A couple of weeks ago, as I followed our tour group, I saw this sign over a storefront on a busy street in Galway. How surprising to see that Reiki was practiced in Ireland.

Well, not so surprising says my friend, fellow nurse practitioner and Reiki Master Teacher, Jane Van De Velde, who tells me “Ireland has a huge Reiki community! I have met Irish practitioners in some of my Reiki travels.”

Check out her latest newsletter.

                                                                                       November 2012
Reiki News, Upcoming Events and Happenings
Reiki Clinic at Cancer Center
Make a Gift
Reiki Making a Difference
Reiki for Kids & Teens
  TRSP Calendar of Classes & Events
Find us on Facebook

The Reiki Share Project 
Donation Information
Forward this issue to a Friend
 Dear Marianna

Greetings to all!  It is always time to “get busy” again when autumn arrives. The Reiki Share Project is developing new programs, seeking new venues and spreading the good news about Reiki.  Our work continues!
 Long- Standing Reiki Clinic at Edward Hospital
LInda and Janice
Linda & Janice

In 2004, Linda Conlin, LCSW, was given the task of starting a psychosocial program at the Edward Hospital Cancer Center in Naperville, IL. “My goal was to develop a holistic program that included personal counseling, financial assistance, complementary therapies, networking groups, children’s camp, and educational programs for both patients and families.” Programs include exercise, yoga, meditation, Reiki, and nutrition education. “We had no budget so we have depended on professional volunteers to provide many of these services.”

Linda first learned about Reiki from a co-worker who is a Reiki Master. “Eight years ago, very few people had heard of Reiki. I needed an understanding of what Reiki is and how it could be presented credibly in a health care setting.” Linda was introduced to Reiki Master Teacher Janice Spoelma who agreed to provide her expertise in setting up and supervising the new Reiki Clinic at the Cancer Center. Janice carefully recruited Reiki Master volunteers for this program. “It takes a special person to work with people who have a serious illness such as cancer.” Janice now has approximately 20 Reiki volunteers who offer their services.

For the past eight years, this free clinic has been held once a month during evening hours at the Cancer Center. Patients, caregivers, and staff are welcome to attend and receive 10-minute Reiki sessions. On average, the clinic has 10-12 participants each month. Linda Conlin recalls that “we were one of the very first Reiki clinics in the Chicago area. I had many calls from around the Midwest asking about our program and how we were able to bring Reiki into a healthcare setting.”

This clinic has been well received and supported by medical, nursing, and social work staff. Both Linda and Janice agree that participants “love the Reiki Clinic” and often return bringing friends and family to experience Reiki.   According to Janice, a number of people who are cancer survivors of many years also regularly visit the clinic. “It is so wonderful to see people who are newly diagnosed with cancer interacting with these survivors who are thriving and living their lives.”

Edward Hospital Cancer Center has created its own Reiki community. Says Janice, “the Reiki Clinic has given people the chance to open up and explore other possibilities, other ways to experience relaxation and healing.”

Help Us Share the Gift of Reiki–Make a Gift
Please consider making an “end-of-year” tax-deductible donation toThe Reiki Share Project.  We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in the state of Illinois. Your donation will support our work in making Reiki classes available at little or no cost to people and families who are dealing with serious illness and disability.

Your donation will be gratefully accepted! Thank you!

Average Scores GraphReiki Can Make a Difference
Quality improvement data was recently gathered by Wellness House, a nonprofit organization that provides programs for those with cancer. Participants were asked to rate their stress, pain, & anxiety on a 0-10 scale before and after their Reiki sessions. The survey results are illustrated in the above chart.  It appears that Reiki helped to lower the reported levels of stress, pain, and anxiety for this particular group.
Reiki for Kids & Teens
Kids can learn Reiki too! The Reiki Share Project is in the process of developing Reiki programs for both children and teenagers in cooperation with Wellness House which provides programs for those dealing with cancer. The first program, “Reiki for Families”, will be offered in February, 2013 and will bring children (ages 7-11) and their parents together for a day of learning how to connect with Reiki and share it with each other. This class is for families who have a loved one diagnosed with cancer and who are seeking ways to bring peace and healing into their homes. The second program is for teens whose lives have been touched by cancer.We are interested in hearing from our Reiki readers—do you have experience in teaching Reiki to children or teens? TRSP will keep readers updated on these two new programs!
Thank you for reading our newsletter!  If you have any questions or comments about our work, we would love to hear from you.  Send us an email.  Wishing you many blessings during this season of gratitude!


Jane Van De Velde, DNP, RN
Reiki Master Teacher  

The Reiki Share Project


Nurses who make home visits will be able to relate to this.

I scan houses I would like to visit—to see not only who lives in them but how they live. What health problems or social issues would I have to address?

I took a picture of this house on the west side of Chicago before we moved to Maryland in the early ‘90’s. My good friend, Lois, drove me back there on a lovely  June day in 2007 when I came back to Chicago to attend her daughter’s wedding.

I was sad to see what happened to this house and even sadder that I never got to know who lived there.

best house on the block

You were spectacular.

Dressed unlike any other house in the neighborhood.

For the many years I walked down your street

but never saw the knight who lived inside you—

who displayed shields and crosses across your face.

A mantle of words draped over you like jewels

shouting for attention:

Tyrone Power



Jane Byrne


The day I left, I took your picture.

You smiled in the sun.


Years later, I stand before you.

Has your champion abandoned you to others

that scrape away your beauty?

Your mantle in tatters exposing your dull skin.

Will a new knight come and dress you like all the other bland houses

in this newly gentrified community?

I take your picture.

You look away.


Back in the ‘80s I ran a clinic for the elderly that was housed in an apartment on the tenth floor of a Chicago high rise. My patients came to see me, a nurse practitioner, in the office but in many instances I would later check up on them in their apartments in the building or their homes in the surrounding neighborhood. When my office practice became too busy to make these outside visits, I hired a community nurse.

She was a new nursing grad and an older woman who chose nursing as a second career. I figured as a wife and mother of two children she would have life experience to function independently. I was wrong. Her insecurity and lack of nursing experience translated into an uncaring façade. She left for a hospital position, which provided a more structured environment.

The second nurse I hired was older, too, but with years of public health/community nursing practice. She made scheduled home visits based on the patients’ needs; no one fell through the cracks as they did with the inexperienced nurse. She took blood pressures and monitored blood glucose levels, set up weekly pillboxes for the forgetful patients and started a quality control chart review. Not an especially emotive person, she did her job with efficiency and coolness and soon left to make more money than she did in our not-for-profit clinic.

Enter Dave*

Laura A. Stokowski, Just Call Us Nurses: Men in Nursing, Medscape, posted: 08/16/2012, tells us men tend to choose “fast-paced specialty areas, such as critical care or the emergency department.” But here was Dave, a thirty-something, husband and father of two with a wealth of nursing experience knocking on my door. He was seeking a low tech, high touch job.

Of all the applicants, he was most qualified. I figured my male patients would appreciate dealing with a guy since our office was comprised of all women. But what about the cohort of female patients? I had found them, on the whole, to be reserved, private and at times, overly suspicious of health care providers, myself included. How would these ladies relate to a man performing personal care? I wish I could say I didn’t have these thoughts. But in spite of them, I did hire Dave.

Besides being clinically competent, Dave demonstrated the art of caring. A skill not often credited to men. He was genuinely interested in his patients and employed his knowledge and nursing skills to improve their health and quality of their lives and independence. What more can you expect from a good nurse?

* Not his real name


When I worked in the home care program at a VA hospital in Illinois, medical students sometimes came along with us nurse practitioners while we made our visits. I enjoyed showing them the reality of delivering care in the patient’s home—where we were guests—the subtle line between suggestion and decree, education and instruction, doing for the patient and letting the patient do for himself.

One afternoon, when I had a female medical student riding with me, I had trouble finding the house. In the day of no cell phones or GPS’s, I stopped at a gas station to call the patient’s wife. Was I being paranoid when she sounded like she was being deliberately unclear?

We finally drove down the well-manicured block in a rather upscale neighborhood. One house in the middle of the block was “protected” by a row of stately cypresses or if cypresses trees don’t grow in Chicago, then tall fir trees. I’m a city girl. I don’t know trees but these trees were certainly blocking out the sun and hiding the house. And yes, it was the house we were going to visit.

I had met my patient the day he was to be discharged. I don’t remember what brought him into the hospital but he was going to be sent home on Coumadin, a blood thinner, and had to have frequent blood draws to adjust the dosage. The doctors felt he shouldn’t make the long ride back and forth to the hospital and consulted with our home care team. As a nurse practitioner I could draw the blood, interpret the results and change the Coumadin dose as needed. When he was stable, I would refer him back to his primary doctor or in this case, the clinic at the VA that would follow him.

“My wife won’t like it if you visit,” he said.

“Why,” I asked.                                                                     

“Well, we have lots of cats.”

Balding and pudgy he looked a mediocre counterpart to his elegant wife who showed up shortly afterward as if she had reservations at the Pump Room: bangles on her wrists and dangling earrings, dark long hair, bright red lipstick and matching nail polish. I learned she had recently retired from a local newspaper where she had been a journalist.

No, she didn’t want a home visit. But she quickly changed her mind when I told her how often she would have to drive her husband to the VA for blood tests.

So there we were, the medical student and I, trekking behind the forestry shield and up the stone stairs of a Tudor house to a heavy door with a small window covered with a curtain. I rang the bell. I recognized the long red painted finger nails as they parted the curtain. The wife’s face, heavy with makeup, smiled. We listened to her releasing the locks.

The vestibule was dark. The whole house was dark. The only light came from a small T.V. table in the next room.

My patient sat on a sofa in front of the table. He had a urinal beside him, a glass of water on the table and a trash basket on the floor. The room seemed spacious. There wasn’t any scent or sound of animals about.

My memory of the event does not include any direct confrontation. I had always believed we nurses visit the patient in his home and are guests. Not to instill our wills. Besides the wife provided a flashlight which the student held so I could see what I was doing as I drew the blood specimen.flashlight

That had to be one home visit the medical student long remembered. I certainly was happy to have her accompany me that first time. In the weeks that followed, the patient’s wife held the flashlight and the strangeness of the circumstances began to fade. Eventually, I managed to get my patient on a stable dose of Coumadin and discharged him.

On that last visit I had decided I would ask to use the rest room so I could look around for the cats. I doubted there were any.

But I lost my nerve.


Betsy, a writer friend, emailed me the story she had read in our workshop since I had to miss the class. She knows I hang on every episode of her life in Ireland where her second child was born and she negotiated the daily vicissitudes of a different culture. In this episode she had left the hospital with her new baby girl. She happily accepted the offer to have a nurse visit her and the baby at home.

Her daughter is in college now but Betsy still remembers how helpful the nurse was—and knowledgeable and reassuring, which, in turn, made me remember the article I read not too long ago by David Bornstein, The Power of Nursing (NYT, May 16, 2012) about nurses who made regular home visits to at-risk pregnant women and continued these visits until their children reached the age of two. The program, Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP), conducted studies that demonstrated the visits improved both child and maternal health and financial self-sufficiency and provided a five to seven point boost to the I.Q of these children. Plus many more positive results.

NFP, which has been around since the ‘70s is implemented in forty states, empirically proves what many of us already know: nurses REALLY make a difference. Training paraprofessionals to do the nurses’ job didn’t yield the same outcomes.

We nurses do make a unique contribution. No one else can fill our shoes.

24-Hour Woman

“What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it.”

—Gabriel Garcia Marquez

I remember Sadie Rooney handing me a brown paper bag on my visit that autumn day in the early 90s. Her husband, Jim, a self-taught preacher, had died the month before. At first it seemed she wouldn’t have the strength to honor his wish to die at home. But on that day, Sadie was pleased with herself because she had cared for Jim up to the end. So when I reached into the bag and pulled out a mug and read the inscription out loud—24-Hour Woman—I figured Sadie was thanking me for being there for her. I was the 24-Hour Woman: the nurse practitioner orchestrating the journey towards the final curtain for Jim. And buoying up Sadie to face, head on, the whole dying business.

All these years I kept the mug. It came with me when we moved out of state—twice. Sat on my desk at each new job. A reminder of my nursing success. Or so I thought.

Godess of Memory

I had made notes of my visits to Jim and Sadie. Now as I write their story for my upcoming book, I am re-thinking Sadie. How resilient she turned out to be. She was there for her husband—night and day—quelling her own fears and insecurities. And at our last meeting, she told me of her plans to become a preacher.

Now with the passage of time, I see Sadie as the 24-Hour Woman. Thinking of her gave me the encouragement to take on new challenges as she had done. I had it all wrong.


My nursing career has taken me down many paths over the years. Presently, I am a Reiki Master Teacher as well as the founder of a nonprofit organization called The Reiki Share Project.

People often ask me what I “do.” And I usually begin by telling them that I am a registered nurse.

Their next question is…”Where do you work?”

This question always trips me up. People seem to think that if you aren’t employed as a nurse, then you stop being a nurse.

However, in my heart and my mind, I am always a nurse—no matter what. My nursing education and experience influences the way I view and interact with the world on a daily basis.

Thanks to all those client caseloads that I managed, the patient assessments I conducted and plans of care I wrote and implemented over the years; thanks to all those papers I wrote for graduate school—I am very systematic in my everyday approach to problem solving, organizing my life, and getting things done. My experience in dealing with patients also serves me well in my Reiki practice. And I have found joy and satisfaction in the process of writing articles, developing Reiki teaching curriculums and putting together newsletters for my nonprofit organization.

Thanks to that dying hospice patient who taught me that even though her life was nearly over, she could still experience healing on many levels—I bring that lesson forward to my Reiki practice knowing that even though curing many diseases may not be possible, there is always the potential for healing.

Thanks to all those hours of attending to patients and caregivers—I have honed my listening skills and have learned that sometimes that’s all that people want—just to be heard. So my husband, children, family, friends, and Reiki clients give me the opportunity to continue refining these skills.

Thanks to all those elderly homebound clients I visited who served me coffee and cookies, treated me like an honored guest, and sometimes begged me to stay just a little bit longer. I learned that simply being quietly present is a wonderful gift that we can give to others. Our “time” is a gift.

So, I continue to do my nursing work every day both personally and professionally in my Reiki practice. And I have developed a new response to the question: where do you work? I tell people that I am self-employed.

Long Lost Story

Just last week I came across a folder in an old box on the bottom of a closet. There I found accordion-pleated sheets of paper where I had written about the Donovan family in single space dot-matrix some twenty years ago. Bill Donovan had lung cancer with metastasis to his bones and brain. He died on a cold December day in Chicago.Winter in Chicago

I still have my Day Timer—who is old enough to remember those? I kept statistics on my patients: address, phone number, date of birth, diagnoses, if and when they received a flu shot and the date they either were discharged from home care or died. I wrote sporadically about my more difficult or worrisome patients in journals, which I kept all these years. I knew someday I would write my nursing stories.

But I never did forget Bill. I just didn’t remember enough detail about him and his family to add him to the book I’m working on. But now I’ll flesh him out along with his three daughters, a live-in girl friend and a hired caregiver, Stanley, who emigrated from Poland where he claimed to be a medical student and who withheld Bill’s medication on the grounds he, Bill, could die from the morphine.

Now you couldn’t make this stuff up.

The Murder Building

When I visited a patient in my caseload that lived in an “unsafe” part of the city, I went in the morning. Right after the pimps and drug dealers had called it a night and before the shop keepers pulled up the bars over the store windows and the women came out to sweep the sidewalk litter into the streets.

One day Pearl, the social worker, asked to come with me to see a patient. She had a meeting in the morning so we left after lunch against my better judgment.  If I were going to go to an iffy part of the city, this was the last place I would want to visit. The Chicago Tribune ran a story a few weeks previously about the  “Murder Building.” I knew by the address it was next door to my patient’s apartment.

Everyone knows it simply as “the murder building.“

“They call it `the murder building` because people have been known to go into that building and not come out,“ said one young man standing on a nearby street. “You got to stay away from that place. Things go on in them halls you don`t want to see.“

What does that say about the neighborhood we drove through and the scattering of young men gathered on the stoops, some leaning against the parked cars, all seeming to be without a sense of purpose? I felt their eyes following us.

My patient lived on the second floor with his common law wife and various other relatives. The front door was locked and since there wasn’t a bell, I had to stand under the window and yell the patient’s name. The patient’s wife would come to the window before she sent one of the grandchildren down to let me in. This was before cell phones.

I dreaded leaving the safety of the car. Did any of the men think we carried drugs? I scooted out and quickly grabbed my nursing bag from the trunk along with a white bathroom scale. The patient was on tube feedings. It remained unclear if his wife was able to manage the procedure and give the feedings on schedule. I was monitoring his weight as evidence of success.

When Pearl and I completed our visit, we took quick, long steps to the car, avoiding eye contact with anyone near-by. As I stuffed my bag and scale into the trunk, I felt someone tap me on the shoulder. I waited for the command to hand over my nursing bag. Instead a soft voice asked, “Before you put that scale away, would you weigh me?”

I turned to see an older man with short gray whiskers on his chin and a pleasant smile. He moved aside as I slammed the trunk closed and carried the scale to the sidewalk. He took his shoes off and stepped on the scale. “I can’t see the numbers,” he said. I read them off to him, he stepped down, retrieved his shoes and said, “thank you.” Behind him stood a young man with dreadlocks. “Can I get weighed too?” He slipped out of his high tops. I called out his weight and he left with a “thank you.”

Behind him a line of men snaked along the sidewalk. Pearl emerged from the car and began joking with the men, young and old, as they waited their turn at the scale.

Back in the car, the scale packed away in the trunk, Pearl and I drove to the corner. As we pasted the Murder Building, ominous and frightening with smashed windows and debris scattered around its foundation, I realized a building doesn’t define a neighborhood.

Unsolved Mystery?

This happened long ago. I worked for a hospital-based home care program. We, nurse practitioners, received referrals from physicians who had exhausted all options to prolong the patients’ life. We visited the patient in his home and helped the family care for him until death. Traditional hospice services were not an option as yet.

My patient was in his 60’s or 70’s and had a ditzy wife. Just like Edith Bunker on the old All in the Family T.V. show. She looked like Edith with dark hair, a whiney voice and hands that kept flying in the air as she talked. Edith and I sat in the corner of the living room with its high ceilings, dark woodwork and antiquated furnishings talking about her husband. I think he had lung cancer. I can see him wandering around in the turn-of-the-century apartment, seemingly unaware of his wife and me. While Edith jabbered on, I thought about how much information I should give her. Could she handle her husband dying at home? Thankfully, time was on my side. Her husband didn’t look close to death. I could parse out information slowly.

I began by telling her about our program, giving her our twenty-four hour phone number. I would make another visit soon and go into the dying process in more depth and review potential problems. She seemed so scattered, but she cried occasionally giving me the feeling she realized the gravity of her husband’s condition.

At the end of my visit, Edith walked me to the hallway outside the apartment. For some reason, as I perched on the top stair, I told her to pick out a funeral home. “You’ll have to do this eventually. Call them and tell them your husband is on our program and our doctors will sign the death certificate.” Maybe I thought it would give her something to do before I made a follow-up visit.

Before I made that visit, I received a message from the funeral home that Edith’s husband had died over the weekend and that a service had been held just for the family.

A few days later, I made the mandatory bereavement visit. Edith’s daughter and her husband were with Edith in the kitchen. The son-in-law, GI Joe crew cut and heavy shoulders, stood by the sink washing dishes. The daughter, a replica of her mother, but with some extra padding, sat on one side of Edith with a box of thank you notes in front of her. The couple came from out of state and would stay only for a few more days. When Edith introduced them, they nodded without smiling as if I were a diversion they hoped would soon leave. While I sat at the table talking with Edith I could feel their ears on high alert. Was the son-in-law washing the same dish over and over again? I was distracted by the tension I felt in the room while Edith babbled on.

While I drove back to the hospital, I replayed Edith’s words. I heard her squeaky voice tell me her daughter and son-in-law drove a long distance from out-of-state. “But,” she said, “As tired as they were, they thought of me.” Did I notice her daughter’s back suddenly straighten up?  “My daughter said I needed a break. ‘Let’s go and get your hair done,’ she told me.” Edith patted her head full of tight curls reinforced with a heavy application of hair spray. Her smile showed she basked in the attention they had showered on her. She left for the beauty salon with her daughter while her son-in-law stayed to watch over her husband. “When we came back,” she said, tears flowing down her cheeks, “my husband was dead.”

I had other patients to see that day and quickly put the visit out of my mind.

Over the years I have thought about that bereavement visit. I felt so lucky I was distracted and didn’t register the implication of those words: alone with son-in-law and dead when wife returns. I didn’t think the patient was anywhere near death when I first saw him. Sure he could have had any number of problems that would cause system failure and death. However, if I never mentioned contacting the funeral home, Edith would have had to call 911 after her husband died. Without enrollment in our agency, a sudden death in the home would necessitate an autopsy. I would have no grounds for suspicion if the autopsy showed death from natural causes. But there was no autopsy. So I continue to exercise my vivid imagination and rehash possible scenarios. In one, I see Edith’s daughter and her husband nod to each other as the daughter takes her mother out of the house. The son-in-law waits a few minutes after they leave. He walks into the bedroom where Edith’s husband sleeps, takes the extra pillow off the bed, and presses it over the man’s face bearing down with this strong arms until he is sure his father-in-law is no longer breathing. After carefully replacing the pillow on the bed, he pulls a pack of Marlboro’s from the front pocket of his khaki’s. He ambles into the living room, settles into an overstuffed chair, lights up and waits for his wife and her mother to return.

I’ll never know what really happened

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