Choice Not Chance Living to LEARN — 15 November 2011
Are You Carrying Burdens on Your Path in Life?


There’s a story I heard once (I wish I remember where), that happened on a trail called the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain. For over 1000 years, people have walked this route: some in pilgrimage, some looking to “find themselves”, some escaping from circumstance or duty and some looking to reconnect with something long lost in themselves. The story went something like this:

A person walking the trail noticed, with frequency, small piles of stones alongside the trail. There was no particular order to them, and there really didn’t seem to be a purpose. The person found another traveler along the trail and asked: “Why are there so many small piles of stones along this trail?” The person said that these were piles of sorrow stones. Legend had it that, if you picked up a stone along the way, put all of your worries, fears, sadness or negative thoughts into the stone, and placed it down again somewhere en route, you would leave all your troubles behind.

I wish I knew where I remember the story from, but I don’t.

But ever since then, on every walk or hike I take, I pick up a stone, put any worries I might have into it, and leave it behind me. The photo here is one of my small “Camino” piles, on one of my favorite hiking trails. I like to think that, once I’ve put any of my worries into the stone, Mother Earth has a unique way of absorbing and refreshing the stone, such that it harms no one, and is given a “new life” itself; sorrow free…just like me.

Perhaps it is a tall tale I heard. Perhaps it is silly to think that a stone can absorb and wash away one’s troubles.

But I like the story, and I like the concept. So I always pick up a stone on my travels, rub it between my fingers, feeling its smoothness or roughness, admiring its shape and color, all the while placing any negative thoughts into it. By the time I’m ready to gently place it back down, I have a smile on my face. It’s very cathartic. I can’t explain why. It just is.

Are you carrying burdens on your path in life? Perhaps you will now leave them on the trail, just like the stones.

Have you heard stories of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela? Please share. And let me know what you think about leaving your troubles behind on your trail. I tend to sing the song “Pack up all your cares and woe, here I go, singin’ low, bye…bye..blackbird” as I’m walking with my stone. And if anyone knows of this little story I told…where it came from or who might have told it…I’d love to hear that too!

(Note: This is a post I wrote for my blog on June 3rd 2011, after having read the story of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela years before, and long before the new movie, “The Way” by Emilio Estevez. It just seemed timely and appropriate to share it here. You will definitely want to see the movie trailer. It gives me goosebumps.)

Kaarina Dillabough, Amaranth, Ontario

Kaarina is a business/life coach living in Ontario, Canada. For over 25 years her high-voltage energy, expertise and experience has inspired those she has worked with to reach beyond their grasp, to attain great things in business and in life. A former Olympic sports colour commentator and coach, Kaarina parlayed her coaching skills from the gym floor to the boardroom, working with business owners to improve their profitability and prosperity. In doing so, she has seen people grow both personally and professionally. Kaarina is known as an inspiring motivational speaker in areas such as branding, marketing, business growth strategies, and personal growth and prosperity. She is a passionate, seasoned coach and accountability partner with a proven track record, who loves nothing more than helping people achieve their goals in business and in life. Check out her Blog or follow her on Facebook or Twitter. Email contact: kaarina (at) kaarinadillabough (dot) com

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(42) Readers Comments

  1. The trail sounds familiar although I can’t say that I remember the name for certain. But I am familiar with the idea of using stones as a scapegoat upon which we place all of our troubles.

    I have used some of those upon occasion for this. I like the idea of doing so and walking away with a clean start.

    • Thanks for dropping by Jack:) It does feel so good to parcel one’s worries into that stone, and allow it to carry those worries away. Even if one doesn’t believe in it, it can be so cathartic. Hope you take a look at the movie trailer link above. I know it will hit you in the heart, my friend…all about father/son journey…final journey. Cheers! Kaarina

  2. Thanks Kaarina (and Gary). You are quite the busy lady. Love the post and the idea of leaving your troubles and worries behind. Great idea. Look forward to more about this, including the movie. Sounds great. Also, looking forward to some very talented person guest posting at The CARE Movement tomorrow. Woo Hoo !

    Thanks again. Luv ya.


    • Al, I’m delighted that I’ll be guest posting over at your place tomorrow:)

      I love the ritual of picking up a stone and putting all concerns into it, and leaving it to safely dissipate into Mother Earth. And be sure to click on the movie trailer link above: I know it will have a big impact on you.

      Luv ya right back! Cheers! Kaarina

  3. I remember the original post and I’m pretty sure I had something incredibly witty (and stupid) to say. The movie looks like it’s a great one and probably one that will make me tear up.

    Thanks for sharing this great story again and bringing a deeper level of significance.

    Way to go Kaarina.

    • Thanks Bill: it will definitely tear you up. The live link is in the Note paragraph, bold movie trailer…it is sooooo good and so moving. And on the original post, you said you’d prefer coins along the trail:) Ever the witty and wise one you are. Thanks so much for dropping by and commenting, and be sure to head over to The Way movie trailer. Cheers! Kaarina

  4. What a wonderful story, Kaarina.

    There is a Romanian tradition that if you throw your money into the wind, your demons will stay with the money. Sometimes, you can see this at a Gypsy (Roma) wedding. On rare occasion, at a bar or night club in Bucharest. But it is also done to remove curses. I have done it several times and, yes, it is liberating.

    • Ah Stan, isn’t it great to have rituals to throw troubles to the wind:) I really appreciate you stopping by. I love your writing, and am amazed at how much amazing content you produce. I’m a fan:) And now I shall throw some money into the air, haha! Cheers! Kaarina

  5. Hey Kaarina,
    I love this idea! I’m going to do one on our property – way up in the back! It’s funny, I collect stones whenever I travel, particularly around the many different beaches in the Maritimes. I have a LOT of stones in my house – too many. Perhaps some of them can convey some of my negative feelings out the door and back to mother earth!
    Thanks for this!

    • Lori, that’s a great idea. I love collecting stones, rocks and shells. They are all over my house too, and in my gardens. And I particularly like the ritual of sorrow stones, with the idea that all bad energy and thoughts get cleansed by Mother Earth. And P.S. …One can NEVER have too many stones:) Cheers! Kaarina

      • LOL, I just found the link to the Trailer (was looking at the two songs on the right of the page!) – that’s on my list now! WOW! Thanks for that – too!

  6. Hi Kaarina,

    I love anything that can help a person to stop worrying. It’s such a drain with NO good side benefits! I know people who stay up all night trying to mentally solve problems, and they are so exhausted the next day that they can’t DO anything!
    Recognizing patterns has helped me to let go. I don’t like it, but it’s true for me, that the answers and solutions for almost everything important come in the 11th hour! That’s so annoying! But because I know that that’s going to happen, I work hard with what I know and what I have, and then I just believe that it’ll all work out.
    Worrying is such a trap. It is a practice that really entices you into thinking you’re actually doing something productive. Sometimes doing nothing but serving other people who are worse off than I am has opened doors that I never would have noticed.
    Thanks for the thoughts. Good reminder for me today!!

    • Glad to provide a reminder Betsy:) How does the old saying go?…we worry 90% of the time about things that happen less than 10% of the time. Worry robs today of its glory, so I just pick up a stone and banish it whenever I can. Keep thinking the good thoughts, my friend, and put your worries into stones:) Cheers! Kaarina

  7. And I use stones and shells slightly differently. When we travel, we’re always on the lookout for beautifully shaped and colored stones. Our favorite hiding spots are in creeks and on beaches. We bring back our treasures and place them in piles around the garden and landscaping. The favored shells adorn trinket shelves inside.

    These stones provide happy memories of travels to and with friends and family. Or, they provide a thought of a serene time alone traipsing along a beach in Thailand where shells are more abundant and varied.

    • Sounds like we’re birds of a feather Jayme. I have jars of stones and shells throughout my house, and they bring me such pleasure. The sorrow stones are the ones I pick up when out walking, for the purpose of leaving them behind. But I usually end up with other stones in my pocket to add to my collection too!

      Hope your presentation today was a blast: look forward to hearing about it. Cheers! Kaarina

  8. Is it weird that I know that blackbird song? I worked at an assisted living center for a while, so I know a number of songs from the 1920′s and 1930′s.

    I like the idea of the stones. It’s a way to externalize a problem and to let it go. It’s similar to the idea of prayer; you’re supposed to voice your problem to God and give it to him. The problem is that I tend to take the stones with me rather than leave them on the trail…

    • As I mentioned to Jayme, I do both Erin…the sorrow stone in hand, the collected stones in pocket. Perhaps with the challenges you shared with us today, you can put all your worries into a sorrow stone and leave it behind. I’ll do it for you/ on your behalf too! Cheers! Kaarina

      • Thanks, Kaarina. Yes, being brave enough to share a difficulty is a step in the right direction to leaving that stone on the trail instead of keeping it in my pocket. :)

        • That’s a great image for you Erin, and taking that step by sharing with us your challenges has hopefully eased your worries somewhat. You’ve got loads of support, my friend:)

  9. I must admit this story is a new one for me. But it is so intriguing! I have often noticed piles of rocks while out walking the dog or at parks for kids outdoor practices. I had always assumed kids were collecting rocks or something. But now I wonder if they could be “Camino” piles?

    This is definitely something I will think about on our next stroll.

    • I like the romantic notion that you’ve been encountering Camino piles:) Perhaps it’s just kids, and maybe those kids are wise beyond their years. Give it a try Jennifer: can’t hurt, right? Cheers! Kaarina

  10. Kaarina,

    I like the idea of leaving worries, fears, and anxiety behind. And I say whatever works for you, go for it! Anything that helps get rid of negative feelings sounds fine to me. There can be positive power in a practice like this.

    For some reason this reminds me of this old Irish blessing. I heard a lot of this stuff when I was younger. American Irish like to think they’re really Irish ;-) Anyway I had to do a google search, but you go. My relatives liked to drink, so I remember this is slightly slurred, uncle speak.

    May your troubles be less,
    And your blessing be more.
    And nothing but happiness,
    Come through your door.

    “The Way” is doing quite well over at Rotten Tomatoes. I’ll definitely want to check it out. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Thanks for sharing the Irish blessing Craig. And I agree…whatever works for someone to be rid of burdens and worry, I say go for it! And be sure to check out the movie trailer (in bold above is a live link). I think you will love it. Cheers! Kaarina

  11. Kaarina, aloha. Thanks so much for sharing your stones and the wonderful story with us. Though I am not familiar with that particular one, I know a delightful one that is similar in nature.

    Every night a man saw his neighbor pause briefly by a tree outside the door and seemingly hang something on it before entering the home. Since the neighbor could never see anything on the tree, he finally asked the neighbor what he was doing with the tree..

    The man told him that was his Worry Tree. Each night before going in the house to be with his family, he would put all his “worries” for the day on the tree. He knew he could always “pick them up” in the morning, however, the night was to be with his family without worries. The man said he had been doing it for years and not once did he pick up his “worries” to take with him; each night he enjoyed his time with his family.

    Kaarina, though I heard that story years ago, it has stayed with me ever since. Over the years I have shared it with many people who appreciated it. In fact, I think I need to write a post about it.

    Whether you use stones or a worry tree, it is definitely best to let go of worries because they serve no purpose. When people worry, they spend their time focusing on what they don’t want to happen rather than what they do. Counterproductive, to say the least.

    Wishing you a magnificent week ahead, Kaarina. Thanks so much for this beautiful post. Aloha. Janet

    • Janet, that is a wonderful story, and will make an excellent post. Holding onto worries, fear, regrets and problems burdens not only the carrier, but all those around him/her. So whether it be a worry tree or sorrow stone or some other talisman or ritual to release worry, I say…let go. Thanks so much for taking the time to drop by and comment. I really appreciate it. Cheers! Kaarina

  12. Well the idea of the stones reminds me of a former yoga instructor whom I LOVED, that stared every class with us imagining a big box outside the room in which we put all our baggage, and put a lid on the box, turned away and walked into the studio. Worked every time. :)

    • Lisa, that’s another great ritual to release worry. We now have your box outside the room, Janet’s worry tree or sorrow stones to use as worry-release outlets. Thanks so much for coming by Lisa, and taking the time to comment. I appreciate you doing so:) Cheers! Kaarina

  13. Lovely post, Kaarina, and I love the idea of your stone piles, leaving all sorrows behind. And reminding those following to do likewise!

    There is a book by Paulo Coelho on the Jacob’s way: The Pilgrimage, Amazon has it in paperback:

    I read it when I staid at my mum’s place in Andalusia, it is very intense, inspirational and moving.

    • Thanks so much for sharing that Barbara. I will definitely be getting that book! I’ve read the “Alchemist” but I hadn’t heard of Pilgrimmage. Delighted you enjoyed the post, and thanks again for the link. Cheers! Kaarina

  14. Love the story Kaarina and can’t wait to see The Way.

    When I walk the Appalachian Trail through the Smoky Mountains of Eastern Tennessee, I often look for “worry stones” in the Little Pigeon River that is always close by. The running water has usually rubbed the stones smooth and it is a good feeling to have one in hand – rubbing out my burdens and fears.

    I have one of those stones sitting here on my desk and I often use it to help me through and obstacle or to remember that there is always a calm waiting just outside the chaos.

    One day I’d love to walk the Camino de Santiago de Compostela – seems a lot of good souls have used it to right some wrongs.

    Thanks for the good stuff as always!

    • Frank, that’s such a poetic image you paint. I too love the water-smoothed stones in lakes and rivers, and the cool and calming feel they have. And I too can’t wait to see the movie The Way. Did you click on the movie trailer link above? The movie looks amazing!

      I also plan to walk the Camino one day: it’s on my list of dreams-that-will-come-true. Cheers! Kaarina

      • I saw the piece they did on 60 Minutes (I think it was) with Martin Sheen and Emilio about filming The Way. Very excited to see it and of cource it renewed my interest in walking the Camino.

        btw – the stones out of the Little Pigeon River in Gatlinburg are the BOMB! :)

        • Must. See. Photos. of. Stones that are the BOMB:) Let’s compare notes once we’ve seen the movie. It’s in limited release here in Canada, but I’ll be watching for it!

          • DEAL! and I’ll dig up some river stone photos too.

        • Frank, I think I’m replying in the wrong spot, but WOOHOO! Can’t wait to see photos!

  15. I really enjoyed this post Kaarina

    Rocks are very powerful indeed. I can not tell you how, but I have communed with the rocks. Especially during many hikes and rock climbs in Joshua Tree National Park. I know of worry stones. My girlfriend and her folks collect Heart Stones. I really like your tale and might have to try it. Though your mounting pile of worries has me worried that you have too many worries 8)

    We are all made of atoms. Atoms are not Animal, Vegetable, Mineral. They are just atoms. Who knows what they once were? We all have minerals in our bodies. We have a trillion cells. I can just imagine how many atoms. And the earth is made up of atoms. So I do believe there is a connection between everything in some way. Which is energy.

    But to prove the true power of Mother Earth and rocks have you heard of Ulru in Australia?

  16. Howie, I am familiar with Ayers Rock, but had no idea about the story of tourists returning rocks, and the tale associated with it. Thanks for sharing.

    Everything is energy, and although rocks are seen as inanimate objects, everything is infused with energy, and there is indeed “a connection between everything in some way.” Like books on a shelf, shells on a shore or stones on my path, they almost call to me…it’s as if they pick me as much as I pick them.

    And not to worry…I don’t have that many worries! I won’t be creating a mountain out of molehills any time in this lifetime. Sometimes I even rub the sorrows of a friend into the stone, on my friend’s behalf. And sometimes I pick up stones and pocket them for my collections. However, NEVER from Ayers Rock!

    Sorry for the delay in your comment appearing here. The Editor was able to find it, and solved the problem. Thanks for posting again. I appreciate it! Cheers! Kaarina

  17. Great post, Kaarina! And, the Emilio Estevez movie looks great– I’ll definitely have to check it out.

    One of your readers commented (and I agree with him on this) that different things work for different people. For me, I give my worries to God– but that doesn’t mean that works for everyone. Nevertheless, I think a key takeaway for all of us is that carrying burdens in life are just too heavy and will only slow you down.

    Afterall, “Life is too big to walk it alone.”

    • Kate, whatever works best for you IS best for you. Let go and let God is something that many of my associates do to release worries.

      Just like excess baggage, it’s best that we travel light through this life, and let go of heavy baggage that’s weighing us down. Thanks for dropping by:) Cheers! Kaarian

    • My apologies on your name Katie…my fingers got ahead of themselves

  18. Hi Kaarina…thank you for guiding me here ;-) What a lovely idea to create a receptacle for your worries out of stones you find along your path. I’m going to have to try that on my walks in our woods…I’m a little concerned that the pile of worry rocks that I create may tip the planet off it’s orbit ;-) You write with such powerful imagery Kaarina…just a beautiful story…thank you!

    • Ah Claudia, I don’t think our pile of sorrow stones will ever be that large. I told Howie that he needn’t worry about my creating a mountain out of molehills:) It’s always so great to see you “in the neighbourhood”, and thanks…the story’s pretty special to me:) Cheers! Kaarina