Sunday, August 18, 2013


Habari! Karibu! Hello. Welcome.

Ten days and counting. In just ten days, I'll be heading out with a medical team from Christian Life Assembly in Camp Hill, PA  for too-beautiful-for-words Tanzania. There, for a week or so, we will set up a makeshift medical clinic in the remote African bush.

Which is to say that we will be transported into a region where medical care is almost unheard of. We started this work last year and I'm happy to say that we are continuing to support the health care workers and the Maasai people in and around the village of Loborsoit again this year.

Loborsoit, Republic of Tanzania

Maasai villagers
There is so much to do...but so little time.

Needless to say, this week will be dedicated to packing up medications, supplies, and whatever personal items we need to get us through (we'll be sleeping in tents in a makeshift camp...). Flashlights, rope, and duct tape come to mind.

So...this will be my last blog post at "begin...begin again" for a few weeks. Instead, I'll be blogging at my other site, "Cherished Illusions", when I get back. You can read about last year's adventure at .

But before I go, I'd like to recommend my daughter's great new site for photography, now available for your viewing pleasure (and for purchase) at . Here is a small sampling:

Snow Covered

Nature's Heart
Framed, these images make beautiful gifts...and they can be customized for you.
While I'm away I hope to get a few decent shots of my own.
Einstein: Nature Stretched Canvas

Kwaheri! Goodbye!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

don't leave home without it

On my walk this morning I had the pleasure of meeting up with two spotted fawns in the woods along the road.

Like this...if only I'd gotten the shot.
We stared each other down for a few minutes and then they resumed grazing without any sign of alarm.

Did I have my camera with me? No. My phone? No.

I headed back to the house, optimistic that I could get back in time to get the shot. On the way, I spotted the sunlight reflecting off the most perfect spider web I have ever seen.

Like this one only better...glistening in the morning sunshine.

Did I have my camera with me? No. My phone? No.

By the time I got back, the deer had disappeared and the sun had moved a fraction of a degree so that I couldn't even find the web.

You probably know the feeling. The missed opportunity. The lost moment. The self-flagellation.

It's like the line of dialogue that comes to you the minute they get you up in stirrups...or when your mouth is full of drills and picks and tubes. It's the perfect line! Just what the story needs! You promise yourself you'll jot it down the minute you get the chance...but you don't have your notebook with you and there's not a wrinkled napkin or a scrap of paper in sight...and even if there were, you forgot to bring a pen so you can't jot it down on the back of your hand!
And by the time you find your pen or beg for a piece of paper, guess what? You've forgotten it. The perfect line...or melody, or lyric, or gone forever! The opportunity missed. The moment lost.

You already know the moral of this story. Wherever you go...whatever you do...grab your camera, or your paper and pen, or your sketch book on the way out the door.

Don't leave home without it.

"To be prepared
is half the victory."


Thursday, August 8, 2013

reality leaves a lot to the imagination--john lennon

Most days it's an effort for me to track down my elusive creative spirit. I mean, I spent most of my life on the wrong side of the tracks, so to speak...working out of the left side of my brain.

I can barely find my way around the other side. I imagine it atrophied like a stricken arm or leg...withered like a neglected house plant...lulled into complacency by boredom. Barren. Comatose. I wonder if there is any hope for it. Will it ever revive? Will it ever bring forth fruit?

It's that hard for me.

Then there are those who have dedicated their lives to their art, the same way I devoted mine to medicine--fully, wholly, and unequivocally. They are the ones who write the stories and poems we can't put down, compose the music we can't get out of our heads, or cover canvases with images we never forget.

Oh, all right. I admit it. I envy them. I ache for their talent. I wish I had it in me. And then, every so often, I come across something so heart-achingly beautiful, so extraordinary, so ethereal I simply surrender to it and enjoy it.

Like this:
See what I mean? Someone actually created that? Blown away. Had to share it.
Okay. Back to work...

Friday, August 2, 2013

among other things

It seems to me I lost a week somewhere. Last week's post got lost in the shuffle probably because, among other things...MANY other things...I'm taking an on-line writing course this month, "The Medical Muse" with Sue Rumbaugh.

Five of us are reading and writing about health and healing, hospitals, and being or interacting with health professionals.
Let me just say that these are difficult subjects to wrap plain old words around.

Even though we are total strangers, we have been asked to access some of our most painful memories and to reflect on deeply personal write about them, to share them, and to brace ourselves for feedback.

The women who are sharing their stories with me deserve a round of applause, I think. It takes raw courage, immense effort, and deep introspection to plumb the depth of experiences like these.

For my part, I'm writing about a bout of rheumatic fever that my brother and I shared as children. I want to know how the same illness, in the same hospital, at the same time left him with emotional and psychological scars that never healed, while I recovered uneventfully and went on to study medicine. I want to tell the world about Child Life Specialists who support hospitalized children and their families. Their services can prevent the kind of long term emotional problems that can follow a child home after a difficult illness.

One of us is writing about her brother's losing battle against alcoholism.

One of us was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 32, when her children were too little to understand. She has battled two recurrences already. Another woman was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and reflects on what she knows will be her fate. She worked in hospice for many years, and also watched her mother-in-law waste away from the she knows.

Another of us is a brain trauma research specialist who writes about her sister's addiction to prescription pain killers following uncomplicated back surgery.

These are familiar scenarios...and yet every story is unique, compelling, and hard to tell. Very hard to tell.

Is there a painful episode from your life that you haven't shared? Something you can't put into words? Something you just can't get off your mind?

My brother's story and the questions it raises have haunted me for years. I need to tell it so that other children can be spared his heartache.

Surely someone needs to hear your story. How can you say, "No," to them?

“Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts.
You need to start somewhere.”  
    --Anne Lamott--
Three weeks and counting until we take off for Tanzania...among other things!