Friday, December 31, 2010
Penny's From Heaven Foundation's Therapy and Service Dogs are little pieces of brilliant light that enter rooms and lives, and for the time they are there they provide solace, peace, comfort, joy, healing and in many cases courage.
In the darkness, sometimes we all wait for those moments of light found in the brilliant security and love of a dog. Our therapy dogs are sensitive and people focused and our service dogs are hyper-observant and seem to notice the invisible knots wrapped around people's souls and hearts. Sometimes our souls whisper gently, nudging us to a place we have never been before. These dogs, our gifts from God, are the catalyst, providing us with the ability to take another step, another breath, another chance. With them comes trust and a love most of us have never experienced, a total and complete acceptance without judgement, without cause.
It occured to me deep into the night last evening, that I want everything neat and tidy and clean and organized. I loathe disruption, confusion, and irritations. But that is not the way life is. I fight like a salmon swimming upstream, but the current is too strong, the waves too overwhelming. This knowledge alone can lead me to a place deeper inside of myself. A place where I find my true self, a place where I have learned to appreciate life at a different level.
Messages are offered to all of us. The problem lies in our ability to stand still long enough to accept them, to hear them, to listen to them. Sometimes we are waiting, waiting to get our wings, waiting to remember how to fly. These are the times when a cherished best friend awaits, captures our heart and leads us out of the darkness. Sometimes this best friend is a dog who will sit beside us and wait with us, until we remember how to flap our wings once again and how to live in a world that is much different from any we once remembered.
Moments and places of darkness can be places where you have the time and space to nurture yourself, a place where you quietly wait for the time when your future once again lies in front of you and you see glimpes of daylight once again.
To my wounded warriors, military sexual assault survivors, and all suffering from the horrors of PTSD, this new year I wish you peace and healing and the love of a dog to guide you out of the darkness and into the light.
PENNY'S FROM HEAVEN FOUNDATION, INC.
TRAIN A DOG SAVE A WARRIOR
13423 BLANCO ROAD, STE 218
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS 78216
Thursday, December 30, 2010
A friend sent me an email recently and asked if I was doing okay. I wrote back and told him - "sorta, maybe, mostly, sometimes, depends....."
I have spent the past three days, seventeen hours plus, each day, in my office ripping it to shreds. Okay, not literally perhaps, but shredding, pitching, sorting, filing, and filling jumbo trash bags with 'stuff.' The stuff a life is made of. Twenty years on television and radio. Twenty years of memories were relentlessly devoured by a slightly crazed woman seeking to make order out of chaos. Successful? Don't know yet. Remorseful, not at all. Satisfied - definitely. In some perverse way it feels good, cleansing, and refreshing.
I am the kind of person who upon occasion, needs to experience instant gratification. This happens by vacuuming, cleaning out drawers or closets, mowing the grass (if in fact I mowed grass). Performing tasks where you can instantly see the results. I do this when there is nothing else in my life I can control. You see I cannot operate in chaos, either mental or visual, and definitely not in clutter. But I need my pretties around me, my treasures, my memories. They bring me closer to who I really am. It doesn't hurt to have Andrea Bocelli in the background.
All of this cleaning frenzy was prompted by a phone call from a potential donor, asking to come by 'our offices' for Train a Dog Save a Warrior "to see our operation." I couldn't help but laugh. What he would have seen would have been an executive director in her pjs, sitting in the middle of piles and piles of paperwork, books, baskets, file boxes and chaos in the upstairs office of her home. He would have either run screaming or taken enormous pity and given me a great deal of money...for a 'real' office.
Yesterday, a dear precious board member came and helped me from nine in the morning, until quite late at night. We made progress, headway, guaranteeing the recycle facility will be a little more full of shredded paper at the close of another year. And on the bright side, we were a little more than full of Christmas chocolates. You see, it helped ease the pain!
Now this is a friend. One who takes an entire day of her holiday vacation to help organize the Penny's from Heaven Foundation and TADSAW office.
It still needs help, but I am tired. And this morning I ache, mentally and physically. Christmas, parties, hurry scurry. You know....the trappings of 'the season'. Tomorrow is New Year's Eve. I have no plans. I have no resolutions to break. No champagne to toast a new year. And in South Texas no self respecting person can lack for black eyed peas for good luck. I have none.
This morning I am searching for that happy ending for 2010. My happy endings are mostly personal and surely of little or no interest to most of you. What I do hope is that in some small way my efforts have dried a tear, made a life a little better, or allowed a hurting soul in turmoil to know they are not alone in this thing I refer to as a dark wilderness, trapped in the silence or in the horrible roar of PTSD.
After all, when all is said and done, isn't that why we have been placed on this earth...to ease the pain of others?
I wish you love and the knowledge to put it to good use. To wipe away a tear, to snuggle close to someone who is hurting, to listen in silence, to realize what many have sacrificed for you and me. They may still be walking, talking, and breathing, but sacrifice they did. They will never be the same again. I for one an grateful. I know without a doubt that I will never be the same again for having known them.
There is still time to contribute to our efforts to provide rescue dogs from a kill shelter for a wounded warrior with PTSD. It will change a life, it will make a difference, it will rescue both.
Your tax deductible donation will be your parting gift to 2010!
Happy New Year to one and all.
PENNY'S FROM HEAVEN FOUNDATION
13423 BLANCO ROAD, SUITE 218
SAN ANTONIO, TX 78216
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
"Begin doing what you want to do now. We only have this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand--and melting like a snowflake."
- Marie Beynon Ray
"What happens when we fail to understand that everything in our life counts? One danger might be that others attempt to take away the value and meaning of our experiences.
Donald Davis reminds us that our stories belong to us.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Most of you won't remember those little wooden stands we had as children that had colored pegs you had to hammer down. This morning I do. Ever feel that way? Like you have been hammered into a hole over and over again. Then once the peg was hammered just so far, you had to turn the stand over and hammer the peg back the other way.
Just two days before Christmas I have, as I like to say, been bended, folded, stapled and mutilated. Ambushed, if you will. What prompted this is not important to this message. Suffice it to say the outcome has been unsettling, disturbing, and to a very real degree numbing.
This morning at 2:30, I decided, as if I had to decide, that I am sick and tired of drama. If only there were a delete key. I am consistently totally aghast at people with their own agendas, never thinking or considering the repercussions on lives and hearts of others that might be affected.
I want to hammer the heck out of those pegs or the wall or kick something or smash something. But what do I do with Christmas? The season of giving. The season of loving, of forgiving. What do I do with the music that brings so many memories alive once again? What about opportunities lost, lives lost, friends lost, moments lost, time lost?
This year my house is undecorated, seemingly isolated from the rest in the neighborhood. I love this time of year, but sometimes the sadness and stress it evokes can crumble.
So for all of you who might find this time of year difficult too, perhaps we need to find our own pockets of peace while our Christmas closets remain closed and full of decorations and memories. Last night my pocket of peace was curling up in bed with three dogs and watching a chick flick. It helped having Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream! A suggestion from a friend which seemed to soothe a nasty migraine.
Trust me, we are not alone in our pain and losses and grief. There are those who will have an empty chair at their Christmas dinner table. Their losses are acute. But perhaps, just perhaps if we look closely enough at those empty chairs we might just find the presence of angels, holding us up when we need it the most.
Today I will wrap a gift and try and forgive. Forgetting will take longer. I will have lunch with a friend. I will get a pedicure. I will hum, Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer. I will remember the reason for the season. And I will remember this is life.
Merry Christmas to all...
“If it is not right do not do it; if it is not true do not say it.”
“The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be.”
Honest people are easily deceived.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
If you are never scared, embarrassed or hurt, it means you never take chances.
- Julia Soul
The human contribution is the essential ingredient. It is only in the giving of oneself to others that we truly live.
-- Ethel Percy Andrus
There are people who make things happen, those who watch what happens, and those who wonder what happened.
I must say that there are those who will be first to say I am not the easiest person to get along with. I challenge them to walk in my shoes. I feel no great need to defend myself or spend time with lengthy explanations. Suffice it to say, I have not gotten where I am today by standing around and watching the grass grow or being a follower. And yes, I expect a great deal of people. Because people have a great deal to offer. Those suffering, struggling, strangling, and suffocating will be the first to tell you they could use help. When some stand idly by and simply observe and tell me they don't have time or that I push them too hard, it is difficult. This challenges me to heights and places I am unaccustomed to, and frankly don't understand.
Truth be known, had I not had a few pushes once in a while, I am certain I could not have achieved the tiniest particle of what I have. Sometimes we stumble over the truth, and realize we should be doing something, but then hurry off as if it isn't really all that important. Goodness knows we are all so terribly busy with our own stuff, we have little time for fulfilling our purpose on this earth. (That doing good for others.) We have things to do, things to buy, things to keep up with the Jones', and things to occupy what little free time we have left.
Oscar Hammerstein said, "Love in the heart wasn't put there to stay; love isn't love 'til you give it away." Love for our fellow man, love of family, love of country, love of strangers suffering, love of our warriors in harm's way, or a baby bird in the street or a stray unloved dog or cat. Our joy isn't found in things, it is in us! Just as this thing called love is in us.
A quote from Howard Aiken hit me in the face this morning. "Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats." Love it, love it!
Train a Dog Save a Warrior came about from one comment made by a soldier in a late night phone call to me. He simply said, "I need help." How many of us need help? No, not with yard work or homework or housework. I mean help. A deep down inside need that you can't fix, find an answer for, and one that is eating you alive. Bet more of you than are willing to admit. Yes, we all need help. And as they say, 'Good help is hard to find."
Do you answer the call when someone needs help? Someone you don't know and have never seen before and perhaps will never see again. Do you find the need to tell everyone what a good person you are and how much good you do or that you are too busy to help? Or do you get in the trenches and shovel?
So moral of the story is, yes, I challenge people. I challenge them to be the best they can be, to help others in need, to realize that it is okay to set aside some of their 'stuff' for the greater good, to reach out to this world and let it know they are in it, and help them become aware that they are needed on a plane much larger than they could ever imagine.
Bottom line is if people don't like me for this, that is fine. I don't care. In the scope of things it is infinitesimal.
I ask for nothing more of others than they would ask for themselves if they were in trouble, in grief, in pain, in chaos, in adversity. We all need someone to lean on, to fall on, to pick us up, to love us, to meet us halfway, to challenge us, to hold onto us when we don't think we can do it anymore.
I challenge you to be this kind of person.
"TWO ARE BETTER THAN ONE...FOR IF THEY FALL, ONE WILL LIFT UP THE OTHER."
The Book of Ecclesiastes
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Last week the shopping list tucked into my purse had fresh garlic, lemons, fish, shrimp, crab, oysters, tomatoes, fresh pasta, and parsley listed. What wasn't written on it was rest, sleep, breathe.
I had escaped to the beach. I needed it to cleanse my spirit and wash away the nightmares, and the horrible, hateful injustices done to a dear friend, and the remnants of war on our young men and women, and to see if I could remember how to inhale once again.
I stood on the 12th floor balcony of my condo overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. The surf rolled in like layers of Austrian lace. In the background, over the roar of the waves, I could almost hear the Viennese Waltz.
The sky was salmon colored with tinges of pink and ruffles. As I closed my eyes, solitude and comfort wrapped its arms around me, a cool breeze started to peel away layers of distress. For as far as I could see in any direction, there were no people. The sand was a pale beige, pristine in appearance, as it welcomed each wave with hope and gratitude.
The sun set and then rose again, and in between I breathed and rested and recovered and never wanted to come home again. I walked the jetties, and the bay, and the beach and became overwhelmingly envious of the birds and their routine and their ability to soar above the chaos and the noise. One pelican satisfied with his morning seemed content to pose for me on a granite rock. He was at peace. You see pelicans don't have an agenda. They aren't out to hurt anyone. They aren't out to deceive and lie and torment and intentionally mame.
The gumbo was heaven and the 70 degrees perfection.
The gumbo was heaven and the 70 degrees perfection.
I discovered the beach smells different in the winter. There are no crowds of children running in and out of the surf, no teenagers proving their prowess, nobody was there but 'Winter Texans' escaping the frigid weather in Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Canada. I saluted the silence and the certainty of the gulf waters. The sublime stillness filled my heart with warmth, love, dreams, and passion carried to me in the wind.
I quivered as I watched the sun set and the moon rise. I was haunted by the mystery of it all and overwhelmed by time slipping through my fingers like the sand layed out in front of me for miles and miles. I continue to search for stability and stable ground. There is no map for this journey called life. But for this time, and in this place, I felt at peace.
The greatest lesson I have learned and a fundamental law of life is to simply be yourself. In the rhythm of the waves and the wind and the blue sky filled with hungry 'Laughing Gulls,' crying out for a piece of bread, it became abundantly clear that those who are hate filled and angry and money hungry and vengeful are not worth my time. They are sad, lonely souls who can only find solace by hurting others. For them I am sorry. They control and manipulate and feel utterly misplaced when surrounded by kindness and giving. They take no joy or pleasure in life and their hearts must be most haunted, resentful, and bitter. Their gifts remain locked away, never to emerge. They never come into rhythm with life or others or love. Their shopping list is dark and full of suffering. What is written on your shopping list?
This week before Christmas, I wish for you freedom and peace and moments and pockets of peace. Pockets where you find what truly is most important in this world and where you can restore yourself in moments of solitude and grace.
"As spring rain softens the earth with surprise,
May your winter places be kissed by light.
As the ocean dreams to the joy of dance,
May the grace of change bring you elegance.
As clay anchors a tree in light and wind,
May your outer life grow from peace within.
As twilight pervades the belief of night,
May beauty sleep lightly within your heart.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
"RESPONSIBLE IS NOT RESPONSIBLE UNTIL ACTED UPON.
BIG TALK, LITTLE DO, DOESN'T DO!"
Fear of responsibility comes from a lack of self confidence. To paraphrase Ralph Waldo Emerson, life's shadows are often caused by our standing in our own sunshine. So many people are jammed with negatives and limitations, and the belief that if they do it, it will be wrong or they might make a mistake or worse yet, be rejected. This fear is accompanied by a conscious decision to not grow. In other words, we want the glory but don't want to take the responsibility to work for it. It is found in this country's requirement of instant gratification. I know many who simply do not want to take responsibility for their daily lives. Responsibility and growth is then stopped. They don't do what they say they will do. They have little integrity and life is solely about them. Parts are missing.
According to Dorothy Briggs, "Fear is faith - in the negative."
Wow! That is worth repeating. "Fear is faith - in the negative." If we bury our heads in the sand and dwell in fear, there isn't much hope.
We all catch glimmers of what we would like our life to be. And we complain endlessly when it doesn't turn out like we wanted it to. But how many of us take responsibility for our own lives and our own mistakes and our own messes. And mostly, we don't take responsibility for staying stuck in places and spaces where we know we are not thriving.
Secondary trauma and deep compassion fatigue has taken its toll on me. I am taking responsibility for it. But what to do about it is a different matter. Maybe sometimes we just need a shoulder to lean on. Or someone to just listen to us, offering nothing more than an ear. Or maybe travel a different direction.
I walked out of the podiatrist's office today grumbling about my aching feet and his parting comment about 'gravity and age.' Then as fate would have it, I turned the corner to the elevator and there was a man in a wheelchair with no legs.
So today I will consider a good day because I have two aching feet and the wheels of my shopping cart all went in the same direction.
I will make a resolution to continue to take responsibility for my life. It is no one elses but mine, and whatever decisions I must make will be mine and mine alone.
To you and yours,
"Many Merry Christmases, many Happy New Years, unbroken friendships, great accumulations of cheerful recollections and affections on earth, and heaven for us all."
Monday, December 13, 2010
A painting larger than life is sometimes all that is needed to break down the barriers and disturb the cobwebs.
Sometimes there are those who get so full of themselves and their 'stuff' that they forget, take for granted, and disregard the truly important things in life.
Today while wrapping Christmas packages and humming Christmas caroles, I was interrupted when sarcasm was thrown at me purposefully. I wrestled with it, while trying to rise above it. The sad part is is that it was in the form of an email that was sent to others who had absolutely no need to be privy to this type of drivel. It was unprofessional and tasteless.
I believe I dislike sarcasm probably more than most anything. It takes only a moment and one comment to trample a soul, or attempt to. And I ask what is the point? Is it necessary...does it make the person who said it feel better about themselves...or is the intent to make you feel bad about yourself. Probably all of the above. But it doesn't work. It simply serves to show me who the person really is that finds it necessary to fling sarcasm like an arrow. Perhaps nothing is more discouraging than unappreciated sarcasm. Today it was unappreciated. Perhaps it is that a 'sarcastic person has a superiority complex that can be cured only by the honesty of humility,' or so says Lawrence Lovasik.
We are all responsible for what we do and say. Perhaps sarcasm keeps us from saying what we really think about someone. Whatever the reason, whatever the goal, it is offensive. So today I remember why I am on this earth and I remember those I love and those that love me. There are many more things in this life than to spend time giving someone that kind of control over us. Thank God for that.
I prefer finding joy in the moment, listening to the roar of peace, watching the pristine blue sky for an occasional white cloud, and returning again and again to that place of peace inside of me that can weather whatever anyone tosses at me. For in reality it is their problem, not mine.
Today I find shelter in my home. A nest where there is intimacy and belonging and where my identity is fostered and my individuality is at rest. It is my place to discover my self, and that I am a pretty darn good person. What others dig deep to find against me is their problem. My private sanctuary is where I am nurtured and find sorrow for those who have lost this ability and this place.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.
- Henry Ford
Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go!
Amen to that! I do believe I could have written the book!
To paraphrase Rev. Angela L. Ying, picture for a moment if you will, how many doors we walk through each day. Today, for me, multiple trips through multiple doors - the pharmacy - the bank - the post office - the bedroom, the garden room, the kitchen, the living room, the front door, the car door, the garage door. There are even revolving doors, automatic doors, elevator doors. Seems as if our lives are full of going in and our of doors.
But what if we lived with closed doors? What if we tried and tried to open doors and they remained closed and locked? What if others who have faced closed doors and finally managed to wiggle through, decided they would keep the door locked on you? It is devastating when others, once the door is opened to them, refuse to help you open the door they struggled to get through. Why do some people want to hinder others from the same opportunities which were opened for us. This makes them feel safe, right ?
History, unfortunately, is full of examples of doors closing. In fact, the caption from a Peanuts comic strip says it well when Snoopy tells Charlie Brown, "I love humanity -- it is people I cannot stand!"
It might behove us to begin listening to our lives.I am a survivor. I hang on when kicked down. I pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again. Clearly, this is not to say that this is easy. It is down right grueling. But we grow, we learn, we live through it. And if we are lucky we are much better people for it.
This is a photo of a yellow lab nobody wanted and who future was bleak at Animal Control Services. He was evaluated by our trainer and found to be 'mellow and sweet.' So we opened the door to this dog who had had so many doors closed on him. During the evaluation he was taken to a grassy area to observe and scrutinize. Needless to say the first thing he did was go to the bathroom. The trainer went for the 'disposal bags' and cleaned up after him. Next thing she knew this dog had picked up the poop bag and came and sat in a heel position at her left side....with the bag hanging from his mouth. He followed her around, still clutching his bag. Everyone was in hysterics. It was as if he were looking for a trash can for his deposit!
Suffice it to say "Bagger" is now a part of the TADSAW PTSD Service Dog training program. We figured, if he can do this as a puppy, he can learn pretty much anything. Our warriors lose their keys, the remote, numerous things. This dog managed to open his own door simply by doing what he does best...being himself!
That is all any of us can do! Just be ourselves. And along the way, if there is anyone we can help open a door, perhaps we will see that that truly is the right thing to do.
Bagger has been introduced to another lab rescue, Murphy, for our TADSAW program. Doors are opening for them and doors are opening for our wounded warriors with PTSD.
Funny isn't it, how two dogs nobody wanted or loved or cared enough about to train are now happily bursting down the doors of a hellacious invisible injury, with the assistance of certified service dog trainers.
They are preparing to change multiple lives for the better! You can too. Believe me, there is no better feeling on earth than helping someone else. And if a dog can be rescued in the process, it is all the better.
Who rescues who?
Please won't you consider supporting and/or sponsoring a wounded warrior and his or her service dog. They need you to help them open their doors that are tightly locked, isolating them from the rest of the world. The dog holds the key.
TRAIN A DOG SAVE A WARRIOR
13423 BLANCO ROAD #218
SAN ANTONIO, TX 78216