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  • purcellcathy

Walking my way to a new life

Like many people who start a blog, I have no idea what I am doing, or if anyone will ever see this, but that is OK. I am writing this mostly for myself. Having been inspired by the book/movie Wild, and a woman I met while living in Switzerland (I am American, I was just there for 2 years) I have decided to walk the Camino de Santiago. For those of you who don't know what it is, it is a walk towards Santiago de Compostela in Spain, and it translates to The Way of St. James. Millions of people (referred to as pilgrims) have walked to Santiago over thousands of years. There are numerous routes to get there, but the most popular is the Camino Frances, which is the one I am doing. It is 500 miles, starting at St. Jean Pied de Port in France. I will start my pilgrimage on 9/18 of this year, and I will be accompanied by my life long friend, Peggy and my sister Maggie. I am doing this for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which is to honor my 60th birthday which will occur on October 31st of this year.

The idea to do this has been in the back of my mind for years. Many people have (understandably) asked me why I want to do this crazy thing. It is a good question, and not one easily answered. It is often said that one is called to walk the Camino de Santiago. That feels accurate, it is like a force pulling me towards it. When I first started planning the trip, about a year and half ago, I thought it would be a great adventure, possibly a good way to lose a few pounds (admittedly not the best of reasons) and generally just find my way back to myself. I have raised my children and had retired from my job as a career coach and was feeling a little bit....adrift. I had moved to Atlanta in 2017 after sending my youngest off to college (in the state we moved from) and it was a hard move for me. I had trouble meeting friends without having children as the conduit for friendship. In addition, the pandemic hit in 2020 pretty much putting me (and everyone) into prolonged hibernation.

Fast forward to now, and my reasons for walking the Camino have grown. Losing weight is now the least of my reasons (though it would be a nice perk as I have struggled with menopausal weight gain) but now finding my way back to myself and feeling that sense of accomplishment has become as necessary to me as breathing. Contributing to my feeling of being lost, in April of this year I made the incredibly difficult decision to end my 28-year marriage. So, with all of that, I am really looking forward to spending 37 days with 2 of the most important people in my life, and meeting other pilgrims from all over the world along the way. I will write about these last few weeks of preparation, and then I will attempt to document our travels once we actually begin the trip.

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