Dear Cherry Doctor

I get it.

You’re filled with good intentions and positive motivation, tempered only by long hours of clinic where your intelligence is constantly questioned and abilities doubted, after years of an exhausting and mentally challenging curriculum that you’ve managed to survive by sacrificing your social life, your youth, and your formerly skinny body to study sessions, a collection of notebooks and highlighters, and a regimen of coffee and chocolate.

When you tap on our clinic door and step inside with your smile and spiral-bound clutched to your chest, straight blond hair and wire-rimmed eyeglasses, you’re hoping for a positive interaction.  One that makes you glad of what you’ve sacrificed.

But this is the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at a Children’s Hospital, and everything about you pisses me off.

My 3-yr old daughter is coming out of anesthesia for an MRI of her heart. She’s got dangerous amounts of iron accumulated in it from so many life-saving blood transfusions, and right now, she can’t walk.  She can’t really even sit up.  She won’t eat.  She won’t drink.  She’s spent the last 40 minutes howling inconsolably to “go home,” refusing treats and distractions of every kind, but we can’t go home, because she needs another life-saving blood transfusion that’s going to pour more iron into her overburdened heart.  She sees you enter and automatically greets your perkiness with the sort of authenticity I can only dream of: “Stop talking!” She shouts. “Stop talking, Stop talking, stop talking, stop talking,” she intones.

So you and I step outside the curtain. We can still hear her repeating her unhappy mantra.

And you begin asking me stupid questions.

“She’s not feeling well coming out of the anesthesia?”


“I’m sorry.”

Yeah,” I reply, with a tight smile.  

Because you have no idea what it’s like to sing “Twinkle twinkle little star” over your daughter as her eyes grow big and panicked at the toxic-smelling gas, as you see her torn between wanting to trust you but starting to get scared, as she coughs and struggles for focus as you choke on the first word of the next verse, and quickly swipe away escaped tears (you didn’t want to cry! you wanted to be strong!) because you don’t want her to think anything’s wrong, and so you gather courage and stroke her hair and sing: “When the glorious sun has set, when the grass with dew is wet, then you show your little light, twinkle twinkle all the night…” And her eyes flutter unfocused and legs twitch as she stops fighting, and you hesitate to stop singing but now she’s sleeping, so you kiss her temple and leave, only to be called back into recovery to hear her screaming for you, IV in place for transfusion, anesthesia heavy on her breath, and she’s so out of it she doesn’t recognize you, even as you hold her and say, “it’s me, it’s mama, I’m here,” and you know she shouldn’t remember anything of the loud, rumbling, tunnel-like machine, or how her determined diaphragm needed extra drugs to be forced to quit, so they could hold her breath for her, and the MRI could take clear pictures…

Did she dream of being suffocated?

“She’s really low in blood,” you, the cherry doctor, inform me. “Hemoglobin of 6.9. Did you realize she was so low in blood?”

My eyes narrow.  “Yes,” I hiss.  The entire first floor of the hospital realizes she is low in blood.  Everyone in the lobby, waiting rooms, admissions, gift shop, coffee shop, cafeteria, valet, and garden area realizes, at the very least, that she is very, terribly distressed.

“Well, I mean…” you stumble.  “Has she had symptoms of low blood?”  

I am shocked by the stupidity of your question.  Of course she’s had symptoms of low blood!  She’s having them right now!  You interpret my dumbfounded expression as not knowing the symptoms of low blood.  You begin to list them.  “Irritability…” you suggest.

“Yes!” I cut you off.  You scribble something, likely ‘irritable,’ in your spiral-bound notebook, and it could mean me, but I know it means my daughter.  Your attempt to be clinical increases my fury.  You’ve memorized a few descriptor words to slide into your differential diagnosis.  Do you have any sense of their meaning?  Do you know what it’s really like to live with an anemic toddler?  No!

On the other side of the curtain, my daughter is still complaining (her blood for transfusion has not yet arrived) and I know her liver is also complaining about needing to detox all the anesthesia, but not having enough hemaglobin to do it.  I want to go to her.

“She has been irritable.” I snap. “Fatigued. Sleeping more. Pale. Not eating.  Not sleeping deeply or well.”  All the classic symptoms you’ve memorized but have never experienced, you ninny.  “I would’ve transfused her last Thursday if it weren’t for the MRI today,” I continue sharply. “We needed to do them together.”  I can’t help it.  Every word I speak is an accusation.

“Oh, right, ok.  Is she on any medications or supplements besides the iron chelator?” you ask.

And I’m about to lose my shit.

“She is on whatever you have in your notes.”  This isn’t my first rodeo, Cherry Doctor.  You aren’t the first Cherry to pretend you don’t know what she’s on!

“Oh, ok. So how much leucine is she taking?”

I take a deep breath and dive in. “Approximately 430 mg 3 times per day in milk, but she doesn’t always drink it all and I won’t force her on this one, so it’s sometimes half or a third that amount.” I am talking as fast as a horse race broadcaster. I step one step away from you.  You sway towards me.

“Oh, ok… and a… Chinese herbal … is it a solution?”

Cherry, you have no understanding of Chinese herbs. No education in them. Don’t know what they can do or don’t do. Don’t know how to dose them. Can’t even pronounce them. (I barely can.)  And you probably have all sort of ignorant opinions on how dangerous they are.  

I’ve discussed these herbs with my daughter’s regular, attending doctor.  I’m not about to discuss them with you.  And then another cherry next month. And then another.  At this point, I know the drill.  I know that I know far more about my daughter’s rare blood disorder and the world-wide treatment approaches than you or most of the other “specialist” cherry doctors will ever know.

“Yes. And no. It’s an herbal formula.” Again, I move to walk away.

“How much are you giving?”  And I’ll give you persistence.

“3 grams, 3 times a day,” I sigh in exasperation.   

And I know that doesn’t actually mean anything to you.  You wouldn’t know if that was high, low, or perfect dosage of a formula.  Because you don’t even know the names and dosage for the herbs in the formula.  You don’t even know what to ask me, that’s how little you know.

“Well,” you say, desperate to re-engage me in a way that restores your authority, “we won’t get the results of the MRI for a day or two, but when we do we will let you know and we can talk treatment decisions.”

No, Cherry Doctor. You and I aren’t making any decisions about anything.

But, “Alright thanks,” I say, dismissing you, and I slip back behind the curtain and onto my daughters hospital bed.  She’s got Disney’s “The Princess and the Frog,” playing, though she is too upset to watch it.  She immediately calms and quiets upon my return.  This time.

Cherry doctor, I know you will return later this afternoon, to put your stethoscope to my daughter’s heart (though it will tell you nothing useful) and palpate her abdomen (and that action will be fruitless and unhelpful, too).

The truth is, Cherry, you have nothing to offer my daughter.  The researchers who created safe blood transfusion and developed iron chelation medicine, the every-day heroes who donate blood, and the nurses who needle cleanly and swab with sanitization: they save my daughter’s life every month.  At this point, you doctors are almost useless. You have nothing to offer.

Especially you cherries.

You see, doctor, I know the truth:  my daughter is actually helping you. Educating you in rare, incurable disease.  And I’m kind of sick of doing it.

So maybe take a lesson from my daughter’s regular, attending hematologist.  He is relaxed. He is thoughtful.  He isn’t recording numbers and symptoms in a notebook as if it’s the sum of my daughters existence, as if he can quantify her and pronounce a verdict. No, he spends most of his time with us – 80 or 90% of it – talking Disney princesses.


Because he knows it’s all he can really offer.  With my daughter’s blood disorder, treatments are all probability and weighing lesser of evils.  He won’t walk in one day, feel her belly, listen to her heart, and exclaim that he knows how to cure her.  Talking princess is, really, all he can do.  It’s how he can best help her.

We will probably never see you again.  So, good luck, Cherry.  Yes, the moment you popped in, your very presence pissed me off.  You were doomed from the start.  And I made your rough day on this particular rotation a little tougher.  I don’t feel bad about it. And I’m not sorry.  But I don’t wish you ill.

I hope you learn well.  I hope you learn the human and clinical aspects of disease.  I hope you find balance and satisfaction in being the provider of treatment, the healer, and the humble side-liner, the helpless witness to life.

I hope that next time you’ll get assigned to an easier case. Or at least, an easier mom.

And most of all, I hope you don’t give up.  I hope you stay persistent, and that maybe, someday, you do help cure a rare disease.  No matter how bad it gets. How futile it feels. How unappreciated you feel.  How powerless and angry and sad.  Don’t give up.

Because I never will.



Bonds between you and everything else, everyone else, expand and contract in concentric circles depending upon levels of energy, awareness, and authentic communication.

All relationship moves through phases of growing towards (spring), fruition (summer), pulling away (fall), and separation (winter). Every relationship starts with the excitement of spring, builds to the joy of summer, experiences a falling apart during strains of autumn, and comes to a place of more or less separation, as though, dead, in winter.

These cycles will repeat themselves over and over, as long as you live, in all relationship. If you pay attention, you will see that you fall away from your partner when the time is right to grow individually again, and separation can be on many levels. If you are both working towards your soul or self actualization, when you come together again, the relationship will be on a higher plane, and spring and summer will be as wonderful as before. Knowing this, you will be able to let go in fall and still love from a respectful distance during winter.

Some people claim pride in bring together with the same person their whole lives. Others adhere to the principle of moving on with new folks, to start “fresh.” Neither way is important. You will always be stuck in the same relationship if you don’t give yourselves the chance to grow and evolve. The face, whether new or old, doesn’t matter. The relationship will simply repeat at its old resonance and patterns with the same or new person until you begin to see your relationships in this way. Going into fall and winter is sad and scary. Those are the emotions of fall and winter, and they are natural, because it is a death of sorts, and there are no guarantees about your next spring. Fearlessness, not the aggressive sort, but the courageous, honest, simple sort, is required if you wish to germinate the seeds for spring on a higher plane.

Challenges will continue to come as long as you are in relationship, the cycles continue as you move onto higher planes, and the challenges will likely become more intense. If you are experiencing it, it is because you are ready to try to handle it. If you do not succeed, do not worry. The challenge will simply repeat itself with that person, or with a new person in a slightly altered form, until you figure it out.

No, there is no such thing as not being in relationship. You are always in relationship with the world around you. And you are ultimately responsible only to yourself. You cannot blame others (they are on their own journey and its up to them how consciously they want to, or can, live any given moment) and it is not helpful to blame yourself. You are learning. It is pointless to toil over independence or dependence. You cannot do anything alone, and at the same time, you always do everything alone. It is up to you to create healthy relationships, and that means recognizing when it fall or winter.

You can choose whether or not to actively be in partnership. At its worst, if you let it, partnership can be very destructive, restricting your ability to be your highest self, and at its best, if you let it, it can be a shining mirror and springboard for self-realization.

The energy associated with a brilliant love connection is a fire energy. There are many people who create shifting bonds that never mature beyond the first fire. They think they are living “in the moment” as they move from new passion to new passion, but they do themselves disservice, for they lack the understanding of that moment’s connection to the larger fabric of universal time and space, which exists irrespective of form (or person).

A state of relationship exists where likeness of self is recognized in another, and sensual, romantic caring can blossom without limiting the autonomy of either person. Mutuality coupled with autonomy is the realization of the potential of human relationship. A relationship can only exist at this level with dedication and love in both parties for their own and each others evolution of self into highest being.

Clearing and creating space in partnership for this sort of cultivation and understanding is vital, for it is in this space that soul lessons are learned and evolution of self – illumination of self in other – occurs. Using relationship to develop such understanding is the true power of partnership. (It is the story of Devi and Shiva.)

Consider this: there is one god, one holiness, that flows through all. But how can god know god all by himself? He must divide into two, into three, into ten thousand things. Then, in each of those vastly different things, he can see and recognize an aspect of himself. In relationship, be it with plant, mineral, animal, or person, god is manifested, reflected, and realized.

The bodhisattva only exists because he hears the light in the unenlightened, and in assisting their transformation, is transformed himself. He cannot be without a mirror. This is why all teachers are actually taught; all students are simply unaware masters, and each true teacher is in deep awe and love for each student.

Namaste, little one. Thank you for being.



Yes, everything is connected.

How could it not be?

We accept that a loss of honeybees would mean destruction of ecosystems, the chain reaction that could spell our own destruction.

We accept that physical neurochemicals affect our thinking, our personalities even, and that our thoughts and personalities are reflected in our postures, possibly even in our diseases.

Yet so many people shy away from the larger implications of our mental-emotional-spiritual states to our physical heart, to our bodies, and to the heart and health of each other.

People say: “as above, so below” without any conception of what they are actually saying.

Just like: “we are all connected” becomes a slogan – yet, it is popular because when we hear it, we recognize a fundamental truth.

Our subconscious attracts us to things like that constantly, in its attempt to “wake” our conscious up, to get us to get our sh*t together. Such truths run through movie, after popular movie, after popular movie. The universe constantly inspires us to spit them back out: same message in varying forms. We yearn to hear these truths. We yearn to really know them, not to just intellectualize them.

But to know them requires life to be shaken up a bit.

Oh, people.

People can be very flippant in good times, and run very quickly away in the difficult.

It is much better to learn to relax in the difficult, so that neither the difficult or wonderful will make you want to crawl out of your skin.

Remember that everyone will struggle. Everyone will go through difficulty. Life is not meant to be charmed. We build up false expectations, especially in this society. Nothing we can do, no matter how careful we are, will insulate us from misfortune. The goal should not be to protect against calamity, but to learn more and to listen more (to your inner self first, and then others perspective second) and to become wiser, so as to be prepared to do what you can whilst surrendering to nature (god).

It is a balance, a floating. Feather in air and fin in water.

People create unrealistic plans that actually prevent them from being able to appreciate what’s happening now. Hardship allows us to see, allows us to glory in our blessings, in thanksgiving in the moment.

Do not get ensnared with plans, especially plans to escape current hardship. Let go of dreams, to live your dreams now, at the level you are prepared to handle them. You always have everything you need. When you are ready to move to the next level, it will present itself to you. This is true in all endeavors, in creative (artistic) passions, and it is especially true in love. If your path is difficult, you will have more opportunity to learn how to love. You cannot love if your heart is never challenged.

Once you realize great truths, you will receive many blessings. Then, you will receive many calamities. This will allow to bring those great truths to even higher realization.

Yes, there are always higher levels of realization.

You will always get exactly as much suffering as you can handle. If you want your soul to grow, accept suffering and blessings equally. They will rain down upon you. They will wax and wan, you will be called both extremely lucky and extremely ill-starred, and neither and both is true, for there is no stop-point in this motion picture.

Look around you. They are suffering too.

Look in and around you. You have exactly the support you need, exactly the tools necessary.

Start within yourself. Before you can help another man, before you can connect with anyone else, you must know what it is to be connected within yourself. You must at least taste the potential of these infinite connections. Allow yourself to be challenged in this. You could spend a lifetime simply learning your own landscape.

Remember, everything is connected. Hone your inner perception so you can learn to trust it in your dealings with the outer world. Your body – your unique blend of physical body, spirit, mind and emotion – is your ally in this adventure, but you must learn how to use it.

And there is simply no way to use it until you first learn that it exists.



Do not listen to people when they talk of good and evil.

Or rather, listen so that you may understand them, but do not believe them.

All is the hand of God.

How then, can there be evil?

There is only perceived isolation from One – be It called God, Love, Him, Allah, Jehovah, Goddess, Existence, Yahweh, Creative Force, I AM, Nature, Collective Unconscious, Spirit, or Universe – and what many call evil is only an illusion, from having forgotten how to listen to the whisper of the wind, the songs sung through the trees, echoed by birds and the soft tread of animals through leaves.

There is only learning, here. Everything is for your learning. Even the cruelty, the hate, the anger, the wars. Do not worry. Do not get caught up in wounds. Watch it all. Be very observant. It is for your learning.

Do not cling to anything, that is what is meant in Bhuddism, by non-attachment. When one love leaves, rejoice! It is because you are ready now, to have your heart opened to something or someone larger, a love on a higher plane. This is the way it is until death, when we are ready, finally, to know God in entirety.