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. 

PLUM VILLAGE WEBSITEwww.plumvillage.org

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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 (http://www.hostalmartinabarcelona.com/en/presentacion)


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 oprah, 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 state at me from across the room and I smile at them, 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 vineshttps://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=em-upload_owner&v=SvzS8WuiFO4

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: https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=I0zIRML_xeE

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?

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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

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The commencement of training for my Camino began a few weeks back. With a mid April, start date in glaring view, I’ve stepped up my conditioning to walking several hours per day. The Camino de Santiago requires me to walk 26km (16.1 miles) each and every day for 30+ days. Daunting to say the least. (When I say, “I’ve stepped up my scheduled training”, I mean that in loose terms)

Camino de SantiagoMy mountaineering friend and trainer Laurie Skreslet, has agreed to keep me on track by cracking the proverbial whip when I break into childish whining and absurd justifications. I suspect he’s heard every clever excuse I have stashed up my newly adorned Patagonia sleeve.

it's too hard

This weekend, I recorded my first VideoBlog~Vlog, introducing the pilgrimage. As the trail is physically demanding, I’ll be filming Blogs in place of wordy postings, while walking the Camino. Be prepared for spectacular scenery, unkempt hair, child-like whimpering and preposterous rational. Not necessary in that order.

Click here to watch my 1st: Walk With Me~Vlog

A humorous side-note: one of my daughters thought I looked suspiciously happy, asking if I was on drugs while filming it. She laughed and added, “Mom, I can see you’re high on life.”

High or not, I’m feeling the love, support and encouragement from my family and friends.

Tell me, have you ever challenged yourself in a physical way? This is a first for me…


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Camino-de-Santiago-2005-278-1024x550Now that I’ve made this declaration to walk the Camino de Santiago, I’m being tested on my commitment. Last night, I woke to my heart skipping in my chest. Not the skip you feel when Matthew McConaughey removes his shirt: oh-no, far from it.

Mattew It’s the grip of fear that races through your solar-plexus at 3 am asking: “what makes you think YOU can do this, it’s 791 kilometres?”  Fear is malicious, it allows doubt to flourish and is packed with clever sayings and shameless common sense. Where is Matthew when you need a cuddle?

I came across an author from Boise Idaho, Kurt Koontz. He wrote an inspiring book on his month walking The Camino titled; A Million Steps.

A Million StepsOh My God, a million steps?   One MILLION…..Seriously?

See how quickly I fall into panic mode. I know I’m allowed to back out, this is a choice and all I have to do is make another choice.

One snag, The Camino is begging me to walk with her. (Is a pilgrimage a Him or a Her?) I’ve decided it’s a Her. Only a female entity would provoke you physically, pack the journey with quiet moments allowing inner growth, then place it in a remote location, fostering space between your previous life and the opportunity for expansion.

camino de santiago

To quell my fear and give this journey meaning, I’ve decided to dedicate this walk to my favourite topic: GRATITUDE. If you’re interested in following my facebook group, click the link below, I’d be honoured to have you join: CULTIVATING GRATITUDE. I post a little ditty on Gratitude every 2-3 days.

In addition, to expand the power in Gratitude, I’ll write about my time on The Camino through blogging. Firstly, this Blog requires a spectacular name. I’m open to any and all suggestions. Here are a few I came up with.

1. Walking 4 Gratitude

2. Cultivating Gratitude (not exactly new)

3. Your brilliant suggestion goes right here!

Here’s to kicking fear in the arse….


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Have you ever had the feeling life is on the verge of transformation?

I’m in that fuzzy place between a comfortable existence and an unquenchable thirst to walk the 780 km pilgrimage from France to Spain: The Camino de Santiago Trail.

imagesI know what you’re thinking, “Shauna, you are not the adventurous type, unless you consider a quiet afternoon at the beach….adventurous.” The Camino is 30 days of hiking, slugging a backpack by day and evenings spent in an Albergue. (a fancy spanish word for hostile).  albergue

Initially, I considered blaming this deranged idea on my youngest daughter. She lives in Spain and was the first to mention the trail 3 years ago.  The unfortunate flaw in trying to absolve myself of any and all accountability is that when she was young, I made the mistake of repeating, “We are all responsible for our own actions”.

be careful *Parents…be careful what you tell your kids, they remember and are waiting to use it against you when you’re older.

Lacking a scapegoat, I find myself in the annoying position of having to admit this idea is a product of my own design.

Camino de Santiago

In the coming weeks, I’ll report on my progress. I eagerly await your tips on footwear, rain-gear and all recommendations of psychologists specializing in mid-life lunacy.

What are your thoughts on Spain in spring?



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The afternoon sun embellished the threads of my linen shirt as it dried on the rooftop clothesline. This was my chance to snap one of those ‘artsy’ photos. I raced down the stairs of my daughters apartment to grab my camera.

Not the actual photo as I never made it back to the rooftop.

Not the actual photo as I never made it back to the rooftop.

In my haste and enthusiasm, I missed the last step tumbling to the landing without the slightest hint of grace. The last stepI’d hurt myself and despite the tantrum seizing my foot, my mind was screaming this one objective: “I’m going to Paris on Friday-I am GOING to Paris on Friday, Pleeeeeezze” Fortunately, it was only a sprain and the following 4 days, I treated it with the tenderness and respect it demanded.

Friday arrived, I was grateful for minimal swelling and only a slight limp. I made a last-minute decision to wrap my ankle in the tensor bandage I’d abandoned the previous afternoon. Barcelona to Paris is a relatively quick trip, however I knew I had a considerable distance to cover on foot. Rest-Ice-Compression-ElevationEntering the Barcelona airport, I was thrown off-balance by hundreds of impatient passengers standing in line after line. The terminal was experiencing electrical difficulties with computers, lights, telephones and self-check kiosks. My heart sank – after all my stringent pedi-care….Paris bistros, croissants and quiet afternoons along the Seine seems to be slipping through my fingers.

longing for Paris What to do, what to do? Without considering possible consequences, I headed toward the check-in counter playing up an exaggerated limp. I scanned the faces of the frantic staff and decided a tall gentleman with a walky-talky was my best chance of making the flight.

walky talky

A pang of guilt griped my throat as he reacted with kindness to my unrehearsed theatrics. I knew I was on a slippery slope when I overheard him radio ahead for a wheelchair. Seriously, all I wanted was an opening near the front of the line. I was desperate people, I NEEDED to get to Paris. (Ok so ‘need’ is a slight exaggeration)

In my own defence, I never park in handicap zones, or occupy the large stall in the washroom. Over the next 3 hours I systematically forfeited any brownie points I may have accumulated in my lifetime. sillateyder-150x150Within 10 minutes, a lovely young lady arrived with a wheelchair. I was now committed to this performance. Meryl Streep had nothing on me as I lowered myself to the waiting chair.. She wheeled me for 5 min across the terminal to an X-ray machine designed for passengers with strollers, wheelchairs or oversized luggage. My only hope of absolution, once on the plane, I could let my guard down and take shelter behind my Oscar for Best Lead in the Duplicity category.


And The Oscar Goes To…

After the customary security pat down, my escort rolled me the 10 min to gate D42, she handed me off to a cheery gentleman in a green onesie with matching reflective vest. He wheeled me in the opposite direction to a service elevator where we descended 3 floors to the tarmac below. After loading me into a wheelchair van, he drove to the base of the stairs of the waiting plane. To make maters worse, the able-bodied passengers had been delayed boarding until I arrived. They were crammed into a humid transfer-bus, waiting on my arrival. The jumpsuit clad chaperone graciously offered his arm and guided me up the stairs to my appointed seat.

Finally…… This charade was coming to an end.

Vueling To my embarrassment, the flight attendant upgraded me to the second row. Catholic guilt reached epic proportions when they informed me assistance would be waiting for me in Paris.

OH MY GOD…. I’m going to hell for sure Gates of hell ***Have you ever told a “little white lie” and found yourself in the middle of a self-imposed drama?

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Four weeks in Barcelona to write, decorate, absorb a new language, and visit with my daughter & her boyfriend. There’s not a single reason to shield my eyes from the Spanish-Splendour surrounding me… then again the day is young.

Barcelona Beaches

Adhering to a strict schedule and not wishing to miss the spectacular sunrise, I spring from my cozy bed, slip into running gear and head for the promenade adjacent to the beach, for a 20 minute run. Afterward, I meditate for 30 minutes at waters edge.

I return to the apartment refreshed and Zen-like, sprinting the 68 steps to my daughters 4th floor apartment. The three of us sit down to a nutritious breakfast and discuss our plans for the day. I skip off to the Chiringuto (a beachside restaurant) and order, in quasi-acceptable Spanish, the first of two iced coffees and write for several inspired hours under a red umbrella warmed by the hospitable Spanish sun.


That’s how my day looks in my imagination….In reality, this is my wake-up call in Barcelona.

Jet-Lags extensive grip torments every muscle, including eyelids ~ I turn my back on the glossy 6 am sunrise. Two hours and several deep sighs later, I inch, sloth-like, into cropped leggings, that seem to have shrunk in my suitcase. I stumble down the 68 steps in the direction of the beach walkway, for what I hope will be an invigorating run…. I settle on a restorative walk and scope-out a tranquil spot next to the water for my intended 30 minutes of meditation. (seriously Shauna, 30 minutes?~that’s never going to happen)


A near empty beach soothes me as I sit crossed legged facing the unusually calm sea. Despite the welcoming and compliant sand, I twitch and squirm as my right foot insists on falling asleep. My marginal concentration is challenged by boisterous masculine voices, as five elderly gentlemen, in undersized speedos, have chosen this exact spot, despite miles of empty beech, to suspend their walk and socialize.

Generally speaking, Europeans over a certain age, tend not to waste unnecessary material on beachwear. The particular angle of the sun catches and emphasizes an aspect of the male physique that should never, EVER, be compressed under such a thin layer of spandex.

I take a deep cleansing breath and turn my head in the opposite direction.

Taking my mind off the men to my right I focus on 2 mature ladies in bathing suits, walking along the breaking waves. The women seem to be carrying partially filled sandbags suspended with a thick layer of fabric draped around their necks. The taller of the women is burdened with the larger sacks and they oscillate awkwardly over her navel as she speed-walks along the sand. The only thing I can think of is this is some kind of neck strengthening exercise

While focusing on the heaviest part of the flesh coloured sandbags, a shiver of realization runs through me. Those aren’t sandbags, I’m staring at exceeding low pendulous breasts. As they pass, one of the ladies furrows her brow and gives me an inquisitive look. It would seem, I’m the only person out of place on this beach!

With little appetite, I forgo breakfast and head directly to the beach restaurant for a much-needed shot of caffeine.

After butchering the Spanish language ordering espresso, I sit quietly under the red umbrella, allowing the soothing mediterranean sea to heal my scorched retinas.

Red Umbrella





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MINDFUL EATING ~ What’s that?

Mindful Eating Practice by Lorraine Driscoll

* I stumbled upon Lorraine Driscoll’s website BOHEMIAN NUTRITIONIST (don’t you just love that name) a few days ago and wanted to share her approach to Mindful Eating. Today I sat at my table and gave myself the gift of savouring my food, my life, my family, friends and opportunities. Thank you Lorraine for helping me to slow down and enjoy life.*

Mindful Lunch

My Mindful Lunch ~ I feel so healthy..

Eating mindfully, helps us to slow down which in turn makes us more conscious of what and how much we are eating. Slowing ourselves down is a process; making mealtime an opportunity to form meaningful connections with our loved ones as well as ourselves requires effort and intention.

Set the Stage

1) Eat at a Table – Make a point to eat only at a table. Years ago I read the book “French Women Don’t Get Fat” by Mireille Guiliano. The author points out that in France people do not eat in their cars and on their couches. They sit at nicely set tables to eat. In fact, unlike North Americans the French do not even have cup holders built into their cars, at theatres and every other possible location because eating and drinking is reserved for sitting at a dinner table.

It is almost guaranteed that if you are eating anywhere but your table, then you are definitely not eating mindfully. How can you eat mindfully when you’re sitting at your desk working and eating or standing at the counter playing on your iPad? Sitting at a table to eat with no distractions is the first step towards making eating a mindful experience instead of a chore.

2) Jazz up the Dinner Table – Mindful eating will seem less like a chore if the dinner table isn’t stacked with papers and magazines. Take the time to set the tone by tidying the kitchen before you eat: clear the kitchen table, set out the nice dinner plates and light some candles. You may find this is an extremely effective way to unwind from the day. The quiet peacefulness of your new found dinner table may end up being one of your new favourite times of the time.

3) Feed Your Ears – Be aware of what you want to listen to when you are eating. One technique that has proven to be extremely effective in reminding our brains to calm down and to improve digestion is listening to slow-paced, relaxing music during dinner. Listening to relaxing music at dinner can make all the difference in making dinner time a meaningful retreat from the day. On the flip side, if you work in a noisy environment, sometimes listening to nothing at all is preferable. Need I even say that TV does not count as food for your ears?

The First Course

Once you have made the preparations for mindful eating take a moment to engage with your body and how you are feeling before actually eating.

1)Just Breathe – Taking a moment to take a few deep, slow breaths before you eat will flood your system with oxygen and turn down the stress hormones. This simple strategy is very effective for portion control because the act of pausing and breathing brings you back to centre and reminds you to be mindful. Try taking six deep belly breaths and allow yourself to feel your body progressively relaxing with each breath.

2) Eat Your Feelings – Eat the way you want to feel. My mother always said ‘Garbage in, garbage out’. It took me years to understand what that really meant. So ask yourself how this food is going to make you feel and if you want to feel that way. If not, then consider if there is a better option. Try to shift your perception of eating healthy to one that sees yourself as nourishing your body when you eat healthy instead of depriving yourself of junk food.

3) Check-In- This is a key element in mindful eating. Before you put one bite into your mouth ask yourself why you are eating and how hungry are you? Rate it on a scale from 1 to 7 ( with 7 being hungriest). As you continue eating, continue to rate your hunger—stopping when it has reached a 1 or 2. Ask yourself how you are feeling emotionally and physically.

4) Gratitude – Taking a moment to focus on all the blessing in your life regardless of your spiritual beliefs is an excellent way to dissolve stress. No matter what you are going through gratitude has been found to be one of the most powerful ways to alleviate stress and depression, even among those who are facing the most difficult of times. This helps to create calm and prevent emotional over-eating.

5) Engage in the Elements – As an addition to gratitude, you can also become a more mindful eater by considering before or while you are eating, the connection between your food and nature. You can even turn this into a before or during dinner game.

• Ask yourself and your children if sunlight, rain, and soil were involved in the growing and harvesting of your food.
• Consider who might have planted, cared for and harvested your food and how long this took. Where did your food come from?
• How will you save leftover food or and dispose of containers and scraps? Compost? Garbage? Recycling? Ensuring we have a small ecological footprint is another aspect of mindful eating.

In Lorraine’s post Mindful Eating: Your Relationship with Food, Your Waistline and You… She wrote; “we are eating spiritually when we are eating mindfully. Eating spiritually or mindfully does not begin and end at the dinner table. We do this when we purchase food that supports a sustainable and eco-friendly world, when we support companies that provide safe, fair wages to their employees or when we opt to pay a little more to support organic or local family farms”.

Breaking Bread – Making Connections

In a time when people are so busy driving their children to hockey practice and dance lessons, completing homework and working shift work it is little wonder that many families do not sit down to eat dinner together. However, whenever possible, make the point to sit down together and to eat as a family. Tell your children to put the electronic devices away and turn the TV off. Make dinner time an opportunity for everyone to connect after a day of hurried schedules.

Start a Tradition
There are too many games, traditions and rituals to mention that can be practiced at the dinner table and while at first they may seem silly they can be powerful in reminding us of our connection with food. The sooner you start this with your family the more they will eventually ‘buy into’ it. Younger children are particularly responsive to this.

1) Gratitude/Prayer – As I mentioned earlier taking a few moments before you eat to breathe and offer thanks can greatly shift your attitude. If you are not religious then try demonstrating some simple gratitude for all the individuals and elements that were involved in the creation of your meal.

2) High/Low – This is a relatively simple exercise and offers a great opportunity for meaningful and connected discussion at the table. Essentially, each family member takes the time to share their ‘high’ and ‘low’ of the day. This is a great way to keep the lines of communication open with your children.

Example: My high of the day was going for a walk with my mother. My low was waking up late.

3) Mindful Eater – I recently heard on the radio that the French have a long history of being mindful eaters—hence why their waistline is much smaller than the rest of Western civilization. A regular practice at French dinner tables is for parents to encourage their children to describe the different textures, tastes, and smells of their food. Taking time to describe your culinary experience is a great way for everyone at the table to be more conscious of their eating as well as how much they are eating.

4) Politics, Religion and Keeping the Peace – Ever wonder about the wisdom behind not talking about religion and politics at the dinner table? It is because when we are tense, argumentative and or ‘fired up’ our digestion is poor. Even a slightly heated discussion causes the sympathetic nervous system to go into flight or fight mode thus slowing digestion. So save family meetings or heated topics for later on. Keep the topics at the dinner table peaceful.

5) The Final Act – Clearing the Table – I really believe a part of mindful eating is sharing not only the conversation and the food but the clean-up as well. Eating mindfully is about showing gratitude to the person or people who prepared the food by firstly taking only what we are going to eat so that we are not wasting, as well as saving any leftovers.

When we take the time to make food preparation, eating, connecting and cleaning as sacred we cannot help but make better choices for ourselves. By now you should have several strategies and ideas on how to make meal time more mindful, meaningful and pleasant. The shift is to see eating as an experience to reconnect with yourself and your body. If you have not been doing any of the practices that I have mentioned already then you may even feel overwhelmed with all the changes you feel you need to make. I really believe slow and steady wins the race. Unless you feel particularly motivated to try several of the ideas at once I have recommended, I would suggest adopting one or two each week. Make those a habit and then gradually incorporate more mindful eating habits into your lifestyle until eventually mindful eating becomes second nature.

As you begin try and plan ahead when doing groceries. If you go into the grocery store without any idea of what recipes you plan on making then you will likely find yourself buying the same meals that you may be trying to avoid. Choose recipes that are both nourishing and tasty. Without a doubt, it requires a slight learning curve to initially try a new recipe or to find those new ingredients that you have never heard of. However, after you have made it once you will likely find it a lot easier to incorporate a new recipe into your diet. Even if you try just one new recipe a week, in no time you will have a whole array of healthy, tasty recipes that will be part of your diet.

There are plenty of websites and cookbooks that offer healthy recipes that can cater to any preference. Find a few cookbooks that are particularly appealing to you.

A few of Lorraine’s favorite cookbooks are:

The 21 Day Sugar Detox – Diane Sanfilippo
I Quit Sugar – Sarah Wilson
Meatless – By Martha Stewart Living
Eat Clean – Tosca Reno
Power Foods – by The Editors of Whole Living Magazine

For more articles go to: http://bohemiannutritionist.wordpress.com

***I hope you enjoyed this article as much as I did. Lorraine has a passion for healthy eating and a true flare in her delivery.

***Have you incorporated mindful eating in your daily routine and if so how?

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Michael Hyatt is a gifted writer and business coach. The below post is from his website where he elegizes one of my favourite authors Maya Angelou.  

How to Live a Life That Matters: 5 Lessons from Maya Angelou

The desire to create lasting transformation in the world is what really drives us as leaders, right? Since the news of her death, I’ve been thinking a lot about Maya Angelou. Her legacy offers several valuable insights for living a life of true significance.

Maya Angelou

The odds were against Angelou in her early years. Her parents divorced when she was three, and she spent several years under the care of her grandparents.

Then, when she finally moved back with her mother at age eight, she was sexually abused by her mom’s boyfriend. Within hours of his conviction the abuser was murdered.

Angelou blamed herself for the man’s death. Can you imagine the trauma? It was so overwhelming she became a mute and wouldn’t speak for years. But somehow writing gave her a road out.

She wrote poems as a teen, moved to New York as a young woman and joined the Harlem Writers Guild, and then traveled abroad as a journalist, working in Egypt and Ghana.

At home in the States she was active in the Civil Rights movement and also worked as a singer, actor, and screenwriter. She’s best remembered as a poet and the author of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, the first of five best-selling memoirs.

Sure, people will debate the merits of her work, disagree with her politics, and criticize her literary contribution. But whatever your opinion, Maya Angelou has a lot to teach us.

I’m sure others could come up with their own lists, but here are five lessons from Angelou’s story that resonate with me as important for living a life of lasting significance:

Lesson #1: Faith Is a Source of Courage

A foundation of faith can give us the confidence we need to act boldly.

“When I found that … I was a child of God,” Angelou told an interviewer about her faith, “when I understood that, when I comprehended that … when I internalized that, I became courageous. I dared to do anything that was a good thing.”

Look at the long list of Angelou’s accomplishments, and ask what we could do if we could take courage in our faith. I bet it’s more—and better—than we dream.

Lesson #2: Excellence Pays Big Dividends

Everyone today says we should follow our passions, that we should do what we love. I agree. But that’s only a recipe for significance if people care about what we love.

I like how Angelou put it: “You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you.”

Whatever our passion and drive, we have to contribute to others for our lives to matter to them. We need to offer something they really need, something they just can’t let go of.

Lesson #3: Success Takes Work

Angelou’s writing is so graceful it can seem effortless. But it’s not.

“Being a natural writer is like being a natural concert pianist who specializes in Prokofiev!” she saidduring a talk at Johns Hopkins. “To write well one works hard at understanding the language. I believe it’s almost impossible to say what you mean and make someone else understand.”

It takes practice, training, and cultivation for talent to become more than potential. A life that matters requires work.

Lesson #4: Optimism Puts Us in Control

Speaking about the South, Angelou said it’s easy to see it as “a repository of all bad things,” but she decided to see it differently.

“It’s beautiful!” she said. “That’s why people have fought for it. The place where I live is lovely.”

Why be so upbeat? I think the key is in a line from her book, Letter to My Daughter: “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”

Optimism puts us in control of negative events. Sometimes the only thing we can control is our reaction. And refusing to let the tragic and unfortunate get the upper hand is the best response if we want to rise above.

Lesson #5: It’s Worth Taking a Few Dares

Sometimes others know us better than we do. A challenge from the outside can be just what we need to trigger excellence.

Initially, Angelou didn’t want to write I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, but a friend, James Baldwin, conspired with Angelou’s editor Robert Loomis.

“If you want Maya Angelou to do something,” Baldwin said, “tell her she can’t do it.”

Loomis followed Baldwin’s advice, called Angelou, and told her to forget it—writing the memoir didn’t make any sense. “It’s nearly impossible to write autobiography as literature,” he said. She took the bait.

“I’ll start tomorrow.” And the rest is history.

And thank goodness. Maya Angelou has had a global impact for these and many other reasons. Perhaps the best way to honor her accomplishments is to take what was best in her life and let it fuel our own.

Visit Michael Hyatt website and take a look around.

What has been your experience with Maya Angelou?



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We are at the 21 day mark. Tell me, have you grown or acquired new Gratitude skills? I know I have.

21 Days of Cultivating Gratitude ~ Italianliving1.wordpress.com

This experiment of mine, born of an impromptu speech which mushroomed into a 21 day challenge, has been a lesson in fortitude and expansion for me. If I’ve held up my side of the contract, you’ve discovered a few techniques and morsels of inspiration to bring you closer to a daily practice of Gratitude. It is my belief, through practicing Gratitude, we increase contact with those aspects of our lives we so love to interpret in poems, sing along with in lyrics and yearn for, through quiet nights of solitude:                                               Love, joy, bliss, happiness, laughter, inspiration, companionship…

** 21 Days ago we learned the 5 Steps of Cultivating Gratitude.

1 ~ Taking Stock

2 ~ Practicing Acts of Kindness

3 ~ Practicing Positivity through your Thoughts, Feelings and Actions

4 ~ Awakening Forgiveness

5 ~ Celebrating Your Blessings

** I loved and learned from Brené Brown to practice Joy & Gratitude by LIVING Joy & Gratitude, through a tangible Gratitude practice. I’ve added a nightly practice of taking 5 minutes as I’m drifting off to sleep, to review what I’m grateful for that day. For example tonight, I’ll be thanking the universe for my Mom. I’m staying at her place in Vancouver Canada, sleeping in her spare room, savouring her cooking, strolling beside her along the water and waking to the sounds of her preparing coffee and breakfast for me ~ her little girl. We are never too old for our Moms…

** We journeyed through The Five Realms of Gratitude.

** We discovered our way to Joy is through Gratitude in  an inspiring talk from David Steindi-Rast. “The root of joy is gratefulness…It is not Joy that makes us Grateful – it is Gratitude that makes us   Joyful…..”David Steindl-Rast: Want to be Happy? Be Grateful.


** New ways of Practicing Acts of Kindness with the added bonus of the universe having a reimbursement system that returns to you what you give out. Love for Love ~ Honesty for Honesty ~ Kindness for Kindness

** Awaking Forgiveness from a true master Azim Khamisa, who forgave his son’s killer.

** Through my metaphysical mentor Bernie, we discovered the 3 Steps to Asking:

#1 ~ A Request, Affirmation or Prayer, (choose the word which resonates with you) is “The Question”. Once you’ve asked for what you want, stop and listen for the answer.

#2 ~ When requesting for the People, Places or Things you want in life, introduce these ideas to your consciousness through a powerful set-up statement of:                                Please give me THIS _________________ OR BETTER.

# 3 ~ Show Gratitude to the People, Places and Things currently in your life.

** We touched on the below experiment with Gratitude through writing a letter/note to another person for the influence they have had in our life?  An Experiment In Gratitude and I personally find it a brilliant demonstration in the Power Of Gratitude.

** Moving Beyond and Releasing Grievance assisted us after the realization each Grievance we hold in life is a “self imposed” burden, similar to a 10 pound rock you carry with you.  A 30 Day Forgiveness Challenge, with Desmond Tutu and his daughter gave us a tool for working through our Grievances.

** Taryn Galewind offered us encouragement through her “Rewards of Gratitude.

** We worked on Gratitude toward Friends, Family and Loved-ones, Bedtime Gratitude and finished off with Gratitude toward ourselves for ourselves.

Finally we have today, our 21st day. Dr. Maya Angelou speaks on Doing Right. She speaks on how “right may not be expedient, it may not be profitable, but it will satisfy your soul.

I love this Gratitude talk by Louie Schwartzberg It’s a view of Gratitude from the perspective of a child and an elderly man. (be sure to watch past the 3:40)

During the 21 Days of this Gratitude blog, I’ve had the pleasure of being present IN Gratitude. The very idea of cultivating ideas for you to read each day, has offered me tremendous gifts in ways I never knew possible. I’ve developed new friendships, renewed a few from the past and experienced the abundance of Gratitude as it grew and passed through me. I can’t thank you enough for your attentiveness and generosity in your responses. I have no idea what’s next or where this will go. If any of you have suggestions I’d be willing to listen and give them a try. Many of you closest to me know I’m working on a book and for those of you who don’t here goes:

My book, Controlling The Sunrise, is a journey of 12 individuals who’ve experienced cancer. Through their diagnosis and subsequent treatment, the interviewees have shared their experiences and how they have grown in positive ways because of the cancer. They have found their Passion or Purpose and have moved forward in that direction. I have had the profound pleasure of interviewing 6 remarkable men and woman from across the world. Canada, USA, Singapore, Australia and Italy. I’m currently searching for 6 others from Asia, Africa, Europe, South America and perhaps Antarctica.

I know the Gratitude lessons I’ve learned from my work here with all of you, will give me the grounding and sturdy base required to navigate this new and exciting direction. I have the support of my daughters, family & close friends. What more could a girl ask?

As for the 21 Days to Gratitude… I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Thank you for walking hand-in-hand with me toward Gratitude.


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For close to 3 weeks, we have been Cultivating Gratitude for the sweetness of our lives, our family, friends, inspirational teachers, pets, co-workers, (interesting how pets came before co-workers) as well as the multitude of insignificant and monumental moments which have shaped us, changed us or taught us.

Today, I’d like you to focus on the  indomitable force that comes from within. Your Light ~ Your love ~ Your Spirit.

So often we forget to treat ourselves with the same love, compassion and caring we so effortlessly extend to others. When was the last time you thanked yourself for a kindness you extended to you? Wouldn’t  a word of encouragement for the simple and or complex achievements be worth the 5 seconds it takes to offer it? Consider the moments in your day when you could begin a ritual of being kind to YOU.


Suggestions to remind you:

#1 ~ Press pause on your morning alarm and give yourself a few words of encouragement. I can’t think of a kinder way to begin or end your day.

#2 ~ While bruising your teeth, take a look in your own eyes, Cultivate a little Gratitude for the reflection in the mirror. No need to focus on your flaws, you’ve become an expert at negative affirmations, try on a few positive thoughts this morning.

#3 ~ While driving, on a bus, train or bike, take one slow breath in, while holding your breath in your lungs for 5 seconds, think of one kind attribute you know about YOU.  Release and repeat.

#4 ~ Program a positive thought you know to be true about you, into your phone, sent an Alert to go off at 10:00 – 2:00 – and 5:00 o’clock.

Take time today to get to know who you are free of all the labels we place on ourselves: friend, daughter, husband, artist, worker, boss, etc….. For a few minutes today consider your accomplishments, your kindnesses, your attributes. Invest a portion of this day to the most important of all individuals.  Step back and get to know you.

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What does Celebrating Your Blessings look like to you?   Spending time with family or friends?  Gathering in a sacred space?  Going out with friends?  Enjoying the company of yourself or someone special?

How would a few minutes of Celebrating Your Blessings look to you? Would you express yourself through song, tender words written on special paper, meditation?  A Grateful smile at the end of a long day?

If you knew you had a limited number of days remaining in your life, how would you Celebrate? Who would you celebrate with?  What’s holding you back? Are you too busy, too poor, too exhausted, too angry, is it too soon, or too late?


What exactly are you waiting for?

Consider the next 24 hours Celebrating Blessings Day. This day does not require planning, money, reservations or invitations.  You have 1440 minutes to be spontaneous with your imagination on how you choose to Celebrate the Blessings in your life.  That is exactly 1440 chances to make your heart expand. If nothing else, allow yourself just one of those 1440 minutes to slow down and Celebrate the things you are Grateful for.

I’m so very pleased you took the time to stop in, how are you enjoying the 21 Days to Gratitude?

Posted in Confronting your fears, FRIENDSHIP, Gratitude, INSPIRATION, The Five Realms of Gratitude | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment