In Eight Steps to Happiness Geshe-la says "'Self' and 'other' are relative terms, rather like 'this mountain' and 'that mountain ... 'This' and 'that' therefore depend upon our point of reference. This is also true of self and other. By climbing down the mountain of self, it is possible to ascend the mountain of other, and thereby cherish others as much as we presently cherish ourself."

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Transference of Consciousness

Dear friends,

A powa ceremony is planned for Mimi at Kadampa Meditation Center, Washington in Seattle on Saturday, November 19th at 7pm. How fortunate we are to have this special practice to transfer the minds of deceased beings to Buddha's Pure Land. Please join with us in powa prayers if you can, either in Seattle or with spiritual friends in your home city.

With love,

Monday, October 31, 2016


Hello loved ones,

Mimi died peacefully today at around 2:45am. She was surrounded by caring friends, including her husband Richard and her close friend Kadam Heather from Portland. She had Geshe Kelsang Gyatso's text Joyful Path of Good Fortune on her crown and a mala in her left hand. A powa (transference of consciousness) ceremony was performed in the room immediately after her passing.

Mimi never wavered in her confidence that her next life is going to be better than this one. With this faith and intention, it's certain that her mind moved immediately to the pure land. In Heather's words, "Hopefully she'll send down emanations so that Geshe-la will benefit us all!"

With love,

The Time Is Very Near

Dear friends,

Late Saturday night Mimi began experiencing excruciating pain in her head and abdomen. After several doses of morphine, a hospice nurse came to the house to offer advice on making Mimi more comfortable. Since then, Mimi has begun to show the signs that death is imminent. Her breathing is somewhat labored and she's in a coma-like state. Word went out to the Seattle community Sunday morning, and throughout the day there's been a constant stream of visitors and friends doing vigil with Mimi. Even now, at 2am Monday morning, three friends are sitting with Mimi, quietly making prayers and chanting mantras. Avalokiteshvara's mantra, OM MANI PADME HUM, is playing by her bedside. The atmosphere has been joyous, reverential and peaceful, filled with gratitude and love.

Thank you for reading these posts over the months, the next post will announce Mimi's passing.

With love,

Monday, October 24, 2016

Achy Breaky Bodies

Hello friends,

Sorry for the lack of updates recently - I've been fighting off a respiratory illness for over a week now. Yuck! Richard has a cold too. We are lucky, though, we'll get over these illnesses soon enough. Not so much for Mimi. She continues to get a bit weaker every day. She's still eating a little, is also still talking and interacting somewhat. As much as we would like to make valid predictions, we really don't know what the progression of Mimi's illness will be. Due to the fact that she's still taking in some calories, she may still be with us for a while. On the other hand, she may be very close to the end. She's experiencing more pain, enough so that it was decided last week to increase her baseline dosage of pain meds. Nausea continues to be an issue. Please make prayers that everyone throughout the world has a healthy body and mind!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Stormy Weather

Dear friends,

The major storm predicted in Seattle turned out to not be such a big catastrophe. Hope that everyone prepared well and were secure during the wind and rain we did have. And thanks to Mimi's sister Melissa for her kind hopes that we stayed indoors and safe during the worst of the storm. We did!

Mimi's friend and spiritual advisor from Portland, Kadam Heather, was here this weekend and spent time with Mimi. Heather has quite a bit of time of experience spending time with the dying, and she observed evidence that Mimi is now actively dying. Her face and limbs are showing signs of approaching death, and her bodily functions are shutting down. She's experiencing mild hallucinations, but her mind continues to be happy and content. Heather sent me this text yesterday while she was spending time with Mimi: Mimi woke up and I showed her a picture of Vajrayogini and her whole face lit up and she smiled and nodded "yes". Then she pointed to Manjushri and said "I want to understand her mind." Mimi has also been periodically holding her mala in her left hand, which is one of the things she requested for the end of her life. How wonderful that Mimi's many years of spiritual practice are coming to fruition at this time. It's encouraging to observe that her inner weather is peaceful and calm.

As always, many, many thanks to those who have been spending time with Mimi and Richard, and also to those who have shared their thoughts and prayers from afar. Your support means so much!

With love,

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Not Long Now

Dear friends,

Time for another remote update on Mimi from Toronto. We're more than halfway through fall festival and the blessings are raining down. Thanks for keeping Mimi and Richard in your prayers here in Toronto or wherever you are this week. I've been talking with Richard on the phone every night and he's in fairly good spirits. Friends in Seattle who aren't attending fall festival are taking good care of him. Thank you, wonderful friends!

Last week Mimi started missing doses of her regular meds, sometimes because of having a hard time swallowing, other times missing a dose due to an untimely bout of nausea and vomiting. Missing any of her pills could be problematic since they're all working together to control her symptoms, but this was especially a concern with two of her medications: an anti-nausea pill, and the glucocorticoid (steroid) she's been taking to control brain swelling. The anti-nausea medication can be delivered via a different route, so that was easily fixed. The anti-inflammatory steroid was a bit more tricky. We were concerned about her suddenly stopping the steroid because sudden withdrawal of a glucocorticoid can cause adrenal crisis with symptoms like severe pain and vomiting, fever, convulsions, psychosis, dehydration, etc. So, to minimize her chances of experiencing adrenal crisis, the decision was made to taper off the steroid. She just took the final dose yesterday. The fact that she's no longer taking the steroid, in addition to some other signs Richard is seeing, lead us to believe Mimi won't be with us for much longer. Kadam Heather from Portland is coming to visit and provide spiritual support to Mimi this Friday. I'll be back on Friday as well, and will continue to keep you posted about the progress of these final stages of Mimi's life.

During this festival I've been contemplating the vast loving kindness that Mimi has shown to her family and friends around the world, and the amazing example she has shown in cherishing others. Mimi's an aficionado of English literature, and I happened to come across this Emily Dickinson poem that describes a small fraction of the kindness that Mimi has shown to living beings in her lifetime. And who knows, maybe she has even helped a fainting robin ;)

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

In the comments or by email, please feel free to share your stories about the ways that Mimi has cherished others.

With love,

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Letting Go

Dear friends of Mimi,

Greetings from Toronto! It's been wonderful seeing so many of you here at the New Kadampa Tradition fall festival, and receiving your loving concern, well wishes and prayers for Mimi in person. I'm concentrating strongly on visualizing both Mimi and Richard here with me during the festival empowerments and teachings, and I'm sure that many of you here are also doing the same. How wonderful and powerful that we can carry our friends and family into this remarkable mandala with us!

I had a long phone conversation with Richard this evening, and he updated me on a few developments with Mimi. As you know, the gross levels of Mimi's body and mind are greatly deteriorating. However, a few of the things that Mimi has said recently indicate that she's still using her subtle mind. For example, during a visit yesterday from a hospice massage therapist, Mimi said, "I've lost the path and I can't seem to find my way back." Given the experiences she's been having lately with her body and mind, this statement seems to suggest that Mimi is actually forgetting about how her gross aggregates function. In fact, at times she even seems to be unaware of their existence. Also, when the massage therapist had first arrived at the house, Mimi told Richard that she needed some time to get herself together. Richard took this to mean that she's dissociating her identity from her ordinary body and mind. She needed a few moments to remember how to attach her "I" to the collection of parts that everyone else agrees are Mimi. These are such good signs to have as death approaches: she'll be ready to let go when the time comes.

While a large number of Mimi's local friends are here at fall festival, many others are stepping up to support her and Richard. We are so grateful for their kindness! Wherever you are in the world, I hope you can feel the cherishing and blessings coming from Seattle and Toronto.

With love,

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Birthday Wishes

Dear all,

Today is Mimi's 53rd birthday! Friends and family members are sending their wishes in the form of cards, treats (cookies, pastries and chocolates, oh my!) and their loving thoughts and prayers. However, as Richard says, it's probably not the best birthday Mimi has ever had. She's continuing on a decline of her physical functions, with quite a bit of pain and discomfort, which are being controlled somewhat well by the medications provided by hospice. Her cognitive functions are also in decline with less ability to speak, understand and use good judgement. So Mimi's body is deteriorating, and her gross mind is pretty useless, but Richard reports that she's showing signs of being able to use her more subtle levels of mind pretty well. In fact, just the other day she and Richard had a discussion about the central channel. And, true to Mimi's amazing nature, she very rarely complains about the suffering she's experiencing. Those of you who have been following this blog over the years will agree that she has a very stable realization of actions and their effects. She understands why she's experiencing suffering and actually seems to be pretty ok with it all.

Looking forward to seeing some of you at fall festival in Toronto in just a few days, where I'll be checking in regularly with Richard by phone and posting to the blog from afar.

With love,

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Better and Worse

Dear friends,

Just a brief update on Mimi today. Her leg is feeling better, the pain has decreased considerably. One person on Mimi's health care team speculated that she had an injury that led to blockage of lymph drainage. We're learning that functions of the body that we take for granted while we're healthy simply don't work properly when we're sick and dying. Perfect reason to develop renunciation and get the heck out of this contaminated existence. Mimi's energy is low and appetite is waning a bit. Her cognitive functioning is noticeably in decline. She has, however, gotten out of bed a couple of times (under Richard's supervision), which we weren't expecting. Another lesson learned: it's impossible to predict the course of these last stages of Mimi's illness. What a huge reminder that absolutely nothing that happens outwardly is within our sphere of control. One area where we have been able to make an impact is in hiring the home health care agency. Workers spend three nights a week here and Richard has been able to get some uninterrupted sleep. A care worker has just arrived for an afternoon shift while Richard attends his support group meeting. Providing support for Richard is almost as important as caring for Mimi, and we are so grateful for everyone who is helping to do so!

With love,

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Better, But Still Not Coasting

Dear friends,

Good news: after yesterday's crisis, Mimi is feeling a bit better today. Her leg is still hurting, but not as badly, and she hasn't had to use any supplemental pain meds today. However, it's looking like she won't be leaving the bed very much from now on. To prepare for this eventuality a hospice bath aide was here today, and she gave Richard a tutorial on how to effectively and safely move Mimi around in the bed. Also, the first visit from an employee of the home health care agency happened last night. The care worker stayed awake and alert so that Richard could get a full night's sleep. What a difference it made! Thanks again for your support and prayers, they're make a huge impact here.

With love,

Friday, September 23, 2016

No More Coasting

Along with summer in Seattle, our coasting phase seems to have vanished. Things are getting rough. Mimi is having a harder time with mobility because of some pretty severe leg pain. She's taking extra pain meds and is experiencing bouts of nausea and vomiting. Toileting is getting tricky. Today we had an intake visit from a home health care agency and will have the first overnight help starting tonight. The care agency workers are so friendly and supportive! And even with all of these health challenges, Mimi cracked a funny joke earlier that made me laugh. Richard and I also support each other with humor, even when the humor is dark. And of course we rely constantly on the dharma in our hearts, along with blessings and the support of our amazing sangha! For those of you in the area and who are interested, please keep the visits coming. Even when it seems like you're not really "doing" anything, having a friend or two around can be so supportive emotionally and spiritually. If you're not close by, feel free to continue with your prayers and messages!

(Just a note to those of you who have been responding directly to the blog update that arrives in your email inbox, I haven't been seeing those replies as they are directed to Mimi's email address. I saw quite a few of them today, so thanks for your ongoing support! My apologies for unintentionally neglecting to answer your questions, if you'd like to communicate with me and ask questions, please email rebecca-dot-lafond-at-gmail-dot-com.)

With love,

Monday, September 19, 2016

Giving Thanks

Last week Richard prepared a Thanksgiving dinner for himself and Mimi. Turk'y Roast (made with Quorn), and mashed potatoes and gravy. A raspberry Linzer tart with homegrown raspberries for dessert. Thanksgiving has always been Mimi's favorite holiday, and since it's likely she won't still be here (or be eating much if she is here) at the end of November, Richard wanted to enjoy it with her now. It was a lovely and sentimental experience. And delicious! For those of you who don't know, Richard is a phenomenal cook. How wonderful that he has these opportunities to share his gifts with Mimi.

As far as health updates go, there's really no new news to report. Mimi continues to decline gradually. She's been having a bit more pain so has been taking a little extra pain medication, but not enough to justify an increase in her baseline pain meds. It seems that the pain she's experiencing hasn't been acute, just a general increase in discomfort. The hospice nurse was here today and he said that in brain cancer, with good baseline pain control, it's common for the patient to not have episodes of acute pain, even up to the end of life. Mimi is still eating heartily, but her energy is really low. She and Richard are feeling the effects of your strong prayers, so please keep them coming!

With love,

P.S. Good news: she doesn't have a UTI.

Friday, September 9, 2016


Dear friends of Mimi,

It's been a while since the last blog post, mostly because Mimi has been cruising along pretty much the same since she moved into the hospital bed. There have been a few instances of breakthrough pain and nausea (meaning the regular meds she's taking for those symptoms aren't enough to keep the symptoms at bay), but they've been pretty easily handled by small doses of supplemental meds. As of today, her head pain is quite a bit worse and she's taking more of the extra meds than she has before. She's also experiencing some new pains in her body, which may be due to a number of causes, including spread of the cancer. It's also possible that she has a UTI, and the hospice nurse is coming by this afternoon to check in. Please keep the prayers coming that she'll remain fairly comfortable and content, and look for another blog update soon.

With love,

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


Dear friends,

Just a very quick update on Mimi. Monday she had a rough day with some breakthrough nausea, discomfort and pain. It had been quite a hectic weekend with a visit from Kadam Lucy, then all the coming and going with the post-festival review, so probably the setback was (at least in part) due to that. I'm happy to report that as of yesterday Mimi's feeling much better! Thanks for your continued prayers and support.

Mimi's health setback was a wake-up call for those of caring for her, and we realized that it was past time to order the hospital bed. Yesterday we had a crew of muscular sangha here to help move the queen-sized bed out of the bedroom, to be replaced by the new bed delivered soon after by the local hospital supply company. So much kindness! Mimi is now comfortably ensconced in a bed that has adjustable height for ease of entering and exiting, as well as a raisable head that makes it easier for her to read and eat. Even the foot of the bed can be raised! Soon she'll be levitating ;)

It's been such an inspiration to quote Mimi in past blog posts, and now the spotlight is turned on you, dear readers! Here are some of your kind words to and about Mimi over the last few years in your blog comments when she was posting about her cancer diagnoses and treatments...

You are the bee's knees, Mimi. - Kelsang R

Thanks for your inspiring blog, I think of you every day in my prayers. - LK

You look great, the power of prayers and faith. - BH

Lots of love and prayers to you Mimi... May Medicine Buddha bless your body and mind. - LM

You are so amazing and inspiring. May you realize the union of the two truths .. may we all! - TC

You are safe in Venerable Geshe-la's mandala and he'll be with you the whole way. - Kelsang L

You are in my thoughts and prayers. I love you, Mimi. - CI

I really like your blog and your spirit. - T

Sending love and prayer to you Mimi! - HC

I wish all of us could have this strength and determination every single moment in our lives. -  M

You are a wonderful example. - KLJ

Hooray! You are brave! - UM

Love and blessings. - NJ

It's inspiring how you are transforming this condition and creating beautiful minds. - LB

Rejoicing! - SC

May everything be perfect for you all the time, and you always feel bright inside. - M

Praying for you, Mimi. May all the Buddhas bless your mind. - Anonymous

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Mahamudra Dreaming

Hello friends,

This weekend we are receiving a review of the summer festival teachings on Mahamudra. Kadam Lucy just led us in a wonderful meditation on the emptiness of the self - naturally quotes from some of Mimi's earlier blog posts on emptiness are in order. Follow the links if you'd like to read the entire post (recommended).

She posted in 2012 about a teaching that Gen-la Dekyong had given at summer festival that year. Gen-la mentioned that she had mistaken a dead brown leaf blown by the wind for a little mouse scurrying across the yard. Mimi says about hearing this story, "I was thinking that I didn't have this kind of mistaken appearance very often, but then I soon found two examples: I saw a bowl with a curled-up banana skin as sliced lemons, and a small stick as a thin black slug like the one that I'd seen earlier that day. Because we have so much faith in what we see, recognizing these mistakes helps undercut that confidence and helps lead us to understanding subtle mistaken appearance, believing that the things we normally perceive truly exist."

Also from 2012: "Years ago at an offsite emptiness retreat on Vashon Island, my first Teacher described our involvement with objects we see as being like a dancer and their dance: There is no dance without the dancer. There is no object without a mind perceiving the object. "It takes two to tango," as the expression goes : ) "

Who knew Mimi was a poet?! In this post during election season 2012 entitled "Lies" she shares a bit of emptiness wisdom in poetry form, then ends the post by saying, "And you thought I was going to write about the election, didn't you? : ) "

Finally, from summer of last year, she shares this story in a dream she had: "In the dream, a bunch of Sangha friends came to my house and sang chanted prayers and recited the Heart Sutra. It was glorious. Obstacles were definitely removed, blessings definitely received. A person called Mel had apparently organized it all and played DJ. All the Buddhas were there, with the female wisdom Buddha Prajnaparamita in the starring role... Even though it was hot, everyone seemed to go away even happier than they arrived."

This last post especially touched my mind because, well, it's hot again :) and Buddha Prajnaparamita is still in the starring role :D. Mimi had a visit from Kadam Lucy yesterday, which I think was very meaningful to her. Kind, wonderful friends are spending time at the house this weekend so that Richard can attend the review teachings at the temple.  Health-wise, Mimi's still in the phase of gradual decline, no major changes. She's still fatigued, still has a pretty good appetite, a bit of occasional nausea when she overexerts herself. For those of you who have been looking forward to regular posts, I'm going to hold off posting further until there's a more significant change in Mimi's condition. So if you don't hear anything for a while, be assured that things are continuing along here as they have been for a while.

With love,

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Virtuous Desires

Hello lovely supporters of Mimi,

Just another brief update. Mimi continues to be in a state of low energy and isn't seeing any visitors this week. Kind friends are still stopping by to deliver treats, or spend some extra time visiting with Richard, or help out by being here while Mimi sleeps, or do housework/gardening. We are so deeply grateful for the care and support! Next weekend Kadam Lucy will be here in Seattle to give a review of the Summer Festival 2016 teachings. Mimi's hoping that she'll be able to attend some of the sessions - we'll see how she's feeling in a few days. Mimi has a special connection with Kadam Lucy and has been two separate times to Colorado to enjoy teachings and advice at KMC Colorado's annual Rocky Mountain Retreat. Here's what Mimi had to say about her experience there last summer: "So many blessings, wisdom blessings, that gave me many small insights. Those tiny sprouts of realizations were handed to me - I did nothing except set up the conditions where they could be revealed, and listened to the supreme Mahamudra teachings and perfect meditation guidance of Kadam Lucy, a true Meditation Master."

So it makes sense that Mimi is conserving her strength, and setting up the conditions for receiving teachings next weekend. Please make prayers that she is strong enough to engage in the teachings, it's something she wants very much.

Your friend,
Boswell (This is the same email address, I had to disguise it because of spammers. Please comment on the blog if you can't reach me directly)

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Let It Snow...Again


Just a brief update on Mimi. Not much change since last time I posted. Continuing with a lovely influx of friends and family, and Mimi continues to rest. Since I didn't have much to report here, I thought I'd quote a post that Mimi wrote about a month ago after she announced her terminal prognosis and before she introduced me as her Boswell. The post feels really relevant right now. The title is Let It Snow... and here it is in its entirety:

"Why is that out-of-season song in my head at the moment? I DO have a place to go - an important place - I just don't know yet where.

This former English major has also been thinking about those lines from T.S. Eliot's poem The Love Song of Alfred Proofrock, " ... and in short, I was afraid." But actually I'm not. ...
Maybe just too dumb for that : )
Something better than nothing? Or are you one of those "no news is good news" folks?

Maybe soon a more reasonable person will be posting updates here.

Mainly I wanted to thank you all for the outpouring of support and love, to which I cannot reply with what you deserve. This is the best I can do right now. Accept ... or unsubscribe : )"

With love,
Boswell (

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Going Inward

Dear friends,

There hasn't been much change since my last post, but I thought I'd offer this update nonetheless. Mimi's dad Bob and stepmom Marilyn are here visiting this week; sister-in-law Vicki and niece Lizzie arrive on Friday. Mimi's energy and appetite are still up and down, and she's requested us not to add any further visitors to her calendar for the time being. She spends a lot of time resting between visits - the amount of time seems to increase gradually each day. This, according to the information provided by hospice, is to be expected. In addition to the physical need for more rest, "the dying person begins to withdraw from the world and do the important work of processing one's life." (Paraphrased from the Barbara Karnes booklet I mentioned in the previous post.) So we don't expect Mimi to try harder to interact or push herself to have more energy. She doesn't expect this of herself either. I've been enjoying looking at Mimi's previous blog posts about her meditative experience, and here's something from 2012: "For ordinary activities we're usually told - and we tell ourselves - we need to try harder. But years ago I learned from a young woman who attended KMC NY to try softer. I'm not entirely sure what that means, but I find it beautiful and enjoy contemplating it." So imagine with me that Mimi is absorbed in trying softer, even in the midst of visits with family, friends and hospice personnel. (In a strange twist of Boswell-scheduling, we had eight people at once in Mimi and Richard's small house today. Even as I write this post, Mimi is resting on the sofa while Dad and Marilyn visit with Susan in the dining area and Liz chats with Richard in the kitchen. The hospice social worker just departed.) It's a pleasure and an honor to abide with Mimi at this time, and as she says in a reference to the quotable cult movie The Big Lebowski, "I tell myself the Dudette Abides...or tries to." I hope you all have a similarly fun and inspiring experience with abiding.

With love,

Friday, July 29, 2016

Questions and Answers

Dear ones,

Many of you are asking wonderful, insightful questions by email and in person. Boswell has been answering your questions individually, and thought it would be helpful to everyone to post those answers here. Leave more questions in the comments or send them via Boswell-mail:

How is Mimi doing?
Mimi's health is pretty much the same since the last post three days ago. Her status probably won't change suddenly, it'll be more of a gradual decline - more on that below. If any sudden changes occur, they'll be posted asap here. This blog server seems to take several hours to send out updates by email, so you might want to check the blog link regularly. You will hopefully see at least a brief update every three or four days. Always, always feel free to email Boswell at any time. You may not receive a long reply, but the more detailed your question is, the more likely you'll get a detailed answer. If you don't hear back within a day, it's totally ok to send another message. Your caring and concern are appreciated!

What spiritual practice is Mimi relying on?
Right now Mimi is especially drawn to Avalokiteshvara and Vajrayogini. Tech-savvy friends have created recorded loops of mantra recitations (OM MANI PÄME HUM and the three-OM mantra) to be played when Mimi's physical and mental activity decline further. From Boswell's perspective, Mimi also seems to be relying on the minds of patient acceptance and cherishing others that she has developed over her years of Buddhist practice and her cancer journey. You can read all about her experience with this on other blog posts. As mentioned in the post prior to this one, Offering to the Spiritual Guide was a particularly energizing practice for Mimi at the beginning of this week. Perhaps another puja will happen here again on August 10th.

Can I come visit Mimi?
Of course! As reported in the last blog post, Mimi's energy is up and down. A few times over the last couple of weeks a visit has had to be rescheduled because she was too worn out to receive visitors. But even though they might not have a chance to see Mimi, visitors are nonetheless most welcome! (The best way to set that up is to send an email to Kind local friends have been stopping by to help with chores and provide respite care so that Richard can have breaks. Family members are here from out of town this weekend and next week to visit and help. Even if you're not able to be here in person, there is nonetheless a very important way for you to help! Here's what Mimi asked for in a group email she sent a few weeks ago after receiving her prognosis: "Please pray that I continue to have a peaceful mind throughout this dying process, deeply connected to Geshe-la at my heart."

What is Mimi's prognosis?
In the same email quoted above, Mimi says, "Apparently I've come to the last lap of this current 'race' (but not at all at a fast pace for me)." One could read that last part in parentheses in a couple of different ways. It's true that Mimi is spending quite a bit of time in physical inactivity as the cancer and side effects of medications drain her energy, and when she does get up she definitely doesn't move very fast. But she also doesn't seem to be heading very quickly toward the deadline (pardon the gallows humor) she received from her doctor. Five-and-a-half years ago, Mimi was first diagnosed with and treated for leptomeningeal disease, or cancer of the brain lining, which is commonly considered to be a marker of end stage cancer. Mimi's doctors have been astounded by the amazing good health she's experienced over the last 5+ years. (In fact, they call her a medical miracle, to which Mimi's response in a 2013 blog post is, "That probably isn't technically correct: I don't think I've ever heard any Buddhist use the word 'miracle,' but maybe I can get away with 'miraculous' as in extraordinary, as in emanated by the Buddhas.") It seems that her latest prognosis is not at all a departure from the miraculous story of Mimi's cancer adventure. Today is close to the approximate day Mimi was given for when she could expect her life to end, and she's still full of vitality and love! Ordinary prognoses don't appear to apply here - prayers and Mimi's mind of faith have truly worked to sustain her.

What happens next?
As mentioned above, Mimi's health will probably continue on the gradual (very gradual) decline it's been on over the last few weeks. Now that pain and other physical symptoms are under control, there probably won't be any further medical emergencies to contend with. If symptom control becomes an issue, there's a very responsive hospice team only a phone call away, and the hospice nurse provided an arsenal of medications to help with common end-of-life symptoms. The hospice social worker provided a booklet called Gone from My Sight: the Dying Experience, written by award-winning hospice nurse Barbara Karnes. The booklet describes the physical changes that can be expected during the dying process. If you're interested, the booklet can be downloaded in Kindle or purchased on Amazon, and you can also find helpful information at Barbara Karnes' website. Boswell has also been reading a book called Final Journeys by long-time hospice nurse Maggie Callanan, which uses real-life (real-death?) examples of hospice patients to highlight important end-of-life considerations and issues. This book is also available on Kindle/Amazon, or you can link to it here.

Hope this is helpful and that you enjoy this quote from a humorous post by Mimi from a few years ago: "It's kinda fun, and interesting, to write about yourself in the 3rd person. I've never thought of this before in terms of writing, but it seems useful as another way of looking at the emptiness of our self. We commonly, instinctively, think of ourself in the 1st person, as me or I. So what happens when we put ourself into a character of she or he? It's a bit like becoming That Mountain, looking back at This Mountain. You see yourself from the outside, as others might view you, but of course everyone's view is different."

Monday, July 25, 2016

Saying "Enough"

Hi all, it's another Mimi update from her Boswell. Some of you have been inquiring by email about Mimi's status - many apologies for the delay in responding and in updating this blog. It's been a busy week around here with family visiting from Florida and a friend visiting from New York. Next week will bring more family from New Jersey. How wonderful that loved ones are making the pilgrimage from near and far!

Many of our Seattle friends, along with thousands of Kadampas from around the world, are making another kind of pilgrimage: they're on a spiritual holiday at Manjushri Centre in England, attending the International Summer Festival that occurs every year at about this time. Local friends who aren't at Summer Festival this year are putting in extra hours to help out with cleaning and other chores, or just to be present while Mimi rests so that Richard can take a break. A friend who has experience with caring for a loved one on hospice calls these "respite visits." It's been so helpful for Richard to have this assistance - thank you, amazing friends! Your gift of cherishing is so precious.

As of the last report about ten days ago, Mimi's energy was good and she had been receiving up to five visitors a day. More recently, her energy levels have waned a bit and, outside of the respite visits, we've reduced her schedule to about two visitors per day. The remainder of the time she's been spending in bed to rest up and charge her batteries for the next visit. She's been spending more time sleeping and her appetite has decreased. Then Kadam Heather came up yesterday from Portland to spend the night here, and it was such an energizing visit for Mimi! Today Heather presided over Offering to Spiritual Guide right by Mimi's bedside so that Mimi could rest when she needed to during the two-hour puja. We coordinated with some friends at Manjushri Centre and timed the puja so that we were all making prayers at the same time. It was magical! Email me at if you'd like to see pictures.

Mimi's physical state is going through ups and downs, but her mind, as usual, stays peaceful and positive. As you might remember from her previous blogs, Mimi considers her experience with cancer as an opportunity to receive daily teachings on samsara's true nature. She views suffering and difficulty as gifts that help us to become deeply familiar with our real situation. Mimi has written that her approach to adversity is "not just to welcome it, but to thank it for being there, showing honestly the face of samsara, rather than the mask, which fools me into thinking there's some real pleasure here. I don't want to hang out in this impure world. I don't want temporary pleasures to hook me into believing they're what's going to make my life happy." If you want to read more of her thoughts about how deceptive samsara can be, and about renunciation, samsara's antidote, see this blog post (especially the last paragraph). It will blow your mind.

Send emails, post comments - it's wonderful to hear from you!

Friday, July 15, 2016

To Contentment and Beyond

Hello Friends of Mimi,

Boswell here.  All of your love and wishes are coming through and are deeply appreciated.  Mimi is still looking over her email occasionally so she has seen your kind messages.  In Mimi's own words from a post last April: "I deeply appreciate your prayers for me. You can see that they work. Makes it so easy to have faith."  As always, please feel free to add a comment to this blog post, send a reply message to Mimi, or email me at

Just wanted to give you an update on Mimi's current state of health.  As a background, here's a wrap-up of the last 7 years of Mimi's cancer adventure in one sentence: she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and underwent treatment; has had chemo on and off to address recurring abdominal tumors; had a metastasis to the brain a few years ago and was treated with surgery, radiation and chemo; and was most recently advised by her doctor that curative care is no longer an option.  And so she is now on hospice and preparing for a peaceful death.  The tumors in Mimi's abdomen are growing noticeably, and a recent brain scan indicates that she has cancerous lesions on the meninges of the brain, also known as leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, carcinomatous meningitis, and a host of other long-syllabled medical terms.  The brain cancer causes inflammation, so Mimi is once again taking a steroid called dexamethasone to keep the swelling down.  She's written about taking this medication in previous blog posts - it's the one that makes her really talkative, energetic and HUNGRY!  We can maybe consider these side effects to be a blessing as she has been receiving many visitors from near and far, and she has sufficient energy to engage in conversation.  She's also eating really well which is helping her to keep up her strength.  Many friends are bringing food to share during their visits - in fact, we're expecting Sally with dinner any minute now.  It's a gift for Mimi (and for us all) for her to be able to share these moments with friends and family.  The last few days have brought a poetry reading (Lynn Ann), an industrious cleaning of the master bedroom (Linda L), a tidying up of the garden (Linda S), and many kind and friendly ears to listen to Mimi's thoughts about the end of her life (Heather, Brian, Laurie, Eve, Kit, Noreen).  As the weekend approaches, her social calendar continues to be full and family arrives on Monday morning.

Anyway, to continue the "state of the union" regarding Mimi's current health situation, she's on a transdermal patch to control pain, two medications for nausea, and a variety of other meds to deal with the side effects of the main medications.  As we all know from our interactions with Mimi, she's an amazing example of practicing contentment in the face of adversity.  In a post from January of this year she wrote, "Thankfully I know my body is *not* "me," so I am still happy … and hope you are too."  It's an inspiration to witness how her positive habits of mind continue to sustain her happiness, even as she encounters these challenges.  May we all have such courage and strength!

The brain cancer, the many years of chemotherapy drugs, and the current medications are causing unavoidable cognitive decline.  About this phenomenon, she said in a post from June 2015 that, "my mind is good, my brain not so much."  She seems to lose a little bit of energy each day and yet she's a gracious hostess, always looking after the comfort of her guests.  I'll end this post with her expression of gratitude from a couple of years ago:
"Thank you, Buddha.
Thank you, Sangha.
Thank you to everyone who's been making prayers and offering good thoughts."

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

In the Spirit of Family

Hi everyone,

Rebecca (aka Boswell) here.  Thank you all so much for your emails and blog comments to Mimi.  Some of you have received replies from her in the last couple of days. Sunday brought a harrowing trip to the emergency room to deal with unexpected and brutal head pain, combined with nausea and pretty much constant vomiting.  In the face of that recent challenge, Mimi has kept a strong interest in maintaining connections with her Kadampa family and all her friends around the world.  Please keep your messages coming - you can comment here, email Mimi directly or send messages to my email address

The excellent and expert care that Mimi received at the Swedish Ballard ER on Sunday contributed to a surprisingly pain-free, festive and fun Monday.  It was a day full of love and life.  Mimi's friend Kate is about halfway through her 10-day visit and has been providing invaluable support in the form of organizing, cleaning, shopping and attending to all kinds of tasks and decisions.  Yesterday was also punctuated with early visits from friends Liz and Gayle, then fly-bys from Ellen and Katherine.  Mimi has been having so much fun engaging her friends in conversation and jokes!  (One of her medications has the bonus side effect of making her very talkative, giving us the opportunity to enjoy her quirky, one-of-a-kind humor.)  One of Mimi's many passions is literature, and she has a wonderful collection of classic novels.  She's hoping that all of her friends and family who visit have an opportunity to look over her "please take" books and choose one or more that appeal to them.  (I heard that Katherine left with a few ;)  The evening was a festival of pure delight with delicious homemade gnocchi from Marie, accompanied by lovely music from Mel.  We were singing, reminiscing and enjoying the atmosphere of love and family, when Richard was inspired to play this song by Dar Williams.  "Let your love cover me / Like a pair of angel wings / You are my family / You are my family."  There were more than a few happy tears, please give the song a listen if you have a chance.  You might not have been here in person, but because your love for Mimi is so strong and present, you were definitely here in spirit.

Today started with a visit from Marsha who chatted with Mimi for a while then went out to the backyard with Richard to pick the abundance of greens that are taking over the garden.  Some of these fresh greens contributed to our lunch - yum!  The afternoon took on a business-like atmosphere, although there were still plenty of jokes - we were visited by an intake nurse from Providence Hospice.  Hospice is an amazing service and has many hidden good qualities.  It's meant for people with "life-limiting illnesses who are no longer seeking curative treatment" (quoted, not quite exactly, from the FAQs at the link above).  Many people think of hospice as applicable only during the final days of life, and only meant to keep the patient as comfortable as possible, but it's so much more than that.  Hospice provides weeks and even months of nursing support, hospital equipment and supplies delivered to the home, medications, doctor liaison services, home health aides, social services including end-of-life decision assistance, volunteer house-cleaners and errand-runners, and chaplain visits should the patient choose to have them.  It's a system of comprehensive support that allows the patient to direct, as much as possible, the circumstances surrounding their own death.  Hospice care is designed to make the death process as peaceful as possible for the dying person, which according to Buddhist practice, is crucial for the process of transference of consciousness.  Hospice also provides invaluable support and guidance to the friends and family of the patient - the compassion and love are shining right through the booklets and documents we received!  And, get this, hospice services are covered 100% by Medicare and by most private health care plans.  The support of hospice care is going to be such a blessing in the coming days and weeks.  The first delivery of supplies has already arrived at the front door.

The next few days will bring more visits with Seattle friends, Mimi's sister flying in from Florida accompanied by Richard's brother and sister-in-law, and Kadam Heather visiting from Portland.  What a loving extended family we have!  Thank you for being part of it.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Introducing Rebecca LaFond

of whom I am very fond ...
She is my "Boswell"

She's going to be writing updates if you want health updates.


Hi all, Rebecca here.  Mimi wrote the above a couple of days ago when she was feeling fairly energetic.  Since then she's had a trip to the ER to deal with pain and nausea, is now at home resting comfortably.  She will probably be going into hospice this week, and has the intention to stay at home.  Mimi is looking forward to receiving visits from local friends and from far away friends if you'd like to make arrangements.  Please be sure to email me at the address below if you'd like to plan a visit - emails to Mimi's and Richard's email addresses are less likely to be attended to.  I will pass along your email wishes and comments on this blog to Mimi, so please keep them coming.

Please email me with YOUR NAME in the subject line if you'd like to schedule a visit.

As you know, Mimi has a deep interest in English literature and is very articulate and wonderful with metaphor - unfortunately for those of you reading this blog, I'm of a more scientific, linear nature.  As an insight into Mimi's mind, see this link to see what she means by calling me her "Boswell".  He's an 18th century writer who documented his subject's doings continuously, and made them look good in the process.  It's hard for me not to make Mimi look good - she's such an inspiration!  I hope you all get a chance to interact with her in some way in the upcoming days.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Let It Snow ....

Why is that out-of-season song in my head at the moment? I DO have a place to go - an important place - I just don't know yet where.

This former English major has also been thinking about those lines from T.S. Eliot's poem The Love Song of Alfred Proofrock, " ... and in short, I was afraid." But actually I'm not. ...
Maybe just too dumb for that : )
Something better than nothing? Or are you one of those "no news is good news" folks?

Maybe soon a more reasonable person will be posting updates here.

Mainly I wanted to thank you all for the outpouring of support and love, to which I cannot reply with what you deserve. This is the best I can do right now. Accept ... or unsubscribe : )


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Beginning ...

... of the End

You may remember one of my favorite jokes, by the deadpan comedian Steven Wright, who says, "I plan to live forever ... [pause] ... so far, so good."
Well, that plan isn't going to work much longer for me.

Best to use this post to generate compassion - for everyone, which early on I learned also includes me (that is, you!). From there, as Buddha teaches, widen your scope from those closest and dearest to you - say, family and friends - eventually to all living beings, and not just humans and furry animals.
I find that reading or hearing about intense suffering around the world, day by day in the news, really helps. Looking back at history also helps. Gives me a broader view, for one.

Mostly my cancer story over the past 7+ years is filled with extraordinary surprises that I attribute to Buddhism and to your support and prayers. I see even conventional doctors as a form of Medicine Buddha, and their treatments as medicines that ultimately come from him. All those special medical specialists have been amazed when I've defied their expectations again and again.

But last week's Brain MRI scan wasn't what would usually be described as good. I'm getting closer to my actual "expiration date." Mostly things are headed downward, probably faster than in the past. Happy to supply details if you want them and I can (increasing brain problems have prevented me for updating you as often as I'd like).

Please think especially of R, who is so important to me, in far more ways than I can describe here. It's easy to see the karma in his connection to me. After all, no normal  person would be spending so much time with me, over years and years : )
He has it much worse than I do: I'm like the person going on a trip, having to leave other loved ones at home.
Only this time, in a while, you won't see or hear me again in this form. I'm like that actor playing a role for a time, then moving on to another role, on a different stage - hopefully the gorgeous one of a heavenly place, such as Keajra, where there is no suffering, only goodness for all.

I'm in a good place, deeply grateful for all the kinds of support. Glad to know that my body (including my brain) has a relationship to my mind, but that my heart (or "soul" if you like) will be going onward. Again, I'll say that Buddhist ideas are deeply comforting to me. Notably karma and death, of all things!

Peace. Love and Compassion to All,

Saturday, May 14, 2016


Hello all.
I got back from US Festival and visits with various family a few days ago.

One of the many highlights of Gen-la Dekyong's teachings on the life of Buddha Shakyamuni was a way for us to test our renunciation: Are we surprised or even shocked when something goes wrong? Do we really understand that the nature of samsara is constant suffering? If we do, then anything negative, strange or unexpected that happens should be considered normal, par for the course. You can consider the U.S. presidential race as one example.

I knew that test told me I still had work to do, especially when I got my latest tumor marker number. After just 2 treatments of the immunotherapy drug Opdivo before the trip, it had gone down 100 points. I was also looking better - according to various folks, including my oncologist - and feeling better, with a bit more energy. So I'll admit I was very surprised at yesterday's result, where my marker went up 200+ points.
I'm not there yet for renunciation, but not discouraged either. As Gen Rigpa told us in his Introduction Friday night, we should be like a toddler who falls when trying to walk but keeps getting up and trying again.

R & I thought we had a green light to go to Summer Festival, via Iceland, but the light is now back at yellow.

Please make prayers that I - and everyone else with the wish - can be at Manjushri KMC to receive the transmission of the Oral Instructions of Mahamudra.

Many thanks,

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Prayers Please for Christine

Please make strong prayers that the conditions come together for a better life for Christine.
I'm sure those would make a big difference; you know I believe in the power of prayer!

Thank you.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Where I've Landed

After a few weeks of medical tests, scans & appointments, followed by a shorter period of limbo, I'm ready to update you about the latest phase of my treatments.
Because of the extraordinary, indefatigable efforts by my oncologist Dr K, I am now on the immunotherapy drug Opdivo, which after just 2 infusions has already lowered my cancer marker by more than 100. That drug has been FDA-approved for some cancers, but I am getting it as "compassionate care" from its maker, Bristol Meyers Squibb, at no cost.
As with other targeted therapies, it has almost no side effects, because it can distinguish between healthy tissue and the other kind. I do have a bit of lingering fatigue, which I'm inclined to believe is from the 25 pelvic radiations I recently had over 5 weeks.
Soon I will also be getting 5 CyberKnife radiations to the very small bit of my brain where a tumor has regrown.

Just like the skies in Seattle, my health forecast looks like sunny days ahead ... so sunny that at the end of the month I am going to U.S. Festival and then visiting family.
Yesterday I registered for the very special Summer Festival in England.

Thank you so much for your ongoing prayers and support, which have brought me where I am now, my 7-year cancerversary. Celebrate!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

U.S. Fest registration opens Feb 24

Registration for U.S. Festival with Gen-la Dekyong opens Wed, Feb 24 at 9am Pacific time (noon Eastern time). If you want to stay at the cheaper housing onsite (except for you hardy souls who camp), plan to sign up as soon as reg opens.
This year the Festival is Friday April 29 - Wednesday May 4.
More info at A Blissful Journey: Being Inspired by Buddha's Life & Example.

Dorje Shugden has been exceedingly helpful in removing problems to fulfill my wishes to attend various Celebrations and Festivals. I like to say he is the "best travel agent." With that referral, I recommend talking to him, or one of his good friends.

good results so far

Hello Friends!
I found out last night that my CA-125 marker for ovarian cancer went down, from 482 two weeks ago to 428. I believe that means the Topo chemo is (finally) working.

Do you think it's a coincidence that R & I - and lots of other NW Sangha - went to the Western Canada Dharma Celebration with Gen-la Khyenrab and Gen Thekchen last weekend, for the empowerment of Avalokiteshvara, and teachings and meditations on the practices of him and powa?

So many precious insights to take away, including that the brain is the "organ of confusion," so we should put aside questions like whether we have really gotten the deceased to the Pure Land. What is "real" anyway, when everything is ultimately mere imputation? 

Of course, that doesn't mean that we have blind faith. Buddhism encourages us all to personally investigate the teachings - to actively "interrogate" what Buddha says, through experiments in our daily lives (is this making me happier?, is this making my relationships better? for example); through deeply contemplating and meditating on the reasonings; and through recognizing the long history of Masters who are the source of this wisdom, starting with Buddha Shakyamuni.

Last Wed I started radiation too, to receive blessed lights to reduce or maybe even eliminate the tumor pressing on my bladder and causing incontinence. That treatment will be every weekday for at least 4 weeks. 
Thankfully I have Sangha friends who will drive me - which gives us a good chance to talk. I see it as a nice way of relying on Sangha. I "ain't too proud to beg" when my driving is unsteady. Thank you Cecilia & Deb for the continuing rides to class, and to Susan, Jeff, Marsha, Mary, James and Marie, as well as other "players yet to be named" (as they say in baseball trades) who have driven me to & from medical appointments, none of which is ordinary.

For further tests, my regular brain MRI scan is Wed, Feb 24, and my torso CT is Mon, Feb 29, after which we will know more.

Thank you for your continuing support.
Prayers always appreciated. You keep me here.


Friday, February 12, 2016

Prayers for Cindy's Mom, Susan

Please make strong healing prayers for Susan Irwin, who is in Intensive Care.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A Long Overdue Update

Let’s see … where was I?

Last you heard, I was still on Gemzar chemo. Since then I have moved to another one, called Topotecan, because when the previous chemo had stopped doing its job, I had to fire it. (My tumor marker shot up this Fall, and kept shooting up.)

I’ve had 3 infusions of the Topo nectar now and will get a tumor-marker test this week to see whether it’s working.

Thankfully I know my body is *not* "me," so I am still happy … and hope you are too.
Know that there can be various difficulties with you body that with training won't damage your state of mind. It's true!

At the end of December I was in limbo, waiting to see if I could get on a promising clinical trial (which didn’t open more slots) and then another one (which seemed to dissolve, leaving no trace). Until I can find a good trial, I am back on chemo.

On this new Topo regime, I’ve had more side effects, which took me several days to adjust to and figure out.
Acceptance is a big part of my practice. There’s a lot I’d like to write about that, but for now I will simply say it creates a space to understand where I am, and then the room to move forward.
Now I feel like I am back on my board, surfing those swells, rather than being pounded by them.

Here's a slice of my life about medications:
In ordinary terms it’s a lot easier because I now have routines for them. Yet they still take up a surprising amount of time, on top of my existing routines: For example, I have many pills, which have different dosages, to take at different times of day, with and without meals or whenever. I have 7 different-colored pill containers (holding pills of different colors, with white being especially popular), some pill boxes by the bed, some by the kitchen; the newer ones with notes attached about what they are and how to take them. It helps me to see when the box (a day of the week) within the (pill)box is empty, to confirm I've already taken that dose. That’s not including the “take as needed” prescriptions.
I think I could teach a medicine-management workshop.

Does that all make me a juggler? Not that anyone would want to watch. Hopefully another ball won't be thrown in for a little while, while I finish mastering the current routine.

I think that's everything for now. I will do my best to provide more frequent health updates, because people keep asking for them


Sunday, January 17, 2016

Imputation & Online IDs

I tend to think of self-generation as a Buddhist Deity as being a foreign experience, as something brand new that I need to learn from scratch. But if you're online, especially if you're playing a game such as a MMOPRG (Massively-Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) or you're in some kind of virtual reality, you're creating (generating) yourself. You're a different person (an avatar). You have a special name, with special characteristics (think of a superpower like flying), in a different body or shape, with different clothes (maybe even armor), with special implements, with special friends, all in a special world. That sounds just like generating yourself as Vajrayogini in her Pure Land, doesn't it? In other words, we already know how to do this.

Unlike when we're new to Tantra, in an online game we're not thinking, "I am pretending to be this character," because we're so immersed in that world. We don't tell ourselves, "I who am watching this character on my screen, am not really that character." We don't step back and analyze. We don't bother with questioning its existence, because we're fully into it. We've chosen to be there. We want to be there. When we're immersed, we're fully inside that life - we've left our ordinary world completely behind. If we could, we'd stay there for a very long time. There's a reason it's sometimes called an "escape."

Unlike our varying imputations as daughter, aunt, student, editor, and so on, we deliberately, consciously choose our various online identities. Sometimes even our user names have a special and/or secret quality to us, reflecting a particular aspect of ourselves.

I won't even mention the anonymity that allows us to show our worst qualities, to vent anger and hate.

There's also the underlying almost-emptiness of it all. Anything "virtual," meaning  computer-generated, is made of  1's and 0's - a pretty flimsy basis for so much of our current experience. If you think about it, obviously computer software comes from someone's mind. The program wasn't there until someone dreamed it up. When we're working on a computer device (smartphone, tablet, etc.), we're not investigating where those appearances on-screen are coming from, what they're made of, how they came into being. We just go with it all because it functions.

Even if you consider yourself a technophobe (which of course is a kind of identity / imputation), and you don't spend much time online or even avoid it entirely, if you've ever been absorbed in a book or a movie, you know this experience. For example, when we're reading, we're not conscious of "I am holding a book, a collection of pages with markings" - or what a Microsoft researcher used to call "sooty marks on dead trees." You're most likely identifying with the hero/heroine or anti-hero at the center of the story.

So let's stop pretending we don't get it, and get on with it.

Monday, January 11, 2016

A Possibly Easier Way to Download the Index

Happy 2016!

The master index of all Geshe-la's books is now on Google drive.
I'd really like to know if this works better for you.

Wishing you all the best this year and beyond,

P.S. The master index has been removed from DropBox.