A single moment can change the course of your life forever by Suzana Mendes

A single moment, an unplanned decision, a spontaneous event can change the course of your life forever.

I was about to turn 40, I had a lot of personal decisions to make and then my mother passed away with cancer. I felt I had lost the will to live. Each day seemed to blend into the next day without meaning or significance and I couldn’t see the way out. I could see the happy go lucky confident women inside of me slowly fading away.

A concerned friend of mine introduced me to a biomagnetic therapist who told me my chi was so low, it was as if I was dead already. It was at that moment I made a pact with myself to live and celebrate life with all it has to offer – and yes I realised there was a lot.

After my session, I went home feeling a glow of something rising inside of me and the very next morning I spontaneously decided to walk the Camino de Santiago. Call it a gift to myself for my fortieth birthday.

Was I prepared? Absolutely not! I had no idea of what the route entailed, what or how to pack or even the clothes I ‘should’ even wear. But, what I did have was the determination and motivation to celebrate life in all its entirety.

Before I knew it, I was in Leon. I had ten days to walk 300 kilometres. I didn’t even know if that was enough time but my mission and will to succeed was strong. I heard people talking about monuments and statues on the way they were planning to see. My plan was no plan and to just see what each day would bring.

My second days didn’t go so well. My boots really hurt me (I know who buys new boots for such a long walk without wearing them in first!) and my ankles swelled up. I had tennis shoes with me I planned to wear them on the following days. My rucksack became heavier and heavier and was hurting my shoulders, and my knees, well they just hurt. I was doing this walk for a reason and so I would soldier on with or without pain. Sometimes things happen to give you confirmation you’re in the right place at the right time, as out of nowhere a young man appeared. He took a long look at me and told me I was all wrong, well not in those actual words but I think I stood out as a pure virgin to most of the seasoned walkers who trekked these lands. He stared at my feet and took my boots, he did something very magical with then as they were like slippers from that moment onwards. He then took my rucksack and rearranged everything inside and showed me how to wear it, and again, magically it no longer hurt or felt awkward. He shared a beer with me and told me to drink one a day until I finished in Santiago de Compostela. Then as quickly as he appeared, he was gone again and I was alone. But the difference was, from that moment onwards things started to become easier, both physically and mentally.

I randomly decided to take daily photos of my feet and it wasn’t until the end I found out that it’s actually a ‘thing’ that most everyone does. I was just so pleased I had feet at the end of it that were still capable of walking!

The whole Camino de Santiago experience was incredible and something that will stay with me forever. I walked up and down hills and witnessed the most amazing and breathtaking views. I met strangers in tiny villages that welcomed me into their homes and into their hearts. I shared food with pilgrims and encountered generosity that left me speechless. I learnt the skill of budgeting and how to forage for wild food. I saw beauty where I would never have thought to look before, and I began to appreciate the simplicity and the abundance that mother nature has gifted to us.

Most of all I learned to love me.