It’s Not Important..a very short story

mayameLast night I was talking to a longtime friend in Texas. We talk often about what’s happening in our lives at the moment. Nancy is a very happy, positive person and it always cheers me up immensely to talk to her.

Last night we were talking about the things that are important to us and those that are not.

And she told me this story, part of which I knew.

In the late 80s, she and her husband Jim had an embroidery shop, a very successful one in Austin, Tx.

They embroidered jackets for some of the Austin musicians and they also did a lot of monogramming.

Their shop was a fun place to go to because they always brought their three dogs to work and Jim was a happy person like Nancy. Their big sewing machines were always running and both Jim and Nancy loved to talk and they talked at the same time so it was sometimes hard to hear but it didn’t matter… was the energy of the place that made you want to be there and then too, they were soul mates and so happy to be together.

But early one December Jim got sick…he thought he had the flu but it was a brain tumor and very quickly, he had surgery. He was given 45 days to live and in a matter of weeks, he was under hospice care so he could stay at home.

Nancy, under tremendous pressure, kept their shop running by herself. Jim, at home by himself, was constantly in her thoughts and then too, she was she worried about money-the shop was their only income… and what would happen to the shop…she knew she couldn’t keep it going without Jim.

One evening she came home, exhausted from work and she sat on the floor next to Jim’s bed and started talking, telling him about her day, her thoughts and fears….

And as she looked up at him, he put finger to his lips and said “’s not important.” And she realized it wasn’t.

Last night after Nancy told me this story, I remembered the times I had gone to visit my hospice patients back when I was working for Hospice Austin. I thought I had a lot of problems then and often, as I drove to see these patients, I would be worrying, feeling angry or stressed about something.

But as soon as I  walked into their rooms, all my worries, my fears, my negative thoughts  went away and I understood at the deepest level “It’s not Important.”jason breathing tube 2

Nancy, whose story I just told, has a great it here

I’ve put this film clip up in a previous post but I’m putting it up a second time because “it is important”


PAY IT FORWARD/Somewhere Over the Rainbow

“Even the smallest person can change the course of the future”

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

I started writing this blog for 2 main reasons: I wanted to share some experiences, stories, quotes, photos, film clips and music that I thought might be helpful or inspiring to others and I also wanted to bring awareness to RITES OF PASSAGE [originally called AIDS Care and Assistance], the non profit organization I founded in 1988, 28 years ago this month.aids article:mary

I founded RITES OF PASSAGE to provide home care for people with AIDS and other terminally ill patients and to offer education on death and dying. This we have done to the very best of our ability.

pig nose

joe:amputeeFile_01 lee-hug You can read about RITES OF PASSAGE here or on our website

I love the movie, Pay it Forward and so for all these years, we have lived mainly by the ‘pay it forward’ philosophy in that we have provided home care and help for countless patients at no cost to them and the films we have been made, have not been for the purpose of making money but rather to bring more understanding, compassion and inspiration into this world. Between Now and Forever 041Our films have reached many hundreds of peopleangels article 2 and in turn these people have taken the messages from the films to others….ahhpm audienceTen months ago RITES OF PASSAGE lost all its funding very suddenly and it has been a HUGE test of faith and a struggle to survive since then.

I have never been any good at raising money, I don’t understand how to do it……But today I had this thought..I always like to do something  for anyone who helps RITES OF PASSAGE or myself and so I thought another way to continue this pay it forward philosophy is: whenever anyone makes a contribution to us, we will pay it forward by sending one of our DVDs or something relevant from POOH’S STORE to an organization or individual who will benefit from it.

An example might be donating our Turning Toward the Morning DVD to a church, hospice or bereavement group.

Or a cross in memory of a friend or family member

or a poster to a Native American organization

So if you would like to participate you can make a contribution: here
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and you can email me at: if there is an individual or organization, where you would like us to pay it forward

Below is a really beautiful, kind of pay it forward film clip with the music of Israel [‘Iz’] Over the Rainbow










rb endless blue

We depend on nature not only for our physical survival. We also need nature to show us the way home, the way out of the prison of our own minds. We got lost in doing, thinking, remembering, anticipating – lost in a maze of complexity and a world of problems.

We have forgotten what rocks, plants, and animals still know. We have forgotten how to be – to be still, to be ourselves, to be where life is: Here and Now.

Whenever you bring your attention to anything natural, anything that has come into existence without human intervention, you step out of the prison of conceptualized thinking and, to some extent, participate in the state of connectedness with Being in which everything natural still exists.

To bring your attention to a stone, a tree, or an animal does not mean to think about it, but simply to perceive it, to hold it in your awareness.

Something of its essence then transmits itself to you. You can sense how still it is, and in doing so the same stillness arises within you.

-Eckhart Tolle

I have not felt much peace in my life lately-there hasn’t been much of a resting place -but I realized yesterday that really, I’ve never felt totally at peace since I was a child, playing on the beaches of lake Michigan……File_01 beach copy

I try not to worry about things, try to stay in the now, try not to think… as I know that’s the key to inner peace and the primary teaching of all the spiritual least all those who I’ve listened to and followed…

But my mind, ” the voice in the head” is always talking and it’s not a very positive voice either.. I’m always in a hurry.. always worrying..mostly now about money, whether I’ll make it through another month.. and then feeling I should complete several things before, as I heard someone say once, “before I check out.” So many people in my age group are have died recently: David Bowie, Glen Frey of the Eagles, Native American activist, John Trudell, my generation…

But late yesterday afternoon, I was sitting in front of the windows in my living roomlace and snow and I was watching my wolfdog, Shiloh playing in the snowshiloh close…it had snowed the night before…snowed:moon jan 26 and the snow was blowing and he was trying to catch it and he was also trying to catch the ravens…RAVEN:PINE:BLUEthey tease him, flying very slow and hopping around, eating his food..but he never catches them…shiloh gold eyes

So I was watching all of this and suddenly I realized that I was feeling that same sense of peace and magic that I had once felt as a child…the sun coming through the windows was really warm [I live off the grid and even though it was very cold and wintry outside, the sun warmed the living room] and I felt I could sit there forever watching the blowing snow, the wolf and the ravens..

And I remembered..

As a young child, I spent the summers with my grandparents in their summer cottage on the shores of lake Michigan….lm waterMy childhood was a painful one..filled with loss, death, and sadness..but the summers in Michigan gave me what I needed to keep going.

There was no sense of time then…I think because I was so totally connected with nature..

One summer when I was about 10, my cousin and I rescued hundreds of monarch butterflies that had washed up on the beach and every summer, we spent hundreds of hours searching for and collecting stones that we called ‘pretty stones’.pretty stones

my beach We often hiked with our uncle who showed us magical and beautiful places on different inland lakesMYSTICAL HAMLIN and in the dunes…rb dunes

Listening, on foggy days, to the foghorn in the lighthouse which was not far from our cottage..rb lighthouse copy was beautiful and mysterious and we never minded that those days we usually stayed inside by the fire..

So everything was magical and beautiful until one summer, some of that peace ended because I became a teenager, martha and meturning more toward..all that teenagers turn to..

My grandfather loved to sit in his rocking chair on the large screened in porch that faced the lake. badger sunsetHe could watch the big car ferries coming in from their long trip across the lake and he knew by their whistles which ferry it was :the Badger, the Spartan, the Midland,the Flint….bye badger:lighthouse

He wanted me to, as I always had, to sit with him but that summer I was restless..I had a boyfriend and I wanted to be with him…I hadn’t lost my love for the lake or for nature but I had lost the peace of childhood...

Yesterday, that peace kind of came back watching the wolf and the ravens and so I think it’s like Eckhart Tolle says in the quote above We have forgotten what rocks, plants, and animals still know. We have forgotten how to be – to be still, to be ourselves, to be where life is: Here and Now….”

This clip below is of the S.S. Badger, the car-ferry which still crosses Lake Michigan, going from Ludington, Mi to Manitowoc, has been a symbol in a way for our family of crossing from one life to another…and the sound of it’s whistle will always take me back to my earliest memories of summers..beach family there on that lake…



Can Art be Medicine?

“Even though some people might think art isn’t the same as medicine, it was my medicine and I think without it I just would have still been sick.”

Stephanie Paseornek

Writer, Heart transplant recipient

 I’ve written about this subject a lot lately in previous posts, because I’ve always used the arts extensively in my work and I’ve always found them to be profoundly healing:

words we speak memorial

With Hospice patients: Encouraging them to paint, draw, write poetry, make audio tapes or videos ….films of the dying:peter

In an art class we created for our AIDS patients which culminated in an exhibit of their work at the University of Texas,File_01 joe:aids

In presentations I’ve done for Hospice and Death Education organizations where creating memorials was part of the presentation DANNY BOY MEMORIALlynn memorialWith our photo/oral history exhibits matthew for sah copy copy


Matthew Rogan with his mom and Sister Diane who counseled him, at a presentation of “Between Now and Forever” in which his story [see above collage] was a part   Our Lady of Lourdes  West Islip, NY

 *A Child’s Grief/September 11th Story  now belongs to the Houston Firefighters Memorial Houston, Texas

and in our documentary films.

So today, I got an email today from an organization called THE FOUNDATION FOR ART AND HEALING  which said
Dear Cindy,

Thank you for reaching out to us. We are looking into your project, and seeing how prison reform might fit within our mission to explore the ways creative expression can help heal. Thank you for your important and moving work. We will be in touch.


 The Foundation for Art & Healing

I looked up their website and found the short clip below-I liked it a lot..looking at Art and Healing from a little different point of view


St. Vincent of Sheepshead Bay and a bag of dog food


-from the movie, St Vincent

I hear these words so often but most of the time, they’re just words with nothing behind them…. and I don’t think that saints are the ones with halos and silver wings…I think saints are found in the most unlikely places, probably more often among the poor than the rich.  After all saints, the real ones are “human beings, very human beings”

I posted this film clip once before…but it’s so meaningful to me that I’m posting it again…so more people can see it.

 *A personal observation:

I started writing this blog about 2 and a half months ago because I wanted to write something that was inspirational, hopeful, beautiful and educational. I wanted to share photos, quotes, experiences, stories and film clips that I hoped would be meaningful to others.

But I also started this because my non profit, Rites of Passage which I founded 28 years ago this month, lost every bit of its funding a year ago. It looked like it would come back and we could survive but it has not. I founded RITES OF PASSAGE in 1988 to provide home care for terminally ill people and since then we have made major contributions in the field of death and dying education and much more..way much more [you can read about some of our work by clicking on the link above]

So I hoped when I wrote about all of this, that people would see the need, appreciate the enormous amount of work  and want to help in some way or another….and a few people have, a very few.

 On all the pages of this blog are these categories: HOME, ABOUT, POOH’S STORE, RITES OF PASSAGE, OUR FILMS and HELPING and I am able to check the stats everyday and see how many visitors and views there are, what country they are from and what categories they are viewing.

Quite a few people are reading the posts and many tell me how much they enjoy them which makes me happy and feel like I’m doing the right thing. But in these past two and a half months since I began writing, people have visited all the pages/categories except HELPING. I think at the very most, maybe 3 people have visited HELPING…it seems like for most, the word is somehow distasteful and the very idea disagreeable…that is until they themselves need help…and regardless of how much money, prestige, fame,insurance etc one has…the need for help will come in one form or another..sooner or later it always does.

I keep remembering a story Elisabeth Kubler-Ross once told me. She told me that had been asked to help a family whose child was dying. [this happened quite often, both with adults and children] This family lived across the country and though they were very wealthy, Elisabeth, paid for her own plane ticket.

Several months later, the child’s father came to visit Elisabeth at her farm in Virginia. Though she hadn’t asked directly, she had believed that the father, in appreciation, would make a contribution to the non profit, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Center.

No contribution did he offer. Rather he brought her a bag of dog food.

For our world today..We’re Almost Home Now

Baby SebastianWhen we have done all the work we were sent to do, we are allowed to shed our body, which imprisons our soul like a cocoon encloses the future butterfly.” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

As the world today is continuously overwhelmed with loss, grief, death, I’m writing about two award winning, documentary films that may be helpful, comforting or offer another way of looking at all of this pain . *I will do a post about the second film, Turning Toward the Morning in the next couple of days.

filming ekr

Cindy and Andy Pickard filming Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Since 1990, my son, Andy Pickard/IMAGICA PICTURES and I /RITES OF PASSAGE have been making documentary films. Many of them have been on death and dying and these have dealt with the loss of a child-Turning Toward the Morning, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s work with dying children-We’re Almost Home Now, Near Death Experience-As it is in Heaven, Hospice-Walking Us Home and loss of a spouse [husband in this case]-Driving to Utopia. You can read about all of these as well as our other films at Our Films.


Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and her work with dying children


Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, MDFile_01 ekr:khamala was a Swiss-American psychiatrist, pioneer in death & dying studies and the author of the groundbreaking book On Death and Dying.on d and d cover

In 1990, when my son and I and a small film crew, traveled to Elisabeth’s farm in Headwaters, Virginia,ekr kitchen we expected to do a documentary on her life. Elisabeth however, had other ideas.ekr film:smoking She wanted the film to be about her work with dying children….briggs later portrait and so We’re Almost Home Now is focused on her work with terminally ill children as well as with her work related to children who died in accidents, were murdered or committed suicide.

Elisabeth’s work with death and dying had begun when she visited Majdanek Concentration Camp shortly after the liberation and where she saw trainloads of baby shoes majdanek shoesand drawings of butterflies scratched on the walls of the children’s barracks and so We’re Almost Home Now begins..

Elisabeth emphasized the need to pay attention to the symbolic language of children, not only their words but also their drawings and poetry. As I did my part of the editing on this documentary, I kept a book of poems and drawings of these children who were included in the film.

kevin's rainbow

Rainbow drawn by 8 year old, Kevin Haro during the time he was dying of leukemia

dear mr god

Written by 8 year old Jessica Locke, very shortly before she was killed in a car accident

Eliza Thomas was killed along with three other teenage girls in what came to be known as ‘The Yogurt Shop Murders’ which happened in Austin,TX in 1990. The store was robbed, the girls were shot and then the shop was set on fire.

yogurt shop

I Can’t Believe It’s Yogurt Shop Austin Tx

I interviewed Eliza’s mother, Maria not long after the murders. It was one of the most painful interviews I have ever done however Maria, wanted her daughter to be part of the film, wanted her to be remembered and she gave me some photos of Eliza to copy and a book of poems Eliza had written in the years previous to her death…I think this poem is particularly profound especially the last line..eliza photo:poem


Elisabeth found in her work with terminally ill children that they were much more accepting and at peace with death than adults….pig nose

Children who die young are some of our greatest teachers. We are allowed to die when we have taught what we came to teach and when we have learned what we came to learn.-Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

kevin and mom smile

As we worked to finish the film in time for an opening screening which we had planned ahead of time, we still had no title and I was really beginning to worry. We had to have a title.

cliff and maryDuring that time, I often visited Cliff and Mary Locke, whose daughter Jessica is included in the documentary and one day, not long before the screening, Mary reminded me again of the last words she had spoken to Jessica.

The family had been returning home after church and Jessica was in the backseat. She had been unusually tired that morning and had asked her mother if she could take off her seat belt so she could lie down and sleep. They were close to home when Mary said “Wake up, Honey, we’re almost home now.” and at that moment they were hit head on by a drunk driver. Cliff and Mary survived and Jessica was killed instantly, something she had already understood unconsciously and which can be seen through her drawings.


Jessica Locke’s drawing of a hot air balloon floating up to the sky…colors and numbers are symbolic and significant. Jessica’s parents found this on her bed the day after she was killed. She had drawn it the morning of the accident.

I knew then then what the title of our film would be…ALMOST HOME ARTICLE

We’re Almost Home Now has been widely used by nursing schools, bereavement centers, hospices, hospitals, universities etc. It is, I believe, the only full length documentary on Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. It is excellent as a training film for hospice volunteers and for organizations such as Stephen Ministers. It has brought peace and comfort to many, many parents who have lost a child and to others who are themselves facing death…


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Maple Syrup for the Brain, One Heart & Marijuana

BOB MARLEY HERB...One Love! What about the one heart? One Heart!
What about – ? Let’s get together and feel all right
As it was in the beginning (One Love!);
So shall it be in the end (One Heart!),
All right!

-Bob Marley from ONE LOVE

I’ve written once already about marijuana: Life is Good & What I Learned from the Drug Bust and as I said before, I don’t smoke though I’ve never cared if others did. I never cared one way or another or even thought about it but there was a so called ‘drug bust’ in my community and it was so wrong and so evil that I decided to look into the facts about marijuana and what I found in my research was very Enlightening!marijuana leaf 2

This isn’t however just about marijuana. It’s about waking up, looking for the truth in EVERYTHING, disconnecting from the mainstream ‘news’ that puts out enormous amounts, gigantic garbage loads of propaganda.

Just asking the simple questions such as why is alcohol is so heavily promoted and continuously advertised when it so clearly causes an enormous amount of death-accidents, violence, crime, illness etc.?

Why is it perfectly acceptable to take all the prescription drugs that almost everyone seems to be using and which have all sorts of dangerous side effects, but marijuana which is known and has always been known, to help in healing many diseases-why is it mostly still illegal in many places yet the  prescription drugs are so readily available?

“The use of cannabis as medicine is not new, in fact, there are references to the use of marijuana as a medicine that date back to 2,000 years BC.”

Why are US soldiers guarding the opium fields in Afghanistan yet here in the US, many people are sent to prison/jail for marijuana possession?

Usually there are a few key words that apply: MONEY and POWER-POWER OVER THE PEOPLE and then there’s something else:

dave & me-petroform site copyA few years ago when I was in Canada working on a film, the Anishnabe Elder I was working with explained to me why the governments had set out to destroy the First Nations People. It was not he said, just that they wanted their land…It was because the First Nations People were Spiritually Connected and therefore could not be so easily enslaved.  The ones ‘in power’ must always destroy/get rid of those who refuse to worship materialism and who think for themselves…the prophets who come in many different forms.

“Today is a good day to die”-Crazy Horse

dead sea ceremony“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

Below are a few facts about alcohol, followed by a few facts about marijuana and then some relevant film clips that I found:


The United States is on track to have its deadliest traffic year since 2007, the National Safety Council says, with nearly 19,000 people killed as a result of motor vehicle accidents between January and June—a 14 percent increase over the same period last year. The number of injuries and the costs associated with traffic accidents also rose significantly, according to estimates from NSC’s statistics department released Monday  NEWSWEEK

Because alcohol use is legal and pervasive, it plays a particularly strong role in the relationship to crime and other social problems. Alcohol is a factor in 40% of all violent crimes today, and according to the Department of Justice, 37% of almost 2 million convicted offenders currently in jail, report that they were drinking at the time of their arrest.

Alcohol, more than any illegal drug, was found to be closely associated with violent crimes, including murder, rape, assault, child and spousal abuse. About 3 million violent crimes occur each year in which victims perceive the offender to have been drinking and statistics related to alcohol use by violent offenders generally show that about half of all homicides and assaults are committed when the offender, victim, or both have been drinking. Among violent crimes, with the exception of robberies, the offender is far more likely to have been drinking than under the influence of other drugs. NCADD

marijuana leaf 2MARIJUANA
When Colorado cautiously legalized recreational marijuana, critics strongly warned it would lead to more crime throughout the state. But, in what could easily be considered a big slap-on-the-face to all marijuana haters, the overall crime rate actually plummeted. As reported by the state’s official website, crime data for Denver, the hub of legal pot sales in the state, shows that murders, assaults, rapes, burglaries, and other violent have crimes actually declined during the first three months of the year, compared with the same period for 2013.
Read more

Medical Marijuana: Nothing is New

The use of cannabis as medicine is not new, in fact, there are references to the use of marijuana as a medicine that date back to 2,000 years BC.  Marijuana use hasn’t been confined to just one geographical area either – there are global records of its use.  In China, it was used to treat conditions such as malaria, constipation and rheumatism.

You might be surprised to find that it wasn’t just ancient peoples who used the drug; marijuana remained in the United States pharmacopoeia until 1941. Up until that time, cannabis was freely available in shops and, in the UK, Queen Victoria, that most conservative of royals, used cannabis to alleviate her menstrual cramps.marijuana leaf 2

Medical Marijuana: The Truth

The truth of the matter is we don’t know exactly how many illnesses and symptoms that the medical use of marijuana could alleviate. This list will continue to grow as we discover more conditions that can potentially be treated with cannabis.

We believe Medical Marijuana will help these conditions

And I’m not planning to start smoking myself. I’m happy as I am drinking a small amount of wine [mixed with orange juice] in the evening  but I will, as soon as I get my growers license from the NM Department of growing a few plants in my greenhousegreenhouse:angel:nov 10 for the Brown Piglet who has been diagnosed with PTSD and will be getting a medical card.

So, actually I’m really not promoting marijuana but I am very interested in finding the truth, looking into what is really true about EVERYTHING and going beyond the propaganda because it’s time to do that!

Below are some  related video clips. Bob Marley is a little hard to understand but he makes a powerful statement. The last video, ONE LOVE I included because it is the way life can be…was meant to be.

A Rhinestone Bracelet and a Bottle of Perfume

After the children left, she cried for at least an hour. On that very day, she quit teaching reading, writing and arithmetic. Instead, she began to teach children.

Below is a story  written by Elizabeth Silance Ballard in 1974

It may or may not be a true story and it may seem overly sentimental to some but it really doesn’t matter…I know it to be true in theory from my own life experience…me 1rst grade

And everybody, almost everybody, remembers those people, maybe only a few, who encouraged them in the difficult times, who made all the difference..and those who…made things more difficult with their harsh and cruel words…I think looking back though.. it all works together

For me, these are the people I remember whose caring, love and encouragement helped me on my journey:

Wrighty [Mrs Wright], the woman who took care of my brother and me before our mother died and after..After school, day after day, she faithfully drove me to the pasture where I kept my horse Smokey and sat in the car for hours while I rode. She and Smokey brought me through the lonely times. smokey and meLater in my life:

The doctor at the Hollins College/University Infirmaryhollins who took care of me when I was so sick with was very soon after my brother’s suicide and somehow she seemed to understand though I don’t remember any words that she spoke but only her kindness. Much later I found out that she herself was dying of cancer. I don’t remember her name but I’ll always remember her.

JOHN BRADSHAWJohn Bradshaw, my counselor for several years when I was at my lowest point… who really listened to me and who, even though he was a drug and alcohol counselor, said to me, when I told him I only had the desire to drink after an AA meeting “Then don’t go, it’s not right for you.” Because I knew that he really listened to me, cared and understood, I was able to make huge changes in my life.

File_ekr at workshopElisabeth Kubler-Ross at my first 5 day workshop who simply said to me in the kindest voice, when I told her I was a failure…”You are not a failure” Very simple but never forgotten like the doctor at the infirmary and John Bradshaw..people who really listened and cared…

A few people who provided the opposite in my life:

Mrs Roberts,  my 5th grade math teacher. It was the year after my mother’s death and rather than treating me with some compassion, she took every opportunity to humiliate me in class. I was already extremely shy and barely functioning, still she seemed to want destroy what was left.. As a result I missed most of fifth grade and to this day I HATE math.

My Aunt Tan, my mother’s sister, who took every opportunity also to take out her cruelty on me often telling me that I was a disgrace to my mother’s memory and that my eyebrows were my only good feature…..she made her mark, her words are not forgotten but I moved on…

So here’s the story

As she stood in front of her 5th grade class on the very first day of school, she told the children an untruth. Like most teachers, she looked at her students and said that she loved them all the same. However, that was impossible, because there in the front row, slumped in his seat, was a little boy named Teddy Stoddard.

Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he did not play well with the other children, that his clothes were messy and that he constantly needed a bath. In addition, Teddy could be unpleasant. It got to the point where Mrs. Thompson would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold X’s and then putting a big “F” at the top of his papers.

At the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child’s past records and she put Teddy’s off until last. However,when she reviewed his file, she was in for a surprise.

Teddy’s first grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is a bright child with a ready laugh. He does his work neatly and has good manners…. he is a joy to be around..”

His second grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is an excellent student, well liked by his classmates, but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle.”

His third grade teacher wrote, “His mother’s death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best, but his father doesn’t show much interest and his home life will soon affect him if some steps aren’t taken.”

Teddy’s fourth grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is withdrawn and doesn’t show much interest in school. He doesn’t have many friends and he sometimes sleeps in class.”

By now, Mrs. Thompson realized the problem and she was ashamed of herself.. She felt even worse when her students brought her Christmas presents, wrapped in beautiful ribbons and bright paper, except for Teddy’s. His present was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper that he got from a grocery bag. Mrs. Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents.

Some of the children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing, and a bottle that was one-quarter full of perfume….. But she stifled the children’s laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and dabbing some of the perfume on her wrist. Teddy Stoddard stayed after school that day just long enough to say, “Mrs. Thompson, today you smelled just like my Mom used to.”

After the children left, she cried for at least an hour. On that very day, she quit teaching reading, writing and arithmetic. Instead, she began to teach children.

Mrs. Thompson paid particular attention to Teddy. As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive. The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded. By the end of the year,

Teddy had become one of the smartest children in the class and, despite her lie that she would love all the children the same, Teddy became one of her “teacher’s pets.”

A year later, she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling her that she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life. Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy. He then wrote that he had finished high school, third in his class, and she was still the best teacher he ever had in life.

Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, he’d stayed in school, had stuck with it, and would soon graduate from college with the highest of honors. He assured Mrs. Thompson that she was still the best and favorite teacher he had ever had in his whole life.

Then four more years passed and yet another letter came. This time he explained that after he got his bachelor’s degree, he decided to go a little further. The letter explained that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had. But now his name was a little longer….

The letter was signed, Theodore F. Stoddard, MD.

The story does not end there. You see, there was yet another letter that Spring. Teddy said he had met this girl and was going to be married. He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit at the wedding in the place that was usually reserved for the mother of the groom.

Of course, Mrs. Thompson did. And guess what? She wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing. Moreover, she made sure she was wearing the perfume that Teddy remembered his mother wearing on their last Christmas together.

They hugged each other, and Dr. Stoddard whispered in Mrs. Thompson’s ear, “Thank you Mrs. Thompson for believing in me. Thank you so much for making me feel important and showing me that I could make a difference.”

Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered back. She said, “Teddy, you have it all wrong. You were the one who taught me that I could make a difference. I didn’t know how to teach until I met you! “

(For those of you who don’t know, Teddy Stoddard is the Dr. at Iowa Methodist in Des Moines that has the Stoddard Cancer Wing.)

Just try to make a difference in someone’s life today? tomorrow? just”do it”.

Random acts of kindness, I think they call it?

smallest person sign

And here’s a film clip from PAY IT FORWARD that seems to me to be related in some way:


More than anything I could possess, acquire or attain in this lifetime, I want to live like this…..sunset:rb:mich.jpg

“Your inner journey only has one: the step you are taking right now. As you become more deeply aware of this one step, you realize that it already contains within itself all the other steps as well as the destination. This one step then becomes transformed into an expression of perfection, an act of great beauty and quality. File_11 chloe :jungleIt will have taken you into Being, and the light of Being will shine through it. This is both the purpose and the fulfillment of your inner journey, the journey into yourself.” – Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now

File_05 pip butterfly

“It is our purpose and destiny to bring a new dimension into this world by living in conscious oneness with the totality and conscious alignment with universal intelligence.”
– Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth




-Willy Groffman, Solar Builder and Juggler

from ON THE LAND~Together with the Earth [working title as The Pioneers of El Norte]

I live off the grid but I never intended to……

more tomatos on steps

Before I moved/escaped from Texas 7 years ago, I had been looking for a place I could afford in northern New Mexico. My desire to live in New Mexico had begun many years before on a trip my husband [at the time] and I and our young son had taken.. to the Taos Ski Valley. I had noticed on that trip that everyone I saw looked unusually healthy and happy and it still felt like the hippie era..a happy time for me..where I felt I belonged.

So as my property in Texas was for sale, I started looking for a place on line and making trips to Taos, to meet with a realtor but I found nothing that I could afford, nothing that seemed right. Then the time began to grow short as my place in Texas, after years of being on the market, sold…

drew land tree

Vanderpool, Texas

And then seemingly out of nowhere, I found a place online..not listed in was almost hidden…my road in snow

I called a friend in Santa Fe who was a great at making deals [something I am most definitely not good at] and told him I had seen the perfect place..could he help me get it?

“You can’t afford it” he told me  “And anyway, it’s photo voltaic”. I had no idea what photo voltaic meant but I didn’t care either. It was the right place and I knew it from the photos I saw online.los hueros rd

So my friend made the deal, I got the property and I found out what photovoltaic meant.

It was different at first..for one thing I had moved here alone, leaving my family and friends behind in Texas and I knew no one.sunrise 12:20:11 I was living on 31 forested acres in the mountains and Winter came quickly and with it a A LOT of snow..winter morning nov 30 10 that first year….deck:snow:aprilcorgis:deep snow 2

But I learned and I never thought of it as a sacrifice. Someone had said to me before I moved: “You’re going to hate building fires in the wood stove all the time” but I love it. Really there’s nothing better than sitting in front of a blazing fire in the woodstove, on a cold winter evening.shimmering woodstove with fire

beautiful woodstove:ht

The solar system I inherited was not in the best of shape..there was no meter to tell when the electricity was getting low so it would often go out suddenly and I would have to start the old generator I inherited. In time when I could afford it, I upgraded the system Mark-5and now it runs the main housebeautiful pink livingroom and the hobbit/home theater little done looking outbrown piglet

It runs my computer, the dvd players, the lights, the washing machine, the well and the refrigerator.

I don’t have TV but the system could run that also…you just have to watch the meter which I now have, and pay attention to the sun..there’s a reason, I found out, why so many ancient cultures worship the sun.

I have propane for the stove and the on demand hot water heater. There’s a lot of wood- ponderosa pine on the land and it needs to be thinned from time to time for forest fire prevention…so there’s wood for the wood stoves.jody wood 2 The only utility I pay is October, I paid $143 which will last me til early summer probably.

So living off the grid is a way of life and a way that more people may come to appreciate as systems fail…and like it or not, they are failing.

“To [be able to] remain on the land, to remain in your traditional cultures without migrating to the industrial complex which we’ve seen for the last 50 years…. That’s the migratory pattern. Everybody moving back to the megalopolises, the cities, 20 million, 30 million, I don’t know. But they’re ridiculous…. people can’t live that way. It creates more poverty, more insanity and more pollution. So here’s an alternative.”

-Willy Groffman, Solar Builder and Juggler

from ON THE LAND~Together with the Earth

last nites rain-roadGREENHOUSE GOOD FRIDAYeli:tilly

el torro almost 3 months 2


 Our documentary, ON THE LAND~Together with the Earth has a lot of helpful information on sustainable living… plus humor, art, music and wisdom!on_the_land_DVD Buy Now Button