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  • Finnian Kelly

HAPPINESS IS A CHOICE


This week I crossed another significant landmark on the Camino, the

Cruz de Ferro. The tradition says to bring a rock from your home and place it on the pile, releasing what no longer serves you. They say the stone should be as big as your sorrows, guilt and anguish. I didn’t know this when I selected my tiny smooth red stone from the grotto in Aspen, but it subconsciously reaffirmed a thought I’ve been having a lot on my Camino - I no longer have to wait to be happy, or for my life to be easy, I AM happy and my life IS easy.


The past five years of my life have been a tumultuous time as I became aware of my emotions and the unhealthy roles I play in relationships. I went through a divorce followed by a prolonged period of severe panic attacks. I found the man I wanted to be with shortly after, but had to release any attachment to an intimate relationship until I had spent more time on my own personal healing path. We remained best friends during this time, which was a gift but it was also like always having the view of a cookie jar that is at the top of the kitchen cupboards - I wanted it so badly, but it was just beyond reach. I found consolation with the motto of ‘not now, but not never.’ And to my delight, we are back in a relationship now, and he is who inspired my original thoughts of walking the Camino. Last fall I learned that my dad, who I had estranged from, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I was faced with the looming possibility of death knocking at the door of a parent and was dwelling on how to move forward with that relationship. Then my mom died suddenly in a freak accident, and death burst through a door that I wasn’t even aware of. With the new identity of the girl whose mom died tragically and unexpectedly, I was thrust into the depths of grief. In this vulnerable time some of those unhealthy behaviors and patterns snuck back into my intimate relationship. And that is what ultimately led me to the panic attack on a baseball field in Toronto where I got the message ‘it’s your time to walk the Camino.’ If you read my first blog, this should all be coming full circle. 

At the Cruz de Ferro I reflected that I have been faced with what I would have listed as ‘the worst things that ever could happen’ if you had asked me five years ago. I have a deep appreciation for how all of these events have helped shape me into the current version of myself, and in this version I CHOOSE to be happy. A new friend asked me earlier on the Camino if I thought that the ultimate goal in life is happiness, funny enough at the time I was wearing my ‘Happiness over Everything’ shirt, which he actually hadn’t even noticed. This made me think because I often say that I want to be happy, and my mom's saying of love and happiness has always been meaningful to me. When I gave it more thought I reflected that you can actually be happy in any emotion - grief, anxiety, anger, sadness, etc. because you are in a state of feeling over being in a state of numbness. So happy isn't always synonymous with being joyful, but it is a choice.


Things that have made me happy this week:

● Feeling agitated and sitting with it (and in that sitting enjoying a big bowl of ice cream, even after listening to a podcast about the dangers of sugar addiction and overriding my inner critique about why I should or shouldn’t indulge in ice cream)

● Meeting new Danish friends and singing their national anthem and learning Danish traditions after sharing that my mom had so much pride in our Danish heritage

● The friendly waves and thumbs up from cars driving by, the ‘buen camino’ greeting from every single passerby (especially the children!) and the honking semi trucks all showing their support of my Camino journey

● A big bubble bath in a boutique hotel that ranks as one of my top hotel stays in the entire world, for just 45 euro!

● This ‘Whole Foods’ of a donation stand that had the best snacks in the middle of nowhere, run by a man named David who has lived on the Camino path for 13 years serving pilgrims

● Allowing sadness as the Camino end is now in sight, and coming back to the present moment realizing I still have 7 full days left of Camino life


As the wise Finnian Kelly once told me, the secret to being happy is to choose to be!


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