Saturday, February 25, 2012



Normally I don't like 'If Onlys", but this morning this topic seems especially poignant. This week has been full of 'if onlys.'  Packed full of them!  If only I had more time, if only I could get rid of this pain, if only I hadn't said this,  if only they hadn't done that, if only things were different, if only! 

We all say things and do things we wish we had not done or said.  Later there is a sadness that doesn't seem to go away.  Have we injured someone beyond repair?  Can I fix this?  Will it be alright in the end?  Will the dust storm ever end?  Will life ever be what I wanted?  If only! If only!

Times can be tough.  People can be cruel, unforgiving, hurtful and judgmental.  People can steal our joy and throw us off course.  And perhaps these are the times when we have to trust and push past afraid.  Push past the boundaries created by others and do what your heart tells you is right. Feel what your heart reminds you that you feel.

Sitting for what seemed like endless hours in a sea of strangers waiting to renew my overdue driver's license, I had time to notice humanity, at its worst and finest.  It didn't take much scrutiny to isolate those in this crowd of 80-90 people, or more,  who had patience and those who did not.  I felt surrounded, crowded, and disgruntled with myself for waiting until my license expired, forcing me to endure this seemingly never ending wait.

A female voice would announce periodically the next number up!  969! 876! 104!  My number was 43.  Was my time not more valueable than this?  Why was I forced to sit and watch the most irresponsible mother I had ever seen, run up and down the aisles screaming, 'Michael.'  Her child was the epitome of obnoxous or beyond!  She was on her cell phone the entire time, dressed as something I choose not to define with words, only try and forget.  She wanted attention.  She got it.  Her child could not be contained and the thought crossed my mind of opening the door and seeing if he would run out and disappear from this hell we were all enduring to simply be able to drive a car.  If only I had renewed it a few days earlier.  If only I had never had to meet Michael!  If only!

Finally 46, 45, 44, and then me!  I was jublilant. I felt like a kid waiting for my ice cream cone and finally I got it with sprinkles!

 I felt certain there was a message here, a moral. I think this woman and her child managed to push every button I had.  But what if ... if only....I had abandoned the buttons she was pushing? 

And then I remembered a quote from Bruce Lee that I find solace in times like this, "I am not in this world to live up to your expections and you're not in this world to live up to mine."  But perhaps, just perhaps we are in this world to find that place in the middle, in between, where we both belong and can find joy and remember what really matters most.  Perhaps when all is said and done, as Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "We only need a heart of grace and a soul generated by love." The rest will work itself out and if you are lucky there will be sprinkles on top.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


"The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak." Hans Hofmann

I love this quote.  But the quandry I have is what exactly is unnecessary and how if do we actually  eliminate it, do we know if it truly is unnecessary. Things that bog us down, things that throw us off balance, things that sometimes throw us to the ground and stomp on us ~ how exactly do we know if, in the scheme of things, if they are put there for a purpose or are they put their as a necessary distraction to somehow guide us to what we should really be focusing on. Or is it a simple test?

All sounds quite complicated doesn't it.  And perhaps there is no immediate answer.  Perhaps the answer is in the not knowing. Perhaps the answer is in the waiting.  Waiting in that space in between not knowing and knowing. 

It is Wednesday morning.  After a very long and sleepless night, full of struggles and demons that won't go away, I awoke once again with no answers.  After one has been battered for so long for trying to do the right thing over and over, doesn't there come a time to say "when"?  Isn't there a place where enough is enough? 

I find that over and over and over again that when I am demolished and stuck in that place of not knowing what to do, if I do nothing, the answer will come.  Such, I hope, is the case with the devastating news I received yesterday.

It was an assault to me and to my foundation.  I screamed and cried and shouted out "No this can't be true."  Then sat and thought and thought and tossed and turned until my dogs left the bed in desparation for some peaceful sleep.  People do what they do for a reason.  The reason this person did what he did was spiteful, full of anger, and venom and meant to intentionally hurt.  There is no other answer or reason. So when does the 'necessary speak?" One thing I can tell you is that it doesn't speak until you have suffered and been bent over double and cried until there are no more tears.

Whenever and if the necessary decides to speak I hope I hear that there was a reason for this mess. That what I have been asked to endure and cope with and trying to comprehend will have had an underlying purpose.  Having written this blog for almost two years, the common theme is wanting to simplify, wanting peace, and wanting to help our wounded warriors at any cost. These are the necessary things for me.  But please someone tell me when they do we eliminate the unnecessary when it is continually dumped in your lap.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


Okay exactly what does that mean?  The art of being in the moment.  I have been struggling, strangling, hanging upside down, inside out, beat up, and feeling all disheveled.  A friend of mine says to 'stop thinking, just be."  Any instructions beyond that elude me. Number one I am not good at not thinking...and I am not at all sure that I know how to 'just be'.  Is she saying I need to have memory lapses?  Am I supposed to reinvent myself time and time again?  I need a handbook or the Dummies Guide to Being in the Moment.

When your world seems turned upside down aren't you supposed to do something to correct the balance. I am a fixer, a peacemaker.  If the ball falls off the seal's nose, isn't there someone there to pick it up and replace it?

Does stopping thinking mean you can forget?  Not for this gal.  But I am trying. So far...well so far not much success.

Another friend of the same philosophy says to "let the world take you by surprise."  Well it seems to do that without my wanting it to.  Sometimes I don't want to be surprised, especially when surprises include pain and grief and loud voices, yelling profanities at me for no apparent reason. 

Another friend suggests I 'forget what I want and enjoy what I get.'  Okay that one I get.  But what if what you get isn't enjoyable?

Seems like today I am consumed  and confused with questions.  Rational thinking  is muddled and foggy.  The sun is shining and the air crisp and cool.  I spent the morning with a friend and her Labrador retriever visiting at the VA Hospital here in San Antonio.  We laughed, and I watched my friend as she experienced the art of joy!  This Sunday morning we both got a prize for just showing up.  I had not wanted to go and almost called and said I wasn't going to make it. Melancholy, or perhaps depression and grief,  had taken hold of me and wouldn't let go.  But I forced myself to get dressed and 'get up offa that thing' and go! 

And in so doing, I found that the strangest thing happened.  I understood that you don't have to be happy, in fact you can be in tears, and you can still experience something that is a small inducement, or enticement if you will, to being glad you are alive.

A Vietnam vet's day was made so  much brighter just by this precious lab, Athena's visit to him. He talked of dogs he had had and what joy they had brought to him. Precious memories bringing him joy.  A female warrior, partly paralyzed, managed to improve each minute that we were there to the surprise of all the staff and  physician present.  She lifted her arm slightly and reached toward Athena's back and began to pet her and then held a brush and quietly brushed her coat.  Miracles had happened.  And as they did, I suddenly realized the Art of Being in the Moment...just being.

Perplexed yes.  Still in great personal pain yes.  But I undersood. 

Sometimes you can get caught up by the miraculous.  Sometimes the miraculous is a moment unfolding right in front of you.  Veronique Vienne says, "Beware. Feeling blue is never an excuse for passing on a chance to feel joy." 

On this beautiful Sunday morning, I believe I finally undersood. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012


As I write this, I am doing so to try and find the words I so desperately need to string together to make sense of the chaos and the anger and the sadness in my lap, in my life, right now.

A precious friend's little daughter is fighting for her life,  and is in her second surgery in two days at this moment. A freak accident has injured her to the point of not knowing if she is going to make it or not, with a 2% chance of survival.  If she lives she will lose her arm and be terribly scared.  Prayers are being said across the world for her right now. Her mom calls me every hour from Tennessee to update me and to cry and to alow me cradle her in arms that have to reach that far, until her own mother makes it to the hospital.

An Air Force friend, moved to another state, who was a PTSD patient here in San Antonio, is driving an hour to a psychiatric appointment which is agony to him.  He is stressed and eaten up with anxiety and I have told him that Kelsie and I are in his pocket and to know that no matter what, we love him and are by his side. I feel his pain. I want to take it away.

Then to add icing to this cake of tears, I find that horrible rumors have been viciously spread about the Penny's from Heaven Foundation at SAMMC, stating we are asking warriors for money and pocketing it for our own personal gain. Additionally, they have spread the word that our therapy dogs are 'inferior'. They have removed our dog teams from the 7th floor psych unit.  We have been told we are not to enter the hospital again.  We have been removed, hopefully only temporarily, from the psych hospital and from our PTSD patients who so dearly love our therapy dogs.

I can guarantee you that our dog teams working with this population have had a massive amount of training prior to working with  PTSD, TBI and MST patients.  The dogs are hand picked and certified to become PTSD Support Dogs.  The handlers are also hand selected for their compassion and knowledge of working with this very special group.  I am sickened, angry, and this burden is heavy.  Anyone wishing to see our financials is welcome to do so.

I have compassion.  Tons of it.  It isn't sympathy or pity; it is much more powerful and a very difficult emotion to endure sometimes.  To understand the suffering of others and wanting to do something about it is a responsibility I often find too hard to carry.  Some, many, simply say, "Oh isn't that too bad."  Then there are those of us who stand at the ready to do whatever we can to make it better.  To help, to assist, to bend over backwards to change the circumstances.  When people I love suffer, I suffer.  I want to fix it.  I want to make it better.  But in so doing, the burden on me is huge.  When words are tossed and bantered about that are false and hurtful and lies, I hurt for my teams who are engaged in this journey with me.

I wish I understood all of this.  I wish I had answers.  I only have an enormous feeling of anguish for the pain and suffering of this little girl and her family, and for my warrior who is having to relive whatever it was in combat that has caused his acute PTSD, and for my foundation whose sole purpose is to share their most precious therapy dogs with warriors and patients in need of a little comfort.  For others to suggest that we do otherwise makes me furious. 

Penny's from Heaven is a harbor for the type of people who never underestimate the good that can be done with sympathetic thoughts and feelings that walk hand in hand with compassion. I want to clear my head.  I don't want to have these negative thoughts and feelings for those who malign our good works.  I don't want to waste any more time dealing with people whose sole agenda is to harm others by word and deed. There is no sense in it.  But when your face is rubbed in it time after time after time, one gets a bit weary. 

So I sit looking at my BOOK OF POSITIVE QUOTATIONS and opened it to a page that makes me feel least for now. We wonder what words we can say to those in pain and distress.  We wonder if any words we say will hold any meaning or simply fall flat.  Linda Picone in her book says, "It's not what we say that matters, but that we care enough to say something.  The words don't matter so much as the thoughts and feelings behind them.  And we should never underestimate how much sympathetic thoughts and feelings mean to those in trouble." 

Okay, so no matter how many times people try to batter me and ruin my reputation, I will remain who I am.  I will not alter the compassion I feel for others and the consistent absorption of their pain.  But somewhere in the back of my heart is a place that has very little compassion for those who think only of themselves and nothing of those we so badly want to help.  It isn't about us, it isn't about those who besmirch us, it is solely about those struggling to heal.  Seems many have forgotten that one very important point.  For them I feel anything but compassion.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


"Let your soul stand ajar, always ready to welcome the ecstatic experience."  ~ Emily Dickinson

Love can be so many, many things.

Robert Louis Stevenson said, "No one is useless who has a friend, and if we are loved we are indispensable." Such it is with our four footed friends. Most of the 'ecstatic experiences' I have been witness to have occurred with patients, warriors, and therapy dogs. The interactions, the facial expressions, the unbridled joy and excitement of simply being in the presence of a dog are packed full of love. 

Therapy dogs are my life, they are what I do, they are where I see love at its best, at it finest, at its most real and truthful.  For me I have learned to love complete strangers, because I have learned what makes, or has made, them substantially vulnerable.  What makes them laugh, what makes them cry, what makes them afraid, what makes them alive and come to life.  A dog, snuggled close, brings a longing for a moment or two of peace, of recognition of another time and place. 

Therapy dogs give with no expectation of receiving anything in return.  They are someone with whom patients can share their deepest longings.  Patients can break into unashamed tears or laughter or both.  They can return to being a person that they used to be, a person they were "before".  They can find harmony and inhalations of fresh air just by gazing into the eyes of this creature, who at the same time is most wondrous and strange. 

They are two souls suddenly bound, perhaps for only moments, where silent memories or longings erupt and reality of illness escapes and peace and love takes its place.

Tom Burns has said, "You can close your eyes to what you do not want to see, but you cannot close your heart to what you do not want to feel."  So it is with our therapy dogs. So it is with our personal dogs.  So it is.  We have no say in the matter.  We are simply observers.  We are there to provide our most precious gift, to those who need it the most.

We do not have to have expectations as to what will happen when we walk into a healthcare facility with our dogs.  What we do have to have is an open heart, an open mind and an understanding that whether we will ever know it or not, something amazing will happen. 

"Love is the master key that opens the gates of happiness." ~ Tom Burns

Our Penny's From Heaven Foundation therapy dogs unlock places and spaces in people that they didn't know were even locked. A letter on this Valentine's morning, simply said, "Thank you for what you do! "  It is not me that requires or even deserves this accolade.  It is the magic, the miracle that occurs when a therapy dog opens a door to allow healing to begin.

What looks at us with contentment and love is where it all begins and ends.  Two beings of different species connecting in a way that is impossible to be defined.  It is enough that there is this connection...this for the other.  Anything else simply does not matter.

Happy Valentines Day!


Monday, February 13, 2012


"Don't underestimate the value of doing nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear and not bothering." ~ Winnie the Pooh

So often we find our lives in turmoil and chaos.  We get overwhelmed, wondering if we can do all we have to do and accomplish the huge amounts of lists of stuff that are mandatory and urgent.  After all we are important.  We are busy.  We have to impress.  We have to get ahead.  We have to be better than any one else.  We have to be the best.  Or do we?

Do we really have to exhaust ourselves every day getting ahead, impressing, finishing one list and starting another for the next day? Seems life is made of ever so many lists all glued together.  No sooner do we complete one than we add something to another list.  I must admit I am as guilty of this as anyone.  But today I don't want lists.  I don't want to follow the routine and accomplish everything, or really anything on my list.  I want to shove all of them into my paper shredder, just feet from my desk.

It is cold and gloomy and bleak outside.  I want to stay in the moment.  Listen to Herb Ernst and Bringers of the Dawn and realize that this moment contains my happiness. Living this one moment, and being fully present for it.  For the next person, the next experience, and next emotion, and the next adventure will come soon enough.  Today I want a sanctuary in which to do absolutely nothing.

So many moments are packed with wonder that we miss, as we rush on to the next one.  For me this is why I become tense, anxious, upset, and fearful.  I don't want to be rushed or hurried and dislike people who require that of me.  I have paid my dues.  I have been there.  I had 30 years of performing like a puppet and that is enough. 

I want to discover those places inside of me where there is wonder and delight and those things that are the opposite of anxiety and chaos. I do not want my peace interrupted.  Those who tell me to hurry and do this and do that ... well I will tell them I will get to it when I have time.  I would like to tell them the truth, but I don't think they would understand if I told them sanctuary soothes and calms my soul.

As for today, when the sun is behind the clouds, perhaps healing is right around the corner. And perhaps just perhaps the shredder will consume my lists quite silently and I can go on 'not bothering,'

Friday, February 10, 2012


He had pledged allegiance to the United States of America. And in so doing gave his left leg and is struggling to keep the other.  The left side of his face and body is covered in shrapnel
from injuries from an IED blast in a country far, far away. He has a Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress and seizures.  But the one thing he hasn't lost is his love of dogs and his ability to 'feel' deeply about another being on this earth. And he has learned to trust this being to understand his pain.

After receiving a call from his mother requesting a visit, I took my beautiful, intuitive  Kelsie to see him.  Usually upon walking in to visit with a warrior, I extend my hand, introduce myself and Kelsie, and wait to see the response and what is needed.  But this time was different.  This time, without words, this warrior lifted himself with his arms from his wheelchair to the sofa and simply said, "A dog." His eyes, glazed and vacant, never left sight of her with a pleading, a yearning I have never before seen.  I remained silent. 

I laid her soft red blanket on the sofa and gave her a whispered 'up' command.  The warrior bent over double with his head almost touching his bandaged amputation. His right leg extended straight in front of him in the fixator. 

It was then that everyone's breath was taken away.  As this valiant young warrior bent over double, Kelsie  snuggled up close and stretched up to lay her head in the center of his back.  The room went silent and my heart almost stopped. Mesmerized we all watched, as he kissed her feet, her legs, her toes and then buried his head into her fur and quietly wept.  Kelsie moved slightly and put her head down next to his, getting as close as possible, to tell a total stranger that she was there and and that she understood his pain and that she was not leaving him.  He buried his face into the top of her head and continued to inhale, exhale, and quietly dissolved into tears that had been bottled up for a very long time. Without shame his mom cried, as we all watched Kelsie quite simply take over and hug him the only way she knew how.  I could have sworn somewhere in the background I heard Brahm's Lullaby, or was it the National Anthem?

When I look back at my life and remember those moments that have taken my breath away, this will be at the top of the list.  God sometimes puts us in places and spaces where we feel we have lost everything and  feel we have no will to go on.  With all honesty, for me this was one of those days, until I was witness to something so precious and heartbreaking and beautiful and full of love that I too, like this warrior, will live to fight another day. 

Thank you God for this moment and for this young man and thousands just like him who have sacrificed so that we may, hopefully, never take life for granted or those we so deeply love for granted or take the abilities of a dog for granted.  A miracle happened this day and I was witness to it.  I will never be the same. 

Kelsie and I will return and return again until our presence is no longer necessary. It's the least we can do for the price he paid.

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

If Kelsie could utter words, perhaps she would say, "If  you are scared, just holler and you will find me."

Sometimes we all have songs in our heart and sometimes we forget how to sing them.  And then sometimes a special dog comes along and reminds us of the words. This is perhaps how we should all love a person. 

"Believe that there's light at the end of the tunnel.  Believe that you may be that light for someone else."  ~ Kobi Yamada

"Never give up.  This may be your moment for a miracle." ~ Greg Anderson

God showed me this day that my pain, my tears, my grief, my losses should not make me lose sight of the reason I am here.  For on this day I was witness to a miracle. Yes, I am still in horrible pain, but I witnessed a miracle.   

"What courage it takes to believe in a dream." ~Carlor Menta

Perhaps not only courage but also loss.  Sometimes we lose so much we don't know if we can hang on another second.  And then someone comes along and snuggles close and tells you never to lose hope. Surround yourself with those who believe you can, and give you wings so that you, one day, just might fly again.

Sunday, February 5, 2012


I heard a psychologist say something to me this morning that hit me right in the face. "Sometimes we hurt others so we don't hurt."  I guess this surprised me primarily because when I hurt it makes me feel better to make others feel better, not the other way around. And boy have I hurt lately.  So much so that I have stumbled just trying to stay vertical.  Sometimes there is a pain that words can't describe.  You put on a happy face and then suddenly the tears come rushing to the surface and there is no stopping them.  Such was the case this morning.

In a very difficult and stressful meeting, my little blind Gracie came up and put her head on my leg.  Since she was eight weeks old, she has always sensed and felt my pain and somehow knows just the second when I need her the most.  She will climb onto my lap and lay her head on my shoulder and press her cheek next to mine and make the sweetest softest sound imaginable.  I respond with a verbal appreciation and gratitude of her very existence in my life.  But this morning at my dining room table, she simply laid her head on my leg. I bent over to pet her head, her ears, her muzzle when I found myself suddenly buried into her fur as the tears flowed. 

Letting go is okay...or so I am told and try to remind myself. For me I all too often hide my pain for sometimes there seems to be so much of it that if I were to let go I fear I might explode or implode.But then when Gracie offers her belly and cooing sounds without hesitation and stays close to me, it reminds me that there are those moments in life that something as vital and yet as simplistic as a little dog named Gracie that can save your life. 

Dean Koontz, in A Big Little Life: a Memoir of A Joyful Dog Named Trixie, says "When we have the deepest of affection for a dog, we do not possess that love but are possessed by it, and sometimes it takes us by surprise, overwhelms us.  When we take a dog into our lives, we ask for its trust, and the trust is freely given.  We promise, I will always love you and bring you through troubled times."  Seems to work both ways. But there are times when we are not in control and others who have dictated our happiness or sadness  leave us helpless.  When trust in humans we once trusted is lost, it is truly a humbling experience when we discover our dogs remain steadfast in their faith in us, leaving us 'shaken and humbled.'

So today after having lost sunshine in my life, I search for it in other places.  I choose not to hurt others so that I won't hurt.  Quite the opposite.  It has strengthened me, knowing that others out there need me to be there for them, because they too hurt and maybe they don't have a little dog named Gracie and a friend that calls them 'sister' and new friends that have taken them under their wings and nourished them, held them, fed them, and kept them from falling down and from falling apart. My friend's acts of kindness have reverberated across distance and time to others through their love and support of me.  

It is in helping me step out of pain and back into life so many, many times that little Gracie was sent to me, as well as my friends who know my heart and hold it gently in their hands. 

So today on a cold, gloomy day I wish for sunflowers and friends, whether canine or human, that are there for me and for you during betrayals and battering events that ultimately will come into your lives. I wish for our canine companions to know how much they are loved and appreciated and cherished.  For without them pain would often be unbearable and hearts would become cold and bitter. 

Friday, February 3, 2012


How many of us, all too often, are in desperate need of a kind word? An ear that listens?  A heart that understands? Or a soul mate that reaches out from across the miles and says, "I care, I understand."

He writes a few words that instantly tell you he 'gets' it, he has been there, or perhaps is there himself. "Just wanted you to know that you are in my prayers. Hang in there. Stay busy. If you're anything like me (which you are), it is much easier to deal with difficult things when your mind is not idle."

Then he tells you he has searched and searched for an entire afternoon for a quotation that would be meaningful and heartfelt and meant to help.

Courage doesn't always roar.
Sometimes Courage is the quiet voice
at the end of the day saying,
"I will try again tomorrow."
- Mary Anne Radmacher

The letter ends with, "So all we can do is try again tomorrow. I will do the praying... you do the living. Take Care. Talk to you soon."

Now this is a friend.  How precious his words are to me.  How my heart doesn't feel quite so alone.  Someone understands, someone far away is holding my hand and telling me it is all going to work out and be alright. How could I be more blessed?

Angels come into our lives in a myriad of disguises, shapes and sizes, and usually just when we need them the most to heal a broken heart, to hold us when we cry, and to provide solace in times of trial. All they ask of us is to be aware and open to their presence. And they ask us to believe. My angel is my beloved Penny in the photograph.  I know she is watching over me and guiding my every move.  Her legacy is more grandiose than ever expected. "I love you and miss you every second of every day!"

Perhaps you find yourself praying every once in a while for a different life than the one you have.  "If only life were different." Then something happens that opens your eyes and tells you that perhaps this is the life you were meant to have.  This one precious life...this wild ride that isn't always easy.

Abigail Thomas in A THREE DOG LIFE ~ A MEMOIR says it beautifully, "There's nothing I want to relive ~ certainly not youth ~ and as for what's to come, I'm in no hurry.  I watch my dogs.  They throw themselves into everything they do, even their sleeping is wholehearted.  They aren't waiting for a better tomorrow, or looking back at their glory days.  Following their example, I'm trying to stick to the present." 

Good things happen slowly.  And for me, my dogs are my little angels without wings. So for today here is my agenda:

Be less quick to anger.
Show appreciation more.
Understand the way other people feel.
Slow down enough to consider what is true and what is real.

And today I will remember the Golden Rule for truer words were never spoken.  More than anything else the Golden Rule is about kindness. 

What is on your to do list?

Thursday, February 2, 2012


"When you do a thing, do it with all your might.  Put your whole soul into it.  Stamp it with your personality.  Be active, be energetic, be enthusiastic and faithful and you will accomplish your object."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
19th Century American Writer

These words were handed to me on a piece of copy paper by a hospitalized wounded warrior with severe PTSD.  He said when he read the words they reminded him of what we do to help our warriors, whether burn survivors, amputees or the thousands with the invisible wounds of PTSD, TBI and/or MST (Military Sexual Trauma). He wanted us to have them.  I was touched and moved and humbled and ready to perform any miracle I might be able to pull out of a hat to help as many of those suffering from PTSD  as possible.  But then reality hits and says, 'you quite simply can't help them all.'  

I can understand, comprehend, feel to the core the pain of it.  You feel misplaced, alone, scared, and in a world that never stops whirling and a place where you don't feel you belong.  You want life to be the way it was.  You want to go back to 'before.' You want the sun's rays to cover you with a healing warmth and let the rain wash away the pain and uncertainty and grief and allow you to bloom once again.

For some reason, it is easy for me to feel what others are feeling.  To be compassionate.  I want to try to help, to do something, anything, to alleviate the pain.  Perhaps because I too have great pain that needs to be alleviated.  I don't know.

In the words of the 14th Dalai Lama, "If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.  If you want to be happy, practice compassion."

Sometimes in our lives we all need to be carried, when we just couldn't do it anymore.  We will always remember who was there for us.

The Story of the Sand Dollar ~ Making a Difference

An old man was strolling along a beach one day. In the distance he saw a young boy and girl reach down, pick something up and throw it back into the sea.

Drawing nearer, he saw that the sand was littered with thousands of small stranded sand dollars. The children were patiently picking them up, one at a time, and returning them to safety below the water.

"What are you doing?" he asked.

"Saving sand dollars," replied the children as they continued about the job at hand.

The old man, somewhat jaded by age, thought the children's actions were futile.

"But the beach is littered with dying sand dollars. What possible difference can you make by doing this?"

The young girl bent over, picked up another, and threw it with all her might. With a plop the sand dollar sank safely below the water. Then, turning to the old man, she said with all the wisdom of a child:

"I made a difference for that one."

And so it is with our warriors!  We make a difference one at a time with the all the compassion and resources we have. And when the nights are dark and all consuming, I will try to remember those that we helped and try to find a way to continue helping those that stand by with so much hope that one day they too can have a service dog by their sides to chase away the nightmares and horror.