Tuesday, November 27, 2012





Gracie and I decided to accompany Angela and Lottie to the hospital to sit in on a group therapy session with brain injured patients.  I had heard from the neuro psychologist how much Lottie, had helped the patients she was trying to reach.  I had to see for myself.


Lottie has a gentle spirit and a sensitive intuitive nature. But what I was about to witness would surprise even me.


Being just days before Christmas, the group was unusually small with only four attending. For a while patients were talking about dogs they had once had and about someday getting another dog, ‘when they get better.’ Gracie visited everyone and then figured Lottie ‘had it covered’ so she curled up in the corner of the room and fell asleep.


Soon a wounded soldier in rehab was asked by the therapist if he was sleeping any better at night.  He said, ‘No, the nightmares still come.” As he began telling of the horrors of war that returned to him each night, Lottie, off leash, went to him.  It started simply enough, with this special therapy dog placing her front paws on the sofa where both Manny and the therapist sat.  As he talked, his level of stress increased and his leg started slowly bouncing up and down in a nervous rhythmical way.  And as it did, Lottie, or “Loddy Doddy” as Manny calls her, crawled, or as I like to say, oozed, slowly onto Manny’s lap.  Soon, without fanfare or notice, Lottie was sitting in the middle his lap. It was as if she was showing him the way to warmth and safety.  Manny never missed a beat. He accepted and welcomed her with open arms and heart, as he continued talking about the frightening nightly interruptions.


Lottie, sitting upright, soon placed her head on his shoulder and snuggled into his neck.  The eyes of the therapist turned to me.  As we locked eyes, we both realized something quite incredible had happened.  Words were not spoken, nor were they even necessary.  Manny, wearing a red and white Santa hat with the pompom off to the side, buried his face into the fur of this big black lab, his leg quieted and he gently stroked Lottie.


Manny may have trouble with nightmares, but for that moment he was at peace. 


After all, isn’t that what Christmas is all about?

Sunday, November 11, 2012


The simple act of nourishment!
Nourishing the body with food and fuel to operate at it finest.  Nourishing those we love through meals and time spent at the family table.  Nourishing friends by being there for them when they need you the most.  Nourishing with great love those who are not receiving any.  Nourishing those who are lost and alone. Nourishing those who are not at peace in this world for lack of someone who understands them and holds their hand so as to not let them disappear from view. Nourishing our children with displine and love. Nourishing ourselves when we are depleted and empty.  Nourishing our wounded warriors who have sacrificed dearly for this country's freedom.
As I write this I wonder if it is as simple as it seems.  I wonder how many of us take the time to nourish anything.  Our plants wither for lack of nourishment, our hearts collapse because we are too self absorbed. Our souls cry out for help and we are not certain why.
Why is this?  What is so much more important in our lives than being their for others?  To me this is why we are on this earth.
Every morning I awaken to the ritual of hungry dogs ready to race outside.  But before my feet touch the ground I say a little prayer..."God help me make a difference today." My mantra.
Little has been learned in this world if we have not learned how to touch the heart of another and to be touched in return.  I am reminded this morning on Veteran's Day of a quote by Thomas Edison,  "Rules!  Hell, there are no rules here...we're trying to accomplish something."
Today consider putting light in places where people need it the most!!!

Friday, November 9, 2012


What is it about loving someone you don't know?  Someone you just met?  Someone who lost a limb or two or three for you?  What is it when they want to be hugged and just have someone touch them, and just hold them for a few minutes and tell them that they matter and that what they did for this country made a difference....and that you care and appreciate the sacrifices they made. What is it?

This has been the most emotion packed day I can remember in a very, very long time. In fact so much so that the route I normally take home was lost to me.  I just drove and drove and never had a clue where I was going...only thinking, remembering, digesting, and above all grateful for the opportunity to do what I do!

Far too long I have been doing, and doing and doing and spinning my wheels getting no where.  But now I am where I am supposed to be.

Therapy dogs help heal at VA hospital. If you don't believe it watch this video of two dogs whose mission it is to help our warriors heal!

Everyone has an animal story that brings them to tears.  But this day, and every day with Kelsie, I am brought to tears as she performs miracles with the severely injured warriors. It is here that you see the rough edges of life.  It is here that you witness great pain, great courage, and great suffering, and also great miracles.  Sometimes these warriors open their hearts so wide, I find I just slip inside without knowing my feet had left the earth. 
Words are meaningless in moments like these. There are moments that erase everything bad and open a door into a place of hope and healing.
As Kelsie and I work with the wounded warriors, I am reminded of Eleanor Roosevelt's quote as she spoke to her husband, "They will never see past your legs until you do." This is what Kelsie and I provide.  We see past their injuries into the real person. We allow them to be real.
I recall a warrior with no legs telling me, when I asked how he was doing, he said, "Every morning when I can get up and put my feet on the floor and stand up, anything after that is just gravy."  He waited for my response and then started laughing!  Life is what you make it.  Always has been.  Always will be.

"Perhaps strength doesn't reside in having never been broken, but in the courage required to grow strong in the broken places." Unknown
So today I follow the wisdom of Mahatma Gandhi,
"Be the change you wish to see in the world."

There is so much I want to tell you about my day, but the words are temporarily drowned by tears.  But soon.

So from Tears and Laughter and Gene Hill,
"He is loyalty itself.  He has taught me the meaning of devotion.  With him I know a secret comfort and a private peace.  He has brought me understanding where before I was ignorant.  His head on my knee can heal my human hurts."


Monday, November 5, 2012


I spent the weekend this way ~ fractured and partly cloudy.  Beautiful weather and blue skies and a November high in the high 70's.  So why was I feeling so low? Or was it depression?  Or was it a change in lifestyle?  Or was it all of the above?

After spending hours and hours each day working on a project for years I decided to 'call it quits'. Life changes. Time changes. But somethings stay the same.  Situations can change. But we try to make everything just as it always has been.  Predictable.  Well life isn't predictable no matter how hard we try.  And maybe it is in it not being predictable that it is just that ~ predictable.
We can't make things be the way we wish they were.  But what we can do it live the life we have, as though it matters. 
I look our 'my' wounded warriors at the VA Polytrauma and thank them for their service and sacrifices, often sacrifices of missing limbs, missing memories, missed youth and growing up way too soon and facing horrible pain every hour of the day.  But without exception they always say one of two things..."No thank you ma'am for what you do!"  Or simply, "No problem."
Then this makes me feel more depressed wondering why I am depressed when they struggle on valiantly from day to day.  To this I quite simply have no answer. 
A quote from a dear friend today in his blog, "You don't choose a life, you live one." Awakening to say the least.  But isn't it in how one chooses to live the one life we are given?  Isn't this the key?
Words from Terry Hershey, "Here's the deal!  Only those of us who choose to learn, to grow, to try, to continue on a journey, to risk and fall down, to get up and try again and to follow their passion willl live wholehearted." 
Okay I'll buy that!  And I guess the key is that the growing, the trying, the risking and falling down isn't always fun, or pleasant, or wanted.  What if you are just plain tired?
I believe it is then that you have to quiet your mind, quiet your days, move past those who have abandoned and hurt you for whatever reason, and find the moments that bring you joy and purpose and dispose of those that are impossible to adjust. Yes there is a great deal we want that we will never have.  Places we want to go and can't.  Days we want the sunshine in our hearts, just not the sky. And days when we want the fractured and partly cloudy skies to clear so that we can live this life, this one life, moment to moment in beauty and peace. 
Today I will try.