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15 Stories of Virtue Story 3: Trust and Keep Walking


Pilgrims from all walks of life come together to walk the Camino Santiago with a shared sense of purpose often wrapped in personal loss or grief. We leave behind our over planned hustle and bustle, the status of our professional and daily lives, and immerse ourselves in the simplicity and beauty of the natural and spiritual world. As our feet move forward along the variety of footpaths, our minds find stillness, our heart opens to introspection, and our soul is forced to trust oneself, trust others, and trust the Camino to provide everything you need.


As I have noted in my first two stories, LIVE THE QUESTIONS! and WATCH THE HORIZON AND THE SPOON, I read and journaled in my personal copy of The Alchemist each day during my pilgrimage. The Alchemist encourages all of us to follow our dreams, embrace the challenges and opportunities that come our way, and trust in the journey. The book is full of wisdom and valuable lessons, and it continues to inspire me to live a more purposeful and spiritual life.


“Trust the journey.” Woo wee, that’s not a simple ask to many. We all have a different starting base, so trust layers are revealed depending on environmental triggers and other stress responses. Let’s pause for a moment on the word trust and explore it a little deeper.


For over 50 years, many of my personal and professional decisions were made from a place of hurt and fear of abandonment, certainly not from a place of faith or the belief in the reliability, care, safekeeping, ability, or strength of someone or something. Trusting myself to move through anything has never been easy for me. Trusting and accepting the errors of others? Even worse. In partnership with my fabulous therapist, reconstructing trust within, around, and across my entire orbit has been a major focus in therapy. That's why walking the Camino Santiago alone was a perfect next step in my healing journey.

My therapist wrote the best and most personal definition of the word trust for me.


Walking the Camino taught me how the Camino provides you with all of the necessary light on your darkest of days, if and only if you choose to surrender to it. I learned the art of surrendering the need for control, expectations, and preconceived beliefs in myself and in others. I learned to trust that the yellow arrows, the flowing fountains of clean water, food, and shelter will appear at just the right time, exactly when you needed it. I learned to trust myself to move through anything including climbing those big inclines and walking those long 25-30 kilometers days. I learned to trust that I have enough internal resources and strength to handle what is being thrown at me. In so doing, I discovered an unknown and innate strength within myself that overflowed into navigating life’s challenges with grace and resilience well after returning home to Jacksonville, Florida. This mindset is often referred to as the Spirit of the Camino and it is nothing like you’ve ever experienced before. We should all hope to surrender to this spiritual discovery and trust that everything always works out for the best as long as we just keep walking.



Day 12 journal entry in the pages of The Alchemist


About the 15 Stories of Virtue from the Camino Santiago

My entire world and reason for existence came crashing down three years ago. The crash and dismantling of who is often referred to as Michelle, produced a true, phoenix-like rising of a new and stronger Dawn. There was only one big test left for this newer version of me and that was to put all of this healing to the test —a spiritual pilgrimage to the Santiago Compostela in Northern Spain.

Part of the purpose of a pilgrimage is to share your journey and express enlightenment with others upon returning. I have chosen to do so through what I am calling the "15 Stories of Virtue". Virtues are attitudes, dispositions, or character traits that enable us to be and to act in ways that develop our guiding principles for living. They enable us to pursue the ideals we have explored and adopted. Starting Wednesday, June 21, I will release a short story each week on the virtues below illustrating the healing, the omens, and the lessons from the Camino Santiago. READ MORE


These Are My 15 Stories of Virtue

3. Trust and Keep Walking NOW LIVE

4. Goals, Not Ambition UP NEXT

5. You Have Enough

6. Practice Reason, Not Judgement

7. You Are Plenty

8. Share

9. Decline the Invitation

10. Forgive and Keep Walking

11. Close Chapters

12. Choose Joy

13. Slow Down and Be Still

14. Release the Weight

15. Ultreia!


About Dr. Dawn Emerick

There is nothing more powerful than learning from and sharing space with people with lived, learned and recovery experiences, self-awareness, and professional application. Dr. Dawn Emerick confronted her childhood and adult trauma after witnessing how her own unresolved trauma was affecting the way she engaged her children, family, friends, peers, co-workers, and teams- especially when her childhood trauma was triggered daily by a bully boss. The combination of Dawn’s childhood and adult trauma, healing, astute self-awareness, her 30 years of non-profit and county/city government executive leadership experience and stories from the field, creates the ultimate learning, coaching and mentoring environment.


Dawn is a hurt leader, a TEDx speaker, Mental Health First Aid instructor, a certified change management practitioner, and podcaster. You can now add a LinkedIn Learning Instructor to her portfolio. Visit Dawn Emerick Consulting for more information on upcoming trauma-informed leadership and workplace training.

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