Unwrapping the "Present" - Christmas Mystery

Kung Fu Panda is one of my favorite animated films of all time.
When Master Oogway imparted this Galapagos Tortoise wisdom upon Master Shifu, you could have heard a pin drop.

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"Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift.
That is why it is called The Present."

Are we present for the gift of the present? Are we available, focused, and receiving of the moments given to us? So many times our fast and furious lives are nowhere near the present. Today is the gift, but how often do I spend my moments worrying about the past or planning for the future? How often do I find myself not even mentally in the same room with my precious gift?

Our lives are extraordinary gifts. Each breath is a gift. The opportunity to work with individuals with ALS keeps me grounded in this truth. No one can give first. We must remember we take every moment of every day. We draw a breath and take it in. We can give nothing until first we take. Gratitude must be primary.

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It is Christmas. Mystery lies inside the unopened present. There is excitement and potential and expectation. We feel the giver’s generosity, but no joy is shared until that beautiful ribbon is untied and the box opened. Then what? Have you ever been on the side of the giver when a gift was not well received?
We find no joy in this moment.

It takes humility to open a gift, receive it, and accept it. There is a mysterious circle of joy that results from the unity between a generous giver and a grateful receiver.

This is the mystery of Christmas.
The
Creator of the Universe, the Giver, presents to us the Present.
Will we be there to receive it? Are we still,
open, and humble enough?

C
omplete His circle of joy and accept His Gift this Christmas.
Unity through Humility.

Wishing you all the many blessings that come with everyday we choose to live in and with the Present. Merry Christmas.

Michele, Dave, AJ, Kyle, and Joshua
 
Jesus said,
Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.
                                                                                                John 16:22
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Special Relativity and a First Grader's Pumpkin

With my patient schedule and personal weakness and need to pretend I am still a professional, I do not get/take a lot of time to volunteer in our middle son’s first grade classroom. I should do it more often because the kids always enlighten me in some profound way.

So, when Monster Math rolled around this
Halloween, I volunteered. It always amazes me how I can know what to say to a patient struggling with the ravages of ALS, but when it comes to a group of children I am petrified. Kyle’s fabulous, saint-like, first grade teacher gently laid out our assignment of math tasks to perform, and together with a table of six six-year-olds and a selected pumpkin I dove in.

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The first assignment was to measure the dimensions and then guess how many seeds were in the large squash before we sliced the poor thing open to verify the truth. One might think the guessing of concealed contents would be the tough part, but all of the six-year-olds at my table were quite certain of the number of seeds inside. It was the measurement of the outside of the pumpkin that was the topic of debate. How could this be? Were we not all looking at the same pumpkin?

In Ms. Hedge’s classroom, the first grader’s use a measurement tool called Unifix Cubes. They are brightly colored, uniform cubes that interlock together like Legos. First you capture the height or width dimension of the pumpkin using the cubes, then count up the number of cubes and there is your precise measurement. Each child wrote down their answers and compared. There were a lot of different answers.

The six-year-olds proceeded to discuss, jockey for position of correctness, change answers to match others, all of the “normal” activities we humans engage in to determine who is right, and who is wrong. The result was a table of first graders with varying degrees of
tiny puffed-up egos and mildly hurt feelings. I could have simply let it go, but I felt both sides needed a reality or “relativity” check.

I knelt down behind each child’s chair and quickly measured off my Unifix Cubes to determine the height and width of our pumpkin from the different perspectives. I took special care to reassure the table of six-year-olds each measurement given was a perfectly “true and correct” answer. We discussed briefly that each chair was a perfectly fine place to do this experiment from, and that no chair’s perspective was any more right than another chair.

This is the essence of Special Relativity for measuring a pumpkin. Is it ever too earlier to touch a child with the importance of seeing the truth from
another’s perspective?

This needs to be a core value in the hearts of our next generation if they are to have the
courage and creativity to climb higher. I hope they invite me back.

Have a fantastic week and stay safe, warm, and dry.
I always look forward to your comments.
Michele
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A Final Word - Healed, Saved, or Cured

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Originally this was the only blog on healthcare I planned to bother with, but I felt some background information, research, and sources were needed to provide a canvas upon which to paint this picture. The three terms above have very different meanings. I feel understanding the essence of these concepts holds a key to the healthcare dilemma in our country.
 
What does it mean to save? Under the context of healthcare, to save someone is to rescue them from physical death or serious harm. We save a life. Inherent in this concept is the need to intervene from the outside with whatever high technology is available; invasive procedures, imaging, surgical intervention, pharmaceuticals, ventilation, etc. This is a passive activity for the patient. One can do very little but accept the care provided to them. We are blessed to live in a country that is capable and highly skilled at saving lives.

“For it is by grace you have been saved… not from yourselves, it is a gift of God.   Eph. 2:8

To be saved requires the humility to accept a gift from outside our control.

What does it mean to heal? Someone is healed when their health is restored. This concept reaches far beyond the physical body since to be a whole and sound human being means to be healthy in body, mind, and spirit. Instead of an intervention simply coming from the outside, a healing body must work from the inside. I have been blessed to work with the spinal cord injured, brain injured, and individuals fighting progressive neurological disease most of my life.
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Regardless of the cause of the insult, or the extent of physical recovery, a therapist’s job is to assist individuals in healing their body, mind, and spirit. Many times a “healed” person appears much different from the person they once were. This is an extraordinarily dynamic life process for all of us since we are breaking down and healing our body, mind, and spirit on a day to day basis, and if we are not, we find ourselves feeling pretty poor.

Healing is not a passive activity. Healing is not simply symptomatic relief. Healing is about facilitating restoration of wellness and function, and it must be a very active and holistic endeavor. I would assert we live in a country that seems highly incapable and somewhat inept at this process.

“He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you…”    Mark 5:34

To be healed requires a dynamic and ongoing effort which originates from inside our control.

OK. What about the term cure? If you look in the dictionary, you may find these terms, “to cure” and “to heal,” used in a superficially interchangeable fashion. So, let’s dig deeper into the definition(s) of cure. A cure is also defined as a remedy, an act or agent that preserves. These terms paint a picture in my mind of a one-time, quick-fix solution followed by a static state. I am not certain this term even belongs in the vocabulary describing the dynamic health and wellness of an individual. Yet, I believe this is how many of us have come to look at our health. I’m busy, fix it. I too am guilty of this mindset.

USA Today reports, prescription drugs are now the biggest cause of fatal drug overdoses in America. 

“Addiction to prescription painkillers — which kill thousands of Americans a year — has become a largely unrecognized epidemic, experts say. In fact, prescription drugs cause most of the more than 26,000 fatal overdoses each year,”  says Leonard Paulozzi of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Approximately 120,000 Americans visit the emergency rooms each year due to overdose of opioid pain killers. As I was researching the above statistics, numerous sites popped up where you could purchase your own cheap and effective Hydrocodone and other pain medications. These sites are probably scams, but that is not the point. There is a pervasive mindset in the United States which justifies the overuse of prescription medications for “preventing” and “curing” disease
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.

"The biggest and fastest-growing part of America's drug problem is prescription drug abuse," says Robert DuPont, a former White House drug czar and a former director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. "The statistics are unmistakable."

Another negative aspect of the word cure is the position in which it places our healthcare providers. Doctors are expected to perform feats beyond that of flesh and blood humans. We seem to forget their brains are limited to connecting a synapse just like the rest of us, and when they fail we feel we have been wronged. The expectations we place on our healthcare system result in a runaway train of procedures and tests fueled by fear of litigation.

My husband does an injection technique which illustrates the not-so-subtle difference between the concepts of healing and curing. The procedure is called prolotherapy, and it challenges the idea that chronic pharmaceutical management or a surgical “cure” are the only options for a torn ligament or a joint with cartilage damage. The technique is simple if you know and appreciate the musculoskeletal anatomy and the mechanisms that cause pain. You find the structure that is damaged and inject it with a solution that basically irritates the squat out of it. The tissues become inflamed and call in stem cells, cytokines, and other natural processes God put in place to allow our bodies to heal. Over time, you have a stronger ligament and/or improved cartilage. He has kept hundreds of people from suffering through surgical intervention. Are they cured? No, that is a static and inappropriate term. Are they restored to function by facilitating their own body to heal from the inside? Absolutely.

This is no different from choosing to use a digestive enzyme to move food more quickly though your gut so you naturally accumulate less stomach acid rather than taking a drug to block the backed-up acid. The inability to properly digest the food is what needs to be healed. This is no different from using natural occurring supplements like folate, B6, B12, CoQ10, or fish oils to decrease the inflammation and injury to your arteries rather than jumping immediately on board with a statin drug to lower your cholesterol. The damage to your arteries is what needs to be healed. But what we hear incessantly advertised on TV is how these chemical “cures” are what we need… They often are not.

Not all pharmaceuticals are evil. Not all information is erroneous. I have taken an antibiotic or two over my lifetime, and my dad has been treated with chemotherapy. I do not subscribe to the conspiracy theory. This situation is not nearly that intriguing. But as we discussed in the last post, there is a good chunk of misleading information fueled plain and simply by greed.

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I believe we need to entertain a true bifurcation of our healthcare industry. We need a healthcare system that employs “high-intervention from the outside to save a life” and “low-intervention that facilitates the body to heal from the inside” to maintain that life.

You have probably noticed I get my jollies from making spiritual and scientific analogies, and this one is a beauty. I hope this, my “Final Word on Healthcare - Healed, Saved, or Cured,” has been thought provoking. I am eternally grateful this Thanksgiving for all of you that make my life rich beyond compare.

I always look forward to your thoughts.
Michele
 
www.usatoday.com/news/health/2009-09-30-drug-overdose_N.htm
 
 
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Sorry God... You're Not FDA Approved

How do you define a valuable healthcare intervention? I believe we would all agree at the top of the list is “safe and effective.” But there is another essential quality inherent in a valuable intervention that may not immediately come to mind… Accessibility.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was established in 1906 to regulate medications and food products in the United States. The FDA’s goal is to protect the people by controlling access and deciding what food and which pharmaceuticals reach the marketplace. What about substances that naturally occur in nature but are not classified as food? Can natural substances that have been studied and have known beneficial effects in maintaining and regaining health be FDA approved? Yes, they can. But these remedies found in nature cannot be patented. Since one cannot patent a natural substance, and because the FDA processes is so costly, these natural products cannot be sold for exorbitant profits. It is cost and profit prohibitive to seek approval by the FDA for a natural occurring substance.

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Regulators (the FDA) usually don't negotiate their budgets with the industries they oversee (pharmaceutical companies)," writes Anna Wilde Mathews, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does. In the early 1990s, drug companies started paying the FDA millions of dollars in user fees, to speed the drug approval process. The fees "now fund more than half the agency's critical drug-review process."

This review process excludes, of course, the natural occurring substances that cannot be patented.

One of the results of the situation explained above is the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA). This statute states, “A dietary supplement may not claim to treat, cure, or prevent any disease.” Since your physician is in the business of treating, curing, and preventing disease this verbiage may very well prevent him/her from readily recommending natural supplements. You may leave their office with a prescription for a pharmaceutical your insurance company will likely cover, but regarding natural remedies you are usually on your own to dig up the information and always on your own to pay for them.

Why is all this important? Access.

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In the United States, we have what is termed “conventional medicine” or pharmaceuticals, and what is termed “alternative medicine” or natural occurring remedies. The American College of Rheumatology cautions against the use of “natural” remedies because they are “not based on the quality of scientific evidence required by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval of conventional medication.” They go on to discuss the “dangers and side effects” of well researched and documented supplements such as chondroitin, glucosamine, SAMe, and fish oils. Their bottom line position is, “Because the FDA is currently unable to regulate the quality of herbal remedies and supplements, or verify their effectiveness or safety, the use of herbal remedies is not recommended.”

Bioidentical hormones are another interesting topic. Bioidentical hormones, as the name suggests, are identical to those produced by the human body. They are prescribed by a medical doctor, compounded using the same FDA and USP registered materials the pharmaceutical companies utilize, and prepared by qualified pharmacists under the oversight of their professional board. A number of pharmaceutical companies manufacture synthetic versions which are patentable, while putting significant pressure on the FDA to crack down on compounding pharmacists.

USA Today reported, “Wyeth, which makes two of the most commonly used brand-name hormone therapies, Prempro and Premarin, asked the FDA in 2005 to take action against compounders making similar but natural products.” The FDA did just that.

In an AP report this month, Zetia and Vytorin, two drugs manufactured by Merck taken by millions of Americans for years to lower cholesterol, still have not shown improved clinical outcomes. Yet, in a new study, AP reported, “Zetia failed to shrink buildups in artery walls while a new rival drug, Niaspan, did so significantly.” What is Niaspan? Niaspan is a slow-release version of niacin. Niacin is a natural occurring B vitamin. Of course Niaspan, manufactured by Abbott Labs, had to have a unique time released delivery method in order to be patented, and profitable, and FDA approved.

The other day I found best-selling author and well-respected physician Andrew Weil on the FDA H1N1 fraud list for recommending researched and holistic options to guard against the likelihood of catching the flu and/or decreasing the severity of its symptoms. God forbid that kind of information gets out – may lose another vaccine sale on an otherwise healthy young adult. Below is a statement from a former chief virologist at the FDA.

Dr. Anthony Morris, a distinguished virologist and former Chief Vaccine Officer at the U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA), states that, “There is no evidence that any influenza vaccine thus far developed is effective in preventing or mitigating any attack of influenza.” He adds, "The producers of these vaccines know they are worthless, but they go on selling them anyway.”

I highly recommend a New York Review of Books article by Marcia Angell. In this article titled, “Drug Companies and Doctors: A Story of Corruption,” she lays out the extensive financial ties between pharmaceutical companies and many physicians who conduct clinical trial research. Most disturbing was the corruption of senior faculty at prestigious medical schools around the country. These “key opinion leaders” are the faculty and professionals teaching our next generation of physicians.

Ms Angell states, “It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine.

Wow. So, I am no editor for the New England Journal of Medicine, but allow me to share a story closer to my heart.

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During my husband’s OB/Gyn internship at Brackenridge Hospital back in 1988, he was instructed by his attending physicians to prescribe a drug called Parlodel to hundreds of new young mothers. This drug, also known as bromocriptine mesilate, works by stimulating dopamine receptors in the brain. This stimulation in turn decreases the production of prolactin from the pituitary gland. The drug has many uses including movement disorder management in Parkinson’s patients, but the doctors in 1988 were prescribing it to stop milk production in these new moms. This was the standard of care so the “superior” and more expensive formula, Enfamil, could be provided to these welfare moms and given to nourish their newborns instead of that nasty, natural, and substandard breast milk.

Are you kidding me?!?

The drug was pulled from this application after a number of heart attacks, strokes, seizures, and deaths resulted. This is a true story outlining the standard thinking a short 20 years ago which my brilliant, free-thinking, and holistic physician-husband allowed me to share with you. The point is clear. We do not have all the information, and many times we are trying to improve on mother-nature when it is simply and
totally inappropriate.

We need safe, effective, accessibly, and affordable options for health management in the United States. I believe this is an area of healthcare that requires significant reform.

This is my question.

How did patentable, synthetic, and altered chemicals become “conventional” medicine and the attempt to regulate the
health of God’s design with natural substances He created become “alternative” medicine?

I am sorry God, you’re not FDA approved.

I would love your thoughts on this one.
Michele

www.SourceWatch.org
www.healthfreedomusa.org
http://www.lifespirit.org/Alternative-Practices.htm
http://www.rheumatology.org/public/factsheets/diseases_and_conditions/herbal.asp
Why The FDA Suppresses Natural Remedies and Cures www.ezinearticle.com
www.mercola.com Nov. 17, 2009 post.
Wall Street Journal (sub req'd), September 1, 2006http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091116/ap_on_he_me/us_med_cholesterol_drugs
http://www.nybooks.com/articles/22237
www.nvic.org/
www.overdosedamerica.com
www.ourdailymedsthebook.com/
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Who's Guarding Healthcare's Hen House?

Healthcare reform, I have not written about it, but it is always on my mind. In a 2008 New England Journal of Medicine report, 90% of Americans believed our medical system requires “fundamental change.” I am one of these people. How hopelessly naïve of me to think the individuals in charge actually knew “what” required this fundamental change. S
Hen House
urely, it was obvious that we should be less concerned about "how" to pay for the healthcare status quo and more focused on reforming "what" constitutes the status quo.

What is the status quo of healthcare in the United States? We have by far the most expensive health care system in the world. So we get what we pay for, right? The statistics do not show this value. The U.S. now ranks last out of 19 countries for unnecessary death – deaths that could have been avoided through timely and effective medical care. Chronic debilitating disease kept one in six working-age adults (18 percent) out of the work place in 2006. The annual healthcare spending per person in the U.S. is double that of our like countrymen, yet we rank ourselves next to last in percent perceived value.

In regard to these statistics, why are we not more focused on the reason care is so expensive? Why efficacy is so poor? Why perceived value is so low? Instead, our Congress is about to pass a healthcare “reform” bill that reforms nothing but the way in which a broken system is paid. Wow.

How do they say this $856 billion proposal will be paid for? U.S. News and World Report published an article the end of September stating most of it will come from taxes on some high-cost insurance plans, Medicare cost reductions, and cuts in federal benefits. They also target three industries from which they will collect fees to the tune of $13 billion: pharmaceuticals, health insurance, and medical devices. I’m thinking so far so good. This is what the breakout looks like.

U.S. based pharmaceuticals brought in $44 billion and will be asked to pay $2.3 billion in annual fees. This represents about 5.2 percent of their industry profits. Health insurers brought in $11.3 billion and will be asked to pay $6.7 billion in fees resulting in 59 percent of their annual profits. And the medical device industry, who earned about $5.1 billion over the last year, is being asked to pony up $4 billion in fees an enormous 78 percent of their profits. Ouch. It is easy to see the pharmaceutical companies are the Big Winners. No wonder they are endorsing this bill after spending an average of $160 million a year to block other reform efforts.

The trade organization for the global pharmaceutical companies is called PhRMA. The recent deal struck between PhRMA and the White House and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus reveals a slightly different scenario. This plan calls for an $80 billion contribution to be paid out over the next ten years, yet th
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is comes with significant strings attached to keep PhRMA securely in control. In a recent article from “The Hill”, Ralph Neas, the CEO of the nonpartisan National Coalition on Healthcare commented, “We don’t want to demonize any sector of the healthcare economy,” Neas said, but added, “Do I think that PhRMA got an especially good deal? Yes.”

Let’s stick with the number game for a moment. PhRMA spends about $200 million per year lobbying their interests on Capitol Hill. They spend $7 billion per year on gifts for doctors. Of course these doctors will say that nothing sways their professional judgment, but ethics studies tell us differently. PhRMA spends $30 billion (yes, billion) per year in the U.S. on direct marketing and advertising. This direct-to-consumer practice was actually prohibited until 1986 because, of course, controlled substances should be dealt with differently than the best cheeseburger or hair gel.

In my last post, I referenced the book “Blink” and the idea of rapid cognition, the powerful workings of our mind below the conscious level. So what does this have to do with healthcare and the major issues we face? I believe a great deal. These slick direct marketing tactics do “sell” you a drug, a vaccine, a treatment, a procedure, a power wheelchair, and a state of mind. The way you and your doctor thin-slice reality becomes a lot more disease management than health care, and if it did not work, PhRMA would not continue to spend $30 billion dollars a year on it. Some sources report this staggering amount is more than twice what they spend per year on research, development, and manufacturing of their drugs.

Astonishing.

The advancement in pharmaceuticals is a critical part of the modern care of individuals. They can save lives… They helped save my dad’s life. The problem is they have controlled the healthcare industry in the U.S. for years and many alternative therapies which also save lives are not paid for because there is no profit in it for the individuals with deep enough pockets to fund mass studies. Over 2/3 of all scientific studies performed on medications are now funded directly by the pharmaceutical industry, and most of the physician information is derived directly from their drug representatives.  Complete and unbiased information becomes increasingly difficult to access. We need to put free-thinking, innovative, and holistic healthcare professionals back in charge of the healthcare system rather than the stock holders and profits of PhRMA.

The concern should not be the presence of a government public option for healthcare. I believe all Americans should have the security of coverage, and I am grateful for our country’s desire to see this as vitally important. The issue is that under the current “reform” bill government run healthcare is PhRMA run healthcare, and I do not trust this is the system we want for the long term welfare of our children or their nation.

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Our children do have the brains, courage, hope, technology, and heart to take this situation back over. This is our son Kyle. He wants to be a doctor like his daddy. I want him to use his remarkable brain to find a cure for ALS.

Am I biased? You bet your bloomers I am. Collectively Kyle’s parents have nearly 50 years of healthcare experience. We deal with the inter-workings of healthcare and health failure on a daily basis. We are both passionate healthcare professionals and incurable patient advocates. But we feel the selective information and greed that has controlled our industry for decades must be met head on. Does healthcare need reform? Lord knows, yes! But we cannot solve the problem with the same tactics and players we’ve used to create it.

We all must make a fair and reasonable profit on our goods and services in order to continue to help people, but I believe, just like their kissin’ cousins Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac… Pfizer Mae and Freddie Merck need a shorter leash.

Mine is only one opinion. Please share yours.
Michele

Pharmaceutical Reform Head-On Collision with PhRMA Lobby
USA Today. Drugmakers go furthest to sway Congress.
US News and World Report – Rick Newman - September 25, 2009
Prescribing under the influence – Markkula Center for Applied Ethics
US News and World Report - September 15, 2009
www.mercola.com
www.opensecrets.org  

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"Blink" - Picture Them As Skeletons

The history, traditions, and celebrations surrounding Halloween are diverse, and at times, controversial. The other day our 9 1/2 year old asked about the origin of the festivities. We did some Wikipedia research and just before he completely shut down from the complexity of it all I suggested,
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"Why don't we use Halloween as an opportunity to remember that everyone is exactly the same underneath all those fancy costumes, masks, and different color skin? So, the next time you feel ashamed, intimidated, or scared to speak out, picture them all as skeletons. Equal."
AJ stared at me with his special, 'please be done talking' look, rolled his eyes, and walked off.

I enjoy public speaking. As crazy as that may sound, the continuum of feelings from paralyzing fear to exhilarating freedom are intoxicating. Following this conversation with AJ, I began to wonder, why do I put myself out there? Open. Raw. Exposed.
Why do I
choose to place myself in a position open to ridicule and criticism?

As I sat in the drive-thru line at Starbuck's patiently awaiting a macchiato, I glanced down to make a note on my iPhone. I was immediately aware of my personal answer to this question. As the sun caught the screen of my phone just right, or wrong depending on how you look at it, I saw a painful reflection of a saggy faced woman I barely know. I was judging my face, in spite of its compromised position against gravity. I sighed and looked up into the rear view mirror hoping the image I saw on the screen was a gross distortion of reality, but unfortunately the face I visualize in my mind is simply changing and getting older. I came to the conclusion, I put myself out there because when I speak, or write, when I touch the soul of a patient, or scratch the surface of a forbidden subject... Time stands still. I am not a skeleton. I am alive.

We are always
creating. Many people become alive through music, art, speaking, writing, working, serving, or "simply" living. Sometimes there is little choice to the activity in which we find ourselves engaged, but if what we are doing does not make us feel alive we need to step back and rethink. We also need to celebrate those around us who have found their passion and are living out their purpose. Cheers.

Between patient visits, children's activities (and fevers), relationships, and life at home, I am reading the book "Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell. The book discusses, rapid cognition, the split second thinking which operates below our consciousness. This "thin-slicing" of how we see the world is not something one can change through will power since it resides and works on a subconscious level.

In order to see the world differently, I must change my heart. We must surround ourselves with the thoughts and images of
heroes from different cultures and religious backgrounds, bathe in their power of love, compassion, intelligence, creativity, courage, peace, and ability to inspire. Only by recognizing and honoring these positive images of diversity and triumph, can we change how we react subconsciously. Without any control of our will, the atmosphere we project to the world becomes one of love and respect.

"... For out of the overflow of (man's) heart his mouth speaks." Luke 6:45

To what degree can we alter the subconscious thin-slice of how we first see an event, a person, ourselves, the world?

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See someone.
Blink
See them as the opposite sex.
Blink
See them as another race.
Blink
See them as a skeleton.
Blink
See them in
God's image.
Blink

Then, look into the mirror and do the same with your own reflection.
Take a deep breath... And see the whole world differently.
A world of
endless possibility.

Happy Halloween. Michele
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"Eve. Where did you get that apple?"

Consciousness, and the nature of human consciousness compared to that of other living things, is a fascinating subject to ponder. Of course this unique ability to ponder, in and of itself, sets us humans apart. Any scientist who studies the behavior of dolphins or chimpanzees, any dog or horse owner, knows intuitively and intimately these beings are remarkably conscious. Fortunately for the dog, his apparent inability to worry about how he looks to the other dogs, or what is going to happen to him after he dies provides him a pleasant canvas upon which to paint the picture of his life.
We are different.

The story of the Fall of humanity is one we have heard since childhood.
"Eve. Where
exactly did you get that apple?" Which tree is it that was forbidden? Should we be curious to why it is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and n
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ot the tree of power, or the tree of life, or simply the tree of knowledge? What is significant about this tree? What entered into humanity when we became conscious of good and evil?
Judgment entered.

Their new found self-awareness and self-consciousness is the first detail we read about Adam and Eve after indulging in the forbidden fruit. They realize they are naked. Self.
Ego. Shame.
They are immediately worried about how they look to the other dogs.

The story goes on to describe Adam and Eve's shame, fear, turning to blame one another, and justifying their own behavior. As Genesis unfolds, humanity spirals relentlessly downhill.

Jesus' words are clear and strong regarding judgment.
"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the same measures you use, it will be measured to you." Matt 7:1-2
This
cause and effect relationship, in regard to how we choose to judge, seems inescapable.

The
divine gift of an expanding human consciousness and our extraordinary complexity also provides us with the free will not to judge. With this gift of free will we are capable of choosing the wisdom of renunciation, and every consideration
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for another human being comes from this freedom of consciousness. Joy resides here. We have a choice of what to paint on our canvas.
Maybe I do not have to be so jealous of my dog.

Some time has passed since my last post. I look forward to your thoughts.
Michele

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Tennis Anyone?

I am a pitiful tennis player. My limited ability creates a situation where it is increasingly important that I am selective with the balls I attempt to hit back over the net. If there is any chance the ball coming at me will be out, it is probably best to let it go and not interact with it at all. The outcome of my choice to interact has a high probability of being negative.
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In life, as in a game of tennis, we must accept the balls of reality that fly over the net at us. But it is
completely our choice to hit those balls back over the net...
Or not.
Much of Jesus' message is based on "resist not evil". Why? Because when we resist something, when we interact with it, we keep it in play. I have always been fascinated with this verse, and I believe the tennis analogy touches on its deep truth.

What are our choices when we are faced with negativity? How do we respond when someone or something is throwing off our game? Our first option with that "ball" is to hit it back and
interact with it fully. The second, is to watch where it lands, and thus make a judgment regarding whether or not we should have hit it. Of course this option is worthless to the specific point in play, this event in our life has passed, but it may prove to be a teachable moment for a later game. The final option is to simply let it go, not to interact with it, not to watch it, not to judge it in any way.

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I pray every day that I will have the resolve to stop playing the finite games I wish to no longer play and focus all my energy on an eternal perspective.
I especially hope to shed those destructive
games of solitaire. The games we play with ourselves are the toughest to shake. We must remind ourselves that what we choose to hit back over the net not only stays in play, but comes back at us.

By making the choice to hit a ball back over the net, we give life to the game, but if we simply allow the ball to go flying out of bounds without resisting or interacting with it... Game over.

"An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind."
- Mahatma Gandhi

I am looking forward to your thoughts. Michele




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Paths Taken


Israeli physicist, Asher Peres, once said, "Unperformed experiments have no results."

Tests and measures within the quantum realm require huge amplification of the system in order for us to observe anything. Heisenberg's uncertainty principle explains how some variables are difficult to impossible to measure at the same time because of their relationship to one another. I am a quantum infant, but what I can say, with some certainty, is the act of testing or measuring, in and of itself, interferes with and changes the system you are observing. It becomes impossible to go back and test "the same system" again, since any possible results of subsequent experiments in time will have been changed by what you chose to test prior. Consider testing a bomb, once detonated there is very little chance of testing any other characteristic about that bomb.
The same system "state" no longer exists.

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Why bother ourselves with this? I think we should bother because this concept in quantum mechanics and the essence of human experience are strikingly similar, and I am also petrified of being clueless in front of my children. Outcomes of an experiment are impossible without a choice being made of what to test. Experiences in life are impossible without a choice of path taken. Once a decision is made to measure, go down a certain path, turn right verses left in a busy, dynamic mob of people, yell at your kids, roll your eyes, or speak hurtful words , you cannot go back and make the other choice. The individuals and the environments you now encounter are different. The circumstances and state of the universe are changed. The same system "state" no longer exists.

As I review my words I cringe, and all I want to do is say, "I am sorry for the choices I have made, and beg for forgiveness."
Every decision is sacred...
Guard your heart.

Never underestimate the power of an experiment observed, a choice made, a path taken, a word spoken, or a thought focused upon, for out of the unseen all that is seen manifests. In quantum mechanics, it is referred to as the uncertainty principle or more descriptively
"the principle of indeterminacy."
In the human experience, I suppose we would call it
free will.

If this attempt at marriage between coffee table quantum mechanics and the human spirit is at all entertaining to you, please comment and let me know.

Go out and determine your day. Michele

Related post
Tennis Anyone?



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Links in the Chain


What image comes to your mind when you think of a chain? Is it one of limitation, bondage, and imprisonment? Or do you think of a chain's length, reach, and collective strength?
I suppose the image one settles upon depends on the relationship between the links one chooses to visualize.
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Recently, I must admit, I have been in a relative funk. I am blessed with many interests and opportunities, but I am not always certain where to place my focus, and as a result I am inclined to feel quite irrelevant in my endeavors... Your basic personal pity party. These are not new demons, and whenever I struggle with them I try to think about what kind of link I am being in the chain of my relationships. Am I creating a kink with my need for relevance, or do I try to be a strong link and hold on until my direction becomes clear? In the United States, we can be a fiercely independent and driven society, or we tend to passively blame external forces for our plight. I believe either approach gets us all kinked up at times.

We were blessed here in Austin on Saturday with a much needed and extraordinary amount of rain. This provided my husband and I an opportunity to watch
President Obama's address to the students with our nine year-old son AJ. Regardless of how you voted, or how you feel the administration is handling public policy (believe me I have my opinions as well), please take the opportunity to watch this with your children. It was a humble, heartfelt, and personal call for our next generation to reach for their dreams, be responsible for giving of their talents, and to never forget their relevance in and for the world.

I have always been fascinated and humbled by individuals who have risen to
greatness simply through their ability to identify their call and inspire others. These are links in the chain possessing immeasurable strength such as Abraham Lincoln, Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Desmond Tutu, and so many others. A common thread running through these individuals is a belief that all of humanity is linked together. What if we approached one another as if every single link, every single person, every single gift and talent was required to reach a goal of height and possibility we cannot even imagine? What if we truly believed that every soul (everywhere) was a critical link in manifesting our destiny as a human race?

Actually loving our neighbor
as ourselves...
How different the world would be.
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Do you Believe in Signs?

We have all been playing this game called life long enough to answer this question honestly for ourselves. Have you ever experienced intuition? Premonition? Dejavu? Divine intervention? Have you ever witnessed extra-sensory perception? Distant learning? Non-local effects? Healing without a medical explanation? Have you ever felt spoken to by a soul who has passed? The universe? God.

At my core, I have always believed and felt these things to be true. I am now personally convinced since becoming a mother in 1999. The intuition part... It is real.
What has become more interesting in the past five years is the number of times information regarding the same "topic" has come at me from multiple and completely unrelated angles. I call this a sign... A knock on the head. These, I have stopped choosing to ignore.
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If you have read this far into this blog, consider it a sign.

Currently, I spend a great deal of time on the road between home health patients. During my drive time, I manage these patient's needs, help to manage our home and three children, schedule events, correspond with colleagues, put out fires. I know many of you personally, and I know you use the time in your car to manage your business, sales, accounts, children, school and volunteer obligations, etc.

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Last Sunday we wrapped up a discussion at church about creating margins in our lives. The definition used for margin is the space between our current activity and our limits. For some "reason" the way I utilize my I-phone, which I love, jumped into my head. I figured it was because my phone actually helps me create margins since it helps me to be more efficient and effective with the use of my drive time.

I have to confess I do talk on the cell phone when I drive, occasionally dial numbers, find numbers in my contacts, look at a text. When I am stopped at a light, I have also been known to schedule a patient, type in a note, or read an email. I do
not text or type while driving simply because I do not feel I can do it safely. That is the reason, in my own assessment I do not feel it is safe.

OK. Back to signs. On Monday evening after a long and wonderful day with patients, I loaded our SUV with the three most precious little guys in the world. They were busy telling me about their day as we turned onto City Park Road. We were just a few twists and turns from home when a pick-up truck crossed the center line and was traveling in our lane. I got over as far as I could, hit the brakes, and laid on the horn. There was nowhere else to go. When the young man looked up from his phone, he swerved back into his lane. He was texting. I am certain by his own assessment he felt it was safe.

This morning, I opened a couple over-due blogs I enjoy reading by
Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson. There it was, my third sign (knock on the head). The blog highlighted the statistics, the legislation, the deaths, and a very graphic video which I recommend you spend a moment watching. You have come this far... Do you believe in signs?

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We all believe we are in complete control when we choose to do the things we do. If we did not believe that, we would not do it, right? But we cannot control our children's behavior if we have been modeling these things as "OK" since they were five. I remember my dad saying, "Don't do as I do, do as I say." I knew this as bull then, and our kids know it as bull now. Our oldest is six short years from the road. His is a texting generation. If he sees me with a phone in my hand he will not discern between talking or texting, answering emails or playing music. The phone does it all, and if it is in my hand while I am behind the wheel, I am saying it is OK. But it is not.

I wrote this because I want to be accountable to the people who know me. I have now muted my cell phone while I drive so it will not tempt me. I will check it when I stop.
Stop.
You are receiving this because I care about you. I care about your children. Or maybe, you are receiving it because someone else is speaking to you.

Click here to view the video. It is graphic because reality is.
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A Legacy of Exponential Potential

The Greek philosopher Pericles once said, "All things human pass away. It is only the legacy we leave behind that lives on."

I just finished teaching a class for
physical therapy students in the area of spinal cord injury rehabilitation. This was my nineteenth year. Every year feels like a greater and greater opportunity, and it is never difficult to find new things to share.

I want the students to leave class with the basic skills and entry level confidence to treat this population of patients. I could never accomplish this alone. What makes this class special are the numerous professionals and individuals with spinal cord injury who generously give of their time and open their lives to these eager clinicians to be. Nothing is off limits, and by the end, both student and teacher become aware and begin to embrace their potential legacy.

If a legacy is defined as "strong" by leaving the world a better place than we find it, these student's choice in career is particularly blessed. On any given day, we not only have the chance to personally leave the world a better place, but we have the opportunity to assist another back to engaging in their
purpose. We become bigger than ourselves becau
Gultori
se we can help empower someone else to continue building their own legacy. Not being a mathematician, even I can see the exponential potential in this most blessed career path.

Last night I watched a report by Christiane Amanpour titled
"Generation Islam". The report spoke to the power of educating the youth particularly in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Through money spent on books instead of bombs, we can help facilitate open education of this next generation. The piece highlighted the work of Greg Mortenson author of the best selling book "Three Cups of Tea." Greg has dedicated his life to developing community-based education and literacy programs in this region. With special attention given to empowering young women, this next generation will have the potential to take control and define the direction of their own country... Their own legacy.

So, as I reflect on my little piece of the world and this year's students, my hope for them is a calling not just a career. One can build a kingdom
for this short life on earth through a career, but only through a calling can one build a legacy that will not soon pass away.

May you
not miss your calling. You never know the infinite potential of the souls you touch, or the blessing they may have in store for the world.

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Soul Factory

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O.K. This is one of those bizarre things I have been thinking about since I was like, eight years old. If we have an eternal soul, why do we think it is eternal in only one direction? Where was I, Michele's eternal soul, before April 12, 1966? Was I run off some soul factory assembly line at that point in time and space of eternity, or am I eternal in both directions of time? And if I am, what in the world was I up to?

This brings up the very controversial subject of reincarnation. Do we, being eternal souls, get more than one chance at this thing called life and
ultimate salvation?

I had this conversation with a close and wise friend one time, and her response was inspired, "Why does it matter?" "I am not going to take a chance and live or believe differently thinking there may be a possibility that I get a second chance."
I agree with her 100%. I firmly believe, Jesus, the person in whom
I place my trust, and His being, the message I seek to understand and live, is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Entertaining the concept of reincarnation does not change the way I live, but it personally softens the way I forgive. It gives me an eternal perspective in both directions, and quite frankly helps me embrace the fascinating variety of people and their paths.

One night a few months back our two older sons, AJ 9 and Kyle 6, were watching a show about dinosaurs. The program was discussing the Cretaceous Period. Kyle asked AJ what they meant
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by "period". AJ answered, "A period defines a large amount of time in the earth's history." As I wallowed in parental pride at AJ's impressive answer, Kyle responded, "Or, it could just be that tiny little dot at the end of a sentence."

Within this remarkable and mysterious concept we call time, our
finite physical existence of say 70 years or so if we are lucky is just "a tiny little dot".
My question to you is this, "Do you believe your life is a onetime punctuation mark? Or, do you believe it is a period within the much larger story of your eternal soul?"
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Being Bigger Than Ourselves

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"Mommy, look how big I am!"
Time after time, we hear this from uninhibited young hearts.
As humans, we have this deep desire to be bigger than we are.
Why is this so innate?
Where does it come from?
Why is it universal?
And "what" is the solution to being bigger than ourselves?

On Wednesday evening, between fixing dinner, negotiating baths, and building Lego ships I had the opportunity to catch a few minutes of Black in America 2. One portion of the program featured activist Malaak Compton-Rock, the beautiful and talented wife of Chris Rock, as she took 30 students from Bushwick Brooklyn to South Africa. The entire vision behind
"Journey For Change" is to give these young people from Bushwick the opportunity to be on the other side of assistance.

The
opportunity to give... The power to be bigger than themselves.

Unfortunately, human nature spends so much energy trying to be bigger through force.
We pass judgement, jockey for position and control, criticize and blame, and manipulate until we feel
respected and relevant. As the quest to be bigger through force inevitably burns us out, we are left with doubt and fear. These devastating emotions paralyze, and we begin believing we are insignificant and incapable of making a real difference in the world. This is not true. We are simply trying to use the force of our ego rather than the power of our Creator to accomplish our goals and manifest our vision.

Rich Stearns, president of World Vision U.S. captures this beautifully in his book
"The Hole in Our Gospel". Stearns transparently takes us through the struggle to leave his position of relevance and material success as CEO of a large corporation and embrace the call of God to real power. He challenges us to open our eyes to the Whole Message of Jesus... Which is not just a private transaction of faith but a moment to moment call to serve the whole world through courage, compassion, and love.

No matter how big we may seem to the outside world, sooner or later, we figure out that if we are not living for others we are simply getting older and smaller.

The answer to being bigger than ourselves is clearly at the core of Christ's message.
His call to purpose never limits us... On the contrary, He shows us at every turn of scripture how to be bigger than ourselves.

... Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these... John 14:12

Thoughts and comments are always appreciated.
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Whose Table Is It?

I just returned from a wonderful summer adventure with family and close friends. We are blessed to have the opportunity to frequent a small island in the Grenadines called Bequia. It is a sailing destination, so during off season it is very, very quiet and unspoiled. The people there are beautiful, and upon first interaction they may seem somewhat timid and skeptical. Over the years, we have made some good friends and integrated ourselves into the community as much as a group of sporadically visiting foreigners can.

Bequia i
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s a material-poor island relative to U.S. standards, and many of our friendships have grown out of service relationships with the people we have been blessed to know, and who have been willing to assist us as we learn. We have prepared meals a number of times together with these friends, and more than once an individual or two did not readily feel they could join us at the table. It was never discussed, they simply sat off to the side. We quietly assure them, "In this home, please sit at our table."

This experience has prompted a blog entry which I have been hesitant to write.

A few months back, I was at the funeral of a friend and patient I treated who had sadly finished his fight with ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease). I sat in a grand church beside the angels who cared for him through the ASL Association and home health hospice. It was a beautiful Catholic ceremony, and I felt privileged to be among those who had the opportunity to know this humorous and courageous gentleman and his special family.

As I have mentioned before, I was raised Catholic, and I am humbled by how much the church has done and continues to do for people throughout the world. Even though I am not a practicing Catholic any longer, I am a stronger and more confident Christ follower than ever before in my life.

When it came time to celebrate communion, the priest made it very clear,
"If you are Catholic, you are welcome to receive communion."
I sat.
I was, for the first time, uncertain of what to do. I have always felt comfortable coming back to the Catholic church because of my faith in His message, and more important, His knowing the contents of my heart. But this statement was so exclusive...
So I sat. I did not receive.
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Out of respect for the "house" I was in that day, the house I grew up in, I chose not to approach their table.

It was this exclusivity that pulled me away from the Catholic faith as a teenager, and later as a young adult, Christianity in general. Fortunately, the grace of God, the love of Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit are magnetic,
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and they show themselves to me everyday and in every soul I touch.

My questions to you are these,
"Whose table is it?"
"Was not
everyone invited to His table?"

His table, like this rainbow, simply invite us to open our eyes to its beauty and soften our hearts to its mysteries.

We have a very informed and savvy next generation. If we are to steal their hearts for Christ, we must teach and model that we are called to be
His body of love and compassion on this planet, not a robot of belief systems and exclusion.

This may be a controversial topic. Your thoughts and comments are important to me.
Respectfully, Michele

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Upon This Man I Will Build My Life

First, I would like to wish all of the dads, uncles, and male mentors of any young heart a very happy day. You are the heroes for the future.

This is a personal entry in honor of the man I have been blessed to build my life with.
On September 27, 1997 we shared these vows,

Dave and Mish
"Years ago we fell in love. Today we choose to love.
A relationship grounded in trust and respect.
Embarking on a voyage not bound together,
But side by side to the same destination.
This day I will marry my best friend.
The one I laugh with, live for, love."

It was, I believe, the first thing I ever wrote. And I stumbled all over myself during the ceremony anyway. Winking

Many of you know Dave as a physician, band member, friend, and all around great guy. He is.
To those of us who know him more intimately, he is a healer, musician, soul mate, father, and man of God.

The most wonderful process we can hope for in any relationship is one of complimentary growth. This can be difficult in the shadow of the man described above. There were years when my
perfectionism and competitive attitude blocked our growth as a couple.
There has been times of insecurity, doubt, and secrets in both of our hearts.
Relationships can be painful. People are not perfect.

Fortunately, God's gentle hand led me toward my own growth and David his.
"On a voyage not bound together, but side by side to the same destination."


Hot Tub Buddies

It has been an interesting 18 months for Dave Harris, and I tear up when I think of the courage and grace he has shown, and the high road he has taken with all that has rolled his way. Dave possesses a harmony that makes him a healer in addition to a physician, a musician in addition to a band member, a soul mate in addition to a husband, and a dad in addition to a father. A harmony that is present, I believe, because he is a man of God.

"In honor of a game well fought,
Take from it only life's experiences taught.
Through pain relieved, many souls you released.
Lives deeply touched as function increased.
Movement is life, your search for truth bold.
My partner our hero, the best is yet to unfold."

"How I thank God for you..." II Timothy 1:3
Happy Father's Day. We love you, Mish and the boys.


Photo by
Damon Leo Photography
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Faces of Grace

I was overwhelmed by the open, honest, and insightful responses to the last blog entry about perfectionism. I was also blessed with a number of face to face conversations regarding this entry over the last week that helped solidify my thoughts again on why I believe perfectionism and expectations steal our joy.

My husband and I have three sons who we encourage to always do their best. Our attempt to limit perfectionism has nothing to do with the hope that our sons will
always focus and give 100% to their endeavors. Matter of fact, perfectionism is not an act at all... It is an attitude. The opposite of this perfectionistic attitude is an attitude of grace.

What is grace? We can think of grace in the context of physical grace, social grace, emotional grace under stress or pressure, and spiritual grace. These faces of grace are all quite different, but in common is the person that makes it all look beautiful, easy, even effortless. Perfectionism is the peak of the mountain we are always striving to stay atop, high, closed, rigid, and mostly barren. Grace is the valley to which all flows effortlessly toward, low, open, receptive, and full of life. Where perfectionism strives, grace is a
no striving zone. Grace is magnetic. We are all drawn to the graceful.

"Take my yoke upon you... For my yoke is easy and my burden light." Matt 11:29-30.

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Perfectionism or grace are not part of the act but rather a moment to moment response to the outcome of an action, statement, thought, or event. Perfectionism is a state of pride, fear, and expectations. In contrast, grace is a state of humility, courage, and non-attachment.

Being non-attached to a specific expectation or outcome in no way means we do not have goals. Visions and goals are critical to us staying on a focused path of action and creation. They are the
light along our journey. But if we try to steer that light we end up with a flashlight beam of limited vision instead of an overhead light of endless possibility, and worse, we run the risk of missing much of the beauty, wonder, and joy of the journey itself.

Your comments always make the entry. Thank you in advance for your thoughts. Michele

Photo from
Hubble Photo Gallery.
Suggested book
Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World



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Perfectionism - Don't Allow Expectations To Steal Your Joy

This is a topic unfortunately near and dear to many a heart... Including my own.

I was born into a loving, conservative,
catholic family who was loud and at times quite critical. In my youth, I was a nationally ranked gymnast and straight 'A' student, and currently, I function as a wife, mother, physical therapist, and friend. One of the unfortunate ideas I took from childhood is the notion that being a perfectionist is somehow a positive characteristic.

It presents as many different faces, but perfectionism can be summed up as "concrete expectations of oneself and others." This dysfunction results in damage to the mental, social, emotional, and spiritual self. Secondary to expectations, mentally we limit our capacity for creative ideas and potential vision. This limited mental framework often produces rigidity and need for control. Since we all perceive reality from a different set of existing experiences, it becomes clear why excessive perfectionism can devastate relationships.
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Perfectionism causes emotional damage because the two relationships most severely affected are between you and God, and you and yourself. Perfectionism, at the very best, puts God second, but if you happen to be a people pleaser as well as a perfectionist, God's position on your list of important people slides even further.

This brings us to spiritual damage. Perfectionism, the locked-in expectations it harbors, internal conflict it feeds, and the
shame that results when we do not live up to ourselves says to God, "You screwed up when you created me." There is simply no way around it. When it comes to our relationship with our divine Creator, excessive perfectionism is a squarely placed kick in the teeth.

I continue to struggle with this every day, so I am acutely aware and concerned that I will model and pass this dysfunction onto my children. This personal struggle has facilitated a major fascination with the
Two Great Spiritual Laws of Love, and specifically, why the first must come before the second. We are called first to abide in the source of everything, and second to love others as ourselves. Not found in these laws of love is an expectation measuring tape of any sort. There is a reason for this...
Expectations steal your joy, and I do not believe this was ever the intent of existence.

So in the midst of all the
striving, we must remember to search the motives of our heart. Who are we trying to impress anyway?

See true perfection at photos by
Clark Little
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Motive - Never Stop Asking Yourself - "Why?"

This is Part 3 of a discussion about thought, inspiration, and motivation. What is a motive? The dictionary states, "A motive is something that causes a person to act in a certain way, a goal or object of a person's actions." So, in this definition, we clearly have a "person" and why he/she "acts".

I
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ntention, in my opinion, is different from motive. An intention is something we are conscious of. We think about our intentions. If someone misunderstands our intention, we know it, and we are many times hurt by it. A motive is deeper. I am not certain we are always conscious of our true motives.

As human beings, we move and act in the physical reality of space and time. It is what we do and say that people see and hear. So do our motives really matter? Does what is hidden deep in our psyche really impact the world?

Even as a young
physical therapist, I was drawn to patients with complex diagnoses or life-changing trauma. My intention with these patients was always noble. I wanted to help. Now that I am older, and I hope a little wiser, I realize my motives were not always as noble as my intentions. I believe there were also deep motives concerned with being the best, being respected, and being admired. Just as Jesus warns in Matthew 6:1, these motives took away from the purity of the act of giving. My ego and my perfectionism were stealing much of the joy in my life.

I have been immeasurably blessed by my patients, children, family, friends, and my husband, but it was not until I consciously
connected back to the source of everything that I realized my motives were, at times, not aligned with my intentions. This is not some sort of event. It is a daily, even moment to moment, reflecting, rethinking, and reevaluating the "why" behind what I choose to do.
It is the mindfulness behind "to pray without ceasing".

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Jesus speaks to us about guarding our heart and how the unseen force of our thoughts can powerfully change the world. In Matthew 5:21-22, Jesus places great concern not only on acts of violence, but also on thoughts of anger toward another. Like two ends of the same line our action and intention cannot be separated from our deeper, maybe completely hidden, motivation.

The dinosaur that left this track was great and large and powerful. He left a lasting impression upon the earth. Mother Teresa once said, "God does not require that we do great things, only small things with great love." There are many noble acts, but the ones which originate from a
divinely inspired motive leave lasting impressions upon the heart and soul. These personal, small, loving, and penetrating impressions span erosion, knowledge, power, space, and time.
They last forever.

I personally need to be careful not to care more about how I am performing the gift, than why I am giving in the first place. We must help the next generation realize the endless strength and possibility available to them when their
motives align with the dreams of God, the love of Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Teach them to always search their heart... To never stop asking themselves "why?".
Your thoughts?

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Open Cups Receive - Thoughts on Inspiration

This is Part 2 of a discussion about thought, inspiration, and motivation. You may want to refer back to the entry on quantum thought and guarding your heart for Part 1.
At the end of that discussion, I chose to define inspiration as "being in His
creative image." Whether you believe all inspiration is divine or not, we can all agree it is creative.

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All true revolutionary thinkers first utilized inspiration, before reason, to manifest the quantum leaps in scientific discovery we enjoy today. Inspiration comes in an instant flash of light upon the unseen, whereas, reason comes from the critical analysis of what has already been seen. Undeniably, both are required for scientific re-discovery.

All is an exciting game of re-discovery.
Solomon reminds us,
"There is nothing new under the sun."
All that seems new, is our understanding of the truth at any given point in time.

One must change the question in order to re-discover something completely new.
One must search the unseen, or nothing new can manifest.
All great thinkers know and apply this truth.

We have all been blessed with those magical moments when we created a masterpiece, spoke an undeniable truth, wrote something profound, or deeply touched
another soul. Moments when we simply knew we were not working alone.

Inspiration cannot come when we are reasoning. It cannot come when we are striving. Inspiration only comes when our mind is still. Eastern faiths refer to this as mindfulness.
I like to think of this as
abiding with God. This usually comes during a run.

"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10
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The cup of inspiration must not only be open, but it
must be still in order to receive. How difficult this is, and how increasingly difficult it will be for our next generation.
My personal cup needs to be a better role model. Our lives are filled with emails and voice mails, instant messages, and instant gratification, over stimulation and
high expectation.
Life is glaring and fast and loud.

May we mentor a next generation of scientists who are not afraid of the dark, not afraid of the silence, and not afraid of their heart.
The exciting age of
quantum science and the ancient age of the spirit meet to show us,
it is in the unseen that truth is found.

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see"
Hebrews 11:1

Please share your comments. Michele

"I never came upon any of my discoveries through the process of rational thinking."
- Albert Einstein
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Happy Mother's Day - Embrace the Miracle Worker Within

I had the opportunity this morning to take my son's third grade teacher some coffee and a blueberry muffin for "teacher appreciation week". It was not enough. Mitzi is a mom and a teacher... a miracle worker. As the third grade class attempted to contain their excitement for the impending summer break, Mitzi and I sat on the floor and took a moment to share the painful reality of saying good-bye to our childbearing years. The decade that redefines so many women.

I came home and put together a couple puzzles with my youngest son who is now three and a half. Seeing him so capable, I felt compelled to dig up something I wrote when he was an infant. I somehow found it, and I would like to share it with you in honor of the amazing women, mothers, and miracle workers you are.

The Birth of a Creator

Staring into the face of my infant son, Joshua, I now fully understand why all humans, (young, old, male, female, poor, wealthy, spiritual... not), are all in some way mesmerized by the baby, any baby.
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In that angelic face you see the penetrating eyes of love, the perfect lips of peace, and the playful coos and giggles of pure joy. The mere presence of an infant fills the room with silent truth, endless light, and abundant hope.

Nowhere else on earth is experienced a more intense feeling of surrender, acceptance, and trust than is felt when one feeds an infant. Gazing down at your baby gazing up at you is the closest you will ever be, while on this planet, to your Creator. This baby, we realize, has just left Him.

God has entrusted us, as mothers, with our own little creator
made in His image to live under our roof and in our hearts. Motherhood is a gift and a sacrifice; we must try to remember the greatest gift we can give our children is to be a stepping stone to use as they reach for their dreams.

My prayer for you on this Mother's Day is that you never doubt the gravity of your purpose. I would love your thoughts. You are all
miracle workers indeed.

Love and Respect, Michele
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Guard Your Heart - A Quantum Perspective

The other day I sought the support of a wonderful friend. Before I took the next step toward a new endeavor, I wanted him to know about it, to pray, and to send positive thoughts. Here is some of the advice he offered. "The negative thoughts we naturally have as humans, in and of themselves, have no power. Only you can give power to them."

I am certain you have heard variations of this wonderful truth. The question is, what do we do that gives a thought power? A number of years ago I read a book titled "Quantum Consciousness" by Stephen Wolinsky. More recently, I have been listening to some
basic quantum mechanics as I drive between home health patients. My study of the quantum world together with growing time spent in scripture have yielded interesting parallels.

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There appears to be a wave-particle duality in all of nature including the photons of light, the atoms of matter, and the thoughts of our mind. Einstein is credited with helping us understand that light travels as a wave but interacts as a particle. Thought can be considered the same way. The thoughts that come and go, in and out of our mind, all day long can be described as waves. The ones we focus on and spend time with become the particles that make up the character of our heart.

In the scriptures of many faiths, the terms heart, thought, and mind can be virtually exchanged for one another. Since Jesus is seen in scripture reading people's hearts and thoughts as the same thing, I feel we can confidently exchange these terms as well. Furthermore, in Matt 6:19-21 Jesus speaks of the treasures we build up, not only as material wealth, but as
anything we focus on and deem most important. He concludes, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be." Another fascinating scripture is found in 2 Corinthians chapter 10. The "strongholds," Paul discusses, that are "not of this world" are the pervasive thoughts of people. We give the things we focus on power over our lives.

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his brings us to a question I often pondered as a child. In what way are we made in God's image? We, as humans, have the ability to focus on a thought and vision to such an extent we manifest it into being. We can do this from a thought. Seems to me the wave definitely became a particle. Seems to me the Two Great Commandments are very focused. Seems to me Jesus knows His quantum physics.

If we can help our next generation around the globe see themselves in this image, maybe we will stop underestimating their potential. Maybe they will stop underestimating themselves and each other. Hope in this creative image and the understanding of what
inspiration (being in this image) feels like are two of the greatest gifts we can give the hearts of the next generation and the world they will inherit.

I would love to hear your comments. God bless you, Michele
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"Hug Me!" - A different perspective on approaching God "as a child."

A number of places in scripture we are called to approach the kingdom of God "like a little child." I thought this scripture was quite clear before I had children. Now, since becoming the mother of three sons, I am not certain it is as simple as I once believed.

I assumed approaching God as a child had everything to do with complete trust,
pure surrender, and total dependence. In many ways, I still feel this passive and tender childlike approach to God is an entirely accurate interpretation of this scripture. But I also believe there is another way to look it.

We currently have a son, Joshua, who is 3 1/2. Every morning when Joshy wakes up I hear, "Mom, hug me!" coming from the second floor. With everything he has, Joshy screams, "Mom, hug me!"

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I am blessed to be able to stay home with my 3 1/2 year old on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but as all of you moms can attest this is still a busy day. Joshua is a very insistent little child, and I hear, "Mom, hug me!" at least 100 times a day.

So, maybe this is what Jesus meant when he said,
"...the kingdom of God belongs to such as these." Maybe God desires the active insistence from us, as much as, the passive trust. Maybe being an incessant
seeker of the truth is just as attractive and interesting to God as one with blind faith.
It works for Joshua.

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Easter Hope - East meets West

I was driving between patient visits on Wednesday when I saw a billboard with a saying that always makes me laugh, "My karma just ran over your dogma." It reminded me of an amazing conversation I had a number of years ago with my big sister.

My beautiful and brilliant sister is a practicing Buddhist. I only have the opportunity to see her a couple times a year, yet we have maintained a fantastic relationship grounded in mutual love and respect. At the time of our conversation, I had just begun my interest and expanding study of Eastern philosophy. I had a lot of questions for her concerning her beliefs, and I was encouraged by her openness and desire to share her thoughts. One of the main points of our discussion was regarding
karma. I wanted to wrap my head around how karma is different from what other faiths call sin. I came to the conclusion the negative aspect of karma and sin are basically the same. Both negative karma and sin are "missing the mark" regarding how we live out our lives. Both negative karma and sin are obstacles to a connection we hope to achieve.

The conversation then turned to whether or not one can live out a
perfect enough life, a life in which one dies without any leftover bad karma. Both of us, knowing in our hearts how we have missed that mark, could only answer, "I don't think so." There was a brief pause and then I added, "If we can't do it, where is the hope?" A longer pause followed.
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My personal belief is that Jesus nailed my karma to the cross. Something magical happens when we
surrender our ego to the point where we can admit, "We can't do it ourselves." But we cannot just hide behind this Truth without living the Way of love He intended. I feel this is the true meaning of surrender, and without it, karma does run over our dogma.

Respecting another's beliefs has never diminished my own. I have learned the hard way that God does not want me to strive to change a heart, He wants me to love in a way that softens it. He is always more creative and effective at that changing gig than I could ever dream to be.

May the hope of Easter shine a light on your path, ignite a spark of excitement in your eye, and place the glow of love in your heart.
God Bless you, Michele



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Good Friday and The Two Great Laws of Love

I woke up this morning thinking how, on this day, Jesus worked out the ultimate example of God's two Great Laws of Love. I ponder these two spiritual laws often, and much of the writing I have done at the children's level exemplify these truths.

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What does it mean to "love God" with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength? What does it mean to "love" the source of everything? That alone causes one to pause. I love my children. I try to provide them safety, food, comfort, guidance, security...love. Yet, God does not need these things from me. I love my husband. I try to provide him support, respect, friendship...love. Yet, God does not require these things from me either.

God is spirit. How do you love the spiritual force who created the universe? What does it mean to love God with everything we've got?

The analogy of the Vine, in chapter 15 of John's gospel, is the best way I have found to wrap my head around how to "love" God. We are called to abide in Him. To abide is to remain, linger, reside, spend time with...hang out. We obviously cannot do this in the physical sense with God as we do with our friends over a glass of wine here on earth, so we must do it mentally. We must be still. As many of you moms will agree, this is virtually impossible in the physical sense. My challenge and personal desire has always been to be still and abiding in my thoughts. The profound phrase to
"pray without ceasing" gives meaning to this hope.

Here, in our
thoughts, we are in charge. Here we have the freewill of choice. Here no one else can enter. Here we can always aspire to be still and abide. Here is the greatest commandment and the greatest challenge of my life.
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Jesus is seen quietly abiding with God frequently, and through His creativity, compassion, wisdom, and love displayed on earth it becomes clear that His connection with God is constant. Jesus, through His connection with the Creator of everything, knew Himself fully. By knowing ourselves in this divine way it is possible to "love others as ourselves."

The mystery of God's second Great Law of Love culminates on Good Friday in the cosmic surrender for an other...all others.

Happy Easter.
God Bless you, Michele
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