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Well, 2009 is winding down as one for the books.

Found love; lost work.

Love has saved me; work was eventually going to kill me.

Due to being out of work, it looks like we might lose some material possessions that have been good to us, but which have been also been causing great emotional stress for years.

The task of paying a $3000-4000 mortgage for seven years has been akin to the plight of Sisyphus of Greek Mythology.

SisyphusEncyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). 1911.

It takes me back to a night following a failed labor induction, nearly twenty years ago.

Penniless, alone, and completely disabled, I had no idea how I would be able to provide a decent  life for the greatest gift the Lord has ever given me, my daughter.

A friend offered me a place to stay, away from my family of origin, who were collectively freaking out and thus impairing  calm decision-making.

Gentleman that he was, my friend rented a video (remember those), “Gandhi”, turned on the VCR (remember those)  and left me to my meditations for the night.

Watching the film about one of the greatest men to ever live, I remembered that I did not need anything but Shraddha (Faith) and Dharma (Righteousness) and that God and Guru had led me out of hopeless situations on more than one occasion.

I realized I had been seduced by Darkness into believing that my welfare and that of my unborn daughter were dependent upon external forces, rather than God’s sweet Mercy.

So, I surrendered to His Lotus Feet and let go of my shame and fear.

My daughter was born shortly after this, after yet another labor induction, and contrary to the warnings of the health care providers, who predicted a low birth weight baby, she was born at exactly six pounds and was a perfect 10 on the Apgar scale.

I named her Gabrielle (The one who was sent) Ahimsa (Perfect non-violence) to Honor God, Who had sent her and my Guru, Who is also the Guru of PM Nehru, the right hand of Mahatma Gandhi.

In short order, God led me to a home by the Delaware River and into my education in nursing, which fed, clothed, and housed us for the next 19 years.

It is only now that He is stripping away the dross and leading us to a more serene lifestyle; a home by the sea for Cordelia (formerly Gabrielle Ahimsa) and me.

And across the ocean to a man that shares and understands  my spiritual lifestyle.

He is an Australian, no less (my favorite country; after the US and India), who appeared unbidden, at a time when I had begun to believe, once again, that life was just a sad and cruel joke.

He is also “sent”,  just as my daughter was sent, to keep me faithful to Dharma and Dana (Compassionate giving) in the face of Darkness.

The Pacific Academy of the Healing Arts, created to share the knowledge that was given to me as a Psychiatric and Addictions Nurse Practitioner, is once again flourishing, thanks to the help of  Beth and Jim Hood and my friend in need, Wendy Martin.

Every week, I see the intelligent and caring faces of the counseling students, eager to help their fellows move from the torment of addictions and mental illnesses into full and meaningful lives, and I know that there is purpose behind all suffering.

So, in spite of some serious adversity, this is a year to be grateful for love; for life; for the chance to be of service.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.


    Among the plethera of things I am thankful for , sobriety would have to be the first. Without learning how to be clean and sober first there would be no lessons of gratitude let alone knowing the meaning of the word. I am grateful for knowing and being able to acknowledge a higher power, for getting a second chance, for being a productive responsible member of my community, for being fully present for myself my children and others in need, for being able to share the message and plant the seed. I am thankful for the peolpe I have met along my path that have given me a lesson in humility and compassion, for people that have have and still do commit random acts of kindness, for selfless people that give without expecting anything in return, for what I have learned and will give back in many different ways,
    I am grateful to have learned from the best, thank you Ms. Lizabeth

  2. Stacy Dela Cruz says:

    I’m gratefull for having the opportunity to be attending.Your class and how wonderful it is to have such a person as yourself to be my instructor.It has been a trying time for myself this year and hopefully it will be my time to shine again in the REAL WORLD.I haven’t had the opportunity to thank you personally,but I am now.
    I hope for the best for you and how grateful I am for having this chance to start a new career,at which I will do my best at,due t your teachings.
    Again thank-you and hope you find whatever you’re looking for.
    Aloha Your Student,
    Stacy Dela Cruz

  3. michelle richter says:

    I am grateful to my father whom has blesed me with a healthy family, a caring and loving daughter, and the chance to be of service to those in need. I am grateful to have my needs met. I am grateful for the many life lessons I’ve experienced that have molded me into the person I am today. I am grateful for being given the strength to end a toxic marriage. I am grateful for being loved unconditionally. It is my hope that I may continue to be blessed with the strength to be humble in order to serve others , help and encourage them to find their inner strengths and find comfort in love rather than material things.

    Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

  4. Andy Maycen says:

    2009 has been a whirlwind of a year for me…I closed down a business, left my home and friends of 30 years to begin a new journey on the Big Island of Hawaii. I am so grateful to be in such a beautiful place. When I left the mainland I knew I wanted to work in the addictions field but didn’t know how to go about it…I felt completely disconnected with the recovery community much less did not know any professionals working in the field. So in August I happened to pick up the newspaper and there it was….we can change the world! With that sort of inspiration I knew this was the place for me. Little did I know that much of the lonliness I felt inside would be vanquished by all of the new friends I was about to meet. So, I am very grateful for not only the courses but for all of the people who I have met. I can actually say I have friends today….and that is a big deal for this sober person. I don’t know what the future holds but I do know I will continue on with PAHA. Thank you very much Elizabeth for not only the courses but for creating a situation where all are welcomed, encouraged and pushed to continue to grow.

  5. Diane Seth says:

    Well, perhaps commenting on gratitude is just the thing I need to do. 2009 has been a tumultuous year for me and there have been many times when I am at a loss of feeling anything near gratitude and all I seem to be able to do in my prayers is just ask God for help. I still have not found work and people I love are still getting sick. What I am grateful for is that I am going on anyway, clean and sober, and feeling all the feelings I am supposed to feel, and getting stronger. Everyone near and dear to me are still here beside me to love and support me through my difficulties. And I to them. It doesn’t get much better than that. I am being stripped of ego and pride and for that I am grateful. When I was little, my mom had a posting on her mirror that read ‘ the stripping of self leads to plenty’. Though I did not understand it at the time, I am understanding the richness of it now. I am grateful to be in addictions class at PAHA being taught by the amazing and shining Elizabeth and for the friendships I have made there. It is a bright spot in my life and I am growing in acceptance of life on life’s terms. I am grateful to be me. I am blessed.

  6. Wendy Martin says:

    Gratitude. What to say? I have in the past year ,it seems, nothing go right for me. I lost a job I had been doing for 10 years, had surgery and medical problems galore. I am the most grateful for is the fabulous teachings of Elizabeth Bush. She is not only a fabulous teacher but has become a wonderful friend to me. Not only has her teachings lifted me in spirit but also the great people I have had the priveledge to meet and get to know over the past several years do to PAHA. I feel the friendship of these people inside and feel that they are truely friends not just someone I had a chance meeting with. I am so looking forward to finishing with the classes and being able to work in the future at something that is close to my heart. Working with children, to show them how to be happy within themselves and to live a life without the need for drugs or other outside substances.

  7. Woke this morning, still in limbo. I have been waiting for guidance, as my life path is coming to a definitive crossroads. To be or not to be; That is the question. To rejoin corporate mental health after a year of bone crunching financial pressures engendered by whistle blower reprisal at the hands of the local Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Or to take the high roade morally, remaining true to my ethics and values. Your money or your life? That is the question. I splashed cold water on my face. The inner voice spoke clearly, almost audibly. “Do the right things and the right things will happen”. Half conscious as I always am, upon leaving the dream world, to enter so-called reality, I prepare the cowboy coffee, which will jump start my weary dopamine synapses to accommodate yet another morning. Drowsy eyes attempt to focus on the ever watchful blue screen perched on the old mahogany art table that has been my sentry’s post for the eleven months since I joined the swollen ranks of unemployed and unemployable Americans. Scanning a new dozen new mails for signs of hope, from my solitary watch tower, an unmistakable dawn-like ray peaks out from the cluttered landscape of requests, complaints, solicitations and often altogether useless communiques that have become my companions since the fall. The email states that this humble blog has made itself onto a top-fifty list for counselors. I click the link to see if it is just another impostor, come looking for a free junket on the rickshaw ride that has been the past five years; or seeking to steal the harvest from my not yet scythed seedlings; planted and nourished; protected from raiders, night and day. It is not. Go figure. All the years of research, typing into the early morning, juggling chainsaws of enormous case loads with single motherhood and the all too frequent encounters with corporeality psychopathy, fade into the gray, as I peer at the news. Do the right things and the right things will happen. To thine own self be true…. The sign at the crossroads clearly points towards the high road. Independent practice; impeccable ethics; a platform of hope and healing to those who suffer and to those who serve them.

  8. Second cup of dopamine. The fog is nearly dispersed from a head that woke throbbing.

    Note to self: No milk at night. To my dairy loving, albeit lactose intolerant system, it makes for bizarre dreams and impacted sinuses. Sleep apnea; hence the aching head. Oxygen: Don’t leave home without it.

    I wonder, how do people with addictions manage at all? My greatest vices are coffee, milk and the occasional swearing streak when under duress. (A lot of that in the past few years. Note to self: Try not to need soap to wash out oral cavity).

    A cup of milk renders me block-headed; how could I function if there was more serious impairment? Thankfully, I was spared that particular suffering but my family and most of my patients were not. And so the counseling school came to be…

    Having washed up on the Big Island of Hawaii for the second time, Post 9-11, its creation became the only logical answer to the devastation of done by alcohol, drugs, and family implosion that characterizes this mental health provider shortage area.

    For a year and half after the fall of the twin towers, I laid awake at night, praying incessantly to abandon the greater NY metropolitan area for the pristine shores of Hawaii island; sweet Paradise that I had forsaken for the glitter of gold that the east coast promised. Gold indeed. Freeways; toll booths; two hour commutes; driving through blizzards to serve my severely mentally ill patients in Morris and Passiac counties.

    No worries; strong Irish stock. My single motherhood worn like a badge of honor, right on my sleeve with my often Purple Heart. Until the day the towers fell….. from that clear, perfect September morning forward, my days were punctuated with triggers and my nights, with sweats and nightmares. FEMA sent everyone who felt in any way affected by the incident that clearly pronounced the dawn of World War III, into the local mental health clinics for care.

    Care, indeed. What do you say to someone who appears with small container of ash? Saying , “All they found was a finger bone. That was all that was left of him….” How do you make sense of the binging and purging of a beautiful, blond female commodities broker, who watched her Tower mates jump, as she approached the smoking buildings from a meeting Downtown? How to offer comfort when she says, “At our new offices I have to open all the correspondence addressed to the only other female broker, who, having arrived early for work that crisp autumn day, became particles of dust and ash?

    The ash, the dust; how it coated everything and the wrenching winds carried the smell of vaporized human flesh across the river to NJ where I worked. Planes flew low, the public radio station that was my companion on those long drives was now silent; having been blown off the face of the earth with the rest of the Towers. Road rage was memory, the much thinned rush hour traffic consisted of dazed commuters glued to their care radios, with new destinations in the City.

    The radios bragged about how tough New Yorkers were and the EPA lied about the effects on all of us. Nine years later they are all dying, slowly on the installment plan for being heroic; ordinary people who went to work that fateful day. Flags rippled in the Indian Summer breezes everywhere America wore Her Sunday best, during that incredibly crystalline Autumn.

    For myself, I hung Betsy Ross, and two “Don’t Tread on Me” flags on the front porch of our Edwardian home that had once served as the small Delaware River’s village Public Library. A Daughter of the American Revolution, born and bred in the cradle of Liberty and Democracy, those banners fluttered, as my mute witnesses to the only legitimate reason for taking up arms against an enemy. “Oh, say can you see, By the Dawn’s Early Light…”

  9. Well, then my otherwise useless existence has not been for naught. You always have a friend and family in me.

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