The Yellow Envelope

I went looking for a feel good story to write and here’s why I’m writing about The Camino, A Toddler & The Yellow Envelope.  Not your average post title, right?  But there’s a definite story behind the words.

I Know it Will Taunt Me

With the disturbing headlines in recent weeks, here in the US, I find myself struggling to find the written words.  I place my fingers on the keyboard but they don’t move.  My thoughts and fingers remain stationary, lost in a fog.  I’ve seriously considered the idea of logging off permanently and putting my laptop on the highest shelf in my closet, hidden from plain view.  But I know it will taunt me.  To say I’ve been in a bit of funk would be putting it mildly.

A Feel Good Story

My trusted keyboard friend sits near me, but I look for just about anything else to do rather than write, because really, who wants to read about travel and retirement when the headlines scream so loudly?  But, a very wise man I know (and love) encourages me to march on.  What I need is to write a feel good story.  A story of inspiration, of joy, family, challenges and a whole lot of love, tears and laughter.  I knew almost immediately which story I wanted to write and which story I needed to share with all of you.

In several chats with our friend, Kim of So Many Place, I knew she was aching to once again walk the Camino de Santiago.  Her first walk was in 2013 and she was one of our biggest supporters when we walked in 2015.  But this time, Kim is planning to take walking the Camino to a whole other level.  Having walked the Camino, my first reaction, when she told me of her hatchling plan was, quite honestly, what are you thinking?!  But then as our chat progressed I found myself moving from what are you thinking to… okay, that is completely amazing and you should go for it!

What Are You Thinking?

When we completed our Camino in May of 2015 I thought to myself, okay, that was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.  It was more than I ever thought it would be, or hoped it would be, and it pushed me so far out of my comfort zone, both mentally and physically, that to this day I have a difficult time believing I actually made it.  But, when asked if I would do it again, or take another long walk, I replied with great gusto, “Absolutely not.”  But you know what?  My head and my heart have been engaged in a serious debate over walking from Porto, Portugal to Santiago, Spain.  Abi is up for it, my heart is up for it, but my head is screaming, “What are you thinking?!”

A Toddler on the Camino

Near the end of August, Kim will once again board a plane headed for Spain to take on the Camino one more time.  The first time she walked solo, this time… not so much.  This time she’s walking with her toddler daughter, Juniper.  Yep, that’s right.  She’s taking the Camino to a whole other level.  She’ll also be walking (different sections) with a close friend, and with her husband, Brian.

The Yellow Envelope
Kim, Juniper and Brian.
Why Now?

Of course I had to ask Kim the 64-million dollar question, why now?

  • Kim:  “Somewhere in the back of my mind I’ve been considering walking the Camino with Juniper since she was just a few months old. There are many reasons. I walked the Camino back in 2013 and I spent a lot of time during that walk contemplating whether or not I wanted to have a child. Sometime during the walk I confessed my thoughts to a fellow pilgrim who put the whole thing in perspective for me and helped me see that I did want to become a mother. So, walking with Juniper in some ways feels full circle.
The Yellow Envelope
Juniper, a natural born hiker!
  • “It also makes sense logistically. I can carry her in a backpack now (barely!) but in a year I won’t be able to. She enjoys the backpack but she’ll walk on her own, too. Plus, I realized that I had this open time on my calendar and that I could conceivably do it, the only thing holding me back was my own worry about how I’d manage walking that far with a very opinionated tiny human.”
Lessons Learned on the Camino
When Abi and I walked the Camino, my most profound take-a-way from the experience was the simple fact that I actually did it.  I (we) walked 350 miles across Spain and although I struggled from exhaustion, heat rashes, rain and hail storms, and blisters from hell, I also laughed, cried, and found absolute joy in the solace of walking with one’s thoughts.  The biggest lesson I learned while walking the Camino was that I have an inner strength I don’t always acknowledge.  That, and it was okay to embrace my gray hair.  Seriously.
  • Kim:  “I think you absolutely cannot walk 500-miles without learning something about yourself. The last time I walked the Camino, I walked it on my own. That was a big deal to me because, though I’d traveled a lot, I’d not done anything by myself. I needed to know I could be comfortable on my own without relying on anyone else. I needed to feel both loneliness and the freedom of making my own decisions.”
The Yellow Envelope
No doubt this girl loves the outdoors!
  • “My first walk on the Camino gave me the time and headspace to think– that’s something I don’t get to do that much anymore as a mom. Life is busy and my thoughts are constantly interrupted. I was interviewed on a podcast a few weeks ago and the host asked me what motherhood has taught me. I didn’t have an answer! Not because it hasn’t changed me or taught me things– Juniper has been my greatest teacher. I didn’t have an answer because I’ve not really had the time to think about what I’ve learned, and who I’ve become, and what the highest version of my life is moving forward. I hope I’ll have time to think about those things. That said, I’m also just looking for an adventure. I’ve been in once place for awhile now and I’m ready to move. I’m always happiest when I’m about to tackle something I’m not quite sure I can do.”
The Camino Will Provide
There is a saying among Camino pilgrims in response to just about any and all questions, and that is… the Camino will provide.  I asked Kim what she hopes the Camino will provide on this her second Camino.
  • Kim:  “I hope it provides me with my second book. I have an idea of what I’d like to write about but I feel like I need to live the experience before I make any assumptions about the story. Live first, write second. Whether it provides me with my next book or not, I know for sure it will provide me with great memories. I’ll be walking the first week with my high school best friend and the last two weeks I’ll be walking with my husband Brian. And, of course, I’ll be with Juniper the whole way! I’m sure there are going to be so many terrible moments and so many wonderful ones– just like last time!”
The Yellow Envelope
When Kim and Brian first set off to travel the world for one year, which became three years, a friend of theirs gave them a yellow envelope with a gift of one-thousand dollars to pay forward as they traveled.  The lessons learned about life, travel and paying it forward are the heart of Kim’s first book, The Yellow Envelope.  If you have not yet read the book, I highly encourage you to do so.  And, at the end of each and every book, the reader will find a yellow envelope of their very own.  I keep my yellow envelope tucked inside my wallet where it reminds me often to pay it forward.
The Yellow Envelope
Paying it forward one envelope at a time.
I asked Kim, how she would carry that message with her on the Camino.
  • Kim:  “I’m going to bring a few yellow envelopes with me to give away when the moment feels right. I’ve had people email me that have read the book while walking the Camino or have given their envelopes away on the Camino, so it feels like the yellow envelope already exists on the Camino in some small way. I still remember the books I read while walking the Camino, and I love that The Yellow Envelope could have played that role for someone else.”
The Camino, A Toddler & The Yellow Envelope
I went looking for a feel good story to share, and I think in sharing Kim’s, and Juniper’s, and Brian’s story, and the story of The Yellow Envelope, I found the perfect antidote to the headlines of the recent weeks, which, as I said, have me in a funk.  In writing this post and chatting with Kim about the Camino and her plans, I found my fingers once again moving quickly across the keyboard.  Side note:  Thank you, Mrs. Butler, for teaching me how to type correctly all those decades ago in high school Typing Class I and II.  Who knew?

I went looking for a feel good story and that’s why I wrote The Camino, A Toddler & The Yellow Envelope.  Kim and Juniper start walking on August 25.  If you’d like to follow their journey, you can follow Kim on Instagram @kimdinan1.  She’s not carrying her computer because, you know, she’ll be carrying a toddler.  So, Instagram it is!

*Update:  Kim and Juniper, along with Brian completed their Camino de Santiago adventure!

Until then, I’ll leave you with this quote from Kim because I think it speaks volumes.
  • “I hope this is the first of many adventures I have with Juniper. I want to raise her in a way so that she values experiences over things and curiosity over fear.”
The Yellow Envelope
Juniper taking in the mountain views.
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