PeerSpirit Blog

Apologies to the World

To those living outside the borders of the United States, the majority of Americans who voted on Nov. 8 send apologies. Our election results sent the message that we don’t care about you. I and millions and millions of Americans care about you. Please remember that: 231,556,622 registered voters pre-election day 26% voted for Clinton—she won the popular vote 25.9% voted for Trump—he won the electoral college 2.6% voted for "other" 45.4% (105,195,013 registered voters) ...
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Let Us Stand Together

NBC News, Oct. 17, 2016 “The largest gathering of indigenous nations in modern American history has set up camp on land belonging to the Army Corps of Engineers at the confluence of the Cannonball and Missouri rivers in North Dakota. Tents and teepees, now home to whole families, stretch the plain.  They have come by the hundreds to protest construction of the 1,172-mile Dakota Access oil pipeline, which would run within a half-mile of the ...
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Seventy-the bridge to somewhere

It’s heartwarming to be welcomed home; to have people notice that Ann and I are more in residence in our community than we were a year ago. However, when well-meaning people inquire, “does this mean you’re retired?” something weird happens inside me that I have been sorting for months. It may be my own outdated stereotypes of the word that are getting stirred up, but my unabridged Random House Dictionary of the English Language informs ...
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Powerful Lessons from the Forest

The North Cascade mountains of Washington state are a testament to the juxtaposition of life and death. They normalize the presence of death, the surprise of death, and the essential nature of death. Like many people who have lost a loved one “before their time”, I must constantly work to make peace with my son’s death at age 33. For me that takes the form of an inner convincing that Brian might not have lived ...
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Shredding & Honoring

This blog entry is dedicated to our magnificent office manager and colleague, Debbie Dix, who has been the third peer spirit in our office for 16 years, fully occupying her leadership chair.  Ann Linnea and I arrived on Whidbey Island in March 1994, with two book manuscripts in progress, her two children, my first corgi, a small amount of savings and child support, and the idea that this circle process we were experimenting with was ...
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Being a Responsible Traveler

Mid-August and I’m back home on Whidbey Island bringing in garden bounty and kayaking in local waters after a 10-day vacation on Kaua’i with family—my partner, my daughter Sally, her partner Joe, our grandchildren, and also my sister Margaret and her family. We were a party of nine, ages ranging from 5 to 70. When she was sixteen, I took Sally to Hawai’i in a special mother/daughter trip. She’s thirty-three now and has been wanting ...
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Half-mast in sunlight

Friday afternoon in my little village by the sea. Second Street is closed for a summer market: flowers, vegetables, crafts, bread, the stalls are lined up and people stroll through. Dogs on leash are everywhere. Two friends have a new puppy they are carrying in arms. Sunshine and a refreshing breeze off the water. My father and I are sitting at a patio table in front of the Commons coffee shop chatting about his upcoming ...
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The Courage of a Quester

Carrying a tent, tarp, sleeping bag, and clothing back from a solo site one mile from base camp, a lone quester returns from 48 hours of living alone. Eleven other questers will also soon be returning from their solo spots around this valley in eastern Washington in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. In the tradition of vision quests, these people went seeking answers to life’s questions by spending time alone in nature without electronics, food, or ...
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The Thread You Follow

I recently attended the 3rd National Journal Writing Conference— representing a 25-year cycle in my life. Kay Adams, a dynastic/prolific author of journal writing books, founder of Therapeutic Writing Institute, Center for Journal Therapy, and several other entities devoted to writing practice, has three times called together a tribe of journal writers. In 1991, she and I, Kay Leigh Hagan, and Dan Wakefield were faculty at the first conference just as Life’s Companion was coming ...
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Can you see anything positive about this?

This is the most common question I am being asked once people learn I attended a Sea Level Rise conference in Seattle sponsored by the Tulalip Tribe, the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group, NOAA, EPA, USGS, and several other Puget Sound agencies. It is an impressive list of sponsors. One hundred fifty people gathered at the Mountaineers Building on the shore of Lake Washington on April 26 and 27, 2016. I served as scribe ...
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My life is a full-time job

I emerge from two weeks of “Grandma Camp” and family time, and realize that it’s April and I’m about to turn 70 years old! The world is greening around me— asparagus is up, tulips are peaking, and our flowering crab apple tree is having a glorious bloom after soaking winter rains. I am profoundly thankful to be surrounded by this beauty; and I know it is impermanent, and I know I am impermanent. Turning 70 ...
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Play Makes Everything Work Better

Our annual two-week Grandma Camp just ended. We had a marvelous time working and playing together with our 11-year-old and 5-year-old grandchildren. And one of life’s powerful lessons that I relearned yet again is that everything is more fun, efficient, and productive if play is involved. Beach outings to walk the dog have to involve getting wet even when the water temperature is 50 degrees F. and the air is barely 5 degrees higher than ...
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Writing Time

Tuesday and Thursday mornings—it says in my electronic calendar: Christina writes… an injunction that spins out through the year and into perpetuity—purposely. This is my commitment for the foreseeable future: save time to write, and use it to write! Yeah. Right. A review of the past weeks: Tuesday: PeerSpirit Annual Meeting to set our course for the year. Thursday: yay—WRITING. Tuesday: Fly to Austin, TX with Ann to present a day of health care consulting ...
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Pilgrimage Back to Denver

Recently I was asked to give opening remarks at a pediatric care conference named in honor of my son. My preparation included both a careful crafting of remarks and a deep recognition of the significance of returning to Brian’s home city of Denver. There was a ritual for getting there. First, call close family and friends. All of us love Brian. We draw strength, meaning, and understanding from one another’s stories, words, and actions. We ...
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Stardust, Black Holes, & Fog

Our mother always loved the open road. In the 1950s with three, then four, small children and not much money, she would pack us in the car and head west from Indiana or Minnesota to various family homes scattered throughout California, Oregon, Washington, and Montana. Two-lane blacktop in the era before Interstate highways and no air conditioning. Our father would stay and work, taking the bus to Montana to meet us at his parents’ homestead ...
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Standing in Stardust

Until last Monday, my mother was living in Nanaimo, BC in a nice apartment in an independent senior housing community. She had moved there in May 2013 from her townhouse in Ladysmith and from her church in Chemainus… both small towns about 35 kilometers south on Vancouver Island. Though her impetus was to “take in more city culture,” the past three years have been a spiral into diminishing capacities: increasing short-term memory loss, decreasing mobility, ...
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Candlemas

February 2 is halfway between the December solstice and the March equinox. It is a time in the northern hemisphere when day length has jumped from 8 hours from sunrise to sunset to 9 ¾ hours. The light is returning and the plants are showing it here in western Washington. The garlic is up. Tulips are peaking through the soil. Heather is starting to bloom. And it is time to prune the raspberry canes! In ...
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Everything Requires Tending

Everything requires tending  When I look out the picture window with my morning cup of tea, one of my great enjoyments is watching the birds come in for their morning seeds or suet. Rain or shine, frost or fog, they eagerly arrive from their mysterious nightly roosts. I marvel at the urgency of their feeding and feel happy that I can contribute to their well-being. However, a couple of weeks ago an article in our ...
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Balance

The month between American Thanksgiving and the year-end sacred holidays is full, full, full. Pageants, concerts, holiday parties, shopping specials, family gatherings. There is no end of opportunities to keep externally engaged. It is a time to reweave communities and families. It is a time of a lot of fun and good-heartedness. And it is also an important time for quiet tending to one’s life. Taking my cue from nature in the northern hemisphere, I ...
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Tending Our Trees

Over the weekend the Pacific Northwest mountain snows began, heavy lowland rains returned, and the winds howled through the trees with winter strength. For the first time in years, the wind did not make me nervous. Huge, wonderful conifer trees that not infrequently shed large branches in the first winds of the season back our house. This shedding is a natural occurrence: a way that trees prune themselves. We are accustomed to driving down the ...
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