2017 in Review

DSCN3189

Copalis Beach, Washington

2017 was a busy year with lots of things coming together and many things nationally and globally falling apart. I added a new piece to my job at the VA this year. I am speaking now, not as a federal employee, but as an independently licensed health care provider. I have a 20% position with the national VA Office of Patient Centered Care & Cultural Transformation as a Whole Health Education Champion. You can learn more about the VA Whole Health program here. This job entails traveling to different VAs throughout the country and learning how to teach the several courses the Office promotes. I traveled to Madison, Minneapolis, Little Rock, Boston, and New Jersey and I will be going to Nashville later this month. I continue working in Primary Care Mental Health Integration at the Primary Care Clinic in Seattle. With the University of Washington I have moved from an Acting role to an Assistant Professor this past year.

I continue my work with Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow), and we are well into the work of our next book which should likely be out later in 2018. Joseph is a continual joy and inspiration to work with and is often sending artwork and ideas for us to use in the next book. We easily have enough material for several more books. Another piece of news is that Walking the Medicine Wheel is being published in Vietnamese! I have yet to see the book, though. This is very important as the land and people of Vietnam and the Vietnam War are intimately intertwined with so many of our veterans’ lives and the history of the United States.

DSCN2787 (2)

Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow) walking into his garden dome to perform Arbor Day Ceremony, April, 2017

I did a book tour, of sorts, for Walking the Medicine Wheel: Healing Trauma & PTSD. I made the trip back down under and saw some old friends and made some new ones, too. I took off from Seattle, almost missed my connection in Honolulu and landed in Sydney, Australia on September 13th, 2017. I went there for the biannual Australasian Doctors Health Conference, my fourth time presenting (I blogged earlier about this here). The conference was held at Luna Park, an amusement park in North Sydney with a great view of the city. My mate, Hilton Koppe, and I presented a workshop “The Hero’s Journey of the Healer,” that used Joseph Campbell’s concept of the hero’s journey to look at burnout and mentoring in health care workers. I also presented “Circle Medicine,” bringing together the holistic approaches of the medicine wheel, the VA circle of health, and my earlier work with Re-humanizing Medicine. It was great hanging out with Hilton and co-presenting with him, it was an extra treat when he stopped through Seattle on his way to some conferences in October. Here is a link to one of Hilton’s written pieces.

IMG_20170915_175307333_HDR

View from my hotel in North Sydney, looking out at Luna Park (lit up), the Harbour Bridge, and Sydney.

I was also able to meet Father Gerry Arbuckle, whom I had been corresponding with for a few years via email. As well as being a Catholic priest, he has a PhD in applied cultural anthropology. He is the Co-director of the Refounding and Pastoral Development program. Gerry wrote a book called Humanizing Healthcare Reforms (2013) that I found very helpful in writing my Re-humanizing Medicine book. Gerry was also kind enough to write an endorsement of Walking the Medicine Wheel. His book Fundamentalism: At Home and Abroad is highly relevant to understanding political movements in the United States and throughout the world. I wrote a review of that book that can be found here. Gerry is from New Zealand, originally, and has now lived in Australia for many years. His next book is on loneliness and picks up on themes from his book on fundamentalism. He and I had a great chat, over 4 hours, and I hope we have a chance to meet again before long.

IMG_20170918_131621903_HDR

Berkelouw Books, Sydney

Dr. Asha Chand organised a talk for me at Western Sydney University (see earlier blog on this here). It was great to meet faculty and staff there and have a chance to talk about “Caring for Self & Others” which is an adaptation of Re-humanizing Medicine. My friend, Laura Merritt, in Seattle has done a lot of work with me on putting together a workbook version that I drew on for that presentation. WSU recorded the talk and Asha has said we can share the links to the talk for anyone who is interested:

Caring For Self & Others, Part 1Part 2, Part 3

After Australia, I flew over to Auckland, New Zealand and straight away met up with some of my best friends. I did a talk called “Life After Rehab,” at Buchanan Rehabilitation Centre, where I served as Clinical Director during my time in New Zealand. I also did a book talk at Time Out Books, where a group of us used to meet monthly for the Auckland Holistic Writer’s Group.

IMG_20170923_153150935_HDR

View from Te Pane o Horoiwi (Achilles Point), St. Heliers, Auckland, New Zealand

My next stop was somewhere I have never been, but have wanted to travel to: Fiji. I flew into Nadi airport on the Northwest of Viti Levu, caught a short flight to the Southwest, to Suva. Dr. Neeta Ramkumar met me there and she had organised a talk and workshop for me at the University of the South Pacific. The talk was called “The Transformational Power of Stories in Clinical Work, Teaching, and Community Building,” and the following workshop was “Bringing Ancient Traditions of the Hero & the Warrior into Modern Day Life.” I very much enjoyed meeting all the wonderful people of Fiji and the University of South Pacific and felt honored to be able to speak there.

Bringing Ancient Traditions

Finally, I had a bit of a break from the speaking tour and from all the busy socializing with friends. I took a 45 minute boat trip out to Leleluvia Island and just relaxed. I snorkeled twice a day at the reef just off the island. I walked around the island several times and also kayaked around once. Such a beautiful place! I’ll share some of the photos from the trip and I hope you enjoy them!

After Leleluvia, I went back through Suva, hired a car, and drove back to Nadi, seeing the Sri Siva Subramaniya temple (which was scaffolded under construction), but I still walked around and had a nice lunch there. I also stopped for a walk through the Garden of the Sleeping Giant with its orchids prior to heading to the airport, flying back through LAX and to Seattle.

This next year promises to be quite busy again with travel: Nashville, Portland OR, Madison, and back to the Boston area two more times. Joseph Rael and I continue to work toward peace and world peace. As Joseph says, “A lot of people have tried to bring about peace, and it hasn’t worked! But you and I are too far into it to stop now, so we’ll have to keep going.” May you find peace in your heart and in your life this coming year, and may we all have some peace in this world that seems so focused on the opposite of peace at this current point in history.

IMG_20170930_115518759_HDR

South coast of Viti Levu

DSCN3198

Copalis Rock, Washington Pacific Coast

Australasian Doctors Health Conference, Sydney, Australia, Sept. 15-16, 2017

I recently returned from a trip to Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji. I started in Sydney, Australia at the Australasian Doctors’ Health Conference. The conference was held at Luna Park in North Sydney with a great view of the city and the opera house.

IMG_20170915_175307333_HDR

View of Luna Park (lit up below bridge) from the North Sydney Harbourview Hotel

I did two presentations at the conference. The first was a workshop co-facilitated with my mate, Hilton Koppe, called The Hero’s Journey of the Healer, where we looked at burnout as a necessary stage of the healer’s journey and also at the important role that mentors can play on the journey. We also made a distinction between instructors (who train you to do the technical job) and mentors (who help you find yourself in the work and sustain your humanity).

Title slide Healer Hero

circle

I have recently come across the concept of transformational learning as defined by Jack Mezirow it includes several steps that parallel the process of initiation and the hero’s journey: a disorienting dilemma, realization that disorientation is part of the growth process, and then a reintegration with a new, transformed identity.

Transformational Learning Model

The second presentation was Circle Medicine: What’s Good for the Client is Good for the Clinician. This presentation reviewed a few of the circular models of healing I have been using lately: the Hero’s Journey, Whole Health, and the Medicine Wheel. I believe that we need to include both linear medicine and circle medicine in order to best serve our clients.

Circle Medicine Title

linear-vs-circle-medicine.png

I had a great time at the conference, caught up with some old friends and made some new friends. I also spent a few hours speaking with Gerald Arbuckle, author of the book Fundamentalism that I recently reviewed. Gerry and I have had an ongoing correspondence since I used his models of medicine concept in my book Re-humanizing Medicine, and also he wrote an endorsement for Walking the Medicine Wheel. It was great to finally meet in person and have a really good chat!

More blog posts to follow from this trip!

IMG_20170913_212107954

 

Australasian Doctors Health Conference, Melbourne, Australia

I just got back from a presentation at the Australasian Doctors Health conference in Melbourne Australia. Ironically,  I got sick at the doctors health conference! It was worth it, though, such a great conference, great people, great topic! Now I am back in Seattle, recovering and unpacking.

The flight out of Seattle, heading to LA for my connection, had some great sunset views.

20151016_170617

20151016_183635

I presented on “Becoming a Whole Person to Treat a Whole Person.”

becoming a whole person

I first stopped in New Zealand for a quick visit with friends. Of course, I stopped at my favourite morning coffee place, the Kohi Cafe and looked out at the ocean (I didn’t have my good camera, so these are just a few snaps with my phone camera).

20151018_081104

I spent a very beautiful and peaceful day out at the gannet colony in Muriwai. It was a cool, blustery day. One of my favourite places on Earth.

20151020_184703

20151020_184802

20151020_185001

20151020_185022

20151020_185207

20151020_185538

20151020_185602

20151020_185631

20151020_185813

20151020_185854

20151020_185936

I then headed down to Melbourne, Australia. I met up with my friend, Gary Orr and we brainstormed some about doing a presentation at Esalen sometime in the future. We also talked about dusting off our blog: Creating Human Work Environments, which we need to update our details on and do some more posts.

Then the Australasian Doctors Health conference. This was the third time I attended and presented. It was great to catch up with some friends and hear about what Marsha Snyder is up to and about her book, Positive Health: Flourishing Lives, Well-being in Doctors.

Marsha's book

Add I spent some time catching up with my mate, Hilton Koppe, a GP from Lennox Head, Australia, who has been doing some great stuff on re-humanizing medicine using poetry and writing. Here is a snap of him doing his presentation:

20151023_153620

My presentation was on “Becoming a Whole Person to Treat a Whole Person.” This is a theme from my book, Re-humanizing Medicine, because you can’t give to others what you haven’t first developed in yourself. One thing I have been working on is trying to come up with a conceptualization of how doctors can be both competent technicians as well as compassionate healers.

developing a technician healer identity

technician.healer characteristics

And I have been working with Laura Merritt on adapting my book into a staff self-care workbook called, Caring for Self. This uses the multi-dimensional whole person model from Re-humanizing Medicine in a workbook format. One thing that is new is that we have been working on developing a set of three attributes for each dimension to give a gestalt of what that dimension represents.

Caring for Self

Here is the outline of the nine dimensions with the three attributes of each dimension listed. From my work with Joseph Rael, I challenged myself to develop these attributes as verbs rather than nouns, to show that we are in a never-ending process of becoming, rather than thinking of ourselves as static objects we are flickering lights of being & vibration!

BODY: embodying, moving, savouring

EMOTIONS: feeling, connecting, flowing

MIND: thinking, minding, evolving

HEART: creating compassion, loving, expanding boundaries

CREATIVE SELF-EXPRESSION: wording, drawing, expressing Self

INTUITION: dreaming, visioning, receiving

SPIRIT: unifying, integrating, transforming

CONTEXT: harmonizing, sustaining, communing

TIME: growing, transitioning, becoming who you are

I met some great, very inspirational people at the conference. I didn’t have much time in Melbourne, but I walked around the market a bit and stopped in at the State Library of Victoria which had a good coffee shop and book store.

One thing I love about Australia is all the parrots everywhere. Here is photo of a few of them:

20151024_191917

The next Australasian Doctors Health Conference is to be held in Sydney, Australia in two years…I’ll be there…