Buen Camino

First of all, I will admit this is not the blog post I thought I was going to write today, but I am going with the flow of inspiration!

Today was a hot one in NYC. When I turned on my TV to NY1 this morning, the first thing I saw was an on-site weather reporter standing in bright sunshine in a park in Queens, talking about the high heat. I knew I wanted to get out of my apartment to avoid the stifling heat. Yes, I have started to occasionally turn on my air conditioning unit, but I wanted to write in a public space today. I needed to choose between a cafe or the library, and I opted for the library so I wouldn’t be tempted to buy a soy latte and stay up late into the night.

You see, I need my rest tonight, as tomorrow I will be performing for the first time as a Volunteer Artist with Sing for Hope! If you haven’t heard of this wonderful organization, please visit their website. Also if you’re interested, check out my first musing on Sing for Hope’s public piano project. Sing for Hope has been an inspiring part of my life for the past five years. I’m excited and honored to be a part of their Volunteer Artist Roster because I firmly believe in the healing power of music. I will be singing to patients at a local hospital, and it will be my privilege to help brighten their day with a few songs. It has been a nourishing exercise for me to reflect on my musical journey, from when I first started singing along to Jesus Christ Superstar on vinyl at the age of 6 up to today.  Tomorrow will be an important step forward for me. I have barely scratched the surface in terms of what I’ve shared about my journey thus far — online and offline, publicly and privately. Now that I have my website, I have a wonderful digital space to share more about my journey in upcoming musings, but first, I really want to talk about something else near and dear to my heart.

I am so glad I went to the library today because I was productive on behind-the-scenes business stuff. I hurt my face from smiling so much for no reason other than I felt like I was completely in my element. Pure joy. Okay, and gratitude for the air conditioning, too! After about 90 minutes, I realized I needed to eat lunch, but I forgot my wallet, so I had to return home sooner than expected. But before I left the library, I checked the hold shelves, and this DVD was waiting for me to pick it up.

Walking the Camino on DVD

YES! I have wanted to watch this Walking the Camino documentary for many months now. I missed the screening of it last year. Once I walked out of the library, the wheels in my mind began turning, and I started geeking out over El Camino de Santiago de Compostela.

You see, it’s one of my life goals to walk the Camino, a pilgrimage across Spain, starting from various locations in Europe and ending at Catedral de Santiago de Compostela, the burial site of Saint James the Great, one of Jesus Christ’s apostles. (For the record, I want to start in France.) In English, the Camino is known as The Way of Saint James. This pilgrimage traces back to the Middle Ages, and it is calling my name, my body, my soul.

I first briefly learned about the Camino from watching “Spain: On the Road Again,” a PBS foodie+travel series featuring Gwyneth Paltrow, Mario Batali, and their friends. I loved watching this series so much that I watched it more than once and bought the companion book. Clearly, these were the days before I became a vegan. 😉 But I took note of when Gwyneth talked about the Camino, and that planted a seed in me.

More seeds would be planted in the years to follow. Last year, I read Sonia Choquette’s wonderful book, Walking Home: A Pilgrimage from Humbled to Healed. She walked the Camino a second time a few months prior to the release of her book. I followed her progress on Facebook and was deeply moved by the magical, mystical experiences she shared. The seeds firmly took root in the garden of my soul. Inspired by a true story I read on Elizabeth Gilbert’s Facebook page, I started a jar to collect loose change for my own Camino experience.

Every time I add money to my jar, I say, “I honor my quest to walk the Camino de Santiago de Compostela.” I do not know when I will walk the Camino, but I know I will walk the Camino. It gives me great pleasure to imagine myself on the path that so many before me have walked. I see myself dropping off a rock at Cruz de Ferro to symbolically lay down all my burdens. I envision what it will be like to enter the cathedral, claim my certificate of completion, and keep walking beyond Santiago to the coastline of Spain, where the giant waves are so captivating on film that you know you have to experience watching them in person.

I’ve watched The Way starring Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez. The Camino: A Journey of the Spirit by Shirley MacLaine and The Pilgrimage by Paulo Coelho are on my list of books to read. I have Camino travel guidebooks on my private wish list. I want to acquire the guidebooks closer to when I’ll start my trip so I have the most up-to-date versions. I repeat: I do not know when I will walk the Camino, but I know I will walk the Camino. Oh, and it just occurred to me that I am learning Spanish again, thanks to DuoLingo. ¡Qué divertido!

It’s time to get real here. For a long while I have wanted to be authentically me, but I tend to shy away from doing so because I happen to like wonderfully weird and woo-woo things. And when all you want to do is belong when you don’t feel like you do, talking about woo-woo things can seem like a big no-no. I am not saying that the Camino is woo-woo. It’s a pilgrimage with religious origins, and nowadays it can mean something uniquely personal to every person who walks (or bikes) the Camino. But I do want to acknowledge the part of myself that geeks out over spiritual matters. The part of myself that loves to explore subjects that are esoteric and just plain “out there.” The part of me that cherishes talking about sacred topics one on one or in small groups of amazing, heart-centered people. Of course, some things ought to remain intimately sacred, but when it comes to my music, this is a chance for me to share the sacred with an audience it is meant to reach and help and heal.

As I continue on my musical journey, my songs and sounds may be wonderfully weird and woo-woo. Because they are representations of who I am as a person and an artist. I love it when I see women/artists/authors like Sonia Choquette, Kate Northrup, and Danielle LaPorte fully embrace the power of all things woo-woo. They own it. It’s time for me to own it, too. As Sonia Choquette says, “Woo-woo is where it’s at!” Woohoo!

Muchas gracias for taking the time to read this musing. It’s like we stopped at a cafe along the Camino and sat down to share our stories, drink some vino, and rest our feet for a little while.  And when I say “our stories,” I do mean I’d love to hear from you if this musing resonates with you.  Feel free to leave a comment, use my contact form, or e-mail me. And big hugs.

Until next time… ¡Buen Camino!

Peace and Love,

8 thoughts on “Buen Camino

  • August 18, 2015 at 12:56 AM

    Woo-woo! I know you will walk the Camino one day.

    • August 18, 2015 at 10:02 AM

      Woo-woo backatcha! Yes indeed, I will. Thank you! <3

  • August 18, 2015 at 9:22 AM

    Excelente meta mi hermana. Esta es una meta que ustede experimentara. That is how I “feel” about that. hehe
    I did not realize you wanted to walk the Camino. I have only heard bits and pieces of it. I used to want to hike The Appalachian Trail. The one from Georgia to Maine(2174 miles) but things get put on the back burner. Who knows what way life will lead me to do. I am excited to hear you are following your heart. I do hope you write about your experience with singing for the hospital patients. It is warming my heart just knowing you are most likely there now. You truly have an abundance of gifts my friend, and sharing them with the world is going to bring your internal smile out to touch people. You are inspiring me to let my guards down and be me. So thank you for sharing your thoughts and dreams.

    • August 18, 2015 at 10:12 AM

      Gracias, Lindsey! I am not fluent in Spanish (yet!), so I had to run your sentences in Google Translate. Thank you! I love that “meta” means goal. It’s an internal desire, something I can reference within myself to point me in the direction of my dreams. And very cool re: the Appalachian Trail. Here are two mantras I have been working with, courtesy of Brené Brown, whom I admire for her courage to research and talk about topics like shame and vulnerability. Her vulnerability mantra is: “Just show up and let yourself be seen.” And I would add: “And heard.” Her authenticity mantra is: “Don’t shrink. Don’t puff up. Stand your sacred ground.” Namaste!

  • August 18, 2015 at 2:55 PM

    Wow, I’m impressed, Alli, by so many things — your Singing for Hope, your life goal to walk the Camino — and the story about the El Camino de Santiago de Compostela itself (yes, I copy/pasted that!). And the steps you’re taking on your thrilling journey of music, inspiration and self-discovery … and for sharing it with us. Stop by my office sometime and I’ll share with YOU some loose change to help you on your way.

    • August 18, 2015 at 3:16 PM

      Thanks, Don! I’ll be in touch soon — I have been meaning to reach out, so this is good timing ! 🙂

  • August 19, 2015 at 12:54 AM

    I was inspired to want to walk the Camino after I saw The Way, but I never did anything about it. And, I guess if you don’t do anything about something, it never happens. I’m inspired by your dedication to it, and I only hope that I can find something I’m equally passionate about. If you want somebody to walk with you, I’ll go! (I won’t know any Spanish, but my French is pretty okay…) 🙂

    • August 19, 2015 at 12:02 PM

      Bev, that’s so cool you were inspired to walk the Camino after watching The Way! Even if you didn’t do anything about it right away, that’s okay! I am learning more and more that taking action (or not taking action) clarifies what you truly desire. These actions can be the tiniest of steps, too. And thanks for offering to walk the Camino with me! If the timing works out for the both of us, that would be awesome! One of the things I’ve read is that even when you walk with a friend or in a group, the journey for each person is still very much unique and personal. Ooh, and check out this blog: http://vegancamino.blogspot.com/


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