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A Personal Share

Dear Friends,

Thank you so much for your support and sharing.  My life is taking a new direction.  It is a heart calling.  I feel all of my life experience has accumulated to serve this calling.  Later this year, I will be starting in a training program to become a hospice and palliative care physician.

I am thrilled and grateful beyond measure!

In order to maintain alignment with simplicity, a core value, I will be letting go of my website.  You may continue to follow me on Facebook and/or LinkedIn. As you know, I have a variety of passions, and while I would anticipate blogging about a variety of topics, most likely I would be shifting focus to death and dying.

As you may know, I feel that dying and death can inform living and living well!  Also, we do have many experiences of death before the final act.  For example, marriage as the death of single life;, divorce as the death of a relationship;, a relocation, etc.  In short, if it serves you, please maintain readership and contact, and if not, many blessings to you as you move forward.

Godspeed Friends!





Category: Personal development Relationships
Integrative Medicine

This may be more of a rant than a rave and yet….  Attending an introduction meeting to our local hospice house, the director gave an overview of the services provided.  She spoke of the nursing care, the technology then said “and we have some alternative, non-medical, things as well.”

From an Ayurvedic perspective everything is medicine or it is toxin.  Whether it is medicine or toxin depends largely on the individual ingesting it, but other factors such as timing and environment also play a role in determining if an ingested substance is medicine or toxin.  Also remember in Ayurveda, everything is food from relationships to environment to what we in the West usually refer to as food.  For example, eating an organic freshly prepared meal standing up in state of anger surrounded by other angry people at midnight is toxic to the system no matter how pure and great the meal is.  However, eating fruit at 4 pm while relaxing on a park bench with your beloved is medicine.

The physician-patient interaction can be either a placebo, medicine, or a nocebo, or toxin.  Research has shown that our interactions and personal relationships influence bodily sensations/symptoms.  Even our own personal thoughts are medicine or toxin.  This requires us to embrace our own humanity, to feel our own pain, and to meditate, to pray, to exercise, to eat according to one’s own constitution, and ultimately to take responsibility for this form known as you. Be present and empathetic to others, but then when the interaction is over, it is over.  

We are the owners and determinants of our own destinies.

We all have suffering, feel pain…as an adult we largely have choice whether or not we are victims.   What do you choose?  Is your choice aligned with the God of your knowing, with your heart?  Blessings.

Category: Ayurveda



A ritual “is a sequence of activities involving gestures, words, and/or objects, performed in a sequestered place, and performed according to set sequence”. Rituals may be prescribed by the traditions of a community, including a religious community.

Recent research suggests that rituals may be more rational than they appear. Rituals performed after experiencing losses do alleviate grief, and rituals performed before high-pressure tasks do in fact reduce anxiety and increase people’s confidence. What’s more, rituals appear to benefit even people who claim not to believe rituals. While anthropologists have documented rituals across cultures, this earlier research has been primarily observational. Recently, a series of investigations by psychologists have revealed intriguing new results demonstrating that rituals can have a causal impact on people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

In an observational study on ritual, researchers asked people to recall and write about the death of a loved one or the end of a close relationship.  In the writing, some of the participants naturally included the description of a ritual they performed after experiencing the loss.  Some examples from the writings are:

“I used to play the song by Natalie Cole ‘I miss you like crazy’ and cry every time I heard it and thought of my mom.”

“I looked for all the pictures we took together during the time we dated. I then destroyed them into small pieces, even the ones I really liked, and then burnt them in the park where we first kissed.”

What are some rituals you perform?  How do they support you?  If you don’t perform rituals, what are some ways you could?  Have fun exploring!

Category: Spirituality
Another perspective on Birth Control Pills (BCP’s)

I truly believed oral contraceptive pills were the best thing since sliced bread.  I used them myself for nearly two decades.  Then I started to develop melasma, also referred to the mask of pregnancy, but I wasn’t pregnant.  I also knew as an Ob/Gyn that some times oral contraceptive pill users developed melasma.  I decided to change contraceptive forms.  What I did not ask at the time was why?

Well, there is a condition called estrogen dominance that is responsible for many issues including decreased sex drive, irregular menstrual periods, bloating, water retention, breast swelling and tenderness, fibrocystic breasts, headaches (especially premenstrually), mood swings (most often irritability and depression), weight and/or fat gain (particularly around the abdomen and hips), cold hands and feet, hair loss, thyroid dysfunction, sluggish metabolism, foggy thinking, memory loss, fatigue, sleep disturbances.  Estrogen dominance has also been linked to allergies, autoimmune disorders, breast cancer, uterine cancer, infertility, ovarian cysts, and is also associated with acceleration of the aging process.  In addition, the use of oral contraceptive pills has been linked to disruption of a healthy microbome and associated with development of Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel condition. 1

Birth control pills promote estrogen dominance states.  What is worse is often the first thing may physicians recommend when you come in to the office with PMS symptoms, which are in themselves a symptom of estrogen dominance, are birth control pills.

In a normal menstrual cycle, estrogen is the dominant hormone for the first two weeks leading up to ovulation. Estrogen is balanced by progesterone during the last two weeks.  As a woman enters perimenopause and begins to experience anovulatory cycles, a menstrual cycles where ovulation does not occur, estrogen can often go unopposed, causing symptoms of estrogen dominance. Skipping ovulation is, however, only one potential factor in estrogen dominance. In industrialized countries, estrogen dominance can be secondary to excess body fat (greater than 28%), too much stress, low-fiber diet with excess refined carbohydrates and deficient in nutrients and high quality fats, environmental agents from ingredients in our make-up to pesticides and herbicides, and the fore mentioned exogenous hormones such as birth control pills.

You can decrease estrogen dominance and take back your health by eating an anti-inflammatory diet with organic vegetables, wholesome protein, and healthy organic fats and maintain a healthy body weight.  Also realize that estrogen is excreted by the colon; if stool remains in the colon longer than normal, estrogen is reabsorbed, so figure out what you need to do to have a daily bowel movement.  Daily exercise and drinking at least half your body weight in purified water daily are musts.  Support your liver by reducing alcohol and caffeine consumption.  Figure out how to respond to life instead of react.  For me, meditation has been key.   Find out what balance is for your body…happy exploring!

Category: Preventative Health
Dying...a journey, a memoir

I was chosen as the caretaker of Bella, a chocolate Labrador, over 13 years ago.  She was born into my home and nearly a year ago she had an all-natural death in our home.  Despite knowing the physical process of death, it was difficult, yet a beautiful blessing.

Our society doesn’t do death.  Our pets get euthanized.  Also although 80% of people desire to die at home, 60% die in the hospital and 20% nursing homes.

In hospice and palliative care models, it is considered less than optimal to have received chemotherapy or heroic efforts within the last month of life.  Despite this, people who enter into palliative and hospice care earlier, live longer and in better physical health than those without such support.

One reason I feel we don’t do death is lack of exposure to death.  I will share Bella’s journey, then share a typical human’s journey through the dying process.

Four months before Bella died, she was no longer interested in long walks.  Short ones were ok.  She still loved to fetch the ball, but did not demand it any longer.  She started to sleep more.  There were other things I noticed such as she ate slower and after she ate her eye were watery.

The week of her death she stopped eating.  She did not eat for 5 days, then the day of her death she did not drink water.  She started to stumble.  We moved outside for the remainder of her time, as she loved being in nature.

At one point, she went into what is called terminal agitation, and she stumbled into the pond on the property.  Shortly after that she lost bowel and bladder control and started to pant, then moved into a period of erratic breathing and shaking of her body. About two hours before her transition, she moved into an easy, rhythmic breathing pattern.  It was at that point I lay on the ground and placed her on top of me.  She took her last breath about two hours after that.

For humans…

1 to 3 months before death, most people

  • Sleep or rest more
  • Eat and drink less
  • Withdraw from people and stop doing things they used to enjoy
  • Talk less (but if they’re a child, they may talk more)

1 to 2 weeks before death, the person may feel tired and drained all the time, so much that they don’t leave their bed. They may experience:

a change of sleep-wake patterns, further reduction in appetite and thirst, fewer and smaller bowel movements and less urine, increase in pain, changes in blood pressure, breathing, and heart rate, variations in body temperature, change in skin temperature and color, congested breathing, change in mental state, changes in breathing.  The dying human may experience and relay hallucinations and visions, especially of long-gone loved ones. If your loved one is seeing and talking to someone who you do not see, simply support him/her. Bowel and bladder function may be lost and terminal agitation may occur where the dying person is picking at things in the air or s/he attempt to get up out of bed.  These are all normal part of dying.

If we truly want to die at home, we need to begin to face death as natural part of living, the same as birth.  Just as in birthing, dying is not a pain free process, but it is a natural process that we can bring back home. 


Category: Personal development



“One would think that the unexpected brings the most stress to our lives. However,  psychologist say planned changes are even more disruptive than unplanned change.  Somehow saying an event “just happened” is excused as an event from nature, from the mystery.  We can fight such events them, ignore them, or accept them. But we know we can’t fix them or change them, so after the initial shock or disappointment, we move through the change in our own way. “Some of us find a way to rise the occasion. Yet, if we believe there’s something malicious at work, we fight it, fret over it, and never stop fussing, at least internally.  That’s stress,” says Father Richard Rohr in his book Hope Against Darkness.

This is the dilemma that most of us face now as we approach death.  Until the advent of antibiotics and respirators just after World War II, most people died unexpectedly and suddenly.  Today, however, most of us will approach our death knowing about it over a long period of time.   On average the dying person is directly faced with his/her own mortality from 3-8 years before actual death.  The actively dying, which will be all of us some day, go though a period of being stripped of what defines them from their physicality to their mental ability often with at least some awareness.

So now we get to ask ourselves questions, “What does it mean to me to die a dignified death?  How do I envision my death?  What trade offs am I willing to make?”

It is of utmost importance to consider such questions long before we are forced.  Medicine has become so advanced that it can keep offering testing and treatment until we are no more and we have died trying.  This is the medicalization of death.  Death is a natural event.

Our society doesn’t do death.  Our pets get euthanized.  Also although 80% of people desire to die at home, 60% die in the hospital and 20% nursing homes.

The definition of medicalization in Webster’s dictionary is “to view or treat as a medical concern, problem, or disorder.”  Underneath this definition in Webster’s dictionary is a quote by Liam Hudson who states, “Those who seek to dispose of social problems by medicalizing them.”  The Oxford dictionary states that medicalization is the same as to medicalize and provides the following definition, “Treat (something) as a medical problem, especially without justification.”  Even the definitions of medicalization present the dilemma.

However, when a patient says, “Make me a guinea pig.  You are my last hope.  My chances are not zero, are they?”  We, the medical professionals, may buckle.  It is such words that haunt us, taunt us and turn us upside down and inside out.  Such words touch our vulnerability and humanity.

While we, the medical professionals, ask ourselves how well does a frightened, desperate person starring death in the face understand what are all the possibilities involved in treating? Can there be a true understanding of the best or worst outcome scenarios?  Can the question of “What are you willing to give up for more time?” ever truly be answered?  Who and/or what determines which odds constitute a justifiable chance?

The truth is no one knows what the next moment holds, although our choices do impact the next moment.  The truth is a honest offering of simply walking with another in the mystery, the unknowable, and the uncertain with an open and calm heart and honoring the decisions of the individual, which is, at least in part, the role of an Anamcara, or soul friend.   In the Celtic tradition, all humans have an Anamcara who walks with him/her throughout his/her life.

What resonates most deeply is Frank Ostaseski’s approach to dying well:

  • Mastery: pain management…including not only the physical, but the mental, emotional, and spiritual pain
  • Meaning: what is valuable in life and living
  • Mystery: letting go of meaning and entering land of unanswerable questions
  • Mindfulness: being present with every aspect of every state of being.

What dying calls for is what real living calls for…trust…trust so deep that we can let go and be fully receptive concurrently.  

What is possible?  Perhaps it is possible to envision death as an opportunity, a new frontier, rather than solely as the enemy.  Perhaps defining a natural death…seeing beauty in the changing form…is possible.  How?  Perhaps by talking about death and dying whenever the opportunity presents itself, and the sooner, the better.  Imagining into alternative ways to age and die with family and friends.  Have a party with the theme of “The Five Wishes.”  For medical professionals, perhaps learning to embrace our own humanity and vulnerability, and in doing so, become wholesome and honoring partners to walk with patients in uncertainty.

Category: Personal development
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