Have you ever had a nickname?
Is it a nickname you are proud of and want to live up to?
This year, I can answer yes to that question for the first time ever! I did have a nickname when I was at school, but it wasn’t very nice and certainly not something to aspire to.
Last summer, I joined a friend walking the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage route across northern Spain. She and her Camino family - the people she was walking with - were already two weeks into their journey and weary.
Then I arrived, full of energy and excitement about everything. I pointed out every bird I saw or heard and the butterflies that adorned the wildflower verges. I talked about how beautiful the trees were, looming out of the mist.
They didn’t quite know what to make of me. At least one of them was horrified and hoped that I would not be like that for the whole of the next month. Little did he know that that was precisely what I would be like...
When walking long-distance trails like the Camino de Santiago, hikers are sometimes bestowed trail names by their fellow walkers.
My friend Hazel became ‘Happy Feet’ because she was one of the few walkers with no blisters. She also spent time every day helping other people suffering with their feet.
Marie-Josée, another of my Camino family, became ‘Sunshine’ because she radiated light, however much pain she was in.
I was bestowed the trail name of 'Snow Light'.
"It typifies your attitude to life - you are joyful like Snow White, and also practical - you know the weight of everything in your pack."
At first, I wasn’t sure this was a great trail name or nickname to have. But, as I walked, it grew on me. I realized that it described me perfectly – combining my love of nature, hiking, and so many things that I’m enthusiastic about with my interest in planning and getting technical details right, like keeping my pack light.
I decided to embrace it. I want to share my excitement about life, wildlife, landscapes and friendship. I want to share practical tips and knowledge to help other people feel the same way.
The 2022 Toastmasters World Champion entitled his speech ‘Ndini’. It’s a Zimbabwean word meaning ‘this is me’, ‘this is who I am’.
I am Julia Goodfellow-Smith. I am also Snow Light. Ndini. This is who I am.
Who are you? What trail name would you like to have?
Find out more about my Camino journey in Walking the Camino: A Journey for the Heart and Soul. It is now available to buy as an ebook, paperback, audiobook and large print paperback. There is also a supplementary workbook available as a paperback and pdf. Two pdfs are also available, free of charge, with book club questions and to help you plan your own pilgrimage. More details from www.juliags.com/camino.