Thursday, June 30, 2011

Loving Those Hats

Now couldn't ya just eat him with a spoon
looking "fly" in his fedora!

There's just somethin about a fedora that is fun
it's bold, it's jazzy, it's after all
And that godson of mine is indeed
a young man of
"stylin and profilin" I tell ya!

We all wear hats of many types
most not bold enough to actually put the "real deal" of hats on our head, but make no mistake
we wear all sorts of hats on any given day!
We have our
"out in public" hat
"at home and relaxed" hat
"professional" hat
"fun" hat
"fix-it" hat
"woe it me" hat
"I am too cute for my clothes" hat
"WOW" hat
"super/man/woman" hat

Yep we all wear many hats during most given days, and some of us are bold enough
to wear the real deal!
Why look back at the Royal Wedding
if ya wanna remember some hats!
Go to a good ole' fashioned gospel church
if ya wanna see some fantastic hats
you know
"Sunday finest hats"?

But then again
there are
just the
most remarkable
beautiful in hats
cos' they can and want to!
This is "Happy", my dear Mentor and friend Audrey Spicer's daughter! I've known Happy since she was born, and she has grown into a beautiful woman with a natural "swagga" and beauty that makes ya wanna just slap her silly.
She is lookin fine just fine in her fedora, and when I saw her while speaking in DC, in the winter, I said to her, "Hap, you know Auntie would loook real fine in that fedora" as I took it off her head! And don't you just know...
I left DC with that fedora!!! LOL
Love her I do, she is a dancer, a teacher, and a devoted daughter, with a smile that could light up the room. And oh how she misses that hat!

"Wearing a hat is like having a baby or a puppy; everyone stops to coo and talk about it." (Louise Green)

Sometimes when you are soooo cool
you just can't stand yourself
(nor can others!)

"Life is like a new hat. You don't know if it suits you if you keep trying it on in front of your own mirror." Shirley McLaine.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I had a talk with a Dreamer

Yellow Brick Road

It's morning and I am ready to fly the friendly skies to Kansas!
Hoping to see Toto
or even Oz
even Auntie Em, known to say,
("Feed those hogs before they worry themselves into anemia." )
but for sure
I am going to meet and speak to a group
Hospice folks of
Crossroads Hospice there!

I was honored to talk to a dear friend yesterday; a dreamer indeed she is.
She was telling me about
"working the dream"
I reflected on a quote of Maya Angelou
who said once,
"Nothing works unless you do".
My friend is a living testament to Maya's profound quote
and she is an inspiration, she is funny, she is a warrior of gentle spirit;
as she now makes her home in Colorado with her son.
She has done much over the last few months and fought systems battles that would boggle the mind of many. And to be honest, many would have huddled in fetal position and just wondered what in the world to do.
But not her, she has persevered
with grace under fire
and incompetence that is beyond the pale.
she has continually worked her dreams
in ways that most cannot fathom
many could learn from.
Dreams are not really for the faint of heart
if you want to see them come true
not really!
Dreams are important
they are healthy
and oh they are wonderful.
But dreams that are really desired
are dreams in the making
often in those dreams are many a twist and a turn, journeys on lands that are unfamiliar
not always unlike the
Wizard of Oz!
I have told many readers that I will be calling upon you for help in finding a part for a Medicare all terrain scooter that would help my friend to get around in her new community out there.
I still plan to do that, as with the cheap replacement model that some useless worker decided it would be better to replace the custom fitted scooter with that does not allow her to get outside... we must rally some help.
We are the warriors to do this, but I just have to find a photo and mode/serial number
to enlist some help here. Stay tuned!
And I sometimes have to wonder
if those in the business of helping those with life challenges and disabilities were made to be limited in their abilities as part of their training
would they be more sensitive in their
It rather reminded me of the quote of the
Wizard of Oz and one that I love so much
I used in
Healing Heartaches.
Funny that as I get ready to travel to Kansas
I am again reminded of the quote
the resilience of the human spirit.
Perhaps it also helps that I am richly blessed
to know this special woman
who continually shows me
the joy of life through photographs
smiles through the storms
then read the comments and emails of so many here on this page!
I am truly blessed and I thank you.

HOME ... there is truly no place like home,
click your heels three times
and embrace your dreams, work your dreams, your plan... You don't have to have
RUBY SLIPPERS, after all the real original slippers were silver!
But whatever the shoe, it's the wearer that really matters, and it's the stylin of the click
that gets you home!

"A place where there isn't any trouble. Do you suppose there is such a place, Toto? There must be. It's not a place you can get to by a boat or a train. It's far, far away. Behind the moon, beyond the rain." Dorothy

Ah, it's goin to be a good day I'm thinkin!

So just as in the Wizard of Oz
just as in living your lives
and in times of love, of adventure, of loss; in times of  uncertainty, of great sadness
and healing heartaches
working the dream that is unique to you...

It may help if you remember this:

"How can I get there" asked Dorothy. "You must walk. It is a long journey, through country that is sometimes pleasant and sometimes dark and terrible. However,k I will use all the magic arts I know of to keep you from harm." The Wizard of Oz

And so, I wish you all that you dare to dream,
the conviction to work it to fruition
the kindness to reach out to others
knowing that you may be blessed in ways
unimagined along the journey.
Did ya hear the news?
Patti Labelle was awarded the
too bad she hasn't received the same distinction across the boards in the music industry. Nuff ssaid.
 Who better to be recognized as one of the greatest voices evah... than my Patti!
A fitting treat since we've talked of Oz...

I invite you to keep your hospice stories coming, the great, the good, the not so good and even if you have had a terrible experience... You can bet that those of the hospice world read it here, and ultimately a change is coming cos' of warriors like you .... people don't know what they don't know!
So let's be sure and let em know!
COB is safely at home after her surgery for Cancer on her leg... she is now having to keep the leg UP and to stay put... that should last about ... well let's just say we'll see how long that lasts since she has already been out to lunch and such!
YOU just don't keep COB down you know!!!
She appreciates all the thoughts and love from those here.

May you Walk In Beauty,

author of
Healing Heartaches, Stories of Loss and Life

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Where've YOU Been?

Sweet Hummer
out in

Good rainy (again) morning
here at home,
where ya been ...
I've missed yall!
Miami was sunny hot and filled with folks
all over the world
there to gather for the
Association of Death Education and Counseling
And gather they did; some of the famous and scholarly and students and those
from places all around
to attend the many and varied sessions held through the three days!
The scholarly, the papers presented on studies of end of life issues; they were there...
the discussions and meetings of those scholars
from near and far;
and the evening of Latin music where all let their hair down and danced the evening away was quite fun
as I sat with my convener of my session; a delightful young woman named Kim and her friend Carrie who is working on her dissertation
both lovely and quite fun!
I enjoyed them immensely.
Kim introduced me to her locket she wears around her neck that held a photo of her beloved 6 year old
CODY who had died and she told me of each evening when she takes her locket off and lays it on her dresser
only to awaken with the locket sprung open!
We talked and her eyes widened as I told her
I think "Cody is playing with you, as he lets you know [there is NO distance and he is doing just fine]..."
"Why, anybody can have a brain. That's a very mediocre commodity. Every pusillanimous creature that crawls on the Earth or slinks through slimy seas has a brain. Back where I come from, we have universities, seats of great learning, where men go to become great thinkers. And when they come out, they think deep thoughts and with no more brains than you have. But they have one thing you haven't got: a diploma." Wizard of Oz The hotel was lovely

oh wow was that room "hot" even after attempts of having them come and "fix" the a/c
I was still "hot"!
But a grand time was held before speaking and after
seeing old friends
and meeting new folks in the field of academia
along with those in the field of care.
It was ever so good
to get in the car
and drive through
Alligator Alley on the way home, HOME
now to get ready to leave in the morning
to meet folks at
at their Retreat
Harrahs Casino there
to provide the keynote address for their gathering.

COB has that CA surgery on her leg yesterday,
now home with her leg UP in the air, she will recover until time for the stitches to be taken out and get the green light to fly here with the Godsons for a vacation.
She is glad it is over and prays all will be done and she will enjoy wellness now.

I thank you for the responses of the last blog
and now hope we can add to those thoughts with more stories,
they are stories to share
ones to enhance care and stories to allow those in hospice to learn from
ones to allow them to enhance their care of those they are honored to serve.
Here's how I see it
we can only be at our best
in our service to others
by stepping out and stepping forward
with straight eyes and clean hands.
You can be sure that I will share your stories
when I speak across the Nation
If you want to share your loved ones names with me, I will honor them, keeping them alive
by saying their names
by letting those I speak with know the stories
and the names.
There is no greater way
to learn;
no greater gift than putting a name to the story to make it real; the good and the not so good
as the stories that make it real.

So for today;
Walk with beauty of all that there is;
remember that each time you say the name of your loved one and bring them in the conversation; you give others permission to talk about them, to keep them alive through their memory in conversation in a healthy way, to honor that their life was much larger then that moment of the death.

May you have a lovely day today,
knowing you are thought of, knowing you are a warrior of gentle spirit.
Walk In Beauty
author of
Healing Heartaches,

Thursday, June 23, 2011

On The Road Again...

Time to hit the road
this morning
via car!!!
Well OK, not this car
and certainly not Kamryn driving!
We had a great light show last night, accompanied by a great rain most of the night
with the Thunder Beings playing; oh what a time they had.
My kind of rain; starts at dark and ends right before dawn!
Up early with the family here,
the four-leggeds too, running round the pool celebrating the freshly washed earth and pool deck;
at times seeming to come pretty close to the edge from what I can sense and see!

The Coffee is great this morning here
but soon it will just be me
with some great sounds to distract from the traffic!
Patti Labelle; maybe some Emmy Lou Harris
and Willie Nelson;
along with my thoughts
in the Murano
down through Alligator Alley
into Miami to attend
(The Association of Death Education & Counseling)
where I will speak and do a book signing
at their annual conference.
Hoping to meet some fantastic folks from around the world during my trip as well.
Staying at the
Intercontinental Plaza
there where you have the lovely option of Valet parking for $34 a night or parking a few blocks away for $10 a night!
Whoopee, what an option that is in Miami!!!

I read with interests the comments of yesterday
which of course peaked my interest
yes, of course when I finally did wake up after my sleepless night I felt like I had been hit by a
Northbound Train!
But it did get me to thinking
as sad as it was to relate the story
that one can always count on me
to "keep it real" here
just as I did
Healing Heartaches
when sharing the pioneers of hospice
the many who do the work of hospice;
there are those who seem to have either
lost their way
or just don't get it.
I still think of that lady who wanted those fake nails
taken off her before dying
and I happen to know the person who had
so graciously agreed in a hot minute
to go to her bedside after working her 40 hours
willing to do so on a Friday night
without thought of self,
just to do what was asked
and give a loving hand massage;
possibly hear a story that this woman would have shared
just because the time would have been right
and the person (*who I know intimately*)
would have looked at her with such understanding and grace that the patient would have felt as though sharing with her would have been the greatest and easiest thing in the world to do, if she still could.
These are the special and wonderful gifts that hospice is known for around the country
and have
excelled at throughout the years.

Elisabeth Kubler-Rossm a pioneer and legends of hospice (one of my heroes in hospice)
said this:
 “I believe that we are solely responsible for our choices, and we have to accept the consequences of every deed, word, and thought throughout our lifetime.”

How true are those words in our life, in our work, our professions... In each breath that we take.

Kubler-Ross was the pioneer whose landmark work
"On Death and Dying" gave us stages of grief;
that many have built on throughout the years.
She lived large although a small woman,
she did not take crap from anyone, she knew that we are only here for a finite time, and that those who need care in the end of their lives need us to be present, to care holistically for and about them.
She also said this, and it is one of my most favorite quotes:

 “People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”
Don't you love that quote?

So as I hit the road today,
I'm wondering,
do you have a hospice story or have you been affected by hospice?
I want to know
and I bet others would want to know as well,
I don't just want the
"hospice people are angels"
Here we are warriors of truth
we keep it real!
Sure I want to know about the wonderful experiences, cos' as you know
I believe in the vision and mission of hospice
along with the fact that there are some
absolutely awesome women and even some men out there doing some fantastic work with those who need hospice and palliative care!
Hospice and Palliative care is for
those who have serious and life threatening illness AND those who love them.

I'm asking you to share your thoughts and your stories for the rest of this week,
whether good or bad
a combination of both.
C'mon give it to us here.
I can remember back in the day
when we charted on paper;
when we brought in our family to wash linens in a little house that mercy built that was an inpatient unit on Christmas, and to help sit bedside with a dying patient until their family arrived because we were short staffed!
I remember when a CEO crawled through a window to attend to a patient who had locked herself in the house, and neighbors thought her dead, only to find out she was in there and thought herself pregnant, (she was 87)!
I remember when Dr Josefina Magno
decided that those with breast cancer were treated horribly by fellow physicians so she went to London to see how this thing called hospice was done
then decided she must teach physicians how to do things differently and was brilliant
becoming a pioneer in hospice
after her own diagnosis of breast cancer in the early 70's.
I've watched changes, legislation, HIPPA be misunderstood, and things change
not always for the best... but change is the only constant in the world.

I've seen dying patients be taken to the beach just to see a sunset one more time;
arrange weddings so that Mothers can see the son get married, and lift her out of a wheel chair so that she could dance with her husband one more time.

I've seen magic in the eyes of little children with old souls
aren't they remarkable?
We sure could learn a lot from them if we would just be still and listen!

So friends,
let me know your thoughts, along with others who visit here!
We know there are many who visit, but don't comment... it shows up in the "stats" that we are read all over the world!
Hospice is now serving and caring for folks across the globe,
I'm more than certain
many have something to say about their experiences or those of someone they may know... be it great, good, so-so, or not so good.
Let's get "real" and share the stories
then you can be sure
I'll educate others
when I'm out there across the country
on ways
that will help and "lessons learned" from the true experts:

Oh my goodness,
the sage has burned and filled the air, with thoughts on the winds to all!
Sandy and Stuart continue to work daily on their home, the smell of soot is there, ceilings are BLACK, but the work is coming into the light for a couple of rooms and progress is being made.
Sandy is a daily reader of the blog
once she returns home here with
"soot and exhaustion"
but a spirit of resiliency and great humor
they both are warriors!
They both appreciate all the love and kindness extended here by those who are holding them up... we continue to hope and pray for an arrest of the arsonist, and justice to be served.
I have to tell you, we are family here, and we stick together, through the darkness we find the light, the humor and we know that we will survive anything.
It is remarkable though, once you have been violated you become extremely keen to the comings and goings in your neighborhood.
That is what is called "hyper vigilance"
we are all rather amazed at it even now!
Also in the prayer bowl
and needing your thoughts:
Little boy Nicholas at St Josephs in Tampa continues to struggle there with his Mom and Grandmom Karen bedside and the brain complications; he is in grave condition at this time.
 Please hold them tenderly
in your thoughts and prayers.

The four leggeds just made a NASCAR run around the pool, but now are giving me the "eye" as they know something is up...
They spied the suitcase last night!
The time is NOW
the tank is filled,
time to love on the four-leggeds
"hit the road"

Here I come Miami... Ready or NOT!

Walk In Beauty,

You can order your copies of
Healing Heartaches, Stories of Life and Loss
at the website above!

(mention that you are one of our gentle warriors when ordering and receive a special thank you gift from me)

Take best care of you
out there Warriors!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Some Nights Are Just Like That

Looking for the
Yellow Brick Road
but at the wrong time

Yep some nights are like that,
you just watch the clock go round
with your mind
thoughts of who know what
going who knows where
feels almost like
looking for
the yellow brick road!

It's one of those nights
here the first night of
I can actually say
I have had much better nights
as I sit out here on the lanai
listening to the frogs make music
wishing I were sound asleep
rather than hearing the frogs
seeing the insides of my eyelids
at this
rather late hour of darkness.
I suppose
it's better than waking up the whole house
who seem to be sleeping
with the exception
who is sitting right alongside me
gazing out into the dark of night
both of us
having tried the
"let's talk about it"
as if
maybe something is on our minds
When that turned out to be
we opted for a swim in the dark of night
cautious not to wake the four leggeds who in turn would wake
Sandy and Stuart
then probably waking the entire neighborhood
cos' after all if we can't sleep
why should anyone else!
that didn't work either.
decided enough on her part and back to bed with her.
So, here I sit
me and the frogs
the darkness of night.
It's times like this that one wonders
what do people do with themselves that like to stay up all hours of the night and into the dawn do at such hours?
I myself prefer sleeping in hours such as these.
since that seems to not be in the plan for now,
I'll just share a thought or two
about the first day of summer.
Hard to imagine that already we have hit that magical day, the longest day of the year.
Fitting that it would also carry into the night for me, as I am prep mode for my trip to Miami
on Wednesday, speaking there at a conference for the
Association of Death Education and Counseling
this week!
There I will also be honored to do a book signing and a wonderful opportunity to do an interview to later be shown on You Tube
which I am thrilled about
Compassion Fatigue.
It will run about 3 minutes all told although it takes about half hour to record, along with other invited speakers at the conference.
Then back home on Saturday
to prepare for a trip to
Kansas City for a keynote for
Crossroads Hospice being held at
Harrahs Casino in Kansas City!
What a lovely experience that will be to gather with a fantastic group of hospice workers there.

Hospices across the country are facing great changes with legislation, with the economy and with bills being passed on Capital Hill.
Organizations are being called upon to do more with less,
and change is affecting hospice and those who have dedicated their lives to enhancing the care of those in need of them.
the hope is that the "vision and mission"
will remain the same.
The vision set forth by the pioneers of hospice
back in the days of the begining.
That of making those patients and the ones who love them live until the moment they die
with grace, dignity and all that they hope for and need to make their lives as wonderful as possible in the time that they have.
That has always been the vision
and some wonderful people have worked hard through the years to advocate for those they provide care for to be sure that happens.

Change is difficult at best as we become more challenged with laws, with rules and with rigid boxes that folks work within.
BUT, the latest hospice story that I heard actually hurt my heart.
It seems in a large hospice someone forgot the true "vision" and true "mission" of caring and somehow got too carried away with structure and policy/procedure to see the bigger picture.
Or at least from the story I got it seemed that way.
Thank the Creator this is not a story I hear often,
but a story that perhaps is one reason I am not sleeping tonight.
It seems that a lovey patient who was close to dying had decided she did not want to die with those acrylic fake nails on... so she had asked her hospice nurse if she could find someone to come and give her a nail manicure and remove the "fake nails" before she died.
The nurse knew just the person, and made a call to a fellow employee at hospice and ask if she would come to the patients home after work
(on a Friday night no less)
and remove these nails, give her a hand massage, and manicure. She explained the patient's desire, and that she was nearing death.
The woman said she would be honored, but since her boss was off and the nurses' boss was off (it was Friday afternoon after all), she thought it best to run this past the Director to be sure it was "ok". So she did that, but knew it would be "hospice at its finest".
The director was hesitant and asked these questions:
1. What do you plan to do there?
"I plan to take the fake nails off, give her a hand massage, comfort and put a clear polish off. I have been a nail tech many years!
2. Are you a home health aide?
Well no not officially anymore, as you know I was promoted years ago
3. Are you a volunteer?
Well, not officially I actually get paid, and next month will be my 18th anniversary here as a full time employee!
To this the director said she had an uneasy feeling about this, but if the nurse (who also had already worked 40 hours) goes with you I guess it will be ok.
Now keep in mind, the patient now was under continuous care so had nursing around the clock at this point, so there would already be a nurse in the home!
So the call was made to update the nurse who said, "ok, we'll do whatever we need to for our patient"
Before that could happen the director called again and said, "I just have an uneasy feeling and I do not think this can happen."
Bottom line:
A dying patient of hospice who wanted fake nails taken off,
a dedicated hospice employee who was willing to do it and who has been an employee for 18 years and has experience in doing it, along with experience with patients, who is excellent with patients and families, who was willing to do this taking her own time...
and a nurse who had known who to call to make her patients dream and desire happen at the end of her life.
Was denied.
Someone in the position of power
true mission and vision
and our hearts ached.
In unison we said
"are you kidding us"?
We are talking about taking best care of those we are honored to care for at the end of their lives here.
Loving and caring Hospice people ready to answer the call, to go and to do
on their own time
in order
to allow a woman to be ready to
transition, to cross over
in her way and in her time.
Someone decided it was
not "comfortable for her", "out of her job description", "she was uneasy"?

And in the middle of the night
I sit and remember
when the pioneers of hospice
the many stories throughout the years
that I have heard, participated in
that made dying patients
smile; their families
look back through the years
and smile
remembering the experiences
the moments
that took that little moment in time
that identified a death
and added to the rich and large life
I cannot help but wonder...
"what happened" in this situation.
But most imortantly
I thank those two hospice women
for not even thinking twice
on a Friday night
when they were ready to go
to make
a last wish
for a patient happen.
Cos' that is true HOSPICE
Hospice is about life
living until the moment you die
savoring each moment
with those that listen
respond to the moment
with grace, laughter
stepping up and stepping out

If you or a loved one need hospice
give them a call,
let them know of your need.
if when in hospice
if you desire, want, or dream
let them know of them
insist on them
don't stop
someone will listen
dreams will and can come true
more times than not
Every day's a Gift.

With that said,
I'm goin back to bed
right after one more swim
in the still of the night
right here at 3am!

Blessings to all who gather here
and to all
dance in the wind
even if only in your minds.

LIve with all you have
Dance with all you want
Be all that YOU are

Walk In Beauty
author of
Healing Heartaches,