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 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

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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 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 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 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 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


“The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.”
―Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

phoenix ttm

American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Care Conference  Phoenix Arizona

About a month ago, I decided that I would start again to offer the *Between Now & Forever Loss & Grief workshops that I once gave for National Hospice conferences, churches and universities in several cities and towns around the US. I had thought that I was finished with them but some things happened recently, making me feel it was time to start again.

* Between Now & Forever means to me, that period of time between experiencing a great loss and moving into ‘Forever’ where everything is understood: Why did this happen to me, Why Now etc.

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Grand Rapids, Michigan

For several years, I offered as I said, these mini workshops or presentations at Hospice and Death Education Conferences as well as for privately organized  groups throughout the US. The workshops accompanied a photo/oral history exhibit by the same name which traveled to Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Grand Rapids, Mi,

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the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Our Lady of Lourdes West Islip, NY , Christ Church Cathedral-Houston, Little Rock Arkansas etc.

But I quit doing them when I went to Portland, Oregon to give a presentation at the Association for Death Education and Counseling Annual Conference. The conference was held at a large hotel and the night before the workshops began, there was a party which I went to and the first people I encountered were 2 grief therapists arguing about which of them had experienced the most grief in her life.

“Yikes!” I thought…..I don’t want any more to do with this and I left and went shopping, only coming back to give my presentation. It was a little bit like when I left the Episcopal Church many, many years before…..I didn’t want to be part of more than, better than, different than.

The only memorable part of my time in Portland was taking the Amtrak to Seattle and sitting next to a woman with 2 big buckets of freshly cut lilacs……reality…..the breath of LIFE.

So it’s been years, probably 15 years, since I’ve offered the workshops but just this past month, I’ve felt that it might be a good time to offer them again… though in a different way. There’s such an overwhelming amount of death, loss, grief and despair on this Earth right now and



these little workshops offer hope and inspiration..a light in the darkness and some magic too..

I no longer want to travel very far so I decided I would offer them in this part of New Mexico where I live–Las Vegas, Taos and Santa Fe and I would begin with Las Vegas. And so a few days ago, I made an appointment to talk with the priest at the Catholic Church in Las Vegas. The priest, whose name is Father George, suggested I call a man who had lost almost his entire family several years before when their minivan was hit by a drunk driver. His daughter, son-in law and 3 of their children were killed instantly when this driver, going the wrong way on the interstate hit their van, going 75 miles an hour.

I remembered the story [it made national news] and I didn’t want to call this man who had been through the imaginable. What could I possibly say?  I thought then about the losses in my own life and I thought about my workshops and what I could offer and what I could not.


“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.”

-New York Times Bestselling author, Larry Dossey, MD

I’m not a grief therapist-I never wanted to be. My workshops involve showing our award winning documentary, Turning Toward the Morning followed by a time to create simple memorials. I always bring colored markers, crayons, paints, glitter & colored paper and everyone from young children to the very elderly make drawings or write poems or letters and memorial-daddyeach one however simple or complex, is beautiful.

turning front coverTurning Toward the Morning includes 3 stories, 3 stories of parents who have lost a child to accidental death, suicide and terminal illness. The stories are told by the parents themselves……there are no ‘experts’ expressing opinions or giving advice.

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Michael and Breck Whitman from Turning Toward the Morning

The experts are the parents themselves.

After Father George suggested I contact the man who had lost his family, I thought about what really helps when there is tremendous loss. Who can help and how?  The answer, at least from my experience, is almost no one because it’s each person’s personal journey, one that they have to make alone. Even in the case of parents who lose a child, they each make the journey alone.


I thought about when my mother died when I was nine and how I instinctively closed myself off because I knew no one would understand. I knew they would say things like “Your mother was a wonderful person and now you have to live up to her memory and help your father.” or “She’s in a better place.” [How do they know I always wonder and how do those words help? They’re just words]

And I remembered when my brother killed himself at age 16. It was late August and I was getting ready to leave in 2 weeks for my sophomore year at Hollins College in Roanoke Virginia. My dad and stepmother thought it was too soon for me to go back but I wanted to be with my friends so they warned me “If you want to go back, don’t ask to come home. We’ve spent a lot of money.” [There would not be any emotional support at home which was why I wanted to leave]

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Sharon, Jeff and me  ~ Hollins College Roanoke, Virginia

For about 2 weeks after I was back at school, I was OK. My friends provided a distraction but then they were ready to go on with their lives as college sophomores and I wasn’t. I crashed, got sick–mono- and was sent to the college infirmary.

I was REALLY sick…I had night sweats and a terrible sore throat and I lay in bed on a rubber sheet not caring if I lived or died. But there was a doctor in that infirmary who took care of me. I don’t remember her name but I remember her because she was the first person who seemed to understand. I don’t remember any words that she spoke either….It was the feeling that came from her, a feeling of of compassion, caring and understanding and I felt safe and cared for with her as if I didn’t have to pretend. Later I learned that this doctor was herself terminally ill which probably explained her compassion.


Dr Elisabeth Kubler-Ross signing books at a Life, Death and Transition workshop *The man on the left was a young dentist with ALS and the man on the right had lost his wife in a plane crash just the week before

Many years after that, I went to my first Life, Death and Transition workshop with Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. The workshop was held at the Old Mission San Luis Rey in Oceanside, California and because of Elisabeth, her spirit and the way she was able to communicate with people, the feeling was the same..once again it wasn’t words but a FEELING of being cared for and understood…..I wanted to stay there forever, far away from the world that had hurt me and brought me so much pain.


So the workshops…..What can I offer? I can’t offer a solution-no one can- but through  Turning Toward the Morning, I can offer the stories of some people who have found peace and a reason to go on… in the midst of great loss.

And I can offer the memorials as a way of expression, remembering and honoring…

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Captain Matthew Rogan  FDNY  died September 11, 2001

About a month after 911, I happened to be staying in the convent at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in West Islip, NY. Many of the firefighters who died on 911 were from West Islip and as I walked around the village, I saw memorials for them in many of the shop windows. One in particular stood out and I looked at the name–Matthew Rogan. When I got back to the convent, I asked one of the nuns, Sister Diane, about Matthew Rogan and she told me thatFile_01 matthew:parish his 10 year old son, also named Matthew, was in 4th grade at the church school. He was having a very difficult time she said and she was meeting with him whenever he needed to talk, in an attempt to help him through this terribly sad and painful time.

I asked if I could talk with Matthew, if he might like to tell his father’s story.

He did and the next day I interviewed him and took some photos. He drew a picture of his father’s firetruck which he wanted included in the memorial and when I got back home, I had everything framed and it became part of the traveling exhibit I did on loss and grief.matthew for sah copy copy

Six years later I took the exhibit to Our Lady of Lourdes and Matthew came with his mom. He came up to me and gave me a kiss on the cheek and then his mom told me how much it had meant to him to know that his father’s story had reached so many people. I was  happy…it’s always a giant leap of faith because I never know when I begin these projects what the outcome will be. *Matthew’s memorial is now permanently displayed at The Houston Firefighters Memorial in Houston, Texas.




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Matthew Rogan with his exhibit piece from Between Now & Forever ~Our Lady of Lourdes, West Islip, NY


exhibit 2 madisonIn 2004, I was invited to do a workshop presentation at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It was put on by the School of Nursing and it was extremely challenging in many ways. theater madisonAlong with the Between Now & Forever exhibit, I showed Turning Toward the Morning in a small theater there in the conference center

Before the film was shown, I gave a short talk about my experiences with loss, my therapy with the much loved addictions counselor, John Bradshaw and about the workshops with Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. And then for some reason, maybe because I was very tired and wasn’t trying to impress anyone, I talked about how I had quite often in the past, cut myself with razor blades. I don’t know why I mentioned this then because I never talked about it. I thought it was shameful and I had seen before that people were horrified. Now it seems to be kind of an ‘in thing’ with kids like killing themselves on Facebook but at that time, I knew no one else who cut themselves.

But then the unexpected happened. When the film was over, quite a few people came up to me and began telling me their stories. They said things like I never cut myself but I tortured myself in other ways….and we understood each other and the whole feeling of that conference changed for me then and there. It wasn’t a formal event any longer but a real and true communion between people.


“We won’t succumb to hate, bitterness or disillusionment; we will use wisely the time we have left together…”



I said I wanted to do the Between Now & Forever workshops in a different way but really I just want to add something to them and it’s this. A couple months ago I read a story that I could not forget: it was the story of University of Pennsylvania student, Blaze Bernstein who was brutally murdered by a ‘friend’.

Blaze who was known as a teenager with “a gentle and generous heart” was missing from his parents home in southern California for a week and when his body was found, he had been stabbed 20 times.

And his parents made this statement.

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

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

~Jeanne and Gideon Bernstein

So I’m doing the workshops in memory of Blaze, as my small way of doing something good, of doing something positive to affect change.

Because it’s time now to move past and go beyond hate, revenge and blame…it’s way past time. Humanity will not survive much longer in this atmosphere. It’s all we hear in the ‘news’, from the politicians, from the ‘metoo’ people. It has become the accepted and expected way but it is not THE WAY.

For more information on the workshops, you can contact me at:

*ALSO I am offering these handmade hearts for a donation and as part of the workshops. They can be used as memorials…On the back, you can write a message: “RIP, in memory of” etc…with a fine tipped marker. 2 gold, 1 pink hearts

And 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


*The following words were spoken by the Indian spiritual teacher, OSHO 35 years ago. We are now, in 2018, living in the midst of the times he spoke of…and we have some choices to make…

“Man is now living in his most critical moment and it is a crisis of immense dimensions. Either he will die or a new man will be reborn…It is going to be a death and resurrection. Unless human consciousness changes totally man cannot survive. As he is right now he is already outdated. …During this period there will be every kind of destruction on Earth including natural catastrophes and man manufactured auto-suicidal efforts. In other words there will be floods which have never been known since the time of Noah, along with earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and everything else that is possible through nature. The Earth cannot tolerate this type of mankind any longer. There will be wars which are bound to end in nuclear explosions, hence no ordinary Noah’s ark is going to save humanity. …The Holocaust is not going to be confined to certain places, it is going to be global so no escape will be possible. You can only escape within and that’s what I teach. ….” (OSHO (1983))

For the past few months I’ve been very aware of a split on this planet, 2 very different worlds that are existing simultaneously

sundog    There is the old world which is dying and which is characterized by greed, fear, extreme materialism, hate, violence and blame. This world is does not support will not be able to sustain itself.  “The Earth cannot tolerate this type of mankind any longer…”

the rainbowAnd the new world coming characterized in part by sharing, acts of kindness, community, generosity, creativity…connection to Spirit, to the Creator.

And people are making their choices, choosing to live in one ‘reality’ or the other.

Since I’ve written about this already here and here,  I’m focusing in this post on health and healing, using Natural Medicine which is a significant part of The New Earth.

“The Most Allergic Person”

In my early 20s, I was married to a doctor, a surgeon and I believed totally and completely in traditional medicine. I believed in a lot of things then that turned out not to be true at all but I was young and I lived ‘inside the box’.

I was not a happy person in those days, having no purpose or understanding or reason for being…..I was a lost soul. And I had severe allergies. Every week, I went to the Kelsey-Seybold Clinic in Houston to get allergy shots where they told me I was one of the most allergic people they had ever seen. But even in my fogged and miserable state, I could see that I was getting worse from the shots–my nose ran constantly, my eyes were red and itched….I felt sick all the time.

I often went to Austin then, to visit friends and down the street from my friends’ house lived a man who offered ‘natural healing’. So on one of my trips, in desperation, I made an appointment and went to see him. I remember that he made a remedy, a tea which I was supposed to drink on a regular basis and he suggested I start doing some meditation. I drank the tea for maybe a month, the allergies went away and they never came back. Needless to say I never got another allergy shot.



* I think the tea remedy probably contained osha. “Osha, or Ligusticum porteri, (also called bear root) is an important perennial herb that inhabits the dry, upland meadows and ravines of the Rocky Mountains. The beneficial part of the osha plant is the root, which has long been used and considered sacred by Native Americans for cold, cough, and other respiratory ailments.”

As the yeas passed, I became more aware of natural medicine and methods of healing.  At a workshop in Hawaii, I learned about essential oils and I when I returned to Texas, I discovered that my veterinarian used the same oils for some of the animals he treated. I learned a lot more from him and I have used the oils ever since. As of this moment, I have not seen a doctor in 30 years.


jody's huge plantWhen I moved to northern New Mexico, 8 and 1/2 years ago, I discovered that nearly everyone I met smoked marijuana…it seemed almost a part of the culture. The people who smoked called it mota and they often referred to it as medicine. In Texas, I hadn’t known anyone who used it……I just equated it with Willy Nelson and Woodstock. It really meant nothing to me and I didn’t care about it one way or another.

But something happened that brought a sudden, sharp awareness: A drug bust which happened out here where I live, a terrifying experience when early one morning, 2 helicopters began circling low over my property and the surrounding area. For hours, the helicopters circled and then an army of military type vehicles carrying men armed with automatic weapons descended on a neighbor’s VERY SMALL, non commercial growing operation. WHY? There are meth labs and drug houses everywhere in this part of New Mexico…why not go after them? Well, follow the money trail…..and ask who will lose the most if marijuana is legal.

Still I had no real interest in marijuana, but I did have an interest in justice. I wrote a letter to the county sheriff  “… I have been so grateful to live in a peaceful community but yesterday all that changed for me. I was so scared..I didn’t sleep at all last night and today I just feel anger. And what I also know is that I have done absolutely nothing EVER in my life time to warrant being spied on by a helicopter…Who is responsible for these things and how do they justify the expense and who pays for all the gas and the pilots and all
those vehicles?” . There was no response.

Over the last 2 years, my life has become increasingly stressful and I have had a lot of trouble sleeping. I was using Advil PM but still, I woke up several times a night and had to drink a couple of glasses of wine to fall back asleep. Medical Cannabis is legal in New Mexico and I decided I would apply for my medical cannabis card–I have known for a long time that I have PTSD and PTSD is one of the ‘diseases’ that qualify a person to use medical cannabis.

cannabis heartI saw a psychiatrist who diagnosed me with PTSD and within a few weeks I got my card. I was able to purchase the tincture I needed and almost immediately, miracles began to happen. I was able to sleep soundly maybe for the first time ever and the severe knife like pains, I was having in my legs and the point I could barely walk. …went away. They are one hundred percent gone and they have never come back.

marijuanabreak_CBD_in_new_mexicoThe CBD tincture I use costs about $26 dollars a bottle and lasts at least 2 months and now I understand why the government, Big Pharma and many in the medical community are working so hard to ban marijuana: Because it’s a miracle plant known to heal *many diseases and it costs nearly nothing…Besides that it’s very easy to grow. Just imagine if I had gone to a doctor for my sleep problems and the pains in my legs. Imagine the tests and the medications prescribed.  Imagine the cost. And who benefits…who gets the money….always follow the money trail.  It’s like “Elementary My Dear Watson”

The propaganda these desperate people and organizations put out is beyond belief and it is at the expense of thousands of people who need the medicine…it’s criminal and it’s evil. As one man who was cured of end stage cancer put it ” How is it fair that because of my zip code I get to live and someone else..because of their zip code… will die?”

Here’s a list of some of the diseases that can be treated with medical cannabis:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Anorexia
  • Anxiety
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular disorders
  • Chronic pain
  • Depression
  • Epilepsy (seizures)
  • Glaucoma
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Inflammation from various conditions
  • Insomnia
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Nausea (emesis)
  • Obesity
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Schizophrenia
  • Tourette’s syndrome


walgreens fuckWhen I drive to the nearest town which is Las Vegas, New Mexico, I have to pass by Walgreens and I see the flashing signs for flu shots, shingles shots [are you kidding??], pneumonia shots…..and a red rage comes over me. Isn’t it obvious that it’s all about money???!!!  Once again, extreme greed, greed beyond belief at the expense of innocent and misinformed people. In my lifetime, I’ve only known one person with shingles and she had had shingles since she was young..always a result of stress. And I have personally encountered 3 people within the last 3 weeks who have gotten very sick AFTER they have gotten flu shots…and they seem mystified. As if to say we did as we were told and look what happened. EXACTLY!

As I was researching the clinic where I got the allergy shots so many years ago, I found this statement at the top of their website.

“If you’re planning a trip abroad, whether for business or pleasure, don’t let health problems ruin it. Visit our travel medicine and immunization specialists so you stay healthy while traveling.”

~from the Kelsey Seybold website

Do you really think they care…that they’re to help, to heal, to make your life better…do you really?

A week ago I happened to see this interview below. However you feel, whatever you believe, take time to watch this and also the 2nd clip -a retired dentist who cured himself of end stage cancer. This is life-changing and lifesaving information. And for HAPPINESS, watch Willy Nelson/Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die

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.

Moving On from #METOO… PLEASE! [Mother Grandpon and the Catacombs]

I think this is just a short post and not something I would usually write but enough is enough.

There’s an old world that is dying–it is characterized by greed, extreme materialism, self absorption, hate, blame, revenge, violence and insanity. I think almost everyone can see this.

There’s a new world, a New Earth coming in and in part, it’s characterized by compassion, kindness, community, personal responsibility, caring for the Earth and working to make the world a better place. [the WORLD not America]

Blaze-Nathan-BernsteinA month or so ago  Blaze Bernstein, a 19 year old,  University of Pennsylvania student was brutally murdered by a ‘friend’  He was home on Winter Break and was missing from his parents’ house. When his body was found a week later, he had been stabbed more than 20 times. And his parents made this statement:

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

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

~Jeanne and Gideon Bernstein

Then a few days ago, I happened to watch a segment on the sentencing of Dr. Larry Nasser. One of his abuse victims was reading a statement in which she talked about how she cried every night [still after 15 plus years???!!!] and she was not able to work because of the abuse. After she finished her statement, her father who was at the proceedings, lunged at Larry Nasser but was stopped by the guards. The father later made a statement in which he droned on and on about the whole situation. His statement was filled with anger and bitterness and hatred.

When I was  watching this, I thought of the Bernsteins and I thought about how they had turned the worst possible nightmare a parent could ever experience into something for good, for others, for the world. Revenge and hate would have been expected, accepted and supported but they chose another way and in doing so have inspired many, many others to choose another way. @dogoodforblaze

*I taped the Bernsteins statement to my refrigerator as a reminder to myself…when I”m feeling mean, judgemental, revengeful, I will read and remember. There’s another way.

A few days ago, when I saw one of the ‘metoo’ storiesHip GrandmaI thought about my stepmother and I laughed. My stepmother who we called Mother Grandpon, prided herself in coming from what she called ‘a nice family’. She loved playing bridge, shopping, drinking vodka martinis and going to parties. She lived to be 91.

There was a story she liked to tell: it was the story of when she was a teenager visiting the catacombs in Rome and a monk pinched her butt as she was touring the catacombs. She thought it was funny and we did too.  I tried to imagine her now joining ‘metoo’ dredging up an ancient story, crying and feeling offended because now you can be offended by the tiniest thing.  But it would never have happened.

So I guess this is about choices: the choice to keep the cycle of hate and revenge going which is reaching out and poisoning everyone and everything, including the Earth itself or the choice to take personal responsibility, to accept what comes, to work toward making the difficult, painful things that are bound to happen.. into something to learn from, maybe as a way to help others… and to remember to

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

Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor  161 -180




*****THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO HAS HELPED….I just need to raise about $300 more and I’m there! As I am helped, I will go on to help others…a circle of kindness, caring and inspiration, my commitment….

Last week the power steering went out on my 2007 FJ Cruiser leaving me stranded with no transportation for work, for emergencies or to get food for my animal and human family. I live in the country and I’m shut down completely. A power steering pump costs about $600 and I hope also to replace the tires, which are in extremely bad shape…about $900 for them.
My gofundme page is so if you want to help, you can contribute here
The gofundme page includes a record of some of my work.

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My work has always been with death and dying and these days I offer workshops on loss and grief.

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University of Wisconsin-Madison

Called Between Now & Forever, I have given these for hospices, church and community groups, universities and

phoenix ttm

National Hospice and Palliative Care Conference – Phoenix Az

National Hospice and Palliative Care Conferences throughout the US. I offer them now in Las Vegas, Taos and Santa Fe, New Mexico. I am committed to doing them in memory of a teenage boy who was murdered a few weeks ago..  #dogoodforblaze
For nearly 30 years I worked through Rites of Passage/AIDS Care and Assistance, a non-profit I founded in 1988 to provide care

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Rites of Passage provided care for Jason Briggs until he died of AIDS at age 2

for terminally ill patients.

However the actions of a longtime employee destroyed the non-profit a few years ago. Since that time I have been struggling to repay the resulting debt and surviving on almost nothing. Several friends have appeared like angels to help me pull through this extremely difficult time.
Many, many thanks for any contribution however small or large…as I am helped, I will go on to help others…a circle of kindness, caring and inspiration, my commitment


My gofundme page is so if you want to help, you can contribute here

These last 2 years have been really difficult -I hate asking for anything.-I don’t even like to complain in a restaurant about food that isn’t cooked right. And then in these past 2 years, I’ve had to ask for help many times. But I’ve met the most amazing people, people I never would have met if things had been going well. And I’ve done things and learned things too that I wouldn’t have otherwise. It’s as if as my world was crumbling, it was also expanding.

The spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle has often said “If life isn’t challenging you now, just wait a will come.”

Sometimes there’s a warning-like looming financial problems or a health crisis and sometimes it happens in an instant like with the recent mudslides in California. And it seems like these things often happen when everything is working, when you’re sure you’ve got it made.

A few weeks ago I was deeply affected by the story of Blaze Bernstein, the 19 year old, University of Pennsylvania student who was brutally murdered by a ‘friend’ and I was especially touched by the statements his parents made, who said from the beginning that they would not succumb to hate and revenge. In an interview, Blaze’s father said that he had always felt like he was the luckiest person in the world. His son’s murder he said, taught him humility.

Humility, compassion, kindness, appreciation, community-these things that come from losing everything and such is LIFE on Earth.





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

Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor  161 -180

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

Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor  161–180

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

~Jeanne and Gideon Bernstein

stained glass prayer

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

ALTAR GOLDaltars that I’ve created andPHANTOM:SWING CHAIR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~Jeanne and Gideon Bernstein


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

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

A family friend who knew Blaze though not well wrote:

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

~Gary Goldhammer

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

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


baby f memorial

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


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

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

Thank you and May the Force be with You.










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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




A Message for Christmas and Beyond

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

– Chief Maquinna, Nootka.

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

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

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

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

~Doug A Sandler

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~Scott Thomas, Lakota

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross so often said:

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

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross


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

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


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

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

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


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

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