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.