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


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


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Visits: 50

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.




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

My camino family – names too many to mention


Breast Cancer Fact


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Visits: 28





The short answer,

as little as possible!

By the time you’ve read this… my journey will have begun!!

Since I will be carrying everything with me in a backpack the whole 500 miles, I will want it to weigh as little as possible. Many people have been curious about what I will take, and how I will carry it.

So here is the packing list: 

  • The backpack and backpack rain cover
  • The Camino Shell – read about the history of the camino shell  here.
  • Sleep sack
  • My medicine! Plus Tylenol
  • Small guide book
  • 1 small quick dry towel
  • Passport, driver’s license, Euros, and 2 credit cards
  • Headlamp (just in case)
  • 1 short sleeved shirt – quick dry
  • 1 long sleeved shirt – quick dry
  • 1 jacket – lightweight but warm
  • 1 rain jacket
  • 2 long exercise plants
  • 1 shorter exercise pant
  • 1 shirt to wear that I won’t hike in
  • Hat
  • Hiking shoes, walking trainers, shower shoes
  • Trekking poles
  • Buff
  • 4 pair socks
  • 1 liter Nalgene
  • Water purifying pills
  • 1 spork/can opener/bottle opener all in 1 tool
  • Highly concentrated soap, shampoo, and laundry detergent
  • Body glide for chaffing and a few various other toiletries
  • Spare glasses
  • Walk The Way With Her cards to pass out
  • 2 carabiners
  • 3 energy bars
  • Journal
  • Cell phone and charger, portable cell charger, power converter.


On top of that, a few dear friends have given me a few small things to carry with me:  an angel, an intention bracelet, and a courage medallion. I will also take a pink strand of pearls to use to pay tribute to several sorority sisters who have died from breast cancer.  Plus a few rocks!  – Read about that tradition here. More on that later!

Thank you everyone for your donations, support, and words of encouragement so far!  The next blog will be written from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port where the The Frances Way of the Camino de Santiago begins. Read more about Saint-Jean here:




The Foglia Family Foundation who will graciously match all donations up to $50,000.

Bob Lee who has been a wonderful mentor and good friend.

The Daily Herald for sharing my story. You can read the article here.



Visits: 27




24 Mile Walk Around Lake Geneva

A 24 mile walk around Lake Geneva carrying a loaded backpack convinced me that I am ready to walk the 500 miles of the Camino de Santiago.

After months of long walks around my neighborhood, plus cardio and weight training, a couple of friends and I decided we should walk all the way around Lake Geneva to ‘get some distance’. That’s 24 miles. We all three took it as a challenge, with a little peer pressure mixed in.

It was an absolutely beautiful day. The temperature was perfect, the sun was shining, and the Lake Geneva flowers were in full bloom. We started out at about 9am, stopped half way for lunch, and made it back to the car just before dark! Those last few miles were the toughest, but some bad singing and a little laughter helped us cope.

Each of us felt like we accomplished something, and I am truly grateful to my friends for committing a whole day of their lives to make that journey with me. I do feel more confident about those long walking days I will have on the Camino. I am now sure I can do it!

Thank you Ann and Adele – you two are champs! I am grateful for your love, friendship, and encouragement. Shall we find a bigger lake to walk around next time?


Visits: 20


What am I doing for Training?

Many people have asked me what I am doing to prepare for my 500 mile walk across Spain.  They have asked questions like: How far do you have to walk every day?  How much? Where are you walking here before you go?  And, what else are you doing to prepare?


Well, the answer is: a lot of things.  First, I am doing weight training and focusing on my core to ensure that carrying a full backpack every day won’t be too much of a strain on my back.  Next, it’s cardio fitness, with interval and tempo workouts alternating.  And lastly of course, lots and lots of walking in the exact shoes that I will be wearing on the trail for 15 miles, or about 6 hours a day on average.  This helps with working out any issues that I may have with the shoes before I go, and builds up callouses in the right places. The right shoes, and foot care, are crucial for a successful walk of the Camino.


For the most part I just take very long walks around my neighborhood (8 miles or so), and sometimes with friends at the Cuba Marsh, in Barrington IL.  So if you are at Citizens Park in Barrington, or you find yourself in Hawthorn Woods, and you see a middle aged lady oddly wearing a backpack and hiking shoes with pink laces – yep that’s me, just putting one foot in front of the other.  Over and over and over and…


A 22 mile walk around Lake Geneva, WI is scheduled for next week.  Stay tuned for an update on that!







Visits: 27