on journey: twenty-nineteen

“It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey that matters in the end.”  ~ Usula LeGuin

One thing that struck me while I was walking the Camino de Santiago from September to October was that the journey itself was the thing that gave me joy. I did it in my own slow and careful way, usually walking no more than 10-12 miles a day spread out over 44 days of walking.  While most pilgrims forged past me at breakneck speed, I took my time and enjoyed the journey. Although I looked forward to reaching my destination each day so I could rest, I also simply enjoyed putting one foot in front of the other, watching the changing scenery, stopping into churches for moments of prayer, sampling Spanish food in cafés, meeting fellow pilgrims and having conversations with them. I enjoyed moments of silence – both mindless and insightful moments.  In the beginning, I rarely thought about how far I had to walk to reach Santiago.  If I had allowed myself to think of that huge gaping distance between me and my destination, I might have thrown up my hands in despair.

After all those days of walking, climbing mountains, descending steep rocky trails, walking over monotonous landscapes, and being awed by painterly sunrises, dramatic landscapes or charming Spanish towns, I arrived at the Cathedral in Santiago.  I attended a mass, as an interloper, for a group of German pilgrims, and then attended the regular pilgrim mass; I watched in awe as the Botafumiero arced enthusiastically toward the vault of the cathedral, and to the heavens. It was an emotional and breathtaking experience.

And, it was over.  Just like that.


The journey may look overwhelming but it consists of putting one foot in front of the other. 🙂

When I think of the Camino, I don’t think so much of that ending accomplishment, but of the delightful and even the arduous days I spent walking, and walking, and walking.

Today, it seems like a distant dream, something I did in another lifetime, and I find myself longing for that simple act of putting one foot in front of the other.

“You can measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your successes or failures.”
Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

It’s a strange thing to me — that I actually walked 799 kilometers, almost 500 miles, across northern Spain. It’s almost as if that journey were in another life, or some alternate universe.  Sometimes I forget I even did it.  And honestly, I’ve felt a bit lost since since I returned. I’d like to capture some of the feeling I had while I was there, and carry it with me in my everyday life.

Over the years, I’ve had numerous goals, only some of which I’ve completed: To make stunning quilts. To make jewelry. To draw blueprints for my dream house.  To have an interior design business. To complete my Master’s and get a job abroad in international aid. To get my completed novel published. To work in the Middle East.  To finish writing my memoir.  To finish my road trip novel. To write more poetry.  To learn to draw, to paint, and to make art journals. To write a book of related short stories.  To walk the Camino!

There are so many things I want to accomplish.  But they often seem overwhelming to me because I doubt I’m up to the task.  For instance, I’ve sent my novel to numerous agents and have been rejected every time, so I’ve convinced myself I’m not a good enough writer, that I have no talent, and though I could self-publish, no one would read my book.  I’m simply not creative enough.  I’ve set myself up for failure from the get-go, so I’m afraid indulge my creative impulses. I get stuck in my belief that I’ll always be stuck.

After discovering the joy I found in the simple journey of following my curiosity and doing the Camino, of putting one foot in front of the other with little thought of the final destination, I’ve decided I should apply this lesson to my life.  I’ve decided that in 2019, I’m going to pick a few projects to focus on, and do them simply because I enjoy them.

I’ve always wondered if I could learn to draw, as I’ve never had any artistic ability whatsoever. People have told me I can learn.  Although I am skeptical, I’ve decided to explore my curiosity.  I’ve signed up to take a beginning drawing class this winter.  I’m going in with no preconceptions about my ability to learn. I’m going to enjoy the process of learning.  I’m also interested in Art Journaling, and though I’ve signed up for a class, I’m #5 on the waitlist, so it’s possible I won’t get in.

I have had fun toying around with poetry this year on my blog and though I know I have a lot to learn, and my poems are a far cry from what I wish they could be, I’m going to continue to play around with them.  I’ve signed up for a “Found Poetry” class this winter.  Later in the year, I’d love to take a class on “Poetic Forms.”  Most of all, I want to let my imagination run wild, and to enjoy wordplay.


The yellow arrow always points the way.

Finally, I hope to work on a number of unfinished projects.  I want to read books that I already have on my bookshelves (50 is my goal); many of these books I’ve had for 10 years or more!  I want to keep plugging away at the Kon Mari decluttering we started a couple of years ago.  And I want to finish the first draft of my road trip novel, and to have fun with it, without any regard to whether it’s good enough, or whether I’m creative or imaginative enough, or whether it will ever be published. I want to look at each day of writing as an adventure, and to enjoy the fun of failure!

I also plan to continue to make intentions for my travels, to have fun making my travels more artful, and experimenting with different ways to create art from those travels.

The Camino also awakened a spiritual desire in me, and I want to explore a couple of churches in my area in the coming year.  My wish is to find community, and a place that does some social justice work, without getting caught up too much in religious dogma.

My travels this year I hope will include:

  1. A combined trip across the pond:
    1. To Morocco (solo with G Adventures) and to Italy (with Mike to the middle of the boot, including Florence, Siena, Pisa, Cinque Terre, and Tuscany.)

In the U.S., I hope to take several road trips:

  1. A road trip to Louisville and Lexington, Kentucky (Bourbon Trail and horse country, respectively), and Cincinnati, Ohio.
  2. A road trip through the Dakotas and Nebraska, stopping to visit my sister in her new home in Illinois and both of my sons in Denver, Colorado.
  3. A trip to Charleston, South Carolina with my daughter.

Most of all, I want to enjoy the journey, to follow my curiosity, to look at all my attempts  as adventures.

“You can measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your successes or failures.”
Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

I don’t want to think about the end goals because end goals seem to suggest that the journey itself is drudgery.  I hope to enjoy the journey for its own sake, as I did the Camino.

“Curiosity is the one thing invincible in nature.”  ~ Freya Stark


the stunning road of life


“ON JOURNEY” INVITATION: I invite you to write a post on your own blog about the journey itself for a recently visited specific destination. Or you can write about the journey you hope to take in the year ahead.  If you don’t have a blog, I invite you to write in the comments.

Include the link in the comments below by Tuesday, January 15 at 1:00 p.m. EST.  When I write my post in response to this challenge on Wednesday, January 16, I’ll include your links in that post.

This will be an ongoing invitation, once on the third Wednesday of each month. Feel free to jump in at any time. 🙂

I hope you’ll join in our community. I look forward to reading your posts!