February 3, 2008

February News

Happy February,

This week, on Paul's birthday to be exact, starts the Chinese Year of the Earth Rat which is supposedly a sign of achievement and the acquiring of wealth. Well, we've gotten good start on that. We have lots to announce so let's just jump right in. Gung Hay Fat Choy (A Happy and Prosperous New Year) to you all!

Sheryl and Paul



For five years, up until a couple of years ago, I was a professional Family Caregiving Consultant, first with the Alzheimer's Association and then with a state-sponsored caregiver resource center in Santa Cruz, CA (Del Mar Caregiver Resource Center). During that time I worked with people who were taking care of mostly elderly loved ones with Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease, stroke, or some other progressive brain-impairing illness. I worked with people at every stage of their caregiving experience and wrote a monthly email newsletter sharing advice, resources and insights about the path. Most people came to me seeking practical assistance but -- almost without exception -- eventually the conversation would turn to emotional and spiritual issues coming up along the way.

I wrote about all of it and I'm very happy to announce that as of this week those articles are now available in a book called THE SPIRITUAL JOURNEY OF FAMILY CAREGIVING through Lulu.com at http://www.lulu.com/content/1767517 . I also have a blog where I'm posting lots of excerpts from the book, new articles, book reviews and links to caregiver resources at http://spiritualcaregiving.blogspot.com/ . I invite you to take a look and hope you find what I have to offer valuable.

The book is already starting to get some notice. Both the Alzheimer's Association and the ALS branch of the Muscular Dystrophy Association have asked for copies to review for their national publications, resource lists and libraries; the San Diego branch of the Parkinson's Association may be featuring it as their Book of the Month; and I was recently interviewed by Carol Marak for her Elder Care Expert Show. That was a lot of fun. You can hear the whole interview by clicking this link .

A party is sure to happen to celebrate this event, perhaps with cake, a booksigning or talk or all three... but we don't know when yet.... stay tuned!



Even though Paul has made his living partially as a photojournalist in the past and has sold numerous photographs and products featuring his work online, he has never shown his work in an exhibit before. That all changed a few weeks ago when he was invited to hang a show of his bird, flower and marine life photography in the lobby at Main Street Realty at 2567 Main street in Soquel. That stirred up a lot of excitement, especially when he sold a piece before he even hung it on the wall.

A party is sure to happen, perhaps with wine and cheese, a chance to talk with the artist, and other great things to eat... but we don't know when yet... stay tuned!


(Paul was sick and running a slight fever when he wrote this... but Sheryl thought it was amusing so here it is.)
by Paul Hood

A few lessons of late for Sheryl and I regarding how our consciousness interacts with reality. The power of intentions and all that.

Long story short: through persistence, belief and optimism primarily, I got invited to hang a show of my photographic work. That’s the ”little engine that could” part. I think every artist has to hold some kind of joy and belief in their hearts. Some blending of work, persistence over time and a sense that your task leads towards some resolution, or simply that the work of producing art is an end in and of itself keeps you going. Anyway, I keep producing work and putting it out there and it has been selling, to the point where I get to brag that my work is “being held in private collections now in 23 States and three foreign countries and the list is growing”. That’s my PR quote. I think I can. I thought I could. I knew I could. I still think I can because there are more hills to climb yet.

Now for the “Chicken Little” part. Sheryl and I worried about the expense of hanging the show. We worried it to death. We took all the joy out of it. Then we recovered from that some, and just “got ‘er done.” The prints were made, then mounted, then hung. That’s when we discovered that a majority of the prints had been damaged in the process: damaged enough to be considered seconds, not damaged enough to destroy them and start over. We were obligated to hang the show, so we did, negotiated a refund for materials costs and got on with life. In the meantime a lot more bad feelings were generated before the whole thing got resolved. People lost sleep over this, and we felt terrible about that. In the end, Sheryl and I had to reconcile it all in our minds. If we could do it over again I don’t know what we would have done differently exactly, but we had to wonder how much our fears played into the outcomes. An invitation to do a gallery show fell out of the sky like an acorn and hit me in the head. I could have said, “Wow! Food! I Love acorns! Praise be to God for MANNA FROM HEAVEN.” Conversely I might have said, “Ouch! I hope there’s no permanent neurological damage. Help! Somebody is throwing acorns at me. . . who do I sue?” Well guess what, we had both reactions, almost at the same time. We could have chosen to live fully in love, faith, and gratitude and instead we only half-chose that.

I don’t know if it’s possible for us to live in continual gratitude for acorns that fall or fail to fall when we want them to. Can’t control the timing or the trajectory. I don’t know if it’s within the human psyche to be in bliss whether the train tracks head up a steep hill, crest, or descend in an effortless downhill coast. But I will say this: barring the sky falling, I think I can.

Ok, well that’s not really true. I think that experiencing the highs and lows of existence is part of being human, and if we react to all stimulus the same way then what’s the point of being here? Now, some would call that a roadmap to enlightenment: that once you see through the veil between base existence and transcendence it’s a simple thing to rend that veil. In other words, once you truly and deeply understand that the totality of what we experience is a mirroring of our collective thoughts, intentions, beliefs-- you’re there. You get it. Or let me put it this way: picture “The Little Engine That Could” on a giant hamster wheel. Now you get it ? No? Well, enjoy the ride anyway. Hamsters do. And be loving during the trip, because the destination is not the point.

“I been workin’ on the railroad, all the live-long dayyyy, I been workin’ on the railroad just to pass the time awaaaayyy....”


"Staying Credible Amidst Multiple Realities".... more on the idea of what you believe is what you get and related issues

"Visioning and Dreaming"...the importance of visualization and dreaming big...

"The Seven Psychospiritual Dimensions of Family Caregiving"

"How I Became A Family Caregiving Consultant"

"Getting Ready for a Gallery Show"

"Non-Violence (Ahimsa)"