As many of you know, I flew directly to the Mayo Clinic from Europe for a routine check up. Per the clinical study I am in called PROMISE (read more about it here), I am bound to a pretty strict checkup schedule where they take extra scans, blood, and sometimes biopsy cells to study them.  However, the pet scan this time showed so little cancer that I am now allowed to go three months between visits instead of two! Yahoo! In many ways, including less driving through Wisconsin in the dead of winter.

After the Mayo visit, I arrived home late Monday night. I have begun once again to enjoy all of the wonderful comforts of my home, one of which is a very strong cup of coffee in the morning out of any of my favorite mugs.

The beloved coffee in one of my favorite quote mugs. Thank you to my fabulous neighbors, the Swartwoods, for the beautiful welcome home flowers!

And as I looked outside this morning, I see we have gotten our first snow of the season. Oh my goodness, really? I took this picture from the warmth of the inside, because who really wants to go out there? I am thankful for the reality that I don’t have to walk 15 miles in that today!

Snow this morning. Enough said.
But at this point, I can’t help but wonder, ‘So now what?’.  
First, it is my full intention to achieve the fundraising goal of $100,000 I set out to accomplish.

I am almost there, but not quite. There is still some room to take advantage of the dollar for dollar matching from the Foglia Family Foundation! Act now if you want to take advantage of that.

And secondly, I’d love to speak to YOU, your church group, your classroom, your bible study, book study, club, or even a one time informal gathering at your home. I will discuss the Camino Pilgrimage, the new generation of breast cancer screening technology that I am fundraising for, or both.  

Please contact me at Leslie@walkthewaywithher.com if you are interested in inviting me to speak!

And as for me, I will continue to try to assimilate back into real society. I am glad to be home, but there are some things I miss about the Camino life, the walking and the simplicity of the days to name two. The lessons of the camino are many, and I will try to take note of what I am missing from it, and incorporate those things more into my life back home.  So if you’d like to take a walk sometime, let me know! We’ll take a simple walk without too many turns to complicate things 🙂 

A walk anyone?  

Gratitudes:

Central heating and a warm fireplace – feeling pretty good right about now.

My own coffee, because it’s the best – sorry Starbucks.

So many great friends and neighbors – I can’t wait to see you all again soon!

Breast Cancer Fact

After arriving in Santiago last week, getting my compostela (certificate of completion), and walking out to Fisterra and Muxía with John (58 more miles), I feel quite satisfied and rewarded about having done it all and having seen most things here. 

Fisterra beach at low tide. That’s a lot of green sea weed.
Big surf and fascinating cloud activity at Muxía

Rainbow!

But in the end what wound up to be the peak moment was ‘seeing it swing’.  

Because most people aren’t really sure what to call ‘it’, it winds up being called ‘it’, or ‘the thing’. But actually it is called a botefumeiro, and it is a giant thurible in which incense is burned as part of the liturgy during a church service. Learn all about it here.  

After arriving in Santiago on foot, many pilgrims go right to the next Pilgrims Mass at the Cathedral hoping to ‘see it swing’. Up and down the Camino, especially toward the end, there is much talk about whether it will swing when they get there. And if not, when will it, and how will we know. Everybody wants to see it swing, but not everybody gets to. Rumor has it that it swings on church holidays, or when someone pays 400+ euros. To be certain, the Camino journey itself IS the reward, but it really is a big extra bonus for those who get to see it swing, kind of like extra icing on your cake.  

This practice has been going on for centuries. Historically the botefumeiro was used to help heal, purify, and maybe disguise the smell of unwashed pilgrims who once slept upstairs in the cathedral. Now it’s meaning has changed to symbolize blessings going out to the pilgrims who have finished their pilgrimages.  

I feel so fortunate to have gotten to ‘see the thing swing’. I think a big tour group probably paid for it. Click here to see what it looks like. It’s worth the 4 minute watch.

It sure is nice for all of us to see the full reward of our hard work and accomplishments, as I have been able to do here. So no matter what your hard work consists of, be it a big project at work or any other endeavor, my wish for you is that you get that extra icing on the cake, your full satisfying reward, that you ‘get to see it swing’.

 

Breast Cancer Fact

 

Corporate contributor thank you goes to Wellessence MD! Thank you for contributing in Walk The Way With Her’s mission! Head to their website here! If you too would like to be a corporate contributor, email leslie@walkthewaywithher.com.

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Just a coincidence? Perhaps not.

Two days ago I walked into Santiago de Compostela to finish the Camino de Santiago, The Frances Way. After starting in France 40 days ago, it was an exhilarating and also emotional experience. Among a lot of other thoughts, the competing ideas of being glad it was over, and not wanting it to be over were at play.  

Additionally, the sadness of knowing that I won’t be seeing my ‘Camino Family’ anymore. They are the many people that I have come to know and love during the journey, also tugs at the heart strings.  

Katharina and me. I am going to miss this lovely young lady!
This crew I walked into Santiago with. Mark from Portland OR, Marta from Poland living in southern Spain, Katie from Colorado, Katharina from Germany living in Austria, Sigor from Basque is taking the picture, and me.

Now as I look back over those 40 days, I have to ask myself about their significance, and what has changed since 40 days and 500 miles ago. As you know, the number 40 has major biblical meaning. It is mentioned over 100 times in the Bible and generally symbolizes a period of testing, trial or probation. 

Certainly I was tested physically with all of the walking, and mentally in many ways as well; more than I could ever describe.

As for me during my 40 days, certainly I have learned that I can do hard things over an extended period of time, make it in one piece to the end, and most of all enjoy every minute of the journey. This will serve me well for whatever is to come in the future. I could not have asked for more than that!

So what now??

John has now joined me and we will walk to the end of the world together. Well not quite, but it is where the Europeans once thought the world ended, and it is the western most point in Europe. It is called Fisterra, which technically means the end of the land. It is 50 miles from Santiago, as if I need to walk more. It is supposed to rain the whole time, so wish us luck!

John and I leave Santiago and head for the coast. Looking good.
The Cathedral fades out of view as we head out of town toward the coast.

Leslie

 

Gratitudes:

A great husband willing to come was a little with me.

My camino family – names too many to mention

 

Breast Cancer Fact

 

Corporate contributor thank you goes to Lisa Kaplin! Thank you for contributing in Walk The Way With Her’s mission! Head to their website here to see a special promotion they are doing! If you too would like to be a corporate contributor, email leslie@walkthewaywithher.com.

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As I head into Santiago with less than 25 kilometers left to go, I look back at where I started this journey some 38 days and 775 kilometers ago, I am fascinated with how far I have come. And it strikes me that the value of looking back and appreciating ‘from where you came’ is very worthwhile. 

From Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port
Into The Pyrenees
Through the Rioja region
Into the Meseta
And finishing in Galicia

What a journey. It’s been a taxing but inspiring road! All good things are worth working for.  

Additionally, looking back at my whole life, at having grown up in a small rural town in southern Indiana, I have to appreciate that simplicity and those good Midwestern values as well.  

And my undergraduate alma mater Purdue University, you make me proud. Yes it’s great to beat the #2 ranked Ohio State in football, but your support of young cancer patient Tyler exceeds that victory thrill by far. That’s who we are, and I for one am proud to be among you.  Go Boilers!! Read Tyler’ story here.

 

What about you? Have you taken the time to look back and appreciate from where, and how far you have come?

Leslie

 

Gratitudes:

A relatively stress free small town upbringing.

Legs good enough to carry me 500 miles. 

The boilermaker train – I always like it. 

Breast Cancer Fact

Corporate contributor thank you goes to Buschauer Portraits! Thank you for contributing in Walk The Way With Her’s mission! Head to their website here to see a special promotion they are doing! If you too would like to be a corporate contributor, email leslie@walkthewaywithher.com.

 

 

 

“Today is only one day, in all the days that will ever be. But, what will happen in all the other days that ever come, can depend on what you do today.” – Ernest Hemingway

First, a big shout out to Elisa Spain who leads my husband’s Vistage group for providing the inspiration for this blog.The topic in her weekly newsletter a couple of weeks ago was inspired by Hemingway’s quote, and I decided to adopt it for my use.Thanks Elisa!See her website here.

The last few days of the Camino have been both spectacular and challenging, and have required some planning ahead.In other words, what you do or don’t do one day, can really effect how your tomorrow goes on the Camino.

For instance, the day we climbed up to the Cruz de Ferro it was supposed to be raining.Previously I had chosen just a raincoat and no rain pants as my rain gear, and opted out of the big Poncho idea.Well, as it turned out we not only got a lot of rain, but also snow, sleet, and a lot of wind.The poncho people faired a lot better under those conditions, and I literally froze my %#& off.Yesterday’s choice didn’t turn out so well for that day!

Me heading up to, and then standing under the Cruz de Ferro. These pictures don’t do the weather justice. It was worse than it looks.

But on the upside, I did decide to consult my guidebook the night before there were 3 different route options the next day.One route is very beautiful, and it is really remote with no services for 24 kilometers, and can be pretty easily taken by mistake.Taking this route without the right preparation, especially in bad weather, can turn out not so well!

And finally, with less than 100 miles left to get to Santiago we are entering Galicia where with the pilgrims dinner you either get a liter of water, or a full bottle of wine to yourself.At dinner the other night, two German guys not only drank all of their own bottles but also split most of mine.I could tell by their pace the next day, that their decision of last night was definitely effecting their today!

With all of that said, I have reached the peak and am starting to come down from the highest point on the Camino without incident.Enjoy the photos below.There was some fog but that just made it all the more interesting.

And as you must know, I can’t go without mentioning that of course your choice today to, or not to, learn about your breast density, and activity pursue the best screening you can find for yourself can effect your tomorrow in a really big way!Knowledge is power, so go forth today and use what you know, so that it may have the best possible impact on your tomorrow!

Leslie

 

 

 

 

 

I have been given a great opportunity to partner with Maureen Slott and Etcetera to raise money for Walk The Way With Her! Here are a few ways to participate in the fundraiser:
1. Head to the link here and anything from the essentials line will contribute $10 to Walk The Way With Her.

2. Head to the link hereand anything from the Pink Line will contribute 10% to Walk The Way With Her.

3. If you don’t want to order online you can schedule an appointment with Maureen Slott here.

Two years ago today my Dad died from a terrible car accident.  It came as a real shock, and we all miss him terribly.

Robert Edward Ferris, February 6, 1926 – October 13, 2016.
Dad and my late Aunt in northern Wisconsin on the farm where they grew up.

I know he would have been mighty unhappy about my cancer diagnosis and would have worried a lot about it. Like most parents, he was good at worrying. In fact he excelled at it. He probably would have worried about me doing this walk too.

However, one of the things he always enjoyed was seeing how farming is done in other places, what they grow, etc.  

So no deep subjects, metaphors, or play on words today. Just some good farm pictures that I think Dad would have liked seeing. I have now walked 350 miles, and most of it has been though rural farming areas between small villages, so there is no shortage of good farm scenery to capture.  

French sheep
Horse farming
Grapes in the Roija region

My favorite picture of the grapes

 

Sunflower seeds
Hay and or wheat!
Everybody grows read sweet peppers in their gardens and dries them outside their homes!

Massive bales of hay
Also, tree farming!
And of course, corn!

Gratitude:

1.  Great parents and grandparents.

2.  Not much rain, because tomorrow it is going to pour here!

3.  Climate control. No AC and no heat in most allergies!!

 

Corporate contributor thank you goes to DeCarlo’s Hair Design! Thank you for contributing in Walk The Way With Her’s mission! Head to their website here. If you too would like to be a corporate contributor, email leslie@walkthewaywithher.com.

Give what you can and take what you need

I got the all clear from the Doctor at Mayo regarding my blood test results, so I hit the road this morning through the outskirts of Leon and once again onto the relatively flat ground to the west of the city.

Had a little breakfast with this girl on the outskirts of town.
As I settled into a 4 mile stretch before the next village, I began to think about the term donativo, and how they use it here. Strictly speaking, it simply means donation. However on the Camino it takes on a slightly different meaning. It is primarily used to describe the terms of a place to stay, but not always. It’s really more of a philosophy. People who use donativo facilities can use them for free, but are asked to donate if they can. No judgement. Nobody is watching.
My guess is that way back when, before the Camino became as commercialized as it is now, that all places of refuge operated under donativo terms. Way back when, many pilgrims did not have money at all and were left somewhat at the mercy of anyone willing to help them.
Centuries ago when people would take this pilgrimage, places that housed pilgrims were called hospitals. They really weren’t medical facilities, though I have to think there was quite a bit of healing going on.
One such place called St. Nicholas Hospital is still open and operating today. They take about 12 people a night, and it is pretty much ‘as it was’. There is no electricity or indoor plumbing. Dinner and breakfast are prepared together, and the hosts even wash the pilgrims feet nightly. There is no fee of course, donativo only.  

 

Even now, they open their doors to whoever passes by to offer coffee, biscuits, and some bread. I did not get to stay there, but it was a fun little stop, as well as a glimpse back in time. I am really glad I stopped to get a feel for the place.  
In our modern world where it sometimes feels like many of us aren’t giving what we can, and are taking what we want, I wonder what it would be like if everyone started to just 
Give a little more if we can, and take only what we need. What do you think?

 

Gratitude:

1.  My great mattress and pillow at home. I miss them!

2.  Vibrant autumn colors.

3.  A change of seasons

 

Contributor thank you goes to Jill Davis Designs! Thank you for contributing in Walk The Way With Her’s mission! If you too would like to be a corporate contributor, email leslie@walkthewaywithher.com.

It’s anywhere where pilgrims along The Way can stay if they present their Camino passport that has stamps they have collected along The Way.  

The word is pronounced all-bear-gay if you are from the US, and more like all-ber-gee if you are from somewhere else, but with that said there are many variations spoken. 

Albergues tend to fall into three categories  municipal, private, and parochial. Other than walking along with someone on the trail, the albergues are where you meet other pilgrims, they are a significant part of the heartbeat of the Camino. If you don’t stay in at least some albergues, you’d be missing a big part of the experience. Think big rooms with lots of bunk beds, and bathrooms like a fairly nice campground and you will get close. Snoring is a big part of albergue life. 

 

In any albergue, getting your clothes washed and dry before the next day is a major activity. Most of the time it’s hand washing in an outside sink and line drying, but more albergues are installing machines you can use for 3 Euros. It can get competitive for clothes pins. Wish I had brought a few.

Municipal albergues are run by the town they are in. They are usually centrally located in the town, are the cheapest option, and provide just the basics. They run from 5-8 Euros and tend to be the largest, holding anywhere from 50 to 200 people, depending upon the popularity of the stop. I have stayed in several. The community feel is high and there is a lot of information sharing and camaraderie. Given the number of people all in one room, the chances of an uninterrupted night’s sleep is slim to none.

Private albergues are generally a step up from municipals and cost around 10 Euros. They tend to be a little nicer and often have a bar or restaurant attached. Beer, wine, and sangria flow freely, and a pilgrim’s meal is usually offered. If you are lucky they will have a nice place to hang out while yours clothes dry.

The parochial albergues are all run by a church or monastery. They operate by ‘Donavita’, which means ‘pay what you can, take what you need’.  They will usually have a service, or pilgrims blessing before a community dinner, although there is no one method they all use. Last night I stayed at the albergue of Santa Maria de Los Condes run by 4 nuns of the St. Augustine order.  There was vespers at 5:00, intros and singalong at 5:30, and mass at 7:30.  Very nice, and quite a different feel from the Municipals!

There are also small to mid sized hostels, which are basically clean hotel rooms with a private bath, but what fun would that be?

Enjoy some photos from the Meseta section of the Camino!  

Leslie

Gratitude’s:

People who don’t snore.

Enough sun to line dry clothes 

The cooler nights and mornings in Spanish October

As I leave Burgos and head into the flats toward Leon, I am keenly aware that today is the first day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and that it’s probably time to get more serious about the subject.

Some cloud cover today made for a cooler walk where there was no shade to be had!
A welcome town to take a break half way through today. 

Many people, here and at home, have asked me WHY I am doing the Camino. My answer depends on how much I want to get into it, and how deep of a conversation I really want to have, or if there is time to explain. So sometimes I just say: for the adventure, to do something cool, for spiritual or religious reasons, or even to satisfy the slightly independent wild hair I have always had. All of these answers are true actually.

But my REAL WHY is much more than that. It’s about that thing nobody wants to talk about. It’s about that thing we all dance around. It’s about that 40,000 number. It’s that 40,000 women per year die of breast cancer in the US. Just imagine what the worldwide figure must be.

My REAL WHY is about kids without moms, grand kids without grandmas, and widowers without wives. It’s about careers unfinished, potential not met, and dreams not realized. It’s about lives cut short, and all of the hurt that goes with that.

My college sorority sister and roommate, Toni Mark, died about a week ago from breast cancer. She was hilariously funny, very smart, a good leader, and incredibly musically talented. She was taken way too soon. Those of us that lived with her will miss her always. She was also a great mom to two teenage kids and a loving wife. What a loss on many many fronts. I can’t even imagine the devastation her family is feeling.

To think this happens 40,000 times over every year, is heartbreaking.  

To think that there is a way to detect MANY more breast cancers earlier when they are curable, that is FDA approved and commercially available,  but is not available to most women is unfathomable. 

 

 

So that is my REAL WHY for doing the Camino. So there can be more kids with moms, more grand kids with grandmas, and less widowers without wives. So careers can be finished, so potential can be met, and dreams given a chance. This is my REAL WHY.

The next step is to fund the Density MATTERS multi-site study including 3,000 women so that we take one step closer to Molecular Breast Imaging becoming available to all women. This is the technological advancement we all want. 

I hope you will join me in making the next generation of breast cancer screening available for our mothers, sisters, wives, friends, and daughters. 

100% of your donation goes straight to the study, no cuts, fees, or administrative expenses taken out. Plus each dollar will be matched by the Foglia Family Foundation. Double your money! 

Donate

 

One of my favorite TED talks – Simon Senek, Start With WHY 
Here is the link: 

https://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action/up-next?language=en

Dr. Deborah Rhodes from the Mayo Clinic, who started with WHY and wound up inventing a life saving technology.  
Here is the link: https://www.ted.com/talks/deborah_rhodes

 

Leslie

 

Gratitude’s:

The Mayo Clinic for allowing their doctors to create, invent and research.

To the many who have donated so far. Thank you so much!

To those MBI early adopters – for being forward thinking!

Greetings to all.

I am in Belorado tonight with 540 kilometers to go to reach Santiago. That puts me at about 1/3 of the way through, at 12 days total with 1 day off. About right! I have exited the Rioja region of vineyards and olive groves and am approaching the flatter lands and planes of the Bergos region.  Although, it’s still not completely flat! 

 

It’s getting flatter as I head west.

At this point given the rigor of the walk, a lot of people are starting to discuss what they are carrying and why. At the end of a long 15 mile day, whatever you are carrying really weighs you down.

 

Currently my backpack weighs 20 pounds. That’s about average on the Camino.

Some people have opted to send their bag ahead, leaving them free to bop down the trail seemingly without a care in the world. Others have lightened their loads by sending things home, or simply leaving items they don’t need behind. Most albergues have a ‘take it if you need it table’ consisting of those left items. While others, for better or worse, insist on carrying everything they brought out of ego, stubbornness, or just because it feels a little like cheating not to.  

Though incredibly tempting, I have not succumbed to allowing someone else to carry my load. I am the helper, and not someone who needs help. I don’t like the idea of it. Probably not a coincidence, I have loaded my pack to where it is pretty heavy for me, but not impossible to deal with. It weighs a lot, but I can make it, though quite tired, to the end of each day. This is sounding familiar. 

All of this begs the question about what to carry, what to let go of, and what to allow someone else to take. Hmmmm. Good question.

At first, it only makes sense to carry those things you really need, as well as those that are import to you like the items below:

 

My angel from Bob, my holy spirit Dove from Marti, my intention bracelet from Jeanne, and my brave heart pendant from Sharon.

I also have the pretty heavy stuff I will let go of ahead on the trail when the time comes, which at this point is represented by some physically heavy objects. More on that later – this is where the stones come in.

Beyond that I will continue to try to lighten my load because I probably need to, something I am not particularly good at.  

How about you?  What would you carry, let go of, or allow someone else to take?

Leslie

Gratitudes:

REI – they make FANTASTIC trekking stuff

Sunscreen – the mid afternoon sun is brutal here

Washers and dryers – oh how I miss them 🙂