Immortal Bloom has its own beautiful new site now! Please re-subscribe!

The blog Immortal Bloom is moving to its own domain!

Please visit the lovely new site at ImmortalBloom.com and tap Subscribe to enter your address and continue receiving my posts! I have several fun new projects in the pipeline, including new workshops and a little book about experiencing more joyful interactions with people with dementia.

Thanks and love to you!

❤️‍ Lita Bloom

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Whose terms?

“If you want [people] to quarrel and resist change, convince them they’re on one side of a binary.” ~ John Michael Greer

Another way of saying “divided we fall.” Another way of saying that defining one’s perspective according to pre-packaged labels of “conservative,” “Democrat,” and such keeps us safely disempowered, fighting among our puny selves rather than FOR our obvious common interests.

Without completely transcending this way of thinking, we will continue to allow the media and other agendas to set the terms with which we define problems. We will continue to allow them, furthermore, to define the limits within which solutions may be found. The content of reality is so much broader than these accepted assumptions would have us know.

“Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.” ~ probably misattributed to Albert Einstein, but wise nevertheless

One proposed step into a more effective paradigm: Stop using these ridiculous political labels. They are not yours. Consider your positions on a variety of issues for five minutes. Or consider a single grain of truth in a different political perspective. What do you notice? You are bigger and more complex than these labels. Their tyranny over our minds and our political realities begins to end the moment we take back the power of setting our own TERMS.

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Hospice: The other midwifery

Trying to say this is going to be like pushing revelation through a tube of toothpaste, but i have to try. Today i was sitting in a home with a dozing elderly patient, her daughter, and her sitter. There came a moment when i recognised the need for a shift of awareness on the parts of the daughter and the sitter. In our culture we learn a lot about fighting death off—not so much about signs of its inexorable approach. People see that someone’s not eating, or they’re sleeping a lot, or else they’re starting to decline more precipitously, and the tendency is to want to “treat” that, sometimes even with trips to the hospital, etc. For my part today, it took some courage to sensitively introduce the reality that these are all very normal changes as a person heads for the back door. How well would it be received?

I told these ladies that, though it was no indication of how much time was left, what we were seeing was all part of what happens as people begin to leave this world. Eating less, sleeping more—people often begin to give up their grounding to this earth for quite some time before they leave for good. I was amazed at the utter lack of resistance that came back. Tears sprang from the women’s eyes, but they smiled. I was only saying what a deeper part of them already knew.

There are times when i’m saying something and my entire body tingles, as if divine beings were present saying, YES, YES, YES. It always happens when i’m acknowledging the phenomenal power of love or the beautiful truth of spiritual reality—too beautiful to be taken seriously in much of the denser world, where i suppose the darkness that we experience obscures (hmm, literally) our sight. The shimmering in my body assures me that it doesn’t matter who may ask for proof; truth is on tap. It happened today as i talked about this process of leaving life. I am still constantly amazed at getting to engage with people this deeply in my work, emotionally and spiritually.

We all get our honeys back on the other side, that much seems obvious—not just by revelation but by repetition of experience. Time and time again, people seem to encounter loved ones who have already crossed over. (A 94-year-old woman suddenly sits up in bed and smiles, crying, “Daddy! What are you doing here?”) Today, with the door to such matters suddenly open, my patient’s daughter began to talk about how this beautiful little Cajun woman had, after all, mentioned that she was “going somewhere”—and, moreover, “by myself.”

An ordinary visit turned quietly extraordinary for me—from symptom management and education to gently ushering a family along the deeper journey at hand. I’ve always thought of hospice as “the other midwifery.” I cannot express how gratifying it is to mature into this unique role. It calls upon all of my best gifts, all of the time. My tasks here are not merely mechanical or rote—it’s a relationship gig.

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The length of life

Surprise: today was my first adventure in independent hospice calls, and seeing patients unfamiliar to me at that. My orientation ends by necessity next week when another nurse takes leave, but an early temporary need arose in the northern woods.

I spent a long while with the family of one man teetering on the edge – not technically my patient until morning, if he makes it that long. I was just running a morphine bag en route. Our veteran nurse there said that in 38 years she’d never seen a wound as bad as the one created by the tumor in this man’s neck. We had non-hypothetical discussions of mercy-killing with the family. One member wanted to pour all of the morphine into the patient’s gastric tube. Another called a priest to consult. It was real. (To be clear, by the way, hospice does not do euthanasia.) I called myself a hospice nurse for years before it became official, but this visit reaffirmed that for me. I loved hearing the other nurse, on the phone with our boss, say of me, “She is great. She is great.” It is good to be in work i was cut to fit.

Driving away from that house, I cried. It is hard to say what I felt. Was it even mine?

I drive long distances for my job. Yesterday i finished the audiobook of Paul Kriwaczek’s The Yiddish Civilisation. It was the first history book i’d read in years, and it put a lot of things into fresh perspective again. One is that humans are always creating and caught up in the same old bullshit, so i might as well relax about… all of the things that get my panties in a twist; I’m doing my best, that’s all i can do. I think of the burning issues in my heart in this era and am suddenly in awe of my incredible privilege: the things i get to be pissed about! Most of them are essentially abstract: philosophical or future-oriented or part of the game of human progress. Yes, we’re here to play this game, so let’s play to conquer – but at the same time, i’m just so lucky to have virtually no prospect of being, say, burned at the stake for being a weirdo.

The book reminded me that i definitely don’t need to get caught up in any dawning-golden-era messianic utopian fervor either. A) It’s been a flop so many times before. B) It’s just another way of mentally fleeing a present that never seems good enough. I don’t have any reason to believe that the present ever will be “good enough.” Challenge is just part of this bag. Contrast keeps this wheel in motion.

Throughout The Yiddish Civilisation, i was always struck by the incredible hardship of life for, oh, the vast majority of people on Earth for the vast majority of human history. Juxtaposed with some of the suffering that has come closer to my awareness in my new job, i’ve developed a keener imagination for the view of life as so, so long. I’ve experienced, as if it were my own, the feeling that some elders express when they say they are ready to go – done. I’ve heard so many families refer to the hard lives their dying relatives have already lived, thus regarding death as even more of a mercy in that light: “They’ve suffered enough” – not just with a terminal condition, but beginning long before… I started to relate one or two stories from people’s histories here, but i don’t want to overwhelm. It’s odd to notice, actually, just how much i censor on this general topic. Otherwise i might need to preface my post with a rating: R? for rough, or rank, or raw…

As Yiddish Civilisation ends, its author discusses Italo Calvino’s impression, on visiting America in the mid-20th century, that Jewish physicians were regarded as among the best because only the very brightest Jews managed to get past barriers to their admission to medical schools. Then i began another audiobook last night, as soon as the last one had ended: Siddhartha Mukherjee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. (I’d had no idea what i was in for on the job today – cancer is not routinely so gruesome, at least not anymore.) Interestingly, the very same phenomenon about Jewish physicians is mentioned early on in this book, and with reference to the Jew Sidney Farber, one of its central figures. I love the weave of one seemingly separate thing into another, the continuity of our stories…

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Zooming out

I was dozing off towards the end of a tiny book called “Native American Wisdom” this afternoon when suddenly i had a sparkling clear vision of the Pleiades star cluster. It seemed odd yet significant. Later, a little Google revealed to me that the Hopi, the Lakota Sioux, and numerous other Native peoples believe themselves to be of Pleiadian origin. (“Cree mythology speaks of their people coming to Earth from the seven stars in spirit form first and then [becoming] flesh and blood.”) I don’t understand much of anything, but i love how numinous experiences over time are blowing my narrow cultural conditioning to slow-motion smithereens.

Whether any Earthlings have cosmic origins in other places or i’m just having twilight insights into stories i don’t know, i like that moments such as this (and far grander) happen all the time. I appreciate the constant reinforcement of my conviction that it isn’t worth buying our own culture’s relatively lame-ass, negatively oriented, ineffective, unscientifically materialistic story about What Reality Is and How It Works just because it happens to be popular in the time and place in which i was born. (“Can’t prove a negative,” but many so-called scientists assume it all the time.) These wonks everywhere don’t actually have the authority they’ve been trained to project and everyone else trained to bow to. See what the sands of time make of EVERY culture’s pet beliefs and rational “conclusions” (including those that have already eroded from beneath our own mainstream, whether the stream’s noticed the news or not).

Popularity means absolutely nothing. It is the most empty value i can imagine. There can be no surrogate for the genius within you, so don’t rob yourself of that gift by paying too much attention to what others think they know.

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The Best of Everything

I like to say that i’m not about genre: I simply like the very best of everything.

“Best,” of course, is in the eye of the beholder. For many, for example, the best travel accommodations are five-star resorts–and not just any 5★ resorts, but certain ones. I’m more general, enjoying things across categories. For me, posh hotels are certainly luscious, but they are not the only “best” beds, nor even what i usually prefer. (When i like fancy best: when i get it for free, when i’ve been laying my head in rather more *ahem* culturally colourful lodgings, and when i have a travel buddy with whom to gush over our amazing good fortune–preferably all at once, such as i enjoyed in Delhi en route out of India!)

Perhaps i would even split genres to allow still more best-of awards (more to love!). Because there are shitty $3/night Indian beach huts, of course, and then there are magical $3/night Indian beach huts. There are the dark and dirty ones with bathroom floors that never drain and no air circulation sans mosquitoes, and then there are those replete with 24-hour ocean sounds, intact and most romantical pink mosquito nets, and hammocks on porches beneath the big green foliage of banana trees and coconut palms.

Danielle LaPorte asks, in her Burning Questions series, “What in your life do you want to be of the highest quality?” Well, another reason I love those low-budg guesthouses–not to mention wandering less developed nations in general–is that the best trips i dream up are usually long ones. I was in India for 4½ months. I stopped in Italy and Brazil on the way home. Instead of a luxurious two-week yoga retreat for the same investment, i got a gradual unwinding, a complete education, more great stories than i could even tear myself away from their living to tell, and unplanned transformations of extraordinary variety.

So where does quality matter most to me? My ultimate answer: Quality TIME! Quality experience. These come from every direction. I don’t skimp. I insist.

What are the elements of quality time? To begin, i keep a fairly strict social budget. I don’t spare much energy for resolutely negative, unkind, or gossipy people. I can only afford the very best. The hurdle of my beloved solitude takes a high jumper!

A lesson currently in peak flower for me is not to confuse the value of money with that of time. To the degree that i have already managed to set aside that old paradigm, i am better able to appraise how much i actually have, rather than to compulsively pursue more money through my most immediate means. Hence there is more room for my still higher (and deeper) values. Time is not money. Time came first.

Time is experienced via the body. My taste for quality time therefore makes living quite lusccious! Sensually, i am a health-foodie and a connoisseuse of brilliant colour. My ears (or else my imagination) are generally resonating with music that levitates me in body and spirit, or with inspiring and edifying words, or with a warm, incubative silence. My lush of a nose relishes the scents of night-blooming flowers, wood-burning stoves, and finest exotic oils (for which conventional definitions of quality DO most definitely apply. Anytime i’m in New York City, i treat this discerning and ecstatic nose to a long sampling spell at Enfleurage in Greenwich Village. God in heaven, bring back that glorious sandalwood attar of jasmine).

A frugal one by nature, i’ll still splurge on top-notch material goods now and again, when those objects will somehow undergird awesome experience. I ride a BMW of a yoga mat. Once in a while i am wooed by truly gorgeous, well-crafted clothes that reflect a little more of my most scintillating and slightly numinous self-image. I am a tad fiendish for transporting, transcendent visual art. But many of the books that make the grade for me can be found in the library, so instead of buying one i can stay another week in India. With books, it is more often the content than the object that compels.

As for information, i strongly favour nontoxic varieties that get the job done: those that inform me–that is, “pervade or permeate with manifest effect”1–in useful and beautiful ways. It is in part quality information, after all, that feeds the development of quality perspective–the alchemical ingredient that lifts absolutely anything back into the majestic realm of appreciating everything. Minus all of the particulars above, it remains this inclusive appreciation that guarantees i can and usually will discover the quality in my time and experience, whatever guise it assumes.

1Dictionary.com, “inform,” in Dictionary.com Unabridged.

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Possum, was that a dream?

For the past few nights, we’ve been hearing sounds in the ceiling. Something was taking slow, fairly heavy steps up there into the wee and not-so-wee hours of the morning. I decided it was probably a possum–a nocturnal creature who sometimes takes shelter in attics and basements.

This morning, i dreamt i was bidding a possum farewell from our front door. When i woke, the man from a pest control service came over to have a look around. He didn’t see anything in the attic–not even turds. Tonight, the sounds are gone.

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