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My DIY pilgrimage is a journey home

Updated: Feb 23

I am going on a pilgrimage--

Smiling person with sunglasses and walking poles with desert mountains in the background.
Lea on the wilderness trail in Claremont.

I had hoped it would be the Camino de Santiago in Spain. In fact, I had tickets booked, time-off scheduled, family responsibilities re-arranged, but it became a casualty of COVID-19 in May 2020. Initially, I was understanding and accepting. But two years later I feel the disappointment. So, I decided to do something about it. I am creating my own pilgrimage.

People walk for many reasons. To get from point A to point B. For fitness or to improve health. To meditate. To be outside and experience nature or the city around them. To explore new surroundings. To get out of the house and away from stress. To walk off anger or anxiousness. To take a break from work. And countless other reasons.


Pilgrimage is a special kind of walking. People go on pilgrimage for many of the same reasons people just take a walk. But one difference is that a pilgrim has intention when they set out. They have a purpose and are open to the meaning that will unfold for them along the journey. It is intentional steps taken on an intentional journey. Often the way taken is one traveled by many before them to a destination of significance or sacredness. Religious traditions around the world have pilgrimages to places of importance where the pilgrim seeks some sort of life-changing experience as they walk.


For my pilgrimage, I am walking from my home to my sister's home--with some bits of car and train travel in between. I chose the metaphor of home for this pilgrimage because I want to feel at home in my body and in my life. I had initially thought I would go solo, but now I have two traveling companions sandwiched between my days alone --my sister for day two, and my husband for day three. Pilgrimage is always an individual journey--my feet, my body on the road. And it is often done in the company of others so I am grateful for the companionship I will experience on my pilgrimage. I will be walking along the Southern California coastline, mostly along the expanse between the water and the shore, but occasionally up into the hills when the seaside walkways disappear. I chose this route because it is accessible to me and it's beautiful and it takes me (generally speaking) from one home to another. I believe that pilgrimage can be experienced anywhere and I feel fortunate to have this location available close to me.


My pilgrimage is to mark my transition in my professional life from a higher education administrator for many years to an individual coaching practice. (This was my original intent for going on the Camino.) It also is a pilgrimage in gratitude for my body that feels like it's literally coming apart at the seams as some of my joints are beginning to fail and will need replacement in the coming years. My pilgrimage will also be a journey into some unknown territory, both along the coast, and in my interior. I don't know exactly what I will experience along the way, and that's the point. That is the exciting and the scary part! And when I finish it, I will be home.


Follow along on my journey here beginning February 24. Be sure to subscribe to my blog so you get all the updates!



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