Thursday, March 29, 2012


Peeling an orange! It can be a chore or an almost sensual experience.  The aroma permeates the air, as if carried in by white sheer drapes blowing softly into a room decorated with white wicker furniture and an antique pitcher, brimming with yellow daisies, placed by the bed. Suddenly all cares vanish, as you begin to inhale this fresh clean scent.  Your thoughts turn to another time and place, or perhaps ahead to a time and place that hasn't yet surfaced.

Temporarily stunned by the actions of others, leaving you once again temporarily immobile, you place a slice of orange in your mouth and bite into it. The freshness and the juices consume you.  Sweet and juicy, you begin to notice the veins, the oil in the peel that squirts onto your fingertips, the fibers holding it together. You are consumed by this round orange globe that at one time, not too long ago, was a beautifully fragrant blossom. 

How amazing this world is.  How intricate it is, and how intoxicating it can be, if only you stop and pay attention.  If only you peel an orange.  If only you see. If only you let go, release, liberate.  Free yourself. Recall a time when there was innocence and your life and emotions weren't guarded.

The tangled lives we lead devour us at times.  We are stopped dead in our tracks by the insensitivity of others and their total and complete lack of the compassion that they so thoroughly believe they possess.  But in actuality do not. Though we might stumble we will, if we are of the mind, regain our footing and move forward.  For that is the only direction that there is!  My life has been a series of tumultuous changes.  This one, today, is no different. 

Changing your direction can be full of hope and have new meaning.  It can be magical and profound and amazingly simply, but only if you let it. It is in this place that you can find yourself, your personal truth and your life mission even more clearly than ever before.  Sometimes the path forward can be full of pebbles and hurt our feet, but with this comes an opportunity for a new experience as we learn we can walk on in wonder and excitement.
Not all scars show
not all wounds heal
often we don't see
the pain someone feels


"There are some people who put you down in life, mock your dreams, and challenge your personality; they look like winners. But in actual fact, they are only voicing out their insecurities and jealousy. Do not let them pull you down. Believe and accept yourself and hold onto what you believe in."~ Unknown

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


A breeze is a puff of air, a gentle wind.  It comes softly and sometimes unexpectedly.  This last Saturday a breeze wafted into PetSmart. This 'Breeze' was a mistake.  She wasn't supposed to be there.  Her crate was loaded accidentally.  She was supposed to be in a line at the kill shelter to be euthanized.  You see someone decided they didn't want her anymore, put her in their car, and drove her to a facility and walked her in the door to be killed by injection in a cold environment. She would have to be euthanized immediately as there was no more room because there were more dogs with no homes, no one to love them, no one to honor the commitment made to them ~ once upon a time.  What did she do to have to die?  What kind of people could do this?

There are times when I can accept people's stupidity and then there are times when I want to hurt them, shake them, rattle their heads until they disconnect.  There is literally no excuse for this action taken.  There are alternatives to killing a dog, simply because it has become inconvenient or you are moving or it is a distraction from your busy more important lifestyle.

I first saw her in a line of wire crates lined with newspaper at the front door of the store. She was calm and quiet, as she sat with her back to people, people all looking at smaller, cuter, younger, more exurberant dogs.  With her head bent down, her eyes looked up and around for someone to notice that she too was deserving, beautiful, and maybe, maybe someone would tell her that she had the most soulful beautiful eyes ever. The only thing lacking was someone to love her and someone for her to love back unconditionally.

“Surely in this great big world somebody will love me. I never did anything wrong.”

People approached every other crate but hers. You see she was black and large and these are the last dogs to be adopted and the first to be instantly euthanized. Large black dogs are never brought to adoption events. Nobody wants a black dog, you see.  Her hair was silky and coal black with a beautiful white blaze on her chest. Her eyes were soft and pleading and yet full of fear and resignation. At adoptions such as this, or at shelters, large dogs are not wanted. Puppies are.  Breeze was scheduled for euthanasia that day. She wasn’t supposed to be saved. After all she was black and larger than a puppy and nobody would want her. She would quite simply be walked by, unnoticed, and ignored. But her crate was loaded accidentally onto the truck heading to the adoption event.

I watched and watched as people ignored her. Then I slowly approached her crate with a lump in my throat and reached through the wires of the crate. She sensed trust and gently sniffed, then licked, my fingertips.  As she looked at me, and I at her, there was a connection.  I could hear her longing, feel her pain, and sense the desparation and fear.  In the midst of chaos and barking and puppies, all unloved and unwanted, I could hear this dog speak to me. 

Yeah, perhaps a little bit much for some of you huh?  But nonetheless true.  If you don't believe it, perhaps you should be a bit more aware.  Open your heart and feel and see and experience and witness and perhaps someday you too will understand what a dog can do for a person and visa versa. I see it every day, with therapy dogs and service dogs for our wounded warriors with PTSD.  I see it in my own dogs when they can sense my every mood and accommodate themselves and adjust to make me feel better, with a love that is without judgement or condition.

Within five minutes a phone call had been made and paperwork filled out and the date set for her spaying, pick up day and time from the shelter.  Today this beautiful black dog whose name is Breeze is in a foster home, waiting for her wounded warrior. A wounded warrior who has waited for her to save his life, just as she has waited for him to save hers.

Do you understand what this means?  I hope so.  For one day soon Breeze will be snuggling every night with a warrior who is afraid to go to sleep for fear of flashbacks. She will awaken him from hell.  She will accompany him to the supermarket, to the drugstore, to the park without fear of snipers and IED's!  She will become his lifesaver...this dog nobody wanted...and accidentally was allowed to live at least another hour or two until they returned with her to the kill shelter. 

If you could just once see the look on a warrior's face as he snuggles his battle buddy, and realize that this dog would be dead were it not for TADSAW (Train a Dog~Save a Warrior) and now lives for a purpose and with great purpose...perhaps then you just might get it.



Monday, March 26, 2012


It doesn't have to be 
the blue iris, it could be 
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few 
small stones; just 
pay attention, then patch  
a few words together and don't try 
to make them elaborate, this isn't 
a contest but the doorway  
into thanks, and a silence in which 
another voice may speak. 
Mary Oliver 

Melting into a place and time where I feel comfort, warmth, peace, and trust, a place where a quiet resignation seems to permeate the room. It isn't a place of wanting or waiting, so much as it is a stillness in the midst of the chaos that has been my life.  I am finding this place where there is a feeling of safety and sanity and stillness.  A place where I feel comfort, where warm hands seem to engulf me, and I melt into a place and time that I feel security and peace and trust.  A place I have waited for for a very long time.  As Mary Oliver, my favorite poet of all time says, "the doorway into thanks, and a silence in which another voice may speak."   Today I hear that voice.

Outside the male blackbirds are spreading their wings and performing a courtship dance that would rival a great ballet. The house wrens are busy gathering mulch from my garden to build their nests, and a breeze seems to tickle my arms with a soothing warmth, as I pull weeds that are as tall as I am.  The world seems to be awakening to life once again, as the trees are blooming and the leaves are appearing small and tender and a brilliant green.  It is spring in South Texas. 

Today I celebrate.  I celebrate a feeling of freedom and the removal of shackles from my ankles holding me in a place of chaos and solemnity.  I too am awakening to a new day and a new life.  One where I can make my own choices, instead of  having never ending work make them for me as I run in rapid little circles chasing my tail and going nowhere.  A place where I wore myself out in pursuit of elusive goals.

Today I feel a power of grace in my life.  A power where I am reminded of people, friends and the simple values I cherish that are in my life and my emotional investment in them. For a long time they have been neglected.  For a long time I have been neglected by myself.

My office resonates with Bringers of Dawn playing softly in the background and four dogs softly sleeping, waiting patiently for me to awaken them for a romp in the yard to see what new wonders they might find to explore.  Or maybe we just all need to lounge in the sun, admiring the beauty of a cloudless Spring day.

What's the big hurry? Life is all about moments, and this is 'the' moment.  This is the only moment we are assured of.  The to do list will wait.

I think I will go sit in the sun and nap......and just perhaps, with any luck, I will hear that other voice speak~ if I listen closely!

Saturday, March 24, 2012


If men would consider not so much wherein they differ, as wherein they agree, there would be far less of uncharitableness and angry feelings in the world.
Words read on facebook this morning ~ "They say that the time to find out who your real friends are in life is to notice who is around when times are rough, instead of just when times are easy. When choosing our friends we have to remember that our friends are our family, just the family that we choose to company with, and that we must choose wisely. There will be many people who will be great to be around when times are easy, and when there are no worries, instead take note of the people who remain in your life when times are hard." 
Wow, did this ever hit home.  Without elaborating, suffice it to say I am now choosing to be around those who remain in my life when times are hard!  Times have been hard in my life, as in everyone's lives, but this time, it has been extremely hard.  Decisions were made based on my abilities to lead in adversity.  Sometimes decisions cause us to deplete and crumble. Sometimes people leave us no choice but to make the decision to move on!  Our health and happiness is at stake.  Our reputation is at stake. Our pride and honor is at stake, so we pack our bags and leave. 

I guess I really didn't expect any great fanfare, but a couple of well placed thank yous would have been appreciated, instead of being totally ignored, as if I never existed.  Working 14-15 hour days on a foundation for seven years was my choice.  Leaving was my choice.  And I have no regrets. Thank yous or not!

I have a brilliant future ahead!  I will still "find that ten minutes of talking to my dogs makes be feel better than 45 minutes with my therapist", as author Richard Yancey said.  My dogs say thank you with every look, with every touch, with every nuzzle. 

I will still find stories of faith, courage and sacrifice from the front lines of war with my warriors.  For you see, I have learned an insurmountable lesson from them, a lesson that never ceases to amaze me.  Without exception, EVERY time I tell a warrior, "Thank you for your service and your sacrifice,"  he/she looks at me and simply and quietly says, "Oh no ma'am, thank you for your service and sacrifice." 

So the moral here is that it isn't who cares enough to say thank you to you that is important.  It is the shere fact that what I/you have done and what 'my' warriors have done, has been done with the deepest compassion, caring and love imaginable, and with a heartfelt sacrifice for other human beings and for a country and for freedom!

"History provides abundant examples of people whose greatest gift was in redeeming, inspiring, liberating, and nurturing the gifts of others.
~Sonya Rudikoff

- Joseph Addison

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


"Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world." ~John Muir

Crossroads, pathways, straight, right or left.  Stopped, stuck dead in our tracks.  I have stopped dead in my tracks for way too long. Immobile, stuck, trapped, taken advantage of, running in circles trying to please everyone and essentially pleasing no one! Least of all myself. 

Last night I laid in bed with my tv remote, my cell (fully charged), my IPad, two dogs and visions of my house being blown away by a severe storm that was promoted and forecast on every television channel imagineable.  Thunder and lightening and anticipating of the worst.  "Take cover!"  "Go to a place of safety!"  I called a friend.  She was also in the path of this doomsday storm.  She said, "I am scared."  I said, "Me too."  We talked and I tried to preoccupy the space between weather updates with idle conversations, signifying nothing ~yet passing time. 

But just thirty minutes later the storm had moved rapidly to the northwest and there was a clear sky, no rain and no base ball size hail!  So go the storms of our lives.  Sometimes they pass quickly and sometimes there is a barrage of debris thrown in our pathway.  With a shovel and a determination most of this will pass quickly and life will begin again, only this time in a new way.

So the question is do we stay stuck, waiting out the storm, or admit we are scared and take a step between the two pine trees in anticipation of discovering the doorway to a new world?  I am not one to stay stuck forever.  Although sometimes it seems like forever when I am in the middle of turmoil, chaos, disfunction and panic in the darkness.

Fear has always been that hidden message that prefaces most things in this lifetime.  Fear of failure, fear of not being who you are expected to be, fear of this and fear of that.  We all endure it and tramp through it.  But what if we just wait out the storm and anticipate the beautiful things that await as we pass through the two pines and find a brand new world waiting for us. 

This is the first day of Spring!  And with it comes a new outlook for this lady.  Anticipation of great things to come.  Time to clear out the closets, the draws, and the cobwebs stuck in my head and heart.  Time to take a breath and mean it.  Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale...and leave the sticky stuff to someone else.  I have waited, patiently and not so patiently for the darkness to disappear and the threat of a severe storm to pass.  But pass it has, and I see a strong light within me that says what will be, will be, concerning the past.  The future lies ahead and is bright and inviting.  There is always that light if we look hard enough for it.  And maybe, just maybe that light is hidden beyond the doorway between two pine trees.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


"Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option."


I love this quote.  There are so many applications where it can be used.  In a marriage, a relationship, offices, organizations and more.  This morning it applies to what I do from 4:30 am to whenever I fall asleep at the computer at night.  I direct a non profit.  It is exhausting, it is debilitating, it is exhilarating, it is hostile, it is full time work and it is the right thing to do for all the right reasons.  There are people whose lives are ultimately, and sometimes dramatically, changed because we exist!  Because we care!  Because we commit to something larger than ourselves and work to improve the world and show that just sometimes God really is inside our hearts, if we only listen closely and work to let our light shine.

I recently read this somewhere, and apologize for not crediting, but for to me it is unknown. "If men would consider not so much wherein they differ, as wherein they agree, there would be far less of uncharitableness and angry feelings in the world."

Being Executive Director of a non profit organization, Penny's From Heaven Foundation, is not a new journey to me.  I have been director of multiple non profits in my past. People come and go within the foundation, personalities conflict, more important things get in the way of obligations to the organization, and then sometimes chaos reigns. And, not surprising, the Executive Director  most times gets the brunt of the burden.  But it is the obligation of the director to approach his/her job as just that...a job.  A job that must be done with all the professionalism and talent and experience at hand.  Non profits have a mission and a purpose that must be strictly adhered to.  Decisions that are made with the backing of the board of directors are made for the good of the foundation, for the good of those they serve.  It must be run with great respect for the goals and direction required and it must be run with great patience and integrity.

But here's the deal ~ it isn't a walk in the park.  It isn't easy.  It isn't a popularity contest and it often times is horrific in its pain and accusations and back stabbing and words cast behind your back.  But for me even though this is not always fun, and 15 hours at the computer some days is certainly not fun, and even though there are many things I would much rather be doing...visiting the seashore, sitting in the mountains of my home state of Colorado, waiting for the pink, purple and yellow wildflowers of spring to peak through the snow, I am doing what I am doing because it is my mission and my purpose, and it is my calling.

I know no other way to do anything than to give it my best effort.  Sometimes the well dries up and you come to a grinding halt. And sometimes you set aside your life to an extent that simply is not healthy. You lose the passion, the patience and the ability to take another step.  Then sometimes someone steps in and holds your hand and holds you up, when others let you down and leave you alone in the dark.

I need a grinding halt.  I need time to once again become creative and write, and visit the warriors with my dogs, that I so desperately fight for,  and I need time to clean my closet.  But perhaps a short stopover of one or two hours or a couple of days will allow me to once again find that what I am doing with this foundation is ultimately worth the pain, the aggravation, the grief, the heartache and unending hours of work.

For it is the faces of those we serve that haunt me, if I give up.  If I allow others to deplete me and break me because I or the organization is only an option to them, I find this is not an answer.  It is what I do, what I give back. 

So exhausted this morning, I remember the words of a warrior who writes me two times a day from Georgia...'I don't know what I would do without you Mom."   I only know I don't know what I would do without him and all the others like him.  Strangely we need each other and what others think or feel about me is of no consequence.

I ask today, that you let your light shine, despite exhaustion.  Ultimately this is the greatest gift you can give to others and to yourself.  Work hard, give all you have, and you will find life.  Just remember every once in a while to pause and muse on all that you have in you to give to others...others who need you far more than you will ever realize.  It is the stuff life is made is the stuff love is consumed is the stuff that makes us real. 

- Joseph Addison

Wow is this hitting home this morning.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


When You Say Nothing At All
"It's amazing
How you can speak
Right to my heart
Without saying a word,
You can light up the dark
Try as I may
I could never explain
What I hear when
You don't say a thing."

Sometimes I want to play hide and seek just so I can hear someone say "I found you." 

I want to play hide and seek, right now, this afternoon, tonight, tomorrow.  I want to be found.  I want to be heard.  Somebody please hear me.

What is it about being heard?  What is it about having someone listen and actually hear?  Often times we try so hard to be heard that we ourselves are sick of hearing the same scenario over and over again? Why would we possibly think anyone else would care and listen endlessly to our rantings and ravings?

Such has been the past few weeks.  There are unbroken spaces and places in time when it just can't get any better, and then there are those times when these spaces turn into a shambles. It is in these times when I want simply to lay in the grass, as I did when I was a child, and count the stars, wondering what my place would be in the universe.  Many evenings I would run joyously after fireflies in the dark and wonder if they still glowed in the daylight.  I would later come to love reading Jane Erye and imagine myself the heroine. I wondered what I would grow up to become.  I wondered what it would be like to be a wife, a mother, a grandmother while my heart was waiting for direction to these almost sacred questions.

Never did I dream about or anticipate those places where life impales us.  Places where there is an eruption of chaos, confusion, and a chronic sense of exhaustion. Intrusive events that Sue Monk Kidd says are, "A death, an illness, an accident, a lost job, a broken relationship, an unwelcome move, a dashed dream, an empty nest, a betrayal."  This is all a part of life with the fireflies.

It is during these times of transition when we try to find meaning and value, while coming to terms with what is!  It is during these times that we want someone to say, "I hear you. I have found you."

I whisper prayers in the daytime and during my dreams.  Over and over again last night dreaming I was stuck in a highrise building, with smoke was billowing all around me, I kept saying, "God save us. God save us." I was crying out this plea when suddenly a window opened and the smoke vanished as quickly as it had come. I had wanted to be heard.  I wanted my prayer to be heard.  I wanted someone to say, "I found you. It will be alright." 

In each crisis we endure and live through, there is a buried epiphany that elevates us, shoves us, pushes us, propels us into an awakening.  A place where we finally see where we have been led, sometimes dragged kicking and screaming. A place where we are supposed to be.  A moving on, a moving away from, a moving toward something new.  We have been in a place where we were supposed to be for a while.  Not forever...just for a while.  Then it is time to move on.  On to the next part of the journey, the fluid experience of this thing called life.