A New Month

Yup, Phil’s Camino. You’ve come to the right place.

I’m at the hospital and have been spending time talking with a fellow patient in the next chair over instead of writing my blog. Jeeez we got to BS’ing. Both of us Marine vets so that is a whole world.

Last evening Kelly, my Camino walking partner, and I went to a send off party for two ladies on their way to Spain to walk the trail. It is always fun to hang out with Camino people even ones to be. After doing the trek with Kelly in the summer months I thought that September 1st would be the perfect time to start to escape the crowds and the heat. But you know every season has it’s special call.

It is fun this harvest time that we are in. People trade stuff because we all seem to have too much of a few things. Corn for plums, plums for tomatoes, tomatoes for corn. And hunting season is coming to add to that mix. Organic meat will be on the menu.

So, will finish up my treatment here in a moment and be on the road back to the Island. There is still lots of fresh air and sunshine to catch today. Always good to hang with you, loves, Felipe.

The Four Companãras

Annie and I and Dali back along the trail.

Here we are blogging while under the influence of chemotherapy. Well, under the influence of steroids more specifically and it’s 2 in the morning and am wide awake. I have an hour or two now to write and be with you. Having apple cinnamon tea with blackberry honey to help while away the time. This is what Jerome K. Jerome wrote on my teabag, “It is impossible to enjoy idling throughly unless one has plenty of work to do.”

I don’t know what category we are in on that account but I am here to talk about four very inspiring women who I light a candle for every Sunday. That is such a nice little practice and to say a prayer too of course. It is a visual prayer mostly with the little flame shining. To back up a little bit we have been blogging about labyrinths the last two sessions and we could segue nicely into today’s if we would view these four women’s efforts walks on the crooked course of a labyrinth, their personal labyrinth. They would be four different but similar labyrinths each as unique as the Four Companãras are.

My goal here is to encourage them to continue on one day at a time. What they are doing is so important and so under appreciated that I am here to help. They are bigger than life stories from four bigger than life women but we all need buoying up.

I am going to attempt to write a paragraph about each. I am sure that you know people with similar energy and goals where you are but these are mine to cherish. Let me start with a story of early Seattle. Way back when during the Yukon gold rush there was a nun that traveled around with a burro and begged money from the miners. Her goal was to build a hospital for them, for all of us. I just drove by it yesterday and that is Providence Hospital in West Seattle still there and running.

So, my first companãra is Suzanne who we joke together about the idea that all she needs is a burro to accompany her on her fundraising tours to really “strike paydirt”. She is a nurse by day tending to characters such as myself and by night she is doing her other work of building a facility the likes of which is rare in these parts these days. She has been nursing many dying children and there is no place for them to make this passage comfortably. Now it happens at home which many times is woefully bad because the family is usually drained of energy and resources by then and it lacks the technology and care that a hospital could give. And then there is the hospital that lacks the whole important warmth and familiarity of home and all that brings. What is needed is something halfway between that can bring the best of both worlds simultaneously. Read about her idea at their website: www.ladybughouse.org .

Allison, I have never met although her brother is one of my best friends and I get snippets of news from him about her in Pittsburgh. She has a studio where she works as a sculptor. Mostly this is welding and grinding to create. Remember Pittsburgh is a steel town. The twist is that she brings in vets with problems to help them work on their own projects. Her personal labyrinth is to build a facility worthy of that. We don’t have her contact info but we know where to ask.

Third is the latest that I have added to this list and she is Kim from Marin County, CA. Kim knows a lot about gardening and combines that with new technology and new ways of thinking about it and new ways to get people together. One of her projects which I just heard of lately is the putting together gardens where prison inmates can work in the soil. I know that this sounds like it has been done before but she is bringing it back as a therapy rather than forced hardship. Kim will be here on Tuesday at 4 PM to walk Phil’s Camino if you would like to met her. I will find out more then.

And last is Annie the Producer/Director of Phil’s Camino the documentary film. It is about me but it is about all of us. It is about us as Camino people and cancer people and people who view life in a Christian manner. It has been such a success in the sense of all the countless of folks that it has inspired in it’s three years of existence. And now Annie has created the hour long version with the title Phil’s Camino, So Far So Good. And it has been a labyrinth for her to be sure. There have been fat times and lean times on all sorts of levels and categories. But Annie has tremendous energy, smarts and drive and trough plain hard work, smiles and perseverance this train is going down the tracks. She can be found at: www.philscamino.com . Kudos Annie.

So, life goes on but quality of life really hinges on efforts as these coming to fruition making life better for all of us. Thanks my companãras. Your inspiration is my inspiration. Your effort is our effort.

Making it better loves, middle of the night Felipe.

Maybe There Is More

Felipe tractoring at the ranch. I named her Juliet.
Dana, Felipe, Catherine and Janet.

That was kind of a fun blogpost yesterday working on walking a labyrinth. It looks so simple, a labyrinth but it is really ingenious. It is striped down like a good poem is essence.

I’ll have to talk to our art historian Catalina and get some reading material about the topic lined up for the long dark winter ahead. Must be stuff on the history, locations, different designs. The artist engineer in me wants to work on a new design. Always room for the new, right?

Annie was here in the spring and we went down to Olympia, WA to St Michael’s for a showing of Phil’s Camino and to do our usual fantastic QandA. There at the St Michael’s campus is an outdoor labyrinth that is very neat and tidy. I had some time in between things so I did the walk. I had a vision where the flat labyrinth changed into a mountain and I was walking around the mountain on the trail and working my way upward to the center at the mountaintop. The tight 180 degree turns of the flat labyrinth changed into switchbacks on the mountainside. That makes total sense, right? Can you see it?

I wonder if there is such a thing as one that is big enough to say a rosary while walking. That would be good to figure out. I like the idea of that where the walker has something to do, to concentrate on, rather than just plain checking his progress continually which can drive one crazy.

Maybe I will find some paper here and work on a different design while I am thethered to my chemo. Lunchtime now though. I think I will investigate the cantina here on this floor. OK, all good once again, alperfect really.

Walking along loves, Felipe.

The Bodacious View Of The Labyrinth

The Bodacious has arrived!

It’s here! The Bodacious sweet corn is ripe. This is high summer right here. The time that we dream about all the rest of the year. Or in other words it just doesn’t get any better than this.

A minute ago I was reading an article about labyrinths on FaceBook and that was from aleteia.org. It was quite good. It stated that there were 3,800 is the US. That is amazing. And there is something called Labyrinth Locator for a guy to Goggle when one was needed. Yea.

But what are you getting at here Felipe? Well, I was just remembering my impressions of labyrinth walking and I am a newcomer at this so no expert. For years I shied away from them thinking they were maze like. Which they are not! There are no dead ends nor any decisions to be made. Well, there is one basic foundational decision and that is a pledge to keep the faith throughout.

To walk this means ultimately to arrive at the center or to arrive at your destination or to arrive at God. But the going, the doing of it, is not a regular progression. Sometimes it seems so easy as you progress nicely and then sometimes you are as far away from the goal as when you started. It can be disheartening at times. What is needed is a faith in the whole process, that if I just keep going I will arrive no matter what.

So, part of the year we are eating Bodacious and warming our relaxed bodies in the sun. It is easy and fun and we are generous and smiling. And then there are times when it has been raining for a month. Times when the ability to pick fresh vegetable seems a dream. Times when our bodies are all crunched up from fight the cold. Times when it all seems to be working against “our plan”. Times when life seems so dormant. But the year goes around and we move forward through the thick and the thin of it, our own personal labyrinth. That’s what I am getting at.

Ah, time to go. I have a favor to do for a neighbor. See you later. Bodacious loves, what else, Felipe.

Yes, Monday

Flax flower from William in Calgary.
Talking around the tapas table yesterday before the walk.
Janet slinging arrows in the pasture.

Here I am with just about an hour for you before the morning walk. It is cloudy and cool this morning, good walking weather. Yea, and the smoke is minimal. We had eight pilgrims yesterday for the afternoon walk. It is hard to talk to them all really but I invited them back so maybe we will see them again. And sent everyone off with two ears of sweet corn.

This is the high point of the year for us right now as harvest time is historically. It is a blessing to experience it firsthand this year and it is a blessing in the long run to live a life close to the land and it’s cycles. There is something comforting about being in tune with it.

We are just about done with eating the early corn, the Sugar Buns. It is starting to taste starchy so time to save that for drying and move on to the next variety. The Bodacious is next which is a sure favorite of mine. Oh boy!

This is Janet’s last day here and she will be traveling back South. I do hope that she doesn’t come down with a cold or something from being out of the warm so long. We have been shooting bows and arrows everyday which has been fun. One more session today, looking forward to it.

Well nothing major is going to happen here at the blog today. Some days are like that. They are not all equal. Maybe we are transitioning from the Radical Remissions book talk to whatever is next. That has been good though and am sure that we will pop back to it occasionally. It has left a big impression on me and continues to give me food for thought.

This is my hospital week this week. Ah, back again to it on Wednesday and Friday. I am so fortunate to have good friends there so I look forward to going halfway anyway. Otherwise it would be a major chore.

OK, time to find my shoes and logbook. St James calls me to the walk. Hope that your day is successful. As always loves, Felipe.

From Our Cris

A Vashon church for Sunday.

Cris our South American Bureau Chief just checked in with a comment that we will gladly discuss here today. I was wondering what I was going to blog about today and violá. This material, the book material, is so rich that it seems to spawn more and more for us. It is a font.

So Cris wrote that she was just feeling a sense of well-being from just completing a mission to help others. There was a need and she stepped in to cover that for someone. And her thought was that so often this act comes back to enrich us the giver. That maybe in this we the giver are the “victim” that needs the help.

To be more specific in terms of someone that has cancer if they were able to get outside themselves and their own concerns to participate in this give and take it would be healing. It could be placed in at least three os of the nine factors that we have been covering. But that is really neither here nor there, not important really. What is important is establishing connections and
getting away from isolation.

For me finding the Camino and joining in that social “give and take” gave me that connection and focus that we are talking about. And there is no end to it really, as it just keeps on giving. How lucky I am, how lucky we are.

We are walking today later at 4. There are some folks from out of town to join us, new folks. Janet, a veteran, is here also for a few days. So, the camaraderie continues. Come by when you get a chance. Miss you loves, Felipe.

A Family Of Flickers

A Northern Flicker pic for you.

I was just driving out the driveway this morning and I disturbed a bunch of those flicker birds. They are common here but somehow seeing a group of them caught my attention. Just a random occurance.

There are a few more things to say about the book that we have been working on and then I wouldn’t mind getting back to my random self and my random blog again. It has been quite disciplined for me to spend a couple of weeks on any one thing as I have.

A factor that didn’t come up in the nine commonalities was one that has meant so much to me and that is exercise. There might be a way to explain it away. The author tried to do that in the wrapup section of the book. But never the less it is being included and acknowledged here and now.

The author also had a paragraph in the wrap up section on the topic of the difference between healing and curing which I really think could be a book by itself. This was an important concept for me to learn about way back when and we have talked about quite a bit already.

Nancy a local friend of mine left a link for me to an article about the Amish people and how their simpliar lifestyle contributes to their overall health. It mirrors the nine factors that we have been batting around here. I don’t seem to be able to set up the hot link for you at the moment but I will get it out to you soon.

Off to my Saturday. Thanks for stopping by. Miss you. Love you, Felipe.


The bride showing off the corn at Raven Ranch.

Hopefully we have shook out some new ideas and ways of thinking in the last two weeks as we worked on Radical Remissions. I think that the book is revolutionary and there is no reason why it won’t foster all kinds of aftershocks. As has been said, knowledge is power.

Maybe we have to be careful to interpret the findings in the right manner. That is important. There could be a next book on a way to look at the information covered. One thing that jumps out at me is how in any one individual’s case how factors would interact or support each other. None really occur in isolation from the others.

And again, these basic nine ingredients would work if you were talking about having a healthier lifestyle or getting in balance. They just are very good pointers or guidelines. Hopefully a person doesn’t have to have cancer to understand the benefits. Or I don’t think it is a stretch to say that the lack of the presence of these factors could be the cause of cancer.

Just for an exercise take the nine factors and change them to their opposites. Just for giggles let’s do that here now. As I look at these I can see easily that there could be a few or more possible answers to each but I will just pick one that might be common.

1. Eating what is convenient.

2. Trusting my health to others.

3. Not trusting gut feelings.

4. Not concerned with diet beyond taste.

5. Holding in emotions.

6. Dwelling in the negative.

7. Living in isolation.

8. Having no spirit.

9. Life appears pointless and random.

Boy, that is a scary stew there. It seems more powerful in the negative than I would have imagined. Seems like a nightmare.

OK, let’s shake that off, it was just an exercise. The clouds have broken up and the sun is out. Time to go. See you tomorrow, love, Felipe.

At Last

Pic that Kelly took on the Camino. It is my favorite of his.

Yes, at last we are down to number nine on our list. This one is Taking Control Of Your Health. Again I put this in my personal last catagory with the others that I thought that I needed the most help with or maybe needed the most improvement.

Through this entire journey with my cancer I have always disliked the word or designation “patient”. It sort of gives you the image of a passive being that just takes in. Like a stump could be a patient. We are more than that right? Maybe that is what this factor is getting at.

From the examples in the book I get the impression that some folks do a lot of research and map out plans for themselves that prove successful. Success in this case being getting cured of their malady and therefore having more years of life.

Well, as for me so far I have been closely relying on my conventional treatment which has done so much for me. Having stage four cancer and prolonging that for five years now is proof that my treatment is effective although I am not “cured”. I do credit my conventional treatment with a lot of that but I feel not all for I have been able to do this for so long and beyond the normal range of things. Some of it comes from me and what I have been able to add.

I used to say that my cancer is very lazy but now I say well maybe I am just not giving it fertile ground to grow in. There is a slight difference or a big difference maybe in the sense of me being more involved in the process. So I think that is where we are going with this factor, that the patient has to be more than the patient. That it takes effort and imagination to navigate a successful journey through this maze.

Well OK, I am walking in a moment. It is such a cool morning, a change from the hot smokey days of the last few weeks. Thanks, Love, Felipe.

Yes But No

From William our Canadian Bureau Chief.

Well, this was to be the day to do number nine of the nine factors. But I have a mountain of comments to answer and Steve-O is here visiting. So, I think that I will just take a break and continue on tomorrow. Thanks for being here. Love, Felipe.