Thursday, May 30, 2013


"What makes us human is not our mind but our heart.  Not our ability to think, but our ability to love." ~ Henri Nouwen
To this I want to add 'Our ability to laugh."
Our lives are so full, mostly of ourselves, there is little room for anything else! 
We forget the value of laughter, of love, of touch, of relationships, friendships, and necessities that often go overlooked.
I am a great observer of people.  Not just sitting in airports watching the crowds, but I love to watch what astounds and delights people everywhere.  This tells me everything I need to know about human nature. 
It might be educational and interesting to select one day and wherever you go watch people, observe closely.  How many do you see that are truly happy?  How many are astonished and delighted and light up a room?  How many hide behind their cell phone, rudely ignoring you and all around them as if you did not exist and the phone call is more important than are you?  What do their facial expressions tell  you about them? How many people smile at complete strangers or engage a checker at the super store in a conversation, or compliment a stranger on their clothes or their hair? How many are truly involved in their surroundings and all it might entail? How many are truly, viscerally alive?
To me there is a distinct absence of people actually reaching out and finding much of anything beyond themselves.  This is especially true when it seems you need them the most.  The worst insult you can hurl at people to is forget or ignore their pain .
When we are melted down to our core and are completely exposed, our thoughts and feelings are vulnerable.  And it is quite simply painful. To have that ignored takes away our spirit, our self worth, our dignity, and saps the life out of us. It quite simply makes a sad situation worse, sadder. 
Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we're here we should dance! We should grasp all the joy we can and break the rules, laugh uncontrollably and never forget anything that made us smile. 
Ever tell a friend, spouse or child...."No not today, we'll do it tomorrow." Do you see their sorrow?When you hurry and worry through your day, it is like an unopened gift.  Thrown away.  Life is not a race.  Take it slower. Hear the music before the song is over.
Do something you WANT TO DO, not something YOU SHOULD DO.
When you ask "How are you?" Do you hear the reply? Do you care?
The soul needs laughter and the soul needs nourishment.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Today a deviation from the norm...thought this might intrigue you as much as it did me.  For all you horse lovers ~ THIMBLEGRAY~

Today I joined and now I'll stay.
I'm going to dance the night away.
I'll be myself and never fear
That they will find my hideaway.

I built myself house today
From pine wood, paint, and papier mache.
I drew a crane above my bed.
The perfect little hideaway.

I met a horse on the road today.
I stopped and asked if he would stay
Up at my house and watch the stars
That grace the sky far, far away.

The horse's name was Thimblegray.
He took me up far, far away
To touch the stars that fall to earth
And come to chase bad dreams away.

The bad dreams found my hideaway
I told them all to go away
I cried and pleaded till I choked.
And good dreams faded into grey .

That night I fought and ran away.
I ran find my Thimblegray.
Beside an old dry river bed
I found him eating scarlet hay.

I told him of my hideaway
And how I'd finally run away
He told me to go back to sleep
"These things," he said, "are for the day."

I wept when I saw the hideaway.
I held on tight to Thimblegray.
He let me cry into his mane
Because he had no words to say.

Then, to the sky flew Thimblegray.
He took me up far, far away
To touch the stars that fall to earth
And come to chase bad dreams away.

I fell asleep on Thimblegray.
The devious dreams were sent away.
They fell to earth and turned to rain
In drops of blue and silver ray

Today I joined and now I'll stay.
I'm going to dance the night away.
I'll be myself and never fear
That they will find my hideaway.
~~Author Unknown

Thursday, May 23, 2013


 "Don't spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door." 
~ Coco Chanel

This I get.  I also get Zig Ziglar's words: "When obstacles arise you change your direction to reach your goal.  You do not change your decision to get there!"
So I ask how many doors are there?  How many times do we knock on a door or doors only to realize it was the wrong door? Are we wasting our time or are we right where we are supposed to be? How do we arrive at the answer to these questions?  Will it slap us in the face?  Will there be an epiphany? Do our intentions create our reality? Or do we sit and wait for a surprise?
Okay, let's consider this.  A surprise can be a grace!  But then I have heard that if you walk through this world by faith, you are rarely surprised.  I get this too.  Sometimes Epiphanies happen when you least expect them, but when you need them the most.  Sometimes people pop in and out of our lives and we somehow just know they will never let us down.  We know they will always be there.  They will be there through thick and thin and good and bad. They will love us no matter what. 
"We find rest in those we love, and we provide a resting place for those who love us."
~ Saint Bernard of Clairvaux
So perhaps we are trying too hard.  Perhaps it is in the letting go that life happens ~ happens the way it is supposed to. But that letting go part is not the easiest thing in the world is it?  So maybe we need to take heed of the butterfly.
"Happiness is a butterfly which when pursued is just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you."  ~Nathaniel Hawthorne

This week I have learned a great deal. I have learned to say what I want to say and not choke on the words.  What am I saving it for?  I have learned to be myself because no one else is qualified for the job.  And I have learned from an Irish Proverb, "It is in the shelter of each other, that people live."  A good friend is a shelter. And most of all I have learned that Mary Oliver's words in her poem DREAM WORK are right on target ~ "The world goes on despite our despair. The world offers itself to your imagination."
Perhaps happiness isn't a thing, it just might be a place.  A place where you are surrounded by people who love you, respect you, who listen to you, who don't judge you, who care for you unconditionally and create a deep, deep bond with you.  It takes time to create a safe place. But perhaps this is where happiness lives and where pain opens your heart to the world.
Pain awakens our compassion.  Pain is an opportunity to discover who we really are...a journey we would never be able to take on our own.
For now I remain in search of this thing called happiness, drowning out the pain of the past, looking and yearning for a place to quiet the internal noise and to feed my soul.
"All animals except man know that the principle business of life is to enjoy it."
~Samuel Butler

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


A friend sent this to me and in the subject line wrote, "Read this very is pretty profound.  I do not know the source. And I edited a bit.

"Too many people put off something that brings them joy just because they haven't thought about it, don't have it on their schedule, didn't know it was coming or are too rigid to depart from their routine.
I got to thinking one day about all those women on the Titanic who passed up dessert at dinner that fateful night in an effort to cut back.  From then on, I've tried to be a little more flexible. 
How many women out there will eat at home because their husband didn't suggest going out to dinner until after something had been thawed?  Does the word "refrigeration" mean nothing to you?

How often have your kids stopped in to talk and sat in silence while you watched television or talked on the phone?
I cannot count the times I called my sister and said, "How about going to lunch in half hour?" She would gas up and stammer, "I can't, I have clothes that have to dry, my hair is dirty.  I wish I had known yesterday.  I had a late breakfast and it looks like rain.  She died a few years ago.  W never did have lunch together.
Because Americans cram so much into their lives, we tend to schedule our headaches. We live on a sparse diet of promises we make to ourselves when all the conditions are perfect.
Life has a way of accelerating as we get older.  The days get shorter and the list of promises to ourselves gets longer.  One morning, we awaken, and all we have to show for our lives is a litany of "I'm going to," I plan on," and "Someday, when things are settled down a bit."
When one of my friends calls she is always off to somewhere exotic.  Her enthusiasm for life is contagious. I am envious. 
So go on and have a nice day.  Do something you WANT to...not something on your SHOULD DO list. 
If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call an what would you say?  And why are your waiting?
Have you ever watched kids playing on a merry go round or listened to the raining lapping on he ground?  Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight or gazed at the sun into the fading night?  Do you run through each day on the fly.  When you ask "how are you?" do you hear the answer. And in your haste do you see the sorrow of a friend? Or do you simply say, "Sorry about that," and move on to another topic. 
When you worry and hurry through your day, it is an unopened gift...thrown away.  Life is not a race.  Take it slowly.  Hear the music before the song is over.  If you love some one...tell them."


He is fast asleep with his head on my foot, as I sit at my computer.  He waits patiently and senses any movement I might make.  I can feel his breath and the warmth it brings.  With it comes peace, perfections and comfort. It is all that is needed to make me aware of this moment, this one moment.  I feel drowsy and want to go snuggle him or take a walk.

The medical bills he has accrued and the hours he as absorbed out of my life are monumental.  But the face is one I can't resist.  The crazy spirit, the unbelievable intelligence, and eager attitude awakens something missing inside of me.  I take life seriously, perhaps too seriously.  But then what I do demands nothing less of me.  So when my rescue dog Remy came into my home, he brought baggage, but also he brought joy. Perhaps that is why I am intrigued by this breed (PBGV) and their kookie spirit and joie d vie!  

Remy is a Petite Basset Griffon Vendeen or PBGV. A 45 pound French hound dog, bred to hunt rabbits in the Vendeen region of France. He also hunts squirrels, as they taunt and terrorize each other in the back yard.  He hunts anything and everything that might be edible, from sponges to my router box.  He is a dog that demands I keep one step ahead of him.  He learned rapidly how to open the pantry doors and pull out a 50 pound tub of dog food, loosen the latches and enjoy, and run out the garage into 4 lanes of traffic...frightening me to death...only to turn around come back to me!  He has a voice that would scare off any bad guys and perhaps even some good guys from my house.  Remy has a personality unequaled. 
He was born and bred in Texas.  Bought for a pretty penny by a family in Illinois who had him for four years.  They perhaps did not find him as endearing as I, because they called the breeder and wanted to return him after four years.  Why goodness knows but suffice it to say 'dogs are a commitment and deserve to be treated as such.' It seems he was locked in a crate for four years and let out only when it suited the owners. 

Perhaps he needed me as much as I needed him.  I too often feel locked in a crate unable to escape. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013


There are lessons to be learned in almost everything we do.  Some more poignant than others.  and then there are some that drip with emotion and meaning and beg to be written about, to bring back the memories and to share them. This was such a day. Jeremy took 16 bullets to save the life of his friend in Afghanistan. He had been hospitalized... for eight months at the VA Polytrauma. He never once complained or cried out in pain.  Not once.
He has endured more pain than can be imagined, with grace and courage, never knowing if he would have to lose a limb(s) or not. Today he was released.  His Army escort was there but no fanfare, no flags, no family, no nothing. He hugged and thanked the staff and then he took Kelsie's leash, and we escorted him out of the unit.  When we got off the elevator, he handed me the leash, hugged me and told me he loved us both and was so glad we had been there for him. Nothing would have kept us away on this momentous occasion.  Jeremy we love you, now and always. You are our hero. You have taught me about bravery, about endurance, and about smiling through the pain.  Because there is another side once you get through the tunnel. 
Remembering this young man, a quote by Marie Beynon Ray comes to mind. "Begin doing what you want to do now.  We only have this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand ~ and melting like a snowflake." Jeremy plans on volunteering his time to help troubled youth, volunteer in his church and continue with his education. 
 Jeremy's level of courage, that defies definition or description, is extraordinary.  But to Jeremy the answer is simple, yet demanding, as he begins his journey leading a worthy life of purpose, the best way he can.  No one of us can do more.  None of us should wish to do less. 
His story should capture the heart of Americans, for his story is unique and yet not so unique. As I returned to the unit, I glanced into his room to see staff disinfecting, cleaning, and making the room ready for the next warrior.  I swallowed the lump in my throat and moved on to the next room and the next wounded warrior.

Saturday, May 18, 2013


May Sarton wrote, " Most people have to talk so they won't hear."
When do you talk?  Do you talk to be heard, to be important, to be in control, or do you talk so you won't have to hear?
Interesting points to ponder!!  I am finding more and more that just being present and listening you learn much more about those near and dear to you than you would ever imagined.  Stop talking over, stop talking to, stop talking about, just stop talking.....and listen!
I believe that some people, many people, talk because they have never been heard.  They have always been talked to.  They have had to endure endless steams of words and more words, signifying nothing.  Words that take up space and time and are meaningless.  Words that are exhausting in both length and content.  Words that float around us like mosquitoes.  Words we want to swat out of the way.
I write. That's what I do.  I love it.  I write not so much to have anyone read it, but to provide myself with an outlet where I can be heard.  An outlet where my words have meaning and an outlet where I have meaning.  I become 'real' when I write. 
Sometimes things get so muddled and blocked in our heads that we are seemingly stuck in quicksand.  We can't pull ourselves out no matter how hard we try.  When I feel like this I sit quietly and write.  I write and then write some more.  There are times then when I go back months later and read my words and hardly remember writing them. I think to myself, "Who wrote this?"  I have no memory of stringing these words together like beads on a thread. It is therapy.  It is movement forward, not backward.  It is a wide open space where I find out, and more importantly remember, who I am.

There is no need in interactions with people to fill all the empty spaces with words.  Sometimes not filling these spaces provides more help than anything.  We don't have to talk constantly.  Sure we all have to vent, get the feelings out, rant and rave but do people really want to have to listen all the time.  It disturbs their peace of mind, takes their time away from something they would rather be doing,  and if truth were known half the time we are thinking of something else and only half way listening.  

This is a lesson learned from the beautiful therapy dogs who have shared their lives with me and so many others...Casey, Penny, Gracie and now Kelsie.  They can listen.  They can tell by your tone of voice what you are telling them. They can tell by your face, the inflections, the emotion.  They comprehend and understand, and they never say a word.  Countless patients we visit, struggling to overcome insurmountable illnesses, need to talk to be heard.  Time may be short and no one is listening.  People feel obliged to talk and then talk some more, losing the opportunity to let that person become 'real'.  This doesn't help.  This hinders.  For it is only in our listening that we learn, that we find out the truth, the pain, the love, the loneliness, the fear, the emptiness of those we share our time with.

Remember being a little child, swimming for the first time.  "Mommy look, Mommy look, I am swimming." Did you nod approval and turn away and continue a conversation with someone else?  Or did you listen with pride and enthusiasm at what you were being told?  Were you present? Did you tell your child that he/she was important and that they were 'real'. 



From a friend in Montana, Janet Austin, come these wise words: "Take chances, lots of them. Because honestly, no matter where you end up it always ends up just the way it was suppose to be. Your mistakes make you who you are and you learn and grow with each choice you make. Everything is worth it, say how you feel, be yourself and most importantly be okay with it!"

And as another friend told me recently, "Just be! It is okay, just be." So with his wise words, I offer to you the following in my attempt to be myself and more importantly to be okay with it. I trust you will understand.
Honesty time: I am sitting in my office surrounded by two of my four dogs. They are on their sides, lying in perfect peace. I can hear their breath go in and out and it provides me great comfort. For it is in the intake and the release...of breath that there is a space...a space where I find a very special kind of love and sensitivity and comfort. My dog, Kelsie is now with me almost every where I go, for you see I too have been diagnosed with PTSD.  I did not welcome this nor want it.  But a lifetime of great pain has finally caught up with me. Unrelenting stress, abandonment, and now extreme exhaustion has consumed my life for several months. 
I try to look at this as a blessing and a gift that has been bestowed upon me so that I may better understand what the warriors that Kelsie and I work with endure. It is hell, it is not something you can understand unless it has happened to you. But move forward we will, and we will continue to fight the demons, the nightmares, the flashbacks and the horrible panic.
Perhaps I will become a better writer.  Perhaps that book that is still in me is taking shape and will become real.  So I am trying to be grateful for this all too frequent hell. I have been hurt, repeatedly. I have been battered. I have been deeply injured by people who I thought were my friends and family. I like to say "I have been bended, folded, stapled and mutilated." The details are not important  to anyone but me.  But suffice it to say what I have endured consistently and continually over my lifetime has not been deserved nor invited. But it is what it is.  It is not the life I wanted, imagined or deserved!  I deserved much better.
But I tell you with pride because I will handle this.  It will make me a better person.  I can't take away what has occurred in my life, but I can learn to handle the repercussions differently...and better.  I can be grateful for those who love me, stick by me, and know the real me ... warts and all.  For them I say a heartfelt thank you.  For them I am forever grateful.  For it is these people who have always, and will always, be there for me that I learn the magic in the word 'love'.  Just a phone call daily or a quick instant message to let me know they are thinking of me, means the world to me.
Most of you know that I had a foundation, Penny's from Heaven Foundation, Inc. Penny is now wearing beautiful angel wings in Heaven.  For her, her beauty, her suffering, her love, her sensitivity and intuitive nature I am forever grateful and truly blessed.  For she offered to me, as have all of my dogs, those qualities which people would do well to imitate.  We do not live to hurt other people whether within our families or in the hell of combat in a war zone.  We live to experience all the joy and love of humanity that we can.  We live to be good, giving, understanding, and decent people.  We live to be the kind of person our dogs think we are. 
I have two beautiful wooden boxes on my desk both containing pennies found on the ground.  Many found in the most unusual places and under the most amazing and breathtaking circumstances.  But found always with a reminder of my Penny in Heaven and the goodness she shared and spread, and always telling me she is there and to be strong.. And most of all to remind me that no matter the circumstances, I shall remain who I am, remain true to myself, and to know without a doubt that I am, underneath the pain and panic, a really good person.
Kelsie will remain by my side for as long as possible.  When I can't take it anymore I sob into her fur and feel her absorb my pain.  Even when she is sleeping there is always awareness of where I am and her making certain I am okay.  When she sighs in the dark of night I know she is there, and I can toss out the bad thoughts and nightmares.  With her by my side and with my 'forever friends' I am truly blessed.  For those who have chosen to abandon me and my life, I wish them well.  I fervently hope someday they will grow to understand what real love is, what it is like to feel that love, when you need it the most and are afraid to take another step.  For when it is absent from those you felt were there for quite simple is unbearably painful.
So in closing today I ask you to visit KELSIE WISDOM OF A DOG on facebook and perhaps understand what a truly amazing gift I have been given.  Thank you all for following this blog.  More to come!  And thank you for allowing me to unabashedly share.  I am not embarrassed, not shy about telling you...because don't we all have something...some monster in the closet...that needs to be released.  Perhaps in releasing this one....things will begin to improve just a bit. As the quote at the beginning says, "I am just where I am supposed to be." 

Thursday, May 16, 2013


She was soft and smelled like candied orange slices and then other times like coffee and sweet cream.  She would snuggle me in bed, holding me with a kind of love I never knew before nor after, and she taught me how to relax.  Whispering quietly, she would say, "Beginning with your toes, relax them.  Then relax your feet. Then your knees."  By the time she reached my tummy, I would be fast asleep, all curled up in her loving arms. It was here that nothing would ever hurt me, and I was safe.

She had a claw footed bathtub that she would fill with rose scented bubble bath and I would soak until I was all wrinkly and pink.  She would dry me off with towels that had hung on a clothesline and smelled of sunshine and warm grass and  then usher me to her feather bed.  There was a little soft light on my side table that glowed, highlighting the features of her tiny little bedroom. She always left it on all night so that I wouldn't be afraid.

Now looking back on it, it was at that time in my life when I felt for the first time what it was like to be loved and truly cherished.  My grandmother was the first woman pharmacist in Oklahoma City.  She had her own drug store and soda fountain. And she had a 'sap', with which she would swat the hands of shoplifters.  I still have the 'sap' and cherish it as I did and do her.

My fondest memories were of her sitting at her dining room table with her Smith Corona typewriter busy doing something 'grownup'.  Next to her typewriter was a crystal candy dish with the candied orange slices and a cup of coffee.  Occasionally she would pour me a dainty Dresden cup of warm milk and a little coffee and sugar.  And we would sit and talk, and she would tell me how much she loved me. I felt special and cared for and I felt like nothing would ever hurt me or change from the feeling I was feeling then.

There were special times I would visit her and she and I would sit on the floor in front of a cedar chest.  She would open it almost religiously and the fragrance of cedar would permeate the room.  Inside were packets of crinkled blue tissue paper that contained haunting memories for me that have remained to this day. 

She would take them out one at a time and gently remove the paper without damaging it. Inside each were treasures that belonged to another place and time and people.  Cherokee Indian hand beaded bags, sashes, tobacco pouches, blankets, and moccasins.  They mesmerized me.  She told me stories of how the Indians came into her drugstore and ask to trade these 'treasures' for tobacco.  She obliged and today my love of 'all things Indian' persists.  And my love of my grandmother lingers deep in the inner recesses of my being. 

I thank her for those moments that came and passed all too quickly.  I thank her for letting me know once upon a time what it was like to feel loved and to feel safe.

She passed when I was still quite young.  And I missed her terribly.  I still do. But I find myself thinking of her often, as my home is blessed with the Indian treasures she left me in the old cedar chest.  I have had them mounted and framed.  They are well over a hundred years old I feel quite certain. 

They warm my home and my heart.  And I could swear there are times when I can smell that sweet fragrance of candied orange slices and coffee, as I pass these pieces  of Cherokee history and of mine.

I often find myself trying to remember what it was like to feel loved and safe.  And then I remember my grandma, the love she lavished on me and the memories that will last a lifetime...memories that are like medicine to me that I pull out and unwrap much like the Indian treasures we opened and gently removed from the blue tissue paper. It is these memories I shall cherish and rely upon whenever I am feeling wobbly and unsure of life! She taught me to relax and to feel safe and warm and loved with her very special medicine. My grandma the Medicine Woman.