8. Please tell us how your life philosophies have changed after completing the Camino.
Since I come home, I decided I couldn’t work in the corporate sector as an employee. Instead, I could act as a mediator to the corporate world and the Camino world: to bring a holistic philosophic approach to living one’s life congruent with personal values. I have developed leadership workshops based on core leadership skills that are based on compassion, love, awareness, truth, gratitude and care. I believe we are all creative and that we have the ability to create our life, if we seek first to understand the truth. I believe that life is quite simple and that it is necessary to live a spiritual life first.
Most importantly, I believe that one’s ability to be creative is increased with time spent walking. Walking calms the body, mind and spirit. It’s like taking a pause in one’s life.
9. You have made a major transition in your life since you first did the Camino. What did you decide to do with your life after the Camino? What is your life like 3 years after you did the Camino?
Sometime after I returned I began telling stories about my journey. People asked me if I was going to write a book but I said that I didn’t know how to write. Without a formal university education or any experience writing I was afraid to undertake this project. Instead, I thought I would record a storytelling CD since I knew how to tell a story. I rented time in a recording studio and recorded the stories telling them as I would to my audience. Once the CD was produced, I began selling it in my country gift store and on the internet. Within 6 months, I had sold 1000 copies. People came back to me with their feedback that they loved the stories, but they wanted to know when I would be writing a book. It seemed they wanted more. A year later, after many requests for a book, I decided that this book wasn’t about me. Even though I was afraid to write, I had an obligation to share the stories. I had learned on the Camino and when I got back home, that my purpose in life was to inspire others through the use of my voice. Whether it was speaking or writing, I would use my inner voice. I believed it was my purpose in life.
In September 2003 I found a publisher by going to the Word on the Street literary festival and talking to everyone I could about my idea. Two months later I had signed a deal with White Knight Publications and then began writing the first draft of my book. In 2 months I had 54,000 words and began the long arduous editing process. 6 months later the book, Sue Kenney’s My Camino rolled of the press. As of April 2005, 3500 books have been sold and 2500 storytelling CD’s.
10. Overall, how has the Camino changed your life?
I believe that I am a leader in my own life and in the world. I was able to spend time alone, go on a journey and through that journey I discovered what my purpose in life is. Now that I am home, I want to share this wisdom with others. I have the chance to inspire people, to have an impact on their lives as an international key-note speaker and an author. As an artist, I have the opportunity to impact change in our world. I have written the first draft of my second book on the Camino and have also co-written a romantic comedy about a writer in a small Ontario town. I am co-writing a screen play for the first book to be produced as a theatrical production. The possibilities are endless.
11. How has your family reacted to the transitions you have undergone since completing the Camino?
Initially my family thought I was just going through a major mid-life crisis. Now they are my number one supporters, telling people about my book and supporting my work. My daughter Meghan even asked if she could walk the Camino with me next time.
12. You walked a different route of the Camino in the spring of 2004. Tell us about this experience and how it was different from your first pilgrimage.
I walked both directions of the Portuguese route of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. After meeting Bernie the dog, I realized that like him I only walked one direction of the Camino. The pilgrims of the past would leave their homes to find the path and then once they arrived in Santiago, they would have to turn around and walk back. I wanted to experience the journey in both directions to understand how this would impact the integration of the lessons learned and experienced.
13. Tell us about the book that you have written and the CDs you have recorded. What has been your experience as a novice writer / recording artist?
I finally had the confidence to begin to write a book once I had learned that the most important credential to be a good writer, was to be a good reader. I had read books all of my life. I knew that if I was to write this book, I must write the truth. Once I began writing, I wrote without judgement of what I was saying and how it would be interpreted, but also I wrote without judgement of how others would consider my stories. It was this ability to write free of any restrictions that gave me the courage to write the truth.
Another important factor to writing was the fact that I had a point of view to express. My journey on the Camino was a metaphor for life.
Because of my training as an athlete I undertook this writing project like I did a training regimen. I had 2 months to write a fist draft manuscript totalling 50,000 words. I broke this into daily targets: each day I wrote 1000 words and at the end had met my timeline. Never at any point did I get writer’s block.
14. Tell us also about the workshops you offer and the events you participate in.
I offer workshops in principled leadership skills, creating presence, communications and more. My clients include the corporate world with groups such as Manulife Financial, TD Canada Trust, Bell Nexia, Calgary Chamber of Commerce, City of Hamilton and more.
As an international key-note speaker I have spoken to audiences as large as 1400 people. I have been on national TV on Good Morning Canada, Telelatino, Breakfast Television Toronto and Halifax, CTV, CHCH, Rogers and many more. As a storyteller, I have been a part of the Stephen Leacock Festival, Work on the Street and many more teller events.
I also teach writing workshops by sharing my discipline and creative writing techniques for writing a book with others.
15. How have people responded to the experiences you have shared with them about the Camino?
Generally people are really moved by the stories of inspiration. I have had many people tell me that my stories have changed their life. They share my stories and therefore inspire others. Often when I meet people, they become life long friends. People tell me that my energy is very strong and bright. I am honored to be living my purpose.
Sue, let me thank you once again for taking time out of your busy schedule to tell us about your life-changing experience on the Camino de Santiago.