Beyond Betrayal, the Phoenix Rises [“There is a Crack in EVERYTHING]

 There is a crack in every thing..that’s how the light gets in”
~Leonard Cohen/ANTHEM


I started writing this blog almost exactly 2 years ago..I don’t know why I started writing except that the work I had done for nearly 30 years was no longer possible and the blog seemed an opportunity to continue on in another way, and to make some sort of contribution.

So today I decided to look back..see where I was..where I am now-what have I learned in these 2 very difficult years. And I decided also to write about something that I purposely have not written about before..namely betrayal.


I thought maybe if I wrote about it, I could move on, move beyond the feelings of anger and bitterness that overwhelm me at times.

I don’t want to go into the details except to say that I learned that ‘Your best friend can be your worst enemy’: Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere and with no warning, my trusted friend and assistant for 30 years, a friend who I had often described as an angel, caused the downfall of almost everything I had worked for.  Somehow I guess I wasn’t paying attention to the signs along the way.betrayal trust

I searched for answers, tried to understand- talked to friends and people I had worked with, had my cards read always with the same message: BETRAYALheart betrayal

I have heard several spiritual teachers say that we should  look upon a situation..however unpleasant as if we had chosen it. So if we are here on Earth to learn certain things, pass certain tests, maybe I did choose the betrayal I experienced, maybe it was necessary for more understanding, humility, compassion …it must have been.

And so I entered into a time of overwhelming debt….I went from having $300, 000 in checking and savings to sometimes just $5.00 in checking, from easily paying my bills to having to default on everything, from being able to eat out whenever I wanted and buy whatever food I wanted [I never looked at prices] to sometimes having no food in the house except a few potatoes, a few eggs from the chickens, chard and kale from the greenhouse. It was a slow downhill slide because it took me a while to understand the extent of the damage that had been done.

As my life seemed to spin out of control, I couldn’t sleep, I was so afraid of being sued, terrified of being homeless. Eventually I had no choice but to sign up with a debt relief company. Most of my social security goes to pay off my debts and  I’ve had to learn to live on $600 a month.phoenix rise

So what did I learn or gain..what good has come out of this?

~Strength and Clarity that I didn’t have before

~  Incredible people who miraculously appeared and helped me pull through in various ways…my friends changed as some dropped away, some remained as new ones came in, creating I felt, a comforting circle of kindness and goodwill

~I learned to rise above those who judged me-whose words were sometimes cruel.. and also to rise above the advice givers—when you’re really down, the advice givers come out of nowhere like vultures……  those people who love to give advice but who would never be able to follow it themselves

~I learned to hold on to my visions against all odds

~I came to understand that the greatest gift we can give others is the gift of listening, really listening without judging, without interrupting

~I learned how little I really need

~I learned to take old things, rather than buying new things…..and give them new life..FUN!

*Besides listening to the spiritual teacher, Eckhart Tolle, what has helped me the most, these past 2 years, has been working on art projects. They have really helped calm me in the midst of ever present stress.


BEFORE [not exactly the same freezer but similar]



shelves with stuff 2


I never liked the color of the wall behind these shelves and thought I would  put a white glaze over the blue but I didn’t have money to do it. I discovered however that my daughter-in-law had left, along with some paints, a small bottle of copper glaze. I decided to try the copper glaze and it produced a miracle! I would never have tried it if I had been able to buy the white glaze.

glaze 2 nd shelf




I really like to drink wine but I hate to throw away the bottles–we don’t have recycling here…

Bouteille Bottle




The solution: Combining sea glass spray paint and acrylics, Jody [the Brown Piglet in this blog] turned these old bottles into beautiful art pieces.

morning blue bottle


wine bottle-wolf


~I learned a lot about natural medicine and its many uses. For nearly 30 years, I have not used any prescription drugs but I was using Advil PM to sleep. Because there was so little money, I discovered natural sleep remedies which worked much better than the Advil. And I began to see clearly the agenda of the pharmaceutical companies and the medical community, an agenda which revolves around money, power and fear….not healing.


~I learned to love pinto beans….beans are often all that we have but I never get tired of them…I have ODed on potatoes howeverpinto-beans

A few months ago when we had no bread of any kind, Jody found some flour, baking powder and oil and for the first time, made sopapillas. Since then he delivers them a couple times a week, to people in the community ..sopapillas

raven prepares to eat

and the Raven gets the leftovers.

~I learned humility when I couldn’t pay my bills, had to beg for extra time, when I had to ask for help and when I had to shop at the poorest grocery stores. Many times I’ve had to stop in the middle of shopping and count my change to see if I could afford something-butter, bread etc. At first I felt embarrassed but eventually I understood that I was just like everyone else….trying to survive

~I learned to live much more on Faith, live it rather than talk about it. I had to give up a lot of things I took for granted like having a cell phone. My truck is not in great shape and when I have to drive somewhere, I have felt afraid because what would I do if the truck breaks down. I was talking to a friend about this and he said “Remember when no one had a cell phone and we were fine?.” I remembered but still what would I do? “Someone will help you” my friend said …FAITH


pink chair:white roses

I’m tired and bruised and changed…but I feel like I somehow survived…. .

The words of this poem I love are relevant. I’m not really flying yet but I’m preparing  to [I hope!].

“Come to the edge,” he said.
“We can’t, we’re afraid!” they responded.
“Come to the edge,” he said.
“We can’t, We will fall!” they responded.
“Come to the edge,” he said.
And so they came.
And he pushed them.
And they flew.”
― Guillaume Apollinaire


When I wrote my first blog post 2 years ago, I included Leonard Cohen’s beautiful song, Anthem. “There is a crack in everything..that’s how the light gets in.”

And it’s so true-there is a crack in Everything. About 2 weeks before Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston, I sent out an email to a group of friends: I was trying to raise money for my solar batteries which were old and dying fast…meaning no electricity. I titled the email ‘The Tapestry’ because I had recently listened to Eckhart Tolle talking about how our lives are like a tapestry. Woven together in the tapestry are squares representing our health, our family, our relationships, our finances, our insurance, our investments etc, etc.– everything that seems to make our life work.

But suddenly and inevitably and sometimes violently, a piece of our tapestry is ripped out, leaving an empty and usually painful space: a child dies, you lose your job, you lose your home, you or a family member are diagnosed with a terminal illness.

And that’s how the light gets in…I have heard it so many times.

“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.”
~Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Below: a recipe for sopapillas and one for pinto beans. And Leonard Cohen’s Anthem

AND HERE IS MY BIG DREAM FOR TODAY: I haven’t been able to pay to take out the trash for over a’s stored and out of the way but I need to get it out of here. I need about $200. If you want to contribute to my trash removal project, you can do so  here

As I’ve said before, these days this blog is my main contribution as the work I did for so many years is no longer possible. I do write for myself but as we’re all connected in some way, maybe some of what I write will be helpful to someone else.

For everyone who has helped me in the past, I thank you forever and ever!!!!!!!

Soon I will have new solar batteries and guaranteed electricity. Now to get rid of the trash, fix my truck and the journey continues.


PS Anyone who contributes will receive a gift in return: t-shirt, DVD, poster etc

Sopapilla Recipe

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Using hands, mix in water to make a smooth dough. Knead lightly on a floured surface. Cut dough into 12 pieces, and shape into round balls. Cover, and set aside.

  1. Heat oil in deep-fryer to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into thin circles. Cut each circle into triangles. Fry in hot oil, until golden brown, turning when dough puffs. Remove, and drain well on paper towels.







6 cups



Ingredients Nutrition

  1. Wash and pick over the beans, removing loose skins or shriveled beans.
  2. Put in a large covered pot and cover with hot water.
  3. Soak over night if you want to cut down on cooking time.
  4. When beans start to simmer add ham bone, salt pork or bacon.
  5. Add more water as needed but only hot or boiling water.
  6. Never add cold water the beans will turn dark.
  7. If you cook without a lid the beans will also turn a dark color.
  8. When the skins are almost as tender as the inside of the beans, they are done.
  9. They should not be broken.
  10. Add salt and allow to stand before serving.

Buy a T-SHIRT and Support a Wolfdog

buy t supprt wdA few years ago, my son and I made a documentary film called ON THE LAND ~Together with the Earth and Taos Pueblo artist, Jonathan Warm Day Coming created a t-shirt which communicates the message of the film.LAND TSHIRT:WALLon the land t back

For the back of the shirt, Jonathan chose his own message: The Earth will bring people from all walks of life togetheron_the_land_tshirt_back

I think we could see this happening recently in Houston as so many people from different cultures and walks of life…..came to help. The Hurricane, Nature, the Earth brought people together and offered a vision that reached around the world..of how life on earth could be.


Last year we rescued 2 wolfdogs, Apollo and Sakina, as companions for our 2 year old wolfdog, Shiloh. We rescued them just a few days before they were scheduled to be killed.




Sakina, Shiloh , Roadie [Belgian Shepherd] and Apollo

Wolfdogs are not dogs, they do not behave like dogs and they require special care so many people who get them as puppies….shiloh-10-weeks because they are so cute

more often than not, find that they are unable to keep them…and so they are sent to a shelter where their life usually ends very quickly

.Wolfdogs are almost immediately put down/killed if they are sent to a shelter.


If you like to help support these most beautiful creatures, Shiloh, Apollo and Sakina–their care and feeding, YOU CAN order an ON THE LAND T-SHIRT HERE And you will not only help support a wolfdog, you will carry a message that is so much needed now: The Earth will bring people from all walks of life t supprt wdshiloh with roadie

*You can also, if you prefer make a donation. It’s been a difficult and challenging 2 years however I think the phoenix is rising.

Below is the story of the rescue of Sakina, our female, very low content, wolfdog. The people who planned to keep her, could not and so she was sent here. Also below is the trailer for our documentary, ON THE LAND ~Together with the Earth

*Featured image photo of Shiloh, photo of ‘the pack’ and photo of Shiloh and Apollo by Karen Yeager

On The Land ~ trailer 1 from Andy Pickard on Vimeo.

on_the_land_DVDYou can order a copy of ON THE LAND here.


Stewart Comes to Visit/Let it Be

Night before last, kind of late, I got an email from a friend saying he was coming through this area on his way south and wondered if he could spend the following night. He isn’t someone I know very well–stewart glasses                                             Stewart Warren is his name

I met him at the Ojo Caliente Spa several years ago when he was the IT Manager there and all I could remember about that time was how he read one his poems to me in the parking lot.

Stewart is however, a close friend of some friends of mine in Mountainair, New Mexico and he and I have kind of kept in touch by email. About a year ago when I was at a very low point and in deep despair, Stewart sent me an encouraging email which was so meaningful to me that I printed it out and for a year, kept it right next to my computer.

I didn’t want to hurt his feelings by telling him he couldn’t stay but I was SO tired, we had almost no food in the house and both me and my partner, Jody [the Brown Piglet in this blog] were going through our own emotional traumas.

So I didn’t answer the email but rather tried to come up with something to tell Stewart as to why he couldn’t spend the night. For hours I obsessed about this. To get my mind off of it, I watched a DVD from the spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle called Freedom From The World.

In the DVD, Eckhart was talking about the mind which constantly chatters and makes up stories..and he was talking about surrender. Like almost all the great spiritual teachers, Eckhart’s message is ‘Don’t think’.

Finally I thought, I cannot go on obsessing like this all night. I have to stop thinking about what to say and so I attempted to go to sleep and I did…. finally.

When I woke up exhausted in the morning, I told Jody about Stewart. Part of my reason for not wanting Stewart to stay was because I thought he and Jody would not like each other and it would be very uncomfortable.jody gate-la paz-prison copyJody is Hispanic, has a lot of tattoos, spent quite a bit of time in prison and jail when he was younger and spent very little time in school. Stewart on the other hand, is Anglo, a poet, well educated, would never have a tattoo [I thought] and would be unlikely to be in any way sympathetic [I thought] to someone who has lived the sort of life Jody has.

But surprisingly Jody told me “It’s fine, tell him to come” So I did, Stewart arrived and from the time he got out of his car, I realized I had been wrong about EVERYTHING. He brought with him a wonderful presence of grace, kindness, appreciation and acceptance. Most people who come here comment on the beauty of the place but Stewart noticed and appreciated everything: all the work we’ve done, glaze 2 nd shelfhobbiton:phantom 2what he called entertain w: wine bottles‘the sacred spaces’, maryrosesarchthe shrines, the animals, Jody’s art and most of all he appreciated Jody. They were able to understand each other on some soul level where race, culture, education etc don’t matter. Jody was needing some encouragement and understanding and Stewart offered this.

And they had some life events in common that I would never have imagined. Plus I think Stewart actually has a tattoo.

Earlier in the summer, we had a somewhat similar experience. A friend from Arizona came to stay for a few days and she brought her husband Don who has Alzheimers. Don was often confused and struggled with words but it seemed that when there was something that really mattered, he understood perfectly. Before he left I gave him one of our Native American designed hoodies. eagle-hoodiecabinbrightOn the back there is an explanation of what the Eagle means to the First Nations People and Don slowly read it to me “The Eagle brings a vision of LOVE that helps us see how we should walk in love and sacredness on Mother Earth. ALWAYS ACT IN LOVE.”

“That’s right” he said “That’s how it should be.”

When he and his wife left, there were tears in his eyes. “I don’t want to leave” he said. You all feel like family.”

At the soul level, everything is understood.

Stewart didn’t stay overnight–he had forgotten that he needed to get to Albuquerque for an appointment.. All my obsessing and losing sleep were for nothing.

This morning when I was drinking my coffee with the Brown Piglet, the Beatles song Let it Be’ came on the radio and I realized ‘Yeah, that’s right..just let it be.  Let everything just BE… Everything and there will be an answer.’

mary:mother's day:grotto

“I wake up to the sound of music, Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, yeah, let it be
There will be an answer, let it be”

~Let it Be/The Beatles

Below is Let it Be Live from the Beatles and a poem Stewart Warren wrote about this area years ago. Stewart Warren’s author page on AMAZON.

*If you have found this blog helpful in some way, Please make a contribution. This blog is my particular way of contributing: by hopefully passing on the wisdom of the many teachers I spent time with and learned from: Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, addictions counselor, John Bradshaw, near death survivor Dannion Brinkley and Anishnabe Elder, Dave Courchene as well as many hospice patients and Elders that were part of my life.
A few years ago I experienced a huge betrayal which changed my work and my life. I learned that ‘your best friend can be your worst enemy’ and I lost a lot: my job, my salary and I could no longer do the work I had planned to do. Looking for a way to continue, I started this blog. Part of my story is here and this is also where you can make a contribution
As we are all in some way connected in this life, I sincerely thank you for your help-big or doesn’t matter..
Cindy Pickard



Longing for Purity, for the Snow, the Cold…and the Light that Fills the World!

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

I have started to write something several times this past week but then came Hurricane Harvey and I got caught up in watching the footage. I lived in Houston for many years-not happily but I lived there.

I read that a newscaster was criticized for calling the hurricane and the devastation that followed ‘biblical’. Of course it was/is biblical…the ancient prophecies of all religions are being fulfilled NOW. I read too, that a man unable to get gas in San Antonio, Texas [there have been long lines and some gas shortages] made the statement “Well this is it..the end of the World.”

It’s a difficult time to be living on this Earth….so much has been destroyed and rampant corruption, insanity, violence and ugliness, fear and terror have become an accepted way of life.

I remember reading a book years ago called Border Healing Woman. JEWEL BABBIt is the true story of an old woman, living down near the Texas/ Mexico border. She-her name was Jewel Babb- was a natural healer and she was able to see the future. One statement that she made, I’ve never forgotten. It went something like this “In the times that are to come, it will take the faith of all the saints to survive.” These are the times she spoke of.

“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

When I was watching the hurricane footage on my computer..usually on ABC, a commercial always came on beforehand..over and over and over. This commercial was filmed at a gym and featured an especially unattractive, arrogant woman in gym clothes. This woman was directing other women to find the ‘perfect exercise’ for her. This apparently was her top priority in life. The intent of this commercial was to inspire people to use a particular travel search engine but instead it verified the fact that we are living in the most selfish, self centered, materialistic and out of touch society that has ever existed. The image of this arrogant woman with her demands for the perfect exercise contrasted with the film footage of terrified people being rescued from rooftops, knowing they had lost everything is burned into my mind forever.

I am very lucky to be able to live far out in the countryNorte_mountains…..far from any city, off the grid.. karen-shiand surrounded by our animal family.

But today I cannot find peace. All day I have looked forward to the evening and to watching [again] one of my favorite movies, Never Cry Wolf…. I think because of the purity which is represented not only by the landscape but also by the far from civilization, surrounded only by the beauty of the Arctic and its creatures, mainly the Arctic Wolf.

And Never Cry Wolf is a reminder for me of the time I spent with the First Nations People of Canada. With my son, I made 3 documentary films there, in Saskatchewan and in Manitoba and I long to go back but I cannot. I want to go back to the teachings and a lifestyle that I understand, back to simplicity and laughter, back to the sound of the drum and to the Sacred Fire……back to The Light That Fills The World’

Final Scene from NEVER CRY WOLF

In the Ojibwey language: “The Old People Say ‘The Earth is About To Change.'”

If you’re still in doubt that The Earth Is About To Change, here are today’s headlines-September 3, 2017:

~Hurricane Harvey’s trail of carnage visible even from space
~Danger persists at Arkema chemical plant in Crosby as more explosions expected
~19 wildfires burn in California
~Hurricane watches posted as Irma moves west
~Trump says ‘we’ll see’ about attacking North Korea after announcement of h-bomb test

And so it is….these are the times when we will need to help each other out if we are to survive. I am fortunate to live in an old world rural community where helping each other out has been the way forever…the way life is meant to be.

Below is a little slideshow I made about our way of life here in northern New Mexico

*If you have found this blog helpful in some way, please make a contribution. This blog is my particular way of contributing: by hopefully passing on the wisdom of the many teachers I spent time with and learned from: Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, addictions counselor, John Bradshaw, near death survivor Dannion Brinkley and Anishnabe Elder, Dave Courchene as well as many hospice patients and Elders that were part of my life.
A few years ago I experienced a huge betrayal which changed my work and my life. I learned that ‘your best friend can be your worst enemy’ and I lost a lot: my job, my salary and I could no longer do the work I had planned to do. Looking for a way to continue, I started this blog. Part of my story is here and this is also where you can make a contribution
As we are all in some way connected in this life, I sincerely thank you for your help.
Cindy Pickard

Living Someone Else’s Dream/Distractions NEVER Work [my Life Story part 3]

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
“I needed to write, to express myself through written language not only so that others might hear me but so that I could hear myself.”
~ Gabor Maté, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction
* This is not meant to be a story of endless suffering although there were times when the suffering did seem endless. Rather, it’s meant as a way to look at life or our life experience as a school where we’re given one test after another until we graduate. I think you can look at your life as a time to acquire things, become successful, famous, well respected or whatever and maybe this works when you’re young but when you get older, you find these things don’t matter at all. CP
The year before my brother Flip killed himself, I started my freshman year at Hollins College in Virginia.hollins-university-wallpapers
There was a lot of turmoil at home and I wanted to get away but I was also afraid: I had never visited Hollins and I didn’t know anyone there. My dad and stepmother told me to take a cab when I arrived at the airport in Roanoke.
I had made a special request beforehand: I did not want a roommate but when I went through orientation, I found out that I had two: Lael Kelley and Jeffrey Zeiler who we came to call Eeyore
LAEL:MEsharon, e, me
In time I became very close to both my roommates and to some of the other girls who were in the same dorm….. and we had a fun freshman year: blind dates at the nearest men’s college w and lwhich was Washington and Lee and also..
sewannee notesewanee-the-university-of-the-south-beautiful-college-south…….at The University of the South
Hitchhiking to the local bar, The Hollins Inn to get 3.2 beer and cheese burgers, staying up all night preparing for exams, Spring Break in the Bahamas etc.
We made plans to move to NYC together when we graduated. Sometimes during that year I thought about what was going on at home-my brother was threatening suicide, my parents marriage was a disaster but I pushed those thoughts and feelings far into the background.  The songs from that year California Dreamin’, The Sounds of Silence, Norwegian Wood and Like A Rolling Stone still take me right back there.
Ahh you’ve gone to the finest schools, alright Miss Lonely
But you know you only used to get juiced in it
Nobody’s ever taught you how to live out on the street
And now you’re gonna have to get used to it…
How does it feel, ah how does it feel?
To be on your own, with no direction home
Like a complete unknown, like a rolling stone
~Bob Dylan/Like A Rolling Stone
Front Quadrangle (Bradley Hall and East Building), Hollins University
So I looked forward to going back for my sophomore year-  Jeff and Lael and I had agreed to room together again.

But my path changed dramatically that August of 1966, just two weeks before I was due to return to Hollins. My brother Flip killed himself.


James Philip David Jr. ‘FLIP’ May 12, 1950-August 1966

My closest friend from high school, my dad and stepmother and I were on our way to my stepmother’s ranch in Clarendon, Texas when we stopped in Dallas at a family friend’s house and my dad got the call.
I just remember chaos after that: everyone being offered sleeping pills, driving back to our house in Houston and finding it filled with a large number of my parents friends..a lot of them drunk.
Going to the funeral home and being led across the street by Frank Derrick, the foreman of my stepmother’s ranch. Terrified of the city [he never left the ranch], he was shaking as he led us into the funeral home….stark and freezing cold.
A funeral in Houston and a 2nd one in Hinsdale, Illinois
And then I remember my parents telling me that they thought it was too soon for me to go back to school. But, they said, if I chose to go back, I shouldn’t ask to come home if I changed my mind. They had spent a lot of money.
So I went back and at first it was a distraction……for about two weeks and then my friends were tired of hearing about Flip, they wanted to get on with their lives and I fell into a terrible depression. I kept our room very dark and I slept all day, almost never coming out. Eventually I got sick-I had mono- and was sent to the infirmary.
I found some peace there in the infirmary which was like a little hospital-The doctor who took care of me seemed to understand what I was going through and later I found out why. This doctor had terminal cancer so she herself was dealing with death.
 But since it was going to be a long time before I would be well enough to go to classes, I was sent home, back to Houston. I remember it as just a time of grayness, darkness. I wanted to be alone so I stayed upstairs in what had been Flip’s room– I had a terrible sore throat and was too sick to get up. Sometimes my stepmother brought me soup but she was not happy about it
Eventually I started trying to live again..I started taking some classes at the University of Houston. It was a hot summer and the song Summer in the City said it all.

Hot town, summer in the city

Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty
Been down, isn’t it a pity
Doesn’t seem to be a shadow in the city

All around, people looking half dead
Walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head

~Summer in the City/The Lovin’ Spoonful

I was just surviving..
flip sympathyit seemed like every morning when I woke up, I had to remember what happened all over again.

There been times that I thought I couldn’t last for long
But now I think I’m able to carry on
It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

~A Change Gonna Come/Sam Cooke

But change was coming, another distraction..a change that would make my parents happy and a distraction for me.. My stepbrother Lewis had a good friend from high school: Larry Pickard was in medical school in Galveston and Lewis got us a date.

I started going to Galveston most weekends and eventually, it was too much of an effort–driving back and forth so we decided to get married.
My parents were thrilled! It was a distraction for them too…something to plan, a future to hope for.
Larry and I got married December 28, 1967
For me, it wasn’t anything I really wanted because I didn’t really want anything. I didn’t think there was any future for me, there was nothing I wanted to career, no nothing. All I wanted was a respite from all the pain.
 And so we moved to Galveston…I got pregnant right away and then had a miscarriage-I remember the Excruciating pain-on my 21rst birthday. More darkness but I didn’t mind losing the baby. It was a girl and I did not want a girl.
I got pregnant again as soon as I could and for a time, I found the peace I was looking for. For those months I was pregnant, for the first time ever I did not feel baby boy was always with me, never leaving me and making himself known more every day.
Our son Andy was born July 30th 1969 at the beginning of Larry’s senior year of medical school.andy's little feetandy 5 wks
Sometime during that year I started drinking a lot. Larry was at the hospital much of the time and   everything I had tried to escape from was coming back to haunt me
“At the core of every addiction is an emptiness based in abject fear. The addict dreads and abhors the present moment; she bends feverishly only toward the next time, the moment when her brain, infused with her drug of choice, will briefly experience itself as liberated from the burden of the past and the fear of the future—the two elements that make the present intolerable/”
― Gabor Maté, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction
 Larry graduated–in a matter of moments he went from Mr. to Dr. and we moved to Houston for his surgery internship. We bought a cute house…and I was more and more miserable..just a terrible feeling of emptiness that’s impossible to put into words.
I went on a quest to pick up men–anywhere and everywhere and I started cutting myself, my left arm mainly, with razor blades.

Why Do People Cut Themselves?

The motives behind cutting are often counterintuitive. For an individual who does the behavior, cutting himself is how he makes himself feel better. Often, cutting is the only way he knows how to deal with negative emotions like depression, rage, guilt, emptiness and self-hatred, according to TeensHealth.

Most people who inflict self-harm do so because they need relief from all the pent-up emotions they are experiencing. Like an addiction, these people are not in full control of their actions, but rather seek the intense relief they experience after cutting themselves.

Cutters perceive that the action provides them with positive benefits. It allows them to express their feeling and feel in control. Cutting may distract them from difficult life events, relieve guilt as it can be used as a form of self-punishment, and for some cutters, make them feel more alive…”



I loved Andy so much, with all my heart–he was all that I lived for I but did not know how be a good mother.andy:me at grandpons I believe now that he was sent to me so that I could live. His understanding about life was always far beyond mine and his mission, one anyway, was to help me survive when without him, I could not have. andy toddler

andy:giant rabbitandy:beth ann
When Andy was 5 weeks old, Larry and I went to New Orleans for a weekend. When we returned, I picked him up and held him on my lap. When I looked down at his little face he seemed to be laughing and I could hear him say “Remember me? I’m back!”  andy:me:walkBack from another time…
Everything is Going in the Wrong Direction!
Sometime during that same time period-Larry was by now a resident in General Surgery, I enrolled in an Occupational Therapy Assistant program which I wrote about in a previous post.
I was in my mid 20s, totally lost, drinking continuously-day and night and I decided to sign up for an Occupational Therapy Assistant course at Houston Community College. The class which was made up of about 25 women of all ages, went from 8am to 4pm Monday through Friday and was held in a dreadful, dark building in downtown Houston. I hated it from the beginning. I had thought that Occupational Therapy was a type of Art Therapy which I was interested in but I soon found out it had nothing at all to do with art therapy.As the year went on, I became more and more miserable and I decided to drop out. I told the woman who taught the class, I was finished but she begged me to stay, to finish the course. It was pretty close to the end of the year and she was very encouraging so I completed the course and got my certificate as a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant.
That year- graduating as an Occupational Therapy Assistant did not alleviate my misery at all…maybe I even felt worse, more empty. I tried to be a wife but I could not. I remember I signed up for a cooking class and I hated it–I hate cooking to this day.. I knew I should quit drinking but I could not and I was still cutting myself with razor blades. Everything was going in the wrong direction..EVERYTHING.
I knew I had to get out of my wasn’t good for any of us but there was no support and I needed support, would be a huge step for would I make money..I didn’t know how to do anything..didn’t even know how to write a check. And I was running out of time.
*If you have found this blog helpful in some way, please make a contribution. This blog is my particular way of contributing: by hopefully passing on the wisdom of the many teachers I spent time with and learned from: Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, addictions counselor, John Bradshaw, near death survivor Dannion Brinkley and Anishnabe Elder, Dave Courchene as well as many hospice patients and Elders that were part of my life.
A few years ago I experienced a huge betrayal which changed my work and my life. I learned that ‘your best friend can be your worst enemy’ and I lost a lot: my job, my salary and I could no longer do the work I had planned to do. Looking for a way to continue, I started this blog. Part of my story is here and this is also where you can make a contribution
As we are all in some way connected in this life, I sincerely thank you for your help.
Cindy Pickard
Part 4 of ‘My Life Story’ Continued in the Next Post. I don’t know what it’s called yet but it will be much more hopeful!

FLIP [‘My life story’ continued~ Part 2]


flip:draw in between

He always wanted to say things but no one understood.
He always wanted to explain things but no one cared.
So he drew.

Sometimes he would just draw and it wasn’t anything.
He wanted to carve it in stone or write it in the sky.
He would lie out on the grass and look up at the sky and it
would be only him and the sky, and the things that needed saying.

And it was after that, that he drew the picture.
It was a beautiful picture.
He kept it under the pillow and would let no one see it.
He would look at it every night and think about it.
And when it was dark, and his eyes were closed, he could still see it.
It was all of him and he loved it.

When he started school he brought it with him.
Not to show anyone, but just to have like a friend.

It was funny about school.

He sat in a square brown desk, like all the other square

brown desks, and he thought it should be red.

And his room was a square brown room like all the other rooms.

It was tight and close, and stiff.

He hated to hold the pencil, and the chalk, with his arm stiff
and his feet flat on the floor, stiff with a teacher watching
and watching.
And then he had to write a numbers.
And they weren’t anything.
They were worse than the letters which could be something
if you put them together.
The numbers were tight and square and he hated the whole thing.

The teacher came and spoke to him.
She told him to wear a tie like all the other boys.
He said he didn’t like them and she said it didn’t matter.
After that they drew.
He drew all yellow and it was the way he felt about morning.
And it was beautiful.

The teacher came and smiled at him.
“What’s this?” she said.
“Why don’t you draw something like Ken’s drawing?
Isn’t that beautiful?”
It was all questions.

After that his mother bought him a tie and he always drew
aeroplanes and rocket ships like everyone else.
And he threw the old picture away.
And when he lay out alone looking at the sky it was big and blue.
And all of everything, but he wasn’t any more.

He was square inside and brown, and his hands were stiff,
and he was like anyone else.
And the thing inside him that needed saying didn’t need saying anymore.

It has stopped pushing.
It was crushed, stiff.
Like everything else.

* This poem was turned in to a teacher in Regina, Saskatchewan, by a senior in high school. Although it is not known if he actually wrote it himself, it is known that he committed suicide a few weeks later.

This is PART 2 of “My Life Story* which I started writing a few days ago. Part 1 is about my mother’s death when I was nine and what happened afterwards. I hadn’t planned on writing anything but a few days before, I had felt the seasons change-from Summer to Fall- and I remembered the Fall of 1954 when I was 7 years old, when my life changed suddenly and dramatically. And I thought about the many challenges – ‘windstorms’ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross would call them–  and how they have brought me to where I am today. I write for myself but maybe some of this may be helpful to someone else.

When I was starting to write, I brought in several boxes from my storage shed… boxes of old photos, newspaper articles, cards etc. …because I like to include photos in the stories I write. In one box I found several drawings my brother had made when he was little and an envelope full of letters he had written the year he was in military school.

My brother Flip killed himself when he was 16. As I read some of his letters-they were written to my dad and stepmother- and looked at his drawings,flip-drww bridge I felt tremendous sadness.. and ANGER. So Sad for Flip and SO Angry at the adults who didn’t bother to help him though they had all the resources and the money and so much warning. Too busy they were with their social life and their image.

And I thought about Flip, flip:baby

flip-2 yrsthe little boy so full of joy and I thought about his deathflip sympathy …. and how it didn’t have to happen..

As I’ve been writing ‘My Life Story’, I’ve had a lot of insights: I’ve realized where the ever present feeling of fear and dread that lives within me, comes from and why my first thought when I wake up every morning is “I wonder who died last night.”

I’ve realized too that for many of the early years of my life, I lived in a kind of isolation, a kind of emotional vacuum so I couldn’t feel the pain and the trauma. When I look back at those years, it’s as if I was alone and except for the summers in Michigan, I don’t remember much about the people around me.

And so I don’t know what Flip felt or exactly how all the losses affected him but I wanted to write something for him…..I just have a few memories that I can put into words and his drawings and letters which tell his story,..  and also a very powerful video clip about suicide from Elisabeth Kubler-Ross which I call ‘I Love You If’

Maybe this little story will bring some awareness that these things do not have to happen..


He was 3 years younger than me–.me, ruth, flipWe were a small family..just my mom and dad and Flip and me.

We lived in the village of Hinsdale, Illinois, a commuter town for Chicago.hinsdale station My dad and my grandpa took the train into Chicago every morning and almost every evening, we went to the station to meet them.

My mother was very close to her parents so our grandparents were a big part of our lives. We lived within walking distance of their house 219 redbudswhich for young children, was a wonderful magical house with gardens of lilacs and peonies, strawberries, fruit trees and all kinds of flowers…..and inside mantles and staircases of intricately carved wood and cozy fireplaces in many of the rooms.

My grandparents celebrated every season…I remember white candles in every window at Christmas, the smell of burning leaves in the Fall, flowers of every color in my grandpa’s garden in the Spring and Summers in Michigan where Lake Michigan was our front yard…..rb endless blue

It was a good life that we had but when I was 7 and Flip was 4, my dad took a job in Dallas, Texas and everything changed.. forever.

me:front porch dallasI’ve already written about this from my point of view

I don’t know how Flip was affected but I do know ruth oves flip he was very close to out mother, much closer than I was and close also to Wrighty, the woman who came to take care of us before and after our mother’s death and in some ways took her place.

My dad was much harder on Flip than he was on me…far more critical…greater expectations impossible to fulfill.

Without some help. and love and support–and there wasn’t much of that [or what there was, was taken away], it’s impossible for a young child to survive so much loss….flip:boy:tree draw

flip's lonely tree.jpg

There are just 2 memories that I have from those early years:

The first was soon after our mother died when Flip was probably 6 years old and I was 9. My dad took care of us on Sundays only and we were in his car, not any special kind of car, just a station wagon and he had just bought us milkshakes. Flip put his milkshake on the dashboard for a minute and it spilled and my dad went into a rage….then there was silence.. I remember a feeling of  shattering, shattering what was already so fragile. I remember it still.

My other memory: Every summer we spent with our grandparents at their summer cottage on Lake Michigan. We sometimes swam in the lake but it was very cold and so we learned to swim in something called ‘The Lagoon’. The Lagoon was not very deep and there was a lot of seaweed and mud on the bottom but it was much warmer than the lake. I had already learned to swim but Flip was very fearful of the water and so he hadn’t learned. But one summer when my dad was visiting and Flip was probably 8, my dad decided it was time. And so he forced Flip to jump into the water and swim to the other side  Flip did as he was ordered- he was cold and white and shaking badly when he pulled himself out…there were other kids around, kids who could swim. I could feel his terror and humiliation. And after that he didn’t spend the summers in Michigan. More shattering of what was already shattered…

He did not do well in school…my mother had tutored high school kids in the past and she worked with him but after she got sick, I think school was a very difficult and lonely place for him…. and good grades meant everything to my dad.

After my dad remarried, when Flip was 12, he started reacting to everything that had happened and he started running away. I remember the police calling when they found him.

A child psychiatrist advised my dad that Flip needed some therapy, needed help..badly

My dad however, having been in the Navydad-navy                                               during the 2nd world war

sent Flip to military school in Florida.flip:farragutI remember when Dad asked about counseling for Flip, the school administrator told him that they didn’t believe in therapy. What they believed in he said, was “turning boys into men.” Those were his  exact words.

Flip wrote quite a few letters to my dad and my stepmother the year he was in military school…It’s very hard for me to read those letters even now so many years later.

Sometimes he was asking for things he needed sent. Sometimes he was writing about his grades. Mostly I think he was just hoping someone would write him back. I doubt if they did though..they were never very good at that and I don’t think they ever visited him while he was there. Money was never an issue..they just didn’t bother…parties and golf games..those were the priorities..alwaysflip envelope

flip-letter grades

flip tennis s

Of all the letters he wrote, this was the saddest:

flip mothers day letter

“Dear Mom and Dad,

Thank you for the stamps.

Today we had our Mother’s Day Parade. It was the longest one we have had all year. A few kids fainted and goofed up but it must have looked good to the mothers because they clapped for a long time.”

and laterflips letter-gardener

He only lasted a year at military school….when he came home, he was sent todevereaux The Devereaux School in Victoria, Texas, a boarding school for children with emotional problems. Flip did not come home for a long time after that and when he finally did, my dad just could not/would not let him alone. He focused on 2 things: his hair was too long and he was smoking…. cigarettes.

Flip was home for about a week and when he left-one of his friends drove him back to school- he took one of my dad’s guns with him and he shot himself through the heart in the school gym. He was 16 years old.

There were 2 funerals for him-one in Houston and one in Hinsdale, Illinois where his life had begun. My parents bought him a new suit to wear in his casket-he never wore suits but even in death, to their way of thinking, it’s important to portray the right image.

He is buried next to our mother and our grandparents in a cemetery in Oakbrook, Illinois.


James Philip David Jr. ‘FLIP’  May 12 1950- August 1966

I did not expect to feel such terrible sadness and anger when I was writing this. Many things in my life, I have had to put in the past in order to survive and move on. I am glad though that I went ahead with writing this -really I had to.  I hope it may be helpful to someone else and be a reminder too, that things like this do not have to happen. CP

Below is a short video clip of Dr Elisabeth Kubler-Ross talking to high school kids about suicide. Please take the time to watch pretty much sums up everything I’ve been trying to say and you will not forget her message…

Also a relevant clip from The Dead Poet Society

*If you have found this blog helpful in some way, please make a contribution. This blog is my particular way of contributing: by hopefully passing on the wisdom of the many teachers I spent time with and learned from: Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, addictions counselor, John Bradshaw, near death survivor Dannion Brinkley and Anishnabe Elder, Dave Courchene as well as many hospice patients and Elders that were part of my life.
A few years ago I experienced a huge betrayal which changed my work and my life. I learned that ‘your best friend can be your worst enemy’ and I lost a lot: my job, my salary and I could no longer do the work I had planned to do. Looking for a way to continue, I started this blog. Part of my story is here and this is also where you can make a contribution
As we are all in some way connected in this life, I sincerely thank you for your help.
Cindy Pickard

PART 3 OF ‘My Life Story’ will be continued in the next post but I don’t what I’m calling it yet.


“No one would ever do anything if they knew what they were in for”~Amarante Cordova, the oldest man in Milagro/ THE MILAGRO BEANFIED WAR

*This is my story…I only write when I have a feeling to, never because I think I should. It’s calming for me and though I write for myself, maybe some of what I write may be helpful for someone else…..maybe this is a story of survival.  Last night, reading about some upcoming events that we on this Earth seem destined to live through, this seems so insignificant but I’ll go ahead with it…..who knows where things may lead.

me-ruth 19481

Me and my mom- Hinsdale, Illinois 1948

There’s a strong wind blowing as I’m writing this morning, so different from the Summer winds, it’s a Fall wind..the beginning of the change of the seasons… and I remember being 7 years old…


“As many people who are destined to go very deep, he experienced a not very pleasant childhood and early life..”

~Eckhart Tolle on Ralph Waldo Emerson

“We’re put here on Earth to learn our own lessons. No one can tell you what your lessons are; it is part of your personal journey to discover them. On these journeys we may be given a lot, or just a little bit, of the things we must grapple with, but never more than we can handle.”

~Elisabeth Kubler- Ross, MD



I remember being 7 years old…. me 1rst gradeand being taken to the shoe store to buy new saddle shoes.hockaday 4th gradeI went to a girls school then and we wore uniforms—green pinafores, white ruffled blouses and brown and white saddle shoes…

The smell of new saddle shoes..the Fall

And it was the fall for me in the other sense of the word because I was suddenly yanked historic hinsdalefrom the beautiful little village of Hinsdale, Ilinois, a commuter village for Chicago.. me and grandpawhere I lived close to my grandparents, where some of the streets were still brick and there were big treesdupage fall and four seasons which my family loved to celebrate: Colored leaves, pumpkins and the smell of marigolds in the Fall, Snowsuits, skating and sledding.. SNOWSUIT ME                                                                 in the Winter,

Lilacs, apple blossoms and cool Spring days, and playing in my grandpa’s's garden

and the Magic….

beach copy crop copyof Lake Michigan in the Summer

And then came the blazing heat of late summer in Dallas, Texas. It was August 1954 and I remember sitting next to a tree in the dried brown grass and wondering how people were able to breathe in that heat. I had arrived in Hell.

My dad LOVED to play golf and he had taken a job with an investment firm in Dallas–dad:golfhe would be able to play golf year round but I don’t think he had taken into account the rest of the family-me, my younger brother and my mother but especially my mother–she had had not wanted to go. Years later I remembered a time maybe a year before we moved. I was probably 6, my brother was 3 and my parents were pulling us on our sled in the snow-they were talking about the move and I could feel my mother’s overwhelming depression….and fear.

My mother was already sick when we moved; she had some sort of terminal cancer which had not been diagnosed. She had not wanted to leave her parents

mimi:grandpa wedding                                       ……and the home where she had grown up219 e 3rd 2

but she felt obligated to be supportive of my dad and his new job.

“Many cancers can be linked to an emotional trauma one to two years before the onset of the cancer” ~Dr Keth Nemec

My grandfather, in an effort to bring my mother back to health, took her and her sister on a cruise aboard the Queen Elizabeth and so we moved that August of 1954. ..without her.  In September I started 2nd grade at The Hockaday School.


The Hockaday School  Dallas, Texas

I was shy to begin with and then with all the emotional drama swirling about, I was terrified. I remember trying to carry my lunch tray from the cafeteria to the 2nd grade room, shaking so badly, so afraid I would drop it. When we played bingo, I was afraid I might win which would mean having to go up to the front of the room. So I didn’t put the little tabs on the card and I never won.  I often threw up on the bus going to school and a few months before my mother died, I threw up in chapel. I was in the middle of a row and too shy to ask to get out so I threw up on my hymnal, on the song we were supposed to be singing.  It was I Would Be True on page 177 and after that, there were always little flecks of dried orange juice on that page:


I would be true, for there are those who trust me; I would be pure, for there are those who are; I would be strong, for there is much to suffer; I would be brave, for there is much to dare.


My mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer when she came back from her European trip though the truth was kept from her and from my brother and me. She was told she had a blood disease which could be treated successfully.  I remember riding in the backseat of the car as my dad drove her back from the doctor..there was complete silence and a feeling of fear. That feeling of fear and dread is often still with me today. and writing this, I realize that the feeling originated there and at that time.

After my mother’s cancer diagnosis, my dad hired a series of caregivers for my brother and I and my mother went back to Chicago to be in the hospital.File_01 bunny and m

After several caregivers who didn’t work out–one I remember wore a stiff, white nurse’s uniform to tale care of my brother and dad hired Mrs Wright. We called her Wrighty and I can see her now..short and chubby with prematurely gray hair, she was full of goodwill and kindness. Taking care of children who had lost a parent was her mission..She came to live with us about 2 years before my mother died and she stayed til my dad remarried about 2 years after.

My brother Flip and I only visited our mother once when she was in the hospital.St._Luke's_Hospital_Complex_B_Chicago_IL I remember that we had to stand outside the door of her room-she had some sort of bandage on her chest which she tried to cover up and she did not want us to come in. I think now that she knew almost from the beginning that she was dying and would not be part of our lives but because she could not talk with anyone about it, she began to distance herself from us…instinctively she began letting go..

The other part of that hospital visit that is still and will always be embedded in my memory, was going to the lab where experiments were being performed on animals. One of my mother’s doctors was a family friend and he had been told that I loved animals so he thought I would enjoy seeing the lab. For an already traumatized 8 year old child, it was horrifying and I remember like it was yesterday, looking in and seeing a monkey that was cut in half and looked like roast beef. To this day, it’s very difficult for me to go in or even near a hospital and I never eat roast beef.

My mother died when I was 9 and in 4th grade. My dad was with her when she died in the hospital, in Chicago and he flew back to Dallas early the next morning. He woke me up to tell me and I remember that I couldn’t think of anything to say. I had never been able to relate to my mother though it took me years to admit this.  I thought she was cold, righteous, spoiled and very judgemental but what I said was “She was so good” knowing that it was not my truth. I only wanted to comfort my dad.

We left the next day for her funeral which was held in her hometown of Hinsdale, Illinois. My brother and I were thought to be too young to go so we stayed at our grandparents house and were given new toys to distract us.western union

The way her death was handled: that she was never told the truth about her diagnosis, that we were not allowed to go to her funeral had a lasting, traumatic effect on both my brother and I. Just 7 years later, at another Chicago hospital, Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Rossekr at workshop copy would begin her pioneering work with terminally ill patients, ‘bringing death out of the closet’ and from that time on, File_01 ekr:khamalapatients and their families would be told the truth about a terminal diagnosis and young children would no longer be left out.death and dying cover

After the funeral, when we returned to Dallas, a kind of darkness descended. I didn’t miss my mother but it was January, cold and dark and I felt so isolated. There were no school counselors then so I had no one to talk too and my dad was dealing with so much. ruth:phil weddingI believe that he and my mom were soul mates. He missed her terribly and he had a new job and no idea how to raise 2 little kids.

But with Wrighty, we entered into a time where there was not complete happiness but there was a respite from the halloween

smokey and meAfter my mother’s death, my dad had gotten me a pony I named Smokey and Wrighty faithfully sat in the car while I rode every day after school. I was a tomboy then, getting my hair cut at the barber shop, taking care of my pony. Isolated in may ways, I  lived in a sort of emotional vacuum where there was a kind of peace..

In the summers we -my brother and I, along with our cousins from Chicago- went to be with our grandparents in Michigan. When I was a new baby they had bought a cottage on Lake Michigan…. beach family and I lived there every summer til I was 16 when my grandmother sold the cottage. I never cried so hard before or since that day, the day the cottage was sold…. It had been my lifeline. It’s impossible for me to express in words what those summers meant to me…sadness overwhelms me but I go back often in my dreams….rb lighthouse copy

                                                          The fog comes
                                                          on little cat feet.
                                                          It sits looking
                                                       over harbor and city
                                                        on silent haunches
                                                        and then moves on.
                                                          ~Carl Sandburg

badger sunset

After my mother’s death I expected life to continue on in this way: Wrighty would stay with us forever and in the summers I would live with my grandparents and cousins in the cottage on the lake. And so I was oblivious to the fact that my dad was starting to date- he had met my future stepmother and he brought her over to meet us. I did not like her but I had no idea she was about to become a part of my life. Another huge life change was coming…and it was almost more than I could bear.

One afternoon when I was 11, my dad came up to my room. He sat down on my bed and said “How would like to go to a wedding?” “Whose?” I asked innocently. “Mine” my dad answered.”What will happen to Wrighty ?” I asked. “She’ll have to find another job/” said my dad.

So they got married and my brother and I were given 2 weeks [while my dad and stepmother were on their honeymoon] to start calling our stepmother ‘Mom’ ….which was confusing….me, ruth, flip  because that’s what we had called our own mother

My stepmother had 2 teenage boys-Billy and Lewis and it was decided that they would call my dad Phil. Her daughter Betty was my brother’s age and she called my dad Dad. Every morning before we left for school, we were served breakfast by the maids and then we were instructed to kiss my stepmother when we got up from the table.

Every so often, I was allowed to visit Wrighty who had taken another job, caring for a baby whose mother had died. These visits however, were being curtailed because it was felt that they were preventing me from becoming closer to my stepmother. Eventually I decided not to go anymore. It was too painful..better not to go at all…I was learning how to cut myself off from pain and I never saw Wrighty again.

My beloved pony, Smokey…SMOKEY'S HEAD was another casualty during this time–my stepmother got rid of him when I was at camp. He had been my best friend through the lonely times. I never asked what happened to him… I just pushed away the sadness. There was nothing else I could do.

Those years are kind of a blur probably because I don’t want to remember them. My stepmother immediately set out to change me from a little heathen into the kind of girl she wanted me to become. She took me to the beauty parlor to get a perm, bought me the clothes she wanted me to wear and threw away the clothes I had that she didn’t approve of. Sometimes at dinner-we had formal dinners every night served by the maids, she told me how ugly I was. a teenager, my skin was very oily and broken out.

She was disappointed that I wasn’t popular at school and one afternoon, she came to my room to give me some advice. She told me that she had noticed I wasn’t popular and she thought it would help if I made an effort to copy the personalities of some of the popular girls.

Though my dad and stepmother were married for 45 years, the hope for the marriage fell apart almost immediately [it was bound to] and sometimes at night I heard my stepmother yelling angrily at my dad that he still loved Ruth. He did and he was making comparisons:

My mother had a masters degree in Latin from Wellesley College. She taught piano and tutored high school kids in Math… ruth:repug.jpg…..and she had political ambitions.

My stepmother on the other hand, came from a wealthy Dallas family, had never worked and was mainly interested in going shopping, playing bridge and going to parties. She liked to drink vodka martinis while my mother never drank at all.

We moved from Dallas to Houston and I remember waiting every day outside our house for my dad to come home from work. I was so miserable and I wanted to talk to him but everyday he put me off.  “Tomorrow we will talk. I promise.” he would say but tomorrow never came. My stepmother had started drinking a lot–double vodka martinis at our neighbors who were her close friends. She was very disappointed in my dad and the amount of money he was making.  Her father had been a very successful rancher…

papa will

William Jenks Lewis was      the owner of the very large and  prosperous RO Ranch in Clarendon, Texas

“The RO Ranch was named for its owner…rowe bros.jpg…an Englishman called Alfred Rowe. Alfred Rowe died in the Titanic disaster and in 1917 William J. Lewis, a former top hand for the RO, arranged to purchase this acreage and the cattle from the Rowes for $595,113.26. At the height of his prosperity, William Lewis had built up an empire consisting of 140,000 acres of land with over 10,000 head of high grade Hereford cattle…”

My stepmother was making comparisons and years later she would often say ” Your daddy was a good man but he was no businessman.”

Meanwhile my brother Flip was beginning to react to all the loss and trauma… He was running away and often the police would call when they found him.


James Philip David Jr. “FLIP’  Admiral Farragut Academy 1964

A child psychiatrist advised my dad that Flip needed counseling, needed help badly but instead my dad sent him to military school in Florida “where they make boys into men.” And that was the beginning of the end.

*It may seem as if there was nothing good or positive that happened during these times that I have written about and that my stepmother was an ogre. There were some good things..some from time and in the last years of her life, I came to really love and care for my stepmother. We would never really understand each other but I was able to see that she was only raising us or trying to, in the way that she had been raised. It was all she knew. CP


My stepmother, Anne Lewis David with two of her great grandchildren

*If you have found this blog helpful in some way, please make a contribution. This blog is my particular way of contributing: by hopefully passing on the wisdom of the many teachers I spent time with and learned from: Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, addictions counselor, John Bradshaw, near death survivor Dannion Brinkley and Anishnabe Elder, Dave Courchene as well as many hospice patients and Elders that were part of my life.
A few years ago I experienced a huge betrayal which changed my work and my life. I learned that ‘your best friend can be your worst enemy’ and I lost a lot: my job, my salary and I could no longer do the work I had planned to do. Looking for a way to continue, I started this blog. Part of my story is here and this is also where you can make a contribution
As we are all in some way connected in this life, I sincerely thank you for your help.
Cindy Pickard





Part of The Great Galaxy  by Michael Grindstaff   Horseshoe Canyonn, Utah

“Protest, conflict and anger will do nothing. That is not the way of the Creator. We will not move forward if we are angry and bitter. We must move forward with love and kindness. Even toward those who have perpetrated injustice toward us. We must love them and be kind to them. That is the spirituality of our people – to be kind to each other and to the land. That is how they will learn and how we will heal.”
~Turtle Lodge Elder, Dave Courchene


I haven’t felt like writing anything lately–I’ve felt tired, angry, disgusted with the world– not the Earth but with its people especially those who ‘run’ the world governments [with a very few exceptions].

Sometimes at night I sit by the big window in my sun room and wait for the ship that will come and pick me up and get me out of here! I have heard several times that Earth is the most primitive of all the planets..the most difficult to live on….and the White Race, the baby of the 4 original races.-you-are-here-galaxy-space-science-poster-print

Waiting for the ship…..turtlelodge_skylight may seem to be a is and it isn’t. I cannot relate to the ugliness in this world anymore.

So looking for some hope, inspiration, some light in this darkness, I think of the time I spent with the First Nations People of Canada, turtlelodgepic copyin particular at the TURTLE LODGE in Manitoba.

My son and I made two documentary films thereturtle lodge-jacko Below are some photos from these films: The 8th Fire and Manitou Api~Where the Sun Rises…also a film clip and the trailers from both.

blue tipi

8th fire stills grandmotherdave-closeup-turtle-site

drummerspetroform drummers -eagle  2red shadow:turtle lodge



dave-frank-film crew


bob-bigfoot-color copy


sasquatch-feetigniting-the camp

jacko-drumsceltic drummers 2taiko drummers


kids circle

kids circle-chinese girllittle boy-camp-1

These documentaries are SO relevant now, not because we made them but because they bring forth the wisdom of the Elders–they can help if people will only take time to watch and listen. But it’s difficult to get anyone’s attention in these times, in the age of selfies and Facebook.

“Nero fiddled while Rome burned” ‘ROME’ IS BURNING NOW:….this world teeters on the brink: North Korea fired off another missile today, the government of the US has dissolved into complete and total insanity, Hawaii is preparing for a nuclear attack…..

But there’s still a little time..a very little time to wake up…a little time to make some changesthunderbird-dustin

The 8th Fire and Manitou Api~Where the Sun Rises are available here

8th Fire – Njacko Backo clip from Andy Pickard on Vimeo.

Manitou Api ~ Where The Sun Rises from Andy Pickard on Vimeo.


Pay what you want is a pricing strategy where buyers pay their desired amount for a given commodity, sometimes including zero. In some cases, a minimum  price may be set, and/or a suggested price may be indicated as guidance for the buyer. Pay what you want has long existed on the margins of the economy, such as for tips and street performers, as well as charities, and has been gaining breadth of interest.

pay want you want betterFor a year now, I’ve been selling our stuff–handmade home altars, crosses, tire flower pots, Native American designed t-shirts and hoodies, wood carvings etc in 2 online stores: — Big Cartel and one on Etsy.neo:la casa I know how to make everything look beautiful as far as design and presentation–I love doing this and I spend a lot of time on it. But I don’t like marketing. Truthfully I detest it and as much as I’ve tried to enjoy it, for me it’s like being back in math class where I was miserable and participated in with fear and loathing.  Even with a tutor, I failed math.

But a few days ago, I happened to read an article about PAY WHAT YOU WANT.  “Pay what you want is a pricing strategy where buyers pay their desired amount for a given commodity, sometimes including zero. In some cases, a minimum  price may be set, and/or a suggested price may be indicated as guidance for the buyer

Apparently the concept has been around for a while, used by musicians, artists, writers etc. and it fits with the way I think. So I’m going to try it out. I will set a minimum price on whatever we’re selling on a particular day



and then you can pay whatever you want above the minimum.

A few days ago, I tried  this it out with a man who was interested in one of our handmade home altars.PURPLE:90+ ROSES ALTARS His wife had died a few weeks before, after a long and painful illness, and he wrote  “I think it will be very healing to have the altar in my home” The altars normally sell for $150 and we have sold several at that price but I gave him a minimum price of $70.00 which would cover shipping and materials.

Surprisingly he chose to pay the full price of $150.00 and I sent the altar to him.. He wrote: Everything was received safely. The altsr is so beautiful and exactly how I hoped it would look and feel in my sun room where I meditate.”

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s $12 Tickets

Years ago I used to help organize lectures for Dr. Elisabeth Kubler -Ross. At that time, Elisabeth was at the height of her popularity-she was lecturing to huge audiences all over the worldekr_mike

and she could have easily charged a lot for the tickets–people would have paid almost any price to be able to hear her– but she wanted everyone who needed to come to be able to. So the price for a ticket was $12.00 and as a result of her generosity and goodwill, her lectures were always filled to standing room only.

No one was left was just a really good feeling……there was always a lot of spiritual energy, joy and a feeling of belonging.

Everything we create is meant to bring feelings like this— a connection to something greater, a message of hope and transcendence. These truly are the times of transcendence and transformation.


I’m not sure exactly how to begin but I think every few days [I hope] I’ll post something-an altar, a hoodie or t-shirt, a woodcarving etc that is available for ‘Pay What You Want’. I’ll set a minimum price to cover shipping and materials on whatever it is and then you can pay what you want above the minimum.

*If you want to purchase something, email me at let me know the size if applicable & your shipping address and I’ll tell you how to pay. I should be able to ship things within a few days after I receive a payment.

And so I’ll begin with our 7 Sacred Teachings, Native American designed hoodies. Today it’s the Eagle Hoodie, the Eagle representing LOVE in the Seven Sacred Teachings of the Anishnabe People:’

The Seven Teachings

Our belief system has evolved over thousands of years, now to be shared with the rest of the world. In a most humble way, in a most loving way, in a most respectful way, in a most honest way, we have come to share these teachings with the world because in our hearts we believe that if we do not share this then we stand to lose all that has been created for us.

-Anishnabe Elder, Dave Courchene, Eagle Clan, Anishnabe Nation


These hoodies have a message on the back. They were designed this way so the message can be passed on to others..anyone standing behind you in a store will likely read it and who knows how they may be affected..or inspired. “The Eagle brings a vision of LOVE that helps us see how we should walk in love and sacredness on Mother Earth. ALWAYS ACT IN LOVE”eagle_back_ceneagle-hoodie-back-cabin


*If you want to purchase something, email me at let me know the size if applicable & your shipping address and I’ll tell you how to pay. I should be able to ship things within a few days after I receive your payment.

For us-Jody Armijo and myself, our art is our contribution in this lifetime….for Jody it’s the altars, hearts and crosses he createshobbit private [lately he’s started making signs.] For me it’s the documentary films my son and I have producedstar cover38..and this blog which I hope brings inspiration and helpful information. Our art is our life: it’s the way we communicate and it’s the way we support ourselves, our home and our animals. We hope that as we share our art, it not only benefits us but those who purchase it, that it brings the sense of happiness that we feel as we create a rainbow.!