Thursday, August 30, 2018


It came suddenly, this chronic thing, the swirling unsteadiness and flickering in my chest
the feeling of breathlessness and the fluttering thing right in the center, the beating of little wings hovering around a feeder then flying away again after I sat. 
So the hummingbird comes back as I stand, and flits away as I sit, and we dance, this hummingbird and I, around the room, sit and stand, sit and stand, and then my brain does a little swirl and the hummingbird and I falter in the dance, leaning off to one side in an awkward arabesque and a clumsy pirouette. 
How strange to have this little bird all day, its wings beating so fast, the waltz through the day, so slowly, yet the wings beat faster.  I dare not try the charleston for fear the wings might implode in a cloud of feathers. 
And so I fight the fear, because this suddenly chronic thing won't kill you,  you just feel a little funny, like there's a beautiful green and scarlet tiny creature, beating it's wings in your heart. 

Saturday, October 14, 2017


A reaching out across the divide of a coffee table and a blue rag rug, a pot of stress balls and a bowl of mints and of course tissues.
Tissues, for some the whole box is gone by the end of the session; for here is the place where we talk about their loved ones who have died, or will die, or are dying, and what, what in God's name do they do now?
Caregivers suddenly finding themselves with none to care for, thrust into a world of being suddenly free and suddenly encumbered by their own needs.
And the connection happens, and my own eyes well with tears, and we remember together, because so often I have met their loved one, and sometimes I have not but feel as if I have, the stories and the heartache, the exhaustion, and the energy needed to continue to care.
In this space I am not the expert but the witness to the story, the one whose privilege it is to hear it, to sit and know with every fiber of my being that this is sacred space and sacred words, words that envelop the room and take on a energy of their own, wrapping us both in wonderment, in sadness, in so many emotions without drowning.
To think that this was not a path I wished for, that the busyness and task laden work I did for years was preferable, but killing my soul, and my feet. To find this calling of listening and helping others tell their stories happened out of necessity but has become the greatest joy.
Connection across a room, across ages, and colors, and creeds, and beliefs. Finding my own soul soothed by this mutual understanding and thread of human-ness held by two people in an interchange of thoughtful words.

Thursday, September 25, 2014


He is on his back on the ground, sneakers next to a backpack covered by two or three blankets, under a tree, behind a hedge, next to a million dollar building, next to a multibillion dollar university, near a well groomed public park.  And I think he has courage.

Many wouldn't agree.

Courage to go back to his "spot" every night and lie on the ground to sleep with his paltry assortment of wordly possessions and not take his own life.
Bravery for continuing on in this difficult life despite having nowhere to lie his head at night.
Fortitude in staking out a relatively safe campsite, likely waiting to return after cover of night and leaving before too many workers come in and ask him to leave.

Is there room at the shelter?  Probably not, or perhaps he has been robbed there, or it could be too overstimulating for him, or he has used up his time there.

How does one have the courage live day after day having no shelter, nowhere to wash, lacking the basic comforts of stability, to be able sit without needing to move time after time?  I cannot think of a more fearful situation and yet this person still continues on, likely in fear, likely self medicating to overcome the constant uncertainty.

Yet if he were to come to the ED and say he were suicidal we would be concerned.  We should prevent him from taking his own life, we should hospitalize him until he feels less suicidal, then discharge him back to the street again, the same situation, the same fear, and feel vindicated that we "intervened", we prevented him from suicide.  Yet nothing has changed.  His courage was sustained by four days in a hospital with food, and clean clothes and a shower, and warmth, and company.  Another week of bravery, another week of soldiering on, until it rains, until the snow falls, until the gnawing hunger and instability causes him to lose heart and go to the ED again, or not, and he is found on the ground, under the tree, behind the hedge, beside the million dollar building in the heart of a multibillion dollar university that studies such things..........

Friday, July 25, 2014


I often wonder what it's like to hear whispering's inside my head, how scary it must be to see things that nobody else seems to see.
I look at my client with his dark sunken eyes and wild hair and can't even imagine what it must be like to be him.
"I'm a survivor" he says, and he certainly is, spending most of his life homeless with little social contact.
What must it be like to count on a dumpster for food, or a soup kitchen if you haven't been banned from one...
How must it feel to spend the night curled up in the corner of an abandoned building or to live with dozens of other people in one room for months....
My "guy" is resolute in his unwillingness to sign a piece of paper that might make it possible for me to speak with his family, to be able to determine what sort of help he could get, aged and impaired as he is, yet able to speak for himself, not quite impaired enough....
He is polite yet gruff, "not right" but just "right" enough for court.
He is likable and we joke a little and I try to cajole him..."hey, I could help you at least have three hots and a cot bud..."
"nah" he says, smiling...."I'm a survivor" he says again and I smile too..."yup, you sure are."
My "survivor" goes back to jail and I go back to my desk, and my phone, and my hope......

Darker Nights and the Soul

In the lightless times of day, when one lies alone in a bed that feels too big,
With a blanket that is tucked around you like a cocoon so that the space doesn't feel so cavernous....
Thoughts run around to failures, and wanting, and falling into chasms of loneliness.
And then, sometimes too soon, slivers of sun peek in between the openings of the window shade and a decision must be made,
To get out of the too big bed, emerge from the safety of the blanket cocoon and wipe away the tears and know that life doesn't make much sense, that there are lessons, not failures, that there is only what is needed for the soul now and wanting only creates more wanting.
So the most brilliant shirt is selected to stave off the desire to dress in mourning, and a bit of sparkle is added, and the foot goes out the door.
The empty space will be filled with friends, gratitude for what is, and the knowledge that though some things have changed, there is still love and connection, different but steady.  
There is darkness and the soul, yet the midnight sky will not overtake the heart because that would be giving in, that would be accepting staying in the past and not creating a future.  That would be a soul darker than night, and giving in to that which is not light.  

Friday, March 15, 2013

Suspending Belief

Because I do not know from what lens you are experiencing life, I cannot believe or disbelieve the stories you tell me.
I cannot judge you, I can empathize, but with the understanding of the human experience, not necessarily because everything that is said is exactly what happened.
And really, the truth doesn't ultimately matter, because only you know what happened, what is going on now, what will happen, and who is responsible.
All I can do is listen, and hear your experience and it's impact, and get you to the next level of where you are going with the feeling that you are understood by someone, at least for a time.
Is the system just, equal and fair?  No.  It is punitive, biased, bigoted and focused on those that have the least to lose and the least resources to get it back. 
What I know is your story as you tell it, what I know is the life I see you have lived in the depth of your eyes, the scars on your skin, the smell of your clothes, and the soul that I think I see and know that you know I hear you, I have listened and find worth in your experience. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Weathering the Storm

This change in life, the closing and the opening of doors,
is like a storm, with a tidal surge the threatens to overtake you, and pound you into the shore.
The lesson is to ride it, to not let it drown you, to hold on to the driftwood passing by, those pieces of advice, those people that lift you up through the waves and not drag you down to it's depth.
The pain  of loss, the pain of not being recognized, the fear of the unknown, all these things that threaten your strong ground,  all those sharp stones that cut your feet and spill yourself onto the ground, reshapes you.
It cuts you into a million little bits of stone, sand, but with time, can be molded, and reshaped, and hardened,
into a pebble, a stone, a rock, a boulder that is strong enough to withstand the storm.            
Reshaping, the pounding of emotion and loss and learning, the relinquishing of hope and holding on to something other than that intangible piece, could just be holding onto yourself, and who you are despite the waves that chip away little pieces.  After the weathering ultimately it is you that still stands there, but if open, and willing to be shaped, a stronger version of you, a rock that cannot be pulverized again.