Rachel’s Blog

Grandfather’s Blessings (Guest Post)

Guest Author Amy Jaret
Amy wrote this blog post about My Grandfather’s Blessings and mentioned it while signing Rachel’s online guestbook. Rachel liked it so much that here it is for you all to enjoy. Or you can read it on her blog here.

There are some books I know – before I even finish reading the Introduction – that I have to own. It’s less about the words contained on its pages and more about the very existence of the writer.  That this writer is giving me something that is otherwise missing in my life. Adding their book to my shelves somehow adds their light, their perspective, their energy to my day to day.

I first felt this way when I read Mary Pipher’s The Middle of Everywhere. I had just gotten a full-time job as an ESL Teacher at a well-respected refugee resettlement agency in Chicago. I had dreamed of teaching in […]

August 20th, 2013|0 Comments

Growing New Eyes: The 3 Question Journal

Tony’s wife insisted he come to one of our Finding Meaning in Medicine retreats because he was deeply depressed and about to leave medicine. A highly skilled oncological surgeon, after 10 years of doctoring he was so stressed and disheartened that he felt that he could not go on. In a discussion over dinner one evening, I suggested that he might want to develop competency in seeing the meaning that was present in his work just as he had developed competency in diagnosis and surgery. “What meaning?”  he replied bitterly. “Aha!” I said. “If you have 10 or 15 minutes a day, you may be able to answer that question for yourself.”    He looked dubious but he said he would try. So I told him about The Journal.

The Journal is the wise work of an old friend, the author and deeply respected teacher Angeles Arrien… a simple way to begin […]

July 15th, 2013|1 Comment

Some Thoughts On Self-Care

Earlier this week I was sitting with a dozen very smart and well-trained physicians – all women – and listening to them talk about how they take care of themselves so they can continue to endure the stress and pressure of medical practice. One by one they shared thoughtful methods of self-care: asking their husbands for appreciation and tenderness, sharing their feelings with friends who listened, getting massages, going on mini-vacations with their loved ones, yet no one said that they looked to Medicine itself for inspiration, fulfillment and renewal.  No one had even considered it. Yet why not??

No question that the medical system is seriously broken, but Medicine itself is not.  Even on the most stressful and pressured of days there are moments in which we can experience something else, moments in which we connect to people on a very intimate level and make a difference to them and […]

July 8th, 2013|3 Comments

Touched By The Goddess

Yesterday I was going through some boxes in my garage when I came across an unlabeled box. It was full of very old pictures. This picture was on the top. And thereby hangs a tale……….

In 1962, when I was one of few women in my medical training program, my femininity was seen as a professional weakness, collectively denied not only by my male colleagues but also by myself. Succeeding in medicine meant overcoming this obstacle. I was determined to succeed.

In the first year of my residency training, I was randomly assigned to a House Staff team with several star players, all men. I greatly admired the skills and competence of my colleagues and was delighted to be a part of this team. Once after a long night in an inner city emergency room, dealing with seizures, beatings and one final heart-stopping automobile accident involving three small children, my senior resident […]

May 7th, 2013|9 Comments

Seeing The Angel In The Room

It was a Wednesday evening during the third session of The Healer’s Art, the course for first year medical students I developed at UCSF’s medical school 22 years ago and still teach there every year. The topic of the evening was Allowing Awe and Mystery in Medicine and the 70 or so first year students and 13 faculty who had gathered had broken up into small groups of six and scattered into separate rooms to share and discuss their personal experiences of the topic.

I was sitting downstairs in the large living room of the Faculty Alumni House waiting for these small group discussions to end and the class to re-gather. With me on the couch was one of the donors whose generosity has made the course possible. We were chatting together, but with difficulty. The old house is wooden and the noise level was impressive. Submerged in the sound […]

May 1st, 2013|3 Comments

Second Hand Rose


Something that you do not know about me? Every stitch of clothing I have on this minute was originally bought and worn by someone else. My cashmere sweater, my
Roberto Cavalli jeans and even my Dolce and Gabanna flats started life in someone else’s closet. As I sit here typing, women all over the world are out there shopping for my wardrobe in countries and boutiques I could not possibly visit, paying prices far beyond my budget. It’s been that way for years. Take for example one of my suits. I bought it at the Mount Carmel Thrift Store in Mill Valley. It is made by a fine Italian designer and the woman who first wore it paid more then $2,000 for it. I paid $17 dollars and 35 cents.

There is something about attending a high society fundraiser as the guest of honor or giving […]

April 8th, 2013|0 Comments

Becoming a Blessing

A blessing is not something that one person gives another. A blessing is a moment of meeting, a certain kind of relationship where both people involved remember and acknowledge their true nature and worth, and strengthen what is whole in one another. By making a place for wholeness within our relationships we offer others the opportunity be whole without shame and become a place of refuge from everything in them and around them that is not genuine. We enable people to remember who they are.

I first learned to do this from people who were dying, people who had moved into a more authentic relationship with those around them because only that which was genuine still had meaning for them. These people had let go of the ways that they had changed themselves to win approval and so they made it safe for others to remove their masks as well. Their […]

January 24th, 2013|3 Comments

The Power of Wholeness

In 1962 when I graduated from Medical School the goal of medicine was cure. Anything less was considered failure. Yet many things that bring people to us cannot be cured. Fortunately cure is not the only successful outcome of our relationships to our patients. There is a great deal more to personal wholeness than physical health and more that medicine can offer beyond the curing of disease. Over time I’ve come to think of physical health not as a goal but as a means that enables people to pursue what has meaning and value in life. People may do this whether they are physically healthy or not. People even respond to significant illness by growing in their capacity to love and feel compassion for others, in their sensitivity and understanding, and in their courage and passion and wisdom. Because of this people for whom there is no cure may be […]

January 11th, 2013|1 Comment

Let There Be Light

This is the darkest time of every year – a time we sit together in the darkness awaiting the coming of the light. This year, darkness has reached out and touched every one of our hearts. The tragedy of Sandy Hook has caused many of us to wonder WILL THE LIGHT COME AGAIN. So, I have written a new story – for you – and for myself to remind us of possibility and of our own power to make a difference

In the process of recovering from kidney cancer, one of my patients underwent a transformation from a hard driving CEO to a volunteer and supporter of many good causes.  He told me of the experience, which had changed his way of moving through the world.  As a child of atheistic and intellectual parents, he had no religious upbringing or spiritual inclination and had immersed himself in the world of competition and business […]

December 20th, 2012|1 Comment

Beyond Perfection

The pursuit of perfection is built into every professional training. But wholeness lies beyond perfection. Perfection is only an idea. For most experts and many of the rest of us it has become a life goal. The pursuit of perfection may actually be dangerous. The type A person for whom perfectionism has become a way of life, is vulnerable to heart disease. Perfectionism can break your heart and all the hearts around you.

A perfectionist sees life as if it were one of those little pictures that used to appear in the newspapers over the caption “What’s wrong with this picture?” If you looked at the picture carefully you would see that the table only had three legs or the house had no door. I remember the, “Aha!” that these pictures evoked in me as a child. I wonder now why anyone would want to take such satisfaction in seeing what […]

July 10th, 2012|1 Comment