Camino de Santiago

Month: January, 2019

Stressed and Tired


We all get stressed out and tired. Terri and I faced this pretty much everyday of our long Camino walk to Santiago. Day after day of walking all day long takes its toll on you. There were many days we arrived at our destination for the night just completely spent and worn out. This level of effort put us under stress both physically and emotionally.

Then upon arriving at our accommodations for the night, we were often in close quarters with many other very tired and stressed pilgrims. This can put more stress on you as you we all are sharing the same limited resources (showers, clothes washing areas, sleeping areas). Emotions can run high and it can be hard to be patient and kind and not fall into being frustrated or rude and angry to others. This is what I wanted to reflect today.

So when I am tired and stressed, what is happening in my brain and how do I behave under this condition?

Here are some of my thoughts:

  • My brain loves efficiency and so the habits I have formed in our brain will tend to be my default behavior when I am under stress
  • The virtues we develop, like, say patience, don’t just happen without the discipline. It takes practice to develop a virtue.
  • Being raised with blessing of parents and teachers to guide me in the time tested values of Christianity has shaped my brain to love the virtues like patience and self control.
  • I also recognize I have a brain that is able to change and build new pathways so I can eventually over time become a more patient person if I truly want this virtue in my life. It is a choice I can freely make.
  • I understand that emotions come like the weather and are NOT bad. I also understand that they I can call them out and I can guide them with my reasoning and faith, much like a loving father with his children.

Did I succeed in being a patient and kind to my fellow pilgrims? Well, I would like to say yes but I would be lying. I do know the success I did have, felt good when I did and drove me to want to do it again.

We are all work in progress and we can really assess how far we have come when we observe how we do when we are tired and stressed. Do I like the way I have behaved? Do I hate the way I behaved? It is good to reflect on our behavior when under stress as it provides us with the measure of our progress on the path to being the “best version of ourselves”.

So, paying attention and listening to our emotions is good. What we do next is what matters most, though.

Blessings and grace,


Photograph of the Week


This is a photograph I captured during our trip to Scotland back in 2016. It is in the Highlands of Scotland a beautiful area of the world and I wish we had more time there. I revisited this image recently to put some “painterly touch” to it.



Our lives are constantly going through transitions. Sometimes we can plan and get ready in advance for a transition in our lives, like moving to a new residence or retiring. But, unfortunately, other transitions come without advance notice, like getting sick or injured. I think, a good way we can approach our transitions in life, is to take time to ponder and reflect on each transition you make.

The Camino walk that Terri and I took was the perfect way to transition from a working life to the retired life. We had a lot of time to ponder and reflect about this next big transition in our lives. We had also done a lot of “spade work” to make sure our retirement went well but it was the long walk that really helped me make this important life transition. It allowed me time to set my mind. I framed my new reality and create my new mindset as a “retiree”.

Other times, in my life though, I have been dealt transitions that were sudden and sometimes hard to take. No one likes to go through loss and grief. Unfortunately, we all face times of transition that hurt.

I have come to recognize that in these times, there is value in taking time to let silence and reflection open up my heart and mind to the change I face.

There is a great quote I read from one of my favorite authors, Henri Nouwen, that speaks well to the importance of taking the time to live and reflect on our losses.

“The great challenge is living your wounds through instead of thinking them through. It is better to cry than to worry, better to feel your wounds deeply than to understand them, better to let them enter into your silence than to talk about them”

I will close this blog post with a poem written by a very dear friend, who wrote this poem after coming to grips with the reality that the hopes and dreams he had for his son were not going to happen now. He took time to ponder and reflect in the face of his loss.

I hope in this New Year this message helps you where ever you are in our life journey!

My New Son

By Bob Maier


I feel so confused, hurt and utterly sad.

The child I thought was mine is gone.


I want to cry.

Cry for the child who will never ask, “Why?”

“Why do the leaves turn red in autumn?”

“Why do I have to go to bed right now?”

“Why are you crying, Daddy?”


Son, what will you be when you grow up?

I once thought you might be a zoologist,

Traveling to exotic places, 

Studying the rare and wonderful animals

You’ve always loved.


When you were less than a year old, sitting


listening to Mommy’s choir sing, 

I dreamt that someday you would be a 

Creator of beautiful music.


My child has been taken from me!

But that can’t be.

He’s here with me now.

He hasn’t changed.

Yet still, I feel as though 

he’s gone.

My child has somehow


The child of my dreams 

and hopes is no



I know these feelings are 

normal and helpful,

that I shouldn’t feel guilty

for having them.

All the experts tell me this.

But it doesn’t help the pain.


Things are getting better now.

The funeral for the child of my expectations is over




Oh, I still visit the cemetery from time to time.

I put Cub Scout caps and grade-school science projects at 

his grave.

But I don’t spend so much time there anymore.


I have another son to love.

The one they call “autistic.”

He’s such a sweet boy.

He’s never mean to anyone,

and he squeezes so

tight when he hugs me.

He loves to dance with his


and he gets such a cute

smile on his face when

he says, “I did it!”


He’s still the same boy who 

Loves monkeys,

Peter Pan, kiwi fruit and

throwing rocks in the 


I’m learning to love my new


and he has always loved 



Photograph of the Week

Snow Lake Majesty

This is a photograph I took in December of 2014 on a beautiful clear and winter day. The hike to Snow Lake at Snoqualmie Pass is a very popular hike but in winter a bit more dangerous with the ice and snow and avalanche danger. We hit it with perfect timing at the lowest avalanche danger and during an extended cold and clear period.