Posts Tagged With: passion

20 Years Without Him …

Three older sisters welcomed him into the world August 12, 1934. They had great dreams for him, as all doting sisters do for their baby brothers. His life would come dangerously close to ending when, on October 18, 1935, during a 6.2 magnitude earthquake in Helena, Montana, a chunk of the wall fell into the crib where he had been lying just moments before. (Years later, his then-wife would miss the 7.4 magnitude Hebgen Lake Earthquake on August 17, 1959, as she had been camping there the previous night.)

He grew up in rough and tumble Butte, graduated from Boys’ Central in 1952, and made his way to Carroll College where he studied to be a teacher. One of his best pals was Maurice Mulcahy, a police officer in his adult life, and the pair could find trouble at every turn. When they were just wee lads, during World War II, between 19940 and 1942, Wings cigarettes were being sold in the US. Each pack contained a trading card with the photo and information for US fighter planes of the day.  The boys, being fairly industrious, were ambling down Park Street when they came upon a distributor truck making deliveries to the grocers on the street. They found the truck open and inside, they discovered a case of Wing cigarettes. They were crazy about collecting the cards and while they were not interested in the cigarettes, they could not pass up the temptation.They took the case and stashed it in their cave, a hole in the ground above their homes in Dublin Gulch at North Wyoming Street. A smidgen of guilt riddled them, though, so they went to St Mary Church to confess their sins. During their confession, the good Father told them, “It is a sin to steal, but it is also a sin to waste.” After performing their penance, the lads discussed their dilemma and arrived at the only logical conclusion for eight year old boys at the time. They went to the cave, opened the case, and started smoking the cigs! (According to my calculations, at twenty-four cigs per pack, ten packs per carton, and ten cartons per case, that’s 2,400 cigarettes.) While Moe admitted that it took some time, they managed to smoke every cigarette. Neither was a smoker before that incident. Both became smokers thereafter. And no. It did not occur to either of them that the priest would have happily collected the cigarettes FROM them and smoked them himself!

At Carroll College, he drank Hires Orange pop with rum. He was a fun-loving guy who, upon meeting his soon-to-be wife, met his match. She was quiet, studying to be a nurse, and not the least bit impressed with the Butte boy and his ways. No one can really say what brought them together. And thankfully, they got together. They were married in Butte on December 27, 1958 after a most romantic (insert sarcasm here) proposal. The proposal? In a letter to her in October that year, he offered that he would be home for a few days over Christmas from the Army and there was probably time to get married if she wanted to do that. And so… They did.

As a teacher, he served in Wisdom, Ramsay, and Butte. His career was really based at Butte High where he was the typing, general business, and driver’s ed teacher. While not a coach, he was the coaches’ coach. They turned to him to keep stats, score books, the clock, or anything else that was needed. No one was too enamored of the pole vault in those days, so he judged the pole vault. The teams always needed extra chaperones to travel, especially to Kalispell and Libby, so he chaperoned. When he kept the score book, he always edited the information, keeping it colorful, literally. He used purple and green felt tip pens only ~ and usually added some witticism to the details of the game, whether the location, the date, or some other mundane piece of information. He was always behind the scenes, taking care of whatever was necessary to ensure that things ran smoothly. On Friday during Lent, he boarded the bus and asked all the team to bow their heads for a blessing. He then delivered special dispensation to the Catholics on the team from not eating meat on Fridays during Lent, a blessing endorsed by then pastor Father Kevin O’Neill.

He had a rather eclectic sense of humor. He allowed Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In and Monty Python’s Flying Circus. He loved Hee Haw. He never allowed Three’s Company or One Day at a Time. He reveled in the non-sequitur and each member of the family had a line that would set off the stream of all the other lines. His favorite joke at the dinner table, especially when there was new company, was: How many tacos does it take to shingle the roof of a doghouse? It depends on whether you walk to work or take your lunch.

He and his loving wife would raise nine children, five girls and four boys. They celebrated their 36th wedding anniversary in 1994, not knowing it would be their last. Just two days after the dinner celebration at the Uptown Café, he had a stroke. And two days later, after all those children were able to say goodbye and release him, he died on December 31, 1994 at the tender age of 60. The youngest child was 13. The first three grandchildren were under the age of four. And his wife was left in shock. Her partner, confidante, and best friend was gone.

Mom and Dad 2014

Most days, I talk with him. Some days, I go to the cemetery where he was placed in the frozen ground in his deep green shining casket. He was a simple, dedicated, industrious man with a memory for details, a sense of humor that few understood at first, and a reluctant Christmas figure, helping Santa out with visits to many homes and parties in town during the last third of his life.

And today, twenty years later, I can see his mark on each of us. We have his sense of humor. We aspire to his commitment to family and community. And we love, maybe not as he loved (without saying much), but with the same depth of care and concern.

It is a blessing to be his daughter. It is a curse to be without him. Love you madly, dad. How many tacos does it take ….

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After 48 years of abject fear, I finally learned to SWIM!!!

When I was six years old, I was spilled into the deep end of the Y pool intentionally during swim lessons. They wanted me to catch up to the other kids and tread water. It did not work. I had to be pulled from the water by my younger brother. As a teenager, I was taking a tippee test at Camp Tahepia on Georgetown Lake and was pulled from the water by our lifeguard. I was going down again.

Since then, I have not been in the water any higher than my chest and never when I could not touch the bottom of the pool or lake. I have always been afraid of the water.

Until today …



On Monday morning, I got into this water at the Grand Velas Resort in Puerto Vallarta and spent an hour learning to swim. I discovered that I was struggling, even when the water was able to hold me. I found that I stopped breathing which made me sink faster … which did not help me to swim. I learned how to stand without scrambling for the bottom of the pool. I floated on my back, breathing, eyes open, enjoying the sun’s rays and the last glimpses of the moon. And I swam. For the first time in my life, I swam. On Wednesday, I returned for a further lesson. I am thrilled to report that I swam! On my back! On my front! Alone! And I have played in the water a number of times since… and lived to tell of it.

What I discovered is that my six year old self’s brain patterns were very successful in helping me avoid shock and loss … when I was six. And I found that I could alter those brain patterns. By shifting my breathing and my actions, my brain followed suit.

I am so thankful formy friend Christine Arbor for her patience and compassion as I worked through all of it. It is so shocking to me that after all this time, I could overcome my fear. Thanks, my friend, for opening up 70% of the planet to me.

What fear shall I conquer next?

Categories: Health and Wellness, Landmark Worldwide, Risk, Transformation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The World is Your Stage ~ Results from a Workshop


Mary Poppin’s London


This photo was taken from the bridge near my hotel in London, the setting the last week of September for The World is Your Stage Workshop. Even though I knew from others who had attended before me that it would be an amazing weekend, I was unprepared for the depth, breadth, and reach of the transformation available.

To describe the contents of the course would have little effect on your view of the workshop. What I want to share with you is the daily impact the course has had on me, the difference this has made in the lives of those around me, and the opportunities that have unfolded from my having participated.

My wardrobe is completely new. I’ve purchased new clothes that are a match for my commitments. Each day, I dress for every scene, each act, according to the character in that setting. Instead of avoiding choosing an outfit for the day, I look forward to creating. I have organized what I have so that I can make use of accessories and shoes that I had forgotten I owned, those items having been buried in the bottom of the closet. As a result, people have not recognized me at galas, been surprised by me at events, and commented that I must have lost weight. Yep. I’ve done that too.

A major accomplishment is the completion of a case that had been stagnant for nearly three years. As counsel for the past two years, I was committed to getting it done before the holidays. Through September, nothing from mediation to motions to judge’s threats resulted in any forward motion in the matter. After returning from London, I took on being awe-struck, vital and vulnerable and had conversations with my client, the other attorney, and the court about how the case could be resolved. The court finalized the matter ten days ago and today, the final papers were completed. This was not a foreseeable future. The families involved in the case are clearly more at ease, looking forward to the holidays rather than dreading them for another year.

With regard to my space (from the car to the office to the home to the closets and drawers in the home) I took on creating a stage worth playing. In the past seven weeks, I have cleared the filing piles at home and office, listed items for sale and given other items away, organized books, movies, and music. The organizing of music was a miracle in and of itself as I had given up that I would ever find some 500 CDs that I had stored in a box in 2008, separate from their jewel boxes. Just yesterday, I found the box and all the CDs. As I write, all the media is sorted, organized, and in place. I can now find what I am looking for and last night, I slept peacefully, no attention on the missing discs.

During the course, I saw how I walked through the display of my understudy. It was a true blessing to be able to see what others had seen; I have long been told that I walk like my dad did, and I did not know what that meant. What I saw was a bit disturbing, as I saw someone who came at others full force, ready to pounce. Since the weekend, I have been more aware of how I carry myself, what I intend by my approach to a room or a space, and who the others in that space are. I have become softer, more approachable, and embodied my intentions of being vulnerable and available. Today, I had a conversations with a client, court attorney, and opposing counsel in a somewhat contentious situation. Previously, the opposing counsel and I had a conflict between us which required a mediator to resolve. Today, I was greeted with a calm, patient, and open person willing to work through things to their completion. I was amazed ~ and inspired by what could happen in many domains of life.

An initiative I took on after returning from the workshop was to do something every day that scares me. I have had a fitting for bras, taken on a cleanse/detox, been in communication with others that I had been avoiding, fulfilled my commitment to each and every client, worn a two-piece swimsuit, made unreasonable requests for support, and invited criticism from my biggest critics ~ all inside a commitment to be available, awe-struck, and of service.

Clearly, the stages where I get to play, the characters I have the privilege of becoming, and the shifting and transforming my life is a process. The scripts are new. The set is novel. And this life? Incredible!

The character I am playing is now living and being awe-struck, available, vulnerable, vivid, and vital. This was, by far, one of the very best weekends of my life.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg …


Categories: Actor's Workshop, Landmark Worldwide, Transformation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Crying from Every Pore

The thing that is most important to me in life is that all people have the access and opportunity to live their lives out loud, fully expressing what matters to them and being the difference they are committed to being.Wide Open Spaces

It’s Saturday night, and I just climbed from an Epsom salt bath where I was sipping a hot cup of tea and reading “Clean Gut,” a book about how our bodies’ roots lie in our guts ~ the place we need to repair first if we want to achieve the ultimate health.

I had just started reading a passage in the book about the writer’s dilemma of his future and how he was confused about what he wanted to be and what he had prepared himself to be. At that moment, Bonnie Raitt and John Prine were singing “Angel from Montgomery” on American Roots, a PBS radio program. And I started to cry.

I am in the middle of a detox program designed to jump start my metabolism and give me an edge on fighting the cold and flu season which usually manages to sideline me from life every winter. One of the things my coach has warned me is that people on this program may become emotional. I scoffed at the suggestion, certain that my training, work on issues through various avenues, and my faith, humor, and resilient roots had allowed me to avoid those pesky emotional releases ~ hadn’t I released enough already?

Apparently not. When I read of the writer’s struggle, I was reminded of my passion and my commitment ~ to become a Landmark Forum Leader. I took on this commitment before I completed my own Forum in 1997. Within six weeks of that day, I had closed my law practice, packed my belongings in storage, and moved to Tulsa with only what I could carry in my car to begin the leadership training process to fulfill on my commitment.

Over the next year, I completed the initial programs, the leadership training, and became a staff member for Landmark. I spent nearly six years on staff in the Dallas Center where I led any and every program I could, worked in every position, succeeded and failed in varying degrees, and continued the path to my dream of leading the Forum.

When I got sick in 2004 (see my earlier post about this), my commitment, passion, and dream came to a crashing end. I was unable to function at all for so long that I wondered if I would ever be able to distinguish the fundamentals of transformation that I had been at work mastering.

And tonight, I cried about that loss. It was as if all the pores of my skin were crying for the lost future, the failed effort, the abandoned dream. To my surprise, that dream was still living in my cells. Looking through the past couple of years, I could see all the attempts to compensate for what I could not be ~ trying to practice law, becoming a laughter yoga teacher, writing a book, taking and selling photographs ~ all done in an effort to somehow fulfill on my commitment to be a difference maker. And even while some of those efforts have proven to be challenging, rewarding, and fun, they have not been satisfying and fulfilling for long.

I am committed that the release of the toxins from my cells tonight through the crying, the mourning for what might have been through acknowledging it, and the alignment of my spirit with my life as it now presents itself will lead to the shedding of more than just weight. (I have lost 10 pounds in 10 days on the detox!)

This one precious, crazy, inimitable life will be one that makes a difference ~ no matter where or how or what that might look like. And now, I have wide open space to create it


Categories: Health and Wellness, Transformation, Uncategorized | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Five years later, I celebrate!

Tomorrow marks five years since I walked out of the doors of a ‘health center’ in south Kansas City, Missouri for the last time. I arrived, hopeful and energetic (well, as energetic as I could be after nearly four years of being mysteriously ill). During my pre-treatment appointments, I was promised that I would be a patient for three to four months, leaving me healthy and well and ready for a return to my life as I had lived it before I became ill. The treatment was rigorous, with twice daily IV infusions of antibiotics and other medications and vitamin shots. In addition to the daily infusions, there were some 35 different prescriptions of varying doses and schedules. The ten alarms on my then flip phone were set for times to take doses of these ‘cures’ for what ailed me.

For nearly eleven months, from August 18, 2008 through July 1, 2009, I followed the strict protocols and did as I was told. For the next ten months, I continued to follow the protocols prescribed for my continuing treatment once I returned home to Montana. For my efforts, I lost nearly half of my body weight, much of my hair, and all of my finger and toe nails. And I was not better. According to my family and friends (who have only recently begun to tell me their thoughts about that time), I was much worse.

People who saw me in the summer and fall of 2009 have since told me that they expected to see me at my funeral. I was told on a number of occasions to get my affairs in order as there was nothing more that could be done for me. I spent all of my savings, retirement accounts, and the monies donated by people ~ some I knew and many I did not ~ to maintain my treatments. Through April 2010, I continued to take those additional pills ~ 30+ prescriptions and other supplements. I injected my thighs twice daily with heparin. I drank more water than I ever thought possible, assured that I was washing the diseases from my body. I so wanted to believe that all of this would work to restore me to my former self.

Thankfully, and miraculously, my high school playmate, Mary Lyn Hammer (who had been alerted to my story and had visited me on a few occasions during 2009 and 2010) was alerted to my situation and had fought similar illnesses for years before I did. She intervened, and according to my new health care providers, she did so just in time. She paid for my flight to be with her; she covered the testing and the costs of care. Through her meticulous research and efforts, she had worked with health care providers in Phoenix to develop a protocol that could help. She was an angel on the earth, ensuring that every form of healing from medication and shots to energy and spiritual healing were available to me. Within four months of my three-week visit to be with her, I had reduced my prescriptions from more than thirty daily to four. I was using natural alternatives ~ food, light exercise, meditation, laughter, and homeopathic supplements ~ to build a new body.

Eighteen months later, in November 2011, I returned to Phoenix to see the naturopath who was caring for me. In that time, I had all but eliminated my need for daily migraine medicine, started working with a trainer to get my muscles back in shape, and was thinking straight for the first time in more than eight years. I was given a clean bill of health and the go-ahead to return to living life ~ an upstat from surviving it.

Since November 2011, my life has move at warp speed in the direction I am committed. Given a second chance at living, I am grateful for each moment I spend. Some moments may seem dismal, and when viewed through the lens of my 40’s, they are a joy. I no longer need a cane to walk. I have the strength to do whatever I want. My energy and vitality allow me to make trips and spend time with people. My hair is back (though a tad less red than I recall it being) and my nails are strong. I exercise regularly, walk almost five miles daily, and love every challenge and opportunity on my path. Some days, I have to pinch myself to be reminded of how far I have come.

None of this would have been possible without several things working together. The synergy of the people in my life and the time they spent with me is moving and inspiring ~ leaving me in tears at the blessing you are and have been to and for me. You listened whilst I rambled. You donated time, money, and your efforts. You reassured me when all I could see was despair. You encouraged and challenged me to face my limitations, real and self-imposed. YOU are my hero. And you have given me back my life. And for that, there are no words.

My commitment to you is that I will live a life worthy of your efforts. My promise is that people will have the strength, facility, and capacity to deal with whatever life throws at them.  

Happy fifth anniversary of my ‘release.’ I celebrate because of you!


Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 13 Comments

Playing Well With Others

I’ve learned two very important lessons during my life. This year, their importance has become more profound. Learning the lessons required unlearning some lessons from childhood. Don’t get me wrong. The childhood lessons were great and gave me access to an amazing life. And those lessons could only take me so far.

The first lesson I am learning (because I have to learn it newly, every time) is to make requests for what I want and what will forward my commitments ~ rather than making requests for what I think I deserve. The childhood lesson centered on two aspects ~ that I needed to earn what I got. That may have meant that I didn’t get to play if I didn’t go to school ~ or that I needed to work hard for rewards and recognition and that life would not hand anything to me. Through practice, I learned to work hard. I learned to do what was right. I learned that life was going to give me what I earned and not a bit more. It could be that I also learned to not believe in miracles; after all, how do you earn a miracle?

The second lesson I am learning is that I cannot do it alone. What ‘it’ is doesn’t matter. There are very few things in life that cannot be accomplished with only my effort. In the process of transitioning my career into something that inspires and moves me, I have been reaching out and building teams ~ getting people on the bandwagon, so to speak. As the oldest in my family, I learned to do for myself, and to then take care of others. While that has served me well in establishing my usefulness and ‘worthiness’, if you will, it has done little to support me in building partnerships ~ or even playing well with others. So, at my ripe old age, I am learning to play well with others. Projects are becoming team driven; I can contribute what I do best and allow for others to do the same. There really are things I don’t know how to do. There are even things I don’t enjoy doing that other people actually LOVE to do. By stepping out of the way, I am building teams for what matters ~ to US.

That is the kind of world filled with possibility. That is the kind of world worth creating. That is the kind of world where I love playing with others. Let’s do it well together!Image

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