Archive for the ‘Ponderings’ Category


Already my new resolution is bringing me answers… big ones, the kind of answers that you might ponder for lifetimes. As I lay in that half-dream state this morning, I thought about last night. I’d worked a 16 hour day which is crazy, mind-rigorous because being a pharmacist is first and foremost about being accurate and making sure that the patients you are attempting to help are also keep safe from harm. Secondly, it’s about creating good regimens that will maximize the effect of necessary medications such as scheduling the antibiotic at the correct times, dosing the medications to boost effect but within the limitations of the patient’s liver and kidney functions, ensuring that the concentration of the cardiac drip is appropriate, watching for all manner of issues or concerns (other meds, patient’s normal biochemical processes, how much the patient weighs, their age, their baseline health conditions) examining the parameters of narcotics or sedatives to keep the patient comfortable but also not exceed the abilities of their body to distribute and excrete the medication.

But I digress… this isn’t about what I do as a pharmacist. I was attempting to paint a picture of my state of mind last night. Bottom-line, I’d been focused and busy ALL DAY.   Now, there have been many days that I’m similarly busy and I feel exhausted at the end of such a day. Last night, as I paid attention to how I was feeling, I realized that I felt more like a wanted a change, a shift, but it wasn’t due to true physical or mental exhaustion. This change, or shift, is what I’ve realized is the crucial point of understanding. In other words, what did I have all day and then didn’t have at the end of my shift? What I’d had all day was a sense of purpose, duty, a place or intention in the world. I woke up knowing what I had to do, that what I did really matters and felt fully competent in doing it. At the point of transition (end of my day of work), it was like a running a relay with the baton in my hand ready to hand-off, feeling great because I’d given my stretch of the track all I had but then someone had turned the lights off and closed the race down. There was no clear hand-off. The space of time in front of me at that moment was unknown, without purpose, detached.

It is this type of decision-point that I realized would usually cause me to experience a rush of pain, of deflation, of uncertainty that, in turn, would make me want to fill the void with something to alleviate the pain. All kinds of things will work… eating, having a glass (or more) of wine, interacting with another person, getting lost in a movie, going to sleep, exercising, working some more. The list is as limitless as any human being’s ability to come up with things to do. Where does the pain, the deflation, the let-down come from and why is it perceived as pain?

This is where it gets interesting. There is an exquisitely painful point within us, like a deep wound that holds our false sense of unworthiness. Within this cesspool of agony, we don’t believe we have what it takes to not be alone. It’s the part that is beyond the fear of separateness… it knows to the CORE that separateness is our only true reality and that there is absolutely something very wrong with us that makes this true. Now picture a magnet flipped over so instead of pulling another magnet closer, it twists, wiggles and maneuvers in an attempt to move away from the other magnet and the harder you try to push the two magnets together, the more violently they will repel. In the end, you can’t ever get the 2 magnets to connect. This is how our psyche relates to this core point of grief and ache within us. We will do ANYTHING to not get close to this so we either buffer or numb ourselves, distract or erect incredible fortresses in an attempt to create distance.

This explains our moods and our addictions or habits… when we are anxious, fearful, despairing; we are circling around the precipice of this wound. It’s almost like being in a room of glass shard walls that create a maze. Everywhere we attempt to move, we get cut on the glass, there is no moving into a soft corner, every decision or diversion brings a fresh cutting. When we feel accomplished, connected to other people, happy, free, we have only managed to move away from the wound by creating a world that makes us feel safe from the throb of our unworthiness. Highly intelligent people use their mind to create layers upon layers of reason and understanding, creative people spin themselves into an intricate world of beauty and inspiration, powerful people harden the space with walls of ingenious, control, manipulations, extroverted people bounce among and intertwine through their relations with others, introverted people withdraw and go inward into themselves, easily wearied from trying to find ways to “stay out there” in open territory. Every decision or movement of our life which gives us a perception of less lonely or self-importance gives us a sense of relief. Every decision or movement that takes us closer to feeling loss of purpose or separateness (being still, an unfilled space of time, feeling dejected, rejected, confused, fearful, lonely, bored, uncertainty) will cause painful feelings to surface and make us want to do things to alleviate the pain.

The kicker is that I don’t think the tender point is really pain. I think it is our true essence, our greatest sense of love and connection, the deepest wisdom of our worth but we don’t believe in it because every time we have ever gotten close, we misinterpreted that feeling as pain. Crazy, huh? This also explains why meditation, applied correctly, can absolutely work. This explains what Brené Brown (http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability?language=en) figured out with her shame and vulnerability research. The place that we would call a wounding is really an unimaginable space of peace and grace, an opening of acceptance and inclusion that negates the idea of separateness.   But don’t take my word for it. Start paying attention to your own feelings. When do you feel less anxious and alone? What do you do when you start feeling uncomfortable or vulnerable?


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Well, it’s been a long time.  Not sure why I’m not consistent with posting but I do know that ever since we were hit by the tornado in January 2013 my life has been reeling.  I learned the difference between replacement value insurance and depreciated value insurance that year.  Unfortunately we had depreciated value insurance and with a house that is 30 years old and 2 crushed vehicles over 10 years old, we ended up paying almost $40,000 out of pocket to get everything replaced and fixed.  And we still have huge tree pieces all over our land but we’ll at least have enough firewood to last for, I don’t know, forever

Last May I had several vivid, weird dreams and then one of those unexplainable events happened that I’ve learned to not try to figure out but instead be extra observant and ride through.  On this particular day I was leaving after getting home from work to go play tennis.  I had been playing tennis a lot for months, almost always with men who hit the ball hard and who wanted to play for hours, which I loved.  I’m very competitive and hitting the ball hard and pushing myself physically was a great stress reliever.  Our family had even planned our previous winter’s Christmas trip around me getting to go to a world-class tennis center at Hilton Head.

As I turned out of my driveway that day, I noticed a bright red car that was unusually small and unidentifiable, almost the size of a smart car but wasn’t… I still don’t know what kind of car it was.  It stood out to me because it was such an unusually bright red color and the driver reminded me of my son for some reason.  As I continued down the road, I started noticing that every other vehicle I met was a red vehicle and most of them were the same unusually candy-apple red color as the first car I noticed. After going a couple of miles, I could feel the hair on the back of my neck standing up. This continued uninterrupted the entire way to the tennis courts, a total of about 5 miles. I was dumbfounded but didn’t have much time to ponder what it might mean. I mentioned it to my tennis opponent, he laughed (nervously) and made some joke about it and we proceeded to hit balls for a couple of hours.

Leaving the tennis courts, I started thinking about the “red car” thing that had happened and wondered if it would continue. The first car I met was white. Right after, approaching a very tight curve, a rusty red truck came into view, obviously going too fast and fully over the middle line and barreling directly into my path. I could see that 3 men were in the truck, all looking disheveled and wild, and the driver was leaning against the steering wheel, appearing completely out of control. I held my breath, knowing that it would be impossible for the truck to correct itself and with an embankment on my side of the road, no where for me to veer off the road to avoid impact. The next second, I was around the curve and the truck was behind me. My body seemed to float weightlessly as I continued down the road in a surreal haze, my heart beating wildly in my chest. The next three cars I met were not red. I could feel my mind start to unwind in relief. It was over. I had no idea what any of what had just happened meant, but my senses were definitely heightened and I was completely alive and alert.

A couple of weeks later, my son graduated from high school and four days later I woke up at 3 in the morning with an attack of ocular shingles. Who knew that shingles could be in your ocular nerve and is the leading cause of infectious blindness? Even being in health care for 30 years, I’d never heard of it. The pain was agonizing and both my husband and I were in shock from me suddenly having something that was considered an ocular emergency. By the time it was over, I ended up having a full-blown flu/mono-like illness that had me out of work for weeks and left me weak and nauseated for months after.

I used my sick and recovery time for rest, reflection and attempting to bring balance back into my life. What I knew needed to come back into focus was my spiritual life. The prior year had been swallowed in work, getting through the activities of my son’s senior year and my own graduate MBA program schoolwork. With an intention to recommit to my spiritual practice, I reached out to a friend of mine at work who I knew woke up early every day to do devotions and asked her if I could text her for a while in the mornings so that I’d have someone I could be accountable to and hopefully would be less likely to quit. Getting up early is not my thing… I’m a night owl but I knew that this would be the most predictable time of my day so I started small, just waking 30 minutes earlier than usual so it wouldn’t be such a drastic change but enough time to be meaningful. It worked… months later I was still getting up, sending my friend a text (“doing it”) and meditating or listening to inspiring teachers (especially Pema Chodron who is amazing). And my friend was always on the ready to reel me back in line if I neglected to text her while on vacation or when I had an especially crazy week with work or school.

Which brings me to New Years and resolutions. Reflecting on what I’ve learned about myself, feeling good about my commitment to my spiritual growth, I realized when I woke this morning that I need to pay particular attention to ways that I numb myself and resolved to make an effort to be in my feelings instead of using things (wine, food, work, facebook, watching movies) to quiet or escape whatever I might be feeling. As soon as I decided to do this, I felt a wave of sadness, like someone had taken away my comfort blanket or teddy bear. Right behind it was a sense of deep-seated loneliness and fear of being in pain. I told my husband about my resolution anyway, starting with not drinking wine every night and voiced my concern that I would substitute my nightly wine with food instead. I can say that I don’t look forward to being so acutely awake and unmuffled but the wise part of me knows this is important, that this is what all humanity struggles with and I’m just curious enough and courageous enough to actually see this through.

So here goes… 2015 is the year of taking the wooly blanket off my senses and fully experiencing what each moment brings. And, I almost forgot, I would like to start writing more again because I know it is healing for me. So here’s to a year of more frequent writing and posting. What is your 2015 New Year’s resolution??

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DSC02179Crazy year so far… tornado hit our house at the end of Jan. and now having 10 of my my teeth recapped (took tetracycline as a kid and it ruined my teeth) but the restoration process has stirred up dormant issues apparently and have had 2 root canals in the last week.   Worse news… my teeth still hurt!  Afraid to call the endodontist and let him know because he’s most likely going to want to drill again.  YUCK!!   Mostly, I ask myself, what does all this mean?

Also considering going back to school at 50 years old and getting my Masters in Health Administration because I want to move out of pharmacy and work more in consulting or in a more global position such as a chief operating officer.  Really don’t want to spend the time or money, but also don’t want to be stuck in the same position of being a pharmacy director for the next 15 years.  So much to consider, so many choices, such a fork in the road, so to speak.

I’ve started working on an online program with the University of Spiritual Healing and Sufism to assist in connecting with divine guidance but also have a healing scheduled with one of the graduate students from there this week to expedite getting some much-needed answers.

Right before all this started, I felt led to start a new “Women Who Pray” movement with daily scheduled praying for “self” at 0830, 1230 prayer for someone who you don’t consciously pick but are led to pick by your heart and 1630  (second person you are led to pray for) daily.  I’ve been amazed at how many women are interested in joining this very contemplative prayer (no agenda, no specific request, no desire for results, no judgments) movement.  I plan to start a every other week meeting for us to get together and share our stories.  Women need connection, I definitely know this.  Here’s to the new movement of “Women Who Pray” and also to me getting some answers!

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Okay, so I can’t stand it any more.  I know, I’m a pharmacist.  But that doesn’t mean that I believe everything that comes in a pill. If your doctor has prescribed a “statin” cholesterol lowering drug for you, please just say “NO.”  “Why?” you ask.  Because the whole premise of “high cholesterol”  and its relationship to cardiac health is not what it appears to be.  Cholesterol is produced by the body to heal tissue damage and to maintain cell membrane health.  If you lower cholesterol to some “magic number” then you negatively influence your body’s ability to heal.  All the research on cholesterol and health is based on data that shows people who have cardiac events have corresponding high cholesterol.  That is like saying that people who have an infection also have a fever so the fever must be causing the infection.  No, the fever is the body’s response to the infection.  Similarly, lowering cholesterol will not prevent cardiac events.  Cholesterol is elevated as a RESULT of cardiac events.  If you have  high cholesterol, then you have tissue damage to which cholesterol has been released as a response.  When you artificially lower cholesterol, you have now lowered your body’s ability to maintain healthy cell membranes, reduce cell oxidation and also set you up for multiple downstream effects including reduction of hormone production (cholesterol is a precursor of hormones), a serious, life-threatening condition called rhabdomyolysis, anemia, hepatic or renal failure and many other effects. The manufacturers of “statins” were able to receive approval for new drug applications because the efficacy of “statins” is based on how well they lower cholesterol.  And, of course, they do lower cholesterol.  What has been swept under the rug, however, is whether lowering cholesterol makes sense for decreasing cardiac events and whether lowering cholesterol actually decreases mortality and/or morbidity.  Too much commercial bias exists now to easily undo the propaganda of “statin” drugs.

See the following links discussing “statins”:



In addition, check out the impressive member list of The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics


Unfortunately, doctors are in a liability dilemma regarding the prescribing of “statins.”  Because of the “research-based latest guidelines,” a doctor would be considered negligent if they didn’t prescribe a “statin” when a patient’s cholesterol level is considered high.  But, luckily, you have a choice as a patient.  You can REFUSE to take the “statin” medication.  This essentially takes your doctor off the hook and also prevents you from having the many possible secondary issues from lowering your cholesterol.

            JUST SAY NO!!

Your good health depends on it!

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Talking seems so easy, so effortless to many people, but to me it feels like quicksand, taking me down, suffocating, burying me alive.  I don’t remember ever liking to talk unless it’s a deep conversation, the kind that makes your heart throb with pain and empathy.  I like people’s stories, trials and tribulations, stories that mean they’ve questioned and doubted and tested themselves on some level.  Nothing bores me more than an untested person.  I don’t have any patience, especially for a person who professes to be knowledgeable but all the understanding comes from spoon-fed learning or cerebral ego-inflation.  I feel myself quiver on a soul level when a person shares an experience that has essentially plastered them against the wall of all they thought was true, like road kill of their belief system; I love those conversations, the lack of arrogance and invincibility is refreshing and enticing.  I want to talk to the person who wonders if there is a God, who despairs about tomorrow, who sees their child’s feet as the most precious thing that could possibly exist in the world.  I like talking to the person who knows that shadow is as real as the idea of physical reality and both have their designated corners and neither should be ignored.  I enjoy speaking to those who have encountered the worst in themselves, have seen their guilt and blame, anger and manipulation, phoniness and compassion and they can get up the next day and try to care about something in the world outside themselves.  I like someone who is “over themselves” and shares what is interesting and unique while admitting that all the threads of the world make up the fabric of who they are, not just their skin and the blood pumping through their veins.  I want to spend my life with those who see and act through the eyes of kindness and clarity, forgiveness and remorse.  All that “has been” or “will be” can be salvaged in the bath of grace.  I know because I come from the grace-balm and return to the warmth at regular intervals.  Grace is the ability to love what is normally unloveable.  I want to embrace the unloveable, in life, in myself, in others.  To me, this is the only point of talking, of connecting with others.

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I’m fascinated with understanding the “why” of the choices we make as human beings.  I remember having a sense of the “background” of people, even as a small child, although at the time I didn’t have the context to fully comprehend what I was observing.  I could feel when people were “saying one thing but doing another.”  This was very confusing to me and gave me reason for a lot of disappointment and disillusionment growing up.  Now I realize that to be disappointed in a person’s or one’s own “shadow” or “unaware” self is a recipe for constant dissatisfaction.  We all have a very active unaware self and most of our lives have been created from this unconsciousness.  

The obvious motivator of this “other self” is fear.  Anytime we are in fear, we rely on the reality of our unconsciousness instead of listening to our wisdom.  We act out by using control, isolation, withdrawal, abuse, phoniness, anger, resistance, guilt, pain, and so on.  We have a myriad of behaviors that allow us to express our fear and unworthiness.  What I’ve learned by working with clients as a spiritual therapist, teacher, helper of people as they are dying, mother, wife, friend, and pharmacist is that there are some key character qualities that can help us recognize this aspect of ourselves and because of these attributes we are able to use our will and make the “higher” choice of listening to our spiritual nature. 

Self esteem is a word we hear frequently and much of the time it is culturally misunderstood.  And to a certain extent, the idea of self esteem that is cultivated in our society is a necessary first step in our growth.  Learning to be self-sustaining, finding our purpose in life, revealing our gifts in life, being the best we can be all sound very noble and enriching of our self esteem.  The problem is that our ego (the survival part of us) takes hold of what gains we might make with self esteem and mixes fear in the pot.  The result is that no matter what benefit we may see in self esteem growth as we move through life, our unconsciousness “taints” our perception of ourself and our life so that we can’t hold any really sense of worth.  We are left with only a fake, flimsy mask of self esteem that is subject to whatever whims our perceptions and experiences might bring to us at any given time.  

The attributes that can effectively move us out of this cycle depend on self-awareness.  We must be able to catch ourselves as we move into patterns of unworthiness.  As soon as I sense I am withholding my love, feeling sorry for myself or feeling angry, I need to notice that I’m doing that.  Every single time I am able to observe this, I build spiritual strength.  Every time I make the choice to move into care or understanding or forgiveness, I am enhancing my self esteem.  

The fruits of this kind of self awareness are spiritual integrity and accountability.  These two principles are the foundations of true self esteem, not society’s version of which we are accustomed.  Each time we make a choice to move out of unawareness by noticing when we are acting out of fear, then we add to our integrity and accountability “bank accounts.”  When we can take our actions a step further and not only stop ourselves from acting out of fear but can even switch to behaving through love, then we reap “compound interest” in our self esteem accounts.  

Why do we care about self esteem?  Because without self esteem we lose hope and purpose as human beings.  We develop illness, become depressed and cause pain in the lives of others and ourselves.  Often as I drive through the beautiful mountains where I currently live, I pass houses of occupants who throw piles of trash and junk in their yards.  Sometimes the debris is mounded up to the roof on their front porches, blocking their windows and doors.  With miles of amazing mountain range views available, these people choose to clutter and obstruct the natural wonders with their own accumulated refuse.  Why?  Why would a person choose pain, ugliness, depression instead of receiving the unlimited, free gifts of beauty all around them?  Because their self esteem feels so depleted, they live in such vile unworthiness, they are completely unable to perceive what is right in front of them.  

Choosing to foster self integrity and accountability often doesn’t occur to us because we minimize the huge significance of being honest (always) with ourselves and others.  We don’t realize how this builds congruency within us, which is the fabric of spiritual growth.  We find it tiresome and discouraging to notice when we are behaving in ways that are hurtful to others or ourselves so we prefer to see our masks.  Promoting our ego is a grooved pattern so we behave from the security of our habits instead of expressing our care.  But I know this as the truth… every single instance that we make the aware choice is a thousand times more powerful than any unconscious decision.  This is our David and Goliath certainty.  The weight of a loving action is far more potent than any action that comes from fear.  This is our spiritual evolution “leg-up;” we can undo much of our shadow with a fraction of the effort because love and kindness is exponentially commanding.  The blessing is the eternal hope and grace of which religions speak. We don’t have to climb a huge mountain to be redeemed.  We just have to make a different choice now, not burn and bury the whole negative baggage of our lives.  One choice at a time.  One objective observation of one’s self at a time.  One caring impulse in this moment.  

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I notice people’s hands.  I often can’t describe a person otherwise, whether they wear glasses, the shape of their face, their hair, but I can remember hands from far back into my childhood.  My sister has hands like my mother, strong, small and capable with broad nails.  My other sister and I share my father’s hands, thin, long-fingered, neat nailed.  This sister picks around her nails; they are constantly peeled and raw.  My children’s father has brown, working hands and his thumb crooks back in a tense L-shape when he is concentrating.  I’ve noticed the same with my son.  My favorite basketball coach in junior high with her dazzling blue eyes and extraordinarily beautiful hands, delicate, smooth with perfect white nail tips manicured into uniform points.  When I notice hands, I immediately feel compassion for those with the nails bitten off.  I can feel the tense moments, the loneliness, the driving compulsion and pain behind the act.  The surgeon at my hospital, round-bellied, always walking like he’s in a race, his fingernails chewed down to dots of afterthought, with lumps of skin-knobs replacing where his nail beds once were.  Often it seems that the bitten off nails belong to very “put-together” people, creating a juxtaposed impression, always a source of personal surprise and insight, peering into the vulnerableness behind the confident facade. My friend in high school, the cheerleader, beautiful long legs but hands with unattractive, arthritic looking knuckles. My stepson with uncut, excessive nails; I find myself feeling irritated just looking at their neglect.  My childhood psychotic neighbor, her hands fine-boned and lovely, yelling at me in her raspy voice to stop making snow angels on the bank across from her house. I remember having to hold hands playing dodge ball in the third grade with a boy named Tim Dancy, his hands soft and clammy. The copycat girl in 5th grade who coerced her mom into buying my exact outfits, her hands covered in warts.  My father’s hands, hard and dried; when he unclasps his fingers, the skin of his palm catches in tightness so the best he can do is a cup shape, never a full extension.  I noticed last year at the beach that my niece has the exact same hands of my sister.  An elderly hospital patient, the first two fingers of his right hand missing down to the second joint, an untold story that begs to be known.  My nephew’s ghostly white hands, limp and noodlely, appearing boneless.  My gin and tonic loving cousin, her always busy-when- she-talks hands endearing in their childlike smallness. My daughter’s hands, sturdy yet exquisitely gentle, their soft, fluid movements a reflection of her inner grace and compassion.  They say that hands are the instruments of our hearts.  I believe our hands can also reveal inner feelings and reflect our experiences. Hands, to me, are a window of introduction and a source of memory; people, places, events, feelings, and times.  Like timekeepers, the hands hold it all.

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