FIRST IMPRESSIONS- Autism, Karl Rove, and the Lesbian Governor

Changing first impressions is hard. It’s even harder when that impression is tied to something one has a strong emotional reaction to- Barack Obama is black and wasn’t born here, Ann Richards is a lesbian, a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles is running a global child sex-trafficking ring and plotting against Donald Trump. It doesn’t matter if the “facts” that the initial impression was based on are disproved.

A 1998 study published in The Lancet claimed a connection between vaccines and autism. Not too long after, the study was fully discredited, retracted, and shown to include falsified information which led to…

Cormac taking a break near Zalduendo

Do opposites attract? What insane cosmic forces cause us to become friends? Do you ever feel that a friend is holding you back from growing?

It seems obvious that most friends have a similar worldview, similar objectives, and similar beliefs. When I got married and started my own company, my circle of friends was made up mostly of people I worked with.

We had similar objectives and shared some common beliefs. Some I became better friends with than others- it was probably those I shared a similar worldview with.

After I had a child, that shifted somewhat. I became friends…

Cormack at Alto de Perdon (Hill of Forgiveness) looking back to Pamplona

What makes us becomes friends after being thrown together by the mad squalls and storms that life provides? What forces of nature cause us to remain friends? How do our friends affect the direction of our own lives?

I met Cormac, a teacher from Ireland while walking the Camino de Santiago two years ago. We walked together for 7 or 8 days and became friends. He called recently and told me he’d be visiting Southern California and would like to go camping.

We wound up staying two nights at a campground north of Santa Barbara overlooking the Pacific Ocean- lounging…

Day 10- Santo Domingo to Belorado

When you’re older you have baggage. That baggage is packed with habits, foibles, and deeply rooted convictions that cause you to shy away from life, things that get in the way of functioning clearly and living purposefully.

Many of these things are manifested in our personalities and make us “set in our ways” and “eccentric.” Some of us hold up these foibles as badges of honor. But really, they’re just behaviors, the foundations of which are habitual emotional reactions that were learned and refined long ago, and that are probably not relevant anymore.

But we rely on them anyway. We…

Day 31- The Plaza in front of The Catedral de Santiago de Compostela (Photo by Mark West)

I never really thought about being unworthy until a few years ago. But then again, a few years ago is when my life became a shitbag of chaos which, in my case, forced me to look inside and deal with the things that were making me wake up to dreams of suicide.

Around that time I wrote a “poem” (I use the term loosely) that I realize now is about being unworthy (you can read it here). It took an emotional breakdown, a walk across Spain, and most importantly time, to begin to heal myself.

Epiphanies are for Sissies

I didn’t have any epiphanies…

Day 1- St Jean Pied de Port

My last post was going answer the question “Why is feeling unworthy so epidemic in our society”? But I turned on the computer and my favorite background music, looked at my notes, and …cried.

And I know it’s because I’m sad, and still perplexed as to why we treat ourselves like shit. Truth be told, I just wanna know why I treat myself like shit. Maybe the rest of you are just fine.

If life can be as beautiful as the faint smile on my daughters face the other day as she turned and walked into her mother’s house after…

Day 12- San Juan de Ortega to Burgos

Why is feeling unworthy so epidemic in our society? In the promotional video I created for my upcoming book “All Roads Lead Home- Life, Love, and Forgiveness on the Camino de Santiago” I said:

“Some people might think walking 500 miles across Spain is a big deal. But when you don’t think too much of yourself, you figure that if you can do it, anyone can”.

After I got back and told others what I’d done, many were impressed. I wasn’t. Looking back at my life, for the most part I’ve always I tended to think that no matter…

Day 21- Villar de Mazarife to Astorga

“More people die annually from suicide than by any other type of violence, including armed conflict.” — The United Nations Health Agency

I guess that song (Suicide is Painless) from the television show MASH, was supposed to be ironic. Sure, in the end, we all die alone indeed feeling no pain. The pain, of course, is felt by those who love us.

Read further, and you’ll discover a few insights into suicide and one way to deal with someones suicidal tendencies.

Some say suicide is a selfish act. If you think about it though, those that think suicide is a…

Day 8- Logrono to Ventosa

What is grace and what the hell does it have to do with anything? Grace is one thing I learned about on the Camino. Webster’s says it’s: “Unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification. A virtue coming from God. A state of sanctification enjoyed through divine assistance. Ease and suppleness. The quality or state of being considerate or thoughtful”.

I think I stumbled upon grace, or at least recognized it as such, when I took out my iPod. As usual, the headphones looked like Bob Marley’s hair after getting caught in a hurricane.

But for some…

Day One - The Pyrenees. St Jean to Roncesvalles.

To this day I really can’t say exactly how I ended up stumbling across Spain on the Camino de Santiago. I guess in part it was due to a broken heart. I had been dumped by the woman I had fallen in love with after getting out of a 23 year marriage that in the end had become abusive.

Walk with me for a few minutes and find out what neuroscience can tell us about why getting dumped can turn you into a quivering mess of flesh and tears.

Back to how I came to find myself on the Camino…

Mark Daniel West

Unpacking the shit-bag of chaos that was my life and passing on what I've learned. It all started when I walked across Spain on the Camino de Santiago…

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