Training on Empty, Diane’s Interview

Autumn is the season of release.  Just as nature is letting go and moving into a new season, so also can we.

In a recent interview Diane shares a few thoughts on her journey and letting go.  

To connect to the interview,

please click here


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I the Human

How do I justify my actions?

How do I speak until I’m heard.

Yes, I carry sexual shame,

birth the tales of past times and past types

through a womb woven in archetypes.

I am woman.

I bare the weight on my body,

the shame corresponding to primitive thoughts,

the resistance accumulated in intricate knots,

ridden my spine, my time, my mind,

forbidden my spine, my time, my mind

I am woman.

How do I carry such weight and reap the benefits of my work?

How do I find strength in numbers when I am only given two arms, two legs, two eyes, one spine.

Yes, I have limitations that don’t meet expectations.

I move in a manner that deems me “man-ner”

I am man.

How do I have behavior not acceptable in society?

Human behavior, rejected by humans.

I am man.

I can. I can’t. I can.

Woe is man.

Canning and Canting – the ritual of “I am”

Repress the feelings,

the fortitude of feelings that are inherently me.

The skin is me, is man. is we.

The skin is me, is woman, is z.

Yet we cease the unnorm, increase the uniform.

Can’t we see the uninformed, increase the introspection, the self reflection?

How do such “ideals” exist?

In a world where we grab and grab, push back, resist.

How can we do this?

How can we speak until we’re heard for who we are.

Human. Body. Feelings. Mind. Spine. Time and Stars.

I am man. I am woman. I am not man, I am me.

Legs closed:I am good. I am girl.

Legs open: I am bad. I am girl.

Can I exist without the perpetuation of parts?

Can’t I resist the lack of permission of phrases i learned when brain was susceptible to social satisfaction,

that time is now.

Canning and canting, the ritual of “I am”

“Be good girls.”

“Be good boys.”

“Do the best that you can.”

The mouth that spews this, is not the best, it shares the rest of what we all share.

It does not care for the rest , while it’s consciously forgetting what’s out there.

And I am doing my best to be good and to be girl,

in a world filled with this or that,

self or other

tit for tat,

when I could be doing my best to be, me and you and we.

I could be doing my best to see, I am not separate, I am not self, I am not me.

Yet I am occupied justifying my actions.

Our human behavior, rejected by humans.

Canning and canting the ritual of “I am.”

I, the Human.

– Whitney Harris

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Thinnest City in the US

I live in the thinnest town in the United States, healthy or harmful?

Read the article and watch the video:

Coping with Anorexia in America’s Thinnest City

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Eating Disorders and the Fear of the Ordinary

Amazing article! Check it out!

Eating Disorders and the Fear of the Ordinary by Donna Peterson


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Mom’s Wisdom on Food

Today I went to the tree that represents my mother for me. I asked her wisdom from death on my relationship with food. Her first question to me was “Diane, why search for a muffin when you want it gluten-free, dairy-free, no nuts, no butter, ON and ON. Why?? What kind of muffin are you looking for?!” I realized I want a muffin without pleasure. I want a GOOD muffin not a BAD muffin because I want to be a GOOD person, not a BAD person. When Im caught up worrying about GOOD or BAD there’s no pleasure. There’s no BEING. Seem familiar to anyone else? What would our dance with food look like if we moved beyond right and wrong? I’m curious. I wonder if we can become more in tune with what works for us individually.

Then I ask Mom about my food sensitivities. She said. “Diane, be respectful of food. Treat your food with respect, treat your body with respect….but mostly ENJOY your food. Food is great pleasure at it’s root.” It’s a pleasure until our mind gets involved and categorizes, separates, distinguishes and fusses.

I’m discovering and uncovering a fine dance of eating what feels good in my body and not getting caught up in trends or what others say is best. I am learning to listen and feel and mostly come home to my body while I still have a body. I’m learning more and more from my mom the only thing separating life from death is our bodies and this earth. We’re in a global shift from a place of making decision from our minds to making decision from our bodies and our relationship with the soul of the earth. I remember over and over again treat my body with R. E. S. P. E. C. T. !! Like Aretha says!

From talking to Mom in Death daily, I am wondering besides a body and this profoundly incredible earth WHAT ELSE WILL BE DIFFERENT IN DEATH? Maybe we won’t worry as much about gluten-free and dairy-free? I wonder. Mostly Mom says again “enjoy your food, Diane! enjoy your life! Relax into your food and see how you feel. I imagine, Diane, it will feel better.” “Thank you, Mom! I know how much you loved to eat. I always watched you in awe because your relationship with food was FREE!!” Freedom, isn’t this what we all truly want in life??
food as friend, food as freedom, food as an incredible gift that nourishes us while we are alive. As we die we no longer eat and what happens when were dead?? The great mystery.

What I have discovered from listening to Mom from death is she only speaks to me when I am still, grounded and not racing around and worrying. This is I believe the place to ask ourselves about food choices and what to eat. wow! how things are different when I breathe! Bless, take time to honor and BE before doing. Take time for digestion!

Mostly Mom says we should be gentle with ourselves. Listening to our bodies and play!

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Visit from My Mom

In one month my mom will have been dead for one year. My mom told me that she would only speak to me afterlife when I was in stillness and lived in Being instead of doing. I committed to this Grace with appreciation and relief.
When I go to a special tree that has become my mom for me she talks to me clearly and with wisdom.
“Be kind to yourself, Diane, be gentle. Enjoy your life. Don’t wait for death to know you’re a complete person. Everyone has a sense there is a hole in them, that something is missing. No matter how much one accomplishes how many trophies or degrees you acquire, how many races you run or relationships have. Nothing outside yourself nor any other person can fill that hole. Because unconditional love is found from the inside out. Health in found from the inside out. Diane, those of us in death want all of you in life to see your own incredibleness now in life. The deaths you experience in life will prepare you for death. Stop apologizing for being human! Be messy as you are!
I love you. Do you see me Diane?? I’m here. I’m everywhere and I will continue to share unconditional love with you. I am free. You are free. Your life is a prayer. Death is still. Death is free. Death is in you and death is in me.”

— Diane

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Let’s Help Carry Our Own Loads

As I read articles about the precious Sherpas killed on Mount Everest, I felt so many emotions being stirred within me. What strikes me is the theme of external outside gratification and the absence of our inside spiritual terrain. I started to ponder what would happen if we made the choice to leave our heavy material loads at home so the Sherpas wouldn’t have to carry so much of our weight.

sherpa load


What if we started carrying our own loads of emotions and reclaimed our spiritual selves from the inside out? I imagine if each of us as individuals do this, our relationships to the “Demands” of Sherpas will be totally transformed. How do we truly step into their shoes and honestly feel how they carry our baggage for us?

One thing that amazed me when I hiked Machu Pichhu in Peru, with the help of the incredible, loving, and generous Sherpas, is when we entered the city all the Sherpas put on fancy costumes for the tourists. This blew my mind. They went from their rugged sweaty beat up clothes to a fashion show, a requirement they said that was for us. I was moved to tears.

Their display of raw humanness and loving generosity sparked this powerful question: How do we reclaim our relationship to nature, stillness and the gifts of our earth?

– Diane Israel, Boulder, CO

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Becoming Comfortable in Our Own Skin

I recently spoke to my friend Isabelle Tierney on her podcast Dare to Be You. We spoke about being scared sh**less about baring our bodies for spring and how getting older is a gift in disguise. I hope you enjoy!

Dare to Be You 2Becoming Comfortable in Our Own Skin


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Craving Connection, Encouraging Non-separation

Tonight I am feeling so much sadness and trying to understand why. My mom died over eight months ago and I still long to be in constant conversation and connection with her. Why do I long to meet with her as much as possible? I live for connection with others. I send 20-30 letters out a month, I’m constantly texting and emailing friends to remind them of my love. I treat calls to family and friends as if today was my last day. Since a near death experience at the age of seventeen, I’ve lived this way. Tonight I’m realizing most people I know don’t exist this way and it makes me curious. For now I will continue to live for meeting my mom, for meeting my mom in deep conversation.


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Facing Death with Comfort

By Diane Israel as written to Ellen Goodmen about the passing of her mother. 

“Mom never complained, never said, “Why me?” She embraced her “disability” the way she always lived with grace, elegance, and dignity, embodying a peace from within”.

Facing Death with Comfort

I write you one month after the death of my mother. I want to tell you her story and my story involving mom. I hope it will speak to others!

5 years ago, on September 2nd at a healthy age of 67, my athletic, yogi, vibrant, in awesome health mom experienced a massive brain hemorrhage, a Stroke. Yes, a stroke, which until my healthy mom had one I thought were for unhealthy really old people. Wrong. It taught me a deep truth that it can happen to anyone at anytime. It shocked our family and our community in Scarsdale, NY. It changed us all forever.

For almost 15 years I had the privilege to help care for my mom, she needed 24 hour care. Mom never complained, never said, “Why me?” She embraced her “disability” the way she always lived with grace, elegance, and dignity, embodying a peace from within. Thankfully Mom did prepare a living will and a health proxy. She also wrote her autobiography and her eulogy. Despite all the “perfect” paperwork there were many moments of indecision with 4 kids each with their own agenda.

Ellen, what you are encouraging us all to do, us all to talk about, to face is imperative. I see it as life giving and truly fair for individuals and for their families. For my family, out of love and respect for mom, we could no longer speak about death as her speech became even more limited. We would speak regularly though in life giving ways, and if it was not life giving then not in front of her. We felt no matter what condition mom was in, coma, the dying process, etc, that she was present in her own way and we didn’t want to interfere with with her own unique journey. We did not want to make assumptions that she could not hear us, especially after coming out of a coma and saying she had heard us. We never spoke negatively by her bed or in her room; we spoke honestly with her not at her.

The last chapters of mom’s life were a heightened level of profound elegance, grace, and beauty. For four full days and nights she experienced another stroke, which would lead four days later to her death. Three out of her four children were there for this experience. During her passing we were there to honor, breath with, and write songs for her. Mom’s last words, which came from a very damaged tongue were, “I have everything I have always had it. I love you, you generate me I regenerate you, you and I generate good feelings.”

This was the last conversation, the last words, and then three and a half days of loving our mom as she passed. We used no medications, no hospice, and no funeral home. Because we had talked about her wishes I knew her so well and could make good decisions for her and her life which meant quite, peaceful, with out interventions. We watched her heartbeat and listened to her breath. As an athlete I heard her breath, the rattle breath that scared me turned into the breath of running the end of a marathon. I taped her beautiful labored breath and run to it now. She lives on in me, I have her life and breath in me.

We left the room the night before mom died to honor her privacy, to see if she wanted to die alone, and she did not. On Sunday morning, June 23rd at 5:30am I came to say my goodbyes with the birds chirping and the sun rising, this was always my time with mom, and will be forever. Rob, my brother, also wrote a deeply moving song that he sang and played guitar to while crying. He also requested that we as a family talk in the present to mom and leave all medical or negative talk outside her room. Rob then read mom’s 30 page autobiography out loud.

At around 11am mom’s caregivers, who know death well and honored its arrival, shared that death was close. Mom’s breathing had slowed down and her extremities were turning more and more blue. Rob wiped mom’s mouth with a swab dipped in melted coffee ice cream and said to mom, “Nectar of the Gods.” All of us siblings hugging, kissing, thanking mom, crying, saying goodbye, and “love you’s.” We stacked our hands on mom’s heart, oldest sister Lynn, then me, then Rob and I said, “Mom, we are all together, we are all aligned, mom. I am free, mom you are free. I am free of caring for you mom. You are free mom!”

Then in the most beautiful, natural, and elegant way she took her last breaths, three more with long pauses. And then magically, mysteriously, and relaxed took a breath in sighed and that was it.

Until mom’s death I was afraid of death. I have mom’s life and breath in me. She is forever with me. She speaks to me all the time when I am in nature and I take the time to slow down and listen. Her wisdom continues to be my greatest teacher. I live for these conversations.



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