This picture is a scene from the peaceful protest in my hometown of Redwood City.
In my writings in past weeks, I have been focused solely on my walk, and those experiences. Today, I need to say more.
This picture is a scene from the peaceful protest in my hometown of Redwood City.
I don't know the answers, I am here to listen, to learn, and commit to social justice for all. Words won't fix our nation's institutional racism, time certainly hasn't, and I still have hope that there are ways to step up as individuals to be part of long needed, centuries overdue change.
I did actually wear holes in the bottoms of my shoes walking this adventure. Did I still wear them today on a quick jaunt around the block? You betcha! Did it take until today, Sunday the 31st to lace them back on my feet?? You betcha!
Finishing my walk on Thursday, having a birthday dinner with Bridget and Dylan who kindly fed me, gave me beautiful flowers, and returned me home after the 30ish mile finale to my Stay at Home Camino was truly one of the best days of my life.
When the kids were growing up, I would often tell them about the 3 best days of my life, the day I married Neal, the day Dylan was born, and the day Margot was born. All these years later, this remains the core truth of my heart.. Our family was fortunate to have many years of peace, health and love, but some days have to be marked as particularly spectacular.
So, this year, I added a best day to my list, in that space where graduations, engagements, new jobs, live.
I set my intention in late March, and devised a Plan B for walking the Camino Santiago, as travel to Europe was and is not a possibility. Within a mandated 5 mile allowable recreation radius in my county, I started walking on April 1, and, yesterday, May 28, I completed this trek. The Camino Frances Route for the Camino Santiago is 500 miles long, starting in the Pyrenees in France, finishing in Santiago,Spain. The Stay at Home Camino route started in Emerald Hills, California, and circumnavigated my neighborhood, until Thursday, when, with some easing of outdoor exercise travel limits, I was able to walk from home to San Francisco.
I walked to give myself time to check back into my life, and find a way forward. As I have shared, in the past few years, my husband was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, endured treatment after treatment,surgeries, clinical trials, and died at home, with his beloved Dylan and Margot at his side. Neal was larger than life, brilliant, kind, and so damn fun.
And, yes, he could talk to animals.
During his illness, and in the 2 years since, our family has pulled together in every possible way to take care of him and each other. Now, when I was young and had so much to learn, I thought of family as my brothers and sisters, maybe a cousin or three. As Neal and I grew our lives, the idea of family changed. He brought his parents, brothers and their kids into our mix, of course. But then, Neal had his other family, the Ladera Boys, friends since kindergarten in Inglewood, California. And Neal and I, along the way made friends that became our family, too. My dear mom/friend Rita , years ago, pulled me aside, and with love and pride, told me how rich our lives were, with the good people we had around us. Rita has been that person, who loves us, and provides counsel, when needed, and support always, and she tends to be right!
This group of family and friends made it possible for our version of the Gorrin family to keep our heads above water, during and after Neal's illness. And, while walking and walking, I have cried my way through grief, through gratitude, and, literally, passed by the homes of so many of these dear friends who cared for us. Which leads back to gratitude always.
So, this walk in the woods! Might I recommend this type of adventure to anyone reading this? Yes, I might! And do.
Pilgrimages, retreats are ancient rituals, and, while for years I would admire those determined people who would go to a 10 day silent retreat in India, or fast for Ramadan, or climb mountains, I was pretty sure that I wasn't built for such a commitment.
I was wrong. I just needed to find the right retreat for me.
And, I was already there, with everything I needed. If ruby red hiking boots were available in my size, I would be clicking my heels together right about now... " There is no place like home"
Buen Camino my friends.
~ "Life is available only in the present. That is why we should walk in such a way that every step can bring us to the here and the now.
Thich Nhat Hanh
So, this is really what fills my heart! These four beautiful people. When I walk, they walk with me, past, present and future. Who else comes along for a stroll? Scroll down, if you don't mind!
Summers at Mountain Meadow with the mighty flying Duffners!
Representing our dearest friends, 2 of the 4 Tankel/Friedberg clan.
Mary D, Ann and Ruth W in the Highlands
Uncle Jack and all the Adelsteins, always.
One more show, same old tie dye!
My Stay at Home Camino has been my chance to go back and take care of myself. All it took was a pandemic, and its cascading effects. My planned trip had to be delayed, shelter in place mandates restricted personal travel, so what better time to take on the walk of a lifetime?
When I started this walkabout, on April 1, it was springtime, one of the four best seasons here in Northern California, weather was no object. I could leave home at any time, shed coats and hats, carry water or not. As this adventure winds down, the heat is on.
Which means I have to think and plan my hikes. This means water, sunblock, large hats, careful attention to start times, and which trails and roads to take or avoid, depending on sun exposure. It would seem that I have to pretty much "Go Back and take care" of myself. So, yet again, this little walk is taking me all the places that I need to visit.
My afternoon start for today's hike proved to be a tactical error. This Sunday was HOT, and highly unsuited for canine activities other than napping and snacking. This human, however, took off for the hills.
I took a tour of the local Buddhist Monastery, the grounds are open to walkers, with paths meandering through the trees. As one might expect, it was peaceful, serene, and just the right place to be today.
As I walk around my neighborhood, I see all kinds of inspiring signs, these were the two I shot today, This time of year is full of happy events, ceremonies, and this year there are still graduations, and weddings, and babies being born. We are celebrating in different ways in 2020. My family is still waiting for our wedding to happen, Dylan and Bridget have their own Plan B in the works, and I think it is a safe bet that it won't involve walking 500 miles in small circles!
As loyal fans of this blog, you may be wondering if this alternative Camino Santiago will ever end, I assure all 7 or 77of you that it will. I am on track, or path, or trail to finish up on Thursday, and I am going to break out of my 5 mile radius for the first time! ( This might be a good time to mention that this recreational exercise restriction was lifted weeks ago, I just missed the update!)
The ladies! These domestic fowl are much easier to photograph than their wild counterparts. And I can identify the breeds, in the forefront, you are seeing a Barred Rock, directly behind her is an Australorp, and on either side, Araucana hens. What started as a second grade science project for our kids, has become a decades long semi-agrarian family tradition.
My mother in law whose family fled rural Poland ahead of the Nazi occupation, used to shake her head at us, raising chickens in the backyard. Growing up in a small rural village she worked hard to distance herself from the days of living with livestock and the hardships of life in the shtetl. When her beloved grandchildren proudly showed off their flock of hens, she could not believe this level of mishegaas. Ann was not a fan of our little home farm, not the chickens, not the garden, she even used to tell us that there was too much air where we lived. It was a bit like Zsa Zsa Gabor in the 60's TV show, Green Acres, except Beverly Hills was where she'd rather stay! Grandparent visits from Morris and Ann were full of cultural enlightenment for all parties. Margot and Dylan loved to visit them in their very urban home in West LA, where the family could walk to stores, and enjoy Ann's home cooking of gummy worm french toast. To be more clear, the kids loved the gummy worm concoction, and did not have to battle their parents for their fair share.
Yes, the kids are grown and living on their own, and I continue raising hens, growing a garden. I have a steady supply of eggs most of the year, and am about to harvest the first zucchini of the season. Does this make me Eddie Albert??
Buen Camino from Green Acres, CA!!
I started out my walk today, with the intention of taking photos of birds along the way. What I learned is that taking pictures of wild birds is hard to do. They fly, they are fast, and they do not pose. I was able, however, to find some more cooperative subjects, that may or may not qualify as avian!
The wiry pink flamingo is not native to the SF Bay Area, but in recent weeks, many of these birds have been seen in the area around Edgewood Park, typically perched on mailboxes.
This particular example appears to be laying an brightly colored plastic egg. The bronze 94062 quail is quite rare, I found this solo bird on the outskirts of Woodside, it may be in a silent, meditative retreat, or it may be inanimate. Being in its natural habitat, I respected its privacy, and refrained from disturbing the winged creature to ask of its intent.
I will continue my Anne LaMott inspired chapters in this Bird by Bird saga tomorrow.
I am not a writer, but I do read, quite a bit. Over the years, I have read almost every word written by Anne Lamott, and have cherished this passage for over 25 years.....
"“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird"
This is from her book, mainly about writing, called Bird by Bird, and describes how her father, a writer, talks to his son about writing. The simplicity of these words just sits right in my brain.
What this has to do with walking in circles in my neighborhood? When I started this escapade, walking 500 miles seemed ludicrous, and so, I just walked each day, some distance. Mile by mile, I just keep going. I really had no expectations about what could happen, and still am not quite sure how I have gotten so far. What I do know is that with every step, something shifts in me. This time out of the typical routines of life has given me miles of chances to feel, think, and work my heart and head around the past few years of my life. For the first few days, or even weeks, every walk was punctuated with tears, for so many different reasons, and I know that they needed to be shed now, when there is time for me to recognize and feel what I couldn't when all my energy was focused on Neal, and our beautiful children. He always walks with me, and sometimes we still talk as I stroll these familiar roads and paths. But, as the miles have gone by, I find that I spend more time in peace, and quite often joy.
Mile by mile, bird by bird, my heart is healing.
I am a yoga teacher/clinical social worker in the San Francisco Bay area, and I am walking .