Stephanie Dale with her new book ‘A Pilgrim’s Heart’.
Stephanie Dale with her new book ‘A Pilgrim’s Heart’.

A journey of the heart and soul

With ‘middle age’ approaching fast Stephanie Dale knew she no longer wanted to be tied to a nine-to-five job and a mortgage.

As an award-winning journalist and single mother to two adult children, Stephanie had always dreamt of writing a book.

So five years ago she sold her house, her furniture, her car, everything to have the freedom to write and travel.

“I had to sell everything so that I could have the time and space to write,” Stephanie said.

“I had always had a travelling spirit, but raising two children alone from birth prevented that from happening.

“Selling everything was never a scary proposition, what was scary was paying off a mortgage and living in an empty house for the rest of my life.”

In 2007 Stephanie married for the first time and she her Dutch husband lived at Wilsons Creek.

“I wanted to be married before I was 50, but it turned out that I was married and divorced before I was 50,” Stephanie said.

“There was difficulty in the marriage, communication was a problem and I just wasn’t prepared.

“It was a collision between two human beings who married quickly and did their best to deal with the fallout.”

Meanwhile Stephanie’s son Ben was embarking on a walking pilgrimage from Canterbury in England to Jerusalem.

By August 2007, Ben had reached Rome and Stephanie felt compelled to join him.

She left her ‘troubled’ marriage and met Ben in Rome and so began a three-month pilgrimage through Italy, the Balkans, Turkey and the Middle East.

It was during the trip that Stephanie had time to reflect and explore the dynamics of marriage and to find her ‘own stories’ in a land far from home.

The resulting journey is Stephanie’s new book ‘My Pilgrim’s Heart’.

“The book is about a women’s relationship with the world, with her husband, with her adult children and with men of the east,” Stephanie said.

“It’s not just about my geographical journey, but my inner journey of finding my place in the world as a woman, a wife and mother.”

 Stephanie blogged her geographical journey and kept a personal diary and on returning home to the North Coast she set about writing her book.

“I thought it would take me six weeks,” Stephanie laughed.

“But, it took me a year.”

“The writing helped clarify everything for me including the end of my marriage.”

Stephanie said she was very proud of her book and was pleased it was finally finished.

“When I look at the book I feel calm. I’m not wishing that I could travel, or wishing that I could write a book.

“I’m happy and content and I am thankful for my marriage for without it I would not know so much about myself.

“My marriage was a rite of passage and in the end we let each other go in peace.”

‘My Pilgrim’s Heart’ was launched in Brunswick Heads recently by the director of the Byron Bay Writers Festival Jeni Caffin.

The book is available at local book stores.

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