Am I in the “lazy days of summer?” Does somehow my brain still, after all of these years, associate summer as time off? I find myself having less energy and motivation. Thankfully, I am getting ready to be infused with amazing energy!

Last year I attended an international woman’s conference with 3,000 other women. I came home inspired and energized by the commitment to excellence. I have never been in the presence of so many (mostly) women who are all committed to supporting each other to fulfill not only their professional goals, but to live a life of quality and meaning.

I am preparing to leave to attend the 2010 eWomenNetwork conference again in Dallas next week. For the first time, I will hear Zig Ziglar! I will again hear Lisa Nichols, who had all of us on our feet with cheers and tears last year. I am excited to be on a panel myself, sharing my writing/ publishing process for Conscious Acts of Grace. I am grateful for the commitment of so many folks for making this opportunity possible. I am counting on coming home “on fire.”

What infuses you? How can you bring those opportunities into your world?

(For more information on this year’s conference, see

Today is Mom’s birthday. Yesterday was Father’s Day. The tradition my entire adult life was to spend the weekend that includes these two events with my parents. This is the first year, in my 61 years on earth, that neither is physically here for our time together.

I miss them.

Today I am tired. I don’t want to think about creating a brochure for an upcoming event. I don’t want to decide on a date for a speaking engagement and all of the arrangements around that. I ask myself, “Why am I doing this? My life could be so much easier!”

And then I think of my parents. It was their end of life struggles that brought this mission into my lap. If I can be a voice for greater peace for others, what a perfect legacy they are leaving. I think I will take a break for a cup of tea, enjoy the bird sounds, and get back to what they, indirectly, called me to do.

Happy birthday, Mom!

Last Sunday I had the wonderful opportunity to share Conscious Acts of Grace and Celebration Circles with over 200 people. I was thrilled when, within an hour, two women told me they had already started planning a Celebration Circle for a loved one.

I later learned, though, that one women was in tears afterwards. She told a friend of mine that she was upset because of mistakes she had made with her parents. She was feeling guilt and remorse.

The LAST thing I want to do as I spread this message is to say anything that encourages guilt! I did things very differently with my mom than I did with my dad. It was during Dad’s dying process that I realized how much I did not know. Even though I had worked in mental health for three decades, I was ill equipped to know what to do to best support him, my mom, and myself emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

I did not know that I did not know. His process moved me to the place of knowing I did not know. This sent me on a quest of learning.

Someone asked me once why she should attend my workshop when she didn’t have anyone in her world who was in the dying process. My response was I do not want to wait until the roof is falling on my head before I learn how to use a hammer. I want to pick it out, buy it, and practice with it well before I am in a crisis situation and need to know how to use it. The last thing we need to be trying to do when we are in a crisis with a loved one is to try to figure out how to maneuver the physical, financial, and life changes all while in a heightened emotional state!

Always remember, you did the best you could with what you knew at the time. And, if you are reading this it is likely that there are things that you know you don’t know. I invite you to get the tools now. Mom lived six more years. During that time I learned, studied, shared, and grew tremendously in my understanding of how to be with her decline and then her death. This left me with a sense of no regrets and for that I am very grateful.

This is an entry that was written last fall, before my blog was active. As Mother’s Day approaches and this is the first year she is not with me I share it in her memory.

My mother and I know struggle. We have never really understood one another. I am a dreamer. She is pragmatic. I question everything. She says, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” I look at the stars and think about how we, as humans, are just small specks in the vastness of the universe. She says, “Don’t think about such things.”

When I was in my thirties, my mom resigned herself that she had birthed a child who “marched to a different drummer.” I continued to confuse her and, I imagine, many times worry her. We spent time with each other, always nice and polite, but rarely experiencing moments of heart – to- heart connection.

Last week, for the first time since childhood, I woke up missing my mom. She is now approaching 93, with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. Needing care 24/7 has brought painful decisions for my brother and me. How can we be sure she is safe, AND experience a quality of life? How can we help her be with the grief of losing her husband of 66 years and of losing her own independence and freedom? How can we balance her desire for personal control with safety? How do we maneuver through the federal and state guidelines so that she can receive necessary care?

All of these questions and all of these challenges are balanced with a joyful and brand new relationship. For the first time in my life, I am experiencing sweetness with my mom. Never a demonstrative woman, she now greets me with a loving embrace, truly joyful to see me. The last two days, with emerging needs on her part, I have climbed in bed with her and lay there, stroking her face. As she nestled herself into my arms yesterday, I felt her vulnerability and her sigh of comfort as she finally let herself move into much needed rest.

Yes, this has been a time of great emotional, mental, physical, and financial challenge. And, I am deeply grateful.  My mother and I now know peace and deep, pure love.

How easy it is to become invisible when we are elderly and no longer “useful.” Visiting mom this week, I saw one of the residents looking distressed and mumbling.  It would have been so easy to stay focused on my mom’s visit so I could then get back to work. My gut said to stop and walk across the room to listen.

When I got closer, I heard, ”If you needed help, I would help you.” The desperation, the aloneness, the hopelessness of her words stung. I asked her what she needed. She said she was freezing in the air conditioning and needed a sweater. I went over to the aide and advised him that she needed  assistance.

 He went to her room, got her a warm robe, and when I looked next she was walking to the couch in new comfort. Once more I am reminded: keep my eyes open, keep my ears open, pay attention, and act! Such simple acts, so easy to do and what an impact for someone feeling so alone!

It is easy to ignore an elderly person who is moving oddly, making strange sounds, and does not communicate. There is a white-haired woman where my mom lives who walks laboriously with a shuffle, has her left arm bent and extended awkwardly, and makes the repetitious sound of “Deedeedeedee.” I have never seen her interact with any other resident or with staff.

One day we happened to be at the same spot at the same time. I stopped in front of her. I looked at her directly in her eyes. She stopped. Her head moved up and she stared directly into my eyes. I saw awareness.  I saw life!