Guest blog – Sister Clare #2

I’m handing the blog over to Sister Clare today –

I need some time to finish my book, (hopefully I will finish it today, or at least this first draft), and I have these further medical tests later today as well.

I have told her she can post any topic she wishes…

So thank you Sister Clare –

Cross

99 thoughts on “Guest blog – Sister Clare #2

  1. Thanks Bill

    I hope the tests have a good outcome, in fact I will be praying for you to be given the all clear.

    Thanks Sister Clare for looking after the blog.

    Looking forward to your return, in good health, Bill. I will also pray for divine inspiration in your writing.

    All the best
    Eileen

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    • Dear Eileen,

      thank you!

      I’m not really looking forward to these tests. Evidently they stick needles into your muscles and put electrical currents through the needles. to check your nerve conductivity.

      Doesn’t sound like much fun!

      Bill

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    • Pilgrims are so generous in sharing their Camino experiences, from packing lists, to moments of insight and emotion. It means so much to people like me, still waiting to walk their first Camino. And as this blog attests, the Camino stays with you long after you leave it. Id like to know more about all of you, and that includes lurkers, too. Now that you are home, which of your Camino memories do you especially like to think of when you are missing it? Which brings you most comfort? Is it a special person you met while walking? A particular place, or something unexpected that happened to you? If you had to choose just one memory to best explain the Camino to someone who has never been there, what would it be?

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      • Sister and Arlene, as I have mentioned before, I have the same questions about managing minor disabilities (including an aortic aneurysm that is currently stable) on the Camino and also questions about safety when walking as a lone female. Yet, those are two of the very reasons I want to do it! I am tired of doctors saying I can’t do this or that. Intuitively, I feel if I walk every day deliberately, if not intensely, I can heal some parts of me. As far as the safety issue, I think if I do this alone, I will feel braver and more confident for the rest of my life’s journey. I also look forward to meeting new people and sharing the journey with them.

        As for finding God, I hope to attend mass almost daily and as Arlene said, I feel a kinship even now with those who have walked nearly the same path for a millennium. Living minimally in a super-sized world is also a draw.

        Part of my “planning” is getting my mind and ego balanced as best as I can beforehand. In studying other pilgrims’ experiences, one thing I have finally given myself permission for is to have plans A, B, C, D, and maybe ever E in my mind and not berate myself for taking advantage of them (cabs, hotels, days of rest) if I need to.

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        • Julie,
          YES YOU CAN!!!!! Just take it at your own pace. Stop when you need to rest and walk when you feel energized. And yes, taxis and buses and trains are all okay, I would not hesitate myself.

          The climb up the Pyrenees from St. Jean Pied de Port to Roncesvalles is quite steep, you might just want to begin in Roncesvalles. I climbed it last year and this year I will be starting from Logrono, no need to climb the Pyrenees again for me. I have not looked into the Portugues Route, but am looking at the Norte for 2014.

          I walked last year in September and October. The weather was perfect! Only one day was hot in the beginning of September and I didn’t have one single day of rain; I was blessed with perfect weather. I am walking again in September and October this year. I think the fall is the perfect time but would consider the Spring also.

          As far as synthetics, I hate them also; get yourself SmartWool. I have tee shirts, long johns tops and bottoms, socks and believe it or not Merino wool undies (Icebreaker brand). Merino wool is insulating as well as lightweight, it has the benefit of being wicking and it is known for not holding odor.

          Bring a book for the flights or some knitting, but you really should try to sleep. I know it’s hard, I start out at 6 am from Tucson AZ and finally arrive in Madrid at 10 am the next morning, then I have to make my way to Logrono by another flight. I will try to sleep on the flight, but who knows. I’ll have a paperback book with me just in case.

          Good luck with your planning, it truly is all part of your Camino.

          Arlene

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        • You’re so right, Julie, but I have to ask myself :can I give myself permission to be flexible?And, taking days off,sleeping in hotels for my sleep disorder, is going to eat through the little money I have. I admire your approach-I just don’t know if I can be that relaxed.But I would like to be! Part of its my own fault for not taking any time off in the past twenty years.

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        • Julie,

          I am taking a little different approach than most, I think. We have all heard of folks walking the Camino with all kinds of ailments and injuries, but an aortic aneurism, as you must know, is nothing to mess with. Please be sure you discuss this completely with your doctor and know all of the potential ramifications. Every male member of my mother’s family died of ruptured aortic aneurisms and the deaths were swift. To my understanding, they don’t just leak, they rupture and there is not much can be done unless you might be in the hospital at the time, and then it is not likely. They were all years younger than I am so I make sure that I keep it checked, and so far so good. The Camino is strenuous, and particularly in the first couple of weeks it is normal to get winded and feel your heart pumping harder. I know you don’t want to be tied down to such a malady all of your life, but I don’t think that is one you can just will yourself through. But, I may be wrong and certainly don’t want to dissuade you from following your heart, only suggesting you follow your doctor to some degree also. Just get the facts if you have not already.

          I have seen several questions by others about the safety of a lone female. My belief is that it is completely safe and I encountered many lone females along the Camino. Spain appears to be very protective of the image of safety along the Camino. I would not give that any concern.

          As far as plans A, B, C, D, and E, probably none of them will make sense once you get on the Camino. You will rapidly figure out what you can and can not do and what feels right to you. I would suggest going with an open heart and an open mind and no real expectation as to what it will be like and you will be just fine. An occasional cab (I took one once) or hotel (I stayed in several) or rest days, short days, sleeping in albergues, making reservations ahead or just taking your chances, are all just fine. There is no right way for you to do your Camino. And, it is yor Camino. Some would advise against any of the foregoing, but what they needed for their Camino should not influence what you will determine you need for yours. And please don’t ever let the fear of what someone else might think have any influence on your doing what you think is best for you or simply what you want to.

          Steve

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      • Thanks, Sister Clare, that (as your previous blog) is spot on! Haven’t had time to give it a lot of thought, but my instant reaction would be: the connection I had, instantaneously, with people on The Way and even more so, now that I’m back home, with people I meet who are yet to walk their Way. There’s an instant warmth and connection just knowing that they’re yet to learn what I learnt and hoping that their journey will be as life giving as mine! I guess, in a sense, I’m impatient for them (including you!) to get out there, walking … Haven’t had time either to check out other replies, but am definitely looking forward to being home tonight, with a glass of red within reach and reading all – and taking it all in!!

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        • Its the mark of a truly generous heart to want for others the same pleasures and experiences you have had. What a pleasure to read it that was!Tell me, were you as anxious before your Camino as we are? I’ve always been a world class worrier (Steve has no idea what he’s up against.)
          Your question:In the mid 80’s I found myself suddenly abandoned and penniless 11 miles outside a town I knew nothing about. They repo’d the car and I had two small children to feed. I discovered that local farmers usually killed inferior kids and piglets at birth-so I saved some and raised them on feed corn that had spilled on the nearby railroad tracks. In time I was managing my own small self sufficient organic farm-so that’s how I learned about livestock,including those goats.

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          • Sister, I repeat. I would love to read your autobiography. Notwithstanding your denials, you have shared enough to guarantee it would be interesting. Steve

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      • Hi Sister Clare and all my PGS siblings … great question Sister Clare!
        The Camino memory which brings me the most comfort is the memory of touching as many yellow way markers as I possibly could. I made it into a small ritual – the act of briefly touching a way marker, which possibly could have been touched by innumerable pilgrims before me, was a connection with people who I will never meet, but connected we all are by the simple act of placing of hand on stone.
        Next year, when I return to the Camino as an Hospitalera, I will be renewing my acquaintance with some of those way markers … ‘CAN’T WAIT !
        I highly recommend that everyone includes this ritual in their future Caminos. Cheers – Jenny

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        • I realy like that idea! And I will make a point myself of touching the way-marks. Its a wonderful way to honour the continuity of place and time on the Camino.

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        • Dear Jenny,

          What a great thing to do!

          As I was walking, it occurred to me that I’d like to one day come back and photograph absolutely every single yellow arrow. Every one of them. That would be cool, too!

          Bill

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          • Thanks Sister Clare and Bill –
            A way marker coffee table style book would be so cool! Any ideas for a working title? I’ve got one … a poor effort on short notice but here it is “The Way (To Go)! … The Official Camino Way Marker Book” … Cheers and hi to everyone – Jenny

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  2. Bill,

    Thanks for all that you have shared.

    I am new to this forum. I plan to undertake the Camino starting from Geneva June 2014.

    Long distances have never daunted me however as a consequence of your blog I thought it circumspect to have my knee checked out as I have had pain for the last 6months. ( too many ultras)

    Two days ago I had needles poked in and electricity charges, and whilst it was not fun, was worth the effort.

    My thoughts are with you and thanks for sharing your spirit, warmth and observations.

    Phil – Northern Territory.

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    • I AM SERIOUSLY UNDERWHELMED,HERE.
      Come on,family.. I know there are times at night when you’re lost in memories of your Camino.Or stuck in chaos and noise and missing the silence that was only interrupted by the sound of your own footsteps.
      TRY THIS:
      When you got home, deboarded your flight, first saw your True Love again, what was the first thing you told him,/her about your journey on the Camino?And for those who haven’t walked it yet, but are planning your trip,what are you most anxious about?

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      • I am hoping to walk the Camino in Sept-Oct next year. I am worried about many things. Am I going to have the money? Where am I going to get the clothes and things I need? Who will take over my responsibilities while I’m gone?
        But I am most worried about whether I’ll be able to do the walking. I have some disabilities that are going to make walking that far very difficult. If I can’t make it from one stop to the next, can I pitch a tent under a tree somewhere? Am I going to be able to carry the pack AND a tent? What if I overcome all the problems and then have to turn around and come home because I just couldn’t do it?

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        • Sister, Bill said he knew he could always sleep under a tree if necessary. That would have been a little more difficult on my Camino as I would have either drowned or frozen. ๐Ÿ™‚ But, there are places to stay almost every 3 or 4 kilometers most of the way. Occasionally, there will be a barren stretch for 8 or 10 kilometers, but not often. As far as being able to walk with a tent, that is not necessary for the reasons stated above, and from what I have heard from you, you do not need the extra weight. I would have hated to have the extra weight myself. So, in my opinion, this is not something you should be worrying about.

          And, BTW, my reference to worrying about not worrying was tongue in cheek as Bill says. ๐Ÿ™‚ I really don’t worry much about anything in my life and I don’t have much expectation, because I have learned that I can not control much in my life, so why get all caught up in worrying about what is not likely to happen any way. That is not to say I don’t wish I had more control, but I have learned that I don’t. We never worry about the best potential outcome, only the worst, and it seldom comes to pass. I used to worry about whether I would have enough money to carry me through the next 30 years until I realized I have enough to take me through several of them and lots of good things can happen along the way to take care of the rest of them should I be so lucky as to live so long, or, I could have an untimely death tomorrow and all that worry was for naught. I live with anticipation, but not expectation other than the mundane. I registered my car today for another year, so yes, I expect to be around and using it, but again, no guarantee. Steve

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      • Hey Sister, you finally drew me out. To me, like i have said before, it has always been about the people. Though I tend to be a loner and walked alone most of the time i felt everyone on the Camino was a soulmate. That was not restricted to people I interacted with but included everyone walking the Camino. We shared a common goal, we shared the weather, we shared sore feet, knees, hips, backs, we shared pilgrim menues, we shared lodgings, we shared baths, and we shared putting one foot in front of the other thousands of times. We were pilgrims. I miss that camaraderie much more than I thought I would. Those of us who walked have all sorts of memories. Mine are all good. Steve

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      • I know we don’t usually talk about what to take and whatever here…but what are your feelings about iPods or other forms of music/ebooks, etc. I don’t ask for packing purposes, but rather about spiritual purposes. For those of you who have walked, did you walk with these things or did you find walking with only yourself and other pilgrims for company good enough for you? I want to get a mini-iPad to take for internet access and blogging, but may intentionally not load books.

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        • hi Julie –

          I took an iPod thinking I would use it all the time. I filled it up with 16GB of songs and audiobooks.

          Never took it out of the pack. It was far more interesting to hear the natural sounds around me, but more importantly to allow my thoughts to bubble through.

          For me, when I listen to music or books as I walk, it stomps on my thoughts. And I wanted to use the Camino to allow my thoughts space and freedom to exert themselves on me – which they did!

          Bill

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          • Bill/Julie, I took an iPad Mini and an iPhone and I am glad that I did. I used the mini for blogging and the iPhone for photography. I took a point and shoot camera but it did not work. I have never downloaded music into either device and not sure I even know how. I did, however, learn to download books into my iPad right before I left and did download a couple of books along the way because I found that I liked reading right before lights out each evening. They added no weight. It was relaxing after taxing my mind with my blog and reading comments and responding on my blog and Bill’s blog. When I get back to walking here along the country roads, I am going to download audio books as that will make it less boring and more enjoyable. I did get bored walking for practice. I never did anything to take my mind away from the Camino as I walked
            But, bottom line, do what feels right to you. I saw plenty of pilgrims with earbuds in their ears so they were listening to something. Must have been right for them. I think Jill listened to music some along the way which she believed lightened her step. Probably did.

            Steve

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        • I’ve been thinking about taking some music, although I prefer the sounds of the world around me, it could be helpful if I get stuck near a noisy group.If I take any books, it will have to be on my Kindle. There’s no way I could manage the extra weight. And since there are 3500 volumes on it, I wouldn’t be bored. It has the plus of wifi too, for emergency emails.

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          • Sister, I never got stuck with a noisy group. Maybe in the Bar every now and then but that is expected, so I jumped right in. But when walking, never on my Camino. Sure I passed a few noisy people or they me, but that was a brief encounter. Definitely Kindle. No use for the weight of books, and with your tent and all. No, no. ๐Ÿ™‚

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          • You’ve made some great comments today, Steve. I know everyone you responded to feels the richer for it.And I was touched the way you reached out to me.That’s why we miss you so much when you’re not here!

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          • Thanks Sister. I try to be the pragmatic one in the crowd. No offense to anyone. I just come from a different perspective. Pragmatic or not, my comments are offered with love and sincerity. Steve

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      • Sister……I think your worries are perfectly natural.
        I like to think of turning the word worry into …planning for success. It like…..having a worry…allows me to find a solution. As a former event planner it comes naturally….I like to know that I have a plan B…C and D already lined up should everything go wrong.

        One of my worries was not finding a bed. So I got a pack liner that is big enough that I can climb into it and sleep outside…should I decide that I just want to stop.

        I understand your concern about not making it. I think almost every Pilgram has that niggling away inside of them. That’s why I developed my saying of “Im just going to be walking up the road a bit…..and I will walk until I stop.” Just that little saying has taken a lot if pressure off me.

        I find given time…every anxiety has a counter solution….you just have to think it through.

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    • Steve, I am never going to be able to think of you as anonymous! I was wondering, you have mentioned how much you enjoyed the people you encountered on the Camino. Like me, you were more of a loner for a long time. Now that you’re home, do you find you’re feeling lonely more than before? Have you found any ways to reclaim that feeling of camaraderie? Are there other people near you that have walked the Camino, or do you stay in touch with friends you met along the Way? How do you manage the contrast between that warmth and shared purpose, and the environment at home?

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      • Sister, I find myself lonely and no, I have not found that same sense of camaraderie back home. On the Camino, everyone had left home behind and were focused on the Camino, it’s pains and it’s rewards. Back home, everyone is still focusing on the details of day to day living, not to mention their concerns and worries about tomorrow. I don’t think the commonality of the Camino can be replicated in every day life. I do stay in touch occasionally with a few folks that I encountered along the way, and that is always fun. The Texas chapter of Camino pilgrims is having a happy hour on the 30th in Houston, and I will be there. I attended one prior to my departure. I think they get together once a quarter and it is for those who have walked, those who are going to, and those who are just interested and curious. But the nice thing is that everyone is of one mind for that brief period. My friends enjoyed reading my blog but that is mostly behind us and life moves on. ( I thought I replied to this yesterday, but apparently not.)
        Steve

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        • Steve, I think I know how you feel. I felt like that when I came home from Africa, because my experience there completely changed my world view. Even under the worst hardship,the Africans still found joy, and expressed it so openly. The way they treated their disabled was so accepting that it overflowed and gave everyone a sense of place and community.When I came home, my world seemed cold and grey in comparison, and the only people I felt at home with were others who had been to Africa-and they were few and far between. I felt deeply lonely and out of place. I’m so glad you have a group of pilgrims to meet with.At least you can reclaim that sense of camaraderie for a brief time. It was years before I felt at home in my own skin again!

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  3. Hi family and Sister,
    One of the things that keeps bringing me back to the Camino is the peacefulness that I remember from last years Camino. I walked alone most of the time, but was never alone for God walked alongside me every step of the Way.

    I loved the freedom that the Camino gave me. I was free from schedules, responsibilities and the worries of other’s perceptions. I was alone with my thoughts. The Camino for me was a fabulous chance to reconnect with Arlene and with my faith. And the Camino taught me many, many things.

    I am returning in September and know there are many more lessons to learn.

    Arlene

    And just as an after thought, the fact that the Camino is and has been walked by so many other pilgrims through the ages gives it a special reverence for me.

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    • Hi Arlene! You are very blessed to be able to go back again this year. I hope you find the things you are seeking. You say that you felt the Presence of God more closely while on your Camino. Has that sense of His closeness stayed with you?

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      • Oh, yes Sister!
        His Presence and the closeness I experienced on Camino is with me every day. I am very grateful for this blessing.

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        • I am so happy to hear you say that! In your experience, did most pilgrims you spoke to ,feel God beside them, as you did, and continue to,?Was it something you had especially been seeking, or did it just happen while you were there?

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          • I was seeking to become closer with our Lord and my prayers were answered.

            It did not appear to me that the pilgrims I spoke with experienced the same feelings as I. But, Sister, I stayed in hotels not albergues so my exposure to other pilgrims was somewhat restricted to while walking, and like I said, mostly I walked alone.

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          • Arlene, and anyone who would like to speak to this, do you think the deliberate purpose of pilgrimage being to find that experience of God , is still an important motivation for todays pilgrims?

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          • For me that is exactly what pilgrimage is about. But I am not so sure about what motivates others to walk the Camino.

            I do have a friend, a young lady who walked the same time as I did, for her the Camino took on the same purpose as it did for me. She and I met on the Forum and are still friends today even though we live on opposite sides of the country.

            I have several other friends, in fact one I will be starting out with this year, who right from the outset were very clear in stating they are not religious and are not walking the Camino for spiritual reasons.

            I believe each of us has our own specific reason for walking the Way. Maybe others are not so willing to share their true purpose with others, or maybe they have been called and really don’t yet know exactly why. I truly would like to hope that those who don’t know or don’t want to share can and did experience the same closeness I felt with God.

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          • Id have to say that I haven’t heard many pilgrims say that they felt no connection to God, the Universe, the spirit of the Camino, while they were walking. You have to ask what other inspiration would keep you walking all that way through pain and bad weather, if not some kind of spiritual connection, even if it wasn’t your original reason for going. I guess there are those who walk for the sport of it, but I don’t hear from many. And I’m sure some people leave with a purpose in mind, and find they have developed spiritually while walking even if it wasn’t their intention.

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          • A QUESTION FOR FEMALE PILGRIMS:
            Did you feel safe walking the Camino? Is it true that the Camino is a “virtuous” place, or were passes being made at women along the Way,?

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          • I felt completely safe. But then again, I am no Spring Chicken. Every male I spoke with was extremely courteous, respectful and helpful. Although it is possible the younger “girls” may have had different experiences.

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      • I wouldn’t call myself a spring chicken either, but I still see women my age being approached.Maybe there is something in all that history that makes pilgrims more respectful of one another.

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  4. I’m a pre-Camino, planning on spring or fall 2014. SJPdP to Burgos or maybe Camino Portugues Porto to Santiago de Compostela (if you experienced folks think that it is appropriate for a Camino first timer). Anxious? It is far enough in the future that my anxieties are about silly things. Like will I find enough to do that I don’t get completely bored out of my gourd on the long flights? Will I be able to pack enough knitting projects to keep busy without weighing my self down? Will I get heat rash from wearing synthetics (I HATE synthetics – my body rebels mightily) Will i get used to wearing ExOfficio nylon (my body reeeeallly hates nylon and I get heat rash just thinking about it) underpants after wearing nothing but 100% cotton grannie panties for the past half century? Will the weather be humid? (I haven’t looked yet) I hate humidity almost as much as wearing synthetics!!

    Or some of the more rational anxieties…will I spend so much time taking thousands of photos per day that I’ll have to sleep in a door way somewhere. Shall I bring 3 extra pairs of back up contact lenses in case I tear 2? They’re light!

    (for Bill, kitkatknit = Great Dane on the forums)

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    • I have wondered about the contacts also, Kitkatknit. I plan to take extra, but also figured I would have an emergency kit here at home (US) with things in it I might need (meds, contacts) so they are easy for my family to locate.The likelihood of needing those things is minor but the peace of mind would be high. If I have to pay for overnight shipping, so be it. See my note above re: Plans A, B, C, D, and E. ha ha ha ๐Ÿ˜‰

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    • What a relief! I thought I was the only one dreading synthetics, especially in the granny -panty department. I’ve thought of fly a damp pair of cottons off my pack like a flag while I’m walking, but what if it rains?

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      • When I suitcase travel I always pack my favorites. So my grannie panty pack flags would be very colorful! Current favorites are orange with polka dots. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Ok if we need to get these replies back on track go ahead! p.s. Sister SC, I found a poly cotton blend shirt that didn’t give me the heebie jeebies to wear. It’s by ExOfficio and polyester part is made partially with coffee grounds. I’ve worn them to work when it’s over 100ยฐC and they felt OK. (they’re supposed to be wicking and quick dry)

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        • The shirt sounds promising, but do they make coffee ground underwear?

          As for staying on topic tonight topic is whatever you want to talk about!

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    • What a relief! I thought I was the only one dreading synthetics, especially in the granny -panty department. I’ve thought of flying a damp pair of cottons off my pack like a flag while I’m walking, but what if it rains?And how much does all the rash cream weigh? I’m never going to make my 5.5 as it is!

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    • Hi, Shall I call you KKK? I donโ€™t know that you need to be anxious at all about silly things or monumental things. One of the best things I did was approach it without much if any expectation. I frankly, did not know what to expect. But a couple of comments about the specific concerns you raised. You will be bored on the long flight. Period. But having a book along would help that. My return flight had a monitor on the seat back in front of me and I think I had my choice of about 40 movies. That might help if you are so lucky. I donโ€™t know about knitting projects. When everyone is cutting out grams or ounces of weight, adding to the weight for something that is not essential to your Camino might be detrimental. But, then again, perhaps knitting is essential to your Camino. Bill blogged about one man who carried a coffee maker with him because he wanted his own coffee. I would not do that, but who am I to judge. Since I was blogging all the way, I took both an iPhone and an iPad Mini. Some would say that was excessive. They added some weight but enabled me to do something that I found to be very instrumental to my Camino. I also downloaded some books into the iPad and found it was relaxing to read a few minutes before lights out at night. No added weight. I have no comment on the synthetics except try them before hand and if your body rebels, donโ€™t take them. Any irritation at home will be magnified on the Camino. I have not walked in the fall. This past Spring was wet and cold and humid. I think Galicia is humid most of the time. But that is just like rain, or in my case snow, it will be whatever it is and you just keep walking. Take the backup contacts if they make you feel more secure. By the time your Camino comes around, you will have all of this sorted out and what you donโ€™t will sort itself out in your first week or so. Have a great Camino and stay tuned to this site. Lots of knowledge and support here. Steve

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  5. Ladies,

    No need for synthetics – look into Merino wool items. I have shirts, long johns, socks and even undies. SmartWool and Icelandic are two brands that I use. They are lightweight, wicking, quick drying and are known for not holding odor. They cost a bit more than synthetics but are far superior.

    Arlene

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      • I made the switch from cotton undie to synthetic a few years back and love them. To me they are much more comfortable, don’t hold moisture next to the skin, my clothes seem to lay better and panty lines are less obvious. That said don’t ask me to give up cotton towels or sheets.

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  6. Sister, I have not yet walked the Camino, but I can share what I hope to experience:

    *simplicity-life seems crazy busy, I feel I need to pare things down. The rhythm of walking, finding a place to sleep and eat
    *time to reflect-again, lots of demands. I am looking forward to space for myself and days without time constraints
    *communion with God, to deepen that friendship
    *time to rejoice, time to grieve
    *a connection with the history of the camino and its pilgrims throughout the ages
    *visiting churches. I love the spirit of worship that infuses the walls of ancient churches. I also want to visit the Monastery of Santo Domingo de Silos to experience the monks’ singing. Some music penetrates deep into the soul
    *to meet other pilgrims and the people who live along the path

    I have no idea what will happen!

    Debra

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    • It sounds like you have a good set of expectations, all valid, all important to you, and all achieveable. The only thing I would suggest is be prepared for some of those plans to take precedence as your walk develops. To have an oasis of time stretching out before us is an exciting gift and a real luxury! Don’t be surprised, either, if the grief wants to come to the forefront for a while. It may demand healing, expression and ultimately, resolution. But even if it rushes out of you with great strength, it won’t spoil your Camino.The sense of grief coming to peace is very joyful,and may require a day or so off to rest before you get back on your Way.

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      • Sister, thank you for your kind a thoughtful response. I am truly open to whatever the Camino may bring my way, and am so thankful for this opportunity. I can hardly believe it is true, I am really going!
        The only thing is, I have had literally no time to “train”. My life is pretty active with lots of physical exertion, so that is going to have to suffice. Just planning to take it slow and listen to the body. I haven’t even really worked on the packing yet! I have 2 Macabi skirts which will constitute my main wardrobe pieces. Has anyone walked in them?
        Debra

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        • Hello Debra! Over on the Caminoforum, Ivar’s huge forum, one of the Annies walked in a macabi skirt and loved it. I want to go that way myself, actually, because I could easily make the Macabi skirt take the place of my summer habit skirt, which is not easily washable. Try that forum under one of their equipment threads.

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  7. Sister Clare, Bill and all those reading this blog. Once again I am amazed at the wisdom and insight we share with each other from our experiences of the Camino. I walked the Camino Frances staring on 15 May 2013 in St Jean and ending in Santiago on 25 June 2013. My walk took me 40 days of walking plus 2 rest days. Since my return home to Johannesburg South Africa, to my husband, my son aged 9 and my daughter aged 13, I’m finding that I daily need to make a conscientiousness effort to take my mind back to my Camino before it gets lost amidst the ordinary routine busyness of every day life, thanks to this blog I am able to do that. I may not respond to every question posed to us or every thought that comes from your memories Bill, but they do take me back and challenge me to think about what the Camino was like for me.
    For me the Camino was like a Santa Sack of surprises each and every day. The weather for a start, I started my walk in pouring rain, which turned to snow by day 2 and was a mixture of this as well as cold and cloudy for the first 3 weeks. The places I walked, the things I saw and the people I met. As I think about it now it was fun to look forward to the surprise of my destination – What will the village look like? What is it’s history? Where will I sleep? What will I eat? Who will I meet? The villages each had their own character, shape and layout steeped in history – fascinating to be going back hundreds of years. The people who I shared a bunk bed and a room, a plaster or pain meds, the showers, the washing machine and dryer, an interesting conversation, tapas and a beer, a pilgrim meal and the amazement of our experience with made each day a delight. I spent much of my walking time on my own in the peacefulness and serenity of the beauty of my surroundings. It gave me time to spend chatting to God, often He heard me, especially when I found myself alone on the path with nobody in front or behind and I hadn’t seen a yellow arrow for a while, that’s when my prayer would be, ” Please set my mind at ease that I know I’m still on the right path!” And sure enough not long after that I would find one. Solitude also gave me time for contemplation and being amazed at myself, what I am able of despite my doubts and fears.
    Not once on my Walk did I fear for my safety even in those short moments of being alone. I did not fear for my personal safety and as long as I took the usual care of my personal belongings I did not have to worry about them either. Nor did I have to worry about the men both young and old, in fact I found all of the men I met to be kind, caring, help, polite and courteous. I made many new Men Friends on the Camino without having to worry about those relationships being anything other than friendship. Much like the relationships being formed between men and women on this blog. The local Spaniards I found to be polite and friendly too.
    For me my CAMINO was about – C – Challlenge, Courage and Confidence, there were days that I really had to dig deep. A – Attitude – my attitude to the weather which I couldn’t change, to the places I found myself in and the people I met. I needed to be both flexible and adaptable. M – Moving ” A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” Lao Tzu. I – Inspiration – being inspired by God and the beauty of His creation. Being inspired and encouraged by the people I met along the Way. And knowing that I too could inspire and encourage others. N – Now, Needs and Noticing – the Camino is about living in the Now, in the day and leaving tomorrow in God’s Hands. My living was simply about what I needed for each day and God provides that. I needed to keep my eyes open and alert to my surroundings, sometimes I needed to look back to see where I had come from. O – Opportunities – to chat, to make a new friend, to share, to care, to give, to receive.

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    • Thank you for sharing your wonderful story. I love the way you could see the Camino as a Santa Sack, full of wonderful things, from people to places and experiences. It sounds like you were wise before you left, and grew wiser with each step along the Camino. I also admire the way you broke down C-A-M-I-N-O to include thoughts about needs, opportunity and so much more.. With your permission Id like to share that breakdown with others. Im glad our blog helps you remember your journey, and that today felt like the right day to share it with us.Again, welcome. Im.sure we all look forward to reading more of your posts!

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    • Sandy, I shared your Camino and your weather, as I left SJPP on May 17th and departed Santiago on June 25th. It was a wonderful experience but I don’t know that I could describe it as beautifully as you have. Writing my own blog and interacting on this one gave me a lot of perspective that I might have overlooked otherwise. Great hearing your perspectives. Steve

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  8. Hi all….
    I have so many memories of my Camino…
    One is a little silver scallop shell I purchased near the Camino. I have worn it almost daily for four years. I wear it wrong my neck…I hold onto it and am immediate transported back.

    However, today Im thinking of a very special lady Canadian/German. I meet her on my Camino…she was 81 at the time and I was 39. She just had this amazing spirit/glow around her. I never once doubted her ability to walk the 160km we were walking. In fact, one day, she missed our lunch stop and walked an extra 10km and then came back to us… (so on that day she walked around 35km).
    I received an email today letting me know that she had passed away from a brain tumour.

    I will never, ever forget this most beautiful women. We shared anti-flam, laughter and walking stick techniques. ๐Ÿ™‚ . There was no age gap, no cultural gap,….we were just two random pilgrams that meet on a road.

    Buen Camino Irma….I hope to join you on a walk one day in heaven.

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    • What a beautiful memory. It makes me think of the Old Testament and “entertaining angels unawares”. I’m sure part of her special spirit still walks the Camino!We’d all be lucky to run into her energy there.

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  9. Sister Clare, Bill and All who share this blog, please feel free to use or pass on anything that I post here, it’s meant to be shared.

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  10. Hello again, sister and followers of this blog.
    As you may be aware, I am yet to walk, but leave Australia on 21 September. I cannot comment on my experiences, only on the preparations.
    I have many grand plans. I spend a lot of time organising what I am doing. I have the best intentions in the world and really want to walk.
    What fears niggle in my side? Can I physically do this is the biggest. I have trained but probably not nearly enough. What will others think if i cannot do it ? will I have let down myself and others? Yes, I am probably my own worst enemy and harshest critic.

    I am walking alone but others seem more worried about that than I am. Thank you to all those wonderful women who have been reassuring in their comments about safety. My husband is concerned, but keep telling him I will be fine. I have to believe this.
    I worry that i will be lonely as i am quite a reserved person. any clues for meeting others?

    Diet and food are a worry as I am gluten intolerant. I look at all the delicious comments about food, pastries, cakes, bread etc. but at the same time, I am thinking- what will I be eating? I don’t want to be unwell. Maybe I will just have the longest coffee crawl in history. ( version of a pub crawl)

    I really want to have a spiritual focus and think I will manage this okay. Being alone with God and my thoughts for 28 days however ??? Time will tell.

    I struggle to have self discipline. I often take an easy option and then beat myself up about it. I am hoping the Camino will guide me in this.

    Just when I think I have it all organised, another obstacle is put in my way. Not sure what God is up to with this. Am currently away from home for a week as my granddaughter ( beautiful, aged 7 months) has been very ill and it has thrown us all into a spin. After 5 days in hospital the doctors have sent her ( and mum) home, saying they couldn’t find the cause of her illness – probably a new, unidentified virus. Great!! Lots of prayers and she is finally on the mend. She and I had a beautiful day together today. Prayers are working.
    Tomorrow we hope to walk with her in the pram. That will be my training until I return home next weekend.
    Okay, enough from me.
    Blessings
    Anne

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    • Wow, Anne-sounds like your life is on overload right now. As for your Camino worries,I have been finding great comfort in seeing that just about all of us who are yet to walk our Camino have the same anxieties. That sounds to me more like a conditioned response than genuine anxiety, and thats easier to deal with being based on supposition rather than fact. I also hear about all the dangers of walking alone, although I’m not worried about it. Reverend Mother has got to the point of saying maybe I should find a better way to spend my time and money-and there’s no record of her mind being changed in human history! The best way to disarm our fears is to openly talk about them,so please keep sharing. I’m glad your granddaughter is feeling a bit better. I’ve sent her concern over to the Orders prayer group.

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    • hi anne,

      I’m going to be out of action most of today – this MRI thingy then driving back to Mudgee, but would like to address some of your concerns when I have sufficient time –

      until then!

      Bill

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    • Anne…..Im glad to hear that your granddaughter is healing. Please keep us in the loop on that. Sending up prayers for all of you at this time.

      I love your “cross training” technique with pushing the pram. That is awesome!!

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    • Well of course God will have mercy on you. Remember? “If God is with me, who can be against me?”
      “If I take the wings of the morning,and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;Even there shall Thy Right Hand lead me, and They Right Hand shall hold me.If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me;even the night shall be light around me…I will praise Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvellous are Thy Works, and that my soul knoweth right well.”Ps.139

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  11. Dear Sister, sorry it’s taken this long to get back to your guest blog, but life has a way of intervening!! Intriguing to hear of you getting into organic farming and raising animals … really, you too should write a book so we can all hear all your wonderful stories!!

    As for being lonely and wanting a Camino connection after your walk, here in Sydney, Australia, we are so very fortunate, as we have regular get-togethers at monthly, either at lunch or dinner alternately, meetings at a Spanish restaurant in the city – and the food is sensational! You get as many types, ages, opinions, questions, as if you were still on the Camino!! from both people who’ve already walked (and quite a few who’ve walked more than once) and others who are still in the planning stages. What’s more, we’re also so fortunate that one of the organisers is a woman who’s a member of the Confraternity so at these meetings we get constant news and she’s an amazing source of information. I can highly recommend that if you’re lucky enough to live in this wonderful city, to come by and join this ever-changing group! And of course, any visitors too!!

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    • hi Britta –

      I think that woman from the Confraternity might have contacted me, but in the hurly burly of coming back, I lost her contact details.

      Can you let me know about this get together? I’d love to come along one month.

      My personal email is: bill@bjfilms.com.au

      thanks Bill

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      • Sorry, very slow on the uptake at times!! Yes can give you the info and will just send it to you via email, and I guess, if you then think it appropriate you can post it on your PGS Forum.

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        • hi britta –

          sorry, there are so many posts and emails flying back and forth today, I’m a bit lost!

          Do you want my email?

          try pgstheway@gmail or bill @billbennettfilms.com.au

          You have the forum link, yes?

          Bill

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  12. I’m a little late to the party this time but here goes the intro. I’m a 62 year old woman, I currently live in Florida, U.S.. I’m a clinical lab technician working for the State in the newborn screening lab. ( http://www.cms-kids.com/families/newborn_screening/disorders.html ). I’ve worked for the state in varying capacities since 1989 and for the Newborn Screening Lab for almost 20 years. I love what I do and why I do it. I work with a genuinely caring group of people. Sure we drive each other crazy sometimes as all families do but in general it would be hard to find a more supportive environment for our sometimes overwhelming and tedious task. 4year, 13 days max until I retire. Looking for away to go sooner but not poorer.
    I have 2 grown children and 2 grandchildren. I been living with my partner Bill, over 20 years now and have been a couple for almost 23.
    I’ve always been a seeker, a questioner. Never really accepted things at face value. Theosophy, metaphysics, the spiritual, new world/new age, old world, traditional medicine, modern medicine it all fascinates me. Religion too from a understanding people and politics point of view. I’m an avid reader. Love fiction.
    I haven’t walked a Camino yet. So I have no stories to tell there.
    As for what called me to the Camino, hmmm, that’s a good question! I first heard about the Camino when reading Shirley Maclaine’s book ‘The Camino’ but I lost interest in the book and never thought it something I would do. Last January 2012 I was looking for a movie to go to one Sunday afternoon and just happened to chose ‘The Way’ not having any idea what it was about really. I loved the movie and it did stay with me but again I never thought of it in relation to something that I would do.
    In March I made a decision to lose weight and improve my health, especially my mobility. I know myself well enough by now to know I do better when I have a concrete goal. I was sitting in Panera one day for breakfast and writing up my goals and how I planned on achieving them when walking The Way jumped full blown into my head as the goal. And I would get to travel more which is always a draw for me.
    I’d originally planned to go this fall but was also planning a trip to Ireland for Fall 2012 and found I couldn’t concentrate on both and the financially it just wasn’t going to work for this year. So next year it is.
    I don’t think I can go with no expectations. I have no idea how one would do that. I am preparing as best I know how but have no idea how my body is going to react to successive, long days of walking. I plan on taking it slow and easy the first few days, and know with the time I have I won’t make it all the way in one go. Although I am asking the Universe for a good way I can have the time and the funds to walk all the way to into Santiago de Compostela.

    I am trying to prepare and walk with no fear, that’s the closest thing I can get to no expectations.

    Buen Camino to ya’ll, Karen

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    • Hey Karen –

      welcome to this crazy blog!

      And thanks for such a clear and well articulated background as to who you are what your interest is in the Camino.

      That film has had a profound effect on people. I found so many walking the Camino who were drawn there by that film.

      The power of cinema.

      If the Camino came into your mind so fully formed, as you say, then I hate to tell you but you are hooked. It’s got into your blood stream. And it won’t let you go.

      Next year’s not too far off, and it will give you time to prepare – get your gear in order, get your physical training up to scratch, and get your head around it too.

      Part of the fun of walking the Camino, I think, is living with the anticipation of it. Dreaming it.

      So feel free to comment here – or if you want to join the forum, which is just starting up, then it’s:

      http://www.pgsthewayforum.com/forum

      And once again welcome! You’ll find there’s a growing community here of very supportive people. And amongst us there’s a couple of wise ones too!

      Bill

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    • Hi Karen, and welcome. I think you will find support, information,encouragement and genuine caring here. If you have any questions, just ask;any storys or concerns to share, please just go ahead. Id love to hear more about your story and your plans. How are your friends and family reacting to your planned Camino?
      Are you walking for health reasons, spiritual or religious reasons? Pull up a chair and join in. I’m glad you’re here!

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      • Sister Clare- I’ve been here on this blog for a couple weeks now and have enjoyed the discussions very much. Find myself without many friends but the family and friends I have discussed it with are supportive. I’ve been on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela Forum for quite some time now.
        I’m sure I will have a lot of questions and concerns over the next 14 months (436 days).
        I am walking partially for health/fitness reasons and as a ‘reward’ for having lost weight. For the challenge.
        I am walking also as a way to see Spain from a unique and less touristy angle. To learn more and better Spanish. Spiritual reasons? I think so, from the way I’ve been called I think there are or will be spiritual reasons. What they are now I don’t know but trust that they will be revealed.
        Bill- Oh yes, I am well and truly hooked. I’ve known that for a while now. I know that the days will go by faster than I think. I planned my trip to Ireland for almost 2 years before I went.

        See you both over on the new forum. Thanks Bill for setting that up:-)

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        • Hi Karen –

          thanks for joining the new forum by the way!

          It’s starting to pick up steam surprisingly fast. I think it’s because people can post their own topics.

          As for your reasons for walking – all those reasons you detail sound fantastic reasons for doing it. And as for spiritual reasons? There need not be any. But you might be surprised how the Camino manages to wheedle itself into your soul!

          See you on the forum! http://www.pgsthewayforum.com/forum (I use every opportunity to get folks over there!)

          Bill

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          • Bill, I don’t think I’ll be surprised that there are spiritual reasons for my walk. What those reasons are might surprise me.
            Well off to walk in water, aka Aquafit, to start my weekend. Hope you’re having a good one.

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          • You sound like you are preparing yourself to have a massive Camino Karen. I sense it’s going to be quite profound for you. Good on you!

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          • Hi Bill,
            Just attempted to sign up for the forum but keep getting a message that my email address has no MX domain??? Can you assist?? Thx.

            Jill

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  13. To Sister Clare-

    I heard a quote somewhere a couple years ago that has stuck with me and brings me back to a calmer state of mind when I am stuck in worry mode.

    “One can not trust God and worry at the same time”

    Another saying from the 12 Step Community is: “Let go and let God”

    These 2 sayings/quotes center me when I am upset or worried. I also find that stopping for a few seconds in prayer, to hand the worry over to God and ask for the best outcome is very soothing and eventually moves me out of the worry cycle. I sometimes have to stop 20 times a day and do this before my mind gets the message that it doesn’t have to “work” on the problem, Gods handling it.

    This works for me. Take what works for you and leave the rest.

    Buen Camino, Karen

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    • Karen, thank you for sharing something so special to you. One of my favourites, that I turn to almost daily, is; Be still, and know that I am God. I also like :If God is with me, who can be against me? I find they are both very helpful in reminding me that there is no need for stress and anxiety when you have faith.

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