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The challenge of taking care of yourself

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Often, major events in life spur us on to even greater challenges.
 
It can be a change in relationships, an illness, retirement, a promotion, or even experiencing the "empty nest" syndrome. If we listen to our inner self and follow up on those instincts, we will usually benefit from the experience. It may be small changes in our lives — taking up a new "hobby," or deciding we have too many "hobbies" and need to slow down. Or, in our quest for peace or fulfillment, we may take on a major challenge, such as the Camino Santiago De Compestela.

One of my friends experienced such a calling after a recent retirement. She had been a very busy professional, working as a nurse for many years. While choosing activities to engage in during her retirement, she discovered a love of walking. Through these walks, she became aware of the Camino — a pilgrimage that takes places in northern Spain. It is not necessary to express any particular religious faith to embark on this journey.

For most of the travellers on the Camino, that is certainly the case. Indeed, it is about developing a greater understanding of themselves. Such self-discovery is an important part of spending time on mindful and reflective travel.  

In preparing for the Walk/Camino/Pilgrimage she read several books and understood the Camino Santiago De Compestela was a religious, sacred and spiritual journey and each person "experienced" it in a unique way at any given moment/day. She was also "committed" to leaving her busy life and overactive mind behind and observing, feeling, and embracing the "present" — moment by moment. This, in many ways, was the bigger challenge. Walking "alone" at a leisurely pace helped her to be self-aware and reflective — and catch her breath!

Whether you take on the Camino or begin a similar journey, it is important for all of us to make time to care for ourselves.  What better time to do this than over the upcoming Christmas season? My wish for you this Christmas season is that you slow down the hectic pace often associated with this season and take some time to "take care of yourself."

Make a cup of hot chocolate, put a log on the fire, and relax with family and friends.

From my family to yours, have a very Merry Christmas and all the best in the New Year.

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