Friday, December 22, 2006

ALIVE in 2007!

photo by grassrootsmsw
Tavern on the Green, NYC

"People say that we’re all seeking a meaning for life.... I think what we’re really seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonance within our innermost being and reality, so that we can actually feel the rapture of being alive."
Joseph Campbell

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Groundedness in non-conformity

photo by Walter Sittig

“We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.”

Anais Nin

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


photo by grassrootsmsw

“Look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred-and-first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not the last blow that did it, but all that had gone before.”

Jacob A. Riis

Friday, December 15, 2006

Transformation and Variability

photo by grassrootsmsw
Oranje Park, Apeldoorn, NL

"A story is created every time interference changes the state of something. In life, like in stories, there is a moment where everything changes. The moment in which nothing is as it was. The precise point where just a short time you were climbing and then suddenly you're moving downward. And so characters, after beginnings we have now arrived at the turning point. Loves. Choices. Departures. Deaths. Catastrophies. Mistakes. Crazy purchases. Sudden decisions. Escapes. Predicaments. Unexpected turns of events. Details that need to be changed. Unexpected forks in the road. We have understood that there is no way to keep things as they are: in the best or worst case they move round so that they come back to the departure point but with a higher odometer..."

P. Fabbri, Semiologist

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


photo by grassrootsmsw
Amsterdam, NL

“It was a good place for getting lost in, a city no one ever knew, a city explored from the neutral heart outward, until after many years, it defined itself into a jumble of clearings separated by stretches of the unknown...”
Andre Deutsch

I will be on a blog and personal holiday through mid December. While I will be returning to the safe cocoon of my roots, I will also be stepping into the freedom of anonymity.

A blank slate lies before me, waiting to be filled with fresh experiences and insight. I look forward to sharing upon my return...

Monday, November 27, 2006

Between the Crevices

photo by E.F.D.J.

Remember, the mind likes to assume it "know what it knows" but often its perceptions are just not accurate. Yet strong judgments are made all the time based on limited information...When we judge someone and then adopt an attitude toward them, that shuts down other possibilities and locks us away from the insight of our hearts.”

Doc Childre and Howard Martin

I was reminded today, by a wise and practicing Buddhist, about the art of observing and seeing others with the heart, rather than knee jerking to assessments based in personal opinion.

As a social worker, there are very fine lines between our learned/practiced skills and our personal and professional intuitive skills. We are trained to be open and non-judgmental to all those we meet. We are also trained to assess people and their situations, with the goal of empowerment and healing. With our ingrained “assessor” hat always on, the process of receiving and interpreting information is so swift, we often miss how that process and conclusion actually occurs within us.

Time and experience in the field may develop our knowledge, but it can also unexpectedly prompt us to produce a slip-in judgment. While we may be trained to be free of judgment, we are also human, bringing our own fallible human experiences to our work. Certain behaviors cue our memories or intuition. If we can acknowledge, separate, and understand our assessment process, we can build on the opportunity to view a greater and deeper view.

The detail in the crevices can only be seen and understood with patience and tolerance to oneself and those we serve. It is the details that make each and every story unique and exquisite. It is only in the details, that we can learn new lessons.

Friday, November 24, 2006


photo by grassrootsmsw
Amsterdam, NL

“It is then that you will hear a voice within yourself. It was there all the time, but you never listened before.
Faintly it will speak to you at first, but it will grow louder and clearer the more you take heed of its message
until one day it thunders inside you and you will have come home.”
Rusty Berkus

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Seeing the view...

phpto by J.A.S.
NYC- West Village

“To live in this world you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.”

-Mary Oliver-

Friday, November 17, 2006

Sunset on the 16th

Photo by grassrootsmsw

“The arms of love encompass you with your present, your past, your future, the arms of love gather you together.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

A deep crimson and burnt orange
by the beach in November.
The shaggy Santa Barbara cliffs
are highlighted by the dramatic and vivid colors.

I sit amongst old and new friends
toasting, sharing and laughing.
I feel full with tenderness,
as I absorb the authenticity and beauty
of each individual present.

While my friends
celebrate my birthday,
I celebrate my fortune
for their presence in my life.

Life is good,
and I move forward
into another year...
believing I am a lucky woman
for the beautiful and loving souls
surrounding me.

They inspire me to 'hold my own song.'
They unknowingly arouse hope,
and remind me to dream...
Outrageously and without reserve.

Cheers and love to all of you...
thank you for all that you have gifted me with.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


photo by J.A.S.
Bergen Bos, Apeldoorn, NL

“Actually, we have no problems -
We have opportunities for which we should give thanks…
An error we refuse to correct has many lives.
It takes courage to face one's own shortcomings
and wisdom to do something about them.”

Edgar Cacye

Sunday, November 12, 2006


photo by L.E.D.
Hanalei, HI

“One doesn’t discover new lands

Without consenting to lose sight of the shore

For a very long time.”

Andre Gide

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Remembering 11.16.1969 on 11.16.1999

“I know for certain that we never lose the people we love, even to death. They continue to participate in every act, thought and decision we make. Their love leaves an indelible imprint in our memories. We find comfort in knowing that our lives have been enriched by having shared their love.”

Leo Buscaglia

Your noble and dignified
Earthly exit,
occured on this day
two years ago.

Your presence
remains with me...
in a secret and treasured
space, deep inside.

I can still hear your
dry New York chuckle,
and can easily anticipate
what words you would have for me
in many given moments.

I lipsynched to your beloved
Ella Fitzgerald today,
and imagined you right there...
laughing and teasing my
modest interpretation.

Who would have known
of the lifetime gifts
I would receive
as a result of meeting
and sharing with you?

Thank you, my dearest B.
I am a fuller and better person
for having known you.
Your gifts and lessons
still whisper to me,
and push me forth,
with laughter, honor, and integrity.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Life Testaments

photo by Johannes F d J
Fiesch, Switzerland 1981

I hope that my achievements in life shall be these: that I will have fought for what was right and fair; that I will have risked for that which mattered; and that I will have given help to those who were in need… that I will have left the Earth a better place for what I've done and who I've been.”

C. Hoppe

Saturday, November 04, 2006


photo by J.A.S.
NL, 1968

“Aging is not 'lost youth' but a new stage of opportunity and strength.”

Betty Friedan

In my early social work career, my primary concentration was in geriatrics. My field work varied from working in continuing care retirement communities and Alzheimer's Day Care Centers, to working with non-profit care mangement agencies who cared for the homebound elderly. A rich tapestry of experience which cemented my aspirations and ambition to make social work my lifetime career.

My comfort level with seniors probably stemmed from my fortune in having two sets of incredible set American; the other set Dutch. Both were very different, but each set contributed to the fullness of my life through their lessons, stories, and reliable and consistent loving presence.

While my true nature, is fast paced and swift, my alternate side displays itself when being in the company of seniors. My ears perk as I await to hear the golden nuggets in their narratives. My fascination is peaked, as their reminiscing brings me to other eras and places in history. Their words mesmerize me and captivate my curious mind.

It has been my greatest privilege and honor to hear and learn their stories...their chronicles and recollections. It has made my outlook on life broader and more humble. Through them, I have learned that the delicacy of listening and empathy opens doors, that may have never been imagined.

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Anonymous Course

photo by L.E.D.
Hanalei, Hawaii

Alice came to a fork in the road.
"Which road do I take?" she asked.
"Where do you want to go?" responded the Cheshire cat.
"I don't know," Alice answered.
"Then," said the cat, "it doesn't matter."

Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Thursday, November 02, 2006


F.B. den Boer
Zeeland, NL

“Do not depend on the hope of results. You may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results, but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself. You gradually struggle less and less for an idea and more and more for specific people. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationship that saves everything.”

Thomas Merton

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Sin City

photo by grassrootsmsw

“New York City, the incomparable, the brilliant star city of cities, the forty-ninth state, a law unto itself, the Cyclopean Paradox, the inferno with no-out-of bounds, the supreme expression of both the miseries and the splendors of contemporary civilization, the Macedonia of the United States. It meets the most severe test that may be applied to definition of a metropolis ¾ it stays up all night. But also it becomes a small town when it rains.”

John Gunther

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Water ...the classical element

Photo by J.A.S.
Webb School

"Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong."

Share the spirit of water and let it move you...

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Invincible Thread

photo by J.A.S.

“When I stopped seeing my mother with the eyes of a child, I saw the woman who helped me give birth to myself.”
Nancy Friday

A mother is the one who sees
ALL of who we are.
While she celebrates the best in us,
she is also there to nurture,
the parts that need improvement.

There is an invisible thread
between mother and child;
defining, shaping, and connecting.
Bending, stretching and moving;
gaining strength and potency
over time.

When we have come upon
heavy and troublesome moments,
and all others have vacated our company,
we return to the invisible thread.

The thread guides us,
back to the safety
of our mother's
loving and soothing cocoon.
No invitations needed...
she is waiting and ready.

In our mother's presence,
we are our most natural selves.
We don't need to hide behind pretense.
We don't need to pretend or posture.
We can just be.

In those moments of
we deeply feel the invisible thread,
that vibrates unconditional love and acceptance.

It is that thread,
with it's absolute strength and constance,
which enables and empowers us
in our life stories.
It also gives us courage
to visit and face
that which needs rebirthing.

Distance, separation, or death
cannot break the thread.
It was created upon birth,
and extends itself timelessly.

The thread is weaved into
the essence of both mother and child...
intertwining and texturizing,
their individual and collective
truths and authenticity.


Thursday, October 26, 2006

The "Magic"

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.”

Roald Dahl

Lifetime, institutional bureaucrats
don't believe in 'magic.'

The realm of the unknown and unquantifiable,
is unsafe to their
procedure and result oriented mind.

How sad,
that they will go through their lives,
having missed the beauty and depth
of humanity;
and never experience the 'magic.'

Theirs is a constricted world;
based in a false sense
of safety and security.

In the end,
Numbers and formulaic strategies
are just that...
logical entities.

In the end,
it is our humanity,
in all of it's intricacy and complexity,
that remains and whispers to us,

"Have you seen the magic? Do you see it now? Can you feel it?
What does it reveal to you? What lessons have you learned from it?
Who are you, because of the magic?"

Why wait till the end?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Sturdy delicacy

photo by grassrootsmsw
Central Park, NYC

“Snowflakes are one of nature’s most fragile things, but just look what they can do when they stick together.”
-Vista M. Kelly-

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Divinity of Laughter

“At the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities.”

Jean Houston

There is intense reality
and profoundly somber moments
when working in end of life care.

The counter balance:

Laughing till it hurts;
by sneaking in a quick glimpse
of the wicked and truthful
Ali G./ Borat/Bruno
on YouTube.

Shedding tears of laughter
with your team mates,
because you share
naughty understanding
of all that is politically
correct and incorrect.

We end the work day
with a smile on our face...
and secret chuckles return,
upon reflections of the day.

Divinity...utter divinity.


Sunday, October 22, 2006


photo by D. Schoonheim
The Hamptons

Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.
"Pooh!" he whispered.
"Yes, Piglet?"
"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw.
"I just wanted to be sure of you."

A.A. Milne

We all have
our self procured
places of safety...

Defined and clear,
or vague and obscure.
The innate necessity for
belonging and security,
exists within all of us.

In the best moments,
there is no need for
exchange of words.
It is a presence with no agenda...
A presence of integrity and authenticity,
A presence of acceptance and tolerance.


Friday, October 20, 2006

New Beginnings for G.D.

photo by grassrootsmsw
Mendham, N.J.

“Do not go where the path may lead,
go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Today, the wisest and most skilled social worker I know, completed her final working day at ‘The Casino.’ During her 9 dedicated years, she created healing changes for patients, families, and co-workers. Her innate talent and gifts are countless and they leave a reverberating effect. With judiciousness, empathy, and a savvy shrewdness she taught me that barriers exist, only to be surmounted.

The field of social work and the Santa Barbara community is enhanced and improved because of G.D.’s contributions and commitment. While many of us at ‘The Casino’ will deeply miss her daily presence, we at least take heart in knowing that her light and visions will continue to shine and make this world a better place.

G.D….take time to rejuvenate and nurture your spirit…I look forward to witnessing your new blazing trail…Here is a quote, in honor of you:

“The visionary is the one who brings his or her voice into the world and who refuses to edit, rehearse, perform, or hide. It is the visionary who knows that the power of creativity is aligned with authenticity.”

Angeles Arrien

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Our Unpredictable Tails/Tales

photo by Elliott Erwitt
Birmingham, England, 1991

“You think you can
Depend on tails.
You don't expect tails
To go wrong.
The last time I looked
It was right there.
Now when I look there,
It's gone.

It was always
Just behind me,
Always tagging along.
A little something
at the back...
I thought it was there,
And it's gone.

I assumed it was
Attached to me,
That it actually
Hung true.
I'd hoped it was stuck
Very firmly on.
Maybe we needed
Some glue.

It used to trail
Right behind me,
Always tailing along.
My little extra
At the back...
I thought it was there,
Now it's gone.”

by Hallie Marshall

Eeyore "Lessons from the Hundred-Acre Wood"

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Real Work

photo by grassrootsmsw
Co. Wexford, Ireland

“It may be that when we no longer know what to do,
We have come to our real work.
And that when we no longer know which way to go,
We have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled, is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.”

-Wendell Berry-

Monday, October 16, 2006

Our Gifts...

photo by Scott Cunningham

"We all start out with no discipline, no patience, no perseverance, no determination. We all start out at zero. People say, ‘You have talent.’ No, the gift is to realize that we all start out even. Whether we messed up or put our best foot forward, with these four qualities, we take care of our mental, physical and spiritual health each day. Am I the best in the world? No. The question is: Am I the best I can be?"

Edward James Olmos

We, as end of life caregivers, are consistently told, "I don't know how you do it...I could never do that kind of work."

Maybe we don't always know why we can do this work, but we recognize that we CAN do this work. What brought us to this work is unique and individual. What is common, is our openness to visiting the haunting and the unknown...believing in the human capacity for transcendence and life altering growth...believing that the deepest emotional abysses can create visibility to life's treasures.

Every person has 'gifts' to offer in this life. Personally, I am grateful for my tax accountant, as I openly acknowledge that I have no 'gifts' what so ever when it comes to numbers and math. Equally, I feel responsible to exercise and pursue my social work in end of life care, to the best of my ability, because this is what I have been gifted with.

Thank goodness for the diversity and complexity of the human race.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Will and choice

photo by grassrootsmsw
Central Park, NYC

“This bridge will only take you halfway there, to those mysterious lands you long to see. Through gypsy camps and swirling Arab fair, and moonlit woods where unicorns run free. So come and walk awhile with me and share the twisting trails and wondrous worlds I’ve known. But this bridge will only take you halfway there. The last few steps you have to take alone.”

Shel Silverstein

Friday, October 13, 2006

Unadulterated wisdom

photo by J.A.S.

“But the adult is not the highest stage of development. The end of the cycle is that of the independent, clear-minded, all-seeing Child. That is the level known as wisdom. When the Tao te Ching and other wise books say things like, "Return to the beginning; become a child again" that's what they are referring to. Why do the enlightened seem filled with light and happiness like children? Why do they sometimes even look and talk like children? Because they are. The wise are Children Who Know. Their minds have been emptied of the countless minute somethings of small learning and filled with the great wisdom of the Great Nothing, the Way of the Universe.”

-Benjamin Hoff-

As children,
we are tapped into our intuition,
never knowing or understanding its meaning.

Blank slates, free of judgement;
In a space and time
when our original 5 senses ,
led us to moments of unfiltered

As adults,
we forget how to get back...
back to that which
is pure, innocent,
and OPEN.

There is a path back
to the virgin garden;
a place where we can
embrace and hold
the naked and the unadorned;
without feeling EXPOSED.

It's there,
in the silent moments...
waiting to be freed,
from our protected
self imposed


Tuesday, October 10, 2006


photo by J.A.S.

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”

Leo Buscaglia

A kind full presence is one of the greatest gifts we have to offer another. Whether it is our child, a loved one, or one of our clients/patients.

Today, the simple act of bringing a sandwich to the spouse of a patient, brought out the most beautiful and radiant smile...

"How did you know I hadn't planned for my dinner tonight?" he asked.

His words and reaction struck me so deeply and tenderly. What seemed effortless on my part, meant so much more to the receiver. In one swift moment, our connection deepened and reached another level of understanding.

We may not always know how or when we can help another, but if we come forth with kindness in our beings, we allow these opportunities and gifts to be possible.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Self protection

photo by grassrootsmsw

“If your heart or spirit holds a frail seedling, protect it at all costs. Often we hear that it is good to trust, and that it is wicked to distrust, and so we put our tenderest being in the hands of those who are unable to hold us gently, because they themselves were never held so.”

C.P. Estes

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Simplistic serenity

Apeldoorn, NL

"I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contained, I stand and look at them long and long."

Walt Whitman

Friday, October 06, 2006

Making FUN

photo by J.A.S.

“Live life fully while you’re here. Experience everything. Take care of yourself and your friends. Have fun, be crazy, be weird. Go out and screw up! You’re going to anyway, so you might as well enjoy the process. Take the opportunity to learn from your mistakes: find the cause of your problem and eliminate it. Don’t try to be perfect; just be an excellent example of being human.”

-Anthony Robbins-

To The 'Dream Team,'

Play hard and rest well this weekend. Thank you for all the hilarity and mirthful teasing this week! I am so thankful for each of you, and am grateful for all the brightness you bring to each and every work day.

Happy Weekend!

Who's turn is it to "do one for the team?!?"

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Opa Benji

“Other things may change us, but we start and end with family.”
-Anthony Brandt-

All Fathers have their own history…
Their own unique life narrative…

Time, events, and relations
developed and created
who they are.
Designing and shaping:
their strengths, their weaknesses;
their views, their insights;
their survival mechanisms, their coping abilities.

These traits were paved
into their psyche,
long before we arrived,
as their children.

The stage was set…
The curtain rose…
They found themselves center stage,
in the role of ‘father,’
and the script had yet to be written.

As infants,
we may gurgle and
reach our chubby arms out to the familiar face of ‘Dad,’
when he reaches into our crib,
to relieve us from a soggy diaper.

As toddlers,
we begin to perform acts
that trigger smiles
on our father’s faces.

We begin to learn that our actions
create reactions.
Our journey of yearning for
approval and acceptance

As we grow from childhood to adulthood,
we start to develop our distinctive identities,
and LOUDLY stamp our feet,
for acknowledgement of our individuality.

We challenge our fathers
to be seen and heard,
in our new, self-found,
audacious character.
All the while, seeking and yearning
for support and veneration.

Our insolent behavior,
is baffling to our fathers…
Time has made them forget,
that they too,
were once the child of a father.

Can both,
Child and father; Father and adult child,
Reframe their thoughts and opinions?

Maybe a father is angry,
because he wants to protect.
Maybe a father lets you fall flat on your face,
because he wants you
to learn,

Maybe a father
lets you find your own way,
by allowing you to make mistakes…
Even if his heart hurts silently,
for your pain.

Maybe a father
admonishes your life choices,
because he has your best interests at heart.
Maybe a father doesn’t want to watch you
recreate his own mistakes.

Maybe a father is waiting for you,
to shine and succeed.
Maybe he doesn’t know how to express that.
Or maybe,
we children,
are too determined and willful, in our self convictions…
We can’t hear a father’s pleas and heartfelt hopes.

Maybe, there can be hope
that one day,
Father and child can recognize
each other,
as equal adults;
With their own valid reasons and purposes.

Maybe one day,
Father and child will just sit,
And REALLY listen.
Just listen,
and honor that, which is the other’s story.

Maybe this sharing
can lead to a profound and transformative opening.
Healing, deep wisdom, and rites of passage

New reflections and revelations
may be discovered…
In their
individual and collective,
deep rooted,
and long standing


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Trust in 'taming'

photo by J.A.S.

"I am a fox," said the fox. "Come and play with me," proposed the little prince. "I am so unhappy." "I cannot play with you," the fox said. "I am not tamed." "Ah! Please excuse me," said the little prince. But, after some thought, he added: "What does that mean, 'tame'?"

"It is an act too often neglected," said the fox. It means to establish ties." "'To establish ties'?" "Just that," said the fox. "To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world..." "I am beginning to understand," said the little prince. "There is a flower... I think that she has tamed me..."

"Nothing is perfect," sighed the fox. But he came back to his idea. "My life is very monotonous," the fox said. "I hunt chickens; men hunt me. All the chickens are just alike, and all the men are just alike. And, in consequence, I am a little bored. But if you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life . I shall know the sound of a step that will be different from all the others. Other steps send me hurrying back underneath the ground. Yours will call me, like music, out of my burrow. And then look: you see the grain-fields down yonder? I do not eat bread. Wheat is of no use to me. The wheat fields have nothing to say to me. And that is sad. But you have hair that is the colour of gold. Think how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring me back the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat..."

The fox gazed at the little prince, for a long time. "Please, tame me!" he said. "I want to, very much," the little prince replied. "But I have not much time. I have friends to discover, and a great many things to understand." "One only understands the things that one tames," said the fox. "Men have no more time to understand anything. They buy things all ready made at the shops. But there is no shop anywhere where one can buy friendship, and so men have no friends any more. If you want a friend, tame me..."

So the little prince tamed the fox. And when the hour of his departure drew near... "Ah," said the fox, "I shall cry." "It is your own fault," said the little prince. "I never wished you any sort of harm; but you wanted me to tame you..." "Yes, that is so," said the fox. "But now you are going to cry!" said the little prince. "Yes, that is so," said the fox. "Then it has done you no good at all!" "It has done me good," said the fox, "because of the color of the wheat fields." And then he added: "Go and look again at the roses. You will understand now that yours is unique in all the world. Then come back to say goodbye to me, and I will make you a present of a secret." ...

"Goodbye," said the fox. "And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye." "What is essential is invisible to the eye," the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember. "It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important." "It is the time I have wasted for my rose..." said the little prince, so that he would be sure to remember. "Men have forgotten this truth," said the fox. "But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. You are responsible for your rose..." "I am responsible for my rose," the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember.

The Little Prince - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Monday, October 02, 2006

Yin and Yang

“Becoming and being are the yin and yang of our lives. One inner one outer. Today, we value becoming to the exclusion of being; we applaud human becomings. The secret is balance.”

-Author Unknown-

Transformation contains both
change and constancy,
movement and stagnation,
development and decay,
life and death,
grief and bliss.

these uneven rythyms,
as ultimately and unexpectedly,
they unite;
creating our whole SELF.

We cannot understand
if we haven't experienced
We cannot expand,
if we haven't encountered and felt

Balance the paradoxes
within yourself.
Accept it in those
you meet.

If we acknowledge
these truths,
all things
can come into focus,
vital clarity.


Sunday, October 01, 2006


“If I had a single flower for every time I think about you, I could walk forever in my garden.”

-Claudia Ghandi-

“Who’s your daddy?”

I am thinking of you today… your birthday. I miss you, beyond what I can put into words. When I long for your presence, I find solace in the beautiful poem that your dear friend, Barry Morrow, wrote the day you left us:

“Late this afternoon, while the world kept on spinning, in a wooden house in a small corner of Santa Barbara, came a blessing. Barry opened his ageless eyes for one last glimpse of his beloved Sheri, then slipped the bounds of time and started his journey back to where he began: to the Imagination. In doing so, he left behind a king's ransom of memories, a smooth forehead upon which to leave kisses, and countless hearts in need of mending.
All in time.

It seems certain that one day science and religion will agree: 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.

Dear Hearts and Gentle People, hold close to that which was Barry, and tighter still to that which is Sheri, for she carries upon her slender shoulders, for all of us, a great and abiding sorrow.”

-Barry Morrow/Nov. 9, 2004-

Still waiting for the white horses B…and letting it be…just BE…and only you know why. ‘All in time’, I imagine.

My dearest and most faithful guardian…thank you for having shared in my life and eternally changing it. You tended to wounds with compassion; you nourished the empty spaces; you gently cultivated what felt lost; you unknowingly played a role that was needed and historically malnourished; and you revealed the beauty of unconditional love and trust.

I cradle all the gifts you imparted to me, and I hope to pass them on in my life… always, in honor of you, my dear BAAAZZZER.

Friday, September 29, 2006

The treasure map to SELF

photo by Lilian de Mello
Kapaa, HI 2002

"Psychically, it is good to make a halfway place, a way station, a considered place in which to rest and mend after one escapes a famine. It is not too much to take one year, two years, to assess one's wounds, seek guidance, apply the medicines, consider the future. A year or two is scant time. The feral woman is a woman making her way back. She is learning to wake up, pay attention, stop being naïve, uninformed. She takes her life in her own hands. To re-learn the deep feminine instincts, it is vital to see how they were decommissioned to begin with."

Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Caged secrets

photo by grassrootsmsw

"If my love of truth is left as my only possession, then the greater the loss behind me, the greater the pride I may take in the price I have paid for that love. Then the wreckage will not become a funereal mount above me, but will serve as a height I have climbed to attain a wider field of vision."
-Ayn Rand-

Where, when and how
do we cage
our unspoken, hidden secrets?

Our personal enigmas,
are truths;
based in self integrity.

They represent a commitment,
to ourselves.

How do we put words
to the organic flow
that has created
our current, individual reality?

Past exchanges and connections
have built and concreted
the sources of our SECRETS.

Can we awaken from
our long internal slumber,
and then,
own our righteous behavior?

Can we meet our own purpose?
To our self promises, oaths and pledges.

This simple,
yet intricately complicated feat,
can give us
and Liberation.

This is about uncaging…
Releasing and accepting.

our own
meanings of
and Truth.


Monday, September 25, 2006

Dream awakenings

photo by grassrootsmsw

"The voice of the sea is seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clearing, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander for a spell in the abysses of solitude; to lose itself in mazes of inward contemplation. The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace."

Kate Chopin

We provide an absolute presence at the bedside.
We open ourselves to the experiences and moments
of our patients and families.

Even with practiced, professional boundaries,
We often get lost...
In the deep, swirling, rawness
of other's authentic grief and loss.

We have been gifted
as witnesses,
to life altering moments.
We have been allowed in,
to the most intimate and sacred.

Unconscious shifts occur within us;
and then, we dream.
In dreaming,
we cannot attach logic...
we can only receive the emotive senses
that have blotted our psyche.

We dream of aloneness and
We absorb the emotions
we have observed;
and our own fears and sadnesses
are awakened.

The unknown and unsettling,
knocks at our door...
asking us to listen,
bravely and compassionately.

Sit and wait.
honor this opening
to your depths.
Remarkable lessons and insights
may be revealed.


Sunday, September 24, 2006


photo by J.A.S.

"When we want to understand something, we cannot just stand outside and observe it. We have to enter deeply into it and be one with it in order to really understand. If we want to understand a person, we have to feel his feelings, suffer his sufferings, and enjoy his joy. The word 'comprehend' is made up of the Latin root cum, which means 'with,' and prehendre, which means 'to grasp it or pick it up.' To comprehend something means to pick it up and become one with it. There is no other way to understand something. In Buddhism, we call this kind of understanding 'non-duality.' Not two."
-Thich Nhat Hanh-

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The "Pack" Mentality

"There is no "I" in TEAMWORK."
Author unknown

There is an unspoken and implicit gain and priveledge when working on an interdisciplinary team. Thoughts and actions are understood between team members, often, without any verbal exchange. We have come to learn each other's body language and try to respond accordingly; with respect and consideration.

We are each other's best guardians and protectors. As individuals, we possess our own unique skills. As a team, we have the capacity to pool our talents and increase all that we hope to accomplish. The end result: Synergism.

The following story speaks to the beauty of teamwork and the intelligence of being part of a "pack" or, a "pod":

The Goose Story

Author Unknown

Next fall when you see geese heading south for the winter flying along in a "V" formation, you might be interested in knowing what science has discovered about why they fly that way. It has been learned that as each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in a "V" formation, the whole flock adds at least 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own. People who share common direction and sense of community can get where they are going quicker and easier, because they are traveling on the thrust of one another.

When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the draft and resistance of trying to go it alone, and quickly gets into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front. If we have as much sense as a goose, we will stay in formation with those who are headed the same way we are going.

When the lead goose gets tired, he rotates back in the wing and another goose flies point. It pays to take turn doing hard jobs.

The geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed. An encouraging word goes a long way.

Finally, when a goose gets sick, or is wounded by a gun shot and falls out, two geese fall out of formation and follow him until he is either able to fly or until he is dead, then they launch out on their own or with another formation to catch up with the group. If we have the sense of a goose, we will stand by each other like that.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


"Tides of my breath"
Lilian de Mello
Kauai, HI

“Events in our lives happen in a sequence in time, but in their significance to ourselves they find their own order in the continuous thread of revelation.”

Eudora Welty

Monday, September 18, 2006



Let there be peace on earth, and let peace begin with me. Let peace begin
with me. That may not be what the United Nations had in mind when it passed
a resolution in 1981 to establish the International Day of Peace. The United
Nations General Assembly decided that it would be appropriate "to devote a
specific time to concentrate the efforts of the United Nations and its
Member States, as well as of the whole of mankind, to promoting the ideals
of peace and to giving positive evidence of their commitment to peace in all
viable ways... (The International Day of Peace) should be devoted to
commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among
all nations and peoples."

At the time the Resolution and a later amended version making September 21
the official day of peace passed, the emphasis was on the cessation of
hostilities. In Santa Barbara we have held marches and rallies expressing
our opposition to war. But not this year. Mother Teresa said ""I was once
asked why I don't participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will
never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I'll be there."
What's the difference? Perhaps Noble Peace Prize Laureate Máiread Corrigan
Maguire said it best. "We frail humans are at one time capable of the
greatest good and, at the same time, capable of the greatest evil. Change
will only come about when each of us takes up the daily struggle ourselves
to be more forgiving, compassionate, loving and above all joyful in the
knowledge that, by some miracle of grace, we can change as those around us
can change too."

For those who feel similarly we offer an inspiring program that will nourish
and elevate the spirit. Beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Courthouse Sunken
Gardens (Anapamu and Anacapa streets), there will be a proclamation of peace
by Mayor Blum, words of hope and peace by the Reverend Mark Asman,
Babatunde Folayemi, Stephen Sherrill and the Reverend Karen Weingard.
Live music will be provided by some exceptional local talent - Lisa Lavie and
Lois Mahalia,and Melissa Ramsey-Demeter, as well as Los Angeles recording artist
DionMial backed by the Center of the Heart Band featuring: Eje` Lynn-Jacobs,
George Friedenthal, Chris Judge, James Spitzer and Chris Thomas. At the
close of the program, there will be a silent candle light vigil.

This is an event for people of all ages, faiths and political affiliations.
A place where we believe that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens
can change the world. Just like President Dwight David Eisenhower said, "in
the goodness of time, all peoples will come to live together in a peace
guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love." That's how we
plan to celebrate peace.

Virtual Mondays...

photo by grassrootsmsw

“We're all stumbling towards the light

with varying degrees of grace at any given moment.”

Bo Lozoff

Returning to work on Monday.
Chaos and demanding situations;
asking the care team to wake up from their
idle weekend mind set.


I laugh,
as a co-worker calls me
with updated client information,
while on the toilet.
"I am multi-tasking," she says.

New referral,
new referral,
and yet another.
We bend and accomodate,
we put the pedal to the metal.

While commitedly attending to the needs of others,
one of us locks ourself out of the office;
another has their fly undone for most of the morning.

Bring on the double lattes and infusions of caffeine.
Forgive our unpolished edges on Monday mornings.
Do know our intent is pure and genuine...


Friday, September 15, 2006

Whooping it up on the weekends

photo by grassrootsmsw

Look forward to dreams. Cry during movies.
Swing as high as you can on a swingset, by moonlight.
Cultivate moods.
Do it for love. Take lots of naps.
Take moonbaths.
Giggle with children.
Listen to old people.
Drive away fear. Play with everything.
Entertain your inner child.
Build a fort with blankets.
Get wet. Hug trees. Write love letters.

Take your weekends to let your hair down, relax, and be open to the playful moments. Honor the need for replenishment and leave the work week behind. Do whatever it takes to feel free and self-full again. Cheers!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Looking above and beyond

photo by grassrootsmsw

“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The skeleton key

photo by grassrootsmsw

"Every time you meet a situation, though you think at the time it is an impossibility and you go through the torture of the damned, once you have met it and lived through it, you find that forever after you are freer than you were before."
~ Eleanor Roosevelt

The idea or notion of 'impossibility' is so often present when working within the political realms of the health care world. Robert Fulton has described the hospice movement as a counterrevolutionary movement that, "takes its stand against a secularized, impersonal, utilitarian and increasingly hostile world."

As a social worker, I am held to a code of ethics that requires responsibility to the broader society. While my goals of providing compassionate and skillful care to patients and families is paramount, I often must confront and contend with a bureaucratic system that stands in the way. Navigating this entangling and frustrating web of red tape requires creative and enduring will power. It asks that I continuously maintain my focus of professional values, and protect and defend. In the most challenging moments, I must present a tough and stern exterior, when my core is instinctively based in compromise and consensus.

Although demanding and arduous, defending and protecting reputable principles, unveils truth. Even as truth may bring out the unpleasant and the uncomfortable, it is based in integrity and sincerity. This level of authenticity is difficult to refute. Truth may open unforeseen and unsightly wounds, but at least the wounds are and exposed...prepared to be dealt with, treated, and healed.

While it may often seem that we face closed, sealed doors in our mission to heal and protect, maybe we can choose to reframe, and see the opportunity for teaching, guiding, and opening. It is within the skilled psycho-social abilities of social workers to find the skeleton key that can unlock all doors.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Worthy exertion


“But nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight –Got to kick at the darkness 'til it bleeds daylight...”
~Bruce Cockburn


Monday, September 11, 2006

A special day

"A sister can be seen as someone who is both ourselves and very much not ourselves - a special kind of double."
~Toni Morrison

Today is a day of mourning for so many. Horrific events in 2001 changed how this day will be remembered, forever. September 11th is also my sister's birthday. She is a beautiful, kind-hearted and remarkable woman. Sadly, because of who she is, she now feels guilty celebrating this day. I still choose to celebrate. Her arrival in this world has brought me the most wonderful, unexpected, and soulful gifts.

Today, my sister is 5 years younger and 5 inches taller than I am. 32 years ago, I anxiously awaited her arrival home from the hospital where she was born. In 1974 , children under 12 were not allowed in hospitals so I had to wait until my parents brought her home. I remember having those amazing anticipatory stirrings in my stomach; just like I did before my own birthday, or the night before Christmas. I couldn't sleep as I waited to have my first introduction to my new born sister.

Over the years she has become my greatest advocate and often, the one who has held the mirror up to my face. We have become experts at bickering and shouting out painful truths...all the while, holding a deep and abiding love for the other. No matter what has erupted between us, there is an unspoken trust and loyalty.

So, today, I cheer and celebrate my sister. I send her happy, loving, and magical wishes today and every day.