Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Be Kind

"Be Kind. Everyone you know is struggling."

Meditation puts me in the right frame of mind for my heart to meet your heart. Even when I am in the foulest of moods, I can sit quietly and bring in the light; a light I then can share. How do you maintain a compassionate heart?

For more information, check out this blog posting.

Living to 100

Friday, May 24, 2013

In the tragedy of others when the horror is unspeakable, we learn this truth: All beings are interdependent; All souls are in communion.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


I see the flattened homes, crumbled schools, piled up cars, and tear lined faces and I wonder how I could make a difference from so far away. This is Oklahoma but it is also Syria, sub-Saharan Africa, and Afghanistan.  So I do what matters most -- I pray knowing I am a drop in a larger ocean of prayers offering courage for first responders, hope for refuges, strength for parents who face the unthinkable loss, and healing for broken hearts. I know prayer makes it possible for us to reach out in love when all we feel is crippling helplessness. So pray dear friends and do so with the faith of a child.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Moth to Flame

Beauty does have power and like all power it can abuse and corrupt. Take Mike Jeffries, the CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch. It's bad enough he defends the store's policy of not carrying any clothing for plus size women, but he demands those who work for him in submissive positions -- his housekeepers, the cabin crew for his private jet, and his drivers -- come from his own modeling agency and adhere to the advertising "look"  of A&F: all must wear the polo, blue jean, underwear, and flip flops of an A&F ad with a spritz of cologne. The beauty of people on television or in magazine ads is exceptional so unless you live in LA and frequent only the "in" places, beauty of that scale is for the few and not for the rest of us. I am not Angelina Jolie and neither do I work with someone of her beauty in any of my circles. Ever. Yes there are attractive people in my office, some are my patients and others my clients but none of them come close to looking as good as A & F ad or the hundreds of others in Hollywood. No Brad Pitts or George Clooney types either.

And yet, these are the people ad agencies what us to aspire to. Let's be honest. Truthfully, we aspire to them. We are our own worst enemies. We then parade these ads to young people and the cycle of desire and self-loathing starts all over again. No wonder the Buddhist adage of "we all become what we hate," rings so true. How can we not be miserable when our hopes are impossible dreams of physical beauty.

Then there is aging as OLD Jeffries is discovering. Aging has a way of making us all look the same unless one choses the plastic surgery route as Jeffries has done.
 Then its old and creepy looking.

Jesus, the Buddha and other mystics rejected physical beauty as power and instead embraced the power of Love. And why is Love powerful? Because its source cannot be corrupted or abused. The Love from God heals the sick, brings comfort to the grief-stricken, food to the hungry and hope to the heartbroken. This Love does not seek physical beauty but radical kindness, life-changing compassion and inner humility.

Why have I worked as a hospice chaplain for children and adults all these years? Because as the body decays due to aging or cancer, the inner light of the dying person shines brighter. I am a moth to the flame.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Rich Manhattanites Pay Disabled Tour Guides so Kids Can Cut Lines at Disney World

I hope this article is a hoax. Wealthy Manhattan families hire disabled people to jump ahead in the lines at Disney World in Florida. This is so wrong on so many levels. "The love of money is the root of all evil." Money leads to greed --to love of money--to love of entitlement--to cynicism--to callousness--to evil.


Saturday, May 11, 2013

When A Mother's Love is Not Enough

For some, Mother's Day is heartbreaking. Women who want or wanted to be mothers but never had children, mothers whose children died before them, and people everywhere who miss a mother who has passed too soon, Mother's Day becomes a holiday to avoid at best and to flee from at worst. But for those of us who endure painful relationships with our mothers, we keep our mouths shut. There is no Hallmark card for the broken mother/child bond.

My mother was the best mother she could be. Raised in crippling poverty as the daughter of sharecropper parents, my mother knew hunger and shame everyday. Her father beat her, her siblings, and her mother whenever the mood struck him. And what love she received from her own mother was divided between six brothers and sisters. Life for her was so much harder than I will ever know.

Mother and Daughters
Our relationship has always been a perfect storm of alienation. Born too small to leave the hospital, I spent the first six weeks of my life in an incubator. The nurses prohibited my mother from holding me. It would be thirty-five years later before one of my many therapists would use the term "attachment" disorder to describe my issues. Growing up, my mother saw in me everything she didn't like about herself, and by my teenage years, I felt the same. We are naturally loud, opinionated, and big in our movements. My mother often told me the "truth" of what she thought about me both as a child and as an adult.  I felt her words as nausea-inflicting punches to my gut. Later I would understand what she was really saying -- I love you, but I don't like you. Worse it was the 60's and 70's when hitting kids was okay and there were no motherhood support groups. Nails dug into my arms and slaps across my face were acceptable forms of punishment. I won't get into the jealously conundrum. Thankfully, my Dad mediated and loved us both through our years together.

Mother was a rage-a-holic just like her own father and of course, I became one, too. It's neurological as much as its psychological. I can feel nerves fire and I want to cry out, lash out, rage against the universe, beat someone or something to a pulp -- sort of an adult form of colic. More therapy and frankly, meds have helped. God helped even more. My sister's love helped too.

As my mother aged, she mellowed and so did I, but once in my early 40's, she came up from behind and gave me a spontaneous and unexpected hug, I should have reveled in the affection, but my body tensed and cringed before my mind even knew what had hit it. Cell memory runs deep.

Now we have a kind of truce -- a love brokered in silence and anger. She is no longer critical of me and I pretend the past never happened. I watch her love her grandchildren unconditionally and I tell myself it's enough to heal my wounds. So here's my Hallmark card -- you were not the mother I needed or wanted, but I thank you for being the best mother you could be. And please know, I did my best, too.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Falling Up on Cheater's Mountain

Ten years ago, I climbed Mt. Sniktau in Colorado by myself. The mountain rises to 13,234 feet and at the top, I took in views of Loveland Pass, the Gore Range and Arapahoe Ski Resort.

But it's a cheater's mountain. 
With a starting elevation of only 12,000 feet and a hiking trail which requires no rope or gear, almost anyone with acclimated to high altitude lungs can huff and puff his/her way to the top. Even on this summer day, low clouds huddled in their own grey cloaks to keep out the cold, wind-chilled air. I certainly had on my sweater underneath my wind cheater. And at the top, I had my "Hills are alive moment," complete with me singing and twirling around, patting myself on the back, and in the age of cell phones, calling my workmates to gloat about my accomplishment. 

But that night as I tried to fall asleep, anxiety and fear twisted my bowels and kick-booted my heart; I had nearly died that day and only now, did I remember how close I had come. The memory gave me, and I assure you this is the best way to describe how spooked I'd become -- a good case of the heebie jeebies. 
With only 10% more of the climb to pursue to the top, I had managed as always to lose the trail. I am very good, adept really, at finding new paths in parks no one has ever thought of before. I'm also excellent at getting turned around and walking back the way I had just come, misreading maps, and not finding which end is up even with a compass. Getting lost is something of a talent I claim. So well above the treeline and with the trail clearly moving off to the left, I went right toward a severe slope covered in scree.  At one point, I decided it would be safer to scuttle on my butt across the medium sized rocks sliding under each step of my hiking boot, but as I turned to sit down, I saw a fellow hiker. I had just passed him making his way down twenty minutes before and now he was already a good half-mile away. I could barely make him out, but he was clearly watching me, and even from this distance, I felt his helpless, wide-eyed gaze. He could have been in his warm car by now. Why was he so interested in me?

And this is why I believe in ESP:
I heard his voice in my head, "You stupid, stupid bitch. You're about to die and it will be my sorry ass that has to tell the rangers I saw you fall."

And this is why I believe energy imbues all things:
I looked around. The slope area had shortened in width and its face had tilted up onto its side like a Fun House floor but with a thousand foot drop to the valley below. The rocks sang and danced, "we've fallen this far, what's a thousand feet more?"

And this is why I believe in the Divine:
My inner voice, just a whisper, said, "Go back. Carefully."
On my bottom, I inched my way back toward the edge of the scree field. The rocks jutted their pointy chins into my palms of my hand, but even so, slipped toward the drop. The hiker watched me scoot back, a good fifteen minutes, and when I was safe and able to stand again, he shot down the rest of the trail towards his car.

I try not to think about that day because I have the same reaction; panic builds in my cells, my breathing quickens and my heart bursts.  I had kept on walking across the scree, I had slipped and slid over the cliff face. I had fallen so long that for a moment I believed I was safe and could fly, but then I hit the ground.

And this is why I believe in multiple universes. One of me died that die. It all felt so real.

Christians Reject Other Religions on National Day of Prayer

Today is the National Day of Prayer and too many of my Christian brothers and sisters are outraged at President Obama for having the compassion to include all religions in a statement of participation and tolerance. At its best, any religion is a path toward the Divine; at its worst, religion becomes a country club intent on leaving others out. Let all our prayers today burn our hearts with love and empathy for all.

Meditation Makes for Good Genes

We've known for years meditation can improve our mental, emotional and spiritual health. We've suspected it has a positive impact on physical health and a study out of Stanford University confirms this theory and like all things weird and wonderful in our universe -- mediation changes us at the cellular level. You can read the post here and have a Happy Meditation Saturday!
We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human one.
Teilhard deChardin