Camino de Santiago

Simplify – Be Free To Dream

20140910-Pyrenees-74-final-1One of the issues we faced as we prepared to walk the Camino was to get the weight of our packs to the 20 lb range. We pared down as much as we thought we could but still it turned out, like so many that start the Camino, we were carrying too much weight. After about a week of walking, we realized how burdened we were with our heavy packs. We decided to simplify and reduce the weight of our packs by sending the stuff we stripped out of our pack forward to our destination city (Santiago De Compostela).

Oh, how nice it was too drop that extra weight! It made a difference as we resumed our walking. We found that our lightened load allowed the freedom to be more present and aware as we walked. We had more energy as well. It was a welcome relief.

I find myself looking back at this time and I realize that I am in constant need of shedding stuff to find more energy and freedom. Our lives are complex and filled up with so much stuff that burden us down. We are constant need of simplification.

I was thinking about our dear granddaughter Katherine with her amazing imagination and ability to weave a story and to dream. I wonder if some of this comes from how her life is so much simpler, there is less clutter and complexity.

I think there might be something to all this. The more we simplify and reduce the complexity of our lives, the more we can be free to dream, the more energy we will have and the more freedom we will feel. The more we can be present to those around us as well.

It seems to me that this is the way to go but alas it does take self discipline and self control in our lives to say no more often to those things that sound so good. I want to do it all. Yet too much is too much. Simplification is better.

Hope you all find a way to reduce and simplify the clutter and complexity of your life. I know I have a ways to go!

Blessings and all good,


Photograph of the Week

Skellig Michael – Stairway to Heaven

With St Patrick’s day upon us I thought I would revisit a photograph from our trip to Ireland in 2016. This image was taken on Skellig Michael island where monks inhabited this remote island off the coast of Ireland in the year 500. Talk about simplification!


True Colors


180226-Fun with Kids-3-Final“The voice of the authentic self calls to us ceaselessly from within. Traditionally it has been called the voice of conscience, but regardless of what name we give it, we all have this quiet, gentle voice within us, and it is our truest guide.” Matthew Kelly

One of the special opportunities that both Terri and I were looking forward to when we decided to walk the Camino, was the chance to have lots of quiet time to think and reflect and pray during our long walk. Time to seek out that inner voice within. I know we both certainly experienced that in our long days of walking.

It was a very important time for me as I had just embarking on a new phase in life as I had just retired. What would be next in my life? Looking back 4 years later (yikes, 4 years?), I can say without any hesitation that I have found my “true colors’ in my retirement. It has been all I could have hoped for and more! I am living a very fulfilled retirement. I feel a strong sense of purpose and a great energy to my “work” of retirement. I think a lot of the credit is due to this important period of my life walking the Camino and getting my head straight. Listening to that “quiet, gentle voice within”.

I titled this blog this week after the song called “True Colors“. Terri and I have listened to the Justin Timberlake version of this song, from movie “Trolls“, a lot recently as it a favorite of our two little grandchildren. In the movie, the heroine of the story is Poppy , who is a relentlessly upbeat and courageous little troll, who at one point in the movie becomes very sad and she loses all her vibrant colors and turns to grey like her friend Branch (a very cynical and sad little troll). Ironically, it is her friend Branch, that helps her recover her “true colors” bring her out of her sad funk. They both end up turning into vibrant colors from their drab grey.  They both rediscover their “true colors”. Then they do what all happy trolls do, “Sing, Dance and Hug”!

We all can can get distracted and off track in our lives and find ourselves anxious and sad at times. Sometimes we just need a friend like Branch to help us out of it or maybe we need to take some time to getaway and to listen to that quiet, gentle voice within us. It is the voice within us, that truest guide, that is helping us to be the “best version of ourselves” and leads us to our “true colors”.

You with the sad eyes
Don’t be discouraged, oh I realize
It’s hard to take courage
In a world full of people
You can lose sight of it all
The darkness inside you
Can make you feel so small
This world makes you crazy
And you’ve taken all you can bear
Just call me up
‘Cause I will always be there
And I see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful
May you find and let your “true colors” shine!
Blessings and all good,
P.S. The image at the top of this blog was created from a photograph of our granddaughters coloring art on a window. Kay and Freya’s coloring on the window was a fury of multiple colors and I took it a bit farther 🙂
Photograph of the Week
I took this image during a walk on Sunset Beach which is between Moclips and Pacific Beach, Washington. Very dramatic sky to say the least!

Saved By Beauty

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“The world will be saved by beauty” Fyodor Dostoevsky

I read this quote in a book about the life of Dorothy Day . I understand it was her favorite quote. Although, I have not concluded reading this book, I can say from what I have read, she was truly a very special person. What stands out so far for me about her, is her burning heart of action for those that were marginalized in society. She was a woman of words (she was a journalist and author) but she also was a woman of action. She was a social justice advocate and political radical for change to the systems that enslave others. She paid for it, though, with beatings and jail time, but she persevered. I would say she lead a “beautiful life”. Her beauty was deep.

I was thinking about beauty and how we use the word in our language.  The first image I get when I hear the word, is the beauty we find in nature (like this photo at the top of this blog, from Costa Rica). As I mentioned, in the past, walking the Camino de Santiago, we enjoyed a lot of beautiful sunrises, as we walked across Spain (we had to get up before dawn many times to assure we could make our day’s destination). A beautiful sunrise or sunset can do wonders for us, it lifts our spirits and we feel instantly better in almost every case. It is something innate in all of us, I believe.

So, if I think of beauty in this way, something that lifts our spirits and makes us and others feel better, then maybe beauty can indeed save the world. I know there was an amazing beauty in Dorothy Day’s life. She lifted the spirits of those that were downtrodden in society and she was a strong advocate for changes to the “systems” that pushed them and kept them down. She was beauty.

We see beauty all around us in those caring for others who just need a little help. We can be beauty in how we treat each other. We can lift the spirits of others by what we say and do. We can be beauty, too!

Blessings and all good,


Photograph of the Week

The World will be Saved by Beauty

Ok, so I saved my best for the last, this photograph is from a sunset in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. A true beauty!


Listening to our Inner Life

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“One of the elements of what makes a person extraordinary, I have come to believe, is when their inner and outer lives are in accord.”

This quote is from a book I am reading on the life of Dorothy Day, written by her granddaughter. The quote seemed to catch my eye and I wrote it down as it seemed like something that I wanted to think about more. A short while later while on our airplane ride to Costa Rica, I had a chance to watch the movie “Wonder Woman”, that was released last year. It is amazing to me, how often I will have a new insight or understanding come to me several times in different ways, usually near in time to each other.

That is why I titled my blog this week, “Listening to our Inner Life”. It is important to take the time in our busy lives to “ponder” and and “think more deeply”. This as I have said, is the one of the greatest benefits that Terri and I found in walking the Camino de Santiago. Lots of time for thinking more deeply.

Getting back to the Wonder Women movie, though, the insight I had was how Wonder Women  was a true heroine and did extraordinary deeds because she was true to herself in that she did not let the dangers she faced or the opposition and ridicule she encountered keep her from living out her purpose that she was created for in the first place. I believe that when we are living out of our deep inner purpose, we indeed can do extraordinary things.

We have been made for a purpose and we are on a journey in our lives to undercover it so that we can align our “inner and outer lives” and do great things. I leave you with another quote from a book called “Perfectly Yourself (discovering God’s dream for you) by Matthew Kelly. It is a good one for us to think about.

“We can become so preoccupied with what we have and we do we lose sight of who we are and what we are becoming.” 

Blessings and all good,


P.S. The image at the top of the blog was created from a photograph I took on a beach walk in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. I loved the heart shape of the rock formation I found and thought it was perfect for this blog article.

Photograph of the Week

Patterns of Nature

Ok, I know that my last blog “Photograph of the Week” was of trees but they are so darn much fun for me to photograph. My eye goes to them all the time. This is from a tree in Costa Rica. Costa Rica had some awesome trees!



Natural Rhythm – Stay in Sync

170105-Lake Stevens-10We are heading off, at the end of this week, to Costa Rica. Our son, Matt, is getting married on a beach in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. We have done a lot of preparation and planning for this trip. The wedding will be in a very different climate, environment and culture that it will make it a truly unique and memorable experience.

One interesting thing about Costa Rica is that it is near the equator, and the length of the days and nights are evenly distributed. The sun rises and sets at around 6am and 6pm each day, year round.

This past year the Nobel prize for Medicine was awarded to three scientist for their discoveries about how internal clocks and biological rhythms govern human life. Here is how one article, I read, summarized this research.

“Life’s tough when everything’s out of sync”

The research points to the fact that  being good to our natural rhythms improves daily physiological and psychological function — and ultimately short- and long-term health. Reducing the wear and tear on our internal clock keeps it fresh, and robust.

It is interesting to note that with few exceptions, all organisms on the planet follow a circadian clock. From daffodils to sparrows, zebras to humans, everything under the sun follows the pattern of the sun.  The rising and the setting of the sun is still the primary influence on circadian rhythms.

Walking the Camino, one certainly gets into the natural rhythm of the day and night, as our rituals varied very little and we were very much in tune with the rising of the sun and its setting. I am curious what a few weeks stay in Costa Rica will do for helping us stay in natural rhythm, as we very much will be in tune with the sun rising and setting.

We all can make lifestyle changes and they can be a great gift to ourselves. Keeping in sync with our natural rhythms (e.g. when we go to bed and wake, when we eat and stop eating) and they are all part of keeping our circadian rhythms in sync and have great health benefits it turns out.

Let’s all stay in sync this year!

Blessings and all good,


Photograph of the Week

Look Up and Behold

Winter has come to the mountains and I have had a chance to spend a little time out on the Mountain Loop Highway, with my good hiking buddy, Bob Maier. I have found the some of the more interesting images are found when we look up and all around as we hike, while, watching our steps, of course, 🙂


Consume and Criticize or Create and Bless

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“Unsolicited advice is just criticism”

I heard a podcast this past week on criticism that I made an impression on me and I have done a bit of soul searching as to how it might apply to my life. I guess I have to admit I am guilty of this undesirable behavior. I love to consume information on a variety of  subjects that I find interesting to me (e.g. autonomous vehicles,  artificial intelligence/robotics, blockchain, social media addictions, etc) and then I go around giving my unsolicited advice to anyone who will listen. Although I had good intentions, I now see it was not really helpful at all.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and unsolicited advice is the mortar.

Oh, those darn unintended consequences.

It is so easy to be the critic and yet so hard to be the one that creates something and blesses others with it. It takes positive energy to create something that blesses others and I realize now that simply passively consuming and criticizing takes little energy and tends be more destructive of others.

I find that taking time out to pause and think, with a good dose of silence, is a good recipe for creativity and blessing. I am more likely to emerge from this period ready to create and find ways to bless others. In the long silence of the Camino walk, I found lots to time to think and came out of it very inspired to try new things. Certainly, the encouragement I received from everyone after I got home to continue writing this blog, is a good example. It continues to be a creative outlet to for me and I believe it has blessed many of you.

Let’s take this opportunity as we gather together with our family and friends at Christmas, to spend some quiet time thinking and generating some creative ways that we can bless others. I for one am going to try and focus on this approach rather than being the one that is providing unsolicited advice!

Blessings and all good,


Photograph of the Week

Manzanita Evening Glow

I created this image in the past week from a photograph taken during our annual family getaway weekend to Manzanita Beach this past March. I love the way this image makes me feel. I feel calm and soothing and hopeful. Not sure why just do.

P.S. Image used at top of the blog I created from a hike this past week to Whistle Lake up near Anacortes. I threw a rock into the lake to capture the concentric circle waves and it seems so perfect to use for this blog now.

No Neutral State

We can never be morally neutral, either we are growing in virtue or falling into vice.  We never have the luxury of simply being in some neutral, holding state. There’s no moral neutrality.  Either we are growing in virtue or sliding into virtue’s opposite. That’s true for all of life. A thing is either growing or it’s regressing.

I thought this might be a good quote to post to start this blog. It certainly gets one’s attention. It really speaks to an important aspect of living a full and happy life that has real meaning, it seems to me. We can not stay stuck in neutral, so to speak.

The physical and emotional struggle of walking the Camino de Santiago is the constancy of the walk. There was no neutral state, you had to keep moving (or at least that is they way we did the Camino). We were moving most everyday of the walk. Going ever farther away from the starting point of the walk and moving closer each day, to Santiago de Compostela, our final stop of our walk.

Like the Camino walk, we are also on a journey in our lives heading toward our final destination. I believe we must be committed in our life to continuous growth in the virtues (Humility, Generosity, Chastity, Kindness, Meekness, Temperance and Diligence). See there is no neutral state, so if you are not working to grow these virtues you will be moving away from these virtues and into an unhealthy state of being that is full of oneself with little concern for others. I know that not everyone may agree with this but for me it seems to ring true. If we all strived to live these virtues, what a beautiful world this would be! So much heartache and sorrow comes to us from not striving to these great virtues.

But the fact is, that growing in the virtues does not come without focus and effort and grace. I don’t become an pilot because I love to fly in an airplane. I have to have the desire but more importantly I have to put in the work to get to the point where I can be certified as a pilot. So just desiring to be more virtuous is not going to work for us either. Just desiring to walk the Camino does not get you to Santiago.

So I am challenging myself and all of you to also take the virtues as a measuring stick. Where do I need to grow more in virtue?

Blessings and all good,

Photograph of the Month

God’s Hole

This image was taken during a car ride home from a hike/photography trip to the Skagit/Chuckanut Mountains. My friend, Bob’s son, Karl, refers to the mystical opening of the clouds and rays of light shining through as a “God Hole”.


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“Don’t travel with anyone who expects you to be interesting all the time. On a long journey there are bound to be some boring stretches.” Daniel Berrigan

Walking the Camino, we certainly experienced some very long boring parts of our walk across Spain. One of the keys to walking this long walk was to recognize the value of ritual to our daily routine. Regardless of how we felt we followed a daily ritual to hold us together.

We arose before dawn, dressed, washed our face, brushed our teeth, applied our sunscreen and began walking. We found our morning coffee and snack as soon as we could and then we were off again. We would look forward to getting off our feet for lunch and then it was off for our afternoon walking till we reached our destination for the night. Once we hit the Albergue, we would wash our clothes, take a shower, blog and journal, and then we were off to dinner and bed. This was our ritual.

It turns out the ritual can be very important to our health and well being it seems. Ritual practice keeps us doing the things we should be doing even though we don’t feel like it. Children crave routine and ritual. It is really vital to their health. We have sure been reminded of this as we care for our two grandchildren each week. Sticking to “the routine” keeps them happy and healthy. You see we can not live our lives by feelings alone. Feelings are like the weather and are always changing, we need ritual to hold us together, to contain us.

“Be wary of anyone who in the name of psychology, love, or spirituality tells you that ritual is empty and you must rely on your energy, mood, and feelings as your guiding compass. They won’t carry you far.” Fr Ron Rolheiser

So I say, embrace the ritual. Having trouble with an area of your life you want to get control over and help you become the best version of yourself. Begin a new ritual that will help you to get it under control. I have seen that the more discipline I apply in my life to increase my healthy rituals, the happier I am. Give it a try!

Blessings and all good,


Photograph of the Week

New and Growing

I created this image from a photograph taken during walk across Spain. We came across a number of newly planted forests on our walk. I loved the repeated patterns of the trees and they attracted my attention with the interesting lighting as well. I have to say this came out even better than I thought. I really love image. I need to get this one printed up!

Life Is A Sacred Journey

Life is a sacred journey

“Your life is a sacred journey. It is about change, growth, discovery, movement and transformation. . . . It is continuously expanding your vision of what is possible, stretching your soul, teaching you to see clearly and deeply, helping you to listen to your intuition.”  Mother Janet Erskine Stuart

I read this quote today and just thought it was one of the best quotes for life I have read in some time. The kind one should print out and put on the bathroom mirror to read each morning. It contains some great wisdom for us all.

I like the part about life being a journey. That certainly goes with this blog, I started writing over 3 years ago now!!! Our long Camino pilgrim walk parallels so much of life. It has a beginning and a “Telos” (Greek for end or the ultimate objective) and the walk  from the beginning to the end of our life is our “sacred journey”. Our journey in life is all about change, growth, discovery, movement and transformation. We certainly experienced that on our long walk as it did indeed cause us to grow and change and had a lot of movement and transformation!

In fact, I am going through a period of change and growth and discovery in my life. I began when I committed more time (twice daily) of being quiet and listening in my prayer life and it has propelled me forward to new areas of growth on “my sacred journey”. I had been feeling for some time that I wanted to doing more with my technical skills and passion for adult faith formation at more parish Church. I had lots of ideas and directions but then it all just came together at the just the right time. I am so energized and ready for the growth and change and discovery it is bringing to me and our parish Church.

I encourage you also to take time to quiet your mind and listen. It is part of our sacred journey to listen and respond when you feel called to new directions of growth and discovery.

Blessings and all good,


Photograph of the Week

Soaring for Growth and Change

Ok, I must declare right up front that this image is a double exposure! On a recent fall trip to the Skagit to see the snow geese that have just arrived for the winter, I saw this wonderful sky. I captured it knowing that it might make a wonderful background to put with the snow geese once captured images of them flying. It turned out way better than I thought it would!

I decided to title this image to align with this blog as it fits so perfectly.

P.S. The photograph at the top of this blog is also a double exposure I took on the same trip to the Skagit and works well with the blog as well.

Mind The Gap

Mind-The-Gap-final“Mind the Gap” is an audible or visual warning phrase issued to rail passengers to take caution while crossing the horizontal, and in some cases vertical, spatial gap between the train door and the station platform.

I was thinking about this warning sign recently, when I came across a great podcast that was talking about the times we live in and how we are avoiding the “gap times” of our lives by filling them in with distractions (mostly by looking at our phones). The “gap times” that that I am talking about, are those times of our lives where we are in a “wait state”, for example, like waiting in line at the grocery store or at a restaurant. These “gap times” are important and we might want to consider paying attention to them. We might want to “mind our gap” times better.

So, what am I getting at here? We are fast becoming a society where we are customizing and individualizing every moment of of lives. The mobile technology of the smart phone and tablets have created a situation where we can fill up every gap moment of our lives with exactly what we want and thereby we avoid any real personal contact with others and the world. We are isolating ourselves from those around us and escaping to our individualized life.

There is a strong addictive quality to the technology of our times and it is quite easy for us to fall into the trap of filling in every spare moment of our life with it. God forbid, that we did not have anything to read or view, we might be bored. Yikes, that would be awful.

Walking the Camino, Terri and I had lots and lots of time to be “bored”. We had plenty of time of walking together in silence, which allowed us time to really think and observe the beauty of our surroundings. We also had some wonderful conversations with each other and with our fellow pilgrims. Terri and I still treasure this special time together and the our time of “thinking uninterrupted”.

One thing I learned from the podcast that I mentioned, is we are most creative in our thinking when we experience times of “boredom” (uninterrupted time to think). How often have you got a great idea or solved a problem you faced, when you were in the shower or taking a walk. Our “gap times” are important to our creativity and we need to make sure we don’t avoid them or run from them.

I have a confession to make to you. I am writing this blog as much for you as for me. I am terrible at “minding the gap” of my life. I love the technology we have at our fingertips with a smart phone, but at the same time I am realizing I need to take more control back. To discipline myself to mind my gap times. If this is something you also recognize as an area of your life that needs attention, then I encourage you also to find a way to mind your gap times and experience real life with yourself and others.

Blessings and all good,


Photograph of the Week


This image was taken during a hike at Obstruction Point in the Hurricane Ridge area. I selected this image as it seemed to resonate with the theme of this blog, when we are filling all our “gap times” we isolate ourselves more and more. This image gives me a feeling of isolation and aloneness.