Friday, March 25, 2011


Today is National Letting Go Day!  Wow, where do you start?  Where do I start?  In one degree I got a jump on it with the remodel of my kitchen, but in another I seem to stay stuck - in stuff, in dreams, in ancient memories, in missions unaccomplished and unresolved.  So how do we let go?

There are books written about it, people making a living telling us how to let go,  to move on,  to clean up our act, and our lives and our spirits that sometimes get stuck too.  Little jewels of wisdom, sound bites if you will, that at first blush sound easy.  Leaving me with a momentary positive feeling of 'okay I can do this.'

I am able to do this, to some degree, in the shining mountains or by the glistening sea.  They have an extraordinary way of cleansing my soul.  But then, all too soon, the dancing shadows from the past come back to the surface when life as I know it, rears its ugly head once again.

I have been in a funk lately.  I think it is exhaustion.  I hope it is 'momentary' exhaustion.  I have sat and contemplated all the things I should be doing.  All the things I need to do, to accomplish, but movement does not happen.  I fluctuate between denial, anger, excuses, frustrations and futile attempts to complete a project - any project. Why?

I dread the phone ringing.  I dread someone asking me to do one more thing.  It sends me into orbit. I feel like a homeless balloon floating above tasks and people, unwilling to return to anything and wanting to float away leaving it all far behind.

Yesterday I had to say 'no.'  No to a project, an event, that had finally come to fruition after working on it for a year.  I was physically and mentally not able to attend.  I should have felt sad and cried or something, but I simply sat.  I tried reading. I tried needlepointing which always seems to relax me, watched a couple of movies, fed the dogs, and took the trash to the curb. 

I feel like I am letting people down, but do nothing to correct it.  I had a long much needed conversation with  a friend who knows me better than I know myself.  A friend that I feel safe saying things to and not being judged.  After talking, I felt safe and sound enough to allow myself permission to do nothing, to stop for once in my life, worrying about other people and trying to please everyone on this earth.  I felt released.  If others don't like it, understand be it.  This is my life and my exhaustion, and I have earned it.

A list sits on the kitchen counter, pushing, prodding me to get busy. I add to it and then ignore it.

Like everyone, I say I am fine when asked.  But what if we are not fine?  We say, 'nothing's wrong', when we seethe with hurt and pain and a tiredness that won't go away.  We ignore it when this pain and hurt drives out joy and leaves us feeling stampeded.  Loss of trust eats at us, jades our thinking and eventually paralyzes us from action.

I suppose sometimes our souls become anesthetized and keep us from movement in any direction  We become jaded and blocked from movement.  The question then is how do we, once battered and now exhausted, learn to live again?

I doubt that the answers come easily.  They never do.  I told my friend I was a 'mess.'  He simply said 'You are not a mess, you're human."  With those few simple words, he had given me permission to feel what I am feeling and to continue to seek solitude and sanctuary.

So today mental confusion still reigns and the day begins.  The doves are cooing, peaceful music fills my home, and sleeping dogs surround my feet.  For now that is enough.

Today I will inhale peace and celebrate National Letting Go Day, listening to exqusite piano poems.

I hope. I hope.

Monday, March 21, 2011


The risk of a wrong decision is preferable to the terror of indecision.
- Maimonides

 Choices!  We made hundreds a day.  When to get up. What to eat.  What to wear. What route to take to work. Whether to be happy or sad.  How to respond to a situation.  Right choices, wrong choices, life choices, simple choices, grueling choices.

Ironically, sometimes our choices are only a choice of attitude. And then sometimes as Robert Fritz said, “If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is compromise.” 

"Life is change. Growth is optional.  Choose wisely."

I guess we all have the choice that if it snows, we can shovel or make snow angels!  Which would you do?

William James hit the nail on the head, "“When you have to make a choice and don't make it, that is in itself a choice.”  Think about it.  How often do you not know the right road to take and simply choose status quo. So yes, making no choice is a choice!

All of this got me to thinking.  I have lived long enough to know that to choose those people to have around me who inspire me, enlighten me, make me laugh, support me, encourage me, and allow me to do the same for them are those I want relationships with.  Those that are deceitful, dishonest, angry, grumpy, always negative, and pull me down are dispensible and quite simply waste my time! 

It is in this place that you will make quality choices.  Choose life.  Choose happiness.  Choose faith.  Choose to live your life to the best of your ability.  Choose to let others live their lives the way they choose.  You don't have to agree and you don't have to be dragged down by them. Simply let them go. I am who and what I am today, by the choices that I made yesterday. Some good, some not so good.  Some I regret, but not for long, for that too is a waste of time.  For with each choice I have learned.  With each choice, I have grown.  For it is in our ability to choose that we find we truly are human. It is the choices that we make, not the chances that we take, that determine your our life's direction.

“One's philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes ... and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.”
~Eleanor Roosevelt

Today I make a choice to be positive, to be honest, to be whole, to be present this day, this hour, this minute to the joy and beauty around me.
“It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
~Joanne Kathleen Rowling

Friday, March 18, 2011


 "I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world.  This makes it hard to plan the day."
~Elwyn Brooks White

A friend posted this quote on 'Facebook.'  When I read it at first I smiled. Then I realized that there is a tremendous amount of truth in those few words. At least for me.  At least for Springtime!  At least for today.

I want to be out of my office enjoying the world, planting my herb garden, sitting in the garden reading a book not writing one, watching the birds feather their nests, being close to those I love.  Yet at the same time I want to spend my usual 12-15 hours working on PFHF/TADSAW, writing my book, trying to improve the world.  Or, if not the world then one warrior at a time, one patient at a time, one word at a time.

I continued reading my 'Facebook' messages and was stopped cold in my tracks, as I read one from Sam, a warrior receiving one of our Train a Dog~Save a Warrior Service Dogs this weekend.

"Thank you all who made this possible!  It has been a life changing event for me in so many ways!  It is hard to express it all.  'Luther' is such a wonderful blessing....the support...the trainer is so wonderful and caring.  It makes me feel so much at peace and in caring, trusting hands, surrounded by friends that are taking care of me.  God bless all of you involved..."

So suddenly, in not knowing which direction to head, improving or enjoying life, it occurred to be that in enjoying I am improving and in improving I am enjoying. And that took some coffee, or in my case Chai Latte.

So for today, for now, for Sam and Luther I am enjoying and improving from this loving place that I find myself.  I know what it is like to be rescued, to be cared for, to be taken care of.  And it feels good. It feels safe and it feels right. It is contagious and addictive! In reality I guess what it does is make me want to help others to find this place of peace. Giving back!

Whether assisting a warrior to leave the battlefield behind and reintegrate into society, to TADSAW's efforts to  increase public awareness of PTSD,  to rescuing a dog with a bleak future in a shelter, to putting a lid on some of the emotional damage caused by war, as I sip my Chai Latte I realize that I am truly grateful and blessed.

So for today is easy to plan.  I plan on doing both ~ enjoying and improving!  Join me....

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything."
- Alexander Hamilton

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Turning our passion into compassion allows us to become the peace we seek!

The journeys of our lives are never fully charted.  Some come to us announced. Most arrive unannounced.  Some come as dry deserts to cross, some as an oasis on the horizon, some a distant mirage. And then some are dropped in our laps and lives so vividly that we can barely breathe.

Then we find our lives in pieces, these journeys are often moistened with our tears and fears.  And then, not so surprising, the drought ends. Just like Springtime, our journeys can take root and eventually, with tender care, begin to bloom.

So it stands to reason that if we have compassion and it turns into our passion, or if our passion turns into compassion, then we become the peace we have been seeking.  Seems easy doesn't it?  But is it?

I have often wondered what would remain if we were stripped of every nonessential thing in our lives.  What  is nonessential?  Spending what seems like an eternity in the midst of a kitchen remodel, I have boxes of nonessential things ready to be donated.  So is my life full of dispensible, unnecessary things, people, stuff that I hang on to out of habit. Or is it fear that we lose ourselves if we lose our stuff.  But what if we were stripped of this stuff?  Where would that leave us?  Who would we then be?  Are we morbidly defined by our stuff?

Perhaps when we are stripped down to the essentials we are vulnerable, but we are then real!

My deepest feeling is that with each loss comes a gain!  So removing the nonessentials from our lives we gain!  Personally, I gain a sense of peace, order, vision, and openness. A feeling of being able to breathe again. A spring cleaning of the soul so to speak.  When we are melted down to our core and are completely exposed, our thoughts, our feelings, our vulnerability, it is often painful. 

But it is in the pressing past this pain that our inner core remains.  Our spirit remains.  Our love remains.

We become real! We become the peace we seek!

"Your calling is the place where your deep gladness meets the world's deep need."
~Frederick Buechner

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


A season of rebirth, of beginnings, of happy endings, of new life, of fresh starts. Closets are cleaned and deep breaths are taken. Flowers are beginning to peak up out of the ground. Trees are coming to life with breathtaking blossoms of white and peach, and yellow and vibrant cherry red. It is my time of year.  Things just seem brighter now and more clear.  Days are longer and the birds and small critters are busy building nests and homes and lives.  Soon the Tree Ducks will come to the tree next door to begin feathering their nest, and before you know it, all will be right with the world when their babies waddle down the alleyway with a police escort.

Part of the brightness in my spirit today is due to a warrior named Sam.  Sam has endured hell, unspeakable things, and faces PTSD daily.  And he has survived.  It is with great pride that I tell you that our Desert Storm veteran with his new TADSAW SERVICE DOG LUTHER, has been appointed by Penny's From Heaven Foundation, as our Project Advocate Liaison (P.A.L.) and now holds a seat on our Advisory Board.

Sam, is most anxious to promote what amazing abilities a service dog has to change the quality of the life of a warrior struggling with PTSD.  Sam knows.  He understands,  He challenges others to visit TADSAW, fill out an application and potentially find their own 'lifesaver with four paws.'

San is dedicated, responsible, capable, and committed.  He has worked diligently.  He is indefatigable in his pursuit of making the most of what has been offered him. He has done things and gone places he never in his wildest dreams would have imagined he was capable of doing.  He has accomplished this with Luther by his side.

Sam could not have achieved what he has without the guiding light found in his and Luther's trainer, LaDonna.  LaDonna is a lifesaver in her own right.  She quite frankly - gets it!  She understands.  She cares.  She is passionate.  Her talent, her faith, her commitment and hope for a better life for Sam shines in everything she does and in every step she takes.  Her life to some degree has been neglected while working with Sam and Luther.  Every waking moment has been spent with this warrior and his dog.  Mission accomplished! 

Sometimes you have to step outside the box. Make a choice.  Stand your ground.  Sometimes you just know that you have been put on this earth to do the right thing.  Such is the case with LaDonna.  How many of us can say that?  How many of us have the ability in our hands and hearts to help turn a life around. How many of us can look at a total stranger and a dog rescued from near death and say to both, "I believe in you?" LaDonna has the vision and this allows her to stand up with courage and take that step.   LaDonna cherishes Sam's hopes and dreams.  She has inspired Sam by having faith in him.  To inspire him she thinks and believes the best.  

This is my springtime success story.  My springtime gift to you all.  I hope you learn from it.  Take it to that place deep inside your heart.  Plant the seeds for someone else who is struggling to find his or her way through the darkness.  Just hold out your hand, take a step with courage and help them find their way.  Isn't that what Luther is doing for Sam?  Isn't that what LaDonna has done for both of them?  

I invite you to go out and help someone else believe in their dreams. People are successful because someone believed in them.  Give someone the faith that they can make it.  Spring is here.  All things are possible.               

"It someone listens, or stretches out a hand, or whispers a kind word of encouragement, or attempts to understand, extraordinary things begin to happen."
~Loretta Girzartis

"If you're scared, just holler and you'll find it ain't so lonesome out there."
~Joe Sugdenpage


To Support a Wounded Warrior with PTSD just like Sam please visit:
We can help so many more warriors, but only with your help.

210 273 6471

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Sometimes gifts are given in the middle of the ordinary!  These gifts come unexpected, unannounced and deliberately.  Such a gift arrived yesterday. 

The past few weeks have been full of chaos, confusion, frenzy, and one hell of a painful kidney stone.  I was due a gift in this day full of 86,400 seconds.  A simple phone call, the messenger of this stray gift.

As the voice on the other end of the phone quietly introduced herself, I am certain she had no idea that what she had said had been an answer to a prayer. Not only a personal prayer, but an unknown prayer from many, many frightened children. 

It comes as no surprise to any of you that have followed this blog and Penny's From Heaven Foundation that we have an elite group of dedicated, hardworking, trained dog teams that venture out into the everyday world and spread sunshine.  Offering their gifts of their therapy dogs to those who need them the most is challenging, exhilarating, and most of the time exhausting.  If they do it right!

Whether it is a wounded warrior who has lost his way and is stuck in the quicksand of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, an amputation or a severe burn survivor, or a child who has been sexually abused and must testify in front of his attacker, to a hospice patient snuggling a dog perhaps for the last time, to a cancer patient clinging to hope, our dogs are there offering what they give best - their gift of presence.

As Executive Director, it has been my vision to place our dog teams in places undiscovered.  Undiscovered in the sense that perhaps no dog has been provided there as a modality before.  Today the benefits of pet therapy are huge in a myriad of venues. When I think that twenty to thirty years ago, families were sneaking grandma's dog into the hospital to see her through the back door, to today when dogs are present in almost any and every health care facility you can imagine. 

Tragedy, crisis, and the promise of a whispered prayer seem to be answered when a dog is part of the equation.  Children and pets just go together.  They have a bond unlike none other. This is especially true when a young child is frightened, has been molested, perhaps raped, terrified, and his or her life completely changed at a very young age, in he blink of an eye. 

A most handsome golden retriever named Chance for many years has been present for the messiness in the lives of children. A PFHF Foundation Honorary Therapy Dog, Chance has worked in the Bexar County Court House calming and comforting frightened and anxious children who have to testify to abuse or witnessing abuse. He has been there to simply hold on to and snuggle in scary times. This big dog with a big heart is a teddy bear come to life.  He manages to awaken childhood again to children who have, temporarily, by no fault of their, own misplaced it.

He may never see these kids again, but for a few moments in a bustling court house he allows them to relax and focus on his soft brown eyes, touch his big nose, and bury their faces into his soft golden fur. It is then that they sometimes realize that telling the truth might not be so scary after all.

Faced with lawyers and judges and others throwing questions at them, these children will lie down, and snuggle up close to Chance and quietly whisper their fears to him.  He in return in his unique way, lets them know it is going to be alright.

Chance, has been a comfy and safe landing place for children's tears and fears.  He has also been present at adoptions of children into new lives and families. Perhaps families that will allow them a big cuddly dog like Chance.

Chance is retiring soon.  That is where the phone call came in.  Penny's From Heaven Foundation has been asked to provide a successor for Chance!  We are humbled and grateful and honored.

Bailey, will be Chance's successor!  Bailey has big paws to fill.  But there isn't a doubt in my mind that Bailey will do his best.  He won't ever be Chance, but he too will be a big comfy landing place for these kids in crisis whenever needed.  God bless them both for the gifts they have given and the gifts received. And God bless Becky Snodgrass for sharing her most treasured gift with the world and Suzette Cerrillo for embarking on a journey of a lifetime.  I am proud!


You give but little when you give of your possessions.
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give. ~Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

We should give as we would receive, cheerfully, quickly, and without hesitation; for there is no grace in a benefit that sticks to the fingers. ~Seneca