Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Mornings in St. Paul ....

Mornings arrive with Missy jumping on the bed and trying desperately to lay on my head, then moments later, up jumps Mister who is content to curl up and lay on top of my feet. Ahnung... well, sweet Ahnung with her independent, free spirit chooses to hang out on the floor and wait patiently till I get out of bed with the two rambunctious black pups. Mister always has to grab something -- a sock, a slipper, shorts --- anything to put in his mouth and carry down the steps. It's always a race to the bottom of the stairs between Missy and Mister. And of course, Ahnung saunters down the steps at her leisurely pace -- there is absolutely no rushing this girl :)

I would never have imagined our household with 3 beautiful big black dogs and a tuxedo kitty cat .... i love to watch their personalities shine through. Mister and Henry are the best of friends. I have never seen a dog and a cat play so hard and so well together. Then there's Mister and Missy ... these two can rough house and tear around our back yard like there's no tomorrow. And Ahnung, our most recent addition, is the wise, calm presence in our household. Even Henry who's normally skittish with any new animal, was approaching Ahnung within the first few hours she was here and now I have caught them sharing a dog bed :)

And as you can see, a common site is all 3 dogs sharing an extra large LL Bean dog bed. When I was contemplating on whether or not I should adopt Ahnung there was concern about adding a third big dog to the mix, about two female dogs being able to get along together, especially since Missy can sometimes act alpha-like (i know it's really insecurity on her part so she just tries to act tough at times ;-)) --- something in my gut told me that everything would work out just fine. There was, and continues to be, something very unique and special about the energy Ahnung emits that told me that everything would be okay and that everyone would get along just fine.

Ahnung's calm, confident and wise spirit somehow resonates with all who comes across her, both humans and animals.

Today, she is looking forward to "working" and spending time with at-risk youth at The Lab. You can read more about her first visit on their website. She's excited that an entire curriculum is being developed around her and she works to share her story and touch parts of the wounded human spirit that often remains untouched.

Everything in life happens for a reason. I have always believed that. We all have a purpose for why we are here ... i'm constantly figuring it out and my path is constantly evolving. I am grateful for that. I am grateful for all I learn from the wisdom, playfulness, resilience, and forgiving nature of animals.

We all have a purpose? We all have something inside of us that makes us feel alive.

When you look in the mirror what do you see?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Price and promise of citizenship

Today is a historical day. Today is the day Barack Obama is sworn in as our 44th president. Today is the day the first African American president takes the highest level of leadership in a country I have come to call home. Today is the day our new leader inspires us and challenges us to choose hope over fear.

Fourteen years ago, on January 6, 1995 I stood before a judge, along with fellow immigrants, in the federal courthouse of St. Louis, Missouri and took the Oath of Allegiance. That afternoon I renounced my citizenship to my home country of Thailand - a country where I was born and raised; a country where my roots were planted. As each word was spoken and left my mouth, there was pride and there was sadness.

“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same..."

I am especially proud to be an American today. My formative years in Bangkok where freedom was not a given, have led me to never taken freedom for granted. Today's inaugural speech and celebration filled me with joy and hope; it also brought back memories for me of a tragic time in Bangkok - the brutal massacre of innocent students in Thailand as they fought for freedom and democracy – October 6, 1976 – a day referred by Thais as Hok Tulaa. I remember hearing gun shots. I remember feeling the ground tremble as tanks patrolled the streets. I remember the deafening silence of Rajdamri road, the busy street on which we lived, as curfew was enforced across the entire city. [Bryce Beemer has written an eloquent piece on it titled Remembering and Forgetting Hok Tulaa - it explores the complex nature of an event so many Thais, myself included, try not to remember.]

Today, I am reminded of the risks and sacrifices made by so many and the lives lost. I am reminded today of my responsibility to take risks and make sacrifices to preserve our freedom.

I hold close to my heart words from Obama’s speech:

“… For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends -- hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism -- these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility -- a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world; duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

On paper, I am a citizen of the United State of America. In my heart, I am, and will always be, a citizen of the world. Today, I honor the roots of my homeland country Thailand. Today, fourteen years later, I renew my commitment and allegiance to a country I now call home. And today, I am grateful to live in a country where the distance and height of my flight depends solely on how far and wide I dare to spread my wings.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The pain of giving up a family member ...

At yesterday's Pet Haven dog adoption event I took photos of many of our dogs still waiting, still single, and still hopeful that someone will open up their heart and they will finally have a place to call home. Yesterday I also had the chance to meet Osso, a 6 year old shepherd mix. He arrived with his owner at a hectic moment during the adoption event. For some reason, despite the flurry of activity, I noticed Osso standing quietly by our adoption table. His eyes caught mine and his soul touched mine. I remember thinking "i wonder what his story is? why does he look so sad?" Three seconds later I was pulled back into the flurry of activity as I was asked a question by a fellow volunteer. Then 10 minutes later I am asked by Pet Haven's intake coordinator to come over and meet Osso -- he was being surrendered by his owner and being taken into Pet Haven's foster program. For personal reasons, and certainly not by choice, his guardian was having to re-home him. The deep sadness was not only in Osso's heart and soul -- i felt it deep in the heart of his guardian. It was that deep sadness that pulled at my soul even in the midst of a crazy adoption event; it was that sadness that pulled at me to look over to our adoption table and notice Osso when they arrived; it's that deep sadness that pulls me to write this post.

We went outside the Petco to take some photos and as I walked alongside Osso and his guardian, i could sense the pain. Moments later I saw tears falling down her cheek as she desperately fought back tears. It was so clear she loved Osso and because her love was so deep for her family member she knew it would be in his best interest to be re-homed. I wanted to hug them both and tell them it would be alright. Strangers meeting for the first time -- yet a connection so deep because we share a love for these furry four-legged companions who add so much to our lives.

I assured her that we/Pet Haven would take good care of him and we would love him as our own until he was placed into a loving, forever home. Osso is a very special boy and we /Pet Haven are looking for a foster for Osso -- would you be willing to foster him? If so you can email me directly at

Friday, January 16, 2009

Awaiting spring ...

This morning I find myself looking forward to spring and putting my running gear on and heading for the Mississippi River ...

I look forward to hanging out with the pups in the backyard without my fingers going numb after 10 seconds ....

For now... i'll settle for hanging out with our "kids" inside and watching the love story of Henry and Mister unfold ....

and Ahnung nap ...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

To love like the sun

The mail just arrived. I don't often look through the "junk mail" -- most of the time they make it straight to the recycling pile. For some reason today was different -- I perused, and in the stack of mail was the catalog for Wisdom Ways Center in St. Paul. The Hafiz quote on the front page really struck me ... his words, his poetry calling to me. I believe we are all capable of loving like the sun ... at least i'd like to think so :)

"Even after all this time
The sun never says to the earth

Look what happens with
A love like that,

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Ahnung's story in photos....

It's been a week now since we officially adopted Ahnung ... well, this morning she said it was time for me to put together a movie, so I did!!

She continues to be my north star. And she is now touching the lives of many others in her outreach efforts.

Thank you Ahnung.
Thank you Karen of Red Lake Rosie's Rescue for rescuing her.
Thank you Pet Haven for taking her in as a foster.
And thanks to my partner, Missy, Mister and Henry for welcoming her into the family!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The sun behind the clouds ...

I am hopeful this morning.
I can feel the sun rising in my heart, and emerging from behind the clouds.

This morning, it dawned on me ...

YES, to witness the sun rise and the sun set is without a doubt a magnificent sight. On a cloudy day, though, it can be an even more magnificent sight -- sometimes we have to remain in the murkiness of a cloudy day and the chaos and turbulence of our emotions. Sometimes we have to simply trust, to believe, to have faith ... that tomorrow will arrive, the clouds will pass, and YES the sun will rise again with all its glory, and the sun will set.... and in the darkness, we sometimes have to hold on tight to our north star.

I admit, it's hard to embrace the cloudy, stormy days. They are necessary though. And every day presents itself with new opportunities of growth for me. Every day I find myself in the ebb and flow of life. Every day its a process of holding on and letting go.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Black Dog ... Black Hole

On Saturday (January 3, 2009) we officially adopted Ahnung from Pet Haven . I felt like a proud Mama as I signed the adoption contract. This was certainly not planned, and I never dreamed that we would have 3 beautiful big black dogs living in our household with us..... the best things in life, however, are unplanned.

Fellow Pet Haven volunteers have teased me about my inability to successfully foster ... i end up adopting them once they make it into our home. Yes, that was Missy's story and Mister's story :)

They are right.... our home is the Black Dog ... Black Hole!!!

And that's okay, because in this Minnesota black hole there's a whole lot of love and slobbery kisses.... a terrific way to kick off the new year.

Happy 2009!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Love That Will Not Die

2008 was a year of tremendous growth for me -- it was year of living with more truth and authenticity than I imagined possible; it was year of uncertainty and paving new paths ; it was a year of taking risks and opening up my heart; it was a year of walking towards pain in order to free myself of some deep childhood hurts; it was a year of dreaming and soaring; it was year of deep and real connections.

I welcome the New Year and all it has to offer .... I share below what Pema Chodron writes in her book "Comfortable with Uncertainty" about the spiritual journey. I hope even some of it speaks to you. For me, I am learning new ways .... sometimes I feel like i'm floundering and i'm drowning, and I am learning that if I stop kicking and screaming and resisting, the rough waters begin to calm.

Here's to 2009 and a journey of moving towards the earth....

"Spiritual awakening is frequently described as a journey to the top of a mountain. We leave our attachments and our worldliness behind and slowly make our way to the top. At the peak we have transcended all pain. The only problem with this metaphor is that we leave all others behind. Their suffering continues, unrelieved by our personal escape.

On the journey of the warrior-bodhisattva, the path goes down, not up, as if the mountain pointed toward the earth instead of the sky. Instead of transcending the suffering of all creatures, we move toward turbulence and doubt however we can. We explore the reality and unpredictability of insecurity and pain, and we try not to push it away. If it takes years, if it takes lifetimes, we let it be as it is. At our pace, without speed or aggression, we move down and down and down. With us move millions of others, our companions in awakening from fear. At the bottom we discover water, the healing water of bodhichitta. Bodhichitta is our heart - our wounded, softened heart. Right down there in the thick of things, we discover the love that will not die. This love is bodhichitta (means "noble or awakened heart" in Sanskrit). It is gentle and warm; it is clear and sharp; it is open and spacious. The awakened heart of bodhichitta is the basic goodness of all beings."