C minus (almost) 3 but who is counting…why am I posting ridiculous things about Maryhelen?

My  friend  Maryhelen has posted some unusual happenings as of late. A skunk attack while she was hiking, an uninvited bear visit to the community of Fossil. These give me fodder for fun. You see,  Maryhelen and have shared some interesting and challenging  life events. And we have a mutual history  going back to our childhood  that was not identified until we were adults.  Some of the history of our friendship has been based in deeply spiritual encounters, and some has been etched into our lives as  pure mischievous, practical jokes and play, not to exclude water fights and a pink bunny squirt gun.
When I saw the Facebook picture of the “league of adventurous women” my imagination started running wild. The fodder became fuel.   I remember a card Maryhelen sent me picturing a woman trick rider at a rodeo in maybe the 1920’s.  From that time on I thought of us as the “Godmothers of the Rodeo.” There was a trip to Seaside when, upon  discovering the bar at the Shilo Inn was closed because of a special visitor, a  certain Tricia did a sheik imitation and Maryhelen and I were her bodyguards.  Flying out of Rome in first class on Air Aitalia we chose to rewrite the script to the “Three Musketeers” movie and annoy the passengers who paid for first class with our hysterical storyline.  

Life connections come  through many different avenues. I had just met Maryhelen through Diosesean church activities when we saw each other at her “aunt” and my “godmothers ” funeral in Walla Walla. Loretta often mentioned taking me to Fossil to ride Arabian horses with her nieces. So it took me until October 1994 to trailer my paint horse to the Dusty Saddle Ranch and ride with Maryhelen, mounted on a grey Arabian, probably a descendent of the horses she and her sisters rode as kids.

Sitting on the steps outside the church in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina, the church of St James, we shared deep personal stories of giving, receiving and letting go. We joined thousands of people from around the world kneeling in prayer so powerful that some souls were physically overcome as Satan left them kicking and screaming in the losing battle against the Holy Spirit. 

We walked daily from our lodging in a visionary’s home to the church of St James, praying and playing.

And in a few days we will walk on another path, west towards the Cathedral of St James. We will walk as far as Maryhelen has time.  And then, another year she will return to sit on the steps of church of St James. Santiago de Compostela.

I laughed hysterically looking for the pictures of the wing walking women. It took my mind away from wondering which clothes to discard in order to make my pack lighter or if i calculated the correct amount of medications I would need for the trip. Or if I was going to really catch the commuter flight into Pendleton after flying  Madrid to Frankfurt to Portland and going through customs and passport control.  

Laughter is so good for the soul. It washes away anxieties and fears and worries of our ineptness. Thanks Maryhelen for allowing me to poke some fun at you.  It’s all pure fun. You know I’m not actually a crazed lunatic setting you up to do rolls in a crop duster. And I know that if I ever was to reach a breaking point, you would put me back together with duct tape and bailing string and all would be well.

Wednesday Thursday and then Friday we fly.

C minus 6 But who is counting.

The last couple of weeks I have met many new Camino friends.  Women who set out solo or in pairs to walk the same path of the Camino Frances in early September have made connections with each other through Buddy System on the Camino,  APOC and the Portlandia Chapter of APOC.   Interesting how you can start online conversations trying to figure out which train to take because none seem to go where you want to go, or you make a post on  someones question about toe socks and end up feeling like life long friends.  I wonder if I will come across the walkers I’ve met online. They hail from Victoria BC, Saint Paul, MN, Vancouver, WA, Portland, OR, Australia and places I have forgotten.  Who will I meet in Paris,  Bayonne, Saint Jean Pied de Port, Ronscesvailles, Pamplona or other points along the way. The people, that is what the Camino has become for me.Their stories.  What they will carry.  What they will leave at  home.  What they will leave on the Camino,  And what makes their hearts beat.

A friend I actually met on the Camino in 2012 is  walking this fall.  ,,, Jennifer de la Riva…. a different path.  In response to her blog post tonight I wrote this…

The pilgrim paths I tread have felt the pounding of millions of heart beats. From ancient times to present days the rhythms remain unchanged.  Fast heartbeats when the path leads to acceleration and quick change and heavy heartbeats when the path leads to slow discernment.   The heartbeats  intertwine and murmur their secrets until they are known by all the Ways to Santiago.   Your Way knows mine.  My Way knows yours.   We walk different paths yet share the same Way,,, heartbeats of the Camino de Santiago.  I will carry your intentions in my heart.

I will carry you all in my heart.

My designated walking buddies are:

I will try to interview them for their perspectives on walking the Camino de Santiago.

C minus 9 but who is counting Are you prepared to walk the camino?

Its so quiet in the house right now.  Luke and I stopped at Starbucks on the way to his first day as a junior in high school.  We parked the big pickup in the far parking lot and I watched him walk away, his University of Oregon backpack hanging squarely on  his broad shoulders and his head down, eyes lost in his phone, looking for the right music to keep calm. He was very nervous this morning.  About 4 inches taller and 30 pounds heavier than he walked out the high school doors last spring…he looks like a grown man, yet he is just  a big kid.  I said the usual momma prayers, keep him safe from all evil, help him focus and let  him be a strong and righteous young man…send him to good teachers who connect with him.  Let security and safety prevail over this school building….

Earlier, I got up and went to morning mass.   Luke was awake and getting dressed.  I said “Luke, I am going to Mass this morning to honor my mom.  She died 25 years ago today.”  He looked up at me and sincerely said “oh. I am sorry mom”.  Those who know Luke will realize what a breakthrough statement he just made. My heart is still crying.

The house will be quiet when I am gone to Spain.  Luke will go to school each day.  Charlie will start his day with morning Mass and then go about his community service work and the small jobs he does to make extra change. I wonder, do  houses get lonely? 

In this quiet I am thinking about the Camino.  9 days until Paris.  All the tickets are bought, reservations made up to Pamplona.  I have everything ready in my pack.  I could walk out the door right now.

What I am pondering now is another kind of preparation.  Beyond the physical planning, the purchasing of clothing, weighing the pack, scheduling, hiking, weightlifting, trying on different shoes…

Am I spiritually ready?  I am emotionally prepared?  Am I mentally toughened?  Do I have personal discipline to follow through?

Walking for hours on end…some of that time is spent talking and singing.  There is also alot of quiet time.  Time that is not filled with all the noise that fills your  head at home. You will think about alot of “things”.  Those things that need to be kept will be kept.  Those things that need to be left behind will be left.  They will be trodden into the Camino by thousands, maybe millions of footsteps, just as you walk now  on the sorrows, pains, tragedies left behind by the thousands, maybe millions of pilgrims who have walked before you.

I first walked the Camino Frances 4 years after my diagnosis with Parkinson’s Disease.  It was on the Meseta, on a very hot day, on our 25 wedding anniversary, that I yelled at God and let my anger loose for giving me this disease. And God yelled back.  “Look where you are!  Look what you are doing.”  And I left the anger there for other Pilgrims to trod so deeply into that soil that it will never return.  And God has allowed me to keep walking, and cycling and moving.

Such a range of emotions.
 I copied this from someones blog, and I am sorry I don’t remember who to give them credit.

Prepare for the unpreparable-for. You will cry and scream and shout and hate people, things and trees.  You will rail against the world, yourself, your shoes and your pack (but never your stick).  You’ll be jealous, petty, hungry, thirsty, furious, ecstatic, joyful, silly, sick, stupid, inane and perfect.  You’ll be intensely involved with the intricate workings and changes in your own body and you’ll be thrown up against a wide variety of people from all over the world.  You’ll essentially be given a crash course in what it means to be human. Enjoy the hell out of it.

You can’t be prepared for everything.  But you can be open.  Keep and leave.  Give, and be willing to receive.

Novena in honor of the Holy Feet of Jesus

Novena in Honor of the Holy Feet of Jesus

Day One – With Mary and Joseph we adore the Infant Feet of Jesus (Lk. 2: 8-19)

Beloved Jesus, your infant feet, cared for and adored by Mary and Joseph, were a visible sign of your innocence and purity. May we strive always to imitate your innocence and purity. As we adore your Holy Feet, may your merits win for us the requests we make to the Father in your name. (Make requests here.)

Holy Feet of Jesus we kiss you and adore you. 

(Pray the Our Father ten times.)

Day Two – The Holy Feet of Jesus bridge Heaven and Earth (Jn. 1: 14)

Beloved Jesus, your Holy Feet were the living bridge between Heaven and Earth. Each step you took sanctified and cleansed the world you came to save. May we be filled with unending gratitude for this amazing grace. We adore your Holy Feet as we make our requests with confidence in your saving love. (Make requests here.)

Holy Feet of Jesus we kiss you and adore you. 

(Pray the Our Father ten times.)

Day Three – The Holy Feet of Jesus carry the Good News to the poor (Mt. 11: 4-5)

Beloved Jesus, how your Holy Feet suffered as they trod the hot and dusty roads of the Holy Land to bring the Good News to the poor. May we imitate your untiring devotion in spreading the Gospel message. As we adore your Holy Feet, so battered for our sake, may you look with kindness upon our requests. (Make requests here.)

Holy Feet of Jesus we kiss you and adore you. 

(Pray the Our Father ten times.)

Day Four – Jairus falls at the Holy Feet of Jesus to make his request (Mk. 5: 22-43)

Beloved Jesus, you had mercy on Jairus who fell at your Holy Feet and made supplication to you for the life and health of his daughter. In your mercy you rewarded his faith and answered his prayer. May you look with mercy on us also as we fall at your Holy Feet to make our requests in faith and trust. (Make requests here.)

Holy Feet of Jesus we kiss you and adore you. 

(Pray the Our Father ten times.)

Day Five – Mary sits at the Holy Feet of Jesus listening to him (Lk. 10: 38-42)

Beloved Jesus, you told Martha that her sister Mary had chosen the “better part” in choosing to sit at your feet and listen to you. Like Mary, may we always choose the better part. As we sit at your Holy Feet to listen to you and worship you, may you look on our requests with love and compassion. (Make requests here.)

Holy Feet of Jesus we kiss you and adore you. 

(Pray the Our Father ten times.)

Day Six – A woman kisses the Holy Feet of Jesus (Lk. 7: 36-50)

Beloved Jesus, this woman bathed your Holy Feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. She covered your feet with kisses and anointed them with costly oil. May we also show you great love in gratitude for all we have been given and forgiven. With confidence and trust in your great love for us, we humbly make our requests to you today. (Make requests here.)

Holy Feet of Jesus we kiss you and adore you. 

(Pray the Our Father ten times.)

Day Seven – The Holy Feet of Jesus are nailed to the cross (Mk. 15: 25)

Beloved Jesus, you allowed your Holy Feet to be nailed to the cross out of love for us. You allowed your precious blood to spill to the earth from the wounds made by the nails. Give us the courage we need to stand at the foot of the cross–with our Blessed Mother and St. John–and kiss your Holy Feet. May the precious blood shed from your Holy Feet win for us the requests we humbly make today. (Make requests here.)

Holy Feet of Jesus we kiss you and adore you. 

(Pray the Our Father ten times.)

Day Eight – The disciples embrace the Holy Feet of the risen Lord (Mt. 28: 1-10)

Beloved Jesus, you met the disciples on the road after you had risen from the dead. In love and joy they embraced your Holy Feet and paid you homage. May we also worship you as Lord and Savior, embracing your Holy Feet. In your infinite mercy, please take our requests to the Father whose glory you share. (Make requests here.)

Holy Feet of Jesus we kiss you and adore you. 

(Pray the Our Father ten times.)

Day Nine – God puts all things under the Holy Feet of Jesus (1 Co. 15: 25)

Beloved Jesus, your reign will last until you have placed all your enemies under your Holy Feet. May our prayers and sacrifices hasten the day of your coming in glory. Risen Lord, merciful King, look with favor on our requests and grant them according to your holy will. (Make requests here.)

Holy Feet of Jesus we kiss you and adore you. 

(Pray the Our Father ten times.)

I put on my boots today updated Aug 23, 2015

I put on my boots today updated Aug 23, 2015

Reaching into my closet with my good arm while  the rest of my body was squeezed between the rocking chair and the closet door may not have been the greatest idea. I was stiff and hurting if not from the Parkinsons Disease which is progressing  through  my body, then the 30 minutes on the bicycle trainer at 80 rpm or higher.  I wanted my boots, my hiking boots. But I was getting myself stuck. I put them on once a few months ago then hid them away where I could not see them, under the  sweaters and blouses hung there in hopes I will be able to fit in them again.  The boots called to me, “Come wear me”. “Walk me over hills, through vineyards and on the hard pavement and cracked sidewalks of city streets.” The insides felt so familiar to my feet.  I needed to be reminded of that comfortable supportive feeling.  The smoothness of the custom orthotics took away the tingling in the bottoms of my feet.  So thats where they had been,those orthotics, hiding with my boots. These nice Keen boots that had protected my feet while  walking on the GR 65, the Chemin le Puy from Montcuq, France to Ronscevailes Spain in the spring of 2013.  I had very few blisters wearing these Keens.   Do they have another go round left in them?  Do I ?

It turns out that the old friends are too worn.  They helped my body get through all that mud on GR 65 in 2013 and the wonderful mud, as (facial mudd is supposed to do,) closed up the pores (in this case the breathability pores in the boot membranes). I need to move on to a new pair.  
Will the new blue made in USA Keens be the ones? Will they provide as good as  “understanding” as the old ones.  Will they reveal to me their heart and sole?  Will they say “Don’t tread on me” when someone with large feet gets too close. My boots need to commit to my feet.  

 Boots are such a personal thing…you can’t go out and buy them for another person.  The new blue Keens and I are dating.  If they dont work out in some training hikes they can be returned. 

My Update:The new blue Keens have a place in my life. Not sure when I will turn to them again.  Due to a number of reasons I now sweat like crazy.  My feet were coming out of those Keens  feeling like I just stepped out of a bucket of water.  So I revisited REI and found these HOKAs. They feel cushy and they allow my feet to breath so that the toe sock liners wick the moisture away to the next layer, my thin to medium weight hiking socks!   Hurray.  I am set!! WillHurray.  I am set!!

C minus 14 but who is counting…trying my stuff out.

When I was a little girl, coming home from shopping meant trying everything on again to show dad. Today was my  “try it on day”.  So, Dad what do you think?

It’s important to me to know what Dad thinks. Shortly before he passed away in December Dad reminded me. “Carol do what you want to do while you can.  Don’t wait and then have regrets”.  

I take those words to heart and put them into action. Glad for his blessing  I keep dreaming, planning, adventuring.  In this race against time I am a head in front of Mr Parkinsons.  Coming down the backstretch I hope to beat him by lengths.
Trying stuff out.  
Everything I take on the Camino has to be tried and true. So there has been need to replace some of my travel gear.  Shopping online is such fun!! Waiting for the goods is not.

The woman who delivers the mail has been bringing me lots of packages.  She makes me happy. I’ve excitedly met her at the door or in the driveway or I have even scrambled out to greet her at the road. 

I gleefully take the package and sing ” it’s Christmas again it’s Christmas again.”  She is a friendly person and smiles and laughs with me but probably wonders. Today I happened  to be out by the mailbox when she pulled in with the package from Amazon. Retuning  from my practice hike  I am wearing  new clothes, my full  pack, with trekking poles in hand and dripping sweat.  She doesn’t eask.  Do postal workers have a code of ethics?  Are they sworn to secrecy.? Did they take a vow  of a confidentiality?   Yesterday I missed her delivery of my daily package. Stuffed iin the mailbox was an REI envelope containing  bargains  from the outlet: A new Sahara shirt and a base layer top  Oh do I love new things.   Thank you postal worker .

A little about today’s walk
My clothes from my pack were spread all over. On the Camino I will need to be better about keeping things in their place.   The items were easily stuffed  back  inside and maybe ended up where they actually belong.  Socks and boots are no question  for me.  I am set there.  Yet I need to consider how long it takes to do any taping and get the toe socks on. No issues with my trekking poles.  I decided to try out a selfie stick.  though I  not sure I’m going to take it. It was kind of fun to figure it out. I filled a big water bottle and stuck it in the proper pocket and didn’t even make me off balance ( which tells me something  else is off balance in my pack.)  

Off I went across the street, down the sidewalk, past the hospital and up the Butte.  The Butte is the only hill around here.  Inside ithe basalt dome is the city’s water tank.  It’s more if asthetic  now that ithey took the ugly reservoir off the top and buried it there in the basalt. The Butte is covered with trails. some with  pretty steep pitches and others are just gentle grades. Today I walked over as fast as I could and took several of the grades up and down especially “down” where I realized I haven’t been doing enough down because going down my knees started a litany of complaints. Ignoring the pain,   I hauled back home quite fast. 
I’m sprawled out on my bedroom floor again, resting. This time I’m not leaving a huge puddle outlining my sweaty body. Immediately upon entering the house my boots were removed.  Sweaty hiking clothes were peeled off.  I walked directly into the shower.  Clean and cool now it feels good to be sprawled out.  

My mom once told me the world is the biggest classroom. Travel and learn.  My dad encouraged me to go now when I can, while  I am physically and mentally able.  
Travel enriches me on so many different levels.  But what about the Parkinson’s?  What about the back pain.?  
 I can and do have the same issues wherever I am in the world.  So why not travel? 
Two weeks from today I will fly to Paris!

C minus 17, but who is counting

Getting up off the bedroom floor and looking down at the carpet I see the complete shape of my body. It’s an outline left from my sweat. I would have drowned in that pool if the carpet had not  been there to soak it up!

Just a few minutes before,  I came in from the walk and plopped down on the couch.  Both hands were tremoring.  And I mean TREMORING!  I called to Charlie.  “Come here, you have got to see this!”  He took a look and said “Oh yeah. Look at that.  Remember you have just put a big strain on your body.  It was really hot out there. Cool off and rest”. I managed to remove my boots and socks and stagger a few steps before collapsing on the bedroom floor. The walk was the fastest I’ve walked 5 miles, I am sure of  it.  I didn’t have my backpack on thank goodness!   It was enough to be out in the almost 90° weather walking  on sidewalks, roads and a paved path. I learned from bicycling that  heat  generates up from black top. In addition to the 90° air temperature that makes over  hundred degrees walking. Add to that,  I woke up this morning with a terrific headache. Charlie and I talked about being able to have the discipline to keep moving toward our goals in adverse conditions and today’s walk was a great example of it. I am TOUGH!

About three years ago I joined the pilgrims of the Portlandia chapter of the American Pilgrims on the Camino for one of their Sundays strolls. Even with my trekking poles I was so slow  that I fell way behind the entire group.  Pilgrim Robin had the “sweep up” role on the hike.  She and I visited about our camino experiences as the dust settled from the other pilgrims ahead of us.   I was slow, uncoordinated and in pain.

This past  Sunday my friend  Carol and I joined the Portlandia group for the third Sunday stroll and the “shells ceremony”. This lovely tradition is a  blessing from past pilgrims to the new pilgrims who will be walking the Camino within the next month. Two things were especially meaningful to me as I shared this experience with the 60 plus pilgrims gathered. First,  to be able to walk unassisted with a strong pace near the front of the group while carrying on a conversation amazed me.  For two miles I easily navigated speedy straightaways,  tight switchbacks, traverses up and down  steep creek-bed banks. Wow! I’m sure that no one else  could understand what it meant to me to be able to move with such agility.The ear to ear grin may have been seen yet not questioned.  At first  I held this other picture in my mind, the one of the slow pilgrim disabled by Parkinson’s Disease. This walk greatly diminished that image.
Secondly,  I was touched to receive a blessing from people who have walked before us  and who will be walking with us on the Camino in their hearts.I will carry the new shell for them.

As Charlie and I left the driveway of  our  house this morning I recalled the time  I just started to walk again.  I walked out the front door  to the mailbox and back.  Next time I walked out door, I made it across the street. Then  I made it to the sidewalk and down to the next driveway, out  the corner of the street, to the hospital and back around the hospital and back of the Butte. And before too long I was up and down the Butte three times in a row.

There’s no putting a price tag on these experiences.  There is no measure of  my gratefulness.

Charlie and I talked more about discipline. The discipline to walk when you have a splitting headache. The disciple to walk when recovering from an injury. The disciplie to walk when your body is frozen with Parkinson’s Disease. The discipline to walk even if that means slowly putting 1 foot in front of the other.  Discipline to keep moving. Keep Moving. Keep moving. keep moving. Discipline  and the spirit of determination to fight Parkinson’s as it tries to gain  controll   That’s what keeps us going in life.   You  have to put one foot in front of the other when your heart is broken when your spirit is shattered when you have lost a loved one when your job sucks. Take one little positive action,  one little step at a time, moving forward. Soon the miles are covered, the hardship is overcome and you come to that  place of peace and where you can rest for a while.

 C minus 17 days. The countdown has begun.