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Thursday, December 5, 2013

A Pilgrim for Life

For the third time, my husband and I went on a pilgrimage this summer. For over 1200 years now, the final resting place of the apostle Saint James has been calling millions of people to come to it on foot and experience an outer and an inner journey. Upon arrival in Santiago de Compostela, one question comes to the forefront: how to continue the essence of a pilgrimage once daily life has us back…

After three times I know the feeling of arriving very well. Arriving at our goal that we had for 6 weeks of daily walking - it is a bitter sweet feeling. Happiness of reaching a goal that only started out with one step and hope and faith that all the necessary following steps will be made in good health and good spirit. Sadness, because the focus for the last 6 weeks is no more. It is done. Now what?!

Daily life has a similar rhythm. It is different for each one of us, but it helps to have goals smaller than the obvious milestones in life. That way we have the sense of achievement more often. But simply having a sense of being on a journey is something I find difficult to keep in my awareness, when the daily grind takes over. Yet, I have a true desire to keep the feeling of the pilgrimage alive. It takes a strong commitment to achieve that, in order to be willing to change enough of the schedule around and to make big and courageous changes. Our own habits and default reactions can become like good old friends. We feel safe and know them well. Why give them up? Because sometimes they stand in the way of living a fulfilled life.

Giving them up is necessary if we want different results. For me, striving to be a modern pilgrim in an urban setting, the seductions of city life are a big challenge. The mere awareness of that challenge gives me a big advantage and the possibility to find ways to handle it. I have read a number of books that deal with simplifying life and creating a charmed life. I find them mostly helpful. There are things like decluttering, walking more instead of driving, or even driving less all together by choosing wisely and clustering errands.

With thrifty tasks like that, there is more time to make sure, the spiritual side is also being nourished on a regular basis. Just shortening my newspaper time in the morning and using it for a simple meditation gave me a strong connection to my overall big goals and guidance throughout the day in that respect. With that focus, many unnecessary things fell by the wayside and did not even need to be addressed anymore. Spiritual housekeeping, I call it. Simple and effective. That is the way I like my solutions - for myself, as well as for my life coaching clients. I stand by that, especially since I am trained in science, complicated psychology maneuvers, as well as personality and intelligence test batteries. All of these have their place as well, but when the daily grind takes over and takes the color out of life with its white and black strokes, the simple things are what count and bring back the rainbow colors and the spring in our step.

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