Hold It All


Category: Gratitude

The Good News of Remembering a Friend, 4.8.2017

In 45 minutes I wrote three post cards, two letters and one note to a friend on the East Coast; I’ll post one a day for the upcoming week.

The Good News, 3.3.2017

The Good News is … In 2016 Lindsey Trout Hughes took three on-line writing classes with me, and—to her surprise and my delight— embraced her poetic vocation. She has graced me with  epic emails, and scintillating postcards, notes, and texts. And most recently, she has shared a full draft of a play (she’s an actor by trade).  What to do in these nefarious times? Give birth. Thus practiceth Lindsey.


Tyler Caffall and Lindsey Trout Hughes, Bonneville Theater Company, NYC, 11.8.2016

“I Have Some Wonderful News…”

I recently received the following letter from Robert MacArthur, who studied with me in fall 2005 at Saint Louis University…

Dr. Chmiel!

Hello! I hope this letter finds you well. I have some wonderful news to share with you! After many months of waiting I finally found out that my application for conscientious objection was approved and I am now honorably discharged from the military!!

It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks as I was given about a week to get my belongings together, out process from the military and secure a job in the civilian world. Luckily….***so, so lucky*** I was hired on full-time at a dental office I was already working at on Saturdays.

It’s only been a few weeks but each day I experience this sense of inner peace of my conscience and a form of freedom that are difficult to articulate. There’s a small part of me that feels like this is all a dream or I’m on vacation and I’m going to wake up. I guess it’s understandable to have these thoughts/feelings given that I was in for 13 years. Much like the inmates in the movie Shawshank Redemption, I have been institutionalized and am now understanding the effects. Read the rest of this entry »

Gratitude for Friday 29 April

In the course of this day
Being face to face with…
Joanie French
Hedy Epstein
Anna Piller
Patrick Cousins
Lena Salameh
Jeneane Salameh
Amaly Yossef
Aroona Toor
Imman Musa
Courtney Barrett
Andrea Scarpino
Justin Lorenz
Sherri DeRousse
Jessie Sarber
April Ulinski
Savannah Sisk
My cup runneth over

Today’s Gratitude

For Carolina Dominguez,
“exploding with joy,”
in Little Havana

Carolina Dominguez


Thanks to Trish and Annie for hosting tonight’s sharing on accompaniment; to Marty King for testifying about being on Arco those last weeks 20 years ago; to each person who read aloud, listened, spoke and/or opened up to her or his neighbor; to those who brought good food; and to Courtney Barrett for accompanying me since 1998: For it is indeed true:

“We have all know the long loneliness and we know that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.” It had all happened while Mev was laying there dying on Arco, and it was still going on at Karen House, and I imagine it is going on in hundreds of thousands of places at this very minute.


This weekend is commencement
Each day is commencement
Each hour is commencement

I’ve known you
Twenty months
May I know you twenty more

What spirit you manifest!
So many creative powers–
Poetry, art, organizing

Your being is blessing
Your journey is accompaniment
Your career is la lucha por la justicia y la belleza

Present Moment Wonderful Moment

Spent the morning with Thuy Khuu at Café Ventana:
Breathing in, I know that life is precious in this moment.
Breathing out, I cherish this moment of life.

Thuy at Cafe V

gatha by Thich Nhat Hanh


Happy when Amazon.com doesn’t faze me

Happy shutting up

Happy patiently watering the impatiens

Happy to be Joanie’s Feldenkrais student

Happy to enjoy I’m Not Bossy, I’m the Boss Read the rest of this entry »

Gratitude Journal/7

Dear Doc,

Thank you for leaving voice messages for me. You may say three or four sentences, but your voice is always calming to me. (I trust that your voice has that same beneficent effect on some of your patients.) That you leave word with me so regularly is touching, as I am fully aware that, as a resident, you have very limited time.

Earlier today (it’s gorgeous, sunny and 70), I was remembering that day we walked from your condo on Waterman to Forest Park and made our way around the Ralph Waldo Emerson Basin by Art Hill on a comparably beautiful day, as we discussed the “F” word (the future), literature (Kesey, Dostoevsky), and our own writing, which could use a friendly push from time to time. I miss those strolls!

I told Nima when all six of us gather in Chicago in late December, Joanie and I will have power over her kitchen as we prepare something delicious for you, Neil, Matt, and Nima in celebration of your wonderful lives of love and service.

Namaste forever,


Dr. Neeta Shenai; Virginia Beach, VA; 2013; photo by Dr. Neil Munjal

Dr. Neeta Shenai; Virginia Beach, VA; 2013; photo by Dr. Neil Munjal