Back To Writing

During the last three weeks, our lives have changed dramatically.  I’ll do my best to bring you up to date.  

While Lenette was doing a few mild exercises, she fell and broke her leg. Then, as I was waiting for her status report, I decided to go for a pizza. At the restaurant, Although I have no exact memory of this, I fell, hit my head, and fractured my right hip in almost the same place where Lenette broke her leg. Lenette was operated on the following morning. My injury did not require an operation.

We were both in the hospital for a week before being moved to a rehab center. While there, it was necessary to place Lenette in Hospice care. To receive the best care, we moved back to Summerset, the home we moved into about a month ago.

She is resting comfortably in a quiet state, and everything we can do is being done for her. The care she receives is soft and loving. The people who care for her are remarkable. I love them.

I sit with her for long periods. Sometimes, she knows I am there. She is a fighter and knows where she is at. For her, I will be okay. After seventy-plus years together, I think she knows me.   We always remember we are one, not two.

Now, it is only a matter of time, and we both know the inevitable. I am so grateful for a happening that had to be. We were here for each other. It was not chance but destined.  

It is not over, but it is close. She knows, and I know. How special is her life.

Why are we given life?—To be a gift to those we meet—What a gift is mine


A Poetic Interlude

How, Why, or When

The words come to me now and then. I never know how, why, or when.

But they come to me in any case. And words I do my best to not waste.

Words speak for us and tell who we are. So use each wisely—keep them close not far.

Each word is like paint on a brush, so take care. The words you use are the you, you share.

So, I seek them out and try hard to use them well. Sometimes, my use is such that I struggle like hell.

Some fit and some don’t, I need to know what is right. Makes me feel creative and bright.


Things happen, and then they don’t. Things happen and then they won’t.

But that’s life and the way things go. We think we can, but we cannot know.

We know the past, if in the present, maybe it. But for tomorrow, the light is not lit.

And that is our human issue. To know tomorrow is as fragile as tissue.

If this is true, live in the now. It is the gift of wisdom to know how.

Being present is the answer to how we must  be. Feet on the ground and not up a tree.

Head, body, the present all one piece.

And since you are present, confusion will cease.

Why Poetry?

It cuts to the core using words often that rhyme. I enjoy finding words that belong to me if l claim them as mine.

I use them because they fit what I need.  They are words that I feel and words that you read.

They tell you what I think and often what I feel. Word, not frill, but words that are real.

I mean they help shape what I mean. So important that words be clear and clean.

They need to fit in the picture I paint. Not random or what I aint.

It is me who speaks and writes these words. Not meant in general or only for nerds.

But for you and me, these are the words heard.


Biking In China

Telling the story of the Cuckoo Birds recalls another biking story (and we have a few). This one took place in China. This was a grueling trip where the ten bikers were all serious bikers, and 100 miles plus a day was not uncommon. That I kept up with them each day speaks to my competitive character and nature. “Anything you can do, I can do better!”

A young attorney from Houston was also a competitive biker wearing all the paraphernalia a serious biker wears: shorts, shirt, glasses, helmet, gloves, and shoes. He also rode an 18-gear mountain bike. As far as biking goes, that’s as good as it gets. We became buddies during long stretches of countryside whenever Lenette rode in the shag wagon for a while.

This trip took place soon after Tiananmen Square, so the Trip stayed mainly in the countryside and avoided the major cities. 

Bikes in China are like feet in the States. We all have feet, but in China, everyone has feet and bikes, and masses riding bikes flow everywhere. Needless to say, our bikes had to be touched and examined by everyone we encountered. I often gave my bike to the young and not-so-young to ride, and they did it with oohs and ahhs.

One evening, we biked out of a small village at about dinner time when many people were with us on the road heading home. A young man riding a single-gear bike rode up to my friend and motioned that he wanted to race up a long hill we were approaching.

My friend got the message, and the two of them began to accelerate, and away they went!

The hill was steep, but that was no problem for either of them. On his single-gear bike, the young man led at first but was soon caught by the young American. Neck and neck, they flew up the hill, neither giving an inch to the other. Hundreds of bikers, maybe thousands, became aware of what was happening and cheered their countryman up the hill. 

Left gasping for air, the young attorney lost by a few feet. They hugged each other, and the American gave his young Chinese competitor his colorful hat, which produced cheers from the crowd of onlookers and another hug from the Chinese competitor.  The competition was how the world ought to be. Honest competition and appreciation for those we compete with.

I try my very best—Sometimes I win, sometimes lose—Life is that way, too


The Coo-coo Experience

Many years ago, when I was traveling the country lecturing on power and leadership, Lenette took a job as a travel agent. This was so she could arrange my complicated flights and travel requirements.

Also, another reason for her taking the job was our desire to explore the world. Being in the travel industry made it possible and less expensive to go anywhere we wished, and we did!

We found we could go on a bike ‘n barge trip in France for pennies compared to the high price retail clients were charged. We jumped at the opportunity, and soon we had a cabin on the barge, an open bar, wonderful meals, a guide and lecturer, and brand-new road bikes. We were in heaven with eight other travelers from Texas, who all knew each other. 

The journey was for eight days along an old canal from Leone through magnificent countryside: castles, vineyards, farms, and thick wild forests. Each morning, we were given maps and the freedom to explore on our own or go with a guide to visit the castles and museums. After many such tours, Lenette and I wanted to explore the countryside ourselves.

Nature and wilderness have always been our preference, so we headed off while the others accompanied the guide. The map showed where the barge would be at the end of the day, so getting lost was impossible. We were totally on our own.

We arrived back at the barge for the cocktail hour and delicious food. That was the time to get to know our fellow bikers and guide. The guide went around the group, asking each of us about our day, what we learned, and things we wanted to share. What I shared was exploring the small villages and the wonderful experience we had in a thick forest. 

When we stopped biking for a water break, the stillness of the forest was suddenly broken by a 
coo-coo sound across the small valley. We had never heard a bird call like this, and it was definitely coo-coo, loud and clear. 

Suddenly, there was a response behind us, another coo-coo. We turned and saw a beautiful bird calling back to the other bird across the small valley. These two birds conversed back and forth for about 15 minutes, and we stood transfixed the whole time.

After sharing that experience, the guide looked at us strangely and said that our experience with the birds was rare. Few people ever hear the birds call to each other. Most only know the sound through recordings, and nearly no one actually sees them! What a rare and precious moment.

What followed made the bike ‘n barge a whole different trip for the rest of the journey. For the rest of the trip, the group of eight friends and working companions from Texas went with us as we explored the countryside, villages, and forests. Every evening on our return, we enjoyed huge banquets with local foods from the small towns. We and the Texans lived it up. 


Exceptional People

I want to write today about exceptional people. They are dramatically different from each other but so alike in their relationships with us. I rarely mention names and will not do so here, but they will know whom I speak.

We are old, and there are more things we can’t do than we can do. In fact, we are in need of so many things that feeling helpless is not unreasonable. Examples abound: Lenette uses a walker to go everywhere. I don’t and still walk on my own.

Thankfully, these special individuals step in to help us when and where needed. They go to the market for us. They take us to medical appointments. If necessary, they hear, see, and speak for us.

There is no tension between us. As for myself, I know I need help just meeting the demands of the moment.

They are there when I need them, and I am very appreciative. I accept that I’ve transitioned from being independent to becoming codependent.

Lenette struggles to keep her independence. Obviously, there is no “give in” with her, and she fights a continuing battle with her frailness. I Accept, more easily, my friends stepping in for me. My problems are less psychological than Lenette’s. 

I have my writing and poetry as an outlet. That my mind is such that I continue to have this available to me is a gift that I accept and value. This is how I feel towards my friends and caregivers because this is what they give and do for me.  In other words, I am able due to Lenette and my friends. I have been there for people. And now, they are there for me.

You give me my life—Today I am because of you—Thank you my dear friends



 When I was about 18 years old and left camp, I started to develop a tremor in my hand. It wasn’t very serious, so I ignored it. But as I got older, it became worse. My tremor got so bad that I couldn’t dress myself. In particular, I couldn’t button my shirts. Then I discovered that my younger sister, Cindy, who never went to Camp Shasta, had the same tremor.

Perhaps only a few can appreciate the difficulty I experienced in the essential function of getting dressed. Confronting this, my sister Cindy and I adapted different methods. She bought slip-over shirts. I sought a simple machine to help me with buttons and found one on Amazon. It takes a while, but now I can button my own shirts.

As we age, we can face intellectual and physical challenges. There are always ways of approaching them. For example, I was driving in Oakland a few weeks ago and found myself lost and in a lot of pain. I pulled over to the side of the road and addressed my pain with meditation. When I said, “Siri, take me home,” my phone guided me home (Android phones have a similar virtual assistant). What I’m suggesting is there are ways to solve the problems that may present themselves.

What does this have to do with camp?  Sy always brings up the incident when he cut down a tree that crashed onto my cabin, destroying the A-frame. Sy worked really hard to put the cabin in livable order before our group returned from our hike.  Sy always remembers this, yet I hardly do. It occurred to me that it disturbed Sy more than it bothered me.

 I wasn’t bothered because I felt safe. My group and I were determined to figure it out and knew we would be OK. Looking back, Sy felling that tree on my cabin was a good thing! It taught me that I could overcome just about anything. Sometimes, I might need help, but I can always find a way.

That was my short course on how to take lemons and make lemonade. It might take some problem-solving and the help of others, but for the most part, I’ve made it work. We can overcome many of the challenges we encounter at every stage of our lives. I suggest that we can all figure out ways to get past them. No matter how bad they appear in the moment, they’re not unlike all of the challenges we’ve faced before.

Nature Or Nurture?

A question came up during a discussion about the issue of adoption. My dear friend was adopted and sought his roots. I have no problem with seeking out one’s original parents and family. I told him that I believe blood is not an essential part of who a person is and becomes.

I firmly believe we are who we are primarily because of relationships, beginning with those who have adopted the child. They make the child what they will become, not their blood parents.

From my hands-on experience, I know that my influence as a psychologist, teacher, and camp director was (and is) considerable. As an old guy, I am blessed to be visited by people who were children at my camp in the 50s and 60s. Staff members and even the professionals and entrepreneurs I worked with for the past 35-plus years still visit.

I am told of my influence on them, and I am fully aware and grateful for their influence on me. I became a better mentor and grew as a person because of the trust and closeness we had between so many of us. And what of the benefits to their staff and family? That was the reason I was invited to be part of their lives.

Without question, I know the experience and power certain relationships have on their participants. It makes or breaks them. Nowhere in this is blood involved.

The love and time we give to those we live and work with is all about our power to empower. As a leader, the good and the bad come out. Nothing is hidden, and all is influenced.


Inside Relationships

The subject of relationships is important to me. It must be due to my history, beginning with all eight of our family members, including myself, living in crowded apartments. It is the foundation of who and what I became—a teacher, a facilitator, a peacemaker, and a leader of leaders.I did not make any of me. I was made by my relationships with my parents, sister, and three older brothers.

So, what are the complex ingredients that make relationships so important?  

Dialogue may be first in importance: brief disagreements never hurt those in relationships that work well and who are present with each other if each is hearing and doing their best to understand what is being said. Hearing leads to confirming, which is not agreement but understanding. Honesty is what those in quality relationships experience. At these times, all are together in maximum equality. There is no leader, no follower, but people in a relationship.

When a leader takes charge, the relationship changes; dialogue does not exist; instead, there is only monologue. Then, it becomes the leader’s responsibility to “empower” the other, which means recreating dialogue. No environment is as productive to relationships as the “Level Playing field.” Empowering this is the job of parents, couples, teachers, and leaders of every kind. They are responsible for the environment and relationships that empower, equalize, and nurture the best possible relationship between people.