Camino Wisdom ~ Lesson 2: Only carry what you need

PatEducation, Family Caregiving1 Comment

The journey continues…

Having met our Camino Angel we knew we were heading in the right direction.  We continued walking out of town and soon we saw the yellow arrows that mark “The Way”. We were so excited to finally be on the right path – our journey had truly begun!

And as we walked the road gradually began to incline. Now we knew this from our preparation ahead of time. From the maps we read and the advice we got from others who had walked it as well as the reminder from our Camino Angel. This was going to be one of the hardest parts of the walk, climbing up and over the mountain. We were walking along a busy road so we couldn’t walk side by side. So as we walked, Synthia in front and me following right behind the path got steeper and steeper and steeper. And as I followed Synthia something was slowly becoming apparent to me – this was way harder for me then it was for her. Synthia moved at a steady pace – step – step – step – step. I started out trying to match her pace, trying to keep up but was slowly realizing that I couldn’t. While she continued on all the way to the top of the incline and then stopped to rest, I could barely make it half way up without becoming completely winded and needing to stop!

I learned that very first day that I was not very good at going up!

But more importantly, I learned that I needed to slow down and take my time if I was going to continue. Others were walking the same road but not the same way. I had to learn how to find my own pace and walk my own path. Santiago – our destination would be waiting for all of us – even me whenever I got there!

For Caregivers it is the same

Learn to walk your own path

You will find others who are walking the same caregiving path as you but their journey is not the same. At times it may seem that what is easy for others might be more difficult for you. Be careful not to compare yourself to others who are on a similar path. You need to find what works for you, for your unique circumstances, abilities and stamina. Set your own pace, walk you own path. Your journey is unique. Find your own way.

We were prepared…

Our planning and preparation really helped us to know what to pack. Our backpacks were heavy but we carried only what we needed and used ~ there was nothing extraneous. Others were not so careful. Carrying so much more weight then they needed made their walking that much more strenuous. In the places we would stay at night there would be piles of things left by the door. Sometimes it was things that people had forgotten but most of the time it was all of the extra items pilgrims shed to lighten their load. A pilgrim quickly learns what their limits are and to only carry what you need for the day.

Caregivers need to learn do this as well.

Know your limits

Taking on the burden of caregiving is a heavy load so be sure you aren’t carrying anymore then you need. What other activities and commitments are you carrying or taking on and what can you let go of.  Do you need to learn how to say no to those extra responsibilities that are making your burden heavier?

Learn to say no.

Before we left on our journey we knew of a service that would transport your pack to your destination so you wouldn’t have to carry it while you walked. It cost only a few euros and for many people it was the only way they could make the journey. Synthia and I had resisted this idea insisting that we wanted to do it ourselves. But about two weeks into the journey when our blisters were making the walking more challenging we decided to give it a try. We packed a small duffle bag of some of our extra items to send on ahead. It reduced the weight of our packs only by a few pounds each but it was amazing how much easier it made our walking that next day. We still carried a heavy pack every day but we happily took advantage of this extra help!

Caregivers need to learn to do the same.

Let someone help

Sometimes it helps to let others do some of the heavy lifting. And sometimes like some of our fellow pilgrims it was absolutely necessary or they could not have completed the walk. Is there some task, burden or weight that someone else can carry so you can focus on what you need to do? Remember you are still carrying a pretty heavy load but what will make your walking just a little easier?

… the journey continues ~ but until then

~ Buen Camino ~

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