“Accept whatever comes to you woven in the pattern of your destiny, for what could more aptly fit your needs?”

Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor  161 -180

You will find rest from vain fancies if you perform every act in life as though it were your last.

Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor  161–180

“We won’t succumb to hate, bitterness or disillusionment; we will use wisely the time we have left together. When we stop crying we will start doing positive things to affect change. We ask that everyone work towards something good. Stop being complacent. Do something now.

~Jeanne and Gideon Bernstein

stained glass prayer

This morning I was sitting in my rainbow room–my small sun-room which among other things, contains stained glass, hanging crystals, geraniumssunroombrightgeraniums..

ALTAR GOLDaltars that I’ve created andPHANTOM:SWING CHAIR

a hanging chair which I share with my cat Phantom..

I’ve been sitting in the rainbow room a lot lately, thinking about things, feeling like I should be doing something and not wanting to do anything.

Difficult to put into words–my thoughts…but they mostly have to do with surrender, acts of kindness, choices and the shift that’s happening as the old world dies and the ‘New Earth’ comes in.

As things have been extremely challenging in my life these past 2 years, I’ve been forced to look inward as my outer world crumbled. I couldn’t buy things that I wanted, couldn’t go out to eat, sometimes had very little food, couldn’t fix things that broke, not enough gas to go anywhere…Surrender to what is….there’s no other choice.

And so I struggled to find hope, find the positive, move out of anger and bitterness..and into SURRENDER. [It isn’t easy]

There are a few things that have helped me the most: listening to the spiritual teacher, Eckhart Tolle, working on arts and crafts projects and reading the stories of people who have survived the greatest difficulties,  the greatest suffering….those who have gone through ‘the tumbler of life and come out polished’.

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths.
These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern.
Beautiful people do not just happen.”
― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Blaze-Nathan-BernsteinLast week  I read a story that I could not get out of my mind. It was the story of 19 year old, University of Pennsylvania student, Blaze Bernstein who was brutally murdered a few weeks ago by a ‘friend’. He was missing from his parents home in southern California and after a week of searching, his body was discovered in a shallow grave in a park near his home. He had been stabbed 20 times.

This is a story of horror, violence, insanity…what we read in the ‘news’ every day, what we are becoming immune to. Violence begets more violence, hate begets more hate…on and on the cycle continues. Blame is always placed on someone or something else. Personal responsibility is not encouraged and for many this has become the expected and accepted way.

A vicious murder of a beloved child, in this case one who was known as a brilliant teenager with…..a generous and gentle heart, is the very worst nightmare a parent can experience but Blaze’s parents chose a unique way of responding.  From the time that his body was found, his parents made the statement that they would not give in to hate or revenge.  Instead they wrote:

“We won’t succumb to hate, bitterness or disillusionment; we will use wisely the time we have left together. When we stop crying we will start doing positive things to affect change. We ask that everyone work towards something good. Stop being complacent. Do something now.

Now is the time to set aside fear, ignorance and judgement. It is time to love. Love each other. Be good. Do good and honor Blaze’s memory.”

~Jeanne and Gideon Bernstein


And Blaze’s father went on to say that he felt this must have happened for a reason.

This seems a life changing understanding and because Blaze’s story has reached so many thousands of people and will continue to, this understanding can be life changing for many…it seems to me to be the way of the New Earth which is coming in now: Surrender, Kindness, refusing to give in to hate…..make the world a better place.

A family friend who knew Blaze though not well wrote:

And while I can’t make up for not knowing him as well as I should have, I can promise this: By performing daily acts of kindness, by rejecting hate and prejudice, and by never again taking a precious human soul for granted, I will never, ever forget him.

~Gary Goldhammer

This is Blaze’s memorial website. It is beautiful in every way..It is a light in the darkness.

*PS Somewhat related: Until a few years ago, I often gave presentations on loss and grief which I called Between Now & Forever. cathedral-me-ttm1 copyI gave these presentations throughout the US, for Hospices, Church and Community Groups, Universities and Rehab Centers as well for National Hospice and Palliative Care Conferences. They were simple, magical and powerful. I always started by showing our award winning documentary, Turning Toward the Morning and followed the film with the opportunity for those who wanted to, to make a memorial for friends or family members. I brought lots of colored markers, crayons, glitter and paper and kids:lourdes:memorialseveryone from small children, to the very elderly


baby f memorial

created beautiful drawings, heartfelt messages and sometimes letters…….lynn memorial


I feel that I am now emerging out of 2 years in the ‘tumbler of life’, emerging stronger and with more clarity and I am ready to do these presentations again but I just realized that I want to do them in memory of Blaze Bernstein. They will be different from the ones I did previously because they will include this message from Blaze’s parents: “Now is the time to set aside fear, ignorance and judgement. It is time to love. Love each other. Be good. Do good …”For more information, please email me at

If you would like to contribute to the continuation of this blog, you can do so here.

Thank you and May the Force be with You.










MY DREAM/A MIRACLE HEALING…a short but true story

“While we cannot say that any personality type causes cancer, certain personality features definitely increase the risk because they are more likely to generate physiological stress. Repression, the inability to say no and a lack of awareness of one’s anger make it much more likely that a person will find herself in situations where her emotions are unexpressed, her needs are ignored and her gentleness is exploited. Those situations are stress inducing, whether or not the person is conscious of being stressed. Repeated and multiplied over the years, they have the potential of harming homeostasis and the immune system…”

~Dr. Gabor Maté, When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress

“If you silence yourself, if you try to be good, if you try to be polite or toe the party line, you end up paying for that in the long run. You pay for it…with your homeland, or with your soul, or with your artistic vision.” — Diana Abu-Jabar, author

FOR SEVERAL MONTHS now I have had sciatica and it has become more and more painful.

Sciatica is a medical condition characterized by pain going down the leg from the lower back. This pain may go down the back, outside, or front of the leg.[3] Onset is often sudden following activities like heavy lifting, though gradual onset may also occur.[5] Typically, symptoms are only on one side of the body.

I tried all my usual healing remedies that always work but nothing did and sometimes my leg hurt so much, I could barely walk. It was even at worse at night, keeping me awake and tired as I might be, I dreaded going to bed.

Then, a few nights ago I had a dream: I dreamed that I was back doing home health again and some woman-a supervisor told me I needed to take care of a man with a spinal cord injury. She told me he needed to be fed 4xs a day for 4 days. I really, really didn’t want to do it but the woman was doing a guilt trip on me and so I said yes. Dreading the experience [I used to work in rehab years ago and I hated it]. The dream moved on and suddenly I thought WHY AM I SAYING YES???? legs are hurting so bad and i don’t want to do this anymore and I told her NO! When i woke up almost all of the sciatica pain was gone, probably 90 percent of it GONE and I realized I’ve been doing this for years: saying yes when I wanted and needed to say NO!

Many people who are caretakers and caregivers, those working in Hospice, in hospitals, nursing homes etc will likely understand this and so here is a great video from the renown psychiatrist, Dr. Gabor Maté, titled WHEN THE BODY SAYS NO

And if you need, some more inspiration, here’s one of my favorite songs which actually gave me the courage to quit my job in rehab many years ago. I was listening to the song as I was driving my son to school and dreading going to the hospital to work in an environment I disliked so much.

As I listened to the words of the song, I thought I’m quitting that job today and so when I arrived at the hospital, I told my supervisor [I was an Occupational Therapy Assistant] that I quit. “Not today” she said. “Yes right now” I said. “Why? she asked. “Because I hate Occupational Therapy.” Some may call it unprofessional but had I not quit, I would never have found the Hospice work I was meant to do.




A Message for Christmas and Beyond

christmas altar 17“Once I was in Victoria, and I saw a very large house. They told me it was a bank and that the white men place their money there to be taken care of, and that by and by they got it back with interest. We are Indians and we have no such bank; but when we have plenty of money or blankets, we give them away to other chiefs and people, and by and by they return them with interest, and our hearts feel good. Our way of giving is our bank.”  

– Chief Maquinna, Nootka.

For several weeks now, I’ve wanted to write something but I couldn’t seem to do it. The posts I thought to write had tentative titles like “Where are the Humans ? Down at the Post Office, in a Mobile Home next to a Cow Pasture” and “The End of Black Friday-My World Grows Smaller”

I think every idea I had, had a common theme like what’s happened to the humans?–I even typed that phrase in, in a google search and came up with this:

Recent experiences with my credit card company, a local hardware store and a home delivery food service company have me pondering the simple question: where have all the humans gone?

Maybe one day there will be touchtone keys for empathy, compassion, rapport and appreciation. In the meantime I will continue hitting the “0” button, waiting for a human to pick up the phone…

~Doug A Sandler

But meanwhile, as I was waiting for inspiration, things were changing in my life or rather in my thoughts: Every day I saw more and more insanity in the world and I wondered how I could possibly continue to live in it–if I read the ‘news’, I felt like I was swimming in the sewer and I quit reading it altogether [very, very little of it is true and relevant anyway].

I got off Facebook too..for the most part: *my blog posts will still get posted there but otherwise I am not participating. I got off Facebook because it began to seem increasingly fractured as if everyone was in their own small world, hoping for a ‘like’ or a ‘love’ but there didn’t seem to be any genuine coming together. That was my experience anyway. Even former Facebook CEOs have recently made statements about Facebook’s destructive capacity:

“I feel tremendous guilt… I think in the back deep, deep recesses of our minds, we kind  knew something bad could happen…

It literally is a point now where I think we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works. That is truly where we are.

It is a point in time where people need to hard break from some of these tools, and the things that you rely on.

The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops we’ve created are destroying how society works…”

~ former vice-president of user growth for Facebook, Chamath Palihapitiya

Still, all through these past few months, there was something that remained with me. It was a message from a Native American friend which seems especially meaningful in these times and though it may seem like something we heard from our parents when we were kids–the story about how they walked 2 miles through the snow to get to school after milking the cow, it isn’t like that. It really is the way things are in this community I live in and probably in many poor communities throughout the world.

So this is the Christmas message I want to pass on..

When I was young, I remember all my older relatives had a gentle compassion. When they had very little they were generous because they wanted to teach us the sacred value of being there for others. The accumulation of wealth was seen as disturbance in the cycle of reciprocity and being a part of family and community.

~Scott Thomas, Lakota

A week ago I went with a man from my community to Santa Fe–we went to pick up dog food and frozen meat for our wolfdogs, donated by a very kind and generous friend who has a wolf/wolfdog rescue center.

Pete and I have made this little trip several times and on the way, I like to ask him to tell me stories of what it was like growing up out here. MACLOVIA-LOVE-JESUS                                His mother had 22 children

Pete was in the middle and he grew up without running water or electricity. This time I asked what they usually had for dinner..thanks g still l '!7Well, he said, we killed a chicken or a rabbit, had green beans and corn from the garden, brought in water from the acequia and then used kerosene lamps for light. And those were the happiest and best of times he said……we hardly ever had to go to town and we never heard the word Cancer.

These past 2 years we’ve lived out here [me and the Brown Piglet] with almost no money and though it’s been incredibly hard and often terribly discouraging, I have learned how little we really need as we have become more and more self sufficientgreenhouse dec 17

And I’ve seen that money is very often used for Distraction. When you have money, you can take trips, go out to eat, buy things and for a while it will take you out of whatever you don’t want to face or deal with….But as the saying goes: “Wherever you go, there you are”

I would rather have had money, I would rather not have had to struggle so hard but if life is like a school where we learn and grow this is where my school took me. Because I would not have learned otherwise. Really it’s easy to see why poor people who vote for someone, thinking they will make their lives better are completely deceived. People who are born into wealth have no idea what it’s like to be poor and essentially and for the most part..they don’t care.

Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross so often said:

You have to temper the iron. Every hardship is an opportunity that you are given, an opportunity to grow. To grow is the sole purpose of existence on this planet Earth. You will not grow if you sit in a beautiful flower garden, but you will grow if you are sick, if you are in pain, if you experience losses, and if you do not put your head in the sand, but take the pain as a gift to you with a very, very specific purpose.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross


The countries of the world and especially the United States are self destructing and like the Roman Empire, cannot survive much longer. I suppose there are those who are still trying to pretend that everything will be okay and it will be but not in the way they think.

People will have to come together, share, help each other in order to survive and they will. This is becoming very evident with the natural ‘disasters’ like the hurricanes and now the California wildfires.


A while I go I sent out an email which I titled ‘The Tapestry’. I had often heard the spiritual teacher, Eckhart Tolle talk about a person’s life /life experience like a tapestry made up of pieces woven together, pieces which include one’s health, family, relationships, job and finances. Everything seems secure, worries and then suddenly a piece is ripped out, sometimes several pieces and this can happen in an instant.

In the recent fires in northern California, there was a family who lost everything in a few moments. They had everything it seemed: their recently built dream house in the mountains, 2 beautiful kids, health and happiness and suddenly, in just minutes everything was gone. Their children burned to death, their home burned to the ground and both parents were badly burned requiring months in the hospital and ongoing theapy. I think of them often and wonder how anyone can survive such great and unimaginable loss.

I write about this family because their story has stayed with me and because in some way that I can’t put into words, it’s related to the way I started this post: Where are the humans?  In my own life I have found he humans among the poor when I was doing home health and in this community that I live in -“those who know the sacred value of being there for others”. And having spent much of my life working with terminally ill patients and parents who lost a child, I have found them there, there among those who have known extreme suffering. As the worship of money, power and technology continues to increase, humans are harder to find but as the natural disasters grow, they are appearing like angels, coming to the forefront to help, to share and to bring back a feeling of community and connection.


I’m posting 3 slideshows that I made about our life out the grid surrounded by our animals. I have posted these before but since a lot of people have seemed to enjoy them, here they are once more.

If you would like to us help out in some way: contribute to the care of the animals who are mostly rescues, to the continuation of this blog  or just to help, you can do that here. It’s a huge challenge to keep everything going on *$600 a month and we would never have made it without the support of our community and the help of so many friends from all over the US, who have become like our family, creating a circle of goodwill and caring around us *The story of why $600 a month is here.





Last night I posted this last episode of THE SACRED PLANT on Facebook and I wrote about how years ago I had done volunteer work with the kids at MD Anderson in Houston. There was an 18 year old girl I worked with who I’ll never forget. I can’t remember her name but I remember that she was from somewhere in Tennessee…and she had an inoperable brain tumor which was growing very fast. Her mom was with her and she wanted so much to take her daughter home to die…she had only a few weeks left to live. But it was not allowed. This girl was blasted with radiation and chemo til she could not even raise her head..and then she died there in the hospital…very quickly. And I know of several other stories just like this.

There was a doctor working there at MD Anderson who I knew fairly well and one day I asked him what he would do if he was diagnosed with cancer. “I would go skiing.” he said. But what about all these treatments I asked. “Oh I would never do that” he said. “That’s all experimental.”

I wrote in my previous posts that I have never been interested in marijuana/cannabis…I had nothing against just wasn’t a part of my life. marijuana branchBut when I moved to New Mexico 8 years ago, many people that I met, smoked. Still I didn’t think much about it until there was a drug bust here in this tiny community.

It happened one peaceful Fall morning.: 2 helicopters starting circling very low right above my place. I thought maybe someone had escaped from prison or there had been an accident but it was a drug bust: My neighbor was growing a small amount of marijuana for personal use.

The helicopters circled for hours and then military vehicles followed..maybe 10. It was terrifying watching them driving up the road in a line, the uniformed men armed with automatic weapons….it was like watching a movie about Nazi Germany. The one man these people were after was in his 60s..nevertheless they handcuffed him, put him on the floor, training their automatic weapons on him. FOR WHAT???? They were there for hours, keeping him handcuffed, taking his plants and his possessions. He spent the night in jail.  And this ‘event’ can only be described as PURE EVIL.

Meanwhile New Mexico has a huge problem with drunk drivers who get multiple DWIs and nothing much happens. I’m sure, that day of the drug bust, there were several people in this same area driving drunk.

That day, of the drug bust, I became a supporter of marijuana legalization but I still understood little about it until I watched this Sacred Plant series….and at the same time,  I was also able to personally witness 2  healing MIRACLES related to medical cannabis.

There’s a war happening now :a war between good and evil, between the dark and the light. The war is happening everywhere in many areas of life on earth. Courageous people are exposing truths that have been purposely hidden for years through lies, propaganda, threats etc..The truth about cannabis has been hidden out of pure greed..

Watch THE SACRED PLANT and you will understand..



I know that there is corruption and evil in this world, increasingly so, but I have never seen anything like this. You can watch THE SACRED PLANT for free if you simply sign up.

There is a lot more I wanted to say but I’ll leave at this. [I’m feeling so angry as I write this and I try not to write much when I’m this angry.]

Whatever your beliefs, judgements etc….you will be forever changed by watching THE SACRED PLANT. Episode 5 is especially enlightening..and  Sad. If you still think you live in ‘the land of the free’, you’re in for a big surprise.


Just watching an animal closely can take you out of your mind and bring you into the present moment, which is where the animal lives all the time – surrendered to life.

~Eckhart Tolle

I wanted to write a post about my wolfdogs but I haven’t got the energy….so I’ll just put up this little slideshow I did yesterday and another on our cats that I made the day before. These slideshows can communicate what I would like to say, much better than my words.

More and more I have not felt that I belong in this world…I don’t feel safe and I cannot relate to the horror and the greed that seems to be accepted, even promoted as Life on Earth these days.

I have gotten more and more anxious and nervous…. maybe I always have been to some extent but it’s now debilitating. I used to feel joy in the smallest things but that’s gone. Except for the time I spend with my animals and GREENHOUSE GOOD FRIDAYin my greenhouse.

I hope you enjoy these 2 slideshows…making them took me back to happiness for a little while.



Last night I watched Part 3 of THE SACRED PLANT series. I think this is the most amazing thing I’ve ever watched. There is so much verified information about this plant’s ability to heal numerous diseases and conditions, while meanwhile exposing the treachery and hypocrisy of the US government in preventing people from having access to this medicine. This treachery is exposed in the fact that the US government owns a patent on medical cannabis, and in the fact that the US National Institutes of Health has funded a great deal of research on medical cannabis in Israel [Israel has a very successful medical cannabis program]. While jailing people in the US for possession.

As I wrote in my last post I never smoked marijuana though I had nothing against it. I thought of it whenever I thought of Willy Nelson [I love Willy Nelson] and Woodstock. I just wasn’t interested one way or another but I personally witnessed some really incredible, undeniable MIRACLES OF HEALING which inspired me to watch THE SACRED PLANT series.

Let the TRUTH come out NOW!


I might not be so interested in this if I had not witnessed some actual MIRACLES of HEALING. Even though I am part of the Hippie Generation, I never smoked marijuana not because I was against it but because I’m just not the smoking type–any type of smoke makes me cough.

But this is not about smoking.

Very recently some truths that have been hidden for years and years have been coming to light–Hollywood sexual harassment and pedophilia for example, and this is just the very tip of the iceberg.

With everything that happens, you have to ask who is benefiting?  So in the case of preventing marijuana from being legalized who is benefiting?  Well, ‘Elementary My Dear Watson’. The Pharmaceutical Industry of course because in their case, it’s not about’s about MONEY…..and GREED. If you can heal yourself, what happens to them?

When you go to Walgreen’s for example and there are announcements on the loud speaker and big signs advertising flu shots, pneumonia shots, shingles shots, dollar sign

do you REALLY think they are trying to help you???

So as I wrote in my last post, whatever judgements, opinions, beliefs you may have, this documentary will be enlightening, inspirational and it may very well make a huge difference in your life or the life of someone you know.

Episode 2 of The Sacred Plant is about how it actually heals the body


I was in the midst of writing another post but I happened to watch this show last night and I wanted to pass it on…to EVERYONE.

Whatever your opinions, judgements, beliefs are, you should watch this documentary which is not only about this amazing, miracle healing plant that should be available to EVERYONE but about the unbelievable greed of the pharmaceutical industry and the government, which allow so many people to suffer and die out of greed.

As the hidden truths that have been covered up for so long are revealed, this is a truth whose time has come.

MITAKUYE OYASIN:We Are All Related ‘My Life Story’ Part 5

To love is to recognize yourself in another

~Eckhart Tolle

“If you want to help anyone else, the best way to do that is to make sure you’re sorting yourself out first. Then you’re giving out the right frequency and you’re attracting the things you want, you know?”

~Dhani Harrison, son of Beatle George Harrison

Last night when I couldn’t sleep, I was thinking about finishing ‘My Life Story’. I had just finished Part 4 a few days before and Part 5, I thought would be about the Hospice and AIDS work that I did. But I’ve already written about this so many times [ad nauseum John Bradshaw would say] and I don’t want to write anymore. If you’re interested, you can read about it here and on my gofundme page— people I worked with over the years wrote letters and stories so my gofundme page is sort of a record of some of the work I did, seen through the eyes of other people.

I never intended to write ‘My Life Story’. It just happened but I think it was meant to be because it has brought me a lot of unexpected insights and I believe now that writing one’s life story can be helpful for anyone. It helps put things in perspective.

Last night I thought back about the work I did for so many years. I worked very, very hard and when I look back, I can see that I accomplished an enormous amount. At the time, I thought I was doing the right thing–helping people who could not help themselves but I did this at my own expense-mentally, emotionally, physically and financially. I think now that I did at least some of this work because unconsciously I wanted credit for ‘being a good person’.  And I got a lot of credit, compliments and appreciation but last night I realized that none of this really matters..not really.

I often hear people say “If I had it to all over, I would do it again.”

I would not do it again.

So I thought then what does matter?, what was the point of all the work?, was there some purpose? And what did I learn?  I think I learned how to communicate with all kinds of people, hopefully how to be a better listener and I feel like I’m more compassionate but mainly I learned this – put into words by the Native American People ‘MITAKUYE OYASIN’ We Are All Related.

Because I worked with so many people from different races, cultures and walks of life, I know this is true..absolutely true. The world governments and religions preach separation, superiority and even hate because this takes people’s power away, weakens them, makes them into better, sheep like followers, takes away their connection with LIFE and with SPIRIT.

And then I thought about some of experiences and people that actually did make all the work meaningful, the experiences that taught me the most and I came up with the following…so maybe there are SOME things I would do again.

Dr. James Pittman


File dr jim!  marian                                                          DR  JAMES PITTMAN

“The most I ever charged when I was in private practice was five hundred dollars. Five hundred dollars and that’s a fact. You can’t even get in the hospital now for that. And that would be the care before, during and after surgery, see.”

Dr. Pittman lived on a ranch not far from where I lived in the Texas Hill country but I first met him and his daughter at a talk that I went to in San Antonio. At the time, I was working on a photo/oral history exhibit called The Gathering of the Wisdom People and I wanted to include Dr. Pittman….. so I made arrangements to go out to the ranch, do an interview and take some photos.

In the meantime however, Dr. Pittman’s daughter called me early one morning and asked if I would pick Dr. Pittman up at his ranch and drive him to the horse races in San Antonio. She would meet us there. I didn’t want to do it, mainly because he was so old-I thought he was too frail and I couldn’t imagine him riding in my tiny Suzuki Sidekick for an hour. What if he would get sick and die on the way?

s sidekick

My Suzuki was white but otherwise, this is how it looked

And besides that, what in the world would we talk about? I knew that pittmn23 he had been Chief of Staff and Head of the Department of Surgery at one of the biggest hospitals in Houston so I was also slightly intimidated.

But his daughter had a very forceful personality and I felt no choice but to say yes. So I ventured out to his ranch and found him ready and waiting, perfectly dressed in a nice suit, cowboy boots and a cowboy hat.

He got into the Suzuki, I put the top down and we headed out for San Antonio… and we talked and laughed the whole time. Somewhere along the way we stopped at a convenience store because he wanted to buy us both Dr. Peppers. It was as if there was no difference in our ages when actually there was about 45 years difference. And I was reminded of something my stepmother often said when she was in her 80s. She would say to me “I know I don’t look like it but I feel just the same as I did when I was 35.” [I understand this even better now that I’m older]

Dr. Pittman and I became close friends after that and I often visited him at his ranch where we would sit on his big Texas style front porch, drinking ice tea and talking. Sometimes I watched him fix fences

pittman tractor

and drive his tractor.

pittmn drive

His daughter and granddaughters made sure to take him often, to places where he could be around people who appreciated him. I remember going to one of his birthday parties he celebrated at Planet Hollywood in San Antonio, Tx and even now, I can see him wearing a Planet Hollywood jacket and cap, talking with the many people who came to congratulate him on another birthday.

Then one year he went to a reunion at Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas-it must have been his 70th. When he got back home, he told me with his ever present sense of humor “I didn’t recognize any of ’em. They were all on crutches or in wheel chairs.”

Me: What do you think about death and the life after? Do you think there is one?

Dr. Pittman: “I don’t know what that life is but the Bible tells us pretty well. And it’s not in flesh, see, so I don’t know, but I don’t have to know. I know there’s someone up there that’s lookin’ after me.”

Me: So, you don’t worry about it?

Dr. Pittman “No, I don’t worry about it, do you?”

File_01 dr jim service

Jim, Gerri & Jason Briggs



Jim, Gerri and Jason Briggs : A family with AIDS

  Never lose hope in the human spirit; we all go through things in life not knowing if we are capable of getting through them. But those who choose to face their fears and walk through the storms will see the rainbows on the other side

~Gerri Briggs, mother of Jason Briggs who died of AIDS at age 2

In 1989, at the height of the AIDS epidemic in Austin, Texas, we were asked to provide care and support for an entire family with AIDS. Jim and Gerri Briggs wanted to continue working in spite of their AIDS diagnosis and they needed someone to take care ofFile_01 bw jason loking  their 6 month old baby, Jason.

Because of their mounting medical bills, Jim and Gerri could not afford to pay but nevertheless, we –RITES OF PASSAGE provided care

jason breathing tube 2  for Jason File_01 jim and jasonand support for his family jason-jo-santa                 until Jason died at age two and a half.

During that time, Gerri’s brother died of AIDS and Jim’s sister died of stomach cancer and Gerri’s father was also diagnosed with cancer and had part of his jaw removed.

This young family-Jim and Gerri were just 24 and 22 when we first met them- faced one painful loss after another with the most amazing courage and grace. I have never seen anything like it before or since. We tried as best we could to document on film, their story so others could learn from them and from what they went through.  Jason-the way we live today  Angels Watch Over Me and Turning Toward the Morning

One of their unique challenges was being a heterosexual couple with AIDS. They were not IV drug users either and in the beginning, it was difficult especially for Jim to accept that his family had a disease connected almost exclusively with gay men. Many of the caregivers and healthcare professionals at that time came from the gay community but in time judgements and boundaries disappeared: MITAKUYE OYASIN’ We Are All Related

Just 2 weeks before they were all three diagnosed with AIDS, Jim and Gerri watched a TV show on AIDS. When the show ended, Gerri had turned to Jim and said “If AIDS is so bad, how come we don’t know anyone who has it?”


quilt message

It’s been nearly 30 years but those us who were involved with this amazing family were forever changed and for me, whenever I’m in need of courage, I have only to remember Jim, Gerri and Jason.angel picture reborn

 One Night at the Turtle Lodge


“It is the drum that carries the voice and the wishes of the people…..we came to the sacred site to ask the drums of the 4 directions to ensure that the spirit of these laws would be heard universally, would travel the universe, would travel around the globe…”

~Anisnhabe Elder Dave Courchene

red shadow:turtle lodge

This was an experience that I wish I could put into words but I don’t know how.

My son and I had been filming a documentary in Manitoba and we were invited to a ceremony at The Turtle Lodge.7-sacred12-1280x500

*The Turtle Lodge Center of Excellence in Indigenous Education and Wellness is a place for reconnecting to the Earth receiving-painting-from-AMC-grand-chief-Ron-Evans& sharing Indigenous ancestral knowledge, founded on the 7 Sacred Laws.

The Turtle Lodge is situated in Sagkeeng First Nation (also known as Fort Alexander), Manitoba, Canada, on the Southern tip of Lake Winnipeg. 

On the night of the ceremony

8thFire_still_MOONthe moon was full and inside the lodge, which was filled with people…red shadow:gold lightjust the sound of the shadow sun:orbsThere’s nothing that I know of on Earth like the sound and the feeling of those drums being played.

Recordings never seem to come close and no rock concert can compare.

There’s an energy, a spiritual energy that cannot be described, that has to be felt…it’s an ancient’s the reason for the survival of the Red Man–this energy, these ceremonies, the power of the drum.

The Elder, Dave Courchene once told me that it was not just the land that the White Man wanted to take from the First Nations People but perhaps even more so, their obsession with destroying the connection these People had with Spirit, they wanted to destroy their Spirit.

But hard as they tried, they were never able to destroy that connection and now the Wisdom and the Vision of the First Nations People comes to the forefront as they are to be the Teachers for these times.

Upon suffering beyond suffering: the Red Nation shall rise again and it shall be a blessing for a sick world. A world filled with broken promises, selfishness and separations. A world longing for light again. I see a time of Seven Generations when all the colors of mankind will gather under the Sacred Tree of Life and the whole Earth will become one circle again. ~Chief Crazy Horse 1840-1877

Jessica Locke


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A few minutes went by and I told her, “Jessica, wake up honey we’re almost home now.” and immediately after I got that out of my mouth …we were hit.

We were hit twice and I hope and pray that Jessica was immediately killed and did not suffer any pain. She was still asleep and I pray, I like to think that she just woke up in another life…and that’s what’s kept me going for a long time

~Mary Locke

I never knew Jessica but I met her parents, Cliff and Mary not long after she died and they shared her story with me.

Jessica was killed in a car accident only a few weeks after her 8th birthday. The accident  happened when they-Cliff, Mary and Jessica- were on their way home from church-it was Palm Sunday that year and just minutes from their apartment, their car was hit by a drunk driver. Cliff and Mary had very minor injuries but Jessica died instantly.

The day after the accident Cliff and Mary went back to their apartment and found on Jessica’s bed, a drawing which they came to call ‘The Balloon Picture’. She had drawn it that morning and left it where they would immediately see it.


THE BALLOON PICTURE shows a happy little girl, floating up to the sky in the basket of a hot air balloon. There are 7 cylinders/markings on the basket and the little girl represents the number 8. Jessica had just celebrated her 8th birthday and her drawing seems to say that in her 8th year, she would make a transition. The colors: Blue represents peace, truth and tranquility. Purple: ceremony, spirituality and mystery

“I think Jessica had a premonition that her life was going to change very dramatically……that week I noticed a change in her…..maturity…”

~Mary Locke

A few weeks later, Cliff and Mary were given Jessica’s note to Dear Mr. God. She had written it the day after her birthday while staying with her great grandmother.

dear mr god

These drawings provided the greatest comfort to Cliff and Mary in a time of enormous grief and sorrow and they have since been shared with many hundreds of parents who have lost a child.

They told me too, of several other experiences which helped them really Know that Jessica watches over them — one of the most powerful of these can be seen in our documentary, Turning Toward the Morning.

turning front cover*Dr. Larry Dossey, New York Times Best selling author, wrote this about Turning Toward the Morning:

Turning Toward the Morning is a celebration of the human spirit. It is one of the most powerful expressions of love, compassion and transcendence I have ever seen. It is a reminder that we humans, for all our faults and failings, also contain the Divine. We are capable of great strengths, great visions, and great wisdom, which often surface in the wake of great pain. Watch this documentary with someone you love, and be prepared for magic.”

Larry Dossey, MD  author of “Healing Words”, “Reinventing Medicine”

I have shown ‘Turning’ at national conferences throughout the US and Canada and Larry is right. There is real MAGIC in Turning Toward the Morning….I have seen it so many times.

Turning Toward the Morning is available here

The symbolic language again: SOMEWHERE OUT THERE was Jessica’s favorite song the year before she died

The American Indian Film Festival



The American Indian Film Festival is the world’s longest-running exposition showcasing independent films of U.S. American Indians and First Nations peoples of Canada. For the last 43years, AIFI has served and celebrated generations of Indian filmmakers, performing artists and audiences, with the best of the most current Indian Cinema while drawing into the circle of Hollywood celebrities, industry professionals, student filmmakers, seasoned festival-goers and newcomers traveling to San Francisco from near and far.

Celebrating its 43rd annual, the San Francisco based festival has become a trusted guide to contemporary American Indian life. A reliable, celebratory and empowering event, the Festival’s array of programs – films, workshops, receptions, awards show – work to replace stereotypes with authentic representations of Native traditions, history and present-day life.

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Cindy and Andy Pickard filming Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross for the documentary, We’re Almost Home Now

My son Andy and I have made probably 20 documentary films since 1989. The first ones were on AIDS and Hospice, loss/grief, and Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. Then we made a couple on aging and later still, we made 3 on Native American Visions and Teachings.  Most recently we started a documentary on the US Prison system.

These documentaries are a beautiful and powerful way to communicate a message but the process of actually filming and editing them is VERY difficult. I’ve often been disappointed to find that some of the people [not all] that we filmed and whose stories we told, were not really the heroes we had thought they were. Sometimes they made demands: they wanted to be paid even though we are doing them a favor by telling their story and even though WE never got paid, some wanted the title of the film changed and threatened to drop out if they didn’t get their way. Or at the last minute, they wanted a photo taken out because they decided they really didn’t like it.

And then finding the right music is a whole project in itself and finding money or trying to is nearly impossible. When we were filming hospice patients, if we had worried and waited to get enough money together, the people whose stories we were telling, would have been long since dead.

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Noel Starblanket at age 24, was the youngest chief ever of all Canadian Indians.

In 2004 we began work on a film which we eventually called Starblanket A Spirit Journey, the story of Chief Noel Starblanket who became the youngest chief ever of all Canadian Indians. We filmed mostly in Saskatchewan and a little in Texas and I’m not going into the details of how difficult it was to film but just to say that we had no money and not even a camera when we arrived in Saskatchewan to begin filming. We had to hope and pray that a non profit organization in Regina, SK would allow us to use a camera….and they did.

Here are some stills and photos from the film.



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Chief Noel Starblanket/UNITY RIDE


Chief Noel Starblanket at his family cemetary

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Legendary Cree Chief, Robert Smallboy


Robert Smallboy as a child

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Cree boy at Starblanket Reserve-Saskatchewan

When we finished ‘Starblanket’, we entered it in the American Indian Film Festival, not expecting much, but as time went along, it began to seem like we might make it to the finals. At least we had made it into the ‘Official Selection’ category.

So my son, daughter-in law and I made the trip to San Francisco, thinking it would be an adventure no matter what. aiffAnd what an adventure it was when after watching clips from all the nominated films roll across the big screen, we heard “For BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT, the winner is Starblanket A Spirit Journey/Cindy and Andy Pickard.”

We’ve won other awards but this was the most exciting and also a great honor, because most of the winning films are from Native American producers and directors.

aiff award

star cover38STARBLANKET A SPIRIT JOURNEY IS AVAILABLE HERE. Included with the DVD is the fabulous CD Soundtrack which came very close to winning ‘Best Compilation’ in the Native American Music Awards.

Ricardo Anglada

THE MIRACLE/ We just cancelled out everything the doctor said. What he said did not make it fact.”

ricardo nyOn October 26th, 2013, during the intermission of a performance in Laredo, TX, Ricardo Anglada suffered a severe ischemic stroke that affected his cerebellum and brain stem. Doctors told him and his family that he wouldn’t be able to walk, talk, eat, and breathe on his own. They said he would never be the same…….We had faith God was going to fully restore him. We just canceled out everything the doctor said. What he said did not make it fact.”

~Rick Anglada

Not too long after I moved to New Mexico [8 years ago] I got the idea that I would like to give some presentations for the Police Departments in the area.

I had shown our documentary, Turning Toward the Morning to all kinds of audiences including clients of drug and alcohol rehab centers and I thought it could also work well for the police. It deals with death… from a car accident as well as suicide, painful situations that police officers often face.

I live about 2 hours from Taos, NM and I thought that Taos would be a good place to start. Also I had a friend, Ed Cardenas who was related to the Chief of Police there so it would be easy to get an appointment.

rick anglada

Rick Anglada former Chief of Police, Taos, New Mexico              Former Lieutenant- New Mexico State Police

Rick Anglada became the Chief of Police in Taos after retiring from several years with The New Mexico State Police.

When Ed and I walked into Rick’s office, we found him sitting on an exercise ball behind his desk. He was friendly and welcoming and his office felt friendly too.–he had a Superman lunch box that his kids had once given him and I think there was a Superman poster too and lots of photos on the wall and and inspirational quotes taped to his desk.

He seemed interested in the presentations- He told us that there was nothing taught at The Police Academy about the emotional/psychological side of dealing with death and he thought the presentations could be helpful for his officers.

But the main thing we talked about in that visit, were his kids, in particular his son Ricardo. ricardo before sRicardo, he told us, was one of the top flamenco guitarists in the United States,

He asked if he could play some of Ricardo’s music for us-he had several CDs and he told us that the music made him cry. What a most unusual Chief of Police I was thinking, really what an unusual man!

After we listened to the music, I gave Rick a copy of the DVD and told him I would check back with him… but not long after that visit, Rick Anglada resigned from the Taos Police Department and moved with his family to Albuquerque.

And then it was a long time before I heard anything about Rick. When I did, it was not about Rick but about his son, Ricardo: From a mutual friend, I heard that while performing in Laredo, Texas, Ricardo Anglada had suffered a severe stroke and the prognosis was poor. He was 29 years old.

Through friends and Facebook and some newspaper articles, I tried to keep updated on how Ricardo was doing but all I could learn was that he was recovering very slowly. He was first flown to the Stroke Unit ricardo hospitalat the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque and then, after a period of rehabilitation at UNMH, his family had brought him home.

Nearly a year passed and I got few updates but in July of 2014, I emailed Rick to ask if we could dedicate our newest documentary to Ricardo. We always dedicate our films to someone and Ricardo Anglada seemed right for this particular film which is, among other things, about the music and the art of northern New Mexico, as well as living off the land.

Rick was happy about the dedication and he told me that Ricardo had been making progress though he still had a long road ahead of him. ricardo-acuRicardo’s family had used a combination of faith, alternative therapies-acupuncture, massage, healthy food, time spent in nature and a huge prayer chain to bring about his healing.

So my son and I started working on a dedication for Ricardo and then I got an email from Rick:

“I’m wondering if Ricardo should play a little piece of music too. To show how far he had come.”

I thought this was a great idea and told Rick so. We were planning a premiere of our film, ON THE LAND ~Together with the Earthposter at the Taos Center for the Arts and  were expecting positive media coverage. And the Angladas had a lot of friends and family in Taos so it seemed the perfect, welcoming place for Ricardo’s first public performance since the stroke.

Rick wrote again

“Ricardo is working on a piece to play. It will be a great testament to healthy living and getting back to the basics.”


It was a magical night, that night of the premiere — the auditorium was filled with probably 250 people. There were some speakers, a very young drummer from Taos Pueblo and a band playing high energy Spanish music.

And then Rick Anglada talked about his son. He explained the cause of the stroke: Ricardo had often popped his neck because of the position he was constantly in, playing guitar and that night in Laredo, when he popped his neck he had ruptured an artery.

And he talked about the doctor who had originally treated Ricardo and how this doctor had likened his condition to an electric cord with the plug cut.

Then he introduced Ricardo.

And Ricardo, the professional flamenco guitarist, dressed all in black, came from the back of the stage andricardo _taos sat down and played so perfectly to an emotional audience in awe, an audience who gave him a standing ovation that went on and on and an audience who will never forget that night that they witnessed a miracle.

I haven’t kept in close touch with Rick or Ricardo since that evening but I know that Ricardo is playing regularly ricardo flamenco fabwith his original flamenco group just as his father wrote in the dedication: “He will be back with greater fervor and deeper musicality because of what he has gone through.”

FLAMENCO 2You can watch Ricardo perform in Albuquerque and Santa Fe and sometimes you can catch Rick Anglada in an episode of ‘Breaking Bad’ or ‘Better Call Saul’.

So in the words of the prophets:

In a Sacred Hoop of Life, there is no beginning and no ending.


Below is the dedication we did for Ricardo and also a version of Jessica Locke’s favorite song, ‘Somewhere Out There’ which she often sang….the year before she died…

On The Land – dedication only from Andy Pickard on Vimeo.