Reality Bites

4 04 2019

Well the blog posts had to take a backseat to an intense 24 hours of tax preparation which was really tedious and is still incomplete.

I actually had a full day off today and all I did was taxes. In some ways it really reminded me of the Camino mindset because last year at this time I basically just split and left my husband to deal with things. Not very nice, not very practical but the Camino was waiting and got priority. But that was last year, which really irked me today.

I’m trying to retrieve that mentality but that’s just not possible off the trail. I wonder if this is why so many people do the Camino over and over. When someone would share that it was their third or even eighth Camino Suzy would say, “You know there’s a group for that…”

It’s also difficult to relate to others who haven’t been on the path. You end up feeling like you’re constantly talking about it and wonder if people are thinking oh jeez here she goes talking about the Camino again. Their eyes glaze over and they shuffle from foot to foot looking for the next exit.

Last night I became overwhelmed by the paperwork and fled to Facebook for a moment and caught some glimpses of my Camino family and it warmed my heart. This little network seems at first so tenuous when you consider how little time we spent with some of them, but the conditions under which we met were so intense that the bonds that formed were incredibly strong. Like fishing line the ties seem almost invisible but the line is secure and we will always be connected.

Jacques for example, I think we really only met him at two albergues but when we reached a town further along where he was working as a hospitalero we came across his Albergue/rest stop. We were greeted as warmly as if we were his family. Kisses and hugs and introductions to his co-workers, just incredible connections formed in short instances.

The other thing I find so interesting is how certain people would enter our zone for a time and then disappear. Some we never connected to again, like the woman I gave a scallop shell to, the guy who was super chatty that we walked with in the rain who told us to find Tomas the mystic. There were people we saw everywhere like the nice young man that had no money and was injured. We will likely never know if he finished. Everyone is on their own pace and schedule and as such sometimes you do t know where they are. I’d love if someone could do a schematic of the various paths we were all on and show me for example how and where we got ahead of the Germans who arrived in Santiago after us. Where did we pass them? Were they in a bar? Did they start late or stay an extra day? It really fascinated me.

I left the paperwork to sneak out to open mic tonight and while I was there reviewed my posts from just about now realizing that one of the great stops was Albergue St. Nicolas. That is where our first core group came together, but interestingly none of them were in Santiago when we were there. One aped way past is so far that we could have never caught him, a couple we met there had already done the last half of the Camino and had just come to do the first part, and of course one had to leave due to foot and then leg issues. Heartbreaking to us.

But then along the way we made new Camino families. More and more connections.At Puente la Reina we met a great big group but only really kept connected with one guy, he hit the Cruz de Ferro before us and we ran into him in Santiago, can’t remember who arrived first. Until recently I didn’t realize he’d known our friend who had to leave as well. So without us knowing a lot of the characters we met also have ties to others we knew. So imagine all of these lines back and forth. Micro filaments that span the globe connecting us all. Think of it! I believe it is like a Gia t dream catcher. Each “wire” has a charge, that comes from the two individuals at either end. So there’s energy coursing across these “wires” but all the wires are crossing and at the intersections where they meet that energy is magnified.

This collective of peregrinos, some considered friends and some maybe just someone who you casually passed with a “Buen Camino” and a nod. Each one of us is a spider on this web we have woven, so when one of us tugs it we all sense the vibration and we can all tap into the current of electricity these connections provide us. I’m so grateful for that.

Si Se Puede

3 04 2019

I meant to work on my blog post for Tuesday last night but I fell behind.

It’s been hard to do this daily! I do nott have the same luxury of hours spent walking clearing my head and the routine of the Camino de Santiago that comes with that.

It’s weird to me because every day on The Way was so different, the conditions so variable yet it seemed more predictable somehow than my daily life here on Nantucket with a daily job.

Maybe it’s because life at home is filled with so many distractions. My mounds of paperwork loom there on the kitchen table encouraging me to take for the couch and hide under the cozy blankets. I’m trying to get better at organizing and funneling through my things.

I’d like to streamline my life to enable myself to find more clarity like you do when you pack for the Camino, but the normal paradigm is so much harder to break when you have the luxury of space and you aren’t carrying your whole life on your back.

My pack turned out to be 18 pounds. That’s was a bit more than the recommended 10% of your body weight, but despite all the weighing and reweighing both literally and figuratively that’s where I ended up.

I think the packing for the Camino is a process that’s almost as important as the walk itself. You force yourself to define what you really need to survive. We are t talking about camping gear or food either, and there are an incredible amount of resources on the Camino, but then there are also things you absolutely cannot buy as well.

I think I did a really good job of estimating my needs. We ended up doing a lot of laundry which was a luxury many pilgrims didn’t partake of , but it gave us comfort and because my walking partner Suzy and I could put our things in one load together it was less costly.

There were only a few times where laundry day left my in my bathing suit and swim shorts huddled shivering under my Costco down blanket waiting for the wash to get done. I never went swimming but was happy to have the suit that day.

I would have left a few things behind, maybe the guide to the edible plants of the Camino, but I carried it there and back even though its owner had said it would be ok to ditch it.

I missed having my favorite shampoo and conditioner the most, and my bar soap became mushy and annoying. I’d lost the mini bottles way back in Espinal and now cannot remember what my replacement was…but it wasn’t adequate and comforts like those are important to have.

My silk liner was one of my favorite items… so warm yet lightweight, a barrier to the bedbugs or “chinches” that we luckily never encountered, probably due to the early timing in the season and cold weather of our trip. It just felt safe getting into my clean little cocoon.

My DKNY puffy jacket was also vital. It was warm and useful as a pillow or when the albergues were drafty and it’s softness was soothing like a favorite blanket. It also squished into a tiny pouch. I also had a Columbia puffy silver lined super warm thermal thin jacket that was a great outer layer. At times I wore double puffies with a Patagonia windbreaker on top.

I didn’t buy too many new items because of cost but I was lucky enough to receive some donations for new Prana hiking pants and a Smartwool wool long sleeve shirt/sweater which I couldn’t have lived without. The pants are really vital as they dry very easily and are light. There were times that my kegs would be drenched by rain. While uncomfortable when wet the pants would even dry on my body pretty quickly.

All the planning and replanning set me up with a pack that contained pretty much what I needed to survive my Camino. Maybe I got lucky with weather and circumstances but I felt like it was perfect. No doubt I obsessively packed and repacked after hours spent scouring chats for advice. Ultimately the choice was mine because only I know myself. Others can recommend what you need having more understanding of what you may encounter on your path but only you can pack your bag. I remember seeing an older woman along the way with a stuffed bear peering out the side of her pack and thought “What a waste of weight!” But who knows why she felt she had to take it. Maybe it gave her comfort, maybe a child asked her to take it along, when we had seen her last in Pamplona she’d been ready to call it quits, but she was still walking.

So back here in my real life culling through what isn’t necessary is not as dire a task. There is less urgency to clear through and discard what I don’t need, but I’ve got to get on it. The clutter on my table and in my mind need sorting and a lot of trashing. Systems that don’t work for me need to be reworked or discarded. Caustic people need to be sent along as possible or managed properly. If there are people in my life that bring me down I must handle them as if I’m in a hazmat suit, put on the mask and gloves and protect myself from their debilitating influence.

For example I could trash 90% of this post which is tedious and boring but I find it interesting to see how one thought leads to a small epiphany for me. One step leads to a goal.

I wanted to come home from my Camino and be immediately able to tackle these types of obstacles but found that this is an ongoing process. I’m better at it but I’ve still got a ways to go.

I have to remember not to let fear hold me hostage. Fear often keeps me clinging to what I don’t need. What if? Is the worst question to ask. What if it snows and I’m not warm enough. What if I get a blister and the farmacia is closed? What if my feet get wet? What if I run out of soap? And here at home, what if I could use that cord someday? What if that key is for something important? What if I find that other sock? What if I took the time to match the Tupperware lids? What if I need that paperwork? What if I want to read that book again?

It comes back to faith. At the end of the day do you believe that you should fear what life has in store? Do you want to live that way wondering what if? Or can you learn how to live from a different perspective, from a place where you know you can overcome any obstacle. Where you know you have abundance in all aspects of your life. This reminds me of a motto from the United Farm Workers Union, Si Se Puede. Yes You Can!

If you believe you walk for a higher purpose then you can and will overcome any obstacle in your path. What you need will be provided for you. Just don’t be afraid and have some faith. Just pause, look and listen closely and with faith in your heart what you need will be provided for you. The guidance you’re looking for will be delivered to you. I believe.

Blog posts from my 2018 Camino

The Hungry Minnow is Hibernating

1 04 2019

I miss The Hungry Minnow, or The Minnow as I sometimes call her. The Minnow is my snack bar at Children’s Beach in Nantucket.

She came to me almost by accident in 2017. I was spending another daunting winter on Nantucket trying not to completely freak out due to the lack of a winter job when I heard that the town was requesting bids to operate the snack bar concession. I figured what’s there to lose… I also never imagined I’d win.

I spent a good chunk of time writing up an engaging proposal and even basically pulled an all-nighter to get it done. Despite all my years working in restaurants as a manager, waiter, sommelier, host and of course wine director, I’d never wanted to own my own place. I knew better from seeing how hard my father had worked with his restaurant. I also had all the knowledge from my years getting a BS in Beverage Management at Cornell School. I remember vividly a lecture to us new students, perhaps it was Professor Chase? I can’t remember, but what I do remember so very vividly was their admonition to us.

“Most if you are going to want to open up a fine dining restaurant with your name on it and that is just not profitable.”

So I knew better. But this little snack bar had potential! At least to me. When I toured it I could see past the linoleum floors and the cracked ceilings where now I know former staff almost fell through while trying to get cups from the attic. I saw past the green AstroTurf lined track that bordered the walls, apparently there as a surface for balls so that they wouldn’t roll away (huh?! I still don’t get it). Instead of the peg board that was at toddler eye level covered in cheap plastic toys from China, I saw windows opening to the porch and the sand covered playground and just beyond that the beach and harbor.

Where there was a gravel pit I saw a sandy dining area with wood tables, umbrellas and a sofa and lounger. I saw summer breezes, hot dogs, chili, fresh brewed iced teas and Ritual coffee, organic snacks.

By the time I’d written up my proposal and submitted it something fascinating had happened. I’d envisioned things so vividly that I felt that The Hungry Minnow already existed. I’d breathed so much life into it, I’d written my PowerPoint as if I was there looking at it. It was so strangely real suddenly, and then there sitting in my car I’d left my dream in a Manila envelope on a desk in the office of the Town Manager.

I burst into tears because all of a sudden I realized what I’d created and how much I loved it.

I had no idea what to do and ended up reaching out to friends on Facebook for comfort. I wrote that I had just submitted a proposal for something that I really thought I wanted.

Still sitting there in the car not knowing what to do with myself I looked down to see a notification. It was curious as I’ve never gotten a message from Elsa before, but it seemed timely and important, and I know she is wise.

She said,

“Hi! Just read your post

Quick! Restate it! Instead of I think I want this opportunity or I think anything about it, restate it as if this is meant for my highest good, I ask for this with all my heart.

The Universe responds to specifics 😘”

So I did.

And The Hungry Minnow was born.

I won’t say it’s been easy, actually that first year was one of my most challenging ever. That said I absolutely love the place. It’s a happy place and I’ve made it mine. It’s become all that I’ve dreamed of in many ways in its quirky kitschy way.

I’ve been able to work with an incredible crew of teenagers and I’m watching them grow and learn. I’m interacting with my tiny human customers in a way I never thought I could have, and I like them in limited doses though I’m still glad to be able to be without the responsibilities of a child of my own.

I am now a line cook, or the octopus as Suzy my Camino partner called me last year when she’d work with me there. Making ten things at once in the 98 degree kitchen when a year prior I didn’t even know how the fryer worked.

There are long days and hard days and all kind of frustrations but I love it all.

I really do believe I was meant to take on the place, to shepherd it into a place where kids can have fun and families can make memories. In my tiny way my work really is for the greater good which is why I was granted this opportunity.

So as you set off on life’s journeys I implore you to think carefully about what you want and why. Don’t worry about the how, that’s not your job.

Just two weeks ago i was cleaning up and Came across a dream board I’d made a long time ago. I was pretty astonished by what was on it as it had sat forgotten and languishing for a few years, or so I thought because many of the items had been “delivered”.

There was a bag pasted into it from my favorite Spanish T-shirt Shop with a blue bull on it. It was so old that it was crumbling and when I went to clean it up it hit me. The store is called Kukuxumusu! When Suzy and I were in Pamplona weseparated for a few hours while Suzy looked for money. I ate a plate of Spanish anchovies and meanwhile Suzy was off looking for cash. When I got back to our Albergue Suzy had bought me a T-shirt to thank me for lending her money! It was from Kukuxumusu, and she didn’t know that it was my favorite brand of Spanish gift items… I even took a photo with this character in front of the store! The same bull was on the crumbling bag.

Inside the bag there was a realtor listing of homes in Nantucket, another thing on the board that the universe has graciously provided me. Photos of boquerones, (see above) my favorite white Spanish anchovies in oil and vinegar that were my staple food along the way. (I’d literally eat an entire container for breakfast!) and a photo of Jamon. A crocus on the cover of Spain Gourmetour Magazine. In the top right hand corner is the crest of the Town of Nantucket who is my landlord and technically my partner at The Hungry Minnow as they own the building!

There’s even a scrap of paper that says American Songwriter magazine… in 2017 I received an honorable mention for my lyrics of my song Carpe Diem whose word have totally foreshadowed my 2018 Camino de Santiago.

I wrote, “Well I can’t tell you where I’m going, I don’t remember where I’ve been, storm clouds seem to be blowing… I’m walking straight into the wind. I feel just like an apparition, a pilgrim in purgatory, on the way to the next Mission, seeds to sow and crops to reap.

But you can’t put me out to pasture, I’ve got many more miles to roam, there’s rosebuds yet to gather, days to seize ‘fore I go home.”

I need to start a new dream board but first I must implore the universe to help me finish my taxes tonight and get my papers and life organized so that my mind may be free and uninhibited and I can get back to the creative pursuits that I know in my heart are for my greatest good and can benefit others.

Find an intention, be specific and believe it’s already yours and see what happens. What’s the harm in believing in your dream if you know in your heart of hearts it’s what you really believe you should do?

Saw this crocus the other day… it’s going to be a great season. The Hungry Minnow will come out of hibernation soon and all those great ideas just now taking root will become fruitful and grow.