Rather than ON THE LAND, IT’S IN THE SKY…messages/visions/experiences from beyond

“At the end of this journey, we will be embraced by an indescribably loving light.”

“If we are meant to return, we are permitted to see this light only briefly. If this is the end of our earthly journey, however, we will experience understanding without judgement as we stand in the light, and will come to understand that life on earth was nothing more than a school.”

“We will be shown our life from the first to last day and will re-experience every thought we had, every deed we did, and every word we spoke. In the light of unconditional love and non-judgement, we will come to understand the consequences resulting from those thoughts, words and deeds, and recognize how many opportunities we missed to grow.”

~Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, MD

The past few days, I’ve been working on a blog I was calling The Dirty Life/On the Land..return to Reality…..  I was writing about thedirtylife_coverThe Dirty Life, this great book I just read on farming and I was also writing about our life here..living off the grid in northern New Mexico.

But the blog wasn’t exactly coming together and if something I write doesn’t come together easily, I usually don’t publish it. I just looked and I have 63 unpublished posts dating back over the past 2and 1/2 years

Then yesterday morning  I got an email from my friend, Irene in Virginia. She was at Virginia Festival of the Book in Charlottesville and she sent me this:

One of the offerings made me think of you, “Capturing Spirits: Mediums, Séances & Photography. Stefan Bechtel, Lawrence Staines (coauthors, Through a Glass Darkly), and Peter Manseau (The Apparitionists) share their ghostly tales of spirit photographers and the bold-faced names who followed them, such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Mary Lincoln.

I recall the photo you captured of Jason and his dad where he looks like he has wingsangel picture reborn

Irene’s message reminded me of a lot of  so called ‘paranormal’ experiences I’ve had-some that I’ve never really talked about-and I decided to give up on ‘the Land’ blog for a while and look to the higher……which is always there but sometimes I forget.

When I was working with Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and doing her 5 day Life, Death and Transition workshops, I was much more in touch, in tune but back in the world, focused on survival, my priorities changed.

I think because the workshops were so intense, they opened up a space in me and afterwordsauras-11 I was able to see auras. It wasn’t any effort I made or anything I could make happen.

It just happened, especially when I was interviewing someone for a film or photo/oral history project.

I was in a whole different space in those workshops and afterwards, probably because the workshops were dealing with what really matters–life and death, how short our time is here and how we should spend it.

File_06 ekr wkshop singAfter my first workshop which was held at the Old Mission San Luis Rey in Oceanside California, I came back changed. I had experienced extreme peace and freedom from the ever present and overwhelming fear that I live with and I went through a period where I had no thoughts and no sense of time.

It was a peaceful place to be but I didn’t understand what was happening to me. I was seeing a fairly enlightened therapist at the time and he suggested if I wanted to return to my former ‘state of mind’, there were a few things I could do: I could drink a beer or visit my parents. I think I drank a few beers and I was back to how I was before.


Table-turning (also known as table-tapping, table-tipping or table-tilting) is a type of séance in which participants sit around a table, place their hands on it, and wait for rotations. The table was purportedly made to serve as a means of communicating


 with the spirits; the alphabet would be slowly called over and the table would tilt at the appropriate letter, thus spelling out words and sentences.


The third Life Death and Transition workshop I went to with Elisabeth was in Kamloops BC. After the workshop, I was planning to visit a college friend in San Diego. and Elisabeth suggested that while I was there, I should visit a friend of hers.

Elisabeth’s friend appeared to be the quintessential grandmother living in the quintessential grandmother type house with little bowls of foiled wrapped chocolates on every table in her living room.

And she was a table tipper with people like Shirley MacLaine coming to see her.

My friend that I was visiting was very suspicious and nervous about the whole thing but she had recently lost a child and she decided to be included in the table tipping session.

heavy-pine-kitchen-farmhouse-table-sold-[2]-4208-p The grandmother along with about 5 other people, sat around a very large, very heavy kitchen table and when we placed our hands lightly on the table top, the table started to move. We were able to questions and the table tapped out messages and it didn’t seem weird or frightening to me at all… just a nice connection with another realm of existence.

After participating in several of Elisabeth’s workshops, I founded a non profit called AIDS Care and Assistance/Rites of Passage. Our mission was to provide care for terminally ill people, specifically people with AIDS and it was hard work- the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in Austin, Texas and all the patients we provided care for were dying.

The Hoot Owl/I’ll Fly Away

I remember a man named Ned who was in the very last stages of AIDS and how he excitedly told me that his father was coming to visit in 2 weeks. I knew that his father had died years before but I didn’t try to correct him and in exactly 2 weeks he died…his father had come.

Working with parents of children who died, I heard many beautiful stories.

cory's card copy

Cory drew the bridge to Summerland…a beautiful rainbow. The faceted crystal reflects the colors of the rainbow bridge. There’s a butterfly (to left of rainbow) to represent the “transition of the soul, essence or spirit (Cory’s words) from the earth body to the sparks of light bodies seen on the other side”

Some of the most powerful of these are included in our documentary, Turning Toward the Morning.

One family we were very closely involved with was the Briggs family- Jim, Gerri and Jason. Jason died of AIDS at age 2 [see The Angel Picture above] and his father Jim died 2 years later.

Jim’s mother, Mimi had done a lot of research on near death and after death experiences and the week before Jim died, she had a talk with him. She asked him to send her some sort of sign so she would know he was alright. Humoring her, he told her he would appear as a hawk. “Oh Jim” Mimi said ” I can’t tell a hawk from a buzzard.” “OK” he said “I’ll come as an owl.” [I kept in very close touch with this family but I did not hear this story until weeks after Jim had died.]

In those days, I lived far out in the Texas Hill Country and it was one night very late, only a few days since Jim had died when I woke up with a jolt, hearing an unusual sound I had never heard before. A large pen for my 3 dogs, surrounded my trailer and when I went out to check on the dogs,hoot owlthere was a huge owl perched on the fence…and it seemed to be laughing.

File_01 jim and jasonOne of the most memorable things about Jim Briggs was his laugh. He had a great sense of humor even in the most difficult times and he always seemed to be laughing. And though I hadn’t known then that Jim had promised to appear as an owl, I KNEW it was a sign from him..he was still around, still laughing….always would be.

When I next talked to Jim’s mom, she told me that he had promised to come as an owl and she and other members of the family had seen the owl also, even in the town where they lived.

There are many, many more stories..and anyone who works with the dying-personally or professionally will hear them. I have head them from people of all ages, walks of life, cultures, believers and non believers, even from my stepmother who was a former Texas debutante and a lover of bridge, shopping, parties and vodka martinis…Hip Grandmanever interested at all in the spiritual side of life.

On a Friday, the day before she died, I talked to her on the phone. She had a form of lung cancer but she was doing really well and expected to live for several months. A big party had been planned for her the following week.

When I called her she said “I love you, I miss you, when are you coming to see me?” She was in Houston, I was in New Mexico so I said I’ll come Monday and she said “I won’t be here. I’m going to fly away.” And she died the next morning.


firefliesAs I’m writing this, I’m remembering so many stories and experiences that I had forgotten…stories hospice patients told me, stories I heard at Elisabeth’s workshops, experiences from my own life like a time when I was taking care of my young grandson who was seriously ill with bacterial pneumonia. Feeling so afraid and inadequate, not knowing what to do, suddenly there was the unmistakable scent of my dad’s pipe and I knew everything would OK.dad-navy copy

My dad had died years before

dad & smiling p

Philip David Pickard and grandfather James Philip David

…..Undeniable, Comforting…..Messages from another world


The years I lived in the Texas Hill Country were often very challenging and it was not an environment I felt comfortable in but there were 2  experiences I had during those times that helped restore my faith and gave me the strength to continue on.

As a child, I had pneumonia several times, leaving my lungs weakened and one summer in Texas I got a cold which got worse and worse to the point that I was having a lot of trouble breathing. It was a frightening feeling but even more frightening for me are doctors and hospitals. I didn’t always feel that way. but over the years……..

I was alone in my trailer, it was night and I could hardly breathe. I mixed up an Edgar Cayce remedy I had read about-I think it involved baking soda and something else made into some sort of tea. It tasted terrible but I drank it anyway and then I laid down on my bed …..and the room filled up with fireflies, hundreds of them it seemed. I tried to catch some and let them out so they wouldn’t die but it was impossible.

Even outside at night I had rarely seen fireflies-maybe two or three at most and I couldn’t imagine how so many of them could have gotten inside. But I knew they were bringing healing and in the morning there was no sign of them and I was almost well again.

Blue Balls in the Fridge

It was an extremely hot summer as the summers are in Texas, and I was living in an old trailer with no air conditioning and no money. MISERY!

I was sitting on a couch in my living room and I remembered that I hadn’t taken down the hummingbird feeders from out on the deck. if I didn’t take them down at night, the raccoons would hang by their feet from the roof, grab the feeders with their little hands and take them away.

So I gathered up the feeders and opened the door to the refrigerator where I kept them. The whole bottom section of the refrigerator was filed with beautiful blue balls. This is not possible..I’m seeing things. I shut the door and opened it again and they were still there-blue ballsblue ballsblue ballsblue ballsblue ballsblue ballsblue balls7 shining blue balls of light about the size of tennis balls.

This time I kept the door open and the balls floated out..slowly as if in a dance…like a ballet.

I sat back down on the couch and watched them..they floated into the living room and red-crescent-moontred-crescent-moonred-crescent-moonred-crescent-moonred-crescent-moonred-crescent-moonred-crescent-moon

turning into a bright orange color, they formed themselves into crescent moons, seven of them stacked one on top of each other, hovering over a plant across from me.

I hadn’t had anything to drink, no drugs, no heat stroke…I felt like I would if I were watching a play…like they were giving me a private little performance maybe to cheer me up and remind me that I was not alone.


Elisabeth Kubler-Ross was very much in touch with her guides and she often quoted their poetic messages:

“Should you shield the canyons from the windstorms you would never see the true beauty of their carvings.”

And she  taught me how to be in touch with my spiritual guides/guardian angels and that has helped me so much with the fear and anxiety I live with. But bombarded by money problems, and the horrors of this world while exhausting myself just to keep going, I forgot what really matters. I just needed a reminder.

These 2 songs–one is a chant are also reminders….


Oh God! Thou art the Giver of Life,
Remover of pain and sorrow,
The Bestower of happiness,
Oh! Creator of the Universe,
May we receive thy supreme sin-destroying light,
May Thou guide our intellect in the right direction.

Kirtana – Who You Really Are

Could there be more
to this life we call “mine”
than a journey through space
or a story line? –
More to life than the body can sense
than the mind can conclude
from experience
Does who we are begin with breath,
depend on form or end with death? –
Strip away these roles, these names
and tell me what remains
And who you really are,
who you really are

We measure success
by the things we accrue
or the bonds that we form,
or the deeds we do
But these too shall pass,
as hard as we try
to hold on to form; form will die
But inherent in this dance of form
Is the chance to see what’s yet unborn
And the choice to throw this chance away
And be caught up in the play
of who we think we are,
who we think we are

This is your lifetime; it could end at anytime.
Where is your attention?
Where is your prayer?
Where is your song?

In a fortunate life,
comes a call to be free
From the cycle of bondage and misidentity,
to wake from the dream
and finally realize
the truth of one’s being
before the body dies
So before the final scene is past,
see the screen on which it’s cast.
See what’s seeing this me and you.
And then you will see who… t
who you really are, who you really are
Who you really are, who we really are



be cool

Yesterday driving back from Taos, I was listening to the radio……we only get Country and Spanish stations out here and I was listening to Country. On came an especially obnoxious PSA about under age drinking. Some geeky sounding father telling his stereotyped sounding son about the dangers of underage drinking.

I’m sure everyone has heard these PSAs where many times parents have to consult an ‘expert’ before they talk to their child.

be cool

IMMEDIATELY following the offensive PSA, the country song, GETTING DRUNK ON A PLANE was played.

[Getting Drunk on a Plane was a number one hit. see video below]

Here are are some of the lyrics:

Buyin’ drinks for everybody
But the pilot, it’s a party
Got this 737 rocking like a G6
Stewardess is someone sexy
Leanin’ pourin’ Coke and whiskey
Told her about my condition
Got a little mile-high flight attention
It’s Mardi Gras up in the clouds
I’m up so high, I may never come down
I’ll try anything to drown out the pain
They all know why I’m getting drunk on a plane

On my way home I’ll bump this seat right up to first class
So I can drink that cheap champagne out of a real glass
And when we land I’ll call her up and tell her kiss my ass
‘Cause hey, I’m drunk on a plane

~Dierks Bently/Getting Drunk on a Plane

So the message?…it’s obvious..getting drunk is cool and it’s the way to solve your problems. And if you listen to Country music, that’s what a lot of it is about.

So why bother with the PSAs at all?

This particular song is especially offensive because it was not so long ago that a man got drunk on a Phoenix to Albuquerque flight, got in his truck, drove the wrong way on the interstate and killed a family of 5, heading home after a soccer game.

collins_gonzalez And years later, the relatives of this family have never really recovered. How could they?

No point in saying any more…it’s so obvious. And… this is not a righteous post about drinking.

Just tell it like it is.

You can’t lecture someone about the dangers of drinking and bombard them at the same time, with songs praising alcohol as a solution for Everything. You cannot expect the mass shootings to stop when nearly every movie and all the news now is about violence, about killing—you can take away all the guns, make more laws, arm the teachers, provide more security guards and as long as violence is promoted, worshiped and adored, there will be violence… ever increasing.

You cannot expect Honesty when the politicians and leaders of governments are all [almost all] Liars.

The solution lies elsewhere.

 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

I hate to even put this up..it’s so repulsive and just plain Stupid…..but I’m trying to make a point:

THE LANGUAGE OF THE HEART [Sometimes it’s lonely]

White_buffalo_2 copy

*Blizzard, a white buffalo we filmed for THE 8TH FIRE~One Earth, One Whole Circle Again

 “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


Today for the first time in I can’t remember when, I have nothing I have to do and I feel so lonely. And I’m not a lonely type of person….beach copy crop copyI like to be by myself. I remember when I was in kindergarten and my family lived in Hinsdale, Illinois, a commuter village for Chicago. I was playing happily by myself on the playground and my parents drove by and saw me and that night they told me that they felt ashamed and embarrassed because I wasn’t playing with the other children. I hadn’t realized there was anything wrong with playing alone.

So the loneliness I feel today is not that. ..it’s not Aloneness.

Yesterday I met with someone about the loss & grief mini workshops I’m offering. I’ve written about them here so I won’t go into detail except to say I love doing them and I once presented them at large national hospice conferences as well as for church groups, universities, bereavement groups etc…… in cities and towns all around the US.

The woman I met with was very kind and wanting to be helpful, she was asking how much money I needed for presenting the workshops. I explained I wasn’t doing the workshops because I wanted money. Sure it wold be nice to get a donation. I’ve been extremely poor these last couple of years and I believe there should always be some form of equal exchange but I’ve never done anything just for the sake of money….ever.

ekr_mikeI spent a lot of time with Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and she often talked about patients she  visited at the very end of their lives. They said things like ” Dr. Ross, I made a good living but I never really lived. I wanted to be an artist but my father wanted me to be a doctor so I became a doctor.”

And so I have always lived by this advice:

It is very important that you only do what you love to do. you may be poor, you may go hungry, you may lose your car, you may have to move into a shabby place to live, but you will totally live. And at the end of your days you will bless your life because you have done what you came here to do. Otherwise, you will live your life as a prostitute, you will do things only for a reason, to please other people, and you will never have lived. and you will not have a pleasant death.

~Elisabeth Kubler-Ross


The loneliness today is in not being understood, in not being able to connect, in feeling like an alien, the loneliness of looking into people’s eyes and seeing nothing there…hobbiton gate:phantomWhen I leave my place here and go into the world, it seems like there’s no one out there…..everyone in a huge hurry…..no time to listen, TVs blaring in the restaurants, people glued to their cell phones. That’s the loneliness.

Maybe I would feel this way anywhere but sometimes I wish I was back with the First Nations People in Canada. red shadow:turtle lodgeWe filmed 3 documentaries in Manitoba and andy-starblanket signin Saskatchewan and we were able to be SAGE-DRUMS copypart of the ceremonies and indian volleyballthe communities for a while.

These First Nations people may be poor, they usually are but there’s an understanding, a sense of belonging and sharing that I don’t see much of in the world today.

When I first moved to New Mexico, eight and a half years ago, I often met with an Hispanic Elder from this area. He talked to me about the people in the community I had moved into. He told me that they were the people of the Heart. “If you can’t speak the language of the Heart” he said “You will not be allowed to stay.”

I have heard this same teaching from Native American Elders:

“We are people of the heart. We sit in the direction of the East, of the Rising Sun and of the Beginning. This is where our great Creator had put us.

It takes a lot of courage to listen to your heart and to your Spirit as it’s telling you what to do even when your mind tells you something else..”

~Anishnabe Elder Dave Courchene

So this is the loneliness. The Language of the Heart has been forgotten. It has been replaced by the language of greed, of money, of arrogance, of materialism. In my experience, the language of the heart is not usually understood by very wealthy people, by politicians or bankers, or by celebrities.

Because the Language of the Heart has to do with Generosity, Sharing, Humor, Humility, Simplicity and Appreciation.

I think over again my small adventures, my fears, those small ones that seemed so big, for all the vital things I had to get and to reach.

And yet there is only one great thing, the only thing.

To live to see the great day that dawns and the light that fills the world.

Old Inuit Song


This film clip from Never Cry Wolf  is really what I’m trying to say put in visual form—HUMILITY, HUMOR, SIMPLICITY AND APPRECIATION–THE LANGUAGE OF THE HEART


*I used the photo above of Blizzard, a white buffalo perhaps symbolizing the return of the Language of the Heart:

“The arrival of the white buffalo is like the second coming of Christ,” says Floyd Hand Looks For Buffalo, an Oglala Medicine Man from Pine Ridge, South Dakota. “It will bring about purity of mind, body, and spirit and ;unify all nations—black, red, yellow, and white.” He sees the birth of a white calf as an omen because they happen in the most unexpected places and often among the poorest people in the nation. The birth of the sacred white buffalo provides those within the Native American community with a sense of hope and an indication that good times are to come.

Turning Life into Art…Sad into Happy… [in which Pooh falls in a hole and is rescued by Piglet] *A very short post

ART, undeniably, is conducive to HAPPINESS

pooh rescue 1

One night about a month ago, I went to talk to jody:chuckle:prison filmJody [the Brown Piglet in this blog] for a minute.hobbit privateWe have 2 small houses on this property…..I live in the smallest one andbeautiful-pink-livingroom Jody lives in the other. Both of us needing space, different habits-he likes to watch movies and I don’t, he likes noise, I need silence etc..so this is how we live.

So anyway, I walked over to the big house, talked to Jody for a minute and then stepped out on the deck to walk back to my little house. But it was dark and I couldn’t see and when I stepped onto the deck, I stepped on a rotten board and my left leg went all the way through and my right leg got twisted backwards.  Jody was right behind me and he pulled me out…railingwintermajicthe deck is pretty high off the ground so I don’t know how I would have gotten out otherwise.

I didn’t break anything but my legs were scraped up and they REALLY hurt. And I just felt sad. I felt like putting on my pajamas with the feet in them and going into hiding.  Using CBD oil–medical cannabis, I had just gotten rid of all of the extreme pain I had been having in my legs and now I was back where I started.

For a few days, Jody felt really bad –he knew that he should have replaced the rotten board before anything happened, and I felt a little sorry for myself. And then we both thought there was a funny. side to it.

me stage:taosFor years Jody has called me Pooh because that’s what my grandchildren call me and he became Piglet one day when he said: “If you’re Pooh, then I’m Piglet.” and I said “You’re kind of brown for a piglet.” And he said “I’m one of them brown piglets.” And so we became Pooh and the Brown Piglet.

When I was very little, my mother used to read Winnie the Pooh to me and pooh_rabbitthe story of Pooh getting trapped in Rabbit’s entrance because he had eaten too much honey, was one of my favorites….and that’s what my accident reminded me of.

Jody replaced the rotten board immediately but then I thought we needed to add something to it.

in which ..jody:sylvester

I thought we should add “In which Pooh falls in a hole and is rescued by Piglet”pooh falls 3pooh rescue 1

And we did and that’s how we turned something that was a little sad at first.. into something funny that we could laugh about and a better way of remembering….



My father used to say that stories are part of the most precious heritage of mankind.

— Tahir Shah  In Arabian Nights

Telling stories is not just a way of passing time. It is the way the wisdom gets passed along. The stuff that helps us to live a life worth remembering.

— Rachel Naomi Remen

filming ekr

Cindy and Andy Pickard filming Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

I never expected to be making films. I had no training, no degree but I liked taking pictures and I liked listening to people’s stories and finding a way to share them with others. I got interested in doing this when I was working as an Occupational Therapy Assistant for Hospice Austin. I was always encouraging the patients I saw to make something–paintings, poems, audio tapes..to leave behind for family and friends.

peterOne of my patients was a man named Peter. Peter had a brain tumor and not long to live and he wanted to make a little video. My son Andy was getting his degree in RTF/Radio, Television, Film at the University of Texas-Austin and so we were able to fulfill Peter’s request. We made a very short, not very professional film and Peter and his wife loved it.

joane camier:statesman articleI didn’t think much of it but I got a call from a reporter at the Austin American Statesman about doing a story. Peter, his wife Joanne and I were interviewed and when the story came out, it was on the front page of the Sunday paper.

So that was the beginning.

Peter died not long after we made his video and not long after that, I founded a non profit called AIDS CARE & ASSISTANCE/Rites of Passage to provide care for people with AIDS. I wanted to take what I had learned working at hospice and add some things I felt were missing and I definitely wanted to incorporate art into what we were offering.

The patients we were providing care for had a a lot of stories to tell–it was a time of extreme prejudice and judgement and File_01 joe:aidsmany of these patients were shunned and rejected by their families.

Most of them were gay men in their 30s and 40s but a day came when we were asked to provide care for a baby with AIDS. His name was Jason, he was 6 months old and his parents were HIV positive also. jason readsThis family, like many other people helped to change the face of AIDS.  Neither gay nor IV drug users, they did not fit into the expected “people who have AIDS” category.

They seemed to be the perfect family, living the ‘American Dream’.

Two weeks before they were all three diagnosed with AIDS, Jim and Gerri were watching a TV show on prostitutes with AIDS and when the show was over,  Gerri had turned to Jim and said “If AIDS is so bad, how come we don’t know anyone who has it?”

File_01 jason lookingAfter we had been caring for Jason for a while, Jim and Gerri decided they wanted to share their experience and make some sort of educational film to bring more awareness about AIDS.

And so we made Jason-the Way we live today. Consisting of interviews with both Jim and Gerri, with both grandmothers and with Jason’s pediatrician, ‘Jason’ is an emotional film about being 24 and 22 years old and watching your baby die, knowing all the while that you are facing the same fate.

I was never very good at getting grants but we did get one–from the Texas based Hogg Foundation. The grant was small just $5000–the purpose of the grant was AIDS education. I was supposed to give talks at churches, nursing home and community groups and help people understand the truth about AIDS….to go beyond the prejudice. And this I was able to do through Jason the way we live today. Jason was able to reach people in a way that others could not and

File jason aids amb

Jason Matthew Briggs Ambassador for AIDS

we eventually gave him the title of ‘The AIDS Ambassador’.

Andy and I went on from there to make probably 15 documentaries:

angels article 2 on AIDS, calvinmeon AgingALMOST HOME ARTICLEon Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, on Loss and Grief, Near Death Experience,

on Native American Teachings, on Sustainable Living and on Taos News Article Prison Documentary_June 25 2015the US Prison System

All of our films are just as relevant today as they were when we made them…maybe some of them even more so. We filmed mostly in Texas but also in New Mexico, Manitoba and Saskatchewan and at Cambridge University and Glastonbury in the UK.

And our filming took us to wonderful places we never would have seen otherwise…

to the Starblanket Reserve in Saskatchewan

andy-starblanket sign

old tipi

indian volleyball

to the TURTLE LODGE in Manitoba

turtlelodgepic copy

turtle lodge-jacko

to  traditional powwows

standing buffalo powwow-1Bullet_Boots_color_correct copy

to Cambridge University

dave-frank-film crew

and to  Glastonburyandy and graham--light film

to a traditional New Mexico Bean Field ceremonyandy:beanfield orchestraandymules


and to the farm of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in Headwaters, Virginiaekr film:smoking

ekr kitchen


We met people from all walks of life, cultures– young and old, world famous and completely unknown

and they told us their stories..

nelson copyalvin-copychinese girl-fanjoe:amputee

dannionbjim, gerri, jason--gerri

jason breathing tube 2

ekr at workshop copy

8th fire stills grandmother

and we put their stories into a format, into films which which have brought hope, inspiration, understanding and education to many, many hundreds of people.

The films are available below or in the main menu as Award Winning Films. They can be used for education, for hope and inspiration and for story telling. They can be used for in-services in Hospices, Nursing Schools & hospitals, for Adult Sunday School classes, in bereavement groups, in University Social Work classes, in prisons, for military chaplains, for drug and alcohol rehab centers and for Peace and Justice groups.

They serve as a reminder that we are all in some way…the same


On Death & Dying, Near Death Experience, Loss & Grief, Aging, AIDS, Hospice, Native American Teachings and Sustainable Living

filming ekr

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

MY SON ANDY PICKARD AND I began making films in 1990. Our first film together was a very short documentary called calledangels cover copy Jason-The Way We Live Today which we made at the request of a family with AIDS.

From there we went on to make another film about AIDS, ekr at workshop copy one on Elisabeth Kubler-Ross  and her work with dying children, File dr jim!  marian2 films on aging,……

File_01 lee-hug

a film specifically about Hospice and one on near-death experience,


3 films about Native American teachings and wisdom,

one on sustainable living and one which is as yet unfinished on the US Prison System.

aiff awardtellySeveral of these have won awards and all of them remain as relevant today as when they were originally made. They have been purchased for use by universities, libraries, hospices, bereavement groups, nursing schools and health organizations including The National Institutes of Health as well as by individuals…throughout the US and Canada.


File_01 gerri phone

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,  New York Times bestselling author of “Healing Words”

balloonA film of unusual power and beauty, Turning Toward The Morning brings to light stories of parents who have lost a child to illness, to accidental death and to suicide. Breck & Michael 1976 copy

Filled with the special wisdom of dying children and the heartfelt thoughts of their parents, dear mr godits message is one of hope, not only for bereaved parents but for all of us. 

“I watched Turning Toward The Morning with a lump in my throat, tears in my eyes and a sense of profound awe and sacredness……Since watching Turning Toward The Morning I live life with more passion, compassion and hope.”

Robert J. Bos, M.Div.
Coordinator of Special Programs
for Community Grief Support
Hospice of Michigan – Grand Rapids


turning front coverBUY IT HERE

jason_elisWe’re Almost Home Now

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and her work with dying children

 * This is one of the only films ever made on Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. She was not easy to film but because of our close personal relationship with Elisabeth, we were able to make this documentary.

Cindy Pickard, co-producer

paul: ekr workshop“It’s understandable that it’s very, very sad to lose a child. But parents need to know that their are children who have to pass very few tests, learn very few lessons, and teach a lot of unconditional love, and then they can graduate. And, to me, death is a graduation.”

~Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, M.D. from We’re Almost Home Now

File_01 jessica last chThis very sensitive and moving documentary weaves together the stories of 6 families who have each experienced the death of a child, along with the wisdom and knowledge of Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross….eliza photo:poem.jpgBoth families and professionals will come to understand more about the bridge of life, death and the healing process as this famed professional brings a message of hope to EVERYONE.

Gold Plaque Award – Intercom ’93

eliza's drawingBUY IT HERE


Jason The Way We Live Today

jim-gerri-jasonJason-the way they live today is a short film about living with AIDS, about being 22 and 24 years old, watching your baby die and knowing that you also are destined to die…of AIDS. But more importantly it is a story about extraordinary grace and courage and making the most of each day…in the face of death.

cathedral-me-ttm1 copy

Jason the way we live today was our first film. I showed it often to church and community groups as well as to people who were interested in becoming caregivers for AIDS patients….and I watched it dissolve the prejudice about AIDS and the people who have it.

~Cindy Pickard, co-producer

File jason aids ambBUY IT HERE

Angels Watch Over Me

jason reads

“They truly could be any of our families…their vulnerability is ours, their experiences are ours and their heartbreak became ours. What we can all hope to learn from them is courage, love and above all the importance of educating our children.”

~William E. Sterling, D.D.,
Suffragan Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Texas

jason breathing tube 2The VERY EMOTIONAL sequel to Jason the way we live today, this documentary follows the Brigg’s family through Jason’s death, Jim’s death and Gerri’s determination to continue on. Although Angels Watch Over Me about AIDS and the way it was in the early 1990s, its most significant message is in the wisdom it brings forth: about facing death with courage and dignity and coming to terms with great loss . If you’re ever feeling like the challenges you’re facing are too much, this is the film to watch!

File_01 gerri“Maybe we are serving as a wakeup call to the entire nation..if other people can learn from our experience, maybe they connect with us more than some other people they’ve met, then I feel that we have a purpose in life.”

-Gerri Briggs




As It Is In Heaven
An interview with Dannion Brinkleywith music by
Andreas Vollenweider

dannionb“We are not from here, we are from there
and all we do is just go home”

~Dannion Brinkley

cloudsFor me, it provided an opportunity to ask of one who has died and returned, such questions as “What is it like over there?”, “How does it feel to die?”, “Why is there suffering?” and “How can we live through these times that are so often frightening and unsettling?” As It Is In Heaven answers these questions and many more.

Illustrated by images from our own lives-hospice patients we have cared for, beloved family members we hope to meet again when it comes our time to cross over and places we have traveled -it is interwoven with the incredibly beautiful music of Andreas Vollenweider. We hope it brings you the peace, inspiration and love that it brought to us as we worked to produce it.

~ Cindy Pickard, co-producer


*ABOUT DANNION BRINKLEYDannion Brinkley is a near death survivor and the author of SAVED BY THE LIGHTthe international bestseller, Saved by the Light as well as its companion, At Peace in the Light.


File_01 lee-hugWalking Us Home

The Hospice Experience

Created for the purpose of providing education and information about hospice for health care professionals, patients and their families and the public, this uplifting documentary includes insightful and informative interviews with staff, patients and family members -filled with many lighthearted as well as serious moments. This video is helpful for anyone interested in gaining a better understanding of Hospice-its philosophy and the services it provides, this video is also an excellent teaching tool for church and community groups.





They will come to a fork in the road. One road will lead to Materialism and Destruction…..for almost all living creatures….The other road will lead to a Spiritual Way upon which the Native People will be standing…This path will lead to the lighting of the 8th fire, a period of eternal peace, harmony and a “New Earth” where the destruction of the past will be healed

Anishnabe prophecy


Starblanket– A Spirit Journey with CD soundtrack

unity ride-noel


noel:flagAt the age of 24, Noel Starblanket was one of the youngest First Nations Chiefs in North America. At the age of 29, he became Chief of all Canadian Indians when he was elected president of the National Indian Brotherhood [now referred to as The Assembly of First Nations]. noel:necklaceOutspoken, rebellious and sometimes outrageous, he was the subject of the 1973 National Film Board of Canada production titled simply, Starblanket. noel interviewNow three and a half decades later, he shares with humor, honesty and emotion, his own healing journey and as he finds peace in returning to the teachings of the Elders, a greater appreciation of life through loss, and renewed hope for the future with the little boy-camp-1emerging Seventh Generation. Through the universal language of image, music and emotion, Starblanket: A Spirit Journey brings to light in a very personal way, the ancient teachings and the extraordinary wisdom of the First Nations people while offering a much-needed message for our time

*Noel Starblanket’s Keynote Speech for ADEC – Toronto, Ontario, Canada 2001




FIRE“In our troubled world, we desperately need a vision that can inspire us to greatness. This vision will be a recovery of the wisdom, sanity, and hope represented in The 8th Fire.”

– Larry Dossey, MD
Bestselling Author of Reinventing Medicine, Healing Words and
The Extraordinary Healing Power of Ordinary Things

dave_speakingDave Courchene  whose traditional name means LEADING EARTH MAN is an Elder and spiritual advisor from the Anishnabe Nation, Eagle Clan. Descended from a long line of chiefs and leaders of his people, he felt “Compelled by forces beyond his control” to quit his job as an educator and go on a ceremonial expedition of peace around the world.

DAVE LEADS CREMONYThrough his dreams, and visions, the experiences of others who have accompanied him on his journey and the words of the visionaries–past and present, we bring you THE 8TH FIRE One Earth * One Whole Circle * Again

thunderbird-dustinA vision of hope…. for the future……for the Earth……for the children



*Read more about Dave Courchene

Manitou Api~ Where the Sun Rises


There is an old saying:  ‘If you want to hide the treasure, put it in plain sight.’ Then no one will see it.  MANITOU API reveals the discovery of symbols and wisdom lying in full view but forgotten — until they are brought again into awareness by those who have not forgotten how to see. MANITOU API is reminiscent of Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol, but with a decisive difference:  It is true. Ranging from Canada to Cambridge, this fascinating film deals with life-and-death issues — because if we do not attend to the wisdom herein, we shall likely have no future on Earth, our only home.”

bigfoot kids hugFrom – Diego Mulligan, KSFR Santa Fe Public Radio  Host of “The Journey Home”
“Manitou API – Where the Sun Rises is by far the best Native American film I have ever seen.  A MUST see

dave:frank:starA First Nations Elder and an architectural historian together, uncover ancient symbols in a Canadian government building, symbols that validate a present day Native American prophecy that speaks of the Return of the People to the Center and the revealing of the 7 Sacred Teachings of the Indigenous People.

kids circle-chinese girlThe return to the Center is to return to the heart. We¹ve all been called to wake from sleep to feel our power to dream again—a dream of peace.

–Elder Dave Courchene /Ni Gaani Aki Inini/ Leading Earth Man] Anishnabe Nation, Eagle Clan

Trailer for MANITOU API~Where the Sun Rises

manitou coverBUY IT HERE

*Read more about Dave Courchene


On The Land~Together with the Earth

  • ed beanfield harvest 2

  • This is a film for anyone who wants to learn more about off grid/sustainable living….

The people

Jonathan and book copy“The Earth will bring people from all walks of life together”-Jonathan Warm Day Coming, Taos Pueblo Artist

Ed interview“The messages of our ancestors are always around if we will only open our hearts to listen..” Ed Cardenas ~Social Worker/Teacher/Author


“Why get hung up in the negativity of the global world…..I don’t go there even though it’s out there. It doesn’t affect me..it just motivates me to do my job which is pretty much… Build to the SUN”

~Willie Groffman, Solar Builder, Juggler

Victor_horse“YOU CAN’T EAT MONEY”Victor Garcia Rancher/Building Craftsman

jody gate-la paz-prison copy

“There was no greed….now days there’s a lot f envy, hate..if you do something, you always have to do it for money…back then people used to help each other…whatever had to be done..”

Jody Armijo, Artist, Craftsman

Mark-5“The new technology is here. It just needs to be implemented”

Mark Myers, Solar Designer

Representing the 3 primary cultures of Northern NM, seven stories of the land and its power to heal, provide and bring people together. From growing up on Taos Pueblo in the 50s to bringing backMule_team copy the old ways of planting and relating through a traditional bean field ceremony , to healing from a troubled and violent life, the land heals and sustains and provides all that is needed to live the good life.greenhous-april-16-chard Advice and practical suggestions are offered about how to make a ranch or home completely self sustaining, using solar energy and building from materials on the land.

Visually beautiful and with an equally beautiful soundtrack ON THE LAND is interspersed with humor and as well, features when-the-moon-came-outthe Pueblo and Spanish Art of northern New Mexico

ED'S GRANDPARENTS 1 copyThe old ways are remembered and honored while respectfully blending them with new technologies. and the wisdom and teachings of the ancestors and grandparents are paramount and always present..






“A rich and precious story of 3 older women and their journeys with loss, isolation and discovery. A moving video for professionals, women who are bereaved and anyone interested in understanding the importance of staying young at heart…”

This captivating video takes viewers into the lives of three inspirational women who have each found peace in growing older. Despite the limitations and challenges brought on by aging and the loss of a spouse, they have persevered and found contentment and joy in their later years.


“Driving to Utopia offers an engaging and thoughtful window in the lives of three widowed women who have said ‘yes’ to life. They draw from the wellsprings of lives filled with faith and joy, compassion and humor. As well as being stewards to the memories of their husbands, they are keepers of dreams yet to be fulfilled. This a valued addition to our library.”

J.Chandler Newton
Chaplain/Bereavement Coordinator
Optima VNA Hospice
Manchester, NH

Merit Award – Mature Media National Awards 1995


Bringing the Circle TogetherFile dr jim!  marian

“Bringing the Circle Together” is an inspired achievement. It richly portrays one of the greatest resources of the human race – the wisdom of our elders – and why we need to rethink our current attitudes toward aging. Highly recommended.

-Larry Dossey, MD
Author: The Reinvention of Medicine
and Healing Words  Exectutive Editor:
Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine


EXCERPT FROM Bringing the Circle Together 

You’ve seen the world change a lot and not for the better?

“No, it’s getting worse every day.”

Tell me what you see.

“Greed – greed’s what’s wrong with our government today. You take those people up there in Washington-congressmen, senators and the president. They done forgot the Constitution. The Constitution said “a government by the people, for the people…equal rights to all and special privilege to none.” You think them people up there…? Something’s got to give one of these days. If we have another depression now, it’s going to be a lot worse than that other one. I lived through that other one. I know what it was. Once in a while you hear them talking about the cost of living’s gone down two-tenths of one percent, but it just don’t happen – up, up, up all the time. Look at all the floods we’ve had up north that destroyed crops and everything. That’s going to have something to do with the cost of living right there. I don’t know how our government can figure they’re doing anything right.”

Alvin Ivy, age 96 Rancher, Cowboy

Wisdom, humor alvin2

and life experience spanning almost a century Reg4– these are the legacies offered byreg CIRCLE1 four unforgettable men in their nineties, the stars of Bringing the Circle Together.

pittman tractorA retired surgeon, cowboy, road-builder, and professor…..alvin-copy  they remind us that life is a circle in which we are all interconnected and in some way responsible for the care of each other.

Woven throughout are the comments of three young men in their twenties and the insights of Dannion Brinkley, near death survivor and author of the New York Times bestseller Saved By the Light.

Merit Award~Mature Media National Awards 1999



jonathan's painting:rainbows

painting by Jonathan Warm Day Coming

Yesterday I drove over to Taos for the first time in a long time. I was going to meet with

Jonathan interview copy

Taos Pueblo Artist, Jonathan Warm Day Coming

my friend, *Jonathan Warm Day Coming but first I went to a small Asian restaurant that has great food and no TVs [thankfully!]. People were having lunch and actually talking to each other–I think I might have only seen one cell phone come out the whole time I was there and in my fortune cookie [I believe in fortune cookies], was my fortune which said

fotune cookie

It was a blue sky day and I drove on to the Taos Inn to meet with Jonathan.

taos inn blue I had brought him some fresh eggs and we sat on the big leather couches in the lobby and talked and then we walked out to his car and he showed me 2 of his most recent paintings… ..he was getting ready for a show this coming weekend.

I loved both of the paintings he showed me but one has stayed with me. He calls it The Dream I Had and he told me that twice he had dreamed that it was night and he had walked out of his little house on the pueblo and climbed up a ladder and when he looked down, there was nothing but empty space.

Mystical, sacred and beautiful, far beyond this ugly world we’re living in, there’s another world out there that will always remain pure and untouched by humans……. that’s how I felt this image.

jonathan's dream

The Dream I Had   Jonathan Warm Day Coming

And I thought if I had this painting, I would hang it in the very center of everything so I could remember…..that other world.

After Jonathan left, I walked over to the gallery where his paintings are displayed along with a few other artists. Sometimes it’s hard for me to walk into new places….shyness left over from childhood and then these days, people aren’t especially welcoming or friendly.. Just the week before, I had a couple of unfriendly and unwelcoming experiences so I was feeling kind of fragile.

But Jonathan had told me how happy he was to be in this new gallery so I went on. jones walker galleryThe Jones Walker Gallery is in a 250 year old adobe house in Taos Plaza and.the door was open….. jones walkerAs I walked  through the door, I heard Willy Nelson’s song, Roll Me Up and Smoke Me when I Die and I laughed and felt filled with sunlight and happiness. Then out from another room, came Tony Walker, co-owner of Jones Walker. He and his partner, Max Jones had owned a very successful furniture design business in Dallas, but for years they had wanted to move to Taos. They had recently sold their design business and this gallery came up for sale at about the same time.

Tony was so welcoming and friendly …he filled the gallery with happiness and I thought to myself, people will come here not just for the art but to feel happy, to feel welcomed.

And I remembered a story I once read about the Iroquois medicine man, Mad Bear Anderson. Mad Bear’s special ‘medicine’ was his happiness and humor which he used to bring people together, remind them of their connection..one to another. On one occasion several Native people were selling their beautiful, turquoise jewelry at an open market…. the sun was shining and the jewelry was extraordinary but no one was buying anything and everyone was feeling sad and discouraged. Until Mad Bear walked in and in his special, life giving way, started talking with customers and the ones who were selling…and in a very short time, every piece of jewelry was sold….happiness had returned.

So this was my day in Taos: Jonathan’s painting showing me a glimpse of the world beyond and Tony’s welcoming presence bringing happiness to this world we live in. [Willy Nelson does this also on a larger scale…video clip below]

Maybe it seems I’m making too much of small things..like kindness, happiness, listening, creativity etc but it is so much what the world needs now. cp


Jonathan Warm Day*Jonathan Warm Day Coming

Renowned Taos Pueblo artist, storyteller and writer, Jonathan Warm Day is known for his colorful acrylic paintings, which provide a visual narrative of the daily experiences and spiritual life drawn from his many childhood memories at the Taos Pueblo in New Mexico. His earthy paintings illustrate the graceful and enduring lifestyle of the Taos Pueblo people and their respect for nature.

Jonathan is committed to preserving the memories of the now vanishing pastoral lifestyle and rich cultural heritage of the Taos Pueblo through his paintings. His work depicts scenes of daily life there throughout the four seasons and illustrates the traditions and customs that are part of the heritage of Taos Pueblo. His paintings also depict the surrounding landscape, animals and nature.

~ Mel Fenson Colorado Magazine Onlne


 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


A Wave of Happiness/Don Comes to Visit

Whatever you do, do with kindness.
Whatever you say, say with kindness.
Wherever you go, radiate kindness.
– Jonathan Lockwood Huie



Once, a long time ago, there was a wise Zen master. People from far and near would seek his counsel and ask for his wisdom. Many would come and ask him to teach them, enlighten them in the way of Zen. He seldom turned any away.

One day an important man, a man used to command and obedience came to visit the master. “I have come today to ask you to teach me about Zen. Open my mind to enlightenment.” The tone of the important man’s voice was one used to getting his own way.

The Zen master smiled and said that they should discuss the matter over a cup of tea. When the tea was served the master poured his visitor a cup. He poured and he poured and the tea rose to the rim and began to spill over the table and finally onto the robes of the wealthy man. Finally the visitor shouted, “Enough. You are spilling the tea all over. Can’t you see the cup is full?”

The master stopped pouring and smiled at his guest. “You are like this tea cup, so full that nothing more can be added. Come back to me when the cup is empty. Come back to me with an empty mind.”

A few nights ago, a friend from Arizona came to spend the night..he was on his way to Colorado to visit his sister and our place was a good place to stop and rest.

I had been feeling kind of sad and drained of energy from an experience that happened the day before. I had been really looking forward to meeting with someone about my loss and grief mini workshops that I am planning to offer in northern New Mexico. At one time, I presented these workshops in cities and towns all over the US but I had taken a long break and now I felt ready to begin them again. If you’re interested, you can read about them here.

So I looked forward to meeting with this person–I felt she would be a kindred spirit- and I had brought my book of memorialsmatthew for sah copy copy that were made by people in the workshops, and other things to show her..but she didn’t like me. Every time I tried to say something, she interrupted and in every way she could, she discounted my experience, even telling me that Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s work was completely irrelevant. “She was a pioneer in her day” she said in a superior and condescending manner “But we don’t use her work in OUR bereavement groups.”

ekr at workshop copy

Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross    Elisabeth Kübler-Ross was a Swiss-American psychiatrist, a pioneer in near-death studies and the author of the groundbreaking book On Death and Dying

Elisabeth was my friend and the most significant teacher in my life, as she was for thousands of people worldwide. I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for her and this woman’s words cut into me. And though she kept smiling and telling me ‘Good Luck’ as she hurried me out the door, I knew she would do whatever she could to discount me in this small town. An image appeared in my mind of something I had seen years before, the image of something I had seen happen at the Apollo Theater in Harlem….when the audience didn’t like a performer, someone came with a broom and literally swept him or her off the stage. And sure enough, I got an email the next day from someone who had previously contacted me and set up a meeting, saying in so many words that she was busy from now until forever and would not be able to meet.

 True listening is a rare skill. Usually, the greater part of a person’s attention is taken up by their thinking. At best, they may be evaluating your words or preparing the next thing to say. Or they may not be listening at all, lost in their own thoughts.

~Eckhart Tolle


After I left the woman’s house, I went to get some lunch. Not having much money these days, I don’t eat out very often but when I do it’s a special occasion. So I was looking forward to having lunch as a way of comforting myself when I sat down in a restaurant I liked, prepared to order Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad. But there was no peace….every where I looked there was a huge TV blaring. I moved to what I thought was a quite corner and just as I was about to take a bite of my salad, I looked to my left and there was another TV with a huge, bare butt taking up most of the screen. I couldn’t believe it……I looked again..yes that’s what it was..a show about butt injections and it went on to show the procedure.

I left disgusted and repulsed and I realized this day was in part, about not listening….people who can’t or won’t listen, restaurants with TVs everywhere making it impossible to listen, even if you want to.

So this was my state of my mind….sad, drained and tired of humans ….when Don walked into our house.

But the second he came in the door, everything changed as a wave of Happiness entered with him, as if it blew in. It wasn’t anything he did or said..it was him, his energy…happiness, kindness, humor..listening. We had a nice fire in the wood stove and Jody [the Brown Piglet in this blog] and Don and I sat by the fire laughing and talking for hours.

Don left the next morning early but he left me with the realization of how our energy affects everyone around us….like ripples in the water, it reaches out and out in ways we aren’t even aware of….hurting or comforting….bringing happiness or sadness…joy or anger…a Very Powerful Force that we all have available to us…


Below is an audio clip of the spiritual teacher, Eckhart Tolle talking about how to deal with people who hurt you…..another way of seeing and very helpful

 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