Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out!!! What meaning this statement has. What tremendous depth. Think back when you needed someone, truly needed someone, and who was there for you. It might just surprise you. 
Friendship isn't about who you have known the longest, it is solely about who came when you needed them the most and never left your side. We must take responsibility for others.  For failing to accept this responsibility for others when they need you the most, or are hurting the most, results in negative consequences.

For years I have written intensively and passionately about 'the gift of presence.' So the assumption is correct, that I unquestionably believe in it.  It matters not what you say, but simply that you are there. It is the only and best gift you can give ~ the only one we  truly have.  I have lived it.  I have been the gift of presence for so many over my lifetime and have heard "thank you for just being there for has meant the world. Thank you for listening, for holding my hand, for being my anchor" I always just assumed it was the least I could do as a being on this journey through life.  Now I realize it is the most I can do!  It truly does mean everything. Perhaps it is time we all evaluate whether or not we provide a gift of presence to those in need.

I have a friend whose wife is terminally ill and doesn't have much time left on this earth.  They have been married 28+ years and their journey has been one of love and devotion, with each being present for the other. She is in hospice at home.  His love for her has never been deeper. He is her sole caretaker and the toll on him and their children is showing.  He calls me so that I can listen.  I am an ear.  It is all I can do.  I am offering him my most precious gift! The gift of presence.  It is appreciated. He hand feeds her baby food, he bathes her, he listens to each breath she takes and cherishes it, he holds in his sorrow like a baby robin close to his chest. He loves this woman so much that he will not, cannot leave her side for a moment.  It was a vow, a promise they made to each other years ago. A vow he intends to keep. A gift never ending.

But being present and listening sometimes comes with self sacrifice and great pain,  and also an must be able to truly hear.  You must be able to feel.  You must be able to dig deep into that well inside of you and find the compassion that each human being must have for another who needs them more than they might possibly ever know themselves or express.  We can send flowers, and cards and emails, and messages, or ask what they might want, but to be present, to listen, to hear, to offer your heart in its entirety and the compassion so desperately necessary when someone is hurting, is the greatest gift of all.  To me it is why we are on this earth.

We are each souls on this earth with gifts to give.  What are the gifts you have to give to this world, to those your love, to those you might not even know or ever meet?   What you are intending is what you create.  The energy of that intention comes back to you.  But somewhere along the way life screws us up and our priorities get out of whack and then you are unable to fulfill your purpose on this earth and for those who need you the most. You stumble and might wonder what went wrong.  Then the answer might not be so complex.  JUST BE THERE.

So my decades of writing about and promoting 'the gift of presence' was referencing what our dogs provide to us.  Unconditional, nonjudgmental love as they snuggle close, never leaving our sides, only understanding in some mystical way what we feel and what is needed.  If only more people could be the same, provide the same, asking for nothing in return. 

You just might find that when you are whole, giving, loving, and tender you begin to see others differently.  It is a gift you give that quite simply says, 'you are hurting, you are in need, I am here.'  The response you will receive is organically, viscerally, and instinctively vital ~ "I feel safe with you". Admiration deepens, love deepens, and the surprise ending is grace given in a sea of ignorance and kindness in a world sadly lacking real compassion.

There are times when our greatest triumph is that we are holding on quite simply by putting one foot in front of the other and enduring. It is a whole lot easier to 'get by' , to hang in there and to keep looking forward with hope and expectancy if there is someone offering you that blessed gift of presence.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


So many times TADSAW (Train a Dog Save a Warrior) has been asked why they do what they do and do it with such unwavering enthusiasm. Well, I once heard a quote, "Weeping with one eye." In other words, how could TADSAW just half way care?
 Someone who ignores half of the pain of another, never entering into that pain fully...this is an unsuccessful person...a person who can never take the pain away from another....for they were not fully involved to begin with. Well, TADSAW like many other organizations is different.  They struggle, they subject themselves to abuse, exhaustion, and criticism, yet they persevere. They will never willingly let a warrior down. They will never weep with one eye!!!
This led me to further consider that most of us are all filled with so many distractions, and so much noise, that we can't even hear the whispers, much less the screams, of those who need us the most or even see or recognize their pain, much less care. Many say they are sorry and then close the door and leave. 
My life seems to drip with emotion.  Tears of sorrow, joy, grief, aggravation, exhaustion, love, sadness can sometimes hit all on the same day.  Why?  Perhaps because I care.  I care deeply for others.  I feel their pain, and all other emotions wrapped up with it.  How could I just care half way? But it seems to be rampant. Why?
To me the answer lies in most people not being strong enough to enter fully into another's pain and suffering.  They do it for a myriad of reasons.  None of which are helpful.  For without being fully engaged into another's pain there is no way to take away their suffering. And in reality, you only hurt them more by not being fully present.
Yes, sometimes I want to get away, crawl into a hole, or find a deserted island and start over.  But then I realize I must live to be the person I was created to be.  So each day I begin all over again.  And I weep and laugh and find a way to alleviate the suffering of others, whether through work with my therapy dogs or through writing.  I can only hope that in some small way, for whatever time, their pain has been lessened, perhaps because I wept with both eyes and gave away my heart.

Thursday, January 3, 2013


“I choose to write because it's perfect for me. It's an escape, a place I can go to hide. It's a friend, when I feel out casted from everyone else. It's a journal, when the only story I can tell is my own. It's a book, when I need to be som...
ewhere else. It's control, when I feel so out of control. It's healing, when everything seems pretty messed up...."
~ Alysha Speer
Today I need all of those things, escape, a place to hide, the need to be somewhere else. Don't we all once in a while?  But do we ever admit it?  Do we ever say I need healing?  I feel pretty messed up. I want to run away.
I became aware long ago that more often than not the only time I feel heard, listened to, or understood is when I talk to my dogs.  I am sure many of you feel, 'poor woman'.  That's okay.  You have the freedom to choose to read further or to feel however you wish.  Just as do I.
It is in talking to my dogs that I feel I can say the truth, say exactly what I am feeling.  I don't have to wander around muttering under my breath, fearing someone will hear me or escape to the bathroom or my office and hide behind words that I don't feel comfortable saying outloud. I quite simply tell them what is in my heart.  I tell them when someone has hurt me...someone I least expected to.  I tell them I am afraid and feel lost and cold and alone.  I tell them that life isn't what I had expected and try to convince myself by convicing them that we all have to live the life we have and yet still wonder do we really?
Yesterday a warrior with severe PTSD/TBI and Military Sexual Trauma shared with me that she has been abused, beaten, and almost killed by her husband and has lost her son, her mother and had to put her beloved dog to sleep, all within a period of months. Her husband emptied her bank accounts, stole her computers, and the list goes on. Okay, how do you live with that?  What could I say to her?  How in God's name could I help her?
Because of her brain injuries from multiple deployments, she has no remembrance of how to do anything for herself, from keeping a check book, to remembering where she is going when she gets in the car.  How am I to help?
She calls me mom.  She has a service dog and told me the only thing that has kept her alive is when she looks into her dog's eyes she wonders how he could get along without her. What would happen to him? How am I to help?
She has called the VA multiple times and an attorney. No return phone calls.  She has seizures and no one to take care of her should she have one.  How am I to help?
This morning I tell my dogs I want to hide. I don't know what to do.  But on the phone she told me it was okay because she understood me and she knows I am having a melt down because I too have PTSD.  She was worried about me!
So I talk to my dogs as I sipped my hot chocolate at 5:00 AM.  I look into their eyes and find peace and solace and a place of consistent healing, understanding, and reality.  A place where I cannot hide from the truth, from pain, from the horrible feeling of being alone on this earth.
So with my dogs clustered around me as I find my old friend, writing, I try to come alive again and awaken aware of the injustices and hell that so very very many of our warriors endure.  So this morning, I have no choice.  I will try and find a way to help her.  Afterall she calls me mom. And that is what mothers are for.  To be there no matter what.  To love no matter what. And to answer again the call of a warrior.
Please remember how very much is sacrified and how many warriors in need are abused, deceived and used brutely by those that say they will help them.  Please pray for help for them all.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Someone said we are given memory so we can smell roses in December.
I had expected it to be on the front page of the Sunday paper, condolence calls, and flowers at the front door.  But there were none, nor were her life’s accomplishments in the obituary section of the paper. 
No one’s life was better for having known her, but mine.
She was the epitome of beauty.  When she and I took long walks, cars would stop to just look at her.  Her eyelashes framed her large eyes, as she followed every move I ever made. 
She wasn’t social or exuberant and her favorite place on earth was inside the house.  It was the only place she ever really wanted to be.
Her first two years she spent confined to a cage, barely big enough for her to turn around in.  On weekends, she was left alone in the dark.  She hated closed in spaces and longed for freedom.  I took her into my heart and home to find that she would take great delight in blessing my home with large branches, huge dirty footprints, and a dead rat.  The sofa cushions would become toys and were often found in the back yard.  Her beautiful white fur would decorate the shrubbery like Halloween decor.
She spent her last winter, as I had hoped she would, chasing birds and sniffing the air with contagious enthusiasm and energy.
Lulu taught me patience, tolerance and that good things come sometimes in very large, noisy packages.  She hated cameras and being left alone.  Despite her 145 pounds she was unobtrusive and preferred to stay in the background.  She was terrified of thunder and hated the long hot days of summer. 
The lid of the toilet had to be open and the kitchen countertops needed to be scrutinized for possible leftovers. Many a sandwich disappeared, if I had to answer a phone call.
Lulu and I went through 4 vacuum cleaners.
She would have loved today.  Bright, cool, crisp and blue skies. 
I watched her being born and held her just minutes later on New Years Day.  I gave her her first bath.
Once I admitted her into my life, I’ll never forget her.  I sometimes sense her in the kitchen nudging the pantry door to remind me that suppertime is close.  I always felt safe with her around.  When in truth, it was more likely Lulu who felt safe with me around.
 I am glad she knew no harm would ever come to her -ever again. Several years ago she left me, but each day I remember her by her photograph in my office.  I tell her good morning and begin my day. I truly loved her.