Two days after I finished writing and recording the final lessons and worksheets of the Caregiver School Program I left on my own journey. Walking 400 miles over 31 days through northern Spain on the Camino de Santiago or “The Way”. Even now several months later as my feet have healed and I have returned to my daily routine I am still processing the experience.
The sights I saw everyday, the beauty of the world that surrounded me and the amazing kindness of strangers who became friends. I am still learning how to incorporate the lessons I learned along The Way into my daily life. But even as I walked and especially now I can see the similarities of my journey to the one that you the family caregiver is on or are about to begin. So I thought I’d share some of the lessons I learned along The Way with the hope that this Camino Wisdom will help you on your journey.
On The Camino you always walk alone, even when other pilgrims surround you. Others walk the same path and sometimes along side you but it is so different for each of us. Just like you will meet other caregivers and may walk the same path but your journey is not the same.
Some parts of the walk were easy for me and difficult for others. There were times when I really struggled while others moved ahead quickly. But I had to learn how to find my own pace and walk my own path.
The Way is not always clearly marked and at times I felt very lost and overwhelmed. But then an angel would appear, a person, an arrow painted on a fence or even footprints in the dust to show me the way. Learn to look for your Camino Angels to help you find your way.
At the end of the day I gathered with other pilgrims and we shared our journey. Sometimes that helped and made the walking easier. Sharing tips and strategies we learned how to cope with the challenges we faced. But other times I didn’t want to hear about someone else’s aches and pains when I was struggling with my own. Find the support of other caregivers but know that sometimes you need to walk alone.
Every day there was another hill to climb so I learned how to rest not quit. Some days the walking seemed endless, never knowing when I would reach the top of the hill or how much further I needed to walk that day. But I wasn’t going to go back and I could not stop. So as hard as it was to do some days, I had to just keep walking forward. I did that by just looking down at the space in front of me and putting one foot in front of the other. A good lesson for you to remember on your caregiving journey, learn to rest, then take it step by step and day by day to get through those challenging days.
Over the next several months I’ll continue to share with you some of my Camino Wisdom and hope you find these lessons are
…help for your journey