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.

Friday, September 08, 2006

The Portal

photo by grassrootsmsw

“What Jung called 'the moral obligation' to live out and to express what one has learned in the descent or ascent to the wild Self. This moral obligation he speaks of means to live what we perceive, be it found in the psychic Elysian fields, the isles of the dead, the bone deserts of the psyche, the face of the mountain, the rock of the sea, the lush underworld - anyplace where La Que Sabe breathes upon us, changing us. Our work is to show we have been breathed upon - to show it, give it out, sing it out, to live out in the topside world what we have received through our sudden knowings, from body, from dreams and journeys of all sorts.”
~ Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Entering into the "Casino:"
a portal into
the wild, unloved forest that feels barren.
Where neglected tree branches are
knobby, crooked, and sharp.

There is no sense of time,
or reality.
The original truth of evolution
is forsaken and relinquished.
Neglect has exposed the blemishes.

It is an eco-system of it's own;
structured in an orderly way,
but with a stirring turmoil,
beneath the dying leaves,
that have fallen from its thirsty trees.

It has been forgotten,
thus, it forgets...
how to grow, blossom, and flourish.
Like a human muscle,
that memorizes pain,
and requires consistent nurturing to heal.

There is a worthy journey
to be found here.
Sunlight, warmly bottles its light
through the dessicated branches,
as a compassionate gentle rain falls.

The drizzlings of hope, belief, and determination
fall and saturate the forest;
slowly, and with patience.
The perseverence of compassion,
vibrates and changes the landscape.

Bright green leaves,
begin to shoot from the base and branches of the trees.
The dead branches fall,
to the earth below,
creating healthy mulch for the new born trees.

A new portal to beauty and discovery
The terrain and topography
has transformed.
The once camouflaged splendor,
is revealed.

It asks
that we enter,
with potency and openness.
Trusting that we will see,
and believe,
in the purpose and wisdom
of walking the unpredictable,


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Sans "credentials"

photo by grassrootsmsw

“Anyone who wants to know the human psyche will learn next to nothing from experimental psychology. He would be better advised to abandon exact science, put away his scholar's gown, bid farewell to his study, and wander with human heart through the world. There in the horrors of prisons, lunatic asylums and hospitals, in drab suburban pubs, in brothels and gambling-hells, in the salons of the elegant, the Stock Exchanges, socialist meetings, churches, revivalist gatherings and ecstatic sects, through love and hate, through the experience of passion in every form in his own body, he would reap richer stores of knowledge than text-books a foot thick could give him, and he will know how to doctor the sick with a real knowledge of the human soul.”

-- Carl Jung--

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Timeless reverence

"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.
It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion
is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe,
is as good as dead: his eyes are closed."

Albert Einstein

Each pearl in the necklace holds a story.
Strung together:
Individual and collective;
Unconscious and unbridled;
Conscious and disciplined.

The necklace has been passed down for several generations.
It has been worn on the décolletage of old and young;
The wise and the innocent;
The romantic and the inspired.

It has shown its opalescence in various countries,
on different continents.
It has been worn with the care of a talisman;
Aspiring to pass on the magical, exquisite, and treasured.

Past and present merge.
The future calls stridently.

Imaginations are drawn in,
to aspirations and desires
hidden from our consciousness.
We are pulled to its allure and rich history.
We hope to claim something,
we do not yet understand.

We open to the mysterious and unknown…
dipping below what is safe and known.
Opening, exploring, tumbling...
Deeper. Deeper. Deeper.
We sigh...with a great release,
for a moment,
and experience a defining instance of intense clarity.

This moment is owned in isolation;
for all those who have worn this enigmatic choker.
Then it passes on to the next generation;
Conjuring and anticipating,
Holding and delivering,
More enchantment and transformative insight.

There are great paradoxes:
Fragility and strength;
Durability and delicacy.
It is a satire and elucidation of life.
Subtle and tantalizing revelations await.
Once, and only when we are ready to receive.