“What’d you have in mind, Kimber?” replies Mom. She’s doing that smiley eyes thing again.
“How ’bout we invite one of our new favorite authors to do a guest post? We could ask the Camino de Santiago walk lady. Cathay O. Reta and Keep Walking: You Heart Will Catch Up. Tell us what she’s up to. Any new books in the pipeline. Lessons learned. What’s next. What about Ray? Perfect for this Valentine’s thingy!”
“Kimber, you’re a genius!”
Mom’s nothing if not quick.
So here, without further barking, is Cathay’s guest post. You’re gonna enjoy this! Take it away, Cathay:
Thanks for this opportunity to share a little about myself. My name is Cathay. Yes, that’s the correct spelling. I didn’t know I wasn’t “Cathy” until 6th grade when I saw my birth certificate. My mom says she doesn’t know why she used that spelling. It’s a bit of a mystery. But I liked it and began to write it that way. Now I also use its matching pronunciation; it rhymes with café.
I settled in Spokane Valley, Washington almost two years ago, five months after getting home from Spain. When I was 29 I married into the Los Angeles area and was there for 33 years with my husband. After he died, I moved to an Indiana farm with friends, then to Idaho, and finally Washington. The outdoors is so beautiful and refreshing. I love the trees and the water and everything about the Pacific Northwest. It nourishes my mind and my body. My spirit, too.
Since returning from the Camino
By the time I finished walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain I knew I didn’t want to live a gypsy life traveling around alone. (I previously thought that I did.) Long story short, I met Ray through Match.com. I was quite surprised at how well we hit it off and how easy it was to meld into one another’s lives. For the longest time I kept thinking it can’t be this easy. Then one day it occurred to me that this was what I had prayed for. Why such doubt? Didn’t I learn on the Camino that I am an amazing woman? That I am worthy of good things? Here he is!
I love our ages — 66 and 77. There’s something very liberating to find love in these mature years. Ray and I are both widowers and have been caregivers to spouses. I suppose this shared bond helps us to be present in each day and to appreciate each moment. When he’s not in the garage building hot rods and I’m not at the computer, we enjoy sitting and talking, walking together hand-in-hand and taking drives in his 1952 Pro Street Willys . . . even though fast and loud hot rods still scare me a bit. I’m new to this world.
I don’t know if I’ll ever return to the Camino. I certainly would enjoy it, but I don’t feel that pressing call that I had in 2019. It turned out to be such a needed experience and I trust that whatever I need in the future will present itself just as strongly. Meanwhile, I participate in a few Facebook Forums with pilgrims – thousands of them – who have walked the Camino de Santiago or hope to do so as soon as COVID is held at bay and we can safely travel again. I feel a heaviness for those who were not able to walk in 2020 as planned, and an appreciation that I did my pilgrimage in 2019. Sadly, I’m concerned about how the hostel owners along the way will survive because of the shut-down during this pandemic. I think it will take some time for our whole world to recuperate.
I’ve begun my next book. It’s about my work in the field of adult literacy, helping English-speaking adults learn to read and write better and helping non-English speakers to learn English. I started as a volunteer literacy tutor in 1984. That kick-started a new career. I moved into leadership positions on the local, state and national levels. Now I’m semi-retired but continue as a consultant to help train literacy coordinators new to the field.
I feel a need to write this book, just as I did about writing Keep Walking. I have a lot to say. I need to get it out of my head and onto paper for others who may be able to find an encouraging word or helpful hint here or there. It’s something I know I just have to do.
It’s Valentine’s Day! Reflecting on my biggest take-away from my Camino experience, I share this message to you and all your readers:
You are beautiful. You are amazing, and you can do anything. I know it’s hard to embrace that. I still need constant reminders for me to live it, but I strive to do just that and hope that you will, too.
For this Valentine’s Day, I hope you’ll look in the mirror and admire the majestic, beautiful creature you see and acknowledge what a treasure you are. You are a gift to the world. And if you’re fortunate enough to be with someone special, be sure to let them know how treasured they are, too.
Find our more about Cathay and her work at: CathayReta.com
For our full review of Keep Walking: Your Heart Will Catch Up, click here.
Valentine’s Day image credit: Pixy