along the way i found that i was strong. strong enough to climb mountains. strong enough to keep going even when i thought i was too tired. strong enough to hold on to my goal and strong enough to achieve it. i wasn’t sure if i could really do it. if i could get on the bike again each morning. if i could make it up the next hill. if i could really cycle 200 miles. now i know because i did. yes, it’s true – we can do hard things.
along the way i found the importance of self care. of pulling back when i was reaching my edge instead of pushing myself too much. of stopping to rest. of drinking enough water and keeping myself hydrated. of eating healthy food to fuel my body. only by taking care of myself could i find the energy to continue my journey. only by taking care of myself could i reach my goal.
along the way i found my own pace and learned how to follow it. when others zipped past me and powered up steep hills i wanted to keep up. i wanted to be just as fast. but when i pushed too hard i burned myself out. i learned how to adjust to my own rhythm, to cycle at my own speed. slow and steady wins the race – this was my mantra. and slowly, steadily, i made it to santiago.
along the way i stayed in the moment. looking up ahead to more and more hills left me feeling discouraged and tired. focusing on the overall distance made me question my ability to complete it. so i stayed in each moment and didn’t look too far ahead – literally. i breathed into the challenges and rested when it got too tough. i immersed my senses in my surroundings – the sweet smell of hay, the rustling of leaves, the chirping of birds, the smile of another pilgrim. when i felt the most tired i would force myself to look around and take in the beautiful scenery, practicing gratitude. practicing mindfulness.
along the way i found myself again. i stepped outside of my everyday world and let go of before getting sick and after getting sick. i was just amy – up for the challenge and ready to go. i had the mental and physical drive to complete a journey that would be tough for anyone – regardless of mental illness. i surrendered myself to the adventure and i loved every minute. as i cycled the 200 miles, i felt that i was traveling from a place of limitations to a place of possibility. showing myself that yes, i can. yes, i have depression. yes, i have anxiety. yes, i have drive, yes, i have determination. and yes, i have dreams.
along the way made it possible to reach the finish line. strength. self care. following my own pace. staying in the moment. believing in myself. i am proud, so unbelievably proud, of myself. not only for cycling across spain, but for who i am and all i have done along the way. i have chosen to grow, i have chosen to try, i have chosen to hope time and time again. i honor the spirit that has brought me to this moment.
for me, the camino was a celebration of life. of my life and of my dad’s life. throughout my journey i felt that he was just ahead of me, waiting patiently for me to make it. i pictured him sitting in fields of tall, waving grass, resting in the shade of a willow tree. i pictured him standing at the top of the tallest mountain, taking in the sweeping view. and i pictured him waiting for me in the cathedral in santiago de compostela, the end point of our camino. his spirit moved with peace across the changing landscape.
i felt deep inside that my dad can be alive anywhere beautiful in this world. and so can i.
that’s what i found along the way.