Category Archives: In the World

“The Decade of Tending”

View of the Lake, Nov. 2010
Oh, what a difference a decade can make. I still remember waking to this ethereal view of Lake Quinault on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula my first morning back in the states following five months at Maher in India.
Nov. 2010.

I can’t exactly recall when I began the practice of “naming the year” but there have been many names over many years. This past December, when I sat quietly waiting for what might come, I was surprised when The Decade of Tending” rose.

It never occurred to me to name an entire decade. And, yet, important things take time. Trees grow slowly. Lives unfold. Musicians practice.

And then there’s the topic of “tending.” It’s a word I’m drawn to and one that I never defined precisely. According to an online source known as The Collins COBUILD Dictionary, tending means “to care for” and “nourish.” That resonates with my EXPERIENCES of tending and being tended.

I claim no tending expertise and look forward to learning and living into what “tending” means in the coming year and beyond. Tending myself, my loved ones, my communities, the work, past-times and travel I engage in, and our Planet does seem, however, to be a positively splendid and worthy way to spend a decade.

With gratitude,


Quiet Beauty

When Wandering Takes You Far

I love to wander.  It clears my head.  And it grounds me. 

Recently, I got to wander on the beach in Pacifica.  It was almost 5 p.m. and the box speaker that had been pumping music out across the waves stood silent.  The cove community had scattered – drawn elsewhere by the need to nap or tend to dinner, children, or work-week preparations.


For nearly an hour, the only occupants of this achingly beautiful stretch of shore were me, two crabs and a handful of surprisingly quiet gulls.  I felt staggeringly lucky to be the only one of 7.7 billion humans on planet Earth standing there feeling the waves wash over my feet.

My toes sunk deeper into the sand.  I walked up and down, and back and forth the unusually deserted beach feeling the water pull on the sand beneath my feet.  The owner of the hushed speaker fetched it wordlessly.

When, at last, I perched on a rock to rest, its stockpile of heat rose up through me.  The sun was dropping fast across the waves.  Facing it, filled by it, I sat.  A couple wearing parkas walked across the horizon toward the far end of the beach and to my right, a woman with a “half-full” glass caught my eye and waved.  When I looked back, her husband was sitting beside her holding her hand.

Respite Glow

Now we were five.  I wondered if I should feel lonely or if I had been adrift on the beach too long when the sun, framed by wings of clouds, pulled my gaze back.   

When I finally rose, remnants of light were still washing over us.  I clambered over the rocks toward the row of clapboard houses on stilts.  To my left, a group of neighbors sat laughing as the sun dropped past the horizon at last. 

The next day we would go into the city, stroll through the Japanese Garden in Golden Gate Park, enjoy a scrumptious lunch at Burma Superstar.  My wandering heart still warm, my soul smiling.

Here’s a 13-second peace break just for you. Enjoy ~

International Women’s Day Appreciations

My favorite holiday — International Women’s Day — seems like the ideal time to uplift and celebrate women who have profoundly impacted my life.  While the full list of women I should celebrate would be much longer, the smart, talented, strong women below are the ones who came to mind this year.

I’ve been blessed to share experiences with Marta Nieves in Omaha, Chicago and India.

Marta Nieves, “my first mentor,”  whose ground-breaking work at UnitedHealthcare of the Midlands gave me a refreshing new view of organizational development and cultural competence.  Her uncomfortable observation that I had been raised to be a “really nice girl” gave me pause and set me on a firmer path toward self-actualization.  Thank you, Marta!

Rosie Tingpalpong worked with Marta and I at UnitedHealthcare of the Midlands.  We also worked side-by-side at the Institute for Career Advancement Needs (ICAN).  Smart, competent and trustworthy, Rosie called me on my tendency to micromanage and was a steadfast mirror as I worked to break this unhelpful habit.

Former Catherine Place directors Sr. Peg Murphy and Judy Mladineo join friends on Catherine’s Place’s front porch to bid farewell to visitors from Maher in India.

Judy Mladineo served as Associate Director and moved to Executive Director during my time at Catherine Place in Tacoma.  She displayed exceptional compassion at every turn and embodied and upheld feminist ideals in her life and in her work in a way I had never experienced.  Her wise, comfortable presence, and collaborative spirit allowed space in which the new — such as Juntas en Transicion and the We-Can & Si, Se Puede Circles — could be born.

Peg Murphy was director of Catherine Place when we began offering the We-Can & Si, Se Puede Circles.  Watching Peg in action is like watching a saintly, seasoned, social services Jedi.  She taught me the power of healthy collaboration, secure community, and faith in action.  In my mind, she’s a big reason why in her words, “Miracles happen every day at Catherine Place.”

Donna Lambdin, founder of Maha Methods, is both teacher and healer.  At her urging, I trained in both Usui and Karuna Reiki.   Time with Donna and members of the healing community she formed cemented my commitment to the health, healing and well-being of myself, others, and the earth.

The work of Maher Founder Sr. Lucy Kurien and Maher Board Chair Hirabegum Mulla brings hope, wisdom and joy to people in India and around the world.

Sr. Lucy Kurien had been leading Maher in India for 13 years when our daughter and I arrived at the organization’s unpretentious office in June 2010.  She has been a great teacher for me in overcoming loss, perseverance in extreme adversity and compassion.  I marvel at Sr. Lucy’s elegant ability to unwind complex human dramas in a way that preserves dignity.  Her creation of the Interfaith Association for Service to Humanity and Nature exactly 20 years after Maher’s  inspires me to “think big” and “hold fast to my vision.”

Hirabegum MullaMaher’s board chair, is my favorite person to ride through the teeming streets of Pune, India with at the end of a long day.  Her infectious laugh fills all around her with pure joy and she sees and holds life’s humor and sorrow with candor and grace.  Observing Hira taught me much about how to support and collaborate with visionaries committed to models and methods that produce life-affirming change.

Zumbir and I Celebrating Maher’s 20th Anniversary

Zumbir, an experienced Maher housemother,  effortlessly managed a home with 23 children and one U.S. visitor (me) during my three-month stay.  Capable, positive and strong, she dramatically increased my understanding of what it means to live in community.

Our daughters and my Mom when Lynne received her doctorate degree.

My mother, Pat Helmke, and our daughters, Lynne Clure and Cara Clure.  My mother gave her love, her feedback and devoted tens of thousands of hours to my success.  Our daughters remain the greatest gifts and most powerful teachers in my life.