I love words and I often find myself looking up word origins or the proper definition of a word. With that in mind, I am defining this current phase of my life as my mid-life catharsis and once I read the following I knew it was perfect.
Catharsis (from the Greek κάθαρσις katharsis meaning “purification” or “cleansing”) refers to the purification and purgation of emotions—especially pity and fear—through art or to any extreme change in emotion that results in renewal and restoration.
The last few years I have really started to distance my head from my heart and have found myself not really liking the person I have become. The things in my past that made me proud and centered are becoming a smaller and smaller part of my being. Those things start with being a good friend to others, being creative, seeking and generating inspiration and just generally looking at life as a journey of possibilities. Although I have always been prone to depression, a really devastating heart break and losing a job that had become my identity completely altered my reality. I have become about self-preservation, not rocking the boat, minimal challenge, risk and thus reward. I am often bored and have developed some pretty negative routines that just help me continue this drab ho-hum spiral. That being said, I have tried a lot of things; working with kids, exercising more, moving and moving and moving, open mic nights, committing to making more time for my family, growing a couple of local friendships with amazing people who are not allowed to have any expectations of me, getting a dog, etc…. While these are all beneficial activities, I still find myself on my couch watching too much tv, not connecting with very important people, overweight, insecure, withdrawn and just plain lost. Disconnected feels like the right word.
I have also felt a bit like an elementary school kid thinking “maybe I’ll become a fire fighter!” or “i’ll be a pop star!” or whatever craziness comes into my head. That with my business experience, I’m frequently figuring out how I can market my desire to make some real $$$. But nothing has resonated beyond a brief fantasy and so I continue to work a minimum wage job while (phew!) getting a hefty severance paycheck and feeling like I am putting off “real life”. ??
Last Monday a colleague called me about a job. I thought “I need to take a job in my career field with a good salary and a 401K, etc… etc…” I kept hearing myself saying the word “should” and not feeling any excitement. I promised to send him an updated resume that night. The next day I had not emailed the resume, using excuses that I have a new computer and needed to download Office knowing that if I was passionate and engaged, he would have an updated resume asap. The next day my head was spinning with ideas and I called my mom with less than five minutes to spare and asked what she thought of me hiking the Camino de Santiago. My practical, southern, money conscious mother did not hesitate and said “sounds like something you should do honey”. I said it might take six months, I had no idea what I was saying – I knew nothing about it other than hearing part of an NPR story and seeing the trailer for the movie “The Way”. I spent a good quality thirty minutes on the internet that night and that was all it took for me to know I was going.
The Way of Saint James (a.k.a. The Camino de Santiago) is a 500-mile spiritual pilgrimage across the Pyrenees, through the provinces of northern Spain, ending at the Saint James Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. Some people take months, years or weeks to do it.
Since then, I breathe the Camino. I have a phone app that links me to a wonderful forum where people post questions and they get very meaningful responses. I have watched numerous youtube videos, read personal blogs of others experience, and continue to feel inspired, excited and beyond secure in my decision. Fast forward to seven days later and you will find a girl with a plane ticket in September to Paris, France and home from Santiago de Compostela, Spain after an estimated 41 days.
I have said in the last year that I feel like life is courting me but I always have to wash my hair that night. Not sure if that makes any sense. I have been dipping my toe into the water but this feels like I am finally jumping right in. So although this could just be another attempt to try something, it feels so different. It feels real, it feels big and it feels right. I don’t expect it to provide me all the answers but man just to breathe, really breathe – well then it would be worth it.
I knew that I would write about my trip but I decided I would also write before my trip for two reasons. 1) To provide friends and family with information about where I am going, what I am doing and 2) I know this will be a life changing event and I want a record of my hopes, dreams, fears, etc… so I can look back on it with the perspective of someone who has done it. I want to hold myself accountable to life.
1) Like myself – ie.. find myself, remind myself of who I can be at my best
2) Be a better friend to others and have something to give
3) Be in better shape
4) Have some awesome stories that include sheep and cows
5) Have met some people that teach me important life lessons
So family and friends – welcome. Thank you for taking this journey with me. To many of you I apologize for disappearing. I hope to have much to tell you soon.
I am beyond inspired by so many who have posted videos, blogs, informational websites, etc… but for those of you interested here are a few to give you an idea of what I will be up to soon.
Handy Wikipedia info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Way_of_St._James
Route descriptions (Camino Frances will be my path): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Way_of_St._James_(route_descriptions)
My possible itinerary along with some great info: http://www.30daystosantiago.com/itinerary.html
One of the many wonderful personal accounts: http://www.banxietyfree.com/walking-the-camino.html