Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Morning Beckons

There is so much on my mind and in my heart as 2008 comes to a close ... I find myself awake in the middle of the night with our 3 beautiful big black dogs (Missy, Mister and Ahnung) sleeping soundly by my feet. I ran across a journal entry from 2005 I feel compelled to share ....

Morning beckons.
I awaken from a night of journey -
surreal movies with evolving actors, changing landscapes
of voices raging, voices whispering, voices singing.

Slobbery kisses and furry paws beckon.
I step through my morning ritual
6 am greets me with cold noses, wet tongues, and body stretches
familiar music of pitter patters across hardwood floors.

Stillness beckons.
My sacred space.
I light candles and sandalwood incense
my 30 minutes to enter back into the realm of mystery
of simplicity, of quiet, interspersed with tennis balls of thoughts,
ejecting from the hopper at high velocity.

I pause.
Catch them, hold them, notice the fuzz,
then gently lay them down.

Pencil beckons.
My lego land.
I turn to a blank page and with a deep breath, step into the page
I discover new pieces, explore new colors, and create new shapes
the possibilities, the forms, the unknown....
emerge with voice, with playfulness, with passion.

“Shoulds” beckon.
I should be successful, I should earn six figures.
Tennis balls fire at me like cannon balls.
My lego land displays a “closed for business” sign
while in the far away distance, the clock-like pitter patters remind me of home.

Night beckons.
I lay my head on my pillow,
as the crescent moon lights the night sky, keeping vigil over me.
I close my eyes.
The stars light up the dark skies
and guide me back to a place of mystery,
of stillness, of lego lands.

I am lego land “open for business” 24 hours a day,
365 days a year!

- Marilou Chanrasmi, 2005

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Returning home ...

I returned yesterday afternoon from a week vacationing in Marco Island, Florida. My partner and I spent the week in the exact same condo unit we were at last year - E205 at the Club Regency. The screened in lanai of the unit faced out towards the ocean. My morning meditation and writing time came with the sounds of ocean waves and sea gulls and pelicans -- it was as if a hypnotic spell was cast over me. The spell would be momentarily broken as I would sip my cup of tea - loose leaf black forest tea: a blend of black tea, green mate, coconut, rose petals and cornflower blossoms. I realized how important quiet time and solitude is for my soul; i realized how my spirit is energized by simply being in the midst of nature and how I learn more about my true self when I dare to sit in silence -- no distractions.

The holidays are always a little challenging for me. I am reminded of my father who died when I was four years old. December 20th, 2008 was his 40th death anniversary. That day, while walking on the beach, my partner commented to me on a family -- there were two girls and a boy with their mother (a young woman taking photos with her digital point and shoot) - their dark skin (south asian descent) and something about them made her think of me with my sister and brother. As I watched the young woman capture moments with her camera of the one girl, a huge grin on her face as she buried her sister in sand with only her head exposed, I could sense both love and sadness in her heart. Was she raising 3 young kids on her own like my mother had to when my father died at the young age of 39? As I took a deep breath I could smell someone smoking a pipe ... it was a sweet smell. I looked around to see where it was coming from but could see no one smoking a pipe. My partner also looked -- nothing. My father used to smoke a pipe on occasion. My father's spirit has always been with me. Maybe it's wishful thinking ... on the other hand, I believe our soul lives on after we die. I believe my father was with me on December 20th. I believe messages are always coming to us -- we are often too distracted or resistant to be open to the messages.

Every evening at around 5:30 I would watch the sun - the spectacular life-giving sun - slowly, confidently and peacefully disappear into the horizon.

One night, with my digital SLR, I captured an image of the sun setting and two seagulls that speaks so profoundly to me, especially as 2008 comes to a close and I find myself being even more so reflective. With every sun set, with every ending, with every loss ... it's an opportunity to explore, to be free and to spread our wings! As a kid I feared the dark. I was afraid to close my eyes -- fearful that something bad would happen. As a 44 year old I am learning that darkness and the night skies are not something to fear -- it's a time to soar, to let your imagination free ... it's a time to dream. I am learning that the night skies are filled with magnificent stars, like my sweet Ahnung whom I have since decided will continue to be my north star (my partner and I will be adopting her soon!). And when the sun rises it's time to make our dreams a reality.

I am happy to be home. My time both at Red Lake and Marco Island were both healing and energizing. I am happy to be back in my writing/meditation room in St. Paul -- and on this early Saturday morning it brings warmth to my heart as I look over to the extra large flannel-covered LL Bean dog bed and see three absolutely beautiful big black dogs: Mister, Missy and Ahnung. Yes, they are all rescued dogs. The truth though ... is that they have rescued me more than I have rescued them.

I am grateful for all that 2008 has given to me ... I am grateful for all my loving friends and partner, for my passion that continues to be fueled with the work I am fortunate enough to do on behalf of abandoned, abused and neglected animals, and for the lessons (even the difficult ones) that bring me closer to living life the only way I would like to live my life ... The Stray Dog Way.

I embrace 2009 with all it has to offer and trust that my journey will unfold exactly the way it is meant to unfold.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Reflecting on my trip to Red Lake Rosie's Rescue

As I pulled up to Karen's house and Red Lake Rosie's Rescue after almost 6 hours of driving, i stopped my car to soak in the moment and to prepare myself for time with Ahnung, with Karen, with dogs and cats fortunate enough to make it into Karen's loving care, and for time to help Karen with chores and to learn more about her work and the community and culture of the Red Lake reservation. My very first trip to Red Lake Rosie's was in mid-October. It was on that trip when I first met Ahnung (Karen temporarily named her "Mama" as she was abandoned along with her litter of 8) -- a 2-3 year old black (with some white) lab/pit bull mix whose eyes and spirit captured me from the moment I laid eyes on her in her kennel. Have you ever just had "that feeling" in your gut about someone, something .... that feeling that calls to you, not in words, or even reasoning .... a feeling and an instinct from your core, from your gut? Well... I felt that with Ahnung. I was honored when Karen asked me to give "Mama" a name .... I share my process of how I came up with her name, Ahnung, in a previous blog posting.

In mid-November I returned to Red Lake. Ahnung came home with me to the cities on my transport back and came into Pet Haven's foster program. Diagnosed with heartworm, Ahnung is going through treatment and since mid-November I have been visiting Ahnung every day at Bloomington Vet where she has been cared for and loved, and taking her on outings .... on my most recent trip, I decided to bring Ahnung with me. My intent was to simply foster Ahnung until she was ready to be put up for adoption and then let her go to a loving home. On this most recent trip, I came to realize that letting Ahnung go is not in the stars. Ahnung is my north star. Ahnung is a part or me, of my heart, of my being. She is my tie and connection to Red Lake. There are many reasons to feel a strong bond with Red Lake and the work Karen does up north in the reservation, however, Ahnung solidifies that bond with a spiritual cohesiveness I cannot explain. I made a decision while up north .... that if she gets along with my sometimes alpha dog Missy :) and my partner really truly is okay with it, that I would seriously consider adopting her and making her a permanent addition to our family. Yesterday, I brought Ahnung home to our house and introduced her to Missy and Mister. Within an hour they were all napping and I was able to get lots of work done. My partner spent time last night bonding with Ahnung and has even asked us to present to a class of at-risk kids she works with in a program through the St. Paul Public Schools (The Lab) on Thursday to share more about Pet Haven and Ahnung's story. Ahnung is excited to share her story with kids who have been through what she has been through, and to be a part of an outreach effort working with urban youth!

Every trip I have taken to visit Karen at Red Lake Rosie's Rescue strengthens my desire to help her out as much as I can. The hard work of caring for animals kept me grounded. The persistent dedication and unwaivering compassion of Karen in the midst of harsh conditions and circumstances, along with the incredibly beautiful and peaceful landscape of the reservation, lifted me to a spiritual level. I stayed in the guest room in the cat house with Ahnung. Every morning I woke up to a pleasant aroma of puppy poop and let the puppies out to run around and step all over Ahnung while I cleaned out their kennels and gave them fresh water and food :) Three puppies: Geesis (which means "moon" in Ojibway), Niki and Sunshine were fortunate to be in the warm cat house. Puppies with injuries or in poor health condition are taken out of the outside shelter and brought inside. Geesis had a large bite wound on his head and survived a dog attack; his litter mate Niki has a injured front paw; and Sunshine was found at the Red Lake dumpster extremely malnourished and with mange. All 3 puppies came back with me on the transport to the cities on Monday, 12/15 (in total I transported 14 dogs plus Ahnung!). Karen got more phone calls and requests to take in more abandoned, abused and neglected animals than i even imagined -- in a 3 day period we took in 19 animals and assisted in the rescue of miniature stallion, a donkey, an unwanted mama with a litter of 6 (left out in the frigid cold!), a dumpster pup (Sunshine) ... all the others were brought to the shelter by friends and caring community members of Red Lake.

Morning chores consist of cleaning out pens/kennels (both outside and in the cat house), providing fresh water (this entails pounding the frozen ice in the plastic buckets -- Karen told me not to be afraid to pound as hard as I want on the black plastic buckets with the hammer... i took her words to heart and got lots of upper body exercise pounding on buckets -- it's also a great stress reliever ;-) Mike and Sarah (Karen's niece) came every day to help with chores. Because pens were full, there are several big dogs who get to run "free" -- Grandpa, Clover (feral dog), Ginger, Hazel, and Fawn. Every morning i'd walk Ahnung on leash to go potty, and we would be greeted by the big dog welcoming party ... and then Hazel would, like a best friend does, walk by Ahnung's side as we took our morning stroll. I learned the importance of bundling up .. with windchills dipping down to minus 30 or 40 any exposed skin certainly got numb within a minute :) It was amazing to witness Karen interacting with the dogs -- every dog and cat is given a name shortly after they arrive. Karen knows the personalities of each of the dogs in her shelter. She knows who needs to be walked on leash, who can run free, who is alpha or dominant, who is submissive -- she knows that Grandpa (senior shepherd mix) loves all dogs but has problems with the male dogs so when the big dogs are let out during chores Grandpa goes to rest in the kennel along with Clover (a feral dog who has recently has started being picked on by Fawn who's vying for alpha female status ;-). After the big dogs have been let out to get exercise and all their pens cleaned with fresh straw, water and food put in, then the big dogs go back in their pens, and the puppies and little ones come out. Chore time is well-orchestrated and after a few days, I found myself fitting right into the groove and knowing what needs to be done and not getting in the way!

We would have a 2-3 hour break to get some rest before we resumed work on afternoon chores. In that time I had a chance to absorb the healing and loving energy of the shelter and Karen's work, a chance to hang out with Ahnung in the cat house or go for walks with her (while being surrounded by Grandpa, Ginger, Hazel and Fawn), or simply take time to write/reflect or take photographs.

It is impossible to capture in words the profound impact it had on me to spend time up with Karen at Red Lake Rosie's Rescue. Karen took me into Red Lake and showed me around and pointed out the many sites where abused dogs had been found. She pointed out the baseball field where Ode was found wandering with her ears burned. She pointed out where Ahnung and Spice Girl (a boxer mix with an injured leg who had a litter of pups and was abandoned -- Pet Haven took her into our foster program; she has seen been adopted by a very loving family and is doing great!) were found. She pointed our where the Red Lake dumpster was where many, many puppies and kittens are left to die.

Yet, in the midst of all the abuse and suffering of animals, there is a woman, Karen Good, who is the north star for animals of the Red Lake reservation. In the midst of all the suffering, I felt this tremendous sense of hope. I share the belief with Karen that we must hold onto what we can do for these innocent beings. We must believe that each and every one of us can make a difference.

What I continue to learn on a daily basis from the work I do with Pet Haven and Red Lake Rosie's Rescue, is that these abandoned, abused and neglected animals are actually giving us a greater gift. For those of you that feel that Ahnung is the lucky one to have found refuge in my home and in my heart.... what I can tell you is that I am the lucky one that our stars aligned and she came into my life. That something magical, that some mystical about Ahnung (my north star) is helping me heal a deep emotional wound -- and in the process freeing me to move forward in my life with more authenticity, truth and courage.

May we all find our own truth through the loving, forgiving and resilient nature of these beautiful animals.

Thank you Karen
Thank Ahnung.
And thank you to each and every one of you for caring.

To view photos from my trip visit my flickr site.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Lessons from a rescued dog...

What is the heart?
- Rumi

What is the heart? It is not human,
and it is not imaginary. I call it

you. Stately bird, who one moment
combines with this world, and the

next, passes through the boundary to
the unseen. The soul cannot find you

because you are the soul's wings, how
it moves. Eyes cannot see you: you

are the source of sight. You're the
one thing repentance will not repent,

nor news report. Spring comes: one
seed refuses to germinate and start

being a tree. One poor piece of wood
blackens but will not catch fire.

The alchemist wonders at a bit of
copper that resists turning to gold.

Who am I that I'm with you and still
myself? When the sun comes up,

the complicated nightmind of the
constellations fades. Snowforms do

not last through July. The heart-
quality embodied by our master, Shams

Tabriz, will always dissolve the old
quarrel between those who believe in

the dignity of a human being's decisions
and those who claim they're all illusion.

Ahnung the morning in mid-November when she was getting ready for her trip to the cities!.

What is it about the soul and spirit of an animal that frees so many of us from the chains of our past? What is it about the resilience and innocence of a rescued animal that taps into the core of our being?

What is it about Ahnung that touches a part of my heart never touched before?

Next week Ahnung and I are returning to Red Lake (view photos from my last trip where Ahnung was transported back to the cities) -- we are spending close to a week up north to help with chores and to transport more rescued dogs back to the city.... okay, i'm helping with chores and Ahnung will have a chance to reconnect with old pals and relax and lounge around :)

Next week will be healing for both of us.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Jupiter and Venus - bright stars

Tonight, for just a couple hours, if you were fortunate enough to be able to look up into the night skies right after sunset, you would be witness to an incredible sight: The crescent moon forming a tight triangle with Jupiter and Venus. This apparently is an uncommon grouping of the brightest objects in the night sky, and the fact that Venus and Jupiter have come so close together during the crescent phase of the moon, means we can bear witness to an event greater brilliance.

I took the opportunity to play around with different settings in my camera, and in the process discovered how I could capture in my viewfinder, an image so different from what I was seeing with my naked eyes. A realization that truth is not absolute.

The magnificence and brilliance of the stars tonight has humbled me; it has reminded me of how miniscule I am in the big picture of everything; how I am, how we all are, but a speck in a universe and how we are simply energy, vibrating. How interesting that these past couple weeks I have been bonding and connecting with Ahnung and how she is and continues to be my north star. I am reminded of how even stars, are energy, vibrating at varying pulses. I am reminded there is no beginning and there is no end -- we are all connected. At times like this, I realize how at the same moment we are everything, and we are nothing.

Tonight, I am grateful to bear witness to a crossing of the planets and a celestial highlight. Tonight I am grateful to be reminded that we are energy, we are vibrations, and yes, we are all connected.

Ahnung hanging out with me at the Coffee Gallery at The Loft -- we're regulars there now that they even know her name and she has obviously made her self at home in the gallery :).

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Ahnung - my north star

On September 15, 2006 we lost our beloved Shen to cancer of the spleen. On July 2nd, 2007 we lost Shadow (view video) to intestinal cancer. Since that time I have attempted to foster dogs through Pet Haven. Both times we “failed” (meaning we adopted the dog) – we now have Missy and Mister, two gorgeous black dogs, as a part of our family. My home has fondly come to be known by fellow Pet Haven volunteers as the “black dog, black hole.”

A couple weeks ago I brought home Ahnung from Red Lake Rosie’s Rescue. She was to be my foster dog --- I am determined to successfully foster a dog: yes, to love with all my heart, then let go and make room for another homeless dog. Ahnung was diagnosed with heartworm and it no longer became possible for her to come stay with me as Mister (our 16 month old pup) would be way too active for Ahnung who needs to remain extremely calm and quiet as she goes through heartworm treatment. Since Ahnung arrived in the Twin Cities on November 18th, she has been staying at Bloomington Veterinary Hospital – being monitored, pampered and cared for. Since then, I have gone to visit Ahnung every day (with the exception of Sundays and Thanksgiving) – I pick her up and we go on outings to the coffee shop or the studio. For the first week, I had to lift her into my Honda Element – having come from up north and not being familiar with life in the cities and driving around in cars, she wasn’t too sure about getting in and out of cars. Yesterday, we had a breakthrough…. she hopped right into the back and laid down on a bed I have for her behind the passenger seat. Today, we stopped by the studio as walls were being built – the hammering of nails into wood, and power tools slicing through lumber did not even phase this gentle, calm soul. My soul has been touched in a deep way by Ahnung – she is my north star, my bright light.

The day will arrive when she will be given a clean bill of health. The day will also arrive when I will need to let her go. Every day when I pick her up at the clinic my heart feels joyful. I love to watch her come out from the back area of the clinic with her tail wagging. I love the white tip on her black tail --- like her tail was dipped in a can of white paint. Yes she saunters at a leisurely pace but her tail wags, and this morning, she hopped right into my car without hesitation, just a spring in her step and a sense of familiarity, a sense of comfort.

I notice how she loves to lay in the grass when I bring her back to the clinic and get brushed, how she loves to lay in the sunshine no matter where we are, how she lets me know she wants a little love by placing her head between the driver and passenger seats in my car … and how she loves to rest her head on my foot when we hang out at coffee shops for hours while I get some work done. Just as I feel joy in my heart, every day when I pick her up, I feel a heaviness in my heart when I take the 90th street exit off of highway 35W heading south, turn left onto 90th, another left onto Lyndale Avenue, then a quick turn into the parking lot of the clinic. These past two days, I have noticed how Ahnung also notices. She used to sleep through the car ride but these past couple days she’s gotten up from her bed, and placed her head next to my hand. Maybe she senses the sadness in my heart. Maybe she knows our outing is over. Maybe she's trying to reassure me. Whatever it is, I know that I am grateful to know that the staff at the clinic loves her and cares for her. As I leave her and she is brought back to her kennel, I tell myself that Ahnung (which means “star” in Ojibway) will always be my star; she will always be my light.

I hold my Ahnung, my star, in my heart till our next outing. When the time comes for me to let her go, I trust she will shine so brightly that even the darkest night won’t keep me from the joy and the memories I am grateful to feel and experience with her right now. To love, yes... to love with all my heart ... knowing I will have to let her go -- it scares me while at the same time fills my soul up. Is this what it feels like to live like there's no tomorrow and to love with reckless abandon?

Sweet dreams Ahnung... i love you.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


There is so much to be thankful for....

Today, i choose to share images of three very special pups who occupy a large piece of my heart: Ahnung, Missy and Mister....

Happy Thanksgiving! May you be filled with slobbery kisses today :)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Ahnung -- "star" of Red Lake

Ahnung when I first met her in mid-October; she was nursing her pups.

Early this week I drove up north to Red Lake Rosie's Rescue. This was my second trip to Red Lake. On my first trip back in mid-October I met Ahnung. She had been dumped along with her litter of 8. Karen Good (founder of Red Lake Rosie's Rescue) had temporarily named her Mama. Recognizing that there was a special bond that was created almost instantaneously, she asked me to give her a name. I was honored. I pondered on what to name this gentle spirit. After considerable thought I decided on Ahnung, which means "star" in Ojibway. I wanted a name that would honor her roots and would represent the bright light in the skies of the work that Karen does on behalf of abandoned, abused and neglected animals of the Red Lake reservation. I promised Karen I would return for Ahnung. I drove back early this week. You can read more about our trip on the Red Lake Rosie's blog.

Ahnung the morning we are getting ready to head back to the cities. She had been spending her time in the igloo -- part of the big dog 'clan'. "Grandpa" is one of many shepherds who would hang out with her..

At this moment, I am compelled to write about Ahnung. There are many, many dogs that need our help, that need our compassion, that need for us to be a voice on their behalf. Many have touched my heart and soul -- Ahnung is one of them. We learned a couple weeks ago that she has heartworm. She is being treated for her heartworm and is being monitored at Bloomington Vet (Pet Haven's partner vet). For the next month she needs to be very calm and have minimal activity -- not really a challenge for this mellow, sauntering gal!! :) Since we arrived back in the cities on Tuesday night, I have visited Ahnung at the vet every day. The staff at Bloomington Vet have fallen in love with her -- it's hard not to! The first two days we hung out in a room where she would rest her head on my foot. Then we'd got outside for some fresh air and sunshine and she would saunter at her slow, definitive Ahnung pace -- no rushing this girl! :)

Ahnung resting under my writing desk at the Loft.

And today... well, today is a special day ... the vet gave me the okay to take Ahnung out for a little outing. I lifted her into my Honda Element (yes, all 65+ pounds of this solid girl!) and laid her on a blankie behind the passenger seat. She rested and kept her eye on me the whole way to our special destination... we are now lounging at the Coffee Gallery at The Loft. There is deep spiritual connection I feel with Ahnung. She reminds me of both Shen and Missy. Something about her makes me feel safe, makes me feel grounded.

Ahnung - outing at The Loft .

Ahnung represents more to me than I think I am yet aware of... for now, I hold her close to my heart and promise to care for her, and she for me, as we walk side by side for the next six weeks as she goes through her heartworm treatment. Spending time with her, getting her accustomed to life in the cities... my time with her, is as much about her healing as it is about my own healing.

Thank you Ahnung... thank you Karen for all you do for the animals of Red Lake.

To view photos from my trip up north, visit my flickr site.

Friday, November 14, 2008

In memory of Sophia

When I went to visit Karen about a month ago, I had the good fortune of meeting Benay who came to care for the shelter so that Karen could have her much needed foot surgery that she had been putting off (to be honest, I think Karen could still run laps around most of us prior to when she had surgery, and probably even after! --- nothing slows this incredible woman down!!). Benay, is another incredible spirit with just as much passion and compassion. You can read more about Benay on the Red Lake Rosie's blog:.

I share a story with you that was sent to me yesterday... one that touched my soul in a very deep way and reminds me of how important it is for us to continue the work we are doing on behalf of abandoned, abused and neglected animals; a story that reminds me of the painful reality and the shadow side of animal rescue - a side that often remains in the dark, but one i feel i need to cast light on, for only when the truth is told, can the truth be changed. This story reminds me also of the incredible souls and spirits, like Karen, like Benay, like yourselves, who in your own way give to these animals and advocate on their behalf...

"A very sad story which Benay has been heartbroken over, little
Sophia. Sophia- see pic came here from the Redby dumpster. She was
starving, mangey, and had this oozing heavy mucus from nose. We
contacted the vet and he said to put her on antibiotics, which we
did. She was here for 8 days and Benay fell in love with her. She
made great improvement, Benay moved her in the cathouse, bathed her
and pampered her. Sophia was so happy, she acted like she was in 7th
heaven. Following Benay all over the cathouse, and wagging her little

Benay took her to the vet a week later for an examination to see if
there was more wrong with her, and------we were horrified to learn
someone had put a gun in her little mouth and blew a hole in her
palate- then dumped her in the garbage and left to die!! She had been
asperating water into her nasal area when she drank water.

The vet said there was no hope for her, so she went across the
Rainbow Bridge, one of the saddest days here at Red Lake Rosie's

She loved her so, and Benay has been so sad since that happened last
Thursday, a week ago today. We shall not forget Sophia, and are
amazed that through her suffering, she was so happy that someone
LOVED her!!! I cannot comprehend this!! See this angel's picture- it
is heartreaking!! There are other Sophias out there, but none as

Peace- Karen

My heart feels raw as I hold Sophia and Benay in my heart. In memory of Sophia and in honor of Benay and Karen (who tirelessly works on behalf of the Red Lake dogs), I am even more committed to keep on working on the behalf of these innocent beings. I am returning to Red Lake on Monday to drop off donations and transport some dogs back to the cities. Pet Haven will most likely be taking 4 puppies and 3 adult dogs into our foster program. One of the 3 dogs will be Ahnung (which means "star" in Ojibway), a dog who touched my heart on my last trip up. We have since learned she has heartworm and will need to go through treatment for 2 months. I am proud to be a part of a rescue organization who will take in the not so easy dogs, and the ones who require the extra care.

We need your help and support... we need donations (both supplies and financial support). We also need more fosters. You can email me at if you would like to get involved or have any questions.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Writing the book of my life

A Voice Through the Door
- Rumi

Sometimes you hear a voice through
the door calling you, as fish out of

water hear the waves, or a hunting
falcon hears the drum's come back.

This turning toward what you deeply
love saves you. Children fill their

shirt with rocks and carry them
around. We're not children anymore.

Read the book of your life which has
been given you. A voice comes to

your soul saying, Lift your foot;
cross over; move into the emptiness

of question and answer and question.

In July of this year I spent a week up north in Ely -- much needed quiet time for reflection. It was in presence of the wolves up north where I realized I had been holding back in writing the book of my life. I reflect on it on my fifth day up north in my writing.

Since that time I have intentionally been listening to the voices through the door as they guide me to write the book of my life. I am getting ready to embark on a new adventure. With both fear and hope as my friends, I lift my foot, and cross over into a new chapter in my life.

What is the book of your life?
And are you slowing down enough to listen to the voices calling through the door?

What I can tell you is that these voices began as whispers for me, and as I created space for them to sing, it was as if I could feel the birth of a forest in my heart -- and out of the forest emerged the most beautiful music of the voices and cries of the wolves. I feel the vibration of life in the rawness of the deep forest and in the spirit of the wolves. I feel the vibration of life in my memory of Shen and in the eyes of Missy. And the silent, pulsing vibration is what moves me inward, then outward into this world, where I carry in my heart an image of a gentle, compassionate, loving world for all living beings.

The wolves gave me a gift -- the Book of my Life with only the intro written. Through their spirit, they moved me to begin filling the blank pages and writing. I share with you photos of these magical beings in a video I put together.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Returning to center ....

I believe there is a spirit of fire, a spirit of passion that resides within each and every one of us. I believe in a kind, gentle and compassionate world -- where the innocent, resilient, loving and forgiving nature of animals can help us find meaning in our own lives. I believe we all want to belong. I believe we all want to know our lives have meaning and purpose, and that our footprint will be forever etched in the hearts of some living being, some purpose, some dream.

I also believe it's easy for us to get off track ... to hop onto a train that's traveling at lightning speeds -- where it's going, we don't know. It doesn't matter that the train isn't heading somewhere. What will derail us is that we believe we're heading somewhere, attached to a certain outcome, attached to a particular path. It's okay to be lost -- in fact, to be lost and to be okay with being lost and savoring the journey of possibilities, now that's freedom.

How is it possible for me to feel so clear in purpose, yet so lost? How is it possible for me to feel like I am bursting with love, yet feel so empty? How it possible for me to feel my heart tremble, yet feel my soul be still?

In Missy's eye i feel Shen's spirit. I return to center through Shen, through Missy. I return to a place inside of me where questions reside -- the answers aren't out there; the answers aren't in some book or person. The answers aren't even inside, only questions.

What's Not Here
- Rumi

I start out on this road, call it
love or emptiness. I only know what's

not here: resentment seeds, back-
scratching greed, worrying about out-
come, fear of people. When a bird gets
free, it doesn't go back to remnants

left on the bottom of the cage! Close
by, I'm rain. Far off, a cloud of fire.

I seem restless, but I am deeply at ease.
Branches tremble; the roots are still.

I am a universe in a handful of dirt,
whole when totally demolished. Talk

about choices does not apply to me.
While intelligence considers options,

I am somewhere lost in the wind.>

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

RESCUED: Dogs of Pet Haven

On July 21st, 2008 I met pet portraiture artist, Jessie, of Stray Dog Arts for the first time. I had reached out to her a month or so prior, by email, in hopes that we could meet for coffee/tea one day to discuss a possible partnership between Stray Dog Arts and Pet Haven. Little did I know how profoundly that day would change the direction of our lives both individually, and in friendship and partnership.

This coming Saturday will be Pet Haven's largest fundraiser of the year, our second annual Fall Benefit. Jessie has graciously donated to our silent auction a painting of Ode who was rescued from horrific abuse in July and taken into Pet Haven's foster program - Ode continues to touch and inspire so many of us.

Jessie is currently working on her latest series of paintings for an upcoming exhibition, RESCUED: Dogs of Pet Haven. The opening reception will be on November 13th at 7:30 PM at Cuppa Java, 400 Penn Ave S, Minneapolis, MN. I am lucky to catch glimpses of an artist at work, to be a part of her process while she prepares for this exhibition, and to "introduce" her to Pet Haven dogs she has chosen to paint. I am grateful she has chosen to partner with Pet Haven and to join us in being a voice for homeless animals.

She is an incredibly talented artist and her paintings reflect the spirit and essence of the dog she paints. As I get sneak previews of her paintings of Pet Haven dogs, I find myself moved beyond words -- my dream of having their stories told has come to fruition - not only through words, but through visual art. Through her paintings, Jessie is telling the stories of Koda, of Ode, of Jasper, Mandy, Spice Girl, and Peanut - her images capture and tell their story in a profound, powerful way, where words fall short.

Thank you Jessie for giving so much of yourself to the animals.

Thank you walking through a door that many choose not to walk through - there's a shadow side to the work of animal rescue, and there are also some harsh realities - i thank you for being brave. More importantly though, there is an incredibly joyful side to animal rescue [these Happy Tails will warm your heart].

Thank you Jessie for immersing your heart and soul into work that truly matters.