Friday, December 28, 2012

My Way of Thinking: Reflections on 2012

Here we are, the end of another year.  Did we end 2012 with hope?  Did we survive the challenges that every year brings?  If you are reading this, I am confident that you survived.  But, I know it was not an easy year for some of us.  Some had to say goodbye to loved ones.  Some had to end relationships that seemed so hopeful.  Some suffered through illnesses and disabilities.  Yet, here we are.  We have survived to fight another day.
2012 was good to me and my family.  We even added a new member, Bella our kitty.  2011 was full of drama for us.  My being hit by a car, and Jon nearly dying from a bleeding ulcer that required two emergency surgeries.  We tried three times to bring another animal into our home, but something always got in our way.
But, 2012 was the opposite.  It seems that nearly everything went our way.  We got 110 adoptions for shelter dogs this year.  I went back to school for my Master's in Psychology.  I got to counsel a lot of people in need through Well in the Desert (a remarkable organization that helps those in need).  I saw people's lives transformed.  I saw MY life transformed through the lives of people I was blessed to know.  I watched people's lives change through the love of a four legged friend.  I saw love in it's purest form.
One of my greatest blessings was my ongoing relationship with friends on Facebook.  Say what you will about social media, Facebook has been a blessing to me.  I have met some fb friends in the flesh, but most I will only know through writing.  That's okay.  I believe that sometimes we are at our most honest when we share our feelings through the written word.  I love the phone calls too.  Hearing the voice of a pen pal is wonderful.
2012 was a fabulous year for me and my family, Jon, Roxy, Charlie, and Bella.  I thank you all for being a part of it.  Through this blog I have made friends all over the world.  I stand in awe.  I pray there will be many more posts to come.
Happy New Year!  May 2013 be a year of peace and joy.  And when challenges come your way, may you have the strength to face them and grow.
                                       Peace and Love.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My Way of Thinking: Pet Responsibilities

It has been on my mind for quite some time that we have some big responsibilities when it comes to our beloved furry family members.  Not only are we responsible for their daily care, like food, water, walks, etc.  We are also responsible for making sure of their well being in the event that anything should happen to us.  Here are a few things to think about.

Jon and I each keep a card in our wallets from the ASPCA that says we have pets at home.  On the card we have listed the number of a close friend and our apartment manager.  That way they would be alerted that we are unable to attend to our "kids" needs and they would step in and offer temporary assistance.  We also have a sign in our window to let fire or police personnel know that there are animals inside.

In 2011, after I was hit by a car and Jon came very close to death and spent a month in the hospital, we realized how tenuous life can be.  We modified our wills to, not only provide for our kids financially, but to designate someone who will see to it that the finances will be used in the way we specified.  It ended up being a full extra page added to our existing Wills.  But we now have the peace of mind knowing that, should catastrophe strike, the animals would be taken care of.

One other very important responsibility is to always maintain an emergency fund for veterinary costs.  You just never know and if disaster strikes you don't want to be caught unprepared.  Especially in these uncertain economic times, it is important to insure that we have something set aside that we hold sacred.  Even if we were starving, we would never touch this fund.  We have it in a separate account so we aren't tempted to use it for anything else.

Lastly, you need to be prepared for the eventual passing of your dear ones.  We have chosen cremation, but regardless of your personal choice in that regard, it is a good idea to know what service you will be using and to make prearrangement just as you would for yourself.  A time of grief is not a good time to make those decisions.  All we will have to do is make that dreaded phone call.

This is all just food for thought but I wanted to share my thoughts on these matters.

                                     Peace and Love,



Monday, October 22, 2012

My Way of Thinking: Miss Parker

In 1997 we were living in Key West,Florida.  Jon had suffered a major seizure and had lost his short term memory.  After nearly a month in the hospital, he came home to me and Mommee the cat.  I was working and he desperately needed someone to take care of him and occupy his mind.  Being me, I thought a dog might just be the therapy the doctors failed to order.

It was pouring down buckets of rain the one day I had to take the trip to the animal shelter on Stock Island.  I got a cab and forged ahead.  Once at the shelter I was admitted to the kennel area.  There was a handsome male dalmatian in the first cage but he didn't seem to love me so I moved on to cage number two.  There I saw a sign that read, "I only have three days to live.  Please take me home."  Inside was another dalmatian.  This time it was a spayed female, 2 years old.  I could hardly breathe.  She was beautiful.  I put my fingers through the chain link and she licked them.  I looked no further.  I paid the money, signed the papers,  promised to get her a rabies shot immediately, bought a collar and a leash, and met a nice lady who offered us a ride home.  I named her Miss Parker after a TV character on a show called "The Pretender".  She rode home in my lap knowing she was safe at last.

Jon loved her on sight.  Mommee didn't quite feel the same and left the house in a kitty huff.  After three days Mommee decided to come home and put up with her new big sister.  They became best friends after only a few days.  Such was the magic of Miss Parker.  Jon fed her, walked her, bathed her, and gave her all his love.  Funny thing was, she was always MY dog.  The bond had been established with that lick through chain link.  When Jon asked her if she wanted to go for a walk she would be excited.  When he said," Do you want to go see Austin?" she went crazy.  I worked across the street and they visited often.  Occasionally she escaped and came to visit me at the restaurant where I was waiting tables at the most inopportune times, like in the middle of dinner rush.  I would excuse myself and run her back across the street.  It was a very happy and fun time.

1998 came and by September we were a very solid family.  Jon, Mommee, Miss Parker, and me.  But then Hurricane Georges decided to come our way.  Jon and I were forced to flee to Daytona (a story in itself) but our next door neighbor refused to leave.  He offered to check in on our animals so we left them in our mobile home.  While we were away, the hurricane made a direct hit on Key West.  A giant tree fell into our home and literally cut it in half.  Miss Parker was killed.  Mommee survived.  We came back home to find everything destroyed but the only thing that mattered was our girl.  I grieve for her to this day.

We left Key West and returned to California.  It took us a long time to come to terms with our loss.  But, eventually, we did.  We are stronger because of that tragedy.  I suppose that is the cliche I wish to leave you with is, "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger".  There is wisdom in those often repeated words.  Jon and I do not take anything for granted.  We try very hard to make each day count.  We love our little family a little bit extra because we know how quickly it can be gone.

                                       Peace and Love,



Sunday, August 26, 2012

My Way of Thinking: Animal Cruelty

Nala and Bruno (pictured) were cruelly poisoned with antifreeze.  Someone did this horrific thing just as they were about to be adopted into forever homes, making it all the more tragic.

I wish I could say that this was some kind of isolated event, but sadly these kinds of abuses take place every day.  We all wonder what kind of monster would harm an innocent animal.  I'm afraid we wonder in vain.  It is the same mindset of the child abuser, or the wife beater, or the murderer.  Thankfully, the vast majority of us cannot comprehend this kind of madness.

As many of you know, I have spent many years studying psychology in order to gain insight into the workings of the human mind.  I have also put in a lot of time studying animal behavior.  I am currently working on my Masters in Psychology, yet I am as confounded as anyone when it comes to understanding the aberration of cruelty for cruelty's sake.  I can list the known factors that can bring this kind of behavior to an individual's pathology, but truly understand it?  Well, not so far.  I honestly understand the workings of a dog's mind better than a human's.

I feel that, because abuse is incomprehensible, it is better to look for positive actions that can be taken to prevent or stop it, than to try to fully understand it's complexities.  For the time being, we can write, call, or petition our elected officials asking for stronger laws to punish animal abusers.  Right now in most places punishment is a slap on the wrist and a fine.  Keeping in mind that the majority of serial killers started off torturing animals, it makes sense to deter this behavior with the promise of real and severe punishment along with compulsory therapy.

In three weeks I begin an advanced class in criminal psychology.  Maybe that will finally give me more insight.  If it does, I will fill you all in.  Meanwhile, I will concentrate on positive actions like the ones I mentioned.  I find that to be the best therapy.  It helps alleviate that feeling of impotence.  Knowing that we can make a difference is comforting in the face of something that is so egregiously wrong.  And taking action with a loving and caring heart is that much more satisfying.

                                           Peace and Love,



Monday, August 20, 2012

Austin's Thoughts: My Way of Thinking: Perhaps a Rant

Austin's Thoughts: My Way of Thinking: Perhaps a Rant: Elephants outside a hotel in Africa.  This was their home among the Mango trees that sustain their mighty hunger.  They continue to come her...

My Way of Thinking: Perhaps a Rant

Elephants outside a hotel in Africa.  This was their home among the Mango trees that sustain their mighty hunger.  They continue to come here every year to feed because this is their home.  This is their birthright and the hotel accommodates them by giving them passage to exercise their freedom.  They even walk through the lobby to the delight of staff and guests alike.  Bravo hotel!  Cheers to you for recognizing that we can't just put up fences to keep creatures out.  It is a good thing to be inclusive.

I have a thing against the concept of gated communities.  The exclusivity of it all annoys me no end.  As people lock the rest of the world out, are they not also locking themselves in?  Other than the lavish homes, the security systems, the manicured lawns etc., what makes this all that different from a prison?  The people who live in this kind of environment have separated themselves from society as it exists in reality.  What possible benefit does that have for the real world.

I discern that many of these people identify themselves as being Christians.  Interesting, since Jesus never separated himself from the poor.  Maybe I read it wrong, but wasn't Jesus the supreme advocate for those in poverty.  No gated community for him.  The hypocrisies do not escape me.  The "let them eat cake" attitudes got Marie Antoinette beheaded as I recall.

We live under a system that feels that health care is something for the people who can afford it.  We call social interventions entitlements, ignoring the fact that the majority has paid for these things for everyone, not just the "entitled" few.  These things were conceived as a safety net for all.  Do some take undo advantage of this system?  You bet.  But should those who deserve to benefit from the promise of a secure old age, or help if they become disabled, or the right to take advantage of all that medical science has to offer suffer because of the machinations of the few?  Personally, I don't think so.

I firmly believe that we are here on this planet to work as a team.  It is our obligation to help those in need.  In so doing, we help ourselves as well.  Locking ourselves up in gilded cages seems to be only self centered.  Can't see a way around that assesment. 

Ok.  This was a rant from the heart.  The fortunate few will disagree, no doubt.  But if we aren't helping one another, then we are hurting one another.

MY WAY OF THINKING!  And I'm sticking to it.

                                    Peace and Love,



Monday, August 6, 2012

My Way of Thinking: A year of writingA

A whole year of writing.  Wow!  I have learned so much from my readers and friends from all over the world.  I wanted to share this picture and thought with you because this kind of takes us back to the beginning of Austin's Thoughts: My Way of Thinking.  We are all connected and the love we share makes the world a better place.  It was my intention from the first post to this one to share love with you all.  Love is so BIG!  Knowing that you are loved is so incredibly important.  It infuses our days with light, joy, and strength that we would not otherwise have.

I loved what was written on the picture above.  It reminds me that we can't define ourselves as any one thing.  We are all comprised of many things that make us who we are.  It reminds us not to separate ourselves but to join in the magnificent experience of being as one.  Compassion, understanding, empathy, all come from the knowledge that we are connected.  There is no room for emotions like anger or hate when you feel that connection.  You would be feeling that negativity towards yourself.

No one is perfect.  Don't I know it.  But the daily challenge of being better as a person, of trying to give just a little more, of sharing our love makes us stronger.  Every time we go that extra mile in the pursuit of making the world a bit more sane, we change things for ourselves and everyone around us.  It frightens some people to open their heart.  Danger comes with the territory.  You might get hurt.  But, if you don't give, you will never truly enjoy the peace of receiving.  It is worth that pain that can come with the territory.

During the past month or so, I found that my way of thinking isn't right for everyone.  I scare people because they don't know how to respond to an open heart.  All I can say is I am sorry you feel that way.  I won't change the parts of myself that bring me joy.  I will continue to share my point of view with my faithful readers all over the world.

                                            Peace and Love,



Thursday, July 26, 2012

My Way of Thinking: Drama

In the last couple of months I have been told that I am dramatic.  The picture I chose for this post is dramatic. 35 years as an actor/singer were dramatic.  Finding good homes for dogs is dramatic.Maintaining relationships is dramatic.  So I guess I am dramatic.  After all, when enough people tell you something, perhaps it is wise to listen and do a little soul searching.

The question here is, am I too dramatic?  Does my passion for everything I do put people off?  Does my desire to share my life seem frightening to those who tend to be more reserved and private?  By loving with gusto, do I frighten people?  Maybe so.

We all are who we are because we choose who we want to be.  I have chosen to live my life LARGE!  It was my choice to share my life in a BIG way.  No one forced me to be honest.  No one forced me to speak my mind, share my passion, or share the love that comes to me naturally.  If that is drama, so be it.  I confront wrongs with passion.  Hatred, bigotry, prejudice, injustice (as I perceive such things) have to be addressed by me.  Even if I am wrong, it would be more wrong to stay silent when I feel strongly about something.  And, when I find out that I am wrong, it would be morally wrong for me to ignore it.  When I apologize it is heartfelt.  That is always dramatic.

I suppose that what I am trying to say is simply that we can't please everyone.  We have to live our lives to the best of our abilities.  Anything less than that is dishonest.  I find that life is very dramatic.  Running from the implicit drama that life provides would be anathema to me.  Facing it calmly with a thoughtful mind is my goal.  Does anyone achieve an absolutely level life without any drama?  Please introduce yourself.

I guess my message here is to pay attention to what others say.  Look inside.  Even agree with them if they are right.  Then decide if you really, truly like yourself.  If you do feel good about who you are, always realizing that there is room for improvement, move on.  Be willing to let go of those who don't understand you.  Love those who don't (maybe can't) comprehend your way of thinking.  As always, this blog is only MY way of thinking.

                                         Peace and Love,



Sunday, July 15, 2012

My Way of Thinking: Sunrise

Sunrise is such an important time of day to me.  I meditate each morning as the sun comes up in the eastern sky, bringing the dawn of a new day and giving light to the world.  I always feel the intense energy that comes with the light.  I also feel the connection with everything and everyone on the planet.  I feel the hope that a new day signifies.  It is a new beginning.  It is a fresh start, a chance to leave the past behind and to make a brighter future.

This is the first time I have written this whole month.  Following my 58th birthday, I made the decision to go back to school to get my M.S. in Psychology.  I am now taking online classes at The University of Phoenix to achieve this goal.  It is another sunrise in my life.  Knowledge carries it's own energy.  It is thrilling to expand ones understanding and the challenge involved is exhilarating.  I am addicted to learning.  I love the process of coming to new ways of seeing the world around me.  I love gaining a better understanding and perspective on things.

We all have this wonderful opportunity to learn and grow every single day.  The world around us, the nature, the people who cross our paths each day, can all be our teachers.  If we take the time to slow down for a second and appreciate all the things that present themselves, we learn so much.  We learn about ourselves and that is the most important part of the learning experience.  We learn to appreciate our strengths and understand our weaknesses.  Understanding is the pathway to change.

Change is something that most people naturally resist.  We like that comfort zone.  We blanket ourselves in the safe and familiar.  But, with every sunrise, we are reminded that change is just part of life.  Embracing change is a lot easier than fighting it.

Well, that was a fun ramble.  After all, this is "Austin's Thoughts".  In writing these reminders to my readers, I am also reminding myself.  Treat yourself to a few sunrise moments this week, figuratively if not literally.

                                        Peace and Love,



Saturday, June 23, 2012

My Way of Thinking: The Greatest Day

Yesterday was birthday #58.  Wow!  Seems like yesterday that I was blowing out a mere 30 candles on a giant birthday cake with a picture of me on stage at the Hollywood Bowl.  That was then.  I prefer now.

My day yesterday began in the normal way.  I was up at 5am for my morning meditation.  Allowing the Universe to fill my tank with light energy is a ritual that I would hate to be without.  Jon, Roxy, and Charlie showered me with some extra birthday hugs and kisses.  We had pancakes with the help of Aunt Jemimah and then off I went to give four counseling sessions.  My day was already perfect.  But you don't know Jon.

At 2pm Jon met me at the center with a van, specially equipped for my power wheelchair, and a driver whisked us off to The Living Desert (one of America's great zoos right here in our valley).  Jon had also called the zoo's director and arranged a super VIP tour of the facility.  We were greeted like royalty and were taken immediately to the giraffe enclosure.  I was amazed at the space.  Acres of open desert for giraffes and camels to play.  Lots of shade and misters to keep them cool.  I was stunned to be invited inside the enclosure.  There I was greeted by three adult giraffes and one young one.  I was in heaven.  I touched them, hugged them, and received a kiss from the little one that knocked my glasses off.  Her tongue was rough and thick and I was hopelessly in love.

We visited all kinds of animals.  I held a young chimp who wanted to come home with us.  I was spit on by a camel.  Heaven.  You haven't lived until a camel spits on you.  I met a tortoise the size of a minivan.  And so many other creatures the Universe has created to make our little planet work.  As if I needed reminding that we two leggers are responsible for being their caretakers.

Okay, enough at the zoo stuff.  I could write a book about that alone.  After getting home, I checked in with Facebook to find dozens of good wishes, took a shower, changed clothes, and we were off to Billy Reed's, my favorite Palm Springs restaurant.  Again, Jon outdid himself.  We had a private room, our favorite server, Carol, and four couples who have been great friends to us.  We had a blast.  I even had two cocktails.  I was given some wonderful gifts including a Disney book that is very hard to find.  We got new leashes for our babies, a basket full of toiletries,  a framed lithograph of an elephant, some blu-rays, and my fave, a gift card for Wal-mart!

It was a day I will treasure for the rest of my life.  We received a letter from our landlord, giving us the permission to adopt a third dog.  We got a certificate from one of the volunteer vets from our animal shelter for a year of free veterinary care.  But the greatest gift was the outpouring of love from close friends and strangers alike.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to those who read my blog, to my Facebook group "Over The Rainbow: Pet Memories and Other Stories", to the two family members who have stood by me, to dear old friends who have loved me when I wasn't very lovable, to all my four legged furry pals, may the light that shines on me shine on all of you as well.  You all deserve the very best.  That is the wish I hold in my heart for each and every one of you!  Now and forever!!!

                                         Peace and Love,



Sunday, June 17, 2012

My Way of Thinking: Birthday Thoughts

Today is Father's Day.  That has always been a day that precedes my birthday by only a few days.  Of course, it is a day to remember my father, William Austin Howe Sr. but it has always also been a day to anticipate the passage of another year.  This year is no different but it bears a bit more significance to me.  My father passed on at age 58 and this Friday, June 22nd will be my 58th birthday.  It gives one pause.  At least it gives ME pause.

Having the same name as my dad is about the only real similarity between us at this point.  I don't see my father when I look into the mirror, either figuratively or literally.  I have had such different life experiences than he had and, because of that, I have a very different take on everything imaginable.  The lessons I learned from my father have no doubt been invaluable, but they have very little real time influence.

As a counselor, I run across certain recurring themes with my clients.  So many seem to look to their parents as the reason for why they are who they are.  I always point out that we can also turn that around and look to our parents for the reason why we aren't who they were.  It can work both ways.  The important thing is to avoid the blame game.  It was what it was but it isn't what is now.  The past can be instructional, but when dwelling upon it causes us to miss the present, we do ourselves a terrible disservice.

I recommend meditation.  There are many different forms of this, but whatever method you prefer, the object is to take a few minutes out of your busy life to reboot.  It is a chance to be still and experience the immediacy of being in the moment.  It is a chance to stop being the hamster on that wheel to nowhere.  Meditation helps you to be still both physically and mentally.  It is a moment to listen and experience the energy that surrounds us.  Hard to experience that energy as intake if you are only expending it.

This is certainly one way I am very different from my father.  He was on that never ending treadmill.  I have learned to take time to be still.  Because of that, I turn 58 years young without trepidation.  I admit it feels a little strange and a little sad that he left so young.  But I am not my dad.  And that is what I remind those who come to me for advice about the effect of ones parents.

                                           Peace and Love,



Tuesday, June 5, 2012

My Way of Thinking: Boozer

Sometimes things just don't work out as planned.  This was one of those times.  Jon and I had decided to adopt a 9 year old male dog named Boozer.  One look at those eyes and I was in love.  It all happened rather quickly.  I spoke with a facebook friend who knew the dog's owner.  Then I spoke with the actual owner and it was decided that Boozer would come live with us in Palm Springs.  I was beyond excited.  But the day of Boozer's arrival was a disaster.  Everything that could go wrong did.

It was hot.  Roxy, our 15 year old female decided that this was a good occasion to show dominance.  Our apartment manager decided to display his own kind of dominance by saying we couldn't have another dog.  The people who brought Boozer to us were understandably uncomfortable with the apparent situation.  How could they know that these things were not a problem to me?  I would have called our apartment owner and solved that little glitch.  Roxy would have calmed down.  But they took Boozer away.  For the first time in my life, I was told that mine was not a suitable home for a dog.  I waited until they left to cry like a baby.

All kinds of things went through my mind.  I was terribly hurt and that came out as anger.  For a brief period I forgot all the things that make me sane and became a raving lunatic. But finally, with a lot of love from my friends, I came back to my senses.  I realized that love was the answer.  The Universe has other plans for me.  Acceptance HAS to be the order of the day.

I reread my own words on this blog about Mourning The Loss of a Pet.  It is kind of funny that I ended up healing myself.  It made me aware that we all have that ability.  The Universe gives us all great power if we just tune into the gifts that are right there for the taking.

                                            Peace and Love,



Wednesday, May 23, 2012

My Way of Thinking: Dysfunctional?

As my readers know by now, I counsel homeless and disadvantaged people for a local charity organization.  I have been doing this for two years now and I have talked with a lot of clients over that period of time.  I am not a psychologist so my main focus is on trying to find resources for the people I talk with.  But psychology comes with the territory.  People who need help ask questions and I feel that I have to help in any way I can.  So I use a technique called "active listening" to help them get to the route of their problem with the knowledge they possess inside.

The word dysfunctional has become something that many people seem to banter about to explain why they are the way they are.  "I come from a dysfunctional family" is a phrase I hear in nearly all my conversations with clients when they try to explain why they use alcohol or drugs to escape their current problems. While I am fairly certain they DO come from a dysfunctional family,  I have to ask, "Who doesn't?".  Families are inherently dysfunctional no matter how hard they try not to be.  We ALL come with a certain level of dysfunction.  I agree there are different levels of this, but basically their is dysfunction whenever two or more people get together in any kind of emotional relationship.  We may have like thinking, but we do not think alike.  Siblings who are brought up in the same environment often have totally different views on what that environment actually was.  It is all a matter of perception.  It is also a matter of choices that each individual makes.

Using past experiences to excuse or explain away a current situation is bogus.  Other people can influence us for sure, but ultimately we all make our own choices.  It is easy to blame our backgrounds for everything.  But, when all is said and done, we are the ones who choose for ourselves.  The choices we make are what truly shape our lives.  Others may influence us, of course, but bottom line we make our own choices.  Sometimes we choose not to make a choice at all, but even if we do that we have actually chosen not to choose.

It is only when we take responsibility fully for who we are right now that we can be free of the blame game.  Dysfunctional relationships?  Sure.  All their fault?  THAT I don't buy.  I come back to the word choice.  We choose to stay or go.  We choose to be happy or sad.  We choose to love or hate.  We are in charge of how we look at things.  The devil made me do it is just a way to avoid our own responsibility to shape our own destinies.  When we waste our time blaming our dysfunctional lives on others we are looking in the rearview mirror.  We are missing the brick wall straight ahead.  Who do we blame when we crash head on into that brick wall?  Our choice.

This is food for thought.  I don't pretend to have the answers.  This blog is subtitled "My Way of Thinking" for a reason.  I mean only to inspire you to take another look inside yourself.  If you begin with a choice to love, I guarantee you will be better prepared to face life as it IS.

                                             Peace and Love,



Thursday, May 3, 2012

My way of thinking: What I've Learned From Dogs

I suppose I write about this subject all the time.  But I thought it might be fun to put it all into some kind of order.

I have had dogs since I was 5 yrs old.  I loved them and they loved me.  But I never really thought about all the things they were teaching me.  It wasn't until about 1996 when I got a dog from a shelter in Key West.  We named her Miss Parker and she loved us from the moment she was released from her prison.  She is a story all by herself and I will tell it soon.  For now, I will talk about the many thing I have learned from the many, many dogs who have changed and enhanced my life.

#1: UNCONDITIONAL LOVE  This is something that dogs have all over their two legged counterparts.  They don't care if you are rich or poor.  They don't care if you punish them.  They will love you no matter what.  Even a dog who is left outside, even chained, will be thrilled to see his human.  They hold no grudges.

#2: FORGIVENESS  Every dog who has come into my life has an enormous capacity to forgive.  I have seen dogs who were abused, and yet they still loved the person who was their abuser.  Talk about turning the other cheek.  I know I couldn't be that forgiving.

#3: LOYALTY  There is no loyalty on earth like that of a dog. We have all seen the stories about the faithful dog who holds vigil over a beloved owner who has passed away.  They grieve every bit as much as the humans.  Maybe more.  They also grieve over the loss of a companion pet, be it dog or cat.  While a dog seems to forget an abuse, they don't seem to forget the loss of a friend.

#4:  ENTHUSIASM  Dogs are interested in the world around them.  Some more than others but all seem to appreciate every tree, every bush, every dog, cat, squirrel, or bird that crosses their path.  They greet each day with joy.  When you come home from work, or even a 10 minute absence, they greet you with wagging tails as if you were gone for a week.

#5:  APPRECIATION  A dog appreciates every pat on the head.  They love those belly rubs, head scratches, and the ever popular butt scratch.  They love every walk, every meal, and every water change.  They love every word of praise, every kiss, and every show of your love.  They are truly sorry if they misbehave and make you reprimand them.  Often they don't know what they did wrong, but they don't ever want you to be unhappy.

#6:  COMFORT  Whenever a dog senses that you are unhappy, they will come to you and offer their comfort and understanding.  They will sit with you quietly and lick away your tears.

I can come up with more, but I try to keep my posts short.  As always, I appreciate your comments.  I always love it when anyone joins my site.  That way you receive my posts via email so you don't have to search them out.

These were some of the things I have learned from dogs.  I work hard to exhibit these same traits.  Dogs inspire me.

                                          Peace and Love,



Saturday, April 28, 2012

My Way of Thinking: Therapy adoption

Writing usually comes easily to me.  But this has been a different kind of month for me.  Either I had some great ideas but no time to write, or I had time and not a thought in my head.  Today is kind of a combination of both things but I will write anyway.

The past week was really interesting because we did something a little different.  We took two shelter dogs who had had problems fitting into a new home and worked with them for three days solid.  Both pups had been adopted but then returned because of "behavioral" issues.  They were both small (around 15 lbs.), one male and one female.  They had never lived in a normal home environment and they both had no experience with giving or receiving love.  On top of that, they were terribly fearful of other dogs and most people.

These little terrier mixes needed to learn to trust, and they needed to learn quickly.  I only had three days, and my goal was to make them suitable for adoption, and to find them good homes.  At the end of the three days I wanted to be sure that they would never be in a cage again.  What a great test of my theories about love training.  With my partner, Jon, 100% on board, we got started the moment they walked in the door.  They were both terrified and shaking, so we began by getting on the floor.  Our dogs, Roxy and Charlie are old pros at this type of thing, so they also made themselves small and calm.  Roxy (a natural mama) made the first move.  She gently let them know that she was not a threat.  Then she introduced them to Charlie.  Jon and I just laid back and observed these interactions for awhile.  We then began petting Charlie and Roxy, all the while getting closer and closer to the little ones.  We let them smell us and finally began giving them some light petting.  We did this off and on all day.  The rescues became more and more comfortable and even began playing with our two pooches.  By the time they had to leave, they were starting to feel at home with us.

The next day it was like two new dogs entered our apartment.  Instead of the timid, terrified dogs we originally met, these guys were excited to be here.  They started playing with Roxy and Charlie and all four dogs were jumping up and down into our laps.  We waited until late morning and took them to Koffi (our favorite dog loving coffee place).  By late morning it is not too busy but there are still people and dogs there.  We introduced them to new people and new dogs very gently.  Both dogs got better and better.  They learned by watching our kids interact.

By the end of day two Jon had a great home for the female from the owner of our local convenience/liquor store.  His dog transitioned a few months ago and he was ready for the challenge of loving a new dog.  I got on the phone to try to find the right home for the male.  We needed experienced dog owners who would understand the special needs and training these dogs would need.  I had a couple of people who wanted to sleep on it, so I was hopeful.

Day three a potential owner for the male agreed to meet him at Koffi.  It was love at first sight.  We had our two forever homes.  That evening both dogs went to their new homes.  They left here as totally revived animals.  The fear was gone.  The love was blossoming and expanding.  I am now working with the owners and their new pets on basic obedience training.  It was a smashing success for all involved.

It is ALL about LOVE!  When you start with love, all the rest falls into place.  It is easy to be patient with those we love.  It is easy to be kind.  We can learn so much from our animals.

                                         Peace and Love,


Monday, April 2, 2012

My way of thinking/ Music and me


Yes, that handsome boy in the center of the picture is me.  In 1970 at the ripe old age of 15, I was made a member of a High School singing group called The Chanteurs.  It was a great honor to be included in the top singing group right out of Junior High.  It was the beginning of my career as a performer.  To this day, I am still in touch with a few of those talented kids.
Music was important to me from birth.  My mother said I came straight from the womb with a love of music.  Since I can't remember a time when I wasn't in love with anything musical, I would tend to agree with her.  I particularly loved show tunes.  Mom would play show albums and I would memorize every word and do my best to sing along.  My real talent didn't manifest itself until my voice changed at age 12, but that never stopped me from singing any time I got the chance.  I studied piano so I could play for myself.  I was consumed with the joy that music brought to my life.  I even became an actor through music.  It sustained me through the tough times and still does.  If I need an uplift, there is always a song for that.

When I was 19 years old I got my first professional job in the musical "Hair".  I played the gay guy, Woof with a very dirty song.  I had to look up the words in the dictionary.  There was no stopping me after that.  I was officially an actor/singer and even though I stopped singing publicly a few years ago, I still identify myself as actor/singer/voice teacher.

Music still plays a huge part in my life.  It brings me joy every day and plays as the soundtrack of my life.  It expresses love for me more than I ever could.  It expresses so many things for me.  Music is my therapist.  Just felt like sharing this.

                                           Peace and Love,



Sunday, March 11, 2012

My way of thinking/ The Little Things

It is all about the little things we do in life.  I like to try to do BIG things, but when it comes down to it, it's about that smile to a stranger.  It's about letting the cashier know they are valued.  It all comes to sharing love.  Give from the heart and you'll always get from some one's heart.  It doesn't always have to come from the person you gave to.  It may very well come from the most unexpected source.  How about the love of a dog or a cat?  That is a giant reward to me.  For those who have children, that love has to be grand beyond belief!  Then there's the love you can feel from a gentle breeze.  The sunrise.  Goodness is always there if that is what we are looking to see.

I am blessed to have many friends in my life.  Sometimes they come to me with things they perceive to be problems.  Often they are totally justified.  I can offer them love and support.  I can be understanding and comforting.  And, if there problem is only in the way they are looking at something, I can share my point of view.  That is a little thing.  Every blessed day is full of opportunities to share some little things, moments, smiles, a touch to let someone know that you are present.  Doesn't always have to be a grand gesture.  Think small.  It will become big.

This is a short little story because it's about little things.  Just remember to see and appreciate what is right before your eyes.  All you need is love!  (Stealing from The Beatles!)

                                          Peace and Love,


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

My way of thinking/ Finding the Positive

A dear friend recently asked me to write about finding the positive in everything.  I replied that I thought that was pretty much what I have been writing about all this time.  But she said that I need to spell it out step by step.  Okay,  I am up for a challenge.

First and foremost, having a positive attitude begins with you.  You can't look at the world around you as positive if you aren't going to be positive yourself.  So step one is to make a personal choice to create your own positive contribution to the process.  Everyone has the power to make this kind of choice.  I believe that we choose how we want to be perceived by those around us.  We can blame others all we want for the way we are, but in the end, it really is our own choice that defines us.

Step number 2 is to begin applying our positive outlook to everything that presents itself to our personal space.  I know, that seems hard but it really is quite simple.  Not every situation can be looked at as positive.  The trick is to find a positive action that we can take in any given situation.  A mother and her small children are killed by a drunk driver.  Nothing positive there.  But we can take a positive action.  We can offer our love and support to the family.  We can send a card.  We can cook dinner for those left behind.  Love is always positive.  There is no negative that can stand up to the power of love.

Step number 3 is putting this principle into practise.  This takes a little work and concentration.  When something that seems negative enters our personal world, or space if you prefer, we have to empower ourselves by finding the positive within ourselves.  We then look for ways to trust our inner power to stand up to whatever seems negative and bring something optimistic to the person or situation.  We begin to look for the good within ourselves instead of expecting it to come from something or someone externally.  Remember that there IS no negative in love, empathy, or compassion.  These things come from within, from our soul.  Apply these gifts and the rest will take care of itself.

If this seems simplistic, that's because it IS simple.  It all comes back to you.  It comes down to the choices you make.  We all have the power to choose what kind of person we want to be.  We can't control everything around us.  We CAN control our own hearts and mind.  All we have to do is recognize our responsibility to find and share the best part of ourselves.  We really can choose to be happy.  There can be no negative in a happy attitude towards life.  Look for all those positive yes words.  Stop saying no when a challenge presents itself.  Think about giving and forget about getting.  You may be pleasantly surprised by how much easier life can be.

Norman Vincent Peale wrote "The Power of Positive Thinking" a long time ago.  It is still relevant today.  Also "Begin With Yes" by Paul Boynton (a Facebook friend) is a helpful and easy read on this subject.  Remember that everything begins with you.  That's where it ends as well.

                                          Peace and Love,



Friday, February 24, 2012

My way of thinking/ bullies

I have been thinking about writing this post to my blog for quite some time.  Something else always came up, partly because I think I was avoiding this particular topic.  The topic is bullying and today I can no longer avoid writing about it.

On facebook someone sent me a request to join a cause that is fighting to prevent teen suicide due to bullying.  Old memories suddenly presented themselves, as they are wont to do at the slightest provocation.  I found myself remembering experiences in Junior High.  That was 7th-9th grade for me.  Back then I was a rather unusual kid.  I loved musical theatre.  I loved to sing.  I dreamt of being an actor.  These things don't seem unusual now, but at the age of 12-14, these things were considered strange by the boys who dreamt of sports or following in daddie's footsteps.

I was never timid about expressing myself to anyone who would listen to me.  Perhaps that was where I went wrong.  I started hearing the word "fag" at age 12.  I wasn't sure what that meant but I knew it was not a compliment.  It went from something whispered behind my back to something that was said directly to my face.  Then I began to get offers to fight some of the older boys at school.  Then they began waiting for me to get off the bus on my way home.  I didn't want to fight them.  I didn't have any idea how to fight.  I tried just ignoring them.  That wasn't working.  They became more cruel and agressive.  I finally began riding my bike the 3 miles to my school to avoid these confrontations.

Eventually, as my singing and acting began to be recognized for the special talents and gifts they were, the teasing subsided.  I developed a group of friends, many of them older, who helped me create a certain respect.  I was released from these bullies by refusing to be intimidated and by following the beat of my own drum.  I refused to give in to the pressure to conform and I won.

My message here is not that I was strong enough to keep from succumbing to pier pressure.  The message is about those who are not that strong.  Not every child has the supportive and loving family that I had.  Not every child is as driven and self-assured as I was.  For many this form of abuse is overwhelming.  Feeling that they have nowhere else to turn, they feel that life is just not worth the effort.  Too many take their own lives.  Too many adults turn a blind eye, or worse, consider this as some right of passage.  This is what must stop.  The general apathy towards bullying is unacceptable and it is up to us to stop it.

Sadly there are many adult bullies out there as well.  We even attempt to ignore them even after we have grown up (hopefully).  We owe it to our kids and grandkids to stand up to the bullies around us, no matter what their age.  If we remain silent on this issue, how do we expect little boys and girls to stand up for themselves.  We have to take the love we feel for one another and protect those who are vulnerable, whether they are old or young.  We make a difference, but only when we choose to stand up.  I urge you to join me.  Make a difference by putting fear (not common sense) aside.  Expose the bullies among us.  Let them know how hurtful they are.  Ostrasize them.  Isolate them.  Never put up with hate speach.  Never allow negatives to outweigh positives.  If there ever has been such a thing as a devil, negativity is the equivolent.  Love is the antidote.

                                          Peace and Love,