Saturday, December 27, 2008


We are closing in on the end of the year. And I am relieved. It has been a rough year in our home. I have not been so wise at times. I have not taken care of myself and it has shown: in my marriage, in my work, in my blogging, in my soul...
I am weary but hopeful.

This has been a hard year for lots of my family and friends. It seems to be a sign of the times...

I work in a demanding profession with severely ill people in desperate situations. So I know that I am, in comparison, well off. But I cannot stop my heart from aching for these families no more than I can stop aching for my own family or friends. Boundaries have always been hard for me. Not that I would cross boundaries ethically or harm anyone, but that I can't say "No" very easily and keeping going beyond my endurance until I am depleted. I am learning this is not helpful for others. I don't perform at my peak level if I am rundown. I can't give my best is I have nothing left to give.

I am learning about self care. About being intentional. About giving my all and then resting to recharge. About not giving up...

I have learned these lessons from watching my husband, my family, my friends and yes even my pets... God incarnates in many forms, sometimes even four legged and furry forms!

I resolve this next year to clear out the clutter, make room for rest and peace. That is why I am hopeful. Because I think I can accomplish this. To find and hold onto Peace. Having gone without peace, I now long for it. And that is the first step to achieving a dream, having the desire...

Guest Author (without permission... but hopefully forgiveness!)

My nephew wrote this email. I think it is the best Christmas sermon I have ever heard. Amen. (I hope you don't mind using it Nephew! For all the non family readers, this is the nephew of whom I have written many times, who is one of the finest men I know. Which isn't a surprise as he was raised by one of the finest men I know as well...)

"Hello and Merry Christmas everyone.
Well it has already been the best Christmas ever for us .
Today the adoption was made final; it has been the greatest experience.
At times we wondered if this day would ever come, at times we wondered why we had to go through this eleven year battle but now we know and understand. I have learned alot though all of this...
First thing I had to learn was one of the hardest things for me was that I didn't have control of the situation.
But God was in control if we would just let Him lead us and guide us we would all be better off .
Because He had already planned the child for us; we now understand its God's time and God's plan, not our time or our plan .
And also if we had a child on our own it would have been a gift from God. Because any child is a gift God so there is no difference, she is our child and there's no way we could love a child any more than we love her.
We have been so blessed words can't express thanks for all the prayer and support."

Welcome to the family, Great # 8.
You are our best Christmas present ever.
Love Aunt Martha

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

This year Christmas is a little sadder. Its a Christmas without Molly Dawg. Which reminds me of others that aren't here either. My parents, my father in law, other relatives and friends and pets...

We are in town for this holiday since I am the on call person at my agency. So we are missing family.

I am trying to be hopeful though. This year has been rough. But Christmas has always heralded a time of miracles and love for me. It is a season when my faith is renewed, when I begin to believe once again. Tonight is the night when miracles happen. When hearts open and love abounds.

Tonight is Christmas Eve.

There will be Peace.
There will be Joy.
There will be Hope.

If we all believe...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I rescued a human: Molly and Me

Alycat sent me this and its pretty much Molly and my story. All that's missing is the celestial ray of light that shone down on her!
Thanks Alycat...

I Rescued A Human
by Diane Turriff.........................................

I rescued a human today.

Her eyes met mine as she walked down the corridor peering apprehensively into the kennels.

I felt her need instantly and knew I had to help her.
I wagged my tail, not too exuberantly, so she wouldn't be afraid.

As she stopped at my kennel I blocked her view from a little accident I had in the back of my cage. I didn't want her to know that I hadn't been walked today. Sometimes the shelter keepers get too busy and I didn't want her to think poorly of them.

As she read my kennel card I hoped that she wouldn't feel sad about my past. I only have the future to look forward to and want to make a difference in someone's life. She got down on her knees and made little kissy sounds at me. I shoved my shoulder and side of my head up against the bars to comfort her.

Gentle fingertips caressed my neck; she was desperate for companionship.

A tear fell down her cheek and I raised my paw to assure her that all would be well.

Soon my kennel door opened and her smile was so bright that I instantly jumped into her arms.
I would promise to keep her safe.
I would promise to always be by her side.
I would promise to do everything I could to see that radiant smile and sparkle in her eyes.
I was so fortunate that she came down my corridor.
So many more are out there who haven't walked the corridors.
So many more to be saved.
At least I could save one.

I rescued a human today.

The thing is, she really did. Molly rescued two. She blessed the hubster and me with her presence. Our lives were improved immensely the day she entered our hearts. She brought us joy, laughter, hope and love. People who have never bonded with an animal can't understand our own unique pathology, but there is something about the utter trust, the unconditional love, the total forgiveness that makes me believe in an incarnate God. We humans are often pretty pathetic at all the Christ like teachings; showing mercy and forgiveness, turning the other cheek, loving your neighbor. I don't mean to be blasphemous, I am totally serious when I say we could all learn a lesson or two from a really great dog. If we let it, the world is our classroom and animals are our teachers.

Molly Remembered...

Yesterday, became the day.

After months of "Not today!", Molly Dawg let us know it was time. She was tired and wanted to go. The hubster and I took her on one last car ride to her Dr. Dreamy and stayed with her as he administered the big pink shot. Molly Dawg fell asleep to wake no more. Gone is the pain, the frustrations, the indignity, the struggles. All that is left is our broken hearts and tear stained faces.

But wait, there is more.

The love remains...

Rest in peace Molly Dawg, may light perpetual shine upon thee and angels guard your rest.

I loved her so much.

Monday, December 15, 2008

guess what i did?

broke my radius...

walking in te dark w/ a puppy and not wearing my glasses...

Saturday, December 13, 2008


"Our ability to love is our truest power,
our greatest power as human beings."
Paul Michael Glaser

Dark of winter

I have gone round and round w/ depression most of my adult life and part of my childhood.

Ironically my own battles and victories led me into the mental health field. Knowing that if I can survive and fight makes me believe that others can as well.

This has been a hard autumn~ usually my best time of year but this year~ not so much. There has been death, disease, disappointment and worry... sometimes my problems, but often others that I carry for friends, family and clients.

I have found myself crying more lately, isolating, being vexed. The Hubster pointed out I needed to take my own advice and consult w/ my doctor. So I did. I am now on a higher dose of what will probably be lifelong medications. That's OK. But I still find myself resenting that my body chemistry overrides my determination and will power...

I don't know why I am so unforgiving with myself. Why I am so much kinder to my clients, friends, family and pets than I am to myself... but that is my issue I need to work out.

In the course of all this angst I have emerged incredibly grateful for several things:
My family. My mum in law who listens as I cry over the phone, who has been a support for me for almost 20 years through thick and thin. I am so incredibly blessed to have a mum in law who is a friend. Not everyone can say that and I just love her dearly. She came into my life during the time my own mother died and her mother died and we have just glommed onto each other and forged a wondrous relationship.
Also my big sister. She has always been there for me. She and her hubster are my touchstones, I know if I ever need anything, all I have to do is call and they will be there without question. They are my heart.
The hubster. Who else would put up with me? He knows the best and worst and loves it all. Diane, BFF of 34 years, again, what would I do without her? We have laughed, cried, prayed, rejoiced and mourned together for a lifetime. She too is irreplaceable.
Then there are the furfaces. My pets, lovable, frustrating, but so life sustaining...
They show me unconditional love and absorb countless tears into their furs. Worth every nickel...
I am grateful for friends. My social work group of buds, T. and L. and K, we hold each other up through monthly visits and emails. They are there in a heartbeat and provide me with joy and support.
My co workers who bolster me and support me and quell my fears. I love my job most days but it does wear a person down, that is why they are so vital to me...
The list goes on, but my battery is dying, so I will plug in the computer and continue later...
Peace and love to you all.
Mary Martha


Jake is still with us in spite of Molly and Buddy daily plotting his death...

He checked out fine at the vet, healthy, sturdy, good disposition, not even very wormy...
Labeled "a keeper" much to Molly and Buddy's dismay.

He is growing before our very eyes! He weighed in at 12 and a half pounds but was not 4 months old... he is only 10 weeks old!!! A BABY! So my expectations have been very high and unrealistic...

He has brought some much needed laughter and joy into our lives. As well as shredded papers, lost shoes, piddle puddles and late night, early morning stumbles around the cold dark yard!!!

But he is indeed a keeper. We are working on his training. At one year old, if all goes well, he will test for certification as a therapy dog. Then I can use him in treatment w/ clients, take him to hospitals, nursing homes and Hospices to help provide comfort and healing. This has long been a dream of mine, to have an animal to use to help others.

Plus the husbster has just wanted one of the furfaces to have a job!!!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

In spite of common sense...

If I were being sane and rational I would not have brought home a free yellow lab, golden retriever mix puppy yesterday. But I was operating in "the zone" and conventional wisdom need not apply...

Occasionally I have days that flow from the moment I get up until I go to bed. No matter what happens, good or ill, it feels right. It feels like I am exactly where I am supposed to be, doing what I am supposed to be doing, connected with a higher power, the collective unconscious... Yesterday was just such a day.

I will try to keep this short. I posted stuff to sell on craigslist and it sold to people who instantly connected with me. They even had some of the same stuff I own in their home... similar minds/tastes/decorations. They had a dog, Daisy, who greeted me lovingly, which is not always common for the rogue beagle... I dropped off the little stove I sold them and we talked for an hour. They showed me their home, introduced me to their cats and we just clicked...

Next I went to my pet sitting appointment where I get along with the totally insane cat that Alycat passed on to me as a client. Even that felt right as Kikikat and her human live just up the street from my sister...

Driving to my next appointment (a human teen) I felt a wash of positive energy and realized that despite being broke, the lousy economy, the lousy week I just had, all the negative stuff that had happened, I was ridiculously happy and so grateful for everything and everyone in my life...

I met the client and we attempted to go to Wolf Run, but it was closed. As I was thinking, "hmmm maybe the Humane Society", she asked "Could we go to the Humane Society?" I laughingly said "Fate intervenes" and off we went. We got there, looked at dogs and cats and resisted adopting any of them.

Then as we were leaving, there was a women holding a golden puppy. Oh cute! I thought, a baby golden retriever...

The woman saw me looking and called out "Would you like a free puppy who has been neutered?"
Against my better rational judgment I walked over. She explained she had gone shelter to shelter, all were overcrowded and would probably euthanize him, LHS couldn't take him because she didn't live in Fayette Co. She was crying, he was fixed, and well, I am a sucker for a sob story....

So I woke the hubster holding a puppy. He can't resist me and a puppy apparently.

Now here comes the conventional wisdom defying part...

Jake (the pup) doesn't chase the cats, he doesn't get growled at by Molly. Sniffy Pie has groomed him already. He is already going to the back door when he needs to go potty. He knows sit. He sat perfectly still while I bathed him and then blew him dry w/ a hair dryer. He kennels up in a cat carrier....
He seems pretty healthy, he is already neutered (the most expensive part of puppydom) and he rarely barks or yips. Its as if he were meant to be our dog...

He will be trained and certified as a therapy dog. He may be our first animal with a job. I will keep you posted.

To quote my big bro the preacher, "sometimes you just gotta walk out on Faith..."

It's a God thang... dog thang... God thang. You decide.

His name is Jake. Maybe changing to Teddy. He was neutered. And Free. (Like there's really such a thing as a free puppy! HA!)
He is not chasing the cats, bugging Molly or being overly hyper or barky. After less than 24 hours he is getting the hang of housebreaking. Yes. I am an idiot...

Friday, November 28, 2008

Taking quizzes... and the results

The Medieval Career Quiz:
Many years ago there was a period of time that is often casually called "Medieval." It was a time, so the story tellers tell us, of tiny kingdoms, brave knights and ferocious dragons.

Transportation and travel were both crude and difficult, usually necessitating that each kingdom be as self sufficient and self reliant as possible. So it was very important that within each kingdom all the major crafts and professions of the day were ably represented to insure the survival of the kingdom. In the English language we still see remnants of some occupations in the familiar surnames such as Smith, Carpenter, Miller and Baker to name just a few.

Interestingly enough, beyond the specific title the vocation also took on its own greater personality. This personality preference can also give a broader understanding of the basic complementary style and types necessary to the kingdom's survival, or perhaps any organization's success. Although the specific vocation influenced the name, it was no accident that certain personality types and styles gravitated to certain occupations. The personality of these jobs suited the inclinations of the job holders, and the predecessor to modern day job descriptions was born. The successful matching of a job-holder's personality to the personality and unique requirements of the job was necessary to the kingdom's survival, or perhaps any organization's success. The successful kingdoms more than likely were able to blend the differences into a powerful and formidable entity. With today's diverse workforce, the corporate kingdom that acknowledges and nurtures these personality preferences could become an organization as successful as the Camelot of old.

Even though we now appear to have the freedom to explore many different career alternatives, we still have a medieval vocational personality within each of us. This personality, properly identified and understood, can motivate our success but, if ignored, may set the stage for our ultimate failure. Since times appeared to be simpler then, let us return to the kingdoms of medieval Europe and see what we would have done then, regardless of what our names are now.

Your distinct personality, The Shepherd is to tend to your human flock. You understand the needs of those for whom you are responsible. Shepherds are vigilant and reliable. You realize your obligation and commitment to the well being of those entrusted to your care. Shepherds are very dependable. You engender a feeling of comfort and stability to those within your charge. On the positive side, Shepherds can be empathic, caring, understanding, practical and realistic. On the negative side, you may be manipulative, close-minded and sentimentally rigid. Interestingly, your preference is just as applicable in today's corporate kingdoms.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

old poems i found in my documents...

by Martha Parks Johnson

The first snow would fall
in the secret of night.
I’d wake to find
A wonderland of white ice.
My breath would lightly
frost the window
and I would hug my quilt tight
as Daddy stirred the sleeping
embers of fire
into waking blaze.

Later bundled in his old Pea jacket
in boots a size too large
I would step the first step
into the hushed wilderness.
I would wander throughout
the field discovering tracks
of squirrel and fox,
pausing to see
the tiny chit chit scratching
of chickadee and wren.

In the orchard
trees were black against
the aching whiteness,
stark and gnarled like an
old man’s hand upon his cane.
The cedars feathery and green
defiant in their vividness
danced along fence rows
as I clapped with delight
startling the jays and grackles
into flight , dark specters
against the jewel blue of sky.

Beyond the Veil
by Martha Parks Johnson

pure and shimmering
intensely white
me in.

my breath hastens
to slip
from my body.

My heart
ceases to beat.
I am floating
spinning in the light

No longer flesh
No longer bone
I am fleeting
I am,
I become
Pure and shimmering
intensely white.

Too Numb

I have forgotten how to grieve,
Leaving the land of loss
I left the skill

Tucked out of sight,
I didn’t remember
how searing
the pain of death
could be.

Watching the body slow,
watching the breath soften
and still
watching the light dim

All these things
I forgot.

I forgot the feeling of the heart
pulsing to the beat of the clock
until the last second came
and went
and the heart stopped
stilled to beat no more.

I forgot the tears that flow
hot and scalding
rivers of grief
overflowing running
down the cheeks
salty and slick

I forgot the wrenching
of the breath as I held it
the sobs escaping

I forgot it all
I forgot how to let go.
And now I must remember
and let the pain
once again...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Like Bread

They are but flashes,
crumbs too soon swept away,
these moments,
and some, too few,
I gather up in hand,
just for a moment too,
and taking them like bread,

I give thanks.


I found this a beautiful blog. I am trying hard to be thankful and live in the present and not worry. It ain't easy, is it?

RIP Tommy

Once again I drove the 2 plus hours home to say goodbye...

Tom (always known as Tommy to me!) died last weekend...
Tommy is the brother of my BFF of 34 years, Diane. I have been around this family most of my life. I know the layout of their childhood home almost as well as my own. I have so many pleasant memories of this family. And of course Diane has been with me through thick and thin...

Tommy was the cool senior guy who always spoke to us lowly, giggling, awkward freshmen girls. He always seemed really interested in whatever I had to say when I was at their home. Tommy always took time to listen. When I talked to him, I felt the full measure of his attention. I felt special. Apparently everyone who encountered him felt the same way.

Tommy was a huge man. Tall and broad, yet incredibly graceful and gentle. Qualities that I see in the hubster. Perhaps Tommy was one of my role models for what I wanted in a mate. Because he made me feel special, safe and secure.

Tommy loved animals. I remember his dog Sigmund. Sigmund was beautiful. I remember one day watching Sigmund and Tommy play together in the fall sunshine and that remains in my mind as a moment of pure joy: boy and dog, leaves crunching, sunshine and shadow, an achingly beautiful blue sky mirrored in his eyes...

Tommy's son Brian hung out with me on my wedding day. Brian was only 8 or 9 and since his aunt Diane was my only attendant we were getting dressed at her parent's home. Brian watched as we put on our makeup, talking quietly, focusing his full attention on us like his dad always did... having Brian around calmed me immensely. He brought the same peace and tranquility into the room that his dad always did. He is perhaps the finest gift Tommy gave the world.

Tommy also reminded me of my father in law. Like Dad, Tommy performed good works under the radar. Person after person spoke of his many kindnesses, mostly unknown to anyone but them and Tommy.

Tommy appeared to be a simple man to the world, a truck driver, but that wasn't who he was. Tommy was complex, he was more than who he appeared. Tommy was a true gentleman, a gentle man, a deep thinker, a man who loved deeply and wholly. Tommy gave of himself fully. He was a sterling example of a son, brother, spouse, father and friend. He spread kindness in a cruel world. He gave hope to the hopeless and touched thousands of lives about which we may never know anything. I am proud to have known him.

Rest now, Tommy, your work is done. Your love remains.

Jesus and Jello

I often wonder what church dinners would do if there were no jello?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Worry, worry, worry.

Lately I have taken to "brooding" the hubster sez.

Or to put it simply I haz a sad...

I am stressed at work, at home, and I just can't seem to shake it...
Everyone I talk with is stressed and sad. I imagine this must be what the country felt like during the great Depression.

I just found this article today. I am going to try it. Maybe this will kick the brooding out of my head for a while. I will keep you all posted...

Judy Pace Christie: Replace worry with gratitude for added success

Most of the people I encounter these days aren't in the mood for a challenge. They are busy and tired, worried about their 401(k)s and credit cards and how secure their businesses or jobs really are.

But maybe this is just the time for a challenge, the one I issue today — to replace worry and fear with gratitude during this Thanksgiving season. And then to hang onto the change into the new year.

During the past few years, I've discovered that worry and gratitude do not mix. In fact, I'd go so far as to say they are mutually exclusive. So, to get rid of worry and fear, heap on the gratitude.

Why should this matter in your work life?

Owning a business, managing a payroll, juggling projects, raising money, watching expenses, recruiting volunteers, doing an excellent job at work — all take energy and even courage. In this shaky season, it's easy to be fearful and forget to be grateful.

By deliberately becoming more thankful, you put your worries and fears in perspective. While the negatives in your life don't magically disappear, they become less powerful. Take a small step or two and see if it doesn't make a difference. Then take a few more.

You may find this simple attitude shift can help your business or organization flourish — because you build on the good that is already in place.

During the next week, take a few steps toward thanksgiving. To consider:

-- Start each day with a list of things you're thankful for, at work and home. Get specific. Go deep.

-- Notice the goodness in those you work with and overlook some of their foibles.

-- Expect good things to happen and don't fret over much when things go awry.

-- List all the things that have unfolded well in your business, organization or career this year. (Even in tough economic times, so many things are going right for so many.)

-- Say thanks every day for unlikely blessings, until your mental tone changes. Look for the good. Turn over daily rocks and see what goodness lies beneath.

As you develop this thankful perspective, look for these benefits:

-- The people around you will act more positively. As you give thanks, it wears off.

-- You'll observe previously overlooked details about your business, things you've done right, trends headed in the right direction. Instead of obsessing on what didn't work, you'll find yourself proud of what has gone right.

-- The people who work with you, for you, near you will suddenly be so much more helpful. Well, actually, they won't be more helpful, but they will seem more helpful. You'll realize how much they do for you each week. When you stop to give thanks, you see that you couldn't do it alone "» and that many step in to help out.

-- Cool opportunities appear. I call this possibility thinking — you are open to what might be available, what could unfold.

-- You see your business or nonprofit with new eyes. A fresh look can be like a deep, cleansing breath.

-- You realize anew how much you do have, despite what you might have lost or let slip away.

-- You set the stage for a more enjoyable holiday season. Thanksgiving is just the beginning of what has become a sprint to the New Year. Entering the season giving thanks can change your perspective and help you say no to frenzy, which can be extremely potent in your business or organization. The world needs this immensely, and you can be a leader here.

Replace your worries with gratitude — and see what happens.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Judy Pace Christie is a local consultant and author. She owns Judy Christie Consulting Services LLC and helps clients with strategies for meaningful life and work. Her book "Hurry Less, Worry Less at Christmastime: Having the Holiday Season You Long For" discusses how to develop a thankful heart. Contact Judy at

Sunday, November 16, 2008


In lieu of a post, I'm going to do this meme. I know, I'm a lazy bugger. Also, I was tagged by your friend and mine Katie.

Grab the nearest book.
Open it to page 56.
Find the fifth sentence.
Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.
Don’t dig for your favorite book, the cool book, or the intellectual one: pick the CLOSEST.

"The lens through which they see themselves, others, and the world has a dim grayness."

from the book "Change Your Brain, Change Your Life"

Nerd that I am, I was studying...

I tag Alycat, Tim B and anyone else who is reading my blog and writing their own!!!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Home life update

Molly dawg continues to toddle about keeping us on an emotional roller coaster. She has good days and an occasional bad day. But all in all she is hanging tough and we are keeping on loving her.

Buddy Love is ever faithful and cuddly, as is Mo, Kizzie and Sniffypie. Maggie the Cat remains totally insane and antisocial in the attic.

Dennis the fish swims strong!

My work is tough, exhausting, brings me to tears and is incredibly rewarding. I love being a therapist.

The hubster is quacking along selling the duck insurance. I got to see him act last week and he is as always, amazing. He is just so brilliant and wondrous. I am a lucky woman to have him around...

Our house is slowly getting purged of junk, occasionally getting origanized and we actually got the yard raked last weekend.

All in all, we are good.

We just miss family and friends because we stay too darn busy!

more small victories.

I have been going head to head with psychiatrists a lot lately.

I have a kiddo that I am convinced has the wrong diagnosis. I have gone through charts, interviewed his parents and teachers and former therapists to gather data. I have what I think is a good case that this kiddo is somewhere on the Autism spectrum. But the doctor kept insisting on Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

So I presented my opinion. The doc disagreed and prescribed more meds. In the meantime the kiddo continued to escalate and become more and more violent and aggressive. The doc would change meds... and they wouldn't work.
I presented all my research to the doc. Didn't work. More meds. The kiddo then stabbed a peer with a pencil and injured a teacher. He was expelled and sent to a restrictive placement.

BUT the school backed me and I was able to persuade the doc to recommend testing for Autism and requiring a shortened school day. IT isn't the solution I hoped for, but its a start...

small victories...

This week I am counting the small victories and letting go of my grandiose expectations.

I have been co-facilitating a teen girls group once a week using a new therapy ~ dialectical behavior therapy. Basically its holding 2 opposites in your mind at once with both being true. Confused? OK try this: Say (and believe!) "I accept myself just exactly as I am" and at the same time also say and believe "I need to change"
Its a hard concept for adults, let alone teen girls. And these girls are troubled, have mental health issues and some have very low IQ's. So, this experimental group has been a bumpy ride. I went in with expectations of them eagerly sitting and listening as I explained how relaxing silence could be, how to meditate, how to use breathing and yoga to relax...
But I forgot I can't work those things in my daily life! and they are forced to come to group!!! So they are not exactly open and eager. Rather they are grumpy and defiant...

HOWEVER they have begun to share their troubles in group. Open up and talk about what is going on in their lives: being expelled from school, removal from their parents and placement into foster care, their babies taken away and put into foster care, failing school, abuse, trauma, death, depression...
Things you don't expect. Things that are pretty heavy for adults to carry, even tougher for girls age 13 to 16. Yup, 13 to 16. My heart breaks.

I was so blessed to have had my family when I was that age. I had great parents, great older siblings. I never had a moment in my life that I doubted I was loved and wanted. No matter how bad things got I always knew that I was loved. These girls don't have that in their lives. They look for love without knowing fully what love looks like. And often they accept a shoddy imitation of love...
Again my heart just breaks for them.

I don't know if our group is helping or not, I hope in some way, that they take something away from it. Some self esteem. A way to cope. A tool to help them get through the day. If I can give them at least that, then it will be a success.

Monday, November 10, 2008

How could you leave all that?

Last night I was at an after theater party and was asked how I could leave the glamorous life of theater behind...

I didn't know how to answer at first. That was 2 careers back. I also didn't want to say "I grew to hate it." because I think that would have completely baffled the person asking me. Instead I explained that somewhere it stopped being art. Theater had at one time been a passion. I did it out of love; I loved creating something artistic, something that was ephemeral and transitory. Weaving dreams out of thin air...

But at some point, it became a job. I lost the passion of it. I looked at it as a way to support myself. To buy time to do other things. Except it consumed all my time and I never got to do the other things because I was often exhausted.

I missed a lot too. I didn't get to see my family very often. My nieces and nephew grew up and I missed all their high school years. I missed the last few years of my mother's life other than a few visits a year and weekly phone calls. I missed seeing season's change because I spent almost all my time inside a building in the dark programming light boards.

Granted I got to see great art, meet famous people, and see the world. If I had not been in theater I would not have met the love of my life, the hubster.

But there came a time to move on, to dream a new dream. I completed my goals, and made new ones.

I wanted more. I wanted to help heal the world. One animal at a time. One person at a time. So I worked for a veterinarian for 11 years until I wanted more. Then I became a clinical social worker to heal the world in a different way. That's how I could leave all that.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


Once again its time to vote.
I plan on getting to the polls early just to beat the rush.
The hubster and I were discussing this is one of the few things you can do privately nowadays and not have to explain it to anyone. You go in, cast your vote and leave knowing you did the best you could...

I have probably watched more debates and read more articles about the candidates this time around than ever before. It feels like we are on the cusp of something huge.

I go into peoples homes, wait, I am invited into people's homes and their lives through my job as a clinical social worker. It is an honor to be allowed into someone's home. Especially the homes that have bare cupboards, no food, no electricity or gas or water. People wounded and hurting, but who with dignity, ask me in and treat me like an honored guest.

When I enter these homes I don't see the color of their skin. I see their pain. Pain I understand. Pain is the common denominator of all human beings; of all living creatures. It touches us all and brings us to our knees. Pain levels the playing field.

In the upcoming election I believe both candidates have known pain. I believe they both have been brought to their knees. But what I am seeing is that skin color still, even in 2008, plays a role. I cannot believe we have come no farther than to still judge a person by the color of one's skin. Unfathomable. Ridiculous. It makes me wish we were all blind and couldn't see what one another looked like. But then I guess we would build prejudices on how we sound or smell...I actually heard someone say they would vote for Obama if he were white. (Discounting that he actually is at least 1/2 white!)

All I am asking and praying for, is that everyone vote FOR someone they believe in, not AGAINST someone just because of their skin color.

It is 2008. Time to stop the hate...

Monday, October 27, 2008


Today in supervision we were talking about transportation and the lack of public transportation in this town. We were asked what was the best public transportation we had experienced?

I started remembering the subway. In NYC when I first arrived my then boyfriend Mark and I rode the R train from one end to the other: from Queens to Brooklyn, through Manhattan. It was a cheap date, an all day adventure. For me it was thrilling. I got to people watch, Mark and I made up stories about everyone and wandered through the cars up to the front of the train to watch out the window as we traveled through the tunnels and came above ground in Brooklyn. We got out in Brooklyn and wandered around in a strange neighborhood, stopped in a deli had coffee and got back on to go the other direction. For a long time I enjoyed riding the subway. It was challenging, exciting, I never knew what to expect. It was almost always an adventure.

however after awhile living in Brooklyn, working in Manhattan, riding the subway 5 days a week, it became routine. I became one of the people wearing a Walkman, eyes closed or reading a book, tuning out the strangers closing in on me, but at the same time alert to any danger...

At times I was glad to get on a near empty car; no hustling homeless people, plenty of seats, room to stretch out and put my feet up. Other times it was a little scary ~ Not enough people when the crazies were mumbling or yelling and pulling knives to stab at each other or invisible enemies. In the winter after walking for blocks and blocks and then standing for an hour on a freezing subway platform, I was grateful for a crowded car, squeezing in between 2 heavily coated and scarved strangers, nestled in between their warm bodies, I would nap lulled by the swaying of the train, the softness of their shoulders pressing me against the seat.

In the summer the subways were hot and stinky. The hubster referred to the smell as "the warm piss~aire" I remember watching large rats the size of possums lumber around the tracks searching for food. I hated the subway in the summer. People were sweating and I hated touching skin to skin or grabbing the hand holds to find them wet and slimy. UCK. Often the airconditioning would not be working and people would open the windows which was great when the train was moving, but sweltering when the train was stuck and unmoving...

Other subways I have ridden were in Moscow Russia and Tokyo Japan. Both were more efficient than NYC's. Moscow subways were gorgeous. Huge stations with marble walls, carved pillars and beautiful chandeliers boggled my mind and made me feel tiny and insignificant. I think that all architecture in Russia was designed to make people feel small an unimportant though. The subway cars if I remember correctly had cloth covered seats and were clean. No graffiti. Elegant. Safe. Each station was just as lovely as the next. The lights were crystal and frosted glass. The people were silent, somber. Not much talking.

In Tokyo the trains were sleek and modern. Almost always crowded. But also clean and efficient. The stations were sanitized daily. The signs were in English and Japanese and I had no trouble traveling around the city w/ a map by myself. I felt incredibly safe and secure in Japan. Tokyo was so clean and orderly. People were polite. Russia had left me feeling depressed and oppressed, but Japan left me feeling excited and comfortable to explore. I enjoyed riding the trains in Japan. I got used to listening to conversations in languages I didn't understand. It was a shock when I finally returned to the states and realized I could understand what people were saying again! I was so used to tuning out people that it took awhile for me to realize that people were speaking to me...

Here there is no subway. Only a bus system that is neither efficient or convenient for most of the city dwellers. I rode the bus for a while. It wasn't bad. But I had gotten used to a 10 to 12 minute drive to work; when I took the bus it took an hour due to changing down town and having to wait for the cross town bus. So at the first opportunity I went back to driving. I wish in this time of high gas prices and sucky economy that there was public transportation that was worthwhile. I would use it. It would be nice to zone out on the way home and snooze between two warm strangers...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Greats 5, 6, 7 & 8

I have had the best time EVER this month meeting my newest great nieces. They are beautiful and wondrous girls! First up is Molly Girl (not to be confused with Molly Dawg). Molly Girl is less furry and much smaller but probably poops just as much! Molly Girl wasn't actually named after Molly Dawg. She was named after her grandmother. That's the official story. I will however tell her she was named after my dawg.

Anyway I got to see Molly Girl and her BBs (big bro's: greats 5& 6).
They are VERY lively! They give GaGa and Papa (my sister and bro in law) a run for the money!
But they are so adorable. Ages 4,2, and 7 months...
Baby Paul has potential as a stand up comedian. He has the art of the rubber chicken down!

My nephew got smart. He named his new baby Kayla. Not a name that any of my animals have! So I will have to think of some other tall tale for her!
Great # 8 Kayla is brand spanking new ~ not even a month yet!!! I got to feed her and change her diaper. Being the incredibly polite child she is she only made liquid and did not subject Great Aunt to foul odors! She is going to be a stunner too!

I remember when the parents of the greats were this little. I was only 10 when Mark and Debbie were born. I remember feeding them, changing their diapers. I remember how precious and miraculous they seemed. Now they are adults. They have children of their own. They have become fine upstanding citizens. I am immensely proud of them. I missed so much of their growing up into adults. I left for New York when they were just becoming teenagers. When I came back they were adults. It was a little strange. There is a part of me that will always see them as precious and miraculous. Because they still are. They have passed that on to their children. I see them passing on the love that has trickled down for generations. From my parents to my siblings, to them to their children. All the greats amaze me. I am doubly blessed. My nieces and nephew are some of the best parents I know. They are doing hard work really well. I am proud of them for carrying on the family legacy of love and integrity.


Once again, I have been nostalgic about NYC. I sat last night and discussed life in theater with a couple of concerned parents. Their daughter wants to get into theater as a career and the hubster and I were asked for our advice.
What to say?

I loved and hated the time I spent in theater. I wouldn't change a thing. I have no regrets. Well not many.

I got into theater in college. A late start compared to my peers; most had begun in elementary school or high school. But ever the late bloomer, I discovered theater in college, changed my major and dove in full force. I remember the thrill of learning, the excitement of watching people work together and magic happen. I still remember the first time I walked behind a set and was gobstopped that it wasn't real! It was all make believe. I remember laughing out loud at being tricked! I was incredibly niave.

Luckily for me, I was handy. My father had taught me about tools, and I could hammer and saw and wire things correctly. There were a lot more jobs for technicians than actresses in the 1980's. I hit NYC on the cusp of computer boards. I had a talent for programming the new fangled things and that talent took me far. That and the fact I was willing to work my butt off to be the best. (I still am somewhat of an overachiever, but I temper it a bit better now in middle age!)

I remember the first Broadway show I saw. I went to NYC from Glassboro NJ where I was doing summer stock with 2 friends and we saw Agnes of God with Geraldine Page, Elizabeth Ashley and Amanda Plummer. MY GAWD, I was enthralled!

My first musical was Dreamgirls which I saw I think with my friend Steven. We went to see the movie together as well...

In NYC I worked off off Broadway, Off Broadway, did some TV, worked a lot of Avant Garde theater at La Mama and The Brooklyn Academy of Music. I worked dance a lot. I got to see the big names up close. I got to meet Martha Graham. I worked at Spoleto in Charleston. I traveled to Russia and Japan with Peter Brook.

It all sounds very high falutin' and glamorous. At times it was. But it also was hard. The constant hustle for work. The travel that kept me away from my family, my loved ones. I missed so much. I missed my nieces and nephew growing up. I missed my mother's last years. I missed having a home.

I spent a lot of time crawling through ceilings, dragging miles of cable. I spent long hours riding the subway to and from work. I spent days putting up with jerks who didn't want a woman on their crew and made sure every minute of every hour I knew they thought I was less than them. I spent 11 years proving time after time that I was good enough to be on the crew, run the crew or hire the crew.

I got tired. Somewhere it stopped being fun. It wasn't art anymore. It was a job. The magic was gone. I dreaded going to the theater. I didn't want to work with those guys anymore. I couldn't laugh at their jokes any longer.

So I left.

Now, after almost 15 years away, I am asked, "Should we encourage our daughter to go into theater?"

So, what can I say? I followed my heart. I lived my dream. But somewhere my dream changed. And that was OK. I was lucky enough to realize when it did. I was lucky enough to try and find new things I was good at too.

I am glad I had a career in theater. I am glad I did it when I was young and resilient. I am glad I went to NYC. I am glad for the wonder and the woes. It made me strong. It made me humble. It made me grateful.

So, what I said to the parents was, let her follow her dream, just remind her, dreams can change.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A night at the opera

We went to the opera, La Boheme, on Saturday. The music was lovely. The story was familiar. A poor artist in love with a girl in a big city...
The hubster had wanted to see this opera with me for a long time and we finally got the chance. It brought back many memories for us. When we first met he was a starving artist, acting in Shakespeare and I was a stagehand working long hours just to survive. Our dates often consisted of long, meandering walks around NYC, laughing and talking, walking to stay warm. Once he came up to my apartment so I could sew a button back onto his coat. I remember him wearing a beret and a dashing red scarf. I believe that was when I first called him "my bohemian". (I still do).

Its hard to watch theater or opera or dance with my background. I have worked at some pretty impressive places and with major designers. I am not bragging, those are just the facts. Because of my past work experience, it is hard at times to silence the internal critic in my head. I end up redesigning the lights, scenery and costumes while watching the show. I cringe at a mistake that 90% of the audience would never even notice. It takes a lot to make me gasp in awe. Often with opera, if it is not a huge company, I find myself just closing my eyes and listening. I don't know anything about music. I don't know if someone is off key or singing the wrong Italian words. It all sounds lovely to me. So with this performance I finally stopped about the end of Act II and finally just listened. I stopped reading the annoying supertitles, stopped figuring out how the set worked, stopped playing "that dress doesn't belong in this show" and just let the incredible voices wash over me. We had great seats, we could hear without the aid of microphones and the acoustics were amazing. I got to people watch, saw a few friends and got to hold hands with my beloved while remembering what it was like to be young, cold, poor but crazy in love...

Monday, October 13, 2008


As you look back at your life,
there are just a million different things
that have happened, just in the right way,
to allow you to make your dreams come true.
And you know, Someone has all that under control.
-Michael P. Anderson

I am realizing my dreams. Its a little scary. To achieve what I wanted to achieve. To discover that the things I want are not so far away anymore. I am discovering my dreams have changed too.

Once I dreamed of going to college. It seemed impossible to the 7th grader in a tiny town that she would ever get there. She dreamed of a vague school, ivy covered buildings, sweater sets and wool skirts (too much Nancy Drew?) but in time she (I) made it there. It wasn't exactly as I imagined, it was more.

Then I started to dream of going to New York, of being in theater, making a living making art. I would be the most famous lighting designer ever. I made it to NY, I designed lights, I also did a lot of other things including finding new dreams along the way.

One was to go home. To be near family. To heal and be healed. I returned to KY. I worked for a veterinarian. I picked up a long ago forgotten dream of working with animals. I learned a lot. I learned about healing, life and death. I learned about loving and about letting go. Eventually I moved on to a different dream.

I went back to school. I loved being there, learning again, reading, writing, exploring new worlds, meeting new people. I took all that I learned and went once again into the world. I found a job with an agency that I wasn't expecting to stay at for very long, but I have found it is a good fit for now and I remain there.

I sit this morning in the quiet coolness of my favorite time of year. I am surrounded by my cats and my dog. My husband has just left, excited about his career for the first time in years. I have spent the weekend with my dearest friend, met my newest great niece, walked on the farm where I was born.I ate pears from the tree in my brother's yard from a tree that has been there as long as I have been on earth. I have all I need and most things I want.

My dream now is of being content with the life I have. I am holding my dream in my hands.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


This weekend I received a wonderful gift. My friend invited me down to the place she was house sitting for a girls weekend. It was heavenly!

The time away was a much needed break. I love my job. It is challenging, stressful, hard and heartbreaking; but I am right where I am supposed to be doing what my whole life has prepared me to do. I love it, but in order to do it well and give it my best, I need to get away occasionally.

So I traveled to my friend Diane's house sitting gig. It was a lovely home; quiet, airy and light filled. Diane made fabulous food. We talked, laughed, cried, prayed and sat in a silence made comfortable by having shared a friendship of 34 years...
Diane has been through triumphs and failures with me. She has seen my worst being my roommate in college and loved me anyway. We share a bond that time and distance cannot put a dent in, no matter how long it has been since we talked, we pick up right where we left off. There has never been an awkwardness when we get together again. She knows me better in some ways than anyone else. She has grown up along with me. We have gone on a similar journey sometimes walking together side by side, sometimes our paths veer and we lose sight of each other for a while. But always we know our paths will cross again. There is a comfort in having a friend for this length of time. Having someone who knew you from adolescence to middle age and is still there for the long haul is pretty rare I think. I am blessed to have her in my life. I was certainly blessed to have her gift me with a respite weekend.

I got to relax, totally pampered and cared for, meals made for me, no pressure to do anything, no schedule to follow, total freedom from wants and needs.
I read a book. I nap countless times. I sat in the jacuzzi. I watched a little bit of TV and fell asleep listening to the ocean on the sound machine...

And now I am home. Recharged and ready for the week to come.

Thank you Diane for the gift of yourself. For being there time after time, for knowing when I need you and for coming through. Most of all thank you for being my friend.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Tuesdays With Morrie Quotes

"So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they're busy doing things they think are important. This is because they're chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning." (p.43)

The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in." (p.52)

"I've learned this much about marriage. You get tested. You find out who you are, who the other person is, and how you accommodate or don't." (p.149)

* * *

"...there are a few rules I know to be true about love and marriage: If you don't respect the other person, you're gonna have a lot of trouble. If you don't know how to compromise, you're gonna have a lot of trouble. If you can't talk openly about what goes on between you, you're gonna have a lot of trouble. And if you don't have a common set of values in life, you're gonna have a lot of trouble. Your values must be alike." (p.149)

* * *

"I think marriage is a very important thing to do, and you're missing a hell of a lot if you don't try it." (p.149)

We...need to forgive ourselves...For all the things we didn't do. All the things we should have done. You can't get stuck on the regrets of what should have happened." (p.166)

Life is a series of pulls back and forth. You want to do one thing, but you are bound to something else. Something hurts you, yet you know it shouldn’t. You take certain things for granted, even when you know you should never take anything for granted.”“A tension of opposites, like a pull on a rubber band. And most of us live somewhere in the middle.” “A wrestling match. Yes you could describe life that way.” “Which side wins?” “Love wins. Love always wins." (p.40)\

“That’s what we’re all looking for. A certain peace with the idea of dying. If we know, in the end, that we can ultimately have that peace with dying, then we can finally do the really hard thing.” “Which is?” “Make peace with living.”
pg 174

“As long as we can love each other, and remember the feeling of love we had, we can die without ever really going away.”“Death ends a life, not a relationship.”

Calm in chaos...

“Without doing anything, things can sometimes go more smoothly just because of our peaceful presence. In a small boat when a storm comes, if one person remains solid and calm, others will not panic and the boat is more likely to stay afloat.”
- Thich Nhat Hanh in "Love in Action"

Saturday, September 27, 2008

WKU theatricals...

I have spent a lot of time lately on facebook connecting with old friends from college.
It has made me incredibly nostalgic. This would be my 25 year reunion if I did such things. But I don't think the theater department does reunions anymore?

One person in particular has been posting pictures from the 80's. My GAWD, the hair! The glasses! Did we really think we were fetching??? I recall spending much of my time in the scene shop~ I was a "techie" and pretty much was in jeans and t-shirts all the time. However I layered on the makeup and wore my sweatshirts appropriately ripped ala "Flashdance".

I look at the pictures and realize we were just kids. Everyone looks so young and goofy and innocent. I can't believe it has been 25 years, 3 careers and over 15 moves ago...

Some of the people in the pictures are dead now. Part of the 80's was the AIDS epidemic and it touched all of us in the theater department eventually. I mourn the young men who never got a chance to grow old. I mourn the loss of the theater community. I grieve over the talent that never got to bloom, the songs unsung, the words never written...

I think now, looking at those faces frozen in time full of hopes and dreams, it is those faces that started me on the path to becoming a social worker.

The AIDS epidemic really hit hard when I lived in NYC. Stories of men dying daily, shunned by family, friends, the medical community and the government cut me to the quick. HIV positive babies that no one would hold, kids people were afraid to hug, people dying alone with no one to hold their hand made me angry and sad. I did a little but not enough. It never is enough at times like that. But it was a start and now I am a social worker and I can do more. I have the knowledge and the resources and I can now finally make a difference: maybe not for the kids in the pictures from 25 years ago, but because of them, I can do it for the kids today.

Doggone It!

This morning I heard thumpa thumpa thumpa thud! and ran into the living room where all 4 cats were peering into the basement... yes Molly was laying as if dead at the bottom of the basement stairs!!!!
I screamed and Bob came running and we both ran downstairs as Molly popped her head up and said "WTF?!"

Then Bob carried up the stairs just like Rhett Butler and Scarlett O'Hara...

She has spent the day toddling around as if nothing happened.
Bob said it was like she had a chiropractic adjustment and we need to toss her downstairs weekly...

(I think the cats pushed her!)


Finally, its Fall.
Sleeping with the windows open again, snuggling under quilts, tucked in with cats, leaves starting to turn, crisp apples from the orchard...
It is my favorite season.
The horrid summer is over!!!
I am yearning for hot chocolate and oatmeal, soups bubbling on the stove and getting to wear sweaters again.

Lately life has been getting better. The hubster is working and doing marvelously well. He has found a job where he is appreciated, his talents are being used and he is helping people. All things we had hoped for. Oh, and he gets paid too!

My job continues to be thrilling, tough, demanding, chaotic and I love every minute of it. I have switched over completely to full time therapist now. I have 5 teenagers on my caseload... quite different from the scads of elementary school boys I had last year! I have clients in neighboring counties and spend a day or two a week out of town. I like that though. The drive is nice, it gives me time to reflect and mull over things while driving down country roads past horses and cows.

Molly Dawg continues to confound us. She is still hanging in there with more good days than bad. So we celebrate each one as it comes.

Also Dennis the fish is swimming strong. I thought about getting him a friend, but he would probably fight it, so I just let him have a mirror and he can stare at himself.
That seems enough to keep him happy!

OK, the urge is too strong, I am off to make hot chocolate, more blogging later...

Sunday, September 21, 2008


We are spending time with Molly but she sleeps a lot lately. She is hanging in there, stubborn as I am.
Its a waiting game really.

I have been thinking about waiting. I have a dear friend who is pregnant and I think about her waiting for the baby to arrive. It isn't always pleasant, there is morning sickness, aches and pains as ligaments and joints stretch and reshape to accommodate the growing child. The end result will be worth the wait, but the journey itself is trying at times.

So how does this relate to watching a beloved pet die?
I am not sure. I am grappling with that connection.
There are painful moments balanced by joyous moments. There are times when I realize that having Molly in our lives has been worth every moment of our discomfort. That the love she brings into our home far out weighs any suffering we endure. And in turn I want to grant her mercy from her suffering. I willingly take on the emotional pain to spare her physical pain. It is the least I can do for her.

I know my friend would take on any amount of pain for her child. Or her husband or her friends. She is generous to a fault. She is going to be a doctor and is sitting out a semester of her 3rd year to have her baby. She blogs about waiting. At times she is impatient and wants to hurry the process. At times she slows down and lives in the moment. She is an example for me, a touchstone of reality and hope. She reminds me that life, amazing and complex, doesn't stop, but continues in mysterious and magic ways. That miracles happen and love never ends.

We just have to wait for it some times.

Thanks Katie for the reminders.

Friends of the heart.

Today after a long absence I went to church.
Now God and I talk all the time... I natter on constantly and God patiently listens and listens and listens.
But sometimes I need a format for my faith, I need to be surrounded by people who think like me, who see God everywhere, who live their faith so well they don't have to talk about it.

So after some urging of a friend and colleague I went to church. A new church peopled with old friends. A few years back the church I attended fell apart. These things happen, I know. Politics and religion and faith get confused and people get hurt. Things get said that can't be unsaid, feelings are hurt, people come and go, some stay, some don't...
The church I went to was for a while, a home for me. I tend to wander religiously. I grew up Baptist, stopped for awhile, became Catholic, attended an African American Presbyterian church in NYC, went back to being Catholic, tried some other churches, and finally landed for awhile in an Episcopal church where there were Baptist hymns, mandolins, labyrinths and an amazing sense of the Holy Spirit. I, who never joined groups, joined groups, spoke in front of a crowd, was elected to the Vestry and loved every minute of it. Until it ended. Then I picked up and moved on. It has taken awhile to get in the groove of going to church again. I saw too many people I loved hurt by the shake up in administration. Priests left, people were fired, harsh words were said and sides were taken while many, many tears were shed...
And some wondered where was God in all this? That's just the thing, God was there, we were the ones running around frantic, hurting and blaming. We the humans were the ones hurting each other. So I took a break from the humans. Luckily God sticks around no matter what, He hangs out in my car, my home, my heart. I can tap into God whenever, wherever, but the friends, they are not so easy...
A lot have gone elsewhere, some here in town, some out of town. I had been traveling about 40 minutes away to go to church near the Retreat Center. But w/ the price of gas and our current money saving tactics, I decided to look closer to home. So I went to a place where I knew a few people. It was lovely.
I saw friends who had a place in my heart forever and always. One of my dearest friends was the chalice bearer and served me communion. I got hugs and gave hugs. I reconnected. I stayed for Sunday school after the service. We had it on the porch under the trees, talking as the wind blew gently and the birds sang.
It was good to be back. To see friends, to pray in a group, to sing, to be silent, to take communion.
I am a prodigal daughter and I am back...
Just let the calf live!

Sunday, September 14, 2008


I spent the past week in training, learning new therapy techniques to teach parents and to work with kids. It was all about attachment; forming a bond, healing a relationship.
In other words the best thing you can ever give a child is love.

No amount of "things" can replace what only 5 minutes of concentrated positive parent/child time gives a child.

We learned that even with babies, spending time with them, imitating their expressions, acting as a mirror, cooing when they coo, laughing when they laugh, smiling when they smile, will increase the bond and make them mentally healthier babies.

With smaller children spending 5 minutes a day in "special play time" where the parent describes what the child is doing; "you are building a tower with the blue blocks" you are making the bear dance!" and adding labeled praise "I like how gentle you are with the bear!" "You are so creative" shows the child that you are focused on them, and tuned in to them. Also only positive behaviors are rewarded. Negative behaviors are totally ignored. TOTALLY IGNORED! That's a tough one~ when a child is screaming, hitting, kicking and even cussing, the parent ignores it, but when they finally show a positive behavior, like sitting quietly, the parent praises the child and then moves on...

This actually reminded me a lot of the Dog Whisperer! Cesar works with "bad" dogs with much the same techniques. It all goes back to basic psychology: stimulus / response.
You reinforce the behaviors you want to see more of! So you don't reward a child when they are misbehaving by giving them ANY attention whatsoever! Because this will reinforce the "If I am whining, eventually I will get a toy to shut up!"

Its a pretty basic but incredibly tough concept to put into action. As humans we are programmed to nurture. When a baby cries or seems distressed we want to take care of him/her. But a toddler learns that if they cry long enough they can get candy, things, attention which they equate with love, if the love isn't given in a positive manner...

I think the toughest job in the world is parenting. You have to provide enduring, unconditional love, but you also have to set limits, boundaries and rules and enforce all those even when your heart is breaking. I admire everyone who does it well.

I was blessed that I had great parents, and wonderful older siblings who gave me both roots and wings. My older sibs have incredible children who are now raising even more incredible, amazing, beautiful children, my "greats" as I call them. The greats have a solid foundation of love. They will know what attachment is all about. (My greats will never end up on my caseload)

Good job, sibs, neices and nephew, good job greats. I love you all.

Friday, September 12, 2008

LIfe in general

This week has been OK.
Molly is having more good days than bad. Bob found a job, passed his licensing exam and will be working for the Duck...
I have been in training all week, learning new therapy techniques and meeting people from Texas, Michigan and other agencies.

And its feeling like fall. The air is cool, we had a beautiful thunderstorm and I think I saw leaves starting to change.

I am glad summer is leaving. I am not a fan of summer. I don't like the heat, the humidity, the mosquitoes, pretty much everything. I am an Autumn person. I like the cooling off, the excitement of putting on a sweater, that first cup of hot chocolate, the crunch of leaves under my feet, the apples that are tart and crisp, pumpkins, making chili and soup, the adding a quilt to the bed and best of all, turning off the A/C and sleeping with the windows open again!
Even when its raining...

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Molly Dawg update

Molly continues to decline day after day. We have had "the talk" with her vet: quality of life vs. quantity. We are keeping her comfortable and taking it day by day.

Its hard making the decision, but we have decided to euthanize her soon. We just haven't decided the exact time or day. There comes a strange peace with having made the decision. An acceptance. I know that it will hurt me to let her go. I know that it is best for her, to free her from a failing body, from legs that can no longer bear her weight, take her around the block or even around the yard. I know that she will never be sick again, never feel misery or suffer in any way. But I don't want her to go. I am selfish like that. I want to hang on to my dog. My funny goofy olden golden.
I spend the days remembering the time we have shared. It has only been 4 years. Not nearly enough. I knew that taking in an old dog would have its risks. I knew she would break my heart. I gladly let her.

From the moment I first laid eyes on Molly Dawg, it was love. She was the calm in the midst of chaos, the only quiet dog at the Humane Society. She was sitting there dignified and regal while all around her the hounds barked and yipped, snarled and howled. She seemed to be waiting for me. When I approached her cage, she came forward, licked my hand and sat down grinning her big old goofy golden grin, as if to say "What took you so long?"

I don't want her to have to ask that question a second time. I just hope and pray that I don't hold on too long and make her suffer. I hope I will know when she is ready to go.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Today's 10 gratitudes

1: A good vet visit w/ Molly~ a little more time w/ our dawg.
2: My family
3: Coffee
4: Lower gas prices
5: Fewer hot flashes
6: Cute shoes
7: Cooler temperatures
8: More cases at work
9: Hearing from Jill and Do Do~ two long lost friends!
10: Waking up to birds singing.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Monday's 10

I am grateful for:
old friends
my hubster
well written books
the smell of newly mown hay
big salty tears
belly laughs
the years of love from creatures great and small...


Its been a couple of rough weeks. Lots of stress, tears, and anxiety.
Yup, and I am a therapist! Proving that even if we have the knowledge, we are still human, fallible and vulnerable to life's whimsy.

The husbster is doing well, out interviewing, studying, looking for a new career. I am proud of him. He is ready to take a risk at happiness. He is brave and strong and my hero today. He is my best friend and I love him so insanely that its hard to believe we have been married for over 19 years. He still makes me laugh through my tears, he's the hand holding mine in the darkness, the one who sees the worst of me and loves me anyway. I thank God for him...

That is what I am trying to do this week, count my blessings. The clinicians were sitting around one day talking about various techniques we use with our clients and several mentioned the "attitude of gratitude". I am ashamed to say I had forgotten to use that myself lately. I now try to list 10 things daily for which I am grateful.
It is my way of keeping the darkness out of my soul.

I also have had the chance to reconnect with old friends lately. I spent yesterday with three of my best loved former co-workers. Two worked with me at the same time )the vet and the tech), and third will be working w/ the vet very soon. It is a lovely weave in the tapestry of my life. My old friends meeting my newer friends and forming a bridge of friendship that includes me somewhere in the mix! It made me grateful to be surrounded by such loving and true friends. To sit and share stories and laughter, to remember the fun times in a hard business. To recall beautiful animals we had loved and lost. The visit ended all too soon...

Molly dawg continues to hang on, stubborn like her momma. I feel in my bones that something is going on other than just arthritis. Her appetite decreases, her sleep lenghtens and deepens, and my heart grows heavier knowing that my time with her is coming to an end. I am grieving already. The hubster points out that once again, I am sneaking a peek at the end of the book, reading the final pages before its time. Its how I am. I am never good at waiting. I hate surprises. I hate the unknown. I want to know and own a situation. Yes, I do have control issues...
God and I wrangle over this all the time. I forget to get out of His way a lot.
For now I just want Molly dawg comfortable and pain free...

I had the opportunity to spend time alone this weekend, just listening to music, to nature, to silence, driving around by myself, in the lush greenness of KY, and it helped. After being around people so much, listening to them, counseling them, I realize, once again, I NEED time by myself. Alone. I love people, I always have. I love listening to their stories, figuring out what makes them tick, who they are, what they do and why. But it takes an enormous amount of energy from me. In order to recharge, I need to go off by myself. To listen to silence. To let all the pain and hurt and tears of others drain from me, back into the earth, back into the universal pool, back to God. It is in the silence that I find healing. In the quiet I find solace and strength. I can understand why Christ went to the desert. I can understand why holy people go to the mountains. I understand why religious orders cloister themselves. There comes a time when the world is too much. When the burdens are too heavy for us humans alone. When we need to be still and listen. "Be still and know that I am God".
The world is a noisy place, busy, filled with "have to do this" and rushing and plans.
So busy and hurried, we forget who we are and whose we are...
I am grateful for the chance to remember.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

10 things that make me smile

1. Cows licking their noses
2. Children with the giggles
3. Waking up in the middle of the night to find that I am holding hands with my husband
4. A new box of crayons
5. Clean sheets (the smell as well as the crisp feel)
6. Finding old friends online
7. Peas
8. A new toothbrush
9. A great haircut (at last!)
10. My sister's voice on my answering machine

Anticipatory Grieving

I am watching Molly Dawg slow down like a clock winding down, ticking slower and slower...
Molly is sleeping more, a heavy peaceful sleep aided by the fact she is pretty much deaf now.
She still is enjoying her food as well as the cats' food when she can sneak it. But she no longer chews her chewies or wants to walk long distances. She has been having a few accidents in the house as well. She is an old, old lady.
I don't mind cleaning up after her. I long ago decided my furry friends were more important than my material possessions. I just hate so much to see her aging so rapidly.
Dogs are very different from cats. They age at a much faster rate, and are not as good at hiding things like cats are. Cats are rather stoic and secretive, often much more ill than they ever let on, but dogs, dogs are honest and authentic. They are what they are, nothing more, nothing less.
Molly is still having more good days than bad. She is not suffering. She still seems comfortable and happy. But I know that my time with her is getting shorter. I may have a year, or several months left, but I know in my bones that all too soon, I will have to let her go.
Tomorrow though, I will call her Dr. and see if there is any other medication to help her arthritis. Maybe if I can get the creaky bones to not creak so much she will feel a bit better and thus so will I!


I got to hang out with cows this past weekend...
I helped a friend move to her grandparents' farm and spent the night.
It was lovely there.
Far off the road, no traffic noise, no street lights, no sirens or people shouting.
There was the sound of night birds, the lowing of cattle and an occasional yipping coyote. The night was dark and calm with the scent of hay and dew.
A thin haze washed over the stars as the moon played peekaboo with me.
I slept without dreaming, arose to a beautiful sunrise and watched wild turkeys cross the pasture following the horse and cows as they slowly grazed their way to the pond.
Later after eating a homemade walnut and chocolate chip muffin, I sat beneath a huge juniper tree in a swing with my friends and laughed and talked until noon.
Somewhere in there I also read a book cover to cover.
It was the respite I needed to start over again, to pick up where I left off and go back to work, renewed and rested.
Thanks Alycat.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Ending on a good note.

It was a not so good, terrible, horrible, plain out and out hellish week. It started with the death of Gypsy Lu, a beautiful dog friend of mine and continued to go downhill from there.
The client who shoved me continued to escalate each time I have worked with him, until this week when he had a complete meltdown into a raging tantrum, in my car, which involved pulling my hair, kicking, hitting, scratching, and throwing stuff... but I somehow, by the grace of God and a lot of determination, got him safely to school. However I was in tears and a bit shaken by the incident. Needless to say, I will not be transporting him again! But I will work with him in school from now on as he is just a frightened kid.
The worst news is that the hubster got fired, downsized, laid off~ whatever the correct term is when a company can no longer afford to keep staff due to these economic times.
It has taken us both by surprise and we have been riding a roller coaster of emotions.
I haven't cried this much in forever.
It came as a shock to both of us, the hubs has been w/ his company 10 years, has been loyal to the point of knighthood (in my opinion) and has worked long hours and given 110% but that didn't stand up against the red ink, I suppose. I am angry, sad, bitter and scared for him and us. But I have faith it will work out to be an opportunity for him in the end.

On a brighter note, the week did end with a miracle. My former co-worker and ongoing friend, Libby gave birth yesterday to her son Shaun (like Shaun of the Dead, seriously, they got a thing for zombies!) and both Mom and Dad and new beebee are fine and happy and just gorgeous. I managed to get over to see them and join Alycat and Katie for a quick snorglefest w/ the babby. Seeing a newborn, all sweet smelling, innocent, full of potential, surrounded by a circle of love proves to me there is hope, there is life, a chance to start over, begin again and so many possibilities where love abides...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Princess Gyspy Lu

It is another sad day. One of Molly Dawg's Cedar Hill pack has gone to the Rainbow Bridge. Princess Gypsy Lu, a petite border collie mix, died yesterday morning after being hit by a car in the early dawn light.

Gypsy Lu was a sweet, dainty dog. She was one of the most loving creatures I have known. Gypsy and I often shared a bed at Cedar Hill Retreat. I would wake up on the edge because the Princess couldn't sleep long ways, she had to sleep cross ways and in the middle, with her tiny toes nudging me until I gave her enough room! Gypsy also was dainty in taking treats. The rest of the pack would wolf down their rolls, biscuits or whatever I offered them, but Gypsy would carry hers a few feet away and nibble it.

Gypsy loved to run. She would often lead the pack on chase. She and Mary (I called her the handmaiden to Gypsy's regal Princess) would just fly, skimming the ground, two tiny ladies in the front of the large gangly male dogs, graceful and quick, off to catch whatever had incited the hunt this time.

I remember the time Gypsy had spent the night trying to dig out a raccoon, she returned caked in mud, nose scratched, absolutely filthy, marched in very proud and plopped herself in the recliner at the Retreat Center as if to say "What? Brush me servant!"

Gypsy got tagged once by the hubster as he drove up the hill and she avoided cars for quite a few months after that. But the lure of the hunt proved too much. She learned to open the pet door and slipped out yesterday morning before the sun was up, when the dew was still on the grass, and before the night creatures where abed for the day. The primal instincts could not be ignored and Gypsy flew down the hill, across the creek and into the path of a car and immediately crossed the Rainbow Bridge.
Run free Gypsy. Enjoy Heaven's hunting. We will see you anon...


Its a small small world...
Alycat is going to work at a Cat Clinic where an awesome vet friend of mine is one of the docs. They didn't know each other before her move South to her family farm, but now they are working together!!!
Two of my most favorite peeps who have known and loved and cared for my meeps are going to be team mates. How cool is that????
OK, maybe I attemped a small bit of professional veterinary matchmaking, but really, God worked out the details!

more pics from a year ago

One year ago this week...

A year ago I was in Colorado with my family. My big bro (BB2) gave me a great gift of flying me and the hubster out to his lodge for a week. My friends watched the fur faces and I had the best vacation ever...
here are a few pics from that time. More will come...

Friday, August 15, 2008

Out of my comfort zone

My supervisor wanted me to take on some harder cases to "get out of the comfort zone".
I am out of it by a long way...
For example:

* I called the police on a domestic violence incident and now the family is mad at me because I made trouble...

* I have been pushed and shoved by a therapy client

* I am the person referring a kiddo to a year long residential program because of the severity of kiddo's problems...

*I was in a residence w/ an angry parent (angry at me) out the back door: 2 pit bulls, out the front door, angrier significant other, stomping around me, angry parent, I held my keys and phone, said my say, noted the window exits and got out ASAP.

I go to a high school to check out a client, and a cop is sitting in the lobby. This is apparently his job...

Ah the life of a social worker...

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Prayers for Alycat

My dear friend Alycat is having a surgical procedure tomorrow. Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers.

I just hope they let her bring her gall bladder home in a pickle jar!

Entrances and Exits

This past week brought about some interesting events. My uncle Marion died after a long battle (actually battle #4) with cancer. And an old theater friend became the mother of twins.

As people leave the world, others enter. And as people enter life others leave. Its the symmetry of the universe. Life and death balancing each other. Mirroring one another. On this side Death is an exit, but in Heaven it becomes an entrance. Birth is an entrance into the world, but an exit from the safety of the womb. It really is a matter of perspective, I suppose: Whether we are coming or going. Arriving at or leaving our destinations.

Maybe its really about the journey though, and not our entrances and exits at all.