Sunday, August 4, 2013


A bird sings, with no question of the beauty of its song, or its worth. Its whole being engaged in the vitality of the moment.  I believe that this vitality of life can be expressed up until our last breath, as a simple and courageous expression of who we truly are...and that goes beyond our personality, and beyond what we usually call "action".    Towards the end of life this might take the shape of a deep silence, of introspection, of attentiveness to a "task" that seems to exclude those around us and attentiveness to a personal journey that does not fit the usual definition of vitality, but is equally as vital as any other creative or active expression of who we are.   When we allow ourselves to be, just as we are, during any stage of our life, we give a precious gift to ourselves and to life as a whole... Each thing in its season... 

Please consider the quote below, by Martha Graham

  "There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. ...  -Martha Graham 1943 (via Brian Moran)

What if we felt our life, not our bodies, had no end?

The quote below is something to consider in terms of a life without that goes beyond the body we inhabit, the things we've done, the whole narrative of details...What is possible when we incorporate that sense of strength and gladness into our lives, up until the very last breath? It does not end sorrow, or grief, but opens a door to transcendence...

“The life pouring through us, pumping our heart and breathing through our lungs, did not begin at our birth or conception,” Joann Macy observes. “Like every particle in every atom and molecule of our bodies, it goes back through time to the first splitting and spinning of the stars.”   That realization, she concludes, can give us “strengths that we never imagined.”

             “When we claim this story as our innermost sense of who we are, a gladness comes...” 
                                                         from an article called The Greening of the Self" by Don Lattin.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Texas Conflict Coach blog radio: Tending Our Broken-Open Hearts: Keeping Peace

Texas Conflict Coach Tending Our Broken-Open Hearts: Keeping Peace . This show airs on April 9th, 5:00pm PST,  7:00pm CST,  8:00pm EST and 6 pm MTS. 
I'll be interviewed by Patti Porter, a skilled mediator with a very professional approach to her radio show, which was just named as #1 of the 10 best shows on mediation.

I hope you'll tune in, check out the webpage they made for me, or listen to the show on the archives sometime.


Friday, March 1, 2013

The Seasons of Our Life

  Our lives, like the seasons, each have their own unique splendor and challenges. 

In Summer we look with appreciation and pleasure at the apples and peaches and apricots that are hanging from the trees. We are energized in the weeks before the temperatures become too hot, and eager to fulfill the projects that have laid untended all winter. Summer is like our 3rd and 4th decades, when we see the fruit of our labor ripening and we begin to taste those fruits. We still seem to have plenty of time ahead of us.

 Then, in the early months of a New Mexican Fall we celebrate we harvest apples and chili and pumpkins. Red chili ristras and wreaths appear at the Farmers Market. There's the smell of roasting chili in the air and the aspen and cotton wood trees bring  waves of yellow, gold and orange to the mountain sides. Sunflowers, purple asters and blue chicory line our country roads. The air is crisp and clean and the season is made more precious by our awareness of its fleeting nature. It's the time to gather in the fruits of our labors, put away fruit for the winter and roast and peel green chilies to brighten up our winter meals. Might this be like our 5th and 6th decades, when we see the beauty of life unfolding and find ourselves more and more inclined to enjoy and appreciate it?
       Winter. The days are shorter, darker and chillier and it can be challenging to remember that, beneath the still and quiet vistas of frozen earth and snow, life continues. Seen and unseen, an interior growth is in process. Winter is a vital part of the earth's cycle; a time when the earth seems to be sleeping a deep and needed sleep. Winter requires an increased expenditure of our life energy  just to meet our basic needs. Winter is our 6th and 7th and 8th decades.
       Many festivals and celebrations of light and hope happen in the Winter. It's a time to come together and tell stories. A time to warm ourselves at the fire or warm ourselves in the companionship of friends and family. It's a time to dream. A time to share memories. A time to pass on what we know to those who will need that knowledge when Spring returns.
        In the Winter of our life we continue to grow; often in quiet, unseen ways. Relationships can deepen if we take the opportunity to express love, gratitude and shared memories with those who have been a part of our lives. We can review the life we have led and pass on the hard won wisdom we're acquired. We can seek and grant forgiveness, define our legacy, and achieve a sense of completion, a sense of the meaning of our life.
       The Winter of our life may not inspire the expectant delight brought by the first flowers of Spring or the sensuality carried on the lush breezes of early Summer; but it is a valuable season, a time for living fully. In a culture that focuses on youth and encourages busyness it is easy to forget that our life continues to unfold  until our last breath. But it does; and our personal legacy continues to reveal itself, living on in the friendships we have woven, the people we have loved, the work we did, the things we built (or unbuilt) the interests we've had and what we've shared with others. Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter-the precious seasons of our life.

Hospice: Big Hearts and Skilled Hands

      Great hospice work is being done every day but there are times when a Hospice Interdisciplinary team works together in a way that deeply touches everyone involved, demonstrating how the care and compassion hospice offers makes a lasting difference in the lives of individual’s and those who love them.
      Once during my employment with hospice, we served a man named Emilio, who had been married to his wife, Alicia, for 65 years. In those years they had never spent more than a night or two apart. While Emilio was under hospice care, Alicia was taken to the hospital for a serious lung infection. Her infection was treated but she grew weaker and weaker and when it became clear she would not recover she too was put on hospice service.
      The couple’s six adult children, and a score of grandchildren and great grandchildren, divided their time between visiting Alicia at the hospital and being with Emilio whose death was now imminent. Emilio knew that he was dying. His deepest wish was to say goodbye to his beloved wife. But he was far too weak to get out of bed.
      At the hospital Alicia whispered to her family members that she felt she should go home and see her husband right away, but she felt unsure that she was able to get into a car and make the trip. The family members reported this information to the hospice nurse, who passed it on to the Community Education Representative, who passed it onto the Executive Director. Ambulance services are expensive and usually not part of hospice care. But this was a special case and the Executive Director got on the phone and made special arrangements to facilitate Emilio’s dying wish to see his wife.
      Within 2 hours Alicia was taken by ambulance to her home. Her gurney was wheeled into the bedroom and lined up beside the bed she and Emilio had shared for so many years. For the next 2 hours Emilio and Alicia lay beside each other again, too weak to speak, but holding hands. Then Emilio, who did not want his sick wife to see him dying, asked that she be taken back to the hospital. Alicia passed away that evening.
       The family, who were anxious about delivering this news to Emilio, asked that the hospice Spiritual Care Coordinator come to the home and inform Emilio of Alicia’s death. The Spiritual Care Coordinator did as they asked and she and the hospice Bereavement Coordinator spent time with several of the children and other family members who wanted to speak about what had happened.
      Emilio died the next morning. The hospice RN and a CNA arrived to wash and dress him and help the family with details. Emilio and Alicia had a joint funeral and memorial service. Hospice staff attended the services, remarking on the powerful image of the two caskets entering the funeral home together.
      The unhesitating communication, care and cooperation among the members of the hospice team gave Emilio, his wife and his family, an opportunity to witness again the love between this couple and created a beautiful and lasting memory for the family to ease the pain of the dramatic loss of both their parents.