I been slow to update, I am afraid to find out what happened to me after my Camino, mine differs from so many stories I’ve read but I feel the need to be as honest as I can with myself so thatI can truly understand the lessons the Camino was teaching. Will I do it again, the answer is a definite YESSSS! stay tuned
After a few hours of sleep I woke up and guess what? I was still in Europe!! I don’t think it had sunk in that I was actually far, far away from home, from anyone I knew, I wasn’t meeting anyone there, this was it, I was on my own. I took a shower and got dressed, I rearranged my pack and even though I had not even walked yet, I knew that I had taken things I really didn’t need. This was the first time I left some things behind, I hope someone enjoyed the things I left, lol. I took a deep breath and put my pack on my back. Quick rewind…The day before I left the states I had a few cortisone shots on my shoulder, I had been having pain since that January and after 4 months with pain getting worse and now I couldn’t even lift my arm above my head and after months of sleepless nights, I finally went to the doctor, the motions to find out what was wrong began and the shots were my last effort to try to relieve some pain before I left. My arm hurt the entire way to Portugal but when I put the backpack on, it seemed like the pack was leaning more on my right shoulder so it helped to the point to even forget about the pain. Well, at least for a while!!
I felt so strange, I felt that I just didn’t know what I was doing. I was nervous about beginning my walk and whether I would get lost or find my way okay. I felt so clumsy with my pack and my walking poles, the poles were just getting in my way haha. I sat there and had a bite to eat while looking out the window and just amazed that I was sitting there in Portugal. If someone would have told me years ago that this day would come I would’ve told them they were nuts. I sat in silence a few people came in to eat and I felt they all looked at me funny, like they were thinking I looked like a deer with headlights, I’m sure no one was paying attention to me and my clumsiness, but this is my little voice talking crap already!! As I make my way to check out I’m still feeling super clumsy haha. I check out and as I walk out the hotel door I stand there for a second and take a deep breath and told myself HERE WE GO!!!
Across the street from the Hotel is where I would start my Camino, I would walk through a Fortress The Valenca do Minho Fortress is over 800 years old and carries a long history. I walked towards the fortress and I encounter my first “mini-hill”. I walk up and go to the entrance but not knowing where I was going and seeing that cars were entering through there I thought, well that’s for cars so I go right…uhmm WRONG!! I decided that I would pull out my poles. I extend one, check!! As I extend the other one, I kinda pull too hard and I take the whole half of my pole out…OOOPS!!! In trying to put it back in I push too hard and I almost bent the darn thing…and being that I was by myself I was like “REALLY CECILIA, YOU HAVEN’T EVEN STARTED AND ALREADY BREAKING STUFF”!! I had to just smile, but I fixed it, I was good!! So I walk along the outer parts of the fortress, not knowing if I was on the right path, but after walking a little I realize that yeah, definitely NOT THE RIGHT WAY!!! OMG, my adventure had begun for sure. I go back to the “car entrance” and I just walk on the edge, cars were passing by so I just had to be careful. I was like a small tunnel, very rustic, very old looking. As I walk out of it I see a statue of a virgin so I stop there for a moment just to ask for guidance on this Camino I had just begun. Inside the fortress there are many stores with handmade items for sale, it was early so people were barely opening up and setting up for the day. I lost the arrows, so I ended up on the upper ends of the fortress where I could see the bridge to Spain…yeah, it didn’t look close!!! I’m like, oh look there is the bridge I gotta cross…how the heck do I get there!!!
I just kept walking “in circles” haha….I finally had to ask and I was pointed in the right direction…OH LOOK, ARROWS!!!
I had to go underground (or so it felt like it), it kinda looked scary, I stood there and I’m telling myself…wth, I gotta go in there!!!! Yupp, there is the yellow arrow…
Stay tuned, this is just about an hour into it…join me to find out what happened. Let me know what you think so far…hope you keep checking in!!
September 15th came. The day had finally arrived, my countdown app finally showed Zero days after starting at 288. I as nervous and excited, will I cry, didn’t cry. I said goodbye to my cousin, passed security and soon I was walking down the ramp to enter the plane. Even the plane was different, I had never been on a plane that size that had so many seats, ones with individual seats that incline like a bed and others that are normal. The flight did not seem long, I was tired so I slept most of the way, I was so tired that I hope that I didn’t lean my head on my neighbors ha! Houston-London-Madrid-Porto. I arrived late and had to wait for 3 hours for the next bus to take me to Valenca where I would spend the night and begin my Camino the next day. I was so nervous once I got off the bus, it was 11pm, I didn’t know where the hotel was and I was in PORTUGAL!!!! Omgoodness, I was in Europe, by myself, it was dark and I wasn’t sure where to go.
So I walk away, at a small distance I saw some people and I walked towards them but then I changed my mind, I got scared and stopped, I stood there for a few seconds and turned the other way, back towards the bus station. You know, I use my GPS all the time, with the nerves I couldn’t even make out the directions on my phone. I walked a few steps and there was a girl with her own suitcase so I asked if she knew where the Hotel was but she only pointed towards the street that was on the map. So my first walk began, like I said the GPS wasn’t helping me, I think it was in shock too, now it was giving me directions in Europe and not in the US lol. Since it was late, as I walked, I saw a few men and yes, I felt a little scared, but they didn’t even turn to look at me, I just kept walking. After I walked which seemed like forever, I came to the Hotel which was RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET FROM THE BUS STATION…you know those people that I saw and walked towards and turned around…yes, you guessed it, the Hotel was right there!!!!
I had my reservation so it was an easy check-in. My room looked just like the picture above. It was funny because I put my bag down and walked towards the balcony and the door was slightly open from the top part so I thought to myself, “geez, they gave me a room with a broken sliding door”, but as I carefully moved it I realized that you could close it and open the whole door to walk outside to the balcony. Don’t judge me, I’ve never seen doors like that ha!! I was soo tired and there was really nothing to see that late. I checked in with my daughter, told her I arrived safely and was in the hotel room. I sat there for a few moments in silence, it felt weird to sit there by myself. I thought, this is it, I’m here on my own, I don’t have any plans with anyone tomorrow to start the day. A mixture of emotions surrounded me, I took a shower and tried to get some sleep, I don’t think I slept a wink that night!!
NIGHT ONE DOWN!!! Not too bad right? Ha, just getting started!
It’s been 5 months since I went on my Camino. I have shared some of my story with family and friends but had not touched the keyboard to write about my Camino. I am not sure why the words wouldn’t come. I’ve wrote a few things on the APOC and Camigas pages which I have been told that I inspired a few Camigas with my words. But I just couldn’t get to writing about the experience. I guess I just wasn’t ready to share with everyone else. My Camino was physically and mentally challenging. It was also physically and emotionally painful, but, it also allowed me to see what I was capable of and taught me some hard lessons about ASKING FOR HELP FOR MYSELF!!!
I met a couple of women last week and as the conversation went on, I mentioned I had gone on a “Spiritual Walk” in Spain and right away she asked if this was Santiago de Compostela and of course I said YES!!! After we discussed what our meeting was actually about, the Camino came back into the conversation and I told them a few things about my walk, a little about the physically pain I felt as well as the brokenness I felt as I ate alone in each town. I shared the lessons that the Camino was teaching me early on and as I get teary eyed in certain parts, both of them at the same time told me. OMG you HAVE TO SHARE YOUR STORY, you are inspiring us just with what you are sharing now. So, after being told by several times I HAD TO SHARE MY STORY I have decided to start writing and sharing MY CAMINO!!! I believe that I am ready to finally tell the story of my Camino. Hope my story inspires others to walk this pilgrimage at least ONCE in their lifetime!!!
With love, lets begin!!
The day has come for me to depart on My Camino. I am a mix of emotions, happy, nostalgic for leaving my Mom and all that I know if even for 10 days. I feel like smiling, I feel like crying, I want to go with no expectations of what the Camino will give me, but hopeful that whatever it will give me will be what I need in my life at this moment in time.
This is a something that I only had in my dreams and I am amazed that I did it, I booked it and I am actually getting on that plane today that will take me to places that I only saw in pictures and only daydreamed for years. I have a feeling this will not be my last. I hope my children will one day understand that this is Mom’s time to live a little. I pray and ask that God and the universe puts the right people in front of me that might say the right words to keep me going, maybe the right people to see that I am at the right place at the right time. I ask to be inspired to write the right words to share my experience with family and friends.
I can’t wait to just Breathe!!!
My intention for this Camino is to be free, free from the past, free from the pain of what could’ve been, free to finally be who I truly am and go through life LIVING and not just existing…I can now share my poem as we are all in one way or another looking for beauty from the ashes!!!
OUT OF THE DUST
So many layers of ash
Fell over me for years.
In a coma my soul has been.
Out of the dust
Layers of ash from the past,
Pushing the ash as I walked
Dust only blinding my path.
Out of the dust
Plowing through the ash in my soul
I’m coming out of the coma,
Veil of ash lifting from my eyes.
Out of the dust
Coming into the present,
Creating beauty from the ashes
I now walked out of the Dust.
Written by Cecy de Leon
The Universe gives you what you need to see, hear, feel at the right times. This morning as I’m driving to work a familiar song came on the radio (I’ve posted it for you to enjoy), I’ve heard it before, but you know, you learn the chorus parts first right…I really had not paid attention to the lyrics, that is, until today and boy did they really talk to me. God has a tendency of sending me my messages a lot of the times through music and this was no exception. A little background so you can see why this song hit home today.
I have been divorced for 14 years now, I have been able to pick up most of the shattered pieces that part of my life left me in, then after so much pain, so many tears, someone else came into my life after my divorce, this person made me feel alive again, gave me hope, helped me restore my heart. He was one of those people that come into your life for a reason and for only a season. After years of hoping that our lives would cross again, I finally had to let go of him too. I am grateful for the time spent together, grateful to have known what it felt to feel loved, he showed me what I do want for my heart. Yes, the day he left, I felt my heart-break in a million pieces, he didn’t do anything wrong, but, deep inside my soul, I knew that I would never be with him again. At first, his job took him from me and then distance took a toll on our relationship, at the end of the day, we just weren’t meant to be. We remained friends for a long time after “US” had ended. Wandered through life after that, searching for “someone” to fill the void that my heart felt. I didn’t realize that I couldn’t continue to put my happiness on someone else; I had to look inside myself and learn how to make CECY happy. It has taken years for me to get to where I am now and I am still a work in progress, I still have to mend the most important piece, loving myself, just as I am, without judging what reflects back to me in the mirror. This has been the toughest journey for me.
As my Camino gets closer and closer, my mind is racing 1000 miles an hour, wondering what I will feel when I step on that plane. Knowing that the bus with wings will take me across the sea, thousands of miles away from everything I know. The day is coming when some dreams become a reality. I am sure tears will be flowing, I am sure I will be having a mixture of emotions because I am actually getting on board by myself. I am leaving the comfort of home, family and friends. My mind is chaos…
- What is my intention?
- Will I find clarity?
- Will I FEEL anything?
- Will I find peace?
- Will I find myself?
- Will I finally find the real Cecy?
- What I really am all about?
- Will I leave my past there?
- Will my heart finally be WHOLE again?
- So many questions in my head swirling and I just feel I am going in circles.
- When people ask me who I really am, to be honest, I don’t really know.
- What’s my passion? I am not sure, when I think about it, several things come to mind
And then I hear this song, “Tell your heart to beat again”, talking about being “shattered in a 1000 pieces”, feeling like I am never going to go back to who I used to be, to that free-spirited girl who would dance to forget any hurt, any pain, to the Cecy that felt her heart beating in her chest with every dance step., a girl that grew up in the shadows and still knew how to smile. This song, telling me that “yesterdays a closing door” speaking truth that “I don’t live there anymore”.
So today, I will breathe in these words and as I get off that plane in Porto, Portugal, I will close my eyes and BREATHE deeply, I will go rest and when I awake the next day and walk out into a new day, I will take my first step thinking about the new journey that will begin at that moment. I will leave the darkness and feel God’s grace in my soul. I shall acknowledge that “my story is far from over.” The journey of the second half of my life will begin there. That my life is not over, it’s just falling into place. That I am where I’m supposed to be and I will take a deep breath and “TELL MY HEART TO BEAT AGAIN”
I know this was long, but it’s what my heart told me to get out of my chest into paper. Tell me about your day, what sign/message did you see or hear? Please share!!! Hope you enjoy the song.
My new found word!!
The time is getting closer and closer, 49 days to be exact and boy the jitters are kicking in. The self-doubt as to whether or not I’m going to make it when I arrive. Not doing the entire Camino, but for someone that has had a sedentary lifestyle, it makes you wonder, right? I tell those that say that I WON’T make it, that if I can’t walk anymore then I will take a bus, a train, a taxi…but in reality I DON’T want to do that. I tell myself the Camino will Provide.
Other things invade my mind and my heart…with the “short” days I am going to walk, will I experience any “Magic” on the Camino, will I find the clarity I am searching for? I’ve tried to do more of the meditation, yoga, anything that will help me begin the journey to the Camino with an open heart and an open mind. I don’t want to arrive with certain expectations only to be disappointed if this or that doesn’t even happen to me. I have faith, or maybe I really don’t, in search for that too, I know that I am looking for deeper meaning in my life, my life’s calling. But what do I really believe in? What’s my purpose? Why can’t I be disciplined on anything, whether it’s meditating every day, writing on my journal every day, going to yoga classes consistently… my body is changing, I can feel it, pain coming on like a tsunami, without injury, but, I don’t have time for pain, I don’t like how I look, I don’t like what I’m feeling.
I will go on my Camino and just hope that SOMETHING happens and changes the way I see myself and I see life!!! That’s my intention.
Something inside has been yearning for change, it feels like I’m running out of time, I don’t know for what, but that’s what I feel. I have a need to understand what is holding me back from finding my true self!! Have you ever felt this way? If so, can you share your story?
There is a place along the Camino de Santiago, between the towns of Foncebadón and Manjarín (Camino Frances), where a wooden pole, about five feet high stands and carries an iron cross high above this pole, it is called Cruz de Ferro (Iron Cross). It is said to be a replica of the original cross which is preserved in the “Museo de los Caminos” in Astorga. Over the years a mound has formed with rocks and other objects left by Pilgrims from all over the world. Legend has it that at the time the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral was being built pilgrims were asked to bring stones as their contribution to the Cathedral. It is also said that the tradition is to throw a stone with your back to the cross. Pilgrims bring this from their home or they pick up a stone along the Way before arriving at Cruz de Ferro.
In 1982 a chapel dedicated to St. James was built by the Cross which for some years has celebrated the feast of Santiago/Saint James bringing people together.
The stone may symbolize the heavy load pilgrims carry in their hearts and souls. Some might just carry it because that’s what they hear pilgrims do or it’s a tradition. In the movie The Way, a rock was given to “Tom”, he asked what that was for, and all he was told was that he would know what to do with it at the right time. Just like “Tom” in the movie, some people don’t even realize what they are carrying inside and it’s amazing to see how a small rock can sometimes help you understand and release some of the weight they carry, whether it is a sin, broken hearts, the loss of a loved one that you didn’t get to say goodbye too, etc. So many things we carry in our hearts and it overwhelms us because we don’t cry, we won’t talk about it and the biggest one…WE WON’T LET GO!!
I am not walking the Camino Frances and will not be “dropping” my rock “my weight” at the “Cruz de Ferro” (Iron Cross), but I have found my own rock to carry with me, I believe that on the Camino Portuguese I will find a place to throw it and “let go”. I believe the Camino will show me the right time and the right place. It’s funny but the rock that I ended up picking up is not just a flat smooth rock, it actually looks like a mountain, it has cracks and crevices, if you touch around it, some of the “bumps” are really rough, the bottom of the rock is not smooth either, it’s got ridges. There is a large crack that seems like the rock could break in 2 pieces, as you look past the middle of the rock it starts to smooth out. As I looked at it, it reminded me of how my life looks so much like this rock.
My foundation was not smooth, I had a good childhood, but it didn’t come without dark clouds hanging over it, just like so many childhoods our lives had “bumps”. When I grew up and left my hometown to marry and begin a family, it began as a fantasy that besides my children it’s hard to remember the good times, just like the rock, a time came when I felt that my heart was being broken in half, the tears that flowed made dents in my soul, the middle part of my adulthood was rough and had edges (brokenness) that cut through my soul, at one time I did feel like I would break in half, as I got older and my children grew, life began to get smoother, it still shook me at times but I have arrived to a place in my life where things are changing, my kids are grown, have their own families, and I am left to care for my Mother, she is good, just her mind can play tricks on her some days. I’ve felt guilty for decisions I’ve made throughout my life, but I am learning to let that go and see life through a different set of eyes. When I reach the peak of a mountain along the Camino, my journey will be smooth like the top of this rock and a whole new journey with a new perspective will have begun.
A friend looked at this rock and said it looks like a piece of poop!! Haha, when I told her what I saw of course she said I was weird. I don’t know where this comes from, what do you think would you take a rock, a rose’s stem and see what I see? Hope you share your thoughts on how you would use something so simple to create a “ceremony” to release what you carry in your soul.