Monday, February 25, 2013

Here is an excerpt from the book, Trafficking:  The Good Life, by Jennifer Myers.  I highly recommend picking up a copy of this book.  Jennifer is a friend of mine... and let's put it this way, I already knew about her story being that we are pals and yet I was soooo engaged in this book when I read it.  I read at night and I would find myself wanting to stay up to continue reading her book rather than go to bed. She is an inspiring woman!

“Jennifer Myers, I’m from the DEA. You’ve been indicted by the Eastern District of Michigan.”

I froze, barely breathing. Fear swept through my body. At his words everything began to fade away—my life, my dreams, my future.

I knew why he was here. I was being arrested for my part in a major marijuana-trafficking ring, and I’d no one else to blame but myself.

Nothing could change it. Not my budding career in real estate or my dance success in Chicago, not even my good girl past. My mom, a high school math teacher, had taught me to be nice, to care what other people thought. Now I was letting everyone down. I had defiled my Girl Scout uniform and the cookies I’d sold on the street, my captain’s cheerleading outfit, and the dance costumes I’d cherished. In one instant, my “good life” was gone. Even the spiritual work I’d done to transform my life was corrupted.

I couldn’t tear my eyes away from this man I didn’t know. In shock, every detail about him came alive.

The man was short and compact. He reminded me of the fraternity boys I’d known in college. They wore baseball caps, slept in late, and emitted a particular musky smell. I didn’t see a gun, and he looked too young to carry one, but I knew one was there. I’d only seen two guns in my life: the rifle my dad had fired to scare the groundhog and the one I’d held trapshooting with Casey. Not even in my marijuana trafficking had I seen guns.

We three stood in the doorway of my boss’s office: me, a thirty-five-year-old Ohio State grad dressed in ridiculous light blue sweats for lunchtime Pilates standing next to this stranger, and Stephen, my boss.

Stephen looked at me with love, pain and betrayal in his eyes. When he hired me as a manager at his real estate company, there had been only one condition: I must give up my illegal business.

I’d promised.

We’d met four years ago at a transformational workshop. He’d trusted me to work as a manager in his company, and I’d made a promise I thought I could keep. But my spiritual quest had done nothing to erase my addiction to the money the drugs brought in.

Had I lied?

Yes, I had. Because I didn’t have the strength to let go of the trips.

Reeling, I stepped back but didn’t look away. He had been betrayed in more ways than one. He’d loved me romantically, and I hadn’t returned it.

The moment passed and Stephen leapt into action. He asked me for my parents’ phone number. No words were registering with me. “Jen, you have to give me your parents’ number!”

What was their number? No. They couldn’t know about this. But they had to know about this. Jesus.

I couldn’t speak or think.

The man led me into the kitchen where two other DEA agents stood, one a woman. She was there to frisk me—to touch me everywhere—looking for who knows what. I felt her small hands running down my sides. My body automatically responded with goose bumps. Inside I was heaving, storing up tears that wouldn’t have a chance to come for a long time.

I yelled for Stephen to get my purse.

“Where is it, Jen?”

He was frantic, searching. The female agent leaned me against the counter and brought my hands behind my back. I was staring at the tan Formica.

“There, under there.”

I was praying. Click. I felt for the first time the grip of the handcuffs too tight around my wrists. I closed my eyes and pictured the white barn of my childhood, the safe place I always thought of when I was scared. Purse. Got to find my purse.

“The green one,” I heard myself say.

Stephen picked up the purse and the woman spoke: “If you give her anything she is not supposed to have, you could be an accomplice.”

With a wild look, Stephen dropped the bag.

I couldn’t pick it up myself, but it was open. I told him to pull my wallet out.

“It’s a business card,” I said. “An attorney. I need his number.”

The attorney . . . and Ian needs to know. Call Ian, I thought to myself. Zoey. Who’s going to feed Zoey? They’re taking me for how long? And where? How am I going to contact Dane? The agents wanted to confiscate my car. “Where’s your key?”

My Land Rover Discovery was parked in the back beyond the peaceful pond where Stephen’s koi swam. “What peace?” a voice babbled in my head. Stephen was raging, my heart was thundering, and my coworkers had faded into the background.

“I’m calling my attorney on the phone!” Stephen shouted. “You’re not taking her car.”

“Sir, we can legally take her car.”

The sound of Stephen’s voice diminished as they led me outside. I walked head down, not looking at anyone. Like a mobster in old photographs. But even in my handcuffs, I was too numb and scared even to feel the shame. I guess I belonged to the government. Wasn’t that what the judgment from the Eastern District of Michigan had meant? My fingers touched each other, bound together in their steel. My wrists hurt. Inside, there was no steel.

“Do you have any needles, sharp objects, or weapons in your purse?” the male agent who carried my purse asked.


Do I have anything sharp in my purse?

“I don’t know.” He reached into my Marc Jacobs bag, the one I loved. I’d bought it as a feeling-sorry-for-myself gift after Casey ended our relationship. The purse had cost thousands, and I’d had the money—from the drugs.

The agent quickly drew his hand back.

“I’m going to ask you again. Do you have any needles or weapons in your purse?”

At that moment I truly felt it: I was a criminal.

But I’m not a criminal. I’m a good girl. Everyone thinks I’m a good girl.

The female agent pushed me into a Ford Taurus. Gold. No markings. Neither the agents nor the cars looked official. Everything was ordinary, but nothing was ordinary. I wanted to scream. I stared at the J on my zipper. “J” for Juicy, not “Jennifer” or “Jen.” Now “J” for “judge” and “Just so, ain’t life a bitch,” not “justice.”

The female agent got into the driver’s side and backed into the other agent’s Mustang. I was jolted forward from the impact. I couldn’t resist turning my head. They’d had an accident, dented the cars. Their embarrassment relaxed me for a moment. These were just kids playing dress-up, playing the DEA game. This was their job, and I was just another criminal who needed to be arrested, the one scheduled for 2 p.m. They didn’t have to remember my name. It was on the piece of paper.

They swarmed around the back where the car was damaged. “Hey, grab the camera. We have to take pictures.”

They were fast but followed protocol as I sat in the passenger seat. I wanted to laugh at their silliness. Otherwise, what was really happening to me would be too real.

*              *              *

During the drive, I stared out the window. The agent talked, but I didn’t respond. I’d shifted my weight onto my left hip to make room for my arms cuffed behind my back when, suddenly, the car exited off the ramp and downhill into a driveway.

We were in a basement. Steel lattice panels covered the windows; light barely peeked in. Empty police cars lined the parking structure like soldiers, waiting to be assigned.

I felt hidden, lost—already forgotten.

We took an elevator up and then proceeded down a hall, empty but for the tall man walking toward us.

“Hi, Lori.”

His eyes laughed, which felt degrading to me.

Who is Lori?

My flip-flops echoed on tiled floor. My arms ached. Then I remembered the conversation. “I’m Bob,” Rob had said to the driver as the Atlas Van truck stopped beside our Tucson storage unit, “and this is Lori.” The name had come out of that five-minute encounter. Now the court docket stated that I had an alias, “Lori.” It was sick. I wanted to cry.

In a small room with a telephone, the agents uncuffed me. Someone in Detroit wanted to talk to me. I stared at my wrist, hating the phone.

I’ve hurt myself.

The grooves on each wrist were slightly welted, perfectly light pink. I added them to the new list in my mind, with a crossed-off item at the top:

The first time I was handcuffed.

“If anything happens, anything, call me,” Dane had said. “Trust me. You’ll only be in for a few days.” And I’d believed him.

No one was speaking. The agents were an enigma—one a man and one a boy-man. They could’ve been my brother, Jerry, or a man cheering for his son on the diamond ball field.

I jumped when the phone rang. The agent pressed the speaker button, the red light steady. Stay calm. I almost said it out loud.

“Ms. Myers,” the voice over the phone drawled, drawing my name out, Myyyers. “I’m Agent Eric Elliot from the Eastern District of Michigan. Everyone is talkin’ down here, down in Detroit. All your friends are talkin’. What do you think about that?”

Inside, I shook like a five-point earthquake.

“You don’t have an option,” he continued, “so why don’t cha tell me what you know? We already know it all, anyway.”


“If you talk to me now, you’ll only be helping yourself out of a very bad situation.”

The room was shrinking. Again, I almost spoke—my mind desperate to do the right thing.

I almost believed him.

“I think I need an attorney” finally came out of my mouth.

The agents looked back at me, eyes blank. Instantly the phone call was disconnected, and I was taken from the room.

Here we go. Let the game begin, I thought, as if I knew what this meant.

I added more new “firsts” to my list: my first mug shot, and then my first fingerprinting. Over the next five years I learned that some institutions have a new electronic system for fingerprinting; the rest just do it the old-fashioned way with a stamp pad. This first time was the stamp.

The agent rolled my thumb. “No, relax your hand, honey.” Index finger. Pinky finger.

“No, sweetie, we’re not done yet.” She asked me to place my four fingers on the pad. “Like this, a little off to the side.” The new position was awkward, and the stamp pad was messy. The black residue lingered on my fingers although I was given shop soap to wash it off—the same white slippery gel my father used to clean his hands after a day on the farm. The smell brought my dad close to me . . . and the inky fingerprints took me back to kindergarten.

Blue paint. Splat. I redipped my hand in the yellow and spread my fingers as wide as I could with my palm pressed carefully onto the white paper on the floor of the kindergarten classroom. Where the blue and yellow mixed, an odd muddy brown appeared. I stared back at my palm print, satisfied. J . . . E . . . N . . . N . . . Y. I carefully wrote my name below, dipping my little fingers in the paint jars sitting beside me. My mom hung the gift on the wall, displayed for years for everyone to see.

My prints no longer displayed my accomplishments and creativity; the innocence of my childhood years was forgotten and stained. In its place was a symbol, a sign of misuse and misfortune.

I was a criminal.

I was marked and tracked.

Jennifer Myers is a speaker and prison consultant who prepares first time non-violent offenders and their families for federal prison. Currently she is on the board of the Action Committee For Women In Prison, where she is creating programs for women in prison and young teen girls. Jennifer's poetry and short stories have been published in the online literary journal, qarrtsiluni, and in the anthology, Razor Wire Women, co-edited by Jodie Lawston. In Trafficking the Good Life she documents her journey from All-american girl and professional dancing to marijuana trafficking, to arrest and incarceration, to rebuilding a life of purpose and ethical pursuit.

Monday, February 18, 2013

My fiance, James Anthony Ellis, is an amazingly talented writer.  He published two new books last year, Breadcrumbs:  Poems and Prose Designed to Lead You Home and The Honor Book:  Reclaiming the Honorable Life for Your Power Success and Freedom.  I am going to include an excerpt from each book here.  This first one is from Breadcrumbs

The Saga of a Dream
This one almost got away. It’s a good one, and it doesn’t even rhyme. It captures the torture and glory of the search for love. Thanks Jennifer for making sure this one made it in the book.
Mesmerized by my own indifference
I’m the captain of this broken vessel
Blistered by the rumbling, tumbling waves
I search for calm on the storm-drenched pier
And I look for you
For you … for you…
Past this pier’s falling railings, through footing unsure and slippery, I still search
For you
Beyond the markers, out of sight, stolen by a wicked sea
You flail and wail
Lost in the tornadoes of shoes and sharks and bloody, broken hearts
Our hearts a lie, our lies a path, our path a prison, our prison a safety
Our safety a death
As we await demolition, like burned out cars atop the rusty heap
Dreams once dreamed are torn and tattered like flags left too long in the wind
Numb and dumb
We speak no more, and dreams dissolve into the salty sea – a messy mix of withered words gone unheard, warning signals passed on by, hopeful voices drowned by our deaf carelessness
Alone again, I’m seduced by the lullaby sleep, hypnotized by the vacuous stares, betrayed by my own lack of faith…
… And yet
Slumbering beneath my own disbelief
Dreams still hover
In color
Vibrant, alive, fresh and fragrant, with the sparkle of backyard pool parties
In color
Blues and greens and stripes and streams
Of yellow-hue ribbons, with perfectly sewn seams
The hopes hold on, like the grasp of a child’s hand as we cross the big street
The dreams – they remain, they sustain, and they go unnamed
Untouched by the clutch of storms, fear and fate
Though tornado winds may blow and blister
Though surface waves may crash and burn
And darkness drown the pure and new
The dreams – they sing, they call, they yearn
For me
For you

And from The Honor Book (one of the few books out there written for men only!):

It’s at this time, we say our greetings to the gods, and bow to our own brothers as ourselves. Not in some fanciful new age curtsy, but a true acknowledgement of the power and actions that arise in a collective aligned with a higher purpose. It’s at this time we greet our sacred honor on the highest shelf it can be placed – with the awareness that our best is needed not just for our own sake but also for the needs of a community and humanity pulling for our return. It’s at this time we can make our amends and pay our consequences, without a debilitating shame or guilt, but with a high-minded nod to our true identity of honor, in faithful actions as natural and balanced as the in- and out-breath.

For information on how to purchase Jim's books:

Friday, February 8, 2013


I know quite a few people who have had Lyme Disease.  I have seen them struggle with diagnosis and recovery.  Katina Makris decided to share her very inspiring story with Lyme Disease in her book, Out of the Woods: Healing Lyme Disease - Body, Mind & Spirit.  Katina is a powerful woman, a gifted writer, and healer.  She is so passionate about educating the public about Lyme Disease and helping those with the disease.  Here is an excerpt from her book:

The clanging of the harbor bell rings with a clarion shrill through the thickening milky fog. I bundle deeper into my plaid woolen muffler, struggling to deter the piercing Nantucket wind straight off the darkening ocean. Damp and raw, it pries so viciously.

I love Nantucket. It’s a place of haunting passages to me. It feels like I walk between the veils of the worlds out here on this oceanic island. All of it—the stretching beach sands, the romantic heather moors, the cobbled whaling village streets—throw me backward in time, propelling me into a déjà vu sensation. In fact, I often wrestle with my conscious mind out here.

Yesterday, in town, I fleetingly saw what I thought was the half turned face of my father, cloaked in a jet black, collared cape and top hat.

No, I reminded myself. He’s back home in his house on the Hudson River, not here at an oaken desk, behind a leaded glass window. It was eerie to have seen him inside that storefront.

You’re daydreaming, Kim.

In early October of 2004, I’ve come to Nantucket with Hunter on a painting commission.

My assignment is to capture four landscape scenes of a beloved family's heirloom of land and cottage, situated sweetly on a tucked away lee of the rambling heather moors. It’s one of the few old style properties left on the island, low key and understated in its simplicity and scrimshaw charm. The two-bedroom house, tiny in dimension yet raftered with family memories floating off the pages of the guest book, reminds me of my own barefooted childhood gambols collecting sand dollars and jingle shells along the still uncluttered shores of Fire Island and Martha’s Vineyard.

I head out, laden with paints and canvases, portable easel in tow, hiking up and down the moorland swales, searching and finding a nice pinnacle to paint from. The amber Indian Summer light bathes the endless swaths of russet and sienna heathers in breathtaking beauty. It’s actually quite daunting to try to portray the sensual beauty of these moors. I wrestle with two canvases well into the final weeping indigo rays of evening’s surrender. The next day I’m back again, tangled in my own attempts to capture the moors on my canvases.

By noon I’m drenched in sweat and paints, half clothed, and simultaneously euphoric and distraught, moved by the solitude and majesty of this untouched land, yet displeased with my efforts. The paintings are not as delicate as I have aimed for. Instead, they’re marked by broad strokes and even broader colors. Oh well, I think, tomorrow I’ll paint the ocean instead.

Unfortunately, while trudging back to the cottage, a splitting headache and stiff neck are rapidly mounting.

By late afternoon I’m cramped in the vise of a wicked migraine. It holds siege through the next day, which is shrouded in mists and a drizzling, raw rain. Hunter helps me ride out my pain with ice packs and meds.

By evening, I’m still sick. The headache has plastered me down pretty badly. This one is particularly fierce, zapping my energy, making my mind foggy, and leaving me feeling dizzy and fragile. Thirty-six hours into it, I’m waiting out the passing of the final stages of the siege. I lie in a zombie posture on the denim blue sofa, watching the candle flame flicker and listening to Hunter clatter pots and pans in the kitchen. I study the woodworking inlays of the cathedral ceiling, noticing the shapes and faces hidden in the whitewashed knotty pine.

Essentially, this is a happy experience here on the island in spite of the migraine and weather. Hunter and I are blissfully content alone together, reveling in the romantic solitude of this idyllic setting. We chat and loll, nibble on savories, he plowing through a novel. Outside the window we watch flocks of goldfinches dangling from the bushes and branches, gobbling up the shiny autumn berries.

The next day dawns, heavily mired in more fog. The headache lingers, though not as badly. It remains well into my final day here. I force myself to work on the commissions, sketching now, since the light is so poor. I feel incredibly weak, though, barely enough energy to walk down the drive and back. I’m unable to venture back up onto the moorland hills. I lumber home to New Hampshire, dazed and not well. The Nantucket experience lays a muzzy film on me.

The ensuing months of autumn become a living nightmare. Dizzy spells come and go. In the usual busy season of autumn winterization—garden cleanup, wood stacking, and vegetable canning—I’m suddenly incapacitated. I get my son, Eli off to school each day, then crash. Days are slipping away from me. Nothing is getting done. I’m floored by the exhaustion and relentless migraines that began in Nantucket.

My head is in a constant fog, my gut a wreck. I’m plastered on the sofa, barely able to even let the puppy out for housebreaking. I note a bruised feeling all over my body. Plus there’s this thready kind of predawn insomnia. My doctor and Neurologist both run batteries of tests, scopes, and scans. I drink barium, I’m injected with dyes. Still, I feel like hell, like I’m breaking apart. Labs return: no Epstein-Barr, no Lyme disease, no thyroid disease.

I crash at home, propped up on tranquilizers, and feeling as stunned as a bird who has hit a window. I’m too weak to drive, sleep is raggedy, and my head spins. My blood sugar feels like it’s constantly plummeting; I feel jittery and starving, and have anxiety rushes that only a solid protein meal can assuage. My metabolism has gone way out of whack. Suddenly, I’m packing on weight in a way I never have before. I keep harping to the doctors that something is ransacking my own chemistry. “Check my thyroid, my adrenals, my pancreas,” I beseech.

Days run into nights, nights into days, with me falling down a dark elevator shaft of despair. I’m racked with a weird vibrating feeling in my body and a high pitched buzz in my head. No one else can hear it when I quiz them. Burning, knifelike stomach pains, bloaty, gassy expansions, and bizarre three a.m. ravenous hunger pangs are intense. My GI tract is a mess.

After the scans and cultures and blood tests mount, all that can be determined is that I have some mild digestive flora deficiencies and perhaps a PH imbalance leaning toward the acidic. “Everything else is fine, Kim,” Malcolm, my GP, and the experts proclaim. “It must be a virus.”

I’m confused by these medical explorations. Suspecting a malfunction in my gut, I end up following my own instincts and holistic understandings and attempt to soothe these persistent discomforts on my own. Graham crackers, a banana, a small yogurt, pro-biotic capsules, and ginger tea faithfully make their way to my bedside table. I nibble on the crackers, down my tablets and sip my tea as Eli and puppy Lucky, clamor on board for bedtime books. My head feels heavy lidded, obtuse, and waterlogged. With trembling hands I turn the pages of “Go, Dog, Go.” Eli and I nestle together, his stuffed animal and Lucky between us, as I weave through the twenty-one pages once again. In these blissful moments I swallow hard. This is my one spell of comfort in the long slavish days of illness.
Why can’t the doctors give me any answers other than a suspect virus?

I lie flat as a railway bed for month after month, throughout the humid summer of 2005.

Too weak to lift my head for more than a few minutes at a time, I manage being vertical for only the most directed necessities: a trip to the bathroom, sitting up to eat, changing my clothes. The air conditioners drone, the house lays still, like a lion lounging in the heat of the African plains.

Outside the silent windows, I see the sun blazing, the hollyhocks climbing, the heat mounting.
All I can manage is a rotation of position, from left side to right and then over supine onto my back. Faithfully, each day, I force myself out of my bed and pajamas. If I linger too long in either, my spirits flag so deeply into a plummeting trench of despair and fear that it’s close to impossible to fathom a return to wellness.

I teeter under the weight of the cloying, South Atlantic summer blown north. The journey from my front door to the car has never felt so long. When we finally arrive, the nutritionist’s office is cheerful and clean, bathed in soothing sea foam green and white. Unlike the fluorescent glare of many waiting rooms before this, the lighting here is soft and inviting. There is even an enormous philodendron, which stretches its broad green leaves wide in welcome. “I can tell you the exact day this whole thing started,” I begin. June 21, 2000. My life and health has deteriorated ever since.”

Dr. Scott Worthington asks what happened and I launch into the entire drama. He is all eyes and ears, asking me a few specific questions along the way. “How does temperature affect you? When did the numbing palsy-like symptoms start? Are you retaining fluids?” After about 25 minutes of case intake, Scott makes a confident pronouncement: “I believe this is an advanced case of Lyme disease that has never been treated.”

“What? It can’t be, I’ve been tested three times and all the results have come back negative. ”

“The commercial lab Western Blot is an inaccurate test,” he explains, “particularly in old cases of Lyme disease. It’s even sketchy in new cases, with a 54 percent error rate. There’s a short window of opportunity for just a few months when you can get fairly accurate findings with it, but even then, many early cases are missed, too. We need to run some newer, more improved tests.”

I am astonished to learn that they have diagnosed hundreds of missed cases in the past three to four years, cases that have been mistaken for Lupus, MS, Fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s, Chronic Fatigue, arrhythmia, all sorts of conditions.

“Lyme can show up as muscular-skeletal pain and inflammation. It can hit the GI tract. It can be neurological and cause Bell’s palsy, vertigo, foot drop, or Parkinson’s-like symptoms. It can attack the heart and its valves. With some people it doesn’t show any physicals and it goes right to the brain and neurological system, creating anxiety, depression, bipolar, or dementia.”

“What a mess,” I stammer, suddenly aware of how much worse things could have gotten.

Scott goes on describing this slippery, often-changing illness. He says that many cases are misdiagnosed or undiagnosed altogether. He considers Lyme to be the epidemic of the 21st century, akin to the Polio outbreaks fifty or sixty years ago.

I take it all in, nodding in concurrence and a bit of shock.

How many zillions of prior tests have I been subjected to? I wonder. I pray that this one holds the answer. Into the protective Styrofoam container my blood goes, padded with ice packs and my paperwork. A week later, we journey back to Scott’s office, he delivers the results.

“The markers show you are at the very top of the positive range,” he says. “You have a full-blown case of Lyme disease. I’ve never seen a more definitive result.”

My heart is pounding in my chest and I feel a sweat break out on the back of my neck.

There it is in black and white. Scott explains that I’m infected by the organism called Borrelia Bufidosis Burgdorfen, the primary culprit in Lyme disease. We carefully go over my other laboratory findings. I learn about the damage that has been done to my immune and nervous systems, as well as to my gut. The Lyme has run rampant within me for at least five years, maybe longer. The ugly fact is that Borrelia is a virulent bacterium that replicates itself in cyclical fashion. Periods of dormancy can occur, during which time symptoms subside; but then periods of outbreak erupt once again. This spirochete organism burrows itself way into the tissues and cells of the body. Most experts consider it to be even stronger and more difficult to eradicate than syphilis, to which it is related.

“It’s a nasty bug,” Scott says. It’s an understatement.

I’m crying, clutching Hunter’s hand.

“OH my god, Scott! Thank you truly. Now there can be an end to this nightmare.”

“Let’s work on getting you well,” Scott says.
For more information:


Friday, February 1, 2013

Coy Cross became a client of mine last year, 2012.  Upon our first conversation I knew I wanted to work with him and then I read his book, The Dhance, which I consider a must read for everyone.  Coy's story inspires all ages.  For me personally reading his book helped me to understand how my fiance's father may feel as the caregiver of his wife and the book has guided me to find meaning among challenges in my own life rather than just complaining about them.   Here is a wonderful excerpt from The Dhance: 

While Carol is busy at her office, I meet my friend Greg, Shirley’s husband, at the nearby Peet’s coffee shop.  For the past 25 years, Carol has been my confidante and the one with whom I could always share my deepest fears.  But now I have to have someone, besides Carol or our immediate family, with whom I can express, not only my worries and my concerns about Carol’s survival, but my doubts about my own ability to cope. 

As Greg and I talk, I remind him that in 1982 my previous wife Helen was seriously injured in an auto accident and I cared for her, four children and a business.  I “dealt with” the pain by numbing myself with alcohol.  A year later, emotionally and physically exhausted, I considered suicide and only my love for my children and my elderly mother kept me from doing so.  But I left the marriage and did not “finish the job.” 

Four years later Jan, my first wife and the mother of my three children, died in an auto accident and four days later my dad died from a stroke.  Again, I “coped” with alcohol and “stuffing” my feelings.  When an intruder murdered my dear friend and mentor Carol Ruth Knox four months later, alcohol and stuffing was my preferred method of “dealing.”  By 2001 when another car wreck killed my 19 year-old grandson Matt I had learned not the numb with alcohol, but I still “stuffed” my feelings.  This time has to be different. 

This time is different.  I now have friends like Greg and the guys in our men’s group, who will help me keep a better perspective.  Our adult children are also available and very supportive.  Also, I know I can’t heal Carol.  Greg helps me understand my greatest gift to her is “to be consciously present.”  I can “be.”   I can consciously be myself and continue loving her.  I can consciously be present with and support her.  I can simply sit and consciously be present with her.  Leaving the coffee shop I have more confidence about my role in supporting her and I realize at the same time I must release responsibility for the outcome.  No matter what I do, she could die.  But how this “all turns out is none of my business.”  I must play my part to the best of my ability.  I am well aware that this last twenty-four hours has already changed my life forever.

As I reach Carol’s office, I pause outside and talk to God for a moment.  “Okay, there is a pattern here.  Obviously, you have an important spiritual lesson for me.  I promise to stay conscious and open and learn what you are teaching.  I don’t want to have to take this class again.”  At the same time, I am aware of the magnitude of the blessing that this experience offers.  This is a moment of great insight for me: feeling great pain at the very real possibility of losing the woman I deeply love, while seeing on a higher level the spiritual growth opportunity this presents for both Carol and me.


Dr. Coy F. Cross II is a retired historian but his greatest contribution may be as a caregiver to his wife Carol as she struggled with ovarian cancer. Coy’s book, The Dhance: A Caregiver’s Search for Meaning, details his transformation from helpless fear to loving caregiver as he struggled to put his spiritual practices to use in his life. Now he speaks to groups about how he uses ‘practical spirituality’ to find meaning in his life, no matter what the circumstances. Coy often says, “You may not like what is happening in your life, but accepting it is the first step towards tapping into your divine source where your best solutions reside.”

The Dhance is available on and at bookstores everywhere as well as from Coy’s website: