Embracing Darkness

Dear Katie and Family,

I would like to share with you my journey through freedom.

After returning home from The School for The Work in October 07, I was driving on Interstate 95 at 6 a.m. going to work. The morning light was beginning to appear.To the left , a tractor-trailer, behind me a tractor-trailer–no problem, I drive the interstate daily. Suddenly , coming up along side of me was another tractor- trailer , speeding and out of control.

The driver overcorrected trying to get back in the lane in front of me, and the tractor-trailer jack-knifed and flipped over. Sliding on it’s side on the asphalt, thick , black smoke emerged.

The sound from the metal scraping the asphalt was so consuming and loud, that it was silent. There was nothing but complete darkness.

Then it began- bright,white sparks appearing everywhere, shooting out in every direction-dancing and performing the most beautiful and welcoming light show.For me. It swiftly and graciously surrounded me as I kept driving, unable to see anything else.Life? Crossing over into death? It couldn’t be any better than this. I’m going. Silence. Everything stopped.

The thick black smoke dissolved into the morning sky. I walked across the road (there was no reason to run), and came upon a man standing in the median.

I asked “Is the driver dead? Is he in there?” “No,” replied the man, “I’m just fine, mam.” I impulsively touched his arm with both hands. I felt warmth. I touched him again, and went on to work.

As I told my story, puzzled eyes connected with mine, trying to understand my excitement, gratitude, and freedom.

Death? No fear, none. No fear? Peace,freedom.

I noticed that there was no flash of my children, my family,my world. There was no white tunnel.

There was only living in that very moment, loving the reality, every second of it.

That evening as I was cleaning the barn, a very dear friend said, “I was late for work this morning. There was a big wreck on I-95. Held up traffic for two hours. They say two people died.”
“Yes, I said, I know about that.”

What a journey, Imagine that.

Thank You Katie–With love, Joanne

A Letter: Husbands and Wives

Dear Katie,

Lately I had a client who had a fight with her husband a few months ago. She saw him drunk in the car of his company and she wanted him to be home and take care of the children. It happened often that he was drunk and now she was furious and she tried to hit him with a hammer. She missed and she was arrested by the police and spent the night in jail.

She became my client and she wanted to get out of the misery. She said her husband was not likely to cooperate and come with her to me. So a few weeks ago I explained to her the Mediation (conflict resolution) exercise and she would try to explain it to him and do the exercise together. Today she came back. She told me she spent a few days to explain the exercise to him.

Constantly, as she read her worksheet, he started to interrupt her with justifications, attacks and so on. Then, after a few days, he seemed to get it and they could both read their worksheet without being interrupted. My client said her world has changed since then. Now she can openly communicate with her husband, something she couldn’t do since she met him five years ago.

She feels more peaceful inside and she said people told her she has changed. “The book is open”, as she put it. We can now get along. I could hardly believe her enormous shift from the hammer to this peaceful way of communicating, which she said she experienced since she did the exercise with her husband. And they did it together at home, didn’t even need me, the social worker. She told me she didn’t want other sessions with me for some time, as she needed time to enter her new world.

Thank you for being there Katie and offering us these beautiful exercises (and The Work of course),

in gratitude and love,


A Letter from Kathy Harris

The latest from Kathy Harris:

Dear Katie,
I just got off the phone with Antonio, who was recently paroled. The music on his cell phone was rap music with the words “It is what it is! Life is great!” He told me it’s his theme song—that it’s all about loving what is. He agreed to speak to the Rotary Club in Sausalito to tell them how The Work has changed his life. He is working at See’s Candy from 4 pm to 4 am & then goes to school to be a drug counselor and he intends to do The Work with his clients. He’s full of gratitude. He told me I’ll never know how much The Work Class has made a difference for him. The Court has agreed to his coming & giving testimony about the 17 year old who in a gang incident killed his (Antonio’s) son while he was in San Quentin taking The Work Class. The Work Class saved him from living in stories and rage. He wants this kid not to be put away for life. He wants him to have a life. He wants to be a part of stopping the anger & violence that comes from not questioning our thinking. Antonio is on fire, full of gratitude. His two case workers—Kenny, who you met at the Vet training & Ron—are both former inmates teachers at San Quentin now in Jacques’ program. They are helping Antonio with his drug counseling training & certification etc. It makes my heart sing to see this kind of support after someone leaves the prison. I said to Antonio maybe he wouldn’t be able to fit in The School with Katie in the spring because of his work & school & by then being a drug counselor. He said, “No way. I’m going to make the School happen, because it’s part of my training for working with drug counseling.”

I’m filled with joy & gratitude to see how The Work can make a difference in Antonio’s life. The first day I met him in The Work Class he sat there with his arms folded announcing he hated ignorance, judged his fellow inmates, said that life & others were making his life hell & that was the truth!!!!! To myself I’m thinking, “Oh boy, he’s going to be a lot of work.” And then he just took to The Work & I got to do my own piece of Work on judging him.

Sending love & gratitude,