Ever walk by an interesting tree and wonder about it? How old
is it? Do animals live in its branches or inside part of its trunk? What
stories could it tell you about people who have walked by. Some trees are
called witness trees because they’ve seen horrible events… or maybe two people
got engaged under a tree. All of these are possibilities if a tree could tell
you what it’s seen or heard.
What is precipitating
this question for me? Recently there was a tree that fell across the walking
path behind my townhome. As I stood looking at this huge brown tree devoid of
leaves, essentially dead, it fell across the path, having fallen due to
excessive rain, I wondered about its life. It was a very large tree and yet during
a bad storm it was taken down. After many years of standing tall, its root
system gave way to old age and poor drainage. It was a product of a bad
Yet, this downed tree lying on the ground still had a story
to tell. I stood there and just looked at it. There were lots of holes where
animals could make a nest and live. Perhaps birds were born in its branches
when it stood tall. I’m sure that it provided shade to other smaller trees, to
animals that ran through the nearby vegetation as well as for people who might
be passing underneath. There are many possibilities of how this tree could have
been productive during its life. Even now in death, this tree will eventually
decay to nourish the soil around it to help other plans and tress flourish.
I’ve heard stories of witness trees. These are trees that
are normally over one hundred years old that were standing during revolutions,
wars, major events, hangings, or other atrocities. Or, on a happier note, there
are trees that have witnessed people falling in love, making babies, having
lively conversations or passing important information along. One can only
imagine what a tree might say, if it could talk!
take so many things for granted. Sometimes even the simplest things in life can
be really fun. This is an article about how we can miss the simple things in
our quest for the Holy Grail – that is, for the big things we think are more
On my recent trip to
Brussels, Belgium I had the opportunity to ride the train to Ghent. For the
locals, taking a train is no big deal. For me, each step of the journey was a jigsaw
puzzle requiring a complex analysis to figure out and once completed, a sense
of accomplished was attained. Anyone looking at me must have been amazed at how
much joy I was getting out of successfully procuring my 18 Euro roundtrip
ticket to Ghent and then actually finding the right train track, correct car,
and then a seat. Each piece of the puzzle coming together to accomplish the
first task – get on the train! I sat there so pleased with myself! Others must
have wondered why I was smiling to myself. I was so happy to just be able to
figure that much out.
it’s really not that complicated; it’s just when it’s a different country and
you have no idea where a place is, the concept of first or second class seat in
a special car and many trains travelling on a single track the whole thing
becomes more complex. Where I live in Washington, DC there are rarely more than
one train travelling on the track at a time. And if there is, I find it
difficult to tell which train is arriving. Now multiply this by very many trains
going to ever so many places all on each track and going in either direction,
one must decide, and quite quickly I might add to jump on the train. Trains are
on time and everything moves very quickly. One cannot stare at the trains and
wonder too long. People are jumping on with or without luggage, and it’s
important to get on and find a seat; unless it’s a reserved spot. Whew! So,
again, I was quite pleased with myself.
had briefly checked out spots to investigate once in Ghent. I was in Brussels
for the Tango Festival and had completed the 5 days of the program having
danced my legs off. I was sufficiently tired and could hardly get up the
morning of my trip to Ghent, yet, I was determined to ride the train! Ghent was
a good destination, being less than an hour and easy to maneuver, or so I was
told. However, when one is on foot, getting around can be a project.
there was the issue of which station to disembark. One of the websites
indicated one station while fellow travelers informed me that no, in fact it
was better to get off at a different station. So I complied with the advice.
After disembarking at the station, the next piece of the puzzle was to get to
the downtown or centreville. There were many trams running on tracks to take
people here and there. I had no idea which was the one I should take and. I
became a bit panicky until one of the attendants indicated that I could buy an
all-day tram pass inside the station. I was really having trouble buying the
tram ticket from the machine outside. There might be a button to push to get
English, but I had no idea of how to get there. Even for a bit more money it
was worth it to me to get the all-day pass so that I’d know that I could get on
the tram to get back to the station. It was only 7 Euros, so not a lot of
back inside the station I waiting in the line to buy the all-day tram pass and
with a bit of explaining was successful in procuring it. Yeah, step two
completed! Then I went outside once again and looked for Tram No. 1 that would
take me into town. Now I had to make sure I was going in the right direction. The
Tram was packed with people on this unusually warm Tuesday afternoon in June as
I watched the landscape change from the station through winding streets to the
centreville. Just that little trip was a bit of a sightseeing experience. It
all was a wonder to me.
arrival in the actual center of Ghent, I disembarked and realized that the main
sights I had in mind to see where nearby. I headed towards the canal and walked
along as many tourists were doing. I really felt like I was in Disneyland
except this was a real place. The United States is only a couple hundred years
old but this area of Europe dates back many centuries; this charming town had
cathedrals, churches, and other types of buildings dating back to the 15th
century. It was definitely a walk back in time. I loved it all! What a joyous
day, totally alone with no one to talk to but happy within myself.
I understood how the streets followed the canal I felt safe that I wouldn’t get
lost and began to wander around looking at this place or that for several
hours. Of particular note was the Castle, called Gravenstein of which I took
the audio tour. Whoever wrote the script was a real comedian and listening to the
voice describing stories of the goings on in the castle during its history made
me laugh. I must have been a sight myself walking around laughing to myself.
One fun story credited this Castle as having the first fireplace.
I got tired, I found my way back along the canal, like Goldilocks with her
breadcrumbs, took the Tram No. 1 in the opposite direction to return to the
station. Within minutes the train came to Brussels. The train system in Belgium
is amazingly efficient and very fast! I never waited more than a few minutes
for a metro or train even on Sunday.
arrived back at my hotel about 9pm very tired and ate a salad that I’d put away
in the room frig happy that I didn’t have to find some place to eat. Sometimes
it’s just nice to go into the kitchen and get something to eat and not have to
go out. As this was a hotel, the next best thing was to keep food in the frig
for one of my meals.
in all, I’d had a very good day filled with simple activities, yet quite
satisfying. I appreciated not getting lost, all the people along the way that
had said a word or two of guidance, and especially those that could speak
English! Sometimes the best things are very simple! As always, comments are
There is an old adage of how we look at life” do you see the glass as half empty or half full?” This is a common theme that plays out time and time again when looking at situations. How one sees things is always in the mind of the beholder.
Recently, I sent a photo to two friends while visiting family out in California of Palm trees with a mountain background taken during my early morning walk. The caption to my one friend was simply a good morning to her. I received a reply that the photo looked serene and peaceful. In other words, she had a positive response to an image that was pleasantly received. As my other friend lives in a northern climate still experiencing chilly weather, I captioned the photo that I was sending sunshine. His response involved questioning the temperature to which I told him over 100F… “an oven” was his response… he knows that I totally enjoy my morning walks in the sunshine because I don’t do it at home. Yes it’s a bit warm even at 7 am, but it’s so beautiful looking at the mountains and the Palm trees that it’s my favorite thing to do while out west. We don’t have Palm trees in Virginia.
So where are we in this story? My
first friend is a positive person about most things so it’s not so surprising
that she’d have a positive response to the photo I sent. She takes life well
and I enjoy being with her. She holds down an important management consulting
position and juggles being a Mom to two young adult boys. She’s a genuinely
My other friend tries to be a nice person too but he gets lost in the negativity of the world. As a result he sees the negative in little things that people do or say and in this case, he missed the beauty of the moment or the kindness of the act by over analyzing the situation. I still like him for he has some lovely qualities, but he struggles to get through life. Such a small thing like looking at a photo and deciding what you will see. But that’s the point.
It’s a decision how we will
interpret what comes into our mind. So will you see the glass as half empty or
half full next time? Try to catch yourself if you start to be negative. With
practise we can move into being more positive people and in the process we will
be happier too. Comments are always welcome.
It’s a beautiful spring day. The trees are blooming and look
refreshing and new. It’s warming a bit so that it’s not so cold as before. It
would be nice to talk a walk out in the sunshine.
I choose to think positive thoughts; to read my book on the fascinating history of the Templars in Portugal; to help others by mentoring and to do other volunteer efforts which bring me joy. I started assisting my university alumni with offers of mentoring and immediately had a taker… the very next day. It was a pleasure to help this woman assess her current career situation and how to move forward according to her desired plan. These are all pro bono sessions but they provide me a venue for giving back and that brings me joy.
An old project management colleague
contacted me to be interviewed for an article that he was writing and I was
glad to assist. The piece was on the value and impact of various certifications
and as I have several very unusual ones, he chose me to be included. It was fun
to participate and wonderful to receive a digital copy of the finished product
several weeks later. More joy came to me in helping him.
Those that chose to stay in a negative place will be left behind. I can only help so much for it drains me if there is nothing ever coming back, nor appreciation; just chaos left in the ashes of my attempts to be of service. Thus, to those that are negative energy I say that I must detach from you all. It’s just too oppressive.
For there to be a friendship, it must be a two way street. The
same holds true for a relationship. Both parties must acknowledge their
participation otherwise, there is nothing? It’s all just a fantasy. I care about all the issues that other people
have but no one wants to listen to me or care about what is going on in my
life. Am I too independent? Too willing to take on the world? At some point, I have
to say that it’s enough and I’m going to stop being the world’s baby sitter, or
mother or care taker. I have to look out for myself and have proper boundaries.
So if your mood darkens and you refuse the light that I
offer, so be it. I can do no more. I will not be your psychologist to figure
out what’s going on with you. Only you can decide you want to figure all that
out and then it’s part of your soul’s journey to take the road ahead.
So here is where we part company. I choose to take the high
road, be positive and follow my path to be of service. My goal is to help souls
one by one to be all they can be in order to raise the vibration of the planet.
But each soul must move forward in his/her own way and in their own time.
It’s your decision now. What will it be? Will you stay behind in the darkness or come with me into the light? Comments are welcome.
Have you ever wondered about the nature of a relationship
that’s not going so well? Perhaps there is arguing, conflict, constant
negotiations or other types of negative interactions. Most relationships are
with and between adults, but they can also be with children. There is another
category of people who never matured into a fully functioning adult and remain
very childlike, perhaps even referring to themselves as having arrested
development whether in jest or not. As I’ve
been told by my psychology-oriented friend, this type of individual most likely
wasn’t properly nurtured during the prime young years and as a result, missed
out on a type of personal validation that’s required to develop a healthy sense
of self; thus, the impact is that they never really grow up. In other words, an
individual who didn’t have a mother or father really present in their life
(perhaps physically but not emotionally for lots of reasons) can remain in an
immature or childlike state. The dynamic
is more complicated than I’m presenting but is simplified for discussion. There
are many people who do grow up to be quite well adjusted even without childhood
nurturing, myself being one of them. I simply recognized where love was missing
and did a lot of inner child work. However, I’m not the norm.
Don’t get me wrong.
My parents did love me, but they came from an era where kids were seen and not
heard, my opinion wasn’t valued, I was greatly criticized, and never made to
feel important unless I was achieving. Ah ha! And as a result, one learns to be
an A type personality to overachieve in order to please one’s parents. But now,
I’m getting into a slightly different dynamic. Here, the individual is taking
on very adult qualities and perhaps way too much responsibility. Possibly, it’s
the two ends of a spectrum of not getting one’s needs met as a child.
So as far as this discussion is concerned, we can refer to
individuals who never really attain a proper sense of self, a man-child or
woman-child. They appear in an adult body but when provoked they revert to
temper tantrums and outbursts just like a child. If you are unlucky enough to
interact with one of these immature people, you may find that you are in an
entanglement full of chaos rather than a more normal type of relationship.
Since I believe that everyone comes into our life for a
reason, what types of lessons can one learn from interactions from a man-child
for example? As I’m a woman, I’ve had the experience of dealing with a
man-child. In fact, I actually felt like I was caring for my child. As I noted
above, taking on too much responsibility and not wanting to take on any are
polar opposites and attract. Could it be that my life lesson was to learn not
to be so very responsible for everyone else by the universe giving me someone
who would simply take and take and it would never be enough? He was an empty
well that could never be filled with enough love because he felt that he wasn’t
good enough to be loved (never forming a positive sense of self-worth as a
child). No matter what I tried to do to help this person in terms of working on
a resume for him to get a new job; showing him how to earn money with odd jobs
by actually going to the job site and waiting for him while he working on a
friend’s electrical that I set up for him or any of the other caring acts I did.
I felt like a soccer Mom waiting for her child to play the game. I sat for
hours so that this guy could make some money so that he’d feel better about
himself. I also went through the motions of caring for him in other ways by
feeding him meals, giving him t-shirts, socks or other articles of clothing
when he needed them and helping him buy presents for his family because
navigating a huge store like Target was too overwhelming. I’ve never had kids
but really felt like I had one during my “entanglement” with this guy.
Eventually, he left town and I felt like I was losing my child.
Of course, I had to have a serious talk with myself about
why I felt that way and where it was coming from. After considerable reflection
I realized the lesson in it for me. It was about learning unconditional love
and being the divine feminine. Being my polar opposite, he opposed me in many
ways. To do what I did for him, even though it caused me great consternation
many times, was an act of pure love, unlike any that I had known before. He
taught me a lot in our months together and for that I’m grateful. I know that
our soul contract is now complete and I’ve done all I can for him, now
recognizing that it’s time to let go and allow him to survive on his own. Much
like a parent allows her child to be a teenager then grow up; of course, this
may be impossible for him at this point in his life.
It was an entanglement, not a relationship of equals. Now I
can stand back and see it for what it is. I have the power of analysis and so
am sharing it to help others understand their lessons if they find themselves
in an entanglement. There are many types of entanglements, but if one looks
deep the answer to why it’s happening will appear.
Have you ever been in bed and had ideas pop into your head?
Perhaps it’s the list of what to do that day or a shopping list of activities
that need to be done over time. Well, for me, I had an idea – that was almost
totally conceptualized creep into my waking moments around the early part of
this month and just wouldn’t let go. For days I had the same thoughts that I
should create a non-profit community group aimed at making the world a better
place using the energy of tango dancers. Ok, so why tango dancers? My two
passions are helping to make the world a better place – or more esoterically
put, raising the vibration of the planet; the other is dancing tango. The
creative idea that hatched in my head used both these thoughts – tango dancing
and bringing light to the world. No small task; or what many have told me when
I started to talk about it, “good luck with that!”
In terms of creating a community action group, I was totally
in unfamiliar territory. I seriously had no clue where to start, so I began
where I always do when I don’t know – I decided to ask other people who might
know. So just like any other creative project that I’ve tackled over the years,
I decided to do information interviews with key influencers, who could
eventually become stakeholders in this new venue. I selected friends, tango
dance friends, friends of tango dance friends, people that tango dance friends
knew, and so on. It wasn’t long before I had lots of people to interview and
plenty of, “good luck with that” answers as well as a few good pointers along
the way. I knew I would have my hands full with this activity, if it was even really
After about a week of
these interviews, I went to a tango dance wherein I realized that just the next
week, this particular organizer was holding an anniversary dance. I quickly
decided to hold a first fundraising asking permission to use their venue with
the caveat that it wouldn’t impact their collected fees. The organizer owned the space and was all
about helping charity especially if it didn’t cost them anything.
The next day I set up a Facebook page for my new group which
I named, Tango for Change. Within hours one
of my dance friends put a donate button on my personal page (not the new page),
OH MY NOW WHAT?? So I had to figure out what to do. When you’re new at
something, often times it doesn’t go smoothly the first time you go at it.
Alright, I just went along with it and “SHARED” the fundraiser which had been
created on my personal page to the Tango for Change page. This was a bit
awkward but it was sufficient to have a few people donate. I had to work at it
but by the end of the week, the initial modest goal of $200 was raised.
That night, the actual date of the fundraiser, I simply put out a decorated spaghetti keeper with a ribbon indicating the charity (a homeless shelter in the area) and with my encouragement around the room, another $83 was raised. Wow, it was hard work, but in less than 2 weeks the idea was hatched, created and implemented (with $283 going to my first charity). More on my new group as it progresses, but other than being exhausted from being emotionally trained, I’m pretty happy with the result. Now to keep the momentum going! (Of course, what you give out you get back multiplied!) So PLEASE like my new Tango for Change Facebook page to show support!!!
Wow, it’s hard to believe how
time flies! Yes I know what a cliché this statement is, but so true! I happened
to see an article I wrote seven years ago when I first brought Skylar into my
home as a rescue cat. I explained how he came into my life through a local pet
shelter, how he lost his excess weight by following me around the house in just
six months and how my other cat died soon after he arrived. It was all so sad…
losing first one of my fur babies to kidney failure (Hercules in April of 2011)
and then my female Judas in January of 2012. Skylar never met Hercules, and he
never really bonded to Judas so when she didn’t come home one day he wasn’t
upset. Of course I was. I’ve never had human children, but I almost felt that
Skylar was an intrusion as I just wanted to mourn my fur baby of 18 years. Yet,
I had to attend to him. He didn’t bond to me so easily either. It was a process
for both of us.
About 4 years ago Skylar had
his first major episode of really being sick. Although he had a tendency to
vomit his food, I assumed he had a sensitive stomach and rotated his food until
I found a brand and type he seemed to tolerate. In the process, he seemed
happier and his weight normalized. Then he had an attack of a bladder infection
that set up a major stream of vet visits. I felt like the animal hospital had a
swinging door. At the time, the vet I was using was very close by but the
various vets kept doing the same things over and over. Needless to say, the
bills I was paying were really adding up; that is, until another pet lover at
my aerobics class suggested I try a different type of vet – one that uses
Chinese Medicines. Dr. Chau turned out to be a lovely person who treated Skylar
according to both Western and Eastern medical disciplines. After some testing,
she found that he not only was in renal failure but he also had pancreatitis.
We started him on sub-q fluids a couple times a week and some Chinese medicine
pills, as well as antibiotics for his infection. It wasn’t very long before the
cat I thought was dying came back to life. He turned around in many ways. Somehow
he recognized that I was trying to help him even though he hated the fluid
treatments early on.
After about six months of this
process, he started to settle down about the whole thing and cooperated… not
fighting me so much. Each time I would take him in to see Dr. Chau, she’d say, “he
looks good for a dying cat!” Although she initially gave him 2 years to live,
he’s now well past the 4 year marker. So indeed, he’s doing well for a dying
Meanwhile, Skylar became more and more
attached to me, eventually coming over and wanting to sit near me. In the evening, he likes me to sit with him
while I watch TV. He always lets me pick the show as he normally sleeps through
it anyway. His new thing is to curl up between my legs as I lie on the sofa.
Sometimes he climbs up on my chest for a hug. It warms my heart when he does
this, as he was quite cautious for a very long time. I have to believe that the
little guy was badly treated during his early years. Since he’s a rescue, it’s
difficult to know exactly how old he was when he first came to my home, even
with the vet checking his teeth. I’m guessing that he was about 7 years and he’s
now with me 7.5 years making him close to 15 years old this year. This is
pretty amazing considering how sick he’s been over the years.
During the years that Skylar
has been with me, I’ve learned to give him prescription medications in addition
to the Chinese meds (all of which Dr. Chau has prescribed) to manage his
symptoms. What’s interesting about this situation is that I dilute each
medication to about 1:7 so that one might wonder how such a small dose could be
helping. Apparently, they are helping because without each one (and now there
are 4 plus the Chinese tea pills morning and night) as well as the fluids which
have increased to daily with the progression of his disease.
The photo is Skylar on my bed,
one of his favorite spots for sleeping. And more, recently, he sleeps curled up
close to me. I don’t know how long my fur baby has to live, but for now, I’m
his pet parent and he’s my little boy. We both seem to like it that way.
Inspirational memoir capturing a love that extends beyond the veil of death, of care-giving, of the ravages of Alzheimer's Disease as well as a widow's restructuring her life after the only man she ever loved was gone. Buy safely via PayPal