Love and Gratitude to you, Robin…R.I.P.

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Carpe diem! and O Captain! my Captain!...phrases that Robin Williams so fully embodied that they inspired our loyalty and people of all walks to seize the day in these blink-of-an-eye lives.

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He portrayed the complexity of existence even as he blindsided us with laughter and tears.

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Robin conveyed our shared stories in their different slants: the loving dad with a failed career and marriage; the indiscernibility between “sanity” and “insanity” from the perspective a doctortherapistlone leader living on the streetradio hero; and on Broadway raised our spirits beyond circumstance.

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 Robin Williams was the most brilliant comic of our era with his mercurial mind and physicalityHe disarmed and enlivened us with rapid-fire humor, depth, and astute observations and connections while making us laugh in the face of our shared vulnerability to circumstance and personal chemistry. I grieve the loss of Robin and that the right person wasn’t with him when he needed.

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Most of us are vulnerable to biochemistry and Parkinson’s, which creates severe depression in many people and may have tipped the scale toward the tragic loss of this brilliant man. Though suicide affects a family for generations, perhaps Robin saw this quick death as the most loving choice rather than “burdening” his immediate family with the ruthless decline that Parkinson’s exacts.

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We’ll never know exactly why Robin killed himself, but his suicide serves as a clear reminder that no one is impermeable. I can imagine how difficult this choice must have been given his depth, courage, exceptional mind and generous heart.

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Robin Williams consistently portrayed the authenticity of his characters and provided his audience the means to laugh despite our multi-faceted vulnerability. He also treated others with a kindness that has been attested to by family, friends and co-workers.

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Both College of Marin and Julliard drama students benefit from Robin Williams scholarships, and he regularly broke the “normal” separation between film “artists” and “crew,” such as when he offered a crewmember half of his candy bar. As he split the candy, Robin said, “Look, two bars in one!”

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I offer these photographs (from an impromptu memorial in front of the house in which Mrs. Doubtfire was filmed) with gratitude and love to Robin and with deep sorrow for his family and loved ones.

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On August 11, 2014, we lost one of our best…a man with the courage to make us laugh and the ability to ignite our humanity.

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Oh, Captain, my Captain, thank you!

And may each of you who read this seize the day!

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Living with Chronic Illness

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The following quotes and suggestions are drawn from After the Diagnosis: From Crisis to Personal Renewal for Patients with Chronic Illness by Dr. JoAnn LeMaistre.

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Being psychologically well while physically sick stems from a belief that your personal worth transcends physical limitations.

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Belief in your self worth rarely emerges until what you have lost and grieved for stands second in importance to precious moments of inner peace and joy. 

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When living with chronic illness:

1.  Develop realistic expectations.

2.  Actively approach problems by defining the problem and the desired outcome.

3.  Seek appropriate help.

4.  Save valuable energy by learning anger management and emotional efficiency.

5.  Participate in the world as positively and authentically as possible.

6.  Focus on the present moment and what nourishes you rather than punishing yourself by focusing on loss. Maintain your humanity and awareness, and cherish life’s gifts.

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(Special thanks to mmorgan77 for first synopsizing this on inspire.com.)

Thank you Ceres of Marin!

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On Feb 13, my first meal was delivered from Ceres Project who delivers free weekly meals for people with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses for three months. This profound kindness is only one of the important ways Ceres Project is improving the world and individual’s lives. They even take recipient’s dietary requirements into account (gluten-free, for example); and use whole, health-promoting, organic, seasonal food, sourced from local farms, farmer’s markets and Whole Foods Market; and teach teens, who prepare the food, how to cook delicious nutritious meals.

Even kindergarteners are involved by making inspiring cards for clients. Mine was from Max. Thank you, Max! It’s on our refrigerator and makes us all smile.

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Cancer and it’s treatment is challenging for anyone as well as a person’s family so I wish I’d taken a picture of my brother’s face when the food arrived after we returned home after radiation and a walk. I didn’t know my three month period was beginning last night so – though bone tired – he was about to start dinner when the Ceres meal arrived.

My brother was even happier than me when this restaurant-quality meal arrived since it provided him with a much needed break from his daily grind of support while I am in treatment. Ceres’ care nourished all of us and my brother was able to relax and relish the yummy scents, appearance and taste rather than prepare yet another meal for a family in which two of us are disabled.

Valentine’s Day inspired the presentation of last night’s meal for one of the most loving valentines ever created. In addition to the pureed beet soup we received:

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(arugula salad with watermelon radishes and blood orange dressing)

 

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(heart-shaped turkey meatloaves with unsweetened tomato jam)

 

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(sauteed red chard with blood oranges)

 

and as a special Valentine’s Day treat

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(dairy- and gluten-free chocolate cranberry bread pudding sweetened with a touch of maple syrup)

Every bite was scrumptious! Our bodies were nourished with the healthiest of foods, our spirits raised and we were able to relax for the night, a rare and needed treat.

I hope people will consider supporting the Ceres Project since they make an enormous effort to benefit more lives than one can imagine. If you know someone in Sonoma or Marin who is being treated for cancer or another life-threatening illness, please let them know about Ceres Project. And hopefully people in other areas will be inspired to create similar services in their communities.

For more information, or to volunteer, or provide a tax-deductible donation to this remarkable organization:

Ceres Community Project of Marin
P.O. Box 151049
San Rafael, CA 94915-1049