Monday, November 28, 2022


Dear friends-

I finished my 'gloss', a document that reflects my understanding of the precepts. This is one page of the 19 page booklet. I painted a small picture for each page. 

This is my 'matriarch's lineage on mulberry paper. 

and this is the 'blood line' all the way from the Buddha to now, all hand drawn. One mistake and I started over, four times. Eventually I left the mistakes in. 

Rachel and I sent in EVERYTHING we were assigned and then we rested. I don't drink anymore but I had a glass of wine. If, after this, I suggest another rigorous higher education project, you have permission to talk me out of it. 

It might snow tomorrow and I, for one, will love it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

 Dear friends-

It is raining here after a very dry and warm November. I opened the door for the dog and he went out and came right back in. Yep, my feelings exactly. In the house, lights and heat are on. 

I'm nearing the end of my assignments for the year with chaplaincy. I have a paper to finish and the notebook on the precepts. I am illustrating them with small paintings. They told us we could be creative. I have also learned that I can't write with the TV on. Too distracting. 

Yesterday I renewed my certification for neonatal resuscitation, which I've done a thousand times. Next year is my last as a practicing midwife. Our building in being leased and the practice will have to relocate. I don't know what the owner of our practice will do. Next year is my 50th year as a midwife. I think that's enough. I really do. Today I'm on call and hoping no one goes into labor. The weather is encouraging me to stay inside where it's warm and dry. 

After my training, I visited an old friend who is being treated for non-Hodgkins lymphoma. We sat and drank tea and talked. He is tired from the chemo but seemed ok. He says he naps a lot. We talked about the inevitability of our own demise. It's the thing as we age, encountering our peers who have died or are recovered from hysterectomies or knee surgery. When I walk in the forest, the cycle is all around. Trees have fallen, or are standing snags among the ferns and the seedlings. 

Last night I celebrated someone who I am mentoring in recovery. We celebrated his two year sobriety birthday. I brought flowers and a shiny piece of obsidian he can put in his pocket for protection. I love him so much. We have entrusted each other with so many stories. I want the best, the very best for him. 

Diane arrives on the first of December. She's here and there, visiting friends. We're going to the coast for a few days with the dog. We'll dress for the weather because it'll be rainy an cold, just the way I like it. There are these little cabins, built in the 40's with tiny kitchens and fireplaces. And a short walk to the beach. And a pool and hot tub. Perfect. 

Another year is coming to a close. Still leaves on the trees and the rain has returned. As my old teacher Thundercloud called it, this is the season of falling off and dying. And under the ground, a new season awaits us. As my second year of chaplaincy starts, the question will be, what is my purpose, how can I be of service with the days left to me?

Be well and safe. Be surrounded by compassion and love. 

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Antidote for anxiety



Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you

Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

David Waggoner

Sunday, November 06, 2022

Dear friends-

This is gonna be hard. 

Long ago I was involved in a Christian community that I now realize was a cult.  I wholeheartedly joined because I would learn to meditate and I was looking for a spiritual community in my small town. Morning services, the company of other young people that I became friends with, a series of 'initiations' I was eager to achieve. There were men and women priests (how modern!) and that attracted me too. I was married with young children. One male priest in particular took an active interest in me...some visiting with him in his apartment, hugging (where I could feel his erection through his robes) and eventually what I would now call a sexual assault. At the time I was infatuated with him. He was funny, kind and deeply spiritual, or so I thought. After all this time and a strong nudge from my chaplaincy training, I see that what I experienced was abuse by a spiritual leader who took my trust and my aspiration and thwarted it. I have held a very deep sense of guilt and shame from this story. I was noticing my flinching whenever the training I am in now would take a turn into christianity. But bigger than that are the life choices I have made; avoiding male teachers, male bosses, choosing to work with empowering women in their labors and births. I could go on. One friend, when I told her this, asked if that was why I chose to be with women intimately. NO. These things are separate. My gender identity and my preference are inherent, not a result of trauma. Please!

Anyway. Sitting here typing this, I am shaking. I have never felt such anxiety before. Losing my little cat was so painful and that is fading. This place where I am right now feels so deep in my bones, my heart. The experience is visceral, in the body. Tomorrow I speak with my spiritual advisor. On Tuesday my old therapist. I'm thinking some anti-anxiety meds might help. That poor young woman I was, trying to make sense of what happened, in silence and confusion. Telling no one. It's the secrecy and the shame. And the legions of people, mostly women, who have gone through this too. 

Today I hold in my very wounded heart all that have had their lives, their sense of self-worth, their faith stolen from them. I know how it feels. 

For me, telling the story over and over, owning that it wasn't my fault and excavating the shame and guilt so embedded in my heart, mind and body, is the work before me. As they say in chaplaincy, it's a Dharma gate. One to walk through like a hero, a warrior. Like me.