re prone to talking excessively and getting so absorbed in conversation that you don’t recognise you’ve passed the same point twice not a great improvement on the original flawed plan. Lost on a hillside in my own hometown, socks soaked through with runny mud I shared my concerns about the Camino with Exploradora. A new plan emerged.
Show up. Continue to put one foot in front of the other. Pay attention.
See, it’s colour coded, so it’s a real plan. And I think I may get it laminated as a reminder for everyday life.
I sometimes can’t seem to find the time to pluck that thick little black hair that periodically appears just under my chin. And there’s a small bit of bird poo on my bright yellow front door which has seen a season pass that I keep meaning to address. So why on earth squeeze in time to blog? Who even has time to read it? In answer to myself, I’ve found recently that I love to write and it helps make sense of my occasionally topsy-turvy life. So if there’s no-one out there this will be my digital space to come to with a cup of chamomile and spill.
In case anyone is interested in my middle-aged musings, by way of introduction first and foremost I’m a single Mum of a wonderful soon to be man; valuable fodder no doubt for future posts. Number One Son is still a minor and as so will be encouraged in the strongest terms to subscribe to this blog, so my observations will only focus on my attempt at parenting and won’t highlight anything that would embarrass him. Except me of course. I’m also a self-employed Life & Career Coach and Training Consultant and when I’m not winging it as my own boss I love travel and long distance walking challenges. The latter will be the source of many a post over the next few months for the following reason.
Following a group walking holiday on the final section of the Camino de Santiago in 2012, this year I’ve answered the ‘niggle’ that has ensued ever since and decided to do the whole darn thing. So in six weeks, along with a great friend from University, I’m taking my currently under-prepared feet 800km from St Jean Pied de Port in the French Pyrenees westwards across the north of Spain to our ultimate destination Santiago de Compostela in the province of Galicia. I’ve looked up an online thesaurus to find a word that expresses scary and exciting in equal measure and can’t find one that fits the bill. So for now I just feel exscared.
If you’d like to follow my journey please subscribe via one of the links on the sidebar.
¡Buen Camino for now!