living in the n
Guest: Kurt Koontz, Author & Long-Distance Traveler
Topic: How can adventures help us cope with major life changes? Once upon a time, Kurt Koontz lived a comfortable and predictable lifestyle as a business man until one day he stepped off the grid to embark on the journey of a lifetime, walking almost 500 miles across Spain. Join us to share your own epic story and hear how Kurt changed the direction of life through a physical and emotional journey. To enjoy the show, click here: http://www.nissancommunications.com/breakingfree.php.
Kurt and Marilyn began the conversation talking about Kurt’s decision to travel after retiring from the corporate world at age 36. When he retired, he simplified and decided to live more frugally. He dove into retirement with the same passion he carried with him during his working days. He started to exercise and travel, especially liking long journeys.
Kurt also shared that he has a family history of addiction and stopped drinking, cold turkey in 2001.
He walked the Camino de Santiago trail in Spain in 2012. The Camino de Santiago is a trail that’s been in existence for 1,300 years with a foundation in Christianity, specifically St. James. Today, it is a very religious experience for some while others walk the trail seeking the physical challenge.
Kurt remarked, “You start walking with strangers and when you arrive, it doesn’t matter what your background is. We all became one walking to Santiago.”
What is it about that kind of journey that brings people together?
Kurt: A common bond exists among all of the people. We are on the same path. People come and go. In the end, it is your journey. It is journey that is a metaphor for life: There’s a journey. You have relationships that come and go. You learn constantly. You have moments of intense joy and sadness. You are faced with lots of adversity.
The saying goes, “The first third of the trip is for the body, the second is for the mind and the final third is for the soul.” The first part of the trip is hard, but your body adapts. Day #1 is monstrous. You gain about 5,000 feet in elevation. You struggle sometimes during the journey; some of the struggle is mental. The final third is beautiful. You are coming into the finality of the trip and the realization that it’s almost over. You come to appreciate so much from a cup of coffee to a sunrise.
How much does it cost?
Kurt: Overall, your daily expense is about $25-$50/day. This isn’t a trip where you accumulate things. The only thing you accumulate is joy and happiness. Air fare and travel expenses are about $1,100.00.
What was the hardest part?
Kurt: I am a physically active person in general so I did OK for the most part. The worst pain I had was chronic soreness of the feet. This trip, just like your trip through life, is very unique. For some people the physical part is grueling. That wasn’t my Camino. My Camino was more in the head, meaning I spent more time on a mental journey. My spiritual journey began on day 1.
The important message Kurt wants to share:
Everyone can make a Camino of their own! You don’t have to be in Spain to do this.
What are some important lessons from the journey?
The lessons that Kurt learned:
*Being in the Now – What is it?
Everything I do is now. I am intensely focused in the moment. If I am washing a dish, I want to wash that dish with passion and focus. When you’re talking, listen to that person. Don’t drift. Listen. Live in the now.
On the Camino, every day you wake up not knowing who you will be traveling with, what you will eat, who you will walk with or where you will sleep that night. It’s all there is. You just naturally don’t have time to worry about the past or the future.
Being in the now is where life happens.
I found that the more I let go of worry, the better things worked out. I tried to experiment with it first. I found that I was able to unload the worry and he loved it.
I made a list of all of the things I worried about. Then I immediately crossed 5/8 things out. On the other side of the equation, I thought about what is working out well. Shoes, air in your lungs, feet to put shoes on. I replaced worry with gratitude.
Marilyn noted that worry is about the future. In the moment, you can perpetuate different thoughts to combat that.
What did he hear from other pilgrims along the way?
Kurt: The youngest was 2 years old. The oldest was 82 years old. These people come from every corner of the world. He met people and spent time with people from at least 35 different countries. We all face the same issues in life – medical, financial, relationships, etc.
I met a couple who had escaped from Cuba, under Castro. It was an incredible story of rebirth. What was amazing was that he was 75 years old. It was his 4th Camino since 2007!
Writing a book!
Kurt: There are at least 100 books written about the Camino. I wrote my book One Million Steps so people could feel like they were in my heart, heart and body during the trail. The title of One Million Steps comes from the approximate number of steps I took to complete the journey.
Finishing the trail was one thing, but the journey continues. I wrote a book! But there’s more to it; you just don’t write a book and then people are ready to buy it. You have to get out there, interact with people and promote the book!
What kind of people connector were you before the trip?
Kurt: My biggest asset was staying in touch with a wide variety of people. Now I feel like my energy is moving out into the universe, inspiring people. I want people to step outside of their comfort zones and try something new. Get out of your routine. Grab the stick and fly the plane. Don’t fly on autopilot!
What were the people like, those living along the way?
Kurt: They are extraordinary people! There is so much rich history. There are bridges that the Romans built when they invaded the country. Most nights, you are in small villages. There are generations of families who live there in a mostly agrarian lifestyle. Some people are kind and interested in us as pilgrims. Others didn’t bother with us. Most are very supportive. There are volunteers at the hostels, typically people who have walked the Camino before. They aren’t doing it for gain. They are there to make your life better on a daily basis. They will go to the end of the world to do it for you.
The energy of this path is immaculate.
A lot of the villages are supported by communal activity. People traveling the Camino eat and sleep there. It is a step back in time. I saw 3 fast food restaurants the entire time I was there. There, the bar was the center of the universe. There, it’s conversation and being in the moment. Not things.
Kurt: So far, I’ve sold 3,000 copies of the book. I’ve met so many amazing people and had some many serendipitous experiences. I am letting the journey flow. Things are taking care of themselves. It is “frictionless.”
Marilyn said, “Expect the power and juiciness of living in the now. It doesn’t take away the awe. Live in the now. “
Below are Guests, People & Resources Referenced During the Show:
After retiring early from his job as a successful sales executive for a Fortune 500 technology company, Kurt Koontz volunteered in his community and traveled across Europe and North America. He never considered writing a book until he walked nearly 500 miles across Spain in 2012. Those million steps were so compelling that he returned home and began writing and speaking about his life-changing adventures. He lives and writes on a tree-lined creek in Boise, Idaho.
Via the internet: www.kurtkoontz.com
You can find Kurt’s book, A Million Steps, at:
Co-Producer/The Breaking Free Show– Online Television
Coach – Life/Business/Children/Teens/Adults
Host – The Breaking Free Show – Online Television
Superior Court Mediator
Co-founder Women’s Power Networking