Bill, Brand New Cancer Commando

Bill's graduation pic.  That's Maizie, one of his Rhodesian Ridgebacks.
Bill’s graduation pic. That’s Maizie, one of his Rhodesian Ridgebacks.

Bill, one of my regulars here at Phil’s Camino graduated with full honors today. This is the next level above Cancer Camper and requires a certain new awareness and new level of gratitude. Cancer it seems does it’s best to squeeze the best out of us if we can handle the process.

It’s been a long time since we have talked about this stuff so maybe I need to back up a little. A Cancer Camper is someone who has gone beyond a Cancer Patient. This person has found the place where he is dealing well with all the blows that come at one from the disease and the treatment of the disease and the fear of the disease. I like to think of the kid half way through the week at summer camp, he is sunburnt and insect bit but having a great time overall.

To move beyond that requires a realization that you owe your upbringing, support system and God a thank you for your resilience. You realize that you are in a special position and you see that what you know and are now able to do could be very helpful to others. You have achieved a certain level of empathy giving you the gift of being able to relate to all kinds of folks in all sorts of situations. You are ready to go out.

Bill got there today. I am so glad for him. It is not a coincidence that he has a major scan tomorrow and after six months since the last. These turn out to be some of the toughest times for us. But somehow Bill has been able to harness this stress and turn it into a level change and I am happy for him.

So that’s how it is today at Phil’s Camino. Hope you all are doing well. Talk to you soon, love, Felipe.x

“Follow that Arrow”

Hot off the presses!
Hot off the presses!

That is the title of Gwen Van Velsor’s new book with the subtitle “Notes on Getting Here from There”. I am going to write a review on Amazon for it in a moment so I thought being here would help organize my thoughts.

It’s a book about the Camino as you probably already guessed. And it’s a good book about the Camino. It reads like a novel, easy going. But the story isn’t easy going with a lot of inner working going on from beginning to end. It is a very personal account of the that basic Camino phenomenon where you think you are doing the Camino but really the Camino is doing you.

Just think back to maybe a year ago when there was a fundraiser in Breckenridge,CO for our documentary. It was at the Speakeasy Theatre with our friend Karin Litzmann. And next to the theatre was the Yellow Arrow Cafe owned by, guess who, Gwen Van Velsor. She had a special coffee made, “Phil’s Pilgrim Brew”. So, that’s where we know Gwen from. And since then she has gone on to write and now is promoting “Follow that Arrow”. Best of luck Gwen, Buen Camino!

Speaking of that, just heard this morning that my oldest friend Jim and his lovely wife Gloria will be hiking west from Burgos in a few days. Man, out on the Meseta following those arrows. Buen Camino to them!

Alright, that all I can do for now. Let’s take life in bite sized pieces, shall we. Here we go, love, Felipe.x

Monday Night

You think!?
You think!?

I know it’s Tuesday morn but need to report on last evening. My Rebecca had the idea to have Wiley and Hanna over every Monday for dinner. Well, tapas and dinner. It is brilliant really, like Monday Night Football brilliant. It is that extra five percent that can be squeezed out of the weekend that you are able to harvest, the last sweet glow.

It was so pretty yesterday and it went right on till dark. The mosquitos got a little thick but all the same. All the same it was a day that stopped everyone in there tracks around here, something to be thankful for.

Besides I was able to grab Hanna to help me on my iPad. She seems to be able to navigate so swiftly through things where I feel like I have eight left feet. Thank you Hanna.

Then Wiley had in the last week heard about the apparition of Mother Mary in Guadeloupe, Mexico and was all enthused by the story. And it is a huge story. I am searching for maybe a DVD on the story for us to watch.

Well, a nice memory to savor, our Monday evening. The best to you, Love, Felipe.

It Is The Most Perfect Day


Right here, right now, it is the most perfect day. It is the day that we dream about for three quarters of the year. I think that I will skip all the words today and just be here.

Algood, alperfect, pass the sun screen, love, Felipe.

Where In The Heck Are We Felipe? 6/27/16

Walk like you own it!
Walk like you own it!

I was supposed to have done this update yesterday but here I am on Monday. The trail here at Phil’s Camino is just beautiful these days. Come and walk with us. Catherine and Dana were here this morning. So at this point we are about five km from Leon, the big city. Kelly always joked in Spain about the answer to the question, how far is …?, was always five km no matter what.

So we are walking at least at these regular times:

Monday 0900-1000
Tuesday 1600-1700
Thursday 0900-1000
Sunday 1600-1700

The bugs aren’t bad, no poisonous snakes, hasn’t been a cougar sighting recently, love, Felipe.

Annie’s Fim Update 6/27/16

Phil, Salvador and Annie!
Phil, Salvador and Annie!

Hey all you Caminoheads! Thank you once again for all your love, support, and prayers. I have much good news to share with you and yet my heart is heavy just now learning of Our Jennifer’s passing. I know that she is rejoicing in the greater-yet-to-be portion of her life, and I must turn my thoughts to what she has gained, not what we have lost, or feel like we have lost. Spirit is eternal, and she will forever be the brave and intrepid cancer commando, her smile lighting up the treatment room, her laughter echoing through the halls. And yes, she does have a lovely cameo in Phil’s Camino, and I will thin of her with that red hat, that spot of right color being carried so nobly as she walked and talked, walked and thought, walked and allowed tears to flow, walked and laughed, all the time next to Felipe, being guided, held up, jostled by, and in all manner just plain walking with him. I am blessed that our paths crossed, even so briefly.

Phil’s Camino won the Audience Favorite Award at SFDocs, and just yesterday the same (Audience Favorite) at Palm Springs ShortsFest. Wow! Phil joined me at the San Francisco festival, along with Fr. Tom, official padre of Phil’s Camino. I wanted to be in Palm Springs, but could not be there because we were also in the Nantucket Film Festival and AFI. Jessica Lewis and Todd Pinckney showed up and represented, on their way to another adventure, in these last weeks before getting married. Oh yes, did you all know that? Phil’s Camino has a love story! Jessica and Todd knew each other a little bit, but working together in Spain they fell in love and will be getting married in late July. Nice!

I am writing this from Washington, DC where I have been at the highly respected AFI Film Festival. It has been amazing, with an incredible group of films, and wonderful filmmakers to meet. The biggest treat was that I was invited to the Filmmakers Summit at the White House on Thursday. I was honored to go to the White House and talk about Phil’s Camino, our little film that could, and the man himself, Phil. Amazing.

The upcoming events for Phil’s Camino are the Rhode Island Film Festival, called Flickers, in early/mid August. I will also be in Orange County in CA at the Santiago de Compostela Church in Lake Forest, on July 9. This is a fundraiser, so please spread the word far and wide! We are putting together some very special surprises for folks who come, so please try and make it if you are anywhere in the vicinity! More details on this next week — stay tuned! There will probably be another fundraiser later in July as well. Again, stay tuned!

That is all for now, dear Caminoheads. Please don’t hesitate to ask me any questions either here or at [email protected]

I love that we are walking together.

Annie O Neil
Producer/Director: Phil’s Camino

Co-producer and Pilgrim: Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago

Author: Everyday Camino with Annie


Father Marc’s Last Day

Well, not his last day but his last day here on the Rock, on Vashon being our priest. I think it will be seven years for him. And I think that I have been there three years with him. The high point was when he came over to bless Phil’s Camino way back when. Thank you Father Marc, you were a part of it all here at this outpost.

I’m pretty deep in the fog of of my chemo weekend. I expect it to be bad and here it is. Partly it is the side effect of the chemicals and partly this time

The best existing pic of the flower growing along the freeway.  Thinking of you Jennifer.
The best existing pic of the flower growing along the freeway. Thinking of you Jennifer.
it is the aftermath of Jennifer’s death. I got it all wrapped together here at once. Your prayers of peace for us would be welcome.

OK, time to tidy up and get off to church. Hoping for swimmingly, although giddy would due just fine. Love you all, Felipe.

A Western Tananger

Western Tanager.
Western Tanager.

Yea, a male bird sat on our lilac bush just outside the kitchen table. These are very pretty and maybe more so because they are rare here. Always refreshing to look upon beauty. And a break from other things.

The best to you, talk with you soon, love, Felipe.

Pilgrim On

Tree hugging with Jennifer.
Tree hugging with Jennifer.

Pilgrim’s Prayer / Codex Calixtinus – 12th Century

God, You called your servant Abraham from Ur in Chaldea,
watching over him in all his wanderings,
and guided the Hebrew people as they crossed the desert.

Guard these your children who, for love of your Name, make a pilgrimage to Compostela.
Be their companion on the way,
their guide at the crossroads,
their strength in weariness,
their defense in dangers,
their shelter on the path,
their shade in the heat,
their light in darkness,
their comfort in discouragement,
and the firmness of their intentions,
that through your guidance they may arrive safely at the end of their journey
and, enriched with grace and virtue,
may return to their homes filled with salutary and lasting joy.

(Let All Who Are Thirsty Come Blog)

May she have salutary and lasting joy! Our hearts and minds are with Jennifer these days. She was with us here for a little over a year. She walked the trail as long as she could, Phil’s Camino – the trail. She has a cameo in Phil’s Camino – the film as she walks the trail. She was my chemo buddy for numerous visits to Swedish Cancer Institute. We had fun with that attacking the gloom with Cancer Commando bravery and elan. Yup.

Well, what to say. The only thing that makes sense to me at the moment is that we have a flower growing out of a pile of refuse in Seattle along the freeway wasteland that wouldn’t be there except for the company of our companera, Jennifer. Rest in Peace dear one.

Off to the hospital is coming up on my Camino this morning. Time to shower. Love you guys, Felipe.x