Reflections, Part One

September 3, 2015.  Waking up in my own room in Deba was luxurious, and it gives me a chance to do some writing before I move to the next stage of the journey.  As I have walked during the past two days, I notice my thoughts have stayed with a theme or two . . . for whom am I walking , and for whom am I writing?

When I began this website very early in 2012, 18 months before I started the Camino Frances in September 2013, it was for me and I didn’t give much thought to readers.  I’ve been keeping a journal since I was a little girl, and I couldn’t imagine taking on such a venture as a walk across Spain without writing down my preparations, thoughts, fears, whatever from the moment I made the decision to do this thing.  Yes, I thought about the possibility of a book eventually, and with all the book ideas I’ve had over the past 25 years, perhaps one day I’ll be the oldest living “first book” female in the annals of history, but one step at a time, both literally and figuratively . . . Write for me, walk for me, and see what happens.

My daughter signed on to follow and so did one of my sisters.  That made sense because Ashley had written her way across the southern hemisphere with her husband during that same time period, and my youngest sister had been a “blogger” for several years.  Everything from the Houston Zoo site to one giving us great suggestions for unique Christmas gifts.  Then a friend or two here or there added their e-mail addresses to the “follow” list, as well as my other sister, and one by one, I had about a dozen followers.  As the date of my departure in 2013 drew closer, my sons added themselves to the list, as did some writing students, and a variety of other well-wishers.  But I was writing for myself, as I have always done.  I noticed one day that the number of followers had risen to over 350.  How did that happen?  I’m not sure, but the internet does strange things without anyone even noticing.  People are interested in the kind of adventure I’m taking, just as I was interested when I saw Emilio Estevez’ movie The Way, written with his father, Martin Sheen, in mind.  I saw the film and immediately decided I would walk the Camino Frances.  And I did.

At this point, I see by WordPress’ stats that I have over 700 followers, and this “audience” factor is both an encouraging thing and a daunting one, once I posed the question to myself:  To whom am I writing?

Yes, I do know these followers want to . . . well, follow.  They are supportive, appreciative, loving and non-judgmental.  This last is important, since I have plenty of judgment so surround myself sometimes.  And I also know that writing my journey is very important to me.  After all, surprisingly enough, I used the material from the last Camino, reshaped and added to, edited and cut down, to finish a Master’s Thesis attempt I’d been struggling with for more than a dozen years.  The writing I had done before, during and after my first Camino was useful to me in personal and professional ways.  And as a great side benefit, those followers seemed to really enjoy what I wrote.  For some, reading was a caring gesture.  For others, it was an energizing factor in making their own decision to walk the Camino.  And I’m sure there are dozens or hundreds of other reasons why a person would follow someone they don’t know, or even someone they DO know, watching a life’s adventure unfold.

I have MOO cards, printed with one of my scenic photos on the front and my information on the back, including the address for this website.  I invite people to read my words, every time I hand someone a card.

Yes, my posts were true, descriptive, and reflective.  Whatever showed up on the page was a valid representation of my days at any given moment.  That is still true.  No, I never thought of just bagging it.  Yes, it was hard at first, and yes, it got easier and I got stronger.  All those things were what I expected on this route.

But it doesn’t just move along slickly, with my last walk’s patterns in some tissue-paper overlay for this one.  Beautiful coastal walks, very hot days, more difficult pathways than I expected, a couple of early tumbles, and now the wretched and arriving-way-too-early bronchial plague I’m famous for.  Now.  Though my body has recovered from the falling jolts, it is now fighting the blows to the midsection every time I cough.  Time will heal this, and nothing else.

My step-by-step musing has come to this.  I will walk for me.  I will write for me.  I will stop or go on, by foot or by bus, as I need to.  And with every step, I’ll smell the smells, hear the sounds, see the sights, feel my feet as I struggle up and down the hills and mud, give thanks for sunny days with not too much heat, for coastal views and fairly manageable walkways.

And I will definitely know many people are with me in spirit.  You’ll continue to take what I write and I’ll continue to write what shows up from my heart and head through my fingers.  And no matter what, I will have a buen Camino.



About Woodswoman

Writer, educator, psychotherapist, woodswoman. Crave solitude and just walked the Camino de Santiago from the French Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela. Long-term partner, Neil. Three grown kids, one traveling the world for a couple of years (see, and two in other countries . . . Thailand and Texas! One Golden Retrievers and two cats. Avid reader, looking for 10 more hours in each of my days.
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11 Responses to Reflections, Part One

  1. Susan Block says:

    I wonder how many of your 700+ readers are like me …living vicariously through your journal! Wondering if I could ever walk the Camino? Could I carry a large backpack? How can I convince my husband that this could be a life changing experience? Thanks for sharing your personal thoughts and everyday experiences as you journey onward. No more jolts, ok?!
    Godspeed, Joanna!

  2. stringguru says:

    thank you for your reflective comments!

  3. Carol McLean says:

    I am sorry about the coughing. I struggle with that, too. I hope it goes away more quickly this time. Sending love.

  4. Mary says:

    Beautiful post, Joannah. I’m so glad you’re walking and writing for you, always your first reader, always your closest companion. So sorry, though, to hear of the bronchial crud coming too soon. Take care of yourself, even as you traverse this difficult landscape. Do what you need to do for you, and to hell with whatever anyone else might think!

  5. Nansi Lee says:

    Joannah, you are my inspiration muse! While reading your last entry, Mark twain’s quote came to mind “twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did”. So, off you go, catch the shimmer in the setting sun, you are mentally equipped to continue the walk km after km. Buen Camino

  6. Bonnie says:

    Bravo Joanna; truly inspiring!

  7. annieh61 says:

    Hope the coughing isn’t affecting your much-needed sleep. Your way sounds great to me Joanna.

  8. Jeanne Sheriff says:

    Sorry for your bronchial junk. Take good care.
    – one of the 700

  9. Hi Joannah, One of the 700 here. I have never responded to a blog before. Today your’s was really calling to me. I suppose because I have wanted to do a blog (having never kept a journal) and keep putting it off. I have taken a couple of your classes at ArtUnraveled a couple of years ago. A refrain keeps running through my head that my mother told me years ago – “Never put anything in writing!”. It has literally stopped me in my tracks all these years. But I liked what you said about writing your blog for yourself! It didn’t matter if anyone else read it or not. But there is always the fear of being judged.

    I respond to your blog because you are a woman of a few years and I love that you are walking the Camino not only once but twice! My God! I just turned 75 years young and want and need to start/begin a new chapter in my life. I am looking at the possibilities of getting certified in yoga, certified in meditation, finding Brazilians to practice Portugese with and clearing out my studio and cupboards and selling all the stuff on ebay (because I don’t want to leave a big mess for people to go through when I die!). All of this seems very daunting at the moment. But YOU inspire me!

    I pray for your quick recovery from The Cough! That’s no fun but still you carry on. All I can say is “You go, Girl”!. Sending blessings your way, Seisha

  10. Greg shemas says:

    Johanna safe journeys and good health to you along your way. Stay safe and our prayers go with you.

  11. Mary Ann Fox says:

    I do so enjoy sharing your journey except the cough, the falls, etc. With those, we will send healing thoughts, cough drops, band aids ,etc. through the magical air. A german couple is walking also. When and which trail I don’t know. The husband will walk the entire path too.

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