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The Healing Tree



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This book might not have come into being but for my long association with the Planetree Alliance. I have unbounded respect for the vision of Planetree, and the highest admiration for the people behind the effort, including Patrick Charmel, Susan Frampton, Laura Gilpin, Randy Carter, and the rest of the incredible staff. In The Healing Tree, Maggie quotes T.S. Eliot in saying that “great poets steal.” I admit to having been sorely tempted to do just that when I read Laura’s brilliant book of poetry, The Hocus-Pocus of the Universe.

I also appreciate the support and encouragement for my work on The Twelve Core Action Values from hospitals across the country. In addition to Pat Charmel, CEO of Griffin Hospital, I wish to recognize Dave Gilbreath of Central Peninsula General Hospital, Charlie Franz of South Peninsula Hospital, Mimi Roberson of Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center, Todd Linden of Grinnell Regional Medical Center, Sandy Haryasz of Page Hospital, Leigh Cox of Navapache Regional Medical Center, Les Donahue of Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital, Steve Carlson of Flagstaff Medical Center, Don Patterson of Washington County Hospital and Clinic, Genny Maroc of Marengo Memorial Hospital, Linda Shearer of Immanuel Lutheran Corporation, Heidi Gil of United Methodist Homes, and Kathleen Allman of the Millennium Surgery Center.

I hope that anyone who reads The Healing Tree will see that the healing principles of care-giving apply to every organization, not just hospitals. In that regard, I’m grateful for the support of Jeff Stroburg and the incredible team at West Central, Kurt and Mari Stocker and the good folks of Broken Arrow, Paul Cox and all of the Rangers of Grand Canyon National Park, and Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown of Keller Williams Realty. I’m especially thankful for the support and friendship of CEO Roger Looyenga and the rest of the crew at Auto-Owners Insurance Company, a Fortune 500 corporation filled with “No Problem” people for whom customer service and care-giving are one and the same.

I wish I could mention all the people who have been a personal inspiration. Sally Kletzky’s angel sits side-by-side with Maggie’s angel on my bookshelf and in my heart. Nick Yutzy is a real-world Bill Terry. Professional speakers W. Mitchell and the late Art Berg showed that, to quote the title of Mitchell’s book, it’s not what happens to you, it’s what you do about it. Speaking of speaking, I am grateful to the speakers bureaus that have helped me share The Twelve Core Action Values with their clients across the country.

Dick Schwab has been an outstanding role model and counselor, as have the other members of my Accountability Advisory Board. Every time I found myself stuck or blocked, I would re-read Steven Pressfield’s masterful The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle and get back to work. Al Weber, Dave Popelka, Tony Thrush, and the other creative and hardworking folks at the Sigler Companies transformed the book from mere manuscript into finished product on time and on budget. Elena Barabashova is the net genius who designed my web sites. I suppose I owe a tip of the hat to the neighbor’s hound whose incessant barking reminded me that the world will not keep quiet so you can think – you have to teach yourself to think despite the noise.

I am thankful to the many poets, living and dead, who (without knowing they had done so) took me under their literary wings in the same way that Maggie adopted Carrie Anne. At the top of the list is Billy Collins, who showed me that poems don’t have to be stuffy and stilted to be considered real poetry. Carrie Anne’s poem The Envelope, Please is based on one written by Annie Tye when she was in the second grade, and the Vladimir Nabokov quote that Maggie shared with Carrie Anne was lifted from Doug Tye’s Honors Thesis at The University of Iowa, where he is now a graduate assistant in the English Department. Special thanks to McZen for allowing me to quote several of his poems in this book (you can see more of his work at And to Dr. Ellen Cram for that long-ago post-it note: “If this can sell…”

With every word of this book, I was reminded of how important family is, and how lucky I am to have mine. For Mom and Dad, I hope I haven’t fallen far from the tree under which you sheltered us kids. For Steven, Nancy, and Allen, I couldn’t be prouder of how quickly and how far you have moved out from under the shadow of big brother. Above all, The Healing Tree was inspired by, and is a reflection of, my eternal love for Sally, Annie, and Doug. You are my miracle!

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