Happy (belated) Blogiversary to me :)

Once again I have been neglecting my blog and now the 1 year anniversary from my first published post has been and gone – oops!  In my defence I have been rather busy doing things like study, socialise, volunteer with St John, make stuff to sell at markets and things and, of course, not being able to leave the house due to symptom flare-ups.  So all in all a productive month I think!  The dysautonomia stuff is being its usual lovely roller coaster but I am in a much better place with it than I was this time last year.  My medications seem to be helping stabilise it a bit and my cardiologist is, as always, amazing.  I have an exercise physiology session once a week with an awesome group of POTS girls which has proved to be entertaining so far – we have more classes that don’t end in hospital visits than ones that do and there is usually a fair amount of giggling and chattering during exercise.  I know the general theory is if you can talk you’re not exercising hard enough but it’s not that kind of exercise – it’s more pilates based using a reformer and other nifty machines.

But enough of now, this is the time for reflection, for looking back to 1 year ago and seeing where I was, what I was doing and how far I have come from there.  Well I think we can safely say I have travelled quite a distance.  Just over a year ago I read a book, a very inspiring book – a book that made me want to travel across the globe and walk in the footsteps of thousands upon thousands of others throughout the course of history.  In just over one month it will be a year since I got on that plane at Tullamarine bound for Europe and glory in the form of the Camino.  I had no idea what to expect, what wonderful (or otherwise) things would happen, what I would see and experience, what I would learn about both life and myself or who I would meet on the way.  I had been to Paris before so that wasn’t a huge leap, I was meeting up with family so it wasn’t really outside my comfort zone and I had a basic grasp of French (degraded over years of neglect from an intermediate grasp of French!).  The bit that came after would be the challenge.  I was so caught up with the excitement and magnitude of what I was about to attempt that I didn’t really think about what would happen when I was finally on my own – out in the world, in a foreign country whose language (beyond ‘Hola’, ‘Grazias’, ‘Buen Camino’ and ‘donde esta cajero automatico’) I didn’t know.  And how in the hell was I going to walk that far every day?

Some days now I don’t know how I did it, when I can hardly move from fatigue or when I can hardly stand because my heart runs a marathon and my blood pressure slowly gives in to the pull of gravity when I do it seems a bit surreal.  Did I imagine the whole thing?  But no, I was there, I have the mark on my arm and my name on a certificate that I can’t read to prove it.  Prove it to myself and the world so I never forget what I can do, what I have done and trust me, with something as crappy as a chronic illness like dysautonomia you need it.  And I really need to go back to the studio and get it touched up!  Oh, and I also have this picture!

The Camino was life condensed.  You could live a decade in one day – I am still not completely sure how or why but it happened.  You almost need a day of rest and reflection after every day of walking just to take it all in and do it justice.  And for anyone wanting to get a taste of the Camino without leaving home then the movie ‘The Way’ has just come to Australia.  Directed by Emilio Estevez and starring Martin Sheen it is a beautiful story about loss, grief, and really finding yourself in the most unexpected place.  I highly recommend it 🙂
Even though the part that I walked doesn’t actually feature in the movie – it’s been completely skipped over which is frustrating!  And sad as Galicia was beautiful in the spring, but I guess when you have over 800km to chose from you can’t have it all in the movie!

Better get back to work – I have a stall at an awesome market tomorrow and need to get some stuff finished!  It’s ‘Worn Wild’ – the alternative fashion market that comes to Melbourne twice a year.  I am so excited to be part of it this year!  Here’s a flyer – check it out!  And if you’re interested here is the link to my facebook page for my accessories company – Cherry Pie Accessories – which will hopefully be a company soon instead of a hobby!

That’s all from me today
Buen Camino everyone 🙂

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Life is a highway

Firstly I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who has sent me messages of support and a big congratulations to the people who have been inspired to make changes in their lives and do things they’ve always wanted to after reading this.  I don’t really know what my objective was in starting to write this blog but hey, I’ll take inspiring any day!

A few people have asked what the Camino is, what it’s history is and where it is, so here’s a brief summary:
The Camino de Santiago is an old pilgrimage ending at Santiago de Compostela in Spain.  There are a few different routes depending on your starting place.  The one I will be attempting is the Camino Frances, so called because it runs for 800km from St Jean Pied de Port in France to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, I plan to walk 260km of this from Leon to Santiago de Compostela.  There are also trails from portugal and England and alternate trails like the Northern route that runs along the Spanish coast and the Silver route that starts in Seville.  The reason pilgrims were so keen to get to Santiago de Compostela is that the cathedral is believed to be the final resting place of the bones of St James (one of the apostles and father of John).  Another name for the Camino is The Way, or The Way of St James.  The first recorded pilgrimages from the Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela are from around the middle of the 10th century.  3-4 days past Santiago de Compostela lies Finesterre the western-most point of Spain and believed by pilgrims to be the end of the world, apparently it has spectacular sunsets.  In modern times the Camino is often viewed as more of a personal challenge than a religious experience.  More information can be found at Camino de Santiago de Compostela Pilgrimage – a website I have found to be most useful.

Having a bit of trouble with the old brain today so I’m trying hard not to ramble – I suppose the fact that I’ve got another sinus infection and my blood pressure is plummeting below 90 when I stand up again isn’t really helping.  I was supposed to be going in to the city to do a first aid course today but that didn’t happen!  Hopefully I can see the cardiologist today and start on those ‘magical’ new meds, the ones I’m currently taking are helping a bit, but not much.  However I have faith that my body will sort itself out by the time I leave.  Until then I’ll just keep plodding along as I always do!

One great thing about this time of year is that all the outdoors stores are having easter sales to encourage everyone to go camping. Although I can’t fit much more in my pack!  It’s hard to tell which parent I inherited my over-packing from.  My dad decided when we went through a camping phase that he had to have pretty much everything he could find to make it as unlike camping as possible (bar the caravan) and we certainly had the best campsite around.  Packing the car was always tricky and usually ended up with a completely full boot, my brother and I squashed in like sardines with bags at our feet and stacked so high between us we couldn’t see each other and there was the huge bag attached to the roof rack.  Then there’s my mother who recently went to Canberra for 3 nights and had to expand her expandable suitcase – I made her take out the jar of apricot jam.  So there you go I had no hope of escaping that gene!  I even think this time I’m doing pretty well, the last time I went hiking I believe my pack weighed around 20kg (yeah that hurt! but in my defence it had a tent, sleeping bag and sleeping mat in it), so in comparison 6kg + water isn’t so bad!  But I digress; outdoor store sales – I picked up a few good finds yesterday and now only need a pack cover and a water bladder for my pack and I’m done.  It’s all falling in to place.  I have most of my airfares booked and only have to sort accommodation for London and a couple of train fares and I’m done.  I’ve been walking more this week and have bowed to the inevitable – I’m going to need orthotics for my hiking boots, the inserts just aren’t going to cut it and I need my feet for walking!  My trainer has me working on things to help my endurance and walking style, in a few weeks I’m going to be doing PT sessions with my pack on, oh dear…

So my plans are coming along and my itinerary is slowly taking form (and looking awesome if I might add) when it’s all finished I’ll post it up along with relevant maps etc.  I’ve been told I might need to get a new passport due to a bit of damage sustained during a monsoon in Vanuatu earlier this year so I’ll have to get on to that ASAP!  The financial stuff is proving to be a bit tricky, but then again it usually is when planning anything that involves travel from Australia to places further than New Zealand, Asia or the Pacific Islands.  My philosophy is; just do it and if it’s meant to happen it will sort itself out somehow (although you will get a giant stress headache in the process and come home with very little in the bank).  For me ‘somehow’ takes the form of my mother this time and her ridiculous number of ‘altitude points’ that sit there and seem quite useless but can actually be turned into frequent flyer points with a few different airlines and have now given me the means to get home again.  Thanks mum!

My hiking motto is; put your head down and keep moving, you’ll get there eventually no matter how many annoying songs get stuck in your head.  So to aid that process I’m compiling a list of appropriate hiking chants – so far I’ve got: ‘I left my wife in New Orleans with 45 cents and a can of beans (and so on)’ and other appropriate ‘Left, Right songs.  And songs; we are going (heaven knows where we are going etc), I will walk 500 miles (well that one was obvious), Walk this way, On the road again, Life is a highway, Don’t stop me now, I’m on my way and Break my stride.  Suggestions are welcome!  I’ve made a promise to myself that I wont listen to music the whole time and will give myself appropriate thinking space, or time for song choruses to go round on repeat in my head and think up crazy hiking dance moves as I go.  It could be interesting – and that’s where the ankle brace will come in handy!

Ding is very excited that it’s all coming together and is looking forward to his first overseas trip with the kind of enthusiasm you would expect from a bear.  Fortunately he doesn’t take up much room or require space in my bag for his things.  I have the feeling he will be the perfect travel companion; he doesn’t snore, always wants to do what I want to do, wont steal my food (everyone knows that bears like honey not Vegemite) and never asks to borrow money – although I get the feeling he’s a bit of a night animal.  There have been requests for Ding specific photo updates etc along the road and we’re discussing it, he has a bit of trouble holding a camera but I’m sure I can help him out.  Who knows, maybe one day he’ll be as big as Mousey (he’s only a little bear but he has big dreams).

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