In a Matter of Minutes…

What separates us from the animals, what separates us from the chaos, is our ability to mourn people we’ve never met.”
― David Levithan, Love Is the Higher Law

Life waits for no one nor does death discriminate. In a matter of minutes, our lives can change forever.

My day began, like many, with “breaking news” from Las Vegas.  That is never ever a good thing sign to see when you turn on the morning news. I then saw thousands of people together, enjoying an open-air concert. I then realized too many of those innocent souls lost their lives. Once again, families and friends are left with the unimaginable job of trying to put the pieces of their lives together without those lost.

As I was struggling to find words to describe the emotions flaring in my heart, we received a phone call from a dear friend. She asked to speak to us both. As my heart raced, my first thought was she or her husband had a family member at that concert.

That was not what she called to share with us. What she told us was just as dire.

Another friend is seriously ill with a very poor prognosis. They are still in the middle of testing but the early diagnosis is scary.

I know I have a super powerful prayer group here in my circle of friends. Please add this family to your prayers. They are overwhelmed and feeling lost–a feeling shared by many right now.

May God bless us all.

I am…

B…simply being…

I thank you and love you all.

Peace

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ruby

This is our youngest furry family member, Ruby Jean.

Ruby is a Tibetan Terrier, a breed we saw for the first time six years ago when we watched the National Dog Show. We tuned in just in time to see a beautiful Tibetan Terrier presented as the best in show.

We fell head over heels in love.

We had lost our rescue dog, Gracie, a few months before and promised ourselves we would never ever have three dogs again. Then we saw and researched TTs–Tibetan Terriers.

The breed is a cousin to the Lhasa Apso. Like the Lhasa, they were bred and raised by the lamas in Tibet. They were called the “Holy Dogs of Tibet” prized for their loyalty and companionship as well as being the lamas good luck charms. Neither breed was ever sold by the lamas. They were gifted as a sign of respect or as a way to promote good fortune.

We searched and searched but could not find a TT breeder locally. Even though we knew the dangers, we began a long internet search. The red flags were waving but we thought we knew what we were doing. We had been so lucky with Duffy. Heck, we knew how to make a wise breeder choice.

We were wrong.

Long story short, Ruby arrived at DIA on December 4, 2011, somewhere around 6:00 p.m. As luck would have it, Denver was experiencing the first ice storm of the year and her flight was the first one to arrive at that terminal. The outside doors were frozen shut because of the very cold temperatures and the amount of freezing rain we had received. Finally, her carrier was brought into the room where we, like the expectant parents we were, paced and paced. As Michael signed the paperwork, I edged over to meet my new puppy.

This seven-month-old puppy left Florida on the 0600 flight. Taking into account the time it took to get her ready to travel, travel to the airport, and do the pre-flight paperwork, she had been in her carrier for over twelve hours. Slowly, I bent down to gaze into her face. In the dim light, I peered around the inside of her carrier. I strained to make it be more because all I could see was wet, crumpled newspapers and a slouched-over, wide-eyed puppy. She had no food. She had no water. She had no room to sit up or lay down.

I was very unhappy. We hurried to get her home.

Once home, we coaxed her out and discovered she was underweight. She had small bites over her chest, legs, and abdomen. Her ears had very little hair. At seven months of age, she had no idea how to go up and down stairs or how to go through a door.

Today, although still skittish and shy, she is happy and healthy. She loves to run in her backyard while watching all the new types of wildlife here in the Texas hill country. Her eyes are beautiful and expressive. Her facial expressions are more human than some people I know. She is my clown, my athlete, and my healer. Whenever I am sad or not feeling well, she will be at my side until I am feeling stronger and better.

On that icy December night, as I looked into her sad eyes, I felt I had another rescue dog on my hands. I certainly had that wrong. What I did not understand was she was about to rescue me.

I am…

B…simply being…

I love Y’all.

Peace

 

 

Prince, Otherwise Known As, Duffy

When you read about the Lhasa Apso breed, you find that some people say there is the spirit of a Dalai Lama in a Lhasa. When you meet Duffy, you will tend to believe that statement.

Michael found Duffy at a time when our oldest Lhasa, Pearl, was pretty sick. She was 14 years old and failing. Honestly, I feel Pearl hung with us and tolerated our intensive care because she did not want to leave Bud with Gracie. Gracie was our rescue dog. Like most rescue animals, she was also older and had her own health issues. As time slide by us, it became obvious Gracie was not going to be a long-term companion for Bud.

Michael found Duffy in an internet ad placed from Utah. What caught his attention was the fact that Duffy and his brother, Andy, were ready to come to us immediately. They were seven months old and had been staying with the breeder waiting for their original owner to recover from breast cancer. Unexpected complications of that surgery forced the owner to make the difficult decision to give them up, opening up the opportunity for us to have an older puppy.

Our main focus was making this change in a way that was easy for both older dogs. After extensive conversations with the breeder, we found a way to get Duffy to our home in Denver.

Duffy arrived at DIA by way of Delta Airlines in his own very roomy dog carrier. Inside the carrier was a new little dog bed, a book of instructions on how to care for him, food, water, and his toys.

Our house became his home immediately. Pearl gave him a sniff and a glance of acknowledgment. Gracie ignored him. Bud taught him how to use the dog door and let him know who was the boss.

Duffy arrived on Tuesday. That Friday, our Vet, Dr. Munger, called to tell me Pearl’s latest bloodwork showed she had severe diabetes.

It was time.

Pearl was ready. As I looked around me, I realized she had retreated into her own space, opening up her corner of this world. She was easing away from all of us while getting her world in order. She was moving on.

I lost another part of my heart that day. I cry as I remember and tell her story. I am grateful we had such great care from our vet and his staff. Pearl was a fighter. She died peacefully in the place where she had fought so many battles. She was finally free of the pain. She will always be one of my biggest and strongest heroes.

From the day he arrived, Duffy has been both the instigator and the peacemaker. He has grown and expanded his own spot in my heart. Oh, don’t be mistaken, he could never ever fill anyone else’s spot–that is impossible. What has happened is he’s smoothed those rough edges by his unconditional acceptance of me. His being has allowed me to be joyful again.

It is the inevitable truth about having a dog. We dog owners know this, but it is a fact we ignore. Yes, ignorance truly is bliss. After walking this road many times before, I now understand that I each day with these special souls is a blessing. I work hard to live each day with this knowledge close at hand.

In the heaven I envision, dogs are on the front line. Well…seriously…of course they are the first souls encountered by anyone coming that way. And yes, they really are at that rainbow bridge spot. In my mind, when a dog dies, there is another dog soul standing in the middle of the rainbow bridge. Each dog is waiting for the other because the dog-in-waiting will soon be on the way to wag his way into the life and heart of the human left behind. That puppy powered with puppy energy and puppy breath will smooch and soothe away the ragged edges of loss.

God understands that it is only another brave, adorable puppy soul who could even attempt to ease the type of pain that comes from the loss of another dog.

For me, Duffy is another champion. He wasn’t waiting for Pearl at the bridge. He knew he had to get a head start because he had some HUGE paws to fill.

I am…

B…simply…being…

Love and peace, Y’all.

 

 

Bud

When you have dogs, you witness their uncomplaining acceptance of suffering, their bright desire to make the most of life in spite of the limitations of age and disease, their calm awareness of the approaching end when their final hours come. They accept death with a grace that I hope I will one day be brave enough to muster.”
Dean Koontz, A Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog

I need to write something today that would boost my spirits. For the past few days, I have binge-watched, This Is Us. 

I’m emotionally drained and completely cried out.

Because I have been focused on my dogs today–the next few days are filled with dog grooming appointments–what better way to take my mind in a different direction than to write about my dogs?

Meet Bud.

Bud is our oldest Lhasa Apso, turning eleven years old last January. We call him our Nebraska farm dog because those are his roots. He is the healthiest dog to ever grace our home. No matter how much his back hurts or his hind legs catch, he is always ready for his walk. He never ever allows us to sit anywhere alone. He’s not a lap dog, but he is usually close enough to have his nose on foot or in your shoe. He is 18 pounds of absolute devotion.

Bud is named for my Dad, whose nickname was Bud. This fact shoots up a warning flag–kinda like those annoying advertisements that pop up on your favorite websites! When you name someone or something after another important person in your life, be ready for a whole new level of “concern” when things are not going as usual.

Bud joined us after our youngest Lhasa, Jessie, died very unexpectedly. Most of the dogs in my life had lived very long lives. To lose Jessie at eight years of age took me completely off guard. I was lost.

Michael was grasping at ways to help me. He called and asked me to check the paper for puppies. In his opinion, the only way to help me was to call in the serious dog healers–otherwise known as puppies.

I grabbed the ad section of The Denver Post–this was eleven years ago–and searched. I found an ad that read: Three Lhasa Apso puppies for sale, two males, one female. The phone number was given with the note to ask for Vivian.

My heart stopped.

Vivian is NOT a common name. My Mom’s name was Vivian. Holding my breath, I called the number. Vivian told me she could send a picture of the only puppy she had left. If I was interested, I needed to let her know because she was bringing the other puppies to the Denver area that weekend.

I opened the email and fell in love with that handsome boy. His name had been decided the minute I began to talk with Vivian. He was Bud.

I am…

B…simply being…

I love you.

Peace

 

 

 

 

Thank You For Your Time

It’s the day after my birthday. It was a wonderful day filled with unexpected wishes and love-filled gifts.

Thank you.

I wonder if I am the only one who has just a little sadness sneak in the day after that day of celebrating your special day? I am not sure exactly why. Maybe it’s because it is the only day I know where you have blanket permission to be and do whatever you want. Come on, it’s your birthday.

I am very good at taking advice–usually. I did exactly what I wanted to do all day long. I read all my cards. I opened all my gifts. I ate what I wanted for dinner. I opened and enjoyed a wonderful bottle of wine.

I relished every single minute.

As my day played out, I became aware that each gift came with a bonus. Each card, note, email, or phone call came with a generous investment of time. Minutes each person withdrew from time banks that were already taxed and overdrawn. Everyone made a conscious decision to spend time on me.

Thank you.

I am very blessed.

I am…

B…simply being…

Love and peace Y’all.

They Say It’s Your Birthday

Sixty-four years ago today, I began this grand adventure called life.

I have been fortunate and very blessed–not to mention just plain ol’ lucky.

By the grace of God, people have been placed in my life at times when I needed them the most. Now, the question may arise as to whether some helped me or if they actually lead me off course for a while. Either way, whichever column you place people in, they all played a part in allowing me to grow and become the person I am today. Because of these wonderful and eclectic folks, I am alive. I am well. I am.

Sounds to me like it’s time for a walk down memory lane so I can share a story.

The summer after I completed eighth grade, my family moved from the small town of Traer, Iowa, to the city of Waterloo, Iowa. I don’t remember when I realized this huge change was happening. My family was not big on family meetings or sharing information. What I’d expected to be the start of my freshman year of high school, with kids I had been with since kindergarten, morphed into years of unforeseen changes and challenges. All that was comfortable and familiar in my life was packed away and dismissed that summer. Like it or not, I was off to a new life in a new town in a new house in a new school with new kids.

This was one of the most difficult times in my life. By luck or by an act of God, I landed in a place where I found wonderful and generous friends. Kids who welcomed me into their circle of friends. Wonderful people who are still in my life today.

That year my birthday fell on a day when we did not have school because it was opening day for the National Cattle Congress. What? Could anything sound more Iowan? Cattle Congress is an annual event that’s been part of the Waterloo culture for decades. It was and remains a mixture of a stock show, a fair, and a carnival. It was the perfect place for a group of young kids to go and hang together while checking out all the out-of-town boys. I was so excited. My new group of friends asked me to go with them AND my Dad and stepmother said I could go.

I did not realize my friends knew it was my birthday. Not only was it my birthday, but it was also my new friend, Margie’s birthday. At the end of the day, after talking and learning about the new people in my life, both Margie and I had birthday presents to open. The gifts were supposed gag gifts–meant to be funny. To me, that present was my new lifeline. As I type, I can still see that little-ribbed glass jar which held green, medicinal smelling stick deodorant.  A joke? Okay, but to me, it was a precious gift. Something that gave me hope for my future.

This is such a nice memory to have and carry with me as I continue on my life journey. It is also a reminder that a gift does not have to be big to be special. Kinda like that surprise phone call I just had with my friend, Dave. That was so thoughtful. Thank you, Dave.

There is so much joy in an act of simple kindness.

I am…

B…simply being…

Love Y’all.

Peace

 

 

 

Ahhh, Friday!

“It’s 4:58 on Friday afternoon. Do you know where your margarita is?”
― Amy Neftzger

It has been a long and busy Friday here in Hibdonville. I’ve finally found my adult beverage. It is past time to put my feet up and my busy mind to rest.

As the weekend begins, please stay patient with each other. Remember many walking among us are bravely facing huge challenges every minute of every day.

Be especially kind.

Pray.

I am…

B…simply being…

Love Y’all.

Peace.

 

 

My New Ritual

I began my day by writing in my new journal. It was my new, but very familiar, ritual. My notebook of choice is NOT fancy. I’d grabbed it a couple of weeks ago at the Dollar General store for $0.99. I added a bunch of old stickers to the cover so it wouldn’t look so much like some kid’s grade school project–my attempt at art may have made it look even more like that very thing. My writing instrument–a good old #2 pencil. It’s simple. It’s easy. It’s erasable. The added bonus–whenever my very sturdy and reliable pencil needs sharpening, I have a real reason for taking a thought break.

It was soothing giving my thoughts their freedom, allowing them to crawl out of my foggy morning head onto the paper. There was no scurrying about with each idea fighting with the one ahead of it. It took patience and some writing around the bush techniques. Slowly things came together. I found myself falling into my old routine of writing three pages–the number of pages suggested by Julia Cameron in, The Artist’s Way.  As I did many years ago, I ended my pages with thank you’s to God. My chosen number has always been five–and that is what I carried into my new ritual.

As I planned, I did all this first thing this morning. No news. No social media. Interesting, by my taking control, there was no internal struggle.

As I wrote this morning, I had a thought about the practice of Tashlich, the “casting off sins.” I am a gold medal champion when it comes to worrying. What if I used this beautiful tradition as a model for dealing with my own moments of uncertainty? Living on a hill, could I use the wind as my mode of transporting that type of negativity away from me and out of my future?

I like that.

I think I’m going to add that to my daily practice. I’ll save the walks to the river for special times.

I am…

B…simply being…

There continues to be a lot of pain in our world. Please pray for each other.

I love Y’all.

Peace

 

I Need…

I need a ritual.

I need an intimate ceremony where I can celebrate the person I was, the person I am, and the person waiting to be.

I’ve thought about this since reading and writing about Rosh Hashana. The description of “casting off of sin” made a big impression on me. It was not at all like my childhood memories of going to confession.  In my mind, we’re talking the same basic concept. How much more powerful would it be to make the journey to the river, break off pieces of bread while thinking of past sins, then throwing each sin into the flowing current. The physical connection in each segment of this ritual is healing to me. Instead of feeling shame for my sins, I have a sense of personal power enabling me to make the changes I need in my future.

I like that feeling.

I’ve read about other rituals. Not surprisingly, many of them are part of Jewish traditions. A bathing ritual or mikvah was interesting to me. In recent years, this tradition has regained acceptance because the ritual has evolved to meet the needs of today’s people and today’s world.

Who says rituals can’t change? Who says I can’t make my own bathing ritual?

I’ve wondered if that wasn’t what was missing when I retired. Would it have been different for me if there had been a ritual commemorating that tremendous life-changing event? Would it make other transitions easier for me if I had a ritual that enabled me to adjust physically and mentally?

Okay, here’s my plan for the next month.

For the next thirty days, I will begin my day with thirty minutes of journaling and reading. No social media or other news until I have my soul time.

Any joiners?

I am…

B…simply being…

I love you and wish you peace.

 

 

 

 

Rosh Hashana

Tomorrow at sundown, the first of the Jewish high holidays, Rosh Hashana, will begin. This holiday signals the beginning of the Jewish new year.

Years ago, one of the physicians I worked with would talk with me about Rosh Hashana. I listened because I knew it was important to him. I was young. I was not ready or engaged enough to listen fully and hear all he shared with me.

The relationship the two of us had was something I took for granted. We were friends. We were both able to leave our work roles at the door and be ourselves. We could lean on each other one minute and get upset with each other the next. It wasn’t until I left Iowa that I realized I had been gifted a very rare and unique friend.

The last Rosh Hashana I remember sitting with him and toasting the new year was the year the holiday fell on my birthday. It was significant, he said, it meant the year ahead would be a special one for me.

I thought of my friend many times these past few days while I read about Rosh Hashana. It seemed appropriate to me since the part of the holiday he stressed was the looking back on the year passed. It was important for him to look carefully at mistakes he’d made so those mistakes would not be carried on.

I have to tell you, reading about this holiday is overwhelming. It was difficult to know where and when to stop. One huge reward of the research was being reminded of how beautifully the Jewish faith uses symbolism. An example follows which illustrates the tradition of Tashlich, which translates to “casting off sins.”

In some communities, according to Lesli Kippelman Ross’ article found in myjewishlearning.com, before sunset the evening of Rosh Hashana, people walk to a running stream or river, throwing in pieces of bread. These breadcrumbs symbolize their sins of the past year, tossed away so they are not carried into the new year. As the crumbs travel downstream, the last verses of the prophet, Micah are read: “He will take us back in love; He will cover up our iniquities, you will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.”

Special Rosh Hashana services are held at the synagogue where a ram’s horn, the Shofar,  is blown. The sound of the Shofar is part of the high holidays and is used to remind people to go within for deep personal reflection.

Rabbi Yonah Hain of Columbia/Barnad Hillel, tells us that the Shofar is an alarm telling us to take stock. He was asked, is this holiday about celebrating the past year or is it about reflecting upon the lessons learned? Rabbi Hain feels it is up to the individual to determine what the year has been. What is more important is to put those lessons learned into action over the months to come. Go out and greet your family and friends, he says,  with a sincere and strong “Shana tova.” Shana tova translates to “may it be a great year.”

I am…

B…simply being…

I love you.

Shana tova