Dear Living Foods Community:
I was shocked and saddened to hear about Dorleen's passing. Given personal chaos and flux in my life these past few years, I was unable to stay current with Dorleen's situation. Her passing, to the community, is palpable.
I wanted to share my memories of her here, in the form of this "open letter" to the community.
For Dorleen's Memorial
Dorleen had been a part of my life for almost 25 years, as we met in the first Living Foods group back in 1985. In 1986, she was part of the core group, which became SF LiFE. From the first, she was enthusiastic, committed, and above all giving of her time and energy, and mentored all of the "newbies" who came to the group to learn. Dorleen had always acknowledged my Ann Wigmore skills in Living Foods, and propagated a following for me when I did my demos for the group. She was a one-person PR machine for me, and for those who knew how to teach and pass on Ann Wigmore's philosophy and practice, which was so unique in the Living Foods community, and I always thanked her for her intrinsic belief in the program.
Dorleen was a leader, not just in her classrooms, teaching ESL, but in group inclusion; she always made people welcome; always inviting people on walks, hikes, field trips to Yosemite, and seaweed excursions. I always saw her as the Maria Von Trapp character, who was always smiling, always positive, always helpful, always insightful, full of vigor, energy, and capable of giving 110% of her energy with whatever she endeavored to accomplish.
Her travels even made me envious, even though I've been a world traveler. She did it her way, and with that, sparked new-found excitement in me. After her trips, and her sharing of stories, and photos, I too wanted to get on the next plane and discover Australia, New Zealand, and Iceland. She did Mexico, and Canada, and the "States" in a way that no one could ever call boring. How many times did she drive cross-country? How many times did she hike Mt. Tam? Hundreds, and yet never repeating any of her journeys the same way. Each and every day was a new day for Dorleen, and she approached each task, and each recipe and each Tai-Chi pose as if she was discovering it for the first time.
Her sharing personality made every moment full of sparkle and shine. She was always smiling and positive. I always wondered if hurt and flux, and chaos entered her life. I wondered if she let those moments in, or whether they were covered and cast in the brilliant light of positive change. Dorleen was adaptable, which made her recipes sing with exuberance. She would change them at will, adding and subtracting to catch every nuance of the season.
I loved her because she was unique in the way she gave of herself. Each and every time we talked, she devoted all of her energy in listening to me: really hearing what I had to say. I never saw her dismiss anyone from their sharing. When asked for information, she always had it: telephone numbers, addresses, files of past names and numbers were always at hand. She collected data long before computers were popular, and she always knew where everything was. Her file cabinets were full; her organizational skills were paramount. I remember several enormous projects we worked on together: the SF LiFE library list, and the recipe books we gathered together. I remember the Living Foods "conference" she spear-headed back in the 90s.
She was the leader with the group, and the group would not have survived without her energy, and perseverance. New people came and went, and she stayed and stayed. Over the years, she gave of herself when others wouldn't pick up the slack, and she never complained. Acknowledging her contribution to the group, would take pages, but what is left, what we as a group will never forget is her unfailing attention to the concept of giving. Not business nor money-making ideas or plans, she believed in giving, and giving freely. That is what I remember and will retain always.
Dorleen was a giving person, and what she gave each of us in turn is the notion of brilliant acceptance of life, on life's terms, without judgment and without hesitation.
Thank you Dorleen, for teaching and being strength and love.
Thank you for being LOVE.