Camino de Santiago

The Beauty of Change

20140922-Belo-VillaF-25-studioWe are fast approaching the change of season from Summer to Fall now. I love this time of year and it has always been a favorite time for Terri and I to travel. In fact, it has been 5 years now since we walked the Camino de Santiago! It is hard to believe I have been writing this blog that long, I surely never planned for that to happen. I hope you all continue to enjoy these little reflections on life as I love posting them every few weeks.

“The beauty of change is as thrilling to me now as new terrain was thrilling to me then. I’m post-turn around time, and have turned homeward to walk among previously unnoted mysteries.” David Guterson

I read this quote from an article in the Seattle Times recently and it stuck with me. It is a wonderful article about a local author and poet who was an extremely active mountaineer of the Pacific Northwest mountains who is now finding deeper beauty, meaning and urgency in the familiar mountains of his youth. I truly identified with this fellow Northwest native hiker’s view as he has aged. He recognized that he is past his prime and he is seeking the familiar again with fresh eyes looking for the “previously unnoted mysteries” of life.

As I have aged I definitely have become more open than I was in my youth to see the “beauty of change” around me. I love returning over and over to the same hikes in all the different seasons so I can look for the small changes to the landscapes. I have developed a better eye to see the beauty in the “small landscapes” of nature, especially attentive to new patterns of nature I might find. There is great beauty all around us if we have the “eyes to see it”.

We see the beauty of change all around us if we just slow down and really pay attention. We have sure witnessed the beauty of the changes that have happened in our grandchildren as we cared for them twice a week. Talk about the “beauty of change”! It has been an absolute joy to witness their inspiring growth from their births to this moment in their lives as they head off to kindergarten and pre-school this past week.

Let’s all keep our eyes open to see the “beauty of change” that is going on all around us each day.

Blessings and grace to you,


Photograph of the Week

The Flotsam and Jetsam

As I mentioned, I love capturing the small details of nature. I recently have enjoyed capturing some of the small vignettes of nature that present themselves on the ocean beaches. During a our trip to Monterey, California this summer I found the flotsam and jetsam of their beach particularly beautiful. I also love using my “digital paintbrush” to expand and explore deeper the images I capture.


Islands of Kindness



“There is perhaps no surer road to peace than the one that starts from little islands and oases of genuine kindness, island and oases constantly growing in number and being continually joined together until eventually they ring the world.” – Dominique Pire, OP

The long, hot and very tiring aspect of walking the Camino puts a lot of stress on you emotionally and physically. At the end of a long day of walking, you arrive at your alburgue pretty much “hot and bothered”, so to speak.

You are mostly focused on getting your own immediate needs met and not really focused much on your fellow pilgrims. Being kind to each in these moments is hard as we are so focused on our own needs. Yet we are all called to be kind regardless of our circumstances.

I read a story recently about a mother who sought to chastise her quarreling children. She admonished them to be “kind” to one another. When her little girl inquired what “kind” meant, the mother carefully explained the term.

Shockingly, the child then asked: “Mom, do we know anyone like that?”

The world needs kindness. By being kind, we have the power of making the world a happier place in which to live, or at least greatly diminish the amount of unhappiness in it so as to make it a quite different world.

I guess that is why I liked the quote I started the blog with today. It all begins with each of us becoming an “island of kindness”. To become a “island of kindness” does require us to have a desire for it in your life. It also means we have to work at it as well. To focus on it and make it apart of your daily life.

Here are three little don’ts and three little dos for us all to work on each day (I took these from a book I have been reading called “The Hidden Power of Kindness”.


  1. Don’t speak unkindly of anyone.
  2. Don’t speak unkindly to anyone.
  3. Don’t act unkindly toward anyone.


  1. Do speak kindly of someone at least once a day.
  2. Do think kindly about someone at least once a day.
  3. Do act kindly toward someone at least once a day.

The world is unkind only for the lack of kindness in the individuals who live in it. Let’s all work on spreading out kindness to ring the world.

Blessing and grace,


Photograph of the Week

Island Time

This image was created from a photograph of gulls on a sand bar at the mouth of the Pajaro River. The Pajaro river empties into Monterey Bay in Northern California. It is a great birding area.

Where The Wild Things Are

190717-Denali-52-1-smallI titled this blog today from the well loved children’s book, “Where The Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak. I did this because the title of this book came to my mind as I was reflecting about Alaska. You see, we have just returned from a two week vacation to the “wildest place” I have visited in the United States, Alaska. I feel like I have been to sacred ground. Alaska is truly “holy ground” in my humble opinion.

In the book, Where The Wild Things Are”, the young child, Max, goes on a imaginary journey across the seas, to the a special place where the “Wild Things” live. He meets huge and mysterious creatures in this land. This is how I felt when I visited Glacier Bay, Kenai Fjords and Denali National Parks. These lands are so pure, untouched and unspoiled. They are filled with wildlife that had been left to flourish and roam. Frankly, I was awestruck, speechless and almost in tears several times during our visit to these parks.

As I think back on our Camino walk across the breath of Spain, I now wonder what the lands were like when those first pilgrims, that did the walk so many, many years ago. How pure and unspoiled were these lands? During much of our walk, we were not really in the “wild land” but mostly land “conquered” by man. So many of the great forests and wild animals of Europe were “harvested” till they no longer existed. I guess this is what hit me so hard from our trip to Alaska. There are still some places we can go to immerse ourselves in the “pure and wild”. Oh, how thankful I am for this!

We owe a debt of gratitude and thanks to those before us that fought so hard to preserve these lands as National Parks, Wilderness Areas and National Monuments. I was particularly grateful for how Denali National Park has been managed with its restrictions on how visitors experience the park. Sometimes it seems we are our own worst enemies, when we love something so much we cannot seem to get enough. We smother it and in the process we destroy its “wild and pure” nature.

May we never lose our special wild places and wildlife untouched and pure! May we “take off our shoes” when we visit these special places and travel through them as if it is “holy land” to be treasured and respected and with the pledge to “leave no trace”. We do this so these special places remain untouched for our future generations to experience and be changed by their visits.

Blessings and grace to you all,


P.S. The image at the top of this blog is obviously not from our Camino walk as I usually do but from our trip into Denali National Park. This grizzly bear was roaming through across the land like he owned the place, and he does!

Photograph of the Month

The Inner Beauty of Alaska

This image was captured during our Alaska trip in Fairbanks. I picked it today to go with this blog because I struggled to capture the vastness and “wild-ness” of Alaska. It is easier for me to capture the small and little landscapes sometimes with my macro photography. I found this leaf just like this and did not set it up this way (but I have definitely been known to do that!).

The Unexamined Life

20141013-Arzua-Santiago-291-1-EditThe famous dictum of Socrates, “The unexamined life is not worth living”, keeps coming into my mind recently. I really do not know much of the background on this quote, in the life of Socrates, but it seems to me he is making the claim that only in striving to come to know ourselves and to understand ourselves do our lives have any meaning or value. I do think there is some real wisdom here for us all.

During our long walk across Spain, as I mentioned, there is considerable time to reflect on one’s life and direction. The silence and quiet was a good time for me to consider my life direction.

What will I do after retirement? What will be my first things I want to start new when I return home? What it be like to be in the daily life of our new granddaughter?

Lots of questions were coming up in my mind. Asking questions is good. The questions we ask as we examine our life directions are particularly good but maybe it’s the questions that we don’t ask also.

“What shapes our lives are the questions we ask, refuse to ask, or never think to ask.”—Sam Keen

I whole-heartedly agree with this quote. Asking hard questions regarding my own personal behavior may be the questions I “refuse to ask or never think to ask”. Here is a sample of the types of questions I have been thinking about, when I reflect on my own behavior:

  • Am I passing judgment on others that they are self-centered, selfish and unsympathetic or arrogant, unfair or untrustworthy, by only my reflex judgment alone?
  • Am I brooding over a slight someone made and starting to make “a mountain out of molehill”?
  • Am I boasting about all my accomplishments so much I can not hear what anyone else has to say?
  • Do I need to “check some of my own self-centeredness at the door”?
  • Am I prone to accuse others when I should be looking at myself first?

I have recently started the practice of reviewing my day before going to bed. I look back over the day and ask myself some hard questions about my behavior during the day. I am “examining my life”, if you will, daily looking for areas of where I wish I would have done or said things differently. I have discovered this to be an excellent practice. I feel it is leading me to discover areas of my life I could use some change. When I discover an area I feel I could use some change, I make every effort to find a way to change my behavior in the future.

I do believe we are indeed shaped by the questions we ask ourselves. Let’s not be afraid to ask the hard questions that lead us to become a better person to our family, co-workers, friends and strangers.

Blessings and all good,


Photograph of the Week

Ipomopsis gilia

This wildflower is one of my favorites. I captured an image of this beauty up at Tronson Ridge, near Blewett Pass a few weeks ago.

The “Ipomopsis” (Ipoo + opsis) genus name comes from Greek for “striking appearance”. I find that so appropriate as it is a very bold and striking flower. It goes my several common names as well, Scarlet Gilia, Scarlet Skyrocket, Scarlet Trumpet and Skunk Flower

Intervals of Silence

20141010-Portom-Palas-13 - finalTerri and I both really have loved silence, especially in the morning hours. It is our sacred time together. This one of our favorite memories of our long Camino walk. Not that we did not talk during out day of walking, it just worked out that many parts of our day we walked in silence.

“Sounds and emotions detach us from ourselves, whereas silence always forces man to reflect upon his own life.” (The Power of Silence, by Robert Cardinal Sarah)

I thought this quote, from a book I am reading on silence, was profound. It speaks to why silence in our lives is so important, I believe. We need it so we can go deeper into ourselves and to reflect upon our life. When we do this interior rest and harmony can flow from us.

Yet the reality for us today is silence is a rare commodity. We live in a fever of movement and activity. We become accustomed to permanent background noise, which sickens us yet assures us. We become addicted to it strangely. But why? I suspect as the quote above suggests, because it keeps from confronting ourselves. It keeps us from staying quiet long enough that we might explore deeper into lives and our relationship with others.

“The only person you should try to be better than, is the person you were yesterday” Unknown

Maybe this quote is the secret to why we need “intervals of silence” in our lives. We need it so we can become “better versions of ourselves”. It seems to me, it is critical too living with others. I find when I am silent, I am able to hear, to listen and to welcome better. I look at things I said or did and recognize the need to change. I may see how I could be more charitable and giving to someone that comes to my mind. It seems to me that most beautiful things in my life take place in silence.

“All the unhappiness of men arises from one single fact, that they cannot stay quietly in their own chamber.” Blaise Pascal

So, what shall we do? How do I find time for some “intervals of silence” in my life? It seems first we need to break out of the habit of having constant noise around us. Recognize how important silence is for you. One of the best ways is to simply go for a walk. Another idea is to get up early before your day “roars to life”. There are times in all our lives for silence but we need to look for them, to carve them out of our day.

“What will become of our world if it does not look for intervals of silence?” (The Power of Silence, by Robert Cardinal Sarah)

May grace and blessings of silence abound in your lives,


Photograph of the Week

Manzanita Evening Glow

This image was created from a photograph I took at Manzanita Beach, Oregon.

“Blue Skies Photography” is moving to creating more of these kinds of images. Photographs transformed into “Photographic Art” in my digital darkroom. I hope to get back to sharing more of my Photographic Art that I will be printing on canvas at some Holiday Markets later this year.


We Are All Travelers

Camino Meal Together

” Our eating together with family, community, colleagues, or strangers can also be less than perfect. But I wonder if the real proof of our Christian life is simply whom we would be willing to sit with at table. For whenever we receive others, however different they are from us, they become our traveling companions, and in this world below we are all travelers.

Less than perfect. That is truly all of us. We are all in need of a little “work” to make us a better version of ourselves.

At the end of a long day of walking on the Camino, often Terri and I after cleaning up, would sit down for a meal together with our fellow pilgrims. It was fun to talk to folks you had not met before or ones you were walking with for some time. They would be from all over the world as well. All of us sitting together at table, less than perfect, and yet traveling pilgrims with one focus, getting to Santiago de Compostela, our destination city.

I liked the quote because it spoke to my core belief. That we are all less than perfect, and on a walk to our “telos” (Greek for “end”, or “purpose”), which I believe is becoming the “best version of ourselves”. Why should we not sit together at table? We are all on a journey and we are all travelers and traveling companions. I guess that is why I liked the name of my blog, “We Are All Pilgrims”. For, I do believe, we are all pilgrims.

Easter Blessings to you all,


Photograph of the Week

Tulip Visions

This image was taken a few weeks ago on a cold and wet day up in the Skagit. I used my creative vision in the “digital darkroom” to make this final image.




“I love context. The reason I love context is because context shows us the true value of things. And out of that tends to spring our priorities.” Matthew Kelley

One of the gifts we received, when we walked the Camino, was the ability to see our lives in context. There is nothing like getting out of your daily routines and busy pace of life to get better context on your life. It seems that in our busyness and fast pace of our lives, we can struggle to find time to get context in our life. We can not “see the forest for the trees”.

One of the other ways we find context in our lives is when we are hit with a sudden change, a tragedy, someone we love, gets sick or dies. This also tends to help us get context. Context shows us the true value of things. I used to have a boss at Boeing that used the term, “re-framing your reality”.

It seems to me that one of the beautiful and freeing things about context, is the clarity that comes to you. You see things anew and fresh, maybe for the first time. For me, the Camino walk, re-framed my reality, I was able to see with clarity what life after Boeing might look like and what things were important to focus on after our walk. When we finished the walk, I was ready to begin anew with my priorities re-arranged.

Context is a beautiful thing! We are constantly re-discovering it and that is a good thing.

Blessings and all good,


Photograph of the Week


This image was entered into the Edmonds Art Festival Juried Art competition, in 2017 and was one of the ones chosen to be displayed. It was taken during a winter beach walk in Manzanita Beach, Oregon.


The Useless Thing

170922-Obstruction Point-144-Edit

I read a book called “Sabbath” by Wayne Muller during our Camino Walk. I can not imagine a better book to have read during this long walk to Santiago. The book was filled with some great wisdom for living life, mostly about the importance of rest.

I am in need of taking in some of its sage advice again, it seems. You see, we in the midst of a very, very busy point in our lives as we moving out of our home of 34 years. Our home will go on the market in late April or early May and we are now packing to move into a condo we hope to rent for a year until we purchase again. As anyone that has gone through this experience knows, it is filled with anxiety and lists upon lists of things that need to get done.

The reason the long Camino walk and that book were so key to my life after Boeing, is it really helped me see the value of “useless things”. What do I mean by “useless things”? Here is a quote from the book that will help:

“To walk without purpose, to no place in particular, where we are astonished by the textured bark of an oak. To notice the color red showing itself for the first time in the maple in fall. To see animals in shapes of clouds, to walk in clover. To fall into an unexpected conversation with a stranger… To taste the orange we eat, the juice on the chin, the pulp between the teeth. To take a deep sigh, exhale, followed by a listening silence… to give thanks for a single step on earth. To give thanks for any blessing, previously unnoticed.”

These are the “useless things”. They are thoroughly without measurable value. Nothing is getting checked off the list. Nothing of significance is being accomplished. Oh, what a beautiful thing it is, these “useless things”. It means we need to break off our pattern of living where we measure out day by how many things we checked off our list.

The Camino walk taught me how to do this, along with the sage advice of this book. We cannot wait till we are finished, because we are never finished. We can not wait till things slow down. We need to take rest and stop and take in the “useless things” in life.

I think I am writing this blog to myself right now. To recall back to this most important lessons that the Camino taught me.

Blessings and grace to you!


Photograph of the Week

Since today is St Patrick’s Day, I figured I should include a photograph from Ireland for the Photograph of the Week.


This is an image taken during our stay on the Dingle Peninsula.


20140924-Castro-Fromi-33-EditI am sure many of you may have heard the story about the Fort Collins runner that was attacked by a mountain lion while trail running. It is quite the story, as the young man after a long wrestling match with the lion was able to strangle and kill the mountain lion. His life was saved by the fact he heard the sound of a stick breaking behind him, he turned around and was face to face with the mountain lion. He said he normally would have been running with some headphones or ear buds and the mountain lion would have attacked him from behind by surprise.

His life was likely saved by the fact he was not “distracting himself” during his run in the mountains. When I heard this, the thought that came to mind, was how “distractions” could have lead to this man’s death and how today’s many distractions are “killing” our lives, the lives we are meant to live.

The world wants you to be distracted.

There’s a fortune to be made off your distraction. Television, streaming services, movie studios, social media, apps, video games, smart phone companies, and countless other billion-dollar industries have but one goal: To make you watch their stuff.” (Anthony Moore)

One of the best things about walking the Camino, is it was a largely distraction free time for the 5 weeks of walking. We did have smart phones but we mostly used them only in the evening (mostly to post to our daily Camino blog and to upload some photos to Facebook). I have to admit, I kind of long for that time again, as you see, I am very susceptible to “distraction disease”.

“Distractions destroy creativity, momentum, and focus. They seek to dominate you, much like the addiction seeks to dominate the addict. They will if you let them.” (Anthony Moore)

One way I have found that helps me to steer clear of distractions that keep me from investing in my free time, is to focus on routines. That was sure a lesson of our Camino walk, we were very much in a routine and rhythm each day. We got really got into the flow. Our daily routine kept us from distractions.

I am working hard these days to build meaningful life building routines that have become habit, like time spent with family and friends, writing, reading books, singing, spending time building my spiritual relationship with my creator).  The more I focus on my routines, the less I am pulled into distractions that draw me away from the important things in my life.

Let’s all work hard to eliminate distractions and develop routines and rhythms that help us be more creative and life giving to others.

Blessings and grace to you,


Photograph of the Month

Winter Wonderland

I realize everyone is a bit fatigued from all the snow we have had for the last few weeks, but here is an image I captured a few winters back on a hike to Big Four Mountain. It had just broke clear and bright after a big dump of snow in the mountains.




Stressed and Tired


We all get stressed out and tired. Terri and I faced this pretty much everyday of our long Camino walk to Santiago. Day after day of walking all day long takes its toll on you. There were many days we arrived at our destination for the night just completely spent and worn out. This level of effort put us under stress both physically and emotionally.

Then upon arriving at our accommodations for the night, we were often in close quarters with many other very tired and stressed pilgrims. This can put more stress on you as you we all are sharing the same limited resources (showers, clothes washing areas, sleeping areas). Emotions can run high and it can be hard to be patient and kind and not fall into being frustrated or rude and angry to others. This is what I wanted to reflect today.

So when I am tired and stressed, what is happening in my brain and how do I behave under this condition?

Here are some of my thoughts:

  • My brain loves efficiency and so the habits I have formed in our brain will tend to be my default behavior when I am under stress
  • The virtues we develop, like, say patience, don’t just happen without the discipline. It takes practice to develop a virtue.
  • Being raised with blessing of parents and teachers to guide me in the time tested values of Christianity has shaped my brain to love the virtues like patience and self control.
  • I also recognize I have a brain that is able to change and build new pathways so I can eventually over time become a more patient person if I truly want this virtue in my life. It is a choice I can freely make.
  • I understand that emotions come like the weather and are NOT bad. I also understand that they I can call them out and I can guide them with my reasoning and faith, much like a loving father with his children.

Did I succeed in being a patient and kind to my fellow pilgrims? Well, I would like to say yes but I would be lying. I do know the success I did have, felt good when I did and drove me to want to do it again.

We are all work in progress and we can really assess how far we have come when we observe how we do when we are tired and stressed. Do I like the way I have behaved? Do I hate the way I behaved? It is good to reflect on our behavior when under stress as it provides us with the measure of our progress on the path to being the “best version of ourselves”.

So, paying attention and listening to our emotions is good. What we do next is what matters most, though.

Blessings and grace,


Photograph of the Week


This is a photograph I captured during our trip to Scotland back in 2016. It is in the Highlands of Scotland a beautiful area of the world and I wish we had more time there. I revisited this image recently to put some “painterly touch” to it.