Thursday, December 08, 2011

A GA Sunset

photo by grassrootsmsw

It is hard to believe that a year ago my husband and I were living in Georgia and witnessing this sunset from our front yard.

So much has changed in this year.

Now we find ourselves in mid construction with a fixer upper back in California.

Every day is a new adventure and I am trying to be open to each one with grace and humility.

I have missed blogging and this may be the perfect time to restart...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Side Streets

photo by grassrootsmsw

Each day I take this side street home from work...while it is the same street, it changes with each season. Brightly canopied and flourishing in the summer; crimson orange and red in the fall; bare and somber in the winter; and now, full of new life and bursting blossoms in the spring. Each of these seasons beckon different feelings from within, but there remains a sense of constancy and safety in knowing that I will take this same side street each day...a feeling of familiarity in a place that doesn't have a history of holding this for me.

I have been in the Southeast for almost a year now, and I have hoped to adjust to this place in the same way the landscape adjusts to the seasons. Somehow, it seems that nature is much more flexible and adaptable than humans are. Maybe because we have memories and we hold on to them so attentively. Maybe, we hold on to a life that has been good, trying to look forward to a new one, but stumbling when there is nothing recognizable or safe in this new place. Even with a sense of adventure and openness, we humans seem to be rooted to the places that offer us nourishment, love, friendship, and family. Why else? We all choose to be defined by the people and places that make us feel complete and a bit better than we were the day before.

Starting over at a later age is so much more challenging than when we were young...we lose those "Gumby" skills. We don't appreciate roots when we are young...we just wander, spreading our seeds all over the place and hoping that they will take root in the "right" place. I am not sure what "right" is, but I believe it is where we laugh a lot and we can absolutely be ourselves, despite the change in seasons.

So for now, I will continue to take my daily side street...hoping I will find roots in a familiar and consistent path, while also holding on to all that has nourished me and reminded me that I can adapt and change without losing myself along the way.


Wednesday, July 01, 2009

She tribes...

Elephant Nature Park
Northern Thailand Conservation Project

"The truth is, in order to heal we need to tell our stories and have them witnessed...The story itself becomes a vessel that holds us up, that sustains, that allows us to order our jumbled experiences into meaning.

As I told my stories of fear, awakening, struggle, and transformation and had them received, heard, and validated by other women, I found healing.

I also needed to hear other women's stories in order to see and embrace my own. Sometimes another woman's story becomes a mirror that shows me a self I haven't seen before. When I listen to her tell it, her experience quickens and clarifies my own. Her questions rouse mine. Her conflicts illumine my conflicts. Her resolutions call forth my hope. Her strengths summon my strengths. All of this can happen even when our stories and our lives are very different."

-Sue Monk Kidd-

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

From the "Story Keeper"

The "A" Team

“From the stars we came;

to the stars we owe all of life’s creation,

and from thence we shall return.

Because we are Stardust.

We are Golden.

And we will meet back in the Garden.

All in time…

All in time.”

Barry Morrow

Thank you all for sharing and being part of the many stories that will always stay with me...
Onwards with your pioneering and soulful work...I am waiting to hear every detail with anticipation and hope. I am looking forward to when and where our stories will merge and blossom again.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Welcome Lissette!

photo by grassrootsmsw

"A new baby is like the beginning of all things - wonder, hope, a dream of possibilities."
Eda J Leshan

Thinking of M & M and their new love and creation, Lissette! The most beautiful of beginnings launched at 4:51pm today...and the story begins...

Much love to all 3 "Cummer's"

Friday, May 22, 2009


photo by grassrootsmsw
HPJ's garden

"Where we love is home,
home that our feet may leave,
but not our hearts."

Oliver Wendell Holmes

Monday, May 11, 2009

Life's "bee yard"

Photo from Elephant Nature Foundation

"I hadn't been out to the hives before, so to start off she gave me a lesson in what she called 'bee yard etiquette'. She reminded me that the world was really one bee yard, and the same rules work fine in both places. Don't be afraid, as no life-loving bee wants to sting you. Still, don't be an idiot; wear long sleeves and pants. Don't swat. Don't even think about swatting. If you feel angry, whistle. Anger agitates while whistling melts a bee's temper. Act like you know what you're doing, even if you don't. Above all, send the bees love. Every little thing wants to be loved."

Sue Monk Kidd

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Serving versus "helping"

photo from Elephant Nature Park
Thailand, 2008

The role(s) and boundaries of professional health care providers,' most especially at end of life, requires constant awareness of self, purpose, and goal. Given the intimacy and sacredness that accompanies this service, it is often complicated and difficult to draw lines of safety and professionalism...for ourselves and for those we serve.

The following quote, from Frank Ostaseski, (of Metta Institute), reaches and touches this delicate subject at the truest and deepest levels...

“You see, at the very heart of service we understand that

the act of caring is always mutually beneficial. We

understand that in nurturing others we are always caring

for ourselves, and this understanding fundamentally shifts

the way we provide care. .."Compassion," when literally translated means "suffering with others" and "with'" is the most important word, because it implies

belonging. "Companion” is "one who travels with another."

So in this relationship there is no guide, there is no healer

and no one healed; we simply accompany one another.

And as my friend Reb Anderson says, "We are simply

walking through birth and death holding hands."

If we are paying attention as we walk into the room of

someone dying, we immediately understand, in a visceral

way, just how precarious this life is. As we understand

that, we also come to see how precious it is. When we

keep death close at hand, we become less compulsive

about our desires, we take ourselves and our ideas a little

less seriously, and we let go more easily. We become

more open to generosity and to love. Paradoxically,

working with the dying will make us kinder to one

another. In the face of death everything we normally

identify with ourselves will either be stripped away by

illness or given up gracefully – but it all goes. "I'm a

father, I'm a mother, I'm a hospice worker" – whatever our

notion about our identity, it will go.

Helping incurs debt. When you help someone, they owe

you. But service is mutual. When I help I have a feeling of

satisfaction, but when I serve I have a feeling of gratitude.

Serving is also different to fixing. We fix broken pipes,

we don't fix people. When I set about fixing another

person, it's because I see them as broken. Fixing is a form

of judgment that separates us from one another; it creates

a distance. So fundamentally, helping, fixing and serving are ways of

seeing life. When you help, you see life as weak; when

you fix, you see life as broken; and when you serve, you

see life as whole. When we serve in this way, we

understand that this person's suffering is also my

suffering, that their joy is also my joy and then the

impulse to serve arises naturally -- our natural wisdom and

compassion presents itself quite simply. A server knows

that they're being used and has the willingness to be …When we serve, we are always in the service of wholeness. Caring for those who are suffering, whether or not they are dying, wakes us up. It opens up our hearts and our

minds. It opens us up to the experience of this wholeness

that I speak of. More often than not, though, we are caught

in the habitual roles and ideas that keep us separate from

each other. Lost in some reactive mind state, busy trying

to protect our self-image, we cut ourselves off and isolate

ourselves from that which would really serve and inform

our work. To be people who heal, we have to be willing to

bring our passion to the bedside; our own wounds, our

fear, our full selves. Yes, it is the exploration of our own

suffering that forms a bridge to the person we're serving.”

May we continue to serve with our own wholeness and brokenness. May we always understand and hold the integrity of service and sharing at the core of our work. May we always explore within and without...believing in the path of transcendence and transformation.


Wednesday, February 04, 2009

A Humanitarian Journey...

photo by DBL
Mbita, Kenya, Africa

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
Margaret Mead

Today, several of my colleagues left the U.S. to visit Kenya, to support the Foundations for Sub Saharan Africa and their partner VIAGENCO. They will bring medical supplies, equipment, medical expertise, and compassion to the worthy and noble.

May we all continue to reach out to humanity and the world at large with generosity and open hearts' and minds.'

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Responsibility for Change

Photo from
January 2009

May we hold and live up to the responsibility of our roles' as citizens of The United States of America...

Selections' from President Barack Obama's Inauguration Speech...

“On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted — for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom…

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions — who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them — that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. Those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account — to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day — because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control — and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart — not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our founding fathers ... our found fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all the other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort — even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West — know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to the suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment — a moment that will define a generation — it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence — the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed — why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent Mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath…

America, in the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.”

President Barack Obama

January 20, 2009