Running with a Spirit Dog

So fellow travelers, a bit of serpentine luck derailed my plans for an important Friday evening meeting with some new friends.

serpentine art

A little photo art fun with the serpentine villain of the evening.


About forty new dogs were due to arrive at the rescue where I volunteer and I had signed up to help out the transport team greet them. It had been a demanding week at work, assisting students through mid-term Regents exams, end of semester projects and covering a constantly shifting schedule of assignments.  I was looking forward to welcoming the rescue’s new furry visitors, getting them fed, walked and settled in before their big adoption meet ups this weekend.

Unfortunately something called a serpentine belt gave out just as I was coming around a high angle curve onto a major highway. All I knew at that moment was I heard a loud thump, felt a sudden jolt and suddenly found myself fighting to keep the car from veering off the road. I had no idea what had happened. I honestly thought I’d hit a big chunk of snow or ice or worse, maybe an animal. Ninja driving mode kicked in. I managed to hold the vehicle on the road through the curve and guide it safely through merging traffic to the far lane of the highway. By then I knew I had lost the power steering. The battery and check engine lights both flashed to life on the dash board. It did not take long for the engine to start overheating.


Time to give my buddies at AAA a call. Trust me between my aging camper and my run of luck with various vehicles (this same car tried to ditch its exhaust system last year while I was on a road trip) I get full value for every dollar I spend on my Auto Club Membership.

Fighting back tears, I messaged the rescue to let the transport team know I would not make it in. When I got back home, I made a batch of hearty ham and bean soup, changed way too early into my pj’s and curled up with my own little rescue girl, Delilah

beansoup.jpg        bedtime15a.jpg

Homemade soup, a refreshing drink in my favorite Mickey glass and the company of a good and faithful friend.  Comfort at it’s best.

I slept restlessly, inspite of being exhausted. I woke much later than usual this morning so Delilah was pretty eager to get out to the yard for her morning patrol of last night’s critter tracks.

Steaming mug of coffee in hand, I stood by my ice covered fish pond listening to the bubbling song of the life sustaining aerators frozen into the surface. Hang in there my graceful friends, I thought and then realized I was probably talking as much to myself as to the assorted fish below the ice.

Suddenly, Delilah burst into a figure 8 run around the dog yard. It’s something she learned from Sox, the Shepard-Collie mix who left us for the Great Fields Beyond several years ago. When she first came to our home as a foster, she would sit in the center of the yard and bark with great agitation at Sox when he burst into the outlay running pattern. One day, instead of barking, she just took off with him. How funny it was to watch this spirited little black Chi-mix tearing around with her big brother as they herded imaginary sheep. Resident squirrels would chatter at them from the tall fir trees, birds scattered, dirt flew high until they would come to a sudden stop by the gate, panting and looking pleased with themselves.

Sox died suddenly one morning a little over five years ago. He was not quite eight years old and had shown no signs of any illness at his vet check a few months before. He simply collapsed on the living room floor one September morning struggling to breathe.  Our vets office told us come over right away and not wait for them to open. He died in in the car, his head resting in my lap on the way to the vet.


Sox,  in his signature “stair pose” photo by Emma Rahalski 2011

I will never forget the day some weeks after Sox died that Delilah first burst into the outlay run around the yard. The heartache and grief from his sudden departure was still raw yet there was Delilah racing around the yard as if he was right there beside her.

And in the very depths of my soul, where truth resides untouched by the doubts of this world I sensed his spirit was running with her. It was a sweet moment and, although not often repeated, it is a moment which brings joy to me often when I am most in need of it.

Thanks my friend for the visit this morning.  Bless you Delilah for running with his spirit and refilling my heart with joy.

delilah speaks



Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.


Poem: Target of Opportunity

So fellow travelers, one more connected post to share.

I’ve shared posts from Tom Atkins often, either here or on my own Facebook wall. His writing, both poetry and prose often give voice to thoughts and feelings with both clarity and directness I need. This post speaks to coming through the experience of negative attacks and moving beyond them.

Letting light in requires us to be vulnerable. It’s safer to shut down, but ultimately we have to open ourselves up again if we are going to thrive rather than simply survive. To minister with encouragement and genuine compassion we have to connect with others. The more we open our hearts the more light can get out as well as in.

Thank you Tom for this moment.

Quarry House

portholeTarget of Opportunity

In the midst of war, you hide your light
behind curtains and dark windows,
afraid of being seeing,
of becoming a target of opportunity,

always aware
that the enemy is close, waiting, seeking
to find your vulnerable places
in order to wound,

to keep you too weak,
afraid somehow that your light
diminish theirs,

or worse, might shine
in the dark corners of their soul
and reveal their truth for others to see, or worse,
forcing them to scrutinize.

But this war will end.
Light can only be hidden so long.
It is meant to be seen.
It is meant to expose beauty and pain alike,

to create paths and show the way
for others who are hiding their flickering candles
waiting for the wind, for their own wars
to cease.

So rise. Brush aside your thick drapes.
Find yourself, the beauty you dared not believe.

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If You Can’t Say Something Nice…

Denise is a master at speaking eloquently from her heart. This post says volumes about the conscious decision to be happy rather than engaging in a pointless battle to be right.

The View from Here

imageGrandma Schultz, Heavy D’s mother.
I hear my mother’s words so clearly,

Your grandmother always said, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

She would say this phrase when someone showed unkindness or lashed out at me in anger, and I wanted so badly to strike back in my pain at the attack…human nature, I think.

My mother and grandmother were right, though; when you give into the anger, you become just like the person who hurt you. Anger only begets more anger, and I don’t want to live my life that way.

I love the Buddha quote, “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”

So many people seem to hang onto anger like a religion. Stirring the pot and fanning the flames to draw others to…

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So fellow travelers, I was working on a followup to my last post, just because there were a few thoughts still rattling around my mid-year exam week addled brain.

I had a good beginning, all about how being in art class reminded me of the importance of perspective and how that’s a lesson which applies in daily life too. I got bogged down in trying to express what I wanted to say without sounding “preachy.”

So I took a break, walked the dog and lo and behold when I got back on my computer I found to my great relief all the thoughts I was tripping over had been gracefully and succinctly put together in another writer’s post of the day. Thank you Lisa Dingle for giving voice to the truth so many of us know in our hearts, feel in our bones and choose to wear as our traveling cloak for this journey we call life.

Which gives me the opportunity to post this haiku I had waiting in the wings

Sunrise or sunset

Beginnings or endings I

still follow the Light


A little experiment with some post editing effects.


Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.






Letting in Light

So fellow travelers, there are times on the journey when we encounter something which triggers such a strong response, we find ourselves reacting without thinking.

I had such an experience yesterday and it had me throwing around thoughts so distracting, I had to get them out of my heart and mind.  Early this morning, I wrote a post, put it up on the blog and went about my day.  Only something did not feel right.

Posting my thoughts did not quiet the dialogue running in my head nor did it lessen the intensity of my feelings.


Photo from the original post, feeling fenced in, reaching for the light

It was not until my afternoon walk with Delilah, still so unsettled I was talking out loud to myself (fortunately none of my neighbors were out walking today) that clarity prevailed. I deleted the post as soon as I returned from our walk.

I realized I had allowed myself to post something written from a mindset of angry judgement. I write from all kinds of emotional frames, its therapy for me. I do not believe I should publish everything I write just because that is how I feel at that time. Being honest and authentic does not mean subjecting my readers to emotional bile.

It does not matter how justified or righteous the anger I felt was and I am certain if I laid out the details of who said and did what most readers would agree with my assessment of who was “in the wrong.”

None of that matters. What is crucial is I became aware I had let the situation push me into a space so uncomfortable I was reacting from emotional instinct lacking integrity or compassion. Ironically that’s the same frame of reference the source of this issue was coming from. I found myself in a dialogue which veered further and further from my core values, making judgmental statements void of kindness and compassion.

Even in my worst moments, that is not who I want to be.

I am often amazed, alarmed even, at how quickly darkness can over take the best and brightest of souls. I am equally amazed at how the smallest shaft of light has the ability to pierce that darkness .

Still, that light has to be let in. Sometimes, sadly we encounter others who seem compelled to drive out light not only from their own lives but from the lives of others as well.  Their pain so defines them, they are unable to allow healing or joy into their own lives and cannot stand for others to be happy or whole.  When people reach out to them in compassion, those acts of kindness are belittled, often in ways which leave those who reached out feeling as if they have done something wrong. The cycle of anger and pain continues unless we consciously move beyond it.

We can acknowledge pain yet refuse to let it define us. Shadow gives definition to light but is not the source of light. Faith in goodness is what saves us from being consumed by darkness. Yet there are times when the most compassionate action we can follow is to remove ourselves from the cycle of hurt. When we stop feeding into that cycle, when we remove our energy, all that is left is the original source of hurt. Only then can they begin to heal and only if they choose to let in the Light. No one can make that choice for someone else. We must each choose darkness or light for ourselves.

I may wander into darkness as I stumble through life, but I will not remain there. I will never turn my back on someone truly seeking help, but I will not feed cycles of anger. The time I have given to me is too precious to spend on bringing Light where it is not welcome.  There are so many people seeking hope, searching for joy, eager to find the Light. Theirs are the voices I choose to listen for.


Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.


Winter Dogs

So fellow travelers, this beautiful photo popped up on my feed this morning.


Taken by Nancy Gallimore,  the joy she’s captured here warmed my heart (and slightly frozen appendages) this morning.  I posted a happy comment and then realized there was a haiku brewing in those words.  She graciously gave me permission to repost her photo.

Here is the haiku it inspired.


Glimpsed from a window

glowing with the Light of Love

Winter dogs at play


Nancy writes often about her work with rescue animals.  Her most recent adventure had a very happy ending something we both are all too aware does not always happen.  All the more inspiring to see Nancy’s dog so well cared for and loved.

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.



A Letter From Mom

Insight and wisdom on the challenges many with elders in their care will have to manage. Clear heartfelt words from a favorite writer and wonderful soul I am glad to call friend as well

tales you win

Mom on silly photo day at the memory care home where she lived. This was a very good moment.

It started with little things. Stories repeated. Tasks performed 15 minutes earlier, completely forgotten. A phone call to ask for directions to a destination she had visited a hundred times before. Just little things that were so easy to explain away.

But those little things kept tapping on my shoulder, nagging me to wake up. It was as if there was a little elf sitting on my shoulder urging me to speak up, telling me that soon, denial would no longer be an option.

I remember the day that my sisters and I had “the talk.” We had all noticed the little things individually, and they were starting to add up. Now it was time to admit that there was something wrong with Mom.

Together we approached Dad, fearful that he…

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Don’t lead with your wounds…

Profoundly moving words from Pamela Rickenbach, leader of Blue Star Equiculture horse sanctuary. The wisdom she shares in her writing comes from a true heart that has known great suffering and still reaches for joy and light. I am honored to share it here.

Yacu Colorina

unnamed-2When I first saw this picture, when it was taken last year I studied it. It was like I was seeing Paul for the first time. I remember thinking to myself, wow, what this man has seen. Paul was a life time first responder and later a real leader, a Fire Chief, like his ancestors. His great grandfather died in an accident with his Percheron team pulling a steamer over train tracks, the steamer exploded. This is the kind of thing Paul was made of, tremendous experience of the not so easy kind. Accidents, fires, disasters, extreme horrifying experience in some cases and extreme triumph in restoring order to devastation. Paul never talked about it, never. Not to me, maybe to others on his level, like Chief’s or other career first responders but never me.

Last week we had a group of Veterans visiting from the VA Hospital. They come…

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Winter Sunburst

So fellow travelers,  a hopeful haiku this morning with an image gleaned from the prolonged weekend snows, just a little affirmation life’s storms eventually pass and Light returns.


Clouds part snows abate

Fierce winds pause to catch their breath

Light and hope prevail


In moments like this I am reminded winter is often beautiful and I can learn to accept and even love the season for all that it is.

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.



Battle of the Lap

So fellow travelers, Lake Ontario continues to spread her fluffy white presence through the streets and by ways of our towns and villages.

The three day MLK Jr. weekend has been extended to a fourth day off by a snowday. It will mean some quick assignment rewrites for my teaching colleagues who have to wrap up the semester by Friday. Still,  I am truly grateful to avoid driving in the blustery winds and periodic white out conditions haunting my view from the big window over my deck.

After a round of shoveling, required to access the yard for the morning dog run, I have settled down to complete a few writing assignments of my own. Delilah immediately made it clear who wins the battle for the favored spot on this snowed in morning.


“Back off Annoying Thing.  This lap is taken. “
Delilah 1 : Laptop 0

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.