Wrap Up

March 30, 2018  /  Naomi McCarthy

A Veil of Wishes culminated in a large scale installation at The Max Weber Library in Blacktown with over 2000 hand made dandelions turned into a glowing testament to the resilience of the human spirit. the accompanying anonymous wishes, presented as a digital artwork overwhelmingly spoke of family, safety and prosperity. The very presence of hundred and hundreds of wishes in the project underscored the proposition that:people are still ....wishing. Hope is alive and so is fun, generosity and a sense of community. The Veil of Wishes stayed up for the summer holidays and librarians and library patrons alike .... still miss its sunny presence. 

Workshop Wonderland

October 22, 2017  /  Naomi McCarthy

This project has developed a little differently than we planned - instead of sending Dandelion making kits out to community groups for them to contribute their dandelions and wishes to the final artwork - we have been drawn into running workshops in a range of community spaces. Whilst making life a little squeezy, as we both work fulltime, this new development has also brought its joys and surprises. I have so far delivered two outreach workshops, one each for a Bhutanese and a Chinese friendship group. As most people in these groups don't speak English and I speak only English, the gathering of wishes, of necessity, has been facilitated by someone from each group who speaks and writes both languages. Curiously the gathered wishes were culturally coherent, and apart from the odd moment of irreverent humour the wishes from each group were analogous to each other within the cohort. By the time we collect 2000 wishes, it will be interesting to see just how coloured by culture our wishes are and also as the project develops to see if we can encourage people to offer their secret wishes unmediated by community expectations…   

The making of these lovely little golden orbs is bringing joy and connection wherever they are made. They are gathering in numbers ready to unite in our 'Veil of Wishes' at Blacktown Art Centre, December 2017.

And so it begins...

June 04, 2017  /  Naomi McCarthy

We collected hundreds of handmade dandelions and an almost equal number of wishes at our first Dandelion event at Blacktown's Medieval Fayre. Children were willing and enthusiastic to not only make and contribute a dandelion to the Veil of Wishes artwork, but were also  full on enthusiasm to write down their wish, and hand it over carefully folded with the wish safely inside. Curiously, adults in this instance  were much more reticent to contribute a wish, they would make a flower and help and encourage their children, but, writing a wish for themselves evoked bashful resistance. One wonders on the multiple reasons why this may be so and rather than jump to conclusions we will  be wrapping our thoughts around this phenomenon ... watch out for the next step in the project development ....

Pat Parker Memorial residency- Veil of Wishes.  

March 2017

Naomi McCarthy, as part of creative collective Dandelion Projects collaborated on making an public artwork for The Pat Parker Memorial Residency - the Veil of Wishes project which invited people to contribute their personal wishes and a tissue paper dandelion to a major public art installation. 

Pop-Up Truth and Dare

30 December 2013 – 2 January 2014: Pop-Up Truth and Dare took place at the Lost Paradise Festival and was the first iteration of Truth and Dare on the Dual Camino. Set within the beauty of Glenworth Valley, Truths and dares posed by the seven animateurs from our inaugural project have been specifically chosen to instigate fun and interaction among festival goers.

Truth and dare on the Camino 

Truth and Dare Animateurs*

Shaun Tan - writer and artist, Kate Mitchell - artist, Kendal Murray - artist, Phil Beadle - writer and educator, Rita Golden Gelman - writer and traveller  

Nick Earls - writer, Lloyd Niccol - project manager 

Project Outline: 

For Truth and Dare on the Dual Caminos, seven animateurs were enlisted to offer seven truths, seven dares and one double dare to be enacted by two pilgrims, one walking a Camino in daily life in Australia and one walking the Camino Frances to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.  Enlisting seven different animateurs means that every day for seven weeks our two pilgrims are prepared to have their daily lives influenced in unpredictable ways by seven different sensibilities. The proffered Truths and Dares bundled into seven weekly offerings will be unwrapped Monday morning of each week. Both pilgrims are known to have warm personalities and robust senses of humour although one of the pilgrims is by nature more reserved than the other. It remains to be seen how the project will be shaped by the participating individuals, both animateurs and pilgrims alike. Both pilgrims hope that fun and frivolity will sprout from the seeds of the Camino project as well as moments of revelation, pathos and connection; connection that may well be brought about by a willingness to make oneself vulnerable. 

Project Outcomes: 
Blog on Dandelion Projects web site
Further collaborative projects inspired by Truth and Dare on the Dual Caminos.  

Project Background: 
Truth or dare is a game for almost any age but is often most interesting to young people from mid to late primary school, through high school and into the early 20s. It is most engaging when people are still curious about each other in terms of the truth section and when they are testing boundaries and embarrassment levels in the dare section. Adults don't often play this game- maybe we have become less interested and curious about each other and maybe we are not so interested in testing the limits of our bravery in the dare section. Although, there is an on-line game of truth or dare for adults that is popular. Truth and Dare on the Dual Caminos sprouted from a desire to conflate a certain childlike gameness and sense of mischief to the endurance game of life, compressed within a nominated time frame. Seven weeks, seven truth and seven dares became the scaffold for the project.

General Rules of Truth and Dare: 

  1. You need at least two players.
  2. One player is the animateur and offers a choice to the other 'Truth or Dare'.
  3. One player is the subject and selects truth or dare. 
  4. Animateur: if truth is selected they pose a question, often of a personal nature. 
  5. Subject: answers the question (the full truth is sought for here and there may be encouragement to answer the question further if it is suspected that the full truth was not at first revealed). 
  6. If the truth is answered the roles swap.
  7. A subject can if they don't want to answer the truth then request a dare in place of the truth. 
  8. A subject can ask for a dare straight away. The dare should not be illegal, life threatening or harmful to property or people. If the dare is complete roles swap. 
  9. If you do not complete either a dare or a truth you are shamed by being dropped out of the game or a forfeit double dare can be paid. A double dare is a harder more daring dare.
  10. You cannot do more than two truths or two dares in a row. This rule ensures that players cannot simply stick to the area that they are already confident with, for example always choosing dares if they are physically brave.  

*Animateur: a person who enlivens or encourages something, especially a promoter of artistic projects.

Final truth courtesy of Phil beadle. Happy?

November 12, 2014  /  Naomi McCarthy

Abraham Lincoln said, " Most people are as happy as they choose to be."

I say, "Happiness is ephemeral, you can't attain happiness, you can just notice it when it happens."
Here is a day of noticing my happiness.

9:00am Eating breakfast - happy
9:30am Checking travel bookings - flat line
10:00am Walking in the cold and rain down to Hitchin town - very happy, loving the weather
10:30am Getting hair done, pleasantly distracted, then bored
11.30am Walking back from town in wind and rain - very happy
12 - 2pm Watching Tony do travel bookings - OK
2:30pm Arguing about style of accommodation - angry
3:00pm Back down the town in wind and rain for a walk with Tony (abandoning bookings) - very happy
4:00pm Tea and cake at adorable tea shop and gallery in Hitchin with Tony - very happy
5:00pm Walking up Windmill Hill, turning around to see spectacular sunset - extremely happy
6:00pm Dinner with family - happy
7:30pm Calling cousin to cancel plans to meet, plans remade - conflicted and feeling my run instinct kicking in - not happy
8:00pm Dancing at the village hall - shy, conflicted, run instinct on high alert - not happy
9:00pm Sitting with Tony at dancing - settling in and starting to relax, resisting my run instinct, happiness increasing
10:00pm Dancing the Mayfair Quick step with Tony to a tune from River Dance, wondering why everyone else was out of step and laughing ( a little like a crazy woman) for the whole dance - very, very happy
10:00pm - midnight Drinking at The Plume of Feathers pub in Ickleford village - happy
Midnight Bed - happy 

Final truth courtesy of Phil beadle. Happy?

November 12, 2014  /  Naomi McCarthy

Abraham Lincoln said, " Most people are as happy as they choose to be."

I say, "Happiness is ephemeral, you can't attain happiness, you can just notice it when it happens."
Here is a day of noticing my happiness.

9:00am Eating breakfast - happy
9:30am Checking travel bookings - flat line
10:00am Walking in the cold and rain down to Hitchin town - very happy, loving the weather
10:30am Getting hair done, pleasantly distracted, then bored
11.30am Walking back from town in wind and rain - very happy
12 - 2pm Watching Tony do travel bookings - OK
2:30pm Arguing about style of accommodation - angry
3:00pm Back down the town in wind and rain for a walk with Tony (abandoning bookings) - very happy
4:00pm Tea and cake at adorable tea shop and gallery in Hitchin with Tony - very happy
5:00pm Walking up Windmill Hill, turning around to see spectacular sunset - extremely happy
6:00pm Dinner with family - happy
7:30pm Calling cousin to cancel plans to meet, plans remade - conflicted and feeling my run instinct kicking in - not happy
8:00pm Dancing at the village hall - shy, conflicted, run instinct on high alert - not happy
9:00pm Sitting with Tony at dancing - settling in and starting to relax, resisting my run instinct, happiness increasing
10:00pm Dancing the Mayfair Quick step with Tony to a tune from River Dance, wondering why everyone else was out of step and laughing ( a little like a crazy woman) for the whole dance - very, very happy
10:00pm - midnight Drinking at The Plume of Feathers pub in Ickleford village - happy
Midnight Bed - happy 

Finishing the camino in Santiago de Compostela - looking very happy ( back row of this photo) and I was in that moment indeed happy, but I was also conflicted about transitioning out of pilgrim mode back into normal life. The beauty of the camino is the simplicity of the aim, the easy and always available camaraderie, the exposure and immersion in nature, the opportunity to spend six - eight (or more) hours a day under the sky, following the contours of the land moving through the landscape at a very human pace. A calmness descends on you knowing that, it is all a privilege, a gift if you will. Knowing that it is a movable feast and that it too will finish is also important because it makes you take advantage of what is offered, it also allows you to walk away from anyone and anything that you don't like, except yourself. The one constant and inescapable truth - you take yourself with you wherever you go - my best advice about that one is to make friends with yourself, forgive your transgressions and in being generous about your own failings learn to be generous and forgiving to others. Open yourself to life, living it as a participant, be gracious in your attitude to what life offers, not distant and judgemental, which is a 'safe' and cowardly position. My take home lessons from the camino: be brave; be kind; be open to what life offers; be thankful and give praise for the bounty of the world and being given a life to live; it really is a gift. 

Flirt with the most attractive person in the room. Dare courtesy of Phil Beadle

November 10, 2014  /  Naomi McCarthy

After eight weeks on the road (six walking the camino de Santiago solo), I can confidently say, my husband is the most attractive person in the room, last night we went dancing, of which there is no photographic evidence, but I offer this photo of Tony in The Anchor on the River Cam, as proof of his gorgeousness. 

Life in a drawing. Dare courtesy of Lloyd Niccol

November 09, 2014  /  Naomi McCarthy

Lloyd Niccol's dare - put away technology and complete a drawing every two hours.

I loved this dare, it made me step outside my 'everyday' attitude and pay attention to my surroundings . It also made me realise I am a little rusty in the drawing department. Drawing is just like any other discipline, continually using your skills keeps them well oiled and ready to be deployed, letting them sit on a shelf risks atrophy setting in. The great thing is with practice, latent skills can be revived. And just like walking an eight hundred kilometre pilgrimage - the secret is - get up everyday and focus on the thing that you want to progress, the thing that is of value to you. This may indeed be my absolute 'take home' lesson from the camino.

Two dares in one. Courtesy of Kate Mitchell and Nick Earle

November 07, 2014  /  Naomi McCarthy

Kate Mitchell dare - Tell some one you care about then and really say what you mean
Nick Earle's dare - sing a whole verse of a favourite song in a market or on a train

I did these two dares by singing 'You're just too good to be true,' to my husband whilst travelling on the overground train from Kings Cross Station to Hitchin.

Eat a food you have never tried before. Dare courtesy of Kendal Murray

November 05, 2014  /  Naomi McCarthy

Well, I did this dare almost accidentally when I asked for an empanada, (Spanish Pie) at a lovely little deli in Santiago. The delicatessen, spoke to me in Spanish and when I answered "no able Espanol," he said, "oh English," in a very strong London accent, which surprised me and I laughed and replied with, "Oh great, I can speak to you," and he replied again in that surprising Londoner's accent, "Of course you can." Well a conversation blossomed from those few words and I discovered I was about to eat cod and raisin pie, a dish I had never tried which he told me was his mother's favourite. it was indeed delicious and I went back to tell him how much I enjoyed it and he taught me in how to say....I like the cod and raisin pie very much in Spanish,

"Me gusta la empanada de bacalao con pasas"

and indeed I do. When I left Santiago to get a plane to Heathrow in London I went back to say good bye and the delicatessen's mum pressed on me several pieces of fruit for the journey. How quickly new friendships are formed and sharing someone's favourite food is a great kick start to a relationship, a little like laughter being the shortest pathway between two people, enjoying shared food is a short cut to community and friendship. A lovely reminder of these two truisms. 

Sign like a wiggle. Double dare courtesy of Shaun Tan

November 04, 2014  /  Naomi McCarthy

Feeling a bit dull and flat this morning I set out into Santiago to do some 'housekeeping' before flying to London tomorrow. I was starting to feel a little weepy, so pulled out Shaun Tan's dare and gave the wiggles sign to a passing stranger. He baulked, raised his eyebrows, broke step for a split second and gaze me a quizzical look. His obvious surprise tickled my fancy as I could see him trying to work out what I was intending with my wiggle hand action. Wiggles are mega-popular children's entertainers in Australia, I'm not sure if they are popular in Spain, but by my stranger's reaction he sure didn't recognised the hand signal. Just after the Wiggles incident, I bumped into Rory, a fellow pilgrim heading out to walk to Finesterre and his easy laugh when I recounted the story was like a tonic for my melancholy soul. Thanks Shaun Tan for one more whimsical dare that brought lightness to a cloudy day. 

Order a coffee using sounds... Dare courtesy of Shaun Tan

November 03, 2014  /  Naomi McCarthy

Shaun Tan Dare - order a coffee,a double shot latte without using words, use sound effects instead.

My whole camino has been a series of commercial exchanges that rely on body language, pointing, miming, making animal noises to get beef rather than pig. The first half of the camino I only ate what I could point to, after two weeks eating the same 'visible foods' I learnt to ask for fried eggs and chips and if you've ever seen the movie Shirley Valentine, you'll know why I felt like an English tourist. However, ordering the latte using only sound effects proved beyond me. Double dare coming up. 

Write a short story about being a witness to a crime. Dare from Kendal Murray

November 02, 2014  /  Naomi McCarthy

An overheard conversation, in a gallery in Santiago de Compostela

The first time I killed someone I was fifteen. I wanted her money so I slashed her with a knife. I slashed her belly and her back fifty times. I'm good at killing people. If someone wants to become a professional killer, I can teach them but I test them first. It's important to test them, if they don't kill, then I kill them. I've been in jail six times, I never say who hired me to kill people, it's part of my loyalty to take the blame. It's not easy, but it's not hard to kill someone once you have a gun in your hand. Sometimes I work for the government, they want someone to disappear and we make that happen. We tell the police to clear a space, maybe ten minutes, maybe a couple of hours, then we do it, in that space. I'm a professional. There's a lot of research we have to do, it's not emotional, you research the person, make a plan and then you kill them, that's it, it's your job. I've become hard, I can only love my woman, my child and my mother. I can't care about anyone else, it's kill until you get killed. I got into this because my father never gave me any attention, he was always spending time with my cousins. But now I am head of my gang, I'm respected. Maybe I will retire one day, but for now this is how I make money. It's hard where I live to make money, the economic situation is hard. I'm skilled at killing, it's my profession. Once I got fifteen thousand quetzals to kill someone, they were important, that was good money. I don't always get that much, it depends on who the person is and how hard it will be. I have no limits, I will do anything that you pay me to do. That's it.  

Share something from your childhood. Truth courtesy of Rita Golden Gelman

November 01, 2014  /  Naomi McCarthy

Rita Golden Gelman truth - share something from your childhood you've never told anyone.

There is nothing in my childhood that I have been able to keep to myself. I am a talker, and I can't help it, I love talking about myself. I am endlessly fascinated by almost every facet of my emotional life and have had to develop some discipline so as to control my natural urge to indiscriminately over-share. I understand the impetus that makes stand-up comedians ruthlessly mine their own life for comic material. Making people laugh is very seductive, and if I can make people laugh while talking about my own life then I am happy. I am also very happy laughing at myself, which I enjoy doing so much, it makes me look a little unhinged at times - I like that about me. 

Wear a third eye for the day. Dare courtesy of Shaun Tan

October 30, 2014  /  Naomi McCarthy

Shaun tan's dare
Wear a third eye drawn on your forehead for a day.

After several attempts to find a eyeliner in order to draw myself a third eye, I gave up the hunt for a make-up pencil on the camino and accepted Ruth's offer to draw a third eye for me in biro. We had found a reprieve from the heat in a bar with a divine courtyard with dappled shade which made me think of Gerard Manly Hopkins poem, Pied Beauty, and in particular the line, 'Glory be to God for dappled things'. Ruth drew an eye including a detailed iris, working in difficult circumstances, with a tool not suited to the job and a forehead that was hot and slippery with a film of sunblock. I wore my third eye for a day and don't think it brought me any closer to enlightenment but it brought me closer to Ruth and that was a lovely moment on my camino. See photos on Dlions Instagram. 

One day to live. Truth courtesy of Lloyd Niccol

October 29, 2014  /  Naomi McCarthy

If you had one day to live who would you tell and what would you do?

I am finding this question difficult as I have a secret belief that I am immortal. Confronting my own death has always bothered me - as a child I remember crying profusely and when mum asked be what was wrong I told her, "I didn't want to die." She replied with don't worry, when I die I will say good bye to you from heaven and that way you'll know I'll be there waiting for you when you die." My mum had and still has a wonderful way of saying just the right thing when I am suffering from existential angst (although I wouldn't have named it that during childhood). She also has a way of always putting me in the right, bless her, even when I know I am in the wrong. Norman Mailer tells a story to illustrate his mother's absolute loyalty saying that if he went up into a tower and shot people, his mother would say, "what did they do to Norman?" Effectively putting the 'blame' on 'them', he saw this as her weakness. So if it turns out I am not immortal, I am still holding out on that one, I can't confront this question until after my mum dies and she has popped back to say goodbye to me and I know where I am going.




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Make a hat. Dare courtesy Nick Earles

October 28, 2014  /  Naomi McCarthy

Use a page from the local paper to make a hat - wear it in public for an hour.

Fellow pilgrim and engineer Naomi (great name) made me a paper hat from La Voz de Galicia. I wore it for an hour (feeling foolish) while Madrid played Barcelona on the TV in a bar in Alburgue Buente. Once again, no one else in the bar cared or objected, although I did see a few eyes looking, very briefly at my fine hat but making no comment. We really have so much more liberty than we think we do, to act and look however we fancy. Although I am sure people connected to us may be more discerning, strangers care not one jot. It is our own self- consciousness that traps us, perhaps by the end of the camino I'll be brave enough or crazy enough to get that Mohawk that Phil Beadle has offered as a double dare. Time will tell. 





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When you sit still and quite, what are you longing for? Truth courtesy of Kate Mitchell

October 28, 2014  /  Naomi McCarthy

I long for a place to belong, curiously I spend a great deal of my energy on long distance endurance endeavours, where I am in a constant process of leaving, either physically, physiologically or emotionally. Therein lies the tension of my life, the antagonism of which one hopes will create a pearl, like grit in an oyster shell.

Worst behaviour you've ever blamed on alcohol. Truth courtesy of Phil Beadl

October 27, 2014  /  Naomi McCarthy

I have an extensive list of bad behaviours liberated by alcohol, on these behaviours I am going to claim the fifth.

Message in a bottle. Dare courtesy of Lloyd Niccol

October 26, 2014  /  Naomi McCarthy

Lloyd Nicoll's dare - get people to contribute they're thoughts to a Camino journal. Put said journal in a 2L(reuse only) container and pass it on, ensure that this journal gets returned to you.

I have 150 klm of the Camino de Santiago to go and I have begun Lloyd's dare and started a collective camino journal, with these three stimulus questions.
1. What was your reason for walking the Camino de Santiago?
2. Now that you are nearing the end of the camino has your reason changed?
3. What did the camino teach you that was unexpected?

I invite people to contribute to the journal by responding to the stimulus questions and so far everyone has said yes to the invitation and approached the journal writing with gusto. The one exception was an Italian, whom I had a bit  of trouble explaining the collective journal idea to. Instead he told me his story and I wrote it for him. It was a profoundly moving story and I felt humbled that he shared it with me. For all the other contributions I plan not to read them until after the Camino has finished. Rather, I will leave them germinating in the dark and when the time is right I will bring them back out into the light and share them

Spend 24 hours without accessing the internet. Dare courtesy of Kate Mitchell

October 24, 2014  /  Naomi McCarthy

Completed 6pm - 6pm. I didn't think I could do it as my only connection to friends and family  back home in Oz is via the internet. But I survived and when I logged on, at the start of the twenty fifth hour I was presented with 27 emails, 25 of which were junk mail. Ummm, must do something about that when I get home . 


Get someone to lend you something. Dare courtesy of Phil Beadle

October 23, 2014  /  Naomi McCarthy

It was hot walking today and I spotted Anne walking with a sun umbrella and immediately got umbrella envy. Well, come lunch time when I shared my dare but not my umbrella envy, I was offered, can you believe, the loan of an umbrella. Exactly what I had told the universe I wanted about an hour before it materialised. To make the story even more delightful, Eric (the umbrella loaner) and I rigged up a hands free method of keeping the brolly up so that I could walk using my walking sticks and simultaneously enjoy the shade provided by the brolly. That afternoon we ran into Anne, the original source of my umbrella envy, and set her up with the now patented hands-free, brolly set-up with which she was delighted. Once again the camino truth and dare project facilitated a whimsical, maverick, emblematic moment of authentic engagement and synchronicity. 

which ethnicity do you find most/ least attractive physically? Truth courtesy of Phil Beadle

October 22, 2014  /  Naomi McCarthy

Phil Beadle's Truth - which ethnicity do you find most/ least attractive physically.

Well, having been on the Camino de Santiago for a month I would have to say the most attractive ethnicity on said camino is the Italian cyclists who look good arriving and indeed look good leaving. I will be forever grateful to whoever invented the all-in-one Lycra bike outfits. Muy bonito. 

Draw a self portrait holding the pen in your mouth - Dare courtesy of Kendall Murray

October 21, 2014  /  Naomi McCarthy


Once again the Camino served up the perfect opportunity for this dare to take place. The Albergue el Refugio de Jesus already had walls covered in pilgrims drawings and philosophical musings, so it made perfect sense to do my self portrait straight to their walls. See Dlions Instagram or Dandelionprojects Facebook for pictorial evidence.


Interestingly, later the same day I was invited to do a painting to be added to the pilgrims' gallery at Albergue San Miguel. I chose to do another kind of portrait - pilgrims' feet, including my own complete with bruises and band aids. The hospitaleria was delighted and had much joy showing off the painting and sharing the story of my brutalised feet, accompanied by much laughter. The painting brought with it a sense of shared fun and pleasure, an experience that only came about because my new friend Nancy made a promise on my behalf that I would add to the gallery. Thanks Nancy and thanks Kendal for an extended day of creativity, warmth and shared adventure on the camino.






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What advice would you give but never take? Truth courtesy of Kendal Murray

October 20, 2014  /  Naomi McCarthy

I recently gave this advice away - it had been given to me and I believe it was good advice that I didn't want to waste, but I was never going to use it.

If you want people at work to do things for you, you have to make friends with them first. I am polite, respectful, friendly at work, but real friendship is something I value so highly, that it's not something I use to get what I want from my colleagues. Having said that I can see that this advice is very effective. 

Refer to yourself as a goat, dare courtesy of Shaun Tan

October 19, 2014  /  Naomi McCarthy

Shaun Tan's dare: refer to yourself as goat for an entire day, don't use the words I, my or me at all.

I tried this one at dinner, but failed as I was at a table with non English speaking people and it was just confusing to them. The couple of goat references I got out did make me laugh, but I couldn't keep it up. Hence I had to do the double dare of leaving a pebble in my shoe. I am still recovering from the blister - if only I'd been braver with the goat dare I could have saved myself some pain and I would have had a way better story to tell. Let's see how brave I am next week. 

Double dare 2! Courtesy of Shaun Tan

October 18, 2014  /  Naomi McCarthy

Shaun Tan double dare: spend a day with a stone bigger than a pea in your shoe.

Well, the Camino handed me this dare when a stone jumped in my boot all by itself. I lasted 40 minutes, before getting it out and I now have one more blister to add to my family of camino walking blisters.

Have you ever broken a law... Truth courtesy of Nick Earles

October 17, 2014  /  Naomi McCarthy

Nick Earles truth - have you ever broken the law and gotten away with it?
I went through a shop lifting phase when I was a kid, but after the third or fourth effort of knocking off chocolate, I felt so guilty that I returned the Crunchie I had surreptitiously slipped into my pocket, back to the newsagents where I had stolen it from. A process even more nerve wracking than the original theft, and there ended my foray into criminality. 

What makes you feel insecure? Truth courtesy of Lloyd Niccol

October 17, 2014  /  Naomi McCarthy

Lloyd Niccol's truth: In what way do yo feel inadequate, what makes you feel insecure?
Purely social situations can make me feel inadequate, especially group social situations. Without a role, I can feel cast adrift, unsure why I am there, and as I don't drink I have no access to the social greaser of alcohol. I much prefer activity oriented social situations .... Like walking 800klm on the camino de Santiago.

On my camino I have been spending quite a lot of time in bars,  which are effectively group social situations,  there's not a lot else to after laundry and showering. Bars offer a three course 10 euro pilgrims menu every night, coffee is just over one euro, a breakfast tortia is about 3-4 euro and they have a toilet and free wifi. Bars are such an essential part of camino life, I have almost faced down my social anxiety and If I haven well there's always that free wifi to lean on. 

Who in life has most disappointed you? Truth from Phil Beadle

October 15, 2014  /  Naomi McCarthy

Without question, the answer to this question is me. 

Failed Dare from Phil Beadle

October 10, 2014  /  Naomi McCarthy

I failed Phil Beadle's dare to flirt with the least attractive person in the room.

Serendipitously, I was seated across the dinner table from someone who could fit that description and I did pay attention to everything they said, showing interest and asking questions. But I fell far short of flirting - no lingering eye contact, subtle touches of the hair and brushes of the body, no twinkle in the eyes. My position is, that I felt I could intimidate the person who was quite young. I also had my doubts about the ethics of the action - is it OK to flirt with someone you have no interest in? If they are confident in themselves I think it's all a game and no problem, but if they are insecure and desperate for attention I think one should tread carefully. So I have to confess to a failed dare.

Double dare coming up - a Video of me miming at a train station - courtesy Kendal Murray. 

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to lead a cult? Truth from Shaun Tan:

October 09, 2014  /  Naomi McCarthy

I've always thought 'The Cult of Naomi' had quite a nice ring to it. But seriously just imagine the responsibility for all the people in your cult - how daunting having to make the best decisions for all of your slavish followers. Oh, that's right cult leaders make decisions that are in their own best interests. Nope, not a role I want, although I do  like to 'lead', I also like to be 'at large' under the sky, following wherever whim takes me.

Actually on the camino, the pilgrim drill is to follow the yellow arrows marked on the trail -  until you are tired and then book into a pilgrims' accommodation with dorm rooms, bunk beds, a shower block and some simple laundry facilities. People seem to bring only their best and most open, helpful selves on the camino and there's a definite group intelligence at work. The camino is like a concrete example of Jung's collective unconscious, information spreads, help arrives when needed and friendships ebb and flow as the camino determines.

I met a wild-eyed pilgrim yesterday, who had walked a 1300 klm, camino -  and was negotiating his re- entry into city life, with no yellow arrows or pilgrims to follow, and he did rather have the look of the zealot to him. His name was Sebastian and he was very keen to live differently post-camino, I wish him and all others well, who want to live an alternative life, there are indeed many, many ways to get living a life 'right'. I think my view is, just choose for yourself don't think you have to ' follow'. But indeed if you do 'follow' know that, that is a choice in itself.

So if The Cult of Naomi ever takes off, know that I will only accept followers who acknowledge they are choosing to come along for the ride  - which means ultimately they must accept responsibility for their own life. An imperative that I too promise to abide by. 

Create a storyboard - Dare from Kendal Murray

October 08, 2014  /  Naomi McCarthy

Kendal Murray's dare - draw a sequence of images about the first person you meet today in the form of a short story.

See drawing around the edge of my truth and dare list for weeks three. Then times it by however many days it takes you to get to Santiago, which will require, more walking, meeting more friends, more eating, more washing and more sleeping ... until you reach the end of your journey. And as the Irish say, may the road rise up to meet you, may the sun shine on your face and may the wind be always at your back ... And as the Spanish say Buen Camino.

Most Embarrassing moments - truth courtesy Kate Mitchell

October 05, 2014  /  Naomi McCarthy

I ran this question past my fellow peregrinos whom I was sharing dinner with and the following story came from Sheila, a very attractive, elegant, cultured English woman who looked a little like Trinny from Trinny and Suzanna, on TV.

Sheila's embarrassing story:

At her son's wedding in Switzerland, they were at the hotel the afternoon before the wedding and she was sitting on the balcony with pizza and wine welcoming family and guests as they arrived. As the night went on and everyone arrived they went upstairs to the rooms and had to come back downstairs for dinner. There was a lovely bannister on the marble staircase of the Hiram and Sheila who confessed to always loving banisters, threw her leg over and slid down the highly polished railing. Well, it was a stair case with a turn and by the time she hit the curve she had built up so much speed, she'd didn't take the corner well and flew off the bannister onto the marble floor. Blood and a trip to the doctor ensued where she was patched up and the next day the nuptials went ahead.  She was mortified that she could have ruined her sons wedding - however, she didn't spoil the festivities and just think what a great grandma she'll make to any ensuing grandchildren. 

Have you ever wished harm on another person? Truth from Shaun Tan.

October 04, 2014  /  Naomi McCarthy

Absolutely and categorically yes and not only once, but repeatedly, to the same person. Looking back, I think I should have been quicker to blow a raspberry at them and walk away, which is effectively what I eventually did, going back to art school as a mature age student. Actually the raspberry is not necessary, but I do like a bit of irreverent humour - it's a strength and a weakness of mine, I like to entertain. I think it's a mortal sin to bore people and that boring people, especially boring teacher/lecturers should be videoed and made to re-watch themselves for an eternity in purgatory, unless they repent and find a personality, a sense of humour and some awareness of their audience.

After reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, I recognise myself as a romantic, who occasionally drives classicist's to distraction, especially when I want to leap to an incendiary grande finale, rather than build a strong and sensible scaffold for the safe delivery of flammable materials.

Anyways, instead of fantasising about perpetrating a violent crime on my adversaries, I now have a new approach. I wish health, wealth and happiness on the individual with whom I am in conflict, it works like a charm, in all but the worst of circumstances. The worst of circumstances being when there is an imbalance of power and then if you are fantasising about committing violent acts, you must move on. Absolutely and categorically if, after your best efforts at conflict resolution, you are still waking in the night with your hands clenched around the neck of your adversary - make haste and leave the situation. It's not likely you will commit the violent act, although of course some do, jails are full of them. But it is much more likely that you will internalise the rage and eat yourself from the inside out, until you are a hollow shell, or a tortured mess of conflicting emotions as you try to stifle your basic instinct as a human being - to be your self. Go fourth and find a life that fits you and keep the raspberries for eating. 

Superman for a day - A dare by Nick Earles

October 02, 2014  /  Naomi McCarthy

Today I wore  my outer garments inside out for an hour, courtesy of a dare by Nick Earles. Nobody noticed! The real effort was to actually flip them inside out and then head out into public space - after that it was a complete non-event. How wonderfully liberating! 

Lloyd Niccol's, truth - How do you want to be remembered on your deathbed?

October 01, 2014  /  Naomi McCarthy

I want to live my life to the beat of my own drum and be remembered as being kind, generous of spirit and funny along the way. Mostly I want people to remember me as being funny. I am joking- kind of. I think humour is more than being quick with a one liner, I think to be really funny you need compassion, wit and a profound generosity of spirit and you have to actually like people, otherwise humour can be wounding.  Actually I am describing my husband - he is a truly funny man - whilst still being one of nature's gentlemen. When he teases and jokes around with people they soften as though the sun has chosen to shine just for them. Maybe, by the time I die, I will have some of his grace.
Uuuummmm - maybe by the time I die I will have discovered what my particular strengths are and have put then to good use serving mankind .... Whilst being kind and generous and funny. 

Truth, courtesy Phil Beadle: what percentage good or bad are you? Give it a number and justify.

September 28, 2014  /  Naomi McCarthy

I find these truths sooooo hard.  I think it's hard to define in absolute terms what constitutes good and bad. And I especially find it hard to rate the qualities of good and bad in myself and apply a number. I think the goodness or badness of our qualities vary dependent on the situation, what is a great quality in one situation is not so great in another. For example a voice that can be projected to the back of a school auditorium and leads a body of people in a particular direction is fantastic when conducting a sports class. But not so great if used when discussing a personal situation. Indeed knowing how to behave in an appropriate manner is an important indicator of sanity and probably of goodness too. But what about when your actions please nine out of ten people and hurt or frustrate one? Does this then influence your goodness or badness? A pragmatic perspective would be that you did 'good' as you effected the greater number in a positive way, but the one you hurt would tell a different story.

I think intentions matter, if you intended no harm but caused some, where are you on the scale of good and bad? Can a person be fundamentally good or bad and how much does their personal history shape said goodness or badness? And is it then fair to judge them, or indeed judge yourself when you are to a large extent a product of your circumstance. People can and indeed do rise above their circumstance, but it is still an influence, even as something to push against.

Well, as I was in a quandary about this truth, I decided to check in with other pilgrims at a pellegrino dinner. I asked people around the table to rate their own goodness and badness. Jan, a young Dutchman, said in an almost joking tone, "You've asked the right person, I am perfect." When asked to justify this statement he said, "actually maybe I am 85% good, as I want to help villagers in Africa, I don't outsmart people who are not so smart,"  (I think meaning he doesn't take advantage of people.) But then on further reflection he said,  "actually I can be mean to my friends when they push me too hard, perhaps I am 75% good." Curiously, he lost 25% of his goodness in less than five minutes.

Around the table we had ratings of 60% good, 40% bad on two occasions and we also came up with some characteristics of good people: Honesty, friendly to other people, not selfish, thinks of and includes others, has integrity and generosity, gives people the benefit of the doubt. Interestingly, this list is quite 'other' focused. I think there is a valid argument not to live your life for other people, that it is each of our obligations to live our own lives, you can't actually avoid it. But this was not the collective wisdom of the gathered pilgrims, so I continued seeking for the truth the following day on the camino.

The best response came from a fellow Australian, Tony from Melbourne, who at first, thought the question was silly. But after walking a few more kilometres came up with "people are 100% good, but, they occasionally make unhelpful choices." I am offering my fellow countryman's reply for myself. I am fundamentally good, but sometimes I make unhelpful choices, which doesn't diminish my goodness rating, but simply makes me a flawed human being like everyone else. On reflection this is a generous stance, as it means we are all 100% good and all occasionally prone to poor decision making which makes us all reassuringly human and I am sure, easier to live with and definitely more interesting.

PS on a bad day, in a tragic moment of self pity I may rate myself 100% bad - I'm one for cringeworthy moments of grandiosity! It keeps me humble. (Insert cheeky smile here.)

Buen camino. 

Beards, flowers and graces- courtesy of Lloyd Niccol

September 26, 2014  /  Naomi McCarthy

When I opened this week's truth and dares, I was confronted by Lloyd Niccol's dare to find five men with wild beards or unruly hair and thread flowers through said beard or hair. I immediately dismissed this dare as too hard and not one I would do. I am brave to 'do' things myself but not so brave to engage others in the 'doing' with me.

Sharing this thought later in the day with my walking companion Gary, a delightful, thoughtful and generous soul, he took up the role of coach, mentor and advocate. Noticing bearded men and encouraging me to pitch my dare to them. The beards the camino presented for the dare, couldn't be described as unruly, but each bearded man I asked was generous, good natured and joined in the game, happily allowing me to thread flowers through their hair. I chose three flowers to represent the three graces from Greek mythology who were Aphrodite's, the goddess of love and beauty's, three beautiful attendants. There are more than three graces, but the three major ones are beauty, mirth and good cheer and they were said to bring joy to the gods and to men and to inspire artists.

In conversation with Pierre, (bearded man number four) I told him I was initially too shy to do the dare, and he said really, you are shy to do zis? My response, was yes I am brave in the truth section but not so brave in the dares and he said, in France we have a phrase for this, you are all talk, no action.

Well thanks to Gary's gentle but consistent encouragement, today I took up the dare and in the process learnt that the act of threading flowers through men's hair wasn't scary at all, just the thought of it was. The actual doing of the dare was sweet and fun and whimsical and brought beauty, mirth and good cheer to all involved.

Buen camino - a phrase said to and by pilgrims on the camino, it means good journey and today's dare was certainly that.

Truth - courtesy Phil Beadle

September 25, 2014  /  Naomi McCarthy

Do you know where you are? this is not a geographical question.

I am traversing the landscape, following the earth's thrust and delight in itself. Walking away from and towards myself at the same time.

When adrenalin kicks in, in a conflict situation, I have always considered myself a 'flight' person. But this camino is teaching me (through conversations and the subsequent insights I have been having) that maybe I am a stay and fight person. I just do it calmly and rationally (mostly) and always trying to see both sides. One of today's traveling companion's nominated that I might like to change my name to Janus?

Janus is a Roman God who has two faces, one looking to the future and one to the past. He presides over transitions including the beginning and end of wars. He has functions pertaining to birth, transition, conflict and journeys. This seems very apt for my camino. But, as I like my own name, rather than rename myself, I am taking Janus as my metaphoric travelling companion for the journey.

Buen camino.

Embarrassing Pop star I had a crush on as a child - courtesy of Shaun Tan

September 24, 2014  /  Naomi McCarthy

I loved pop star David Cassidy, from the squeaky clean Partridge Family, of television series fame. It was a very chaste affair of the hear which came to an end when I learnt far more about David than my young heart could handle. There was a David Cassidy music book, in my dad's music shop, so I picked it up to find out more about my pop star crush. Only to discover lots of glossy, colour photos of David. Naked. I felt disturbed that he'd posed for the photos and even more disturbed that he must have taken his clothes off in front of other people. My dad always said I was the prude of the family - at that point in my life - he was right. 

A reflection on regrets - courtesy of truth posed by Kendall Murray

September 22, 2014  /  Naomi McCarthy

I have few regrets, I think all the good and all the bad and all the mediocre things we do become the compost of our life. What's the point of regrets, or guilt, or worry really? Having said that, I am not immune to these feelings. I tend to get short term regret, as I move on pretty quickly. I regret things like, not eating at the restaurant I wanted to last night as I was indecisive, then when I made a decision, I couldn't find it! I regret that at times I can hurt people and don't realise it. I regret making a raspberry noise when another pilgrim got on his high horse and told me off because I accidentally shone my torch light in his eyes when I was helping my friends. Actually, I don't regret it, because it gave me enormous insight into how I sometimes annoy other people when I don't take them seriously especially when they are complaining. I tried and tried to take the sting out of the situation which was ridiculously elevated, but failed. Needless to say the conflict was all hot air and ego and amounted to not much at all, but there were several lessons in there for me which I will continue to unpack along the way. 

What I really regret is moments when I've chosen silence rather than honesty, when I've smiled at decisions handed to me that have broken my heart, or maybe just bruised it, I don't think it's that easy to really break a heart. I regret if I've ever caused anyone I love to doubt that I love them, I regret any time I've been wilfully and intentionally mean, I regret if I've ever caused anyone to doubt themselves and I regret all and any unkindness I have dished out. As for people I inadvertently irritate, we'll I'm still pretty much in the raspberry camp on that one. I think intent matters. We'll see if the camino teaches me something different. 

Truth #1 - Do I like myself...

September 17, 2014  /  Naomi McCarthy

My choice for my first  roll of the dice, so to speak, is a Truth from Rita Golden Gelman. Do I like myself and why. I'm finding it a strange question to grapple with. I don't know if I am qualified to answer it. Perhaps I'll be on firmer footing after seven weeks on the road, on foot, with all my possessions on my back. My current thinking is that I see myself reflected in the emotional responses of the people around me. For me a clear marker that I am liked is when people laugh at my jokes - humour being the shortest distance between two people. As to whether I like myself, I'm still finding that tricky to answer. I like my values, I like my sense of humour, I like my ability to see both sides of an argument, I was just about to type that I like that I am tolerant, and realised that being the one dispensing 'tolerance' suggests that I see myself in a position of superiority or maybe authority. Ouch!

OK, here's the answer - I like most of myself - with a few rough edges. This Truth, has promoted my to pledge, that my camino will be about learning genuine acceptance with all the empathy and curiosity that requires.Instead of my usual default position of tolerance which by its nature implies an imbalance of power between the tolerator and the tolerated. To tolerate, maintains a position of emotional distance and at its worst implies moral superiority - not such likeable characteristics - however tolerance can sure be useful in a situation of conflict. Changing from a position of tolerance to acceptance brings with it an element of vulnerability as it creates a more level playing field, a worthy and challenging camino ambition. Wish me luck!