Monday, June 28, 2010


"We listen.  We hear.  But we don't know."
The Hurt Locker 

We don't really know what our soldiers are enduring, sacrificing, or witnessing so that we can enjoy the freedoms that we do.  The freedom to have guests to dinner, to sit by a swimming pool or lake in the summer and daydream about what we don't have or what we feel we deserve or what we can't live without.  That same freedom that allows us to complain about a crummy week, a steamy hot day, getting cut off in traffic, or a bad hair day. 

Friday night it was a prayer like none other.  He sat at the head of my dinner table with his wife to his right and his son to his left.  The plates in front of us were laden with marinated grilled chicken, grilled mariated veggies in a pasta primavera and Texas style bruschetta.  The candlelight danced off of the hungry faces, as I asked if he would say the blessing.  The six of us at the table joined hands and bowed our heads and listened to this American hero  unhesitatingly say the blessing.  For all of us, it was more than a blessing, it was a gift.  A precious gift, and an eye opener, to each of us at that table.

Nothing seemed really out of the ordinary as I asked.  Nothing that is except that he had no legs and half of his skull was missing.  L. had been in Afghanistan until February, when as a gunner, his vehicle was hit and the blast that ejected him from the HumVee, severed his legs. He thanked God for his life, his family and his friends and he asked Him to provide safety to those in harm's way.  And he thanked Him for his life.

He enjoyed his meal tremendously and we were humbled and honored to have him at our table.  Listening to his banter with his wife and child reminded us, he is much like all of us, but in reality so much more.  He is a strong man, a courageous man and a deeply humble man . His thirteen year old son was attentive, as was his wife.  They joked and teased each other and held hands.  They are the lucky ones.  They 'get it.'

They understand what is truly, and solely important, in this life.  People.  Each other, loving each other.  Being their for each other through the good and the bad.  Not the acquisition of money and more money.  Not the acquisition of 'stuff'.  Stuff we will never use, but feel an intense feeling that we can't live without it. 

What is important is that we are with those we truly and deeply love and care for and about.  Knowing that their needs are as important as ours and knowing that without them on this earth we would be sadly lost.  Knowing that we make a difference in someone else's life and they in ours. And wanting always to hold them close in our hearts.

L. told us about his injury and how, after realizing he had lost his legs, his sole gut instinct was to get to his friends that had been gravely injured.  But he couldn't. 

I ask you -  what's your bad day like?

I ask you how would you live through this, how could you endure?  We are all spoiled and pampered and needy. My personal belief is we are not willing to lift a finger in many instances unless it somehow benefits us.

This last week I sent out an email to dozens and dozens of people to ask for them to consider sponsoring a soldier for one month.  All they had to do was write one letter or email a week and send one package. Out of the dozens sent I received only two responses.  I was, and am, heartbroken.  Are our lives so busy and are we so selfish and self centered, we can't sit down and write a few words of appreciation and send one flat rate box with some goodies to a soldier risking his life every moment of the day for a year for us!!!  I am ashamed and disappointed. 

"We listen, we hear, but we don't know."  We have no idea what L. and hundreds of thousands of our military has endured.  His life will never be the same, nor his wifes, nor his childrens.  His nightmares rage in the dark and we complain about someone taking our parking place at the mall. 

For goodness sake when will people wake up and simply find the time to say thank you to a young man or woman who doesn't know if he will wake up the next day for what they are giving us...volunteering to give us.  I am consistently struck with grief at the lack of compassion and complacency.

So I ask again!!!

Anyone wishing to adopt a soldier for a month or a year please contact me at the following email address. You will be sent a list of items that have been requested and appreciated.


210 273 6471

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


A hammock, a cool drink, a slight breeze, trees and the surf lulling you to sleep.  Sounds like an okay deal doesn't it?  Add the fragrance of jasmine and pineapple and coconut and I am there!  I could put chocolate into my fantasy, but it would most likely melt.

What is your Dog Days of Summer fantasy? 

I just finished writing my daily email to my 'chosen' sister who is deployed in Basra, Iraq.  There was nothing I could think of sharing with her that will change her situation.  Her last email to me was full of sadness and loneliness and space and time. 

I wanted to complain about the heat here today and how exhausting it is and how just walking to the mail box frazzled me.  I wanted to tell her I was having sushi for dinner.  But I ended up telling her how much I love her and admire her and am encouraged by her photograph on my desk. It will remain there until she comes home in April. 

But I couldn't.  You see it is 138 degrees in Iraq today.  And sushi is a few thousand miles away from her.  Whatever my issues, problems, dilemmas, concerns or complaints might be, they are nothing compared to hers.  She faces mortaring each week and is rushed to a concrete bunker.  I get in my Lexus and drive in airconditioning to a grocery store and complain about the masses of people competing for huge amounts of fresh produce and delicacies and pastries and wine and imported cheeses and more. 

My Dog Days of Summer fantasy is to have my sister back home.  Back home with her husband and dogs and going out to lunch with me and talking 'girl talk,' and not IED's and weapons and bunkers and dust and heat in a land far, far away.

You see she loves America this much.  She loves her troops this much.  This much to sacrifice a year of her life in a country at war. 

Do you?  What do you sacrifice for our freedom? 

Tomorrow I will spend three to four hours with our wounded warriors, Army, Marines, and Air Force.  All who loved this country this much.  They don't complain about the Dog Days of Summer.  They don't complain!  Never.  Not once.  They love this country that much.  I love them that much.

God Bless our Troops wherever they are.

God Bless my sister. Next summer we will find a hammock and a beach and have some girl talk!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


"There is more hunger in this world for appreciation and love than there is for bread."
~Mother Teresa

The best portion of a good man's life, His little, nameless, unremembered acts, Of kindness and of love.
~ William Wordsworth
To laugh often and love much... to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to give one's self... this is to have succeeded.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
To be appreciative! 
To be appreciative one has to be thankful, express admiration, approval or gratitude.  As you appreciate and show appreciation you become more valuable to not only others, but to yourself.  Finding something to appreciate is ultimately easy.  Finding the wisdom to show appreciation is not so easy. By finding appreciation you also find perspective or perhaps even a shift in perspective. 
Searching for something to appreciate when you are going through a really tough time is challenging at best.  But it is here, in these places, that you grow as a difficult picture moves the perspective from a really large picture to a smaller more manageable one. 
Appreciating those we love can move mountains - or demolish them for lack of it. 
Weren't we all, at a very young age, taught to say 'thank you?'  What has happened to that?  So often now we do something really kind for someone and never hear a thank you, much less showing us sincere gratitude.  How sad because gratitude and appreciation will see us through the stresses and messes of life and can become a sustaining value in all we say and do and ultimately who we are.
To begin with there must be a basic appreciation for life.  If this is absent, then appreciation for the smaller things is nonexistent.  After all, isn't life our most precious gift, deserving of our greatest appreciation? 
How can we appreciate anything if we can't appreciate life?
Here's what I think.  What you give comes back to you!  The more you sincerely appreciate life and others  from your heart and soul, the more this appreciation attracts back fulfilling experiences to you, both professionally and personally. 
People who appreciate us, our efforts, and our love, light a fire within us and without that appreciation love dies. An anonymous quote says it best, "Encouraged people achieve the best; dominated people achieve second best; neglected people achieve the least."
"Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I may not forget you."
~William Arthur

But here is the also have to learn to find appreciation in the bad things that happen to you.  The things that temporarily crush your spirit.  Not so easy is it?  But consider this.  Appreciating the bad with the good will bring you a more fulfilling life. 
Fear of losing something makes us appreciate it more.  Appreciation leads us to a place of love for each and every second we are on this planet.  We are here for only a limited amount of time.  A great deal of that time is spent working.  We must learn to do the best we can do at what we do. Taking pride in our work or play and appreciating those we love with all our hearts is the right and only thing to do. Constant and unexpected encouragement is a way of showing appreciation.  For without it we are lost. 
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
~John Fitzgerald Kennedy

“The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.”
~William James


So today let's start an Appreciation Day.  Let's appreciate the things others do for us, not just today, but everyday.  It is a fundamental and basic human need.  So today if someone makes the bed for you, fixes your breakfast or simply tells you to have a beautiful day, appreciate them. 

Everyday should be Appreciation Day. 

“The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.”
~William James

Monday, June 21, 2010


It is no news to any of you that I have Panic Disorder, or as recently discerned SPTS (Secondary Post Traumatic Stress).  Well, it was tested to the limits yesterday. Sunday, Father's Day, at the 'super' supermarket!  A friend and I walked in the door, to 'get just a few things' and instantly found we had stumbled into the gates of hell.

Frantic, frenzied, frenetic chaos!  Lights, loud speakers, microphones, crashing carts, hundreds of people rushing in multiple directions, and children screaming, screeching, at the top of their lungs.  We had to yell just to hear each other.  I literally turned to bolt out the door.  This is exactly the kind of thing that will throw me over the top.  It was as close to hell as I can imagine.

We didn't want a bed or tractor, we wanted milk, juice, bread and a bottle of Chohula.  Dodging carts, children running amuck, parents distracted on cell phones talking of their pending divorce or calling to ask their wife what aisle the picante sauce was on, became suddenly normal.  Deciding whether to run to the exit or not, I heard a voice from above, "Buy six bottles of Chardonnay and you get the seventh free."  Alright, the answer to a prayer. I was tempted.  Now what aisle are the wine glasses on? Or more to the point what acre?

In the midst of being told the potato chips were on aisle 5 to later find they were really on aisle 10 lead my friend and me into the path of an Army SGT in camo.  My friend stopped him and asked him if this store were more frightening than being in Afghanistan.  The SGT smiled a huge smile and said, "No contest - this store."  Okay I am all for deploying!  Sign me up for the next flight out.

Why do we live like this?  Why do we tolerate this?  The 'cheese lady' told us that her most expensive cheese was $32.00 a pound and it was the 'highest selling cheese in the market.'  Good heavens.  And all I want is a dented refrigerator donated to store some supplies for my soldiers. 

Nobody noticed anybody else.  Nobody smiled at anybody.  There was no human contact, civility, interaction, courtesy, caring, interest or compassion.  I observed, while buying four lemons, the frenzy of this space and wondered where the human beings were.

I like Farmer's Markets.  I like small family grocery stores.  Are there any?  I like kindness and professionalism and courtesy.  In my opinion, it is impossible to overemphasize the immense need humans have to be really, really distracteded from the present moment.  Is it that they don't want to be listened to, heard, or taken seriously, or to be understood.  Or are these people so far removed from reality that they simply do not care. 

We left shaking our spinning heads.  As we headed to the parking lot, the traffic on the freeway seemed peaceful and subdued compared to what we had just endured.  And you know the strange part was he and I felt that there wasn't another person in that store that felt as we did.  If they did, they were camoflaging it well.  We both felt misplaced and disoriented.

Do we really care about other people?  Do we have to be in a chaotic hypnotic state to make sense of our lives?  Deep down in the fragile inner wells of our being, don't we all yearn for an absense of chaos and anxiety? Or do we?

What does it take?  Perhaps rare qualities like caring, time, giving, unselfishness, concentration, sensitivity, tolerance, and yes, I suppose patience for the frenzy of the super, supermarket.  

But I personally choose to allow room for silence.  For I believe that it is the wise person who chooses silence and peace and doesn't feel compelled to fill up all the blank spaces with distractions. 

As for yesterday, I had help, I had support, I had medicine.  But then that is a story for another day!

Sunday, June 20, 2010


"Why should we live with such hurry and waste of life?  We are determined to be starved before we are hungry."
~Henry David Thoreau

Thoreau also said, "I wonder what the world is doing today."  Today I do too.  I woke up with a list a mile long - things to accomplish, goals to reach,  lists to whittle away at, stuff to do.  Important stuff like weeding the garden, tending the herbs, cleaning the garage, fixing the pump in my waterfall in the back yard, and the list goes on. 

But I got side-tracked when I found a box of old books in the garage one dating back to 1897,  Carolyle's Heroes and Hero Worship.  I love books.  I love reading them, collecting them, stacking them in a pile on the nightstand hoping to someday read them all.  I love absorbing them, feeling the paper, and I love smelling them, inhaling them.  Great wisdom is often found between the covers of books.  The particular books I discovered belonged to my Aunt Mary and my father.

The small brown leather book with yellowed fragile pages holds much wisdom.  Phrases are circled by a pen dipped long, long ago in black ink.  Words underlined transformed me and transported me to 1897 to visions of someone holding a pen reading these words and wanting to remember certain passages and underlining them, much as I do today with books that I read. 

Who was this person whose name is handwritten on the blank page at the beginning of the book named Ernest Parsons from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee?  Odd how you can begin to tell a great deal about a person by what he underlines and finds of importance in a weathering old book. A sentence underlined, speaking of Dante, says "for nothing so endures as a truly spoken word." And in the margin of the book hand written in the late 1800's is "The immortality of great poetry. Because he speaks from the heart of man, he speak to all men's hearts."

Do they teach this anymore? 

Referencing music the book continues, "Who is there that in logical words, can express the effect music has on us...observe too how all passionate language does of itself become musical...the speech of a man even in zealous anger becomes a chant, a song.  All deep things are Song.  It seems showhow the very central essence of us, Song: as if all the rest were but wrappages and hulls.!" 

So today I bury myself in "The Bluebird Carries the Sky on His Back, by Thoreau.  I am embedded in words and emotions felt while reading his words. 

The work will wait. For today Thoreau won't. 

"As we stand in the midst of the pines, we wonder if the towns have ever heard their simple story.  We borrow from the forest the boards which shelter and sticks which warm us...What would human life be without forests, those natural cities?  From the tops of mountains they appear like smooth-shaven lawns, yet whither shall we walk but in this taller grass?  A pure elastic heaven hangs over all, as if the impurities of the summer sky refined and shrunk by the chaste winter's , had been winnowed from the heavens upon the earth."
~Henry David Thoreau

Friday, June 18, 2010


It doesn't happen often, but when the walls come down, life begins. 

A quote recently presented to me by a Pockets of Peace blog reader goes like this, 'You seize the opportunity, when you seize the opportunity."  It seems like everyday, in everyway, we have opportunities presented to us.  Whether we accept them depends on multiple things- timing, persuasion, mood, occasion, prospect, opening, possibility, probability, chance, ability, likelihood, or perhaps the moon being in alignment!  Who knows?  What I do know is that if we don't seize the opportunity, it is most likely, lost to us for good.

Yesterday, to get out of one of my infrequent states of depression, I watched Mama Mia with Meryl Streep.  'Rosie' singing Take a Chance on Me kept playing and reverberating in my head. You know the song that you hear once and can't get it out of your mind. 

"If you change your mind
I'm the first in line
Honey, I'm still free
Take a chance on me
If you need me let me know
Gonna be around
If you've got no place to go
When you're feeling down
If you're all alone
Honey I'm still free
Take a chance on me."

Taking chances - taking the walls down!  Then and only then will you be able to open your heart and acknowledge the life that lies waiting.

"To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end of life."
~Robert Louis Stevenson

We don't have all the answers, and we can never be assured of the outcome.  But if we don't take the chance, take the walls down, and take the risk, we just might have everything to lose.  Albert Einstein said, "The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious."  There is little doubt that the difficult times I have endured and lived through have helped me to understand better than ever before how infinitely delicious and rich and exquisite life is in everyway.  And that the many things we worry about are of little to no importance whatsoever.

According to Julia Cameron, "Culturally, we are trained to worry.  We are trained to prepare for any negative possibility.  The news tutors us daily in the many possible catastrophes available to us all.  Is it any wonder that our imaginations routinely turn to worry?" 

None of us are beyond fear.  But you know what? Some of the most terrified people I have ever met are some of the greatest.  They have achieved by walking through their fears.  Not running away from them. 

Sometimes we are afraid and sometimes we are afraid of fear, and then sometimes there is absolutely nothing that will stop us from jumping over, around, or through that wall that shuts us off from the life we deserve. Such is life for me right now.  And sometimes we know that we know that we know.  So for me the walls are coming down and fear is a blip on the radar screen.  No longer will I be blind to possibility. 

Lucius Cary, said, "When it is not necessary to change, it is necessary not to change." 

But oh when it is, the world becomes exquisite and luscious.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


What is 'Compassion Fatigue?'  I have it.  There are times when I am exhausted, depleted and extraordinarily empty.  This is not a new sensation for me, if indeed sensation is the word.

There is a cost to caring. Yesterday was such a day.

It is documented that listening endlessly to stories of fear, pain, and suffering often can bring on similar feelings in those who listen, those who care.  It is said that the most effective therapists are those who have an enormous capacity for feeling and expressing empathy. I have been told by professionals that I have that ability.  However they/we are also the ones most at risk for Compassion Fatigue.  It is also well documented that therapists, and I am assuming that includes pet therapist handlers, may begin to have nightmares and generalized anxiety.  It has also been defined as 'burnout,' or a kind of 'secondary victimization.' There are episodes of depression, sadness, and what is now being labeled as 'compassion stress/fatigue.'  Interesting to note is that now people can be traumatized simply by learning about an event

This leads me to a conundrum.  If this 'secondary catastrophic stress reaction' is the reason for my frequent depression and panic disorder, resulting in considerable emotional upset, then I too, as do my soldier's, have PTSD.  Which now actually has a title - STSD (Secondary Traumatic Stress Disorder). 

Studies have shown that the best support for someone suffering from STSD, caused by constant exposure to victims, is the support of friends and family. Studies also indicate that symptoms of STSD are nearly identical as those of PTSD.

Emotional and mental exhaustion starts out gradually and becomes worse.  In wanting to alleviate the pain and the cause of pain of others, apparently I take it on. For me it is an occupational hazard.

Yesterday I had an overdose of STSD! 

My day began with a closed door meeting at BAMC that was extremely stressful. Moments later, I spent the afternoon with a beautiful young soldiers' wife who was in deep shock.  She had just arrived a couple of hours before in San Antonio with her 5 month old baby boy to be escorted to BAMC to see her Air Force husband who had been critically  injured in Afghanistan.  He is in ICU with a severe traumatic brain injury and multiple burns.  She arrived with no clothes, no diapers, no toys, no sleep. Intense fear consumed her as she clung to me crying.  As I pulled her beautiful blond hair out of her face, another soldier's wife cradled her baby, and in the stifling heat of 96 degrees we all cried. Cried for her pain, for her husband, for the hundreds just like him laying their lives on the line for us.  Warrior Family Support got her diapers instantly and airline tickets for her mother and family to be flown into San Antonio to support her.  She was seriously dehydrated and I got her three bottles of ice cold water.  She nursed the baby, as I retrieved toys, bound for humanitarian aid in Afghanistan, from the trunk of my car for him to have something to snuggle.  Leaving her was hard.  Forgetting even harder.  Her pain absorbed me all night.

I returned home after dropping off the bags and bags of toys at Soldiers' Angels Warehouse.  The phone rang as I walked in the door resulting in an hour conversation with a friend, struggling to find himself after a severe stroke.  Then a call from another friend whose husband is abusive, and she wants a divore. I lead her to an attorney.  Another friend exhausted by problems at work shared with me as well.  I was depleted and had nothing left to give. 

I curled up in the fetal position and fell asleep.  

The cost of caring. 


Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Different seasons in our lives allow, or require, or administer different kinds of living.  There have been those times in my life, and I am sure in yours as well, when we have felt compelled to fill every moment of the day.  Remember "Idleness is the devil's workshop?"  And St. Benedict's conviction that 'idleness is the enemy of the soul."  It seems as if our lives are controlled and consummed by blocks of allocated time.

Did you know that it was not until the 17th century that clocks had minute hands?  Productivity must surely have increased and then time became divided and then subdivided into seconds and minutes and hours.  Much has been lost!

You might wonder what was lost.  I will tell you.  We have become lost in the space and place of time.  We experience these losses everyday.  We lose contact with friends, we wave to neighbors we don't know, we don't smile for fear someone takes it the wrong way, we don't look at the blue sky with wonder anymore, and we don't get a lump in our throats at the song of a bird.  We don't marvel at the breath of a puppy.  We don't relinquish the control of time for fear we miss something.  We are consummed yet still hungry.  Satiated yet empty. 

Think of it...we can get vine ripe tomatoes at any time of year. That one luscious gift of summer that tantalizes your taste buds is now available, tasting like cardboard,  in January.  Christmas decorations are in the stores in August.  Valentines are in the stores the day after Christmas.

We are living, but living far away from the understanding that each day, each precious moment is a gift not a commodity to be spent or wasted or something saved for later.  We are living disconnected from what enlivens the soul.  A deep appreciation for the times of our lives is becoming more subdued and vague.  As we fill ourselves with distractions and noise and frivolous activities and actions, we fail to hear the whispers of our world and our hearts.  We fail to see the signals that are deep inside that will guide us, nourish us, protect us and ensure that we are living the best life we can.

Let us begin today.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


"There are two primary choices in life: To accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them."
- Denis Waitley


I had a conversation with a friend this morning. It evolved from the IRS and taxes to the dilemma of staying stuck.  We all are trapped in quicksand at one time or another.  Perhaps of our own doing, someone elses, or circumstances beyond our control. And then sometimes the people that should be closest to us trap us and keep us trapped, because it is in their best interests not ours. 

It is those circumstances that are within our control that keep us from pursuing the life we were meant to have.  My friend reminded me of a quote from the Shawshank Redemption, "Get busy living, or get busy dying."  We all need to take that to heart. 

William Shakespeare said, "You must take your chance."  And John F. Kennedy said, "Our fears must never hold us back from pursing our hopes."  What do you say?

I believe that every day you "settle" is another day lost.  Between the wish and the thing, life lies waiting. 

I have learned that I can't have everything all tidied up into neat little packages.  I can't have the perfect house, the perfect car, a clean garage and a desk of completed projects.  But what I can have is a house and a heart full of love.  Love with all of its ambiguities and messiness and imperfections.  Life can be unpredictable and many times unanticipated.  Trauma and drama and stuff messes up our need for tidiness.  It is in these times that life and its oddities can become more of a gift than a threat, if only we let it.  If only we let it alone and let it take shape the way it will, the way it should, the way that is the right way.  Not the way we want it to, not the way we struggle endlessly to control it to be.  But the way it will.   Henry David Thoreau wrote, "If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours."

Perhaps it is in these 'common hours' that we find the beautiful, the sublime, the unsettling beauty of something so magnificient words cannot describe it.  For it is in these hours that we find life. It is in these hours that we become unstuck and the gray places evaporate.

I have no idea to this day what those two Italian ladies were singing about. Truth is, I don't want to know. Some things are best left unsaid. I'd like to think they were singing about something so beautiful, it can't be expressed in words, and makes your heart ache because of it. I tell you, those voices soared higher and farther than anybody in a gray place dares to dream. It was like some beautiful bird flapped into our drab little cage and made those walls dissolve away, and for the briefest of moments, every last man in Shawshank felt free.

The Shawshank Redemption

Monday, June 14, 2010


Peace.  We hear about the lack of it.  We sometimes crave it.  Our soldiers fight for it, and then maybe we don't even know what it is.  Maybe we have to experience, it before we know what we have been missing. 

Is it a sense of well being?  Or is it lack of noise?  Is it found in the presence of a person you love or a friend you feel comfortable with?  Is it a three legged dog named Harry sleeping by a cold fireplace on a stiffling day with an ice cube melting next to his muzzle?  Or a vibrant crape myrtle blowing in the breeze on a hot June afternoon?

Maybe the answer is that peace is different for different people.  Or just maybe it could be all of the above.

For me, today it is house wrens busying themselves on the porch and tissue thin white butterflies darting in and out of the grasses and weeds, surrounded by horses oblivious to the bucolic, extraordinary environment in which they eat hay and an occasional carrot.  Watching the billowing clouds settle over the South Texas sky, I find peace.  Perhaps this peace is found in the absense of 'having to be'.  Having to be somewhere at some time to do something.

Maybe this hour, this day is peace.  The sustaining peace that sees us through the rough spots, the disasters and the dilemmas.  Now is all we have.  Why fill our minutes with anything less than peace?  It isn't realistic to assume we can live like this all of the time, but it is realistic to feel we can escape to these pockets of peace that thread the needles in our lives and offer us clarity and wisdom and vision when we need it the most.

So on this flag day take a moment to salute the red, white and blue that our soldiers lay down their lives for so that we may live in peace.

Bow your head and say thank you to those who have lost their lives so that we have the ability and the opportunity to find our pockets and moments of peace.  And pray that they have found theirs.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Perhaps it is being in the right place at the right time or fate or destiny or sychronicity or it could be it is just about time! Sitting in the Warrior Family Support Center today with my therapy dog Kelsie and two friends, I had an overwhelming feeling. Out of no where I asked them both, "Have you ever in your whole life known, without a doubt, no questions asked, that you were exactly where you were supposed to be, doing exactly what you knew you were on this planet to do?" A slight hesitation yielded the same answer, "I am not sure."

One friend looked and me and said, "You do don't you?" "Yes, right here, right now, doing what I am doing for these soldiers." Looking around the room, these are my guys, my soldiers. Some wave, some smile and walk on, some stop and pet the dogs, some kneel down and cradle Kelsie's head in their hands, and some simply want someone to recognize they exist. Each served his or her country and each deserves to be appreciated for what they have sacrificed. They truly ask for nothing but courtesy and are visibly pleased and often somewhat embarrassed, if you say 'thank you for your service and sacrifice.'

I am an advocate this week for a young female soldier back from Iraq with injuries and PTSD. She is a medic on 'leave.' She is being 'shadowed' by a  famous national magazine writer doing a feature on her. The article will feature my soldier and her journey, her struggles and her soul. In the process both the writer and I have discovered this soldier's spirit is as exquisite as is her beauty. I think, as I watch her enjoy the smallest jestures of kindness and the smallest moments of peace, she is the most perfect woman I have ever known. She rises above the storm that rages in her head and was humbled because a friend and I cooked dinner 'just for her.' Imagine that! She has sacrificed so much and was humbled by a dinner invitation. It was I who was humbled. Just to be in her presence has made me a better person, a more accepting, more compassionate, and more empathetic advocate for all of our military. She is extraordinary in every way. From her love of her dog, Betty, to her savoring a beer and commenting on how 'cold it is.'

She held my hand most of the first day of being her advocate. She gradually felt comfortable with the writer and now they are 'sisters.' Her spirit and smile are fundamental to who she is. Her honesty is enormous.

I suppose we all need someone to hold our hand every once in a while. I know I sure have. And I also know without a doubt that had they not been there for me, I am not at all certain I would be here. Whether contrived or not there are times and disasters in our lives. Then a dynamic turning point occurs. And within that moment, that space in time, our lives change. It can be as simple and enduring as a hug or as extravagant and endearing as the promise of a lifetime. These are inexplicable happenings.

I tend to overthink things, try to juggle too many balls and  plan way too specifically for the times of disasters. But today I am going to begin to realize that nothing is really in my hands. What is - is! Today I will try and accept the gifts given to me and be humbled at their rapid appearances and grateful for their exisitence and synchronicity.

For within the framework of inexplicable happenings I just might find the meaning of it all.


"Be spontaneous!  Allow life's special times to take a shape all their own.  If you plan them too precisely in your heart or mind, you open the possibility for disappointment.  More importantly, you could miss the wonderful subtleties of spontaneity."
~Jan Bethancourt

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Repetition is Hell

When was the last time you did something for the first time?

I have searched for the author of the quote, "Repitition is hell." I have been unsuccessful.  But in so doing I have come to this one conclusion. We should all be authors of this wonderful three word sentence. How many of us find every day to be a carbon copy of the previous one?  Repeating the same thing for breakfast, the same route to work, the same sameness day after day after day.  There is an answer if you are willing to take the step.

The answser is living your life on purpose!  Living your life knowing that this day, today,  is the first day of the rest of your life.  All your previous mistakes, omissions, blunders, loves, knowledge, choices, adventures, sustainability, and journeys are just that - previous.  They no longer are of any concern.  What is, is this day - this first day of the rest of your life.

For our military, the day they did not die, is their "Alive Day" or the first day of the rest of their lives.  The gift of life is theirs just as much as it is ours.  In fact, if you consider it thoroughly, facing their "Alive Day" allows us to face ours.  Their gift of freedom to us! So let's don't mess it up. 

Life is about choices, so choose wisely.  Your values are your personal mission about what is most important to you.  Today I ask what inspires you?  What activity or service is at the center of your personal mission?  What are your personal goals?  What are you doing to attain them?

I remember standing in the Sistine Chapel, hearing that Michelangelo painted it in just under five years.  He had a goal, a mission.  Five years...260 weeks...1,825 days...2,333,000 minutes.  What will you do in the next five years?  Again - What are your personal goals?

A friend of mine has found his mission for the first time.  He helps prepare breakfast for the wounded soldiers at the Warror Family Support Center every Saturday morning.  This is his passion.  He feels it to the depth of his core, wondering why others don't get it, wondering why others don't step up to the plate and help their fellow man.  Isn't that what we are all here for?  So why are so many of us tied in knots to our jobs, securing more and more possessions and more and more money to purchase more and more possessions?  And then finding after we do secure these things we are still not happy.

What happened to the essence of being human? What happened to believing in yourself and not picking your soul off of the rack? What happened to your core values of pursuing service to others?  Take it from me.  There is nothing, absolutely nothing like it.

Today ask yourself what is your personal aim for your life.  Not your professional goals, but the goals that make your heart sing. The goals that your core values are telling you to pursue.  You just might be surprised.  If you can't think of anything, then perhaps it is time to reevaluate your life. 

Dream, aim high! Make certain you always make the effort to make the people around you happier people, better people.  I have learned that if the people around me drag me down, they must go.  I choose to have those people around me who will lift me up and help me realize my goals.

Step something for the first time !

"You have brains in your head and feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You're on your own and you know what you know
And youa re the one who'll decide where to go."
Dr. Seuss

Monday, June 7, 2010


This morning began in shadowy shades of gray and charcoal and black.  Feelings of being completely overwhelmed and inundated covered me like a wet blanket,  much like the humidity hanging in the air.  A piping hot cup of coffee and a cinnamon roll seemed to relinquish control and slowly brought back color to the landscape of my day, as colors began to reappear.  And then quite suddenly, as if a switch had been flipped, I came to life again and realized how bold and beautiful living a life in total and complete amazement can be.  Your days become more vibrant, your hours and minutes and seconds more succinct in their meaning.  Suddenly life transports you to a place where you are aware and awake and seeing in brilliant significant color.

You become aware of the smallest things that perhaps have and always will  carry the most meaning - a dragonfly on a leaf, a bird saluting the morning with a song that carries an almost mesmerizing, irresistible symbol of hope,  the aroma of a golden ripe cantaloupe, or a horse named "Goose" that you have yet to meet.

I guess to some degree we are all waiting to wake up, looking inside at our hopes and longings, struggling to make sense of it all. 

But consider this.  Consider that it all doesn't have to make sense.  It could just be that in the lack of order and consolidation we find meaning.  Perhaps it is in the margins of life that we find what our days and hopes and dreams are made of, what we are made of, and where we should head.  Perhaps included in  the margins are the answers.  For it is here you also see the rough edges of life, as well as the beauty. 


"What makes us human is not our mind but our heart, not our ability to think, but our ability to love."
~Henri Nouwen

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Cries of the heart every once in a while are answered. And often times when you least expect it. Walls can be broken down and with that swift movement lives can begin again.  And suddenly you become acutely aware that life is about the WOW! 

If you don't get the "wow" out of life, then why did you do it?  If you can make one person smile a day, you've improved two people's lives.  If we simply accept the mundane and ordinary, we get nothing back but that.  If we accept the fact that life is boring, stagnant and insignificant and about all the wrong things, then that is what it will be.  Our authenticity has everything to do with our actions and choices and less to do with our thoughts. 

It is in the realization that we have to wake up, each in our own unique ways, to the 'wow.'  Many of us have lived or live in places where we feel excluded.  Excluded from our lives, our marriages, our relationships and yes even from ourselves.  Our hearts are breaking for acceptance and love. We are searching to find our way home again. 

In your life when you've needed to be carried, when you just couldn't do it anymore, who was there for you?  In whose presence do you feel safe and cherished and comfortable?  Who in your life provides the 'wow?"  May Sarton said, "A house that does not have one warm, comfy chair in it is soul less." Perhaps that is what some of us are missing, that one comfy chair or person where we belong.  That one person who is willing to go looking for us when we're lost. 

"Every circumstance and situation gives you the opportunity to choose this path, to allow your soul to shine through you, to bring into the physical world through you its unending and unfathomable reverence for and love of life." 
~Gary Suka

"Love is a wondrous miracle.  It has power to heal.  Love can overcome pain.  Love can transform our struggles into opportunities for joy and a deeper appreciation for life."
~Alexandra Stoddard

Nourishment of our souls magnifies our joy.  And by cultivating more joy by arranging your life to do so, more joy will be likely.  And then what happens?  We become vessels of love - love of our friends, our spouse, our country and in my case 'my' soldiers. 

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Flags snapped in the wind, taps pierced the silence and in the background rows and rows of white granite headstones stood in solidarity under the hot South Texas sun.  This year Memorial day at Ft. Sam Houston was especially memorable.  There was a parade that morning and flags and fresh flowers were placed  by the headstones of those remembered from WW II to the present OEF and OIF wars. We could almost hear the 21-gun salute and sense aircraft flying overhead, as my friend and I walked slowly in and out and around the graves of our fallen heroes.

It was a day like any other but there was a sense of solemnity in the air.  In this stillness, I remembered a soldier telling me, after my asking how he was doing, "I am vertical and have a pulse and the grass is under my feet, not over my head."  I understood his message.  It lead me to wonder on this Memorial Day why do some choose to live with resentment and bitterness because of an injustice that they perceive was done to them?  Wouldn't it be grand if there was a way to get rid of the weight of the unresolved guilt which weighs so many of us down and shortens our tempers and days and years?  Wouldn't it be wonderful, if instead, we focused on forgiveness and compassion, and led our own lives instead of trying to live everyone elses. Why do so many have to get even, or get ahead, or get more money than we could possibly ever need.  Reverend Dr. Thomas Tewell said in 30 Good Minutes, "Keeping resentment and bitterness under the surface of our life is like trying to keep a beach ball under water in the deep end of a swimming pool.  You can physically do it but after a few seconds of keeping the beach ball submerged under water, it gets heavy  Soon, it takes all of our energy just to keep it submerged under the surface.  But once we take the beach ball up from under the water it is a lot lighter.  In the same way, unresolved guilt weighs us down but forgiveness makes us feel lighter."

Walking through the cemetery, I wondered how many 'resting' there had been weighed down by the problems and mistakes and hurts of their yesterdays.  How many days and minutes and hours and weeks and years were spent and wasted on things that basically chipped away at the life they had, when so much happiness eluded them. Why do so many want to take control of all around them?  How sad they must be. 

I wonder why it is so hard to accept joy.  Why is it so hard to accept happiness and that feeling that all just might be right with the world right now, in this place, and as it should be. 

Listening to the birds and sipping Donut Shop coffee in my back yard this morning, I feel at peace - most likely for the first time ever.  My little dog Wally is at my feet and there is the sense, that at least for now, all is right.  But why is it so hard?  Why is it so hard?  Is it a feeling that I don't deserve it,  or that this feeling will vanish and simply go away?

But for now I let it go.  My friend and I celebrated Memorial Day by feeding carrots to horses, planting flowers in old weathered clay flower pots, and grilling vegies and steaks over mesquite.  We shared no guilt, no remorse, no qualms. We simply, and quietly, honored those who lived and died so that we may experience love and life and joy and happiness.  We set aside saddness and bitterness and heaviness and the resentment of others. It was a memorable and beautiful day. 

As another Memorial Day came to a close, my friend reminded me that "in the United States, everyday should be Memorial Day.  We should never forget the price of freedom."