Tuesday, April 26, 2022

From Woods to Home to Placebos


I'm home from my cabin in the woods, and the irony is I moved out.


Not out out, as in leaving home, but I moved my office from the living room (where I had my desk) to the Wayback. The Wayback is an auxiliary building that's beyond our backyard lawn. Once, it was a dance studio with mirrors on the walls. For us, it was a shop and a storage unit. It now holds my office. 


First came the junk-be-done phase. Then the fixing up phase.


I put down a rug, bought fabric for panels, and curtained off an area. I have been preoccupied for the past week with fixing up my little hole. And now, I have a desk by a window, and a curtained bubble to hold in heat.


 The irony is that at 7 a.m. this morning, the sun hit me smack-dab in the eyes and wiped out my view of the screen. And my coffee didn't stay hot past two sips.


Most projects take some fine-tuning.



It appears that my excursion into the woods kicked me into action.  


"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."— Henry David Thoreau. 


So, what is living deliberately?


For me, it's stepping out of the footprints I walked in yesterday. It is consciously deciding rather than reacting. It is living rather than enduring. 


If that sounds lofty, remember I went to the woods for only two days, Thoreau went for I don't know how long. Maybe I dare not stay longer—I might move to another country.


While at the cabin, I read Joe Dispenza's book You are Your Own Placebo. As I have mentioned in other blogs, I am interested in how the brain works and how we change beliefs. The Placebo effect is further evidence of the power of the mind.


An off sung phrase is, "If you don't take command of your own through processes, someone will do it for you." And, in clearing out files, I found a quote by Terry Cole-Whittaker: "Misery is a business plan."


First, you give a person a problem, then offer a solution. It works.


Yes, and a woman needs to have a new outfit for every occasion. 


Buy more clothes. 


And here I wanted to talk about Placebos, which intrigue me, for it's another window into the workings of the mind. 


Some say the Placebo effect is all in your mind, thus trivializing its miracle. "It happens," doctors say, "cancer goes into remission." They have discounted the mind-change the person went through to change their physiology. 


When a doctor tells a patient they have three months to live, they are usually dead in three months.   


One night Joseph McClendon III came home around midnight after a seminar. As he fiddled with his keys trying to get into the house, he heard his answering machine come on. 


His sister's hysterical voice came over the answering machine, "Momma's in the hospital."


He ran to the phone and called her back, but she had already left, so he got in the car and drove the 180 miles to the LA hospital.


When he got there, his sister was holding her baby and crying.

Mother was in surgery.


When the doctor came in, he was solemn. He informed them that McClendon’s mother had cancer. They took out part of a tumor but left the other part in for to remove it would kill her. The doctor told Joseph she had "Two months to live."


Joseph remembered what #Deepak Chopra had said. "If a doctor tells a patient they have two months to live, they will be dead within those two months."


Joseph told the doctor. "Don't tell her."


"But I have to."


"No, you don't. You can tell my mother she has cancer, but do not tell her she has two months to live."


"I must."


"No, you don't."


Back and forth, they went with the sister and her baby crying. Finally, Joseph grabbed the doctor's shirt and said, "Don't tell her!"


"I'll call security."


Joseph knew about L.A. police pat-down, and here he was, a black man. He released his hold.


So, Joseph wondered what to do—get to momma before the doctor. Then remembering what # Norman Cousins did to heal himself, Joseph ran out, bought a VCR and a pile of funny movies.


He ran to the room where momma was still unconscious and discovered she had a roommate. "Things will be happening around here," he told the woman, "you can either stay or move to another room."


Timidly she said, “I’ll stay.”


For two weeks in the hospital, Joseph and his mother laughed at funny movies. "Oh, stop," she would say, laughing. When the doctor came in, Joseph took up his arms-folded glaring stance.


The doctor never told her.


She lived for another 11 years.


I wonder how her roommate faired.


During WWII, morphine was often scarce or absent in MASH units. Dr. Henry Beecher, an American surgeon faced the problem of no morphine and a severely injured soldier. As he stood deliberating on what to do, and afraid the soldier would go into cardiovascular shock without a painkiller, a nurse walked into the room, and gave the soldier a shot. The doctor did the surgery with little discomfort to the soldier. Later, Dr. Beecher found that the nurse had given the man saline water. 


This experience led the doctor to study the effects of a Placebo. 


One take from Despenzia's book that astounded me is that it isn't just mind over matter. The body has a pharmacy and can produce the chemicals it needs to recover. 


Antidepressants are an excellent example of this phenomenon. Doctors have found that a sugar pill works as well or better than an antidepressant pill.


The trick is, how do you fool yourself? You know you have some ailment. You know you are taking a sugar pill. Do you believe it will heal you?


Just two days ago, a friend told me that her little girl was born with asthma. They tried everything the doctor prescribed or suggested. Nothing worked. Enter a new friend who was going to a naturopath. They decided to take the little girl to the naturopath. Her asthma disappeared.


The doctors concluded that she grew out of it. 


"Science is the language of mysticism," says Dr. Joe Despenzia.


The moment we begin talking in the language of religion or culture or metaphysics, we lose half of our audience. 


Science demystifies the mystical. 


Now we have the science of epigenetics, which says that genes can turn on and off. We have  neuroplasticity which says that environmental forces can alter the brain's ability to form new synapses, and that changes our DNA. On top of it all is the brain, our master controller.


How do we jump into the fray and control our own destiny?


It boggles my mind.


More on this later…



Tuesday, April 19, 2022

The Birds and the Bees


As I sit at the window in the cabin in the forest—a rented cabin, not mine, on this Tuesday, April 12, I am watching great gobs of snow that were heavy on the fir branches a moment ago plummet to the ground. The resultant "Plop" awakens my little dog, trying to sleep on the couch.


 A view from my window.


Oh, here come the flakes again—little white fairies slowly drifting to the ground. I am mesmerized. How do they fall while maintaining a distance from the other? Each flake is synchronized like birds in flight. Although the flakes are on a trajectory, the birds can do right turns or left with split-second timing. I figure there is a commander bird with a radio headset giving instructions to the flock via their headsets.


(My physicist husband will tell me that the flake's distance from each other has something to do with the moisture in the air.) I guess each has its own little packet of moist air around it, as some trees emit a deterrent to keep other trees from crowding in too close, allowing each to his own space. 


My own space is one reason I came here. 


There goes the newly plowed road the tractor made about 5 minutes ago. The snow is stacking up.


And I thought it was spring.



But this is fun, and I came to be among the big trees, so here I am. The weather can do whatever. This is my Artist's Date to follow Julia Cameron's suggestion as something people should take every so often to recharge their batteries. She suggested a weekly date—doing something fun, but I took it to the extreme and took two days. She goes to the pet store and pets the enormous bunny they keep on the premises. First, she asks, "Can I pet Howard?" 


"You have to ask Howard," they say.


"He always says yes.


About a week ago, I watched a friend's video where she mentioned the pollination of the forest. Wait a minute, I don't know how the pines and firs pollinate, and I took Botany in college.  I knew about flowering plants, but conifers are gymnosperms, non-flowering plants, how do they grow pollen?

 (My classes were in California, maybe they skipped the conifer lecture.)

 Gymnosperms include conifers, pines, firs, ferns, mosses, and lessor forms like lichens. Angiosperms are the flowering plants.)


Ferns and mosses have spores on their leaves and thus send babies into the world. But Pines? Where does the pollen come from if they have no flowers?


This morning I found that conifers have male cones and female cones. The male cones don't look like the woody cones we commonly call pine cones but are more furry cones that come in the spring on the tree's lower branches. Why lower? 

So they generally do not pollinate their own tree, thus allowing genetic diversity. Instead, the pollen is carried by the wind to other trees. (Perhaps you have parked in the forest to find your car covered with yellow powder—that is pollen.  


It takes two years from the time pollen finds a female cone to it making pine nuts. You have probably seen a pine cone where the scales look glued together. They

 have not yet opened for that pollen can enter. 


After a time, the scales open and an ovule is fertilized, and two seeds mature between the scales. After that, the pine cone falls to the ground. Some ingenious designer created the pine cone so it would bounce and thus disperse its seeds. Since the pine nuts are delicious, critters collect them and bury them for a future meal. Sometimes the animal will forget where they buried some of their seeds, or maybe they had more than they could eat and left some. In that manner, animals plant trees.


Forgive me for the science reminder, but I am in awe that seemingly dead branches bud and develop flowers and leaves every spring. Ground plants make their way through the soil, the grasses turn green, and the world awakens. The plants feed us, give us wood for fuel and shelter, and oxygen for our bodies. We, in turn, provide them with carbon dioxide. What a system.


And this system can remind us, as Eckhart Tolle so eloquently explained, that a "Flowering of Consciousness" can appear in people too. 


See, I flipped from being a biologist to being a preacher.  


Imagine a time when there were no flowers, and then one day, a lonely little blossom appeared. Soon others came, and the forest exploded into color. Insects were attracted to the fragrance emitted by the flowers. Birds came because of plentiful food, as did bees and hummingbirds. (They star apart, though, for hummingbird's little body can't take a bee sting.) came where the bees weren't to drink their nectar and thus disperse the pollen. The flowers accommodate each, specializing in hummingbird flowers and bee flowers. The bees leave behind honey. The hummingbirds leave behind beauty. The flowers make fruits. 


 What a system.


Now I will spend some time contemplating why I really came to the woods.


See ya next week.

Love ya,



Good Morning



Monday, April 11, 2022

Do you Ever Hear THE VOICE?

You know the one.


The one that says you can’t do whatever you decided you were going to do.


Not clean the house or mow the lawn—you know you can do that. You just don’t want to. 


It’s the creative endeavor I am talking about.


Build a She-shed or a Man-cave in the backyard?

It’s too much work, will cost too much, and I l don’t know. 


Want to paint?

Well, I’m crummy at it. It will take too long for me to get any good. Everybody else is so much better than me.


Want to write?

Ha. Who do you think you are?


Want to learn a musical instrument?

Well, it’s too late for me now.


The Italics represents THE VOICE.



Since writing is my chosen mode of expression—besides talking and yelling at the dogs to stop barking, I know that almost everybody writes like most everybody walks. Even if you are not a budding (or indeed an accomplished) fiction or non-fiction narrative writer, most of us have emails to answer. If you are a business owner, you have copy to write, and since most businesses these days are expected to have a blog, you have that sitting in the to-do file.


For writers, that blank white page looks as immense as a football field. Yet, you have to get something out. You need to respond to a customer, and while you want to jump on their head and pound them into the ground like a stake, you need to be friendly and meet their needs.


(Once, when my first-born child was little, I said to her, “If you don’t stop that, I’m going to jump all over you.”


Very calmly, thoughtfully, she said, “You can’t jump on my head.”


Of course, she got a laugh, a hug, and a kiss for that one.)


Back to the voice…


“You can’t do it.”

“You’re not smart enough.”

“Who wants to read your stuff anyway?”

“You might as well give up.”

“It’s hopeless.”


It’s not that you don’t have anything to say or that you’re stupid. Neither is it that nobody wants to read your stuff. It is, according to Steven Pressfield, RESISTANCE. (Otherwise known as procrastination.) And, of course, you are not supplying what your readers want--there's always that little challenge. However mainly they don't tell you so it's a crap shoot.


“If I could implant one solitary thought in the brains of every struggling soul on the planet, it would be this:

That negative, self-sabotaging voice you hear in your head is not you.

Those thoughts are not yours.

They are Resistance.

Everyone hears that same voice.”—Steven Pressfield.



Why the negative likes to get hold of us is beyond me, but we know it’s true, for we have experienced it. And I’ve heard that even those illustrious high-paid writers are visited by the VOICE every once in a while.


First of all, stop comparing yourself to others.


And if you think you have no original thoughts or that everything that can be said has, read what Anna Quindlen has to say:


“Every story has already been told. Once you’ve read Anna Karenina, Bleak House, The Sound and the Fury, To Kill a Mockingbird, and A Wrinkle in Time, you understand that there is really no reason to ever write another novel. Except that each writer brings to the table, if she will let herself, something that no one else in the history of time has ever had.”


Last week after listening to an interview by Julia Cameron on Marie TV, I wrote a brief blog post on www.bestdamnwritersblog.com


Cameron’s bookThe Artist’s Way, is in its 30th Anniversary year and still going strong.


Because of Cameron’s comments, I felt empowered to do the Morning Pages, take that walk, ask for guidance, and go on my Artist’s date. (Her Four Core tools.)


See, that will keep you so busy you won’t have time to listen to THE VOICE.


Tomorrow I am taking my artist date to the extreme and going to a cabin in the woods. Can you see me that sitting on the front porch in my Mukluks for this morning I got a note from the owner saying I might encounter SNOW. 


Ha ha has, don't tell me the Universe doesn't have a sense of humor. I thought it was spring.


But, isn’t it cute?


See ya later.

You know I love each and every one of you.



P. S. A reader (bless her heart) read both The Incredible Yellow School Bus and A Journey Into Inner Earth and found a typo in both. (I just can’t help myself.) One was here meant to be her. In Inner Earth, I left out two words, the and year. (Kindle said I had no spelling errors, but I can find a way to slip something past their watchful eye. Too bad my muse acted like the surgeon who said, “You close.” And I goofed something up. That’s the reason I’m not a surgeon.)


I’m not going to beat myself up. I corrected my mistakes, and no one's body was injured. and that's the reason we need someone else's eyes on our work besides our own. We know what we mean to say so well our eyes glaze over.


And, dear readers, I welcome critiques. (Click on book to see it on Amazon) And please notice, I'm jewell d.


Tuesday, April 5, 2022


 I don't know why this impacted me so.


I've lost pets, and I've grieved over them. However, when I checked in again to www.dailycoyote.net. I was impacted a second time over the loss of Charlie, the coyote. And for Shreve Stockton, who is still grieving. 


Charlie was almost fourteen years old, a good age for a coyote, and he lived a happy life on the farm with Shreve, Mike, her partner, a hound dog named Chloe, and Eli, a tomcat. 


And I found that Shreve had taken a year off from writing. 


I have followed Shreve's site since reading her book, My Daily Coyote in 2009. She was riding a Vespa from San Francisco to New York when she stopped in Wyoming and found a home. She made it to New York but went back to Wyoming, where she fell in love with the land and a man. When her partner brought home an orphaned coyote pup after his mother had been shot for killing sheep, she had a family. That family expanded to another dog, two cats, numerous cows, and chickens. And the one coyote who entered the fray as one of the gang. 


Someone wrote that this story wouldn't have a happy ending. They thought the coyote would eat the cat and bite Shreve's face off while she slept, but Charlie cuddled with the cat and dog, and they frolicked and played together. When Charlie was sick, a magpie came to Shreve. As magpies were not familiar in that area, she felt it was Eli, who came to help Charlie transition to the other side, or maybe it was to help Shreve.


Over the years, I worried that he might get shot, but he lived to a good age and died of natural causes. The story ended sadly, but his legacy lives on, and his life was happy.


Thousands of people fell in love with Charlie. And a ten-day-old, eyes-not-yet open coyote pup became a phenomenon.


I thought of how we become embroiled in other people's lives, and although Charlie was a real flesh and blood animal, I only knew of him through Shreve's magic words and photos. She is an excellent photographer and began taking a picture a day of Charlie and sending them to friends who sent them to friends. And with the blog and a nod from Rosie O'Donnell, it got national attention. And I know Charlie and Shreve more intimately than some acquaintances in real life.


Fiction can be that way as well, for we know the characters in ways real people will not share. We know their thoughts and feelings. We ache with them, are embarrassed with them, and take joy in their joy. I remember reading that in England, when Jo, a character in the novel Little Women, died, the country went into mourning.



For a fun read, check out, A Journey into Inner Earth by jewell d on amazon.com



SCUBA, whales, a school bus, six kids, and a journey to the North Pacific and into a land inside the earth. (A review would be lovely.)