Tuesday, January 28, 2014


~ Georgia O'Keefe



Saturday, January 25, 2014


Do you find, as do I, that every day is a tug of war?  Wanting to do one thing and needing to do another? Torn between who we are and who we want to be? And the list goes on.
I captured this photograph in Sedona, AZ a few months ago.  It intrigued me.  In the midst of such exquisite beauty here was this amazing work of art ~of just that  ~ TUG OF WAR!
Which side wins is the question and focus, but in this case nobody loses because it is fun.  However in reality, Tug of War is not always fun. 
Is it a question of doing the right and necessary thing, or taking a moment for what you really want to do~ not what you need to  accomplish or check off of your to do list!
I get tired of being the perfectionist and running into walls that prohibit my continuing what I know is the right thing to do.  As my grandma used to say, "I feel it in my bones."  You just know. I just know what is the right thing to do.  But walls, people, circumstances, get in my way and stop me. And I have felt stifled, shut off, ignored, and of no use.
So assuming we have all experienced this at one time or another what is the answer?  What do we do?  Do we continue to beat our heads into a brick wall and end up with nothing but aspirations unmet and dreams unreachable? Or do we reach for that brass ring? Alfred Lord Tennyson said, "Self-reverence, self-knowledge, self control ~ these three alone lead to success."
I personally, over the past year, have been wrestling with a trauma I have carried unknowingly since early childhood. It hasn't been pretty, nor has it been a fun journey.  It has been grueling.  But in the process I have achieved finding a place of peace and refuge.  A place where sometimes you just have to give up and give in that which you have wanted and that which you are not allowed to achieve for one reason or another.  I have also discovered that blaming others in a pointless way to live.  Playing tug of war with them is not productive, nor is it even remotely fun. 
Friends are vital and life blood to me, for it is they who love and support me through the good times and bad.  Then there are those who all too often find it necessary to point out your areas of weakness through rejection, criticism and a lack of support. You find yourself in a place where you know you are being manipulated and there is but one thing to do ~let go of the rope.  I have learned to accept this and consider them as teachers!! They are rejecting the true me and to recognize and realize this turns the table. I realize too that my stress has been self-inflicted.
So the answer is quite simple, yet it is not. When we find ourselves in this tug of war the best thing to do is unlock the old patterns of taking it personally and let go of that recording.  And in so doing we find calm and a renewed and exceptionally valuable sense of freedom.  It is like taking that first breath at birth, crying and then begin living in a new way.
I have taken a 'time out'.  And find without a doubt that this takes a great deal of hard work. But in the end to have missed this aspect of life would have been that which would have made my life meaningless.

I now know exactly who I am...foibles and all. 
I love fine art. I love mountains and Native American culture.  I love reading and learning from what I am reading. I love seeing the look of knowing in the eyes of someone whose hand I have held through a rough spot.  I love being surrounded by my 'pack' of dogs, for they center me and bring me to a point of knowledge I otherwise would never have achieved. I love hazelnut and vanilla coffee and a day  to do with as I wish and calendar with nothing on it.  I love my friends, who are my lifeline and call to check in on me and see if I am alright.  I love photography and capturing moments of fears and tears and bliss and that time when someone appears to have reached for the brass ring and made it!  I love a clean house and order in it.  I love one of a kind designer jewelry.  I love my office where I am surrounded by treasures and memories and artifacts that are vital to my survival and memories of who I am.  I love my grandma, Nanny, up in Heaven. And I love the gentle soft snoring of four dogs surrounding me, observing me, and loving me like no one else ever has or will. 
The list goes on and is not important to anyone but me.  But I write this so that perhaps you too will let go of the rope that pulls and releases and repeats and seemingly grabs hold of that which brings you joy and peace and a sense of order in your life. Let go of that rope, and see if it doesn't bring you renewed calm in the midst of chaos.
This has been a defining moment to me.  One for which I am eternally grateful.  Unloading our baggage from too many yesterdays filled with angst and pain is a great place to begin. Our perception of situations and unresolved issues in our lives make us seek and yearn for a different way of living the remainder of it. And for me ~ this is my mission!
I know this is a great deal to digest even for me on a frigid Saturday morning. But it is a starting place where you too might find why you are in a frequent or constant TUG OF WAR! There is no Tug of War as long as you let go of the rope!!!

Sunday, January 19, 2014


Without love there is nothing left to feel. 
Love of another person, love of country, love of family, of beauty and romance and food and wine and music and peaceful crisp days surrounded by the love and warmth and tenderness of our best furry friends. There quite simply is nothing better.
"Ah, Clarissa, let me tell you, all that pleases.  The pond where we swim.  Our apple orchard.  The thunderstorms. The barbecue.  The music playing. Talking in bed. Your grandmother's iced tea.  Deliberating on which walk to take in the morning and which at dusk.  Watching you lower your head to peel peaches and shuck corn...oh, nothing, really, is what pleases.  But what nothing.  Nations go to war for this kind of nothing and in the absence of such nothing, people shrivel up and die."
~ Philip Roth (Professor of Desire)
These words touch my soul...with truth and peace,  comfort and love. It is something I believe we all yearn for, long for, and continuously search for ~ whether we know it or not. Those who find it are blessed.  Those who don't are lost and lonely and struggling to find something and are not quite certain what it is.

It isn't about your resume, the number of accolades you receive each day, the job you have, or certainly not how many expensive possessions you own or the  car you might drive.  It is solely about whether or not you know love. And to me to know life is to love and visa versa. We all put off those things that should really matter in our lives...something is always in the way or more important. 
Marie Beynon Ray wrote, "Begin doing what you want to do now.  We only have this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand ~ melting like a snowflake."
Isn't it how we treat each other? Isn't it defined by respect, kindness, and consistency of love of others?
It is also imperative to find delight in the simple things ... the things that really matter.  We are much more than our labels and titles. We all need people to believe in us and to champion our life goals and be our cheerleaders and hold our hand when we hurt.

We all need people who believe in us, cherish us, snuggle up close when we are down, and dance with us when we are happy.

I am a writer and am reminded daily that I should be writing.  But things, life gets in the way.  There is always something more important pending and I never seem to get started on my 58th book.  I feel stuck.  Then I am reminded of a Booth cartoon showing a man sitting of front of his typewriter with a blank piece of paper.  There are dogs everywhere.  A woman, presumably his wife, is standing next to him, speaking.  The caption says, "Write about dogs!"  This hits home.  This is the answer. 

Dogs delight in the simple things.  We should be more observant of the way they spend their days. Rising, eating, romping, back for a nap and always worshipping us.  My four dogs surround me at the computer, observant, vigilant and  softly snoring always with one eye on me.  It is comforting....it is a message....it is important.

I love dogs. That comes as no surprise. I have had, and hopefully will have a fair amount of them.  I love other people's dogs.  And yes, I want to write about them about the love and the simplicity that embodies them.  But metaphorically speaking elephants fill my house, but dogs fill it in a real way. It has been said of me that I love dogs more than most people.  There are good reasons for that, perhaps with the most obvious being that dogs REALLY love you! To them you are wonderful every second of the day, and that love never hurts or wavers.  They are love at its purest, love without end.

My simple pledge is to care for them all the days of their lives and keep them healthy and nurture and love them, as they love me. Until the end and at the end, I will live up to that pledge because we really are God to our dogs and must never betray their trust. 

So delight in the simple things, remember those you love and treat them with tenderness, love and respect and be there for them no matter what. Just as our dogs are for us and visa versa.  Perhaps by so doing, others will become more fully aware and realize that in the absence of such things we really do 'shrivel up and die.' 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


I love to inhale her. I always have.

Gracie's fur is a comfort and fragrance I had when I was a toddler, carrying my 'blankie' around with me everywhere I went, until it was no more than 4 inches long. I buried my face into my 'blankie' and its fragrance brought me peace.

My little blind Petite Basset Griffon Vendeen, (PBGV) is gentle, kind, fun and funny.  She is also angelic.  This I truly believe.  For it is with her that I find peace and love and a kindness lacking in most people.  She quite simply stole my heart at 7 weeks of age.  She was to be euthanized because she had severe and irreparable vision. She couldn't be sold or bred! So not surprising the answer was to euthanize this little puppy the next morning.

No, quite simply 'no'...this was not acceptable. Would you dispose of your children in such a flippant manner, totally lacking any regard for life?

She has been mine ever since. And I have been hers.  She is now bordering on eleven years with me and that is not nearly long enough. The lessons she teaches me daily are nothing short of miraculous.

The most recent lesson learned was a couple of days before Christmas when a dear friend came to my house with her son, a special needs little boy, but more importantly a very special little boy! I met them in my garage on my way to walk little Gracie around the neighborhood for a few minutes.  In only one instant the child fell hopelessly in love with this little blind dog as I explained her condition to him.  It was a moment I shall never forget nor ever want to.
He sat down next to her and with all the love and gentleness possible, he stroked her head and back and spoke to her so quietly I could not hear the words. His tenderness and instant love was overwhelming.  She turned over onto her back and begged and cooed to have her little pink tummy scratched.  He obliged willingly.  I explained to him that Gracie could not see him, but it was obvious she loved him and saw him with her heart.  I thanked him for being so gentle with her and explained how Gracie made sick people feel much better when she visited them in hospitals.  He said, "She makes me feel better." 

He kept looking into her eyes and whispering to her words I will never know.  Then he turned to his mother and me and said "Gracie has snowflakes in her eyes.  Aren't they beautiful?"

It was all I could do to swallow the tears, as I said "Yes they are so beautiful."  I just stared into his mom's eyes and we understood.  We understood this thing called nonjudgmental love.  He could not have loved her more had she been perfect.  He loved her because she wasn't perfect, and he found a great beauty in her lack of perfection.  He found snowflakes ~ snowflakes in her eyes.

I remembered a quote by a little seven year old girl when asked what love was.  She quite simply said, "When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up an down and little stars come out of you."
What an image.  If only grown ups could be this innocent, compassionate and loving.

We could all learn a great lesson from children, if we would only stop and listen. Perhaps you too might find snowflakes in the most unusual places.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


Yesterday morning I awakened, wobbled out of bed at  5:00 am to let the dogs out in 18 degree South Texas weather, let them back in and then returned to curl up with my laptop to see what I could see.

What I saw was this photograph of a dog whose eyes captured and opened something inside of me that would not let go. She had only a few hours left to live and then she would be euthanized.  I tried to ignore it and kept on scrolling down and then something drew me back to the photograph on facebook. I would look at her and her eyes were pleading.  Pleading for help, for affection, for freedom, for life.

I shared the photo knowing quite well that most likely nobody wanted to see or look at the photo of a dog about to die, much less do anything about it.  Only one share came in and that was from Scotland!  I decided I had best stop looking at it and go take a shower.  In the shower, I burst into tears, for her eyes would not leave me ~ this dog with no name ~ with no home and destined to die in a few hours.

I dressed and the project began.  I would not let her die, if I had to drive 5 1/2 hours to Odessa, TX and get her myself before 2:00 pm.  A few texts, emails, and phone calls that took hours ended up with Holly from an organization that camps out at ODESSA ANIMAL CONTROL, an 85 % KILL SHELTER and tries to save dogs lives.  Then a call to a Train a Dog Save a Warrior trainer close to Abilene.  Decision made.  Gary, the trainer and war veteran, instructed Holly how to evaluate the dog for viability into the service dog world.  Reluctantly, the Animal Control officer unpadlocked the cage door where the dog awaited certain death and complied with the request.

They took her out and all of the evaluation tests were done.  She developed instant eye contact, soft eyes, loving eyes, pleading eyes.  A stainless steal dish was tossed onto a concrete floor to see her response and reaction.  Unfettered, she walked over to the dish, picked it up and returned it to Holly.
The rest of the test was as perfect.  She was snugly, kind, gentle, eager, focused, non aggressive and the myriad of other qualities looked for in a dog, whether a working therapy dog, service dog, or pet dog. 

I was then called and gave my permission for her 'freedom.'  Holly was to take her to a veterinarian to have her vaccinations and heartworm check and board her overnight, until Gary, the trainer, could make arrangements to pick her up and deliver her to Abilene and beyond to her warrior, a female with multiple health issues...that needed a large dog to help stabilize her with her debilitating physical problems and become her very best friend. 
When Holly put this dog with no name into her car she was a bit reluctant because she had multiple other rescues in the car and was not sure how this big girl would react.  But no fear, she jumped into the car in freezing temperatures, took a look at the other dogs, and then just laid down and went to sleep.  Freedom Ride about to begin!!!

I was called instantly by Holly who rescued her and told she was free and on her way to the vet's office to spend the night and be checked out.  Once again I burst into tears. 

Sometimes you just have to save something.  Sometimes you have to take that one step and go out on a limb and pray.  Pray you can do it...pray for the right help to come along...pray that just one life will be saved because you did something! Because you cared and didn't turn away!!

Choking back tears, I  told Holly on the phone that my only request was that I pay her vet and boarding bills and whatever was needed.  And additionally and most importantly to me, I required that she be named Penny, after my beloved angel Penny, my golden retriever who changed many lives, won many awards as a therapy dog, had a book written about her, a foundation (Penny's From Heaven Foundation) founded in her honor, and was Companion Animal of the Year in the state of Texas.  It was in her memory and her honor that this one rescue, out of thousands this day that would not be rescued, would be named Penny. And perhaps truth be told, two lives will be saved...Penny and the warrior who she will rescue!

Upon arrival at the vet's office, Penny jumped up on the counter to greet the staff and say hello. This dog that 15 minutes earlier would have been killed...for no reason other than nobody wanted her. 

I will not challenge you with the statistics of how many dogs die EVERY hour because nobody wants them...for numerous ridiculous reasons and are taken to animal control facilities nationwide to be killed.  It is by the heartbreaking work of hundreds of volunteers that a handful can be saved and rescued and loved dearly for the rest of their lives.

In honor of this dog, Penny, and all the dogs that will die today, I ask you to do what you can on a local level. And to sign this petition below.  It will only take a moment and will make a difference.

 Thanks for signing our petition, "City of Odessa Animal Control Shelter: Improve Conditions at the Shelter for the Welfare of the Animals in City Custody."

Can you help this petition win by asking your friends to sign too? It's easy to share with your friends on Facebook -
just click here to share the petition on Facebook.

There's also a sample email below that you can forward to your friends.

Thanks again -- together we're making change happen,

Concerned Citizens for Change at Odessa Animal Control (CCCOAC)


Note to forward to your friends:


I just signed the petition "City of Odessa Animal Control Shelter: Improve Conditions at the Shelter for the Welfare of the Animals in City Custody" on Change.org.

It's important. Will you sign it too? Here's the link:

God bless you Penny on your journey.  God bless you.