In this time of sheltering in place, many of us pilgrims have had to cancel or postpone our upcoming trips. Bestselling author Karin Kiser provides some thoughtful alternatives for a stay-at-home Camino in the guest post below. She is also offering a discount on the digital edition of her Free and Clear book April 7 – 13. Whether she’s picking up trash along the Camino, or helping people clear clutter at home, she continues to be of great service to the Camino community. Thank you, Karin!
Camino from home
By Karin Kiser
Like many of you around the world, I had a plane ticket to Spain for next month, heading back to the Camino de Santiago. If you’ve walked this ancient pilgrimage route before you’ll likely agree that the Camino gives us what we need, not necessarily what we want or expect. The same is true about life. Events both on and off the Camino signal when it’s time for us to pause, reassess and redirect. As we’re seeing on a global scale, that time is now.
In many ways the Camino de Santiago is the Great Pause. It invites us to step away from our daily routines, open our minds, reflect on our lives, abide in the present moment and be available to the new and unexpected. We can do that right here at home as well.
Last week I started what I’m calling my “Camino-from-home.” I spend as much time outside as possible. I take long walks in the neighborhood. I explore streets I’ve never been on. I say hello to everyone I see, even if from a distance. I support my favorite family-owned eateries that offer takeout. I venture out to remote areas of town.
While I realize that venturing out is not currently possible for everyone, consider venturing in. The essence of a pilgrimage is the inner journey and that can be accessed anywhere, anytime. While sitting in your backyard, out on the terrace or in a quiet corner of your home, you can ponder some of the deeper questions that drew you to the Camino or those you were hoping to find answers to while you were there. The answers aren’t on the Camino. They are within you. It’s a matter of turning down the noise, to-do’s and distractions that consume us, and listening in.
For me, that means going on a digital detox as part of my Camino-from-home. Particularly in these uncertain times, it’s easy to get swept up in news updates and other people’s reactions. The more plugged in you are, the more you’re likely to start reacting from a place of fear or anxiety as well.
Let’s take a collective step back and pause. A digital detox is not about getting rid of technology. It’s about not allowing our digital devices to dominate our day. We don’t need a phone to take a walk. I’m putting mine in an indefinite time-out. I’ll still use the phone here and there, of course, but now only during predetermined time slots during the day.
Think of your home as if it were your pilgrim backpack. If you had to pile all your possessions on top of your back, you probably wouldn’t get very far. Why do we have so much stuff anyway? Why do some of us feel the need to hoard things? I read recently that more than a quarter of people with two-car garages have so much stuff in there that they can’t park their car. It’s time to reassess.
Maybe you’ve heard of the 80/20 rule? Also known as the Pareto Principle, it states that we regularly use about 20% of what we have. The rest of it, the 80%, sits there, unused, collecting dust. Our stuff can weigh us down physically and mentally.
A couple of years ago, I donated half the contents of my closet and still found myself wearing the same 20% over and over. What we actually need and actively use is surprisingly small. Spending more time at home this month is a unique opportunity to go through your stuff like never before. Forget about stockpiling. Spring clean, declutter and share instead.
My Camino-from-home is also an exercise in reflection and prioritization, directing less of my attention toward the outside world and more focus on the inner one. It’s an invitation to slow down, tie up loose ends and projects, connect with the people around me, visualize the world I want to live in and create space for the new.
I’m not canceling my plans for Spain, just rescheduling for a later date. The Camino is not going anywhere. It is resting and resetting. We can too.
Helpful tools for your Camino-from-home
Make the most of your at-home Camino journey with these lightweight books:
You don’t have to be on the Camino to benefit from this book. It’s a guide to personal development and change. The insights and suggestions apply to anyone looking for answers or more aliveness in their life, and those wanting new ways of managing and responding positively to the inevitable changes that life brings. It’s like having a personal coach, a comedian and a therapist right in your pocket for easy access. Available from Camino Chronicles Press.
This practical approach to decluttering gets to the root of the problem. Here you won’t find another method to fold your shirts or rearrange household items. Instead, Free and Clear uncovers the real issue of why we accumulate all that stuff in the first place. Decluttering is one thing. Not re-cluttering is another. This book helps you break the re-cluttering habit so you can stay clutter-free for good. Check it out on Amazon here. SPECIAL BONUS: the digital edition is discounted from $6.99 to just $2.99 between April 7 and 13, 2020.
All photos courtesy of Karin Kiser.