Tortuga – Spanish word for turtle.
When we first started our Camino adventure Colin lovingly, yet sarcastically, called me “Tortuga”. Of course this was in relation to my slow walking. Initially I was quite offended by this “pet name” and Colin quickly got that message. Perhaps it was the evil look I gave him or the not so subtle muttering of harsh words under my breath that gave me away. Whatever it was, he realized that calling me a Tortuga wasn’t a joke to me.
As our journey continued I was surprised to find that this short encounter kept coming back to my thoughts. The hours of quiet walking gave me time to think about why I reacted so strongly. What is it about being called a turtle that pushed my buttons? It is true that the permeating message in the US culture is that being faster, bigger, richer and having more stuff is somehow “better”. Intellectually I know that is not how I want to live my life and that these things aren’t what I value. And still somehow, on a more primitive level, I reacted to the underlying feeling that somehow being thought of as a slow moving turtle was a negative thing.
As I I walked and contemplated this I started to realize (and feel) that in some ways the Tortuga was in fact a wonderful and positive representation of me. Or perhaps even something I should aspire to be more like. Turtles are amazing creature. They have been loved characters in fables where their slow and steady nature gets them to the finish line peacefully and usually first. They have soft bodies but a hard shell that keeps them safe from predators and they live a long time. If you look up the turtle totem as a spirit animal you find that they are considered wise and they teach us about walking our paths in peace and sticking to it with determination and serenity. Some think that if the turtle comes to you as your spirit animal it is asking you to remain true to your path. This all sounds so amazing to me – even if all of you reading this now think I am bonkers.
So in the spirit of my totem animal I now fully embrace my inner Tortuga.
Here is how that has been going since my return to Colorado.
It has been four weeks since I returned to the US. The time has gone very quickly. I have been enjoying a slow transition from one adventure to the next – whatever that may end up being. I am very thankful that my life in Colorado is such a positive place to return to. Not only is the local scenery breathtaking, but the connections I have with my friends, family and community is supportive and inspiring. I admit that I haven’t seen that many of “my people” yet but I have been thinking of everyone and slowly increasing my outings and social engagements. It has been nice to be able to take this time without rushing off to work. The last time I went on vacation abroad in 2016 I went to work the morning after returning home from the trans-Atlantic flight. There was no time for jet lag or transitions after that trip. The jet lag this time definitely lingered and the first couple of weeks I was waking up at 4:00 AM. It was kind of nice to be able to decide to get out of bed at that early hour, have coffee and get on with my day. It didn’t matter if I pooped out in the afternoon. What a luxury it is to feel I can rest if I want during the day for a little while longer.
Mentally I am feeling very rested and relaxed. So much so that it has been a bit challenging to consider writing down my thoughts for this latest (perhaps the last) blog about the Camino experience. Nevertheless I have jotted down a few notes about my initial feelings about being home and have had some thoughts and reflections that I hope to be able to put down on paper now.
The question that everyone, without exception, has asked me since I returned home is, “what was the best part about the Camino?”
My answer: The best part of this adventure was being able to be present in the moment. To have no stress or worry about anything but walking, caring for my blisters and experiencing whatever the moment offered. Those moments offered quiet, peace, nature, camaraderie, hardships, laughter, tears, and much more. But ultimately being able to have time to experience moments was the best part – an important reminder.
A reminder of a message given to me by a terminally ill cancer patient. She told me that she never realized the importance of not wasting time until she didn’t have any more time to waste. Of course the meaning of those profound words will be interpreted differently by anyone who considers them. What do you feel is a waste of your time? For me this resonates with the ideal of being present in the moment. At this point in my life it is not necessarily about “using” time wisely. It is more about allowing myself to experience all that the moment offers as well as not spending precious moments doing things that I don’t value. For me it means trying to spend as much time with people, in places and doing things that bring me joy, personal growth, health and have a positive impact on the world. It means taking time to let myself reflect on how I am living and give myself permission to be authentic. Sometimes it means zoning out with mindless television or a light read. It means so much more that I have yet to explore.
So as I come back to my life at home, I am embracing my inner Tortuga and allowing myself to “not waste” my moments. I am not getting a lot of particular “things” done. I am happily moving slowly, breathing deeply, focusing on health and I am thinking about creating that meditation/hippy garden I thought about as I walked. I am preparing for my next adventures in my life and work. I am sometimes spending time at doing nothing much and right now this is far from wasted time.
I am also working on remaining positive and present as I navigate the emotions of being back and living in a chaotic and sad time in the USA. I would love to avoid my emotions in relation to this but if I am going to be true to myself and my path I do need to acknowledge this as my biggest current challenge. I hope I can feel good about the moments I spend addressing this part of my life as well. I was going to write more about my feeling about this angst but somehow this doesn’t feel it would serve me or my readers well right now. So for now I’ll just say that I will strive to have a positive impact every day by spreading love and denouncing hate. I will do what I can to better this world through my own work, good deeds and a positive attitude. I hope that my positive actions may have a ripple effect towards positive change and I will try to spread the positive energy and raise the vibrations of light to those who embrace loving energy. Others I may merely be polite to, engage on more surface levels and spend only as much time or energy that is required so that I can protect and preserve positivity.
Here are some thoughts and gratitudes from the first few days home:
* I am very happy to see Erin and Kaylie. It feels so amazing to be able to connect with them as the amazing adult women that they are.
* It is wonderful to have a clean, modest home to come back to.
* I am grateful to have easy access to tea, coffee and a soft chair.
* It feels a bit strange to have so many clean clothes in the closet that I can just wear at will.
* It is so easy to get any type of food I may want. The first day we ordered food and Kaylie picked it up. So fast and easy.
* I am really sad to come home and not have Fergal here. Our Shiba Inu died after a long illness at age 14, shortly before we left for our trip. I miss him a lot and the place feels so different without him, even though it was clearly his time to leave us.
* Getting up at 4AM for coffee is not so bad since I have so much flexibility.
* I am very grateful for time to ease into any work and for some interesting potential opportunities coming my way.
* I am grateful to have a true partner in this life and to have had so much special time with Colin before the fire season this year.
Reflections about now. Just to be clear, although the Camino was a wonderful experience and metaphor for life’s journey, my reflections are not caused or created by this experience alone. The fact that I had time to reflect is more a matter of having given myself the permission, time and space to be present in the moment. Arranging for that space is not an easy task in modern times. You may choose to take this kind of trip to give yourself this space. However if this type of adventure isn’t for you there are so many other ways to explore your mind and heart. If you are feeling a need to encourage your own reflections I hope you can find a way to do so, even in the small moments. If you want some ideas feel free to connect. I plan to offer workshops related to my book and Reiki classes so if you are interested please check my website regularly.
From my spirit animal to yours…
Hasta Luego! Buen Camino! EnJOY!
Here is to creating positive ripples in our wake….