Locals talk about places where they find renewal

by Linda Hubbard Gulker on January 2, 2012

Duck pond at Sharon Park in Menlo Park

With New Year’s Day falling on a Sunday and many Bowl games scheduled on Jan. 2, the transition to 2012 is a 48 hour celebration. While traditionally the start of year is the time to make resolutions, it can also be a time for renewal. With that in mind, we asked Menlo and Atherton residents where they go locally for inspiration and renewal.  Among their answers below.

Physical therapist Robin Tobias: “I have two places in Menlo Park. One is the duck pond (pictured above) at Sharon Heights. Sometimes the walk there, around, and back are the best contemplative times I have. Sometimes I drive there with my journal and just sit in my car or find a sunny spot to sit and write.

“When I really need an extra boost, I go inside the chapel at the Corpus Christi Monastery (pictured toward bottom of post) on Oak Grove. I swear, if there’s a God, s/he is to be found there. I’m not much of a believer, but when I need help from something greater than myself, that is the place.”

Mystery thriller novelist Barry Eisler: “For inspiration I like to walk the streets of Atherton northeast of Alameda de la Pulgas and the part of Menlo that’s west of Middlefield — can’t remember the name of the area or even if it has one but the streets northwest of Menlo Atherton High School. Anyway, quiet, flat streets, very little daytime traffic, and therefore good for conjuring stories. Also, just enough construction to ensure a steady supply of port-o-potties, because sometimes these walks get pretty long!”

Photographer Fred Mertz: “I really love mornings at the Arastradero Preserve, when it’s just the coyotes and the early morning light.”

Angel Heart Cakes co-owner Chris Rivera: “I love walking around Allied Arts (pictured right) for the beautiful gardens, historical California architecture, and the artists that have shops there. There is a sense of peacefulness and creativity I get removed from my fast paced routine. During the summer months, lunching outdoors at the restaurant is a real treat and feels like I’m away on vacation.”

Congresswoman Anna Eshoo: “I love to take long walks through the many neighborhoods of Menlo Park. It’s great exercise and a great reminder to me of what a wonderful area I’m privileged to represent.”

Artist Mitchell Johnson: “What I do to meditate and collect good ideas is swim! You can find me at Burgess pool swimming with Menlo Masters and sometimes on my own at least three or four days per week, rehearsing ideas for paintings.

M-A student and jazz singer Jenna Scandalious: “Holbrook Palmer Park is a great place for me because I have such good memories there growing up, and I love visiting because it reminds me of my carefree childhood. It is also very relaxing.”

Assemblyman Rich Gordon: “I know that you wanted a public place that others might access, but the most honest answer to your question about a place that gives me inspiration is my home in unincorporated Menlo Park.

“As a public official, I am always ‘on-call’ when I am in a public venue. I value the accessibility that my consituents have when I am in public spaces. Contact with constituents provides me with valuable insights on their concerns, challenges, and dreams.

“So, when I need to re-charge it works best for me to find private and quiet space.  We have a beautiful home which in many ways is my sanctuary.  Here I can have ‘down time’ and process all of the information and data that comes my way on a daily basis.  This is the place where I reflect and prepare for my role and responsibility as a member of the California State Assembly.”

chapel at Corpus Christi Monastery

Fit Kids Foundation founder Ashley Riley: “If I had to pick one place I go to be inspired it is out at the beach. There is a state park about 1/2 mile south on highway 1 if you head over to Half Moon Bay. I don’t get out there enough, but every time I do it is like a recharge for me on everything I am trying to accomplish with Fit Kids.

“I also find beauty in very random moments throughout the day and it is those moments that keep me inspired to make the most of every day. I had cancer just over five years ago, and since then I really try to live each day to the fullest. I know that sounds a little corny but it is true and that is why I find such beauty and inspiration in these random moments throughout the day.”

Photos of Sharon Park Duck Pond and Allied Arts by Scott Loftesness

Photo of interior of chapel at Corpus Christi Monastery by Chris Gulker

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