THE SACRED PLANT EPISODE 2

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

But this is not about smoking.

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE SACRED PLANT

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

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

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

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

To love is to recognize yourself in another

~Eckhart Tolle

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

~Dhani Harrison, son of Beatle George Harrison

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

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

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

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

I would not do it again.

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

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

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

Dr. James Pittman

LIVING LIFE TO THE FULLEST AT 95

File dr jim!  marian                                                          DR  JAMES PITTMAN

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

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

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

s sidekick

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

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

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

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

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

pittman tractor

and drive his tractor.

pittmn drive

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

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

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

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

Me: So, you don’t worry about it?

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

File_01 dr jim service

Jim, Gerri & Jason Briggs

WALKING THROUGH THE STORMS/ TEACHERS OF COURAGE AND GRACE

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Jim, Gerri and Jason Briggs : A family with AIDS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

quilt

quilt message

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

 One Night at the Turtle Lodge

CEREMONY AND SPIRIT/THE POWER OF THE DRUM

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

~Anisnhabe Elder Dave Courchene

red shadow:turtle lodge

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

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

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

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

On the night of the ceremony

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jessica Locke

MESSAGES FROM THE WORLD OF SPIRIT

File_01 jessica last ch

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

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

~Mary Locke

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

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

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

balloon

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

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

~Mary Locke

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

dear mr god

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

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

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

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

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

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

Turning Toward the Morning is available here

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

The American Indian Film Festival

WINNING!

american-indian-film-festival-graphic

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

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

filming ekr

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

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

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

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

noel 3 piece suit

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

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

Here are some stills and photos from the film.

File_02 OLD STARBLANKET

THE STARBLANKET BAND

unity ride-noel

Chief Noel Starblanket/UNITY RIDE

Noel_cemetary_pointing

Chief Noel Starblanket at his family cemetary

smallboy smile

Legendary Cree Chief, Robert Smallboy

smallboy-child

Robert Smallboy as a child

Bullet_Boots_color_correct copy

POWWOW

little boy-camp-1

Cree boy at Starblanket Reserve-Saskatchewan

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

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

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

aiff award

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

Ricardo Anglada

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

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

~Rick Anglada

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

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

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

rick anglada

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rick wrote again

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

**************************************************************************

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

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

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

Then he introduced Ricardo.

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

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

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

So in the words of the prophets:

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

MITAKUYE OYASIN:We Are All Related

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

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

COME TO THE EDGE [My Life Story Part 4]

“Should you shield the canyons from the windstorms, you would never see the beauty of their carvings.”
~Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

*I took a little break from writing ‘My Life Story’ but then I got some unexpected encouragement so I’m continuing on. Photo above: Cindy Pickard, Dr.Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and Andy Pickard

THE ‘THERAPIST’

I sunk to the very bottom when I was 26 years old…I was drinking day and night and I was cutting myself-my arms with razor blades. I was desperately unhappy and I didn’t know who to talk to or what to do. My parents were not sympathetic..they had dreamed of the life they thought I should be living and I was disappointing them hugely. I had a few friends but none who could understand what I was going through.

I made an appointment with a therapist someone recommended. This ‘therapist’ was a former Catholic priest married to a former Catholic nun. He was cold and unwelcoming and what he said to me was “I will only see you if you agree to work on your marriage.” “Work on”? How do you”work on” something when there’s nothing there? What I needed for the sake of myself, my son and my husband was to get out of the marriage.

I remember too that at that time I was wearing the engagement ring my dad had once given my mother.ruth:pearlsAnd even though I hadn’t liked my mother much..my mother died when I was nine ..the ring was really the only thing I had of hers. The ‘therapist’ spotted it and said to me “Why are you wearing that ring? Are you married to your father?”

What an idiot!! Trying to analyze someone when he knew nothing of life and this is true of so many ‘therapists’. There are very, very few who have the sensitivity and understanding to work with people in crisis and this man was not one of them. I didn’t go back for another appointment and I wrote a letter of complaint to the American Psychological Association.

I was even lower than low then…I was at the END.

JOHN BRADSHAW

But in my darkest hour something amazing happened: my stepsister got me an appointment with John Bradshaw..it was the 11th hour because John had decided not to take any more private clients. I was one of the very last.JOHN BRADSHAWJohn Elliot Bradshaw was an American educator, counselor, motivational speaker, and author who hosted a number of PBS television programs on topics such as addiction, recovery, codependency, and spirituality.

From the time I first walked in to John’s office at Palmer Episcopal Church in Houston, I knew that as bad as things seemed, somehow and in some way everything was going to be OK.

I think it was because John had the gift of Really Listening. I could talk to him freely about Everything without being judged….maybe it was because we were both the astrological sign of Cancer [Cancers are known to be sensitive and intuitive..and of course they also have their weaknesses] but John and I understood each other.

He had a sense of humor too…When I told him about my drinking problem, he told me he wanted me to go to AA. I told him I didn’t want to go and he said “Just try it for 6 weeks and if you don’t like it, you’ll be right in time for the holidays and you can start drinking again.” I liked this non serious approach to my shameful problem and I went to AA meetings.. for a while.

Then after maybe 6 months, I couldn’t stand another meeting. I think the end came for me when a homeless man walked into one of the meetings..he had a six pack of beer and he sat down hoping I felt, to be somehow included. This particular meeting was made up of doctors, lawyers and business people mostly from the upper class and they would have had nothing to do with him beer or no beer. So sadly, no one spoke to him and I never went to another meeting.

When I had my next appointment with John, I told him that the only time I had ‘a desire to drink’ was after an AA Meeting. “Then don’t go” he said “They aren’t right for you.” And I didn’t go and I didn’t drink for about 5 years and when I did start drinking again, it was no longer a problem….because I ‘had a life.’

John understood from the beginning that I had to get out of my marriage..he was supportive all the way through and often when I didn’t know what to do, he would say “Make a decision not to make a decision today.” And that helped me a lot.

Eventually I got a divorce and though it was painful in some ways and I was totally terrified, I was free to start on my journey. I could never have followed the path I’ve followed in this lifetime if I had been married or even in a serious relationship. I needed to be free of the expectations of others.

DR. ELISABETH KUBLER-ROSS

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“Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, M.D. (July 8, 1926 – August 24, 2004) was a Swiss-born psychiatrist, a pioneer in Near-death studies and the author of the groundbreaking book On Death and Dying(1969), where she first discussed what is now known as the Kübler-Ross model. In this work she proposed the now famous Five Stages of Grief as a pattern of adjustment.”

My time of therapy was ending with John when Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross came to Houston to do a lecture at The University of Houston. I had no plans to go to the lecture but my boyfriend at the time had a ticket and he gave it to me.

So I went by myself and I sat in one of the back rows of the auditorium…. Elisabeth was introduced and started to speak and the sound system went out completely. Elisabeth had a strong German accent and she was very soft-spoken so she was not able to project her voice without a microphone. She asked everyone who wanted to hear her to come to the very front row but most of the audience didn’t want to do that..they preferred to sit where they were and complain.

I moved to the very front row however..right in front of Elisabeth. I didn’t want to miss a word she said..there was something mystical and life changing happening..information I needed..I could feel it.ekr hand

Elisabeth talked about her 5 day live in workshops which were held throughout the world and which she called Life, Death and Transition/LDT Workshops.paul: ekr workshopShe explained that those people with the greatest need [death of a child, terminal illness etc] were accepted into the workshops first and at that time, there was a 6 month waiting list.

The moment I got home, I called the Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Center and got on the waiting list.

COME TO THE EDGE

“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

Six months later, with fear and trepidation, I traveled to Oceanside, California for my first LDT workshop.

It’s not possible to put into words what that workshop was like…..I’ve never experienced anything like it on this Earth, not anything that could begin to compare.

A group of 70 or so people from all over the U.S, Canada and Europe, came together, many of whom had experienced the greatest tragedies that life can bring: a woman who while skiing with her 9 year old son, watched him ski off a cliff and die,… File_01 ekr:khamalaA couple who after losing their 12 year old son to cancer, courageously brought their terminally ill, 14 year old daughter to the workshop…she died a few weeks later. A young dentist dealing with a recent ALS diagnosis,…

booksign-ekr-works1…a man whose wife/soulmate had died only a few days before in a Chicago plane crash. And then were those of us who were dealing with past losses and grief and as well, a few chaplains, social workers and psychiatrists. These were the people who made up the workshop.

Every one who wanted to [there was never any pressure to do anything] worked with Elisabeth one on one but in front of the group. She wanted us to understand that though we might think that we are alone with our problems and that our pain is unique, we all share the same feelings..we are not alone but rather all connected. Or in the words of the Native American People: ‘MITAKUYE OYASIN’ We Are All Related.

We worked hard from probably 9 am til far into the evening…there was a lot of crying and screaming and File_06 ekr wkshop singthen there was a lot of singing–people brought their guitars, flutes etc and we sang songs like Where Have All The Flowers Gone and Elisabeth’s favorite You Are My Sunshine.

During the workshop, from time to time Elisabeth’s ‘read’ our drawings. At the beginning of the workshop, we were all given a piece of white paper, a box of crayons and 10 minutes to make a drawing. This is a whole line of study in itself

eliza's drawing

This drawing though it is not from the workshops is an example of the kind of drawings that people made. This was drawn by a teenage girl who died a few years after she did this drawing

On the last evening a bonfire was built and everyone gathered around, sang songs and any spiritual leaders-ministers, rabbis, imams were invited to say a prayer from their particular religion.

Then one at a time, the participants came to the fire and threw in a pine cone which represented what they were leaving behind and what they wanted to take with them.

shooting starElisabeth usually told some of her favorite stories during the workshops. One that I never forget was the story of a woman whose young daughter was killed by a shark. This woman had taken her children to the beach; she had closed her eyes for just a few minutes and her daughter who was wading near the shore was suddenly grabbed by a shark. When they tried to recover her body, only her hand was left.

This grieving mother came to a workshop and she brought with her one of her daughter’s dresses-people often brought photos and personal items of the ones they had lost. Elisabeth suggested to this woman that she might let go of the dress..some time had passed but the woman didn’t want to and Elisabeth said no more. That night however at the bonfire, this grieving mother courageously brought her daughter’s dress instead of a pine cone and at the very moment she threw the dress into the fire, a huge shooting star shot across the night sky. This was the magic of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and the Life, Death and Transition workshops.

For me, these were the years of learning, and preparation for what would come next.

One evening I answered the phone and the voice on the other end said “Hello Cindy, this is Elisabeth.” I was so shocked, I hardly knew what to say. The world famous Elisabeth Kubler-Ross calling ME??? But that’s how she was..completely down to earth, always accessible except to those who she felt were using her–At the workshops, she was often up most of the night, meeting with the ones who needed her.

In this case, she called because I had contacted her Center a few weeks earlier to ask if there was a way I could get off Valium and she was responding to that. She also asked me to pick her up at the airport –she would be coming into Houston in a few weeks to do another lecture. And of course I was very happy to do that!

File_01 ekr & the nuns

Cindy Pickard, Andy Pickard & Elisabeth making the bunny ears, and friends who were involved in bringing Elisabeth to Houston.

My time in Houston was thankfully coming to an end–my son and I moved to Austin after almost every home on our block was broken into. Austin was a welcome change and I continued my work with Elisabeth there, organizing some lectures for her.

Whenever Elisabeth gave a lecture, she always saw a few people privately and since I was organizing the lectures, I was also in charge of meeting with and scheduling the people who wanted to see her. I remember one lecture where nearly all those who came to meet with her privately, were parents whose sons had committed suicide.

suicide note chris

excerpt from a note written by a teenage boy who killed himself soon after this was written..

ekr:chris c

excerpt from a letter written by Elisabeth to the father of the boy who wrote the note above

In those days, I was working as an Occupational Therapy Assistant at a Rehab Hospital in Austin and I hated it! I hated it because the patients were not helped emotionally–the focus was entirely on trying to rehabilitate their bodies. Many of these patients were young and were either paralyzed or had head injuries from motor cycle accidents, diving accidents or car wrecks. And then there were the stroke patients. The atmosphere was filled with sadness, despair and hopelessness and one of my happier days was the day I told my supervisor that I was quitting..quitting and furthermore, I hated Occupational Therapy. You can call it unprofessional but it was just the simple truth. I went down to the cafeteria and had a biscuit with marmalade and I felt free again.

But I did have one experience there at that rehab hospital that made it worthwhile. I worked with a patient named Robert/Roberto who was completely paralyzed from the neck down. He was from Mexico and did not speak English but I could feel how kindhearted he was and also how much he was suffering. He had loved riding his motorcycle but his wife-I remember her name was Mary-was afraid of motorcycles and would never ride with him. One Mothers Day however, she agreed to go for a ride. It was a beautiful day and they were riding in the country when an old couple accidentally ran them off the road. Mary was killed and Robert was left completely paralyzed. He wanted to die and begged those who brought him to the hospital..to let him go.

Elisabeth was coming in to Austin to give a lecture and for some reason, I felt that Robert might want to go. He wouldn’t be able to understand her but still…So I talked with Robert’s nurse since he would be responsible for getting Robert to the lecture. “It’s a waste of time.” he said. “He won’t be able to understand anything..it’s a waste of time.”

But finally he agreed that Robert could go.

When I picked Elisabeth up at the airport, she asked who would be at the lecture and I told her about Robert. “Then I speak directly to him.” she said. And she did somehow though there were probably 1000 people in the audience. She reached him in some way because he was changed after that. He committed himself to finding a way to care for his young children, he went back to school and I heard later that he married the recreation therapist.

I went to 2 more LDT workshops-one in California and one in Kamloops BC and I went to a few others that were given by Elisabeth’s staff. I also traveled to an ashram in India, consulted astrologers, went through some more counseling and read lots of spiritual books. I was learning a lot but I had no idea of what I was supposed to do with my life.

Then one afternoon I laid down to take a nap and as I put my head on the pillow, it was as if I fell into a sea of bright light. For a few minutes, warm bright light surrounded me. A change of some sort was coming…

PART 5 OF ‘MY LIFE STORY’ TO BE CONTINUED

Below is a video clip from a talk Elisabeth gave to high-school students and also the song, “If You Want To Sing Out” from the movie, Harold and Maude. I’m including it because it inspired me to quit my Occupational Therapy job which I needed to do in order to take  the next step on my journey. And it is one of my most favorite songs.

*If you appreciate this blog, if it’s meaningful in some way and you would like to contribute, I have a gofundme page and you can also contribute here Donate and Pay It Forward   MANY THANKS!

OF CATS AND MEN [THE CAT WHISPERER]

syl poses in snow“I have lived with several Zen masters — all of them cats.”

― Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

This is probably going to be a short little post…I just wanted to write something about cats..we have 4 and I wanted to write something light and hopeful…disconnecting from all the horror that seems to be life on earth today.

Animals and Nature will take us back to the center..where we all belong.

kittens:bob marleyAll my life I’ve had animals..my dad started getting me involved with caring for animals  after my mother died when I was 9. And I had all sorts of animals, birds and reptiles including chickens, a parakeet, rabbits, turtles, a skunk, hamsters, a dog named Beetle Bombme:flip:beatle

smokey and meand a horse named Smokey.

I remember my first animal/bird was a baby chick my dad won for me at The State Fair of Texas. At that time, in the 50s, you could throw a penny into a container and win a chick. I was so excited! I named the chick Chee and watched him grow into a large rooster.

turtle_greenIn the summers, I carefully transported my turtles from Texas to Michigan where I lived with my grandparents. In our little community there on the Lake Michigan, once a week there were frog and turtle races for the kids. It was a time of innocence, of being part of Nature and my turtles always participated.

These animals helped bring me through a sad and lonely time when people were not very helpful.

THE ARRIVAL OF THE CATS

I call animals “guardians of Being,” especially animals that live with humans. Because, for many humans, it’s through their contact with animals they get in touch with that level of being.

Eckhart Tolle

I don’t remember being especially drawn to cats though I’ve had a couple through the years; I don’t think I really appreciated them until recently.

When I moved to northern New Mexico 8 years ago, I adopted a cat for the purpose of killing mice. I named this cat Phantom because he hid for quite a long time. When he came out of hiding, he didn’t kill any mice but I came to totally love and appreciate him.phantom stare

Some years later, the mouse population was out of control and I adopted Maggie, a cat from a rescue center in Taos NM

maggiemorning-light-816Maggie went to work on the mice immediately–I think she killed 40 in a matter of days. morning catsShe is the sweetest of beings….very gentle, very feminine and she talks all the time.

So we had 2 cats, 2 horses and 3 wolfdogs-most of them rescues- when Jody [the Brown Piglet in this blog] brought home a very tiny kitten.little-bear-ponderNaturally he [we thought he was a she at first] was so cute and irresistible as kittens are, but we were struggling to feed all the animals we already had. I didn’t want any more but Jody quickly became attached to the kitten–we called him Osa’ for bear in Spanish.

Not much time passed before Jody brought home another kitten from the same litter. He was about to be sent away to live as a barn cat and Jody wanted to rescue him…. we also thought he was a girl at first and named him Selena but eventually he became SylvesterosaselenaI distanced myself from the kittens…we were having a difficult time financially and for me they were another responsibility that we could not afford.

Jody however, was becoming more and more attached to them..he treated them like children and would not think of letting them go outside even for a moment.

They were getting into trouble…tearing things up, knocking lamps over..so he decided they would stay in the barn during the day.redman looking

He spent hours and hours fixing it so they could not get out..putting chicken wire around the bottom and at the top but they always escaped. I could see how hard  he was trying to protect them…he called them the sons he had always wanted but never had.

He worried about them endlessly…if they coughed once or threw up, he got very upset and I began to realize that Oso and Sylvester were probably the first pets he had ever had, the first that actually belonged to him.

People who knew him could not believe that someone who appeared to be so tough, so macho, had spent much of early life in prison and jail, had totally fallen for these 2 kittens.jody-don't come here copy

But I realized that they were providing the same kind of comfort as my animal family had provided for me when I was little. Jody’s love for the kittens was taking him back to the little boy he once was before he was forced to fight and prove himself to his violent and abusive father.

We found a wonderful service in Santa Fe that provided funding for neutering and spaying cats and once they were neutered Jody agreed that could spend a little time outside during the day…..oso purple:lookingfeeling hopeful3

I had never seen cats behave the way Oso and Sylvester do with Jody……cats have always seemed to me to be very independent beings..living alongside humans but separately…keeping their own counsel

but Oso and Sylvester seem more like dogs..

jody:os2

following him everywhere..

jody:os3

just like a dog would.

jody:os4

Most amazing are the daily cat massages Jody gives Oso.

oso cat massage 2 None of the cats I have known have liked their stomachs to be touched and will often bite os cat massage 1but Oso enjoys a massage almost like a human

And so I think this is The POWER of LOVE ….which heals, which unites, which brings compassion and understanding and beauty into this world…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Below is author Kinky Friedman’s Eulogy for his cat Cuddles…..and Memory from CATS because it is one of my most favorite songs

*If you appreciate this blog and would like to contribute in some way, I have a gofundme page and you can also contribute hereDonate and Pay It Forward I have not updated the gofundme page lately–Our priority right now is caring for and feeding our animals, most of whom are rescues. You can also buy a t-shirt, which communicates a message and helps support our wolfdogs  MANY THANKS!LAND TSHIRT:WALL

EPILOGUE

On January 4, 1993, the cat in this book and the books that preceded it was put to sleep in Kerrville, Texas, by Dr. W.H. Hoegemeyer and myself. Cuddles was fourteen years old, a respectable age. She was as close to me as any human being I have ever known.

Cuddles and I spent many years together, both in New York, where I first found her as a little kitten on the street in Chinatown, and later on the ranch in Texas. She was always with me, on the table, on the bed, by the fireplace, beside the typewriter, on top of my suitcase when I returned from a trip.

I dug Cuddles’ grave with a silver spade, in the little garden by the stream behind the old green trailer where both of us lived in the summertime. Her burial shroud was my old New York sweatshirt and in the grave with her is a can of tuna and a cigar.

A few days ago I received a sympathy note from Bill Hoegemeyer, the veterinarian. It opened with a verse by Irving Townshend: “We who choose to surround ourselves with lives even more temporary than our own live within a fragile circle…”

Now, as I write this, on a gray winter day by the fireside, I can almost feel her light tread, moving from my head and my heart down through my fingertips to the keys of the typewriter. People may surprise you with unexpected kindness. Dogs have a depth of loyalty that often we seem unworthy of. But the love of a cat is a blessing, a privilege in this world.

They say when you die and go to heaven all the dogs and cats you’ve ever had in your life come running to meet you.

Until that day, rest in peace, Cuddles

KINKY FRIEDMAN
FEBRUARY 5, 1993
MEDINA, TEXAS

CATS

Cats is an award-winning musical composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber based on Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats and other poems by T. S. Eliot.

MY FIRST SELFIE and Why I Don’t Stand Up For The Anthem [they’re connected]

wolf selfie 2*If you’re an American patriot, you probably won’t like this post

“What the indigenous people have always said …. is to treat the land with respect because out of that respect comes all that we need to live and to survive and also comes the knowledge to help us understand how sacred life is, how sacred each of us are. All life has a purpose, all life has meaning and we are all connected,  we are all related,  we are all one in the eyes and the love of our Great Spirit. When we can understand that I believe that’s when we will achieve that harmony and that peace that many of us are searching for.

~Elder Dave Courchene, Eagle Clan, Anishnabe Nation

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This hell on earth we’ve made of the planet has a silver lining of sharp-edged, shared and awakening awareness of the danger to our future.

These travails of our own making can be our undoing or transformation…..

Yet in you and I is a potential seed of a better humanity, ….. it’s time for the prophecies of a new humanity to be proclaimed.

~John Hogue/Hogue Prophecy

I never take selfies….. I actually hate them but last night I thought maybe I need to do one for my Facebook profile picture [which for a while, has been a small green alien] so this morning I found my winter wolf attire and I took these photos above. I don’t have a cell phone so this is the best I could do.

But before I took the photos, I happened to read a news headline which seemed to say that Donald Trump was suggesting that NFL players who don’t stand for the ‘Anthem’ should be fired. I felt a wave of fury come over me. Isn’t this a flashback to the Hitler Regime? Doesn’t anyone see?

I’m not writing about politics though…I’m writing about the end of the old and the beginning of the new.

Thinking about this-firing NFL players because they don’t stand for the Anthem, I thought about how I never stand for the Anthem and I thought about how ever since I can remember, I have instinctively disliked the Pledge of Allegiance.  Why? I wasn’t a particularly rebellious kid, always got my homework done, liked school, liked learning.

This expresses how I felt when forced to say The Pledge of Allegiance in 2nd grade.me 1rst grade

So I looked up the words of the Anthem, The Pledge of Allegiance and a song I’ve always disliked, Onward Christian Soldiers. And I understood why even as a young child, I could not repeat these words.

THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

” ….one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”  What does this mean….what about all the other nations? Are they not approved by God?

And “liberty and justice for all? REALLY?..where does that happen? Does anyone really believe that? Did the Native People feel this “liberty and justice for all” when the United States took their land, poisoned them with smallpox, herded them on to reservations?  These are just meaningless words that blind people to the Truth, sugar coat reality and the people repeat them like robots.

trail tears
“LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL”? ~ THE TRAIL OF TEARS “At the beginning of the 1830s, nearly 125,000 Native Americans lived on millions of acres of land in Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, North Carolina and Florida–land their ancestors had occupied and cultivated for generations. By the end of the decade, very few natives remained anywhere in the southeastern United States. Working on behalf of white settlers who wanted to grow cotton on the Indians’ land, the federal government forced them to leave their homelands and walk thousands of miles to a specially designated “Indian territory” across the Mississippi River. This difficult and sometimes deadly journey is known as the Trail of Tears
THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER
“And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there”
[WAR..ALWAYS ABOUT WAR AS IF IT’S SOMETHING TO BE REVERED?]
And this..what do these words mean? they’re ugly and repulsive…do you really want to sing words like this????
 “Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution!
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave”

~from THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER

ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS

Onward Christian soldiers
Marching as to war..

[WAR AGAIN…I’M NO EXPERT BUT I ALWAYS THOUGHT JESUS WAS ABOUT PEACE?}

Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war
With the cross of Jesus going on before
Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe
Forward into battle see His banners go

[AND WHO IS THE FOE/THE ENEMY? PEOPLE FROM OTHER RELIGIONS? THERE ARE  A LOT OF WORLD RELIGIONS..CHRISTIANITY IS ONLY ONE OF MANY…yes I know, people will claim they are marching against the devil but what is the devil but all this divisiveness they promote]

The time of separation is ending. For thousands of years, separation and divisiveness- the idea that one country is superior to another, that one race is superior, that one religion is the ONLY ONE  has caused more and more pain, unending wars, increasing, out of control hatred.

“I saw a New Heaven and a New Earth” A change is coming.

MY SELFIE/THE WOLF/HUMILITY

wolf selfie 2For my selfie, I put on my wolf hood that I sometimes wear in the winter. The wolf is my guiding spirit and I have 3 wolfdogs, 2 that I have rescued. If I could, I would surround myself with wolves…they are to me, the most beautiful of creatures but more than that:dakota winter window

For the Anishnabe People of Canada, the wolf represents Humility which they explain this way:

The teaching of humility is very important in our life. Much of the division we see in today’s world is because people have not understood the spirit of humility: to understand the spirit of humility is to understand that no one is above another human being. No one is greater than another human being in this life; no one is lesser than another human being.

To be humble is to see us equally in the eyes of the Great Spirit through the unconditional love of the Great Spirit. His love is expressed to all of us in the same way that the sun will shine on us. The sun does not choose to shine on any one person alone or any one race of people, it shines on all.

So in a way this is what this post is about. The Anthem/Star Spangled Banner is about the supposed superiority of one country- the United States..so also is The Pledge of Allegiance. And Onward Christian Soldiers is about the superiority of one religion-Christianity.

There is no understanding in their words that “no one is above another human being. No one is greater than another human being in this life; no one is lesser than another human being.

that: The sun does not choose to shine on any one person alone or any one race of people, it shines on all.

Below is a film clip from a documentary my son and I made called THE 8TH FIRE~One Earth, One Whole Circle Again.  Its message is what I have hoped to communicate in this post.

And Chief Crazy Horse’s Vision for these times:

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

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

 

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.

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.

chest-freezer-21008-005

BEFORE [not exactly the same freezer but similar]

diy-freezer-whole

AFTER

shelves with stuff 2

BEFORE

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

AFTER

glaze:diamond

AFTER

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

Bouteille Bottle

BEFORE

jug-wine

BEFORE

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

AFTER

wine bottle-wolf

AFTER

~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.

THERE ARE SO MANY MIRACULOUS HEALING REMEDIES FOR ALMOST EVERYTHING AND THEY COST ALMOST NOTHING.jody's huge plant9everydayoils

~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

SO WHERE AM I NOW?

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 year..it’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.

~Cindy

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.

PINTO BEAN RECIPE

READY IN:

16hrs

SERVES:

8

YIELD:

6 cups

UNITS:

US

Ingredients Nutrition

 Directions
  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.

WOLFDOG RESCUE

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.

apollosnowjan-17

APOLLO

sakina-leads-pack

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 together.buy 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 https://www.gofundme.com/poohsrainbow
As we are all in some way connected in this life, I sincerely thank you for your help-big or small..it doesn’t matter..
Cindy Pickard  fonehome@indian-creek.ne

 

stewart-ocate

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 lifestyle..so 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 https://www.gofundme.com/poohsrainbow
As we are all in some way connected in this life, I sincerely thank you for your help.
Cindy Pickard  fonehome@indian-creek.net