Tag Archives: Paul

Graduations

GTU Commencement 7 May 2022
GTU Commencement 7 May 2022

Spring is graduation season and this year, I joyfully walked the stage in-person for my Graduate Theological Union – Master’sTheology degree, as well as graduating three of my own student-mentees from the University of the South – School of Theology – Education for Ministry (EfM) extension program.

My GTU – MA and Master’s hood were officially presented online last year* but GTU offered the 2020 and 2021 pandemic-years graduates an opportunity to walk in-person this year. I was hooded by Associate Dean of Students, Dr. Wendy Arce in a ceremony at the First Congregational Church of Berkeley. I was also awarded the Interreligious Chaplaincy Certificate, as only the second person to complete the new GTU – ICP program. Part of ICP is completing a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), which for me meant working part-time as a Chaplain Intern for five months at Stanford Hospital during a pandemic surge. Several of us from Stanford Hospital – Spiritual Care Services graduated from GTU together this year. I was happy that my family which lovingly supported me during my long educational journey was present for my graduation.

Co-Mentor Karen LeBlanc, with whom I have led EfM seminars together for over twelve years, celebrated with me the graduations of Joel Martinez (graduated 2020, diploma presented 2022) and Beth Hopf at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church (Saratoga, CA), and Mark LeBlanc (Karen’s husband) at St. Jude’s Episcopal Church (Cupertino, CA). Joel, Beth, and Mark faithfully completed four years of EfM study and theological reflection on the Bible, church history, theology, and ethics.

*Read my thesis here: “Range of Chaplain Engagement with Prisoners”

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Pandemic-motivated Weight Loss

Weight loss was a decision that came out of my experience as a Chaplain Intern at Stanford Hospital (September 2021 – February 2022). I worked there during a COVID-19 pandemic surge and as part of my duties, provided family support and decedent care for a number of patients whose comorbidities (including obesity, diabetes, and asthma) seemed to contribute to their early death. I decided to act on my doctor’s long-standing advice and do what I could to reduce my own potential for a similar end.

The most I have ever weighed was 212 pounds, in 2007. Starting in October 2021, I followed my son Paul‘s good example and started using the Noom program for weight loss and wellness. Paul and John are also losing weight and we find that doing so as a family is easier. So far, I have lost over fifty pounds. I have about fifteen to go before I reach the weight that my doctor recommends. I feel better and am enjoying getting new clothes (and having more choices in the smaller sizes). Attending a deathbed may seem like an extreme reason to lose weight but it made a big impression on me.

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Boruca in the Rain Forest

Jaguar and hummingbird rain forest carvings, Boruca, Costa Rica, August 2021

In August 2021, John Plocher, Paul D. Goodman and I enjoyed a lovely vacation at Cielo Lodge in GolfitoCosta Rica during which we were delighted to visit the indigenous artisans of Boruca in their mountain village. We brought home two carvings to celebrate the 10th wedding anniversary of our daughter and son-in-law, Jessica Dickinson Goodman and Matthew Holmes. In a prior blog, I wrote about the Boruca carvings in balsa wood of nature, particularly jaguars (symbolizing male power and protection of the tribe) and butterflies (symbolizing female power and beauty). The symbolism of a butterfly and a jaguar to celebrate a wedding anniversary seemed right.

This is to consider another aspect of these carvings, the faces in the rainforest. In both the butterfly carving by Gabriel Leira (above) and the one by Markos Boruca (below), you can see a brown face with yellow, green, blue, white, and other colored lines highlighting the features. Our indigenous guide told us that these faces represent the Boruca people who are also part of the forest.

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Mexican Alebrijes, Boruca Masks of Costa Rica

Our family just returned from a lovely vacation at Cielo Lodge in GolfitoCosta Rica where, among other discoveries, I learned about the indigenous artisans of Boruca. The Boruca folk art wood carvings remind me strongly of Mexican Alebrijes. Many years ago, I started a collection of Alebrijes when I was a member of the Board of the Mexican Museum in San Francisco. Alebrijes are fantastical folk sculptures often originating from Oaxaca. They are carved from copal wood and other materials, then painted. Many times it is the carver who signs the piece but the painting is often done by the whole family. Many people were introduced to Alebrijes as spirit guardians in the 2017 Disney movie Coco.

In the Boruca village, our indigenous guide told us that the carving wood is from the fast-growing balsa and designs are often inspired by traditional masks from the Danza de los Diablos ceremony. The annual ceremony celebrates the Costa Rican tribe fighting off the Spanish Conquistadores. Devils are a common theme in Boruca carvings but there are also images from nature, particularly jaguars (symbolizing male power and protection of the tribe) and butterflies (symbolizing female power and beauty). The bright blue Morpho butterfly is a favorite.

Insect Alebrijes by Tribus Mixes, Oaxaca, Mexico

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Lovely Costa Rica

Rainbow from Cielo Lodge, Golfito, Costa Rica, August 2021

John and Paul and I just returned from a lovely, restful vacation at Cielo Lodge in Golfito, Costa Rica. We had planned to be there for ten days but American Airlanes stranded us for two days in Dallas, Texas, on our way out (and then refused to communicate online or by phone, or reimburse for hotels or rides) so we had a shorter vacation. We got to see a remarkable number of Costa Rican plants and animals (here is my partial list), as well as visiting the indigenous artisans village of Boruca. John even got to explore what is left of two old trains from the Ferrocarril del Sur line in Golfito. The food at Cielo Lodge by Chef Cesar Chinchilla was excellent and we were very well cared for by owners Nicole and Keith Goldstein. Daniel Fonck, the staff naturalist, and manager and gardener Catalina Torres answered endless questions patiently.

This trip was to belatedly celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary, postponed in 2020 because of the pandemic. Even though Costa Rica is at the top level of Covid-19 danger (CDC Level 4 – Very High), we felt safe. The eco-lodge is isolated and when we were in public, most people wore masks indoors and washed hands before entering any building. Before going to the airport to return to the USA, we took BinaxNow Covid-19 home tests to be sure none of us had caught the disease during our travels.

On the way home, we were able to see something of San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital, escorted by local guide Guiselle Sibaja. Of special interest was the Mercado Municipal De Artesanias, where we found the shop of Edgar Deo Alvarez of Guanacaste – Chorotega who makes traditional indigenous pit-fired pre-columbian-style ceramics and stone carvings.

Click for Video: Spotted grey dolphins, Golfito, Costa Rica, August 2021
Click for Video: Red eyed green frog, Cielo Lodge, Golfito, Costa Rica, August 2021
Click for Video: Coati – eating at Cielo Lodge, Golfito, Costa Rica, August 2021
Click for Video: Blunt headed tree snake, Cielo Lodge, Golfito, Costa Rica, August 2021

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Master of Arts Graduation!

GTU Commencement poster 2021-05-24
GTU Commencement poster May 2021

On 19 May 2021, I was graduated (virtually) with a Master of Arts degree from the Graduate Theological Union (Berkeley, California), followed by a second graduation on 23 May 2021 from Pacific School of Religion (part of the GTU consortium) with my Master’s hood and a Certificate of Spirituality and Social Change. My thesis title was “Range of Chaplain Engagement with Prisoners”. This will (eventually) appear in the ProQuest dissertation and thesis database. Thanks for the loving and patient support of my family, friends, and community. Hooray!

26 May 2021 Update: I am honored to have been accepted into the Doctor of Ministry (DMin) program of the Berkeley School of Theology! I am very interested in BST’s new cohort theme of “Racism/Prison Renewal/Reparations.”

Katy Dickinson graduation by John Plocher, 23 May 2021
Katy Dickinson graduation by John Plocher, 23 May 2021

6 June 2021 Update:

Katy Dickinson GTU - MA Diploma and hood, May 2021
Katy Dickinson GTU – MA Diploma and hood, May 2021

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20th Wedding Anniversary on 4 July


John and I are looking forward to our 20th wedding anniversary this weekend. Thinking back on some of our adventures and looking forward to many more. It is fun to be married to your best friend!

2020 virtual family dinner
2020 Mother’s Day
2018 family vacation
2018 Paul SJSU graduation
2018 St Andrew’s
2017 Katy Dickinson and John Plocher with UP1983 engine, Western Pacific Railroad Historical Convention, May 20172017 Reno
2016 Ashland
2016 Ashland
2016 Jessica Matthew John Paul Dunsmuir CA2016 Dunsmuir
2016 John Katy Klamath River CA2016 Klamath River
2015 Amtrak trip
2015 St Andrew’s
2014 John and Katy Lalibela, Ethiopia2014 Lalibela Ethiopia
2012 St Andrew’s
2012 Katy John Natural Bridges CA2012 Natural Bridges
2012 Jessica CMU graduation
2011 Jessica + Matthew
2011 Jessica Matthew wedding2011 Jessica + Matthew
2010 Lair Oski the bear, family camp2010 Lair of the Golden Bear camp
2010 Lair Oski the bear, family campLair of the Golden Bear camp 2010
2010 Teatro Zinzanni
2010 Teatro Zinzanni
2010 Teatro Zinzanni
2010 Aswan Egypt Katy John2010 Egypt
2010 Paul John Cairo Egypt2010 Cairo, Egypt
2008 John flying to Baja Mexico2008 Flying to Baja Mexico
2008 Katy flying to Baja Mexico2008 Baja
2007 Katy India2007 India
2007 John India2007 India
2007 Willow Glen Resident 25 May WP668 story2007 WP668 Caboose move
2007 Willow Glen Resident 25 May WP668 story2007 WP668 move
2006 John Dead Sea Israel2006 Dead Sea, Israel
2006 John Dead Sea Israel2006 Dead Sea, Israel
2006 John St Petersburg Russia2006 St. Peterburg, Russia
2006 John Katy St Petersburg Russia2006 Russia
2005 Katy John Beijing China2005 Beijing, China
2005 John Forbidden City Beijing China 2005 John Forbidden City Beijing China2005 China
2000 Katy John wedding mementoes 2000 Katy John wedding ketubah2000
2000 wedding
Paul Katy John Jessica wedding 4 July 20002000 wedding

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