Jamie trained with international bestselling author and founder of Awakening Coaching Training, Arjuna Ardagh, on whose training staff she still remains. Ardagh wrote bestseller The Translucent Revolution and recently released Conscious Men, co-authored with international relationship expert John Grey.
After embarking on the path to living a more effective life, Jamie received a Master of Arts degree in Transpersonal Psychology and achieved certification in the modality of Awakening Coaching and Deeper Love coaching. She is also trained in Emergenetics profiling.
Jamie’s practice focuses primarily on coaching professionals who are interested in moving past obstacles that prevent them from creating what they want professionally and/or personally. She specializes in providing clients with the latest and most effective tools based in scientific research, positive psychology and leading edge thought. Clients who work with Jamie are seeking to expand their thinking, move beyond fear, awaken to new possibilities, build richer relationships, and/or become more conscious leaders.
Jamie specializes in coaching women. She has an interest in the emerging field of psycho-social study that explores the simultaneous acceptance of gender equality and the rejection of gender sameness. She believes men and women each have unique gifts and strengths that, when understood and honored, give individuals the ability to better understand and expand their own influence and create greater depth, joy and effectiveness in their personal and professional lives. Jamie coaches her clients to maximize their inherent potential and talents, and to live more conscious, connected lives.
In addition to a successful coaching practice, Jamie is happily married to her husband of 35 years. The two live in Northern Nevada and together and have three married children and five grandsons.
As the saying goes, you don’t walk the Camino…it walks you. I can now say with certainty that statement is true.
For a long time, walking the Camino had been something I wanted to do, but I had never fully committed to the idea. That is, not until two years ago when Sue, a dear friend of, proposed we go and pushed me to set a date. So, I read the books, retired my car, took up walking everywhere, did my REI shopping, took a few Spanish lessons, and prepared myself in every way I could think of for what I hoped would be the adventure of a lifetime. When the date finally arrived, I was honestly tired of talking and thinking about it.
Unbeknownst to us until the end of our journey, we had elected to travel as what many refer to as “purists.” Apparently, a “purist” is a traveller who carries a backpack weighing no more than 10% of their body weight packed only with what they absolutely regard as necessities. In theory, I had supported this. But, as our journey progressed, walking without my shampoo, face products, vitamins, etc. became a difficult mental battle. We were only able to take a sleeping bag, one change of clothes, small bar of soap, tooth paste and brush, and a few medical supplies, traveling like the pilgrims of old (Probably without the toothbrush though). They trusted that food, a bed and anything else they might have needed would be provided along the way. Though Sue and I had cell phones and each each other, we were hoping to do the same.
With our small packs strapped across our backs, our journey followed the Camino Frances, which is the central pilgrimage trail where all paths merge from the various regions in Europe to enter Spain. The merger of paths meets on the road to Santiago, which has been the final destination for pilgrims since the 800s. A.D. In more recent times, pilgrims who want to do the “entire trail” start in St. Jean Pied de Port, France where they walk into Spain by going over the Pyrenees Mountains. They then continue across northern Spain for 500 miles to reach the Cathedral of Santiago– the traditional resting place of St. James’ relics. Though the Camino was originally a Catholic pilgrimage, people now come from all over the world for a multitude of personal reasons to walk.
The twenty mile walk over the Pyrenees was steep, cold, snowy, majestic, and muddy. The beauty of the mountains intermingled with physical challenges, the blend of world languages, and local French, Spanish and Basque cultures would have felt surreal if we hadn’t had the pressing task of picking up one foot after the other, hour after hour. Finally, we arrived in Roncesevalles, Spain, along with most of the other 309 pilgrims that had departed from St. Jean that day. As a consequence, very little lodging was available. Fortunately, we were able secure beds at a monastery but it they were the dregs, the left overs they preferred to not use and had left in a container placed in a muddy field. It held four bunkbeds that we shared with other late-coming pilgrims. A shower/toilet facility was also available in a very small container further out in the muddy field. It was cold and wet and too many people were trying to use it. There was no privacy and everything was damp. Consequently, our night in the container was suffocating and miserable, even though we were grateful to have beds. For the rest of our journey, we continued to debate which was worse, the shower or the night’s sleep!
The next evening we walked into Zubiri, our end point for the day, and no beds were available at all. Dozens of pilgrims were in the streets of Zubiri trying to decide what to do. English speakers are rare in rural Spain, so the situation was further complicated by our very limited Spanish vocabulary. We were novice pilgrims then, not the seasoned pilgrims we would become, and didn’t have a clue what our options were.
So, Sue and I didn’t stick around to see how a town handles bedless pilgrims. (We learned later that they opened the school gym and the others slept on the floor). Instead we used our very limited Spanish to get a local man to call us a taxi that would take us to Pamplona, the next day’s end point. The cab driver made us a reservation at a hostel while he was driving and we were incredibly grateful! But, with that phone call we were no longer purists.
In Pamplona, we made a discovery; private rooms were available in hostels and could be reserved in advance and only cost 20 euro each verse to 10 euro we’d be paying for a bunkbed in Albergues. From then on, we found a way to reserve rooms in advance, a task for which Sue and her willingness to practice Spanish every evening to call ahead deserves all of the credit. Our hostel rooms were simple with twin beds and typically (but not always) came with bedding, towels, and our own bathrooms. We never really knew what kind of room Sue had reserved though because of the language barrier and every night was a surprise. If it was clean and we got either a towel, soap, our own bathroom, or bedding (and sometimes we got all of these) we felt like we had SCORED!
Because we had gained a day when we skipped to Pamplona, we decided consider our options. We had planned for two rest days to make it to Santiago. Now we had three extra days. If we didn’t take any rest days, we could walk three additional days and make it all the way to the Atlantic Ocean, to Finisterra, Spain. Finisterra was the traditional end of the world in Roman times. From then on, for both Sue and I, walking into a country and to the other side of a Spain became the objective.
And we did exactly that. We succeeded in walking across an entire country. IN order to accomplish that though, our job became to wake up every day for 35 days straight and walk. We needed to average 17 miles a day to cover 584 miles, and we needed to keep our bodies in the game to do it again, and again. It was not until it was over that I started to recognize what we had done and what it took to get there.
In hindsight, I recognize behavior-based fear, especially in the beginning, that I would prefer to portray as something else–as total confidence–but that would simply be untrue. By the end though, I stepped through fear and gained confidence. Looking back, I can also see wisdom, gratitude, and love. A lot of people injured themselves on the Camino by pushing too hard and not being willing to adjust what they thought their experience should look like. It was our ability to be flexible early, and change our expectations of what the Camino was supposed to be that led us to reserve private rooms, ultimately taking better care of ourselves. Every night that we had a bed I was grateful. And, every day I was grateful to have a friend on the Camino with me. Even though we rarely walked together, we shared a meal and a room each night. It was our ability to come back to a place of love and appreciation, even when we were afraid and uncomfortable, that made the goal of walking across a country manageable.
In undertaking this task, the only personal objectives I had set for myself was to expand my boundaries and to become more comfortable outside of my comfort zone. I can say confidently that I reached that objective. In addition, I came home with a great deal of clarity about how I could achieve the other goals that I still wanted to accomplish in my lifetime, but couldn’t quite fit into place before. As I left Spain, I felt an immense love for the people who cheered me on, especially my husband, sisters, and children.
There were also gifts from the Camino that I hadn’t anticipated. I didn’t expect to cherish my experience living with very little and I didn’t expect to not miss even one of the items that seemed so important when I had cut it from my backpack before leaving home. I hadn’t realized that I’d be walking the Camino on a holy year when the number of pilgrims often doubles and I didn’t expect to gain a large Camino family along the way. I miss them already. We are all dispersed now, back to our homes all across the planet making a giant spider web of connections, with Santiago in the middle of the web. (Thank goodness for Facebook!) I didn’t expect the language barrier to be so vast, my one language to be so inadequate, nor the Spanish people’s patience and willingness to work through it. And, I didn’t expect to be so fascinated with the beautiful landscape, the art and skill of building with stone, and that I wouldn’t see one “take out” cup of coffee in five weeks of walking in and out of villages and cities.
We walked the Roman roads, saw the destruction of the Moors, and bought jewelry with Celtic symbols. I entered and prayed at every Catholic Church I found open, even though I’m not Catholic. I saw how history interconnects us in such a complex way that it cannot be fully understood. I came home wanting to walk across countries as a new hobby. I’m contemplating England, France or Portugal as I discovered on the Camino that paths are already in place that make this possible. I’m home now with perspectives and insight that I didn’t have two months ago. I see possibilities I couldn’t see before and I am excited to find out how that will impact my life over the next five or twenty years. Ultimately, that is what made walking 584 miles and over a million steps worth it.
“Ten Reasons Why El Camino Santiago Sucks,” an oft-quoted blog post, has compared the Camino to wilderness hikes in the USA like the Pacific Crest Trail. As the title “implies,” and as a handful of people who have inquired about my experiences have suggested, the Camino pales in comparison. But, the truth is, there is no comparison. The PCT is about wilderness, camping, athletic endurance and solitude. The Camino is an experience of history, culture, language, and international connections. In support of the incredible Camino and the experiences it offers, here is my list of “Eleven Reasons Why El Camino Santiago FAR From Sucks.”
“Eleven Reasons Why El Camino Santiago FAR From Sucks”
1. El Camino de Santiago is the only one of the three incredible European pilgrimages that’s easily walkable. Yes, you could walk to Rome or Jerusalem if you really wanted to. But, the routes are not as well marked or inviting as the way to Santiago.
2. Celtic symbols, Roman roads, Catholic churches and Cathedrals, ancient bridges, and Moorish destruction, it’s all part of the puzzle every Santiago pilgrim pieces together as they walk across Northern Spain.
3. There’s over a dozen routes to choose from. The Camino Frances is by far the most traveled route, but there are other options that offer more solitude, less services, and/or advanced physical training. Maybe the wilderness trail along the northern coast of Spain or a route through Portugal sounds more appealing? Or maybe just do the last 100 kilometers. You can choose the Camino that works for you.
4. Diversity. The Camino, whichever one you choose, is an international experience. People from almost anywhere in the world can be met along the way. What a lovely way to explore differing perspectives and create relationships that span the globe.
5. The Camino is clean, it’s safe, and it’s almost all on gravel pathways. However, it has been said that everyone cries at least once along the way. So, if you get lost, you’ll find a tissue here and there to guide you.
6. The Camino is a sort of time machine. The people and places you encounter along the way have not yet discovered the disposable society mentality. (Or maybe they’ve rejected it early.) Either way, there’s no take-out coffee or fountain drinks. Houses are made to last through several generations. So sit, relax, and drink your coffee from an old fashion (and quite small) cup, and save the planet a little stress while walk the walk.
7. You don’t have to be an athlete. If you’re reasonably healthy, you’ll do just fine. I’m not saying not to train or do your research. Five-hundred miles is a long way on foot, but if I can do it, you can do it.
8. A person could walk across the entire country if they wished to. How many people can say they walked in one side of a country and out the other. (And, that they got to walk over the Pyrenees Mountains in the process.)
9. Spain is beautiful and can be walked in any season. Thus, a pilgrim can walk in the temperature of their choosing. The stone-work in every building is beautiful and between the villages are rolling agricultural fields, vineyards and rain forests.
10. You will develop your international traveling skills. It takes five weeks to walk across Spain. By the end, you’ll feel seasoned and ready for your next international adventure. Personally, I plan to walk across England next. It’s only 190 miles.
11. Perhaps the farthest from sucky is the fact that you can walk all day and at the end there’s a shower, bed, and hot meal available if you so choose. You can stay in the albergue bunkbeds, but there are other options. I preferred the small private rooms available at hostels. They’re affordable and give just enough comfort to be rested and ready to get up and walk again the next day.