When I was younger, I used to love to go swimming with my best friend, Jeanne. We would go to the neighborhood public pool and spend the entire summer day laying in the sun and jumping off the board.

I remember the day I ‘qualified’ to swim in the deep end – making me one of the cool kids. I can’t remember stopping to eat lunch in those days because we were busy playing, swimming in the deep end, and talking about boys.

The summer I turned 12 I suddenly decided I wasn’t interested in the pool. No more swimming with my best friend, laying out in the warm sun on my Barbie towel, or riding my bike across two busy streets to get to the park. Just like that, I was done.

That summer, Jeanne went to the pool and made new friends. I never went again, and I rarely played with Jeanne after that summer. She had new friends, and I didn’t.

Bold in College

The same thing happened to me with traveling. In college, I loved to go and I visit new places. I drove across the country three times, visited Quebec and Vancouver, Canada, and tipped my toes in both the Pacific and Atlantic.

I always started my trips with a Mars bar, savoring every bite as the car headed down the dusty road to nowhere.

By the time I had my three children, I had traded my travel days to walking around the neighborhood pushing a stroller while watching my two other kids riding ahead on their tiny blue bikes.

All Because of Fear

I’m not sure when the fear arrived, but it did. Panic attacks. Slow but steady, I made excuses not to travel. One of my favorite reasons was that I needed to tend to the garden. What was I thinking?

I lost playful opportunities and never made memories all because of fear.

The painful truth is that until recently (last year) I hadn’t gotten on a plane alone in three decades. Just like my younger self who stopped swimming with my best friend, I stopped traveling. Things I loved turned to things I feared.

Funny. I raised three children, built a career as a special education teacher, started a second career in the health industry, wrote an international best-selling book, established an online business in beauty and the pet industry, and just this month launched the Graceful Healing Podcast.

After all these accomplishments, I still allowed my fear of being alone to dictate many years of my life.

Breaking the Chains

2019 is the year I’m busting through fear. 2019 is my year to travel alone again. I’m suddenly reminded of who I was so many years ago:

Alive. Fearless. Happy.

My children are grown, my garden is overgrown – and I’m entirely at peace knowing the weeds will happily grow out of control.

I’m going for a walk.

A long walk.

I’ll be walking over 100 miles as I walk and Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.

My husband thinks I’m crazy. He says I won’t follow through, that I’ll chicken out at the last minute, which has typically been my modus operandi, so I can’t really blame him for thinking that.

My kids are worried I’ll get lost along the way and end up in a ditch somewhere or re-injure my knee. Of course, this would disqualify me from getting Compostela which I can’t wait to frame and put in my office!

My Year of Bravery

Oh, such little faith! I chuckle to myself because I know I’ll prove them wrong.

But I ease their mind and will bring a knee brace (just in case) and join a group of other like-minded people. We will meet every evening for a group dinner and support and share stories about our day’s walk.

I’m leaving for the Camino in late August and plan to take you with me if you’d like to follow along. I’ve started training by walking every day.

I’m averaging 40 miles a week and although it’s been an adjustment for my knee (I had major surgery last year) the slow pace is helping my strength and endurance.

The app called Charity Miles tracks how many miles you walk and then donates .25 cents for every mile walked to the charity of choice. I’m happy to give to Every Mother Counts which helps women around the world that don’t have access to essential maternity care.

What a fantastic way to donate money to charity and gain personal strength and endurance!

I can’t wait to share my journey with you – every last tidbit – including my sunscreen of choice! I’ve had way too many lesions removed stemming from my sunning days when I was 12 years old without a care in the world, so sunscreen is super important no matter what the weather or season.

What do you know about walking the Camino? Have you done it yourself? Did you enjoy the experience? Does walking a pilgrimage sound interesting to you? Is this something you would do by yourself? Please share in the comments below.

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