Friday, November 29, 2013

“We love the things we love for what they are.”

“I have to see a thing a thousand times before I see it once.”
― Thomas Wolfe, You Can't Go Home Again     

Our family traveled into the big city today. We toured 
The National Museum of American History: Kenneth E. Behring Center where they collect display and  preserve the heritage of the United States.  Exhibits range in areas from social, political and cultural events to scientific and military history. Instead of participating in the post holiday shopping madness we decided to enjoy our Metro adventure and educational journey.  My loved ones hardly suspected  the joy of lovingly etching the memory of the moment in my mind. It was thrilling to be at the museum with them and indulge in one of my all time favorite activities, observing the human zoo.
     Unfortunately, our family is spread out across the country and it's very rare that all of us can be together. We had to Skype with my niece and nephew for our pre-Bingo bash pep talk. (Love you Bri and Drew) One of my brothers misses most of our holiday festivities because he works in retail. After Thanksgiving dinner we played Bingo for prizes instead of preparing for Black Friday like most American families. My sisters, brothers and sisters-in-law choose the most amazing and thoughtful gifts for all of us. Krissy planned and prepared a fabulous meal. (Thank you, Les and Laurie for my journal, book and so much more.)  Love you! The night before Thanksgiving we played a board game called Smart Ass and never laughed so hard in my life at some of the answers our family blurts out. Although we all have our moments when we watch a football game or play on our computers and cell phones, we don't let it interfere with our quality family time.
      Growing older, nieces and nephews slowly reach adulthood before my eyes, memories are cherished. Call it cliche but the holidays when we gather together recreating our history, laughing, sharing food and drinks are treasured beyond anything you could possibly purchase at a store. As the years pass there is a careful awareness of intricate details and subtle nuances and like a beautifully preserved museum portrait, family becomes more precious and fascinating. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

"Look what happens with a love like that. It lights the whole sky...."

"Claudia:  You don't know the first thing about me.
Joanne:  Likewise, I'm sure. If I just met you on the street... if you gave me your phone number... I'd throw it away.
Claudia:  Well, we don't have to like each other, Jo. We're family."
                                                                        Home for the Holidays-

     Happy Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgivukkah. As we gather together with our loved ones this week, please remember you can get away with saying almost anything at the dinner table when you put the phrase, " With all due respect"  in front of it.
     "With all due respect, Aunt Marie you need to wax that mustache if you ever expect to find a husband."
     Speaking of  respect, depending on your family dynamic, there are certain topics of conversation you may want to avoid  due to their highly controversial nature such as religion, politics, gun control and your sex life . Unless you are on a personal vendetta or quest for provocation, discuss these topics privately. Don't be a ( pardon my French) douche bag Royal when your family is gathered together for the sole purpose of being grateful otherwise the only thing they will be thankful for is your absence. Please be mindful of all the employees working during the holidays if you are out and about. They would like to be home with their families too.

 Most importantly, and we are all guilty of this but won't admit it, don't judge and second guess your family members personal life choices. The couple without children is extremely happy despite what you may project onto them. Your single uncle isn't secretly gay. Grandma doesn't want your pity, she wants you to accept, love and respect the wisdom she has to offer. Remember to be grateful that you  have  family to share a meal.  Even though we may not always agree or approve of another person's opinions or lifestyle, make a sincere effort to look deep in your heart with compassion and understanding. With all due respect, no one is perfect.

 Be thankful for shared memories, laughter, comfort and good food. Honor a memory with love.  Appreciate your good fortune.

  please follow the link below

Love and peace to all.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

"It is the story that matters not just the ending....."

“WHEN you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep.”
― W.B. Yeats, The Collected Poems     

     November is Adopt-A-Senior Pet Month. Senior pets are amazing and deserve a special home to live out their remaining years. What can you expect from adopting a senior dog or cat?  During the month of November  most shelters and rescues are reducing adoption costs or waiving fees all together. Most senior animals have already lived in a home where unfortunately owners had to surrender or give them up due to financial or relocation issues. House trained, senior pets won't chew, bark or scratch every thing in your home.

 Older pets are playful yet quiet and calm with fully developed personalities. Older dogs will understand commands and greet strangers appropriately on your daily walks. Ready to be loved again, they will give back more than you know. Imagine a senior dog or cat as part of your family joining you for the holiday festivities. Even better, just think of how much affection and gratitude a senior pet will feel for the humans allowing them to live out their golden years in peace and comfort. 

It's true that many people are reluctant to adopt senior pets due to potential veterinary costs. Be honest with the shelter and discuss the history of the pet with your vet. Quality of life in senior pets is just as important as any other time. Most senior animals are healthy and have plenty of energy. Let them bring greater meaning and quality to your life. Give thanks for the love and loyalty of animals this holiday. For more information about where to find a senior pet in your area check out petfinder &

If you are unable to adopt a dog or cat in November consider donating to your local shelter or volunteering at a rescue. To learn more about controlling the pet population in the US click on the link below.

Monday, November 18, 2013

"all dreams spin out from the web of life....."

 " For we did not weave the web of life.
We are merely a strand in it.
Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
Let us give thanks for the web and the circle that connects us.
  — Chief Seattle,

       My mother had a great appreciation and love for Native American history and culture. At four or five years of age I recall being completely captivated by gigantic glossy photographs in beautifully bound books outlining North American tribes, locations and customs. Mom was proud of her Choctaw heritage on my grandfathers side. The same blood which warmly ran through her veins, now rushes through me and flows through my brothers and sisters. We have lovingly embraced her unique qualities and calm demeanor. We see with her piercing eyes, we share her profile, her gentle smile and  move with the womanly curve of her hips. We hear her laughter and the sound of her voice when we sing. We feel the caressing clasp of her hand when we dance. We feel her breathe renewed hope into our weary lungs after the cruel world knocks out the wind. We have been softly spun from her delicate web of life.

     My entire childhood was spent absorbed with wanting to learn. There was a voracious appetite for attempting to unravel the fascinating mysteries of human existence- religion, philosophy, our planet and the universe were subjects I wanted to know- needed to know. Both of my parents and older siblings created an environment that fostered a love of reading and curiosity. Having access to libraries, diverse literature, three sets of encyclopedias and an unrestricted tolerance of evolving ideas is an experience I'm beyond grateful for having early in my life.

  Upon discovering the following poem by Native American poet Mary Tall Mountain it reminded me that our mother's web of love lives on inside all of us, forever connecting my brothers and sisters. The poem is dedicated to all of those who have lost a loved one much too soon. Look inside your heart. Remember, we're held together by the greatest everlasting bond and in many cultures and languages in the world,  "There is No Word for Goodbye"    

“There Is No Word for Goodbye” 
  by  Mary Tall Mountain from The Light on the Wall.
Sokoya, I said, looking through
the net of wrinkles into the
wise black pools of her eyes.
What do you say in Athabascan
when you leave each other?
What is the word
for goodbye?
A shade of feeling rippled  
the wind-tanned skin.
Ah, nothing, she said,
watching the river flash.

She looked at me close.
We just say, Tlaa. That means,
"See you."
We never leave each other.
When does your mouth
say goodbye to your heart?
She touched me light
as a bluebell.
You forget when you leave us;
you're so small then.
We don't use that word.
 We always think you're coming back,
but if you don't,
we'll see you some place else.
You understand.
There is no word for goodbye.

-with love, peace and gratefulness that we will share  our Thanksgiving together.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

" It's the only gift that you have...right now."

"We so rarely look at the sky. We so rarely note how different it is from moment to moment, with clouds coming and going."-Brother David Steindl-Rast


      While researching an article about expressing thankfulness I discovered Louie Schwartzberg's breath-taking film, Gratitude.  The video alone is an extraordinary gift. So I want to give my family, my friends and any one who reads this an amazing present, right now. Please, please take a few moments out of your busy schedule, rushing around, talking, texting, planning, being frantic from our fast paced life and be still. Put down the cell phone, stop what you're doing on your computer or at your desk. After you watch the video go outside (weather permitting ) and just stare up at the sky." Look at the sky. We so rarely look at the sky.."   Appreciate all the beauty that surrounds you. Remind yourself what a good day really is...
Thank you.

 All the ways I love you.....

Sunday, November 10, 2013

“The whole world can become the enemy when you lose what you love......”

   “That is what death is like. It doesn't matter what uniforms the soldiers are wearing. It doesn't matter how good the weapons are. I thought if everyone could see what I saw, we would never have war anymore.”
― Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close     
   On Veterans Day, November 11th,  please take time to sincerely reflect on the sacrifices that are being made and have been made by our military and intelligence communities at home and abroad. Be thankful for the life you lead as a United States citizen. Show your gratitude for those who love their own country enough to make the ultimate sacrifice.  Author C.K Chesterton once wrote -“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”  We protect what we love. Contemplation on that statement alone is intensely profound.

    Although I've never experienced combat or fought in battle I am certainly indebted to those brave men and women who protect our freedoms. Understand this, there are many countries in the world where I would be arrested and thrown in jail for writing or saying some of the things I take for granted every day. In many countries women are denied the most basic human dignities. Women are denied the right to vote, have a career, own property or manage money, choose or use any form of birth control, select who they marry, walk the streets without a man , attend school, drive a vehicle or even reveal their faces in public. In some countries their citizens aren't allowed to openly protest or criticize their own government, read controversial books or literature, be openly gay or practice their own religious beliefs. In many countries parents force their own children to work fourteen hours or more a day to buy food and necessities. These children never attend school and some girls are sold or married off to men twice their age.
 So the next time you are sitting comfortably in front of your big screen TV, inside your expensive homes with your overflowing pantry shelves and whine about your cell phones, cable bill or used car, put your life in perspective. Be truly thankful. We must all be thankful.

 Below is a link to an article I wrote expressing my gratitude for a few outstanding veterans organizations that continue to transform the lives of millions of veterans and civilians:

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

"animals may be different from us, this does not make them LESS than us...."

“When animals express their feelings they pour out like water from a spout. Animals' emotions are raw, unfiltered, and uncontrolled. Their joy is the purest and most contagious of joys and their grief the deepest and most devastating. Their passions bring us to our knees in delight and sorrow.”
― Marc Bekoff, The Emotional Lives of Animals: A Leading Scientist Explores Animal Joy, Sorrow, and Empathy - and Why They Matter     

          Tragic news. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has officially listed
 Africa's western black rhino extinct. Unbelievably tragic, because this was entirely preventable by humanity. The announcement was made following the latest review of animals and plants by the world's largest conservation network. The IUCN  also warned that other rhinos  are in critical danger including Africa's northern white rhino which is "teetering on the brink of extinction" and Asia's Javan rhino, fighting for life due to continued poaching and lack of conservation. We don't care and if we do, we aren't doing enough.

      The causes of animal poaching are a widely open topic but greed tops the list. Animal poaching occurs when illegal hunters seek out and kill endangered animals or animals that could be in a protected area. The majority of illegal hunters do it strictly for money. It's seen as a business venture similar to trading stock or buying real estate. The selling of illegal animal products around the world profits somewhere in the high millions if not billions.  A few hunters may kill for the ‘thrill’ or ‘fun’ involved where others poach for the products themselves.

     The effect that poaching has reaches far past the animals that are hunted, but the surrounding areas and animals as well. Having a non-natural food chain link added into a wildlife food supply is a huge issue of survival for other animals. Poaching is causing animals that have been in the world for thousands and thousands of years to become endangered and now extinct. There are not enough of these animals to reproduce and they lack food to survive. The animals at the top of the food chain rely on the animals at the lower end. They are dying of starvation because of human beings. Do you think this doesn't effect us?
 With illegal animal poaching comes the illegal animal trade. Gangs, drugs, illegal firearms are introduced to these areas or control and manipulate the surrounding population. They are nothing more than warlords.  Radical animal poachers as well as illegal buyers are ruthless and heavily armed people. In many cases, local villagers are too scared to speak out in fear for their own lives. The video above Poaching Wars is the first part of a two part documentary filmed in Africa earlier this year.(both parts one and two can be seen in their entirety on We follow compassionate British actor Tom Hardy, who narrates the unflinching  reality of  impassioned conservationists, wildlife experts and those brave enough to stand against illegal poachers.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

“You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.”

““Each one has to find his peace from within. And peace to be real must be unaffected by outside circumstances.”      
Mahatma Gandhi
Where did the popular internet meme, "Keep Calm and Carry On." originate? According to historians,  1939 in preparation for massive enemy air attacks, it was supposedly used by the British as pre-World War II motivational poster propaganda.
Simple, effective and truthful. When there are metaphorical shit bombs being dropped on you every day at work or crapostrophic missiles fired at you from family and friends, what can you do? As the father of Taoism, Lao Tsu once observed, “The best fighter is never angry.”  Can you be a loving, kind and compassionate being when you are full of rage or hatred? We are all fighters.   Either we choose to spend our entire time on the earth angry, upset, bitter, resentful and full of vengeful meanness towards others or we can face fear, keep calm and get on with the business of our own life. How long are you going to let other people control your happiness? Stop giving away your power.

 First, you need to recognize how much control  you do have over a situation. If circumstances are out of your control such as another's emotions, beliefs or attitudes, you must change your own perspective. You can't truly control another's mind any more than you can control the weather. When thunderstorms come thirsty flowers begin to bloom.  Get your raincoat, grab your umbrella splash in the puddles, dance- sing in the raindrops as Gene Kelly. Keep calm and carry on.

 When you allow others to treat you unfairly, question your morals or belittle your judgment you are giving them permission to hurt you. Before you react with anger or tears, stop yourself. Examine why you're feeling the way you do. Most importantly, why is someone threatening you or making you feel unworthy? Power, greed and control reveal a person's arrogance and excessive abuse of manipulation. However, the most powerful among us remain understanding, empathetic, confident and secure. Calm, peaceful people don't viciously degrade, attack or persecute any one or any thing to find their own sense of peace- their own power. So stop. Take a deep breath and examine all motives. As a great Zen philosopher once stated if you, "Don't start none, won't be none.".                           Keep calm and carry on.

for more ways to KEEP CALM follow the link below........