Roasted Tomato Sauce


24-30 Organic Roma or Field Tomatoes (depending on the size)

24-30 Garlic Cloves (I like the large purple garlic, you use less and the flavour is greater, also less peeling)

3 Tlbs. Pomace Olive Oil (not extra virgin as it needs to be stable, I use Pomace Olive Oil)

1 tsp. Ground Pepper

1 tsp. SeaSalt

7 Tlbs. Fresh Basil (3 Tlbs. dried)

Fresh rosemary or oregano (optional)

METHOD                                                                                                                                       *Throughly wash & rinse tomatoes (Natural vegetable wash or soak in baking soda for a few minutes)

*Blanch 5-7 tomatoes  in boiling water for 1 minute. (have the ice water ready as this is a quick dip and out process.)

IMG_0233 2.jpg

*Cool in ice water and peel skin from tomatoes (I tried skipping this step and the sauce was a little chewy.) I like to keep the seeds, I feel they add flavour.

*Peel skin of tomato, it’s up to you if you leave the core, I like it as it adds flavour. (personal preference)IMG_0235.JPG

*Place in a large baking dish with sides ~ glass 5″x 10″x 2″ (12.7 x 25.4 x 5.1/cm)

*Peel garlic cloves ~

**if cloves are large, cut in half

*Cut a small slice into tomato and insert clove into tomato, until flush with tomatoIMG_0242.JPG

*Drizzle evenly with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt & pepper (omit salt, if on a sodium reduced diet)


*Bake 350F (176C) 4-6 hrs. until deep brown ~ convection oven 2-3 hrs 350F (176C)

Bake until brown

*Remove from oven, cool slightly. With this batch, I left the skins on and removed them after they cooled. It’s a little messy, however, if you don’t have time to skin before roasting, you can always do it after.   

*Blend tomatoes, garlic and all liquid, using mix-master, blender, or hand blender (use caution if tomatoes are hot, as they burn skin on contact)

I allow mine to cool completely, transfer them to large pot, blend, re-heat, add fresh herbs and can for later use

If making a larger batch you can use a blender. If you enjoy a chunky past sauce, simply mash with a fork or potato masher. This picture is from a few years back… I’m not a fan of plastic and I was gifted a lovely steel hand-blender. Thanks to daughter #1… xo 

*Season with herbs of your choice, or leave plain, then seasoning when ready to use. (glass of wine optional – teeheehee)


*For sauce with a little Spice: add 1 – 4 tsp. of dried red chilli peppers. (depending on your love of heat)



*Simply add your choice of sliced & sautéed vegetables eg. onions, celery, red/yellow/green pepper, mushrooms, zucchini… whatever you have on hand or in season

*Meat lovers add: sliced chicken, ground beef, pork, veal, lamb, mild or spicy sausage


*I prefer canning in glass jars 1-2 & 4 cups, for later use. (keeps for 2 years)

IMG_0258 2.jpg

*freezes well, in individual 1-2 or 4 cup jars, or zip-lock bags.

*refrigerate up to 5 days.


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This post came to my attention on a challenge called A Month Of Letters. I’ve “attempted” this in previous years and decided if I blog about it, it’ll give me incentive when obstacles and life get in the way of my intention to form closer bonds to family and friends.

Join me this February in: A MONTH OF LETTERS (description), designed to help us unplug from the rush of life and reconnect with the simple pleasure of writing and receiving snail mail.

A month of letters

THE CHALLENGE by Mary Robinette Kowal

  1. In the month of February, mail at least one item through the post every day it runs. Write a postcard, a letter, send a picture, or a cutting from a newspaper, or a fabric swatch.
  2. Write back to everyone who writes to you. This can count as one of your mailed items.

All you are committing to is to mail 23 items. Why 23? There are four Sundays and one US holiday. In fact, you might send more than 23 items. You might develop a correspondence that extends beyond the month.

Write love letters, thank yous, or simply notes to say that you miss an old friend. Send a fabric swatch from your new dress. A feather you picked up while on a walk. Whatever it is, let yourself step away from the urgency of modern life and think about an audience of one. Think of it as sending 23 little gifts. And, who knows, you might enjoy going to the mail box again.

Feeling intimidated? It’s fewer words than NaNoWriMo and I know how many of you do that. Join me in The Month of Letters Challenge.

Sincerely yours,

MRK signature

Mary Robinette Kowal

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It’s been an absorbing and revitalizing two months. I apologize for the silence and beg your forgiveness. No excuses, simply cocooning.

November in Sicily was spectacular. The island is like a country all its own. I liken Sicily to an exclamation point!!! The people, landscape and language gave me the sense, I’d reached a significant turning point in my life journey. I have several stories I’d like to share with you, however, I’ll save them for another post. If you ever find yourself in southern Italy, I’d nominate Sicily in a heartbeat.

I had the great fortune to sojourn in the lovely home of: Villa Paladino Solunto. My gentle hosts offer private residences in a tranquil garden, walking distance from the petite village of Santa Flavia. The vivacious city of Palermo is a quick train ride south.

(my best chipmunk impression)

The serene hills and idyllic location gave me the much needed inspiration and hush I require to write. I discovered something about myself as I watched the sun rise and set on the hills of Sicily. My creativity thrives on structure and tranquility. I’ve always known I tend to retreat into my cave when I’m processing life events, however, I mistakenly thought I’d transformed into a social butterfly after my metamorphosis on The Camino. No such luck, adoration for solitude is deeply woven within the fabric of my personality.

Armed with an awareness of my introverted creative nature, I made a decision concerning my year long trip overseas. Only two snags in rerouting my travel-trajectory:

1) Christmas, was fast approaching and

2) My daughters, grandbabies and mother were assembling in Barcelona for the holiday.

I knew it would be a unique opportunity to create a Traditional Canadian Christmas in a Spanish oasis. What seemed like an simple task turned into a odyssey of epic yet amusing proportions.

•The sent of fresh cut Pine, turned into our first ever tree in-a-box.

•Our family tradition of sipping nutmeg sprinkled eggnog while decorating the tree, became an interesting mix of google translated ingredients tasting a little like rum laced custard.

•Our Chinese Food on Christmas Eve had a unique Mediterranean flare

•Christmas Day carollers singing in Spanish, Catalan or English bring joy to my world .

•Santa climbs up balconies not down chimneys

•2 year olds are obsessed with trees… period!

•Stars NOT Angels adorn the top of trees in Spain. We’ve had a angel for decades, it’s tradition. A star didn’t feel right, so our Spanish treetop remained bare

•Love transcends language barriers and cultural difference. We experience love through energy, you’ll recognized it when you feel it, see it or give it.


With the holiday over and the New Year in bloom, my compass recalibrates in the direction of home.

Home to concentrate on writing.

Home to connect with friends

Home to listen as my heart speaks in it’s native tongue, gesturing where my life purpose will lead.



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It’s the end of a memorable stay in Florence. In 2 months, I made a few lovely new friends, picked grapes from a vine, revamped my book, encountered a porcupine, wild boar and several slippery Italian men. I moved three times, sat among roses, hail storms, horses and kittens. I rode a bike with a Hungarian woman in the basket, walked the streets with friends and shared an umbrella with my daughter. Savoured my share of pizza and too many glasses of wine. Pledged my undying love to the river and took a nap along its banks. From the time I stepped from the train, to my final goodbye, this city has transformed me…. once again.

It’s manageable to say goodbye when you know it won’t be the forever. Regardless the heart aches for that which we adore and revere. I love you my sweet Florence.

Oh, I’m sorry, did you think because of the title I was going to talk about my love life….

A sampling of videos I took while in Florence, my first crack at editing with iMovie:

Two performers playing guitar laying down...

Two performers playing guitar laying down…

I defaced public property, with my initials on a wall, over 5 years ago and it's still here!!

I defaced public property, carving my initials on a wall, 5 years ago and it’s still here!!

Afternoon giggle with a friend in Fiesole, Italy

Afternoon giggle with a friend in Fiesole, Italy

I wish I'd had a chance to ride in this car. Next best thing was a picture.

I wish I’d had a chance to ride in this car. Next best thing was a picture.

Love a well designed wine rack.

I can’t resist a well designed wine rack.

Clever window dressing

What time is it? Clever window dressing

Wine and Food... it's Italy

Red wine and delicious food… it’s Italy


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For the first time in years of visiting Italy, I’m venturing to the deep Soooouth. I know what you’re thinking: “it’s about time”.

I couldn’t agree more and look forward to the adventure into an entirely new level of spectacular food, enchanting sights and unique residents. If Italians travel to Sicily for the food and relaxation, why shouldn’t I?

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Change of plans….. My trip from Cinque Terre to Sicily this month is on hold, indefinitely. The chapters of my book need attention and as you can imagine, book trumps travel.

With this unexpected revision, I rented an apartment in the centre of Florence to be closer to the pulse of this inspirational city. I would have stayed in the garden indefinitely, however, all the apartments with Federica are booked for the month of October.

In a moment of brilliance, I contacted my landlord, Manuele from 5 years ago, to my delight, he had an apartment unrented for October. It was meant to be.

I’m living on Via San Niccolo, a quaint Florentine street a block from the river. It’s not a blissful garden, however, I’m a hop skip and a jump from restaurants, shops, the cobblestone streets of Florence and my shy and stoic boyfriend David.

The Man himself

PG version of my GUY Dave

The scenic views of Piazzale Michelangelo and bells of The Duomo will sooth my meandering soul.

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It’s Vendemmia (grape harvesting) weekend in the garden where I’m staying in Florence. It’s been a buzz of work for those who actually work, they’ve been prepping all week for the Sunday harvest.

Natures pure nectar

Natures pure nectar

All the tools used to pick, collect, crush and store the grapes need to be cleaned and organized. Each year hundreds of families repeat this process in order to harvest their vines. At Residenza del Palmerino, in addition to inviting family & friends, Federica and Stefano have graciously extend the invitation to guests staying on the property, to join in this once in a lifetime experience. (this is my 2nd Vendemmia, they can’t get rid of me)

The Grape roll-press

Home made Grape press

As my cottage is in the vineyard, I have a front row seat to the comings and goings of the various family and helpers who make this day possible.IMG_1075



My role will be to stay out-of-the-way… if I achieve this basic task, I’ll be allowed to assist Federica with cooking, as well as table & chair set-up. If I’m particularly well-behaved, I’ll be authorized to rake the leaves gathering on the outdoor dance floor.

The rake on a break

The rake awaiting his dance partner….

The serving table prior to the food... I neglected to take a picture when it was full as I was busy EATING!

The serving table prior to the food… I neglected to take a picture when it was full as I was busy EATING!

Yesterday, I offered to make an authentic Italian salad for the event… I experience a pang of fear at the thought of serving this traditional salad to women who have been making and eating said salad since their first vendemmia:  In this next video are random thoughts and hollow promises to myself:

This morning, as I sat curled in a chair, savouring the first whisper of daylight, I noticed movement in the vineyard. There have been wild boar spotted on the property and the activity caught my attention.

As I squinted in the early morning light I realized it was the resident gardener, Beppe, he was hunched over removing the protective netting from the vines.

Netting to keep the birds away...

Netting to keep the birds away…(this pic was taken one month prior to harvest)

In the heat of summer, a netting is placed over the ripening grapes preventing birds from enjoying the fruit prior to harvest. Beppe was starting his long day of preparations for our enjoyment.

Most of us rarely think of the work that goes into throwing a party. From my vantage point, it’s unmistakable the effort that goes into this one and I for one feel privileged to be invited. As the guests arrive, I snap a few shots of grape harvest 2015:


Caught in the action..

Family time

The family that plays together…


A basket half-full… get clipping


This young man worked tirelessly. Bravo


Smiling is optional


Remember; no leaves. Makes for bitter vino.

Getting in on the action...

Me in action…actually, this photo is staged, I had a friend snap this shot prior to returning to my self-appointed duties as the event photographer.


Adorable Italians….

The family hired a band and the below video is their introduction to the Vendemmia:

We dance into the night:

This last video is of an impromptu performance by one of the woman staying on the grounds and two of her colleagues from the university:

By the way, the Italian ladies kind of  liked my salad. I noticed a few plates with the onions picked out. I guess I need to pull back on my amounts.

Below is the recipe in case you’re a fan. FYI- I’ve adjusted the onion amount in the recipe

**Italian Cannelloni Bean Salad**

Dried Cannelloni Beans – 1 package (680 grams or 1.5 lbs) Soak in plenty of water in a large dish over night, careful your bowl is large as  they will double in size.

Yellow Onion – 1  – Peel and cut into 4 sections

Sage ~ 1 bunch (of herbs of your choice Rosemary-Orageno)

Garlic – 5 cloves- peeled

Sea Salt ~ 8-grams – 1 Tablespoon

Place drained beans in pot and fill with water- add Onion, Sage, Garlic and Salt.

Bring to a boil – Simmer 2-3 hours until beans are cooked. Reserve (260 grams – 1 cup) cooking water and drain off remainder. (this step can be done a day ahead. You can use canned beans, however, they won’t have the same flavour without cooking them yourself in the flavour enhancing ingredients)

In a serving bowl lightly mix:

Cooked Beans

Purple Onion ~1 small – sliced paper thin (250grams-1 cup) soaked in water 30 min.

Olive Oil ~ (76 grams – 1/3 cup)

Reserved Water from cooking beans – (250 grams – 1 Cup)

Sea Salt and cracked pepper to taste.

Garnish with fresh chopped Rosemary ~ (optional)

buon appetito!!!

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After 40 days walking the Camino and 90 days in the intense Barcelona sun, my hair absolved itself of all responsibility of the past, forfeiting the old for a lifeless shade of strawberry blonde. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against blonds, I’ve simply never wanted to be one.

When I was a little girl, I didn’t like being a redhead, my mom assured me the red would darken by the time I was 18.

16 and still no sign of the red leaving...

At 17 I had the sinking suspicion things weren’t changing anytime soon…

It would seem my hair, like its owner, had a stubborn streak. Finally at 54, my red roots have decided to transform into their next incarnation. Like most adaptations, one has two choices: embrace or resist. Embracing is an easier choice at this stage for me.

A month into family time, on the beach in Barcelona, I noticed 85% of the new growth on my noggin, was decidedly darker than it had ever been “in my life“. The remaining 15% framing my face, was a mixture of white, grey and strawberry blonde. I felt it best to hire an artist to work with such an advanced spectrum of follicle chaos.

After arriving in Florence, my trusty style guru Donatella, booked an appointment with Fabio Velotti. Who could resist a guy named Fabio running his fingers though your hair? Inappropriate harrisment aside, he IS my favourite Florentine HairJazz performer. I wrote a story about him 2 years ago in a post titled: Splitting Hairs. As an added bonus, he renovated his salon, I can’t resits expert design on walls AND hair.

The New space

The New space, with an opening to the espresso bar, and loft/office above. I love the wall colour and look at that green metal cabinet behind the chair. LOVE it!!

This is from 2 years ago when he worked his magic on my hair. Note the change in the wall behind us and a new loft above makes for a usable office space. Love it!

This is from 2 years ago when he worked his magic on my hair. Note the change in the wall behind us and a new loft above makes for a usable office space. Love it!

Here is the start of my second adventure with Fabio owner of: RasoiHairJazz. His colourist Manualla was exceptional. She massaged the perfectly matched colour, by hand, into my hair, strand by strand. Who does that? It was a sight to behold. She indulged me as I took video and talked into the mirror while filming. Can’t imagine what she was thinking…

You too could be in “the chair” with “the master” Fabio:

A little fun with the Italians and Donatellas cut:

Final Reveal of my new hair… I like, I like:

New and Improved

The new and natural (with help) me. You can’t see how dark the back is. He matched the new colour emerging and left the white-grey-strawbery in the front. I’m too lazy to fight the enivetible while I’m traveling and writing.

Fabio and Manuella

Fabio and Manuella. I don’t know why I’m doing that thing with my leg, it must be the Jazz taking over….

It's not just Blonds who have the fun...

See. It’s not just Blonds who have all the fun. This was  me 2 days after my transformation, at a WineBar with the owners I met 5 years ago..!   You could say I’m having a “wee bit of fun”.

The Jazz collection. I have a sneaking suspicion this is not the entire stash...

The Jazz collection. I have a sneaking suspicion this is not the entire stash…


I can’t imagine how long it took to make this wall look this old…

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Florence is the city where my heart resides….

Loving walking along the Arno

Loving walking along the Arno

Iconic peek-a-boo view of the Duomo

Iconic peek-a-boo view of the Duomo

I’ve loved the past few days following the rhythm of this place. The cobbled streets, the buildings, people and the road to my apartment along Via de Palmerino. I’m staying in an apartment new to me. It’s on the second floor at Residenza del Palmerino and I share the kitchen with Federica, her husband and son.

Pranzo (lunch) in my room.

Pranzo (lunch) in my room.

It’s a pleasure to spend time with the three of them as they welcome me into their home like family. The road leading from the bus to their home is one of my favourite walks. I took this video this morning on my way home from the market.

Watch: Walking via del Palmerino 

You’ll be pleased to know, I’ve been working (a little) on my book and taking in the sights and flavours of Florence (a lot).

Dinner at Palmerino

Dinner at Palmerino

Funny thing about Italy, when you come here to work, the overwhelming charm of the county seduces you to walk, experience, take-in.

I love pictures of bicycles

I love pictures of bicycles

It’s not as easy to work as I thought it would be.

Tiny eggplant.

Tiny eggplant.

IMG_0892Last night I met with Monica and Donatella at restaurant for an aperitivo (drink and appetizer).

Restaurant in Florence

Restaurant in Florence

We enjoyed a leisurely visit, then slipped away for gelato at our favourite little place outside the city centre. Charming restaurant in Florence

I took this little video as I walked to meet Monica and Donatella : Watch: On the town in Florence

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This time tomorrow, I’ll be in Florence, Italy. The beauty, culture and romance of the city where my heart resides.

Piece of Bread anyone?

 Bread anyone?

One month within her welcoming walls to work-work-work on editing my book. I’ll be staying at the writers residence I discovered 5 years ago. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to be returning to the beauty of Tuscany and my lovely friends I had the pleasure of meeting while living in Federica’s beautiful residence.

I’ll keep you updated on any excitement I encounter and of course my walks in the spectacular hills.

Residenza del Palmerino 

Arrivederci amici

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Plumb Village R&R

At Plum Village the retreatants are divided into families. We gather in a circle for dinner and offer thoughts or concerns in what is formally known as Darmha Sharing. In addition, each person is assigned 60 minutes of work per day. It’s classified under the auspicious title of working meditation. I’m impressed, classifying work as meditation at a mindfulness/meditation retreat.

These uncomplicated jobs (dishes, gardening, kitchen prep, toilets, event set-up-take-down) are encouraged, although optional, if you find yourself busy or unable to participate, not to worry…stay calm and breath.

I changed families the second week. My new family name is “Nature Is Cool”. Our “working meditation” consist of tending the numerous flower and vegetable gardens on the grounds. My chosen mediative work is watering flowers. Flowers are a cushy upgrade… The first week here I was part of bathroom meditation. (Bathrooms take a special person and I’m not her)

Bathroom Meditation
Bathroom Cleaning: Not my cup of tea.

As a child, my introduction to working meditation came in the form of my Mom attempting to keep me busy. She placed a garden hose in my impatient hand, instructing me to water every row in her garden. Today, I loose myself in the intricate dance of water as it threads transparent pearls of nourishment over leaves then tumbling and vanishing into eager soil.

Watering the Flowers
Flowers in full bloom

You might be asking, “what possible problem could there be in watering”?  It wasn’t the work, it was my impatience and expectation that foiled my meditation. On day two my watering partner failed to show-up leaving me with double duty. For some unknown reason this produced a bitter taste in my mouth. I know, I know I’m at a mindfulness retreat and besides eating, walking and meditating, I’m not exactly run off my feet. Only problem… I’m human and her not showing, rubbed me the wrong way. Watering flowers is lovely, relaxing and calming I agree… twice the workload in the sweltering sun when all you want to do is relax in a hammock, put me in a less than mindful state

After finishing my work, plus an hour of hers, I plopped my crappy disposition under a shady tree trying to shift my mood…hammock

It perplexed me why I was so out of sorts. A weighty lesson of this retreat is to listen to the cues your heart offers.. I listened, it said a “time-out” would do me good. Time-out and dark chocolate that is. (I love how my discontentment prescribes chocolate)
I returned to my tent with a flask of tea, (imaging 2 weeks in Bordeaux surrounded by Monks who only drink TEA) I soothed my bitter disposition with the powerful healing properties of chocolate and tea. I eventually let go and drifted into a meditative chocolate induced sleep. In the morning I decided it was in everyone’s best interest for me to opt out of the daily activities. I relaxed on a blanket, read a book, visited a sunflower field, sat by the river and practiced meditation with a lovely french coffee and croissant.

Healing power of sunflowers.
Sunflowers make my day

By the afternoon my surly mood had shifted and that evening as I was mindfully watering the flower beds, a Sister thanked me for my diligence and suggested I was not only nourishing the flowers at Plumb Village, I was also cultivating the flowers in my own heart..

Her timely and accurate words trickled through me like the stream of water flowing from the hose in my hand. It never ceases to amaze me how life provides people and events to aide in our growth.

Do you want to hear something funny?  On the last day of the retreat, my watering partner confided in me she was struggling with a broken and wounded life and unable to participate fully in the retreat. She wasn’t even aware she had volunteered to water with me every day. I’d made an assumption and the only person to suffer was me…

I think i need a little more of this... :-)
I need to practice a lot more of this… 🙂
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Walking meditation to the sunflower field

 I’m staying at a retreat in France called Plum Village. It was created by Thich Nhat Hanh. A Buddhist Zen Master, exiled from Vietnam after speaking out against the  Vietnam war. He grew Plumb Village, from a single seed of hope in 1982, into the worldwide retreat it is today. 

My arrival is delayed after an exhaustive travel day consisting of 1 car, 2 trains, and 1 plane in Spain. Followed by 1 bus, a train missed by 3 seconds and a shared taxi.

Arriving in St Foy la Grande, France, I step down on the gravel platform greeting me at the seemingly deserted train station. Julys oppressively hot air is heavy with the welcoming scent of French lavender. I’ve missed the last shuttle to my final destination by 3 hours. My Spanish phone refuses to connect to the French taxi company suggested by the retreat website. 

I notice a young man in the parking lot with a familiar stance of confusion, I introduce myself. He’s from Chicago and as we chat a gentleman from Germany approaches us. We are all heading to Plum Village and decide to share a cab. 

With my cell phones current attitude, I cross the street to the hotel and ask the owner to call a taxi for us. He fusses and complains, informing me of his excessive workload. (He’s drinking a glass of wine with a patron as he grumbles this slightly inaccurate statement) 

After a 45 min wait, my new friends and I gratefully share taxi with a helpful driver to the retreat. The cabbie deposits me at the Lower Hamlet and drives on to Upper Hamlet with my fellow late-arrivals.  

view from the lotus pond


The beauty of Mother Nature


Plumb Village France consists four hamlets spread over 16km, 
*Lower:  for women and married couples. 
*Upper: single men and couples/families. 
*New Hamlet: couples/families. *Middle Hamlet: I’m not sure the designation. 

Plum Village is absolutely worth the tedious travel day. The grounds are spectacularly appointed with tranquility in mind. The sisters/nuns, who run this hamlet, are calm, inviting and supremely joyful. The sisters are primarily from Vietnam, their petite frames layered in deep-brown cotton robes. They move about the village unhurried, their  tiny feet enveloped in brown socks and slip on sandals as they walk mindfully throughout their community. 

Day begins at 5am to the sound of the morning bell. It’s heavy, tonal and exceptional, even at this early hour. 

The Big Bell as it is affectionately referred to.

I’m staying in the single ladies campground in a tent I purchased in Barcelona. I wake to the sound of zippers and soft shuffling as I move about the quiet of my nylon cocoon. I gather my clothing, facecloth and tooth brush as the sleeping sun rests in the darkened July sky. 

Mindful walking is a practice I’m working on, you walk with intention and never in a hurry. It takes patience, for me to adopt this practice. 

At 6am I join 200 other retreatants in the meditation hall. We sit lotus style on purple mats with coordinating cushions for one hour of meditation. My muscles are adjusting to this new sitting position.

We bow upon entering and leaving the hall. We bow a silent good morning to others, we bow to the Buddha at the front of the room, to the Sisters and to anyone we pass in the village. We even bow before speaking to one another. It’s a practice in mindfulness, offering a moment of silence to prepare for conversation.  

It’s primarily silence here, having said that, in July they host a family retreat and families consist of little voices attempting to comprehend the reason for silence. Which of course they find challenging.  I am amazed how well they do manage their age appropriate silence, despite their age. 

It’s been a spectacular first week filled with lessons on walking, talking, working and eating meditations. Eating slowly has been my biggest challenge and I’m succeeding in this environment. Fingers crossed for when I return to the real world.. It’s new paradigm thinking and living based on Buddhist teachings. Simple thoughts on living mindfully. Not as simple as one would think. 

This retreat has been on my list of  experiences. I’m grateful and often find myself giddy with expectation as to what I’ll learn here. Stay tuned for part 2 in the coming weeks. 


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I’m in Barcelona for the night with a couple I met on the Camino. I’m staying in a quaint little hotel: Hostal Martina, near Spain’s Arc de Triumph (


Arc de Triomf after a spring shower


 Lipstick and hair products post Camino. Oh how I missed my lipstick. 


I fly to Paris tomorrow for a little R&R with my Hungarian soul-sista, whom I met in Italy and is currently living in France. How’s that for a twisted set of circumstances. 

She was just awarded her PhD from the Sorbonne, in the city of light. As her crazy Canadian friend, it’s my duty to visit her annually… The hardships I must endure in the name of international peace. 

When I say R&R, I really mean, giggling like school girls, staying up late sharing our stories (oh to be a fly on the wall), drinking chilled champagne from Venetian goblets and eating French croissants in obsecure cafes, drenched in culture and the sweet parfume of Paris as she wakes in spring. 

First things first.. A round of Tapas in the land of Gaudí. Red wine will be involved! 

Now thats what I call an entrance light with ample wattage.

We had a spring shower and it rained flowers instead. Spaniards know how to show visitors an impressive show


First course at Mosquito. iI’d highly recommend it if your in Born, Barcelona


View of my window. I love the charm and romantic atmosophere.


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“The Camino whispers to your heart, gently reminding you of what you once knew made you happy.” ~ Shauna Marie MacDonald  

 Puenta La Reina 

One of the many gifts the Camino provides, is the ability to be in the present moment. When focus is reduced to: Your Feet, The Trail, The Views and The Now, retention of ordinary details, once significant, evaporates. 

On the trail, day-to-day recollection has a way of drifting away with the morning breeze. Ask a pilgrim where he or she slept the previous night and it often takes a minute of head scratching, or scanning their guide book, to force memory into action. How is it one can possibly forget a detail as simple as, where you laid your head, ten hours before? 
We live in a world of instant-gratification, with global access to information and people, a keystroke away. It takes a concerted effort to disconnect.  “Work-Eat-Sleep-Repeat”
The Camino shrinks your world to “Walk-Eat-Sleep-Repeat”. There’s a quality to learning from life when you pull back from the hundreds of worries and details, demanding your attention each and every day. 
There’s a rhythm in walking kilometer after kilometer, it gently dissolves the unnecessary details, allowing room for life, love, growth and experience to expand. 

VIDEO: Back in Barcelona with my family and a new appreciation for life.

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It’s the end of a remarkable day and journey. After several; No Room At The Inn replies, I found a place to sleep for the night. It wasn’t an easy task in a tourist rich location such as Santiago, Spain on a Saturday night before a holiday.  

 Shaded road on my lady day in 


 City Sign


 Selfie in front of city market sign. seems to be well appointed with art work. 


Settled in, clean and rested, I walk the streets of this remarkable city. The inhabitants and guests are lively and boisterous. I pass a bar open to the street, where 30 young Irish football (soccer) players are celebrating. Their songs and laughter ripple through the square like thunder between mountains. 

Diversity in music is displayed throughout the inner-city as artists  share their talent from opera, to jazz, instruments and dance. The city is alive. My body and mind are depleted. I do however manage dinner at a local pub and a cursory 2 hour walk appreciating the culture. The minute my head hits the pillow I fall into the deepest sleep I’ve had in 6 weeks, lasting over nine hours.  

 Almost there. i followed this guy as he seemed to know where he was going. Turned out i was right. 



 I stayed here for a while basking in the sunshine and personal acomplishment. 


 View of the Catherdral from my room. 

  VIDEO: Evening in Santiago 

 From the second floor entrance

On Sunday morning I wake to a gentle rain shower. My thoughts go immediately to my fellow pilgrims trying to reach Santiago today. I am grateful to be cuddled under a down comforter. My walking shoes seem to stare at me from across the room, I smile at them and shake my head: “not today my friends, not today.” 
A woman I met in St Jean is meeting me for coffee. It’s been over a month since we’ve seen one another. We discuss our experiences on the Camino and embrace for one final goodbye. 


 With my Compostella


 Official Compostela: My name is written in Latin (the latin thrills me to no end) 


 This cross is the standard cross you see all along the Camino


 VIDEO: First time front row seats at Mass caused me to smile.. 

 the church 

              VIDEO: Catholic Mass meats Disneyland 

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My plan to reach Santiago on Sunday has been foiled. I neglected to consider one tiny-tiny detail, it’s Saturday on the Camino and all the Albergue, Pensions & Hotels are booked. Seems the other 2000 pilgrims on the Camino, learned of my brilliant plan to reach Santiago on Sunday morning in order to attend the pilgrims mass. Only difference between them and me, they made reservations or arrived early in the day. I did neither… 

 Many of the lilies are finished for the season, this one held on and graced the path


Loved this creatuve use of slate for this picnic table. One of my many pit-stops


 Excitement every 1/2 km thanks to these markers


 Beauty in the face of adverse conditions



  This marker was littered with signitures.. aparently they want to leave a tiny mark to make it real!! 


Plan B. Walk the additional 6km for a grand total my last day of 45. Far beyond anything I’ve walked to date. I’m running on adrenaline and pure excitement.

VIDEO: My unplanned Plan encounters a slight wrinkle..

My day consists of slightly overcast skies, shaded paths and leisurely rest-stops. These circumstances saved my last day walking. 

The trek into Santiago is relatively easy, however from your first glimpse of the city, it takes you an additional 60-90 min of walking to reach the cathedral. The time delay, for me, is welcome, I have no intention of rushing this final day.    

 I place a rock on the final marker.


Santiago did not disappoint as you’ll see from the video below. I am enchanted and exceedingly moved by the experience. 

VIDEO: Walking into Santiago 

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I’m in the homestretch to Santiago


It’s push time on my Camino. To this point, I’ve never had much of a plan as to how or when I’d reach Santiago. It’s been more about the journey than the end result. Along the path today, there are markers every 1/2 km indicating how far to Santiago and it’s given me an insensitive to reach my final destination. Fortunately it hasn’t manifested in a frantic pace, only one of joyful completion.  

Church in the light of dawn


 VIDEO: Day 37-My plan for Santiago-I didn’t say it was a well thought out plan. 


Lovely place to stop for morning coffee 


Oldest tree in this region




 I had the fortune to met this lovely centered man from australia, Simon, who is opening a retreat fir pilgrans. complete with yoga, massage, reki, meditation and quality food.  

 There are individuals you meet who give all they can to the pilgrims walking by. Simon was one of the many gifts I encountered at the right place, right time. I was hungry (I’d missed breakfast that day) and tired, the next village, 5Km away. I came upon what looked like an abandoned building with a table filled with fruit and an assortment of healthy goodies at the entrance. It was one of the many offerings you find along the Camino, for anyone passing by. If you chose, you leave a donation, if not, it’s given without expectation. 

Simon, an Australian gentleman in the courtyard, was the owner of the soon to be renovated establishment. He was speaking with one of the 3 pilgrims gathered. He invited me (the others, declined) to join him for breakfast. How did he know? Angels on the Camino, appear when you need them the most. 

 VIDEO: Day 38 (not 28) I’m walking to Santiago (not St Jean) Must be the increased km causing my brain to misfire… 

Bridge into Portamarin


 Creative use of slate to build a picnic bench


 Flowers display dignity in spite of their harsh surroundings


 quiet place of contimplation

 Now that I’ve made a decision to move forward my feet and mind have kicked into high gear. With my blisters healed, my tendinitis under control and my goal within walking distance (funny, considering that is all I’ve been doing for the past 6 weeks) The path has become richer, with increased meaning. 

 VIDEO: Day 40-Feeling excited I’m only one day from Santiago


 A few months ago, a 25km sign would have little meaning except “how fast will my car get there in?” 

These marker stones give your goal definition. I can’t say I was thrilled to see them at first, however, like everything the Camino teaches, the lesson for me was: accepting what is offered, no matter what!  

VIDEO:Day 40-Avoiding a boisterous group of pilgrims

I’ve be fortunate with the weather on my trip. Less than 3 days of spitting rain. I did have 3-4 days of bitter cold winds though. I was grateful for my Gortex gear on those days. 


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I’ve posted several videos from my days on the Camino. I hope you enjoy watching…

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I’m in the homestretch to Santiago 

VIDEO on my plan..

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Please find my latest blog on WalkWithMeWorld. I’m having technical difficulties posting it on this site. 

Chat soon… Shauna 

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Pushing through pain on The Camino will produce one of two results. You’ll reach the desired destination victorious or your body will teach you who’s boss. Video In hotel-Burgos 

 My first view of the Burrgos Catherdral


  How did they know this is how I feel after a long day walking? 


  Look up.. Look way way up. 


 inviting location 


After discovering I had tendinitis, I surrendered and relaxed for three days. It’s well known on the Camino, there’s always an option to take a bus or cab to the next village, if you find yourself unable to continue. It was my turn to push Camino guilt aside, I hopped a bus to Burgos, checked into a hotel and for the entire first day, held up in my room, relaxing, recovering, and savouring being alone.

In every village, town and city along this historical pilgrimage, I’ve been  amazed by the kindness of the Spanish people. 

The day I arrived it was raining and I went to buy groceries. It was no surprise to me when I found myself lost in a new city. I stood underneath an archway examining my map when a gentleman asked me if he could help. Even though he was walking the opposite direction, he turned and walked me personally to my hotel, pointing out places and people. I understood very little of what he said, his kindness was a gift and was offered selflessly. 

Another day, I was looking for a sport store to buy new runners. I was on the corner looking at a map, when a young man approached, asking if I knew where the bus station was. I felt good to be able to help, we located it on the map. It was across the street and over two streets. I smiled at him and marveled, how we can communicate even without a common language. 

When the light changed, he insisted I cross the street. It became clear, he thought I was looking for the bus station. He asked if I needed him to walk me there. When I declined his offer to chaperone, he walked off happy to have helped a pilgrim. The Spanish are so gracious, they help even when you don’t actually require any!  

 My favorite meal … 


 Loved the cheekyness of this place


video of me leaving Burgos

The result of having tendinitis has been that I’ve had to walk slower. Walking slower has changed my Camino. Due to my slow pace, I’m the one people walk pass, with that there is now an opportunity for them to talk. With the sign on my back: “what are you grateful for” it engages many people. 

  beautiful walk out of Burgos this morning 


 The rivers and bridges in Spain are a gift to the eyes. 


  Fork in the road.. You can see the yellow arrow on the wall. We follow arrows all day! 

VIDEO Day 17  

     sitting outside San Antón. i almost missed the treasure across the road as the gates were closed and it looked deserted. lucky for me fate intervened 


    Ruins of chapel in San Antón

video Day 18    

  San Antón Ruins 


  Dinner with a lively group of pilgrams in a 12th century  monastary in San Antón

 Video-Day 19 

Video- Lunch Break

  Walking the camino, the sun is always at your back.

 Video of my shadow walk 

 Mist in Sunrise 

Video-Day 23 Mothers Day

My Mothers Day walk offered a unique twist. A young Texan named Daniel, gave me the gift of company. We walked together for hours, then happened upon, what we affectionately called a Hippie Alburge. It came complete with a fantastic, if not unusual, host from Germany. He stayed to work at the place, after falling in love with the relaxed atmosphere over a year ago and has no plans of leaving.
I napped in the hammock, watched a donkey steal someone’s lunch, found comedy in the interaction between chickens, geese, dogs and a heard of sheep. I cooked dinner for the first time in weeks, sat around a campfire with new friends, then slept in a teepee. Without question, a unique Mothers Day.  

 Resting after a long hot walk. Mothers Day 


    Hugs for Daniel. He filled in as my son on Mothers Day 

  I shared the teepee with The Great Dane -Bjorn

There’s a pilgrim tradition to walk the Camino at night. It seems unusual and unsafe, however, it turned out to be a night of laughter, new friendship, bar hopping, singing, sharing life experience, a police chase, (or something like a police chase) and a sky filled with Spanish stars. We walked from 6p.m. until 2 a.m. We giggled ourselves to sleep under the night sky. By morning it was cold, damp, uncomfortable and the pilgrims were cranky. Coincidentally, we were camped out next to a 5* hotel. It didn’t take us long to decide to treat ourselves to private rooms with big bathtubs. Excellent decision!!  


 Church along the way on our night walk 


  We slept under the stars. . It was beautiful to start, however the ground was hard and cool by morning… burrr!

 There’s never a dull moment on the Camino. It is filled with pilgrims who nurture your spirit, open new doors, teach you, inspire you and often walk on the next day. It’s important to make every moment count here, you never know if you’ll seen these people again. It’s a brilliant metaphor for life. 

 Night walk with Bjorn and Helen 

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So much to share of the previous five days. 

I’ve experienced physical, mental and spiritual blisters. With it, an abundance of Gtatitude has flourished around and through me. 

“What Are You Grateful For” (This photo was taken of me by a fellow Pilgram)

On the lighter side, I’ve been ordered to rest in a hotel room with a bathtub and a vast selection of local wines..(I’m not 100% sure if the last part isn’t a slight exaggeration) Que the harps and let the choir sing..  

Day 8- Leaving Logroño, I had the privilege of walking with a gentleman from Sweden with a remarkable life story. He reluctantly (at first) shared his journey from brain cancer to the Camino. For 20 years he put off walking. After finishing treatment two weeks ago, he made the commitment to walk to Santiago. To my delight, our paths crossed, on this remarkable path.

“The Camino Provides.” Is something you hear often while walking. For me, expansion lives in those 3 words. When you least expect it, you have the very thing you need. Rarely in the form you expect. Accepting what’s offered and releasing resistance to the lessons, are key factors on the Camino. 

After our walk and enlightened conversation, I met Michael the owner of Pilgrams, in the village of Navarrete. He has walked the Camino 5 times himself and is now living his dream of owing an Albergue along the Camino. 

He suggested several unique Albergues for me to stay in villages dotted along the Camono map. 

Michael..owner of Pilgrims Navarete


Dinner at Albergue – Pilgrims


Church outside the village

Enchanting little pensione

I find myself walking primarily alone and often it leads to interesting conversations with myself and the landscape around me: Appreciating the vines

Day 9-My path crossed these two interesting fellows who’ve been walking the Camino 4Years. They might be a tad touched, you decide by clicking here:




Walked with Angela and Daniele in the last 3km after communing with the grapes. Sanity at last.


Angela from Spain


A cross on top of a hill is not uncommon.


I’ve walked 200km…Didn’t know I had it in me. “Insert Happy Dance here”

Beautiful village I passed through.

Day10-In the tiny village of Grañón, I felt I’d earned my PilgrimStatus. Funny how communal cooking, a local festival in the village, complete with chiros generously slathered in sugar, followed  by sleeping on a mat in the loft a of church, has the power to transform. I LOVED the experience.  

Sunshine on the boots helps freshen the unfreshanable… No, not really!


The church reception

Conversation corner-

Kitchen where magic happens

front door and courtyard

Main entrance to the church


The door and only sign denoting this Albergue


Did I mention I LOVE this door


Pilgrams waiting for the wine . personally i wouldnt make them wait too long…


Communal dishes.


Don’t get me wrong, I don’t see myself trading in my wardrobe for a munks cloak anytime soon.  

Church view Video- click here:

Day 11- was one of those days where you learn more than you ever thought possible in a 24hour period. I stayed in the tiny village of Tosantos. The accommodations were similar to the previous night, the experiences surpassed everything so far for several reasons.

  • In the final 5km, I had a burst of energy and allowed it to romance me into thinking I was an Olympic walker. A painful idea in the end. 
  • The Albergue came with a Padre who was both spiritual and playful in his teachings.
  • During a non-denominational gathering, we read, out-loud, a selection of wishes and prayers of Pilgrams, from the weeks prior. The padre prays on the wishes of these people, every day for 20 days. Imagine that!! We had the opportunity to add our own wishes to the gilded box holding these slips of paper. (A sliver of time impacting all who attended)

Before going to bed, I discovered an unusual blister on my heal, no doubt due to my power walk. My foot and shin ached throughout the night. 

The following morning, not listening to my body, I falsely believed I was in perfect walking condition. In less than 8km, my leg had its own thoughts on the matter, in the form of a sharp pain in my leg and heal. 

Long story short.. I’m grounded in a village called “Villafranka” for 1 or 2 days. Fortunately, there’s a lovely hotel to ease my aching leg. Hotel San Anton  The owner and his two sons are being attentive to my every whim. Ice pac, ibuprofen, a medicinal leg rub (not the pleasant relaxing kind though..this one had me limping worse than before) 

All is well:  I’ve learned an important lesson:

Listen to the experienced voice of the Camino de Santiago.. “This is not a race”

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 Day 5-6-7 Camino de Santiago 

Puente La Reina

  Street scape   For you M.M.

   From the middle of the bridge at dawn.

 Iconic bridge along the Camino   Sunrise I happened to follow a photographer. I was intrigued by the things he’d stop and photograph. He inspired this shot. Little did he know I was watching him so closely. 🙂

 That’s me walking toward  a coffee.

The object of my affection.. Coffee and a croissant, in da-village-ahither..

 Poppies abound and this one was particularly bright. (Can you tell I love poppies?) 

I rested on the far side of this serene bridge, with “Hero” who’s from Japan. He shared his snack and I shared my tea. Friendships blossom in quiet moments along this mystical trail.

  I was blessed to share a fascinating  conversation with Warren, He’s an engineer from Denmark who is currently on a new life path.

  After walking 23km, I stumbled upon paradise, under the auspicious name of La Casa Magica  in the village of Villatuerta-this is the mediation room.

La Casa Mágica    I’ve had my shower, washed my clothes and I’m relaxing in a hammoc with wine and a book. Really…Does it get any better than this?

  My little pod..  

 View from my cozy pod. 



 Dinner truly was Delicious and the company fascinating. Everyone enjoyed themselves and I’m sure slept well…the wine and conversation flowed that night.

Click here to view VIDEO:

On the road again.  Heading to places unknown. 

 Water droplets and a spider web!  


Unfortunately this church was closed.  

VIDEO-Church Bells in the rain 

Now that’s a Door!  

 Bridges never disappoint.

 Church in Estella  

click to view nature VIDEO

 Views are special even in the rain.  

 Wine or Water on tap. Gotta love the Spanish!

   Museum of wine 

In the museum of wine. My kind of place.      Irises blooming   


Click to VIEW VIDEO:Interesting afternoon on The WayClassic Camimo de Santiago picture. I appreciated the flowers in the boot. 

    Oh oh…Foot problems. I see a break in my future. 

  The fountains intrigue me. 

A carnavors delight.   

  Evening in Logrono with pilgrims      

   Friendships are forged on the Camino. 

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Identifying with the rogue horses in this video. (Sorry to use the link to YouTube,  I’m unable to add video directly from my phone)

Walking to Pamplona today was a lovely experience. Only 21km and it felt easier than day 1&2. I’ll be spending two nights here, it’s too beautiful to walk away from after only one afternoon. 


   Grateful to be cossing the bridge into Pamplona.  I’ve developed a small blister on my big toe! Need a little R&R, a glass of wine will help ease my tired tootsies! 


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This video was taken 2 hours into the day. WALIKING IN THE WOODS

The terrain changed drastically 10 minutes after this was shot. Five hours later, my enthusiasm to walk the final 5km vanished into thin air as I stumbled into the sleepy village of ZUBIRI. 

I’m sitting comfortably , freshly showered, drinking wine and listening to the host prepare dinner. Don’t even think of challenging my decision.  🙂  

Filling my water bottle . This depicts the ancient and lovely water fountains  on the trail. (The running water below, I believe, is run-off from the recent rains) 

  Sheep grazing in the spring sunshine 


Quaint village. The church bells were ringing as I rounded the end of this road. Spectacular!! 

  Newly paved paths. I’ll like it once nature distresses it a little.

 Graceful old building , I liked the look of.

  On shaky ground here. I’m hungry, hot and tired. Hun-ho-tie!! Not a Happy Camper!  Uprooted tree. There was Flash-Flooding, on the trail, last week. 


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As a woman walking on a public path, there are certain limitations when nature demands attention. 

Below I explaine  Coffee vs. Full Moon Rising

Or watch on my Camino blog: 


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I’ve made it to my starting destination in France. Sitting enjoying a caffe and pastry to start the day. This is the day to relax. 

Last night I stayed with 2 cousins from Nepal who now live in Canada & the U.S. As well, a woman from Zimbabwe who raised her family in South Africa and now lives in Australia. Makes for a charming accent and lively conversations. 

The sun is aching to make an appearance through the clouds. Tomorrow’s forecast sunny with a chance of showers. Muddy and wet on the pass. Gators will defiantly be used in the morning. 


Having my Camino passport officially stamped by Jacque. He made a mistake and stamped it upside down. He wanted to make a new one, as he’s never done that in 29 years. A good start to a unique journey… I love it!!  

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This is what they say to those walking The Way of St. James: BUEN

Below is a video I shot on the hill outside Barcelona yesterday morning. Have a lovely day, when I see you next, I’ll be on My CAMINO:

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I’ve been training and organizing last minute details, here in Barcelona. I’ll head to France Saturday morning.

A 4 hour train will deposit me in Pamplona. I’ll transfer to a bus which will whisk me off to St. John Pied de Port, France 6pm-ish. (7-8 hours travel)

It’s my intention to spend Sunday in St. John enjoying the scenery, applying for my Pilgram Passport, (not a complicated process) and taking it easy prior to Monday, April 20. Monday, will be my 2ndofficial start date.

I have butterflies today. They remind me of the significance this historic pilgrimage will have on my life. I know the woman I am today will be left behind.

Enthusiastic anticipation is my constant companion this week. I feel prepared for the first step of the 780 km walk.

camino de santiago

I’ll allow 40 days to complete. I have a sneaking suspicion I’ll find myself in locations where an extra 24-48 hours will be as beneficial to my journey, as the actual walking.

Thank you for WalkingWithMe, it gives me comfort knowing I’m not alone.

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I arrived in one piece… delayed, NOT discouraged. 


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easter_eggs_8It was a frantic Easter weekend preparing my home, luggage and life for a year overseas. April 6th: Easter Monday was D-Day. My original KLM departure was cancelled, I was rebooked on an Air Canada flight.

Brimming with Gratitude, Barcelona was 13 short hours away.

As I settled into my seat to Spain, the woman behind me attempted to raise a 27lb suitcase into the overhead bin. It slipped from her hands and landed on my unsuspecting head.

Overhead luggage

Below is a 5 day odyssey, kicking off my WalkWithMe journey.

April/6th: With a goose-egg forming on my forehead and growing aches in my neck and shoulder, I was escorted from the plane by a paramedic and 3 flight attendants. Considering it took over 45 min from the time of impact, the remaining passengers gave me an unceremonious send-off, better known as: The-Walk-Of-Shame.

Even though I was mobile, insurance rules required me to be wheeled through the airport on a stretcher, to a waiting ambulance. The upside of riding with this particular medical escort, was the hilarious exchange between the two female paramedics.

Darcee Smith

Darcee waiting with me in Emergency.

Darcee and her partner in crime, had me in stitches and incredibly Grateful to be in the company of professionals who love what they do.


Inspirational reading for Hikers of all ages

I was given a clean bill of health by the attending Dr. and due to the fact I’d cancelled my cell phone, I couldn’t even inform my loved ones of my predicament. The only working phone was for a cab, I called and headed in the direction of my daughters home. I was homeless in my own city as my house was now in the possession of my renters.

As the cabbie passed my favourite pizza place Pulchinella’s, I asked him to let me out. Cardinal rule of drop-ins: never arrive unannounced and famished when begging family or friends for a place to sleep.  I ordered my in-flight meal: a sizzling margarita pizza with a glass of red wine. No turbulence on this journey!


April 6th-7th-8th: My convalescence consisted of: Giggles, tears, laughter, cuddles, potty-training-calamities, sumptuous meals and family time wrapped in the loving arms of my daughter, husband and 2 adorable grand-babies. My Gratitude cup runneth over.

Grandchildren April 8th & 9th: I was rebooked to Barcelona with a quick stopover in London. There was a slight hiccup due to the Air Traffic Controllers strike in France. Flight after painful flight to Barcelona was cancelled. An unlikely landing awaited me in the form of  a hotel near the airport. Gratitude oozed as my aching head touched crisp linen sheets.

Park Inn London Heathrow

April 10th: A 3:45 a.m. wake-up call to board the 4:15 shuttle for a 6:20 flight. A friendly waiter from the hotel offered me a complimentary espresso brewed especially for me as I waited for my ride. It’s interesting how effortless Gratitude flows, when kindness is obvious and recognizable.

Gratitude, patience and joy, eluded me at check-in with the discovery I was one of several over-booked passengers. As the manager from British Airways apologized for the mixup, tears spilled from my eyes and I surrendered defeat. He was ever so kind, kneeling beside me, personally guaranteeing I’d be on the next flight. I looked in his eyes and recognized an opportunity: by offering him Gratitude, my luck would shift.

It’s funny, I know these 5 days were given me, to test my belief in the power of Gratitude. We teach what we need to learn and in order to truly learn, we are given examples after example until our belief is stronger than our doubt. Apparently, I required several direct blows to the head in order to understand, the path I’ve chosen, will have its challenges, it will also be brimming with simple pleasures, when I’m conscious enough to appreciate them.

April 11th: I have ARRIVED!!  I’m writing this from a garden in Barcelona, Spain.


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Walk With Me – Reason #1

This video by David Faddis, conveys, through music and visual expression, why I’m walking The Camino.

Music: “We Don’t Eat” – James Vincent McMorrow (2010)

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Just Do ItMy WalkWithMe journey has morphed into a 12 month rendezvous with Gratitude and walking. As you can imagine, I have more than enough to keep me in a frenzied state: Endless lists and suggestions on what to take, what to leave, even how to pack. Increasing the waking/training schedule and then this week, I had a lesson on how to walk with poles. I can see needing a lesson in pole-dancing, who knew I required one in pole-walking? Perhaps, I’ll combine the two. It would make an interesting statement on The Camino!

I found a remarkable couple to rent my home. They love to cook and entertain and I liked them instantly. Get this, they walked Camino de Santiago a few years ago. I’ll rest easy in the knowledge they are enjoying my house and yard as I do.

Between decluttering and organizing my space, I’ve been squeezing in goodbye visits with friends and missing them before I’ve even boarded the plane. I have a sneaking suspicion a few of the diehards will find their way overseas, before the year is out.

As if 40 days on the Camino weren’t enough, I have additional walks planned for this yearlong Gratitude journey. My WalkWithMe itinerary is free-flowing and comes with a caveat, when I crave my children or grandchildren, dates & locations WILL be tossed aside, accommodating endless cuddles and family time. Perhaps, there will be an opportunity for my kidlings to actually walk with me.


 *April – 2015
1 week Barcelona
2 weeks (part 1) – Walking the Camino de Santiago from France to Spain 
*May – 2015
3 weeks (part 2) – Walking the Camino de Santiago from France to Spain
1 week R&R – somewhere in Spain 
*June – 2015
4 weeks Barcelona (family)  
*July – 2015
2 weeks Ireland – (deciding where to walk) 
1-2 weeks Scotland – Highlands
 *August – 2015 
4 weeks Portugal (family)
*September – 2015
2 weeks Italy, Florence: Writers retreat
1 week volunteering Antinori Winery during harvest.
1 week waking the Chinque Terre  
*October – 2015
4 weeks – Monasteries of Italy: Assisi, Naples, Amalfi, Pompeii, Reggio, Sicily   
*November – 2015
2 weeks Greece – Greek Islands
1 week Turkey – Istanbul
1 week Turkey – Cyprus 
*December – 2015
4 weeks Spain Barcelona (family)
*January 2016
2 weeks Australia – Ayers Rock
1 weeks New Zealand – (reviewing options) suggestions?
1 week Singapore – Gardens of Singapore
*February 2016
2 weeks Thailand 
2 weeks Vietnam 
*March – 2016
4 weeks Bali (6wks total) 
*April  – 2016
2 weeks Bali
2 weeks Tokyo Kumano Kodo, Osaka

Click here to view my Vlog post on: SOUL RESISTANCE

I can’t possibly be the only one, share a time when you stepped outside your comfort zone?

Posted in Camino de Santiago, Gratitude, Hiking, INSPIRATION, Spain, TRAVEL, Walking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments


FIVE things I didn’t  know about training for THE CAMINO.

#5 ~ People shopping or working at MEC, Atmosphere or REI, ask questions such as, “What brand of socks do you prefer and why?”  My response doesn’t exactly satisfy their query: “This colour matches my hiking boots.”

A collection of Smartwool socks

A collection of Smartwool socks

#4 ~ When you don a backpack in the city, you’re suddenly mysterious & intriguing. Enquiring minds want to know…?images-1

#3 ~ Feet become your focus. You even take pictures of them.

I discovered I was tying my shoes too tight. Problem solved.

I discovered I was tying my shoes too tight. Numb toe issue solved.

#2 ~ In the hiking world, there is a portable container called a WaterBladder. Seriously, they couldn’t find a better name than bladder?  Not to worry folks, I’ll alert Wikipedia and have it changed to WaterOnTap

water bladder

#1 ~ Hair & Make-up take a backseat to Gear & Function. What will become of my lipgloss collection?images-2

My 2nd video on YouTube: Sunshine and Shoes

Posted in Camino de Santiago, FRIENDSHIP, Gratitude, Hiking, INSPIRATION, Spain, TRAVEL, Walking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments