Thursday, April 26, 2012


This has been circulated on the web for some time.  I find it worth re-reading and absorbing and remembering the things that truly matter. 

"You're 19 years old. You're critically wounded and dying in the jungle somewhere in the Central Highlands of Viet Nam.It's November 11, 1967.  LZ (landing zone) X-ray.   Your unit is outnumbered 8-1 and the enemy fire is so intense from 100 yards away, that your CO (commanding officer) has ordered the helicopters to stop coming in.
You're lying there, listening to the enemy machine guns and you know you're not getting out.  Your family is half way around the world, 12,000 miles away, and you'll never see them again.
As the world starts to fade in and out, you know this is the day.
Then - over the machine gun noise - you faintly hear that sound of a helicopter.  You look up to see a Huey coming in. But.. It doesn't seem real because no MedEvac markings are on it.

Captain Ed Freeman is coming in for you.

He's not MedEvac so it's not his job, but he heard the radio call and decided he's flying his Huey down into the machine gun fire anyway.   Even after the MedEvacs were ordered not to come. He's coming anyway.
And he drops it in and sits there in the machine gun fire, as they load 3 of you at a time on board.
Then he flies you up and out through the gunfire to the doctors and nurses and safety.
And, he kept coming back! 13 more times! Until all the wounded were out.

No one knew until the mission was over that the Captain had been hit 4 times in the legs and left arm.

He took 29 of you and your buddies out that day. Some would not have made it without the Captain and his Huey.

Medal of Honor Recipient, Captain Ed Freeman, United States Air Force, died last Wednesday at the age of 70, in Boise, Idaho 

May God Bless and Rest His Soul.

I bet you didn't hear about this hero's passing, but we've sure heard  a whole bunch  about Whitney Houston, Lindsay Lohan, Dr. Murray, that sicko Sandusky , and a 72- day sham marriage.
Shame on the media!

Medal of Honor Winner Captain Ed Freeman."

Saturday, April 21, 2012

"Not all scars show
Not all wounds heal
Often we don't see
The pain someone feels"

I had jotted these words down into one of my zillion note books on every flat, and not so flat surface in the house, so as to remember the depth of their meaning.  The life of a writer!

Then I decided to take my notes and my chai tea upstairs to begin my blog, based on these words of wisdom and great meaning. At the base of the stairs, I was greeted with this  picture.  It undoubtedly was precipitated by the piece of toast with Nutella in my mouth, because my hands were full.  Or it could have been  that three out of four in my pack of therapists, my service dogs, my lifesavers, had something different on their minds.  Let's not go upstairs...let's get out and enjoy this gorgeous day.  So here is the first picture I have taken with my new phone, of the motley crew, all rescues of one sort or another!  

These dogs are the friends who feel my pain and try everything in their power to lessen it.  Just looking at these little faces on the stairs...blocking my way...made me laugh out loud.  Juggling the toast in my mouth and arms full of laundry, I prayed I could quickly get a photo on my new phone. It could never have been a staged shot...just a quick candid shot! It would not have happened had I tried to position them in this manner. Much less keep them still.

Kelsie, my service/therapy dog at the top, Remy, my second PBGV (Petite Basset Griffon Vendeen) in the center, and Wally, the grumpy old man who is deaf, but still is a warm, snugly lap warmer and a lifter of spirits, as are they all.

So how do I incorporate the quote into the photo...hum!  Let's see.  Could it be these rescue dogs, as do we all, have scars that are unseen, wounds that are not healed, and they sense like no one else can, the pain I sometimes am burdened with. 

Kelsie, bred in Canada to become a guide dog for the blind, spent 9 months in the Dominguez State Prison with an offender as her basic obedience instructor. She was ultimately deemed not viable for becoming a guide dog and was released from the program and put on a rehome adoption list.  I got lucky.  Remy only having been in my home for about 4 weeks, lived 4 years in Illinois. It is increasingly obvious this was a home without much love for this little guy, because he worships me, won't let me out of his sight and is afraid of being hit or beaten.  And then Wally, as a puppy, was rescued by the Humane Society after he was found near death in a ditch.  He was covered with fire ants, two types of mange, ulcerated eyes, and the list goes on.  Yes they know scars!  But they don't dwell on them like we humans do.  They let them go.  They have no judgments, nor conditions put on anything.  They find special in the ordinary, as we find love in the footprints they leave in our hearts, if only we pay attention.

I have always known our dogs teach us so much, if only we would pay attention.  This morning on the stairs I found a huge lesson.  Okay...let it go.  Let the bad guys remain in the past.  Let the bad guys know you don't care the slightest bit about their problems, except for pity. They have nothing else to do but malign someone trying to do good.  And today I will rise above the little people!  They are obviously suffering and in need of compassion.  Yes, it is sometimes almost impossible to secure that feeling, but this morning I feel compassion for those that are so insecure they feel they must hurt others. What a sad life they must be living. Perhaps they would be wise to take lessons from our four footed friends.

As for me, today I let these people go.  They are troubled, and even the kindest words can seem trite or ineffectual.  To them I say, as my dogs say to me, 'I am not in a battle.  Life is way too short.' 

I choose to not enter your arena. You may remain there alone. If there is no one to fight with, perhaps the joy will be gone for you.

I shall close this rather disjointed blog this morning with my favorite poet and her words. Words to live by.

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain.
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again
I shall not live in vain.
~Emily Dickinson

Thursday, April 19, 2012


I love photography. Always have. Capturing lives, faces, places, and time.  I look back at  things cherished and I find them in my photographs. 

I first realized it when I lived in Seoul, Korea.  In every corner, window, face, and shadow there were beauteous things that needed to be captured for all time.  For one year, I traveled extensively throughout Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, Taipei, and Thailand.  I loved each and every moment of it.  However, capturing a photograph also meant capturing a soul.  And this was definitely frowned upon.  Except for their children.  I could photograph the children endlessly, but what I wanted was to photograph the pride and the courage and beauty and the wrinkles of a people alien to me.  I recall an outdoor market in Taipei where I was intrigued by the vast array of fresh fish laid on the sidewalk.  I focused the lens and was ready to snap when the vendor, a lady, grabbed the largest fish she could find and started chasing me down the road, beating the top of my head with the fish. 

I also recall, with more serious consequences, photographing a rally for the ousting of Chang Kai Shek by America.  I was young and naive and had no idea what was going on.  As I raised my camera to photograph the gathering,  a group of motorcycles began charging me - the target a blonde American.  The only thing that saved me was a train suddenly out of no where, placing me on one side of the tracks and the motorcycles on the other.  I made a hasty exit.  Later I learned what I had done and was blessed to have escaped at all.

Some days I pick up my camera and just start taking pictures.  Colors and shades, highlights and shadows awaken me to ordinary things, beautiful ordinary things. I find myself ridiculously happy over small treasures and gifts, weathered and worn, exquisite and fresh, things that no one else would find interesting in the least or walk by unnoticed. 

Little things make me happy.  Perhaps that is the creative spirit in me.  Perhaps I see things others don't for a reason.  They are moments...moments in time.  We all have them, but how many of us actually pay attention.  Attention to the beauty that surrounds us.

I walked out into the back yard yesterday to spend frisbee time with my dogs and breathe in the fresh air and soak in a bit of sunshine.  Three tiny pink flowers had just awakened.  They were stunning and just as ravenous to me as was the dragonfly on my garden fence.

Today notice the beauty that surrounds you.  Make a mental note or take a photograph and find life really does lie in the little the things that really matter.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Don't try to guide someone with your words,
encourage the awakening of their spirit through your actions.

~Garnet Emerald~

I hope that is what I am doing.  I try to.  I aim to.  I try to wake people up to the wonders of their lives.  Yet sometimes in the process, others try to inhibit my every action in word and deed and yes venom. But to them I say a hasty goodbye.  You have not been worth my while. 

There are those who appreciate and understand and comprehend and grasp, and more importantly, need what I have to offer.

This morning I am reminded of a true story when my little blind therapy dog, Gracie, and I were at a rehab hospital  for our weekly work.  We were met at the front door by a therapist who appeared to be in a situation with a family member of patient.  She asked if Gracie and I could visit with her in a private office.  I had no idea what the problem was, nor what I was about to face when I opened the door.  But as we were lead down the hall, a calm came over me, and I was prepared for whatever I might find on the other side of that door.

We opened the door and inside was dark except for a small table lamp softly lit.  A woman sat in the dark crying softly.  She looked up and the only thing she saw in this room was my little blind Gracie.  She reached out to her, and with a huge inhalation of breath, she whispered soulfully one word...'Ooooh.'  I guide Gracie to her outreached hands and she cradled her precious little head in her hands. 

I quietly introduced Gracie to her and told her she was not able to see her but knew that perhaps she was needed.  And needed she was.  I explained Gracie was a blind therapy dog and was here to offer comfort.  Since there was no one else in the room, I removed the leash, and Gracie placed her front paws on the ladies knees.  Soon they were forehead to forehead with no words being uttered. 

Gracie jumped down purposefully and went to her bag that I carry all of her equipment and supplies in for rehab.  She sniffed and nuzzled and nudged and finally emerged from the bottom of the bag with a pink stuffed mouse with grey ears.  She carried it to the lady's lap and gently placed it there.  She was not asking her to throw it, she was quite simply providing her an offering, her most treasured toy.  Perhaps hoping to console her, perhaps unable to know what else to do, or perhaps simply understanding...mouse was offered. A quiet smile appeared on this face stained with tears. 

The therapist returned and I gave a complete stranger a hug and Gracie jumped up for one final kiss on the top of her little furry head. 

So to those who malign me, my work, my actions, I have nothing to say.  It is only important that I know what I do is valuable and necessary and done with love and kindness. 

And it is only important that I remember the story of the pink mouse and the peace and love with which it was presented by a little blind dog named Gracie.

Monday, April 16, 2012



Words of wisdom from a 29 year old wounded warrior who calls me 'Momma'.  We met perhaps 5 times with my therapy dog Kelsie at a hospital where he was being treated for severe PTSD. Since he returned to his home state, we have corresponded by email once or twice a day.  It is like we are making sure each of us is still there, there for the other.  "Are you okay?  Are you still there?  Always son ... always!"

He sensed something was wrong when I hadn't written him in a  couple of days and then when I finally responded after he asked if everything was okay...I simply wrote 'nope.' He knew.  He knew something was not right.  We know each other that well. What was wrong is not important to this blog. 

This is a man who captures the heart, soul and spirit of all our wounded warriors.  They are a brotherhood...battle buddies till the end. And much like these battle buddies, he and I have taken each other under our wings until we can fly again. 

The world I live in has been chaotic and frenetic and frenzied.  It has been rewarding and yet tumultuous.  And it has been full of grief, betrayal, and a deep sadness. Sometimes so much so that I can barely breathe.  For my friend, he has lived through war and has come home injured.  His mind is full of demons and nightmares and flashbacks, he is forced to remember and repeat and endure again and again. 

He struggles daily to find a better life and he will!  I guarantee him each day.  I pray for him. And daily I find myself feeling guilty when the slightest things upset me, and tears come to my eyes while I am out to lunch with a friend, when I am standing in line at Barnes and Noble with an armload of books I have fallen in love with before even reading them. 

The only thing that dragged me out of a  house of  isolation, depression, and grief yesterday was a friend.  A friend who wouldn't take no for an answer.  A friend who cares enough about me to break down the walls, when I am not able to do it alone.

A spray of brilliant pink roses in my back yard look prettier today.  My heart isn't so heavy.  Rain and puddles have disappeared from my head and heart. I find that when somebody cares, is there for me and knows when it might take a crowbar to pry me out of the depression that eats away at me like leeches ~ life takes on a new brilliance suddenly. 

Sitting by the bedside of a wounded warrior, I listened.  I heard.  I felt.  My heart once again opened up to what is really important.  I asked what he was going to do once he was able to use his legs once again and recover from extensive wounds from an IED blast.  "I don't know.  But there is a reason I am alive."  I feel certain he will find it.  He has already helped show me the way.  I have no doubt that he will help others find their ways.  He hopes to become a recreational therapist and help others struggling to heal.  Today he is at the Center for the Intrepid after a lengthy stay at the VA Polytrauma.  He is prepared.  He is equipped.  He is amazing.  I have only met a handful of warriors who have not been.  Truly and utterly amazing.

If only others would take heed what a beautiful world it would be.  I am struck with the venom and stones some throw at others that only tell us who they are, who they aren't. Sad people who lack compassion, empathy, and true caring for anyone but themselves.

Then, as if the sun glasses are removed, the sun shines through once again, as two warriors both struggling to survive another day support me in ways they will never comprehend.

The end of of the day a female warrior, having a severe mental breakdown,  from military sexual trauma is back at the VA.  I count my blessings and begin another day.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Following are letters from warrior's children in support of their dads acquiring a service dog from Train a Dog~Save a Warrior.

" My dad has been to war twice and sometimes when he's at home he worries a lot and gets flashbacks.  Which causes my mom to worry about him.  Like, for example, you can't come up behind his back, without him knowing or else he'll get scared.  I think he needs a special dog to comfort him when he worries and gets flashbacks.  I think it would really help the family.  We would be thankful and grateful if our dog got trained to help my dad.  We really appreciate your kindness."

Dear Mom,
I think a dog will make you happy.  You could play outside with the dog.  A dog would make you smile.

And another:
I want my dad to be as happy as he was before he deployed.

And finally:
I want my dad to be relaxed in public places like he use to be.

PTSD and TBI aren't just a warrior's problem. It is a family affair!  Mothers, fathers, wives, kids, aunts, uncles, and the list goes on, to include the community in which the warrior lives.  PTSD/TBI impacts them all. 

It is impossible for our warriors to live in a bubble. No more so than it is for us to isolate ourselves from their problems. 

As one of my favorite authors wrote, "Put it as plainly as it can be put, we need to suffer some of the cussed wrongness of life in order to find its deep rightness.  We have to feel pain we do not want to feel, carry burdens we do not want to carry, put up with misery we do not want to put up with, cry tears we do not want to shed.  If we feel no hurt now, we will, when all is done, be the most miserable of all people."

Seems a bit wrong when you first read it, but from personal experience, I have found this to be absolutely true.  I have known people who have had what we would call, the perfect existence, but in the end they are miserible.  Because they have never experienced "the cussed wrongness of life", they are quite unable to feel compassion, passion, true joy, if they have never been hurt.

I, for one have, had a lifetime of hurt and perhaps, just perhaps, that is why I feel so deeply for other human beings, feel compassion to the core and want, above all things, to help stop their suffering for I know what it feels like. And for me, no one was there to stop it...only to add to it. 

I am no different than most.  I want peace in my life, love in my life. I want to alleviate the pain in others.  I want to be of help where there is none. And on a personal note, more than anything, at this time of year I want to experience that first inhalation of crisp mountain air resplendent with wild flowers, berries, ushering in the beginning of spring time and wildflowers in the Rockies.  I want to strole the streets of Santa Fe and inhale the addictive fragrance of burning pinon, and roasting green chiles, and search the emormous array of handmade silver and turquoise jewelry and fetishes sold by Native Americans to add to my collection, as I like to call it 'my collection of courage.'

There are burdens I don't want to carry.  There are issues in my life I have no control over.  And I shed tears at a moments notice for the wrong done from those I thought were my friends. But when all is said and done, I am stronger and better and wiser, and yes, a bit more battered, and in the long run I still find that place inside of me where I know the truth and as it is said, 'the truth shall set you free.'

So today remember the families of our warriors who are carrying burdens that are far too heavy.  And let us hope and pray that they can find that place, however small, where they too can have a dream and that perhaps one day that dream will come true.

We must all keep our hearts, minds, and souls open to wonder.  And we must realize that the hearts of ordinary people are not always ready to accept this.  Today let us not be ordinary.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


The Peace of Wild Things
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Wendell Berry

A friend, Terry Hershey, posted this on his blog and ended it with "Doing my best to find rainbows in raindrops." I understand.  I get it. I am sitting smack dab in the middle of doing my best to find rainbows.
For decades I have followed Ralph Waldo Emerson when he wrote, "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."  That I feel I have done.  Now it is time to move on, on to a new objective, onto something else that needs my energy and my enthusiasm, my talent, and my passion. 

But for now I pause.  I now take time for me.  Not only are the birds busily building their nests and singing in the garden, waiting patiently, and some not so patiently, for the dogs to scurry back into the house so they may flutter in their bird bath in peace.  They dip and dive and shake and then leave refreshed and go on about their spring business. 

I wait for the wood ducks to reappear, as they do each spring around Easter.  I always rejoice in their return, as they announce their arrival from my neighbors rooftop. I wonder where they are, if they will find their way back.  Then remember that traveling the road to success, it is often quite fun to get lost along the way. 
And then the page turns, and I leave the moments of pause to read letters from warriors on the brink of suicide.  I feel their enormous pain and pleas for help and screams for release from the hell of PTSD.  I don't have the answers, but I can listen.  Most of them find some relief as they write down their pain in emails or on paper, for it is safe and they feel there will be no judgement. I know that inside each of them is something splendid just waiting to be uncovered.  I try to tell them that there is also something inside of them that is superior to circumstance.  Some hear me, some want to, but most have just experienced the blessed gift of someone who listened and actually heard.  That alone is my gift to them.  How many people actually take the time to hear, to listen, and to actually care.  This is my gift to the world.  This is the gift that I have to offer. I wish I could give them the solace that comes from reading the Wendell Berry poem above and lead them by the hand to where they can lie down with the wood drake, rest and be free. 

Happy Easter everyone! 

"Obstacles cannot crush me. 
Every obstacle yields to stern resolve. 
He who is fixed to a star does not change his mind."
~Leonardo Da Vinci